Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Overcoming Challenges In The Early Church | Lessons From The Early Church



This message was preached by Colin Dr via zoom  Word of Grace Church, on July 26 2020. For the audio please click here. For the worship please click here

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES IN THE EARLY CHURCH

There was a time of supernatural growth. Acts 2:42, 4:4, 5:14 and on and on and one. Would you have wanted to be a part of that church?
However, in the middle of this move of the Spirit and Word it was not a perfect church. Some people are looking for the perfect church.

Charles SpurgeonIf I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.”

ACT6:1-7
The great threat the church was facing here was food! Can you imagine that? They were fighting over a leg of chicken as it were.
What were the challenges the church faced?

1.    Greek widows felt neglected. This was a large church. The church was split on linguistic line i.e Greek and Hebrews. The Greek widows were not getting reactions. Today in this pandemic people are facing problems. We have all kinds of mindsets.

Some of them are:
Divorce mindset – When something goes wrongs we leave and find another church. The Greek widows did not have this mindset even though there was a problem. How did they handle it? They brought it up to the leaders. It came to the notice of the leadership.
Matt 18:15. If your brother sins against you. This is what they did.

Indian mindset – talk to everyone else but the person
We need to be a part of the solution and not the problem. Acts 6:3 choose 7 and full of the Spirit and wisdom.

The Greek believers were made a part of the solution. They got involved to sort out the problem. That is the biblical mindset.

Consultant – maybe some people come into the church like this. They tell what to do but will not help. They will find fault with everything.

Consumer - They treat the church as a Restaurant. They scope the church as if it’s a restaurant for what is on the menu. They come with the mindset that their needs should be met by the church. In a family, we all chip in and help to serve and cook the food.

2.   Some people expect the leadership to do everything
To be effective everyone needs to carry the load and not just the main leader

We have an enemy who lives to deceives us. He shows us something shiny, John8:44, that is actually worthless. They choose seven men. How did they choose them? They were wise and spirit-filled.

We may think that this is a menial job but not in the kingdom. Stephen and Philip were among them (v8).
Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. He did miraculous signs.
Acts7 Stephen preached a brilliant sermon and became the first martyr. Acts6:15 His face was like that of an angle.

Chapter 7:59  Stephen died like Jesus. He forgave his persecutors. 

The Bible records the life of Philip.
Acts 8:4  Philip went to Samaria- saw the miracles, cast out demons, healed the cripple- great joy in the city.
Acts8:26 Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. The church was growing but were challenges. Whenever we face challenges, we have a choice how we respond.

Be a part of the solution rather than the problem.
As we serve god these are stepping-stones to begin greatly used by God. Satan will try to deceive you. Look for every opportunity you can grab to serve.

Don’t wait to be asked. Where is the need? How can you serve?
The result is the Word of God spread and the kingdom of God advanced rapidly.


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, July 21, 2020

For Your Sake Forgive


This message was preached by  Manesh Peter via zoom  Word of Grace Church , on the July 19 2020. For the audio please click here. 



“FOR YOUR SAKE, FORGIVE”
Text – Matthew 18:21-35
Pride is the root cause for all unforgiveness. Humility always precedes Forgiveness. In fact, we are easily offended, when we are proud.

We cannot avoid offences. Bible says offences will come.

Luke 17:1 NKJV - Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offences should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!

The Greek for the word ‘Offenses’ used in this verse also has the meaning ‘Stumbling block’, ‘Trap’.

So, offences are a trap from the enemy. Therefore, we should be quick to forgive. The speed with which we forgive is an indicator of our spiritual level.

In Hosea 6:6, God expresses His desire that we should show Mercy.

What is Mercy and Grace?
Mercy is not giving the punishment which the person deserves.
Grace is giving the blessings which the person doesn’t deserve.

The person who offended you deserves punishment. But you should not desire to punish that person. Instead, you should show the offender Mercy which he/she doesn’t deserve.

Forgive means to release the offender and to set him/her free.

According to Theologian Lewis Smedes – ‘To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that person was you’.

Yes, forgiveness sets us free.
Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the offender to die. It takes us away from God, gives inroads to Satan and causes Sickness.
In parable of Unmerciful Servant, Jesus gives a profound teaching on ‘Why should we forgive?’ and  

‘How should we forgive?’.

1.      Great is God’s Forgiveness.

Matthew 5:24-27 NIV
24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

 In Greek, the amount which servant actually owed the king is ten thousand talents. If the talents were gold, the current value of this debt would be more than 60,000 crores of Rupees. If the talents were silver, the current value of this debt would be more than 750 crores of Rupees. Either way it’s a huge debt that king forgave.

Similarly, God’s forgiveness is also huge.    
              
Colossians 2:13-14 NIV
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Great are our sins and yet God forgave all our sins. We were bought at a huge price – The suffering and death of God’s only begotten son Jesus (1Corinthians 6:20).

Some think that they have not done great sins. In jails, murderers hate rapists. They think they are better than rapists. Similarly, the thieves hate the murderers. They think they are better than murderers. One might feel Holy in comparison to another person. But in comparison to the Holy God, we are unholy, and we cannot have relationship with God without the finished work on the cross.

So, this gives us an irrefutable reason to forgive.

Why should we forgive?
#1 We have received great forgiveness.
Matthew 5:33 NIV - Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
As we have received great forgiveness from God, we don’t have the right to keep unforgiveness.

#2 Unforgiveness has consequences.
Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV - 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 
Unforgiveness is not the will of the Father and hence it gives inroads to the enemy and can cause sickness. However, all sicknesses are not due to unforgiveness.

2.      Forgive others as God forgave us.

Matthew 5:33 NIV - Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

Ephesians 4:32 NIV - Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Our forgiveness should be the way God forgave us.
How was God’s forgiveness?
#1 Free – We have been saved by Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). It’s a gift and we cannot achieve it through works.
#2 Complete – All our sins (Past, Present and Future) have been forgiven (Colossians 2:13).



So, how should be our forgiveness?
#1. Free – The King didn’t ask anything in return when he cancelled the servant’s debt (Matthew 18:27). So, we should forgive others unconditionally.
#2. Complete – The king cancelled the complete debt (Matthew 18:27). Similarly, we should forgive others completely.
#3. Without limits – Jesus asked Peter to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22) which means unlimited times.
#4. From our heart – Jesus says we should forgive from our heart (Matthew 18:35).

But, how can we forgive others from our heart?

#1. Ask God’s help – Holy Spirit is with us to help us and He helps us in our weakness. Pour out your heart to Him and seek His help when you are not able to forgive.
#2. Remember – All of us have sinned – Jesus says let the one who has not sinned cast the first stone (John 8:7).
#3. Remember - We have received forgiveness - As God has forgiven all our sins (Colossians 2:13), we don’t have the right to keep unforgiveness.
#4. Know the real enemy – If someone did something wrong to you, it is because he/she was deceived by the enemy. In Matthew 16, when Jesus said He would be killed, Peter replied that this will never happen to Him. Jesus response was ‘Get behind me, Satan’. Jesus was not calling Peter Satan. He knew the real enemy who influenced Peter into speaking against God’s will.
5. Pray for the person - Luke 6:28 says that we should bless and pray for the person who hurts us.  Pray for the person, all that you would pray for yourself.
“Do yourself a favour. For your sake, Forgive.”



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. 





Monday, July 20, 2020

Forgiveness A Gift To Myself


This message was preached by  Navaz D'Cruz via zoom  Word of Grace Church , on the July 19 2020. For the audio please click here. 

FORGIVENESS – A GIFT TO MYSELF
 TEXT: MATT 18:21-35

INTRODUCTION
What is a common human tendency? To get something for nothing and to give something demanding everything. Another would be “treat others as you don’t want to be treated”.

Jesus was having a chat with his disciples about the Kingdom of heaven. They wanted to know who is the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus tells them they need to come to him with childlike qualities of trust, freedom, humility.

Then Jesus goes on to tell them the value the Kingdom of heaven puts on each individual. He is not talking about people who are unsaved. These are sheep that belong to the shepherd. In Biblical language, God’s own is always referred to as sheep and the lost goats.

But sheep can also lose their way. God never leaves us nor forsakes us. He comes after us. I believe the next paragraph is a continuation of that discussion. Jesus gave a parable to explain the principle. He then goes on to talk about how it is put into practice. A brother has lost his way like the lost sheep and we have a responsibility to go after him and restore him to the fold.
Peter is working this out in his head. How many times do I have to go and talk to this guy? And again Jesus gives an answer and follows it’s with a story that we will be looking at more closely today.

THE PARABLE
 What is the Kingdom of heaven like? The players in this story are the King, a servant you can’t pay his debt, the servant's friends, others servants and tormentors.

The point Jesus is making is look at the amount of mercy and grace each one of us has received. Is there anything you can do to earn it? No !. Therefore we need to show mercy just as we have been shown mercy.

These days everyone wants a sugar-coated pill. Jesus did not worry that his words caused pain.  We live in a society that over medicates to avoid pain and reality.

Today’s message is a non-sugar coated pill. A surgeons job is to deal with the anomalies in your body even though cutting through your flesh etc. is going to cause you pain. Do you resist it? No. You know after a while you will be healed and whatever that was removed from your body needed to go for you to live healthy and long.

So let the Word of God that is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword or even a surgeon’s knife, do its work in your heart today.

