Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Exercising Influence


Luke 22:42  Jesus said, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

There are two facts of life which we cannot change. These two facts of life often present us with great challenges and at times even greater hardships. However, since these two facts cannot be changed, we must find our place of service and learn to live with the influence God gives us.

What are the Two Facts of Life which we cannot change?

1.   God’s sovereign will
2.   Man’s God-given right to choose which master he will serve

These two facts are forever settled in heaven. It is possible to thwart the hope of God and to force a person to act contrary to their own desires, however these things do not change God’s will nor man’s heart. Just because God allows change does not mean He has changed His will.

I offer for example the account of Balaam from Numbers 22ff. At heart, Balaam served the god of money and was willing to compromise his righteousness a little here and there to gain increase.
·        At first God told Balaam to not go with the messengers
·        Balaam kept asking God because the situation kept looking better and better for him financially … Balaam’s god kept enticing him
·        Finally God said to Balaam, “Go ahead and go …” (Go ahead and do what you want but know this, ‘My will has not changed’ … verse 22)
·        Balaam was so happy to begin his new adventure until he met the angel of the Lord standing in the way planning to kill him.
·        Balaam, like Jonah, was willing to change his mind but not his heart
·        God allowed Balaam to go against God’s will, and while technically Balaam kept God’s will on some levels, he transgressed God’s will on so many other levels and made himself money and a name but in the end, many years later, it cost Balaam everything, including his life.
·        Just because God changes His mind does not automatically mean He has changed His will. To be right we need embrace His will.

God’s will is a reflection of His purpose and the unfolding plan He has chosen to accomplish that purpose. It is said: “God’s Word is His Will and His Will is His Word.” This is absolutely true in every respect. Peter rightly explains the will of God for us in:

2 Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Recognizing the fact that God has a will and that every man has a right to choose the god he will serve – what then is our place in this world?

Our duty on earth is to influence both God and man to fulfill the Will.

Two great questions arise from this truth:
1.   How can I influence God to fulfill His own will in the earth?
2.   How can I influence others to fulfill God’s will for their life?

Allow me to set the stage for what we are about to read from Numbers 14. By this time the Children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt and were camped in a wilderness at the edge of the Promise Land. They had all heard the Word of God from Moses but as yet most of them had not committed themselves to the Will of God. Perhaps this is where many people, maybe even some of your family members are today. They have heard the Word but are not committed to the Will.

God clearly wanted the Children of Israel to receive their promised inheritance in the Land of Canaan. This was God’s will and in order for God’s plan to work the Children of Israel would have to trust God, move forward and stand up against their enemies. Some of the leaders who were not fully committed to God’s Will influenced their families to disregard God’s instructions through Moses. Instead of following the leaders that brought them out they were influenced to choose new leaders who could never take them in. It is amazing what a little influence can do … At any rate, even with all His patience, God was angry and about to act -

Numbers 14
4  So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt."
5  Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
6  But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes.

I have a question: Who were Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb trying to influence? The answer: God. They were not trying to influence or impress the people. Oh no … these actions were the actions revealing the heart of someone who cares. Even though these 4 men had been rejected as leaders and indicted in front of the whole congregation, they still had a heart for God’s Will and they wanted God to please fulfill His Word in the lives of the people and not forsake and remove them from His Will.

When you have lost influence with others, you may still have influence with God.

Numbers 14
10  And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel.
11  Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?
12  "I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they."
13  And Moses said to the LORD: "Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them,
14  "and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.
15  "Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying,
16  ’Because the LORD was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.’
17  "And now, I pray, let the power of my Lord be great, just as You have spoken, saying,
18  ’The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.’
19  "Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now."
20  Then the LORD said: "I have pardoned, according to your word.”

If we were to continue to read the account we would find that even though God changed His mind He did not change His Will. God was determined to have a people in the earth who would trust and follow Him so that He could fulfill the promises He made to Abraham and the purposes to which He first created man.

Nonetheless Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb influenced God through earnest prayer to fulfill His Will. We too have influence with God by those same means. When we earnestly pray, God hears and is moved to work His Will in the earth. Even God likes to be encouraged.

What about the people? How can we influence our families, friends and even our enemies to fulfill the Will of God for their lives? Much the same way as we influence God … with our earnest, faith-filled words …

The reason these families of Israel were influenced to rebel was because of their family leaders and the words they used to discourage them against God and His Will for their lives. How did the leaders of these 10 tribes exercise such influence … it was because they truly believed what they were saying.

When we repeat those things we sincerely believe, we become very convincing. And, most likely you are already exercising influence in and over the lives of your family members because you truly do believe the things you are thinking and saying both publicly and in your own private time. Trouble is – you may not be believing and repeating the Will of God over your family but rather believing and repeating what you see and how you feel. If so, this needs to change!

We must begin to see, pray and declare the Word and the overriding Will of God over our families both in private and in public, speaking that which is good to build our family members up and not tear them down in their own eyes, in the eyes of others and especially in the eyes of God.

We cannot and should not try to change the will of God or take away someone’s God-given right to choose … however, we should attempt to influence both God and others to fulfill the Word and the Will.

God has a Will and He has a plan to accomplish that will. God’s plan includes you!

May His Kingdom come and His Will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven. Amen!

Here is what we will do to exercise our God-given influence and be a blessing to both God and to our family:
1.   Pray the Word and the Will of God over our family.
2.   Speak the Word of God over our own mind and opinions.
a.   Begin to change our mind about God’s Will for others
b.   See people as God sees them
c.   Remember, nothing is impossible with God
d.   We cannot take away other’s right to choose but we can influence them to choose God
e.   It is the goodness of God that leads people to change
3.   Declare God’s good will over our family and their future.
a.   Despite what we have experienced in the past
b.   Despite what we fear concerning the future
c.   Despite what we think they deserve
d.   Speak that which is good and Godly over their lives
                                     i.    with a calm peace
                                    ii.    and an encouraging tone

Just like Jesus said: “It’s not about what I want God but rather it’s all about what you want … not My will but Yours be done.” This must have encouraged God to go forward with His plan despite the hardship required.