Bad company corrupts good character…


with that said, how are you being a good influence on the people around you?

If you are alive then you will have interactions with people. If you are alive then you are probably hearing or being affected by the opinions and the attitudes of the people you are around. If you are alive then you probably notice how even without asking you will be impacted by the people around you. Do you realize the impact they are having on your character? Do you realize the impact they are having on your attitude? Do you realize the impact they are having on your perspective? Do you realize the impact they are having on your opinions? What influence are they having on you? What influence are you having with them?

Don’t be fooled, don’t be deceived, don’t be misled, don’t be lead astray bad company corrupts good character, bad company ruins good morals, bad companion ship corrupts good morals, evil communications corrupt good manners, wicked friends lead to evil ends, evil discourse corrupts pleasant minds, evil communications corrupt good manners. –from 1 Corinthians 15:33

So you are where you are on purpose and for a purpose prepared in advance for the good works you are to perform!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

–from Ephesians 2

People are looking to you! People are looking for your example! People are being influenced by you. How are you responding to such a responsibility? How humbling is such a privilege to you? Jesus is our role model and we get the honor to get to pass it on to the world around us!


Day 35: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 18:25-36, Matthew 23, Job 33, Job 34

What is leadership? The state or position of being a leader! Other words that can be used to describe it include: directorship · governorship · governance · administration · captaincy · control · ascendancy · supremacy · rule · command · power · dominion · influence

A leader is the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. To lead means:

VERB

  1. cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc., while moving forward:
    “she emerged leading a bay horse”
  2. be in charge or command of:
    “a military delegation was led by the Chief of Staff”

    synonyms: be the leader of · be the head of · preside over · head · command ·

    govern · rule · be in charge of · be in command of · be in control of · run · control · direct · be at the helm of · administer · organize · manage · reign over · be in power over · head up
  3. be superior to (competitors or colleagues):
    “there will be specific areas or skills in which other nations lead the world”

    synonyms: be at the front of · be first in · be ahead of · head · outrun · outstrip ·

    outpace · leave behind · draw away from · outdo · outclass · beat · leave standing
  4. have or experience (a particular way of life):
    “she’s led a completely sheltered life”
    synonyms: experience · have · live · spend

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/

Today’s devotional speaks to leadership as influence shared by John Maxwell. He points out that, according to sociologists, even the most introverted individual will influence 10,000 other people during his or her lifetime!

So how will you live out today knowing that you will have influence on the world around you? How will you speak? How will you act? How will you respond? People are watching you! People are wanting to understand what makes you tick! So how will you reveal Jesus to them today and everyday of your life?

Today’s devotional provides us with these 3 tips…


1. Confidence … Psalm 18:25-36

25To the faithful you show yourself faithful,to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26to the pure you show yourself pure,but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. 27You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. 28You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;my God turns my darkness into light. 29With your help I can advance against a troop;with my God I can scale a wall. 30As for God, his way is perfect:The Lord’s word is flawless;he shields all who take refuge in him. 31For who is God besides the Lord?And who is the Rock except our God? 32It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 33He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;he causes me to stand on the heights. 34He trains my hands for battle;my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35You make your saving help my shield,and your right hand sustains me;your help has made me great. 36You provide a broad path for my feet,so that my ankles do not give way. –from Psalm 18

  • Confidence of God’s protection
    • 30As for God, his way is perfect:The Lord’s word is flawless;he shields all who take refuge in him.
    • 35You make your saving help my shield,and your right hand sustains me;your help has made me great.
  • Confidence of God’s strength
    • 32It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 33He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;he causes me to stand on the heights.
  • Confidence of God’s training
    • 34He trains my hands for battle
  • Confidence of God’s guidance
    • 28You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;my God turns my darkness into light.
    • 30As for God, his way is perfect:The Lord’s word is flawless;he shields all who take refuge in him.

2. Character … Matthew 23:1-39

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

–from Matthew 23

Your character is important! When people watch you, what do they learn about your character? What do they learn about  your  personality · nature · disposition · temperament · temper · mentality · makeup · features · qualities · properties · traits · spirit · essence · identity · ethos · complexion · tone · feel · feeling? Do your words align to your actions? Do your realize the trickle down effect?

Here are three quotes that seem to pull it together: Watch is the acronym – Words, Actions, Thoughts, Character, Habit

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

FRANK OUTLAW
Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores

and…

Plant a thought and reap a word;
plant a word and reap an action;
plant an action and reap a habit;
plant a habit and reap a character;
plant a character and reap a destiny.

and finally consider this one too…

Feeling issues in action, actions become habit, and habits crystallize into character. The formation of a good character, therefore, is largely dependent upon the right unfolding of feeling.

Pulling the topic of character back to this morning’s reading, we need to go beyond words and take it to heart! We need to allow God’s work in us to transform us from the inside out where our lives are just the overflow of God’s work in us! So let’s live our lives to glorify God! Not to glorify ourselves, but to exalt Him!

So let’s take on Jesus’ challenge from Matthew today!

  • Integrity
    • 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
    • Practice what you preach!
    • Let your words lift people up!
    • Share the load rather than loading them up!
  • Authenticity
    • 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
    • Who are you when nobody is looking?
    • God knows your secret and your public life, do they match up?
    • Develop an authentic private life with God!
  • Humility
    • 8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
    • It’s more than just a title or a position! So don’t fall in love with them!
    • It’s more than just being puffed up! So don’t be tricked into fancy titles or positions or flattery!
    • Don’t be tempted or tricked into being lifted up onto a pedestal!
  • Compassion
    • 13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
      15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
    • Be welcoming!
    • Be outreaching!
    • Be embracing!
    • 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
  • Vision
    • 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
    • Have a big vision! Pray to God for vision!
    • Concentrate on the important things!
    • Receive God’s vision and don’t go off track!
    • Ask God for a vision that is only possible to accomplish with Him by your side!
  • Focus
    • 23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
    • Put first things first and focus on what matters!
    • Don’t get lost in the small things and then miss out on the big things!
    • Let’s be about the big things like justice, mercy, and faithfulness!
    • Stand up for something so you won’t fall for anything!
    • Fight against injustice and poverty!
    • Demonstrate faithfulness in all the relationships you have
  • Generosity
    • 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
    • Don’t be greedy!
    • Don’t be selfish!
    • Don’t be self-indulgence!
    • Be filled with God and allow it to overflow so that you can be generous in all occasions!

Let’s raise the bar! Let’s bring up the average! Let’s not settle for what is average or common or we will end up in a situation where the average is on a downward trend!

One thing to remember and consider as we think about all of this is who Jesus’ audience was! So let’s review how this section of today’s devotional closes…

These are extremely high standards and very hard to attain. Jesus’ words here, as the ‘woes’ come to a climax (vv.29–36), are some of the strongest to come from his mouth. It is important to note that they were not addressed to ordinary people. Jesus was criticising powerful leaders who were seeking to ‘exalt themselves’ (v.12), and who ‘shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces’ (v.13).

We should not use these words as an excuse to berate ordinary people, or even leaders who are genuinely seeking to point people to Jesus. They are challenging words – but the challenge should not be directed at the wrong people!

What is so amazing about Jesus’ words is that humanly speaking he was in a position of great weakness, and yet he was not afraid to take on the powers of his day.

–from Day 35: Bible In One Year 2017


3. Criticism … Job 33:1-34:37

Remember to not lose hope! Remember to consider it pure joy!

So to close for today, I will share today’s thoughts from today’s devotional

As Rick Warren has pointed out, ‘Criticism is the cost of influence. As long as you don’t influence anybody, nobody is going to say a peep about you. But the greater your influence… the more critics you are going to have.’

Poor Job, who was in a prominent position of leadership (see chapter 1), has to put up with a constant tirade of abuse from his critics. It is more distressing because it comes from his so-called ‘friends’. Criticism is always hardest when it comes from those who should be our friends. It is sad when unjustified criticism of Christian leaders comes from within the church itself – from the so-called ‘friends’.

It must have been extremely galling for Job to have to listen to Elihu, who was much younger and yet convinced of his own experience, arrogantly saying to Job, ‘I will teach you wisdom’ (33:33) and ‘Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight’ (34:35). And to suggest that, because he disagreed with his critics, ‘To his sin he adds rebellion [against God]’ (v.37).

