God’s Word as a means to fellowship

Fellowship

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

How can we have fellowship with God?  We know that we’re called to fellowship and that it’s spiritual in nature, but how do we arrive at that kind of relationship with God?  There are two major means by which we can really fellowship with Him.  One is His way of speaking to us and the the other is our way of speaking to Him.

God chose to reveal Himself to us through Jesus, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).  His Word became flesh in the person of Christ (John 1:14) and since we don’t live in the time when Jesus walked the earth, what we have is the written Word of God.  This is the inspired, God-breathed, revelation of the Lord to mankind.  He speaks to us by means of the Scriptures.  If we want to hear from Him, we don’t need to look for signs or perform rituals.  We need to read.

Contained within the 66 books of the Bible are God’s answers to life’s questions, His outpouring of love, His story of redemption, His offer of forgiveness, His character and His will.  Searching with the intent of knowing God more intimately will lead to deeper fellowship with Him as we hear Him.

Jesus, the life

Who is Jesus?

 

John 11:25-26  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

 

Are you dead?  We all die at some point, but some of us die before others, some of us give up our lives and die while we still live.  Is this confusing?  We’re all destined to die in our earthly bodies, bound for eternity either in heaven with God or hell apart from Him.  But those who live in Christ have already died to themselves (in spirit) and taken on Christ’s life.  That’s why we say we “live in Him”.  It’s why Paul wrote of us dying to sin, dying to our old nature, etc.  We’ve taken on a new life in Christ, we’re “hidden in Him” (Colossians 3:3).  Eternal life, for those who are in Christ, has already begun while still living on the earth.

 

Jesus said that He is the only way to God (John 14:6).  He also stated that He came to give life (John 10:10).  But the core truth behind this is that He is life and that’s how He’s able to offer it to us.  Sin equals death, Jesus equals life.  We choose one or the other, there are no other choices.  Sin doesn’t mean doing bad things, it means having an unrighteous nature.  But following Christ brings onto us His nature and therefore we die to the sinful one.

 

He is the resurrection (the way to heaven), and the source of eternal life.  If we’re in Him, we’ll never die (in the sense that those who spend eternity in hell “die” apart from Him). It all rests in Him, everything here and now and everything that comes after this.  It begins with Him (John 1:1) and it ends with Him (Revelation 22:12-13).

Look for this and other devotions about Jesus in the upcoming Exagorazo Press book entitled “Devotions for Disciples:  Who is Jesus?” due out in October 2011.

Fellowship with others

Fellowship

1 John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

What is fellowship? We often use this word in our Christian culture to speak of potluck dinners or home get-togethers, but what sets these things apart from any other gathering? What makes them Christian fellowship rather than just hanging out? The answer lies in one word: spiritual.

Whereas many people have social time and events where they interact with others, Christians are a part of fellowship because fellowship is spiritual. We connect with one another on a different level than those who just gather to have fun. We have a purpose behind our relationships and interactions with people that equate to fellowship.

In 1 John we read that those who had witnessed the earthly ministry of Christ were sharing their testimonies with others and therefore entering into fellowship with them. It’s through a relationship with Christ that this fellowship is able to happen. He is the center of it all, the core of our fellowship with God and with other people. It all hinges on Him and what He’s done. When we share Christ with others, we have fellowship, not just social time.

Jesus, the truth

Who is Jesus?

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What is truth?  The question has been asked through the ages.  Even Pontius Pilate, with the Son of God standing before Him, posed the question.  So often we’re like Pilate, asking what truth is when it’s standing right in front of us.  Truth doesn’t exist outside of God.  Jesus is truth in the form of a man.

No one has ever spoken nothing but the complete truth their entire life except for Christ.  No matter how hard we may try, we all speak untruth from time to time, even when it’s not intentionally.  But not one word that ever came from the mouth of Jesus was false.  If He said it, we can believe it.

So what did He say?  He said He was God (John 10:30).  He said He would rise from the dead (Matthew 20:19).  He said He had all power and authority (Matthew 28:18).  Now we either believe Him in all of it or we believe none of it.  There is no in-between.  If we say He was a good teacher but discredit Him as the Son of God, we have to look past the fact that He claimed Himself to be God.  If He claimed to be God but wasn’t, that isn’t a good teacher…that’s a liar.

The source of truth is God.  His goodness testifies to truth and there is only truth in Him.  He can’t lie (Numbers 23:19).  If He says it, it’s worth believing.

 Look for this and other devotions about Jesus in the upcoming Exagorazo Press book entitled “Devotions for Disciples:  Who is Jesus?” due out in October 2011.

