Do not forget God when He promotes you and blesses you. This was one of King David’s most difficult seasons to stay faithful. David had remained faithful in natural things as a boy in his father’s house. David had remained faithful when Saul pursued him in a season of adversity. Many people struggle to remain faithful in adverse circumstances. They do all right when all is going well, but when adversity comes, they give up, they faint, they get bitter, they refuse to forgive, they seek vengeance, they let go of their morality, they turn to pleasure seeking. But David was faithful.
And now finally, the long-awaited dream arrives for David. I am sure he intended to stay faithful to God even while King. The day finally came when David becomes King as Samuel had said that he would. 2 Samuel 5:1-4 says, “All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’ ” When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.”
David now enters the third stage of life – for purposes of this messages we are calling that stage- the season of influence. This is what I consider to be the most difficult season of life to stay faithful in. David is now put in a place of influence. David is now the leader in Israel. He is king. He has the power to do what he wants to do. The next 40 years, David must remain faithful. If he remains faithful, he will leave a legacy that would be known around the world. If he is unfaithful, as King, every act of unfaithfulness would ultimately become known.
DO NOT FORGET GOD AS DAVID DID!
Of course, those of you with a bit of biblical knowledge know that David had at least two occasions in his life during this stage when he was unfaithful. It is no secret at all that the giant killer was brought down by a woman. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. David took another man’s wife. From the vantage point of his rooftop he looks out upon the city and he sees a beautiful woman bathing, and he inquires about her, calls for her, sleeps with her. She becomes pregnant, informs David of that and he tries to cover that up, and ultimately winds up having her husband murdered. He is later confronted by Nathan the Prophet. That moment of unfaithfulness cost David an incredible amount of pain and sorrow. Just as there is a reward for faithfulness, there are consequences to unfaithfulness.
David’s second act of unfaithfulness was to number the fighting men underneath his control. David without God’s permission called for a census of how many men in Israel were there ready to carry the sword. God didn’t tell him to do it. He did it because he wanted to feel pride in the greatness of his army. God only wanted him to feel pride in the greatness of his God. There were great consequences to that sin as well.
I am only telling you this because you see David for the most part was faithful. Yet those two very brief moments in David’s life – probably only a few months long became part of the legacy David left. But the good news is that God forgives. He is known in scripture as “the man after Gods own heart.” He is called the Psalmist of Israel. He was a worshipper. He was a lover of Jehovah God. There is no doubt in my mind that David is with God today. The Messiah came from his linage. Yet the lesson of his life is real:
Do Not Forget God!
Two lapses in his faithfulness would be long remembered and would have devastating consequences both in his family and in the nation he led. Remember this – David had already passed through two stages of life and had been 100% faithful. But you see the season of influence is the most difficult stage in which to remain faithful.
WE ARE IN A SEASON OF INFLUENCE
The truth is most of us reading this article to one degree or another are in the season or the stage of influence. That season of influence is the most difficult time in your life. When you are going through adversity you know you need God and as a result you seek Him.
But when you have health, and a nice 401k, when you have reached a level of blessing where you are making really good money, and now you have the opportunity to travel, and you have worked hard, and you have gained ground and become a leader. That is when the temptation is the greatest to leave the foundation of truth you have established for your life.
Many of you hold positions of influence in your business or in the company you are part of. The great majority of you are parents or grandparents, or aunties or uncles. You influence children. Some of you are teachers. Most of you have friends that will listen to you if you have something to say. I think that the majority of you would be astounded if you would take a survey and write down the names of family members and neighbors and church friends and work associates that you have a measure of influence with. John Maxwell says that the average will have influence with an astounding 10,000 people in your lifetime.
You may be thinking, I don’t have any influence. You do. God’s word says you do! Why? You are salt. You are light. Whether you acknowledge it or not, your life has a message. Your life has a meaning. You are a book and your life story is read by those around you, and it matters if you are faithful.
The question in this stage of life is: Will you use your influence for Gods glory or to suit your own pleasures?
A few years ago, I was watching the local news. My heart was so grieved. I couldn’t even watch it for long. They showed a pastor in a church here in Houston and the allegations against him was that he was using his position of influence so that the congregation would buy him a $150,000 Bentley Automobile. And it made the 10:00 nightly news. I am certain that pastor did not realize that his fifteen minutes of fame would be about using his influence for personal gain.
I will tell you this about that pastor. I don’t even know him, but I can assure you he had moments when he was faithful in natural things. He had moments of adversity in his life and he came through them faithfully. But he failed when it came to his using his influence wisely.
The truth is that today in our culture and in our society there is a huge gap when it comes to integrity.
A CRISIS IN OUR LEADERS
How much do we trust our leaders? Public trust in the government remains near historic lows. Only 17% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” or “most of the time”. In the 1960’s that trust level was between 70 and 80 percent. How much do we trust those with influence? According to Yale School of management. Only 35% of the people in America believe that their leaders are honest. Less than half of us. Apparently, something has gone drastically wrong in the season of influence.
