IS THERE SOMETHING MISSING IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE?

IS SOMETHING MISSING IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

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John 15 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Upper Room

Upper Room (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Road to the Garden of Gethsemane

Road to the Garden of Gethsemane (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: The passage we just read was spoken by Jesus just a few hours before He was betrayed. It was probably somewhere between the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane by the Mount of Olives. We were there just a month ago and I tried to imagine what it might have been like for the disciples. They had just left the upper room where they heard their Master make some of the most bizarre statements ever! As they were celebrating the Passover, He held up the bread and the cup and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you…This cup is the new covenant in My blood…drink it…” That’s cannibalism! No Jewish person in his right mind would ever say that! But, that wasn’t all! He went on and said things like – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (Which your pastor explained last week). Again, John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” Again, John 14:19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Now, if they walked past the Temple, they probably saw the golden vines above the gate of the Temple. You can imagine Jesus stopping there and pointing to them and saying, “I am the true vine. You are the branches. Abide in Me.” That was heavy! Is it any wonder that the disciples fell asleep when they got to the garden?

Listen very carefully this morning – the passage we just read and the verses I just quoted are the very heart and essence of Christianity.

Application: If you feel that something is missing in your Christian life, then this is the message for you. If you are tired of trying to live the Christian life, then this message is for you. If you are tired of religion with all its traditions and rituals and rules and obligations, then this message is for you. If Christianity has lost its joy and purpose, then this message is for you.

Three things we will see in this passage. Let the Holy Spirit bring you to Christ in a way you’ve never seen Him before.

I. THE TRUE VINE 

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

Background: The imagery of the vine was often used in the Old Testament to refer to the Nation of Israel. Psalm 80:8 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt” referring to the Hebrews. Jeremiah 2:21 “I had planted you a noble vine.” His disciples were familiar with this imagery. Even Jesus had used this imagery in His parable of the vineyard, where He referred to Himself as the son of the vineyard owner who was rejected by the vinedressers – referring to the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the scribes. But in the wee hours of the night, Jesus gave that imagery a whole new twist. No longer were the people the vine living under the control of the vine dressers, but now Jesus Himself was the true vine, and the vinedressers had been replaced by God the Father Himself.

You can imagine the look on the faces of these disciples. They’d never heard stuff like this before. What’s more? Listen to verse 2 “Every branch in Me.” Meaning: Now, they were no longer the vine but just the branches on the vine. Their job was to simply abide/remain/be connected to the vine and they will have all the necessary nourishment – food, water, and nutrients to survive. Everything they needed will be supplied to them. They are to feed upon Him – the bread and the cup.

By the way, this was not a new concept. This was always God’s plan. Even the Old Testament saints were eagerly waiting for this promise. Listen to Paul in Colossians 1 26 “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Nothing has done more damage to Christianity than the false idea that we need to live a good life for God. He’s up here and you are down here. Just do the best you can for Him. That’s Hinduism and Islam and religion. Jesus came to turn religion up side down! It’s no longer God up here and you’re down here and never the twain shall meet. Now, it is the Living and True God coming to dwell in you and living out through you what you could never live out by yourself. Now God is pleased not because of you but because of the One who lives in you. In fact, you are dead! Listen to Paul again in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Nothing will so revolutionize your life than realizing that Christ is your life. You have to admit that you don’t have it. You will have to make sure that your lines of communication are open with Him. You will have to make sure that you are available to Him.

Application: What is Christianity? What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it just a list of dos and don’ts? Is it just your self-effort? Is it just trying to do the best you can to please God? If you are saved, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes of faith to who you are in Christ. If you are lost, you are not in Christ. You need to be grafted – saved.

II. THE CASTAWAY BRANCH

2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Background: Just when you think that such a life is too good to be true and that people will abuse it or take advantage of it. This is just a life of passivity. Jesus goes on to clarify. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit…” What are these fruits?

  • Christ like temperamentGalatians 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
  • Winning the lost – Romans 1:13 “…I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also…”
  • Sacrificial Giving – Romans 15 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem…28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.

Did you notice how the fruits benefit other people? Have you ever seen a branch eating its own fruits? They are for others. Victory is when the world says of you what this book has said of you. You don’t have to go around advertising who you are. It is obvious. Jesus said in Matthew 7:20, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

What happens when there is no fruit? 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; What does that mean? Some people have built big theological schools on just a few verses. I don’t believe that at one o’clock in the morning, trying to walk down in the dark towards the Kidron Valley, Jesus is trying to discuss the fine points of theology! Who He is thinking of is Judas. Just a couple of hours ago Jesus had said to His disciples – “One of you will betray Me.” Immediately, they began to question – “Is it I? Is it I?” Even Judas asked and Jesus answered, “You have said it.” That would’ve been a good time for Judas to fall on his face and repent but he didn’t. Jesus gave him a piece of bread and Satan entered him. “He then went out immediately. And it was night.”

It is possible to be in church all your life and do all the stuff and be active and still be fruitless. Those people just get taken away.

For e.g. During the fall, dry leaves just fall off the trees. Imagine if you had to go and pluck them. How does that happen? The sap (the life of the tree) just pushes them out. People who do not have Jesus in their lives, they are not connected to Him, they are not saved, they are pushed out by the truth of Jesus.

Do you know the only time the leaves keep hanging on even though they are dead? If the entire tree itself is dead.

You can hang on to your emptiness like dead leaves to a dead tree and you’ll remain dead. Christianity is Christ. Taking Christ out of Christianity (as someone said) is like taking notes out of music, numbers out of mathematics, and blue out of the sky. It’s dead and empty.

