So much has and is happening in our world. It's not just the wired world we live in and it’s not just the instant knowledge of news wherever and whenever it happens. There really is a lot happening at a frantic pace. And, it's not good!
We live each day wondering what tragedy will befall our world next and there is fear, confusion, and anxiety to spare. I'm not here to depress us today, but we live in a very tumultuous, dangerous, and weird day. The scenes of brutality, carnage, and despair that used to play out only in videos from countries far from our home are showing up within arm’s reach. The freedoms and liberties we may have once taken for granted are being challenged and changed all around us. The peace and safety that many of us have known all our lives is being shattered and fear is beginning to set in. It has changed us!
We do not look at our safety the same way we did before. We do not look at our freedoms the same way we did before. These events and this time is changing us!
So, what has happened in our world?
• I don’t hear our bickering politicians talking about prayer any more
• I don’t hear “God Bless America” sung as much anymore
• Much of what is wrong with us, in our flesh, is on full disgusting display
Do we not need God now?
Can I tell you:
• as the world continues to fall off the cliff
• as evil expands its claim on humanity
• as thick black hopelessness invades our world
• as our world continues its frenetic changing act
Our God has not changed, at all. He’s still the same! He was the same yesterday, as He is today, and as He will be tomorrow. He changes not!
So, to the life that is:
• Lost; He’s still searching for you
• Scared; He still speaks peace
• Confused; He will bring you clarity
• Unloved; God is love
• Drifting; He is an anchor of wholeness
He’s still the same! You're not going to find that anywhere or with anyone else, any longer. God hasn't changed. He’s still the same! All you need is to grab hold of His hand and hold on. He will never leave you, forsake you, or change on you! He’s still the same!
You've probably heard the saying that goes, "With friends like you, who needs enemies?". It's usually used tongue-in-cheek when friends are teasing each other. I've used it myself when a friend of mine is giving me a hard time. However, there are many people who have been "stabbed in the back", betrayed, or led into a dangerous situation by so-called friends who made themselves enemies. These "friends" were trusted and confided in, but held no loyalty to the other person. So, while the saying is typically said in a joking manner, many have found themselves seriously asking the question, "With friends like you, who needs enemies?".
We have good examples of this in scripture.
2 Samuel 13:1-4 NKJV
 After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name [was] Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.  Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she [was] a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her.  But Amnon had a friend whose name [was] Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother. Now Jonadab [was] a very crafty man.  And he said to him, "Why [are] you, the king's son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?" Amnon said to him, "I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister."
Jonadab went on to describe in detail how Amnon could wrongly go about fulfilling his desires, which Amnon did. This caused a disunion between Amnon and some of his family members, ultimately leading to him being killed by his brother Absolom. Had Amnon been influenced by a true friend, he likely would have made better decisions. But because he had a friend who was more like an enemy, he erred greatly, disrupted his whole family, made more enemies, and went to an early grave.
A couple of generations later, David's grandson Rehoboam took the throne. The assembly of Israel came and pledged their allegiance to him if he would lighten the burden his father had placed them under.
1 Kings 12:6-8 NKJV
 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, "How do you advise [me] to answer these people?"  And they spoke to him, saying, "If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever."  But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.
Rehoboam foolishly went with the advice of his young, immature friends who obviously didn't have his best interest in mind. The kingdom was divided and most of the people were led into idolatry by a leader they weren't supposed to be following. The wrong friends can severely pollute our thinking and lead us to places we never wanted to be, surrounded by the carnage of our bad decisions. Who we surround ourselves with will have a major impact on our decisions, lifestyle, attitudes and can certainly affect our spiritual trajectory.
What we need are friends like Barnabas.
Acts 4:36-37 NKJV
 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,  having land, sold [it], and brought the money and laid [it] at the apostles' feet.
Acts 9:26-27 NKJV
 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought [him] to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Because of Barnabas, Saul (who we now know as the Apostle Paul), was able to share his story and join the other disciples in Jerusalem. Without Barnabas sticking his neck out and vouching for him, Paul may have never received the credibility needed to become the great missionary that we know him as. Barnabas was such a great friend and influence that the disciples changed his name from Joses to Barnabas, which mean "Son of Encouragement". That's the kind of friends we need to surround ourselves with. People who will encourage us to be better versions of ourselves. People who will spur us on closer to God and inspire us to follow the leading of the Spirit. We need people who will make opportunity for us to succeed, not fail.
Choose your friends wisely, as they will likely determine your future. Do you want to be successful? Surround yourself with successful people. Do you want to be a student of the Word? Surround yourself with students of the Word. Do you want to be a more disciplined, effective prayer warrior? You get the idea. Fill your life with people who have the traits that you want to have in your life. We have enough enemies to worry about. Find yourself some true friends and see the difference they make.