Pastor Star R. Scott

Friends Pt.2

  • Date: January 24, 2010
  • Teacher: Pastor Star R. Scott
  • From Friends

We're talking about one of the things that made Abraham the friend of God was that, first of all, Father spoke of him. He said, "One thing I'm assured of is that these things that I've put into your understanding, these things that I bring as revelation, as truth to you and put into your heart, I know that you're going to be faithful to teach them to your children and to your children's children." Do you want to be a friend of God? Set your heart, right now, on making this faith generational. Live for others more than yourself. We've got a whole planet today, wanting to go ahead and make sacrifices and do whatsoever is necessary to recycle and to save the whales and not have any holes in the ozone because they want to give their children a better world. How much are we doing to give our children the kingdom of God (amen?), to teach our children and our children's children?

We saw, as we read in Romans, that one of the things that caused him to be the father of faith and that caused him to be called the friend of God was that when the spirit of the Lord spoke to him and put His hand upon and was going to remove that which was the most valuable thing, the treasure of his life, that--as we read in this passage, in Genesis 22 and verse 3, it says, "And Abraham rose up early in the morning...". Do you want to be a friend of God? Be quick to obey Him. We mentioned that Jesus had spoken. He said, "I no longer call you servants but I call you friends, because a servant doesn't know what his master's going to do but the friend of God, the sons of God, are brought into that awareness of the very heart and the purpose of God." It's very important, if we're going to be called the friends of God, that we follow that admonition. Jesus said, "You're my friends if you do whatever I command you to do." Now listen, Abraham took it a little bit further in our understanding when he did it quickly, amen? Don't pray about what God's telling you to do.

Jesus has already put His finger on many of our lives through these last months. He said, "Here's what I expect of you: I expect you to take up this cross. I expect you to die to yourself, to your selfishness, to your self-indulgence, to your preoccupation with self. I want you to die to all of your demands to be recognized, to be loved the way you want to be loved. I demand of you to die to your ambition, to die to your own perceived talents and strengths. I command of you to take up a cross daily and to die to yourself and die to your self-pity and die to your pride. Come and follow Me. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for My way is easy and My burden is light." Do you want to be a friend? What have you done with what He's commanded you to do in these last weeks or months? Are you still considering it? Then you're not a friend and you're not a son because those who are friends of God and those who are sons of God are quick to do it. Jesus said, "I do always those things that (what?)...[please My Father]." Are we living to please Father or ourselves? Do you even hesitate a moment when your Father gives you a command? Have we taken the cross--let me ask you this: can God guide you with His eye? We all know what I'm talking about because our fathers have done it and we've done it (amen?) with our children. We all know that look, don't we? There's that look that Father gives us. Can He guide you with His eye? How pliable are we to the will of God? I want to tell you something: God's not going to shout at you. God's voice is not in the thunder. God will not be those parents that we see so often today, "No. No. No! I mean it! No! Don't make me tell you again, again, again, again!" I'm not implying that Father's not long-suffering and merciful. I'm talking about coming to maturity and being called sons of God, the friends of God. I'm talking about having a heart for our heavenly Father.

It's almost embarrassing--and I'm going to talk about natural friendship and how important they are in just a moment--but it's almost embarrassing when you see the servants of David and their willingness to put their lives in peril, who had that spirit that they could run through a troop and leap over a wall and to go into Jerusalem just at the whim of their master the king. He just said, "Oh, that I could have a drink from the waters of the well!" Those men saw that it got done. Our Father speaks and says, "Oh, how I would that you would come and fellowship with Me, that you would know Me, the fellowship of My sufferings, that you would know the power of My resurrection." "And they would not," the Scripture says. There are some of us here that are more readily available and act more promptly and with greater energy for the seen, for flesh and blood, for those who, in fact, may someday turn on and be the ones who kill you. He who's faithful, who will never leave you or forsake you--how quick are we to respond in that covenant relationship, that friendship? We call Him Lord and don't do the things that He's asked us to do.

Being called the friend of God--we read about Moses in Exodus 33, verse 11. It says, "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." We talked about what caused Moses to have that friendship, that when he had his own course set and he realized it had failed and he's out in the wilderness and he's under the chastisement of God, he's under the new training regimen of God--all of the glory was gone. All of the power was gone, in the natural. He had tried in his own strength. Oh, thank God that he chose to suffer with the people of God, but we find him now in a position of chastisement, a time when he could have been content out there. His life had been spared. He was living a life, now, of tranquility and peace. All of a sudden, the presence of God appears. He turns aside to see this thing and the voice comes out of the bush and says, "Take off your shoes. You're on holy ground!" He begins to wrestle with God, who's going to send him in to do that which he perceived was impossible because he was doing it in his own strength. What was it that gave him the right to be called the friend of God? Choices, daily choices to die to self, to stop arguing with God about the fact that, "I can't speak. I've tried it before, but in this one encounter who shall I say sent me?" "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 33:14). His life is transformed. He knew he was no longer going in his own strength, that he'd become an instrument in the hands of God. I don't want to belabor this point, but as he continued this relationship through obedience, even through the confusion that took place, Father had told him, "It's not going to happen instantaneously." Yet in our own strength we seem to think that when we show up in the will of God, everything's going to fall into place. But in fact it got worse. They had to begin to build bricks without straw. It began to be the people turning on Moses, even there in Egypt, saying, "Man, we had it better before you showed up. We thought God was going to deliver us!" Those people were convinced of one thing in the life of Moses: he was out there to destroy them. "You brought us out here to kill us." Those who you fellowship with, those who are being raised in your own home, many times they're going to begin to question you, "Is this the right way? Are you sure this is right? How come things aren't going right? How come we're always experiencing trouble? Why is there all of this adversity in our lives?" Are you going to be a friend of God to where you can know Him face to face and have those intimate relationships and hear that voice that says, "This is the way, walk in it"? Or are we going to, when adversity comes, slip back into the aspect of attending upon flesh? Friendships are a treasure; to trust in them more than in the presence of God is an abomination. Friends are a gift from God; to love the gift more than the giver is idolatry.

We're talking about the different friendships. We talk about what it takes to be a friend of God and that's to die to self. It's to have that ear that's quick and a heart that's quick to do the will of God, once we've heard. Now, the thing that I want to do this morning is begin to show how important good friends are to keep God in the proper place in our lives. Anybody, whether it's a wife or a child or a bosom buddy, that begins to demand of you more commitment and more attention and more love than is being given to your Father is the enemy of God. Hear me clearly, because this is the one great stumbling block and this is why God so often spoke to it in the Scriptures. Satan is not going to get you and me to go out and start drugs, most likely. Most of us won't fall into that--to get back into drugs or to become an alcoholic again or to begin to live lives of lasciviousness, but things that are apparently even scriptural responsibilities--"Those that do not provide for their families, for their houses, are worse than infidels..." Satan takes that, as an angel of light, and turns it. Now we begin to be worshippers and compulsive in providing for our family. We think that somehow they need to have Harvard educations and have flat screen TVs and drive the nicest cars and never experience any hardship or adversity, because, "I want my children to have it better than me. I'm supposed to be the provider. I'm supposed to love my wife as I love my self." All of those things are true, but they're all for the purpose of building a harmony and a strength that God might be all in all in our midst, that He might be glorified.

I want to talk about friendship a little bit and make sure that our friendships that we have are in order, scripturally. When I talk about friendship, don't just think about, you know, my girlfriend or my buddy. Outside of Jesus, your best friend should be your spouse, if you're married. The fact is, for most of us here, it's not that way, if you really want to be truthful. I'd like to say, to start with, that the majority of us in this room--well, that might be an overstatement. Too many of us in this room don't have the right relationship with our spouses, and because of that Satan's able to take advantage of us. One thing that's spoken of very clearly in the epistle of Peter, and he talks to us, on how important it is that we dwell together in unity and in proper relationship that our prayers be not hindered, amen? We're going into war, beloved and we have one weapon, that's prayer. It's the sword of the spirit. Take the sword of the spirit, praying; amen? How many of our prayers are ineffectual because we don't have the right relationship with our number one prayer partner, our friend?

Many of us have embraced friendship, and thank God for close friends and bosom buddies, but I want to tell you something. Those things are vital. They are treasures. They are gifts from God. Then Satan uses it to create clicks and has schism instead of unity, to where every member, every member, is to have the same care one for another, amen? Can I ask you a question: if Jesus is Lord, who picks your friends, you or Him? Somebody comes into your life that God wants you to befriend and they don't meet your demographics--the subtleties of this angel of light and to where we begin to live in this community with a death to self and not only a commission and an admonition, but believing God for it to become a compulsion that we would love everybody in this place (amen?) as we've been loved. Friendships that are based upon selfishness--what I get out of it, what I enjoy solely, what I enjoy, what gives me pleasure--is the wrong basis for friendships. It's not what God intends to manifest in our lives.

