Thursday, January 26, 2012

Qualities That Make a True Friend

Two men were on a hunting expedition. One morning as they were breaking camp, they saw a Grizzly bear in the distance. Standing erect, the bear seemed to be nine feet tall. The bear caught the smell of the men and began to charge their camp. One of the men was franticly attempting to put on his tennis shoes. His friend looked at him and said, “What are you doing? You can not out run a bear.” The friend replied, “I don’t have to out run the bear. I just have to out run you.”

This is hardly the type of friend that anyone would choose. Instead, most people would like a friend that would reflect the following words: “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” (George Eliot, quoted in Today in the Word, July, 1989, p. 28) This kind of friendship does not happen automatically. It must be cultivated. Here are some characteristics that we can develop that will help us to build lasting, strong friendships.

One, we must understand the need for commitment in any relationship. Fair weather relationships do not hold up to the test of time. Storms will come to all relationships and they will not stand without commitment. Two, we must learn to be considerate in our dealing with people. We can not expect them to respect our feelings, if we do not respect theirs. We should never presume upon the friendship or take advantage of their like for us. Three, we need to learn the importance of confidentiality. We all need someone to which we can talk about our real feelings. We are not going to talk to someone who can not keep a confidence, nor should we expect someone to talk to us, if we have not proven to be reliable in this area. Four, we need to be constructive in any criticism that we give. A true friend will bring to the attention of his/her friend a blind spot that the friend may not see. It will always be done to buildup and to help. It will always be done in private and never in public. Five, we need to be consistent. It should not be predicated on how we feel at any given time. It should be built upon our commitment to the individual.

While acquaintances are a dime a dozen, true friendship is costly. It requires effort on our part. We must be willing to pay the cost of being a friend, if we are to expect to have a friend who will always be there. Yes, lasting friendship is costly, but it is worth the cost

God’s Measure of Success

John Maxwell devoted an entire book to the initial failures of extremely successful people. In his book, Failing Forward, he wrote, “When it comes right down to it, I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don’t. The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. Nothing else has the same kind of impact on people’s ability to achieve and to accomplish whatever their minds and hearts desire.”

While people understand the struggle for success in the temporal world, they don’t think about being successful spiritually. This is why so many people reach a high level of success in their field of expertise and still have an empty feeling inside that they can’t seem to satisfy. We see this in business executives, high paid athletes, movie stars, and other worldly endeavors. The reality is that temporal success plus spiritual failure does not add up to happiness.

If spiritual success is important, it would be to our benefit to understand how to measure it. I believe that there are four signs of spiritual success found in the first psalm. First, a successful spiritual life is one that has found and maintained moral stability (v. 1). Second, it is a life that is spiritually oriented and that takes delight in spiritual things (v, 2). Third, it is a life that bears good fruit. (v.3). Fourth, it is a life that has no doubt about its eternal security (v. 6)

Like temporal success, our spiritual success doesn’t come easy. We stumble and fall. With each failure, there is one lesson to be learned. It is that we can't succeed on our own. We need the daily guidance of God’s Spirit in our lives. He is the one who shines light on our failures but He is also the one who will extend a hand to lift us up. If we choose not to yield to His leadership, we will continue to fail and spiritual success will elude us throughout our lives.

If these words seem to be more discouraging than encouraging because you know that you have not been successful in your spiritual walk, reach out and take His hand. It is always extended toward you. Let Him lift you up and dust you off. He will lead you to success if you will follow His guidance. Do not dwell on past failures but remember, “It is not how hard you get knocked down but how fast you get up that really matters.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reciprocal Commands

When a church is being lead by the Holy Spirit, the following characteristics will be found in the fellowship of the body. When these characteristics are present in the body, it becomes a beacon to those who live day to day in a dog-eat-dog world.

Love one another (Jn. 13:34, 35).
Forgive one another (Eph. 4:31, 32).
Tolerate one another (Eph. 4:1-3).
Care for one another (I Cor.12:24, 25).
Accept one another (Rom.15:7).
Be subject to one another (Eph. 5:21).
Build up one another (Rom. 14:19).
Exhort one another (Heb. 3:13).
Teach one another (Col. 3:16).
Admonish one another (Col. 3:16).
Confess sins to one another Jm.:5:16)
Do not judge one another. (Rom.14:12, 13a).
Do not speak evil of one another. (James 3:1).
Do not lie to one another (Col. 3:9).
Do not bite and devour one another. (Gal.5:15).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Prayer Guide for Personal Revival

This is a prayer guide that one of my mentors gave me many years ago. It is as true today as it was when I first received it. I encourage you to use it as a prayer guide for your own personal revival and watch what God does in your life.

I. Be still and quiet for the first few moments until you are perfectly calm and aware of where you are, whose you are, and who you are.

1. with yourself
2. with Christ himself
3. with your family
4. with others
1. any bitterness
2. any anger
3. any resentments
4. critical spirit
1. for Christ
2. for His Church
3. for His World
4. for others
1. Spiritual Power
2. Revival
3. Souls Saved
4. Spiritual Growth

1. use of time
2. use of possessions
3. use of talents
1. envy, jealously, etc.
2. revenge, indifference, etc.
3. coldness, pride, etc.


A. Adore and Praise God
C. Confess everything you know to Him
T. Thank Him for every blessing
S. Supplications for the needs you feel in your life.