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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Date Posted: December 3, 2023

Why does He love me so?

Remember when love first blossomed?

What about now? Is it Saturday Night Fever or is it Monday Night Football? Is it The Sound of Music or The Sound of Silence? Is it $60 a dozen or $1.50 a stem including thorns? Ideal or Idle? Which of these best describes your fellowship with your First Love, our LORD Jesus?

Those questions come from one of my very favorite devotions coming to my inbox by Alan Smith of Helen Street Church of Christ in Fayetteville, North Carolina called Thought For The Day

I cannot fathom why God loved us so much He gave His Son. Remember that first flush of love? Remember when it was so exciting to run, not walk, down that aisle to proclaim Jesus had saved you? If you are not Baptist, perhaps you proclaimed it in a different way. What ever way you declared to the world that Jesus was your Savior and that He gave you the Holy Spirit to wear as a seal upon your heart, you were in the first flush of love… all was fresh… all was exciting… The fellowship was exhilarating, the κοινωνία koinōnia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah)— meaning partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, distribution— fellowship should continue to be thrilling, but as we all know, it either fades away or it develops into something very mature and extremely satisfying.

It is like marriage in so many ways. The first blush of love is that honeymoon phase when you allow absolutely nothing to come between you and your Beloved. You yearn for that closer walk. You study His word. You follow His every step.

Our fellowship with our beloved, our betrothed should be tender, unique and should carry an inexpressible joy. God has a specific plan for our fellowship and that is why He gives us just enough light for a few steps, because His desire is for us to lean upon Him completely every day not just on Sunday. He wants us to remain in the honeymoon phase.

Our engagement ring, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and the Holy Spirit fellowships with the Father and with the Son and thus we are included in the same koinōnia. This is the vertical koinonia. How great is that! The key to this kind of koinōnia is 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous that He may forgive us the sins, and may cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confessing His word will divide the joints from the marrow, and the soul from spirit. Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is living, and powerfully working, and sharper than every two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of both soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge of the thoughts and intentions of the heart;

Having this kind of fellowship leads to such great fellowship, the soul yearns to be in the presence of the Father. We recognize the eternal quality of our souls, but our physical bodies are tied to the physical world for a little while longer to complete the work begun in us. This causes a conflict between the desire to please our LORD and the desire to be both physically and spiritually within Him. Just think how wonderful it will be when all the chains of this earth drop away and we meet Him in the air. Glorious day! But, our conversations with, our communion with Him will have to be enough for right now.

As long as we submit our will to Him, and He holds sway within our hearts and minds, our fellowship is filled from the open windows of Heaven in the form of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law. We are not above the law, nor are we beneath it. We are no longer chained to it and the consequences. As Paul quotes from Hosea,

1 Corinthians 15:55 "O death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?" Hosea 13:14 56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; 57 but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

God is able to detoxify all relationships because of our partnership with Him. He, of course, does most of the work, but we are also required to participate as well. As in, “if you abide in Me and I abide in you…” which is conditional upon our participation.

Koinōnia is not just vertical from God to us, but is horizontal. The Holy Spirit in me recognizes and fellowships with the Holy Spirit in others. This is horizontal koinōnia —with brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a very special kind of fellowship that is only shared among the joint heirs with Christ.

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and had such a keen rapport with that person there was an instant friendship? If you’ll think back, there was no pride, insecurity, insincerity, or self-absorption involved in that relationship at all. Rather, you found a lot in common. Most of the time, you find that person is Christian, too.

I always remember the time I was getting my college transcripts so I could go back to school to finish my degree. I was walking across the green and a woman was walking toward me. We started smiling at each other and then we started grinning and when we finally met each other, we clasped hands in the air and started reciting the exact same Bible verse! We hugged and then she went her way and I went mine. I never knew her name and am not sure I’d recognize her face, but I know beyond doubt that my soul will recognize her soul in Heaven. The koinōnia was so intense, I could feel the Holy Spirit in me rejoicing with the Holy Spirit in her. That was just a microscopic taste of how it will be in Heaven.

Without our fellowship with God being in perfect shape, we cannot possibly have excellent fellowship with our brothers and sisters. The “I” in me will kill it. Rather we should make sure we are at peace with the Great I Am.

The Peace Offering talked about in Leviticus 7:11 is the Fellowship offering. It is when the Israelites would sit down to a meal with the LORD, and the time spent dining was all about communing with God. Recall Jesus’ promise and blessing to the church at Laodicea, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” This is when the Soul is satisfied and content.

The Lamb has already been slain, so all we have to do is go back to the table and take our fill, but we must dine with Him to be satisfied.

(This is an updated version of a previous column from 2009)

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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