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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Is faith that saves alone ? | Colin D Cruz



This message was preached by  Colin D cruz at Word of Grace Church  Pune, on the 30th of March  2014 . You can listen/download to the audio by clicking here.

As Christ followers we have been saved from hell and our sin. So now what? Is there some thing more to this Christian life?
Is there an expectation of me? Am I supposed to do anything? Isn't this all about grace ? 




In India, we joke about the IST as Indian Stretchable Time. But there are many Indians who are disciplined and punctual. And in a recent business meeting I attended, there was an ‘on time draw’ where the people who were on time were rewarded. And I got the reward!
 It feels good to be rewarded, doesn’t it?


Today, we look at a passage in Scripture which promises us rewards in this manner.
Matthew 6:1-18
This is a part of the Sermon on the Mount, which was addressed to the disciples. It lays foundation for what is expected of us as followers of Jesus.

Firstly, remember that this is Jesus speaking and He is assuming something. He is assuming that His disciples will do ‘acts/ works of righteousness’.
Q. Now, why bring in works when we are saved by faith?  

The Christian faith is this- we are all sinners. We can’t take it away. So, Jesus died on the cross and paid for our sins and rose from the death. If we believe this in our heart and confess it with our tongue we are saved. Many Christians stop here. Its true that salvation is by faith and grace alone. But the faith that saves is never alone. There will be changes that prove this salvation.

Justification is a legal term declaring that you are not guilty. You are accepted by God and Jesus’ righteousness is ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21- God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So, now the old self has been put to death and we are a new creation. With this new nature we put away sin and do acts of righteousness. We live as Christ followers. This is sanctification.

When we come to Jesus, we get citizenship in heaven. We see our sinful nature and wonder, “I’m righteous?” Yes!
Sanctification is when we become the righteous by practically working out our salvation. It’s a gradual process- slowly yet surely to become more and more like Jesus.

Sanctification has to do with character, knowledge, faith and acts. This is reflected in Romans 12:1-2- “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Jesus says, if you do these acts of righteousness in the right way, you will be rewarded. He talks about 3 basic areas of discipleship.

1.   Giving: there is a connection between your wallet and the heart. Your heart is determined by your giving. So please make it a practice that you are regularly giving into your local church. This is now your local church, not the one back in your home town.

Secondly, don’t announce your giving for the praise of men. If we do not give with good motives, we can lose our reward. So examine your motives. You will be rewarded for your acts of righteousness even if no one knows about them.

2.   Prayer: firstly, it’s not ‘if you pray’ but ‘when you pray’. Prayer is an important part of our Christian life. Sometimes, people make big showy prayers. Jesus says, go somewhere away from people and talk to your Father. He even goes on to model to us how to pray.

So let’s look to our reward, not from men, but from our Father in heaven.

3.   Fasting: when you fast – it’s not “if” but “when”. You are expected to fast. It needs to be a part of our lifestyle. So, when you fast, don’t look miserable and draw attention. Look cheerful and don’t draw attention to yourself.

The Father wants to reward us. Why?  As you pray, give faithfully and fast, you do acts of righteousness that will be rewarded by God. It’s not for praise and reward from men but from God. So let’s give generously, let’s pray fervently and lets fast and not let food be our idol. 

You don’t have to do a long fast. A day long fast is do-able. Imagine if the whole church did all these three things! How often should we fast? Not once a year on Good Friday but it should be a regular thing. It’s not a hunger strike but you also pray when you fast.
Let’s take up the offer Jesus is giving us i.e When you do it and do it in the right way, the Father will reward us.

Q. What are these rewards?
They can take many forms. One of the main things is the Father’s commendation to hear him saying “well done”!


I want to end with this verse - Revelation 22:12 says, ““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”  Friends let’s do something because Jesus is coming with a reward.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What do we all struggle with? How do we overcome ?| Colin D Cruz

This message was preached by  Colin D cruz at Word of Grace Church  Pune, on the 16th of March  2014 . You can listen/download to the audio by clicking here.

