A Friend of God
By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we study God’s word and try to understand what kind of faith we should have in these last days. I pray that you and your family are seeking God with all your hearts and that this message will greatly encourage you in the walk of faith.
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God bless you as you listen to today’s message. Let us begin with prayer. Our Father in heaven, we need Your Holy Spirit today to teach us how to think and act like God. We want to be in heaven and we want Jesus in our hearts. We long for His presence and His love. Teach us today through the word of God what it means to be God’s friends. In Jesus name, amen.
Did you know that there are only two types of people in this world? Yes, it’s true. Of all the billions of people, of all the many races and nationalities, of all the infinite variations in personality, there are just two categories of people, just two classes.
And it is really simple to understand. One class loves and obeys God and the other does not. One class is a friend of God the other is an enemy. Yes, that’s right. There are only two types of people. I’ll go even further and tell you that a person in either class can switch sides at any time. But it is a free choice. It has nothing to do with your social status. It has nothing to do with your temporal success. It has nothing to do with your race, or ancestry. It doesn’t have anything to do with your church affiliation. A person can be on one side or the other no matter what their relationship is to any of these things. Here it is in scripture.
Listen to this verse. It is found in James 4:4. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
So, the apostle tells us that there are only two possibilities. Either I am a friend of God or I am His enemy. Now, that would be very hard for some people to accept. There are many who think that they can be members of the church, but still live lives that are completely out of harmony with the gospel.
Jesus also said something just as stark and just as compelling, in fact, more so. Jesus draws the contrast clearly by saying these words in the gospel of Matthew 6:24. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Keep in mind that Jesus was talking to church people in this verse. He was talking to those who thought they were ok because they were members of the church or because they were born in a religious society that at that time was God’s true church. He was telling them that their friendship with the world was causing them to hate God, and to hate Christ and that they would eventually crucify Him because they loved the world more than they loved God.
So, the gospel therefore must change your practical life. It is transforming because when you accept Christ, He sends His Holy Spirit into your heart to shed abroad the love of God. Here it is from Romans 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
So, what does it mean to have the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Most people would say that this means that God’s love toward the sinner comes into his heart, and he senses that God loves him. And how true that is. Do you sense God’s love in your heart?
But there is another way in which the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. God’s love actually goes three ways. When the Holy Spirit sheds abroad God’s love in our hearts, he is also putting love for God there too and love for our fellow man. For when we see the love of God, we are also drawn to love Him in return. It doesn’t make any sense to think that God does not want our love in return, or that he does not want us to love others as He loves them. That is the whole point of the gospel. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” After all, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
But my point here is that there is a natural response to the love of God in the heart. It is love in return. It starts with God who loved us first. We are incapable of loving Him until He has shed abroad His love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Then we love Him in return. Do you see it there in your Bible?
Now, which class of people do you think are in the majority in the world, those who love God or those who are at enmity against God or who are His enemies? Yes, that’s right; the enemies of God are in the majority. But here is a more pointed question: Within the church, which side is the larger side? While you may think that the majority of Christians are on God’s side, and while they profess to be on God’s side as members of the church, in which class do most of them belong; those that truly love God, or those that are at enmity with God? I dare say that most church members are at enmity with God because they love still the world. They come to church because it is the socially correct thing to do. But in their hearts they do what they want to do.
But Pastor Mayer how can you say that? Well, the fact is that most Christian people still love to do all those things that they know are not according to God’s will. They still eat what they want to eat. They still drink what they want to drink. They still watch things that they want to watch. The still read things they want to read. Even though the Bible says “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31
But it isn’t just gross sins that are involved in this enmity toward God in the church. There are also little things that scripture reveals are not in harmony with God’s will that Christians indulge in that keeps them at enmity to God. They like to think that they are a friend of God because they go to church or they pray nicely, but they are really his enemies. Perhaps we can call them frenimies…
Judas was a frienemy, wasn’t he? He professed to love Christ, but he turned on Him. He even kissed him when he betrayed him. You cannot be more of an enemy than to undermine the very one whom you outwardly claim to love. Jesus picked up on it and explained it to his disciples when He said to Judas, “betrayest thou the son of man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48.
Of course God winks at genuine ignorance of His will. Even when people commit gross sins genuinely not realizing that they are acting like enemies of God. Look what is says in Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”
The Bible actually says a lot about sinning in ignorance. God “winks” at it, but it is still sin and must be atoned for. Listen to Leviticus 5:17-19 “And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD.”
Notice that the scripture says that sin is still sin, even if it is done in ignorance. Ignorance does not change the fact that it is sin. But the cross provides forgiveness to even those who commit sin and are genuinely not aware of it. Thank God for the sacrifice of Christ.
That is why He sends messengers in your life to open your eyes to see His truth. That’s why He sometimes arranges circumstances to bring you into connection with the truth. He wants you to understand the full truth of God for these last days. He sends various types of people to enlighten us and help us understand His will and the way we should live. But often we reject His will because it isn’t convenient, or it isn’t what we’ve been taught from a child up, or it just doesn’t make sense to us. And there are a lot of things that don’t make sense to our beclouded minds, right?
But, obviously, none of us here today want to be an enemy of God. And we certainly don’t want to be a frenemy of God. We want to be God’s friends. We want to be people whom God can trust with the power of His Holy Spirit.
So, the key question is; what does it mean to be a friend of God? If you are not His friend, you are His enemy. There is no other option. You don’t want to be an enemy of God, do you? So we had better understand what it truly means to be a friend of God.
The Bible gives us a very interesting history of a man who was known as the friend of God. And through his life, we can understand the kind of person you have to be in order to be a friend of God. This man was Abraham. But just because this was a man that God used to make a very great nation, it doesn’t mean that you cannot apply the same principles to your life. God can make a great nation of souls won through your witness if you are a friend of God.
Listen to what God says about Abraham. It is from Genesis 18:19. Christ was talking to the other angels that were with him when they visited Abraham about the coming destruction of Sodom for its great sin. “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
Notice that God had confidence in Abraham that he and his family would “keep the way of the Lord,” and that the result would be that the Lord would bring upon Abraham that which the Lord had promised… to make of him a great nation. There is a connection between keeping the way of the Lord and the blessings that God wants to bring upon his followers. That connection is vital to understand.
What is the “way of the Lord?” This is talking about the direction you are going in life or the path for your feet. There are two ways. There is the way of the Lord, and the “way of Cain.” Have you ever heard of the way of Cain?” That’s found in Jude 11. Listen carefully. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”
The Bible, in just a few amazing words makes grand statements about those who are not the friends of God. There are two men listed here beside Cain. They are Balaam and Core. Let us quickly look at these three men.
Notice that the way of Cain involves motives that are in conflict with heaven. It includes greed, idolatry, sensuality and bold presumption. You see, Cain was the father of rebellion and rejection of God’s law. The Bible says he did not follow in the “way of the Lord,” but that he went his own way. If you look at the life of Cain you can see the root of evil in the “way of Cain.”
Cain’s way was to bring an offering to the Lord that was different than what God had commanded. He thought he knew better than God. Instead of a lamb for a burnt offering, Cain brought the fruit of the ground. God did not accept his offering and he became jealous of his brother Abel, whose offering was accepted, and killed him. It’s all in Genesis 4.
Cain had been trained as a child by his parents, Adam and Eve, what kind of offering to bring to the Lord. But Cain was in rebellion. He did not want to obey God’s instructions. After all, since he had been a very successful farmer, he thought that God would accept the fruits of his labor instead of a lamb. But God had an important purpose in the sacrificial lamb. It pre-figured the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Cain was motivated by selfish desire to do his own thing instead of obeying God, and he presumptuously felt that God should honor him and give him the blessing anyway, even though he did not want God’s way.
