Month: July 2017

Aim to be complete in your faith for God

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I encourage you; aim to be complete in your faith

Aim to be complete in your faith

It’s faith in God that aims at the goal of being complete in our relationship with Jesus Christ and others. James, Jesus younger half-brother, recognised the believer’s need to persevere in working toward spiritual completeness. This Christian maturity is to impact every sphere of life, recognising that nothing is to be deprived of Christ’s influence.

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind (James 1:2-6 NET).

Brotherly wisdom

Here, James draws our attention to the usefulness of trials. The very thing which the world presents as negative, God uses for His glory and our benefit. Christians receive assurance from the presence of all sorts of trials” because God uses them to test the authenticity of our faith in Him. Obviously, if faith is genuine, it will persevere through struggles. Whereas pretend faith is temporary by nature; usually dictated by circumstances and feelings and always leading its victims away from the Lord.

Realise that a believer’s endurance” through trials, including personal failures and stumblings, gives evidence of genuine faith. This is God’s design for the progressive development of our faith. While many simply give up when the going gets tough, brothers and sisters” in the Lord “consider it nothing but joy.” This is because they understand God’s purposes for growing mutual comfort, support and maturity within His family. Togetherness in relationship loyalty is vital for the outcome of spiritual completeness! Believers need their fellow believers in order to grow.

The unfairness of half portions

Most of us dislike it when we receive incomplete things in life. Half portions of anything when we expected to receive a whole portion leave us feeling robbed. So it is in our walk with the Lord. God’s love for our spiritual completeness of character permits and even orchestrates struggles to aid us in this endeavour. Our maturity and holiness means everything to our Heavenly Father. He’s willing to risk whatever is needed to advance our personal development into likeness of His Son.

It’s our responsibility to let endurance have its perfect effect.” Bailing out on God robs us of growing to the full measure of maturity which results with us recognising that we are not deficient in anything” in Christ. This fantastic goal in Christian life is to be shared with fellow believers, walking together, growing in like-minded purpose of Christ’s development together.

It’s reassuring to know that if anyone is deficient in wisdom,” we can ask God for it. We certainly need lots of wisdom to endure for the Lord while we “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). We pursue this “in faith without doubting,” not “blown and tossed around by the wind,” for together we stand firm, unitedly growing in Christ for His glory.

I encourage you to confess the Apostle Paul’s words; “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Come Lord Jesus!

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

Aim to be complete in your faith

Aim to be complete in your faith

Embrace Obedience Which Involves Sacrifice

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I encourage you to embrace obedience which involves sacrifice

Embrace Obedience Which Involves Sacrifice

Modern attitudes lead people to believe that pleasures are a right, without having to sacrifice in order to have them. But not so with the children of God. The believer’s highest pleasures are found in Christ, with our many earthly pleasures falling secondary under His supremacy. This is because self comes second to Jesus Christ, therefore we live to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Consequentially, the follower of Jesus Christ accepts Jesus claim on their lives; “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The Lord never pretended that following him would not involve personal sacrifice and even times of suffering. Faith in Christ requires that believers take ownership of their commitment to walk in alignment with Christ.

While it’s easy to say that you want to follow Christ, it’s in your self-denial that you see authenticity of the claim. It’s the willingness to daily take upon one-self the cross of identification with the Lord Jesus Christ that truly marks the follower of Christ. Herein lies the Christ-centred motive for obedience to God. Christ “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 5:15).

As always, Christ is our supreme example, particularly as He obeyed His Father’s will at Calvary. “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). Likewise, we are to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).

Amongst the many things Jesus accomplished when He died on the cross, was that He took the judgement of our sin in order that we could receive His righteousness. What a fantastic exchange! However, in doing so, Christ lead by example with the ‘exchange’ principle. We give up the old in order to receive the new. By faith in God, we sacrifice:

  • Foolishness for wisdom
  • Isolation from God’s people for fellowship in the Beloved
  • The wrath of God for the peace of God
  • Animosity and resentment for forgiveness
  • Intoxication for sober mindedness 
  • Eternal damnation for eternal life
  • Hatred for love
  • Selfishness for selflessness
  • Loneliness for assurance and security 
  • Faithlessness for faithfulness 
  • Regret for sweet memories 
  • Despair for hope

Most of us realise that we “are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness”? (Romans 6:16). The child of God chooses to give up the weak things in life in preference for the Lord’s ways. This is what marks us as Christians. Believers have exchanged the life of sin in order to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). We prefer that our lives should be an expression of praise to God over living for self.

I encourage you today, embrace obedience which involves sacrifice. The slight discomfort of surrender is nothing compared to the rich blessing of obedience through doing God’s will. God will be pleased, you will be blessed, and others will be encouraged.

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

Embrace Obedience Which Involves Sacrifice

Embrace Obedience Which Involves Sacrifice

To obey God is to worship God

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I encourage you to obey God as worship of God

To obey God is to worship God

Desires often war within us against the idea of walking with the Lord in obedience. This is because sin works at every level, in the most seductive of ways to lure us away from faithfulness to Christ.

The Lord taught Samuel; “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). We can easily get caught up with doing Christian stuff out of a sense of obligation. We can even sacrifice things for God out of religious duty instead of from loving obedience, thus missing the heart of worshipful living for the Saviour.

Listen then do

Listening to God’s Word and walking in co-operative compliance is the best expression of love for Christ that you are capable of. Unfortunately though, there can be internal conflict which occurs when you mix your old unsaved behaviour with your new life in Christ. As a believer, you can avoid this conflict if you “put 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 takes conscious effort, a determined desire and willingness to allow Christ to change your thinking, your values, your motives, your dreams, and your desires. It’s inviting Christ to exchange the wrong or weak things that bring you pleasure for things that bring Him pleasure, things which are useful for His purposes and beneficial to others.

Prioritise by faith

Our goal as Christians is to express the character of the Lord Jesus Christ in an attitude of worship. It begins and continues when you “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). As the desire to live worshipfully grows, so does your willingness to change the things that hinder, and slow down behavioural worship.

Both obedience and disobedience have tremendous power to alter the course of both our lives and others. Taking your eyes off others, and adjusting your focus from self to Christ is essential if victory is to be the outcome.  Realise that you are not only to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” but also that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). Desiring to obey, wanting to change for Christ; is a sovereign work of the Almighty within you. Follow His lead! This will also allow others to witness the reality of God at work in your life.

Submissively following Jesus Christ is a sweet walk with God because “this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down” (1 John 5:3 NET). God is not a harsh dictator, determined to beat us into submission. Jesus invitation is to “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).

Today, I encourage you to consciously worship the Lord through your obedience to Him. Then you will able to say with the Psalmist; “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalms 119:103), “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore”  (Psalms 113:2).

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

To obey God is to worship God

To obey God is to worship God

Obey for God’s Glory First and Foremost

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I encourage you to obey for God’s Glory First and Foremost.

Obey for God’s Glory First and Foremost

To obey Jesus Christ as Lord is central to the Christian faith! Speaking of obedience may not win you popularity, but it is never-the-less central to our entire social structure. Not only humanly speaking, but it is the bullseye of Christian living.  God’s glory, our ability to recognise and enjoy God’s blessings, the Church’s testimony, and the world’s response to the gospel is directly affected by how we obey God, or not.

It begins with obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ and it continues with persevering through obedient living. And when times of failure come, and they will, we rise in repentance before our Saviour to continue walking in obedience. Stumbling in sin is only a temporary byway that is to be corrected by God’s forgiving grace.

Make no mistake; “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). If Satan can blind unbeliever’s minds to Christ’s glory in the gospel, he will also succeed in making the idea of obeying this Jesus an obscene and unthinkable thing. Sadly, the day of judgement is coming, “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). The entire world is going to be called to an account for their response to the gospel, based upon their obedience to it, or not.

While some shrug off any responsibility to obey, God’s Word speaks clearly and loudly on the matter. From the earliest of Bible history, God explains that the blessings of obedience are many, and the cost of disobedience is high. Listen to how the Lord explained it to Adam; “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Disobedience is expensive; our entire human history gives evidence to this fatal reality.

Listen also to how the Lord explains the importance of this to Israel. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God… and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). “Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever” (Deuteronomy 12:28).  The very best that we can do for ourselves, our children, and everyone else around us, is to trust and obey the Lord. Why, because blessed “are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). Observe the connection in Hebrews 13:20-21; “Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

We were created by God to bear His image through submissive living to His will. Salvation recreated us in Christ Jesus, gifting us with everything that is spiritually good, to bring Him pleasure and glory. We then walk  by faith to express His character and grace through our obedient living for Christ; for His pleasure, for His glory, as a good testimony to the world, as encouragement to one-another, and for the renown of His name.

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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