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Greg Laurie - You've Got A Friend

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    Greg Laurie - You've Got A Friend
TOPICS: Friendship

I wanna just start by giving you a message about friendship, friendship. Because we all have friends in some way, shape or form. And why do we need friendship? Because there is an epidemic of loneliness that is sweeping our nation. Social media, it has not made us more sociable, it's made us less sociable and more dysfunctional. Seems like we don't even know how to have a conversation with each other anymore. I read that millennials prefer texting over talking in person. And I think we've forgotten how to interact with one another, and research reveals that three out of every five Americans feel lonely. One source says, quote, "Experts have long known that loneliness and isolation have long ranging effects on the mind and the body, ranging from anxiety and depression, to vulnerability to illness," end quote.

Yet they have found one or two friendships can dramatically decrease loneliness. I read one article on the Vox News site that headlined "Why Friendships Are Different Than Any Other Relationship That We Have". And they stated "12% of Americans have no close friendships compared with 3% in 1990". They concluded, "We as a society have atomized". In other words, we're working, shipping, and socializing online. And our phones have become the primary portal through which we view the outside world. Wow, that's not good.

Imagine if everyone behaved in real life like they behaved on Twitter. People would be yelling at each other on the street for no good reason. But this is the problem today, and we see that we're missing something because listen, we all need to have living, breathing friends, not anonymous people you play video games with across the planet. Not people who comment on your posts, we need human interaction. God created you this way, you're not meant to do life alone. That is why this social experiment of shutting everything down not only in our nation but around the world has been such a massive failure, and it's created so many problems. With our children missing so much of their school, they shut down schools and parks and beaches and even churches. None of this was necessary and it made an existing problem even worse. We need each other, we need to talk together, this is the way God made us.

A friendship is made up of two people committing themselves one to another, it can only exist where there is a response, it needs to be reciprocal. And a true friend can open his heart to another friend and a classic example of friendship is found in the story of David and Jonathan. 1 Samuel 18 verses 1 to 3 describes it. "After David had finished talking with Saul he met Jonathan, the king's son. There was an immediate bond between them for Jonathan loved David and Jonathan made a solemn pact with David because he loved him as he loved himself". Isn't that a great verse? There's no closer friendship in the Bible than that of David and Jonathan and what a pair they were. David, the unknown shepherd boy from the country, friends with Jonathan, the son of King Saul the prince. So, royalty and a common man.

So if you're taking notes, here's point number one. We need godly friendships. We need godly friendships. In the first stage of your life, you're shaped mostly by your family. In the second stage, or the rest of your life, you're shaped largely by your friends. You become most like the people you spend time with, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future". Friends will influence you for better or for worse. They'll either bring you up or they'll take you down. Some people bring joy wherever they go, others bring joy whenever they go. Which one are you? Are you Bobby Buzzkill or Debbie Downer? Are you the one that lights up a room or turns the lights off? Are you the one that builds others up, or you're always dragging them down?

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:24, "There are friends that destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother". Proverbs 22:24 says, "Don't befriend angry people or associate with hot tempered people". That's why godly friendships are so important. There's an old saying, quote, "Fear that man who fears not God". It's also been said, "He is your friend that pushes you closer to God". He is your friend that pushes you closer to God. Let me turn that around. He is not your friend that pulls you away from God. In Psalm 1 it says, "Happy as the man that does not walk in the council of the ungodly or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in God's Word and in it he meditates day and night". But notice, he doesn't let ungodly people influence him.

Now, having said that, you do need to have friendships with non-believers. I have some friends that are not Christians, and I've maintained these friendships with them over the years and my hope and goal is to move them toward Christ, and we want to influence them. But your close friends, the ones you confide in, the ones that you spend the most time with should be godly people. Find a godly friend and be that godly friend for someone else. But if your friend has no relationship with God and they're dragging you down, it may be time to part company.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Don't be misled, bad company corrupts good character". 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul says, "Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, and love and peace along with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart". Run with godly people that will encourage you, that will build you up because friends really matter. Because we influence them and then they influence us. David had a friend like that in Jonathan. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Encourage each other and build each other up". It really matters what we say to each other.

I read about a team of researchers in the Netherlands that did an intense study of people's brains. And here's their conclusion. Verbal insults hurt, they determined insults linger longer than praise or compliments do. I have a two-part response, number one, duh, number two, I think researchers in the Netherlands have too much time in their hands. But I think we all know that, right? You hear a compliment, "Oh thank you," but that insult, woo, it stays with you. "Looking a little chunky in those jeans, aren't you"? "What"? 20 years later you still remember it. Maybe something a teacher said to you, maybe something someone else said to you. You carry it with you, that insult lingers. That's why we wanna build each other up.

Number two, true friends support each other through thick and thin. True friends support each other through thick and thin. They're consistent. Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity". A friend can help you through hard times. Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ". You know, because a real friend will listen to you, you can open your heart to them and they won't jump down your throat or start judging you. They'll try to hear what you have to say, and try to help you bear that burden.

James 1:10 says, Hey, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry". But sometimes we're the opposite, we're slow to listen and quick to get angry. And but two friends can share their burdens with one another. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, "Two people are better off than one, they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help, but someone who falls alone is in real trouble". I titled this message "You've Got A Friend". That's a title of a song written by Carol King. And in the lyric she sings, "You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again. Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you gotta do is call and I'll be there. Yes, I will, you've got a friend".

If you've got a friend like that, that's gold man. Treasure that person and try to be that friend for someone else, because a true friend can suffer with you. The Bible says "Weep with those that weep". And you know, after our son went to be with the Lord, I had friends that just spent time with me. And honestly, I didn't need a sermon, I didn't need someone to try to explain it to me, there was no explanation, but I had friends that were just there and just loved me and prayed for me and maybe brought me a meal. And that mattered so much just to be there at a time of need. So weep with those that weep.

And maybe you have a friend who calls you and says, "Oh man my boyfriend just broke up with me". Or, "Oh I just got fired from my job". Or, you know, "I just got bad news from a doctor". "Oh man, I'm so sorry". But the Bible doesn't just say, "Weep with those that weep". It says, "Rejoice with those that rejoice". So the same friend calls you back the next day and they say, "Guess what? I just won the lottery. I have a hundred million dollars". Or they say, "Oh hey, I just found a new boyfriend. As a matter of fact, it's your boyfriend". So wait, what? It says, "Weep with those that weep". Yeah, I got that. Rejoice with those that rejoice, not so easy, not so easy, because we might think, "Well, that should have happened to me". Well, back to David and Jonathan. They had this friendship where Jonathan could honestly rejoice over the success of David. It's amazing.

Number three, true friends tell each other the truth. True friends tell each other the truth. How do you know the difference between an acquaintance and a friend? Friends are the ones you call on the phone and tell them what you're going through, you share a joy with them, you share a burden with them, you let them into your life. Proverbs 27:10 says, "The heartfelt council of a friend is as sweet as perfume". And a true friend will tell you, "What's up"? You can bounce things off of them. You have certain friends that always say, "Oh, it's great, it's great".

Then you have other friends that go, "That's lame, don't do that". Maybe you have a new outfit. "This is my new outfit, I'm gonna wear it". Your friend says, "No way, don't do it. You look so stupid in it". "Oh, thank you, thank you for telling me that 'cause they're a true friend". They'll tell you the truth. Proverbs 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Open rebuke is better than secret love". Think about this, faithful are the wounds of a friend. It just means they tell you the truth. As Oscar Wild once said, "A true friend stabs you in the front". See, not in the back, in the front. A true friend will tell you right to your face. Because listen, sometimes friendships fracture, sometimes problems develop.

That brings me to point number four, true friends resolve their conflicts and I'm gonna update that point. True friends attempt to resolve their conflicts 'cause some conflicts can't be resolved. Some people cannot be reconciled with. You understand what I'm saying? This is why the Bible says, "As much as it is possible, live at peace with all men". Aren't you glad the Bible says, "As much as it is possible". I've had certain people that maybe we had a little fracture in our friendship, I reach out to them, no response, nothing, they just don't want to be reconciled with. I don't know what to do with that person. I pray for them. Don't be that person, because sometimes we'll hear something about someone, and we'll talk about them instead of talking to them.

See, this is the thing, when you have a conflict, you don't talk about the person, you talk to the person and first of all, find out your information is right. On so many occasions, I've heard things spread about people that are not true, so the entire argument is based on a false assumption and if they had merely gone to the person and asked them, they would've realized it's not as they thought. But they say, "Well the Bible says if someone's overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should kick them while they're down, spread it on social media". No, it doesn't say that. Says, "If a brother or a sister is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should seek to restore them".

