What Influences Us?

Are you influenced by your friends?  Or are you influenced by scripture?
The former makes us feel better, because our sinful nature loves to be accepted by others, and the pack mentality takes over.  The latter will often make us unpopular and hated by many, and cause us to stand alone, but consider this:
How many times have you questioned a decision that you made by following others?  (In my case MANY)
And how many times have you questioned a decision that you made to follow what scripture says?  (In my case zero)

1 Corinthians 15:33 says “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

We cannot hang around with the world and not be influenced by it.  If you abide near sin, it will eventually beat you down and change you.

2 Corinthians 6:14 says “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Can we communicate with unbelievers? of course.  We should try to point everyone toward Christ, but when we spend much of our time with sinners watching them sin, ultimately the sin will influence us and pull us in.  If we say that we will just watch, and never take part, we are deceiving ourselves.  Solomon who was known as the wisest man that ever lived thought that he could do this, but scripture says in 1 Kings 11:4 “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.”
So even the wisest man that ever lived could not  be around unbelievers, living in their sin, and stay true to God.  We are wholly influenced by what we spend our time doing.  Do you spend your time following scripture and seeing what God says about things?  Or do you spend your time following friends and seeing what they say about things?  Following friends will cause us to fall repeatedly.  Following scripture will not only keep us from falling, it could also keep our friends from stumbling who are influenced by us.  Every person in the world is influenced by something, so let’s focus on the Influence who never fails.  If we can be an influence to anyone, let’s make it an influence of following God.

John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

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If Character Matters

If the entire world turns to sin, I desire to be like Noah

If I face an unbeatable giant, I desire to be like David

If the whole world is worshiping false idols, I desire to be like Elijah

If I’m asked to make an unthinkable sacrifice, I desire to be like Abraham

If the world tells me I can’t serve my God, I desire to be like Daniel

If my people face a great evil, I desire to be like Esther

If I face an angry mob, I desire to be like Stephen

If I find myself unjustly imprisoned, I desire to be like Paul

If I’ve sinned so great that I feel useless, I desire to be like Peter

If my family turns against me, I desire to be like Joseph

If I make excuses for why I can’t, I desire to be like Moses

If people need a leader, I desire to be like Joshua

If my Pastor needs a faithful companion, I desire to be like Luke

If I lose everything I have, I desire to be like Job

If I am made a king of a wicked nation, I desire to be like Josiah

And above all of these, and though I will surely fail, I desire to be like Christ

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Is your faith blown by the wind or have you set the Anchor?

How strong is your faith?  Is it easily driven wherever the wind blows, or have you set the Anchor and it remains firm?

James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

If our faith wavers and can be blown away by a small breeze then it is basically worthless.  If we don’t have something firm to hold on to, we will constantly be in a state of flux.  We will be up one minute and down the next.  The only way to remain firm is to grab on to something solid that never wavers.  We have an Anchor that we can grab onto and be certain that it will never move.  This Anchor is the Word, the Word which anchors to the Rock of Ages.  This is an Anchor and a Rock that is immovable, indestructible, stronger than any other steel and harder than any other rock.  The author of Hebrews writes:
Hebrews 6:19 “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil”
Our life is like a floating ship, lots of ups and downs, and in danger of being lost at sea.  But God has given us the Anchor that keeps up from drifting away, the Anchor that holds us, the Anchor that saves us, and the Anchor that reassures us when we are afraid.  Fear not and remain steadfast in the face of the wind, because the Anchor holds!

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If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit

walking-in-the-spiritGiving someone a material gift is certainly a wonderful thing but there’s a greater gift that you can give to them…. The fruit of the Spirit radiating out of your daily walk.
Galatians 5:22-23 lists these fruits “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”

Material gifts are great, and can be shared, but material gifts can only be possessed by one person at a time.  But when you share the fruit of the Spirit it multiplies so that multiple people can possess it at once, and the more it’s shared the more it spreads. Let’s break down each fruit listed and the original (Greek) definition.

Love (Agape):  Agape love is the best kind of love. It is an unconditional selfless love, that serves only the person that it is given to, with nothing expected in return. How great would it be if more people showed others love with no expectation of obtaining anything?

Joy (Chara):  Chara is cheerfulness or great delight.  Joy is something that can spread rapidly to others.  When we are around joyful people, it generally lifts our spirits and we become more joyful as well.  The world would be a much better place to live with more joyful people.

Peace (Eirene):  Eirene means a restful quietness.  This is a peace of knowing that God is in control.  Knowing that there is no need to worry because God is sovereign.  This is a true relaxing peace of mind.  You can spread this to others by being calm during trials, and by fully placing your trust in God. This will lead to others asking you how to obtain this trust.

Longsuffering (Makrothumia):  Makrothumia means patience.  Patience to wait upon God.  To be able to suffer without complaining.  To remain joyful in the face of trials.  Longsuffering is one thing we see very little of in today’s world.  We as Christians must ask God to give us this patience so that we can show the world that we are different than the world.  We have a faith that God will help us to overcome any trial.

Gentleness (Chrestotes):  Chrestotes means kindness.  A kindness that is happy to see others doing well.  It is the opposite of envy.  To celebrate with someone rather than to be jealous of them.

Goodness (Agathosune):  Agathosune means virtue.  It means being a genuine person.  It is the opposite of being a phony.  We should mean what we say and say what we mean.  Don’t just say good things, be good things.

Faith (Pistis):  Pistis means assurance, loyalty, utterly reliable.  It means you should be principle driven.  Your faith should be so steadfast it cannot be broken.  You must be true to your word and unshakeable in the truth of God’s Word.

Meekness (Praiotes):  Praiotes means humility.  We must be humble and never praise ourselves.  We must forget self and serve God.

Temperance (Egkrateia):  Egkrateia means self control.  We must not lose our temper easily.  We must be able to control ourselves and make good decisions by God’s wisdom and principles rather than to be driven by an out of control anger.

How much better would this world be if we shared these fruits with others?  Let’s make a decision to study God’s Word, and do our best to share these fruits of the Spirit that God puts within us as Christians.  The flesh and the Spirit are in a constant war with one another.  Let us remove the lust of the flesh.  We can either share our lusts or share the fruits of the Spirit, we cannot do both.  “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Galatians 5
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

Let your Ears be bigger than your Mouth

James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”

Big EarsWe have become a society where we speak before we listen, and it all starts at the top.  Our leaders of our country, our state, our church and our homes shut their ears and run their mouths before they even know what they are talking about.  When the leadership fails, society follows suit.  Society is only as good as its leadership, and our leadership is in ruins.  We no longer have leaders who speak with respect.  Our leaders default dialog has become name calling and insults, and society has followed suit.  No one listens to the other, they close their ears and try to shout over the other, and the result is that nobody is heard.

Do most leaders today surround themselves with critical thinkers who will challenge them when they see something wrong, or do they surround themselves with people who only parrot what they say and tell them how great they are?  We are a society of out of control egos with closed ears and big mouths.  How do we stop this?  We must follow leaders who are swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.  We must BECOME leaders who are swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.  This starts in the home, Spouses must start listening to each other instead of shouting over each other.  We must show respect for one another and have a dialog rather than a shouting match.  Disagreements are always going to happen, but you have two ways to handle them.  You can fly off the handle and begin shouting where nothing gets accomplished and things become worse, or you can have a reasonable dialog, and listen to each other, and find common ground, and grow closer together.  If we start this in the home, it will translate into society as a whole.  The world can be changed and it begins with ME!

Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Proverbs 12:12 “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
Proverbs 18:7 “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
Proverbs 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

The Epidemic of Anger

Diseases spread around the world at a rapid pace but nothing spreads into an epidemic as quickly as anger.  Look around and see.  You drive down the road and see people making obscene gestures at others while screaming and honking.  You go to a child’s sporting event, which should be an enjoyment for your child, and all you hear is parents screaming at officials and coaches in anger.  You go to a crowded shopping center and see people fighting over items.  You turn on the news and you see politicians trying to make you angry enough to hate their opponent.  You look inside homes and you see spouses and children screaming at each other.  Anger is everywhere, it’s an epidemic.  It is even inside our churches.  Why has it become so?  And how do we stop it?  The first step is looking in the mirror and changing ourselves.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Anger
Anger in Marriage:  I believe the road to every divorce begins with one word of anger from one spouse to the other.  This leads to the other spouse getting angry because of the original angry word, and the anger spreads, so now instead of one angry person we now have two angry people.  And then those two people carry that anger over to their workplace, to their church, to their children, and then that anger spreads even more.  It’s a vicious cycle that keeps feeding itself.  If you want a closer relationship with your spouse, cut the anger out, and speak with kind words.  You can have disagreements without feeding anger.  Have a discussion out of love and respect for one another and you will get what you want 1,000 times more often than if you come in anger.  How can we expect someone to show us love and respect if we don’t do the same to them?  Before you snap at your spouse, take a moment, step back, and put yourself in their shoes.  Ask yourself how you would want them to respond to you.  Would you want them to snap at you in anger? or would you want them to come to you in love and respect, and ask that they do something differently?  Tone of voice can diffuse any situation or make it worse.  The choice is ours.  If you choose to speak in anger, it ultimately is going to come back to you in anger, and make your life worse as a result.  If you choose to speak in love and respect, then more than likely love and respect will come back to you, and your life will improve.

