I’m Influential

We are created with the capacity to influence and be influenced.

 
We tend to neglect our responsibility to be an influence because we have come to believe that influence requires that we have a position, power or platform. As you look at the people Jesus selected as disciples you would quickly see these were not people of position, power or platform. They were simply people whose lives were greatly influenced by Christ and that influence in their lives made them men and women of incredible influence.
 

A life influenced by Christ should always influence the lives of others.

 
As a verb, influence typically means “to affect or change someone in an indirect but usually important way.”
 
Many of us fail to understand our capacity to influence others in a spiritual manner. We underestimate how deeply our Christian influence can change one person’s life and how many people our influence will affect when it runs its course. Never underestimate how far God can spread the reach of your influence — especially when that influence is empowered by the Holy Spirit at work in and through your life.
 
Jesus challenges us to embrace the power of our Christian influence. See Matthew 5:13-16.
 

Christian influence originates from Christ’s character in us.

Christian character will lead to influence. If the beatitudes describe the essential character of the disciples of Jesus, the salt and light metaphors indicate their influence for good in the world.
 

Christian influence is not an option, it’s a responsibility.

The two metaphors of salt and light indicate the influence for good which Christians will exert in the community if (and only if) they maintain their Christian character as portrayed in the Beatitudes.
 

Christian influence must be in close proximity to those it will affect.

Salt and light are to have a powerful influence on their environment. The salt is to be rubbed into the meat in order to slow decay. The light is to shine into the darkness. Jesus clearly told his disciples that if they wanted to make a difference in the world, they would have to be different from the world yet engaged in the world.
 

Christian influence is best achieved when its potency is properly adjusted.

Salt and light are most effective when their potency is adjusted to help, not hurt, that upon which they act. Christian influence is achieved one conversation, one encouraging word, and one act of love at a time.
 
You have no idea how an encouraging word or an act done in love might influence someone’s life for Christ. See 1 Peter 2:12, 15.
 

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I’m Invaluable

Did you know that you are invaluable to God? See Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:16-18; Luke 12:6-7.
 
If you’re a Christian, what makes you valuable is the name of Jesus written on your heart. See 1 Peter 4:16. You are invaluable to God’s work. You’re also invaluable because you were created by God for a purpose. You were created to make a difference in God’s work…His mission…carried out through the ministry of the Church.
 

You are invaluable to God and His purposes at work through the Body of Christ.

 
You are uniquely prepared with divine gifts, passions, and talents. When God created you, He put you at this moment in history because it’s at this time that you can best glorify God. You are invaluable to God’s work. See Ephesians 2:10.
 
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. On your own, you’re a disciple. But when you gather together with other Spirit-filled, Word-empowered believers, you take on a new identity. You are the Body of Christ.
 

You are an invaluable part of the Body of Christ!

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:15–17. You own estimation of yourself…your own sense of value…does not amputate or remove you from the body. When you became a follower of Christ…you became part of His body!
 
See Psalm 139:13-15. Aren’t you glad that we are not born piece by piece? God could have said, “Eve, you’re gonna have a baby…but some assembly is required.” No, we were assembled in the womb as God designed. It is the same with the body of Christ. He is knitting together His body to accomplish His purposes on earth.
 

You are an intentional part of the Body of Christ.

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:18–24. God has placed the parts in the body…just as he wanted them to be. You are a part of that body…and every part is important…every part matters to God.
 

We don’t determine the value of our part in the Body, God does.

Because of that, every part matters — even the parts that seem weaker or insignificant. Some of the most important things that happen are actually the parts of the body that are least celebrated or least visible.
 
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:24-27. You might think you chose to be a part of this church. But the truth is that God has put the body together. You are here because God wants you here…you matter to God, you matter to this church. If we believe that God is the designer, then there should be no division within His body. Instead, we all know we are valued, see the value in others, and honor that value which makes the whole body work together.
 

One part has the ability to effect the whole body.

You’re a part of the body of Christ, but if you’re not using the gifts that God has given you, you’re not living out your divine calling, your function, your role, your part, your position. That part of the body is now useless.

You’re an invaluable part. You’ve got something unique to offer that no one else does. If your one part of the body is asleep the rest of the body has to work harder. Others are putting more in because you’re not doing your role.
 
Church is not a building that we go to. It’s not an institution we’re a part of. We’re a living body of Christ. Your part matters to the Body…your part is Invaluable to God.
 
What do you think would be possible if all of us stepped up to do what we were uniquely created by God to do within his Body, the Church?
 
You were uniquely created by God to bring value. The church is the body of Christ. You are an invaluable part of God’s body. You are invaluable to God and His purposes at work through the Body of Christ.
 

