I started with Chris Jordan's sermon: i-Pray #3: What a Friend we Have in Jesus. Scripture is the same, maybe a phrase here and there, more so at the beginning. But this is a different sermon.
TITLE: My Friend Jesus 12-30-2013
TEXT: Romans 5:8-11 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
I. HE’S MY FRIEND
A. This passage contains one of the most amazing facts accomplished by Jesus’ death on the Cross!
1. There are other individuals in the Bible who were so blessed. But these people were stand outs. People chosen for special tasks it seems. Jesus –what He did blew the doors off –He opened it up for the regular Joe and Josephine.
2. There were others who were so favored as to be called God’s friend. Maybe you have heard tell of some of these individuals:
• Exodus 33:11 “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
• James 2:23 “Abraham was called a friend of God.”
• Jesus said to His disciples: John 15:15 “Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
3. But something marvelous happened round about Matthew 11 –Something a guy like me can relate to; --Something to which I think the whole world can relate.
4. Indeed, the only ones who can’t relate to this are those who won’t; --Those who think more of themselves than they should; --The high and mighty, if only in their own hearts; --Those who take so much pride in their intellectualism that they miss the forest for the trees.
5. What happened? Listen, this is one of my favorites. Matthew 11:18,19 …So people say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and people say, ‘Look at him! He eats too much …and he is a friend of … sinners.’
--I’ve redacted this verse only to lift up the points which personally relate to me.
6. Fellow stumbler, when I consider that Yeshua Ha Meshia condescend to be my friend I look to the sky and think Psalm 8:3-4 “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?”
7. Think about it! It is BECAUSE you are a sinner, Jesus has sought you out to be His friend. Whether you have had that initial encounter or not, friendship is His intention.
8. Why? You’ll find this incredible: He enjoys your company. He enjoys listening to you, your innermost thoughts, your joys, your hurts, your fears, your faith, your admission that you’ve messed up, your quest for direction…
9. What a mind-boggling thought! The same God who has countless billions of angels worshiping Him sixty seconds a minute, day and night,
--to whom the nations are but a drop in the bucket
--who knows all about every leaf on every tree in the world,
--This Jesus is anticipating your company
--Like it or not, you are very important to Him.
10. In fact, isn’t this the over-reaching message of the Bible? The story of THE God longing to have a personal friendship with human beings.
11. This friendship with God by spending time with Him in prayer, in the Word, in worship, in His love.
12. This takes place at Church, in your prayer closet, while you’re driving down the interstate, where ever it is you actually read the Bible, or anytime you have an intense conversation with him.
--I had one recently in the produce section of the grocery store.
TS. Since you can’t ring Him on His celly, since I have been unsuccessful at finding His real Facebook page, since I don’t know His e-mail address, I want to give you some starter steps on how to develop the most fantastic friendship you will ever know –Friendship with Jesus.
II. HEART TO HEART CONVERSATION
A. John 15:1-6 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
1. This remaining business Jesus is speaking of is a constant connection of the heart. How do you define that?
ILL. We asked Roy one night at small group to define “LOVE”. Quite honestly he became a bit flustered and said, “I don’t know what love is.”
2. If you can remember your first real love, how that person occupied you thoughts and subtract the sexual desire you felt, but keep the passion, maybe you are getting close to what Jesus is trying to describe when He talks to His disciples about remaining in Him.
3. His illustrates it with a branch of a vine being connected to the trunk.
--If you are not familiar with grape vines, it only takes a couple of weeks for the branch to become dry and brittle once it is separated from the vine.
--That’s a very accurate time frame description for followers of Jesus.
4. Do you pray in those crisis moments and hear nothing back? Do you see pitifully little actually happening when you pray? Do you look around your life and see little but the devil’s handy work?
5. Then Jesus words: …apart from me you can do nothing… hit you right between the eyes when you think about it don’t they?
III. CONTINUING EXPLORATION
A. John 15: 7,8 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
ILL. I’m a Cave Diver. I often dive caves I have been in before. Caves are convoluted, complex, there’s always something you haven’t seen, a passage you haven’t explored yet, a room you didn’t have the skill or training to reach yet. There is a Cave system in Central Florida just off the Santa Fe River called the Devil’s System. I don’t think it actually belongs to him though. There are some divers who are far more accomplished than me who have spent their entire cave-diving career exploring that system alone.
1. If that can be said about a cave, what can be said about something as miraculous as the Bible –this God breathed message from God.
2. It would be easy for someone like me to say, “I’ve read the Bible. I know all the stories. I know all the theological concepts. I’ve heard it all. I don’t need to mess with that book anymore.”
3. But if I did that, I would be severing one of the major fiber-optic cables through which Jesus said He would supernaturally and specifically communicate with His friends. …if … my words remain in you…
4. There’s only one way this happens. It happens when I get my nose in this book.
III. SOMETIMES I’M TALKING TO THE CEILING
A. Let me give you 5 main reason for this common sentiment:
1. We ask for something Jesus knows isn’t right for us. 1 John 5:14,15 14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
--The more we get to know Jesus, His heart, His plans for us, His desire and design for the World, the more confidence we will have in prayer.