Dr. J. Robert Clinton, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary believes that more than 70 per cent of men and women who arrive at a position of influence and leadership do not finish well. More than 70% do not finish well. For one reason or another some area of unfaithfulness brings them to the point in the race where they don’t finish well
What happens to those who do not use their place of influence wisely? We probably won’t end up like that poor pastor on the evening news. But the truth is that the majority of those who lose their influence just quietly fade into obscurity. It is almost as though the story of their lives was written with invisible ink, they leave no positive mark on history, they simply fade away. Do not forget God and silently slip into obscurity. That is not God’s intention for your life. He wants you to remain faithful in the season of influence. God wants you to finish well. God wants you to run through those pearly gates knowing that there is a commendation coming. Why? Because you were faithful.
Let’s get back to David for a moment. How could have David better navigated his life through that season of influence? Let’s give David a little credit here. There were some things that he did right. There were others he could have done better at.
There are three lessons we can learn from the life of David.
Use your influence to…
- Give Honor To Those Who Deserve Honor.
Do not forget God is also in the business of blessing others. One of the outstanding legacies of David’s life is that he knew how to give honor. He gave honor to those whom God had called into a position of honor.
In particular, David always honored those who had been anointed by the Lord. A man came to David claiming to have killed Saul. He had been wounded in battle and this guy more or less just claimed to have finished him off. Understand that Saul had tried to kill David repeatedly. Everyone thought that the man who killed Saul would probably receive a position of honor or some type of reward. And this man comes to David all proud of his accomplishment thinking to get with the new king bringing Saul’ s crown believing he will receive a reward.
The reward he received was not the reward he expected. David gave honor to the Lords anointed. David had the man killed for lifting his hand against the Lords anointed. Here is the interesting part. David’s influence was so strong among his men, that when the news came, all of those with David reacted in the same way. They were all grieved by Saul’s death. These were men who were exiles from Israel largely due to the fact that King Saul was not right.
2 Samuel 1:11-12 “Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”
How often could each one of use could use our influence to give honor to those who deserve honor. How many times have you been at the water fountain at work, or around the break room, or in the lobby of a church and somebody says something. Your comment could turn and sway the whole conversation. Let me encourage you to Give honor to those to whom honor is due.
Honor your mother and your father
Honor your boss.
Honor the one who is teaching.
Honor those who have leadership over you.
Honor those who labor hard among you.
Honor those who achieve.
Honor those who study hard.
How about this one.
Honor those who tried and failed. At least they tried.
Let me challenge you to be a person of a different sort. Use your place of influence to honor those around you. Our Western Culture does not honor. In Eastern cultures they bow to one another. When we were in India years ago, I figured something out. For us Texans, we look at part of that Indian culture, the moving of the head side to side seems a little odd. I distinctly remember watching a conversation and suddenly it dawned. They move their head like that to say, “I am listening to you. What you say has value. You are important to me.”
Give honor. Don’t forget that God honors others. As God established David’s kingdom, the battle between the house of Saul and David was great. Unfortunately, many died in the establishment of David as King. Yet, there came a day when David influence was undeniable. He was now firmly established as King. What did David do? Instead of looking around and saying, Is there anybody here who can honor me? David looked around for someone to honor.
2 Samuel 9:1 “David asked, “Is there anyone still left in the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
A search found that Saul had a grandson by the name of Mephibosheth. He was Jonathan’s son. They discovered that he was lame in both feet. To make a long story short…David brought him before him, he restored all of Saul’s lands and possessions to him, and he made him to eat at David’s table with the Kings Sons. David used his influence to show kindness to the weak. He honored the former Kings grandson by making him one of his own sons at his table.
And then, David used his influence to honor the strong. No other king has a list of mighty men. David himself was a great warrior. You can read of the expansion of the kingdom and the many peoples who were made subject to David. He won many battles. I am certain that as they sat around and recounted the stories that David didn’t take the glory for himself. He honored those mighty men around him. Those men loved him so much they would risk their lives to get him a drink of water.
Some people don’t have any problem giving honor to the weak…but let another strong person rise up in their sphere of influence. They have trouble with that…because they want to be the only strong one. Give honor. What good does it do to give someone a bouquet of flowers when they are dead. Give it to them while they are alive.
The greatest thing we could do in our church is what I call reflected praise. Someone tells Jureen, the worship really touched my heart. She gives honor. She says, it because we have musicians that love the Lord and they practice hard and they strive for excellence and they pray over the thing. They talk to them and say thank you for your excellence. They say, it’s not us. We have talented singers and they have such an anointing. But when you talk to the singers. They say really, it’s not me, it is that group of people who pray for us. Without their prayers the service would go flat. And so we honor the people that pray. They just say it’s not us. It’s the Lord that did it. He gets all the credit anyhow! Remember the Lord! Reflected praise! Reflected honor! We bounce it back off of one another…until finally Jesus gets all the glory.
The second thing that we can do that David did was
2. Make God’s House a Priority.
Do not forget God by going to his house! David Used his influence to establish the priority of God’s house. If you read the book of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles you will see that David personally spent a great deal of energy and time in establishing worship in the city of Jerusalem.
He used his influence to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. He didn’t delegate that to others. He was personally involved in it. David personally danced in front of the ark with all of his might and all of his heart. Why? That ark represented the manifested presence of almighty God in their midst. What a joyous occasion as they brought the ark of the covenant into the city of David.
Of course, it was David who had in his heart to build a temple for the Lord. The day came when David looked at his house, and he lived in a house of cedar, the Lord is dwelling in a tent. And so he said to himself that he was going to build the temple. We know that God did not permit David to do that because David as a warrior had hands that were too bloody. But David did everything he could to prepare the way so that when Solomon came to the throne all of the resources where there for him and Solomon his son built the temple. David used his influence to honor and establish the House of the Lord. He was saying to all Israel: Do not forget God.
It was David who established that there would be singers and musicians and choirs. It was David who danced before the Lord in worship. It was David who wrote the psalms that were used in corporate worship. No place in God’s word is David’s attitude toward the house of the Lord more evident than in Psalm 122:1 a psalm of David.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”
David was a frequenter of Gods house. I cannot imagine that David was a sporadic attender. Remember we are talking about the season of influence – David as King could have said, I have more important tasks to do other than religious ones. I am a governor. I work hard all week. I just need a day to rest. Why don’t I just delegate that to someone else?
Do you want to know what is sad? Many people when they get to the season of influence decide that the house of the Lord is just not as important as it once was. When you are in the season of adversity…do you know what you say: If I can just get to church, I am going to be okay. How many times did you have to rush in and cry out to the Lord?
A few years ago, we watched the movie called the “Pursuit of Happyness”. How many of you have seen it. Will Smith does a phenomenal job in that movie. He portrays a man who is striving to be faithful in the natural things. He is studying hard trying to advance his life. Trying to be a faithful dad. When I saw the scene when he is in church and he is holding on to his child. The tears are in his eyes. I thought, “Oh thank you God.” I wonder, did he stay faithful when he was making big bucks.
Get enough money and you buy a cabin, or a boat, or you can travel, or season tickets to the Texans. It will pull you away from the house of the Lord.
My Father in Law has owned a cabin in Northern Minnesota for many years. In fact, Jureen’s entire life they have went to the cabin. But I can assure you that Saturday evening My Father in law uses his influence as he starts telling everyone there that we will all be going to church in the morning. We don’t just go to church. We go to Sunday School. We go to Morning Worship. We go to Sunday Evening Service. We go to Wednesday service.
Let me tell you how I was raised. Let me tell you how I raised my family. When the doors were open for church…we were there. I could not have imagined telling my father, I just don’t think I will make it to Sunday School tomorrow Dad. He would have applied the board of education to the seat of knowledge.
Pastor, Isn’t there more to Christianity than coming to church? Of course! That is obviously one of the foundational pieces. Someone once told me, “Well, I belong to the invisible church brother.” Who is gonna preach your funeral, the invisible pastor?
I think that we have lost something in our current Christian culture that is going to have devastating effects on our children. There is now a generation of believers that thinks that faithfulness in attending the house of the Lord is somehow optional. We need to tell them every Sunday. We are going to church. Do not forget the Lord. If you just go when it’s convenient, then everything else has a higher priority than church. We have lost the attitude that faithfulness to the house of God is something to be aspired to.
Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Do you know what he is saying? Your very attendance encourages others. You are in the season of influence right now. Whether you are here or whether you are not here influences others.
I know one thin”
“The preacher does better
When you are there
It’s hard to preach to an empty chair.”
It is not about the pastor. It is about your family. It is about your grandkids. Do not forget God. He was also saying that the closer you get to the coming of the Lord, the more you need to be together. How many of you realize that it is not what you say that is important? It is what you do. Coming to the house of God says to your family in a very real and practical way. I am a believer. My relationship with God is very important. The other believers are important. I am going to Sunday School today…because I believe that the teaching of the Word of God is incredibly important.
Bringing your kids to the house of the Lord every time the door is open will not guarantee that they will always serve the Lord. However, after 37 years in pastoral ministry and in observing hundreds of families, I will guarantee you that the worst thing you can do for your children is just come to church when it is convenient for you. Because I can assure you that they will come to believe that God is simply a 911 call. I can assure you that in most cases they will not come to be any more committed than you are. The enemy will make sure that there is always something that seems more important for them to do. I am going to tell you what I believe.
