God Centred Thankfulness


image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you in your expressions of thankfulness to God today. It’s so easy for our thanks to revolve around ourselves, instead, be thankful for those things which are God centred and Christ focused, things which would be appealing and satisfying only to God.

We get a glimpse of heaven in Revelation 4:8-9, where the four living creatures, …never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, …giving glory and honour and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever. The eternal voices of Heaven shall be preoccupied with worship. We believers in Christ start our eternal expression of worship and thanksgiving now, giving thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1Thessalonians 5:18). Just as there will be no moaners in heaven, none of us in Christ should be characterised by moaning now.

The apostle Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 4:15 says that as God’s grace extends to more and more people resulting in salvation, the body of Christ will proportionately increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. We, the beloved in Christ, are the handiwork of Christ for the purpose of thankful glory to God, WHAT A PRIVILEGE!

Follow the example of Paul, who gave thanks to God always for you (each other) because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4). Paul looked past personalities, he recognised the eternal significance of God’s grace at work in others, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints (Colossians 1:12).

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). This is a Holy Spirit transforming work within us, producing thanksgiving and glory that is squarely centred in God through Jesus Christ.

Today, we thank God:

  • For souls saved through repentant faith in Jesus Christ as Lord
  • For salvation, eternal forgiveness in Christ and the indwelling, sealing of the Holy Spirit
  • For increased understanding and wisdom gained through God’s Word -The Bible
  • For answered prayer, particularly those which were outside of our control or influence
  • For the fruit of personal sanctification, especially when following personal character pruning
  • For the hope of Heaven and Christ’s soon return to gather His bride, the church, to Himself – Come Lord Jesus!
  • For the privilege of dispensing a little of God’s mercy into someone else’s life
  • For each other

Above all else beloved, speak well of the Saviour today!!

Thankfully For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

Living Christ’s Selflessness

image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you in living out the selflessness of Jesus Christ. Most of us are familiar with the apostle Paul’s precise exhortation in Philippians 2:3. As those who have the Spirit of the resurrected Christ living within us, we should do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Obviously, we agree with Paul, and we’re stirred by the supreme example of Christ who emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, …he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death (Php 2:7-8), yet, in our humanness, we struggle to genuinely duplicate this wonderful trait.

Be assured, our Lord does not expect us to become something which He has not equipped us by His Holy Spirit to become. Obviously, He seeks our willing involvement in developing more of Christ into our characters. Remember, the mark of a true Christian, is their growing Christ likeness (2Co 3:18). Following are a few brief pointers which I pray will assist you:

  • Do not allow memories of your old self, your old sinful character from before Christ became your Lord, to keep you repeating the same faults. Rather, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead (Php 3:13), we should commit our mind’s resources to becoming Christ like, particularly in regard to humble selflessness.
  • Think often of …the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my (your) Lord (Php 3:8a). Remember that when you repented, you happily …suffered the loss of all things (all self-righteous efforts) and count them as rubbish, in order that I (you) may gain Christ (Php 3:8b)
  • Remind yourself regularly, that the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit really does enable you to …know Christ and the power of his resurrection… (Php 3:10).
  • Be careful that your heart does not deceive you (Jer 17:9) into using selflessness as a means of self-righteousness. Spiritual pride can be terribly seductive and appealing to our human senses.
  • Resolve to …hold true to what we (you) have attained (Php 3:16). Set your determination to never step backwards spiritually. On those difficult days, accept that it’s OK to stand still, to stand your ground. But exercise all you dogmatic focus, all your stubbornness, on NOT turning backward.
  • Focus your thoughts on your citizenship which is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (Php 3:20). Our Saviour is coming to snatch you and I away from the struggle of this life. He shall take us to be with Himself, to be in our true spiritual home for all eternity.
  • Reposition your friendships to enable yourself to join in imitating me (the apostle Paul), and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Php 3:17). Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1Co 15:33 NIV).
  • Pray, pray, and pray.

Realise that Christ’s selflessness:

  • Empowers you to serve others without expecting recognition
  • Emboldens your desire to tell the unsaved of Christ
  • Invigorates hope in God and Jesus Christ’s return
  • Enables forgiveness without retribution
  • Empowers desire for sanctification
  • Ignites true Christ like love

Serving together:  Lincoln Forlong

Pursue Love

image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you to Pursue love… (1Co 14:1). As the apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians, …faith, hope, and love abide… but the greatest of these is love (1Co 13:13). I was reminded today by my good friends Kevin and Cheryl Bartlett of the simplicity of stepping momentarily into someone else’s life and dispensing a few minutes of genuine, unassuming love on behalf of Christ.

You see, God’s love is applicable to every relationship you will ever encounter. While there are various characteristics and expressions of love, we can rest assured that …God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom 5:5), equipping us to administer His love.

