Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Practicing the presence

This message was preached at Word of Grace Church on the 221st of Oct 2012 by Bill Berry.
You can listen to the audio recording by clicking here .
We can be followers of Jesus for many years and yet there is so much more we need to grow and realize our own sinfulness and need for brokenness.

TEXT : John 15
Jesus wants us to have joy that is the shalom of God where we lack nothing. “I am the true vine_- that implies that there are other vines that are not the real thing – there are other options that we can get plugged into.

As humans we search for a life of joy in many places but Jesus says that to have true joy we need to plug into Him. Some plug into their careers, their children etc. These are good but it’s not where we get our completeness from. Some plug into pleasure- the next vacation. But that lasting peace and joy comes from Jesus – the source of life. 

The Father is the vines dresser i.e  Jesus was under the father’s care and submission.
V2 Blake translates “Cut off” as “Lifts up”. The Jewish way of growing vine was to let it run on the ground and they would prop up the vines on small rocks ( not on sticks like we do today). He lifts us up when we are not fruitful to help us bear fruit. The ones that are bearing fruit he prunes to make them more fruitful. Hebrews 12- the Father disciplines those whom he loves so that we will produce the life that will bring joy and satisfaction. So let him do the pruning.

Heb12:-2 this is what the Father is involved in – helping to remove sin in our lives and the things that hinder. Hindrances are not necessarily by sin but it can affect our spiritual life Eg) over work, over spending etc.

What is the greatest need of humanity? To be delivered from sin. That’s why God sent Jesus.The most important thing is not a good job, a good education, spouse, but the forgiveness of sin because God gave his very best for the greatest need. We need to be freed from the penalty and power of sin. So the father disciplines us so that we can become free from the power of sin and we can bear more fruit.

Heb 12:2 The way we overcome is by fixing our eyes on Jesus i.e. the eyes of our heart- that our heart is constantly in tune with Jesus. We need to be in constant contact. The greatest struggle is that we do not live in constant contact with Jesus. When was the last time I thought about Jesus? He wants to be in constant commune with you. What does “apart from me you can do nothing mean?’ Paul says pray without ceasing i.e commune with Jesus and there is awareness in the home as a husband/wife at work, pleasure time.

How do we do that ?
We need to learn to pray – it comes from practice. We need to practice the presence of God. His presence is always with us  .
Jesus could minister in power because he was in tune to the Father. Because we have Jesus with us we should be most creative people because we are in constant contact with the creator.
In business we can put God on display – he will give us ideas. Christian families should be supernatural. This comes  from abiding.

Verse 4 Jesus talks about fruitfulness. Fruit is about who you are – it will have an effect on what you do. John 13:34-35 Love one another- disciple. John 15:8  Fruitfulness – is being a disciple of Jesus. Fruitfulness authentically loves one another i.e the body of Christ. The world sees our love – this was the hall mark of the early church and they were testifying about it. Is the world seeing this today? 

Today not much difference between Christian s and non Christians in family life (we have almost the same divorce rates), business ethics etc. We have a lot of head knowledge but it not changing the heart. Proverbs 4:23 It’s the heart that God is interested in. The west has abandoned this and gone for the head or it’s gone for emotionalism.

But it’s the heart where the connection is. Get into communion with God. That is why worship touches the depths of your being. We need to learn to be in step with the spirit.
V8. “My father is glorified…” The way we glorified God is when we live in constant commune and that comes with practice. Experts become experts because they practice something about 10,000 times.
If you practice things you will make certain things begin to happen. Spiritual disciplines is the door that allows God to do things inside out. Repentance is not a onetime event but a process and a journey.

Verse 9  We are as loved by the father as he loves Jesus-the wonder, the mystery of this! These things I have said so that your joy will be complete.
We need to only keep the 2 great commands but we need Jesus to help us and the result of that obedience is joy. Joy is only found in loving God and loving people.
We need to practice abiding in Jesus. It will transform our lives and everything we do.   

Bill Berry 

21 Oct 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Discipleship goal # 3- Heart Worship

Discipleship Goal #3 Heart Worship
This message was Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the  30th of September 2012 is a part of a series called "Discipleship Goals". You can listen or download  to the Audio recording  of the message by clicking here 

To follow the whole series click here

Here at Word of Grace church we want to make Jesus last command our first priority after the Great command. We want to be disciples who make disciples of Jesus. Jesus in Matt28:18-20 commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus will ask us, how many disciples we have made.

How do we make disciples?
Acts 2:37 Here is the order: Faith in Jesus, repentance, baptism by immersion and baptism in the Holy Spirit and finally being added to the church (verse 40). All these things happen within the context of a local church.

Then there are things that are lifelong. Salvation is an Event and a Process. There are things that are repetitive in our lives that are a part of our daily walk with God. 
There are 10 such things that I have identified.
Personal Worship- being committed to the Lord Jesus through personal prayer and meditation on His Word. 1Cor1:9
We need to spend time daily in the Word and prayer Mk1:35

Public Worship – Christianity is not a private affair but a public shared faith. The Bible records that people came together to worship. Each one of us should be committed to word the Lord corporately. Heb10:24-25

How do we honor God here? – First, be on time. Come to participate in prayer, prophecy, reading of scripture etc.

Today we will look at discipleship goal #3


Have you ever been deceived by somebody? It’s a horrible feeling. Buts its far worse when you deceive yourself. The Bible speaks of this in James 1:22 Do not merely listen .. do what it says. Discipleship is learning to obey the Word of God.

Where is your heart this morning? Some people like to collect things and some collect all sorts of things viz, stamps, coins, etc etc.
For some it's new clothes, gadgets, etc. For some its good food.
As Christians where should our affections be? Jesus gave us a indicator. There are certain tests we do for our body. Jesus outlines a test to find out where our heart is.
Matt6:21 Where your treasures is there your heart will also be.

Litmus test on where our heart is
This morning I’m going to speak to you on a topic that you will be surprised to know is very important to God.
  1. Jesus said more about this than anyone else in the Bible.
  2. He said more about this subject than any other subject
  3. There are more verses on this subject than on faith and prayer combined. (2350)
  4. 15 percent of Jesus recorded words are on this one subject.
What is that topic ?
The topic is MONEY. (associated with it wealth, possessions and handling them)

  1. How could Jesus say more about money than about both heaven and hell?
  2. Why does God give us so much instruction on money and possessions?
  3. Why did he say more about this than about any other single thing?
  4. Why? What did he know about money and possessions that we don’t?
  1. How one handles money is a key indicator of a persons spiritual life

Zacheus was deeply touched by God. Jesus linked Zacheus ‘ attitude toward money to true salvation. His giving of money did not save him, but it was a sign of true repentance. Unlike the rich young ruler – he could not give up his earthly possessions.
6.      Luke 18:23-26 Acts 2 – The early church shared their possessions. V45 Selling their possessions and goods they gave to anyone as he had need.
7.      Acts 19:18ff Burned scrolls to do with sorcery worth 50,000 days worth of wages.

What we do with our money loudly affirms which kingdom we belong to.
Mark 12:41  – poor widow
Luke 12 rich fool

There is a powerful relationship between our true spiritual condition and our attitude and actions concerning money and possessions.
Our use of money and possessions is a decisive statement of our eternal values. What we do with our money loudly affirms which kingdom we belong to.

The key to a right use of money and possessions is a right perspective – an eternal perspective.
Far too many evangelicals have succumbed to the heresy that this present life may be lived disobediently without serious effects on their eternal state.
Never have so many Christians believed the lie that their money and possessions are theirs to do with as they please.
The issue of money and possessions lies at the very heart of the Christian life.
What we do with our money will influence the very course of eternity.

What does all this mean? How we handle our money affirms which kingdom we belong to. Jesus spoke about the true God and Mammon.

 Martin Luther – for each person there must be not only the conversion of the mind but also the conversion of the purse.