What is something that we all face in common? How do we deal with it? How do we stay on top of it and not get defeated?









I want to share something that I face and each and everyone of us face. Its temptation. To be human is to face temptation.We live in a world that bombards us with temptation all the time. But today let’s look at how Jesus handles temptation. He lays down a pattern for us to follow.

In Matthew 4-  How can ordinary mortals like us with the power of the Holy Spirit handle temptation.Jesus portrays to us, how we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit resist and overcome the different kinds of temptations we face.


Before this, in Matthew 3: 13 Jesus came to Galilee to be baptized. He did not need to, but he identified himself with man and laid the pattern in which men to live in.

v 16- The heavens were opened and Holy Spirit came down and a resounding affirmation from the Father on Jesus' baptism. And as the spirit descended He led Him into the desert to be tempted by the devil. This was a preparatory time for Jesus.

Temptation comes to us not because we are sinners but because we are human. Jesus was not a sinner yet he was tempted. To be tempted is not a sin- its you do with it, that can result in sin. Temptation is an invitation to sin but we have to resist and fight it.

The temptations of Jesus:

1.      Jesus was hungry 40 days of fasting in the desert. In that physical weakness, the devil comes to him and says, “if you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Was Jesus the son of God? Yes, but the first temptation was to cast doubt on God’s love. He was essentially saying, if God loved you, He would have provided for you.

The devil casts doubts on the character and motives of God. Even in the Garden of Eden, this was the strategy he used- “Did God really say...”

Jesus could easily turn the stones into bread.  Later in his ministry he did multiply 5 loaves and 2 fish, he turned water into wine. Jesus could have done ti and there would be no sin in doing it, It was not a sinful thing to eat bread.So there was no sin in the temptation but the sin was in doubting God’s love, His provision and care and trying to fulfill this need through another means.

Instead, what was His response? In verse 4 He says, “It is written..” This is a key phrase! The way we fight the devil is by learning the Word of God. Jesus probably meditated and memorized scripture.

Then he goes on to say, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In our materialistic world, we only believe and trust in the things we see, touch or feel.  

People including christian and consumed with the material. But Jesus says that our sustenance comes  not just from food etc from the spiritual things. SO the lesson is this if you are a Christ follower know that Hie cares for you and loves you and He will provide for you.He is in control! Trust in His word. The way we fortify our belief is by storing the Word in us.

2.      The second temptation- “Throw yourself down. For it is written:…”  The devil is cunning. He uses the scripture to tempt Jesus in the area of testing God’s love. We are not called to test God.

In Mark 16:18, Jesus says that “they will pick up snakes with their hands, and when they drink deadly poison, it doesn't hurt them at all” etc. it is a sign of God’s anointing and protection, but not an invitation for us to test Him. Sometimes people can say, if you do something for me, I will believe you. Don’t!

Jesus in response says, “it is also written:..” we need to know what is also written- a holistic theory. Because the devil can twist scriptures. He quotes Psalm 91 but mis- uses it. We better know scripture to counter his cunning.

so here the temptation is to test God's love. However we are called not to test God. Deut 6:16. Paul was protected from a poisonous snake but he did not go looking for it. Don't jump off a building and expect to be saved. That is not faith but presumption.
Some say "I'll believe in you if you do this" don't test God. We are called to believe by faith not by testing God.

What is testing God? We should take precautions eg" Wearing a helmet, a seat belt is taking pre caution and not testing God. Lord I believe you will look after me but I will not put you to the test.

The only place we are asked to test God is in one place.Malachi 3:10 is the only place where God says, “ test me and see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven.”  We acknowledge that all we have is from God and we are only bringing a portion of it.

The storehouse is the local church that you belong to not your church back home.There is blessing and prevention from damage.If you are facing a financial lack ask yourself if you are honoring God by bringing your tithe into the store house.

Temptation 3

3.      Matthew 4:8 Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth in their Splendor. And Satan says bow down and worship me and all of this is yours.Jesus had come as a man to lead a sinless life and suffer at the cross. Only through the cross could our sins be forgiven. 

Jesus would only go to glory through his suffering. Satan was trying to short circuit that. He was trying to subordinate God’s love. WE are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart soul mind and strength.

 Today people want fame, money comfort etc.Whatever you want today, the devil can give you these things, but it is temporary. He has power but its limited and its a fools paradise. Only Jesus can give you something that lasts forever.

IS GOD FIRST IN YOUR LIFE?

We will all say yes, we don;t worship idols. What is it to put God first. My fulfillment, desires and contentment is in doing God's will. That does not happen with two hours on a Sunday. Lets not kid ourselves. Many people  give time to worship their Gods. Is God the focus and priority of your life? Are you seeking the kingdom first in everything? We don't need to have an idol  to have another God. Just ask yourself what is your life pre occupied with, what preoccupies your thoughts?

Satan is tempting each one of us in all these 3 areas. 
But God gives us help in responding to them:

·        1 Cor 10:13- everyone is facing the same thing. We’re in it together. But the promise is that when we are tempted, He will show us a way out.

·        Hebrews 2:18 says that because He himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Later, in Hebrews 4:15 it says that he is able to sympathize with us.


Some practical ways of handling temptation:
>       Psalm 119-11- ‘hidden your word in my heart’.  Memorize scripture. If you have a particular temptation, see what the word of God has to say about it, and repeat it to yourself when you are being tempted.
>       Matt 6:13- Pray; Matt 26:41- watch out and pray.
>        1 Peter 5:8- the devil is looking to see who is available to devour. Make you are not caught aloof.
>       1 Peter 5:19- Resist.
>       2 Timothy 2:22- Flee. There is a time when you flee temptation and pursue righteousness. If you are running from temptation, run into righteousness and not into another temptation or sin.
Shall we then, by the power of Holy Spirit that  is alive in us, overcome temptation? Amen.



 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 have 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. To know more about us please log ontowww.wordofgracechurch.org.

    English Language Service Sundays at 10am. Please check google maps for directions!




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where does your strength come from? | Pete Harwood.

This message was preached by  Pete Harwood at Word of Grace Church  Pune, on the 9th of March  2014 . You can listen/download to the audio by clicking here.

From experience we know that the Christian life is not easy. Believers all over the world face huge significant problems.When these times come how do we find strength to keep going? 





Let’s see how David reacted in extreme situations.

1 Sam Israel was now in the Promise land but they had regular wars with the Amalakites
1Sam8 Saul was made King and then David is chosen. He starts off very well with his fight with Goliath. Then Saul becomes Jealous and Jonathan becomes his friend.
David was given Ziglak to live in v28

1 Sam 30:7
David and his men went to the battlefield when they returned tired they get a shock of their lives – their town is up in smoke. The enemy has taken away everything. Imagine is this happened to you - you come back from home from work and your family and everything is taken away.

What was their reaction? They wept till they could weep no more. Even David was not spared.Things go worse for David.v6.  Bitter people find someone to blame. “It’s all David’s fault. Let’s kill him.” What would you do if you were David?

It’s a completely unexpected and tragic situation.”But David……”In difficult times we need to strengthen ourselves in God. Someone else did not strengthen him. David encouraged himself and He went straight to God. Everyone was exhausted so he went to the one whose strength never fails. He is not some idol. David had a relationship with God, loved him, sought him and worshipped him. He turned to His god. He learned to go to God whatever the circumstance.

When one compares his action s to that of others – it’s a challenge. Many churches are full of young baby Christians with an attitude of “pastor feed me, feed me”

Babies initially need to be fed but after a while they start feeding themselves. But many Christians have not learnt to feed/strengthen themselves. One meal a week will not give you the strength you need.

Like David we may find ourselves in a situation where there is no one but God. In these times we need to know how to strengthen ourselves.

HOW DID DAVID DO IT?
David prayed with complete honesty. Psalm 8:6

David knows God and is not afraid to say I can’t cope with this. We need to be honest and passionate. Not irreverently but passionately .When we come to God like that, we find that God is with us. You are not pretending that’s everything’s OK

He reminds himself about God and who God is.
Ps 18:30

Ps 18:17-19. David deliberately reminds himself of what God does.

David speaks to himself
Psalm 42:5

Human emotions are both a great blessing and also very unhelpful   sometimes. We can get caught up in despair. David couldn’t give in to his emotions. God has promised to be with you.

There is lot we can learn from David. God cares so deeply about our pain and suffering. So God gave us a permanent and long lasting solution. He sent his son who left the place of no pain and suffering to come here. WHY?

Because he wanted to identify with us and permanently set us free from pain and suffering.
He cried out in complete honesty as he hung on the cross. Where he died and took the penalty for our rebellion and sin. Three days later he rose - he won all those who believe in him have that victory.

When we are tempted to be discouraged we need to look back and look ahead. Jesus understands every temptation and suffering we have and says he will be with us.
Remind yourself of the gospel everyday.

There are many excellent resources to help us wherever we are. Eg Tim Keller is a wonderful resource. Take action- strengthen yourselves in God
Now David strengthens himself and he went and defeated the Amalakites and got back everything.

1 Sam 23:16 David also had other people who encouraged him. Jonathan walks around 20km to see David He goes to strengthen David’s hand in God. This is not just nice words but encouragement to get the job done. 23:17

Jonathan believed God’s promise and said “don’t forget the promise God has given you.
We need to encourage one another with God’s promises. Speak the promises of God into one another’s life. Let’s talk about the purposes of God.


Jonathan knew the very specific promise of David. Take time to build friendships to find out what God is doing. The promises he specifically has given each one of us. Heb 10:19-25


 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 have 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. To know more about us please log ontowww.wordofgracechurch.org.

    English Language Service Sundays at 10am. Please check google maps for directions!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Regions Beyond leaders gathering Session 6 | Terry Virgo

This message was preached by Terry Virgo  is the founder of Newfrontiers. Newfrontiers has now multiplied into many apostolic spheres across the world that are united on global mission by core values and genuine 
relationships.  Regions Beyond  is one  of the Apostolic spheres which is  led by Steve Oliver. 

Terry Virgo  on the importance of worship being in Spirit and in truth and what should our worship times look like.  You can listen to the audio  by clicking here.





The Glorious Church- a wonderful phrase I came across in a book by Watchman Nee. He was one of the voices that made me see the wonder of the church. Earlier, one did not really glory in the church. For us it is a huge deal.

We’ve been looking at Ephesians 4 ministries to see the church as a functioning body. Ephesians has lots of other aspects of church life. One of the aspects is of Worship. The challenges we are facing as people who love the presence of God and we need to very jealously guard what is important to God because we are grounded in scripture and that’s the emphasis we find there.  

In the fall, man sinned and ‘all have fallen short of the glory of God’. That’s the tragedy of the human race- we are lead about by this world and we don’t know anything about the glory of God. Man who was made with the fellowship with the glory of God was cast out from the garden out of the presence of God.

But as the plan of salvation comes into action, and the God of glory reveals himself to Abraham, he is made aware of the reality of an existing God. The God of glory appeared to Abraham and the plan of God’s revelation starts. He begins to deal with the patriarchs and gathers a nation.

God reveals himself to Moses through the burning bush and then through the glory cloud and suddenly, some of the human race is back in the presence of God. During Moses’ time, a group of people start experiencing that fellowship again. At one time God threatens to back off them and Moses says, “Don’t! This is what makes us distinct, that Your presence goes with us. We’re the only nation in the world- that what we are- the people of Your presence.” It was a passionate deal with Him. Moses asks the question- Who are You? In exodus tells you the answer- the reveals himself through power, glory and wisdom (ten commandments and other laws).

We see God reveal himself – God’s power, His glory and His wisdom revealed- a God who leads you into truth. Then they come to the promise land. The promise land is like the Garden of Eden to go in with this realization. The two mountains, the blessings and the curse- the ultimate justice of God- and if they do not obey God, they are out of the land of His presence- the land where the mountain of the Lord is where the glory of the Lord is. Prophet after prophet threaten to obey or get out of the land and finally.

David’s was one of those powerful empires, pushed back the borders and he gave it Solomon. The kingdom of God on earth- His dwelling place. God has chosen Zion! The teachings about the courts of the Lord.

After 70 years we have the story of Ezra- pointing forward to the one who will come. Ultimately, one does come. He stands in the streets and does breath-taking things. The temple was decayed by this time in the hands of the Pharisees-they had God buttoned-up.
Jesus when confronted with the cripple, says, “your sins are forgiven”. When the Pharisees object Jesus says, ‘which is easier… Get up!” And suddenly, the temple is in the streets! Jesus, the temple of God is walking the streets. The temple is something different. Then we get this amazing verse in Ephesians- you are the temple of God. We are the place of God’s presence!

We see throughout the Bible, that God comes- through a nation, through His son- and He’s here now. His presence is here in the church. The gathered church is the place of His presence. We need to help our people understand the sheer privilege in meeting together as God’s people in God’s presence.  

1.   Liberty in worship- where the spirit of the lord is, there is liberty. It is liberty of what we’ve been set free from. We’ve been set free from our blindness, bondage to sin, the dominion of darkness, hell, condemnation… so many thing! 

 In fact, the very first time when God says, “let my people go…” for what? “so they can worship me.” and when they come through the Red Sea, and then you get the very first worship song in the Bible- a terrific song of liberty. This is biblical liberty. We are a people who have been set free who could not have been set free on their own.

Jesus has set us free from powers far too great. God set them free- the Israelites. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Worship is the celebration of that amazing freedom. As we enjoy this freedom, people move into more spiritual freedom. Worship is a dynamic experience. Genuine spiritual worship is where things happen, where God manifests His glory- and that is why I want to guard it jealously.  We are worshipers. God is seeking worshipers not because he is ego-centric, but because when we worship everything else is in order.

When Israelite were in captivity, Psalm 137 says, “How can we sing songs or Zion in a strange land?” where is the kingdom? Where is the presence? But when the Lord turned again, the captivity of Zion, they were like those who dream! “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, our tongues with joyful shouting.”

When I got baptized in the spirit, I began to worship like never before. When we saw grace as a church, we worshiped! We’re not just happy clappy, we enjoy something breath-taking- celebrating liberty!

2.   As an army- expression of faith. When we worship it’s a great opportunity to express faith. Worship that is not mingled with faith is just singing songs. But with faith, it’s declaring to the Lord, to yourself and to one another, what we believe. When they believed his word they sang His praise. It’s not been characteristic of the formal church to ooze faith The heart of the church is faith. The whole breakdown of the human race is unbelief The root of sin is unbelief. 
When Satan came to Adam, he said, ‘you can’t believe God. You can make your own decisions.’ So, it says Paul goes out to bring obedience that comes from faith. We start making choices – I will change the way I raise my family, care for my wife, handle my finances, etc. - that line up with His will. You want to obey Him. Worship can generate that.

It’s about “Father I trust and believe you” The Word will affect our value system, our family live, finance; generosity will change because of faith where unbelief would not allow me to do and enjoy.
So we believe from faith and not because we think “we are not allowed to “
Worship helps the saints to grow.

Three things about worship

1. Worshipful faith – Creedal faith – Truth endures for centuries. In Christ Alone raises faith. It’s the words that cause faith to rise. Martin Luther and the Wesley’s wrote great hymns. We want to sing songs that say something. We need to sing creedal songs. I get weary when we sing lines that don’t say anything at all. Things we sing should declare reality. As leaders as should not hand over the guy who can just pay guitar but engage with truth. We treasure the truth.

