Month: August 2017

Evaluate who and what you trust in

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I encourage you to evaluate who and what you trust in

Trust is one of those peculiar things which can be quite illusive for all soughts of reasons. We all value people who are trustworthy. Even those who don’t consider themselves trustworthy, look for people they can trust.

Evaluate who and what you trust in
Most of us go through periods feeling as if there is no one in whom you can fully trust without doubts or fears. Humans crave friendships in which they can place complete confidence without fear of being taken advantage of or being disappointed.

David, the psalmist, possessed an uncommon degree of understanding on this critical issue of trust. He explains; 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). Trust speaks of dependence upon the Lord, while hope speaks of the certain fulfilment of trust in God. Therefore, believers wait patiently, not knowing exactly how or when God will fulfil His plans, but because He is God, He will; and with that we are content.

It works like this; we are to attach our attention, our emotions, and our spirituality, consciously and subconsciously, to the unchangeable holy character of God. It’s the Lord’s inability to violate His relationship with us, plus His enthusiasm to express loving mercy, which enables us to experience gladness that overshadows life’s pains.

It’s not haphazard

We often think of trust as something that just happens at some point in a relationship when it’s earned according to our felt needs. Thus, we simply become aware that we are trusting in someone else. However, with God it’s different. He invites us to engage our trust in Him through our conscious choice. Belief, emotion, intellect, and behaviour are all activated when we say “I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God’” (Psalms 31:14).

For those feeling so beaten by life’s disappointments that they feel incapable of trust, God says; Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust” (Psalms 40:4). Out of the desperation of an abused soul, the weak child of God invites their Lord to supernaturally become the trust mechanism within them. God then enables them to place that very trust back in Him as Lord. This work of trust development by God within Christians enables them to say; When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me”?  (Psalms 56:3-4).

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalms 37:5). Make no mistake; our choice to trust activates a response from the Lord. We trust; God acts! Therefore, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2 NIV). Give the Saviour your attention by leaning more and more on the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, observe Him responding to those decisions to depend upon Him, and then respond with thanks.                                                                                                     

I encourage you to evaluate your heart. Scrutinise your learned behaviours. Examine how you engage with others, with life in general, and with God. It may not be the most comfortable exercise you’ve ever done, but it can be revealing of some disturbing realities which the Lord wants you to change as an act of faith in Him. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

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

Evaluate who and what you trust in

Evaluate who and what you trust in

Strive to excel in building up the Church

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Be encouraged to excel in building up the Church

Jesus, speaking in Matthew 16:18 of building as the architect of the Church stated; “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. The Lord of Lords informed that His full measure of divinity is committed to the unstoppable project of establishing His kingdom through His church. No earthly or spiritual powers of opposition are capable of prevailing against Him. Scripture records this unchangeable fact, history proves it to be true, and the future shall see it brought to completion.

Strive to excel in building up the Church

Just as Christ is unmovable, so in Him, we too can be unmovable as we endure in the faith. It’s with this heavenly confidence the apostle Paul affirms “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Not only will the entire structure of the Church be finalised, but the individual stones used in construction of the Church shall be brought to mature Christ-like perfection in the final assembly. Praise God for the forgone conclusion of glorification in Christ!

The personal nature to building

In spite of personal struggles and external opposition, believers align themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12). We recognise our fellow believers are far more than inconsequential joy-riders in life. They, like us, are the children of God. Together in Christ we are the product of divine election, the working out of God’s perfect will through redemption (Eph 1:5-7).

As Christians, it’s our privilege to join the Lord, being energised by His Spirit and equipped with His Word to encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). There is no place for cutting each other down or moaning of imperfections that simply reflect our own imperfections. There is no time for sitting on the side-line of church life consumed with self, while runners in the race of faith pass us by. Instead, lets lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Relational Evangelism

When our relationships fail in reflecting Christ’s character, those watching on soon become aware of the work still required within us, and the gospel testimony of His church is damaged. The power of the Church’s testimony is not in theological perfection, although unity in truth is extremely important. No, the power of our testimony is that all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

May Christ’s prayer for His disciples be fulfilled in our lives, where He prayed; “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). The Lord’s credibility before the unbelieving world is greatly determined by believer’s willingness to surrender to oneness in Christ.

What a humbling privilege; being entrusted with building fellow believers up while securing a favourable testimony for Christ before a dying world. The renown of Christ’s name is to be our consuming passion, and the replication of Christ’s character in fellow believers is to be our motivation for service. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Let’s strive as one person in excelling at building up the Church.

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

Strive to excel in building up the Church

Strive to excel in building up the Church

Rejoice in our common blessings in Christ

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I encourage you to rejoice in our common blessings in Christ

The Church is God’s place of common blessing for the redeemed in Christ. While there is great diversity within the church, there is even greater commonality in Christ. The testimony of the early church was that all who believed were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44). What was true of those early believers is also true of us today; each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).  

Rejoice in our common blessings in Christ

All who place faith in Christ Jesus as Lord belong to the same Heavenly Father, through the same Son of God, and are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit. As the apostle Paul reminded Titus, he was a true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). The Church is not simply a club to which we apply for membership, and as long as we pay the subscription fees, we get to participate. As believers in Christ, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Those born again by the Holy Spirit form the Church, which is Christ’s present day body in the world through human flesh (Jn 3:1-21; 1Pe 1:23). The apostle Paul explained to the Corinthian believers how …God has so composed the body… that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

Church Membership

Membership is not optional, nor is it by some natural selection process. Rather, membership has been purchased by Christ’s death in your place for your sin. In fact, the Church has no power to initiate people into itself or to secure existing members. It is Christ alone who qualifies and secures. Our part is simply to place dependant faith in Christ.

