Thursday, August 31, 2017

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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pray For Your Friends - Part 2 ~ Series on Friendship

Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:3-4 The Message




Scripture supports praying for one another, praying to give encouragement, to love each other, to admit sins, to bring comfort. [some examples: Job 42:8, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12Proverbs 27:17Ephesians 6:18Philippians 1:9-12James 5:16Do your own search of prayer.] God calls Believers to offer inspiration and compassion to others within the community of faith. For all the unique differences that every individual celebrates, our commonality in Christ is greater. In praying for His friends, Jesus teaches all His followers empathy and love that matures in a growing, personal relationship with God.

True prayer is intimate and relational; it must be Christ-focused not self-focused. Being deep-spirited friends requires putting others ahead of ourselves, requires a self-less and obedient heart. Keith Miller writes, Prayer no longer seems like an activity to me; it has become the continuing language of the relationship I believe God designed to fulfill a human life. Within prayer, this continuing language of the relationship  choreographs an intricate dance from the random rhythms that the day brings. Prayer engages the soul; it is no longer simply something we do. By blending holy mystery with human experience, our relationship with God cultivates a more meaningful life. In praying for our friends with genuine humility instead of partisan obligation, we exchange the world's empty glory with authentic living for God's Glory! Lord, I long to be a deep-spirited friend that loves others for Your Glory! ~dho


Prayer engages the soul; it is no longer simply something we do. Donna Oswalt

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pray For Your Friends - Part 1 ~Series on Friendship

[Jesus said] "I'm praying not only for [the disciples] but also for those who will believe in Me because of them and their witness about Me. The goal is for all of them to become one  heart and mind - Just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so that they might be one heart and mind with Us. Then the world might believe that You, in fact, send Me." John 17:20 The Message 


Jesus teaches many lessons on prayer, but the glimpses into His personal prayer times speak the most powerful testimonies. Jesus would often pray alone. Perhaps He was seeking guidance and wisdom or simply sitting at His Father's feet talking about the day. Even on the cross Jesus prays, asking forgiveness for His persecutors. Hours before His arrest, Jesus prays for the disciples. Found in John 17 and known as the High-priestly prayer, Jesus offers intercessory prayer for His followers, first praying for the disciples, then for all Believers to come. Completely relational, this prayer reveals the unifying layers of God's plan: the Son and the Father, the Son and the Believer, Believers to each other, and witnesses to the world. Unity in love giving glory to God evidences each of these relationships.

Marking the end of Jesus' earthly ministry, this holy prayer begins His role as Infinite Intercessor for us. Hebrews 7:25 affirms that Jesus always lives to make intercession for those who come to God through Him. The privilege of prayer emerges as a divine invitation and evolves into a mutual dialogue with God. Just as Jesus reveals His unique relationship with the Father, every Believer can step into the Holy of Holies because of Jesus. As I travel back to that night over 2,000 years ago, I hear Jesus pray for me. I hear Jesus pray for you. Still today, Christ brings our petitions to the King. Holy Spirit, kindle my heart with Christ's love for God's Glory! ~ dho

The privilege of prayer emerges as a divine invitation and evolves into a mutual dialogue with God. ~ Donna Oswalt

next week Part 2 of Pray For Your Friends

Thursday, August 10, 2017

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, August 03, 2017

For Friendship's Sake ~ Series on Friendship

Then David said, "Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" . . . "Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?" 2 Samuel 9

One of the most familiar stories of friendship in the Bible describes the enduring bond between David and Jonathan. Upon meeting they recognize an immediate soul-connection, for their friendship finds its foundations in commitment to God. Nothing destroys this friendship, not family drama, not political implications, not territorial battles. These many testings strengthen this God-chosen friendship. A promise of friendship before God endures difficulties.

A lesser known event happens many years later, after King Saul and his son Jonathan die in battle and David, the Lord's anointed one, becomes King of Israel. David remembers his vow of friendship with Jonathan, "The two of us have vowed friendship in GOD's name, saying, 'GOD will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!' " For friendship's sake, in honor of Jonathan, David seeks to find anyone left in this family and desires to show God's kindness to them. Mephibosheth [meh-fib-o-sheth], Jonathan's son, cripple in both feet, is found and brought to King David. Calming Mephibosheth's worries, David tells him, "I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly." From living as an exile as the defeated enemy to becoming like family at the King's table, Mephibosheth's abundant blessings find their roots in faithfulness to a promise! 

God invites everyone to come and sit at His Table regularly, especially those of us who feel unworthy. Communion with God is more than reading the Bible with a cup of coffee, more than bread and wine. This intensely intimate relationship requires me to share heart, mind, and soul in the presence of God. At His Table, all my starvings find nourishment. The abundant blessings that flow over me find their roots in God's faithfulness, in God's promise of redemption, in grace through Jesus, the Promised Messiah. God's Promise is an everlasting covenant of friendship. For Friendship's sake, in honor of Jesus, God says, Come and eat at My table regularly. ~ dho


From living as an exile as the defeated enemy to becoming like family at the King's table, Mephibosheth's abundant blessings find their roots in faithfulness to a promise! Donna Oswalt

 At His Table, all my starvings find nourishment. Donna Oswalt

For Friendship's sake, in honor of Jesus, God says, "Come and eat at My table regularly." Donna Oswalt