26 September 2011

Burdens, Blessings and a Friend

“I will be with you always.”
– Matthew 28:20

I’ve been writing a lot lately about friendship and gratitude. We’ve talked about needing friends, being a friend, and about the blessings that can be found if we are thankful in all things.

Today at church the two topics came together in a surprising way. Our pastor has been doing a sermon series entitled “The God of All Comfort,” and the message he shared today was about the comfort of steadying strength, based on 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Below I am sharing some points the Pastor made, supporting scripture verses, and my thoughts from today’s message.

1) Find Refuge in the Lord.
Scripture: “Pour out your heart to God, for He is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).
Thought: Pouring out our heart ... Isn’t that what we do when with our best friend? We have common interests, share everything, listen to each other, care about and encourage one another, and give/ seek advice.

I was reminded of the song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, written by Joseph Scriven in the 1800’s. Over two hundred years later, his words still assure us that Jesus will bear our sins and grief, our trials and temptations, our troubles and heavy loads. The song still reminds us what a “privilege” it is to carry everything to the Lord in prayer, and that He will never forsake us.

In Acts 4:13, it was evident that Peter and John were truly friends of Jesus. People could tell they were followers of Jesus by the changes in their lives. I asked myself, “Am I truly a friend of Jesus? Do my actions reflect the refuge I find in the Lord?”

2) Reject a Bitter Spirit.
Scripture: “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you ... it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives” (Hebrews 12:15).
Thought: Bitterness corrodes from the inside out, but it is impossible to be bitter when you have a spirit of gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that we need to give thanks to God IN all circumstances. It does not say FOR our circumstances.

During our communion service a soloist sang Blessings which is a popular song performed by Christian artist Laura Story. When we share everything with a friend, we acknowledge the good and the bad. The same is true with being thankful. Through our gratitude we are given insight to God’s work in every aspect of our lives (even the blessings which may come through difficult times – our “mercies in disguise).

3) Remind myself of the strength of the Lord’s Resources.
Scripture: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
Thought: Everyone longs for friendship, to be in relationships. But unfortunately our earthly friendships eventually come to an end. God desires a relationship with us too, but it is a different kind of connection - His is an eternal friendship.

Today I was reminded that there had to be weakness in order for there to be power in the resurrection. When Joseph Scriven wrote the words to the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” he wrote from the pain and experience of his grief, burdens, trials, and sorrow.

John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” God has asked us to practice that same sacrificial love with others. When we acknowledge our blessings, we can truly see the goodness, power, and strength of the Lord. It is important to share that knowledge and truth with others. “Do I have a friend that needs to know this kind of love?”

Today I am thankful that I have a best friend. His name is Jesus. He wants to be your friend too. We should never take any friendship for granted, so this week ... visualize Jesus walking, working, and standing beside you throughout the day - speak to Him as you would your best friend. “In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there” (Scriven, J).

May you find peace “in His arms” today and every day.
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

Don’t walk in front of me. I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me. I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend.
- Albert Camus

No comments: