Month: November 2016

Take refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to take refuge in the Lord

Life is an array of experiences that can easily overwhelm us. The world and life, moves at such a rapid pace that few of us can truly keep up without incurring some form of fatigue or injury. However, the child of God has a safe haven; a sanctuary that cannot be quantified in physical, financial, or geographic terms. Far greater than any worldly treasure, with infinitely more resources than this world could ever imagine, we take refuge in the Lord!

The Psalmist said it well; “Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalms 33:20-22). Throughout life, the believer lives with a spiritual faith that transcends the events of life by looking dependently to the Lord. Satisfaction comes from knowing and walking with God who surpasses our need for us to see our expectations fulfilled.

The child of God says to the Lord; “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word” (Psalms 119:114). Our assurance comes from who our God is, and it is his unchangeable holy identity that germinates within us the realisation of well-being. We Christians echo the words; “I trust in you, O LORD; I say, You are my God” (Psalms 31:14). We have come to recognise that “every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5).

You see, I’m speaking here of the person who is not looking to fixate on individual events, experiences, or even blessings in order to validate their faith. No, I speak of the soul who looks “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). This is the expression of faith in the person of God through His Son Jesus Christ. This faith does not look for personal gain or advantage, rather, it draws contentment from accepting that God sovereignly works out His will in our lives to fulfill His purposes. This faith unreservedly prays “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), declaring as John the Baptist did, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

This faith doesn’t nit-pick over personal preferences, yet it does discriminate between that which is good and that which is excellent. It fails to waste it’s allegiance on frivolous fleshly endeavours, while devoting its resources to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This uncommon belief is quick to acknowledge that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). It desires nothing for itself but only to do what the man delivered of demons did; “he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39).

Be encouraged beloved; “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). This is the Saviour we take refuge in!

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

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Bay Bible Fellowship takes refuge in the Lord

Aim to please God

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to please the Lord

We certainly live in a pleasure driven age and society. It’s fascinating how the world manipulates its floating morals in order to accommodate pleasure, ease and comfort, often at a high price.

The apostle Paul explains that as Christians,whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him (the Lord)(2 Corinthians 5:9). Whether we are alive in this mortal body or alive in the presence of the Lord, our aim is the same, to bring pleasure to God. This priority should determine every value we possess. Even during intense suffering, the Psalmist understood this primary priority in life, saying; “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD…” (Psalms 69:29-31). Living a life to please the Lord is to live in thankful praise of the Lord, regardless of circumstances.

Now, here’s the most amazing truth for believers that is often overlooked; “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). It’s a divinely sovereign work within the believer by the Holy Spirit that empowers them to function as He has determined for the purpose of bringing God pleasure. That being said, we need also to remember the opposite truth; “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8).

First, understand that ”without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Jehovah responds to genuine believing faith in His existence. This faith motives the individual to move closer to Him instead if living independent or indifferent to Him. We do well to remind ourselves often of the pleasure we bring God through living out our faith in Him. What wonderful privilege we have as God’s children!

As you would expect of the apostle Paul, he encouraged the saints at Thessalonica in sharing the gospel message. He explained; “as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). We share the gospel with the unsaved for God’s pleasure! The Lord’s glory is primary, while our experience of sharing and that of our hearers is secondary. Obviously the greatest honour, the greatest pleasure is had by all when a disbelieving sinner repents of their sin and turns to the Lord by placing faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour. Therefore, testing the motive of why we tell others of the gospel is very important if we want our personal evangelism to be a pleasure to God.

Today, I echo the exhortation of Paul; “we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). As we grow in our spiritual maturity, may we also grow in our desire and ability to please God!

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

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Bay Bible Fellowship aim to please God

Do not hide Christ from the world

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you not to hide Christ

It’s all too easy to hide what should be the most obvious thing in our lives, Jesus Christ.  Slipping into the Christian incognito mode only shames Christ, and reveals the darkest side of your fleshly character which the enemy loves.

I’m sure most believers would identify with the self-evaluation of the apostle Paul. We would concur that “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV). Our lives are to be a transparent display cabinet, visually presenting the patience of our Saviour to the watching unbelievers. And, according to the Lord’s will, some of those watching will one day believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour through repentance.

God’s Purpose for you

As Christians, our Christ centered lives are public testimony that the Lord “…is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 5:14-16; “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

No matter how feeble you may think your faith is, God wants to use you as the vehicle of His glory so that other’s will praise Him. This is a most humbling and challenging part of being a child of God. In spite of your many inconsistencies, the Holy Spirit yearns to expose Christ to the world through you. Consequently, you don’t want to obscure the Christ who redeemed you from those God has brought into your life for this very purpose.

