Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lost and Found



This is a summary of the message preached by Colin D Cruz on Sunday 24th July 2011 at Word of Grace Church, Pune.

Luke 15 The Lost Coin, The Lost Sheep

Intro

In these two parables something of value is lost. In the stories the thing lost, whether a sheep or a coin, have monetary value. Nobody, including the religious leaders who valued material things, would ignore such a loss; rather they would put every effort into finding it and would rejoice when they did.
If this is true about things that are lost, shouldn’t it also be for people who are spiritually lost? The term "lost" is an analogy used to refer to those who are not Christians, to those who are outside of the household of God but whom God desires to come home. You can see this in the story of the Prodigal Son where the father says about the son who has repented and returned home "he was lost and is found (verse 31)." Clearly it is those are spiritually lost who are represented by the lost things in these illustrate stories.
Shouldn’t we respond to people who are lost in the same way or even a greater way than we would to lost things? Shouldn’t we exhibit the same efforts, and perseverance in searching for them? Shouldn’t we be filled with joy at there being found? I believe that the point of this passage is primarily to remind Christians of how they should respond to the lost. You could also interpret these parables as primarily illustrating how God responds and searches for the lost.

The first thing needed is found in the setting that the parables were given in and the other two things that are needed to reach the lost are found in the parables themselves.

1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.

1.      Jesus had the "tax collectors and sinners" gathering around him.
These are lost people who were not running from Jesus but rather running to him. They were not avoiding him, ignoring him, or even hostile towards him. Verse 1 says that they were "gathering around to hear him." Why were sinners so willing and even eager to listen to Jesus? It certainly wasn’t because Jesus had an easy message that tickled people’s ears. It wasn’t because Jesus compromised on sin and said that everything they were doing was acceptable.

2.      Why did the "lost" seek out Jesus rather than run from him?
 I believe the answer is his compassion. Jesus loved them and showed that love with a compassionate instead of condemning attitude. The Bible says in verse 2 that Jesus "welcomes sinners and eats with them." One of the definitions for the Greek word translated as "welcomes" in this verse is to "receive as a friend." This was Jesus attitude toward those who were lost in sin. Jesus had a attitude that lost people were attracted to, do we? For us as individuals and as a church to reach people we are going to have to show and have that same love and acceptance.

Then He eats with them. And this is most outrageous because in the ancient Near East and Middle East, eating with somebody was a sign of approval and affirmation, particularly if you were a rabbi or a Pharisee or a spiritual leader. The rabbis used to say they ate with people and whenever they ate with anybody, they conveyed to that person, affirmation and spiritual blessing. So Jesus eating with sinners was a way to give approval to them in their view. And so here they are again making the same chronic complaint against Jesus completely misunderstanding the heart of God for sinners. And Jesus answers their murmurings with three stories.
Mt 9:10,11 while Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?

Mt 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners”.

·        Acceptance does not mean approval
·        Bad company corrupts good character 1 Cor 15:33 Watch out
·        Your goal should be transformational

When it comes to reaching the lost and hurting, we’re going to be in one of these three groups.
·        We will be uninvolved and let others do the work. Or we will condemn people for their foolish behavior saying things like, "It’s your own fault that you’re in this mess.
·        1 The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.
Much of the church is responding to the lost like the police officer instead of the paramedics. This is what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did. There are several lessons in the next two parables. Along with an illustration of the joyous attitude the Pharisees should have had to the lost coming to Jesus, we are also instructed about two more things needed to reach the lost.


2. The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.



In these two parables, Jesus emphasizes the effort that went into finding the lost. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said that the shepherd would "leave the ninety-nine sheep in the open country and go after the lost sheep. . ." In the parable of the lost coin, the woman lights a lamp, sweeps the whole house, and searches carefully for the lost coin according to verse 8.


In both cases the thing that was lost had to be sought after with great effort.. We tend to wait for the lost to come to us. We’re passive rather than active.
 The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.


How do we practically practice this principle?
What do you and I need to do in order to be following Jesus instructions about giving effort to reaching the lost? There are several things we can do.

1.      First, a significant part of our prayers should be for the lost.
2.      Second, making every effort means that a significant part of the ministries of New Life in Christ should be directed toward reaching the lost. I know that we must also be careful to dedicate a significant part of the ministries toward discipling those who are already Christians. Nevertheless, this is no excuse for not seeking the lost as Jesus instructed us to.
3.      Third, making every effort to reach the lost means we must be willing to make outreach a significant part of our personal and church spending.

