Celebrating the Friendships That Didn’t Last a Lifetime

They all cried as they embraced and kissed him [Paul] good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship. Acts 2:37-38 NLT

Growing up back in the 20th century, long before Facebook and social media, a pastor or Sabbath School teacher we all loved would move away. It seemed there would always be one member of the congregation or Sabbath School class who would keep in fairly regular contact with the pastor after he moved. Through this member we would hear about the pastor’s current mission trips and his daughter’s graduation and marriage. Looking back now, it never occurred to me to get the former pastor’s contact information. It was enough to hear the stories through that one member who kept in contact, and I suppose subconsciously in the back of my mind, I assumed if I ever needed to talk to the former pastor again personally, all I had to do was get his number from that one member who had it. Looking back, before social media, we still had a healthy and balanced way to stay in touch. 

Often times I read memes about lifelong friendships and how wonderful they are-and yes they are! I treasure my friends that I discuss current events with, while remembering going through Watergate together. A couple weeks ago I shared a story about a lifelong friend who had to remind me of an accident I had decades ago. That was very special albeit embarrassing. yes, lifelong friendships are very special, but let’s not let that distract from the specialness of the friendships that didn’t last a lifetime. 

While I was in first grade my family moved into a home just a couple blocks from the church school, so I moved with them. Next door lived “Hans” who was about my exact age. In no time we were playing together all the time. He was into puppetry, and we even did a puppet skit on a local TV cable station. We played super heroes and on certain summer nights would sleep outside in the treehouse, with the plans of waking up at 4am to go fight crime. Looking back I thank God I never could wake him up. No telling what trouble we would have ran into. Later in middle school we started drifting apart, and in our teens while we still lived next door we seldom saw each other at all. He had his public school friends and his music. Even as a little boy he loved playing the “Entertainer” on the piano with his front door wide open. To this day I can’t hear that song without thinking of “Hans.” I digress. Anyway Hans and I drifted apart, and for the last few years we were neighbors we were basically total strangers. However, there were times in high school where I was struggling with Algebra and Geometry.  “Hans” was great at math, and would let me come over so he could explain it to me. I would thank him, and he would express his pleasure at being able to help me, then I would go back home. That was the extent of our friendship at that point. 

At the turn of the 21st century, I learned from his sister that “Hans’ was living in New York City. (Thankfully his sister did indeed turn out to be a lifelong friend.) About this time I got my first computer with Internet capabilities, and had some questions. “Hans” was into computers so I called him up, and once again he enthusiastically helped me out. Once again, I thanked him, he said I was welcome, we hung up and have never spoken since. Ever since 7th or 8th grade “Hans” has had his own friends, hobbies, career and a life that I simply haven’t fit into since around 6th grade. I love staying in touch with people. I love lifelong friends. At the same time I realize it is not practical or even healthy and balanced to expect everyone from my past to still be an active friend today. That would be about as silly as a playwriter putting the entire cast into every single scene. The entire cast does not belong in every single scene, not even the star. It would be about as crazy as a field goal kicker expecting his coach to put him in on every play. That’s not how it works or how you win games. 

Fact is, there is a time for actors, once they have served their purpose, to make their final exit from the play. Solomon’s wisdom teaches us there is a purpose for every season, but seasons change and so do our needs, and so do the needs of our friends. But while we celebrate lifelong friendships, lets remember the wisdom of Solomon and also celebrate those wonderful friendships that did not last a lifetime. They still served their purpose. Every friendship howbeit ever so brief, serves a purpose and brings a lesson. While my friend “Hans” had moved on with his life, and really did not need me in it, he was still there when I needed him for Algebra. Through him I have learned how to move on in my life and leave some people alone, while leaving the door wide open for that moment when I may actually be able to serve them again. That’s why I also came up with the analogy of the field goal kicker. While the field goal kicker is not needed on every play, he is needed to be on the sidelines throughout the entire game for that one moment he is needed to kick the winning field goal as time expires. Just because the coach seldom puts the kicker in on a play does not mean he does not value the kicker-he does! Just because a friend called another friend for lunch today without calling you does not mean your friend does not value you. We don’t have to be in on every “play” to be valued and appreciated. 

Let’s learn from the stranger who helped us fix that flat tire and then disappeared into the night never to be seen again. He came and taught us kindness, served his purpose and exited the scene. He doesn’t even need to exchange Christmas cards. He taught us a lesson, served his purpose and that was enough. 

Let’s learn from the Sabbath School teacher who harped on that one idea all the time till it drove you crazy. You haven’t seen or heard from her since the turn of the century. But sitting in Sabbath School class last week a question came up and you remembered what she said so many years ago. You used it to help someone last Sabbath understand the point a little more clearly. 

My ex-fiancé dumped me over 20 years ago, but I still remember how she showed me to add sour cream to mashed potatoes and gravy. I still love making them that way to this day. And as I look back, I learned some important lessons from that relationship that are more important than mashed potatoes and gravy. I learned some hard lessons that have helped me in my relationships today. I am glad she was a part of my life! 

While the blessings of lifelong friendships are amazing beyond words, lets not forget to celebrate the friendships that didn’t last a lifetime. After all, those friendships were not in vain even though they did not last. They served their purpose and they taught us valuable lessons that last a lifetime. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

The Millennium in Light Of The Cross -With New Living Translation

Indian Rocks 5

You can download a printable version of the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides-NLT here.

A podcast version of this topic is available here.

The Millennium

  Brief Overview:  The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. (Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2,3Jer. 4:23-26Rev. 21:1-5Mal. 4:1Eze. 28:1819.)

 

Why it is important to know the truth about the millennium:

There are many erroneous teachings about the millennium, including the idea some will be given a second chance after the second coming. This is a false security leading many to disregard the exhortation of Paul, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you.  On the day of salvation, I helped you.”Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

Why it is important to understand the millennium in light of the cross:

Only when we get to heaven will we see and realize what Jesus left to come and die for us.

Further Study on the Millennium

 

What happens to the earth when Jesus comes?

Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters the people. Isaiah 24:1 NLT

What happens to all of the wicked?

In that day those the Lord has slaughtered will fill the earth from one end to the other. No one will mourn for them or gather up their bodies to bury them. They will be scattered on the ground like manure. Jeremiah 25:33 NLT

What happens to the righteousness?

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 NLT

Note:  When Jesus comes the wicked are all slain, the righteous are all

taken to heaven, and the earth is left in a desolate state (“without form and void” Jer. 4:23; as a “bottomless pit” Rev. 20:1).

How long is Satan bound to the earth?

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years.  The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. Revelation 20:1-3 NLT

Note: Satan is chained up by circumstances. All the wicked are dead. The righteous are in heaven, and he has no one to tempt or torment. Before his expulsion from heaven he thought he would make a better ruler than God. SeeIsaiah 14:14. Satan now gets to roam the world for a thousand years and consider the fruits of his empire.

 

What will the righteous be doing?

Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 NLT

Whom shall they be judging?

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NLT

 

Jesus spoke of two resurrections.

Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. John 5:28-29 NLT

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28-29 KJV

When are the wicked dead raised?

This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)  Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.Revelation 20:5-6 NLT

What does Satan do when they are raised?

When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. Revelation 20:7-8 NLT

 

What descends down from God?

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Revelation 21:2 NLT

What does Satan attempt and what happens?

And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Revelation 20:9 NLT

What is this fire called?

Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 20:14 NLT

What will God create from the ashes?                                                                       

   But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,  looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. 2 Peter 3:10-13 NLT

What will the new earth be like?                                                                                      

    In those days people will live in the houses they build   and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses   and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains. They will not work in vain,  and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the Lord,   and their children, too, will be blessed. I will answer them before they even call to me.  While they are still talking about their needs,  I will go ahead and answer their prayers! The wolf and the lamb will feed together.   The lion will eat hay like a cow.   But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.  I, the Lord, have spoken!” Isaiah 65:21-25 NLT

What promise of God does John see in vision?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 NLT