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7/07/16 Friends You Can Trust

       “Make sure that you are where I want you to be, and with whom I have planned for you to be. It is paramount for the work of your ministry. In the coming times, I will require you to move in My direction and My direction alone, not sidetracked by fleshly emotions and fears. Sometimes, there will be little time to hesitate, when specific directions are given. Controversy between you and those that are with you will be costly. Indecision could be life threatening. Before these times come, you need to cultivate friendships that you can trust. Remember “holy alliances.” As I join you with those who are put together for specific tasks, I will tailor a common heart, so that you can move swiftly and decisively when necessary. In those times, My supernatural power and My wisdom for the moment will be instant and clear to those who have learned to listen to My heart.

       "Start seeking your companions for reasons other than surface pleasure. Begin to see the nature of others as I see them. Are they looking only for My life to be developed in them? Do they see My kind of integrity as mandatory if they are followers of Jesus? Are they aware of the times and seasons in which they live? Are the priorities for their lives lined up with My Word? Are they trustworthy? These character traits will make the difference between a smooth implementation of My plans, and times of confusion and discord that will waste much needed moments.

       "Start to ask Me who your friends should be. Let Me bring proper associations to you. When I do, cultivate all interactions to be in line with My Word. Make it your priority to be obedient to Me and to glorify My Name. I will then be present in all that you do.” 

Acts 15:36-40 AMP 

36) And after some time Paul said to Barnabas, Come, let us go back and again visit and help and minister to the brethren in every town where we made known the message of the Lord, and see how they are getting along.

37) Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark [his near relative].

38) But Paul did not think it best to have along with them the one who had quit and deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work.

39) And there followed a sharp disagreement between them, so that they separated from each other, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

40) But Paul selected Silas and set out, being commended by the brethren to the grace (the favor and mercy) of the Lord.

 

So much for unity for the sake of unity. Wimpy, self-serving relationships work for church socials, but when you are about the business of God, the reliability and integrity of those associated with you are very important.

I had the privilege of observing a former gang member scrutinize a fellowship to which I had brought him, while he was making his decision to follow the Lord. I don’t remember his exact words after he met and talked with some of the people, but they were not something I had ever heard before. He inquired as to why he would ever hang around with anyone in that church, stating that none seemed to have enough integrity to be relied upon if he was ever in need.

You see, he had lived with people who had covenanted to be “for” each other in times of need, no matter what the cost. He stated that he knew hundreds of people, some who didn’t even know his name, who - without hesitation - would actually die for him if they were called upon to do so. They were in covenant, one to another, because of their code.

When he observed the church, he could see only surface relationships and empty, hollow greetings of acceptance. (By the way, this man was pointed to Jesus, not people, and serves Him now. He is one of the most trustworthy friends I have ever met. I have observed his life and have learned much from him and one other friend, also a former gang member, who preceded him to the Lord. Few people have the character qualities of these two friends.)

The church knows little about honest relationships with each other and, therefore, few people stand with unquestioned love towards the other in times of need. We shoot our wounded and choose our friends for all the wrong reasons. That will no longer suffice, if we are to move with God in the coming times.

Paul understood the importance of trustworthy relationships in the season that he was called to proclaim God’s Word. To him it was important enough to separate himself from Barnabas, so that he could rely on all his partners in the work that he was called to do. I believe that discernment of God’s kind of character in those with whom we associate will be most critical in times to come. Each of us must pray for the wisdom to choose our friends wisely and separate ourselves from those who serve only themselves and live to fulfill their own needs. The work of the Lord will count on our ability to do so. 

Needing the character of Jesus to discern proper character,

Jim Corbett