Friday, December 21, 2012

Well begun is only half...

This message by Terry Virgo was preached at TOAM Bangalore 2012. This is a summary of the message.

2Chronicles 1:1
David had an amazing life. He fulfilled the purpose of God in his generation. And he was not on his own program or ambition but served God’s purpose in his life time. God has a purpose for each generation – that should be our ambition.
David did – he finished his course. But God’s purposes are not just wrapped up in one person’s life but the baton has to be passed on to the next generation. David passed on to Solomon.

David had several sons who may have felt that they were more qualified. Solomon is Bathsheba’s son – who probably should not have been even born. David was captivated by lust, he committed adultery and then to cover his sins he commits murder. Her husband was one of David’s mighty men, one of the 30 and David plots his murder.

So the background to Solomon’s history ought to disqualify him – he was born in lust and sin. BUT god chose him.

David says to Solomon ( 1 Cro. 28:10) “ The Lord has chosen you . Who God chooses is always a mystery. He does not choose the most qualified or the best scholars. He breaks the rule and chooses someone whose background is outrageous.

1Corinthians. Tells us that God chooses the foolish, weak , despised to shame the strong.He wants us to know this. He said to Peter, James , John , Andrew that they did not choose Him but He chose them. He chose them before the foundations of the world . Maybe you were not wanted, an unplanned pregnancy etc. Parents reject children saying terrible things. Solomon could have been like that. But David says “ The Lord  has chosen you” Do you consider this? God has called you “.. to build a house for the Lord”. In the N.T it is the church. AS David’s life is fading this is his charge to Solomon.

So Solomon establishes himself as King and sits on the throne. 1King 2::46. How did he establish himself? There were other who wanted the throne viz.  Adonijah– even before David died he plotted to take over. Shemeia  too. Solomon had them killed – he seems ruthless. He put other claims to death so that God’s purposes would be established. God has chosen you so you better put  other things to death – things that rival the place of God in your life. You have one life and if God has chosen you , you want to be careful how you live. He has created you for a purpose.

Eph 2:10  This gives your life immense value. He as his eye on you. So put to death anything that wants to reign in your life . Rom 8. Col 3 You have died and have been raised to life.
Jesus said to be ruthless with sin. If we allow it to grow it will dominate our secret world. By the Holy Spirit power you can put to death. Solomon establishes himself.

Jesus said to men who wanted to follow him, “follow me” and he told them “ let the dead bury the dead” God maybe calling you and there is opposition from your family. You have to be ruthless. Heb12 Put aside everything that hinders.

Solomon decided to build a house to the name of the Lord.
The NASB translation says “decided”, (ESV) supposed, KJV – “determined”, NIV “gave orders”.
The Hebrew word is “he said” which means he said to himself. He made a choice, and then did it. It’s a big decision he made. Making choices is how you build the Christian life because you often come to a fork in the road.
Giving ourselves to God is somewhat alien these days. Today people are less decisive. Even in marriage – people don’t marry, they just move in because they don’t want to decide or commit. They want to keep their options open. Solomon did not keep his options open. He decided to do it.
The bible is full of people who had a vision. Abraham lived in Ur and then God shows him a bigger vision and he is captivated by it.
Some of you have done that because you were captivated by a bigger vision i.e the house of God.

2 Chro3:1
Solomon begins to build the house of God. This is another step. It’s great to have a vision but  you have to have move on. Solomon begins to build . Verse 2 gives you a date i.e 2nd day of the 2nd month of the 4th year. Verse 3 – He laid the foundations and the measurements are given.
When you begin to build dates come along. Dreams have no dates. When you move beyond dreams you have dates. On the back of dates are measurements. When you start building you have to do the boring stuff – but the dream fuels you. If you don’t move into details nothing will happen.

Nehemiah heard Jerusalem was in ruined with the gates ruined. Zion was in shambles, no longer the joy of the whole earth. Nehemiah mourns this, In Neh 2 he emerges like a bull – unstoppable. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. He did not form a committee or opinion poll – he decided to rebuild.

Bible and church history turns on men and women like this – they have a vision and cat on it. Nehemiah had not told anyone yet as he surveyed the place. Then he begins to build. Then the trouble starts. That the difference between a dreamer and a builder. When you build you get into a battle, opposition begins. Nehemiah was not a famous soldier but he realized that not only do you need a trowel but you need a sword as well. He had to commit himself to the measurements. We need builders who are committed. When you commit, things start to go wrong, but you have to press through.

At first they mocked him – it seems like careless comments – but they are vicious attacks. The weapons of mockery are very powerful because it brings shame on us.
Then they question his motives – Nehemiah’s heart broke for Zion but they used the cheap weapon and sometime people will question our motives. Some of us lived with for decades. It is a powerful and painful weapon.
“Should such a man as I?” – what did he mean> He meant he had been called. That’s what holds you i.e whether you are in or out – God has called you. You come through disappointments.
Some of his friends try to slow him down – there is disloyalty in the ranks. But he kept on building. Solomon kept building.

You so need to build your own life up in the most holy faith. You need to learn your Bible , not to impress God ( Jesus had already done that ) . When we really care, we start learning. Are you building up your prayer life – in order to release the power ? It  is easy to give up on prayer. So we need to teach ourselves how to engage with the Spirit.

Ed Cole Some think maturity comes with age. No, only growing  old comes with age. Maturity come s with taking responsibility”

2Chro5:1 Thus the work is finished. He completed what he set himself to do. Many start but they don’t finish. Be careful – lets finish what we start. What have you started? Many people’s tool sheds and garages are full of unfinished projects. From those of us who go into the ministry 40 years ago, only 10 % are left!

Reasons why people don’t finish

Discouragement, battle of faith, distracted like Demas , Satan’s attacks, defiled conscience ( 1Tim1:19) the Titanic had several warnings about the iceberg and the Captain ignored the warnings because he wanted  the Atlantic Crossing Record to be his. Some people ignore their consciences and shipwreck their faith.

God wants us to keep running and finish what he wants us to do.
Solomon finished building the temple but Solomon did not finish his life well. He married many foreign women.
But there is one greater than Solmon who said “ I will build my church “ He had Judas, Simon Peter on his team. On the cross he cried out “ It is finished”. He knew that was his task – this is my meat to do the will of him who sent me – to finish”
John 17 Father I have glorified you.

What has God called you to, do you have a vision? Let’s finish well.

Word of Grace Church is a spirit filled (charismatic), evangelical  ( Born- again) English speaking church that preaches from the Bible as God's inspired Word of 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. 

Friday, December 14, 2012


 This is a summary of a message preached by Stanley Mehta  at TOAM 2012 Bangalore.

To expand the frontiers there needs to be a change in our minds. It’s not business as usual. God does not change – we need to change. We need to put on a new set of boundaries for change.

Our god is interested about the other side. We are concerned about our church, our community etc. God is interested about the other side.

Mark 4:35-37
We need to move where God wants us to move.
The disciples are on the west side of Galilee where they have had success in the ministry. The ‘other side” i.e  Gerasenes.– a place where 7 evil Canaanite nations were once there . Therefore the Jews did not want to go but Jesus has a concern for those on the other side.
Jesus cared for us and he left heaven to come to us.
1     Jesus had a concern for those on the other side viz other world – Jon 3:16
Other town - Mk 1:35-38, other sheep – John 10:16, other side, Mk 4:1034

After the conference we will begin to connect with the other side.
2     But there is an enemy that will try and prevent us. Mk 4:37 A storm arose. The disciples were not happy . Whenever we begin missions there is opposition that wants us to stay where we are and prevent us from going into mission. Anti conversion Bill are passed, ungodly management of Christian organizations, health, circumstances etc. There are external storms and some internal storms. We have many excuses why we should not go to the other side.

