The Greatest Friendships

 2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

We all have great walls that surround us – great walls of doubt. It is time to tear down these walls.What better time to tear down as we begin the new year.  What better time to reach out to others also as this new year is about to begin.

As Paul and I watched our favorite football team, it seemed like a losing cause, and I began to work on another project. I had a wall of doubt that this team could pull it off. I had given up. Well, low and behold with just a few minutes left, they tied the game. “ Oh, ye of little faith,” Paul said.
How often we let our walls, our fears, our doubts influence our walk, our faith, our trust in our selves and our friends.  And how often do we feel like we, alone, are facing these overwhelming obstacles. Remember in

1 Peter 4:12] Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Do you remember the old story of Androcles and the Lion. In this story, a thorn was pulled from the lion’s paw. You see, Androcles was a slave. He had escaped his taskmaster and had run to find freedom. He hid in a cave. While in there, he heard a noise. He turned around and saw he was being approached by a lion. He thought, “This is worse than what I escaped from.” He just knew he was going to be eaten; that he had come to the end of the line.

He cowered back to the back part of the cave, and the lion growled. Then he noticed a tear coming out of the lion’s eye, and the lion stuck out his paw. His paw was all swollen. In the middle of his paw was a thorn. Androcles withdrew the thorn carefully from the lion’s paw, and the lion smiled. The lion licked his face and then retreated. Androcles said, “Whew! I’m glad that’s over!” – or something to that effect.

Three years later in Rome, Androcles had become a Christian. Roman persecutors seized him and ordered Androcles to renounce his faith. He did not. They told Androcles they were going to throw him into the lions arena. Guess which lion he faced? The lion he had helped three years earlier. When the lion saw Androcles, he came out and instead of eating Androcles, he licked his face. Androcles was not put to death but was released because the Romans thought he was a person of high magic. He was . . . and so are we.
2 Peter 3:17
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.

How many lions have you befriended on your pathway of life? How many thorns have you withdrawn from or plucked out of swollen paws? Are you aware that someday you are going to be thrown into the arena?  Once the walls are broken down and we allow our faith, as did Androcles, rule, we will have that “high magic.

We all, at various times, are thrown into an arena. Do you know what saves us as well as our faith?  It is those times when we have helped others; the times they have been at their worst and we have been at our best; the times we have helped them, doing what they could not. We are saved in that moment. Possibly some time ago you have befriended somebody. They see you and your life changes because of it.
1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.e lawless and fall from your secure position.

It is the power of the Bible; it is the power of Christianity; it is the power that shares your power of what you can do. You are going to be saved each and every time.  Remember this song by James Taylor?  I often think of it while going through troubling times or as I reach out to someone else.  Yes, this is Christianity at its best.

When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest nights.
If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, you’ve got a friend.

We have always been told that a seed will create a tree and many seeds will a forest make. One drop of water repeated over and over turns a puddle into a stream and a stream into a river that flows into the ocean to revitalize the sea. One step (one seed, one drop) at a time is the way we make our journey of life. As we think of what lies ahead, we can find relief from tension as we realize we are not called upon to live a whole year in one day nor are we expected to take the journey alone.. Our highest aspirations are reached one step at a time, one person (at least) at a time helping us. We must always remember that –
Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

That is the human part of this story. You know that’s important. You are not in this to be an individual. We are in this life to be spiritually interdependent. You know this is true with us. I need you. I admit it. I love being with you and I love sharing with you – even though many of us have never met in person.
So, as we walk the path of life, we reach out, not only for God to be with us always, but also for others on a similar journey. We look for those who we can walk beside, who we can help when it is needed and who can help us when we call out. We must always remember that we are not an island. We are interdependent on our community, our friends, our fellow believers, most importantly, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ leading the way..
Psalm 142:3
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.
Psalm 138:7
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.

So let us always remember the gift. God gave us a gift that we can cherish and keep with us always. It is the gift of His Son. Our friends are here to walk the path with us, to share, to support, to love. But the greatest of these friends is our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
With Him we are never alone, even if our physical human friends are no where to be found, He is there.

 
When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At he end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.
(Rogers and Hammerstein)

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