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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Moving From Loneliness to Companionship - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Loneliness to Companionship - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Loneliness to Companionship - Part 2
TOPICS: Invincible, Companionship, Loneliness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". It's ironic to think that even though we've reached new levels of connection, thanks to modern travel and technology, loneliness has become an epidemic. Computers, cell phones, and social media do little to cure our deep seated feelings of isolation. So today we're going to look at the Bible's remedy for loneliness. My message is titled "Moving from Loneliness to Companionship," as we continue our series "Invincible," on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

When I look at the New Testament, of course my first thought, when I think of somebody who experienced isolation was our Lord himself. Jesus felt the pain of being betrayed by his closest followers, by his friends, his disciples, even his own family turned their back on Jesus, but most painful of all, Jesus felt being abandoned by God. As he hung on the cross he cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? Don't try to explain away that verse. Jesus meant what he said, he felt abandoned by God. Have you ever felt that way before? That God doesn't hear your cry to him, Jesus experience that, that's the ultimate loneliness and then I think about the apostle Paul.

Turn over to second Timothy chapter four, this is the last letter he wrote before was beheaded. Remember Paul was actually imprisoned in Rome on two different occasions. The first imprisonment was from 60 to 62 ad, he was really under house arrest, had a lot of freedom. He could receive visitors, he could write letters that's where the prison epistles came from: Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon, the prison epistles. But then he was arrested again and this time he was put in the Mamertine prison. Many of us have been there before. To call it a prison is really overstating it, it was really more like a hole in the ground that the sewage ran through. It would make San Quentin and Alcatraz today look like the Ritz Carlton. I mean, it was a horrible place to be and as Paul was there awaiting his trial and his ultimate beheading, he wrote this letter to Timothy. He said, "Please come to me as soon as you can," verse nine of chapter four. And then he went on to say again in verse 21, "Make every effort to come before winter".

Timothy was in Ephesus, it would take four months to get there. And he said, "I want you to get here before winter because I need you to bring me some things. I need a cloak, I'm getting cold and by the way, when you come bring the books and the book". The books probably were early drafts of the Gospels that had just been written by 62. The book was probably our reference for the parchments, the Old Testament. But then he started to do an honest assessment with Timothy of what had happened to him. He said in verse 16, "At my first defense, no one supported me but all deserted me". And he pointed out several people whom he was terribly disappointed in who had left him. He said, "Demas," verse 10, "Demas has forsaken me, a fellow worker because he loved this present world". Paul had trusted Demas but Demas said, "I'm tired of the persecution, I'm tired of living in poverty, I'm out of here". And then he said not only did Demas forsake me verse 14, "Alexander, the coppersmith did me much harm, the Lord will pay him according to his deeds".

This word that is translated did me much harm is a word that refers to snitching on somebody, an informant. Apparently Alexander accused Paul of sedition to the Roman authorities that led to his ultimate trial and martyrdom. Well, understand what Paul was doing here. Paul, wasn't having a pity party for himself in the Mamertine prison. He was being honest with his protege, Timothy, a young pastor. He said, "Timothy, don't depend on other people. The people I trusted in they left me, but bring the scriptures when you come". What I'm trying to say to you is loneliness is natural, but it doesn't have to be a lethal. And there is a way out of the shadow of loneliness and in the few moments that we have left right now, I want to open God's word and talk about what I call the ABCs of moving from loneliness to companionship.

First of all, a, acknowledge your feelings of loneliness. Don't try to slap on a superficial smile or engage in holy hallelujahs or pious platitudes when they don't fit. Be honest with yourself and with God about your feelings, David was. He cried out in Psalm 22:16, "Turn to me and be gracious to me for I am lonely and afflicted". B, be proactive in conquering loneliness. You may make the moves you need to, to conquer the problem of loneliness. It may begin with looking at yourself. Why is it there aren't people around you? What is the cause of your loneliness? It could be a poor self-image. Maybe you're thinking I don't deserve to have friends, or I've got this physical defect or this personality disorder or I don't have the right heritage or background, my economic level isn't what it needs to be to attract the friends... You can come up with all these self-image reasons.

Remember Ephesians 2:10 Paul said, "For we are God's workmanship, created by Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them". That word workmanship is the Greek word poiema we get poem from it. You realize you are God's poem, you are the expression of God himself and every part of your life Psalm 1:39 says your physical characteristics, your personality, everything about you, the days of your life and how you live them were all foreordained by God. There are no accidents. Maybe as you look inwardly, it's not a self-image that's the problem, it's selfishness. You say, "I'm too busy to have any friends," that's code for I'm too wrapped up in myself to have any friends. Remember friendship, companionship is not a luxury, it's a necessity. And maybe it's time for you to reach out to other people. Have you ever heard the expression maybe your parents used it with you, the best way to have a friend is to what? Be a friend, reach out to somebody else. Paul actually said the same thing.

In Philippians 2:3-4 he said, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others". You want to have friends? Try this, try meeting somebody else's need. Ask, what can I do to help you? If you'll make that move, you'll have more friends than you'll know what to do with. People are clamoring to be around somebody who takes an interest in them. You know, the thing I want you to understand is friendship again, isn't a luxury it is absolutely essential for our spiritual, our emotional, even our physical wellbeing.

An article in the magazine, "Modern Maturity," said quote, researchers have determined that participation in formal social networks, that is church and community groups, is an even more important predictor of mortality than a person's health. That's an amazing statement when you think about it. The greatest determining factor of how long you live is not your blood pressure, it's not your cholesterol, it is whether or not you're connected to other people. Now, as we think about reaching out to other people and filling our life with friends, companionship, we need to review the four levels of companionship so we don't have greater expectations than are realistic. The most basic level of friendship, the beginning level is acquaintances. These are people you run into every week. You don't know their name, you just see people at the grocery store, you see them at school, you see them at church, but you have no interaction with them. This is where most friendships began but with most of these people, it will never evolve into anything else.

Before the pandemic, most people had about 100 to 150 people a week that they had some contact with on a superficial level, acquaintances. The second level is a casual friends. These are people that we have some contact with. Most of the time, we will know their first names, but if we do engage in conversations, it's only superficial things, the weather, the stock market, sports and so forth. The third level is close friends. Most people, if they're fortunate have anywhere from five to 25 of these people. These are people with whom you have a shared interest, perhaps shared spiritual views. These are people that you feel comfortable asking to pray with you for example, about a certain situation. Again, if we have five to 25 close friends, that's a good thing. But the forth, the deepest level of companionship would be intimate friends. These are people you allow into your personal world. These are people with whom, even if one moves away and you don't see them for a month, a year, when you see them again, you pick up right where you left off again. There's just a bond there. These are the people that if you had a crisis in your life at three o'clock in the morning, these are the people or this is the person you would call. If you have one to no more than five of these, you are a blessed person.

Now the key is we need all four levels, but acquaintances, casual friends, aren't going to feel the void that you need for companionship. It may be the pool out of which those people come, but we all need close friends and we need intimate friends. And the best place to find those close friends and intimate friends who will encourage you is the church. It just is. The church is the best place to find those people. I want you to turn over to Hebrews chapter 10 for just a moment. Hebrews chapter 10. Remember, the Hebrew Christians were under persecution, they were in danger of giving up their faith and the writer says in verse 23, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful". Don't waver in your faith. Well, that's right to say, but how do you keep from wavering? Look at verse 24, "And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near". Church family, we need to be together to encourage one another. We need to be together.

One of the most destructive consequences of this pandemic for the last year has been making it difficult for us as a church to come together, be together, to encourage one another. I'm grateful for online ministry, God's blessed our online ministry, but I think even those of you who are watching online would agree, it is a substitute, not a replacement for being together. We were created as a church to be together. Now, that's straight from God's word, that's straight from God's word, we need one another. We're like those porcupines up in northern Canada, in the frozen tundra region that huddle together to keep warm. They needed each other, even though they needled each other. We need one another in the body of Christ. How do you deal with loneliness? A, acknowledge your feelings, b, be proactive in conquering loneliness, and third, cultivate your relationship with God.

St. Augustine said this, "You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you". Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, a relationship with God is that final piece that makes the picture complete. We need God. Now I know some of you are probably saying, "Wait a minute preacher, you're contradicting yourself. Don't you just remember what you said earlier"? You said in Genesis 2:18, it's not good that man alone, Adam had a relationship with God, it wasn't enough. That's all true. But remember this, put it down on your outline, having a relationship with God alone does not prevent loneliness, but not having a relationship with God guarantees loneliness. You see the difference? Having a relationship with God alone, doesn't prevent loneliness, but not having that relationship guarantees it. It all begins with our relationship with God. David understood that. Remember in Psalm 25:18 after he had admitted his loneliness, he said, "Look upon my affliction and my trouble and forgive all my sins". For David, cultivating a relationship with God, for the man who was a man after God's own heart, it started with the confession of sin.

Maybe that's where it starts for you. Maybe you're a Christian and you've allowed some sin in your life to become a barrier between you and God, confess that sin, but cultivating a relationship with God doesn't stop there. It means communicating with God and allowing God to communicate to you through his word. So I'm 119:24-25 David said, "Your testimonies are also my delight. They are my counselors. My soul cleaves to the dust, revive me according to your word". There's something about being in scripture that revives our relationship with God. It gets us out of that bubble of isolation. Remember Paul said, "Bring me the books and bring me the book as I'm alone in this prison cell". We have many of you who are prisoners who watch our program week, you understand that isolation and I'm so proud of some of you I hear from who are studying God's word, you're listening to our broadcast, you're drawing near to God.

Paul said, "I need God's word," 1500 years after Paul said that, there was another man who looked to God's word to revive him and his relationship with God. His name was William Tyndale the Bible translator, the reformer, the great Bible scholar. He was imprisoned in Belgium and he wrote to the Marquis of Bergen this words, "I beg you your Lordship and that by the Lord, Jesus, that if I must remain here for the winter, you were begged the commissary to be so kind as to send me from the things that belonged to me, a warm cap I feel the cold painfully in my head, also a warmer cloak for the cloak I have is very thin. He also has a woolen shirt of mine if he will send that. But most of all, my Hebrew Bible, grammar and vocabulary, please send those, that I may spend time in that pursuit".

I'm going to tell you after studying Hebrew for three years at Dallas seminary, if I were on my death bed, the last thing I would ask for is a Hebrew Old Testament. There is nothing about that that would revive me at all, it would finish me off, but for William Tyndale, the pursuit of that Hebrew Old Testament was the same thing as pursuing God, the way you pursue God is through his word. Listen to me today, like the apostle Paul, like when William Tyndale, if you are in the shadow of loneliness, if it has overtaken every part of your life, remember the beginning place for concrete loneliness, not the ending place. The beginning place is cultivating, renewing your relationship with God.
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