Today we are going to look at Unforgiveness and Offence

Nothing affects us more than unforgiveness, offence and bitterness. It colours our judgement on everything and everyone we meet and not just the person we feel has sinned against us.
Jesus called us to a lifestyle of forgiveness. He said to forgive 70 times 70 every day!! This value is not a philosophy; it’s a principle that has to be practised. Philosophies never changed the heart.

When unforgiveness it not dealt with on a daily basis it starts to grow roots. Its called bitterness. Bill Johnson “says bitterness is murder in diapers.”

Bitterness can even blind you to the repentance of the other person.

WHAT IS UNFORGIVENESS?
Unforgiveness can happen to the best of us when we think we are better than others or feel entitled to be treated in a certain way. Phil 2:3 – think of others better than yourself.

Unforgiveness or offence  can occur when I jump to the wrong conclusions about a person’s behaviour.

We have unreal or unmet expectations of how others should treat us.

The Bible talks about picking dust from one’s brother’s eye while we have a huge tree bark jutting out of our own.

THE RESULT IS:
·      Often these people are blind to their own faults while expecting everyone else to toe their line.

·      They are slow to forgive and harbour unforgiveness for a long time.

·      They are not open to any feedback themselves They are fault finders with everyone.

·      When they take offence they often retreat or go cold on the friendship and are not interested in dialogue or reconciliation.

·      The end result is because of this negative behaviour pattern, people begin to avoid them and they feel rejected
·      They are unable to discern who are their true friends, hence never form deep relationships.

·      They can be controlling people because they want things to always go their way and have everyone toe their line.
·      Any criticism is taken as being against them personally and seeing as rejecting them personally.

·      Often time expectations are not voiced but they expect you to know and read their minds and when you don’t, offence is taken.

·      So you might encounter passive aggressive behaviour i.e I won’t do something I know you want me to do, and I will do something that you don’t like me doing.

·      In a church setting which is so much a part of my life I have seen this behaviour pattern as very dangerous and detrimental to the unity and harmony in the church family.

We are tormented -  We are tormented by bitter thoughts day and night. This could result in anxiety, fits of anger and rage, high blood pressure, headaches, and all kinds of illness as well. Not all illnesses are a result of unforgiveness.
Our families get tormented as well because our poison spills onto them and they become victims of my bitterness and unforgiveness. There is collateral damage.

WHAT DO WE DO?

FORGIVE. WHAT IS IT?

Jesus takes a serious view of unforgiveness In the Lord’s prayer we are taught to pray “ Forgive us as we forgive..”

 Then Jesus goes back to comment on this part of the prayer Matt6:14-15   For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 We have been forgiven all our sins. Jesus died in my place. He paid the penalty for my sin. HE does not deal with us as our sins deserve Ps 103:8.

Forgiveness does not make them right. It makes me free.

Forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself.

Forgiveness does not mean you don’t have a right to protect yourself especially in cases of abuse. You do not put yourself in harm's way.

Forgiveness does not mean I cannot talk to the person about the offence. In fact in Matt 18:15 we are encouraged to go and sort it out.

Forgiveness does not mean there won’t be consequences. The effects of the sin might still pan out.

WHAT IS THE REMEDY?

It is simple but not simplistic. It takes a battle of the mind not to fall into that terrible trap.

It takes courage to speak up and clear doubts.

It takes humility to hear what the other person has to say and receive it well.

It takes strength of character to have a sober judgment of oneself.

 It takes much grace and oodles of love and self sacrifice to appreciate others, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to let go petty issues.

 It takes fortitude to forgive even when none has been offended. Bless the person ( Luke 6:28). This forces us to get out of a philosophy mindset and put it into practice.

Release the debt permanently. Unilateral forgiveness. The car that ran over your foot is not coming back to heal you. The person who caused the hurt is rarely a part of the healing process.

Healing takes time- do not confuse it with unforgiveness.

WOW!!! How do I know this? Been there, done that.
But this looks like a list for a superheroes or something. Yes if tried in one’s own strength.

Thank God I don’t have to! The Bible tells me that Jesus was tempted in every way thereof is able to sympathize with my weakness.( Heb 4:5)

When I am tempted to sin He does provide me with a way out- an escape route and will not allow me to be tempted more than I can handle.(1Cor 10:13)

I need to remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

I can have victory over this problem. I have a choice – to be offended or not.

I also have a responsibility not to cause offence – that my speech is gentle and seasoned with salt, my behaviour is loving and kind at all times and I will be quick to forgive and not harbour ill in my heart. My prayer is that I would be a channel of peace.

Life is short. Let’s keep short accounts and be on the offensive about this offensive habit of taking offence!

LETS PRAY.
Are there people who have sinned against you? Forgive them
Are there people you have sinned against? Go and seek forgiveness.

Give yourself the gift to forgiveness today.
You can read more on Offence in this Blog written by Navaz
For a Blog on Forgiveness by Colin please 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.