God’s ingenious design for His Church surpasses anything mankind could have thought up. Christ himself is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour” (Ephesians 5:23). As head, He has gifted the Church with leaders to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13). Nothing has been left to chance. Oneness in Christ in belief and in loving service are the accurate expressions of Christ in His body.

Amongst Church members “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit equally engage their Church to secure, affirm, and grow her. Our part is to recognise His work in each other and praise Him for it while encouraging one another to grow mature and selfless in Christ.

Today, if you recognise these truths,arm yourselves with the same way of thinking(1 Peter 4:1). This takes humility, sacrifice, time and patience. I encourage you to rejoice with the same Spirit, in the same Lord, for the glory of our same Heavenly Father.

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

Rejoice in our common blessings in Christ

Rejoice in our common blessings in Christ

Live for one another and watch God at work

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I encourage you to live for one another and watch God at work

Christian living fleshes out this fact; “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5). We belong to each other as much as we belong to Christ. At rebirth we became as spiritually intertwined with our fellow believers as we are with Christ. If we belong to Christ, we belong to our fellow Christians. Being a part of the breathing and changing body dynamics of a church can be both challenging and greatly rewarding, often all at the same time. The glue that brings us together, and holds us together, is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Live for one another and watch God at work

How we interact with one another should always begin by welcoming “one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). God’s glory is the bullseye of every engagement we have with fellow believers, because His Son is the foundation of every relationship we have in Christ. Therefore, by “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) we give expression to the reality of Christ in our lives.

By being “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32) we are a testimony of Christ’s power through the gospel. It’s as the apostle John explained; “this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23). Recognising the significance of, and loving fellow believers is authentic evidence of genuine belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Christian relationships are about Christ, not us. James urges us not to “speak evil against one another,” nor to “grumble against one another” (James 4:11; 5:9). Why, because moaning violates our relationship with Christ who lives in both you and your brother or sister in the Lord. Paul told the believers in Rome to “outdo one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10), for this is surely the most appropriate way for brothers and sisters in God’s family to treat each other. Christ, who lives in your fellow believer by His Holy Spirit, is our motivation to “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16). This prevents us from passing “judgement on one another…” instead, we “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Romans 14:13).

This protective relationship with our fellow saints is reflective of our highest esteem of Christ’s relationship with us. This heavenly connection that Christians uniquely enjoy is to motivate us to cloth ourselves “with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). We strive for each other with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up… always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 15). Above all, keep loving one another earnestly” (1 Peter 4:8). “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV).

Today, view your fellow believer as the Saviour views them. Encourage them also to live for one another and watch God at work. God will be pleased, believers will be blessed, and the world will see Christ through us all.

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

Live for one another and watch God at work

Live for one another and watch God at work

Grow Together in Christ and for Christ

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I encourage you to grow together in Christ and for Christ

As God’s children we recognise that we are made “alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). Christians have been “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2). This was God’s eternal intention, for all Christian relationships to begin with and continue in the Christ centred grace of salvation. It’s a treasure to have friendships continually growing together in there value, appreciation of each other, and sweetness because of Christ.

Grow together in Christ and for Christ

The Lord’s intent and design for His church is that “the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Unfortunately, people who are influenced by sin work against God’s purposes for the rich blessings of togetherness.

Sadly, it’s mankind who separates and isolates relationships. Sin motivates people to promote self to be their highest priority. Once self is the supreme ruler of the heart, everything and everyone is able to be sacrificed in order to satisfy its cravings. Selfishness destroys the togetherness of God’s people. It has no concern for the damage it causes, just as long as it gets what it wants. But not so for the children of God!

Love’s Togetherness

Praise God, He has given the gift of love, planted within us (Romans 5:5) to be used for His purposes and glory. Therefore, “above all… we are to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). Love enhances and advances Christian togetherness. Love never works to separate or isolate. Rather, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:25), love pulls together in fellowship at the expense of selfishness, for the benefit of others.

Our completeness in Christ is experienced more intimately as “one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). We are so intertwined in Christ that as we engage with each other in ‘agape’ love, we experience the reality of the risen Christ. Therefore Paul prayed; “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). Togetherness glorifies God by displaying His character, while individuality dishonours our Heavenly Father through selfishness.

It is our privilege to watch with understanding as the Lord builds His Church (Mat 16:18). In Christ, His Church is “being joined together, [and] grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). We have the joy of engaging with fellow believers in cooperation with the Lord who is actively synchronised with our Christian relationships.

Gospel Togetherness

As unbelievers view and interact with the Church, they taste the character of the Lord Jesus Christ through the relationships of God’s children. They experience the “bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) which they don’t experience in the world. This is body evangelism. “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).

I encourage you to live Christ through enriching your togetherness with fellow believers. In this our Saviour is glorified, our fellow saints are blessed, and the world will see God’s gospel love through you.

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

Grow Together in Christ and for Christ

Grow Together in Christ and for Christ

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