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I’m Invited

Your sins do not disqualify you from God’s invitation to experience His love and grace.

 
In fact, God’s love and grace invites you to come to Him to be set free from your sin through His Son, Jesus Christ. God extends grace through his love precisely because of our sin. You could even say that the awareness of your sins is what makes you eligible for God’s grace.
 

The invitation to come to Jesus is universal and unconditional.

 
Read: Luke 19:1-10. This is the only instance in the four Gospels of Jesus inviting Himself to someone’s home. Of all the people in Jericho that Jesus could have spent the day with, why Zacchaeus? Because this is exactly why Jesus came. He came for the sinners.
 
Salvation came to Zacchaeus, not because he did good deeds, but because he truly believed in Jesus and set aside anything that might get in the way of obeying him. This was his appropriate response to choosing to follow Jesus. It was the evidence of a changed life.
 
It was also a wonderful example of Jesus’ mission. In fact, this story of the salvation of Zacchaeus gives us the context for one of Jesus’ declaration of His personal mission statement (Luke 19:10).
 
What is a key qualifier for your salvation? It is being lost and recognizing your lostness, and a desire not to say that way anymore!
 

The invitation to come to Jesus requires a response.

 
Invitations are meant to be acted upon — they generally require a response. In fact, most invitations request an RSVP (répondez s’il vous plaît = please respond). All throughout Jesus ministry he was extending invitations for people to follow him, believe in Him, trust in Him. But the invitation needs a response. See Luke 14:16–24. The invitation doesn’t guarantee your salvation. You must RSVP.
 

The invitation to come to Jesus needs to be shared with others.

 
See Luke 14:23. It has been said that within two years of becoming a Christian, the average person has already lost the significant relationships he once had with people outside the faith. This means that most Christians will tend to have close friends that are also Christian. Which means we need to be more intentional to share this invitation with those who actually need to hear it. See Romans 10:13-15.
 

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I’m In

God’s desire for you is that you would never be alone — that you would never be left out. We’re created for connection, but we drift toward isolation. But isolation is not a good thing (see Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).
 
Amazing things can happen when you choose to say, “I’m In…I’m in the community of faith…the mission of Christ…the body of Christ…the Church.” See 1 Peter 2:4–5. When you decide, “I’m In,” it doesn’t just benefit the community of believers, the church. It also benefits your life. See Hebrews 3:12–13.
 
David, King of Israel, knows all about the dangers of isolation. But David also discovered the blessing of being in community with fellow believers. See Psalm 92:12–13; Psalm 52:8–9.
 
Flourish means to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
 
These passages use very specific agricultural examples:
Cedar tree: known for their durability, pleasant to look at and also pleasing to smell.
Palm tree: symbolic of victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life.
Olive tree: a symbol of peace, friendship, longevity and usefulness.
 
Psalm 92:14-15 shows us the blessing, the benefits of those who are planted in the house of the Lord.
 
One of the greatest problems in the Christian movement today is people who don’t stay planted. Instead, they church-hop. Another great problem in the Christian movement is that people are not committed to faithful engagement in the life and ministry of the church. Going to church once or twice a month is not the same as being planted. See Hebrews 10:24-25.
 

Those who are planted are those who flourish.

We need to recognize that our life is like a seed. A seed has the potential to grow, to thrive, to multiply, to produce fruit, to be a blessing to others, but a seed that’s not planted has the potential to lie dormant, unproductive, unfruitful, and dissatisfied. Your life is a seed.
 

A seed can only grow if it’s planted.

Biblical Example: Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13.
 

Going to church isn’t the same as being planted.

Some people “go” to church like they “go” to the movies, the game, a show, the restaurant, gym, dentist, etc. Here’s something that may sound strange at first but…Church was not designed to be a place you go. Jesus never intended you to just “go to” church.
 

Church wasn’t meant to be a place to which you go, it was designed to be a community in which you grow.

 
See Ephesians 4:15–16. We gather together to honor God, to corporately hear the Word of God, to use our individual gifts, to be unified — all of this leads to growth. As we grow, as we flourish, it’s not just for our personal benefit or the benefit of the church. The church does not exist for us, we exist for the world.
 

When you’re planted your roots grow deep.

See Jeremiah 17:8. When the roots grow deep, they’re not bothered by surface problems because they’re connected to a source that is greater than any problem on the surface.
 

When you are planted you produce fruit.

What fruit? Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). It’s not our own natural fruits, it is a spiritual fruit that comes from God.
 
Now is the time because God wants you to flourish like the evergreen, stable, strong cedar, or the victorious, triumphant palm, or the productive and longstanding olive tree. Only those who are planted in the house of the Lord are those who truly can flourish in all God has for you.
 
