Heart Exam by Pastor Abidan Shah

HEART EXAM by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: When the kids were young, we bought them a toy doctor’s kit. It had everything – stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, syringe, tweezers, etc. They would go around taking our temperature, checking our blood pressure, and listening to our hearts. Then, like many of you, we would say – “My turn. Let me check your heart” – and we would take their toy stethoscope and listen to their heart – “Oh, it sounds good!” Here’s a question – how seriously did you take that test? Not really. It was all pretend. Would you do that at a real doctor’s office? Would you say to your cardiologist – “My turn! Let’s check your heart now.” Of course not. It’s real. Today, we’re going to take a heart exam and it’s not pretend. It’s very real. We’re checking our hearts, not our physical hearts made out of muscles, tissues, and blood vessels, but our spiritual hearts made up of our minds, our thinking, and our attitude towards the things of God. The Stethoscope is the Scriptures, the Examiner is the Holy Spirit, and the Goal is the heart of the disciple of Jesus. This is a very critical exam. A physical heart exam can determine how longyou will live. A spiritual heart exam determines ifyou are alive.

Matthew 13     10And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15For the hearts of this people have grown dull…’”

Question: How is your spiritual heart? Is it out of rhythm with the things of God? Is there a blockage due to sin? Is it dead? Only Jesus can make your heart alive. Are you saved?

Context: This is the first message in our series on the Parables of Jesus. It’s an introductory message in which we will answer the question – “Why did Jesus use parables in his teaching?” In fact, it’s the question that the disciples asked Jesus inMatthew 13:10“Why do You speak to them in parables?”We tend to think of the parables as stories given by Jesus to make his message clearer but that’s not altogether true.Listen to his answer in verse11He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Before we unpack that verse, let’s first identify the two groups that are around Jesus. The first is the “you” group who understand what Jesus is teaching and the second is the “them” group who seem to be missing it. Who are the “you” and who are the “them?” That information is available in the surrounding chapters. 

Who is the “you?” The “you” were the disciples, the tax collectors and the prostitutes (Matthew 9:11And when the Pharisees sawit,they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”), the multitudes (Matthew 12    15“…And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16Yet He warned them not to make Him known.”), demon-possessed, blind, and mute. This group was open to the things of God and they understood more of the things of God. Listen to verse12“For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” 

Who is the “them?”

1. Pharisees: 

Matthew 12:2And when the Phariseessawit (Jesus disciples eating grain in the field),they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” Matthew 12:14“Then the Phariseeswent out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.” Matthew 12:24Now when the Phariseeshearditthey said, “Thisfellowdoes not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

The Pharisees were mostly a lay movement of people who were trying to live a pious life. They believed in the right doctrines. They advocated a simple lifestyle. They were popular with the common people because they would help them keep the law. They focused on “Table Fellowship” – they called on all Jewish people to live according to the priestly laws, especially with regards to everyday meals. They treated their tables at home as the altar in the temple. Every household was held responsible. Hence, the meals had to be tithed, prepared, and served in a certain way. This does not mean that they rejected the priesthood or the temple. Their meals were exclusive and hierarchical because they believed that what you put inside of you matters and who you have around matters. They couldn’t get over Jesus’ eating habits and association with sinners.

2. Scribes:

Matthew 9:3And at once some of the scribessaid within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” Matthew 12:38Then some of the scribes andPhariseesanswered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 

The Scribes interpreted and taught the Law to the people. They were closely connected to the temple in Jerusalem and in the smaller villages, they held positions of authority. They were envious of Jesus’ knowledge of the bible and popularity with the people.

3. Sadducees:

Matthew 16:1“Then the Pharisees andSadduceescame, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.” Matthew 22:23The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him…a trick question.

The Sadducees considered themselves to be of priestly descent but no one knows for sure. Much of it was just political.They controlled the Temple. Unlike the Pharisees, they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the righteous, angels, or spirit as much. They denied the eternality of the soul, punishment in the underworld, and rewards. They were not very popular with the people.They worked in cooperation with the Romans in order to maintain peace and carry on the responsibilities of the Temple in Jerusalem. They were afraid that Jesus was messing up the power balance.

4. Jesus’ Family Members:

Matthew 12     46While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Someone informed him and listen to his response –48But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” They were embarrassed of Jesus.

These 4 groups of people were not evil. They were what we would call “church going” folks but their hearts were not open to what Christ was teaching. Listen to what he said about them in verse13“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Why would Jesus do that?He actually tells us in the very next verse –14“And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15For the hearts of this people have grown dull…’” Listen carefully: Just like in the time of Isaiah there were religious people who were rejecting the message of God, these Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Jesus’ family members were also rejecting Christ. The more they rejected him, the less they could understand him. The parables were much more than just stories given to illustrate a point. They were the tools of the prophets to confront the people of God and to expose the true condition of their hearts. If their hearts were open to the things of God, they would understand even more. If their hearts were closed to the things of God, they would understand even less. 

1. The Pharisees had a self-righteous heart that was hung up on traditions and could not see the need for Christ.

2. The Scribes had a show off heart that could not see Christ in all their bible knowledge.

3. The Sadducees had a status quo heart that was more interested in power than submission to Christ.

4. The Jesus’ Family Heart was the cynical heart that had become overly familiar with Christ.

Jesus’ family did come around but the others help put Jesus on the cross.

Invitation:What kind of a heart do you have? Is it even alive to the things of God? If not, you need to get saved today. This is not a pretend exam.

The Name by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE NAME – Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: What emotions come to your mind when you hear these names? Mother Teresa, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler, Michael Jordan, Beethoven, SpongeBob, etc. All those names evoke a certain emotion(s) in us. What emotion does the name “Jesus” evoke in you? Joy? Peace? Fear? Doubt? Indifference? Jesus is the name above all other names. It changes everything. Today’s message is called “The Name” in our series titled Mind (Re)set from Philippians 2:5-11.

Philippians 2      5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient tothe point ofdeath, even the death of the cross. 9Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11andthatevery tongue should confess that Jesus ChristisLord, to the glory of God the Father.

Question: What emotion does the name “Jesus” evoke in you? Joy? Peace? Fear? Doubt? Indifference? Have you called upon the name of Jesus to be saved?Peter said in his sermon inActs 4:12“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Context: Last weekend we learned that Jesus was/is highly exalted by God the Father. Included in his exaltation was the gift of a powerful new name. Listen again to verse 9“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”In the last message our focus was mainly on the meaning of his exaltation. In this message our focus will be on the significance of his powerful new name.Before we do that, here’s a question: Does all this matter for us? Of course! Once God opens our eyes to see how Jesus is exalted on high and why his name is so powerful, it will not only change the way we live daily but it will also change the way we worship him.3 things we will focus on in trying to understand the importance of his powerful new name:

I. WHO IS IMPACTED BY HIS NEW 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.”

Background:Older scholars used to say that Paul is referring to 3 different groups: “those in heaven” are angels, “those on earth” are human beings, and “those under the earth” are human beings who have died and are now in Sheol or demons. Some scholars through the years have claimed that Paul did not have 3 groups in mind. He was just being dramatic in his writing and he just means “everybody” will bow before Jesus. In recent years, there is a third view that is very convincing to me.It says that Paul is referring to mighty angelic powers that rule the 3 realms of our cosmos: astral (stars), terrestrial (earth), and chthonic (underworld). This is how the ancient peoples used to see their world. If you study the New Testament carefully, every time the name of Jesus is declared, the demonic beings fall before him. Let me give you some examples:

During the earthly ministry of Jesus:

Mark 3:11And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”

Mark 5:6“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.”

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

Colossians 2:15“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

I Peter 3:22“who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

What exactly happened in the humble incarnation and crucifixion of Jesus? We only think of our sins being forgiven through his death but much more was going on. There were powers that were hostile to him and wanted to destroy him. They thought that they had killed the Prince of Life. They thought that they could continue in their role of masters of the world. The incarnation and the crucifixion were a battle to reclaim what rightfully belonged to God!

Application:Are you facing a spiritual battle? Do you know that the enemy and his forces are defeated? 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

II. HOW ARE THEY BOWING?

11“andthatevery tongue should confess that Jesus ChristisLord.”

Background:Now that we know who these beings are, the next question is “What are they doing?” 

  • Is it a confession leading to repentance?Of course not. Fallen angels do not repent. They do what their chief, the Devil, does – “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8)Redemption is only offered to human beings.
  • Is it worship?That Greek word “eksomologeo” in this context means acknowledge. It can have the meaning of praise but these beings are not capable of praising God. Praising God happens when our hearts are full of thankfulness for God’s goodness and power. 

For these beings it is a solemn acknowledgement that they lost and he won. This is not a worship service. There is a similar gathering which is actually a worship service.Listen to Revelation 5    11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth (The word is not the same as in Philippians 2:10for the underworld)and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power beto Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Application:Which side are you on? If the demonic hostile powers are bowing before Jesus, what’s keeping you from worshipping him?

III. WHEN DID THEY STOP BOWING?

Background:If the demonic false angels are bowing to Jesus and acknowledging that he is in charge, the question that comes to our minds is “Why do they still harass us? Do they get up time to time and then come back?” The answer is – “Yes, they are subject to Christ but they haven’t faced their ultimate judgment.”

I Corinthians 15    24“Thencomesthe end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.”

Romans 16:20“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”

Hebrews 10    12But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

What is your posture until that day?Ephesians 6    11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritualhostsof wickedness in the heavenlyplaces.13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Questions:

  • Which side are you on?
  • How is your worship?
  • Do you have your armor on?
  • Are you saved?
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