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Week Four Sermon

"You Can Pick Your Friends . . ."

The final message in a four week series leading up to Friendship Sunday. Regular text is message content; indent text indicates illustration. Be sure to obtain proper licensing before showing movie clips. 

Sat with our staff and asked them, “What can I base my message on for Friendship Sunday?” 
Dave on our Youth Staff, without missing a beat
“You can pick your friends . . . You can pick your nose . . . But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” (PPT slide)

I came up with a text that’s a lot better: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

“You Can Pick Your Friends . . .”

Email that came out not too long ago: asked readers to reflect on the following questions: 
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 
2. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest. 
3. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. 
4. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. 
5. Name the last 10 World Series winners.
Then as we sit and realize that we don’t know the answers to these questions, another set of questions are asked: 
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. 
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. 
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile. 
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special. 
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
The point is: “The people who make a difference in your lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.”

Why are Friends so important to us?
In just a minute, I’m going to ask you for your input – here are 4 of mine

  • Companionship
  • Shoulders
  • Sounding board
  • Fun
Leslie Parrot has this to say about friendship from the book Relationships:
Friends make the ordinary--running errands or eating lunch, for example--extraordinarily fun. Good friends ease our pain and lighten our heavy load….Not only are friends good for the soul but for the body as well. Friends help us ward off depression, boost our immune system, lower our cholesterol, increase the odds of surviving with coronary disease, and keep stress hormones in check. A half dozen top medical studies now bear this out. The thing that mattered most was friends. What’s more, research is showing that you can extend your life expectancy by having the right kind of friends.

•  “What do you think?” – Why are friends important to you?

Field answers from the congregation

Take a moment and poke yourself in the bellybutton (I’d tell you to poke your neighbor, but that might get us into trouble!) Our navel is a constant reminder that we all started life connected to another human being. We spend all of our lives trying to get reconnected to someone. God created us as relational people.

The question is: How well are you doing in your friendships? 

There’s a big difference between Acquaintances and Friend

Acquaintance = someone I know

Greg Slayton, a CEO in Silicon Valley, says that in the busy world in which he lives, he is exhausted by the frenetic pace. Here’s how he describes where it has left him in relationship with others: "The sense of isolation is a curse. It is the curse of 10,000 acquaintances. You find no one to talk to when things go really bad."

Friendship = when two people bring out all their baggage and it’s “OK.”

Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life, “I have been at the bedside of many people in their final moments, when they stand on the edge of eternity, and I have never heard anyone say, “Bring me my diplomas! I want to look at them one more time. Show me my awards, my medals, that gold watch I was given.” When life on earth is ending, people don’t surround themselves with objects. What we want around us is people – people we love and have relationships with.”

In our final moments we all realize that relationships are what life is all about. Wisdom is learning that truth sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to figure out that nothing matters more.

When No One is Looking, We know . . .

• We aren’t as perfect as we pretend - 

Relationships aren’t always great – sometimes we even abuse them!

Three mischievous boys went to the zoo one day for an outing. They decided to visit the elephant cage, but soon enough, they were picked up by a cop for causing a commotion with the elephant. The officer hauled them off to security for questioning. The supervisor in charge asked them to give their names and tell what they were doing at the elephant cage.
The first boy innocently said, "My name is Gary, and I was just throwing peanuts into the elephant cage." The second added, "My name is Larry, and all I was doing was throwing peanuts into the elephant cage." The third boy was a little shaken up and said, "Well, my name is Peter, but my friends call me Peanuts."

• Sometimes the hurt is deep – we live with disappointments

• Loneliness is real, even in a crowd – when we lay our heads down at night - what’s going on inside?

• Friends can’t always fix our issues – they’re in the same boat

Sometimes they don’t pick us up, sometimes they pull us down.

Like these 3 characters: Everett, Delmar, and Pete from the movie: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

IN: 4:45 Everett, Delmar and Pete, 3 escaped cons who are chained together, run across the field heading for a train boxcar.
OUT: 5:30 Pete trips and falls dragging his buddies out of the boxcar and into the dirt. They have a conversation after they stand up – cut when the middle guy says, “Ok, I’m with you fellas.”
Warning: This video clip contains a couple of words that might be inappropriate for your setting.

Why were you invited to Friendship Sunday?

Because we, your friends, have discovered a friendship that always works – and they want you to know.

They have come to know Jesus Christ as their friend.

God’s Friendship Option – It Always Works

It’s not a friendship that you initiate.

• You can’t pick this friend – He chose you

"You didn’t choose me, remember, I chose you."  John 15:15

You can’t earn your way into this friendship.
You can’t try to convince your way into this friendship.
God wants you to be His friend – because He loves you!

• He provided a way for you to be his friend – the Cross

Here’s what the Bible says: 
God’s move to make you His friend was an act of love.
There was a barrier to this friendship – failure – God calls that sin.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Let me try to diagram this for you: (SLIDE)

"God is one side and all people are on the other side, and Christ Jesus is between them to bring them together, by giving His life all mankind." 1 Timothy 2:5 (L B)

The cross – sacrifice – substitute – forgiveness – Resurrection – a future

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."   John 3:16

J. L. Packard: There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me. There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellowmen do not see, and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself. There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.

• Jesus won’t go away – you can count on Him

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."   Hebrews 13:5

"I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left – feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught."   John 14:27 (Message)

Now, how does all this play out in real life?

Jesus’ friends have:

  • Hope – never alone – eternal lif
  • Acceptance – regardless of how badly you’ve messed up before
  • Value – God loves me enough for this to happen to me
  • Purpose – Meaning for life – created to be in this relationship

Jesus sets us up with real relationships – real friends

Jesus’ Friends Hang out Together – The Church

• Community

Larry Crabb writes, “A central task of community is to create a place that is safe enough for the walls to be torn down, safe enough for each of us to reveal our brokenness” (Larry Crabb, The Safest Place on Earth, p. 11).

• A place to be real

• A place where you matter and where others matter to you

Testimony by Congregational Member
Theme of testimony: “How knowing Jesus and being part of this church has changed my life.”

Receive Jesus’ invitation to become His friend!

  • Pray right now – salvation and friends.
  • After you say, “Amen” ask, “What next?” 

I’ve got just the thing for you: It’s called Baby steps.

IN: 11:45 Bob says, “You can help me.”
OUT: As Bob walks out the door the first time – fade before he starts walking around the room

"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9

What Next – What Baby Steps?

• Tell the person who brought you

• Introduce yourself to me – tell me – FILL OUT THE WELCOME CARD

• Get your free Bible – read it

• Come back

• Join me Thursday night for “Talk,” 7pm

• LIFE Groups

• Go get a cup of coffee – make some new friends