Month: March 2016

God’s Grace

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I wish to encourage you in God’s grace. In this self-righteous world, grace is given little consideration. Why? Because the world thinks it deserves every nice and good thing it gets. Self-righteousness blinds us to our need of grace. In its simplest form, grace speaks of undeserved kindness. It is the expression of God’s mercy as He interacts with mankind. It’s the motivating strength energising Christians to obedience of Christ. It always works powerfully to accomplish God’s will and purposes, even though we often fail to see or understand them (Ephesians 1:7-10). God’s grace cannot be outdone, for “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20), showing His tenacity in expressing love where love is not wanted.

Grace is God’s underserved loving mercy which motivated Him to speak “to us by his Son” Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). Christ brought salvation to this world, and into our lives. We are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). God never looked at this sinful world and felt overwhelmed by the world’s worthiness of salvation. No, gracious love, holy justice, and unequalled mercy, motivated Him to send His Son “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Consequently, the first priority of grace is to introduce the sinner to their Saviour, Jesus Christ, drawing them to repentance of their sin and to surrender under the Lordship of Christ (Romans 10:9-10).

Concluding his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul summarises the truths Titus was to teach, encourage and correct the church with. Every facet of spiritual living flows out from these truths; “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

Having redeemed the penitent sinner from all wickedness, having inputted Christ’s righteousness, having indwelt the new born saint with the Holy Spirit, they are pure and acceptable in God’s sight. Now, “ if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The regenerated sinner no longer looks like the world. Rather, they look like Christ, although dimly at first, the Holy Spirit works sanctification enabling them to be transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God’s grace continues with persevering and purifying purpose, steering the believer away from ungodly and worldly passions (ongoing repentance). Those desires which do not reflect the character of God, those passions with no boundaries, those unrighteous attitudes, thoughts and words which express worldly values, they must die under grace. In Christ, grace replaces our old way of thinking with the Lord’s new nature and values, new motives with new attitudes. Grace inspires the believer to “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

I pray that today, in our lives “as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong        www.bbf.net.nz

Bay Bible Fellowship - Focus on God's Grace

 

Does the Gospel You Believe Require a Crucified and Risen Saviour?

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Easter is a good time to reflect and reset our motives in line with the truth of the Gospel. So, be patient with me and hear my plea in saying that the Gospel is not living a pleasant and blessed life.  It is not attracting or declaring favour over circumstances, having a better job or pay increase.  It is not speaking over a $100 note in the eager expectation to get rich, having extra anointing and gifts nor receiving a unique calling.  It is not releasing apostolic or prophetic authority over the earth.  It is not being made for greatness or finding our purpose.  It is not the removal of a headache, backache, having both legs being the same length or any other kind of physical healing.  Nor is it experiencing emotional worship and growing deeper in our spiritual pursuits.   It is not working to gain higher intimacy with God.  It is not having visions and heavenly downloads while growing large decked out churches with refined systems and procedures.  It is not the infiltration and commandeering of the marketplace.  It is not the annihilation of world hunger and the ushering in of global peace.  Nor is it the march for sexual and racial equality.  It is not being a prime exegete or masterful theologian.  Nor is it being a skilled apologist who’s well read in textual criticism nor any ability to cut another down in a memory verse sword fight.

The truth is, I do not need a crucified and risen saviour to accomplish any of the above. But to stand before a holy and righteous God – the creator of all things, I need …that which is of first importance: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification (Romans 4:25). The holy and righteous creator of all things will one day come to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). Yet the perfect love of God has cast out all fear of judgement (1 John 4:18) for those of us covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). And if we’re ever tempted to change or add to this good news then all we’ve done is proven that we have not come to understand the gospel and the weight of what Christ has accomplished.

Please, I ask that if you have in any way changed or added to the simplicity of the gospel, that you repent and strive to align yourself with the truth of God’s word.

May we all find rest in the complete and sufficient work of Christ this Easter.

To God be the Glory – Bevin.

Walk in the Joy of Christ

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I wish to encourage you to walk in the joy of Christ. New Testament joy speaks of cheerfulness, calm delight and gladness. For the Christian, joy is both an unavoidable result of salvation, while also being a discipline of daily walking with the Lord. The writer of Hebrews focuses our attention on the author and example of joy, writing; Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

Solomon realised that a glad heart makes a cheerful face… (Proverbs 15:13). Genuine joy in the Lord Jesus Christ migrates from the heart to the face, and the world will see it. After all, we were dead in our trespasses, yet God made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:5). Although we were once separated from Christ, alienated… strangers… having no hope and without God… But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:12-13). As born-again believers in Jesus Christ as Lord, we have many present and eternal reasons for joy because it is the Lord who has made …known to me (us) the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalms 16:11).

Joy in Christ is not based upon the temporary experiences of life. Experiences are the wrong foundation for faith, that’s why some seem to fall away from Jesus as soon as trials come along (Matthew 13:20-21). No, our joy grows out of deep belief, repentant dependence upon Christ, from our surrenderedness in obedience to Jesus’ Lordship, upon our submission to the authority of God’s written Word, the Bible. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

In fact, our joy is the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. As He controls us we manifest the fruit of the Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians to …be filled (controlled) with the Spirit, resulting with believers communicating with …one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:18-21).

As believers, our joy is in reality the Lord’s joy. His Holy Spirit generates the joy, the Word of God fuels the joy, and our surrenderedness expresses our faith that works in synchronism with the will of God to accomplish all this in His name and for His glory.

Unfortunately, we’re able to interrupt the joy of the Lord by resisting His sanctify work, by superimposing our wills, our desires, our expectations, and our methods of dealing with life; we usurp His authority with our reasoning. Nothing is more effective at this than simply refusing to change while expecting others the change.

Today, I encourage you to surrender, to love, and to forgive as you have been forgiven. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. God will be glorified, the Body of Christ will be built up, unbelievers will witness the power of the gospel, and you will experience the Joy of the Lord.

Together for Christ:    Lincoln Forlong

www.bbf.net.nz

Be Consistent in Christ

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I wish to encourage you to be consistent in Christ

Scripture unequivocally teaches God as unchangeable (Job 23:13), however, we struggle in a world of constant change. We experience the tensions of life’s variableness, plus, our stress is exacerbated by personal inconsistencies. We can so easily, and unwittingly, allow the tsunamis of life to wash us backwards spiritually. Consequentially, we feel disempowered and easily forget our calling to put off (the) old self, which belongs to your former manner of life… to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

God never intends for us to wallow in the defeat of failure. But he gives more grace… “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (James 4:6-10). Rather than being over-whelmed by the nightmare, we are to bring whatever it is to God. It may be sin, some weakness, some unjustified attack from another, health struggles, the loss of a loved one, isolation from the body of Christ, unwillingness to serve within the body of Christ, or possibly spiritual laziness which has grown to back-sliding. Whatever it is, we are to bring the grief of it all to God’s intended conclusion in humility. He then mercifully lifts us out of it. Sometimes He does this quickly, while other times slowly and progressively, but it is He who empowers us to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).

Our spiritual consistency is all about Christ, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34). He is relentlessly and consistently doing what we cannot do, maintaining our secure position before the Father without even a moment of rest. Christ is the source, He is the fore-runner, He is the example we look to.

The Lord shows us many ways in His Word by which we can develop daily disciplines that fuel faithful consistency in Christ. Paul exhorted the floundering Corinthian believers to …be steadfast, immovable, always abounding (in excess of quantity or quality) in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). As we serve the Lord, His limitless resources are released progressively through us in accordance with His will, to ensure faithful perseverance.

As born again believers in Christ, our repentance is an ongoing state of heart, while our submission to the Lordship of Christ is expressive of our faith. Therefore, like the apostle Paul, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

  • Paul instructed Timothy to …always be sober-minded… (2 Timothy 4:5).
  • Solomon instructed; Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it (Proverbs 8:33).
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… (Colossians 3:16).
  • pray without ceasing… (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • Do not neglect the gift you have (1 Timothy 4:14).
  • Do not neglect to show hospitality… (Hebrews 13:2).
  • Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have… (Hebrews 13:16).
  • …not neglecting to meet together… (Hebrews 10:25).
  • giving thanks always and for everything to God… (Ephesians 5:20).

Today, let’s be consistent in Christ for His glory and the encouragement of others!

Together For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

www.bbf.net.nz

Walk in Hope

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I wish to encourage you to walk in hope. Christians live with the tension of being created for eternity and reborn for Heaven, while temporarily confined within the mortal boundaries of this earthly life. It is faith, hope, and love which fuel our expectation of being promoted to our intended destination, eternity.

Job, who understood the agony life can bring, explained that you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security (Job 11:18). Spiritual hope is distinct from human well wishing; it’s different from simply longing for the best to eventuate. Hope, as God designed it, is characterised by a very different set of values, values that grow out of Biblical truth. It rises from faith in Christ’s substitutional death, from a desire to grow in purity, and it matures in its security grown from the sovereignty of God.

By faith we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2). God’s glory inspires hope at two levels; First, it values our present character transformation into greater Christ-likeness (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Second, it looks forward to the ultimate joyful glory for God when we are presented as perfect in Christ, in His presence (Jude 1:24-25). You see, hope looks forward with great anticipation because according to his (God’s) great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you… (1 Peter 1:3-4). This hope is NOT something we generate, rather, our hope is from him [God] (Psalms 62:5).

This side of eternity, Christ is manifest in believers through faith, hope, and love… (1 Corinthians 13:13). These three components cause us to …toil and strive (persevere), because we have our hope set on the living God… (1 Timothy 4:10). Holy Spirit generated hope is so real that it makes the anticipated truths a present reality. Consequently, as our discontentment with this world increases, so does our hope in God for our eternal home. Wegroan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:23-25). Our hope is NOT in earthly assets, pleasures, or achievements. Rather, our hope rises from our citizenship (which) is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21).

Hope evangelistically displays the Lord’s desirability through our lives so that the ungodly will develop envious curiosity. So, in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Today, be encouraged to identify the hope God has given you in Christ.

  • Fix your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), stir your heart with the joy of knowing the certainty of your eternal home.
  • Encourage another believer with the privilege of this God given hope. Christ is returning that you may be with Him for eternity (John 14:1-3).
  • Explain the gospel of hope in Christ to some unbeliever who presently has no hope beyond the grave.

Together for Christ: Lincoln Forlong

www.bbf.net.nz

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