Month: April 2017

Embrace change for God’s purposes

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I encourage you to embrace change for God’s purposes

While we believers stand secure in God’s unchanging character, we need to deal with the reality of change in the world and within our personal lives. One of the many ironies of life is that while we may require others to change, we often think of ourselves as exempt. Although by nature we tend to resist change, it’s an inescapable part of life, especially the Christian life.

Embrace change for God’s purposes

Sanctifying change is redemptive by nature; “now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). Change is at the heart of sanctification, it’s the purpose of God’s Word, and it’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

We sometimes sing as worship, the words penned by Eddie Espinosa;
    Change my heart oh God
    Make it ever true
    Change my heart oh God
    May I be like You

While expressing a genuine heart attitude towards God, these words also speak of our need for change through sanctification. Certainly, change in our thoughts, our beliefs, and feelings, are the most difficult, yet they are also the most needed. Our internal reasoning is the arena of our greatest battles, with the greatest potential for resistance and pain. But change we must if we want to live like Christ!

Paul, having undergone enormous change, cut it straight with the Roman Church; “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God”  (Romans 12:2). He recognised the necessity of ongoing internal change as the path of testing and discovering God’s will. Its sad how often Christians set boundaries for this vital ministry, unconsciously informing God of what He can and cannot change within them.

Change Flows Out of Salvation

You see, salvation was the spiritual metamorphosis that entered us into a life where “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV). This involves no small amount of growing pain as pride, ego, selfishness and inappropriate preferences are lovingly, yet determinately changed by the Holy Spirit. Resistance is futile. And rejection of this divine work of grace only proves that we were never redeemed in the first place, but we’re simply trying the ‘religious thing’ to see if it would give us what we wanted.

For the believer, we relinquish the role of deciding what should and should not change, and hand over that role to the Lord Jesus Christ. The choice is now out of our hands. We simply follow His lead, as He shows us in His Word, and convicts us by His Spirit. Often scary I agree, but necessary!

As humans, it’s all too easy to be “stiff-necked people,” who “resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51) as Israel has been guilty of. We do so to our peril, and to the demise of those who follow our example. Instead, as Christians; “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).

Today, embrace change for God’s purposes. Doing so will bring Him glory, will flood your soul with refreshment, and will lead others to greater blessing as they follow your example.

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

Embrace change for God’s purposes

Embrace change for God’s purposes

Trust in the Lord’s unchanging character

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Today I wish to encourage you to trust in the Lord’s unchanging character.

In the study of theology, we call this the immutability of God. As Job, in the midst of life’s most horrendous difficulties proclaimed of God; “he is unchangeable” (Job 23:13). God’s testimony of Himself is; “I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Not only does God’s character not change, He is incapable of changing His nature, His mind, His will, or His purposes.
 Trust in the Lord's unchanging character
Unlike our world which is in constant flux; God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” As God is so unlike mankind in this regard, He is totally dependable, always fulfilling what He says; Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19).

The nature of unchangeableness

In order for change to occur, something has to be either added or taken away. Both are impossible with God, since He is perfect in holiness and glory! The fact is; there is nothing that could possibly be added to Him or subtracted from Him. Not only so, but God is perfectly consistent in His character. He has no variations in character or in the expressions of His character. Thus, God is not open to external influence, nor is He lacking any degree of internal uniformity.

Unchanging Lordship

God exercises the unchanging purpose of His will to manoeuvre human history to bring into being what He has always determined should be. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:21-22). Everything external to God, which is obviously under His sovereign care, is variable and changeable, but not God Himself who determines all things.

Application of immutability

As believers, we trustingly lean into the unchanging and determinative nature of God. We place our confidence in the trustworthiness of who God is and always shall be. The more changeable this world becomes, the more we embed our dependency in God’s unchanging character. Solomon says it well; the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:26). Proven, trustworthy, and knowable; such is our unchanging Heavenly Father who we know through His Son Jesus Christ (who also) is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
 
Realise that the unexpected pains wrongly inflicted upon us by others, which often bring unwanted changes, are not reflective of God’s character. Yet the Lord does use them to grow us closer to him and develop greater Christ-likeness. In spite of life’s pains, the Lord’s mercy is consistently seen in that every good gift and every perfect gift (which) is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

The greatness of immutability

He who is the Ancient of Days, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; He whose unchangeableness is legendary in maintaining His dominion, upholding His righteousness, and displaying His glory.  To Him we cling. In Him alone we place our unreserved trust. Him we adore, and in Him we resolve to grow in faithfulness.
 
I encourage you today, as the Lord’s redeemed, to enthusiasticallyproclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Let the world hear you celebrate the unchangeable character of our God!

