LESSON 9: GROWING THROUGH FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
GETTING TO "KNOW HIM"
You have met a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and have received Him as your Saviour. He gave you eternal life, His LIFE. It is very important that you become better acquainted with Him as a Person. You are not concerned now with His gifts or His promises, but with His own self.
If two children spend a lot of time together, you will soon notice there are many things they do alike. They will both have certain expressions of speech, the same way of wearing their clothes, similar likes and dislikes, and other things they share in common. Christians according to the purpose and desire of God, are to be conformed to the "image of His son"
II Cor. 3:18). One of the most effective ways to realize this is to set aside a time for fellowship with God.
Some husbands and wives have realize d after a hasty courtship and marriage that they did not know each other very well. Their life partners had habits and interests which they were not aware of. It takes time to get to know someone. You have to spend much time together; and YOU need to spend time with God.
OUR SPIRIT THIRSTS
"And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). You are now a partaker of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). Your spirit thirsts for fellowship with God. There is a place in your life for fellowship with other Christians, but there is also a place only God can fill. The better you know Christ, the easier it will be to tell others about HIM.
AN AMAZING FACT
"The Father seeketh such to worship him" (John 4:23) It seems almost unbelievable that God would allow His creatures to fellowship with Him. But that He desires it, and that you could in any way bring pleasure to Him, is a fact that can be explained only by God. What an example of grace He has made you!
LET US NOT FORGET
There is only one reason you are now permitted to come into His presence. Jesus bore the penalty for your sins on the cross. He has now given you His perfect righteousness and the right to come in His name. Now you can come: boldly (not irreverently but with confidence) to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
THAT YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM
You have already learned that the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every Christian. Now Jesus promises the obedient Christian that He will manifest (reveal) Himself to him, and that He and the Father will come and make their abode with him (John 14:21-23). God not only desires your fellowship, but He wants to manifest or reveal Himself to you. He wants you to KNOW HIM.
When a young couple are engaged, their times together are very precious to them. If they are separated for a while, they miss each other and long for the time when they can be reunited. If the young lady should start ignoring or avoiding the young man, or become too busy to see him, he would know something was wrong. Perhaps she does not love him or has met someone she loves more.
THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
The Bible teaches that the Church is the Bride of Christ
. You are betrothed to Him. He wants to spend time with you. But how easy it is to be "too busy!" Christ rebuked the church at Ephesus because it had left its first love
. Let us realize that Christ longs to have fellowship with us.
THE QUIET TIME
Establishing a quiet TIME is one of the most important steps you can take. It will help you grow more spiritually in the time involved than anything else you can do. It is the doorway into the ABUNDANT LIFE. You cannot afford NOT to have a QUIET TIME.
Good intentions are all right but often they do not get the job done. If you just INTEND to have a litt le time with the Lord after you finish all the rest of the work, you will probably NEVER establish a quiet TIME.
Be definite. Early in the day is usually best. It is difficult to say what time is best for everyone. Jobs, duties, and temperaments differ. Some will find early mornings before breakfast best, others after breakfast, others late at night, or at some other time during the day. Perhaps a mother's best time is after the children are off to school or when the baby is asleep. If at all possible, try to meet with God before you meet the problems of the day.
If you can arrange to eat three times a day to meet the needs of your body, you can arrange a time each day to meet the needs of your soul.
HOW MUCH TIME
Start with no less than 15 minutes. Then guard it jealously. You may increase it as the Lord leads. Make this a regular part of your daily program.
Is is too much to ask 1/96 of every 24 hours? Stop right now and decide on a time. Promise it to the Lord. Now remember that He. your Bridegroom, will be waiting to keep His date with you. Do not disappoint Him!
A DEFINITE PLACE
Lovers usually have a favorite place where they can be alone. If at all possible, find a quiet place to meet with the Lover of your soul. This may be a problem for some people. Perhaps you can prepare a closet, a storage room, a place in the basement, in the garage, or in the yard. Decide right now where you can have your quiet TIME with the Lord.
A DEFINITE AIM
Your desire is to grow more Christlike through fellowship with God. You want to "know Him (as a Person), and the POWER of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3:10). You want Him actually to live His Life through you (Gal. 2:20).
You not only want to know Him, but want Him to show you yourself as Me sees you. Your quiet TIME should be a time for self-examination, confession and cleansing.
You wish to share His thoughts and desires. You want to acknowledge your complete dependence upon Him and bring to Him your need for wisdom, guidance, and material necessities, so you may be strengthened and prepared to meet the temptations and problems of the day (Isaiah 40:29-31).
Your quiet time should have three main ingredients; the Word, meditation, and prayer. They will be intermingled or blended. Do not plan in too great detail, but on the other hand, do not just wander around and waste time. The following method is suggested to help you use the Bible in your quiet TIME.
Many people find it necessary to wear glasses. Your prayer should be that of the psalmist: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Ps. 119:18).
You need to Holy Spirit the Word of even to the a discerner that is not of him with put on your spiritual "specs" to see yourself as God sees you, so the can use the Bible to search your heart and point out your sins. "For God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is of the THOUGHTS AND INTENTS of the heart. Neither is there any creature MANIFEST in his sight: but ALL THINGS are naked and opened unto the eyes whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:12,13).
The Bible is also described as a glass (mirror) in which you can see yourself (James 1:23,24). You want to see yourself as God sees you, and you want the Holy Spirit to use the Word to reveal Christ to you. From Genesis to Revelation, you have Christ pictured in types, symbols, and promises.
You are not using the Bible now to gain information but as a means through which God can speak to you. He may use a verse to bring something to your attention entirely different than what the verse itself says, as a probe for your memory or conscience perhaps. Do not hurry. Take a chapter or a portion of a chapter and go over it slowly, asking yourself these questions:
WHAT: S in is there for me to forsake?
P romise is there for me to claim?
E xampIe is there for me to follow?
C ommand for me to obey?
S tumbling block or error to avoid?
What new thought do I have about God? Included with this lesson is a sample "specs" on Colossians 3 to help you understand how to use them. Many more thoughts cou ld be gained from this chapter, but only a few have been entered so you may note the genera l plan (You can use it for a pattern to make additional forms from notebook paper.) Paul's Epistles and the Proverbs are especfally good to use. Do Colossians 3 first, and then go through other short books of the New Testament.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING "SPECS"
Make as short a note as possible; remember no one else need understand it. Do not try to answer the questions in order, but keep them all in mind. In some portions you may not find any EXAMPLE to follow but there may be many PROMISES to claim, or the other way around.
When the Holy Spirit points out some sin, stop and confess it to God at once. Call it the same thing He does -- gossiping, covetousness, unforgiveness, or lying. Then claim the forgiveness and cleansing of I John 1:9.
When you come to a PROMISE, stop and claim it by faith and thank Him for it. When you come to a COMMAND, stop and surrender to His will.
Look for the things that reveal the personality of Christ. This passage, Col. 3:13, speaks of the forgiveness of Christ.
YOUR PERSONAL APPLICATION
Now that the Holy Spirit has revealed some new things concerning God's will for your life, what are you going to do about it? God has thrown some light on your pathway. OBEDIENCE means HAPPINESS (John 13:17). Disobedience or ignoring it is SIN (James 4:17). Be definite.
Suppose the Holy Spirit through Col. 3:13 reveals that you have been unforgiving toward a neighbor; confess this sin to God. Tell your neighbor as soon as possible that you have forgiven him and ask forgiveness for your own unforgiving spirit; verse 20, disobedient or inconsiderate to parents - tell them or write your appreciation of them; verse 9, lying - pray that God will help you control your tongue this week, etc. Write it down, be definite. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (I Tim. 4:15). MEDITATIONS ARE SPIRITUAL DIGESTION. Put these things to work in your own life; make them a part of you.
A STRONG DEVOTIONAL LIFE
There is nothing more important to you as a Christian than to build a strong devotional life. It is the heartbeat of your spiritual life. Hiding God's Word in your heart and spending time alone with Him will prepare you for victory when you meet temptation, suffering, sorrow, and the problems that come your way. This is important.
As you become more familiar with your Bible, one verse may remind you of another, or add a little information, or explain another one to you. You may want to write the reference in the margin of your Bible so you will not forget it. This is good practice in your regular Bible study. Take your Bible its own best commentary but do not become too preoccupied with this during your quiet TIME.
Take time to honor and praise God. Meditate upon His goodness, His love, and His mercy, and thank Him for the grace He has bestowed upon you. The Bible says that he who offers praise glorifies God. Spend time reading and meditating in the Psalms. These are the heart cries of God's people.
PETITIONS AND INTERCESSIONS
After your heart has been cleansed by the Word, as Eph. 5:26 reveals, bring your requests to God for yourself and others. Guidance, strength, wisdom, clothes, food, all your NEEDS have been promised to you. As you do your "specs." start a list of things God has impressed on your heart to pray for. You already have a list of unsaved loved ones and friends for whom you are praying (Lesson 4). The next lesson will have some suggestions for the use of prayer list s for more effective and definite praying.
A father and his son are out walking and the father might say to the little boy, "Would you like an ice-cream cone?" Or, "Shall we buy some flowers to take home to Mother?"
b The son says, "Yes, I would like an ice-cream cone." Or, "Yes, let's get Mother some flowers." The little boy had not been thinking of these things. The suggestion comes entirely from the father. The father could have just bought these things. He had plenty of money, and there was a place to buy them, but that was not the way he wanted to do it.
GOD WORKS THROUGH PRAYER, AND "PRAYER CHANGES THINGS"
There is a level of fellowship and communion with God where prayer becomes GUARANTEED PRAYER. It is not for the careless, indifferent Christian who never learns to fellowship and spend time with God.
True prayer starts in Heaven in the mind and heart of God. Through the Holy Spirit, and usually the Word, God suggests His desire for you. You ask for it; the Holy Spirit takes up our request and presents it in the name of the Son; and God answers. This is what is meant by prayer in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20). That is why some men have such power in prayer. Their prayers are Spirit-suggested. For instance, Elijah prayed that it would not rain. For three and a half years it did not rain until he prayed for rain. It was the thing God wished to do. He had found a co-worker on earth. True prayer is more than just "getting" God to do something. It is "letting" Him do things for you and others through your Spirit-led prayers.
Many Christians have testified that without any previous thought they have been impressed to pray for some friend, a member of the family, or a missionary. Later they have learned that God super-naturally worked in their beha lf. The object of their prayers was delivered from temptation, distress, danger, persecution, or the power of Satan, or received Christ as Saviour. God works through prayer. That is His chosen way of doing things. He had found a co-worker who was living in close fellowship with Him, someone that could be led by the Holy Spirit in prayer. Would you like to be a co-worker with God?
GROWING THROUGH FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
An airplane is flying toward a big city and encounters a storm. The pilot is concerned for the safety of his pass- engers, so he radios ahead for information and instructions. The airport radios back the information and the flight is continued. The pilot can adjust hfs radio to receive the programs that are being broadcast, and all kinds of unknown and unsought information will come in. It will be limited only by the amount of time he spends at his radio set.
Some Christians never get beyond the level of petitions, or just asking. God has something better for you. There is a fellowship and communion with God where He will reveal His thoughts, desires, and plans. Just as God, after fellowshipping with Abraham, said; "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do" (Gen. 18:17)? adjust your life and spend time with God that you might be used to His honor and glory.
MORE QUIET TIME SUGGESTIONS
1. Praying out loud will often keep your thoughts from wandering. It will help you to pray before others, so you will not be afraid of the sound of your own voice.
2. Do not get into a rut; vary your routine if you find it hard to concentrate.
3. Expect the presence of God; He has promised to be there (John 14:6; Matthew 28:20).
4. If you miss a day, do not let that ruin your day. Commune with Him at work or in school. Claim His power to use the day to glorify Him. If it is your fault, confess it to Him.
5. Make sure your attitude is right.
6. Do not use this time to prepare your Sunday School lesson or Bible talk for your study group or circle meeting.
"Open thou mine eyes" (Psalm 119:18).
Passage: Colosians 3
Sins to forsake
Promises to claim
Examples to follow
Commands to obey
Stumbling blocks or errors to avoid
NEW THOUGHTS ABOUT GOD:
PERSONAL APPLICATION OF THE WORD TO MY LIFE:
As you read and meditate upon the Word, the Holy Spirit will use it to show you:
Yourself as God sees you (Hebrews 4:12)
Christ (Phil. 3:10; Luke 24:27)
Meditate (Timothy 4:15)
What to pray for (Jude 20)
Assignment: Extra Blessings:
Heb. 4:12II Cor. 3:18
Phil 3:10Jude 20
I Tim. 4:15Luke 24:27
1. Part of your prayer time should be secret between you and God (Matthew 6:6). True False
2. What place is mentioned in Matthew 26:36 where Jesus went to pray?
3. How many periods of time did Daniel set aside daily to commune with God
4. John 4:23 teaches that God seeks true worshippers. True False
5. In Isaiah 40:29-31, God promises those who wait upon Him that He will renew their
6. God promised Joshua that His way would be prosperous and he would have good success if he would meditate upon and keep His word
(Josh. 1:8). True False
7. In John 14:21, Jesus promises to manifest (reveal) Himself to the obedient Christian. In verse 22, a disciple asks how He will do this. In verse 26 and in John 16:13,14, He says it is by the
who will teach you and glorify Christ.
8. You can sometimes fool men by your deeds, but the Holy Spirit can use the Word of God to show you the real _______________________ and ________________________ of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).
9. How should you regard the thoughts and truths the Holy Spirit reveals (Ps. 139:17)?
10. The Bible says:
Eph. 6:18(a) commit thy way unto the Lord
Prov. 15:8,29(b) true prayer should be guided by the Holy Spirit
Jer. 29:13(c) should seek the Lord with your whole heart
Isa. 59:1.2(d) the prayers of the upright are a delight to the Lord
Ps. 37:4,5(e) sin hinders prayer
11. In Acts 13:1-4, the Holy Spirit impressed His message on a praying church and ____________________ and Saul were sent on their first missionary journey.
12. I Tim. 4:15 teaches that meditation is a waste of time. True False
13. What four things must you decide on when you start a quiet time:
14. Have you done a "specs" as recommended in the Iesson?
After you have completed a few of them, you can do them mentally and only write out the personal applications to your life.
15. How many days have you had a quiet time during the past week?
16. How many chapters in the Bible have you read?
17. Have you memorized:
Heb. 4:12Yes No
Phil. 3:10Yes No
I Tim. 4:15Yes No
18. Extra blessings:
II Cor. 3:18Yes No
Jude 20Yes No
Luke 24:27Yes No
Sins to forsake
Promises to claim
Examples to follow
Commands to obey
Stumbling blocks or errors to avoid
NEW THOUGHTS ABOUT GOD:
PERSONAL APPLICATION OF THE WORD TO MY LIFE: