Posts Tagged ‘friend’


Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down.

They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.”

Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded.

And, according to Paul Harvey, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

In this note, we are going to discover all the boxes of chocolate chip cookies God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ!

Let’s read Romans 5:1-11 in the Phillips translation, and perhaps we can get a glimpse of all we have through Jesus Christ:

“Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys – we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. Moreover, if he did that for us while we were sinners, now that we are men justified by the shedding of his blood, what reason have we to fear the wrath of God? If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through his living in us. Nor, I am sure, is this a matter of bare salvation – we may hold our heads high in the light of God’s love because of the reconciliation which Christ has made.

Don’t Overlook the Excitement of Paul. The New Living Translation reveals it in verse 11:

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

We have a WONDERFUL NEW RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus!

Martin Luther wrote…In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text!

W E Vine observes that the fifth chapter shows what we have THROUGH CHRIST, while the sixth shows us what we are IN CHRIST. “THROUGH CHRIST” is the keynote of chapter five. Chapter 5 unfolds the subjects of the effects of the death and resurrection of Christ…(as Paul so richly described in Romans 3:21-25). (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson

Romans is a book of supernatural logic which is knitted together with a fine thread of “therefore’s” (term of conclusion)…

  • Therefore of giving over – Ro 1:24
  • Therefore of condemnation Ro 3:20
  • Therefore of justification – Ro 5:1
  • Therefore of no condemnation – Ro 8:1
  • Therefore of dedication – Ro 12:1

Paul reveals the main thrust of Romans in chapter 1, verses 16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the means of our DAILY salvation, whereby the righteousness of God becomes our righteousness!

The Power of God is on Display

Paul began Romans with the Power of God on display, the power to bring sinful man into a right and righteous relationship with God! Romans 5 reveals that this is all TROUGH Jesus Christ and how marvelous the benefits of that Right Relationship are! The result of Chapter 5 is that God now puts His Children of Faith on Display!

The word “therefore” reaches back to the contents of chapter four — therefore being justified (made righteous-the righteousness of God), not by works (1-8), not by rituals (9-12), not by obedience to the law (13-25), but by faith (our belief in the truth of God), we have peace. Your works, your rituals, even your following the law will never bring peace to your heart and soul.

All that follows from the 5th chapter, 1st verse to the end of the 8th chapter describes the fruit or results of justification, the inheritance of those who are justified. Having been justified by faith, that which Paul now discusses, chapters 6, 7 and 8, shall be true of us.

We must fully understand and envision what Christ has done for us if we are to live the Christian life that Paul will detail in Romans 6,7 and 8!

THEREFORE (Through Faith in Jesus Christ):

I. The Reality of Justification by Faith

To begin with, Paul sees justification as an accomplished work, “Therefore being justified,” or “since we are justified.” Justification is not hypothetical, not just a vague possibility, but a present reality for him who trusts in JESUS CHRIST. Justification is:

1. A legal declaration of righteousness. It isn’t that a sinner is merely made to ‘feel’ righteous in a subjective way. Rather, God “declares” the sinner to be objectively righteous in a forensic or judicial sense — regardless of his or her feelings.

2. A genuine righteousness.

  • God doesn’t simply decide to overlook the sinner’s sinfulness and “pretend” that he or she is righteous when that really isn’t the case;
  • He doesn’t simply “cover up” the sinner with the righteousness of Jesus in such a way as to conceal his or her real condition of sinfulness from His eyes — as though simply covering him or her with a “righteousness” coating.
  • When God justifies a sinner, He declares that sinner to be made really, genuinely, completely righteous, because that sinner is “in Christ.”

3. An imputation of righteousness.

  • To “impute” something means to ‘attribute’ it or ‘credit’ it to something or someone else.
  • If, for example, I had a ‘zero’ balance in my checking account, I would draw some money out of my savings account and have it “imputed” or “credited” or “attributed” to my checking account.
  • The only way that the checking account could have cash value is if it is “imputed” into it from another account.
  • When God justifies a sinner, he or she is not made “righteous” on the basis of anything that they do — nor on the basis of anything God enables them to do.
  • God completely “imputes” genuine righteousness to them — “attributing” it to them, or “crediting” it to their account.

