Thursday, September 26, 2013

Divine Unity ~ Series on Friendship

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV

The early church gave priority to fellowship (Acts 2:42) along with teaching and prayer. Fellowship within a community of Believers exemplifies sharing life together within a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Message uses "intimate friendship" in reference to fellowship. This common unity strengthens and encourages discipleship; this Divine fellowship binds disciples to Christ and to each other. Being in partnership with Christ, needs and resources merge with common purpose.

Paul uses the Greek word koinonia in his letters multiple times, defining this Divine Unity as fellowship, sharing, and partnership combined with offering encouragement, compassion, and mutual respect in the name of Jesus. In studying this Scripture, Paul's benediction with references to all persons of the Trinity creates a complete picture of Perfect love and peace. The grace that Christ gives originates from the Father's love, and the Holy Spirit dwells within each Believer. Individual but inseparable, Divine Unity embodies our spirits, embraces our lives, and empowers our deeds. This evolving holy and intimate friendship restores and refines our mutual relationships with each other and the Lord. ~ dho


Being in partnership with Christ, needs and resources merge with common purpose. Donna Oswalt

Individual but inseparable, Divine Unity embodies our spirits, embraces our lives, and empowers our deeds. Donna Oswalt

This evolving holy and intimate friendship restores and refines our mutual relationships with each other and the Lord. Donna Oswalt


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friend to Friend ~ Series on Friendship

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT
(unknown photographer)

The sharing of the Holy Spirit lays at the root of Christian friendship. Mutuality involving encouragement, good counsel and accountability remain essential components, but a relationship that has Christ as its core becomes a priceless interrelationship. Ecclesiastes 4:12 describes the strength of more than one: A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better than one, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. A common proverbial expression in ancient literature, this "threefold cord" indicates value in companionship and preparedness. Experiencing unity and grace through Christian relationships helps to deepen our understanding of God's love.

While every relationship differs, certain characteristics define Christian friendship. God must be first. This friendship must share a common love for God which brings spiritual joy, even in times of distress and chaos. Communication involves giving and taking both encouragement and counsel. Within the relationship, security comes from loyalty, from honoring confidences without fear of betrayal. Christian friendship can be an enduring kinship ~ but only if Christ makes three! 

Consider this Yiddish Proverb: There are 3 types of friends; those like food without which you can't live, those like medicine which you need occasionally, and those like illness which you never want. Then ask yourself: What kind of friend am I? ~ dho


Christian friendship can be an enduring kinship ~ but only if Christ makes three! Donna Oswalt

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sacrifice for Friendship ~ Series on Friendship

With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name. Hebrews 13:15 NLT

Frequently sacrifice is mentioned in the Old Testament, usually relating to offerings at the Temple for atonement and thanksgiving. As Jews around the world prepare to celebrate Yom Kippur, the most holy of the Jewish holy days, they fast and pray while reflecting upon past sins and seeking forgiveness. Celebrating this Day of Atonement reminds them of God's faithful provision and redemption for His chosen people. 

For Christians, we understand this OT teaching to foreshadow Christ, the Messiah, who becomes our sacrifice, our atonement for sin. Through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus - God's Perfect Lamb - God's greatest offering - we can be spiritually reconciled to God; God redeems us through the sacrifice of Christ and invites us into a personal relationship with Christ.

Scripture uses the Greek word thysia which relates to "the offering of a sacrifice" such as in the Jewish Temple, but it extends to "other kinds of Christian offerings, such as a 'sacrifice of praise'".(1) This kind of sacrifice is offered with attitudes of thanksgiving and gratitude, through acts of kindness and service; it is a reflection of the heart's generosity in relationship to God. Sacrifice of praise defines the depth of our friendship with the Lord. 

Just as the animals sacrificed on the Day of Atonement in the OT were to be burned outside the camp, so Jesus had to be crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem. We too are called to step outside, to live above the world's standards. Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. . .So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience,  reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.[2 Peter 1:3-7 The Message] Our daily response to this Holy Friendship should be to proclaim God's Divine Love with sacrifices of praise. ~ dho

[Sacrifice of praise] is a reflection of the heart's generosity in relationship to God.
Donna Oswalt

Sacrifice of praise defines the depth of our friendship with the Lord. Donna Oswalt

Our daily response to this Holy Friendship should be to proclaim God's Divine Love with sacrifices of praise. Donna Oswalt

(1) Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Perfect Friendship Revealed ~ Series on Friendship

"...I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." 
John 15:15b ESV 

In the upper room, the disciples sit in the presence of Jesus, holy and good; at the same time, they experience an extraordinary intimacy. Despite the awkwardness, the disciples allow Jesus to wash their feet, His life-lesson of a servant's heart. Not truly understanding the divine holiness of Jesus, these disciples only glimpse Perfection Unlimited.

From the beginning, humanity, created in God's image, chooses knowledge over faith, evil over good and experiences the consequences of disobedience and darkness over the blessings of obedience and light. Today people still find themselves standing outside the Garden looking at the guarded gates in desperation. Choosing to do good for it's rewards competes with avoiding evil for fear of punishment. Separated from God, imperfection creates boundaries, yet choice remains.

Gregory of Nyssa, a 4th century Greek philosopher, is one of the first theologians to promote the belief that God is infinite and beyond the comprehension of mankind. His writings, which are deeply rooted in Scripture, suggest we are on a constant and continuous pilgrimage toward God. Gregory explains the "virtuous way of life" we are seeking comes in being "known by God" and being "His friend". God alone is True Perfection, limitless in power and infinite in goodness. To become friends with God should be the "only thing worthy of honor and desire." Unity with God brings spiritual reconciliation which transcends boundaries. Richard Foster, a 21st century theologian, offers, "To our astonishment we find that we are walking with God, His thoughts becoming our thoughts, His desires becoming our desires."

The world around us seems limitless, but it is restricted by many boundaries. In this world, our limitations are evidenced by time, resources, geography, education and social status. We are constrained by imperfections that produce fear, hate, poverty and loneliness. The only boundary-buster is True Perfection - Christ with infinite grace and limitless love. Only in Christ can one experience Perfect Friendship - holy and divine, heart transforming, unity building, eternal friendship. Only through Christ, are fallen, flawed and finite people able to love other imperfect people with grace and healing, both now and infinitely! ~dho

Only in Christ can one experience Perfect Friendship - holy and divine, heart transforming, unity building, eternal friendship. Donna Oswalt

Only through Christ, are fallen, flawed and finite people able to love other imperfect people with grace and healing, both now and infinitely! Donna Oswalt