3.     What was on the other side? Chapter 5 A man is afflicted with a legion of demons (12,000) He was in bondage to sin and Satan controlled him by wrong desires and an unclean spirit. He was demonized, violent, enslaved and helpless. Not only that, this community don’t want Jesus. This is not a glamorous place. Jesus heals him and the man wants to join Jesus but says “No”. We want to stay in the comfort zone. We would want to take this man and disciple him. But Jesus tells him to stay. What does he have? Only his testimony. Later when Jesus returned to that town people came from all over and Jesus feeds the 4000.How did this happen? One man’s testimony did it. If you are the only Christian in your company God can use you there.
The disciples were learning something – 12 baskets, 7 baskets symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel and 7 Canaanite nations. He is the Lord of the Jews and the Gentiles.

No matter how big the problem you can do it when God is with you. You may not see the fruit immediately. Here is a story of how one man and women were willing to go to the other side , the storms they had to face and the fruit that was borne. ( Bloggers Note:It is a little long reading but don't let that stop you- allow it to stir faith in your heart for your situation)

 Here is a story of a missionary couple 
David and Svea Flood
In 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son David, from Sweden to the heart of Africa—to what was then called the Belgian Congo.
This was a huge step of faith. At the remote village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his village for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts.
They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. Their only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood — a tiny woman decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, after many weeks of loving and witnessing to him, he trusted Christ as his Savior.
Meanwhile, malaria continued to strike one member of the little band after another. Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth (1923), the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina (A-ee-nah).

The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. After seventeen desperate days of prayer and struggle, she died.
Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. His heart full of bitterness, he dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife and took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he said, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With two year old David, he headed for the coast, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself.

Within eight months both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious illness and died within days of each other. The nine month old baby Aina was given to an American missionary couple named Berg, who adjusted her Swedish name to “Aggie” and eventually brought her back to the United States at age three.

 And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota. As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible college in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young preacher named Dewey Hurst.

Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.

One day around 1963, a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who sent it, and of course she couldn’t read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting in the heart of Africa was a grave with a white cross and on the cross was her mother’s name, SVEA FLOOD.

Aggie jumped in her car and drove straight to a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. “What does this say?” she asked.

The instructor translated the story:

It tells about missionaries who went to N’dolera in the heart of the Belgian Congo in 1921… the birth of a white baby girl… the death of the young missionary mother… the one little African boy who had been led to Christ… and how, after the all whites had left, the little African boy grew up and persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village.

The article told how that gradually the now grown up boy won all his students to Christ… the children led their parents to Christ… even the chief had become a Christian. Today (1963) there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village.

Because of the willingness of David and Svea Flood to answer God’s call to Africa, because they endured so much but were still faithful to witness and lead one little boy to trust Jesus, God had saved six hundred people. And the little boy, as a grown man, became head of the Pentacostal Church and leader of 110,000 Christians in Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo).

At the time Svea Flood died, it appeared, to human reason, that God had led the young couple to Africa, only to desert them in their time of deepest need. It would be forty years before God’s amazing grace and His real plan for the village of N’dolera would be known.

For Rev. Dewey and Aggie Hurst’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie met her biological father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God because God took everything from me.”

After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. “You can talk to him,” they replied, “even though he’s very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.”

Aggie could not be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed.

“Papa?” she said tentatively.

He turned and began to cry. “Aina,” he said, “I never meant to give you away.”

“It’s all right Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.”

The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped.
 “God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.
 Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted.
 “Papa, I’ve got a little story to tell you, and it’s a true one.
 You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain.

The little boy you both won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today (about 1964) there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you and Momma were faithful to the call of God on your life.”

“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.”

The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.

Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America—and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.

A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England, where a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going up afterward to ask him if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood. “I am their daughter.”

The man began to weep. “Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English.

“It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.”

He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, “You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history.”

