Monday, September 3, 2018

The purpose of pruning: to make you fruity John 15 Part 1| Navaz D Cruz

his message was preached by Navaz D'Cruz at Word of Grace Church on September 1st, 2018. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.



Would you consider the last words of a dying man important? You might say it depends on who and for whom. Absolutely right!! The last words of my father mean a lot to me but not that of a stranger.
Connection gives weight and meaning to words.

John15 :1-3 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.


The chapter divisions in the Bible are not always helpful as I find in this case. As I was reading John 15 I realized there are RED letter words preceding John 15. Therefore,  this is a continuation of a talk Jesus is having with His disciples.

 Chapter 13 is also a very important chapter because it’s the Passover meal Jesus shares with his disciples before his crucifixion; commonly referred to as the “Last Supper”. He talks to them about serving each other, Judas’s betrayal, Peter’s denial. This is heavy stuff. He goes on in Chapter 14 to comfort them with the future hope of being with him forever. He is giving them the promise of the Holy Spirit
We then come to Chapter 15 where he transitions from talking union between the Father and him to the intense union between Jesus and us.


VERSE 1. “I am the true vine”.  
 It means there are many vines that I could be a part.  However, the only true vine is Jesus. Am I in the true vine? Do I belong to Jesus? Have I made Him the center of my life, my Lord, my Saviour? Am I a branch attached to the true vine?

To be fair there are a few interpretations of this verse. I’ll just mention them. Some say it refers to the new order of things Jesus is ushering in. Israel was also referred to the Vine in Is 5:1-7 that was now a fruitless branch that was being cut off. While this may also be true this is not the focus of today. Nor was it the focus of Jesus’ chat with His disciples.


Jesus made some great “I AM” declarations during his 3 ½ years of ministry. This was the last one. To name a few: I am the door, I am the way, the truth the life, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the good shepherd, I am the light of the world, I am the bread of life, etc.


Now he is saying I am the true Vine
As Christians, we need to remind ourselves that our union with Christ is something special we enjoy. It was not always so.  We were not connected to the TRUE VINE.


There was a time we were enemies with God, hostile to his ways. We were outside His kingdom. Then a miracle happened. We heard the life-giving words of the gospel and we in /his great mercy and loving-kindness were drawn to repentance. We made a confession of faith in Jesus and we were born again. From that moment on, we were made New Creations in Christ, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We were given a new identity and a new community.


Therefore, once we are born again, we are in Christ, in His Kingdom though still in this world. We have been grafted into the true Vine that is Jesus. Rom 7:21



VERSE 2-3    2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you

Fruit bearing, This is a kingdom principle set in motion right in Gen 1:28 – “Be fruitful and increase.” This is the first command God gave mankind.  

Fruitfulness is a part of God’s DNA. Being productive is a recurring theme with Jesus. You see it in the parable of the Talents, Minas, the fig tree etc. Jesus said you will be known by your fruit. Eph2:10, James 2:17

You are not saved by works but for works. 

We will be known by our fruit. Are you fruity? Are you bearing fruit?

while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.
Many get confused with this verse.
Bible scholars say this is referring to someone who has not truly put their faith in Jesus. They could be just pretending or going through the motions.

They may look like a believer, talk like one but they have no fruit. They are just a twig. The Gardner will cut this off.
These are not true believers

 We could attend Sunday after Sunday after duty but have no relational or connection with Jesus. 
Judas was with  Jesus for three and a half years and look what happened! Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom Matt7:21.
If you have never put your faith in Jesus today is a good day to repent and confess your sin and make Him the Lord of your life.

It is not referring to believers losing their salvation. This is about unbelievers who think they are.  Once you are Christian you are saved forever!! 
This is a sobering verse. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves whether we are truly grafted in. The test of this is fruit.

We are called to be a blessing to be fruitful. That means we have to make an impact and change the culture around us. We need to leave a legacy of lasting fruit. 

This is one of our core values at Word of Grace – changing lives.  
Heb12:1 encourages us to throw off everything/ the weight that hinders and the sins that so easily entangles.

Every branch that bears fruit He prunes
How is this different from cutting? You cut way at dead branches. Healthy branches are pruned in order to be more fruitful. You cut the branch back so that the foliage and the flowering is dense therefore more fruit. 


Pruning is not punishment as some people might think. When we are growing we need adjustments in our life, in our attitudes, values etc


Do we have unproductive areas in our lives or areas that are hindering our growth? Are there areas robbing our energy and our focus? Has it resulted in a stunted growth in our Christian calling? God is always looking for an increase. The ones who buried their talents/minas were judged for it.


