Let the body of Christ be filled with joy


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I encourage you to let the body of Christ be filled with joy

Out of all the emotions in life, joy ranks amongst the highest. Joy is pleasurable for everyone involved, including those watching on, plus it glorifies God. Joy can range from a simple thought of contentment through to bellows of laughter and excitement.

Let the body of Christ be filled with joy

The apostle Paul, when explaining unity of Jew and Gentile in the church, offered up this one sentence prayer for the believers in Rome. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Paul is saying; God is the source of true joy for the church! He’s speaking of an unpretended resident joy which satisfies and is accompanied by peace. This overshadows all other emotions and grows out of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not dependent upon circumstances, although circumstances do impact it obviously. It’s a calm inner realisation that all is well because God is in control, and because Christ has paid the price to qualify you for His blessing. This settled realisation of satisfaction in Christ causes contentment that survives life’s greatest pains because of it’s eternal perspective.

How much joy?

This is why Paul asks God to fill you” with it, so that the pattern of your life would be one which is saturated with His joy, recognising Him as the reason for it. Paul is not asking God for happiness for the believers, but for “all joy.” Only the Lord can gift a believer with gladness that impacts the whole of life, that is flexible enough to endure the greatest trials, and survive the many variations of human emotions. “All joy” ranges from calm contentment to great excitement. It’s present through all the highs and lows because it permeates every other emotion.

Make no mistake; Paul is requesting something big for the body of Christ, which only God could deliver. He’s seeking a state of heart that is evidence of God as its source, accompanied by “peace in believing.” Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord settles the human heart. The spiritual battle is over, resistance is finished, and isolation from God and His church is in the past. Belief transports the saved sinner from separation to the path of peaceful joy.

This heart condition has great diversity in how it is experienced from person to person, from day to day, and circumstance to circumstance. Plus, it’s not intended by God to be a selfish experience. Rather, as joyful peace is a gift from God, it displays His mercy for His glory, therefore it has to be shared. This is because Holy Spirit generated joy is other-minded and inspires joy in other believers.

Out of this world joy

While this may sound too good to be true, we should remember that we cannot generate this of our own ability, rather, it’s “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Worldly peace which Jesus spoke of in John 14:27 is temporary by nature and dependent upon good circumstances and emotions to keep the sensation going. On the other hand, Holy Spirit generated joyful peace presents itself as a natural product, as a natural fruit of a life controlled by Christ (Galatians 5:22).

Paul concludes; Holy Spirit fuelled joyful peace is purpose designed that “you may abound in hope.” Hope in Jesus Christ is mankind’s only hope for eternal life and security that survives the grave.

I encourage you to let the body of Christ be filled with joy. Share this with another believer to built up their faith, for God’s glory, their blessing, and your joy.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Let the body of Christ be filled with joy   Let the body of Christ be filled with joy

Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

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I encourage you to let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

While peace is desired by many, few permit it to actually rule their lives. Life is sweet when peace governs; however, often temporary peace is nothing more than the product of getting what you want. It’s short lived because selfishness can only produce turmoil.

Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

The apostle Paul experienced much pain and betrayal during his life (2Co 11:24-28), yet writing to the believers in Colossae, he instructed them to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15a). Paul’s difficulties and lack of comfort or luxuries did not prevent Him wanting the very best God had for other believers. There is no greater treasure than the peace of Jesus Christ. God’s best for you is for Christ’s peace to govern your hearts by mastering your hearts.

The apostle Paul experienced much pain and betrayal during his life (2Co 11:24-28), yet writing to the believers in Colossae, he instructed them to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15a). Paul’s difficulties and lack of comfort or luxuries did not prevent Him wanting the very best God had for other believers. There is no greater treasure than the peace of Jesus Christ. God’s best for you is for Christ’s peace to govern your hearts by mastering your hearts.

Christ’s peace impacts others

Paul is clear about the relational nature of Christ’s peace; “to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15b). When God determined your salvation before the world existed (Eph 1:3-14), He purposed that His peace would NOT be kept in isolation. Christ’s peace is experienced best when it’s synchronised with Christ’s body.

Peace is one of the products of unity in the family of God which grows a safe haven for troubled hearts. So, obviously Paul says you should “be thankful”. Thankful because peace is such an enormous gift from God, which, when allowed to domineer your hearts, will enrich the life and vitality of the whole body of Christ.

The question begging to be asked is; how is Christ’s controlling peace activated in a believer? Paul explains; Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

The Bible is necessary for peace

Scripture is the instrument used by the Holy Spirit to ignite Christ’s peace. You are to saturate yourself with Christ’s Word so that it becomes the dominating truth, the ruling set of values, and the governing motivation in your thinking! Thoughts, feelings, ambitions, expectations, and responses are all to be ruled by Scripture. Then your Bible permeated thoughts will flow through your relationships and activities for the world to experience.

Bible induced peace equips God’s people to wisely teach each other in love, even correct one another in love. Only when the body surrenders to the rulership of Christ’s Word will peace stimulate you to sing and praise God with each other lovingly. Only then, is the collective church empowered to be thankful from the depths of their hearts producing unity in worship.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). Once the governing peace of Christ overshadows your life, you will desire to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Meaning, each day you intentionally think how to live as a representative of Christ. You think of yourself as living in the place of Jesus in your environment. This great privilege lifts God’s children with an appreciation which becomes the spontaneous response of the life ruled by the peace Jesus Christ.

Today, I encourage you to let the peace of Christ rule you. Share these truths with another believer so they too can be built up in the faith. Forward this to someone you would like to disciple in following Jesus Christ, for God’s glory and their blessing.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ   Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

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I encourage you to consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

The New Testament is loaded with descriptions of rightly controlled attitudes for the children of God. Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 fuels rightly controlled attitudes, which is a challenge for the entire body of Christ. “For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he 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 5:14-15).

Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlledNotice what ignites passion in a life for Christ. It’s NOT your love for Jesus. No, it’s “the love of Christ” directed toward we sinners, that’s the bullseye here. Christian’s need to remember, that of themselves, they were naturally disinterested in Jesus Christ.

Your relationship with Jesus is completely built upon the love Christ had for you while you were still distanced from Him in unbelief. It was God who initiated the relationship by showing his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In fact, in love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

There’s no deterring God

The Lord did not wait for you to show interest in Him, or until you were living a good enough life to qualify for His love. He didn’t wait to see if you would develop sufficient faith which would enable Him to join with you in a journey towards God. NO, he acted “according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11) in order to move you to respond to His love for you (Eph 1:7; 2:8-9; 2Ti 2:25).

Notice how Paul explains that it is Christ’s love which controls and compels him in the Christian life. Why? Because Paul had “concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2Co 5:14). Paul was gripped by the enormity of what it meant when Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for his sin.

Thought provoking belief

Paul thought it through, which is a great place to start. Christ died not only for Paul’s sin, but for the sin of all. Every person who would ever believe in Jesus death as God’s judgement for their own sin; that’s who Jesus died for. That’s a staggering number of sinful people Jesus was punished for. There’s no fluffy thinking or marshmallow belief here.

The result, Paul argues, is those who believe in Jesus “no longer live for themselves” (2Co 5:15a). Here’s the authenticity of a person’s faith. Christ looks to see if your appreciation is real enough to move you to obedience. This negative expression of genuine faith is refusal to live for self. The cost of your salvation to Christ is intended to transform your entire reason for living. So compelling is the sacrificial love of Jesus, that a sinner becomes motivated to stop living for self.

Consequently, the believer intentionally thinks and behaves “for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2Co 5:15b). This positive expression of genuine faith is intentional living for Christ. Living for Jesus is not an optional extra. Christ is your life, not self, not popularity, and not accumulation of wealth, but Christ (Col 3:4). It’s your living for Christ which testifies of the authentic gospel transformation within you. No pretending here. It’s either all for Christ or not at all. There’s no room for compromise or half-heartedness with Christ as Lord.

Today, encourage another Christian to consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled   Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

Focus on the church’s head – Jesus Christ

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I encourage you to focus on the church’s head – Jesus Christ

God the Son, Jesus Christ, “is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent(Colossians 1:18). The body of Christ does not govern itself, nor does it exist for itself. Rather, it looks to its head who is Christ; preferring always to do those things which speak to and display the supremacy of Christ as Lord.

Focus on the church’s head - Jesus ChristInstead of promoting self, Christ’s body has a determined focus on its Lord with a unique role to live in this world. The apostle Paul explains; “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). Believer’s acts of loving service to one another are key to the church’s testimony of Christ’s Lordship to the world (John 13:35). This is because Christ’s body exists to proclaim the Lordship of its Head and Saviour. Self-promotion, self-fulfillment, and self-satisfaction is not in the job description for the Church.

The Highest Privilege

Christians have the privilege of agreeing with God, who “has highly exalted him (Jesus) and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). God the Father is on a mission; to be glorified through His Son Jesus Christ – and he invites you and I to join Him. 

The Father’s quest is that in all of your life’s activities and achievements, you are motivated by the desire to live Christ in such a way that His supremacy is recognisable. This includes your relationships, which are the platform for “speaking the truth in love.” Consequently, as those people come to know Jesus personally, you will together “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15-16). This is how the body of Christ grows and matures.

Now, fulfilled dreams and ambitions are a wonderful part of life, but of little value if the eternal significance of Jesus Christ is absent. Mankind’s inclination to isolate from God has the horrible habit of robbing people of certainty and hope. This happens because sin convinces your heart that the grave is a meaningless end to everything. Therefore sin says; live for today and for self, because that’s all you have. The reality is that death without Christ is a personal black hole which consumes any and all perceived value experienced in life. But not so for the believer in Jesus Christ!

Liberation to Hope

Liberation from hopelessness comes through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s because the believer in Jesus has the certainty which comes from “being justified by his grace… according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). Meaning; God’s undeserved response to your faith in Jesus’ substitutional death is that He declares you innocent in His sight. Now that you have been categorised as innocent, your fear of death is replaced with confident certainty that God will fulfill every promise of salvation and eternal life.

Therefore we Christians need to be constantly “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Why? Because if you don’t, you will rob yourself of being“transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Your thinking will unconsciously be overtaken by worldly self-centred attitudes and motives that seek to dethrone Christ of His Lordship. You will be self-exalted, God will be dishonoured, and the body of Christ will be misrepresented to the world.

Today, I encourage you to focus on the church’s head – Jesus Christ!

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Focus on the church’s head - Jesus Christ   Focus on the church’s head - Jesus Christ

Display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ

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I encourage you to display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ

Any discussion on behaviour will engender emotions differing from person to person. Why, because your response to behaviour is always directly related to your attitude to relationships.

Display behaviour appropriate for the Body of ChristToday, I wish to focus on the single most important relationship any human is capable of having, your relationship with Jesus Christ. The unavoidable implication of knowing Jesus as Lord is that you are irreversibly adopted into God’s family, the body of Christ, the Church.

The principle of identifying a legitimate member of the body of Christ is the same as Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 7:16; “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Here, fruit are the outward behaviours which are unique to that specific life. Therefore fruit are the tell-tales of what’s in the heart; either showing a connection to the parent life or not, showing likeness which is unmistakable or not.

Fruit for relationships

The fruit Jesus is referring to are the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours which would clearly display a relationship with God to be genuine, or not. This is why the apostle Paul uses the word fruit to explain the controlling presence of God’s Spirit.  The evidence of God’s Spirit in a Christian’s life is “the fruit of the Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

In addition, the testimony of Christ’s body is this; “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Believers recognise where they belong. There is an instinctive drawing toward heaven and the imminent return of Christ to snatch His bride away. Likewise, there is an instinctive fellowship with fellow members of Christ here on earth. This Holy Spirit generated identification forms part of the rich symbolism of Communion; Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

These truths enable believers to recognise each other. The nine fold fruit of Holy Spirit, the realization of heavenly citizenship, unity in celebrating Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, plus anticipation of Jesus imminent return. These are what make a Christian stand out from the crowd. Now, just as a believer cannot be separated from Christ; so the body of Christ cannot be dismembered, in spite of the many attempts made by His enemies.

Amazing relationships

There are significant implications to these amazing relationships. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5). The various limbs (members) of Christ’s body are intrinsically knitted together, composing the entirety of Christ’s representation here on earth. This enables an incredible display of God’s wisdom through His design of the body.

If you live Spirit filled, your desire will be to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Holy Spirit authored peace is first of all with God through Christ and secondly with your spiritual family, the body of Christ. This Spiritual peace which is to dominate your hearts will overflow into your relationships, especially with God’s people. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are therefore precious treasures for Christ’s glory and your blessing. Obviously, this should produce a great sense of thankfulness to the Lord and each other.

I encourage you to display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ; displaying the value of Christ in your brothers and sister for His glory.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Live for Christ's purpose   Live for Christ's purpose