I want to talk tonight, if we can get there, about the wrong friends, the friends of the world, to be a friend of the world. You see, there are many of us right now--and do not think that this is just semantics. There are a lot of us that just throw this word around the way we do "love." "Oh, I love cookie dough ice cream!" I don't love it, I like it a lot but I don't love it. "Gotta have it," but I don't love it. I love God. I love my Father. I love the Lord Jesus. I love my wife. I love my children. To me, to call someone a "friend" is not a word that should just be tossed around. "I'd like you to meet my friend." I don't have a lot of friends. I have a lot of acquaintances and many of us call friends--and you say, "Well, okay I'll change the way I address these people." It's not just the way we address them, it's how we perceive them and what we've committed to them. I want to make a distinction and show us that many of us have been seduced and have truly become friends of the world, which makes us at enmity or in opposition to God, because, beloved, you cannot mix the holy and the profane. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. You will love one and hate the other, amen? Who are our friends and who should be our friends? What I want to address this morning is: do we have some "friends" that we might need to reevaluate and try to seek some other relationships?

With that in mind, we want to just talk a little bit about this communion and this community that we have with one another. Every one of us desires to be friends with God and yet needs friends to assist us in remaining, or in some way attaining, friendship with Father. We need each other, amen? You're not going to do it on your own. Most of us don't like to think that. Many of us seem to think that strength is being independent. I want to tell you something: it's not strength, it's pride. The Scripture makes it very clear that you are never stronger then when you're able to come to grips with your needs, the needs of assistants of the body of Christ to come and intertwine yourselves together, as Ephesians says, that the body might be fitly joined together, strengthened.

Who become our friends? I want to share some things with you that are biblical principles. Look at Proverbs 18 for just a moment, and this will speak toward the basic premise that I've been presenting here, that many of us, in fact, have too many friends. What do I mean by too many? Is ten too many? Is twenty too many? Is one hundred too many? No. Too many are when it begins to be outside the body of Christ, universal body, American body, Sterling, Calvary Temple. Where should we emphasize cohesiveness?

There are different types of relationships. Does anybody in here know a man named Tom Gue? I have not talked to Tom in probably six years. He came to School of the Prophets. He taught at School of the Prophets. In many of the times of great need in his life, he called us for counsel. There's no doubt in my mind that I could leave right here, go to the back, call Tom and say, "Tom, I have a need. I would like you to help me." There's no question in my mind that he would do whatever he could to help me, but, you see, I'm not with him every day. It's a friendship that's ongoing. It's a friendship that, if he was to walk in here today, it would pick right up where it left off, but we are not edifying one another on a daily basis. I don't spend my time and mental energy thinking about him and praying for him. I don't even pray for him. I would if the Lord brought it my remembrance, but I don't pray for him. He's involved in a community. He's overseeing a flock, right now, that requires all of his time and all of his energy and all of his attention, if it's going, if he's doing it properly. The point that I'm making is that Father and many of us see it as separation or isolation or whatever. The fact of the matter is, beloved, we can only relate to so many people and do it well. We can only have intimate relationships with very few people and an intimacy completely with only one person. I want to try to point out some of these things that can become distractions to us and some of us feeling almost an obligation to increase the size of our commitments when, in fact, our obligation is to be faithful to what Father's placed us in. I'm not talking about you can't relate, talk with, fellowship, share some things. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about seeing the need to sharpen one another's lives daily.

With that in mind, let's look at Proverbs 18. I think we can get on course here. The revised version of Proverbs 18:24 reads this way, you might look over there and check it out. "He that makes many friends does it to his own destruction, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." This understanding of "many friends"--the implication here, of course, is that we're talking about some of these that are not friends, in the truest sense, where there is an intimacy, where there is a commitment. Remember what the word "friend" means. Go ahead and get it in your notes. Some of the root words: philos, philea. We know the term phileo, a phileo love. We've shared it before, as we were talking in one of the panels. To be a friend is someone who, literally in the Scriptures, the word itself means "to be loved." A friend is an object of our love, something that is dear to us, and, thirdly, someone who we have committed to. There's very little known in our current society about commitment. Hence, over fifty percent divorce rate. Does that say something about our society? How many people are committed to their marriages? How many people are committed to the kingdom of God, to the building of the body of Christ? How many people, when things get tough, bail for their own well-being, are motivated by selfishness? How many people want the benefits of a relationship but none of the adversities that require endurance, as we talk about the necessity within the body of Christ, the need to love one another, to endure one another? There's a big difference between acquaintances--there's a big difference between spending time together and relating and having a commitment. You can have a relationship. You can have an affair. Relationships, involvement, are not commitments. The question that we need to ask ourselves this morning is: how committed are we to those who God has put into our lives, those who, if they're not, should be our friends? How many of us have friends and people who we are committed to, and some of us are committed to people who aren't even part of the body of Christ. We have people in our midst, many of us, who have emotional commitments to those who are not part of the body of Christ. You say, "Pastor, what about my natural family and people that I'm committed to?" We'll talk about relating to these folks. There's nothing wrong with relating to them, talking to them, "How you doing? How's Uncle George?" But I want to tell you what your Master said, "These are My mother and My brothers." Amen? How many of us believe that? Not a lot of amens.

How many of us have commitments outside the body of Christ? Some of us are so involved with associates, with those of like vision because of our secular ambitions. Our lives are becoming intertwined with them. We all know we're in the world. We all know we're to use the world, not abuse it. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about: have we given our heart away to other than the kingdom of God, the body of Christ? We've talked a lot about giving hearts away over the years. "He that makes many friends..." This is either a networker--"Oh, we're networking." Let's call it what it is: using other people for my personal gain. Is that a better term? "We're networking. I want to use as many people as I can for my personal gain." "He that maketh many friends"--are you so insecure? That's the motivation of a lot of people. How about this--I'm only asking questions--could it possibly be that you're works oriented and by having all of these friends, associates, and acquaintances that you want to help and give into, that this makes you feel good about yourself? Martha? There are a lot of subtle things that go on in this self, this ego, and in this crucifixion process, that we need to look very deep and ask why we do a lot of what we do. As we're coming into this hour, recognize the selfishness, the weaknesses that are in us, that so often look to man to fill voids instead of God, and identify them so that we can die to those things, be united with Jesus, be entwined with the body of Christ and bring glory to God, as we relate to one another.

"He that has many friends does it to his own destruction." Destruction in the fact that we begin to depend upon them, strength in number, the abilities that they have, the things that they are filling, the voids in our life that they're filling. We begin to depend upon that and then, when they betray us, when they become our enemies, we begin to be bitter against all people. We no longer trust people that are truly friends, because, "I've been hurt. I've been scarred." I want to tell you something, when you've been messed around and messed over as much as I have, you have to make the decision of believing and realizing that there is no right to try and protect your own heart or your own emotions, your own feelings, because the fact is, as many times as I feel I've been betrayed and denied, is nothing in my denial and betrayal of my Lord. I'm the debtor. I'm to love as I've been loved. Anything less is selfishness and idolatry. It's a difficult thing to stay vulnerable in relationships. It's a very difficult thing, when you've been hurt, to continue to lay yourself out there.

When we're talking about this, we want to look inwardly, if we can, for a moment. A true friend, Proverbs 17:17 says, "loveth at all times..." Do we have friends that we've really let into our lives? I've been through a process, just recently, that's allowed a lot of people into my life that I would rather weren't there. Very frankly, there's not anything left that I can hold into an intimate realm of making myself vulnerable to, which all of us are afraid of. None of us like to be hurt. Most of us want people to commit to us, but we don't want to commit to them. Father has absolutely stripped me and torn me and beat me into a place where, as I've shared, all of what I would have liked to have held personal has been exposed. The ugliest things that I've ever done in my life are public knowledge. The humiliation, the mockery of those, like Job speaks of, who used to be my friends now run from me and mock me, but, you know, there are a number of people in my life, Proverbs 17:17, who "love at all times." I have some friends, I have some people who love me--not for what they can get out of me--who have seen me at my ugliest, who know all there is and still love me. How much greater treasure can a person have than that? Can I tell you something? You can open up. Many of those things that you have hidden in you, that are keeping you in bondage, you can share; your true friends won't leave you. In fact, they'll be there to become iron that'll sharpen you. They'll be there, that'll be brothers, for two are better than one, that when you fall they're going to pick you up, not kick you. We need friends, amen? We need people that we can have strong affection for, that we can make commitment to.

