Fitting in with the crowd
Pastor Todd Boxley
repost from the Worship Center Ministry. tjforlife.com
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to “Try Jesus!” If this is your first time joining us, it’s great to have you with us. I would like to thank all the new members for joining “Try Jesus.” Also welcome those in Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Colorado.
We are certainly living in days of trials and testing. God remains unfazed, unmoving, unshakeable, and has his church united in spite of all the calamity in our nation. God keeps his people united in Christ. We are his living body.
God is great from week to week, month to month, year to year. Even when we fall and are faithless, he remains steadfast and faithful. What a mighty God we serve. Let’s acknowledge him today.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for gathering hearts to “TRY JESUS” this morning. Lord, I ask that your Holy Spirit would be at work, opening our ears to hear and our hearts to receive your word.
You are the way, the truth and the life, let us love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. May we be transformed into your likeness. Thank you that you have been with us this last week and that your presence is with us now.
Lord, as we surrender ourselves in adoration, we ask that you would come by your Holy Spirit and inspire our hearts today. Come fill our lives with your love, conversation, grace and truth. Fill this ministry with your presence today.
Father, may your name be glorified in every trial and situation we face. Keep our minds and heart focused on Jesus. Holy Spirit, please give us grace today to live wholeheartedly for the glory of God’s name.
I ask that our souls would catch the wind of your spirit so that we would take the good news to our neighbors and to all the earth. Be glorified in our communities, our states, and this nation, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Today’s message is sort of a continuation from last week’s message. There are people who are allowing circumstances in life to keep them from coming to Jesus.
But these same people are being indoctrinated, mislead, and deceived into following the “Go-along crowd.” In today’s society, it’s difficult to stand alone when everyone else is going in a “one way direction.”
I always enjoy asking people in the body of Christ what their childhood was like. Why? Because sometimes our beliefs and convictions are shaped by the company we keep.
Sometimes our beliefs are shaped by what other family members were involved in. We sometimes want to fit in, regardless of minor errors we know are causing a problem.
Most of us has heard the phrase, “If you stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” There are a lot of people falling for information that is totally untrue. They would rather get all fired up for a lie, than gain access to truth and peace.
Many people don’t understand the conflict in Israel. They couldn’t tell you where Israel and Gaza are on a map. They couldn’t tell you the history of why Israel has been under attack since its inception.
Did you know Satan hates Israel? My next question is, why does he hate the nation of Israel more than other nations on the earth? How many of you know why God has chosen Israel as his own special treasure?
Today, the more people engage in identity politics and culture, the further they get away from oneness and unity. Everyone today has separated into their own activist camp.
Has it unified others, or caused people to be weak and run to safe spaces because they cannot grasp the truth that can set them free? The true body of Christ is set up regardless of nationality. God is not a respecter of persons.
Heaven is filled at this very moment with people of all ethnic cultures. They are united through one body. All believers in Christ belong to one body. (Ephesians 4: 4-7). All are united under one head, Jesus! (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
This is the position true born-again believers live here on earth. We don’t wait to get to heaven to love one another, we are unified by the Holy Spirit as we walk in the Spirit of truth. This is why Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment.
I hope most, if not all the “TRY JESUS” members would love reading the word of God more than listening to me speak or write my own words. (Smile). The Holy Spirit has much truth to impart to our hearing.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV). Please read the rest also (Romans 10:18-21). Verse 21 really described the heart of the people. They were disobedient and contrary.
You cannot hear God if you’re ears are closed off from his word (The Bible). Many people who follow crowds that are engaged in violence choose to close their ears to peace and oneness. This is why Christianity stands above false religions.
Religious living is flesh produced and true Christianity is Holy Spirit produced. Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment. The real love that Jesus walked in was one of unity.
34} “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35 KJV). Also read (1 John 2:7-8; 2 John 1:4-7).
There have been many protests over the last few years. What has been accomplished? I’m not saying that individuals cannot do it for a cause. But I always look at the trail of fruit that was left behind.
Does the protest bring unity, or does it fracture everyone around it and send others to their own divided camps? When people follow crowds, many times they cannot explain why they are involved.
It reminds me of the sermon that I preached about the suicidal person getting everyone to follow him miles and miles until he got to the cliff. All they needed to do was seek God or have discernment through the Holy Spirit.
Just doing a little research would have exposed this guy as a fake. Again, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Here’s another question, “How many of you have ever been swayed to believe something just because the crowd pressured you?
When I was growing up, I always faced pressure from my parents and siblings. Whether it was voting to go bowling or go out to eat dinner, I faced pressure to go along with the crowd.
Sometimes those pressures came with bribes. Those bribes might come in the form of candy, money, or taking the garbage out for me. We are always faced with pressures in life to follow. the crowd.
My mother used to tell me just because all the other kids are going in the store to steal candy, doesn’t mean you have to do it. She would communicate and visualize the consequences of following bad people.
The Bible plainly tells us, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 KJV). Paul was cautioning us to be careful in our friendships and business relationships.
If you spend a lot of time hanging around those who don’t believe in Jesus, and they start to influence you to join the crowd of ungodly things they are doing, you could hurt your witness for Jesus.
Yes, we must let his light shine to unbelievers by sharing the good news.(Matthew 5:13-16), but we should never be swayed to go along just to get along with others. Peter tried this after he denied Jesus. That didn’t work out very well, did it?
Paul faced many crowds who caused division and uproar as he went on his journey to spread the gospel message. Paul knew following God and standing on his truth was all that mattered. (Philippians 3:7-14).
Paul was able to watch as many people would come and stir up the crowds to go against what Paul was preaching. There are always certain groups of individuals that Satan will use, many of them that are religious to cause division.
You can see this take place in (Acts 6:9-14 KJV). Stephen was the object of crowds or groups who would lie and cause uproar among the people. The word “stirred up” means to move together.
It is to excite as a mass with others. To throw into commotion. This still occurs in 2023. Satan loves to use people to dissuade or muddy the waters of the gospel. Most people being pawns don’t even realize they are with the crowd.
[The Synagogue of Freed Slaves was a group of former Jewish slaves who had been freed by Rome and had formed their own synagogue in Jerusalem. These men lied about Stephen, causing him to be arrested and brought before the Jewish council.]
The Sadducees, the dominant party in the council, accepted and studied only the writings of Moses. (Genesis through Deuteronomy). In their view, to speak blasphemy against Moses was a crime.]
But from Stephen’s speech in (Acts 7), we learn that their accusation against him was false. Stephen based his review of Israel’s history on Moses’ writings. Today, this is what can happen when Christians do not study the whole word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15-19).
Paul faced lying crowds in Berea when he went with Silas and spoke in the synagogue of the Jews. (Acts 17:10-13). When those in Thessalonica heard about Paul’s preaching, they came there and stirred up the crowd.
Noticed how those in Berea heard the gospel from Paul, but didn’t just take his word at face value. They went and studied the scriptures for themselves to verify the message they heard.
I’ve certainly loss count as to how many times I’ve preached messages, but told the people they have to pray, read, and study what I say behind the pulpit. Remember my friends, the pastor or leader of any church is not God.
They are prone to make a mistake or misquote a passage in the Bible (not purposely). The congregation is responsible for doing their homework. The church I pastored in another area held the title of being a “Word church.”
It’s certainly a blessing when most of the people in the church are reading and studying the whole Bible at church and at home. It certainly helps keep the devil and his imps in their rightful place. God is never the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33; James 3:16).
A preacher or teacher of the Bible should never contradict or explain away anything that is found in God’s word. You should always compare what you hear with what the Bible says. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to bring out all the truth.
[Because God will examine the kind of workers, we have been for him, we should build our lives on his word and build his word into our lives. The Bible alone tells us how to live for him and serve him.]
Jesus faced massive crowds all the time. He was never swayed by a maturity mob rule attitude. Look at the war taking place in Israel. Crowds have gathered all over the world to condemn Israel. But crowds don’t necessarily add up to truth being told.
It’s easy to go along with crowd when numbers may appear in your thinking, “Oh, they must be right!” Remember when Jesus confronted the Jews about eating his flesh and drinking his blood? (John 6:48-59).
Please read that passage more than once. This is exactly my point I mentioned a moment ago about studying a little bit deeper to what Jesus meant about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
This caused a quite a quarrel between some who heard this. God is always great at separating sheep from goats and pretenders from the “Real McCoy.” Jesus’ disciples told him this is a difficult saying, who can understand it?
When people start grumbling about a truth, they cannot fully grasp, the best thing to do is bring more truth and light to the discussion. Light is aways the greatest disinfectant, right? We can never have enough light and truth in our heart, right?
Jesus explained to his disciples that he was speaking about the Spirit. It will always be about the spirit. Jesus told his disciples the flesh profits nothing. Jesus was telling his disciples that life begins and ends with him. (John 6:63-64).
The Holy Spirit gives spiritual life; without the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot even see our need for new life (John 14:16-17). The next verse (John 6:64) points out that Jesus could see the hearts of those who would leave him after his statement.
Jesus can look right into our hearts and know whether we believe in him one hundred percent, fifty percent, or one percent. God always look at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7). Then Jesus spoke to his twelve disciples about their commitment to him.
67} “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68}Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69} And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.70} Jesus answered them,Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? (John 6:67-70 KJV).
Wow! Those are some powerful words by Peter. Even though they were learning and being taught many things, they stayed with Jesus. They ended up in the upper room and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4).
The disciples were not persuaded by the others who had walked away. How often do you hear news reports
on television, or hear something on social media, or even hear something among family members, and decide to walk away from the truth that Jesus gives you?
Again, it’s easy to go with the crowd in 2023. Our colleges are filled with indoctrinated young teens and adults whose minds are like kites in the wind. They hear news and take a side without doing deep research to find the truth.
I realize the peer pressure is great and they want to fit in with the crowd. But God doesn’t allow excuses. Jesus said these words to the people, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. (Matthew 12:30 KJV).
It is impossible to be neutral about Jesus Christ. Anyone who is not actively following him has chosen a path leading away from him. To refuse to follow Jesus is to choose to be on his opponent’s (Satan) side.
Following the crowd of darkness makes you an adversary of God. Any person who tries to remain neutral in the struggle of good against evil is choosing to be separated from God. Today you can choose rightly.
Choosing rightly means evaluating all sources and facts. What more would Jesus have to say and do for you to prove who he was. It’s certainly not an accident the Bible is the number one seller of all time.
Jesus had many lawyers (scribes), and Pharisees and Sadducees who followed with the crowds to see Jesus. But Jesus had a lot of woes for the religious leaders and lawyers.
The religious leaders were always trying to discredit Jesus’ words and sway the people from following him. In 2023, it is not wise to follow flash crowds just because they are great in number. This can be said the same for religious numbers.
Look at what the Lord told Isaiah in (Isaiah 8:11-16). “For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,” (Isaiah 8:11 KJV).
[Isaiah, along with most of the prophets, was viewed as a traitor because he did not support Judah’s national policies. He called the people to commit themselves first to God and then to the king. He even predicted the overthrow of the government.]
Doesn’t the Bible tell us to seek first the Kingdom of God? (Matthew 6:33). Seeking God first will allow you to hear his words. You should never allow yourself to be manipulated until you examine what is being fed to you.
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21 KJV). Always use the word of God before joining any cause.
Always withstand the pressure of the crowd to sway your decisions about a religion or denominations. Let the fairness God shows to you, guide your judgment. When we spend our precious time with such useless people then we put ourselves in danger.
Before we close for the day, let’s reexamine the passage about eating flesh and drinking blood. I realized most people would pause after hearing such a statement. To eat flesh and drink blood sounded cannibalistic.
[The idea of drinking any blood, let alone human blood, was repugnant to the religious leaders because the law forbade it (Leviticus 17:10-11). Jesus was not talking about literal blood, of course.]