Do you think that there are church members today who want God’s blessing, even though they disobey His instructions and His law? There certainly are! The “way of Cain,” according to the Bible, is disobedience to God’s commands. Many people, billions of them, in fact, want to do their own thing when it comes to worship. They think it doesn’t matter to God if they worship images, take God’s name in vain, or break the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth Commandment. They think it isn’t important to live in obedience to God’s word. The way of Cain has to do with false systems of worship.
The Ten Commandments say, for instance, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them…” Yet billions of people do just that all around the world. They pray before Buddha’s, Hindu gods, and images of saints. This is the way of Cain, my friends.
Balaam wanted the earthly reward that Balak had offered him for his cooperation in cursing Israel. He knew that this was not God’s will because he knew that while ever Israel obeyed God, they were blessed. He too disobeyed God’s express will because he was motivated by greed for reward. That interesting story, which includes his argument with a dumb animal, is found in Numbers 22-24.
Are there today, those who love mammon more than God’s truth like Balaam? What is more important, a little compromise for a present advantage, or fidelity to heaven’s eternal and perpetual law?
And Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram defiantly opposed Moses as God’s chosen leader of Israel. These men presumptuously demanded that they be given the same authority as Moses. They wanted power, influence and recognition. They wanted that which God had not appointed to them. They were Levites and Levites had a very special role in the tabernacle services. But they were motivated by desire for power and position. They died in bold defiance to the authority of God. Their story is found in Numbers 16.
You see, the “way of Cain” has all manner of problems with it. The Bible says that “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord” Genesis 4:16. That means that he turned his back on God and his law. He corrupted himself and his children. His descendants became so wicked that God finally had to destroy the whole earth by a flood. Cain, Balaam and Core were all frenemies of God. They all professed to be followers of God. They were all church members. But they were in rebellion and went their own way.
If you are a friend of God, you will walk in the path of obedience to the instructions that the Lord sets out before you. If you are an enemy of God, you will walk in the “way of Cain”
So, how do you know the “way of the Lord?” Abraham knew that the way of the Lord was to live a righteous life. That means that he lived right and lived in harmony with heaven. He was not in rebellion to God or his law. He did everything he could to point his family and all those who were members of his household, which numbered more than 1000 people, to the divine standard. This was the church is those days.
“The life of Abraham, the friend of God, was signalized by a strict regard for the word of the Lord” Conflict and Courage, page 49. That’s what it means to “keep the way of the Lord.”
In order to keep the “way of the Lord,” you first must possess God’s law in your mind and heart.
Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” If you hide God’s word in your heart that means that you live by it, and obey whatever God’s word says to do. If you want to walk in the way of the Lord, you have to know God’s word. It is as simple as that. Most Christians today don’t have a clue what God’s word says. They listen to the pastor or the priest at church, but that is the extent of it. They don’t study God’s word for themselves, so they have no idea whether what they heard in church is right or wrong. And many times it is wrong or at least not complete. Often they follow a tradition that doesn’t comply with God’s word.
Hiding God’s word in your heart means that you cherish what He says, and consequently it becomes your practice because you love Him and you want more of His word in your life.
What is God’s word anyway? Is it just the Gospels or the New Testament? No. The apostles themselves often referred to the Old Testament authoritatively. It was the foundation of their belief system. They did not believe that the Old Testament was no longer valid. But instead, they saw the Old Testament in a new light. Because of Christ, it was now understood in its proper setting.
Listen to what the apostle Paul says about the wickedness in the world today. I’m going to read from Galatians 5:19-26.
Notice that Paul lists the works of the flesh. If you think about each one of these, you can see clearly that there is one of the Ten Commandments broken by each one on this list. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…” Those are all dealing with the seventh commandment. Then we read: “Idolatry, witchcraft…” Those are the first two commandments concerning having no other God’s and not bowing down to graven images. Then we read about “hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…” These are all dealing with the sixth through ninth commandments.
Then the apostle says, “of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
So in other words, Paul is not only upholding the Ten Commandment law of the Old Testament in his letter to the Ephesians, but he is applying it in a different way than the Jews. The Jews had treated the law as an outward expression, but were corrupt through and through inside. Paul applied the law of God directly to the motives and operations of the heart. He is saying that an outward appearance of obedience to the law of God is not what is pleasing in God’s sight, when all manner of evil is in the heart. Paul is saying that far from doing away with the perpetual law of heaven, God wants obedience to the Ten Commandments from the heart.
Obedience is an expression of love and joy in the salvation that God has given us through Jesus Christ. Listen to what he says next in verse twenty two. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Hang on a minute. That’s powerful isn’t it? The Law, instead of an outward set of forms becomes the law of love, joy and peace, which manifests itself in “longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These are all character qualities, aren’t they? Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit changes the heart so that there is no longer the works of the flesh, or disobedience to the law of God. But instead there is love, joy and peace with all the other fruits in its train. These character qualities are also matters of the heart. And Paul is emphasizing the point that the law of God is to be written on the heart.
Here is what he says about the new covenant. Turn to Hebrews 8:10. Paul is quoting the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah when he says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”
Are you God’s people today? Do you walk in the way of the Lord like Abraham? Oh friends, Paul finally got it. He saw that the law was not done away with at the cross, but that there was a new and living way to understand it. He saw that once the law is hidden within the heart, as the Psalmist says in the Old Testament, that we keep it out of love to our God who gives us love, joy and peace and all other blessings when we do so. We don’t earn salvation by keeping the law because that’s utterly impossible. In Romans 1:17 he quotes another Old Testament prophet Habakkuk and says “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
You can’t walk in the way of the Lord; you can’t keep the Ten Commandments, or follow the Bible in anything unless you do so by faith. It is impossible to live righteously when Christ is not in the heart even though you may keep the law outwardly. Only with Christ in the heart can you truly keep God’s holy law.
Turn to Galatians 2:20 and it makes it very clear. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
So, if Christ lives in you, the love that you have for Him leads you to follow all that He says to do. But it is actually Christ in you that is doing righteousness. It is not you that does it. It is Christ. Christ will never lead you to disobey God’s holy and perpetual law. The Holy Spirit, which abides in the true believer, will never lead them to obey Satan’s suggestions or temptations.
The verse says, “The life that I now live in the flesh…” Did you notice the word flesh? That’s talking about what period of time? That’s talking about when we are alive on earth with flesh and bones; our earthly existence. It is not talking about some future time when the flesh is made new. This is not talking about when we get to heaven or the new earth. It is talking about right now. “The life that I now live…” is full of joy because the Holy Spirit brings into me His heavenly power to see, understand and resist temptations from Satan. I have victory because Christ lives in me. I have love, because Christ lives in me. I have joy, because Christ lives in me. And I have peace, because Christ lives in me. No longer do I disobey God’s law because I am no longer a subject of Satan. I now live for Christ. It is Satan that leads us away from keeping God’s law. He wants to ruin you so that you will not have eternal life. He wants to ruin your friendship with God. You don’t need that, do you?
Let us return to Galatians five and see what else Paul says there. Notice verse 24. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” In other words, those who have Christ writing His law in their minds and hearts have crucified the flesh. They no longer live unto themselves. They live unto God. They now have Paul’s understanding of God’s law.
Look at Verse 25. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” In other words, if we have the Spirit of God in us, we will also do the works of the Spirit, which leads us to fullness of joy in Christ through obedience to His revealed will.
Now, let us return to the life of Abraham for a few more minutes. Abraham’s father lived with his family in Ur of the Chaldees, which is near Babylon (or where the tower of Babel had been built) near the southern end of the river Euphrates before it joins the Tigris and then flows into the Persian Gulf.
After God had confounded the languages at the tower of Babel and the people scattered abroad, idolatry again became well-nigh universal. God saw that in the midst of prevailing apostasy, Abraham was a man whose heart was tender to the Lord. God chose Abraham to be the keeper of His law, the sacred oracles at that time, for future generations. Satan has always tried to obscure the true faith, but God has always had someone who would represent Him even when they are alone. Remember, that God’s true people are always in the minority. Abraham was faithful among the faithless, uncorrupted among the prevailing apostasy, and stood steadfast to the worship of the one true God.
Abraham knew that Ur of the Chaldees was not a good place for his family. He knew that God did not want him among all those idolatrous people. He could see that the idolatry of the families around them was weakening their faith. So, Abram took his father Terah and left Ur of the Chaldees with some of his family members and went north, up along the Euphrates River to a place called Haran. There they lived and gained substance. It was a fertile place and pleasant to live. But his brother Nahor and other family members were already so compromised with idolatry that they could not break free. So, when Terah died God came to Abram and gave him some more definite instructions.
In Genesis 12:1 we read. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” Then God promised that He would make of Abraham a great nation and a great blessing.
God knew that Abraham could not mature in his faith and obedience and walk in the way of the Lord, unless he was free from his early family influences. He had to be separated from them so that God could teach him precious lessons and strengthen his faith in God’s ways and means of doing things. Their influence would hinder him and interfere with the training God wanted for Abraham. No doubt while Abraham was there with them, his other family members kept quiet and had no quarrel with him.
But it was very difficult for Abraham to explain his decision to follow God’s instruction to his friends and other family members. They wouldn’t understand. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. His idolatrous kindred and friends could not comprehend his motives and actions.
So today, when someone decides to follow Jesus and all of His instructions, it is very difficult for family members and friends to understand their reasons for their decisions and actions.
So, when Abram told them that God had instructed him to leave them and go out not knowing where he would end up, they were probably alarmed. You can imagine the conversation.
“Abram, what are you doing?” asked his brother Nahor. “Why do you want to leave your father’s house? You have strong family ties. It is safe here. It is pleasant here. You have a good life. Why go off on your own, away from your family and friends? Besides you don’t know whether the soil where you are going is fertile. You don’t know if the climate is healthful. You don’t know whether the surroundings are agreeable to you. You don’t know if you will have opportunity to increase your substance. What are you going to live in, a tent?”
Abraham must have answered, “but God says that I must do this, and though I don’t understand it all, I’m going to follow God. I’m sure he will look after me.”
“But Abram, God doesn’t talk to us. Why should he talk to you? Do you think we’re not good enough to live with? Are you somehow so much better than us, that God talks to you? Come on Abram, this is a grand delusion. It is fanaticism.”
Abraham would no doubt answer, “I truly love all of you, but I cannot do what is for my convenience. I have to follow God’s instructions. I already follow His law, and you have not supported me in that. How can I continue here and live as I should before my God?”
“But Abram, you can live your faith here. You don’t have to go off by yourself to do that. You can help us restore our faith. Are you going to set up your own religion?”
“No, I’m not going to set up my own religion. I’m going to follow God’s true religion.”
“Well, how do you know that God is calling you to go away from here, especially if you don’t know where you are going? Don’t you think that is a little strange? What has gotten into you anyway? Your religion is making you a lunatic. You are confused. God doesn’t require you to do such extreme things. Don’t go off the deep end, Abraham.”
Friends, the happiest place on earth is the place where God wants you to be, even if those around you do not understand it. From the book Patriarchs and Prophets, page 126 we read the following. “Many are still tested as was Abraham. They do not hear the voice of God speaking directly from the heavens, but he calls them by the teachings of His word and the events of His providence. They may be required to abandon a career that promises wealth and honor, to leave congenial and profitable associations, and separate from kindred, to enter upon what appears to be only a path of self-denial, hardship and sacrifice. God has a work for them to do; but a life of ease and the influence of friends and kindred would hinder the development of the very traits essential for its accomplishment.”
Why does God do this? The reason, my friends, is so that you can learn to depend on God and trust Him for everything. He wants to reveal Himself to you in a way that would be impossible otherwise. He breaks up your fallow ground and changes your circumstances, and this is His providence to take you to a new level in your walk with God.