The root of this word philea, it means: to love and to be loved. It's an interesting thing that it talks about reciprocity and that's so important in all of these relationships, to have tender affection. Why would we somehow profane that word "friendship" and apply it to all of our acquaintances? Why would we even dare to spend time and energy and strength wanting to build commitments and involve ourselves in our emotional energies to people who are haters to the kingdom of God? I'm relating these things to the world. It's very important that you understand what we're talking about. Now, all of us love the brotherhood, the universal body of Christ. We come into contact with true believers and our hearts are to praise God. "Great to hear, man. What's God doing in your life? Hallelujah! Bless God! See you later." Some of you here are of the type that are, "Oh, now can I have your e-mail address? I want to stay in touch with you." You can't even keep up with what you've got here! Amen? "Well, what's wrong with that?" The people that are of your family--it's no different than just bringing in every kid off the street. "Meet your brother. Meet your sister." Pretty soon, "Well, I ran into this one." Next thing you know--everybody's equal who we come in contact with in our lives? I don't think so. When I made mention before about the community here, I'm not saying that it's even possible for us to have the same intimate relationship with a group even this small, just the hundreds of us that are here. What I said earlier was: is God putting these relationships together or are they being based upon secular, natural things or are they built upon eternal, spiritual things? Very frankly, do you want to know what happens even in a community like this? There are times where great relationships are built and then God moves us on to some others to start building those lives, because, frankly, the strong bear the infirmities of weak, amen? The older are to teach the younger. If it's just me possessing and keeping a hold of mine and this group intact so I can feel secure and I can--you know, these are my intimate friends. I want to tell you something man, this body belongs to Jesus not you. We're here for the mutual edification of His body. That doesn't mean that this relationship no longer exists, but in some ways it can almost become a Tom Gue. "I haven't talked to that person for seventy-two hours. I'm having withdrawals." Well, if you are, it's probably because you aren't investing your life into anybody else. Now all you're doing is thinking about yourself and what you lost, not what you have to give.

Friends. How important it is to treasure those who God has put into our lives, but treasure more the ability to be used to edify the body of Christ and glorify the kingdom of God. When the commitments become too strong in the natural--what I mean by "too strong" is: when we're no longer able to apply justice or truth or judgment, when we're no longer able to, as Deuteronomy talks to us, bring about justice and judgment, when even our bosom friends are the ones who are trying to seduce us into idolatry or disobedience or carnality or worldliness, and when the necessity is there to cover for them. We've been through a whole process of seeing that cleaned out of our midst, especially out of some of our young adults. Their commitment to one another to lie for one another and cover each other's sins was far greater than their love for God and their desire for holiness. When some of us parents' desire to cover with a covering that's not of the Lord, our children and their needs--and to be able to just say, "Yeah, they're a mess. I'm a mess. Help us, praise God." Your friends won't forsake you.

Can I ask you a question? This is very important; even if everybody else does leave, Hebrews 13:5 says, "Let your [living] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have [material, social]: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." John 14:18, get them in your notes and just let these things begin to go over in your heart, because this is what I want to encourage us in. The Master speaking, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you [in the person of the Holy Spirit]." John 13:1, I love the way that this passage ends. "...Jesus [knowing] that his hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." We're going to look, as we go on in the study, and we need to ask ourselves the question: what if standing for Jesus costs you every natural friend? What if, in this process that we're getting ready to go into--iniquity abounding, the love of many waxing cold, you're enemies will be those of your own household--do you have any idea of the capacity of the people within this room to turn and destroy you with what they have to know about you when they defect? "Well, let's--I need to stay aloof then. I don't want anybody to know about my personal life." Wrong answer. If God's for you, nobody can be against you, amen? He said, "I'll never leave you nor forsake you. I will not leave you comfortless. You are My friends." He loved them until the end, praise God! You've got a friend that sticks closer than a brother. You will never be able to be totally vulnerable to the people that are around you until you truly believe you have One that will never forsake you. If I've got Him, I don't need anything else. It's a frightening thing, in the times of adversity, what can happen in the minds of people.

