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