Friday, August 27, 2010

Friendship with God Consists of...

Week 1 – Communion with God

When I was a freshman in high school I had two best friends.  Bryan was a sophomore, and Raimer was a junior.  The three of us did a lot of crazy things together because each of us believed that the other two would be there if things got too dangerous.  We bought a hang-glider and took turns jumping of the biggest hills we could find in western Kansas until Raimer crashed and broke his front teeth. … Mr. Shirley was the owner of Control Systems International, an engineering firm in KCK, one of the first places I worked after college.  He had a deep voice; he worked long hours and never smiled.  When he walked into a room everyone was instantly quiet, waiting for him to speak.  I was scared of him and hoped he would not ask me any questions about the project I was working on.  I was sent to Gladstone, Australia for three months to install our project.  The company rented an apartment for me to live in with another engineer…and Mr. Shirley.  I thought it would be my worst nightmare.  Within a week I found that I had made a new friend.  I still deeply respected Jim Shirley but I was no longer afraid of him. Because I had lived with him I got to know him and found that that he was a man of integrity, and humor, and that he asked questions not to instill fear, but because he wanted to learn.

Do you have a best friend?  Is your relationship with God like your relationship with your best friend? Or is it more like how you feel about your mom or dad, or does God seem more distant than any of these people?  If you could have any kind of relationship with God, what would it look like?

God wants to have an intimate friendship with you, but how do you do that? We have been taught that God is a “trinity” – there is only one God and the one God is three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
ß [see diagram]

Relationships are between persons.  You have a relationship with each person in your family. In the same way we have a relationship with God by relating individually to God the Father, Jesus Christ who is God and man, and the Holy Spirit who is God living in each believer.

Our goal over the next 3 weeks is to explore how we can have an intimate friendship with each person of our Triune God. 

We often use “communion” as another name for the Lord’s Supper, the time during worship when Christians eat the bread and juice.  But communion with God has a larger meaning.

Communion with God means:
·         experiencing and enjoying intimate friendship with our heavenly Father,
·         experiencing and enjoying intimate friendship with Jesus Christ our Savior and King,
·         experiencing and enjoying intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit, our Comforter & Counselor.
Listen to: Jason Gray - More like falling in love  
What does this lyric mean to you? “It ought to be, more like falling in love, than something to believe in. More like losing my heart, than giving my allegiance.”  What would it look like to be swept off your feet in love with God?
When spiritual communion happens both persons delight in each other (not in what the other can give them.).  This is only possible when there is a real union of love and commitment (e.g., family, close friendship, marriage.)  Listen for the delight that Jesus has in his communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Being united in love is the bridge that makes communion possible.  Communion is the traffic that crosses this bridge.  God has enjoyed perfect eternal communion – giving and receiving – between the three person God.  Joy and praise and delight are given and received between the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father who are united in perfect love.  Listen to the Father express delight in Jesus after his baptism saying, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." And God, Father, Son and Spirit together declare their delight in you in Zephaniah 3:17  “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  John Owen, a pastor and teacher wrote, “Faith, love, trust, joy, and all other spiritual graces are the way we have communion with God,”
The bible gives us another example of love and communion in the friendship between David and Jonathan.  This friendship began when Jonathan saw David’s faith and courage in battling Goliath.
1st Samuel 18:1-4  “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.  And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.  Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
David and Jonathan were “one in spirit” – they loved each other.  Their communion was in words and actions.  See how Jonathan gave David all the symbols of his position as the son of the King. When Jonathan died in battle, David wept for him and said, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”

The Father’s desire is for you to receive his love and to love him in return.  Have you ever wanted to show kindness or affection to a small child, (or maybe a cat or dog), but she was afraid and ran from you?  In the same way, our Father-God’s heart is broken if you do not believe that he loves you or if you believe that your sins or anything can cause him to love you any less.  This is the great discovery of the gospel: that God’s wrath and anger against sin is never directed at his children.  The shocking news of the gospel is that the Father’s great motivation is love for you.  He does not love you because Christ died for you – no, it was because he loved you that he sent Christ to take your sins upon himself and die for you.

How does our love for God grow?  Our love for God grows only when see more of God's love for us.
Ephesians 1:16-19  “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”

·         In this passage, what do the eyes of the heart see?
·         What does Paul mean by “the eyes of your hearts”?  How do these eyes differ from the eyes of your head?
·         Is it possible to see something with the eyes of your head but not see it with the eyes of your heart? Provide an example.  What can your heart see that your eyes cannot see?

The eyes of your heart give you a true sense of the love of God.  That is a revelation for every Christian - a new way of seeing God.  Your heart no longer sees the Father as a harsh judge who is waiting for your next sin so that it can be recorded as evidence against you.  Your heart sees the Father's love for you and you receive his love with joy and you treasure it.  You have fallen in love and your desire is to express that love in words like when was filled with joy and said “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”  And you want to love God with your actions as Jonathan loved David and gave him everything Jonathan had of value.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (Dave’s Paraphrase) 
The overflowing riches of grace and kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the breath-taking, extravagant love of God the Father, and the intimate, unbreakable, soul-satisfying friendship of the Holy Spirit, is with you all!

Do you want a deeper love and a closer communion with your heavenly Father?  John Owen, wrote: "Friendship is most maintained and kept up by visits without any urgent business.”  Make a promise to Him that you will set aside time each day this week to meet with Him.
< A separate handout suggests verses, meditations, prayers for each day of this week.>

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