There is a song that has these words.
James Taylor wrote:
In my mind I'm gone to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine?
Can't you just feel the moonshine?
And, ain't it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind?
Yes, I'm gone to Carolina in my mind
In his mind Carolina was an escape place when his friend had betrayed him.
“aint it just like a friend of mine shows that often his deepest friendships end in betrayal.
Not a great thing really. Going to Carolina in his mind was a very short term solution.
We all need friends but friends – indeed most friendships, can end in disappointment and often tears.
I heard the story of two friends who were camping in the woods. As they were having their morning coffee, they heard rustling in the bushes. Coming toward them at full speed was a very large grizzly bear with a very hungry look on his face. One of them started pulling on his running shoes. His buddy turned to him and said, "You don't think you can outrun that grizzly bear, do you?"
"No," the man said. "I don't need to. All I have to do is outrun you."
That is how a lot of so-called friends are. They run away at the first sign of difficulty. It has been said, "A friend is one who walks in when others walk out."
Proverbs chapter 18 24 says New International Version
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
In fact how we choose our friends is really important – The bible has plenty to say about that.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Psalm 26:4-5 I did not sit with liars, and I will not be found among hypocrites. I have hated the mob of evildoers and will not sit with wicked people.
1Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Our friends are important and if we choose well then we walk in a place of blessing.
David – in the bible made friends with Johnathon and their friendship was of the highest quality – but eventually Johnathon died and again David finds him self without the true and deep friend that Johnathon was.
We read. 1 Samuel 18English Standard Version (ESV)
David and Jonathan's Friendship
18 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
The connection between Johnathon and David was at the deepest level – their souls were knit together .
More than that it was covenanted that is they vowed to keep the friendship there is something deeply spiritual like this and it is for this spiritual quality that you need to choose your friends very carefully . Booker Washington said “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone then in bad company.”
This knitting together not only will make you more powerful in what you are doing it will influence your life greatly. “You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.”
It doesn’t matter though who you are in the world sometimes you can feel that – right now – in the midst of what you are going through – You need a friend!!.
Caroline Beaton an American Psychologist discovered The General Social Survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. “Zero” is the most common number of confidants, reported by almost a quarter of those surveyed. Likewise, the average number of people Americans feel they can talk to about ‘important matters’ has fallen from three to two.
Mysteriously, loneliness appears most prevalent among millennials.
loneliness is contagious. A 2009 study discovered People who aren’t lonely tend to then become lonelier if they’re around people who are.
Loneliness is epidemic – I was in Dunedin by a busstop on Thursday about six people at the bus stop five of them were on their phones – we live in the most connected society ever – many people have 5 or 600 friends on facebook – but suicide is epidemic and people have less friends than in 1948 – What is going on.
My only conclusion is People need a friend.
I am sure that there are many different conclusions we can make sociologically,Spiritual – Psychological and demographic conclusions - but my thesis this morning when you get one friend sorted all the other friendships get sorted.
We stayed in a motel in Dunedin and the young Philipino woman who worked at the reception made a connection with me because of the limited Phillipino language I could speak with her. As time went on I discovered she was employed 84 hours a week for a very small wage. She got one day off a week. I went to bed troubled about her and in the morning I decided that I should get up and share the gospel with her.
Come the morning I went to the office and discovered she was a born again Christian. She told me that there was another Christian on the cleaning staff – but because of her situation I offered to pray and she gladly accepted that offer. As we concluded that prayer she was so greatful and I realised that she was isolated and almost friendless. We do need friends.
The greatest human friendships in the bible – Abraham and Sarah – David and Johnathon – Jesus and John – All of these friendships are second tier friendships. In every case the first tier friendship was with God.
Abaham and Sarah may have been close but Abraham was closer to God. David was described as one who was after God’s own heart and Jesus and the Father were one.
The key, it seems, to good human friendships is making that friendship secondary to your relationship with God.
John 15:15New International Version (NIV)
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.
The question I would like to extract from the bible this morning is how can Jesus’ be my close friend and how should I conduct myself in that friendship.
The entry point of any discussion about friendship – for example a husband and wife – is where did you meet and when did you meet?
If we make Jesus the cornerstone of our life then we may find it a lot easier with our more earthly friends.
There once was a young man called Joseph – Joseph had 11 brothers and the family was well, modern in structure! God was his primary friend
We discover That God had given him a dream and he was never to give up on it.
The first thing we need to do is to be friends of God.
