Month: May 2017

See temptation for what it really is

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I encourage you to see temptation for what it really is

Temptation in and of itself is neutral. However, its desire to lead you away from God is far from neutral.  Temptation is heavily weighted by all our spiritual enemies against both the Christian and God.

See temptation for what it really is

Universally, temptation has simple objectives. First, it seeks to grow disbelief in God and His Son Jesus Christ. Secondly, it strives to normalise sinful behaviour so that you will be desensitised to the offense that sin is to Holy God. Thirdly, it wants you to think that sin is the only thing that will bring you pleasure in this life, making eternity and ultimate judgment of no significance.

Temptation is typically a liar, endeavouring to convince you that there will be no negative consequences for its proposed pleasures. It’s a social manipulator, meaning it uses the apparent pleasure that others are having without any visible consequences, as evidence that there is no God and no penalty for sin. It’s a deceptive diverter, focusing your attention on others faults, thereby making you look better to yourself.

Make no mistake; temptation only wants one thing of you, to do sin. It settles for nothing less than total domination and absolute mastery. Give it an inch, and it will take your whole life and soul. That harmless little misdemeanour quickly grows to be a soul devouring monster. Its direction is always downhill, into greater and more consuming sin that will blind you. It dulls your spiritual and moral senses, which is a great strategy since its goal is death to your soul.

Doctor Luke’s Witness

Doctor Luke describes the time when Jesus was “being tempted by the devil” in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). Here’s a few helpful observations:

  • :2 Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, and was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, where temptation would take place .
  • :2 The devil tempted Jesus when He was at a physical low due to having nothing to eat for 4 days.
  • :3 The devil spoke in plain language, so that Jesus understand clearly what the allurement to sin was.
  • :4,8,12 Jesus’ reply to the devil for each temptation was with God’s Word. Scripture alone is authoritative against demonic attach.
  • :5 The devil took Jesus to places where he could use the most appealing enticements in the temptations.
  • :4-7 The devil clearly had one simple desire for Jesus, and he was happy to give a whole bunch of earthly things as a bribe. “And the devil took him (Jesus) up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, to you I will give all this authority and their glory… If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
  • :7 Giving into temptation is an act of worship to Satan, and he knows it, even if we don’t.
  • :10 The devil will happily use Christians, Church, even Scripture, in his attempts to lure you into sin.
  • :13 The devil, knowing that he had failed, departed. His intention was to look for another opportunity to seduce Jesus. He’s a relentless and tireless enemy with no moral compass to hold him back from seeking your destruction. Once he thinks that he knows your fleshly weakness, he will persist at that soft spot in his endeavour to seduce you.

Today, be encouraged to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). See today’s temptations as the nightmare they really are!

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

Give consideration to Holy Spirit conviction

Give consideration to Holy Spirit conviction

Give consideration to Holy Spirit conviction

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I encourage you to consider Holy Spirit conviction

The conscience and beliefs are both important, but we would be severely debilitated without the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction. He picks up where conscience and belief fall short in delivering the compelling persuasion of God, employing our inner senses to plead His case in alignment with God’s Word and the Father’s will.

Give consideration to the Holy Spirit's conviction

As “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:13), He administers both positive and negative compulsions derived from the truth that we’ve read from the Bible (John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:21). His intention is to bring about our personal spiritual transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18). He does this work in both the saved and the unsaved. Obviously; in the unsaved, it’s to bring about repentance of sin leading to salvation. While in the saved, it’s to bring about affirmation, sanctification and guidance.

If you don’t personally know Jesus Christ; realise that God’s Spirit convicts in order to capture your attention to the fact that “You must be born again.” Like Nicodemus, you need to understand that just as “the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8). You can’t predict His workings, you cannot control His interactions in your life, and you cannot manipulate His purposes. His silent voice speaks within, sometimes softly and sometimes loudly, alerting you of spiritual conflict that only surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour will resolve.

You see, we humans need more than just moral knowledge of right and wrong. Having a sympathetic attitude towards God will not get you into Heaven. Yes, some read the Bible becoming aware that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). They may even realise that “no immoral, impure or greedy person… has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5 NIV). Yet, in spite of their understanding of the consequences, they continue to live in the sin of independence from God. If all you experience in your understanding is a pang of conscience, anxiety at the thought of judgment, or an academic awareness of hell; then you have never truly known the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin.

