Friday, December 23, 2011

What s so amazing about Christmas?

This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church by Colin D Cruz on 18th Dc 2011.

All over the world, millions of people are getting ready to celebrate Christmas.
Christians and non-Christians  alike are involved in the festivities.But just what is Christmas about?
  • ·        For many people it is a time of exchanging gifts.
  • ·        For others it is a time to indulge the sweet tooth.
  • ·        For others it is delicious, rich food and late night parties.
  • ·        For many specially children it is about the fat man wearing red that they look forward to.

What about you? What are you looking forward to?
This morning I’d like to help us understand the real meaning of Christmas so we can celebrate it meaningfully.
Christmas is about the birth of an amazing person – Jesus, the Son of God who was born in an amazing way, who lived an amazing life, who taught some amazing things, had an amazing death and makes us offers us an amazing gift.
It’s going to be an amazing message.

An Amazing Birth

Read Luke 2:4-6
·        His mother Mary was informed by an angel, that she was going to have a baby .
o   For the rest of us it may have been a doctor, or a lab technician or a sonography or a urine test.
o   Born a virgin (without a human father – by the power of God)
o   Luk 1:31 -33
o   A star shone over the place of his birth in Bethlehem.
o   Angels 3 times declared the news of his birth.
o   His birth was foretold, not 9 months but  hundreds of hears before he was born. The exact location, his ancestry etc, were foretold. Isa 7:14 The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel – God with us.
o   His birth divides history into BC – Before Christ and AD ...
But the most amazing thing about the Birth of Jesus us this – The God the creator of heaven and earth would decide to be born as a baby and to come to earth as a human being. The all powerful God became a helpless babe.
Why would he do that? We will find out in due course...

God communicated powerfully. He sent angels 3 times to announce the birth of his son.

An Amazing Life

·        He multiplied food.
·        He healed every sickness and disease – remarkable healings – opened blind eyes, causing the deaf and dumb to hear and to speak and enabling the paralysed to walk again.
·        He set free those tormented by evil spirits
·        And he brought back to life those who were dead!
·        He calmed the storm, he walked on water
He demonstrated power over the natural elements, power over health, power life and death.
·        He lived a sinless life.
Jn 8:46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?
Imagine if you or I stood up and asked our family and friends that question. (Today? Last 
week ? Last year? Can i email  you the file. Its pretty big. I hope you’ve got broad band)

Amazing Teaching

·        Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, forgive your enemies.
munna bhai laga raho – That’s not Ganghigiri but Jesus giri
·        The golden rule - Do unto other as you would want them to do to you.
·        The teachings of Jesus are read more, quoted more, loved more, believed more and translated more because they are the greatest words ever spoken.I am the way the truth and the life – no one comes to the father except through me!
If you have seen me you have seen the father!
Made exclusive claims to be from heaven and being one with God.

Amazing Death

·        Everything we know dies. (plants, flowers, puppies, people)
·        The tombs, graves and samadhis of kings politicians and religious men can be found in every country of the world – where their bones are buried or their ashes are stored
·        Jesus died and rose again. The grave could not hold him. He overcame man’s greatest enemy – death itself.
·        John 11:25 Jesus said “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”
·        Jesus died on the cross and on the third day he came alive. He offers us the same hope.
But why did Jesus die?

We all  a sense of justice. If your wallet was stolen or your house was robbed, how would you feel? And then if the thief was caught, would you not demand for justice – that the thief be punished
In the same way – we need to be punished for our sins. Somebody has to pay. God can’t just cancel that sin.
Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins.

 Amazing Gift
So why are we celebrating Jesus’ birth ? Jesus makes us an amazing offer . He offers us an amazing gift.
The message of Christmas is not presents under the tree. It is not peace on Earth (that will only come with the return of Christ). It is not brotherhood or even religion.
·        The truth of Christmas is that little baby in the manger came to save the world.
1.      Jesus makes you an amazing offer today. He gives us an amazing gifts – free!
2.      Forgiveness of sin – our guilt and punishment taken care off
3.      Being set free from the power of sin – are you fed up with you bad habits, sinful tendencies – Jesus can change your life
4.      Become part of God’s family
5.      Eternal life – We will live forever with God in heaven
6.      God will be with you forever – I will never leave you or forsake you
Would you like to receive this free gift? It’s am amazing offer. You can receive it.
John 3:16
All you have to do is admit – “I am a sinner” and nothing I do can make me right with a holy God. Quit truting in yourself and trust in Jesus – that he is truly God, who died for you sins, that there is no other way to receive forgiveness, and decide to follow him.
December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their "flying machine" off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: "We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas." Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, "How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas." He totally missed the big news--man had flown! 

I want to plead with you today not to miss the wonder of the birth of Christ. Do not allow familiarity to rob you of the joys God has for you. He is worthy of your praise today. His birth is the greatest news in the world! Everything about His birth ends in the glory of God. Come today and catch a glimpse of that glory!

Colin D Cruz
18 Dec 2011

Some quiet thoughts : Reflections: 2011- The year that was!

Some quiet thoughts : Reflections: 2011- The year that was!: Hello everyone! Warm greetings to each one of you. It’s that time of the year when one spends time reflecting and looking back - hopefull...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Through the eyes of the wise men.

This message was preached  by Colin D' Cruz at Word of Grace Chruch, Pune. You can also listen to the AUDIO version by clicking here.

Perspective is important.  A lot depends on whose eyes you things through. Some years ago when Andrew was an infant I met a colleague from work who had a ten year old daughter and I remarked on how big she was. The colleague remarked to the contrary saying her friend’s children were much older and that she felt that her daughter was very small.
When we go through the gospel and look at the birth of Jesus we can see it from different perspectives.

 Today we will look at it through the eyes of the Wise men.

TEXT: Matt 2:1-12
 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler  who will shepherd my people Israel.’7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Let’s look at the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the Magi or the wise men. The story of the wise men is shrouded in the story. How many wise men were there? We don’t really know. We know they brought three kinds of gifts but they could have been more than three men. Where did they come from? What does scripture say? - “east of Jerusalem” Tradition says they came from Iraq. But we don’t know. How long did they travel? Again we don’t know but what we do know is that it was a journey of faith. We can learn three things from the wise men this morning.

 1. It was a journey of FAITH. V2. Where is the one whose has been born the king of the Jews? What we know is that they saw a star in the east and followed it. In those days they did not have GPS. We saw the eclipse last night. In those days they navigated themselves looking at the star. They know if they followed the star they would find the king the Jews.
In those days travel was not safe – they were bandits, no posh hotels. We’ve heard the story of the Good Samaritan – so we know about the dangers travellers faced in those days.
Imagine the neighbours asking the wise men were they were going and they say they don’t know. When asked how long the journey would take, they didn’t have an answer. Don’t sound pretty wise to me!!! But that’s how Christians ought to live – like the wise men. We don’t walk by sight but by FAITH! Abraham walked by faith. He left the most advanced civilisation of that time to follow God who called him to go to another land. Others  like Noah- God told him to build a boat. What boat? What is rain? Imagine if you start building a boat tomorrow. Your neighbours are going to think something is the matter with you. But Noah accepted that with faith. Peter – Jesus told him that he would not make him a good fisherman but a fisher of men. Imagine when Peter told his wife. She must have said “What?  Are you going to give up your job and are you going to catch men like fish and sell them?” A journey of faith for a Christian always involves steps of faith. The Bible highly values faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So whatever we do we should do it in faith and God is pleased.
When we took the offering – we are taking a step of faith. When we give we are saying that the 90% I keep will be more than enough. When I give out the Christmas invitation I am mixing it with faith and hoping the Lord will bless my efforts. Sometimes it is more difficult like when Peter stepped on the water or the feeding of the 5000. This is what God is asking us to do. What steps of faith is the Lord asking you to do? As you take steps of faith God will reward you.
We personally gave money to the gift day – and before the month is out we got 10 times that amount back. Take steps f faith. If you have not had people in your house – start to practice hospitality. When we are weak his grace is sufficient.
William Carey – was a cobbler. He was a humble man. He saw the need for the gospel to come to India. And through him India has been blessed tremendously. He is called the father of Indian Mission. He translated the bible into many languages. He wrote grammar books for many Indian languages. He exercised a little faith and look what he accomplished. What does God want to do through you?