4. A righteousness through faith as opposed to works.

  • Sinners are not “justified” on the basis of their faith — or on the basis of any other work they could do, for that matter.
  • They’re declared righteous before God on the basis of two things: that their sins were placed onto Jesus when He died on the cross; and that His perfect obedience and righteousness imputed to them — He became sin for them (and died in their place); and they became the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Faith isn’t the cause of justification;
  • Faith is the means by which the sinner comes into possession of that imputed righteousness.

As it says of Abraham in Gen. 15:6, when God made the promise to him that, even though he was childless, he would one day have as many children as the stars in heaven, “Then he believed the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness

Paul reinforces the proof of justification with three strong propositions:

  • Verse 6, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
  • Verse 8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Verse 10, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

II. The Results of Justification by Faith

1.  Peace with God

Romans 5:1 (KJV) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

A sign in front of a church said, “If life is a puzzle, look here for the missing peace” and spelled that last word p-e-a-c-e!

“It means to be in a relationship w/God in which all hostility caused by sin has been removed!”(Shepherds Notes, p 33)

ἔχωμεν- let us have (Word Studies)= let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace (eirene from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common expression of one “having it all together”.

  • “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephes. 2:14-15).
  • “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20).
  • harmonized relationship between God and man (Vine’s).

D L Moody..A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it

2.  Continuous Access to God’s Grace (place of privilege)

Romans 5:2a (KJV) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…

It is only through Christ that we have access into this grace. The word “access” (prosagōgēn) means to bring to, to move to, to introduce, to present. The thought is that of being in a royal court and being presented and introduced to the King of kings. Jesus Christ is the One who throws open the door into God’s presence. He is the One who presents us to God, the Sovereign Majesty of the universe. POSB

It can refer to one’s “introduction” into a relationship or it can refer to “ongoing access” in an existing relationship. Paul’s use of the same term in Ephesians 2:18; 3:12 seems to suggest that what is in view in Romans 5:2 is continued access to God, and not so much on the initial introduction into the relationship.

A. Wonderful Grace

He hasn’t merely reconciled us to Himself and then left it up to us to keep ourselves in that state. He has placed us “in Christ”; and in Him, we have been made “the righteousness of God” And being in that state of righteousness, it’s only by His grace that we stay that way!

B. Continuous Access

  • Through Jesus Christ His Son, we “have obtained (place of continuous access to God).
  • We are not left to ourselves to keep from wandering in and out of God’s favor all the time. We’ve been introduced to a state of favor before Him through Christ; and in Christ, it’s in this state of favor that, by being in Christ, we forever “stand”!
  • Paul wrote to the Galatian church about this very issue.
    • The Christians in Galatia were fearful that, even though they were brought into God’s favor by His grace, they needed to keep the old Jewish ceremonies of the Old Testament in order to stay in God’s favor.
    • Paul wrote to them very strongly and urged them not to place themselves under those rules and ceremonies.
    • “Are you so foolish?”, he asked them; “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).
    • “It was for freedom that Christ set you free,” he reminded them; “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).

3.  Hope of the Glory of God

Romans 5:2b (KJV) …and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We have a Whole New Outlook.

We now share together with Christ in His glory. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).That prospect comes from being “in Christ”. Jesus Himself prayed to the Father, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23). It’s not called a “hope” because we merely hope it will happen. Paul’s meaning is that it’s a “hope” in the sense of a certain expectation;

Romans 8:29-30, “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Those whom God has justified will also be glorified!

I heard about an old, saintly Christian gentleman who said, “I may not be much to look at right now; but one day, I’m goin’ on parade!!”

