Faith ends well and begins strong


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Trustworthy faith strives to end chapters in life and ministry well. Why, because “Christ’s love compels us” (2Co 5:14-15). Effective evaluation for the purpose of preparation are part of living life “for the glory of God” (1 Co 10:31). Why? Because faith longs to have God honoured above all else, “your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages” (Psa 135:13).

Faith ends well and begins strong

It’s important to learn well from the lessons of life. Acquiring wisdom, maturity, and readiness for the future is significant.  You see,  faith begins by looking back on God’s blessings and training.  Next, faith looks forward, seeking to be equipped for new chapters in life and service for Jesus. Faith desires to be equipped with strength and courage for whatever lies ahead.

From one year to the next

Remember, as you transition from one year to another, God “will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb 6:10).

I notice that King David anticipated the Lord’s future blessings. You too, should look forward to His blessing as you prepare for serving Christ throughout 2019. David said; “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psa 27:13-14). God’s blessing, in God’s timing, delivered via God’s methods are what we live and serve for.

A healthy exhortation is found in 1 Chronicles 28:20, where David encouraged his son Solomon. Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.”  

Timeless application

Even though you live in a in vastly different culture,  and hundreds of years later, God’s principles remain the same. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).

For those in Christ, the Lord has planned good works for you to do. And His plans are accompanied by his spiritual resources which the Holy Spirit enables through internal and external means.  It’s through obedience to the truth of God’s Word, the controlling of His Spirit, and the support of gifted believers, that God’s people can become well equipped for future service. 

The reality of faith should look like this.  Before you seek Christ’s power for the courage and strength for the year which lies ahead, first rejoice over God’s victories in your life during the past year.

Heads up people

If you are reading this, knowing deep within that you are resisting the Lord Jesus Christ; I leave you with His invitation:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28). “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb 3:15). 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Pro 3:5-7).

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Ac 3:19-20).

I encourage you; have faith which ends 2018 well and begins 2019 strong.

A special thanks to all the wonderful brothers and sisters in Fiji (Vinaka, Vinaka vaka levu). You have been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to me in the Lord’s work. May the Lord continue to work His mercy through you as you lead others to the Saviour. I pray for you as the apostle John prayed for Gaius; “that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3Jn 1:2).

P.S.

I shall be taking a break over the Christmas holiday session and look forward to joining you again early 2019. May God bless you as you celebrate and live Christ this Christmas.

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

 Faith ends well and begins strong   Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

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I doubt anyone enjoys rejection. Yet people often reject others; it comes naturally and often for no good reason. Incredibly, a person’s subconscious bias can easily reject another, and sometimes without any deliberate thought process. Similarly, humanity displays the same innate rejection towards God, requiring no real effort or training. Rejection of God is in the heart of everyone from birth.

Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

This is seen in Jesus, who “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). However, the beauty of God’s grace is that “all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Obviously, acceptance is the opposite of rejection. And accepting Jesus takes a deliberate act of the will, exercising belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:13).

Synchronisation of God and man

Speaking to a large crowd by the lake of Capernaum, Jesus said; “you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:36-37). Following are a few observations:

  • Seeing and understanding who Jesus is does not make you a believing Christian. Intellectual acknowledgement of Jesus does not equal spiritual rebirth or salvation with adoption into God’s family.
  • It’s God the Father who gives unbelievers to Jesus. Each and every one of those given to Jesus end up coming to Jesus in true belief. God provides everything needed to transition a disbeliever to be a willing believer in the Lord Jesus.
  • Everyone who comes to Jesus need never fear rejection, because Jesus never sends them away. Despite the circumstances of life, Jesus never rejects or pushes a believer away. You are absolutely secure in this God appointed relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Unlike mankind, God never changes (Mal 3:6). On the other hand, people continuously change, including their view of God. Through all of life’s changes and irregularities, Jesus Christ consistently remains faithful, and unwavering in His commitment to the relationship established with the believer by His Heavenly Father (2Ti 2:13).
Christmas rejection reality

With the Christmas season upon us once more, it’s far too easy to celebrate everything other than Jesus Christ. This too is an area of rejection. Some ignore Jesus at Christmas out of ignorance or simple unbelief. While others ignore Him out of an attitude of religious legalism. Either way, rejection that God “has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:2) has taken place. Jesus came to humanity as “the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18 TNIV).

