Dining with God
Study Guide, January 14, 2018
Devotional Communion Service
Pastor Clay Olsen
This is our first devotional communion of 2018. And so we are going to focus on the devotional aspect of it by looking into some implications of what it means to be in union with the God who dines with His people. That of course was the setting of the Lord’s Supper; Jesus was dining with His disciples in the Passover meal. Luke 22:14-16- “When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” NASU
Jesus was teaching them that His death would mean the beginning of the New Covenant. This last supper was also Jesus’ last teaching about the Kingdom and the last Passover He would eat with them until all that it meant would find its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God. Remember, many events in the ceremonies of the Israelites directly pointed to Jesus’ ministry and His New Kingdom. But in order for this New Kingdom to come to pass Jesus would have to provide the opportunity for people to have new life. And the only way that people could have new life was for God to establish a New Covenant with them. And the only way for this New Covenant to be established would be through Jesus’ own death; death as the Passover Lamb.
Just think about it: The Creator of life is the only one who has ever come to live on Earth for the express purpose of dying. And His death would make it possible to then establish a New Covenant with us, whereby any of us could be judicially pardoned, spiritually reborn, and forever indwelt by the Holy Spirit…by Christ’s own life.
And even though the Disciples were ‘People of the Book’, and knew of the prophecies that their Messiah would come, they still were overwhelmed by just how ‘personal’ their prophesied Messiah would be. They were not ready for the depth of ‘fellowship’ that their faithful God really desired to have with them and with all of His redeemed family.
Think about the connection here of ‘fellowship’ and ‘faithfulness’. Let’s even take it a step further. In that great picture verse of Rev 3:20 where Jesus calls to the one behind the door of their life. What Jesus desires is to have that one open the door and invite Jesus in; to have Jesus come into their life, dwell in their life, and share life together eternally. The message of it all is profound in several ways. Of course, we rightly use that verse as an evangelistic gospel presentation to inform people that a relationship with Jesus is not automatic. Each person must open their heart and life and want Jesus to come in, to ask Jesus to come into their life and unite His eternal life to them. Interestingly enough, in the context of the passage it also applies to those who have drifted and drawn away from depending upon the Lordship of Christ in their lives and also from Christ’s fellowship in their lives. And that’s what is so remarkable about what Jesus said He would do when He had full access to a person’s life. Notice: Rev 3:20- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” NASU
What God promises is first to bring His very life into the one who asks Him in, and then He promises to dine with this child of God. And right off, that seems kind of unusual; dining with God? What’s that about? And once again, we are faced with something that perhaps, like the Disciples, we were not quite ready for or have not quite really understood what God is looking for in our relationship. But that brings us back to this remarkable relationship between ‘fellowship’ and ‘faithfulness’. Think about it: We pretty much get God’s call to us for our ‘faithfulness’. He is Lord and God, and our faithfulness is simply the reasonable and right response of ours to our ‘Holy’ and ‘Just’ God. In other words, God deserves our faithfulness, right? He is our Creator and Redeemer and King! Why, He deserves no less than our faithfulness. But is that why He calls us to faithfulness? Or for us sheep who are so prone to wander….is that why He keeps calling us to faithfulness?
Look again at Rev 3:20 this time in the NLT: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” As we pointed out awhile back: God has never needed anything, but He has always wanted one thing; you. It is simply a stunning revelation about our God; that our God has always wanted to have you as both His child and as His friend. Again, even the Disciples had underestimated the depth of fellowship that Jesus wanted to have with them. Remember, Jesus said to them: John 15:15- “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” KJV
Now, without any of us being there when Jesus said that to His disciples, still, we can be certain that they were certainly amazed by what Jesus said to them: “I have called you ‘friends’.” With that one statement Jesus took their relationship with the God of Creation to a whole new level…a higher and wider and deeper level. God wanted the essence of their fellowship to be that of ‘friendship’. That Jesus wanted to be their ‘friend’ reshaped everything they had learned so far about their Messiah and Lord. And you see, that Jesus wants to be your ‘friend’ and my ‘friend’; that is to now shape or reshape everything we know about our Savior and Lord. In fact, it should overwhelm us daily, that our God, our Savior, our King foremost wants to be our friend…your friend and my friend; actually to be your ‘Best friend’. And this reality ought to change everything about how we do life together in fellowship with our Savior and our God!
Going on with this amazing reality about Jesus…Does that level of deep bonding relationship surprise you about our God and Savior; about your God and Savior? Have you thought much about the fact that the reason that God is so adamant about your faithfulness to Him is because what He really wants is your fellowship with Him? And have you really understood that because God’s nature is ‘Holy’ and ‘Just’ that this means that the only way that a ‘Holy’ and ‘Just’ God can have fellowship and this close bond of friendship with you and with me is by us first practicing faithfulness in our lives and by responding as a faithful friend should respond to a ‘Holy’ and ‘Just’ God?
Again, think about God’s motives in His commandments: God doesn’t command our obedience and faithfulness simply because He deserves it and demands it. No, He calls us to be faithful because our faithfulness is the only rightful way, the only judicial way, that He, as our Righteous God, can have fellowship with us and to then be a friend to us. Our faithfulness to God is a righteous requirement in order for God to be able to justly relate in fellowship and friendship to us.
So think about it again, and again, and again: God has done everything He can do to save our souls and make us spiritually whole again. And now God is also doing everything He can do in order to have a close walk of fellowship and a deep ‘day by day’ relationship of friendship with you and with me because that’s really what God wants! So what this means is that if this amazing experience of fellowship and friendship with God is not happening in our lives, it’s because we are the only ones getting in the way or keeping that from happening. God is always willing, always waiting, always wanting to enjoy daily fellowship with you and to have a deep friendship with you. So if there is anything keeping that from happening; it’s not happening because of anything on God’s side; it’s only coming from your side. God is not only rock solid in His justice and truth, He is also rock solid in His constant desire for fellowship with you.
So in relation to this revelation, think about the enormity of the decisions we make day after day. You and I are determining, deciding day by day, just how close of fellowship we really want to have with Jesus. We are deciding day by day just how good of a friend we want to be and are going to be to Jesus, who wants nothing more in His universe than to be your friend…to be your best friend.
This understanding even puts the teachings of ‘Rewards in Heaven’ in a whole new light. God wants to reward us not only for our obedience and service to Him, but He wants to reward us for being a friend to Him. He’s rewarding our faithfulness for sure, but He’s also rewarding our fellowship and friendship to Him, because that’s what He really wants to have with us.
Did you know that about your God? Did you know that Jesus wants to be your ‘Best Friend’…if you will let Him? Did you know that’s why He calls you to faithfulness, because He wants your fellowship, and since He is Holy and Just He cannot violate His justice by neglecting any sinfulness.
Did you ever realize that God had to find a way to justly forgive us of our sins not foremost for our sake, but for His…so that He could rightly then regain the family relationship and the familial fellowship and the deep friendship that He has always wanted to have with us but couldn’t because of our sins?
So many people think of God and His holy commandments as ways to keep people in line. But God didn’t give us commandments as ways to keep us in line. He gave them as ways to bring us closer to our Holy God. In order to have our fellowship He first needs to have our faithfulness. Again, it is the only way for a righteous God to not violate His justice.
Most people tend to develop their understanding about God through the influences of cultural presumptions, and church tradition, and ideas throughout history, and even their own experiences and assumptions about God. But one fascinating statement by God ought to change everything we are to understand about our God: Isa 43:25- “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” NASU
What is the primary reason that God was willing to die for us in order to make a way to forgives us of our sins and for us to then be able to to live with Him and He with us? It was ‘For His own sake!’ Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross for us He could forgive us of the penalty of our sins and because of Jesus’ sacrifice He can now forgive us of the presence of our sins. And He does so first and foremost for His own sake! It judicially clears the way for Him to have fellowship with us and to relate as a ‘Friend’ to us.
Did you realize that it means even more to God to be able to forgive you of your sins than it means to you to have your sins forgiven? Your forgiveness means more to God than it even does to you. Think long and often about that and it will change your life. Let Isaiah 43:25 sink into your soul long enough and deep enough until it flavors everything you know about God. It’s the reason behind the Lord’s Supper. It’s the reason behind the Cross. It’s the reason behind God’s call to you for your faithfulness as God’s disciple now. God calls you and me to faithfulness because our faithfulness to God is the required prerequisite to our fellowship and our friendship with God. And that’s what God really wants most of all.
‘Dining with God’, communing with God, is God’s way of calling us to ‘do life together with Him’. That the Creator of the Universe, the Holy and Sovereign Lord of all, should foremost want to have us as His own born again child and also as His best friend…well, that should settle everything about how you and I do life for the rest of our lives. Do life together with God as God’s faithful friend.