In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who so many years before, when she was less than a month old, had been hired by her father to carry her down the mountain in a soft bark hammock.

The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s grave, marked with a white cross, for herself. She knelt in the soil of Africa, the place of her birth, to pray and give thanks. Later that day, in the church service, the pastor read from John 12:24:

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

He then followed with Psalm 126:5: “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
An excerpt from Aggie Hurst, Aggie: The Inspiring Story of A Girl Without A Country [Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1986].) You can read a fulleraccount by clicking here

Some of us claim the promises without fulfilling the conditions. God is with us as we go. Maybe its another part of your town, or another town, city or even country. Would you be willing to go?
God has a concern for the other side.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why the Shepherds?

 This message  was preached by Colin D Cruz at Word of Grace Church on the 9th of Dec 2012. This is a summary of the message. You can download or hear the audio message by clicking here.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. A miraculous birth to a virgin – “ An infinite God becomes an infant” Charles Spurgeon.

 TEXT :Luke 2:1-8

Verse1 During the time of Jesus birth the Jews were under Roman occupation.  Roma was a super nation that had conquered many nations. Ceaser Augustus Octavian was ruling. Rome had built an excellent road system so that their army could reach any corner of the empire in a few days.

For hundreds of years prophets in Israel had prophesied about the Messiah, the anointed one who would rule Israel and who would deliver them. Genesis 49:10 “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.Jacob blesses his son and he and prophecies about the Messiah in verse 10. This is a big promise not just for Israel but the nations of the world. The prophets all spoke about the Messiah. 

The revelation was progressive.
Micah 5:2But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans  of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
 Micah tells us more about where the messiah would be born. We get another clue here – that he would be born in Bethlehem.

2Sam 7:16 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[a]; your throne will be established forever.’”your house will \endure forever – throne  established forever. We know he comes from the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem and from David’s lineage.
Israel was under bondage for many years. The hearts cry of the Israelite was for deliverance.

Luke 2:1 Israel is under Roman rule. A few months earlier an angel appeared to Mary in a little town called Nazareth. But for the prophecy to be fulfilled the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem. So God allows the rulers to ask for a census to be taken and each one had to go back to their home towns to register. That’s how Joseph and Mary move to Bethlehem.

What can we learn from this?
We see a Sovereign God at work orchestrating all for history to fulfill his story. God is in control and he controls the hearts of Kings as well.
Now there is no room in the inn. Even that was a part of God’s plan.
Verse 4-“ the town of David” Joseph belonged to the line of David.
Verse7 – The creator of the world was born out of public gaze and was born in a stable. Can you imagine the Lord of the universe humbled himself to be cradled in an animal feeding trough? Phil 2 tells us what the Messiah was like.
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Inn – in those days there were no fancy restaurants or hotels. Inns were probably a spare room that a family would rent out to travelers. Because of the census the town was overflowing with people and there were no more rooms. The Inn keeper probably allowed them to camp in his courtyard near the stables.
Imagine the scene today when famous people are expecting a baby there is so much fanfare and glitz around the event! People speculate and bet on the date of the birth f the child, the sex of the child etc. 

But when the king of kings was born it was a low profile thing. What did God do?
He did not tell the High priest or the Senhadiran, or the rich and famous,  Caesar Augustus. God chose a very different lot of people to share this news with – the Shepherds. They were usually out in the fields – they did not have the time to attend the synagogue regularly. They were considered as vagabonds, a thieving community, and liars not to be trusted. They were the social outcasts. But God chose to them to be the first recipients of the good news.

2 What do we learn from this? God is not looking for the who’s who, the high and mighty ! 1Cor 1:26-27.   Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. This is the criteria that God uses to choose people (there are a few exceptions). God chooses the nobodies and the ordinary people of this world. Nobody gets chosen because he is intelligent, good looking or brilliant but is the grace and mercy of God that you and I are chosen. Many religions tell you to attain knowledge or purity to be accepted by God. But Jesus chooses the nobodies so that He gets the glory!

3 . Verse 8 The Shepherds were in the field and an angel comes to them. We picture angels as cute little creatures but actually they are big fearsome and awesome creatures. They always had to tell people not to be afraid of them. And it was angels such as these that announced the birth of Jesus.
Usually one or two angles would be sent to the earth to do God’s bidding. But when it came to announcing the birth of Jesus, we are told that an entire host of angels filled the skies and sang. There was an angelic choir. It must have sounded heavenly! They put on such a show for these ordinary Shepherds. The Shepherds had such a supernatural encounter that they believed the message and went looking for this baby.  Today do you believe the message?

Verse 16 They hurried off! I wonder what time of the night it was. Verse 16 again mentions that he was “lying in a manger”. This is the third mention. After the shepherds worshiped Jesus, they went and shared the good news.
What do we learn from this? This good news is to be shared. It is too good to be kept. This is the good news. God became a man to save the human race from sin. He brings peace and it comes when we acknowledge we are sinners and put our faith in Him.

They spread the word. Today I want to challenge you to spread the word like the Shepherds. There is a dying world out there. Good news is not good news if it is bottled up. Will you be like the Shepherds? We need to make this a life style. We need to see people are walking in their way to hell.
The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. If we spend time praising God, the evangelistic fervor in our hearts will not die.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost!

Let this Christmas be different – lets gossip the gospel! Look for opportunities. I want to remind you of the couple in Hong Kong. Every year they lead 40 people to the Lord and they planted 5 churches. When they went to China to a city of 20 million people! They kept sharing the gospel and in 10 years 2 million people were baptized. It’s the same God. If He can do it in China, he can do it here. We just need to do what the Shepherds did – glorify God and share the good news!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Heart of the matter

Is knowledge of the word the most important thing in a Christian's life? Listen to Colin share his heart on the Great Commission.

Click on the link below to listen and /or download in mp3 format.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nothing in the city !!

 This message was preached by Terry Virgo at TOAM 2012 Bangalore.This is a summary of his message.

Revival is a fascinating topic. It never goes to plan. There are highs and lows and suddenly God breaks through. The Old Testament is like that – deep troughs and then God raises Samuel. The Bible is a story of how God breaks through. We then have David. The Bible is about God’s breakthroughs.
Our individual lives are about God breaking through – if we don’t know God like that you‘ll be in trouble.

 TEXT: 2 Kings 7:1-9 
The Israelite s were besieged . There is no way out and Israel thought that they were finished. They appeal to Elijah and he prophecies victory. But some don’t believe it.
How do you break out of a city under siege?

Four people with leprosy were out of the city. They were ceremoniously unclean so people would pass them food over the city wall. (probably lowered in a basket )But now there is a famine and there is no food in the city, therefore no food has come to them as well. They thought that they would die and so thought of throwing themselves at the mercy of the enemy. They were going to die anyway. There was nothing else to live for. What amazing power there is in a person who has nothing else to live for. They have no other agenda.

When God calls we have so many agendas. These guys were amazingly free because they were ‘dead’ anyway. This is when the story turns around.
This is the mark of the early church as well - they had nothing else to live for. Paul had no regard for his life- he gloried in the cross by which the world was crucified to him and he was crucified to the world. 2 Cor. 5 if one died for all therefore all died.

The whole story turns on these four guys who had no alternative. Do you have other alternatives? These guys were free. So many stories turn in history because they had an encounter with Jesus. They realized that there is nothing in the city – there is a famine. The world has nothing to offer – there is no hope- It’s bankrupt.
Hebrews says Jesus suffered outside the gate so let’s go outside the camp bearing his reproach.

God wants to start a story in your life. You can know religion but to know God who can turn things on it head is another story.

Moses is leading two million people and suddenly they come to the Red Sea and God parts it and they are safe and the Egyptians are thwarted and forever they sing and celebrate the Passover.
God acts on behalf of his people eg) Joshua and Jericho, David and Goliath and in a moment a nation of losers and becomes a nation of winners! God intervened! 2Chro20 The Bible is full of such stories where God fights the battle and the people don’t have to do much.

Jesus on the cross was being mocked and taunted and it looks like a total failure. And then on the resurrection morning Mary comes expecting to see the guards but he is not here. HE is alive! He turned it around!

So the lepers go into the camp and find gold, silver, wine, food etc. You think you’ll meet an enemy but you meet amazing provision.

What are the spoils? Jesus said “I will share the spoils with the strong. Spoils are what you win in a battle. Everything that belonged to the enemy now becomes yours. The Bible refers to many spoils Is 9:3c “When diving the spoils” its happy time- like when you share a harvest. How do we relate to this in the 21st century?

2 Chro. 20 –It took 3 days to gather the spoils. It came with the victory – it’s all free.
Do we realize what we have got because of Jesus’ victory? Jesus has covered us with his righteousness and it’s all free. You may think that the point of this message is “it’s time to go and tell”. That is ok but some don’t realize how much they have got. They don’t realize they have the righteous of Jesus and how BIG that is! He perfected us for all time, once and for all. We feel we are still wicked. But Jeremiah says that we have been given a new heart!

Have you seen everything Jesus has done for you? We can throw off the old things and have everything in Christ for free.
The story turned on four guys who had no other agenda. Do you have another agenda? We have something to tell the world for it is empty and in a state of famine. There is nothing there for us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Discipleship = Imitators = Building the Church

 This  is a summary of a message that was preached by Terry Virgo at the HUB Conference in Dubai in Nov 2012.  
To listen to this message please click here

 TEXT :1 Thess. 1:2-8
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.4 For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

This is a key church that Paul caries in his heart. Jesus said “go and make disciples “The apostles instinctively planted churches i.e they built communities. This is God’s way. This has sadly been forgotten but there is a restoration of this movement.

V7. You received the word – Luke records “the word multiplies” in Acts. How do they record it? – Becoming imitator of ‘us’- (v.6) receiving the word that was preached. The word was accompanied by power and when their life style changed, he knew they were transformed.

Jesus washed the feet the disciples and then tells them to do the same. Discipleship was the key – so that they could see him. God changes life in this way, as people see, they imitate and are transformed (1Jn1:2)
John who was the son of thunder becomes an apostle of love- how? Because he encountered a life, and became an imitator.

Disciples are imitators, apprentices. Imitate in the Bible is never negative. A disciple needs a demonstration of how to live as a son. You know that people are following when they imitate the life style.

Children learn by imitation. Our view of a father is so wrecked that our whole world view is spoiled. (Rom1:26) Their minds are futile but when they get saved they have to be delivered from a whole world view and learn a new life style- they get born again in the church and then they imitate the life style. Who are elders? They are exemplary Christians who are worthy of imitation.

Then there is the joy in the Holy Spirit that comes upon them as well. So there is a model and an energy force too. The early church looked like a group of drunks – it was the joy of the Holy Spirit that made them very happy – but it did not free them from the storms. It’s heaven coming down into us to empower us. Eph 5:15- therefore we have to be careful, be wise because the days are evil – therefore he says be filled with the Holy Spirit. Is that the answer? Yes it’s the way you do it and cope and more than just cope!

That’s why Paul in Philippians could praise God in the prison He knew it’s the way you win the battle. People get drunk because they can’t handle life – either its tough or its boring. Drunkenness – escaping reality.
Filled with the spirit – empowering – the love of God is poured out in your heart. Discipleship takes place in a church context not in a school.

