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The Marks of a True Friend - Life of Paul Part 78

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2021 7:00 am

The Marks of a True Friend - Life of Paul Part 78

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Morning, how are you and welcome all you guys down and overflow were so glad you're here about the Bible today. How about opening it with me to ask chapter 20 were going to continue in our study the life of a great man. The apostle Paul. Now you know when boxer Mike Tyson was once asked if he trusted his promoter and closest friend Don King. Here's what he said and I quote he said it all depends what I'm trusted him for" and you know what he was really trying to say, I think, is that there is no friend, you can trust the hundred percent.

I mean, sooner or later. Given when push comes to shove every friend you. God is going to let you down. Now when I look at the apostle Paul today and what were going to see is that he was the kind of friend that Mike Tyson doesn't believe exist and what we want to do is we want to pull out of the example of the apostle Paul want to pull out of that example with the marks of being a great friend really are and then we want to bring all that forward in the 21st century and talk to you and me as followers of Christ. Today is the will. So what difference that make us so that's our game plan and let me give you little bit of background before we did again because it's been a while since we been in Paul's life. Remember that here in acts chapter 20 the apostle Paul is finishing up his third missionary journey. He started that missionary journey. Acts chapter 19 by spending three years in Ephesus he led people to Christ. There he discipled them. He mentored them. He trained them. He got the church there started it on its feet. Then Paul went to grace and visited all the churches that he had started on his second journey collecting money and offering for the poor believers that were living in Jerusalem now here in acts 20 as he approaches the end of his third missionary journey. It's the spring of 57 A.D. Paul is carrying that offering on his way to Jerusalem to give it to the poor believers there that show you a map he's actually working his way from north to south down the western coast of modern-day Turkey pennies arrived at the city of Miletus and as you can see the city of Miletus is very close to Ephesus, where he had spent three years. Not too long before and so when he gets here he sends to the church leaders there in Ephesus the elders about church and they come to Miletus and joining when they do, Paul says, you know, guys, this is the last time your ever going to see my face here on earth. This is it God's told me that and so he gives them a little speech here in acts 20 were he shares with them the principles that that shaped his ministry. And that defined his life.

The wonderful five principles we covered them all were knocking to review them. You get them in our bookstore, but now as we come to the very end of the chapter, the speech is over.

Paul's ready to keep going, and other about to part ways and that's where we pick up the story okay so accepted 20 verse 36 when Paula finished saying all these things, he knelt down and he prayed with them all as we said earlier Paul and these men knew this was going to be the last time they were ever going to see each other on this, but on this earth and it was interesting to me is that instead of going to visit to the saloon and drinking away their last meeting together instead of going to some restaurant and eating away their last meeting together.

Isn't it interesting that Paul and these men went to their knees and they prayed away their last meeting together.

Well, verse 37 and as they were praying. The men began to weep.

Allow then they embrace Paul. Literally, they fell on Paul's neck.

They clung to Paul's neck and they repeatedly testing grieving, especially over his statement that they would never see his face again folks to get the scene here. These guys on the sand on the beach hanging on Paul's neck, kissing him repeatedly him. He doesn't seem business stress seems does it seem a little strange to you coming grown men weeping out loud.

When's the last time you saw that after me when I go to the movies. It's got a sad movie and I start getting choked up.

The man I don't want nobody to see that you know I do. The old suspect in the eyes. Ignore the deep breath, look at the ceiling thing or the sums in my lap thing but main enemy.

What would you know you don't want to body see you as a grown man blubbering and just crying out loud, and even God will blubbering all over each other and how about this grown man hugging and hanging on a man's neck and kissing another man repeatedly. It was a grown man there only three other grown men in the world that I kiss there. My three boys. One album 26 is named Jamie that he hugs and kisses me back. The second one is named Justin.

These 22 well he's gotta get used to the idea and my youngest son John was 19 when I try to kiss any part of me away and says dad that is gay. Well were going to get his mind right before were done on this, but those with only three men in the whole world that I can't allow that. If you're a grown man in your here today. I'll bet you with the exception of your songs and maybe your own father. There's probably not. Another grown man anywhere in the world that you kiss it.

If you do, just stay away from me know I'm just kidding, I'm kidding.

Alright, I'm two, but the point is, this is unusual to see guys doing this and so that it begs the question, and that is how do you explain grown men acting like this post is the answer is real simple. It's not every day that you say goodbye to a friend like the possible. That's why they're acting like this, you see the apostle Paul was was not their mentor.

They didn't regard him as their disciple or they didn't primarily see him as a church planter as a missionary or or is the Grand Prix above the apostles. These people saw Paul as their friend.

He was a friend who love them so deeply in whom they loved back so deeply.

He was a friend was so devoted to them in they would so devoted back to him that this idea that they were parting ways for ever here on this earth. Man it just it broke your heart. Verse 38 then they accompanied us to the ship. Luke writes, and after we had torn ourselves away from them. The Greek word literally here is used when you tear a piece of cloth and hail hallway. You rip the door off the hinges. After we torn ourselves away from them.

Luke says we put out the scene.

I think the reason Lou picked this word.

The word of deep and strong emotion is because Luke wanted us to understand the kind of emotional connection. These men had with the apostle Paul. He was their friend, that's as far as we want to go in our passage however because it's time to ask our most important question you know what that is so want to hear all you guys down and overflow to ready here we go. 123 yeah is a lot so wide say all right. I appreciate this Paul was a friend yada yada well you what differences any of his make to how I live my life tomorrow morning when I walked out of my house. Well, let's talk about that you know folks I don't know if you ever had a friend or two like the apostle Paul in your life for Brendan. I've been fortunate to have a few friends like this and you love them, and you may know these people to a member named Gordon and Sue Langley. They come here to this church. You know years ago. I have a 12-year-old daughter who had was severely mentally retarded, have severe disabilities and 12 years ago when God sent her into our lives. It was without a doubt the deepest waters. The Brendan I ever went through both individually or together. Jill had massive amounts of uncontrollable seizures.

She would often stop breathing during those seizures. I would have to give her CPR waiting for the rescue squad to calmly take us to the hospital. We spend 1 to 3 nights in the ICU. She would in the hospital, we sleep out in the lounge chair in the waiting room. Switching off with one another so that somebody could go home and take a shower and get a little bit asleep and it was at that point in our life. The Gordian Sue, we didn't really know them that well back then they injected themselves into our life, like a Jewish mother. If you understand what I'm saying they would come to the hospital they would take their turn sleeping in the chair so we could go home and get some rest.

They would go to the grocery store and shop for Brenda. They would run errands for us, they would pick our children up after school. If our children needed to go somewhere. We were at the hospital which you know my son Jamie was a student at the Naval Academy at that time and on Sundays if Joe was really doing horrible Sunday afternoon Gordie Woody get his car and He Would Dr., Jamie back to Annapolis for because I couldn't go we were get much sleep back then. Jill was up having seizures all night and we were depressed and we were discouraged and we were exhausted and we would often get a phone call and I would be Gordian. Sue said they would say hey were on our way over would bring in dinner and I want to come over. I want to see anybody you know when you're in the deep black hole.

You don't want anybody coming to see you and so we would go no, no, no, that's okay. Please don't come over. They say tonight were already in the car work on it and they come over to get babysitters for us and forces to go out to dinner and go out to a movie and laugh. You know we were laughing a lot back then and they would cry with us in and they hurt with us and they grieved with us and they prayed with us in. I gotta tell you, on the human level.

I don't know how we would ever made it through those years without Gordon and Sue are still two of our best friends to this day, folks. If you have to. Three or four friends like that in a lifetime. Your blessed woman or a blessed man and and while I was going through all that and I was watching Gordian Sue be our friend. You know God really spoke to my heart you know what he said. He said Malan you know it's great to have friends like this. But honestly what I want you to think about is I want you to think about the fact I want you to be a friend like this and and I learned a lot about how to be a friend from watching how Gordian Sue were friends to us. And you know all they did for us was befriends to us like the apostle Paul was for these people.

If you're here your follower today I want to challenge you got goodness want you to have friends like that God wants you to be a friend like that, the people, so let's talk about that one of the marks of a true friend will the best way I don't answer that question is to look at the example of the apostle Paul. What was it that Paul did that cause these people on the stand down in Miletus. The hugging and kissing and hang on them because they loved him so much what you do to become a friend like that. Somebody well, it's answer I got for suggestions number one true friend number one serves his friends unselfishly. This is the mark of a true friend. Their greatest desire is to serve you nothing you need is ever too much for them to do. If you have a need. It is their true joy to meet your knee and this is precisely the kind of friend of the apostle Paul was to people watch. He talks about the kind of friend he was in Ephesus he says in acts 20 you know how I live the whole time I was with you in Ephesus for three years I minister to you publicly in house to house with tears. I did not covet your silver or your goal rather these hands of mind supplied not only my own needs but the needs of all my companions.

What's Paul saying it's a look, my only goal. When I was in Ephesus was to serve you and to do it unselfishly desolate. I look out we had conducted himself there.

He wrote the Thessalonians, and said we loved you so much that we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel message, but our own lives. Also, because you would become so dear to us. Surely you remember our toil in our hardship. How we work night and day so as not to be a financial burden to you and to the Corinthians, Paul Roden said. For we do not preach ourselves, but we preach Jesus Christ as Lord and Norway. Paul says we present ourselves as your servants for Jesus to say see folks everywhere Paul went. This is how we treated people. Paul only knew one way to be a friend and the way he was a friend as he served with all of his heart unselfishly with everything he had any him because he believed this is what true friends for that. Sometimes when friends do this for us. You know what they can service so unselfishly they can serve us so devotedly that it actually makes you feel guilty, you actually start feeling like my gosh you look at all these persons doing for me.

I need to do some bad for them.

We felt that way with Gordian Sue. In fact, I started trying to do stuff to repay them.

You know, for all the things they were doing for us and I'll never forget one time Sue came up to me and said what are you doing and that's what I'm trying to pay you back for all the stuff that you've done for us and she said to me, lawn. We love you guys. Nobodies keep in score while now that's a real friend a true friend. They don't keep score. They just love you unselfishly just serve number two true friend second mark of a true friend. A true friend tells you the truth, even when you don't want to hear in Galatians chapter 4 Paul wrote the Galatians and said I have.

I now become your enemy because I told you the truth, though the Galatian believers were being drawn away in the theological error. Paul love them enough to tell them the truth. It's pretty obvious they didn't like hearing the truth from what he says here but Paul understood that a true friend is a person who will tell you the truth where they want to hear it or not, even if is not popular will tell you the truth, you know he did that same thing with Peter, Galatians, chapter 2, tells the story Paul writes and says when Peter came to Antioch he would eat with the Gentile believers they are.

But when the Jewish believers from Jerusalem showed up. Peter began to separate himself from the Gentiles out of fear for the Jewish believers because of Peter's example many other Jewish believers including Barnabas joined him in this hypocrisy what it Paul do watch.

Paul said, so I opposed Peter to his face in the presence of everyone in the whole church because he was clearly in the wrong while I tell you I would've loved to been a fly on the wall and watch that happen. Can you imagine the apostle Paul standing nose to nose with the apostle Peter and saying to him, you are correct you are afraid all this is so wrong what you were doing man I love to be there and see the need to and you say that some else on. I'll bet their relationship never recovered but it was never the same again.

Oh, you're wrong as a matter fact later in his life Peter wrote in second Peter chapter 3 and referred to Paul is my beloved brother Paul and you know why because Peter was smart enough to know we had a true friend, Peter realize that a true friend is a person who loves you so much that they're willing to risk hurting you in the short run to tell you truth that would keep you from getting hurt even worse in the long can I repeat that a true friend in the short run will tell you something that hurts because there really concerned you don't get hurt worse in the long run if they don't tell you now as I said I've been blessed to have a few of these kind of friends in my life and one of them was the chairman of our board of elders for 10 years, a fellow named Glicksman click was a retired Maj. Gen. as you know, earlier this year, went to be with the Lord we would meet usually once a week for breakfast. Sometimes once every other week and we always met at the same place and that was at the Fairview Marriott for breakfast and we would often be sitting there, we just get to get started and click would say to me he looked me right in the eyes, and he say now lawn you know I love you.

And when he would say that I say oh here comes man batten down the hatches I will get it now. He would say to me lawn you know I love you but and then he would proceed to tell me what he felt like I needed to know. Now many of the times what he would tell me her friends. Many of the times many of us on what he would tell me I did not want to hear but let me tell you something I listened anyway and I took it to heart, and you know why because I know click was telling me the truth.

This man really did love this man really was a true friend and he was such a true friend that he was willing to tell me things nobody else was willing to tell because he knew I needed to hear. If you're here today and you're benefiting from McLean Bible church the way it is today. If you're here today in the ministry. McLean Bible churches help in your life you need to understand that one of the reasons McLean Bible churches where it is today is because of the many mistakes I never made because I had a friend like Glicksman telling me the truth. Breakfast you need understand that the credit then go to me on the human level goes to him saying no no you don't owe no you don't. Not at this church you go now while I am the chairman of the board at this church you go and you know what he was right, friends, is what Proverbs 27 means when it says faithful are the wounds of of a friend, sometimes to be a true friend that person's doctor wound but you know what those wounds are faithful they love you in the telling you something you need to hear. That's what a true friend us third. A true friend. Third is loyal, you know these Ephesian church leaders had seen Paul display this right there in Ephesus and ask 19 if you remember there was a huge mob that broke out. They started looking for Paul.