Anger in Children:  Parents who complain that their kids are grouchy and disrespectful probably need to look in the mirror.  Our kids are only a reflection of us.  They learn almost everything from us, including behavior.  If we are grouchy and snap at them in anger, they are going to pick up that behavior.  And that leads to them being angry with you, which leads to you being even more angry at them, and anger begins feeding itself once again.  The bible says in Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”  If you want your children to be kind and respectful to you and to others, then you need to be kind and respectful to them.  If we do this, our relationships with our children will grow and be filled with love and respect for one another, instead of being filled with arguments and disrespect.  Discipline is great, but should always be done in love, never out of anger.

Anger at friends, family and neighbors:  Matthew 18:21-22 says “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times:  but, Until seventy times seven.”  These days we don’t even take Peter’s suggestion of 7 times.  We say one strike and you are out.  You have offended me once and I’m never going to forgive you for it.  What would happen if we heeded Christ’s words and forgave our brothers and sisters 70 times 7 times?  How much better would this world be?

Spread Anger or Spread Joy?:  We as Christians are to be the lighthouse of this world spreading God’s love to others.  We cannot do that if we allow our anger to rule our lives.  1 John 4:20 says “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  Our anger could certainly block someone from seeing Christ.  Will you go around frowning? or will you go around smiling?  Will you count your blessings? or will you count your enemies?  The choice is yours.  I am pledging to count my blessings, and not my enemies.  Who will join me in changing this world one person at a time?  It begins with YOU!
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I leave you with some great scripture on this subject.  I urge you to read them all.

James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Proverbs 29:11 “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

Proverbs 19:11 “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

Proverbs 15:18 “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”

Colossians 3:8 “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”

Proverbs 14:17 “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.”

Proverbs 16:32 “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:”

James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

Proverbs 12:16 “A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.”

Proverbs 22:24 “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:”

Proverbs 29:22 “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”

Luke 6:31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

James 3:3-6 “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.   Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”

Psalm 37:8 “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”

Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Proverbs 15:5 “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”

Marriage: The First Covenant

Marriage: The First Covenant

If marriage was easy, it would be worthless, and if marriage wasn’t precious, Satan wouldn’t use all of his power to attack it.

It today’s world the most attacked institution on this earth is marriage.  Why is Satan doing so much to destroy the marriage covenant?  Why is marriage so important?

Marriage is the very first covenant made between man and God:   Genesis 2:23-24 says “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

The marriage covenant is the foundation for the relationship between man and God.  It was the first thing upon which God built mankind.  If you take out the foundation of a building, the building will fall.  This is why Satan’s primary attack is on the marriage.  He knows that if he can destroy the sacred marriage covenant, society falls into his hands of destruction.  We must be vigilant to protect our marriages because Satan is powerful, and he uses the lusts of our flesh to tell us marriage is old and outdated and doesn’t mean anything anymore.  We must keep our eyes fixed upon God and pray for Him to give us strength to resist the temptations that Satan puts before us.  We see marriages failing at a rapid pace, and because of this, we see society falling into darkness and destruction.  This darkness and destruction can be traced directly to the chipping away of the foundation of marriage.  Be vigilant my brothers and sisters, and pray for your spouse, and be a help to them by grabbing their hand and bringing them before God every day.  Don’t let Satan and the world define marriage.  Look to God who designed and created this perfect institution upon which he built all things.  There’s no greater gift to a man from God, than a biblical marriage, where a husband and wife follow God together.

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