Fellowship with God is not just a luxury, a take-it-or-leave-it experience, that I can tack on to my life as a Christian if I wish. It is as essential to my soul as water is to my body. I must have His constant presence in my life, or I think I would die. I would have nothing for which to live. David had that desire for fellowship with God as he wrote Psalm 42. Would you take a few minutes to read it and meditate on it and then continue with this study?
When David wrote this Psalm he was removed from the public worship of God with the others. Perhaps he was sick or perhaps he was running for his life from his enemies, chief of which was King Saul.
He starts out in verse 1 by likening his famished condition to a deer running through the fields panting for a drink of water from a stream. To pant after God is to desperately long for a life of holiness and constant fellowship with Him. It is, as Jesus described in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:6, “To hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness” because we cannot bear to continue in a life of sin after we are saved. His promise is that the one who hungers and thirsts after God’s righteousness will be given that desire of his heart.
No, we will never attain perfection in this life, I John 1:8-10 teaches us. Nevertheless, we can long after it and spend much time in the Word of God, obeying whatever He teaches us and confessing any sin of which we are aware.
In verse 2 he further defines his desire to know God personally and intimately. He desires to know the living God, An objective, factual, academic knowledge of the Bible is important, but it is not enough. Beyond that knowledge, he craves a life-changing personal relationship with God; a life-changing reality of daily walking with God, as Abraham and Enoch and other Old Testament saints who were known for their walk with God. He refuses and we ought to refuse to settle for anything less that that.
Empty religion can never satisfy; whether it be a formal worship experience or a highly-charged, emotional experience that majors on good feelings and minors on Bible knowledge. Nor can we be satisfied with a mind-numbing, euphoria of a “praise and worship experience” that blasts our ear drums and makes us feel good about ourselves because it is free of Bible preaching that confronts us with our sins and brings feelings of guilt. Only as God shows us our sins, can we confess our sins to God and find immediate cleansing and freedom from a guilty conscience. I’ve made it a practice throughout my 68 years as a Christian to always confess my sins to God as soon as I am aware of them. Because of that I live a guilt-free life. You can do the same thing.
Verse three tells us that David was a man of tears: not selfish tears because he could not have his own way; but tears of sorrow for his sins. Jesus spoke of the need of such sorrow in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Do you weep over your sins and over the mess you have made of your life and the pain you have caused others? If you come to God in such sorrow, He promises to bless and comfort you and turn your life around and make you a blessing to others; rather than a burden to others.
In verse 4 David recalls happier days of the past when he joined others in united worship of God. How do you feel about going to church. Are you glad for any excuse to miss church and the united worship of God’s people and hearing the preaching of God’s Word? Or are you glad for every opportunity to join with others in worship?
Are you struggling today with discouragement and despair? It’s not easy to worship God is such a state, is it? But even in the midst of your despair, praise God that He’s going to bring you through this, as David said in Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” So David encourages us in Psalm 42:5, to hope in God for He is going to bring you through your difficult time.
David encourages himself by talking to himself and to God in the last six verses of this chapter, reminding himself of the blessings of the past and with hope for his future.
Wherever you are in your life’s journey, my prayer for you, my unknown friend and reader of these words, is that God will pull you out of your spiritual slump and get you back on the road of God’s will for your life so you can bring glory to Him and God’s richest blessings on yourself; and through you, bring blessing to others.
When God created Adam and Eve, they were sinless and flawless. The weather was always perfect; never too hot nor too cold. Imagine living in a perfect garden setting with no weeds. The roses had no thorns. The animals lived together, tame and in perfect harmony with man. There was no sickness, pain or death. They were not even troubled with head aches or tooth aches or back aches. Best of all, they enjoyed walking and talking in perfect freedom and fellowship with God, their Creator, in the Garden of Eden. They lived together in total freedom and happiness. Oh, there was one fruit tree in the midst of the garden, of which God has warned them never to eat, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But that would be no problem- or would it?
Satan, who had been cast out of Heaven for rebelling against God, was now freely roaming the earth, intent on corrupting God's new creation of Adam and Eve. In his cunning and wisdom, he chose to indwell a snake and approach Eve. Eve was not afraid of snakes, nor of any animal in the Garden. Why should she be? She had never known pain or suffering or fear or sorrow. Life was perfect in the Garden of Eden.
Satan brazenly and boldly dared to accuse God of witholding good from Eve. She listened to him and fell for his line and ate the forbidden fruit. By this time Adam came to his beloved wife and seeing what she had done, he joined her in disobeying God. Eve had been deceived by Satan. Adam knew exactly what he was doing, but in his love for his wife, he could not bear to be separated from her.
After they sinned against God, by disobeying God's one prohibition, eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; they immediately sensed guilt and tried to hide from God in the Garden. The fellowship with God was broken and they must die and so must all their progeny. The entire human race inherited their father's sinful nature and the consequences, death. Satan had won a victory over God, but that victory was short-lived.
God desired fellowship with Adam and Eve and took the initiative.
God, in His love and grief; searched them out, found them, and confronted them with their sin. When they had confessed their sin to Him, He forgave them, killed animals (perhaps lambs) and clothed them with the animal skins and banished them from the Garden of Eden. Those slain animals were the first of millions of lambs and other animals that would be slaughtered on Israel's altars as God's temporary plan of atoning for sins. Leviticus 17:11 All those slain animals pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who would be slain for the sins of the world. John 1:29 Hebrews 10 Nine hundred and thirty years later, Adam died. Read the intensely interesting and important story of the creation and the fall of Man in Genesis chapters 2 and 3..
Fellowship with Christ and His Church is a blessed privilege into which each Christian is called.
God saved us because he loves us and longs for us to walk in fellowship with Him as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden before they fell into sin. Paul writes, "God is faithful by whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." I Corinthians 1:9
Our fellowship with Christ and with believers can be marred by sin.
God cannot have fellowship with us; nor do we desire fellowship with Him when we are living in sin. When we confess our sins to God by admitting that what we are doing is sin and that we have offended our Holy God, the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross, cleanses us immediately and the fellowship is restored. See I John 1.
Our fellowship should also be with all who have put their trust in Christ.
If we are in fellowship with God, we are also in fellowship with all those who belong to Him through faith in Christ. We are part of God's family, regardless of our church affiliation. It's not difficult for those who love Christ to recognize others who also love Christ.
Christians tend to limit their fellowship with others.
We limit that fellowship to Christians who think as we think. We so soon forget that Christ is our center of fellowship and we get caught up in our own little circles of friendship and shut out those who do not agree with us on every point.
For example, our denomination or association of churches can tend to restrict our circle of fellowship. We enjoy being with those who agree with us doctrinally. The more points on which we agree, the closer our fellowship. That's understandable, but it's wrong to hold fellow believers at arm's length. It's good to talk with and read the works of those Christians who do not hold to our doctrinal position. God gave pastors and teachers for the building up of His Church. I'm so thankful that early in my ministry I read the books of those beyond my doctrinal circle. If one holds to the doctrine of Christ, and if he is walking in fellowship with Christ, he probably has something worthwhile to teach..
Our preferences for Christian music and styles of worship, Bible translations and church government may or may not have biblical support; but none of these should be the reason for building a wall between Christians and cutting off fellowship.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to talk to "his preacher boys" about fellowship with other Christians. He taught that if we magnify Jesus and His Word we can have fellowship with all those who love Jesus and His Word. I have found that to be true.
As much as I love God's people, I will not allow the pressure of a fellow Christian to apply a tourniquet of "separation" and restrict my fellowship with the rest of the Body of Christ.
In Heaven, all the lesser circles will be banished. There will be only one circle of fellowship and that will be around Jesus the Son of God who shed His blood and rose again from the dead to save us from our sins.
With those who reject Christ as Saviour and Lord, there can be no fellowship, though we can show love and friendship to them. But those who have received Christ as Saviour and Lord are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can enjoy sweet fellowship together as long as Christ is exalted and the things we disagree on are not made an issue.
In recent years I have learned that a true servant of God loves Christ's Church and guards the unity of the Spirit. A false servant of God loves his position more than he loves Christ's Church and he will do whatever it takes to promote his position, even if it means tearing apart Christ's Church. Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 17 to watch out for those divisive leaders who would promote their own agendas within the church, regardless of the damage they do to the Body of Christ.
Paul writing to the carnal, immature Corinthian Christians in his first Epistle to them, chided them for their childish sectarianism and pride. I encourage you to read I Corinthians 3:1-9 and join the ranks of those who magnify Jesus and are laboring to win a lost world to Christ.