Month: November 2015

Rejoice in your weakness

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to rejoice in your weakness. The world would have you believe that any and all weakness that deprive you of fleshly happiness is bad, wrong, and unloving if caused by someone else. This is the grossest of errors at every level. Unfortunately, we Christians can easily buy into this wrong way of thinking if we are not careful to protect our minds through Scripture.

Rejoice in your weaknessWe tend to view our weaknesses as debilitating, and of no value. God, on the other hand, pro-actively employs our weaknesses as His vehicle, or tool, to achieve His glory in ways we never imagined possible. The Lord takes our inabilities, our painful struggles, even our deficient efforts, He adds His behind-the-scenes sovereign power, He stirs peoples’ hearts by His Holy Spirit, He coordinates events and so-called chance happenings, resulting in His providence – the working out of His perfect will in our lives. Most of the time, we’re not aware of His miraculous power at work, however, we often have the joy of seeing the results.

Our Saviour is not a harsh task master, rather, Christ is our high priest who… sympathises …with our weaknesses, …who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Be encouraged to view your struggles as your Heavenly Father views them, as divinely appointed and customised mechanisms for squashing self-dependence while increasing awareness and reliance upon the Lord’s intervening sufficiency’s.

The apostle Paul explains that while in Asia, the affliction they experienced… caused them to feel …so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8). Paul’s attitude toward his own vulnerabilities, difficulties, sufferings, sense of exasperation, and general human weaknesses, are explained in 2 Corinthians 12:10; For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. Paul recognised the essential opportunities for Christ’s purposes and glory offered by difficulties. He also understood that only through personal weakness can Christ’s strength be experienced, causing contentment. What a divinely difficult concept for our human hearts to accept.

James, the brother of Jesus, exhorts us to Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Realising our frequent failure to understand our struggles and inabilities, James offers spiritual relief by identifying that  If any of you lacks wisdom… in relation to your trials …let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:2-5).

The apostle Peter, who knew the crushing reality of failure in his Christian life, uplifts his readers by reassuring them that God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).

When we are exhausted of all our ideas, energies, and resources, only then are we set free from self to lean in dependant faith upon Christ. Through prayer, we discover consolation in Christ and solace in His majestic character. Through meditation upon His Word, we find comfort from His sovereignty, we find relief through His providential working within our circumstances, we find peace and joy from the mind governing truths of Scripture, and we find hope in His Lordship over time and destiny.

Resting in Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

Are you Christian? That means you’re a Theologian

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I play guitar and I enjoy it, a lot. In fact, based on what I’ve accomplished I think it’d be fair to say I’m quite good at it. But this doesn’t mean my skills came easy. To get to where I am has required countless hours of dedicated and disciplined practice. It’s the same with my Bible studies. It’s something I enjoy a lot, yet it still requires discipline and conscious dedication.

I say this to dispel a myth that unfortunately creates two categories of Christians. That is one of normal, run of the mill, average Christians. Then there are those who are theologians. It hasn’t been uncommon for me to be talking with a fellow believer about the things of God when they interject with the remark “Oh, but you’re a theologian”. The confusion here is one Christian is essentially telling another Christian: “Oh, but you study all that Christian stuff about God”. By thinking they’re acknowledging something unique, they’re in fact revealing a failure on their part. And this is my point: Christians, by definition, are theologians.

In his book The Forgotten Trinity, James White states: “If you are a Christian, you are a theologian. You have no choice. Theology is simply knowing about God. In fact, since Christians are called to grow in their knowledge of God, part of the very goal of the Christian life is theology. Theology is a normal part of the Christian life—a part that gives rise to everything else.”  Studying theology is pivotal to being a Christian as it is the study of God. A Christian loves God and longs to know more about Him and therefore studies Him making the title ‘Christian’ unavoidably synonymous with ‘Theologian’.

In an attempt to present the heart of the Christian faith the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church saying, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul was laying out a foundational theological conviction that exclaims a desire of pursuit, understanding and a clinging to. This is the practise of theology. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33).

We live in a time where the mysteries of God’s will have been revealed to us, His saints (Ephesians 1:9; Colossians 1:26). We can study the depths of the good news – God’s completed work – which the prophets eagerly searched out (1 Peter 1:10) and longed to see (Matthew 13:17). Even the Angels were kept from knowing this good news that has now been revealed to us (1 Peter 1:12). We not only have the overwhelming blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding us through His all sufficient word. But, we have the works of 2000 years worth of Spirit filled theologians and preachers at our fingertips. The Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the very Savour of our souls who took our punishment while we were still sinners has flung wide the doors calling us to learn more about Him. The invite could not be more appealing.

God Bless you and may you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (1 Peter 3:18)

Bevin

Appreciation of being in Christ

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage your appreciation of being “in Christ”. Appreciation, is one of those words we often associate with how we respond when getting what we want. Well, the opposite is true for the Believer! We appreciate God because we didn’t get what we wanted, or deserved. Instead, we got Christ! Furthermore, getting Christ was  purely because of God fulfilling His loving, sovereign will in our lives, and that for His glory!

Appreciation of being in ChristWe all used to be among those who lived for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:21). ​ You and I alike were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked (Ephesians 2:1-2). But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, …made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2 :4-6).

In 1 Corinthians 1:28-31 the apostle Paul heralds a profound gospel crescendo to the Corinthian Christians, declaring the staggering accomplishments of God, through Christ, for His glory and our blessing. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  And because of him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:28-31).

Let’s rise in appreciation today, speaking well of God, because He robbed us of all personal boasting by sending His Son to become wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption for us. Christ became everything that we could not do for ourselves, nor did we want to. Christ  fulfilled every requirement of His Father on the cross, meaning , we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).  His substitutional death and resurrection has become for us everything the Father required, yet we were unable to satisfy. What’s more, God’s choosing of us had nothing to do with any beauty or merit on our part, but wholly because of His gracious mercy – His amazing love.

The more we focus on Christ, the greater our sense of appreciation becomes, because self-righteousness is excluded, starved of its boasting. Don’t allow the worldly attitude of thinking that the Christian life is all about you to have any place in your heart. This wrong perspective will deprive you of the blessings that come from selflessness. Rather, Christ centred thinking elevates God’s glory while growing our grateful appreciation for His undeserved salvation and the security we enjoy in Christ.

Remember, appreciation:

  • Keeps our spiritual perspective correctly focused on Christ
  • Expresses and extends our joy and hope
  • Develops our longing for Christ’s return
  • Draws the curiosity of the unsaved people you rub shoulders with, creating opportunities to share the gospel with them
  • Is a passionate expression of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, as He focuses everything on Christ
  • Unites believers together in service for the Lord and gratitude for each other
  • Enriches our sanctification and spiritual maturity

Together For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

Persevere in the faith of Jesus Christ

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to persevere in the faith of Jesus Christ. We live in a world pervaded by floating morals. We change whatever, whenever, and as often as deemed necessary to maximise pleasure. If this ever-floating attitude is allowed to exist in our lives, or in the church, the very essence of permanency of faith in Christ is lost. The best we can hope for is a floating, vague alignment with Jesus, which obviously, will come to an end when we think there is a better offer from elsewhere promising greater pleasure.

Persevere in the faith of Jesus ChristGod’s Word speaks often of “steadfastness”, that growing quality of hanging in there, of stickability. Stickability best expresses genuine faith in Christ because it reflects God’s stickability in maintaining our secure position in Christ. It’s the Lord who is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3), and even on those occasions when we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

As the apostle Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, seeking that the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:5), we acknowledge our dependence upon the Lord to generate within us that determination to persevere. James, the brother of Jesus said, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4). Here’s the point beloved, if we run away, we not only call into question the legitimacy of our salvation in the first place, but we rob ourselves of the opportunity to mature and attain greater Christ likeness. By running, hiding, or isolating ourselves from the Body of Christ, we steal away the potential for realising how we lack nothing in Christ, regardless of our circumstances. But worst of all, we rob God of His glory in the midst of our trial. And glory is what happens when He makes us complete through perseverance.