Fellowship with God

Fellowship

1 Corinthians 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We were called into fellowship with God.  That is, God has initiated a relationship with us that is much deeper than we may expect.  He’s not interested in a surface-level, once-a-week interaction with us.  He wants more of us.  He wants all of us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the religion of it all and forget that God wants to connect with us on a spiritual level.  He’s far less interested in whether or not we perform religious rituals than He is in whether or not our hearts are connected with His.  He wants an intimacy with us that extends so far beyond the rituals.

How deep are you willing to go?  How much of an effort are you willing to make?  He initiated the fellowship, now we have to make a move to complete the transaction.  We have to reach our hand out to His outstretched hand and grab on.  But intimacy requires trust and honesty.  God already knows what’s on our hearts, but true fellowship requires that we declare it to Him in total submission.  It requires absolute faith, and for His part God is always faithful.

Jesus, the way

Who is Jesus?

 

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Today we like to think we’re very enlightened, so much more educated than the ancients.  We think we’re bright enough to pick and choose aspects of different religions, tailoring our belief system, and we think this is some new thought.  Actually, the Pagans of centuries ago saw no problem with pledging allegiance to multiple deities from different backgrounds until they found what suited them.

Jesus was clear though when He spoke of the way to God.  Only He can serve as that bridge.  Only through belief on Him can we see heaven.  He is the only way.  We can try out custom-made religions, but in the end they’re empty, devoid of any true meaning.  Christ has the answer.

By God’s grace we’re saved; we can’t do anything to earn our way to Him.  But He extended this grace in the offering of His Son on our behalf for the forgiveness of sins.  This action by God just shows how He expects us to be reconciled to Him.  Only through Jesus.  And only means only.

 Look for this and other devotions about Jesus in the upcoming Exagorazo Press book entitled “Devotions for Disciples:  Who is Jesus?” due out in October 2011.

Reaching the poor

Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Everyday we see people in need, many times passing them by without a second thought. We go along with our busy lives, never stopping to lend a hand to someone that has been facing tough times. We may justify it, saying “They’ve done something to get themselves in that position”. We may seek to make ourselves feel better by pointing out that there is always something and someone and we can’t help them all.

It may very well be that the person in need is reaping some of the consequences of their own actions, but one finds very little justification in the Bible for not helping someone because it’s their own fault that they are where they’re at in life. We’re called to love, not to love only those who have not made mistakes that led to poverty or need.

It also may be true that there will always be someone in need and we can’t help all of them with the limited resources we’ve been given in our own lives. But again, one could search all through the Bible and find very little instruction to give only if you can give to everyone. In fact, the scriptures point out that there will always be poor people in the land. Yet that is the very basis for the command (“Therefore I command you…”) to give and to help.

Love the poor. Help the needy. You never know, it just may be Jesus that you’ve assisted.

Further reading: Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus, the light of the world

John 8:12  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“Let there be light.”  These words were spoken and so it all began.  Time and all that exists came to be only after this one sentence brought about the beginning.  And then, in the course of human history, the true Light came into the world. The one who spoke light into being was the true Light, and in Him all can be enlightened (John 1:9).

Just as we stumble around in the darkness for lack of light, we stumble around in our sin, lost in it, without the Light of the World.  If we walk with Jesus, we will never walk in darkness because He will guide us.  He’ll be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

Also, if we walk with Jesus we’ll ourselves be light to the world (Matthew 5:14).  In us, the world will see Him.  They’ll find hope in Him, they’ll see His love.  Our lives will bear witness to the One who sent us, just as His life bore witness to the One who sent Him (John 8:18).

So let His light shine through you.  Others may see it and turn to Him. (Matthew 5:16)

Dealing with anger

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

God has made it clear that He doesn’t want us to act in anger. Instead, He wants us to act in righteousness, just as He is righteous. He wants us to follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ. No one person who has ever lied has so exemplified temperament. Insulted, spat upon. mocked – and that was all before He was tried and hung on a cross – and yet this Man did not act out in anger. How can this be? How was Jesus able to be angry and not sin? And what’s more; how can we follow this example?

Jesus had inside knowledge. He was in on the Father’s ways. You see, Jesus understood that all acting out of anger accomplishes is more anger. He knew that there was no situation so big that God would not handle it. He also understood the importance of relationships.

It’s just not worth it to act out of anger. It’s not worth hurt relationships and it’s not worth showing a bad example of a Christ follower to those who may have their eyes on us. If we trust God, we can let Him be the administrator of justice. We can believe that He will take care of the situation that caused us anger in the first place.