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The Very Heart of Worship
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God Is My Friend
Chapter taken from " The Very Heart of Worship"
Written By Cypress Ministries
I no longer call you servants; because
a servant does not know what his
master is doing. But I call you friends, because
I have made known to you everything
I heard from Father.
The name that I would like to look at now isn’t necessarily out of a specific verse from our core chapter of Nehemiah 9, but more of a summary of something deeper I would like to think about with you. When reading through our core study verses something that does stand out is the repeated rebelliousness of the Israelites, the constant griping only shortly after seeing God do something. But, what isn’t really highlighted is something about Moses that I would like to address: the fact that so often he went to bat for them! Many times Moses put himself between them and God. So many times he interceded for them and they were unaware of it. Or when they did know, they just didn’t seem to understand how much he did for them, so they didn’t really appreciate it. But not only did Moses pray on their behalf, he was willing to lay down his life for them, to trade his life for theirs. When it came to the point that God was willing to destroy them and start over, Moses pleaded in prayer for them, admitting that they where a sinful people but reminding God that they were still His people and that he would give his life for theirs. (See Exodus 32:25-35.) Have you ever been there? Can you relate? Have you ever gone to bat for someone and they had no clue; to them everything worked out fine. But what they didn’t know was your role behind the scene. John 15:13 says, “The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends.” And ultimately that is what Jesus did for us. Sometimes God asks if we care enough to do the same. What He wants to know is, are we willing to lay our lives down for another? Do we love others the way the Bible teaches us to? Can we, or more importantly, do we, show that kind of friendship to others? Our “laying down our life” may not necessarily mean literally dying for others, it can mean interceding for them in prayer. Spending time, not just a minute or two, but caring enough to get alone with God for a significant period of time to pray and intercede on their behalf. This is called heartfelt praying, when you are willing to approach the throne of grace and plead on their behalf. Or maybe it involves giving up something we wanted for our-selves in order to see someone else blessed. I once read about a man that took someone else’s job cut when the company they worked for was going through layoffs. (Talk about friendship and putting someone else first!) The bottom line is anytime we are willing to give up or do something in true heartfelt sacrifice for someone else, we have “laid down for them,” we have put someone else’s needs above our own. That is what Moses did, and it is the example that Christ Himself has given us to follow.
One biblical story that is often taught is when Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it as God had commanded and it cost him his trip into the Promised Land. Did he disobey God? Yes! Is there a lesson to be learned in that? YES! But considering the fact that when he died God Himself buried him and would let no other, it is pretty awesome and says a lot right there. Plus, he might not have made it into the Promised Land but he went straight to Paradise so I don’t feel overly sorry for him in “not making it.” However, this is not one of the lessons I want to talk about. Instead, turn to Numbers 20. The people were once again complaining and griping at Moses and Aaron that there was no water. Okay, once before they had no water and God provided, so why wouldn’t God do it again? I’m sorry, but if I had just witnessed even some of the things God had already done on this trip, I think I would be a little careful about how I spoke to God’s chosen leader! God told Moses to speak to the rock and there would be water. But after losing his temper, Moses hit the rock instead. God told him that because of this, he lost the right to lead the people into the Promised Land. Notice anything significant after this and in the following chapters of Numbers or even Deuteronomy? Moses didn’t quit! He didn’t throw his hands up in the air and do what I know so many other people would do. He didn’t throw his staff down and say, “That’s it, I have had enough, you people are on your own.” I mean, think about it. He just lost his entrance into the Promised Land. God had just told him he wouldn’t be the one to lead them there. But Moses kept with the assignment God gave him. He kept on, and with good leadership. He held to what God wanted him to do all the way until the end. He continued to lead them as best he could and then after God told him he was about to die, he still interceded for them one more time.
“Moses said to the LORD, ‘The LORD is the God of the spirits of all people.
May he choose a leader for these people, who will go in and out before them.
He must lead them out like sheep and bring them in; the LORD’s people must not be like sheep with-out a shepherd.”
