Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Creating A Counterculture


This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on Aug 29th by Navaz D via zoom. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.



The last time I preached I introduced you to the topic of the Kingdom of God. We know Jesus came to usher in a Kingdom that was an upside-down kingdom.

My topic for today is Creating a counterculture.

Jesus described Kingdom culture and Christian character in this one passage of scripture popularly known as the Sermon on the Mount.

My text is Matt 5:1-3. But we will read from verse 1 to 11


A little about the author of this text. Matthew who was also called Levi is the author of this book. He was a tax collector by profession. Matthew is largely writing for a Jewish audience

In his writing Matthew makes several references to the OT to show the link between the Messiah they longed for and Jesus who was God incarnate


 In the gospel of Matthew, the Kingdom of heaven as he calls it was a main running motif.


God always wanted a unique people to be set apart for him. Israel were his chosen people. They were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles.” will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

These were familiar texts to the Jews.

Jesus was showing them how to really live it out.

 Matt 5 to 7 explains the kingdom culture making lots of reference to the Old Testament, saying you know this in your scriptures, but this is the real heart of the matter: the sermon on the mount is a treatise replete with phrases like “you have heard it said, but I say to you”… , or you believed and lived like this, but know I am telling you how it really should be done.

E.g.) 5:21 – You have heard about do not commit murder – but I say even if you are angry, it is murder

5:27- You have heard it say do not commit adultery – but I say even if you look with lust

This sermon ends in chapter 7. What Jesus is drawing their attention to is the heart of the matter. It is all about relationships and not rules. Love and forgiveness are the currency of this kingdom.

He emphasizes fruit Ch7:16 -20 By their fruit you will recognize them.

He ends with the parable of the wise and foolish builders once emphasising obedience.



Introducing a counterculture.

As I said earlier, Jesus came to usher in an upside-down kingdom.

As Christians, we are supposed to be the salt and light of this world.

Also, we do not belong to this world. We are in but not of it.

The Jews too forgot their “otherness” and consorted with the nations around them and took on the culture, practices and even worship of other gods.

We are supposed to create a counterculture too.


This is important to understand if we must understand the Sermon on the Mount. He was ushering this new kingdom that John the Baptist had told them about when he said “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand”.

The sermon on the mount is about returning to roots by turning away from all the adulteration of the law and returning to true righteous living.

The whole sermon on the mount can also be seen as a compare and contrast in style. The pagans live like this, or you have heard it said, but I say live like this. eg) the pagans pray like this, but you pray like this. The pagans run after riches, but you seek the kingdom.

Moses gave them the law on a mountain. Jesus gave them a life imparting counterculture on a mountain. It was not a set of laws like the 10 commandments. Rather it describes a culture or the character of a person who lives to please God.


Note the OT ended with Cruses, the NT first sermon opens with blessings. It was the dawn of a new era.

The Pharisees and scribes had put their own twist to the understanding and application of the law. Jesus was about to set it right.



This talk on the mount is a discipling moment that Jesus is having with those who followed Him. He is telling them that if they want to be a part of my Kingdom then this is how they need to be and live.

This sermon is not to be used as a code of social ethics. It cannot be applied by all of society. The Sermon on the mount was not for general consumption. This was Jesus’ teaching to his disciples or followers. This is kingdom culture.

Is living by the sermon on the Mount doable or is it idealism? It is doable only if we are born again.

Some may say this is the hardest set of teachings to live by. Who said anything about it being easy? In fact, Jesus said how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. He was raising the bar!!

Is it any wonder that Jesus opens it with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs, is the kingdom of heaven”?



The first obvious answer is yes, simply because all scripture is God-breathed 16 All Scripture is God-breathed  (1Tim 3:16-17)



It is the foundation for Christian living. It is by adopting a poverty of spirit that says, “apart from you I can do nothing”.

 It is the best evangelistic tool you will ever find. It is also by demonstrating Christ like love to one another and by this shall all men know that you are my disciples.


The Beatitudes

So, let’s look at Matthew 5:1 -3 today.