Even during the most difficult times, God’s sovereignty is dominant because after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10). Our Lord’s persevering grace predetermines that no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is the Holy Spirit’s securing, liberating, and persevering ministry within us, as we believers …beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

Today, let’s yield to the Lordship of Christ, through the working of His Spirit, to make us persevere. Persevere for God’s glory, persevere for your sanctification toward Christ likeness and maturity, and persevere to encourage and embolden other believers in Christ. Persevere to challenge the unsaved in their lack of faith and emptiness of life. Persevere to leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren. Persevere for the sack of building strong marriages and resilient families that stick together in unity. Persevere as an act of praise to our risen Saviour, for perseverance in Christ is RIGHT!

Remember, perseverance:

  • Glorifies God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Fuels assurance of salvation and builds the realisation of security in Christ
  • Speaks a powerful testimony to the unbelieving people in your life of the authenticity of the living Christ
  • Encourages fellow believers, particularly those going through difficulties
  • Is a testimony to all angelic beings of the powerful working of the risen Lord Jesus Christ within you

Together For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

God’s Peace

Share this post:
image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you in God’s peace. Often misunderstood, the peace of God is central to the Christian faith, with approximately 340 mentions in Scripture (ESV), peace is obviously important.

God's PeacePeace is the one thing that most humans long for. Some think we can purchase it, we take holidays and buy property to accommodate it, we acquire countless possessions hoping they will stimulate it, we consume medication and attend counselling to induce it, yet it often eludes us. We evaluate relationships by its presence, or lack thereof. We change, rearrange, move and manipulate any and everything in life to get it, yet peace cannot be found in any of these things. Sometimes we go to extraordinary lengths attempting to convince ourselves and others that we have it, all the time our denial of its absence only increases the emptiness and lack of it.

God never asks us to be at peace with Him, rather, He wants to be at peace with us, so He made it possible. In our natural state, we enflame His righteous anger with our sin which violates His holiness (Isaiah 64:5-7). Our attempts to do righteous deeds are like a polluted garment to Him, meaning, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This is where God stepped in, to do what we could not do, to make peace with God through the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).

New Testament peace speaks of inner quietness and rest, where two are set at one again. Peace with God begins at the Cross because Christ himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:14), making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20). Putting our dependence in Jesus Christ, who took our place on the cross, meaning we have been justified (Acquitted of guilt) through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Christ’s redemption (Payment of our sin debt), His reconciliation (Exchange of our sin for His righteousness), is activated within us by the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment we believe in Christ for forgiveness – that’s Christ’s foundation for everlasting peace. God alone is the author of authentic peace which is supreme in its governing capacity, functioning at the soul level, permeating all spiritual and emotional layers of our hearts and minds, even impacting our bodies.

Philippians 4:6-7 details how we are able to experience daily peace in spite of circumstances. First, choose to not be anxious about anything. Secondly, we hand over everything in our lives, particularly those things which we are inclined to worry about, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving… letting ….your requests be known to God. Resulting in …the peace of God, the realisation of inner rest in oneness with the God you’ve just been praying to. This inner, spiritual calmness, which surpasses all understanding, will guard (be a sentinel to) your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God’s peace is relational, impacting everyone we rub shoulders with, as we strive for peace with everyone… (Hebrews 12:14), turn away from evil and do good; …seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11), …aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11),

Today, I pray you enjoy fulfilling God’s purpose, let the peace of Christ rule (umpire) in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15). Jesus comforting words spoken to the disciples remain true for us today; Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27), I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Remember, God’s peace:

  • Enables joy and empowers rejoicing
  • Grants salvation’s assurance and convinces of eternal security
  • Motivates prayer and grows confidence in the God who answers
  • Develops trust that sees past the present circumstances
  • Inspires loyalty, perseverance, and holiness
  • Nurtures the desire to see life as God sees it
  • Stretches faith for God’s glory and renown
  • Sacrificially serves so that others can experience God’s peace also
  • Grows a healthy discontentment with this world and it’s sin
  • Longs to be with the peace giver – Come Lord Jesus!

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Together For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

  • Sundays @ 309 Welcome Bay Rd, Tauranga (Welcome Bay School Hall)