DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Friendship
 

It is time we need to take our Friendship higher. Good friends surround all great leaders. Since leadership is influence - the ability of a person to motivate and mobilize others to a particular cause - only through numerous, quality friendships can momentum and consistency built. Friendships establish trust, and trust is the glue that keeps people together through thick and thin.

The Apostle Paul was remarkable in friendship. From fellow Jews - like Barnabus, to run away slaves - like Philemon, to gentile doctors - like Luke, to up-and-coming leaders - like Timothy, Paul was able to capture and hold an intense love and loyalty. They followed him cheerfully and unswervingly, risking their very lives for the sake of the gospel, helped no doubt by Paul's encouragement and the assurance of his deep love for them.

God evidently does not intend for all of us to be powerful, great or rich but he does intend all of us to be friends.

As George Elliot once wrote: "Oh, the comfort of feeling safe with a person ; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out, just as they are, chaff and grain together. Knowing that a faithful hand will sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

Proverbs 3:27-28
27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you.


Do not tell someone to come back tomorrow when you have it now. This 'making-life-difficult' for others is very destructive to friendships.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

A friend loves at ALL times. Do not be conditional in your love and friendship.

Proverbs 20:28
Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.

A king's leadership is made secure through LOVING his advisors and subjects. Love builds loyalty and trust.

Proverbs 16:28
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

Do NOT GOSSIP. It can ruin even the best of friendships.

Proverbs 25:9-10
9 If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man's confidence,
10 or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.


Be faithful to your friends and never betray another man's confidence.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Friendships need to also be CHALLENGING and an upward call - as iron sharpens iron.

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Mistakes made in this iron-sharpening-iron type relationship should be quickly forgiven and forgotten.

Proverbs 27:14
If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.

Be wise in friendship. - You can say the RIGHT things at the WRONG time !

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.
22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.


Be humble and concerned enough to be interested in what other are interested in

Proverbs 24:1-2
1 Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company;
2 for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.


Choose your friends carefully.

Examples of great leaders in the bible:

David

1 Samuel 22:1-2
1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father's household heard about it, they went down to him there.
2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.


David had a remarkable ability to gather people around him regardless of their current social standing.

2 Samuel 23:8-23
8 These are the names of David's mighty men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated,
10 but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel's troops fled from them.
12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.
13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief men came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.
14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem.
15 David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!"
16 So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD.
17 "Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!" he said. "Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?" And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.
18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three.
19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.
20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear.
22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty men.
23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.


Look at the loyalty, courage and confidence that David was able to establish in his friends.

Paul

Philemon 12
I am sending him--who is my very heart--back to you.

Paul describes the depth of his friendship with Philemon as: "He is my very heart."

Do you feel this way about your friends?

Jesus

John 13:1-17
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
10 Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you."
11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them.
13 "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


Jesus demonstrates the full extent of his love to his friends.

John 15:9-17
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
17 This is my command: Love each other.


True friends lay down their lives for each other - Jesus, as always, led the way in doing this for us!

Practical Challenges

- Be determined to be a person of many and varied friendships.
- Build intimate, vulnerable, honest relationships with them.
- Make sure that mutual trust is a part of the friendship.
- Have iron-sharpening-iron times.
- Ask yourself : If you were another person would you want to be a friend of yours?

In Conclusion

     "It is a joy in life to find
     At the turning of the road
     The strong arms of a comrade kind
     To help me onward with my load
     And since I have no gold to give
     And love alone can make amends
     My only prayer is: 'While I live,
     God make me worthy of my friends' "