Loving the Unlovables – Part Two

LOVING THE UNLOVABLES by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
unlovables2

Introduction: This morning we are in part 2 of our message – “Loving the Unlovables.” It’s easy to love people who love us. It’s easy to love people who are just like us. But, it’s very difficult to love people who hate us and want to hurt us. If I may say it, it’s impossible to love them without the love of Christ in our hearts.

Matthew 5   43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is the crescendo of the Sermon on the Mount. R.T. Kendall, a famous Bible teacher and one time pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, said (I’m paraphrasing), “If the Sermon on the Mount is the Swiss Alps (beautiful and majestic mountain ranges in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and France) of the Bible, then the passage we just read is the Matterhorn or the highest peak in the Swiss Alps.” The other passages are important but this one is the most difficult of all. Listen again to verse 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies…” It goes totally against our visceral nature, our natural human tendency. Let me repeat what I said earlier – “It’s easy to love people who love us, but it’s very hard to love people, be kind to people, do good to people who do not love us or hate us, or even want to hurt us. Our natural inclination is to payback, to fire back, or to return hate for hate.”

Question: Who comes to your mind right now? Is there someone in your life who is difficult to love? Do they seem to bring out the worst in you? Do you wish that if this person were not in your life, it would be so much better? Again, please don’t misunderstand – this passage is not about bombing terrorist hideouts and fighting back when someone threatens your life, family, or country. This passage is about loving people who are difficult to love. The Holy Spirit has brought you here for a reason. Are you saved? If not, you are an enemy of God. Christ came to reconcile you.

3 questions we will try to answer from this passage on how to love the unlovables:

I. WHO CAN BE OUR ENEMY?

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies…”

Background: First, who is our neighbor? According to Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Neighbor was anyone who was part of the family of Israel. You were obligated to love them. Enemy was anyone who was not part of the family of Israel. They were outside your blood family or religious family. In other words, you’re not going to see them at family reunions or church service. You are connected to them because of some obligation or need or some situation. You may see them at work, neighborhood, or community but other than that you have no bond with them.

Let me clarify – not everyone who is not blood family or church family is necessarily our enemy. There are people we come across with daily that we get along with. Here’s a positive example: In our flight from New York to Tel Aviv, we got stuck because of the snow. When you are around the same group of people in the same situation for an extended period of time, you develop a bond. I sat next to an orthodox Jewish man and we talked and laughed and got along well. It was positive. But here’s a negative example: On our way back from New York to RDU, our flight was delayed about 7 hours because of the snow. Finally, when we got on board, the airhostess had a very bad attitude. She had a scowl on her face and she snapped at everything and everyone. If I’m not wrong she even called me a name under her breath. She was the enemy. I had no obligation to her. I didn’t want anything from her. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane and get away from her and even report her.

By the way, on a scale of 1 to 10, that’s a 2. But, the enemy could be much worse. A 10 is someone who wants to kill you. Hopefully none of us have any 10s in our lives! When Jesus said those words I can almost visualize hands going up – “Do you mean that I have to love these Romans who desecrate our holy ground, who kill our people, who control our lives?” “Do you mean that I need to love these filthy Samaritans who harassed our ancestors, who don’t believe like we believe?” “Do you mean that I need to love these immoral tax collectors and prostitutes who corrupt our culture, who have no regard for God?” You can almost visualize the crowd thinning out. “I can’t do that. That’s too much. No one can do that.”

Question: Who comes to mind right now? Who do you wish was not in your life? Is it a neighbor, co-worker, someone you came across at the grocery store. Is it because you come from a different cultural, geographical, political, or theological background? Is it because you have different skin pigmentation? Is it because they are envious over your looks? Is it because they are envious over why you keep getting blessed and they don’t? “Why do you have a better life, better education, better job, better home, or a better car? Why does it always work out for you and not for them?” Let me flip that around – Whose enemy are you? Who considers you as a thorn in their side? Both situations are just as sinful – to have an enemy or to be an enemy.

II. HOW SHOULD GOD’S CHILDREN RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES?

44 But I say to you, love your enemies…

Background: How do people typically respond to their enemies? Our basic response to our enemies is to retreat – just get away from them. Just like I felt towards that airhostess. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane. Sometimes people just try to repress it. Or sometimes it is retaliation. We want to give them exactly what they give us. If they curse us, we want to curse them back. If they hate us, we want to hate them back. If they spitefully use us and persecute us, we want to do the same to them. Sometimes we even apologize but it is false reconciliation. I like to call it “disguised retaliation.” You apologize to someone but add something like this – “I’m sorry for whatever I did to you.” It’s another way of saying – “You are being over sensitive.” Or, like this man who sent me an email – “I just want to tell you that I have forgiven you for all the hurt you caused me.” Then he threw in a couple of verses, preaching to me. The problem is that this man was still angry over a decision I had to make against him. He was still retaliating. I was still his enemy and he was paying me back. The only time you ever say “I forgive you” to someone is if they need to hear that from you.

So how should we respond to our enemies? Listen to what Jesus said – 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

In other words, you cannot ignore them, avoid them, argue with them, gossip against them, or use disguised retaliation against them. You show real, genuine, godly love towards your enemy by blessing them instead of cursing them, doing good to them instead of hating them, and praying for them instead of spitefully using and persecuting them. That’s easier said than done!

Who is your model? Your Father in heaven! Listen to verse 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Meaning: God is not just a holy God but He’s also gracious. We are to be like Him.

Application: How do you respond to your enemies? Ironically, I was on this passage when this airhostess was being rude. The Holy Spirit convicted me and reminded me to put this into practice. It was hard. First, I had to pray for her. Next, He told me to speak to her on the way out.

III. WHY DOES IT MATTER HOW WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES? 

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Background: The Greek word for perfect is “teleios.” Some people argue for sinless perfection but that’s not the meaning here. In fact, James 3:2 counters this very well – “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” In other words, “We all sin but if anyone can avoid sinning by words, he is a perfect man.” The meaning of the word “teleios” is also mature. What Jesus is saying is that when you begin to love your enemies instead of hating them, bless them instead of cursing them, and pray for them instead of paying them back, you will be like your Father in heaven and be more spiritually mature.

The airhostess was being immature but it was up to me to prove my pedigree. Will I be just like her or will I be truly spiritually mature and prove that God is my Father. The plane landed and the Holy Spirit told me once again to speak to her. So I turned around with a genuine smile and asked her if she’ll be able to make it home. She replied – “I can’t. This one-day trip has turned into a five-day trip. Now, I’m looking for someone to watch my kids.” I wished her well. Thank goodness for this passage or I was planning on reporting her. I’ve been praying for her ever since.

