Month: April 2018

Have larger than life thoughts of God

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Worldly influences will diminish a Christian’s thoughts of God to the lowest, faithless levels if permitted. And God’s Word is the strongest medicine to remedy this condition, by lifting the believer’s soul toward a heavenly appreciation of Yahweh.

Have larger than life thoughts of God

Psalm 103 catalogues for us a rainbow view of Jehovah’s supernal nature, lifting your understanding of God to higher levels. Psalms 103:1 begins; “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” First and foremost, the Psalmist speaks of the one and only true God, creator of all that exists, both visible and invisible. He is the Lord (Yahweh), unparalleled, with no equal, and beyond challenge. His holiness is beyond human measure, causing even the cleanest of human thoughts to appear dark and questionable.

Mankind’s only correct response to the Lord is for “all that is within me (to) bless His holy name.” No matter how you view your inner being; soul, spirit, emotion, or intellect, the entire inner person is to respond to the Lord with a humble attitude of thanks.

How to bless

To bless the Lord begins with acknowledging His innate and eternal holiness. Yahweh’s purity cannot be measured or evaluated by inconsistent human values or feelings. His holiness is beyond human compare, deeper than your emotional capacity, and broader than your imagination can dream. He is the Lord of all Lords, Yahweh! You and I know Him through “His Son (Jesus), whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:2-3).

Therefore, the children of God “forget not all His benefits” (Psa 103:2). These benefits are not just the things which we experience and consider beneficial to us. No, these are the awe inspiring characteristics of the Lord’s nature which we observe in Scripture and in the universe. These benefits are the qualities which uniquely make God who He is, and distinguish Him from us.

You and I do well to keep the holy qualities of God in our thinking. He is not like us, and we are not like Him when holiness is considered. Mankind is always attempting to bring the Lord down to their simplistic and sinful level, while lifting humanity up to appear cleaner and more righteous than what they really are.

Perspective is everything

As you read Psalm 103, notice how the author, King David, speaks from the perspective of being a believing child of God. However, the unbeliever who lives indifferent to Yahweh’s holiness is simply not capable of thinking this way. The many layers of self-centred thinking prevent the unbeliever from identifying with such a majestic Lord as Yahweh. The Christian however, when looking at the Lord, responds by everything within them praising the greatness of God and bowing in surrender to Him.

Why, because it’s only the Lord “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies“ (Psa 103:3-4). Notice the diseases He heals are the sicknesses of sin. What a breath-taking view of Jehovah? He is concerned with the most critical part of your life, your sin. So He deals with it, as only a completely holy God could do. “He (God) has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Today, have larger than life thoughts of God. Believe Him, live Him, share Him, and enjoy Him.

 

Contentment in Christ is not haphazard

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Contentment in Christ displays itself through peaceful character, rational behaviour, and gracious speech; it’s unmistakable and an obvious work of the Holy Spirit.

Contentment in Christ is not haphazard

While spiritual discontentment begins when your focus shifts from Jesus as Lord to self; contentment begins with Christ being your highest priority. The apostle Paul said; “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Philippians 3:8). Christ comes first. Jesus is NOT a convenient addition to life, He is your life. Christ is NOT some formula which gets added to your way of thinking to guarantee the outcome you want. The Lord is NOT an optional extra you pull out of your spiritual cupboard when life needs sweetening.

The truth is, Christ’s leadership in a Spirit filled life produces the inescapable fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  Therefore, when you “walk by the Spirit, …you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Those irritating and shameful parts of your fleshly character will dissolve away under the light of Christ’s influence. There will be a progressive mellowing as your character is reshaped into the image of Christ (2Co 3:18).

Faith tools for contentment

This is why it’s so important to know God’s Word, to trust His providential working in your life, and to cling to His promises. You see, contentment is a choice; a faith decision which exchanges pain and anxiety with the peace of God, it exchanges self for Christ.

Obviously, this does not make the difficulties disappear; rather it surrenders the control of difficulties to God. Faith exchanges self-reliance for Christ dependency. It over-rules frustrations by looking for opportunities to serve as prevention against pride and idleness. Belief prays with thankfulness, even though there may be tears. Trust watches for God’s intervention with expectation, even though there may be questions. Love inserts itself into other’s lives as a worker of peace for Christ instead of seeking isolation.

As a child of God, you increasingly learn to “be content with what you have,” because you have prioritised God’s promise which says; “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). The certainty of security in Christ overshadows all else in life, including fears and unanswered questions.

Even when overshadowed by great stress which may be forced upon you by circumstances and others, the believer can rest in the rock solid relationship they have with God in Christ. Like Paul, the faithful believer says; “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Worldly discontentment

Discontentment easily takes over if self or worldly attitudes persist. “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17). Faith transfers control from self to God. Faith shifts your purpose from self to Christ’s glory and other’s benefit.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied…” (Proverbs 19:23). Today, seek contentment in Christ because it’s not haphazard. It can be yours for the choosing, through simple faith that surrenders all to Christ as Lord. Live it and share it.

 

Be content in Christ

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Happiness and pleasure is one thing, but to be content is a whole other thing. Much in society revolves around discontentment; advertising drives the continual desire for more and better things. However, no sooner do you get something than you’re bombarded with ideas of getting even more, hoping for greater satisfaction.

Be content in Christ

Likewise, it’s easy for discontentment to flavour our spiritual lives. The flesh continuously craves more, for better and greater. It longs for greater satisfaction with less effort and less sacrifice. Sinfulness constantly puts the Lord and His Church on review, as if mankind can evaluate God.

The apostle Paul lived in and promoted a level of contentment that challenges our modern values. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Many struggle to accept the painful things in life, never able to say they are content in them.

So, what was it that made the difference for the apostle Paul? What enabled him to possess this unnatural contentment which ruled regardless of circumstances? Paul explains the answer to Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter six.

First, Paul explained how the discontented, disgruntled, and agitated false teachers in the church live. These people presented false truth in order to distort Christian reality. They can be men or women of any age in any church as Paul describes in 1 Timothy 6:3-5. Their false beliefs lead to wrong behaviour which obviously damages others and the testimony of the Church, not to mention bringing shame to the Lord’s name. For these people, self must come first.

Second, in contrast to these false teachers, Paul tells Timothy that “there is great gain in godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6). Notice what comes first, “godliness.” Now there’s a misunderstood word. In the original Greek language of the New Testament, “godliness” depicted a life of God-like character which was flavoured by God’s holiness, particularly in relation to the gospel scheme of life.

Paul explains the gospel scheme of life in Romans chapter 6. “For if we have been united with him [Christ] in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5). This resurrection is the new Christian life of living like Christ at the cost of self. Paul continues; “now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Rom 6:8). But how you ask? Paul answers; you “must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11). Contentment begins with total surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord. The attitudes and actions that speak “I, mine, and my” are exchanged for “Christ.”

Now, 1 Timothy 6:6 says; “there is great gain in godliness with contentment.” To experience great gain, which is NOT financial profit, is personal God-like character and is to be accompanied by the decision to be content with living the life of Christ as the best expression of God’s character. This is the Christians highest priority; to allow the gospel scheme of life to be your dominating love in life at the expense of self. This is what it means to be content in Christ.

Next week we shall consider some specifics of how to live contentment in Christ. For today, I encourage you to be content in Christ. Invite Him to invade every part of your life. Explore the wonders of salvation in Christ so that your appreciation of Him will flood your mind and heart with contentment. Live it and share it.

 

Live with a faith that is obvious

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Be encouraged to live with a faith that is obvious

As I was standing outside the Savusavu Airport watching the sunrise this morning, my thoughts were drawn to the realities of obvious saving faith compared to false man-made faith.

Live with a faith that is obvious
Dead faith (James 2:14-17), that which is self generated, may have the feelings of authenticity, yet lacks the Holy Spirit’s working of regeneration. This fraud faith deceives it’s victims by saying that your good works are sufficient to win God’s approval for heaven. However, it’s the Holy Spirit’s rebirth which produces behaviour that gives evidence of eternal life (John 3:8), not belief in your abilities.

Self generated faith attempts to mimic Christ’s peace, but fails. Instead, it produces an artificial peace “as the world gives” (John 14:27). This only confuses the person with conflicting thoughts and feelings. Realise that it is only “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this [faith] is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). This is what Jesus said would cause your hearts not to be “troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Jesus explained the obvious evidence this faith produces; “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). There is no half-heartedness, no turning back, no isolation. The Holy Spirit determines you to produce lifelong fruit which are also dependent upon Christ alone through faith.

Genuine faith agrees with the apostle Paul; you “must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). There is no self in this faith. This new Christ centered mindset lives in an ever present Lord Jesus Christ culture. But how you ask? Because “we know that our old self was crucified with him [Christ]…” (Romans 6:6). So, “you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

One thing which is true for all of us; “you are slaves of the one whom you obey” (Romans 6:16). Even the pursuit of self centered pleasure in Jesus name makes you a slave to personal pleasure seeking. But Spirit energised faith says that you “have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Here Christ is the object of your deepest devotion with Him being the destination of your affections, not self. Every facet of life is to be enjoyed and aimed at living His righteous character.

This new faith life is purpose built by God for “the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6). Your faith in Christ gives evidence that God has been working from eternity past “according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). He does this in all believers “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). Lives centered around faith in Christ speak a loud testimony to all spiritual forces, both good and bad, about the many facets of God’s merciful wisdom worked out through saved sinners.

Today, I encouraged you to live with a faith that is obvious. Let the world know that Christ lives in you. Encourage another believer with these truths. Inform some non-believer that Christ wants to do this work in their lives also. The Saviour will be glorified, your church will be strengthened, others will be inspired, and you will be blessed.

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

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Live a faith that is obvious

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