Last week I shared how the apostle John opened his first letter saying we could have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, and knowing the difference is a key to receiving a personal word and revelation.
The word ‘fellowship’ is used 4 times in the 1st chapter of I John alone. It is the key word to the chapter and the whole letter. The Greek word ‘koininia’ is ‘fellowship’, and comes from the root ‘common’, as in ‘to have something in common’. Having something in common is therefore the basis for fellowship.
That is what fellowship with the Father and Son is: We have something in common so they want to spend time with us, and we with them…amazing!
Don’t embarrass us!
I took 3 years of German in high school, and spent 2 weeks there the summer I turned 16. I came within 3 weeks of being born in a town near Stuttgart, and grew up with German food and hearing my parents speak German to each other when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were talking about. And if my mom stubbed her toe or smashed a finger, the exclamation that followed was in German.
Time passes, Barb and I marry, we have 3 boys – but I still love German and Germany, especially Bavaria and Swabia. One day we were at a mall, more for walking around than anything, as back then Chris could walk with leg braces and a walker, and he loved to run! Trying to get him to slow down and walk with us was a challenge, but all 3 boys could expend excess energy while Barb and I kept in our minds the quite evening we were going to have while they went to bed early, exhausted from the excursion.
It was on one such outing we talked with a clerk briefly, but I noted an accent and asked, “Bist du Deutsch?’ (Are you German?). She answered ‘Ja’ (Yes) and I immediately began asking in German where she was from and telling her I had been to Germany.
Just then, out of the corner of my eye and just within hearing range, I saw Brian, our youngest, tug on Barb’s pant leg and say in a woeful tone, ‘Oh no Mom, dad’s talking German again! Can we go?’ and Jason (being older so a bit more bold) sounding like a frustrated dog owner trying to get the dog to come: ‘Dad! This is embarrassing! Dad, come on!’
I still do that sort of thing to this day, though my German is now just a bit more than enough to get me to a restaurant, bathroom, and hotel (but really, what more do I need than that? lol)
Why did I do that? Because I had something in common with the clerk – I had been to her native country and could speak enough of the language to get around. We had something in common.
What do you have in common with the Father and Son?
Jesus is talking to the disciples in John 16, giving them instructions that after He is gone they are not to pray to Him for answers; they are to pray directly to the Father only.
“In that day you will ask me nothing. Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you…ask in my name; I am not saying I will pray to the Father for you, for the Father Himselfloves you, because you have loved me…” v23-27)
That is the first thing we have in common with the Father – we both love Jesus. This fact removes all argument for why a person cannot fellowship with the Father and Son. Things like ‘I made so many mistakes’ and ‘I’m such a sinner’ fall to the way side as insignificant because the Father loves us because we love His Son. We have that in common, so the basis for fellowship is established.
If we as mere humans put up with the difficult to love, but because they have 1 good redeeming quality we allow them in our lives so we overlook the rest, how much more does our Father desire fellowship with us because if nothing else, we love His Son!
Have you ever been lied to? Have you ever been betrayed? Have you ever been falsely accused? Have you ever had your words misunderstood and/or used against you? Have you ever had your friend(s) leave you? Have you ever had people you thought were friends drop you because they were offended at you?
All these things and more Jesus experienced. You have that in common. Start thinking what you have in common with the Father and Son, rather than being focused on your negative qualities. They’ve invested in you for eternity, revealing in Ephesians 2:7 that in the ages to come the Father will continue to show His great kindness towards us – so get over yourself, they have.
So day to day fellowship – what does that feel like?
When I wake up and immediately shift my attention down inside me for His presence and start praying in tongues, I understand that presence to be the Father. I don’t try to distinguish ‘Is this you Father, or you Jesus?’ in my spirit. It is the Father. I feel His life, His energy, His warmth in my spirit. I know Him.
As Romans 8:15 says, we have received the spirit of adoption, so we cry out Abba, Father. So it is Him down inside. It should be pointed out here that in first century usage, the word ‘abba’ was the informal and familiar use, more like our ‘daddy’ today in English, or ‘papa’.
The reason both Abba and Father are used here is because they denote both formal and informal relationship and fellowship. When I was a young boy, it was “My daddy can beat up your daddy!” because at that age and with limited understanding, my daddy was always right and could do anything.
As I got older I understood daddy also to be father. Father carries with it my growing understanding of what it takes to be a man, to be a father. That is how we are with the Father God. He is both daddy and Father.
From vague to specific
When I shift my attention to my spirit I often do so while simultaneously asking, ‘What do you think Father?’
I’m not really shifting my attention in order to hear words, but rather to sense what the Father is feeling. What ‘feel’ does He in side of me, give off?
I’m not first listening for words in my spirit, I first look for what I might call, His feelings or opinion on a matter. When I ask ‘What do you think Father?’ it is in response to everything from should I burn the driftwood on the beach today, to should I record this month’s teaching series, or write today? Should I take some Skype calls and Facebook Instant Messages or concentrate on studying the Word this morning?
And in day to day life I ask when someone expresses an opinion, either in person or by email, and I’ll ask, ‘But what do you think Father?’ ‘What do you want me to say to them?’ ‘Shall I be blunt or do you want me to be gentle? What season of life are they in right now?’ and so on. When out and about with a list of things to do I’ll ask ‘What do you think I should do first?’ – and I look for a feeling, a witness, something highlighted in my spirit that draws my attention more to it than the others: ‘Go to the hardware store first’ feels ‘right’.
Emotions of the Father
When the Father was teaching me about Himself many years ago He said this: “I express my emotions though the manifestation (gifts) of the Spirit.” I told Him, ‘I need chapter and verse on that Father.’ and He responded: “Study compassion. Every time you see compassion in the gospels you’ll find a manifestation of the Spirit.”
Immediately I knew He was right. It states Jesus had compassion on a leper, and He healed him. He had compassion on the unfed multitude, and food was multiplied. He had compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so He sent out the 12 to heal and help. (Mt 15:32; Mt 9:36-38,10:1; Mk 1:41) Even in His parables compassion resulted in a supernatural forgiveness of debt! (Mt 18:21-35 KJV all)
So I look not for a word, but for the Father’s emotion – compassion? Grieved? Happy? Again years ago while a pastor in a traditional church, when He was teaching me this, I began asking the Father before a service, ‘What are you in the mood for?’ Knowing a traditional service is divided into 3 parts, the worship, the Word, and prayer/ministry, I began asking what area He was in the mood to do for that service.
I would sense – not hear – but sense more ‘weight’ in my spirit on say, worship – which explained why He gave me absolutely nothing to teach that service – He wasn’t in the mood to say something through my teaching, but it felt ‘right’, it bore witness, to focus on worship.
The worship leader at the time, Paul, the first few times looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights – ‘What? I don’t have anything but 4 songs’. I’d tell him just to go with the flow and worship…and the night would be filled with 90 minutes of worship, then ministry time, all of us soaking in His presence – all because I wasn’t looking for a ‘word’, but for that presence on the inside of me first and foremost, and from there to what the emotions of my Father was for the event at hand.
Emotions are part of what we have in common with the Father and our Lord. Compassion to others is first rooted in Him, so learn to look for that commonality in your fellowship, and ‘feel’ His presence within. Fellowship on what you have in common, and ask Him His opinion on things, and ‘feel’ His reply.
More next week as I plan to conclude this series then – blessings,