Thursday, September 28, 2017

Friendship Betrayed - Series on Friendshp

"It is not an enemy who taunts me - I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me - I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you - my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together in the house of God." Psalm 55:12-14 NLT

David's psalm laments his personal betrayal by a close friend, someone he trusts, someone with whom he shares his faith. The greatest wounds inflicted are not usually from an adversary but from the betrayal of a close companion. Within personal relationships, when disloyalty reaches deep and undermines trust, pain sits with disbelief. Deception is an intimate violation.

Betrayal can threaten to sway political powers for personal gain. For example, the Jewish leaders taunt Pilate, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar," suggesting that convicting Jesus of a crime and sentencing Him to death would prove Pilate more popular with Caesar. In the continued betrayal of Jesus and with great hypocrisy, the chief priests even declare that Caesar is their only king! Duplicity creates confusion and conflict.

When injustice is exposed, self-righteousness and guilt meet. Jesus endures the slander of those who deny His truth mocking Him as a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Jesus tells those who choose to believe and follow Him, they,too, will know betrayal from family and friends and even death. Jesus experiences the betrayal by one of His own disciples. Unfaithfulness joins rebellion, and friendship is betrayed with a kiss.

Scripture tells us that having a friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God. The world has no loyalty and will always betray us with false security and corrupt truth. In desperation, we firmly position our hopes while holding buckets of excuses and juggling platters of expectations. Jesus waits for us. Jesus chooses us. Jesus calls us. There is no deception or duplicity in Jesus. Simply come to Jesus as a sinner and become a friend of God~dho

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sacrifice for Friendship ~ Series on Friendship

With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name. Hebrews 13:15 NLT

Frequently sacrifice is mentioned in the Old Testament, usually relating to offerings at the Temple for atonement and thanksgiving. As Jews around the world soon prepare to celebrate Yom Kippur (September 29-30, 2017), the most holy of the Jewish holy days, they fast and pray while reflecting upon past sins and seeking forgiveness. Celebrating this Day of Atonement reminds them of God's faithful provision and redemption for His chosen people. 

For Christians, we understand this OT teaching to foreshadow Christ, the Messiah, who becomes our sacrifice, our atonement for sin. Through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus - God's Perfect Lamb - God's greatest offering - we can be spiritually reconciled to God; God redeems us through the sacrifice of Christ and invites us into a personal relationship with Christ.

Scripture uses the Greek word thysia which relates to "the offering of a sacrifice" such as in the Jewish Temple, but it extends to "other kinds of Christian offerings, such as a 'sacrifice of praise'".(1) This kind of sacrifice is offered with attitudes of thanksgiving and gratitude, through acts of kindness and service; it is a reflection of the heart's generosity in relationship to God. Sacrifice of praise defines the depth of our friendship with the Lord. 

Just as the animals sacrificed on the Day of Atonement in the OT were to be burned outside the camp, so Jesus had to be crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem. We too are called to step outside, to live above the world's standards. Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. . .So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. [2 Peter 1:3-7 The Message] Our daily response to this Holy Friendship should be to proclaim God's Divine Love with sacrifices of praise. ~ dho

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Faithful Friendship - Series on Friendship

"No one has greater love [no one shows stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends." John 15:13 AMP

Among the ancient Greeks, according to Biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson, "friendship was among the most discussed, analyzed, and highly esteemed relationships." In many Greco-Roman stories, dying for the sake of friendship speaks to strong moral character, heroic but rare. Jesus tells His circle of friends how much He loves them and with the cross, proves that amazing love. Even in suffering, Jesus remains faithful.

Examples of God's faithfulness can be seen throughout the Bible. In 2 Timothy 2:13 Scripture reminds that even in our unfaithfulness, God is faithful. When Jesus says, "but I have called you friends," He is sharing more than heartfelt emotions. Jesus reveals His relationship with God the Father and shares this deep intimacy with His chosen friends. This intimate friendship between God and a few fishermen in Galilee over 2,000 years ago remains the model for Christians today. A rare, faithful Friend, Jesus demonstrates the greatest love, the strongest affection for every person with His willingness to endure the cross. This holy gift of faithful friendship is designed to be shared with others. ~ dho

Thursday, September 07, 2017

An Unlikely Friendship ~ Series on Friendship

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double minded. James 4:8 NASB 

In the book entitled Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer Holland, writer for National Geographic magazine, there are nearly 50 stories of animals who become unlikely friends. From an African elephant and a sheep to the owlet and a greyhound, accounts of varied animal species demonstrating unexpected compassion and friendship spill across the pages, not to mention beautiful photography. One story included of a baby hippo and a 130 year old tortoise made the rounds on Facebook a few years ago! They actually have their own book, Owen and Mzee, A True Story of a Remarkable Friendship. In her observations, Barbara King, animal behaviorist, describes Owen's and Mzee's mutual communication as sophisticated, "It's a dynamic dance between two species with no present program on how to deal with each other. And it can't just be instinct, because one was shaping its behavior to the other."

That a Holy God would choose to have a relationship with me, a broken sinner, simply boggles my imagination. This Amazing Grace pours over the dark and ugly parts of my nature making me a new creation in Him. Christ wraps me in a robe of righteousness inviting me to sit at His Table. Jesus says, "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love." Responding, I confess my inability to be good or to love apart from Christ. A spiritual dance begins between ancient holiness and growing faith. My heart desires to be more like Christ; His love teaching me to love completely, His grace influencing me to live abundantly. The Savior and a sinner ~ this is truly an unlikely friendshipone shaping its behavior to the other. dho

My heart desires to be more like Christ; His love teaching me to love completely, His grace influencing me to live abundantly. ~Donna Oswalt