In India people are chasing money and thinking it will buy happiness and security therefore saying money is their God.

Imagine if TATA comes t you and says I want to hand over one of my companies to you, but here is the deal – you can keep 90% of the profits, but give me 10%. Would you take the offer? We would all jump at this.

Everything Belongs to God - Stewardship

Hag 2:8 The silver is mine and the gold is mine
Ps 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.
Deut 8:10-17  v14 then your heart will become proud and your will forget the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt out of the land of slavery
V17 you may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me”
 Deut 8:18 But remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth

 In the same way everything we have belong s to the Lord – our children, our health, our jobs, our money, our homes etc.

 Deut 8:18 God cautions the Israelite s from forgetting Him. In the Old Testament the requirement was 10%. In Leviticus 27:30 Jesus spoke about it in the New Testament and upheld it. 
But we are not in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the standard is much higher. It talks about generous sacrificial giving.

What  do we do with the tithes? Here are a few things
Those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.1Cor9:14,11
To support the poor Acts 4:32
To advance the kingdom of God and other church plants

Giving in the New Testament

Should Christians Tithe ?
OT Lev 27:30 A tithe of everything from the land whether grain from the soil of fruit from the trees belongs to the Lord. It is holy.
Prov 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Tithing is OT  Christianity – old covenant. What is NT Christianity – new covenant?
OT – Do not murder. NT – do not get angry with your brother and call him a fool
OT – do not commit adultery – NT anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery.

In the OT the standard was here in the NT the standard is much higher.
So if in the OT people gave a Tithe (10%) the in the NT the standard is much higher.
Zacheus –gave away 50% of his possession on his conversion.
2 Cor 8,9 talks about sacrificial, cheerful, willing giving.

For NT Christians, 10% is the starting point. As the Lord increase our income we need to give more. Rick Warren – gives away 90% of his income.

Remember it’s NOT your money. It’s on loan from the Lord.

It’s not wrong to enjoy ourselves with a nice holiday or a home or a car. All things have been richly provided for our enjoyment. But God doesn’t  want us to be self indulgent and self centred.
Mal 3:8-10 robbing God.

Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet your rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of yours – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

1 Cor 16:2 on the first day of every week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income...
Give because it belongs to God
Give because he will bless you even more.

Where should we give.
A lion’s share of your tithes should go into the storehouse of God. In OT – temple. In NT – the local church.
Where do you belong. Where is your spiritual shepherd. Where are you fed the word.  Give a major portion of your tithes there. Some people belong here but send their tithes to their “home church” or to some other ministry. That’s like eating at the Ritz Hotel and when the bill comes saying “I’m paying the Bill at Shiv Sagar”.

Friends bring the whole tithe into God’s storehouse – the local church.
Over and above tithes – God wants you to give offerings and also to help the poor.  Set aside some money to do that.
Pr 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and he will reward him for what he has done.
Pr 22:9 generous to the needy
Lk 21 widows mite

You need supernatural grace and faith to give.
1 Cor 9: 9 ff , v14 – to support church workers and leaders
To support the poor – 2 Cor 8:14
Church planting -

Giving should be proportional
L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corp., who had given approximately 25% of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, “The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord.” 
J. D. Rockefeller said, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.”  Peter Marshall - Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.  
 Mother Teresa - If you give what you do not need, it isn’t giving 

Give generously
Give sacrificially
Give expectantly 2 Cor 9:10, God likens sowing to reaping
1Cor16:2 Give regularly and consistently. Give your first fruits and not your left overs
Give to the local church - Deut 15:10
Give to the poor – Deut 15:10
Give to your spiritual leaders – Gal 6:6
Give to brothers and sisters in need Acts 4:32

Giving requires supernatural grace of God. We, as Christ followers should not be controlled  by money. The solution to greed is to give. God bless you!

(Recommended Reading: "Simple Discipleship" - Dr. Tom Cocklereece
"WikiChurch"- Steve Murrell)