Sometimes things are not that easy. Some years back an individual broke my trust and went on a rampage against me, talked trash about me, and just hurt me. For a long while I was carrying this heavy load. It affected my personal life and spiritual life. One day I was talking to a friend of mine and he told me if I want to be set free from this. I said – “Of course I do.” Then pray for him. “Of course I do. I pray that God will convict him and lead him to repentance and all that.” He said that’s not what he was talking about. “Pray that God will bless him.” It’ll be hard but that’s the only answer. I tried it and guess what it worked! It took 3-4 weeks.

This is what Jesus did on the cross. He prayed Luke 24:34 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” G. Campbell Morgan once remarked that he expects to see in heaven the very men who nailed Jesus to the cross. After all, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness.

Invitation: Whom do you need to pray for today? Could it be that you are blessed because your enemy has actually prayed for you? Are you saved?

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself” -Amelia Earhart

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself” -Amelia Earhart

So! I’m excited to announce the launch of my daughter Rebecca’s new blog – beccatothefuture.wordpress.com. To kick it off, she talks about our recent adventure with periscope and Facebook live, broadcasting our church service from home last Sunday. With all churches closed because of snow/ice, it was awesome to gather online and worship with believers from all over! Next, she will be broadcasting live from Israel! So follow her! You won’t be disappointed! And yes – I’m very proud of her!

Becca to the Future

Sometimes adventure comes into your life when you least expect it. That is exactly what happened to a group of people on their way to the Holy Land, Israel. This past Friday (1/22) my dad, my sister, me and a group from my church were on our way to the airport, driving over ice and snow. We had prepared for months for this adventure. My dad, my sister and I were going to be filming a documentary for my church. This was a huge project! We drove for an hour and when we arrived at the airport we stood in line for two hours only to find out that our flight had been cancelled due to inclement weather! Needless to say, we were disappointed. After sitting for three more hours we were finally booked for another flight leaving on Tuesday–four days later! Although we extended our trip so that we…

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WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS

WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When All Seems HopelessIntroduction: Thank you so much to all of you are joining us via Facebook Live and Periscope! Thank you also to John, Elie, and the guys there for leading us in worship! I especially want to thank Kim Davis for giving me the idea to do this! And Donna Young as well! After the initial excitement, it was like – “Well, now I have to prepare a sermon!” This morning I want to preach a message I’ve never preached before. It’s on one of my favorite passages from the Bible from Romans 15:13 and the message is titled – “When All Seems Hopeless.” You can follow along on the screen behind me or go to my blog http://www.abidanshah.com and follow the entire message there.

Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Overall Background: The Book of Romans has been called the “Constitution of Christianity.” It’s pages have transformed the lives of men like Augustine, Luther, and Wesley and women like Elizabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint whose loved ones were killed by the Waodani. But the passage we just read is somewhat tucked away and hidden like a treasure chest, waiting to be discovered. Listen to it again – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Twice you come across the word “hope” in this verse.

Questions: Are you facing a hopeless situation in your life? Do these words sound familiar? – “I’ve given up…” “I just don’t think it’s going to work…” “There’s nothing else left…” Do you know the impact hopelessness makes on your personal health? According to a 1997 article published by the American Heart Association – those who have gone through extreme feelings of despair had a 20% greater increase of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) over a 4-year period. If hopelessness is your daily companion, then today’s message is for you. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will bring hope to your heart so that you can live again. But let me remind you – you cannot have the Holy Spirit until you accept Jesus as your Savior. Are you saved?

Let’s take this verse apart and examine each section. Then when we understand each part, we will put it back together and look at the whole.

I. GOD’S NATURE

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Background: Now we’ve heard of the God of the heavens and the earth, God of glory, God of grace, and God of our salvation. But here it is the “God of Hope.” It is one attribute of God that we don’t think about. God is the One who shows us life when there’s only death. He is the One who shows us the light at the end of the tunnel. But there’s more – He’s also the One who brings life when there’s only death and He is the One who turns on the Light at the end of the tunnel.

Think about Abraham and Sarah – almost 100 years old and she was 90 and still no child. But God had promised them that through them would come the One. He repeatedly came and encouraged them. In time God made hope a reality to Abraham and Sarah.

But let’s go even a step further – He is the Life and He is the Light. In other words, He not only sees the future and He not only brings out a good future but He is the good future.

Listen to 1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…” Titus 2:13 He is our “Blessed Hope.”

Application: What are you despairing about? Where do you need hope this morning? What impossible situation are you facing? Listen to what someone said – “The only thing we know about the future is that the providence of God will be up before dawn.”

II. OUR NEED

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Background: Here Paul mentions 2 things that the God of hope will give us: Joy and Peace. What is Joy? Paul uses this word about 21 some times. It is a sense of happiness that is not dependent on our circumstances. James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” It is connected to the word “Rejoice.” Matthew 5 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…” What about Peace? It is the calm assurance that everything will be alright. It is also independent of our circumstances. Philippians 4   6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

What’s the difference between Joy and Peace? Joy is active assurance and peace is passive assurance. Joy others can see and peace you can feel. Some people are all bubbly on the outside and inside they are torn to pieces. Others are torn outside but inside they’re okay. We need both. Spurgeon said it best – “Peace is resting joy – joy is dancing peace! Joy cries hosanna before the Well-Beloved, but peace leans her head on His bosom.”

Here’s the good news. The God of Hope fills us with joy and peace. The word “plerao” actually implies “filled to the brim” or “overflowing.”

Application: How is your joy level this morning? How is your peace level this morning? Christ brings us joy and peace. In fact, He is joy and He is peace.

III. OUR RESPONSIBILITY

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…”

Background: “in believing” means that this is no passive, sit back, and hope will take its course. You have to believe. You have to trust. You have to place your faith in God and His promises. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Alexander Maclaren gives a great illustration – “You can take a porous pottery vessel, wrap it up in waxcloth, pitch it all over, and then drop it into mid-Atlantic, and not a drop will find its way in. And that is what we can do with ourselves, so that although in Him ‘we live and move and have our being,’ and are like the earthen vessel in the ocean, no drop of the blessed moisture will ever find its way into the heart.” For a Christian Galatians 2:20 says it clearly – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Application: How is your faith level this morning? Is it low? Pray like the father who came to Jesus for his son who was demon possessed. Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Listen to the father’s response in verse 24 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

IV. HOLY SPIRIT’S ABILITY

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Background: If we were to end the message with just “believing,” it would be the most frustrating and disappointing life. It will be you trying to row the boat to shore. But, this is where the third person of the Godhead comes in – the Holy Spirit. He is the bringer of hope. Jesus demonstrated this beautifully in His earthly life. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and for the next three years He demonstrated what life in the power of the Holy Spirit looks like, whether He was tempted, preached, did miracles, and faced the ultimate trial of going to the cross. It was not limited to just Jesus but the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost and they went from hopelessness to fearlessness. Jesus had promised them this in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Application: Are you looking to the Holy Spirit for help? He is waiting for you to ask Him.

