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Who Are You Following

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Who Are You Following?

Have you ever found yourself doing something like this:  You’ve got a choice to make-do I want to go left or right....up or down…But you’re not quite sure, so you look to see what someone else does first….OK…they want the last slice of pizza, so I’ll take the taco salad…or those peanut butter cookies must be pretty good since so many people are taking them…something like that…you’re basing your decision on what other people do first.  That’s one example of being influenced by someone else.

Sometimes they way we are influenced is not so obvious…

For example…why do you watch TV?  Entertainment?  Well…according to some people, that’s only why you think you watch TV or movies.  You see…people who design advertisements will tell you that the reason TV exists is to influence people like you and me to buy things.  Advertisers spend millions of dollars to find out how to affect the way people think…what affect to colors and smells and pictures have on your emotions.  If you notice…a lot of TV commercials these days really have nothing to do with the product they are trying to sell…it’s all about affecting your emotions and then you are more likely to buy whatever it is they want to sell…  So since, advertisers are who really pay the bills to produce TV shows….the reason TV exists is for the commercials.  They shows you watch are only filler to keep you in front of the TV until the commercials come on.

One of my favorite memories of the power of influence in from my days in college.  Wendy and I both went to the Univ. of WI-Madison.  Every day there would be masses of students walking to and from class, and you’d often end up with a large group of them waiting to cross one of the busy streets that went through the campus.  You’d see this same thing happen every time….one person would see an opening to get across the street.  They’d time it just right so that they just barely missed getting hit by a car.  Every time someone did that, the moment they stepped into the street, a handful of other kids would steps out right behind them…the only problem is that it wasn’t a good time for them to cross and they’d either have to stop…or the car driver would have to slow avoid an accident.  Some people always just assumed that if it was safe for that one person, it was safe for them…and they just went!   Rather than deciding for themselves  when to go, they let someone else figure it out and make the decision for them.

These are just a couple of examples of ways we are influenced by others.  There are also more obvious examples like teachers…political leaders….spiritual leaders like me…youth leaders, Sunday school teachers…all have an affect on the way we think. 

We even teach kids about influence in the games that they play.  Anyone ever play Simon Says?  There you go…you do what the leader says.

How about follow the leader?  Same thing….in fact, why don’t we play a little game of follow the leader right now? Get kids….

    After a little bit…OK…how about this…would you follow me if I said we were going to go out and play in the middle of the road out here?  Or what if I led you down the street and said OK…now we are going to jump off the bridge into the river?  NO?  Why not?  I’m the leader..don’t you need to do whatever I tell you?  Dangerous, huh?  Well that’s good…you guys are thinking…it’s important to think isn’t it…no matter what anyone tells you to do?  Keep that up…

It’s not always a bad thing to be influenced by someone…we can be influenced in positive ways to do great things.  It is important to realize that influence can be a powerful force so we need to recognize it and take advantage of it in positive ways while minimizing the negative

This is a lesson the Bible makes clear to us when we read the history of the Kings of Israel in the OT.  You read all about them in the books of I & II Samuel, I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles.  I’m going to just give you a few highlights this morning…

It really all begins in I Samuel chapter 8.  Last week Willie talked a little bit about the time of the Judges in Israel when God anointed certain people at certain times to affect the Israelite nation for Him…Samuel was the last of these Judges.  In I Samuel 8, we read that he was getting old and his sons were not following God.

Read v4-9.  Then Samuel warns them what it will be like to have a king.  V19-20.  SO, they demanded a king to rule over them.  At God’s direction, Samuel anointed a man named Saul to be the first king of Israel.  He started out OK, but then turned away from God and God then chose a young boy named David to be the next king.  David is still known as the greatest king of Israel.  He’s been called a man after God’s own heart.  Even though he wasn’t perfect, he sought after God all his life.

Things were never as good, though, after David’s reign.  His son Solomon was the next ruler.  Solomon was very wise and built a temple to God, but didn’t really live and rule for God.  Right after Solomon, the nation of Israel that God established was split into two..The Southern kingdom of Judah were Solomon’s son ruled, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel ruled by a man named Jeroboam.  Jeroboam was among the worst of the kings. In fact, he became the standard for what was evil.  There were many evil kings that followed him, and the Bible tells us that they walked in the ways of Jeroboam.

 Right after coming to power, he set up two golden calves for the people to worship because the temple of God was in Jerusalem…back in Judah and he was afraid that the people would return to the other king if they went there to worship God.

Listen to what he told the people- “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  What?  He’s telling the people to worship Egyptian gods and saying that THEY led them out of Egypt to this land!  What a slap in the face to the one true God who actually did free them! That would be like me saying to you all…you know, there are certain parts of this Bible that you don’t need to worry about.  Let’s just pass out some black markers and cross those sections out.  You just don’t need them…

And how did the people respond?  They worshipped these idols.  They did what their king told them to do even though it was completely wrong!

This was really the beginning of the end for the Israelite nation.  As you continue to read to read about some kings who followed God, but most of them did not.  And although some people remained true to God, most of the people simply followed the king and did what He did.  They almost completely lost track of who God is and what he wanted from them.  In fact, during the reign of one the last good king of Judah, Josiah, the Book of the Law of the Lord given to Moses was re-discovered after being lost for a long time!  King Josiah said, “Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”

Question authority?  60s?  Grad school?  Anarchy?

God does anoint people to be leaders & expects us to respect them

  Hebrews 13

  Deut 17

But don’t just blindly follow…grad school.  Partnership.  You trust me…I depend on you.

1 Thes 5:19  Don’t put out the spirit’s fire!!!  BUT…test everything.  What will the H.S have us experience here?  What will God teach us?  Let’s test it to make sure it lines up with God’s word.

Back to Deut.  Back to Josiah…

My heart here….do my best to represent God in all I do & say.  Not perfect.  No perfect decision.  Want you to be able to trust that I have the best in mind....even when don’t agree with decisions.

  Always come talk to me though….make sure intentions are correct.  Make sure that at least on the path God has laid out for us.

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