1.  Paul And Titus

My daily Bible reading is taking me on a journey back to the early church as I read the letters by Paul.  It gives me a greater understanding when I can read a complete book at one sitting.  I notice words or themes repeated by the writer that I don't see when I read only a chapter, or very short segments at a time.  When I began reading II Corinthians I noticed verse 2:13, "I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia."  I thought of how much Paul must have missed his friend and Christian brother, Titus.  As I continued in the book I saw that Paul mentioned Titus several more times, a total of eight times in this one letter.  Let's look at some of these verses and see what made their friendship so special.  I hope we can also look at other Biblical examples and strengthen our own friendships.  Please join us, as we take an in depth look at "Friends".


2.  Friends Comfort Us When We Are Down

Paul suffered great trials and tribulations, as found in chapter 11 of II Corinthians.  He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and faced many more perils among men.  I admire his courage and optimism in chapter 4:8-9.  "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;"  Where did Paul find this positive outlook in the midst of all his problems?  He opened his letter giving God praise for being his source of comfort.

"3  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."  (II Corinthians 1:3-6)

As we begin our look at the friendship between Paul and Titus, we see that he shows us God can use our friends to bring us comfort.  "Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;"  (II Corinthians 7:6)   It can be a great comfort to hear a close friend say, "I know what you are going through.  I have been there before.  I am here for you."  It helps to see that we are not alone in our troubles.  As we grow older and have overcome more trials, we need to help comfort those who are facing the same struggles that were in our paths.  We can be a good Christian friend by being a comfort, as Titus was to Paul.


3.  Comfort Brings Joy

Today we see that Titus not only comforted Paul, but also gave him joy.  "Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all."  (II Corinthians 7:13)  I am reminded of another man in the Bible who was pressed beyond measure as Paul, and that is Job. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health all in a short time.  "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him."  (Job 2:11)  I think Job would have been better off without them, because they only added to his grief and hurt him when he was down.  He said in Job 16:2, "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all."  It is hard to know what to say to a friend who has cancer, or has lost a loved one to death, but we need to be very careful not to push them further down.  Job's friends tried to tell him that his problems were due to God's judgment for his sinful living.  They were so wrong, and did not help him at all.  To be a good friend, we need to try to bring comfort and joy to those going through trouble.  It is good to keep the negative thoughts and comments to yourself, and offer kind words to give a little comfort and joy. 


4.  Good Friends Lift Up Their Friends

Titus was a good friend to Paul and lifted his heart in comfort and joy.  Paul was a good friend to Titus and lifted up his name in the early church.  "For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth."  (II Corinthians 7:14)  We are to edify our Christian brothers and sisters.  It does not help the church or the cause of Christ to gossip about other members.  In his other writings Paul warns against busybodies.  "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."  (II Thessalonians 3:11-12)   And again in I Timothy 5:13, "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not."  I am afraid that even today we are prone to say things which we ought not to say.  Instead, we should build up one another.  Romans 14:19 tells us plainly, "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."  "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."  (I Thessalonians 5:11)   I hate to hear someone talk bad about their spouse or close friends.  As Christians we are to lift up one another, and not tear each other down.


5.  Good Friends Stick With You To The Finish

When we were young we had friends in the neighborhood, friends at school, and even special friends at church.  We spent time with our family and enjoyed playing with cousins on the holidays and several other times during the year.  Many times throughout our lives we meet people who are special and we think that we will be "best friends forever."   But as we grow older, we move from place to place, and we often lose touch with those who were once so dear.  There are some exceptions. There are some people who are such great friends that you know they will stick with you to the finish.  Through the years we have made dear friendships with several who are going to different churches, but when I see them from time to time, or call them on the phone, I still hear a cheery "Hello".  Paul had confidence in Titus that he began as a helper to him in the Lord's work, and he would stick with it to the end.  "Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also."  (II Corinthians 8:6)   Even with such dear friendships, some drift away through the years.  At times the Lord calls dear friends to carry on His work in other places.  It is sad to see them go, but we can still praise the Lord when they are faithful till the end.  It brings greater sorrow when our friends fall away from the Lord.  Paul mentions Demas as being with him on two occasions, but in II Timothy 4:9-10, he says sadly,  "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:  For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia."  He pleads for Timothy to come and bring the things he needs, for his friends have gone on to other works for the Lord, and in the case of Demas, quit serving the Lord.  I think we are quickly nearing the end of this world.  Let's stay faithful to the finish.  I want to finish right!  Listen to these uplifting words of Paul to the early church at Philippi.

