Showing posts with label Ray Stedman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ray Stedman. Show all posts

Fellowship With The Father

Text: 1 John 1:1-4

Key Verse: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

Why is it that some Christians seem to be transformed by contact with Jesus Christ, but others are not? Some Christians, even Christians of long standing, still seem to be very much conformed to the world around them, even deformed in their views and outlooks. Yet all of them stoutly assert that they are Christians, that they too have been born again by faith in Jesus Christ. It is not strange that the world asks, What is wrong? Why is this condition true? The secret, John says, is fellowship.

What is fellowship? In the Navy we used to say it was two fellows on the same ship, and there is a sense in which that is true. They do have something in common—the same ship. That is the basis of fellowship, for essentially this word means to have all things in common. When you have something in common with another, you can have fellowship with that person. If you have nothing in common, you have no fellowship.

We all have things in common. We share human life in common. Most of us share American citizenship in common. But John is talking about that unique fellowship that is the possession only of those who share life in Jesus Christ together. This makes them one, and this oneness is the basis for the appeal of Scripture: to live together in tenderness and love toward one another. Not because we are inherently wonderful people or remarkable personalities or that we are naturally gracious, kind, loving, and tender all the time—for at times we are grouchy, scratchy, and irritating to others. But we are still to love one another. Why? Because we share life together. We have something in common. We share the life of the Lord Jesus, and therefore we have fellowship with one another.

We must understand the difference between relationship and fellowship. Relationship is becoming a member of the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ. It is established by asking Him to come into your life and heart. John makes that clear at the end of this letter. He who has the Son has life (that is relationship); he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (he does not have a relationship) 1 John 5:12.

The Christian life starts right there with this matter of relationship. Relationship is accepting Christ; fellowship is experiencing Him. You can never have fellowship until you have established relationship, but you can certainly have relationship without fellowship. Relationship puts us into the family of God, but fellowship permits the life of that family to shine through us. That is what marks the difference between Christians.

Fellowship is the key to vital Christianity. That is why this letter of Apostle John, which calls us back to fundamental issues, focuses first on that. The important question is, as a Christian, are you enjoying fellowship with the Father and with His Son?

*** Culled from Ray Stedman Ministry Daily Devotional | ***

...building the body of Christ

Is It Better To Die?

Text: Job 3; James 1:2-3; Hebrews 12:7

Key Verse: "After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth" (Job 3:1).

In this chapter we find that Job asks three very poignant questions. The first one is, Why was I ever born? Job hopes his birthday will be forgotten. He is looking back to the day of his birth, and, although he cannot change it, he is saying, May its anniversary be ignored. Let it be a day that is darkened; let no one rejoice in it. Let it be a day of cursing instead of blessing. The reason for Job's outcry is this was the day he was born, the day that produced him. You can see at this point how his life has become so miserable that he longs for death. Even all that he has enjoyed in the past seems of no value in the face of this tremendous anguish that he must endure.

Although Job comes very close to cursing God, he never does. He does curse the day of his birth, and he curses what God has allowed to happen. You can see how the pressure is increasing, and Job is beginning to break and crumble under it, as this unceasing, unexplained anguish goes on.

I do not think anything is harder for us to bear than unexplained trouble. If we could see some reason for what we have to go through, we could endure it much more easily. But when trouble seems to be pointless, it is a terrible strain on the soul. This is what Job is experiencing, so he cries out, Why was I ever born?

His second question is, Having been born, why didn't I die at birth? He says, My life has been totally meaningless. It would have been better to have died when I was born. Job views death as a time of rest, a period of solitude and quiet after the tumult and trouble of life. I think many people see death that way. These verses indicate that Job's understanding of life after death needs to be enlightened a great deal, and that is one of the reasons this suffering came into his life. At the end of the book, Job's view of death is quite different than it was at the beginning.

Job's third question is, Why can't I die now? Job's argument is, What's the purpose of my life? Of what use is a life that is so filled with misery that you can do nothing but suffer and feel anguish? My life produces only fear and trouble, so it would be better to end it now. Many people feel that way. I do not think Job is thinking of suicide – he is asking God to take him home. There is no purpose to life, he says, when it is not enjoyable. That is a very common argument, and one of the reasons we have been given this book is to help us understand that life can still have a great deal of meaning, even when it looks absolutely useless.

*** Written by Ray Stedman Ministries | ***

...building the body of Christ