God gave us the gift of friendship. But not everybody uses friendship the way God intended it to be used. In this sermon, we are going to discuss friendships and look into it a little more deeply.
This afternoon I'd like us to take a journey together and examine something that everyone has in their possession, you men, you women, you all have this in your possession, but not everyone uses it as it was intended to be used. It's a gift that God has given to all of us, and it's something that you can give to others, adding tremendous joy, fulfillment to their lives. What is that gift? That gift happens to be the gift of friendship - the gift of friendship. That's the title of the sermon: The gift of Friendship. Something that everyone craves, because life is pretty empty when you don't have friends. As human beings, we want to have companionship, we want to interface…women need girl friends to interface with some new girl talk, and guys need guys, you know, as they say, "it's a guy thing" or "it's a girl thing." And we just need those opportunities to interface. And then there are certainly some very wonderful Scriptural admonitions showing that the gift of friendship is not just on the physical level.
The Bible has a lot to say because our mission, believe it or not, most people don't realize this, your mission in many senses of the word, is to become a friend of God. Because right now we are undeclared enemies unless we have come to repentance, unless we have sought God, unless we make that relationship a priority, number one, to be like Jesus Christ. Because if God the Father does not see Christ in us, then what does He see in us? He sees carnality, He sees selfishness, self-centeredness…He sees all the traits that we as human beings all exhibit, and in the area of friendship, we discover an awful lot is revealed in the Bible, because again, Romans 15 and Verse 4, everything that is written is for our learning. We're here as men and women, young and old, to learn how to live the way God would have us live, in righteousness, by His commandments. That's what defines righteousness.
And I Corinthians 13 gives one an exhibition, shows you how to show that love. Well, in this case, friendship plays a very important part. You know when children go to school, they start out, that's always a big deal, going to school. It's a little scary, because they don't know exactly what they're going to face. But soon as they connect with one or two of their peers, that automatically…school becomes exciting. Why? Because now they've got a friend. If they feel like they're isolated and by themselves, they feel uncomfortable: "I don't know if I want to be here." But once they find their friend, they are excited because they get to share things with their friend.
Well, that's what God intended when He gave us the gift of friendship. But not everybody uses friendship the way God intended it to be used. We're going to discuss that and look into it a little more deeply. The word friend is found ninety times in Scripture, and it's quite interesting, in both old and new testament, the Bible primarily uses two words, one Greek and one Hebrew, which translates in the English to friend. Now, one of them translates that that friendship is that you become a companion, or a comrade, working side by side. The other carries an overtone of affection - that this is a relationship you have an affection, a strong feeling for this other individual. Now, we have some examples given to us in the Bible to show us this very thing.
One key of one that jumps out is in II Samuel 15, Verse 37 (II Samuel, Chapter 15 and Verse 37). Alright, beginning in Chapter 15 and going down to Verse 37. What we have here is the story and the account of a man called David and Jonathan - David and Jonathan. And David and Jonathan were very close individuals. What they did, they had a relationship that unfortunately today many people try to distort, and try to say the relationship was something that individuals do today that is not acceptable from a Biblical standard, but it was not…this was true Biblical friendship of the deepest kind. Jonathan who was the son of Saul, very much appreciated that relationship with David. And David loved Jonathan, and they just had a wonderful time together. And later on, we have two ladies that can come into play.
Now we're going to see here in II Samuel another relationship here in just a moment, but what we're going to talk about here is Ruth and Naomi. They had a very special relationship. Now Naomi, remember, was the mother of a certain individual, a son who was killed over in a hostile foreign country. And once she came back to her country (she was going to leave and go back to her home country of Israel), and what ended up happening is that Ruth lost her husband, and so when Ruth came then with the fact that she was now a widow, she chose to stay with Naomi, and she made a profession that was very outstanding, and allowed her, from a pagan background of belief and understanding as she grew up, and she translated all that, and repented of that and came under the tent, the covenant of Israel, where she made the famous statement: "I'll go where you go and my God will be your God - your God is my God." In other words she renounced the past and then became a "grafted in" to the very lineage of what became the lineage of Jesus Christ. So she was involved in all that.
Now in II Samuel, Chapter 15, Verse 37, we have another situation. There was a problem that erupted in King David's life where Absalom, his son, wanted to cause a split, as you would look at this, and try to cease the kingdom. And what happened in this power struggle, as you read back there in those chapters, is that there was a man called Ahithophel. Now, Ahithophel had phenomenal gift of discernment and counsel, and when his counsel was given, it was like, they'd say, it was almost like the counsel of God, because he was so outstanding. Now he was David's counselor for the longest time. But when this rift came and once things began to fall apart, and David then was now being pushed away, and Absalom was going to seize the kingdom (power struggle), so Ahithophel - he did what? He saw, well the shift is coming, so he threw his allegiance over here to Absalom. And his counsel was very powerful, in telling, well this is what you need to do, and this is what will get David out of the way etc.