4.  Rejoicing in Trials

Romans 5:3-5a (KJV) 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation(thilipsis-pressure) worketh patience(endurance, constancy); 4 And patience, experience(dokimos-approved); and experience, hope: 5 And hope(elpis-anticipate with confidence) maketh not ashamed…

Tribulation = word that means to “squeeze” or “press” something; Picture of pressing circumstances or distressing hardships. “It describes distress that is brought on by outward circumstances.” Look at the way God uses the “pressure times” in the life of someone that He has declared “righteous” before Him.

A. Tribulations produce “perseverance” or “patient endurance”.

  • Endurance-constancy
  • They produce the quality of learning to trust in God and wait upon Him, relying upon His strength in the knowledge that He has nothing in mind for us but our good.
  • The capacity to endure calmly, confidently, & w/o complaint.” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake My Heart, p. 180)
  • Tribulation is a thorny tree, but it yields sweet fruit.
  • A guitar string only fulfills its purpose when it is removed from its old package, stretched as tight as it will go, & then plucked!
  • When a storm comes at sea, a ship turns to face the tempest. If the vessel allows the storm to hit its side, it will capsize. If it turns its back to the storm, the storm will drive it wherever the wind blows. Only in facing the storm is the ship safe.

God is not punishing us.

  • All our punishment has already gone onto Christ, and He took our punishment for us.
  • And what’s more, His righteousness before God was placed to our account.
  • What a difference between the man who crosses the finish line and the one who drops out of the race ten yards from the tape, between the fighter who fights until the bell rings and the one who throws in the towel

We are Justified with God, so there’s nothing left to think about our troubles and trials but as things that our sovereign God permits to come upon us in order to make us grow into the glorious image of Christ that He has predestined us “in Him” to be.

B. Perseverance produces “proven character.” (Reveals what we really are inside.)

  • Dokimos-approved coinage, approved soldier

The difficult times of life don’t make us into anything different — they just show us to be what we really are. If someone comes out of their trials a bitter person, it’s because, deep within, they were already bitter in the first place — and the circumstance simply proved their true character. If someone comes out of their trials with a sense of confidence in God, giving praise to Him for what He has done, it’s because God developed perseverance in them through the exercise of their faith in Him — and the circumstance simply proved their true character.

C. Proven character produces “hope”.

  • Confident Anticipation that it will be worth it all!
  • This “hope” is the praise we’ll receive from Jesus for having been faithful to Him — even while undergoing a time of trial; His “Well done!”
  • This is a hope that “does not disappoint”, as it says in verse 5, “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
  • It’s a hope that already has a guarantee of victory to it because He already loves us! All this, because He has declared us righteous in Christ!!
    • The present in no way jeopardizes the future (5:5).
    • Paul’s emphasis here is that in light of justification and the indwelling Spirit, God can actually use our difficult experiences in life to work a deeper hope in us—i.e., a deeper longing for him and desire to experience him.

5.  Confidence in God’s Love for us

Romans 5:5b-8 (KJV) 5 … the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

A.God Loves us the Same as His Son

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that you sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:25-26).

In fact, Jesus even prayed that the extent of God’s great love for us would become clearly known; “… that the world may know,” He prayed, “that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).
How can we help but gasp when we read that — that the Father loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus!!

Billy Graham said: “When we preach atonement, it is atonement planned by love, provided by love, given by love, finished by love, necessitated because of love. – When we preach the resurrection of Christ, we are preaching the miracle of love. When we preach the return of Christ, we are preaching the fulfillment of love.”

B. The Love of God is the Hope of the Weak and Powerless

Hope always burns brightly in those whose character has been developed through overcoming trials.

  • Paul is not talking about the objective love of God shown to us in the cross (3:25; 5:8), but rather the subjective apprehension (i.e., in our hearts) of God’s love. For Paul this is primarily an emotional experience with a force greater than the doubt inflicted through trials (cf. Phil 4:6-7).
  • Hope is not the tuition we pay as we enroll in the school of adversity. Rather, it is the diploma awarded to those who by the grace of God do well on the tests.

