|Training for Reigning - 07 - In fellowship with God|
IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
"Do you THINK THESE things he talks and writes about really work for him?"
"Yes, I think so; in fact I know they do."
"They don’t work for me. Do they work for you?" "No, they don’t."
"I wonder why. Is it because we are all different?"
"It may be; I don’t know."
"Neither do I; but I wish I did."
Possibly some of our readers have had thoughts similar to those quoted above? If so, perhaps I should try to explain the reason. In reality it can be done quite simply. The answer to the problem is this: these things "work for us" only in the measure we are in fellowship with God. However, since lots of Christians, both old and young, do not know what that expression means, let us consider it awhile.
Most Christians think of fellowship with God (that is, on the rare occasions when it comes into their thoughts) as being that condition of soul existing when we have confessed our sins and so have "a clear sky overhead," are reading our Bibles and praying regularly, are going to meetings and are seeking to witness for Christ whenever we have opportunity, etc. . . . All of which truly can be done in fellowship with Himself, but also can be carried on in a going-through-the-motions condition of soul, alas!
Others would add, having communion with the Lord, the only trouble with the answer being that they have a very hazy idea of what communion really is. On the creature level most of us understand matters fairly well. But when it comes to those pertaining to the spiritual level we seem to carry on in something of a fog much of the time - even as I have done.
Again, not a few of the Lord’s dear people have concluded that these things on the spiritual level are "high ground." They are for preachers or people who haven’t anything else much to do. They consider that they just aren’t practical for really busy people. So you see, beloved, attitudes like these do not leave us much "ground" to work on. Even speaking about them by a preacher handicaps the subject badly under such circumstances. However, it is with thankfulness that I can protest that the groundwork for any little I may have learned was laid while I was working with my hands. Anyway, preaching is only something I do when under direction to do so, only one of my chores. So for the purposes of this chapter let’s rule out this consideration right away. After all, the Lord Jesus spent most of His sojourn among men working as a carpenter (Mark 6: 3); and if a more common-man example be desired, then let me ask you to read 1 Cor. 4: 9-13. For if the Apostles could maintain fellowship with God under those most difficult living conditions, then surely there isn’t much excuse for the rest of us!
But first of all we need to understand just what "fellowship" means. In Psalm 94: 20 the Hebrew word means "be joined," while the Greek word used in the new Testament passages (1 Corinthians 1: 9; Philippians 2: 1; 3: 10; 1 John 1:3, 6) means "to have, hold, or share in common." (Note Acts 2:44). So to have fellowship with God just means to have, or hold, or share His presence, the counsels of His Word and His purposes.
Offhand, this may seem simple enough. And so it would be if the major part of the lives of most of us were not ordered by Self- direction - that is, my acceptance of the daily rule of our own Self-counsels and Self-desires, which are those of the Flesh. For this reason, then, one of the things we must adopt right at the start is the NOT SELF, BUT CHRIST attitude of the Apostle Paul (Galatians 2: 20) . . . something which is very much easier once we learn to practice HUMBLING OURSELVES BEFORE GOD.
When I mention humbling ourselves before Him I do not mean trying to be humble in our lives. I tried for many years to get to be humble, but am no more humble now than before I began. My Self is proud - incurably proud. So I’ve quit trying to reform it. Neither is it wise to ask the Lord to humble us; because I asked Him to do so one time - and He did it! What His Word counsels us to do is to pray for grace (Hebews 4: 16) to humble ourselves. And this will be absolutely necessary if we hope to go in for having fellowship with Himself. Isaiah 57: 15 makes this clear. There we read: "For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity, Whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit . . ." And those words, beloved, describe what I understand by the expression, "In fellowship with God."
Just try to think as well as you can of the inconceivable greatness, the highness, of the Lofty One Who inhabits Eternity
Whose very name is Holy . . .. of the awesome majesty of Him Whose presence, counsels, and purposes, we (with our miserable, microscopic capacities!) are permitted to share - provided we can get ourselves down, down, down to our rightful position before such an august Being, bringing into His presence only a contrite and humble spirit.
When Daniel beheld the majestic Being of Daniel 10: 5-8, his comeliness was turned in him into corruption and he retained no strength. So, too, when John saw the glorified Lord, he "fell at His feet as dead" (Revelation 1: 17). Similarly the Self-humbling experiences of Abraham (Genesis 18: 27), of Job (42: 6), of Isaiah (6: 5) surely rebuke the easy familiarity in the presence of Deity so common with us. After all, is it not only because we are "Accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1: 6) that we dare to lift up our hearts and voices before the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity? Surely the exhortations of such verses as Hebrews 12: 28 and Psalm 89: 7 require a vastly deeper attitude of "reverence and godly fear" than most of us know anything about. Note Hebrews 12: 29.
It must be confessed that I am much ashamed when I realize how long it has taken me to understand this. But now I know that, except in emergencies, I need not expect to rush "into His presence," begin to pray and then find myself immediately in His realized presence. Genuine confession of sins, examination of my attitudes, desires and walk, come first, of course. But after "my sky" has been cleared there still must be the getting down, down, down in spirit before this High and Lofty One if the actual sharing with Him (fellowship) is to be possible.
Think all this over, won’t you? For learning to humble oneself before Almighty God, our Father, can provide the missing link between many Christians and "making things work for them" in the way which He desires. Only when we so exercise ourselves does that hidden path of fellowship with Himself (Job 28: 7-8) begin to open out, and to lead us into hitherto unknown fields in our getting to know something more of our limitless God.
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