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Being a Friend to God

 Being a Friend to God

Gary has been preaching on Friendship.    The word friend in the OT and NT is a word that means a covenant relationship. 

2 Ch 20:7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
Jas 2:23  Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.
Isaiah 41:8 But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 

What is a covenant relationship?    

Marriage is a good example:  you join bank accounts. Your debts become both your debts, your assets also theirs. You live together, you protect each other, and hopefully you would die for each other. 

Covenant relationships mean that you share whatever you have if the other person has need of it. If you are good in publicity, but they are good in finance, your promote their business while they finance yours. You would never let your covenant partner starve while you have food. You would die before you let anyone harm them. 

Jesus gave us an example  of this commitment to one another: 

Jn 15:13–16. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.   No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  

Today I want to talk to you about Lazarus.  Jesus called him a friend: 

After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”” (John 11:11–12, ESV) 

What was Lazarus’ Ministry?  Was he an apostle? A disciple? 

In the scriptures, Lazarus has a very special relationship to Jesus.  He is not like anyone else.  Though he too believed in Jesus and trusted in him, as we all must, Lazarus was not called Jesus’ disciple.  The disciples were those who followed Jesus around from town to town as he went on his ministry.  In the gospels, we watch as the disciples are trained to preach and to teach, and we witness as they follow their master around.  We do not see Lazarus undergoing such training, or following Jesus around.  Nor was Lazarus’ relationship to Jesus like that of the apostles’.  The apostles were also being trained for the power, authority, and leadership of the ministry.  We see Jesus constantly struggling with them–correcting them, teaching them, rebuking them, instructing them, and encouraging them.  He was working with them so that they would be ready for their mission and their purpose once he was gone.  

But Lazarus’ role was like none of these.  Other people had jobs to do with Jesus and for Jesus, but not Lazarus.  He had a special relationship. His relationship with Jesus was both a privilege and an honor.  He was the one whom Jesus loved.  And Jesus did not call him a disciple, but he called Lazarus his friend.

Think what a special relationship Lazarus had with our Lord.  He was Jesus’ friend.  He did not have to go out on missions or preach or anything, instead he was called to stay put.  He had a stationary ministry.  And what was that ministry?    You might say, Lazarus’ ministry was his friendship with Jesus.  Lazarus did not have any other special task to perform.  It was a ministry that was very important to Jesus.  Of all the people whom Jesus served, you might say that Lazarus was the one who served Jesus. 

How important was Lazarus and his friendship to Jesus? Lazarus was someone Jesus needed; someone he didn’t want to live without.  Do you recall when Lazarus died, what was Jesus’ reaction? When Lazarus died, Jesus cried.  It is the only record in the gospels of Jesus crying over a single individual.  Jesus loved him so much that when Lazarus died, Jesus wept.  

This special, covenant relationship existed between Lazarus and Jesus before Jesus began his official ministry. Something of deep love and mutual fellowship must have existed before then in order to have established a covenant between them.  They probably shared meals together, went to services together, played together. Lazarus’ house was a place where Jesus could go and relax. 

Well, Jesus loved Lazarus as one friend loved another.  Think about what it means to have a friend.  When you get tired and worn out, and the pressures of the world get you down; you want someone to talk to; someone who will listen, someone who will share your sorrows, who will understand, and who will just be a friend.  

Lazarus was that kind of friend.  He was the one person to whom Jesus could go when he wanted to get away from it all.  Lazarus’ home was a refuge for Jesus.  When Jesus got tired; when he needed a place of peace and quiet, he knew he could go to Lazarus’ house, and there he knew he would be welcome, anytime, day or night.  When Jesus just wanted to get away from it all, sit back, and kick up his feet, he knew he could go see his friend Lazarus.  And every time Jesus passed through Bethany, he knew he always had a place to stay.  With his good friend Lazarus, he had an open invitation; to him, Lazarus would say, “my home is your home; come and go as you like.”

Martha and Mary were Lazarus’ sisters.   Martha was busy serving Jesus, but wasn’t happy about it. 

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”” (Luke 10:38–42, ESV)

Martha and Mary were Lazarus’ sisters.   Martha was a servant, but Mary was soaking in Jesus’ presence. 

But most of us are not friends to Jesus.  So many times we busy ourselves with the Lord’s work, always doing something for him.  We strive so hard to please him, we are like the disciples; full of good intentions, but a source of endless headaches to the Lord.  We are so busy trying to do great things for him, we never sit back and relax with him.  We are on an endless treadmill of work and service, but we are so busy with our work, we never sit back, kick off our shoes, and just enjoy the presence of our friend, Jesus, our friend who is also our God.  

And what is more, God cannot find a resting place in us.  He cannot find a place where he can sit down and share the welcome of our homes.  Or simply be at peace in the hearth of our hearts.  Like the disciples, we are so busy, we do not take time to listen.  We rush, rush, rush; bustle, bustle, bustle.  I tell you, Jesus would rather have a thousand friends than one disciple.  But because we do not share the home of our heart with him, we give up this special relationship of privileged friend for that of a servant.  

But doesn’t the Gospel say that he no longer calls us servants, but he calls us friends; for a servant does not know his master’s business, but to us he reveals everything? We are supposed to be his friends.  In fact, he wants us to be his friends.  

So, instead of trying so hard to please the Lord, try instead just to be his friend.  Open the doors of your heart, and give him a place where he can feel welcome.  Open up your doors and make room for him.  Give him a place where he can come in and stay.  Give him a place where he can sit back and just enjoy your presence as one friend to another.  Be his friend.  Make him feel at home.  Listen to him.  Let him find a retreat in your heart.  Give him a place where he will not feel rushed or pressured.  Make your heart a refuge, where he can come in and you can find rest from this weary and troubled world.  More than he wants you to get up and endlessly do things for him, he just wants your company and to share your friendship and your love.  He wants someone he can talk to.  As a good friend, be still and listen.  Just sit back and relax with him as he pours out his heart; make him feel welcome and at home.  Be a friend to God.

Open up your hearts. Let Jesus find a resting place in you. It isn’t what you do for God that matters, because it is who you are to God that really matters. True ministry comes out of fellowship with Jesus. It comes out of resting in His presence. Out of that relationship of love effective ministry comes. 

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Free on Kindle for a limited time: Pardoned or Paroled?

Pardoned or Paroled?: Escaping a Prison of Guilt to Find Freedom in Christ,  Kindle Edition
by Jefferis Peterson (Author)
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

Do you feel sad, guilty, unworthy, or ashamed? Does it seem that no matter what you do, you can’t live up to God’s standards? Are you always trying to be on your best behavior, but still feel like you aren’t being good enough? If you always have the feeling you are being watched and judged, then you know what it means to be living on parole. God does not want you to live that way. He wants you to know his love. He wants you to feel freedom and joy.

 

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From the Archives: Mischief By Statute

cbl2_https://www.scholarscorner.com/mischief-by-statute/
Volume III, Issue 1
Spring 1995 Mischief By Statute
Jefferis Kent Peterson

O Theophilus is the Quarterly Journal of The Center For Biblical Literacy

 

Psalm 94:20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who write mischief by statute?

Many people have suggested that the Declaration of Independence introduced a concept of individual rights into the values of this nation. They insist this concept of rights is foreign to authentic, biblical Christianity. Instead, the concern for “rights” is a product of 18th Century Enlightenment philosophy and is opposed to the very heart of Christianity. They argue: “Christians don’t have rights. Our life is a gift from God, and we give up our right to do what we wish when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. We yield our ‘right’ to pursue happiness, to have liberty, even our ‘right’ to life in order to become His servants. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so aptly put it, a Christian is not called to pursue happiness, but ‘to do the will of God, come what may!’ ”

What is missing from this argument is the social context in which the Founding Fathers thought and reasoned. The Founders of this nation never denied social obligations incumbent on individual members of society. They recognized that individual liberty was cradled in the larger responsibility of preserving the general welfare. The modern atomization of individual liberty into a selfish assertion of “rights” above the welfare of the community never entered their minds, for they understood every right presupposes responsibilities. The Founders accepted the necessity of sacrifice for the sake of the community, and to that end, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They lived in such a context that our modern craving for selfish interests would have been intolerable to them.

As they forged a new form of civil government to preserve the general welfare, the Founding Fathers were concerned about the accumulation of excessive power by government. Their recent experiences with British tyranny left them with a great distrust of centralized authority. The Constitution was so written as to restrict the accumulation of powers by civil government. But these limitations of power were not based on Enlightenment philosophy (though that influence was part of contemporary political thought). Rather, this founding principle of the Constitution was the Biblical acknowledgment of God’s supreme right over the lives of men, a right that even a legitimate civil government has no authority to transgress – not because a government would be robbing the people of their rights, but because the government would be robbing God of His!

The opening lines of the Declaration of Independence declare:

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…”


This statement about “equality” is not rooted in egalitarian philosophy, but in the belief of our equal value and worth to our Creator. Because we were created by God in His own image, we belong to Him. Because we belong to Him, He has certain rights over us that no State has a right to transgress. The Declaration was written to affirm God’s right over His creatures in opposition to a King who attempted to be god over his subjects.

Although we may have no rights that we can assert before God, He Who owns us has given us rights before one another, and has ordained civil government to protect His people from injustice (Romans 13:1-7). For example, God set a legal restraint on our right to do to other men what we want when He commanded, “Thou Shalt not Murder.” Capital punishment was prescribed as an instrument of just human government because God determined that no man has the right to infringe upon the right to life of another (Genesis 9:6). Capital Punishment is God’s response to man robbing God of his possessions!

The framers of the Constitution did not reason from a purely secular understanding of liberties but looked to the Old Testament for a godly pattern for civil government.1 The Scriptures acknowledged civil authority as delegated authority from God, upon which He placed divine limits. Even kings were not allowed to abuse God’s people. Those who did suffered not only divine retribution, but natural disaster.2 Biblical principles cautioned the Founders of the need to restrain the exercise of civil authority to its God given charter. The Biblical charter ordained civil authority chiefly to restrain evil and the wickedness of men and to promote an environment where the proclamation of God’s Truth was permitted freely.3 The Constitution framed the legitimate use and role of secular authority according to these Biblical patterns.

Can a civil authority remain legitimate and under divine favor if it throws off restraint and claims for itself rights and privileges not granted by God? No! Such a government sets itself up as a higher authority than God when it presumes to write and implement laws opposed to God’s Law. We have that situation today in America. The laws of the land, which now forbid the teaching of God’s Law in the schools and in public, imply that God is a threat to the State. The State must therefore control the free expression of religion in order to protect the people from harm. But the truth is that the State is entirely dependent upon the Law of God for its very existence! Yet the State, by its laws, has made itself the enemy of God.

If there is no authority higher than the State, then the State effectively becomes the arbiter of all that is just and right. The danger of this autonomous humanistic State is that it will not be restrained from exercising despotic and tyrannical power over its citizenry because it has become accountable to no one but itself. Recognizing no divine limit to its function, it becomes the arbiter of morals as well as policies. When a religious objection arises to a particular law or policy, the State appeals only to itself for its decision. It has no guiding principle higher than a flimsy social contract that is easily reinterpreted to suit present whims. There are no abiding principles or enduring truths to which the government must subject itself with reverence, respect, and awe. There is no absolute authority to which it may turn for counsel and wisdom.

When the Supreme Court publicly and officially expelled the Ten Commandments from our public schools in the 1960’s, it denied a divine sanction for morals and the State declared itself “Supreme.” A black-robed, gang of nine has become our nation’s god. It has declared its authority higher than the Creator’s by standing in opposition to God’s Law and by presuming to pass judgment upon the counsel of God. As a result, our protection as God’s property is being removed. Today, individual rights may serve the State’s interests, but tomorrow the State might change its mind. Who is to stop it now from dissolving those rights we so cherish? Are we nor already seeing an erosion of our freedom?

Cut off from divine favor and divine justice, the State can write laws opposed to the heart of God. Babies can be murdered in the womb as a legal right. Practicers of moral perversion can become a protected class deserving special privileges. The State is able to frame mischief (evil) into the very foundation and fabric of the law. Injustice and immorality are promoted and evil is rewarded and righteousness punished.

Secular authority in a vacuum cannot last. Without a divine sanction, a State loses its authority and ability to govern. As it writes mischief by statute it opposes God, and then God opposes the State. Just as Israel and Judah were destroyed by God for their defiance of His laws, His justice, and His divine compassion for the poor, so God’s patience with America draws to an end. The Founders knew, and cited often, the fact that when rulers in the Old Testament heeded God, Israel prospered, but when rulers did not, their nation floundered.4 Our Forefathers begged for mercy from Almighty God, lest this nation also fail to be sustained by divine favor and providence.

Thomas Jefferson said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice does not sleep forever….”5
With the rejection of conscience and the Word, with the promotion of immorality and perverseness under the banner of liberty, with selfishness and greed replacing commitment and sacrifice, and with the blood of 30 million innocent children on our hands, can we really believe God remains indifferent to our disobedience? Can we really hope as a nation to be spared the rod of his wrath?

Endnotes

1. For extensive documentation of the Founder’s reliance on Scripture as the principal founding document for the U.S. Constitution, get David Barton’s video or audio cassette entitled “America’s Godly Heritage,” Wallbuilders P.O. Box 397, Aledo TX 76008; Tel. #817- 441-6044.

2. See the life of David as one example (esp. 2 Sam. 24). Chronicles and Kings are full of examples too numerous to mention.

3. Romans 13:1-7, Ephesians 3: 10, & John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV. XX. 3, 6, 8, 9,31 & 32.

4. From a Conversation on the Floor of the Constitutional Convention, the Founders discussed how a nation will answer to God: “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this, by an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” As recounted by David Barton, op. cit.

5. Thomas Jefferson, from A Summary View of the Rights of British America, & Notes on The State of Virginia, Query 18., as quoted on the Jefferson Memorial, Wash. D.C.

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Are You Pardoned or Paroled?

Do you feel sad, guilty, unworthy, or ashamed? Does it seem that no matter what you do, you can’t live up to God’s standards? Are you always trying to be on your best behavior, but still feel like you aren’t being good enough? If you always have the feeling you are being watched and judged, then you know what it means to be living on parole. God does not want you to live that way. He wants you to know his love. He wants you to feel freedom and joy.

If you have been trying hard to find peace with God, but cannot, then learn what it means to be pardoned. Find release from the prison of guilt, fear, and condemnation. This liberating book answers many questions Christians ask themselves: “Although I believe in Jesus, why do I still do bad things? Am I doing enough to please God? Am I truly saved? If God has called me to be holy, why do I still live in sin?” These are questions asked by people who want to know God better. It is a question of sanctification: how can I be pure before God, have intimate fellowship with him, and walk before him unashamed?

If you have ever asked yourself questions like these, this book is for you.

Pardoned or Paroled? Escaping a Prison of Guilt to Find Freedom in Christ

Pardoned or Paroled? Escaping a Prison of Guilt to Find Freedom in Christ

Now available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. New 3rd edition. Also with this link to Smile @ Amazon, a portion of your purchase will help support the South East Asia Prayer Center or a charity of your choice

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Jeremiah, the Complaining Prophet

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New On SongShare

We Are Worship has added a song share section, and I joined and put up a couple of my worship songs here 

Come to the Table, and Heaven on Earth, are uploaded with lyrics and scores. There is a limit of 3 pieces. I’m working on other compositions, and updating others to better digital sound.

To hear 8 samples, visit my Scholars Corner Composer Page

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Make Me a Man Like Enoch

Make Me a Man Like Enoch

©1988 Jefferis Kent Peterson

Men:
Make me a man like Enoch
Make me a preacher like Paul
Give me a song like David’s
Make me a servant of all

Women:
Make me a woman like Deb’rah
Like Anna, teach me to pray
Give me a heart like Mary’s
Let me know God’s ways

Bridge:
O, God my Savior
Set me free
O, God my Savior
Let me Worship Thee

All:
Make us a people of Courage
Make us a people of faith
Give us an hope eternal
Let us finish the race.

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