"... the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)
1. Pseudo (phony) friendship are Easy to Obtain --- and just as Easy to Lose.
a. Proverbs 19:4, "Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour." (14:20)
b. The Prodigal Son ... Luke 15:16, "And he would fain (with joy) have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him."
2. Proverbs 18:24, "A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother."
(RSV) - "There Are Friends Who Pretend To Be Friends,"
(Moffatt) - "There Are Friends Who Only Bring You Loss:"
(RV) - "He That Maketh Many Friends, Doeth It To His Own Destruction."
(NIV) - "A Man of Many Companions May Come To Ruin,"
3. James 4:4, "... know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
4. If a person has One true friend, he is Rich indeed.
a. A person with Two true friends, is Extremely rich
--- with Three true friends, there is Nothing in this world that will ever Defeat you.
b. Many people go through life Without even One True friend.
c. However, Many have never Learned (don't know how) To Be a Real Friend themselves.
d. Or, they have No Desire To Be a friend --- they only want To Have A Friend.
5. Jerry Falwell --- (Dec. 1991) --- After devoting part of a sermon in Lynchburg to a detailed explanation of his financial crisis, Falwell drew these conclusions about the toughest single year in his 35 year career:
"There are no quick fixes ... There are no real bargains ... There are no permanent solutions ... There are No Forever Friends."
6. From a Human standpoint --- man's Greatest Need is a True (Forever) Friend.
(( Teenagers --- suicide ... ))
B. Luke 16:8-9, "And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
C. True (biblical) friendship was the Lifestyle and Trademark of the Early Church.
II Thessalonians 1:3, "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;"
D. Today, many churches are Pure in their Doctrine --- but Dead in their Inner Life.
I. Why Do We Need A "Lifetime" Friend When We Already Have God?
A. Two Friends who met together at least once a month to share their Spiritual and Personal lives states:
"Being with each other once a month was like finding water in the desert because we felt understood and accepted. We always left each other's company with more love to give our families than when we had arrived.
But this Comfort and Growth was Sabotaged By Guilt. We Felt Guilty for spending time together instead of spending that time alone with God praying and reading the Bible, or spending that time witnessing to people who didn't even know Him.
We Felt Guilty About Needing Each Other. --- But we didn't just seem to need each other, we Enjoyed each other's company. --- The longer we were friends the more evident it became that we were truly kindred spirits.
We Also Needed each other to Bear our burdens, to Hear our confessions, to Encourage us, to Build us up, to Love us fervently."
B. The song --- "Christ Is All I Need!"
C. Why Do We Need a close friend when we already have God?
1. The Bible tells us that:
a. His grace is sufficient for us --- (2 Cor. 12:9)
b. We are to cast all our cares on Him --- (1 Peter 5:7)
c. He will give us rest --- (Matt. 11:28)
2. It just doesn't seem right to admit that we have a need of anyone else.
3. It seemes as though God alone and our service for Him should meet our personal needs.
D. However, Remember --- It was God Himself Who said:
Genesis 2:18, "... [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
E. Having a "Real" friend should Not transfer our Expectations From God To our friend!
1. Many couples expect Each Other to meet All their Needs --- many of which, Only God can meet.
2. After marriage, one Wife Confessed: "I wanted him to be perfect, and therefore, when he failed to live up to all my ideals. I Looked Down On Him just as far as I had, previously looked up at him. Either way, I Kept Him At A Distance."
F. Most Marriages that end in Divorce, do so because --- of a Lack of "True" friendship.
1. "I'll meet your needs --- If you'll meet mine.
2. "I'll Change him After we get married."
3. Marriage, like Friendship, is Not a "50-50" proposition.
II Timothy 2:13, "If we believe not, (are not faithful) [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself."
Psalms 103:14, "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust."
4. Give your Expectations to God --- Be a True Friend to your husband/wife.
II. A "Lifetime" Friend Will Understand And Accept You As You Are!
A. He will Not carry a Chip on his shoulder or be Offended by your actions.
1. Pettiness is not one of his characteristics.
2. He does not feel as though he Owns you.
a. He does not Dominate Your Time.
b. He allows you to have Other Friends.
c. He does not seek to Control You ... Guilt Trip.
3. He Never feels Slighted.
4. His friendship is Not Conditional.
5. He will Never Reject you or make you feel Rejected!
B. A true friend will Never be Fickled or Unreliable --- turn their back on you For Someone Else who:
1. May show them more Attention --- Stimulate and Encourage them ...
2. Has a better Personality than you,
3. Has more Influence and Prestige than you,
C. A True friend does Not Forsake you when you Need him The Most.
D. What would it take To Cause You to Forsake, Desert, or Abandon someone you have Considered a friend.
1. You do Not Intend him any Harm:
a. You just leave him to "Fend For Himself."
b. You just Don't Support him any longer.
c. There is a "Distance" between you.
d. Things are "Not Like They Use To Be."
e. You merely "Leave Him Alone" --- in other words, "Abandon" him.