Therefore, realise that it is “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). That being the case, “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

Personal Involvement

No matter how hard-done-by you may feel, no matter how offended you may be, regardless of the injustices done to you, you will experience the peace of God and the joy of your salvation in surrendering them to God. Do as Christ did, relinquish your desire for justice to the will of God – and live Christ! Otherwise, you will be a most effective tool in the hand of Satan for dishonouring God, for shaming Christ, and for discrediting the Body of Christ. It is this easy to hide Christ from the world.

I encourage you, be proactive today in exposing the world around you to the loving Saviour, Jesus Christ. Speak well of the Saviour today. Be reconciled to those who have offended you. Forgive and love your enemies, praying for their blessing in Christ. In this way, we will NOT conceal Christ.

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

Listen to The Pastor's Pen - do not hide Chirst
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Bay Bible Fellowship do not hide Christ

 

 

 

Live selfless lives for Jesus Christ

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to live selfless lives for Jesus Christ.

It’s an indisputable fact, we live in a self-consumed society. Every form of selfishness pervades society’s values so much so, that it has become the norm for worldly morals. However, this is not true of those who live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

One of the most significant and publicly noticeable character traits of any Christian is that of selflessness. Jesus taught selflessness when He proclaimed the second most important commandment; “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). The depth of God’s salvation is experienced “according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). One of the many visible evidences of genuine spiritual rebirth is that you will desire to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

You see, when Jesus Christ moves into a repentant sinner’s life as Lord, there is radical change, beginning with their own view of self. The world will observe you as a new believer putting “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). This is what it means to be a Christian, a lover of Jesus Christ, a willing servant of the Lord.

Jesus manifested the greatest degree of selflessness when contemplating the sacrificing of His own life on the cross by praying; “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Likewise, we are to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

While selflessness is counter to our culture, it is central and intrinsically the desire of trustworthy Christian character. This is to be the deepest of our heart’s desire as those who dare to claim we love Jesus Christ as personal Lord. Having surrendered all your internal attitudes of indifference to God, the authentic Christian desires to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

I wish to encourage you to have the courage of faith to be different to the world, be selfless by extending the love of Jesus Christ to others for the glory of God. Remember, that when you put trusting faith in Jesus Christ, you were saying, like the apostle Paul; “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Together, let’s live selfless lives for Jesus Christ, and for the benefit of others.

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

Bay Bible Fellowship selfless for Christ

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Keep your faith in Christ simple and clear

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Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen

I wish to encourage you to keep your faith in Christ simple and clear.

Mankind has a terrible habit of over engineering things that God has made remarkably simple. For example, the gospel is very simple, yet man has tampered with it and made it complex and vague. Humans have turned salvation around, attempting to make it all about us, instead of all about God. The world has exchanged the biblical decision of repentant belief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord to a journey toward Jesus that is so mystical that you most likely will never know for certain if you are saved or not.

The apostle Paul explained in Ephesians 1:12, that those who “hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory”. The simple fact is; “when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him (Jesus Christ), were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). Salvation, the gift of eternal life, is intended by God to be the thing that we speak well of for His glory. End of story! In fact, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit energises the believer for this very purpose.

Explanation

Now, when I speak of simple, I do not mean without intelligence or clarity of thought. No, I mean without complication, and without complex frills that add nothing to your faith relationship with God that you do not already possess through His Son, Jesus Christ. I’m referring to a pure focus of your faith upon Jesus Christ as the sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, taking your place, to pay the penalty for your sin in order to satisfy the justice of God (Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-11).

Jesus clearly stated; “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). Jesus did not come to earth for the purpose of political reform, or to heighten man’s inner awareness of self. No, He came to deal with the matter of yours and my sin. Paul told the Corinthians, that he “delivered to you as of first importance what I (Paul)  also received: 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). Everything is of secondary importance to this simple and clear truth!

The Reason

You see, God never intended the transition from being estranged from Him, to being a child of His, to be complex, clouded, or vague. Yes, the decision of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord is life’s most difficult one. And yes, belief in Jesus Christ as Lord will be your most expensive decision. But it will be a clear cut decision of belief, life changing, and with eternal consequences. Why? Because, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

I encourage you to keep your faith in Christ simple and clear. Be Christ focused, so that His life can be lived through your life, for His glory.

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

Bay Bible Fellowship keeping it simple

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