Robert Morris — I'm a Friend
Alright, we're in a series called "Frequency: Tune In, Hear God". I want you to turn to two passages of Scripture, John 15 and Genesis 18, and we'll actually start in John 15, we'll go back to Genesis 18, and then we'll come back around John 15. But, if you can only turn to one, turn to Genesis 18, because it's a longer passage and I want you to see that. This week, the title of the message is, "I'm a Friend".
Let me give you an illustration of two types of a friend, and you see which type you would prefer, alright? Let's say that you're in the hospital, and you and I are friends, and so you ask me to come by and visit you. And I come to the front desk, and I drop off some of the books that I've written, and I say, would you deliver them to this room? But I never see you, never talk to you, never sit at your bedside, and yet, we've been friends for 20 years. But, I just drop off some books that I've written for you. Or, I show up at the hospital every morning before I go to work, sit with you for an hour or so and talk, I text you a few times during the day, come in the evening, sit with you again, sneak you in some fast food.
Okay, I want to take a little poll here. How many of you have ever had a friend or a family member in the hospital, and you snuck in food? Can I? That's what I thought. Yeah, yeah, all the rule-breakers. Alright, so which friend would you rather me be, the guy that drops off some books that I've written, or the guy that comes and actually sits and talks with you? Okay, I hope you never forget this. God wants to be the type of friend that sits and talks with you. He doesn't want to just drop off some books that He's written for you to read. Now, I'm not minimizing God's Word at all, at all. I'm simply saying that that is not the extent of God's friendship with you, that He just wants you to read the books that He wrote. He wants to sit and talk with you, especially if you're in a bed of pain. He wants to talk with you. He wants to be that type of friend.
So, in John 15, look at Verse 15. It's easy to remember, John 15:15. Jesus says, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you", what? Friends. "I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you". And this, made known, in the English we have two words, but it's only one Greek word, and it means spoken. I've told you. Why? Why does God talk to us? Because we're friends.
Okay, so let me give you three things about God speaking to us, alright? Here's number one. God does not speak to robots. God does not speak to robots. Okay, you may have never thought about this, but we communicate two ways on earth. We communicate mechanically and personally. Mechanically and personally. In other words, when we communicate to a machine, we communicate mechanically. But when we communicate to a person, we communicate personally. Now, you might say, well, I don't communicate with machines. Yeah, you probably have yelled at your car before, but that's not what I'm talking about. You do communicate mechanically to machines. For instance, if you want your car to go, you communicate for it to go by pressing the gas pedal. If you want it to stop, you press the brake pedal. See, you are communicating mechanically. Does everyone understand? If you want words to appear on your computer screen, you communicate mechanically to your computer. You press the G letter when you want the G to appear. You save the document. You tell it to print. You know, things like that.
You know, I can remember, years ago, when I first got my computer. You know, I hit print. My son knew about it, but I didn't know about those things. I hit print, and do you know what it said? The computer cannot find the printer. I turned to the monitor. I said, it's right there! So, but you communicate two ways, mechanically and personally. I'm telling you, God does not want to communicate mechanically with you. He wants to communicate personally. He wants to talk to you.
Now, as we're talking about this, when we talk about communicating with our car, and I'm not talking about yelling at your car, but I would like to just ask the question and see if I'm the only one here, do you ever talk to other cars? What are you doing? I do that all the time, and let me tell you, let me just get something off my chest because, you know, there's 30.000 of you here, all of the affiliate churches, all of the people watching on the internet, and all of the people watching on television. Please, listen. Get out of my lane. Please! And I'm going to help you, because some of you don't understand this. There's a slow lane, and a fast lane. Get out of my lane, okay? Come on!
And listen, I know some of you do it because you're stubborn. You think, I'm going the speed limit. He can just — you know, he should. Listen. The right lane is for driving. The left lane is for passing. Get out of my lane! Please. And then, when you can finally get a place where you can move over, you don't move over, and then I have to go around you on the right. And it is standard procedure, if you have to go around someone on the right, you give them the look. Is that right? Now, don't give them the gesture. That's not right for believers. But, give them the look. I went around a guy a while back. I gave him the look, because you're supposed to give them the look. And then about 30 seconds later, my phone rings. This guy said, Pastor, did I do something wrong?
Okay, I'm telling you though, God does not want to communicate with you mechanically. Let me say it another way. God is not trying to just input data into your life to get a desired result. God wants to be your friend. Have you ever thought about, what is the main reason that we want to hear God? You know, unfortunately, the main reason that most of us want to hear God is for direction. Now, here's the way I say unfortunately. I think God does want to give us direction, but I don't think that's the main reason that He wants to communicate with us. I think the main reason He wants to communicate with us is because He loves us, is because He actually wants to be our friend. It's one of the most amazing truths in the Bible, that God wants to be your friend. He wants to talk to you.
All right, so look at Genesis 18. I just love this. We're talking about God speaking to humans. It's all through Scripture, and here is a great conversation with God that Abraham had. Genesis 18. It's a long conversation, but I think we need to look at it. And, here's what I want you to do. You might not be in the habit of laughing when you read the Bible, but there are things in the Bible that are funny. And I just want you to watch what Abraham does, alright? Because I think God laughed, personally.
Genesis 18, look at Verse 17. Now the first part here, by the way, He's talking to Abraham and some other men. There are other people hearing this conversation, alright? "And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great mighty nation, and all of the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him". Again, this word means talked to him. "In order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has", what? "Spoken to him".
No doubt, God speaks to people. "And the Lord said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me, and if not, I will know". Now, watch Verse 22. "Then the men", that's the other men, "turned away from there and went toward Sodom". See, there were other men standing there. "But Abraham", watch carefully, "still stood before the Lord. And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked"?
Now, before we go on, if you want to know how to hear God, two things right there. Stop what you're doing and draw near. I mean, look how simple that was. The rest of the men walked away. Abraham stopped what he was doing and drew near to God. So, it's very, very simple. Stop what you're doing, and draw near to God. Alright? Now, watch. This is where, to me, it'll start getting funny with Abraham. Verse 24, "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city. Would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it"? Watch this. "Far be it from you to do such a thing as this". I can't even imagine. He's trying to manipulate God here. "To slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked, far be it from you. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right"?
So, the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes". Then Abraham answered and said, "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes, and I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord". And I just think that he's just really laying it on thick here. "Suppose there were five less than fifty righteous. Would You destroy all of the city for a lack of five"? So He said, "If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it". And he spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be forty found there"? So He said, "I will not do it for the sake of forty". Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty should be found there"? So He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there".
And then he said, "Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty should be found there"? So He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty". Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. But once more, suppose ten should be found there"? And He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten". So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place".
Now, here's the reason I wanted to show you this. The Lord went His way and Abraham returned. Here's what I think the Lord did. I think He turned around, walks over to, you know, this could have been Jesus talking to him. So, He walks over to the Father, and the Holy Spirit, maybe Gabriel and Michael were there, and I think He said something like this. I like that guy! That guy is so cool. Did you hear him say, "Far be it from you"? Did you hear that? And, he knew he was going to ten, but he started at fifty. Did you see that? And then he said, I'm just dust and ashes, you know. Here's what I think God said. I think he and I are going to become good friends. I think we're going to become good friends. I'm telling you, I think God liked that conversation. He likes talking to people.
So, He doesn't speak to robots. Here's number two. God speaks to people. God speaks to people. We just read a record of a conversation of God speaking to a man, but we have lots of them, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Adam and Eve in the very beginning, Moses, David, Solomon, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Zachariah, Malachi. And in the New Testament, all of the disciples, and Paul, and Luke, and even Cornelius, who was an unbeliever. It's amazing!
So, we read this record and here's what I want to say to you. Why would we think that the indwelling Holy Spirit, the indwelling Holy Spirit, would speak less to people than He spoke in the Bible? Why would we think that God would send His Spirit to dwell within us, and yet make Him mute? Now, you can't talk to them though, because I wrote them a book. That's what people say! Because God wrote the book, He doesn't speak anymore. He's got to be about to burst up there in heaven! And the Holy Spirit's living inside of you, and He's like... I wish I could tell him, but I can't talk, I'm not supposed to talk. Okay. Well, that's exactly the opposite of what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit.
Back in John 16, we were in 15 a while ago. Here's John 16:12. Jesus said, "I still have many things", many things, "to say to you", not impress upon you, but to say to you, "but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth". Now, someone might say, yeah, but it says guide, it doesn't say speak. Hold on before you talk, okay? Look what it says. "For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will", what? "Speak". The Holy Spirit will speak to you, "and He will tell you things to come". That's Jesus talking, telling us about the Holy Spirit. He will speak to you, and He'll tell you things to come.
