Created to be God’s Friend by Henry T. Blackaby
How God Shapes Those He Loves
Thomas Nelson Publishers 1999
It is not very often that I read a book and want to read it immediately again. Created to be God’s Friend by Henry Blackaby is such a book. It is inspiring, penetrating, interactive, and spiritual growth producing. I have had the opportunity of hearing Henry Blackaby in person a couple times and I have been impressed by the way the Holy Spirit spoke through him. The book influences through the same Spirit. Reading this book is like going to a mini revival meeting in each chapter.
The exegesis depends on Dr. Blackaby’s simple and straightforward way of reading the Word of God. As he says, “The Scriptures give us the clearest and safest guidance in our walk with God. But you must spend careful, thoughtful time in God’s word, with the predetermined commitment to respond positively in obedience to his workings in you!” (p xii). To this end each chapter ends with questions for study and response. These questions are not the academic type but the kind that help you examine your life, identify areas of potential spiritual growth, and make practical choices that actually help you grow.
Chapter 1 helps us to understand that God’s purpose in our lives is the unfolding of a greater purpose that God has had in mind for eternity. “Therefore from the very beginning one must be convinced that what God unfolds in time began in eternity. This truth can give every life meaning and strong purpose and creates in a person a sense of (1) purpose, (2) urgency, (3) motivation, and (4) eternal meaning. (p. 7).
Chapter 2 helps us to remember that God has reached out to us first. “All throughout the Bible this is one of the certain ways of God. He takes the initiative! And what he initiates, he completes (Philippians 1:6)! (P. 22).
The book is an exposition of the life of Abraham, applying the truths derived from God’s relationship to Abraham to our lives. One of my favorite chapters was chapter 5, “A Renewal and Establishing of God’s Call.” “Daily obedience to God, regardless of what God is asking or promising, is a key to an intimate relationship with God. Since he is God, the only response that is worthy of him is, “Yes, Lord!” To fail to respond in obedience is to fail to experience God’s eternal best for our lives. On the other hand, to appropriate every promise God has made (2 Corinthians 1:20) is to know by experience the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19 – 20).” (p. 60). Dr. Blackaby reminds us that just as God promised Abraham that he would be a blessing to everyone, so every child of God “who chooses to walk faithfully and obediently with God” will also be a blessing to others. “Paul knew this, and assured the Corinthian believers that we are “the aroma of life” to others. (p. 68).
Chapter 6 talks about how we are shaped by God just as Abraham was in the choices that he and his nephew Lot made. “For faith to grow and be strengthened, it must pass through the moments of choices. And choices always carry with them the matter of “obedience” to God…. Abram … waited on God’s choice of land, and Lot …chose for himself with little or no reference to God. … History would reveal the consequences of such a choice. The character of Lot would be weakened, but the character of Abraham strengthened. Choices will do that. We are free to make the choice, but not free from the consequences of the choice.” (P. 91).
Chapter 9 continues exploration of Abraham’s experience with God’s promise of a child. The promise seemed delayed in its fulfillment. Dr. Blackaby encourages us that such seeming inaction on God’s part is an opportunity for faith. “God will do it in his way and his time. We want to help God! He does not need our help; we need his help! The “silences” of God do not mean he is late, or inactive, or not working. It means that this is where faith works! We are to continue faithfully doing the last things that we heard from God, with confident expectation that in God’s “fullness of time” he will speak and will not delay. (P. 117).
Chapter 12 is a climactic chapter that deals with the time when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Of course, God provided a ram for the sacrifice as Abraham believed he would. Dr. Blackaby writes, “The provision for our obedience is always provided for us by God. Ours is to obey; it is for God to provide! What we in our weakness and limitations cannot provide, God in his infinite grace does provide.” (P. 169)…. “The key to an effective and powerful walk with God is always obedience.” (P. 175).
I highly recommend this book to all Christians as an aid to faith, as a catalyst to Christian growth and as a prod to spiritual renewal.