The Propulsion Engine of the Church by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE PROPULSION ENGINE OF THE CHURCH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

thepropulsionengineofthechurchIntroduction: This is our final message in our series – NO BENCHWARMERS – designed to encourage and challenge each of you to find a place of service in the church. Today’s message is called – THE PROPULSION ENGINE OF THE CHURCH.

Acts 6   1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Bridge: I’m not a sailor or a navy expert but from what little I know – every fast moving vessel on water has some kind of a propelling device. Sometimes it is as simple as a paddle wheel and other times it is as complex as a steam, diesel, or gas turbine. Warships and icebreakers even use nuclear reactors to produce this propulsion. How does it all work? The water surrounding the ship keeps it from moving forward and even drags it wherever the current wants it to go. These propellers thrust the water column away from the ship, which produces a reactive force that thrusts the ship forward.

Context: What does all that have to do with the message? The church is also surrounded by a water column – it’s the culture. It keeps the church from going forward and, if it moves, it’s usually by some crisis or problem that pulls the church away from its destination. God has given the church a propulsion engine. When it’s turned on, it creates a velocity against the column so strong that it actually causes a reactive force, a thrust, which moves the church forward. We think the column may sink the church but it’s actually instrumental in helping the propeller move the church forward at a rapid speed. Today we will learn what the propulsion engine of the church is.

Question: What do you believe about the church? Do you think it can move forward? Some people are so used to sinking ships or ghosts ships that they think it’s impossible for the church to move forward. Do you know what the propulsion engine of our church is? In the face of crisis, are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution? Before you can even talk about this engine, you need to be on the ship. Are you saved?

This is a unique message that will challenge you to change what you believe about the church. Instead of standing on the deck and complaining, it’s time you find your place of service. 3 things about the propulsion engine of the church:

I. THE CRISIS COLUMN IN THE CHURCH

1 “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying…”

Background: Which days is Luke referring to? He’s referring to the earliest days of the church, maybe within the first 5 years or so after the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in all His power and the Jerusalem church began to grow rapidly. Thousands got saved, miracles began happening, and the people were in one accord. Awesome isn’t?! Then it happened.“…there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists…” Who were the Hebrews and who were the Hellenists? The Hebrews were the local Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians. Their ancestors either never left during the exile or they came back when Cyrus set them free and resettled in their homes. They had been living in Jerusalem for hundreds of years. The Hellenists were those Jewish people whose ancestors did not come back immediately after the exile. They settled wherever they were – Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Macedonia, etc. Maybe because of persecution or longing to be back in their ancestral homeland, they returned. Since they grew up outside Israel they had different ways of doing things – food, clothing, and traditions. Even their language was different. They mostly spoke Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic like the Hebrews. Ethnically, they were Jewish but culturally, they were Greeks. But here’s the beautiful thing – in spite of the differences, both the Hebrews and the Hellenists were together as one church. Isn’t that wonderful?! That’s how the church should be – different people serving the same Christ together.

But there was a problem: “…there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.” What’s going on here? In Jewish society widows and orphans were first the responsibility of their own family and, if they didn’t have any family, then they were the responsibility of the community. As I mentioned, the Greek-speaking widows were part of those families that had moved to the Holy Land, Jerusalem, in their twilight years to die. Most of the time the men were the first to die and their wives did not have the support system they did back in their original home. Unlike the Hebrew widows, they were at the mercy of the synagogue or the local community. Maybe because of their high numbers or the language barrier or just oversight, the Greek-speaking widows felt overlooked. So what did these ladies do? They began to complain.

Ladies – Let me say a few things here: God has blessed you with certain abilities. One of them is observation or intuition. You can detect problems much faster than we men can. Sometimes we are too dense to notice. Another gift you have is empathy. You can feel the pain of others much better than we can. We have a one-track mind and many times we can be insensitive. But unless you filter your observation, intuition, and empathy through a sense of discernment, spiritual maturity, and self-control, you can cause great damage. Say for example, you see something wrong at church. What do you do? You can exercise discernment and overlook what doesn’t matter or have spiritual maturity and pray over the situation or just have self-control and say nothing. Unfortunately, what happens is this – you get home all upset and uptight. Your husband says – “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Something’s wrong.” Now you unload. Guess what he tells you to do – “Just quit.” It’s a typical male response. “No! I don’t want to quit. You need to do something.” Depending on how much you fire him up or his personality, now he’s going to do something. By the way, this is a major reason why men don’t go to church or get involved at church. They don’t want to get caught up in some drama.

Please don’t misunderstand me – if it weren’t for the ladies, can you imagine what this place would look like? We men would not care about each other’s feelings and finally blow up this whole place. We need both men and women. Even Jesus had a group of ladies who assisted Him in His ministry. But, in this passage, the unity and survival of the first church was threatened because a group of widow ladies started complaining.

By the way, this passage has brought me a lot of hope through the years. If the early church – men and women who had been with Jesus, seen Him crucified and resurrected, received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, witnessed miracles every day – had problems, there’s hope for us. I used to get so discouraged in the early years when the church would have a problem and then I realized that it’s part of being a growing church.

Application: Do you see a problem? It’s normal. The question is – how should we handle that problem? Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?

II. THE PROPULSION ENGINE OF THE CHURCH 

2 “Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples…”

Background: As the spiritual leaders of the congregation, they did not say – “We’re just preachers. We don’t do administration. This is beyond our expertise.” They took charge of the situation. This is the biblical model we follow at Clearview. As the pastor, I’m not here just to preach and visit. It’s also my responsibility to lead the administration and the management of this church. Let me clarify, I have wonderful help, especially in the financial management of the church. We have some very capable leaders that I trust with my life but I am called to lead. This is biblical. So, the twelve took charge but please don’t misunderstand – they weren’t the propulsion engine of the church.

“Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said…” “Let’s call a business meeting.” “Let’s take a vote.” Is that what they said? No. There’s a reason that small churches remain small. They are operating by an unbiblical idea that the church is a democracy where everyone has a say. Imagine if Moses had taken a vote – “How many of y’all want to leave Egypt?” Please don’t misunderstand – there’s a big difference between leading the sheep and driving the sheep, between bringing people along versus telling them what to do. The twelve did not order the people nor turn things over for them to decide because the congregation is not the propulsion engine of the church.

Listen to what they said – “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.” They were not saying that waiting on the Greek-speaking widows was beneath them. They were not saying that visiting people in need was not important. They were saying – We already have too much on our plates. We need help. Verse 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” Meaning: We need godly leaders from the Greek-speaking group to step up and help out. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. Their Greek names indicate that they were part of the Greek-speaking Jewish Christian group. Here’s a question: Why didn’t they see the needs of their widows? Why didn’t they do something about them already?

Question: Which ministry do you see struggling at Clearview? Is it affecting you? Why aren’t you doing something about it? “I guess I just won’t say nothing.” That’s not the point. You can be a part of the solution. Having said that, these seven were not the propulsion engine of the church.

So what is? Go back to verse 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” There’s your propulsion engine of the church – Prayer and Preaching and Teaching of the Bible. These propel the church forward. The propeller is not the goal. Prayer and Preaching and Teaching are not the goals of Clearview. They simply move the church forward. I’m blessed to pastor a church that understands this.

Application: Do you finally understand what moves this church? What are you doing to help this propulsion?

III. THE FORWARD THRUST OF THE CHURCH 

Stephen's stoning and Paul

Stephen’s stoning and Paul

Philip and the Ethiopian ruler

Philip and the Ethiopian ruler

7 “Then the word of God spread…” Meaning: The propeller of prayer and preaching and teaching of the Bible started spinning again. “…and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem…” Meaning: The column of crisis did not sink the ship but actually helped the ship to move forward with even more speed. But there’s more – “and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” There were as many as 8000 priests and 10,000 Levites in Palestine at the time. The temple was being run by crooks and they were not being used. They were barely surviving. But when they heard that the church was doing what the temple was supposed to do, they came to Christ and started helping the church. Crisis and problems are not the end. They are instrumental to propel the church forward.

But it’s not over yet. Remember the first two men they chose from the Greek-speaking Jewish group? The first one was Stephen. 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. How did the opposition deal with him? They cast him outside the city to stone him and the young man watching their clothes was Saul, who later became Paul. How about the second one, Philip? He led the Ethiopian ruler to Christ. He opened the door for the gentiles, all of us, to come in.

Application: What are you doing to move the ship forward? Are you saved

DIGGING DEEP 13 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 13 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Tying it all together:

  1. Understand the Incarnational Model of Scripture: Just as Jesus was both divine and human but without sin, so also Scripture is both divine and human and yet without errors.

Hermeneutical Triangle

Literature:

  1. Understand where we are in the History of Biblical Interpretation: Early Jewish Interpretation Sadducees (Literal), Essenes and Qumran Community (Pesher = prophecy), Diaspora (Allegory), and Pharisaic or Rabbinic exegesis, especially Midrash.

 

  1. Understand how the New Testament used the Old Testament: Single Meaning, Unified Referents; Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents; and Fuller Meaning, Single Goal.

 

  1. Understand the 7 kinds of genre in the Bible: Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parable, Epistle, and Apocalyptic.

 

  1. Understand how language works at a particular stage: Recognize language families for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; Break language down into word, sentence, and paragraph.

 

History:

  1. Understand the land of the Bible: between the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the East and between the Amanus and Ararat Mountains in the North and the Nafud Desert and the southern tip of Sinai in the South. The New Testament expanded the region into what today are Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

 

  1. Understand the political background of the Old Testament: Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC) – Sumerian & Akkadian Eras and Amorite Dynasties; Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC); Hebrews (1150-850BC); Assyrians (900-612BC); Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC); Medes and the Persians (850-331BC); Greeks (1500-165BC).

 

  1. Understand the political background of the New Testament: Roman Empire – The Emperor, the Provinces, Client Kingdoms, Colonies and Free Cities, Roman Citizenship, Roman Law, Roman Taxation, Benefits.

 

  1. Understand the religious background of the Bible: Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, and Greco-Roman; Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).

 

Theology:

  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the Old Testament: It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan (Walter Kaiser)

 

  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the New Testament: It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture. Again, the key is the promise-plan of God (Walter Kaiser). It also helps to make sense of the Unity and the Diversity of the New Testament and the relationship between the Old and the New Testament.

 

Application:

  1. Understand the Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation: No New Revelation; No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation; No Deeper Truth; No substitute for diligent and proper study; No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages; Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word; All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit; Those who truly seek Him find His help.

 

  1. Understand the limits of Application:
  • The Bible does not give specific instructions on all issues for Christians of every age.
  • In our constantly changing world, even if the Bible were to give specific instructions regarding a situation, it will require re-adaptation and re-application of the Bible to the changing world and situation.
  • The stronger the stance is on inerrancy, the greater will be the desire to seek and apply its truths.
  • The closer the interpretation is to the original meaning, the more accurate will be the application.
  • We need to show grace and humility in our application of the Bible.

Called to the Harvest by Pastor Abidan Shah

CALLED TO THE HARVEST by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

calledtotheharvestIntroduction: Today we are in part 3 of our series “NO BENCH WARMERS,” encouraging and challenging all of us to find a place somewhere at Clearview. This message is titled “CALLED TO THE HARVEST.”

