These are my notes from our 7/3/2011 church meeting.
Leader: Raymond Harris
The word "friend", as used in Jam. 2:23, means "loving or friendly." When I think about friends and strengthening friendships, Prov. 18:24 comes to mind:
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
GOD created us in His image (Gen. 1:26-27) and He wants our character to be like His. Abraham is a great example of what it means to live by faith (Heb. 11:8-19), and he enjoyed a close relationship with GOD. As GOD was planning to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He shared His plans with Abraham:
16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
(Gen. 18:16-19 NKJV)
When GOD tested Abraham in commanding him to sacrifice Isaac upon the altar, Abraham had faith and obeyed, even though he didn't understand.
11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”... 15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
(Gen. 22:15-18 NKJV)
- Having shared/common interests.
- Spending time together.
- Effectively communicating frequently.
- Experiencing life together, the ups and the downs.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
(John 15:14-16 NKJV)
Jesus is not too good to be your friend, nor are you too bad that He wouldn't want you as His friend. Remember, Jesus was ridiculed for befriending tax collectors and sinners:
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
(Matt. 11:19 NKJV)
But we can't be a friend of GOD and the world at the same time because the two are enemies:
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
(Jam. 4:4-5 NKJV)
Keys to a Strong Friendship with GOD
- Tell GOD you want to be His friend, and that you want Him to be your closest friend.
- Mentally take GOD everywhere you go. The reality is that GOD is present wherever you go regardless of whether you want Him to be, but if you make a conscious effort to invite Him with you then you'll be far less likely to forget He's there and sin against Him, damaging your friendship.
- Let GOD speak to you frequently. He's much smarter than you so listen to what He has to say. A true friend cares what the other thinks. Read your Bible every day.
- Tell GOD what's on your mind, and frequently. The closest of friends often carry on ongoing dialogue. Pray without ceasing.
- Refuse to turn your back on GOD, because He will never turn His back on you, unless you turn from Him first. Never be ashamed of Him.
- Strive to know Him better every day. Never assume you've got GOD figured out.