Jentezen Franklin - The Power Of Influence
I'll begin reading with 1 Kings 13:29. "And the prophet took up the corpse of the man of God and laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. And so the old prophet came to the city to mourn and to bury him. And he laid the corpse in his own tomb, and mourned over him saying, 'Alas my brother.' So it was after he had buried him that he spoke to his son saying, 'When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where this man of God is buried. Lay my bones beside his bones'".
And I'll stop reading there. This is a remarkable story that has caught my attention when I'm reading, I usually try to read like a particular book of the Bible as I'm reading through the Bible, and focus on that book, and study that book. And as I read through 1 Kings, I love the Old Testament, this story really stands out to me. And I want to talk to you, if I have a title for this sermon it would be summed up in one word, "Influence". Influence, because this is a story, if you want to sum up what it's all about, it's about influence.
Let me take just a moment and tell you what was taking place, what was going on, and why it matters to your life today. The Bible said that a prophet came to the city of Bethel where Jeroboam was, he was the King of Israel, and he was blaspheming God in Bethel, which means the house of God. He was backslidden, he was worshipping false idol gods, and he was offering offerings to these idols in God's house. And a prophet was sent from the Lord from a foreign place, and this prophet walked in and he rebuked openly, in front of all the people this powerful king.
When he did the king was so angered that the Bible said that he stretched forth his hand to grab that man and kill him with his own bare hands. He wasn't even gonna let his bodyguards, or his soldiers do it. This king was so humiliated by that prophet, who was prophesying doom to his kingdom, that that king in anger reached for him, and when he did, miraculously, the Bible said that the king's hand withered. It withered up, and in that moment all of Israel saw that the power of God was so heavy upon that prophet that when the king tried to harm him, and hurt him, no weapon formed against him could prosper. And the most powerful hand in the nation could not touch him, and it withered in the presence of the God who was preserving him, and who had sent him.
The king was so humbled by this that he fell on his knees and he prayed to the prophet, and he said, "Please, don't leave me like this, forgive me", and the Bible said that the prophet prayed for his hand, and God restored his hand. I just want one Sunday like that before I die, that's all I want. Just one of those occurrences, just one time before I die. Especially somebody who doesn't like me to come at me and their hand to wither up. Guess that's why God won't let it happen, He can't trust me with that kind of power. But isn't that a cool story? You know that's a cool story. I love stuff like that.
And then what really caught my attention is the king then, in an act of gratitude, says to this prophet of God, "Come to my palace, come eat with me. I'm going to throw a massive banquet in your honor tonight, come". And his answer was remarkable, the prophet said to the man of God, "The Lord has", or the prophet said to the king, "The Lord has commanded me not to eat, nor drink in this polluted land". I'm not for sale, my gifts are not for sale, I was sent here to tell you something, and I've backed it up by the power of God on my life, and I'm not here to wine and dine with you, I'm here because God gave me a word for you, and now I'm leaving.
And he said, "The Lord commanded me not to eat a meal in this polluted land". And he said, if you read the story, he said, "God even told me, 'Don't go back the same way you came. You go out a different way, and don't ever go back unless I tell you to'". And so this story should have ended right there as a miraculous testimony, amazing legacy of a prophet who obeyed God and influenced the nation and the king in a powerful, powerful way. But the story doesn't end there.
The Bible said in that same land was an old backslidden prophet, who used to have the word of the Lord, and who used to have the touch of God, and who used to have the prophecy, and the prophetic word for the king and for the people. But the king had paid him off, and made him a very wealthy man, and he began to alter his message because the king paid him to prophesy good things, and when he did that, the anointing of God lifted off of his life. And now he's just an old prophet, and old shell of a mighty man that he used to be in the early years of his ministry, this prophet no doubt saw mighty miracles, and had the word confirmed with signs and wonders when he would speak. But now, he's just a shadow, he's just an empty shell of the powerful, powerful man that he used to be.
But listen to what happened, the Bible said that his sons were there when this new, young prophet came with the word of the Lord and they watched the whole miracle. And they ran home to their father, and they said, "Dad, you'll never believe what happened in the presence of the king today", and they told him the whole story of the hand withering and then being healed. And the old prophet felt something in him moving, something that he used to have, that he used to feel, that he used to experience.
That anointing, that just a little flicker of the power that he used to know in God, and when he heard it he said, I've got to get that prophet to come to my house, I want to meet him, I want greet him, I want to talk to him. And he got on his donkey and he went and he found the man as he was leaving the country and he encountered him and he said to him, "Come with me. Come with me. Come home, I'm a prophet of God". And he told him some of the miracles that he had done and how they believed the same doctrine, and he believed in one God, and all of that. And the prophet said, "But God has commanded me not to eat or drink in this polluted land".
Now, watch this, this is where the story gets strange. The old prophet wanted him so much to come to his house that he made up a story, the Bible said he lied, and he said you don't understand, this is the old prophet talking to the young prophet. He said, "An angel came to my house, that's how I knew you were here. An angel came to my house and told me to invite you to my house, and told me to tell you that God said for you to come eat at my house". It was, the scripture goes on to say, "And it was a lie".
It reminds me of the New Testament verse that said, "If any man comes preaching any other gospel, even if it's like an angel and he looks so holy, and has miracles, and signs, and wonders, if he's preaching any other gospel but that which I have preached unto you", Paul said, then you better know that he's cursed, and you will be too if you follow him. And tragically, tragically, this old prophet used his influence on a new, young, anointed vessel, and the man said, "Well, if an angel told you, then it must be God". And he went home to the old prophet's house and he ate the meal, and they sat around the table, and they shared stories of the faithfulness and the miraculous power of God.
I'm sure they exchanged stories of places they had preached, and meetings they had had, and healings that God had done, and miracles, and I'm sure it was a wonderful time, I'm sure the old prophet, he felt better about his own condition after hanging out with someone so spiritual and so freshly anointed and on fire for God. And the scripture said that he said, "Just stay and spend the night". But the man said "No, I must make haste, God told me to get out of this polluted land, and I did what you said the angel said, but I've got to go".
He got on his donkey and he left, and the Bible said that while he was going down the road that there was a lion, there was a lion that saw that prophet that had disobeyed the word of the Lord, and attacked that young man and killed him. And when you read this story the thing that stood out to me is when he heard it, the old prophet heard it. Someone came by and said, "Something has happened down the road". He said, "What is it"? He said, "That prophet that encountered the king today, a lion killed him".
Suddenly the old prophet's heart sunk and he runs outside, and he goes on a horse to get to where he is, and when he gets there, the lion is standing there over the dead body of the prophet. The donkey has not been attacked by the lion, the lion obviously was sent by the Lord on an assignment. You better be careful because we're living in lion country. You can't just do your own thing in times like these, and in days like these. Your life better be guided by the word of the Lord. You better not do it because everybody else is doing it, you better not do it because everybody else says it's alright. You better get the word of the Lord for your life and work out your own salvation with fear. With fear and trembling. This is serious.
Turn to somebody and say, "We live in lion country whether you know it or not". One wrong step, and we don't hear this kind of preaching. All we want to hear about is bless me and all this, but I'm gonna tell you something, who you hang out with, and who you listen to, and what direction you go with, we better wake up and realize we're in lion country. And suddenly it hit that old prophet, he got the corpse of the dead prophet, and brought him home, buried him in his own tomb that he had bought for himself.
And then one of the strangest commandments in all of the Bible is given when he turns to his sons as the dead prophet is laying in his tomb, and he says, "When I die, I don't want you to buy another tomb and put me in it, I don't want you to bury me beside him. I want you to put my bones where this prophet's bones are, and where I am buried, he will be buried. When I die you'll bury me in the same grave, under the same tombstone, in the same grave site, because if it wasn't for me, he would still be preaching. If it wasn't for me, he would still be saying 'thus saith the Lord.' He wanted to, he wanted to do right, but I used my influence".
Now this isn't in your Bible, I'm reading this in now, but it's the truth. The only reason that good, godly prophet is in the grave is because an old shell of a prophet, who didn't have the fire and the touch of God, used his influence in an evil way, and he said, "The same tomb that my bones are in, now his bones are there and it's my fault, because my influence destroyed his ministry".
I want to preach about the power of your personal influence that you can have on someone else. Adam was in the garden alone and God said, "It's not good for him to be alone". And in that moment influence started. He made a woman, and suddenly there was the potential to influence one another, for good, or for evil, but influence is very powerful. The apostle Paul said, "No man lives unto himself, and no man will die unto himself". It means how you live, and how you die, others will follow the pattern that you set. They will walk in the footprints that you leave. They will go by example into the same tomb. Their bones will be buried spiritually with you, because your influence either for good or for bad, no man lives unto himself, man dies unto himself.
It's that steady influence that has such impact. And we have to understand, we can cast a healing shadow on people's lives, or we can absolutely cause distress and disaster in people's lives with our influence. It's the only thing that will outlive us, is our influence. One of the most powerful forms of influence is that which is influencing our children, and our young people. We need to strive to be good influences in our young people's lives. Parents and fathers can have evil influence on their children. The Bible said of Ahaz that he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father, Ahab, and his mother, Jezebel.
We influence our children. You cannot say that, "Let them choose". Because you have a shadow of influence. The power of influence is that it lives on after we die. No man lives unto himself, no one dies unto his self, but their influence lives on. I'm saying to you today that Abraham is dead, but he still speaks. His influence still speaks to me of faith. Moses still speaks to me of meekness. David still speaks to me of worship. Joshua still speaks to me of courage. Paul still speaks to me of determination.
So many who are dead, and yet, they still speak. My dad's influence still speaks. I still see him preaching with tears, I still see him praying in the sanctuary on Saturday, and sometimes I would sneak up there when he didn't know that I was in there, and I would get up under the pews, and he had told us to don't come in the church, but it was mysterious thing to watch him pray, and watch him walk those aisles of that little country church in Henderson, North Carolina and pray and pray. That influence was sinking into my soul, and into my spirit, and I'd watch him and he didn't know I was watching him, but that influence was getting on me.
I'd watch him on Saturdays and on Fridays as his mood would shift, and he'd begin to pull himself away from our family. He was a joyful, happy, kind of funny guy. Loved eating, loved people. He was a people person, but Friday would come around, and he would feel something come on him, and you could tell, "Daddy's going in his study, and we won't see him till Sunday night, pretty much after church". That influence now, guess what, I'm the same weirdo.
Cherise knows, she knows, she knows, we may be out at dinner somewhere or something, wedding, something or the other on a Friday, but there comes something on me at some point to where "Mm, Sunday, Sunday". And I don't wait till then, I'm always three or four weeks, I've got about five messages in this Bible, all the time, but you understand it's more to it than an outline. There's more to it, and I don't want to just preach a bunch of sermons, I want to influence young men and young women. My God, what a responsibility. If all we do is just have a little time and we leave, I want to somebody to feel God's presence in their life so strong that the influence will never leave their life, for His glory, for His glory. We need to guard our influence.
Proverbs 22:1 said, "A good name is rather to be had than riches of silver and gold". Be sincere, guard your influence, guard your influence with your family and with your children. I want it to be said, it was easier to live right, to live Godly, to live holy when Jentezen was alive. And when we have the right influence, that will be our testimony that our children will say, "It was easier to live right when they were alive". And if you weren't mad, you're gonna get mad now. Those bright, shiny eyes are watching you.
Those sons, those daughters, and you're casting an influence that's gonna live on, and when you're buried it's very possible, very even likely that they'll be buried in the same direction that you are. Therefore the sobering question I propose to you today, would your kids have a better chance of being saved if you were not their parent? Or you were not their grandparent? If you won't serve God for yourself, do it for your children, do it for your children's children. In the same grave where your bones lie, lies the bones of the ones you lead astray or you lead down the path to Heaven. Somebody is following you.
And everyday he would leave his house and he would go on his way to his office by a bar, and he would get a drink, and then he would go to his very successful practice in Chicago, a little bit lit. And one day he left his home on his way to the bar, and it was lightly snowing, just enough to leave a grazing on the sidewalk that would leave the imprint of a man's footprints. And as he walked all the way to his work, he lived in downtown Chicago, and he walked on the sidewalk. He was about to turn into that bar that he frequented every day, and when he did, he noticed in his peripheral vision his ten year old son, and he was stepping into the footprints of his daddy. He snatched that boy up, he ran home, took him down to the basement, fell on his knees and cried out, "Jesus save me, lest my footprints lead this child to hell just like I'm headed toward".
Somebody is following you. The terrible epitaph of Bethel was, "Here lies the bones of a backslidden prophet of God". But the tragedy is, in the same ground, under the same tombstone, here lies the bones of a man of God, who was anointed, but he was led astray by evil influence. Don't let the epitaph over your grave be, "Here lies the bones of a husband who would not serve the Lord". "Here lies the bones of a wife", "Here lies the bones of a teenager who would not serve the Lord". But the tragedy is, under that same grave, and then that same tombstone, "Here lies the bones of others who would have served God, who wanted to go to church, who wanted to do right, but your influence was so strong that you pulled them in the wrong direction".