How does it all start? It’s starts with making the commitment, by saying “I’m In.”
 

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The Power Behind the Good Work

See Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 16:27; Ephesians 6:7–8; Revelation 22:12. Not only have each one of us been given a good work, we also will stand accountable for that good work before the Lord. Don’t lose heart, though. Because the same Lord that we will stand accountable to for our good work has promised to work in us, with us, and through us.
 
Nehemiah did not do this good work alone. He mobilized people to participate in this good work. But even more importantly, Nehemiah knew the power behind the Good Work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
 

You are not alone in your good work; the Lord works with you.

 
See Nehemiah 1:11; Nehemiah 2:8; Nehemiah 2:17–18; Nehemiah 2:20; Nehemiah 4:14-15; Nehemiah 6:15–16. You would never get the idea from Nehemiah that he did this good work in his own power. He was careful to acknowledge that the Lord was the power at work in this good work.
 

Doing a good work is only possible through the Lord’s power at work within you.

 
See Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29. While God does intend for us to act and do something in order to accomplish a good work, He never intends for us to do this work in our own strength alone. His work is possible with His power. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s provision and power.
 

Right now you have all that you need to do a good work.

 
See 2 Corinthians 9:8. Too often we think we cannot do a good work for God because we do not have the right tools, the right skills, the proper talents. But we need to remember what Paul told the church at Corinth. Often, the “all we need” isn’t preloaded before the good work. For example, God didn’t have Parr Lumber deliver all the building materials to Nehemiah when the problem was presented to him. All he had was a burden and no supplies. But notice what God did as Nehemiah sought Him, trusted Him, and moved forward in His leading. God provided all that Nehemiah needed to complete the work.
 

The Lord began the good work in you and will be faithful to complete it through you.

 
See Philippians 1:3–6. Wherever you are in the process right now, God is with you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is empowering you. He will complete the good work through you!
 

Others will realize the Good Work was done with the help of the Lord.

 
See Nehemiah 6:15–16. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard the wall has been built they were frightened and humiliated. They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Who will be influenced by your Good work? Who needs to see how the Lord had helped you in your good work? Keep doing the good work. Remember, it’s not just about you. It’s about the LORD and it’s about what others see Him do in your good work.
 

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The Danger of Distractions

Good works don’t save you but you are saved in order to do good works!
 
The moment you start creating movement on behalf of the things that matter to God, your spiritual enemy will show up and try to resist the very work that God put in your heart.
 

If your enemy can’t destroy you, he will distract you.

 

1. The Distraction of Opportunities (Nehemiah 6:1–2)

 
What we often see as an opportunity, God sees as a distraction. There’s never been an easier time to be distracted in the history of the world than it is today. Today it’s so easy to become great at doing things that don’t matter. It’s never been easier to be passionate about wasting your time. In order to accomplish great things, you must learn to say no to some good things. See Nehemiah 6:3–4.
 
We must be strategic about our “no”. We don’t say “no” because we don’t care. We say “no” because we really do care about what God has called us to do. Just because you could do something, doesn’t mean you should do something.
(Verse 3) I am doing a good work and cannot come down. What, right now, is a constant distraction from the good work you should be doing — as a Christian, spouse, parent, etc.?
 
See 1 Corinthians 15:58. Evaluate new opportunities in light of God’s higher call upon your life. Remember that staying focused on a good work means sometimes saying “no”.
 

2. The Distraction of Rumors (Nehemiah 6:5–7)

 
Don’t let the whispers of people distract you from the work of God. You will never do big things if you’re distracted by small-minded people. We’re never gonna let the opinions of others or rumors take us away from the calling and good work of God.
 
Don’t worry about what people say about you. Worry about what’s true about you. Just live a life that honors God and don’t let the critics, don’t let the haters knock you out of God’s mission.
 
How did Nehemiah respond to the rumor? See Nehemiah 6:8–9. Instead of letting it discourage or distract him, it steadied him and made him more determined in the good work. Notice Nehemiah’s prayer: “Now strengthen my hands.” His prayer was for him to stay strong and stay focused in the midst of the rumors, distractions, and gossip of his enemies.
 
Do not let someone else’s opinion of you disrupt God’s calling for you! See Psalm 90:17.
 

3. The Distraction of Entitlement (Nehemiah 6:10–13)

 
This might sound like a good and noble idea, right? But it was a trap — an attempt to trick Nehemiah into overstepping his authority and preserving himself by exercising his power for personal gain. It was attempt to give Nehemiah a bad name — to discredit him.
 