2. We fail to ask at all, but blame Him for not providing anyway James 4:2 …you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
--How many times have you heard someone do this or do this yourself: You pray, but don’t really ask God to accomplish anything verifiable for His Kingdom’s sake.
--If God answered that prayer you just prayed, would you be able to tell the difference?
3. We ask with our rear-end sitting squarely on our shoulders. James 4:2, 3 Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
--Sometimes I’m blown away at the requests I hear.
–But it tells me a lot of people are secretly asking for crazy selfish stuff in their hearts;
--They just have the good sense not to verbalize it in public.
ILL. We all love John. We all understand he has a traumatic brain injury. We don’t have a clue as to what this has done to the inner workings of his thought process. We know that he is incapable of telling a lie. We know that like me, he sometimes lacks a filter on some of the things he says. This fact make me really, really like John. John has made great progress and has experienced great healing miracles. But there was a time when John would openly pray for a certain model of Porsche and a beautiful wife with Playboy magazine quality features. I would remind him of the extra responsibilities of a relationship with a woman and that some might even find this sort of woman to be “High Maintenance”. So John would quickly close his eyes and add, “Oh yes Jesus, and please don’t let her talk too much or think too much.” Now this would be comical to me had I not known actual men throughout the years, without brain injuries, who have prayed for the exact same thing. A couple of them have even tried to enlist my prayer support –no joke.
4. We don’t ask in Jesus’ name. Here is the chain of command. We approach the Father’s throne only because we are covered in the righteousness of Jesus the Christ.
--Once there, We are instructed to ask boldly in Jesus name –For the sake of Jesus cause on this Earth, please Heavenly Father, do this thing!
-- John 14:13-14 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
5. Obedience. Ouch. We want to have a good theology which at the very least minimizes the importance of obedience in our friendship with Jesus.
--Maybe if could maintain that positive attitude or reiterate those magic words. Obedience is too restrictive.
--We would never verbalize it like this. It sounds too stupid. But this is how we want to think when we are not thinking about it too hard.
--Deuteronomy 28:12-14 12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. 14 You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them…
--Listen to the flip-side -- if you do not obey: Deuteronomy 28:15ff 15 “But if you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you: 16 Your towns and your fields will be cursed. 17 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. 18 Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. 19 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed. 20 “The LORD himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me… 23 The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron. 24 The LORD will change the rain that falls on your land into powder, and dust will pour down from the sky until you are destroyed.
IV. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T FORGET…
A. John 15:9-11 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
1. I can’t get my mind around this one. My friend Jesus loves me as much as His Father in heaven loves Him.
2. Tell me again exactly…Why am I not spending more time with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Guy Who has the whole world in His hands…my personal friend, who loves me every bit as much as His Father loved Him?
3. Now if this were one of the questions you education people put in those IQ tests, I’d invest every dime in the company which manufactures the short school buses.
4. Oh, but I know it’s true! The Holy Spirit isn’t always a very loud and rowdy Fellow. But this thing He shouts in my ear. No hardship or persecution could ever drown it out: Jesus love me this I know! For the Bible tells me so.
--The Bible gives me countless examples of that love indeed.
5. But it is through the voice of the Holy Spirit my friend Jesus has come, sometimes in the hour of jubilation, sometimes in the darkest night to tell me personally, “Scott, I love you. You are my very good friend. I’m rooting for you to do the right thing here. I’m lifting your name before the throne of the Father. I’m in the fight with you Scott.”
6. He knows my name. Why He even knows how many hairs I have less, I mean left. Good-Luck Jesus keeping the tally on the ones which seem to be multiplying in my ears.
Jesus is all the world to me,
I want no better friend;
I trust him now, I'll trust him when
life's fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a friend,
beautiful life that has no end;
eternal life, eternal joy,
he's my friend.
B. John 15:12-15 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
1. This is what I came to tell you about. This is what my friend did for me. The scoffers and unbelievers thought His great act of love more my that dark Friday was a horrific defeat for His cause.
--It wasn’t the end of such a great love—it was only the end of the beginning.
2. Yes Jesus went down that day. He stooped down and picked up the heavy putrid cargo of my sin. He was the only Man of all time strong enough to handle that kind of weight.
3. He carried it down to the bowels of the earth, the lower regions to a place known as Hades, where so many demons lurked, why even the devil himself was there.
--Jesus dropped the load with a thud at the devil’s feet saying, this garbage belongs to you.
4. He went all through that morbid, dark, smelly, evil place unlocking all the doors, letting the light in, as the devil screamed who gave Him the keys?
5. Jesus said, I’ve had these in my pocket since the day I laid the earth’s foundation.
6. He took those keys and opened the door on every dungeon cell.
7. Then, with a voice which would drown Niagara Falls He began to speak. --It was a message this world had not yet heard. A message of grace, of redemption. It was an explanation of His sacrificial death on the cross.
8. But more than anything else, it was the message of the unfailing love of God who had not forgotten a single prisoner held in that place against their will.
9. It was a message of “Whosoever will…Come out of those filthy cells and follow me.
10. There is no other friend in this Universe who compares to my friend Jesus!
A. Through my voice, my friend Jesus is calling. He wants you as a friend.
(Invitation as the Spirit leads)