Fast Wednesdays: November 16, 2016 — Friendships: Let us Exhibit Radical Love and Hospitality in/to Them

Greetings Beloved:

Whatever side you were on during our election last week, we all now see how polarized our country has become … Hillary Clinton is now over in the popular vote by 1M votes and still counting as they predict it could top 2M. Donald Trump, thanks to our electoral college, is our President elect.

As my friend, Mrs. Gwendolyn Jordan use to tell me and others when something happened, suck it up or “get over it!” I love that woman because she always keeps it real. More empathetic ways of stating it would be something like don’t cry over split milk or things will get better by and by and so on. Let us fast and pray together for God’s reconciling love to tear down the walls that divide us. Let’s remember that we are all humans and we need each other so get on with life. I have been thinking about all you, my friends over the past week in prayer. This song is for y’all.

SONG:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CQEZeCBFjE

The following message comes from a book called “Power Prayers for Women” by Jackie M. Johnson, which my newest friend at IBM gave me before I left.

“My Friends – The Power of Connection”

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”

What would we do without friends? They encourage and inspire us. They listen as if they really care – because they do. Good friends seek to understand and empathize with us. Even when they can’t relate, they care about us anyway.

Friends are fun! We enjoy being around them. When we can talk, laugh, pray, and play with someone we trust, we have found a real treasure. We give and receive, we love and we learn, Above all, in friendship, we seek what is best for each other. No matter what our age or life stage, we never outgrow our need for connection, for having and being a good friend.

Loving with words and actions is a hallmark of true friendship. I remember once being stressed for weeks about an important deadline at work. The project weighed heavily on me, so I had been living on snacks instead of using my precious time to grocery shop. On top of it all, I was beginning to feel a sore throat coming on. When my friend Maria learned I was getting ill, she promptly came with four bags of groceries from the health food store – and prayed for me to stay well. I was astonished at her thoughtful generosity. And I soon began to feel better.

Like snowflakes, no two friendships are the same; each brings a unique beauty and joy to our lives. We have acquaintances, casual friends, close friends, and “heart” friends, that handful of women with whom we share our deepest selves. Jesus had different circles of friends, too. He ministered to the crowds, He spent significant time with the twelve disciples, and He was closest to three men: Peter, James and John. He was companion to tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:15-17), as well as to His dearly loved friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:20-32).

Today each of us can have the joy of knowing Jesus as our friend (John 15:15). In the quiet solitude of prayer, we can pour out our deepest fears and desires. We can take pleasure in enjoying God – in just being in His company. “Fellowship with him [Jesus] is a matter of priorities and a matter of choice,” says Ken Gire in Intimate Moments with the Savior. “It’s the better part of the meal life has to offer. It is, in fact, the main course.”

When we fellowship with God in prayer, we can then pray powerfully for our earthly friends. We can pray for them and with them in Jesus’ name.

That’s perhaps one of the best ways we can show a friend we care. Maybe someone we know is going through a separation or divorce and could use a phone call. Perhaps a new neighbor, a recent widow, or a new mom may need the unexpected blessing of friendly kindness. Maybe we should stop to thank God for the wonderful women in our lives – those women who’ve given us the gift of friendship – and ask Him how we can be a better friend to others.

PRAYER:

Thank you for My Friendships – Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Lord, I thank You for my wonderful friends! As I think about the treasure chest of my close friends, casual friends, and acquaintances, I am grateful for the blessings and the joys each one brings to my life. Thank You for my “heart” friends, my loyal sister friends who listen, care, and encourage me. (Thank You for my sister cousins and other family friends who were some of the first friends I ever had in life and the daughter, step daughters, god daughters, aunts, nieces and cousins whom I now try to mentor and present myself as a good, Godly role model)! They are my faithful companions. I acknowledge that You, Lord, are the giver of all good gifts, and I thank You for Your provision in my friendships. Amen.

