Month: June 2016

Be an Encourager of Others

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I wish to encourage you to be an encourager of others

Most of us go through periods when it seems there is no-one at our side to encourage us. No-one to sympathetically listen, no-one assisting in directing or inspiring, no-one to sooth our souls with wise council and prayer, no-one aiding us to persevere for Jesus Christ. In a world where there is so much negativity, pain, and disheartening, God’s children should stand out by their words and deeds of encouragement of others.

When the Lord was instructing Moses regarding Israel entering the Promised Land, Moses was to “charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him” (Deuteronomy 3:28). The Lord’s words were to be used by older Moses to uplift, equip, and inspire young Joshua for the life of leadership and difficulty that lay before him.

In the New Testament, the Greek word used for ‘encourage’ means to call near to comfort. Tychicus was a man known for just this. The apostle Paul used him on at least two occasions to deliver letters with the purpose of informing, comforting, and uplifting the saints. “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts” (Ephesians 6:21-22. cf: Colossians 4:7-8).

The nature of encouragement

The wonder of encouragement is that it comes in packages as diverse as the human characters delivering it. It’s a sweetness, a lightness of spirit that uplifts and rejuvenates the other. It’s a character quality that God desires all his children to be good at; “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The better we become at it, the more we are to aid our recipients at passing it on, discipleship through encouragement.

There is to be a sense of divine liveliness in our encouraging words and body language, as we “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). There is a great sense of purpose as we give to others the realisation of hope and support that we find in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our efforts to encourage are not wasted when fueled by faith in the working of the Holy Spirit to nourish and rejuvenate the recipients we get along side of.

When watered with prayer, encouragement becomes far more than frivolous words said in jest. Christ centered prayer as we encourage, aligns our intentions with the heart of God. We don’t encourage others merely for selfish purposes, rather we do it to implant and foster a growing relationship with the Lord of Lords.

For the Christian, encouragement is expressive of God’s love from within (Rom 5:5). A love that’s quick to welcome, even quicker to pardon offense (Col 3:12-13), but never tolerant of evil that corrupts and brings disgrace to God’s name (Jas 1:19-20). God’s love grows out of His mercy, then, through us, His grace is carried to others directing them to holiness (Jas 3:17). What a privilege is ours, to be enabled by God to encourage others on behalf of the Lord Jesus (Col 3:17).

Today, be an encourager of others for the sake of Jesus Christ, and for the blessing of your recipients. Sow the seeds of selfless love in Jesus place. Call others with the words of Jesus, to follow Him at any cost. Pray the life changing power of the gospel with those who have no hope of eternal life apart from personal faith in the Saviour of all mankind – Jesus Christ.

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

BBF loves to encourage others

Applaud God’s Wisdom

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I wish to encourage you to applaud God’s wisdom

It’s easy to applaud ourselves for being wise in our own eyes. Typically, worldly self-appraisal ends with a hearty pat on the back, and thumbs down to God. Mankind is masterful at conjuring up ideas that appease his own ideology of what he or she wants God to be like. Often, man’s wisdom manufactures a god which accepts us the way we are, and is accommodating of all things self-indulgent.

The apostle Paul, a well-educated man by worldly standards, asked three rhetorical questions in his first letter to the church at Corinth. To which he then gives multiple probing answers; ”Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God  through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:20-24).

Here’s the point; despite humanity’s many marvellous accomplishments; we still haven’t produced a single way of entering into a right relationship with God which is acceptable to Him. The fact is, for the most part, mankind ignores God, wishing Him out of existence. While the world applauds indifference toward God, we Christians applaud God who; “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Our gratitude flows from realising that God did not respond to our state of spiritual deadness with indifference. Rather, loving mercy motivated God to step into this world through His son Jesus Christ, to accomplish what mankind could not, and has no desire to accomplish.

God’s wisdom is different to ours

We praise God that He initiated a means of restoration that depends totally upon His actions through Jesus Christ. Consequently, mankind can only enter into the benefits of Christ’s accomplishment buy faith, dependent trust in what Jesus has already achieved on the Cross of Calvary on their behalf.

Believers applaud God’s wisdom which is opposite to man’s impotent religious efforts (Isaiah 64:6). God placed our many sins which separate us from Him, in the body of His Son (1 Peter 1:24). God then gave full vent to His righteous indignation against our sin, punishing it in His Son, resulting in the only appropriate reward for sin – death (James 1:15). God now tells the world; if you believe this, trust in this, rely upon this substitutional judgement of your sin in His Son, you shall be saved from receiving that judgement yourself (John 3:18). You shall be set free from the inevitability of certain and eternal death as the appropriate reward for living a life based on the personal wisdom which God says is foolishly unacceptable.