Verse 9 They become spontaneous – there was a change in life as a result of repentance. Paul lives in a generation clogged up with idolatry. Israel was delivered from Egypt. At Mt. Sinai God declared a covenant with two million people and they all heard God speak! God called them His special treasure and he sets out the deal – he gives them the 10 Commandments. He tells them not to have idols or any other Gods.  Exodus 34:14 God calls himself Jealous! We think its an ugly word. This jealousy has nothing to do with the ugly things we associate it with. Jealousy – its focused. He is for us and desires our love.
Tragically that was not the case. Israel went after other Gods. Many people have many idols in their lives.

If not for the joy of the Holy Spirit, being a disciple of Jesus can become full of compulsions. The man who found the pearl of great price – he did it out of joy not because he had to. He gave up everything with joy.
You turn from idols to serve the living God and to wait for the Son from heaven. Therefore we are serving and waiting.

Serving – we can accomplish much while waiting for the perfect to come. We do both. Jesus gave himself up for a people with a burning desire to do good works. Paul worked hard. Every Epistle ends with the return of Jesus. That is the ‘waiting’. “Working and waiting belong together”- Stott
Our over realized eschatology says we have it now. No! We are working and waiting. In the waiting – there is hostility, persecution etc. So have the joy of the Holy Spirit to keep you going.

Verse 8 – From you has sounded out the word in every place. This is beginning to happen to us as a movement. God is gathering a people from everywhere!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gospel Relevance - going wide, high and deep

The message was preached by Stephen Van Rhyn at THE HUB Conference , Dubai. This is a summary of the sermon.
You can listen to this message by clicking here.

The gospel is relevant in our  lives even as we are being called to go higher and wider.  However it is important, that we go deeper . We need to dig deep foundations.

TEXT:2 Cor. 1: 9-11 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

  1. 1     Gospel Honesty- Paul planted this church- he saw people being saved and a community established. He wrote letters to them to help them grow to maturity therefore the letters are full of correction, calling them to a kingdom lifestyle.

A new breed of leaders was emerging who were calling themselves Apostles and they didn’t thing that Paul was very great! So now Paul is defending himself but in a different way. Paul doesn’t talk big about himself – in fact he tells them that he is even weaker than they think he is!! The world tells you to air brush all your weakness but Paul wants to inform and draw attention to his weakness. Paul understood that the gospel changes everything and flips everything – it makes us realize that before a holy God we are bankrupt. The gospel released Paul from any pretence and tells the truth like it is. He did not have to prove himself. This releases us from being driven and competitive. God is for each one of us no matter who and where we are from. Once you know that, it will release you to Gospel Honesty.

   2.Gospel Focus: Gospel honesty will release you to gospel focus. What Paul was doing was intentionally undermining the super pastor model that was distorting the biblical view of leadership.
Followers of Christ are not supposed to be jockeying for leadership and position. Leaders point to who God is and to present Christ to a broken world. It’s servant leadership. Mark1 John the Baptist pointed to Jesus.

3 Gospel Bearer: Too many Christians are being deceived into the prosperity gospel. 2Cor1 is a picture of God bigger than that and more.  In 2 Cor 1:10- there is  pretty bad stuff happening there.
Paul explained the redemptive purpose of the hardships he faced. Too many people bail out when they are going through rough weather. That is why Paul could write Rom 8:28 “… all things God works together for our good” i.e all the bad things will be worked out for our good – even the worst things.

4.Gospel Partnership – verse 11. Their advance was vitally connected to the prayers of the Corinthian church. Ch 10:15-16.
The gospel should not lead you to a position of isolation but of partnership because you realize you need help. The gospel should lead us into partnership because we need to go to the ends of the earth.

5. Gospel Power – The redemptive purpose of all that happened is to depend on the power of God. If you think about the gospel, the problem is not our weakness but our strength. With God weakness is never a problem. Its when we think we are something and when we rely on ourselves that we grieve the Holy Spirit. Ps. 127 – unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers  labour in vain.
With the Lord we can advance. Jer 17:5-8
This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

Cursed is the man who depends upon himself – when we do that we block God out.
Lets dig deep foundations on Christ alone.