Friends! 3/14/99

John 15:12-19
Page 1580 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends…” Thus, He paid us a supreme compliment. The word “friend” in English, as in its Greek equivalent PHILOS, conveys the idea of loving and being loved. There is something warm and pleasant about it.

The secret of success in ones search for friends is found in the wisdom of Solomon who wrote: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). An unknown poet expressed it:
I went out to find a friend,
But could not find one there,
Then I went out to be a friend,
And there were friends everywhere!

An English publication ran a contest seeking the best definition of a friend. The winner was: “A friend — the one who walks in when the world walks out.”

“A friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17).

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

A good friend is the person who gives you the better of the two choices, hold your hand when your scared, helps you fight off those who try to take advantage of you, thinks of you at times when you are not there, reminds you of what you have forgotten, helps you put the past behind you but understands when you need to hold on to it a little longer, stays with you so that you have confidence, goes out of their way to make time for you, helps you clear up your mistakes, helps you deal with pressure from others, smiles for you when they are sad, helps me become a better person, and most importantly loves you! Yes, whether known since kindergarten or just met a couple months ago,

This is MY idea of a GOOD FRIEND.

A true friend is one who ask you how you are and listens to the answer.

A friend is one who doubles your joy and divides your sorrows.

True friends are like spaghetti, they stick together.

Life is a cookie and friends are the chocolate chips.

A true friend is one who watches as you make a mess of things and doesn’t react as though you have done a permanent job.

Jesus perfected the art of friendship; and after patterning it, passed it on to His followers. By example and expression He answered the question: “What is a friend?”

Friendship involves commitment. (Story of four G.I.’s on patrol in Vietnam: “You gotta care baby…you gotta care!”)

However, laying down your life involves more than looking into the grey face of death. There is a principle of slow sacrifice folded into the words of the Savior.

It is hard at duty’s call,
To lay one’s life down day by day,
As to lay it down once for all.

Friendship motivates one to daily help another.
It means to make joy possible for those who walk in the shadow of sorrow.
It is to make goodness possible for those who stand in the darkness of temptation.
It is to venture into the world day by day to minister and not be ministered unto.
It is to let the message of your music become the harmony of your life.

Nineteen hundred plus years ago a man lived a life in Galilee and Judea that is today transforming lives. His secret is no secret. It is found in His statement “I lay down my life for you.” Today those who honor Him most are those who comply with the insight shared by His follower John who wrote:

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (I John 3:16)

The day following Christ sharing the words of our study with His followers in the upper room, He spoke to John from the cross of His mother, Mary: “Behold your mother…” In this utterance our Lord laid on John the duty of laying down his life for Him by caring for a lonely broken-hearted woman to whom life had spoken most harshly. Looking after Mary, thereafter, was an act of laying down His life for Christ. That is a friend.

Jesus said, “You are my friends…” He didn’t say “I am your friend.” For me to say “Jesus is my friend” is to pull Him down to my level. For Him to speak of us as His friends is for Him to pick us up to His level.

James 2:23, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God.”

Obedience evidences friendship.

Epicetus: “I am free and the friend of God, because I obey Him willingly.”

George Whitfield was asked: “Do you ever tire of your work for God?” He replied, “Sometimes I tire in it, but never of it.”

No one can grow weary in well-doing who lives in the light of a friendship that transforms all
duty into delights.

A friend wants to help and protect a friend. The closest of friends should be husbands and wives. One wife called her husband on his car phone and asked, “Honey, are you on highway 280?” “Yes,” was the reply.” “Well be careful. I have the TV traffic report on and they say there is a car driving in the wrong lane on 280. Be very careful.”

“A car,” came the reply, “there are hundreds going the wrong way.” He alone was going the wrong way and accused those going the right way of going the wrong way. Friends help friends.

Jesus wants us to consider “all things”, that is, the facts of Christianity again and again until they become sun-clear. He has told us all we need to know. We need to do all we know.

He said, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11).

A friend enjoys helping a friend. That includes making decisions.

Many are familiar with the board game chess. Chess requires imagination and the capacity to think of most moves before made. Moves in chess are often compared to moves by two generals on a battlefield. Chess resembles war in that it requires attack and defense. The object is to move the king into a position in which it has to surrender.

It is possible for a skilled player to make such moves as to put the opponents king in a no-win position, defeat is unavoidable. At that point several moves in advance, check-mate can be declared. The game is over though not finished. The outcome is determined.

A skilled chess player who was also an outstanding artist painted a scene depicting a young man playing chess with the devil. Artistically the artist had portrayed the devil as moving his queen into position making it impossible for the young man’s king to survive. Check-mate was announced four moves in advance. The outcome was determined, the
devil wins.

The work of art hung in a major museum for years with chess players and art afficionados alike marveling over it.

An aged chess player from New Orleans, Paul Morphy, saw a picture of the painting. His intrigue drew him to Cincinnati to view the classic work.

The old undefeated supreme chess master studied the painting for the longest. It is said he studied it for a least thirty minutes. He would raise and lower his hands as though making moves. Suddenly his hands paused, his eyes burned with the vision of an unthought of combination. Suddenly he shouted, “Young man, make that move. That’s the move!”

To the amazement of all, the old master, the supreme chess personality, had discovered a combination that the creating artist had not considered. The young man had defeated the devil at last.

Apart from Christ the devil has us check-mated. Thee is no way for us to win. Then the Master devised a move that enables us to win. That move took Him to Calvary and takes us to heaven.

Do you recall the thrill of being chosen when playing childish games? What an exhilarating thrill to be chosen. There was the classic, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send …. right over.” That’s ME!

Chosen on a team, what a thrill.

You who are married, do you remember? What a moment it was when the person who is your spouse said “Yes” to your proposal. The two of you chose each other. WOW!

Perhaps there was a job you wanted and after all the interviews you were chosen as the one for
the job. An upper!

Maybe, there are bitter memories of not being chosen also. Don’t dwell on them. If you are chosen for the greatest why be concerned about not being chosen for that which is not as important. You have been chosen for the greatest of all things.

“God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4).

That is, long before the dawn of creation God the Father determined that those who would put their faith in Christ as Savior would share His eternal destiny. In Christ you are chosen to inherit a heavenly home. The plus, is you have a
Companion for the journey home, Christ Himself. He chose us for…

Joy, Vs. 11, “…My joy remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” A gloomy Christian is a contradiction of terms. How can a person fail to be joyous while walking in His will?

Love, Vs. 12, “…love one another as I have loved you.” To profess to love Christ Who we cannot see and
not love those we can see is a contradiction.

I sought my soul,
But my soul I could not see.
I sought my God, but my God eluded me,
I sought my brother and found all three.

Be Friends, Vs. 15, “I have called you friends.” This was a term used in kingly courts and in the Roman Empire. The confidants of the king were called “friends of the king.” They could see Him at any time. They ranked in importance above even his generals.

We are not sterile slaves who must cower in His presence. We are not members of the remote crowed which must strain to see Him. We are His friends.

Partners, Vs. 15, “friends.” Inherent in the meaning of the word “friend” is the meaning “partner.” A slave was defined as “a living tool.” We are His partners in His task.

As a child I was privileged to be reared in one of those typical old southern homes with a front and back porch. For years the virgin pine of which it was made was never painted. As the porch aged it became obvious it needed painting. I remember my dad laboring to paint it. As it grew late I passed and he said, “Son, get that other brush and help me so we can finish before dark.” I still remember the pride of being a fellow-worker with my father. That is what Jesus wants of us.

Ambassadors, Vs. 16, “you are appointed.” Knights in the court of King Arthur were not chosen to perpetually revel at the banquet table or attend fancy affairs of state. They delighted to be sent on missions of courage for their king. We are His ambassadors sent on a special message like that of the man healed of his demon possession in Mark 5:19, to whom Christ said, “Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he has had compassion on you.” The mandate: “Go…tell.”

Advertisements, Vs. 16, “bear fruit”. We were not chosen to be pets but patterns. We are to bring our friends to Christ.

The route of friendship with Jesus is the road of servanthood. He must first be trusted as Savior before becoming your constant companion and friend.

A friend is CHOSEN. Christ has chosen you to be His friend. Will you choose Him?

You can’t go back and make a brand new start, but you can begin now and make a wonderful new conclusion.