Matthew 18:15, Jesus says, "If another believer sins against you," listen, "Go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses, you've won that person back". And listen, you're gonna have conflict in marriage. We'll get into this later. You're gonna have arguments, I've told you before, don't tell me you have irreconcilable differences in your marriage. "I've had irreconcilable differences with my wife for almost 50 years". But are they really irreconcilable, we're just different, right? We have to work through these things. I've had couples come up to me and say, "We wanna get married, would you perform our wedding"? And I'll say, "Well how long have you known each other"? "Oh, six months". Then I'll ask, have you had an argument yet? "Oh no". Then they look at each other, all lovey dovey. "We don't ever argue". I'll say, "Get out, go away. Go have a fight".

I don't mean a physical fight. "Go have a conflict and learn how to resolve it because if you don't, you're gonna have a tough time in your marriage," right? Married people, am I right on this? You know what I'm talking about. So when you're having a conflict, learn to listen. Proverbs 18:13 says, "Only a fool answers a matter before he's heard it".

Now I know you think your friend or your mate is wrong, and maybe they are and maybe they aren't. Or maybe they have a few good points and you have a few good points and it's not as black and white as you think it is. So just for a moment, shut up and listen. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Okay, let me just hear. And don't interrupt them, don't talk over them, just listen. Okay, tell me what the issue is, tell me what your concerns are and then respond. And don't use phrases like you know, "You always," that's childish, you always. And you start escalating it and the voices start getting louder. You start insulting them, sometimes the best thing you can do when a conflict is starting is walk away for a little bit of time if you need to, but learn to resolve it if you can. Try to find a resolution.

Ephesians 4:26 says, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger". So don't go to sleep mad at each other, listen to this, fight to resolve not to win. Fight to resolve not to win. If you go in it to win, you lose even if you win. One last point, Jesus is the perfect friend, right? He is. Jesus is the perfect friend. John 15:15, Jesus says, "I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. You are my friends because I've told you everything the Father has told me". Come on, what? Jesus is my friend, Jesus is your friend. He reveals secrets.

See, that's what a friend can do, I can tell you a secret and you'll keep my secret. You can tell a secret to Jesus. By the way, he knows it already, so just tell him he knows it. "But Lord, this is something I wanna say to you, this is something I struggle with. This is something that's hard for me". Call upon him. Ah, but he'll reveal his secrets to you. The Bible says "The secret of the Lord is with those that fear him". He'll revealed things to you from his Word that other people don't know. Non-believers who maybe are the most educated people you've ever met with degrees hanging on their wall, they don't know what you know because you have a friendship with God.

And God has revealed things to you because you are his child, but you are also his friend. But listen to this, there's a caveat here. If we're gonna call Jesus our friend, there are some responsibilities that go with that relationship. Jesus said in John 15:14, "You are my friends if you do what I command". You're my friends if you do what I command. So if you're really a friend of God, you'll obey him continually. Now, that doesn't mean you're perfect. 'Cause you're gonna trip up, you're gonna fall, you're gonna fail, okay and we know that. But it means, well I fail, but I'm gonna get up and recommit myself to the Lord again, it's sort of like getting married. You say I do on your wedding day, but then you say, I do for every day and week and month that follows again, and again, and again, you honor that commitment.

And in the same way, you come to the Lord each and every day and say, "Lord, I fall short, I need your help. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. But I wanna be your friend and do what you command me". "You are my friends". Jesus says, "If you do whatever I command". He did not say, "You are my friends, if you do whatever you agree with". Sometimes people say, "Well, I don't agree with this verse in the Bible". Oh, interesting, you're wrong, you are. "Well, I just don't know in this modern culture in which", shut up, you're wrong. Bible doesn't change. We don't wanna adapt the Bible to our culture, we need to adapt our culture to the Bible, see, that's the problem. "You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you". Or he doesn't say, "You are my friends, if you do whatever you find easy or whatever you're comfortable with".

Look I'll be honest with you, there are things in the Bible I'm not comfortable with. I'm not comfortable with loving enemies. I'm not comfortable with turning the other cheek. I'm not comfortable with some things God tells me to do, but this is what the Bible says, and that's a standard we are to seek to live by. You are my friend says Jesus if you do whatever I command you. Do you have this friendship with God? God longs for this friendship with you. He wants to be your friend, what an offer but as I said earlier, there can only be a friendship when there's give and take, when we reciprocate and say, "Yes, I want that friendship with you, Lord. I want to walk with you and know you in a personal way". And that can happen for each and every one of us. Jesus has proven this friendship because he said, "Greater love has no man than this and he laid down his life for his friends".
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