So far I’ve shared two things necessary to reach the lost like Jesus did.


1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.
2. The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.


There is also a third thing necessary for reaching the lost found in these parables.

3.     The third thing needed to reach the lost its persistence.

Read Luke 15:4, 8


In both these cases Jesus notes specifically that the person continued seeking after the lost item until he or she found it. In other words, Jesus seems to be pointing out that persistence was a needed quality for success.
 It is not usually the case there our first efforts meet with success. Sometimes it takes years and years of persistence, but we should not be discouraged or give up.

Read Luke 15: 5-7, 9-10


Conclusion:

The religious leaders of the day had been indifferent toward the lost and even antagonistic toward them coming to Jesus. Jesus uses these two parables to illustrate how wrong their response was, especially when compared to how they would have responded toward recovering something of far less value.
Jesus then pointed out that the one thing that matters most to God is the lost. They matter so much to God that when the lost are found, even one of them, all heaven rejoices and throws a party! There is more joy over one sinner coming to Jesus that over ninety-nine people being right where they’re supposed to be with God. If lost people matter this much to God, shouldn’t they matter this much to us? Shouldn’t we be willing to give everything needed in order to reach the lost? My answer is "yes" and I hope yours is also.
In each case there was tremendous joy...tremendous joy. The thing that I want you to note in your mind is that salvation and celebration go together. Salvation and joy belong together. Being made right with God is cause for joy...joy on the part of God, joy on the part of Christ, joy on the part of the angels, joy on the part of the church and joy on the part of the one who is redeemed.
Joy in heaven.
So if you asked a simple question, What goes on in Heaven, pretty easy to sum up...the worship of God, the exultation of Christ, the fullness of holiness and endless, perfect joy. And right now it's going on. As one sinner after another is sought and found and recovered, the party never ends. God places the highest value on the worth of a sinner, one soul recovered
And that takes us to the fact that the coin is lost and sought and found and celebrated,
What is needed to reach the lost? From this passage we discovered at least three things.
1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.


2. The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.
3. The third thing needed to reach the lost its persistence.




Colin D cruz .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Intimacy with the Word of God


 This message was preached by Cyril Georgeson  at Word of Grace Church on the 17th of July. He is the head of Training and Development India, for RZIM Ministries. This is a summary of his preach.
Intimacy with God through His Word
James 1:23: Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 
The Word is a mirror. If you are feeling lost this morning the question I have for you is this “did you look in to the mirror of the word of God?”
Jeremiah 23:29 -"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?  The writer likens the word to  Fire which purifies our hearts. Sometimes it’s a hammer that shatters the rock. Some of us have been Christians for a long time and our lives have plateaued. We are not seeing the changes we would like to see and we get frustrated. Sometimes the hammer needs to strike many times to weaken something before it breaks. At first nothing seems to be happening, but the first blow has developed a crack inside the rock. Its starts to weaken from inside out and a crack appear on the surface and it finally breaks.
In the same way as we come to the Word of God, it will purify us and break in us things that are not of him.
How do we grow in the Word of God. Ps119 has 176 verses and each of them have made reference to the word (precepts, law, Word, statues, commands etc).
So how do we grow in the Word? Here is a clue 119:97-104 :” Oh, how I love your law! 
   I meditate on it all day long. 
98 Your commands are always with me 
   and make me wiser than my enemies. 
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, 
   for I meditate on your statutes. 
100 I have more understanding than the elders, 
   for I obey your precepts. 
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path 
   so that I might obey your word. 
102 I have not departed from your laws, 
   for you yourself have taught me. 
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, 
   sweeter than honey to my mouth! 
104 I gain understanding from your precepts; 
   therefore I hate every wrong path.

How I love your law! To love is to be consumed by it, to be preoccupied with it, think about it all the time. Biblical meditation is filling the mind with the WORD and not emptying it like in other forms of meditation.
Three things happen when we begin to do this
·        v98- It makes me wiser than my enemy. We always need to out strategise our enemy.
·        V.99- We are more insightful than people who do not meditate on the WORD
·        V100 –We gain more understanding than our elders. Ezra 7:10 He studied, practised and taught the WORD. He practised /obeyed i.e Love = obedience to God. My Sunday celebration should be out of my obedience to the Word through the week.
How do we get Intimate with the WORD?
1.      Macroscopic Reading – This is rapid reading through the Bible in order to get a bird’s eye view. If you three chapters each day you can go through the whole Bible in one year.
2.      Microscopic Reading – This involves detailed study. Set aside time maybe once a week to study a book of the bible in depth. Makes notes and ask the Holy Spirit reveal things to you from the word.
3.      Meditation – the only antidote to a destructive imagination is meditating on the Word. Meditation is when we also allow our imagination to be engaged.
4.      Memorization – Ps119:9 how can a young person stay on the path of purity? 
   By living according to your word. 119 :11 – I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Memorise 1 verse each week and you will have learned 52 verses in a year. Use idle time for scripture memorization e.g.: waiting for a bus or train, during your bus /train ride etc.

Make a Plan:
Macroscopic – how many chapters a day?
Microscopic – How much time a day or week?
Meditation : Should be a part of your macro reading.
Memorization – How many verses a year?

To end I quote : C. H Spurgeon “The Bible is a harbor where I can drop down my anchor, feeling certain that it will hold.  Here is a place where I can find sure footing; and, by the grace of God, from this confidence I shall never be moved.” 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

TWO CAUTIONS AND FOUR COMMANDS

 PART 3 -  2 CAUTIONS 4 COMMNANDS By Colin D'Cruz

  
TWO  CAUTIONS AND FOUR COMMANDS
 Are you rich? Who is rich?  Let’s look at this scenario. A man is busy peddling away on his cycle when a man on a scooter passes by and he thinks to himself “this guy is rich!” The man on the scooter   sees a guy on a Bullet motorbike shoot past him and he thinks to himself “this guy is rich!” A Honda City car zips past the biker and the biker thinks to himself “this guy sure is rich!”  The Honda city is overtaken by a cool BMW and the owner of the Honda City envies the BMW guy thinking to him “this guy is rich!” The Guy in the BMW get off at the airport and checks into the  First class lounge that overlooks the tarmac and he sees a man entering his private Jet and he shakes his head thinking to himself “this guy is rich!!”

So who is rich? Rich is a relative word depending on your point of reference. The most accurate point of reference is the Word of God, the Bible. How does the Bible define riches?

1Timothy 6:6-76 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
Since we all have food, clothing and shelter the Bible calls us rich! So this text and message is for each one of us.
In our country if you earn less than Rs 100/- a day you are considered to be Below Poverty Line. Anything over that can qualify as rich!!

Our text for today has 2 Cautions and 4 commands.
1Tim 6:17-19: 17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Timothy gives us 2 CAUTIONS:

1.    V17. Do not be arrogant – The rich are in danger of arrogance. This manifest itself in the way we think, behave and speak. We often think we are better than others because of our prosperity, possessions, and position. Sometimes it is evident in our speech- do we speak down to people? How do we treat people who serve us viz. the liftman, watchmen, and the maids? We need to examine ourselves.

God wants us to be humble like him. Phil 2:3- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
When we do this we break the strongholds in our culture of cast and class.
Everything we have comes from the Lord i.e. our wealth, our money, abilities and even our intellect.

1Cor 4;7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
Deut 8:18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today
One thought to keep our hearts in check is to remember what we were i.e Eph 2:1-5 – we were objects of God’s wrath but God has mercy on us.

2.Do not put your hope in wealth –DO not put your trust in money but on the one who provides it. Multibillion dollar companies have folded up overnight. Where is your hope? Is it in your bank balance to bail you out in times of trouble? Or is it in the everlasting Lord?
Prov 11:28- the righteous thrive like a green leaf.

As Christians we often battle with our conscience with what should our attitude be and how should we handle wealth. One the extreme we have the poverty theology and on the other extreme we have the prosperity theology. The prosperity guys say name and claim it. The poverty guys say poverty is next to godliness. Which one do you prefer? J
In the Bible we have King Solomon who was the richest man and in contrast you have the widow with 2 mites, Jesus himself who had no place to rest his head, the Apostles who said :silver and gold have I none...”
V17b -So what is the balance? God provides richly for our enjoyment.

 The question is : are your spending habits putting you in debt? Do you have credit card debts?
Some questions to ask yourself?
  • ·        Have I been faithful to the Lord in my giving?
  • ·        Am I looking after my family and the poor in my extended family?
  • ·        Am I being generous to the poor?
  • We can spend and splurge on ourselves but can we spare a thought for the poor amongst us? in our churches, our community? God wants us to help the poor and the destitute starting with our family, church and community.

Are my spending habits God glorifying and helping advance the kingdom?

FOUR COMMANDS
1.    V18.  Do what is good Do use your wealth for good things i.e. to be rich in good deeds. Look at how you spent money in the last week. Was there an abundance of good deeds? As your income increases don’t just stretch your consumption but your giving as well.

2.    Be willing to share what you have. God has given everything for our enjoyment and when we leave this world we will leave everything behind.

3. V.19 be generous to the poor and the Kingdom of God. When we do this we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven and a firm foundation. The Bible says whatever we have given in secret the Father in heaven will reward us openly.

4. V17b Put your hope in God – Ps 50:9-11 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, 10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.

 Let us turn our eye to the Lord who have blessed us with everything good gift and ask the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts, our attitude toward money and possessions  that we might align our purses to His purposes bringing Him glory in all that we do. Have a great week!

Colin D Cruz


Monday, July 4, 2011

Sermon series on Money Matters




Summary of Colin's preaching on Sunday 3rd July


The Parable of the Rich Fool

 13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
   18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
   20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
   21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

“Watch out!!” – We have all heard this warning at some point in our lives. Now when Jesus says “watch out”, we’d better watch out.

While Jesus was engrossed in teaching things of spiritual consequences he is interrupted by a man who asks him to settle a family dispute over money.

In the context of money and possessions he tells us to watch out against all kinds of greed
v.15-  Jesus challenges the thinking of the time and goes against the grain of the culture. (He still does that) by making a startling statement: “A Man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”

v 16. – Jesus goes on to tell a parable. The man in the story is not a crook, he has not acquired his wealth through illegal means. This was honest gain from hard work – just like many of us he was a respectable member of society. His hard work was paying off.

V18.- However his abundance was posing a problem for him. The thought however did not occur to him that he could use his abundant wealth to bless others, to help the poor in own family or community, to pay his workers well, to give something to the synagogue where he worshipped. He was only thinking about himself.

V19. He gets an idea – to build bigger barns i.e hoarding for himself. He was selfish. This is the tragedy of wealth today. It’s interesting to note that Jesus spoke more on money and wealth than on heaven and hell. In fact 15% of what Jesus taught on was concerning money and wealth.

V19b- this man worked hard for his wealth and could say “I worked hard for it therefore I deserve to enjoy it”. How much is enough?

Eccel5:10- Whoever loves money never has enough...
Think about your life 10 years ago, what you had and what you have today. Are you not blessed? You will never be satisfied with wealth and possessions. Its like drinking salty water on a hot summers day.

Some hoard gold, some invest in stocks, others homes. God is not against saving. It‘s our attitude towards money he is interested in and how we use it. Our happiness is not determined by our possessions.
“I’ll be happy when......( you fill in the blanks) If you are thinking in this way ,”watch out”!
So what did this man do?

V18. - He thought to himself.. Four times he says “I” and three times he says “my” in one sentence. He had no thought for anyone else. He does not even mention his family. Watch how he speaks to himself. ( we need to watch how we speak to ourselves). In the eyes of the world he appears to be very successful and people would envy his problem. But what was Jesus evaluation of him and of us if we are like him?

V20. - “you fool”!!! James 4:13-14 what is your life? We need to submit our wealth to the Lord and ask him what He would have us do. It is a terrible thing to be called a fool by Jesus.
Jesus is not against saving and wealth – but what are you doing with it? Have you been rich toward God? What will we hold up before God when we meet home face to face?  Will it be our homes, new phone, gold, stocks, fancy car? Or things we have invested in for the Kingdom of God ?

Lev 27:30 – Giving our tithes is only the basic. It belongs to God anyway so you are not doing anything special. It’s like you are expected to pay your bill at a restaurant. You are not doing anything special and the owner will not specially thank you for doing so. When you give more than your tithe that’s when the giving starts.

Luke 11:12 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Are you rich toward God? Are we bring generous toward one another? Are we blessing the poor? Use the blessings God has given you.

Luke 12: 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.