The Beatitudes

1Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them.

He said:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


He goes to the mountain top to be with his disciples and away from the crowds. This teaching was for those who wanted to follow Him.


He sits down to teach – It was common in those days for the Rabbi to sit and teach while the rest stood and listened.


First, the Beatitudes are how every Christian should live. This is not just for some pious people, but for every Christ-follower because it is a description of Christian character. We are meant to display all 8 characteristics in our life!


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 I am not surprised that this is the first for I think all else hinges on this first one.


Blessed or happy is how one can interpret this word.Makarios is the Greek word which means happy, content.

The first thing that strikes me is that Jesus wants us to be happy. He is not a killjoy!!

What is true happiness?  Can happiness be the end goal of all things? Is that what Jesus is saying when He says you are “Blessed”? Or could it be more?

 Happiness is a part of it but not the whole thing. It also implies favour with God.  

Blessedness is also a characteristic of God. And we can only share that through our union with Christ.


“Poor in Spirit”

What is it?

The Greek word for “poor” is “Ptochos” i.e., to crouch, to cower like a beggar.

Jesus is not talking about material poverty, but spiritual poverty.

Jesus is basically saying that you cannot rely on your own goodness to enter into God’s kingdom. It is not an appeal to deny our worth as human beings, but to recognize our sin and desperate need for salvation.

Matthew Henry comments that “to be poor in spirit, is to have humble thoughts of ourselves, of what we are, and have, and do

It means I am spiritually destitute, and I need a saviour.

 It means that in and of myself I am morally bankrupt and there is nothing good in me without Christ. This is not an excuse or licence for self-loathing or hate as some streams of Christianity indulge in. It is unbiblical and cannot find any basis in scripture.


The Beatitudes acts as a mirror to show me how full of me I am and how much I need to have more of Christ in me.

How do I become “poor in spirit”?

It is a recognition that I do not have anything worthy to bring to God.

When we come to God emptying ourselves of pride, independence, self-achievements.

I need to recognize that I cannot do it on my own. I need Him to fill me.

The poor in spirit like Zacchaeus received the kingdom.

Following from being poor in spirit you can mourn, be meek, thirst after righteousness or be merciful to others.


Why do I need to be “poor in spirit?”


Unless I recognize my poverty I will not recognize the need for a Saviour.

Because apart from Jesus I can do nothing.


Pride will lead me to anger, independence, folly, unforgiveness, unrighteous living, seeking satisfaction elsewhere which will lead to all kinds of sin.


How do I become “poor in spirit”?

Be humble: Humility will keep me dependent and trusting God to meet my every need – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and material.


We need to come to Jesus’ poor in spirit and not in a poverty spirit.


There is a big difference. The former comes in a posture of humility saying that I need one that is greater than me and acknowledges the “all-sufficiency of the Saviour”. The latter says I am living in lack of what I have is not enough and denies the “all-sufficiency of the Saviour”.


Dependence grates against everything that is part of the cultures in which we live today that promote, applaud self-reliance, self-confidence, self-effort, self-promotion.


Paul says I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20.

Paul considered all his achievements as dung compared to knowing Jesus. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ Phil 3:8



The kingdom of heaven is mine.

I will live in awe of the finished work of the Cross

I will be thankful for His grace in my life.

I will live in dependence on the Holy spirit

My Prayer life will grow

I will not think highly of myself

I will serve with humility because no task is too small for me.

I will love like Christ.



This Kingdom culture can only be lived out when Jesus is the King of our hearts. We need Him every moment of the day. To be mindful of Him. For this, we need to acknowledge our need of Him by being poor or humble of spirit.

When we live in this way we are blessed, happy, content and enjoy all favour as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Amen!

   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, August 24, 2021

Trusting God In Trials


his message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on Aug 22nd 2021 by Colin D via zoom. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.

Trusting God in Trials

It is important to share testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives, it encourages others who are going through similar things in their life. Let’s keep encouraging and sharing testimonies.

When we live on earth we will face trials and challenges, like we heard people share, we will face challenges and trials. We come to God’s word to look at how we should navigate through these times, as Christians what should be our mindset. Some Christians believe that once they come to Christ, all their troubles will come to an end. Think of Lazarus in the Bible, Jesus raised him from the dead, did his problems go away? No, Jews wanted to kill him because so many were coming to faith because of this miracle. All those who first believed were persecuted. Apostle Paul himself faced hardships, persecution, shipwreck etc.

We are going to look at an account from the OT today, and my focus today is on what our response should be to trials and troubles and tribulations. How should we as Christians respond to those things?

Daniel Chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar built a 90 ft tall image of Gold and he called all the important people, prefects, governers etc, then he had music,

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide,[a] and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. 4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

 So this is what he did, set up and Idol, and told all the people in the kingdom to worship the image, there were 3 people Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to bow down to the idol, cause they believed as mentioned in Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments, 20: And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.


God’s word says do not make an idol, and these three refused to bow to the idol, the punishment for disobedience was to be thrown into the fire. (Dan 3:8-10)

8 At this time some astrologers[b] came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What a wonderful reputation to have.

What great faith they had! There is a second part (Verse 18)

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

That is solid faith!

Even if He does not rescue us, we will still follow Him. Many times we come to God with conditions and deals with God, “if you do this, I will do this”.  But solid faith is like this, even if our prayers are not answered, we are still going to follow God and do the right thing. “I am going to hold on to You”.

The question is, will we hold on to God when we are going through challenges? 

God promises to deliver us, but His timing and our timing is different. And His ways of deliverance and ours is different.

Let’s see what God did in the situation, it builds up our faith, in verse 19 onwards

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Miracle 1: the soldiers who tied them died, but they didn’t! we miss this sometimes, but this is amazing.

Here we see this wonderful account, where God came when His people stood up and refused to bow to an idol. We marvel at this account and we’ll draw out some truths.

 Why? Why do we face these situations, trials, tribulations?

God allows trials in our lives because He wants us to grow in our dependence on Him. 2 Cor 1: 8-9

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

In our difficult situations, God wants us to draw close to him and rely on him even more. We have to learn to rely on God in the difficult situations and even in the good times to rely and depend on God.

Verse 10  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

 Praying in difficult situations is important, we need to pray for one another.


2nd: To develop our Character

Roman 5: 3-5 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
People who go to gym understand this, no pain no gain, Paul says we rejoice in our sufferings! Why? Because God is doing something in you, suffering develops perseverance, and that produces Character.
James 1:2-4, Perseverance develops maturity. If we understand what’s happening we can cope better and this is what is happening: God is at work in our lives, He wants us to develop your character, he wants to you to become mature and be complete and not lacking anything.


3rd: What do challenges and trials bring

1 Pet 6:7 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 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. –

 so the third reason is so that our faith may refined and purified. Somebody said this: “Christians are like teabags. You don’t know how strong they are till you put them in hot water.” Till we face a challenge we don’t know whats our character is like.

In conclusion to this first section on why we go through tough challenges, Jesus himself said in this world we will face troubles and tribulation, but we go through them because, 1. To increase our dependence on him, 2. To develop our character and 3. To refine and purify our faith.

Now we look at what our response is to be:

First: Be joyful, we need to change our mind set, we need to know God is working in me, developing my character. In the midst of all the challenges, we are going to rejoice in God.

Second: We need to invite God into our situation. We pray to God that we are removed from the situation, yes, but like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we need God to be with us while we are in that situation. Isaiah 43: 1-2 says

But now, this is what the Lord says—    he who created you, Jacob,he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire  you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. God is saying I will be with you.

We may hear whispers “God doesn’t hear your prayers” but we need to say “God I am in a difficult situation, come be with me”

Third: We seek Him, His Kingdom and His righteousness. Not be fair weather Christians, but in all situations we seek Him and His Kingdom. Continue to trust God, have faith.

