Tag Archives: friendship

April 16; Practical Faith

I Samuel 18-20

David had faith in God, and God blessed him. The Bible tells us everything King Saul gave David to do, he did it exceedingly well. God’s Presence in David’s life was obvious.

But here’s what dawned on me today about David’s faith. Having faith in God didn’t require David to check his common sense at the door. David’s faith in God didn’t assume God’s will would be done without David’s cooperation. David had what I believe was a practical faith that pleased God. Now before you think I’m blaspheming, hear me out.

David seems to have realized God can use the people in our lives to help us along the way. We see how often Jonathan, the son of David’s sworn enemy, helped David, kept him out of harm’s way, spoke up for him and tried to get Saul to reconcile with David. We don’t read where David ever said, “No, that’s ok, Jonathan. God’s got this.”

We see how David’s wife, Saul’s daughter, lowered him out of a window in their home, so he could escape Saul’s men who were coming to get him. We see how Samuel, at risk of his own life, stood by David, even though his heart may have been a bit drawn to Saul. But Samuel didn’t waiver in his support of David, God’s Anointed. And we don’t see David turning down the help from either one of them.

I believe Scripture teaches us that allowing other people to lend a hand, doesn’t indicate lack of faith. In fact, other people might be the answer to our prayers of faith. God created us to have relationships – first with Him – then with others. Having faith doesn’t mean we ignore those relationships, thinking we will just let God do His thing.

Maybe God wants to do His thing through people close to us.

Let me say here and now: I have faith in God. I trust Him as completely as this mortal can trust. But I need you, too.

Some of you who read this blog are friends of mine right here on the island. Some of you are family who I love so much. Others are people I’ve crossed paths with over the years, and who hold a special place in my heart. Still others of you I’ve never met, except through this cyber-word of ours.

God is reminding me I need every one of you if I am to accomplish His work in me. I need you to hold me accountable, to encourage or scold me. I need you to stand beside me or push me. I might need you to fight my enemy alongside of me, or simply revel in God’s goodness with me.

I need you.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith in God. It’s that I have faith that God will use you to be His voice, His arms, His wisdom so that I will grow into the woman He wants me to be. Thank you to so many of you for being exactly that in my life on so many occasions.

Can God accomplish His will with or without us? Of course He could. But I think His will is that each one of us recognize our roll in His will being done. I think that’s the practical side of faith. And I honestly believe it honors God. Let’s, all of us, be sensitive to God’s leading when one of His children could use a hand. Let’s be a Jonathan, a Michal, or a Samuel for each other when the need arises.

And the need will arise. Common sense tells me none of us have it all together all the time. Isn’t it good to think someone will allow themselves to be an answer to our prayers, and give us a hand during those times? Isn’t it a privilege to be that someone for someone else?

 

2 Chronicles 21-24; The Reign of Joash

What do you read? Who do you listen to? Where are you on Sunday mornings? The answers to these questions are extremely important.

Joash did a lot of good as king of Judah. He rebuilt the temple, returned the people to worshiping God, destroyed the temple of Baal and killed Baal’s priest. There was quite a revival among the Jews during the first years of Joash’s reign. During those years the king stayed close to Jehoiada, the priest of God. He listened to Jehoiada’s counsel, and did good in the eyes of the Lord.

But Jehoiada died. And things went downhill from there. Joash stepped out on his own, and sin reared its ugly head.

Is there someone in your life who holds you accountable in your walk with the Lord? Someone who prays for and with you, someone with whom you talk about what God is teaching you, then checks to be sure what you are learning is true according to Scripture? Are you in God’s Word every day, reading and listening as you pour over its precious pages? Do you stand with a congregation of people each week, serving and worshiping God as He deserves?

Or do you think you can live this Christian life on your own? If that is your attitude, I would challenge you to read Joash’s story here in 2 Chronicles, then rethink your position. Good things happened as long as Joash was partnering with a godly man. Read for yourself what happened when the king lost that influence.

