Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What is your SHAPE?

This message was preached at Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the 22nd of April 2012. You can listen or download  to the Audio recording ( in mp3 format ) of the message by clicking here

Well, today we’re continuing our 40 Days of Purpose, and we’re in the process of discovering why we ARE here! – that God has a Purpose for your life, and you don’t have to go through life lost, uninformed, or wondering.   For those who may be visitors or guests here today, so far we have looked at the first three Purposes which God has for our lives: What are they? WORSHIP- You discovered Three of God’s Purposes for our lives.  First- is WORSHIP – that you were planned for God’s Pleasure. Then  FELLOWSHIP – You were Formed for God’s Family. Thirdly, -DISCIPLESHIP – You were Created to become like Christ, and today were going to look at God’s fourth purpose for your life,- and its written  there on the top of your outline…you were Shaped to Serve God.  Elvis felt like he was here to do something, - but he just couldn’t quite figure it out! 

   On 16th August , 1977 Elvis Presley, at  the age of  42. died of obesity and drug dependency. In spite of his enormous success- Elvis was, according to friends, an unfulfilled and unhappy man.  When his wife, Priscilla, was interviewed, she said: “Elvis never came to terms with who he was meant to be or what his purpose in life was.  He thought he was here for a reason, maybe to preach, maybe to serve, maybe to save, maybe to care for people.  That agonizing desire was always with him and he knew he wasn’t fulfilling it.  So he’d go on stage and he wouldn’t have to think about it.”      How tragic to go through life and not know what you were here for.

The Bible says,in Eph. 2:10, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. 

God made you to make a difference – to DO good works, - and what matters is not how long you live, but how you live.  The Bible says we’re created to serve, we’re saved to serve, we’re gifted to serve, and we’re shaped to serve.     Now whenever God gives us an assignment to do something, He always equips us first. And in the next verse Job says, “Your hands shaped me and made me.” (Job 10:8).  God uses five things to shape you – to equip you personally for Service. –

SPIRITUAL GIFTS
God gives every believer gifts to use in ministry. Not earned or deserved.
Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others. 1 Cor 12:7
If others don’t use their gifts you get cheated, and if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated.
An unopened gift is worthless. We need to find out what our gift is and then use it.
HEART – passion
Heart – bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams and affections you have.
As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person. Pro 27;19
Physically – unique heartbeat. We also  have a unique emotional heartbeat.  That races when we thing about subjects, activities or circumstances that interest us. Passion
Serve the Lord with all your heart…
Enthuisasm + Effectiveness
ABILITIES
Natural talents you were born with Ex 31:3-5 skill abilities andknowledge
All our abilities come from God.
 The brain can store 1 trillion facts. Mind 15000 decisions a second (digestive system)
Nose can smell upto 10000 odors. Bundle of incredible abilities an amazing creation of God
1 cor 10 : 31 whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.
PERSONALITY
Introvert extrovert
Thinkers feelers
Sanguine – Peter, Paul choleric , Jeremiah melancholy

EXPERIENCES
Family
Educational
Vocational – jobs
Spiritual
Ministry
Painful
Greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.
Your Spiritual gifts, your Heart interests, your personal AbilitiesPersonality, and even theExperiences you’ve been through.  That spells ‘SHAPE’.  Through those five things God has uniquely made you and shapes you, for a purpose.  And that purpose is identified clearly in the next verse. –where  its says  - 1Pet. 4:10, “Each of us should use whatever gift he’s received to Serve others!  Your talents are not for your own benefit.  Do you remember the first line in the Purpose Driven Life book?  “It’s not about you.”  He gave you gifts and talents and abilities and background and experiences and all these things for the benefit of other people, to be used for serving others. 

            So write this down, “My fourth purpose in life is to serve God by serving others.” That’s why you’re alive.  The only way you can serve God is by serving others, in the same way that the only way we can love God is through loving others. 

Now the Bible has a word for this, it’s called “ministry”.   And my prayer is that God is going to be saying something to you in your heart today about your ministry.  Any time you use your talent to help somebody else, you are ministering.   And this is God’s fourth purpose for your life. 

Now the good news is that God not only created us for service, He also gave us a model.    in the form of His Son, the perfect man, Jesus Christ, and He said, “This is what I want you to do with your life”.  This last week you have been learning about Discipleship – that You were created to become  like Christ,-  and what did Christ do , while He was here on earth?  He served, didn’t He?  .  Notice the next verse.: Matt. 20:28Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

            Now what does it take to learn to serve like Jesus?  Well it takes three things. 
Number one, (write this down.)  Serving like Jesus means firstly, being AVAILABLE
 One day Jesus was walking down in Jericho and some blind men start yelling at him.  And the Bible says (Matt. 20:30-32): “Two blind men shouted ‘Lord, have mercy on us! Jesus stopped and called them.  ‘What do you want me to do for you?’.” 

And what did Jesus do? --   Jesus stopped!   If you want to be used by God, if you want to serve God, you must be willing to be interrupted. I find this a hard lesson to learn, because generally, when Im doing something I don’t like to be interrupted. But most of Jesus’ ministry and most of Jesus’ miracles were interruptions, weren’t they?  I had never realized this before, but all the people Jesus healed – the blind man, the lame man, the sick people, the paralyzed man, the dead child – all of them were interruptions.    A  lot of us say “I’d like God to use me more.  I’d like His power in my life., ..but it seldom seems to happen ?  Perhaps the reason is that we’re not willing for God to interrupt us in our schedule.

Ill. David sent to 1 Sam 17:17, Joseph Gen 40

Well there are  three common barriers  that keep us from being available to God.? 

Number one:is  self-centeredness.  The Bible says, Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4) Whenever you see a need right in front of you and it’s really obvious that somebody needs your help, right there and then God is giving you the opportunity to practice serving - to learn to be available, to be like more Jesus Christ.  Real servants have only one agenda – and that is to serve God through serving others. Let’s remember that as Christ-followers   - we are all in the Service industry. – serving others.
second barrier to being used by God…is perfectionism.    -  wanting every thing to be perfect.  When I’m not so busy, when things settle down, then I’ll serve.”  Let’s read Eccl. 11:4: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”   Real servants do the best they can, give what they can, with what they have, for Jesus Christ today.  They don’t wait until some perfect time  - for that time never comes.  We all have weaknesses.  We all have faults.  We all have failures.    But guess what?  God uses us all.  Why?  Because there aren’t any  perfect people. God uses ordinary people.  We have seen that in the 40 Days of Purpose as nearly 25 or so ordinary people opened up their homes as hosts.  And 250 or more people are being blessed.  Why?  Because normal, ordinary, average people said, “My house isn’t perfect, and I’m not perfect.  I don’t perfectly know the Bible, but I could do this!”  And you could!  And you did.  And God is blessing it.  So God says, “Don’t wait for perfectconditions.”  Don’t wait for things to settle down. As long as you are alive there will be stress, strife, trouble can challenges. Go ahead and start serving.  

Number three:is  materialism.  Materialism is the third barrier that keeps us from being available to serve.  Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters.  You cannot serve both God and money.” (Lk. 16:13).  Now would you notice the word “cannot”?  He didn’t say, “You shouldn’t  serve both God and money.”  He said, “You cannot serve both God and money.” You’ve got to decide, really, whether you want to be rich or whether you want to be blessed.  You have to ask yourself - “What’s number one priority in my life?”  If God wants to give you wealth, that’s great - but it is not the number one goal of your life.  You cant take your wealth with you to heaven, but you will take your character
            So in our main topic headings  - Serving like Jesus means (1)  BEING AVAILABLE.
(2) Serving like Jesus means BEING GRATEFUL.   The Bible tells us a story in John Chapter 11 of Jesus serving in an incredible way.  His friend Lazarus had died, and Jesus went there,- some people thought, for the funeral, but Jesus had a different idea in mind.  He went there to serve, - to raise Lazarus from the dead.  The Bible tells us in John 11:41-42, “Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You heard me.  I know that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here.’”  “I want them to know that I am grateful that you heard Me”. 

Jesus had an attitude of gratefulness in everything that He did.  That was the attitude that pervaded His ministry.  His Ministry and miracles always happened in this attitude of gratefulness.  So why should we serve God, not with a sense of duty, but with a sense of delight and gratefulness?  Well its because He’s given us new life through Jesus Christ!  And if He never did anything else for us, that alone is good enough reason to serve Him and  to be grateful for the rest of our lives.  In 2 Tim. 1:9: Paul says  “who saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace..” He saved us, and out of the gratefulness of that, of what He has done for us, we serve Him. 

Now, as we might expect, there are some barriers that get in the way of our being Grateful. One of these barriers is when we are  comparing and criticizing. ( fill in the blanks!)  Those are barriers  that gets in the way of being grateful. Give two children a bag of lollies each and the first thing they will do is compare what they have with what the other has, and then criticize the giver!  And adults do that in life, too.   But why should we do that? We’re all on the same team.  We have the same goal!  God has given each of us different abilities, different tasks - and it’s  pretty ridiculous really to compare or criticize one another for what God has given.   Comparing and criticizing get in the way of gratefulness. 

The second barrier that gets in the way of being grateful is wrong motives.
The Bible talks about this in Matt. 6:1. Jesus said, “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off.  If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven”.  A lot of our service can be done with very mixed motives. We might serve in order  to get others to like us. We might serve to be admired.  Or maybe we even serve as sort of a bargaining chip with God. “God, I’ll serve and You take care of me here.”  How do you know if you have a wrong motivation?  The answer is whether you are serving with a true sense of  Gratitude. When you lose a sense of gratefulness and gratitude then you can know right away that there’s something wrong with your motivation.

            If you want to learn to serve like Jesus, you have to learn to a) Be Available; and b) Be Grateful. And then there’s a third thing.
 Serving like Jesus means  c) being faithful.  That means you don’t give up.  You keep on going.  You don’t quit in the middle of your assignment.  At the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, Jesus said - in John 17:4,-“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work,”Note the words -  “completing the work”, “that You gave me to do.”  I want to be able to say that when I get to heaven – that I completed the work God gave me to do! I want you to be able to say that too !  Jesus was faithful in fulfilling His service.  He didn’t give up.  He didn’t give in. You may retire from your job someday, but you never retire from ministry.  You never retire from service.

So what motivates us to keep on going?  The Bible says, (1Cor. 4:2) “The one thing required of servants is that they be faithful.”  What motivates us to stay faithful in serving God over the long haul?  Well, there are a number of things which keep us going.   Being grateful for all the past that God’s forgiven in our lives,  is one thing. We also know that what we’re doing really matters.  Most of what we do in life doesn’t matter.  But any time you’re serving in Jesus’ name, no matter how small, it matters.  The Bible says this in 1Cor. 15:58, (let’s read it,) Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  Notice “nothing”: - that means it all matters, even the little stuff. Why?  Because in God’s book, there is no little stuff!  .    Jesus  said, “Even if you give a cup of cold water in my name to a child,--  that counts.” 
Significance and prominence
            Some years ago two teenage boys tried to come into an evening  church service , only it was packed out, and they couldn’t find any seats.  So they turned around and decided to leave because they couldn’t find a seat.  But one usher said, “Come on, guys.  I’ll find you a seat.” And that usher personally escorted them down to the center and set them in the middle and found them two seats.  That night both of those boys accepted Christ and became Christians. One of them was Billy Graham who has now led millions of people to Christ.  Do you think that usher is going to get any credit in heaven?  We have no idea of the significance of small acts.    It doesn’t matter if you’re doing something important that is well known or if you’re doing something important that’s not well known.  It’s all important.    God brought you here to this church so that you could practice  serving – because in serving God and in serving others – you are going to find fulfillment in your life.     The best use of your life is to invest it in that which is going to outlast it. 

One day you’re going to stand before God and He’s going to say to you, “What did you do with the life I gave you?  Will you be able to reply – “I did what you made me for – I fulfilled the purposes you created me for.!”   And God will say (Matt. 25:21). “Well done good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things so; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.”  You know, more than anything else, I want God to be able to say that about you –“Well done!  You did what I put you here on earth to do!.  You worshiped me, you fellowshipped with other believers, you grew in character to be like Christ, and you served Me, the way I shaped you.  Well done!  Come on in and enjoy eternity and all the rewards I’ve planned for you.”     I want God to be able to say that about you, because you were shaped for serving God.   Let’s bow our heads.  Would you pray this? 

Colin D Cruz
April 2012


Monday, April 16, 2012

Do you know ?


This message was preached at Word of Grace church  by Ranjit Roderigues on the 15th of April 2012. You can listen or download  to the Audio recording ( in mp3 format ) of the message by clicking here

Text :Romans 2:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

As followers of Jesus these three words are very important: “and we know”. The Christian life is largely  is a matter of responding to something that Jesus has first done for you. eg) “you did not choose me but I choose you...”. Jesus has justified us by faith , so we respond by leading holy lives for Him.

So we respond by living a holy life. You can spend a life time reading the Bible and yet never fully understand all that Jesus had done for you. How do Christians fall into temptation, why are they weak? This is because we do not know who we are in Christ and all that God has done for us.

Train yourself to feed yourself on all the things the Bible has told you, you are. There are riches and treasures untold there. Those who feed on the promises of God never become obese.

There are 5 things in this passage that we will look at.

1. And we know – what do we know? We know that God is at work in our lives He is shaping you to become more like His son Jesus. WE need to feed on this truth. We live in a day when God has become small and man has become BIG. Our lives are in God’s hands no matter where you are, who your boss is etc. This should make us feel very safe. Today computers say “Intel inside”. Do you know that you have “Jesus Inside”? This should give us confidence.
Not only is he at work in our lives but he is at work for our good.

2. For our GOOD - This is a truth we need to saver. There will be times we will see He is working when when we don’t feel like it. He is constantly energetically at work in our lives.

3.  In ALL things – there are times when we feel overwhelmed with life. If you belong to Jesus, he says, in all that you are involved, I am involved too. You may run out of personal resources but God never does. Whatever life may throw at you God can turn it around for your success eg) Joseph’s life, Esther’s life.

4. Who LOVE HIM - Everything is narrowed done to this point. Is point 1 to 3 true for every person on this planet? No. It’s for those who love Him. Often we have an image of a Santa Claus God who will not send anyone to hell. We think everybody will go to heaven. That’s not what the Bible says. It’s those who have put their trust in Jesus who are assured of Eternal Life. God works for the good only of those who love Him.
Q) So how can we be sure that every area God is going to work for your good?
There is only one way – give your life to Jesus. WE don’t become children of God by reading the Bible, by going to church but by putting our faith in Jesus forsaking all other Gods. If you have not done that you will   look t the stars for your future and you will be afraid of every black cat and ladder etc.

5) Called according to His purpose- God has a worldwide purpose and God has plans for you in that purpose.
Hab2:14  “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge and the glory of the Lord even as the waters cover the sea”

So
Q1 Will you be a person of hope? If Rom 8:28 is true for you, God is at work in your life.
Q2 Will you see the events of your life under the sovereignty of God, not by chance or evil design?
Q3 Have you found your purpose in His Eternal plan? Have you asked the Lord what you should do to play your part in assuring that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the a result of what I am doing .

How sad it is when Christians think like everyone else.  It is tragic when our thinking is like everyone else. WE are a people of hope. 

Ranjit Roderigues
April 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whats so special about this death?



 This message was preached at Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the 8th of April 2012. You can listen to the Audio recording of the message by clicking here .

This April, Christians all over the world celebrate Easter. It is a remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Can you imagine what the disciples felt when they saw Jesus who was crucified come to life again?



It was on Feb. 27, 1991, at the height of Desert Storm, that Ruth Dillow received a very sad message from the Pentagon. It stated that her son, Clayton Carpenter, Private 1st Class, had stepped on a mine in Kuwait & was dead. Ruth Dillow later wrote, "I can’t begin to describe my grief & shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I wept. For 3 days I expressed anger & loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me, to no avail because the loss was too great."

But 3 days after she received that message, the telephone rang. The voice on the other end said, "Mom, it’s me. I’m alive." Ruth Dillow said, "I couldn’t believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice, and he really was alive." The message was all a mistake!
She said, "I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels, because my son whom I had thought was dead, was really alive. I’m sure none of you can even begin to understand how I felt."
The disciples of Jesus must have felt the same emotions. They had been with Jesus for 3 years. They had lived with him, travelled with him, seen amazing miracles and then he was cruelly taken away, beaten and crucified. His dead body had been placed in a tomb.
They were were heartbroken and scared. But three days later Jesus came to life again. He rose from the dead. Can you imagine what the disciples felt. They must have felt emotions similar to Ruth Dillow, but in Jesus’ case, it wasn’t a case of mistaken death, it was a case of overcoming death.
The resurrection is not a myth or a fairy tale like Goldilocks and the three Bears or Red Riding Hood.  It’s not just a story, it’s history. It is one of the most significant events in history.  It is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. If the resurrection did not occur then Paul says that our preaching and faith is useless and we are still in our sins and we are to be pitied more than all men. 1Cor 15:14, 17,19. So lets look at this fundamental teaching.
Support for the Resurrection
There are over 300 verses in the New Testament that speak about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and many in the Old Testament as well.
1.   Jesus himself predicted his resurrection (Mt. 16:21, Mark 9:9-10)
2.   The Old Testament prophesied it (Ps 16:10, see Acts 2:25-31)
3.   The tomb was empty and the grave clothes vacant. (All the opponents of the resurrection had to do were to produce the body of Jesus to disprove his coming to life again – but they couldn’t!)
4.   Jesus appeared Mary Magdalene, to the other women at the tomb, to the disciples and to over 500 people at one time. (The number of eyewitnesses were many).
5.   The lives of the disciples were completely transformed (Though they fled and even denied Christ at his arrest, later they fearlessly proclaimed the risen Christ)
6.   Men and women across the ages and even today testify to changed lives because of the resurrection of Jesus.

What kind of Resurrection?
The resurrection was not just a coming back from the dead to die again. Jesus brought back to life Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter and the widow of Nain’s son. But these people were raised from the dead  - only to live a few more years and die again. Jesus resurrection was different in that he came back with a new kind of body and life – never to die again. His body was made perfect – no longer subject to weakness, ageing, sickness and death.

The Significance of the Resurrection


1.   The Empty Cross

Every gospel records the fact that Jesus died on the cross and his body was taken down and placed in a tomb. Those sentenced to die on the cross were left there till they died. After he had breathed his last and given up his spirit, Jesus was taken down from the cross. The cross was empty because Jesus died. The significance of his death is revealed in Rom 4:25 -   “ He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. “  Jesus’ death on the cross secured payment for our sins. Rom 5:10  says that “… we were reconciled to him(God)  through the death of his Son.” Heb 2:9 says that “… he suffered  death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

We are all sinners and our just punishment is death. But Jesus died on the cross in our place. Through faith in him we can have the penalty of our sins removed, we can be reconciled to God and we can escape the eternal death that awaits sinners.

His resurrection from the dead secured our justification. God now looks upon us and declares us “Not Guilty”. Wow – that’s the divine verdict, in our favour – all secured because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

2.   The Empty Tomb

In Rudyard Kiplings Jungle Book: Mowgli, the man cub, asks the animals what’s 
the most feared thing in the jungle. He’s told that when two animals meet on a narrow path that one must step aside and let the other pass. The animal that steps aside for no one would then be the most feared.

Mowgli wants to know what kind of animal would that be? One tells him “It’s an 
elephant.
”  Another tells him “It’s a lion.” Finally the wise old owl exclaims, “The most feared thing in the jungle is death. It steps aside for no one.”
How true, death has stepped aside for no one. Kings and emperors, religious men and mere mortals. All have succumbed to its mighty power and all have lived in the fear of death. Till one day, death faced defeat in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead.

The tombs of royalty and politicians, religious figures and ordinary people are present in every country of the world. Some are magnificent like the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. But they contain the mortal remains their owners – left there to decay. Not so with Jesus. His grave could not hold him. His tomb was empty.

What is the significance of Jesus conquering death?
A man and his young son were travelling in a car. Suddenly a bee entered the vehicle and started buzzing around. The young boy shouted in fear. “Dad save me”. The boy was allergic to bee stings as a sting could result in a violent allergic reaction and even death. The dad grabbed the bee in his hand and after a few seconds let go. “Dad, what are you doing” cried the boy. “It’s okay son”, said the father, “the bee stung me, it’s sting has been removed, it’s harmless now”.
1 Cor 15:54-57 says “… Death has been swallowed up in victory”. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

By dying for us and rising from the dead, Jesus took away the sting of death. We don’t have to live in the fear of death. If we have believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, our last breath on earth will be our first breath in heaven. Like the thief on the cross, we have Jesus reassuring us “This day you will be with me in paradise”. Death has lost it’s sting. Christ has won the victory. The empty tomb proves it. Death for believers is just a doorway to heaven not a final destination.

3.   The Empty Grave Clothes


The gospels of Luke and John record the presence of the strips of linen (for his body) and the burial cloth (for his head). Jesus was embalmed according to Jewish customs with about 34 kilograms of spices. (John 19:39-40). However on the third day when Peter and John ran into the empty tomb, all they saw were the strips of linen and the burial cloth folded up by itself. The empty grave clothes prove that Jesus’ body was not stolen by anyone – a story concocted by the chief priests (Mt 28:13-15) No human being, either disciples, or grave robber or Jewish authorities, would have gone through the trouble of taking of the grave clothes and stealing the body. Instead Jesus, passed through the grave clothes and left them behind like a butterfly leaving its cocoon behind, and rose to new life. The empty grave clothes signify that Jesus passed through the grave clothes and is alive and nail the lie that his body was stolen.

