Month: February 2017

God enables the offended to forgive

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I encourage you, God enables the offended to forgive.

God enables the offended to forgive

When the ability to forgive eludes you, and unforgiveness has grown into a monster making it seem that there is no escaping the nightmare? In this matter of forgiveness, the human heart can be extremely deceptive, particularly when influenced by sin (Jer 17:9). However, God’s resources for enabling forgiveness, even during the severest of circumstances, are as trustworthy as His holy character. As always, access to His resources is by faith and founded upon Scripture.

First Principle Enabling You to Forgive

It’s essential to have received the Saviour’s forgiveness yourself. Have you been to Jesus for life changing and eternal cleansing? Can you clearly recall the occasion when you believed, falling broken before Holy God, confessing your total inability to satisfy His holy requirements? Do you remember confessing your sinfulness, admitting that Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary in your place, suffering your penalty for sin? Did you surrender the ownership of your life unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ?

While most people willingly forgive inconsequential misdemeanours, it takes divine empowerment to deal with the crushing offenses.  As those who have been forgiven by Christ; “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you(Ephesians 4:32). Christians forgive because they have been forgiven!

Second Principle Enabling You to Forgive

Invite the Holy Spirit to captivate you with the doctrine of propitiation! Realise that Christ “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). You see, failing to forgive others violates Christ’s appeasement of God’s wrath against your sin. 

“In this is love… God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”Since we are the recipients of God’s peace, we are therefore to be ambassadors of His propitiation and peace.

“If we love one another (with propitious love), God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:10-12). To forgive others of offenses requires that we value the greatest truths which equip us for passing on divine forgiveness. Because God was appeased of our offense, we want our offenders to taste the sweetness of God’s peace through us because of Jesus Christ. 

Third Principle Enabling You to Forgive

Ensure that Jesus Christ is Lord over every facet of your life. Surrender to God’s will in this matter of forgiveness is essential. Christ’s supremacy and sufficiency needs to dominate your motives. You will have to relinquish all rights to hold onto unforgiveness. Don’t believe the lie that says ‘you only forgive those who ask forgiveness.’ Forgiveness not only reflects our relationship with God, it’s also a matter of obedience.

Obedience Empowers You to Forgive

Jesus instructed His disciples; “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Jesus was not speaking of eternal forgiveness; rather, He was referring to daily relational forgiveness which impacts our Christian walk. Likewise He said; “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Forgiveness remains a matter of obedience! 

As believers, we are not entitled to assume God’s role as judge. We are however, entitled to replicate our Saviour’s obedient love by forgiving. We are to do as Christ did; “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

I encourage you; forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

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

God enables the offended to forgive

God enables the offended to forgive

 

Pursue Genuine Love that Forgives

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Lincoln Forlong writes on love that forgives

I encourage you to pursue genuine love that forgives

Worldly wisdom doesn’t allow for the love of Jesus Christ which forgives. No revenge, no desire for personal justice, and no festering resentment, that’s God’s way. In Christ, you can put grudges to death for the sake of Jesus renown. The child of God turns to forgive and comfort” because they don’t want the guilty person to “be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow”. Rather, Christians want “to reaffirm love” (2 Corinthians 2:7-8) in order to aid the guilty person in repentance and reconciliation.

The sad scenario of self-vindicating unforgiveness

It started with you perceiving an offense, whether intentional or not, you experienced pain. A sense of indignation rose to the highest emotional level, then self-defence kicked in and self-vindication began. You began interpreting the original offense as a personal attack. So, the heart began recording all the damming evidence against the offender.

Throughout the growing offense, personal innocence is assured by self and sin, as responsibility is not accepted for any wrong responses. Your vengeful motives, hurtful speech, and malicious actions, are all overlooked. Sin assures you that you are justified in your wrong behaviour by declaring you innocent. Then, sin informs you that slandering the other person is OK. You see, sin has it all figured out. Any amount of damage caused to as many people as necessary is justified in the relentless pursuit of self-vindication, and self-promotion.

What may have begun as an innocent and unintentional happening turns into full-blown war. Sin swears it’s allegiance to your cause. It will faithfully see you through to utter ruin and self-destruction in the name of self-vindication. Sin evaluates and concludes your personal innocence while calling divine judgment upon your offender. Any others who will not take your side must like-wise suffer your justice. Indeed, sin is the faithful companion of unforgiveness – till death do you part.

The beauty that forgives

However, forgiveness releases the offender from personal liability and any debt requiring repayment or correction. Forgiveness halts feelings of resentment, animosity and anger toward the offender. Forgiveness sets them free, while setting you at calm toward them (This also applies when legal justice, restitution, or safety issues need to be worked through).

As love is the founder of forgiveness, so unforgiveness proves the absence of love. In fact, hatred is at the heart of unforgiveness, even robbing you of the desire to be forgiven. But not so with the child of God who forgives!

The supremacy of love that forgives

Scripture tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Therefore, Holy Spirit generated love reflects God’s loving nature instead of the world’s idea of love. God’s love behaves differently, it does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Because love rejects the harbouring of unforgiveness, acknowledging it as sinful, and dishonouring to the Lord.