Application: What kind of a branch are you? Are you a living branch? Are you a fruit-bearing branch? Are you connected to Christ? Is His life flowing through you? If you feel like the castaway branch, today is the day of salvation.

III. THE FRUITFUL BRANCH

2 “…every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Background: If you like gardening, you understand this very well. I remember watching my dad going through the garden with a pair of shears. I didn’t understand why that was necessary. In fact, it looked almost painful. But he knew what he was doing. He was cutting away the dead wood that only bred insects and worms. Not only that, He was even cutting away the live tissue. Why? To keep the life of the plant from dissipating. Sometimes even clusters of grapes are cut so that the rest of the crops will be better.

So also, God prunes us to bring out the best in us – Sometimes it comes in the form of messages like this. Sometimes it comes in the form of trials. Sometimes it comes in the form of discipline. Sometimes it comes in the form of weakness or thorn in the flesh. Praise God that like a parent He knows what is best for us. He cuts off only that which has been draining strength from us. One thing we have to realize is that the pruning shears are in the hands of our Heavenly Father. He is never closer to us than when He is pruning us. It’s a sign that we belong to Him. Don’t believe the Devil’s lie that God is holding out on the best for your life or God is not giving you what you deserve or if you follow God, bad things will happen.

Listen to this promise – verse 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Two Questions:

1. Is Jesus your vine? Are you saved?

2. If He is your vine, are you connected to Him this moment?

3. Are you bearing fruit?

Location, Location, Location!

LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

(This message was recorded by the banks of the Jordan River in Israel.)

locationIntroduction: Hi! As many of you know, Nicole and I are in Israel. We took this trip because we believe that the accounts in the Bible are not fairy tales or myths but real historical events that took place in real time at real places with real people. Needless to say, we have been blown away! We did not realize how much the landscape informs the proper understanding of the Bible! Today I’m preaching a message from Matthew 3 titled LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION and yes – we are going to be on location every step of the way! So thank you for being here at Clearview.

Matthew 3 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

For the past two days we have been staying at Kibbutz Lavi. A Kibbutz is a gathering, a collective community that works together and shares with each other. Although it is modernized in many ways, it still lives by some very traditional principles. What’s important for our purpose is that it is in Lower Galilee. There is a good chance that Jesus passed through this region on the way to the Jordan.

14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Overall Background: Jordan has much significance in biblical history but the most important is the baptism of Jesus by John the baptizer.

Why was this so significant ? For 4 reasons: 

I. A FULFILLMENT WAS RECOGNIZED.

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

Background: We usually just zip past this passage but this was a very critical moment in the history of God’s plan of redemption. It was the changing of the guard.

For e.g. If you ever ever been to the National Memorial, right about dusk, it’s time for the guards to exchange their responsibilities. One guard hands off the responsibility to the other. People come about that time just to see this ritual.

So also there is a passing of the guard here. Listen carefully to the account in John 1 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Several things to point out here:

  1. It’s not one of the Lambs of God. It’s THE Lamb of God. In other words, here He is! The one we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of time has arrived.
  2. It’s not the “Lion of God” but the humble and meek sacrificial Lamb of God.
  3. It’s not the “Lamb who is taken away or dragged away” but He takes away the sin. In other words, Jesus was in full control of what He was about to do.
  4. It’s not just the sin of Israel but the whole world. He came to Israel but He is for all of us.

Application: Which guard are you looking to? The old or the new? What are you trusting in to be saved? Is Jesus the Lamb for your sins?

II. AN EXAMPLE WAS SET

14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

Background: What would you have done? Do you think you can baptize God? He made John the Baptist and He made the water!

But listen to Matthew 3 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” What does that mean?

The key lies in “us.” This is not a generic “us” that we need to fulfill all righteousness. There is more involved here. Jesus is setting the pattern for believers to come. By being baptized, he was setting the model for all of us to be baptized. In fact, in Matthew 28 His final commission to His disciples was 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

There still remains a question – “Why was baptism so important to Jesus? He wanted to make sure that we stood within the setting of Judaism. We are connected to the Old Testament and the prophets. He was giving us roots. Without roots we cannot grow. We are grafted to the vine, no doubt, but He is the vine. We are to be firmly planted in the soil of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

For e.g. When I went home to visit my parents, they began to tell me about properties and how they were handling it and if I was okay with it. I’ve been gone for so long that I didn’t think it was my business. Their answer – “Son, you left physically but you are just as much a part of this family.”

But don’t miss verse 16 – When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; By the way, that tells you that Jesus was not sprinkled.

Application: Have you been baptized? Jesus did it and He commanded us to be. Have you been baptized by immersion?

III. A DOCTRINE WAS DEMONSTRATED 

and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Background: Even though Jesus wanted us to be firmly planted within the soil of Judaism and the Old Testament, there was more. Here we meet the Trinity. That God was one and yet there was more was introduced right from the beginning – Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” Again, when after the Great Flood the people began to build the Tower of Babel (temple of sun worship), it says that God said in Genesis 11:7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” But here we see the plurality of the godhead clearly identified. First, we see Jesus the Son of God coming up out of the water. Second, we see the Spirit of God descending upon Him. Third, we hear the voice of the Father in heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

There you have it – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s easy to believe but hard to explain. As someone said, “Try to explain it and you’ll loose your mind but try to deny it and you’ll loose your soul.”

Application: What kind of a God do you believe in? Is He the Triune God? Do you have a relationship with each member of the Trinity.

IV. A PROMISE WAS GIVEN

32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

Background: Once again John reminds the listeners that Jesus will Baptize with the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? It means that our baptism is also a symbol of a much greater baptism, that of the Holy Spirit. By it we are now connected to the Triune God. The Holy Spirit helps us keep our eyes on Jesus. He convicts us of sin in our lives. He assures us that we belong to God. He reminds us of the Word of God – the Bible. He guides and directs our lives.

It is so vital to make sure that we don’t grieve nor quench Him. Daily we must submit to His leadership and follow Him without hesitation. We need to keep the channels clean and not let sin interfere with His work in our lives.

Application: Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been baptized by immersion? Do you realize that the Holy Spirit is now available to you every moment for every need? Are you totally submitted to Him?

Where are the Vikings? (Men in Church)

WHERE ARE THE VIKINGS? (MEN AT CHURCH) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

wherearethevikings

As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all 4 gospels and this morning our message has a title that has raised some eyebrows – “WHERE ARE THE VIKINGS?” “WHERE ARE THE MEN IN CHURCH?” One compliment I often hear from new people who come to Clearview is how did you get all these men to come to church? My answer is #1 I didn’t God brought them; #2 it was not by accident. It was by intention.

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Overall Background: When Jesus began his ministry, his first action was to call certain people to be his disciples. He knew that his time was short and it was imperative that His message would be passed along when He was gone. He wanted to pour His life, truth, power, and vision into these disciples. That is very understandable. But what is interesting is that every one of these disciples was a man! Did you notice that? Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathaniel, Matthew, and so on. Why did Jesus do that? Was it because Jesus was just a product of His time? Was He just some patriarchal rabbi who looked down upon women? Was he some narrow-minded, male chauvinist member of the “he-man woman haters club?” Absolutely not.

This morning, we’re going to look at the reason why He called men to be His disciples. Ladies – you need to hear this message because without your wholehearted support, we cannot reach men. Men – you need to hear this message because it’s high time that you wake up. Every church in America needs to hear this message. What’s happening in our churches, community, nation, and the world is because the right men are absent (AWOL) Bottom line: We need men who know Jesus as their Savior to step to the plate.

Three questions we will answer in this message:

I. WHAT DID JESUS THINK OF WOMEN?

Did he look down on them? Absolutely not! We know that Jesus healed women.

  • Last week we saw how He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.Jesus healed women
  • In Luke 7 He came across a widow whose only son had died and verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her” and he healed her son.
  • In Mark 5 a certain woman had a flow of blood for 12 years. She was just trying to touch the hem of his garment. He not only identified her but healed her and called her “Daughter.”

We also know that Jesus spent extended time talking to women.

  • The woman caught in adultery
  • The Samaritan woman at the well
  • Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus

We also know that Jesus used women as part of His illustrations.

  • James C. Christensen - The widow's miteWoman who lost her coin
  • Ten bridesmaids who were waiting for the bridegroom
  • Poor Widow who brought just a mite to the offering.

Did you also know that many women followed Jesus along with his disciples? Luke 8 tells us that not only were the twelve men with Him but also 2 certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. In fact, they were the first ones to whom He came after His resurrection.

In a time when women were considered to be just second class citizens, Jesus treated them with respect and honor. In a time when the only woman that had some freedom was the mistress, Jesus reached out to them with no ulterior motive. No wonder a woman came, fell on his feet, broke a bottle of perfume, washed his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair. Which one of you women would do that for any man? Unless, you knew that man loved you and came to lift you and seat you on the throne of glory. Someone might say – “Jesus was okay with women but not Paul.” Listen to Galatians 3 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Application: Girls and ladies – do you know how precious you are to God? Any boy or man who mistreats a girl or woman does not understand Jesus Christ or His Gospel.

II. WHY DID JESUS CALL ONLY MEN TO BE HIS DISCIPLES? 

It was not because he was being sensitive to the Jewish culture. Jesus repeatedly broke the Sabbath laws, ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, refused to wash his hands before meals, and repeatedly chastised the keepers of the customs – the Pharisees.

It was not because women were not supposed to be leaders. We know of Deborah in the Old Testament who was a judge. Before Herod the great became king, Queen Alexandra ruled Israel for three decades. In fact, even today women make fine leaders and presidents! Case in point: The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

It was not because women could not handle spiritual matters. Think about Mary sitting by the feet of Jesus listening and learning. When Mary & MarthaMartha complained in Luke 10 Jesus said, 41 “…“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

So why did Jesus call only men to be His disciples? It was a matter of correct representation. A disciple is a representative. A disciple’s job is to communicate not just what the master says but who the master is, his entire being. He wanted them to represent Him when He was gone. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. Son implies maleness. Hence the disciples had to be male to truly represent Him. But it goes even further. This Son of God has a Father. John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Did you notice all the gender specific nouns and pronouns?

Why has God chosen to reveal himself as our “Heavenly Father” not our heavenly mother? In our gender-neutral world, that is hard for some people to follow. A father symbolizes authority and leadership. He is the initiator, provider, and protector. Does God not have any female attributes? Yes – He is nurturing and caregiving but He is not the receiver (if you know what I’m talking about) or gives birth. He created us.

Jesus & His DisciplesWhat does that have to do male disciples? The disciples were to be an image of God the Son who was the image of God the Father. That’s why in the Old Testament the priest were always men. Later, Paul explained it more in I Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. That’s why in our church the pastors and the servant leaders are men. This does not mean that I can save you or forgive your sins. I am called to be the under shepherd. I work for the Good Shepherd. Who is He? Jesus said in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Most of the time I am a very representation but that’s what I’m called to be. One day I’ll have to give an account to the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).

What do you think of women pastors? It’s biblically wrong. What if they can preach? I think some of them can preach better than some of our men preachers but it still doesn’t make it right. How did it happen? Men – it’s because you failed to step up to the plate that they had to step up and do your job. Again, this does not apply to outside the church because it has nothing to do with God’s representation as the Son and the Father.

III. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH VIKINGS?

Growing up I loved to read about Vikings and Cowboys. They represented manliness to me. Now, I’m done talking about beating up and shooting up people that are weaker than you. Any coward can do that. But, Vikings represented the adventure spirit, the taking the risk spirit, and the sailing into unchartered waters spirit. It was a no fear spirit. When people heard their name, they were afraid.

The disciples were afraid until the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of Pentecost and the same bumbling and blundering disciples became bold representatives of Jesus Christ. The Book of Acts tells us – Peter stood up boldly on the day of Pentecost and preached the message and three thousand got saved! Acts 2 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles…47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Then we hear about Stephen who was not afraid even when ungodly men rushed him and through his death Paul got saved and the church grew exponentially.

The point is – when men representing Christ lead the church, it grows by leaps and bounds. The church in America is on life support. If anything it’s barely crawling. Is it the fault of the women? No. They’ve had to reluctantly step up and take the job that was meant for men – to be the spiritual leaders of the church, to be the spiritual leaders of their homes, and to be the representation (the disciple) of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the church has taken on the attributes of women, which is nurturing and caregiving. It has stopped conquering the world for Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong. We need women in church. What will happen if we don’t have women to give the care and grace and love we need. But without men stepping out, taking risks, and being bold, there won’t be anyone left in the church to give care and grace and love to. Sadly men have become whiners and complainers. They walk around with a loser’s limp. Then we talk about being old. Clearview is young people’s church! Even the aged are young.

Is Clearview doing everything right? Probably not but we are trying to go back to biblical Christianity and capture our world for Jesus Christ. We’re trying to create an atmosphere were men (lost men) don’t feel the church is just for women and children. It is reflected in the way we do service, in the way I preach, and in the way we sing. We tried to weed out praise songs that are geared towards women only. Sometimes it can be hard. We tried to introduce new stuff. Women are more open to change than men. We even tried to bring in old hymns. Someone will say – “That’s right. I love those manly hymns.” Here’s a problem – you got tired of them and stop singing them. Men – when you get familiar with something, you lose interest in it. It becomes tradition. Now we do it cause “by golly that’s what we’re going to do.”

Invitation: Where are the Vikings? Are you saved? Are you leading your home and your church? Women – are you letting your men lead? Trust me, they won’t lord over you but wash your feet.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

HARD HEADED PEOPLE

HARD HEADED PEOPLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

hardheadedpeople

As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we will be looking at not just one but four passages for our message titled “HARD HEADED PEOPLE.” I know when I said that all of us thought of someone we know who is hard headed. But did you know that all of us to some extent are hard headed?

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Luke 5 4…He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking…10…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Calling of the Disciples

Map of the Calling of the Disciples around Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: We’ve come to that point in our series where Jesus actually began His ministry and He started by calling certain people to follow Him, to be His disciples. One of them was a man by the name of Simon. We know Him as Peter. We all know of Peter. People smile every time his name is mentioned – the first to jump up, speak out, brag, fall, and even repent. And boy, he was hard headed! For some reason we like Peter. Maybe its because he reminds us so much of our own self. When we think of Peter’s calling we only remember the time when Peter and his brother Andrew were by the Sea of Galilee mending their nets and Jesus called them to follow Him. It says that “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” It’s as if there were no second thoughts or hesitations, just immediate and total obedience. I’m sure we’ve heard some wonderful messages on the need to follow Jesus immediately. Only problem – did you know that there are 3 other times that Jesus called Peter?!! Apparently, one call wasn’t enough.

The point is – it took 4 different callings (at least that many are actually recorded in the gospels) before Peter left all and followed Jesus. The message is not just that we are hardheaded people. It is that God is gracious and compassionate more than we deserve. As much as we keep going back, He keeps reaching out to us, as He is right now.

Application: Is God calling you? Has He been knocking on the door of your heart? Are you saved? How many times does He have to keep coming by you?

Let the Holy Spirit open your heart as we look at the 4 callings of Peter:

CALLING #1 – SALVATION

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Background: This was no ordinary calling. This was a salvation calling. This is the first calling in the life of every Christian. Without this calling you cannot have any other calling. How do we know that this was a salvation calling? Because Jesus changed His name. Every time in the Bible God changed someone’s name, it was a reflection of something much greater – Abram became Abraham; Sarai became Sarah; Jacob became Israel; Saul became Paul. Name change implied a deep work of God in a person. It implied a change of identity. Deuteronomy 28:10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.”

Simon PeterSimon meant, “He has heard” or “God has heard.” His new name was going to be Cephas in Aramaic, which meant, “rock.” Rock in Greek was Peter.

When you become a child of God, you take on a new name and a new identity. Now you are called by the name of your Heavenly Father. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Did you also know that one day in heaven we’re all going to get new names? Revelation 2:17 “…To him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” By the way, even Jesus will have a new name – Revelation 3:12 “He who overcomes…I will write on him My new name.

Application: Has God called your name? Has He given you a new name? Are you saved?

Does this mean that Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #2 – SERVICE

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Nicole and I walked around the Sea of Galilee and saw some of the fishing boats and the nets lying on the ground. It was awesome tothink about Jesus walking by that same seashore. Simon and Andrew were not just weekend fisherman or just some common laborers. Historical evidence shows that the fishing industry around Galilee was lucrative. There were not a whole lot of places where you could find freshwater fish. These men were successful businessmen. He came by their workplace. I love workplace ministry – reaching people where they are working. Work is not sinful or evil. It is good.

Galilee Fishing Boats

Galilee Fishing Boats (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

What did He say to them? 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It was a play on words. Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the sea for they were fishers (literally) but now they will be fishers of men (literally). Jesus did not come to make them jobless. Jesus called Simon not just to stop fishing but to start fishing for men. He came to give them new meaning and purpose in their jobs. No longer would it be just fishing but now it is fishing with a whole new purpose.

Being saved does not mean immediately you have to go preach. Jesus did not tell Simon – “Join the synagogue” or “start learning biblical Hebrew.” What it does mean is that now you have a new master, a new boss. Being a Christian is not just coming to church on Sunday mornings and sitting and listening to this man talk. It is to start living our lives within new purpose which is to build God’s kingdom. It can be done through teaching Sunday school or children’s ministry or something in church but it can also extend way beyond the walls of this church. Here the Holy Spirit helps us understand our spiritual gifts and start using them.

Application: Has God shown you His purpose for your life? It will change the way you see your job. It will change the way you see the people you interact with. Just like Peter we too are called to go find people. That’s what the ministries at Clearview are all about – Kindle, CWA, Sports, and First Responders.

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #3 – SUPERNATURAL MIRACLE

Luke 4 38 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house.

Capernaum

Capernaum (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Where did this happen? In Capernaum. In fact, the synagogue is about 50 yards from Peter’s house. Nicole and I were there about three weeks ago.

VIDEO FROM CAPERNAUM 

What happened at Peter’s house? 38 “…But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. Tradition tells us that Luke was a medical doctor and he is the only one who points out that it was a “high fever.” Meaning: this was serious. What was Jesus’s response? 39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. It was a miracle!

There’s a reason why the Holy Spirit allowed this incident to be mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This miracle was not as much for Peter’s mother-in-law as it was for Peter. Jesus had already called him twice but for some reason it did not convince him enough. In short, he was hardheaded. Yeah I’m saved. Yeah He came looking for me. Yeah I have a new purpose in life. But no I am not ready to follow him completely.

There are many Christians like that. Time after time God has called their name but they are still playing it safe. There are still not ready to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Christ. For them, sometimes it requires a miracle. There’s not a single person sitting here who claims to be a Christian who cannot say that God has done a miracle in their life. You prayed for a job and God gave you a job. You prayed for a relationship and God gave you a relationship. You prayed for healing and God gave you healing. You pray for your finances and God opened the gates of heaven and sent you blessing upon blessing. You prayed for spiritual insight and God brought you close to Him. Sadly, it’s still not enough for you.

Application: Did I just describe you? What will it take for God to convince you that He is real? What will it take for God to get your attention? When will you finally acknowledge that He is real and He is powerful and He is calling you trust Him and walk with Him and give your all to Him?

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #4 – SELF REVELATION

Luke 5 1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.

Picture that in your mind – the crowd is literally all over him because they want to hear the word of God but Jesus is looking for someone. Who is he looking for? 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, (I find that very interesting that he called him “master.” He didn’t mean it. Just like we’d talk about Jesus being our Lord but we don’t mean it. By the way, yes you can have Jesus as your Savior and still not have him as your Lord.)

Peter - Big CatchLuke 5 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

What a response! –“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” He finally saw himself for who he really was – just a worthless, hell bound sinner who had been rescued by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Up until that time, he was a good guy, doing the best he can. Now, he was a sinful man saved by the grace of God.

What did Jesus say to him? Verse 10 “…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Now it was the real response.

Invitation: how many times has God been calling you? What is keeping you from responding? What will it take for God to get your attention? Have you responded to his first call to be saved?

Hoi Polloi Podcast Episode 5 – Dr. L. Scott Kellum

In this fifth episode of Hoi Hoi Polloi Pod Cast ImagePolloi, Abidan Shah interviews Dr. L. Scott Kellum, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest. In this episode we discuss the issue of the New Testament Canon. In recent years the view that has found much publicity is that the NT canon developed much later and after a process of great struggle. Is this historically true? This episode will cover this and related issues. If you have any questions or topics you would like to be discussed, tweet them to @hoipolloiradio.

WHOM ARE YOU FOLLOWING?

WHOM ARE YOU FOLLOWING? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church

whoareyoufollowing

Introduction: We are at that time in our service when we hear God’s Word so I want to welcome all of you again. I also want to welcome those who are joining us by radio. Thank you for tuning in! We’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we are in John 1 for our message titled – “WHOM ARE YOU FOLLOWING?” All of us are following someone in our life – a parent, a friend, a famous personality, and even someone who is dead and gone. The question is not are you following someone. The question is “whom are you following?” If you follow the right person, it’ll be the way of life. If you follow the wrong person, it will be the way of death.

John 1 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

Overall Background: The passage we just read took place after the temptation of Jesus. As you know, Jesus was in the wilderness of Judea tempted by the devil himself. After 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus rejected every attempt of the enemy to entice Him in sin. Having triumphed, Jesus returned from the wilderness to begin His ministry but He did so by coming by the place where John was still baptizing people near “Bethabara beyond the Jordan.” (John 1:28) He came by there for a reason. It was to signal to John that the time had come for the show to start. Since the beginning of time this show had been planned and now the day had come for the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” to do what He came to do. How did John respond to this? Verse 29 again – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Meaning: So far John was the main event. Everything was about him. People came to him and looked up to him. He could have hung on to his disciples but he didn’t. No arguments, deliberations, or hesitations. In fact, he didn’t even let Jesus say a word but humbly and totally he gave up his ministry and pointed to Jesus. Wow! The Bible records it twice. Listen to verse 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” What was the result? Verse 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Would you have done that? We don’t even like to give up our seat in church!

Application: This morning there are 2 questions: 1. “Are you sending people to Jesus?” “Are you telling your spouse, children, and grandchildren to follow Jesus?” 2. “Are you following Jesus?” “Are you looking to Him in your life?” “Is He your focus?” “Is He your Master?” “Is He calling the shots in your life?”

This morning we will address 3 questions about following Jesus:

 I. HAVE YOU SEEN JESUS?

29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him…”

Background: John “saw” Jesus. This sight of Jesus was more than just the physical sight. The Holy Spirit had opened John’s spiritual eyes to really see Jesus! When did this happen? John tells us in verse 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him. You can be in church all your life and never know Him. ‘but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit had opened John’s spiritual eyes.

Have you seen Jesus? I am not talking about your physical eyesight – not just the rays of light entering through the cornea, bending through the pupil, reflecting on the retina, and being transformed into electrical impulses that are send through the optic nerve to the brain. The Holy Spirit has to reveal Him to you.

Someone might say, “I wish I could see Him physically.” Did you know that spiritual eyesight is more blessed than the physical eyesight? After Jesus rose from the grave, he revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene and several of His disciples who were hiding. John 20:19 “…Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” Later in verse 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Eight days later Jesus showed up in that room again and in verse 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Do you remember what Jesus said? Verse 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Application: Have you seen Jesus? Has the Holy Spirit opened your spiritual eyes to see Jesus?

II. DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT VIEW OF JESUS?

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Background: John could have said many things about Jesus. He could have talked Him being the King of Kings or the Creator of the World or the Prince of Peace. Instead, he repeats the same epithet twice. See again in verse 36 ‘And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”’ Several important points need to be made here:

  • Jesus is the LAMB – Here Lamb does not imply gentleness or willingness or humility or silence. It implies “purity.” Just like on the night of the Passover in Exodus 12 1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying…3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household…5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. John, the writer of the gospel, repeatedly tries to emphasize this idea throughout his gospel and even into his letters. Listen to 1 John 3 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure…5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

Even Peter emphasizes the purity of Jesus in 1 Peter 1 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Lamb implies the purity of Jesus.

  • Jesus is THE Lamb of GOD – Here “THE” (the definite article) emphasizes the fact that there is no one else like Him. He is not one of many. He is the only one. What else? He is the Lamb “OF GOD.” Meaning: He is God’s chosen one. He is God’s offering. Just like on Mount Moriah where Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice him. When Isaac asked him in Genesis 22 7 “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” Then in verse 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The–LORD–Will–Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” At this very place the templewas built. Nicole and I stood near the Temple Mount.
    Western Wall and the Temple Mount

    Western Wall and the Temple Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

    It was amazing to imagine how through the centuries the Jewish people brought their lambs to the temple to be sacrificed. Now, God was bringing His Lamb to the altar to be sacrificed.

  • Jesus is the Lamb of God WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD – Jesus was not just the sacrifice for the Jewish people. He is for all people. He is the only answer for the sin of every human being. Even more – he takes it away from us and not just for those who lives in the first century but every century until the end of time. He will keep taking it away.

For e.g. This has been many years ago when I was a little discouraged about the church. One day the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart – “Preach Jesus and see what will happen.” John 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

III. WHAT IS YOUR DECISION?

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

Background: “Behold” – The Greek word is ide meaning “look” or “there it is.” John had to point Him out. I am always amused by the Medieval and Renaissance painters who paint Jesus and make Him look so attractive and easily recognizable. If that’s not enough, they always depict Him with a halo (dinner plate) around his head. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was very ordinary in His appearance. In fact, Isaiah 53:2 says, “…He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

When you point people to Jesus, don’t expect them to see Him immediately. Sometimes, it takes time. Sometimes, it takes more than one attempt. Sometimes, it takes pleading. But once they truly see Him, they’ll never turn away.

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

A few verses down in verse 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah”…42 And he brought him to Jesus. Later in verse 43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me”…45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

If you’ve seen Him, you have a decision to make. Are you going to follow Him?

If you have seen Him, are you showing Him to others?

Do you know what the motto is of our church? MAKING CHRIST VISIBLE.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUITOnce again, it’s good to be back home. Nicole and I had an amazing time in Israel! We were concerned, as many of you were also, about our safety. After we checked in the hotel in Tel Aviv, we decided to walk down to the ancient site of Joppa on the seashore, which was just 10 minutes from the hotel and it was only 8 o’clock in the evening. Since Joppa was not on our itinerary, we figured if we quickly walk there we could say we’ve been to the place where Jonah boarded the ship to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh and where Peter had the vision of the unclean animals to teach him that the Gentiles were also welcome into the kingdom of God. So we crossed the street and got on the boardwalk that led to the site. It was well lit for couple of hundred yards and there were people there so we felt safe. Five minutes into the walk we realized that the streetlights didn’t go all the way to the site. In fact we had to walk through this dark road for a couple of miles. We said to each other let’s go a little bit further and if it gets worse we will turn right back and there’s the hotel. Just then I heard someone running behind me. I’m thinking all the worst. I turned to look and it was a girl jogging with her dog. Next thing – I see somebody else jogging from the direction we were going and it was a woman. As we kept walking, we saw men and women walking together leisurely and children playing around. It was more than safe. What was amazing was that it was about 10 o’clock when we headed back from Joppa and guess what – more people were just coming to the boardwalk to jog and exercise. We saw women by themselves and families and couples. The next day I asked the guide about it and he said – “The media paints a very negative picture of Israel. What you saw is normal. What you didn’t see was that there were plain-clothes policeman everywhere. Because we have to deal with terrorism so much, the result is that we’re probably the safest country on earth and our people know it.”

