Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Changing Lives

This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on July 24th 2022  by Colin D'Cruz. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.


Over the last few weeks, we looked into "Enjoying God" and "Making Friends". That's what is Christian life about. It is about one another. We need one another. We invest time, effort, and money into building relationships. Meeting in GYM groups is very important. Sometimes impromptu meetings are wonderful. The other day, Lasya, Andrew and I decided to go for ice cream. On our way we called up Deepa and then coincidentally met Brian and Michelle. All of us had a lovely time. We need to use opportunities to build relationships with one another. Meeting people during the week could be difficult as we are busy with work. But on Sundays, use lunchtime as an opportunity to build relationships. This is what is investing in God's Kingdom.

Today, we're going to look at "Changing Lives".
Our lives are changed. As we encounter the Word of God, people of God, our lives change. We can never be perfect in this life.

What is God's calling upon you to change lives in this world?

Matthew 4:17-23 - 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 

We all love messages about God's love. They are powerful and foundational to all that we do.  There are a lot of things that God does for us every day. Things like protection, provision, healing, health etc. God wants us to respond in a particular way.
From verse 19 - We are called not only to worship, but also hear the Word, serve etc. We are here to save souls.

Here's a question to all of you - Are you a fisher of men?

If we are following Jesus, he will change us, transform us so that our goal becomes to fish for men which means we proclaim Jesus, the good news. We tell people about His love and preach the Gospel. What is the Gospel? If you confess your sins with your mouth and accept Jesus as your one and only Saviour, you are saved.
Let us read a parable - Parable of the Life-Saving Station.

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost. 

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station so it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the new members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge for those saved from the sea.
So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they re-decorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.
Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.
The mission of life-saving was still given lip service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life-saving activities personally.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.
They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin, some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of the shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal life pattern of the club.
But some members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was founded.
If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, only now most of the people drown.

Does this remind you of anything? Yes, The Church. The purpose of the church is to save lost souls. We are so caught up with our jobs and another routine that we forget our purpose. Saving souls is the purpose given to us by God the Father.

Luke 19:10 - 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” 

Jesus came to seek and save. 

Saving souls is our top priority. Paul was very concerned.

Rom 9:3 - For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race

Moses had the same heart too.

Exo 32:31-32 - 31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

John Knox prayed, "Lord, give me Scotland, ere I die."
George Whitefield prayed, "Lord, give me souls or take my soul."

We need to be clear. The issue here is life or death. Eternal life or eternal death. Our colleagues, friends, family and others don't get saved if they don't hear the Gospel. They will go to eternal hell. We got to see our end goal of ours.

We have a great opportunity on Friendship Sunday. Ask God to touch our hearts to invite people. Ask God to touch their hearts to come here.

Why do people not like evangelism? Fear of failure and many more reasons.

Matt 16:25 - 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 

There is a cost involved in evangelism.
Most of us are from middle-class backgrounds. Our desire is to have a good job, wife, kids, house, go abroad, get a green card etc. That's the dream. There's nothing wrong with that. End of it, what's the point in achieving all that but losing souls given to us? When it comes to us, are we willing to pay the cost?
As we stand for Jesus, Jesus says we'd be rewarded.

John 16:1-2 - “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

John 15:18 - 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

Evangelism is a sacrifice but the rewards are great. When Jesus comes back, He will reward you.

Heb 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

There is going to be rejection and opposition like what Jesus faced and endured.

Pro 11:13 - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.
Dan 12:3 - Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 

When you turn people to righteousness, one day you will shine.
In 1 Cor 15 there are different types of glory depending on what we've done.

Luke 15:7 - I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

This morning, we had a wonderful time of worship. Jesus said that when one person comes to faith there's more rejoicing than what we all do together. Evangelism pleases God.

Looking at the world, we may feel hopeless. Can we make a difference? If you are able to share the Gospel with one person and that person comes to faith and then you disciple that person. End of it you're just 2 people. If 2 of you share the Gospel then it's 4 and then the next year it's 8 people. I'm 38 years there would be 8 billion people saved. God doesn't want you to share the Gospel with 8 billion people but just one. Bring one person on Friendship Sunday. Pray and ask God for that one person. When Jesus called the disciples, there were just a few. But now, there are so many Christians across the globe.

2 Cor 5:20 - We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 

Sadly, the statistics show that 95% of Christians never led anybody to Jesus. God's Word for you is that he wants you to get yourself involved in evangelism. There needs to be some kind of training for that. But for now, on Friendship Sunday, we have an opportunity to invite one person. We sow somewhere and the fruit shall be reaped somewhere else.
Jesus says, "Come follow me. I will make you fishers of men." What we need to do is, pray, fast, follow, share, meet, invite etc. The greatest thing that you can do for an unbeliever is sharing the Gospel.
Jesus doesn't need PhD people. He takes ordinary people.

Acts 4:13 - 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

1. Let us pray for the lost
Make a list and start praying that God would touch their hearts
2. Do something to interact with them
Invite them for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner etc.,
3. Talk about what God is doing in your life
Let it be a natural talk. As you share, they start opening up. When they share their troubles, ask them if you could pray for them.
And then later, invite them to our Friendship Sunday followed by lunch.

This is what it is to follow Jesus. You are here because somebody shared the good news with you long back. Now you have a responsibility.

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 19, 2022

Christ Centered Life


This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on July 17th 2022  by Manesh Peter. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.


Last week we looked at the early church - what the early church practised and what happened as a result. Today I would like to share about three key elements of a Christ-centered life.

1.     Fixing our eyes on Jesus
2.     Following Jesus
3.     Sharing Jesus
Before I elaborate on these elements, I would like to read a story from the bible.
Luke 18:35-43 NIV - 35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
We were like this blind man. We were spiritually blind (1 Corinthians 2:14). But by the grace of God, when we turned to Jesus when we became born again, our eyes were opened (2 Corinthians 3:14).
As soon as the blind man received sight, he followed Jesus, praising God. He received the gift of sight from Jesus. He saw Jesus as his healer and as a response to the goodness of Jesus, he followed Jesus. Similarly, we should see Jesus. We should see His goodness, His love for us. The result of this seeing would be following Jesus.
When all the people saw what happened to the blind man, they praised God. Similarly, when people see our blessings, they should know about the source of those blessings – Jesus. We should share about this wonderful Jesus to the world through our life and through our speech.
1. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2b NIV - 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
We all have a race marked out for us. We are to run this race by fixing our eyes on Jesus. He is the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
NKJV says looking unto Jesus. In the original language of Greek, the actual meaning of the word ‘looking’ used here is ‘looking away from everything else and looking’. So, we are to look away from everything else and look unto Jesus.
We should not be fixing our eyes on the sins that entangle us. We should not be fixing our eyes on the cares and worries that hinder our run. Instead, we should be fixing our eyes on Jesus always.
Now, how to fix our eyes on Jesus?  We fix our eyes on Jesus: -

i. By seeing Jesus in the scriptures.
Luke 24:27 NIV - And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
The whole bible is full of Jesus. All scriptures point to Jesus. In fact, Jesus Himself is the Word of God. But we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see Jesus in the scriptures (John 14:26, 15:26).
We can see in the scriptures the nature of Jesus - His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His majesty, His compassion, His love and on and on. 
We can see in the scriptures the great sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the great blessings we have as a result of this sacrifice.

To see Jesus in the scriptures we should read and study the bible and we should listen to the wonderful Christ-centered sermons preached here on Sundays. So, I urge you to read the bible daily and also try and attend the Sunday meetings every week.
ii.     By taking our eyes off ourselves.
When we thank Jesus for all the blessings and when we worship and praise Jesus for who He is, then we take our eyes off ourselves and set our eyes on Jesus. Do this in your fellowships and in your alone time.
We have a meeting called ‘Living room’ every Thursday at 7:30pm where we just worship the Lord for one hour. Do attend this meeting.
iii.     By remembering the finished work of Jesus on the cross during the breaking of bread.
iv.     By relying on Jesus for all our needs through prayers.
v.     By asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the great perfect love Jesus has for us.