"3  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5  For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  (Philippians 1:3-6)


6.  Friends Care

David wrote beautiful Psalms of praise, and defeated the giant, but there were also times in his life when he was on the run from King Saul, and later from his own son, Absalom.  Some of the Psalms he wrote during those times give us a glimpse of how dark and dim his life seemed at the time.  Listen as he pleads to the Lord in Psalms 142:4-6.

"4  I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
5  I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
6  Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I."

I believe verse 4 is one of the most sorrowful verses in the scriptures, "... no man cared for my soul."  Yet, how many people do we come in contact with everyday of our lives feel like no one cares for them?  The sad look on their faces tell us they, too, are brought very low.  Our next example of the show of friendship between Paul and Titus is in II Corinthians 8:16.  "But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you."  Paul assures these believers that God had given Titus a caring heart for them.  That's what people need in a friend, a caring heart.  We live in a lost and dying world.  People are seeking for something to fill the void and emptiness in their lives.  We need to show them that we care for their soul.  We need to tell them that Jesus loves them so much that He gave His life for them.  And for those who feel very low today, take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.  "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."  (I Peter 5:7)


7.  Friends Help

I have been in church all my life and I have heard of Paul and Silas, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Apollos, but I don't think I have ever heard a sermon on Paul and Titus.  I never really thought about the friendship between Paul and Titus until reading in II Corinthians recently and my eyes were opened to all these enlightening verses.  Today we come to another verse which pairs these friends in the work as clearly as James and John, or Simon Peter and Andrew.  They were partners.  "Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ."  (II Corinthians 8:23)  Paul had warned them earlier in II Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"  Now, he gives them an example of the right kind of partnership.  Friends help each other.  In his first letter to the Corinthian church he told them of Spiritual gifts, such as apostles, prophets, and several others, but the one I like is the gift of "helps".  We can't all preach and we can't all teach, but we can all be "fellowhelpers" in the work for Christ.  If you want to be a good friend to your pastor or leaders in your church, be a good helper.


8.  Friends Walk Together

In God's message to Israel in the book of Amos, He asks the question, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"  (Amos 3:3)  Before I lost my job my co-workers and I used to take a break during the day to walk around a few blocks.  It was refreshing to get away from our desks and I think it helped us physically and also mentally as we talked about different things.  We were able to do this because we had worked together for several years and had become good friends.  We would not have enjoyed our little excursions if we were not at peace with each other.  In our last reference to Titus in the book of II Corinthians Paul goes so far as to say that he and Titus walked in the same spirit, and the same steps.  "I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?"  (II Corinthians 12:18)  One thing you can surely say is that you can't walk together if you are going in opposite directions.  The Children of Israel were going away from God, and He used Amos to warn them that judgment was coming.  I want to walk with the Lord.  Psalms 37:23-24 tell us "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand."  When we are walking together with God, and even with our friends, there is someone there to help us up when we fall. 


9.  Happy Fathers' Day!
Christian Fathers Rejoice When Their Lost Children Are Found

I have heard many sermons from the fifteenth chapter of Luke.  While I was looking at different friends in the Bible I noticed that in each case of the lost and found, the people rejoiced with their friends and neighbors.  As a parent, I can say that we rejoiced when our children saw their lost condition and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.   The turning point in this young man's life was "when he came to himself."  He realized his sinful, lost condition and went to the father's house and asked forgiveness.  If you don't know the Lord as your Savior, and you don't know God as your heavenly Father, there is no better day than today.  When you realize your sinful, lost condition, you can pray to Jesus for forgiveness and be saved.  God will become your heavenly Father and the angels will rejoice that a little lost sheep has come home.  "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:..."  (I John 3:1)  If you have strayed away from your father, this would also be the perfect day to call home and wish your Dad a Happy Fathers' Day.  

