Welcome to Week 3 of The Awakening.
When we opened our study we shared about our need to be awakened, even after giving our hearts to Christ. As we all know, just because we accepted Him as savior doesn’t necessarily mean we allow Him to be Lord. This week’s devotional study talks about another such topic…How to be a Friend of God.
Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea,”… After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep.”
– John 11:7, 11
We often hear of Abraham and Moses and David being friends of God, but how often have you considered Lazarus a friend of Jesus? Or how about when Jesus called Judas ‘friend’? What kind of ‘friend’ could Judas possibly have been??
In Christ’s Image Training, Francis Frangipane wrote:
“During the most somber night of His life, Jesus warned His apostles that a betrayer was among them. Deeply grieved, each asked, “Surely not I, Lord?” Finally, Judas also answered, saying, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” (Matt. 26:20–25).
Do we see this?
The other disciples, though flawed, knew Jesus as their Lord. To them, Christ’s words were commands, not just teachings. Judas, however, never accepted Jesus as Lord. The lordship of Christ never replaced the self-will of Judas. So let us ask ourselves:
Are the words of Christ just casual thoughts or are they commands uttered by the Lord of Heaven?”
Whoa. What a thought to consider.
If you’ve walked long enough in the Lord (and in ministry) you will find yourself facing an unexpected Judas. And the most hurtful part of it is usually because it comes not from whom we expect but, many times, from those closest to us. But, at the heart of this lesson, there’s a deeper question to be asked: “how many times did I ‘betray’ Jesus?
Stop and consider the meaning of the two terms Joanna shares in this week’s reading:
1. Philos: a friend; someone dearly loved (prized) in a personal, intimate way; a trusted confidant, held dear in a close bond of personal affection. The root (phil-) conveys experiential, personal affection – indicating (phílos) expresses experience-based love.
2. Hetairos: properly, a companion (normally an imposter), posing to be a comrade but in reality only has his own interests in mind. Hetaíros (“supposed friend”) suggests someone viewed(associated) as a friend, but is actually an imposter acting for self-gain.
Eye-opening isn’t it??
Have you ever sought Him simply for the blessing? Have you ever been guilty of only wanting God’s benefits but not His commands?
Oh, if we were totally honest, each one of us would have to admittedly say yes…
You and I my friend, at one time or another (maybe even still) have acted like Judas, have acted like a ‘hetairos’.
But the very fact that we are here, searching and seeking Him is evidence that we desire more. And that is a good thing.
And the Good news is, God has not chosen us to be his slaves. He’s chosen us to be His “friends”. What a sweet invitation to friendship and sweet intimacy with God. But, Intimacy doesn’t just happen. It has to be cultivated and maintained.
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.” – Psalm 25:14
What then, does it take to have friendship with God? Friendship with God is:
1. Developed in solitude
“God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. He does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty comer & goer. To be much alone with God is the secret to knowing Him and of influence with Him.” – E.M. Bounds
2. Forged through Difficulty
Something happens in the midst of our fiery trials that simply cannot happen anywhere else. In the crucible of testing, our soul is purged and purified. What if God allows the uneven places in our lives for one sole purpose: to help keep our hearts and minds ‘stayed’ on Him.
“But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” – Job 23:10
1. Read John 15:13-17, what do you discover about being a friend of Jesus?
2. Take the friendship test on page 44. What did you discover about your relationship with God? Share one aspect of friendship in which you’d like to grow
True friendship comes from the heart. The heart then is where we start. For we don’t love God on our own, HE gives us the heart to love. This week, dwell on this scripture and let it be a part of your daily prayer.
“Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” – Jeremiah 24:7New King James Version (NKJV)
Will we trust the timing, the methods and the purposes of our God?
If we’re willing to be purified and shaped in the fire, we will become people God can use. People God can trust…People God can call “Friend”.