August 15, 2021
Blessed Are Those Who Seek the Lord
Power in Faith-Filled Friends
Sunday, August 15, 2021
How precious and wonderful is the gift of friendship!
The friends we have make life so much sweeter don’t they?
When something incredible happens-who do you want to tell? Your close friends right? When everything is falling apart-who do you come undone with? Your friends closest to you.
Who do you let your hair down around, who can make your cheeks hurt from laughing so hard, who do you tell your fears to or let your quirks be fully known? Who do you share your dreams with knowing you can trust being vulnerable because your friends care for you-they have your back and they want the best for you?
Sometimes it’s not until we lose a dear friend for whatever reason, that we realize the great value in the friendship we had and how precious that gift really was and is. I have had and lost friends in my life several times now and while it hurts, I can look back on each one with a grateful heart for the times we shared and how they made my life richer while they were in it. I pray I did the same for them.
Sometimes our friends are with us just for a season but their friendship was a gift none the less and of great value in that season we shared our lives with one another. They were there during a critical point in our lives, or maybe we were there for them and God’s plans had us go in different directions at some point. That’s ok. I pray when we find ourselves in these situations we shine the light of Christ bright on those we are joined with, even temporarily and leave His light in their hearts as He calls them or us elsewhere. Let their burdens be lighter and their hope in Jesus greater for having known you.
Sometimes friendships can form in the most unlikely places or with the most unlikely people and yet by God’s ordaining, we have a friendship begin to blossom.
This is what I love about the church. Look around for a moment. Some of you have grown up in this church and were initially brought here by your parents, but over time, this became your family by choice and a home to you. Others have come over the years brought here in God’s timing and by His drawing. He has grafted each one of us together into this family, into His Body and wonderful friendships have been formed. Would we all hang out together, share our stories, our burdens, our joys together had we not been drawn to this church? Would we even know each other? BUT GOD in His infinite wisdom and care, has drawn us all together so we could know Him more and enjoy the precious gift of friendship with one another.
The reason the gift is so precious is because we are joined together by the Holy Spirit. His Spirit and love flows through each of us towards the other. This is the true gift of the church-the friendship and fellowship with the saints! As we come to know one another, there is an understanding of our humanness, our frailty, and there is an encouragement and strength we find in the friendship of other believers we can’t find anywhere else. There is Power in Faith-Filled Friends and that is what we’re going to talk about today. The power that is activated by the faith of our friends!
Thank You Lord for those who are faithful and lift us up, who stand beside us and even carry us when we are weak or when we fall. Thank You Lord that You place those people in our lives exactly when we need them to be our rock, to remind us of Your promises and to just sit with us when life is hard. Thank You Lord for faith-filled friends who don’t sit idly by and watch us crash, but lovingly remind us of Your Truth, who shine light into our darkness and lift our gaze when we are lying in the gutters of life and say to us, “You are made for better things. This is not for you.”
Your Word tells us in Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
I pray we each come to see the value in this truth and give thanks to You Father God for the faithful friends You have placed in our lives-that we would see how they care for us with a love not of this world.
These are the friends we should be praying for. This is the kind of friend we should be to others, with the leading of the Holy Spirit directing our actions and words. Faith-filled friends-who storm the gates of heaven on our behalf, who intercede in prayer for us, who walk that extra mile with us and always shine a light for us to see the path to Jesus- our Savior, our Peace, our Healer, our Comforter and our Hope. This requires a boldness that is not of this world but rises up in us through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
You see, Jesus, our Greatest Friend, is more concerned about our eternal well-being than He is about our temporary pleasure or acceptance of others in this world. He’s not caught up in worrying if He will hurt our feelings when He speaks truth because everything He does comes from a place of genuine love and is spoken with a pureness of love. Jesus took extreme measures to care for His friends. He willingly laid His life down for us. Greater love has no one than this-a person will lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.
When Jesus sees His followers take extreme measures of faith He can’t help but respond with compassion. He delights when we act with boldness of faith for someone else’s benefit. His heart swells with joy because then He is watching a reflection of Himself being lived out through you and me and this is exactly what He means when He says, “Follow Me.”
Let’s pray and invite the boldness of the Holy Spirit to manifest in our hearts today and give us a fresh perspective of the power and gift of faith-filled friends!
Lord come and shine Your light in our hearts today. You call us friends Jesus and we thank You for the gift of friendship we have in You. We thank You for the friendship we have with other Believers and Your Spirit that joins us together. Speak Your Truth into our hearts that we may know the great value in faith-filled friendships- how to cherish them and how to be one to others. In Your name Jesus we pray. Amen.
Blessed are those who seek the Lord. Blessed are those who have friends who will seek the Lord on their behalf! That is a gift we can’t put a price on. This is the gift one man had in his friends.
There was a paralyzed man who wanted to see Jesus to hear Him and maybe even be healed by him. Fortunately for him, he had some incredible friends who also heard of Jesus and believed in Him. They were willing to take extreme measures to help their friend encounter Jesus. Blessed are those who seek the Lord!
Mark 2: 1-5 NIV
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
This accounting goes on for several more verses but we’re going to stop here and focus on these first five today and what we can learn about the power of faith-filled friends. Let’s look anew and see why we want to cherish these friends and why we want to be one of these friends for others.
- Rally Around You
Faith-filled friends rally around you in your time of need. They don’t abandon you and wish you the best of luck in your hardship; they walk through it with you. This man’s friends knew there was no way their friend was going to be able to get anywhere near Jesus without help. They didn’t focus on themselves and what they could get from Jesus. They didn’t hesitate to work together and make sure their friend with the greatest need, had a front row seat to meet the Messiah.
I read a saying while prepping this message,
“Wait until you’re down with no strength to rise…you’ll see who offers you a hand. Not everyone wants to see you get up.” -Alfa.
This is the gift of a faith-filled friend. We rally. We build one another up. We encourage each other to rise up, to look up and remember the hope we have in Christ. We don’t run away; we stand…together.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
Proverbs 18:24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
The apostle Paul spoke to this gift of friendship with those who live by faith and how good it is to come together. This is the gift of what we experience when we allow ourselves to be immersed into the family of the church-that God grafts us into. We can sit on the sidelines, but when we allow ourselves to be real with one another, to share with one another, to spend time together… we see how beautiful and wonderful the whole design of the Church really is.
You see the paralyzed man had to also be willing to receive the help of his friends didn’t he? There was no way he could get to Jesus on his own. So he had to humble himself, swallow his pride and see the gift of kindness and love expressed by his friends who would carry him to Jesus. Would there be a scene? Yep. Would he be front and center with his iniquity? Yep. But he chose to focus on the greater that could come from that and the goodness of his friends who would be willing to be in that scene with him. He focused on the faith they had and their faith built up his faith. We miss all of this when we won’t accept the help that we desperately need at times.
Romans 1: 11-12 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Find those who will rally around you and give thanks to God for them. Stick close to them.
2. Carry You When You Are Weak
The faithful friend recognizes when we’re too weak to walk on our own and carries us.
Mark 2:3 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture of friendship, love and faith? They made sure their friend wasn’t going to miss an encounter with Jesus-because meeting Jesus was exactly what their friend needed.
Isn’t Jesus who we all need? Truly. We talk about it all the time as we wrestle with trying to solve problems on our own, trying to fix everything on our own, trying to be independent…but the truth is, for every problem, every ailment, every fear, every worry… Jesus is our answer.
Faithful friends will remind us of this truth when we forget or lose our way. Faithful friends will reach down a hand to pick us up, dust us off and say let’s walk this together. Faithful friends step in when our faith is weak and intercede on our behalf. They are a calm and hope when we are an emotional wreck. They speak Truth into our lives and bring us clarity when we’re overwhelmed and confused.
We are not meant to walk this life alone. This is the gift of friendship we share with our spouses as we are no longer two individuals but joined together as one. It can be the gift of friendship shared between parents and children in different seasons. It is the gift of friendship we share with other believers. You are not somehow more successful in this life because you choose to act solo or strive to do everything on your own. In God’s standards you are foolish and leave yourself wide open for the enemy to knock you down flat.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Jesus calls Himself a friend to sinners and calls us friends as we follow Him. He promises to be with us always, to walk with us and make our burdens light in this life as we yoke up with Him. This is a promise of God across all the ages-for all His children who love Him.
Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you..
Blessed are those who have friends who will carry them when they are weak. Blessed are those who see the gift in this kind of friendship both in Believers and in Jesus Himself. Two are better than one.
3. Storm the Gates of Heaven
This man’s friends went to extreme lengths to get him in front of Jesus. They carried him on a mat, they pushed past crowds to get near the house, they climbed up the house and even lifted him up to the top, dug through the thatch roof and then found a way to lower him down safely. That is a lot of effort involved. This is an example of storming the gates of Heaven!
Matthew 9:2 And they brought to Him a paralyzed man lying on a stretcher. And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man who was paralyzed, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Notice who Jesus responded to-it was the faith of this man’s friends that moved Jesus.
The lengths they went to, the storming of the gates of Heaven that delighted Him and filled Him with compassion for this man. Many times it’s the prayers and acts of the righteous, faithful friend who will move God on someone else’s behalf.
Maybe you have been the beneficiary of someone storming the gates of Heaven for you at one point. Someone who didn’t give up on you, who didn’t cast you aside when you backslid or wandered or allowed yourself to be filled with doubt, worry, fear. Rather, someone who reminded you just how big our God is and who you are as His child. Someone who took you by the hand and said something like “the path is this way, you are made for more than this; He is ever faithful-believe even now, look for the Light that is still shining in the darkness.”
God hears and responds to the righteous who believe in His promises, who believe in the Son of God and who stand firm in their faith. He hears and is attentive to their prayers. Let us be these people-who believe and storm the gates of Heaven. Let us praise God for those who have done this for us in our time of need! This is why we need one another. We are not meant to be alone. We are part of the Body of Christ, grafted together because that is where our strength is-in the fellowship of the saints calling on the power of God to move as He wills.
1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Let us not gloss over what Jesus said to the man as He responded to the faith of his friends. Was it you are healed and can walk? No- it was something so much greater! The first thing he said to the man-was “Son your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus brought eternal healing first-because the physical is only temporary, but He spoke to this man’s spirit for eternity-you are healed, forgiven, cleansed from your sin. We have to assume this man believed also and was receptive to what Jesus was offering or He wouldn’t have said that to him, but it was the great acts of faith by his friends, that positioned him to be in front of Jesus. And Jesus also healed the man’s paralysis so he could walk again! Spiritual, emotional and physical healing! Jesus heals the whole of a person-not just one part. Salvation-the Greek word is “sozo” and it means wholeness.
Philippians 1: 18-19 Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
Conclusion: It is because of the faith and intercession of his friends the paralyzed man was healed. Let us nurture friendships like this and cherish the gift they are. Let us listen as they speak in love to us knowing it is the very voice of God speaking through them as His vessel. Let us in turn storm the gates of Heaven for others in their time of need. Jesus is our Power activated by our faith in Him. Let us rejoice in the power of faith-filled friends who stand in the gap in our time of need!
Let’s pray: Thank You Lord for Your Word that teaches us Your ways, that teach us how we are to love others, how we are to lay our lives down for the good of one another, how we are to rally and carry one another, and storm the gates of heaven on their behalf. Thank You for the greatest example of friendship in Your Son Jesus. Help us to follow Him and let Your Spirit flow through us to love one another. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.