2. You say: "But, you don't understand:
a. He slighted me --- and I was his friend,
b. He hurt my feelings --- He offended me,
c. He was picky and critical of me ...
3. In other words, Your friendship is Conditional upon his meeting your Expectation.
God deliver me from such friends ...
E. Have you every Considered:
1. You might have Misinterpreted his Actions or Motives.
2. He might Not Have Meant it the Way You Took It.
a. Even after he Tries To Explain, you still don't believe him or accept his interpretation of his own actions.
b. You Think you know His Heart and Motives better than he does.
F. The Problem may Not Be With Your Friend --- it may Be With You.
1. He might have been Your True Friend --- but You Were Not His --- it was a One Way Street.
2. You may Not Know How to be a Real friend,
3. You may have No Desire To Be a real friend --- Only To Have one.
4. So He may have made a Mistake --- You may have too many Conditions for your friendship.
G. Does God stop being your friend when you:
1. Slight or neglect Him --- (Didn't include Him in your plans),
2. Offend or Grieve Him,
3. Critical of Him, "Why did God Let This Happen ..."
H. Proverbs 18:24, "... there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother."
III. A "Lifetime" (True) Friend Will Care, Forgive, And Pray With You -- Will Comfort And Encourage You!<0/P>
A. He will Never Turn His Back on you --- or be Disappointed in you.
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
B. He will Never feel that you Deserve your Problems or Difficult Situations --- even if they are of Your Own Making.
1. He will Not be Embarrassed because of you --- nor to Stand Up for you.
2. He will Viciously Defend you against All critics.
C. A True friend will not Forsake or Neglect you --- When You Need Him The Most!
IV. However, A "Lifetime" Friend Will Also Lovingly Confront You!
A. I Thessalonians 5:14, "Now we exhort you, brethren, Warn them that are unruly," --- Amplified Bible, "We earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line ..."
B. But, we should Not be Judgmental or Critical --- but rather humbly and gently.
1. Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
2. The word "Restore" (Greek) is used for restoring a broken leg.
3. We should help a friend caught in an ongoing sinful pattern with the same gentleness we would a broken bone.
C. If we Really Care about our friends, we will not want to see them suffer the Results of Sin.
D. Before we confront our friend --- we must check Our Attitude.
1. Do we have a Forgiving attitude?
2. Would we rather Set A Person Straight or Tell Him Off ----- than Forgive?
3. Do we have His/Her Best Interest at heart?
4. Do we have a desire to Vent Our Anger ---or do we have a desire to be Helpful? --- Anger or fear may keep us from going with a Spirit of Gentleness, Humility, and Readiness to Forgive.
5. Do we feel True Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience?
E. Often, we don't admonish because we Lack Courage or Fear Rejection.
1. "It takes a lot of courage to not let a friend drive drunk."
2. We need to have a Real Concern for the Welfare of our friend.
F. When --- should we confront?
1. When our friend Sins Against Us --- (Matt. 18:15)
2. When our friend is Trapped (overtaken, caught off-guard) in sin --- (Gal. 6:1)
3. When a friend Persists in a serious sin --- (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
4. When a friend has something Against Us --- (Matt. 5:23-24)
a. Our natural human response --- "If he has something against me, Let Him Come to me!"
b. Yet, Jesus stated that if we remember that a friend has something against us, We Should Go and Initiate The Reconciliation.
5. When there is an Unresolved Dispute --- (1 Cor. 6:1-5)
V. Seven Barriers To "Lifetime Friendships"
A. Society's Loose Regard For Commitment --- is a barrier to lasting friendships.
1. This is typified by a T-shirt motto: "Sworn To Fun, Loyal To None."
2. Many are more committed to their "Soaps" than to their friends!
3. This is a "Me-First" generation --- No Commitment!
B. The Mobility of our society --- is another barrier.
1. We have developed a "Stewardess-Syndrome," where we warmly smile and greet strangers as if we had shared the intimacy of a lifetime, then quickly pass by.
2. We get so busy running from one Activity or Appointment to another --- we seldom have time for close friends.
C. Another barrier is the belief that --- Christian Commitment is to be To Christ Alone.
1. You Cannot Be Committed To Christ If You Are Not Committed To Your Friends!
a. I John 4:20, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
b. If we are Committed To Christ then we are to be Committed To His Children.
c. Our relationship to others is a Visual Measurement of our Commitment and Love To Christ.
d. John 13:35, "By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
e. If our Relationship To Others is Not Right --- God Does Not Want Us To Come To Him.
Matthew 5:23-24, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
2. Some believe that God intends to meet our needs Solely through Prayer, Study of His Word, and Christian Service.
a. The "Each Other" in our lesson text validate the truth that God intends for our needs to be met through Godly Friendships.
b. Our "Needs" are Not met through our service to others.
c. II Thessalonians 1:3, "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;"
3. With some there is the tendency to Value Service --- Over Godliness.
a. Place more emphasis on What You Do for the Lord --- than on how much you are Becoming Like Him?
b. God's Primary Goal for us is that we Mature into His Image --- His Attitudes.
Ephesians 4:13, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:"
4. Valuing Service over Relationships --- is wrong.
a. Service isn't always a barometer of a person's Christlikeness or spiritual maturity.
b. When we Value people only For Their Contribution to a project or ministry we actually Devalue them.
5. Others even believe that we have needs --- "Only When We Are Not Trusting God".
a. To some Christians, admitting weakness or defeat would be admitting Christianity wasn't working.
b. To them, admitting Need seems like admitting Immaturity.
c. It is amazing how many Christians confuse Neediness with Sinfulness.
D. The belief that we should be Equally Close To Everyone in the church --- is another barrier.
1. This usually means we keep A Safe Distance from everyone, for we cannot be close to all.
2. We need to follow the Model of Closeness that Jesus set for us.
120 --- 70 --- 12 --- Peter, James, & John --- John
3. Jesus was Much Closer To Some of His disciples than He was to others.
E. Another barrier is the belief that --- our Marriage Partner should Fulfill All of our Emotional and Spiritual needs.
1. However, our marriages Reveal as many needs as they Fill.
2. This is not to say that Our Marriages don't help meet our basic Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual needs --- They Do.
a. Some people's greatest source of healing is their spouse.
b. But we need to look to other members of Christ's body --- our friends --- for strength and encouragement.
3. At the same time, Friendships should always Strengthen a marriage --- never be a Substitute for or a Detriment to it.
4. Single People do not need to wait until they are married to enjoy the Emotional Intimacy that comes with Biblical Friendships.
F. Another barrier is --- the Fear of Getting Close to another person, allowing them to Know Us Really Well, and then Rejecting Us or Turning against us.
1. This is the fear that we will gain a friend Only To Lose Him/Her.
2. This is Too Big A Price To Pay for friendship ---
Consequently we settle for a Variety of Acquaintances instead of one or more close intimate friends.
3. This involves the fear of Losing Control of our Emotions.
a. Many people are Afraid that Closeness might stir up some Deep Feelings --- that we Don't Want To Share.
b. Crying, depression, anger, --- even sexual feelings.
c. These feeling can be frightening and embarrassing.
d. The Key to overcoming this barrier is to:
(1) Choose friends you can trust with your thoughts and feelings,
(2) Friends who are committed to your welfare.
4. The fear of Conflict --- will hinder you in building a deep friendships.
a. In any close relationship we will have Differences of Opinion.
b. Even though we may have shared very deeply in many areas --- we still tend to avoid any possible conflicts for Fear of Destroying Our Friendship.
G. The last barrier --- the Tendency we both have to Avoid Being Peers or Equals.
1. Initially --- one will feel more comfortable Sharing Their Needs or struggles --- the other will feel more comfortable in being the "Helper."
2. However, when one person dominates the helping role it tends to set that person up as Superior and the other as Inferior.
3. Galatians 5:13, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
A. A true friend will never Reject or Forsake you.
1. Even when you are Wrong --- even if you do something Dumb.
2. James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
3. Even when you Don't Deserve a friend --- which is when you Need One The Most.
B. Jesus has never Rejected or Forsaken you --- even when you were wrong.
1. While we were Yet Sinners --- Christ Loved Us and Gave His Life for us.
2. Not because we Deserve It --- Not because of Our Faithfulness --- But Because of His.
3. II Timothy 2:13, "If we believe not (are not faithful), [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself --- (( break His commitment ))."
C. Are You That Kind of Friend To Someone?
1. Don't expect To Have a True friend --- if You are Not willing To Be a True friend yourself!
2. Your Greatest Desire should Not be To Have a true friend, but rather To Be a true friend.
D. "How Do I Get Started?"
1. Reach Out To Others.
a. Let that person know that you are interested in becoming better acquainted.
b. Be prepared for possible disappointments.
c. Others may not recognize the same needs you do.
d. They may be too afraid to become friends and let you get to know them.
2. Share Personally About Your Interest.
a. Keep in mind that it Takes Time To Build Trust --- most relationships Grow Gradually.
b. There are Different Levels of trust within friendships:
(1) Discussing ideas, information, theories, and generalizations.
(2) Sharing experiences from the past.
(3) Sharing present problems and feelings.
(4) Sharing negative feelings toward each other --- takes the greatest amount of intimacy and trust.
c. It May Seem Natural to give Advice and Probe when others express problems or troubling feelings, --- but, unless our friends want this kind of help, our questioning may come across as Forcing Them To Tell what they may Not Be Ready To Share, which causes resentment and interferes with the development of trust and friendship.
3. Have Fun!
a. Recreation and laughter have a way of relaxing and refreshing us.
b. They also build strong bridges for our friendships.
4. Find Time --- Quality Time.
a. To Make Room For Friendship we may need to re-examine our priorities.
b. Sacrificing sleep in order to have an early morning breakfast together.
c. God's Priority Is People!
5. Make A Commitment --- Covenant Relationship.
a. Friendship is one way we reflect God's commitment to each of us.
b. I Samuel 18:3, "Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul."
There Is No Second Chance After Death!
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