Greg Laurie - How To Have Friendship With God
I wanna talk to you about a man that knew God in a personal way, a man who had a friendship with God, and of course, that man's name is Moses. Exodus 33:11 says, "The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend". What an amazing statement that is, and especially in light of the fact that it's in the Old Testament. Now in a few moments, I'll talk about how we can have friendship with God. It's all a part of the New Covenant, as we might call it, that came as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Well, we can all be friends with God, but in the Old Covenant, in the Old Testament, you didn't have that kind of access to the Lord. But Moses did. He was the friend of God.
And one day in deep conversation, Moses and his friend, God Almighty, were talking, and Moses asked for the most audacious thing. It's really unprecedented, what he asked for. He actually said to the Lord, "I want to see you. I want to see you with my own eyes", but you know what? Friends can ask friends for favors. And by the way, God was not offended by this request, and in fact was drawing Moses out. So let's pick up where we last left off in this series. So Moses is up on Mount Sinai, receiving the Ten Commandments. Now, he doesn't know how bad things are back at the camp where Aaron was left in charge. He did not yet know at the people were dancing around a golden calf and calling it their god.
And so, while he's there on Mount Sinai, the Lord says to Moses in Exodus 32 verse nine, "I'm going to pour my wrath out against these people and consume them and make of you a great nation". Moses didn't know how bad it was, and now as he descends from the mountain, he sees this sight of full tilt idolatry and immorality, and Aaron offers up the lamest excuse of all time to justify this horrible behavior, and Moses is so angry, he takes these two commandments, written by the finger of God, and throws them on the ground, and they smash into pieces. Now, that was not a good idea. The Lord actually said, "You're gonna have to go carve a new set now", and that's exactly what he had to do. But here's what was happening. The Lord was developing Moses. He was testing Moses, and he was wanting to see if Moses would learn how to be an intercessor.
Sometimes the Lord will allow tests in our life to see if we will press on and not give up. Now listen to this amazing statement of Moses in Exodus 32, verse 31. "Moses returned to the Lord and said, These people have committed a terrible sin. They've made gods of gold for themselves. Now please forgive their sin, and if not, then blot me out of the record you are keeping". So Moses has seen the sin of the people, and he goes to the Lord, and he says, "Lord, I know it's bad. It's horrible, what they've done, and I'm asking you to forgive them of their sin". And in the original Hebrew, there's an implied pause. So it goes something along these lines: "Lord, I know they've committed a horrible sin, and I ask you to forgive them", pause, pause, pause. "But if not, then blot my name out of your book".
Get it? Moses is pondering this, he's thinking about it, and he's saying, "Lord, if it would make a difference, if it would mean that they would be forgiven, take my name out of your book". Effectively, the apostle Paul said the same thing when he wrote in Romans 19, or excuse me, Romans 9:3. He said, "My people, my Jewish brothers and sisters, I would be willing to be forever cursed, that is, cut off from Christ, if you would save them". So basically Paul and Moses are saying to the Lord, "Hey, if this is what it takes, we'll go to hell so these people can go to heaven". That's an intercessor for you. That's someone's standing in the gap. Thankfully, we don't have to give up our hope of eternal life so someone else can have it. That is already been purchased for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. But Moses was a true intercessor, and he would not give up.
I think one of the reasons we don't intercede for others, one of the reasons we don't pray for others, is because if we're brutally honest, and no one likes to admit it, but we would have to say, we just don't care. You're not gonna share if you don't care. And I think it comes back to Jonah. I mentioned him last time, how Jonah did not wanna go preach the gospel to the Ninevites, because frankly, he did not want them to repent. He wanted God to judge them and eradicate them from the earth, because they were a cruel people, and Israel had suffered under their hand. So he didn't wanna go offer mercy to them. Sometimes we'll look at somebody that's living a wicked life or doing horrible things, and we don't want to pray for them. We don't wanna pray that God touches their heart or changes them or forgives our sin, but we should. If we don't care, we'll never share, and here's what I'm saying: I hope that you would have a heart that cares for people that don't know Jesus yet.
C.H. Spurgeon, regarded by most preachers as the greatest of all preachers apart from the apostles; in fact, he was called the "prince of preachers"; once made this statement, quote, "The Holy Spirit will move them by first moving you". Spurgeon was talking about non-believers. "If you can rest without their being saved, they will rest too, but if you're filled with an agony for them", writes Spurgeon, and if you start up at once and begin to cry, Oh God, give me converts or I will die, then", Spurgeon says, "You will have converts". Care, be an intercessor, stand in the gap. All around you are people that need to hear about Jesus Christ, and all you need to do is take a little step of faith and start an evangelistic conversation.
Back to our story, God tells Moses he won't destroy the people, but then he adds this: "but I'm not going with them either. I'll send an angel". Well, Moses is not down with that idea at all. He goes and tells the Israelites, "Good news and bad news. God is not going to wipe you off the face of the earth and you can go, but he's not going with you. You're on your own. He'll send an angel though". The people are like, "No, we want the Lord to go with us". And so they take off all their rings and their necklaces and everything else, and they offer it to the Lord and they say, "We're sorry for our sin. We don't wanna go on without God".
So now Moses goes to the Lord with this amazing statement in Exodus 33, Exodus 33 verse 15. Moses said to the Lord, "If you don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place. How will anyone now look favorably on me and your people if you don't go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on earth". Man, he's so candid, effectively saying, "Lord, bad PR move. As your consultant, I recommend you go with us. This isn't gonna reflect well on you or me or your people. What sets us apart is you walk with us, and we walk with you". But you know, that's friendship. Friends can ask for things from friends. And amazingly, the Lord approves and gives Moses what he asks for. And this gives us an insight into how to have your prayers answered in the affirmative.
Listen to this. The objective of prayer is not to get God to do what I want him to do. The purpose of prayer is not getting Greg's will in heaven. It's getting God's will on earth in Greg's life. Think of it as you being on a little boat, and there's a dock, and you throw your rope, and you pull yourself to the dock. Now, are you pulling the dock to you, or are you pulling your boat to the dock? That's prayer. God is like the dock. Get aligned with him. The closer you get to his will, the more your prayers will be answered in the affirmative. Jesus said, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you", or from the Greek, it would be, Jesus speaking, "If you maintain a living communion with me and my word is at home in you", listen, "you can ask at once for yourself whatever your heart desires, and it's yours".
Now we gravitate toward the latter part of the verse, "Ask whatever my heart desires". Well, listen, if I'm maintaining a living communion with him and his Word is at home in my heart, and I'm reading the Bible, I'm gonna start praying for what God wants. That's what's happening to Moses. He's getting his will aligned with the will of God. I John 5:15 says, "This is a confidence we have when we approach God. If we ask anything according to his will, he will hear us". So now Moses is getting it. He's aligning with God. Now, he asks for three things from the Lord, and if you're taking notes, you might wanna write these three things down, because these are three things you should ask for from the Lord, and they're on the screen as well.
Number one, Moses asks the Lord for divine direction. He asks the Lord for divine direction. Verse 13, "Now I pray, if I have found grace in your sight, show me your way". Every believer should ask God to reveal his well to their life, and I believe God has a plan for your life. The book of James says, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and the Lord will give generously". So when you don't know what to do, pray about it. Say, "Lord, just give me wisdom". Romans 12 gives a really important insight into how to know the will of God. Paul writes and says, "I urge you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, present your bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, and don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind", listen, and he goes on to say, "that you may know what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God". So if you wanna know the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, first present yourself to God, and that's something you do over and over, not just once.
Number two, you have your mind changed as you read his Word and you're being changed into the image of Jesus. And then the Lord promises he'll reveal his will. Notice also he says, "the good and acceptable will of God". God's will is good. Don't be afraid to ask God to reveal his will to you. Don't be afraid to say, "Not my will, but yours be done". Never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. God loves you. His plan for you is good, and if he says you can't do that, that's because he's keeping you from something that is bad. The Bible says, "No good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly".
So his plan for you is good. I love what the Lord says to Moses, verse 14. "My presence will go with you, and I will give you peace". The Hebrew here is vivid. It could be better translated, "My face will go with you". Now, what does that even mean? God says, "You have my full attention". When I'm hanging out with my five grandkids, they always want me to watch them do whatever it is they're doing. Maybe it's a cartwheel. Maybe it's riding a skateboard. Whatever it is, "Papa", they say, "Watch me, watch me". And I watch them, and afterwards I give my approval, "Oh, you did that beautifully, that was great". They wanna be affirmed. They wanna be loved. They wanna be appreciated. Are we any different? We're saying, "Lord, watch me". The Lord says, "You have my full attention. I'm looking right at you".
By the way, aren't you glad God doesn't have a cellphone? You know how distracted people are with cellphones? What if the Lord, "What, what"? He's scrolling through stuff. No, the Lord, you have his full attention. He's watching you, but he's watching you with great love and with affection. I think sometimes we think, "Oh, God is watching me", and that's a negative thing.
I heard a story about a thief that broke into a house. It was very dark, and he's making his way around, and suddenly he heard a voice pierce the darkness, which said, "Jesus is watching you". Whoa, who said that"? He couldn't believe it. Another moment passes, and again, the voice says, "Jesus is watching you". He's fumbling for his flashlight. He turns it on, and it's a parrot who says for the third time, "Jesus is watching you". That thief was laughing, "Oh, and I was so scared". And then he follows the perch that goes down to the base, and there's a Doberman with his teeth showing, and then the parrot says, "Sic 'em, Jesus". Wow. First of all, don't ever name your dog Jesus, okay? But it's a silly joke to make this simple point. That's how some people see God, "Oh, sic 'em, Jesus". "God is against me". No, God loves you, God is for you, and God approves of you.
Now, if you're living apart from him in sin, that's not true, but if you've asked him to forgive you of your sin, the Bible says, "He has made you accepted in the beloved". Ephesians 1:6 tells us that. You are accepted by God. You are loved by God. You don't have to earn that every day. It's done already, bought for you by Christ on the cross. And so the Lord is saying, "Buddy, I got your back, okay? Don't worry, I'll go with you. You will have my full attention". Now, number two, Moses asks for confirmation. First he asked for direction. Now he asks for confirmation. Verse 15, "If you don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on us or on me and on your people if you don't go with us? Lord, the angels are great, okay, But we don't want an angel. We want you". I love that.
Remember when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning? She was not expecting to meet a risen Savior. She was going to show her devotion to him and anoint his dead body, and suddenly, an angel is talking to her there at the tomb. And it's interesting, 'cause he angel engages her and says, "Woman, why are you crying"? And she says, "Well, because they've taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they've taken them". I find that fascinating. You would think she'd say, "Wait, what? You're like, an angel, and you just asked me a question? Ah, whatever, an angel. Well, they've taken away Jesus". All she could think about was Jesus. "Jesus isn't here. I don't know where his body is, Mr. Angel". And then what happens after that? Jesus appears and says, "Mary".
You see, Moses didn't want an angel. He wanted the Lord himself to go with him, and that's what we should all want. God reassures his friend Moses in verse 17. "The Lord replied favorably to Moses. I will indeed do what you've asked and looked favorably on you, and I know you by name". Loose paraphrase, "Buddy, you got it". The Lord was drawing him out. This is always what God wanted to do for Moses, but Moses was learning how to pray and how to be persistent and how to keep going to the Lord again and again and again. Now Moses goes to the next level. Moses goes for the gold. He figures, "Hey man, I'm on a roll. God's answering my prayers. I'm gonna ask for the big one now".
Number three, Moses prays for the very glory of God to be revealed to him, verse 18. "Please show me your glory". Another way to state it, "I wanna see you, God. I love talking with you. I love our conversations together, but I actually would like to see you". And by the way, that is a good thing, to want to see God. A.B. Simpson, no relation to Homer Simpson, I don't think, he's a commentator from days gone by, made this statement, and I quote, "Once it was the blessing; now it is the Lord. Once it was the feeling; now it is his Word. Once his gifts I wanted; now the Giver alone. Once I sought for healing; now, himself alone", end quote. I love that. So Moses is saying, "I just wanna see you, Lord". And what did Jesus say? "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". He wanted to see the Lord. But of course, if he saw the Lord, he would have died on the spot.
The story is told of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. He was in outer space, and he famously said, "I looked and I looked, and I did not see God". Hey, if Yuri had taken his helmet off, he would have seen God really fast. But I think all of us should want to see God, and when I say "see God", I mean know him, of course, but one day, we wanna see God face to face. So the Lord works out a super sweet deal for Moses. Check this out, Exodus 33. I'm reading from the New Living Translation. "The Lord replied, I'll make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, the Lord, to you. I'll show kindness to anyone I choose and mercy to anyone I choose, but you may not look directly at my face, for no one can see me and live". The Lord continues. "Stand here on the rock beside me. As my glorious presence passes by, I'll put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed. Then I'll remove my hand, and you can see me from behind. But my face will never be seen". Like, what?
This is insane, so beautiful. The Lord's saying, "You're my friend. I'm gonna cut a special deal for you, Moses. I'm gonna let you do something no one has ever done before". And what Moses then saw, I can't even imagine. The apostle Paul died and went to heaven and came back to earth again, and he said, "What I heard and saw, it's indescribable. It's unspeakable. I can't even put it into words". We're in awe of such a relationship. We think, "Aw, man, I wish I knew God like that". But here's something that might surprise you. Did you know that your friendship with God as a Christian is even closer than the friendship that Moses himself had with God?
You say, "How is that possible"? Because Moses was in the Old Covenant, and though this was a very special relationship he had with the Lord, you, if you're a Christian, are in the New Covenant. You go, "What are we even talking about, New Covenant"? When Jesus died, a new covenant was established. He fulfilled all of those Old Testament sacrifices and types in himself. He was the Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world. Coming back to Mary, who was hanging onto Jesus after he appeared to her, he said, "Stop clinging to me for, I must ascend to my God and to your God, to my Father and your Father". No Jew in the Old Testament called God "Father". But in the New Testament, we can all call him Father, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Lord was saying to Mary, "Mary, listen. Now he's your God, and now he's your Father. You can call on him", so we can have this friendship with God.
And it's interesting, because Jesus says, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant doesn't know what his master is doing. But I've called you friends, for all things I've heard from my father, I've made known to you". Moses saw God, and you can see God too. You may remember the story of Stephen and the Book of Acts. He became the first martyr of the church, a courageous young man that would not back down from his faith. He stood before the religious rulers of that day known as the Sanhedrin, sort of the supreme court, but a religious group as well as a political group. He proclaimed the gospel of them, and they rewarded him by taking his life through stoning, a horrible way to die. And as his life was draining from him, we read that Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing at the place of honor at God's right hand.
Stephen saw his glory, Moses saw his glory, and one day, we'll see his glory. Do you have a loved one who has died and gone to heaven who put their faith in Christ? They've seen his glory, they're seeing his glory, and one day, you will see it too. But until that day, we need to walk with him in friendship with him. So in closing, I'm asking, are you a friend of God? You say, "I hope so". Well, listen to this. If you're not a friend of God, you're by default an enemy of God. Not a "frenemy", an enemy of God. The Bible says before we're believers, that we are living in sin, and we are enemies who need to be reconciled to God. The Bible describes the people that don't believe as "enemies of the cross". The Bible also says a person that loves this world is not a friend of God, but they're the enemy of God.
So I don't think you want to be an enemy of God, do you? I think you want to be a friend of God. I've told you my story before of how I became a Christian, but there was one statement that hit my heart like a lightning bolt from heaven, and it's when Lonnie, who was the preacher that day, said at my high school campus, "Jesus said, you're either for me or against me". Another way of putting it, he was saying, "You're either God's friend or God's enemy". I looked around at the Christians and I thought, "Well, they're the friends of God. They have a relationship with God. They know the Lord. They're for him, and I'm not one of them. Does that mean that I'm against God"?
Well, the last thing I wanted was to be against God. So that was the day I believed. Maybe this will be the day you believe. Hey, thanks for watching our TV program. I wonder if you yourself have accepted Jesus Christ. You know, a lot of times people tune into programs like this who aren't believers, and they're kinda checking it out. Maybe you're laughing at it at first. Maybe you think it's not real, but something has happened. Maybe something that's been said, you've suddenly discovered you need Jesus Christ. You know, the day I accepted Jesus, let me tell you, it was the last thing I planned on doing. I didn't plan on becoming a Christian that day, but that was the day that was appointed in eternity for me to believe in Jesus.
I wonder if this is not that day for you. You've been eavesdropping, you've been checking it out, but now God's speaking right to your heart, and you realize you need Jesus Christ. Would you like to have your sin forgiven? Would you like a second chance in life? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? Would you like your guilt removed? Listen, it can all happen, because Jesus Christ went to a cross and died for your sin, and then rose again, three days later. He'll come into your life right now and be your Savior and your Lord and the best friend you've ever had. Let's pray together. Pray this after me.
Lord Jesus. I know that I'm a sinner, but I believe you died on the cross for my sin, and I'm sorry for that sin. I turned from it now, and I ask you to come into my life and be my Savior and be my Lord, and be my God and be my friend. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus's name I pray, amen.
If you just prayed that prayer, I want you to know on the authority of God's Word that Christ himself has come to live inside of you. The Bible says "These things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life". But let me say, God bless you, and welcome to God's family.