Priest and poet George Herbert wrote in The Temple (1593-1633), “He who lives in hope dances without music.”

How do we experience this great love as displayed by Jesus? We experience it as the Holy Spirit makes it known in our hearts. He literally “shed’ the love of God into our lives. As we place our faith in the blood of Jesus, the Love of God flows into our hearts and lives.!

  • There is a saying among Italian sculptors, who often miss the chisel and hit their own hands with the hammer: “When the blood flows out, the mastery enters.”
  • It was so with Jesus. It was his death on Calvary that made him the master of our souls. “There is power in the blood.”

6.  A Living Salvation

Romans 5:9-10 (KJV) 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

A. Saved by His Life: we will also be completely saved from sin and death by Christ’s resurrection life and our union with him

Salvation is not a one time thing that happens by our faith in a past action. Salvation is an ongoing process which is undertaken by our LIVING SAVIOR! His live becomes our life! His righteousness becomes our righteousness! Our Salvation will be consummated when our physical bodies are resurrected! Then we can truly say, “O death, where is your sting?”

If He so loved us when we were still sinners — which is the far greater thing; then now that we’ve been declared righteous by Him out of His love for us, He will surely spare us from His wrath against sin — which is the lessor thing. Just as God is gracious and ready to forgive, He is also just and is fully prepared to pour out His wrath on sinners that will not receive His merciful offer, but who continue to defiantly rebel against Him.

B. There Will be A Judgment

He declares His own character to Moses in this way: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty upunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7).

This gives us cause to stop and remember that while He is always and ever ready to forgive any sinner that cries out to Him, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”; He still remains a holy God and will not put up with sin. To those who will not turn from their sins and receive His gracious offer of “justification by faith”, there remains this warning of His wrath.

7.  Friendship with God

Romans 5:11 (KJV) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

A. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to offer praise to God

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

B. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to Rejoice in our Relationship with God

Revelation 7:15-17; “… they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

C. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to enjoy the experience of ever-satisfying, ever-thrilling, ever-expanding fellowship with Him for all eternity.

  • John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
  • John 17:3 (ESV) And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  • John 15:14-15 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

The Three Phases of Redemption

In these short eleven verses, Paul gives us the three phases of our redemption:

1. Justification, (freedom from guilt, imputation of righteousness);
2. Sanctification, the operation of righteousness and grace received when justified, which results in Christian growth
3. Glorification – the resurrection of our glorified body to dwell with God for all eternity

  • Justification, the beginning of the Christian experience;
  • Sanctification, the development of the Christian experience;
  • Glorification, the consummation of the Christian experience.

The Pit and the Pendulum

Edgar Allen Poe wrote a horrifying story set in a dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition.He takes us beneath a castle into a horrible dark, rat-infested dungeon. There we find an unnamed man who has been tried and found guilty.The stench of death and human feces is overpowering. He can hear tha rats scampering all around him. He tries to search the dungeon to see if there is a way of escape, but it’s too dark. He stumbles around and nearly falls into a huge pit in the center of the cell. He is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, he realizes that he is strapped into a torture device that houses a swinging, razor-sharp pendulum. The pendulum gradually lowers closer and closer to his heart. The man goes mad as he watches the pendulum grow near.

He uses his free hand to wipe the remains of his last meal onto the strap that sits between his body and the pendulum. This attracts the rats, and they chew through the strap, freeing him. As soon as he stands, the pendulum is raised and the iron walls— which have been heated to a dangerous level—close in on him. The hero is forced closer to the pit’s opening. Just before he falls, General Lasalle’s French army arrives and rescues him.

Our enemy Satan has thrown mankind into a dark miserable dungeon of sin. He makes us godless, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless, worthless and powerless. He binds us with our sins, he tortures us, and he is constantly pushing us into the pit of his Hell.

We are absolutely powerless to escape, to try to save ourselves. The walls are closing in, and all seems lost,

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. For… God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners…Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)

God has given us so much, so that we can have so much!

III. The Life of Jesus is our Salvation

1 John 5:11-12 “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Because He Lives and through our faith in Him, we know we have:

  1. Peace with God
  2. Continuous Access to God’s Grace
  3. Hope of the Glory of God
  4. Rejoicing in Trials
  5. Confidence in God’s Love for us.
  6. A Living Salvation
  7. Friendship with God

Are you content to hear the swooshing of the pendulum blade as it inches closer and closer to your heart? Do you enjoy the rats of sin? Do you enjoy the stench of death and decay? God wants you to enjoy Him, to enjoy His Love, His peace, His grace, His friendship. And it is all freely given to you through His Son, Jesus Christ! It is all yours by believing in God’s Word! Believe God, and it will be counted to you as Righteousness!

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George discovers his wealth in friends

George discovers his wealth in friends

At the end of the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence the Angel leaves George Bailey a copy of Mark Twain’s adventure story, Tom Sawyer. Surrounded by scores of friends singing in celebration of Christmas, George smilingly opens the front cover, and we see what Clarence has wisely written: “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

But as I have learned, not all friends are the same. Some friends are more valuable than others. They say that dog’s are a man’s best friend. A People magazine article in 1995 detailed a true story that happened as follows:

Even with the temperature hovering at 35 below zero, dog trainer Jim Gilchrist of Innisfil, Ontario, decided to take his two pets-

Rescured by Tara and Tiree

Rescured by Tara and Tiree

Tara, a Rottweiler, and Tiree, a golden retriever-out for their usual afternoon walk on Feb.24,1995. After passing through the woods, they headed home across frozen Lake Simcoe. But as the dogs bounded ahead, Gilchrist, 61, felt the ice give way. “I was walking along and went ‘pop’ right through,” he recalls. “It happened so fast. I thought, ‘This could be the end.’ “

Hearing her master’s cries, Tara raced over, only to crash through herself. As they thrashed about, Tiree appeared. “All I could think was that she’d meet our same fate,” says Gilchrist. Instead the whining dog crouched on her belly and crawled to the hole. As Gilchrist grabbed Tiree’s collar, Tara scrambled atop his back to jump out of the hole. Then she lay on her belly alongside Tiree so Gilchrist could grab her collar with his other hand. While the 200-pound Gilchrist hung on, the dogs clawed backward until he was safe. “They had every right to run ashore,” says Gilchrist, who, back home, gave his dogs a hot bath. “They risked their lives to save me.”

I hope your best friend is not a dog. I believe that every one of us could tell a story of how a human friend was there for us when we were facing a difficult time. Perhaps you had a very special friend who stuck by you when all your other friends left you or even turned on you.

I have discovered as you probably have, that adversity reveals our true friends. Solomon wrote:

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (NKJV)

Solomon was using what we call parallelism to make his point about true friends. The first observation about a friend is explained and expanded by the second statement. So what Solomon is really saying about a true friend is:

  1. A friend is someone who continues to love, and to show that love, whatever the circumstances.
  2. A friend is born for adversity—not his or her adversity, but yours.
    • In other words, the true test of a friend is whether or not he or she is there for you in the bad times, the tough times.
  3. A friend is like a brother—short of death, you can never get rid of him.

Great friends mean a lot. Whether it is a dog that will sacrifice his life for you, or a friend that will always be there for you, our lives are Richer with good friends. Our walk is taller with friends by our side. We are a whole lot braver and bolder when we are with friends.

My Childhood Home at 77th & Roe

My Childhood Home at 77th & Roe

I grew up at 77th & Roe in Prairie Village. From the ages of 9-11 I played all the time with my brother John and Bobby & Chuck Fields. With a couple other friends like Bobby Cox we were a pretty tight group. We played on same baseball teams, etc.

Right behind us there was another group of kids living on Fontana Street. They never bothered us, except this one time. I was swinging in the Fields’ back yard waiting for them to come home. I was by myself that day. I was a runt, sickly asthmatic kid. Well four of the guys on Fontana street crossed the creek and came into their back yard. They pulled me out of the swing as I was swinging, and a big kid set on my while a couple of them kicked me. They didn’t hurt me bad, but I was crying. I kept saying my friends are getting home any minute and they will beat you guys up. They just laughed but not risking anything, they ran to their street. Man I was mad and embarrassed and a little scared. When Chuck & Bobby got home I told em what happened and told them we need to go get those guys. Guess what, they didn’t want to do anything. So I learned an important lesson that day. I needed bigger friends. If I was going to not live in fear I needed bigger friends. So I made friends with this older boy next door. He liked to make model airplanes, so I started to make model airplanes. Tommy & I became good friends. I thought I had a big enough friend who would protect me if I needed it. But one day another kid wanted to see my model airplanes. I brought out my Black Widow bomber so he could see it. He took it, lifted it up and promptly smashed it onto some rocks. When I went over to Tommie’s to get some help getting revenge, he all of a sudden was too sick to come out. I learned that not only did I need a big friend, but I needed a fearless big friend.

Fortunately my teenage years passed quickly without the need for any more fearless big friends (except for one instance in 8th grade but I discovered that running fast was a virtue when confronted by a bully).

A Time of Decision

Time of Decision

Time of Decision

But facing graduation from Shawnee Mission West High School, I realized I needed someone to help me figure out what to do with my life.

I was facing the most important decision of my life-where to go to college, what to major in, what to do with my life. I was pretty worried and anxious about making the right decision. My teachers and my friends all said I should be a lawyer because I was good at debate. Plus they made a lot of money. So I applied and was accepted at Washburn and planned on a pre-law degree, with Law School after that.

When I was about 13, I had started a friendship with the biggest Friend I could find. His name was God. I read His Word at times, talked to Him at times, went to youth group, but I wasn’t getting His advice on what to do with my life.

At a youth rally at High Street Baptist Church in July of 1971, 30 days before I was to start Washburn, I heard a Sermon by Dr Elmer Towns at High Street Baptist Church. All I remember was that God wanted us to give Him our whole life. God is not happy being a sometimes friend. He is the Big Friend that wants us to trust Him completely. He is such a friend that He gave His only son, Jesus so that our sins can be forgiven, and we can have a deep personal relationship with this awesome Father and Friend.

I decided that I needed this Biggest Friend God, and that I needed to trust Him with my whole life. But the way was through His Son. He had given His Son for me on the cross, and I could totally trust my life in His hands. So I gave my life to Jesus. Jesus was the one who had set His face like a flint to the Cross, to hang there with my sins on His back. He was and is that fearless friend I had been searching for. He had fearlessly given His life for me! He had fearlessly given up everything for me!

After I laid my fears and worries at the altar and given everything in my life to Jesus, to let Him be Lord and King of my life, He made some dramatic changes. Those changes came about because I realized some amazing things about my new Fearless Big Friend. Those Truth’s are in Isaiah 41:10.

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ‘ Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

There are Five Tremendous Pillars that Demonstrate how awesome is this Big Fearless Friend:

The Five Pillars of GOD’S FEARLESS FRIENDSHIP: Isa 41:10

  1. God is with me—”Do not fear, for I am with you.”
  2. God is my God —”Do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God.”
  3. God is my strength — “I will strengthen you.”
  4. God is my help — “Surely I will help you.”
  5. God upholds me —”Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Two Benefits of a having a big Fearless Friend

I discovered there are two benefits of having God as my Fearless Friend. They are stated at the very beginning of this verse:

  • “Fear not”
  • “do not anxiously look about you” (RSV: “do not be dismayed”).

Dismayed: “destroy your courage or resolve. Something causes you to lose enthusiasm, to be disillusioned”. That is exactly what happened to Peter. He took his eyes off His Fearless Friend, started looking at the wind and lost his courage, his resolve to keep walking.