Now, I know that so far this has appeared to be about Moses, and our study is supposed to be about God who is our Friend. But, really it is about the friendship between Moses and God. In Exodus 33:11 it says, “The LORD spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.” Then afterward, Moses had the gumption to ask God to “show me your glory” and God did! Several times we read that Moses was very open about his thoughts and feelings with God. If Moses was upset about some-thing, he told God. But, Moses also dropped to the ground instantly to worship this same God over and over again. And as I stated earlier, when Moses died it was God, and God alone, that buried him. There is something so intimate and personal in that. Sometimes I think about it and try to imagine how beautiful that moment must have been. Up on the mountaintop overlooking so much, it makes me wonder, was there a breeze? If I had been there would I have heard birds in the trees or maybe just the wind whispering? Did God have the angels sing? When Moses died it was God’s hand that covered him. God wants to have the same kind of friendship with us. How can I say that? Because of what Jesus did for Paul. Acts 23:11 says, “The next night the LORD came and stood by Paul. He said, ‘Be brave! You have told people in Jerusalem about me. You must do the same in Rome.’” Take note, when Paul had to stand and face acquisition, God did not expect him to do it alone; the LORD stood by him. Then in Second Timothy 4:14-17 we read, “The first time I defended myself, no one helped me; everyone left me. May they be forgiven. But the LORD stayed with me and gave me strength so I could fully tell the Good New to all those who are not Jews.” The Lord’s Spirit is with us. Just as He was with Paul, He will be with us. Friend, even when we are in complete despair and don’t know what or how we should pray, God’s Spirit will intercede for us. Scripture says: “Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants” (Rom. 8:26-27). Several months ago, my grandmother on my mother’s side suddenly took a turn for the worst and was dying. When my grandfather called my mother, they didn’t even think my mother would make it there in time. Now, you have to know that I come from a pretty good size family. My mother has us three children, and we all have children, plus I have a step-sister with a baby. My mother has a sister with three children and they have started families, so when we all get together, there are quite a few people. But it was my grandmother out of everyone that I was the closest to. And when I got the call, I sobbed. She had originally been taken to the hospital a few days earlier for what they thought was pneumonia. However, she wasn’t responding to the medicine and by the time my mother got there and was able to call me, it was really bad and there was no hope. My mom said there was nothing they could do, that it wasn’t pneumonia, and that her cancer had come back this time with a vengeance and it was in the fluids in her lungs, so I sobbed again. But this time, it was with racking sobs. We are talking crying that came from far down in me. For me, it was almost like Mary and Martha sending someone to Jesus saying, “Come quick, the one you love is sick.” (See John 11.) You see, my grandmother hadn’t been to church in years. I know that at one time she believed that there was a God, but that was about it. And what was upsetting me was that no one was there, that I knew of, who would go and just pray with her about her salvation. My grandmother had beaten breast cancer twice before and had been cancer free for quite a while. But what the doctors found this time was that fluids throughout her body, and her lungs, were filled with it. In fact, her body was pretty much drowning itself, which made for a very painful and scary death for her, and a painful experience for my mother and grandfather watching it. Not to mention that my grandmother was suffering horribly. My mother called me on Sunday night to tell me this. And all day Monday I sobbed uncontrollably. But the amazing thing was that even though I was sobbing on the outside, inside of me I could hear praying. It had to be God’s Holy Spirit praying what I couldn’t, because I was sobbing for several reasons. For one, there was no way I could get down there to see her before she died, and for another, I was losing someone extremely close to me and she wasn’t at peace but suffering. But most importantly to me, was the need to pray with her. I just needed and wanted so much to be able to pray with her before she died. So my deepest sobs were that someone would pray with her and just lead her back to God if she hadn’t already reconfirmed her relationship with Him. The next day, a Tuesday, I called the hospital hoping to be able to talk to my mother (I felt horrible that I couldn’t be there for my mom either), and instead I got to talk to my grandmother! She was sitting up in bed, eating, and visiting with everyone in the room! By Wednesday afternoon, the fluids in her lungs were all dried up. Now what I was told was that it must have been due to the morphine they were giving her. It had been decided that since there was NOTHING they could do for her and because she was suffering so much and struggling against “drowning,” that they would just give her morphine and try to make her comfortable. Now, I am no doctor, but I have been in the hospital before and have had to take morphine: “glowing” (which is how I was told my grandmother looked on that Wednesday) and sitting up eating, visiting, and even talking on the phone, is not how I was! The rest of that week went by, and into the following week the doctors said that at this rate, she could live for possibly another three to six months before the cancer would take her whole body. My mother would text me each day during that week and a half on how well my grandmother was doing. In fact, she tried to send me a picture of my grandmother, but my grandmother put her hand up and said, “Oh no, I don’t have on any makeup.” So how’s THAT for doing pretty well? However, on Friday of that week, for whatever reason, I started sobbing again. We are talking about “down on the floor, and couldn’t get up,” kind of sobbing. But inside, again I could hear praying. By 8:30 that night I had to go to bed because my head hurt so incredibly bad. But at 10:30 I woke up. I sat up and was completely wide-eyed awake. Two hours later my mother called me to say that the hospital had called them and said my grandmother had died. She would have died about the time I woke up. I asked my mom what had happened. She said she wasn’t really sure, that earlier in the evening her and my grandfather had gone up and had dinner with grandmother, my granddad kissed her goodnight, and a nurse came in to take her vitals and they were fine. It was while the nurse had turned around to get something off the cart that she died. And no, it had not been a heart attack. Her heart had just, literally in a beat, stopped. It was very peaceful, and in the middle of a conversation, as the nurse was talking to her and turned around to get something. When she turned back around my grandmother hadn’t answered her and at first the nurse thought she had fallen asleep.
