Best Friend Ever – Part 3

A common story line in romantic comedies involves two people who dislike each other on their first meeting — and reinforce that opinion in subsequent interactions — but eventually realize their understanding was inaccurate or incomplete and fall in love. This can happen in friendships as well. First impressions can provide an incomplete picture. Sometimes we must be willing to put our initial reactions aside and look deeper to see the value in pursuing a friendship.

The same can be true in our friendship with God. A distorted view of Him can keep us from pursuing a relationship at all or keep us from deepening that relationship. Here are four ways our view of God can be distorted:

We may think God cannot be a real friend. We may doubt His existence or the possibility of being friends with a spirit. We trust our emotions, which cannot feel Him. We put more faith in people because they seem more present. We may test Him by praying, “If I am not alone, You need to show Yourself to me,” rather than seeking Him by asking, “Lord, I feel alone, help me believe You are with me”. But He is real and Scripture boldly states God is visible to everyone who is willing to look for Him.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

Far more life seeks out a friendship with God.

We may believe God is distant or disinterested. Our closest friends are usually people we have regular interaction with, those who share both the big moments of life and the dailyness. Because we cannot see God’s body with our eyes, hear His voice with our ears, or touch Him with our hands, it is easy for us to think of Him being far away and detached. It is tempting to test Him, asking Him to prove His presence, interest, and connection. Misinterpreted Bible verses can reinforce our belief that God is distant or disinterested. Consider this verse:

But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3, NASB)

While it is easy to interpret this as describing God as distant and disinterested, reading other parts of the psalm offers a different perspective:

Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth…
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.
The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us. (Psalm 115:1, 11-12a, NASB)

Far more life follows the admonition to handle the Word carefully (2 Timothy 2:15) to develop sharp spiritual vision and grow a friendship with God.

We may think God is like Santa Claus. Many religions place high value on works and teach that doing good earns God’s approval. That is how Santa Claus operates, not God. Santa watches to see if kids are good or bad then weighs their actions to determine if they get coal or gifts in their stockings. If you were nervous on Christmas Eve as a child, wondering how Santa would judge you, you can rest assured: you never have to wonder about where you stand with God. He knows we are incapable of being good without His help (Romans 3:12, 6:11-12). He paid the penalty for our sin and invited us into a relationship that can never be jeopardized, no matter what we do (Romans 8:38-39). Far more life knows God is not weighing our good works (like Santa Claus) and confidently pursues a friendship with Him.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:13, NIV)

We may think of God as a cosmic vending machine. This distortion depicts an impersonal God who spits out blessings in proportion to the amount of good we do. It believes logging enough prayer time and believing hard enough leads to answered prayers. It thinks going to church often enough or making a big enough donation, guarantees a life free from trouble. It embraces the idea that if we make God look good, He will give us wealth and success. But this is not how God works!

Paul – also known as Saul – was an influential Jewish man while persecuting and executing God’s people (Acts 9:1-2, 13-14). After encountering Christ and dedicating his life to sharing the truth of Christ with others, Paul was rejected, beaten, and imprisoned (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). His good works did not lead to material blessing. But Paul realized the spiritual blessing of knowing God was better:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7-8).

Far more life desires to love and serve God because of who He is, not because of how it might benefit us.

How do we overcome distortions in our view of God? By doing the work necessary to see God clearly and understand who He truly is. This happens when we:

  • Invest time learning about His character and His attitude toward us.
  • Welcome Him into every aspect of our life so we can experience Him in action.
  • Strive to become like Him in what we think, do, and say.
  • Study areas of His Word that are hard until we understand them.
  • Obey His instructions.
  • Fight through the obstacles that hinder us from making Him our best friend.

Sisters,
Was your first impression of God good or bad?
How has your understanding of Him been distorted?
Which action item will help you gain clear vision and grow your friendship with Him?
Thank God for being available as a best friend and for offering you far more life!
-Shari


Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Not To Us

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1, NIV)

God, who deserves to receive praise and honor? Not us, but You. You alone are loving and faithful. The only reason we can love is because You have shown us what love is. You alone keep Your promises. Always. You alone carry out what You have said will happen. Perfectly. We may have good intentions, but we fail. Our plans get pushed aside by circumstances beyond our control. Only You can always follow through on what You have agreed to do. People may see bits of Your image in us, but we do not deserve their praise. We glorify You, the One who deserves all praise.

Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. (Psalm 115:2, NIV)

Father in Heaven, people question what they cannot see and understand. Although we cannot see You, we know where You are. Although we do not understand Your ways, we know You are trustworthy and good. We know You are not under our control; You will do what You decide is best. And You know that better than we do! In their ignorance of You, people may try to hold us responsible for Your action or inaction. But You are not at our beck and call; You show yourself when You are ready. We eagerly anticipate You. We rest in You. We wait for You.

But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:4-8, NIV)

God, You are so different from the man-made gods throughout history. You are alive and powerful. We are thankful to be made in Your image. We are grateful to have access to Your power through The Holy Spirit. You have given us life! You have given us so much more! You deserve our trust, our allegiance, our reverence.

You who fear him, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield. The Lord remembers us and will bless us…he will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike. (Psalm 115:11-13, NIV)

We stand in awe of you, Lord, our helper and protector. We are thankful to receive Your blessing and to be remembered by You. You do not favor the great and disregard the small. Rather You care for and bless all who are Yours. Not because we deserve it, but because You are the Lord! We trust You; You have proven Yourself faithful over and over. You are good to us. We have no reason to doubt or fear because of You.

May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 115:14-15, NIV)

All good things come from You, Lord. Everything we have is a gift from you. Because of You, we are prosperous. Regardless of our circumstances, You fill us with joy, peace, love, purpose, and satisfaction. And You let our children experience it, too. When we are blessed by our Creator, we are blessed indeed! Having made us, You know exactly what we need. We cannot turn anywhere else and expect to receive what You offer. How wonderful it is to be under the care and protection of the all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God!

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. (Psalm 115:16, NIV)

You have created a home for Yourself and given us a home, too. The heavens are full of Your glory and we marvel at them. The earth is also full of Your glory and we marvel at it, too. Although we are imperfect, You have made us stewards of this amazing earth. You have instructed us to care for it, subdue it, and fill it with people made in Your image. What an honor it is to care for Your creation! We can see so much of Your character on the earth: creativity, humor, nobility, power, beauty, complexity, order, whimsy, gentleness, and more. We can discover You anew as we gain understanding of each aspect of earth. Thank you for proclaiming Yourself to us through our temporary home. Thank you that one day You will invite us to live in Your home for eternity.

It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 115:17-18, NIV)

We are among the few who will praise you, Father. We know You and recognize Your worthiness. We believe You and see Your hand clearly through all of creation. We recognize You in our souls. While we have breath and life on this earth, Father, we will praise You. We know others will not, but we will! You have given us life. You have given us a voice. We will use them to honor and praise you. We will not be silenced, now or at any time throughout eternity. Today and forever we will praise You! So be it. Amen.

Sisters,
What aspect of God’s character do others see in you? Do you give Him credit?
Are you comforted or concerned that God does as He pleases? Do you trust Him to always know and do what is best? Why or why not?
How have you experienced God’s help and protection?
Are you flourishing? Do you focus more on your spiritual or material blessings?
If you are alive in Christ, praise the Lord! He has given you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo credit: Jenjoe Marsh