Self-righteous, worldly thinking stumbles over what it perceives as the foolishness of Christ’s substitutional death. But for those who believe in Jesus’ substitutional death, there is forgiveness of sin, there is peace from God, there is joy of restoration with God, and there is certain hope of eternal life. Praise God for His wisdom!

Today, applaud God’s wisdom! Speak well of the Saviour! Live your appreciation through obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ! Live your faith in God’s Son!

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

BBF applaud God's wisdom

Be Glad in the Lord

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I wish to encourage you to be glad in the Lord.

Jesus Christ gives us many reasons to be glad, thankful, and joyful. While gladness may be kindled by many things, for the believer it is primarily set alight by all things God. King David recognised this when he said; “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).

God’s supernal majesty, along with His extraordinary deeds, fired David into praise, thanks, and worship, all giving expression of his gladness. “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure” (Psalm 16:9). David’s gladness flowed from his inner most being, radiating out the realisation of security, so that even his body was physically aware of it. Gladness in the Lord positively affects our entire being, as Solomon makes clear, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face” (Proverbs 15:13).

Counter to worldly thinking about self-image, self-importance, self-love, self-forgiveness, self-motivation, and all other self-philosophy, we who love and trust Jesus Christ happily acknowledge our weaknesses and vulnerabilities rather that deny them. For us, the Lord’s reassuring words to Paul remain true today; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, we agree with Paul’s response, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When rebellious sinners return to the Lord repentant, we gladly respond as the brother of the prodigal son was exhorted, because it’s “fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32). The salvation of another should propel worship with great joy, because we understand the eternal value of a rescued soul in God’s sight.

A Cautionary Note

With gladness comes the cautionary note concerning how to treat those who mistreat us; “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles” (Proverbs 24:17). When we’re glad in the Lord, His mercy effects our responses to others, even our enemies, who we are to love and pray for (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35). Being born again in Jesus Christ, indwelt by His Holy Spirit, we recognise that we’re blessed “when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12). “Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Regardless of circumstances, and in spite of personal pain or sacrifice, the believers priority is that Jesus Christ is exalted, and in this we are the most glad! The Lord declares; “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!‘ To which we respond, Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long” (Psalm 35:27-28).

I encourage you to show your gladness in the Lord today. Believers should not be secretive or shy, put timidity behind you, radiate the wonder of sins forgiven and the security of knowing the free gift of eternal life. Speak well of the Saviour today, for “Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages” (Psa 135:13).

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

BBF are Glad in the Lord

Entrust the Unexplainable to God

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I wish to encourage you to entrust the unexplainable to God.

It’s easy to find ourselves struggling to accept the unpleasant things in life which we don’t understand.

God, whose “eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps” (Job 34:21), knows our lives. While He’s under no obligation to explain His reasons for the life He allows us to live, He never-the-less gives us insights and comfort enabling perseverance in the faith. The writer of Deuteronomy 29:29 tells it the way it is; The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law”. The bottom line is this, while there are things we will never understand, we are to grab hold of the truths that God has made clear to us, live by them, and teach them to the next generation.

Unlike God, we’re not omniscient (all knowing). However, God has revealed Himself to us (Rom 1:19) through creation (Rom 1:20), through His Son Jesus Christ (Heb 1:2), through His written Word the Bible (2Ti 3:16), through the testimony of Christians (Act 2:40-41), through His Holy Spirit’s witness within His children, and through our own hearts awareness and conscience (Rom 2:14-15).

In God’s kindness, He has enabled us to understand His truths. Through trusting faith in Christ as Lord, we can realise that we are actually blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places(Ephesians 1:3). The Psalmist reminds us that “those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10). The issue is not having unexplained experiences; rather, do we seek the Lord and put our trust in Him, including trusting Him with life’s mysteries? Our responsibility is not to begrudge God for not giving us the understanding we wanted, but to simply “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Accept that God’s ways are not our ways, He does not think like us (Isaiah 55:8), and He does not have to answer to us for this fact. Our natural processes of spiritual evaluation are limited by our mortality and weakened by our sinfully independent natures. Therefore, we either reject God’s ways or accept them. There is no in between state! No one foot in, and one foot out position. No sitting on the fence waiting to see how it all turns out. No negotiating a deal with the Almighty. We either believe, or disbelieve.

“Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust” (Psalm 40:4). You see, our peace does not come from understanding everything that happens in life. No, it comes from trusting in the loving God who oversees everything that happens in our lives. As Jesus said to Thomas, “do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27). This is how Paul could say, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Paul knew who he believed in!

I encourage you to entrust the unexplainable to God, starting with all those things which have built a wall between you and the Lord. Let God be God!  Let us be His submissive children, content in Christ alone!

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

BBF - Entrust the unexplainable to God

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