You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org Friends wisely can't be overstated either. Some people bring joy wherever they go.
Others bring joy whenever they go. What kind of friend are you? Because friends really matter. God created us as social beings. We're not wired to be hermits living a reclusive, isolated lifestyle. We're built to engage with others.
But whoever we engage with influences us and we them, so there's wisdom in choosing our influencers. Today on A New Beginning, as we launch a new series on relationships, we begin with the most common relationship we all enjoy, friendship. We'll consider one of the Bible's preeminent examples of rewarding friendship. Okay, well we're going to look at two passages in the message today, 1 Samuel chapter 18 and John 15.
1 Samuel 18, John 15, a brand new series. The title is, Am I Doing This Right? Now listen, I don't know about you, but I'm not a mechanical person. How many of you are good mechanical people?
Raise your hand up. I admire you. I admire a person that something breaks in the house and you fix it. The engine isn't working, you pop the hood, you fix it.
I am clueless about these things. I walk into a hardware store, I get excited. I want to buy tools, but if I come home with tools, Kathy will be alarmed because whatever I attempt to fix will only be made worse.
Years ago when we were just starting our church, I was in my early 20s, we had a work day where everybody came out. We're going to paint the church and we're going to trim the hedges. So I got one of these hedge trimmers. I've never used one before, but it was this mechanical thing that looked cool to me. I fired it up, I'm trimming the hedge, trimming the hedge, and I wasn't paying attention and it got right through the electrical cord. So it just stopped. So I looked this way, I looked that way, I just set it down and walked off. I had nothing to do with this and someone who saw me told me like 40 years later and told that story publicly.
I thought, oh I guess someone did see me. So I'm not a mechanical person, but things like that don't matter that much. But there are certain things in life that matter a lot.
And we need to do them right. You probably all heard about the Challenger space shuttle that had an explosion on January 28, 1986. It was seen by all of the nation because there was a school teacher, the first school teacher in space, and all those little children watching in their classrooms as this thing blew up. As it was taking off. And so of course they wanted to figure out why did this happen? And it was determined that the reason this space challenger blew up was the failure of two rubber O-rings.
And you think this incredible device brought down by two little rubber rings. Okay so now we transition from that and we think about our own lives. Details matter. Doing things right, that matters.
And some things you need to get exactly right. And this is a series about relationships. Relationships can be done in the right way and they can be done in the wrong way. The first 17 years of my life I saw how not to have a relationship as I watched the crazy life of my mother with her marriages and divorces and all the rest. There wasn't a single adult figure I admired in my childhood for the most part with a couple of exceptions. My father who adopted me and my grandparents.
But by and large I was looking for someone who was doing it right. And after I came to Christ I began to meet Christian families and Christian couples. And I learned how God wanted us to do relationships. We're going to talk about everything. We're going to talk about singleness. We're going to talk about marriage. We're going to talk about parenting.
But my first message is on the topic of friendship. But before I start talking about that I would just add this. Every social ill in America today can basically be traced to the breakdown of the American family. Everything.
You name it. It connects to the breakdown of the family. A rise of drug addiction. Incarceration. Girls getting pregnant. Out of wedlock.
You name it. It comes back to the broken home. So families matter. As I've said before a family can survive without a nation but a nation cannot survive without the family. And the reason our nation has been strong is because we've looked at God's order for the family.
But now we've strayed so far from that we need to return to it again. So before I get into marriage and parenting I want to just start with a message about friendship. Because that's where it all starts. Friendship. And that applies to every one of a single married young old friendship. And you know we have an epidemic of loneliness sweeping our culture today. I think social media has made us far less sociable.
Don't you think? We've forgotten how to communicate with each other. I read that millennials prefer texting to talking now.
You know and it's crazy. We just don't even know how to interact with each other like we used to. Can you imagine if people behaved in real life like they behaved on Twitter? You'd have random people yelling at each other all day long.
Right? So research has revealed that every three out of five Americans feel very lonely. One source says quote experts have long known that loneliness and isolation have long-ranging effects on the mind and body.
Long-ranging from anxiety and depression to vulnerability to illness. Yet they've also found one or two friendships can dramatically decrease loneliness. So we have this epidemic of loneliness with a few friendships.
One or two can make all the difference. There was an article on the Vox news site and it said white friendship is different than any other relationship that we have. And it said 12% of Americans have no close friendships compared with 3% in 1990. They said we as a society have atomized working shopping and socializing online. And our phones have become the primary portal through which we view the outside world.
Well that's not good. We need living breathing friends. We need people to talk to. God's wired you this way.
You're not meant to do life alone. And that is why this massive not just national but global social experiment of shutting everything down during the days of COVID was a massive failure and catastrophe. It really was. Because we're seeing the long-term effects now on children who miss school, on people that missed interacting with one another. Shutting down schools, parks, benches, even churches. And it's hurt us as a culture. So we need to interact with each other. We need to be together. Because back in the book of Genesis God said of Adam it is not good that man should be alone.