Two days later, I was praying and asking God if my grandmother had made it to Him. I was consoling myself with the fact that I had no idea how God would ever answer me on that one and left it as an unanswered prayer. A little while later I was on the phone with my cousin, and in a passing comment from her, I found out that on Friday afternoon, while my mother and grandfather had been out, a pastor from someone’s church had come up to visit one of their members, and saw my grandmother in the room by herself, so he went in and sat down to visit and pray with her. From what I was told, he was in there for quite some time. It was shortly after he had left that my grandfather and mother had come back to have dinner with her. I quickly realized God had a way to answer me after all. He answered that prayer and the other one as well, as she did not die until someone had prayed with her. She didn’t die the next day or two after the pastor’s visit. She died that same evening after someone had prayed with her. I am thoroughly convinced that on Monday when the fluids in her lungs were filling up and basically drowning her, that the Lord Jesus reached down and put His hand on her. Just as the Lord did for Paul, He stood beside her all the rest of that week and the next and gave her strength. Then after the pastor came in and prayed with her, He allowed her to have dinner with my granddad and my mother. My granddad even got to kiss her goodnight. But, after they left and the nurse was busy, the Lord must have leaned over and whispered, “Nita Ruth, it’s time to go home.” I believe in her heart she must have said, “Okay,” because she did. I am so thankful. You do not know how incredibly thankful I am. During that week and a half, not only did they celebrate my granddad’s birthday, but my mother had a wonderful visit with her, and as my mother was staying with my granddad, he wasn’t alone when my grandmother died and he received the phone call. Not to mention that I can testify to the fact that while I was sobbing and in no shape myself to pray, my spirit inside of me was, and God heard me and answered me in a very special way.
In closing, I would like to share a verse with you that a friend of mine just sent me. She knew I had been working on my “friend” chapter and texted me that I should read Psalm 25:14: “The LORD tells his secrets to those who respect him; he tells them about his agreement.” The funny thing is that in the Bible translation that was sent to her, the verse used the word “friend.” But as we were “texting” we looked the verse up in our Bibles and what we read is what I have shared with you. At first I think she might have been a little disappointed because her initial thought was that it was a friendship verse but after researching it, it seems to be a “God sharing secrets” verse. But then it dawned on me, not only was it a friendship verse, it was a deep “best friends” kind of verse. After all, who in the world are you going to share your secrets with but your best friend! So, not only does God want to be friends with us, apparently He wants to be BEST FRIENDS with us, someone He can tell things to, someone He can share things with! How is that for being able to declare “God is MY FRIEND”?
In Closing of God is My Friend,
♥ PRAYING IN FAITH
Father God, we praise You for being such a loving God. Lord, thank You so much for Your friendship and Your willingness to listen to our moans and groans yet love us anyway. Thank You for standing beside us and supporting us. Thank You for showing us this incredible side of You. Thank You also for the testimony that I myself can share. Lord, I pray that whatever support this reader may need, that You will put Your hand on them, and that they will be able to sense Your friendship with them. Lord God, I pray that one day they also will stand before others and say with assured hearts that “The LORD stood with me.”
In Christ Jesus’ name I pray,
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