In conclusion
We will face challenges, we will have troubles, we will have tribulations, but in all these God is developing our character, we continue to depend on him, we seek Him and we continue to worship Him. No matter what we are going to serve God. In His time and His way He will bring deliverance

   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, August 3, 2021

The Function Of Fellowship


This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on July 11th 2021 by Colin D via zoom. For the audio please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.



Last week we looked at the importance of fellowship. As a church, we have the mission to reach the lost. Reaching the lost is like raising the dead. People without Christ is spiritually dead. The Bible says that they are hostile to God.

Our job is to tell people about the Gospel. God will bring them to life.

Sharing the Gospel is a great privilege. We gather every Sunday and at gyms where we hear God’s word through the worship and the word so that we will be transformed.

Throughout the week, we are scattered into the world. Jesus had two aspects of his life – His relationship with His Father and his ministry among people. Jesus came for the lost. He died, rose again, and went to heaven. But he passed on the baton of sharing the good news to us. There is no sharing the Gospel in heaven.

Most people are not keen on sharing the Gospel. Imagine if we had two seminars: ‘How to be blessed’ and the other on ‘How to share the Gospel’. Which one do you think most people join?

God has saved us for a purpose, and we need to remind ourselves of this.

Remember your history/heritage, i.e., the history of the church. WE are part of God s family. Acts 1:15 120 gathered. And after Pentecost, they were 3000. Acts 4:4, the number of men grew to 5000 (not counting women and children).

Act 5:28 – The high priests and authorities told them not to preach in Jesus’ name. Even today, it’s the same thing. Authorities and religious people are against the Gospel.

Acts 6:1 The number of disciples was increasing, i.e., rapidly multiplying

Act 21:20 Thousand of Jews came to faith.

 So, this is in our genes and our heritage. So let faith arise in our hearts. The Gospel is potent and has the power. Rom1:16 It is the power of God for everyone who believes.

Rom 10:9 – this is how the Gospel makes a difference in peoples lives. If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.

Rom 10:14- People need to hear the preaching of the Gospel. You and I need to share the Gospel with people. This is our primary call. We are blessed to be a blessing.

2Cor 5:18 – All this is from God who reconciled us from God and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5: 20 We are Christ’s ambassadors and have been given the ministry of reconciliation.

There are some things that we need to do


Matt9:35- 38 – Jesus went through towns and synagogues and proclaimed the good news, healing every disease and sickness. HE had compassion for the crowds. This is our model. People are hopeless, helpless, and harassed. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. As we pray, things will begin to happen.


Col 4:2devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful and pray for us too that God may open a door for our message. We need to pray for opportunities. Pray for who you can invite to Friendship Sunday. Pray for your friends when they share their troubles with you.

Col 4:3


When we came to Pune 20 years ago, we spoke to anything that moved!!! We took every opportunity to befriend people and eventually share the Gospel with them. And God opened doors for us.

1Pet 3:15 Always be ready to answer everyone who asks for the hope you have but do this with gentleness and respect. We need to learn how to interact with people. We need wisdom.


John 6:44 – Jesus says no one comes to the Father except through Him and unless the Father draws them. So we pray that the Father will draw them to Jesus.

2Cor 4:4 tells us the God of this age has blinded their eyes so they cannot see the light of the Gospel. We need to pray for them. We do not know how long it will take. God will bring them to salvation in his time. Our responsibility is to be faithful in sharing the Gospel.

Pray for them when they are sick. Stephen was an ordinary man, and he moved in signs in wonders. God expects that from each of us.


2Thes 3:1 – Pray that the message of our Lord may spread quickly. Along with the spread of the Gospel comes persecution. It is like a gift that comes with gift wrapping paper. So, we also pray for protection.

We need to persevere. Which knock breaks the coconut? The first or the last? Each know played its part. You may sow the seed, another waters it, but God gives the growth.

 You and I have a great history and legacy that goes back to Abraham. We need to pass it on to the next generation. The Bible says he who wins souls is wise and will shine like the stars.



   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.