Question: How does a Christian experience fellowship and communion with God?
Don Currin: Well, I have to say it never minimize the faith factor. It all begins in the context of believing in God. And something that’s extremely important is learning to internalize Scripture I think reading and then being intentional in your meditation of the Word of God, and through that as you begin to internalize Scripture both in memorization as well as meditation, I feel like that this provides a great context for drawing near to God. But another thing that is very important is also the secret prayer aspect of learning to cry out to God and get beyond sometimes your emotions. Sometimes emotions come in, as Michael has already mentioned, we’re not talking about superficial emotions, but at times the Spirit of God draws near. Then your emotions are touched. And of course, you’re very expressive in your worship, but other times there is no emotion at all and you choose to obey God. And you choose to read and pray to God. And by that act of of diligence and obedience, I feel as if this is the very thing that precipitates real consist at worship.
Michael Durham: First, I would say you have to believe that fellowship with Christ is possible. Wherever I go, I talk to people who say, I want to believe what you believe, but I’m just not sure that’s possible. That you can walk with God like that, that you people, that you can know God and you can experience God. So you first have to believe that this is what He is offering, fellowship with him You know, that’s what John is saying in the first epistle. I’m writing these things to you that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with God, the Father and with his son. And he does not mean for you to interpret him to say we’re writing these things so you can have fellowship with we apostles. No, he’s saying you can have the fellowship that we apostles have with God, the father, and his Son. Because fellowship, now that he’s bodily ascended, is spiritual. It’s not physical. It’s not materials, not based upon the material. It’s spiritual. That’s what all John 14, 15, and 16 are about. He’s teaching his apostles how to be able to relate to him. Now, not bodily, but spiritual through the Holy Spirit. So fellowship with God looks like this it looks like this. It looks exactly like a husband and wife, only on an even more spiritual, deeper level. It looks like two people who love each other and relate to each other. It’s just that simple. But Jesus is not here bodily. I was talking earlier, you know, when my wife puts her arms around me and she says, I love you. I can hear that. I can feel that. I can’t feel God put his arms around me. I can’t hear audibly his words, I love you. But I’ve learned and this is what I think we need to do. We need to learn how, how to see and how to ear hear Jesus that he has eyes. Let Him see the ears. Let them hear. This is not talking about spiritual understanding. Of course, that’s ultimately what he means. I think he’s meaning learn how to see and hear with your eyes the activity of God around you. God is always active around you. And in you and you need to learn how to see that, how to observe Him, how to be able to detect him. The primary way and every other way is an exception, not it’s secondary. The primary way is through this book.
I’ll never forget because of the background I came from, I was looking for a Mount Transfiguration experience every time I prayed, every time I read my Bible. And it wasn’t that way. And after a while, I got so despondent, so discouraged. I’ll never forget. I wheeled around in my office got on my face and cried before the Lord and said, Why are you not talking to me? I thought prayer’s supposed to be a dialog this is a monologue, God. And I’m tired of doing all the talking. That’s basically what I prayed And at that moment, I understood something just intuitively. I knew prayer is when you express your heart to God. This is how God has expressed His heart to us. And I. I didn’t understand all that that meant, but I began to read excuse me, I began to pray with this book open I began to pray the Scriptures back to God. I began to talk with Him through his words. And providentially I Oh, it’s I owe Mack Tomlinson anything it’s that he reprinted George Mueller’s autobiography All you could buy for that point in time was a little paperback, very abridged because the things like that thick is just this little paperback and I began to read that about this and about this same time this event happened. I was reading in my autobiography and he comes to a little section and he talked about how he spent the first ten years of his Christian life, really discouraged with his prayer life. He said he could pray for everything in 15 minutes or he’d fall asleep and his mind redressed. But when he discovered praying the scriptures, he could pray an hour, hour, 15 minutes. And he said, I could, I could spend the time. And it was uncanny, ironic, he would say, that the needs of the ministry were in that text that day that I was reading and praying through. And it was a confirmation to me that I was on the right track.
So what does that look like now? This is, is Michael (me speaking about what works for me). It won’t look just like this for you. But again, I think the principles are exactly the same. It looks like this. I begin in the morning and I say, Lord, your word teaches me to pray. Open my eyes. I may behold wondrous things in thy law. You’ve got to do this. I think my mind is not adequate enough. Don’t care how hot your IQ is. It’s not enough I said this to some guys this afternoon, so guys, bear with me. I will say it again to the whole whole audience. Logic and human reasoning can only take you so far. God created it. He gave it to you, intends for you to use it to think upon him in that amazing thing God gave your brain, namely so you could think about him and he intends for you to do that. But that can only take you so far. And my illustration of that is I get in, I’m going to go to Romania I get in my car in Dallas and I drive all the way to the East Coast. Eventually, I’m going to have to get out of my car. Why that car cannot traverse the Atlantic Ocean. So I get out of the car and now I’ve got to the border ship or plane to take me all the way Fellowship with God. How do you know when you encounter it? It’s easy. It’s not hard. It requires faith, as he’s just said, you got to believe this is what the Word of God says and rely upon the truth of Scripture. When you’re reading the text, you’re asking God to open your eyes and give you understanding, because that’s what the Spirit does. I’ll send you the spirit. He’ll guide you into all truth. He’ll take what is mine and you. He will deliver. He will give it to you. Yes, Jesus lives in you by the person of the Holy Spirit. And He communicates truth by the Spirit when you believe it. And what that means is this the moment that truth of that text is more than just a fact in your brain but there’s a reality to it. You’re conscious of the reality of it. You just had an encounter with God. God just spoke to you. God just moved with you. He just put his arms around you and told you He loved you. It’s that simple. And as you walk through your day, you just learn to see him. That’s what Jesus said. My father works and I watch what he does and I just turn around and do the same thing. I was Michael’s paraphrased but that’s essentially what he said. I see my father and I do when I see my father do he’d learn. Why did he know how to deal with the different people the way he did? Because he was watching the father. He could see God’s activity in that person’s life, and he has gravitated to that because he learned that. I don’t think it just intuitively I think there was some intuition, but I think he learned it as a man. He grew in stature and wisdom and knowledge, and I think he learned that. So there may be some follow-up questions I may have created more than I’ve answered it.
Don Currin: Just a couple little comments going back to what Michael said about George Mueller. He said he could never pray until he fixed his mind on the text. So once again, there’s the faith factor because faith comes by hearing and here by the word of God. So the focus on a text is not just merely casually reading it, but all of a sudden you start meditating up on it. And the more you meditate, as Michael said, God directed him for the events of that day. All of a sudden, what emerges out of that text is something that is very solid and substantive and invigorating to your spiritual life.
Another quote I just want to mention and what Spurgeon said regarding faith is reason at rest in God. And many times don’t try to manipulate, don’t try to figure things out. But just rest in what God has said in his truths and in his promises. And it’s amazing how the Spirit of God will begin to engender faith in your heart.
Michael Durham: And I want to make sure everyone’s clear about what I had said this morning and now what I’m saying. Now, I don’t set out to feel something. Don’t do that. That’s not what we’re talking about, because the enemy can give you any feeling, any experience you want. You don’t want that. You want the reality of the truth.
Now, I was preaching one day and all of a sudden I said to the congregation, “You’re reading your Bibles too much.” And the pastor laughed out loud. And I know that’s a dangerous statement. So let me unpack what I mean. Many of you are reading your Bible because that’s your go-to read your Bible. That should never be your goal. Your goal should be to believe the truth of God that you’re reading and thereby experiencing. And what that means is some of you have McCheneye and I didn’t exchange for you’re not critical. I think there’s some help in doing Bible reading programs, but there’s also a danger. Every strength has its own weakness. And here’s the danger you’re about getting the goal done. You’re about getting the task accomplished. It may be that God wants to speak to you with the second verse you read that day, but you’re reading past it. You’re not meditating on that second verse. He had something to show you, but you’ll never know why. Because you had to read your four chapters that morning. That’s what I meant prayerfully. Read and think about your reading. Look at it from all these different things. Ask a question of the text because you’re not just asking the Bible. You’re asking the one who wrote the Bible. What did you mean when you said that? Why did you say that? What’s that got to do with me? I mean, these are things and just think and it’s amazing that in your thinking on the text, God gives understanding. And with it, when you believe it. There’s reality.
Don Currin: One more thing if I could say I’ll make it just very practical for you guys. I think the greatest devotional verse in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 3:18. But we all with open face beholding him, as in a glance, are change into that same image from one degree of glory to another. Even in spite of the Lord, the Spirit. Now, listen, this is very important. I challenge men and women at times to do this. If you really want to have a fruitful devotional life story in the book of Matthew and Read and every little snippet of Scripture, it might be a verse, it may be a series of verses that speaks of an aspect of the person of Jesus Christ. Write down the verse and then ask God for prayerful meditation, and then write down a very brief commentary on what you see in the person of Christ in that verse and take that with you during the course of the day and meditative on it. And let it salivate in your mind and your heart. And I guarantee you, now listen to this. I guarantee you in three months, your family will especially see a marked difference in Christ-like this in your life. I’m telling you, it’s true because you are being changed. And the key is, is meditating, fixing your minds upon Christ brothers and sisters. This is the way you’re being changed. Transform even by the Spirit of the Lord into the character of Christ.
So when you go and you come to that verse beginning in Matthew, you’re looking for the character, the counsel, the way Christ dealt with various issues, his worldview, anything you write down, write down the verse, meditate on it, and then write a brief commentary and take it with you during the course of the day to fixate your mind upon. And I can assure you that when three months, everyone and especially your family will see a marked difference in your character as you’re being conformed to the image of Christ.