Friday, February 24, 2017

Man’s Best Friend

Have you ever gone into a grocery store for one item but come out with $20 worth of product and still didn’t get the item you originally went into the store for in the first place?  

Well, that’s what happened when we went into Aldi’s hoping to get some decent strawberries for Valentine’s Day.  When the woman at the checkout asked if we found everything we wanted she smiled when I told her we only came in for strawberries, and they were sold out of them. 

Grabbing the few items in the cart, we were greeted by dog that was patiently standing by the entrance doors.  He was so focused; nothing or no one swayed him from taking his eyes off the passageway into the building. 

God gave us favor in a parking space next to the building, and I kept turning around looking at the pup all the way back to the car.  Was he hungry?  Had someone dumped him off there, after all that’s how we got rescue kitty Izzy?  He didn’t have a collar … maybe he was lost.  All these things ran through my mind while hubby opened my car door.   

How could this super dog lover not do anything?  He didn’t seem concerned at all, but went to the driver’s side and got in the vehicle.  Just as he was about to turn on the ignition I looked at him with “wifey” eyes, not saying a word but quite verbal if you know what I mean … “you can’t seriously think we’re going anywhere?” 

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Hello – any reasonable people out there? 

For the next ten minutes we sat in the car with my eyes fixated on the stray pup that no one seemed to care about him being there.  Almost every person that left the store acknowledged him with a friendly hello along with a stroke or two across the head.  No one seemed bothered that this little fellow was all alone.  Was I the only sane one in the bunch? 

“He’s probably waiting for his owner.” My husband repeated as I continually tuned him out thinking he was wrong. “I can’t take this any longer.” I informed my husband and popped the car open to go rescue the sweet dog that was intently watching the inside of the store.  Following behind me like an obedient puppy once more he said, “Honey, his owner is probably inside and he’s just waiting for him.”  

Not willing to give up on my new canine friend I continued questioning this situation, “If that’s true why doesn’t he have a collar or any tags?” By now the dog had gotten inside the exit part of the store and was out of sight.   

Man’s Best Friend 

I was almost to the exit door when I heard a man say, “You shouldn’t be in here.”  Right then the pup’s tail began to wag fiercely as a woman came out of the store, “Come on Jake.”  Jumping up and down he ran circles around the couple following them back to their car.  Apparently the man who corrected old Jake was also his owner. 

As they were loading their car another woman and her daughter were parked next to them. The daughter kept begging the mom to take the pup home.  When she saw Jake with the owner she said, “He’s so sweet. I’d love to take him home with us.” 

With a smug giggle she stopped what she was doing and said, “Go ahead, take him. Open your car door.”  So the woman did.  “Jake get in the car.”  Jake didn’t move a muscle but stayed by the lady who was giving the directions.   

The couple finished putting their groceries in the car and headed back to the store.  As they walked by us hubby called out, “Is he your dog?” Not breaking her stride the woman replied, “Yep, he’s a good friend and dog. He even goes to nursing homes and schools.”  

Disappearing into the store Jake resumed his position faithfully waiting outside the doors for his owners to return.  What a great dog I thought.  Would ours have done that?  Anyone could tell how the phrase “man’s best friend” applied here. 

What a Woman Should Not Say to Her Husband 

It wasn’t until a few days later during lunch that I mentioned to my husband about how faithful Jake was and how it reminded me of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible.  After all Job went through with the death of his ten kids, losing the majority of his farm and animals, he remained faithful to the Lord even when his body was covered with boils. 

I began re-reading the account of what happened and thought about how close Job’s relationship was with God.  It was miles different than the one his wife had with the Almighty.   

In all the messages I’ve heard on Job no one ever talks about how his wife experienced the same thing.  Her method of dealing with it wasn't what we'd call “Christian,” but we can probably relate to how she responded.
You can almost picture the argument the two of them had when these disasters happened.   

“Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as
 he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him,
Are you still trying to maintain your integrity?
Curse God and die.”  (Job 2:8-9 NLT) 

Not exactly the kind of “help mate” God intended do you think?  Men, how would you like to have her for a wife?  Hmmm …   

Scriptures record how in prayer Job wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion, and was upfront about how he felt.  Even in all that he experienced, the Lord said Job didn’t sin.  What does this tell us about the relationship God wants with us, and how He wants us to be honest in how we feel? 

With Friends Like That 

Thinking about the pup I thought God was teaching me a lesson on faithfulness, but it was more than that.  Jake was demonstrating something that didn’t dawn on me until later in the week when I was reading the book of Philemon.  It’s true that Jake certainly was faithful and obedient like Job, but he was also a loyal and valued friend. 

When we take a look at what happened in the books of Job and Philemon there is one major thing they have in common – friends.  However, the way that the friends respond to one another is entirely different. 

Job’s friends believed that he had sinned and that’s why all these terrible things happened to him.  Do you have any friends like that?  They are quick to throw accusations listing all the things “you’ve done wrong.” 

His so called “friends” didn’t encourage or uplift him and got all the facts wrong.  They didn’t know Job was being tested, and certainly had no idea of the level of intimacy he had with God. 

Their understanding of the relationship Job had with the Lord was nothing like the one they had with God, therefore judging him was conceived to be the accurate method of “helping out their brother” in the faith.  Job felt bad enough without having his friends come down on him; with friends like that who needs enemies? 

A Friendly Favor 

Taking a look at the Apostle Paul’s relationship with his dear friend Philemon, we see a much different approach to the way he handles a situation.  At the time of the writing of the letter to Philemon, Paul was in prison.  Paul begins his letter assuring his friend that he is continually in his prayers.  I wonder … how often do we pray for our faithful friends who are loyal to the duties in the church or ministry? 

He carries on in praise and encouragement as a way of correction rather than embarrassing his friend for making a rather harsh decision concerning his runaway slave.  Paul makes his plea before the church leader knowing that his correspondence will be read in front of the entire house congregation. 

Now how did he and Onesimus come to have a relationship anyway?  We’re not told, but do find out that along his escape path he received salvation through the message that Paul was preaching.   

Something strange was about to happen when the Apostle asked for “favor” to be shown on someone that society would deem as a traitor.  No longer did Paul think of his friend’s servant as a slave, but he considered Onesimus a friend, brother in Christ and a valuable servant in ministry.  

Unlike Job’s friends who brushed up on their game of word darts, Paul and Philemon are on common ground in their relationship with the Lord.  Everything changes when Paul demonstrates “Christ-like” behavior willing to redeem the servant’s debts to his beloved friend Philemon, asking that he show favor (mercy) in forgiveness and treat Onesimus as the brethren in the Lord.
I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.  But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. 

For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave — a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philemon verse 12-16 NLT)

When God’s Friends Pray 

There is something else the two leaders in faith had in common.  Although the two men were thousands of years apart in time, Job and Paul were prayer warriors.  

Prayer is an integral part of our relationship in understanding the heart of God, especially in times of trouble.  We can gather that Job’s friends believed in God, but they didn’t “know” His heart, and it infuriated the Lord so much that He refused to listen to their prayers.

Job was not only a believer he was a favored friend of God, and that’s why he was shown favor throughout his entire life.  God knew that Job’s love and friendship was genuine, and not because of the “stuff” he received. 
“After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, He said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about Me, as My servant Job has.  
 So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to My servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf.  
I will not treat you as you deserve
(I will show you grace, mercy – unmerited favor),
 for you have not spoken accurately about Me,
 as my servant Job has.”  So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the Lord commanded them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! (Job 42: 7-10 NLT) 

Paul on the other hand, shared how he prayed for his friends as did Job.  He intervenes for him in Philemon 4-7 and realizes that their ministry in the Lord was just as important as his.  The Apostle sees how God is using a runaway slave and a man of means (Philemon) in different ways, because both men have a relationship with the Lord. 

He says Philemon is really generous in his church giving, and Paul prays he will step up his game and more forward with God. This will mean including the man who blackened his family name (when he ran away), by letting Onesimus become a part of the vision God had for them.  

When Paul prayed, he wasn’t just directing his prayers toward those in the current age, but for all generations God will need to fulfill His ultimate vision and plan. In reality, Paul prayed for us, his future friends and brethren in ministry. 

The favor Paul requested of his friend was one of compassion and forgiveness so that the gospel message could go further, beyond what he could do.  Through prayer Jesus made requests before the Heavenly Father for His friends - us.  He used that term, not me. 

Christ also said that “we” His Body, the Church, would do greater things NOT more important things.  Greater things need greater favor and that is why He gave us spiritual gifts and one another to accomplish the vision of God. 

You’ve Got a Friend in Me 

It’s hard to think of some fellow believers as “friends” isn’t it, especially when their way of going about sharing their faith is a little out of this world. I can attest to some people I thought were friends in the faith … they moved and didn’t leave a forwarding address!  This didn’t happen just once, but twice!  Was it something I said? 

How do we pray for our fellow believers or those in ministry?  Are we praying that their vision be accomplished even if we don’t quite get what it is?  Do we pray that God sends favor into ministries in the form of gifted people so that the vision of the Church can be accomplished?  Just wondering ... 

When friends of God pray He listens; when they pray for one another Heavenly things begin to happen among the Body of Christ and it’s usually accompanied with God’s favor.   

This Week’s Challenge:
Pray for Friends in Christ 

The Bible tells us that Philemon “refreshed the hearts” of his fellow brethren as did Paul, while Job’s buds added to his burden. 
Paul deemed Onesimus, his new brother in Christ, as “profitable to ministry” … I wouldn’t exactly say that for the friends of Job would you? 

God has shown us that we need one another for His will and ministry to be accomplished here on Earth.  His way of doing that is through VISION. 

Although not all vision looks alike, we are to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord so that God’s vision is being done. 

Our challenge this week is to pray for the Body of Christ as each of us carry out our part in the overall plan and vision for the Lord, without judging one another on how it is being done. 
Pray these specific things: 

1 – Pray that each member of the Body of Christ enters into the “friend” relationship with the Lord, so they can boldly go before the Throne of Grace and have their prayers accepted as God did with Job. 

2 Pray that the vision is made clear in their mind so it can be carried out correctly.

3 Pray that God opens doors of favor for friends to expand the vision. 

4 – Pray that brothers and sisters in Christ would truly know what it means to be a friend of God through the way they treat one another. 

The take away is that ultimately as believers in Christ the Lord, Jesus is our Master, role model and best friend who wants to be included in every aspect of our lives.  He hears the prayers of the Saints, is loyal to forgive, faithful to finish what He began, and encourages us to love one another as He has loved.   

When I first saw Jake I realized there was something different about this creation of God.  Witnessing his relationship with his masters I can only wonder, are we as focused on our Master as Jake was on his? 

Can we call God our friend?  Can He call us His?  Just asking … 

“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 15:15 NKJV) 

Friend of God - Phillips Craig & Dean - Worship Video w/lyrics  

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Until next time, God favors His friends!

“Favor begins in friendship.”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

When used, the words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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David: Friend of God by Stephen J. Lennox on Daily Favor Blog
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