The disciples needed some pruning too. They had just come back from a successful evangelism tour where they saw some great miracles. And immediately after that, they were arguing about who will be the greatest, then two smarties wanted to know who will sit on Jesus left and right. Jesus saw how he needed to check their heart before it blew up in their faces. 

Sometimes a branch may be all leaves and no fruit. It has an appearance of being healthy and fruitful but its not. It is only ornamental. It is not doing the job it should which is bear fruit. This is when pruning is needed.

What is God putting his finger on this morning? How are we pruned? Is there something that needs to be cut off?



VERSE 3 you are already clean by the Word I have spoken to you.
The word “cleaned” is the same as “pruned” or already prepared by pruning.

Verse 3 tells us through His WORD they have been cleaned or pruned.. When we read and reflect on His word it is like holding a mirror up to our hearts and we allow God to cut away things that are not helping me be fruitful.


When I know His Word, I know His will and heart for me. The Gardener guides the branches on the trellis. His Word in us will guide and shape our lives. Jesus is not interested in dressing up Christianity but the real deal. He said we are known by our fruit.


REFLECTION
  • We don’t want to hear another message and not be inspired or challenged by it.
  • What do you feel the Holy Spirit putting his finger on this morning?
  • If you are not truly born again today is a good day.
  • If you need something to be cut off from your life – a habit, an addiction, a relationship, a behavior, surrender it to God. His grace comes to empower us
  • Is there some heart attitude or even behavior that needs to be pruned back in order to make you more fruitful?
  • Is the Word shaping and guiding my life? Make it your mirror, your compass today.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Our sure Hope in Christ | Ranjit R


This message was preached  by Ranjit Rodrigues at Word of Grace Church on August 26th, 2018. Ranjit leads Good News Church in Goa and has been a friend of Word of Grace church for decades.To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.


1 Peter 1:3-7Praise 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.”

Peter is writing this letter to Christians who are scattered all over the known world at that time. He is writing when it was difficult to live as a Christian. The entire Roman army was opposing them. What we face now is nothing compared to what they were facing at that time. Secular rulers were against Christians. At such a time, he starts with these wonderful words. One of the ways Christians are different from everyone else in the world is that we don’t live our lives based on our circumstances. We are people who are praising God all the time.

The great thing about Christians is that they are rejoicing not because of external circumstance, but because of internal circumstance. It was wonderful to see the testimonies this morning. But there are times when the prayer has not been answered yet. So what is our attitude during that time. Miserable Christians are a contradiction in terms because Christians are people who rejoice even before God has answered our prayers.

We have new birth in Christ and that is an internal thing. Because of this, we have great mercy and living hope. New birth means, once you were an ordinary person but now you are extraordinary. The old has gone and the new has come. We begin to realise my life is not in the hands of the stars or tea leaves, but it is in the hands of a loving father. The Christian should never get too familiar with this great blessing called new birth.

1.      Great Mercy: we are now living in a realm of great mercy from God. The air that we breathe is not the air of misery but the air of mercy. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones said when miserable looking preachers start sharing the good news, no one wants to listen.  Each morning I say to myself, God is smiling on me today. I have done nothing to deserve it, but He is smiling on me. Keep your eyes on the favour of God that covers you each morning.

2.      Living Hope: In the world, people have a ‘luck by chance’ kind of hope. There is no confident expectation of God’s blessing in that. That’s how we knew hope in this world. But we have a living hope. Living hope is a confident expectation that God’s plans for me will come to pass in my future.  If you and I are a people of living hope, no one can short circuit the good plans God has for us. Maybe you haven’t put your life in the hands of Jesus. If you haven’t, all these things are available for you today. Jesus will not make us better, he makes us new.

That is not the end of the package. In verse 4 and 5 he says we have an inheritance that will never perish, never spoil, that is kept in heaven for you. The best news is not even the great mercy and living hope. The great news is that Jesus will be revealed on earth and our salvation package will be complete. He has kept mansions in store for us in heaven. He is coming to wrap up history and we will enter into our inheritance with Him.

Some of the inheritance we will have is new bodies, every eye will be cleaned of every tear and every heart will be cleaned of every pain. For your sacrifice the King is going to reward you. All these are a part of the inheritance when Jesus will be revealed.

In this little time between the time we gave our life to Jesus and the time we will see him face to face- we may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. If you look at what God has done for you and what is waiting for you in heaven, these trials will look like they are small. Mother Teresa said, from heaven, all of life on earth will look like 1 night in a cheap hotel.

3 applications:

1.      You may have to suffer some grief. Use them to sharpen and perfect your faith. In verse 7 he means that whenever we face trials, the Lord allows these to overcome them by exercising faith muscle. Faith grows and becomes stronger the more you exercise it. Each time we pray we are exercising faith muscle.

2.      Make praising God a habit. In this century we have become very feeling oriented. But make a decision to praise the Lord in every circumstance. As we do that our eyes will be fixed on things above.

3.      Develop pilgrim thinking. We don’t belong here- not in this hall, not on this earth. We are not here forever. We don’t collect things on earth. Earthly decisions have eternal destiny implications. What we do here on earth has eternal implications.
Let’s pray.

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 onto www.wordofgracechurch.org. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Born for such a time as this | Colin D


This message was preached  by Colin D'cruz at Word of Grace Church on August 12th, 2018. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.

We are all aware that there is a battle going on in the heavenlies. Often we think this battle between God and Satan. But is it really?

God is all powerful and made the whole universe by his word. He is so much more powerful than Satan. 2 Thessalonians 2:8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” God and Satan are not in a battle. We can’t even kill an ant with our breathe, but God can do all things. For some reasons, he has not destroyed Satan yet.

Satan is a fallen angel. In scripture there are 3 angels mentioned- Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer. Lucifer is a fallen angel. God has given us the power to battle Satan. So the battle between good and evil is between God’s people and Satan.

We need to realise what our purpose and destiny is. Our destiny is to bring God’s presence here on earth. We do that with our deeds. God doesn’t need us but he has chosen to give us this responsibility.

“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” And in verse 11 it says “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” The entire Old Testament History is written as warnings for us to understand. So we will look at the book of Esther today.

Esther

King Xerxes of Persia ruled over 137 provinces. He had a beautiful wife- Vashti. One day he had a party and wanted to show off his wife. But she refused. So his advisors in verse 19 said “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.”

In the ordinary things of what happened, but really there is a sovereign God behind everything that happens. God is making a way for another queen to come into the palace. In Chapter 2, they find all the young unmarried women and give them a beauty treatment. There is a Jew called Mordecai who sends his cousin Esther to go through all this in the palace. Esther goes into the palace. In verse 15- 16 “When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.”

There is amazing sovereignty of God in all these things, but we too need to play our role. In chapter 3, we see that the battle is real. The devil influences people too. There are forces of darkness that are controlling those people. Just as the anointing of the Holy Spirit that spurs us into action, Hitler was also under an anointing, but it is the anointing of the forces of darkness which led to the death of millions of Jews. In Esther 3 we see the man called Haman. He was an enemy of the people of God. In every nation there are enemies to the people of God. These people are influenced by the forces of darkness. Mordecai did not respect Haman the way he wanted to be respected. So Haman wanted to destroy all the Jews throughout the kingdom.

The devil is after us. We are in a battle. You are an enemy of Satan because you belong to Jesus. In verse 8 “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them”. This is the plotting of genocide. This has been throughout history and today there is so much antagonism against God’s people.

Esther 3: 10- 11 “So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.””

When mordecai heard about this, he reacted. In Esther 4: 1When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.”Then he went to Esther to do something about it. In verse 12- 14When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”” He is saying, just because you are not directly affected right now, don’t think that it doesn’t matter to you. We are like Esther. We have a role and responsibility to respond.

Esther’s response: Verse 16Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”” When the enemy attacks we have got to do something. God is allowing this to happen because he wants to reward us. One thing the church has neglected over the years is of fasting and praying. We are blessed with so much food and so many choices. Our character is tested not just in lack but in plenty.

Fasting is abstaining from food. We can do other kinds of fasting, but biblical fasting is to abstain from food. Let’s cultivate a lifestyle of praying and fasting.  As a result of this the king couldn’t sleep. Esther 6: 1” That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.” There he saw Mordecai’s name as someone who saves him. He asked Haman what he must do for someone he delighted in. Then Haman gives a list of all things he would have done to him. in verse 10 he says ““Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.” The tables have turned. It was possible by the power of prayer and fasting. At the end of the story, Haman is hanged on the gallows that he made for the Jews. The people of God were saved and the purposes of God continued.

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 onto www.wordofgracechurch.org. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Who are your friends and How to stay friends? | Colin and Navaz D


This message was preached  by Colin  and Navaz D'cruz at Word of Grace Church on the Occasion of Friendship Sunday on August 5th, 2018. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.

