Friend of God

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What does it mean to be a friend of God? Let’s look at some friends of God to find characteristics.

Moses was a friend of God.

But not with my servant Moses.
Of all my house, he is the one I trust.
I speak to him face to face,
clearly, and not in riddles!
He sees the LORD as he is. Numbers 12:7-8

God trusted Moses. Moses saw God as he is.

David was a friend of God.

But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” I Samuel 13:14.

David’s heart was aligned with God’s heart.

Abraham was a friend of God.

21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”[g] He was even called the friend of God.[h] 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. James 2:21-24

Abraham was right with God. His faith and actions worked together.

Abraham believed God.

Jesus called his disciple friends.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.John 15

What is the chief characteristic of friendship in this passage? LOVE.

Obedience = Love = Joy = Friendship

Jesus chose us and now he wants us to choose him. Then he wants us to love each other. Friendship is expressed by love.

The Greek has 2 words for “friend.” – philos and hetairos.

Philos means “loved, dear, befriended.” It denotes intimacy. Jesus used philos to describe the friendship of his disciples in John 15. This is the word used in John 11:11 to describe Lazarus. Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

Hetairos means “comrade or companion.” It denotes a misleading friendship, people who are followers but follow for their own advantage. Jesus used hetairos in Matthew 26:50 when he talked with Judas. “Hetairos, (friend), do what you came for.”

We get to decide which kind of friend we want to be. Will be be a friend like Moses, David, Abraham? The Disciples? Will we be an Hetairos friend? Will we be a Philos friend? We get to choose.

Resurrected Soul

Monday, January 21, 2013

When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, they said, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” For the wordsick the message included the Greek word astheneo, which translates “to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless” (New Testament Greek Lexicon). They wanted to communicate that Lazarus was suffering from a very serious illness, one that had left him powerless.

There are times when we all need to send an urgent message to Jesus. We all at times feel “weak, feeble, without strength, and powerless.” Sometimes our message refers to a physical illness, but sometimes it refers to spiritual illness.

Lazarus’s body was asleep, but sometimes our souls are asleep. Lazarus was physically dying, yet our souls can be dying as well.

How does it look to have a sleeping soul? We might have a soul that has become hardened. A soul that is filled with bitterness. A soul that is angry. A soul that has given up. A soul that feels hopeless. A soul that is lonely. A soul that is judgmental.

What might your message be to Jesus?

“Lord, the one you love is ___________________________________.”

Lazarus experienced a resurrection, an awakening of the body. Do we need to have a soul awakening? A resurrected soul?

Scripture reminds us to “wake up” our souls from darkness. Christ will give us light.

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Romans 13:11-12 (NLT)

For it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Ephesians 5:14 (NIV)

When we give God our weak, feeble, and powerless souls, he will give us light, hope, and direction.

We move from darkness to light.

From death to life.

From fear to faith.

From foolishness to wisdom.

From sleeping to waking.

Christ always responds to our messages! We need to make sure we send them!

In the Meantime

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How do you cope with that in-between time when you are waiting for God to do something? How do you live“in the meantime?”

In Bethany Mary and Martha knew that Jesus could heal their very sick brother, Lazarus. They sent an urgent message to Jesus and then began the waiting and praying and waiting and praying. They were living “in the meantime.” In the Jewish culture, a person was not actually accepted as being fully dead and with no chance of coming back to life until after three days. The Jews would “sit shiva” for three day for grieving purposes. May and Martha must have been beside themselves with grief waiting for Jesus.

“In the meantime” Jesus was with his disciples 20 miles away, across the Jordan River where they had retreated for a few days before Jesus’ arrest. Jesus spent time praying, teaching, and preparing his disciples for his death. When Jesus received the 911 message, he assured his disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” He stayed two more days before returning to Bethany.

John 11 tells us that Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The family was safe in the hands of God. While it seemed to Mary and Martha that they had been abandoned by Jesus, the truth is that he had a bigger plan. Jesus “awakened” Lazarus after four days, a miracle that showed the world God’s glory. We are all in the same good hands during our “in the meantime.” God loves us, is faithful to us, and has a plan for us that is far better than any plan we can design.

