Day Thirty: The Promise to Prosper Us

“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

How would you define the word prosper?

Most of us would say that to prosper means to be successful.  So if one is successful, what defines success?  A big corporate job?  Having a lot of money?  Having a nice house?  Driving a nice car?  Wearing only the most expensive clothes?  Dining at the fancy restaurants?

Somehow I don’t think this is what God was saying to us in this verse in Jeremiah.  God has plans for each of us. Big plans.  Plans that will prosper us.  Plans that will give us hope.  Plans that will give us a future.  Do those plans involve each of the successful things above?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.

If you look up the meaning of prosper in the Hebrew and Greek form, it has several meanings:  to favor, to render successful, to thrive, to make gain, to grow, to increase.  But I think my most favorite definition of this word is “to move forward favorably”.  God’s plan for our lives is to make us thrive and grow and to move us forward (not backward) because we are favored by Him.

We can look all throughout the Bible and see that God prospered many people.  One that I want to take a look at is Jacob.  I was reminded of God’s plan to prosper Jacob by the sermon of our Associate Pastor his past Sunday morning at church.  In Genesis 28, Jacob is on the run.  He had just deceived his brother, Esau, and stolen his birthright from him.  Esau was pretty livid and wanted to kill Jacob.  But with the help of his mother, Rebekah, Jacob was able to escape and move to another land, where he falls in love and marries both Leah and Rachel (and also has 2 concubines).  Between these four women, Jacob has 12 sons.

But if we back up a little, we will read about Jacob’s dream (the one we call Jacob’s ladder). In this dream God says to Jacob, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.  Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.” (v. 13-15).

God spoke to Jacob in a dream and told him that he and his offspring would be great and would be blessed.  Jacob commits this promise to memory and doesn’t forget.  If we skip forward to Genesis 32, we will see that Jacob is ready to go back to the land of Canaan because God said it was time.  But there’s one thing he’s afraid of…his brother, Esau.  When he last left Esau, many years ago, things were not good.  He was afraid that Esau would try to kill him.  So he sends his messengers ahead of him to tell Esau that Jacob is coming home and that he comes in peace and hopes to find favor with him.  Esau responds saying he is coming to meet him and bringing with him 400 of his men.

Now this is when Jacob starts to freak out a little.  He panics and is worried and he cries out to God, reminding Him of the promise to prosper him.  “And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant….But you have said, “I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.'”  (Genesis 32:9-10,12)

Jacob is one bold man to remind God of His promise to prosper him.  He’s not afraid to remind God of what He said to him years before.  And what does God do?  He prospers Jacob.  He favors Jacob and moves him forward.  Out of Jacob comes the land of Israel.  Jacob’s offspring and descendants are great.  God promised to prosper Jacob.  And God kept His promise.

Jacob could come before God boldly because He knew God and knew God well.  He had faith in the Lord, followed Him, trusted Him, and knew that God would never break the promises He made.  Never.  Because his God and our God is a faithful God.

We can learn a few things from Jacob.  First we need to be walking closely with the Lord.  And that doesn’t mean only seeking Him when we need Him.  Walking closely with the Lord means seeking Him daily, reading His Word, understanding who God is, spending time in prayer.  Because when we do these things we will know God and know Him well.

Second, we need to be bold.  God wants us to be bold.  When we know God and who He is, we can boldly approach Him.  We aren’t afraid of Him or what He will say.  We aren’t fearful that He won’t listen to us.  We can boldly go to Him in prayer and remind Him of His plans to prosper us.

But let’s remember one important thing, God’s promise to prosper us does not look like the world’s definition of prosper.  God promises to grow us.  God promises to help us be successful (in His eyes).  God promises to move us forward favorably.

Are you in a place in your life where you aren’t feeling very prosperous?  Maybe you are feeling spiritually dry and need to know what God’s plan for your life is.  I believe that if you seek God, know Him, remember His promises, and boldly go to Him in prayer then you will be able to recognize the many ways God DOES prosper you.  You will see the ways that God favorably moves you forward.

Prayer:  Faithful God, thank You for the promise to prosper us.  Forgive us when we long for the success of this world.  Help us to know that You don’t prosper us as the world would, but You prosper us by moving us forward in our faith.  Thank You for having great plans for our life.  We love You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1.  In what ways has God prospered you.
  2.  If you are in a spiritually dry desert, what can you do to seek God and know the plans He has for you?