We saw a lot of sites and took as many as 5000 pictures and videos and plan on passing it along to you but we also had loads of fun!

This morning we’re back in our series on the Life of Christ and I’m preaching a message from Matthew 4 on the temptation of Jesus titled – HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT. I’m going to read this passage right from the wilderness of Judea where Jesus was tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Judean Wilderness

Judaea Wilderness (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: The wilderness of Judea extends from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. It is 35 miles long and 15 miles wide. It is an area of yellow sand and crumbling limestone. Even to this day there’s nothing out there but wild animals. As we drove through it, I tried to imagine what it was like for Jesus to be out there, isolated and hungry, tormented by the devil himself. He didn’t have to go through that but He did. Why? He did it to teach us how to overcome temptation in our own lives.

This morning we will learn 4 things from the life of Jesus on how to deal with temptation or the forbidden fruit:

I. TIMING: USUALLY FOLLOWING THE MOUNTAINTOPS. 

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Background: To understand the seriousness of this passage, you actually have to read it in its context. In the verses directly preceding this passage, we read about John’s baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. By the way, we’re skipping over this message that I preached right by the banks of the Jordan River. You’ll get to watch it in a few Sundays. But this baptism was a very important event in the life of Jesus. As Matthew tells us that when He came up out of the water – 16 “behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Wow! Jesus was fully God but also remember that He was fully man. This was a mountaintop moment in His life. Gone were the days of just being a carpenter’s son in Nazareth; gone were the days of saying “My time has not yet come.” Gone were the days of waiting patiently. Luke tells us in Luke 3:23 that Jesus was thirty years of age at this time. His Heavenly Father had acknowledged him. You would think that the next thing would be for Him to find a pulpit and preach a thundering message or put up a sign up sheet of who wants to be my disciple or march into the temple in Jerusalem and declare that He was the Son of God here to save the world.

Instead, the very next verse says – 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. I actually love Mark’s rendition in Mark 1:12 “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.”

King David's Tomb

King David’s Tomb (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

There’s a powerful principle here that you cannot afford to miss – “Be careful about the mountaintops in the Christian life. It’s right after a great message, a great service, a spiritual victory, and some positive experience in our lives that we face some of the worst and the lowest moments of our lives.” In fact, we are the most vulnerable right after we have seen God’s glory. We had the opportunity to see the tomb of David. I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 23 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Now the very next verse – 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Application: Are you dealing with the wilderness of temptation? Do you feel that the enemy is after you? Are you on the mountaintop?

II. BAIT: NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED 

Background: The tactics of the Enemy haven’t changed much since the Garden of Eden. We’re going to follow the chronology of the temptations as given by Luke in his gospel. Matthew was not concerned about the order, which is fine.

First Bait – Luke 4:3   And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” He appealed to His appetite. Remember – he did the same to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…” People will do almost anything just satisfy their taste buds and belly.

Second Bait – Luke 4:5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” He appealed to His eyes/pleasure. Once again remember he did the same to Eve. Genesis 3:6 “…that it was pleasant to the eyes…” The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Third Bait – Luke 4:9   Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ 11 and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” He appealed to His pride. Once again remember Eve. Genesis 3:6 “…and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

The baits haven’t changed – Appetite, Pleasure, and Pride. Listen to 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Does this mean we cannot enjoy good food, pleasure, and have ambitions? Of course not. The question is – “Is God the center and focus of your life?” 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Application: Are you letting food, pleasure, and pride rule your life? Are you aware of the enemy’s bait in your life?

III. DEFENSE: GOD’S WORD. 

Each times the devil tempted Jesus He replied with Scripture. He used the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)

#1 Food – Luke 4:4 Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” He was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

#2 Pleasure – 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:13.

#3 Pride – 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.

Most people (and I’m not exempting Christians from this category) tend to live by their emotions, intuitions, or experiences. As a pastor I do a lot of marital and premarital counseling. I explain to the couples that your emotions can be very misleading. You hear things like – “I felt I had to do that.” “I just had this feeling.” “You know when you get that feeling.” Men – You’re married but what if you were to come across this woman and immediately you feel a connection with her. It’s amazing! She’s the one! You can feel it deep within! I made a huge mistake and married the wrong person and I need to get with this one. You might wanna try Tums! And the same goes with you ladies.

One of my favorite quotes by J. Sidlow Baxter is “Your emotions are the shallowest part of your nature. God doesn’t do His deepest work in the shallowest part.”

So what is the surest way of handling temptations? It is the truth of the Word of God. Listen to Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” That’s why at Clearview we focus so much on the Bible with adults and youth and children (Awana). By the way, you better know your Bible because sometimes the enemy may even use the Bible against you. Jerome the church father who translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate (we stood in the place where he worked and later his grave was) said, “Therefore if anyone is not feeding on the Word of God, that person is not living.”

Application: What is the place of God’s Word in your life? Are you feeding upon it? Are you reading it? Are you hearing it preached? Are your children coming to Sunday School, youth, Awana, etc?

IV. KEY: JESUS WAS MORE THAN OUR EXAMPLE.

It is very easy to misunderstand this message. “Jesus has given us an example on how to deal with temptation. All you have to do with temptation is know the timing, recognize the baits, and use the Bible.” Not true.

