Month: April 2016

Gladly Answer One to Another

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I wish to encourage you to gladly answer one to another. One of the refreshing aspects of being a Christian is that we get to live an outward looking life. Instead of being self-focused, we are other focused, which helps in setting us free from the traps of self-righteousness, legalism, and hidden sin.

The apostle Paul explains in Romans 12:5, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another”. Through faith in Christ and baptism by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) we are amalgamated in God’s family, the body of Christ, where many become one. Here, we experience our common identity in Christ, a common love, unity, friendship, forgiveness, acceptance, patience, grace, discipleship, growth, service, sanctification, worship, mercy, and mutual accountability, to name a few.

1 Corinthians 12:14-25 speaks of the uniqueness of our interdependent relationships in the body of Christ; For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another”. In Christ’s body we answer to the Lord, to our spouses and families, and to Church leadership as the under-Shepherds of Jesus Christ. We answer to one another within the family of God, and we even answer to the world as they are entitled to see in our lives the Christ we confess to have as Lord. Indeed, no Christian has the luxury of thinking or claiming that they answer to only one, even if that one is God. God has not designed our Christian DNA that way, and He certainly has not designed the body of Christ (the church) that way. No Christian is an isolated island that stands alone.

Just as there is structure in our earthly families, so there is structure in God’s family. Beginning with Christ, who “is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18), then church leaders who keep “watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).  The fabric of Holy Spirit empowered interdependency provides for nurturing, protection, security, provision of needs, activities, education, and accountability. Christ’s security is fleshed out as we watch out for each other and “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…” in this way we carry and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:1-2).

Mutual open-hearted interaction has the appearance of Christ’s character. As the apostle Paul describes; “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10). “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19), “as a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also” (2 Corinthians 6:13 NIV), “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). In this God designed, Spirit energised, Christ focused family, we live for the benefit of each other, the glory of Christ our Lord, and the salvation of those who are lost in their sin.

Today, be encouraged to gladly answer one to another, praising God for the privilege, and help another believer in thanking God for His grace at work in the Church of Jesus Christ.

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

Gladly Answer One to Another

 

Appreciate God’s Work in Others

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I wish to encourage you to appreciate God’s work in others. Appreciation is a wonderful commodity that we can freely pass on to others. The recipient feels valued, even wanted. It overcomes hurts and fears; it energises fatigued bodies and inspires vigour for persevering in life.

The apostle Paul often wrote expressing his appreciation of others, however, I want to draw your attention to his letter to the believers in Philippi. In Philippians 1:3, Paul starts “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you”. As we remember others, particularly fellow believers, as we think of them during the activities of the day, our response should automatically be one of thanks to God. Thanks for the Lord’s work in their lives, and thanks for the Lord intersecting your life with theirs . Like Paul, we should be thankful for others who also love Christ “with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:4-5). Mutual faith in Christ and His gospel enables us to identify and express joyful thanks for others who also share eternal life.

Paul’s appreciation was heightened by His certainty in Gods undeterred, life changing ministry in others. He could confidently say; “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Likewise, our appreciation is a double barrel, first it’s admiration for God’s determinate work of irresistible grace. Second, it’s an expression of our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are joyed by the absolute certainty of the salvation and security our loved friends have in Christ as Lord.

Writing from prison, Paul  could say; “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7). So, like Paul, we focus on God’s grace which is working out His mercy in each other’s lives. We celebrate the Lord’s love expressing itself in our fellow believers. We rejoice in the Holy Spirit’s determined ministry bringing fellow saints to maturity in Christ. We acknowledge our partnership in each other’s lives, supporting others through difficulties, pains, unjust circumstances, as well as through the times of ease and comfort. We willingly uphold each other during times of defending the gospel and sound doctrine. We unit with these ones, celebrating the victories and accomplishments of Christ in their lives.

Realising the close association of fellowship in Christ, Paul continues explaining that; “God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8). Thankful appreciation develops a genuine yearning, a longing after, for not only fellowship with, but for the riches of Christ Jesus to be settled in the hearts and minds of those you love.  No wonder Paul prayed; “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

Today, I encourage you to thankfully praise God, particularly for those in your life who love Jesus Christ. Communicate your appreciation to those loved ones. Our Heavenly Father will be glorified, Jesus Christ will be pleased, and the Holy Spirit will be honoured as He accomplishes His work in and through you.