Listen to this one from same book, page 127. “Who will accept new duties and enter new fields, doing God’s work with firm and willing heart, for Christ’s sake counting his losses gain? He who will do this has the faith of Abraham, and will share with him that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” with which “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared.” 2 Corinthians 4:17, Romans 8:18
Calling Abraham away from his family was no small test, and no small sacrifice. But Abram didn’t question God. He did not hesitate to obey the call. God counted it to him for righteousness. He was planning to do something very special with Abraham. He was going to teach Abraham what faith really is. He was also going to put Abraham through some serious things so that Abraham could truly understand the mind of God, particularly the motives and reasons for the sacrifice of the coming Messiah. While going out from Haran was not the most logical thing to do, Abraham was willing to trust God. He was unique. Lot, Nahor’s son, went with him, but he did not have the deeper relationship with God.
What does the verse in Genesis 18:19 say? Let’s read it again. God said, “I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
Abraham “cultivated home religion. The fear of God pervaded his household. He was the priest of his home. He looked upon his family as a sacred trust. His household numbered more than a thousand souls, and he directed them all, parents and children, to the divine Sovereign.” Conflict and Courage, page 49
Think about this. Abraham did far more than most parents do today with their children. His first thought was of God and God’s will in everything. He communed with God himself. And God considered him a friend.
God said, “I know him.” What does this mean that God knew him? The Bible says in Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” To know Abraham meant that Abraham and God were thinking in much the same way. That means that Abraham molded his mind after God’s mind. Yes, he made his mistakes, but he always repented, and tried to understand God better.
Abraham and God were in agreement, and to be in agreement means that you have the same mind concerning the matters on which you agree. Abraham learned to trust God so much that he did everything in his power to learn how God thinks, so that he could agree with God. He was always ready to change his mind or adjust his thinking if he found out that he did not agree with God. And he learned that he was always a happier man if he did that.
Do you want to learn to be a friend of God? If you do, then you need to learn how God thinks, so that you can adjust your mind and heart to think like Him. Is that easy to do? No. You cannot do it unless you surrender your heart and mind to His instructions.
How do you learn what God’s instructions are? You study the Bible, which gives you deep insights into God’s thinking. As you study the Bible, it changes your thinking as well. The Bible is calculated to do that. If you read the stories of the Old Testament, you will learn lessons that apply to your life from the lives of those who walked with God.
The verse also says that Abraham did justice and judgment. The Bible is full of information about justice and judgment. Just read the Psalms and Proverbs. There is an incredible amount of the mind of God in these books of the Bible. If you want to think like God, you need to know these books well.
Doing justice and judgment means that Abraham was fair. He did not allow oppression of children, but also required obedience. He combined love and justice and ruled his household in the fear of God. There was no sinful neglect to restrain the evil propensities of his children, no favoritism, and no unwise indulgence. He did not let his affection for his family cause him to yield his convictions of duty – as is often the case today. He instructed his family in the fear and worship of God. And he maintained the authority of God’s law among his large household. Do you do that in your household? I hope so. If not, this would be a very good time to start.
Abraham feared God. What does this mean? It does not mean that Abraham was afraid of God. It means that Abraham loved, reverenced and worshipped God. Did you know that we can do the same today? It’s true. In Revelation 14: 6, 7, John the Revelator “saw an angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.” Notice what the angel says in a loud voice (which means a strong, clear presentation) in verse seven. “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
This verse, which is in the book of Revelation and speaking of the end times, is telling us to fear God too, just like Abraham. It means that we are to worship God with all our heart and soul and mind. It means that we are going to follow God’s instructions concerning worship, for this is part of the everlasting gospel. Keep in mind that Satan has always opposed the worship of God. He wants us to worship himself or his own ideas of worship instead. So he does everything he can to distract us from the true principles of worship, and lead us to disobey God’s instructions for worship.
I want you to notice that in the context of fearing God, He tells us that we are to worship the creator who made the earth and all that is in it. By reminding us of creation, God is also reminding us of the seventh-day Sabbath, which Genesis 2:2-3 says God blessed and sanctified.