Day Twenty-Nine: The Promise of Healing

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”     Isaiah 53:5

Healing happens daily on this earth.  People are cured from cancer, cuts and scrapes on a child’s leg are healed, broken bones are healed, people who were once paralyzed are healed and are able to walk again, flu viruses invade our body only to be healed, a migraine or a nagging headache is healed, a stomach virus that overtakes us is healed within a day or two, surgeries needed to remove a gall bladder or an appendix are successful and we are healed, by-pass surgeries that are needed to remove blocked arteries in our heart are performed and we are healed.  And then there’s the emotional and spiritual healing we receive each and every day, too.  So much healing takes place daily.

I have seen God heal many people in my life:  my mother was healed from breast cancer and has been cancer-free for 17 years, two friends at church have been healed from melanoma, a friend was healed from back pain, a friend’s daughter was healed from an infection in her blood stream, my daughter’s bad eye infection was healed when she was an infant, my little sister’s leg was healed when she broke it at the age of 3, my nephew, who swallowed amniotic fluid when he was born and developed a hole in his lung, was healed.  And there are many more instances of healing.  Healing occurs daily.

But then there’s the question and confusion as to why some people are healed and some are not.  Why did my mother and my childhood best friend’s mother get cancer around the same time but her mother died yet my mother was healed?  Why did my friend’s brother-in-law die from heart problems before he was able to get his second heart transplant?  Why did my friend and I get pregnant around the same time, but she had a miscarriage yet I was able to deliver a healthy baby?  Why was a pastor who was in a car accident not healed from his injuries and soon after passed away?  Why were these people not healed, Lord?

I wish I could give an answer for you.  But, I cannot.

Here’s one thing I do know….our God is a healer. I do not know why God chooses to heal some on this earth and some He does not.  He never promises that we will be healed on this earth.  Does that mean He cannot heal on this earth?  By no means.  Just look throughout the Scriptures and you will see the many miracles that Jesus and His disciples performed.  Open your eyes to see the daily miracles of healing that take place on this earth.  Healing happens on this earth and it is through the power of God our Father.

The one thing God does promise is that we will be healed in heaven.  The verse above from Isaiah 53 says it best for us.  Jesus was sent to this earth to take on the sins of the world.  He would be beaten, persecuted, wounded, and crushed for the sake of all of us.  All because He loves us. “He became sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

Jesus was perfect.  He did not deserve to be punished and crucified on the cross. Yet He loved us so much He was willing to die for us so that we could ultimately be healed.  When we get to heaven, we will be free from pain.  We will not suffer from cancer, heart problems, lung problems, diabetes, headaches, back pain, chronic pain, mental illness, or any type of disease or sickness. Those who have special needs on this earth will no longer have them in heaven.  We will be completely healed.  Gone are the days of suffering.  Only pure joy is in heaven.

My friends, I hope that you will never doubt the healing power of our Lord.  He is able.  And if it is in His will, He will heal you.  Our minds cannot comprehend why some are healed on this earth and others are not.  I can only pray that no matter where your healing takes place, you will continue to pray and give God the glory, honor and praise that belongs to Him.  May your faith remain strong.  And may you continue to seek Him and go to Him in prayer when you are in need of healing.

Prayer:  Powerful God, there are so many in this world in need of Your healing touch.  We pray that You extend Your healing hand upon those in physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.  Hear our cries, Lord for healing.  Thank You for promising us ultimate healing in heaven.  Give us hope and may every person continue to walk closely with You, no matter what.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1.  How has God healed you in the past?
  2.  How can you keep your faith strong when you or others are not healed?

Day Twenty-Eight: The Promise to Reveal Himself to Us

“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”    John 14:21

Do you ever pray that God will reveal Himself to you?  Are you ever in a place where you so desperately want to see God and ask that He would make Himself known to you?

I have been there.

Some of those times come in dark moments when nothing seems to be going right.  Some of those times come when I have a decision to make and I just wish He would reveal Himself and let me know what I am to do.  Some of those times come when life is going well and all I long for is a glimpse of Him.

Jesus is speaking with His disciples in the John 14 verse above.  He tells them that those who know His commandments and keep them are the ones who love Him.  It is these people whom the Lord will reveal Himself to.  These are the people that seek Him.  These are the people who long to find Him.  These are the people who desperately want for the Lord to reveal Himself.  Why?  Because they love Him.

