Friendship With Jesus

If I had to choose one book out of the entire Bible as my favorite it would be the book of John. Of course every book in the Bible is unique. For example, most of the Old Testament tells us about God’s covenant and holiness; while in the New the other Gospels tell us what Jesus did. When we get to Acts we learn how the church came to be and later the Apostle Paul shows us what it means to live as a Christian. But John, from its very first verses tells us about Jesus.

In Chapter One He is the Word of God
In Chapter Six the Bread of life
Chapter Eight He tells us He is the Light of the world
And In Chapter Ten He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life
By Chapter Eleven He tells Martha He is the Resurrection and the Life
Chapter Thirteen reveals Jesus as Lord and Master
Chapter Fourteen the Way the Truth and Life
Chapter Fifteen He is the Vine and we are His branches
And finally to Thomas in Twenty He reveals He is Lord and God

But of all these amazing titles, I find the most amazing is Friend.

No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

When our oldest son was just a baby we lived in a tiny third floor apartment. The two features we loved most about it were that it was cheap and that it was furnished. But it was so small that you could walk through its three rooms in less than ten steps. Three for the kitchen, three more for the living room and a bit less for the bedroom which over looked the street. One hot summer afternoon our one year old son Chris woke from his nap while my wife was working in the kitchen. The window was open just a crack to let in whatever breeze might be stirring to let in some air. For some reason Chris decided that it was much more interesting watching the cars below on the street than in going to see his mom. As he climbed out, Nancy heard the sound and turned and saw our son out on the roof toddling back and forth unafraid and unaware of the danger. Being the cool headed woman that she is Nancy, looked out and smiled at Chris, then spread her arms wide and called gently. “Hi honey! Come give mommy a hug!’ Chris lit up when he heard his mother’s voice and walked back to the window and embraced his mother. As our friend, God is exactly like that. He clearly sees the danger we are in teetering on the edge of eternity because of our sin. We have all climbed out the window of His will to try and get a better look at the world. But our almighty Creator does not panic. He does not shout orders or demand instant obedience. He knows we cannot obey in fear and that in fact we will be even more likely to fall off our tiny ledge of safety. Instead the Master of the universe spread His arms open wide to us on the cross and called. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Now that’s some amazing kind of friend! Won’t you rush to Heaven’s window and reach out for His everlasting arms!

Oh what a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

I hope you like our good friend Matt Maher’s version of What a Friend. It is one of my favorites!

No Care in Prayer

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 KJV

If this were my letter I would have written, “Things are terrible here in prison. Please pray and if you can, send me a warm sweater and a box or two of cookies!” But instead, Paul writes to encourage his friends that God answers prayer, even while he is sitting in a cold Roman jail.

He begins by telling them, “Stop worrying!” That is because being in trouble, is like driving on an icy road. Prayer is our steering wheel; faith is the accelerator and worry our brakes. If our car starts to slide, the worst thing we could do is slam on the brakes. To put our foot on the brakes means taking it off our gas pedal of faith. A situation without faith will always skid out of control and directly towards the ditch. Instead, Paul tells us to grab hold of the steering wheel of prayer. We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we can always pray. It is as if Paul is saying, “Stop gripping the steering wheel in fear, instead relax and thank God.” When we give thanks in a crisis, is like gently keeping our foot on the accelerator of faith so we keep our traction on the road. Does it feel like your life is sliding out of control this today? Trust God and pray and He promises that a peace greater than we can understand will guard our hearts bring us safely on the road towards home!

I really love listening to David Wesley’s acapella renditions of some of the classic hymns of the church. I hope you will not only enjoy “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, but also listen and watch the short documentary at the end about Joseph Scriven. Have a blessed week everyone!

Hope in the Middle of Worry

All our striving, worrying and stress comes from the mistaken belief that if we just tried a little harder or worked a little longer that we could win God favor. But Jesus Christ freely gives us rest for heart and soul as we discover in God alone our true acceptance and love and power to live for Him!

No matter what the world throws at us today or who wins the election – Jesus never changes. He is always the Good Shepherd and offers to be our friend. What is your answer to Him? This week’s song session includes Take my Life and Let it Be, What a Friend We Have in Jesus and Near to the Heart of God. May God bless you richly with His peace so that even with the world in chaos around us we can have a message of the hope of Jesus Christ.