Seek fellowship with God

Why did God create us? This question has been asked for centuries and you may have even asked it yourself. We have heard God created us for His glory, to have people to love, to demonstrate His greatness, and so on. These are all undoubtedly true, but have you thought God may have also created us for fellowship?

 “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9, NASB).  In Greek, the word “fellowship” is koinonia. It also is translated as “communion.” God wants to have an intimate communion, a close fellowship with us. Remember the garden of Adam and Eve and when they sinned? Who hid? Adam and Eve. Who went looking for who? It was God looking for them. After the expulsion from the garden, after the flood, and at the time of the Exodus, God says to the people, “And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” Again, who is seeking to dwell with who? It is God-seeking man. John 1:1, 14 shares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” is the Greek skano-o. It also means to tabernacle, to tent, to dwell among. Again, the Lord is seeking us. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), which signifies that the Lord is in and with us.

God is a God of fellowship and desires to have people to be with and to love. God is love (1 John 4:8), and the nature of love is to give (John 3:16). God desires to have an intimate relationship with us through His Son, Jesus.

Do you have that intimacy with Jesus? Do you spend time with Him talking to Him? Do you seek the relationship and fellowship with God that He desires and has shown throughout history, especially on the cross?

Seek Jesus. Have fellowship with Him. It is what God wants.

Wrestling with God

In Genesis 32 we read about the strangest wrestling match in all of history, Jacob versus a divine being. Jacob returns home to Canaan with his wives and children after a 20-year absence. He is scared because his estranged brother, Esau, is coming to meet him with four hundred men. This doesn’t appear to be a welcome party; it’s an army. Jacob had tricked his Father into giving him something that would have been Esau’s birthright. The birthright provides the inheritor with the future leadership of the family and the judicial authority of his Father.
As Jacob approaches the Jabbok River, he splits his household into two camps to try and avoid complete annihilation. Jacob intends to spend the night alone, probably in desperate prayer. Scripture tells us that a strange man shows up and wrestles Jacob till daybreak. At some point during this unusual contest, Jacob realizes he is grappling with a divine being. And when God decides it’s time to end the match, he dislocates Jacob’s hip and demands release. And Jacob replies, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” This response clearly pleases God, who pronounces a blessing on Jacob. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32: 28). The blessing gives Jacob/Isreal a new identity and hope. Jacob then limps toward his tense reunion with Esau with a weakened body and a strengthened faith. Having wrestled with God, he knows his prayers regarding Esau will be answered.

Scripture shares several stories of people who wrestled with God, which ended with renewed faith; King David, Moses, Elijah, The Apostles Peter and Thomas, and the Father of the sick boy found in the 9th chapter of Mark’s Gospel. 

Is wrestling with God allowed? Depending on your understanding of who God is, you might initially think that the answer to this question is “No.” God is a lofty, powerful being you shouldn’t trifle with. So, wrestling with him seems flippant, arrogant, and even disrespectful. It looks too much like playing with or disobeying God. But we must remember: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. (Exodus 34:6).

Sometimes we don’t realize it, but we wrestle with God when considering His will; what does He want from me? We will wrestle with God when we struggle with a decision or an event. We will wrestle with God when we are facing a moral crisis. We will wrestle with God when we want to understand “Why.” Wrestling with God is OK and proper because it acknowledges we need Him. God dwells with those who are humble and repentant, and if we are His children, that means us. Scripture reminds us that God is willing to meet us in our weakness and knows us through and through. So we must bring all our cares to Him. 

Jacob limped toward his tense reunion with Esau with a weakened body and a strengthened faith. Having wrestled with God, he knew his prayers regarding Esau would be answered. Interestingly, God did not simply speak to Jacob in a dream or vision as He had at other times, reiterate His promise, and say comforting words. This time God addressed Jacob’s fear by requiring him to wrestle all night. 

Sometimes when we want God’s comfort, He sends it in unexpected and even unwanted packages. We must learn to wrestle and keep wrestling. God will meet us in our anguish, fear, and uncertainty. But He may not meet us in the way we expect or desire. You may not need soft words of comfort; you may not need to be left alone with your thoughts; you may not need sleep; you may not even need a healthy hip! But what you need is God’s blessing! 
So, when God calls you to wrestle with Him in prayer, it is an invitation to receive His blessing. Stay with Him, and don’t give up.

To Do or Not To Do

Scripture reveals that people are not basically good and that God alone is good. It also provides a moral compass to find good as God desires. However, 18th-century enlightened philosophers have convinced the Western world that human beings are born good but are corrupted by society.  

To believe people are good after all the horrors committed by human beings against other human beings throughout history is irrational. How often does the average person have to teach their child to say thank you? Most children have been bullied – physically hurt or sadistically taunted by other children.  

If people are born good, why did virtually every society in history practice slavery, which in addition to its cruelty, was so frequently accompanied by sadism? In the 20th century, more people were murdered than in any recorded century: the Holocaust, the Soviet Union’s murder of between 20-30 million innocents during Stalin’s regime; the Khmer Rouge’s murder of nearly a third of the Cambodian population; the purposeful starvation of 4-6 million Ukrainians by the Soviet Communists; the Hutu murders in Rwanda; and so on. These are only a few of humanity’s organized mass murders. Given all this evidence, why do some people believe people are born good? 

God did not place us on this earth to never know, see or do good. The Old Testament identifies at least three ways God tried to help humanity do good: 

  1. He gave humans a conscience at creation;  
  2. He revealed moral laws to Noah and his descendants after the flood; and 
  3. He gave the Ten Commandments and the large body of laws to a specific or chosen group: the Israelites. 

Yet, that was not enough to guide humanity to the way of God because their consciousness, self-interest, and evil nature distracted them from loving God. God also allowed His son’s birth, ministry, torture, death, and resurrection with a message of loving God and loving others. Jesus’ words, encapsulated in the Gospel and throughout the Bible, point toward God’s desire that we love Him with our whole being and love other as ourselves. 

Today the world is becoming eviller and more self-focused. Many have chosen to close the book (the Bible) that contains the moral guidelines for loving others. Many believe people are born good, so evil is something or someone else’s fault. When teachers and parents believe people are good, they do not feel the need to teach children to be good. Why teach what comes naturally? In schools today, there is virtually no charter education in school. Parents are more concerned about their children’s self-esteem than their self-control. They are more concerned about their grades than their goodness. Where societies believe people are basically good, they have become less religious and Bible–centred. 

The best way to make good people is through a combination of good values, good laws, and a God who commands goodness. The world would be beautiful if people lived by the 10 commandments alone. The Bible teaching about the battle for a good world is not between the individual and society, but between the individual and his or her own nature. 

Where is your moral compass pointing?
Is it  pointing toward the Word or the world?    

Becoming aware of God’s presence

EXERCISE 1: At the end of each night, ask yourself:

  • Where have I met Jesus (God or the Holy Spirit) today?
  • Where have I missed Jesus (God or the Holy Spirit today?) 

EXERCISE 2: After feeling comfortable with Exercise 1, you may want to ask yourself: 

  • What helps me pay attention to God? 
  • What hinders me from paying attention to God? 

Next, ask yourself: 

  • If I know what helps me pay attention to God, how often do I seek to engage in those activities or practices? 
  • How can I reduce or remove those hindrances if I recognize what hinders my awareness of God? 

Be realistic, select, and focus on just one help and one hindrance to avoid frustration. 


Read (Exodus 3:1-4)

Moses offers a few principles to guide our own noticing of God. First, he recognized the unusual nature of this bush. It was burning, but it was not consumed. I don’t think he glances just once or twice and say to himself, “Oh, that bush is burning.” He would have had to observe it over time to realize it was still aflame but had not consumed any branches. 
Second, this experience happened at work. Moses wasn’t engaged in worship, Bible study, or something spiritual. He was out in the fields doing his regular daily labour. This reminds us that, unlike our human tendency to designate specific times as spiritual and others as secular, God considers all of our time holy and spiritual. Because God is omnipresent, we are as likely to experience God while doing the laundry or mowing the lawn as when reading Scripture, especially if we are conscious that God always dwells in our midst.
Third, Moses’s experience demonstrates that he didn’t ignore what he saw or assume his eyes were playing tricks on him. Instead, he walked toward the burning bush to see what had caught his attention more clearly. It is not enough to become aware of God’s presence; we must act upon it to benefit from being observant of what God wants us to notice. 

Last week I spoke about Mary and Martha. Martha had invited Jesus and His disciples to dinner. Although Martha’s intentions of hospitality were good, she became distracted and focused on her preparations rather than on Jesus. Mary responded differently, as she “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” Mary’s posture of receptiveness displays the proper attitude of a disciple to the disciple’s teacher. Martha was inattentive to Jesus’s actual needs and desire for His visit, reminding us that our frenetic pace can radically reduce our awareness of Jesus even though He is plainly among us.

See tips titled Becoming aware of God’s presence.” 
I took up this practice many years ago and often had to will myself to seek God’s presence. I’m not suggesting my skill to be in God’s presence is fine-tuned like Brother Lawrence’s (Practicing the Presence of God), but I am certainly more aware of how God is everywhere. Give them a try, not just for one day but over a period of time. 


Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

God is in our midst, and we are often unaware of His presence. Since God has already revealed Himself to us, we must be alert to recognize that God is present and active in our world today. And it’s not only intense situations where we will find Him. 

Chapter 19 of 1 Kings shares the story of the prophet Elijah who flees from Jezebel to a cave on Mount Horeb. (Read 1 Kings 19:9-13). He has just been part of a miracle, and in the performance of this miracle, Elijah orders the death of Baal prophets, provoking the anger of Jezebel and causing him to flee. God questions Elijah about what he is doing in the cave and invites Elijah to hear Him. God produces a mighty wind that destroys mountains, an earthquake, and a fire, but Elijah does not hear God. In the quiet, Elijah hears a gentle whisper, leaves the cave, and receives God’s instructions. 
Sometimes our language can distort the process of perceiving Him. People say, “God really showed up in worship today.” Or, when God appears absent, “If we pray harder, maybe the Holy Spirit will show up.” This language fails to grasp the central truth of God’s omnipresence. It resembles Elijah’s experience on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal. After their initial failed efforts, including shouting at Baal, “Elijah taunts them. ‘Shout louder!’ 

We don’t need to ask God to be present because He is always present; we need to seek His presence. We must grasp this message of listening. God does not suggest that we might want to listen to Him if we have free time or nothing better to do. He says to be attentive all the time. Listen to His Word – listen to what is happening around us – to the words spoken to us – to the words we speak to others. Scripture shares, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17″.’

C.S Lewis once said:  “We may ignore God, but there is nowhere we can evade His presence. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.  The real labour is to attend to His presence, listen, watch, and respond.” Can you be still, put aside distractions and intentionally listen for God?

Being in His presence

I think every Christian’s dream is to come face-to-face with Jesus. We want to feel the power of His presence. To gaze into His eyes – to have Him speak just one word in our hearing. How great would that experience be? How changed would our lives be? 

In Luke 10:38-42, we meet two women, sisters, who were given that blessing, and we are given a lesson from their actions in His presence. Our encounter with Jesus is all about choices, and from Luke’s scripture, we see that there are two. DOING something for God and BEING with Him. 

Martha chooses to DO. The custom in her day demanded a meal for a guest, so she set herself about the task of preparing one. Yet Jesus was not looking for someone to feed Him, but for someone He could feed. Her desire to do something for Jesus was not wrong, but how often are we caught up in doing things for God and miss out on being with God? Martha’s intentions were good, and she truly desired to make Jesus welcome in her home, but we need to realize that good intentions do not always produce good results or choices. Martha was attempting to serve two masters: custom and Jesus. Notice what Jesus said in addressing her choice, “Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed….” 

Mary made a spiritual choice. In the eyes of some, she could be criticized because she chose not to bring out the china and the meatloaf. But she wasn’t being lazy. She chose based on something she saw in the presence of the Master. Maybe it was something in His nature that made her abandon the kitchen, or perhaps it was the gleam in His eye that any good teacher gets when they are allowed to teach a new student. But whatever it was, it moved her to be still in His presence. The text tells us that she sat at His feet, listening to His every word. Jesus shares, “Mary had “chosen what was better, and it will not be taken from her.” She chose to be in the presence of Jesus. 

Being with God can be challenging because we live busy lives. We can be busy doing Church and getting ready for the Sunday morning experience. We could be performing some necessary tasks on Sunday, such as leading praise, being an usher, teaching Sunday school; doing things that are ways we serve our Church and God. However, our habits and maybe our traditions are interfering with our ability to be with God. Perhaps we have gotten into a mindset that going to Church every Sunday and serving where we can, is what God wants from us, forgetting, like Martha, that we need to take time to be in God’s presence. 

It is good to attend Church, sing praise songs, and study scripture because those activities expose us to God’s word. But what about the other time during the week? Can we still be in God’s preference when working, commuting, visiting the grocery store, or engaging in some leisurely activity? Can we be in His presence more? The answer is yes (we will share more in an upcoming article). But for now, can you read/memorize Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and, during the day, reflect on these words asking yourself what they mean to you? 

“Hear, O Israel (Church): The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” 

Life demands that we make choices; that is its nature. But our soul requires that we make the right choice. Don’t forget to choose to BE with God. 

The gift of a DO-OVER

Do you remember playing a game as a child and messing up when it was your turn to do something? You missed the ball or fanned on a shot. You’d scream, “I wasn’t ready – let me try again.” All of your friends would yell in unison, “NO DO-OVERS.” Begging for mercy from your friends, you pleaded to try again. 

In 1920 an individual from Montreal was playing a game of Golf and flubbed his shot. He immediately bent over, picked up his ball, and placed it on the tee.

He said to his friends that he needed a “correction shot.” However, his friends thought it was more fitting to rename this “correction shot” after the guy who messed up “Buddy Mulligan.”  In Golf, a do-over or mulligan is allowed in polite settings but not in competitions where money and prestige are on the line. 

Sometimes in life, we get a chance for a do-over. We may be allowed a few do-overs when training until we finish the activity. However, DO-OVERS don’t happen in real life. We cannot return to the day we took our first drink and prevent our addiction. We can’t take back our snide remarks to our spouse, children or neighbour when we leave home in the morning. We can’t take back our rude behaviour towards the clerk who recently served us coffee. The best we can do and must do is to respond differently in the future. 

Easter reminds us that God loves us and wants us to succeed in building our relationship with Him; He allows us a form of a mulligan. When we live a life that does not include Him, we can be given a DO-OVER by the Holy Spirit, who invites us to know God. When we accept the invitation to be a disciple of Christ, we are reminded that when we mess up in the future, realize it, repent and seek Him, we are forgiven. He says we can start fresh with Him and try to be the obedient, loving child He created us to be. Easter also reminds us that all creation will get a DO-OVER. A world where there will be no more suffering, wars, poverty, and jealousy. The book of Revelations tells us that when Christ returns, “there will be a new heaven and a new earth.” (Rev 21a)

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” 2 Peter 3:9. While we still have breath in our lungs, we will have a patient God who in His mercy and grace, will forgive us for our sins and offer us the DO-OVER to draw us close to Him. Accept the Gift of the “DO-OVER” while it is being offered. 

Why did the cheering stop?

On that Palm Sunday as Jesus approached Jerusalem, there were several things that He was aware of. He knew the conditions surrounding the people and the state of their hearts. 

The Jews found themselves under heavy Roman oppression. There were heavy taxes, restrictions, and numerous executions using crucifixion, and Jesus knew all about those things. The Jews were in search of someone. They desired a king, a conqueror, someone to set them free. They had seen the mighty works of this man Jesus. They were witnesses to Him restoring sight to blind people. They saw the evidence of Him healing the lame. They saw Him feed the multitude with a few loafs of bread and some fish and had leftovers to spare. They heard about Him raising Lazarus from the dead. They listened to Him teach with authority. Indeed, with power and authority like that, Jesus was undoubtedly the one who would set them free. 

So, Jesus came to Jerusalem, and the crowds began to cheer. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowds waved palm branches, a long-standing symbol of Jewish nationalism. They shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” Cheering, praising, exalting. But, during Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, he gathered no troops. He didn’t lead a revolt. He didn’t do what they expected. Instead, 

He drove the moneychangers out of the temple. He paid tribute to Caesar. He taught that giving out of poverty is worth more than giving out of abundance. He taught that to be great; you must be a servant. Jesus did everything the people didn’t want, so the cheering eventually stopped. 

Why did the cheering stop? “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:44). They stop cheering because their worldly circumstances blinded them from the Kingdom at hand and the Messiah who was revealing it. Sadly, we are the same way today. When you experience trials or certain hardships, suffer through various difficulties, and get your eyes on your circumstances; when your focus is on everything around you that is wrong, something happens. Your prayer starts to change. Your prayer shifts from one place to another, and it becomes, “Lord, deliver me, help me, fight for me, uplift me,” instead of, “Lord, change me, use me, grow me through these things, and let the glory be for yourself.” 

It’s incredible that when things go our way, when God does what we want, and Jesus rises to our cause; it’s easy to cheer. But what about when He doesn’t do these things? What happens when you face oppression? What happens when you experience troubles? Too often, the cheering comes to a stop. Words of adoration and praise quickly fade when you meet life as it is. Sometimes God does give us what we want, but you better believe; He always gives us what we need. Sometimes when we experience a little problem, our wants and desires blur our vision of our real needs. 

Too often, the desire is for God to change the circumstances instead of God changing the person in those circumstances, and sadly, it has an effect. In time the cheering stops. You lose sight of Him and His purpose and diminish your worship of Him. You go through the motions of service and praise Him for what you want Him to do instead of praising Him for who He is. Eventually, our heart hardens, and we stop cheering for the blessing we have, and the salvation offered. 

Easter is a time to remember the events leading up to Jesus’s arrest, brutalization, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. But it is more important to remember His purpose: to free us from the hold of sin and reconcile humanity with God so we can live both this life and our eternal one in the presence and under the grace and blessings of God. It’s time to let up a cheer knowing that God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die for you. 


Theologians describe temptation as the desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment that threatens long-term goals. It can be a distraction that prevents us from doing what is right. We can be tempted to buy things, eat things, write something on social media, say things to family or friends and so on, things that feel good at the time, but later we regret what occurred. Temptation turns our hearts away from God’s truth and towards a self-serving, self-centred attitude. 

Since humanity’s arrival on the earth, Satan has sought to distract us from God’s plan. He attacks our belief system and even uses God’s word to trick us. He tempts us to think because God loves everyone, we are all going to heaven. He will tempt us to reason that if we do good things and behave as good people, we can earn God’s invitation to eternity. He will draw us into ignoring God by aiding us to make excuses for why we don’t read our bibles, why we can’t pray or even why we can skip or even avoid going to church. He will distract us from reflecting on Easter’s significance and God’s salvation plan. 

Over the past few weeks, our churches have shared much about Jesus’ earthly ministry leading to His final days on this earth.  We need to hear these stories to remind us that God has a plan involving us that started in the Garden, got messed up, and has been corrected by Jesus. We must remember that Jesus is the key to humanity being with God for all eternity. We need to hear that God’s plan for us requires us to believe and trust Him.  

Our pre-easter stories remind us that Jesus allowed Himself to be taken prisoner, abused, crucified, and murdered as the final human ceremonial blood sacrifice. We need reminding that Jesus rose after the third day, ascended to heaven, and that, as He promised, He will return to bring all His followers to eternity with the Father. We need to remember that scripture says we are sinners, and we need to repent of those sins. We need to hear Jesus say, “our sins have been forgiven, and that belief in Him is the only way to a future with Him.” 

God brought his creation into a garden He prepared for us. He offered us everything we needed, including daily interaction with Him, and He asked us to be obedient. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to believe they could have more than God offered, resulting in their expulsion from paradise. We must be retold how we bear the scar of a flawed human nature which suggests we don’t need God. God tells us that belief in Jesus is the start of our reconnection to Him. We need to hear that God allowed Jesus to be the final sacrifice and that there are no actions we can personally do to earn us heaven.

Whether you understand or accept it, we are being tempted constantly to lose our self-control: to give into everything; to have no opinion or belief of our own, to let the world tell you what is right; to see Easter as another holiday, and to ignore God’s plan of salvation. We will never avoid temptation, but God has told us: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

You must and can resist with the power of the Holy Spirit and get your mind back to what is true. Take time to read Jesus’ stories to see what is true. Turn your eyes towards heaven and seek the truth. See Easter for what it is; victory, freedom from the evil one, and a fulfilling future.