The Blessings Of Friendship
We are getting to do something today that many here have never had the chance to before and some here will never get the chance to do again: Attend a Sunday morning Church service on the 29th day of February. It only happens once in every 28 years. The last time was 1976 and the next time will be 2032. Let’s make the most of this rare opportunity this morning.
The Blessings Of Friendship
If you have your bibles with you, you can prepare for our scripture reading today by turning to the New Testament book of:
Philippians and finding chapter 3.
While you are turning to the book of Philippians, let me read our Key Scripture for this morning. It is found in:
Key Scripture: Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Jesus defiled Himself so that we could be cleansed
He accepted the punishment for our guilt
He took the correction so that we could live in peace
The blueness of His wounds offer us healing and health
John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Unless you have personally met someone and spent time with them, you really don’t know them. You may know about them, but you really don’t know them. And, there is a big difference.
Speaking about her husband when he was then the current President of the United States, Nancy Reagan once said, “If you knew Ronnie like I know Ronnie, you would love him like I love him.”
Wow, how often do I fail in my feeble attempt to share that same simple sentiment about my Lord and my Friend, Jesus.
To those of you who have not yet met Him, let me try once more:
“If you knew Jesus like I know Jesus, you would love Him like I love Him.”
After my wife and I pioneered our first church and had been pastoring it for about 18 months, I decided to withdraw myself from the business of my daily routine and separate myself to God for a season of prayer and fasting. I did not really know how long this would last, I only wanted to have some uninterrupted one on one time with God.
My parents were out of town for a while so I went to stay in their home. On the third day, sometime in the afternoon, I sat down at a piano and began to play and sing a worship song to the Lord.
“Within the veil I now come; To look upon Your face, and see Your matchless grace. There is such beauty there, none other can compare. I worship You oh Lord, within the veil.”
What happen next is almost indescribable. Through the years I have wrestled with sharing it, partly because I have not wanted to appear a lunatic or too spooky, and partly because it is still ever so vivid and precious a moment to me. However, reading most any account in the New Testament removes my concerns about testifying as to what the Lord has done in me. If I am judged a lunatic, then I am in good company with the many others who have pressed in to know Him.
As I sat that day and worshipped my Lord, I began to feel an almost eerie feeling. A coolness and that gave me goose bumps and made me want to open my eyes and look around the room.
I remember turning my head slightly to the left and looking through a double opening into the kitchen area. I saw what looked like smoke or light fog barely visible, rolling or gently blowing in through the far wall of the kitchen. I felt a slight chill and hesitated to move. It was strange and calming all at the same time.
The cloud continued to increase in size, thickness and got just a little brighter. I felt drawn, invited, humbled to respect the moment and so I rose and walked very slowly, focusing on the cloud rolling in place, and walked to the open doorway between the living room and the kitchen.
When my toe broke the threshold of that doorway, I physically felt the cool mist and some light wind on my bare arms. I fell forward on my face with my arms and hands stretched out in front of me. I immediately began to sob and sob and sob.
I don’t know how long this lasted, I have no idea if it was just a few seconds or a few minutes or much longer. All at once I was aware of my cry going out to God. My heart was broken and I felt such compassion for all the nameless and faceless people who needed help from the Lord. My ears were opened to hear the cry from my spirit. Through the sobs I heard myself saying, “Bless Your people Lord, Bless Your People Lord, Bless Your People Lord.”
My face was wet, my nose running and my body heaving with the sobbing, crying out with each breath for God to bless His people. Then, I heard a voice. It was deep, so deep and full, as though it was coming from a place where it filled up the whole space and I was getting to hear it and reach into it and feel it and it fill me. I believe that I heard the voice of God. I felt the words. This is what He said.
“I have blessed My people. Now, you go and teach them how to walk in My blessings.”
With that, my sobs continued as I felt the presence and cloud roll back out of the room the way it had come in. I set up on my hands and knees, backed out of that room and sat resting against the wall, drying my eyes, wiping my nose and wondering how in the world a young man, living in obscurity, struggling to pastor a few of God’s sheep could ever reach all of the people that God had just placed in my heart and vision.
Nonetheless, after a while, I made my proper response to God and told Him that I would do everything I could, for as long as I lived to carry out my great commission and teach His people how to walk in the blessings which were already available to them through Christ Jesus. All I asked was for Him to show me the way.
Do you have a moment, let me tell you what He showed me.
Have you found the book of Philippians yet?
Philippians 3 (NLT)
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ
9 ¶ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
I. You Can Walk Into The Blessings Of God
A. Step One
1. Let Me Introduce You To Jesus - Meet Him Personally
* First as Savior
* Accept Jesus As Your Savior
2. Do you know Him or do you just know about Him?
* Are you sure you will spend eternity in Heaven with Him?
Matthew 7:23 “I never knew you” this verse explains that the only people who will not be allowed in heaven are those whom Jesus never knew.
* You can know Him right now
> Do you believe?
> Will you humbly ask?
> Jesus wants to save you!
B. Step Two
1. Once you have been introduced to Jesus as Savior
2. You must get to know Him as Lord
* Make Jesus Your Lord
> Learn His Word
> Follow His Example
> Live His Teachings
Philippians 3:12 Be all that Jesus saved you for and wants you to be.
C. Step Three
1. Once you get to know Him as Lord
2. You will become His friend.
* Let Jesus Be Your Friend
II. How Could A Man Be Friends With God?
A. James 2:23 "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." He was even called "the friend of God."
B. James 4:4 Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.
C. John 15:14 You are my friends if you obey me.
D. John 15:13 And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.
III. You Can Walk In God’s Blessed Provisions By
1. Accepting Jesus As Your Savior
2. Making Jesus Your Lord
3. Letting Jesus Be Your Friend