Do not allow external success to do internal damage to your heart. Isn’t it true that personal success can often lead to a sense of personal entitlement? One of the biggest dangers of any kind of success is the temptation to start leading with an entitled spirit.
 

The good work God has for you isn’t about you, it’s about Him and His mission.

 

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The Making of a Good Work

 
The challenge you face reveals the calling you’ll embrace.
 
In other words, the thing that tends to upset you will often drive you into a ministry to make a difference in the lives of somebody else.
 
How do you do the work? How do you make a difference? Nehemiah shows us four steps in the making of a good work.
 

1) Seek God faithfully.

See Nehemiah 1:11; 2:1-5. Nehemiah was a man who’s walking intimately with God which allows him to just talk to God at any moment. I hope that you’ll pray both ways, that you’ll pray long and powerful prayers with God so that in the moment, you’re already close to God and you can send short prayers to God.
 
If prayer isn’t necessary for you to accomplish your vision, you aren’t thinking big enough. There’s nothing too big for God’s power and there’s nothing too small for God’s heart.
 

2) Define the vision clearly.

If you have a heart for something, you have a vision for something. For most people when it comes to the vision, the problem is not a lack of caring, it’s a lack of clarity. I want you to watch the crystal clear clarity of an ordinary man with a vision from God. See Nehemiah 2:5. One sentence. Absolute clarity. In a sentence, what is it that God is leading you to do? If you can’t define it, you won’t do it.
 

3) Make plans carefully.

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is get organized. See Nehemiah 2:6-8. What does he do? He asks for protection and he asks for provision. He is very, very clear. I need protection to travel and I need provision to build. He created a plan and said this is how I’m going to accomplish it. What’s a good plan? Do the next right thing. If we try to get all eventualities worked out, we would be overwhelmed. Simply do the next right thing that moves you toward the vision. Success is not in achieving some accomplishment out there in the future. Success is being faithful to do the right thing today. So what’s the next right thing for you?

 

4) Inspire people passionately.

See Nehemiah 2:17-18. Inspire the people around you to believe that God is for what we’re doing, that God is with us, He’ll never leave us, He’ll never forsake us, He’s empowering us, He’s going before us, He’s opening doors that we don’t have the power to open. He’s giving us favor with the hearts of people, our God is with us.
 
“Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” — John Wesley
 

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When You Can’t Take It Anymore

Read: Nehemiah 1:1–3.
 
For nearly a century, the Jewish remnant had been back in their own land, and Nehemiah could have joined them; but he chose to remain in the palace. God put Nehemiah in Susa. When God wants to accomplish a work, He always prepares His workers and puts them in the right places at the right time.
 

God has a good work for you to do right now, right where you are!

 
What do you do when you see something that bothers you deeply and you can’t take it anymore? Three phases to begin your good work.
 

1. Sit Down and Cry (Nehemiah 1:4)

 
The first thing we see Nehemiah do is what you may end up doing at some point of your life. You sit down and let whatever it is, the injustice in the world actually break your own heart.
 
When Nehemiah heard the news he didn’t do what’s so often the easy thing to do — brush it off. Instead, he sat down, he broke down and he started to cry.
 
What breaks your heart? What is it that burdens you? What is it that creates a righteous anger? What is it that burdens your soul? Let it in. Let it wash over you. Let it move you.
 
I don’t worry when every now and then something breaks my heart and moves me to the point of tears. Rather, I worry when it’s been a long time since that has happened. I want my heart to be tender, to be broken by the things that break the heart of God.
 

2. Kneel Down to Pray (Nehemiah 1:4)

 
If it’s big enough to cry about, it’s big enough to pray about. If your heart is broken and deeply touched by a need, sit to cry and then kneel to pray. Nehemiah’s prayer confesses his own sin, confesses the sins of his people and brings to remembrance God’s promises and God’s faithfulness in the past (See Nehemiah 1:5-11). We see Nehemiah praying several times throughout this book.
 

What you pray about reflects what you believe about God.


If our only prayers are bless this food and keep me safe and give me a good day, you really don’t believe the real powerful God. But when you ask God to stretch you, to use you, when you pray for the impossible, you believe in the power and the glory of a good God.
 
Through prayer, the burden grows and the vision narrows. Real prayer keeps your heart and your head in balance so your burden doesn’t make you impatient to run ahead of the Lord and ruin everything. As we pray, God tells us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it; and all are important to the accomplishing of the will of God.
 

3. Stand Up and Act (Nehemiah 2:1-5)

 
If God places that burden on your heart, He is wanting you to do something about it! But who am I? I’m not…(fill-in-the-blank). You don’t have to be appointed by man if you are called by God. You don’t have to be chosen by people if God prompts your heart, stirs your spirit, gives you a burden. You just step into it. Trust him and watch him act. Feel the presence of God stirring you.
 

