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Posts Tagged ‘Friend’

Scripture: His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend. Song of Songs 5:16 (NASB)

Observation: “Why is he better than others? I’m glad you asked!” The Shulamite’s friends asked what was so special about Solomon that she would want so badly to find him (5:9). She responded with lavish words of praise that form a counterpart to Solomon’s praise of her (5:10–16; see 4:1–15).

Application: There are several things that call my attention in this passage.

1. She verbalizes her admiration of her beloved. Willard Harley, Christian psychologist and author of books such as His Needs, Her Needs, and Love Busters, writes that one of the most important emotional needs for most men is admiration. He needs to know that his wife admires him and affirms him, that she is his biggest cheerleader, that she expresses appreciation for what he is and what he does. To wives we tell them, make an ongoing list of the things that your husband does and tell him how much you appreciate him for each and every one of them. Don’t take him for granted, and don’t assume that what he does, even the smallest of actions, is what he’s supposed to do and therefore does not deserve to be told a thank you for them.

2. Good hygiene is important for romance. Smelly, sweaty, duty bodies don’t encourage romance. Bad breath does not invite loving, passionate kissing. To husbands in particular we encourage you to maintain good hygiene by shaving, taking showers daily and after strenuous exercise or manual labor, by wearing deodorant, by brushing his teeth after eating and going to the dentist for regular cleaning.

3. Passion and desire should be reserved for your spouse. Because men tend to be more visual than women, they find their wives desirable as they look at them – the way they dress and fix their hair, the way their bodies look, the way they walk and their demeanor toward them. For women, they find their husbands desirable when they initiate worship with her and with the family, when he is kind and polite, when he listens attentively to them, when they make time to spend wit their wives. It is not things, money, riches that we as husbands and wives desire as much as loving actions and words from our spouse.

4. Friendship is vital for a good marriage. Someone said that you should marry your best friend. Whether you can marry your best friend or not, you can cultivate such a relationship with your spouse so that he/she will become your best friend. What that means is that he/she will be your confidant, the person you will trust with anything and everything you have and you know, that there will not be any secrets between you and that you will not be afraid to express your feelings to him/her.

Enjoy every day the love and friendship from your spouse, and make sure you make every day a positive experience for them. . . it will pay great dividends for your relationship and for your family.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, thank You for giving me my best friend to live with me as my spouse. Help me to be his/her best friend too.

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Scripture: Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NKJV)

Observation: This is Paul’s rule for social relations or how we should live with and toward others because it is what is expedient and what builds us and others up. This principle is presented in several places in the Bible, only worded slightly differently:
– Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)
– Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. Romans 15:2 (NKJV)
– Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)
– Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 (NKJV)

Application: How different would our relationships be if we followed this principle. The great majority of the problems we have with others stem from the innate desire for supremacy, for power, for control. When couples come to me for counseling because they are dealing with financial difficulties, as we talk we discover that one or both want to be the ones that control the family finances. When it comes to the discipline of the children, one or the other parent feels like they need to have control of the children and power over what the spouse says. Even in the bedroom couples struggle for control – who initiates, how often it is done, how it should be done. Many women instinctively know how important sexual relationships are to a man and use intimacy as a way to control, and at times punish, their husband.
If we followed the Bible’s principles and instead of seeking what we want we worked toward building the other person up, how would that change our relationship? Not only would we be helping them; in reality, our attitude toward them and toward our relationship would also become more positive which would mean we would benefit ourselves.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, Your order of things is always best for us. Help us to seek what is best for others so that we in turn would be benefitted by our attitudes, actions, and feelings.

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Jesus Loved Them

Scripture: Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. John 11:5 (NKJV)

Observation: Jesus was told that Lazarus, His friend, was sick. In order to make a connection as to who this Lazarus is, John writes that he is the brother of Mary, the woman that anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair. As we trace her history back, this evidently was the same woman that was caught in adultery and was brought to Jesus as they were about to stone her – not that they cared about her or what she did, but rather in order to catch Jesus and accuse Him.
Evidently the home of Lazarus and his two sisters, mary and Martha, was a place of refuge for Jesus and His disciples. Ellen White writes, “Jesus had often found the rest that His weary human nature required at the house of Lazarus, in Bethany. His first visit there was when He and His disciples were weary from a toilsome journey on foot from Jericho to Jerusalem. They tarried as guests at the quiet home of Lazarus, and were ministered unto by his sisters, Martha and Mary”(Daughters of God 57).
Now, the place that had offered Jesus and His disciples some respite from their hectic life, had become a place of sorrow and sadness at the passing of Lazarus.

Application: We can draw many lessons from this precious story. We could talk about the foretaste of the resurrection day, when Jesus returns, and how families will be reunited with their loved ones. We could talk about Jesus sympathy, not just empathy, for these two sisters – He didn’t simply feel for them, He felt with them, that is, He Himself felt the pain they felt. . . and He cried (vs.35). We could talk about the hardness of the hearts of those Jewish leaders who, in spite of being witnesses to the most powerful of all of Jesus’ miracles, refused to believe in Him and instead went out to plot how to destroy Him.
But today, I want us to focus on the words of our text, “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary and Lazarus.” Evidently they knew and felt that love, so that when Lazarus became ill they didn’t hesitate to call on Jesus for help. It is also evident that they loved Him and were delighted to have Him and His disciples visit anytime. Their response to Jesus’ love was at least partly the natural response to His forgiveness and delivery from prostitution, and demon possession, of Mary. She went out of her way to demonstrate her gratitude to Him by purchasing the most expensive perfume to anoint Him. The tears with which she washed His feet, at a later time, demonstrate her added love and appreciation for bringing her brother, and probably sole support of the family, back to life.
At the same time, the fact that Jesus loved them does not mean that death would not visit them, that sorrow and hardship would never knock on their door, that pain and suffering would be absent from their lives. And this, I think, is one of the most important lessons from this story. No matter who we are, we will be touched with pain, suffering, sickness, and even death, at some point during our lives – after all, none of us is immortal yet. The fact that any of these things happen is not proof that God doesn’t love us. On the contrary, what this story teaches us is that Jesus loves us before, in the midst, and after we experience pain and sorrow, and even death. It was the knowledge of that love that encouraged Mary and Martha even as their hearts were breaking. We, too, can bask in His love for us even while our minds worry and our hearts break!
Prayer: Dear Father, thank You for surrounding us with Your love even during those times when we have a hard time seeing You and when the tears covering our eyes feel as if they are about to drown our hearts. Halp us to feel that love when we feel so lonely, helpless, and hopeless.

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No Doubt

Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. You can do much to brighten the life of others and strengthen their efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer.  {SC 119}

Our words have tremendous power to discourage or encourage others, to create doubt or hope, to bring sadness or joy.  We may think we’re venting our souls to friends and thus unloading our burdens before those we love and trust, but we may be inadvertently placing a burden on them which could weigh them down, if not crush them.

I think there is a time to speak with others, however, and that’s when we grieve and have sorrow as a result of a loss or pain.  During an illness, following the loss of a loved one, or during a time of crisis, it is important that we not bottle inside us the feelings we have but that we share them with a trusted friend or loved one.  Above all, we can unload our burden in prayer to God.  Ellen White, in the same paragraph quoted above, writes, “All have trials; griefs hard to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer.”  Our God has bigger shoulders than any and all our friends or loved ones, and He’s not weighed down or bothered with our pain or sorrow.  But I also understand that sometimes the human touch is a wonderful healing balm for those whose soul is parched due to pain and grief.  Talk your pain and grief out, first of all with God, and then with a trusted friend or loved one, but be careful not to place on them a burden that will cause them to be weighed down, to stumble, or to fall.

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Scripture: (1 Sam 20:41-42 NKJV)  As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. {42} Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’ ” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

Observation: The friendship between David and Jonathan is among the best known in history.  Jonathan was willing to receive the wrath of his own father and maybe even be vanished from his presence to protect his best friend David, and at the end he found the way to help David flee so he would not be killed by his father, King Saul.

Application: There is another story of antiquity that has become a classic illustration of true friendship, it’s the story of Damon and Pythias:
THERE lived in those days in Syracuse two young men called Damon and Pythias. They were very good friends, and loved each other so dearly that they were hardly ever seen apart.  Now it happened that Pythias in some way roused the anger of the tyrant, who put him in prison, and condemned him to die in a few days. When Damon heard of it, he was in despair, and vainly tried to obtain his friend’s pardon and release.
The mother of Pythias was very old, and lived far away from Syracuse with her daughter. When the young man heard that he was to die, he was tormented by the thought of leaving the women alone. In an interview with his friend Damon, Pythias regretfully said that he would die easier had he only been able to bid his mother good-by and find a protector for his sister.  Damon, anxious to gratify his friend’s last wish, went into the presence of the tyrant, and proposed to take the place of Pythias in prison, and even on the cross, if need be, provided the latter were allowed to visit his relatives once more.
Dionysius had heard of the young men’s touching friendship, and hated them both merely because they were good; yet he allowed them to change places, warning them both however, that, if Pythias were not back in time, Damon would have to die in his stead.  At first Pythias refused to allow his friend to take his place in prison, but finally he consented, promising to be back in a few days to release him. So Pythias hastened home, found a husband for his sister, and saw her safely married. Then after providing for his mother and bidding her farewell, he set out to return to Syracuse.
The young man was traveling alone and on foot. He soon fell into the hands of thieves, who bound him fast to a tree; and it was only after hours of desperate struggling that he managed to wrench himself free once more, and sped along his way.  He was running as hard as he could to make up for lost time, when he came to the edge of a stream. He had crossed it easily a few days before; but a sudden spring freshet had changed it into a raging torrent, which no one else would have ventured to enter.  In spite of the danger, Pythias plunged into the water, and, nerved by the fear that his friend would die in his stead, he fought the waves so successfully that he reached the other side safe but almost exhausted.
Regardless of his pains, Pythias pressed anxiously onward, although his road now lay across a plain, where the hot rays of the sun and the burning sands greatly increased his fatigue and faintness, and almost made him die of thirst. Still he sped onward as fast as his trembling limbs could carry him; for the sun was sinking fast, and he knew that his friend would die if he were not in Syracuse by sunset.
Dionysius, in the mean while, had been amusing himself by taunting Damon, constantly telling him that he was a fool to have risked his life for a friend, however dear. To anger him, he also insisted that Pythias was only too glad to escape death, and would be very careful not to return in time.  Damon, who knew the goodness and affection of his friend, received these remarks with the scorn they deserved, and repeated again and again that he knew Pythias would never break his word, but would be back in time, unless hindered in some unforeseen way.
The last hour came. The guards led Damon to the place of crucifixion, where he again asserted his faith in his friend, adding, however, that he sincerely hoped Pythias would come too late, so that he might die in his stead.
Just as the guards were about to nail Damon to the cross, Pythias dashed up, pale, bloodstained, and disheveled, and flung his arms around his friend’s neck with a sob of relief. For the first time, Damon now turned pale, and began to shed tears of bitter regret.  In a few hurried, panting words, Pythias explained the cause of his delay, and, loosing his friend’s bonds with his own hands, bade the guards bind him instead.
Dionysius, who had come to see the execution, was so touched by this true friendship, that for once he forgot his cruelty, and let both young men go free, saying that he would not have believed such devotion possible had he not seen it with his own eyes.

I have been blessed to have such a friend.  We have shared our friendship for nearly forty years, in two countries, through sad painful events like the death of my and her father, to joyful events like my wedding to Pam and her wedding to her husband to the birth of our two and her two daughters, to the wedding of one of her daughters, which I had the joy to perform almost two years ago.  Together our families have spent good times together, we have had many phone conversations to share in our successes or to cry over our distresses.  As a typical introvert that I am, my true friends are very few, but very faithful.  Acquaintances we may have many, but true friends are few, and very special.  Treasure your friends, cultivate that friendship, nurture it through time and effort.

Prayer: Father, thank You for my friend.  Bless her, her husband, her daughters.  Keep them in your loving arms, protect them, and give them good health that we may continue to enjoy our friendship for many years to come.

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