As I was writing this, the thought occurred to me that I have the responsibility and the privilege of being a Jehoiada to someone else. It’s a two way street. I need someone who will keep me in check, and I need to reach out to someone who needs me for the same reason.

May all of us walk in Truth, hand in hand, strong and determined to be the Church God wants us to be.

Numbers 13-14; Turn Down The Volume

When I was a middle school teacher I found that, when the kids in my classroom started to get noisy, the louder I spoke, the louder they got. If I tried to teach over their chatter, the noise level rose (and so did my frustration level).

It’s like that with arguments, isn’t it? Voice level rises, and anger escalates.

Ten spies came back from checking out the Promised Land, and threw fear into the people. I can almost see the Jews getting caught up in the frenzy. So rather than trying to out-shout them, Moses and Aaron fell to the ground, face down in front of the people gathered there. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes, a sign of distress and grief.

That got the people’s attention.

Several of my closest friends at the middle school and I had our breaks scheduled at the same time. Usually, unless there were papers to grade, lessons to tweak, or parents to talk to, we would meet in the teacher’s lounge for a cup of coffee and a few laughs. Most of the time five or six of us would sit around the table and talk about recipes, husbands, and TV shows, for twenty minutes. It was a much needed break from our day.

Two of the women were friends in school and out. They socialized together with their husbands, and enjoyed a special friendship. Most of the time, they would join the rest of us. But occasionally, they would sit together on the couch, heads together, and whisper about something they didn’t want the rest of us to hear.

What do you do when someone whispers? Do your ears perk up, your senses heighten? Well, mine did. I could be in the middle of a conversation with another teacher at the table, but as soon as my friends on the couch began to whisper, I found myself trying to listen to them, too.

I couldn’t help myself. The whispering got my attention, even if I really didn’t care what they are saying.

I got to thinking about how I share Christ with others. Do I stand on a street corner and shout “Repent! The end is near!”? Do I take my Bible and hit them over the head with it? Do I talk about Jesus, or do I live His love? Do I listen to my friend, instead of rushing in with answers? Do I argue? Debate? Lecture?

Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, rather than trying to out-shout the crowd. I think I can learn a lesson from this. Oh, if you read on you’ll find out that some of the people didn’t heed what Moses had to say. They ended up facing God’s judgment in spite of his warning.

But at least Moses got their attention, and was faithful to say what God wanted him to say. I want that to be true about me, too.

So, maybe I should learn to turn down the volume. Someone said, “if you want people to hear you… whisper.” I want my life to whisper, “Jesus.”

I’m thinking that, if I want someone to hear my testimony, I should get together with them in a quiet place. I should demonstrate my love for God by quietly serving, by reaching out to them in friendship.

Then, I want to be ready to give an answer for the hope I have in my Savior. I just need to get their attention first so that they’ll ask me to.

 

 

 

June 8 – Too Many Friends?

Proverbs 16-18

Can a person have too many friends? I guess that depends on your definition of friendship. You can “friend” a person on FaceBook and be one of a million other people who are friends with them, too. Some people never turn down a friend request so they can see their own numbers grow.

I, myself, have friended people from high school, others I knew thirty years ago when they were in middle school, but would never want to hang out with them or share my deepest concerns with them. Obviously, FaceBook friends are not necessarily friends in the old sense of the word.

What about online dating and social sites? Is an online friendship the same as a hold-my-hand, give-me-a-hug kind of relationship? I guess it can be in a cyber world kind of way. But I’m old enough to prefer a friend I can sit across the table with over a cup of coffee, enjoying each other’s company and sharing our hearts face to face.

Solomon says, “a man of too many friends comes to ruin…” (18:24) So, yes, I guess a person can have too many friends. A real friendship involves investing yourself, your time. That kind of friendship depends on mutual trust and affection. If you try to be a real friend to too many people, how far do you have to stretch? How thin can you spread yourself? Solomon suggests you’ll ruin yourself if you try.