Israel wandering in the Wilderness

Israel wandering in the Wilderness (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Have you noticed that every time Jesus responded to the devil He quoted from Deuteronomy? These words were actually given to the people of Israel when they left Egypt and were headed to the Promised Land. God had told them to trust Him, look to Him, wait upon Him, and they will be all right. As you know, the people blew the test. They didn’t trust God, didn’t look to Him, and didn’t wait upon Him. They griped, complained, worshipped the golden calf, and disobeyed Moses. What was the result? They all had to die in the wilderness.

Jesus in those 40 went through what the people of Israel went through in 40 years and He showed how it is more than possible to walk with God in faith and obedience. But there’s more – He did it to become our provision as we walk through the same trials and temptations. Listen to Hebrews 2:18 “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Meaning: My job and your job in dealing with trials and temptations is to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

In Matthew 14:22 we read how the disciples were in the middle of the Sea, tossed by the waves. We were on the Sea of Galilee and its quite frightening how it can go from being perfectly calm to a storm. As you know Jesus walked to them and they were afraid thinking it was a ghost. But Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous… Meaning: He took his eyes off Jesus. Immediately he began to sink. They key is to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Invitation: Do you have your eyes on Jesus? Are you saved?

PASTOR SHAH FROM ISRAEL

This weekend you will (hopefully) be viewing the message  I recorded on the banks of the Jordan River.  If technology didn’t cooperate well, Ryan Hill and Mike Breedlove have graciously given of their time to preach the message this weekend.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us.  We are learning and growing in our love for God and His word.

Pastor Shah

SECRET TO THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE (Article)

SECRET TO THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on January 10, 2015)

According to popular research, this year’s resolutions were no different than the years before – “Get More Sleep,” “Save Money,” “Quit Smoking or Drinking,” and, top of the list as always, “Loose Weight.” Oh yes – there was also “Flossing!” I guess nobody wants a “Bridge Over Troubled Molars!” But sadly, most people’s resolutions go in one year and out the next. Why is that? It’s because of a three-letter word that has all but disappeared from American Christianity. It only brings up images of Bible thumping preachers in tent revivals. It conjures up feelings of guilt and condemnation. I’m talking about the word “Sin.” Now before you throw down this paper, I urge you to suspend your judgment briefly and keep reading. This may hold the secret to the best year of your life! Here’s why –

  1. Our fundamental problem is Sin – We have renamed and redressed our problems but sin “by any other name” still reeks of sin: selfishness, pride, envy, jealousy, anger, hate, bitterness, lying, control issues, insecurities, bad habits, addictions, sexual sins, lust, pornography, lack of discipline (food, time, thoughts), lack of obedience, lack of commitment, and everything that’s anti-God. Unfortunately, we are both sinners by nature and sinners by choice. We are born in iniquity and sins (Psalm 51:5) and then we deliberately choose to go astray (Isaiah 53:6).
  2. Sin destroys our life – Initially, sin is not a big deal but “its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Take for example something as seemingly harmless as “time-management.” So many people have made resolutions to manage time better in 2015. Here’s a question: Why do we waste time? First, we think it’s our time. That’s a lie. It’s God’s time. He has given the same amount of time to the President and the man living on the street. When we waste time, we are wasting His time, which is a form of stealing. That’s a sin. Second, we spend countless hours in mindless entertainment, trolling on Facebook, sticking our nose in other people’s business, or fighting endlessly in marriage and relationships. We have lost sight of God’s purpose for our lives and do not care to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. That’s a sin. Third, we waste time because we presume that others will pick up our slack. In essence, we look down on other people’s schedules and lives. That’s a sin. Fourth, we take on too many things and then we cannot manage our time. Somehow we think too highly of our selves. That’s a sin. Fifth, we waste time because we do not value our own selves. As someone said, “If you value your self, you will value your time.” If you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” then so is your time. Lack of self-worth comes from believing what we or someone else have said about us rather than what God has said about us. That’s a sin. Need I go on!

If you open your eyes, you will see that sin is destroying marriages, goals, success, health and everything that is wonderful.

  1. Sin needs a Savior – Even though sin is the ultimate culprit behind all our problems, it is ultimately against God. God is Holy and He cannot tolerate even a speck of sin. Hence, Jesus came and took the penalty of sin upon Himself by dying on the cross. By receiving Him as your Savior you don’t have to face the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9) But there’s more! Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age.” (Galatians 1:4) Of course, one day we will be permanently free from the presence of sin but even now we have been set free from the power of sin. As we look to the Holy Spirit, He helps us to reject sin and walk in righteousness (Romans 8:2-4). In the famous hymn “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” Charles Wesley writes, “He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free.”

Repentance Anyone?!!

THE DIFFERENCE THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES IN OUR LIVES

January 10-11, 2015

The Difference the Holy Spirit Makes
This weekend we will be hearing a message titled “THE DIFFERENCE THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES IN OUR LIVES.”

We often hear message after message about how we should do this and not do that. This Sunday we are shaking things up a little bit. You will be hearing brief testimonies about what happens when the Holy Spirit gets hold of a person’s life. This does not mean that we never falter. Each of the men who will be sharing will be quick to remind you that they are not speaking because they have mastered the art of the Christian life. Instead,it’s only by the grace of God that they are standing.

This is one message that you cannot afford to miss, especially men. In America today we desperately need men to stand up and be counted as leaders and followers of Jesus Christ.

Don’t miss this message. Invite your friends and family to come along.Pastor Shah…………..

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