Real faith that God can build upon


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We live in an age where appearance is promoted as being all important. But are appearances really the best God has for you? The prophet Habakkuk summed up life this way; “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). But what does this faith look like if it is real?

Real faith that God can build upon

Your faith relationship with God begins when you turn to His Son Jesus Christ and believe that He died your death, for your sin, on the cross of Calvary (Luke 5:32; Romans 3:21-25).

The apostle Paul details some of the ways real faith will be expressed in your new life in Jesus Christ when He wrote Colossians 3:12-16. Faith which is generated by the Holy Spirit will grow your desire to put on… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12). Faith will never domineer others; there should be no bullies in God’s Kingdom. Rather, faith inspires humility; a servant attitude which is ‘we’ and ‘our’ minded, just as Christ’s attitude is toward others.

Faith forgives

Your life in Christ should have little or no resemblance to your old life. Now, in Christ, faith “bears with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:13). Christ’s forgiveness of you sets the quality and extent of how you will strive to live out genuine forgiveness toward others. Keeping records of hurts, reserving the right to retaliate, looking for vindication for your wrong responses, are all opposites of Christ.

Christ focused faith prioritises that “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14). You see, if God is involved in your faith, self-sacrificing love will strive to pull all other personal qualities and relationships together in sweet unity. Christ’s love flowing through you is evidence for all to see and experience as a testimony of the living Christ (Jn 13:35).

Reel faith enables and empowers the believer to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Col 3:15). It’s faith which causes you to realise the privilege of being born again into Christ and adopted into the family of God. Obviously this produces much gratitude and appreciation for the Lord and your fellow believer.

Faith is active

However, faith never sits still; it’s never stagnant, dormant, or isolated from the body of Christ. No, faith by nature lives to grow and mature as it interacts with fellow members of God’s family. This growth only takes place when you “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” (Col 3:16).

Realise that the written Word of God needs to be central in your life for personal growth to happen. The ruling truth of Scripture is then able to migrate through you to other believers. By design, the Lord has recreated you to develop in authentic faith when controlled by His Word, which equips you to enrich others with the same divine truth you have grown with. The resulting evidence of this ingenious faith discipleship is thankfulness to God by everyone.

I encourage you to align your life with God’s Word so that faith from God can grow you in His strength. Remember, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

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

 Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands   Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

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Authentic faith does not speak of human perfection. Rather, it speaks of a repentant attitude which has determined to persevere at a Christ focused life. This attitude deals faithfully with the realities of Christian living.

Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

The apostle Paul confessed; “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Paul, like us, knew the ugly realities of living Christ in a sin governed world. The truth is; we are not always victorious in our Christian walk as we should or could be.

Before salvation, we simply did what sin wanted of us and without giving it a second thought. There was little spiritual battle, if any, because we “were dead in (our) trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But now that God has “made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5), we are aware of the conflict between sin and righteousness. Faith acknowledges this conflict, and although fierce at times, faith determines to stand firm.

Standing firm recognises that in spite of occasions when you stumble, you stand again and walk on. Each rising from such stumbling’s should be used to deepen your resolve and broaden your understanding of how it is that sin trips you.

Brotherly insights

James, Jesus younger half-brother understood this matter of Christian struggles and faith. Listen as he explains; “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). James, and indeed all God’s children, respect and speak well of fellow believers who remain steadfast during great difficulties.

We should observe God’s faithfulness to those who live faithful through times of pain, discouragement, and disappointment. Even when feeling abandoned by those you hold most precious, the Holy Spirit opens deep recesses in your heart to explore the many ways God equips you to stand firm. Questions, challenged beliefs, and the sense of desperation, are all normal and acceptable feelings during such times.

Like Job, who lost everything of earthly value, you can discover unchartered facets and understanding of God’s purposes for your life when you suffer the most. Insights into God’s reasoning usually come clearer following times of determined faithfulness through great pain. As with Job, it’s following periods of silence, reflection, and challenge from others, that you more clearly perceive “how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

Determined and dependant faith

It’s far too easy to be overcome by fear and a sense of failure which is often fuelled by the unloving words and responses of others. However, through determined and dependant faith in Christ you are to “put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”  (Ephesians 6:11). When Christ’s spiritual resources are applied through focused belief, you will “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). Holy Spirit energised faith gives you the determination to simply stand immovable, in spite of possible faltering and stumbling.

This spiritual firmness of purpose enables you to “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Every step of your day is to be a decision to live Jesus Christ in that moment. This is how you watch life with the expectation of God’s strength being sufficient to make you faithful in the on-going present.

Today, be encouraged, your authentic faith has God’s approval to make you stand firm.

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

 Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands   Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

Christian authenticity stands the test of real life

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Christian authenticity speaks to “the tested genuineness of your faith” (1 Peter 1:7a). The apostle Peter had much to say about real personal faith in Jesus Christ. That is, faith which is seen and experienced by others, which can be tested and proven, which perseveres, even following times of stumbling and disappointments.

Christian authenticity stands the test of real life

Peter explains that genuine faith is more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7b). The greatest treasures of this world are nothing compared to the eternal value of faith in Jesus Christ (Mat 16:26) which secures your soul. Peter’s point is this; even pure gold which has been refined will fade and suffer the effects of time and erosion; being of no spiritual value at all. However, dependant faith in Jesus Christ will produce eternal life and increase Christ-likeness with a growing desire for Him.

Counterfeit verses genuine faith

Pseudo faith that appears orderly, ticking all your preferences, may make you feel nice, but can only fail you with devastating consequences. Then there’s biblical faith, which is altogether different. Biblical faith focuses on Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour. It grows, wanting always to “be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7c).

You can identify pseudo faith (worldly faith) by its constant desire for self-promotion and fleshly appetites. It convinces you to take Jesus on a test drive, checking that He will perform as you want. Worldly faith is happy for you to attend church, just as long as it’s all about you. However, worldly faith has little interest in long term glorification of Christ and will dump you as soon as the dark pains of life hit.

The faith Peter speaks of shows its authenticity by looking beyond self and today. The benefits in this life are secondary compared to faith’s ultimate goal of magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity.

You see, “the tested genuineness of your faith” which Peter speaks of strives in anticipation for the return of Jesus Christ. The believer’s highest aspirations can only be satisfied upon seeing Christ exalted as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Faith’s expectation will only be fulfilled when you witness “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 2:10-11).

Practical faith

James was very practical when it came to the Christian’s faith. He realised that the challenges of life are useful for maturing in Christ-likeness, a process we often resist. Yet James instructs us to “count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

More than ever, believers need to have a biblical response to life’s difficulties, seeing them as God sees them. Recognise God’s purpose, which is for the; “testing of your faith (to) produce steadfastness.”  Testing gives opportunity as Jesus said; to experience that “if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

Today, be encouraged to grow Christian authenticity which stands the test of real life in Christ. Help another believer today to understand how to grow their faith and bring glory to Jesus Christ.

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

 Christian authenticity stands the test of real life   Christian authenticity stands the test of real life

Choose treasures that will last for eternity

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We all have things which we treasure above all else; things we value highly and are willing to sacrifice for. For the Christian it’s no different, except that believers’ most precious treasure is securely stored in heaven.

Choose treasures that will last for eternity

Jesus, having just instructed His disciples on a right pattern of prayer life, goes on to clarify what should be their ultimate priorities. Jesus said; “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also(Matthew 6:19-21).

Jesus once again cut straight to their inner most passions. It’s the same for us today. If you wish to clearly see where your heart’s affections lay, simply look for where you store your most valued treasures.

Mortal reality

Old Testament Nahum reasoned that; “There is no end of the treasure or of the wealth of all precious things” (Nahum 2:9b). Humanly speaking, the pursuit of accumulating possessions and experiences seems endless. However, this mortal life only offers a few short years to acquire precious commodities, so prioritising them is important.

Believers are intended to be spiritually wise investors; recognising the temporary nature of earthly possessions and experiences. Jesus was right; everything we acquire here eventually rots away or ends up being owned by someone else. In time, everyone physically surrenders everything to the sad realities of living in a sin dominated world, and we all lose all that we worked so hard to obtain.

The Lord Jesus, understanding the world system and the way of life, rightly instructed to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” It’s quite simple really; make investments with your time, energy, and possessions which deposit spiritual funds in your heavenly bank account. These intangible deposits will be invisible to the human eye, but recognised and valued highly by the Lord of glory. They will be securely stored by none other than God Almighty where no earthly influence can diminish them.

A doctor’s advice

Doctor Luke recorded Jesus expanding on the relationship between earthly and heavenly treasure. Jesus explained; “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth (money), so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). Jesus, who owned nothing of earthly significance, was in fact the wealthiest man who ever live. Jesus’ investment advice has stood the test of time and eternity and is proven to be totally dependable.

Put simply; use your earthly money and possessions as tools for introducing people to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, when all your money fails to keep your ageing body alive, you will discover your dividends in heaven. The people who came to know Christ because of your right use of financial resources will be in heaven to welcome you upon arrival. Now that’s a genuine long-term investment of true value.

As “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) I encourage you to evaluate the resources at your disposal. Invest wisely, not based upon this worlds failing values, but determined by the Saviour of your soul. Chose treasures that will last for eternity! As a believer you have been blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). Draw from God’s resources to use His creativity in His strength and courage to serve others with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Love the body of Christ with Christ’s love

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For a Christian, it’s inspiring to realise that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). As stunning as that truth is, each Christian is responsible for what they do with that love. While it’s one thing knowing that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39), it’s a whole different matter as to how you live His love toward others.

Love the body of Christ with Christ's love

It should go without saying, but your God oriented love must “be genuine,” and to do that the Lord says you are to “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). This is where Christians often have a conflict of interest. Worldly influence and selfish desires have little or no interest in holy living.

At some point, sin whispers in your ear saying; it’s OK to do and say what you want. After all, sin argues, you’re entitled to be honest, even though your honesty may crush the other person. Sin always puts self-expression before others, and usually at others expense.

Evaluate as God does

Since “all that you” do is to “be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14); it’s healthy to evaluate what you think is the way you express love to others. Looking at self from God’s perspective is purifying, especially when considering the way in which you do and say love. Remember, “love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1), it does not beat the other person down.  It doesn’t manipulate, nor does it use innuendo or silence to manoeuvre others to where you want.

Authentic, Christ generated love, isn’t motivated by self-gratification. Therefore, self-vindication is excluded in preference for outdoing “one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10). Self always comes second, just as it did for Jesus Christ, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). No wonder Paul instructed the Philippi church to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Beloved, choose self-sacrificing love! It’s the only legitimate love which is from Christ, and others need to see, hear, and feel it through your life.

That being said; the body of Christ does not consist of strict ethnic groupings such as “Greek and Jew …but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). In this Jesus culture, believers are called to “put on then… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).

Attitude grows behaviour

These attitudes and behaviours make the church a sanctuary for believers in Jesus Christ who chose to make Christ’s behaviour their behaviour. And what a wonderful place the church is when Christians behave like Jesus!

However, take note of what Paul says is the crowning jewel of all Christ-like character; “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). True unity is constructed with Christ’s love as the glue which pulls every other beautiful attribute together in humility towards one another. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:4-5).

I encourage you to love the body of Christ with Christ’s love by passing these truths on to another believer for their benefit. Share Christ for His glory and enjoy!

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

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength