Tuesday, December 3, 2019

When the Eternal stepped into the transient | Abhishek B

This message was preached by  Abhishek B at  Word of Grace Church on December 1st, 2019. To listen/download the audio please click here

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It is the 1st of December, which means ITS CHRISTMAS!!!,  It is the most wonderful time of the year!
Traditionally, the 4 weeks before Christmas are known as the “Advent”, Advent: is the fact of an event happening or a person arriving.(definition)
We of course are going to celebrate Christmas, along with millions of people across the world, and in the coming days all aspects of this “coming/arrival” will be celebrated, and rightly so, and no doubt we will hear about the “How”- Tableau/Virgin Birth, the Where- O little town of Bethlehem, there will be a recounting of all the stories associated with the Birth of Christ. And all of these have a certain glory, but it all fades in the light of the glory of the One who came- Jesus Christ. (eg- If Sachin comes in his Ferrari, there is some glory of the car, but not as much as Sachin)
We are looking at
- Who?- Whose arrival are we talking about
- Why?- Why He came.
- What? - What his coming means to us.


THE ETERNAL ONE
John 1: 1 &14
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ- the maker of heaven and earth, the creator, as it says in Colosians-1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones and dominions or principalities or power. All things were created through Him and for Him.
He is Eternal, Everlasting, forever Exalted- Lord of Hosts, King of kings, and He chose to lower himself.
If you were here a few weeks ago, I had spoken about the Love of God which made him come for us and the Joy that was set in front of him for which he lowered himself.
What amazing love! And how privileged are we! We are the subjects of His love. It is for us, for you and me that He came. It was purposed by God from the beginning- 1 Pet 1:20- He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

(Transition from 1st point to 2nd point-??)

THE MOMENT THAT CHANGED IT ALL - GOOD NEWS (can think of another header?)**
Luke 4:17-19, Isaiah 61: 1-2
And he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, and when He had opened the book, He found the place, where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Verse 21: Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing


Jesus’ coming in his own words was so that we could receive the Good news of Liberty, of healing from the pain of a broken heart.

Gospel : We were separated from God and his Love, the fall of the man brought death- separation from God, we were alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works (Col 1:21). but praise be to God that he sent His Son to reconcile us with Him. We are now elevated to an amazing position as 1 Pet 2:9-10 says
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His OWN SPECIAL people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Who once were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
So you are His SPECIAL people, no longer alienated, no longer without mercy.
That the significance of Jesus’ coming for us, the moment He stepped into the transient, changed history, changed our lives forever. We would never have made it into the presence of God, we would never have known God if it wasn’t for His son Jesus Christ who came as a man for us.

Healing:
There are 2 greek words used for ‘Broken Hearted’ is:
-           syntetrimmenous: Its a difficult word to pronounce, it means to crush completely, to shatter, break in pieces, broken to shivers. Basically, it means to be broken to a point, where it is not possible to be broken further.
-           kardian: which means the heart, the thoughts or feelings and also by analogy ‘the middle’
Jesus came to heal people who have nothing left to be broken further, to heal the emotional pain of people.


Freedom:
The word used for Captives in the greek paints a picture of a prisoner of war, the word used there is that of a Spear. The image is of a prisoner of war walking and being held at the tip of the spear, who cant move anywhere else without being poked by the spear.
So we were prisoner, and could not try to come out from the kingdom of darkness, could not do any good even if we wanted to, but Jesus came to transform us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light, to free us to do the good works prepared for us to do.

Recovery of Sight:
The word used for blind means murky vision, so those who are in the world and looking for God have a murky vision, they don’t have a clear vision of who God is and what He has done for you, Jesus came to show the world who God is, He is the visible image of the invisible God.



HOPE- (Positive expectation)

We heard Navaz talking about Hope last week, about how we as believers have Hope, which is different from the world, where theirs is just a wish, our is a positive expectation.
The Good news of the Advent of Christ, and His Cross has given us a living hope. So this morning I want to again encourage you
- if you are broken-hearted: Jesus came to heal you.
- if you are in despair- Jesus came to proclaim the good news to you
- if you are oppressed- Jesus came to set you free and to give you the liberty
- if you are struggling with any addictions- Jesus came to set you free of those addictions
- if you feel ordinary- Jesus came to make you HIS Special people.
- if you are sick- Jesus came to heal you. (Isa 53)
- if you are yet blind as in you don’t know who God is- Jesus came to show you the Father, He is the image of the invisible God.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

An Eternal Living Hope

This message was preached by Navaz D at Word ofGrace Church on November 24th, 2019. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here

 AN ETERNAL LIVING HOPE - FINAL
There are some truths more important in life than others. Not every truth is on the same plane and it has a different effect on us

Eg) America lies in the northern hemisphere. True or false? You will get burnt if you put your hand in the fire. True or false? Both statements are true but they hold different values for us.
I am going to read a few scriptures.