God reveals Himself daily to us, but are we looking?  Do we miss those flashes of Him because we are too preoccupied with our busy lives?  I know I am guilty of this.  But I pray daily that God would open my eyes and reveal Himself to me and that I would not miss Him.

I believe that God reveals Himself to us in three ways.  The first is through His creation.  Just look out the window and see the trees growing, the flowers blooming, the birds singing, the wind blowing, the leaves falling.  God is there.  Go outside and take a deep breath and inhale the air.  God is there. Look up in the sky and notice the bright blue color and the white clouds.  God is there.  He created every single thing in this world.  And He makes Himself known to us through it.

One day while my daughter was practicing soccer, I was running in the park.  I love to listen to worship music while I run and the song, “Love Ran Red”, by Chris Tomlin began to play.  As I was listening and singing in my head, I looked up and there, clear as day, was a bright white cross made from the fluffy clouds.  God was there. He revealed Himself to me through His creation.  I loved that moment.

Another way God reveals Himself to us is through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Take a look at Hebrews 1:1-3:

“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.”  

Did you see that?  Jesus is the reflection of God.  The EXACT imprint of who God. is.  When God sent Jesus to be born on this earth so that He could one day die for us, He wasn’t just sending some random person.  No, He was sending His Son, the One who was with Him in the very beginning (John 1).  The One who knows Him like no one else.  The One that God chose to reveal Himself to us through.

Finally, God chooses to reveal Himself to us through His Word.  I have heard of people who ask how we know that the Bible is God’s Word.  How can we believe what is written and know that it’s true?  I believe because of my faith in God.  I also believe because of what is written in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”

The Bible is the Truth.  It’s God’s Word that was given to us.  He reveals Himself to us through every single page.  As we read the stories and listen to the Scriptures proclaimed, we can find great comfort and assurance in knowing that every single word is God-breathed.  Yes, God used other people to write His Word.  But, He inspired them and they obeyed and wrote what He said.  That way all those who love Him and seek Him will find Him when they open the Bible and look and listen for Him.

I’ll ask again…Do you want God to reveal Himself to you?  If so, believe in Him.  Believe in His Son, Jesus.  Open your eyes to see His glory all around you.  Look for Him in creation.  Read His Word.  God is ready and willing to reveal Himself to you.  Are you looking?

Prayer:  Father God, today our hearts are heavy with so much stuff that weighs us down.  We long to find You and to see You in the midst of our crazy lives. We humbly ask that You would reveal Yourself to us. Show us Your mighty ways.  Help us to open our eyes so we do not miss You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1. What is going on in your life where you need for God to reveal Himself to you?
  2. What can you do today that will help you see God?

Day Twenty-Seven: The Promise to Know Us

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”    John 10:14

I am a Children’s Minister.  In the Children’s Ministry at my church I have many wonderful volunteers.  These men and women invest in the lives of these kids each week, helping the kids at our church come to know Jesus and what He did for us.  They are committed to sharing God’s Word with our young people.

One of the things I share with my volunteers is the importance of building a relationship with the kids in their classes.  I want them to really get to know their kids.  First, know their names.  Every person loves to hear their name (well, except maybe when they are in trouble), but when we go to church or to school or to work, we want others to know who we are and know us by our name.  Hearing someone call us by name helps us feel loved, cared for, and important.

Second, you can build a relationship with someone by knowing things about them.  For kids that can include knowing their family, pets, sports they play, foods they like, music they listen to, and other things.  You find out a lot about a child when you open up the floor for discussion and when you ask for prayer requests.  When you know things about them you can ask them about their games, how their grandmother is doing, how their pet is doing, and so much more.  Kids love to be known by others.  And adults love to be known by others, too.

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd.  He is the shepherd and we are the sheep.  A shepherd leads his flock and cares for each one of his sheep.  If one goes missing, he goes and searches for it till he finds it.  A good shepherd protects his sheep from wild animals or anything that can harm them.  A good shepherd knows his sheep.  Jesus says, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14).  He doesn’t just know some of us.  He knows all of us.  Every single one of His children, He knows.

God promises that He knows us.  He not only calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1), but He knows every detail about us.  He knows how many number of hairs are on our head (Luke 12:7).  He knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).  Psalm 139 tells us more about what God knows about us:

“Lord, you have examined me and know all about me.  You know when I sit down and when I get up.  You know my thoughts before I think themYou know where I go and where I lie down.  You know everything I do.  Lord, even before I say a word,
you already know it.”   Psalm 139:1-4

Isn’t that amazing?  We are known by God.  We aren’t just a number on a list. We aren’t someone who gets forgotten.  No, we are His sheep and He knows us!  This makes me feel so special and very much loved.  Even when others around me do not know me, God does.  I take great comfort in the fact that I am known by God.