The story is told of Jane Whyte, the wife of famous Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte. Her husband had died about 10 years ago. She was depressed. She had given up on life. One evening she was at a dinner party and next to her sat a gentleman who saw how depressed she looked. He asked her – “What is your greatest concern?” She replied – “I’m preparing to die.” To which he replied, “Why not prepare to live?”

Some of us need to open the lid of the coffins of life and in the power of the Holy Spirit trust the God of hope to bring joy and peace into your life and start living again for Jesus. Are you saved?

Loving the Unlovables – Part One

LOVING THE UNLOVABLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

lovingtheunlovablesIntroduction: This weekend we are starting a new miniseries from the Sermon on the Mount titled – “LOVING THE UNLOVABLES” or “LOVING OUR ENEMIES.” Once again, Jesus is raising the bar of righteousness. He is not satisfied with us just loving our neighbors or friends but now He wants us to love our enemies as well.

Matthew 5 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust…48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Overall Background: Before we dive into this passage and learn how to love our enemies and not hold grudges and show forgiveness and all of that, we need to stop for a moment and read again verse 43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” The first half of that verse is not a problem because Leviticus 19:18 says very clearly, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…” But the second half – hate your enemy – is a huge problem. Where did Jesus get that from the Old Testament? I’ve looked and looked but there is no such verse, “hate your enemy” in the Old Testament. Could it be that it comes from passages in the Old Testament like Exodus 23:22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies…” Deut. 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge…He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, “Destroy!” Joshua 10:13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge upon their enemies. I can go on and on but here’s one more – Psalm 139 (A psalm of David) 21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.”

Several questions come to mind – Is Jesus straightening out the Old Testament? Was God in the Old Testament cruel and Jesus has come to soften the image? Is God schizophrenic? On one hand, He seems to be advocating mass genocide in the Old Testament and, on the other hand, He talks about “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”

These questions are not just meant to spark some intellectual curiosity. These questions are very important. There are people out there and even here who have a tough time accepting the message of the gospel because of what they find in the Old Testament. Our young people when they go to colleges they are bombarded by statements like – “God of love, huh?!! Are we talking about the same God who demanded the slaughter of men, women, children, and even animals?” And, the worst – “What’s the difference between the Bible and Quran? Both have their holy wars.”

This morning I want us to think. I want us to go deeper and understand the nature and purposes of God. But, you can only go only so far without receiving Jesus as your Savior. It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to truly understand the Word. Are you saved?

First we’re going to look at the wrong responses and then the right responses.

I. WRONG RESPONSES TO “HATE YOUR ENEMY”

  1. There are problems with the God of the Old Testament.

Some people read the passages where God struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt or Exodus 23:23 where it says, “For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off” and they say, “What kind of a god is this who shows favoritism to one people and kills others. How can we say “God loves the world” and at the same time He killed innocent people?

For people like this it is very hard to argue with them. They do not listen to reason. They just put up simple ideas about Christianity and then proceed to tear them down. The best you can do is pray for people like that so that God will open their hearts and minds to see the truth.

  1. There are problems with the writers of the Old Testament.

Some people read passages like Exodus 15 3 “The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name. 4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea” and     Isaiah 42:13 “The LORD shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies” and they say the human authors could not communicate accurately who God is and what He’s like. They did the best they could but obviously they made mistakes. God is not a man of war. He’s not bloodthirsty. What we need to do is look at the Old Testament through the lens of Christ. He straightens everything out and makes it all about love. They also say that we don’t need to talk about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now we need to only focus on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament has superseded the Old Testament.

Couple of problems with this view:

  1. The human authors wrote with their personalities and their contexts but the Holy Spirit inspired them. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” If so, then the Bible is inerrant, without mistakes. The problem is not with the human writers but with our lack of understanding today.
  2. If the New Testament has superseded the Old Testament, then what do you do with the Book of Revelation. Rev. 19:11   Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

There are no problems with the God of the Old Testament and there are no problems with the writers of the Old Testament.

II. RIGHT RESPONSES TO “HATE YOUR ENEMY”

  1. God’s standard of holiness is very high.

God is holy and He hates sin. He is the enemy of sin. It’s in His nature to destroy sin. In Leviticus 10 there’s an incident that makes this very clear. Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. Listen to what happened2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy…” The Canaanites became His enemies because they went contrary to His holiness. Hence He set out to destroy them and Israel became God’s instrument to deal with he unholy Canaanites. By the way, take some time to study the passages when Israel fought against their enemies. There was always a consecration and cleansing before God. Many times the ark (presence of the Lord) went before them. They had to do things His way. If not, like Ai, they were beaten.

The trouble I have with the whole “hate your enemy” thing is not that God hated the Canaanite but why did He spare the Israelite! The only answer is His grace.

By the way, Jesus did the same – He confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He cleansed the temple.

  1. God cares about the holiness of His people.

God is not only aggressive in maintaining His standard of Holiness but he wants the same for His people. He did not want His people to fall into the same sin of the peoples around them. Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 20   16 “But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 but you shall utterly destroy them…18 lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.

Jesus did not lower the standard of holiness. He actually raised it. But unlike the Old Testament where it was external, now it is internal. Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Paul expands on this in Ephesians 6   11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Hence, we do not fight holy war with the infidels anymore. The holy war is within.

  1. God took all precautions to protect His plan of redemption.

The reason you cannot find “hate your enemy” anywhere in the Old Testament is because it was not about “your enemy.” It was about God’s enemy. The people of Israel lost sight of that many times and they paid dearly. God had a plan of redemption that He promised to Abraham that through him would come the seed. He protected him and Sarah. Then He preserved His people in Egypt. Then He went before His people in the Promised Land. If you remember, when Joshua was getting ready to charge the Promised Land, in Joshua 5   13 “…that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then he told Joshua to destroy all the people of Jericho but keep in mind – Rahab was spared and became part of the genealogy. Why? Because she desired to be part of God’s plan of redemption.

One reason God fought for His people Israel was to protect His plan of redemption. Now the Promised One has come. No longer do we look at others as enemies but as people who need to hear the gospel.

We are not called to hate but to show hope to others.

Colossians 1   21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

2 questions:

  1. Are you an enemy of God?
  2. Do you look at others as your enemies?

When Someone Offends You

WHEN SOMEONE OFFENDS YOU by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whensomeoneoffendsyouIntroduction: This weekend we are back in our series on the Sermon on the Mount. Many of y’all have told me how much you’ve missed this series! I have too. For those of you who may not know – about a year and a half ago we began a series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels. Many people have a very limited knowledge of the life of Jesus. We know a little about His birth, a couple of His sayings, a few of His miracles, and snippets about His death and resurrection but beyond that Jesus remains a mystery. We need to know Jesus. He is the very foundation of our faith! So far we’ve only reached halfway through the Sermon on the Mount. We do take breaks during special holidays. But, you can do the math – maybe in 4-5 years we may get through all the parables and miracles! Today’s message is from Matthew 5 titled – “When Someone Offends You.”

Matthew 5   38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is the 5th antithesis that Jesus gave in His Sermon on the Mount – “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” In the previous 4 antitheses (go back and listen or watch them), Jesus told His listeners that He did not come to destroy the Law or abrogate the Law but to fulfill the Law and go beyond the Law. He came to raise the bar of righteousness. In others words, Jesus was saying, “Following Me will not absolve, exempt, or release you from obeying God’s commandments. In fact, it’s going to be tougher. The standards will be higher.”

Turn the other cheek

Turn the other cheek

Today’s message is a tough one. John Stott called it “the most admired and the most resented part” of the Sermon on the Mount. Listen again – 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. I don’t know about you but immediately I think of ISIS or the terrorists or some armed robber or rapist or child molester. Is Jesus telling us to sit back and let evil people run over us? Does being a Christian means being a coward, a wimp, or a pushover? Absolutely not. This passage is not about bombing terrorist hideouts and fighting back when someone threatens your life and family. This passage is about how you respond when someone offends you and tries to take advantage of your kindness.

Question: Are you a “tit for tat” kind of person? Have you ever held a grudge against someone for offending you or taking advantage of your kindness? Do you like to say things like – “You don’t know who you’re messing with”? Are you a Spirit-led person or a self-led person? Because without the Holy Spirit you cannot do this. Are you saved?

Jesus gives 4 scenarios on how to respond when someone offends us. Let the Holy Spirit begin to soften your hearts and make you more and more like Christ.

I. WHEN SOMEONE HUMILIATES YOU

39 “…But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

Background: Some people have tried to argue – “if someone were to slap you on the right cheek, it meant that they were more than likely using their right hand. This means that they were slapping you with the back of their hand. This was considered far more insulting.” There is some truth to that in the Mishnah (Jewish Oral Tradition) where it prescribes that if someone slapped you they would have to pay 200 zuz but if they slapped you with the back of their hand, they must pay 400 zuz. But I don’t think Jesus was trying to make it this complicated. The real point of this scenario is the insult of being slapped. Your face is you. It is very personal. Slapping someone’s face is slapping his or her identity. I think that being slapped is worse than being punched. Sure the punch may hurt far more but a slap in the face is an attack on your personhood. It is humiliating. That’s where we get the phrase – “slap in the face.”

The normal human response to insult is to insult back. You may have heard of Churchill and Lady Astor. They were always at each other. One time Lady Astor called Churchill “disgustingly drunk.” To which he replied – “Tomorrow morning I’ll be sober but you’ll still be ugly.” Another time – Lady Astor told Churchill – “If I was married to you, I would poison your tea.” To which he replied – “If I was married to you, I would drink it.” Most insults are not that witty and funny. They are quite painful and incite anger.

What Jesus is telling His disciples is this – “When someone insults you, don’t return insult for insult. If you do, then you are stooping to their level. Turn the other cheek.” This does not mean stick around and get some more insults or refuse to speak up. It simply means – refuse to insult back. There is far more dignity and strength in standing tall in the face of humiliation. By the way, Jesus didn’t just preach this. He also practiced it. In John 18 the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine but Jesus told him to ask those who had heard Him. At the point in verse 22 “…one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”

Application: How do you handle insults? Do you give tit for tat? Do you turn things over to God or do you stoop down to the level of their offender?

II. WHEN SOMEONE IS HEARTLESS TO YOU 

40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

Chiton

Chiton

Himation

Himation

Background: If you think the last one was tough, this one is tougher. First of all, the tunic or “khiton” was an individual’s inner garment. It was a long or short-sleeved shirt that extended to the knees or ankles. The cloak or “himation,” on the other hand, was the outer garment. It was much more visible and very essential to keep you presentable and warm. In fact, according to the Old Testament, the coat could not be kept as a pledge overnight. In this scenario, someone is so mean that they would even take the very clothes off your back! What kind of a person would do something like this? Obviously, someone who is very inconsiderate! In this situation you can counter sue them for their inner garment and even win. Now they would be left naked.

Don’t misunderstand – This is not about clothes and there are times that you have to go to court and sue to retrieve what is rightfully yours. What Jesus is telling us here is – “Don’t return meanness for meanness. In fact, show them grace and mercy.” By the way, Jesus didn’t just preach this. He also practiced it. Matthew 27:35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Application: How do you handle inconsiderate people? Do you counter-attack or do you take it God? Many of us never give God the chance to show grace in our lives. Listen to Exodus 22 26 If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious. Are you missing out on God’s grace in your life? 

III. WHEN SOMEONE IS HATEFUL TO YOU

41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

Background: According to Roman law, the troops could order their Jewish subjects people to carry their luggage or supplies for them. If you remember, Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus because He couldn’t do it because of loss of blood. They could even seize their animals for personal use, sometimes never to return. The Roman soldiers often abused this right. Sometimes even the Roman rulers and the Senate had to reprimand their troops for abusing the locals. The reason they felt they could do this is because they looked down upon the Jewish people. Jesus definitely had this situation in mind. The word “mile” is a Latin tern for “one thousand paces.”

What Jesus is telling His listeners is – “He is mistreating you because he thinks he is better than you. Don’t stop at the first mile. Ask him if he needs help with the second mile.” Wow! By the way, Jesus didn’t just preach this. He also practiced it. On the night when Jesus was betrayed, Judas brought a great multitude with swords and clubs to the Garden of Gethsemane. At that point Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant. Listen to what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 26 52 “Put your sword in its place… 53 …do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? Then He healed Him.

Application: How do you deal with people who are condescending to you? How do you take it when someone talks down to you? Do you try to talk down to them or do you give your case over to God?

IV. WHEN SOMEONE HUSTLES YOU

42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Background: I think this is the toughest one. No one likes a fraud. No one likes to be deceived. I don’t think Jesus is telling us to encourage bad behaviour and bad habits. In this verse the person He has in mind is probably one who makes his living by begging from others. They can’t manage their finances. They can’t control their bad habits. They live off the generosity of others. Jesus tells us to give it and don’t turn away when they want to borrow from you.

This does not mean you need to hand your car keys to a drunk or your house keys to a thief or your bank account to some con. What it does mean is that when someone comes to you asking for a few bucks to buy a sandwich, don’t launch into a federal investigation. When someone says – “Can I borrow a few bucks to meet some need?” – don’t make them sign on the dotted line.

This whole section is under the heading – “You are the Salt of the Earth. You are the Light of the World.” This means that the only way this world will remain livable is when Christians refuse to get offended and show grace to those who are least deserving. The idea of gentlemen and gentle ladies is a Christian concept. In a world full of revenge, pay backs, and get even, only Christianity has the answer.

Definition of a Gentleman by Robert E. Lee – The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.”

Only through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit we can have such an attitude. Listen to I Peter 2 21 “…because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps…23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

Are you saved?

Why We Need Community – Part Two

WHY WE NEED COMMUNITY? – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whyweneedcommunity2Introduction: Today we’re going to look at part 2 of the message titled – “Why We Need Community?” Sometimes people have a false impression about community. They think that getting into small groups means losing all your freedom and letting others control your life. That’s not true and today we will learn what is and is not community.

Acts 2 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Overall Background: The Book of Acts gives us the history of the first church. It tells us how the church grew by leaps and bounds after Jesus ascended into heaven. There are things in this book that we are supposed to copy and then things that were not meant to be copied. For e.g. In chapter 2 we read that the Holy Spirit came as a rushing mighty wind and rested as tongues of fire over the disciples. We cannot replicate that today. It was a once-for-all event. Such things belong to what John Stott called the “honeymoon period” of the church. Then there are things from the early church that can be copied. For e.g. 46 “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” Meaning: the first church not only met at the temple for worship but they also fellowshipped from house to house. And what was the result? 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. In other words, the lost world saw the love among these Christians and they were drawn to them.

Listen carefully – there’s a reason why Christianity is struggling in America. It’s not because there is less preaching or worship or the Holy Spirit. It’s because most Christians in America are living in isolation. Somehow they have the false idea that Christianity is only about coming to church on Sunday mornings and then – we’ll see you when we see you. Community is a non-essential. It’s a headache. It’s a burden.

Question: What do you think of community? Are you afraid of community? Do you realize how important it is for your own life and the growth of the church? Are you willing to connect with others in the body of Christ? Are you saved?

Unfortunately, many people have a lot of misunderstandings and fears about community. In this message we will understand what community is not and what true community is. Let the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the truth about the Body of Christ.

I. WHAT COMMUNITY IS NOT.

Here are the three things it’s not:

  1. TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY IS NOT COMMUNISM.

Acts 2  44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Some people have misunderstood what this means. They think that it means we are to take from the rich and give to the poor. They think that it means we have to reduce everyone down to the same level, something like communism. That’s not true. Sure – in the early church, they had to resort to pulling their resources together to help each other. This was to help the new movement get on its feet. People had lost their homes and jobs because of their faith. Hence they had to sell “their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” But nowhere is this prescribed for all Christians through the ages. God is not against people working hard and getting rich or creating a better world for their children. God loves the poor but He also loves the rich.

Illustration: In London’s Hyde Park, at the Speaker’s Corner, a communist stood up to make his speech. He went on and one and then pointed to an poor elderly man in the crowd and said – “When the communists are in charge, they will put a new suit on that old man.” To which a pastor in the audience shouted back – “When Jesus is in charge, He’ll put a new man inside that old suit.” Couple of years ago I was speaking at a retreat for Chinese scholars from a big university. They were sent here for their education. They were the cream of the crop. I spoke to them on “Why Jesus is the most popular person of all times?” After the second night, they challenged me saying communism was better. So I gave them that same line. They didn’t know what to say.

Community means we need to take care of each other. When we see someone in the body in need we are to come together and help them. Listen to Deuteronomy 15:11 “therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” Again, 1 John 3:17 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

But let me caution – this does not mean that you can sit on your blessed assurance, make bad decisions, and expect everyone to take care of you. That’s called taking advantage of the generosity of your church family. I’ve seen some of that too.

2.  TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY IS NOT A CAGE.

46 So continuing daily

Some people mistakenly think that being in a community means being stuck in a cage – you can no longer do what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you want to live. Now you are obligated to everyone else. That’s just not true. Sure – in the early church, they had to come together and stick to each other because they were all baby Christians. They needed each other 24/7. But nowhere is this prescribed for all Christians for all ages. God does not expect us to start a commune and build high fences and shun each other if we get out of line. God loves variety. He loves how we are different in the body of Christ.

What this does mean is that we are to come together and build relationships with others in the body of Christ. Listen to what Jesus said in John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Again in 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Community is not controlling each other’s lives. It’s coming together because we have the same blood running through us – the blood of Christ. It’s being family.

3.  TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY IS NOT A CLICK.

Some people have misunderstood what this means. They mistakenly think that community is some kind of an exclusive group of the chosen ones. They think that somehow they are better than others. That’s just not true. It is true that Christians have a whole new perspective on life. It’s true that now they live under the direction of the Holy Spirit, which is very hard for lost people to understand. Having said that, community is not a click. God wants us to connect with each other in such a way that the world would see us and want to join in.

Listen to John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” When the lost world sees our community, they should want to join us. When they see the way we care for each other, help each other, encourage each other, hold each other accountable, they should want to join us.

II. WHAT IS COMMUNITY?

Here are the three commonalities that hold a Christian Community together.

  1. TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY MEANS HAVING A COMMON FAITH.

Acts 2 44 Now all who believed were together,

The basis for our community is what we believe. It is our common faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. You take that away and we are no different than any worldly club. As long as we keep Christ at the center of our lives and seek to help each other draw closer to Christ, we are a true community of faith. This is why community is not about controlling each other. It is about leading each other to trust Christ more each and every day. When we are together in our faith, we grow in our faith. This is how it was always meant to be. Are you growing in your faith? If you noticed, I didn’t ask – “Are you growing in your knowledge?”

  1. TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY MEANS HELPING EACH OTHER IN OUR COMMON STRUGGLE.

and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Even though community is not communism. It is communal. We help each other out through our common struggles in life. All of us have physical struggles (we get sick or have unforeseen circumstances), emotional struggles (we feel sorrow, regrets, guilt, shame, loss, doubts, fears), financial struggles (money is not everything but it’s a very important thing), and spiritual struggles (past failures, present mistakes, future doubts). For this and more, God wants us to stick together. Listen to Galatians 6   1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

  1. TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY MEANS HAVING COMMON GOALS.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people.

Community is not just about personal growth or the growth of those in the community but it is also about those who are outside the community. Christians began to have favor with their neighbors. Meaning: the world began to look at the church with a sense of admiration and longing. Won’t that be something if we could have that today?

And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Meaning: The church kept on growing by leaps and bounds.

Are you saved? Are you connected?

Why We Need Community – Part 1

WHY WE NEED COMMUNITY? – pt 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whyweneedcommunityIntroduction: This weekend I am beginning a two-part message titled “Why We Need Community?” In our world of hyper-connectivity with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we’re still isolated. With isolation comes anxiety and anxiety brings bad decisions.

