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July 14, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Finding out about Your Faith Today

“For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would have been in vain.”

 1 Thessalonians 3:5, Page 1848  

       I heard a story about a man who received the Gospel of Jesus Christ with great joy.  He talked like a Christian, walked like a Christian, and acted like a Christian for about five days.  At the end of five days, he went back to his old ways because he loved money more than he loved Jesus.  Each of us has to make very serious choices about how we will live each day.  The five-day-believer did not have anyone looking after him after he received Christ, and the tempter came to him and snared him.

       Today you will be making a decision about staying close with your spiritual friends.  Do you have someone on your mind that may be suffering temptation today?  If not, are you even thinking about your spiritual friends?  One key to standing firm with Christ is to hold the spiritual hands of as many friends as you can hold at once.  Because they are spiritual hands, you are not limited to just two hands.  As you suffer temptation, do you have friends seeking you out, praying for you, and being concerned enough about the tempter coming after you that they send a friend to see how you are doing?  Welcome to the Thessalonian ministry team. 

       Paul used the phrase “find out about your faith.”  Are you staying in touch with any friend about their faith?  Paul made it a point to stay in touch with my friends who have made professions of faith.  Paul linked this desire to stay in touch with his concern about the spiritual welfare of the Thessalonians.  If no one cares about your spiritual welfare, then you have no friends.  If the people around you purposefully hinder you from growing in Christ, then those people are not your friends.  You need to seek out friends who will seek out your spiritual welfare and promote spiritual friendship with you.

        Now, let us look a this teaching about the tempter.  We know that the tempter, the devil, tempts believers to stray away from Christ.  In some case, people become shipwrecked in their faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20, page 1855), so that stop acting like Christians.  Paul expressed his concern that he had labored night and day, but did it all in vain if the Thessalonians had fallen away.  Do not misunderstand.  Once a believer trusts in Jesus for salvation, then nothing can ever undo the salvation.  Once saved means always saved (Romans 8:29-30, page 1769-1770; John 5:24, page 1662; 6:37-44, page 1666; 1 Corinthians 3:15, page 1785 ; Ephesians 1:5, page 1827; Ephesians 4:30, page 1831).  You cannot lose your salvation, no matter what you do.  But, you can live like you are not saved.  If you live without concern for your friends, then you are not really their friend.   Anytime you think about temptation, remember that God tempts no one (James 1:13, page 1888), and always limits the temptation to what you can endure, and also provides a way out of each temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13, page 1793).      

      So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we have an intense concern for our spiritual friends, especially as they face temptation.

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we take steps to find out how our spiritual friends are withstanding temptation.  We need to pray for them, communicate with them, and spend time with them.   Our friends should never face temptation without our spiritual concern and support.

      ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we no longer care about how our spiritual friends are doing.  Do you know anyone who is looking after you, and praying for you as you face temptation?  If you fall, will anyone care?  Time to stay in touch and stay close to our spiritual friends.   

Application for Today

        Today, I will find out about my spiritual friends and see how they are facing temptation.  I want them to know that I will pray with them, stand with them, and love them as they face temptation.  I expect the same from my friends.  Will you be finding out about someone’s faith today, especially in light of temptation overtaking them?

 

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