Friends Forever

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Friends Forever

As the calendar rolled over to 2015, the Lord laid it on my heart that my One Thing for this year was to be INTENTIONAL. With my time, resources, priorities, attention, and relationships. I’ve found that, in order to truly be intentional, there is a lot of forethought and stepping back to really assess things. Today I want to challenge us all to step back and assess one specific area: our friendships.
Are we truly being intentional with the people God has placed in our lives?
What does this intentionality look like?
If you think about it, friendships with people are the only “things” from this world we’ll take with us to heaven. They are eternal, because people are eternal. So it makes sense that we should seek purpose with each person God places in our path.
If we look at the example of Jesus, He had great purpose behind His interactions with people. He wasn’t ashamed to associate with sinners, but there were only twelve people He chose to be close to. Notice He CHOSE them. That is intentionality. Furthermore, out of the twelve, He selected three to be in His inner circle. These were the people who got an up-close, personal look at His life.
We can fashion our friendships after His example, with these three friendship circles:
1. Intentional Influence with Unbelievers.
We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. As such, we aren’t meant to stay in our little Christian bubbles. Just like Jesus, we should be open to influencing the people around us – whether they are born-again believers or not, we can speak into their life and there is no reason why we shouldn’t interact with them.
The difference is, that in our interactions with them, we posture ourselves to influence them for the positive. Jesus changed the world. But He couldn’t do that if He allowed the world to change Him. I see these interations as ministry time. Not that we’re preaching the Word the whole time, but that we’re guarding our hearts to not be influenced negatively. We do not share our deepest dreams and secrets with them and they are not the people we spend all of our time with. That may sound harsh, but it’s the truth! The Bible is very clear that we’re not called to be besties with unbelievers. We have to make that distinction and influence them on purpose.
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”
{2 Corinthians 6:14 NLT}
2. Intentional Discipleship. Just like Jesus had His twelve disciples, we too have people that we walk through life with and intentionally pour into. Our children, the next generation, new Christians… These groups all need discipleship to grow.
Jesus spent time with His twelve disciples, teaching, encouraging and being the ultimate role model for them. He was, in modern-day terms, mentoring them… Replicating Himself in them.
So, the intentionality here is to recognize that our purpose with these people is training and teaching; a life-on-life exchange of wisdom, knowledge, and experience. 
3. Covenant Friendships. Jesus had his inner-circle of THREE. These three were the ones He spent more time with because He fellowshipped with and trusted them on a deeper level. These are the people God CALLS us into friendship with. These are (what I’ve heard referred to as) “divine alignments for divine assignments.”
We are on mission with them, we do life with them, we trust them more than anyone. We’re an open book to them and they know us like no one else. They’re like family (or are, literally, family) to us. Our spouse, parents, sister, or lifelong best friend.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Whereas with unbelievers, there is an intentional one-sided influence and in mentoring there is an intentional pouring into someone; with covenant friendships, there is a mutual exchange, something Proverbs refers to as, “Iron sharpening iron.” {Proverbs 27:17}
So, sisters, who are those you have been called to minister to, pour into, and do life with? It’s no accident that our paths cross. Let’s make those interactions count, because we know we will truly be friends forever. 
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