He couldn't find it so. The Bible says. Soon the whole city was in an uproar.

The model sees Gaius and Aristarchus his companions instead and they dragged them into the theater and when Paul wanted to go appear before the crowd, the disciples would let even when he insisted some of the city officials who were friends of Paul even sent him a message begging him not to venture into that theater. Here's a picture of the theater in Ephesus exceeded about 25,000 people. When Paul was there and Paul tried to run down to that they are not friends in that theater. The scene was ugly was a mob down there. Paul is even going into that theater. His wife would've been in serious jeopardy. You say will want a world any keep trying to go for simple.

His friends were there and Paul understood that when you got a friend in trouble. It doesn't matter if you put yourself in harms way you go to your friends a Paul understood that a true friend doesn't talk about you when you're not around. A true friend doesn't sacrifice you in order to advance themselves.

A true friend stands with you regardless of the cost of a true fit friend is willing to suffer personal loss, rather than betray you or dessert you a true friend is loyal and this isn't just true in the big things of life like mom's. It's even more true in the little things of life.

Sometimes the place where we can be most loyal to people is not in the big events, but in the everyday affairs of life. You know, years ago, he still my friend David years ago my friend was here in Washington. His name is Dick William and he ran channel 20 television here in Washington and then he moved out to Seattle to run a station out there and Dick was coming back into town for Allied seating in a few months he called ahead of time and we decided we would play golf together. Well, you know where wonderful golfing companions because he's really good and I love golfing with him because I love watching and I'm really bad so he always beats me somewhere wonderful. Really. And so we decided we were going to go out together and as I was walking out of the house.

No lot going out the door to our teatime. The phone rang and it was a lady from CNN international. She got the phone number here for my secretary to call me home and said we are doing a saw a show tonight on whatever you some subject and she said we want you to be on the show as it would just out of curiosity where is the show going to be broadcast and she said all over the world should really she said yeah she said but you gotta be down here in the next hour. We need you at the studio in Washington in the next hour will folks I wouldn't have even had time to play nine holes of golf with my friend and make that only tell you what I would've done years before I would've called up Dickinson Dixon came up with the last minute.

I'm sorry and I would rush down Washington get my name in lights and everybody know who Lon Solomon was but you know God teaches you things over the years, friends, and I realize you don't do that to your friends and so I said to this lady on the phone. I said, I'm really sorry I can't do it. I have a previous engagement and she said why the previous engagement. Could you possibly have that wouldn't be worth changing to go on worldwide television as well. If you honestly must know I'm playing golf with my friend when seen a couple months and the phone was silent and she said you're playing golf. I said no I'm playing golf with my friend and I don't tank my friends to come be on CNN and you know what, let me just say let me just say it was a what was wonderful. We went playing. He shot great. I shot awful. It was perfect.

It was a great day. But you know I learned the hard way. This is what friends do their loyal to each other, even in the little things like this is what a true friend is all about, and you might have a lot. I understand that the friends are loyal to but you know which salon I got a question I really need help with this. What if your friend is done something wrong, like what if your friend is done something really simple. What if your friend is been convicted of, like criminal activity or something. I mean how do you remain loyal to a friend that is done something like that because I'm not sure how to do that to me. What if you were Sam wax old friend from ImClone or what if you were Andrew fast) from Enron or what if you were Martha's friend like how would you stay loyal to them in light of the fact they been convicted in court of criminal activity where his loyalty and where is disloyalty. When you got a person in that situation.

Well, that's a great question. So let's answer when there's a person who's done something clearly sinful, clearly wrong in your office in your school in your family in your neighborhood. What is loyalty mean. Let me tell you it means number one that we don't condone their behavior is not disloyal to say to your friend what you did was wrong.

That is not disloyal.

Number two, we don't buy into their excuses. It is not disloyal to say to your friend Laura. I don't want to hear all of your completely lame excuses you know what you did what you did was wrong. Now suck it up and accept responsibility for your actions. That is not disloyal.

Loyalty means third that we do however stick with our friend, were not afraid to be seen with him in public were not afraid to be identified with them were still there friend and finally that we love them even as they face the consequences of what they did we walk with them through it and we try to bring enough perspective. Even as they're going through that that those consequences so that they could end up becoming better people, more godly people at the end of the whole process. That's what it means to be a friend to somebody who's clearly done something wrong and that leads me to my fourth and final point, which is the true friends love people on conditionally.

