Display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ

I encourage you to display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ

Any discussion on behaviour will engender emotions differing from person to person. Why, because your response to behaviour is always directly related to your attitude to relationships.

Display behaviour appropriate for the Body of ChristToday, I wish to focus on the single most important relationship any human is capable of having, your relationship with Jesus Christ. The unavoidable implication of knowing Jesus as Lord is that you are irreversibly adopted into God’s family, the body of Christ, the Church.

The principle of identifying a legitimate member of the body of Christ is the same as Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 7:16; “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Here, fruit are the outward behaviours which are unique to that specific life. Therefore fruit are the tell-tales of what’s in the heart; either showing a connection to the parent life or not, showing likeness which is unmistakable or not.

Fruit for relationships

The fruit Jesus is referring to are the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours which would clearly display a relationship with God to be genuine, or not. This is why the apostle Paul uses the word fruit to explain the controlling presence of God’s Spirit.  The evidence of God’s Spirit in a Christian’s life is “the fruit of the Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

In addition, the testimony of Christ’s body is this; “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Believers recognise where they belong. There is an instinctive drawing toward heaven and the imminent return of Christ to snatch His bride away. Likewise, there is an instinctive fellowship with fellow members of Christ here on earth. This Holy Spirit generated identification forms part of the rich symbolism of Communion; Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

These truths enable believers to recognise each other. The nine fold fruit of Holy Spirit, the realization of heavenly citizenship, unity in celebrating Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, plus anticipation of Jesus imminent return. These are what make a Christian stand out from the crowd. Now, just as a believer cannot be separated from Christ; so the body of Christ cannot be dismembered, in spite of the many attempts made by His enemies.

Amazing relationships

There are significant implications to these amazing relationships. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5). The various limbs (members) of Christ’s body are intrinsically knitted together, composing the entirety of Christ’s representation here on earth. This enables an incredible display of God’s wisdom through His design of the body.

If you live Spirit filled, your desire will be to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Holy Spirit authored peace is first of all with God through Christ and secondly with your spiritual family, the body of Christ. This Spiritual peace which is to dominate your hearts will overflow into your relationships, especially with God’s people. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are therefore precious treasures for Christ’s glory and your blessing. Obviously, this should produce a great sense of thankfulness to the Lord and each other.

I encourage you to display behaviour appropriate for the Body of Christ; displaying the value of Christ in your brothers and sister for His glory.

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

   Live for Christ's purpose   Live for Christ's purpose

Recognise the Body of Christ

I encourage you to recognise the Body of Christ

The Church of Jesus Christ is in fact the body of Christ. It’s not a social club, it’s not simply a religious organisation and it’s far more than a team. This body belongs to Christ and is therefore more complex and diverse that any worldly association, and should not be thought of with worldly values.

Recognise the Body of Christ

The naming of the Church as ‘the Body of Christ’ is greater than a word picture; it’s the identity of the present physical representation of Jesus Christ in this world. It’s as the apostle Paul explained; God brings both Jew and Gentile together “in one body through the cross” (Ephesians 2:16). The atoning work of Christ on the cross of Calvary is that which purchased this body of believers. With Christ’s life being the purchase price, Calvary should be the bulls-eye focus for the body of Christ. 

Worldly thinking and Christ’s body

Because worldly minded people have been wrongly empowered to expect, and even demand, that the Church fulfil their desires, the Body of Christ’s unique significance has been grossly depreciated. Rather, “…he (The Father) put all things under his (Christ’s) feet and gave him (Christ) as head over all things to the church, which is his (Christ’s) body, the fullness of him (The Father) who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

It is God the Fathers design that as an expression of His infinite supremacy, Christ is to reign supreme over redeemed people who make up His body. Consequently, the Church is all about God, magnifying his supernal beauty through His Son Jesus Christ, in the energy of the Holy Spirit.

God’s intention is “that through the church the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). All angelic beings, both good and evil, should be able to watch the body of Christ to view the many facets of God’s wisdom on display. The potential for God to be glorified, exalted, and spoken well of, largely depends on the accuracy in which Christ’s body lives out uncompromising biblical beliefs and behaviour. This enormous privilege and responsibility is uniquely gifted to the body of Christ alone.

Now, “because we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30), we are to recognise that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free...(1 Corinthians 12:13). Every person, regardless of ethnicity or social standing, is submersed by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ upon personal belief in Jesus’s substitutional death for their sin. Consequently, as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:4-5).

Reality check

The inescapable truth is that believers not only belong to the Lord, they equally belong to each other.  Both corporately and individually Christians share oneness of identity and relationship in Christ, and in the body of Christ. Likewise, what should be the obvious love and commitment God’s children have for their Lord, should be equally as obvious for one another.  

The apostle Paul, realising the sinful inclinations of selfish people, wrote to the Church in Rome and detailed God’s intended relational behaviour between believers. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10). “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight” (Romans 12:16).

Today, I encourage you to evaluate your understanding of the body of Christ and how the Lord lives through you for your fellow Christian and God’s glory.

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

   Live for Christ's purpose   Live for Christ's purpose

Live purposeful lives flavoured with God’s integrity

I encourage you to live purposeful lives flavoured with God’s integrity

It’s all very well using words like ‘purposeful and integrity,’ but how can they translate into daily living which is meaningful to both God and you?

Live purposeful lives flavoured with God’s integrity

Consider Paul’s brief benediction where he summarises the Lord to Timothy. He not only puts God’s character on display, but shows our responsibility. “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17). It’s for mankind to acknowledge the one true God for who He says He is. Likewise, it’s for believers to honour and glorify the Lord by making the required effort to live His character while being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing intensity (2Co 3:18).

Authenticity is everything

Authentic faith is easily recognised by others. Equally, it catches the Lord’s attention as His people become like Enoch, who “was commended as having pleased God“ (Hebrews 11:5). Realise that your character, speech, motives, and actions are to be surrendered to “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Here you will find fulfillment, satisfaction, contentment, and assurance; when your daily purpose in life is to bring pleasure to the Almighty. This is what you were born for. This is why the Lord has brought your life to this point of understanding.

Listen to the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Church in Rome. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). You see, believers need each other in order to fulfill God’s intended purpose.

When Christians are in fellowship together, united in the Church body, Christ works in association with them for the Father’s glory. I encourage you to be an active, serving member in a local Bible teaching Church. Just as God is a God of endurance and encouragement, so He is purposeful in His design for you to be in Christ and to live and serve together in harmony with other Christians.

Tragedy is optional

However, the tragedy is if you understand these Bible truths yet choose to disbelieve. Don’t allow all the blessings of eternal life; of knowing and experiencing the Lord Jesus Christ to pass you by, which is a disaster of eternal proportion. Jesus’ invitation to you is as valid and powerful today as it has ever been. “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 11:28-29). “I (Jesus) have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Of course, this is only possible through a personal faith relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV). Don’t put off the most significant decision any human can make. Confess that Jesus died your death, paying your debt to God in full so that you can receive full forgiveness and acceptance by God. Today, I encourage you to live purposeful lives flavoured with God’s integrity for His pleasure and His glory.

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

   Live for Christ's purpose   Live for Christ's purpose

Live for Christ’s purpose

I encourage you to live for Christ’s purpose

God is the God of purpose, who does NOT randomly interact with mankind on a whim.  All that He is and does has design, reason and intent, and this includes you and I. No-one escapes the Lord’s attention, especially those who try to ignore or deny Him.

Live for Christ's purpose

Lives for thought

The Lord speaking through Moses, informed obstinate Pharaoh; “for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). Even wicked Pharaoh was used by God to put on display His character. And didn’t Pharaoh do a spectacular job of it? The more determined and rebellious Pharaoh became against God, the more he drew everyone’s attention to the Lord’s even greater determination and remarkable power.

Likewise, King David, “after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…” (Acts 13:36). David, like us, wasn’t a random accident who served no purpose other than pleasure and self-fulfillment. Each person has a God ordained purpose to uniquely fulfil during their allotted time in history.

Consider what “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). Job’s complex life with all his suffering and blessings expose humanity to the merciful character of God through the extremities of life. Life is not just about fun, although fun is OK. Life is to be an array of experiences lived through the lens of Jesus Christ for the acknowledgement and expression of God’s character. This is what we mean when we say, ‘we live for the glory of God.’

Then there’s Barnabas, who exhorted the Church in Antioch “to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose” (Acts 11:23). There is no short-term test-drive thinking here. You don’t add Christ to your existing beliefs for the purpose of evaluating His performance. The deceptive feelings of your heart in this matter will always lead you away from Christ.

Your highest thoughts

However, your highest attention should be given to the reason Jesus Christ came and lived. Shortly before He was crucified for your sin He prayed; “Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27-28). Christ was compelled to come to earth in His period of history for the single minded purpose of Glorifying His heavenly Father. This He did through crucifixion; dying your death in order that the Father’s justice against your sin could be satisfied. Faith in the substitutional death of Jesus permits peace from God to be dispatched into your heart and life (Romans 3:21-26).

You see, to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour, is to know why you were born and what your purpose in life is. This realisation is what enabled the apostle Paul to say; “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Christ was His daily reason for living, and physical death served simply as the doorway to the eternal benefit of being in the presence of Christ in Heaven. This is the wonderful hope believers have in Christ.

An authentic surrendered relationship with the Lord Jesus gives purpose and significance forever. However, the sin of living independent of Christ will rob you of understanding your design, purpose, and hope of eternal life.

Today, I encourage you to live for Christ’s purpose through your faith and life.

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

   Live for Christ's purpose   Live for Christ's purpose

Consider integrity through God’s eyes

I encourage you to consider integrity through God’s eyes

Integrity, it’s not a word used much in today’s society; still, integrity is of the utmost importance to God. In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, integrity carries the idea of completeness in moral innocence. Here is mankind’s deepest problem, even though it’s denied most of the time. Typically, we think of ourselves as better, more righteous, more worthy of God’s approval than what we really are (Rom 3:10-18).

Consider integrity through God’s eyes

There’s a sense of self-righteousness within the human heart that says; “I don’t need God.” An attitude that determines that because life has not gone the way I considered correct or best, there cannot be a God. In spite of this, it’s that independent attitude that says; “I’ll sort God out if and when I see Him.” This defiant attitude which is belligerent toward God is identified in the Bible as sin which places the sinner under the wrath of God’s justice (Eph 2:1-3).

Integrity interests God

Therefore, integrity which is of interest to God starts by agreeing with Him as to our natural heart condition. The first acknowledgement is admitting that we have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It confesses “with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in your heart that God raised him from the dead…” (Romans 10:9). Then it aligns itself with God, who “has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2).

A healthy heart toward God recognises that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). In this step of faith there is an exchange of animosity against the Lord for trusting belief in Him. John speaks of this as receiving and believing in Jesus, it’s the work of God in the human heart that generates spiritual rebirth into God’s family (John 1:12-13). Spiritual integrity must start here!

Now, this new life in Christ has responsibilities. In this regard, the Lord connected two critical realities for King Solomon; “…walk with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules” (1 Kings 9:4). The bottom line is this; belief has to synchronize with behaviour. Why, because “faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:20). We know and evaluate what we truly believe by what we do. The things we believe and put into practice will be the things we tend to persevere in, for good or for bad.

God’s always on the lookout

The Lord looks to see a correlation between your claimed faith, and your behaviour. He looks for this integrity connection which is evidence of “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). This God generated reality is what enables you to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

The mark of spiritual integrity is this; faith produces the desire to live for God’s pleasure and His glory. You see, the Church is all about God, and very little about us. It was God who “in love… predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6). We, the Church, exist for God’s glory through Jesus Christ! Today my friends, I encourage you to consider your integrity through God’s eyes.

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

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