What Souls Long for…

Longing Souls

Sunday 09/22/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – What Souls Long for…

[powerpress]

Click HERE for Video

Communing with the Holy Spirit

Turn with me to 1Jn. 1:1-4,

“(1) That which was from the beginning, which we have listened to, which we have seen with our own eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our own hands concerning the Word of Life–  (2) The Life was manifested and revealed, and we have seen and bear testimony to it… we declare to you the Eternal Life, Who was with the Father and was manifested to us– (3) that which we have seen and listened to we now announce to you also. We do this so that you also may have fellowship with us, and this fellowship with us is fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  (4) And we write these things in order that the collective joy we’ve enjoyed together may continue to be continuously full.”

I’ve taught you that desire – by itself is NOT bad or inherently evil. In fact desire is one of the greatest tools we have in aiding our pursuit of God. 

The scriptures tell us that God is “…the living God, Who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” in 1 Timothy 6:17. Our life involves desire and all desires are but a whisper a mere suggestion of something greater – something better. 

These temporal desires only provide temporary satisfaction. They are the lesser desires which point us to God, Who alone is the never ending source of life and satisfaction. 

“In His presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are Pleasures forevermore.” 

How many of you can testify to the unsatisfied nature of desire? That is a well that cannot be filled!

The early Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it.”

Which is to say it is a journey of unsatisfied desire that we begin and die with and unless we find the heart’s only true contentment in God. The great majority of human beings will die in that state and then exist in it forever.

It was to the unsatisfied nature of this heart desire, with which we are all familiar, that Jesus was speaking when He said in Matt. 11:27-29, “(27)All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  (28) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

As you know the word ‘fellowship’ ( koinonia ) means shared life, shared experience and shared resources. 

Morgan tells us that, “The Greek word koinonia is derived from the word koinos, which very literally means “common – in the sense of being shared by all.’”

This Greek word is used sparingly in the New Testament, but WHERE it IS used it to convey the notion of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person.

The New Testament testifies that we share a common bond and responsibility in 4 general areas. Those of

  • The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
  • The Gospel and faith in the gospel
  • Ministering to the needs of the saints being kind & generous in our giving
  • The sufferings, death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus

Morgan, further expounds on this meaning as it is used in this passage by saying, “Those who have a fellowship ( koinonia ) one with another, are those who share the same resources, and are bound by the same responsibilities. The idea becomes almost overwhelming when it is thus applied to the relationship which believing souls bear to the Father, and to His Son Jesus Christ. . . . The Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and all believers have all things in common. All the resources of each in the wondrous relationship are at the disposal of the others. Such is the grace of our God, and of His Son.”

The Jews knew and acknowledged God as their true father on an intellectual and theological level – but, it is HIGHLY unlikely the EVER addressed Him as such. These are the same people who wouldn’t even spell out His name. 

As we sang this morning, Jesus started a kind of revolution when He invited men to address God as Father (Matt. 6:9). We really can have a living, breathing relationship with God the Father, and with Jesus Christ. Together they can be not only our Creator, Father & Savior, but also our friend and our closest relationship.

To speak frankly however – most people are actually not as romanced by this and you’d initially think.

Like Guzik says, “an invitation to a “personal relationship with God” is about as attractive to them as telling an eighth-grader they can have a “personal relationship with the assistant principal.”… He says for other reasons some shy away from from this relationship with God because, “…they feel so distant from Him. They want a relationship with God, but feel so disqualified, so distant.”  These people need to deeply know and  understand, “…what God has done to make this kind of relationship possible.” One of the greatest things He did was to send us His Spirit. 

Friendship and intimacy with God – sounds very exposed, open and vulnerable. It’s not that people do not realize that God must know everything about them, but it’s quite another thing to deliberately hang around and seek communion with someone who knows you that completely. 

Since the introduction of sin into the human condition, it has been human nature to hide. While our sins have been forgiven and we are clothed in His righteousness, Romans also tells us that we still have sin the the flesh. So until our souls and bodies have been fully redeemed, we will continue to try to hide.

Simon Tugwell reminds in Prayer reminds us that it is, God Who one pursuing us: “So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about; He is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from Him, in high rebellion against Him. And He knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape Him, we run straight into His arms. So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us the hope of salvation. Our hope is in His determination to save us, and He will not give in.” ( Prayer ) 

The word fellowship has in it not only the idea of relationship, but of sharing a common life. As we have fellowship with Jesus, by the Holy Spirit we will become more like Him. But how do we do that? How do we fellowship with Jesus by the Spirit. We will look at one of the most important ways today. 

It is important to realize that the word Koinonia was not used in reference to the relationship the disciples had with Jesus when He walked with them. 

Remember Jesus said to Philip on the way to Gethsemane,  “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?” (John 14:9) 

Their potential for true fellowship was not available until following the redemptive work of Jesus when the Holy Spirit came to abide within them. I told you before their ability to see and know Jesus and our ability to see and know Jesus is the same. We both have the same teacher and friend.

So while all the other passages we’ve looked at this morning, hint at the involvement of the Holy Spirit in this koinonia, He is not expressly mentioned. But it is still a New Covenant reality which we see in 2Cor. 13:14. It says,  

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Now, this idea of a shared life is essential…and we HAVE to steel ourselves against the human tenancy to water down its meaning. 

It is our soul’s tenancy to guard ourselves against the intimacy with God that we were really made for, because in our great skill at protecting ourselves we have become weak and frail…mere shadows of what we were made to be – and anything as real and substantive and eternal intimacy with God is not only hard for us to contemplate, it is something we secretly shrink back from. 

So we hear words like “may the intimate influence of Christ Jesus, the deep and eternal love of the Father and the shared life experience of the Holy Spirit be with you all…” and we immediately water it down in meaning to something more manageable like “being invited into the general favor and good will of God.” Something warm, cozy and quite frankly DETACHED, rather than deeply owning and penetrating.  

Now these things that I’m talking about this morning are important because as I mentioned to you before our filters greatly affect how we perceive God and how we imagine intimacy with Him. It will do no good to explain a way in which we can, by the Holy Spirit, have fellowship with Jesus if that entire experience is distorted by the filter we view it through.

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce, he describes people who go the hell as little more than ghosts. They lack substance and are mere shadows of true men. 

He gives the illustration of a bus that goes to hell to pick up passengers for a “visit to heaven”. Few avail themselves of the opportunity due to timidity of heart (remember all who go to hell are cowards according to Revelation) as these citizens of hell arrive, they quickly desire to return to the hell they know, because they are so ontologically light that it hurts their feet to even walk upon blades of grass in heaven. 

The word ontological here simply means a false self we always carry around as a buffer between us and others. Terms like housewife, executive, plumber, preacher are words we used to define ourselves which ironically are not statements about who we are but what we do. That is ontological lightness. It means a shadow of who you really are presented as a replacement for who you are. It is something we hide behind. Just like Adam and Eve did with God.

So this communion with God does NOT mean that Jesus has been added TO our lives like a peripheral appendage. No, this communion we share with the Godhead is a total abandonment to and submersion into a life of knowing, sharing and being intimately known. It is what marriage is but a vague shadow of.

Again, I am reminded of two quotes from C.S. Lewis. One is from The Weight of Glory, and I paraphrase, 

“The things in which we have sought fulfillment, be they people or books or music will all betray us if we place our trust in them; 

what the human heart is really looking for was not in them, it only came through them, and what comes through them is longing. [an awareness of desire] 

These things are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. 

For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not yet visited.”

Every desire in life was designed to point us to God and enhance our enjoyment of Him. They are used however as replacements of Him. 

Also in his book, ‘The Problem of PainLewis said,

“Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring,… 

You have never had it. 

All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it — tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. 

But if it should really become manifest — if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself — you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say “Here at last is the thing I was made for.”

Well THAT THING the human soul is looking for…longing for and for which we accept MANY lesser substitutions is Koinonia with God!

Before you can enjoy True Fellowship with God you’re going to have to recognize and own all of the substitutions you have accepted as His replacement and turn your back on them.

They are the little household gods that Jacob’s wives held onto and which he had to take away and bury before he could go on with God. 

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi I am Pastor Mark...

I have been a pastor for nearly 30 years now (2018), though never quite like I am today. (more on that in a moment)

-
As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my best friend, greatest personal support and most valued aid.
-
As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught. I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled). Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then,

"If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling."

~ Fredrick Buechner

-
By 2009 I’d been Pastoring for nearly 20 years. Earlier in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our church was not in keeping with the New Testament. This was a shock to me and it is was a revelation that did not come all at once but over the course of a few weeks.

We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until about 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We believe the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly and though we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me. I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!