Sunday Sermon: ‘Friends Day 2009′

Two friends were out hiking when suddenly one stopped and yelled, ‘Bear!’ As he looked around at his friend, he saw him opening up his backpack and pulling out his tennis shoes. “What are you doing?” the man asked. “Don’t you know that you can’t outrun a bear?” “I don’t have to outrun the bear”, the friend replied. “All I have to do is outrun you!”

Today is Friends Day at Twin Oaks and I’m not for sure that story was the best description of what a friend should be or how they should act. A teacher instructed her class one day to write out what they thought a friend should be. One little boy wrote, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you, but likes you just the same.”

One of the most amazing facts about God is that He desires our friendship. The Bible says that the Lord spoke to Moses “face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend.” Several times in scripture Abraham is called the ‘Friend of God.’ On one occasion Jesus said to His disciples, “I call you friends.” Though God is infinitely superior to us, He desires for our relationship with Him to be as friends.

Turn with me to the book of Ecclesiastes and lets see what wise Solomon said about the importance of friendships.

Ecclesiastes 4
9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I. Friendships Are Important For Working

9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

We all get tired from time to time and whenever we do, often start thinking, “What’s the use of pushing myself? No one else cares. Why should I? Maybe I should just slack off and take it easy.” That’s just a part of human nature. The New Living Translation says - “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Two people working together can get more done than two people working separately.

That’s true in the home. When God first created man, God said -

Genesis 2
18 …It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him
an help meet for him.

I’ve often asked couples doing their premarital counseling, “Did God suddenly realize after He had made man that man would need a companion?” Of course not. The need for companionship was a part of God’s creative plan from the very beginning. It is because of this God-given need that Scripture says  -

24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

God’s goal for marriage is for the two to work together as one. I’ve shared many times with you that for Tammy and myself, our relationship with each other as a couple grew much stronger when our individual relationships with the Lord grew stronger. The book of Amos says - Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Jesus said – “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Mt 12:25 NLTGod’s will for a husband and wife is that the two of them work together for the common good of their family.

That’s true also for the parent and child relationship. Jesus tells us that “Satan is a thief who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy.” There is nothing that he wants more than to destroy your home and family. Therefore, parents should go the extra-mile to make sure that they and their children are on the same team. I have always made it my goal to be a part of my children’s life and to include them in my life (especially my walk with God). Solomon says that a  “threefold cord is not quickly broken” and I can’t think of anyplace where that threefold cord is needed than in the parent / child relationship. Joshua of the Old Testament declared - As for me and my house, WE will serve the Lord.” It was a team effort!

I spoke a lot on this last Wednesday night. Many of you were not here and so I want us to look briefly again at a passage in the book of Deuteronomy. It’s Deuteronomy 6

Deut 6:6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

The part of that passage that has always stood out the most to me is when Moses said, “thou shalt talk of them”, that is the Lord’s commands. You shall discuss them as a family. Children need more than to just be told what to do. They need for mom and dad to explain to them the reasoning behind it. God doesn’t give commands just for the sake of giving commands. They have purpose and the family that learns to live by God’s commands will be like a tree planted by the rivers of living water. I have been very blessed in my life in that I can talk with my wife about spiritual things. In almost every conversation mom and I have together, we talk out God’s Word. And one of my greatest joys is to talk with my two daughters about the things of God.

Solomon said - “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” That’s true in marriage and in the parent / child relationship and in the church. When Jesus sent His disciples out to minister, He sent them in pairs. In the book of Acts we find Peter and John working together. Later we find Paul teaming up with men like Barnabas, Silas and young Timothy. Sometimes I hear people say, “It doesn’t matter whether or not I attend church. It doesn’t matter whether or not I get involved.” I have to respectfully disagree with you. Consider what the book of Hebrews says -

Hebrews 10
24  And let us consider one another to provoke
(stimulate) unto love and to good works:
25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting
(encouraging) one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

God’s will for your life begins with you having a relationship with Him through salvation. But it doesn’t end there. God’s will for your life is also that you have a relationship with fellow believers and be a part of a local church where you can grow together, share together, minister together and encourage one another.

II. Friendships Are Important For Walking

The Christian life is often described in the Bible as ‘walking’. Walking refers to: daily, continuous, ongoing journey that we take one step at a time. I am so thankful that at this point in my Christian life, I am walking with many of you. You are my friends, you are my companions. We have fellowship which means we have a ‘partnership’. We are partners together in the ministry. Paul often referred to others as ‘fellow- laborers’.

While walking, we can sometimes stumble.

9  Two are better than one …
10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:
(Companion) 
but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

A great benefit of being an active member in a good local church is the spiritual support you can receive when you are struggling. Heb. 3:13 (NIV) “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”Sin is very deceptive. We can be led away from truth and not even realize it. Sin is daily. It’s an ongoing battle that we fight daily. Sin is deadening. Scripture speaks of those who are “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”.  That means to become: stubborn, cold, calloused.

One of the primary reasons for the church is for mutual support and accountability. We need support. And we accountability.

Pr 27:17   Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Pr 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

2 Sam 12:7 Nathan confronting his friend David – “Thou art the man”

Galatians 6:1  ”Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Not associating yourself with a church is a dangerous thing. In today’s culture many do not want to be accountable. We like our independence and freedom. I know that many of you are familiar with John Piper and enjoy his teaching. The other day I came across a message he preached (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/MediaPlayer/4223/Video/) about the importance of becoming a part of a local church, and especially a small group like Sunday School. He listed several reasons, but I will mention just four:

1.  ”The tendency towards passivity is a part of our human weakness”

2. “Therefore, there is a tendency to avoid personal application”

3. “Missing accountability for follow-through”

4. ”Lack of prayer support”

III. Friendships Are Important For Warmth

11  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

The warmth Solomon is referring to here is a physical warmth that two travelers might experience on a cold night as they help each other to stay warm through the giving off of their natural body heat. There’s a natural body heat and there is also a supernatural body heat that comes from Christian fellowship. A big part of the reason Christ established the church is so that believers could help keep each other warm spiritually.

One day a pastor stopped by a man’s house to pay a visit. The man was a member of the pastor’s church, but the man hadn’t been there for a long time. As they sat in front of the fireplace and talked about various things, the pastor leaned over and took the poker and pulled a red-hot glowing ember our from the fire and on to the front of the hearth. Without saying a word, he just stared at it and so did the man. Right before their eyes, the glowing ember began to quickly change. It soon lost its red color and began to turn black as it began to cool off. Then, just before it was too late, the pastor pushed the ember back into the fire and quickly it regained it’s red color. Softly the man said to the pastor, “I’ll be there Sunday.”

IV. Friendships Are Important For Withstanding

12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The greatest example of this found in the Bible is the description of the friendship between David and Jonathan.

1 Samuel 23
14  And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
15  And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.
16  And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
17  And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
18  And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Again to quote John Piper from that same message – “How many blessings we forfeit by not being surrounded by … brothers and sisters laying hold on God with us for the things we so badly need.”He also said about those who to experience God by themselves – “…you are cutting in half the Christian life and the blessings …”

V. I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God

We need friendships and companionship in the home, in the church and in life. Solomon teaches us the benefit of having good friends and he also says - “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.What does that mean? The best friendships here on earth are those that are built around God. The choir sang -

I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
The Family of God

To be a part of the family of God -

1. You have experience the new birth

John 3
3  Jesus – Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

God told Adam and Eve –  “The day you sin you will die”. That meant a physical as well as a spiritual death or break in their relationship with God. In order for that relationship to be restored, you and I have to experience a new birth. We have to be born again by the Spirit of God. For that to happen, you must

a. Realize and admit that you are a sinner

b. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins

c. Come to Jesus in repentance and faith

d. Ask for forgiveness and confess Him as the Lord and Master of your life

e. Be born again by His Spirit and thus made a child of God

2. God has become your Father and Christ your elder brother

The old song says - “Joint heirs with Jesus”. Salvation puts us in a relationship with God as our Father and Jesus as our elder Brother. That is true today and forever more. In this relationship, you can pray directly to God and know Him in a real and personal way.

3. Every other born-again believer has become your brother and sister for all eternity

Again, to refer to the song, it says - “Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod”. As WE travel this sod…  We are in this together. We are companions in this journey here on earth and forever more.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Study outline

Ecclesiastes 4
9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I. Friendships Are Important For Working

9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

A. Two can help share the load

B. Two can encourage each other on

C. We all get tired from time to time and sometimes start thinking -

  • “What’s the use of pushing myself?”
  • “No one else cares.”
  • “I should just slack off and take it easy.”

D. NLT – “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”

1. That’s true in the Home

Genesis 2
18 …It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

a. God’s goal for marriage is that the two work together as one

b. For Tammy and myself -

1. Our relationship as husband and wife grew stronger

2. When each of our relationships with God grew stronger

Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

Jesus said – “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Mt 12:25 NLT)

c. God’s will for a husband and wife is that the two of them work together for the common good of their family

12  … and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

2. That’s also true for parents and their children

a. Jesus said, “Satan is a thief who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy.”

b. Nothing he wants to destroy more than he wants to destroy your home and family

c. Parents should go the extra-mile to make sure that they and their children are on the same team

d. I have always made it my goal

i. To be a part of my children’s life

ii. To include them in my life (especially my walk with God)

Ecc 4:12 …a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Joshua – As for me and my house, WE will serve the Lord.”

Deut 6:6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

3. That’s true in the church

a. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs

b. Peter and John worked a lot together

c. Paul and Barnabas / Paul and Silas / Paul and Timothy

d. Sometimes people say -

i. It doesn’t matter whether or not if I attend church. It doesn’t matter whether or not I get involved.

ii. I disagree

Hebrews 10
24  And let us consider one another to provoke
(stimulate) unto love and to good works:
25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting
(encouraging) one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

e. God’s will for your life:

#1  That you have a relationship with Him through salvation

#2  That you have a relationship with fellow believers (the church)

Where you can grow together

Where you can share together

Where you can minister together

Where you can be encouraged and help encourage others

II. Friendships Are Important For Walking

A. The Christian life is often described in the Bible as ‘walking’

1.  Walking: daily, continuous, ongoing journey that we take one step at a time

2.  I am so thankful that at this point in my Christian life, I am walking with many of you

3.  You are my friends, you are my companions

4.  We have fellowship which means ‘partnership’

a. We are partners together in the ministry

b. Paul often referred to others as ‘fellow- laborers’

B. While walking, we can sometimes stumble

9  Two are better than one …
10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:
(Companion) 
but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

1. A great benefit of being an active member in a good local church is the spiritual support you can receive when you are struggling

Heb. 3:13 (NIV) “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”

a. Sin is very deceptive (We can be led away from truth and not even realize it)

b. Sin is daily (It’s an ongoing battle)

c. Sin is deadening

i. “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”

ii.  That means to become: stubborn, cold, calloused

2. One of the primary reasons for the church – mutual support and accountability

a. We need mutual support

b. We need mutual accountability

Pr 27:17   Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Pr 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

2 Sam 12:7  Nathan confronting his friend David – “Thou art the man”

Galatians 6:1  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

i. No one wants to be corrected.

ii. “You’re not supposed to judge anyone.”

Matthew 7
3  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
5  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

3. Not associating yourself with a church is a dangerous thing

a. We all need accountability

b. Today’s culture – we don’t want to be accountable – extremely dangerous

c. John Piper – The importance of being involved with fellow believers on a deeper level (beyond just attending a worship service)
(http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/MediaPlayer/4223/Video/)

i.  “The tendency towards passivity is a part of our human weakness”

ii. “Therefore, there is a tendency to avoid personal application”

iii. “Missing accountability for follow-through”

iv.  “Lack of prayer support”

d. So – doing the solo-thing as a Christian is not a good thing.

III. Friendships Are Important For Warmth

11  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

A. Warmth

1. Physical warmth  (Two travelers on a cold night helping each other to stay warm – natural body heat)

2. “Body heat” – Warmth of Christian fellowship and encouragement

3. Living the Christian life can be hard and I personally need the warmth given off by the body of Christ

4. Illustration – Ember from a fireplace

B. Today is “Friend Day” and next week is “Homecoming Day” and in a matter of weeks we will be having a “Fall Revival- so I can’t think of a better time for us all to understand that God has made us with a need for each other and that we need to come together and care and work and minister reach out to others. Can you?

IV. Friendships Are Important For Withstanding

12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

A. Example – David and Jonathan

1 Samuel 23
14  And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
15  And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.
16  And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
17  And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
18  And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

B. Piper – “How many blessings we forfeit by not being surrounded by … brothers and sisters laying hold on God with us for the things we so badly need.”

C. Piper – If you are trying to experience God by yourself – “…you are cutting in half the Christian life and the blessings …”


V. I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God

A. What does Solomon mean when he says – “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”

1. Your life is woven in a relationship with fellow believers

2. And with God

I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
The Family of God

B. To be a part of the family of God -

1. You have experience the new birth

John 3
3  Jesus – Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

a. “The day you sin you will die” – Physical / Spiritual  (break in their relationship with God)

b. To know God – Spirit of God has to give to that person new life / born again / born from above / spiritual birth

i. Realize that you are a sinner

ii. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins

iii. Come to Jesus in repentance and faith

iv. Ask for forgiveness and confess Him as the Lord and Master of your life

c. Be born again by His Spirit and thus made a child of God

2. God has become your Father and Christ your elder brother “Joint heirs with Jesus”

a. You are in a relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ

b. Both now and forever more

c. You can pray directly to God as one of His very own children

3. Every other born-again believer has become your brother and sister for all eternity “Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod”

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