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

Bay Bible Fellowship focus on others

“Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Enjoy the Friendship of Christ

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I wish to encourage you to enjoy the friendship of Christ. While it’s true that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16), and that the Lord “is patient …not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), this does not mean that friendship exists between God and the unbelieving world. Friendship with God is more than pleasant emotions or sentiments; it’s more than believing that God exists and that He leaves you alone to do whatever you want. James explains the relationship between the world and God; “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Passive association with God while remaining loyal to the world and participating in its sinful values and lifestyle, is not friendship with God.

The important issue is, “does God think of me as His friend”?

The Psalmist understood that, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him” (Psalms 25:14). Jesus built upon this by teaching His disciples, You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).

Jesus, being creator God (Hebrews 1:10), was entitled to call His disciples slaves. Yet, He opens His heart to these ordinary men by identifying them as His friends. He reminds them that they “did not choose” Him, but He chose them (John 15:16), and that “already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Only hours before His crucifixion, Jesus defines the nature of His relationship with His disciples; “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9).Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The friendship of God that we enter into through faith in Jesus Christ is cleansing because of His Word, its secure because of His trustworthy sovereignty, it’s intimate because the Father’s love for His Son is passed on to us. The friendship of Jesus Christ is initiated by Him, it’s made possible through Him laying down His life on the cross of Calvary for our redemption (Colossians 1:4). We rejoice because Christ “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 1:30-31). In this unimaginable friendship, Jesus says, you “abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).

Indeed, we are privileged beyond human imagination, expectation, or design. Therefore, we boast of Christ! He has  achieved everything we could not. He maintains everything we cannot. He determines everything we are powerless to control. He strengthens and secures everything we weaken. He establishes everything we have yet to experience. He manifests the Father’s love in us even while we struggle with our unloveliness, vulnerabilities, and failings.  He also assures us with the certain hope of eternal life in His presence. Yes, we richly abide in Christ.

I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to envelope your soul with the joy of this divine friendship. Praise the Lord continuously today because of the breath-taking beauties of this heavenly friendship. Find someone you can uplift with the wonder and grace of this merciful friendship. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

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

Enjoying the friendship of Jesus Christ

“Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Walk in sync with the Holy Spirit

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I wish to encourage you to walk in sync with the Holy Spirit. One of the most staggering and humbling privileges enjoyed by Christians is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit introduces His ministry to the unbelieving world by convicting them of sin, righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8), making them aware that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Therefore, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63). The instant an unbeliever repentantly believes in Christ for salvation, they are permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit as children of God, eternally secure in Christ (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:13-14). At that very moment, the Holy Spirit enters, baptising them into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). He then transitions His ministry to glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and growing them into greater Christ likeness (Acts 1:5; 2:4; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22).

As Christians, self-ownership has been relinquished, “for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Therefore, we “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). We’ve been purchased by God through Christ’s substitutional death for God’s purpose of glorification; “or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The Holy Spirit regenerates a whole new life with God given, Christ centred qualities. Consequently, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5) bringing “the fruit of the Spirit (which is) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23; Acts 9:31; Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:6).

The apostle Paul, wanting believers to know the essentials of how they could live under the Holy Spirit’s control, reminded the Galatians that the sinful “desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other” (Galatians 5:16-18). The indwelling Holy Spirit is not compatible with sin! He does not approve of sin, nor does He actively accommodate sin. Instead of sin controlling us, we are to “be filled (controlled) with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). In living “by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), this begins with salvations repentant attitude leading away from sin. We do this through reading and thinking upon God’s Word, which the Holy Spirit authored (2 Peter 1:20-21). He transforms our thinking, our beliefs, and our behaviour, directly from His biblical truth.

We are also to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” employing our minds with intelligible words, our heart’s affections, and our creativity (Ephesians 6:18 NIV; Romans 8:26). Even though the Holy Spirit is fully God (2 Corinthians 3:18b), He never seeks to promote, elevate, or bring glory to Himself. Rather, He always seeks to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:14). Just as He points to Christ in everything, so we, by His enabling power, are to duplicate that same attitude. We manifest the Holy Spirit’s control by being Christ centred, having a Christ exalting attitude in everything we do, by praying in the name of Jesus Christ as if on His behalf for the best expressions of Christ’s character and glory.

Today, let’s exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s speak well of the Saviour, and let’s love Christ with our obedience. In doing so, we shall evidence the filling, the leading, and the synchronised purpose of the Holy Spirit.

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

Bay Bible Fellowship - Focus on God's Grace, by God's Spirit

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