Just this morning I received a Bible verse from the Lord.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  I had been praying and God led me to a verse.  It was perfect.  God knew what I was struggling with.  And because He knows me, He gave me the exact verse I needed.  Only God truly knows us.  And because He promises to know us, He will always, always, always, give us the words, the comfort, and the love that we need.  All.  The.  Time.

Are you feeling alone?  Like no one knows who you are?  Like no one cares about you?  I pray you will find comfort and peace in these words from John 10 and Psalm 139.  They will brighten your soul and give you the joy you need for each and every day.

Prayer:   All knowing God, thank You for loving us so much that You know everything about us.  Help us to seek You all the time.  Allow us to hear Your voice and listen when you call our name.  Thank You for all that you do for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1. Why do you like being known by others?
  2.  What do you think about being known by God?  How does this make you feel?
  3. Take time to get to know someone.  What can you do for someone today to help them feel loved?

Day Twenty-Six: The Promise of Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  James 1:5

Let’s all be honest for a moment with ourselves.

We all lack wisdom.

Yes, you may have been valedictorian in your high school class, graduated summa cum laude from college, or you’re a rocket scientist, but there are times in your life when you don’t make the wisest of choices.  There are times in your life when you just flat out miss the mark or mess up.  It’s inevitable.  We are human and humans lack wisdom.

There have been plenty of times when I definitely have been lacking in wisdom.  My mouth spews forth a hurtful word before my brain can stop it…not wise.  My patience wears really thin and I lose my temper…not wise.  I gossip about someone…not wise.  I complain instead of being thankful…not wise.  I give in to peer pressure…not wise.  I frivolously spend my money on things for myself or my family that we do not need…not wise.  I am quick to defend my actions instead of looking internally first to see if I am the one that needs to change…not wise.  I give in to temptation and eat unhealthy foods that are not good for my body…not wise.  I yell back at the annoying man at the soccer game when I should have kept my mouth shut…not wise.  So many times in my day that I do not make wise choices.

But, friends, there is a way to change that.  We can pray and ask God for wisdom.

Why would God give us wisdom, especially when we mess up so many times?  Because, as James 1:5 says, “God gives it to us generously.”  He does not hold back wisdom from anyone.  He desires to grant wisdom to us so that we can know His voice and make those wise choices.  God is there for us and longs to help us in each and every situation.

If you read a verse further in the first chapter of James there is a little catch to God granting us wisdom.  It’s really not a hard catch, either.  Pretty simple in fact.  God says in verses 6 and 7, “But when you ask, you must believe and do not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” 

Your first response might be, “Yikes!  That’s a little harsh!”  But really it isn’t.  When we know the Lord and follow Him we know that we need to obey all that He asks of us.  Why would we ask God for something, but then when we hear from the Lord and are given wisdom in a situation and know what God wants us to do, we do the opposite?  Or why would we,when we ask for wisdom, close out our prayer and then begin doubting that He will ever give us the wisdom for that situation?  That makes no sense, but I know there are times I have done this.  We all do!

I found this idea in the Adventure Bible for kids (I love this Bible for kids and enjoy reading out of it sometimes myself…the perks of being a Children’s Minister).  In the book of James it talks about the idea to keep a wisdom diary.  It says:

“A wisdom diary is a little notebook in which you write down hard decisions you have to make.  Pray about them.  When you think you know what God wants, do it.  Then write down what happens when you do what God wants.”                                   (NIV Adventure Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2013)

I thought this idea was a great one for adults, too.  Many times we forget every decision or situation in which we seek God for wisdom and He gives it.  Wouldn’t it be a great way to go back and see how God gives wisdom generously and how He helps us make wise choices?  And this wisdom diary would also be helpful for us when we begin to doubt that God will give us wisdom.  We can look back and see how God did provide the wisdom we needed and we can be confident that He will provide it for us again.

Begin by praying.  Ask God to grant you wisdom for the day.  Ask God to give you wisdom for the decisions you need to make.  I even pray that God will give wisdom to my children.  This is a prayer I pray every morning on the car ride to school.  They need wisdom for a test they are taking, wisdom to help them understand something they are learning, wisdom to remember to be kind to others, wisdom to show respect to their teachers and friends, and wisdom to make the right choice in situations they are faced with.  Our children need us praying for them.  And by us praying for them, this will show them how to seek God for wisdom too.