Romans 5:5 NIV - And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  
It is through the Holy Spirit that God’s love has been poured into our hearts. So, ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you more and more, the perfect love that Jesus has for you.
Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV - The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
The Lord rejoices over you with gladness. The Lord rejoices over you with singing.
How can Lord rejoice over us? Only because of Jesus. Since Jesus took the punishment for our sins, God says in Hebrews 10:17 that He will not remember our sins.
As a result of the obedience of Jesus on the cross, we are righteous (Romans 5:19). It is like this - If marks were given to Jesus for His obedience, He would get 100 out of 100. But that mark 100 out of 100 has been given to us without even taking the exam.
This is GOOD News. Isn’t it?
1 John 4:16 NIV - 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
In stead of relying on our love for Jesus, we should rely on the perfect love God has for us. It can neither increase nor decrease. His love for us is perfect forever - even on the days when we don’t love Him much.
In the Gospel of John, John addresses himself as the disciple Jesus loved five times.
John 21:7b NIV - Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
Notice John does not call himself ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved the most. The word ‘most’ is not there. We always think that John is the disciple whom Jesus loved more than others. John does not say so and it is not true. Rather, John identified himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He saw himself so. That was his identity. He did not say other disciples are loved less by Jesus.
Like John, we should identify ourselves as the disciple whom Jesus loves. That should be our identity. 
Now, why should we fix our eyes on Jesus?
i.     Transformation
2 Corinthians 3:18 AMPC - And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendour and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.
In other words, when we behold Jesus in the scriptures, we become more and more like Him, and we are transformed. Eyes are the lamp of our body (Matthew 6:22). If your eyes are always on dung, you will be filled with dung. If your eyes are always on Jesus, you will be filled with truth and life.
ii.     Multiplication of grace and peace
2 Peter 1:2 KJV - grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord
When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we get to know Him more and more. This growth in knowledge will result in the multiplication of grace and peace.
2 Peter 1:2 AMPC - May grace (God's favour) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
The word ‘Peace’ used here, in the original language, Greek, not only means peace of mind, but it also means wholeness, and rest. So, we begin to experience more and more of God’s blessings, a wholeness which is perfect well-being and rest when we grow in the correct knowledge of Jesus.
These wonderful things are already ours in Christ in the spiritual realm. However, these things begin to manifest in the physical realm when we grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2. Following Jesus
John 10:27 NIV - My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
If you are a believer, then you are a sheep of Jesus. Following Jesus means listening to His voice and doing all that He wants you to do. The natural progression of fixing your eyes on Jesus is following Jesus. Be careful! If you follow Jesus without fixing your eyes on Jesus, you might end up following someone else.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV - 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When we go to Jesus, He gives us rest.
Those who are burdened and weary because of the yoke of law will find rest when they come to Jesus because He has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).
Those who are burdened and weary because of the worries and cares of the world will also find rest because we can cast all our care upon Him as He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Now rest here doesn’t mean doing nothing sitting on a beach watching the sunset. This rest is for our souls – Rest for our minds. Along with the rest, he gives us His yoke and He expects us to learn from Him. He is gentle and He teaches us gently.
If you think it is easy because it does not involve any physical effort, ask Philip. Acts 8:30 says he had to run with the chariot to share Gospel. However, the result was a saved Ethiopian.
The yoke Jesus gives you may not be the same as He gives another disciple. But always the end purpose is a saved soul.
Notice when the yoke is used, there are two animals working together to pull the load. When there is an experienced weak ox, the farmers put a stronger experienced ox along with it in the yoke.
One person carrying the yoke is you. The other person carrying the yoke is Jesus. Remember Jesus is with you in all that He wants you to pull, and we also learn from Him along the way. That is why the yoke that Jesus gives is easy and light.
If the yoke you carry is burdening you, then check whose yoke you are taking. Check whether Jesus is in it with you.
When we follow Jesus, He takes us on an exciting joyful journey. Joy and peace are an integral part of following Jesus.
What is it that He is making us into when we follow Him?
Matthew 4:19 NIV - Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
When we follow Jesus, He makes us fishers of men.
3.     Sharing about Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NIV - 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
The natural progression from fixing our eyes on Jesus and following Him is to share with others about the wonderful Jesus who rescued us and blessed us so much.
We are Christ’s ambassadors. God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. In other words, He has committed to us the Gospel.
Romans 1:16 NIV - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes, and this has been committed to us. That is a big responsibility. You have tasted how beautiful Jesus is. You have received blessings. Why would you not share this joy with others?
So, I urge you to look for every opportunity to share the Good News. Always remember the end purpose of all that we are doing on this earth, should be saving souls.
Jesus is beautiful beyond human comprehension and beyond description. Fix your eyes on Him and be transformed enjoying His beauty. When you see His beauty, you would want to follow Him, and you would want to share about Him with everyone. Do it. Live a Christ-centered life.

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, July 6, 2022

Making Friends

This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on July 3rd 2022  by Colin D'Cruz. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.


 We will have a slightly different sermon this morning. We meet in small groups called GYMs. GYM Stands for God, You and Me and we meet together to fellowship, eat together, study the word etc.

My message today is on the importance of meeting in small groups. This morning when you woke up, you went and looked at yourself in the mirror at some point. Every house has a mirror, but it is so important. James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was likeGod’s word is like a mirror for each one of us. It helps us in aligning our lives with what is good and what is true.

If I were to ask you, “when does the church meet?”, most would say, Sunday. But whenever even a small number of us meet is a church meeting. So what does the word of God say about the church meeting?

In the New Testament each time church is mentioned, most of them refer to meeting in a small group/ in a home. So when we meet at homes, it is as important as meeting on a Sunday morning.

In Acts 2: 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,” so it is not just the large meeting but also the small gather that were important to the early Christians. In Acts 20:20 Paul says “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,”. Meeting together is important when on a Sunday like this or meeting at homes.

Someone once said that the Church is like a bird with 2 wings – the large and small meeting are like the 2 wings and both are important.

All of us at some stage heard the glorious gospel being preached, you put your faith in Jesus and your life was changed! Several things happened in that moment:

    1. Luke 15:7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” There was rejoicing in heaven

    2. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” You might look the same but you are a new creation

    3. You became a part of God’s family. God became your father and other Christians have become your brothers and sisters. When you meet a fellow believer, there is an instant connection. Have you experienced that? How does that happen? It’s something in the spirit.

This is the transformation that has happened. Sadly, there are Christians who come to Jesus and then just stay on the outskirts without connection or involvement in one another's life. As Rick Warren says, we have a personal faith, but not a private faith. So seek to build connection with one another. 1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” We are not lone ranger Christians.

1.              Acts 2 there were 3000 who were added to the number. Baptism is one step, and being joined is another step. Imagine you needed an organ transplant, there is a beating heart, which is useless on its own. But when it is placed in the body, it can do all that it is supposed to do. You are a part of the body and have a role to play. On your own you are like that heart in a box. GYMs help us get connected.

2.             Secondly, they will help us grow in our spiritual life. In a small group setting, almost everyone can participate and grow. Col 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God”. So let’s do that.

3.              In Acts 15:16 It speaks about how Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos to their home and taught them the word. The bible is full of one-another(s). It is only as we meet with one another that we can grow in our Christian faith.

4.              We can express love to one another when we are a part of a GYM group. We have so many stories among us of people expressing love by supporting and helping one another so well!

5.              Another area where small groups help is to practice hospitality. One way to do that is to have a pot luck. Even as a single man/ woman, you can make something and bring it to a potluck and show hospitality that way.

6.              It is not just about loving and caring about one another, but also about reaching the lost. We’ve got to say what can we do about reaching out.

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.