The friendship of God.
The well known hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” but actually, God invites us to enjoy friendship and fellowship with all three persons of the Trinity: our Father, (1 John 1:3. This experience of communion with the Father), the Son (1 Corinthians 1:9. This wonderful friendship with his Son, even Christ our Lord), and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14. The intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit).
The Bible says, “Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God — all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God” (Romans 5:11 NLT). What did Jesus do for us? He died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin …removing the barrier between us and God for those who believe in Him. “All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends” (2 Corinthians 5:18a TEV).
Looking back over the last six weeks I can see some remarkable signs that God is right here by my side, my friend. Here are just three examples
1) A Plumb line. On Saturday 1st April I woke up thinking about what I was going to say at the up-coming baptism of my 14 year old son Daniel and his friend Luke. I felt God wanted me to use three illustrations – a sponge, a torch, and either a compass or a plumb line as an illustration. I headed off to the prayer meeting at the office at 8am still juggling this in my mind; should I use the compass, or should I use the plumb line? I then headed off to help with the communal gardening at 9am. I reached into the bushes outside the job centre to pull out rubbish and to my surprise this is what I found: A plumb line!
Why was I so pleased? In the book of Amos in the Old Testament the Lord gives the prophet Amos a vision.
Amos 7:7. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”
I answered, “A plumb line.”
And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins.”
A plumb line is a weight used by builders as a vertical reference point – to make sure what they are building is straight. It does not deviate, it does not provide excuses, it does not just tell you what you want to hear, it does not change. It is unerringly straight and right. This is how I felt God wants Dan and Luke to be in their generation. Others will look at them and be able to judge the quality of their own lives in the sight of God.
Sunday 7th May found me visiting my Nephew at his Bible College in Cyprus.
We had decided to go to Paphos for the day and for the first time in my life I felt drawn to the idea of just sitting in a café and reading, while my wife and sister visited some local archeological sites. The book was on Spiritual Warfare by Peter Wagner. It was a book I had pulled off the bookshelf more or less at random and on a whim had throw into the rucksack for the day. I pulled it out and started reading where I had left off on page 77. Imagine my amazement when I read the content of the page concerned “the dramatic power encounter that began Paul’s evangelistic initiative in Paphos, Western Cyprus as recorded in Acts 13:6-12”
God’s finger-prints were evident once again! He was sitting with me in that café!
3) Mike’s Monitors
My third example of God nudging me to let me know He was with me occurred just yesterday. It is almost frivolous, but just as real to me.
I had met Mike in Cyprus – His son was at the same Bible College as my nephew, and we had shared accommodation. He had returned to Connecticut the Sunday I had been in Paphos. He emailed me a picture of his office. I noted no less than 5 monitors in the picture and quipped in a text: “Very impressive you ‘big shot’!”
I then sent him a picture of my desk with it’s rather under-sized single monitor, and jokingly added “I have put in a request for another four monitors, including a couple of big ones on the wall…I hate to be out-done by a Yank!”
By the end of the day I had to send him another text with another photo. “God has a sense of humour! Without my prompting, the Practice manager has today replaced my monitor for a wide-screen one!!”
Am I imagining this, or had God enjoyed sharing that joke with Mike and I?!
So – you may be thinking – you poor deluded fool! All these are just co-incidences. They happen to everyone! Well yes. But William Temple – Archbishop of Canterbury 1942-1944 once remarked “When I pray, co-incidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.”
Take these little co-incidences for what they are…..nothing. And everything. God in conversation, my friend “who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov 18:24) Evidence of the LORD who “watches over all who love him…” (Psalm 145:20)
James Muir 13.05.17