Month: October 2016

Walk in Obedience to Jesus Christ

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ

For the most part, obedience to Jesus Christ is not a winning theme to write or teach on. The world is utterly disinterested, and God’s people are often so over-whelmed by their struggle against sin, that they say to themselves ‘here we go again, another bashing’.

Let’s face it, obedience is not always the most appealing thing, and it certainly is not always popular with others. In fact, this author knows the struggle between ‘personal want and obedience’ very well. Unfortunately, we believers won’t be set free from this struggle until we are with the Lord. That being said, we need to constantly remind ourselves that the blessings of obedience are many, and the cost of disobedience is high.

The Contrast

The apostle Paul reminds us that “by the one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s (Christ’s) obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Obedience and disobedience are at the very core of humanity’s relationship with God. Eternal life, a right relationship with God, hinges on obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). The blessing of obedience to Jesus Christ is eternal life; the status quo of disobedience is wrath and eternal separation from God.

While it’s all too easy to say that we love the Lord, with the words just rolling off our tongues effortlessly. The Lord however, looks for evidence of authenticity of that professed love. The apostle John nails what genuine love for God looks like; “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Herein lies the truth of the matter, the overarching theme of our lives, the typical pattern of our living, is one of love expressed through obedience to God and not self-indulgence.

The Example

An extraordinary group of Christians lived and fellowshipped at Philippi. Paul had observed of them, and encouraged them when writing to them; “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). Evidence of God’s activity in their lives was witnessed by others. Made visible through their obedience, they had a powerful testimony to the world of the reality of Jesus Christ. Their humble reverence of the Lord had tangible expression of the life transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Pleasure of Obedience

For the Christian, obedience is not a distasteful experience as if it were a set of rules that must legalistically be observed. Jesus summed it up perfectly when He said; “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). Obedience is the appropriate response to Christ as Lord. It’s an accurate expression of love for Him because it should flow from an ever increasing desire to please Him. Obedience fuels the assurance of our salvation and intensifies the realisation of our security in Christ.

Today, be encouraged to honour our Lord Jesus Christ by your obedience. And should you stumble, come before the Lord in confession, realising that there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Get up and walk again in obedience for this is love for Christ.

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

BBF seeks to live in obedience

Use your tongue for God’s glory

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to use your tongue for God’s glory. 

The world exercises little restraint, if any, when using the tongue for speaking its mind. The media, entertainment, and the Internet, all serve to normalise swearing, crass humour, lying, anger, unforgiveness, and blaspheming God’s name. Sadly, many who claim to be ‘Christian’ speak with similar irresponsibility as the disbelieving world.

The fact is, mankind is uniquely created in the image of God and possesses enormous potential for glorifying Him. However, sin entered the human heart and unleashed death upon the human race along with the devastating potential for bringing dishonour to their creator. Consequently, the use of the human tongue changed. Now, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:8-9).

A brother’s perspective

The apostle James, having grown up under his older and perfect brother Jesus, would have experienced the stark difference between what sometimes flowed off his own tongue compared to the faultless speech of Jesus. Therefore, James could rightly say, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). We hear this daily, in the work place, in education, and even in families where love is meant to the guiding moral. As we all know, “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Our heart fuels the tongue, and usually without any filtration.

So, the problem isn’t so much the tongue, as the heart that drives the tongue. The apostle Paul instructs us believers; “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self.” He then immediately tells us how this is made possible, this new self “is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10). The genuine believer is one who surrenders their life to God for the purpose of being changed from within, so that they reflect the character of God with ever increasing intensity (2Co 3:18). Our thinking must be changed in order for the heart to express the Lord’s beauty via the tongue (Rom 12:1-2).

The real need

King David pleaded for the Lord to; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10).  Repentant belief in Jesus Christ as Lord is how mankind can be born again spiritually (John 3). This spiritual regeneration of the human heart is carried out by God, placing the repentant sinner in Christ. This means that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new life, energised by the Holy Spirit, is one where we use the tongue to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). It also means we “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

I encourage you today, if you have not done so already, hand yourself over to God. Repent of your sin that empowers you to live indifferent to the Lord. Believe with dependent faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Abandon the emptiness of self, and receive the gift of eternal life through trusting belief in Jesus Christ who died in your place on the Cross of Calvary for your sin. Then, you will be empowered to use your tongue for God’s glory.

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

Use your tongue for God's glory

Worship – Evaluate who’s at the heart of your worship

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I wish to encourage you to evaluate who’s at the heart of your worship

The first 3 of the 10 commandments found in Exodus 20:3-6, relate to worship of the one true God. Sadly, this world has scored a triple failure. However, for those of us who profess belief in God through faith in Jesus Christ, there exists a staggering opportunity to get it right by God’s evaluation.

As lovers of the Lord, our part is to “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness” (Psalms 29:2). While as Christians, our holiness varies, but the Lord is spectacularly consistent in every expression of His pure character.

A glimpse of heaven

From the pen of the apostle John, we get a glimpse into the throne room of heaven, where the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are continuously in worship. They perpetually declare; “Holy, holy, holy”… “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:8-11).

The prophet Isaiah, having seen the same heavenly scene as John, concluded; “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). You see, anyone who has accurately perceived the supernal beauty and uncompromising purity of the Lord, is confronted with the horrors of personal short-comings, personal sin!

The world’s response

While the world uses our Lord’s name as a blasphemous swear word, we “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). We love Him, we serve Him, and we strive to obey Him more and more. We speak well of the Saviour whenever we can. Why, because through trust in Jesus Christ’s death in your place on the cross, “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).

With that said; it’s ironic how easy it is to worship our experience of worship, more than worship the Lord. The church at Colossi had this very problem. So the apostle Paul cautioned them; “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism (Rigorous self-denial) and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind” (Colossians 2:18). Paul understood mankind’s selfish tendency of making worship about our experience of God and not about God Himself. It may be the size of the crowd, the impressiveness of the light show, the quality of the sound system, the various ways people freely express themselves, the use of technology, any one of many things, yet still not be worship of God.

The Christian’s response

In genuine worship, we focus on Jesus Christ; we surrender our allegiance to the Lord of heaven and earth, we praise (speak well of) the Saviour. We yield control of our lives to the filling of the Holy Spirit. We proclaim Christ’s glories, declaring the significance of God’s virtues. We testify to His accomplishments as Lord God Almighty. We happily do this at the exclusion of self, in order that the Lord receives pure, unmixed praise and exaltation. “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalms 34:1-3).

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

Bay Bible Fellowship Worship God
Bay Bible Fellowship

Seek wise, Christ centred counsel

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I wish to encourage you to seek wise, Christ centred counsel.

At some point, all of us seek counsel from others in relation to what’s happening in our own lives. We typically go to people who have trained in specific fields, who have proven history of greater understanding in the matters of concern. This is why we consult Doctors, Dentists, Accountants, Lawyers, Plumbers, Electricians, and Mechanics etc. Why, because they should know what we do not know! They should understand the design, the manufacturers intended purpose, the processes and rationale required to make right, the things that go wrong.

Spiritual Reality

The very same sensible thought process should be applied regarding spiritual matters in life, yet so often the spiritual realities of our lives are ignored, and at great cost.

When we visit a counsellor of any kind, amongst other things, we expect them to give us advice that we would not have thought of ourselves. So it is with the Lord; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). In our worldly thinking, it is usually forgotten that “with God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13), “he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29).

Now, you would think that sensible people would ask the designer, the maker, the one who knows with certainty how humans can function best. Yet history proves that mankind does not seek God, most turn aside, they choose to have no fear of God (Romans 3:10-18).

Worldly Thinking

King David, a man who knew what it was to foolishly do his own thing, understood the deceitfulness of the human heart. He explains how people attempting to live independent of God’s authority reason like this; “he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity (sin) cannot be found out and hated” (Psalms 36:2). In other words, we make ourselves out to be better than we really are in order to prevent ourselves from having to agree with God about the sin in our lives. This is why people often seek help from other sources while refusing God’s help.

The world, after two thousand years, still repeats the disastrous error of the religious leaders from the first century, who “took counsel against Jesus to put him to death” (Matthew 27:1). By nature, we wish Christ out of our lives, we ignore Him, we relegate Him into the category of being irrelevant and therefore, inconsequential. Even though, and contrary to popular opinion, the Lord says; “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:1-2).

The Best Way

Consultation with the Almighty is as easy as prayerfully opening His Word, the Bible. For those who have a soft heart, who genuinely want to understand God’s ways; the Lord speaks with remarkable simplicity and clarity, bringing peace with God.

First, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Jesus’ invitation still stands; “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

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

BBF seeks God's counsel
Bay Bible Fellowship
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