FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Words and Friends

Remember when you worked up a sweat pulling weeds, so you drank a Coke which made you feel so happy and gay that you forgot about your chores resulting in a smack on the bottom from your momma?  Well, those words – weed, Coke, gay and smack – all have different meanings nowadays.  That’s what happens with a lot of words.  They don’t mean what they used to.

Even the word friend has taken on new layers and levels of meaning.  For a long time friend has meant a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection or a member of the Religious Society of Friends.  Those have been two long-standing, widely-accepted definitions.  Then along came Facebook and talk about friending and unfriending people, many of whom never really knew each other much less shared any bonds of mutual affection.

But Jesus is our Friend. (John 15:15)  Our true friend.  Our unchanging friend.  Our friend through good times and bad.  Our friend who never walks away.  Our friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Our friend who not only would but did lay down His life for us. (John 15:13)

Jesus is not just a friend; He is our best friend.

He accepts us unconditionally.  We can come to Him just as we are with our sin baggage. (Romans 5:8)

He listens to us.  We can share whatever is on our heart and troubling our minds – doubts, questions, tears, joys.  (1 John 5:14-15)

He is always available, and He never abandons us.  He never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4) and never takes a break (Matthew 28:20b)

He navigates life with us – ALL of life.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  (Hebrews 13:15 b, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20)

Isn’t this what we want in a friend – acceptance, listening ear, availability, support and encouragement?

Jesus began calling His disciples friends rather than servants because He had entrusted them with everything He had heard from His Father (John 15:15).  Can we truthfully say that we are His friends? Do we trust Him as he has entrusted us?  An Our Daily Bread author asked, “Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours?”

Friendship is a two-way street.  To be a friend of Jesus, we need to accept Him (as our personal Savior and Lord), listen to Him (hear what He wants us to know and do), be available (submit and surrender to His will), support and encourage (the building of His kingdom by sharing His Gospel to bring others into friendship with Him).

As a child my parents used to tell us that “to have a friend you must be a friend” – their variation of Proverbs 18:24.  Like about 99% of what my parents taught us, that is true.  To have Jesus as our friend, we must be His.  And what a friend we have in Jesus!

You might enjoy this history of the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and these renditions of the song:

 

 

 


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That’s What Friends Are For

I was all prepared to post something else.

Then yesterday I received a prayer request from a friend – actually a series of requests for various individuals with various needs.  There is a group of us, some known and others unknown, who somewhat regularly intercede for each other as well as for friends, family and acquaintances of each other.  It’s powerful.

At the end of yesterday’s requests my friend wrote, “Pray for each other because that’s what friends are for.”

She’s right.

The Bible provides many examples of individuals, including our Lord Jesus, praying and interceding for friends.  We are even commanded to pray for our enemies.

Consider these Scriptures:

~ “The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.”   (Job 42:10)

~ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”  (Matthew 5:44)

~ “…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  (Luke 6:28)

~ “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”  (Ephesians 6:18)

~ “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority…”  (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Do you?

Do you pray for your friends?  And your enemies?

In our church when individuals come forward at the invitation, our pastor asks us to commit to pray for them.  He also says, “If you’re not going to pray for them, don’t say that you will.”  Sounds a little harsh, but how often do we tell people that we will pray for them then in the next 15 minutes we’ve forgotten not only about them but about our promise to pray?

I remember participating in a Beth Moore study that included a live webcast.  Beth shared a humorous story about her mother praying for her.  She said that her mother would pray petitioning the Lord for Wanda Elizabeth Green Moore who lived on _Blank _ Street in _Blank _ City.  She said that she laughed and told her mother that she was sure the Lord knew who she was, but her mom was insistent that she didn’t want any mix-ups.

Hey, laugh if you want, but that is how we ought to pray for our friends and our enemies.  When we ask the Lord to “bless” our friends (or enemies), well, He already did.  If they woke up, they were blessed.  If they had food, they were blessed.  If they were able to walk, they were blessed.  Praying for the Lord to “bless” seems somewhat banal to me.  I like being able to clearly document when a prayer has been answered.  (Yes, I often write my prayers and I write and date the answers.)  In seasons when the Lord seems quiet, I am encouraged when I read past prayers AND answers.  I like reading what the Lord did in the lives of Joseph and Abraham and David and Daniel…, but I LOVE reading what He has done in Debbie’s life!

Clearly, specifically, passionately, persistently, pray for your friends and enemies.

That’s what friends are for!

ps Remember this?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdHFElOHQzs