Tag Archives: fellowship



Like contentment, obedience should play a major role in the process of transforming us into the image of Jesus.

There are many examples in Scripture of obedience and disobedience and the consequences that followed the choices people made. Apart from Jesus, two examples stand out for me.

Saul, the first king of Israel, had every advantage to be a godly king. God called him, anointed him for his office and equipped him with the power of the Holy Spirit to rule wisely. He started well but eventually lost everything through his disobedience, including his life, because he became arrogant and self-sufficient and thought he knew better than God.

This was God’s verdict over Saul’s life when he called up Samuel from the grave…

“Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul.

“Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.”

But Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.” 1 Samuel 28:15-19 NLT

The consequences of Saul’s disobedience brought wide-reaching disaster on the whole nation.

David, on the other hand, earned a title from God Himself – “a man after my own heart” – because, even in his position as king, he was obedient to the Lord and loved and valued His Word.

“But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts of the Apostles 13:22 NLT

This does not mean that David was perfect or sinless. When he fell into terrible sin, he was quick to acknowledge his guilt and to cry out to God for forgiveness.

He had to live with the consequences of his failure but, unlike many of the kings who came after him, he never became arrogant and self-sufficient. He continued to do what God told him to the end of his life.

Of course, the most perfect example of obedience is Jesus Himself.

Many years before He came to earth, prophecies about His character and obedience abound in the Old Testament.

David wrote about the Messiah…

“Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.” Psalms 40:7-8 NLT

This was one of Isaiah’s visions about the Messiah…

“The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away….

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:4-5, 7 NLT

Jesus’ own testimony was that of perfect obedience to the Father’s will…

So, Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I Am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.  And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” John 8:28-29 NLT

Jesus challenged His opponents to find anything in His life out of line with the will of His Father.

“Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?”… John 8:46 NLT


  1. Obedience demands humility.

Jesus’ humility took Him all the way from His position in the Trinity to a broken and naked body on a Roman torture stake.

“Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:7-8 NLT

  1. Jesus paid the highest price for His obedience to the Father.

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8 NIV


  1. Jesus’ submission to the Father saved Him from spiritual death and brought God’s answer to His prayer

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Hebrews 5:7-9 NIV

  1. Jesus’ obedience to the Father had a personal reward

” But it was the Lord ’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord ’s good plan will prosper in his hands.” Isaiah 53:10 NLT

” I will give him the honours of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.” Isaiah 53:12 NLT

“Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 NLT

  1. Jesus learned obedience through suffering

” Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8 NLT

  1. Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s will brought salvation potentially to the whole world, but especially to those who believe.

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:23-25 NIV

“Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.” Romans 1:5 NLT

“When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” Isaiah 53:11 NLT

  1. Jesus’ obedience will restore the universe to God’s original purpose.

“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” Romans 8:20-21 NLT

6.We have a share in Jesus’ victory because of His obedience

“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.’ 2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT


1. Obedience to the gospel

Being a believer is much more than a free pass to heaven or “having a relationship with Jesus”.

God entrusted to the church, through the Apostles, a body of teaching which encompasses everything that relates to our lives in the New Covenant. Like the Old Covenant which was God’s constitution for citizenship in Israel, the New Covenant is our constitution for life in God’s kingdom. This constitution is sometimes called “the Gospel (Good News) ” and sometimes “the Faith” or “the Way”.

Being a believer, therefore, is a commitment to obey all the requirements of this divine “constitution”.

“As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT

Paul testified, shortly before he died,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

  1. Obedience to Jesus, the Word of God

God’s Word is His divine “GPS” for navigating a difficult and treacherous road through life. We have three enemies that will do all in their power to lure us off the way that will take us to the Father…the world, the flesh and the devil.

Each of these enemies works through the powerful weapon of deception. Each offers us a way to live that doesn’t need God. Each holds out the prize of self-sufficiency and self-gratification. Each fails to show us the small print, i.e., eternal death – separation from God and everything good.

Jesus said, “I am the Way…” He is also the Word. To reach our destination, we must follow the directions given to us in the Word which echo His nature and show us the way.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalms 119:105 NIV

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

“Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” Luke 11:28 NLT

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,  for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.” John 10:27-30 NLT

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17 NIV

As we abide in Jesus, remembering that without Him we can do nothing, He guides us by His Spirit, reminding us of the words He has spoken to us. Our response is to follow the prescriptions of His Word which will neutralise the deception of our enemies.

  1. Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if, through the power of the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Romans 8:12-14 NLT

Since God’s Word is the expression of His will,

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NLT


“And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.” 1 John 4:21 NLT

“And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” 1 John 3:23 NLT

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law…. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8, 10 NIV



When we obey the gospel, i.e., when we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead, God gives us the Holy Spirit to indwell us as we become His temple.

“We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” Acts of the Apostles 5:32 NLT

“Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.” 1 John 3:24 NLT


Friendship with Jesus is not automatic nor does every Christian enjoy the privilege of friendship with Him. It is reserved for those who obey Him.

” ‘You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.’ ” John 15:14-15 NLT


Relationship and fellowship are not the same thing. We may have a relationship with Jesus but be out of fellowship with Him because of disobedience. Sin does not change our relationship with Him unless we have purposely chosen to renounce our salvation. However, sin interferes with our oneness with Him.

“So, you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.” 1 John 2:24-25 NLT


Prayer, in the deepest sense of the word, is not about getting what we want from God. It’s about sharing His heart and learning to be one with Him. He answers our prayers in accordance with His will when our hearts are in tune with Him.

“Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.” 1 John 3:21-22 NLT


Loving our fellow believers us a fruit of our life in Him. It shows that we are” participants in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.” 1 John 3:14 NLT


Obedience to God’s constitution is also proof that we are citizens of Hid heavenly Kingdom.

“And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:17 NLT


God’s final purpose is to be at home in the hearts of His people.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Revelation 21:2-3 NIV

Obedience is a hallmark of sonship; therefore, obedience prepares us for being God’s eternal dwelling place.

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23 NIV

Obedience, then, to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a powerful protection against our enemies, and a preparation for life with God in an eternal union with Him in heaven, His dwelling place.


All Scripture quotations in this series

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.








“He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, ‘Get out while you can: get out of this sick and stupid culture.’

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptised and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal and the prayers.” Acts 2:40-42 (The Message).

“Sick and stupid culture”! That’s a good way to describe my culture, your culture, any culture that leaves Jesus out of the mix. It doesn’t matter where we live in the world; every culture is underpinned by the same characteristics that entered the world with Adam’s declaration of independence from God.

Adam exchanged family oneness for aggression and alienation towards God, his Father and his fellow man, leaving him orphaned and abandoned. He exchanged generosity of spirit for greed and selfishness, making him even more alienated from other people and lonely. He exchanged fellowship with the Father for man-made religions which leave him empty, frustrated and fearful.

Put these together and you have a multiplicity of cultures that are nothing but “sick and stupid”. Wrap them up in religious systems that have no foundation in fact or reality, that have absurd belief systems and practices and that never bring us back to our source in God our Father. Adam’s choice was stupid and left every descendant in every generation sick.

Notice the first evidence of the restoration that happened when the people who had murdered Jesus realised what they had done and came back to God in humble repentance and confession. They devoted themselves to four things that were a radical reversal of their old culture and a powerful witness to the change that had taken place within their hearts.

  1. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles. For the first time on their lives they were open to receiving the truth. Jesus had promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth. He entrusted to them the responsibility of interpreting the events of His life and death under inspiration of the Spirit and passing it on to His followers. It was the knowledge of the truth that would set them free from all the nonsense they had ever believed and practised in their ignorance.
  1. They did life together. Their new-found faith in the Messiah bound them together in the unity that God intended from the beginning, restoring the family bond and drawing them to each other so that they loved, shared and cared for one another in such a powerfully visible way that outsiders noticed and were impressed.
  1. They ate together – another powerful symbol of their new culture. Instead of living in alienation from each other, they were reconciled. They buried their personal issues and demonstrated their reconciliation by sharing their meals. In the culture of the Middle East, you did not eat with an enemy.
  1. They fellowshipped together with the Father in the set prayers of their Jewish faith. The prayers of their Scriptures, which they had prayed as a habit, became the heart of their fellowship with God and with each other.

What a beautiful description of their new faith and their new life! Everything lost in Adam was regained in Christ. How simple compared with the complicated religion much of what is called “Christianity” has become today! Just imagine the impact the church could have if it truly abandoned the sick and stupid culture of the world and adopted the pattern set by these early believers.

They got it right. Why can’t we?


Do you have a friend with whom you can risk sharing your secrets – even those of which you are ashamed? It’s good to have someone to whom you can unburden yourself when you struggle with issues in your life

A friendship like that can only be built on trust and mutual respect. It is risky to trust another person with your secrets. You would not share your heart with a new friend or a so-called “friend” who has betrayed your trust.

Trust betrayed makes one feel outraged, violated and deeply hurt. After an experience like this, it is difficult to trust anyone again, even those with whom one has trusted with one’s secrets in the past.

To be the confidante of a friend is a privilege which one should honour and a trust one should never betray. We should keep our mouths shut when a friend has shared a secret with us lest we inflict emotional wounds that may never heal by breaking the confidence.

Did you know that God also looks for people in whom He can confide? Why would He want to confide in fickle human beings who might easily betray His trust, when there is fellowship and confidence in the Godhead between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

As strange as it may seem, God created us to be a part of the intimate union between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed that His disciples – we are included if we follow Jesus – be one with Him and the Father (John 17: 20-23).

Abraham was God’s friend. God shared His plan to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with him and, because of his friendship with God, Abraham was bold enough to intercede for the people in the doomed cities. Although God carried out His plan, Abraham’s nephew, Lot escaped God judgment because of Abraham’s intercession.

There is one condition for friendship with God.

The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them (Psalm 25:14).

God is willing to share His secrets with anyone who trusts Him, reverences and honours Him and obeys His Word. Very simply put, to fear the Lord is to recognise and acknowledge who He is and to hold Him in such high esteem that we take seriously what He says and does and honour His name and His Word through our obedience. That’s what Abraham did, even when God asked him to offer his son as a sacrifice.

Wouldn’t you like to be someone with whom God shares His secrets?


But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13).

“Far away…” What does that mean? How far is far away? When we stand outside and look at the Amatola Mountains, they seem far away.  This is not the kind of “far away” to which Paul is referring. He is talking about another kind of “far away”. Not far away in kilometres but far away in fellowship.

You know what it feels like to be in the same room with someone you love but at the same time to be far away because of some rift that has come between you. That person might as well be on the other side of the planet because you cannot communicate with one another. Your hearts are estranged.

We were all once far away from God because there was a great rift between us and Him. Sin had separated us from Him and made us enemies. We were afraid of God; we hated Him; we stayed as far away from Him as we could because we were not sure what He might to do us if we got too near.

Then Jesus stepped in. In fact, the Father sent Him. How amazing that God the Father, the very one that we hated and ran from, wanted us back so badly that He sent His own Son to heal the breach which breach was no easy matter! It was not just about apologising on our behalf for our rebellion. It was about paying the debt for what we owed God.

Death was the penalty God demanded for our stubborn disobedience. God created us for a very specific purpose – to have fellowship with Him and to manage the earth and its resources for Him, but we thumbed our noses at Him and ran amok. We lived as we chose, did as we liked, wasted His gifts and refused to have anything to do with Him. We deserved to die.

Then He sent Jesus to die, as though He had done what we did. Jesus loved and obeyed the Father in every way we did not. The people whom God chose to be His own people put Him to death as an evil-doer. He went willingly in obedience to the Father.

Gone was the sin between us and God. Gone was the enmity, the broken fellowship, the hatred and rebellion. The Father opened His arms to us and said, “Come.”  There was no reason for us to be estranged from Him any longer.

We have been brought near!

How Do You Get On With Your Brother?


This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1: 6-7)

Amazing, isn’t it, that so much of Christianity today is about holding to the right doctrine, and not about living the right life! John was a Jew – and a practical man. He gives us a simple test for what He calls “walking in the truth”. How do you get along with you brother or sister in the Lord?

There are two words which John uses to describe the essence of God in a nutshell – light and love. He does not say that God is a light, or even that one of God’s attributes is light. He says that God IS light. What does he mean by light? He is not talking so much about physical light – although God is the source of light which includes physical light. He means that God is the essence of everything that is right, pure, and untainted with corruption or imperfection. God illuminates everything so that no imperfection of any kind can be concealed.

The second word John uses to describe God’s essence is “love”. God harbours nothing in His being that is detrimental to His creation, no animosity, impure motive or attitude that will adversely affect anyone or anything, regardless of their response to Him. His attitude towards His creation is positively good.

God’s essence is in perfect balance: He is good to everything He has made because He is love; He always does the right thing and acts with perfect justice because He is light. He cannot be anything else because He is holy – He is always true to who He is.

Those who do not know, understand or believe the true nature of God, attribute to Him the imperfections of human nature. Many reject God’s forgiveness because they do not understand His righteousness. God is light – He cannot sweep sin under the carpet, but He is also love – He could not ignore man’s plight. He is in perfect balance; therefore He made a way by sending Jesus to become a man, live a perfect life and die as a sinner in our place. It’s as simple as that.

But where does that leave us? I said that John was a practical man. God’s provision for us demands a response. He provided forgiveness for the whole world. There is not a single person who is excluded from returning to the Father and being restored to His family but – and this is where the great divide comes between those who are in the kingdom of God and those who are not – everyone must respond, individually and personally by receiving His forgiveness and coming back under His authority.

God effects a change in our hearts from hatred and enmity towards Him to trust, love and allegiance to Him. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us as God’s temples, and exerts His influence to guide us along the way of God’s instructions. When we live in obedience to God’s word, we walk in the truth. Part of God’s requirement is that we love our neighbour as ourselves. That means playing open cards with our fellow men as we do with God, desiring and doing what is best for them.

John uses this as a test of our obedience to God’s way of truth, not do we believe the right things but how do we get on with each other? It’s no use claiming to be in fellowship with the Father if we have unresolved issues with His children. John says that’s lying, because fellowship with God and with one another go together. Fellowship implies that we have a common basis for living, allegiance to Jesus as Lord, and that we do life together. That is not possible if we harbour grudges, hide our issues and don’t live transparently with one another.

That certainly does not mean that we drag every little perceived hurt out into the open and make an issue of it. The problem, a lot of the time, is that we imagine things about the other person that are not true because we are self-absorbed. Why do we think that other people are always thinking about us – good or bad – or that they have ulterior motives when they say or ask something? That kind of thinking reveals our hearts, selfish – not theirs!

Paul’s counsel and the counsel of the New Testament writers is “live at peace with everyone; forgive as the Lord forgave you; be tolerant towards one another; love one another; give each other the benefit of the doubt; be honest with each other; don’t put on a show or wear a mask; don’t pretend to be who you are not.” This kind of attitude makes for harmony and shows that we are really walking in the light with each other and with the Lord.

We may slip up now and then but do the right thing – communicate. Admit you blew it and ask for forgiveness, Forgive quickly when another has offended you. The bottom line is – show mercy because you have received mercy. Another’s offence against you is miniscule compared with your offence against God, and He freely forgave you.

This is the acid test of fellowship – not adhering to the right doctrines but walking in the light with one another if you want to walk in the light with God. Take responsibility for your own life before you hold grudges against others. When we do that, we can be assured that the blood of Jesus will perpetually keep our hearts clean.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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