“Friends On Earth And Friends Above”

July 14, 2015

Amish work horse 7/12/15
Work Horse on an Amish Farm.
I took this photo last Sunday when I visited Eli and Kate’s farm.

“Friends On Earth And Friends Above”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Yesterday some friends stopped by and we enjoyed visiting for a few minutes. Brooksyne and I are blessed with many friends; locally, distant, overseas and even in cyberspace including those of you who drop us a line here and there. As we get older we especially value our long-term friendships. But we also enjoy making new friends as well.

There’s a hymn many of us have sung with an interesting line. “Friends on earth and friends above.” Do you recognize what hymn this line comes from? (We”ll tell you below!).

We easily identify with the words “Friends on earth”. Some we see regularly, others less frequently. Social media has given us the ability to stay connected easier and in some cases connect again with long lost friends. But we still prefer old-fashioned face to face fellowship with our friends.

What a blessing friends are. A great line from the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” states, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

But as we age we have more and more “friends above”. The hymnwriter here is surely referring to those who have gone on to be with the Lord. Throughout life this lists grows till there’s a point our “friends above” exceed “friends on earth”. Our seniors at the nursing home tell us they have more friends and family in heaven than here on earth. I like the story about the elderly lady in the nursing home that was living long on this side and was worried that her “friends above” would think she didn’t make it!

I have two friends who are now in their 80’s. They didn’t know each other most of their lives but in the last several years have become good friends. Of course we continue to develop new friendships along the way and expect that many of these will also become long-term.

Our daily text speaks of a future event all believers look forward to. It’s a time when “friends on earth and friends above” will gather in heaven.

It’s a familiar passage dealing with what is commonly called the rapture. Today though we want to consider especially this thought, “We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

This describes a great gathering of family and friends who are redeemed; a time when “friends on earth and friends above” will converge together with Jesus in their midst. It will be the ultimate gathering and will include several notable, distinct features, unlike any gathering ever held here on earth:

  • It will include all who have lived for Christ (believers). We are now separated by the time in which we lived (generation) and where we have lived (geography).
  • Our “family and friends” will be greatly expanded. Those who followed Christ will be there from every tribe and language and people and nation. What a joy the last several months to get to know our Zimbabwean neighbors. I consider so many we have never met that would provide even more depth and richness to my life. The redeemed from all the ages will be at this gathering. Our common bloodline will be the divine, redeeming blood of Jesus Christ! We finally get to meet many of you we have only connected with through email or on the web through this ministry. We’ll meet our courageous brothers and sisters contacting us from closed countries who currently experience persecution.
  • It will be in the loveliest location. It will far, far exceed any place we gather on this earth. We’ve been to some mighty pretty areas, as the Creator sure made a masterpiece on this earth, but this gathering will be in heaven. Though John the Revelator gives us a glimpse into the new Jerusalem no eye has seen nor can the imagination conjure up all that is in store for the believer.
  • We will be with Christ. Theologian R.C. Sproul writes, “Eternal life for the individual is not an empty human aspiration built on myth, but an assurance promised us by Christ Himself. His own triumph over the grave is the church’s hope for our participation in His life.”
  • This gathering will be forever. No more tearful hugs of departure. No more, “See ya next year” when that just may not be the case. No, in this ultimate reunion “We will be with the Lord forever.” Notice that wonderful pronoun “we”, which refers to both the dead in Christ as well as those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord. And it will include the abiding presence of the Lord. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Won’t it be wonderful there! Today we “encourage you with these words” as directed in the Scriptures. One glorious day “friends on earth and friends above” will all be together transitioning to their eternal reward and fellowshipping together forever.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I consider the character traits that make a healthy friendship: loyalty, compassion, kindness, honesty, patience, forgiveness and a listening ear are just a few of the qualities that are evident in a good friendship. There are so many stories in the Gospels where these qualities are easily seen in the friendships Jesus had with the disciples and others. May the foundation of my friendships be based on godly traits as I come alongside my friends to encourage, challenge, inspire, and stimulate them toward good works in Your name.  Amen.


“Friends On Earth And Friends Above”

Do you recognize the hymn where this line comes from? (See below)

“Friends on earth”
Pierce family 7/13/15
Yesterday afternoon our friends Ken and Nila and children stopped by for a few minutes. They had been working at his parent’s house in anticipation of an open house on Saturday. His parents, Luke and Anna Mae, now reside in Longwood Manor, a nursing facility we serve as chaplains. Just an few weeks ago we were preparing to say good-bye on this side as he was nearing death at our local Hospice. But God had other plans and restored him. He is back at Longwood much stronger and he continues to be a blessing to those around him. We met his son, Ken, right after we moved to Lancaster County in 2001 and he has been a tremendous blessing to our church and to us personally. He married Nila several years later and we have enjoyed watching the family grow. We saw each of these children on the day they made their entrance into the world, including David, the son in the middle, whose 8th birthday is today!  Happy Birthday!

Pierce family July 14, 2007
David, the oldest son, on the day of his birth in 2007.

“And friends above”
Bill Shibilo with Ester (mid-nineties)

Fifteen years ago this month our friend Bill Shibilo went to be with the Lord. He was a longtime faithful member of the church we served in New England during the nineties. He and his wife Veda, who is still living, were very supportive of our ministry. We thank God for our “friends above”. Not only are we looking forward to the reunion, but Ester can hardly wait to see Bro. Bill again. In this photo he is graciously and voluntarily preparing our garden, located right next to the side of the church we pastored in Taunton, MA (part of our small yard). Our parsonage was on the other side of this photo. Ester always enjoyed chatting with him and staying with them.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

The line “Friends on earth and friends above” comes from the third stanza of…
“For The Beauty Of The Earth”  Video

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

“Won’t It Be Wonderful There”  Video  Homecoming Singers

Carl White’s Legacy  Video


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: