Michael Youssef - Counting Stars Gives You Friends In High Places
I find that the older I get, the more I cherish true and genuine friendship, and just let me tell you, let me explain to you what I mean by true and genuine friendship. Definition of friendship are those people who come into your life when everybody else is leaving, or everybody else leaves. True friendship is those who love you with all of your quirks and with all of your idiosyncrasies. True friends are the people who know everything about you and they still love you all the same. That's true friendship as I'm talking about. And so, now I want you to turn with me please to Genesis 18, and here we come in this chapter and we discover something in the relationship between Abraham and the Lord to be priceless. Truly, you cannot place a value on it. Abraham becomes God's friend.
Someone say, "Well, Michael, isn't everybody a friend of God"? No, not really. Then the question would be, how can we human beings with all of our weaknesses, with all of our failures, with all of our foibles, and with all of our sins, how can we be friends to a righteous and holy God? You see, the basis or the foundation on which a friendship with God can ever be established is faith. Faith is the basis or the foundation of friendship with the Lord, faith in God that connects us to God. Faith is what made Abraham to be God's friend. With all of his weaknesses, with all of his failures, but he became God's friend because of his faith. Faith in spite of his weakness and failure and sin made King David to be a friend of God. Even God said that I saw David's heart after my own heart.
Faith is what caused Enoch not only to walk with God in this life, but he literally was translated into heaven as he walked with God. Faith is what can turn an enemy of God to be a friend of God. Don't ever forget that God is the one who extended friendship with us by giving up his one and only Son to die on that cross and rise again so that he may extend friendship to us. And that is why choosing Jesus above all else, loving Jesus above everybody else, identifying with Jesus unashamedly, being concerned about what concerns the heart of Jesus, being anxious to please him above pleasing anybody else, never tiring from his companionship, always delighting in his presence, longing to spend unhurried time with him, all of these are indication that you are a friend of God.
If you look at Genesis 18, you're going to find it's a remarkable chapter because all aspects of friendship with God are in this chapter, all evidence of his friendship with God is in this chapter, and yet, the word friends or friendship is never mentioned here. Look at it with me. Abraham was called God's friend three times in the Scripture, but not in the chapter where evidence of friendship is clear. Three times. The first time we read about it is, in the book of 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, verse 7. Let me set the stage. Israel, this time was Judah, who suffered a great deal from their enemies, that were always been harassed by their enemies, they were facing two powerful enemies, the Amorites and the Ammonites, and they were really in terrible danger.
And so, Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of the people before the temple and he petitioned God, and here's what he said. Listen. "Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people, Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham"? James 2:23 he said, "The Scripture fulfilled in the saying, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend". But truly the most powerful, the most amazing passage is found in Isaiah 41:8, because God himself... for the first time, God himself declares that Abraham was his friend. Here it is. "But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendant of Abraham my friend".
How do you like to be called God's friend? Well, you can be. As a matter of fact, a key verse here, which is verse 17, that indicates and shows clearly that special friendship. In verse 17, chapter 18, here you see God's friendship so implicit with Abraham. "Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do"? You see, that is a friend trusted a friend. In fact, God's friendship with Abraham makes it very, very clear that every one of you who are listening to me and those who are watching around the world that, no matter who you are, no matter where you've been, no matter what you have done or have not done, today you can be a friend of God.
Today, God desires to be your friend. Look at verses 3 and 4. Abraham opens the door of his tent wide and welcomes the Lord, and the Lord willingly enters and provides friendship and companionship to Abraham. Perhaps there's someone here or watching, you've wandered off the reservation as it were. Perhaps you have loved something or someone above Jesus. Perhaps you have become so preoccupied with your work, with your profession, with your possessions, or your position. Whatever it may be, I want to tell you on the authority of God's Word that God is anxious to renew his friendship with you. Amen? God is anxious to deepen his friendship with you. God is longing for you to be in a close communion with him. Here's a fact. Friends talk to each other. Friends share thoughts with each other.
