Acts Series #45
Back to the Beginning
When Church was Church
A Real Friend
As you know, we've been following the development of the early church. We've been following Paul as his desire to go to Rome is fulfilled by the pathway of imprisonment, trial, an appeal to Caesar's court. He's spent a few years in Caesarea under the scrutiny of Governors Felix and Festus and King Agrippa.
So, they find a ship heading to Rome and here we pick up our story
Now this might seem a little strange topic for today. But as I first began to read this part of the story something little jumped out at me.
This is a big story and adventure. But there was something that we might miss and can't really afford to miss.
What would you have done in this part of the story if you knew Paul?
Well, we'd have put him on the prayer chain right? That's a good thing to do, and I'm glad that we have one.
Perhaps we'd have sent him letters or care packages while in prison in Caesarea.
We would have prayed that the Lord would get him free.
We would have prayed for a safe trip, for pleasant treatment by his soldiers.
Perhaps we would have seen him down to the Gangplank and then through tears and prayers, we would send him on, shaking our heads at the shame of it all, we would turn and go back to our normal lives.
Isn't that what friends do?
Well perhaps some do, but there are deeper friends. There are some radical friends in these verses.
Luke, and Aristarchus prayed for Paul, the encouraged Paul, they went with him down to the gangplank, but they GOT ON THE SHIP!
To be a church like Heaven, we need some people who are willing to GET ON THE SHIP!
People that will go deeper than surface relationships that never get down to really meet one another's needs.
1. 4 Acts of Friendship in these verses
A. Luke - Paul's friend, companion, historian, physician - imprisoned by employment and by friendship
B. Aristarchus - a native of Thessalonica, traveled with Paul to Ephesus, to Jerusalem and now on to Rome on this prison ship. In Ephesus he and Gaius were seized by a Mob. Paul called him a "fellow prisoner" in Col 4:10 … but he was not arrested he was a prisoner by choice, a prison because of friendship - a friend connected by the deliverance of the gospel. Paul and most likely led him to Christ and he felt indebted to Christ through Paul
C. Believers at Sidon -
1. cared for his needs -
2. a friend on the spot, when needed -
3. A need comes up that we weren't expecting. Someone drops on our doorstep, what do we do.
4. The church at Sidon couldn't possibly have known that Paul was coming, but when they found out, they put everything on hold and
D. Julius -
1. Now, I am not saying that Julius was a Christian, because we don't know that.
2. However, Julius was a friend out of the natural course,
3. a friend to the level the circumstances allowed.
A Church Full of Real Friends wow, what would that be like? A fellowship of 150-200 Real Friends … what would THAT be like? Heaven?
Gomer Pyle - "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, the other is gold."
Well I wanted a little better answers to what a friend is … so …
I emailed some of the people in my life, from different walks of life and different places and asked them to fill in the blank … A Real Friend …
I got a some replies back
"A real friend for me can be summed with a few words …
Shared Life … a well worn glove, a loving long time pet, the feel of a book thickened by its well turned pages
Comfortable … silence is accepted as the space for presence
Believable … no flattery, genuine compliments with lots of specifics, when they believe in you … you can believe what comes out of them."
"A friend is someone who is an advocate for you, both spiritually and in everyday life. A friend always has your best interests at heart, even when delivering unpleasant information or disagreeing with you. Though you may argue, you know that you can count on this person for help anytime you need it."
David A. Mayhew
"I will give it some thought and write later. Are dads counted as friends?"
"They CAN be, but are not necessarily. Hence scripture says "there is one who sticks closer than a brother". Brothers, Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, etc. are family and thus close, but that doesn't mean that they are friends. You don't choose to be family but you choose to be a friend. Christ MADE us but he CHOSE to be our friend" - Jim
"I choose to also be a friend"
"A real friend: One who is a servant to you and in a sense a slave. They serve your interests and not their own and they see themselves as belonging to you and not you to them. Now that is my definition of a real friend, however I am not that kind of friend."
"A REAL FRIEND is…
·1 involved without being intrusive
·2 helpful but not heavy-handed
·3 empathetic without being an enabler
·4 truthful but not tactless."
A real friend is someone who candidly speaks freely to each other and who tells the other what they need to hear when they need to hear it without worrying about destroying the friendship. He/she have earned the privilege of being a real friend because of the bond of love and mutual respect that has developed and is exclusive. A real friend isn't necessarily somebody you see everyday or week, but a real friend has managed to be placed in our heart by He who knows what a real friend is. His name is Jesus, and He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. I am so glad that I lived long enough to establish me a few real friends.
Be Blessed and highly favored,"
Your real friend
"A real friend....doesn't say "if I can help, let me know". A real friend looks for ways to help during the tough times and simply does it. Jesus didn't wait for the woman at the well to spell out her needs....He already knew them.
A real friend is someone that can be counted on...whether they are needed at 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning.
A real friend is someone who can keep needs and concerns confidential, and not give in to the temptation to spread gossip."
"A true friend is someone who gently take you by the hand and never lets go. They squeeze during scary times, pat when you are sad, and raise hands together when victorious"
"A real friend...has no agenda but to be a friend.
A real friend... listens long and speaks straight.
A real friend... accepts the good with bad, past with present, and other friends with baggage.
A real friend... knows when to push and when to be patient.
A real friend... speaks and acts the same toward you when your present or absent.
A real friend... cares about the "whole person" but most about the soul or heart of the person."
Now, I am not disparaging my friends, but I find it interesting that I sent out about 19 emails to people who I consider close friends and I got 8 responses
Now, those who didn't respond, I still consider friends, and I know they consider me the same, however, I made a request that wasn't answered and sometimes what keeps us from being Friends is simply the failure to act
We don't have the time
We don't think it is important
We think someone else will do it
We think it won't matter
We don't know what to say or do
If we are going to be a church like the first church, we have got to develop real friendships
If we are going to be a church like Heaven I guarantee you that there are real deep friendships in Heaven
Well, let me just be real practical with you today. My hope today is to burn this in your heart today, the desire to seek out and be and allow REAL FRIENDSHIPS to Develop in and through your lives.
2.Why does the Church need Real Friendships?
Why should I be a friend and develop authentic friendships
A. Friendship is the Example of Christ
1. Ex. 33:11 - God always reveals himself to us friend to friend - "the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.
2. Abraham was God's Friend by faith Jam 2:23 the scripture was fulfilled that says "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend
3. Jesus had a special relationship of friendship with Lazarus - to the extent that he wept deeply when he died, even though he knew he would live again.
4. Jesus had a special friendship with John - he was referred to as the disciple that Jesus loved
5. Jesus had a special friendship with Peter and James as well as John … he revealed his biggest burdens, shared joys, gave revelation - he took them to mt. Of Trans. Took them deeper in the garden
6. Jesus has a special friendship with his disciples - Jn 15:14,15 you are my friends if you do what I command. 15 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
a. notice what a friend does
b. a friend is concerned with the wishes of the friend
c. a friend makes another his friend by CHOICE … "I have called you friends"
d. a friend reveals instead of conceals
7. Jesus was even a friend to Tax collectors and sinners Lk. 7:34
8. Jesus was our greatest friend as he laid down his life for us: John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
9. 1 John 3:16 this is how we know what love is, Jesus laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
10. Job 16:20-21 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend
a. Remember Romans 8:34 who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us
b. We have in Christ the greatest of friends and he doesn't watch from a distance he intercedes, he intervenes on our behalf.
c. The example of Christ is a friend who gets involved
11. IF Jesus needed friendships and if Jesus showed himself friendly toward us, how can we NOT do the same if we are his church, his disciples, his friends
B. Friendship is the Debt we owe each other
1. - 1 sam 18:1 love as you love yourself - become one in spirit - After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan become one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself … 3 and Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself 4 Jonathan took off his robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
2. - is deeper than mere physical relationships 2 Sam 1:26
3. - is deeper than family bonds 1 sam 19:1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him … "be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there."
4. - is one of covenant and promise 1 sam 20:16,17 - so Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the Lord call David's enemies to account." 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself -- covenants / promises give us a binding obligation that goes deeper than personal desires or preferences
5. Ps 119:60 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts
Our search for God makes us friends, more than our affinity for sports, or movies, or other similarities
6. A friend loves at all times and is born out of adversity Pr. 17:17 a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born out of adversity
7. Having a friend is MORE than just a companion - companions bring us down, but a true friend is closer than a brother Pr. 18:24 - A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. a Companion brings us down because they are really only interested in themselves but a friend is only interested in your best
8. A friend is willing to "hurt" us at times for our best Pr. 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses
9. A Friend picks us up when we fall he doesn't kick us while we are down Eccl. 4:10 if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken
The greatest of bonds is between two friends bound together around the Lord … a Cord of Three Strands
10. Rom. 13:8 let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law
C. Friendship is the Debt we owe the world
1. The world knows all about fair weather friends - Pr 19:4,6-7 wealth brings many friends, but a poor man's friend deserts him. 6 many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts 7 a poor man is shunned by all his relatives - how much more do his friends avoid him! Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.
2. Rom 13:9 the commandments, "do not commit adultery," "do not murder," "do not steal," "do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law
3. Remember they asked Jesus, "what is the greatest commandment" and Jesus said "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second is love your neighbor as yourself"
a. It is a responsibility for us just a step below our love for God to love our neighbor.
b. I believe that the point Jesus made was that we don't truly love God if we don't love our neighbor
D. Friendship is the Testimony to the World of the Love of Christ and the Friendship available to them
1. when we are true and genuine friends to one another it causes a longing in the soul of a lost world for the true love that is found through Christ alone.
2. our debt of obligation is to everyone that doesn't know Christ .. Rom. 1:14-17 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish 15 that is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rom. 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'the righteous will live by faith'
3. The purpose of unity in the body is that the world will recognize that Christ is who he says he is … John 17:21 Jesus prayed … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me … 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
The Example of Christ
The Debt we Owe Each other
The Debt we Owe the World
The Testimony to the Love of Christ that is available for all
I think we've answered the Why?
But the hard part perhaps is the ...
A. Make a decision to be a friend
B. Take Action, to be a friend we must show ourselves friendly --
C. Ask the question, "what do they need, NOT what do I have or want to give"
D. Love like Christ loved us
1. Love First
2. Love More than they love you -
3. What would happen if every member of New Life tried to Love every other member MORE than they love them?
4. Come on be competitive, positive competitiveness
5. Live for the good of another
6. Live with a passion for them instead of a passion for me
7. Remember our Mission is to turn "lovers of self, into lovers of God"
love comes FROM LOVE TO LOVE
Be a Friend
I went out to find a friend,
But could not find one there,
I went out to be a friend
And friends were everywhere!
Friend Carried Extra Fetters
Some years ago a war raged in India between the English and a native monarch, Tippoo Saib. On one occasion several English officers were taken prisoners, among them one named Baird. One day a native officer brought in fetters to be put on each of the prisoners, the wounded not excepted. Baird had been severely wounded, and was suffering from pain and weakness.
A grey-haired officer said to the native official. "You do not think of putting chains upon that wounded young man?" "There are just as many pairs of fetters as there are captives," was the answer, "and every pair must be worn." "Then," said the officer, "put two pairs on me; I will wear his as well as my own." Baird lived to regain his freedom, lived to take that very city, but the generous friend died in prison.
Friends Of Jesus' Patients
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, famous evangelist, said that the New Testament records tell of forty people, each suffering from the same disease, who were healed by Jesus. Of this number, thirty-four were either brought to Jesus by friends, or He was taken to them. In only six cases out of forty did the sufferers find the way to Jesus without assistance.
Of the vast number of people who find their way to Jesus today, most of them reach Him because the friends of Jesus are concerned about the welfare of their souls.