Becoming Best Friends with God
In the last sermon, we saw how the new testament shows how Jesus courted us, set up a marriage contract with use and will return for us after preparing a place for us in His fathers house. We looked at the Jewish traditional marriage and how we can see similar events occurring in the new testament. What a glorious thought, what a comforting thought. That the lord would chose me to be united in this way two flesh becoming one. Joined together in the most holy of matrimonies. But this is not the only promise of the new testament. We see that He also invites us into another kind of relationship.
Friendship with God is possible only because of the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. "All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends." (2 Corinthians 5:18) (TEV) The old hymn says, "What a friend we have in Jesus," but actually, God invites us to enjoy friendship and fellowship with all three persons of the Trinity: our Father,(1 John 1:3) the Son, (1 Corinthians 1:9) and the Holy Spirit.(“ Corinthians 13:14) Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) The word for friend in this verse does not mean a casual acquaintance but a close, trusted relationship. The same word is used to refer to the best man at a wedding (John 3:28) and a king's inner circle of intimate, trusted friends. In royal courts, servants must keep their distance from the king, but the inner circle of trusted friends enjoy close contact, direct access, and confidential information. That God would want me for a close friend is hard to understand, but the Bible says, "He is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you. (Exodus34:14) God deeply desires that we know him intimately. In fact, he planned the universe and orchestrated history, including the details of our lives, so that we could become his friends. The Bible says, "He made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him." Act 17:26,27)
Knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God's greatest pleasure. God says, "If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me.... These are the things that please me." (Jeremaiah 9:24)
It's difficult to imagine how an intimate friendship is possible between an omnipotent, invisible, perfect God and a finite, sinful human being. It's easier to understand a Master-servant relationship or a Creator-creation relationship or even Father-child. But what does it mean when God wants me as a friend? By looking at the lives of God's friends in the Bible, we learn six secrets of friendship with God. We will look at two secrets in this chapter and four more in the next.
BECOMING A BEST FRIEND OF GOD
constant conversation. You will never grow a close relationship with
just attending church once a week or even having a daily quiet time.
with God is built by sharing all your life experiences with him. Of
is important to establish the habit of a daily devotional time with
God, but he
wants more than an appointment in your schedule. He wants to be
every activity, every conversation,
every problem, and even every thought. You can carry on a continuous,
open-ended conversation with him throughout your day, talking with him
whatever you are doing or thinking at that moment. "Praying without
ceasing" (1 Thess 15:17) means conversing with God while shopping,
driving, working, or performing any other everyday tasks. Knowing and
God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God's
pleasure. A common misconception is that "spending time with God" means
being alone with him. Of course, as Jesus modeled, you need time alone
God, but that is only a fraction of your waking hours. Everything you
do can be
"spending time with God" if he is invited to be a part of it and you
stay aware of his presence. The classic book on learning how to develop
constant conversation with God is Practicing the Presence of God. It
written in the seventeenth century by Brother Lawrence, a humble cook
French monastery. Brother Lawrence was able to turn even the most
and menial tasks, like preparing meals and washing dishes, into acts of
and communion with God. The key to friendship with God, he said, is not
changing what you do, but changing your attitude toward what you do.
normally do for yourself you begin doing for God, whether it is eating,
bathing, working, relaxing, or taking out the trash. Today we often
must "get away" from our daily routine in order to worship God, but
that is only because we haven't learned to practice his presence all
Brother Lawrence found it easy to worship God through the common tasks
he didn't have to go away for special spiritual retreats. This is God's
Another of Brother Lawrence's helpful ideas was to pray shorter conversational prayers continually through the day rather than trying to pray long sessions of complex prayers. To maintain focus and counteract wandering thoughts, he said, "I do not advise you to use a great multiplicity of words in prayer, since long discourses are often the occasions for wandering." In an age of attention deficit, this 450-year-old suggestion to keep it simple seems to be particularly relevant. The Bible tells us to `pray all the time.” How is it possible to do this? One way is to use "breath prayers" throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath: "You are with me." "I receive your grace." "I'm depending on you." "I want to know you." "I belong to you." "Help me trust you." You can also use a short phrase of Scripture: "For me to live is Christ." "You will never leave me." "You are my God." Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart. Just be sure that your motive is to honor God, not control him. Practicing the presence of God is a skill, a habit you can develop. Just as musicians practice scales every day in order to play beautiful music with ease, you must force yourself to think about God at different times in your day. You must train your mind to remember God. At first you will need to create reminders to regularly bring your thoughts back to the awareness that God is with you in that moment. Begin by placing visual reminders around you. You might post little notes that say, "God is with me and for me right now!" Benedictine monks use the hourly chimes of a clock to remind them to pause and pray "the hour prayer." If you have a watch or cell phone with an alarm, you could do the same. Sometimes you will sense God's presence; other times you won't. If you are seeking an experience of his presence through all of this, you have missed the point. We don't praise God to feel good, but to do good. Your goal is not a feeling, but a continual awareness of the reality that God is always present. That is the lifestyle of worship. Everything you do can be "spending time with God" if he is invited to be apart of it and you stay aware of his presence.
The reason God considered Job and David his close friends was that they valued his Word above everything else, and they thought about it continually throughout the day. Job admitted, "I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.' 2° David said, "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." "They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them. " Friends share secrets, and God will share his secrets with you if you develop the habit of thinking about his Word throughout the day. God told Abraham his secrets, and he did the same with Daniel, Paul, the disciples, and other friends. When you read your Bible or hear a sermon or listen to a tape, don't just forget it and walk away. Develop the practice of reviewing the truth in your mind, thinking about it over and over. The more time you spend reviewing what God has said, the more you will understand the "secrets" of this life that most people miss. The Bible says, "Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises." (Psalm 25:14) In the next chapter we will see four more secrets of cultivating a friendship with God, but don't wait until tomorrow. Start today by practicing constant conversation with God and continual meditation on his Word. Prayer lets you speak to God; meditation lets God speak to you. Both are essential to becoming a friend of God.