February 11, 2015

11 Feb 2015
Message: “Who Are You, Really?”

Preacher Larry

A couple days ago I was attending a men’s Bible Study (BSF) in Sioux Falls. At the end of the bible study we always have a lecture given by our leader. Last week our leader was sick so an assistant leader by the name of Jim Juhl gave the lecture. I had been thinking about some things to speak on for tonight already, but the Lord had not pin pointed it, so to speak. During the lecture that Jim gave, he said that “We are an average of the 5 people that we are around during the week!” At that moment the Holy Spirit had given me the topic for tonight’s message. Think about it. “You are an average of the 5 people that you are around each week.” WOW!! Where is my individuality? So I began to take my own circumstance/situation and analyze it. I am obviously around my wife everyday, but who else?? I’m retired. I don’t go to work and punch a clock everyday. Where do my influences come from? I have family members I talk with, but not necessarily daily. Well, there’s God. Talk to Him daily. Who else? On Weds there are the church members, of course, but there is a lot of time in between. There’s Mother nature – I got my horses – experience Gods creation. That’s a good influence. But wait a minute, how about the TV, the radio, the social media (Email, facebook, texting, cell phone). I wouldn’t call that a purely Godly influence. Maybe more of a wordly or secular influence. So if I add all that up what kind of an average do I come up with? The main focus for us should be to try and maintain a spirit of Godliness. The people and things that are around us, that we come in contact with, affect us. Don’t be so naive to think you are exempt from outside influences. God understands what we are going through and He is here to help us. He gives us guidelines, that if followed, will help us to be a Godly influence in the world you and I live in!! We all live in this world, but each of us exist in a world of our own family, our own community, our own workplace. That’s where we can make a real difference. We need to work at becoming more Godly, more Holy!!

Holiness isn’t a subject we hear much about these days. So, what does it mean to “be holy”? First, let’s understand what it doesn’t mean:
(1) It doesn’t isolate you from the world, it insulates you against its negative influences.
(2) It’s not a scorecard for deciding who’s close to God and who’s not. It’s having a heart that’s aware of your shortcomings and praying, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps 42:1 NIV). Holiness means to be set apart in a special and exclusive way, as in Holy Communion, where the bread and wine are set apart from everyday use, to honor Christ’s death. Or holy matrimony, where a couple promises to be faithful to each other, to the exclusion of all others. Chuck Swindoll wrote: “When I was…a …young husband serving in the Marines.. .eight thousand miles away from my wife, I knew Cynthia existed. I could read her letters and occasionally hear her voice on the phone, but I couldn’t see or touch her. I’d only the memory, of our standing together three years earlier before God and a min¬ister, who’d pronounced us husband and wife, setting us apart exclusively to each other, for the rest of our lives. We were wed in June 1955, but regardless of how long ago it was, we stood together, and committed ourselves to a holy intermingling of our lives. To be in¬timate with another woman, would break that holy relationship, that exclusive oneness. Remembering that, helped keep me faithful while we were apart those many months.. .and it still helps, forty-one years later!”
Life is like a maze; it’s easy to get lost. Pressure comes at us from every direction to keep others happy. We study the important people in our lives, trying to decide what they want from us and how to give it to them, and in the process, we lose ourselves. You need to stop and ask, “Who am I living for? Why am I doing the things I do?” Paul writes: “Having gifts… that differ… let us use them” (Ro 12:6 AMP). What has God called and equipped you to do?

Those who succeed at being themselves don’t allow others to influence them, because they’re led by God. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Ro 8:14 NKJV) Don’t be upset because people place demands on you. But it’s “your” life, take charge of it! The pressures you feel right now, may not be coming from others at all; they may be coming from your own people-pleasing instincts! Yes, there are times when we all do things we’d rather not do. We do them because we love others, and in so doing we show “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22). But that’s different from being controlled by your own insecurities, or the endless demands of others. When you try to become every¬thing, to everybody, “you” get lost in the process. Plus, when you live for people’s approval, you risk forfeiting God’s. It’s time you started praying, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Ac 9:6 NKJV). Once He reveals it to you, commit yourself to it fully, regardless of who does or doesn’t agree.
But for you to work toward being a Godly influence, instead of a worldly influence, you need to know who belongs in your life!! Earthquakes result from two tectonic plates on a fault line, shifting against one another, then lurching in opposite directions. And that’s what happens when you bond with, the wrong people. It’s why God instructed the Israelites, concerning the hostile nations in the Promised Land: “Those you allow to remain will become.. .thorns in your sides.” (Nu 33:55 NIV) When a relationship is not working, when your efforts to rehabilitate it, have failed, acknowledge it. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride, and admit that instead of lifting them up, they’re dragging you down. Releasing somebody, doesn’t mean they’ll never improve, it just means that, “God”, is better suited to the job. Be careful around those who are always trying to make you feel guilty, for not “being there.” Only God can “always”, be there! There’s a difference between helping somebody, and carrying them. Your help may actually be a hindrance. Why should they even “try”, if you’re always there to do it for them? Your need to be needed could be getting in the way of their need to grow. Step back and let them walk on their own. Not everybody will be happy when you do that, but they’re not sup¬posed to be.

Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Lk 6:26 NKJV). Don’t let the fear of criticism overwhelm your common sense. People don’t take confronta¬tions well, but this is a matter of survival.
***Now listen to this!!***
“Every relationship is for a reason, and a season. Discern those who belonged in your past, from those who belong in your life right now.”

Author Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years…except for the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” When it comes to choosing friends, Dr. Charles Townsend says look for:
(1) People who in¬fluence you to be the person God intended. “As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other” (Pr 27:17 CEV). Relationships are the tools God uses to do this. When you’re with somebody, ask yourself, “Do I like who I am when I’m around this person? Am I more open, loving and honest? Or do I not like what I see in myself?” Choose people who make you a better person.
(2) People who provide grace for the energy drain. When you’re empty you need to be refueled physically, spiritually, and relationally. So surround your¬self with friends who will listen, encourage, and be there for you.
(3) People who let you be real. “A friend loveth at all times” (Pr 17:17). The best relationships are those where you know you’re loved, you’re free to be yourself, and you can take off the cheerleading uni¬form, and be real about the difficult aspects of life. There’s comfort and normalcy, in friend¬ships where you can be authentic.
(4) People who help you grow in faith. You need friends who encourage you to pray, read the Bible, and help you to see the “big picture” con¬cerning what’s important in your life. Ephesians 4:16 talks about operating as a body: “All the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to help the whole body grow and be strong with love” (NCV). Don’t try to do it alone. Reach out to friends who’ll reach back.

Take the initiative. Don’t wait to be introduced. Say hello and get the other person’s name. If you’re naturally shy, it can be hard taking the first step. But the chances are that the other person feels the same, and when you start talking you’ll find things in com¬mon.
Take a risk. If you like somebody, go a little deeper and mention a small struggle, fear, or disappointment you’ve experienced. It’s called “manageable risk,” and it lets you gauge how the other person responds. If they’re caring and identify with what you’re say¬ing, that’s a good sign. If they shut down, try to fix you, or act critical, it may be time to move on.
Invite them to join you. If everything else works out, exchange phone numbers and invite the other person for coffee or lunch. Then go for a second meeting and give it a little time; that way you’ll know if it’s a friendship worth developing.
Go where people hang out There are lots of places to connect, like church, the gym, school, a play group, or volunteer service. Be willing to leave your comfort zone and try new situations.
Remember that God uses all kinds of friendships to fulfill His purpose. One prominent preacher says: “There are friends who were instrumental in my blessing, although they never embraced or affirmed me. These are the ‘Judas sector’ that exists in the life of every child of God… the ones who cause you the most pain. They wound…and betray you, but through their betrayal God’s will can be executed in your life.” Ask God for a friend, then go out and make one! Remember that, “To have a friend you must be friendly!”
The focus of tonight’s message has dealt with how you can be influenced by things around you. But in turn God wants us to be a Godly influence on others. I want to end this message with a story about influencing children, mainly because as a Grandparent they are so special!! It’s called “Be Their Guiding Light!”

Every child, including yours, is born “lost” into a world of moral and spiritual darkness. So parents, grandparents, your most urgent responsibility is to be their guiding light. Paul Harvey told of a hard-drinking father who left his adolescent son in a pickup truck and went into a bar for a drink. Two hours later, Dad lumbered back to the truck, finding his boy missing. Later, in the bar, he found his son in the company of a couple of inebriated young hooligans who’d gotten him drunk. In the ensuing fight with them Dad ended up bleeding on the floor, his distressed son kneeling over him, pleading, “Please don’t be mad at me, Pop. I just followed you!”
We all follow someone, hoping they know the way. The Bible says, “Ahaziah son of Ahab…did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother” (1Ki 22:51-52 NIV). Our children may not follow our advice, but they will follow our example, whether good or bad. We are called to be signposts at their crossroads; road maps in their confusion. Paul encouraged his spiritual children, saying, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1Co 11:1 NIV). You don’t need a college degree in parenting to shine at home. Embracing and living out Christ’s teaching each day qualifies you to be the best parent you can be! “A righteous man who walks in his integrity—how blessed are his sons [and daughters] after him” (Pr 20:7 NAS).
So it comes down to this. Who are you, really? Are you the influencer or just the influenced? Are you a Godly influence or a Worldly influence? Take this week and figure it out. Because no matter what you say or what you think, somebody’s watchin’!!