“SHARE STORIES OF A FRIEND”                    By Pastor YAU

Text: 1 John 1:1-4                                                  August 30, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A modern time story: Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam died in a traffic accident five months before the publication of his landmark book about the US war in Korea. In the weeks following his death, fellow writers and colleagues volunteered to conduct a national book tour in his memory. During each engagement, they paid tribute to their friend by reading part of his new book and offering personal recollections of their dear friend. They shared stories of a friend.

2)   An ancient time story: After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, His disciples went around the region to tell others about Him. They recounted their personal encounters with Jesus and told people what they had heard and seen about Him. Their acts of telling personal stories of Jesus were exactly what He told them to do. Before Jesus was assented to heaven, He gave them this instruction: “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the outer most parts of the world.” (Acts 1:8) That is sharing stories of a friend.

 

FRIENDSHIP IN THE BIBLE:

1)   Moses, a friend of God: “The Lord God would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) How many of us have that special privilege to be addressed as a friend of God? This is the account when God refused to go with the Israelis because of their rebellious act while Moses was on Mount Horeb to receive the Ten Commandments. Moses pled with God on behalf of the rebellious Israelis. Because of his faithfulness and persistence in serving the Lord, God came to talk to him as a friend who understood the problems and the need of Moses in fulfilling the call of God to lead the Israelis to the Promised Land.

2)   Abraham, a friend of God: “And the Scripture was fulfilled that says: Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:23) Most Christians have long learned about the close relationship Abraham had with God. His obedience in responding to God’s call, his faith in uprooting his family to go to an unknown place, his ultimate willingness in giving his only son, Isaac, as a living sacrifice all made him to gain favor from God. Salvation from God is a free gift because no one can do anything to earn it. But to be called a friend of God is the results of many dedicated acts of faith and obedience.

3)   The three friends of Job: “When Job’s three friends heard about all the troubles came upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.” (Job 2:11) Many of us would criticize the way Job’s friends expressed their concern and the over zealous assumption they took on the reason of his suffering. But we need to see the good side of their friendship with Job. How many of our friends would do to us as they did to Job when we are in deep trouble? King Solomon elevated the status of friends as brothers who would come to your rescue when you are in deep trouble, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born in adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) Those who run away from you when you are in trouble are never your friends.

4)   Disciples, friends of Jesus: “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) From 15:9-17, Jesus told his disciples a new level of relationship between him and them. They are no longer his servants or disciples (students) but his friends if they love one another and do what he commanded them to do. This is a very special relationship between God and men. No other religion or deity had offered their followers such an intimate and personal relationship. It is not only the giants in the Bible such as Moses, Abraham or King David could become friends to God. Anyone who loves God and obeys His commands is offered the same privilege to be God’s friend.

 

BEFRIEND WITH JESUS: (John 15:9-17)

1)    It all begins with God’s love: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (15:9)To be a friend of God is a gift of a loving God, not a result of our works. No one may do anything to be qualified to befriend with God. The only way to befriend with God is to accept His love in Jesus Christ. There is no other way through which man may approach God much less to be His friend. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6)

2)    It shows in our mutual love: “My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (15:12-13) True love, be it human or divine, must be demonstrated through actions, not just merely words. Jesus demonstrated His love to us, his friends, by laid down His life for us. So we must show our love to Him by giving Him our life, our love and our all.

3)    It shows in what we know Him: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (15:15)One of the most important signs of a good friendship is to know each other: background, likes and dislikes, thoughts and habits, etc. Jesus has made known to his disciples all truth from his Father. If we want to be true friends of Jesus, we need to get to know Him more and deeper through the study of His words. If we don’t know much of Jesus, our friendship with him is only shallow.

4)    It shows in our fruits: “You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (15:16)Fruits we may bear are gifts we will bring to Jesus, our best friend. These are not material fruits which Jesus, as God, doesn’t need. The Bible teaches us that God desires fruits of the Holy Spirit that reflect our spiritual character. God also desires fruits of saving souls into the His Kingdom. We cannot and should not enjoy a friendship with God only on the receiving side. God desires that we are fruit bearing friends. (Matt. 21:19)

 

SHARING THE BEST STORY: JESUS: (1 John 1:1-4)

1)    A personal witnessing: “Which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked at and our hands touched.” (1:1) Most people share stories from “hear says.” They hear others said about someone or something and they pass on to still others as true stories but without personal experience in what they share. When John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, shared his accounts of Jesus, he shared it with his own personal experience: he witnessed the man and what he said and did. It is very important that we have a personal relationship and experience with Jesus before we can bear true and authentic witnessing in the life and work of the Savior.

2)    Jesus, the Word of life: “That which was from the beginning this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1:1)This Jesus, to him John is a friend, is no ordinary man or friend. He is the Word of life from the beginning. Decades ago John gave similar account when he introduced Jesus to the world: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) When John and millions of Christians witness for this special friend, Jesus, they witness the Word, the Creator of the universe, the Giver of life and the Savior of souls. He is not the founder of a religion like many others. He is the giver of eternal life through our faith in Him. It is more than teaching moral codes to men, it is about the only way to God in eternity. “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1:2)Share this good news to the world.

3)    Life relationship with Jesus: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” (1:3)The purpose of sharing this Friend to the world is not just giving accounts of knowledge but giving the way of a personal relationship with God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Good human relationships are important in earthly life. But spiritual relationship with God and Jesus is far more important because it brings our life to eternity way pass the end of our life on earth.

4)    Have complete joy in life: “We write this to make our (your) joy complete.” (1:4)Sharing the good news of Jesus our best Friend with the world is the only way to bring true joy to our life and the lives of all men in the whole world. Many people seek joy from worldly possessions, fame, power and pleasure. Most of them perish in their achievements. The real joy of life is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through our faith in Him as the Son of the living God. (Matt. 16:16)No one may have true joy except the joy in the Father and His Son.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   We have a friend, God: In a world that friends are hard to find, much less the true and loving one, we are fortunate to have God as our Friend. He loves us, understands us and is willing to give His best to us, His only son. No one has to struggle through life alone. Call Him and He will be there to help you.

2)   Share your Friend to someone: Many people in this world do not have true friends. They are lonely, afraid and confused. They need to have a friend like yours, God. So, begin to share with a friend about your Friend. They need Him as much as you do. If you begin to see people around, you can see and find someone who needs this Friend of yours, share Him with them.

3)   He wants to be your friend: “God so loved the world,” and He wants to be your friend and love you. Open your heart to Him and ask Him to enter into your heart and life. Hand over all of your life, purpose, future and direction to Him and He will lead you to a higher ground, a higher purpose and more meaningful life. Ask Him to save you and be the Lord of your life today.