You may not be trying to walk on water, but there may be some Christians here who have become disillusioned with Jesus. You may have lost your courage, your resolve, your enthusiasm in walking this Christian life. You have experienced hurts or broken promises or deception and you have taken your eyes off this fearless friend.

Never Give In

Never Give In

There have been times in my life that have been hard to accept, hard to take. I have even tried to walk away from my Fearless Friend, but these Five Truths kept coming back to me. Perhaps we need to look at them in light of what Winston Churchill said:

On October 29, 1941, Great Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School to speak to the students. Toward the end of his 4 minute speech he said this: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor”

We must never give in to fear, we must never give in to discouragement. We must never give in to apathy and disillusionment. We must never, never lose our heart for our Fearless Friend. We need to gaze long into the face of our Fearless Friend. When everyone around you is becoming fearful for the future, disillusioned with our government and leaders, we need to remind ourselves that JESUS IS STILL OUR FEARLESS FRIEND and HE STILL REIGNS ON HIGH!

We need to make Isaiah 41:10 the foundation of our walk with Christ, and combine it with the words of Winston Churchill:

Never Give in. . . God is With You!

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

No matter what you are facing, whatever the obstacle or diagnosis or hardship, with Jesus Christ in your heart, God is always with You.

  • He has made us accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6)
  • Christ is in you, the hope of Glory (Col 1:27)
  • Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 (NKJV)
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)
Statue of Paderewski

Statue of Paderewski

A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for a Paderewski performance. They found their seats near the front of the concert hall. The mother found a friend to talk to and the boy slipped away.

When eight o’clock arrived, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy on the piano bench innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

The master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. “Don’t quit—keep playing,” he whispered to the boy. Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized.

In our lives, unpolished though we may be, it is the master who surrounds us and whispers in our ear, “Don’t quit—keep playing.” And as we do, he augments and supplements until a work of amazing beauty is created.

Never Give in. . . God is Your God!

Solomon Dedicates the Temple

Solomon Dedicates the Temple

We must each have a deep sense of God’s presence in our lives, THE GOD who is El Elyon, who reigns from on high! Each of these significant servants of God had this signature realization:

SOLOMON:

and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 1 Kings 8:23 (ESV)

David:

Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, Psalms 113:5 (ESV)

Jeremiah:

No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6 (NIV)

PAUL:

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 (NIV)

Never Give in. . . God is Your Strength!

David Strengthened in Ziklag

David Strengthened in Ziklag

For almost 10 years David had been on the run from King Saul. 600 Mighty men surrounded David, fought with him, defended him. With no where else to go David joined King Achish of the Philistines. He and his men pretended to war against Israel but secretly raided the Amalekites, enemies of Israel. The othe Philistine Lords were suspicious, and when preparing to go to war against King Saul, sent David away, back to his home in Ziklag.

3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahin’o-am of Jezreel, and Ab’igail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:3-6 (RSV)

Never Give in. . . God is Your Help!

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1 (NKJV)

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. 40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him. Psalms 37:39-40 (NKJV)

Praying Troops in Iraq

Praying Troops in Iraq

The threat of war is having a positive impact on soldiers preparing for conflict with Iraq. On a recent Sunday morning, eight young men approached the altar in a canvas church, received blessings from a chaplain, and were baptized in a freshly dug pool. They emerged to applause from their fellow Marines.

Makeshift chapels throughout Kuwait’s military camps and logistics bases have been jammed with worshippers as the threat of war grows. Many of the men have not entered a church back home in years.

Some troops say this “foxhole religion: is critical to their preparation for war, saying it provides confidence that they will be protected if called upon to fight and faith that their mission is just.” Lance Corporal Matthew Haugan from California was one of those recently baptized, Haugan says, “After today, I feel more ready to cross the border. This is better armor than anything the Marine Corps could give me. I feel better about myself than I ever have, and I know God will be looking out for me.”

Army Chaplain Keith Kilgore, a Southern Baptist minister, said, “It’s the best ministry I’ve ever had. When soldiers are about to face combat, they start getting spiritual. They want to get right with God.” Priest Bill Devine adds, “Their experiences over here will change them, and if that includes bringing God more into the picture, so much the better.” —www.washingtonpost.com, In Kuwait, Baptism Before the Gunfire, By Jonathan Finer and Peter Baker, February 28, 2003. Submitted by Jim Sandell.

Never Give in. . . God Upholds You!

David Anointed by Saul

David Anointed by Saul

Has there ever been a time in your life when you had that feeling you were drowning, or you were being buried alive in problems. A young David, found himself being anointed with oil to be the next King of Israel by Samuel. In only a couple of years he found himself running for his life, hiding in cold, wet, clammy caves. Once, while hiding in a cave, he could hear King Saul and his men outside. He had nowhere else to run. He was trapped. To see how David reacted we read Psalm 57: A michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. 2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. Psalms 57:1-11 (NKJV)

David could have prayed for Saul’s death, for the problem to go away, for God to do as He said and make him King. But that is not what David prayed. He cried out to God “Be exalted O God” not just once, but twice. He put God before him and what he wanted, and those problems he had. God was first. God’s will was first. God’s Glory was first.

What is the problem facing you? Perhaps they are many. Cry out to God for His Glory in your life and in your problem. See that He upholds you by the power of His hand. You’ve got to let go of what you are clinging to, and cling to Him! Put God between your problems and you. Cling to HIM!

In Isaiah 41:13 God re-emphasizes – “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Jesus is Your Fearless Friend

Jesus is Your Fearless Friend

Jesus is Your Fearless Friend

Sure God is fearless. Who does He have to be afraid of. Is He so big that you can’t relate to Him? That is why he sent His Son. His Son wasn’t afraid to face Satan without His divine powers./ He was clothed in weak flesh. He was just like you and me. Yet He had no fear! He went to the cross with love for you in His heart, and your sins on His bloodied and broken back.

Jesus says You have seen me, you have seen the Father. I and the Father are one. I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.

If we see Jesus Christ in Isaiah 41:10, we find that Jesus is Five relations to us expressed in five different prepositions:

  • I am your God—over you.
  • I am with you—by your side.
  • I will strengthen you—from inside of you.
  • I will help you—all around you from wherever the enemy comes.
  • I will uphold you—from underneath you.

Over you, by you, inside you, around you, underneath you.

Footprints in the Sand

Footprints in the Sand

Our Fearless Friend Jesus is pictured so beautifully in this famous poem:

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?” The Lord replied, The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.”Mary Stevenson

Jesus as our Big Fearless Friend is also pictured in these words by the Apostle Paul:

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Norman Vincent Peale relates the telling words of a surgeon:

The [operation] that meant the most to me was the time I operated on a little girl who was given only a ten percent chance of survival. She was such a sweet little thing, and so pale when they brought her into the operating room. …As the nurses were preparing to administer the anesthetic to this little girl, she asked, “Doctor, may I say something?” “Yes, honey,” I replied. “What is it?” “Well,” she said, “every night when I go to bed I say my prayers, and I’d like to say a prayer now.” “That’s all right, honey, please say your prayer, and think of me, too, won’t you?”

She Prays for the Doctor

She Prays for the Doctor

In a sweet voice she prayed, “Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me, Bless thy little lamb tonight; Through the darkness be thou near me: Keep me safe till morning light.” “And, dear Jesus, please bless the doctor.” Then she added brightly, “I’m ready now. And I’m not afraid, because Jesus loves me and He is right here with me and is going to bring me through okay.”

I was blinded by my tears. I had to turn away and occupy myself with another wash up before I could start the operation. And I said, “Dear God, if You never help me save another human being, help me save this little girl.” I operated on her and the miracle happened. She lived! Leaving the hospital that day, I realized that I was the one who had been operated on, not the girl. She taught me that if I take all my problems and put them in the hands of Jesus, He will see me through.

Oh, for the faith of a child! Lord grant that each one of us would walk so closely and trust so fully in Him!