Thursday, October 25, 2012

God's Friend

James Tissot (1836-1902) : Abraham Bowing Before God and the Angels
  Abraham was God’s friend. One day the Lord came and visited him in person.
“The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. …Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.” Genesis 18:1-2

I wonder if God decided to disguise Himself as a human and came to visit one of us as He did Abraham that day along with two of His angels, would we recognize Him as Abraham did?
I believe one way we can always recognize God is to daily abide in Him as Jesus commands us.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me… for without Me you can do nothing. “ John 15:4-5
 We abide in Christ by setting aside time for Him each day for worship and studying and meditating on His word, and praying for others.

Abraham said to God,  “My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant, I beg of you.
 Let a little water be brought, and you may wash your feet and recline and rest yourselves under the tree.
And I will bring a morsel of bread to refresh and sustain your hearts before you go on further—for that is why you have come to your servant.” Genesis 18:3-5 (AMP)
I love that verse…"for that is why you have come to your servant.” (verse 5)

Abraham De Gelder 1685: Abraham prepares God a Feast
Abraham figured God had come to visit him to be refreshed, encouraged, and comforted (according to one version) before going on in His journey.
He actually believed that though he was just a human, he could somehow bring comfort and encouragement to His Creator through providing a meal and hospitality for him! I love this man’s faith!

 Abraham was worshiping God in the natural world but we worship God in the Spirit. What if our worship and our praises somehow brought comfort and encouragement to our holy God who loves us with measureless love and longs to fellowship with us?
Abraham and God were true Friends! God is no respecter of persons. Jesus says we can be His Friends too!
Jesus says to His disciples in John’s Gospel, “You are My friends if you do what I command. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13-14 
Jesus gave His precious life for every one of us.  He wants very much to be our holy Friend even as Abraham was God’s friend. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20:
 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”  (Rev. 3:20 NLT)
William Holman Hunt (1853)

If God came to visit me clothed in flesh, would I be as hospitable as Abraham? Would God be blessed, comforted and encouraged by the banquet I prepared for Him? Or would I say, not now God, I am too busy with my projects, with work that must be done! Don’t you see Lord, I have a project deadline and a boss that has no mercy? My kids come first, they have activities you see, there is this meeting I must attend or that thing I must do…the list of excuses is endless and they all seem so reasonable and so important and of course God won’t mind, after all, He is God, He is love, and there is ALWAYS tomorrow, or after the meeting or the project, or the activity, or whatever I am doing that is so much more important than meeting with the Lord.

But then Abraham was not too busy for God. He went out of his way to make God and the angels a feast! He dropped everything on his agenda. In fact, he even seemed to have been waiting for God from the very first verse of the chapter as he sat in the doorway of his tent in the heat of the day. 

Rembrandt: Abraham, God & the Angels
“So Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah and said, 'Quickly get ready three measures of fine meal, knead it, and bake cakes.'
And Abraham ran to the herd and brought a calf tender and good and gave it to the young man [to butcher]; then he [Abraham] hastened to prepare it.
 And he took curds and milk and the calf which he had made ready, and set it before [the men]; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.” Genesis 18:6-8 (AMP)

If we are too busy to wait on God, to have a special time set aside for regular worship and bible study, then we are too busy. We will not get to know Him or grow closer in our relationship with Him.
The truth is, God already has come down and clothed Himself with flesh and blood in the person of every single child of God through His Holy Spirit!
We have the incredible privilege of having the Spirit of the living God, our holy Creator abiding daily in our hearts! 

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.” Ephesians 4:30 MSG

There is a haunting painting by James Tissot that draws my soul to worship whenever I see it. It portrays an image of Jesus Christ peering from behind a garden lattice, looking longingly at the viewer. He seems to be hoping that we will take the time to fellowship with Him. For He suffered death and hell to redeem us so that me might become His very own garden. He longs to meet us in the secret place of our hearts and draw us ever closer to Himself. It is difficult to see His face, so obscured by the lattice work of the window. Yet if we will focus our attention on Him instead of the many lines and shapes that want to obscure Him, we will see Him looking back at us.
And that is so like our lives; if we will but take the time to sit still and look for Him amidst the clutter of all our activities, we will see Him peering back at us. "Come here," He says. "Come sit a while with Me."
James Tissot: Jesus Peering Through a Lattice Window
 It should be the greatest desire of every child of God to want to bless our God when He comes knocking at our door to visit us, to “share a meal” with us!
“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
  with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
  may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
  and heals all my diseases. 
He redeems me from death
 and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.  My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” 
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

To bless means to thank, to praise, to call on God, to adore Him, to acknowledge Him.
Abraham was God’s friend. He knew God and God knew him. 
Jesus said, "And this is eternal life: that they might know You, the only true God, and the One whom You sent--Jesus the Messiah." John 17:3 (ISV)

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to willingly make time for You every day even as Abraham did. I want to know You, and Your Son Jesus Christ; to love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to be Your friend.  I want to bless Your soul and encourage Your heart with the banquet I prepare for You, just as Abraham did when you stop by for a visit to my tent! In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

"God's Friend" Copyright 2012 Suzanne Davis Harden All Rights Reserved. Unto The Least of These 

*James Tissot (1836 – 1902) Commented on the Inspiration behind his painting "Jesus Looking Through a Garden Lattice" He said it was inspired by a verse from the Song of Solomon 2:9: "My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice."
"Jesus Looking Through a Garden Lattice"  (gouache (14 × 18 cm) — James Tissot: 1886 - 1894  Brooklyn Museum, New York City

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