As believers in Christ, it’s important to develop the discipline of daily giving thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love (which) endures forever (Psa 136:2). It’s important to keep yourselves in God’s love… waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life (Jude 1:21). While we wait for the Lord, pray that the Lord will predetermine the events of every day, allowing you specific opportunities to invest His love into someone else.

For the love of Christ controls us… (2Co 5:14) compelling us as ambassadors for Christ (2Co 5:20) in using our lives as instruments expressing His love:
– To pray for your enemies
– To comfort those in distress
– To forgive those who offend you
– To strengthen those feeling weak
– To correct those walking into sinful behaviour
– To uplift and encourage those struggling in weakened faith
– For those mourning a loss or enduring the inevitable certainty of losing someone precious
– For your spouse, your child, your parents, your siblings
– For a lost world

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:9-21).

Simply speak well of our Saviour tomorrow beloved.

Serving the Saviour together:  Lincoln Forlong

Security in Jesus Christ

image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you with the realisation of our security in Jesus Christ. As surely as Christ died for your sin and rose victorious from the grave, your belief in the glorified Christ triggers the Fathers many facets of salvation. For us, we realise experientially the permanency of Christ’s security as we persevere in our faith, walking in obedience, and resting in Christ’s sufficiency.

Let’s consider a few of God’s irrevocable accomplishments that we enjoy in Christ. Think of the love He has for the world that motivated Him to give his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16), unending, irreversible life, without the possibility of cancelation. As Jesus affirmed with authoritative certainty in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. Jesus continues to detail the Father’s sovereign conclusiveness in John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The certainty of our security has absolutely nothing to do with our ability to keep ourselves saved, or even to keep ourselves within God’s grace. Rather, we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (Rom 3:24-25). We enjoy the hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (Tit 1:2). Realise that Holy God, who is incapable of lying or changing, has been seeing us as saved, sanctified, resurrected and glorified in Christ from before He even created time itself.

The apsotle Paul, being fully persuaded of our eternal security, wrote to the Ephesian believers saying that “In him (Christ) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Eph 1:13-14). Such is the sufficiency of Christ’s redemptive work, that the Holy Spirit’s permanent indwelling is in a very real sense an unbreakable seal, guaranteeing God’s ownership of the repentant sinner. Therefore, even on those occasions when “we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself(2Ti 2:13).

The arch enemy of our God wants to convince you that Christ’s death is not sufficient to keep you saved when you stumble, he’s WRONG. There will be people in your life who will sow the seeds of doubt, questionings, and of fear – they are in WRONG. They may even attempt to mis-quote or mis-represent God’s Word in an attempt to dislodge your faith in Christ – they are in ERROR.

Instead of listening to the voices of misconception, doubt and error, lets listen ONLY to the God of Scripture. Lets praise God for our unshakable security in Christ. This will disolve fear, highten your joy of salvation, and escalate your hope in Christ’s return. It will deepen your faith, accelerate your expressions of mercy, and ignite your desire to share Christ with those lost in sin. Let’s speak well of the Saviour today for He alone is worthy!

Safe together in Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

The Matter of Sanctification

image_pdfimage_print

I wish to encourage you in the matter of sanctification. A big word which is uncommon in today’s vocabulary. It’s a wonderful word, rich in meaning and application. For today, I wish to leave you with the sweetness of the relational side of sanctification. The word “sanctify” in the Greek New Testament simply means to make holy. In its various biblical forms and applications, it always refers to setting people aside from the unholy standards of this sinful world to the holiness of God. The Lord wants us to grow in our ability to accurately express His holiness through our lives for His glory.

Spiritual cleansing and acquittal of sins guilt through faith in Christ is the Holy Spirit’s work which began at the moment of salvation. Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers with this truth, you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1Co 6:11).

Sanctification is at the heart of every facet of being a genuine Christian. God’s intention, as Jesus explained at Paul’s conversion, was for we Gentiles to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they (we) may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Act 26:18). Faith in Jesus Christ placed us in the group of people that God has set aside as being holy in Christ, so that we can grow in the expression of Christ’s holiness.

God has given us His Word, the Bible, as the tool, the instrument, that fuels our development in holiness. Jesus prayed that the disciples would be sanctified in the truth, and that God’s Word is truth (Jn 17:17-19).  God intends you to grow in sanctification as you immerse yourself in the Word of God and as you are energised by the Holy Spirit to fulfil His perfect will for your life.

Realise, if you are a born again child of God, He wants to sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1Th 5:23). Realise also, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Php 1:6). The Lord will not abandon His mission for sanctification in your life.

Let’s together yield to God’s design for our lives, recognising and embracing His workings of sanctification in us, so that He will get the pleasure and the glory from our living.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong