Constancy: biblical friendships are not fleeting and easily disposable, but are characterized by true constancy, in defiance of the obstacles continually tossed at us by the effects of the fall. But through the faithful constancy of Christ’s love, so we are operating in that same love. Candor: the ability to speak truth in love for the good of your friend. Not even our own personal love, but out of that greater love we can speak truth and love into each other’s lives. Carefulness: wisdom and consideration in how to live out the life of friendship. To be full of care for the friend. Concern is from Christ, so we have deep concerns for one another. Counsel: wise counsel to spur one another into greater Christ-likeness.
[Holmes, Jonathan, The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship]
How to forge biblical friendship: Change our mindset: Worldly vs. Biblical Friendship. Right attitude and goals: have a clear commitment of bringing glory to God through this friendship. Conversations and context: face to face interactions, going through life together. Shared meals, caring confrontation: sharing the joy and the difficulties, use of candor.
Let’s pray according to Acts 10:24 “The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.” Let’s pray that there will be opportunities to share the gospel to our family and friends and pray so that they would know Jesus. Pray for them by name.
Prayer: Lord we pray for our families and loved friends that they would know Jesus. May there be opportunities and open doors to share the gospel of Jesus and may salvation come to their lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Let’s sing the song “We Praise You” by Matt Redman (click here).
5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. 9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Proverbs 27: 5-6, 9 NIV
“These verses address correction from a friend. ‘Open rebuke’ is somewhat ambiguous and might allude to public punishment. Even so, Proverbs continually praises those who receive correction. ‘Hidden love’ probably indicated not private correction but a rebuke that is never given; withholding correction in the name of love is no love at all. Similarly, verse 6 welcomes the correction of ’a friend,’ but chastises the false ‘kisses’ of an ‘enemy,’ literally a ‘hater.’ In verse 9, overall notion that advice from intimate friends is greatly treasured.” [Ryan P. O’Dowd. Proverbs, The Story of God Bible Commentary]
The author of Proverbs directs us to welcome correction from a true friend, in contrast to never speaking or sweet affections which can be equated to “haters.” God is in the business of forming his people as iron sharpens iron. So let us welcome the deep work of the Holy Spirit as he leads the church.
Prayer: Lord, give us a welcoming heart to your correction knowing that in the end there will be true joy and treasure of your work in us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Let’s sing to the song “Touch of Heaven” by Bethel (click here).
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—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23 NIV
“Biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue him and his kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel in the earth, and an essential element of what God created us for.” [Holmes, Jonathan. The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship, p. 27]
Prayer: Lord we pray that strong biblical friendships will be forged in the church so that the world will know Jesus and his love. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Let’s sing to the Lord with the song “God of Revival” by Bethel (click here).
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:13-17 NIV
“To love one another is not, as such, a new commandment. It went back to Moses (Lev. 19:18), as all Jews were well aware. What was new was to love as Jesus loved his friends—that is, so as to lay down his life for them. By comparison with the commandment to love the neighbor ‘as oneself,’ this might seem to demand loving them more than oneself or at least to require that ‘as oneself’ has a profounder meaning than the self-protective limitation that one might otherwise put on it. Thus, John’s version of the command that sums up all of one’s duties to others is explicitly and decisively colored by Jesus’ death.” [Bauckham, Richard, Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology, p. 64-65]
Prayer: Lord, we rely on and trust in your sacrificial love and may all our friendships be colored by Jesus’ death. In your name we pray, amen.
As we bow before the Lord who loved us by laying down his life, let’s sing to him and confess with the song “Here I Bow” by Bethel (click here).
12 Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. 13 They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. 14 The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. 15 My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies. Psalm 25:12-15 NLT
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law. 62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws. 63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. 64 The earth is filled with your love, LORD; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119: 61-64 NIV
Prayer: Father God, we are amazed and humbled at your invitation. May we follow the path you choose by keeping our eyes on you, your promises and the blessed living. As we cling on to the word from morning till night, teach us how to fear your name and be filled with your love. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Let’s sing to the Lord together with the song “Unbroken Praise” by Matt Redman (click here).
Psalm 27:4 NIV One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
“This one thing, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, the splendor of his holiness… it’s enough to satisfy all the days of our lives. You could spend a lifetime gazing upon this beauty and glory… and still want more. When we behold God, as he truly is, a passion for him arises in our entire being (soul, mind, body)… a passion for his greatness, an enthusiasm for his perfection, his character… we could spend a lifetime taking it in and not get bored, it would never become predictable, dreary, or old. Passion comes from beholding an object of supreme worth, and that is Jesus Christ. As we behold the Lord and recognize his supreme worth, passions arise… not just fleeting emotions but a steadfastness of soul, a gravity of being, a weightiness to our existence, a passion that lasts a lifetime, that endures any hardship, a flame that can’t be snuffed out.” (P. Jason)
Let’s close by praying, “Lord, I confess that you are the greatest treasure in my life, you are worth all my attention, time and energy. Lord, I draw near you today! Give me a renewed passion rooted in your eternal love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.“
Let’s close by singing, “One Thing” by Hillsong Worship (click here).
Psalm 42:5 NIV Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
“The lack of immediate change in the psalmist’s feelings doesn’t mean his struggle with his emotions is pointless… Here in this psalm it simply means that he is human, and that the world around him must change at a significant level for his significant emotions to change… God has given us emotions and feelings that are actually designed not to change unless what we love changes or what is happening in the situation or the person we love changes for God’s glory and good. One author put it this way: ‘The bottom line is simple: because emotions flow out of what we care about most, our emotions can’t and shouldn’t change apart from a change in what we care about (or a change in the wellbeing of what we care about).’ When our hearts are seeking God’s purposes and plan, then hold on because they will want to see change. We will be affected by what God is doing and changing. And that may be first and foremost in us.” (P. Tim)
Let’s pray, “Lord, may my deepest cares and priorities be rooted in your purposes and plans for my life. May my emotions ever more flow from the ways of your heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.“
Let’s close by singing, “Psalm 139 (Far Too Wonderful)” by Shane and Shane (click here).
Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
“This promise of Ezekiel is that the Lord was going to do more than give the people a stone tablet with his words in them for them to follow. Instead, the Lord was going to go straight into the hearts of the people, and remove from them the very cause for their unfaithfulness—which was their stony hearts… Where God had once written upon stone tablets, he was now going to remove those “hearts of stone”—the complaint of God’s word being far from them and NOT who they were, and in its place put hearts of flesh, where God will place his Holy Spirit, to move the people to follow and obey the ways of the Lord. God’s word is near us because the Lord has written his words of love, healing, salvation, righteousness upon our very hearts with his own finger! Therefore, obeying and following the Lord is who we ARE through and through!” (P. Gus)
Let’s close in prayer: “Father, thank you for changing my heart of stone to a heart of flesh that is obedient and responsive to you. Lead me to proclaim your love and faithfulness today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.“
Let’s close by singing, “Dry Bones (God Is Here)” by Worship Central (click here).
Matthew 18:1-5 (NIV) 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“This little child – is what is great in God’s kingdom… And unless we come as children – small and humble and dependent, we cannot come in. We – who are in God’s kingdom are his little ones… This is the inside-out and right-side-up economy of the kingdom of God… We come like children, those who have nothing – other than faith in the One who does it all. We come not trusting in our own abilities or greatness, but like a child – depending upon the greatness and resources of our God. This is the only way to come in – by faith… This is how the Father sees us as we come in. We are his little ones. To him, we are his children.” (Brenda Rapp)
Let’s close in prayer today by praying, “Father, thank you for inviting me to be your child. Give me a heart of faith today, that loves you and those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.“
Let’s close by singing, “Build My Life” by Housefires (click here).
Let’s read aloud together the following passage and prayer:
Isaiah 40:27-31 NIV 27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Thank you, Father, that you intended your people to find true rest in you. I confess the ways that I search for rest elsewhere, and I confess that you are my true hiding place, where my soul is refreshed. Jesus, you are my Good Shepherd. Lead me again to still waters, and along the right path. Empower and strengthen my life, that I may run tirelessly in your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let’s close by singing, “Waiting Here For You” by Passion (click here).