Heb 6:19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
Rom 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame/disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us
Ps 39:7 My hope is in you
Ps 62:5 Rest in God alone O my soul for my hope comes from Him.
1Cor 13:13 And now these three things remain – faith , hope and love…
Colossians 1:27 Christ in you the hope of glory
1Pet 1: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This brings me to my topic. “  An Eternal Living Hope ”
Paul in 1 Cor 13:13  said now these 3 things remain: faith, hope, and love. Why did he pick these 3 and not prayer or evangelism etc?
Faith – because without it we can’t see God and cannot experience new birth and most importantly cannot please God.
Love – because it is the first, greatest and the new commandment to not only love God, but to also love one another. Without love, everything amounts to nothing.
Hope Why Hope? Have you thought about it? I have been pondering on this for a few weeks now.

Lets look at 1Peter 1:3-8
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Because we believe in Jesus we have a living Hope and an inheritance that will never spoil not fade.

WHAT IS HOPE?
The oxford dictionary says Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
Wanting something to happen or be the case. A feeling of trust.

While the above are true and even used in the bible, the biblical usage of the word hope is this.

Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future — it expects it to happen. And it not only expects it to happen — it is confident that it will happen. There is a moral certainty that the good we expect and desire will be done.

What or who you hope in is important.

So the object of our hope is important.
The object of our HOPE is in the truth that God is eternal, immortal, unchanging, infallible and constant. Our Hope is something that should not waver because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.

 Faith and hope to work together. Rom 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,
In other words, whenever faith in God looks to the future, it can be called hope. And whenever hope rests on the word of God, it can be called faith. John Piper

Nothing has taken him by surprise, and never will.  Not even the fall of his most beautiful creation- us.
Salvation was not a plan B. Hope has always been anchored in eternity. Hope was defined in eternity past before the foundations of the world were laid.
We know this because in Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

So HOPE was birthed before doubt destroyed the divine destiny God has for the pinnacle of his creation – us.

If you make any finite object your hope viz.  money, career, relationship, job you can loose hope when these things are stripped away from you. Hope anchored in anything temporal is hopeless.

That is why a living hope that will never die is what we need.

WHAT DOES HOPE DO?
1.   Hope brings perspective just as hopelessness does.
Victor Franklin who survived the concentration camps in Germany during WWII said the ones that gave up hope are the ones that did not survive.
Christians are different from any other being on the planet because of this one but very vital truth in our lives called HOPE. Not any hope – it is an ETERNAL LIVING HOPE

Why is it important?

Eg) Two men were hired to do the same job. One was paid Rs 10,000 and the other 10 lakhs. After a couple of months, the one who was paid 10k started to grumble and complain.  They were experiencing the same situation but they had different outlooks. Their outlook was colored by their future expectations.

What we believe about our future controls how we experience the present.

ETERNAL LIVING HOPE is at the core of the gospel. The gospel is not about good ethics and living right. If that were all, we don’t need the Christian faith as there are many religions with good ethics being taught.

This ETERNAL LIVING HOPE is certain – It is of no value if you are not sure. The resurrection of Jesus is the way to be certain. It achieved its purpose. The cross paid the demands of sin, therefore, the resurrection.

2. Hope gives meaning to life
 that suffering can try and take away from us.
V6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Peter was writing to people who were suffering a great deal for their faith. Some were killed, tortured, property confiscated etc.

He tells them to rejoice because this suffering is but for a little while and that, their coming through the fire of trials will result in them getting V7.  Praise glory and honor from Jesus himself.

Trails and suffering open up the human soul and expose
its foundations. Life only has meaning if we have hoped that even death cannot destroy.

HOW DO WE GET THIS ETERNAL, IMPERSIHABLE, LIVING HOPE?
 We get this through Jesus our living hope.

HOPE AND SUFFERING
 The word suffering is the same word used to describe Jesus suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was saying that his soul was crushed with agony and suffering.

Peter says you can suffer and experience joy at the same time because you have not put your hope in circumstances. Jesus sweated drops of blood and cried for the cup to be taken away. There was no pretense and false bravado.

 When you run away from facing hurt and sorrow, you refuse to allow yourself to grieve and you get angry and harden your heart through indifference or anger, which can make you bitter or cynical

When we face our sorrow, it softens us and makes us compassionate.
Imagine Jesus endured suffering for the joy and hope set before him. Jesus did not endure the cross to get a crown. His prize was our redemption. That is what he died and suffered for i.e the joy of seeing that spurred him on. Is 53:11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,  and he will bear their iniquities.

We are Jesus’ living hope and He is our living Hope. So when our lives are deeply hidden in Christ he becomes our living hope that transcends time, trials and tears.

CONCLUSION
Peter is asking us to greatly rejoice in this fact that when we have overcome all this we will receive praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed and the end of all things has come.

We will be able to endure hardships, sickness, loss, and all kinds of injustices and problems because we have an eternal perspective to everything that we go through here on earth.

We know that nothing we go through is in vain. There is an eternal living Hope – to be united with Jesus, to be with Him in paradise where there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears.

There are crowns awaiting us, mansions prepared and cities to rule and all this for enduring a few years on earth for a life with Jesus that will go on forever and ever.

This my friends is the Eternal Living Hope – Jesus himself. And as if that were not enough, he has rewards to give us as well.

Have you anchored in the Eternal Living Hope? Let us remind ourselves and encourage each other with this truth.




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. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Where is your treasure? | Austine K

This message was preached by  Austine K at Word of Grace Church on November 17th , 2019. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and propheticcontributions please click here


Matthew 6:25 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing

“THEREFORE” This word always takes us back to the previous thoughts.
The thought here is laying up treasures on earth where moth and rust can destroy it or in heaven where it is indestructible. The context of this passage is on giving. Jesus also talks about the two masters - God and money and man cannot love both masters, he must despise one and be devoted to the other.

Do you think Jesus is telling us not to save money? Or not to invest? Or that we have to be poor? Absolutely not! We know from the parable of the talents and other places in the Bible that we are expected to be wise with our money and God has given us the ability to produce wealth. What this passage is really talking about is putting money before God. When we don’t give into the kingdom of God we allow our money to be the first priority before God and money becomes our idol. But sometimes when we give, it causes us to be anxious because of our circumstances. 


Q) Who doesn’t get anxious?
I’m sure everyone does in different phase of life. They may get anxious about exams, jobs, marriages, children, house rent, taxes and other bills.

Jo and I were anxious few months ago about job, finance, children, buying a home, car. She was getting an opportunity to work with the UN in the UK and Dubai and they were willing to offer me a job. It was an easy way out to go there, earn money and get all these things that we want.

Now God is not against all these things for us because He likes to bless but we felt God asked us to put our roots down here, serve the church and we know that in time to come God will bless. When You devote yourself to love and serve God, anxious thoughts will also come. That’s why Jesus emphasizes “Do not be anxious” 5 times. But there is a peace that comes with obedience and with obedience comes the security of God’s blessing. This is a security we don’t have to work or strive for, it comes from knowing that when God asks you to do something he will also Provide. 

Last Sunday Colin spoke about the wise and foolish builder. The wise man listens to the word of God and puts it into practice and by doing so he builds his house on the rock, the foolish man listens to the word of God and doesn’t do anything about it and he builds his house on the sand. They both face the same problems in life and during these trials the house that was built on the rock stands and the house built on the sand crashes down. Similarly we’ve got to build our life like the wise builder by being obedient to the word of God so we can build a house on the rock by giving into God’s kingdom without worry or anxiety or we can keep our treasure for ourselves and build a house on the sand.

Q) How can you overcome anxiety?
1) Look to the creation
2) Ponder upon God’s faithfulness
3) Seek first the Kingdom of God

1) Look to the creation
Matthew 6:26-30 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

The birds don’t plant gardens or fields, nor do they harvest crops, they don’t store food in the barns, yet our Heavenly Father feeds them.
They are not his children, nor is He their Father. He is their creator.
If He feeds the birds which are not His children, how much more will He feed His child? You are more valuable than they. They only have a creator – that is creation relationship, you have a father – that is a son or daughter relationship.
What good does anxiety do? Secondly, which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life. Anxiety leads to health problems like Depression, Panic attacks, cardiovascular disease, High BP, breathlessness; and so much more. Instead of adding, anxiety can reduce our lifespan.
Jesus asked, why are you worried about clothing when the cure is look to the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, they do not raise a cotton crop, they do not spin. The ladies used to have to make their own material before they could even make their clothes. They used to have what was known as spinning wheels, where they would spin the wool or cotton into yarn or thread then weave the yarn in the loom to make the garment they were proposing to make. Lillies are beautiful red and white and so many beautiful colors. Consider this: Solomon in all his glory and wealth was not beautifully clothed as the lilies in the field.
So when anxiety starts to overcome you, look to the creation and ponder on how God cares for everything he has created.
This brings me to my next point and that is

