Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Importance of Friends

These are the notes from a lesson I taught at our church.


Tyler is sitting alone at lunch, AGAIN….
When he moved to Vermont six months ago, he knew it would take time to make new friends. But he thought that after six months he would have at least one friend. The one person he thought was his friend stopped hanging out him when he found out Tyler’s dad was in prison. AND that kid told a bunch of other kids about Tyler’s dad, even though it was supposed to be a secret. Tyler is lonely. He wants friends, but does not know how to make them. He wonders what he can do to make more friends. He wonders why the one kid he thought was a friend would tell people about his dad. He wonders how he will be able to trust any friend again after having his big secret told to everyone.

Does Tyler’s story sound familiar? Many people struggle with making friends. Especially if they have moved to a new area, or enrolled in a new school or have some family secret they are keeping.

Let’s think for a minute about our own friendships.
             Are we a good friend to others?
             Do we choose the right kind of friends?
             Would we like to have more friends?
             Are our friends are a bad influence on us?
             Do we have one “best” friend or do we have several “best” friends?
             Does our family like our friends?
             Have we changed “best” friends more than once in the last couple of years?
             How important do we think it is for a Christian have some good Christian friends?
             Can we find good Christian friends at church?

Think for moment, who is our best friend? Think of at least three reasons why this person is a good friend to us?

If our evaluation of our own friendships is not as positive as we wish it were, what can we do to improve the quality of our friendships?

Let’s think about the experience Job had with some friends in the Bible.

Job 2:11 - Now when Job’s three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—heard about all this adversity that had happened to him, each of them came from his home. They met together to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.

             Job was a real person who lived a very long time ago.
             He was quite wealthy, had a large family, and was in very good health.
             He was a very spiritual man and tried to obey God in everything he did.
             One day the Devil went to God and said that Job only followed God because God had blessed him with lots of money, family and health.
             The Devil said that if God let the Devil take away his money, his family and his health, Job would no longer follow God.
             God gave the Devil permission to do bad things to Job, but also gave the Devil limits of what he could do.
             In a short time the Devil destroyed Job’s wealth, killed his family and made Job very sick.
             When Job’s friends heard about all his troubles, they came to comfort him.
             First they just sat down beside him in the dirt. They did not know what to say, so they just sat with him in silence for seven whole days!
             This is important because sometimes when a friend is going through a difficult time, we do not know what to say. But instead of avoiding that friend, we should be with them, even if we just sit and silence.
             After a while, the friends did start talking to Job.
             Some of what they said was an encouragement to him. But some of it was not very encouraging.
             They thought that perhaps he had done something wrong and God was punishing him.
             But Job had not done anything wrong and his troubles were not a punishment from God. An awkward, but important conversation ensued between Job and his friends.
             Even though some of what Job’s friends said was not helpful, at least they were there for Job and tried to encourage him the best they could.
             We can learn a lot from Job’s story about how friendships are important, even when they are not perfect.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 - Two are better than one because … if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
             These verses were written by King Solomon, whom history says was the wisest man to ever live, other than Jesus.
             Solomon said that it was good to have a friend because if we get in some kind of trouble, friends can help each other.
             But if we do not have a friend, then we will have no one to help us.
             So even though our friends will sometimes make mistakes and let us down, having friends is still better than being completely alone.

Proverbs 18:24 - A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
             If we want more friends, we must be friendly.
             Though there are many ways to be friendly, one of the most important is learning how to have a good conversation with others.
             We should remember though, that no matter how friendly we are, sometimes friends will still let us down. After all, they are only human.
             But there is one Friend who is always there for us and will never let us down. His name is Jesus.
             Jesus will always be there for us. Take five minutes to watch this video and listen to the words.
             http://youtu.be/iNeOmrq37MI
             If we have not yet made Jesus our friend, we should. Having Jesus as friend gives us someone to talk to when everyone else has let us down. That is important when we are going through a difficult time in life.

Conclusion:
1. We all need friends, even though friends sometimes make mistakes.
2. Friends help us get through bad times and if we do not have some, bad times are REALLY bad.
3. We must be friendly to others in order to have more friends ourselves.
4. Since all human friends will occasionally fail us, we must make sure Jesus is our friend too, because He will never fail us.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I think an important note as well would be that God challenges us and stretches our comfort zone by bringing us into close relationship with friends. This means that if we run into hard times with that friend, then God is calling us to stand our ground, work through problems and not just bail on those people we have shared our hearts with. These kind of relationship skills are critical to future marriages. Our culture teaches that it’s ok to bail on relationships starting at a young age. Just a couple thoughts as I read this.

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  2. thank you for this. I am going to print it out and have my son read it. He has been going through a very hard time at school in regards to bullying, which makes his self-esteem drop even further. We would appreciate your prayers.

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  3. Great article

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  4. Thank you for reminding us of this great message. No matter what our age, we can all use a reminder that Jesus is our one true friend and He chose us to carry on His message to the world.

    It's hard enough for adults to navigate in these confusing times, never mind being teenagers trying to hold on to "something" not knowing that Jesus never lets go is our heart belongs to Him.

    Shirley

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  5. Thanks David, Bob and Shirley, I'm glad the article was a blessing. And Dave, you are so right!

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  6. My name is Mary, and I am producing a documentary for tv about preacher's kids (15-23). Please pass this along to anyone who might be interested. They can email me to participate. greatfilms1@gmail.com.

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