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Close Encounters

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 (HCSB)

Series Focus: “Along the Way”

If you’ve been following our Hope Posts, you know we just completed our “Coffee Talk” series, where we explored the various characteristics of friendship. God created us for relationships. In our friendships, we navigate through and express Forgiveness, Rejoicing, Intentionality and Integrity, Encouragement, Nurturing, Delightfulness and Defense. FRIEND.

The perfect model for these characteristics is Jesus. Oh, what a friend we have in Him! My mind drifts to the lyrics of the old hymn, and my soul hums that familiar tune:

What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

The last verse sings:

Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Jesus is our very best friend forever. He endured the cross for us; carried our shame; bore our sin; and suffered our sorrows. He knows our weaknesses, our mistakes, our regrets, and our pain. In all of that, He still loves, forgives, nurtures, and defends us. He delights in us when we come to Him in prayer, in surrender, and in fellowship with Him.

Looking past the horror of the cross, Jesus rejoiced as He saw us forever free, pure, and together with Him on the other side of His suffering. Every step He took on earth completed purpose. Every connection He made was intentional. Every word He spoke released truth into the lives of those who heard. Every encounter with Him provided deliverance.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) states:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Through the pain, suffering, and hard places of His journey, Jesus saw the joy before Him and endured. He focused on the greater purpose, the promise kept, the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan, and the lives transformed by close encounters with Him.

We all impact the lives of others. None of us are an island. We can choose, like Jesus,  to set our minds, hearts, souls, and spirits on the joy before us and positively affect the lives of others. Or we can harbor and sulk in selfish sorrows. Today, we encourage you to hold fast to the hope we have in Jesus. Focus on His example and be a blessing to others as you journey the established path for you.

Jesus showed us what it means to bless others and be a friend at all times. Join us for the next several weeks as we explore the encounters embraced as He journeyed along His way—always seeing the joy set before Him.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: John 15:11-17; Hebrews 6:17-20, 12:1-2; Ephesians 2:4-10, 5:1-2


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