Month: December 2017

Guard against deceptive festive faith

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I encourage you to guard against deceptive festive faith

Christmas is a wonderful time of celebration, thanksgiving and festive pleasure for Christians. Believers accept as the apostle John did, that “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:2). Peter realised that the Christian’s spiritual life, that is their faith life, is only “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).

Guard against deceptive festive faith

However, there is questionable belief in Jesus which I call ‘festive faith’ which is when the spiritual party syndrome dominates. In other words, your loyalty only lasts as long as the good times last. It’s shallow and immature by nature, it’s where simplistic thoughts rule and fun ranks as the priority while maturity is shunned as irrelevant and legalistic.

Festive faith can only recognise its own kind; it repels absolutes while embracing vagueness. The middle ground is attractive, that spiritual space where neutrality exists, where nothing needs to be stood up for and decisions for Christ have no cost attached.

Questionable faith

It’s festive by nature, pursuing popularity, drawn to that which it deems attractive and happening. It’s similar in essence to the heart attitude of the Pharisees Jesus spoke of; “you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). Festive faith promotes outward beauty and fun while convincing you that inner sin is of no consequence. We live in an age and culture which elevates festive faith for the Church while rejecting “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

By nature Festive faith compromises and is happy to give no consideration to the consequences of its actions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Kingdom of God doesn’t need more boys and girls for Jesus; rather, the Lord desires more men and woman of God. Men and woman of conviction; laying down their lives in surrendered faith, a faith which relentlessly pushes ahead in service for the Saviour. Jesus said it best; “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Spot the real faith

Faith must be more than mantel piece belief. Yes, faith empowers joyful celebration! And yes, faith gives meaning and understanding of life. Faith enriches God’s people with the assurance of security in Christ. Faith grows the certainty of hope in Heaven and eternal life. And yes, faith replaces fear with peace and certainty.

Faith agrees that; “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:15-20 NIV).

This Christmas, I encourage you to enjoy celebrating Jesus Christ heartedly while being on guard against deceptive festive faith. May the Lord be pleased and honoured as you “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

P.S.   I’m taking a break over the Christmas holiday period and shall join you again in February 2018.

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

Guard against deceptive festive faith

Guard against deceptive festive faith

Enjoy Christmas faith that knows who it believes in

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I encourage you to enjoy Christmas faith that knows who it believes in

Christmas comes with its obvious celebrations, busyness, family get-togethers, and possibly pains and doubts. Regardless of your spiritual convictions, Christmas is one of those occasions that draws spiritual beliefs to the forefront. Therefore faith should produce unashamed and surrendered living for the baby Jesus who came specifically to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Enjoy Christmas faith that knows who it believes in

The apostle John was possibly the most outspoken regarding the identity of Jesus. He boldly explains that Jesus is “The Word” and that “the Word was God” (John 1:1). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Even in His humanity, Jesus still had everything under His authority – nothing was exempt. Nature obeyed Him in the miracles He performed. Demons obeyed Him with first time obedience when being cast out of people. Satan obeyed Him, even death obeyed Him when He commanded Lazarus to come back to life.

Christmas divinity

Here’s the thing about baby Jesus; “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). There is no other pure, divine child of God who shares the divine nature with God the Father! There is no other way to access God’s divine nature than through faith in Jesus Christ alone. John’s point is this: if you don’t like Jesus, there’s no point looking anywhere else to find God, because Jesus is the only one God has ever given to humanity to provide direct access to Himself (1Ti 2:5; Heb 1:2).

That’s precisely why John wrote his gospel; “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).  For Christians, celebrating Christmas is a declaration of faith. Why? Because, “though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Faith transitions spiritual truth into personal reality. Belief acknowledges Jesus Christ is God and Lord of your life while trusting Him as Saviour of your soul; this is the source of your greatest and lasting joy.

Christmas perspective

Christmas is simply the time we focus our celebrations with thanksgiving upon the breath-taking incarnation of God’s Son, Jesus. Matthew 1:23 explains; “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When you believe God’s testimony of who Jesus is, your whole perspective of baby Jesus changes. Years later Martha was confronted by this same gob-smacking truth, when adult Jesus opened her eyes to His true identity. Jesus explained; “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

Today, I invite you to believe as Martha was called to believe. Believe with genuine dependence that Jesus is God with us. Believe in the child who is God in human flesh, who came for the express purpose of going 33 years later to the cross of Calvary, taking sin’s judgment upon Himself. This Christmas, I encourage you to exercise faith, belief that knows who you believe in.

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

Enjoy Christmas faith that knows who it believes in

Enjoy Christmas faith that knows who it believes in

Develop faith that will strive for Christ alone

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I encourage you to develop faith that will strive for Christ alone

To strive in faith should be the intrinsic nature of all who follow Jesus Christ. It begins at salvation with a genuine hunger for knowing the truth of Jesus Christ. This is why you were compelled to “strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24); conviction prevented contentment until Christ was apprehended as both Saviour and Lord by faith.

Develop faith that will strive for Christ alone

I speak of an attitude which “contends for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude :3) without compromise, without divided loyalties, and without any desire to live any other way. A faith that humbly and wholeheartedly says with John the Baptist of Christ; “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). A faith that feels throttled when held back by circumstances or slowed down by others. It’s an inner compulsion energised by the Holy Spirit which will not allow half-heartedness or self-interest to distract from serving Christ and His people. 

Reality tells the truth of the matter

It’s one thing realising you need to grow and stretch your faith, but it’s altogether another thing to determine to make it happen through all of life’s events and relationships. As Paul explained to Timothy; “to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).  He doesn’t speak of a casual and convenient belief in the Jesus of self-interest and personal gain. No, Paul is urging unique faith which should “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12).

After all, Christians should know how to “behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and buttress (foundation) of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Striving faith presses on in the assurance of God’s Word, in the security of God’s sovereignty, and dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enable. This faith was birthed within by God (Eph 2:8), resulting with you having “been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

Brotherly wisdom

James, Jesus half-brother, understood the workings of faith and the human heart. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).

Likewise, faith seeks fellowship with the Lord through prayer. God responds to selfless, Christ centered prayers offered from lives expressing faith.  Faith understands that “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22). This is not bully faith, not self-desiring faith, but worshipful faith which always takes the highest priority in prayer. Jesus taught the disciples this top priority of prayer in Matthew 6:9-10; “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’”

Finally, I encourage you to “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12).

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

Develop faith that strives for Christ

Develop faith that strives for Christ

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