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

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

Let the Body of Christ grow with God’s growth

Growth is an integral part of all life; from plants, the animal kingdom, to humanity. We expect to see growth in all that lives, so it is in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul explained to the Colossian believers; “…holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19).

Let the Body of Christ grow with God’s growth

As Paul was warning Colossian believers of imposters infiltrating the congregation, he inserts this affirmation of how God works to grow His church. Healthy saints cling to Christ who “is the head of the church, his body” (Ephesians 5:23). It’s Christ who administers nourishment and knits together every member of the church body. No one is left out or overlooked; however, each member must accept the growth God gives.

God designed growth

God’s design for “the whole body” is to grow its “joints and ligaments” which are the individual Christians that make up the local church congregation. No member is ever qualified to step aside and stop growing in Christ’s body. Individual believers grow best when connected and functioning selflessly in the body.

Christ circulates the necessary spiritual nutrients for growth through church relationships by feeding on God’s Word, united worship, fellowship, prayer, and service. This is how individual members grow connections with other members to develop a healthy church body. Sadly, if a limb separates from the body, it quickly withers, losing the nutrition for life because it chose amputation. This is never God’s intension or desire.

Christians need each other. First, because togetherness maintains connection with the Head (Christ). Second, the various gifting’s of other believers enable you to receive nutrition from the Head. Third, it’s only in the church body that you grow “with a growth that is from God.” Any appearance of growth that’s isolated from the body is not from God and is imitation (James 3:13-18).

Growth is interpersonal

This was Paul’s point to the Ephesians; “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). If the body development is not Christ centred, with the exaltation of Christ as the source and purpose, it’s not of God. Paul explained it to the Corinthians this way; “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Believers need each other in order for God to grow them in Christ for His glory alone.

Paul personalised this for the Ephesians by saying; “the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). When ‘agape’ love is deficient in the body or an individual, growth is stunted and the body is deprived of the ability to grow in God’s strength.

Here, Paul is speaking to heart intention; your motives make a difference to your church growth. Personal growth, or lack of it, in part, effects the growth of other members of Christ’s body in your local congregation. It’s inescapable! If God’s love dwells in you (Rom 5:5), you will be compelled by that love (2Co 5:14) to benefit other members in Christ’s body by doing everything you can to permit God’s strength to be your strength.

Today, intentionally do the things which will enable the body of Christ to grow with God’s growth? Share this with another believer to encourage their growth. The Lord will be honoured, they will be blessed, and you will be joyed.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Live as if time were not your own

I wish to encourage you to live as if time were not your own.

We live in a world where the preciousness of time is mostly taken for granted, living as if life has no end, as if pleasures are all that matters, as if personal fulfilment is the supreme goal of our existence. Contrary to worldly thinking, God is not a kill-joy! He agrees, it’s good to have fun, to explore the adventures of life, and to appreciate the exciting times. However, wonderful experiences should be lived for the purpose of God’s glory, not for sin.

Job, having lost all this world treasures (possessions, money, children, friends, employees, popularity, health), presents us with a sobering reality check; “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). We are delicately paused within mortality, housed within fragile bodies, and near sighted concerning the certainty of eternity. James, Jesus younger brother, sums up our vulnerability; “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The Lord informed Belshazzar; “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end” (Daniel 5:26). Jesus told a parable emphasising this reality; a rich farmer said to himself, “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12:18-20).

Time is a precious gift, not to be taken for granted. As we all know, there are no second chances at how we use time. There is no ‘Restart or Replay’ buttons, no reincarnation. There is no negotiation or bargaining at the end of our time. We cannot deny the inevitability of that day which awaits us all. I recall my 85 year old Dad, telling me how he still felt like a 21 year old. Yet, his body was spent, time had run its course. Dad’s legacy was that he had lived his time for the Lord Jesus Christ. Dad was ready and happy to be taken home to His Heavenly Father.

The apostle Peter reminds us that we should live our “time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). As Christians “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 Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). Our time was never ours in the first place. God always intended it to be used for loving Him through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that all who read this, will not love “the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43). I encourage you, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Allow Christ to take control, to determine your daily decisions, to speak the gospel through you, to live out His character through you. Submit to the Saviour’s will, live your time as if it were not your own. Live His time which is entrusted to you for His purpose and His glory.

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong      

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Live to see God’s will done

I wish to encourage you to live to see God’s will done.

A common condition that cuts across all cultures, and manifests from an early age, is that we don’t respond well when we don’t get what we want. We are typically very protective of our ‘so-called rights’ to do what we want. In other words, we naturally tend to will and do as we please. Not so the child of God!

Jesus, instructing His disciples on how to pray, following His initial worship, says, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). While most believers are very happy for God’s will to be perfectly and instantaneously carried out in heaven, we’re lease than enthusiastic to apply the same principle to our own lives. The fact is, in this matter of living for God’s will to be done, we need to increasingly adopt the attitude of John the Baptist, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Genuinely desiring our Heavenly Father’s will to be accomplished in our lives is an integral component of our highest worship. In so doing, we acknowledge His rightful sovereignty, His entitlement to Lordship, and our rightful servitude. In this most important matter, we need to regularly ask, as the disciples did, Lord “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).

Our very salvation evidences that, “He (God) predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). God’s will always has purpose. He never does anything simply for the sake of doing it. As “those who belong to Christ Jesus (who) have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24-25), let us focus our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3).

As is so often the case, Christ leads by divine example, exemplifying His righteous submission when saying; “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30). Obviously, what our Heavenly Father wants, how He wants to accomplish what He wants, and His timing, is going to differ from our way of thinking; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). God’s eternal holiness, His infinite knowledge and wisdom, His glory, His mercy, and His love of us, all work together to determine His will for our lives. He sees and understands every component of every situation, nothing is overlooked, and nothing is disregarded as irrelevant, as He lavishes his sovereign love and irresistible grace upon us (1 John 3:1).

Seeking another’s will in preference to our own requires a Holy Spirit generated work within our hearts. So, we pray; Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”! (Psalms 139:23-24). Let our response mirror that of Thomas, who answered Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28), as we acknowledge that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

I encourage you to live as those looking for God’s will to be done in your life, putting Jesus Christ first! Invite His Holy Spirit to inspire your spiritual motives, your aspirations, your passions, to embolden your faith, to enlarge your willingness for personal sacrifice, and empower your willingness to tell the lost of their only Saviour, Jesus Christ! For His glory alone!

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong      

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Think clearly about Jesus Christ

I wish to encourage you to think clearly about Jesus Christ.

Most of us know the frustration of having someone wrongly comment on what they think you are like. We sometimes respond, “Well, you obviously don’t know me as well as you think.” Mankind is quick to spout off their opinions of God with fallible certainty, while God is probably saying, “Well, you obviously don’t know me.” So, how do we get to know God with the clarity and certainty that God would agree with?

The created universe screams at us of God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they (mankind) are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Complimenting creation’s voice, God, who still knows what He thinks, is able to communicate His truth with perfect clarity through His written Word, the Bible.

Although it makes sense to ask God directly, mankind typically looks to religion, philosophy, astrology, science, mythology, spiritualism, mysticism, and any number of other unrelated sources, for insights into who God is. God wrote the Bible for the specific purpose of allowing you to get to know Him directly. The prophet Ezekiel recorded the Lord saying to Israel approximately 70 times, “you shall know that I am the LORD”. God wants to be known! He has not hidden Himself.

God explains that “he has spoken to us by his Son (Jesus Christ), He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:2-3). So, if you genuinely want to know God, you seek the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The apostle John affirmed that Jesus Christ “has made him (God) known” (John 1:18).

Here’s the thing, by allowing voices other than God’s written Word to influence your view of Jesus Christ, you easily form a distorted view of God which results in a false sense of identity, both yours and Gods. You unavoidably conclude that Jesus Christ is less than holy God, and that man is more than sinfully independent of his creator. The Bible presents Jesus Christ in absolutes, in challenging words of truth that brings clarity, opening your heart and mind to His terms of restoration, spiritual regeneration, and the Christ centred relationship that He intends for you.

To be a Christian we must agree with God about who Jesus Christ is, agreeing that Jesus is “our great God and Saviour” (Titus 2:13). We must believe in (trust in, depend upon) Jesus who “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Justification means we are acquitted from guilt, presented as right before God purely because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which He did in our place. Jesus “bore our sins in his body” when He died on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). God the Father vented His full justice on His Son, punishing Jesus with our death penalty for our sin. To be a Christian we must love Jesus Christ as Lord (Master), which identifies the pretend from the genuine Christians. Jesus declared His Lordship over anyone who genuinely wants to believe in Him by saying; ”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

I encourage you to ask yourself, “do I think clearly about Jesus Christ?” If you would like to read a more detailed explanation, you can download What is a Christian by clicking on this link.

Together for Christ:   Lincoln Forlong                        

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