Give thought to how you praise God


I encourage you to give thought to how you praise God

We live in an age where the world gives little thought to many of its beliefs and activities as impulse and instinct propel people away from the Lord. However, the Christian thinks about their life. Beliefs, plans, activities, friendships, etc. are so important that thought should be applied in order to be the very best we can for Christ.

Give thought to how you praise God

Praise is God’s designed activity for humanity, permeating all of life, engaging all that we are and possess. “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him” (Romans 15:11). In other words, our entire being, all that makes us who we are, is to be intelligently engaged in praise for the purpose of God’s glory. In this sense, praise is to speak well of the Lord which involves the bringing together of all your faculties in a unified expression of His glory. By design, believers are more than simply mouths speaking praise to God; they are to be the embodiment of the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12).

Bad language, smutty humour, blasphemous use of the Lord’s name, should never be acceptable in the Christian life. These negative behaviours contradict the very faith claimed by the child of God and deny the Lord’s holiness.

The Big Picture in Life 

The apostle Paul summarized this thoughtful praise when writing to the Philippians. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Praise is to be an organic spiritual process which is deliberate, engaging the whole person. Praise is not haphazard, nor is it accidental. It’s not a special activity which is entered into on special occasions or reserved for Sunday worship only. Praise is who believers are!

Don’t be deceived, the great enemy of God knows that if left to your own natural processes, “your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). It happens so easily, so naturally, and so comfortably; if praise is neglected, after a period of time you will forget that your life is all about Christ. This is why Christians “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Believer’s give thought to how they keep Christ central in their thinking and living.

Paul explained that his mind was never to be disengaged from praise in order to worship. “I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Praise that truly speaks well of the Lord gives thought to the truth being expressed. Your whole inner person should be involved in acknowledging what you know of God’s character through His Word, and telling Him of your surrendered gratitude to His Lordship.

The Cross

Praise enters worship through the truth and person of Jesus Christ found in the Cross of Calvary. Believers look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Praise realises the living supremacy of Jesus Christ and speaks that truth while living it.

Christian friend, today I encourage you to give thought to how you praise God. He will be glorified; you will be joyfully assured while others shall be spurred on in their spiritual integrity.

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

Give thought to how you praise God   Listen to The Pastor's Pen

 

Think of God’s compassion

I encourage you to think of God’s compassion

Compassion is a wonderful quality for any human to experience and possess. But of course, if you want to taste compassion beyond comparison, you look to the Lord. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psa 103:13). Yahweh’s compassion is not cheap or superficial. Nor is it changeable or determined by emotion. Rather, His compassion is determined by mercy, by His unchangeable holiness which prevents inconsistencies or double standards.

Think of God’s compassion

King David, writing Psalm 103 presents a brilliant rainbow displaying some of the many facets of our Heaven Father’s loving compassion. For the Christian, exploring God’s nature provides understanding of what compassion is, and how it’s expressed. This creates a template from which to evaluate your spiritual state of health and the future direction for your life.

There’s always choices

Obviously, not everyone recognises God’s goodness or his kindness. That’s because appreciation of the Lord is determined by whether a person fears Him or not. If respectful admiration of God does not exist within the human heart, a terrible disconnection from Him will rule. This produces indifference with resentment, which in turn empowers isolation and entrenched disbelief.

However, a right attitude toward the Almighty begins by acknowledging your mortality. “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psa 103:15-16). We are finite, fragile, and temporary. We constantly change, and not always for the good either. We have this fearful habit of thinking we are better than we really are, and that God is less significant than He actually is.

God is amazingly patient, even with those who disrespect and have no time for Him. He patiently provides unbelievers both time and space to turn to Him. The Lord “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). However, sooner or later, everyone must accept responsibility for their choices toward God.

That said; God “knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psa 103:14). Realising our fleshly vulnerabilities and failings actually magnifies “the steadfast love of the LORD” which “is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him…” (Psa 103:17). Those who love the Lord are marked by a profound respect for Him which looks beyond this mortal existence.

Unequalled Grace

The fact is; “the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psa 103:8). God does not treat us the way we treat each other, nor does he “deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psa 103:10).  This in itself should inspire great thankfulness from hearts alive with worship which are quick to speak well of Him at all times.

However, nowhere is the Lord’s compassion seen clearer than at the cross of Calvary. Christ didn’t wait for you to become righteous. No, he “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us(Psa 103:11-12).

Today, I encourage you to think of God’s compassion for you which is seen and experienced best in Jesus Christ.

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

Have larger than life thoughts of God  Listen to The Pastor's Pen

Have larger than life thoughts of God

Be encouraged to have larger than life thoughts of God

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.

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

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Contentment in Christ is not haphazard

Be encouraged, contentment in Christ is not haphazard

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.

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

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Be content in Christ

I encourage you to be content in Christ

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.

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

Listen to The Pastor's Pen

Be content in Christ