We all have friends. But they are not all the same. There are 3 types of friends and these tools will help you handle different types of friends.

1.      Close Friends/ Confidants: They are your friends because they care about you. They are with you through thick and thin. They are happy for your success. They are with you even when you have blown it. They are with you because they care for you and love you. You can’t have too many confidants. You have a few.

2.      Colleagues/ Constituents: they are with you because of a cause or a purpose. They want to be with you to reach their own aims and purposes. In life we have many of these people. they are your friends for a season, to help accomplish their goal. If someone else can help them do that, they will leave you and go to them. Colleagues are like scaffolding to a building. They are essential for a building until the project is completed. Once the project is completed they go away. The confidants are there for you, but the constituents are there for what you are for.

3.      Comrades: they are with you because of what you are against. You are together to go against something. People protesting for something are comrades. In life we must know how to distinguish between the three.
We need to know which friend is which. Never share your confidences with a comrade.
How many of you have fought with your friends? Often, we wear many masks to protect and hide ourselves in conflict?

Q. What is Conflict?
·        Conflict is having a difference of opinion on a situation.
·        Different interests, ideas.
·        Different principles and values
·        Conflict can be between individuals,  or a group of people
·        In conflict you can agree to disagree and still be friends. Your friends do not have to agree with you on everything.

Q. Is Conflict good or bad?

Conflict is Good! “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6. Would you prefer that your friend tell you the truth or give you the wrong advice to protect your feelings?

·        When done well conflict is good and healthy
·        Conflict brings to the surface things that are otherwise not spoken about.
·        Conflict is a necessary part of resolving disagreements. It is a win-win disposition.
·        Conflict is giving honest comments about a situation
·        Conflict helps to build bridges rather than walls.
·        There is honour and respect given in the interaction. Respect is always given, trust is earned. That’s why we need to know who are our confidants, constituents and comrades. But respect is given to each and every person you come into contact with.
·        The desire is reconciliation in order to keep the connection and relationship intact.
Every culture has different ways of handling conflict. These are some of the ways in which we handle conflict in our culture:
·        Don’t talk about it to the person.
·        Talk to someone else about it.
·        Sweep it under the carpet.
·        Silent treatment
·        Emotional blackmail
·        Pull rank – younger person cannot give the older person any feedback because cultural norms of respect.
Some cultures are very verbal, whereas some cultures are silent. It is good to recognise how do you handle conflict.

Q. When does conflict become unhealthy?
When we turn from the situation and turn onto the person. In conflict, the disagreement is with the situation. In Strife, the disagreement is with the person. It becomes personal.
Conflict vs. Strife:
·        Strife is unhealthy
·        Anger, contempt, bitter disagreement
·        Critical judgements
·        Grudges and un-forgiveness held for a long period.
·        It is destructive
·        The situation is no longer the issue. The person is the problem. It changes from “we have a problem” to “You are the problem”. It gets personal.
·        You attack the person’s character.
·        It is a lose – lose disposition
·        It promotes pride and arrogance
·        Seeks war and revenge- this is when conflict is completely broken down into strife and people cannot talk to one another.

Q. How do we handle Conflict?
·        Cool off. Don’t talk when you are upset. Maybe you’ll have to tell your friend that you want to talk about it later.
·        Talk about the problem not the person. Identify the issue.
·        Talk it over starting from “I” not “you
·        Listen and say back what you have heard to make sure you have understood the person accurately. We call this reflective listening.
·        Take responsibility for your role in the conflict
·        Forgive, thank or apologize
·        Give respect and honour no matter what
·        Be willing to compromise
·        Work hard at keeping the connection and friendship
·        It’s worth it.

Disagreements do not have to swell into something more unpleasant. After all, we are all different- People with different opinion, wants and needs. LET’S LEARN TO DO CONFLICT WELL!!

Has anyone been able to identify confidants, constituents and comrades in your life? Have you had conflict with anyone? Access how you handle these conflict situations. There is no such thing as a perfect friend. Proverbs “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Q. What is the biggest thing your friend can do for you?
The ultimate thing someone can do for you is to die for you. This is a big deal! But I want to share about someone who has died for you and that person is Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save us from our sins and to be our friend forever. Jesus came on this earth and died on the cross. The universal problem that man is dealing with is our sin. But Jesus came and died to pay for our sins. And he says, if you believe that I died for your sins and rose again on the third day, you will be forgiven. And he doesn’t call us servants but friends. This Jesus is available to you today!  



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 onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.