A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
Dt 32:11like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them on its pinions.
Dt 32:12The LORD alone led him;
no foreign god was with him.
Dt 32:13He made him ride on the heights of the land
and fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock,
and with oil from the flinty crag,
Dt 32:14with curds and milk from herd and flock
and with fattened lambs and goats,
with choice rams of Bashan
and the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.
And that friend is God.
1. Introduction What are friends for
The song “That’s what friends are for” makes us smile because it reminds us of the apparant friendships that Mowgli made in the film
-The Jungle book
Friends prepared to protect him challenge him and show him the truth even when this was painful.
It also showed a number of characters who claimed to be friends who were not his friends.
Who remembers Kaa the snake and King Loui
even Baloo did not see what was best for him until his friend Bagheera the panther showed him that Mowgli would be safer with his own people rather than in the jungle.
2. Relationship or Friendship
We can return to Mowgli’s friends later.
What I am keen to establish is our real understanding that a friendship with God is not just possible but His genuine hope and intention.
Many if not all of us here might say I have a friendship with God. The challenge He wants me to bring you is that, He knows that with many if not all of us, we are afraid of the intimate commitment that is friendship with Him.
Christians often speak of having a ‘relationship’ with God.
I had a relationship with my dog Tessa; she would usually do what I asked of her and I would sometimes grasp what she asked of me. Which seemed to a largely revolve around her basic needs.
What is clear was that when in the many hours I shared my most urgent concerns with her as I walked the streets or fields, was that she had no way of connecting with me as a real friend, my relationship was limited by the fact that we were not of the same species. She a dog, I a man.
I've heard it said that many people will walk in and out of our lives, but only true friends will leave footprints in our hearts.
With some of the people we would like to have called friends we find ourselves lacking the means to grasp how each other thinks- the relationship exists but it never goes beyond just that. A relationship. It might as well be that we are from different species.
You will not be surprised if we now turn to Genesis 1:26
Ge 1:26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Ge 1:27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Ge 1:28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
Ge 1:30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Ge 1:31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
In the image of God. We were created in His likeness with the express purpose of friendship with Him. All of history subsequent to the moment of the fall has been all creation straining to see the people of God restored to that quality of friendship with Him that existed prior to the fall.
Do not be in any doubt that God’s one desire is to be in love with you.
"The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack." (Oswald Chambers)
"True friendship is rare on earth. It means identifying with someone in thought, heart, and spirit. The whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His Word, but do we really know Him?"
What was it that that Jesus prayed for us? (John 17 vv 20-26)
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
That we might be one with each other as He is one with Father.
That the love God has for Jesus may be in us too.
Here is a testimony that I found that speaks so deeply of how this is not a Sunday preach but a word to you for life.
It was during a personal crisis that I discovered Charlotte was the kind of friend that "sticks closer than a brother". We had only been casual acquaintances when I was admitted to the hospital to receive treatment for a blood clot in my leg. While there, I was also tested for what I believed was a minor "female" problem.
Shortly thereafter, I received the shocking news that I had an early-stage cancer in my uterus. Childless and in my early thirties, I faced a decision that would forever shape my husband's and my future. The emotional pain was indescribable. It was the prayers and support of my husband, family and friends that carried me through this traumatic season.
Charlotte's display of true friendship is one of the most important factors that helped me on my road to recovery. She never failed to have a word of encouragement just when I needed it most. Sometimes her comfort was wordless - she was simply there for me, not saying anything but strengthening me through her quiet presence. I knew I could count on her to walk with me through this dark valley, and her constant acts of kindness will be fondly cherished in my memories.
Still, Charlotte's greatest expression of love was to point me to my real source of strength and assurance - my best friend, Jesus Christ.
I began to draw comfort from Jesus' words of life and hope written in the Bible. The more I read the scriptures, the greater peace I experienced. As time when on and the recovery process took place, He proved to me that I could count on Him for anything. For Jesus is not a friend who drops in and out of my life for a season. Like my friend Charlotte, He has proven time and again the constancy of His love and faithfulness.
The true friends in one's life will be there for you no matter what season you may be going through. They are friends for all seasons. And that's the kind of friend I've been so blessed to have in Jesus Christ.
3. Our Jungle Book
I said I would come back to ‘The Jungle Book.’
Mowgli’s journey in the Jungle Book is our journey.
We want to know who we are supposed to be or what we are supposed to do.
We are drawn to be a part of the jungle. Attracted by those who would seem to be our friends.
We try to be like them.
The laid back let it all happen like the bear necessities.
The lets get it done now crashing through the jungle of the elephants.
But the jungle’s not where we are supposed to be there are things out to devour us.- The Shere Khans.
Drawing us to trust them or flattering us with a desire to copy us. – King Louis
We need to be what we were born to be Children of God. His friends.
4. How can I be a better friend with God.
Notice I don’t say what must I do to be a better friend.
1. Good friends spend time together.
There is no substitute for time together- all types of time
Time with him on your own,
happy time when you want to let him know you think everything is great, time when you’re saying help,
time when you are shouting in your anger and tears.
Just time when you focus on Him.
Intimate time of passion and devotion.
Practical intercessory time of business and planning
2. Good friends learn to listen to each other.
I know that after 25 years that what someone I love might say to me and what I might hear from them are not necessarily the same.
Ben prayed wonderfully yesterday morning about God’s word to us all in the last months even years. His prayer was a friends prayer- What do you mean Lord What is
The boat that we must leave to walk upon the water.
The Hill we must climb
The corner we must approach without applying the brake
The steps we must take without counting the cost
The cliff we must leap from.
God’s constant response has also been there
That He is with us
The water becomes solid beneath our feet.- when we step
The view from the top of the Hill will be worth the climb.
He knows what is around the corner.
We were born to step across the Jordan.
His wings will bear us up when we leap.
God is not silent and neither is He indifferent we are shaped and changed by this walk with Him- A constant Jordan to cross
3. Good friends trust each other
Trust that is downright uncomfortable as Pete Garratt said takes us out of our comfort zones.
Trust that changes our priorities.
Trust that waits for an answer.
Trust that hands over our time our money our most precious possessions to Him.
4. Good Friendship has no strings
Not in order that I can be a better person- although this will happen.
Not in order that I will prosper
Not in order that I will go to heaven
Greater love has no man than this that he lay down His life for His friend.
If you have never really said to Jesus that you wanted to be His friend. Or if you would like to tell Him again that His friendship means everything to you,
Pray this prayer.
Father God I am sorry that I have not been the friend to you that you want me to be. Please forgive me. I gladly welcome you to be closer than a brother.
I look forward to time spent together; listening to you trusting you and sharing all I am with you.
If that is the first time you have asked Jesus to be your friend or you would like further prayer for healing or to be a better friend – Please contact the church email- Tim@ LWCC-Basildon.org or telephone 01268 450030
What a friend I’ve found closer than a brother
It would break my heart to ever lose each other
Jesus Jesus Jesus –Friend forever.
Quotes from 'My Utmost for His Highest' -Oswald Chambers.