Thursday, December 10, 2020

Make Way For The King

 

This message was preached by Colin DCruz via zoom at Word Of Grace Church on  December 6th 2020. for the audio please click here.  TO listen to the worship please click here

Sometimes we get so used to celebrating Christmas that we lose the meaning of Jesus’s birth. Today, we are going to look at Luke chapter 1.

Before that let’s look at Galatians

Galatians 4:4 - But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

What is the fullness of time?

There are certain things that were needed to be fulfilled.

Isaiah 40:3 - A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.

The prophetic word of somebody coming before Jesus was fulfilled by John the Baptist.


John 1:19 - 19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[c] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.”

Who’s the greatest? John the Baptist? Moses? Or Elijah?

Matt 11:11 - 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 

So, today, if you are a follower of Christ, then you are greater than John the Baptist.

This Christmas, let us rejoice in everything that God has for us in store. We are great not because of anything that we have done but because of God’s love.

Luke 1:5-7 - In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

These verses say that there was a priest names Zecharaiah and he belonged to the priestly division. What does that mean?

Zecharaiah was a descendent of Levi tribe. The Levis were chosen to be priests. Those days God’s presence was in the holiest of the holies. Not every priest was allowed to go inside. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the inner most court.

In the passage, we see that Zechariah was a priest and his wife was Elizabeth. Both of them observed all God’s decrees blamelessly. But there was one problem. Elizabeth was barren and also old in her age. Those days, being barren was considered as a curse.

Luke 1:9-9 - Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

Here, we see that Zecharaiah was on duty as a priest before God.

To be chosen to go inside and light the incense is a great honor and that opportunity comes only once a year, that too by casting lots. Some would have never gotten a chance to enter God’s presence and burn the incense.

With Jesus and His sacrifice, we can go into the holiest of the holies. Even the gentiles have a chance to enter God’s presence, approach boldly God’s throne to receive His grace and mercy.

We don’t have a temple. We are God’s temple.  Are you serving God is any way? Zecharaiah, descendant of Levi tribe, got this privilege to serve God. Others from other tribes didn’t have that privilege.

When we used to meet as a church at Ashirwad Hall, there were different teams serving in different areas. For example, the Setup team. They are there every Sunday morning, setting up things, cleaning, arranging etc. They recognize the temple of God and that’s how they served.

Even now, as we meet online, there are different people working behind every Sunday Meeting.

So, do you want to serve? If yes, speak to me.

Luke 1:11 - 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense

This is very significant.

Firstly, the angels are not small naked babies with wings. Angels are mighty. Every time an angel appeared to someone, they got scared and thus the angel said “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid”

The angel God placed at the entrance of the garden of Eden had a sword in is hand.

Secondly, an angel appeared for the first time after 400 years.

If we actually go through the Bible, we see 2 periods of 400 years of silence.

1st – The end of Genesis and beginning of Exodus.

2nd – After Malachi, 400 years passed away, and an angel appeared to Zecharaiah

For our personal application –

Let us ask ourselves – Are we hearing from God daily? It may not be angelic. But we hear him through His Word. We read His Word and ask Him to speak to us. Let’s be a people of Word.

Col 3:16 - 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

We have GYMs, Videos, Audios etc. Let’s make use of all these resources.

Luke 1:13 - 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John

From this verse, we understand that Zecharaiah and Elizabeth had been praying for a child especially a son so that he could pass on the priesthood. God steps in, angel appears and thus their prayer was answered.

We know that God is good. We put our trust in Him. We know that He works everything for our good in His perfect time. Even if we don’t see an answer, we need to continue praying faithfully and fervently. Whatever the prayer is, don’t give up. Continue to pray, continue to declare God’s promises and hold onto to God.

John means gracious gift.

Luke 1:14 - 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,

Luke 1:16 - 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.

Mal 4:5 - “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.

So, after 400 years, the prophesy came true.

John is special –

1.     God supernaturally healed Elizabeth and answered her prayer

2.     John was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in his mother’s womb

Luke 1:41 - 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

What an amazing calling upon John! He had a very limited time to prepare the way for Jesus.

