Month: November 2017

Step out in faith and keep in step with the Holy Spirit

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I encourage you to step out in faith and keep in step with the Holy Spirit

To step out in faith requires movement with dependant trust in God. Faith is not a spectator of life, nor is it a passive side-line critic of others. Rather, faith permeates life’s desires and activities looking to God to accomplish the things we are not capable of achieving for Christ without divine intervention.

Step out in faith and keep in step with the Holy Spirit

More often than not, when a Christian hears about stepping out in faith they think of heading off to some remote Tim-buck-too place to serve God as a missionary. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Tim-buck-too may occasionally be where God leads; for the most part He already has you precisely where He wants you. Rather, faith speaks of a stepping up, being willing to surrender your all in your present situation rather than changing the environment, even though occasionally an environment change may be needed.

There are times when faith pauses movement for the purpose of listening and evaluation, but never due to disinterest, selfishness or apathy. It’s a healthy soul that is willing to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).

Lessons From Faith

On the occasion that Paul corrected Peter, he explained; “When I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” (Galatians 2:14). Faith calls for alignment of gospel truth and behaviour. Faithless behaviour gets out of step with truth, meaning we need to change in order to reestablish a faithful and truthful walk with the Lord. Faith always promotes spiritual and biblical integrity!

Jesus explained to Peter how He was praying for him in light of his upcoming denials. “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Stepping out in faith often requires recovery from failure first. Faith turns from defeat to persevering belief that announces the reality of living for Christ through service. Like Peter, when realising personal failure, you trust God to turn your desires and circumstances to truly serving God’s people. Obviously this takes a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit within. Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit inspires believers to live in sync with Him; “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25 NIV).

Faith and Storms

When Jesus calmed the storm which He had slept through; He awakened to a group of terrified disciples in the boat. Jesus’ response was; “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:40-41). Faith in Christ puts fear in its place. It’s faith in the sovereign Lordship of Christ which dispels fear; replacing it with peace, confidence, security and trusting desire.

There may be a hundred and one reasons why you feel stifled, unmotivated, or discouraged in your Christian walk. Quite likely, there may be people crushing you, discouraging you or holding you back. Be encouraged, faith is the inner resource empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is His energised faith which motivates the courage needed to step out against the odds and any opposition, moving you in a direction where God’s will can be fulfilled in your life

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

Step out in faith and keep in step with the Holy Spirit

Step out in faith and keep in step with the Holy Spirit

Grow and stretch your faith

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I encourage you to grow and stretch your faith

Faith needs to grow and stretch in order to mature us “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 4:13). God didn’t gift us with faith expecting us to neglect it and watch it shrivel then wither away. You see, if believers are not proactive in a spiritual faith exercise program, nothing grows, and eventually life stagnates and loses it’s vitality of life in Christ. If left alone, so-called confessed faith soon ceases to be faith, and eventually the self-deceiving human heart will regress to disbelief and indifference.

Grow and stretch your faith

For the believer; “we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). The lover of Christ affirms that they “hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28) and that “in Christ Jesus (we) are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:26). While there is unitedness between believers, there is equally uniqueness. Paul explained to the Romans that “we have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith…” (Romans 12:6). Faith is the means by which God engages with His people and it is that same faith which must be exercised in order to develop and mature in our relationship with Christ.

If we do not put faith to work, we invariably become reclusive and elusive of service for the Saviour. Eventually, diminished faith will happily allow you to become spiritually isolated from God’s people. And so the arch enemy of Christ wins the faithless heart and great disgrace occurs.

Faith Benefits Everyone

Paul makes this very point to the Corinthians; “as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand” (2 Corinthians 10:15). Those who minister in our lives and Churches gain advanced avenues for administering Christ to us as we develop more and more in our expressions of faith.

For those of you who are young, or at least young in your Christian walk, Paul encourages you with these words; “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).  Your trusting belief in Christ as Lord is to motivate loving obedience which expresses itself through trustworthy and courageous service.

For those of us who have walked with the Lord longer; “be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Age does not protect us from the relentless attaches of the enemy, but with age should come the wisdom that causes us to stretch spiritual mussels through trusting prayers and courageous actions.

Faith Implications

So, faith that continues to grow and stretch, is faith that chooses to step outside of our comfort zone. It’s genuine belief that generates spiritual tenacity which perseveres without compromise in spite of opposition. It’s a dependency upon the filling of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God that causes a holy discontentment with the status quo by looking for more of Christ in everything.

Put simply, growing faith stretches through the entirety of our lives. It presses through every relationship, and through every human endeavour we engage in. It does not settle for anything less than a growing promotion of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. I encourage you; “live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).

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

Grow and stretch your faith

Grow and stretch your faith

Build upon the certainty of faith

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I encourage you to build upon the certainty of faith

Certainty of faith gets challenged when life dishes up trouble, forcing us to live through circumstances we never dreamed would come our way. However, it’s during those times that genuine faith recognises the providence of God who oversees our lives, allowing us to focus on the Lord for determination to endure and strength for stability.

Build upon the certainty of faith

Faith, being “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) looks past the present to focus on the God who rules over time and events. Faith in and of itself is not the end, but the means to engage with the one true God, who is the beginning and the end of all things (Isa 46:9-10; Rev 22:13). Faith recognises the enormity of God, trusting His purpose for our circumstances, knowing that He sets the boundaries for all things to work within.

Human limitations

While our limited human understanding often leads us to confusion, insecurity and fear, it’s God who administers our lives even in those dark times. Job, having lost everything, while suffering both physically and mentally, acknowledged that for God “even the darkness is not dark… the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Psalms 139:12). The Lord sees and understands your darkest times with perfect clarity. Nothing escapes His loving and intimate knowledge of your life.

Through difficulties the Lord creates opportunities for us to honour Him in ways we could never have imagined and through circumstances we would never have planned. The Lord does this so “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). Struggles awaken our senses to the most important and foundational truths which we should value most. Certainty of faith is cemented in gospel truth because “we have been justified by faith; we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). We cling to these rock solid truths by faith because they present the clarity of the unchangeable Lord Jesus Christ; in Him we trust, especially when our vision is blurred by struggles.

Our human interaction with faith is initiated by the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:3; Eph 2:8-9; 2Co 4:13), then “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). We are dependent upon God’s Word for our growth and certainty of faith. Stop spending personal time in God’s Word and the assurance that faith produces within you will reduce progressively. Despair will begin to set in with hopelessness soon to follow.

Faith’s foundation

Faith is the ground block of Christian reality, the first building block on which all other spiritual qualities are stacked. Therefore, “be watchful, stand firm in the faith …be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13), “…walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7). Grip faith tightly beloved, “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12). Be unashamed to share with your unsaved friends, those lost and entrapped by sin; “that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28).

Today, determine to build upon the certainty of faith. “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life…” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

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

Build upon the certainty of faith

Build upon the certainty of faith

Visible faith that’s productive for Christ

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I encourage you to live visible faith that’s productive for Christ

It’s far too easy to arrive at the end of a day only to realise that you’ve not achieved anything productive as you intended. Likewise, it’s easy to live a decade only to wake up one morning realising that you’ve achieved very little for the Lord Jesus Christ. While there are many possible reasons for this common dilemma, only God has given us the spiritual resources that guarantee productivity for Christ that leaves no regrets.

Visible faith that’s productive for Christ

In the final months of his life on earth, the apostle Peter spells out God’s many provisions for believers in Christ.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord has left nothing to chance, no earthly priority can over-rule His purpose for His people, and no earthly excuse is good enough to deny Him.

A Divine Explanation

Peter explains that all divine resources are to be channelled by us so that we “…make every effort to supplement  faith with virtue, …knowledge, …self-control, …steadfastness, …godliness, …brotherly affection, and …love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Peter understood from his life of walking with Christ, that “if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).

What an amazing promise; a life that’s productive for Christ. The implications are that you will be kept, and preserved without being dragged back to the old life of self and sin. This is a positive promise for preventing the negative being true in your life as both ineffective and unfruitful character are removed from your spiritual lives.

First Steps

Now, it’s the prerequisite that we need to understand and apply in our lives so that the promise can be fulfilled; “if these qualities are yours and are increasing” (2 Peter 1:8). First, you must possess these qualities in some measure in Christ. Second, they need to be alive, not stagnant, not dormant, not in the back ground, but active. Third, they need to be growing, advancing, and increasing. These qualities are not intended to be theoretical information only. They are not simply a good topic for discussion at Home Group. These are the actual connections between belief and reality in your Christian walk. These qualities are what synchronise your security in Christ with your assurance in Christ.

The Warning

Peter continues, warning; “whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Sadly, if these character qualities are not true in our lives, there becomes a spiritual disconnect. Consequently, our near-sightedness gives us smoky vision which leads us to shut our eyes so that we cannot see the Lord’s wonderful provisions.

I encourage you to daily, thoughtfully and prayerfully, seek the Lord to energise you to “make every effort to supplement faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.” This is how you “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). The Lord will be glorified and you will experience avenues of productive service for the Saviour you never imagined.

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

Visible faith that’s productive for Christ

Visible faith that’s productive for Christ

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