See, I think that one of the biggest problems we have about hearing the voice of God is that we think that He spoke differently to people in the Bible. We think that it was audible, and it might have been sometime. It might have been. But, Elijah said it was a still, small voice. We think about it being this booming voice, and there are times when God speaks as thunder and others around heard it, too. Okay? But I'm wondering if sometimes when He spoke, He spoke just like He does now, and He speaks to our hearts.
Here's the reason I wonder that. Hebrews 11, we call it the hall of faith, not fame, faith. We've got all of these people that by faith, they did something by faith. Okay, if it was so undeniably God, why would they have to do it by faith? Moses was talking to a bush, and said, what's your name, you know? Abraham said, let me know this is you. Gideon, everyone knows about Gideon's fleece. Here's what Gideon said, Judges 6:17. "Show me a sign that it is you who talked with me". Well, if it was this big, booming voice, why would he say that? You know, we think it's this big, booming voice, and we think, like in the cartoons, that their hair went straight back, like that, and God just spoke, you know, like that.
Okay, if that's the case, then Hebrews 11 wouldn't have said by faith, it would have said by fear. They were scared to death, so that's why they did what God told them to. Why would it say by faith? Faith, they had to believe that it was God speaking to them. I submit to you that many people that heard God in the Bible might have heard God the same way we hear God, in their hearts, and that's why they had to move by faith. God speaks still today. He never says anything contrary to this Word, but He does speak. So, God doesn't speak to robots, He speaks to people, and here's number three. God speaks to friends. God speaks to friends.
Exodus 33:11, "So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend". James 2:23, "And the Scripture was fulfilled which says Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, and he was called the" what? "The friend of God". You know, we're going to be talking in this series about how to hear God's voice, but this message is really why we want to hear God's voice, and I'm telling you, because God wants to be your friend. He could have created robots, but He didn't. He created people with wills and with the ability to hear and speak. Why? Because He wanted to, and we know He wanted to do this, because this is what they did before the fall.
Listen. He created us, listen, to walk and talk with us in the cool of the day. That's what He was doing before Adam and Eve fell, and that's what He wants to restore us to, to be able to talk to Him. And I'll tell you something else. He calls you a friend even when you don't act the way you should, and even when I don't act the way I should.
Let me show you a couple of Scriptures. Zechariah 13:6, "If someone asked Him", this is a Messianic Scripture in the Old Testament about Jesus, "what are these wounds on your body? He will answer, "The wounds I was given at the house of my friends". Matthew 26, when Judas betrayed Him, Verse 48. "Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One, seize Him". Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi", and kissed Him, but Jesus said to Him, "Friend, why have you come"? And then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him away". That blows me away. The one who betrayed Him, Jesus still called him a friend. And then in John 15, where we started, two verses before where we started, Verse 13. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends".
This past February was my 35th birthday, spiritual birthday. In other words, February the 16th, 1981, is when I was saved. So, for 35 years now, I've been a believer. April the 23rd, 2000, is when Gateway Church started, 16 years ago this weekend. And I'm going to say something that might shock you, but my greatest memories over the past 16 years and the past 30 years are not what God has done for me, but they are what God has said to me. I can go back to the things that God has spoken to me and they've changed my life, and I want your life changed, too.
One morning, I was having my quiet time, and I was giving God my to-do list. We call that prayer. But, you know what I'm saying. I was telling God the things He needed to do while I was out, you know, doing things for Him, okay? These are things I need you go get done, and I'm going through the list, and I didn't have much time. But, I'm going to pray before I go, you know, so I'm giving God this to-do list.
I didn't realize I was, but that's what I was doing, and the Lord just stopped me and said, hey, hey, hey, hey, like that. He said, I know this is important to you, and I know that I've said for you to bring your petitions to me and let your requests be made known. I understand all of that. I understand all of that. But, He said, but I know you, and I know you're about to leave. I know you. I know you have an appointment. I know you're about to leave. So, He said, so let me just tell you. I'm going to take care of your list. I'll take care of that, okay? But before you rush out of here, could we just talk for a few minutes? Would you just talk to me, and let me talk to you? Can we just be friends? That's what I'm asking. I'm asking every person, every campus, will you just be God's friend? I'll promise you, He's the best friend you'll ever have.
Isn't it amazing? God wants to speak to us. He wants to have a friendship with us. Jesus said, "No longer do I call you servants, because a servant doesn't know what his master is doing, but I call you friends". The Bible says that God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. This is one of the most amazing truths in the Bible, that God speaks to people. He doesn't speak to robots, as I said in the message. He speaks to people. He created us in His image, and He is a communicative God. I'm so happy that God wants us to speak to Him and He wants to speak to us.