We need to be a channel for people so that they’d know Jesus. Pray for them. As John the Baptist had his ministry, we have our ministry to do too. It is to pray for people who are yet to be saved., share the gospel with them. The true meaning of Christmas is gospel but not just the decorations.

Luke 1:18-20 - 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

For us, we can get depressed looking at the things that are going bad. God wants us to look to His Word. Continue to confess and declare the Word of God. Whenever you get doubt or thoughts of despair, we have a privilege which the Old Testament people didn’t have. So, let’s get a hold of the GYMs, worship evenings, Men’s prayer etc. Whatever be your prayer, confess it, declare it and hold onto it.

    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, December 1, 2020

The Great Escape

  


This message was preached by Andrew DCruz via zoom at Word Of Grace Church on November 29th 2020. for the audio please click here


Exodus 12:31, 13 & 14 The Exodus and Crossing of the Read Sea

 We will be looking at a very interesting part of the journey of the Israelites entering the Promised Land.

Significant event before the Exodus: The Passover.

Exodus 12 is a dark and grim time in Egypt.

 “The Exodus” starts at verse 31 of chapter 12 where Moses and Aaron were summoned to Pharaoh’s palace where Pharaoh says “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go worship the Lord as you have requested… And also bless me.”

 Pharoh. was not the only one who wanted the Israelites to leave. The Egyptians urged the Israelites to leave as well, saying “For otherwise, we will all die!” (v33)

 

The Israelites, upon leaving, took articles of gold and silver from the Egyptians because “The Lord had made the Egyptians favourably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for….  (v35-36)

Result: Egypt was plundered!

 

How long were the Israelites in Egypt for? 430 years! (v40)

 

  1. 430 years in slavery is a long time. This means that at least 2 if not 3 generations were born in slavery. Those born in slavery did not know freedom. They did not know anything but slavery!
    Parallel: We were all born in the slavery of sin. It didn't matter that we were “just born”
  2. The mentality of the Israelites coming out of Egy. was one of dumbstruck/awestruck/is this a dream? Experiencing freedom for the first time in their lives.
  3. Later on we see more of the slave mentality. Infant thinking. Unable to have the faith for yet another miracle.

 

Exodus 13:

Consecration of the Firstborn:

Similar to tithing. The first male of every offspring was to be set apart as it belongs to the Lord (13:2)

 

Redeem every firstborn among your sons: We were bought with a price. The Egyptians lost their firstborns and Israel’s first borns were redeemed by blood through the sacrifice of the firstborn of every animal for the firstborn for each son (13:15)

Parallel: Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, was sacrificed not just for the redemption of the firstborns, but for the second and third, born, the male and female.

 

Crossing the Sea

God knew the mentality of the Israelites. He knew that they were not ready for war. The renewal of their mind was not complete. The trust that Jesus has your back, that he has called you for a purpose, that you were redeemed for a reason, was not fully clear to them yet.

 

“God did not lead the people on the road through the Philistine country even though it  shorter, For God said, “if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egy.” (13:17)

 

Amazing presence of God:

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or night.

Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” (13:21-22)

Parallel - In the OT there was no Holy Spirit. After the ascension of Jesus to heaven, he gave us the HS which lives in us day, and night.

 

The Israelites saw with their own eyes a physical manifestation of God! The God they worshipped was not an “out of context, theory only” God. They saw the pillars of cloud and fire.

 

Exodus 14:

 

God’s great plan: Then the Lord said to Moses “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this. (14:2-4)

 

Egypt was a superpower during that time. They had the military equipment, the fast chariots and horses, steel weapons and were a mighty force. The Israelites up until this point were slaves. They did not know how to fight. They did not have any sophisticated weaponry.

 

As soon as the Israelites saw the Egyptians their first response to the crisis was to be terrified. The next response and probably the worse of the two, was to blame Moses, saying “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (14:11-12)

 

Moses had the vision and faith to trust in the Lord, and said: “The Lord will fight for you”.

There are multiple instances in the Bible where the Lord chooses to use dire situations for his glory, so we may exalt him and praise him. Those situations seem impossible for us to overcome, but by the grace of God, we would not be able to do it.

