September 4

Proverbs 27: 6; 9 – 10; 17 (NLT)

“Wounds from a sincere friend
    are better than many kisses from an enemy.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense.
10 Never abandon a friend—
    either yours or your father’s.
When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. 
   It’s better to go to a neighbour than to a brother who lives far away.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Friends are amazing! What would we ever do without them?

In this pandemic time, when we are so shut in and not meeting in groups, having a friend we can connect with saves the day. Even connecting by Zoom or Messenger – or whatever device you have – is much better than talking by phone. There is something about being able to see each other that boosts our spirits. After the weather warmed up in the spring, meeting outside while we kept distancing rules, was such a boost to the soul. Even neighbours stared chatting while gathering in spaced groups at the end of our driveways.

Solomon talks about how friends can encourage us and help us grow into the people God intends. A friend can give us “heartfelt counsel”. A friend can “sharpen” us. So many times over the years, especially at work as a teacher, I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. Was I connecting with the students in a way that helped them learn? Were my lessons interesting enough? It was so good to have teacher-friends where I worked, who told me they thought my ideas were great. Or they told me some new ideas to try? Or they would reply to a suggestion I was making that they had tried it, and it flopped. As a teacher, I knew I improved because I had friends on staff.

As a young mom, I had friends who I met with for Bible study a couple of times a month. Having that group of friends where I learned to grow In my faith was so helpful. The fact that we could be honest about our stresses as moms and wives with each other, also helped us be better moms and partners. We learned so much from each other. This fall as the pandemic rules allow us to meet in small groups, think about starting a small group with friends who will encourage you to grow.

Over the years doing volunteer work, I’ve met people who have become friends. As I watched others work their heads off helping whatever cause we were volunteering for, I learned how valuable volunteers are. I learned so much from listening to the experiences of those volunteers – things I later could apply to my life.

Friends are also great when you don’t live close to family. Solomon talks about the importance of friends in that situation. “When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbour than to a brother who lives far away.” My husband and I lived far from our families, and our kids as they grew up took off for far-flung places too. (no surprise since we did that too). There were moments of crisis when friends came to the rescue, and we appreciated that so much.

My husband was my best friend. He saw me at my very worst – when I was losing it and being really nasty. He saw me make mistakes because I wouldn’t listen to good advice. Thankfully, he also saw me at my best. But he was such an encourager. He kept telling me I could do something when I was sure I couldn’t. He was the one that persuaded me that living in Kenya for close to a year at a mission station would be something our family could do. A partner who pushes you when you are afraid and reluctant is a friend who “sharpens” you, and one I’m so glad I had.

Even better, our very best friend is God. He knows us inside out, he knows our thoughts, he knows what we’ve done, and still loves us.
“For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
(Romans 5: 10 – 11 NLT)

We mess up, but God doesn’t abandon us. We can go to him and ‘fess up’, and he is willing to forgive us and keep on encouraging us. The Holy Spirit lives within us and helps us to grow in our faith. He is the one who produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” in us. (Galatians 5: 22 – 23 NLT)

Reread these verses from Proverbs:

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Isn’t God our very best friend?

Our song for today is What a Friend by Matt Maher

One Reply to “September 4”

  1. “What a Friend we have in Jesus” by Alan Jackson is my favourite. An old time version. Thank you for these devotions. Much needed.

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