Show me your friends,

 I'll Show You Your Future.

(Proverbs 18:24 KJV) A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

From childhoods hour your friends have played a major roll in who you are today. A man can not live without friends. Oh, Yes I know some that have tried, but their existence was one of a withered branch upon a dead vine. Life without friends is not life at all. Taking away all your friends is like stripping the leaves from the tree of life itself. I pray you all have good strong friendships here upon the earth and that the friendship that you have with the Father is eternally bound in the heavens for the world after.

Too many friendships end with more pain then the comfort they ever brought. Those were not real friendships at all. Too many people that were once your close friends care not about you anymore at all. I do not understand it very well. I mean I know we are all busy with our own lives and we have gone our separate ways but you would think that the strong bond that you thought you once had would last longer then just days spent together. I believe a true friend is one who even after not seeing you in years picks up the relationship as if a day has not even passed. A true friend is not one who walks away from you in your time of need or leaves without saying a word. A true friend cares not if you are richer or poorer then you were when you were together but cares about healing any pain that may have come since the time last seen. A true friend, well, a true friend is real hard to find.

In our scripture verse above Solomon tells us that there is a friend that that sticks closer than a brother. Before we discuss how Jesus can fill that description in our lives let's look at the depth of the statement. You have heard the saying of how blood is thicker then water. The relationship between family members may at times be strained but let anyone try to hurt a member and you soon discover the unbreakable bond of family love. Especially in that of a brother. Yes, I know that sisters will stick up for sisters but to be able to know that you have a brother that will stick up for you is knowing you have strength. There is a story that illustrates the bond that brotherly love can have. It is said that in the highlands of Scotland during a cold and hard winter a band of men got lost upon a mountain top in a storm. As the men struggled though the thick falling snow and the blizzard of icy wind one after another began to fall to their death. As one young man fell his brother came to his side and barely able to walk himself lifted his brother and carried him on his back. This man carried his brother on through the winters worse until at last he himself could face no mere and fell in the snow to his death. He may have died but by carrying his brother as he did it warmed the other enough to rise to his feet and make it out safely. The brother gave his life for his other and would never think twice of not doing it again. So to say that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother is not just saying a little.

I don't know about you but I can not say that I have ever had a friend that I knew would give his life for my own. Even in the military I could not say for sure that my fellow soldiers would be willing to lay their life on the line for mine. Oh, it is easy to say that I would, but would I? I have met some brave men in the service of our country and I am sure that they would pay the ultimate price for a fellow soldier in arms. But how about you? You know as I went through this week preparing for this message I remembered so many friends that I had over the years. Friends from High School. Friends from my different neighborhoods growing up. Friends from Texas, Colorado, California, Arizona, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Germany, England and France. I thought about my friends from college and how I thought we would always stay in touch. I though a lot about my friends from the Renaissance Festivals we worked, they were more like family then friends yet now if we speak or meet at all it is as if we were just passing acquaintances never friends at all. You know, I have friends all over the world and I sincerely consider you one. Yet for all of us there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and His love is eternal and comes from above. 

Anyone who has a real relationship with Jesus Christ knows the depth of His faithfulness. To sing what a friend we have in Jesus is an understatement at the least. If you know Jesus as your friend then you know how He will never leave you or forsake you. Before the first star was exploded into being His love for you was there. while you were yet being formed in your mother's womb He was preparing things for you here. When you first heard His gospel preached and laughed and called it old fair, He was with you keeping you safe from the enemies angry darts of despair. When you called out to Him in your time of need He came and visited with you there. When you asked Him to forgive you He already did and now you know He is here. He is right there beside you now as you read these words. He is closer then a brother and in that you can be sure. 

This seems to be going a little too sing song for me tonight so I am going to try to change the tone just a little and talk about our faith and how we can strengthen it. The first thing I know is that the Bible is the very Word of God. In it's pages there is all the answers to every and any question we might imagine. Oh, Now I have got you thinking of some strange questions to ask to see if you can find the answer to it in the Bible. See how you are? Let's try to stay a little bit focused. OK, so the Bible is the authority and it tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. What does that mean? It means we need to dig into the word and start discovering the truth of it. It is easy for us to have faith for some things but not for other's. Why is that? Because we do not trust in His word. Even though it has been proven true over hundreds of generations and thousands of years, we still question its validity. Some would suggest that we start with something small and grab onto that and as it comes to fruition we can believe upon a little more. I don't know why, but I just don't think we have got that much time and even if we did why would we go a second longer without all that God has for us right now. Here are some expressions that you most likely have heard in the past. You have to take it on faith. Just step out on faith. Just have faith. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. What you haven't heard that one? Sorry. it is starting to get late. OK, The first step in having more faith is believing more faith can be had. That makes sense doesn't it? Then you have to know the right thing to have faith in. And I suppose most relevantly it depends upon what reason you are needing or desiring stronger faith. Right now there is just one, no a couple of verses that I want you to grab onto and really believe with all your heart. I mean I want you to take hold of these passages of scripture and know that it is the very words of God speaking directly to your heart, because it is. Here they are:

   (Romans 8:28 KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
 

(Philippians 4:19 KJV) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Just one more

(Isaiah 54:17 KJV) No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
 

OK, one more, you'll like this one too!

(Romans 8:38 & 39 KJV) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And that takes us back to the realization that there is a friend that sticks closer then a brother. OH, I want you to know the love of God first hand. God wants you to know His love for you. You want to know God's love for you or you wouldn't even be reading this. God does love you and He knows that you are worth paying it all for. And He has laid up in heaven all things for you. He is that friend that sticks closer then a brother. So why then do you at times, too often feel so all alone? Why is it in the middle of the night you wake up and you just are not sure that any of it is real? Why, do you doubt His word, and why can't you just be given His peace and be able to rest assured that all things at all times are working together for the good? Well, one really cool thing about God's word is it answers all our questions. Even our questions about doubting that it can answer our question. I know I am running out of time now so let me make this point real quick. you spend some time thinking about it and praying about it and then do something about it and watch your faith grow and your life change.

The thing is we have to read the whole verse. We have been saying over and over how there is a friend that sticks closer then a brother but read the first part. A man that has friends must show himself friendly. We can be our own worse enemy. When things have got to be our way or else we are turning our back on any and all friendships. And it is always the ones we love the most that we hurt the most. A man that has friends must show himself friendly. At a recent National Honor Society induction ceremony, where my daughter Rachel was being inducted into the N.H.S. (just had to through that in being s proud dad and all.) A speaker quoted someone as saying show me your friends and I'll show you your future. That statement rang so true to me and stayed with me. At first I looked at my life and asked, Well, what if you don't have any friends, does that mean you don't have a future. No I thought, it means that you determine your own future. Having so many friends all around the world our future can really look pretty bright. Then what holds us under this cloud of emptiness? A man that has friends must show himself friendly. We can be so miserable sometimes. And I have heard some of the foulest language lately, even amongst woman that would make a sailor think he was in New Jersey. It is time to show yourself friendly again. It is time to regain your integrity and build up your character and develop the one true lasting friendship that will give you the brightest of all futures.

Do you want a real friend that sticks by you closer then a brother, then show yourself friendly. Clean up your act already. Take some pride in yourself and stop believing the lie of the enemy. Don't forget there is a real battle going on. That battle is over your soul. If you have been feeling downtrodden lately then maybe you need to show yourself a little more friendly to your true friend and stop playing in satan's sand box. Do you remember when you were a kid and you had a best friend? Everything would be great until someone else came along and distracted your friend from you and the next thing you knew you were playing alone. The same is true in the grown up spiritual world. You can have a great relationship with Jesus. Your faith starts to get built up and you really start to feel good about yourself and your future. Then you start getting distracted by the stuff going on in the world around you and the next thing you know you've left God and now your in quicksand up to your neck. Call out to Him afresh. He has been waiting for you. He is a real friend and will not insist that you hang with Him. OK, maybe you got the point already. I hope so. Because God loves you and He hurts when you hurt. He is that friend that sticks closer then a brother. Just take a quick look and make sure your playing in God's sandbox and that you haven't wondered off into satan's sandbox of quicksand. Do you know how you will be able to tell the difference? 

      (Matthew 12:34 KJV) O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Now is the time for your faith to be strengthened. Now is the time for you to put your faith in action. Now is the time and today is the day of your salvation. If you can right now put your trust in God that with Him all things are possible then your life can be changed for ever for the better right now. If you have never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins then you can do that right now and know that the blood that He shed on the cross was for you. If you have never asked Him to come into your heart and be your LORD and savior then you can do that right now and all things can become new. You can become a new creation in Christ Jesus by accepting Him and inviting Him in and wrapping your life around Him. He is the best friend you will ever have. And you know what? His friends can be your friends too. That's what fellowship is all about. So welcome to the family of God. Welcome back home. Welcome a change in your life today. Let it be real and lasting as you continue to trust in God's power to work within you and through you great things for His glory. 

Remember there is a direct correlation between your physical relationships and your spiritual one. and visa versa.  You think about that. Amen!