Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Take a friend with you

“Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:15b (NIV)

God was very purposeful in His amazing creation of the heavens and earth—and of everything in it. Distinctive in that is God’s creation of mankind.

When creating light; night and day; dry ground and seas; vegetation; sun, moon, and stars; and all living creatures of the air, sea, and land, God said, “Let there be…” (Genesis 1). Creating mankind, the “LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Where God (Elohim) stresses the power of God as creator, the double title LORD (Yahweh) God (Elohim) stresses that the God of creation is also the God who comes into relationship with man, revealing Himself to man and caring for him. Built in the aspect of relationship is the role of friend.

The Bible includes many examples of friendship, including David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4); Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 2:16-18); Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila (Romans 16:3-4); and Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus (Philipians 2:19-25).

Jesus Himself had friends while living here on earth. Surrounding Himself with twelve men whom He taught and carefully discipled, Jesus also had an inner circle of three close friends—Peter, James, and John.

Without doubt, the ultimate friendship is with God. The Scripture writer in Exodus describes Moses speaking with God as “one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:1); and Abraham, whose faith was credited as righteousness, was “called God’s friend” (James 2:23).

More than a century ago Joseph Scriven penned the words of a poem to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. What a Friend We Have in Jesus became one of our greatest hymns when musician Charles C. Converse set that poem to music in 1868.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a Friend so faithful

Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our Refuge

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

Thou wilt find a solace there.

(Source: The Lutheran Hymnal, Concordia Publishing House)

Dear friend, the LORD God is the friend for all time. He is mighty to save, takes great delight in us, quiets us with His love, and rejoices over us with singing. He has a plan when we’re confused, is faithful when we fail, and certain when we’re scared. We can trust Him for His promise to never leave us, to never forsake us.

Next time we meet, let’s take a look at characteristics of being a friend.

Blessings, my friend.

Faithfully Following

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