Dr. Ed Young - Influence
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Our Scripture is from the Book of Acts, chapter number 5. I'll read 12 through 15. "At the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were taking place among the people. They were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them. However, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on any one of them". When Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall upon one of them. I'm going to ask you to lift your hands in the air. Would you do that for a moment? And close your eyes and just hold your head up.
Our Heavenly Father, we lift our hands and our hearts and our minds and our bodies to thee. We look toward you for light, for insight. And Lord, I pray that you will speak to my heart and to my life, and speak unto every heart and every life your truth today. And Father, I've got nothing to say, let me get out of the way so that thy Word will explode with great supernatural power and change every one of us, as we seek thee, as we listen for thee. For this is our prayer, in Jesus' name, amen.
You may be seated. Once in a while does somebody tell you about an event or something that took place, and you say, "You know, I would have given anything to be there. You know, if I could have seen that, if I could have been caught up in that, that moment in time, oh, I would love to have been there". I read the Bible, and I bump into places there, and I say, "You know, boy, if I could have been there then. That's really something". And that's our Scripture today. We realize that Jesus was resurrected by the Father. He walked around this earth for 40 days and 40 nights. Made 15 or 16 different appearances. His last appearance was to over 500 men. They didn't count the women, so another 500 women. And we don't know how many teenagers and children.
So 1,500 to 1,600 people would have witnessed the resurrected Lord as he ascended into heaven. And following this, those apostles didn't know what that meant. They didn't know what to do. They didn't understand it. So they went in hiding, 120 of them, in the upper room. And when they came out, Peter stood and preached that great sermon there by the temple, the great Pentecostal sermon, and 3,000 people came to faith in Christ. Bam. First real sermon preached. Everyone heard the language of their native tongue through the inspiration and the touch of the Holy Spirit. What a moment. And then following that, the early church exploded, Acts chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, all those events, until finally, people were gathered and coming to the temple by great numbers, and they being taught and they were being healed. They came in cots and beds. They would carry them in.
And great supernatural healings was taking place. It got so strong that people would clammer to get in the shadow of the Apostle Peter. Evidently, he didn't have to say anything. He didn't have to lay on hands. Just they would get in his shadow, and they would be healed. We don't think much of a shadow, do we? Some of us learned a little rhyme. "I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me. And what could be the use of him is more than I can see". You remember that one? "I have a little shadow. It goes in and out with me. And what can be the use of him is more than I can see". A shadow, that little nothingness in follows us around when light reflects in a certain angle, you know. What is that shadow? What difference does it make.
Now, if you were to visit India, and you would see someone of a high Brahmin caste would be eating a meal, and an untouchable, the lowest caste, would walk by, and his shadow would simply past over the food of the Brahmin, he would feel the food had been contaminated. It was not worthy. He would throw it out. It would be evil. It would be dirty. Just the shadow would pass by. And when Mahatma Gandhi was with his movement of pacifism, trying to bring freedom and independence and democracy to India, they felt there was so much strength and blessing in the shadows of Gandhi. Now, he was a frail, little, skinny, shriveled up guy. And his shadow was very small, but they would just fight to get in his shadow because they felt there was blessing and power and significance, the shadow. How long is your shadow? How wide is your shadow, your influence? Because we're influenced by all sorts of things.
And every person here has a little shadow, has influence that follows you every step of every day that you and I live. Isn't that right? Now, what influence is others? It's fads, it's styles. I mean, who in the world tells the ladies here how your dress is to be? They're short and they're long. What about those high heels? They're flat, then they're 8 inches off the floor. I mean, what is the fad? Who starts all this? Who in the world was it that turned their baseball cap around and made it a rally cap? You know, it started a fad. What are these buttons on my coat for, you know? Anybody know what these buttons? They don't button anything. You know, why in the world are they there? Because a long time ago, in English tradition, they had those big flowery cuffs, and they would eat their meal, they would fold their shirt back and button to these buttons.
Long sense have we stopped doing that. But the buttons remain. You know, it's tradition. Somebody influences somebody else. The Sea of Galilee. The resurrected appearance of Jesus, and Peter said, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to fishing". Everybody else, "We're going with you". I mean, just that influence. One life, pulling on another life. One life drawing on another life. And so we understand about this shadow, about this influence, how it just works down in and through life. Let us be reminded that your influence, the shadow of your life and my life, is never neutral. In other words, it's never just, "You know, I'm not going to take either side. I'm just not going to speak out". Jesus said, "You're either for me or you're against me". There's no neutral ground. And so our influence is never neutral. It is never passive. It is a plus or it is a minus. That's the way things roll up.
What else about influence? Largely, our influence is not noticed. You don't look around and say, "Well, there's my shadow". I've stood up here a zillion times, I've never really noticed my shadow before. I do have a shadow. That's the way it is with our influence. We don't influence people usually when we stand up and try to influence people. You bring all your family together. "Okay, we're gone start going to church. We're gone be in Bible study. I want you kids to get up in the morning, and we're going to quit doing this and start doing this, and your dad's going to do this, and your mom is going to do this". We say, "Well, it's about time I exert some influence". Hey, you've been exerting influence prior to when they were born. So as members of the family of God, we want to cast as long a shadow of godly influence and as wide a shadow of influence as we possibly can.
