Fellowship – it’s a wonderful word. It’s what you were made for. It satisfies the deepest longings of your heart. It is the answer to loneliness. Nothing in this life compares with it. It starts now and goes on for ever.
There is no greater joy in life than fellowship. John wants his readers to enjoy the same fellowship he has: ‘We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!’ (1 John 1:3, MSG).
Koinonia, the Greek word used for fellowship, is almost untranslatable. It expresses ‘a relationship of great intimacy and depth… it even became the favourite expression for the marital relationship – the most intimate between human beings’. It is a rich word that describes a life together in which everything is shared. This is the word that John uses of our intimate relationship with God (v.3).
It also describes our relationship with one another. You can have deep genuine friendships and honest communication. There is no need for masks or ‘spin’ or ‘image’. You can be real before God and before others. The result is a level of authenticity, vulnerability and intimate connection with one another that is best summed up in this beautiful word, ‘fellowship’.
Thank GodPsalm 136:1–12
God loves you. We need to be constantly reminded of God’s love for us. Twenty-six times in this psalm the psalmist repeats, ‘His love endures for ever’. Your intimate connection with the Lord is based on his enduring love for you.
Respond by giving ‘thanks’ to God for:
- Who he is
He is the ‘God of gods’ and ‘Lord of lords’ (vv.2–3). He is good (v.1).
- What he has made
He does great wonders. He made the heavens and spread out the earth; he made the sun, the moon and the stars (vv.4–9).
- What he has done for you
His hand is strong and his arm is outstretched towards you (v.12).
Lord, thank you that your love for me endures for ever.
Talk to God1 John 1:1–2:11
John knew who he was talking about. He knew Jesus Christ personally. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved in a special way (John 13:23), and with whom he had spent a great deal of his time.
John, now an old man, writes that he had ‘heard’, ‘seen’, ‘looked at’ and ‘touched’ Jesus (1 John 1:1). What he had ‘seen’ he wanted to ‘testify’ to and ‘proclaim’, in order that his readers also might have an intimate connection with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ (vv.2–3).
Astonishingly, you too can experience this intimate connection: ‘we saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ’ (v.3, MSG).
How can you have this intimate connection with the Father and the Son?
You are enabled to ‘walk in the light’ because of ‘the blood of Jesus’, which ‘purifies us from all sin’ (v.7). Because of this, even though we are still sinners (v.8), we are offered continual forgiveness for our sins. You are called to this intimate relationship with him, where you can talk to him about your sins and be assured of forgiveness: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (v.9).
The blood of Jesus continually cleanses you in the same way that the combination of your liver and your physical blood continually cleanses your physical body.
The only requirement is that you admit that you have sinned and confess your sins.
Keep short accounts with God. When you sin, quickly confess, repent and receive God’s cleansing. Get up and keep going.
There is an extraordinary balance here. We are not supposed to sin, but rather to walk in the light. However, we have all sinned and, ‘if we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives’ (v.10).
This leads to a wonderful combination: John both encourages his readers not to sin, while at the same time assuring them of God’s grace and mercy if they do (2:1). This balance of a call to holiness alongside grace is right at the heart of the Christian life.
Amazingly, when we mess up, Jesus is our ‘advocate’ (KJV), our divine defence lawyer: ‘we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One’ (v.1).
It is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you that makes it possible for you to be able to talk to the Father and the Son in the intimate relationship of ‘fellowship’ (1:3). You are called to know God (2:4) and to experience his love for you (v.5). ‘Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived’ (v.6, MSG).
Part of this is seen in our connection with one another in the Christian community. ‘If we walk in the light... we have fellowship with one another’ (1:7). A clear conscience, love, obedience, intimacy with God and intimacy with one another all go hand in hand.
Lord, thank you for the amazing privilege of being able to have fellowship with you and with one another through your blood shed for us on the cross.
Trust GodDaniel 5:17–6:28
Daniel enjoyed close intimate connection with God. He is a wonderful example of someone who had total and complete trust in the Lord. He refuses to accept Belshazzar’s gifts (5:17). Be careful about simply accepting gifts from anyone. Daniel did not want to compromise his position.
Belshazzar’s sins were: first, pride (v.20) – he did not humble himself (v.22); second, arrogance (v.20) – he set himself up against the Lord of heaven (v.23); and third, idol worship – praising gods of silver and gold (v.23).
Daniel is a superb example of a Christian politician. It is not just that his intelligence completely outclassed the others. What really made him stand out was his integrity. When they tried to find an old scandal or skeleton they could not find anything: ‘He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct’ (6:4, MSG).
Not all of us can distinguish ourselves as Daniel did (v.3), but we can all have an ‘excellent spirit’ (v.3, AMP). Seek to be trustworthy in your work, and to be honest and careful, ‘neither corrupt nor negligent’ (v.4). Be faithful in your work and most importantly be faithful in your relationship with God.
Daniel was one of the top three men in the country and he had great responsibility. He had an extremely busy, time-consuming job. Yet he managed to find the time to pray three times a day.
Daniel had lived in Babylon for many years by this stage and his attitude to the state is very interesting. He played his full part. He obeyed all the laws. His accusers knew this. They realised that the only way to attack him was to make up a law that went against God – so they made it illegal to pray (vv.5–7). Daniel had no hesitation in disobeying that command openly (v.10).
Talking to God is inextricably linked with trusting in him. Fellowship with God was the number one priority in Daniel’s life. He continued to pray just as he always had done. He refused to compromise. He did not even try to hide the fact he was praying. He kept the windows open as he had done before – so that all could see.
Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. The whole story seems to foreshadow the last period of Jesus’ life:
- Jealousy led to false accusations against him
- His enemies were unable to find any basis for a charge
- In the end they resorted to a religious charge
- A reluctant and weak king was persuaded to take some action he did not really want to take
- The great courage of Daniel foreshadowed the supreme courage of Jesus.
- The rescue by God foreshadowed the resurrection
- Even the empty tomb seems to be foreshadowed: ‘A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it… At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den’ (vv.17,19).
The key to the whole story is Daniel’s complete trust in God. This made him fearless. It is said that the lions did not eat Daniel ‘because he was grit and backbone’! He served God continually (vv.16,20), and was recognised and thought of as a servant of the living God (v.20). He was at God’s disposal every moment of the day.
Resist the pressure to compromise. Keep trusting God even when everything seems to go wrong. Have the courage to be different.
Lord, help me to keep walking in an intimate relationship of connection with you – thanking you, talking to you and trusting in you.
We need more people like Daniel to advise our leaders in this day and age. It is impressive that he was so loyal to Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. But he did not compromise his faith. He followed God first and was a politician and adviser second.
Verse of the Day
‘When Daniel was lifted from the lion’s den, no wound was found on him because he had trusted in his God’ (Daniel 6:23)
William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (eds) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (University of Chicago Press, 1957), p.439.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.