The Price Of A Friend

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In the Old Testament there are two words we translated “friend” or “companion”. A friend is more than just meeting someone on the road and saying “hi.” A friend is a neighbor, an associate, someone we spend time with. Companion is someone we spend our lives with.

The mutual friendship of David and Jonathan is a classic example. Ever since David defeated Goliath, David was in the service of King Saul. David played the harp and comforted Saul who had a bad temper. He was a young man when he started doing this and grew up in the palace with Saul’s son, Jonathan. 1 Sam 18:1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. These two are the closest of buddies. Jonathan, many times spares the life of David in defiance of his father Saul. Jonathan stands to inherit the throne but knows that God has rejected his father and given it to David. A true friend is one that can rejoice with you in good fortune. An even greater friend is one that can rejoice with you when your fortune comes at their cost. When Jonathan is killed in battle, David mourns. 2 Sam 1:26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.

Elijah and Elisha form a unique illustration of semiprofessional affection.
Elijah was growing old and he knew that he would have to train someone to take his place as the spiritual leader of Israel. God sent a young man his way named Elisha. II Ki 2:1-2 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Understand, Elijah is about to die, or be take away. We are in his final hours. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” The beauty of being at peace with another. Neither having to weigh thoughts or measure words. But spilling them out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.” That is the Christian idea of a friend.

In the New Testament we continue to find this same idea of friend however it becomes more affectionate and even more loving. A “friend” in the New Testament is one that we embrace, that we would lay our life down for, one that we love. When Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss! Luke 22:47 Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” For the soldiers the kiss is a sign of betrayal. For Jesus the kiss is a sign of friendship.

Abraham, because of the intimacy of his relations, was called “the friend of God”. Exod 33:11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. In the New Testament, Jesus and His disciples illustrate the growth of friendship from that of teacher and disciple, lord and servant, to that of friend and friend. Paul and Timothy have a similar friendship.

Dr. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian physician who was imprisoned in one of Hitler’s death camps. Their living and working conditions were deplorable. Everything was inadequate, including medical care. Dr. Frankl offered what little medical help he could to the sick and dying. Over a period of time, he discovered a very unique phenomenon. Those people who kept their strength and sanity the longest were those who tried to be helpful to other prisoners and shared what little they had. Their physical & mental condition seemed to be strengthened by their friendliness, compassion, and focus on something other than themselves.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.
The “disciple whom Jesus loved” was a phrase used of John. Our text even reveals that when he writes, “the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

We all understand about being a friend of God, even though we aren’t always a friend. The lesson today invites us to be friends with each other. The strength of the early church wasn’t only that they all believed in Christ, but they were friends. The power of evangelism, isn’t only in the truth, but in friendships.

Life itself is empty without friends. One has to be a friend to have friends. The best way to destroy an enemy is to change him into a friend.

On a Decoration Day parade the ten surviving Civil War veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic would ride in honor. Baker delivered newspapers and wondered why a customer–Mr. Smith–who was the same age as the Civil War vets was not riding in the car with the other vets. He asked his mother. She said, “Well, Mr. Smith was a Confederate. Maybe your grandfather can explain it better than I can.” When he asked his grandfather why Smith did not ride in the parade, he replied: “Because he was a Johnny Reb–he was the enemy.” Baker questioned: “But he is our neighbor. And I like him. Is he still the enemy?” Then he said, “I guess he’s not the enemy anymore. That war ended a long time ago.” Smiling, he added, “I’ll talk to the comrades about inviting your friend to ride with us next year.” The grandfather and his comrades invited the former Confederate soldier to ride with them. Forgiveness means recognizing who our neighbors really are.

Servant Of the Living God

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Al Palanza’s brother had been dead for two weeks when a letter arrived at the address of the deceased. Social Services had written to notify him that his food stamps had been discontinued… “…because we received notice that you have passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.” When questioned, the social services director said that the letter was computer-generated. Social Services is working on a more appropriate letter.

Don Marquis, the New York newspaperman who charmed readers in the 1920s, loved to tell this story about himself. “Marquis suffered a heart attack. It was urgent that he be taken to a hospital at once. All the ambulances were in service, so a hearse was sent for him. But on the way to the hospital, the glass-paned hearse was halted in a traffic jam. The hearse pulled up next to a smart little open roadster in which two frolicsome young women were gaily chattering. Then, they glanced through the glass panel where Marquis’ burly figure lay under a blanket. At the moment, he caught their eyes, and in spite of heartburn, appalled them with a slow, magnificent wink. The women became hysterical and, as his hearse rolled away, he saw them crash into another car.

Our Savior Jesus Christ truly did rise from the dead. Those who first saw must have been amazed when he gave a slight grin and a magnificent wink. There was no doubt they lived better lives after that.

The sixth chapter of Daniel we often read as a faith and commitment chapter. It is a faith and commitment chapter as we find that Daniel stands his ground for what he believes. He is unwilling to stop worshiping God, even for the sake of the King’s decree. As a result, Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den. Willing to die for his faith in God. That stuff preaches and we can have a lot of sermons on faith and commitment out of Daniel.

What we fail to see is that the 6th chapter of Daniel is also prophetic for the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ. Look with me at the unmistakable similarities between the story in Daniel and the story of Jesus. Beyond the strong similarities is the fact that the two accounts are 600 years apart. With such similarities at such a distance, the writing becomes prophetic.

Daniel because of his great leadership (wisdom and dreams) has become well known in the kingdom, Jesus (understanding and miracles) has become well known in Judea. Daniel is the one who the kings sought out for wisdom. Jesus’ popularity was established when we road into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.

Daniel is persecuted because he will not stop worshiping God, Jesus is persecuted because He claims to be God.

Daniel was so perfect that he gained enemies among his peers, Jesus made enemies of the religious leaders. These leaders wanted to kill them. They could not find a true reason nor a legal reason to kill them. So they lie, they entrap and they plan their demise. Darius knows that he has been used by the other leaders to get Daniel. While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

Daniel is placed in a den of lions and the den sealed, Jesus is put into a tomb and it is also sealed. In the middle east, when they wanted entertainment, they put someone in an arena and watched the lions eat the person. Here is an unusual situation in that not only is there not a public spectacle, but the lions are housed in a cave or den. The cave is sealed, so that no one can go in or come out. Jesus, following His crucifixion, is placed in a borrowed tomb, a cave. Tomb is also sealed. They don’t want anyone stealing the body. They even put a guard at watch.

The next morning Darius comes running to the sealed tomb to find the fate of Daniel, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary rushed to the tomb to find the fate of Jesus. Darius cannot eat or sleep and runs to the den and says, at the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
SERVANT OF THE LIVING GOD! In this 6th chapter is the first and only time that phrase is used in Daniel. Did he really expect Daniel to be alive, only if God was alive! The Marys come to the tomb with spices for burying Jesus. (Matthew 28:2-4) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

There is an angel in both accounts. Daniel tells Darius that God sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions to spare Daniel. Death cannot touch Daniel. The angel at the empty tomb told the women, Why do you seek the living One among the dead?

That we lived with such confidence! What is it that gave Daniel such faith? Because Daniel didn’t just believe in a God, Daniel believed in a “living” God.

I stand here today just as convinced of the resurrection of Jesus as I stood here one year ago. I have been to the den of lions. I know what it is to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps all of that has even strengthened my resolve. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

I like Job can honestly say, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another.

The Unforged Path

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People are under pressure today as never before to “perform” and always do better in jobs, careers, business, families, etc. Unfortunately, many well meaning but ineffective Christians are working as hard as they can without the slightest idea of what direction they are moving. Christians that are floundering! Not growing in Christian maturity. Not achieving what they want in life. Unhappy at the jobs they possess. Personal discontentment leads to family discontentment.

Tolstoy tells the story of a man who would own all that he could encompass in a day’s walk. Early one morning, as the sun came over the horizon, he began his journey. He began walking north. He took long but leisurely steps. He had figured his pace carefully and knew that at certain times he would have to turn. When it came time for his turn east, he thought he would go a little further north instead.
By quickening his pace a little, he figured he could make up the time. Each time he turned, east, south, then west, he went a little further and walked a little faster. He was encompassing a lot of land. During his walk, he had time to make elaborate plans on how he could use the land he would own to create great wealth. As the sun was beginning to set, he could be seen coming over the last hill. He was running for all he was worth. He had to make his starting point by sunset to claim the land. Just as the sun set, he ran to the point of his beginning. He’d won! Or had he? As he came to the point where he had begun his journey, the crowds gathered around him as he fell to the ground in exhaustion and died. He won it all but could have none of it.

As Jesus said, What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.