 

The Israelites needed to see victory, but a victory that was permanent. A victory which showed them that the Lord their God was with them. For the battles yet to come were far greater. The battle of the mind in the desert, the battle of taking hold of the promise of God and invading Cannan. The battle of Jerico.

 

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (14:-15-16)

 

The Lord has a sense of humour. It was “obvious” to him that they would have to go through the red sea.

Explain my life situation: Press 7 instead of 0 like as if it's obvious.

 

The purpose of the red sea:

  1. Show the Israelites that the Lord is the deliverer
  2. Show the Egyptians that the Lord is the only true God.
  3. Gain glory through the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.

 

Events that happened:

  1. Angel of the Lord separated the Israelites from the Egyptians. ‘Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.’
  2. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.
  3. The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea.
  4. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.
  5. The recognition: And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
  6. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.”
  7. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
  8. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.



   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. 

How To Split Your Red Sea

 

This message was preached by Andrew DCruz via zoom at Word Of Grace Church on November 29th 2020. for the audio please click here

How to split your Red sea?

The red sea represents the various troubles we face in this life. It could be a sickness, a marital issue, a job-related issue, a financial issue or any other issue. Whatever it may be, we all face our own Red sea in this life which briefly halts our journey. Bible doesn’t promise a trouble-free life. However, we can overcome these troubles. So, how to split our Red sea? We will see how in this message.

God sent ten plagues upon Egyptians and brought Israelites out of Egypt. Today, we see the beginning of their journey towards the Promised land.

 

By the end of the tenth plague, Pharaoh who was not letting the Israelites leave Egypt, himself asked them to leave Egypt (Exodus 12:31). So, the Israelites began their journey out of Egypt. They were 6 lakh men excluding women and children (Exodus 12:37). In 430 years, the Israelites grew from 75 (Acts 7:14) to 6 lakh men. This is a supernatural growth.

 

As they were leaving, God gave them some instructions regarding eating Passover meal and consecrating to God firstborn male whether Human or Animal. We can see Jesus in these instructions.

 

In Exodus 12:43-44, God says, ‘Uncircumcised foreigner must not eat Passover meal’. Similarly, only those with circumcised heart, i.e. only believers should take part in Holy communion.

 

In Exodus 12:46, God says, ‘Bones of the Passover lamb must not be broken’. Similarly, not even a single bone of Jesus, our Passover lamb, was broken (John 19:36).

 

In Exodus 13:13, God asks Israelites to redeem every firstborn of a donkey, which is an unclean animal, with a lamb. Similarly, Jesus redeemed us, unclean sinners, through His death on the cross.

 

During the journey, Lord went ahead of the Israelites.

 

Exodus 13:21 NIV

Lord himself went ahead of them during the day in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and during the night in a pillar of fire to give them light.

 

Pillar of fire gave light to the Israelites during the night. Similarly, Jesus is the true light who gives us light (John 1:9).

 

Lord could have taken them through the Philistine country which was the shorter route to the Promised land. But Israelites didn’t have the faith to face a war with the philistine giants and God knew they would change their mind and return to Egypt. So, He took them through a longer route to the Red sea (Exodus 13:17).

 

When they reached the Red sea, God reveals His plan to Moses. God does nothing without revealing His plans to His prophets (Amos 3:7).

The Lord asked Israelites to camp near the Red sea. Lord revealed to Moses that He wanted Pharaoh to pursue the Israelites, thinking that they are wandering around in confusion (Exodus 14:1-3). He did this to display His glory by destroying the Egyptian army and let Egyptians know He is the Lord.

 As per the plan, Pharaoh and his army pursue Israelites. Seeing the enemy approaching the Israelites freaks out. They started complaining to Moses (Exodus 14:11-12).

 Moses asks them to be still and see the salvation of the Lord. The Lord asks Moses to raise his staff and stretch his hand over the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13-17).

 Meanwhile, Lord who was travelling in front in a pillar of cloud comes between Israelites and the Egyptian army thereby protecting the Israelites. During the night, the cloud was darkness to the Egyptian army and was light to the Israelites (Exodus 14:19-20). Similarly, to the non-believers, Jesus is the rock on which they stumble and to the believers, same rock is their cornerstone – the foundation of their faith.