This means that God’s friends will honor God’s holy Sabbath day right down at the end of time, according to Revelation. The law was never changed. There is no evidence of this anywhere in scripture. If you don’t follow God’s instructions, you cannot have His blessing and you won’t learn how to think like God.
So, why do so many Christians keep Sunday, a day that God has not sanctified and blessed? It is because they do not understand God’s mind. Though many do not want to follow His instructions, there are also some who have never heard the truth about this. Those who search the scriptures for light and truth soon learn that God’s way of thinking is not in harmony with the majority. Not only that, you will soon learn that God’s way of thinking is not always logical. Human logic is at odds with God’s.
As Abraham learned to think like God, he began to act like God. And that meant that he would be quite different from the people of the nations and tribes around him. That’s what it means when it says that he kept “the way of the Lord.” He walked in God’s way. He followed God’s instructions, not those of the world around him.
Now I want you to notice something else about Abraham. This is very interesting. Turn with me to Genesis 12:7. When Abram came to Canaan, idolatry was all around there too, and this distressed him. There were groves with pagan alters. False worship was everywhere. But Abram did not lose his faith in God’s leading. Listen to what it says, “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.”
Why did Abram build an altar? It is because he wanted a place to pray and commemorate his experience with God. He also wanted a place where he could bring his family to worship God.
Then in verse eight it says, “And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.”
Do you see it? He again built an altar. In fact, wherever Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar to the Lord nearby. There he would offer morning and evening sacrifice to the Lord with his whole household gathered around. This also tells us that he was a man of prayer. Abraham could not live a day without prayer. And he taught his family by example how important prayer really is. He had to have a place where he could come and bring his family and be with God each day of his life. He was a friend of God.
Do you have a family altar in your home? Do you have morning and evening prayer? You should you know. That will help you become a friend of God. It will help you begin to think like God. Talking to God is important. He loves to hear your prayers.
Whenever Abraham removed his tent and moved away to another place the altar remained as a witness to Abraham’s walk with God.
Here is something else to consider. As you get closer to God, He tests your faith and constancy. He does this to strengthen your faith and your commitment. He is not trying to trip you up. That’s not the way God works. He is working to purify you and mature you in your faith. And this is what he did with Abraham. If you read verses 9-10 of Genesis 12, you can see what happened.
“And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.”
God sometimes does this… He goes through incredible measures to lead His children. In this case, He brought or allowed a famine in all of Canaan just to test Abraham’s faith in his leading. Do you think God would do that in your life? I bet He would. He is more interested in your spiritual maturity than you can imagine. He will make an expensive investment in your salvation. He sometimes turns your whole world upside down, just so that you will understand Him and learn to trust Him.
Listen to this most comforting statement from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 129. “The Lord in His providence had brought this trial upon Abraham to teach him lessons of submission, patience, and faith—lessons that were to be placed on record for the benefit of all who should afterward be called to endure affliction. God leads His children by a way that they know not, but He does not forget or cast off those who put their trust in Him. He permitted affliction to come upon Job, but He did not forsake him. He allowed the beloved John to be exiled to lonely Patmos, but the Son of God met him there, and his vision was filled with scenes of immortal glory. God permits trials to assail His people, that by their constancy and obedience they themselves may be spiritually enriched, and that their example may be a source of strength to others. “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil.” Jeremiah 29:11. The very trials that task our faith most severely and make it seem that God has forsaken us, are to lead us closer to Christ, that we may lay all our burdens at His feet and experience the peace which He will give us in exchange.”
Do you experience peace when you are under trial? Or do you fret and worry. When some inconvenience comes your way, do you get upset and lose your peace, or do you pray and ask God for His peace to fill your heart?
What a wonderful lesson to learn. God wants you to learn patience, submission and faith. That is what is needed more than anything else in my life and it is needed more than anything else in your life.
Being a friend of God, means that you will learn very deep and powerful lessons of faith when He puts you through trial. When Judah was being threatened my Moab, and the people were afraid. King Jehoshaphat, who was also afraid, did something very important. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 20:3, “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
Then it says that all Judah gather themselves together and Jehoshaphat stood in the midst of the congregation to pray for deliverance. Listen to what he said in verses 6, 7.
“O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?”
Trusting God is the most important thing to learn. When difficulties arise, you must first turn to God in prayer. Listen to this fantastic little statement from the book Ministry of Healing, page 48, “When we are brought into strait places, we are to depend on God. In every emergency we are to seek help from Him who has infinite resources at His command.”
Isn’t that wonderful? What are infinite resources? That means that God has all power and that He loves to help us in difficulty. He can solve any problem. He can handle every conflict or perplexity.
Listen to this fantastic statement from the book Steps to Christ, page 100. Let these words sink deep into your mind and heart. “Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.”
Friends, you can be a friend of God. You can have the kind of relationship with God that is so intimate, so connected, so full and complete, that nothing will ever unsettle your peace, no matter what chaos might be going on around you. Isn’t that a wonderful promise?
He loves you. The One who upholds worlds and planets by the strength of his power loves you personally, individually. You are not too degraded to be forgiven your sins. You are not too insignificant for him to hear and answer your sincere prayer.
Have you seen God work in your life? Have you seen his power answer prayers? Have you felt His healing touch? If not, why not surrender yourself to Christ today? It is not a ritual, or a ceremony that interests God. It is the heart that is turned to him in prayer and that is open to His direction under the Holy Spirit.
Deeper friends are those who have similar experiences. But the deepest friends are those who go through extreme trial and pain together. Perhaps the one event in Abraham’s life that cemented his friendship with God was a moment when he experienced the very same anguish that God the father would feel when he let his beloved Son be crucified on the cruel cross. God wanted Abraham to be such a close friend that He put him through a test that would give him the same anguish and pain that God himself would feel. Abraham’s extreme act of faith on Mt. Moriah opened to his heart a deep understanding of God.
What a trial that must have been for the old man who loved his son, his son of promise so much that he would have given his own life for him. But now he is required to take that son’s life by his own hand.
“The command was expressed in words that must have wrung with anguish that father’s heart: ‘Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest… and offer him there for a burnt offering.’ Isaac was the light of his home, the solace of his old age, above all else the inheritor of the promised blessing. The loss of such a son by accident or disease would have been heart rending to the fond father; it would have bowed down his whitened head with grief; but he was commanded to shed the blood of that son with his own hand.
Patriarchs and Prophets, page 148.2
“The heart of the old man stood still with horror… It seemed to him a fearful impossibility. Yet God had spoken, and His word must be obeyed. Abraham was stricken in years, but this did not excuse him from duty. He grasped the staff of faith and in dumb agony took the hand of his child, beautiful in the rosy health of youth, and went out to obey the word of God… Conflict and Courage, page 56
“Abraham did not stop to question how God’s promises could be fulfilled if Isaac were slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart, but carried out the divine command to the very letter, till, just as the knife was about to be plunged into the quivering flesh of the child, the word came: ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad;’ ‘for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.’ Conflict and Courage, page 56.4
“This act of faith in Abraham is recorded for our benefit. It teaches the great lesson of confidence in the requirements of God, however close and cutting they may be… By Abraham’s obedience we are taught that nothing is too precious for us to give to God.” Conflict and Courage, page 56.5
James 2:23 says, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God.”
Friends, we are living in the last days. Your eternal destiny depends on whether or not you choose to be a friend of God. Please, decide now, to let God teach you His ways, even if it means that you do things you never thought you would. Follow God’s word. Earnestly seek to understand the mind of God. The closer you get to God the more you will be His friend.
Let us pray. Our loving heavenly Father, we want to be Your friend like Abraham. It would be so wonderful if in the record books of heaven, we would have the word “friend” written by our name. Please teach us how to understand Your mind. Please show us how to have love, joy and peace in Christ as He keeps His law in us. May Your Holy Spirit be always present in our hearts that we may love all Your children no matter who they are. And until Jesus comes, may we come closer and closer in friendship with Christ and with our heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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