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Be an Influencer

The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it — rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers. (Jonah 3:5)

An unpopular message, delivered by an unwilling messenger, after a hard struggle to get to the point of obedience. How many times are we called by God, equipped by him, and then we find we question the 'thing' he would have us do? Perhaps more than some of us might like to willingly admit. Have you ever wondered if your life could ever make an impact? Perhaps you have listened to people in your past or present who repeatedly belittled you - making any hope of making any difference a thing we consider to be out of reach for us. Maybe you have tried to make an impact - venturing into one area or another, only to have run into brick walls and resistant forces - making you question if the 'thing' you felt compelled to do was really him telling you to do it. Impact is really nothing more than being an influence - the results are in God's hands - we are just asked to do the 'thing' he asks us to do. It doesn't matter what we do (or don't do, for that matter), we are "impacting" someone because we are being obedient to what he asks us to do!

Jonah told himself he could never impact the city of Ninevah - a huge city which took nearly three days to traverse. He was one man, on a mission, with a message he wasn't too certain would be received all that well. The impact of one can influence the masses - when the steps of the one are ordered by God. Imagine being in his shoes for just a moment. This is a huge city, made up of those of differing beliefs than his - there weren't about to be a lot of 'God followers' lining the streets as he entered it that day. He was about to enter into some pretty "unfamiliar" territory - away from his home, in a foreign land, with foreign beliefs and customs. Isn't this one of the hardest things we are asked to do - going where we are the least familiar or doing what we are least comfortable doing? I'd like us to consider this important fact - God often sends those who are least familiar or least comfortable because they are less likely to make excuses for the actions they see! In fact, God often uses the one who comes with "new eyes" into the situation because they have no preconceived "limitation" on how they can alter the situation.

He goes one day's walk into the city limits. The crowds are gathering around as this one solitary preacher delivers the message of God's condemnation of this entire city - not a popular message, and likely one that could have gotten him stoned or fed to the lions! Imagine the impact this message had the potential of making in Jonah's life, not just theirs. Here he was, a foreigner with a very unpopular message, proclaiming it just as God had asked. I'd be trembling in my sandals, folks! I trust God, but come on! One against a city of who knows how many? The odds don't seem fairly stacked, do they? Oh, did I forget to mention it was one OBEDIENT soul against a city? God can do more with one obedient soul than he can with a million wishy-washy, mamby-pamby pew-warmers! Uh oh! Gone to meddling now! Whenever we get "real" with God, he gets "real" IN us - that means we can be instruments of change. The reality of God's presence with Jonah was definitely an influence within the city of Ninevah. It was more than the message - it was the evidence of God within this preacher that I am sure made the difference! The presence of God determined the impact of the message - it wasn't just the message! It is the presence of God in your life that alters the lives of those you are called to influence today!

The story goes on to tell us even the king was touched. The entire city was called to a fast - a time of mourning for their sin, deep repentance, and seeking God's mercy (a God they had previously not known or worshipped). Look at who God used to accomplish this - a man who had been disobedient, resistant to doing God's will, but who had just experienced afresh the mercy and forgiveness of God! Nothing speaks louder than the mercy of God in a forgiven life! If you think you have nothing to offer a hurting world - think again! The mercy and forgiveness of God within us speaks clearly even when we think we have nothing "good" or "important" to offer! Just sayin!

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