Fellowship With Jesus
In the little book, My Heart Christ's Home by Robert Boyd Munger, a man invites Jesus to make His home in his heart. The man (now a new Christian) begins to show Jesus around his house, because after all, Jesus is going to live there. They go through the kitchen, the den, the bedroom, the study, the hall closet (where there is a terrible stench), and the living room. One of the most moving, captivating, and convicting scenes in this little story is when the new Christian shows Jesus the living room.
"We moved next into the living room. This was a quiet, comfortable room with a warm atmosphere. I like it. He also seemed pleased with it. He said, 'Let's come here often. It's secluded and quiet, and we can have good talks and fellowship together.'
So, morning after morning, I would go downstairs to the living room. He would take a book of the Bible from the bookcase and open it, and we would read it together. Through the Bible and His Holy Spirit, He would talk to me. In prayer I would respond. Those times were wonderful.
However, under the pressure of many responsibilities, little by little this time began to be shortened. Somehow I assumed I was just too busy to give special, regular time to be with Christ. This was not a deliberate decision, you understand; it just seemed to happen that way.
One morning, I recall rushing down the steps in a hurry to be on my way to an important appointment. As I passed the living room, the door was open. Glancing in, I saw a fire in the fireplace and Jesus sitting there. Suddenly, in dismay, it came to me. "He is my guest. I invited Him into my heart! He has come as my Savior and Friend to live with me. Yet here I am neglecting Him.
I stopped, turned and hesitantly went in. With downcast glance I said "Master, I'm sorry! Have you been here every morning?"
"Yes" He said. "The trouble is that you have been thinking of the quiet time, or Bible study and prayer, as a means for your own spiritual growth. This is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to me also. At a great cost I have redeemed you. I value your fellowship. Whether or not you want to be with me, remember I want to be with you."
The vividness of seeing Jesus on the couch before a warm, cozy fire, waiting eagerly, and faithfully, for his beloved to come and commune with Him, is a heart-gripping image. We believers rarely, if ever, think of quiet time with God as something that He desires for Himself, as well for us. He loves us.
This is how it is for Jesus. As Jesus points out to the gentleman in the story, this fellowship isn't just for the man's benefit, it is for Jesus' as well. He made us after all. He enjoys our times with Him.
It's hard in our culture today to slow down. We know that in the vast scheme of things, spending time with Jesus every day is the most important thing in our day. But our plans and the demands of daily living seem to need the most immediate attention. We put God on the back burner, taking for granted He will always be there for us, and we will certainly get to Him soon.
"How can we neglect so great a love?"
The lover's tryst
Let's say you have a lover, such as pictured in the Song of Solomon. You and your lover have a tryst every day in a special, quiet place where you share intimate conversation and exchange of feelings for one another. You talk of what is going on in each other's worlds, of plans for the future, hopes and dreams, heartaches and sorrows. And then gradually your lover starts coming late. He spends shorter periods of time with you, the conversation becomes less intimate and more perfunctory. Eventually, your lover just rushes in, sits down, and asks you to pick up his dry cleaning, mail a package for him at the post office, fix a pot roast dinner with all the trimmings, and hope all is well with you. "Thank you for spending time with me. Catch you later." Finally, he starts missing your little trysts and in the end, stops showing up all together. What is going to be your natural conclusion? "He doesn't love me or care for my company. He doesn't value the times we spend together. He finds other people, places, and things more important or interesting than me."
"God does not delight in our good intentions. He delights in our actions, sitting with Him in a quiet place, unhurried, and eager to have fellowship together."
We are His delight
God does not delight in our good intentions. He delights in our actions, sitting with Him in a quiet place, unhurried, and eager to have fellowship together. He delights in hearing our professions of love, our expressions of gratitude, our sorrows and concerns, our hope and trust in His power and faithfulness. He in turn, loves to profess His love for us, express His gratitude to us for loving Him and serving Him, for assuring us He hears our joys and concerns and will be faithful to help us. He loves to tell us when we are full of despair and discouraged, that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He loves to tell us what steps to take for the day, and express His concerns for what we are doing in life, in our spiritual walk with Him, etc.
Recently I have had the occasional thought of, "You know, someday when I get to heaven, and I come face to face with my radiant, brown-eyed Savior, I may have to reflect back on my life and see how many blessings I missed by neglecting my relationship with Him." Some people have the attitude of "I don't care about heavenly rewards, it will be just enough to get there by the skin of my teeth." In my early years as a Christian, I had that kind of attitude because I did not know God well enough to see that with God, all things are possible, and a life focused on and devoted to Him will make life on earth, and in eternity, more rich and meaningful.
A little Bible study, and we can find out about God's delight in us and what that means:
If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey (Numbers 14:8).
He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall see His face with joy... (Job 33:25-26).
He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19).
But the prayer of the upright is His delight (Proverbs 15:8b).
For the LORD delights in you...and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Is. 62:1-5).
Doesn't that last one bless you? The Bridegroom rejoicing over His bride. That tickles my soul.
We delight in Him
And let's not forget that we can delight in Him. 1John 4:19 says "We love Him because He first loved us." We would not love God had He not shown His love for us first. Consider further what John declared in Revelation 1:6 "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Glory be to God, for demonstrating His love for us by washing us from our sins through His own blood.
Psalm 37:3-4 says, Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
To dwell in the land is to abide in His love. It goes on to say "...and feed on His faithfulness." Some of the other versions of this verse talk about feeding on the safe pasture, or delighting on the rich, green grass he provides us as His sheep. God is faithful...Period! That is the safe pasture with which we may eat to our hearts content, without fear that He will leave us to our own devices.
"Seeking an emotional experience is not what should drive us into the arms of Jesus. And lack of emotional experience should not be what keeps us away. Fellowship with God is about listening to each other, and sharing with each other, because we love and value one another."
How I fellowship with Jesus
Prayer is fellowship and communion with God. Bible reading is Jesus speaking to us. Reading the Bible has always been the way I hear from God the most. I also hear Him through people, or strong impressions etc. But those can sometimes be misleading or inaccurate. So the Bible is the most effective way I hear from Him. I have a routine in the morning that goes something like this:
- Orange juice
- Put on a pot of coffee
- Coffee with Jesus
Then the rest of my day is whatever comes my way. I enjoy my time with Jesus in the morning so very much. Many times when I read His word, I don't have warm, fuzzy feelings, or elation. Sometimes it is a quiet peace and serenity. Sometimes I feel a sense of agreement. Sometimes I have epiphanies. Sometimes, I don't really have any particular emotions at all, but I know that God is talking to me, teaching me something, directing my path, correcting me, revealing something. Seeking an emotional experience is not what should drive us into the arms of Jesus. And lack of emotional experience should not be what keeps us away. Fellowship with God is about listening to each other, and sharing with each other, because we love and value one another. Focus on the facts, that God loves you. The feelings may catch up to you at a later time. But a relationship with God isn't about feeling good 24/7. It's about knowing Him.
The Beautiful Garden of Prayer
There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
And He bids you to come, meet Him there;
Just to bow and receive a new blessing
In the beautiful garden of prayer.
~ Excerpt of The Beautiful Garden of Prayer (Words - Ellen Schroll, Music - James H Fillmore 1920)
Abide and dine with Jesus
One of my favorite chapters in the Gospel of John is chapter 17 where Jesus prays for all believers.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20-21).
Notice the intimate intertwining between the Son, the Father, and we who follow Him. Can you see any reason why a coffee date with your girlfriends, or a walk with your dog, or a dental appointment are more precious than a quiet time with Christ?
Our Beloved Lord, there is nothing in the world more important than an intimate relationship with You!
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus made this promise: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
This is exactly what happened in the story we began with. Jesus knocked on the door to this gentleman's heart. The man invited Him in to reside in his heart. Jesus came in and dined with him. What does dining have to do with anything, you may ask? Back in Jesus time, dining together was an intimate communion with each other. It wasn't like today where we all park in front of the TV, or where we wolf down our food to make it to a soccer game or do our homework. They reclined and took a long time to eat and talked friend to friend, family to family member. Dining with someone you love, whether it is the whole family, a dear friend, a lover or spouse, it is a time of intimate fellowship. Everyone enjoys each other, and when we finish our meal and fellowship, we go out into the world with that lingering joy. So it is with Christ, our Bridegroom. We dine together, enjoying the splendor of being with Him and communing with Him.
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