Friendship is a Choice
Did you know that you are as close to God as you choose to be?
Developing your friendship with God won’t happen by accident. It will take time, energy, and desire on your part.
BE HONEST with God.
God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but He does insist on complete honesty. Abraham questioned and challenged God over the destruction of the city of Sodom. God listened patiently to David’s many accusations of unfairness, betrayal, and abandonment. Jeremiah claimed that God had tricked him and Job was allowed to vent his bitterness in the midst of his ordeal. In all of these examples, God listened and did not dismiss His servants for their honesty.
What may appear to some as audacity is authenticity in God’s eyes. Be honest with God, sharing your true feelings, not what you think you ought to feel or say. David wrote, “I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. For I am overwhelmed.” (Ps 142:2-3). It is encouraging to know that all of God’s closest friends - Moses, David, Abraham, and Job did not mask their faults and bouts with doubt but rather, candidly voiced them openly and publicly. Expressing your true feelings is the first step toward intimacy with God.
OBEY GOD IN FAITH
Every time that you trust God’s wisdom and do whatever He says, even when you don’t understand it, you deepen your friendship with God. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (Jn 15:14). Although we hold a position of friendship with God with special privileges, we are still subject to the king and have to obey His commands. We are friends with God but we are not His equals. He is our loving God and we follow Him.
VALUE WHAT GOD VALUES
Friends care about what is important to the other person. The more you become God’s friend, the more you will care about the things He cares about. In Paul’s life, God’s agenda was his agenda, and God’s passion was his. “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me!” (2 Cor. 11:2 MSG). God cares about the redemption of His people and His lost children being found. Let’s do the same.
DESIRE FRIENDSHIP MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE
David said, “The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory.” (Ps. 27:4 LB) Paul wrote, “ [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly],” The truth is - you are as close to God as you choose to be. God told Jeremiah, “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” (Jer. 29:13 MSG)
Remember, it’s your choice. You are as close to God as you choose to be.
"Lord, as I seek you today, I will be honest with You.
I will share my true feelings with you, knowing that You always accept me.
I will trust and obey your direction, even when I don’t understand it.
Help me to see others the way You do.
Change my heart to value what You value - precious people.
Your friendship is my highest priority, no matter what.
I choose to seek after you, today and forever.
In Jesus’ Name."
Strengthening Your Friendship with God
As you continue to strengthen your friendship with God, remember constant communication with God as the first practical and daily practice. Secondly, remember:
Continual meditation on His Word.
Establishing a healthy friendship with God includes thinking about His Word throughout your day. As David said,
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works.and think about what you have done.” “I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendor and Your wonderful miracles.” (Ps. 143:5, 145:5 NLT)
It is impossible to be God’s friend apart from knowing what He says. You can’t love God unless you know Him, and you can’t know Him without knowing His Word. While you cannot spend all day studying the Bible, you can think about it throughout the day, recalling verses you have read or memorized and mulling them over in your mind. Meditation is simply focused thinking, a skill that anyone can learn and use anywhere.
When you think about a problem over and over, it is called worry. When you think about God’s Word over and over in your mind, that is true meditation. On your 40 Days of Life, determine to switch your attention from your problems to the promises from God’s Word. The more you meditate on God’s Word, the less you will have to worry about. A big reason that God considered Job and David his close friends was that they valued His Word above everything else. Job said,
Want to get the inside scoop with God? Develop the habit of thinking about His Word throughout the day. When you read the Word or hear a message, don’t carelessly walk away and forget it. Instead, develop the practice of reviewing the truth in your mind and thinking about it over and over. The more you spend meditating on what God has said, the more insights and understanding you will receive - the secrets that others may miss.
Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone He shares the secret of his promises." (Ps. 25:14)
Prayer’s focus lets you speak to God while meditation’s focus lets God speak to you. Both are essential to becoming a friend of God.
“Lord, today I will think about all that you have done in my life.
I will think about your Word throughout my day.
I will allow Your Word to speak to me.
Instead of focusing on my problems, I will meditate upon Your promises.
I will value your Word over natural food.
And as I do, I thank you for great understanding and insight into Your Word.
In Jesus’ Name”
Wanna Be My Friend?
Since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life.” (Rom 5:10 NLT)
Your relationship with God can be viewed as God our creator, Master, Judge, Redeemer, and Savior. But the most revealing truth is that your Almighty God yearns to be your Friend. In Eden, God’s ideal relationship with Adam and Eve was an intimate friendship and He wants the same with you. Adam and Eve delighted in God, and He delighted in them.
Moses and Abraham were called “friends of God” while David, Job, Enoch, and Noah also enjoyed intimate friendships with God. Friendship with God was not common in the Old Testament but Jesus changed all that. Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, the temple veil, symbolizing our separation from God, was split from top to bottom, indicating that direct access to God was once again available.
So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” “All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends.” (2 Cor. 5:18 TEV)
In John 15:15 Jesus reveals that He updated our relationship status with God to “friend” and no longer “servant.” The word for friend in this verse does not mean a casual acquaintance but rather that of a best man at a wedding or a member of the king’s inner circle of intimate trusted friends. It was someone with direct access to confidential information - a close friend.
God is passionate about His relationship with you and says, “If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me…. These are the things that please me.” (Jer. 9:24 TEV) Let’s discuss now the practical steps to becoming a close friend of God:
Through constant conversation.
Attending church regularly or even having a daily quiet time is not enough to grow a close relationship with God. More than just an appointment in our schedule, He wants to be included in every activity, every conversation, every problem, and even every thought of your day. Including God in this way qualifies as “praying without ceasing” as mentioned in 1 These. 5:17. 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. In Eden, worship was not an event to attend, but rather a constant attitude. Because God is with you all the time, no place is any closer to God than the place where you are right now.
Through focused words.
Another practical way to “pray without ceasing” is to breath simple prayer phrases throughout your day such as: “You are with me,” “I’m depending on you,” “I trust you now.” These short prayers will become rooted in your heart giving you a constant awareness of His presence with you. 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. Train your mind to remember God and to commune with Him as your friend.
Another practical help is posting notes of encouragement to yourself or setting a watch or cell phone alarm to read or speak His Word over your life. Your goal is a continual awareness of the reality that God is always present in your life. Doing so, will set you on the course to having a close friendship with God in which you truly delight in Him.
“Thank you Lord for restoring our friendship through Jesus.
Just like Moses and Abraham, I want to be your close friend.
I will speak with you regularly throughout my day.
In my activities, problems, struggles, and thoughts, I will include you.
I will purposefully speak your Word over my life.
I will be aware of Your presence at all times.
Thank you for considering me your friend.
I cherish that relationship and promise to cultivate it.
In Jesus’ Name.”
The Blessing of Surrender
When you fully surrender your life to God on a daily basis, you will experience His peace, freedom, and power.
But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!” (Rom 6:17-18 MSG).
As Joshua approached the biggest battle of his life, he encountered God, fell in worship before him, and surrendered his plans. That surrender led to a tremendous victory at Jericho. Isn’t it funny how victory comes through surrender. Instead of weakening you, surrender actually strengthens you.
Surrendered people are the ones God uses. God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, not because she was talented or wealthy or beautiful, but because she was totally surrendered to him. When the angel explained God’s improbable plan, she calmly responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.” (Luke 1:38). Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God.
Surrender is not simply the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Paul said,
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Cor 5:9).
Your wisest moments will be those when you say yes to God. And saying yes will require you to put away your self-will, stubborn pride, and personal ambition. You will never fulfill God’s purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans.
Make a deliberate and conscious decision to put Jesus in the driver’s seat of your life and take your hands off the steering wheel. Mastered by Christ, you will be able to handle anything. And just like Paul, you will be able to say,
I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me, that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” (Phil. 4:13 AMP).
As you continue your 40 Days of Life, remember that there is a moment of surrender and there is also the practice of surrender. Practicing surrender is a moment-by-moment and lifelong commitment. Jesus said,
If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NCV).
Stop arguing and struggling with God over His right to do with your life as He pleases. Today, make a decision to surrender to God’s grace, love, and wisdom.
“Lord, I make a decision to listen to You and only You today.
As I surrender my plans to You, bring victory in every area of my life.
Strengthen me in your power.
As you used Mary, use me. I accept whatever you want.
I surrender control of the steering wheel of my life to You.
May I be energized and infused with your strength today.”
An Attitude of Surrender
Surrender is an unpopular word because it is almost used in a negative way such as forfeiting a game, yielding to an opponent, or surrendering to authorities. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the most natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. Paul urged us to fully surrender our lives to God when he said, “…offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him This is the true worship that you should offer.” (Rom. 12:1 TEV). True worship - bringing God pleasure - happens when you give yourself completely to God. God wants your life - all of it.
Surrender to God is framed in His love for us. God is not a cruel master forcing us into submission and breaking our will. Instead, He gently leads us to Himself so that we might offer ourselves freely to Him. A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” Complete surrender to God will eventually eliminate the stress of having complete control of your own life.
Surrendering to God is also demonstrated in obedience, by saying, “Yes, Lord.” And how can you call Jesus your Lord unless you make the commitment to obey Him? After a night of failed fishing, Peter modeled surrender by saying, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5). Surrendered people obey God’s word, even when it doesn’t make sense to their natural minds.
Abraham followed God’s leading without knowing where it would take him. Hannah waited for God’s perfect timing without knowing when. May expected a miracle without know how. Joseph trusted God’s purpose without knowing why circumstances happened the way they did.
Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." (Ps. 37:7 GW)
On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus surrendered Himself to God's plan. He prayed, “Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” (Mark 14:36 NLT).
“Lord, thank you for giving me new life.
Because you gave me new life, I completely surrender my life to you.
I give you the reins of my life.
I give you control for you to use me for your purposes.
Even though it may not make sense to my natural mind, I still surrender.
Today, I offer myself in complete trust and surrender to Your will.”
Wanna Make God Smile?
It is possible to please God and we should pursue doing it with all our hearts. There was a man who made God smile and his name was Noah. “But Noah was a pleasure to the Lord.” (Gen. 6:8 LB). Because Noah brought pleasure to God, you and I are alive today. Let’s learn from Noah’s life what brought pleasure to God, making Him smile.
God smiles when we love Him wholeheartedly.
Gen. 6:9 says that, “Noah consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him.” This is what God wants most from you - a relationship. God made you to love you, and he longs for you to love him back. Jesus said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matt. 22:37)
God smiles when we trust Him completely.
Noah pleased God and trusted God, even when it didn’t make sense. Heb. 11:7 MSG tells us, “By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told….As a result, Noah became intimate with God.” Although Noah faced the challenges of never having seen rain before, living hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, and rounding up animals and caring for them, Noah didn’t complain once or make excuses. Trusting God completely means having faith that He knows what is best for your life.
God smiles when we obey him without question.
“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Gen 6:22 NLT) That means doing whatever God asks without reservation or hesitation. And God doesn’t owe you an explanation or reason for what he asks you to do. Understanding can wait but obedience cannot. And whatever you do, obey the Lord with enthusiasm. Notice the attitude of David, “Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord. As long as I live I’ll wholeheartedly obey.” Ps. 119:33 LB
God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually.
Noah’s first act after surviving the Flood was to express his thanks to God by offering a sacrifice. We offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. (Heb. 13:15)
God smiles when we use our abilities.
You may feel that the only time God is pleased with you is when you’re doing “spiritual” activities like reading your Bible, attending church, or praying. God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether you are working, playing, resting, or eating. Every human activity, except sin, can be done for God’s pleasure if you do it with an attitude of praise. When you consider your abilities know this, that there are no unspiritual abilities - only misused ones. So, start using your abilities for God’s pleasure.
Make pleasing God the goal of your life. There is nothing God won’t do for the person who is wholeheartedly passionate about pleasing Him.
“Lord, may my life bring you pleasure today.
Just like Noah pleased you, I desire to love you with all my heart.
I will trust you completely in everything that you lead me to do today.
I will obey you without questioning your plan for my life.
I may not see the whole picture but I will do whatever you ask with enthusiasm.
And I will remember to praise you every step of the way.
My goal is to please you today and every day of my life.”
A Lifestyle of Worship
You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased." (Rev 4:11)
In the same way that you were present at the natural birth of your children, I believe that God smiled when you entered this world and your arrival gave Him pleasure. Bringing enjoyment to God and living for His pleasure gives purpose to your life. Understanding this truth eliminates feelings of insignificance and gives worth to your life. What greater significance could you have than knowing that you are important to God and that He considers you valuable enough to keep you with Him for eternity.
God decided in advance to adopt into his own family by bringing us to bring himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Eph. 1:15 NLT)
Bringing pleasure to God through your life is called worship. Although we think of worship and all of its elements in terms of the songs we sing and what we extend to God in our church services, worship, in its truest sense is much more than that. Worship is a lifestyle.
These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” (Isaiah 29:13)
From this passage, we learn that worship is not a part of your life; it is your life. The Psalms make many references to “continually” worshipping from sunrise to sunset. Praise should be the first activity when you open your eyes in the morning and the last activity when you close them at night.
Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering.” (Col 3:23)
Our lifestyle of worship involves our entire lives, always aware of His presence in everything that we do. By constantly thinking of the Lord, you abide in His love. This is the essence of worship.
“Lord, thank you for looking upon my life with pleasure.
May my life today, everything that I do and think, bring worship to You.
I commit to engage and involve my entire heart in worship to you.
Even in the ordinary tasks of life, I will be mindful of you and give honor to You.
Accept the offering and worship of my life, today in Jesus’ Name.”
40 Days of Life
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