Well, David had a counselor too - his name was Hushai. In Verse 37 it says here:
II Samuel 15:37 So Hushai, (notice) David's friend – David's friend – came into the city. And Absalom cane into Jerusalem.
Now, the mission was, that Hushai was to go and to throw out a different type of counsel to Absalom. And the purpose of it was, is to throw a curve into Ahithophel's counsel. Instead of listening there, Absalom now was getting conflicting counsel, and it was designed to throw Absalom a curve, and Ahithophel as well. And so, Hushai was a faithful friend of David, and went in on that mission, and it's an interesting and intriguing story. We won't go into it anymore other than to say, it's one that you can study if you've never read it, and you'll see how his friendship and loyalty to David was very supreme, and he became a very close confidant of David.
Now, in looking at the Scriptures, we find a lot of information given to us in the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a wonderful book of wisdom. I think most of us are familiar with it, in the broad general overview. If you haven't studied it, I'll suggest that it makes a wonderful Bible Study, on a day-to-day basis. Like whatever today is, let's say it is the sixth through the seventh - whatever might be. What you do then, you go to that Chapter in the Book of Proverbs and you study that Chapter completely: think about it, meditate on it, and ingest that wisdom into your thoughts, and every month that goes by, do it again. And keep repeating it, and repeating the Chapters - Chapter one, Chapter two - that means day one, day two. You get your Bible Study in on that way, you meditate on that, and you grow in the wisdom of God's Scriptures. Remember, this was God providing outstanding wisdom that is preserved in Scripture for our learning. You and I need it, so that we might understand certain situations, and how to deal with.
Let's take a look – our subject is the subject of friendship. And our friendship number one begins with God. If we don't have friendship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, we're in trouble. Because our friendships are just on a physical level and they won't go anywhere. What God intended results to first of all, come to understand His love and His desire for each of us to become His friend. We know about the situation with Abraham, who was referred to as a friend of God. Now that's quite a wonderful thing to have placed upon you, to have your name, and then God says: so and so, he or she, is My friend! And I think that's something all of us would love to hear God say: "You're my friend." Now we certainly don't want God to say, "Get out of here. You're My enemy – I want no part of you." And God has some things to say about enemies, too.
But in Proverbs 18, Verse 24 – Let's go to the Book of Proverbs and do some study here. Proverbs 18, Verse 24, and notice what we are told here. It says:
Proverbs 18:24 Proverbs 18:24A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
American King James Version× A man (as well as a woman) that has friends – if you want to have friends – notice –must – must show oneself – him or herself – friendly,
It's so easy – and we overlook some of these things – but you know, the body language does transmit an awful lot. And if a person wants to have a friendship with somebody else, you know what you do? Just smile! You don't frown, you know: "Hey, I want you to be my friend." You know, someone might… "I don't want to be yours!" You know. "If that's the way you're going to be." But if you smile, that makes all the difference in the world , because even God talks and uses terms like: "May the face of the Lord smile, or shine upon you." When it says shine upon you, it means He's smiling. And that's exactly what God wants to do. He wants to smile and shine upon us, and it means here very plainly that you've got to be outgoing and reach out with a friendly approach if you want friends.
If you carry kind of a stand-offish, kind of a sour-puss look on your face, it doesn't invite friendship. People will look for somebody else who will have a smile on their face, because they want to have a positive, upbeat arrangement. Life is negative enough, and you and I are called to be the saints of God to demonstrate how Jesus Christ Himself was – He was a very positive, very uplifting individual. There were times when Jesus let it show, boy, when He got hot-under-the-collar, and we may reference that later on, but right now, in order to have friends you've got to show yourself friendly.
Let's move on to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4 and Verse 9 (Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4 and Verse 9). Here we're reminded of something that is a cardinal rule of life. It says:
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Ecclesiastes 4:9Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
American King James Version× Two are better than one, (it says) because they have a good reward for their labor.
In other words, team-work produces much better results. If you had to do everything yourself, and you couldn't call on somebody else to give you a helping hand, on a particular job, or whatever it is, (you fill in the missing blank), it's a lot harder when it's all on your shoulders alone. But when somebody else comes in and says, "I'll give you a hand", and you get the job done a lot quicker. Now, sometimes you may get too many hands in the pot, and that's not good! So, you know, you've got to know what it is that you're dealing with, and how to proceed.
From the very beginning we're told in the Bible, after Adam was created, God in His wisdom said: "You know, He's not going to make it by himself; he needs a helpmate. I'm going to create woman, so that woman-kind will be there to help and assist, and they will be co-heirs together, and hopefully they will all be My sons and daughters, with an everlasting friendship." Because that's what God wanted from the beginning - He wants a family that will be friends with one another - brothers and sisters who will work together to accomplish God's will and purpose.
Marriage is the outstanding example of this very principle right here: "Two are better than one." When two come together, and they work together in harmony, the husband and the wife communicate; one of the biggest things they say in marriage counseling is: communication. If you can't talk to your mate, how in the world can you call him/or her, your friend? Marriage shows that you must be friends first, then develop into something far greater, a deep meaningful relationship that lasts for your physical lifetime. So that is a marvelous Scripture that God gives us, and shows again, that the results are much more productive - you're talking the subject of finance - it's a very, very serious subject in this day and age - you don't want a man trying to save money; the woman trying to spend it all. Neither do you want a woman trying to save the money and the man spending it all. It goes both ways. Each has a responsibility. A lot of marriages absolutely collapse over the issue of finance, because they will not talk. They will not say: "Well, what is our goal? What do we want to accomplish here." And if they work together, and share their opinions and ideas, they have a good reward, because they've got the goal in sight and then they work toward that goal. And they're doing it in a friendship relationship, as husband and wife.
Alright, we move along to another important Scripture, Proverbs 17 - Proverbs 17 and Verse 17. You know, life comes up and deals a lot of different situations in a person's human experience, and in Verse 17 it says:
Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
American King James Version× A friend loves at all times, - in other words, they really (if this is a real friend) - they love you; they're not just going to cast you to the wind, and dump you, once they either hear things about you, or whatever, - they know you - you're a friend. And because they know, they're not going to write you off just because somebody says something. And if somebody says something, it better be done in the lives of two or three witnesses, according to the Bible, or you don't believe it. No matter how much they say about anything about you, or some individual, you follow the Scriptural admonition. But he goes on to say: This friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
It's wonderful to have true friends, male or female friends, that you can count on when you run into some serious problems or difficulties. And today, life is filled with a lot of problems and difficulties. How many people can you really sit down and talk openly, as a friend? You almost can count them on your hand. You have a lot of friends in general, but you don't have people that you can sit down and really open your heart out, and know that they are not going to judge you wrongfully, they're going to hear you out, and they're not going to think less of you just because you ran into this problem, or this difficulty.
You're going to do just exactly like Jesus did. You're going to…if somebody has a problem, it says, as Scripture admonishes, that if you run into somebody who's having a problem, a brother or sister, you entreat them gently, and kindly. You don't just say: "Hey, you've got a problem." You know, if somebody hits you like that - Oh… you're going into "friends mechanisms", you know; you don't hear a thing. But if you're a long-time friend, you say, "Well, you know, I have known you for a long time, and I really need to talk to you about something, because I believe there's a serious problem here that could create a lot of difficulties for you." You know, when it's approached that way, in a friendly, gentle manner, it's amazing - the results are so different.
But, nobody likes correction - that's the human side of this equation. And so, that's why you've got to be extremely careful when correction comes, but then if you don't like corrections, "Well, I'm not going to be corrected", then you know God has a very unpleasant name for you? He calls you an illegitimate something! Simply because He says: He will correct wherever correction is needed. And if He does that, He does it because He loves you. It says, why do parents do what they do with their children? When they see a child going in the wrong direction they say: "Son, stop that - you can't do that." "Daughter, stop it right now." You correct them then, but you don't come down on them and just say, "Now for that you can go to your room for two weeks." You know, that's not going to solve a problem; a child grows up hostile with that type of attitude. You correct the problem and then you do what, you put your arms around them and say, "Now come here - let daddy, or let mommy love you." You kiss on them, make them feel good. It's all important. And did we all do that right when we were in the process of being parents, rearing our children? None of us did! All of us have made our mistakes. Everyone of us have had to learn; that's why life is an "up like a yo-yo - down like a yo-yo" - up we go; down we go. You know, we have to learn these things. And the quicker we learn them, there's less discomfort, there's less pain, there's less problems.
That's why God says: "Obey My voice, that is may be well with you." Because He's never going to tell us something that's wrong. You can't find one Scripture in the Bible where God says, do this because I want you to be miserable for the rest of your life. It's not there. It's always, do this that you and your children might be blessed forever. It's always there - God's well-being is always for our…He just wants to see up happy, folks! And He wants to be friends to us. He doesn't want us to look at Him as "way off there somewhere…Oh He's that…He's that great God up there." Sure He's the God of power; He's the God of everything. Jesus Christ is the manifestation of that great God, walking on the earth, showing us His love for us, because God loved this world so much He wanted to preserve it and refashion it with the sons and daughters of God - the whole creation is groaning, waiting for our day of deliverance. And it's going to be a wonderful day when that time comes. That's why the Holy Days are given to us to help us be remindful of that.
So, in Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
American King James Version×, it's wonderful and you should be very thankful when you have a person who comes to your aid in a time of trouble. As we move on now, let's go to Proverbs 25 - Proverbs 25 and Verse 19 (Proverbs 25 and Verse 19). Now, I'm sure this has happened from time to time in the lives of all of us - there are people that we had confidence in, and it says:
Proverbs 25:19 Proverbs 25:19Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
American King James Version× Confidence in an unfaithful individual, an unfaithful man or a woman, in a time of trouble - when you really need their help, and do what? It's like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.
Now, if you've had a tooth that's ever been broken, or rammed your foot out of joint - that's painful - that's painful! And it's not something you look forward to. But it says here: Confidence in an unfaithful individual. You and I have been called to be faithful individuals. God does not want us to be unfaithful, to Him - that, again, if we are unfaithful to Him, what is that? That's spiritual adultery. The commandments make that very clear. What we're talking about on this subject of friendship goes much deeper than just physical friendship. It's our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and then one another, and then every other human being that we interface with. The love of the brethren, spoken of in Scripture, is a love that is based on friendship. It would be terrible if half of the congregation sat on this side, and if we did a little kind of a thing here: If we're in the kingdom of God, and on this side everybody said "Oh God, thank you for allowing us be in the kingdom. But that group over there we don't like." That wouldn't go down - not in God's kingdom! Or this side saying, "You know, that's wonderful God; it's everything You said it was, but why did you bring this group in?"
You see, God is doing what? The Son of God died for all mankind; God wants to save all people. But all people won't cooperate; all people won't humble themselves before the Mighty hand of God. They will forget that it's His plan; they're busy out there running around trying to do their thing. And they're having to learn the lesson the hard way. That's why the first fruits are given a better resurrection. It's called the resurrection of the first fruits, of the very small group of people that God has called out down through time, and brought us to this place, and knowing that we're now getting ready, getting ready to celebrate Holy Days that picture the rest of mankind. How many other people that we have known, that have been friends, nice individuals, friends, but have never understood the plan and purpose of God. They have to come up, and when they come up in their resurrection, what are they going to need? They're going to need a lot of friends, leading them, to help them and teach them the things of God. This is part of what the Scripture admonishes us.
Proverbs 25 - Proverbs 25 and Verse 19 - it says this confidence is not what you want in an unfaithful person. And we move to Chapter 22 - back a couple Chapters to Chapter 22, and Verse 24. Now people are always making friendships in life; we all do. And some of those friendships are very valuable. There are friendships though that you need to stay away from. Young people especially need to know this, because today what good is having a friend that deals in drugs? What good is a friend that takes you and wants you to join a gang that causes grief and sorrow and upheaval in a local community? We read about it every day in the newspapers - we hear it on the news. And loyalty to gangs and things of this nature - those people are not your friends. It says here:
Proverbs 22:24 Proverbs 22:24Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you shall not go:
American King James Version× Make no friendship with an angry man, - (there are a lot of angry people out there in this world today) - It says: And with a furious man you shall not go, and that means a man given to rage. Somebody whose rage…we hear about road rage, and things of this nature. People are just so quick to do things, and it's not the right things that they're doing.
Verse 25: Lest you learn his ways and they give a snare to your soul.
See, when you are exposed to the wrong type of influence, it can rub off. So you and I are told to stay away from certain things that could rub off and cause bad consequences in your life. We're told to stay in the certain area where the blessings are; that's where God's instruction is so vital. These angry people are going to get even more dangerous in the years to come, and we're all going to need God's protection, as result of praying and asking for His help.
In Proverbs, Chapter 16 - Proverbs, Chapter 16 and Verse 28 - It says :
Proverbs 16:28 Proverbs 16:28A fraudulent man sows strife: and a whisperer separates chief friends.
American King James Version× An individual, a forward man, - or this, as we would say, an "in your face" type of person, a hostile person who is kind of "arrrrrr", just ready to stir up a hornet's nest - who sows strife, or a whisperer, who separates chief friends.
That's something that nobody wants to be guilty of: Whispering; telling stories about other people. There's so much of that going on today in our world, and it is a serious thing, because God says it separates chief friends. And that you don't want. Friendship is such a wonderful thing, as God has ordained it, and He doesn't take fancy to people who would separate chief friends by whispering: "Hey, did you know about so and so - what he or she did?" That doesn't go down well. And God says everything is going to be accountable, all words are accountable, and it certainly reminds us that God is in heaven, you are on earth - may our words be few. And when we speak, may they be God's words, and not a lot of foolishness from our own human perspective.
A true friend will tell you when things are not right (we mentioned that a little bit earlier) - Proverbs 27 and Verse 6 talks about that - Proverbs 27 and Verse 6, it says:
Proverbs 27:6 Proverbs 27:6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
American King James Version× Faithful are the wounds (notice - wounds: it hurts) but it's - faithful are the wounds of a friend,
Because a friend is telling you something that you might not want to hear, but because he is your friend, he tells you that out of love, not out of trying to hurt you. That's what God is doing; that's what the Bible is written for, its correction for all of us. Because God loves us and He gives us as His friendship hand - you know, you have to extend the hand of friendship. In my mind I see God reaching down with the Bible and giving us His hand of friendship, and telling us, what? Here's the answers to what you need. And if you reach out and take His hand, by reaching into the Bible, you then begin to glean the mind of God, and that's what it's all about. We're told by the Apostle Paul, "Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus." And you have to ask for it; it's not just going to come to you. It's not just going to be there - you have to ask for it. But faithful are the wounds of a friend but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Now, God does not like flattery; He does not like seeing individuals, as we say, we use that term today (Oh so-and-so's "kissing up"). We use that very thing - we know that that means they're up to no good. And God does not want us to be involved in any type of relationship with that. He wants us to be able to speak the truth in love, and sometimes correction is necessary for all of us. Nobody is exempt, and God is the One who lovingly corrects us. Even Jeremiah, you know, he says "Lord, do what you have to do, but do it mercifully, lest You bring me to nothing." Very important that we realize that - God can just bring us to nothing, just like that. We have nothing really to stand on, except the word of God; that's the precious gift that we have been given. And the more we stand on it the better off we are.
Genuine friends…and this is something that I think is really true in our day and age…genuine friends. If you have genuine friends that you're close to, that you can talk about anything, and you just feel comfortable, and know that nobody's throwing stones at you, because we all know we're all guilty. Anybody who's without sin can cast the first stone, and there's nobody that is capable of doing that except God Himself, and God doesn't throw stones. He brings us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But, one of the characteristics that we have to recognize, that when you have genuine friendships…oh now, let's bump this up again to the higher level, to God Himself. When you have a genuine relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, you don't want to let anything destroy that relationship. You want to stay on the…if we can use the term, on "God's good side", because you don't want to get on His bad side! There's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Just because we believe in God, that doesn't mean we're home free…remember, that Satan and the demons believe, and they tremble. Because they know exactly the power that they have interfaced with, and they lost - they lost big time! And the Scriptures bear that out. But when we have genuine friendships, what you want to do is, you want to cherish those relationships. That means it's very important to stay close and not to allow those relationships to be forgotten.
You read in Scriptures in Jeremiah, I believe it is, where God says through Jeremiah, the prophet, He says: "My people have forgotten Me days without number." It means they haven't prayed; they haven't kept the line of communication open. Faithful friends are hard to find. Proverbs 27, and Verse 10 (Proverbs 27, and Verse 10). It says:
Proverbs 27:10 Proverbs 27:10Your own friend, and your father's friend, forsake not; neither go into your brother's house in the day of your calamity: for better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.
American King James Version× Your own friend and your father's friend forsake not. Neither go you into your brother's house in the day of calamity, for better is the neighbor that is nearer than a brother far off.
So, here you have, again, relationships…you have a friendship with the neighbor. You have friendship with family members. But look at how many families can't even get along with one another; they have obstacles. There's no friendship. I know of one individual…she's not a member of the church of God, but she could not learn to control her mouth, and what she did, she alienated the relationship between her, son, and daughter-in-law, and her only grandson was no longer able to come and see grandma. She did it to herself, because she couldn't control…and she hurt that friendship and that relationship within her family. So things can be said, actions can be done…it happens in every day world conditions. Friendships are usually built on some form of exchange - some form of exchange. Now what that translates to, is that everyone of us have different talents, different abilities, things that we bring in our own life, and we can share those things with other individuals.
For example, it's nice to have a friend who is given to humor - someone who knows how to make you laugh. A lot of times you'll hear that of relationships, and they'll say: "You know, what do you like about him?" And the woman will say, "Well, he makes me laugh! It's what's he's got…he makes me laugh!" She likes someone who makes her laugh, and it happens. And so individuals, and it could be just the reverse…you know, the man makes the girl laugh; the girl makes the man laugh! It's whoever has the humor.
What about care? Some people in relationships, and especially in friendships, bring the friendship of care and attention. We call them "care-givers". And they're very wonderful…it's wonderful when you have problems or difficulties you're struggling with, that someone will take the time and care for you, to help you through that problem or difficulty. And so not everybody has that gift. Now, God has it. He said He took Israel, in the Old Testament, in the Book of Ezekiel…He says, "I nursed her like a nursing mother." Showing just, again, usually the mother and a child, that caring attention that a mother gives to a child when the child is small.
Well, the same thing holds true of other skills and opportunities, for example, what skill do you bring? People have certain skills. If you have a friend who is a computer guru…that's a nice friend to have when you've got a computer that says, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh! The thing is, why is it doing that? I don't know! I hit the wrong thing! We're scared, because we don't know. But your computer friend comes in, "Oh, you just do this…" and it's all taken care of! They make it look so easy, because it's their gift. And then, it's nice to have a friend like that who can help you. Or, let's say your car gives you a little bit of trouble, and you have a friend you can call real quick and say, "Hey, do you know my car's acting up…what's causing that?" "Oh, let me come over and take a look." And he's your friend; he's a mechanic. He knows about cars. Not everybody knows about cars. That's why you have to take your car to a car dealership…let them work on it, because we do not all work on cars.
So, again, skills are different, and you can put in the missing blank…all kinds of skills and friendships. How about a lady friend, comes over to the house, and she has the latest recipe that…whoo-ee! I've just got to have your recipe! Why? Because she's a good cook…she's got a skill that is outstanding. And you want to replicate that skill in your kitchen, as a woman. So all women enjoy sharing recipes, do they not? Because everyone has there…someone has a cake recipe; someone has a pie recipe; someone has a bisque recipe, but they're not all the same. I marvel at women, how they can take those basic ingredients that God has created, get in that kitchen and do their thing, and turn out such marvelous things that we enjoy and eat! It doesn't mean men can't do that either, because we have chef s that are outstanding chefs, cooking. But women usually relate to that much quicker.
Alright, what about, fun? You bring to the table, fun! You know how to make things funny! And bring happiness and joy. What do teenagers like to do? Do they like to get together, and what is the one thing that all teenagers like to do when they get together? Have fun! That's what they want to do. They don't go to Six Flags because they say, "I want to be miserable." "I want to go to Six Flags Over Georgia", (or Texas, or wherever it might be), "and I want to go on the roller coaster….Whewwww."…and they scream and they yell and they have fun! Now, as you get older, you scream quite differently - you don't want to go on those things! You want to stay away, because again…I call, sometimes life is addition and subtraction! When you're in your earlier years, your adding - you're practicing addition. As you get older, you begin to learn subtraction - things begin to start to disappear. And so, again, it's a give and take proposition.
What do we bring? What… some people are gifted with the sense of adventure. They have the ability: "Hey, why don't we go camping?" And they can do things of this nature - "Camping? I've never camped before." "Well, come on. I'll show you how." And you have to learn how. And when you learn things, it's exciting. And everyone has these…and how is that done? When you have friends that you can do it with. Fishing is terrible, I guarantee, sitting in a boat all day waiting for that stupid fish to jump on a hook so you can bring it in, and you say: "I'm having fun!" You're not having fun! You're absolutely miserable! But I'll tell you what, when you're in that boat, and you've got somebody else with you, and they're doing their thing and you're doing your thing, and all of a sudden…bam! A fish hits this one…bam…fish hits…Oh wow, this is fun! Why? Because God made those fish so that you could have fun. But He also gave those fish brains…fish brains, and it keeps them moving around, and challenges you, and you have to learn patience, to wait for that fish….. "I'll get him yet! I'll get him, sooner or later."
You see how all this is? It's a giving exchange - everything is much more enjoyable in living life when we are in an atmosphere of friendship. I just…I sometimes just meditate on this, and I think it's going to be an absolutely delirious time, you know. God says, in My right hand there are pleasures for evermore. He's going to throw pleasures at us like you wouldn't believe…it's going to blow our mind. But that's only for those that love God, and keep His commandments, and hunger and thirst for His righteousness. He's not going to give it to those that spit all over His way of life, hate His ways, treat them with disrespect. They might get away with it for now, but the Day of the Lord is approaching. And the day of recompense is coming, and it may be sooner than we think, because it may be later than we think. And it's coming fast. Look at the world around you: earthquakes, fires, disasters, floods, wars…all the things Jesus talked about, which were the birth pangs, telling us it's getting close. So, we have to be mindful of this.
Alright, let's take a look and remember this: What do you have? Ask your self, what do you have, as an individual, that you have to offer in friendship? What do you have to offer in friendship? What do we offer God? God says there's only one thing we can offer Him: We have to love Him with all our mind, all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, our whole being…we have to recognize we are sojourners, we're on this earth by the gracious hand of God, we live, move and have being because of Him, and God says: Our future is in His hands. And young and old, have nothing to worry about, as long as we look to God and trust Him, and recognize He is the One who is bringing this plan and salvation to purpose, and brings it all the way it needs to be.
If we try to do it, and think we're going to solve our problems, have you noticed how the world seems to be getting into more problems? They can't seem to solve their problems; it's getting worse. Because selfishness and greed and all the other things that the Bible warns us about, is running rampant. Even Moses said about Israel, he says, "I know that when I'm gone, that in the latter days", he says, "You will utterly corrupt yourselves." He didn't say corrupt - he said utterly corrupt. "You're really going to take and push the envelope way beyond me." So, we see that happening in our day and age today.
But as we draw to the conclusion of this message, and what I want you to understand today, is that the spiritual friendship that we have with God the Father and Jesus Christ, is paramount, because our friendships as human beings mean nothing if it is not based on our loving friendship first, with God. He told us that. He said…when the guy asked him, he said: "Lord, what's the great commandment?" He says, "Love God first and foremost with all your mind, heart and soul; and then the second is like that: love your fellowman." Why? Because we're all in the same boat - we're all given the same opportunity. God has placed us here. God is the One who is in control. What is He doing? People say, "Well, why does God allow this…why does God allow that?" Because it's our time to make mistakes. He'll let mankind make enough mistakes till mankind is just on the brink of ruining everything, and then God will step in and say, "Hmm, guess what? You nearly did it folks!" And mankind will be forced to recognize that if God had not stepped in and saved us, we would all be gone - there'd be no future for anyone.
If you ever take a look on YouTube and see…someone sent me a YouTube presentation put out by the Chinese Military, and it shows what the Chinese are presently doing, and it shows them all marching with their AK- 47's and their bayonets…women all dressed in red, and bearing…. all with their guns and everything like that…it is scary, folks. It is a scary video. I would never want to have to go up against that - a two-hundred-million-man army…the Bible talks about? There's only one place on earth that can bring that kind of army together, and when you start seeing what they can do, it's really frightening. And then, thank God that there's a God who's going to cancel all that out and save mankind from the terrible wars of the future.
Now, let's take a look at James, Chapter 2 - James, Chapter 2, and notice Verse 23 - a wonderful testimony given to a man who was called the father of the faithful. It says:
James 2:23 James 2:23And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
American King James Version× And the scripture was fulfilled which said, "Abraham believed God, - that's what you and I must do; we must believe God…it says: and it was imputed unto him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.
That is a wonderful statement for Abraham to have placed upon him. We know, that as individuals, you don't want to be on the wrong side of God. James, Chapter 4 - James, Chapter 4, and Verse 4. He says:
James 4:4 James 4:4You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
American King James Version× You adulterers and adulteresses!
Human beings that are guilty of adultery. And, what is this adultery He's talking about? Not necessarily just sexual itself…there's a lot of sexual adultery going on in this world today. But mankind adulterates everything - he adulterates various things, products, cheapens it down - doesn't give you the quality that it should be. Even in the lousy drug trade, what do they do? They cut the cocaine; they adulterate it and put baby powder or something else in there; they mix it up, trying to make more money.
But what you have here, God is saying: The relationship in this life, if we are friends, as it says, do you know not that friendship of the world is enmity with God? It's hostility. You can't have a relationship with this world when you've been called out of this world, called to be a son and daughter of God, by the power of God's Spirit, so that you can do what? So that you can have an opportunity to be part of that first great calling and the first fruits of God's salvation, and harvesting of human kind.
He goes on to say that: Whosoever would be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. The enemy of God - that's something none of us want to be, because again, our God is a consuming fire, and you can't stand against anything like that. No power can stand against the power of God. And so, you and I are told, in this concept, understanding this, it says:
Verse 5: Do you not realize that the Scripture doesn't speak in vain, here, that "The Spirit who dwells in us lusts to envy" ?
The human spirit in man is always lusting and desiring, wanting to get. God is telling us we have to fight that inclination, that we have to realize that this is a serious warning. You know, Jesus Christ is pictured so often as such a mild-mannered individual. And basically speaking, He was a hard-working, rugged individual as he grew up into His manhood - He was a carpenter's son. And if you studied that, you realized, He did some heavy lifting: stones and bricks and things. So He was muscular; He wasn't a "pansy" out there in the field. He was an individual who was strong, but very kind, very straight forward in His talk, but then there were times when He ran into some individuals that were very much going the wrong way, and He wouldn't pull any punches. He says,"You hypocrites…you say this, you say that…you don't call the right thing…just call the water once."