Luke 10 1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Bridge: This is a very busy time of the year for farmers. We have several farmers in our church and they will tell you that harvest time is incredibly hectic and tiring for them – getting up at 4am and working until dark, so much has to get done, and time is of the essence. To neglect one critical thing could lead to severe crop damage and irrecoverable financial loss. They also tell me that one of the hardest things they have to deal with is not the weather or the bugs and the pests, or even the market, which are all important, but good labor – finding and keeping good help especially during harvest time.

Context: Not much was different two thousand years ago. In the passage we just read, Jesus brought up this harvest imagery to inspire and motivate His disciples. Listen again to verse 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” It is very interesting to me how Jesus told His disciples to visualize the multitude of lost souls as a large field ready to be harvested. It is also fascinating to me how He compared His Heavenly Father to the farmer and His disciples to the laborers working in the field. Then He told them – “Don’t just be content with going and doing your part in the field but pray and ask your Heavenly Father to send more help. The job is too big!”

Question: When you look around this world (your family, your neighborhood, your workplace), what do you see? Don’t misunderstand that question. I’m not asking – “Can you see the lostness of people?” I’m asking – “Can you see the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of men and women, boys and girls to Christ?” “Can you see hearts awakening to gospel just the way the grain heads awaken to the sun? Are you a laborer in the field? Are you praying for God to send more laborers in the field? Are you saved?

4 things that stand out in this passage:

I. THE MINISTRY OF JESUS 

1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.

Background: Many of us have a misguided portrait of the ministry of Jesus. We picture Him as a solitary man surrounded by a vast multitude of people, going from place to place, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and touching lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we read the gospels carefully, a wholly different picture begins to emerge. Jesus was not this one-man show, trying to change the world all by Himself but He was constantly calling more disciples and sending them out to replicate His ministry, to do what He was doing:

  • In Luke 5 Jesus called James and John and Simon Peter to be His disciples. In verse 10 He told Peter, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
  • In Luke 6 it says, 12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
    Jesus and His disciples

    Jesus and His disciples

    13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:

  • In Luke 9   1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick…6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
  • But even this was not enough. So in Luke 10:1 it says, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.”

The point is this – As Jesus’ ministry expanded, He had to enlist more and more people to help Him do what He was doing. You know where I am going with this – If Jesus, the Son of God, needed help to keep up with the growing demands of His ministry, how much more do you and I need help to keep up with the growing demands of church?

Application: How would you have responded if Jesus had called you to join Him in the work of the gospel? What’s the difference? Are you responding to His call to join Him? What is keeping you from obeying the call of the Holy Spirit to join the ministry?

II. THE VISION OF JESUS

2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great…”

Background: Think about the world in which Jesus spoke those words:

  1. Tiberius Caesar

    Tiberius Caesar

    Tiberius Caesar was the Emperor of Rome, the ruler of the world – What kind of man was he? He was the stepson of Augustus, a great general but a horrible individual – a cruel man, openly homosexual, perverse beyond your wildest imaginations. In fact, the Roman historian Suetonius describes some of the heinous things that he did for pleasure that I cannot even mention from the pulpit.

  2. Pontius Pilate was the procurator, the arm of Tiberius – Tiberius ruled through prefects or procurators who were financial officers in charge of keeping peace and collecting taxes. What kind of a man was Pontius Pilate? Not a good man. He repeatedly agitated the Jewish people by putting up images of the Emperor in Jerusalem (for which Tiberius got onto him). He took money from the Temple to build an aqueduct and when the Jewish people protested, he had his soldiers in the crowd attack and kill them.
  3. Herod’s sons were in charge of the local regions – Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee and Philip was the tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis – Antipas took Herodias his own brother Philip’s wife (By the way, this is a different Philip). Later, he was so swept away by the provocative dance of Salome, Herodias’ daughter that he gave the order to cut off John the Baptist’s head. He had no conscience.
  4. Annas and Caiaphas

    Annas and Caiaphas

    Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests in the temple – Annas was the father-in-law who was removed from being the high priest but he held onto the title. Caiaphas married his daughter and kept the family business going. They were not the least concerned about holiness and righteousness. It was all about money, politics, and power. By the way, they were the ones who later condemned Jesus to be crucified.

And what does Jesus say? Listen again to verse 2 “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few…” If I were living back then, I would have called him to the side and reminded Him about the messed up world that He was talking about.

There are 2 ways to see this world – Hopeless or ready for harvest. Have you ever heard the adage – “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” So is HOPE!

Application: What do you see in this world? If you don’t see any hope, no wonder you don’t volunteer. Why rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?! It’s going down anyways! Do you have the vision of Jesus?

III. THE COMMISSION OF JESUS 

This is a long section:

2 “…therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Meaning: It’s not enough for you to work but pray and ask for more help. That’s what I am doing through this series. That’s what the Prayer Vigil was all about.

3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.

Meaning: Jesus was no starry eyed, possibility thinking optimist. He knew there were wolves out there. The answer was not to be a counter wolf but to bring the nature of the lamb.

I don’t have time to go through every verse – 8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ 12 But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.

Meaning: When you go in Jesus’ name, expect rejection but don’t let it discourage you. This is part of ministry. God will deal with that person and that city on Judgment Day. Don’t worry about that.

16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”

Meaning: When we go out into the harvest for Jesus, we become His representatives before the lost world.

Application: Are you a representative of Jesus? What are you doing for Him?

IV. THE JOY OF JESUS

Luke 10:17   Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

When you get off the bench and get in the game or when you get into the fields, God will show you incredible things! You will begin to see people set free, lives transformed, homes restored, communities revived. The reason you cannot see any of that is because you are unwilling to get into the game or go work in the fields.

What is Jesus’s reply? 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” WOW!

Now listen to the prayer of Jesus – 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes…” Meaning: I’m happy to see them share with me in ministry!

Listen to the final words of Jesus to His disciples – 23 Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; 24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” Meaning: Ministry is not a burden or a chore or a load. It’s a privilege to join hands with the Living God.

Question: What’s keeping you from joining in the harvest? Are you praying for more hands? Are you saved

DIGGING DEEP 12 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 12 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

The role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation:

Introductory Questions

  • Does the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart guarantee accurate interpretation?
  • How can two people taught by the Holy Spirit have conflicting views on a passage?
  • Does the Holy Spirit give us deeper meaning that cannot be reached by a normal study of a passage?
  • In what way does the Holy Spirit guide our understanding in the study of God’s Word?

Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is a person (Romans 8:27) and has feelings (Ephesians 4:30) and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He is God (John 14:16) and has the same attributes as the other members of the Trinity (Psalm 139:7; Job 33:4). He was involved in the Creation of the World (Genesis 1:2), the giving of the OT & NT (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21), and the life of Jesus (Luke 1:35; 4:1). Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember Him when He was ascended (John 16:13-14). Now the Holy Spirit works daily in the life of the believers (Romans 8:9) and in this world (John 16:8).

Several principles about the role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation:

5 Negatives:

  1. No New Revelation (John 6:63; I Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:16; I Peter 1:22-25)

 

  1. No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation

  

  1. No Deeper Truth

 

  1. No substitute for diligent and proper study (2 Timothy 2:14-16)

 

  1. No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages (2 Peter 3:16; I Corinthians 13:12)

 

3 Positives:

  1. Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word (I Corinthians 2:14; I Thessalonians 1:6)

 

  1. All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-8; 1 John 2:20, 27)

 

  1. Those who truly seek Him find His help (I Corinthians 2:14-3:4)

When Ministry Grows by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN MINISTRY GROWS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whenministrygrowsIntroduction: This is our second message in our new series – NO BENCHWARMERS and this one is called – “WHEN MINISTRY GROWS.”

Nehemiah 4   6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. 7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

Bridge: How many of you would agree with the statement – “Anytime something good begins to happen, the Devil always shows up”? It is true in our personal lives, in our families, in our workplaces as a Christian, and even in our church.

Nehemiah - Gustave DoreContext: The Book of Nehemiah is a perfect example of this. The Jewish people led by Nehemiah were trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. If you remember, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 587 BC, destroyed the Temple, and the city walls. In 539 BC God had brought the people back into the land and commanded them to rebuild. They rebuilt the temple by 516 BC but the city walls lay in ruins. A city without walls is a city without security, stability, and identity. So God sent a man by the name of Nehemiah in 445 BC to bring the people of Jerusalem and Judah together to rebuild the city walls. If you do the math, that’s almost 100 years after they were back to the land! It’s easy to tear down a work but it’s very hard to rebuild one. By much prayer, Nehemiah rallied the people to begin the work but it wasn’t long before the opposition showed up. In today’s message, we’re going to see what happens when ministry grows and opposition shows up.

Question: Are you part of God’s rebuilding project at Clearview? Are you even aware of what God is doing here at Clearview? Can you see how God is rebuilding lives, homes, marriages, young people and our community? Have you asked Him where He wants you to be in His building project? Are you saved? Are you a citizen of the Heavenly City?

4 things we will learn about what to do when a ministry grows and opposition comes:

I. EXPECT OPPOSITION.

Nehemiah 4:1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Sanballat the HoroniteBackground: Literally it means – this man named Sanballat was hot and irritated when he saw the Jewish people rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and he began to mock and make fun of the people rebuilding the wall. Who was Sanballat? Archaeologists tell us that he was the governor of Samaria to the north of Jerusalem. He was Nehemiah’s chief enemy. The wall was a threat to him. So what does he do? He begins to ridicule the Jewish people. Ridicule or mockery is Satan’s choice weapon to discourage and dishearten God’s people. Shakespeare called ridicule “paper bullets of the brain.” Scottish Philosopher Thomas Carlyle once called ridicule “the language of the devil.”

Tobiah the AmmoniteWhat did Sanballat say? 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? (He mocked them physically.) Will they fortify themselves? (He mocked their construction knowledge.) Will they offer sacrifices? (He mocked their faith) Will they complete it in a day? (He mocked their determination.) Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” (He mocked their resources) 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him…” Who was Tobiah? He was the governor of Ammon to the east of Jerusalem. He came from a family of very powerful Jewish aristocrats. He wasn’t happy either because the wall was also a threat to him. “And he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.’” Chuck Swindoll remarked – “Critics run with critics.”

Application: Have you ever had to deal with Satan’s mockery? I’ve had to. Sometimes he uses people who appear very close to you. You would think that it would be easy to brush it off but its not. Warren Wiersbe said, “Some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.” Have you abandoned some God-given dreams because someone ridiculed you? Let the Holy Spirit help you refocus and get back to the task God has called you to. As a church, we have to be aware of Satan’s opposition. Be aware of his ridicule through some Sanballat or some Tobiah.

II. REMEMBER TO PRAY.

4 “Hear, O our God, for we are despised…”

Background: Nehemiah could have become angry; he could have argued with Sanballat and Tobiah; he could have believed them and given up. Instead, he did what he did when the work first began. He turned towards God. Listen to his prayer: 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He prayed what is known as an imprecatory prayer, where he prayed for God’s judgment upon the enemy. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t they have prayed like Jesus – “Father forgive them for they not know what they do”? Keep in mind that Nehemiah was not praying for personal vengeance. He was reminding God that the enemy had dishonored Him. They were provoking Him. Nehemiah knew that ultimately this was God’s work. And did prayer work? 6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Application: At Clearview we believe strongly in the power of prayer. Every Sunday morning we have the Sunday Morning Prayer Zone where men pray for the service. Every Tuesday morning the ladies come together for a time of prayer. Wednesday evening before Bible study we have a time of prayer. Then this weekend, Friday noon to Saturday noon we will be having our prayer vigil. If you haven’t signed up, go by the welcome room and sign up. Men – we need you to sign up for the night hour so the women can come in and pray during the day hour. The only way we as a church still have “a mind to work” is because God keeps giving us the strength to persevere in the face of opposition.

III. GUARD THE MISSION. 

Nehemiah's enemies7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, Keep in mind that the Enemy never gives up. God is blessing Clearview. Lives are being transformed. Do you think the Enemy is happy? Absolutely not. Once he knows that we’re not going to respond to his ridicule, he will return with another weapon. 8 “and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.” Another of the Enemy’s choice weapons is confusion. He likes to come in and get the people all confused about their roles and the direction“I don’t know what I am doing…” “I don’t know where we are going…” What happens when people are confused about those two things? They turn on each other and before you know it the work is over.

What did Nehemiah and the Jewish people do? 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. Meaning: They prayed and actively began to guard the work against any confusion from the enemy. They were clear about who they were and what they were doing.

Today we had our first annual praise team retreat. The one thing they discussed more than anything else was the mission of Clearview. Do you know the mission of Clearview? Our mission is to “lead all people into a life-changing and ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” Our slogan is “Making Christ Visible.”

Application: Do you guard yourself against the Enemy? Do you reject his attempt to bring confusion into our church family? Do you know what is the mission of our church? Do you know what your role is in the body?

IV. DIVIDE THE WORK.

Nehemiah guards vision10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.” Who is Judah? It is another designation for the Jewish people. It was a way of saying that all the Jewish people began to lose their momentum. The task seemed too big. Plus, verse 11 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” The Enemy is relentless, especially when people are tired.

Can this happen at church? Oh yes! The 20% gets tired and wants to quit. They start hearing a negative comment here and an attitude there and they want to give up. What was Nehemiah’s reaction to all this? 13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. Nehemiah is dividing up the work and every family is involved in doing their part. But, there’s something more – 14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah does not tell them to build the wall. He tells them to see the big picture. Fight for your loved ones.

Application: How do you see your role at Clearview? Is it “I got to teach Sunday School. I have to keep nursery. I have practice tonight. Is it Kindle again this week?” Or do you look at what you do as fighting for your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, wives, and husbands?

16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Nehemiah continues to divide the work and guard the vision.

Application: Have you been praying and asking God where He wants you to work? The title of the series is “No Benchwarmers.” Are you a benchwarmer?

Just so we don’t walk away thinking that Nehemiah was a very skillful project manager, listen to these verses – 19 Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

In the end Nehemiah reminded them that God was going to give them victory. In the end God will work everything together for good at Clearview. Our best days are here and even better days are coming ahead.

Are you trusting God to fight for you? Do you know the Living and True God? Are you saved

DIGGING DEEP 11 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 11 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Biblical Theology of the New Testament:

Recap

  • Hermeneutical Triangle of Literature, History, and Theology
  • Historical development in biblical theology: Biblical Theology was given a subordinate role to church dogma for centuries. The “rule of faith” became the guiding principle. With the coming of the Reformation and the replacement of dogma by sola scriptura, biblical theology regained its place in the interpretation of the Bible.
  • OT Biblical Theology

How does NT theology help in studying the Bible?

It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture.

Some Major Issues in NT Biblical Theology

  • Unity and Diversity of the New Testament
  • Relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament

Is there a key or center to the NT Theology? Many different centers have been proposed:

  • Anthropology (Rudolph Bultmann)
  • Salvation History (O. Cullmann, George Eldon Ladd, L. Goppelt)
  • Covenant, Love, and Other proposals (W. Eichrodt, Herman Ridderbos)
  • Christology (Bo Reicke, F.C. Grant)
  • God and Christ or Christocentric (Hasel)

For OT Biblical Theology we turned to Kaiser’s view, so also for the NT.

Kaiser proposes what is known as the “promise-plan of God” as the center of biblical theology. It epangelical view.” It comes from the word for “promise” in Greek. It is a mediating position between the Reformed Covenantal view and the Dispensational view. It is not a flawless view but it does provide us with a peg to hang our biblical theology. 

Kaiser offers the following 10 stages of the Promise (For New Testament)

  1. The Arrival of the Promise (John the Baptist, Zechariah, Mary, Simeon, Anna)
  2. The Promise-Plan and the Law of God (James, Galatians)
  3. The Promise-Plan and the Mission of the Church (1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans)
  4. The Promise-Plan and Paul’s Prison Epistles (Colossians, Philemon, Philippians, Ephesians)
  5. The Promise-Plan and The Kingdom of God (Matthew, Mark)
  6. The Promise-Plan and the Promised Holy Spirit (Luke-Acts)
  7. The Promise-Plan and Purity of Life and Doctrine (1 & 2 Peter, Jude)
  8. The Promise-Plan and The Pastoral Letters (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus)
  9. The Promise-Plan and the Supremacy of Jesus (Hebrews)
  10. The Promise-Plan and the Gospel of The Kingdom (John, 1-3 John, Revelation)

 

Test Passages: 

  1. Matthew 28:16-20

 

  1. John 4:42

 

  1. Ephesians 4:5-6

 

  1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

  1. Hebrews 11:1

 

  1. James 3:1-12

 

  1. I Peter 3:18

No Benchwarmers by Pastor Abidan Shah

NO BENCH WARMERS – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

nobenchwarmersIntroduction: Today I’m starting a brand new series called – “NO BENCH WARMERS.” For most churches, including ours, the calendar does not begin in January but in August or September. This series is designed to prepare us for our new church year.

Exodus 18   13 And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. 14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.” 17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out.

Bridge: How many of y’all have heard the adage or saying – “20% of people at church do 80% of the work”? Is that true or false? By the way, it’s is not just at church; it’s everywhere. In the secular world it’s sometimes called the “80-20 rule,” or “the law of the vital few” or even the “Pareto Principle” after the Italian economist who first observed it. Why is it that 80% of people are inactive? I’ve heard all kinds of reasons – “People are just lazy,” “They don’t want to get involved,” “They don’t know the needs,” or “You just have to ask people.” The goal of this series is to change that statistic, to move people being “bench warmers” to “getting in the game”?

Context: Each message in this series is going to come from a different book in the Bible. The first sermon is from the passage we just read in Exodus 18 where 3500 years ago Moses had to deal with the same question – “How can I move the people of Israel from the bench to the field?”

Question: Are you in the game or are you just a bench warmer? Do you just come, sit, listen, and leave or do you have a part in the greatest game in the world? The greatest game in the world is not basketball, football, baseball, soccer, or any one of the Olympic games. It is the battle for the soul of every man, woman, boy, and girl. The goal is to connect that soul to its creator, to God. There’s just one rule – “Only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. You have to come to Jesus.” There is no rematch. You get only one life. There is a shot clock but you can’t see it. By the way, if you are breathing, you’re already in the game. Your clock is already ticking. Two Questions: Have you come to Jesus? Are you helping others come to Jesus?

In this message we will learn why some churches become weary and what has to happen. Let the Holy Spirit speak to your hearts. 3 things stand out in this passage:

I. POSITIVE EXCITEMENT 

Exodus 18   1 And Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people—that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt….5…came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of God.

Background: Moses had left his wife Zipporah and two sons with his father-in-law when he went to Egypt to free the Hebrews. The news got back to Midian that it had happened and God’s people were free. So Jethro brought Moses’s family to him. Picture the excitement as they arrived at the camp. 9 Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, and who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.” It goes on to tell us that Jethro was also a believer and offered burnt offerings and sacrifices to God. The point is that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was genuinely glad at what God had done for the people of Israel through his son-in-law.

Keep in mind that not everything was perfect. In chapter 14 when the people of Israel were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, they had turned on Moses, saying – “We told you to leave us alone.” In chapter 15, just 3 days into the wilderness, they were thirsty and complained against Moses. In chapter 16, just a month or so later, they complained against Moses and Aaron saying, “We had pots of meat and bread in Egypt and here you are killing us.” In chapter 16 again, the people refused to keep the Sabbath and tried to gather manna. In chapter 17, they were thirsty again and tried to stone Moses in their anger. In chapter 17, the Amalekites attacked the people of Israel. But listen to Exodus 18:8 “And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them on the way, and how the LORD had delivered them.” Here’s the point – You can either focus on the negatives or you can focus on the positives.

Application: Do you see the positive that God is doing at Clearview? Are you genuinely excited at the lives that are being saved, the children that are coming to Christ, the young people that are gathering, the marriages that are being reconciled, the homes that are being restored, and the community that is being transformed? Sometimes this is very hard to understand and appreciate in the church culture where it is more natural to groan, moan, and complain. The early church had their list of problems but it says in Acts 2:46 “…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. Here’s a principle: Excitement precedes involvement.

II. NEGATIVE OBSERVATION 

13 And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.

Background: According to some estimates the population of the people of Israel that left Egypt with Moses was altogether 2-2.5 million. To give you an idea of how big that number is – according to the United States Census Bureau, the combined population of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), as of 2014, was a little over 2 million people. Imagine a crowd that big! Out of them I would assume at least a few thousand are standing in line everyday over personal problems, disputes, and crimes.

Here’s an important principle – Just because God is doing wonderful things among His people does not mean that His people will be problem free. I hear people say – “the church has problems.” Folks – Moses had problems sitting in the shadow of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night! The early church had problems just days after receiving the Holy Spirit in all power. As long as we live in this sinful world where there is a Satan and we still have our sinful natures, there will be problems. The question is “What do we do with those problems?” We cannot deny them. We have to deal with them biblically, prayerfully, graciously, and courageously. That’s exactly what Moses was doing.

Moses’ father-in-law was a godly man. He did not say – “Moses, you have a horrible bunch of people. This thing isn’t gonna last” He saw a deeper problem. 14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” Don’t misunderstand this question. Jethro was not saying – “Moses – Who made you the head honcho? Do you have control issues? Why can’t people go to others?” Jethro’s remark was based on a genuine heartfelt concern for how much Moses was doing.

Listen to the rest of the dialogue – 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.” 17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” Jethro, a godly man, saw past the surface to a deeper problem – the physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual exhaustion of Moses.

Application: Do you ever stop to think about how much goes on every day to make this place possible? What is your part? Are you content to sit back and let other people wear themselves out? Do you ever wonder – “what can I do to lighten the load?” “How can I share the burden so they and they do not have to sit under the hot sun all day (proverbially speaking)?” Do you see past the surface to the deeper needs at Clearview?

III. WISE SOLUTION 

19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. By the way, becoming a leader at Clearview is not about control and power, it’s about humility and service. I remember in the early days of our church’s transition, I had a guy visit us a few times and his first question was how do I get on the board here. I wanted to say – “Since you asked that question, I’ll never tell you.”

22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” What Jethro was doing was telling Moses to delegate, to divide the work. 24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

What if Moses had refused to listen? It would have put him in an early grave. It would have caused problems in his marriage. It would have delayed justice for the people. It would have caused frustration among the masses. It would have destroyed the people.

Question: What could you be doing right now that could help lighten someone’s load? Are you a player in the greatest game on earth or are you just a bench warmer? On the last weekend of this month, August 27-28, we will be having our first annual ministry drive. Start praying right now about what is it that God is calling you to do.