A poor person is not one with no money, but one with no dream. A clear vision gives us clarity of purpose and direction. Vision focuses our plans… and energizes us for action. (If we don’t know where we are going, what we really want to do, and completely commit ourself to it’s accomplishment, we flounder!) We need a target to shoot at… a goal to strive toward. Everyone needs a clearly defined vision, to get excited about.

Worship helps us find who we are and why God has placed us here on the earth.
When we bow in God’s presence with worship, only then are we made complete.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”God’s guidance will always be in concert with His purpose for us as individuals and with the abilities that He has given us.” In our age, as in every age, people are longing for happiness, not realizing that what they are looking for is holiness.

The difference between I CAN’T and I CAN is often I WILL. Louis Pasteur once said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. “It is in changing that things find purpose.

Seven Major Steps necessary to convert your past failures to successes and achieve many future high goals: Write down the goals you definitely want to achieve. You have to have a target. Shooting in the air, gives nothing.

Take a half-hour each day to review your written goals and list ideas that flash into your mind. Plan how you can achieve these goals. Keep your mind on what you want and off what you don’t want. Setting goals is not coveting. It is setting directions for your life. Try to recognize, relate, assimilate, and APPLY principles from what you see, hear, read, think, or experience.

Use suggestions to influence others and self-suggestion with regularity. Don’t assume that everyone knows your dreams. Others like to make things possible, but only if they know it. Learn how to help yourself, and share your knowledge and blessings with others. The one who gives always ends up with more.

Memorize the self-starter DO IT NOW! When you have a worthy thought, and DO IT NOW! flashes to mind, get into action immediately! DO IT NOW! He was born in Columbus, Ohio, 1890, the third of eight children. At eleven he quit school to help with the family expenses, and got his first full-time job at $3.50 per week.
At fifteen he got interested in automobiles and went to work in a garage at $4.50 a week. He knew he would never get anywhere without more schooling, so he subscribed to a correspondence home study course on automobiles. Night after night, following long days at the garage, he worked on the kitchen table by the light of a kerosene lamp. His next step was already planned in his mind-a job with the Frayer-iller Automobile Company of Columbus. One day, when he felt ready, he walked into the plant. Lee Frayer was bent over the hood of a car. The boy waited.
Finally, Frayer noticed him. “Well,” he said, “what do you want?” “I just thought I’d tell you I’m coming to work here tomorrow,” the boy replied. “Oh! Who hired you?” “Nobody yet, but I’ll be on the job in the morning. If I’m not worth anything, you can fire me.” Early the next morning the young man returned to the garage. Frayer was not yet there. Noticing that the floor was thick with metal shavings and accumulated dirt and grease, the boy got a broom and shovel and set to work cleaning the place. The rest of the boy’s future was predictable. He went on to a national reputation as a racing car driver and automotive expert. In World War I he was America’s leading flying ace. Later he founded Eastern Airlines.
His name — Eddie Rickenbacker.

TO BREAK BREAD

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Gratitude is from the same root word as “grace,” which signifies the free and boundless mercy of God. It was Maundy Thursday. The congregation was having the traditional communion service. This time the pastor suggested that as we passed the bread and cup we whisper, “The body of Christ, broken for you.” “The blood of Christ, shed for you.” As the service progressed, I concentrated on remembering the pastor’s words, and thought it would be nice to do this more often. Between me and the aisle was an old woman, not nearly so concerned with the pastor’s exact words, but thoroughly understanding their meaning. As she served me she said softly, “Take it. It’s for sinners.”

Paul said to the young Timothy, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”(I Tim. 1:15) Many of us feel that we cannot take the Lord’s Supper because we are not worthy. We have sinned, disobey God. But this meal is precisely for sinners. Twelve of those who gathered around that table were very flawed.

We take part in this meal not because we are perfect but because we are not perfect. The purpose of the meal was not for those who were well, but for the sick. The very ones that needed Jesus’ death the most. To examine ourselves simply means to know that we are sinners and need the forgiveness of Jesus.

It has been said that when we Disciples gather for worship, we always have the Lord’s Supper. When we look at all the passages in the New Testament that record a worship or gathering of the first century Church, they always “broke bread.” Luke, the disciple, writes the Book of Acts around 61 A.D. In the writing he gives us a clear insight into the worship service. On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.

This passage in acts is one of my favorites because it tells us how easy the laity of today have it. Paul spoke to the people and kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!”

Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. This bread is life. Jesus in fact said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.