Micah, Chapter 7. If you read the whole chapter, we won't do that right now, but Micah is lamenting the condition of the people of God, the covenant people of God. He's lamenting and saying there's nobody that has a heart for God. It's like the hour we're getting ready to go into. People are forsaking Him, the love of the world is intertwining all that were my bosom friends and I don't know what to do and I look around and I can't find a faithful person. And he says in the fifth verse in the seventh chapter of Micah, "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in [your counselor or your] guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom." You go, "Man, that's..."--paranoia, fear? Micah is speaking toward a natural circumstance and realizing that any and all are capable of betrayal. But I believe the gospel takes us a step beyond what Micah and those were able to experience. I believe we have another realm of experiencing the love of God that allows us to die to self. You know what? I can share everything I am and everything I believe and though everybody forsakes me, nobody can hurt me; I'm dead. If you're still capable of being hurt, you are still alive. If rejection hurts you, you're still alive. If betrayal hurts you, you're still alive. If image is still an issue in your life, you're still alive. If you have a reputation, you're still alive.

I've just been through about forty-eight hours of torment in my mind, dealing with so many different issues of the past and having to dig up all of the painful things that I've shared with you earlier. Yesterday afternoon, as the Lord began to give me some reprieve, all I could do is just say, "Father thank You for Your peace. Forgive me for still being alive, because this hurt. I've handled this trial so poorly." Father's grace has been so powerful in my life, in these past weeks and months, and, like we've taught in so many of our messages, I know in my mind that death is a daily process. I know in my mind that the flesh never gets better. I know in my mind and in my doctrine all of the right answers, but how quickly, how quickly, given any opportunity whatsoever--reprieve from the pressure, from the fires, reprieve just giving yourself a little break because you've been working so hard--how quickly the flesh can rise back up; amen? Don't you hate it? You know what you need at a time like that? A friend. I'm able to go to my friend, to my wife; I can go to my daughter. Through a lot of this junk, now, I can't even talk to my daughter, my closest friends. Everything else has to be held private. That's a lousy place to be when your whole life is one of openness. But I'm able to go to my friend and talk to her about my doubts and my fears and my hurts. Do you have a friend in your husband and in your wife?

I want to emphasize that. I want to share these things. Some of you have more vulnerability with friends who are not one with you and it shouldn't be so. There's nothing wrong with having bosom friends and those who are able to know intimate parts of our lives, but I want to emphasize this one aspect this morning. I just keep coming back to that. I wasn't planning on it, but it's such an issue. Friends love at all times. I'm getting off track a little bit this morning, but when your closest friends, when your spouse comes to you, share their heart with you or somehow you failed them, how vital it is to relate from the debtor position. So often, we're offended, because so many times it's different than what we struggle within our lives. Relate to your friends based upon your own weaknesses. Don't you hate that selfness, that flesh that you war with daily? So do they. They don't delight in those areas of weakness in their life any more than you delight in yours. Weep with them. Speak the Word of God into them. Speak faith into their hearts. It's not a time to justify, "Well, you know, that's okay. We all fail." No. Let's deal with the issue and drive it out of our midst, amen! But, in a way, that lets them know you're not going to forsake them. You're going to stand there with them. The good man falls seven times and does what... [gets up]. Every time he rises up, his friend's standing there at his side, helping him, praise God! When someone sins in our midst or even sins against us, we forgive them how many times... [seven times seventy]? We need friends. We need somebody to help us die. Dying is not a pleasant thing. I remember helping Janet die. It's ugly and yet it's so beautiful. As we deal with this flesh and its frailties and its weaknesses, we become instruments of grace and mercy and truth. Friends will always tell you the truth. If all you do is tell your, quote "friends" what they want to hear, you're a flatterer. You're selfish. You love yourself and not them.

Let me share one other thing and we'll shut it down for this morning. Proverbs 27:10. How important this is, who should your friends be? "Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a [friend] that is near than a brother far off." There are a couple of things that I want to end with this just for this morning. I think it's very vital--so many of us make the mistake of familiarity breeding contempt. Oh, they're not so contemptuous in our eyes that we're like ptooi "Spit on you!" We take things for granted, "Oh, I met this new friend and they think I'm the greatest thing on the planet." It's because they don't know you yet; amen? What about generational friendship? What about friendship that's lasted for generations--friends, our father's friends, our friends? Some of it we've built here. We have generational relationships and friendships. We have, thankfully, friendships where young people, not only in relating to their parents but relating to their parents' friends, and are there to get counsel, advice. They look to them as examples of the believer, amen? Thank God for that treasure! When some lose parents, for whatever reason, to death or they defect or whatever, there are friends that are staying here, that remain, that are closer than brothers. We need to understand that and treasure that, not take it for granted. So often, we allow this familiarity. Beloved, that's a natural tendency. We can't deny it and we can't minimize it even into the realm of the supernatural. A prophet is not without honor but in his own...[country]. Part of that is because we just see the earthen vessel aspect and we forget that they're filled with the glory of God. All we look at after long relationships--those of our own country, those of our own family, those who we've been raised with--all we see is this earthen vessel. "Well, they're this and they're that and I--". They speak the Word of God to us and we can't hear it because of that over familiarity. Let's look past the old clay drain tile and look at the message, that it's bringing us the truth, amen?