And then on one occasion, He entered into the temple of God…and you remember what He did there? He walks up and He created quite a ruckus! This mild mannered Jesus Christ walks up and He just literally grabs these tables and flings them, and all of a sudden, they go flying…money everywhere…birds go flying…everything, because you know, they're buying and selling birds for the sacrifices and the systems in the temple. And then He makes the statement, He says: "You have made My Father's house a den of thieves." And it was meant to be a house of prayer. Now, think about that for a moment. What do you think was on the face of Jesus when He was looking around…did those people see a nice big smile on Jesus? Or did they see anger in His face - righteous anger? And that is something none of us ever want to face…you never want to face the righteous anger of God. That's why we're told and we're admonished, "walk humbly before the mighty hand of God, that we might always find favor in His sight."
God is not One who wants to, as we say, have to pull out the big stick. But, if He has to, He'll do it. You and I as human beings are learning that God has created us and given us some very simple tasks, but it's hard in many ways, because of carnality. The simple task is this: Love one another; be friends with one another. That's hard. People are very selective, and in some cases we have to be selective, like it says, you stay away from the angry people; stay away from people that are, you know, not living right. But on the other side of the coin, people pick and choose their friends and then they do what? They avoid others. We don't want to avoid.
It says, "The love of the brethren is going to be one of the identifying keys of God's people in the end time." All of us have got to learn that lesson, to be there for one another, because times are going to get hard, and those of us who are in a position to help, maybe someone is not in a best position…we've got to be there for them. It's going to test all of our metal before it's all said and done. All you have to do is see the world around us, and you realize it's going down with the flames very quickly. We're not living in a happy world…the Bible even condemns it. It says: "We live in this present wicked world." Because we're sojourners; we're individuals who've been called out. We have to live in the world, but we're not of the world. So, what is the gift of friendship? Well, it's an opportunity, that when we have individuals who first come to the knowledge of the truth, and then they meet you…how is Jesus Christ represented by your example? What do they see? Do they see friendship? Do they see genuine concern? Do they see humor? Do they see, "How can I help you?" Do they see in other words: "What do you bring into that relationship, so that you can all share the joys of it." It's very important, brethren, that we stop and realize, we don't think enough of this, about our relationship with God and Jesus Christ and our friendship that is required. You know, you don't want to put God way off; you don't put friends way off. You embrace friends. You draw close to them.
God says, you know, Seek Me, and I'll be found. But if you get Me, you're going to have to give Me all your heart; you can't give Me just bits and pieces and expect Me to be there for you. I've got to know you're there for Me - because I'm there for you, if you're there for Me. And so, this is a very serious topic in one way; a light topic in another way; but a needful topic for all of us to consider, because you need them, I need them; we all need friends! Life is very lonely without friends, and God knew that and He wants to have an absolute family that is going to be a rip-roaring family, that is going to be with Him for all eternity. He wants to see His sons and daughters have times when they're going to play in eternity with Jesus and the angels, and we're going to do things, and we're going to have work to do, and God is going to keep us…I sit there and meditate sometimes, I said: "What in the world is God going to do to keep us all busy for all eternity? That's a long time!" And the answer is: "Leave to Me, kids! I'll take care of you - this is dad talking!" God the Father is just what He is - He is the Master Creator and He will create if need, a new heaven and a new earth…He will create opportunities and blessings beyond our wildest dreams.
That's why Corinthians says: You haven't even begun; you can't understand what God has prepared for them that love Him. You only see a part of it, because God has given you a portion of His Holy Spirit. And it whets your appetite and excites you. And Paul was very excited about that, and he talked about that in the Book of Corinthians. He just wanted to make sure that it would be preserved so that we could get excited right along with him.
You know who your friends are? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego…all the others that you read about these stories: Ruth, Naomi, David…all these individuals we're going to meet one day. And we're going to understand more about that as we approach the Holy Day season. Let's pray that God will give us, not just a general Holy Day Feast, that He'll really pour out His Holy Spirit and give us what we absolutely need to be prepared for what is coming. Because the clouds are on the horizon, brethren. It's going to be a dark day before the dawn of the beautiful days that we all hunger and thirst for.
May God be with us. Remember, God is our friend…the question is, are we His? May God help us all to be friends of our God and our Creator, and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And then next, our installment with one another, because, how can you say you love God and be His friend, whom you haven't seen, and here you are, looking at human beings made in God's image, and you can't be friends with them? It's a challenge - it's a test for each and everyone of us. God help us all.