2. Faith that is confidence for success. We need songs where people are going through all kinds of pain, struggles, and sickness. Worship leaders have a phenomenal opportunity to bless people. So faith is rising in his presence. How often to people say,  or sing out what they believe. As you do this whole churches come alive in his presence. This is huge.

3 Advancing faith.  We songs that inspire courage and about the future. We need songs that declare nothing is impossible with God. Faith is who we are. When a nation stops believing it stops being believers. So many people cope with life and go through pain. We want to see people come through pressure confidently and trusting.

Devotion-  What is one thing Jesus says? Where ever you go this will be talked about. Its was devotion. The woman who anoints Jesus. There is something about it that Jesus liked. Jesus could have mentioned anything else but he delighted in this. There is something about the tenderness and intimacy. Worship does that. Worship should take people on a journey. Let’s meet with God and encounter his presence. It’s more than just being upbeat. Its meeting with him, singing with integrity

Often people make big decisions in worship. Put give huge amounts of money as a result of being impacted in worship. It happens through devotion.

That’s why we need good songs. The church of God is where His presence is. So we want to meet with him and enjoy his presence.

People like Hudson Talyor etc wrote about heart devotion as they worshiped.
 Rom 12:1-2. Worship that is rational and is a life style. It’s not just lifestyle but also that we sing his praises. It’s too important to be causal about or let anyone steal it form us and fail to expect to meet with God.







Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Regions Beyond leaders gathering - Session 5 | Tim Davies


This message was preached by Tim Davies who leads a church that is a part of Regions Beyond. which is a part of Newfrontiers. Newfrontiers has now multiplied into many apostolic spheres across the world that are united on global mission by core values and genuine relationships.  Regions Beyond  is one  of the Apostolic spheres which is  led by Steve Oliver. 





DEEPLY RELATIONAL

When we look at the Apostle John’s he writes- no one has ever seen God. And then he says, but God has made himself known through His son Jesus. He repeats the same phrase in his first epistle- that no one has ever seen God, but he doesn’t end it with the spotlight on Jesus. He says, but if we love one another... Suddenly, the spotlight is on us. It’s a shock when you don’t expect such an ending. This value is so close and so essential to what we are.
   
John again makes that statement- God is love. It’s a startling stand-alone statement. It’s the very essence of God’s nature.

When John writes, he expects some kind of mocking laughter, when somebody walks in and says that he knows God but doesn’t love. If you know God and are born of God, you love one another. Jesus says, “They’ll know that you are my disciples if you love another.” It’s the sign of being in Jesus- the sign of the knowledge of the father is that we love one another. We see it in the New Testament life- the life of the Apostles, a community working it out because that’s what Jesus called them to.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says- if I speak in the language of angels…and have no love…it’s nothing! Would we dare to say it so starkly if it is not in the scriptures? If there’s no love, it’s nothing. What do we gain if everything in heaven says, ‘it was nothing’? Love is absolutely central.

Q. Can we have that and go for the nations?

This is not a question in the heart of God. Jesus says, “In the same way the Father sent me, I am sending you” the progression- father sending and we being sent- there is intimacy and mission. The intimacy in the Godhead- and the mission of the Godhead.

Love is just essential to Paul. It’s truly a better way. He believed that. It’s not just team dynamics, its love. In the problem with Barnabas, we see that this is actually important to Paul. We can’t do this without love.

The thing that can spoil it is:
·       our own insecurities,
·       our own selfish ambition and
·       competition
When there is fear- ‘What about me?’ ‘What does this mean for me?’ Let’s be honest about our hearts. Competition kills the sense of deep relationship.

In Mark 10- when James and John were asking for glory, Jesus said, the gentiles lorded over one another. “Not so with you.” Just that phrase- “it’s not going to be like that with us.” Only a couple of verses later John is saying, that we stopped someone from casting out a demon because he was not with them. They did not get it. The night before Jesus lays down his life, there was an awkwardness in the room because they’ve been discussing about who is the greatest. Then Jesus takes off his outer cloak and washes their feet. He says, there is blessing in doing this for one another. Not so with you- there is a better way.
 
