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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who tells you where to go?

Enqurie of the Lord
 This prophecy was  brought by Navaz DCruz  at TOAM 2012  Bangalore . God is looking for a people who who inquire after Him and not chase methods or man for success.

In a time of change and expansion I believe the Holy Spirit wants to remind us to be like King David, who hungered and longed for the presence of God. He said that to him the presence of God was better than life itself, sweeter than honey and any human love.
David also learned to inquire of the Lord. Where did he learn this?

 He learned this when no one was watching. He had a deep and private walk with God where he inquired of the Lord. He won battles in the private place- that’s where he took on the lion and the bear. Therefore he could take on Goliath. People tried to give him human counsel, advice and solutions (the wearing of Saul’s armour). But David knew that the battle belonged to God and that God would come through for him. He knew his sling shot was good enough because that’s how he fought in the private place and with God by his side. We are to be careful of worldly ways . It will not bring success.
God wants us to seek Him,  to inquire after his heart. David did not abandon this when he became King. He always asked God whether he should fight a battle or not, whether he would have victory or not. God’s voice gave him the confidence to go or to hold back. When we do this we will have victory.

Navaz D Cruz 
Nov 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A band of many colours

 As I was praying for The HUB and TOAM Bangalore I felt the Holy Spirit give me a word that He said   I should share at both the Conferences.

I saw a picture of a  band of many colours like that of a rainbow. It was a long band that went around the earth, encircling it and it had all the colors in all their brilliance.
I felt the Lord say that we are like that band of many colours where each colour adds beauty to the band and a distinctness .

 However these were not clear defined bands of colour - they blended and merged one into the other. There were many shades within a colour and the reds gave way to the oranges which gave way to the yellows and so on.
The Lord impressed upon me 1 Cor12:12 The body is a unit thought is is made up of many parts and though its parts are many they form one body" verse 21 says The eye cannot say to the hand I don't need you.

In the same way one colour cannot do without the other- the band would be incomplete. 
In the same way - we need each other. Together we bring out the brilliance of all the colours and display the manifold wisdom of God which is the church . If you took something away there would be something missing.

I felt the Lord day in a time of change, we need each other more than we realize. There is great synergy in partnership - we can do more together than apart. The band went around the earth- together we can make an impact on the nations,. We will be from this nation to the nations - a band of many colours.

Navaz DCruz

November 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Has your wine run out???

This message was preached by Terry Virgo on the 2nd of November at Gateway Church.  

John 2
This story is about panic, potential shame and embarrassment. In those days when there was a wedding, it was a village event- so the whole village got involved in what was happening. And now the bridal parties have run out of wine!

 This could get to be known as the wedding “where the wine ran out”! You may be in a situation where the wine has run out- maybe a business, maybe a relationship, you are in a problem that no one knows about yet – it’s still under the surface. That is why these stories are here in the bible. John calls them ‘signs”. Signs point to something. There are 7 signs in the gospel of john. John20:31 says that these things were written so that we might know that he is the Christ and have life in his name.

In those days weddings lasted 7 days and they were now running out of wine. Jesus is at this wedding. One may think what an extraordinary place to do your first miracle! Satan thought that a good place to start was something more dramatic like Jesus throwing himself down the temple dome. But Jesus thought otherwise. He was happy to be at a party and be a part of normal life. He did not say “I have come to have meetings and have them more abundantly”

Jesus likes to be involved in our lives, at work, our family etc. He was not the focal point at this wedding- he was just there and happy. It’s a sign, so what’s it saying. Jesus is for marriage, for covenant and for commitment. Today marriage is under threat – people prefer to just move in with one another and its not working. The bible finishes with a marriage – the wedding supper of the Lamb!

God requires 3 things from us : To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Sometimes a marriage goes through tensions but God loves covenant love. The Lord wants us to have covenant love in this area. Has the wine run out in this area of your life?

Jesus had a strange conversation with his mother. He addresses his mother as “women”. He said the same thing to the woman at the well. Yet at the cross he did care for her. The phrase he uses “woman, what do I have to do with you?” is literally translated as “what to me to you?”  You hear this phrase several time eg) to the women at the well, the legions to Jesus.
Remember, Jesus was a perfect child. At 12 it says he was obedient to them. Jesus probably was the rock of his family because probably Joseph died young. You don’t hear about Joseph.

Jesus starts his ministry at the age of 30. He is already gathering disciples. There is an overlap between his family life and his ministry. Mary turns to him as she always did at home and this is the moment when Jesus draws a line in the sand saying the old days at home have drawn to a close – it’s over. He is now declaring his freedom from human advice, manipulation or agenda. Why is this important? We often feel Jesus is there for us like a Jinni who can get to do what we want. “Jesus please get me a taxi, Jesus please let the shop have ….”  He is there for us but we can miss the point.

Jesus answers by taking total charge. He gives instructions that are specific, unreasonable and that require faith and obedience. This is what He is inviting us to - to another dimension of living.

We often invite Jesus into our hearts to be a part of everything else that is going in our hearts. We say “Jesus comes in to my heart” and we make him reside with all our other idols etc and we expect him to be there for us.
Jesus asks them for water- they must have been confused. It’s Jesus taking control and giving instructions. We have to surrender our thinking to his lordship.

We see that Mary did very well. Her response was “Whatever He says to you do it”
This disciple got used to doing what Jesus asked of them like putting the nets on the other side even though they had fished all night; then getting the donkey, fishing to pay their taxes etc. This is what Christian life is like. Will you do what he tells you to do? Jesus is not your Jinni but the king of Kings. Jesus comes to save with incredible extravagance and when he comes we ought to say “yes Lord”!

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.