Belief that believes God’s Word without dispute


Both belief and unbelief bring the greatest challenges in life as they dispute with each other. Both require you to reason through personal preference, emotions, and the call of God on your life.  This is precisely what Thomas faced when confronted with the resurrected Lord Jesus. Jesus challenged both his belief and disbelief by saying; Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe. (John 20:27).

Belief that believes God's Word without disputeSin is crafty; deceiving humans into thinking that as long as you are in spiritual negotiation mode, all is well. Well, sin is a liar! Paul warned of people like this; they are always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). How does this happen? At some point they choose to be content with knowing a little about Jesus without actually knowing Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Dispute over ownership

For them, unbelief wins the internal dispute over who has the right of total ownership of their lives. Here is the heart of spiritual anxiety. Sin says relax, eat, drink, be merry. (Luke 12:19). Jesus says what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36). The dispute over your soul is powerful and demanding of total control by both sides. Yet only Christ offers peace from God with eternal life as the result of belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Only Christ offers eternal companionship, faithfulness and security.

With such an amazing commitment from Christ to those who believe, it’s understandable that he requires total surrender from those who believe. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27). Half-hearted belief can only produce discontentment, insecurity, and a spiritually fatalistic view of life.

The basic difference is that partial belief, while thinking of itself as religious, is selective as to which parts of God’s Word it chooses to believe and obey. Convenience and compromise tends to be the goal of weak or counterfeit belief. The Psalmist however, shows us the right attitude; Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments (Psalms 119:66). My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word (Psalms 119:81). I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end (Psalms 119:112).

The soft-hearted solution

I encourage you to develop a soft-hearted attitude towards God’s Word. An attitude that genuinely seeks after God’s truth. To obey without arguing, and with a humble long term view in mind. This attitude gets God’s attention because it’s pleasing to Him. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:8-10).

God’s arch enemy will most likely try to distract you from such genuine belief which surrenders to the Lord. He’s shrewd; he knows how to put obstacles in your way. He’s always placing things and people in your life to  dishearten and side tract you. He’s the master of discouragement; taking your attention away from loyal obedience to Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Remember, Satan works hard at these things in your life because he knows that Christ has disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Christ (Colossians 2:15). Only in Christ can victory be had; victory that lasts through this life, past the grave, and into eternity.

Belief that changes the big picture in life

When growing genuine belief, it’s easy to ignore the overall changes needed in your life to make belief effective. Why? Because; “if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords” (Romans 14:8). Jesus is NOT an add-on to life, He is your life! Jesus does not want your religious good intention. The Lord requires all of you so that He can change everything, NOT just the comfortable things.

Jesus question to His disciples is still valid; “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Human pursuits may be good in and of themselves, but we fool ourselves by trying to find spiritual security in them. Anxiety over this temporal life is symptomatic of a far more serious spiritual anxiety which is often overlooked.

Counterfeit or Genuine?

Listen to Jesus words of caution about counterfeit faith; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). You see, counterfeit belief thinks of itself as being very religious, and therefore safe. Yet it fails to satisfy God, which makes spiritual anxiety all the more torturous. You may tick all the religious boxes, yet your anxiety continues to rise due to the spiritual disconnection with God.

Counterfeit belief seduces by luring you into applying emotional and religious sticking plasters over the cancerous tumour called sin. Sin will do everything to go undetected; rationalising God’s Word so to prevent you from identifying the source of spiritual anxiety which only Christ can remedy.

Invite the Lord to make this very clear to you. “Since we have been justified (acquitted of guilt) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Christ’s death in your place for your sin is what purchased peace from God. Religion, the Church, or any person in the Church, cannot do this. However, Christ has already done it on the cross of Calvary 2000 years ago.

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). Saying a prayer is only the first step of belief. If belief is genuine it will be seen in actions, not primarily the actions of good social deeds, but actions which directly express dependence in Christ alone. James’ point is that works can’t save you, just as faith without action can’t save you.

Sincere application

This means Christ, along with His biblical truths and moral values, come before all earthly relationships and worldly ambitions. It also means we stop approving of sin in both our lives and the lives of those we love. There is no peace in amalgamating Jesus with sin; they will never be compatible. Jesus is not the God of compromise.

There is not greater joy, no greater security to be found than knowing that God is at peace with you.

”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). “…Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). With Jesus Christ in control, you’re OK. As Jesus said; Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). When the Holy Spirit of Jesus truly controls your life “peace and joy” will overshadow life’s circumstances and anxieties.

I encourage you to choose belief that changes the big picture in life.

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

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

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