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13th July 2014
Jesus says his followers are to be salt and light in the world – people who influence and affect society by reflecting the goodness of the Kingdom of God.
Whether we like it or not, we all influence those around us. The question isn’t whether we influence – it’s how we influence: is it good or bad?
In Genesis 37 we read the beginning of Joseph’s story. He was called as a teenager to have influence. We see how his whole family let negative things creep into their lives and affect how they influenced others.
For example, Joseph’s father, Jacob, let his influence be affected by favouritism. He had 12 sons but he made just one robe, giving it to his favourite son, Joseph. Jacob could’ve influenced all 12 of his sons, but his actions hindered his influence.
Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. They saw their father’s favouritism and they hated Joseph for it. They weren’t secure in their father’s love, so they felt threatened by Joseph’s dreams to the point that they discussed killing him!
Whether it’s in our natural families or church family, we are called to be brothers and sisters who influence positively by affirming, honouring and encouraging our siblings.
Joseph’s brothers wanted to pull him down, but as followers of Jesus we need to make sure we don’t pull others down but instead push them into their dreams. When someone you know is elevated – maybe they even get a position you wanted – how do you respond?
God loves each of us equally, without favouritism, with none who is second best; God knows you by name and you are as special to Him as anyone else.
As for Joseph, his influence was impeded by bad timing! Joseph had heard from God, but he needed wisdom in how to handle what God had said. He could’ve processed it just with God, or just with one of his brothers, first, but he rushed in and told them all. And as soon as he said it, his influence stopped.
When we carry amazing dreams, we need to be aware of timing and of how we handle and steward what God says. The key is holding onto God through it all – through all seasons of life.
Jesus is the greatest influencer there has ever been. He influenced for awesome good, promising that through Him all the nations of the world would be blessed, healed, delivered and, ultimately, that through Him we can be saved and have an eternal relationship with God our Father in heaven.
But before it got good, it got incredibly bad, with Jesus being despised, rejected, persecuted, betrayed, beaten and killed on a cross, carrying the sins of humanity.
Jesus was totally loved by the Father, like Joseph was loved by his father. But people were jealous of Jesus; He was disowned by His brothers; He was betrayed, sold and handed over, like Joseph. But Jesus has risen! He has been elevated to the highest place, with salvation available to all who call on his name!
Jesus has influenced us. Now He calls us to influence others, so whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!
To listen to 'Immature Influence' sermon and download the life application questions, click here.
Posted by Santino Hamberis
23rd March 2014
Read Galatians 5:16-25
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandfather about a battle that goes on inside each one of us, between two wolves – one is bad; the other is good. The grandson asked: “Which one wins?” And the grandfather answered: “Whichever one you feed!”
Posted by Santino Hamberis
3rd January 2014
Even as I clink my champagne glass and take a sip on the stroke of midnight, most New Year's Eves I find myself in the midst of a slight malaise. It is partly the season – miserable weather and too few hours of sunlight – but it's also the mingling of hope and disappointment: hope that this year I'll stick to all the goals I set for myself; disappointment that I probably, actually, realistically won't. I've become so used to the cycle that I feel the disappointment even as I'm setting the goals, and I already anticipate feeling the same way 12 months down the line when I haven't changed as much as I hoped.
But on January 1st I read what may well be the most liberating and encouraging blog on New Year's resolutions that I've ever read. Entitled Ringing in the New Year, it begins:
"It's that time of year again – time to ring in the New Year with dramatic resolutions fuelled by the hope of immediate and significant personal life change."
The all-too-common disappointment I experience, along with many others, may actually come down to a culturally-corrupted, X Factor-styled "big drama Christianity" that promises radical change overnight, ignoring that little doctrine known as sanctification or, in other words, the effort-required, blood, sweat and tears process of becoming more Christ-like.
"...Biblical Christianity – which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart – simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change. The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart and life change is always a process."
Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't expect deep, lasting change. Much the opposite. It challenges me to appreciate the little steps – sometimes so teeny-tiny that no one else could spot them – that come when I daily access the grace that is sufficient for me, exercise my faith as small as a mustard seed, and choose God's ways rather than my own. Realising that these small steps add up to a great journey that takes me "from one degree of glory to another" (2 Corinthians 3:18) helps me keep my eyes on the bigger picture and remember that there is One more committed to my transformation than I: the Author and Perfector of my faith!
"You see, the character of your life won't be established in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. Your legacy will be shaped more by the 10,000 little decisions you make in 2014 rather than the last-minute resolution you're about to make."
So this year won't be the same old because I'm approaching it differently: I'm still hoping for change, but this year I'm resolving to make 10,000 small steps in the right direction and, as I do so, to relish one degree of glory at a time...
Read the full Ringing in the New Year blog by Paul Tripp here.
Image: 'I always know how warm it is!' by minxlj
Posted by Natalie Williams
9th September 2012
Many of us have enjoyed watching the London Olympics. It's been so exciting to see the world's best athletes here in Great Britain. These athletes train day-in, day-out for four years in the hope of winning an Olympic medal. They push themselves hard, they avoid certain foods and they give up hours and hours for what culminates, in some cases, to just 10 seconds on the track or field or diving board. What keeps them going? They have their eyes on a prize that has great value.
The apostle Paul uses the picture of athletes competing to describe the Christian life. He worked so hard because he was committed to seeing souls saved, and he instructs us to train and run as those who want to win the race, not come in second: we're not here to make up the numbers – we are here for a purpose.
None of the athletes at the Olympics just turned up and ran. To compete at this level they dedicate their whole lives to it, letting it consume them. Olympic athletes do this to gain a crown that will last just four years before they have to compete again to regain it. But we are to train and run after a prize that is eternal! For athletes, it is four years of sacrifice for a moment of success; for Christians, it is one brief moment of sacrifice compared to the eternal reward we are running for!
The Christian life is not supposed to involve wandering around aimlessly, nor putting in lots of effort but in no effective direction, nor putting in no effort and wondering why we are finding it so difficult to keep going! The apostle Paul said that he beat his body, making it submit to him – he practised self-discipline so that he wouldn't be disqualified and he took responsibility for himself. Sometimes we can assume that because we've been baptised, take the bread and wine, and share in community life where the Spirit is present, we have arrived and are all set! But we mustn't become complacent. The apostle Paul warns us from Israel's history to be careful not to be like the Israelites, many of whom saw amazing things but were not individually transformed.
We're foolish if we think we can fulfil God's purposes for our lives without thoughtful diligence and commitment. Growth in the Christian life is not automatic! If you go into strict training, it will impact your diary, it will mean giving up certain things and taking up other things. It will involve sacrifice – but a sacrifice that pales in comparison to the great reward at the end!
Verses: 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5
Food for thought:
Posted by Paul Mann