It’s a big week as the school districts around here fire back up this week. That means many people are back to work, back to school and summer break is coming to a close. Whether you have anything to do with the school calendar or not, this is a transition moment in our year.
Today we’re going to talk about how we can approach our school and work places and even our homes in a God honoring way.
No matter where you are or what your relationship with school or work or home life is like right now, you may be feeling tremendously optimistic or you may be feeling a bit of anxiety toward your job or school year. Maybe you feel like you can’t keep up with the changes and the timeline and you just want some peace. Let’s start with a little encouragement from God’s Word.
“The Lord rules over the floodwaters. The Lord reigns as king forever. The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11
Before we jump into this post today, let’s take a timeout and pray over this transition. As a church body, let’s pause and turn to the Lord. Before we push play on everything that lies ahead, let’s take a deep breath. Breathe in His goodness. Breathe out his praise.
Heavenly Father, at the outset of this new year in a way, we turn to you, our Lord. You are good. No one like you. You haven’t failed us yet. We’re still here. Still standing and you will lead us through. We’re thankful for what new seasons represent. A fresh start.
Grant our teachers an abundance of Your wisdom. Prepare their hearts to welcome and love our loved ones, and may we make sure to show them love and respect in return. Give them grace as they help students who aren’t thriving, courage to say what needs to be said, tools and knowledge on how and when to speak love and strength when they feel weak.
When they feel unseen, remind them that no moment goes unnoticed. They are shaping the future in one million small – yet incredibly important – ways every day. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of learning they share with our children. Bless them, Lord, and may they see even just a glimpse of how their faithfulness will forever impact generations to come. Amen.
Let’s talk about how to use our school, workplace and home life. Here’s a passage of scripture that will lead us to an amazing point. The book of Acts the full title is the Acts of the Apostles. It’s written by Luke who also wrote the gospel of Luke. Here he is giving the accounts of the beginning and growth of the early church in the first century right after Jesus ascended to heaven.
“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.” Acts 16:16 NIV
This woman had a demon spirit, and because of that she could actually see the future. She was doing it demonically inspired. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. So someone would send her out to do this and she’d bring the money back to them.
“She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Acts 16:17 NIV
She knew this because of the demon. She wasn’t shouting this to praise them but to expose them and to insert herself or the spirit into this work. The devil always overplays his hand.
“She kept this up for many days.” Acts 16:18 NIV
Paul and them are trying to minister to people, she’d following them around yelling and won’t go away.
“Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, ‘These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.’ The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'” Acts 16:18-30 NIV
The jailer is recognizing that he was actually the bound one. You’d think Paul and Silas were the bound ones and the jailer was free, but that’s actually not the way it was. You have a jailer asking the jailed, what must I do to be saved? I want your God.
“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’” Acts 16:31 NIV
That’s not saying when you believe that it automatically extends to your family. The word ‘household’ in the greek is oikos. It’s not your family or your house, it’s the people under your roof of influence.
My Sphere of Influence
First, let’s see who these people are, your oikos, your sphere of influence.
- My people
You have people. These are the ones who are close to you: family, coworkers, classmates, deskmates…
God puts us with some people on purpose. If you understand that, you can influence them. Just as the world is a sphere, you have a sphere.
Most sociologists say that the average person has 12 people in this sphere. Here’s how they come up with this theory. Add up all the time you spend with people in a week. All the people you spend an hour or more within seven days, most people have 12 people that they’re spending an hour or more of time with in a week.
This is important becuase it reminds us that we have influence. We have people we can move. It’s not on accident.
“Go home to your family and friends. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19 NCV
- My place
The Bible says God determined the times and places we would live. You are where you are for a reason. You’re in 2020 for a reason, on purpose.
God has you in the school you’re in or the job you’re in. Even if you don’t enjoy it, take advantage of it for this season. Go for it. See what God will do.
Here’s a verse to pray over yourself to see your life more positively and purposefully.
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us– yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17 NIV
You’re not there just making a living. If you see your job, your work, your home life, your school only as a necessary evil, you won’t fulfill its purpose.
If you see the only purpose for your job or school as necessity, you’ll see those places as prison walls. If you see it as a platform, you learn the other purposes. There is the purpose of identity, character, credibility, generosity and eternity.
- My passion
You have passions particular to you. In fact in Growth Track we help you discover your S.H.A.P.E. The ‘P’ in shape is Passions.
There are things you’re more passionate about. Not everyone is drawn to the same thing or same people. The reason you’re moved toward that thing is God orchestrated that. Get in places where God has stirred your heart for.
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
That word delight is the same as a bride putting on a wedding gown or a groom putting on a tux. When you put yourself before the Lord, He gives you the want.
It’s not that He gives you what you want, He gives you the want. God’s trying to direct your life.
Making a Difference
Here are three ways you can make a difference in your sphere of influence. These are things you can start this week.
1. Our manner
Yes, mind your manners, it’s all about your attitude.
The Bible talks about our manners and how we live our life. This will be tested in this next season. There will be more changes, you can count on that. You’ve go to decide now how you’re going to respond.
Are you going to be surprised? Will you be disgruntled?
Are you going to be a burden? Are you going to second guess your leaders and bosses and teachers?
Things are fast and fluid. The decisions they’re making they probably don’t like it any more than you do. It’s easy to second guess someone when the responsibility is not on you.
Whatever you’re facing right now, coronavirus and everything else, we’re going to get to the other side of this, you’ve got to decide now if you want to make it through better or bitter. Do you want to make it through with burned bridges or more bridges?
Mind your manners.
If your only motivation to mind your manners is yourself, it won’t change. If your motivation for change is the shine a light, to be salt and light, you are more likely to grow.
If you feel stuck in your growth and need a breakthrough, if you really want to grow, launch a small group. When you’re leading others, it causes a boost. When other people are a stake, it’ll change you.
How are your manners?
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NIV
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV
Make it your ambition, make it your goal. The way you influence your world is not through yelling at people the gospel, it’s through faithful presence in people’s life bearing witness to one another.
What if when you did something for a neighbor and when they thank you, you just tell them, simply, the love of Christ compelled me to do this.
When you go the extra mile and someone appreciates it, the love of Christ compelled me to do it.
I didn’t even really feel like it, but I follow Jesus Christ and I feel like that’s what he would of done.
2. Our moment
God is navigating and today He’s going to cause two people’s paths to intersect and it’s a divine appointment. Many people in the world are going to go from darkness to light, death to life today because God orchestrated it. Recognize those moments.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
You fill your calendar, God knows what’s going on. Why not see the people you interact with as a divine appointment? Let the appointments begin.
3. Our message
Let your life be known what you are for. So many are known for what they are against, be known for what you are for.
Do more people know your pet peeves and frustrations that what you are for?
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Peter 3:15 NIV
What is the hope that we have? It’s John 3:16. Don’t let your theology become so complicated that you can’t boldly proclaim or be deeply comforted by John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NIV
You don’t have to pay for your own sins, they’ve been paid for. Our God saves people from hell. Our God so loved the world that he gave His Son.
Hell isn’t a place people go that God is mad at, it’s a place people go to pay for their sins. You don’t have to pay for your own sins.
We all desire to make a difference in our own world. The secret to changing the world we live in is using our influence to make a difference for the Kingdom. In this message we are learning that we are all part of a sphere of influence that, if we leverage properly, can literally change our world. Equipped with this understanding of God-given influence, we will all begin to make a difference…
Discussion & Application
- What is your dream job? If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you do?
- Read Psalm 37:4. Discuss the idea that God plants desires in us when we delight in Him.
- One way we can make a difference in our world is our manner – how we carry ourselves in front of others. How does your manner affect those around you?
- Read Proverbs 16:9. What would happen if the whole church began to ask God for those moments that can make a difference in others lives?
- Our message is the most powerful message in the world. It’s the message of life-change. Can you share your story in three minutes or less?
Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.
Pray for anyone in your group who is experiencing a transition this week. Pray for your people, places and passions.
Make a list of those you consider to be in your sphere of influence. Ask God to create moments for you to impact their lives this week. Consider leading a small group to share your passion with those in your sphere.