Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Christmas Story And Redeeming Christmas Traditions

This message was preached by Colin  D at Word ofGrace Church on December 8th, 2019. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here





What is the season we are in?
CHRISTMAS!!!

Sometimes Satan takes what is good and corrupts it.

In many Nations, because of the devil, same-sex marriage is being encouraged. Does that mean we decide not to get married at all?
Just because something being misused does not mean we stop doing it.
The devil corrupts what was meant for good. A classic example is Christmas.
Nowadays, the world has changed the meaning of Christmas.
How does the devil corrupt it? For example. Take e.g. Santa Claus

Have you heard of Santa Claus?
There are 2 kinds of people –
1.     People who celebrate Christmas with true meaning and also include Santa Claus.
2.     People who celebrate Christmas only through Santa Claus. That's a NO!

This is another trick the devil has played.
Who was Santa Claus?
He was a bishop - Saint Nicholas, a godly Christian.

Once Saint Nicholas met a poor man who had no money to get his daughters married.
So Nicholas secretly went to this man's house and dropped a gold coin. In no time this poor man got his daughter married. Next year once again he dropped a gold coin. The poor man got his second daughter married too. The same thing happened to the 3rd daughter too.

Why was he doing secretly? It’s because he didn't want any attention. Later on, someone found out about him and he was thrown in prison. There he was martyred.
Was Santa good or bad? GOOD!
The truth is - He was a godly Christian, with good Christian values, generous, gave gifts to people, he died for the faith in Jesus. As Christians, we are called to redeem the culture.

If something is good, carry on with it.
If something is bad, check and stop it completely.
If something good get distorted we change it and redeem it

Why do Christians o celebrate Christmas or why do they decorate their homes?

Was Jesus born on 25th Dec? NO!
Centuries ago, people decided to celebrate on 25th Dec.
Should we decorate? You are free to celebrate Jesus' birth in your own way. There's no compulsion.
Should we set up a tree n decorate it? It's up to an individual.

The origin of the word Christmas refers to Catholic word mass.
It's Christ + mass.

Over the time, the original meaning was gone. It doesn't mean Christ + mass but it's the celebration of Jesus' birth.
The meaning of words does change.
Once upon a time, we could say, "I'm happy and gay"
But now, can we say the same?

Jesus has set us free. Let's focus on Jesus and his birth. Let's not judge people who celebrate through Decoration, tree, sweets, Santa Claus etc.
 Now to our text for today.
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.- Galatians 4:4-7 NIV


We see 3 things –

1.     When the time had fully come

Right at the beginning, Adam and Eve were given a promise that a seed will come to destroy Satan.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”- Genesis 3:15 NIV

Who was God talking about? Jesus!
Right at the Garden of Eden, God made a promise for our salvation. People have been waiting to see who that Savior was.

In Old Testament, it's just a shadow. The New Testament has clarity. Over the period, God gave more and more clarity on his promise.
i)                 Line of David

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord , “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.- Jeremiah 23:5-6 NIV

As history progressed, God gave prophets the Revelation about Jesus.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
- Luke 2:4 NIV

Town of David - Promise fulfilled

ii)               Virgin

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.- Isaiah 7:14 NIV

As the prophets were looking forward, there were signs.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. - Luke 1:26-27 NIV

Virgin - Promise fulfilled

iii)             Where? – Bethlehem

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” - Micah 5:2 NIV

(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
- Luke 2:2-4 NIV

Town of Bethlehem - Promise fulfilled
Throughout history, God has been working through governors and prophets to reveal the promise.
Historically, why was it the right time?
1.     God raised Babylonians

One sin - committed over and over again. This was to put an end to idolatry.

2.     Greeks

Alexander the great conquered Nations thus making Greek a common language. Communication through a common language.

3.     Roman
Powerful, established peace of Roman. The saying, "All roads lead to Rome". Paul and other disciples traveled  through the roads the Romans have built

All these put together was an ideal situation for the gospel to spread. What's the gospel about?

1. Jesus - Son of God
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, - Galatians 4:4 NIV

When did Jesus become son of God? Was it on the day he was born? No! He was eternally the son of God.

2. Redemption

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- John 3:16 NIV
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. - Galatians 4:4-5 NIV

This is the gospel.
It's redemption!
3. Adoption

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. - Galatians 4:4-5 NIV

When parents have their own child, do they have a choice? No!
When parents adopt a child, do they have choice? Yes!
God chose you. Adoption is legal.
When a child is adopted, he/she becomes a part of that family. The heir of the family.

Similarly, God chose you and adopted you into his family.

So this Christmas, we believe that, behind all that's happening in the nation, God is working.

As we enter this church, let's remember this great truth and rejoice.




Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org. 




