THE FRIENDSHIP FACTOR (Part 1)
By Pastor Daniel Harman on INTERNATIONAL FRIENDSHIP DAY
MEDIA CLIP: Ice Age, Lethal Weapon or Friends
OPENING SONG: I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU (FRIENDS THEME TUNE)or YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND (Nat King Cole) or LEAN ON ME
Anagrams: DR FINE HIPS / RED FISH PIN (used for youth congregation to guess what sermon was about, not used in adult service)
Aim: encourage people to see the importance of building friendships, investing time in relationships, cultivating a ‘friendship factor’ in the church.
How many of you want to live a long & healthy life? How many of you would like to have a positive INFLUENCE on the lives of those around you? How many of you want to be the ‘best friend’ that you could possibly be? Today I’m going to be talking about Friendship. We’ll be looking at What Friendship is defined as, Friendships in the Bible, The Healthy Benefits of Friendship & How Friendship Can Change Lives
WORLD WAR 1 FRIENDS – Powerful Illustration
Out of the furnaces of war come many true stories of sacrificial friendship. One such story tells of two friends in World War I, who were inseparable. They had enlisted together, trained together, were shipped overseas together and fought side-by-side in the trenches. During an attack, one of the men was critically wounded in a field filled with barbed wire obstacles, and he was unable to crawl back to his foxhole. The entire area was under a withering enemy crossfire, and it was suicidal to try to reach him. Yet his friend decided to try. Before he could get out of his own trench, he sergeant yanked him back inside and ordered him not to go. "It’s too late. You can’t do him any good and you’ll only get yourself killed."
A few minutes later, the officer turned his back, and instantly the man was gone after his friend. A few minutes later, he staggered back, mortally wounded, with his friend, now dead, in his arms. The sergeant was both angry and deeply moved. "What a waste," he blurted out. "He’s dead and you’re dying. It just wasn’t worth it."
With almost his last breath, the dying man replied, "Oh, yes, it was, Sarge. When I got to him, the only thing he said was, ‘I knew you’d come, Jim!"
One of the true marks of a friend is that he is there when there is every reason for him not to be, when to be there is SACRIFICIALLY COSTLY.
GENESIS – IT’S GOOD, IT’S GOOD, IT’S NOT GOOD!
Throughout Genesis we read, ‘and God saw that it was good.’ It is a recurring theme – that is, until God created Adam. Then He said: ‘It isn’t good for…man to live alone…’ (2v18) Think: even though the fall had not yet happened and Adam was enjoying uninterrupted communion with His Creator, because he was without human companionship God said it was not good. Inside every one of us there is a void that only God can fill. But there is also a people-shaped void that God will not fill. And nothing else can either – not jobs, houses, cars, or money. The One who created you for connection says, ‘Do not be interested only in your own life…be interested in…others’ (Philippians 2:4 NCV). So, the answer to loneliness can be found in reaching out; in finding an unmet need and pouring ourselves into it.
HEALTHY BENEFITS OF FRIENDSHIP
A in depth study revealed that people with friends enjoy better health, live longer, are happier and find greater fulfilment in life. Time spent with friends will ENRICH our lives & make us healthier – it acts as medicine to help boost the immune system against both physical & mental illness. On the other hand, the study indicates that the more isolated the person, the poorer the health & the higher the death rate.
Definitions / What is Friendship (Are you that kind of friend?):
Our culture seeks to redefine almost everything, including what it means to be, or have, a “friend.” Many who say to us, “I want to be your friend,” do not really know what this requires. Every person needs a friend and, in turn, to be a friend to others. But what does this word mean??
INTERACTION POINT – How Would You Personally Define Friendship?
A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:
"One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable."
"One who understands our silence."
"A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
The winning definition read: "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out."
Oprah Winfrey says, ’Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who’ll take the bus with you when the limo breaks down!’ Real friendship is about being more concerned with the other person’s well being than about your own.
True friendship is like a star, You don’t see it’s light in the brightness of prosperity But in the darkness of adversity."
A friend is someone who thinks you’re a good egg, even though you’re a little cracked. Erma Bombeck
William Ward says, ‘A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognises your disabilities but emphasises your possibilities.’
There’s no better description of a friend than that given by Margery Williams in ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’: ’What is real?’ asked the rabbit. ’Does it mean having things that buzz inside you or a stick-out handle?’ ’Real isn’t how you were made,’ said the skin horse, ’It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. It doesn’t happen all at once. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been rubbed off, your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don’t really matter, because once you are real, you can never be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’
Examples of Friendship:
INTERACTION POINT – What Examples of Friendship are their in the Bible?
Jesus placed great value on relationships. The Bible tells us that he spent much of his time deepening relationships with a few -- not the crowds! His teachings are filled with practical suggestions on how to be a friend and how to have healthy relationships.
David & Jonathan, Ruth & Naomi, Paul & Barnabas, Moses & Joshua, Abraham & God, Jesus & 12 disciples (inner 3), Jeremiah & Baruch
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
How Friendship Saved a Life
One day, Christopher Kerr was walking home from high school when he noticed another student from his class also walking home from school but carrying all his books. Christopher wondered why anybody would bring their books home on a weekend. Why study when there were parties to be had and football games to be played?
Some other kids must have been thinking along the same lines. They ran at the boy, knocked all his books out of his arms and tripped him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, landing a bout ten feet away in the grass. The boy looked up and with a terrible sadness in his eyes. Christopher’s heart went out to him. He jogged over, picked up the boy’s glasses and handed them back to him. He helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, his name was Kyle and he lived near Chris. They’d never met because Kyle had only recently switched from a private school to Chris’ school. The boys talked all the way home, and a friendship was begun. Chris invited Kyle to play football on Saturday with his friends. They spent most of the weekend together and Kyle became part of Chris’ friendship circle.
Over the next four years, Chris and Kyle became best friends. Kyle also went on to do very well academically and to be very popular. Graduation day Kyle was class valedictorian. As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.
"Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach... but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story."
Kyle told the story of that first day he met Chris. He was carrying his books home because he had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He had cleaned out his locker so his mum wouldn’t have to do it later. He looked hard at Chris and said "Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable."
A gasp went through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy shared about his weakest moment. And a gasp went through Chris. Not until that moment did he realise the significance of their first encounter.
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.
PORTRATE OF A FRIEND
1 Chronicles 27v25-34 – As I read through this chuck of scripture my eyes moved down the list of the officials who performed important tasks for King David. Azmaveth, son of Adiel, was in charge of the royal storehouses. Ezri, son of Kelub, supervised the field-workers who farmed the land. Jaziz the Hagrite took care of the flocks. Jehiel, son of Hacmoni, took care of the king’s sons. Ahithophel served as the king’s counsellor. Joab commanded the royal army. Then right down the bottom in verse 33 it says…’Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend.’
The king’s friend?
Why is Hushai the Arkite listed among those who bore heavy responsibilities in David’s kingdom? Was he a relative who deserved mention? No. Did he pay David some bribe or special favour to be close to the king? Nothing on this charge either.
Apparently, David wanted at least one man among his trusted advisers who was simply a friend. And Hushai fit that role very well. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from Hushai about being a good friend.
Things had been going pretty well for the king. Since defeating the Jebusites and conquering Jerusalem, King David had experienced nothing but success. Hiram, the king of Tyre, had built him a grand palace. David’s wives continued to bear many sons and daughters.
One by one, David and his army had beaten his enemies and acquired their lands, weapons, and soldiers. And God had promised David that his kingdom and throne would be established forever. What more could a man ask for? Yet something important was missing from David’s life at a time when he desperately needed it: a friend.
David’s dear friend Jonathan was gone, and he felt the loss keenly.
In Jonathan, David lost someone whose heart beat with his, a steadfast companion who had served him loyally during the years of flight from King Saul. Without Jonathan’s help, David might not have escaped Saul’s jealous grasp. But that friendship had come to an end when Saul and Jonathan fell together in battle on Mount Gilboa.
David needed a friend. Not just a friend in name, but someone who, like Jonathan, would be there to ENCOURAGE and HELP him. Hushai became that kind of friend.
Although Scripture doesn’t have a great deal to say about him, Hushai proved his friendship in a time of severe trial, when Absalom usurped David’s reign of Israel (see 2 Samuel 15–18).
Absalom had just seized power, forcing David and his allies into exile. They had been fleeing from Jerusalem most of the day, a situation David had experienced when Saul had hunted him in his younger years.
But this time it was different. Now the enemy chasing David was his own son. David and his followers wept as they walked along and covered their heads. As they ascended the Mount of Olives, who was there to meet David at the summit? Hushai the Arkite
2 Sam. 15:32 – “When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head.”
What was Hushai doing there? The place where he met David was a special place to worship God. This verse says that Hushai’s robe was torn and that he had dust on his head. There is no doubt what he was doing: MOURNING for the hardships in David’s life and bringing his friend before God in PRAYER.
Hushai willingly entered into David’s troubles and allowed himself to feel what his friend was feeling. But he didn’t stop there. Hushai then lifted his friend up to God in PRAYER, knowing that He was the one who could help and comfort David in his day of distress.
David had some clear but dangerous instructions for his friend Hushai during their meeting on the Mount of Olives:
2 Samuel 15v34 - "Return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice"
David wanted Hushai to go back into enemy headquarters, persuade Absalom of his new allegiance, and spy on David’s behalf.
This was a risky request for Hushai to consider. He knew Absalom was aware of his deep friendship with David. Absalom could have Hushai killed on the spot before he could utter a word. But how did Hushai respond?
2 Samuel 15v37 - ‘So David’s friend Hushai arrived at Jerusalem as Absalom was entering the city.’
He went directly to Jerusalem, arriving just as Absalom entered the city
It seems Hushai RESPONDED WITHOUT HESITATION to David’s request.
He was SACRIFICIALLY SERVING!
In 2 Samuel 17, we see another attribute of Hushai’s friendship. In verse 5, Absalom asked Hushai for his advice about whether Absalom’s army should immediately pursue David. At this point Hushai wholeheartedly used his gifts and abilities to help his friend.
Hushai went to great rhetorical lengths to persuade Absalom not to pursue David right away. Instead, he urged Absalom to wait and gather a larger force of men before attacking. Hushai was obviously a gifted speaker, and he pulled out all the stops. He described David and his men as "a wild bear robbed of her cubs" (v. 8). Then he said that Absalom would need to "fall on him as dews settles on the ground" (v. 12), implying that Absalom would need a massive number of troops to accomplish his mission. With rhetoric like this, almost anyone would have followed Hushai’s advice.
Hushai wholeheartedly used his gifts to help his friend. God used Hushai’s efforts to save David from certain defeat that day. The extra time gave David and his men a chance to escape, refresh themselves, and regroup before they met Absalom’s army in battle. David’s army triumphed over Absalom’s, and David returned to his throne. He couldn’t have done it without his friend Hushai the Arkite.
Conclusion / What You’ve Learnt:
- God said ‘It’s not good for man (us) to be alone’
- People with friends enjoy BETTER HEALTH, LIVE LONGER, are HAPPIER & find GREATER FULFILLMENT in life
- Jesus placed great value on relationships
- How Friendship Can Impact the Lives of Others
- Friendship has the capacity to Save Lives!
- Portrait of a Friend
– Hushai was: Burden Bearing, Sacrificial & Giving
Challenge / What about us?
Most of us don’t have friends who are kings or queens. But we do know people who face hardships or discouraging circumstances and need our support. They are tempted to make wrong decisions sexually, financially, and ethically. Each needs a loyal friend, just as King David did.
How can you be a "Hushai" to someone who needs a good friend?
Are you willing to walk into hardships to encourage, offer comfort, and pray? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, resources, energy, or maybe even put your life on the line to help a friend in need? Are you using your gifts and abilities to help your friend?
Each of us has an opportunity to be a "Hushai" today. Take a careful look at your friendships at church, at work, or in your neighbourhood. Consider who needs your friendship and encouragement. You may not save a kingdom. But you may carry a friend through tough times, protect her from a poor decision, or inspire him to be all God wants him to be. Hushai was that kind of friend to David. Whose "Hushai" are you?
Be ENCOURAGED today by the fact that YOU HAVE the GREATEST FRIEND OF ALL ON YOUR SIDE! Jesus loved us so much that He went to the cross for us. He gave up His life so that we might live. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
OPTIONAL ENDING: 2 weeks prior to speaking collect details / testimonial slips from congregation with comments, words of thanks & appreciation about their friends who will be at church. Show PowerPoint to honour people with song about friendship in background. No need for end song.
Suggested worship song to tie in with theme of service: What A Friend I’ve Found (Delirious aka Cutting Edge), Best Friend (Hillsong UNITED), What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Joseph M.Scriven 1820-1886)
Note: this sermon was designed with a Powerpoint Presentation (visual aid) to help enhance learning - I’ve found that this is especially effective for those who are visual learners by nature.
Furthermore, at times I will encourage the congregation to participate vocally by repeating certain key phrases or answering questions relating to the topic. I do this to help keep the audience alert & make them feel involved PLUS it’s proven that doing this can enhance what people retain. However, I do understand that this is not always appropriate & can be very difficult with certain congregations.
The Friendship Page includes the date for the next International Friendship Day - http://www.friendship.com.au/