1 Samuel 21   10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” 12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.

Overall Background: I’m sure all of us are familiar with David in the Bible – the shepherd boy who rescued his father’s sheep from a lion and a bear, the young lad who defeated Goliath the Philistine giant, or the great warrior who subdued thousands of Israel’s enemies. But there’s one image of David that’s very hard to imagine. Listen to verse 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. What in the world is David doing? He’s acting as if he’s lost his mind! The clue to his erratic behavior is found in the question that Ahimelech the priest asks David when he came to him: “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?” David is running from Saul and he is all alone. What happens when people are alone? They become afraid. What happens when people are afraid? They make bad decisions. Listen to verse 10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath (Philistines). In other words, he jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Talk about a bad decision!

It’s amazing what loneliness will cause a person to do. It will cause people to be afraid and when people are afraid, they will make decisions that they would never make in their right minds. In other words, loneliness leads to fear and fear leads to foolish choices.

Question: Are you filled with anxiety? Are you making bad decisions? Are you isolated? You say – “Oh no. I’ve got friends.” Are they the right kind of friends? When you get saved you become part of this body. Are you saved?

This morning we will learn why we need community from the life of David. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you.

I. NEED FOR TRUE FRIENDSHIPS 

1 Samuel 20 41 “…And they (Jonathan and David) kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’ ”

Background: Who is Jonathan? He was the son of King Saul, king of Israel. Jonathan was David’s best friend but his father Saul hated David. It all began when David returned after defeating the Philistines and the women came out singing and dancing, saying – “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” This made Saul very angry and from that day forward he began to eye David. He tried every possible way to kill him. Jonathan was aware of his father’s hatred against David but he also knew that David was the rightful heir to the throne and he was willing to stand with David even though it would cost him the kingdom. He repeatedly tried to encourage him. Later in 1 Samuel 23 16 Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. Even though David was a man after God’s own heart, he still needed a Jonathan to strengthen him. John Piper said – “Don’t ever think that a man is so strong that he does not need to be strengthened in God.” Listen to how Jonathan encouraged David – 17 “…Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 18 So the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Can you imagine the courage that came into David’s heart because of Jonathan’s words? That’s what true friends do.

Beth Shean

Beth Shean (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

All of us need a Jonathan in our lives. All of us need friends who will love us unconditionally and stand with us even if the whole world turns against us. David loved his friend Jonathan right to the end. In the famous battle on Mount Gilboa, the Philistines killed Saul and Jonathan and hung their bodies on the walls of Beth Shean. Nicole and I have been there. Valiant men came and took down their bodies and David rewarded those men. He even wrote a beautiful song in honor of Jonathan and Saul. David understood the value of a true friend.

Application: Do you have such a friend/friends? Do you have such Jonathans in your life? Many people are loners, especially when it comes to the Christian life. No wonder they fall apart. No wonder they make poor decisions. Are you making poor decisions? Could it be it’s because you are a spiritual loner? “I just don’t have no friends.” You have to be friendly to have friends.

II. DANGER OF ISOLATION 

1 Samuel 20 42 “…So he (David) arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”

Background: After Jonathan and David wept, it was time to part. Jonathan went back to the city of Gibeah, north of Jerusalem and David went 3 miles towards the city of Nob, southwest of Jerusalem. Listen to 1 Samuel 21:1 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?” For the first time David is all alone and Ahimelech could probably see that in his eyes. Fear is contagious. David’s fear transferred to Ahimelech. What happens when people are afraid? They make bad decisions:

Here’s bad decision #1verse 2 So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. That’s a lie. Out of fear, David is lying. By the way, this lie would cost Ahimelech his life as well as the life of 84 other men and women, children, nursing infants, and livestock.

Ahimelech giving sword to David - Aert de Gelder

Ahimelech giving sword to David – Aert de Gelder

Here’s bad decision #2 – verse 8 And David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” He keeps lying. Verse 9 So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.” That should’ve been enough a wakeup call. God was reminding David to trust Him as he had done as a young lad against Goliath. David is too scared to think straight and he chooses to trust in Goliath’s old sword. Out of fear, David has lost his faith in God.

Here’s bad decision #3 – verse 7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD. And his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chief of the herdsmen who belonged to Saul. Uh oh…David must have noticed this Edomite servant of Saul near the tabernacle and he immediately got scared. What did he do? Verse 10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. This was a Philistine city 23 miles to the west. What is worse is that it was the hometown of Goliath! This is the guy who killed their hometown hero and he shows up with Goliath’s sword! David has lost all sense of wisdom.

The Philistines recognize David and they tell their king – “Isn’t he the one who has killed our thousands?” Listen to David’s response – 12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. How tragic! This courageous man of God out of fear has been making one bad decision after another and now he is acting like a fool. Many of us make foolish decision and keep sliding down the slippery slope of despair when we are isolated from God’s people.

Application: Have you been making some bad decisions in your life? Have you gone from faith to fear? Where are the Jonathans in your life? Are you connected to God’s people? If you are honest, you would agree – this place has kept many of y’all from making some very foolish decisions in your life?

III. GOD’S PURPOSE IN COMMUNITY

David wrote Psalm 56 as a prayer during this time. Listen to it – 1 Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me. 2 My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High…6 They gather together, They hide, they mark my steps, When they lie in wait for my life. He is asking God to come to His rescue. God answers His prayer. He doesn’t strike Saul. He doesn’t strike Doeg the Edomite. He doesn’t strike the Philistines. What does God do? 1 Samuel 22   1 David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. This was a well-known place in Judah. It was 10 miles from Gath and 15 miles from Bethlehem. Once again David prayed like he did back in Gath. One such prayer is Psalm 142. Listen to the words – 1  I cry out to the LORD with my voice…4 Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul. 5 I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living…7 Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me.” What David is saying is “God – I need you and I need some righteous people to come alongside of me.”

Did God answer David’s prayer? 1 Samuel 22  1 “…So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.” God sent people to David. By the way, they are not perfect people. 2 “And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.”

God’s plan for us hasn’t changed. If David needed community, you and I need community. The reason marriages fall apart is because there is no one there who is holding people accountable. The reason children go off the deep end is because there is no one holding our young people accountable. The reason men and women make foolish decision is because they are going about as Lone Rangers, trying to take on the enemy. It was never meant to be this way. God designed us to work in a community.

In this coming year our focus at Clearview is community. We want you to plug in through our Sunday School, Fish groups, and Clearview Circles into some kind of community that will give you the courage to face life and make wise choices. No amount of bible study and prayer can take the place of godly connection.

Simple Question

  1. Are you connected to Christ?
  2. Are you connected to the Body of Christ

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES – Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on December 5, 2015)

Dear Candidates,

Thank you for your desire to lead our great nation! We can only imagine the toll this has taken on you and your loved ones.

Presidential election 2016Let’s get right to it – You are running for the job because you agree that something is broken with our nation and you have the answer to fix it. If you think everything is just fine, then you’re out of touch with the American people. Frankly, the worst thing that our citizens can do is put you in the office! But, if your desires are noble, then the question is – “what do you think is broken with our nation?”

Here are some things that are not broken:

  1. Our American Spirit – We don’t need a President who feels that he has to constantly apologize to the world on our behalf. Most of us are very proud of our great nation! We have things to work on but it’s not our spirit. We think John Wayne said it best – “Sure, I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure, I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be.”
  2. Our American Values – Our nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles. The freedoms and dignity that we continue to enjoy are hinged on them. We need a President who will uphold and protect them. If you set out to revise them, you will destroy our very foundation. As Proverbs 22:28 warns, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.”
  3. Our American Dream – There’s no such thing as the Russian dream or Chinese dream or Swedish dream. It’s only in America that you can chart the course of your life. People may complain of injustice and unfairness but having lived overseas, I can assure you that this is still the land of opportunity. Please don’t communicate entitlement or hopelessness to our young people. They need to believe that if they work hard, their dreams can become a reality.

Here are some things that need to be fixed:

  1. Our Image before Our World – In the past few years it appears that America has lost the respect it once had before other countries. Some may ask – “Why do we deserve any special treatment?” or “What’s wrong with taking a backseat?” Remember the adage – “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” The reason wicked men are running amuck and rogue nations are threatening nuclear war is because the leader of the free world is nowhere to be found. Now the inmates are running the asylum! Our world needs us to lead again. Luke 12:48 reminds us, “to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” We need a President who will restore our position as the force for good.
  2. Our Faith in Our Government – If you ask most Americans, they will tell you that we have become uncomfortable with the growing infringement on our freedoms and values. We have to ask – “What is the role of our government?” It is to protect our life, liberty, and property. It is to punish those who infringe on the rights of others, get restitution for the victims, and care for those who are really in need. Most importantly, it is obligated to defend us against foreign and domestic threats. When law-abiding and tax-paying citizens become leery of the government, something is terribly wrong! Romans 13:3 is the litmus test of good government – “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.” We need a President who will restore our trust in our leaders again.

If you feel you are up for this task, our prayer is that God will give you the wisdom of Solomon to lead these United States.

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life? – Part Two

WHAT IS JESUS DOING IN YOUR LIFE? – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

What is Jesus Doing 2Introduction: This is our last message in the miniseries “Before the Manger.” The purpose of this series was to understand that Jesus was not just some baby born in a manger 2000 years ago. He was also the Son of God, the King of Glory who had no beginning. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, who appeared throughout the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord. Now we are in the second part of the message – “What is Jesus doing for you?”

John 5 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life…45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Overall Background: In the passage we just read, Jesus is chastising the Pharisees and the scribes for their failure to recognize Him. Listen again to verse 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. In other words, “You are so diligent in studying the Old Testament, but you’re so blind that you keep missing Me. Ever said that to somebody? “How can you be so blind? You missed the point completely!” Again he says in verse 46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.” Listen carefully: If you try to study this book but ignore Jesus, you will miss the point of this book. I am not suggesting that He is in every syllable and every word but He is the focus and the fulfillment of this book.

Last week we learned that the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is the Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament. 1. He revealed God in the OT. He revealed God in the NT. He is still revealing God to His people today. You want to know more about God, go to Jesus. 2. He called and sent people in the OT. He called and sent people in the NT. He is still calling and sending people today. You want to know what God is calling you to do, look to Jesus. 3. He interceded for His people in the OT. He interceded for His disciples in the NT. He is still interceding for His people today. You want someone to pray for you, ask Jesus to pray for you. Question: What is Jesus doing for you? Is He revealing God to you? Is He calling you? Is He sending you to a task? Is he interceding for you before the Father? Are you saved?

This morning we will look at the remaining ministries of Jesus for His people. Let the Holy Spirit show you how central Jesus is to your life:

I. HE SHOWS COMPASSION TO US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL. 

In the OT Jesus came as the Angel of the Lord to Hagar as she was running away from her mistress Sarah. He finds her sitting by the spring on the way to Shur, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Listen to what He says to her in Genesis 16:10 the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” He even picked the name Ishmael for her. By the way, here you find the seed of the conflict that’s going on in the Middle East. 12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” That’s exactly what’s been happening for centuries? Now listen to Hagar’s response to the Angel of the Lord in verse 13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You–Are–the–God–Who–Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Later He showed compassion to Hagar again when she and Ishmael left for good.

Feeding the 5000In the New Testament Jesus did the same thing. The multitude kept following Him from place to place. Listen to Matthew 14:14 “He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples wanted to send them away so they could find their own food. Instead, Jesus took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed 5000 men, besides women and children. In the next chapter, again, in Matthew 15:32 Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” This time He took 7 loaves and 2 little fish and fed 4000 men, besides women and children.

I can go on and on but the point is this – If you need compassion, turn to Jesus. That’s His job. He always has and He always will show compassion to you.

Question: Do you need compassion in your life? Whom are you turning to? 

II. HE DELIVERS US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL.

In Exodus 3 the Angel of the Lord came to Moses in the wilderness and spoke to him through the burning bush. Listen to verse 7 And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. Jesus notices when people are in bondage but He doesn’t stop there – 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” He is a God who delivers.

In the same way in the New Testament Jesus delivered people out of sin and bondage time and time again. In Mark 5 we read about a man in whom was an unclean spirit, He lived in a graveyard and no one could bind him down. Jesus saw his bondage and delivered him from the unclean spirit. This man sat before Jesus clothed and in his right mind. Again, He rescued Mary Magdalene out of whom he cast out seven demons. I can go on and on. The point is – Jesus has always been in the work of deliverance.

What’s He doing now? He is delivering us from the bondage of sin. Galatians 1:4 (Jesus) “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age…” Again, Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom…”

Here’s the point – If you need deliverance, turn to Jesus. That’s His job. He always has and He always will deliver you.

Question: Are you in bondage? Do you need to be set free? Are you looking to Jesus?

III. HE PROTECTS US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL. 

William-West-Israelites-passing-through-the-wilderness

Israelites passing through the wilderness by William West

In the OT Jesus came as the Angel of the Lord to protect the Hebrews as they left Egypt. Listen to Exodus 13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Where does Jesus come in? Listen to Exodus 14:19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, It’s one and the same. Listen to what God says in Exodus 23 20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. This is the same Angel of the Lord who protected Daniel in the lion’s den, as he says in Daniel 6:22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths.”

On the Sea of Galilee

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

How about in the NT? In Matthew 8 we find the disciples in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They’re about to drown and they cry out to Jesus in verse 25 “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replies in verse 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. There He is protecting His disciples.

Listen to Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Here’s the point – If you need protection, turn to Jesus. That’s His job. He always has and He always will protect you.

Question: Do you feel vulnerable? Do you feel you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Are you looking to Jesus?

IV. HE JUDGES US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL. 

In the OT we come across a very strange passage in I Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. Instead of giving God glory for his success, David began to measure his strength in numbers. God was displeased over this evil. It was judgment time. He gave David 3 choices: 3 years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.’ David chose the 3 days. Now listen to verse 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. (70,000 men died with a plague.) Who was doing this disciplining? The Angel of the Lord. “But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 16 David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown. Did you ever imagine Jesus in that role?

Henry Ian Cusick Visual Bible - The Gospel of JohnHow about the NT? At the Passover Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem. Instead of finding a place of worship, He found the temple filled with livestock and money changers doing business. What did He do next? John 2 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” He sounds very much like the Angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.

Did you realize Jesus as the one who disciplines?

John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.

In Acts 10:42 Peter says, “He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Invitation: Do you know this Jesus? Bow before Him now or face Him in judgment later.

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life?

WHAT IS JESUS DOING IN YOUR LIFE? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whatisjesusdoinginyourlifeIntroduction: This morning is part 3 of our miniseries “Before the Manger” and today’s message is titled – “What is Jesus doing in your life?”

Luke 24   13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him…27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Overall Background: In the passage we just read, two of Jesus’ disciples were on their way to the village of Emmaus, to the west of Jerusalem. We don’t know the exact location of the road but Nicole and I were in the vicinity. These disciples were trying to make sense of all that had happened. Their Master had been brutally crucified and now His body was nowhere to found. Just then Jesus joined them but they didn’t recognize Him. He asked them why they were so sad and they were shocked – “Don’t you know that Jesus of Nazareth ‘a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people’ had been brutally killed by our leaders? We were hoping He was the One to redeem Israel but He failed.”

What is Jesus’ response? First, He gets on to them and then – 27 beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” In other words, “You think I failed to do what I came to do? Apparently, you don’t know me and you don’t know what I do.” What was their response after He showed them who He was and what He did? Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” I was going to title this message – “How to get spiritual heartburn?” but I figured y’all would misunderstand it. What they were saying is – “Didn’t it set us on fire when He explained to us who He was and what He did?!!”

Listen carefully: The antidote to spiritual dullness is getting to know Jesus like never before! Question: How is your spiritual fire? Is it raging or is it flickering? Do you think that some favorite song or book or series is going to light it? The only thing that will light your spiritual fire is getting to know Jesus like never before and recognize what He is doing in your life. If that doesn’t light your fire, your wood is wet! Are you saved?

First, we will understand who Jesus is and then, we will understand what He does:

I. WHO IS JESUS? 

15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him

Background: I think there is some irony here. These disciples were talking about Jesus but they could not recognize Him! No different than today! 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Wouldn’t you have loved to be in that Bible study?!! Jesus identifying Himself throughout the Old Testament! He is showing them every Christophany – His pre-incarnate appearances. For the next few minutes we will look at the most prominent Christophany – “the Angel of Yahweh/Lord.” Who is this Angel of the Lord?

  1. He is referred to as God. In Genesis 28 Jacob had a dream in which he saw a ladder set up between heaven and earth and angels of God ascending and descending on it. On the top stood God who blessed Jacob. When Jacob woke up he said, 16 “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He set up a stone pillar and called the place Bethel. Meaning = house of God. Later he says in Genesis 31 11 Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, “Jacob.’…13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Angel of the Lord = God.

Another example: In Exodus 3 Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the back of the desert. Verse 2 the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. The bush kept burning so Moses turned to investigate. Verse 4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” 6 …“I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. Angel of the Lord = God.

One more example: In the book of Judges we meet a man named Manoah and his wife. They couldn’t have any kids. Judges 13 3 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and promised them a child. When she told that to her husband, he prayed that God would reveal this person once again. So the Angel of God returned and Manoah asked Him His name. Listen to His answer – 18 “…And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” This is the same name given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..” Later in verse 22 listen to what Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” I can give many other examples. The point is the Angel of the Lord is God.

  1. He is not Yahweh. Some people think that the Angel of the Lord is Yahweh. Not true. One clear example of that is Zechariah 1:12 Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?” Here the Angel of the Lord is interceding on behalf of God’s people to God. He is God but He is talking to God. Can you see the hints of the Trinity here? Two individuals are God.
  2. The Angel of the Lord is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. Why not the Father? Because He never shows Himself visibly. 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.” Why not the Holy Spirit? Because He never shows Himself visibly. John 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

What is the conclusion? The Angel of the Lord is God but not Yahweh. He is one of the Trinity but not the Father or the Spirit. Who is left? Jesus Christ – the one who has always been there. He is the one who keeps coming to His people but they keep missing Him.

Application: Have you missed Jesus? Do you realize that He is the KEY to the work of God throughout history? Do you realize that He is central to our faith? Have you met Him before? If you haven’t, you may know a lot but you are still blind like the disciples.

II. WHAT DOES HE DO? 

Emmaus was not very far from Jerusalem. Time must have stood still. It always does when you truly begin to see God. They got to their destination and He kept on going but they begged Him to stay and He did. Luke 24 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. Meaning: He came in as the guest but He became the host. How would you like that if you invited someone to your house and they walk in and take over! What He was showing to them was that He has always been the host! We are the guests. He is the doer and we are the receivers.

What does He do?

  1. He shows God to us. He’s always done that and He always will.

In the Old Testament He came as the Angel of the Lord to Moses in the back of the desert and said in Exodus 3:6 “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Later in the New Testament He is doing the same work. John 8 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Later in Matthew 11:27 Jesus said All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Question: Are you getting to know more and more about God through Jesus?

  1. He calls us and sends us. He’s always done that and He always will.

In the Old Testament He tells Moses in Exodus 3  9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” In the New Testament He is doing the same thing. He walks by the Sea of Galilee and sees two brothers Simon Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sea. Matthew 4 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. Later He called Paul on the Road to Damascus. Acts 26 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you. Then at the end of His ministry on earth He gave the Great Commission – Matthew 28 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go 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, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Question: Can you hear God calling you through Jesus Christ?

  1. He intercedes for us. He’s always done that and He always will.

We saw Him interceding for the people of Israel in Zechariah 1 12   Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?” 13 And the LORD answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words. In the New Testament we seem praying for His disciples in John 17 11 “…these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are…13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves…17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. Guess what He is doing for us today? Romans 8:34 “…It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Again in Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Question: Can you hear Him interceding for you?

Invitation: Have you come to Jesus? He is the Way, Truth, and Life. He has always been and will always be.

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