Friday, August 30, 2013

Friends Part II

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15

There was a song by Carole King in the 70’s called You’ve Got a Friend. It promised "Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall; all you’ve got to do is call--and I’ll be there." If that song was written today, it’d go, "Winter Spring, Summer and Fall; all you’ve got to do is call--and I’ll be there…2 weeks from Thursday. I’ll put you in my Day Planner."  Friendship in America has become an optional part of life for millions. Part of it is the pace of life in the rat race. It’s the pace of life we live. And a lot of us aren’t willing to make the changes necessary to make friends a higher priority.

The circumstances of our lives create little opportunity to make friends.  Every 24 hours over 100,000 people move. 70% of Americans say they always feel rushed. More time commuting, second job, second families, work--there’s little time left. We don’t have time to build deep lasting friendships.  Oh, sure we can all have acquaintances. The average person living in the city has an acquaintance pool of over 500-2000 people (relatives, neighbors, co-workers, customers, etc)--but only 4-5 real friends.

Health Warning Label: Friends Save Lives
Several studies show how important friendships are to long life.  A study in California compared people’s social ties and found that they could predict people’s mortality rates.  People who scored low on relationships were twice as likely to die as persons who scored high, even after taking into account a person’s health habits.  A large study at the University of Michigan found that lack of social relationships is statistically just as dangerous as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and lack of exercise.  In other words it found that friendships were lifesaving. It even said that getting a pet, or a fish helped.

Friends Affect Our Financial Success.
Studies have shown that financial success is due 15% to technical knowledge, and 85% due to relationships.  If you are a friendly person and can make friends, it usually increases your chances for success.  One of America’s wealthiest people for his time was Andrew Carnegie.  He paid Charles Schwab $3000 a day. Why? Because he knew more about steel than most people? No. Because he knew how to relate with people. He aroused enthusiasm and teamwork in others.  He was genuine, friendly, and complimentary.  These relational traits earned him millions.

Life is Relationships: if you can’t handle relationships, you can’t handle life.

While we seek to add wealth and knowledge to our lives to find happiness and peace, there is nothing that can replace what a friend brings to our lives.  Sadly, people in the world with great wealth or fame are some of the loneliest people in the world.  They would probably trade much of their wealth for a friend.  Today you might step away from the chaos of life and make a call, send a message or go have lunch with a friend.  Your day and your life will be the better for it.  And remember that God wants to be your friend as well.  Ex 33:11 "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend."

Scripture to Claim:
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Friends - Who needs them?

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

Friends is a show that started in 1994. For the few who may not know this, it’s about 3 guys and 3 girls who hang out together in Greenwich Village, New York.  It’s amazing how much people know about the characters on the show.  Why is there so much interest in the show?  I think it might have to do with the fact that people like to watch how others struggle through relationships--even if those relationships are just TV plots. Maybe people like to know that good friends fight and argue, and break-up like Ross and Rachel do.  Maybe people like to dream of a being accepted just as they are--like on TV, because in the real world acceptance is tied to performance.

Reality television shows about relationships are rating extremely high.  Vicariously, people place themselves into the relationships in the shows.  Even religious broadcasting designs sets where husbands and wives sit with friends in a living room setting where there is seemingly a chair for you in their home as they share their lives.  They even speak to you as if you are in the room. Sadly, those who watch daily know more about their lives than their own families.  We are hungry for close relationships.

Friends do more than merely fill our lives with support and fun.  They often define us.  The scripture tells us, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)  As we share in the lives of our friends we discover that our lives become intertwined.  Our thoughts and musings are often about them.  We are anxious to know about their day and to tell them about our own.  It is not uncommon to find friends who people feel must be related because they seem so alike.

How important are friendships in your life? What is the key to lasting friendships? I think I’m safe in saying that we all give lip service to the fact that "Yeah I should make friendships a priority."  But when it comes to making changes in our life to make it a reality--we give up.  Too much time. Too much trouble. Too much risk.  In America, according to polls--70% of us said that we have few close friends and this causes us to feel a serious void in our lives. But the rat race that so many of us are living day in and day out causes us to just give up and live with frustration and emptiness.

Most people today want to find friends who will accept them the way they are.  "A friend is someone who knows all about me and still likes me."  We want friends who will be loyal to us and keep their promises. Those who will stand with us when no one else will?  A friend is someone I can be myself around and not worry what they think about me; someone who believes in me.

It is interesting that what we long for is exactly what Christ desires to be for us.  He certainly meets all the requirements of a good friend.  He is faithful beyond measure.  He accepts us and understands us as no one else can.  He is loyal to us regardless of the circumstances of our lives.  We just need to lean on Him as He asks us to and know Him to experience His love.  Try Him today.

Scripture to Claim:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Are you Hungry for Sacred Security or Self-Righteousness

"I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."
John 6:51

John 6:37-40
Many doubt the truth of the doctrine of “security of the believer” or what is some-times called “once saved always saved.”  I really believe that this is the result of two things.

  • It is the unfortunate result of watching the behavior of some individuals who erroneously think that this is some kind of license to sin.
  • Some people reject the doctrine of security of the believer because they do not understand what this means. They believe their security depends on them and what they can do.  Since I could never do anything to save myself in the first place and there is nothing I can do to keep myself saved, my salvation and my security rest in the hands of Jesus.  So I praise HIM!
Notice three things about Jesus being our security for life in eternity.
  1. All Who Are Chosen Will Come. (37a) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me...”  This verse obviously speaks of the sovereignty and election of God.  God is not standing on the sidelines a helpless spectator until we decide we want to believe; and only then does he come into the process. The truth is that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (6:44). Yes, we are called upon to repent and believe but the process begins with God.
  2. All Who Come Will Be Welcome. (37b)  “…and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  There is the assurance that those who come to Jesus will be received. Again we have an emphatic double negative, “Him who comes to me I will never, ever cast out.”
  3. 3. All Who Come Are Safe Forever!   (vv. 38-40) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Not only does Jesus not cast anyone away who comes to Him, but He sees to it that no such person is ever lost.  This is the will of the Father and Jesus.  It is God the Father who loves the world so much that He has chosen us and drawn us and sent His only Son. It is Jesus that son who died on the cross to secure salvation who will never cast us out.

Scripture to Claim:
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." John 6:37-40

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Are you Hungry for the Flesh or the Spirit?

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63

God’s word tells us that that it is the word of God and the things of God that gives real life.  Sometimes we become spiritually empty and hunger and thirst for righteousness but try to satisfy that craving with other things, things that just don’t satisfy like God and then we wonder why we are not happy.  There is one and only one place to satisfy spiritual hunger and quench spiritual thirst.

Another way to ask the question is to ask are you hungry for the things that temporarily satisfy you…or are you hungry for the things that satisfy forever?

Are you sowing to self or are you sowing to the spirit?   Many folks who follow the provision and power of Jesus, struggle with His demands to sacrifice the flesh to benefit the spirit.  It’s easy to receive but hard to sacrifice.

We chase the temporary…fame, fortune, hobbies…when we get money, we want more…when we find love, we are satisfied until our lust craves something new…with our leisure we take more and more time to make ourselves happy… only to find that we aren’t happy. We are never content and the grass is always greener somewhere else.

A restless spirit creates a restless heart that searches for satisfaction. When will we learn that it is our spirit that is hungry and crying out for spiritual food.  John 6:60 says Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”

These were not the least bit accustomed to “spirit” life.  They were accustomed to law, not grace.  Too radical.  Too hard to change.

We want something to do to prove our faith…not something to become.  The flesh—that which satisfies our desires — counts for nothing for eternity. It doesn’t last and it even disappoints in this life.  The spirit—that which satisfies God-lasts for all eternity and satisfies in this life…
Are you Hungry for Convenience or Commitment? (v.64-70)

"But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.  John 6:64

When commitment was brought up these people were no different than people today.  John 6:66-67 tells us that as a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"

Some of the disciples left Jesus because the requirements were too great.  The people wanted to have a relationship with Christ but on their terms. They wanted to give a little, but Jesus expected a lot.
Jesus does expect something in return but what He has to offer is worth far more than anything you will gain from trying to find satisfaction elsewhere.   

Scripture to Claim:
Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." John 6:68-69

Monday, August 26, 2013

What are you hungry for?

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.
John 6:51

How many people today are walking around the lake looking for something to satisfy their cravings?  How many have filled their houses with furnishings, garages with toys and social lives with activities seeking something that will last?  How many are seeking a church that only requires a 45 minute service where there is a preacher that tells funny stories and doesn’t meddle with happy music to strum their emotional guitars? 

In the passage above Jesus was telling them they had a spiritual hunger that was not going to be met with physical bread.  They needed food that lasts forever. And that food comes from Jesus Himself.
Are you hungry for His Provision or His Person?

Men still want the path to salvation to be in their hands.  Religion is often man’s attempt to coerce action from God instead of relinquishing control to God.  Jesus word was the simple truth, "This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent." John 6:29 Jesus asked for their belief in Him…”Work on that,” He said.  Spiritual growth takes work. It takes time and commitment. 
If they were to believe, they still wanted their money’s worth.  They wanted a sign.

So they said to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness;  as it is written, 'HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'" Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
John 6:30-33

Jesus recounts the way God provided for Israel in the wilderness. In the same way, God sent Jesus the true bread from heaven, who gives life to the world.  John 6:34-36 tells us Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.”

The Jews saw the bread of life standing right before them, but they didn’t believe.  That same bread of life is standing before you now.  Will you have the faith to believe?  Accept the sustenance that provides eternal life.

Scripture to Claim:
Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." John 6:26-27 

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