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Dear Friends... - A Devotion

Dear Friends...
Dear Friends...
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Proverbs 27:9-10 (NLT)
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Never abandon a friend—
either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.

In this world of great technology, I believe that the word “friend” has become lost in the Internet. We text our conversations rather than speaking to one another and I am just as guilty as the rest. It’s fast and easy yet often we miss certain points or take things out of context because let’s face it words without emotions are meaningless. I can say that I love you many different ways, but unless you can feel it in my words and really know my intentions it may be hard to interpret a typed conversation. It’s not all technologies fault. When used appropriately, it is a powerful tool that keeps me in touch with my family and friends when we are apart. It allows me to work 200 miles from home. I can plan a wedding, shop for school clothes, and pay the bills never stepping foot in a store, business or even my own house which has proven very useful these last couple of years as I did the majority of my Christmas shopping online while my son was receiving chemotherapy from November to December. As I have been with him while undergoing a bone marrow transplant, again I find myself far from home. I wouldn’t be anywhere else but of course, I am homesick. I miss my husband and children even our little dog. I miss my job and friends at work. I haven’t been to church in almost two months. Out of touch does not seem to fit the isolation that I sometime feel. My brother and sister-in-law live in this town so they fill the gap of homesickness. I have made wonderful friends here among the medical staff. I have also come in contact with some friends who I have not heard from in a while. The thing about this journey that we are on is that it is long term. So people cannot hang this close to life and death afraid that it might touch their life in some horrible way. Others feel their heartbreaking so avoid us and I understand. But then there are those men and women of God who are not just my friends but something more. The ones who are compelled to reach out with words of encouragement when we haven’t talked in months. To go beyond the “I’m praying for you” to roll-up their sleeves and get involved with a meal, play date for my daughter and other countless blessings along the way. In the last couple of days, two of my longtime friends have sent me the most awesome encouragement that each time I read find that I cannot respond through the tears. I promise you two I will get back to you. This journey that we are on has stirred up and revived old friendships, strengthened existing bonds, and even brought new people into our life. This is just another way that God trades beauty for our ashes and joy for our pain.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Perfume is a blessing. In the Old Testament, it came at a very high price making it valuable. Incense was used in worship. The priests used it in preparation for the Presence of the Lord. I believe that God has given us friendship to do just that bless us and worship Him. We have lost touch with each other. Strangers attend church each week never even getting the other guy’s name although they sit by us week after week. I am just as guilty as you probably are. We do not get to know people and have extended three feet of personal space to the firewall on our computer. We may have 575 Facebook friends, 400 followers on Twitter and 27 likes on Instagram but at the end of the day we have no interaction with other people so we are missing out on many blessings and a way of worshipping our Father in His Love.
I John 4:7-11 (NLT)
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

Human beings have a really bad habit of only coming together when tragedy strikes. I have seen it happen in our life. I have seen it in the life of others. Friendship is an act of love. Love comes from God. We love Him because He first loved us. As Children of God, our one and only mandate is that we love other people. Real love is not what we have made it. It is being the Hand, Feet, and Heart of Jesus Christ to everyone who we come in contact with in this world. I never knew how much a meal delivered to someone’s home might be until so many have done it for us over the last few years. I could not comprehend how precious that word of encouragement from the mouth of a person sent from the Heart of God. God uses people to get His Message across. He wants to use you. He wants to use me. We must be willing to be dear friends to do it. You may never know the impact made on another person’s life by your kindness or generosity in their time of need, but God does and He credits it to us with blessings far greater than what we withheld would have given us. Paul throughout all his letters called the recipients “dear friends” no matter what his message was. Are we doing the same with our life? Are we living as dear friends? According to this passage in I John, we are obligated to real love if we have accepted the Love of Christ.

Romans 13:8-9 (NLT)
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We are obligated to love each other in friendship and brotherhood. If you peruse the Ten Commandments it really is all about treating others as you would like to be treated. However, like the Ten Commandments, the Bible and Jesus Christ, the Golden Rule no longer applies either. Our country has adopted a sense of entitlement. We feel that the world owes us something when in reality it cannot even stop its own mass destruction. We want what belongs to us and will go through whoever stands in the way. Forget dog-eat-dog, it’s a man-eat-man society. Marriages statistically are doomed for divorce. Until we stop going into every relationship looking for what we will get out of it, and decide to invest all we have to make them work then we will never meet our godly obligation to love one another. This is how we prove to God, the world and ourselves that we are His Children. We love others the way that we want to be loved. A friend is always loyal. (Proverbs 17:17) That means when someone does not meet your expectations than you choose to love them and be loyal to them anyway.

John 3:16 (NLT)
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

I John 3:16 (NLT)
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Dear Friends, we all want the benefits of John 3:16. There is nothing like the Love of God and His Faithfulness for our life. He pours out unfailing and lavish amounts and those who remain in position of righteousness will experience every precious drop. How do we remain righteous? Our only obligation is to love others as Christ loves us. He gave His Life. He laid it down for other people – we need to be inconvenienced, interrupted and engaged in friendship to do His Will, please the Lord and be blessed. We must learn to live as dear friends even if that means being a giver instead of a taker. Real love is what God is after. Real love requires hand time, face time, and heart time with each other in a real and tangible way off the Internet and hanging up the phone. Three times I have received messages from three godly ladies this week that have touched my heart, renewed my strength, revived my spirit and reminded me of God’s Great Love. He touched me through them otherwise I would still be weak and struggling. God wants to bless you today through friendship. Are you willing to be that dear friend?

Luke 16:9 (NLT)
Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

I came across the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. (Luke 16:1-8) I do not recall ever seeing this before or it was so long ago, I had forgotten. Anyway, the man’s boss had found out that he had not be honorable in his dealings and was preparing to fire the man. The business owner decided to oversee the man’s dealings. Each person who came in to pay his debt, the shrewd manager cut his bill in half. Time and time again with each client. Though the boss was not enthused by the man’s cutting of his profits, he was impressed with the man’s dealings. The unethical employee knew that his days on his job were numbered so he treated other with the kindness that he would soon need. Please understand what you think you have to lose in friendship is nothing compared to the welcome you will receive when you enter Heaven as not only a Child of God but His Friend, too. I have always told my children to never burn their bridges. Leave a door open when you leave in case you must return one day. My father gave me that advice and I have used it many times in my life. We must approach every person we come in contact with in this life as a dear friend to fulfill our obligation to the Lord. But more than that, there will be a blessing in our worship.

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT)
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

I am not advocating shutting off all your social media just trying to have as much “face-time” as you do Facebook, talking instead of tweeting, and making memories in person not images on Instagram. Jesus Christ has given us a brand new life with only one string attached – love. How hard is that? Not very, we give our love to many things in this world unworthily if we decided to take half of it back we would be closer to Christ and others than ever before. We must make better choices in our friendships. Sadly, I have been in more broken churches than successfully ministries. Could it be that we have forgotten how friendship works? Perhaps the Body of Christ would thrive and grow if our people learned to love each other despite imperfection, brokenness, and the past. We don’t all have to worship God the same way in the same building as long as we agree there is one true God. His Son, Jesus Christ died and rose again to save us, heal us and deliver us. He is the ONLY WAY to get to Heaven. The Holy Spirit has been given to us with the true Word of God to empower us and sustain us from here to forever. Our faith has set us free to become friends of God through the Righteousness given to us as a gift. In that right standing, we can now please God His Way by loving each other no matter who our pastor is or the where we go to “church”. I want those friends. I have those friends. I need to be that friend. Dear Friends, I must fulfill my obligation to love and thank you to those who have for me.

I John 2:7-8 (NLT)
Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.