We get to choose how we live “in the meantime.” I have many “in the meantime” experiences. One was in an ambulance. My sons and I dropped by the house we were building to see the progress. My 9-year-old Jordan ran up the stairs to see his room. When he jostled the 8 sheets of sheetrock weighing over 300 lbs, they fell on top of him. Hearing the blood curdling scream, his 14-year-old brother Josh and I ran to see what had happened. Josh, with what can only be described as a miracle, lifted that sheet rock off him enough so that I could pull Jordan out. Jordan’s words were, “Mommy, I can’t feel my legs.” The ambulance arrived and Jordan was placed in the back, but I was not allowed to sit next to him. I sat in the passenger seat in front and endured the longest ride of my life wondering if my son was paralyzed. The questions that plague us “in the meantime” began to surface. Why did this happen? Would he would ever walk again? Would he play baseball? Would he swim again? I fervently prayed that God would intervene. “In the meantime” seemed like a cruel time with my son “alone” in the back of the ambulance and his mommy “alone” in the front. God was still ever present. Jordan had a broken pelvis. He spent months recuperating, spent time in a wheelchair and then on crutches and re-learning to walk. It was a wonderful day when Jordan was given the okay to run. While I was “in the meantime,” God was at work. He never left us. He never leaves us. That year in school, Jordan received the Luke 2:52 award for his positive spirit. “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people” (Luke 2:52).

Yes, we get to choose how we live “in the meantime.” I penned a poem called “On the Brink” which describes living “in the meantime.” It concludes with these lines

“It’s scary on the brink

Of fear

Tottering on the precipice of the unknown

Believing I must step forward into the foothold of God’s firm hand

Yet fearing a fall backwards into the abyss of doubt and anger and solitude


You see…when we live “in the meantime” we get to choose whether we will fall forward in faith or fall backwards into the abyss of fear. It all comes down to FAITH.

May we all “grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all people” ----even “in the meantime.”

Grace, Gratitude, Favor = Joy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Spirit of the Lord is on me…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 

 Luke 4:18-19

As I consider my “resolve” for 2013, I am focusing on the connectedness of four powerful words: grace, gratitude, favor, and joy. As I look forward to this new year, I’m vowing to live in the favor and blessings of God’s grace and to show gratitude for both during 2013. This right living will result in an abiding joy that can only be found in God.

As I have focused these last few weeks on the cycle of grace, gratitude, favor, and joy, I’ve come to realize that it is “all Greek to me!” The Greek interpretation of these words has been eye opening, thought provoking, and has assured me that we have the potential for a joy-filled life because of God’s amazing grace.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:15 that grace increases thanksgiving. He evokes the image of the cyclical aspects of God’s grace and our gratitude. As more people experience God’s grace, there is more thanksgiving and God’s name is glorified.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way

For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.
The connection between the Greek words for “grace” and “gratitude” is powerful. The Greek word for gratitude (eucharistian) is built on the word for grace (charis). A simple translation might read, “It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase gratitude to the glory of God.” We truly experience God’s grace when we have a heart of gratitude.

Charis or grace is God’s merciful kindness, our unmerited favor. The New Testament Greek Lexicon describes charis as God exerting his holy influence on our souls. He “keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian values.” God reaches out to us with his grace and wants to change our lives. He wants a close abiding relationship with us so that he can bless us in ways that we can never imagine. Gratitude is our response to his grace. When we allow ourselves to fully experience the grace of God, we want to show God our gratitude.

To further illustrate the connection between grace, gratitude, and favor, let’s look at the Old Testament. The Hebrew word chen, meaning grace or favor, is the closest translation of the Greek word charis. In Proverbs we are called on to store God’s commandments in our hearts then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Proverbs 3:4. Once again we see the relationship between God’s amazing grace and favor.

The English translation of these words – grace, gratitude, favor - has caused us to separate our understanding of words that were intended to be connected. Grace, gratitude, and favor are all related, linked, intertwined!

This cycle of grace and gratitude continues as we develop our personal relationship with God. We live in his grace, show him our gratitude, and experience his abundant favor and blessings. The final word in this equation is joy. The Greek word for joy (chara) has the same root word as grace and gratitude. Strong’s Concordance defines chara as joy because of grace. Joy is the fruit of a right relationship with God. Jesus spoke of joy to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion. "I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! ” (John 15:11). He wanted them to love him, to obey him, and to abide in him and promised that in doing so, they would be filled with joy.

For 2013 I want the charis, eucharistian, chen, and chara life! Yes, I want a life filled with grace, gratitude, favor, and joy. The principle of sowing and reaping can bring a life of ultimate joy. When we sow love, joy, encouragement, and peace into others’ lives, we will reap a life of blessings and favor. Scripture tells us how to enjoy this beautiful cycle of God’s grace, gratitude, favor, and joy.

Accept God’s grace and forgiveness.

For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD. Proverbs 8:35

Grow in a relationship with Him.

May God give you more and more grace (undeserved favor) and peace (Shalom of God) as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

Show gratitude to God.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

Live in expectation of His abundant favor.

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. (AMP) 2 Corinthians 9:8

Experience the joy of God’s grace, blessings, and favor.

"I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! ” (John 15:11).

May 2013 bring you all the joy God has in store for you as you live in his grace and experience his favor with all gratitude!

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