God has worked through many different people to bring incredible blessings into my life. Is that true in your life also? Sometimes I do not realize the incredible blessing God gave me through someone else's life until long after the blessing occurred.

No matter what your age, no matter who you are, can you make in your mind a list of people who have been a dominant, positive, godly influence in your life? Would you please do that right now? In your mind, would you think about the people who have changed your life for the better simply because you knew them?

As I thought about this lesson, I did that on paper. I made a list of men and women who changed my life for the better. In all of them, I found one thing obviously in common. It was the presence of God in their lives that touched my life.

  1. Allow me to take you back several thousand years ago.
    1. Our God of incredible love, mercy, and compassion wanted to offer all people the opportunity to return to Him.
      1. He began by producing a nation of people from one man.
        1. The nation was Israel.
        2. The man was Abraham.
      2. In time the descendants of Abraham through Isaac became slaves.
        1. God used His incredible power to deliver them from slavery.
        2. He led them to the foot of a mountain in a dessert where He vocally declared to them in their own language ten basic instructions they were to follow.
          1. Four of those instructions focused on how they honored Him.
          2. Six of those instructions focused on how they treated each other.
      3. Then God met with their leader, Moses, on that mountain to reveal to him many laws and the plan for a place to worship Him, a portable temple, a huge tent called a tabernacle.
      4. Moses shared the laws with Israel, and he had Israel to build this tabernacle to honor God.
      5. Listen to what happened on the day everything was completed and put together:
        Exodus 40:34-38 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
      6. From the moment that the tabernacle was assembled, the presence of God was constantly visible, day and night, in the center of Israel's camp.
      7. Right there in the center of everything God was visibly present.
      8. Listen to how essential this presence of God was in Israel.
        Numbers 9:15-23 Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the Lord's charge and not set out. If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the Lord they remained camped. Then according to the command of the Lord they set out. If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord's charge, according to the command of the Lord through Moses.
    2. That is not the only time that happened in Israel.
      1. Generations later a godly man named David wanted to build God a permanent temple.
        1. David captured the city of Jerusalem and made it both the royal city and the holy city.
        2. He was king of Israel, and as king he built himself a royal place.
        3. But he did not think it was appropriate for him to build himself a palace and not build God a temple.
        4. God said, "David, you will not build Me a temple, but your son Solomon will." (1 Chronicles 28:3-6)
      2. After David died and Solomon was Israel's king, he built an incredible temple for God.
        1. He dedicated that permanent structure with a prayer requesting that God hear prayers from both Israelites and people who were not Israelites that were offered at that temple.
        2. Listen to his reason: ". . . in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear (reverence) You as do your people Israel. . ." (2 Chronicles 6:33)
        3. Now listen to what happened when Solomon finished his prayer:
          2 Chronicles 7:1-3 Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, "Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting."
      3. God's presence was obvious in His temple, whether it was the portable temple called the tabernacle before Israel had a country, or was a permanent temple, the permanent structure in Jerusalem.
      4. When God exists in His temple, His presence is obvious.

  2. Perhaps your reaction is, "David, that is interesting, but all that occurred hundreds, even thousands of years ago. That is all Old Testament stuff. We belong to Christ. I am interested in New Testament insights."
    1. May I make a request of you? Would you read attentively with me as I share with you some statements that Peter made to Christians? All these statements are found in 1 Peter chapter 2. Let's begin with 1 Peter 2:4,5:
      And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
      1. Now consider 1 Peter 2:9:
        But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
      2. Now consider 1 Peter 2:11,12:
        Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
      3. Consider some obvious declarations Peter made to Christians in the statements:
        1. We who are Christians are God's temple.
          1. God lives in us.
          2. God's presence should be obvious in us.
        2. We exist as Christians to serve two purposes:
          1. To offer sacrifices to God, the sacrifices God wants, through Jesus Christ.
          2. To declare specific ways in which God is wonderful--we want all people to see the great qualities of the God who saved us.
        3. All that being true, do not live like the people who do not know God.
          1. People who do not know God may hate the way we live, even call it evil.
          2. But, in time, the way we live will influence them to honor God.
    2. One of the studies called to my attention recently focused on why people who are not Christians visit a church assembly.
      1. As you think with me, please do not confuse the questions.
        1. The study was not about why we want them to visit.
        2. The study was about why such people did visit.
        3. The study was not about our reasons but about their motivations.
      2. Among the top things people who do not attend church look for when they visit a church is God's presence.
      3. For a lot of people, there is an enormous absence of God's presence in life.
      4. Consider the contrast.
        1. When I was a teenager:
          1. Often school days began with a Bible centered devotional.
          2. There were special religious presentations made in the class room.
          3. There were special religious assemblies in the school.
          4. Most of the kids I knew went to church somewhere.
          5. Even the few who did not go to church were expected by their parents to submit to Christians standards.
          6. Drugs had a zero presence anywhere.
          7. Very few students drank, and the majority of people considered drinking as unacceptable.
          8. Religious discussions could (and did) occur anywhere, including the work place.
          9. Churches were regarded to be a significant asset to the community and were often given special help and consideration by the community.
        2. Times have changed radically.
          1. There is to be no presence of religion in any form in the school.
          2. The majority of teens do not attend church anywhere.
          3. Parents who do not go to church do not impose Christian standards on their children.
          4. Drugs and drinking have a significant role in the lives of people.
          5. Religious discussions are not to occur in the work place.
          6. Churches often are not regarded to be an asset to a community.
      5. I do not think it was possible to live in this society fifty years ago and not be exposed to Christians influences--at least not in the southern United States.
      6. It is quite possible to live in this society today and have zero exposure to Christian influence.
    3. In no way am I making a political statement or suggesting oversimplified answers.
      1. I just want to make one simple point: if people should be able to go anywhere and experience the presence of God, it should be here.
      2. When someone is with us, we want it to be obvious that God is here.
      3. It should be obvious that we are here to praise and glorify God, and we want God here.

When we began thinking together, I asked you, in your mind, to list the people who had or have a powerful, positive, godly influence on your life. Let me ask one more question: would anyone put you on their list?

How can you be that kind of influence? First, let it be obvious in the way you live your life that God's presence in your life is vitally important to you. Second, really care about people. Third, do good in Jesus name at every opportunity.

Consider two goals. Make it your goal that when people see you, they also see the presence of God. Make it your goal to be a godly, positive influence in the lives of the people you know.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 4 May 2003

Study Along With David Chadwell
A Worship Worksheet For Older Kids
May 4, 2003

God works through ________ to bring incredible ______________ into our lives.

Make a list of people that have had a godly influence on your life: _____________, _______________, _________________, ___________________, _____________

Several thousand years ago God wanted to offer all _____________________ the chance to return to him because of his love, mercy and compassion.

He began by producing a nation through one man, ____________________________.

Over time the descendants of Abraham through ________________ became ________________.

God used his _____________ to deliver them from slavery.

God provided the Ten Commandments. ____________ of them focus on how the people gave honor to God. _______________ focused on how to treat each other.

______________ wanted to build God a permanent temple.

God told him that he would not build it, but his son ___________________ would.

When this temple was built Gods presence was _______________.

Some obvious statements Peter makes in I Peter 2 are:

    ______________ are God's ______________________

    God _____________ in us.

    God's ________________ should be obvious in us.

When people visit a church the main thing they want is to experience _________ _________________.

Of all the places people go, they should be able to _______________ God's presence when with us.

Two goals for you: Make it your goal that when people see ____________ they see the presence of God. Second, make it your goal to be a ____________________ in the lives of people you know!

provided by Gary Brown

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