It is springtime and flowers are blooming everywhere in the mountainous area where I live. Everywhere I look, there are multitudes of indigenous flowers blooming prolifically and they are all gorgeous and vibrant, adding color to a landscape that through wintertime, was bleak and barren.
Now, there is one flower that does not grow indigenous in this area and that is the tulip flower. It is a beautiful flower and while I see tulips blooming in the neighbor’s yard, tulips, while hearty flowers, must be planted first before we begin to see them growing in our own yard.
Recently, someone gave me a bouquet of tulips. The bouquet was beautiful. The tropical-colored buds were gorgeous in their own right, but then two days later the buds opened up and I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing the inside of a tulip. I was amazed. It was extraordinarily beautiful. Each petal had the exact design of intricate shapes and colors. I was fascinated to no end.
Now that I have seen the inside of a tulip, I enjoy them more than I ever have in the past.
Friends, have you ever seen the inside of a tulip? If not, please treat yourself to one of God’s great visual miracles on this planet.
Like tulips, friendships are beautiful on the outside. You spend time with your friends. You enjoy each other’s company. I call this surface friendship. It’s all wonderful. We all need each other to survive. But, have you ever taken time to see the inside of your friend? Beyond the initial, outward attraction, which some call chemical attraction, have you ever thought about what it is about your friend that makes you like them so much? I would bet that if you ever opened up to your friend and if your friend ever opened up to you, you would discover something about them and they would discover something about you that is so wonderful that you would be drawn closer to each other in ways you could never imagine.
There is nothing wrong with surface friendship. After all, we live in a world where sometimes survival means being with others merely for comfort and camaraderie. A community coming together to help each other in times of need is a basic survival technique that we desperately need to keep planted in society. In times of trouble, the people in the community ban together as friends.
But, have you ever thought about going deeper with the person you call your friend? Have you ever thought about discovering and uncovering that which makes your friend who they are? What makes them tick? What are their likes and dislikes? What do you have in common? Oh, what about discovering what makes the two of you different? I believe that when friends open up to each other, they are in for a world of marvelous discoveries about each other and this discovery will tie the friendship together in ways that are extraordinarily wonderful.
Our #1 Friend
We have a friend in Jesus. He is our #1 friend and I believe that if we open up our hearts and let Jesus see us for who we are (sharing the good and the bad), and if we look into the heart of Jesus, we will discover a friend with unlimited, unconditional love.
Jesus is the best friend a person can have on earth and into eternity. He is the perfect model of what friendship is all about because He loves us without limits. He gave everything, including His life for us so that we could have freedom from sin and a life of eternity with the Almighty God, the King of all Nations.
How much of you does your earthly friend ask of you? In contrast, Jesus (our Heavenly friend) doesn’t ask much of you. In fact, all He asks is that you believe in Him. And, truly, that’s not much.
Believe in Jesus and you will discover a world of beauty.
The bible says:
“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Include your friend Jesus among those you call your best friends and you will be surrounded by good, caring friends who will carry you, with joy, through the life you deserve.
The bible says:
“Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel.”
Proverbs 27:9 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
I think Cicero, the famous Roman statesman, also said it well:
Nature loves nothing solitary, and always reaches out to something as a support, which ever in the sweetest friend is most delightful.
Take delight in the beauty of friendships and cherish your friends forever.
Today's Worship Video: What a Friend I've Found
Words and Music: by Martin Smith
Copyright: 1996 Curious? Music UK
Are you feeling a little stressed out about this whole Coronavirus (COVID-19) thing?
Don’t be. Or, I should say, I’m not worried and I feel that you should not be worried either.
I feel, my friends, that the Lord’s got Coronavirus under His control. He is the maker of all things and is in charge of all things. Friends, He’s got this. Yes, in our minds, it appears that things are out of control, but knowing the Lord to be the Healer of all things, I leave it up to Him to manage this and everything else in the universe.
Because of the comfort I have found by trusting in the Lord, I encourage you to look to the Lord for your own comfort and guidance on how to get through this and other things happening in your life.
This is a time for all to come together to lift each other up and it is a time to also support each other.
We Are Stronger Together
The “Shelter in Place” mandate is causing many to be isolated. We are asked not to go to work; we are asked not to go to school; we are asked not go to places of entertainment; we are asked to stay at least six feet away from others; we are asked that, unless leaving the home is for an essential reason, we are to stay home and “be safe” from the Coronavirus.
The mandate has a list of activities that are considered “essential” to minimal survival and church attendance is not on the essential list of activities.
While I understand that the purpose of the mandate is to protect us from spreading this potentially deadly virus, I am starting to see some family and friends who are beginning to show frustration with being isolated from others.
As Christians, we know that attending church is an activity that connects us with others. In church, not only do we receive the word of God, but we take time to enjoy the company of others. Christians call this fellowshipping. Fellowship is a time for rejoicing, sharing, comforting, and just plain laughing and having fun with others who share a uniformed belief in the Lord.
But, the mandate to stay home has caused some people to feel isolated.
Friends, remember there is danger in being alone because when we are alone, we open up the ability of the evil one to come in and interfere with our way of thinking and our way of living. If you are feeling isolated, reach out to people you know.
As Christians, we understand the harm that comes from isolation. We understand that God did not make us to live in isolation. He created us to be part of the body of Christ, and it is no secret that we are stronger together.
Bible Verses About Being Stronger Together
The Bible has many verses that speak about how important it is to spend time with others. The Lord makes it very clear that we are meant to be together and we are stronger together.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Two people are better off than one for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
I am finding that people are reaching out more during these unsettling times, offering comfort and support. In fact, in my life, I am seeing more family and friends offering to pray for each other, and this is coming from some people who have never prayed a prayer in their life before now. It is exciting to me. People are developing a closeness that I have not seen in a while.
I have a dear friend who understands how important it is to reach out to others. My friend shared with me how, since the church is not meeting until further notice, he calls members of the church and he sends out handwritten cards to help others feel connected.
I feel like this is a great idea and I encourage you to make a connection with family, friends, and people you know at church, at work, at school, and at other functions you regularly attend. Reach out to make sure the people you know are not feeling alone.
Comfort and Strength
It is my hope that the following Bible verses inspire you to reach out to the Lord to find comfort and strength. And as you find comfort and strength, reach out to others and be part of the body of God, helping others find love, hope, and strength during a time when we all need it most.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Stay Close to One Another
Let’s stay close. Let’s stay together. Let’s endure these troubling times in the comfort and strength of each other – brothers and sisters united against all odds.
Way Maker (Official Live Video)
© 2016 Sinach (adm at CapitolCMGPublishing.com, excluding the UK & Europe which is adm by Integrity Music) CCLI #7115744