Christmas is a wonderful time for Christians. Apart from the joy of celebration, believers recognise they “are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Therefore, I encourage you to seize this annual opportunity to invite others into the joy and wonder of Jesus being the real reason for Christmas. Expose others to the peace and security offered by Jesus Christ who entered humanity as the child of a virgin birth.

If you’re aware of the inner voice of conviction, don’t drown it out with the white noises of life and the many other voices of disbelief that surround you. Christmas belief is not a contest of ideas, it’s not a debate over philosophy; it’s a surrender of the will to the forgiving power of Jesus as Lord of your life.

In light of the above, I encourage you to reject rejection of Jesus Christ. Receive Him, believe in Him, and experience the life changing power of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

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

 Reject rejection of Jesus Christ   Reject rejection of Jesus Christ

Faith is for those who desire peace

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God designed the human soul to be at peace, which explains the inner torment we experience when peace cannot be found. The Psalmist spoke of this inner pain; “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you…” (Psalms 42:5-6).

Faith is for those who desire peace

Jesus Christ understands this inner disturbance perfectly. He reaches out to troubled souls with an invitation which is just as valid and life changing today as it ever was. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls…” (Matthew 11:28-30).

This world’s promises fail terribly at providing restful peace for the human soul. Freedoms, experiences, relationships, and memories of a full and active life cannot remove the pain and guilt of living independent of God. From birth, humans are rejecters of God, yet Jesus still loves and promises to “give you rest” for those who come to Him.

The authenticity of faith

Faith grows in accepting that God’s understanding of you is equal to His love for you. The Bible says that God knows when “I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar…” “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalms 139:2, 4). Jesus intimately knows and loves you. He explains; “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9).

When Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus understanding of you and His love for you are inseparable. He longs for you to receive His compassion by receiving Him as forgiver and Lord of your life. His power to rejuvenate your life is equal to His compassion for you.

It’s true; Jesus makes all the initial moves to enable you to know Him. However, there remains the personal responsibility for each individual to respond. Therefore, Jesus invites you and I, “Come to me.” It’s wonderful to realise that the God who created the universe wants you to know Him personally through His Son Jesus Christ.

The simplicity of belief

So, how do you come to Jesus in order to receive His rest? It starts by giving up the fight! Surrender is the sweet beginning of peace. The apostle John explains; “to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). To receive Jesus is as simple as deciding to believe in Jesus! To believe in Jesus is to “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, (then) you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

You agree that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (the cross), that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Believe that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Today, I encourage you to exercise faith which is for those who desire peace. Believe, receive Christ, and receive His peace from God. Share this blog with those you know who are in turmoil, so they too can receive peace.

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

 Faith is for those who desire peace   Faith is for those who desire peace

Faith hungers for maturity

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While maturity may not be a welcomed subject in today’s world, it is however of great interest to God. Just as the natural order of all living things is that following birth, growth continues until full development is attained. So it is with God’s children.

Faith hungers for maturity

Upon spiritual rebirth, the indwelling Holy Spirit begins His work of growth. In fact, “because of him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). From before salvation, it was God’s intention for His Spirit to work Christ’s salvation in you so that you would grow in righteousness and sanctification. Spiritual childhood should not last long, because “this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

The high cost of would-be faith

Sadly, many appear to begin the life of faith with great promise, yet end their test drive of Jesus quickly. In Jesus parable of the sower and the seed, He explains this sad phenomenon. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14). The problem was this; the person initiating faith in Christ never chose to prioritise the Lord Jesus over this world’s cares, riches and pleasures.

