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Encouragement

July 20, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Directing Our Way to You Today

"Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you;"

 1 Thessalonians 3:11, Page 1848  

       I have a friend who seeks direction in his life.  He never went straight from high school to college, and in his mid twenties, has only completed a few college courses.  He lives at home and does not have a full-time job.  I have another friend seeking direction in life.  He will graduate from college in December, but has already decided that he dislikes the work he has trained for.  Both of my friends face the same question, what will I do with my life?  What direction shall I take.

        You see, one of my friends will be seeking direction for His Father God, and the Jesus His Lord.  The other friend will be looking in the mirror and deciding what to do.  In our lives, we have to make many different decisions, and some of them make real differences for the rest of our lives.  We need direction and we need it from God.

       In 1 Thessalonians 3:11, Paul describes how he finds direction.  He has been telling the Thessalonians for nearly three chapters how much he loves them, how much he longs to see them, and his plans for visiting them.  Now, he shares how the ministry team wants to go and visit them, but only under the direction of the Father and Lord Jesus.  For Paul, he counted upon God providing guidance at the right time and the right way.  Let us take a look at how God guides us, using Paul as an example.

       First, God guides us by developing relationships for His glory.  Paul was always choosing between (1) making new friends, and sharing the Gospel in new places, and (2) returning to see friends in places where he had already witnessed God planting churches.  The ministry team sought direction from God, and they understood that God would lead them along the lines God had already started in their lives.  Paul had a calling to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and gifted by God for that purpose.  God will always use your life by using your spiritual gifts for His purposes.

       Second, faith in God supports all of our decisions.  We must really believe that God has a plan for our lives, and He really will direct our plans.  He does not leave us looking in the mirror at ourselves, but rather looking at God our Father and the Lord Jesus for guidance. 

       Third, notice for a moment the terms Paul used here.  He looks for guidance from his Father, a term of power and endearment.  I heard a man say once, "Why should I ask for my father's guidance? I am twenty-five years old."  Of course his father was sitting right next to him, and he still lived with his father, and ate his father's food.  The other term Paul used was Lord Jesus.  The term Lord has special comfort and meaning in the context of seeking guidance.  While we happily acknowledge Jesus as Lord in many contexts, we should follow Paul's lead here in realizing that the sovereignty of Jesus Christ certainly extends to planning our lives with supernatural power, love and vision.  In one sense, our future amounts to obeying the commands of Jesus.  We will not give Jesus commands about our future, but listen to His commands about our future.

       Fourth, often we have our own hopes and desires about our lives.  The Father and the Lord Jesus listen to us in prayer, and we let them know our hopes and desires.  Ultimately, however, we invite our spiritual friends to pray for us too, that we might follow the leading of our Father and the Lord Jesus.

      Fifth, God has a purpose for your life.  As we live for God, we begin to understand that purpose for our lives, and how our lives become intertwined with other lives.  God uses us for His purposes.  We will not see our purpose in a mirror, but in the Word of God.  We learn it in prayer, both alone and in groups.  We hear it in the wise counsel of our friends.

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

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we pray that God will lead our lives as Father and under the direction of the Lord Jesus.

     ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we watch God build relationships under His leading to meet new people and develop their faith and ours under His loving care and grace.

       ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we only look in the mirror for directions.  Spiritual friendships depend upon everyone walking under the guidance of God the Father and the Lord Jesus.  On a worldwide basis, we walk together in Christ. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want to encourage my friends seeking direction from God.  God wants them to know their Father and the Lord Jesus both love them, and wants to direct their lives for God's glory.  Who will you be seeking direction from today?