Whose Influence are we Under?

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I wasn’t sure where my thoughts were going this morning when I began to read the scripture. I’m still not, but I know where my mind has been lately; and if I’m right, God’s word will align. If I’m wrong He’ll line me out. That’s how God’s word works. I’ve been lined out on more than one occasion.

I have this question for myself, as well as my readers this morning. What’s your influence, both that of the influence you make and the influence that is made upon you? Luke, who had been under the influence of Christ Himself wrote about it in the book of Acts 19. There were two very strong influences in the community, one of evil and one of good. And both had made an impact in the area and both had a following of friends. But it was about to come to a head as it often still does in the world we live in when right has the audacity to step into wrong’s territory.

Acts 19:24-30 KJVS

[24] For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; [25] Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

There’s Big Money in Evil 

Demetrius was a man of skill, and he used that talent to craft items of worship to the gods of the day making great wealth from it. You know… like Apple products, boats, cars, etc. Things that keep folks out of church. And he was none too happy when Paul and his disciples came into town and started getting peoples mind off of the world and onto the matters of the Spirit of God. So he called a town wide meeting of the merchants and reminded them of where their bread and butter came from and who was making toast. And that my friend is what continues to happen today. Evil is big business. From the drug industry (both prescription and illegal), social media, social standing, and our selfie society that is all about taking care of my four and no more with everything materialistic and no focus whatsoever on their standing with God. The god’s and marketing strategies may have changed but not the dollar made.

There’s a High Price for Morality

But it doesn’t have a thing to do with money.

Demetrius continues his conversation:

[26] Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: [27] So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. [28] And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.P

Long, long before social media, Paul’s influence was vast. And it still is. And all for the sake of Christ. The world has tried multitudes of manners to destroy Christianity, to no avail. They’ve tried persecution, that made it grow. They left it alone, which worked for some who became “religious” to the point of no affect, (but then a new generation stirred the fires again). But their latest “divide and conquer and by all means stir fear” tactic has been surprisingly successful.

I love online ministry and the part it plays in filling the void where people can’t get to church; but I’m telling you right now, that’s not God’s intention for the church. As one preacher used to say, “when someone in your family dies, see if your internet preacher will come and do the funeral.” God never intended the local church to be global. But Satan did. Because he knows if people aren’t talking, they’re just listening and usually to multiple things… they’re not physically feeling loved and a part of a body of believers,  they’ll have time to listen to him too. “Stay home… don’t fellowship… nobody cares…

So what does that have to do with morality? There’s no accountability to an online church. If your people are all over the world, they know nothing about your behavior, but if you live in a community where people you go to church with see you on a regular basis, you’re held to a higher accountability. Not to the man, but to God. It’s true! I love my church people, I want to encourage them and live my life in a manner that makes them say, “Yes! Shari is apart of our church.” But if my church is 3000 miles away, I can live my life how ever I want and the Pastor will be none the wiser. I’m not saying that internet church doesn’t do a great work. It’s taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. That’s awesome. But when people use it as an excuse not to fellowship with their local church, Houston we have a big problem.

Morality matters. And Satan knows it. The high price for morality isn’t the dollar. It’s the life you live.

There’s Massive Confusion in the Whole Matter

[29] And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. [30] And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

Gaius and Aristarchus are attacked by the powers that be in the community that were “filled with confusion.” This describes that state of the world. Satan has them continually stirred and confused. The world today is on information overload. Likely the people of Paul’s day were coerced by the evil powers that be in the spiritual realm, the same as they are today. Brother Paul was going in to take care of the situation but some of his homies persuaded him not to. Why did they stop him? Likely because they feared for his safety and they knew his value in the ministry. Not that God values anyone above the other, but if leadership is gone, you run the risk of the body of believers falling apart. I’ve seen it in the best of churches. Praise God, when we were Pastor-less for a year while searching for a new Pastor, God sent strong leadership in to keep us going, and we as a body knit closer together for fear of falling apart. We knew what we had and we didn’t want to lose it. Not every church knows what they have. And some, unfortunately never had it.  I don’t say that viciously or facetiously, I say it in all seriousness and concern. I’ve seen churches treated like nothing more than a social hall for good deeds and a few encouraging words. That ain’t it! Paul and his friends were willing, and many did, to die for the cause of Christ.

God’s not asking us in America to die for the cause, He’s asking us to live for the cause. Which still might be dangerous. So, I go back to the original question: what’s the impact we’re making in our community. What is our sphere of influence. Are we willing to rush into the “Theatre” to rescue those in danger? How about into a house or local business where you know there’s someone in need of Christ? How about in your own family? Are you satisfied with a cyber church? I love my cyber peeps, but that’s not where God called me to be… I need my locals!

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Shari Johnson. (aka The Jesus Chick) has been encouraging women of faith and youth for a closer walk with Christ for over ten years. Having a burden for the leadership in American Churches, much of her writing is meant to spear on the servant of God to do more for the cause of Christ in these uncertain times. With humor, transparency and solid bible teaching Shari outlines messages that are easily understood, life applicable, and often with easily remembered points to ponder in hopes that they’ll be reflected on throughout the day and serve as encouragement on the go. Her servant’s heart is grounded in her own local church believing that it is there that the greatest impact can be made and unfortunately suffers the greatest neglect across America. Shari speaks at women’s gatherings in hopes of leaving a giggle in their soul and a burning desire to serve in their own local body of believers having it said of her “I laughed, I cried, and I was drawn to the foot of the cross…” Which is what it’s all about. For information on scheduling Shari, call her direct at (304)377-6036, message her via email at talk2shari@gmail.com or find her on Facebook!

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