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Who Is Jesus To You?

Read Mark 8:22–26. The story about a blind man immediately after Jesus warns the disciples of spiritual blindness (vs. 17–18) is probably not coincidental — it’s instructional. Why didn’t Jesus heal the man at once? It is possible that the two-stage restoration of the man’s sight is an illustration for the partial blindness and gradual awakening of the disciples concerning the identity of Jesus.
 
Perhaps that is your condition today. You vaguely know about Jesus but you don’t know Him for who He truly is — the Son of God and Savior of the world. Whatever the condition of your vision of Jesus today, understand that it takes a spiritual awakening, an opening of your spiritual eyes (which is a work of the Holy Spirit within you) to truly see Jesus. See John 15:26; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Ephesians 1:17-18.
 

The Holy Spirit helps us to see and know Jesus for who He really is.

 
Read Mark 8:27–28. All three answers reveal the high regard in which the people held Jesus; they identified him as an authentic prophet and spokesperson for God. Yet all the answers also reflect an inadequate view of his true identity.
 

We can’t define Jesus based on our terms, we must discover Him based on His.

 
People tend to define Jesus in a way that accommodates their current lifestyle. Jesus doesn’t make allowance for that. Instead, he calls people to repent and make their lifestyle acknowledge and accommodate Jesus as Lord.
 
Read Mark 8:29–30. Jesus is interested in your personal response to this question! “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers: You are the Messiah. Matthew’s account of this conversation adds a little more to Peter’s answer. See Matthew 16:13-17.
 

Your confession about Jesus Christ is a matter of life or death.

 
The only confession that saves us is “Jesus is Lord!” when that confession comes from a heart that truly believes in Him. See Romans 10:9-10.
 

Popular opinion about Jesus doesn’t save you. Personal confession saves you.

 
There is no such thing as crowd salvation or bulk salvation. Each person is saved upon their belief in Jesus and confession about Him. So ”Who do you say Jesus is?”
 

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See Beyond the Signs

Read Mark 7:31–37. Fingers in man’s ears…spit on the man’s tongue…what is Jesus doing? It was a visible demonstration of what he was going to do. This man’s healing was instant, complete, and advanced. He began to speak plainly.
 
(Verse 37) This statement recalled Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s day. See Isaiah 35:5-6; Exodus 4:11.
 
This miracle has as much to do with spiritual as it does with physical healing. We can apply this miracle to the spiritual situation of many Christians today.
 
  • We need to be opened up to wholeness of life.
  • We need to be opened up to be able to witness.
  • We need to be opened up so we can act.
  • We need to be opened to living out through our lives a demonstration of the spiritual healing Christ has done in our lives.

May God open my ears to His Truth and loose my tongue to speak His Good News freely.

 
Read Mark 8:1–10. Not the same as the previous feeding of a multitude. Jesus had already found the resources in a previous remote place for an even larger crowd (6:35), yet the disciples were completely perplexed as to how they should be expected to feed them. Like the disciples, we often forget God’s provision for us in the past. When facing a difficult situation, remember how God cared for you and trust him to work faithfully again. Remember what Christ has done, and have faith that he will do it again. With Christ, nothing is impossible.

The little I have to offer Christ becomes more than enough when placed in His hands and used for His purposes.

 
Read Mark 8:11–13. The Pharisees had tried to explain away Jesus’ previous miracles by claiming that they had been done by luck, coincidence, or evil power (see 3:22). Here they demanded a sign from heaven — something beyond a mere miracle. Mark pointed out that this was a test.
 
While Jesus had done and would continue to do miracles in response to people’s faith and to reveal God’s presence and power within him, he would never give a sign in answer to the demands of religious hypocrites who would not believe it anyway. See John 20:29.

You don’t put your faith in a powerful sign, you put your faith in a personal Savior.

 
Jesus did not come to earth to convince people to come to him by performing wonders; he came inviting people to come to him in faith, and as a response to their faith, he performed great miracles.
 
Read Mark 8:14–21. As the disciples were worrying about bread, Jesus used the opportunity to teach of the danger of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. In the Old Testament (and New), leaven symbolized corruption and the infectious power of evil.
 
The Pharisees and Herod seem to have little in common. But they do share one poisonous fault that can infect others. Jesus does not explicitly identify what that toxic flaw is, but the context points to their obstinate refusal to believe in spite of the evidence. So Jesus warns the disciples not to fall victim to this same insidious unbelief.

A small amount of evil left unattended in your life can poison your faith.

 

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