Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to Get, Keep and Maintain Good Godly Christian Friendships

Good healthy Christian friendships are very important to have. Surrounding yourself with the wrong kind of people can lead you down a road you will regret, a road that's hard to travel back from. The Bible speaks quite a bit about friendships. It teaches us how to be in a friendship, how to treat our friends, what to do if a friend does you wrong, the rewards of good friends ships and the curses of bad ones. Even if you look at it from a Non Christian point of view, surrounding yourself with good positive people is something everyone needs. You become like those around you. If you're hanging out with negative people who are constantly spitting out negative comments, you will find yourself doing the same thing. That's one reason it's important to have good healthy friendships. Many times throughout our lives we need the strength, comfort and godly counsel of a good Christian friend. Then other times you become that source of strength, comfort and godly counsel for them. If you don't have good Christian friends, PRAY for some! God will answer your prayer and bring good people into your life. If you already have good Christian friends, PRAY for them! We all need prayer and alongside God, we are each others support. I went through a trial in my life and during this trial nearly everyone turned their back on me. A few people in my immediate family, my friends and even Church family. I will admit the trial was due to my own stumbling on my walk with God. I had made friends with negative, selfish people who were up to no good. The people you become friends with and the people you choose to hang around with can become a blessing or a curse. That's why it's important to surround yourself with good people, people with like-minded faith, people who are doing positive things in their lives. What I disagree with was how people treated me and abandoned me as I was trying to restore myself spiritually when the word of God clearly states: "Galatians 6:1 - Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." I remember weeping and telling God how lonely I was for a friend, "just one friend to talk to Lord! that's all i need!" I was tired of going to church and being ignored, practically shunned while people gossiped behind my back and added exaggerations to my already embarrassing situation. I thought if I had just one friend I could have a sense of hope in my complete restoration in God. I thought just one friend was all I needed to help uplift me and give good advice to me, to encourage me when I was feeling low. Then The Lord reminded me of this: "Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." How great is this!? Proverbs is such a wonderful book to read. If you really want to know how to live a good life read the Proverbs. This scripture told me I needed to show myself friendly. I don't believe I was being unfriendly to those who shunned, gossiped and ignored me, although I may have been a little stand offish due to my humiliation and the gossip that surrounded me, but I needed to reintroduce myself and show myself friendly. This scripture also told me God was still there and although brothers/sisters didn't stick by me, He did. He is always there for us. What a comfort it is to know that even in the darkest and loneliest hours we are still not alone if we will seek Him. "John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Jesus said this to the deciples before he was crucified. This scripture told me even though I felt unloved and alone, Jesus loved me with the greatest love possible because He laid His life down for me, to offer redemption and freedom from those sins I had committed. This is something we need to inject into our own hearts and lives. We need to become more like Jesus and have this great love for our friends. So many people call themselves Christians but if we don't truly follow Christ and model ourselves after Him can we really say we are Christians? This kind of love we often see in our militaries but don't think to apply it to ourselves. Soldiers become brothers and love each other with the greatest love, a love that makes them willing to lay down their life for their friends, their brothers, their country. If you think about it, we are all soldiers. Just because our fight is spiritual doesn't mean we don't need to have this kind of love, loyalty and dedication. I certainly want it planted into my heart. "John 15:14-15 You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, 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." After I had repented and came to my senses I was doing what Jesus commanded. According to this scripture if I was doing what He commanded He called me friend. This scripture makes my heart smile. If we obey His commandments we are his friends. What better friend and ally to have than Jesus? His commandment in John 15:12 was simply to love one another as He loves us. Even though many people rejected me, turned their backs on me, gossiped about me and practically shunned me, I still loved them. I still desired good for them and wanted their acceptance. If you understand that people who gossip and can't show themselves friendly are sinning with their judgmental actions and thoughts, then instead of harboring resentment and hate you can find pity in your heart for them. Find time to pray for them because if we as Christians don't line ourselves up to God's word we can't make it into His kingdom. I was the chiefest sinner of them all and found myself praying for their hearts so that they could also possess the Love of Christ. "James 2:23 And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"-and he was called a friend of God." God's word is true and absolute, so if it says that He is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11), meaning that he doesn't favor one of us more than another, if Abraham can become known as "Friend of God" then so can I. This scripture was speaking to my heart. It was telling me that while I'm doing all the right things I still needed to have faith and BELIEVE God was doing things behind the scenes that I couldn't see yet. This scripture was telling me that God can make me known as His friend, a redeemed sinner, a prodigal son come home. If we believe God and live righteously then we too can be known as "Friend of God" instead of being known by our past faults, mistakes and sins. We as humans can easily taint our names and give ourselves bad reputations, but God is a restorer! If we follow after His will and model ourselves by His word, He can give us names and reputations we could never achieve on our own. After God had started to enlighten me that He was my friend and that I wasn't alone, He started to teach me through my trial of isolation and loneliness on how to BE a good friend and how making the right kind of friends would be a blessing to me. He started showing me how I needed to conduct myself in order to truly become a good Christian friend and how important it was to have good Christian friends in return. It's sad but true that the people closest to you can hurt you the most. You care about them and already have established friendships so when you are hurt by a friend or a brother/sister in Christ, it's a deep wound to have and can allow hate, resentment and bitterness to creep inside. This wound can become your demise or your testimony. It'll be your spiritual demise if you allow hate, resentment and bitterness in but it can become your testimony and easily mended if you allow Jesus to intervene. "Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." My grandpa Rev. H.T. Ford used to say "if your gonna roll with the pigs your gonna smell like the pigs, so make sure you choose your friends wisely." This was part of my demise. I started to hang around with friends who were up to no good. How did this happen you ask? It started with simple things, we would laugh at the same jokes and then found other little common interests. I started to hang around with them at work, going to lunch with them, etc. which turned into lunch outside of work and so on. Little by little the bad friends crept in and became who I surrounded myself with. Choose friends that will build you up and become good influences. Become wise by walking with the wise. "Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." This scripture that God led me to is plain and simple, good friends are a necessity. If I was going to become sharp and in tune with God I needed to find some good friends. Lets face it, humans are very social animals and we are a product of our upbringings and surroundings. I was brought up in a Christian home with my grandparents but had friends and family that were awful influences on me when I was a young child. I can't blame all of my wrong doing on them because God gives us the freedom of choice and we can choose to do good or do evil. I've come to a point in my life that I only want to do good from here on out and if I'm going to achieve this goal then I need to hide God's word in my heart, pray fervently and surround myself with good people. "Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." I don't believe this scripture is referring to sibling rivalry but to the loyalty that comes during times of calamity. A true friend loves like a brother/sister. One good example the Bible gives us of this kind of friendship was that of Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18:1). The proverbs scripture alongside the Samuel scripture I referenced to, told me that if I had a true friend to start with that they would have been there the whole time and they would have stuck by me like a flesh brother/sister should. This helped me to understand that the friendships I lost during this trial weren't as healthy as I initially thought which in return helped comfort my broken heart making me aware that God knows who needs to be in my life and who doesn't. This scripture also taught me despite disagreements or any disputes at all, if I'm going to become a good Christian friend I need to remain loving at all times. Hate, jealousy, spite, bitterness is all from the devil and not an attribute of God. I know sometimes it's tough but in order to call yourself a Christian friend you have to obey the scriptures and love at all times. Loving is good for our own hearts as much as it is for those around us. "Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" "Ecclesiastes 4:12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken." There are going to come times when we as Christians are down and out. If we have good Christian friends and prove ourselves as a good Christian friend in return then we will help each other. Iron sharpens iron remember? When we are up we are to help your friends who are down back up by encourage them and guiding them with good sound advice, prayer and scriptures. There is strength in numbers! I'm not saying you need to have tons of friends, but a few God ordained friends are absolutely necessary. Yes God showed me that He was my friend, but after He comforted me with that knowledge He then started to guide me into knowledge of the necessity of good Christian friends. "Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;" These scriptures pointed out to me how good friends can be a blessing. I want blessings, you want blessings, so we cannot have wicked people as friends. Wicked people are who? They are the sinners, the liars, the thieves, the adulterers, the gossipers, the drunkards, etc. I'm not saying don't be friendly to them because Jesus Himself loves them just as much as He loves us so be sure to show yourself friendly, just don't be conformed to their ways. Be a light, show them God through you and they will desire what you have and possibly conform to the ways of God. Once I grasped ahold of the idea that I wasn't really alone, and how to become a good Christian friend, God started to point out to me what others were doing wrong in order to continue to teach me how to become a good Christian friend. Of course my sin caused others to point fingers at me and tell everyone they knew what I had done. If I hadn't done those things there wouldn't be anything to gossip about BUT that's not how God want's us to react. If anything, this trial has not only taught me to keep sin far from me and to hide God's word in my heart, but it has also taught me how to react if I see a brother/sister or friend caught up in sin or making mistakes. We are here to help people find salvation, not to condemn, finger point and gossip. This is another area where we need to refine ourselves to become more like Jesus. He has authority to judge and condemn but yet tells us to arise, go and sin no more, your sins be forgiven. We don't have authority to judge or condemn so who are we to do it? If Christ himself forgives, who are we to not? "Psalm 55:12-14 For it is not an enemy who taunts me- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me- then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng." Almost nothing hurts worse than a friend coming against you. The people who are closest to you can hurt you the most and when you are hurt it's hard to become restored unless you allow God to intervene. How can God intervene if you don't know He is there for you and don't see Him through fellow Christians? Luckily I reached an intervention from God through prayer and fasting but only because I knew to do it. Some so-called Christians probably didn't even know they were doing wrong by shunning, gossiping and finger-pointing. That's why it's important for us to read the word of God and see what it says about every aspect of life. A person who is down can only see negative and usually see's no way out. Don't hold grudges and don't do evil or speak evil of your brothers/sisters in Christ or your natural ones either, have the heart of Christ which forgives and loves always. "1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." This is some heavy stuff! If you see a need, MEET IT! This scripture can be applied to both spiritual and monetary needs. Does someone need milk or a warm coat? Or, maybe they need some comforting words and some encouragement? According to the Word of God if you don't provide what is needed you are worse than an unbeliever! Be generous, ask God for a spirit of giving to be applied to your heart and for your eyes to be opened to the needs around you. We can't meet needs if we don't see them. 1 Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; "Psalm 133:1 A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" "Matthew 18:15-20 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." God doesn't like discord, we aren't supposed to be angry and argue with each other. We are supposed to pray and worship together. God desires unity among His children. He doesn't work among discord. We are human, we all think and react differently so it's easy to get the wrong idea of what someone means and it's easy to get offended. Most of the time the person who offended you did it in ignorance and has no idea they offended you. Make peace, in a gentle manner tell your friend they offended you. If that doesn't work you may need to seek the counsel of the Pastor to act as a mediator. If both parties have the love of Christ in them, issues can be resolved and there can be unity once again. God is great like that, He can melt away pain and discord by turning it into love and peace. "Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." When our friends and family are in sorrow we should all feel the need, having compassion for them and uplifting them. Then when they pass through that valley we should all feel relief and rejoice with them. Pray for a sensitive heart. Ask God to help you feel the needs of those around you. Ask God to help you to be an intercessor so the spirit can use you to intercede for those people. "Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." "Matthew 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." "Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' " Love is very powerful. I could rattle off a bunch of scriptures to back up that statement but instead I'll allow you to research Love on your own. Being kind to people and having patience with them is vital. What we do unto others we do unto God. We come across people on a daily basis that are hateful and rude, but did you ever stop and think that something made them that way. We don't know what storms other people are going through. That is why showing love, patients and kindness at all times is vital. Maybe the panhandler on the street is being obnoxious, or maybe your waitress is rude or not attentive to you. We don't know why people act the way they do or how they got into the situations they are in. Thank God that it's not you and try to be a light. Give them encouragement. Remember to forgive, pray for a forgiving heart if it's hard for you to let things go. Forgiveness goes hand in hand with love. If we say we have the love of Christ in us and are followers of Him, forgiveness is part of it all. He died on that cross so that our sins would be forgiven. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for the wickedness in man. Lets not think ourselves higher than Jesus who sacrificed His own self and lovingly forgives. "1 John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. "1John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." Yep! Hate is wicked as murder to God. You can't make it into the kingdom of God if you hate anyone. Ask God to remove known hates and even unknown hates that may be buried deep down inside. Sometimes hate seems justified because of horrendous acts people have done to us. Although it may seem justified, hate is still poison to our minds and our souls. Hatred is a deep rooted seed and needs to be completely removed from our hearts and even our vocabulary! The only things we should hate are the things that God hates and the Bible plainly tells us what those things are (Proverbs 6:16-19). I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a murderer nor do I want hate harboring in my heart. Hate is a disease that spreads and nestles deep within. Having God eliminate hate from your heart will be a life altering experience you will never forget. Ask and it shall be given. There are so many more scriptures and thoughts that God led me to throughout this study that I could probably write a book on the subject. As you can clearly see the Bible covers friendship frontwards and backwards. If you are like I was, starving for friendship, feeling lonely or deserted, know you have a friend who is closer than a brother and that friend is Jesus Christ. Once you establish your friendship with Him, He will lead you to all kinds of healthy Christian friendships. Since finding myself, coming to repentance and discovering that I am never alone, The Lord has given me friends who are like family, friends who I also believe because of the love of Christ in their hearts, would lay down their life for me just as I would for them. If you are reading this and have many friends, still take heed to what is shown here. Are they good Christian friendships? Do they feed your spirit and stick by your side? Do they lift you up when you are down? If not maybe you should pray for some that will fulfill the acts of a true Christian friend. I would also like for you to take these scriptures to your own heart and apply it to yourself. Are you a good Christian friend? Do you partake in gossip about other peoples sin or demise? Do you show love and guideance in the times of calamity? It's imperative that we earnestly pray for the Love of Christ in our own hearts. Pray that you can see others as Christ sees them and love others as he loves them. Restore the fallen and have compassion for the lost. God bless you and thanks for reading. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/8298419

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