“The Company We Keep”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 ESV

Adolescent years have a way of making everyone cringe. Whether you’re in the trenches of raising a tween or you’re now out of that tunnel and looking back over your shoulder at the aftermath and walking around with the scent of embers on your clothing, there’s just something about that passage in life that causes the sweat on your brow to drip.

When your child says they’re going to ‘hang out with some friends,’ you naturally want to know which friends to whom they’re referring. As their parent, you know the power of influence is strong during these impressionable and volatile years. The relationship you share with your child will determine how they select their friends — especially their close friends.

Our Scripture verse in the Book of Acts describes how the Apostles Peter and John were perceived by onlookers. Common men without an impressive pedigree or portfolio of credentials — yet speaking the Gospel with a boldness never before seen. And they were immediately recognized has having been with Jesus. Their characteristics, behavior and conduct marked them as extraordinary.

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Proverbs 13:20 NLT

What distinguishing features do you bear that prove you’ve been with Jesus? Does your life have His Thumbprint on it?

The Spirit of the Living GOD is so transformative that others will be able to recognize His Presence when in your presence. Or at the very least, be able to look at your life and see that ‘there’s just something different’ about you. Maybe it’s in the compassion you voice about the destitute and homeless and the extra mile you go in volunteering time to address their needs. It could be evidenced in the manner you demonstrate courtesy and genuine concern over the ones with no voice, such as the elderly in your community. It might be in the way you respond with compassion and understanding to a situation or person by showing others that hope comes from knowing Jesus.

You don’t have to strive for perfection to point to it. Showing others where your hope comes from is living the Gospel.

LINDA R JOHNSON

You can choose to be influenced or be the influencer.

The company we keep will either encourage and build us up by speaking the truth to us in love, or it will drag us down and send us down a path that we would later regret.

We don’t want to stumble through life being swayed by the current tides of nonsense or foolishness. No one wants a lifetime of errors or mistakes to be our legacy. To do the right thing, to select the right friends — requires prayer and effort. And even then we may still be led astray. All it takes is one person to send you the wrong message.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” Genesis 3:1 NLT

That’s all it took and the rest is history. Eve was isolated and questioned and doubt was planted. The end result was the birth of sin.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Ruth 1:16 NLT

Ruth had options. The choice she made to remain with Naomi ushered her into the lineage of the Messiah. And all because Naomi had shown her what life was like worshipping and believing the One true living GOD.

So Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and all his friends suggested, “Set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet[a] tall, and in the morning ask the king to impale Mordecai on it. When this is done, you can go on your merry way to the banquet with the king.” This pleased Haman, and he ordered the pole set up. Esther 5:16 NLT

Unfortunately, even those closest to us, if they do not have a right relationship with GOD, can give us the worst advice.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:5-7 NLT

When you are kept in the company of Jesus — that’s the game changer. You have everything to look forward to including things you have no idea you will participate in. All because you choose to remain in Him and He in you.

The old saying goes: “Birds of a feather, flock together.” Like-minded people will tend to spend quality time in community with one another, more than they would some of their own blood relatives. And that’s simply because they agree on major thoughts. If you attempted to ‘fit’ into a group that is comprised of people that hold a completely different perspective on life, or didn’t agree with you on religious matters, or are strongly opposed to your political views, you would quickly discover that you could not keep their company for very long. Either they would have to change (which is highly unlikely since you are the one seeking acceptance), or you would have to conform. This conformity would have a very short shelf-life; you would probably exit that stage and never return, because you could not be authentically you.

The amazing thing about keeping in the company of Jesus and His People is that you are already exactly who you need to be — He created you that way, so there’s no need to alter that. In fact, when you spend quality time with Him, you actually become more of who you were designed to be in the first place. His Daughter. His Beloved. His Chosen one. The best version of you.

All choice. Your choice. You ultimately become like those with whom you keep company.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary

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