Progress on Purpose: You Need Friends Like This!

by Rick

Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.”  I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!”  But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress.  With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss  “Leveling Up” in five areas: 

1.  Spiritually

2.  Financially

3.  Physically 

4.  Internally

5.  Externally

In the last area, I am addressing leveling up your external relationships.  I will cover the following topics in this section:

1.  The three people you need in your life (the roles you need filled)

2.  Discerning when to let people go

3.  The importance of choosing the right friends

4.  Surrounding yourself with people of like-precious-faith 

Setting the stage:

We have been looking at the importance of surrounding ourselves with friends who have like precious faith. Today we will see a great example of this in Luke 5.  Let’s get into it.

(Luke 5:17-26 TPT)

17 One day, many Jewish religious leaders known as Pharisees, along with many religious scholars, came from every village in Galilee, throughout Judea, and even from Jerusalem to hear Jesus teach. And the power of the Lord God surged through him to instantly heal the sick.

18 Some men came to Jesus, carrying a paraplegic man on a stretcher. They attempted to bring him in past the crowd to set him down in front of Jesus. 

19 But because there were so many people crowding the door, they had no way to bring him inside. So they crawled onto the roof, dug their way through the roof tiles, and lowered the man, stretcher and all, into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20 Seeing the demonstration of their faith, Jesus said to the paraplegic man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven!”

21 The Jewish religious leaders and the religious scholars whispered objections among themselves. “Who does this man think he is to speak such blasphemy? Only God can forgive sins! Does he think he is God?”

22–23 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Why do you argue in your hearts over what I do and think that it is blasphemy for me to say his sins are forgiven? Let me ask you, which is easier to prove: when I say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or when I say, ‘Stand up, carry your stretcher, and walk’?”  Jesus turned to the paraplegic man and said, 

24 “To prove to you all that I, the Son of Man, have the lawful authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you now, stand up! Carry your stretcher and go on home, for you are healed.”

25 In an instant, the man rose right before their eyes. He stood, picked up his stretcher, and went home, giving God the glory with every step he took.

26 The people were seized with astonishment and dumbfounded over what they had just witnessed. And they all praised God, remarking over and over, “Incredible! What an unbelievable miracle we’ve seen today!”

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things.

1.  You need people in your camp (or your tribe) who can believe God with you when the pressure is on.  

— Yesterday, I made the point that your circle needs to be small when the pressure is on.  We saw how Jesus stopped the crowd from going to Jairus’ house when the situation got so bad (the girl died) that Jesus did not want any distractions around. Jesus even left 75% of his disciples behind. The point is that when you need a breakthrough, you don’t need a bunch of people in your camp, but you don’t want to be alone either.  You need friends who will believe God with you. 

— The man in our text today had paraplegia.  In the natural, there was nothing doctors could do.  But he heard about a miracle worker.  His name was Jesus.  He believed in his heart that if he could get to Jesus, he could be healed.  The problem is that since he was a paraplegic, he could not get to Jesus on his own.  So what did he do?  He relied on his friends!  He had a circle of friends who were willing to do what he could not do.  These are the type of friends you need.

— You need friends, like the friends in the text, who refuse to take “NO” for an answer.  These friends pressed through with the paraplegic man.  Pause for a moment.  Would your friends press through with you?  Do you have friends you would endure WITH YOU if you were in a situation where you could not do certain things on your own?  Do you have friends who will sacrifice for you?  If you can’t think of a few names off the top of your head, it’s time to LEVEL UP your relationships!

2.  You need friends who will not stop at the first sign of opposition.

The text says (Luke 5):

19 But because there were so many people crowding the door, they had no way to bring him inside. So they crawled onto the roof, dug their way through the roof tiles, and lowered the man, stretcher and all, into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20 Seeing the demonstration of their faith, Jesus said to the paraplegic man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven!”

— The life of faith is not always going to be easy.  There will be times when you face obstacles after obstacles before you get your breakthrough.  The truth is that many people “try” faith, and they quit before their breakthrough came.  As a result, they say things like, “Well, I tried faith, and faith did not work.”  Whenever I hear that I respond, “No, faith always works.  If God said it, He will never turn His back on His word.  The truth is, faith tried you, and you did not work!  You gave up too soon.”  

— What do you think would have happened if the man’s friends had said, “Hey buddy, sorry.  There are too many people crowding the door.  Maybe we can try another day.  Let’s just go home.”  The answer is, nothing would have happened.  They would have gone home without their breakthrough, and they may have never seen Jesus again.  Unfortunately, this is how it is with many people who call themselves believers.  To be a true believer, it means you are going to believe God through ups and downs, through good and bad, through opposition and pain.  God never promised you an easy life.  He just promised to be with you every step of the way, He gave you the grace you need to endure, and He gave you the faith you need to tap into your breakthrough.  But none of this matters if you are quick to give up.

— Not only does God require grit, determination, resilience, and perseverance from you, but when you surround yourself with people of like minds, you can be there for one another through thick and thin!

— There will always be things that get in the way of your breakthrough.  The question is, will you accept those things as your final answer.  If your heart is open to take “NO” for an answer, then rest assured that “NO” will be your answer.

— You need friends who will push you past the NO, even when you feel like accepting it.

3.  Your faith must be visible.  

Faith is an action word.  Faith is something you say, something you do, or a seed (financial decision) you sow, based on what you are believing God for.  To truly live by faith, what you are believing on the inside must manifest itself on the outside for all the world to see.

Let’s go back to our text.

(Luke 5):

19 But because there were so many people crowding the door, they had no way to bring him inside. So they crawled onto the roof, dug their way through the roof tiles, and lowered the man, stretcher and all, into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20 Seeing the demonstration of their faith, Jesus said to the paraplegic man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven!”

— Verse 20 tells us that Jesus saw the demonstration of their faith.  I will key in on the words “demonstration” and “their”.  This group of men demonstrated their faith.  It was faith on display.  And notice that the faith was not just in the heart of the paraplegic man. It was in the hearts of them all. Jesus saw “their” faith!  These are the type of friends you need.  Friends who will be in the fight WITH YOU!

— We live in a society of skeptics.  Many people in this world think our faith is nothing more than the mystical optimism of modern-day people, who are holding on to ancient stories.  Why?  Because many believers are afraid to put their faith on display.  They hide their faith under the guise of it being “personal”.  Your faith should be personal, but it should also be visible!  Further, people should be able to see FAITH in your life and in the life of your circle/tribe.  It should be obvious to be people that you are part of a group of believers who people in Jesus to the point where you will not be swayed when one of you faces a bad situation.  Bad things happen to good people, and if it happens to one of you, everyone will know that you guys (or gals) will support one another through it!  

That’s enough for today.

Declaration of Faith:

Father, this is a year for me to LEVEL UP!  This year I am determined to walk in Your best for this season of my life.  To do so I know I need to surround myself with people of like precious faith.  I declare that I do.  Together we can and will accomplish much more than we ever could apart.  One can chase 1,000, but two can put 10,000 to flight!  I walk by faith, and I am not alone.  I set my faith in agreement with my friends, and they do the same with me.  Collectively, our faith is on display for all the world to see.  We are not ashamed of Jesus or His Gospel.  We boldly declare, JESUS IS LORD!  And, as Jesus is, so are we, in this world!  I LEVEL UP my relationships in 2021!  GREATER IS COMING FOR ME!  I declare this by faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and prosper!

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