Sharing Life Experiences

“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” 1 John 1:3

John wrote this several decades after Pentecost and we notice that he writes that his fellowship with Jesus and the Father is still current. His desire is that all believers grow in appreciation the abiding presence of both the Father and Jesus Christ. In his Gospel John records Jesus’ words, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). We know that on trusting the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer but we may be less aware that the Father and the Son also want, not only to indwell, but also to make their home with us. That means living together as one sharing life’s experiences.

The nature of pride will attempt to divert us from personal intimacy with Jesus in a way that may appear spiritual but is not. It is possible that we may hide behind Bible knowledge, theological correctness or even ministry enthusiasm so that we appear spiritual but in fact have little if any intimacy with Jesus Christ. Bible knowledge, theological correctness and passion in ministry are very important but they are not an end in themselves.

When a young man is attracted to a young woman or a young woman attracted to a young man they would never be satisfied with just gaining knowledge about the other person. Knowing their likes and dislikes and other personal details may be helpful in the relationship but they are only a means to knowing the other person intimately, not the goal. An intimate relationship will require sharing time and experiences together and this will be the desire of their hearts.

I have known several Christians who are genuinely born of God and have a love for Jesus but when the conversation comes around to intimacy with Jesus they revert to Bible knowledge, doctrinal accuracy or ministry enthusiasm in an attempt to express their spirituality. These are the people to whom John has written this letter. No marriage would be at all satisfactory if the two parties never spent time together and shared life experiences. Neither will Christians be satisfied unless they are walking with Jesus, spending time and sharing life experiences with Him.

This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). This is only possible by spending time together and sharing experiences. We must resist the temptation to hide behind Bible knowledge, theological correctness or passionate ministry when we claim spirituality. They are not the measure. Abiding in (sharing our lives with) Christ is the measure (John 15:5).

“And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4).

Eternal Life

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3

Our concept of what is eternal life may actually fall short by a considerable margin. It is possible that we mention eternal life as a substitute word for salvation. In 1 John 5:11 we read, “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” Our concept is that having received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour we have also inherited eternal life. It is helpful for us to give considerable time and meditation as we read the Bible as to what that actually means. It is not synonymous with salvation or a change in our way of life but it is an integral part of salvation.

In the verse at the head of this article and reading it in the context of Jesus’ prayer to the Father for Himself, His disciples and all those who will believe in Him, we have a more clear expression of what eternal life is. It is not just about going to heaven and it is not just about being saved from sin and its consequences. It is what Paul refers to as being made alive to God (Ephesians 2:1) which means that we are now able to having a living relationship and fellowship with God.

In this prayer Jesus is not praying for our salvation. The subjects of this prayer are already forgiven and saved. He is praying that they would have the same intimate relationship with the Father as He does and with Himself also. As we read the Gospel accounts we may be inclined to be a little jealous of the disciples who saw and spoke with Jesus every day. They saw the miracles and they heard His teaching first hand. However, though He is not physically present with us, as He was with them, He is none-the-less present with us every moment of every day.

Eternal life is the experience of living with Jesus and the Father day by day. In 14:23 John records Jesus saying, “If anyone loves Me he will keep My word; and My Father will love him and make Our home with him.” This is the closest personal relationship that we can experience in this earthly life.

In the later years of his life after all the other apostles have been killed and long gone, John writes, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

Eternal life is a Gift in Christ, not apart from Christ, but it is not just a ticket to heaven that we keep in our pocket ready for future inspection. Eternal life is living in fellowship with Jesus Christ and the Father by the Holy Spirit here and now and forever. The potential has been ours from the moment we first believed. We now have the opportunity of nourishing it to maturity in readiness for that great day when we see Jesus face to face.

His Voice

Jesus said to them, “have you never read in the Scriptures: …” Matthew 21:42

This is just one of six times in Matthew’s Gospel that he records Jesus making this statement. It is quite an extraordinary thing that Jesus would say this to the chief priests, scribes and elders (vv 15, 23) who would have known the Scriptures better than anyone else. They most certainly had read and studied the passages that Jesus quoted to them and may even have memorised them. Their problem was that they had not understood them as applying to Jesus. They did not want to recognise Jesus as Messiah no matter what the evidence from Scripture or from His words and deeds. They did not want to recognise His authority.

It is possible for us to put blinkers on at a superficial understanding of Scripture and become blind to a more complete comprehension that will give us a greater appreciation of what we are reading. How often does it happen that, having read a passage of Scripture many times over the years that we gain a greater appreciation of what is written? An oft repeated statement is, “I have read that many times but I never saw that before.” It isn’t that we misunderstood it before but that we now have a greater appreciation of what is written.

The reason Jesus frequently quotes the Scriptures and why Matthew records them is so that people might begin to make the comparison and connection of the Scriptures with Jesus. When they do, with honest and open hearts, the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth concerning Jesus.

If we are content with our early understanding of Scripture we will likely become like the scribes and chief priests and focus on outward religious performance rather than heart intimacy with Jesus. It is a trap awaiting any of us. Jesus is not a set of rules. He is a living Person with whom we may live every moment of every day. Jesus said, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He will make His home in our hearts. WOW!

The scribes, chief priests and the elders knew the Scriptures well but they did not recognise who Jesus is. As it was for them it is possible for us to understand a literal rendering of the Scriptures but not know the Lord Jesus. It is possible for us to know the Scriptures but not be intimate with Him. The answer to this situation is found in Jesus’ words to the church in Laodicea, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. It isn’t the one who hears the knock only but the ones who hears His voice that opens the door. What is the difference, you ask? The one who hears His voice recognises a familiar friend because of a previous intimate relationship; “they know His voice” (John 10:3-4).

Run to Him

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” John 1:11

People, especially children, can be unpredictable and we may often be surprised by an unexpected reaction. My grandchildren have often surprised me with their reactions when I meet them. Sometimes they will run up to have a hug or tell me something that is important to them. On other occasions they may be a little indifferent or they may even run away.

When they come running to me for a hug you can imagine the great joy and pleasure that it gives me. At the other end of the scale, you can imagine the disappointment when they do something that discourages intimacy at that time. Each child has their own personality so I recognise that they won’t express their relationship to me in the same way and the way they do will change as they mature.

Our heavenly Father will also experience joy and grief when we act like children; sometimes we run to Him and other times we keep distant. All the time He wants to be close and intimate with us. If our hearts grieve when our child or grandchild keeps distant from us how much more does our heavenly Father grieve especially if we are giving our affections to another?

The words in the verse above are among the saddest that we can read in the Bible. Jesus came to His people, both Jew and Gentile, but they rejected Him. On the cross He was rejected by all those He came to save. He bore our sin on the cross but not ours only but that of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17) and to all who will receive Him He will receive and create new in His family of true brethren.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

It is possible for us to be distracted at Christmas time to the point where we do not run into the arms of Jesus but rather to the gods of this world. The world has its portrait of Christmas which is only a fairy tale. If we allow our hearts to be turned from the Lord and our activity focussed on the world’s values and activities, the Lord we will grieve in His heart.  Just as a child who resists the affection of a parent or grandparent can grieve them so we may grieve our Saviour.

It will require spiritual discernment to keep our focus on things that are of God and from things that are of the world but if our desire from the heart is for the Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit will enable us to do so.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Faithful Counsel

“They did not ask counsel of the Lord” Joshua 9:14

As we read the book of Joshua and come to this episode in his life and that of the other leaders we may think that they were a little slow in learning as they had the same problem not long before when they were going against the city of Ai. But before we cast the first stone we best take a careful look at ourselves. How often do we go ahead presuming on the grace of God and Christ’s presence based on our own knowledge, wisdom or previous experience?

Joshua and his leaders were taken in by a well planned deception. On the surface everything had the appearance of being genuine and straight forward. This is the kind of deception that works best. If things don’t appear genuine the deception doesn’t usually work.

If we reflect on our own lives we may be able to identify occasions when we have proceeded on the basis that everything looked genuine and have not sought counsel from the Lord with the result that we have been deceived. We may also discover occasions when we have made some attempt at asking counsel from the Lord but not taken the time to wait for a response.

The historical accounts of episodes in Joshua’s life are recorded so that we might learn both the ways of fallen man and the ways of God. God has not changed and neither has the nature of fallen mankind. The devil is called the deceiver for good reason. He has not changed either.

The notion that we only bother God with big, important or first time decisions makes us vulnerable to the devil’s deceptions. It allows us to live apart from intimacy with Jesus Christ. It allows us to live in pride thinking we have done some service for Christ when He wants us to serve with Him. We pat ourselves on the back but we have acted independently of Christ.

What looked straightforward to Joshua and the other leaders turned out to be a nightmare for the whole nation. Joshua and the other leaders rightly bore the brunt of the people’s complaining and accusation (v 18).

Israel later enjoyed success in overcoming the cities in the land “because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (10:42). The Lord fought for Israel not just because they knew the will of the Lord and were acting in obedience to that will; He fought for them because they went forward with the Lord leading and not for the Lord in His absence. Israel learned the hard way that going ahead of Him led to disaster.

Jesus reminded His disciples that they could succeed in nothing for the kingdom of God without Him being with them and at the head (John 15:4-8).

What a Friend

“You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends” John 15:14-15

There are two different kinds of relationship in mind here; that of a master and slave and that of friends. In the religions of the world the master and slave relationship prevails but that is not the case in true Christianity. Unfortunately there are many Christians who have a master and servant mindset with regard to their relationship with God. That kind of relationship will provoke concepts of serving to gain favour or some other kind of reward. In the work force we call these promotion and higher pay.

The relationship of servant and master does not require love or even friendship. It is a commercial relationship. A person serves another for what they can get out of it. If they are not getting what they want they will choose another master. So we see that the master and servant relationship does not require loyalty or sacrifice either.

Is this concept contrary to Jesus words in verse 14, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you”? From this verse in isolation one may think that if they are an obedient servant that will make them a friend of Jesus. Indeed, that may be the very reward such a person desires. This is a wonderful desire but is it the way to obtain friendship of Jesus?

The nature of friendship is that of equals sharing their lives but how can God in the Person of Jesus Christ be considered an equal with a sinner?

On one occasions I was employed by a man who I considered a friend then – and still do. So far as being men before God we are equal but our roles within the organisation were very different. The same is true of my relationship with Jesus. He says that it is possible for us to be friends even though there is a great difference in our roles within His church. It is possible because of the incarnation. Jesus left His glory with the Father and took on humanity. In that, we are equally human. If not, then Jesus could never atone for our sin.

It is Jesus who declares that we can be friends with Him. It is not only possible but Jesus’ desire and that can been seen in His prayer in John 17 and especially verses 21-23.

The relationship of friends is very different to that of master and slave. Friends serve one another for what they can give not for what they can get. There is also love, involving sacrifice, and loyalty in friendship. Friends share the same interests and love being in company with each other.

Of course, among people there are degrees of friendship but as we read the broader context of this passage including Jesus’ prayer in chapter seventeen it is clear that Jesus desires that we have the most intimate of friendships with Him. As a friend of Jesus we will serve Him out of love and not out of duty or for some reward. As friends do, Jesus tells us His plans for the future. He warns us of what lies ahead so that we can allow Him to prepare us for them (cf. Genesis 18:17; James 2:23; John 16:13).


“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” Psalm 34:8 (source:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”
Psalm 34:8

Saturday night we sometimes treat ourselves to chocolate; “Just three pieces each,” we declare, “and we’ll have some more another night.” An hour later and the whole block has gone. Another night we might open a bag of cashew nuts with the declaration that we will only have a handful each. Three handfuls later we lock the remainder away where they are not easily accessible to discourage further pilfering. Does this sound familiar in your home? Maybe you are more disciplined but you know the feeling that goes with foods that are more-ish.

While many people still want to debate the existence of God many others have discovered that He can be known, loved and enjoyed. Perhaps those who find Him the most more-ish are those who have suffered in some way in this fallen world. They have tasted Him in a way that others have not and long for more of His intimate and comforting fellowship. The Psalmist knew this well when he penned, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1, 2). He longed to be in God’s presence. Peter wrote of this longing for the Lord, “… as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2, 3). This comes from the heart of one who really knows the Lord Jesus. Again, the Psalmist writes, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).

The writer of Hebrews tells us that some taste the word of God and find it unpalatable and reject it and Him. They never know what it is to have intimacy with the Lord (Hebrews 6:4-6). They choose to love the world rather than God.

Those who have truly received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour discover that He is a true friend who loves them and desires to share their life in every aspect. Their appetite for His company and fellowship cannot be satiated. Chocolates and nuts will eventually fill us up (even if our taste buds still want more) but we will never get to a place where we have had enough of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the contrary, the one who has received more of Him will have an even greater thirst for more. On the one hand He satisfies our every longing but on the other hand He becomes even the more more-ish.

“O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water”
Psalm 63:1