Likeness by Pastor Abidan Shah

LIKENESS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: How many of ya’ll remember telling your parents – “You just don’t understand.” How many of ya’ll have heard those same words from your kids? Why do we say that? Because we think that our struggles are so unique that unless others step into our shoes, they’ll never understand what we’re going through. It’s not just parents and kids who do this but employees think that their employer doesn’t understand and employers think that their employees don’t understand. The husband thinks that his wife doesn’t understand and the wife thinks that her husband doesn’t understand. I love the Peanuts cartoon. In this one, Lucy is at her psychiatric booth and Charlie Brown tells her that he has deep feelings of depression – “What can I do about this?” Lucy in her typical manner says – “Snap out of it! 5 cents please.” I would say that she didn’t understand! Today’s message is to help us see that even if people close to us fail to understand us, there is one person who always understands us and his name is Jesus. The message is titled “Likeness” in our series called MIND (RE)SET from Philippians 2.

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: Do you feel that people don’t understand you? Do you often say, “No one knows what I am going through?” Do you know Jesus? Are you saved?

Context: As you know and for the benefit of those who are here for the first time, the goal of this series is for us to have the mind of Christ, to have what Paul commanded us in verse 5“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes when people hear that we are to be like Christ, they say things like – “C’mon, Jesus was God. I am just a human being. He was perfect. I am not. Jesus could not sin. I have a sin nature. How can I have the same mind as Christ? We are very different!” Let’s stop here and clarify a few things. By the way, we will go deep for a few minutes:

  1. Yes, Jesus was fully God in his incarnation. To stop any of his attributes would be to stop being God. We covered that in the 1stpart of our message “TRUE ESTEEM.”
  2. Jesus was also fully Man in his incarnation. He was 2 distinct natures (divine and human) coming together in 1 person. We also covered some of that in the 2ndpart of the message “TRUE ESTEEM.”

There’s something more we need to understand about Jesus’ humanity:

3. Jesus was essentially humanjust like Adam before Adam sinned. Question:Was Adam a full-fledged human being before he sinned? Yes.Genesis 1:27“So God created man in His ownimage; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”Jesus was just like Adam in his humanity. Can we draw a connection between Adam and Jesus?Romans 5:14“…Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” Another Question:Did Adam have a sin nature before he sinned? No. He did not have an earthly father to pass down the sin nature to him. Neither did Jesus. Keep in mind that Adam was the created son of God, as noted by Luke 3:38and Jesus was the only begotten eternal Son of God. Both Adam and Jesus were internally innocentand both of them were externallytempted. While Adam fell into sin, Jesus did not. By the way, Jesus was much more than just Adam.Unlike Adam, Jesus was fully God and hence he could not sin.

4. How are we like Jesus then? While Adam and Jesus were essentially human, we are commonly human. We are the product of the union of our earthly fathers and mothers and we carry the sin nature in us. David says in Psalm 51:5“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”Paul affirms in Ephesians 2:3that we were“by nature children of wrath…” Hence, there is a difference between our temptation and Jesus’ temptation. Jesus was tempted only from the outside and we are tempted from the inside and outside. Nonetheless, propensity to temptation and sin does not make us human. Being created in the image of God with a body and a mind makes us human.

Someone might stillsay, “At the end of the day, Jesus is just essentially human without the ability to sin but we are commonly human. There is still a difference. How can he truly understand what we go through being born in sin?” Have you ever wondered why Jesus spent nine months inside his mother’s womb, was born, grew up, lived for 33 some years before he went to the cross? If his only purpose was to come to die for us, he could have dropped out of the sky as a full-grown human being and made his way to the cross or he could have grown up overnight! Why all this time of living among us? Hebrews 2:17“Therefore, in all things He had to be made likeHisbrethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertainingto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

  1. Are you hungry?Jesus understands hunger. He spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting in the wilderness.
  2. Are you thirsty? Jesus understands thirst. From the cross he cried, “I thirst.”
  3. Have you been belittled? Jesus understands. When Philip told Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah, John 1:46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
  4. Are you exhausted?Jesus understands being tired. Mark 6:31And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
  5. Are you homeless? Luke 9    57Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, thatsomeone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the airhavenests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to layHishead.”
  6. Are you grieving? Jesus understands grief. When he saw a funeral possession of a man who was the only son of a widow, it says in Luke 7:13“He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”Several times it says that Jesus had compassion on people who were in grief and pain. In fact, Isaiah calls him in Isaiah 53:3“A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
  7. Are you angry? Jesus understands anger. When the Pharisees tried to use the sickness of a man to trap Jesus into healing him on the Sabbath, Jesus was angry. Listen to Mark 3:5And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched itout, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
  8. Have you dealt with abuse? Matthew 18    5Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
  9. Are you having family trouble?John 7   3His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
  10. Have you been disappointed? John 6:66“From thattimemany of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”
  11. Are you afraid for your life? John 7:1After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.
  12. Are you lonely and feel betrayed? Jesus understands. One of his own betrayed him with a kiss and Mark 14:50“Then they all forsook Him and fled.”
  13. Have you been falsely accused? Matt. 26   59Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,60but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none.
  14. Are you in physical pain? John 19    1So then Pilate took Jesus and scourgedHim.2And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put iton His head…” And then they crucified him between two thieves.

I can go on and on. The point is that he understands whatever you are going through.

Are you saved?

True Esteem (Part Two) by Pastor Abidan Shah

TRUE ESTEEM (2) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you knew someone and they turned out to be a whole lot more? It’s happened to me many times but last year it happened when Nicole and I would go to this store where when we first started going there, two guys would wait on us. One was a very outgoing salesman and the other was kind of soft-spoken guy who hung around. Then there was a third guy there who was typically behind the counter with another salesman. We thought that the obviously the one behind the counter with the other salesman was the owner, the outgoing guy was the main salesman, and the quiet guy was just a trainee. One day the “trainee” wasn’t there and so we asked if he had quit. They said, “Oh no, he is the owner’s son!” Who we thought was the least important person there turned out to be the most important person!It changed the way we interacted with him the next time! So also, many people have a very limited and even misguided view of Jesus. But, when we truly see him for who he is, it changes the way we think about him, worship him, and obey him. This is the second part of our message titled “TRUE ESTEEM” in our series on 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: How do you see Jesus? If you and I are to have the mind of Christ, do you know what the mind of Christ is like? If you truly see him for who he is, it would change the way you think about him, worship him, and obey him. Do you know him?

Context: As you know, we are in our series called “MIND (RE)SET” where we are learning how to have the mind of Christ. The last message in this series was called “TRUE ESTEEM.” In this message we began to learn what the mind of Christ was all about. Listen again to Paul in verse 6“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Meaning:Even though Jesus had the same form as his Father (spirit, eternal, and glorious), he did not consider “equality with God something to grasp after.” In other words, Father, Son, and Spirit are coequal in essence but different in roles. The Father is in authority and initiated creation and redemption but it’s the Son who actively created and came to redeem with his life and the Holy Spirit encompasses everything and gives life and power to the creation and to every believer. The Son never tried to usurp, subvert, or sabotage the position of the Father. By the way, this was not just in the past. This is how it will be in eternity. 

Quick Application:This is also the pattern for us in our relationships at church, family, and marriage. We can have unity and harmony only if we understand that we can be equal in essence but have different roles and functions. (1 Corinthians 15:28)

Now let’s go a step further, a step deeper– “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men.” That verse has caused more controversies, schisms, and heresies than any other verse I know. What does that mean that Jesus came in the “likeness of men”? Some people believe that when Jesus was on earth that temporarily he stopped being God. They claim that as God he was an all-powerful spirit being but as man he became a weak and finite human being. But, that’s not what was said about him in Matthew1:23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His nameImmanuel,”which is translated, “God with us.” Later Paul said in Colossians 2:9“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

So, what happened 2000 years ago? First, let me tell you what it does NOT mean:

1. It does not mean that God the Son came and took on a human body but kept a divine mind.That’s a heresy called Apollinarianism that the church condemned at the Council of Alexandria in AD 362 and Constantinople in AD 381. Hebrews 2:17“Therefore, in all thingsHe had to be made likeHisbrethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertainingto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

2. It does not mean that there were 2 persons inside Christ, a human and a divine. That’s also a heresy called Nestorianism that the church also condemned. Jesus never gave any indication that he had a split personality. John 10:10 Ihave come that they may have life, and that they may haveitmore abundantly.”

3. It does not mean that Jesus was a combination of a human and divine nature into a new third kind of nature. This was also condemned by the church as a heresy at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681. He had to be truly both at all times so he could represent us as man and earn our salvation as God.

So, what does it mean that Jesus became man? Listen again to verse “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men.” What I am about to go over is the traditional, historical, and biblical position held by the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches on the nature of Christ. We may disagree over other stuff like Baptism, Lord’s Supper, the role of Mary but not this. This is coming out of a Church Council that was held at Chalcedon from October 8 to November 1, AD 451. It also caused a schism between the churches in the east and the west.

1. Jesus is truly human in body and soul just like he was/is truly God in form (essence, nature, and substance).

For example: Driving a very expensive car down a muddy country road. Also, a king becoming a beggar. (From Bruce Ware, The Man Christ Jesus)

2. Jesus is two natures, one divine and the other human, and they are distinct with distinct wills.

On the one hand,Matthew 4    1“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.”On the other hand, Matthew 8    26But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

On the one hand, John 16:28“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” On the other hand, Matthew 18:20“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

On the one hand, Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ”Having said this, He breathed His last. On the other hand, John 10     17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”

3. Jesus is one person not two. John 17:11“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You…”

4. The human nature was without sin. He became completely like us but he did not share our sinful nature. He was dying but not for his own sins. He was dying for our sins. In a sense, he was just like Adam. He was human without a human father. Where Adam failed when he was tempted, Jesus did not. The conditions of the fallen world are there but He stayed pure all the way to the cross.

Final question: Did God change? Was God more after the Incarnation? Revelation 13:8“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

The Incarnation of Jesus is a Paradox, a Miracle that is greater than the Creation of the World and the Resurrection of Jesus!

2 Corinthians 8:9“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Invitation: Take time to think about what God has done for you! How amazing and awesome he is! How compassionate and gracious he is! Humble yourself before him. Be saved if you’re not.

Refining Fire by Pastor Abidan Shah

REFINING FIRE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Refining Fire

Introduction:  One night a chemical plant outside the city limits caught on fire. The alarm went out to fire departments for miles around. Here came all the big fire trucks from the city and started fighting the fire but it was no good. After about an hour the president of the company went to the fire chief and said, “We have some secret formulas in a vault in the center of the plant. I’ll give $50,000 to the engine company that brings them out safely.” The chief told his men – “C’mon, we need that money!” They strengthened their attack but two hours later it was still no good. The president raised it to $100,000. Just then they heard a long siren and a fire truck coming towards them. It was from the volunteer fire department out in the country. The truck looked like it should’ve been in a museum 50 years ago! The guys were bunch of retirees in their sixties and seventies. To everyone’s shock they drove right into the flames of the chemical plant. From the distance the other fire fighters with their shiny big trucks and all the public watched in amazement as those old guys hopped off their rig and began to fight the fire with intensity. In about half an hour, the blaze was out and the vault was safe! The president was so impressed that he raised the reward to $200,000! He walked over to thank them – “Wow! That’s Old School right there! What’re y’all going to do with the reward money?” The fire truck driver replied – “Old School? Phoo…The first thing we’re going to do is fix the brakes on that truck!” In this message we’re going to talk about a different kind of fire, not a destroying fire but a refining fire.

Malachi 2:17 “You have wearied the Lord with your words; Yet you say, ‘In what way have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’ 3   1 “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap.”

Question: Are you in God’s refining fire? Are you going through a tough time physically, mentally, financially, relationally, spiritually? Could it be that God is using that fire to refine you, to purify you? Are you saved?

Context: The book of Malachi has a fascinating literary style. Scholars have given it different names: judicial speech pattern, disputation speech, dialectical style. Bottom line: It reads like a courtroom drama where the people of Israel are on trial for falsely accusing God of being unfaithful to them, not coming through for them. What they didn’t realize was that God was their judge, their prosecuting attorney, their witness, and their executioner. So, welcome to God’s court. Let’s listen in on the trial – Malachi 2:17 “You have wearied the Lord with your words…” The people of Israel were bringing their leftover, rejected sacrifices to God and murmuring under their breath. What were they saying? “…Yet you say, ‘In what way have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’ Why were they talking like that? Bad things had happened in their lives and they were comparing themselves to their ungodly neighbors and saying, “Look at them. They don’t go to church but they don’t get sick with cancer. They don’t give their hard money in tithe but they seem to buy a new car and a new boat. They didn’t raise their children in church but they seem to be doing just fine. There’s no benefit to following God. Looks like bad people have a better life than we do. God must love them more. He’s not just. He’s not fair.” They were calling God’s character into question.

Listen carefully: I’ve been there. Let me warn you – If you look at life only through your natural eyes, you’ll talk like that too. If you compare yourself to your neighbors only by earthly standards, you’ll also become bitter towards God. In fact, Satan’s greatest temptation against believers is that “God is holding out on the best for you” or “God is not giving you what you deserve but I will.” He did that with Adam and Eve – “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.” He even tried that with Jesus – “If you fall before me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world.” He was implying that his father won’t!

Application: Are you comparing yourself to someone? Have you allowed bitterness to come into your life? Are you going through the motions but inside you have become angry towards God? You need to humble yourself, repent, and seek God’s forgiveness.

How did God answer their false accusation? 3   1 “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. What an unusual answer! Before we try to understand what all that means, let’s identify the different personalities mentioned in that verse:

  1. “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me.” Who is the “I” and the “Me” here? This is God the Father. He is the one saying all this.
  2. “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me.” Who is this “Messenger” who will prepare the way before God? Malachi gives his identity in 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Does that mean Elijah the prophet will come back from the dead? Not really. It means a person like Elijah the prophet will prepare the way before God when he comes. (We’ll come back to this in a second.)
  3. “…And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. Who is this “Lord” and this “Messenger of the covenant?” They are one and the same. The Hebrew word for Lord is “ha adon” which is God. The word messenger is “malech” which is also “angel.” This “angel of the covenant” is none other than the “angel of the Lord” who led Israel out of Egypt, went before them as they crossed the Red Sea, led them through the wilderness, and filled the temple with his glory. He is the pre-incarnate Christ. In other words, the Lord who will suddenly come into his temple and the Angel of the covenant are none other than Jesus. What is this covenant? It’s the same covenant that God made to save the world. He made it with Eve, with Shem, with Abraham, with Moses, with David, and on to the renewed covenant in Jeremiah. Hebrews 12:24 says “Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” What will he do? 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? Meaning: They thought God would come to fulfill all their desires and wants. Instead, when he comes, it will be unbearable. He will come in judgment.

Let’s put all this back together. The people of Israel were murmuring because God was nowhere to be found. God said, “I hear you and I’m coming but I’m sending my Son Jesus, the same one who made the old covenant with you. This is how you’ll know that he is the One – there will be a messenger who will clear his way first and then he will come without warning into his temple. And don’t think for a moment that this will be all fun and games. You won’t be able to stand it.” 2000 years ago John the Baptist came crying in the wilderness. Was he Elijah? In a sense, he was. If you remember, the angel told Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist in Luke 1:17 “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…” by which he meant that the same spirit and power that energized Elijah in the Old Testament will also energize John the Baptist. Jesus also said in Matthew 11:14 “if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come,” meaning in spirit and power John the Baptist was like Elijah. What did John preach? Matthew 3   11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Some of y’all are thinking “But Jesus didn’t do that.” Read the gospels carefully and you will see how many times he pronounced judgment on the religious leaders – Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Then he called the temple a “den of thieves.” Then he cursed the fig tree as a representative of his people. Listen to him in John 9:39 “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”

Listen carefully: The mistake we make is in thinking that all Jesus came to do was to be our Savior. Don’t forget that he also came as our Judge. Ever since then he has been doing both in our lives and he will complete his task with the people of Israel at his Ultimate Coming. If you want to know what his work now looks like, try to understand what it will be like at his Ultimate Coming – 2 “…For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness.” Growing up I remember ever so often my parents would take me along to the goldsmith and silversmith shops. There was an entire row of these shops. It was always fascinating for me to watch them as a kid. Nowadays it’s all sophisticated but back then they used to sit on the ground in front of this small portable furnace. They would place the silver into this pan and hold it over the fire. After a few moments, the silver would turn into molten state. As the ore melted, the dross (impurity) would rise to the top. The silversmith would then take a small scalpel like instrument and remove the impurity and stoke the fire even more. Some more impurities would rise to the surface and he would keep scraping them off. Occasionally, he would sit up and look into the pan. What was he looking for? Silver in its purest form turns into liquid mirror. When he could see his face reflected in the pan, the silver was ready. Same way with us, God allows trials to come into our lives. Loss of a job, loss of a loved one, loss of health, financial troubles, family problems. What is God doing? He is turning up the heat. If he let him, he is removing the dross from our lives. How does he know when we’re ready? When he can see the face of his Son Jesus reflected in us. Is Jesus your Savior?

Cold Love by Pastor Abidan Shah

COLD LOVE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Cold Love

Introduction:  Years ago there was a cartoon of an old farmer and his wife riding down the road in a pickup truck. The first frame showed the old farmer sitting behind the wheel with his arm out the window and the wife sitting up against the door on the other side. The second frame showed a young couple passing them. They were sitting so close to each other that you couldn’t tell which one was driving. In the third frame the old woman says to her husband, “Pa, you remember when we used to ride like that…What happened to us?” In the last frame the old farmer replies, “Ma, I ain’t moved…” It’s the same thing when it comes to our relationship with God. If you find that your love for him has grown cold, guess who moved? Not him. This is our first message in our series on the Book of Malachi. It’s called “Cold Love.”

Malachi 1    1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated…13 You also say, “Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” Says the Lord of hosts. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” Says the Lord.

Question: “Oh what a weeriness!” Some translations say, “Oh, what a burden!” It has the idea of exhaustion behind it. The people had become tired of serving God. For reasons we will see this morning, they had become sick of God. Does that describe you today? Has the Christian life become a burden for you? Have the things of God become a drag for you? If so, then you need a revival, you need a countershock. As someone said, “before you can be revived, you have to be vived, you have to be saved.” Are you saved?

Context: The book of Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament. It belongs in a collection known as the Twelve Prophets or the “Minor Prophets.” They’re called “minor” not because they’re less important but because compared to the bigger writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel they were much smaller. But even though Malachi is small in size, it has a big message. To really understand that, we have to understand the context in which it was written. From my study of the language and theology of the book, I believe that it was written sometime towards the end of Nehemiah’s ministry. For those of you who may not be familiar, here’s a quick timeline:

  • In 538 BC God raised Cyrus, King of Persia, to free the Jewish people. If you remember, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had taken the people into exile and had destroyed everything. Under Cyrus they were able to return and rebuild.
  • Some returned and by 515 BC (23 years later) the Jerusalem temple was rebuilt. God sent his prophets Haggai and Zechariah to motivate the people to rebuild the temple.
  • In 458 BC (60 years later) God sent Ezra the scribe to come and read his law to the people and call them to spiritual, moral, and social renewal.
  • In 445 BC (10 years later) God burdened Nehemiah to leave his high-profile position in Persia and rally the people to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem and they did it in 52 days! He also led them in revival. But then Nehemiah had to go back to Persia and spiritually and morally things began to go downhill again.

This is the time period in which God sent Malachi the prophet to his people. It was God who had brought them back into the land. It was God who had helped them rebuilt their lives. It was God who had helped them rebuilt the temple. It was God who had helped them rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem. You would think that the people would be grateful to God and willing to serve him and obey him. Instead, they were becoming ungrateful, bitter, and cynical towards him. Why? They were angry with God over why he had allowed them to go into exile in the first place. Why did so many have to die? Why did so many have to suffer? Why did their lives have to be turned upside down? They had forgotten that it was their sin that had brought the judgment of God. Now they were doubting the power of God, the love of God, and even the existence of God. As a result, some had turned towards atheism, others towards Epicureanism, and yet others had become reluctant believers. In other words, they were simply going through the motions but inside they were defiant towards God.

Illustration: Like the little boy whose daddy made him sit. He sat down with his arms crossed and said, “Fine. I’m sitting on the outside but I’m standing up on the inside.”

Application: Is that you? Have you become cynical and sarcastic towards God because of some bad situations? Are you simply going through the motions? Do you come to church but it’s a duty rather than a desire? Are you angry with God?

So God spoke to his people through Malachi– 1 “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.” Some translations have it as “the oracle of the word of the Lord.” I believe that burden is a better translation because the word “massa” in this context has a sense of heaviness. The words that God is about to say to his people are heavy. Every message I preach I ask God to give me a burden for the people, a sense of urgency.

Now listen to the dialogue between God and his people. It’s in a “charge” versus “counter-charge” format – “God Speaks, Israel Speaks” 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. The word for love is “ahab” which has the idea of a sovereign, unconditional, and personal love. It represents covenant love. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’” You have to read that with a tone of sarcasm and scoff. They were doubting the character of God.Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated…” What was God saying? Jacob and Esau were brothers. God in his divine sovereignty had chosen Jacob and his descendants to fulfill his plan of redemption in the world. There was nothing that special about Jacob. It was totally divine election. What God was saying to them is “Don’t you remember that I chose you to be my people? Don’t you remember that I am the reason for your existence?”

Application: Have you forgotten where God has brought you from? Have you forgotten that everything you have is a gift from God? We don’t go back to Jacob but to Jesus.

By the way, why did God say “but Esau I have hated”? The descendants of Esau were the Edomites. They were cousins but they hated the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel. In fact, when Babylon came up against Jerusalem, the Edomites helped them to destroy the city. God says, “I have — 3 “…laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.” And if they try to rebuild, God said, “I will tear down faster than they can build. ‘They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness.’” In other words, God was saying “I will deal with them for what they’ve done to you.” By the way, sometime in the fifth century a group of Arab tribes drove the Edomites out of their homeland. By around 312 BC the Nabateans took over the region and made Petra their capital city. Nicole and I went there 3 years ago. It’s beautiful but a wasteland to this day.