Jesus today is the most influential individual life on this earth. It is still Jesus without any question. Now, what was the secret of his long shadow and broad influence? All right. He began his public ministry. He turned water into wine there at the wedding feast, right? And his whole ministry was just filled with miracles. The lame walked. The blind could see. The deaf could hear. The dumb could speak. Oh, here's one who is dead, he brought him back to life. God the Father raised him. This one, he brought this one back to life. Then he took a few scraps of food, and he fed thousands of people. He fed them. He fed them. And then his teachings. Oh, me, they're profound words, how to live, how to relate. The teaching of Jesus. This went on for about 3-1/2 years. Then what happened? He was crucified. His apostles said, "Oh, no, no, no. You need to stay around".
You see, everybody wasn't healed. Was everybody healed with Jesus? No. Everybody able to see? No. Everybody lame walk? Everybody brought back from the dead? No, no. Was everybody fed? No, no. You mean there was nobody left who was sick and needed healing? Nobody left who needed feeding? Oh, no, there were just many, many, but he didn't do it. His apostles said, "Hey, stay around". And when he's on the cross, the leaders, the elders said, "If you're of the Christ, the Messiah, you know, save yourself". The soldier said, "If you're the king of Jews, call some of your forces to get you down from that cross". The thief there, hanging on the cross said, "Look, save yourself, and by the way, save me. Save me".
You see, they said, "You need to stick around. You need to exert more influence". But he was the most influential man who ever lived, and he lived only 3-1/2 years on this earth. Could it be that his death was the most influential thing he could ever do? It was. Name any problem in the world today. Just pick out one. International problem, personal problem, corporate problem, individual problem, family problem, relationship problem, and I can tell you, if you solved the problem, excuse me, I don't mean to sound preachery, it's just the cold, hard, steel facts. If you solve the problem of S-I-N. Every situation you can name, you can't name one, on the face of this planet is eliminated. And that's what Jesus did on the cross. It was his death on the cross that became the most influential act in history.
Now, here's the question we got to ask: How can my shadow get longer? How can your shadow get longer? How can my shadow get wider and your shadow of influence get longer? How does that work? Two principles. Stay with me. You got to think just for a moment. Stay with me. Two principles. First is the Sabbath principle, and the second is the fruit principle. What is the Sabbath principle? Go to Genesis. God created the earth, one, two, three, four, five, six days, right? On the sixth day, he created man, okay? What did he give the assignment to man? He said, "You are to have dominion. You're to be stewards. You're to be over the whole earth". We were called to do that, human beings. He said, "Then you are to be fruitful and multiply". We're to populate the earth. Dominion and be fruitful. That happened the sixth day.
Now, the seventh day, what happened? God said, "You rest". That's the Sabbath. That's now the resurrection day we have on Sunday, the first day of the week. He says, "You're to rest". Now, notice something. Listen carefully. This is interesting. I only, I'd never seen this before. I had the idea that we work six days, and we get so exhausted, and we rest the seventh day. But that's not the order. It is the first thing that they did was not to have dominion and to be fruitful, first thing they did was have their Sabbath. It's out of the Sabbath comes our work. It's not our work and then the Sabbath. See the order? It's the Sabbath, and then out of the worship, comes our work. It's not that we work and work and work and then we have the Sabbath. So we had to begin to lengthen our shadow with the Sabbath principle, and this is explained and enunciated beautifully if you'll look with me in the gospel according to John.
John chapter number 15. Listen. Jesus is speaking. Listen carefully. He said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He take away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes," bang, "He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you". Here it is, verse 4, "Abide in Me," said Jesus, "and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me".
Now, what is all of this antique language about? Follow me. Here is a vine. That's Jesus. You and I are branches. You see it? We're branches. And here is the rotation: We abide. In other words, a branch just takes up residence in the vine. That's where the branch is nourished. That's where the branch has life. We abide. And then we grow. Okay. Then we bear fruit. Puny fruit. And it's pruned. This goes on for 3 years when a vine is planted for grapes. You abide, you grow, you bear fruit, you're pruned. Who does the pruning? The Father God does the pruning. I don't say, "Oh, Lord, I'm abiding in Christ. I need to stop this or start this". You just abide, the Father will cut all the stuff out. He'll add all the... he does the pruning.