Consequently, surrender to worldly stresses and fleshly desires not only prevents maturing in faith, it takes the would-be believer away from Christ altogether. Had they surrendered to Christ with a greater degree of commitment than to worldliness, their lives would be fruitful and unwavering for Christ as Lord. Therefore, eternal life slips through their fingers and the opportunity for maturing in sanctification for the Lord is lost.

Paul explained to the Colossian believers that “Epaphras, who is one of you… is always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). Epaphras knew the key areas for personal growth which required the intervention of the King of Kings. The fact is, without the Lord’s strength, we saved sinners would never grow to any degree of maturity in Christ at all.

Epaphras also realised that spiritual adulthood equips the believer to stand firm in Christian faith. Likewise, it’s the mature that experience full assurance of realising the will of God. These are intrinsic desires within genuine believers of Christ; to stand firm, to mature, and to experience assurance. This is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Intended from the start

As the foundation builders of the New Testament Church, the apostles taught with the goal of spiritual development for their listeners. They never intended Christians to remain infant-like in their faith.

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away” (1 Corinthians 2:6). The apostles were deliberate in training God’s people for growing maturity that would produce wise, Christ-like, God honouring lives.

This breath-taking design for Christians leaves little room for mixed loyalties, little time for wasted opportunities to serve the Saviour. Your regenerated life in Jesus Christ is not some random hit and miss, give it a go thing. No, it’s God’s intension for you and I to “attain 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). Authentic Christ-like character, grown through the Word of God in the energy of His Spirit is the maturity the Lord desires.

I encourage you to focus your faith so that it hungers for maturity in Christ.

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

 Faith hungers for maturity   Faith hungers for maturity

Faith learns to be a learner for Christ

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Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ involves learning a whole new set of values. King Solomon instructed; “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5). From the moment you turned to Christ as Lord, He began your new life of training in Christ-centred values, beliefs, behaviours and responses. This is the path of sanctification, leading to wisdom and Christ-like glory (2Co 3:18).

Faith learns to be a learner for Christ

About 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar besieged, then concurred Jerusalem. Amongst other things, Nebuchadnezzar searched within the royal family of Israel for “youths …skilful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning…” (Daniel 1:4). Under God’s sovereign hand, Nebuchadnezzar recognised the value of having people who were interested in learning. These youths needed to understand the learning process, while placing a high value on wisdom attained from their knowledge.

Obviously, Jesus Christ is our supreme example in all things. Being God’s “son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). In His humanity, Jesus grew and learned obedience to fulfil all righteousness (Mat 3:15), proving Himself to be the perfect sacrifice, “that he might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18).

Application is personal

For you and I, the point of learning is to put the lessons into practice, just as Paul instructed the Philippian believers. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The blessing that accompanies biblical learning with obedience is God’s peace. That rich inner affirmation that God is at rest with you is one of the ways the Holy Spirit rewards obedience.

Spiritual learning has little to do with theory only; rather, it’s practical and visible for all to see as your development touches other’s lives.  This is why Paul instructed Titus to “let people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). As your biblical knowledge increases, the Holy Spirit matures you to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). What a sobering thought. However, this kind of self-deception which fails to transition biblical knowledge to behaviour is identifiable, and can be remedied.

The challenge for all of us is to examine ourselves, testing if we are those who are “always learning (yet) never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Sadly; our hearts can deceive us into becoming comfortable with biblical naivety and spiritual immaturity which fails to fulfil God’s design just as it fails to impact others for Christ.

God’s way is different

As a believer in Christ; to learn is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Peter 3:18). This is the path for glorifying Christ in your daily living, and for eternity to come.

Change in rarely easy or comfortable, and even though you may see the benefits of it, the flesh often resists without understanding why it resists. Great humility is always needed as we grow in the Lord. Therefore, I want to encourage you to continue changing for Jesus Christ which is a high calling from the Lord. God wishes to continue engaging your life in intimate ways which fulfil His purposes and bring Him glorifying pleasure. He strongly desires to synchronise His character with yours, to increasingly produce Christ-likeness.

I encourage you to have a faith that increasingly learns to be a learner for Christ.

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

 Faith learns to be a learner for Christ   Faith learns to be a learner for Christ