Progress on Purpose: The Support of Friends

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 covered a great deal about friends in this series so far. This morning we will look at several passages that drive home the importance of connecting to friends who believe what we believe. 

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

1.  We all need encouragement from time to time.  

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

There will be times when you don’t “feel” like doing what you have to do, or pressing through more opposition, or getting up again after you have fallen so many times. There will be times when you just don’t “feel” like yourself.  We all get tired, frustrated, and even disillusioned from time to time. This is why we need friends around us who are people of faith.  We need people in our circle/tribe who will build us up when we are down.  These are people who encourage us to keep going, especially when we feel like quitting.  We need friends like this!

2.  We need friends who know what to say and how to say it.

(Ephesians 4:29)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Paul teaches us that we can have people in our lives who speak words that edify.  The word edify means to improve, enhance, and enlighten.  These are people who always know what to say and how to say it.  Their words are seasoned with God’s grace.  Their words literally MINISTER grace to us.  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit is leading them to speak.  It’s their voice, but it’s God’s grace.  They are providing the mouth, but the Holy Spirit is providing the words.  You need people like this in your life.  They become a conduit through which God ministers to you.

3.  Sometimes you just need friends who will be there WITH you.

I love it when God sends a friend who has the right words to say when I need to hear them.  But there are times when you don’t need words; you just need the presence of your friends.  You just need someone to be there for you, so you don’t go through what you are going through alone.

What happened to Job was terrible.  Now, you can say whatever you want about his friends, but when the chips were down, and he needed someone to just BE THERE for him, they showed up. 

(Job 2:11-13)

11 Job’s three friends heard about all the bad things that happened to him, so Eliphaz came from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah. They met together and went to comfort Job and show him their sympathy. 

12 But his friends didn’t even recognize him when they first saw him in the distance! They began to cry loudly. They tore their clothes and threw dirt in the air over their heads to show how sad they were. 

13 Then they sat on the ground with Job for seven days and seven nights. They didn’t say a word, because they saw he was in so much pain.

Paul said it this way, “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15).  

If you live long enough, you will experience things that literally take your breath away. You won’t feel like doing anything.  But this is when the presence of your friends is so important.  They may not need to say anything.  Just being there speaks volumes.  We all need friends like this.

4.  We all need friends we can confide in.

It’s bad when you are going through something in your heart, and you don’t have anyone to talk to about it.  I have there.  Not having anyone to share it with makes a bad situation worse.

Let’s look at something Jesus said.

(John 15:15)

I no longer call you servants, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. But now I call you friends, because I have told you everything that my Father told me.

Jesus was saying that there came the point where He was at peace about sharing with the disciples the things the Father was sharing with Him.  Prior to this, Jesus had to carry around the things of God in His heart, with no one to talk to about it.  But once He felt like the disciples were not just his disciples, but His friends, He was able to open His heart to them.  By opening His heart, He was saying, “Hey team, you guys are no longer my servants.  You are my friends.  You are friends I can share anything with.  I am able to share with you what the Father is sharing with me.”  

We all need friends like this.  I know it’s not easy to trust someone on this level, and very few people qualify.  But when you have someone (or a small group) like this in your life, it helps you tremendously.  Remember, you are on a long journey to becoming the man/woman God called you to be.  This journey will be fraught with ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures.  There will be times when you hear God’s voice clearly.  There will be others when you are struggling to discover what God is doing.  In either case, it great when you have someone to talk to about it.  Jesus teaches us that these deep conversations, conversations about God and what He is saying, should be reserved for true friends, faith-filled friends who can handle it.

That’s enough for today.

Declaration of Faith:

Father, I thank You for imparting Your wisdom to me.  I have friends because I show myself friendly.  I then discern which friends to put into what categories.  I have some friends that are in my inner circle.  They are there for me when I need an encouraging word, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.  This is a small circle of friends I can share my heart with.  I share with them what You share with me.  As a result, we are better together.  We build each other up and never tear each other down.  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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