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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Friends relaxing at Raystown Lake
Two friends enjoying a quiet morning on Raystown Lake

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"The Blessing Of Friendship"

"Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven'" (Luke 5:18-20).

Bear hug between two friendsToday we would like to consider the theme of friendship. We both continue to make friends and some will become lasting friends, added to our collection. Others have been friends for a long time, the longest being Dave Simpson, Stephen's neighbor from first grade, whom he has stayed close to for over 50 years now.

The brief account recorded in our daily Scripture reading is such a vivid description of caring friends; the kind of friends we would like and indeed we do have.  It's also a colorful depiction of the kind of friend we want to be!

1) They had a friend with a need – These men were determined to do something about it. He was a paralytic and, although the degree of his paralysis is not specified, he was immobile so he had to be carried from place to place.  Will you consider today your friends that may be in need of some type. How can you help them?

2) They had a goal - They wanted to get their friend to Jesus.  Word was spreading concerning Jesus' ability to heal the sick.  These men had a goal to get their friend to Jesus where they believed he would receive healing. That should be our goal as well, to get people to Jesus.

3) They had obstacles – The healing service was likely in the daytime since they didn't travel in vehicles and nighttime would be very difficult,  They likely sacrificed some pay for taking off time from their day job.  They met up with a big crowd and a house with limited access. In one way or another it seems there are always obstacles of some sort. Genuine, lasting friendships are characterized by overcoming obstacles, one by one.

Jesus with the paralytic man being lowered through roof4) They had innovative determination – In spite of the obstacles they made a way. I can just see these daring fellows (Mark's account specifies there were four, each presumably holding a corner of the mat). Surely they were throwing out wild ideas as to how they could get their friend through the mass so that he could be within the touch of the Master's hand. Perhaps one threw out the idea just for a joke, "Let's just cut a hole through the roof!"  Of course we don't know the circumstance but we do know that's just what they did. They lowered their friend down in the middle of the crowd right smack in front of Jesus. I wonder what the other people thought who had arrived earlier.  Did they feel like we do when a person crowds in front of us in a grocery line!

5) They had faith - But onto a more important and essential detail here: "When Jesus saw their faith."  Note the plural pronoun, "their faith".  These men had faith that their friend would receive help from Jesus and he did!  We are so thankful for friends who have instructed and encouraged us in our journey of faith.

6) They had a caring Savior - A wonderful verse states, "Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). What a powerful assurance that we always have a caring Savior in Jesus!

We hope you have lots of friends like these.  We are sure thankful for each of our friends. There are times when we simply do not have enough faith that God will intervene in a matter.  We are so grateful that we can enlist others to pray for us when we're in the midst of the "blues" of a difficult circumstance.  Their faith is a source of encouragement to us and it strengthens us when we are weak, whether emotionally, physically or spiritually or sometimes all of the above!

In the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" I'm always touched at the end when George Bailey receives the note from Clarence reminding him, "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."  That's so true. What a blessing to have friends!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful that Jesus is the High Priest who hears our prayers, knows of our troubles and intercedes on our behalf.  But there are times when we are in need of the compassion of a caring friend; one who will pray, listen, lend support, and interject thoughts or experiences that help us to bear our troublesome burdens.  They do not sit in judgment, but instead they respond to our need, whether it's emotional, spiritual or physical.  Thank you for caring friends who bear with us, lift us up out of despair, and help us discover solutions that we, by ourselves, cannot find.  Help me to be that kind of friend, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Personal note: As our internet ministry has grown through the years the majority of our readers of this encouragement series is not personally known to us. Most have signed up on the web page or perhaps after a forwarded message they received.  Others know about us due to our 1 minute weekly radio broadcast or after reading about our web ministry in a news article.  However there are so many of you that we have personally met and know. You are part of churches we served, business associates, relatives, chaplaincy contacts, fellow pastors and missionaries.  You're all our friends and we thank you for being that.  It's amazing how many people you meet through life's journey and each one has something to offer.  If you think about it it's the same for you!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Old Friends"  Video  Bill Gaither and his many friends (more than a few who are now with the Lord!)

"The Cares Chorus"  Video  Kelly Willard  A great song reminding us of God's care for us.

"I Must Tell Jesus"  Video  Candi Staton  This song always blesses me and I suppose I recalled the line, "He is a kind, compassionate Friend."

"Friends"  Video  Michael W. Smith  
Each church we served had this song sung during our farewell (in 1993 when we moved on from northern PA and again in 2001 when we left New England to move to Lancaster County). Thankfully we have many friends from each of these churches to this day and have collected many more along the way!

"Old Friends"  Video  
Growing up in the sixties in the Kansas City area, I enjoyed listening to Roger Miller songs along with my dad when we were in his work truck. He had a 65 Blue Chevy truck with "E.C. Weber and Sons" on each side even though my two older brothers had left home by then and I wasn't old enough to drive! This is not a spiritual song but has an interesting sentiment. I can still recall the old men sitting out on the benches visiting with one another in front of city hall in Belton Missouri, the little town I grew up in.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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