When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven”
Who are your friends? When I was 12 years old, I went shopping with a few friends. In one of the stores there was a table with jewelry on it. The most eye-catching pieces were bracelets made of twisted and curved wire that spelled out names. (At that time, they were new and unique!) I was excited because several bracelets spelled my name! My friends wanted me to get one - actually, they encouraged me, well…they challenged me to get one by sticking it in my pocket and taking it!
Fast forward several years to a time when I was telling a friend (not one who was shopping with me!) that I was taking my 6-year old daughter to the doctor for results of a severe infection and we were concerned about the outcome. My friend, Donna, replied, “I will be on my knees praying for you.” And she was! Another time, my friend, Kim, repeatedly listened to the difficult situation that I was experiencing and rather than let me focus on myself or my problems redirected my focus by asking, “God is always at work, where do you see Him working right now?” These two friends listened and encouraged me to focus on Jesus; encouraging a life of faith and trust and NOT a life of crime!
In Luke 2:17-26, we see a beautiful picture of true friendship. Jesus was teaching in a house and people traveled from every town of Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem to be near Him “and the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick” (vs 17). Four friends carried their paralyzed friend on a mat to see Jesus. The house was overflowing with people and there was no way to get through the crowd to get to Jesus - but these friends persevered! They went up onto the housetop, made an opening in the roof and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus!
Scripture never said that this man wanted to be healed or believed he could be healed. It doesn't even say that he asked his friends to take him to Jesus. What we do know is that these friends had faith that Jesus could heal him; they loved their friend enough that they were willing to get involved and carried him to the feet of Jesus, the Healer.
“When Jesus saw their “friends’” faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven….I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God” (Luke 5:20, 24 NIV). The faith of these friends led to their action of taking their paralytic friend to Jesus and he was healed, then “everyone was amazed and gave praise to God” (vs 25).
Friends are very influential - they can either encourage us away from Jesus or toward Jesus. Do you have a friend or family member who is hurting or going in the wrong direction and isn’t asking for help? Through prayer, you can be the friend who carries them to the feet of Jesus.
(By the way, in case you are wondering, I did NOT steal a bracelet! Over the years, I have wondered how my life would have changed if I had given into peer pressure that day.)
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.