The Holy Spirit does not get your attention just for your sake. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit’s purpose in coming into this world was to convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). He has been sent to “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). He does not intervene your life to promote a better self-image or for self-advancement. No, His mission is far more meaningful and purposeful. It’s precisely as Jesus said of the Holy Spirit; “He will glorify me” (John 16:14). God’s Spirit always convicts to promote and glorify Jesus Christ within us.

He employs the truth of Scripture (John 17:17) as His instrument of conviction. The Helper expresses Himself within us with compelling reminders that He wants us, He will not let go of us, and that He perseveres with us. Conviction utilises nagging affirmation and challenges of guilt in order to heighten your awareness of His holy standards regarding your sin, His righteousness, and the inescapable judgment that awaits us all.

Today, be encouraged, If you are aware that the Spirit of the living God is convicting you, don’t ignore Him. Give Christ your faith, your trust, your surrender. Turn from living for self in preference to living for the Lord Jesus Christ!

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

Give consideration to Holy Spirit conviction

Give consideration to Holy Spirit conviction

Develop biblical convictions in place of preferences

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I encourage you to develop biblical convictions in place of personal preferences

While the conscience is our internal moral and spiritual warning mechanism gifted by God, He has also granted mankind the ability to consciously prioritise beliefs. We call the strongest of these beliefs convictions. Once again, there are two levels of conviction, the natural, and the Holy Spirit energised. Today we shall consider our natural responsibility to grow convictions.

Develop biblical convictions in place of personal preferences

Christians can be surprisingly vulnerable when it comes to confusing natural conscience with personal convictions, not to mention the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. So, it’s important to have some degree of clarity about these three distinctive facets of Christian living. We have the responsibility to both train our consciences and determine our strongest moral and spiritual beliefs.

By convictions, I’m referring to “the state of being convinced,” or a “fixed and strong belief.” Therefore, by biblical convictions, I mean convictions established from what the Bible actually says and illustrates. To be clear, conviction stands opposed to doubt, assumption, personal preference, and scepticism. These biblical convictions serve as the absolute index for spiritual and moral values in our lives; fuelling our conscience and behaviour.

Reality Check

We can’t deny that we’re capable of doing either a good or bad job of this. We educate our conscience and determine our strongest convictions based on acceptance of the literal truth of God’s Word, or not. There are no other options.

If we consider that our understanding of life, mankind, and eternity is superior to God’s understanding; then we will obviously promote our feelings and opinions to the highest ranking. On the other hand, if we yield to the Lord’s infinite superiority, we will adopt His truths, His moral purity, and His behavioural integrity to the highest ruling position in our lives.

Our 3 Step Response

First, as children of God, we agree with God when He says; “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). We simply think different to God! Therein lies our greatest and most costly weakness!

Second, as children of God, we choose to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not to lean on our own understanding. In all our ways we seek to acknowledge him, looking to Him to make straight our paths (derived from Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Third, as children of God, we want for ourselves the same as Jesus prayed for His disciples. That God will “Sanctify them (us) in the truth; (acknowledging that) your word is truth” (John 17:17). This step is the death wish to self-opinion being authoritative in our thinking. Rather, God’s written Word takes the ruling seat.

From these three steps of faith we establish the basis for developing biblical convictions.

We agree that; “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We believe in the absoluteness of the unseen realities God tells us about.

We agree that; “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof (conviction), for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We believe that God’s written Word is the absolute template for all our convictions, for the correcting changes required to make us think like God, and for our education in living a righteous life as Jesus Christ did.

Today, I especially want to encourage you to surrender your convictions to God. Choose to let Him be God of your beliefs and the subsequent changed behaviours that must follow. In so doing, God will be glorified, you will be blessed, and others will be encouraged by your courageous faith.

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

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

Educate your conscience rightly

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Be encouraged to educate your conscience rightly

Growing a God honouring conscience, and responding to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, are two facets of Christian living worthy of your attention. Today we shall consider the conscience.

We usually think of the conscience in negative terms, however, it’s designed to function equally as a positive affirming mechanism; their thoughts now accusing (negative), now even defending (positive) them (Romans 2:14-15 NIV).

As wonderful as the conscience is, it does not force or dictate the decisions we make. Error, tradition, human rationale, and wrong moral influences can all corrupt and prevent the conscience from working correctly (Colossians 2:6-8, 20-23). Paul explained to the Corinthians that his conscience could even send incorrect messages;My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent” (1 Corinthians 4:4 NIV).

