How Do I Become Friends With God?

“What a friend I have in Jesus,” starts the old song, but did you know that God isn’t friends with everyone? It’s true. God reserves his friendship for a certain group of people and this thought was something I had never considered. I have always thought that God was simply a friend to all.

We know that God was friends with Moses. In Exodus 33, it says that Moses built a tent of meeting outside of the camp in order to spend time with God. Moses and his servant Joshua would go out to this tent and it says in Exodus 33:11 that Moses met with God “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”

One obvious conclusion here is that God is a friend to those who want to meet with Him. He is a friend to those that will remove all distractions and spend time with Him. Moses was that kind of guy. He knew the importance of spending time with God. But I think there is more to friendship with God than just that.

Jesus tells us of those that aren’t his friends in Matthew 7 at the tail end of the Sermon on the Mount, even though they know all of the religious lingo and they do good works.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to the, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus says that just because you may say the right things and do some good works, does not mean that He knows you. What a sobering statement. Many who go to church may fall into this category — they know how to walk the way and they know how to talk the talk, but they don’t know Him. What a scary thought!

The key to knowing Him is found in the first sentence, “not everyone…will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father…” Jesus here is saying that if you want to be known by Him, if you want to be a friend of God, then you must do His will. We must seek to accomplish His desires. In one sense friendship is all about what you can do for others, not what they can do for you. And friendship with God is very much like this. Jesus is saying our friendship with God is dependent upon us doing the will of the Father. And doing for Him requires a relationship with Him.

One of the problems we have is that we have watered down that word “relationship” so much, that it’s almost void of any meaning at this point. “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship,” we hear people saying. But this isn’t just about a self-identifying verbal acknowledgement from us, it’s deeper than that. Paying God some lip service or simply “showing up” on Sunday mornings doesn’t constitute a true relationship.

So how do we become friends with God? The Bible gives us the answer.

“The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”

Psalm 25:14

The fear of the Lord truly is the beginning of wisdom and it’s also the beginning of friendship with Him. If we truly see Him for who He is and we honor and respect Him, guess what? We are His friends! God reserves His friendship for those who revere Him!

Just as Moses feared the Lord, we too should fear the Lord. Just as Abraham feared and honored the Lord, we should do the same. When we become friends with the Lord, he allows us to enter into a place of special knowledge. He makes known to his friends, his covenant. In other words he enters into a special relationship with His friends. Do you want that today? Then the answer is to fear Him.

The Fear of God Produces Change

Some people fear change. They love the normalcy of life. They look at life and hope that everything will always stay the same. They do not embrace the many changes in life. After all, if things are good, why would you want things to change?

I heard a wise person say once that the only certain thing in life is uncertainty. Or another way of looking at that is that the only thing in life that stays the same is change. Change always happens around us. We grow older, we get married, we have children, our children grow up, we retire — things change.

Change is a healthy part of life. We enjoy the benefits of new seasons in our life because of change. For example, when my wife and I first got married, I wasn’t sure it could get any better than those first few years! We lived in a condo on the water and we spent our evenings taking walks down by the water with our little dog. It was very picturesque. And even though we both worked a lot, when I was home, it felt like we were on vacation together.

But change is inevitable. We knew we couldn’t stay in the place forever. We wanted to own a house and have children. So we moved and had four wonderful children and they brought us even more joy than we could have imagined. So things changed around us, but God was good to us in the change.

Now external change is one thing, but internal change is another. Internal change, or change in the heart, is much harder to come by. I’ve known people will a lot of self-inflicted problems get fed up and decide to move to a different city. What they soon find is that their problems have followed them to their new destination! They never addressed the internal issues, so the change in external situations didn’t result in the happiness they were seeking.

Now in church, we are no different. Many people hop from church to church and are full of complaints. They leave one church because of some minor issue that they have blown out of proportion when in reality, the real problem is not in the church, it’s inside themselves.

Continue reading “The Fear of God Produces Change”

Fear Creates Slaves

Fear is a powerful motivator. Corrupt governmental regimes have seen this for years. Kings and Presidents have used fear to motivate people to do what they wanted. Motivation from fear is much easier to accomplish than motivation from inspiration. The United States just recently went through an election of our political leaders in 2020. This election was marked by fear on both sides of the aisle – people being motivated to vote for or against a particular candidate because of fear.

And while 2020 was the most recent example, this tactic has been used before. As the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc 1:9). The enemy of our souls uses this same tactic to create servants through fear. We become enslaved to the flesh and to the enemy over many years by being bombarded by fear. This is a life principle: You will serve whatever it is that you fear.

The Bible connects service and fear on several different occasions. It’s not a coincidence. God knows that what you fear, you will also serve. Now it is important to reiterate that the spirit of fear and the fear of the Lord are two different types of fear – the former being profane and the latter is holy reverence. The spirit of fear seeks servants through control, the fear of the Lord creates servants through love.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” Deuteronomy 10:12

The fear of the Lord in Deuteronomy is connected with walking in his ways or holy living, with loving God and with serving him fully. God isn’t asking us to fear Him in order to control us, He is reminding us here of who He is. When we see God seated in his proper place, when we get a revelation of who He is, then we will experience a healthy amount of holy fear or reverence toward Him.

