IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MAN TO BE ALONE (Part 3 of THE FRIENDSHIP FACTOR)
Dan Harman www.CityMinistries.org.uk
See ’The Friendship Factor - Part 1) for media suggestions (relevant songs, film clips)
Re-cap of Part 1 & 2: David & Hushai, Ruth & Naomi
How many of you want to want to have people in your life that you can open up to and just be yourself without fear of rejection? Someone who LOVES you, ACCEPTS you and makes you feel like you BELONG? How many of you enjoy being around someone who you can TRUST and share your struggles & victories with?
How many of you learn how you can be an even better friend to those around you? How many of you want to make a IMPACT for Christ in the lives of those around you? How many of you would like to know how to prevent valuable relationships from ending? How many would like to GROW even more in your faith?
This morning’s sermon about FRIENDSHIP helps to engage all of these NEEDS & DESIRES. We’re going to be looking at ‘WHAT FRIENDSHIP IS, the BENEFITS of Friendship & How friendship can change your life, the churches life & those people who are in YOUR world! & How we can prevent relationships from failing.
PERSONAL TESTIMONY – There’s been many times in life that I’ve felt like giving up, that I’ve felt like jacking it all in & moving away for an easy life in Hawaii. There’s been many times I’ve felt like life was too much to bare & I couldn’t take much more. There’s been many times I’ve felt like a failure, left questioning my calling & purpose in life – but I’ve held in their, kept on keeping on WHY???…one of the BIGGEST reasons is because of the FRIENDSHIP, COMPANIONSHIP & support that my FRIENDS have given me! Somehow when you have friends around you, even in the deepest depths of despair and discouragement, it gives you a BOOST to make it through! I’m so grateful that God has blessed me with so many friends.
Q.) How many of you can relate to that? When you’ve felt really down, your friends provided you with the ENCOURAGEMENT you needed to carry on?
Without a doubt: 2 is better than 1! Because when one falls, the other is there to lift him up. I firmly believe that one of the vehicles that God uses to take care of us is FRIENDSHIP.
"We can get mighty rich, but if we haven’t any friends, we will find we are poorer than anybody." Will Rogers
Because friends accept us for whom we are, we gain the confidence to dream great dreams—and to make them real. Friends liven up our days with their twisted HUMOUR, and their HONEST answers. We can even TRUST them with our most embarrassing secrets! What a relief it is for us to REVEAL our true selves to someone!
It’s no wonder, then, that MEDICAL RESEARCH have found that those who have friends tend to be HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, and LIVE LONGER than those who do not.
Solid scientific evidence indicates that friendship can extend life. People with plentiful social support have stronger immune systems and are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other types of mental illness. Having friends helps lower a persons stress levels.
In a Yale University study of 194 heart attack patients, those who reported emotional support were three times more likely to be alive six months after their attack than subjects who had no support.
Friendship is a POWERFUL thing that has numerous PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL benefits.
“True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.” Charles Caleb Colton (19thc minister, writer)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that a friend is “one attached to another by affection or esteem”. I’m sure you’ll agree with that definition, but there is so much more to add to it if you want to find friends that you can have a long lasting, mutually beneficial, relationship with.
Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.
Prov 18v24 (MSG) FAITHFULNESS & COMMITMENT
"Everyone hears what you say.
Friends listen to what you say.
Best friends listen to what you
“Many people will walk in and out of your life; but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart."
A Friend should be Radical;
They should love you when you’re unlovable,
Hug you when you’re unhuggable,
And bear you when you’re unbearable.
A Friend should be Fanatical;
They should cheer when the whole world boos,
Dance when you get good news,
And cry when you cry too.
But most of all, a Friend should be Mathematical,
They should multiply the joy, Divide the sorrow,
Subtract the past, And add to tomorrow.
Calculate the need deep in your heart,
And always be bigger than the sum of all their parts.
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one
day, so I never have to live without you.” -- Winnie the Pooh’s comment about friendship
Two men were out hunting in the northern U.S. Suddenly one yelled and the other looked up to see a grizzly charging them. The first started to frantically put on his tennis shoes and his friend anxiously asked, “What are you doing? Don’t you know you can’t outrun a grizzly bear?”
“I don’t have to outrun a grizzly. I just have to outrun you!”
THE UNFRIENDLY BUSINESSMAN
A man arriving at an airport saw a well-dressed businessman (a professing Christian) yelling at a porter about the way he was handling his luggage. The angrier the businessman became the calmer the porter remained. After the businessman left, the first man complimented the porter on his restraint: ’Oh, it was nothing,’ he said. ’You know, that man’s going to Miami, but his bags - they are going to Kalamazoo.’
Here we see 2 pictures of what friendship should not be! But I’m sure that we’ve all encountered people who didn’t have a clue about what true friendship is all about.
Friends are our truest treasures. How many times have they: Made us laugh when we felt like crying over a bad mistake? Made us feel loved when our boyfriends (or girlfriends) broke up with us?
Like armour, good friends make us almost invincible, capable of warding off the blows life occasionally deals us. Because of their steadfastness, we see setbacks for what they are: temporary.
Inside each of us there is a need to feel loved, accepted and included. There is a desire for encouragement, intimacy & belonging. We all have a NEED for friends that we can TRUST & RELY on in the storms of life. Someone to share our lives with. I sure there’s not one person in here that doesn’t desire a long, healthy & fulfilled life! We all crave more out of our lives & to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us.
FRIENDSHIP is the miracle that helps to turn these DESIRES into REALITY!
How many of you remember the Carole King song, “You’ve Got a Friend”?
You just call out my name,
And you know wherever I am,
I’ll come runnin’,
To see you again.
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall,
All you got to do is call,
And I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend.
The idea of the song is that a friend is always AVAILABLE.
THERE ARE OTHER WORLDS TO SING IN
His name was Paul. He lived in a small town in the Pacific Northwest some years ago. He was just a little boy when his family became the proud owners of one of the first telephones in the neighbourhood. It was one of those wooden boxes attached to the wall with the shiny receiver hanging on the side of the box... and the mouthpiece attached to the front. Young Paul listened with fascination as his mom and dad used the phone... and he discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device called a telephone lived an amazing person.
Her name was “Information Please”... and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anybody’s number... and the correct time! Paul’s first personal experience with “Information Please” came one day when he was home alone and he whacked his finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible and he didn’t know what to do... and then he thought of the telephone. Quickly, he pulled a footstool up to the phone, climbed up, unhooked the receiver, held it to his ear and said: “Information Please” into the mouthpiece. There was a click or two and then a small clear voice spoke: “Information.” “I hurt my finger,” Paul wailed into the phone. “Isn’t your mother home?” “Nobody’s home but me,” Paul cried. “Are you bleeding?” “No,” Paul said. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.” “Can you open your ice-box?” “Yes.” “Then go get some ice and hold it to your finger.” Paul did and it helped a lot.
After that Paul called “Information Please for everything. She helped him with his geography and his math. She taught him how to spell the word “fix.” She told him what to feed his pet chipmunk. And then when Paul’s pet canary died, she listened to his grief tenderly and then said: “Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.” Somehow that helped and Paul felt better.
When Paul was nine years old, he moved with his family to Boston... and as the years passed he missed “Information Please” very much. Some years later as Paul was on his way out west to go to college, his plane landed in Seattle. He dialed his hometown operator and said, “Information Please.” Miraculously, he heard that same small clear voice that he knew so well. “Information.” Paul hadn’t planned this, but suddenly he blurted out: “Could you please tell me how to spell the word “fix?” There was a long pause. Then came the soft answer: “I guess your finger must be all healed by now.” Paul laughed. “So it’s really still you. Do you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time when I was a little boy?” “I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me! I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls so much.”
Paul told her how much he had missed her over the years and asked her if he could call her again when he was back in the area. “Please do,” she said, “just ask for Sally.” Three months later, Paul was back in Seattle. This time a different voice answered. He asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” the operator asked. “Yes, a very old friend.” Paul answered. “Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died 5 weeks ago.” Before he could hang up, the operator said: “Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?” “Yes.” “Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you. It says: ‘When Paul calls, tell him that I still say: there are other worlds to sing in.’ He will know what I mean.” Paul thanked her and hung up and he did know what Sally meant.