Now contextually he brought Eve to Adam. But this is true just in general. Not just you need to get married but it's just not good to be alone. Or a literal translation of that would be not good is the aloneness of man. So we need friends in our life. So what is a friend? How can you tell who a real friend is? What is a frenemy? I think we may have some frenemies, right?
So how do you define friendship? Well I heard a story of two friends that went out camping in the woods. They were getting up in the morning for their first cup of coffee. And all of a sudden they heard a rustling in the bushes and running toward them at full speed was a giant grizzly bear. So one of the friends started putting his running shoes on. And his buddy said, what are you doing? You don't think you can outrun that bear, do you? And he said, I don't need to outrun the bear.
I just need to outrun you. That's how some friends are, so called. It's been said that a friend walks in when others walk out. So a friendship is when two people commit themselves one to another.
There is give and take. You can open your heart up. You can do life together.
You can share secrets with them and they'll keep your confidence. And a classic example of friendship is the story of David and Jonathan. Now we recently did a message on the life of David.
But I want to look at one passage. 1 Samuel 18 verses 1 to 3. It says, after David finished talking with Saul, who would be the king, he met Jonathan, the king's son. There was an immediate bond between them for Jonathan loved David. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David because he loved him more than he loved himself.
I love that. There's no better example of how to have a friendship in the Bible than in the story of David and Jonathan. David, an unknown shepherd boy, meets Jonathan, the prince of Israel, the next in line to become the king.
But yet God called David to be the king when the prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem and anointed him. But the verse says, Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. You know, Jesus said, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Sometimes we're taught we need to love ourselves more. We need more self love.
Nonsense. You love yourself already. I don't know that you need to love yourself anymore. The Bible doesn't teach you to love yourself.
It teaches you to deny yourself, right? It just assumed you love yourself. Example, when you look at a picture with a bunch of people and you're in it, who do you look for first? Don't tell me you look for someone else. You look for yourself. I don't want this picture. Don't post it. I look fat or whatever. Right?
Or let me Photoshop it first. We love ourselves. That's assumed. And so the idea is, can you love a neighbor?
Can you love a friend as much as you love yourself? Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's such a blessing to hear from listeners who take time to express their appreciation. Pastor Greg, you're the best. I listen to you every day. Thank you so much for sharing the love of the gospel and helping me have a closer walk with Jesus. How have these daily studies ministered to you and your family?
Would you let us know? Tell us your story by emailing Pastor Greg. Send it to gregatharvest.org.
Do it today while you're thinking about it. Again, gregatharvest.org. Well, we're exploring the subject of friendship today, and Pastor Greg is taking us to the biblical story of the friendship between David and Jonathan.
Let's continue. What an unlikely pair, a shepherd boy becoming friends with a member of the royal family. It reminds me of the friendship of Billy Graham and the Queen of England. And Billy was raised on a dairy farm.
He aspired to be a baseball player one day. But the Lord put his hand on young Billy Frank and called him to be a global evangelist and pastor to presidents and, yes, even to kings and queens. And Billy was preaching in England having a tremendous time.
Thousands of people were coming to Christ. It came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. They invited him to Buckingham Palace, and they became friends. And then the queen invited Billy to preach many times for her privately, and they developed a strong bond. And Billy was asked about this relationship, and all he would say is, Well, I found that the queen is a woman of rare modesty.
And he didn't want to talk about it because it was a private matter, but it's clear that he had a dramatic impact on her spiritual life. And the queen had faith in Jesus Christ and talked about it openly on many occasions. So now the queen is standing before the king of kings. She can lay her crown down before the Lord himself. But a country boy and a member of the royal family. Or David the shepherd boy and Jonathan the prince.
They become fast friends. Now David had been called by God, and Jonathan knew this. He could have resented it.
How dare you? Because effectively David was going to take Jonathan's place on the throne. But Jonathan understood that God had called David and supported him. A real friend. Now I'm going to give you some points about friendship if you're taking notes. Number one, we need godly friendships.
We need godly friendships. At the first stage of your life, you're shaped mostly by your family. But the rest of your life, you're shaped mostly by your friends. You become like the friends you spend time with.
You show me your friends and I'll show you your future. Friends influence one another for better and for worse. Some friends bring joy.
Some friends build up. Others deplete joy and tear down. Some people bring joy wherever they go. Others bring joy whenever they go. Which person are you? Are you the person that lights up the room or are you the person that shuts the lights down?
I've told you about my imaginary characters of Debbie Downer and Bobby Buskill. What kind of friend are you? Because friends really matter. Godly friendships really matter.
There's an old saying, quote, Fear that man who fears not God. It's also been said, he is your friend that pushes you closer to God. He is your friend that pushes you closer to God.
Let me turn that around. If someone is pulling you away from your relationship with God, they're not your friend. That's not a person you want to spend a lot of time around. Psalm 1 says, Blessed are happy is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. But as the light is in the word of the Lord, and in it does he meditate day and night. But notice this godly man, this happy man, doesn't hang around with non-believers that are going to bring him down. So look for godly people to be your closest friends. Now having said that, it's good to have friendships with non-believers. I have non-believers that are my friends. And I've maintained that friendship with them over the years. My objective is to influence them. My objective is to hopefully bring them to Christ. And we've seen some of them come. But on the other hand, the close friends, the ones you hang out with the most, these should be godly people.
Listen, if your so-called friend has no relationship with the Lord, and they're pulling you away from your walk with Jesus, then that can be a bad thing. A good example is Abraham and Isaac. They were related. Abraham was the uncle of Isaac. But they had friction. The guys that worked for them were always fighting. One day Uncle Abraham said, Hey buddy, listen, love you nephew, but we can't hang out anymore. This is not good for me. And we need to part company.
And they did. And sometimes that has to happen. Give serious consideration to who you choose as your friends. 1 Corinthians 15, 33 says, Don't be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.
2 Timothy 2, 22, Paul says, Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, and love, and peace along with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Friends matter. You will influence them.
They will influence you. Now listen, you who are single, when you're looking for a potential mate, look for a godly person. Don't even think about becoming romantically involved with someone who does not believe. And it's a good thing to periodically evaluate and reevaluate relationships that you have with people and ask the question, is this person building me up or tearing me down?
Is this person a wing on my spiritual race or in my spiritual race or are they a weight dragging me, slowing me down? How many of you got to see the Jesus Revolution film, Raise Your Hand, O King? So I've had a lot of people come up and ask me, did this really happen? And one question I've been asked more than once is, because there's a scene in the film where Greg says to Kathy, Kathy, if you ever get in the way of my relationship with God, it's over. So people have asked me, did you really say that to Kathy? The answer is, yes, I did. Now, you're saying, well, Greg, you're really a romantic, aren't you? But yeah, I said that.
And you know what? Kathy liked it. Because she said, I was tired of guys that I could manipulate. I'm thinking, what, a girl would try to manipulate a guy?
It's shocking. Anyway, she liked it, and it worked. I don't know if that's the first thing I would start with when you meet a girl or a guy, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. We're getting some good practical insights on friendship today on A New Beginning. Pastor Greg Laurie has more to come from this message called You've Got a Friend. Well, it's our privilege to speak with author and theologian Randy Alcorn today about his book called Heaven... Hey, wait, you never call me author and theologian. Okay, from now on, do you want me to call you Dr. Greg?
No, no. Randy actually is a theologian. I wouldn't call myself a theologian, but Randy is a theologian. And Greg, you could introduce him as foremost expert on the Beatles, Alice Cooper, et cetera. There you go. Yeah, and the purveyor of many Liverpudlian-type actions. Liverpudlian accents, that's right. I can talk like the Beatles.
I can actually do all four of them, but I won't do it now. Well, Randy, we're talking about your book called Heaven for Kids. Many people know that you wrote the big book on heaven, literally the big book on heaven.
That's right. The book on heaven for kids. Let me ask you, what do you think is the most common thing kids misunderstand about heaven? Well, I think the biggest thing is that kids often think of heaven as this completely foreign place and a place that isn't fun, a place that is just totally solemn or maybe it's all singing and nothing else. And to them, it's like, well, they want to get outside and go and do things and enjoy relationships and hang out with each other and all of that. And we do as adults as well, we want to do meaningful things and even earthly things, not worldly in a negative spiritual sense, but God made us to live on this planet. And so when kids start thinking about heaven as this place where we won't enjoy the things we enjoy here and now, then they don't want that. They like the world they live in, except they don't like the bad parts, of course.
Sin and curse and death and suffering and maybe their pet has died or whatever it is. And they don't want that, but they do want all the good things that bring them joy in the world. And so I think what we have to do is say, hey, exactly what you're saying is what God promises. A world, a new earth, and you'll have a new body that will never be sick and you'll live in a new earth where there'll be no sin or suffering. The earth itself will be Eden magnified.
That's what the new earth will be. So Satan didn't derail God's plan and make it like, oh, okay, Satan messed everything up and God's plan was for righteous humanity to rule the earth to the glory of God, but that now is never going to happen. On the contrary, it's going to happen in greater and more wonderful ways and we will live on the earth that God made for us forever, but a redeemed version and we will be a redeemed version of our old selves without the sin, without any desire to sin. We won't sin and we won't want to sin and we won't want to want to sin.
Okay, very true. You know, I love that phrase you used, Randy, Eden magnified. And this is the hope that every believer has who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. And we want to offer a very special book this month for your gift of any size. And the title of the book is Heaven for Kids, but I suspect, Dave, that as the adults are reading this to their kids or grandkids, they might be encouraged themselves because it's full of biblical truth about the afterlife. Yeah, yeah, that's true.
It's something we all need to know. And parents often face a challenge explaining heaven in a way kids can understand. So let us send you Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn. When you partner with us right now to help continue these daily studies, we'd like to send this book to you to say thank you. So get in touch with us today. You can call us anytime 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.
Or just go online to Harvest.org. Well, next time, more insights on effective biblical conflict resolution for our friendships from the new series called Am I Doing This Right? Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.
Every day, the day when life begins Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to Harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to Harvest.org and click on Know God.
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