Month: August 2016

Walk in Faith

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I wish to encourage you to walk in faith.

Faith and belief are spoken of often in today’s world, referring to almost anything that anyone wants to place their confidence in. It can range from a casual thought to a life transforming belief. However, I don’t want to encourage you with the world’s whimsical idea of faith. Rather, I wish to expand your appreciation for a more authentic faith. One that reasons, that evaluates, that builds its beliefs upon God’s truth and not the assumptions made by a disbelieving world. I speak of a faith that produces fruit worthy of its creator, and results in His honour and the believer’s eternal reward.

Faith is a remarkably simply thing, yet able to endure the most complex of life’s circumstances. It fuels the believer with the inner resources required to overcome. However, faith has a definitive starting point, for “without faith it is impossible to please him (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him(Hebrews 11:6). At the most fundamental level, the Christian’s rationale concludes that it is ”by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). From these 3 elemental truths faith grows. Remove these 3 foundations, and the entire faith structure in life will be wonky in its wrong view of God, leading to disastrous consequences.

Jesus disciples could have asked Him for anything; more money, greater popularity, improved health, a successful world-wide ministry. Instead, they “said to the Lord, Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Why faith, and not all the other things which they could have used for Jesus?  Firstly, because thy recognised the connection between Jesus as their Lord, and having Jesus as Lord of their growing faith fuelled by Jesus.

Secondly because, like John the Baptist who said of Jesus; “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), the disciples understood that stuff doesn’t grow faith in the Lord of Lords. Things distract us, they twist our loyalties, and they demand our attention while requiring constant maintenance.

Pretend or Genuine

James, Jesus half-brother, explains the futility of pretend faith; “What good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). Obviously, the answer is no! So-called faith in God that does not express itself in God-reflecting behaviour is simply pretend faith. James concludes; “that faith apart from works is useless?” For “as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:20, 26).

James makes it clear, authentic faith in God through Jesus Christ is seen by others, as well as being experienced internally by the believer. When justification takes place at the time of believing in Jesus as Lord, the repentant sinner spontaneously dies to self and lives a new life as evidence of their real faith.  “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). If you want to know whether your faith is from God or simply self-generated, the test is this; is your living characterised by love-styled, Christ dependant, obedience to your God?

Be encouraged, Jesus is NOT an add-on to your existing beliefs, just to ensure that you’ve covered all bases. He is NOT some prophet you get along-side of in order to get what you want from the Almighty. Jesus Christ is the Lord! He alone is the only forgiver of our sin, if we believe in faith!

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

BBF walking in faith

Walk in Mercy – love and compassion

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I wish to encourage you to walk in mercy.

The psalmist declares that “the LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Psalms 145:8-9). Job explained God’s impartial mercy to all mankind in that He “shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands” (Job 34:19).

Mercy is spoken of often in Scripture, mostly as integral to God’s holy character. Generally, mercy speaks of great compassion and deep love, agape styled love. In fact, biblical grace depicts that we who are underserving of God’s love have had mercy shown to us. God’s matchless love and His incomparable compassion motivated Him to sacrificially send His Son from Heaven, to an unworthy and rebellious world of sinners. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been save” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Walking in mercy begins with the Cross, walking/living daily in dependence upon “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). From that beginning of spiritual rebirth, God’s mercy is established in our souls as the only foundation on which His Holy Spirit builds our sanctifying relationship with the Almighty through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

As God’s people, we should be identifiable by God’s mercy. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zechariah 7:9-10). As recipients of God’s mercy, we are to “be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 1:22-23). God’s mercy, through Christ, should impact us so noticeably that it transforms us to become with ever increasing intensity, believers who dispense mercy to others (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Our prayers should resound with humble certainty, as we “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The certainty of our eternal hope in Christ enables us to say; “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalms 23:6). Our faith clings to Jesus words; “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Mercy is not weak, it’s not a compromiser, its not indecisive or unreliable. Rather, mercy carries a heavenly focus, a divine reflection of Christ’s character for the purpose of His glory and pleasure. Mercy authenticates the believers evangelistic efforts as we tell the lost of the only compassionate Saviour this world shall ever know. Mercy seeks reconciliation of damaged relationships because mercy “is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Be encouraged today, reach out to God, grasp hold of His mercy found in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour. Invite the Holy Spirit to make you a vehicle of His mercy for others who so desperately need to experience the soul saving grace of God!

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

BBF walking in God's mercy

Use past failings for Christ

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I wish to encourage you to use past failings for Christ.

More often than not, we simply want to put our sinful failings behind us and move on with life. While that’s a good attitude to have, we often fail to see the opportunities Christ gives us, where we can use lessons gained from our failings for His glory and the benefit of others.

Scripture is rich with people who, like us, were repeat sinners, through whom God graciously worked to accomplish His will and purpose. Like many, the apostle Paul had a wicked past. Yet in Christ, he could say, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul accepted his cleansing through faith in Christ’s substitutional death. Consequently, he looked forward to exalting Christ in the realisation of his past being left behind. Therefore, Paul put his past out of his cognitive thinking, allowing him to stride ahead for Christ more fully focused.

The apostle Paul, following a list of sinful people who will not inherit the kingdom of God, reminds us that; “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Believers are sinners saved by grace, reborn, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. God cleansed us of past sin “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Praise God for His grace and faithfulness that brought you out of past sin; “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

From failings you learn how you were led into temptation, and then seduced by sin. From that, you can form a strategy to prevent that particular stumbling reoccurring. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

Part of God’s sanctification for you, is to wisely use the lessons gained in the Christian walk to serve others, for their strengthening. Past failings equip you for rescuing those presently caught in the same sin. Paul puts it plainly; “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). This is how you can assist other believers from being side tracked from an obedient walk with the Lord. It makes you an effective discipler of other’s on Jesus behalf, maintaining the testimony of believers for Christ. But more importantly, it serves to strengthen the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sin is a messy business! Hypocrisy damages the individual believer, discredits the Body of Christ, and dishonours the name of God. As those who are growing in our faith walk with Christ as Lord, we need to persevere in upskilling ourselves against the seductiveness of sin. Don’t allow yourself, or anyone else, to hold you down in the mud of discouragement with false guilt over past failings and sin that you have repented of.

Today, be encouraged to use past failings for Christ’s glory, for strengthening others, and as a tool to share the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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

BBF using past failings for Christ

Surrender doubt to the truth of Jesus as Lord

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I wish to encourage you to surrender doubt to truth.

Matthew 28:17 records a peculiar occasion with Jesus’ disciples; “And when they saw him (Jesus) they worshiped him, but some doubted.” These eleven disciples were privileged beyond compare, learning under the Lord of Glory. And yet, they experienced that inner nonsensical nagging, that questioning for no good reason, heart driven doubt directed at Christ. How deceptive the human heart can be, to worship and doubt simultaneously (Jer 17:9).

Doubt can be an insidious thing, robbing us of certainty, stealing security, and thieving hope from us. Like the disciples, our fleshly hearts have the capacity to worship Jesus Christ while doubting. While there are many possible causes for spiritual doubt, the truth of Jesus Christ is the universal remedy (Jn 1:17, 14:6).

Lordship crushes doubt

In response, Jesus immediately presents these 11 doubting men with His ultimate doubt killer; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). Absolute sovereignty! The resurrected, glorified Lord Jesus Christ is the highest, unequalled, unchallenged, and immutable authority in all realms and spheres. The apostle Peter states it this way; “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him” (1 Peter 3:21-22). Therefore, we believers embrace this fact. We trustingly surrender our thinking and beliefs to this biblical truth – Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords!

That being said, Matthew records Jesus moving these 11 disciples attention directly onto His multi-generational instruction with surgical precision. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). By design, we Christians experience our fulfilled purpose in Christ once we go, serving Christ in His mission. It is at this point that we experience more fully the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ with doubt crushing impact. Once we are active in the discipleship of others on behalf of Jesus Christ, doubt is weakened.

Fulfilment, assurance, security, satisfaction, joy, dignity, and peace are experienced with a lethal blow to doubt, once the child of God unites with Christ’s program. Discipleship alone carries the certainty of sovereign authority, eternal purpose, and providential inevitability. Plus, discipleship is uniquely approved by the Son of God with His assurance of divine presence.

What blessed people we are? What a high calling we have? That we redeemed sinners should be reborn to such a divinely noble task as teaching others the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord!

God’s weapon against doubt

The apostle John records Jesus telling some ”Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). To be a discipler, a teacher of Jesus, we are to be specifically engaged in teaching God’s Word (The Bible) to those who say they believe in Jesus (Jn 17:17). The assurance is given to those who genuinely believe, for those who abide, who remain connected to and embedded in God’s Word, the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord will spiritually set you free. Doubt is obliterated when truth is believed in and surrendered to with no intention of taking back control.

Today, surrender any doubts to the truth of Christ in God’s Word, and get involved in planting that truth in other’s lives.

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

BBF, killing doubt with truth

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