Church is more important than your child’s education. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?
Church is more important than riding horses, and roller skating, and Christmas shopping,
Church is more important than the Super Bowl, the Stanley cup Final and the tiddly wink tournament.
Gods house is more important than your child’s involvement in extra-curricular activities. Sunday School is more important than going to Denny’s to have breakfast with your family.
Church is more important than the extra hour of sleep.
Use your influence to teach your family to become “pillars in the house of the Lord.” The one thing you can say about a “pillar” is that it is always there. If you want to finish strong, then go to the place where you will be reminded of what’s important in life.
3. Remember who brought you to a season of influence
If David were here in person today and could talk to you. He would say…if I had only done this…my family would have been different. My life would have been changed. After David sinned with Bathsheba, and had her husband murdered. God revealed all of that to Nathan the Prophet. Nathan came and very skillfully confronted David in a way that David’s own judgment convicted him.
In the midst of that discourse between Nathan and David, Nathan speaks for the Lord and God reminds David of how he got to where he was. If you are in a place of influence and if you stay there for very long, it is easy to forget how you managed to get there. Do not forget God is the one who brought you to that place. Pride begins to come in. We think that we find ourselves in a place of influence because of our own doing. We think that we got the raise in our company because of how wonderful we are. We think our nice home is all our own doing.
That is what happened to David. Nathan brought his attention to the fact that God had brought David to the place where he is at.
2 Samuel 12: 7-8 “Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.”
You see, David had forgotten that God had chosen him to leave the sheep in the wilderness. He forgot that it was Gods hand upon his sling that had killed Goliath. He forgot that God had delivered him from Saul’s hand. He forgot that it was God who gave him victory over his enemies. It was God that gave him the wisdom to rule and to reign. It was God favor upon him that allowed the tribute and the money and the wealth and all to start flowing toward David and his house and his kingdom. There was a time when David was so dependent on the Lord. He inquired of the Lord. In fact,
2 Samuel 8:14 says it all, “The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.” David had reached the place of influence only to forget that it was God who had brought him there. That place of influence gave David a sense that he could do whatever he wanted. He had a sense of entitlement. I am the king. Look at all the good I have done. Look at how I have established the kingdom. Look at the wealth that comes as a result of the nations that are subject to us. He even justified killing Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband by saying, the Sword devours one as well as the other. If he wanted Bathsheba, he deserved her.
David is not the only person who forgot who brought them to the place where they are at.We have lots of family and friends in the ministry. We share a lot. I know of a man once who at one point in time gave huge amounts in tithe. He gave 75,000 in one year. If that was his tithe, think of his salary for a moment. That was a nice hefty salary. He was reaching a place of influence. His wife had told his pastor…he sings songs of thanksgiving every morning in the shower. Tears would fill his eyes as he would tell you how God had brought him to the place he was. He remembered the day when he had nothing in his pocket. God’s hand was upon him and God was using his gifts and talents.
But the day came when he looked around and he thought, I am so good at what I do… I deserve better. He disowned his son because he wasn’t coordinated at sports. He looked at his wife and said, She is dumb and uneducated. He had an affair with his secretary. He divorced his wife who had stood by him during the days when he had no money. Worse, he left his God for some spiritual advisor whom he had to pay to give him counsel and stroke his ego. The influence that he once had just faded away.
He could have been a force for God. He went bankrupt. He lost his house. He lost his clients.
What am I saying… when you are in the place of influence…Do not forget God is the one who brought you to where you are at. In the place of influence…Don’t forget how much grace and how much favor God had to extend to you to get you where you are at.
I know in my own life…when I get feeling like I am all that and a bag of French Fries. God has way of reminding me just how much I need him. How many of you realize that knowing God and knowing of his faithfulness to us is the greatest motivator there is to be faithful to him. It was God that spoke into my heart one day when I was working in a bread tie factory, for three dollars an hour. It was God who said Go back to school. By noon the next day, I had my old job back, back in school, and an apartment. How can I forget his faithfulness to me during that Christmas season years ago when I was unemployed and I had no money for Christmas gifts and I went to the mailbox and there was a check for $500. How can I forget the little house at 606 West 16th Street in Big Spring Texas that God gave me to live in rent free for a year. It was God that healed my son Derek of Stuttering in one evening. It was God that brought my son Dallas back from the throes of death at 8 months of age when he had an E. Coli infection of the intestines.
Every one of you have a story. Wasn’t it God that brought you through the hurricane? Wasn’t it God who got you that job. Wasn’t it the Lord who kept your children safe in his arms?
Years ago Petra wrote a song. It was one of their biggest hits. It was called… Dance with the one the brung ya! The metaphor is that if someone takes you to a dance, don’t dance with someone else. Be faithful to the one that got you there. Do not forget God.