On October 3, 2012 – my friend and little sister in Christ, Shylethia Williams, shared some thoughts on FRIENDSHIP for Fast Wednesdays. Today, I am going back in my archives and sharing them again. Since that time, I have lost some very good friends due to physical death and due to changes in life. However, lets remember, The ultimate friend is Jesus. One who broke every rule in the dominant culture at the time. Here’s a scripture: John 13:1-17The Message (MSG) Washing His Disciples’ Feet

13 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal. 3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” 10-12 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. 12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

FRIENDSHIP

Debra called me when I was doing my daily reading and normally I do not answer the phone but knew if she was calling me it was for a reason.  When she asked me if I thought about doing the blog for Fast  Wednesday I really had not as I had so much going on, but I knew if my FRIEND needed me I must sacrifice because I know she would for me.  Then the Lord spoke and said this is the topic, the same topic I was reading about I was to write on.  So here I am sharing on what He ministered to me.

You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:14-15.

How awesome it is for Jesus to call us a friend. Now this is something I had to ponder on for a while because when I think of Jesus I think of HIM as my Lord, My Savior, My Teacher, My God, My Protector, My Provider, My Healer, My Deliver, My Redeemer, My Righteousness… but friend. It just seemed too small to put him there.  However, when I pondered on it and really allowed the Holy Spirit to minister to me I could receive it because friendship is not a small or minor relationship. A friend is someone who knows you, who you spend quality time with and someone you share personal details about your life with who will not share it with anyone else.  A friend is someone you can turn to when you are down and then after speaking with them you feel a weight lifted. A friend will tell you the truth about yourself and love you for who you are as a person, a friend will take time out of their already full schedule to help you when you need it. NOW, this is JESUS and whole lot more.  He is truly the center of my Joy and HE has called me friend.

The next time I sing WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS I will be able to personalize it a lot more.

Today as we fast let’s pray for our friends and take the time to let our friends know how much we appreciate them and love them. Friends are jewels and we can learn a lesson from Jesus on how to be a friend.  I know we have brothers and sisters in Christ too so lets us pray for them also because I have some strong sisters in the Lord who I also call friends. Our friends can also be our husbands or wives so let us pray for relationships with the Lord and relationship with anyone we consider our friend.

The Nelson’s Three-In-One Bible Reference Companion defines friend as –acquaintance; one highly esteemed.

Proverbs 18:24 – A man who has friends must himself be friendly.

I want to end on this footnote reading I was reading from Daniel when Debra phoned. I pray it is a blessing to you as it was for me.

Friendships make life enjoyable and difficult times bearable. Friendships are tested and strengthened by hardships. Such was the relationship between three young Jewish men deported to Babylon along with Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego help us think about the real meaning of friendships. As much as these friends meant to each other, they never allowed their friendship to usurp God’s place in their lives—not even in the face of death. Together they silently defied King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to fall down and worship the image of gold. They shared a courageous act, while others, eager to get rid of them, told the King the three Jews were being disloyal. While this was not true, Nebuchadnezzar could not spare them without shaming himself. This was the moment of truth. Death was about to end their friendship. A small compromise would have allowed them to live and go on enjoying each other, serving God, and serving their people while in this foreign land. But they were wise enough to see that compromise would have poisoned the very conviction that bound them so closely—each had a higher allegiance to God. The rest was victory. When we leave God out of our most important relationships, we tend to expect those relationships to meet needs in us that only God can meet. Friends are helpful, but they cannot meet our deepest spiritual needs. Leaving God out of our relationships indicates how unimportant he really is in our own lives. Our relationship with God should be important enough to touch our other relationships—especially our closest friends.

Shylethia Brown Williams

New Song Link for this post, November 16, 2016 – FRIEND MEDLEY ISRAEL HOUGHTON & NEW BREED LIVE FROM ANOTHER LEVEL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZCDMyC43Io

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

Words: Joseph Scriven (1857)

**********************************************************

Love, Joy and Peace,

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The  purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow!

The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually in accordance to: A God-Filled Life Titus 2:3-5 “Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”
Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com

 

you-can-tell-when-people-are-best-friends

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