Sometimes we fail to see how life changing our friendships can be!
FRIENDSHIP POEM by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
If nobody smiled and nobody cheered
and nobody helped us along;
If every man looked after himself
and good things all went to the strong;
If nobody cared just a little for you,
and nobody thought about me
And we all stood alone in the battle of life,
what a dreary old world this would be!
Life is sweet because of the friends we’ve made.
All things in common we share.
We want to live on, not because of ourselves,
but because of the people who care.
It’s giving and doing for somebody else –
on that all life’s splendor depends;
And the joy of the world when you sum it all up,
is formed in the making of friends.
GOD’S WORD ON FRIENDSHIP
Ecclesiastes 4v9-12 (NIV)
“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!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4v12a (MSG)
“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst…”
In Genesis 2v18 (NKJV) we read that God said in Genesis ‘It is not good that man should be alone…’
There are advantages to having true friends. Life is designed for companionship, not isolation, for intimacy, not loneliness. Some people prefer isolation, thinking that they cannot trust anyone. We are here not on earth to serve ourselves, but to serve God and others. This verse encourages us NOT to isolate ourselves and go it alone; but to SEEK COMPANIONSHIP and be a Team Player!
1 WAY OF IMPROVING YOUR CHANCES OF MAKING FRIENDS – SMILE!!!
It takes less muscles to smile than to frown & it also will help to keep you young!
"A happy heart makes the face cheerful!" Prov. 15:13 (NIV),
2 Cor. 3:18 (our faces should reflect God’s glory!)
A loving heart and a friendly smile go a long way to communicate the love of Christ to the people we meet each day. May they say of us, as they did of little Wesley, “Ever smiling, he makes friends wherever he goes.” — DCM
Some religious leaders were surprised when Jesus openly associated with people they considered undesirable. They said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16). Yet Jesus was known as the friend of sinners. He said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (v.17).
The Apostle Paul travelled widely, but he frequently kept in touch with friends. Almost all of his letters end with greetings and plans to visit.
MORE VERSES ??? OPTIONAL
WHY DO FRIENDSHIPS END
God uses our relationships to TEST and GROW our faith. How well do you do with your relationship with others? Some say that most relationship problems are caused from a lack of relationship, a lack of closeness with others. The conclusion is that if we get to know each other better then we’ll get along better. However, this is not always the case.
Many people part company after years of having a close friendship. After knowing each other in the most intimate way husbands and wives still divorce. In fact, after we have spent time getting to know someone well, we actually are heavily armed to ruin the relationship if we want. In other words, we know their weaknesses and what buttons to push to rattle their chain.
I agree that relationships are very important. However, until we have a proper RELATIONSHIP with CHRIST our relationship with each other has a strong potential of conflict and separation.
No matter how well we get along, and no matter how long we’ve been friends, if either of us are not bearing the fruit of the Spirit then the relationship can blow apart at any moment over the smallest of offenses.
To have a proper relationship with Christ means that we are walking in step with His Spirit (Galatians 5:25). We step where Christ’s Spirit would have us step. When we are bearing the fruit of Spirit-filled life, think of all the worldly tendencies that are cast out! Pride, fear, jealously, anger, hostility, resentment, insecurity, gossip, hatred, etc.
One minister quotes ‘Do your friends a favour, get closer to Christ!’ Those around you deserve a great friend, a friend who will treat them like Christ would want them to be treated.
There would be a lot less strife, arguments, misunderstandings, divorces and church fights if we would each deepen our relationship with Christ.
I believe authentic Spirit-led Christians make the BEST friends! Why? Because they take friendship seriously. They operate in the Spirit rather than in the flesh. When conflicts comes, they handle them with love, forgiveness and mercy by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
When the devil temps them to be mad, hold a grudge or gossip about others they are in conflict with, they refuse, and instead begin covering the relationship with prayer.
As Christians we are accountable to the Lord for our actions, especially how we treat others in God’s family. To have the relationship with others that lasts we must first have a healthy relationship with the Lord.
For example, when a husband and wife treat each other with the love of Christ, they are willing to seek forgiveness and to forgive rather than holding a bitter grudge.
Like Abraham before we call anyone our friends, we must first be sure we are called God’s friend (James 2:23).
We become friends of Christ when we do what He says. “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).
“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray”
Since the way of the wicked can easily lead us astray, friendship with those who are not walking in step with Jesus can get us out of step, too! Be careful.
I would never suggest that we forfeit the opportunities to make friends and introduce people to Christ. Certainly we must. But before we do, we must make sure we are a friend of God’s. We must be sure we are well-grounded in our relationship with Christ, doing what He says before we establish our friendships with others.
This may answer the question that I’ve been asked over the years, a question that may still be bothering you. Why do people walk out of friendships? Remember I began by saying that God uses our relationships with others to test and grow our faith? Often we simply flunk! Sometimes, instead of taking the test, enduring and growing, we skip out of class! We often think that it is easier to change friends than to change our hearts toward others, but it’s not!
Today, friend, consider your friends. Are you really being Christ to your friends? Christ laid down his life for His friends. Do you love your friends this much? Stop doubting the benefits in your friends and extend the benefit of the doubt. After all, don’t you want to pass the test? Can you love your friends when they betray you as Judas betrayed Jesus? Can you love your friends when they deny you like Peter denied Christ?
Deepen your relationship with Christ, then go out and be a Spirit- led friend to others!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for strengthening our walk with You so that we can strengthen others. Forgive us when we are only thinking about ourselves. Help us be a true Spirit-led friend to those You’ve put in our lives. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, AMEN!
FRIENDSHIP IN THE BALANCE! (use @ END)
As a New York skyscraper went up, hundreds paused daily to glance up at it. One day they watched a ponderous metal beam go up to take its place in the steel skeleton. As the girder came near, a workman leaned out from the sixteenth floor to seize it. The spectators gasped as he lost his balance and fell. Desperately, he clutched the girder’s end with arms and legs. The ground crew stopped the hoisting engine, but the man’s weight at one end began to tilt the beam to a vertical position, which would eventually cause him to lose his grasp and fall to his death.
With swift decision, another worker on the same floor, seeing his friend’s predicament, leaped through space and landed on the other end, where his weight leveled the beam. Amid the applause of the crowd, both men were safely lowered to the street.
Every day people around us lose their balance on moral questions -- they consider having an affair with a co-worker, taking company funds, lying to close a deal, toying with drugs and alcohol.
Wrong decisions may hurt them and their families for years and cost their souls in Eternity. They need friends interested in helping them keep their balance, by exemplary lives, by sacrificial living, by speaking a word for Christ. Here no one applauds, but it will be worth it all when we receive the approval of the Master. (1 Cor. 4:5)
Live your life in the manner to which Christ lived and others are sure to take notice.
In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with. -- Brian Tracy
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY @ YOUR FUNERAL?
I have a very sobering question for you…What will people say at your funeral? Will they describe you as kind and compassionate? Will they talk about missing the best friend they ever had? You may think that your eulogy is beyond your reach, but it isn’t. You’re writing it today – in the hearts of those around you.
Be encouraged to INVEST time in BUILDING relationships with others & your life & the lives of your friends will never be the same!
Over the next week I have 2 tasks for you…
- TASK 1 - Write some words of appreciation to a close friend expressing what their friendship means to you. I’ve prepared some Handouts to make this easy with a Christian Poem to go with it OR you may desire to buy card from the bookstall instead?
- TASK 2 (Within the next 7 days) - invite someone from church over for dinner or out for a meal that you’ve never done this with before (or over for a coffee if money is an issue). If you’re not quite sure who to ask, seek God about who He wants you to invite.
Let’s strive to be a church that’s BURSTING with friendships! The friendliest place in our community, where people can come & feel: loved, accepted & supported. A place where people can come & ‘get connect’ & easily make new friends.
I have a vision of seeing a church where it’s members enjoy LONG, HEALTHY & FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIPS. Together we can make it happen!!