One last thing, a couple more, as we close, that are important for us. Who should we be looking to? Those who God has put in our lives, the intimate, the sovereignty of God that's put us together as a people. Does that mean that we don't relate to people? I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about who we're committed to, because friendship is commitment and you can't be committed to everybody or you're no good to anybody except yourself. You become the networker. We see it's not many. It's intimate and the intimacy is dictated by God, in His sovereignty, where He's put me; His wisdom, not our own. Then, we see that it's to be generational. We see that genuine friends love at all times. Proverbs 27:27, as you continue in that chapter, and you might want to just write this down, that it's as iron sharpens iron. True friends help you with your attitude adjustments. The one thing that so many of us forget, beloved, in this same 27th chapter of Proverbs, verse 6, "...the wounds of a friend," are so necessary. "Faithful," the Scripture says, "are these wounds." A friend is faithful to wound us by speaking words of chastening. Receive it for what it is. It's love. It's friendship. It's commitment. It's their obedience to the lordship of Jesus in our lives. Friends are there for no other reason, beloved, than to help us conform to the image of Jesus. Yes, they're there to encourage us and speak words of encouragement, but also to bring about instruction, reproof, and rebuke. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. We need to be thankful for it and for those who will tell us the truth.

Who is it that we need to be seeking? Many of us are wondering, "What should I spend my time on and who should I be around?" Psalms 119:63, we'll end with this for this morning, "I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts." Who is that you want to be around--the ones that you can talk sports with, the ones that you can talk business with, the ones you can run and go shopping with and go play golf with, go to your rummage--whatever it is that you call those things that people throw their junk in their driveway and people go around and do that kind of stuff or go shopping or whatever it is? Who is it that you want to be around? As we stand around and just look across this congregation, you say, "Who would I like to be a friend with?" I'm a companion of those who fear You, of those who love and keep Your commandments. I want to find out whoever it is that's most in pursuit of Jesus and I want to hang out with those people. That's who I want to be around! We want to talk sports and set up our new Game Boy and do this and that and we want to watch a movie and all they want to do is talk about the Bible, talk about Jesus. "We'll call you guys when the fun's over!" Koinonia, beloved--we're going to talk about that in just a moment--is not entertainment, entertaining one another. Koinonia is edifying one another; amen? Too many of us are more interested in being entertained than we are edified. Friends bring about edification, prioritize the Word of God, prioritize prayer, prioritize holiness, and prioritize the eternal. If you've got friends that have the temporal, the entertainment, outweighing the supernatural, the spiritual, and the eternal, you need to either be a good friend and help them get their lives back in balance or go find another friend, because, in the day we're going into, two are better than one. One puts a thousand and two put ten thousand [to flight]. We're going into a war that many of us have never even imagined existed. Who's going to be standing at your side? Gideon's three hundred? Someone that's standing there and lapping the water or the guy that has his head down text messaging or checking the latest stock market or the latest games or the latest whatever or has some toy game, Avatar, whatever, thing going on. I want to tell you, the people who are preoccupied with all of that stuff are the ones who have their head in the water. God has no use for them. He'll save by the three hundred. Who are our friends?

Father, we thank You for Your Word. We ask that You'd challenge our hearts, that we would realize that, as we die to self, we don't have the luxuries of consuming upon ourselves, soliciting to ourselves, those who make us feel great, who make us feel comfortable, those who will compromise with us. We ask You, Lord, put in our lives the people that will make the best team to glorify You alone. That's our hearts' desire, in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.

Before you go, turn to somebody next to you and say, "A friend loves at all times." Amen. Go in peace. God's love go with you.