Advent 2005 devotional: Influencing others for the Lord - Word&Way

Advent 2005 devotional: Influencing others for the Lord

December 4, Luke 1:5-25

By Harold A. Phillips, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri Coordinator

He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord (Luke 1:17 CEV).

Never an easy task, parenting is a sacred trust. As the parent Harold A. Phillipsof a 21-year-old, I am captivated by Gabriel's assurance to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Could Gabriel really promise their not-yet-conceived son, John, would have the same power and spirit Elijah did? Because of their son, would parents be more thoughtful of their children? Would people who disobey God begin to think differently due to John's life?

Forget the fact that Zechariah and Elizabeth were old. To frazzled and harried parents, the real miracle can be a bold assurance of their child's future positive influence.

Who are the men and women in our lives who have helped us be more thoughtful of our children and as a result-better parents? How many of us have been turned around from wrong to good because of someone's influence in our lives?

I am reminded of Bill and Veta Sherman. As my pastor, he consistently modeled a "what-would-Jesus-do" lifestyle. I sometimes thought Dr. Sherman a bit prudish, just as many did about John the Baptist, but his influence made me a better person. Who is that pastor who has most influenced your life?

Veta Sherman was my college Sunday School teacher during important years. Did an angel tell her parents before she was born that people would think differently due to Veta's life? I don't know what any angels said, but Veta Sherman shaped my life in positive ways during an impressionable season of time.

By faith, we hear angels telling us that because of our own children, others will become more thoughtful and that some people will begin to think differently. Such is the faith of parents who love God.

May each of us "get people ready for the Lord."