Sermon by J. Oliver Jones
Numbers 12:1-9 NKJV 1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) 4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. 5 Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. 6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, (*mouth to mouth KJV) even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” 9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.
Exodus 33:11 NKJV So the LORD spoke to Moses **face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
Deuteronomy 34:10 NKJV But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew** face to face,
*mouth to mouth – (word means speech) meaning is that God speaks to him, not in visions or dreams, but face to face.
**face to face – (word means to turn toward or to turn to face) meaning that God spoke to Moses directly with direct and intentional dialogue.
There are two men in the Old Testament that are called friends of God – Abraham and Moses. This morning I have chosen to read Scripture that focuses on the friendship between God and Moses. The title of this message is Pursuing a Friendship with God.
The Question of this message – Are we in pursuit of friendship with God?
The Purpose of this message – To understand what is required to be a “Friend of God”
The Goal of this message – To encourage believers to live in such a way that they can be called God’s friend.
Right off the bat you should be thinking, “If only two men in the OT were called the friends of God, what chance do I have?
That is a good question, and it has a great answer. We are not in the OT. We are in the NT – the Age of Grace – the Church Age – the dispensation of the New Covenant. Old things have passed away, behold all things are become new!
Now please pay close attention to this statement: I have said before that one sure test of a true Christian is that he or she desires to serve and please God more than anything else in life. I did not say that this desire is necessarily being fulfilled, but the desire is there none the less. A true heartfelt desire to know and please God with our very lives – this is the sign of a born again, heart surrendered, priority changed believer. And I will say this very slowly and clearly – – – until you have such an experience your life will be vain and fruitless, going from one distraction to another to cover the emptiness you feel inside. But this is not how it should be, and not how God wants it to be. So let’s look at what is available and how we might begin this journey.
Servants and Sons:
You are most likely aware that as believers we are called the “servants of God.” A servant is defined as “one who serves another; one who performs duties for a master. We are all, as Christians, servants of our supreme Master. It is an honor to be His servant. It is a high calling to be His servant. Paul often called himself the servant of God. Romans 1:1. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…”
You are also likely aware that as born again believers we are now more than servants, we are called the sons (children) of God. This is a position we have not earned, do not deserve, and cannot purchase. God adopts us into His family when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Galatians 4:7 “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ…” We are in the position of sonship through adoption. God is not only our Master; He is also our Heavenly Father. Jesus taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven.
Personal Testimony: I have been a servant of God for my entire life. I am not saying I have always been a good servant, but never a time since I was saved at the age of nine have I not been aware of my position as a servant of God. A servant desires to please his master out of duty and obedience. These are the gage by which we measure our “success.” Are we doing all that our Master expects? Have we kept all the rules? Are we getting the job done? Many of you know how to be good servants. You have spent your life in the effort of pleasing your Master through service. And that is good!
Along the way I learned that I was also a son of God. But this was hard to understand, and even more difficult to apply. I am not worthy to be a son. I am not sure I can handle the role of a son. I understood the role of a servant. The Master says go and you go. He says do and you do. But the role of a son is different. As a son the desire to please comes from a loving relationship. There are fewer rules, but a greater responsibility, and oh, so many more ways to disappoint. How I did not want to be a disappointment to my Father.
It took a long time, but I finally realized that as a son I was free from all the bondage of being a servant. No more lists of things to do and not to do. The rules became simple. I understood what Jesus meant when He said that those who love God and love their neighbor have kept all the law and the prophets. To be a son is to be transformed into the image of Christ; to allow Him to live in and through us. Love fulfills law. This is a lifelong process, but I now understand how we become good sons. We allow God to do his work of transforming us into the image of Christ. Being a good son means loving God more than we love anything else. As John Wesley said of a true Methodist, he is one who “loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!’”
How many of us today have this as the desire of our heart? Do we truly want to be the children of God? Are we willing to allow God to do His work in us so we will not be a disappointment as His children? Are you allowing Him to transform you into the image of Christ? If so, you are a good son. You are a good daughter. But wait, there is more.
I titled this message, Pursuing a Friendship with God. I am a servant; I am a son. But I desire to be God’s friend. And I know that this is possible. Listen to Jesus:
John 15:13-15 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 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.
Remember Moses? He was a friend with God. God talked to Him face to face, mouth to mouth. A friendship with God is different than being a servant. It is even different than being a son. Being a friend is a relationship of mutual choice. It is not bound by kinship, legal contract, or formal social obligations. It develops over a period of time and interaction. The two lives involved in a friendship are interdependent, but on a voluntary basis. True friendship consists of
1) loyalty one to another
2) thoughtfulness toward one another
3) willingness to listen to one another
4) mutual trust of one another
5) having the best interest at heart for each other 6) honesty with one another.
True friends will have similar interest, similar values, and often similar goals. True friends will be willing to sacrifice for one another. True friends know all the secrets hidden from the masses, and they will love one another anyway. They want to spend time together, just for the sake of friendship, and because they enjoy each others company.
Perhaps you have a friend such as this – someone you would trust with everything you have – could depend on to help with any need you face – someone you just enjoy being around even when all is well and you don’t need a thing – and someone you know that feels the same toward you. Because friendship is mutual, you know!
It might do each of us good to write down how much time we spend doing all the things we enjoy; shopping, watching or playing sports, working on our hobbies, watching television, reading romance novels, whatever it might be. How does this compare with the time you choose to spend pursuing a relationship with God? Do you love God with all you heart? Do you want to know God as friend? Are you willing to pursue a friendship with God?
God is certainly willing to give you His time. Will you give Him yours?