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      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

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

Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

Authentic faith does not speak of human perfection. Rather, it speaks of a repentant attitude which has determined to persevere at a Christ focused life. This attitude deals faithfully with the realities of Christian living.

Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

The apostle Paul confessed; “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Paul, like us, knew the ugly realities of living Christ in a sin governed world. The truth is; we are not always victorious in our Christian walk as we should or could be.

Before salvation, we simply did what sin wanted of us and without giving it a second thought. There was little spiritual battle, if any, because we “were dead in (our) trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But now that God has “made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5), we are aware of the conflict between sin and righteousness. Faith acknowledges this conflict, and although fierce at times, faith determines to stand firm.

Standing firm recognises that in spite of occasions when you stumble, you stand again and walk on. Each rising from such stumbling’s should be used to deepen your resolve and broaden your understanding of how it is that sin trips you.

Brotherly insights

James, Jesus younger half-brother understood this matter of Christian struggles and faith. Listen as he explains; “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. 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). James, and indeed all God’s children, respect and speak well of fellow believers who remain steadfast during great difficulties.

We should observe God’s faithfulness to those who live faithful through times of pain, discouragement, and disappointment. Even when feeling abandoned by those you hold most precious, the Holy Spirit opens deep recesses in your heart to explore the many ways God equips you to stand firm. Questions, challenged beliefs, and the sense of desperation, are all normal and acceptable feelings during such times.

Like Job, who lost everything of earthly value, you can discover unchartered facets and understanding of God’s purposes for your life when you suffer the most. Insights into God’s reasoning usually come clearer following times of determined faithfulness through great pain. As with Job, it’s following periods of silence, reflection, and challenge from others, that you more clearly perceive “how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

Determined and dependant faith

It’s far too easy to be overcome by fear and a sense of failure which is often fuelled by the unloving words and responses of others. However, through determined and dependant faith in Christ you are to “put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”  (Ephesians 6:11). When Christ’s spiritual resources are applied through focused belief, you will “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). Holy Spirit energised faith gives you the determination to simply stand immovable, in spite of possible faltering and stumbling.

This spiritual firmness of purpose enables you to “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Every step of your day is to be a decision to live Jesus Christ in that moment. This is how you watch life with the expectation of God’s strength being sufficient to make you faithful in the on-going present.

Today, be encouraged, your authentic faith has God’s approval to make you stand firm.

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

 Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands   Authentic faith has God’s approval and stands

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      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

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

Does Your Church Have the Holy Spirit?

Romans 8:9 says that anyone who does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ. So, according to biblical definitions, to ask if a church has the Holy Spirit is to ask whether or not they’re Christian. Now, I know that people who ask this aren’t necessarily bringing into question the salvation of the congregants within any given church. But, what they are doing is hijacking Biblical language to suit their traditions.

According to the words of God, if someone does not have the Spirit, they are not Christian.

To walk in the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with how ecstatic a church service is. It simply means that we have been set free from our slavery to sin and death.  That we no longer focus on our carnal desires, but desire to live a life that pleases God.

Yours in Christ,
Bevin.

Do You Move in the Spirit?

It’s been a few years since I left the Charismatic movement. Since doing so it hasn’t been uncommon to be judged as legalistic, religious or a Pharisee who pays too much attention to head knowledge at the expense of being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. That is, I’m trusting too much in the natural and resisting the spiritual. What’s interesting, however, is this can be flipped on its head.

When in the Charismatic movement I would be taught to seek healings, visions, dreams and hunger for greater intimacy with God through ecstatic worship concerts. Success in achieving such intimacy would be gauged by how I felt. However, I now learn to trust in the written word of God despite my feelings. To trust in what He has done and continues to do regardless of emotion. So, with this in mind, who’s truly depending on the natural, and who’s depending on the spiritual? Are you trusting in what you experience or what God has spoken?

Feelings are good. They are, in the words of Greg Koukl, “What makes life delicious”. But, to trust in them and use them as a gauge for the working out of one’s walk with God is a certain recipe for confusion and spiritual derailment. To be truly spiritual we must know the truth of what God has actually revealed to us in His written word.

Blessings,
Bevin