FRIENDSHIPS{0}

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

The Bible is very clear about being a friend and having friends. Jesus called many people, Friend! Exodus 33:11 says that Jesus talked to Moses face to face as a man talks to his friend. Have you ever had someone talk to you and never look at you? You always wonder what they are trying to hide or what they are thinking that would keep them from looking you in the face. One thing a true friend will do is look you in the face when they talk to you.

Judges 14:20 says that Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had USED as a friend. Sometimes we may think we have a friend and find out later they only used us as a friend. Many people are selfish and only do loving things so they can reap the benefits. True, we all hope the benefits will come back to us, but that cannot be our motivation for loving friendships.

Job said, “To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend.” You expect a friend to pity you in hard times, but Job’s friends were trying to figure out what he had done wrong. We’ve all had friends like that. Job said his friends were digging a pit for him. In another place it talks about when things got really bad and there was no food, friends were eating one another (Jer.19:19). David said, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” (Ps. 41:9) Sometimes, those we have chosen to befriend, have turned on us and done us harm. Because of this, many have backed off from being a friend or having friends. They do not want to get hurt. What a loss of life to live without friends! You will be hurt by some of your friends from time to time, but we are taught to forgive and not to let their actions determine our actions. We are to keep on reaching out to others in friendship and when we do find that friend that sticketh closer than a brother, we are rich. We should never make our friends our god! Friends are to enjoy, not to worship.

Jesus saw mankind as His friend. People did not understand Jesus being a friends to everyone. “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” (Matt.11:19) While we are not supposed to run with the world, when we rub shoulders, we should respond like friends! How else will they see our love for their lives? Jesus called the man without a wedding garment, “Friend”. Jesus said to the man who was upset about receiving one penny for a whole days work, while the man who worked only one hour received the same,  Friend”! Jesus also called Judus, “Friend”, when he betrayed Him in the garden. If we want friends, we must be friends”. The Bible says, in Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” I have been blessed with some wonderful friends since I started walking with the Lord. I love and treasure everyone of them.

In the middle 70’s the Lord brought Shirley Dodson and her family into our lives. Little did we know at that time what our friendship other would mean to us.

I started a Bible class in my living room and Shirley was the first to attend. We came together out of a love to know, to understand and to live the Word of God. We spent hours digging into the Word. Shirley’s youngest daughter was four years old and would go to sleep on the couch while we studied. We became visitation partners and we took all the assignments for helping the poor and needy that came through the office of the church. We watched the Lord work in mighty ways. Our friendship was like the verse,

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

We both knew that when we asked each other for advise, we would never avoid telling the truth to one another, no matter how hard it was to receive it. We were committed to encouraging one another to walk a spiritually straight line. We had one cause and that was to please the Lord. We both reached out to others and it seemed we both always had someone living at our houses until they could take care of themselves. We had a David and Jonathan relationship. But what made it even better was that our husbands were like brothers. Our children were different ages and did not run together but our children loved them and their children loved our children.

Before long the Lord moved Jerry and I away and Bill and Shirley moved to Missouri. For awhile it was like this verse that says,

Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness. Ps 88:18

Sometimes our relationships change. The Lord removes them for one reason or another. There was a couple of years that it seemed we didn’t have room for each other. Then, all of a sudden, God brought us back to where we had been and it was wonderful to get back to enjoying fellowship together.

Shirley had always let me do the teaching when we were together but she had much to share and needed to do her own teaching. God divided us so we could both share what He was teaching us. Shirley was smart!!! She was a walking dictionary. She had the answer for every question. You didn’t want to play scrabble with her. She would always win!

Shirley had been fighting an illness for about a year. She was up and going, but things were not right. The second week in December she was admitted to the hospital in a weak condition. They helped her some and sent her home. About two weeks ago they had to return her to the hospital. I learned of her sickness and she and I talked on the phone for about an hour on Wednesday night. We told each other how much we loved the other and rejoiced in the friendship the Lord had given us. She thought she was going to recover. The next morning she went home to be with the Lord.

She beat me! She got ahead of me and now she knows all about heaven. Her funeral was such a tribute to a godly, virtuous woman. Her pastor loved her. Her church staff loved her. The people of the church loved her. Her two daughters loved her and emulated her life. Her husband loved her and was so peaceful and content in her love. Her family members had such sweet things to say about her life. Those who lived around her life were blessed. They were influenced for good by her presence.

Shirley wasn’t an outstanding beauty. Shirley didn’t stand out in a crowd. I am sure that many people did not realize her importance until she was gone, because she never made a big deal out of anything she did. But she made a big difference!!! She lived what she learned and what she believed and it worked!

My sweet friend is gone, but what about tomorrow? Will I be the friend to others that she was to me? Will I risk friendship with others so I  can serve their lives? We must show ourselves friendly if we are to have friends, and there are friends that stick closer than a brother. The one friendship that we should be concerned about is our friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says,

…whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4

If we make the Lord our closest friend, then we can be the kind of friend that makes a difference in other people’s lives. We should be like Abraham was to the Lord.

And the scripture was fulfill
ed which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. James 2:23

Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? 2 Chron 20:7

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend Isa 41:8

Abraham’s friendship was a forever friendship and ours should be also. Have you told your friends that you love them and are thankful for them lately? You should. You will not always have them! Be a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Everybody needs one!

To all my friends, thank you for every loving action you give!!!