How it works

Conscience is the engine that drives our emotions and feelings. When the conscience fires warning signals, the emotions experience negative feelings. Likewise, when conscience fires signals of affirmation, the emotions experience positive feelings (Romans 2:14-15).

Because conscience is a human mechanism (created by God), it requires training, and feeding with information to determine its values. It is continuously feeding on the values of your activities; good, neutral, and bad. It subconsciously extracts the values without you even being aware of what it’s doing. Therefore conscience, having silently been feed by you, establishes a dictionary (or contents page) of values, which it has collected from all your thoughts and activities.

These values are silently categorised into a moral order of priority, or significance, from weakest to strongest. This is important, because conscience activates and sends out signals based on the highest or strongest values in its list. Conscience does not determine the correctness or righteousness of its values, it only collects and works with the values you have fed it.

So, when the time arrives for your conscience to act, it will only fire out signals in keeping with the values you predominantly provided it with. Herein lies the conflict. You can say that you believe whatever you want, but your conscience has been feeding on what you read, what you listen to, what you watch, the influences of the company you keep, and what you think about mostly. It will show you exactly what is within yourself by responding based upon those accumulated values.

This is why it is so important for the Christian to input God’s truth, godly friendship, and God centred worship; so the conscience can assimilate His truth into its strongest and highest priorities (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:24-25). This empowers our human conscience to fire out both warning and affirmation signals in keeping with God’s Word. Sanctification of we believers can be either enriched or damaged by our conscience being trained rightly or not, and by our surrender to authority of God’s Word, the Bible.

How efficiently the conscience functions is determined by the amount of truth we take in, by the degree of obedience to God’s Word, and by the degree to which we keep our conscience unstained by evil. It’s as Paul instructed concerning deacons, we all should “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9). Meaning, our beliefs and living should not violate the truth we know from Scripture regarding our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Be encouraged to educate your conscience rightly, for the glory of God and for His blessing in our lives and those we influence.

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

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

Be people who listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

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I encourage you to be people who listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ
The subject of conviction is spoken of little now-a-days. Never-the-less, conviction remains a primary activity of the Holy Spirit, whether recognised and acknowledged or not. Jesus, explaining to the disciples about the workings of the Holy Spirit said; “he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). Here, the Greek word used for ‘convict’ in the original Bible language means to admonish, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, or reprove. It’s the function of positively applying negative persuasion.
 
Here Jesus explained that the primary areas of interest for the Holy Spirit in this work are; “sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). So, Holy Spirit conviction has nothing to do with that new item you want to buy, the holiday you would like, the promising financial investment being offered, or gaining popularity and acceptance with people. Conviction is a spiritual work, addressing spiritual realities, with spiritual solutions and goals.
 
The writer of Hebrews tell us that; “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Here, the word used for ‘conviction’ means to give proof, evidence, and reproof. Faith in Jesus Christ is not grown in the vacuum of ignorance. Rather, the growing persuasion of evidence brings the weight of responsibility upon the soul, requiring a response. Thus, conviction usually works in conjunction with God’s Word (The Bible).
 
While conviction may engage the conscience to amplify its message, they are two different things. Yes, the human conscience is a spectacular mechanism built into everyone by God, but it does not and cannot produce conviction. Conscience is human based while conviction is Holy Spirit based. Conviction is a whole other level of spiritual engagement by the Lord. You see, the conscience can be wrongly educated, misinformed, even deceived; but the Holy Spirit is not susceptible to any of these weaknesses. 
 
Remember, Jesus said that when “the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). When the Spirit of the living God engages someone through conviction, there’s no mistake, no misrepresentation of Scripture, and no inaccuracy in the expression of divine truth. The recipient has no doubt as to the life changing seriousness of the matter at hand. The human participant is gripped by the realisation of sovereign intervention, and the responsibility to respond in surrender to the will of God. 
 
The apostle Paul explained to the Thessalonians; “our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). As Jesus informed the disciples “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). Proclamation of, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the central purpose for the Holy Spirit’s ministry. Likewise, Paul encouraged believers to “reach all the riches of full assurance (Conviction) of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ” (Colossians 2:2).
 
This is, after all, the work of God’s Spirit, to transition people from disbelief to belief, from disobedience to obedience, from indifference to submission, and from mediocrity to excellence. None of which comes natural to mankind. Without the penetrating voice of motivating conviction, we would most likely do and change little, if anything, for God.

I encourage you to listen to, and act upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit that grows out of the Word of God for the glory of Jesus Christ.

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

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

Listen to conviction for Jesus Christ

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