2. Their journey was one of WORSHIP .The Wise men wanted to worship Jesus. They recognised the value of finding Jesus. Part of their worship involved giving – they came with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. They worship involved cost. They gave him gold – fit for a king. Incense – used for worship acknowledging, that he deserved worship. Myrrh – symbolized that one day Jesus would be given as a sacrificial lamb and the myrrh would be used to embalm him. Their worship involved sacrifice – they travelled a long, long way on a Camel. Have you sat on a Camel? They did not travel in a comfort of an a/c coach, plane etc.
I was talking with a pastor who told me in the north east people walk 2 hours to get to church and then another 2 hours back. God is looking for sacrifice in our worship. There has got to be a cost. Let s not give something that does not involve sacrifices . Let’s aim to be to church on time – that’s the least we can do. Rom12 Therefore brother in view of God’s mercy.... since God has done all this for you can you not offer your body as a living sacrifice. Are you willing to use your good health and your body to serve God? Ask the yourself and the  Lord – what can I sacrifice?
This morning I want to ask you – what will you offer to Jesus? There's got to pain. Sacrifice is not painless. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone? One day you will get a reward. Jesus will say well done.

3. The wise men s journey was one of CHANGE: v12. When we encounter the Lord Jesus something happens. Something changes in us. If you have not changed then the there is something wrong. John the Baptist spoke of repentance. The first change is that of repentance. Jesus came to save us from the power of sin and death. Jesus doesn’t just want to save us but cleanse and change us as well. Often we want only fire insurance – to be saved from hell. But we should want to change as well. Jacob from a deceiver became the prince of God. Take Isaiah when he encountered God he realized he was a man of unclean lips. He became aware for his own sinfulness. When we encounter God change must take place. Jesus is the light of the world. When light comes in darkness must go. As Christians God is not calling us to live a totally sinless life (he knows it will not happen this side of eternity) but to a progressively sinless life. Each day we should be aware of how we sin. Are you aware of it?
So the wise men embraced change – Herod was not be trusted and they changed their route.

So we learn three things from the wise men. It’s a journey of faith, a journey of worship and a journey that involves change. As we do this we will have a truly have a Merry Christmas.

Colin D Cruz
Dec 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Discipleship : Part 3 - Remaining leads to growing.

Discipleship Part3

TEXT :  John 15:1-4
John chapter 15 comes straight after the disciples were in the upper room. In Chapter14 the last verse says “Come now let us leave”. This is after the washing of the disciple’s feet and the Last supper. It’s the night before his crucifixion. Possible they were moving to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would pray his high priestly prayer. And along the way 

He shares this with the eleven. Remember Judas has gone off to do what he had to do. As they walked they have must passed some grape vines – which was a common sight, much like how we see coconut trees along the coastal regions. Jesus always used something in nature to teach a principle. He knew he was going to die but the job of making disciples would be entrusted to these eleven. He knew the key to their fruitfulness was abiding in Him. He had given them many “I Am s” viz. I am the door, I am the way, I am the good shepherd etc. Now he is saying that He want their life source, their vitality, energy to come from Him. So what is Jesus saying? There are three things Jesus is saying here. Let’s look at them.

 If you claim to be his disciple you will bear fruit. In John 15:2-3 he refers to 4 situations. Verse2 – No fruit. This is a dangerous place to be in. The question one must ask in such a situation is if the person is really a Christ follower. What fruit is Jesus looking for?

1) Fruits of Repentance Matt3:7-10  – your belief must be attested by the presence of fruit. Repentance is making a U turn- from walking in sin. Then the gospel comes into your life and you walk away from sin. Eg.) you used to read the Horoscope daily – now you no longer do it because you know it is a sin and displeases God. So you identify areas of sin in your life and turn away from it.
2) Fruit of Christ like Character: Gal 5:22-23 As you have come to become a Christ follower do you have these fruit in your life? (22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.)
3) The Fruit of thankfulness. Heb.13:15.This is one of the signs of a disciple of Jesus. We realize we are nothing and that everything comes from him – it’s all His work of grace. We are not demanding but a thankful people.
4) The fruit of giving. Romans 15:26-28 One of the surest ways you know if you are a disciple of Jesus is that your wallet has been converted too. Money is loaned to us by the Lord. Are we faithful stewards of what God has given us?
5) The fruit of making disciples. Are we making disciples of Jesus? 1Cor 15:16, Rom1:13. ( I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.Who because of you is a follower of Jesus? Jesus talks about bearing fruit, bearing more fruit and bearing much fruit. There are degrees and stages of fruitfulness as well.
There is a warning for when there is not fruit. However I see you this morning as ones who will bear much fruit.

By remaining, in the Vine. John 15:5. We need to be connected to the vine. A branch not connected with die and is useless. True lasting fruit come from remaining in the Vine. Word used are, abiding/remaining/lined to. “Apart from me you can do nothing” If you want more of the Spirit be led and guided by Jesus. We can do works of the flesh that will not last. Ask God how you can multiply your talents He has given you. God is not looking for great ability but availability. They need to be FAT people i.e. Faithful, Available, Teachable.

A- Verse 7 One of the ways we “remain “is that we are intimately connected to the WORD. What is the WORD like?

 It is like a mirror– James 1:23-24.As we read it God will show us what we are not like and He will give us the power to change.
ii- It cuts to the heart. Hebrews 4:12 the word judges the thoughts, action and motives. Joshua 1:8 God commands Joshua to meditate on the Word day and night, to do whatever it says in order that he may be successful.
2Cor 3:18 – how do you change your desires? As we remain, something of Jesus transfers onto us.

B – John 15:9-10.  Start obeying His commands. Some things may confuse you. You may not understand everything you read. Focus on what is clear and you know you have to do. “It’s not the things that I don’t understand in the bible that bother me, it’s the things I do!” Mark Twain.

God want you to be fruitful. The way is by remaining- spending time in His word and prayer. Focus on His glory. Just do it and the change will come from some, much , to abundant fruit.

 You can also listen to the audio of this sermon by clicking here .

 Colin D'Cruz
Dec. 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Great Commission Part2 :The Mark of a Disciple - Genuine or a fake!

Part 2 - Genuine or fake?

The Mark of a disciple

How many have seen this (lifts up a Rs 500 note). Do you know whether this is fake or genuine? According to the government there are 169 crore counterfeit currency notes in circulation in the country. The most embarrassing thing is when you give a 500 rupee note to a shop keeper and he lifts it to view it against the light to check if it’s a fake and he turns to tell you he can’t accept the note. You thought it was a good note! 

Just as there are fake notes to be discerned there can be fake disciples in the church. 

How do we distinguish between the two ?  The Reserve bank of India has come out with 5-6 checks to find out if a 500 rupee note is fake or genuine. In the same way Jesus has given us some indicators. Let’s look at some scriptures this morning.

We can look at Mr X, Y or Z to see if they are fake or genuine but the question is am I a true disciple of Jesus?The RBI is the authority on whether a currency note is a fake or a genuine. Jesus is the authority on whether a person is a fake disciple or a genuine one.

The bible gives us three indicators.
TEXT: John8:31-31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1. The first indicator is that we hold onto the teachings of Jesus. Verse 30 Even as He spoke some put their faith in Him/ the Jews believed in Him. But that was not good enough. We have to hold onto the teaching. James says show me your faith and works. Works must accompany faith. The works prove the genuiness of the conversion, of the faith. The works do not save you but prove you. It’s not physically holding onto the Bible. Other translations use the word ‘abide’. Does the person highly value the Bible and Jesus teaching? i.e. the sum of everything Jesus taught. Knowing is not enough. It’s putting it into practice.
James 1:22 warns us not to be merely listeners of the word but rather does of the word. You can come to church week after week and be completely deceived because we do not put it into practice. So let’s be doers of the word. The Word of God is tightly linked to the WORD OF GOD i.e. Jesus (John1:1). So how do we do this?
i.                 We hold onto the teachings and person of Jesus. John15. We need to be rightly related to both. Are we a people of the word? Are we devoted to it? We need to read, meditate, study, journalize, and memorize the word. A woman asked her pastor to visit her at home and pray for her. When the pastor arrived, the woman turned to her daughter and said, "Honey, would you bring mommy’s favorite book." A minute later, the little girl brought in a T.V. Guide.
              When the Word is first in your life it will show in your conduct, words and attitude.

ii.                 Spend time with Jesus himself. We need to learn to abide in him. We should be in love with Jesus. No matter how busy you are spend a few minutes with Jesus.  When he walked on this earth Jesus spent time with the Father daily.

2. John13:34-35-“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
True disciples love each other. John 15:12 -My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.How did Jesus Love His disciples – he laid down his life for us. Can we refuse His commands? This is not a convenient love – it’s sacrificial. This love is outworked in relationships – reaching out to new people at the meeting, having people in your home. We love by not gossiping about each others, or back biting. Lets not devour one another or discuss one another in a negative way. Sort out your problems between the two of you. If you can’t resolve it, take a mature Christian along or bring the matter to your pastor. What about discrimination – “he/she is not my type, not my caste, community, doesn’t speak my language” What about the little children? Jesus blessed the children. Are we willing to make sacrifices by laying down our won preferences? Through the week call each other up – don’t just stick with familiar friendships.
Most of the bitterness within the visible church has nothing to do with doctrinal differences. It can be traced instead to a fundamental lack of love, and an unwillingness to accept the humility that love demands. One way to show love is by forgiving those who have wronged us--whether we are asked or not. No matter how serious the wrong you have suffered may be, love demands that you forgive it. Christ forgave those who had mocked Him, spit on Him, and then crucified Him. The wrongs we generally suffer seem insignificant compared to what He suffered, and yet He was immediately willing to forgive.

3. A true disciple bears fruit. John15:8 this is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. You know a tree by its fruit. Without fruit it’s hard to tell what tree it is unless you are a botanist. What fruit is Jesus looking for?

i. Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." The fruit of the Spirit – Christ like  character. This ought to be manifested in the disciples life. You will not be perfect but you will be growing. You may not be very patient but you are changing.

ii. Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. We should be thankful people. A Christian is one who gives thanks in His name. Do we see how much we should be thankful for?

iii.                Rom 15:26-28 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. A disciple is one who gives. Our attitude toward money determines our Christianity. We can’t say “Lord you can have all of me but don’t touch my purse/cheque book”

iv.               People being saved 1Cor 16:15You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters.. First fruit- a disciple is involved in making other disciples. We are concerned about people going to hell. Who because of you is going to heaven? Who is following Jesus today, because of what you have done?  As true disciples we should be constantly reaching out.

Jesus died for us and we should be involved in having a right relationship with his word and person. We should love one another and we should bear fruit in our lives. God will allow the fruit to develop in your life. Let’s examine our hearts. Am I a true disciple of Jesus? Am I living for myself or for Jesus?

Remember His great sacrifice that was motivated by great love for us. Let us respond to this with great love and obedience showing ourselves to be true disciple of Jesus.

Colin D Cruz
Nov 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Caring for the Church – Part 2: Handling Hot Potatoes

Handling Hot Potatoes!
This is a summary of a seminar given by Malcolm Kayes at TOAM2011 , Bangalore
The pastoral and the prophetic go hand in hand. Hosea 12:13. “The LORD used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet he cared for him. Some people think you are either a pastor or a prophet. But Moses was both. You may be stronger in one of them but you need both in the church.
Acts 20:28:   Keep watch over yourself and the flock. Be Shepherd of the church of God which he bought with his blood. So don’t ever apologize for being a Shepherd. You won’t be perfect. You can apologize for making mistakes but not for leading people.

This is our responsibility and our role. God has appointed you to Shepherd his church – be confident in this otherwise you will be hesitant and fearful of people. This is in any context – be it the small group, small church etc.

Discipling and shaping those under your care
1 Vision: Giving purpose for the context always helps. We as church are there for building one another up and for reaching out. So you set the pattern and atmosphere through your vision.

2. Teaching: We don’t lead by coercion. You lead by showing people what God’s word says. You illuminate their conscience through the Word of God. That’s how you lead. The best leadership is inspirational and motivational. Sometimes you lead more forcefully or deliberately ( like what you do with kids)but not always. People must learn responsibility and consequences through an enlightened conscience.

3. Example – This is the best. Are you faithful to others? Leading in a local church is where the rubber hits the road. Encouragement – thanking people who serve. We must always do it. The serving team are heroes – they need loads of encouragement. We must exhort people. The New Testament is full of it. It has its place - privately and publically. We need a positive culture within the church.

 Here are some Pastoral responsibilities and tools
3 levels of care:

1.      Basic – the one anothering in church. A lot of people push onto the church what they do not want to do themselves. Friendship, social times are important. Small groups – is it pastoral or evangelical. You need a philosophical framework for pastoral care. Teach people to do the basics for one another. Your best friend is your best counsellor – they know you best. Be clear about the role of a small group leader – do they care of the people pastorally? If so train them to do that. Let them know what they should pass onto their senior leaders .This has to do with responsibilities and spheres of authority.

2.      Specialist Care – This deals with life controlling issues like unforgivenss, eating, alcohol. Do you have a way of dealing with this? 3 areas of care-1. Fan into flame – helps people with their strengths, gifts or burdens.2. Life shapers – 8 weeks. They have prayer partners to help them.23. Prayer counselling – for charactering relational issues. We have a team of people who spend three evenings with these people initially.

3.      Crises care – this is an emergency situation where it’s all hands on deck,. Anyone available go first eg) a death, accident etc.
Watch out for energy sappers – they want your time but won’t put any effort into changing. They attract attention to themselves and get a lot of attention for others as well. Sometimes they need boundaries and need action points.

Making disciples – we also have leadership training.

Dealing with the weak,  and the wayward.
Some sheep are silly and some sheep are actually wolves.
·        Be prepared to follow hunches /promptings of the Holy Spirit. HE has made you the leader. If someone has a poor attitude or bad body language – don’t get hyper, have a gracious talk. Ask how they are doing and open the door for conversation.
·        Beware of church hoppers – it’s not wrong to leave but it’s more profound that you think especially if they live in the same locality. Sometimes its unresolved issues and you need to check that. Beware of those who want to make a contribution too quickly – those with vitality, vigour. Be careful of those who just lead of out of their gifting and not character. When you have people’s heart – you have their faithfulness, giving, attending and gifts.

Context for admonition:
Be patient and resilient. Sometimes we want quick change. God is patient with us. Sometimes progress is slow. Also be a little thick skinned. It’s not that you are without emotion but you should be able to absorb pain and disappointment and move on. Choose not to be offended. There’s no need to take abuse – stand up but don’t take offense.
Wisdom – discern between big and small issues. Sometimes they are small and sometimes its big. So ask questions.
1 Discern between big and small issues. Sometimes they are small and sometime big. So ask questions. Is this a mistake/sin caused by immaturity or will fullness. This will determine the response.
Is the person a mature Christian or an immature one? Just because they have been in church a long time does not mean they are mature.
Is this person idle, timid or weak .1Thes 5:14 warn, encourage, help and lastly encourage everyone. Different strokes for different folk.
Has the person got a burden or a load? Gal 6:2, 5. We are to carry each other’s burdens. Each one should carry his own load/responsibility. Burden is an unexpected problem. We should help.
We should encourage people to carry their own load/responsibility. Always work towards people taking responsibility for what they should. Don’t create dependency.
Have you heard both sides of the story?

Confronting people – Am I the person to do this or can someone else? You are safe ground if you don’t like doing it. (if you enjoy it you are a danger to people). Be spiritual – have some discernment. Be loving and considerate and have a desire for restoration.
Pray about the timing and be accountable yourself. Beware lest you get sucked in to their sin. Be a person who known’s God’s word to bring God’s truth. Do it as a brother or sister.
Dancing with the wolves? No thanks!!

We need to be apostolic is dealing with wolves. Don’t ignore the trouble makers. Grace does not mean no accountability, authority and discipline. It’s does not mean everyone agrees. A grace church is an environment where we can share our differences.
Rom 16:17-20 Keep watch. This is often repeated in other epistles. These warnings are not light.
Divisive, pulling in opposite directions, complaints, gossip, unteachable. Different teaching, opposing mission. Paul showed little patients with trouble makers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Making , Marking and Maturing - An introduction to discipleship.

 This is a summary of a new preaching series started at Word Of Grace Church 
by Colin D Cruz.

How many of you have like reading mystery stories? When we go on holiday, we like to take a fat mystery book along to read. They are often unputdownable. The most frustrating thing would be if the last few pages of the book were missing and you don’t get to know who the murderer is, did the good guy win, what was the outcome? You are left hanging.

Imagine if the gospel of Matthew end at chapter 27. What’s in chapter 27? – It ends with the killing of Jesus and his burial. Luke 24:17 records that after Jesus death the disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus and they faces were downcast and sad, because this Jesus was brutally killed and buried. But we thank God for Matthew 28 which records Jesus triumphant resurrection. He appeared to the ladies at the tomb, he appeared to the disciples and to another 500 people over a period of days. He spent 40 days with the disciples before he ascended into heaven. This is his last time on earth – his last few moments till he comes back. So what he says during this time is of prime importance. What do people say on their death beds? It’s not about paying the milk bill. They will say something really important. Jesus communicated some very important things. This is called the great commission. If this is the last and foremost thing on Jesus mind before he ascended into heaven and after he rose from the dead, it would be good for us to pay attention to what he said. In the last few months I have been preaching on Finance and giving. I want to thank and appreciate you. Expect the Lord to give you back as you have sown a seed.

Today’s message begins a new series and this is an introduction to that series.
The summary of Jesus’ teachings and last words can be summed up in two words: Make Disciples.

 Text :Matt 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

1.      Make them: 
You may have read this text many times before. Imagine you are Ratan Tata who is producing all kinds of card and he puts you in charge of the production because he is going away and he tells you “make cars” and he corresponds with you via email, text messages etc. When he comes back after a long time he find the factory covered in dust, the workers and sitting and playing cards having a good time with one another. He asks you whether or not you recovered his email and text messages. And you reply “yes”. We have even framed it, some of us have even studied it by heart, translated it into different languages and some of us have even begun to study deeply the meaning of your letter and what exactly do you mean by a ‘car’”! The mandate was “make cars” not debate about it.

Jesus' mandate is to make disciples. One day we will meet him and he will evaluate our lives. We will enjoy the grace of God but we have a challenge to face as well. Jesus has given 212 commands in the New Testament and they can be summed up in tow words – make disciples. But to do this we have to understand the word ‘disciples’. This is not a short process. It’s a lifelong process – the moment you are born again you are a disciple. But not all disciples are equal – it depends on how you grow. This command “All authority is given.. Therefore go...” – is it only for the mature Christian? It is for everyone. “Go – it’s an assumption. It is actually “as you go make disciples...” so whether you are a housewife, a student, a young Christian you can still make disciples.

The first step is we take the gospel message to the not yet believer – the message is about the death and resurrection of Jesus. You will have the joy of seeing souls saved because of you.
You may be working in the IT, call centre etc, pray and ask the Lord whom you can share the gospel with. Think of someone whom you can begin to pray for and see them come to faith. This is what we will be held accountable for. When one sinner repents heaven rejoices. This is close to Jesus ‘heart – he come to seek and save the lost. Jesus said he will make you a fisher of men not a Bible scholar. How long is it since you are a Christ follower? Are you fishing? Do you have stories of fishing? So, no matter where you go, God can use you to make disciples.

This morning if there is anyone here who have not yet put their faith in Jesus, here is an opportunity to do so.

2.       Mark them.
The second thing Jesus says is “Mark them” – people who own cattle have their own special marking on their cattle so they know which ones belong to them. Our kids mark everything that belongs to them – their pencil box, the pencils, their uniforms etc so that things don’t get mixed up with other people’s stuff. So how did Jesus tell us we should mark them? By baptism. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, son and the Holy spirit” This is how Jesus instituted marking. Baptism is very important in the New Testament. Whenever someone cames to faith they got baptized immediately. They did not wait a long time. The Phillipian Jailer got baptized at midnight. Apostle Paul as soon as he received his sight he got baptized even before he could eat or drink anything.
Marking a disciple is very important. If you are not baptized, Jesus will ask you about it. It is baptism by immersion. It always follows repentance. Its immersion, not sprinkling. It’s like “dip chai”/ tea bag tea.

3.      Mature them.
 Mature: “Teach them to obey” After a disciple is made and marked he needs to be matured. As discipleship is lifelong whether you are 7 or 70 you never stop learning. As disciples each one of us has an “L” plate on our backs all our life. There is so much to learn from the Bible- we go from one degree of glory to another. Being confirmed in to the image of Jesus is the goal. What is the process? Most people think the process is “teaching them”. No. Its teaching them to OBEY. Today there is no shortage of teaching o the TV, internet etc. Teaching is not the issue – obedience is the challenge.
We can increase the knowledge but obedience is the challenge. As someone said “one gram of obedience is better that one ton of knowledge” It is good to know the bible verses that talk about love and forgiveness but when you are offended and you don’t forgive it useless. We need to teach people to obey everything. How can I learn and put into practice. It’s good to memorize but is we don’t put it into practice it’s of no consequence.

There are two things you might ask and two things you need to know.
Why should I obey? Why should I make disciples?
1. All authority had been given to Jesus. Phil 2:9 Jesus  was raised from the dead and God exalted him to the highest place where every knee shall bow and tongues confess. The reason we are commanded to make disciples is because Jesus is the ultimate authority and judge. And He says he is giving us authority to make disciple. The King of the universe has given a command. When a General in an army gives a command a soldier will not question it. How much more when Jesus does? Here is Jesus higher than any commander giving us a command.

2. Jesus gives us a promise “And surely I will be with you...”The context is in the making of disciples – Jesus has promised us success, his grace is upon us.
This is an introduction to a new series we are beginning. Jesus ascended on high and he had given us a command to make disciples and he will take an account from us.
We need to become disciples and we all need to make disciples so that on that day we will hear “Well done good and faithful servant”.

You can listen to the audio version of the sermon by clicking here

Colin D Cruz
Nov 2011