 Moses did as Lord commanded him. He raised his staff and stretched his hand over the Red sea and the Lord parted the Red sea making a dry way through the sea. The Israelites moved forward through the dry ground. The Egyptian army also followed them into the sea (Exodus 14:21-23).

 When the Israelites crossed the Red sea, Lord asked Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. As Moses obeyed, the sea went back to its place drowning the entire Egyptian army (Exodus 14:26-28).

This crossing of the Red sea is a picture of water baptism. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, Paul says that the Israelites were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. After the Israelites were brought out from the Kingdom of Egypt, they went through the sea. Similarly, we believers after we are brought out from the Kingdom of darkness i.e. after we are saved, we are to take water baptism.

 So, Lord not only saved Israelites from Egypt, He destroyed the Egyptian army. After the Red sea crossing, He sends them into the wilderness to destroy the Egypt inside them.

Lessons to be learned from this.

 

1. The Lord guides us.

 

The Lord led the way of the Israelites.

 

Exodus 13:18a NIV - So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.

 

He went before them day and night (Exodus 13:21).

 

Even we, children of God are led by the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:14 NIV - For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

 

So, we should always walk in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is the wisest person in the whole universe. His wisdom is far above our wisdom. He knows everything from the beginning till the end. So, He is the best person who can guide us and counsel us.

 

2. The Lord protects us.

 

Lord came between the Egyptian army and Israelites to protect Israelites.

 

Exodus 14:19-20 NIV -

19 Then the angel of God, who had been travelling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side, so neither went near the other all night long.

 

The Lord is a fortress for those who abide in Him.

 

Psalms 91:1-3 NIV -

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

 

When we abide in our Lord, we need not be afraid of anything that could harm us. This doesn’t mean we abide in Him to remain safe. We abide in Him because we know His love, and we love Him, and so we want to abide in Him.

 

3. The Lord makes a way.

 

The Lord split the Red Sea and made a way for the Israelites through the sea.

 

Exodus 14:21-22 NIV -

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

 

The Lord makes a way where there seems to be no way.

 

Isaiah 43:19 NIV -

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

Whatever may be the trouble we are facing; God will make a way for us to come out of that trouble.

 

So, how to split our red sea?

The Lord is the one who splits our Red sea.

 

Is there anything we should do to split our Red sea?

 

We only need to: -

 

(a)    Be still.

 

Moses asked Israelites to be still.

 

Exodus 14:13-14 NIV -

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

 

What does it mean ‘to be still’?

‘Be still’ means to be calm and have peace even though the trouble still exists.

 

How to be still?

 

Psalms 46:10a NIV -

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God

 

(i)               Know that He is God and Know His heart.

 

In other words, know that we are not God. God is the one who is going to split our red sea. He is the almighty God and He is able. Nothing is impossible for Him.

 

He is a Good Father and He is willing to part our red sea. He will make a dry way for us through our red sea. The red sea is not to drown us. It is to drown our enemies. It is to display His glory. It is for a testimony.

 

(ii)              Remember our testimonies and promises.

 

What God has done in the past; He will do it again. Our testimonies build our faith to face our Red sea.

 

What God has promised; He will surely accomplish. Unaccomplished promises of God give us the confidence that we won’t perish in the Red sea we are currently facing.

 

(iii)            Seek help – We should be ready to take help when we are struggling. Seek God’s help in prayer and go to a believer who is still when we are struggling to be still.

 

(b)   Hear from God.

 

We don’t know whether Israelites were able to be still. But Moses was still, and he heard from God what he should do when the Egyptian army was approaching (Exodus 14:15-16). After we are still, we should enquire God what we should do to split our Red sea. May be, He will ask us to wait or Maybe, He will ask us to use our authority. Either way, He will split our red sea.

 

(c)    Obey what He says.

 

Moses obeyed what the Lord asked him to do (Exodus 14:21). We should obey what He asks us to do and we will see our Red sea split.

 

Following verse summarizes the entire message.

 

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

 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.