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

Appreciate God’s Work in Others

I wish to encourage you to appreciate God’s work in others. Appreciation is a wonderful commodity that we can freely pass on to others. The recipient feels valued, even wanted. It overcomes hurts and fears; it energises fatigued bodies and inspires vigour for persevering in life.

The apostle Paul often wrote expressing his appreciation of others, however, I want to draw your attention to his letter to the believers in Philippi. In Philippians 1:3, Paul starts “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you”. As we remember others, particularly fellow believers, as we think of them during the activities of the day, our response should automatically be one of thanks to God. Thanks for the Lord’s work in their lives, and thanks for the Lord intersecting your life with theirs . Like Paul, we should be thankful for others who also love Christ “with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:4-5). Mutual faith in Christ and His gospel enables us to identify and express joyful thanks for others who also share eternal life.

Paul’s appreciation was heightened by His certainty in Gods undeterred, life changing ministry in others. He could confidently say; “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Likewise, our appreciation is a double barrel, first it’s admiration for God’s determinate work of irresistible grace. Second, it’s an expression of our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are joyed by the absolute certainty of the salvation and security our loved friends have in Christ as Lord.

Writing from prison, Paul  could say; “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7). So, like Paul, we focus on God’s grace which is working out His mercy in each other’s lives. We celebrate the Lord’s love expressing itself in our fellow believers. We rejoice in the Holy Spirit’s determined ministry bringing fellow saints to maturity in Christ. We acknowledge our partnership in each other’s lives, supporting others through difficulties, pains, unjust circumstances, as well as through the times of ease and comfort. We willingly uphold each other during times of defending the gospel and sound doctrine. We unit with these ones, celebrating the victories and accomplishments of Christ in their lives.

Realising the close association of fellowship in Christ, Paul continues explaining that; “God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8). Thankful appreciation develops a genuine yearning, a longing after, for not only fellowship with, but for the riches of Christ Jesus to be settled in the hearts and minds of those you love.  No wonder Paul prayed; “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

Today, I encourage you to thankfully praise God, particularly for those in your life who love Jesus Christ. Communicate your appreciation to those loved ones. Our Heavenly Father will be glorified, Jesus Christ will be pleased, and the Holy Spirit will be honoured as He accomplishes His work in and through you.

Together For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong                    www.bbf.net.nz

Bay Bible Fellowship focus on others

“Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Enjoy the Friendship of Christ

I wish to encourage you to enjoy the friendship of Christ. While it’s true that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16), and that the Lord “is patient …not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), this does not mean that friendship exists between God and the unbelieving world. Friendship with God is more than pleasant emotions or sentiments; it’s more than believing that God exists and that He leaves you alone to do whatever you want. James explains the relationship between the world and God; “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Passive association with God while remaining loyal to the world and participating in its sinful values and lifestyle, is not friendship with God.

The important issue is, “does God think of me as His friend”?

The Psalmist understood that, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him” (Psalms 25:14). Jesus built upon this by teaching His disciples, You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).

Jesus, being creator God (Hebrews 1:10), was entitled to call His disciples slaves. Yet, He opens His heart to these ordinary men by identifying them as His friends. He reminds them that they “did not choose” Him, but He chose them (John 15:16), and that “already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Only hours before His crucifixion, Jesus defines the nature of His relationship with His disciples; “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9).Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The friendship of God that we enter into through faith in Jesus Christ is cleansing because of His Word, its secure because of His trustworthy sovereignty, it’s intimate because the Father’s love for His Son is passed on to us. The friendship of Jesus Christ is initiated by Him, it’s made possible through Him laying down His life on the cross of Calvary for our redemption (Colossians 1:4). We rejoice because Christ “became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). In this unimaginable friendship, Jesus says, you “abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).

Indeed, we are privileged beyond human imagination, expectation, or design. Therefore, we boast of Christ! He has  achieved everything we could not. He maintains everything we cannot. He determines everything we are powerless to control. He strengthens and secures everything we weaken. He establishes everything we have yet to experience. He manifests the Father’s love in us even while we struggle with our unloveliness, vulnerabilities, and failings.  He also assures us with the certain hope of eternal life in His presence. Yes, we richly abide in Christ.

I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to envelope your soul with the joy of this divine friendship. Praise the Lord continuously today because of the breath-taking beauties of this heavenly friendship. Find someone you can uplift with the wonder and grace of this merciful friendship. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Together For Christ:  Lincoln Forlong             www.bbf.net.nz

Enjoying the friendship of Jesus Christ

“Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”