Tuesday, December 3, 2019

When the Eternal stepped into the transient | Abhishek B

This message was preached by  Abhishek B at  Word of Grace Church on December 1st, 2019. To listen/download the audio please click here

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It is the 1st of December, which means ITS CHRISTMAS!!!,  It is the most wonderful time of the year!
Traditionally, the 4 weeks before Christmas are known as the “Advent”, Advent: is the fact of an event happening or a person arriving.(definition)
We of course are going to celebrate Christmas, along with millions of people across the world, and in the coming days all aspects of this “coming/arrival” will be celebrated, and rightly so, and no doubt we will hear about the “How”- Tableau/Virgin Birth, the Where- O little town of Bethlehem, there will be a recounting of all the stories associated with the Birth of Christ. And all of these have a certain glory, but it all fades in the light of the glory of the One who came- Jesus Christ. (eg- If Sachin comes in his Ferrari, there is some glory of the car, but not as much as Sachin)
We are looking at
- Who?- Whose arrival are we talking about
- Why?- Why He came.
- What? - What his coming means to us.


THE ETERNAL ONE
John 1: 1 &14
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ- the maker of heaven and earth, the creator, as it says in Colosians-1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones and dominions or principalities or power. All things were created through Him and for Him.
He is Eternal, Everlasting, forever Exalted- Lord of Hosts, King of kings, and He chose to lower himself.
If you were here a few weeks ago, I had spoken about the Love of God which made him come for us and the Joy that was set in front of him for which he lowered himself.
What amazing love! And how privileged are we! We are the subjects of His love. It is for us, for you and me that He came. It was purposed by God from the beginning- 1 Pet 1:20- He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

(Transition from 1st point to 2nd point-??)

THE MOMENT THAT CHANGED IT ALL - GOOD NEWS (can think of another header?)**
Luke 4:17-19, Isaiah 61: 1-2
And he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, and when He had opened the book, He found the place, where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Verse 21: Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing


Jesus’ coming in his own words was so that we could receive the Good news of Liberty, of healing from the pain of a broken heart.

Gospel : We were separated from God and his Love, the fall of the man brought death- separation from God, we were alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works (Col 1:21). but praise be to God that he sent His Son to reconcile us with Him. We are now elevated to an amazing position as 1 Pet 2:9-10 says
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His OWN SPECIAL people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Who once were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
So you are His SPECIAL people, no longer alienated, no longer without mercy.
That the significance of Jesus’ coming for us, the moment He stepped into the transient, changed history, changed our lives forever. We would never have made it into the presence of God, we would never have known God if it wasn’t for His son Jesus Christ who came as a man for us.

Healing:
There are 2 greek words used for ‘Broken Hearted’ is:
-           syntetrimmenous: Its a difficult word to pronounce, it means to crush completely, to shatter, break in pieces, broken to shivers. Basically, it means to be broken to a point, where it is not possible to be broken further.
-           kardian: which means the heart, the thoughts or feelings and also by analogy ‘the middle’
Jesus came to heal people who have nothing left to be broken further, to heal the emotional pain of people.


Freedom:
The word used for Captives in the greek paints a picture of a prisoner of war, the word used there is that of a Spear. The image is of a prisoner of war walking and being held at the tip of the spear, who cant move anywhere else without being poked by the spear.
So we were prisoner, and could not try to come out from the kingdom of darkness, could not do any good even if we wanted to, but Jesus came to transform us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light, to free us to do the good works prepared for us to do.

Recovery of Sight:
The word used for blind means murky vision, so those who are in the world and looking for God have a murky vision, they don’t have a clear vision of who God is and what He has done for you, Jesus came to show the world who God is, He is the visible image of the invisible God.



HOPE- (Positive expectation)

We heard Navaz talking about Hope last week, about how we as believers have Hope, which is different from the world, where theirs is just a wish, our is a positive expectation.
The Good news of the Advent of Christ, and His Cross has given us a living hope. So this morning I want to again encourage you
- if you are broken-hearted: Jesus came to heal you.
- if you are in despair- Jesus came to proclaim the good news to you
- if you are oppressed- Jesus came to set you free and to give you the liberty
- if you are struggling with any addictions- Jesus came to set you free of those addictions
- if you feel ordinary- Jesus came to make you HIS Special people.
- if you are sick- Jesus came to heal you. (Isa 53)
- if you are yet blind as in you don’t know who God is- Jesus came to show you the Father, He is the image of the invisible God.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

An Eternal Living Hope

This message was preached by Navaz D at Word ofGrace Church on November 24th, 2019. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here

 AN ETERNAL LIVING HOPE - FINAL
There are some truths more important in life than others. Not every truth is on the same plane and it has a different effect on us

Eg) America lies in the northern hemisphere. True or false? You will get burnt if you put your hand in the fire. True or false? Both statements are true but they hold different values for us.
I am going to read a few scriptures.

Heb 6:19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
Rom 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame/disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us
Ps 39:7 My hope is in you
Ps 62:5 Rest in God alone O my soul for my hope comes from Him.
1Cor 13:13 And now these three things remain – faith , hope and love…
Colossians 1:27 Christ in you the hope of glory
1Pet 1: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This brings me to my topic. “  An Eternal Living Hope ”
Paul in 1 Cor 13:13  said now these 3 things remain: faith, hope, and love. Why did he pick these 3 and not prayer or evangelism etc?
Faith – because without it we can’t see God and cannot experience new birth and most importantly cannot please God.
Love – because it is the first, greatest and the new commandment to not only love God, but to also love one another. Without love, everything amounts to nothing.
Hope Why Hope? Have you thought about it? I have been pondering on this for a few weeks now.

Lets look at 1Peter 1:3-8
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Because we believe in Jesus we have a living Hope and an inheritance that will never spoil not fade.

WHAT IS HOPE?
The oxford dictionary says Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
Wanting something to happen or be the case. A feeling of trust.

While the above are true and even used in the bible, the biblical usage of the word hope is this.

Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future — it expects it to happen. And it not only expects it to happen — it is confident that it will happen. There is a moral certainty that the good we expect and desire will be done.

What or who you hope in is important.

So the object of our hope is important.
The object of our HOPE is in the truth that God is eternal, immortal, unchanging, infallible and constant. Our Hope is something that should not waver because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.

 Faith and hope to work together. Rom 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,
In other words, whenever faith in God looks to the future, it can be called hope. And whenever hope rests on the word of God, it can be called faith. John Piper

Nothing has taken him by surprise, and never will.  Not even the fall of his most beautiful creation- us.
Salvation was not a plan B. Hope has always been anchored in eternity. Hope was defined in eternity past before the foundations of the world were laid.
We know this because in Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

So HOPE was birthed before doubt destroyed the divine destiny God has for the pinnacle of his creation – us.

If you make any finite object your hope viz.  money, career, relationship, job you can loose hope when these things are stripped away from you. Hope anchored in anything temporal is hopeless.

That is why a living hope that will never die is what we need.

WHAT DOES HOPE DO?
1.   Hope brings perspective just as hopelessness does.
Victor Franklin who survived the concentration camps in Germany during WWII said the ones that gave up hope are the ones that did not survive.
Christians are different from any other being on the planet because of this one but very vital truth in our lives called HOPE. Not any hope – it is an ETERNAL LIVING HOPE

Why is it important?

Eg) Two men were hired to do the same job. One was paid Rs 10,000 and the other 10 lakhs. After a couple of months, the one who was paid 10k started to grumble and complain.  They were experiencing the same situation but they had different outlooks. Their outlook was colored by their future expectations.

What we believe about our future controls how we experience the present.

ETERNAL LIVING HOPE is at the core of the gospel. The gospel is not about good ethics and living right. If that were all, we don’t need the Christian faith as there are many religions with good ethics being taught.

This ETERNAL LIVING HOPE is certain – It is of no value if you are not sure. The resurrection of Jesus is the way to be certain. It achieved its purpose. The cross paid the demands of sin, therefore, the resurrection.

2. Hope gives meaning to life
 that suffering can try and take away from us.
V6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Peter was writing to people who were suffering a great deal for their faith. Some were killed, tortured, property confiscated etc.

He tells them to rejoice because this suffering is but for a little while and that, their coming through the fire of trials will result in them getting V7.  Praise glory and honor from Jesus himself.

Trails and suffering open up the human soul and expose
its foundations. Life only has meaning if we have hoped that even death cannot destroy.

HOW DO WE GET THIS ETERNAL, IMPERSIHABLE, LIVING HOPE?
 We get this through Jesus our living hope.

HOPE AND SUFFERING
 The word suffering is the same word used to describe Jesus suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was saying that his soul was crushed with agony and suffering.

Peter says you can suffer and experience joy at the same time because you have not put your hope in circumstances. Jesus sweated drops of blood and cried for the cup to be taken away. There was no pretense and false bravado.

 When you run away from facing hurt and sorrow, you refuse to allow yourself to grieve and you get angry and harden your heart through indifference or anger, which can make you bitter or cynical

When we face our sorrow, it softens us and makes us compassionate.
Imagine Jesus endured suffering for the joy and hope set before him. Jesus did not endure the cross to get a crown. His prize was our redemption. That is what he died and suffered for i.e the joy of seeing that spurred him on. Is 53:11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,  and he will bear their iniquities.

We are Jesus’ living hope and He is our living Hope. So when our lives are deeply hidden in Christ he becomes our living hope that transcends time, trials and tears.

CONCLUSION
Peter is asking us to greatly rejoice in this fact that when we have overcome all this we will receive praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed and the end of all things has come.

We will be able to endure hardships, sickness, loss, and all kinds of injustices and problems because we have an eternal perspective to everything that we go through here on earth.

We know that nothing we go through is in vain. There is an eternal living Hope – to be united with Jesus, to be with Him in paradise where there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears.

There are crowns awaiting us, mansions prepared and cities to rule and all this for enduring a few years on earth for a life with Jesus that will go on forever and ever.

This my friends is the Eternal Living Hope – Jesus himself. And as if that were not enough, he has rewards to give us as well.

Have you anchored in the Eternal Living Hope? Let us remind ourselves and encourage each other with this truth.




Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.