Sally’s look-alike —
Sally Cosare is Pastor Violet Mateo’s baby sister. Violet and husband Calisto Mateo —
Jesus is my dearest friend
One on whom I can depend
I am blessed to know that He
Is always near looking after me.
He cares for me day and night
For me He is my shining light
Whether I am rich or poor, young or old
His love is mine to have and hold.
As seasons come and go each year
Jesus holds my hand staying near
He lets me know I have nothing to fear
Each day with him grows more dear.
Jesus is my special Best Friend because He knows me better than anyone else. He is God, and He knows all about me. He even knows my thoughts!
I am very important to Jesus! I may not be important to some people, but Jesus really cares for me. He even knows how many hairs I have on my head. He has them all numbered! He said, “…the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).
A best friend is one who loves you just the way you are, and yet helps you to be all you can be. Jesus is my special Best Friend because no one has ever loved me as He does. He loved me so much that He gave His life for me. And He loves me today just as much as He did then. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
The Lord Jesus loves me just the way I am, but He loves me too much to leave me the way I am. He is living in me and He is making me more like Himself day-by-day. He knows about my faults, but He loves me, and He will never take His love away from me.
Jesus is my special Best Friend because He wants only what is best for me. He will guide me in making decisions if I will ask for His help and trust Him.
In His Word, the Bible, the Lord Jesus tells me the things I should do, like obeying my parents and teachers. He also tells me things I should not do, like telling lies and saying hurtful things to others.
What about things that are not mentioned in the Bible? In this case I should ask, “Would Jesus like to see me do this?” If I think that He would not like to see me do it, I must NOT do it!
Jesus is my special Best Friend because He always has time for me. I can talk to Him at any time. I can talk to Him in any place. No one cares for me like Jesus. He wants me to come to Him about everything that concerns me.
Jesus is my special Best Friend because He is always the same. In the past I have had friends, and somehow they changed and we were no longer friends. But Jesus never changes! The Bible says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The Lord Jesus is always the same wonderful Person who loves me with all His heart. He is always there to listen to me, to help me, to encourage me. He is truly the best Friend I could ever have.
Jesus and I are “Best Friends forever,” but I must never forget who He is. He is my Savior, My Lord, and my God, and I treat Him with respect and reverence. I do not call Him “the Man upstairs.”
Being a child of God is the most wonderful thing in all the world, but let me tell you a secret: Your life here on earth as a child of God will not always be easy. Jesus said,
“In the world you shall have tribulation [many troubles]; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
I will have many trials and troubles as I travel to my home in Heaven, but I do not need to be afraid. The Lord wants me to remember three things:
Jesus is always for me
Jesus has all power in Heaven and in the earth, and He is always for His believers. Every moment, there on the throne, He is thinking about me. He wants me to tell Him everything that concerns me. He wants me to bring all my problems and burdens to Him. He wants me to tell Him all that is on my heart.
Jesus is always with me
The Lord Jesus Himself is in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father, but He also lives in the hearts of His believers by His Spirit. The apostle Paul said, “Christ lives in me!” You and I can say this too. Jesus promised that He will never leave us. He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b).
Since Jesus is always with me, I must ask myself some questions: Is the Lord Jesus pleased when I am around those who are using bad language? No, He is not.
Is Jesus pleased when I am watching a TV show or movie with bad stuff in it? No, He is not. Does Jesus enjoy listening to music that has dirty words in it? No, He does not.
This means that I must not hang around those who use bad language. I must not watch bad stuff, and I must not listen to music with dirty words.
Wherever I go, the Lord Jesus goes with me. Whatever I watch, the Lord Jesus watches it with me. Whatever I listen to, the Lord Jesus listens to it also. If I truly love the Lord Jesus, I will not want to do anything that displeases Him.
I can always enjoy Jesus
Jesus is not a “force”; He is a Person! He wants me to love and appreciate Him. He wants me to enjoy Him, the way best friends enjoy each other.
The way to enjoy a person is to love that person. The more you love Jesus, the more you will enjoy Him. When you fall in love with Jesus, you will be a happy child of God.
The Lord Jesus is the most wonderful Person in all the universe. God tells me to rejoice in Him—who He is and what He has done for me. No matter what happens, I can always rejoice in Him. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always…” (Philippians 4:4).
A child of God who loves Jesus and has Him as his special Best Friend is a really happy person!
Psalm 139:1-18 —
“ O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.  You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”
7 Ways Jesus is the Best Friend You Could Ever Have
The first way Jesus is the best friend you could ever have is
1 – He wants to perfect you – not pamper you.
Like any good friend, Jesus wants you to be the “best you” that you can possibly be. A good friend doesn’t just think of your short-term success; he or she thinks of your long-term happiness. Let me show you what I’m talking about by beginning our narrative.
John 11:1-2 (CEV) A man by the name of Lazarus was sick in the village of Bethany. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This was the same Mary who later poured perfume on the Lord’s head and wiped his feet with her hair. 3The sisters sent a message to the Lord and told him that his good friend Lazarus was sick.
4When Jesus heard this, he said, “His sickness won’t end in death. It will bring glory to God and his Son.”
If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did he let him get sick? And of course, he died. Jesus didn’t say that Lazarus wouldn’t die – He simply said that death wouldn’t be the end! That’s some great news we’ll get to in a few minutes. But the question for now is, “Why did Jesus let His good friend Lazarus get sick and die?”
Have you ever asked, “Why does God allow suffering and injustice, pain and sorrow? If God is a God of love why do bad things happen to good people?” Have you questioned God and said, “God, If you love me, why have you allowed bad things to happen to me?”
Yes, Jesus could have prevented “his good friend Lazarus” from getting sick. He could even have healed him from where He was. But He deliberately chose not to. Jesus had something even better for his good friend!
Jesus used the resurrection of Lazarus from death as concrete evidence that there is life after death! He used this miracle to prove that death is not the end of it all, that, if you, like Lazarus, will place your faith in Him, you will have abundant life here on earth and eternal life forever with God in heaven!
Here’s an illustration from nature. You’ve probably always figured that a possum was a dumb animal. You hardly ever see one except when its dead on the road. There’s a joke that goes, “Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the possum that it could be done.”
But in spite of the bad press, possums actually are smart, at least in one area. Did you know that a possum won’t go into a hole in the ground if there’s only one set of tracks outside the hole? They know that something is still in there. But if there’s a set of tracks leading in and another set of tracks leading back out, the possum isn’t afraid to enter the hole.
The message of Easter is that we can enter the grave – we don’t have to fear death because not only are there a set of tracks heading into Jesus’ tomb – but there is also a set of tracks heading back out!
Sickness and death were bad things to happen to Lazarus and his family – but resurrection was a better thing!
The second way this story illustrates that Jesus is the best friend you could ever have is
2 – He laid His life on the line for you.
5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and brother. 6But he stayed where he was for two more days. 7Then he said to his disciples, “Now we will go back to Judea.”
8″Teacher,” they said, “the people there want to stone you to death! Why do you want to go back?”
9Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in each day? If you walk during the day, you will have light from the sun, and you won’t stumble. 10But if you walk during the night, you will stumble, because you don’t have any light.” 11Then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, and I am going there to wake him up.”
The disciples were afraid for Jesus’ safety. They knew that Christ’s enemies were looking for an opportunity to kill Him. Why would Jesus risk this by going back to the vicinity of Jerusalem?
There’s only one reason. He was willing to lay His life on the line for His friends!
The Good News is that Jesus not only did this for Lazarus and Martha and Mary – He did it for us also! He hung between heaven and earth, between God and man, between good and evil – on Skull Hill, the literal meaning of Golgotha, the summit outside of Jerusalem on which they crucified Christ, so named because it resembled a skull – certainly a fitting name for a place with the atmosphere of death. On Skull Hill Jesus was making a public statement for all the world to see and hear: “I am giving my life for my friends!” In fact, the Bible says,
John 15:13 (NCV) The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends.
At the yard sale for missions here at the church yesterday I saw some stuff I didn’t realize my wife had donated. I didn’t buy anything back yesterday but I remembered one church yard sale where I did. Sometimes my wife thinks I’m not interested in something just because it has collected dust in the closet for ten years. Go figure.
My point is, I have been known to buy something back that once belonged to me.
That’s what Jesus was doing on the cross. Jesus created you. And then sin separated you from Him. On the cross He was paying the price to buy you back. He laid His life on the line for you.
The third way Jesus is the greatest friend you could ever have is
3 – He initiates the opportunity for friendship.
When Jesus told his disciples why He was going back, even in spite of the danger to His life,
12They replied, “Lord, if he is asleep, he will get better.” (The insinuation probably was, “perhaps we don’t really have to go back and endanger our lives.”) 13Jesus really meant that Lazarus was dead, but they thought he was talking only about sleep.
14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead!
15I am glad that I wasn’t there, because now you will have a chance to put your faith in me. Let’s go to him.”
16Thomas, whose nickname was “Twin,” said to the other disciples, “Come on. Let’s go, so we can die with him.”
Jesus gives us the chance to put our faith in Him. He left heaven, became human, died for your sins, and then conquered death for you – all in an attempt to show you how interested He is in being your friend. He took the initiative!
Don’t you like to have friends who take the initiative? You can tell they really love you because you’re not the only one always picking up the phone or starting the conversation. You’re not the only one trying to get together. Jesus wants to be your friend so badly that He took the first step.
But there’s more!
The 4th way Jesus is the best friend you could ever have is
4 – His promises will get you through difficult times.
17When Jesus got to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, 19and many people had come from the city to comfort Martha and Mary because their brother had died.
20When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22Yet even now I know that God will do anything you ask.”
23Jesus told her, “Your brother will live again!”
The greatest comfort Jesus could give his grieving sisters was the promise of resurrection. “Your brother will live again!”
There isn’t a greater promise in the universe than knowing that you can live forever!
I read last week that babies born now, in the early part of the 21st Century, can expect to live to be 150 years old! Because of the advancements in health care – the first grandchild Deb and I are expecting this fall might possibly live to be a century and a half old! That’s amazing!
Want to know something even more amazing? You can live forever because of the promise Jesus has made to you!
But there’s more!
The 5th way Jesus is the best friend you could ever have is
5 – He offers you eternal life for believing in Him.
How does Jesus offer eternal life to you? What’s the catch?
When Jesus told Martha of the resurrection of her brother, here’s how she responded.
24Martha answered, “I know that he will be raised to life on the last day, when all the dead are raised.” 25Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. 26And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?”
27″Yes, Lord!” she replied. “I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.”
28After Martha said this, she went and privately said to her sister Mary, “The Teacher is here, and he wants to see you.” 29As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went out to Jesus.
Jesus didn’t merely say that there is life after death – He said He is the One who provides that life!
A Philadelphia legal firm sent flowers to an associate in Baltimore upon the opening of a new office building. Through some mix-up, the banner on the flowers read, “Deepest Sympathy.”
When the florist was informed of the mistake, he let out a shriek, and exclaimed, “Then the flowers that went to the funeral said, “Congratulations on your new location!”
That’s what death is – it is simply , moving to a new location. If you have placed your faith in Christ – after you experiece physical death you will enjoy eternal life!
You couldn’t possibly have a better friend than One who offers you eternal life!
Why would He make this offer?
That leads us to the 6th way Jesus is the greatest friend you could ever have.
6 – Jesus loves you.
I remember 25 years ago when my mother died from cancer. Her last words to me before her death were, “I love you son.”
Deb and I have been married 29 years next month and I still enjoy hearing her say, “I love you Brian.”
It’s good to be loved. God created you to be loved. There’s nothing to compare with loving and being loved. And God is the source of love.
Look at how much Jesus loves His friends.
30He was still outside the village where Martha had gone to meet him. 31Many people had come to comfort Mary, and when they saw her quickly leave the house, they thought she was going out to the tomb to cry. So they followed her.
32Mary went to where Jesus was. Then as soon as she saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, he was terribly upset 34and asked, “Where have you put his body?” They replied, “Lord, come and you will see.”
35Jesus started crying, 36and the people said, “SEE HOW MUCH HE LOVED Lazarus.”
37Some of them said, “He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
The Greek word for love used in verse 35, talking about how much Jesus loved Lazarus, is phileo, brotherly love, friendship love.
I reiterate what the Bible says on this subject,
John 15:13 (NCV) The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends.
Jesus proved how very much He wants to be your friend by dying in your place on the cross on Skull Hill.
The Bible says we are all sinners.
Romans 3:23 (CEV) All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
And sin has a horrible price tag.
Romans 6:23 (NLT) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus loves you so much that He took the penalty of your sin for you!
And the final way this story of the resurrection of Lazarus illustrates how Jesus is the best friend you could ever have is
7 – Jesus is the only One who can truly set you free.
After the conversation with Lazarus’ sisters
38Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. 39Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”
40Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”
41After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. 42I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”
43When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.
Like Lazarus, your only hope against death, physical and eternal, is faith in Jesus.
Man could roll the stone away but only Jesus could issue the command for the dead to rise to new life.
You may have tried many things in your life to find true freedom. Some of the things you have tried may have even been religious. But true freedom doesn’t come from religion – it comes from a relationship – a personal relationship with the greatest friend that you could ever have – Jesus.
You begin that relationship by making a faith commitment to Jesus. You need to tell Jesus that you believe in Him and that you appreciate what He did for you on the cross and what He did for you by rising from the grave.
We want to give you that opportunity today. Would you please bow your heads in prayer with me?
If you want to begin that personal relationship with Christ today, if you want to be set free, if you want to have abundant life here and eternal life hereafter, I want to ask you to pray this prayer silently in your heart and mind right now,
“Dear God, I realize that you love me and want to be my friend. Today I want to ask you to forgive all my sins and let me begin a personal friendship with Jesus today. Thank you for giving your life on the cross to prove your love for me Jesus – and to prove how much you want to be my friend. I want to live for you. Help me learn more about you.”
While our heads are still bowed in reverence to God, maybe there’s someone here today that would like to renew their commitment to Jesus.
I want to ask you to pray this prayer silently in your heart and mind right now,
“Father, forgive me for not placing as much importance on our relationship together as I should have. I know that you have done so very much for me and I want to ask you to help me to a consistent friendship with you. Help me to overcome the bad things that have happened and to realize that you have better things for me if I will trust in you.”
It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, not necessarily facts about God or rules about God. I really believe we’re more shaped by our stories of how we’ve experienced God, than we are by heady discussions about God.
It’s not that we don’t need theology. We absolutely do, just like in a daily life of faith.
Over the past five years, during the time I was working on this book, I was greatly influenced by the notion of Narrative Theology: the Bible as a Story, God as the Great Narrator, and myself and the world around me as players in this beautiful, broken, always-being-redeemed story God is telling. That has deeply changed how I interact with scripture and how I see my life of faith.
These days I hold a lot less pressure for certainty and performance in faith. And letting go of those heavy burdens has allowed me to enter the life-long process of learning to live gratefully, to love God with my whole heart, and to love people. Love is the deep work of faith. And we’re all learning how to manifest it in our daily, ordinary lives.
I was greatly influenced by two spiritual memoirs in my twenties that really opened up my eyes to the kind of writing I wanted to do: Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner and The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. Before discovering those books in 2002, I was convinced that it was impossible to write about God without being trite and saccharine.
Those two books were beautiful and deep and void of sentimentality. They each told a story that brought me into God’s presence. Also it was The Cloister Walk that first introduced me to the Rule of St. Benedict, which is the thread that holds together my story in Found.
I have been most influenced by Mary Karr, who I had the privilege of studying with ten years ago in graduate school. I could read her memoir Lit everyday and still sigh out loud at the way she shapes a sentence. Her prose is gorgeous and powerful. And she speaks of God in a way that undoes me. I had Mary Karr’s voice in my head on repeat while I wrote this book.
I’d probably define it as a fifth or sixth or fiftieth conversion story in my life.
In the Evangelical circles of my upbringing, people didn’t often talk about conversion happening over and over throughout a believer’s life, but I have learned that in order to live a life of faith, I have to choose Jesus over and over, moment by moment.
Found isn’t a story of having strayed from my faith and then returning. It’s really a story of the daily choosing of faith, the growing up of faith. It’s also a story of learning to believe that it is always God who finds us.
In this book I set out to rediscover prayer, and what is revealed is my own inability to live up that task. I need to be rescued. I need to be discovered by God.
This is really the story of how motherhood illuminated the parts of me that were already broken, especially where my faith was concerned. So it’s not about my “returning to prayer.” It’s really more about my recognition that the journey of faith is always a crashing and rising again, being rescued over and over by a Great Rescuer.
In that sense, I’ve already been found, but I’ll be found again tomorrow. It’s continual. That’s the work of the Spirit.
I always came to prayer as if it were a task to accomplish, a commitment to live up to. I’m a Christian; therefore I pray. God is waiting for me to meet with him, and if I don’t, God will be unhappy. And, really, we can’t have a spiritual life without prayer, right?
So when I started to sense that prayer as I’d known it—before having children—had disappeared from my life, I felt a frantic need to recover it. I wanted to prove myself capable to living up to spiritual life I was supposed to own. There was a lot of baggage there for me, a fear that my life was disappointing to God.
The best thing I did was let myself throw all the old prayer rules out the window. I began to study monasticism, mostly because it felt like the furthest thing from the evangelical rules that had become constricting for my mind. I came to St. Benedict’s Rule in particular because it’s always easier for me to read a book than spend my time in quiet prayer.
So I read and read about prayer, and eventually found myself asking God to give me a new way to pray, without all the baggage of “prayer as performance” that I’d carried with me into motherhood.
I still strive to have time in the morning for prayer. Some days that happens and some days it doesn’t. But what has changed most for me is that I don’t feel ruined when I haven’t started my day with prayer. I actually believe that God is here, right now, loving me. And because God is here, I can look up and notice. The noticing and turning that moment into gratitude have really rescued prayer for me. It’s so much more simple than I used to think it was.
So if my first prayer in the morning is a tiny thank you at 11 am, God is still honored and I am still being changed.
The notion of God’s grace is much broader than I will ever grasp. But my weaknesses are a window into God’s deep and abiding love. And I hope I will keep acknowledging those weaknesses and then walking through them into God’s sweet presence.