"6  And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

9  And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

17  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19  And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23  And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:"  (Luke 15:6, 9, & 17-23)


10.  Women Were Among Paul's Friends And Helpers

Some have mistakenly said that Paul was against women because of his message to the Corinthian church.  "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."  (I Corinthian 14:34-35)   Paul was not against women, but was following their practices of that day.  He made it clear in his letters that he appreciated the women who had helped him in the ministry.  He knew the value of faithful women in the home.  We see this in his letter to young Timothy.  "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."  (II Timothy 1:5)  He also knew women were a valuable asset to the church.

"And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life."  (Philippians 4:3)

"1  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
2  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
3  Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4  Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5  Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
6  Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us."  (Romans 16:1-6)

The Bible places a great value on women.  "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies."  (Proverbs 31:10)


11.  We Make Sacrifices For Our Friends

God has blessed us, and we are not rich, but God has always supplied our needs.  When the children were small it was sometimes hard to stretch a monthly paycheck from the beginning to the end.  During the most difficult times God was always faithful to provide.  Once we came home to find a large box of groceries at our door.  Sometimes friends would tell us that God was leading them to give us a certain amount of cash.  God used our close friends to help supply our needs.  Now that our children are grown and the budget is not quite so tight it is nice to have a little extra in our pockets to help others.  Through the years the Lord has shown me over and over that that's what friends do.  Friends help each other in the time of need.  Sometimes it may even be a sacrificial gift.  Paul said that this type of giving is "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God."  I want to be "wellpleasing to God."  I think that the more we give, the more God sends our way so that we can give more.  We often quote Philippians 4:19, but we need to realize that this was spoken to those who had given sacrificially to Paul.

"15  Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
16  For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
17  Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
18  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:15-19)


12.  Onesiphorus Was Not Ashamed Of Paul's Chains

A major part of our New Testament consists of letters which the Apostle Paul wrote while he was in prison.  We have religious freedom in America, but that is not the case in many countries.  Many have suffered greatly for their faith through the years, and many continue to pay the price for the cause of Christ.  We saw last week that many of Paul's friends turned away and this must have been heart breaking for the great Apostle Paul.  Thankfully we see in his letter to Timothy that not all of his friends deserted him. 

"15  This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16  The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17  But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
18  The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well."  (II Timothy 1:15-18)

We don't know much about Onesiphorus, but we do know that he was a great friend of Paul.  He helped Paul at Ephesus and when Paul was sent to Rome as a prisoner, he followed and searched for his dear friend. Communication was very limited in Bible times with no phones or internet.  But Paul said that Onesiphorus, "sought me out very diligently, and found me."  By the time Paul was in Rome, he had been through many trials and tribulations.  He spent a large portion of his later years in bondage.  You can hear the love and devotion Paul had for his friend, Onesiphorus.  "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:"  We go to church and worship with Christian friends, but are we ashamed of them when they talk to us about God at other places?  Does it embarrass us if we are sitting with a church group in a crowded restaurant and they pray before beginning the meal?  Jesus said, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."  (Luke 9:26)


13.  Good Friends Can Overcome Differences

Barnabas was a friend to Paul early in his ministry.  When the early church was still afraid of Paul, Barnabas encouraged them to trust him.  "But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."  (Acts 9:27)  Barnabas went with Paul on his first missionary journey.  "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."  (Acts 13:2)  John Mark started out with them, but he went back home.  (Acts 13:13)  Some time later Paul wanted to take another missionary journey, but there were problems when Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them. 

"36  And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
37  And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
38  But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
39  And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
40  And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
41  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."  (Acts 15:36-41)

These dear friends had a difference of opinion, an argument so strong they parted from one another.  But God was still able to use these great men, now in two different places.  And we see they eventually got over their disagreement in II Timothy 4:11.  "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."  This is a little sentence in the closing of Paul's letter, but I believe that God put it here to show us that we can overcome our differences and work together. 


14.  Friends Pray Even When Done Wrong

I recently mentioned Job and how his friends looked at his difficult situation, losing his wealth, children and health, and made him feel worse with their self-righteous judgment.  After all their ridicule God let them know they were wrong.  Look at these verses in Job 42:7-10.

"7  And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.
8  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
9  So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
10  And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before."

Job was faithful to his friends, even when they were so judgmental to him, and he prayed for his friends.  We all have friends who have said things that hurt.  Many times it may be hard to forgive and even harder to forget.  Hateful words can mar a friendship beyond repair, but we can still pray for them.  It does not help us to hold grudges and stay bitter.  Look inward and see if problems of the past are still hovering over you like a dark cloud.  How long will you let the storms of the past keep the sun from shining on the present?  Look at verse 10.  "And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before."  Don't stay captive to the bitterness of the past.  Pray for your friends.  I close with these words of our Savior, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"  (Matthew 5:44)


15.  Mother-In-Laws Can Be Good Friends

Mother-In-Laws have often been given a bad name, and been the object of many jokes.  I have five children, and since they are all married, I am Mother-In-Law to five people.  I work hard to be a good mother-in-law.  I try to show the newer members of our family as much love as I show my children.  I want to have a good relationship with them.  When I think of mother-in-laws in the Bible, two different ones come to mind.  First, I think of Simon Peter, the fisherman.  When Jesus visited his house, Peter's mother-in-law was there sick.  He cared for his mother-in-law.  "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.  And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them."  (Matthew 8:14-15) 

The next mother-in-law I think of is Naomi, in the little book of Ruth.  Ruth loved her so much she left her homeland of Moab and the false gods there, to go with Naomi to Bethlehem.  You can hear the love coming from the depths of her heart.

"14  And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
15  And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
16  And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
18  When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her."  (Ruth 1:14-18)

We see in both these examples that the love and care between them was mutual.  Peter's mother-in-law was in his home, being cared for, and once Jesus healed her she got up and "ministered unto them."  With Naomi we see that Ruth loved and cared for Naomi, but her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, decided to go back home to her people.  Ruth was rewarded for her faithfulness to Naomi, and became part of the lineage of Christ.  "And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David."  (Ruth 4:17)  "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;  And Jesse begat David the king;..."  (Matthew 1:5-6)


16.  Having Supper With Jesus

Our Pastor, Jack Tripp, preached an inspirational sermon on "Having Supper With Jesus" and I want to use some of his notes this week for our daily devotionals.  Jesus longs to be "...a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  (Proverbs 18:24)  He knocks on our heart's door and longs to fellowship with us.  There is an invitation in the Old Testament found in Isaiah 55:1.  "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."  Jesus calls to us in the New Testament as well,  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3:20)   As we look at Isaiah 55:1-7 and Revelation 3:14-22, we will see what it takes to have supper with Jesus.


17.  It Takes A Desire, Longing, Or Thirst For God

As our verse in Isaiah 55:1 begins, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters..." we see that to have fellowship with the Lord we must have a thirst, or desire for the things of God.  We need a thirst as described by the Psalmist in Psalms 42:1-2.  " As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:..."  The church at Laodicea did not have this desire to fellowship with Jesus.  "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."  (Revelation 3:14-16)   Many in our churches today are neither cold nor hot.  They are satisfied in their lukewarm state.  As the world falls deeper and deeper into sin, it becomes an even greater necessity that Christians draw closer to God.  Jesus gives us this promise in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."


18.  We Have To Become Destitute Of Ourselves

Another promise in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."   Looking again at Isaiah 55:1 we read, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."  What a great contrast we see in "poor in spirit" and "he that hath no money" with the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:17.  "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" Jesus told a parable of a certain man that made a great supper and called to his guests but they all made excuses not to come. 

"21  So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22  And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23  And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24  For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."  (Luke 14:21-24)

We don't need wealth or riches to come to Jesus.


19.  We Have To Become Discontented With The World

Isaiah wrote his book over 2,700 years ago and it seems to have an even greater truth as time passes by.  "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?..."  (Isaiah 55:2)  People are constantly looking for something to satisfy.  They buy, and buy, and buy, but there is always something newer and better and greater on the market.  How does this compare with our letter to the church at Laodicea?  "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:"  (Revelation 3:17)  As long as we are content with what the world has to offer we won't seek the fellowship with our Lord.  Jesus told a parable about a wayward son.

"11  And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12  And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14  And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15  And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19  And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23  And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

This prodigal son did not long for fellowship with his father until he became dissatisfied with what the world had to offer.


20.  We Have To Give Diligence To Hear What He Has To Say

Isaiah continues "...hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.  Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."  (Isaiah 55:2-3)  In each of the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord pleads, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." 

"18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 3:18-22)

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10:27-29)


21.  We Have To Be Willing To Depart From Sin

If we want to have fellowship with God, then we must be willing to depart from sin.  Sin separates us from God.  After Adam and Eve sinned they lost their fellowship with God.  "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."  (Genesis 3:8-10)  Isaiah tells us, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."  (Isaiah 55:7)  And the plea from the Lord to the Laodicean church to repent is found in Revelation 3:19. " As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."  We find a blessed promise in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."   I think there are many people who would like to be saved, but they don't want to leave their life of sin.  We have the opportunity to come to Jesus now, and confess our sin and be saved.  "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  (Romans 10:9)  But, we can be sure, that even those who neglect the call of the Lord will fall on their knees and confess to Him, but one day it will be too late.  "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."  (Romans 14:11-12)


22.  We Have To Be Willing To Open The Door

God doesn't force His fellowship on anyone.  He calls to all in Isaiah 55:6, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:"  And again in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  To have fellowship with the Lord, we have to open the door.  This is illustrated in the beautiful love story of the Song of Solomon 5:2-6.

"2  I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
3  I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
4  My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
5  I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
6  I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer."

Won't you open the door of your heart to the Lord Jesus?


23.  When We Do These Things There Will Be Great Delight

I hope that you have a greater understanding in how to have fellowship with the Lord Jesus, "...a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  (Proverbs 18:24)  I appreciate my Pastor, Preacher Jack Tripp, and his faithfulness to the Word of God.  It is a blessing to be able to sit under his preaching.  As I close with the notes from his sermon on "Having Supper With Jesus" we see that when we do these things there will be great delight.  We see in Isaiah 55:2, " Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."  And looking at Revelation3:20 we see that we can sup with the Savior.  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." God wants to feed His children from His Word.


24.  Happy 4th Of July!
A Celebration Of Freedom

I know I am a day late in my post for Independence Day but I wanted to complete the series yesterday.  I am glad to be an American.  I am saddened by the direction our nation is taking, but I still know of no greater place to live on this earth.  As we celebrate this week we need to pause to give thanks for those who have given their lives to defend our country.  We read in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  Many have fought and died for the freedom we have today.  We need to pray for our leaders more than ever before, as we face God's judgment for the boldness of the sin of our once, God fearing nation.  In my short lifetime people have turned away from God, and forgotten how He has blessed America.  Now, even worse than the apostasy of neglecting God, it seems as though many want to shake their fists in the face of God and dare Him to object to their choice of sinful lifestyles.  But, there is hope.  Looking again at John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" we can find mercy and grace.  Jesus Christ left the glory and splendor of heaven to humble Himself and be born in a stable.  He came to lay down His life for a sin-cursed world.  We can be free from the bondage of sin if we confess our sin and turn to Him for forgiveness.  The Bible is very clear.  Judgment is coming.  "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;"  (Hebrews 2:3)

"16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:16-19)

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"  (Romans 3:23)
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  (Romans 5:8)
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Romans 6:23)
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."  (Romans 10:9-10)


25.  Jesus Is A Friend Of Sinners

Since Jesus saved me and is the best friend I will ever have, I like to tell others how they can be His friend too.  Yesterday we looked at how He gave His life to save those who will confess their sin and put their trust in Him, believing that He alone is the way of salvation.  Maybe there is someone reading today who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Maybe you think you are too deep in sin to find hope.  You may feel that if Jesus is really God's Son, and He is, then He would not accept you the way you are.  Well, let me assure you that Jesus loves you.  The religious leaders of His day called Him a "friend of publicans and sinners" as an insult, but praise the Lord He is a friend of sinners.  If not, none of us would have any hope, because we all have sinned.  Listen to His plea found in Matthew 11:19-30.

"19  The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

If you need further proof that Jesus loves you and wants to be your friend, think about the one who betrayed Him.  Judas Iscariot walked with Jesus.  He ate with Him.  He saw the miracles.  All of the disciples thought he was a friend of Jesus, but he betrayed Him and sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  Look at Matthew 26:47-50. 

"47  And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48  Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
49  And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50  And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him."

Judas betrayed Jesus to a "great multitude with swords and staves" and yet Jesus called him, "Friend."  If Jesus longed to be a friend to the one who betrayed Him, you can be sure that He longs to be your friend and Savior.


26.  Are We Friends Of Jesus?

After looking at how Jesus wants to be our friend, it is appropriate that we look into the scriptures and see how we can be friends of Jesus.  The verse that first comes to mind is John 15:14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."  If we call ourselves Christians, then we need to live like Christ.  The Bible is our instruction guide book on how to live a Christian life.  We are still in our fleshly bodies and we can't do it on our own, but we can pray and ask the Lord to help us, and ask for forgiveness when we fail.  Even before Jesus came as a man, there were some on earth who were friends of God.  The first example I want to look at is Noah.  When the whole world turned against God and became very wicked, Noah did what was right in the sight of God.  "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."  (Genesis 6:8-9)  Because of his obedience to God, Noah and his family were the only people saved when the earth was destroyed by a flood.  Next we see Abraham.  What did Abraham do to be called a Friend of God?  "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."  He believed God!  That's a good place to start.  If we want to be a friend of Jesus, then we must first believe in Him.  (James 2:23)   We read of Moses in Exodus 33:11.  "And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle."  How did Moses become such a friend of God?  One answer is found in Numbers 12:3, "(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)"  James 4:6 is just one of the many verses on being humble before God.  "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."  And what about Joshua, the young man who "departed not out of the tabernacle."  He was faithful to serve God and after his long life of service to the Lord he was still able to say, "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  (Joshua 24:15)   Our last verse is found in James 4:4, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."  God's Word tells us that to be a friend of God, we can't be a friend of the world.  We need to have a love for the lost and try to lead them to Christ, but we can't follow the worldly, sinful, ways of the world and still be friends of Christ. 


27.  David And Jonathan

When I think of close friendships in the Bible I immediately think of David and Jonathan.  After David had such a great victory against the giant Goliath, he and Jonathan became great friends.  Both young men had great courage and an even greater faith in God.   "And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few."  (I Samuel 14:6)  "David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee."  (I Samuel 17:37)  Both of these young men trusted in the Lord and were victorious over their enemies.  I believe this was the common thread that wove their lives together.

"1  And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2  And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
3  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle."  (I Samuel 18:1-4)

When the Israelite Army returned from battle and the people praised David more than King Saul he became very jealous.  His hatred was so strong that he not only threw a javelin at David to kill him, but he also threw it at his own son, Jonathan.  Jonathan remained loyal to his devoted friend and helped him escape from the hand of King Saul.  They remained faithful throughout their lives and after the death of King Saul and Jonathan, David was made king, as the prophet Samuel had foretold.  Many times in history the new king had all the family of the previous king killed, but King David was such good friends with Jonathan, he sought out Jonathan's family and took care of his son who was lame.

"5  Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.
6  Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
7  And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually."  (II Samuel 9:5-7)


28.  When Friends Forsake Us

We have talked about good friends and how they care for and lift up each other.  But sometimes friends let us down.  Friends may turn away from us, or even worse, turn against us.  We feel devastated when that happens because we can expect animosity from those who don't like us, but we expect loyalty from our friends.  And although it may shock us that a close friend can forsake us, antagonism is not new.  Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, had two sons, Cain and Abel.  In a fit of jealous rage Cain killed Abel.  Another example is David, who began as a shepherd boy and ended up as King of Israel.  After he killed Goliath we read, " And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants."  (I Samuel 18:5)  It seemed as though everyone loved David, but jealousy turned King Saul against him.  "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."  (Psalms 41:9)   The greatest example is our Lord.  Multitudes followed Jesus, and in the sixth chapter of John we read that He fed 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread.  He had a lot of followers, but in the end of the same chapter we read, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."  (John 6:66-69)  Not only did many forsake Him, they also crucified Him.  Zechariah prophesied, "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."  (Zechariah 13:6)  When your friends turn against you, and it seems that no one cares for you, look to Jesus.  He has promised,  "... I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  (Hebrews 13:5)   When it seems as though everyone else has turned against you, remember that Jesus "... is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  (Proverbs 18:24) 


29.  Do Your Friends Know How Good God Has Been To You?

The fifth chapter of Mark begins with the sad, sad, state of a man who was possessed with a legion of unclean spirits.

"1  And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
2  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
5  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones."

He was helpless, and his life was hopeless, until he met Jesus.

"6  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
10  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
11  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
12  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
13  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea."

Jesus delivered the man and made a change in his life.  When the people came to see what was done they saw the man "sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid."  (vs. 15) 

"17  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
18  And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
19  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
20  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."

The man wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go back home and tell his friends the great things the Lord had done for him.  This is a reminder to us that we need to tell our friends of the great things God has done for us.  Have you ever thought that sometimes it seems easier to witness to a stranger than to witness to your family, or people you work with, or see at the gym?  The time is short.  Jesus is coming back.  How sad it will be if we are taken to be with Christ for eternity and never told our friends how to join us.  We can begin by following this message from the Lord to this changed man.   "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."


30.  Face To Face

When I started thinking about starting this series of devotionals on "Friends" four weeks ago, I was making a mental comparison of friends in Bible times, and our social media friends we have today.  Face book and Twitter make it possible to share the exciting times of our lives, and even the everyday mundane things like what we ate for lunch.  I enjoy looking at the photos of family and friends.  I especially like the Bible verses shared by Christian friends.  And I find some of the stories interesting.  But I think these apps have a downside that we need to think about.  Many measure their self worth by how many "friends" they have.  I sometimes receive friend requests from people I never heard of.  And there are some I deleted from my friend list because of the content of their pages.  While I value the people on my friend list, I know that there are many more true friends in my life who don't share their lives on the internet.  So, I don't place much merit on the number of friends.  Next, I think about how we respond to the response of our friends to our posts.  We post pictures or share something that is important to us, and watch in anticipation to see how many "likes" we get.  We want our friends to share our joys and sorrow and like what we like, but we must be careful not to place too much emphasis on their response.  It could be a source of depression when we don't get the desired response, and could lead to more serious issues.  Another danger with these social media pages is seen when someone airs their personal feelings or private issues in public.  When I am shopping I hate to see people argue or yell at each other in public.  And I don't like it any better on my computer screen.  If you have an argument with a close friend or family member, keep it private.  There are more things that just should not be shared in public.  If you question whether something is appropriate to share, then it probably isn't.  I guess the biggest problem I have with the technology is that I see families and friends sitting together in restaurants and several have phones or other devices in their hands and they are ignoring the ones sitting next to them.  In Bible times, and up until the last few years, messages and letters were sent by carriers and it took time to deliver.  There was an anticipation and joy in receiving news from a loved one.  "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."  (Proverbs 25:25)   We can read in the New Testament letters how much the early Christians longed to see each other, face to face.  "But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name."  (III John 1:14)  "But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire."  (I Thessalonians 2:17)   Now we can send a message to the other side of the world and it can be seen immediately.  But, we also need to communicate with those sitting across the table, or across the room.  A positive side of modern technology is that we can use it to share prayer requests.  It was a great blessing to me last year during my sickness to know that so many of my friends were praying for me.  Their "Get Well" wishes lifted me up during that difficult time.  In addition to praying for one another, we also have a greater opportunity to share God's precious Word.  No other time in history has it been easier to follow the Lord's instructions found in Mark 16:15.  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."   Share the gospel message with your friends, wherever they may be.