6 “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts…” They were defying the honor of God. By the way, the reverence of God is not “organ music and lofty prayers.” It’s uncompromised obedience to him. Who were leading the charge here? To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ 7 “You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, “In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ The priests and the Levites had no fear of God themselves. When the people would bring defiled food (the leftovers) and rejected stuff to the altar, the show-bread table and the altar of burnt offering, they would not stop them. They would say, “Yeah, it’ll work.” 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts. 9 “But now entreat God’s favor, That He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, Will He accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts. What a powerful analogy! People still try to offer God their leftover money, time, and talent. We are so prone to give what hurts the least. God says, “If you’re going to give me something, it should cost you something.” Why? It should be a sacrifice. It cost God something when he gave his Son on the cross.

Application: Have you lost the fear of God? Have you lost the reverence of God? Are you still trying to offer God your leftover money, time, and talent?

10 “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,” Says the Lord of hosts, “Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the Lord of hosts. 12 “But you profane it, In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ 13 You also say, “Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” Says the Lord of hosts. They were openly disgruntled in worship. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” Says the Lord. Weariness is when you go from “I get to” to “I’ve got to” – “I’ve GOT to go to church” “I’ve GOT to teach S.S.” “I’ve GOT to sing.” “We’ve GOT to tithe.” Listen carefully: If you’ve lost the joy of the Christian life, you might as well stop the work of the Christian life. There’s nothing more dull, dry, boring, and tedious than Christian work without the joy of the Christian life.”

14 “But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished— For I am a great King,” Says the Lord of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.

How to know your love has become cold? Doubt the character of God, defy the honor of God, and openly disgruntled in worship. Are you saved?

Good Good Father by Pastor Abidan Paul Shah

GOOD GOOD FATHER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

goodgoodfatherIntroduction: This weekend I’m preaching the second message in our new series on the Trinity called “BATTLE OF THE GODS.” We’re going to focus on the nature of the first person of the godhead – God the Father. The message is titled “GOOD GOOD FATHER.” It will not only help us understand God the Father better but also help all men who are fathers to have a better understanding of their role.

John 5   19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”

Father Knows Best

Father Knows Best

Family Matters

Family Matters

Bridge: Where do you think most people in America/West get their understanding of what it means to be a father/dad? Television. Would you agree that the image and respect for fathers has been steadily declining since the early days of TV? We’ve come a long ways since Jim Anderson on “Father Knows Best” or even Carl Winslow on “Family Matters.” For the past 20-25 years fathers on TV are portrayed more and more as incompetent, clueless, out of touch, wimpy, rude, crude, and everything that is contrary to what a dad is supposed to be. It’s as if the definition, the position, or the calling of fatherhood is being redefined. Today’s message will help us become better fathers ourselves to our children by patterning ourselves after God the Father.

Some Questions: What comes to your mind when you think of God the Father? What do you think about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son? I know these are some deep questions about the Trinity that you may not have examined before but here are some questions closer to home. Men – What is your understanding of being a good father? Do you think you’ve been a good dad? Ladies – don’t think that this message is only for the men. Some of you have been interfering and sabotaging the role that God has called your husband to play and it needs to stop. Children – some of you have been bitter with your dads for the right or the wrong reasons. Today God wants to bring healing in your relationships. Are you saved? Have you been to the Son?

Let’s answer the question – “What does it mean to be a ‘Good Good Father’ like our Heavenly Father?”

I. BE THE INITIATOR AND THE PATTERN SETTER.

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

Background: In this verse Jesus not only gave us a glimpse into His relationship with His Father but also laid out a general principle regarding fatherhood. I know some of our translations have the Son and the Father capitalized as if Jesus was only talking about the Trinity but many scholars believe that it could also be “a typical son” with a small “s” and “a typical father” with a small “f.” In other words, what Jesus was saying is that both in the Trinity as well as in everyday life it is the Father/father who is the initiator and the pattern setter for the children to follow. Listen again – “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

Men – If you are a father, just like God the Father in the Trinity, you have been assigned by God to be the initiator and the pattern setter in your house. You’ll have to learn from God the Father what it means to be a good initiator and a good pattern setter in your home. Just the way God the Father decreed to create the world and initiated the plan of salvation for sinful humanity, you have to be the creator and initiator of all good things in your family. Unfortunately, in many homes, it is not the man but the poor wife who is playing the initiator and pattern setter for spirituality and everything positive while the man is busy chasing the dollar or sprawled out in front of the TV or out in the garage messing with the vehicles or feeding some habit or hobby. Men – the status of your home is contingent on you. Someone might say – “I’ve tried but it’s always a fight.” I understand that sometimes it can be that way but you can’t give up. Just as a drill sergeant cannot give up on his troop and a coach cannot give up on his team, you cannot give up on your role as the initiator and pattern setter in your household.

Where do you begin? The first place to begin is by rejecting bad patterns of fatherhood in your life. Men – we admire certain men in our lives. Sometimes it’s through personal relationships like fathers, grandfathers, uncles, bosses, supervisors, superior officers, teachers, instructors, coaches, etc. These are people in our lives who have helped us and made a big impact upon us. We respect them and we try to do everything like them, even how we raise our children. If they were wonderful fathers, then great. If not, that can be a huge mistake. Sometimes these men are not personally related to us. We admire them for being successful businessmen, athletes, actors, musicians or some superstar. We idolize such men to the point of emulating them in how they raised their children. We feel that we have to do everything just like them. Now if they were wonderful fathers, then wonderful. If not, that can be a huge mistake. Also, please don’t listen to every parenting seminar and bible study that comes along. Some are unhealthy, legalistic, and unbiblical. In recent years we have seen the fruit of some of this mess.

Application: Men – Are you being the initiator and the pattern setter in your home? You want your children to be good, are you following Jesus Christ? You want the children to be in church, are you in church? If you make fun of the church members and constantly criticize the pastor, don’t expect your children to do any different. Are you following God the Father as your pattern or do you have the wrong pattern?

II. SHOW LOVE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

20 “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself does…”

Background: You may not know that this is the second time in John’s Gospel that this statement is made. The first time was in John 3:35 “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” The first one in John 3:35 is about trust and the second in John 5:20 is about knowledge. Something more interesting here – two different Greek words are used for love in these two almost identical statements. In John 3:35 the word for love is “agapan” and in John 5:20 the word for love is “filein.” Any significance? In the first one the Father is telling the Son that He loves Him enough to trust everything over to Him. In the second one the Father is telling the Son that He loves Him enough to reveal everything about Himself to Him. I know some of y’all are wondering – “What does all this mean?” Just like God the Father showed love towards His Son in different words and different ways, so also we can show love to our children in different words and different ways. Men – There is no set way to show love to your children as long as they know you love them.

Illustration: After Rebecca was born I was scared to death about being a father. Even though I had a good father, I also saw that he was not always perfect. Also I had seen many not so good fathers. I wanted to be the best dad that I could be to her and for any who would come after her. So I began to check books out of the library and buy books on being a good father. Even though I was young, only 21 years of age, I could tell that many of the books were only promoting certain personality traits of the writers rather than the core values of fatherhood. For example, some portrayed dad as being a super masculine outdoorsy type, laying down the law for his kids, making them toe the line. Others portrayed dad as a counselor who is always sensitive to the emotions of his kids and understand where they were coming from. Which one is a better father? Neither. You need both. Sometimes you have to lay down the law and other times you have to sit there and listen. Some men are gruffer and others are mellower. Being gruff does not make you a bad father and being mellow does not make you a good father. These models are more personality traits rather core values. The main point is that as fathers we need to show love in different ways as the occasion demands.

Application: Do you understand the love of the Father towards the Son? Do you show love to your children in different ways as the occasion demands? Are you holding on to some grudge against your father because he did not follow a certain trait, because he did not show up for every game you played? Did you forget that he was there when you had your wreck? Did you forget that he was there when you were sick?

III. RAISE YOUR KIDS TO SURPASS YOU.

20 “…and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”

Background: This is a deep statement here. What Jesus is saying here is that the Father has done great things but now He wants to show His Son even greater things so that the onlookers would marvel. The Father raises the dead and gives life to them but the Son will give life to whom He will, dead or alive. In other words, it is one thing to bring a physically dead person to life. It’s quite another to bring a physically living but spiritually dead person to life. Listen 3 verses later to John 5   24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” Isn’t God the Father so humble and generous?!! He didn’t limit the work of Jesus but He gave Him the authority and power to surpass Him.

How did Jesus handle all this authority and power? 30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” In other words, the Father honored the Son by giving Him greater authority and power and the Son in turn acknowledged how much more He was depended on the Father.

Application: What would happen if our families were to operate by such divine principles? What would happen if fathers all across America began to model themselves after our Heavenly Father? What would happen if children began to honor their fathers as God the Son honored His Father?

Our culture is struggling with the absence of fathers in the home. Many homes have fathers but they are not leading, as they should. Sometimes they are not being allowed to lead. Dads need to declare with Joshua in Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

For those whose fathers checked out, God the Father stepped in for you. Forgive those who failed and look to your Heavenly Father.

Are you saved? You cannot come to the Father unless you come to the Son first

Battle of the Gods: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Pastor Abidan Shah

BATTLE OF THE GODS: HOW THE TRINITY CHANGES EVERYTHING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

battleofthegods1Introduction: Today we’re starting a brand new series in our ongoing study of the Life of Christ. It’s called “BATTLE OF THE GODS: HOW THE TRINITY CHANGES EVERYTHING.” We’re going to deal with a critical battle that is taking place over the doctrine of the Trinity (God is Father, Son, Spirit, three and yet one). And don’t think for a moment that this will be some deep theological discourse, hard to follow. Each message will be very applicable for our salvation, our church, our marriage, our family, and our world.

John 5   18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

Bridge: Have you ever been misunderstood or misrepresented by somebody? How did you feel? Annoyed, angry, and even amused. It happened to me some time back. I had seen this person many times around town. She was always friendly towards me. We had even talked briefly several times through the years. Then one day our conversation went beyond the pleasantries and she said something about my job at the hospital! I replied – “No ma’am. I work at a church in town.” All this time she assumed that I was a doctor at the local hospital. She thought she knew me but she didn’t. There is one person who is constantly misunderstood and misrepresented more than anyone else in this world. He is God. Even those who claim to believe in Him and talk with Him from time to time don’t really know that He is the Triune God – three persons in one essence. In this series we’re going to learn about this cardinal doctrine of Christianity, the Trinity.

Question: What do you believe about God? When you pray, which God are you praying to? Some Supreme Being or the Triune God? Someone might say – “I really don’t care. God knows my heart even if I don’t have it right.” Would you say that to your spouse or your best friend – “I don’t care to know who you are”? Are you saved? You don’t have to understand the Trinity to be saved but if you are saved, you will believe in the Trinity.

Today’s message is to help us understand the nature and the significance of this Battle of the Gods. 3 questions we will seek to answer:

I. WHY IS THERE A BATTLE OF THE GODS?

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Background: Monotheism, belief in one God, was a cardinal doctrine of the Old Testament. The first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” and the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Throughout the Old Testament God repeatedly reminded His people Israel to remember that He is one. Isaiah 45 says, 5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” Zechariah 14:9 says, “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—‘The LORD is one,’ And His name one.” When you read all these passages it makes sense why the Jewish people were angry with Jesus. He not only broke the Sabbath but He clearly referred to God as His Father, making Himself equal with God. In their minds this was a direct assault on the Ten Commandments, the Shema, and their entire Old Testament faith. The only solution for such a crime was the death penalty.

Were they right for wanting to kill Jesus? Of course not. Even though the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Old Testament, many passages in the OT tell us that God exists in more than one person.

  • In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
  • In Genesis 3:22 God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.”
  • In Genesis 11:7 God said,Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language.”
  • In Isaiah 6:8 Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”
  • In Psalm 45:6-7 the psalmist says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever….Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness….”
  • In Psalm 110:1 David says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”

The fact that God is one and yet more was always there in the Old Testament.

Here’s a deeper question: Why didn’t God just lay out the doctrine of the Trinity from the beginning? This way there wouldn’t be any battle. 2 reasons why didn’t:

#1. The people of God were not ready for the full exposure of the doctrine of the Trinity. Think about a newborn baby. He/she needs food and nourishment, starting with mother’s milk or bottle milk and then gradually moving up to baby food, which can be nasty. Why don’t we just give the baby a nice juicy steak, with a fork and a knife? The baby is not ready for it. It will even hurt himself/herself. So also the damage the people of God may have done to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In His divine wisdom, God knew that they were not ready for all that information. In His divine mercy, He chose to reveal it slowly and carefully.

#2. God reveals Himself gently and progressively.

I heard someone once say – “Be careful of someone who shares everything about themselves in the first five minutes of your encounter.”

II. WHICH IS THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BATTLE?

Here is the doctrine of the Trinity in three statements:

  1. God is three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is one God.

I don’t have the time to go through every verse on each point. Error in understanding comes when any of the three statements are denied.

Error #1 God is three separate gods. That’s definitely not true.

Error #2 God is just one person who appears to us in 3 different forms. That’s a heresy called Modalism or Sabellianism.

Error #3 The Son or the Spirit or both are inferior to the Father.

  • The heresy of Arianism claimed that the Son was created by the Father and was not divine.
  • The heresy of subordinationism claimed that the Son was eternal and divine but not equal to the Father in being and attribute. The Son actually derived His being from the Father.
  • The heresy of adoptionism claimed that the Son was not eternal but just a man that God adopted at the baptism. He was not divine.
  • The heresy over the Holy Spirit that claimed that the Holy Spirit came only from the Father. Later it was fixed as the Filioque clause to say that He also came from the Son.

Application: Which side of the battle are you on? Do you have the right view of God?

III. DOES THE BATTLE OF THE GODS MATTER?

It absolutely does!

  1. If Jesus was not fully God, then how could He as just a man bear the wrath of God against all our sins?
  2. If Jesus was not fully God, then we can place our faith in just some human being for our salvation?
  3. If Jesus was not fully God, then how can we worship Him and pray to Him? Yes we can pray to Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:2  “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” 2 Corinthians 12   7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

And yes you can pray to the Holy Spirit because He is God as well.

  1. Because of the Trinity
  • We know that God can relate with us because He has related within Himself since the beginning of time.
  • We understand the unity in a marriage where two come together and become one flesh.
  • We understand the unity in a church where many come together and yet we are one body.
  • We understand the unity between Christ and His church.

Do you know the living and true God? Do you know the Triune God? God wants us to know Him for who He really is

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

To Judge or Not to Judge by Pastor Abidan Shah

TO JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: This morning we are back in our series on the Sermon on the Mount and the message is titled “TO JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE.”

tojudgeornottojudgeMatthew 7   1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Bridge: Last week I came across this quote – “Before you start to judge me, step into my shoes and walk the life I’m living and if you get as far as I am, just maybe you will see how strong I really am.” On one hand, the quote is very inspiring. “You can’t judge me unless you understand what I’ve been through and when you understand what I’ve been through, you’ll see why I am the way I am. And, I am tough.” But, on the second and third reading, that quote has some troubling implications. It seems to be saying – “There is no right or wrong. I am the way I am because of what I’ve been through. You can’t tell me how to live my life. Life has made me tough enough to do whatever I want.” Sadly and frighteningly, this is how most people think today, even Christians. Some form of this quote has been thrown in my face many a times. Should we judge or should we not?

Context: In the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus gives us the proper balance between when to judge and when not to. Unfortunately, this passage is often invoked to forbid all judgment. Ever heard someone say – “Don’t be judging nobody because Jesus told us to get the log out of your own eye first.” That’s not true. Yes, Jesus did warn us to judge ourselves first but He never told us to stop judging completely. In fact, in verse 5, Jesus called someone a “Hypocrite!” That’s a judgment. The point is that we are to confront sin but with the right motives, to help and not to condemn the person.

Question: First things first – Have you examined yourself lately? Is there sin in your life? Have you repented? Do you confront others about their sins? Do you do it with the right motives? Are you saved? You can judge or not judge but there is a day of judgment coming for all of us. Will you able to stand before the Judge of all the earth?

3 conditions regarding when to judge and when not to:

I. IF YOU CAN’T TAKE IT, DON’T DISH IT.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.

Background: What Jesus is saying here is a general truth – “Don’t try to criticize and condemn somebody if you’re not able to take it.” Have you heard someone say about a person – “He can dish it but he can’t take it”? What are they saying – “When the tables are turned, this person does not like it.” What Jesus is saying here is – “When you judge someone, you are entering the judgment zone where you are under the spotlight as well. If you don’t want the spotlight on you, don’t turn the spotlight on someone else.”

What happens many times is that some of us are better at covering our faults, at making our case, at bullying the other person, and at cornering them. Maybe it’s our personality or maybe we have seen one too many Matlocks. Maybe the other person is not as adept at defending himself or herself and they back off and you win. By the way, Christians – if all else fails, get spiritual. Start quoting the bible. Even make up some stuff. The other person doesn’t know. After all, what matters is that they are condemned and you are safe. You win and they lose. It happens a lot in marriages and churches. Jesus anticipated this and so he adds in verse 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Meaning: You may win against your helpless weak opponent but someone else has entered the courtroom and it’s God. He sees you through and through. You can’t outsmart Him. He will turn your own arguments over your head. He will treat you the same way you are treating others.

Illustration: On the last day of camp, the kids are allowed to have a shaving cream fight. They have to be hosed off before they can jump into the creek or the pool. It’s funny how kids tattle. Kid – “He still has some cream in his hair.” Counselor – “Where are you going?” Kid – “Into the pool.” Counselor – “You also have shampoo in your hair.”

woman-caught-in-adulteryJesus demonstrated this in John 8 when the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. What was their question? 4 Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” They were not only judging the woman but also Jesus! Jesus ignored them but they persisted. Finally, He stood up and said to them, 7 “…He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” The Bible says they “being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. The point is this – “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it.” One day you will have to stand before the judge of all the earth. James 4   11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren…12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Application: Are you that person who can dish it but can’t take it? Who have you been trying to bully? Who have you been trying to corner? Do you realize that one day you’ll have to give an account to that Great Judge?

II. IF YOU HAVEN’T LOOKED IN THE MIRROR, DO THAT FIRST.

3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

Background: Of course, Jesus is using hyperbole, exaggeration to make a point. It’s a form of humor – “You are so concerned about the tiny speck of dirt in your brother’s eye but you cannot see the telephone pole sticking out of your eye!” What Jesus is saying here is “If you haven’t looked in the mirror, do that first.” What happens many times is that some of us have been so focused on the faults and weaknesses of others that we have failed to examine our own faults and weaknesses. We see the lives of others in black and white and ours in color. As someone once said – “We judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their behavior.” They did this, this, and this wrong but I did this for this reason, this for that reason, and this for the other reason.

Now people have used this passage to claim that you cannot judge others. I think Jesus anticipated this and He says in verse 5 Hypocrite!” That’s ironic to me that Jesus is telling us not to judge but He is judging! The point is– Jesus is not against judging sin or pointing out right from wrong. He is against doing that with hypocrisy, with sin in our own hearts. Listen to what He says, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” The point here is not that you cannot judge someone else. The point is first clean your own eye so you can see clearly enough to clean someone else’s eye.

David and Nathan - Peter Frederick Rothermel

David and Nathan – Peter Frederick Rothermel

There’s also something deeper here that we cannot afford to miss. Both the speck and the plank are made out of wood. What I have found is this – if you are searching for the sawdust of sin in someone’s life, most of the time, it is because you are trying to hide a long thick heavy plank of sin in your own life. Listen carefully – When you become harsh over a speck in someone’s life, take it as a warning sign that there might be something of the same texture and make but much bigger in your life. The best example of this is when David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah murdered. God was displeased and sent Nathan the prophet to confront him. Nathan told him a story of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had many flocks and herds but the poor man had one little lamb. The lamb had grown up with his children and he took care of it as his child. One day the rich man had a visitor and instead of taking a lamb from his large herd, he took the poor man’s only lamb. 2 Samuel 12   5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” In other words, David was ready to string up a man over a lamb while he’d just stolen a man’s wife and had him murdered!

Application: How do you judge others? Do you judge yourself on a curve, against others? Or, do you judge yourself by God’s standard of perfection?

III. IF YOU HAVEN’T COUNTED THE COST, SEE IF IT’S WORTH IT.

Matt. 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

Background: This is one of the toughest verses in the Bible. It seems as if it has been wrongly placed at this point in the Sermon on the Mount. What is Jesus talking about? When we read it carefully in its context, it makes all the sense in the world. Here’s what Jesus is saying – “Suppose you have passed the first two conditions. (1. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it. 2. If you haven’t looked in the mirror, do that first.) You are ready to judge someone.” In other words, you’re willing to stand in the judgment zone and your heart is pure before God. The next question is “Is it worth it?” “Will they receive it well?” Here “dogs” are not like your pets but like the wild dogs that would scavenge outside the city walls. You could hear them growling at each other and anyone passing by. What Jesus is saying is “Don’t try to confront and judge people who will growl at you and try to bite your head off.” How about the “pigs?” Don’t think of pigs here as the nice farm pigs like Wilbur. These are like those that run around and eat out of the garbage. They can’t tell the difference between a rotten cabbage and a necklace of pearls. It reminds us of Proverbs 23:9 “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.” Also Proverbs 9 7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. 8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

Application: Have you counted the cost of trying to judge someone? Do you see hope in their life? Do you see that they will receive it well?

The person who can help us the most with all of this is the Holy Spirit. He knows when we need to be in the judgment zone. He knows when we need to look in the mirror. He knows when we need to back off and let God do the work instead of us.

Romans 14:10 “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Will you be able to stand before the judgment seat of Christ?

If you are lost, your hour of judgment is now. Receive Christ today so you won’t have to stand before the judge of all the earth.

Allegiance to One by Pastor Abidan Shah

ALLEGIANCE TO ONE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

allegiancetoone

Introduction: This morning we are in part 4 of our series on Anxiety called “PUTTING ANXIETY TO WORK” and today’s message is titled “ALLEGIANCE TO ONE.”

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Overall Background: As I was preparing for this sermon, I’ll be honest with you, I was tempted to skip over it or just lump it with the next passage and move on. Usually, I even check to see what great preachers have said on a passage but very few actually preached on it. But, the more I studied it and the more I prayed over it, the more I realized that the Holy Spirit was calling me to preach on it. There’s something in this sermon not just for those struggling with worry and anxiety but also for every believer in Jesus Christ.

Here’s the gist of the message: No one is totally free. Everyone has a master. We were designed by God to serve Him. But, if we don’t serve Him, we will serve someone or something in our lives. Furthermore, we cannot serve Him and also serve someone or something else. “No one can serve two masters.” But, if we do serve Christ (the image of the invisible God) and Christ alone, He promises to exchange our chains and shackles for a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. He promises to upgrade our status from servants to friends and He will do something for us that no religion or movement will ever do – He will actually come down to serve us!

All that we will see in a moment but here’s the question – Is Christ the Master of your life? If not, who is? Is it a person? Is it money? Is it a habit? Is it a bad experience? Come to Christ and He will set you free. Are you sharing your allegiance to Christ with someone else? What does this have to do with worry and anxiety? They are simply the symptoms of a divided life. Again, we’re not talking about anxiety attacks and panic attacks but common worry. Are you saved? If not, then today is the day.

3 things are critical to understand this message:

I. A MASTERLESS LIFE IS A DELUSION. 

“No one can serve two masters…”

Background: If you read that statement carefully, there’s something that Jesus is taking for granted – “Everyone has a master. You just can’t have two.” You often hear people say – “No ones gonna tell me how to live my life. I am a free person. I can do whatever I want.” Not true. God never designed us to be masterless. He designed us to serve Him. The word for “Master” is the Greek word “kurios” which we find over 8000 times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX). Over 6120 of those are for “Yahweh,” the name for God and over 425 are for “Adonia,” another name for God. The idea of God as our Master is throughout the Old Testament. It goes all the way back to Genesis 2:8 “The LORD God (Master) planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” What was his job? It was not to loaf around the garden, lie down, and eat grapes but “tend and keep” the garden. Both Adam and Eve failed in their assignment and stole from their Master. The point is that right from the start, God’s relationship with us was a Master-Servant relationship. I don’t have time to go through every reference of God as our Master in the Old Testament. Let me just give a couple:

  • When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, what did He tell him to say? Exodus 4   22 “…Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serveThe word for “serve” in both Hebrew and the Greek translation is more than just worship. “Latreo” has the idea of a hired servant. God did not say – “Pharaoh, set the people free so they can do whatever they want to do” but “set them free so they can go back to working for me.”
  • Then God warned them that if they didn’t serve Him, they would serve their enemies. Deuteronomy 28:48 “therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.”
  • For time’s sake, let’s jump over to Malachi 1:6 where God says to His people – “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts.”

Here’s the point: Human beings were never designed to be unaccountably free. God designed us to serve Him and He warned us – if we didn’t serve Him, we would serve someone or something. What’s happening in America today? People want freedom for freedom’s sake. The cry of the hour is “I can do whatever I want. You can’t tell me how to live.” What’s the result? Just the way God told His people Israel – “If you won’t serve me, you will serve your enemies.” People all around us are in bondage to sin, to addiction, to immorality, to fears, to doubts, and to the Devil himself.

But there’s something very important that we need to understand – When Jesus came, the title of God as Master (kurios) was applied to Him. Here are a couple of examples:

  • When Satan tried to tempt Jesus, He quoted the Old Testament and said in Matthew 4:7 “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”
  • When people gave Him false devotion, He warned them in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
  • I can go on and on but Paul sums up the belief of the early church in Philippians 2 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: The question is not “Is God your Master?” but “Is Jesus your Master?” Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

II. A DIVIDED LIFE IS A DISASTER.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.”

Background: Let me clarify – This verse is not against working two part time jobs or doing a double major in college. What Jesus is saying is – Don’t straddle the fence. Don’t vacillate between serving God one day and serving the world the next. Don’t be wishy washy with one day all “Jesus Jesus” and the next day “full of the Devil.” Make up your mind. If you don’t, then you’ll either hate Christ and love the world or you will long for the world and grudgingly follow Christ. I know some Christians like that and they’re guilt ridden, conflicted, and a poor testimony for Christ. In essence, their life is a disaster.

Jesus goes on to add – “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is an Aramaic word for money and property. By the way, there was no god named Mammon back then. Jesus was simply personifying money to point out that money is like a living breathing master who constantly demands our time and devotion. Isn’t that true? For just a little more, people will do anything. Please don’t misunderstand – Making money is not evil. God is not against you being successful. He is not anti-rich. In fact, I know many godly people who are very successful. Having said that, I don’t know why but money has always been and will always try to compete for your time and devotion to God.

Here’s a question: Right this moment, is Christ first in your life or is Money first in your life? Do you seek after Him just as much as you seek after the Almighty Dollar? Again, please don’t misunderstand – I know there are times we have to work extended hours and our spiritual life seems to be on the fly. All of us go through those busy seasons in life but if your season has turned into our status quo, you’re serving two Masters.

How does all this connect with anxiety and worry? They are simply symptoms of a divided life. Again, I’m not talking about anxiety attacks and panic attacks. But stress in a Christian’s life is a by-product of divided loyalty, when we’re trying to please God and also someone or something else. Paul says in Romans 14:8 “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” We may have earthly masters but ultimately only Christ is our Master.

Application: How is your life? Are you sharing your allegiance to Christ with someone else? Is it the Almighty Dollar? How is your walk with God right this moment?

III. A SERVANT’S LIFE IS THE DESTINATION.

Background: For this last point, I want us to step back from the immediate context of Matthew 6:24 and look at the bigger picture, the fuller meaning. What happens when we come to Jesus and give Him our sole allegiance? Listen to Matthew 11 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Meaning: When Christ becomes your Master, He exchanges your life of chains and shackles for a life of true freedom and joyful service. But there’s more – only Christ is that master that once you give Him your total allegiance, He renegotiates your contract and upgrades your status. John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. Meaning: When you serve Jesus as your Master, He doesn’t leave you outside slaving in the cold or the heat for Him but invites you in to be His friend. A Master may keep some things secret from his servant but there are no secrets between friends. But there’s even more – He also changes His status from the Master to the servant.

Christ Washing the Apostles Feet by Dirck Van Baburen

Christ Washing the Apostles Feet by Dirck Van Baburen

Jesus demonstrated this on the night when He was betrayed. If you remember, there was an argument among the disciples as to who was the greatest among them. Jesus being God in flesh knew about their discussion and their thoughts. So before the Feast of the Passover, He stood up from the table, took a towel and a basin full of water, and began to wash the feet of His disciples. Imagine the stunned look on their faces. No one spoke a word but Peter in John 13   6 “Lord, are You washing my feet?…8 …You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Peter’s typical response – “Wash me all over.” Jesus told him that wasn’t the point and when He was done He sat down and listen to what he said – 12 “…Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example…16 …I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master…17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. And Luke adds in 22:27 “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

This is true biblical Christianity. What is being propagated and disseminated in many churches is a Christianity that says, “I am the best and I deserve the best. God better bless me.” Is it any wonder that the world remains unimpressed and unmoved by us? To the contrary, I believe that we have something that no religion or movement can ever replicate – We have a God who comes down to serve us and then tells us to go do the same. What will happen if we do that in our homes, our marriages, our churches, and our communities?

Is Jesus your Savior? Is He your Master? I Corinthians 12:3 “…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”

When God’s Will is Done by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD’S WILL IS DONE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodswillisdoneIntroduction: We’re in the 4th message in our series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father.” This morning we will focus on the next line – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and the message is titled – “When God’s Will is Done.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: The hardest thing for me this week was coming up with a title for this message. I tried everything from – “How to find God’s will for your life” to “When God guides your life” to “What is God’s plan for your life” but the more I studied this passage, the more I realized that this petition is not about finding God’s will for our personal lives. It’s about submitting to God’s grand will for the entire world. It’s about telling God, “I am setting aside my prayer for guidance and direction in my life and I want to embrace your sovereign will to redeem and restore this world through Jesus Christ.” Now someone may say – “I guess our life doesn’t matter.” To the contrary, when we pray this way, God is not only pleased with us but in His grand will He reveals His place for us. But first the midpoint of the circle of life has to shift from us to God. It’s not you in the center waiting for God to guide you but God in the center carrying out His will and showing you where you fit in.

Question: What concerns you more? God’s will for your life or God’s grand will period. Many of us are praying – “God, show me your will for my life” when we should be praying – “God, carry out your will in this world. Do what you have determined to do. I want to be with you. Not that you need me but I need you.” When we pray this way, not only do we discover God’s will for us but we pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Application: Are you seeking for God’s will for your life? Are you waiting for God to reveal His perfect plan for your life? Maybe it’s time to rephrase your prayers – “Not my will but thine be done.” Are you saved? I Timothy 2:4 tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That’s God’s first will for your life.

3 things we will understand about “God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.”

I. WHAT IS THE WILL OF GOD? 

Background: To understand it, we need to ask the same question we did in the last message about the “kingdom of God” – “What did it mean to Jesus’ audience when He mentioned “God’s Will?” If they knew their Old Testament, they knew several things–

  • God has a secret will and a revealed will. Although William Perkins, a Puritan theologian, gave these designations much later in the 16th century, they are still valid. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
  • God’s secret will includes God’s hidden decrees by which He governs His universe. It is His plan for how He will complete what He promised to Adam and Eve, began with Abraham, through His people Israel, by His Son Jesus, and into the New Heavens and the New Earth. Sometimes God even lets us in on some of His secrets through prophecies in the Bible but most of the times He chooses to keep them hidden from us. Isaiah 46 9 “…I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.’” Daniel 4:35 …He (God) does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
  • God’s revealed will includes God’s clear commands for our moral behavior in life. It is His precept for how we should live. God clearly reveals them to us through His Word. Deuteronomy 30   11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Both these wills are important and they go hand in hand – If you remember in Genesis when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, what was God’s revealed will for them? They should love him, forgive him, and not hurt him. They disobeyed God’s revealed/moral will. But later on what happens? God raised Joseph to become the second in command in Egypt. Then there was a great famine in the land and his brothers came to Egypt looking for grain. When they found out his true identity, they were scared for their lives but do you remember what Joseph said to them? Genesis 50:20 “…as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to…save many people alive.” There you see God’s secret will in action.

Application: Are you obeying God’s moral and revealed will in your life? Are you living your life in a way that pleases God? Are you trusting God’s hidden and all-powerful will in your life? Are you resting in the fact that God will work all things together for good? When we begin to understand the depth and power of God’s will (both secret and revealed), we lose all fear and anxiety in this life.

II. WHICH WILL IS MENTIONED HERE? 

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Background: What did Jesus mean when He gave this petition? Did He mean the secret will or did He mean the revealed will? Was Jesus referring to God’s perfect will for the world or was He referring to God’s moral expectation of me? There is a big difference. If it is His secret will, then we are saying – “God, do what you need to do to accomplish Your purpose in this world.” If it is His reveled will, then we are saying – “God, help me to do what I need to do to obey your commands in Your Word.” As much as I would like to say it’s both or focus on God’s revealed and moral will, the real focus is God’s secret will. If you remember, the first 3 petitions are in the 3rd person and divine passive. This means that “Your will be done” is not a request to God but just a humble declaration. What we are saying is “God, may your secret will be done in Your world. We surrender ourselves to your divine purpose.” By the way, we find this same petition in the Kaddish (Ancient Jewish Prayer) – “Exalted and sanctified is God’s great name in the world which He has created according to His will, and may He establish His kingdom in your lifetime.” Meaning: Not only has God in His sovereign will created this world and glorified His name but, one day soon, in His sovereign will, He will also establish His kingdom among us. All of that is part of His secret will for His world.

But before we move on, listen again to the whole petition – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What does that mean – “on earth as it is in heaven”? Some people misunderstand this. I did too. They think that what Jesus is saying here is that – “In heaven God’s will is always and perfectly done but that’s not the case on earth. People rebel against God and refuse to obey His commands and follow His plans. So we are asking God to try to do on earth what He’s always able to do in heaven.” That’s problematic. It assumes that somehow God is not in control over what’s happening in this world. I think about what’s happening in our world and in our own nation today. Think about this whole HB2 mess that’s going on. I’ve wondered in my heart – what is God up to? He does not approve this. Why is He allowing this? Is it beyond His control? Is it just man’s free will running its course? Listen carefully – Yes, human beings have a free will to choose God and His way or rebel against it. Having said that, every moment and in every situation, God is in perfect control over this earth and not a single thing is going on without His permission. Do you believe that? Listen to–

  • Proverbs 16:4 “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”
  • Psalm 37   12 The wicked plots against the just, And gnashes at him with his teeth. 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming.
  • Psalm 2   1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.

When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it is not with a tone of defeat and despair. It is with the rock solid assurance that God is perfectly in control of what’s going on and He will work His perfect secret will in His own way and time. We have total faith that God is in control and His purpose will prevail.

Application: Does it frustrate you as to what is happening in our world today? Do you get fearful for your children and your grandchildren? Trust God and know that He is perfectly in control. His plan is not for a moment in jeopardy. He is still on His throne. We may not be able to see His secret will but we can trust Him to be in control.

III. HOW CAN WE FIND GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES?

I’m always amazed and amused as how people decide what is God’s will for their lives! They base it on coincidences, feelings, dreams, conversations, etc. I’m not suggesting that God cannot speak through these things. Let me repeat what I said earlier – first the midpoint of the circle of life has to shift from us to God. It’s not you in the center waiting for God to show you His will but God in the center carrying out His grand will and showing you where you fit in. In other words, when we approach God and say to Him – “‘May your will be done on earth and heaven’ – I am here to trust you and obey you. I am unworthy of anything. I am just grateful that you have saved me. I want to do whatever pleases you.” When we pray such a prayer of submission, God in His sovereign grace turns the box of jigsaw puzzle over and shows us the whole picture and then gives us our tiny piece and says “I’ll help you finish your part of the puzzle.” The Jewish people were not praying for some special individualized prayers. They were simply praying that God will do what He had already begun and what He was intending to complete in His time.

It all comes down to the song – “Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Stop looking for signs and things to line up. What if they don’t line up tomorrow?! Then what?! Instead, Trust His secret will and obey His revealed will. Trust that He has the whole world in His hands and Obey whatever He has called you to do.

Are you saved? Are you trusting and obeying

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