Friends, wouldn’t you want to be a person who does not need honour – nor is afraid of it? Someone who does not lust for recognition – nor, on the other hand, is frightened to death of it? … Wouldn’t you like to be the kind of person who, in their imaginary life, does not sit around fantasizing about hitting self-esteem home-runs, daydreaming about successes that give them the edge over others? Or perhaps you tend to beat yourself up and to be tormented by regrets. Wouldn’t you like to be free of them? Wouldn’t you like to be the skater who wins the silver, and yet is thrilled about those three triple jumps that the gold medal winner did? To love it the way you love a sunrise? Just to love the fact that it was done? For it not to matter whether it was their success or your success. Not to care if they did it or you did it. You are as happy that they did it as if you had done it yourself – because you are just so happy to see it. 
    (The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness - Tim Keller)

 He takes it from Paul in 2 Corinthians 3. He is not talking about self-esteem. He is not even playing that game. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be free like that?

It’s saying, there is nothing in me that needs recognition, but I’m not going to scared of it either being afraid of what people are thinking about me. We are here for one another’s success! We are seeking first the kingdom.


Paul is like that. When in the jail, in Philippians and hears news of people preaching Jesus due to competition, he says, “I rejoice … Christ is proclaimed!” Even when you suspect of the motives, Christ is proclaimed and you rejoice in that.

Q. how do we get there?

Just enjoying the grace of God- that he loves you, forgave you, adopted you as His son, every spiritual blessing given, the hope for the future- never to forsake you, never to leave you. It’s embarrassing to add anything else to that. Pride isn’t about what you’ve got but about what you’ve got that others do not. No one is proud about being rich. They are proud about being richer! The things that are true of all of us, they are enough. If nothing else were to happen, I’ll be happy. Let’s just enjoy Him and wherever he leads us- into obscurity or moments of acclamation- let our treasure be him and him alone. This means, I can become a servant of all. It looks like a dead- end, to become everyone’s servant. But its great in the kingdom- to lay down your life for one another. Trusting a father in heaven who will keep His promises. Like Abraham, we can say, ‘I’ve got the promises.’ We don’t give up the promises as we lay down our lives for one another. We are going to do that- it’s a faith decision.

One of the prophetic words we got is a picture of a huge ball going down a hill and all of us in the ball. Things change- you’re at the top one moment and the ball is moving and you are under someone but we are all moving together. That’s a good picture! Things change and no one can lord themselves over the others. We are born of the spirit and the wind blows where it will. It’s like that for those born of the spirit.


The other option is- as Paul describes in a graphic way- that we devour one another. It’s a great one another! They are the extremes. If it is like a crossroads, what is it going to be? We devour one another or we lay our lives down for one another? We need to say, you stay God and I’ll be quiet. You tell me what to do- give me the opportunity. I will run like the wind but I don’t have to. If someone else does it, it’ll be glorious as well.

God is at work among us and this is what he is doing. In John’s letter where he says, love another. He gives the picture of the cross. The story is that whenever John was asked to preach his message was “dear children, lets love one another.” Can you imagine the frustration when someone like John comes to talk and all he says is, love one another?  John was there just meters away from the cross. So he says, I was there when Jesus poured out his life, so little children, let’s love one another.

Also at the cross, Jesus tells John, “this is your mother”. John went to the cross without a mother and came back with a mother he never had before. It wasn’t just a message, something happened with John there at the cross. So Paul says, be eager to keep the unity of the spirit. The cross is not just an example. Something happens at the cross. This is a present reality- we are a family because of what happened at the cross. It’s not about trying to make something happen. It’s something that God has done- a tangible reality on the cross- we now belong to one another. Paul does not say, make every effort- he says, ‘be eager’!


The thing about our personal ambition- we need to say, “not so with us”. We are here for one another’s success. I believe God has given us faith for this. There is incredible fruit from that. No one’s ever seen God, but when we love one another people see God.