Faith longs to be with the Lord


God the Holy Spirit energises faith within Christians which longs to be with the Lord, and expresses itself in two ways. First, faith desires to see the Lord’s character present in your daily living. Faith is authenticated and affirmed within you when evidence of Jesus character is experienced in your beliefs, attitudes, behaviour, and responses. Second, faith grows your desire to be with Jesus in person, in His native environment – Heaven.

Faith longs to be with the Lord

Christ centred faith begins by acknowledging that your acceptability to God has nothing to do with you, but is entirely based on what Jesus Christ did on your behalf on the cross of Calvary.  Faith says; “through him (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Therefore, the certainty of your relationship with God is Christ, and in Christ you stand spiritually secure for eternity. This is because Jesus alone has given you access into an undeserved and loving relationship with God the Father (Eph 3:11-12).

Hope for glory

Notice also, that in Christ, believers “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2b). Hope expresses itself through your spiritual desire; your longing for the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified in your present daily living. However, hope does not stop there; it grows anticipation to not only be in heaven with the Saviour, but for your Saviour to return to take you to be with Him. Only when you are with the Lord will total and absolute glorification be accomplished.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus was comforting His confused disciples with the certainty of not only heaven but His return to take them to heaven. Jesus, the creator of heaven and earth, told them; “I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3). The certainty of Christ returning to rapture His Church lifts the believer’s focus from the dark uncertainties of this world and life’s failures.

With that said, we all understand that believers go through difficult times. Sooner or later the pains of living in a sin governed world impacts the child of God. Consequently, dependant belief in Christ will “groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 5:2). Faith transitions spiritual pain; it matures pain into both an expression (groan) and a desire (longing) to be liberated from this earthly struggle to the glorious heavenly presence of Christ.

Join the dots

Make no mistake; this spiritual maturing does not happen accidentally or without reason. This is the result of Spirit filled living by lives filled with the Word of God (Gal 5:22-25; Eph 3:18; Col 3:15-16). The Holy Spirit’s fruit in your life will be undeniable and humanly unexplainable. Human weaknesses, fleshly failings, disappointments, and everyday inconsistencies will fade and diminish when your growing focus is on the Lord Jesus Christ (2Co 3:18).

I encourage “you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1). “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Strive to make the connection in you thinking; your heavenly calling” in Christ is to impact your relationships with peace resulting from holiness. These qualities give testimony to, and affirmation of the certainty of seeing the Lord as you grow faith that longs to be with the Lord.

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

 Faith longs to be with the Lord   Faith longs to be with the Lord

Faith desires to be with others of faith

When writing Romans, Paul began by reminding his readers of the essentials of faith. He, along with the other apostles, had “received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his (Jesus) name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). Paul’s mission was straight forward.

Faith desires to be with others of faith

The very nature of faith which the apostles were commissioned with is expressed through obedience to Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ. Without acknowledging Jesus as Lord over your life, you have nothing more than religious curiosity. “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Authentic faith believes in the resurrected, living Saviour, whom you openly surrender to as Master in belief and behaviour.

Faith connections

Now, watch the connection Paul makes here. He had the believers of Rome in his “prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will [he] may now at last succeed in coming to” them (Romans 1:10). He not only valued them but realised the importance of visiting them in person. You see, only face to face fellowship with God’s people would enable the full blessings for the body of Christ to be mutually experienced by both parties. 

For Paul, being together meant that he may impart to [them] some spiritual gift to strengthen” (Romans 1:11). Herein lies some of the many strengths to be found in the body of Christ; imparting mercies to your fellow believers is prime. Plus, others get to share in the goodness of God which He has implanted in your life also.

However, Paul did not simply want to share a gift for the sake of pleasure alone. No, he wanted his “spiritual gift to strengthen.”  Gifts are often given simply for the purpose of entertainment or pleasure, which is certainly not wrong. However, in Christ, the believer is enabled to actually pass on gifts which will build up, strengthen for perseverance, and cause spiritual maturing.

Gifts that count

So, what was the “spiritual gift” Paul intended to give; which he was so certain would “strengthen” them? He explains; “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12). There you have it; expressing, sharing, and explaining your faith in Christ has the power to encourage other believers. Christians thrive on mutually exchanging their core component of belief – which is faith.

All this becomes possible when fellowship takes place within Christ’s body. Each local Church matures as it explores ways of explaining and expressing their faith in Christ.  Remember, faith is not only identifiable but definable. It’s not simply a random feeling which carries you away into a spiritual ‘Lala-land.’ No, as your faith has been gifted to you by God (Eph 2:8), so you are able to communicate it to others.

Obviously, this takes effort. Beginning with time in God’s Word, you prepare yourself by growing your understanding of faith. Scripture also gives you the language required for communicating the nature of faith to others. Your relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ is able to be viewed and heard by others in ways which will fuel their ability to live faith in Christ also.

However, isolation from other believers robs all believers of this enormous privilege and responsibility. On the other hand, discipleship enables such relationships to exist and grow for the glory of Christ.

I encourage you; ensure your faith desires to be with others of faith. Share these truths with another believer today who would benefit from a clearer understanding of your friendship in Christ.

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

 Faith desires to be with others of faith   Faith desires to be with others of faith

Real faith that God can build upon

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

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

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