Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vision 13/30- The nuts and bolts Part 6

Part 6

This message was preached by 
 Colin D Cruz at Word of Grace church on the 10th of March 2013. You can download the audio mp3 by clicking here.

Today we are going to look at  the 6th thing we need to do individually and corporately  to make our vision of 13/30 happen. One of the key things that needs to be addressed in the church today is obedience.

 The problem with the average Christian and the church is disobedience. Today I want to address this issue- obedience to the Word of God and surrender to His will. We saw this come through the worship and Sunny’s prayer this morning too.

Obedience is the hinge on which all the commands of the Bible rests.

Matt 21:28 Is about a story of two sons; one who obeys and one who does not. There are two kinds of people – sinners and the religious people. The religious people paid lip service to the Word of God, whereas the tax collector repented and turned around. God wants us to grow in obedience. Today obeying God’s word is confused with legalism. We confuse grace with license to sin.

Legalism is striving to earn God’s love through going good work. You can’t earn his love. Its agape love, not dependent on what we are but because he loves us. Read Romans 5:8 – Graces loves unconditionally.

Where does obedience come in then? It’s about us loving God. 
John 14:15  “If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.
John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

It is crystal clear here. Word are easy but actions are harder. This is not legalism but a demonstration that we love Jesus.

Titus 2:11-14 describes what Grace is .  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. “ As we are filled with the grace of God we can live self controlled lives. He gives us the ability to change and not be lazy.

 Therefore discipline and  grace go hand in hand.
Luther who was so strong on grace said “ We are saved by faith alone but faith that saves is never alone”
Faith and works – the faith that saves works.

1 Jn 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Over and over again in scripture the proof of our belonging to Jesus is a transformed life.
Abraham  was an amazing man. There was quick obedience in his life. He moved from Ur to Haraan and then to Cannan. Ur was the cradle of civilization. The equivalent today would be asking you to move from London or New York or Mumbai and go to a small town or village. But Abraham did it. In Genesis 17:10,23  God asks this 90 year old to get circumcised  along with his household.  Imagine that! Abraham obeyed  immediately “on that very day…”
Gen 22:3 God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. There was no waiting , debating. “Early the next morning “ v.15

James 1:22-25  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

 Phil 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Jesus is our perfect model. He is not asking us to do something he has not already done. He was obedient to the point of death. Let’s get hold of this attitude of Jesus.

What is God speaking to you this morning? Maybe you have put your faith in Jesus. Maybe you have trusted in him and you need to get baptized.
Maybe it’s a sin, or struggling with loving, submission, giving etc
What motivates our obedience?

Matt 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When he commands we better obey. Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

How do we do this?

1.      When we hear God we ought to obey. Maturity comes through obedience. Luke 11:27-28
Firstly we need to hear the Word of God daily in our Quiet Time. Write out a verse or two in your journal. Re write it in your words and then write down “ I will….” i.e what you will do/put into practice. Do this every time you encounter the Word of God. What will you do with the WORD this morning?

2.      Share it with someone

3.      Actually obey what you have read.
If you do this for the rest of your Christian life I guarantee you,  you will grow to maturity. Once ounce of obedience is far better than a ton of knowledge.
The Church is full of people who are full of knowledge but very little obedience. Remember we are not trying  to earn God’s love but demonstrating our love from HIM through our obedience.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Urban Voice Part 2

Part 2

 This message was preached by Steve Oliver at the Region Beyond gathering of churches in Mumbai March 2013

This story of Jonah is not about a big fish, it is about a big God. The cities of the world are filled with needy people, Godless people. God commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh to take God’s message to them. 

We too are a commissioned people. Jesus said, preach the Good News to all nations so everyone will come to know. This is our commission.
Now Jonah gets this commission and runs the other way. A majority of the churches are doing the same thing. 

So to answer the question we asked at the beginning- “Why did Jonah run?’.
There are four main reasons.

1.      He did not understand the heart of God for cities: If he did, he would have said, “I see it. I will go!” We need to get God’s view of the cities. The darker the city, in terms of sin, the more powerful the Gospel is, because the Gospel turns the cities upside down. This should encourage us. We can go anywhere and preach the Gospel with expectation.

2.      As these were not his people: The people of Nineveh were of a different culture, they were not Israelites, they were Assyrians, they were crude and shameless, etc. and Jonah says- ‘NO WAY!’ Now everyone presumes that his/her culture is the best in the world. But a lack of understanding of our culture will stop us from taking the Gospel to places. Father God sent His son to gather people together to become a totally different culture- to be a kingdom people. When we see the heart of God for cities, we can ignore our own culture and see beyond to see the good things in other cultures- to be one new man in Jesus Christ!

3.      Fear of leaving what he was used to: Fear has a way of crippling us. We can get caught up in our culture and fear engaging with new people. In this way, we end up holding ground, instead of taking ground till Jesus Christ comes back.

4.      He had a lack of reproductive grace: Just like the Ninevites, Jonah was also rescued from an unholy life. But instead of realizing that, he looked at the Ninevites as someone who deserves God’s wrath. We should realize that we are rescued people and that it is our responsibility to rescue others. We have received grace so that we can show grace. If we have freely received, we need to freely give.
Matthew 18: 21-35- the parable of the King and an unforgiving Debtor .These things held Jonah back.

God’s heart for the cities:
Jonah gets so cross with God for protecting the people of Nineveh, but God’s heart for the city is revealed in the end when God says, “and should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left- and much livestock?”

When Jesus saw the hardness of the hearts of Jerusalem, he wept. God seized Nineveh in their lost state. He has compassion on them. That is God’s heart. We are here today because God reached out to you, saved you and now, he wants that you see with His eyes. We need to be a voice to our city and for that we need to ask God, “Give me eyes, that are Your eyes. Give me ears that are Your ears. Give me a heart that is Your heart!” God never stops, so we can’t either. Come with me to the cities of the world- to Bujumbura, to Sri Lanka, to Malaysia, to Lahore. How can we not go to the cities, knowing that one day the heaven will open and Jesus Christ will come?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Urban Voice : Loving the city - Part 1

This message was delivered by Steve Oliver on the March 3, 2013, in Mumbai.  

This message is about being a voice in your city which comes with cultivating a love for the city you live in. We are not placed there by chance. God places us there to influence that place.

Now, Jonah is the story of a man whom God raised up. Today, I want to explain to you what God’s heart is for the cities. Jonah lived 800 years before Jesus and was raised up as a prophet to go to the nations.

The story starts with God Almighty, calling to His servant, in Jonah 1: 1-2, to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and cry out against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”, but the response was that “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. ”(v. 3)

Why did he run away?
Jonah gets onto a boat to Joppa and goes in the opposite direction. So, God sends a big storm. How often does God do that to get our attention? But the storm was about to break up the ship. Then Jonah tell the mariners in verse 12, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
As the mariners throw him into the sea, God saves Jonah by sending a great fish that swallows him. He is inside this whale. This is not just a story, it is true; because God commands everything.

In Jonah 2, we see that, inside the whale, Jonah cries out to God.  “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.” When we cry out to God, He listens. Every time you speak to Him, you have His fullest attention. He hears you. When Jonah cries out, God says- “spit him out!” What an amazing story!

In Jonah 3, God asks Jonah a second time- “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” This time he goes. He has learnt his lesson. He went into the city and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The King of Nineveh hears this message regarding the anger of God with the city and did as God commanded them to do. Then, in verse 10 ‘God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.’   

What we are starting to see in Jonah 4 is that Jonah’s heart for the city was different from God’s heart. God teaches him. He explains to Jonah, His heart for the city of Nineveh in Jonah 4:11 where He calls it “THAT GREAT CITY”. God brought you to the city that you are in because He wants to put in our hearts a love for the city. God is a God of nations and wants to fill the whole world with His glory.

About cities- where do they come from?
-Some truths to understand God’s heart
The Gospel loves cities. But cities were not always around. The first city which came into existence was before Jesus’ time. Rome had over a million people. For the first time, because of a strong army, such a large number of people were able to live within the same borders. For this reason, people from all over went there. But with all the different people, different religions, idol worship, different cultures also came.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is tailor-made for cities. 400 years after Jesus, more than half the people in the major cities of the world were disciples of Jesus Christ. When the gospel comes to cities, it is like a wild fire. When the Romans established cities, they divided it into different sections and allocated them to different kinds of people. This was done so that the strong do not oppress the weak. But, when the gospel came, it went right through the city and for the first time in history, everyone was following the same God. It cannot be contained, because at its heart is a God who loves cities.

The leader of Rome- Caesar, Juliannus, gathered the whole city leaders in the Roman Senate and said about the church- “These religious Galileans! They are not only feeding their own poor, but also our poor!” the church of Jesus Christ turned the city of Rome upside down. This is what God wants to do with all the cities. This time (of Rome as a city) was chosen by God as a time for His son to live and be crucified so that the gospel would come and sweep through the city.

Who knows what God has in store for us in the future? We have been raised for such a time as this. It is not about Dubai or Mumbai or Chennai. It is about the cities of the world! The call on your life today is to change the cities of the world. Nothing is impossible for God and God is looking for us to become a voice to our city. We need to love our cities. The love of God is for the people of the world and most people of the world live in cities, so it is important that we love our cities. Jonah did not have that love. Are you willing to ask for this now?