Many times in the Bible, when a prophet or someone gets a vision of the Lord, what is the first thing that happens? They fall to the ground like a dead man. When we truly see the Lord for who He is, when we get a small taste of His glory, the fear of the Lord swells up within us and we fall down before Him.

Sadly, too often in churches today, we don’t see a fear of the Lord. What we see is prideful arrogance. We won’t even bow our knee in church because we are more concerned about what others may think about us, rather than what God thinks. We certainly wouldn’t want to lie prostrate on the ground for the entire church to see. In our arrogance, we stand in pride and as a result, the glory of the Lord doesn’t fill our houses of worship like it did in the Bible. God doesn’t reveal his glory to a prideful people, but to a reverent one.

If we truly want to live as free men and women, we must pray to the Lord and ask Him to rid us of that spirit of fear that is seeking to keep us in slavery. God is more than willing to break us out of that bondage. Jesus was anointed to set the captives free. Don’t let another day pass without letting God set you free. Pray today, “Lord, I am in bondage to the spirit of fear. I have been a slave to the fear of man and I need you to set me free. I cannot do this myself. I need you to set me free. Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me and setting me free today, in Jesus name I pray, amen.”

Three Ways to Overcome an Entertainment Addiction

Today we finish out our series called American Idolatry. Over the past several weeks, we’ve discussed how idolatry is found all throughout our culture. You can see where we have made idols out of very good things. These idols cannot save us. Money, sex, identity and family are all good things, but only when they are in their rightful place. But too often, we elevate these items to the position of God and that’s when they cease to be good things, but rather they become idols.

Today we are going to look at one more area of idolatry. Today we are going to discuss the idol of entertainment. This idol is found throughout our lives. We are constantly bombarded with distractions in the form of entertainment. Over the past ten years, it almost seems like it has multiplied. We now carry around “smart phones” in our pockets so we can stay entertained all hours of the day.

And part of the problem is once you get in the habit of constantly being entertained, it’s incredibly hard to cut it off. Instead of drugs, we have Continue reading “Three Ways to Overcome an Entertainment Addiction”

No Miracle? No Problem.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what happens when God doesn’t move…when He doesn’t perform a miracle…when he doesn’t heal someone. How do we handle that?

I know when I read the Bible my faith is built up. I see these awesome miracles being worked among Jesus and his disciples and it just gets me excited! I want to go out and pray for some sick people, I want to see something amazing happen. But I know that reality is, sometimes when you pray for someone, nothing happens. Or, nothing that we can see happens. Sometimes you just pray. And the person doesn’t get better. In fact, sometimes they die.

Some in the church would decry this type of “realistic” thinking as “stinkin’ thinkin'” or they would chastise me for my lack of faith. And I get it, we are told to have faith and to believe no matter what the outside looks like. I get it.

But today, I was struck by a small paragraph in the Bible about John the Baptist.

40“Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.” John 10:40-42

Here we read that even though John the Baptist never performed a sign, all that he said about Jesus was true. When I read this, I was struck by that testimony. And I started to pray. I am praying that even if I never see another miracle from God in my lifetime, all that I speak about Jesus would be true!

What a testimony to have! We are called to have faith and we are commanded to pray for the sick so that they can be healed, I never want to stop doing that, but more than anything, how precious would it be for Jesus to say all that you said about me was true!

I know my proclivity to sin. I know my shortcomings. I know where I fail, but oh that I might testify of Jesus with such accuracy that others would say this of me! When we testify of Jesus truthfully, others notice. And in that place, that place of honesty and truth, many will believe in Jesus.

 

Three Ways to Overcome Unbelief

In this episode we explore three ways to overcome unbelief. Our Good News segment is about a mother who changed her mind mid-abortion to save her twins. Our Unreached People Group are the Yadav of India. And Today’s Word comes to us from John 10.

Good News –

Mother Changes Mind Mid-Abortion

Unreached People Group –

Yadav of India

Today’s Word – John 10:11-21

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

How Great the Father’s Love For Us!

Today is Father’s Day. A day that we celebrate Father’s, the men who shaped our lives and loved us with unconditional love. Well, that’s what we’d like to celebrate, but reality is, most of us did not have a dad like that.

Perhaps you grew up in a home where your father was absent. He just wasn’t around. Or, perhaps your father was violent or abused you. Perhaps you grew up in a fairly normal household and your father was a mixture of good and bad. Or maybe your father drank too much. Or simply didn’t care.

No matter how you may characterize your father, it doesn’t mean your heavenly father is at all similar to your earthly father. If you are a Christian, you are told that you have been adopted into the family of God. Notice the word adopted. You are legally joined to God via adoption. This isn’t just a good idea or a nice thought, this is a legally binding transaction. You are now apart of God’s family.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1st John 3:1

We are God’s children. And what an amazing thing that is to think about! God himself is our father. And unlike our earthly fathers, He is perfect. He truly is a good father who cares for his children.

Too many times we relate to God the way we relate to our earthly fathers. We think that just because our earthly father didn’t want to spend time with us, that means our Continue reading “How Great the Father’s Love For Us!”

Interview with Craig Stover

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In this episode, I interview Craig Stover. Craig has an amazing testimony of how God saved him from not only his sins, but from himself. Craig and I also spend some time discussing marriage and how asking deep questions can bring you closer together as a couple. Be sure to share this episode with everyone you know. Prepare to be encouraged!

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