Jesus is risen. Hallelujah He is risen indeed.  He longs to have a relationship with you and offer you his gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

If you are not yet a believer, then after considering the biblical evidence - believe. The world’s most successful defense lawyer in the world is Sir Lionel Luckhoo,  who succeeded in getting his 245th successive murder charge acquittal by January 1, 1985. That’s an absolutely astonishing feat that nobody in the world has come close to replicating -- 245 murder trials in a row. To have such outstanding success, not only must he have had a razor sharp mind but also tremendous analytical skills so that he could demolish what may on the surface to be an air-tight case. And he must also be a world-class expert on what constitutes reliable and persuasive evidence.

During his own spiritual journey, Luckhoo turned his expertise to the question of whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ fits the test of legal evidence. And here’s the conclusion he ultimately reached: "I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt." 

And yet here’s the most successful attorney in the world applying the test of legal evidence to the case of Jesus Christ and concluding with absolute confidence that His resurrection is reality. And then Luckhoo did the most logical thing he could do: he gave his life to Christ.

If you have not repented of your sins and believed in Jesus’ death and resurrection, I urge you to believe and put your trust in him.
To those who have already believed in Jesus, when faced with the resurrected Jesus our response should be similar to the first disciples.
They first worshipped Jesus, then they obeyed him and finally they went into all the world an preached the good news.

Will you do likewise. Remember he is risen, he is risen indeed.

Colin D Cruz
April 2012







Saturday, April 7, 2012

Seven Last words of Christ


This message was preached at 
Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the 1st of April 2012. You can listen to the Audio recording of the message by clicking here .


Many Criminals get hanged but we don’t hang a noose around our necks do we? Do we write songs about them and sing them?
Yet many people wear a cross around their necks and sing about Jesus. Why? 



The Cross is where heaven’s love and earth’s justice meet.
WE will look at the last sayings of Christ on the Cross.
Luke 23:34- 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Who was Jesus referring to? There were many groups of people there that day viz I. The executioners  2. The Teachers of the law who wanted to see him killed. 3. The Priests who paid Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray him. 4. Pilate who gave his ascent. 5. The Disciples who said that they would never leave him till the end , yet they fled at the first chance.6. Peter who said he would never deny Jesus and then 7. There is all of us.
Jesus died for all of our sins – its our sin that put him on the cross.

1. Jesus ‘ first words were one of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the hall mark of Christianity. All other religions talk of paying for your sins but Jesus talks of forgiveness. Steven the first martyr said the same thing. Graham Steins ‘s wife said the same things to the murders of her husband and two boys.
There are two truths about forgiveness we need to know. Do you know that your sins are forgiven? Do you regularly come to God and keep and keep a clean conscience? It’s good to examine our hearts, attitudes, motives. 1Jn1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We also need to forgive those who have sinned against us .

2 Luke 23:43 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus said these words to the thief on the cross. The first words embraced all mankind. This verse was said to one particular individual. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Is 53 said he would be numbered with the sinners.
Jesus was naked, beaten, and bruised. In a few hours he would be dead. No reason for the thief to put his faith in him. Initially both the thieves mocked him but then he realized his error. In v 40 he says But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.
He recognized Jesus was sinless and put his faith in him. What does this mean for us? No one is too bad to get saved. You don’t need any religious ceremony, good deeds or even get baptised to get saved. All he could do on that cross was put to believe in his heart and confess with his mouth. Christianity is the only religion that says you can do nothing to get your salvation.
This morning like that thief have you put your faith in Jesus alone? He can save you. What a hope we have . What an assurance we have!

3. John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Jesus here shows the implication of salvation – the outworking of it is love. Think of Mary standing at the foot of cross watching her son. It was the fulfilment of a prophecy which was given to her when she took him to the temple for his dedication. Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to John and not to his family. Maybe they had not ome to believe in him yet.So here is the demonstration of our relationships in Jesus – we are brothers and sisters in Christ no matter what our background. Jesus died for the Church and relationships are very important.

4. Matt 27:46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Jesus was  with the Father since eternity. This is the first time he is separated from his Father.
This is the time Jesus atoned for our sins. It pained both the father rand the son t be separated. Jesus said :I and the father are one”. The Father turns his face away and the wrath of God is poured out on Jesus. Jesus was abandoned by the Father so that we could be accepted. WE were enemies of God but now we are made friends with God. Lets thank God for taking our place in that dreadful abandonment.

5. Jon 19:28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” Execution by crucifixion was not instantaneous. It was the most painful death and it could take days. He would slowly get dehydrated and suffocate. V28 says this had to happen so that scripture would be fulfilled.
What can we know from this ? Just his immense pain and suffering. We are called to a life of suffering. Jesus said that in this world we will have many troubles. Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel? Are you willing to put up with inconveniences for the sake of the gospel? Many missionaries have done this. Jesus left heaven for us. Are we willing to embrace suffering? C. T Studd was a rich and famous cricketer like Tendulkar. HE gave it all up to go to China.

6. Jn19:30 It is finished – What was he referring to? The word finished is the same as “paid in full”. What was this? Jesus was saying that the price for our sins was paid in full. Salvation has been bought and the debt has been paid. We were in debt because of our sin but that has been paid by Jesus. Jesus was the sinless sacrifice.

7. Luke 23:46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
This was addressed to the Father. Nobody took his life. He gave up his life. John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”Jesus was in control even on the cross. This is the hope we have. Jesus died and was raised to life again. We will die but our spirits will live forever with Jesus.

Colin  D Cruz
April 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Christ Follower.


This message was preached at 
Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the 1st of April 2012. You can listen to the Audio recording of the message by clicking here .

Christ follower – Purpose #3


We’ve crossed the half way mark in our 40 days of purpose. At the end of this weekend you should be on chapter 30.  Purpose Driven Life is written by Rick Warren. 
How many of us have heard of Sachin Tendulkar?. If you had to buy a cricket bat whom would  you go with? Me or Sachin? He is the expert. He knows what is good.


 I was reading  what some  who endorsed this book have to say.

"This book will guide you to greatness-through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Make sure you're not missing the point of your life-read this book!" Billy and Franklin Graham — Billy Graham 

"If you only read one book on what life is all about-make it this one! Rick Warren is absolutely brilliant at explaining our real purpose in the world and making the complex understandable. Read this book, then give it to everyone you care about. It is life-changing. Believe me, you'll never be the same after reading this!" What a gift!" Lee Strobel, Author, The Case for Christ — Lee Strobel, Author, The Case for Christ 

Max Lucado
 They are one of many eminent Christian personalities who endorsed this. Also when we evaluate  anything we should ask does it confirm with God’s word.

How do you evaluate something – by the standards of God’s word. Does this teaching/idea contradict the Word of God on does it Conform to the Word of God.

So we saw that our first purpose is :
Purpose #1- Get to know God and love God – worship
Purpose#2- Formed for God’s family – created to love and live with other believers – Fellowsihp
Purpose #3- Created to become like Jesus Christ – discipleship

A disciple is a learner/follower. One who is learning to look like, be like, act like and think like Jesus Christ.

Our perspectives, our passions, our priorities and our personalities will become more like Jesus.
That’s the goal. A Christ like character. Becoming, a godly man or woman.

Q. Are you a disciple of Jesus? Whom are you following?
Paul says in 1 Cor 11:1 follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.
Eph 3:17,
1 Cor 4:16 therefore I urge you to imitate me. V17 For this reason I am sending you Timothy… he will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
Phil 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.
Heb 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

 Q. What do you want to become when you grow up? Is a question we often ask children and teenagers?
Pilot/engineer/doctor/teacher/home maker/scientist

Eph 4:15 gives us an answer to that question

…Instead speaking the truth in love we will grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.
Rom 8:29 … for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
Wow what a privilege and an honor.

Imagine Sachin Tendulkar’s coach coming up to you and saying… Brian … one day you are going to be like Sachin. 100 centuries in ODI’s. I believe you have the potential and it will happen.

Or imagine Michael Phelps coach coming to you. MP has won 16 Olympic medals, 14 gold and  2 bronze in swimming.  In Bejing he won 8 golds. Currently holds the all time record with 14 gold medals.
Imagine his coach coming to you and saying – Lassya, I see potential in you. I believe you can get 14 Olympic gold medals like Michael Phelps. And you are going to do it.

Now of course the above two situations are imaginary but this one isn’t.
Now imagine God coming up to you and saying Flavian, I want you to become like my Son Jesus. … yes he’s perfect, holy, loves righteousness and hates wickedness, he washed feet, prayed till he sweated blood, washed feet, was humble even though he is God and loved you to death and laid down his life for you.

I want you to become like him, I’ve put that potential in you and you know what, one day you will become like him.
1 john 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
God’s ultimate plan for you is not your career or your comfort, but your character development and Christlikeness.

Sermon on the mount,
Gal 5:22 – fruit of the spirit
1 cor 13 – chapter on love
Phil 2/ Jn 13 – humility and servanthood
The greatest expression of love – death on a cross
That’s what God has planned for us to be like.

Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your  dreams and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer.
 Some of us want to use God like a Genie like Aladdin and his genie (magic lamp)

This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant. Never forget that you life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes.

The Steps to Christlikeness
Eph 4:22-23 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 Three things .
1)Put off your old ways – further  he talks about put to death what ever belongs to your old nature Col3:5. V8 rid your self of all such things…WE have to put to death. What do you do with cockroaches? You kill them. To become like Christ you have to put to death sin.

2)To be made new in the attitude of your mind i.e changing the way we thing. Our mind pays a very important part. We need to have a biblical perspective and instruction. Austin’s testimony was wonderful. He used to cheat in exams before but now he no longer does.
Put on the character of Christ as we develop Godly habits. 1Cor 13.

Your character is the sum total of your thoughts and deeds. It is how you habitually act and think.

Sow a thought – reap and action
Sow an action – reap a habit
Sow a habit – reap a character
Sow a character – reap a destiny

Christ likeness or spiritual maturity does not happen overnight. There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. Genuine discipleship is a lifelong process. The bible depicts it as a marathon not a sprint, a journey not a destination.

Today we are going to look at HOW God helps us to move along in this life-long process… how he helps us to mature spiritually.
If someone tells you can become a Sachin Tendulkar you will feel honored. But this I not just anybody – its becoming like Jesus the son of God.

God’s plan is that we THINK like Jesus, ACT like Jesus, we VALUE the things He VALUES and LOVE people the way He LOVES them. God uses EVERYTHING to conform us to the image of his Son.

 Is like converting a tree branch into a table. Different tools used. Saw, file, sandpaper, nails, leaves ripped off.It’s the same process in our lives. We are a rough block of wood being shaped slowly.
God uses all things to make us like Jesus. Here are three

1.   God uses TRUTH to TRANSFORM us – Spiritual growth is a process of replacing lies with truth. In Jn 17 he says sanctifies them by the truth. What is being holy? Holy is in the everyday life as we deal with people and situations.
Jn8:31 If you hold onto my teaching you are really my disciples. i.e you are obeying it in the midst of difficult circumstances.
1Pet 2 crave pure sp milk.

 What is your attitude towards the word?
1Receive it – your attitude determines your altitude. Receive it with a good heart
2Read it daily – don’t neglect. Very kind in Is had to write out the entire law.
3Study the word – ask questions. Journalize it
4Memeorise – make it a part of your life
5 Meditate upon it.

Have a daily quiet time and then ask God how you can apply it your life.
Dawson Trotman while in Sunday school used to memorize the Bible verses t get the prize. When he grew up one day the words he had memorized came back to his mind and he was convicted and converted that day. He stared the Navigators .

2.  The second tool he uses is trouble – to teach us to trust him. Jesus said in this world you will have trouble. But what we have realized this – that trouble is there to make us more like Jesus.Rom5:3-4 Suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces Character. Those troubles draw us to Jesus. Keep a spiritual Journal – write down what God is peaking to you. Write because you will forget it in time .
Keep your eye on the reward. 2 Cor4:17 – problems are temporary in Eternity perspective.
Heb11 is the great chapter of faith – they went to much suffering for their faith. Its talks about people who were sawed in two, fed to the lions etc –Has that happened to us?
Think of the trouble you are going through now – Rom 8:28-29. God uses ALL things God is working for our good. This is a promise we can hold on to.

3.The third tool he uses is temptation
Jam1:3 God does not tempt us. Satan does in order to harm us. But our amazing God can take that and enable us to overcome it and so make us more like Jesus. Everyone is tempted. 1Cor 10:13. Every temptation is common to man. It’s like a test. When you pass it you get built-up and you move forward.
Being tempted is not a sin but what we do with it is important. Jesus fought temptation with the Word.

This is how God will form Christ like Character in us. Truth to transform, troubles to help us trust him and temptation to teach us to obey Him.

Colin D Cruz
April 2012