2) Ponder upon God’s faithfulness
Last year, before our wedding Jo and I were anxious about a lot of things. We were concerned about finances and finding a flat, visa and families coming together and furniture and everything that we had to manage. This year we have a new bunch of things that we are concerned about, but we know that God was more than faithful to us last year. He blessed us abundantly and we know that he is the same God and he will take us through once again. Anxiety is a never ending cycle but when you look back on your life, you will be able to see God’s faithfulness.

 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

So our Father knows what we need and has known it through all the generations. He is a good Father and has always provided. So when Satan tries to make you anxious, remind him of how he’s been defeated in the past and what his future is!

  1. Seek first the kingdom
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This means above everything else - seeking the Kingdom should be our highest priority. 

What is the Kingdom of god - it is the will of God being expressed. It is Gods government, his rule and his authority and seeking the Kingdom of God is simply being obedient to the will of the Father. It often means dying to yourself and being obedient. 

So what does this mean?
It means putting God’s will above your own.

Let’s look at the example of Moses. He constantly sought the will of the Lord. God told Moses to take the Israelites out of Egypt. Now this was an insecure path looking at the physical realm. They are walking away from security into an unknown land but Moses understood that His security came from obedience to God and not life in the palace and so for every need big or small he would run back to God and say God, what would you have me do? So when there was no way and enemies were behind them God parted the seas. When there was no water, God gave it from a rock. When there was no food God sent quail and manna in the desert. When there was no compass God himself went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. 

“In modern day Moses would say i can’t find parking, please show me a parking spot. One day he will say my gps is not working then God will say look to the clouds”

Moses was seeking the will of the Father in every decision he had to make.

We need to ask ourselves this question What is the will of the Father in my life?

*I want to get married to this person, what is the will of the Father?

*I want to relocate to another city, what is the will of the Father?

*I’m struggling with my colleagues and I want to change my job, what is the will of the Father?

*I believe in Jesus but I don’t want to get water baptized? what is the will of the Father?

*I’ll come to church but I won’t connect with people, 
what is the will of the Father?

*I’m struggling this month so I won’t tithe, what is the will of the Father?

So we’ve got to a people who love God and obey his commands.

What do you mean by seeking His righteousness?
When you seek the will of the Father, you chase righteousness. Seeking the kingdom of God and righteousness goes hand in hand. 

Proverbs 15:9The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who pursues righteousness.” 

So we’ve got to be people who pursue righteousness in everything we do.

We see this example in Jesus life. 

John 6:38
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Jesus went about doing the will of the Father and proclaiming the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders. Jesus knew that he was going to die a painful and horrific death and yet he prayed to the Father let not my will but your will be done. He was obedient to the will of the Father to the point of death even death on the cross. 

Jesus daily spent time conversing with the Father and that’s how he was able to imitate Him. God calls us sons and daughters and Jesus is our role model, just like Jesus we need to spend time conversing with the Father so that we can know in our lives what his will is for us. 

So for example when Jesus says give and do not be anxious, irrespective of the circumstance, give in faith that He will provide for all your needs. There’s no need to be anxious about your provisions when you’ve been obedient to the will of the Father. 

Anxiety is faith in the wrong Kingdom. When you are anxious it is difficult to seek the kingdom of God. It stems from a lack of faith in God and from A wrong focus on the things of this world instead of on the things God. We need to set our mind not on the things of the world but on the things of God. 

Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek first the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

As you feed on God’s word, you will be freed. Faith will eliminate anxiety. Faith comes from hearing and meditating on the Word of God. Are you feeding on anxious thoughts or Gods word?

So to summarize, you can either seek the kingdom of God and store up treasures in heaven or serve the master of money and store up treasures on earth. So when you feel anxious, look to the creation and his providence - how he has provided for them from the beginning till now. Ponder on his faithfulness and how he has been good to you all these years and most importantly prioritize seeking first the Kingdom of God. 

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.