Jesus was saying that his life had to become their own, but they could not accept this concept. Jesus told his followers that he came to give life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).
[Jesus was also predicting his death and what it would mean to all believers. The Gospel writers and the apostle Paul used the body and blood image in teaching about the Lord’s Supper.]
Sometimes standing alone when the large crowd is following destructive behaviors or erroneous teachings is wise and profitable. Please read the story about King Josiah, and how he bucked the trend that other kings had followed.
(2 Chronicles 34:1-8).
Samuel also faced pressure to follow the crowd. The people had taken their eyes off of God and put them on what other nations were doing. (1 Samuel 8:1-22). Sometimes churches will want to copy what other churches are doing without consulting God first.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “The grass looks greener all the other side.” The problem we fail to realize is, there could be all kinds of traps in that grass when you jump over the fence to get a closer look.
Ever step in something you didn’t see until it was too late? Samuel told the people about the consequences of wanting to be like the other nations. Just because certain denominations use programs to draw large crowds doesn’t mean it’s right for your church.
Following the crowd can sometimes invite ungodliness into your community, home, and church. We must never accept or tolerate sin in our lives. Everyone has a sinful nature, and everyone has certain sins to which they are particularly vulnerable.
Accepting sinful practices, either by participating in them or winking at them, is dishonoring to God. Accepting corruption from corrupt people will certainly cause us to become corrupt. This includes false religions and teachers.
So, if you desire to follow God, Jesus, and be led by the Holy Spirit, here’s the answer to the susceptibility to the crowd’s influence. How you stay free from the temptation to “join the crowd” is by following the examples of the Bereans.
The Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the scriptures. (Acts 17:10-12). They researched what they heard from Paul and Silas. Their minds sought out the truth.
They didn’t have itchy tingling ears and empty minds like those who are gullible for whatever the crowd tells them. Did you know crime and lawlessness behaves in the same way?
There are many counterfeit religious charlatans that are all over social media and some are on religious television stations. People are like sponges. Unless they do their spiritual homework, they are likely to be taken captive by false leaders.
In Jesus’ day, the disciples were being taught to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6). The disciples thought he was speaking about the fish and loaves. They were always thinking on the surface.
Jesus was speaking about their dangerous doctrine. False doctrines can corrupt your thinking. You begin to think that all religions and faiths are the same. (Matthew 16:8-12).
Jesus used yeast as an example of how a small amount of deceptive teaching can affect a large group of people. The misleading teachings and wrong priorities of the religious leaders were leading many people astray.
Today, we need to choose teachers for our churches carefully because teachings can have a great impact. (1 Timothy 3:1-16). Even a small distortion of scripture can hurt people.
Some church leaders will allow small sinful teaching activities as long as it doesn’t affect the Sunday service. If it’s the kids’ class or singles group, sometimes it gets neglected.
Allowing even a small sinful habit or false teaching to persist in your church will not only affect you more than you realize but also do the same to others. Yes, we are not perfect.
Sometimes we still sin, but when the Holy Spirit sheds light in darkness, we must eradicate it before it spreads like cancer. (Joshua 7:10-26). Going along with the crowd seemed to get Israel into many difficulties. (Numbers 13:25-33; 14:1-24).
🗣📢 Last words: I would like to finish today’s message with a story of how you stand alone when the crowd is trying to sway you away from truth. This past Thursday, a female senior in high school was involved in a class chanting.
What was this chanting? The school students were allegedly unknowingly chanting the names of Hindu gods, according to court documents. One female student alleged in a lawsuit that while on campus she was forced into participating in Hindu rituals.
“I’m a very strong Christian,” she told reporters. She said a woman who was teaching her meditation in mandated “Quiet Time” asked her to bow to an image of a foreign deity she did not recognize.
After hearing this in school, she took the initiative to go home to tell her parent and aunt, who was her pastor at the time. She didn’t feel comfortable with what was being enforced on her at school.
The woman teaching the meditation said it would help her internalize the mantras and bring her to “Zen.” She believes that she was nearly forced into idol worship.
“Like, I’m in school right now, why are we learning how to meditate in this way?” I just knew it wasn’t right. The only time I kneel was when I was at the altar at church when I’m praying and I’m kneeling down for God.
She knew kneeling down to an idol was wrong. It was inappropriate,” she said. The compelled rituals violated her deeply-held religious beliefs during the Quiet Time program implemented at her school.
The program encompassed the practice of Transcendental Meditation and the repetition of mantras, which were fundamentally religious in nature. The students were informed the mantras were meaningless words.
But after she did some research, she found they were actually the names of Hindu Gods. She said students were informed not to tell anyone about their mantras, because if it “got out” it wouldn’t be as effective.
The students were shown a picture of a “guru” and were asked to bow to it during a “Puja” ceremony. “During a ‘Puja’ initiation ceremony, the instructor chants aloud in Sanskrit for about three to five minutes.
Students were regularly asked by the instructors to participate in the ‘Puja’ by placing various items before the image of Guru Dev or to kneel before that image.”
She tried to make excuses to avoid kneeling before the image of a man in a photograph on a table in the middle of the room who looked like Buddha, as it was against her religion to kneel before anyone except for Jesus Christ.
She didn’t understand why the school was using instructional time for the Hindu rituals. She simultaneously felt the public wasn’t teaching her enough to be at her best footing for college.
She further said, “some kids can be put in a situation where they can be manipulated. Who knows what the chant could have meant and what I was being put in our minds. You have to be careful because the devil will come in different ways,” she said.
She took the case to court, and was awarded $150,000 in the lawsuit. God’s people must always be vigilant to the enemy’s attacks. The Bible tells us, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 KJV).
Remember my friends, Sin is rooted in selfishness, pride, and hatred, and it deserves eternal judgment. Thus, hell is the default destination for everyone who dies. But God offers hope to everyone. God sent his Son Jesus to die and take the punishment for sin that we deserve.
Today, you can get away from following the crowd of destruction. If you believe Jesus died to take the punishment for your sins, and only he can forgive you, the Bible promises you will go to heaven.
You cannot earn your way to heaven; it is God’s gift to those who give their allegiance to Jesus. (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:14-15; Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 15:42; Romans 8:35-39).
“Do your own thinking independently. It’s the people who break from “the crowd,” who change the world. Don’t use their excuses. (Acts 17:6-7; Romans 1:18-20).
📕 Here are some wise words of counsel the next time you are tempted to go along with the crowd. As Paul told those in Corinth, follow me as I follow Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1).
(Exodus 23:1-2; Proverbs 1:10; 12:6,26; 11:14; 13:20; 18:24; 19:20; 27:6,17; Matthew 5:30; 25:46; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Psalm 1:1-4; Jeremiah 17:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1John 4:1; Acts 20:29; Job 22:18).
🛐 Here’s a prayer you can pray to avoid being trapped in the crowd. “Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me today, that as I heard this message, I thought on my way, and turned towards you and the truth of your word.
Lord, give me the courage to follow you and not the crowd (our culture). Help me to fear you so that I fear no one else. Lord don’t allow me to live a life of deception. Lord don’t allow me to be deceived by my own self.
Lord, please help me to avoid the traps of the enemy. Open my eyes to see rightly Father. Your word tells me to not lean on my own understanding, but in all of my ways to acknowledge you.
Help me Holy Spirit to wait and listen for your voice and obey your instruction for my life. I want to be a true follower of yours, Lord Jesus. Not just in word but also in deed.
Jesus, I do not want to be and will not be crowd followers, I will follow you, Lord Jesus. Keep me on the narrow way Lord, that leads to life with you. Thank you, Lord. All blessing and honor and glory and power be to you forever and ever! In Jesus name I pray, amen.”
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🙏 Please remember to pray for the people in Israel. They are God’s people because of his covenant promises to them. (Genesis 12:1-3; Numbers 6:22-27; 24:8-9). ✝️