Elihu, like so many critics, claims to be ‘carefully thought out’ and to ‘have no ulterior motives’ (33:2–3, MSG). He claims that others agree with him, ‘All right-thinking people say – and the wise who have listened to me concur – “Job is an ignoramus. He talks utter nonsense”’ (34:34–35, MSG).

We too can easily fall into the trap of judging God’s people on a superficial basis, just as Elihu does. Beware of the dangers of criticising others.

Although it has been pointed out that no one ever built a monument to a critic, it does not stop us all wanting to be critics. Be very careful of what you say about other people. And if you are on the receiving end of criticism, don’t be surprised.

–from Day 35: Bible In One Year 2017

This was in relations to today’s reading from Job which spoke:

1“But now, Job, listen to my words;
pay attention to everything I say.
2I am about to open my mouth;
my words are on the tip of my tongue.
3My words come from an upright heart;
my lips sincerely speak what I know.
4The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5Answer me then, if you can;
stand up and argue your case before me.
6I am the same as you in God’s sight;
I too am a piece of clay.
7No fear of me should alarm you,
nor should my hand be heavy on you.
8“But you have said in my hearing—
I heard the very words—
9‘I am pure, I have done no wrong;
I am clean and free from sin.
10Yet God has found fault with me;
he considers me his enemy.
11He fastens my feet in shackles;
he keeps close watch on all my paths.’
12“But I tell you, in this you are not right,
for God is greater than any mortal.
13Why do you complain to him
that he responds to no one’s words?
14For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
15In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,
16he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,
17to turn them from wrongdoing
and keep them from pride,
18to preserve them from the pit,
their lives from perishing by the sword.
19“Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in their bones,
20so that their body finds food repulsive
and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22They draw near to the pit,
and their life to the messengers of death.
23Yet if there is an angel at their side,
a messenger, one out of a thousand,
sent to tell them how to be upright,
24and he is gracious to that person and says to God,
‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
I have found a ransom for them—
25let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
26then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,
they will see God’s face and shout for joy;
he will restore them to full well-being.
27And they will go to others and say,
‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right,
but I did not get what I deserved.
28God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’
29“God does all these things to a person—
twice, even three times—
30to turn them back from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on them.
31“Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
32If you have anything to say, answer me;
speak up, for I want to vindicate you.
33But if not, then listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”
–from Job 33
1Then Elihu said:
2“Hear my words, you wise men;
listen to me, you men of learning.
3For the ear tests words
as the tongue tastes food.
4Let us discern for ourselves what is right;
let us learn together what is good.
5“Job says, ‘I am innocent,
but God denies me justice.
6Although I am right,
I am considered a liar;
although I am guiltless,
his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.’
7Is there anyone like Job,
who drinks scorn like water?
8He keeps company with evildoers;
he associates with the wicked.
9For he says, ‘There is no profit
in trying to please God.’
10“So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.
11He repays everyone for what they have done;
he brings on them what their conduct deserves.
12It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.
13Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?
14If it were his intention
and he withdrew his spirit and breath,
15all humanity would perish together
and mankind would return to the dust.
16“If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.
17Can someone who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn the just and mighty One?
18Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’
and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’
19who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?
20They die in an instant, in the middle of the night;
the people are shaken and they pass away;
the mighty are removed without human hand.
21“His eyes are on the ways of mortals;
he sees their every step.
22There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness,
where evildoers can hide.
23God has no need to examine people further,
that they should come before him for judgment.
24Without inquiry he shatters the mighty
and sets up others in their place.
25Because he takes note of their deeds,
he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.
26He punishes them for their wickedness
where everyone can see them,
27because they turned from following him
and had no regard for any of his ways.
28They caused the cry of the poor to come before him,
so that he heard the cry of the needy.
29But if he remains silent, who can condemn him?
If he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he is over individual and nation alike,
30to keep the godless from ruling,
from laying snares for the people.
31“Suppose someone says to God,
‘I am guilty but will offend no more.
32Teach me what I cannot see;
if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.’
33Should God then reward you on your terms,
when you refuse to repent?
You must decide, not I;
so tell me what you know.
34“Men of understanding declare,
wise men who hear me say to me,
35‘Job speaks without knowledge;
his words lack insight.’
36Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost
for answering like a wicked man!
37To his sin he adds rebellion;
scornfully he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.”
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