Many have missed the power and blessings of God simply because they wouldn’t walk away from bad influences. I can tell who you are by the company you keep. Your friends are the proof of the person you think you are. I can tell your opinion of yourself by who you hang with.
What you’re comfortable with is decided by what you can hang with. Take an inventory of those you are comfortable being around. Monitor what your friends do in your presence. Take a moment and observe what’s happening in your life. Notice that the same thing is probably happening in your friend’s life.
- Who’s pouring into you?
- Whose voice moves you?
- Whose mentorship do you seek?
You must recognize that those pouring into you decide what’s coming from you. When I decided to grow and enlarge my territory, I had to discern who kept me from enlarging. I realized I had to have a different present if I wanted a different future. The most powerful statement you will ever need to hear is,
“Not every person connected to you is good for you.”
You change your life when you change your friends. Think for a moment; friends usually try to talk you out of change. If you announce that you are going on a diet, you will get a phone call from one of your friends who wanted to let you know they baked your favorite cake. When you decide to change, it will be at the expense of those you’ve chosen to run with. Let them go! I promise you. Your next season of friends will be way better than the ones you have in your present season.
My greatest enemy as a youth pastor was the wrong kids my youth would hang out with. I used to dread it when school started. Summer break meant the teens would be around positive influences. They would come to youth church and have zeal and hunger for the things of God. Then school would start. Those kids who were worshipping and excited about the things of God started looking dead and disoriented in the presence of God. What happened? They began to take on the attitude and atmosphere of those they were hanging out with at school.
I realized we would have to build a different kind of peer pressure to win this battle. We were going to have to change the mentality of the youth. We needed to establish a partnership opportunity for those in the Kingdom. So I began to monitor the attitude and connections the gang members were perpetrating, and I started a youth group gang. I called it the “Soul Patrol.” Yeah, I know it sounds corny now, but back in the eighties, it worked. I called it positive peer pressure. If someone walked up to my youth in school and made fun of them for blessing their food at the lunch table, my youth would stand up with pride and confidence and say boldly, “Absolutely, I’m praying. Why, are you too cool to do it?”They would walk down the hallway with their Bibles. If someone tried to embarrass them, they wouldn’t hide their Bible in shame. Instead, they would say with confidence, “WHERE’S YOURS?”
Positive Peer Pressure when you stand up against the flow of normal and walk faithful to God’s word, expect God’s faithfulness to produce favor. Sometimes you may have to walk alone, but only for a season.
Let’s look at an example of someone who stood up against peer pressure and faced great odds. God favored Him for it. This example lived many, many years ago. He was in the first generation of humans. We can find this example in Genesis chapters five through nine. This person was named NOAH.
Noah’s name means nuwach (noo’-akh); a primitive root; to rest, i.e. settle down; (to dwell, stay, let fall, place, alone, with-draw, give comfort, etc.)
Pay attention to the meaning of Noah’s name; notice that Noah’s name shows us that he was a man of rest. He settled. His name bears the mark that he was probably a peaceful and good man who didn’t cause a lot of grief and was always in good spirits. The Bible says that he was a righteous man.
Noah was a good man, but he lived among people who were wicked, rebellious, and involved in all kinds of sexual sins. They were a people running out of control. Man had become a cesspool of lust, hatred, and all other kinds of sin, but Noah stayed peaceful and restful. Noah stayed to himself. The best way to keep from falling into the trap of peer pressure is to stay away from those who can pressure you to fall.
Be comfortable with you. Be true to yourself. Don’t allow the popularity of others to stop you from being popular with God. Pleasing people is costly. Pleasing God is always rewarding in the end.
Noah had made up his mind to stay away from the God-haters. Instead, he decided to keep his altar and life connected to God’s ways instead of man’s.
“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created-and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground-for I regret that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7 NIV
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” Genesis 6:11-12 NIV
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD… Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” Genesis 6:8-9 NIV
Mankind had saddened the heart of God. Humanity had turned out wicked. But God said, “even the thoughts and intent of man’s heart was wicked continually.” Mankind had become persistently rebellious against God’s will. We begin to see the real plan and nature of God. God could have just wiped out mankind. He could have decided right then and there that man wasn’t worth the investment. But, instead, just as you think the enemy is gaining the upper hand on God, God punches back with His nature and plan. His love is far bigger than His disappointments.
God looked down and saw what man had become. God had considered in his heart wiping out mankind completely. Instead, God said, “I will destroy mankind and every living thing on the earth.” All of a sudden, the narration turns. The hurt turned into mercy and love. God couldn’t ignore one man who decided not to give in to the intentions of His heart. This man burned offerings to God, the God that Adam had taught about generation after generation. This man, Noah, puts a wrench in the wheel of judgment.
- God can’t ignore an offering!
- God won’t ignore your worship!
- God will never ignore your sacrifice!
Noah’s sacrifice turned God’s heart, and He could not completely wipe out mankind. “Noah found favor.” Noah found the F.O.G. (Favor of God), and the F.O.G. (Faithfulness of God) found Noah.
Just think how easy it could have been for God to erase all His troubles with one word of destruction. Think about it. Jesus would have never had to suffer. He would have never been crucified. All God needed to do was wipe out man, and that would have been judgment.
Yet there was one man named Noah who had not succumbed to the sins of the populace. He was a just, quiet, peaceful man living the best he could for God. God saw Noah, and God was reminded that no matter how bad mankind seemed, there was someone who walked in goodness. He would spare mankind as long as there was hope.
In Genesis chapter three, God told the serpent that a seed was coming that would crush the serpent’s head. If God had destroyed mankind, those words would have been void. We know heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s word will never die.
God told Noah to build an ARK! It was going to rain! God was about to create His great escape! He was about to become Noah’s “way maker.” God was faithful to Noah because Noah stayed faithful to God. I love this because it shows that God spared mankind because one man stayed loyal. This one decision spared many in the future. Don’t ever think that you stand for what is right and true and God isn’t making a difference. Not only did God spare Noah, but He also spared all of his family. God took care of what was connected to Noah. God was so merciful that He even allowed time for Noah to reach others and bring them into the ARK with him. Noah preached for 120 years, but no one came into the ARK except Noah and his family.
The ARK was a type of Christ. It was the place where judgment was spared. As long as Noah stayed in the Ark, he and his family would not feel the pain of judgment. Imagine sitting in that boat and listening to everyone screaming, “Noah! Let us in!” All Noah could do was cling to the ARK (Jesus).
Jesus is our ARK! When we come to Him and enter into His covenant, we will miss the judgment of God, and the ARK of His blood protects us. I believe God will always spare our family when we live according to His Word.