Make no mistake; forgiving costs, it can hurt! As the humble road is taken, as personal preferences are denied, and as the negative whispers of others are ignored, self loses. However, this is the only path sanctification knows. This is the Christ exalting road transforming us “from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Today, let the world see the Christ who forgives in you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44-45). Be like Jesus Christ, who, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten” (1 Peter 2:23).

Continuing next week… 

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

Forgives

Pursue genuine love that forgives

Live in forgiveness for Jesus sake

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I encourage you to live in forgiveness for Jesus sake

Forgiveness has to be worked through by everybody at some point, and often with monotonous regularity. Unfortunately, the human heart deceitfully works against us by naturally wanting to hold onto the pains of offense. The reality is that forgiveness, or the lack of it, affects every relationship in life and determines their quality. Its presence, or absence, can dramatically alter both physical and emotional health, with life changing consequences.

However, Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness cuts against every human inclination, and surpasses human reasoning. The two sides of this critical part of Christian living are a willingness to forgive, and a desire to be forgiven, with the source of both being self-sacrificing love (Agape).

Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen on forgiveness

First and foremost; spiritually speaking, heart regeneration is required in order to equip us for genuine and long lasting power to forgive, while also wanting to be forgiven.

Love and forgiveness are synonymous, as are their counterparts. The apostle Paul reminds us; “if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13). The apostles’ point is simple; a believer in Jesus Christ, having personally experienced the Lord’s eternal forgiveness through the Cross of Calvary, will forgive others when offended. Why, because, above all other virtues, genuine believers “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).

Love puts others first. Love never wishes the pain that it has suffered to be experienced by others. Love is ready to forgive, ready to seek reconciliation, ready to restore peace and unity. Love is also strong enough to dispense forgiveness while working through any required matters of justice or restitution. Therefore forgiveness, like love, is never conditional, especially while its application is being worked through.

Genuine, self-sacrificing love refuses to pick up the reproaches of others. As Paul put into practice with the Corinthian Christians; “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:10). This is precisely what Paul promoted when writing to Philemon regarding the run-away slave Onesimus; “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account” (Philemon 1:18).

You see, Christian love relinquishes all rights to hold onto offense or to seek retaliation. The genuine love of Christ in a believer duplicates Christ; “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Christ living in a Christian never lashes out or builds us ammunition in preparation for an attack. The child of God knows that “God, through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Christians reconcile, they do not go to war! They love through forgiveness, even if at their own expense, as it was for Christ.

The bottom line is this; the lover of Christ prioritises, and surrenders to the supremacy of God’s love as the apostle Paul reminds us. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

To be continued…

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

Listen to The Pastor's Pen on forgivenss
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Do not confuse religion with salvation in Jesus Christ

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I encourage you NOT to confuse religion with salvation

While religion may give you the sensation of doing the right thing for God, it is in fact empty of any valve to God! It’s true that the good works of religion may puff up our spiritual ego and sense of self-righteousness, but those very works will abandon us at the grave as dead enemies of God, with rejection from heaven being certain.

Lincoln Forlong writes The Pastor's Pen on religion

Jesus told Nicodemus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus was possibly the highest ranking religious leader in Israel, yet he was spiritually dead, without God, and without the certain hope of eternal life. Nicodemus needed to change his thinking! Salvation, eternal life, could not be earned! Rather, it’s a one-time spiritual work of regeneration, rebirth, done totally by the Holy Spirit of God within a repentant sinner.

The apostle John records the deceitfulness of man focused religion; “Many even of the authorities believed in him (Jesus), but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:42-43). Even today, many love the feelings of appearing religious, more than they love Christ as Lord – this is FRAUD FAITH.

Referring to man-made acts of religious duty, the apostle Paul points out that; “these have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh [sin]” (Colossians 2:23). Religious attendance is powerless against all types of sin, and indeed is not concerned when its followers live a life of double standards and hypocrisy. The fact is, religion cannot motivate us to hate sin, but will accommodate it, happily incorporating our sins into its acceptable yet incorrect religious beliefs.

In Romans 3:21-25, the apostle Paul explains thatall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that God’s righteousness is acquired through faith in Jesus Christ.” You see, sinners are justified by his grace as a gift.” Forgiveness cannot be religiously earned or purchased by sinful people. So, God put forward” His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross as the sinless sacrifice. He died in our place, carrying our sin, receiving God’s wrath instead of us.

God, having emptied His wrath against our sin on His Son, is now at peace, appeased by the blood sacrifice of His Son on the cross. However, the benefit of eternal forgiveness for all mortal sins which is available through Christ’s death, must personally “be received by faith” as applying to each of us as individuals. This excludes all dependency upon family traditions, church denominations, church leaders, and personal works in attempt to earn God’s favour. This means acknowledging that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), no other mediator exists.

Here’s a simple two-fold test of authenticity that religion won’t want you to answer, yet it will allow you to be honest with yourself.

  • Do you look at yourself and “consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
  • Is your consuming desire in life to obey Jesus as Lord? “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”(1 John 2:4).

I encourage you NOT to confuse religion with salvation.

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

Listen to The Pastor's Pen on religion
Listen to The Pastor’s Pen on religion

Bay Bible Fellowship thinks on religion

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