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A Loving Heart Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2022 1:00 am

A Loving Heart Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 21, 2022 1:00 am

Every one of us wants to be truly known—and still fully loved. We all desire those kinds of human friendships. But the One who lives this best is Jesus. In this message from the Upper Room, we learn three facts from Jesus: the badge, the reward, and the result of friendship. Let’s learn how to find such a friend in Jesus and to be that kind of friend. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It's really great having an intimate friend.

You feel safe knowing that what's said stays between the two of you. Today, thoughts from the upper room on being such a friend and on finding such a friend in Jesus. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we're in John chapter 15 today, and I wonder, is it presumptuous to say that we can be friends of God? Dave, the answer is no, because Jesus said, you are my friends. You aren't just servants. Today, I can't help but think that I'm speaking to someone who feels that they are living in obscurity. You are saying to yourself, nobody knows you. Nobody appreciates you. You do not have any worldly significance at all. My friend, the greatest significance that you can have is to be called a friend of God.

Even if nobody has ever heard about you, and nobody ever will hear about you, cultivate your relationship with God. I've written a book on the upper room discourse. It's entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future. We'd love to send this resource to you. I think it will help you in your devotional life as you move through the upper room discourse where Jesus gives his final words to the disciples before his death and subsequent resurrection. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Remember, cultivate becoming a friend of Jesus. When you come to Jesus, the Scripture says the secrets of the Lord are with those who fear him. You and Jesus can have all kinds of secrets and you can trust him with your life.

You'd better trust him because he already knows all your secrets anyway. Many years ago, and it was many, many years ago, I was a youth pastor in one of the churches here in Chicago. That's a bit of information that I don't think is widely known.

Well, I have to tell you, I lasted three months, or I should say the kids lasted three months. But I remember a letter that my wife and I received from one of the girls in that teenage youth group. She said, one thing I like about Jesus is I can tell him all those secrets and he doesn't tell anybody. Isn't that beautiful? That's the way Jesus is. We can tell him all those secrets and he doesn't tell anybody.

That is friendship indeed. Now you imagine what Jesus Christ knows. He knows our down-sitting and our up-rising. He knows our aspirations and our desires. He knows our fantasies. He knows the secrets of our heart. And the remarkable thing is that he loves us still. He who knows us best, not the song go, loves us the most.

Many years ago from this pulpit, James Vernon McGee, who has since gone on to glory, was speaking at Founders Week. And he was talking about this kind of knowledge. And he said, now he said, I want you to know that if you knew my heart, if you knew my heart the way I know my heart, you wouldn't listen to me. And then he waited for a long time.

There was that pause. And then he said, but I want you to know this before you head for the exits. He said, if I knew your heart the way you know your heart, I wouldn't even talk to you.

We're all in the same boat. Somebody ever said something about you that isn't true? Have they ever shaded things to put you in an unfavorable light and you've been angry and you've not been able to sleep as a result of it?

Could I give you a bit of advice? You should rejoice that the half has not been told. What if they knew every thought that you had? What if they knew every time you thought about them and exactly what you thought about them and all those other hidden thoughts?

You'd soon discover there's a whole lot more there if it were revealed. Jesus is speaking to these disciples and he says to them, I want you to know that you are my friends. I know all about you and I still love you. Let me mention to you the words of one man who put it this way. George Eliot, oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person. Having neither to weigh thoughts or measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them. Keep what is worth keeping and then with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. We all desire those kinds of human friendships.

Every one of us wants to be known, the good, the bad, the ugly and still be accepted. But the one who does that the best is Jesus. Have you ever thought how wonderful it would be if you were Moses? Because the Bible says that Moses spoke with the Lord face to face as a man speaks with his friend. That's a quote from Exodus.

I often thought about that. Just imagine talking face to face with God and we're friends. Did you know that we have that privilege and that we today are closer to God than Moses when he was standing at the entrance of the tabernacle with the glorious cloud coming to engulf the congregation.

Because Moses was not in the holy of holies, you and I are. Thanks to the coming of Christ that veil has been taken away as it is said and near to God, nearer I cannot be for in the person of his son, I'm just as near as he friendship with Christ intimacy with him. The badge of friendship is love. The reward of friendship is intimacy and the result of friendship is fruit bearing. Let's look at the text in verse 16. Jesus said you did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.

Fruit that will last. Now inevitably when we come across passages like this and they occur throughout the whole book of John, we realize that we're in really some theological difficulty here trying to grasp it. What do you mean it is Jesus who did the choosing?

We thought that we chose him. Isn't that the way it usually goes? It's interesting to hear new converts give testimonies.

Almost always they say something like this. Now I was going along and throughout the years and minding my own business and then I began to question and then I, and here comes the quote now, then I found the Lord. Well we can understand that they put it that way but after they've studied their Bibles a little bit and hopefully after they've been to Moody Church for a few months, they clean that up a little bit and they say I was going along in life and Jesus Christ saved me. He came looking for me and saved me. The sheep are always wandering.

They are never going back to the shepherd. The shepherd is always seeking the sheep and every time in John's Gospel when it seems as if the disciples have a right to be proud, well we are friends with Jesus. At that point Christ humbles them by saying, now lest you take any credit for it, remember you did not choose me but I chose you. As we sometimes sing, I sought the Lord and afterward I knew he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me. It was not I that found, oh Savior true, no I was found of thee. Jesus does the choosing. Let's just let it be there.

Let's rejoice in it. But notice why he chooses us. He says I've chosen you, I've appointed you to bear fruit, fruit that will last. Here's where you can take the message that we preached last week and you can just put it all in to that phrase that we are supposed to bear fruit that remains because that's why the pruning takes place. You remember we learned that fruit bearing is the expression of the inner nature. An apple tree bears apples, an orange tree bears oranges because of that inner nature and the inner nature of Jesus is to break out into our life so that we can be transforming agents but most of all be transformed within us and Jesus said I want fruit that remains. I find that passage interesting, that phrase, because if there's anything that doesn't remain it's fruit.

Flour will last a while. I've learned that peanut butter can last a while but I've also learned that fruit doesn't last very long and that was re-taught to me this week when I left a banana in the hot car for a day and I wanted to eat it on the way home but there's something going on there that I didn't like. Fruit normally does not last. Jesus said I've chosen you, we're friends, I want you to be a fruit bearing Christian. Remember what we learned that if you're not a fruit bearing Christian you are disappointing God and as far as God is concerned you are of no special use to him. He says that the branches that don't bear fruit are thrown into the fire as we learned last time.

Now are you that fruit bearing Christian? One day I was talking to a man who was going blind and he was so angry nobody wanted to be around him. He was angry at people but most of all he was angry at God. Now I don't want to blame him because I don't know what I would do if I were going blind.

I think that I'd had some mighty hard days. That's not the reason I tell you the story. It's because he told me in his anger I have always been a self-made man and now I'm going to have to depend upon others and that was the thing that stuck in his craw. Well I think I began to understand a little better as to why God may have blessed him with blindness. God can't use self-made men. God only uses God-made men and God has to take these self-made men and he has to break them and he has to mold them and he has to prune them as we learned last time so that they become fruit bearing Christians and this man if he were to believe it can also yet bear fruit because there's such a thing as bearing fruit in a more public way but there is also bearing fruit in the shade where no one is watching and Jesus said wherever you are you can bear fruit that remains. I love it.

It will not spoil. Now as we look at this passage of scripture you can see here really that the friendship lies at the heart of fulfillment. It is because of our unity with Jesus. It is because he is that friend of sinners.

It lies at the very root of who we are and though friends forsake us Jesus is there as the song reminds us. I think that there are different levels of friendship. First of all we have of course the acquaintance. We sometimes say we have many acquaintances but few friends. An acquaintance is someone whose name you know.

You may know where they work. You may know where they live but you don't really know them. You have no idea and they may not really know you and by the way if all that you have is acquaintances and no friends the Bible does say in Proverbs 18 14 that he who would have friends should show himself friendly. I have to throw this in at no extra cost but sometimes here at the church we receive letters from visitors and some of them say you know we came to Moody Church and it was so cold nobody talked to us.

Maybe the same week I get another letter that says you know we came to Moody Church expecting it to not be friendly because it's so big and we were so surprised so many people talked to us and they made us feel at home and and the whole bit and I'm saying now wait a moment are we talking about the same church or aren't we? You know there's a little poem that says I went out to find a friend but could not find one there. I went out to be a friend and friends were everywhere. So first of all there is the level of acquaintance. Then there is what I call occasional friendship.

That's where you know somebody better but you have to be on your guard because you don't want to reveal everything that's going on inside of you because you fear rejection and so you really don't think that you can share intimately but at least you have some kind of a basis for a relationship. But then we have a full friendship, the friendship that Jesus is talking about here. The friendship where he knows us intimately. We don't know him intimately and maybe this explains why the Bible does not call him a friend as such but he says you are my friends. We don't know him intimately. We should try to as far as we can in this life but we don't know all about him but he knows all about us and it's in that relationship where God comes and says I know you but I love you and I can affirm you which is an example of the friendship that we should have as human beings. It is there that the depth of experience really happens and the fulfillment comes.

We're not alone. We have significance because God loves us and because of that we have the strength now to love others hopefully even as Jesus loved us. Back in 1819 there was a young man who was born actually in that year Joseph Scriven. Joseph was born in Ireland. He had a very good upbringing, very fine family, a Christian family.

The family was quite wealthy. The family had lots of friends and he had a special friend too and he was to be married on a certain day and his fiancé drowned the night before the wedding. He was of course in great grief and eventually went to Canada to a place called Port Hope and he spent the rest of his life actually helping people even without them paying him and so much so that he became known as the Good Samaritan of Port Hope. When his mother became ill and remember now we're talking about the 1800s he could not immediately go to visit her but he sent her a letter of encouragement along with a poem that he had written and someone who looked at the poem said who authored this poem and he said I did and the Lord did.

He said we did it together and you know perhaps when you stop to think of it he might have been right because the poem that he wrote were these words. What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit.

Oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Someone said to me it's wonderful to be saved but there's something even better than being saved. Well you asked the question what could be better than being saved and he said being friends with the one who saved us. Jesus said I no longer call you servants because they don't know what's going on but I have called you friends. I've brought you into intimacy and I've told you everything that the Father has shown me and you are my friends if you do what I command you. Now I have to ask you is there a privilege greater than that?

I can't think of one if there is. Jesus what a friend of sinners. Let's pray together and our Father we want to thank you today for Jesus. We thank you that he was willing to take those who were his enemies and win them over. We thank you that when we were without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly and your word says that when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his son. We thank you for that and thank you that Jesus was able to to bring us in. We thank you that even though he is holy he did not withdraw from us but he puts his arms around us and says you are my friends. Grant oh God that the cultivation of that relationship shall be our lifelong motivation and desire. We pray in Jesus name.

Amen. What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and griefs to bear. I want to emphasize again that the greatest pursuit that you and I can have is to be a friend of Jesus to draw close to him to spend time with him and to know indeed that we have an intimate friendship nothing is greater than that.

I've written a book entitled prepare your heart for an uncertain future. It's actually based on the words of Jesus Christ in the upper room when he talked about friendship when he talked about love when he talked about endurance and peace. I wrote this book to help you in the Christian life especially at a time when we are living with so much anger so much conflict such polarization that we might draw back and realize we can be friends with God and we can be at peace. I believe that this resource will be a great blessing for a gift of any amount it can be yours you go to rtwoffer.com now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 and thanks in advance for helping us running to win us in 20 different countries in four different languages because of people like you.

Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. When is it okay to terminate a long-term friendship? A listener named Laura is wrestling with this issue right now and this is her story. My friend has done some very immoral things over the past couple of years. I know some Christians think I should completely cut off my relationship with her basing their opinion on first Corinthians chapter five where it says to not even eat with such a one.

We don't have the same relationship that we used to but I have a hard time believing that I should cut her off altogether. Pastor Lutzer, what's your view on this? Laura, thank you so much for writing about this and let me simply analyze your letter as it is. First of all, you say that your friend has done some very immoral things.

That seems to me that you're putting it in the past tense and that's very important because you're absolutely right. First Corinthians chapter five says that we should not eat with brothers and sisters, those who claim to be Christians and who at the same time are immoral, greedy, and it has a whole list of other kinds of sins. We should cut ourselves off from them. But in the case of your friend, if she has repented of her sin, if this is in her past, then of course you can continue to meet with her. What Paul had in mind in first Corinthians chapter five is a form of church discipline. What he was saying is is that you cut off fellowship from people because you don't want to give them the impression that you agree with their lifestyle. Now Paul says, of course he's talking about Christians. He's not talking about our relationship with non-Christians. He said, if I were to be speaking about that, then we'd have to go outside of the world. We couldn't have any contact with him because most non-Christians are involved in all of the sins listed there in first Corinthians chapter five.

Laura, here's the bottom line. The reason that Paul said that in first Corinthians five is not because he was uncaring, harsh, or unloving. What he means is that when we cut ourselves off from those who participate deliberately and continually in the sins that he lists, it is a form of discipline. It is our way of telling them that they are on the wrong road and their decision to live that way is very, very serious.

In effect, it jerks their chain as the saying goes. But Laura, don't stop associating with your friend without telling her why. Explain first Corinthians five to her, assuming that she's continuing to live in these kinds of sins. If not, if she isn't, well then indeed befriend her and help her along in her Christian life and the growth that I know God wants her to have.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635, North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. True followers of Christ are not guaranteed an easy road. The world we live in is no friend for a friend of God. We run life's race through a thicket of naysayers and outright enemies. In fact, Jesus said that those who love him would be hated by the world. Next time on Running to Win, how we should respond when we're attacked for just believing in Jesus. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-29 06:41:00 / 2023-04-29 06:49:21 / 8

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