I met a pastor this week who was celebrating fellowship as the key to Christianity – he thought that good fellowship was everything. Well the bible just clarifies that a little. The number one relationship – friendship we need to get right and maintain properly is our relationship with God. It is out of that relationship that our relationships and fellowship with others should flow.
Joseph’s relationship with God still depended on Grace but it was before Jesus died for him so it prophicies grace. Ours does not. Jesus has historically died for our sins we know it and it is our task to keep that relationship up to date.
The number one way of entering into a good friendship with Jesus is ensuring that our relationship is up to date. So many people today treat Jesus or God as their Pal and he is but he is also God. Presumption does not get you into heaven – an up to date relationship with God gets you into heaven.
The first thing in gaining and keeping Jesus as your friend is making sure your friendship is up to date.
That is why when Jesus tells about a publican and a Pharisee he highlights repentance and humility
Luke 18:9-14New International Version (NIV)
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Have you ever been at an event and seen someone behaving very badly – like scruffy shouting loudly and insulting the host? When we fail to recognise our need for grace then that is us. But if we are humble and sorry then I believe the Lord is pleased with us. Confession and seeking forgiveness are important parts of relating to Jesus as a friend. Liz Dunne is a good friend of mine – but when I crashed into her car in the church car park last year I still needed to deal with it or it would have damaged our relationship.
1 John 1 verse 9 says If we confess our sins He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to deliver us from all unrighteousness.
The second thing about having Jesus as your friend is spending time with him.
I have a number of friends and I make a point of prioritising time with them. There are a small number of friends who I try to spend time with – we visit them we text them -we share their tears and sorrows listen to their stories and they listen to ours - every now and then we need to ask their forgiveness and often their help and guidance. In the same way we also need to maintain our friendship with Jesus.
There are lots of guides on how to do this quiet times prayer worship and so on. But the key is really loving God.
You really spend time with those that you really understand and love. Deuteronomy chapter 6 v 4"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart
Jesus brings this right up to date for us when he says – Matthew chapter 22 4"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart
Now a relationship that is sustained with all your heart all your soul and all your might (translated lik3 all you’ve got!) Is very prominent in your life.
If I love God like that you will see that I love him I am giving all I have got to this relationship.
You will know that my relationship is great – because you won’t think I am a religious fruitcake – but you will think man that person really really loves God.
Jason De Rouchie wrote This truth means that every closet of our lives needs to be opened for cleaning, and every relationship in our lives must be influenced. This call to love God this way destroys any option of being one person at church and another person on a date. What you do on the internet needs to be just as pure as what you do in Bible-reading. The way we talk to our parents needs to be as wholesome as the way we talk to our pastors.
There needs to be an authentic love for God that starts with God-oriented affections, desires, and thoughts, that permeates our speaking and behavior, and then influences the way we spend our money and how we dress, and drive, and our forms of entertainment. Whether we’re eating or singing, jogging or blogging, texting or drawing, love for Yahweh — the one true triune God — is to be in action and seen.
The third rule of having a friendship with Jesus is Doing His stuff together.
John 4:34 NLT Jesus explained: My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from doing his work."
Now people often nourish themselves from all sorts of things that really are not God’s stuff. But Jesus did God’s work – regardless of personal risk or reputation or cost.
John Bunyan who lived in the 17 c (1628 – 1688 ) found his nourishment from doing the will of God.
Eric Liddell the Athlete who refused to run on Sunday said:- Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
Eric Liddell: You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe your dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job. So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.
John Bunyan was thrown into prison precisely because of his applied Christian faith.. The mere act of meeting together became unlawful for "Nonconformists".. And Bunyan was a prime target.
Only a tinker by trade, Bunyans sermons attracted tremendous crowds. The government jailed him in 1660 when he refused to quit preaching in exchange for freedom.The separation from his family proved nearly unbearable. "The parting with my wife and poor children hath oft been to me in this place as the pulling the flesh from my bones," Bunyan wrote."Those scriptures that I saw nothing in before were made in this place and state to shine upon me. … I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all times and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, as I have found him since I came in hither." His nourishment, his feeding was as Jesus said:- My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from doing his work. To have Jesus as a friend means our lives will be aligned with his program not ours.
When Joseph needed a friend then he knew just knew that God had his back – So that, when his brothers betrayed him – when he lost his Father and those he loved – When he had began to build a new life in a foreign land – but then was falsely accused and prosecuted as a sex offender – when he was betrayed in prison and eventually rescued and faced all the concerns of negotiating a nation through droughts and famines in Egypt – he had a friend higher than Pharoah his boss – his friend was God.
“You don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.”
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”