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Friends

October 23rd, 2015

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

The wise person knows where and from whom they will receive help and healing.

My thoughts and comments today are about “friends.”

Maybe you would recognize the theme song of Cheers, a television program popular from 1982-1993. “Making your way in the world today, takes everything you’ve got; Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name.” The odd lot of likable characters found a sense of family and friendship in the iconic Boston Pub.

When life feels increasingly bewildering and unfriendly, you will seek the company of others, “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” When you need refuge while you sort out life, where do you go? Some choose a busy, noisy place to drown out their own thoughts and concerns. Others like a quiet place alone where they can reflect and consider. But all seem to appreciate the reassuring company of people who welcome them whatever the time or trouble. See Proverbs 27:17 NIV.

Luke reports a time soon after Pentecost when Peter and John were brought before the prevailing, religious authorities and threatened to cease their bold declaration of the deity and resurrection of Jesus. Read Acts 4:1-21 NKJV. This was a threat of no small concern. “When they further threatened them, they let them go . . and being let go, they went to their own companions.” Acts 4:23/31 NKJV. Their response was to seek out the company of friends.

What is your immediate response when you find yourself in unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or unsafe situations? Gordon MacDonald authored, “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion,” a book of spiritual influence in my life. He proposed that every person needs three things when confusion or conflict comes and your joy of life wanes: (1) a map marking safe places where you find out who God is, (2) a calendar reserving still times when you can hear what God says, and (3) the names of special friends who encourage you to obey what God asks. “A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 AMP.

But let me be clear, it’s not just any friends. The company with which Jesus’ followers gathered were people of like faith – friends filled with the Spirit of God (Acts 4:31), friends of one heart and soul (Acts 4:32), and friends who were selfless, even sacrificial (Acts 4:32). Similarly, en route to imprisonment at Rome, Paul was thankful for friends, “The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15 NLT.

Friends include you in their lives. Jesus elevated the stature and privilege of friendship when He said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NIV. Those kinds of friends continue to restore and strengthen my faith every day.

Today, I pray for you to have valued and reliable friends for the best and worst of times.

Christian Communications 10137
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People Who Need People

March 8th, 2012

“Greet . . my co-workers in the ministry for Christ Jesus.” Romans 16:3 NLT

“Some measure of God’s blessing is reserved for people who need people.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “people who need people.”

There are a few people who tolerate others; even some who use others. But then there are people who need and appreciate people. Barbra Streisand memorably sang, “People who need people, Are the luckiest people in the world. We’re children, needing other children, And yet letting a grown-up pride, Hide all the need inside. Acting more like children than children.” You can tell the difference when you are around people who need people, who really like and appreciate people. You feel special to be with them, glad to be counted their friend, and appreciated for who you are not what you have.

Jesus was like that. Others sought to be in His company. He walked with equal ease among the common as well as the consequential. Poor and wealthy alike respected His words and prized His wisdom. He valued every person, and saw their good and potential whatever their history or social status. No wonder Jesus was criticized as being a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Matthew 11:19. Jesus did not die to preserve a government or a system of society; Jesus died for people, for sinners, for you and me.

I think that some measure of God’s blessing is reserved for those people who need people, as Jesus did. When you honor people, recognize their talents and promote their abilities, honor them for their contribution, encourage them to realize their greater potential, and bless them as they move into their future – God honors you as you have honored them.

God told Abraham, “I will bless you and I will make you a blessing to others . . all the families of the earth shall be blessed by you.” Genesis 12:2-3. There is some dimension of the blessings of God that is connected to your willingness to be a channel of His blessing to others. Consider the people who helped you along the way, who pointed you on the right path and promoted your getting there successfully. Where would you be if they had not needed you? You should pass such kindness on to others with even more generous measure. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely also give.” Matthew 10:8. People who need people – in righteous ways and for Godly reasons – are marked for the favor and honor of the Lord.

“Greet . . my co-workers in the ministry for Christ Jesus.” Romans 16:3 NLT. With those words, Paul begins a litany of people highly regarded that he needed and appreciated: Phoebe, Priscilla and Acquila, Epenetus, Mary, Andronicus and Junia, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys, as many as twenty-four names as well as “all the other believers who are with them.” Vs 15. All were indispensable “co-workers in the ministry for Christ Jesus.” People – some ordinary, some exceptional – each a significant contributor to who Paul was and all he did. Those people were names not numbers, his friends not acquaintances. Whose names come to mind that hold such a place in your life?

The names may sound strange and unfamiliar to you, but in Paul’s heart each name brought memories of people he held in great, personal esteem and gratefulness. Remember, you can buy things and replace them as you want, but people are never replaceable. Prize them highly; treat them kindly. You need people in your life more than you might realize at a particular moment.

My prayer for you today is that you value the people God places in your life.

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