Solomon tells us there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (also in verse 24). If you have that kind of friend, you are blessed. That person who knows you and loves you anyway, that one who will be brutally honest with you, encourage you to try something new, to put you in your place or pat you on the back. That one who defends you, stands up for you, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you into battle. That one whose arms are your safe place.

If you have that friend you are truly blessed. If you are that kind of friend to someone, you are blessed and a blessing.

But wait! If you are a Christian you HAVE that friend. His name is Jesus. He knows you and loves you, fights for you, encourages you, is brutally honest with you, and is certainly your safe place.

Are you that kind of friend to Jesus, too? Do you spend time with Him? Do you talk to Him every day, include Him in your choices, share with Him your dreams and concerns? Do you stand up for Him, fight shoulder-to-shoulder with Him?

That friend sitting across from me over coffee is a friend I cherish, one I depend on and trust. But that person will disappoint me, will fail me once in a while. And I’ll fail her, too. We are imperfect people.

Jesus will never fail me. And His is the friendship I cherish most of all, the friendship I will nurture above all others.

I will never have a million friends. I don’t need nor want a million friends. But I will lovingly care for the few people closest to me, will spend time with them, have their backs, encourage and chastise them. We will do that for each other.

But as precious are those relationships, none can compare to the relationship I have with my Savior. That is a friendship I can’t do without. He sticks closer than a brother. And I’m sticking with Him.

 

November 27

I Corinthians 8:1-11:1

Paul said he became all things to all men so that by all possible means he might win some to the Savior. He said to the Jews he became a Jew, to those under the law he became like one under the law, to the weak he became weak. Yet the Bible clearly tells us to be holy as God is holy, to come out from among them and be separate, to flee temptation.

I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

Paul is talking about investing himself in the lives of unsaved people. He worked with them, ate with them, showed interest in them. And in his relationship with them he did not compromise his relationship with Jesus.

You don’t need to sin in order to befriend a sinner. But if your friend likes to fish, become a fisherman. If your friend plays tennis, get a tennis racket. If your friend is an Ohio State fan (go Bucks! Beat Michigan!) get out the nachos and invite them to watch the game in your man cave.

If you demonstrate you care about this person, if you show them how important they are to you, they will no doubt be more open to hearing you when you want to talk about your Savior.

Paul could have said it like this: I became a scrapbooker in order to win my scrapbooking friend. Or I became a bowler, a gardner, a golfer, a baker…

Who has God laid on your heart today? Find out what interests them. Then join them. Remember, we are to be out there winning lost souls to the Savior. One friend at a time.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that when you nudge us toward a friend, we will obey you wholeheartedly. Help us to be invested in their eternal souls. May we put aside our comfort and show how much we care by becoming truly interested in what interests them. May we become all things to them in order to win them by all possible means. Even if that means trying something new and scary.

April 16

I Samuel 18-20

Jonathan and David were best friends. What a blessing it is to have that special person who really knows you and loves you anyway.

When I worked in the Middle School I would often deal with friendship issues. If you ask most adolescents who their best friend is they will probably give you a list of four or five of their classmates. As a person matures, the lists gets narrower. A large friend base is one thing. A best friend is another.

We are created to be relational. God did not create us to be self-sufficient or self-reliant. He intends for us to live with, work with, support and love one another.

The relationship between husband/wife, parent/child, coworkers, neighbors, church family, are precious and complicated. But do you have that one person in your life who holds you accountable? Not someone who always tells you how great you are – but one who asks the hard questions, who keeps you grounded? 

And are you that friend to them, too? Do you encourage each other in your walk with the Lord and demand holiness of each other? Do you pray for them and know they pray for you? 

I would encourage us all to nurture a godly best-friendship. David’s life was spared as a result of his friendship with Jonathan. It was that important.

Father, I pray for best-friends today. May we hold each other accountable, to encourage each other in our walk with you. May we be honest as well as loving. And may we honor you in our relationship with each other. Thank you for the privilege of being that best friend to someone dear.