A true friend can see you at your lowest, ugliest point, a true friend you can bleed all over you can unload your frustrations. One of you can hurt all over that person. You can complain to them. You can expose your deepest weaknesses and vulnerabilities to them and you know what a true friend on think any less of you. You don't have to perform a certain way for a true friend to love you. You don't have to meet any stipulations for true friend.

Love you friends. They just love and you know that's how the apostle Paul was.

I think of the church at Corinth killed the church at Corinth when it comes to godly behavior. The church at Corinth was a nuclear fallout zone. They were terrible. They had more problems and you can shake a stick at.

They had schisms in jealousies and arrogance. They were taken one another to secular court that a man in the church who was sleeping with his stepmother and everybody knew it in the church. Another thing about it a disaster.

And yet, even though the apostle Paul rebuked their behavior.

He never withdrew his love for most people listen to what he wrote and said he said my heart is open.

Why do you will Corinthians.

I'm not withholding affection from you because of the way you're behaving you are in my heart to God together and live together. I will very gladly spend for you. Everything I have and be expended for your soul. Now this is a great friend even when you're at your worst. Even when you do the ugliest stuff you can possibly imagine.

You know what they love you anyway. Now it's important for me to tell you that I never had a friend like this till I was 21 years old. That explains why I was such a disaster zone emotionally in such a mess with 21 never had a friend like this.

The first friend I ever had, who met all four of these criteria. We talked about was Jesus Christ. When I invited him into my life at the age of 21 for the first time in my life. I had a true friend and in the last 33 years he's been the truest friend you could ever match. That's why the Bible says that he's a friend that sticks closer than a brother and I gained a few human friends that are like this since in those 33 years, but it all started with the Lord Jesus.

He was my first real friend and maybe you're here today and as I go through this list of four things you look at it you go you know what I don't have a single person in the world who qualifies as my friend based on that list. Well, that's all right. I got great news for you. You can have a friend like that because when you open your heart and life up to Jesus Christ. You don't just get eternal life.

You don't just get a place in heaven.

Friend you, you did the truest friend that the world can never know if you need a friend like that, but I got a piece of advice to you open up your heart and asked Jesus to come in and you'll get one so let's review what we learned today what we learned.

A true friend number one is a person who serves others.

His friends unselfishly number two were true friend tells her friends. The truth even when I don't want to hear it. Number three. A true friend is loyal even when you mess up their still loyal to you and number three and number four rather true friend loves his friends unconditionally and I got to challenges, limited to two challenges as we close today but I want to give you, so what did they are challenge number one is if you got a friend or two like this I want you to go home and get out a piece of paper I want to go home and get on the telephone. I want to go home and send an email and say to that friend. You know what, I got a brand-new appreciation, new and fresh for what a great blessing you are to have a friend like you Chris.

Let me tell you something a friend like this is a blessing to have somebody like this in your life and the second challenge I got for you is to walk out of here asking yourself the question, and that is it is this account of friend I am to other people.

If I want to go into your workplace and read off this list.

These four characteristics of being a true friend.

If I read this list often your workplace. My question is is there a single person in your workplace who would say oh yeah that Susie oh yeah, that's Jimmy. If I went into your school and read this list all we went to your family or to your neighbors and we read this list. Is there a single person anywhere who would think of you when they heard this list folks. If there isn't, I think that's a problem because you know all Paul was doing and being a great friend. As he was just copying Jesus. He was just imitating the conference.

Jesus was in it were followers of Christ. This is the kind of friend. God wants us to be the people not so we can pat ourselves on the back and say are we wonderful people but because this is how we build platforms to bring Jesus Christ to barrel people saw. So if nobody would think of your name and the question I want you to ask is all right. So what am I gonna do about Mike and ask the Holy Spirit to help me in my going to change the way I relate to people.

I hope so because I want you. God want you to be a true friend to others.

Just the way the apostle Paul was true friend of these when you have your funeral. We wanted to be crowded and stand what I'm saying we want to be crowded because there are people there feel about you. The way the apostle Paul had these guys feel about. That's pretty heavenly father. Thanks for talking to us today about friendship and I pray that you would challenge everyone of us here to take to heart what we've seen help us understand all the apostle Paul was doing and being a true friend. He was just imitating you more. We pray that you would help us imitate Paul as he imitates you, Lord, I pray that you would change the way we live and change the way we relate to people around us because of our time with the word of God this morning and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen

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