Bottom line…we should be praying every day for God to give us wisdom.  And then we should believe that He will and never doubt.  God gives wisdom generously!  Are you ready to accept it?

Prayer:  Wise Father, you know what’s best for us…way more than we know what’s best for ourselves.  Help us in our everyday lives to make the best choices.  Take away the doubt and fear that we feel when we encounter big decisions. Give us wisdom in these situations and help us to always believe in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1. When was the last time you asked God for wisdom?  How did God provide for you?
  2. What keeps you from seeking God for wisdom when it comes time to make decisions, big or small?
  3. Write down the times you ask God for wisdom in your journal and then go back and write down how God provided the wisdom for you.

Day Twenty-Five: The Promise of Protection

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”   Psalm 91:4

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”    Psalm 91:11

“Because he loves me”, says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”   Psalm 91:14 

I was stopped, waiting to turn left into my neighborhood. People typically tend to fly down this main road so I’ve gotten into the habit of looking in my rearview mirror.  I guess I am just making sure they will stop.

On this particular day, I looked up again.  And I noticed what I hoped I would never see.  This car was flying and had no plans to stop.  I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and braced for impact.  But there was this split second that I took my foot off the brake and my car slightly moved forward and then put my foot on the brake again.

This car somehow managed to not hit me.  It made its way slowly around the right side of my car.  It literally hugged the side of my car but never once did it touch it.  Not once.  All I could do was watch as this driver made his way around me without ever hitting me.

Now, my first reaction was not a pleasant one.  I was super mad at the driver who got distracted enough to not pay attention to my car with its left turn signal on.  I was yelling in my car!  Good thing I was alone.

But then my next reaction was a sigh of relief and gratefulness.  Had this car hit me, I probably would have been sent into the oncoming traffic.  There is no telling what would have happened.

I firmly believe that God protected me that day.  He sent His angels to guard me. I believe that it was an angel who took my foot off the brake so that I could move forward just a little bit.  I think this small amount of feet gave the driver more time to stop and graze the side of my car instead of hitting it hard from behind.  The Lord had His hand of protection around me that day.

Psalm 91 is a beautiful Psalm of protection.  Verse after verse you will find the comforting words that God will always protect us.  I love the imagery in verse 4 when it says that “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”   I can just picture the arms of God as these massive wings that surround us and shelter us; the place we can go to find refuge.

I have this beautiful prayer shawl at home that was made by the women at my church and given to me when I first came on staff.  This shawl was crafted by talented women who prayed for me while they were making it.  Then when it was presented to me a sweet woman wrapped me in it and prayed over me.  It was an amazing moment where I could feel the wings of God over me.  I have this shawl at home and when I need to physically feel God’s arms and His wings, I wrap that shawl around me and pray.  In those moments I can feel the warmth of His wings and know that I am protected.

In Psalm 91, there are three things the psalmist talks about in connection with protection from the Lord.  The first is found in verse 14 where God says that He will protect those who acknowledge His name.  First and foremost we must recognize God and who He is.  Not as some genie in a bottle who will grant our wishes.  Not as someone who we come to only in the bad times and forget about in the good times.  No, we must acknowledge God all the time. Give Him the praise and glory for all things.  Give Him the honor He deserves all the time.  Give Him our whole heart and follow Him.  Acknowledge His name and who He is.

The next thing is that we must dwell in Him.  Verse one says that “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Dwelling in the Lord means to be aware of His presence and spend time with Him.  And we need to do this consistently.  We should not be sometimes dwelling, but need to make an effort to continually dwell in His presence.  Dwelling in His shelter involves praying and reading His Word.  Stay close to the Lord and rest in the shadow of Him.

Finally, we need to be trusting the Lord.  I love what the psalmist says in verse 2 of this chapter:  “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.'”   Proclaim this!  Shout it from the mountaintops!  “HE IS MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS, MY GOD IN WHOM I TRUST.”  There’s something about repeating this, and maybe doing so loudly, that helps us put our trust in the Lord.  Give your need over to Him and then just trust.  Trust that He will protect you.  Once you fully trust Him then you can calmly rest under the shadow of His wings.

God promises to protect us.  But why is it so hard to believe in this promise?  Why can’t we let go and let God be our refuge, our protector?

Every day is a new day.  A new day to acknowledge, dwell, and trust in the Lord.  Don’t give up because you think you can’t do any of those things.  Work at it so that then you will find rest and “will be covered with His feathers.”

Prayer:  Most High God, thank You for the promise to always protect us.  Help us to daily dwell in Your presence, to daily acknowledge Your mighty name, and to daily put our trust in You.  Father, you know sometimes it’s hard for us to do these things, but we ask that You will help us make these things a priority so that then we can fully rest and feel Your protection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1.  Name a time when you have felt God’s protection.
  2.  What can you do better in your daily life to be able to rest in Him?
  3.  Write down some ways you can acknowledge God in your life.

Day Twenty-Four: The Promise to Be Called His Friend

“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”  John 15:15

Jesus spent the last three years of His life here on earth in ministry.  He chose a team of men to be His disciples.  These men would spend the next three years learning from the Son of God.  They learned how to be true followers of God.  They learned how to speak to others about God.  They learned how to pray to God. They learned how to listen and obey God.  They learned how to be called friends of God.

In this passage from John 15, Jesus is speaking to His disciples.  He is sharing with them words of wisdom.  In this passage, He shares three things about God’s promise for us to be called friends of God.  Let’s take a closer look at each one.

First, in John 15:13, Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  God loved each of them (and each of us) so much that He sent His one and only Son to this earth to lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13).  At the time, the disciples did not truly comprehend these words.  Jesus hadn’t died yet.  And even though Jesus told them He would be taking on the sins of the world and dying in order to save us, the disciples didn’t get it.  They couldn’t fathom anyone being willing to die for every person on this earth.  Why would someone do that?  Did God really love us that much?  Yes, God did!  And even though they didn’t quite understand this sacrifice right then, they would come to understand and to believe.  One day soon after this conversation, the light bulb would come on and they would grasp the truth and the reality of God’s love for them.

Second, Jesus says in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”   Now, how many of you like to hear the words, “I command you!”  Not many.  Really no one at all.  But our relationship with God is quite different from our relationships with friends on earth.  We serve a mighty God.  One who is all powerful and all knowing.  He knows what is best for us and it’s wise of us to listen to what He commands us to do.

In verse 14, Jesus is telling the disciples two things.  In order to be called a friend of God you must listen and you must obey.  God doesn’t speak to us by telling us what He wants us to do just for the fun of it.  No, He speaks to us because He knows what’s best for us.  We need to be good listeners and then we need to obey.

One example from the Bible that sticks out to me of someone who was chosen by God but did not listen and obey God was King Saul.  He was anointed as the first king of Israel by the prophet, Samuel.  But Saul had what I like to call “selective hearing”.  God would speak to Saul through Samuel and Samuel would share with Saul what he was to do, but Saul only half-way listened and partially obeyed God.  Once God told Saul to attack Amalek and kill everyone including the animals.  Well, Saul did attack Amalek, but he let some people go free and he kept some of the best animals in order to sacrifice to the Lord.  The Lord was angry for Saul’s disobedience so He rejected Saul as king.  Samuel said to Saul, “Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Because of his disobedience, Saul was not a friend of God.  He did not listen and He did not obey what the Lord commanded.

The third thing Jesus spoke of is found in John 15.  God no longer called them servants but friends (John 15:15).  He called them friends because Jesus revealed to them everything that the Lord had spoken to Him.  A true friend speaks the truth.  And Jesus was a true friend to them and He definitely spoke the truth.  A true friend does not hold back in sharing all they know.  God was speaking to Jesus and He then passed on to His friends all that the Lord was speaking.  No longer were they called servants, but they were called friends.

All of this applies to our lives today, too.  This isn’t just Jesus speaking to His disciples, but this is God speaking to us and giving us a promise that we can be friends with God.  In order to do this, we must believe in Jesus and what He did for us.  We must also listen and obey to all that the Lord is telling us.  And we must firmly realize and believe that God speaks truth to us and He will reveal Himself to those of us who seek Him.  

“I am a friend of God.  I am a friend of God.  I am a friend of God.  He calls me friend.”  (Friend of God by Israel Houghton)

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for the promise to be called Your friends.  Open hearts of those who don’t believe and help them accept Your love and the sacrifice You made for us.  Help us to listen and obey all that You ask of us.  And remind us that You speak only truth and we can trust in You.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Journal

  1.  What qualities do you look for in a friend?
  2.  What do you think of God calling you a friend?
  3.  What can you do to strengthen your relationship with the Lord?