“Starting The Year Out Right”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 19 Issue 02 January 11, 2009

II Corinthians 9:6-15 But this [I say], He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver. And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He has dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remains for ever. Now he that ministers seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men]; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Genuine stewardship is not one thing, but several things which work together.

Stewardship exercises a Choice: v6 We are all stewards. The choice is, do you want to be a good steward or a poor steward? We are given the privilege to make decisions that directly effect our financial lives. Do you see it in verse 6?

This is one of God’s laws of harvest.
1: We Will Reap Only If We Sow.
2: We Will Reap What We Sow.
3: We Will Reap More Than We Sow.
4: We Will Reap In Proportion To What We Sow.
5: We Reap Later Than We Sow.
6: We Will Reap.
7: We Reap Because God Gives the Increase.
Law #4: We Will Reap In Proportion To What We Sow.

II Corinthians 9:6 "sow sparingly reap sparingly; sow bountifully reap bountifully."

The more you sow, the more you reap. The more seed you plant, the greater your harvest. Paul isn’t talking about agriculture - he’s talking about finances. God leaves how much we plant up to us, but He promises to bless everything we plant. That’s our choice.

Stewardship expresses a Cheerfulness

II Corinthians 9:7 begins, "Every man . . ." The appeal to give is for every one.

You may have heard some one pray, "Lord, bless those who can give and those who cannot."

That may sound good, but it's not Scriptural. "Every man" that is a Christian should give, “according as he purposes". There is the idea of choice again.

You might be thinking, "What if I don't want to give?"

Then you ought to pray for a new "want to."

Do you think you will impoverish God by not giving?

Will you hinder God's cause by not giving?

Actually, you only impoverish yourself when you choose not to give.
". . . in his heart." Now follow the progression of this Scripture. Every person who is a Christian who chooses to give should consecrate his gift to God. God is not only interested in what's in your hand, but what's in your heart!

It's not just the amount, it is also attitude.

". . . so let him give." It is one thing to choose to give but it is all but useless if you don’t carry through by actually giving!

Once the heart and mind are joined on giving a certain amount the hands are to take hold of that money and give it.

". . . not grudgingly, or out of necessity."
". . . For God loves a cheerful giver."

The word "cheerful" means "hilarious."

Can you even imagine that kind of giving?

Can you imagine how many people would actually be awake during the offering if some broke loose with a "hallelujah" or a "praise the Lord"?

All too often the deadest part of the service is the offering.

But what kind of salvation did you receive from the Lord? It was the "happy kind," if God gave it. You didn't have much, but you were happy. You didn't know much, but you were happy.

"God loves a cheerful giver," but He’ll take from a grump!
Stewardship brings a Completeness: v8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you...” Do you believe that?

There is a wonderful illustration of this in
II Kings 4:1-7 The story is of a prophet’s widow who was bankrupt. The creditors were about to sell her two sons as slaves. Elisha asked her what she had of value and she said only a vessel of oil. It was likely a memento of the oil that was used to anoint her husband at the beginning of his ministry. Elisha told her to go to her neighbors and borrow as many vessels as she would, with very specific instruction not to borrow just a few.

She filled her house with these borrowed vessels. And then the prophet told her to pour out her oil into those vessels. She did and kept pouring until all the vessels were full. Elisha then said, "Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and have your family live of the rest."

There was the first door-to-door recycling lady!

Getting out of debt freed her and restored her testimony to her creditors. She would live off of the rest and her children’s needs would also be met.

What a great God we serve who takes care of all our needs!

Stewardship exhibits Contentment v9-15.

Do you see the flow of this passage?
What begins with a choice and is carried our with cheerfulness becomes our completion and results in genuine contentment.

John Maxwell tells the story of a woman he once pastored by the name of Helen Douglas. She was a poor woman who lived in government housing. Her old car was covered with bumper stickers. Maxwell says he used to say to her, "Helen, if you peel off one bumper sticker the whole car will fall apart."

Even though she didn’t have much money, she was faithful to the church. When time came to raise a great deal of money for a new building, the church held prayer meetings every morning at 6 a.m. Helen was always there, waiting for the doors to be opened. She prayed, wept, and fasted asking God to supply their needs.

Finally, when the day of the big offering came, she let the plate pass her by.
God spoke to her heart, "Helen, why didn’t you give?" She said, "Lord, I’m a poor lady. I don’t have anything to give." The Lord said, "Give all you’ve got."

She dug in her purse and came up with a handful of loose change. She put it is an offering envelope and wrote on it, "It’s all I have."

After the service, she gave it to Pastor Maxwell. He tried to give it back to her. She said, "No this is my gift to God." He took it home and opened it. It was $3.30.

That evening, the church was packed because everyone wanted to hear how much the big offering had been. Once everyone settled down, Pastor Maxwell said, "I want to tell you about the largest gift given today." He then shared the story of Helen Douglas. One of the men stood up and said, "That’s the greatest story of stewardship I’ve ever heard. I want one of the coins from that envelope to remind me. I’ll give you $10 for one." Then someone else did the same. Suddenly a spirit of giving came over the church and for the next 30 minutes people sat down and wrote checks and brought them to the front. Some went back and wrote as many as three checks. The smallest gift of all become the largest gift in the history of that church. Stewardship is God’s pathway to blessings.

“Shake Before Using”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 19 Issue 01 January 4, 2009

Deuteronomy 32:11 “As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings....”

Perhaps not very much of a Scripture reading, but it certainly is the Word of the Lord. There is enough here that God will no doubt show us something over the next 20-30 minutes. If we have the right attitude I know it will cause us to grow in Jesus.

Fellow climbers as we enter this new year, I need you to understand that the Word of God is...
· Healing to you if you receive it as healing
· Pardon to you if you receive it as a pardon
· Every blessing is yours if you receive it as God wrote it

“As the eagle stirs her nest, flutters over her young, takes them on her wings and bears them….” What a beautiful picture of how God deals with his people!

There are at least seven stages that a young eagle goes through when learning to fly. As we talk about them, see if you can find what stage you are at?

The seven stages are: Demonstration, Discomfort, Danger, Decision, Direction Change, Doing and Deliverance.

1. The Demonstration Stage
When it is time for a young eagle to begin flight training, the mother eagle will frequently push off from the perch where the nest is and hover above her young. The little eaglets begin to flap their wings in imitation. Although they don't have enough feathers to fly, they begin to develop their wing muscles.

Consider what God has done for us through His Son. Jesus came to earth demonstrating the faith life for us to follow.

Romans 5:8 “God demonstrated his love towards us.”

John 13:34, 15:12 “Love one another; as I have loved you.”
God has never left us to figure things out on our own.

He cares enough to give us a full blown living demonstration..... Jesus!

2. The Discomfort Stage
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest… It's one thing for those young eagles to flap their wings in the security of their down-filled home. It's quite another for them to move to the edge, look over and imagine stepping out on to nothing!

Naturally, they don't want to do it.

So the adult eagle does something the eaglets won't understand until much later. She begins “stirring up” the nest! She actually begins to tear the nest apart. The young eagles are literally poked out and forced to fly.

In our faith-life, this stage is when we begin to be bothered about something. We sense that something is wrong.

Like Job in Job 30:27, we might say, “My heart is troubled and restless.” Spiritually we become aware of a new level or step we should be taking.

The trouble is, like the eaglet, we too are reluctant to move out of our comfort zone.

It is so much easier to “stay in the nest”, to continue just attending church.

But hey, God never sent His Son to die for us so we can attend meetings. Yes, the Bible warns us not to forsake our assembling together, but there is more.

It wasn’t the disciples meeting in the upper room that turned the world upside down.
It was when the disciples spilled out into the streets and started living God’s Love in sandal leather.

God knows He has to stir up our nest, making us uncomfortable. There is a good reason they call most church seats “pews”.

Unfortunately most of us are like certain medicines. We have small print on our souls that states, “Shake before using!”

Why does God have to shake us? It is too often the only way He can prepare us for change.

Do you know what I mean?

Sadly, some people live their entire lives in this Discomfort Stage. They cling to their nest (church chair or pew) like terrified eagle chicks, afraid to do anything about their problem.

They'd rather live with discomfort than risk the unknown thing called “flying”.

Sadly we get stalled in our discomfort. Our reluctance to change forces God to bring us to the next stage.

3. The Danger Stage
Can you imagine a full grown eagle perched in the nest of its parents, peeping like a baby begging for something to eat?

But eagles weren't meant to be nest-sitters, they are to fly!

We weren’t meant to be church goers, we are called to be the church! Because He loves us, God allows a danger or a crisis to come into our lives that moves the issue we're ignoring off the back burner.
He sends us a wake up call.

All of a sudden the situation gets so bad we can't ignore it anymore.

We get fired or are set back by an accident or serious illness. The pain becomes unbearable.

Our spouse threatens to walk out or a creditor starts foreclosure.

Like the eagle's nest, the bottom falls out from under our lives and we realize we've got to do something…. something fast!

It happened to King David. Look at what he says in Psalm 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.”

An affliction was needed to show David that it was important to keep God's Word.

Could this be the reason you are in a crisis right now?
Is there something you've been ignoring?

Remember…..God wants you to fly, not flutter in the nest.

He wants you to grow up!

The danger stage quickly moves us on to the next stage.

4. The Decision Stage
What is it going to take to get you to make a
decision? Is God dealing with your stubbornness or neglect?

And after the Decision Stage comes…..
5. The Direction Change Stage
The young eagle, falling fast, has come to the wise conclusion that he has got to do something.

He has to change direction! He must start going up instead of down.

You can’t continue on in the same manner
as you have and expect to grow.

In fact, doing the same thing in the same way while expecting a different result is the definition of “Insanity”.

We're talking about God teaching us to fly - to live the faith life in a way that is pleasing to Him and brings us to maturity.

6. The Doing Stage
The adult eagle can teach her young to fly but she cannot fly for them. They must do it themselves.

When Jesus cleansed the ten lepers, He told them to go present themselves to the priest. Then, “as they were going, they were cleansed.” Luke 17:14

This step of doing is critical to the young eagles learning to fly and it is critical to our growing up in Christ and to the final step.

7. The Deliverance Stage
This one is beautiful. “He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.”

I understand that the adult eagle will actually swoop down and catch her falling offspring on her back and carry them back up to the home perch. What a beautiful picture of what God does for us!

II Timothy 3:11 “What persecutions I endured and out of them all the Lord delivered me!”

Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

If you are a Christian, God will teach you to fly. There will come a season - it may be now - that God will begin His stirring. Be sure God wants you to fly. You can ignore it, but it won't stop the process. You can resist it, but it won't stop the process.

Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.”

“It Is Well”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 39, December 28, 2008

PSALM 46:1-11 ... God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah….. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah… Be still, and know that I am God:
We all have days when we’d like to run away from it all. Sometimes our hurt is so bad our spirit throbs inside us.Our dreams fall apart...our hopes fade.
Our lives become wearisome drudgery.
A marriage goes bad…
Health problems develop…
Financial problems come up…
A loved one dies...And we are tempted to give up.... There is hope because - God is our Refuge (a shelter or hiding place) and Strength (our security, boldness, might) a very Present (He is always with us) Help (aid) in Trouble (tight spots, misery, distress, agony, suffering).
The word “IN” here means, not before or after, but during, in the midst of. In other words IN all these problems God is our refuge, strength, and a present help.
Do you remember the Big fire in Chicago?

It was apparently started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow knocking over a lantern. Sixteen hours later, 3 and 1/2 square miles of Chicago were burned to the ground. A family with the name of Spafford were completely wiped out by this disaster. But because of a consistent history of acting on their faith, they devoted countless hours to helping the survivors.
In November of 1873, Horatio Spafford planned a trip to Europe to hear DL Moody preaching his revivals. When the time for the trip drew close, Spafford’s business encountered some difficulties that required him to remain at home. Not wanting to deprive his family of the anticipated trip, he sent his wife and daughters on ahead promising to join them soon.

The Spafford women, Anna and her four young daughters, 11 year old Annie, 9 year old Maggie, 7 year old Bessie, and 2 year old Tanetta, boarded a French steamer and began their trans-Atlantic journey.

Off the coast of Newfoundland, however, tragedy struck. The ship collided with an English ship ripping a gaping hole in the ship’s hull. The French Steamer plunged to the bottom of the frigid sea within 12 minutes. In the moments before the ship sank, Anna Spafford gathered her 4 young girls to her side and prayed with them, holding the youngest in her arms. As the icy waters of the North Atlantic swept over the decks, the 3 older children disappeared.

Eventually even the baby was washed from her mother’s arms.

Anna, was able to cling to a piece of floating wreckage.

Alone and near death herself, Anna was spotted from a lifeboat and plucked from the sea. Only 47 out of 273 survived. It was 10 days before the survivors landed safely in Cardiff, Wales. From there Anna sent a telegram to her anxious husband It was a brief and distressing message: "Saved alone." Boarding the next available ship out of New York, Horatio sailed to be reunited with his grieving wife.

In the mid-Atlantic ocean, the ship’s captain called Spafford to the bridge and said, "To the best of my calculations, this is where the tragedy occurred and your four little daughters were drowned." Horatio stood on the bridge contemplating the loss of his girls. After a considerable time he went to his cabin and wrote the poem that begins;
When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul. It was reported by DL Moody (their friend) that though they were experiencing deep sorrow, the Spaffords never lost their abiding faith in God. This grieving father longed for the day…. when he would see his 4 beautiful daughters again. "And Lord haste the day when the faith will be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul."
The hope of being reunited with their children gave these parents the courage to keep on living in faith.

Their hearts were comforted and strengthened by the truth of the resurrection.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling….. God will help us.

Psalm 30:5 weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning
Returning to Chicago, Spafford rejoined his legal practice. Once again, he became active in the local Presbyterian church as an elder and working with the YMCA. A visitor to his office two years after the shipwreck asked about the telegram in a frame above Spafford’s desk carrying only the words, "Saved alone." Spafford told the man the full story and again affirmed, "It is well. God’s will be done." The Spaffords had 2 more daughters and 1 son born after the tragedy. But sorrow and tragedy would strike them again. In 1880, their 4-year-old son, Horatio, came down with scarlet fever. In spite of the efforts by the best physicians in Chicago, Spafford’s son died. Some members of the Presbyterian congregation to which the Spaffords belonged believed that some sin in their lives had caused all these tragedies. They kept telling the Spaffords to repent! But Spafford said, It Is Well With My Soul.Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. This means trusting God with all our problems, resting in Him as our refuge. John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The opposition grew until finally the Spaffords were asked to leave their church. And with unwavering faith and trust in God, they departed. Long interested in biblical archaeology, Spafford decided to leave the United States. In 1881, at the age of 53, he and his wife and 2 daughters moved to Jerusalem. There they founded an American colony where they spent the rest of their lives. The words "it is well with my soul" are not found in scripture, But Jesus did say, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and you’ll find rest for your souls Matthew 11:28-29
Our compassionate heavenly Father gives us comfort, hope and peace in his Son Jesus Christ. One day God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. And now you know the rest of the story. Be blessed.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah…
Be still, and know that I am God:

“Wise Guys”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 38, December 21, 2008

Common to many nativity scenes are three wise men and their camels. It is implied that these men, three in number, visited Jesus while still in the manger. It is believed these men came from the east by following a star that led them to Bethlehem.

The story of wise men visiting the Christ Child found in the Bible is both interesting and has a practical value for us today.

Matthew 2:1 tells us: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.

This Bible passage doesn't say how many wise men came from the east nor does it mention their names or their method of travel. It is only assumed they traveled by camel. They could’ve walked for all we know.

So who exactly were these "wise men from the East"?

The Bible doesn't say these men were kings, however it is speculated they were educated men, perhaps astrologers.
Some think they were a group of priests from Persia others believe they were astrologers from Babylon

Some Eastern religions have claimed there were 12 wise men making the journey to Bethlehem. According to medieval legend the names of three were Melchoir, King of Arabia, who brought gold; Gaspar, King of Tarsus, whom brought myrr; and Balthasar, King of Ethiopia, whom brought frankincense.

However, these names aren’t in the Bible and didn’t appear in Christian literature until 500 years after the birth of Jesus.
It is interesting to note that Matthew 2:11 states: and when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him.

The statement of coming into a house instead of a stable and seeing a "young child," not a newborn baby, leads one to think that the wise men didn't arrive until quite some time after the Lord’s birth.

Most likely it was up to 2 later that they visited Mary and the child in a house.

How many were there?
No actual number is given. Matthew 2:11 they presented to him gifts; gold and frankincense and myrrh.

True three types of gift are mentioned, but that doesn’t mean there were three givers!
The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were very prophetic for they spoke of our Lord's offices of King, Priest, and Savior.GOLD: It's a gift fit for royalty. It says to the Christ child, You will be a KingFRANKINCENSE: We recognize the word incense in its name. Ancient people burned frankincense, believing it to carry their prayers to heaven. Its use as incense illustrates His role as our Priest.MYRRH: This is perhaps the most mysterious of the Gifts. Myrrh is an Arabic word for bitter, and it is considered a wound healer because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was used as an embalming material for Egyptian mummies. As an embalming ointment it signified that He was born to Die for the world.

In fact, Myrrh was one of the burial spices of Jesus John 19:39

These wise men came following a star. So what about the "star"? How did these wise men connect the star with the birth of the king of the Jews?

The fact is the Bible says little about who these men were. Perhaps because it was more important as to what they did:
We have come to WORSHIP Him.

There are certainly some lessons that can be learned:

It is easy for fiction to be taken as fact...

I’m not just talking about Jesus birth. What about the "forbidden fruit" in the Garden being an "apple"; or that baptism in the Bible is pouring or sprinkling.

We need to be more like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 making sure we get the facts. There may be true servants of God in places we might not expect...

Don’t assume that God's people consists only of those you know about. There are many faithful Christians in other countries.

We may not know about them, but God does!

Those who claim to have religion don’t always give Christ the most honor.

You’d think the chief priests and scribes would’ve been the first to go to Bethlehem.
But no, it was a few unknown strangers from a distant land.

As John wrote in his gospel, He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him John 1:11

Sadly, the same is often true today, those of the Lord's church often show less love and
adoration than those of the world.

Children of Christian parents often show less interest in the things of God than the children of non-Christians.

There may be knowledge in the head, while there is no grace in the heart…

The chief priests and scribes were quick to provide Herod the answer to his question,
but as far as we know, they didn’t go to Bethlehem.
In fact most of them never did believe in Him.

Many today, can be described in the same manner.

The wise men are a great examples of spiritual diligence…

Consider what it must have cost them to travel; In money; In time; In dangers.

What about our diligence?

Are we willing to pay the price?
To find Christ?
To serve Him?
To worship Him?
Are we willing to make the effort to find, worship, and serve this great King?

They traveled at great costs and risk to find and worship Jesus; many Christians won't even take the time to attend a gospel meeting during the week or a second service on a Sunday!

The wise men are a great example of faith…

They believed in Christ… yet they’d never seen Him prior to their journey.

They worshipped him as king when all they saw was a little child on a mother's knee!

Without miracles to convince them (except the star) they left their homes and traveled for neatly two years.

Without much teaching to persuade them they were convinced that this was the Christ Child… they fell down and worshipped Him

This is the kind of faith that God delights to honor!

As Jesus said later, Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29

May the wise men inspire us to greater service to our Lord!

As stated on a popular bumper-sticker:
Wise men still seek Him

“Four Keys To Good Relations”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 37, December 7, 2008

Philippians 1:3-11

A few good friends can make all the difference in the world.

Friends can uplift your mood, inspire you to move beyond your current level, comfort you when you’re down and provide escape from boredom and routine.

Friends can also open your eyes to opportunity, encourage you, and provide wisdom and support. It’s a common denominator for all of humanity to want good friendships.

Unfortunately, loneliness and lack of friendships are a major affliction in our modern world. The busyness of our culture, our mobility and a focus on privacy has contributed to a breakdown in friendships

1. Always thank God for the people close to you. (vs. 3)
Background: Acts 16

2.Pray for them with joy (vs. 4)

What to pray for others.
1. Pray that they will grow in love and knowledge .
2. Pray that they will live pure and blameless lives .
3. Pray that they will do the right thing.
4. Pray that they will live abundantly in God's glory.

3. Be patient with their progress. Philippians 1:6

Understand that God is not yet finished with people.

Our Mistake: We judge others by how far they have got to go rather than how far they have come.

4. Love them from the heart Philippians 1:7,8

The secret of enjoying the people in my life is to be filled with God's love.

Five common reasons for friendlessness:

1. You’ve been hurt in the past.
Most of us have been hurt by someone in our past, but some allow it to compromise future relationships.

The key is learning how to forgive people for their shortcomings. Harboring bitterness, resentment and an unforgiving attitude, will hinder all your relationships.

2. You’re afraid of being found out. We all have secret insecurities and shortcomings but life is too short to waste energy hiding your imperfections. Don’t toss aside a friendship because you’re scared they’ll find out you are imperfect. We all are.

3. The negative side of life gets the bulk
of your attention.
No one wants to be around someone who finds everything wrong in the world. It’s okay to acknowledge struggles and be real about the challenges you face, but know when to draw the line and see the bright side.

4. You’re a harsh judge of character.
If you’re someone who enjoys friends only until you find something wrong with them, you won’t keep friends. If you’re quick to make character judgments, as opposed to judging people based on track record, people will walk on eggshells around you and consequently won’t want to be around you. Be slow to judge.

5. Holding unrealistic expectations of
Don’t expect your friends to intuitively know your needs or to always support you in the ways you’d like. Let them know if you’re in need of their support instead of expecting them to know.

Dear Sir:
I am writing in response to your request for more information concerning Block #11 on the insurance form which asks for "cause of injuries" wherein I put, "Trying to do the job alone." You said you needed more information so I trust the following will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade and on the date of injuries I was working alone laying brick around the top of a four-story building when I realized that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to put them into a barrel and lower them by a pulley which was fastened to the top of the building. I secured the end of the rope at ground level and went up to the top of the building and loaded the bricks into the barrel and swung the barrel out with the bricks in it. I then went down and untied the rope, holding it securely to ensure the slow descent of the barrel.

As you will note on Block #6 of the insurance form, I weigh 145 pounds. Due to my shock at being jerked off the ground so swiftly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Between the second and third floors, I met the barrel coming down. This accounts for the bruises and lacerations on my upper body. Regaining my presence of mind again, I held tightly to the rope and proceeded rapidly up the side of the building, not stopping until my right hand was jammed in the pulley. This accounts for the broken thumb.

Despite the pain, I retained my presence of mind and held tightly to the rope. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed about 50 pounds. I again refer you to Block #6 and my weight. As you would guess, I began a rapid descent. In the vicinity of the second floor I met the barrel coming up. This explains the injuries to my legs and lower body. Slowed only slightly, I continued my descent landing on the pile of bricks. This accounts for my sprained back and internal injuries.

I am sorry to report, however, that at this point, I again lost my presence of mind and let go of the rope, and as you can imagine, the empty barrel crashed down on me. This accounts for my head injuries. I trust this answers your concern. Please know that I am finished "trying to do the job alone."

Solomon gives three reasons why friendships are so valuable.
A friend provides encouragement/help in our struggles and failures. "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" Whenever we struggle or fail, we need a friend who will not walk away but will stay and help us up.

One of my favorite examples is the story of the Garden of Gethsemane. In our Lord's greatest hour of need, did he try to go it alone? No, he called his inner circle of friends (Peter, James John) to be with Him.

Look at Matthew 26:36-38. Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.

Jesus had someone to lean on, but if someone doesn't, then what? Solomon tells us: "But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"—v. 10b. When we choose not to rely on another, we risk staying down and defeated after we have fallen. But a friend can lift us up, dust us off, and help us get going again.

A friend provides support when the other is vulnerable. "...if two lie down together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?" This verse could certainly refer to marriage each supplying what is needed for the other, whether it be physical, mental, social, or spiritual.

A friend also provides protection when the other is attacked. v12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. These words assert that the ability of two to ward off physical, spiritual or other assaults is much greater than that of one.

Two can defend themselves and defeat the obstacles. Two outfitted with the armor of Christ and the sword of the Spirit, and surrounded by prayer, can see much accomplished and much of the enemy's activities defeated-Eph. 6:10-18. But Solomon's statement is not limited strictly to physical and spiritual dangers.

A plaque entitled "A Friend" reads, "A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you've been, accepts who you've become, and still gently invites you to grow."