Luke 19:8-9; John 3:1-21; Acts 4:8-12
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24 NLT
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. -John 15:9-16 NLT
Jesus is the greatest friend we could ever have. He even went to the depths of proving this by laying down his life on the cross. Abraham, Enoch, Moses and David were just a few examples of men who were friends of God. What made them friends? They listened and obeyed God. They spent time in His presence and conversed with him. Enoch even walked right into heaven without dying, he was that close to God! “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Genesis 5:23-24).
When Jesus was on this earth, he had male and female friends. Think of people like Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the disciples, etc. He spent time with them, sharing in fellowship over meals, listening to them about their lives and their families, rejoicing when they rejoiced and weeping when they suffered loss (John 11:35). Jesus calls us friends as well. He desires to tell us what is on his heart. He wants us to spend time with him in his presence. He also wants us to love others as he loves them.
But what about when life is hard, people hurt us, illness floors us, and we just feel completely alone? Have you ever asked why life is so difficult and if Jesus really does love you? Remember the story of Lazarus. Though Mary and Martha told Jesus that their brother was ill and could die, Jesus still stayed ministering in another town. He did not return until 2 days later and Lazarus was in the tomb dead. Martha said to Jesus if he had come earlier, Lazarus would not be dead but she trusted Jesus regardless. Of course, we know the rest of the story- Lazarus was raised from the dead.
Sometimes we feel as if Jesus doesn’t care and he has abandoned us. We forget that he indeed is in control and he still is our friend. How do we embrace a friendship with Jesus as God? We spend time in his presence, we keep praying, we keep trusting and believing. Remember the end of the story for Lazarus- something greater usually comes out of difficult times. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not ours. Allow Jesus to be your friend. Tell him everything- your joys, your frustrations, your anger, and your unbelief’s. He knows already but he wants you to talk to him. And he wants you to listen. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be friends with him (not just for the priests). Can you say today “I am a friend of God?”
Jesus, my dearest friend, I thank you for paving the way for friendship with me. It amazes me that I am able to be a friend of God. I admit there are times I struggle believing that you are indeed a friend because life gets messy and sometimes lonely. Earthly friends hurt me and trust is hard. You never fail me, you never leave nor forsake me, you even loved me so much that you laid down your life for me on the cross. I cannot even begin to comprehend such love, such grace, such a great friendship. I desire to know more of you, to spend more time in your presence, more time sharing my heart and listening to yours. Today, help me to be a better friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For further study:
Exodus 33:7-11; Proverbs 17:17, 27:9: John 1:1-44; James 4:4-10
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” -Luke 4:16-21 NLT
Jesus is our Healer, the Great Physician. He came to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah as the one who brings Good News, set the captives and oppressed free and make blind eyes see (Is. 61:1-2). Jesus healed paralytics, blind men, a woman with an issue of blood, the demon possessed, the mute, and even raised people from the dead! Jesus healed the whole person, not just the physical. He cared about the souls of man. When we read of Jesus’ healing, he forgave man’s sins, he expelled demons and he brought new life into those who once suffered.
Some people think that those miracles only happened in the Bible and they do not still occur today. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and for evermore. He can and still does heal.
Some of you are suffering illness day in and day out. You have prayed over and over again for Jesus to heal you. You have asked others to pray for you but it seems to no avail. I understand as I am in this same situation, praying for healing when pain and fatigue overwhelm me daily. I don’t have a padded answer as to why Jesus hasn’t healed me or you. I can say however, Jesus is with us. He has compassion for us. He cares about our souls and healing may be taking place from the deepest part of us. I also believe that though our healing may not take place here on this earth, we will be ultimately healed in heaven with a new body with no more pain or sickness. I keep holding on to hope for healing here and if not here, in heaven.
Does Jesus still heal? I believe He does. I am finding it is no point of complaining all the time about my illness, it’s just the way it is for now and how ever long I suffer with it. I have found though that praising God through the pain makes a massive difference. When I spend time in worship and praise, the pain lessens as my eyes are fixed on Jesus. Be encouraged friends, God is with us. He can still use us despite of our illnesses (Joni Earickson-Tada is a great example). Don’t give the enemy the satisfaction of giving in! Stand firm in your faith. God gives and takes away, blessed be His name.
Jesus, I know you are the Great Physician and I know you can still heal today as you did in the Bible. I thank you that no disease is beyond your capability to heal. Jesus, I trust you in the midst of pain, sickness and struggles. I know you are with me. I have friends and family I have been praying healing for. Help me to understand that even though I may not see physical healing, you are working on their hearts and souls. You are in control. I trust you and know you are the same today as yesterday and for evermore. Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved for you are my praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For further study:
The book of Job; Isaiah 61; Matthew 9; James 5:14-16
I don’t often talk about the illnesses I live with but for today I am. Before I became ill, I was an active mum and minister. I enjoyed taking the boys out on walks in the woods, countryside, and fields. I loved watching them explore and we always brought home acorns, twigs, pine cones, etc. in little sandwich bags. I enjoyed working with children. I loved planning programmes and crafts and then spending time getting to know the children in our church. I taught Sunday School, Junior Soldiers, worked at summer camps, etc. I also enjoyed teaching/preaching. I am more a teacher than a preacher.
I was quite active with all these things until 2010 when my life changed. I had sinus surgery in March and then later that year I had swine flu. This was also the year I became a British citizen and went to Brengle Holiness Retreat…
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On this day of Remembrance
We pause to pray, give thanks
We give you thanks and remember
For those who have gone before us
for the countless lives
who paid the ultimate price
Paving the way for our freedom
We thank you for our military
For protecting us in peace and in war
Thank you for their sacrificial lives
That are given at home and abroad.
We pray that you would give comfort
To those who mourn
The loss of recent wars or those gone by
Some have come home wounded and broken
Suffering from PTSD, loss of limbs,
Visions of death and horror,
Their lives have completely changed.
Bring peace to those who struggle
Day in and day out
With the pain of loss
Bring peace to areas where war rages on
Speak healing into the souls
Of our men and women
Who gave of themselves for us
Draw near to the families
Who wait for their loved ones
To come home
Who raise their children all alone
Let them know that you are there
Protect our military
As they protect us
Protect our country,
And for those who don’t
have this precious freedom
Bring liberty and life
Father we ask
That you will heal our land
Bring healing to this broken world
and let your kingdom reign
on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray this in Jesus’ name.
Lord hear our prayer, Amen.
©Tanya R Dooley
Recently, my youngest, Joel, has begun refeereing football (soccer) games. He had to take a course in learning the laws (not rules) of the game. In order to be fully qualified, he has to referee five games and take an exam. He has refereed 3 games thus far this week alone and has another one tomorrow.
Joel has wanted to be a ref since he was 12 years old. He has watched football since he was 4, loving Manchester United. He recently began watching how referees make good and bad calls in Premier League games. He has learnt how different those calls are to what gets called out in grass root games. He has made a few mistakes in his first games and tends to be hard on himself. However, we, his parents and the coaches he’s refereed for, are very pleased with him. We know he’s just at the beginning of his work as a referee and there is a lot of work and growth to be done.
Jesus knows how much work that has been and still needs to be done in us as Christians. He promises us the work he began in us when were saved will continue and be finished when he returns or we go home.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. -Philippians 1:6 ESV
Just like we are not expecting Joel to be perfect in his referee calls, Jesus is not expecting us to be completely mature and perfect in everything we do.
Jesus sees and know us. He expects us to grow. He expects us to lean on him, talk to him, and learn how to be like him by studying instructions from his Word. As we learn, he enables us to grow into mature believers. He continues to work in us, moulding us into who he desires us to be.
One day, Joel will work himself up to Premier League and I’ll be so proud and say, “that’s my boy!” Jesus looks at us and sees how much we have grown and knows how much work he has done in us to get us to that point. He also looks at us and says, “that’s my girl!” or “that’s my boy!”
Joel hears “well done” for the amazing work he does.
And so will we.
When we reach our home, and Jesus says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” What a marvellous work he does in our lives.