That's why verse 17 is a crucial verse. "Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do"? That's what a friend does. He shares. Even though God is God, and Abraham was a man, but God tells Abraham, confides in him. And God's friendship with Abraham gave Abraham boldness to ask on behalf of his rebellious nephew, Lot, and his family, and God answered his prayer. Enjoying the Lord's company, sharing secrets with each other, the Lord hearing and answering his intercession, these are all clear indication of a deep friendship. I know there are so many people who really want friendship with God, but they don't want to come clean with God. There are so many people who want friendship with God, but they're not willing to pay the price.
In Genesis 18, obviously the Lord's appearance this time is different from other times. He did not appear to him in a dream, he did not materialize as El Shaddai, but the pre-incarnate Christ himself showed up with two angels, one on each side, and Abraham immediately recognized that these are no ordinary visitors. These are very special people. So, in an act of worship, Abraham would bow down at the feet of the pre-incarnate Christ as if to say, "My Lord, I'm Abraham. I know you know me. And if you are pleased with me, stay with me".
Don't miss what I'm going to tell you. Don't miss this 'cause I want you to comprehend Abraham's longing for the Lord's companionship, and I believe with all my heart that the Lord will answer that prayer. If you express longing to a true fellowship and friendship with Jesus, he will show it, he will answer it. And then, Abraham rises up from worshiping to go into sacrificial mode, bringing his best and offering it as food to this heavenly visitors. Beloved, listen to me. Listen to me. Worshiping and sacrificial giving are the Siamese twins of a Christian discipleship. He worshiped, and then, he rose to sacrifice. Verses 6 to 8, Abraham springs into action.
See, Abraham's friendship with God, it involved action. It involved a sacrifice. Sarah too graciously responds in unity with her husband to honor the Lord. No wonder the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3, of all the women in the Old Testament, he selects Sarah to illustrate godliness. Listen to me. Sarah was not perfect. Did you hear that? Neither was Abraham. But with resilience, she showed her mettle under pressure of the unexpected. Verses 9 to 12, you see the Lord asks for Sarah by name, and asking for Sarah by name is loaded. It's not that simple. Don't skip through it. He did not say, "Abraham, where is your wife"? Because he would immediately may have thought at least pointing to the mother of his son whom he wanted to live before God and be the one, Ishmael. God did not want to confuse anybody.
I told you last message, he's a God of precision. He asked for Sarah by name. Beloved, let me tell you something. Jesus asks and speaks and knows you by name. He calls you by name. He doesn't say, "Hey there, blondie. Hey, you brown eye. Come here". He doesn't say, "You housewife over there". No, no, no, no, no, no. He called Zacchaeus to come down from the tree by name. He called Nathaniel by name, and he saw him before he saw Jesus. He called the Samaritan woman by name, and he knew everything about her. He called Saul of Tarsus by name on the road to Damascus, and he calls you by name, and he calls you by name. He knows you by name, he loves you by name, and he cares for you by name.
Beloved, I'm convinced, I'm convinced that whenever we forget this fact that God knows you by name, calls you by name, loves you by name, when we forget that fact, it is the cause of most of our troubles. And so, in verse 10, the Lord repeats the promise of the coming son by Sarah. Now, those of you who are astute and following this, you say, "Now, wait a minute, Michael. Didn't he just give that promise in chapter 17 in the last message"? Yes. But you see, Abraham heard the promise, but he didn't tell Sarah. And you see, the Lord knew that Sarah is eavesdropping from inside the tent and he wanted to make sure that she hears it. And so, in Genesis 17, God prepares Abraham for that supernatural shock, but Abraham did not want to tell Sarah and we don't know why. Probably he didn't want her to have a heart attack.
And so, in Genesis 18... isn't that like our Lord? In Genesis 18, he personally shows up to tell Sarah. Verse 12, Sarah just could not fathom that a 90-year-old woman could have a baby. But instead of a heart attack, she laughs not knowing that anybody was listening. So the Lord asks Abraham, he didn't ask Sarah. I don't want you to miss these things. He asked Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh"? Beloved, I personally think that this is a rebuke to Abraham more than it was for Sarah. Do you know why? For not passing the good news to his wife. Verse 14 is one of the many favorite verses in the Bible. "Is anything too difficult for the Lord"? Can you say that with me? "Is anything..." And the answer is. Amen.
James tells us that we ask, but we don't receive because we ask wrongly, we ask selfishly, we ask ignorantly. "Is there anything too difficult for the Lord"? And the answer is, no. We are the ones who need to learn the lesson of what to do with what he gives us. You see, when Jesus said, "He who is faithful in little is going to be faithful in much". He gives you a little and he watches. He sees what you're going to do with it. You see, in the book of Numbers chapter 11, verse 23, "God said to Moses, 'Is the Lord's power limited?'" In Jeremiah 32:17, Jeremiah said to the Lord, "Nothing is too difficult for you".
In Luke chapter 1, verse 37 when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she's going to have a child and she said, "How can that be? I'm a virgin. I've never been with a man". And he said to her, "For nothing is impossible with God". If believers at this time truly, genuinely, honestly believe these words, we would have every church in America to be packed to the hilt not on Sunday morning, but the prayer meetings. But like all, unbelief always leads to more sin. You see, there's nothing wrong with experiencing some doubt, with momentarily unbelief or disappointed. Whatever it is. It's how long you stay there that matters. Because if you don't get out of there, it's going to lead you to deeper sin, and this is what happened here.
You see, her laughing did not stop there. Her laugh of unbelief did not stop there. It led her to lying. Unbelief always leads to more sin. She denied that she laughed. But beloved, listen. Don't miss this. As a result of that encounter with the Lord, as a result of that encounter, she became a great woman of faith. Now wonder, in the book of Hebrews, epistle to the Hebrews, 11:11 said, "By faith, Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered him faithful to his promises". Beginning at verse 16, you see a beautiful picture. It's absolutely beautiful picture of Abraham walking with the Lord, communing with the Lord, fellowshipping with the Lord, communicating with the Lord.
Again, verse 17, "The Lord said to Abraham, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do?'" Psalm 25:14, said, "The secret of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he will make them know his covenant". In the book of Amos chapter 3, verse 7 it says, "Surely the Lord God does nothing unless he reveals his secret counsel to his servant the prophets". And so, the Lord confides in Abraham as if to say, "Abraham, my friend, there is a disaster looming on the horizon and it's in your backyard, Abraham. Sodom and Gomorrah is overgrown with immorality. The cup of iniquity is full to the brim. Judgment is on its way. My patience has run out. The abomination has reached bottom".
Let me ask you honestly. Have you ever thought, have you ever taken time and think, "What is God saying to us"? You don't have to be a prophet to answer that question. You don't have to be a seminary graduate. All you need to do is, read Romans 1. I have no doubt in my heart that the Lord is saying, "My patience is running out. The nation that once honored me, now despises me. The nation that once wanted to be a city on a hill now is provoking me with their abomination. The nation in whose pulpits my gospel rung across the world is now preaching falsehoods. The nation who once took the gospel to the ends of the earth are now become so self-centered that they are drunk on entertainment and on self-worship".
I have no doubt the Lord is saying that the nation that once fasted and prayed and humbled themselves in repentance in seeking my face are now using my name as a curse word. The nation that once revered my Son is now forbidding his name from being mentioned in public. The nation that once sought my righteousness and holiness now has a leader who's ashamed of me. My beloved friends, God's cup is getting filled to the brim each passing day. I'm actually also convinced that God's judgment already began. It's already began. But you know what's the saddest part? There are so many believers are totally oblivion to it. God the Holy Spirit began to depart from our shores, leaving us to our own devices. God is about to leave us to the consequences of our choices.
Look with me, please, verses 23 to 33. Here you see an incredible level of maturity that Abraham has reached, but now we see him reaching an incredible level of spiritual maturity. He had come a long way. Why? Because he immediately began to intercede on behalf of his unsaved family members. Let me ask you this. Honestly, let me ask you this. When was the last time did you actually take hold of God, and I'm not talking about a day or two, a week or two, a month or two, or a year or two, that you have taken hold of God's promises and you never let go? You say, "Well, Michael, I prayed for a certain period of time and I just think it might not be according to the will of God". How do you know the will of God? Did God not tell you not to pray about that? I believe God will answer, and I know I'm putting my neck all the way up there, a prayer for an unsaved child.