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The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Friends

Posted on April 30, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.

Job 16:20-21

How many gifts do we give family and friends that end up on eBay or stored in the attic or garage? The old expression, “It’s the thought that counts,” applies here.

We have good intentions when giving gifts, and some of us are better than others at hitting the mark.

The biggest mistake I ever made in selecting a gift happened years ago in St. Petersburg, Florida when I gave my best friend and radio partner, Kurt Kilpatrick, a padded toilet seat for Christmas. I thought it was a thoughtful gift based on his account of where he did his reading. Might as well be comfortable, right? Let’s just say he wasn’t overly joyed by his gift.

Speaking of my old friend, he is one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. And the most talented. But that’s another story.

But the greatest gift we could ever give to each other is the gift of intercessory prayer. Friends praying for friends. Family praying for family. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Until she died in 1981, my grandmother prayed for me every day of my life. Wherever I was in the world, whatever I faced, she pleaded to God in my behalf.

In fact, I am persuaded she prayed with such frequency and fervor that God is still answering her prayers in my life today.

Let’s review our focus text. “My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.”

Have you ever shed tears before God in behalf of another? Notice the fervency represented here: “… he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.”

Surely you have heard, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b) The context of this verse relates to intercessory prayer. Praying for others is powerful and effective.

Here’s a method for adding variety to your prayers and expanding your intercessory prayer list. Anytime a friend or family member comes to mind, pray for them. You need not know what’s happening in their lives to intercede, because God knows.

For example, last night I had a dream about an old boss. He was on my mind when I started the day. A new name had been added to my prayer list.

When an ambulance passes by, pray for the person being transported. That wrecked vehicle in the ditch, pray for the victim(s).

Yesterday, my wife and I saw an elderly woman on a sidewalk. Walking was difficult for her. Another cue to pray.

Recently, I talked about how we are to pray continually. Can you see how intercessory prayer that responds to our thoughts of people we encounter and remember can aid continual prayer?

Remember, God hears those little prayers in response to the cast of passing characters in our lives. A quick prayer in behalf of someone is better than no prayer at all. And when you know of a friend in peril, make it a fervent prayer.

Have you ever said of someone, “I haven’t thought of him/her in years.” That thought may have been planted by the Holy Spirit to prompt you to pray for that person.

Back to my illustration on giving gifts. Material gifts will come and go, and sometimes they will be exchanged or go unused. But when we give the gift of prayer, the recipient will always benefit.

Who has been on your mind lately? Does a name come to mind right now? Then pray.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Lord Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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Friends Helping Friends

Posted on April 27, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.

Job 2:11

You know about Job. He’s long been a model for patience amidst extreme suffering.

To gain meaning from our focus text, let’s review what has happened to this prosperous farmer.

  • Marauders and lightning killed his livestock.
  • A powerful dessert wind blew down his house resulting in the deaths of his children.
  • Satan has afflicted him with sores all over his body.

So — three well-meaning friends get together to discuss Job’s plight and then plan a visit with the goals of expressing sympathy and comfort. A worthy endeavor.

Ever heard the expression, “He meant well,” or “She meant well?” What we mean is: the effort fell short of the intended purpose. And that’s what happened when Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar visited Job.

The meeting started out okay, but then turned into a theological debate about the reason for Job’s suffering. The focus turned from Job’s suffering to the reasons. It had to be sin. You must have done something wrong.

Often times, in our efforts aimed at helping others we zero in on the cause and not the pain. What we’re saying is, “You brought this on yourself.” “It’s your fault.” Even when the assessment is accurate, the suffering party already knows. There’s a time and a place for dealing with the root cause. But first, we should do our best to relieve the pain.

I’ll never forget the pain I suffered from a defective gall bladder. Before x-rays and an examination, I wanted relief. “Can’t you give me something for pain?”

Give ministry to the suffering that eases their pain.

There’s a phrase in verse 11 that begs attention. They “met together by agreement.” What was discussed at that meeting? Were they concerned friends or friends of the nosey variety?

Helping friends should be without hidden agenda. Caring for the misfortunes of others is not a time for gathering information to be used for gossip or snooping for our personal edification.

Frequently, the best thing you can do for a hurting friend is just be there. Be a good listener. Ease their burden by bringing a meal or an appropriate gift or card.

Gauge your level of ministry on how well you know the person who is suffering. Ask permission before jumping into a household chore.

Believe it or not, some people prefer to be left alone when they’re hurting. Honor that.

Be willing to help any way you can but do it respectfully. One statement that is always helpful is to tell them you’ll be praying for them. Just don’t forget to live up to that promise.

We can learn a lot from the three visitors who had intended to comfort and give sympathy to Job. Their effort ended in upsetting Job more than helping him.

Care. Be compassionate. Don’t meddle. Respect. Don’t overdo it. Be considerate. LISTEN. Love. Pray.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Love Means You Sometimes Have to Say You’re Sorry

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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