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

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Trust in God's unchanging character

Grow in the Patience of God

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Amongst the many wonderful qualities of love, the apostle Paul tells us that; “Love is patient(1 Corinthians 13:4). Here we see that patience grows out of love, it’s the product of love, and it’s the unavoidable and irresistible child of love.

Grow in the Patience of God

Most of us can recognise impatience at work within the character of another person. They want what they want, and they want it now! Not so the child of God. That’s because patience trusts in God’s compassionate sovereignty rather than getting flustered with its inability to control life. Why, because patience expresses the character of the indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is He who enables us to “be patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12) as we persevere in trusting prayer and obedient behaviour.

God’s Word tells the full story

When reading the Bible, it’s not long before you see the Lord’s patience when dealing with belligerent humanity. We see God’s evangelistic heart evidenced as the apostle Peter explains; “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared” (1 Peter 3:20). For 120 years Noah persevered as a preacher of righteousness on God’s behalf, while building the ark. Yet only eight people believed Noah’s warning and entered the ark’s safety. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity chose independence from God to their peril.

Patience is also evangelistic by nature because it’s focused on the spiritual wellbeing of its recipients and not simply on self-gratification. We read of this quality once again from Peter; “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). We’re grateful that due to the Lord’s patience He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalms 103:10 NIV). Evangelistic patience delays judgement, creating the opportunity for repentance. It also gives us believers more opportunities to persuade unbelievers to turn to Christ for salvation (2Co 5:11). In this evangelistic patience, we Christians praise God for His long suffering mercy!

We see this quality in the apostle Paul’s life, when he writes to exhort younger Timothy. He explained that he “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 1:16 NIV).

Patience invites today

My friend, do not take the Lord’s patience for granted. Just because you lived today basking in the Lord’s gracious patience, is no guarantee for tomorrow. The timeless cautionary of Hebrews 3:8; “do not harden your hearts” still applies today. With our propensity for standing critically apart from the Lord, in spite of His patience toward us, we should surrender to His loving kindness without delay.

As was proven in my life today, that common enemy of God and man; Satan, will employ all means possible to dissuade you from implementing any degree of faith and obedience in Christ. Surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ never comes easy, and will always be met with resistance. However, as Paul prayed; “that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:10-11).

I encourage you today; “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

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

Grow in the Patience of God

Grow in the Patience of God

Consider Your Soul in Light of Eternity

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I encourage you to consider your soul

The human soul is almost never spoken of by the world. The media, public education, public health, and social media seem to have wished the soul into non-existence with their silence on the matter. However, God is not so easily silenced on this critical component of life.

Consider Your Soul in Light of Eternity

Instinctively, we humans get hung up acquiring stuff. Accumulating things which we think will somehow benefit us and our descendants forever. Thankfully, Jesus correctly prioritised the value of stuff compared to the soul when He asked; “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Your soul is of infinitely greater value to God than any amount of money or possessions that you may accumulate in this short earthly life. The fact is; there is nothing in this world capable of securing a reservation for the eternal soul we possess.

Jesus Christ alone has paid the price on the cross of Calvary by purchasing the forgiveness required to set our souls free from the death penalty our independence and sins demand. The apostle Peter says that by believing in Jesus, you are obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).

Soul Grown Belief

Belief goes like this; a repentant sinner turns to Jesus and attaches their affection wholly on the Lord. It’s as Jesus explained to the lawyer attempting to trick him; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Turning your life to live for Christ begins with the surrender of Heart, soul, and mind, to loving the Lord before all else. Faith engages our entire being for the purpose of living out the spiritual expressions of worship for which we were created.

Jesus warned that we should not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Obviously, the soul is eternal, whereas the physical body is mortal and finite. Yet God has ultimate control over the destiny of both. Therefore, He is worthy of our utmost reverence as the one who oversees the course of our souls.

The apostle John recognised that at an earthy level, physical health is of no greater value than the soul. He prayed; that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1:2). John’s point is profoundly simple, yet easily missed. For the believer in Jesus Christ, the spiritual health of the soul sets the benchmark by which all other wellness in life is measured. The greatest events of life, even our emotional and physical health at their very best, can only ever achieve second place to the condition of our regenerated souls in Jesus Christ.

Faith recognises the importance of helping others to let the Lord cleanse their souls also. Evidence of an authentic faith is that Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Christians love others because their own souls have been purified by Christ. The challenge is to prevent our fleshly weaknesses from contaminating that which Christ has purified.

Today, I encourage you to consider your soul, and the souls of those you rub shoulders with.

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

Consider Your Soul in Light of Eternity

Consider Your Soul in Light of Eternity

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