Are you eligible to play? Have you ever given your life to Jesus? Until you do, you will have no motivation to play the game. You will have no desire to serve. You will have no desire to lighten the load of others. You will only be a spectator and that too a griping grumbling spectator

Hoi Polloi 15 – Reasons to Study the Bible

[/audioHoi Polloi

In this episode, Abidan Paul Shah will be discussing the reasons for studying the Bible. Many people don’t study the Bible or stay consistent in their bible study is because they don’t take the time to consider the marvelous benefits found in digging deep in God’s Word.

For more information on Digging Deep, Clearview Church’s summer Bible study, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/ClearviewDiggingDeep. You can also find the notes from each week on Pastor Shah’s blog.

Ask, Seek, Knock by Pastor Abidan Shah

ASK, SEEK, KNOCK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

askseekknockIntroduction: We’re in our series through the Sermon on the Mount and today we come to Matthew 7:7 where Jesus again talks about prayer and the message is titled – ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.

Matthew 7  7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Bridge: How many of you believe that prayer is powerful? How many of you believe that God answers prayers? How many of you admit that you don’t pray like you believe?

Illustration: Back in college, I lived in a dorm where the ground floor had a break room with some video games and vending machines. One time this coke machine had a glitch. All you had to do was hit a selection and it would give you a coke! When a few of us found that out, we kept that a tightly guarded secret. We made sure no one was around when we went down to get a drink. Every time we would walk past the break room, we would glance to make sure no one else had figured it out. And mind you – this was a Christian college! When you’re in college, 55 cents is a lot of money! We had convinced ourselves that God had done this! But…all good things come to an end. They fixed the glitch. But even months later, we would walk by and just tap a selection, just in case…

Prayer is like that vending machine. You don’t need any change, just need to tap a selection. But unlike that coke machine, God gives you much more than you tap for. By the way, prayer is not a glitch that may get fixed tomorrow. Prayer is a lifelong privilege for every believer.

Context: In the passage we just read, Jesus once again returns to the topic of prayer and encourages His listeners to pray and pray continuously and pray confidently.

Question: How is your prayer life? Do you pray daily? Do you pray confidently? Do you pray expecting God to answer your needs? Have you stopped praying? Have you given up on prayer? Could it be that you don’t pray like you used to because you are disappointed with God? You asked and He did not answer. You pleaded and He did not answer the way you wished He had. Today’s message will help clear some of those misunderstandings so you can pray again and pray better than before. But the prayer that God wants you to pray more than any other is the prayer of salvation. Have you ever prayed to ask Jesus to save you and come into your life? Do it now.

You may not know but there are 3 questions often raised about this passage on prayer. We will try to answer them and in the process understand the importance of prayer:

I. WHY DID JESUS BRING UP PRAYER AGAIN? 

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…”

Background: For those of you who have been following this series on the Sermon on the Mount, you may remember that Jesus talked about prayer earlier in this sermon. In chapter 6, He told His disciples not to pray like the hypocrites, standing in the synagogues and the street corners. He taught them to pray in the secret place and without vain repetitions. He taught them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer – “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come…” Then it seemed like He was done with the subject of prayer and went on to talk about treasures and serving two masters and worry and anxiety and judging others. Then abruptly and randomly He starts talking about prayer again! What’s going on?

Listen carefully – Jesus was not revisiting the subject of prayer. He never left it to begin with. He was still on the subject of prayer. Everything that He talked about after teaching “The Lord’s Prayer” was still in the context of talking to the Father:

  • “Treasures on earth and treasures in heaven” was about trusting the Father.
  • “Not serving two masters” was about remaining loyal only to God.
  • “Not to worry” was about taking all our cares and anxieties to God.
  • “Judge not” was about prayerfully confronting and not condemning others.

The point is that Jesus never left the subject of prayer. In His own life, prayer undergirded everything that He did. He prayed late into the night. He prayed early in the morning while it was still dark. He prayed before meals. He prayed before He chose His disciples. He prayed before the miracles. He prayed after the miracles. He prayed when He was busy. He prayed when He was tired. He prayed by Himself. He prayed with others. He prayed in the face of disbelief. He prayed in the face of temptation. He prayed for Himself. He prayed for others. The point is this – Prayer marked Jesus’s life. In other words, Jesus was constantly in a state of prayer.

The problem with us today is that we compartmentalize our life between sacred and secular, devotion and duty, and prayer and practice, but Jesus didn’t. We tack on prayer to our day or sprinkle it once in a while when prayer should be interwoven throughout our daily life. Every moment, every step, and every decision we make in life should be approached with prayer. You should always be in a spirit and a mindset of prayer.

Application: Does prayer mark your life? Can it be said of you what was said of Jesus in Hebrews 5:7 that “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…” Or do you bring up prayer only when things get rough?

II. WAS JESUS TELLING US NOT TO GIVE UP ON PRAYER? 

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Background: A common misunderstandings about this passage is that Jesus was simply reminding us to persist in prayer. I’ve heard messages on this passage and I’m sure you have to where the speaker said that the reason Jesus used the triple imperatives – Ask, Seek, and Knock – was to emphasize the need to pray. Although, we should “pray without ceasing,” as Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17, this passage is not about persistence in prayer. Some even claim that a better translation would be “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.” To me it would be an overtranslation.

What was Jesus’ intent in using the triple imperatives – “Ask, Seek, and Knock?” Listen to the verses following – 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Think about the illustration. Jesus is using sarcasm, a form of humor. Picture Dad or mom – your son or daughter comes to you and says, “I’m hungry. Can I have a sandwich?” You answer – “Here’s a rock sandwich. There’s more where that came from!” Or, they come to you and say – “Can we have some fish?” You answer – “Sure. Here’s a Copperhead. Try it with some BBQ sauce.” How ridiculous does that sound? Now if sinful human parents will give good things to their children, will not the perfect Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him.

What’s the point? Jesus is not advocating persistence in prayer that but assurance in the nature of God. In other words, don’t give up on prayer not because you shouldn’t give up on prayer but don’t give up on prayer because you have a Heavenly Father who will always give you the very best. Meaning: Don’t just believe in the power of prayer but trust in the nature of God. So the real question is not “Do you believe in the power of prayer?” but “Do you trust in the nature of God?” This brings up another question – “What do you believe about God?”

Illustration: Many years ago at a very vulnerable time in a life when I was going through some doubts and discouragements about my life, I heard a message by Warren Wiersbe. In this message, he made a statement that has stayed me and come back to me time and again when I needed it – “Satan will try to tell you that ‘God is not giving you what you deserve’ or that ‘God is holding out on the best for your life.’” If you think about it, this is exactly what he told our grandparents Adam and Eve in Genesis 3“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Her response – “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” His response – “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Listen carefully – People stop praying because somewhere they start believing the lies of Satan and start trusting in the true nature of God. They start making rash, erratic, and prayerless decisions because they have believed some lie about God.

Application: What do you believe about God? Do you believe that He is a good good Father who always has the best in mind for His children? Have you fallen for the enemy’s lies? Have you given up on prayer because of something that has happened in life?

III. WAS JESUS PROMISING A HEALTH AND WEALTH PRAYER? 

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Background: This passage has been abused and misused by people, especially TV evangelists in our era – “God wants you to have health and wealth.” Nothing is wrong with health and wealth and you can pray for those things as well but there’s more that God wants to do in your life and through your life than health and wealth. For example, think about Job and Moses and Ruth and Paul and so many others in the Bible who endured tragedy and pain and wants and needs for a greater purpose. Good gifts are not just more self-gratifying pleasures but the kingdom of God.

God is a Heavenly Father who knows what is best for His children and He loves us too much to answer any and every prayer. We have a very limited and finite view of life but God sees the big picture. Only eternity will show how good of a Father He really is!

Think about Jesus – Philippians 2   7 but (Jesus) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Application: What are you asking God for? Are you willing to say with Jesus – “Not my will but Yours be done.” Are you willing to pray again with confidence in the nature of God? Are you saved? If not, pray that prayer now and ask Jesus to save you

DIGGING DEEP 10 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 10 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Biblical Theology of the Old Testament: 

Why is it needed? To help keep the study of the OT from being fragmented by biblical exegesis; “to describe the inner unity of the Bible on its own terms”; and to “deepen our understanding of the shape, complexity, and unity of Scripture on its own terms.” – Kevin Vanhoozer

History of biblical Theology – It began in 1787 through a speech given by Johann Philip Gabler. Although the concept existed prior to it, he distinguished between biblical theology and systematic theology.

Is there a key to the OT theology? Were the OT writers aware of the key? The key or center of OT theology must satisfy four conditions simultaneously (Walter Kaiser):

  1. The subject of that unity must be everywhere in evidence throughout the whole OT corpus;
  2. The object(s) to whom the action, plan, or ideas pertain also must be clearly in the limelight;
  3. A predicate that links the subject and the object must be clearly stated in key teaching passages that acts as sedes doctrinae (i.e., chair passages) and that set the grand goals and objectives for everything the subject is going to be and do for the object(s) specified in the text; and
  4. The linking of the previous three conditions must be set forth explicitly in the OT rather than brought in from external sources, such as philosophical grounds, historical considerations, theological preferences, or critical allegiances.

Promise-plan of God (Kaiser):

  1. Subject is Yahweh;
  2. Object is primarily Israel, and then, secondarily, all the nations of the earth;
  3. It’s predicate involves both who and what God will “be” and what He will “do” (in His verbal declarations and in His mighty saving acts in the history of Israel); and
  4. It is strategically placed numerous times in the OT in large blocks of teaching texts, but best epitomized in Genesis 12:1-3.

Terms used for the key:

In the OT – word, oath, covenant, house, kingdom, etc.

In the NT – promise (Acts 26:6-7; Romans 4:13-14, 16-17, 20; Hebrews 6:13-15, 17; 11:9, 39-40). This is how the early church saw the OT – Acts 2:38-39; 3:25-26; 13:23, 32-33; Galatians 3:22). The promise was not just to Israel but also to the whole world – Galatians 3:8, 14, 29; Ephesians 1:13; 2:12; 3:6-7; 4:23, 28).

How does OT theology help in studying the Bible? It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan. This will prevent the student from running to the NT or other passages in the OT and allow that passage to speak in its theological context.

Kaiser offers the following 11 stages of the Promise (The book assignments are mine):

  1. Prolegomena to the Promise: Prepatriarchal Era (Genesis 1-11, Job)
  2. Provisions in the Promise: Patriarchal Era (Genesis 12 – end of the book)
  3. People of the Promise: Mosaic Era (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers)
  4. Place of the Promise: Premonarchical Era (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges)
  5. King of the Promise: Davidic Era (Ruth, Psalms, Samuel, Chronicles, Kings)
  6. Life in the Promise: Wisdom Era (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)
  7. Day of the Promise: Ninth-century Prophets (Joel, Obadiah)
  8. Servant of the Promise: Eighth-century Prophets (Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, and Jonah)
  9. Renewal of the Promise: Seventh-century Prophets (Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Nahum, Jeremiah, Lamentations)
  10. Kingdom of the Promise: Exilic Era Prophets (Esther, Ezekiel, Daniel)
  11. Triumph of the Promise: Post-exilic Era Prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah)

 

Test Passages: 

  1. Genesis 4:1

 

  1. Exodus 19:5-6

 

  1. 2 Samuel 7:16

 

  1. Proverbs 10:27; 14:27; 19:23; 24:4

 

  1. Joel 2:11; 3:14-15

 

  1. Habakkuk 2:4

 

  1. Daniel 7:9-14

 

  1. Malachi 3:1-5
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