John 15:9-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
Love and Joy Perfected
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
"Let's be friends," said a 4-year old boy next door.
--"I'd love to!" I replied. His family just moved in.
--We were, for years. God wants all to be friends!
Friends are a blessing - whether casual, or close.
--Some are committed, you can count on, as Christians.
--Some we pray with. Share hopes and heartaches.
--A few friends are like family. Thank God for all.
At my Seminary banquet the Board Chair said, "I'd like you to meet my best friend, who happens to be my wife."
You have friendships, but think of David who wanted to see if any still lived of his friend Jonathan's family.
--So he could "show the kindness of God" (II Sam. 9:3).
--Was told of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul; but lamed in both feet (II Sam. 4:4).
--Saul jealously sought David's life; but Jonathan is David's best friend! David married Saul's daughter.
--So for his friend's sake, David showed all kindness. Isn't that what friends are for? To show kindness.
--The world could use lots more of this - God's kind.
--In John 15 Jesus talks of love, and friendships.
--"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (v 13).
--"You are My friends if you do what I command you."
--He calls them not "servants .. but friends."
What is a friend? It is one you enjoy being with. --Friendships for youth lead to courtship, marriage.
--You need to keep being friends all your lives.
--"A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17).
--"A friend sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24).
--To have friends, "one must show himself friendly."
True, Jesus "laid down His life for His friends," us.
--But Jesus went to the cross also for His enemies.
--So they could become friends! He showed His love.
--May His followers ever show theirs to all people.
--To show more kindness, have more blindness to faults.
--Let's be friend make friends - for the Lord.
--Our world needs it.
I heard of a college coach, used to winning games, and he applauded; but the team had a bad season, and coach and everyone got lots of criticism instead of cheers.
--Similar to Jesus, cheered Palm Sunday by multitudes, and crucified Good Friday. Leaders can get that!
--The coach was pounded in the press; got depressed.
--His dog seemed to be his best friend.
--Said to his wife, "Seems I've lost all my friends except you and my dog. Everyone needs a few friends."
--So, she went out and bought his another dog!
We need friends with skin on - who are like we are.
--Let's make acquaintance with people. Be friendly.
I. LET'S GET To KNOW WELL SOME OF OUR BIBLE FRIENDS.
--We see people friendly with everybody, as Jesus was.
--All kinds of people, Jesus cared for. Treated alike.
You can recall Abraham, who was called "a friend of God" and a "father of many nations."
--We think of the great patriarchs - Isaac and Jacob.
--Of Moses. He made friends with all kinds, for God.
--Of prophets, such as Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah. - Many prophets of minor or major prominence.
--All who sought to make stronger friends for the Lord.
In the New Testament, you have the Apostles of Jesus.
--Our Lord chose twelve to be His closest friends.
--To teach. To train. To ordain and send forth.
--You know them, like Andrew, Peter, James, John, and Thomas, and Philip and all the rest.
--Then, there were Mark, Luke, Matthew, John, the Baptist, and Paul. So many, "a cloud of witnesses."
James 4:4 says, "a friend of the world is enemy of God."
Let's know more closely the Apostle Paul. What a man!
--There was a_time Paul was unfriendly to Christians.
--So much so he persecuted and imprisoned them.
--Acts 22:3-16, ".. I persecuted this way to death." He adds, ".. binding and delivering to prisons."
--Not friendly at all. Didn't know them - or Jesus!
But on a dusty road to Damascus, Jesus came to Paul.
--Told him, "God has chosen you .. to be His witness."
Paul was well educated and very religious - a Pharisee.
--He studied "at the feet of Gamaliel," finest Rabbi of his day, in Jerusalem. He was zealous for the Law.
--He was consenting to the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.. Saw his faith. Watched him die.
--When Stephen prayed for his slayers, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge," Paul was impressed.
--The light was beginning to break through to him.
You know the details of his conversion and change.
--God chose him to evangelize his world with Jesus.
--It was a radical message unique to the world, of Jesus and the resurrection, in a world of idolatry, and emporer worship, and immorality.
--Judaism alone stood apart, with God's revelation.
--And as the Messiah, Jesus fulfilled its prophecies!
So the Apostle Paul, amid oppression, lovingly preached the Gospel -- Good News - of Jesus, "Repent and be born again by receiving and following the Risen Savior."
--In so doing in those days, Paul endured suffering.
--Imprisoned. Stoned. Beaten. Shipwrecks.
--Yet, gladly went everywhere making friends for Jesus!
When in a Roman prison, friends came to give him aid.
--They came in gratitude with supplies. Money. Prayer.
--Came, bringing Paul loving greetings from converts.
--Came to encourage. To cheer Paul. And be cheered.
--He sent these back stronger - to win other to Christ.
In his last days before martyred, when persecutions were more fierce, in Nammertine Prison in Rome, friends were few around him. He missed them.
--Sometimes, prisoners don't have too many friends.
--And that's when they need them! And the Lord Jesus!
--In my visits to them, some said they often forgotten.
So Paul is lonely. Bares his heart in II Timothy 4.
--When the end was near for Paul, look what he writes.
--"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have kept the faith .. my departure at hand."
--His days are numbered. Paul is all alone.
--Writes, "Only Luke is with me" (v 11). Doctor Luke.
--Writes Timothy, ".. come to me quickly" (v 9).
--Do you ever feel alone?, Forgotten? Need a friend?
II. THE BEST FRIEND OF ALL IS JESUS - HE'S EVER THERE!
--A distraught Chinese' lady came to me as I changed the outdoor church sign, "I need help," she pleaded.
--She was in need. Being mistreated. Threatened.
--We talked. Prayed. Counseled. Made phone calls.
--Did all we could to help - but it was mostly Jesus!
People don't care what we know, till they know we care.
--Who knows what a difference one can make, for others.
Soon or late tough times come to all - even Christians.
--We may need some help with family, job, finances.
--Maybe one's health. Youth. Old age. Counselling.
--I know of no finer Person to go to than Jesus!
--Begin with God. Go from there as the Lord may lead.
--Jesus is a Friend indeed, to all in need.
--Anywhere. Any time. To anyone. And His own.
Some may say, "That's not for me; Jesus can't help me."
--Maybe they've been disappointed with the Lord.
--Or angry with God. Or perhaps never fully tried Him.
--Maybe tried everything .. except trusting Jesus!
I learned long ago I needed to surrender all to Jesus.
--To seek His way, not mine. For God knows best.
--Jesus is God - in human flesh. "Born of a virgin."
--Tempted as we - yet sinless. Always was, will be.
--Though He died on a cross, "Jesus arose." Alive!
--He said, "I an the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14.6).
I longed to get to know this Jesus as Savior, Friend.
--This revelation of God .. the Risen One .. Who before their very eyes .. ascended into heaven (Acts 1).
--Back at the Father's right hand, as our Advocate.
--"He ever lives to make intercession for us."
--Let's seek, and value, His powerful prayers for us!
Let's be friendly. Make friends. Including Jesus!
--My dear friend, may I ask, "Have you done that?"
--No better time or place than now, to make sure.
--"You are My friends if you do.. what I command you,"
--Jesus gave two commands - "Believe .. Follow Me."
--Let's do that. Encourage others to do so.
--Make friends with, for, Jesus!