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A Friendship | More Than

#storychanging

A Friendship | More Than

MondayDo not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”   1 Corinthians 15:33

*“I heard Margo’s drinking again,” Shelli said. “What happened?” Meg sighed. “Started going to Happy Hour with coworkers.”

*“He was a good boy,” sobbed a bereaved mother. “He just got in with the wrong crowd. Now he’s gone forever.”

*“I wanna give my life to Jesus,” Tex admitted. “But I’ve partied with these friends since high school. They won’t understand.”

Having friends is not enough. A group of supportive friends might be supporting us all the way to hell. We tend to hang around with people who think like us, so if our thinking is wonky, so are our friends. “I don’t need church friends,” someone says. “I’ve already got loads of friends to do life with.” Well Karen, are they walking with Jesus? Do they encourage you to live a godly life and confront you when you’re headed down the wrong path? Godly friendships are more than barbeques and movie dates. If a relationship doesn’t inspire you to be a better Christian, it’s not a helpful relationship. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Friction is involved in that sharpening process, but it produces a useful tool. Karen may love her friends, but do they inspire her to obey Jesus? Will those friendships last for all eternity?

Final Thought:  Friendship is more than a group of drinking buddies. Good friendships help us be better Christ followers.

Prayer: Father, help me evaluate my relationships. Do they lead me closer to you or pull me away? Am I more like you for having spent time with them? Or am I more like the world? Help me pursue godly relationships. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday Jesus took Peter …James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.   Matthew 17:1

You won a dream vacation! You got a raise! She said yes! You got accepted! You’re having twins!  

When you get news like that, what’s your first reaction? Most of us think, “I’ve gotta call ________.” Good news won’t keep the lid on. We have to share it with somebody. So who do you pick? Once upon a time, news like that was saved for our closest friends and family. But social media has replaced them with virtual bouquets and hearts we click on. Doesn’t it leave you a little empty? Even with 500 likes, something is missing. A screen can’t hug you. It can’t fist bump. You don’t see the light of joy or tears of gratitude in its eyes. So whenever Jesus had something awesome to share, what did He do?

Everywhere He went, Jesus was surrounded by people. Some adored Him; some hated Him. Didn’t matter. He still loved, healed, fed, and taught them. But even Jesus needed chill time. And when He was about to do something out-of-this-world, who did He take with Him? His three amigos: Peter, James, and John. Crowds considered themselves His disciples; twelve actually were. Jesus also had brothers, relatives, and friends but only those three guys got to see a special preview of heaven. At the top of a mountain, He was transfigured into glowing white while Moses and Elijah showed up and had a chat with Him. Then the voice of God boomed from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son.” Talk about a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping experience. Why did they get the privilege? Because they were all pursuing God’s plan as it unfolded in their world. These three were in Jesus’ inner circle. They were His best friends. His posse. His guys. They were His life group.

Final Thought:  Mountaintop experiences happen when we’re in community with others who are also pursuing God.

Prayer: Father, would I have been close enough to Jesus to have been invited to His mountaintop experience? I don’t want to miss out on any more of them. I commit to finding some Jesus-people to share life with. In His name, amen.

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Wednesday He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  Mark 14:33

It’s cancer. I got laid off. The baby didn’t make it. We’re getting a divorce. World-shattering events happen to all of us. Think of the last time an event shook your world. Where did you run? Who walked through it with you? It’s become commonplace to hide in substances or addictive behaviors, but the problem is still there when you sober up. God has a better solution. Jesus showed us what to do when He faced a world-shattering event. He turned to His three closest friends.

Solid friendships are built on both joy and sorrow. We’ve laughed with each other and cried buckets too. But if we expect people to be there for us when we face a world-shattering event, we must have already built the foundation by being there for them. In our ME-centered worlds, we see our own issues as atomic bombs blasts while other people’s problems are firecrackers. Being in community means we learn to be givers and not only takers. Instead of “What can they do for me?” we ask “How can I bless them?” We grieve over their losses, comfort them in their sickness, and pitch in when they need help. We’re not afraid to get in their faces when they’re offending God, and we let them do the same for us. It’s more than friendship.

Final Thought: Be brave enough to invest yourself in a few godly relationships. For all eternity, you’ll be glad you did.

Prayer: Father, help me be honest with myself about my selfishness. Am I as eager to be a friend as I am to find one? You know my excuses, but I’m tossing them aside this time. I’ll put myself out there and become someone’s safe place. Amen.

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ThursdayConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  James 5:16

The yearning inside was overwhelming. He would fight it until he couldn’t stand it any longer—and then he’d give in. He always did. He hated this cycle that had taken over his life. It was humiliating to be trapped like this. No one could know. What would they think? Heat flooded his face and he dropped his head in his hands. How did it get like this? He was only gonna dabble a little. A little stress reliever every now and then. But it didn’t stay little. It was a monster and growing bigger. He hated the secrecy, the fear, being one way at church and another way at home. It was tearing him apart, but what could he do?

James tells us: “Confess your sins to each other…”  NO! we think. No one can know about this! It would ruin me. They’d hate me. Judge me. Really? Who would? When God put His children into families called churches, He created a “no judgment” zone. It’s not a “sin-all-you-want-and-no-one-can-say-anything-about-it” zone. It’s a “we’re-all-sinners-so-how-can-we-help- you” zone. Secret sin will eat us alive as long as it stays secret. So our Father says, “Own it. Admit it. Confess it to your brothers and sisters and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. They’ll pray with you, encourage you, challenge you, and help you overcome just like you’ll do for someone else.” Confession is good for the soul and life groups are where we start.

Final Thought:  What if the help you need is only one confession away? Find people who know how to pray and fess up.

Prayer: Father, thank you for putting us in spiritual families. Thank you that when we’re following you, we can journey with those who are struggling. Help me be honest about my own struggles and find your healing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:20

“I don’t think it’ll do any good,” Moshe mumbled. “I’ve already tried everything I—” Seth cut him off. “No more excuses,” he said. “We’re taking you to the Teacher. He can heal you. We’ve seen it. Now, Joshua take that side and I’ll grab this here and…there we go! We’re on our way to see the One who has come from God!” Moshe tried to object but his words were muffled by the thick blanket holding his useless body as his friends carried him down the road. “Why are you doing this, guys? You know I don’t even have any faith left. The Teacher only heals people with faith.” Seth stopped walking and peered over the folds of the blanket, his dark face dripping sweat. “You may not, but we do. We’ll lend you our faith til your own comes back!”

There are times when our faith isn’t strong enough to lift our heads. We’ve been hurt, disappointed in God, whacked around by life until we’re ready to give up. If our future depended on our own faith, we’d be in trouble. That’s when we need faith-filled friends to carry us. “You may not have faith right now,” they say, “but we do. We’ll lend you our faith until your own comes back.” And they haul us over to Jesus. They lift us up in prayer when our own prayers seem to go no further than the ceiling. They come over when we tell them not to. They text us encouragement. They remind us that we’re not alone. And more importantly, they remind us that God has not forsaken us. True friends help us get to Jesus when we can’t do it on our own.

Final Thought:  You need friends who will help you get to Jesus when you can’t do it on your own.

Prayer: Father, thank you for putting that kind of friend in my life in the past. Help me be that for someone else who’s struggling. Show me a life group where I can be carried when I need it and also carry someone else. In Jesus’ name, amen.