Good morning again, and God bless you! We pray that old-time blessing again, that He’ll make you a blessing to those that you meet today.
May I read just a little scripture to you first of all? God’s Word says here in the fifth chapter of Acts, “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.”6
That was the influence of Peter’s life. The very shadow of Peter—just think, a shadow passing by might overshadow some of them. But it wasn’t just Peter and his personality—it was because he was like the Master, and more like the Master we would ever be.
More like the Master I would ever be
More of His meekness, more humility,
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do.
More like the Master, is my daily prayer,
More strength to carry crosses I must bear,
More earnest effort to bring His kingdom in,
More of His Spirit, the wanderer to win.
Charles H. Gabriel, 1906
There is a story in God’s Word that is one of the most remarkable miracles in the Word of God. It was when Elisha died that there was this distinct difference in the attitude of the people of Israel, because outlying tribes that had been friendly began to invade the country in little marauding bands. It was on the occasion of one of these raids that a miracle was performed that was very strange.
We read in God’s Word how the Israelites were walking along the highway carrying the body of a companion, a dead companion. Now they didn’t use coffins in those days, but the corpse was wrapped in bandages and cloth. So this band of Israelites carrying the remains of a friend to his burial place suddenly discovered that a band of Moabites was upon them. No sooner had they noticed this band than they turned about to see where they could throw this body, because they couldn’t run fast or get away from them carrying a heavy dead body.
So they thought of the resting place of Elisha, which was near there. They made the grave sometimes in the side of a hill in a cave, and so rolling the stone away, they quickly threw the body of their dead companion into Elisha’s resting place. And no sooner had the body touched the bones of Elisha than life came back into it and it was completely revived! (See 2 Kings 13:20–21.)
Now the miracle was unique among Bible miracles because it was not done through the medium of a live person, but just a dead body touching the bones of one that had passed on long before. I believe that God saw fit to work this miracle, strange as it is, in order that it might be brought to us and to the people of that day the memory of Elisha’s faith and his devoted and godly life. Thus God honored this prophet.
You know, it’s a wonderful thing to think that a dead man’s influence can be such, that even a dead body touching his dead bones that the body should spring to life. I believe that story. There was a time when I would have ridiculed it, but I believe it with all my heart. I’ve seen God do some mighty, mighty things, and I know there is nothing impossible with Him.
The spiritual significance of this miracle is one that should be a blessing to us all, for God would have us know through this that the influence of a good man or woman lives on long after their death. That’s true nationally, as we regard our national leaders. You wouldn’t say that Washington is dead; he lives as a mighty influence today. And in the religious world, it’s the same. For men like Wesley and Luther and Moody still live in the influence they have on our lives today; they have not ceased to live, though they’ve been buried for many years.
Some of the godly parents some of us had, we still feel their influence upon our lives. Or some godly teacher that you had when you were young still holds an influence over you. You feel the influence of their lives long, long after they’re gone.
The important question to ask in regard to Scripture, and to this one about Peter, whose very shadow was so strong, his power with God so great… Peter’s influence was such that even in his very shadow falling over the sick, they were healed. So, I say, the question is: Is the life we are now living of such a character that after we are dead, men will be influenced for good by us? What a blessing it is to have such a godly character that long after we are gone, those who touched our lives will be influenced to do heroic deeds in service for God! Does our influence even now cause those about us to have faith in God, and to be encouraged to live right? Is it true that some who listen in are making it harder for those in the home to live right and easier for those in the home to do wrong?
I visited a home the other night where the husband is an alcoholic. He’s making it so hard for the children to do right. The little child in the home had picked up some evil words that had dropped from the father’s drunken lips, and the wife was discouraged and heartbroken. It’s an awful thing to make it harder for people to be good. What bitterness to contemplate in the dying hour, that your influence made it harder for others to do right.
Take the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man, in torment, lifted up his eyes and begged that someone warn his five brothers, that they should not come to that place of torment, as he remembered that all his life his influence over them had been evil. (See Luke 16:19–31.)
It’s a terrible thing to have someone stumble over you into hell. If you don’t care for yourself, are reckless of your own salvation, for eternity’s sake and the name of God, for your own peace of mind, don’t be an evil influence in the home over your children and make it hard for your wife to do right. Don’t hold back another soul from God because of your evil influence.
This story is about a man that had such a wonderful influence on others’ lives that God saw fit to bring him to our attention by this marvelous miracle. You know, the story is told (I may have told you before, it’s a favorite of mine) that a man passing through the city of Cromwell couldn’t get a drink on Sunday and couldn’t get into any store there. And he said, “How come I can’t get a drink in this town, and everything’s closed up tight here on Sunday?” A man standing there said, “I can tell you. A hundred years ago a man by the name of John Wesley passed through this town.” Just think of an influence that lived on all those years!
Someone was telling me something the other day which reminded me of something I’d heard years ago about Gladstone, that someone had told a, I would say, smutty story (that’s what we called it in the days gone by) in the presence of a group that knew Gladstone. This man turned around to the one that had told this shady story and said, “I dare you to tell that in Gladstone’s presence!” Think of having a name and influence like that, that they knew they would not dare say anything like that in Gladstone’s presence!
It can be so with you; [you can have] such an influence. For though we be dead in trespasses and sins, we can be revived to righteous and godly living when we’re brought into personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, You’ll never be all that you might have been until you’ve come in touch with His revivifying power. Throughout all these centuries, men dead to goodness, men dead to all that was honorable, have been completely changed by coming into contact with the power of Christ. Thousands today testify to this.
If you that are unsaved and today are discouraged in your sinful condition, if you’ll just bring yourself into the close magnetic touch with Christ, He’ll bring life to your soul. He’ll set you free from every evil habit. His divine power will live in you, and your influence on this world will be only for good—reviving men to noble and holy living.
Why don’t you give God a chance? You’ve tried everything else. So many times we’ve seen this transforming power of the Lord change the influence of a man from evil to good. We’ve seen new life and buoyance of the hope and faith spring up in the heart in such a way that everyone they came in contact with was drawn heavenward. Oh, if you would just do this and let others see Jesus in you—His transforming power in your life. Do others see Jesus in you?
While passing through this world of sin
And others your life shall view,
Be clean and pure, without, within,
Let others see Jesus in you.
Your life’s a book before their eyes;
They’re reading it through and through,
Does it point unto the skies?
Do they see Jesus in you?
Oh, what a joy it will be at the set of sun
In mansions beyond the blue,
To find some soul that you have won,
Because they saw Jesus in you.
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true,
Let others see Jesus in you.
Baylus Benjamin McKinney, 1924
God is still on the throne, and prayer will change things for you.