Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Am A Friend of God

The crowd at the Cox Arena in San Diego on Easter Sunday was huge! I'm not certain of the total attendees, however, the arena was filled (16,000?) plus there was an overflow crowd of 4,000 in the gym!

The music was a mix of wonderful, contemporary, exhuberant songs, as well as quiet, reflecting, worshipful songs.

The message was on the topic of how even 2,000 years after Jesus walked the earth, His message is as clear and life transforming as it was on that day of His glorious resurrection.

You can see and listen to it all via MP3 at The Rock Church website.

This morning, I would like to share some of my observations while in the arena.

During most of the songs, people were standing, clapping, and singing along; sharing the joy of the Lord through their praise and worship of God. I spotted one woman, sitting in the aisle across from my family who I noticed never stood. She sat in her seat, clearly looking like she didn't want to be there. I prayed for her. Of course, I had no idea of her spiritual condition at this time, but I prayed that if she didn't personally know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of her life, that today she might repent and turn to Him.

During the praise and worship songs, there was an artist who painted three beautiful portraits with his hands. One painting was of Jesus with the crown of thorns, the second was a picture of the three crosses at Calvary, and the third was a portrait of Jesus looking up to heaven. They were beautifully done! In an arena that big, they were huge enough to be seen from most seats.

There were two gigantic video screens so that people in the upper seats could clearly see the faces of those performing and singing. The cameras would often scan the audience and we would see worshippers singing, clapping and lifting up their hands to the Lord in praise and honor.

One of the highlights (to me) during the event was the group of about 50 young children singing the song, "I Am A Friend of God." They were so adorable!! It just brought happy tears to my eyes! They were so well behaved, too. They stood tall and straight, with their eyes forward, resisting the temptation to turn around and look at themselves on the big screens. Well...the temptation was too great for one little boy. During his "close up" with a cameraman, he turned to look at himself on the big screen. What did he see? His back to the camera! The entire audience laughed and cheered for him. So cute!!!

I thought about how each of us becomes a friend of God. I thought about the fact that Jesus said, "unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

Remember the account in Matthew? The disciples were arguing over which of them would be "the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Mat 18:1 AT that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Mat 18:2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,

Mat 18:3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Mat 18:4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mat 18:5 "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Children are very trusting. They rely on adults close to them to guide them correctly. It is our God-given duty to protect them and guide them in the knowledge of God and His Word. Nothing is more important!!

The Bible tells us:

Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever.

Pro 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.

Pro 14:26 In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

Pro 15:33 The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.

Pro 22:4 By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life.

We can look at those verses (above) as positively encouraging us to have a mindset of the "fear of the LORD" ["fear" meaning reverence].

The following verses could be applied to those who may be "on the fence" in the matter; verses designed to encourage them to take that "leap of faith" towards the truth:

Pro 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD [men] depart from evil.

Pro 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but [be thou] in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Isa 2:10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.

Isa 33:6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, [and] strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD [is] his treasure.

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding.
Isaiah 2:10 mentions "entering into the rock." Jesus is often referred to as "The Rock of our salvation."

Most of the previous verses were those of encouragement. However, when reverence for the Lord is either ignored, denied or rejected, then we see admonition for such a choice:

Pro 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

Pro 1:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

Pro 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

Pro 1:32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Pro 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

What is the job of those who reverence the Lord?

Pro 8:13 The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

What can result when such admonition is rejected?

Pro 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

I ask, why would anyone deliberately choose not to accept God's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ?

Pro 14:27 The fear of the LORD [is] a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Who wouldn't want to be cleansed through Christ..."becoming clean, enduring forever" rather than come under His righteous judgment for their individual sin?

Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether.

During the call to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, I glanced over at the woman who sat during most of the service with her arms crossing her chest. I prayed that one day, she would come to the foot of the cross of Christ, repent, and be saved. She wasn't going forward on that day, though hundreds went forward, but maybe a seed had been planted within her heart. The Holy Spirit was knocking on the outside of her heart that day. Who could not have been moved by this fabulous event? But God's timing is perfect. He knows who will heed the call and when they will heed the call to come to Christ. He's a God of not only second chances, but a lifetime of chances! We have our entire lives to become a friend of God for all eternity! However, with that joy in mind we must become sober. We must realize that we never know how many days we will have on this earth. Our earthly lives are numbered. There is a 100% death rate. But our spirit lives on in eternity. We will either live with God forever or be separated from Him forever.

Which do you choose?

I'm forever grateful to Jesus Christ. It is through him that I have the privilege being a friend of God...

I Am A Friend of God
by Phillips, Craig and Dean

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How you Love me
It's Amazing

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?

How you Love me
It's Amazing

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How you Love me
It's Amazing, so amazing, it's amazing

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

God Almighty
Lord of Glory
You have called me friend

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

[these lyrics are found on Song]

YouTube Video of "I Am A Friend of God" [Note: Amateur video, but the music is good.]


Jaded said...

I'm glad you had such a wonderful experience on Easter Sunday. I am not too keen on huge services like that, however. I prefer a more intimate setting, where the people are ones I know, or have at least seen before. That's much easier in a congregation of a few hundred than in one of tens of thousands. I'm sure not all gigantic congregations are over-commercialized, but that's the general feeling I get from them.

Christinewjc said...

Our family went from one large congregation to a huge one! My husband, daughter (19) and son (22) all really like our new pastor. He used to be a guest pastor at our former church 17 years ago. He definitely appeals to the teen and twenty-something year olds, but always has such a strong, biblical message at each service so that anyone of any age enjoys it.

I was involved in small groups at several different churches over the years. I have a group of girlfriends who "church-hop" for Bible studies! (I know...pastors don't like that idea but it works for us.) It is in these settings that I find the close-knit fellowship (similar to what you mentioned) we all need as believers.

I can understand your concern about large congregations and over-commercialization. But we are used to it after 17 years at one church, now 1 year at the new one. Right now, our main concern is helping our adult children stay focused on their faith. At their ages, there are so many pagan elements pulling at them, it helps to know that they really love to go to church!