Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Encouragement through Worship | John C

Encouragement through worship 



This message was preached by John C at Word of Grace Church on  November 11th, 2018. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.




Teaching the Church: Edification Through Praise Ephesians 1:1-14
Exhortation to live in the light of knowing who we are. Chapters 4-6
Predestined to be adopted (v 5)
Forgiven – we have this too. We are not trying to earn forgiveness or justify ourselves. Forgiveness was bought for us by Christ at the cross and is here, now and ours.
Questions Read Eph 1:1-14


Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of the most powerful books ever written. 
S T Coleridge called it “the most divine composition of man.” 
D M Lloyd Jones called it, “the sublime-est and most majestic expression of the gospel.” 

These six short chapters gripped me as a young Christian and became the foundation for my understanding of who I am and what God’s purposes are. 
This letter gives us wings and equips us to fly into the heavenly realms, revealing a view of the plan of salvation unequaled anywhere else in scripture. There are two main sections:

Edification through knowing who we are. Chapters 1-3

Praise (1:1-14)
Prayer (1:15-23, 3:14-21)
Preaching  (2:1-21)
Prophecy (3:1-13)




Character (4:1-6)
Charisma (4:7-16)
Conduct  - (Morally 4:17-5:20)
                  (Socially 5:21-6:9)
Combat     (6:10-20)
                        
Conclusion (6:21-24)

We are going to spend some time working through this letter and reminding ourselves about the foundations of our faith. We will have a few weeks of edification, they move on to exhortation.

Today we are going to focus on praise: Praising God for what he has done in Christ is a great means of building ourselves and one another up.

Blessed – we mean thanked, honoured and recognised for who God is and for what He has done for us. The power of praise is this: it focuses us on the truth and lifts us from a natural perspective that tends to get bogged down, to the life of God and his view of things.

There is passion and there is theology found in these verses; hot truth, raw energy, and deep thoughts sufficient to last a lifetime. They remind us of things we are prone to forget.  “You have forgotten who you are!” Michael Griffiths spoke off the church as “Cinderella with Amnesia.” Paul wrote this letter to people who already knew these things.

Look at what Paul says and begin to rise up in your spirit.  This was probably a circular letter, true for Ephesus and true for us. You are not simply an ordinary Christian. There are so many lies that we tend to believe are the truth. This passage tells us the truth!

We have been blessed with all we need in the gospel.
Paul’s great outburst of praise begins with a general summary in v 3 which he expounds in the following verses.


Blessed
Blessed us
Blessed us in the heavenly realms
Blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing
Blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ

1. A New History (v 4-6) – The Past
      A trip down memory lane, look back at where you have come from. God started his work in your life before the creation of the world.
     We should ground our self-image in this truth
Chosen to be holy- not to drift through life in a meaningless fashion
Not to be driven through life by the world's ambitions.


Holy indicates that we are to be different from the world outside of Christ. By becoming a disciple of Christ I have a discovered a lifestyle and a purpose that separate me from everyone else.

I did not become a Christian against the will of God. He ordered my destiny. Adoption means that we have become God’s children: taken from the destitution of our sin and added to the royal family (Eph 2:2-3 cf. Eph 4:13, Rom 8:29, Gal 3:26, 4:4f).  There may be accidental additions to natural families, but there is never an unexpected addition in the family of God.

Graced  (v 6) – all these gifts come freely to us from God not because of what we have done, but by his grace. Praise him for it and enjoy it to the full.
All this is past tense. These things are ours. They are true of every Christian no matter how weak they may look or feel. This is the truth!

2. A new identity (v 7-8) –  The Present
We are no longer under the governing power of sin, but now we belong to Christ and should think of ourselves as his.

Redeemed – we have it, and Christ has us. Redemption indicates that we were bought with a price.

All this is present, but there is more to come. A Christian is promised more than they now possess, but what we experience here is the foretaste of what is in store for us.

3. A new destiny (v 9-14) – The Future

Enlightened – we have a revelation in the scriptures and through the Spirit.
God has shown us what the world cannot know or deduce that He will make Christ supreme over all things.


Included - Paul makes it clear that God intends to gather all his people redeemed through history to praise the Lord together forever (v 11-12).
There is a place for us in the Kingdom of God. How do we know this?
Answer:

a. We believe the gospel! (v 13a)
The gospel is the most important message in the universe as our response to it determines our destiny. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Have you received his forgiveness? Have you placed your confidence in his sacrifice at the cross? Then by faith you are included.

b. We were sealed when the Holy Spirit came on us – (v 13b-14)
The gift of the Spirit is given to assure us that we are saved. His ministry in our lives is a foretaste of heaven. A guarantee of what is to come.

These truths are therefore vital for us all to live on, and to be the source of our worship, identity and security.

Application:

1.    Let our praise to God be in truth as well as in Spirit.
2. Let our praise neutralize our pride
3. Let our praise be Trinitarian
4. Let our praise be passionate
5. Let our praise be joyful
6. Let our praise be full of hope and confidence.



Why do you think Paul started his letter with a paragraph like this (v 3-14)? How would you summarise the main point in a short sentence?
What does this tell us about how God has changed our past?
What difference does this make to our outlook on ourselves?
How does praise neutralize pride?
In what way does worship in truth feature in your devotional life?
Pray for one another that your lives may express more substantial, Spirit-filled, Trinitarian, joyful, passionate and confident praise.


 Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has 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.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Intimacy Not Information - Abiding in Jesus | Navaz DCruz


Intimacy not Information - Abiding in Jesus |Navaz DCruz

This message was preached by Navaz Dcruz at Word of Grace Church on  November 4th , 2018. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.


PART 2

VERSE 4-5
 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.


 INTRODUCTION
In Part 1 we looked at the fact that there can be many vines that we could be a part of but Jesus is the true vine. We saw that if we are to be fruitful we would be pruned. Pruning is not punishment but a process toward more fruitfulness. Jesus wants us to be fruity Christians.


HOW DO WE ABIDE IN A DIGITAL WORLD THAT PINGS, BLIPS,  SCREEN LIGHT UPS EVERY OTHER MINUTE?
Many things are grabbing our attention each day and the immediacy of everything is to the point of being ridiculous. The pressures of work are real, – long hours, long commutes to and from office, deadlines etc.etc.

Our relationship with Jesus cannot and should not be another pressure point; rather he should be the place where all pressure is released.

He said 28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30)

Jesus does not come to add to your burdens but he is our burden bearer, He is the lifter of our heads.

When you love someone you want to spend time with them. You are not timing it or clocking in.  That is what Jesus is calling us into – a restful abiding in His presence – out of joy and not duty.


VERSE 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I.                 WHAT DOES ABIDE MEAN?
 So while our relationship with Jesus is eternal. No one can pluck you from His hand, what quality of relationship you enjoy is up to you.

The word abide/remain is repeated 10 times in a span of 4 verses. Repetition for emphasis is a style of a good teacher and Jesus certainly was that.  We would be wise to pay attention to what Jesus puts an emphasizes on.

The Word Abide/remain is also translated “to stay/to dwell”. To make your dwelling place. This is reflected in the Old Testament very well in Psalm 91, Ps 84. It is about taking up residence. It’s where you feel secure, relaxed “at home” and have your most intimate relationships.

 In the Old Testament, God’s presence was confined to a geographical space. His death on the cross put an end to that. Today, his presence is not confined to a box behind a thick curtain. 
He has now made is dwelling among us. He now has taken up residence in our hearts. He also says when 2 or  or more gathered I am there among them. 

So we have God’s indwelling presence and his manifest presence in a group of people.


 No branch can bear fruit by itself;
No branch can have life, without it being connected to the main branch. All the branches draw their sap, sustenance from the main branch.

WHAT IS IT TO REMAIN/ABIDE/ STAY CONNECTED?

This requires commitment and covenant. It’s not transactional or conditional.

Another way to say abide/remain is to stay stuck in. Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not being distracted by anything else or anyone else.
Jesus is unconditionally faithful, committed to us. Are we unconditionally faithful and committed to him? Is it a relationship of convenience?

 To be disconnect would mean to get dismembered from the Vine.  The analogy is two fold, individual and corporate. Rom 12 This not only affects your relationship with Jesus but with one another as well.

This abiding is 24/7. It is not something we can or should turn on and off.
There is no religious-secular divide in our lives. We can learn to practice the presence of God in our everyday lives.

Jesus lived in a constant commune with His Father. Then He tells us to abide in Him in the same manner and tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing!! In Acts 17:28 we are reminded that it is in Him we live, move, and have our being!  

Its about being God conscious. He becomes our frame of reference for everything we do – in our families, at school, work, in our socializing; in everything.

God desires so much more for us but we often settle for just getting our foot into the Kingdom and not fully enjoying all that we can because of being in the Kingdom.

When we pray His kingdom come on earth. We don’t pray His kingdom come to church!! The church is the display and reign of the kingdom of God gathered. In the week the Kingdom is like salt and light scattered on the Earth.

Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

The branches get its nourishment, strength, fruit-bearing ability, it’s very DNA from the main vine.
We get saved when we believe in Jesus but we get sanctified when we believe like Jesus.

What is the DNA of Jesus?  All the qualities of God that we love. God is love, kind, gracious, slow to anger, forgiving, wise, giving, gentle, gracious, righteous holy and so on.

I will have God thoughts, Christ-like thought patterns that think more about others than myself.


II.              RESULT OF ABIDING

We will be fruity.
Fruitfulness is linked to my relationship with Jesus.  It is not about how well I administer or create programs.

It’s so simple to the point that we actually ignore it or miss it altogether. It’s about me “being” and not “doing”. The focus is on BEING to begin with and then the BECOMING will follow

Fruitfulness comes from intimacy and heart connection. Transformation comes from intimacy and heart connection.

Intimacy with Jesus not information about Jesus leads to transformation.

Abiding will make us live from His presence and not just principles.


John 5:39-40 
 39 You study[a] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

When we come into his presence, we get a deeper revelation of who He is. Revelation transforms us, not information.

Knowledge of His word is only the gateway. Then we want a deeper understanding and communion with Him.

Today is an invitation to go deeper with Jesus

Obedience alone is cold, dry and faithless. It will not produce healthy fruit.  The Pharisees did that and it only made them blind to their sin and judgmental of everyone else.


III.             WHAT DOES NOT ABIDING LOOK LIKE?
·       Living to please me
·       Distracted
·       Religious duty
·       Not committed to things that matter to Jesus viz: Time with Him, how we interact with our family, our personal private holiness, our love quotient for other Christians, our diligence at work, faithful in giving, serving.
·       Attracted to worldly pleasures and self-indulgence.


HINDRANCES TO ABIDING?
·       The Bible will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from the bible.
·       Anxiety and fear cloud our thinking and clogs our hearts. Fear and love cannot co-exist. His perfect love will drive away fear and anxiety.

He gives us his perfect peace. Do you know what that is? It is himself – his presence. Peace is a person. Jesus is the prince of peace.

·       Unforgiveness and offense – This not only builds walls towards the people you are offended with, but it also affects your relationship with God.
How do I know that?

1Jn 2:11
  But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

 We cannot love God and hate our brother. If I dismember myself from one part of the body, I also disengage with the Head i.e Jesus.
Are there people you are avoiding? Here at Word of Grace. You say I love Jesus, I love the worship and the word at this church but I’ll keep my distance from so and so or I’ll only interact with these people, but those people I don’t want to talk to. My friends, you are kidding yourself. Get it sorted because you will hit a heart block in your relationship with God.
Church is messy. Its made up of imperfect people like you and I. Jesus has shown us much grace.  Let us extend lavish grace as well.


IV.             WHAT DOES ABIDING GIVE US?
·       IT gives us Identity. We are called sons. We are no longer orphans. We are chosen by God (v16), we are called his friends (v.15). It will give you rest and you wont strive to prove anything to God or anyone.

·       This gives us security because you know Who you are and whose you are.

·       It gives us purpose and perspective. We will be clear on our calling and we will get committed out of joy and not duty.

·       Joy (v11). If your joy quotient is low, check your abiding quotient. They are directly proportional. The more you abide the more joy you will experience and vice versa.

·       Answered prayer ( v.7)


HOW DO I DO THIS?
Eg) I have a gift for painting, but if I don’t exercise that gift I won’t get good it and people won’t be able to say that is my gift unless they see proof of that.

In Acts 4:13 – They recognized that the disciples were men who has been with Jesus Therefore staying in connection is crucial.

TOOLS TO ABIDING
Colin covered this two weeks ( Click here for the message) ago in his message so I will mention it briefly.

·       Have a time alone with God every day.  

Your reputation is your reputation. As you do this every day you will build a strong relationship with God. How can you know God better? 

Read his Word. It has everything you need to know about him, his ways and his thoughts about you.

·       Pray in tongues. If you have not yet received this wonderful gift, ask one of us to pray for you.

·       Worship – put on some of our worship or go to YouTube and worship along with some of the songs you are familiar with. Let your heart become open and transparent before Jesus. Practice being 100%  with him.

·       Write down what he says to you.

As you do this every day. If you do this for 20 min each day you would have spent approximately 10 hours in the Word each month. You will see the difference in your life.

The word will transform you. The Word is Jesus. His presence and His word are a powerful combination that will transform you from inside out.

SO WHAT DO I DO?
         Stay committed, stay focused, stay persistent.
        Do not give up. Do not get distracted.
        Yield to the loving pruning of God
         Stay in fellowship, in connection, in communion in covenant with Jesus.
        When we live like this there is bound to be fruit that counts.

To listen/read Part 1  click here


 Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has 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.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.