{December 3, 2017}

 

December 3 – 9, 2017

 

How He Loves: Friendship

By Michael Maybee

How do you know someone is your friend? I mean a real friend, not a casual acquaintance, a “fair weather” friend, or someone you know only through work. Every person will likely answer that differently. For some it is measured in shared beliefs, opinions, and interests. For some it is measured in time spent together. For some it will be in the things others have done for them. However you measure it, you know real friendship when you find it, don’t you?

How do you experience Jesus’ friendship? Can you describe a specific experience of His friendship? Those answers will be similarly varied. Allow me to share just a couple of my own.

Once, when riding my motorcycle, I sat impatiently waiting for the traffic light to turn from red to green. I had every intention of racing away the instant the light changed. A heartbeat before popping the clutch out, this thought entered my mind, “That’s probably not such a good idea.” So I hesitated as the car in the lane to my left entered the intersection only to slam on his brakes and barely miss getting T-boned by a car that ran the red light. Now some may read this story and scoff at the idea that Jesus had anything to do with it. I choose to believe He displayed His friendship clearly that day by giving advice for which I didn’t ask, and for which I am very grateful.
Jesus knows exactly what we need and when. Sometimes we need specific instruction. Sometimes not so much.

Another time, faced with a very important decision, I turned to Him for counsel. I was surprised and a little disappointed that my repeated requests seemed to be falling on deaf ears. I got nothing, zilch, de nada in the way of an answer. Ever happen to you? I persisted and finally got this impression. (I am not claiming to have ever heard the audible voice of God, though I believe some have and do.) “Michael, I don’t care what path you choose to walk in this matter. What I care about is how you walk the path you choose. Walk it in such a way as to honor me, and I will be there beside you every step of the way.” Perhaps if you are getting no response to your questions of God, He is saying He believes in you and just wants to be invited to share the adventure.

However you experience Jesus’ friendship, I pray that you do in fact experience it. I pray that you know that you know that He sees you, hears your cries—be they cries for help, of pain, of joy—and knows just exactly how you feel. And I pray that you will turn to Him in friendship and love.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24

{sunday 12.3.17}

Read Psalm 16:7-11, Psalm 32:8-10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In what ways have you/do you experience Jesus as “wonderful counselor,” as a friend? How or where do you need His friendship most in this season of your life? Friendship is a two-way street. How are you demonstrating your friendship to Him?

 

{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE to check out The Journey Continues: Revelation 5-7 from our own Seth Davidson.

{monday 12.4.17}

Read Revelation 6:9-7:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: When the fifth seal of John’s vision is opened we see faithful people being persecuted and asking God how long until he ends the chaos. As NT Wright writes from their perspective, "The game has become so stupid and complicated, with so many crazy people doing so many idiotic things, with so much suffering and pain and anger and violence – isn’t it time, they think, for him to step in and do something?" I feel this way often myself when I see and hear what’s going on in the world. I’ve heard my grandparents say the same thing, too. It appears to be timeless to feel this way. Do you or have you ever felt this way yourself? What do you see or hear that brings up this feeling/question? How will you keep moving forward not knowing when God will make the next move?

{tuesday 12.5.17}

Read Revelation 7:9-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In reference to this scripture NT Wright says, "Yes, God is rightly angry with those who deface his beautiful creation and make the lives of their fellow humans miserable and wretched. But the reason he is angry is because, at his very heart, he is so full of mercy that his most characteristic action is to come down from the throne and, in person, wipe away every tear from every eye." We see that God is grand and all powerful but we also see him one on one and very intimately. What in life has caused you to cry that you need God to personally wipe away your tears?

{wednesday 12.6.17}

Read Revelation 8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The sudden silence after the seventh seal is broken in John’s vision tells us that something huge is going to happen. Like the moment we’re all the birds stop chirping before a huge storm rolls in, but on a scale like we’ve never experienced. In this case there is more awe and wonder than fear. Like when something so amazing and beautiful happens that it leaves you speechless. This silence means something. Take 30 minutes and be still in silence and imagine the rest of the world standing in silence with you looking towards the heavens at the creator of all things.

{thursday 12.7.17}

Read Revelation 9:1-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This is the kind of writing that horror stories and nightmares are made out of! NT Wright says, "…as with the plagues of Egypt, so we must assume that the aim here is to challenge the inhabitants of the earth to repent." We must keep in mind that this is a vision of John’s and that literal context is not assumed. Repent is one of those words we all know but maybe can’t fully define. On more than one occasion Pastor Dan has expressed repentance as not only understanding that the wrong thing we have done is wrong, but turning away from it. An action of going away from that thing or action that was wrong. I can promise you that if I saw this "crazy man torturing armor plated death locust" that John describes coming my way, I’d be turning away and running. You’d be amazed at how fast a bug guy like myself would move if this nightmarish locust appeared! Imagine if this crazy creature was a physical image of your sins. Would it be easier to turn away from that?

{friday 12.8.17}

Read Revelation 9:12-21

Observe, Reflect, Apply: NT Wright says about this scripture, "The fact that this vision follows immediately the horrible sight of the massive, torturing locusts remind us again, if we needed it, that these are symbolic visions , drawing now on one lurid horror-fantasy, now on another, to present the image of escalating terror and torture." If the death locust weren’t enough to give you nightmares maybe this hellish scene will get you there! When someone starts repeating and escalating their threats you probably get the sense that they are serious about what they’re trying to warn you about. I know my kids don’t listen the first time I warn them nicely and with kindness in my voice. It takes me telling them multiple times and the niceness disappearing and the "asking" turns into "telling" before they do what I want. It’s obviously important to God that we understand how he feels about our sin. He’s willing to scare the crap out of us with imagery in this scripture to do so. Is there sin in your life that you have not or can not turn away from yet? Find someone that you feel comfortable confiding with. Ask them for their help. Ask them to pray with you about it.

{saturday 12.9.17}

Read Revelation 10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In regards to this chapter, NT Wright says, "Eating the scroll is a vivid metaphor for the way in which the prophet, then or indeed today, can only speak God’s word insofar as it has become part of the prophet’s own life…. This is part of what it means to say that God desires to act in the world through obedient human beings." If someone is giving me advice, the first thing I want to understand is how following this advice themselves has helped them. If the person has not followed their own advice their credibility on the issue is no longer valid in my mind. I think most people feel this same way. Do you prefer those advising you to have experience and credibility? How do you judge if the advisor is credible? Do you give advice to other people? What do you do when they want advice on something you aren’t experienced with?

 

{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?

 

{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.

 

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© 2017 Heartland Community Church 12175 S. Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062 (913) 341-5820.

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