Okay. And that whole limb is whopped off because there was no fruit there. Oh, it had a lot of foliage. The limb looked good. The branch looked good. And a lot of us go to church and we listen to the Bible, we go to Bible study, we pray, we got all this biblical knowledge, but there's no fruit. You see, if we're going to cast a long shadow and be really influential in the world, it's not that we do more or give more or work harder or strive more, what does a branch do? Just abides in the vine. Does the branch say, "Ooh, I want to spew out some grapes"? No, no, no. And what is the fruit anyway? What does God want to hang on your life, the branch? If you're a branch and I'm a branch, we abide in the vine, what does he want to hang on your life? That's Galatians 5. He wants to hang fruit, like, love and joy and peace and kindness and goodness, patience, and gentleness, and self-control.
You see, all this is the fruit. Look at your life and my life. If the fruit of my life, you saw me, there's a lot of joy. You think I want to influence people? You see in my life there is not patience. You see in my life, there is not love. You see in your life and my life, there is not long suffering. You see in your life and my life, you start hanging this kind of fruit on your life by practicing that Sabbath principle by abiding in Christ and letting him prune all that that needs to be taken out of your life, God does that. And I'm going to tell you, there is a life that is magnificently influential. Do you see it? You bump into somebody that's got fruit like that hanging around, you bumped into somebody that will affect your life unbelievably. Right? That's what it's all about.
I want to show you something. So the more intimate we are of the vine, or the closer we get to the light, I want to show you something about a light here. Show you something about a light. I want you to see there's my shadow over here. Now, the farther away I get from that light, look how small I'm getting. I'm about normal there. If I moved on out far enough, I wouldn't even have a shadow, would I? But notice something. As I get closer to the light, what happens to my shadow. It's a lot bigger than I am. The shadow is getting larger and larger. Look at my shadow over there. Isn't that something? How did that happen? I got closer to the vine, closer to the light, which is God and Jesus Christ, therefore, my shadow is longer and bigger.
And that is your influence and my influence. That's how we have longer influence, wider influence. Not by trying and working and going and doing, we just hang that fruit on our lives. God takes care of that. He puts that fruit up there. And you look out there and say, "Goodness. I was patient. I'm not patient. Oh, my, my goodness. I'm kind. Ooh, I'm not generally kind". Because I'm close to the light and I'm a branch, a body in that vine, and the Father's been pruning a lot of stuff and dead wood and silly leaves out of my lives, all of a sudden, I've got a longer, wider shadow. You got it?
There was a orator by the name of Demosthenes. He was speaking to a large crowds of people. He was talking about life, important things of life, birth, life, death, international relations, family, vocations, livelihood, financial means. And he noticed the audience was, some of them were going to sleep. I can identify with him. And so he stopped his oration, and he told this story. He said once there was a man who was carrying a large load of wood on his back. And he said he had to walk up this high, steep mountain, just a rocky mountain. And he said he got to the foot, and he didn't know how in the world he'd be able to carry that load over to the village on the other side, but he saw a farmer there who had a donkey tied to a stake, and he went over to him, and he asked the farmer if he could rent that donkey and put his wood on the back of the donkey and go over the mountain, and he would bring the donkey back the next day.
So they agreed on a price. And this man rented the donkey, put the wood on the back of the donkey, and started up that steep rocky mountain. The middle of the day, the sun was beating down, he was winded, the altitude, he was sweating, and he knew he had to rest. And he looked for a shady place, or a shadow to sleep in. And there was no shade except the shadow of the donkey. So he went over there and curled up in the shadow of the donkey where it was cool in the mountains, and he went to sleep. Following him was the man who owned the donkey. And he's walking up the same mountain, and he gets halfway up, and he's exhausted and tired, and he decides he'll take a nap, and he looks over, and there's no shade, nowhere to sleep except the shadow of the donkey that he owns, but he's rented to this other man.
So he goes over to the man, and he wakes him up. He said, "Get out of the shadow of my donkey. I want to sleep there". He said, "No, no, I have rented the donkey, and the shadow goes with the donkey". He said, "Oh, no, in our negotiations, you said nothing about the shadow". So they get into a heated argument. Now, if this were the modern world, lawyers would come out of the bushes and hand both of them their cards. But that's not what happened. Demosthenes got to this story, and they were arguing, and he walked off the platform. He just left. Whew! He was gone.
And the crowd was shouting, "Demosthenes! Demosthenes! Come back. Tell us who had rights to the shadow of the donkey"? And they're arguing and they're shouting and they're calling him to come back. After a long period of time, the great orator, Demosthenes, he walked back in with all of his sophistication, and he got before the group, he quieted the group. He said, "Just as I thought. You're more interested in who owned the shadow of a jackass than you are the great issues of life".
Demosthenes was right, but Demosthenes was wrong because that shadow is all-important because you and I are like this: I have a little shadow that follows me everywhere. I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me. And what can be the use of him? Question mark. What can be the use of him? It is farther than I can see. How long is your shadow? How wide, how big is your shadow? The closer we get to the light, which is Jesus Christ, the more intimately we've related to the vine, which is Jesus Christ. We can be a branch that just hangs there, and God will place on the branch of your life and my life wonderful fruit, wonderful fruit that will affect everybody you touch, everybody who gets under the influence of your shadow.