Foundation: God’s Vision for Clearview by Pastor Abidan Shah

FOUNDATION: GOD’S VISION FOR CLEARVIEW by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Foundation

Introduction: Last week was very exciting in the life of Clearview. After months and months of waiting, we got word from the building contractor that the concrete was going to be poured Wednesday morning at 4am. We decided to get here by 9 to film it but unfortunately it was all over by then. But imagine if the whole church would have shown up at 4am Wednesday morning. Imagine if I was dressed up in my suit and tie ready to preach. Imagine if Ryan was ready with his announcements and John was ready with his guitar. What if the moment they started pouring the concrete, the praise team starting leading the people in worship. What if we all stood on the side and had a church service the whole time with singing, preaching, and everything while the concrete was being poured! That would be odd, wouldn’t it! That’s exactly what happened 2500 years ago when God’s people returned from exile and laid the foundation of the temple.

Ezra 3   10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

Before we begin this message, here are a couple of questions to consider: Can you see what’s happening here at Clearview? Can you really see what God is actually doing in this church? Some of you are saying, “Oh, I see the new building coming,” or “I saw the plans on the way in this morning.” Folks, I’m referring to much more than brick and mortar. I’m referring to the building up of lives, marriages, families, young people, and communities. I’m referring to changed lives and transformed hearts through Jesus Christ? Can you see that? How do you see your role in what God is really doing here? All who know Christ have a part to play in what’s happening here. Do you know Christ? Are you saved?

Context: The passage we just read from Ezra describes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. You may remember when I preached a series on Nehemiah couple of years ago how in 587 or 586BC Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem, destroyed the walls of the city, and especially destroyed the ancient temple of Solomon. Not only that but he also dragged the Jewish people 700 miles away into exile to Babylon. They had no hope of ever returning back and there was nothing left to return back to. Everything was gloomy and hopeless. But God had promised them that in his timing he would bring them back and he did. In 539BC (about 50 years later) Cyrus the king of Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire and set the people free to go back home to Jerusalem. Not only that but Cyrus even returned the items that had been taken out of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and placed in the temple of his gods. He also provided support and commanded the people to do the same for those who were going back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. How amazing that a pagan king would do that!

Here’s a principle worth remembering: No matter what is happening in the world, no matter who is in charge, God is still in control. He is still sovereign and he never abandons his people.

Personal Reflection: Eleven years ago in 2007 when we stepped out on faith from the old church building, little did we realize what was about to happen. We had no clue that the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s was about to hit our country and the world and here we were without a church building! But here’s something amazing – we didn’t miss a single service! God took care of us as a church! He knew what was going to happen and he was perfectly in control.

I love this quote from Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (now OMF): “Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”

Application: Do you believe that God is faithful and that he’ll take care of you? Are you God’s work in God’s way? Can you see God’s hand upon Clearview?

Ezra 3   1 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.

Background: About 50,000 returned in the first wave to Jerusalem and they were united in their mission and vision.

So also at Clearview, we’ve been united and we need to stay united. What is our motto at Clearview? “MAKING CHRIST VISIBLE.” What is our mission? “To lead all people into a life-changing, ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” What is our vision? If you’ve been to the new members’ class, you’ve seen our list. It includes – seeing marriages healed, homes transformed, young people following Christ, communities transformed, God’s people digging into his word and worshipping him in joy, and on and on.

2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.

Background: The first thing we see is that they built the altar. This was very important because the one thing they were unable to do in Babylon was offer any sacrifices. This was similar to what David had done when he had captured the same ground about 500 years earlier. He also built an altar to God. Why was this important? Because the altar was a reminder to God’s people that they could not get near to God without sacrifices.

So also at Clearview, we are centered upon the cross of Christ. We believe that without the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we cannot come near to God. Hebrews 13:10 reminds us that Jesus is our altar. What do we offer on him? 15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Two things we offer on the altar of Jesus –our sacrifice of praise (worship) and the sacrifice of giving to God’s work and sharing with those in need.

3 Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. Meaning: In spite of the threats of the enemies around them, they kept on worshipping God. No better time for me to say than today – “Thank God that we live in this great nation where we have the freedom to worship according to the dictates of our conscience.

7 “They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia.” Meaning: This was not all just talk but people actually supported the work financially. We will hear on that in just a moment. 8 Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD. 9 Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah, arose as one to oversee those working on the house of God: the sons of Henadad with their sons and their brethren the Levites. All these names remind us that all of us have a part to play in the future of our church.

Then came the day for laying the foundation. As the builders got ready to lay the foundation of the temple, the priests and Levites lined up in their attire with their trumpets and their cymbals and they led the people of God in worship and praise. 11 “…Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.” Something else happened12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.” In other words, not everyone had the same reaction. Some wept and some shouted and people heard it!

Lot of things are happening at Clearview – Everyday I hear from someone how God is using this church to touch their lives. Friday, a man told me that God used Clearview to save his marriage. Another person told me that they wish they had found Clearview much earlier. A young person told me that he looks forward to get here. It’s his favorite place in the world! We have people who are tuning in to the services all over this community. We have people as far away as Arizona who watch us. The other day I called my parents and they told me that people tell them what I preached on that morning. As you know my messages are on my website. We have people who are coming from all over the world!

Let me re-ask the questions I asked in the opening: Can you see what’s happening here at Clearview? Can you really see what God is actually doing in this church? Can you see how God is building up lives, marriages, families, young people, and our community? Can you see the changed lives and transformed hearts through Jesus Christ? How do you see your role in what God is really doing here? All who know Christ have a part to play in what’s happening here. Do you know Christ? Are you saved?

OUT OF THE GRAVEYARD (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

OUT OF THE GRAVEYARD (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on January 7, 2017)

bef00a78-d76b-461a-be58-7037520c4569This is the time of the year when many people struggle to keep their New Year’s resolutions. According to some surveys, about 70% are broken by the end of January. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual resolutions like growing in Christ, reading the Bible, praying, serving in church, etc. Another year comes and goes and there’s zero progress. In Luke 9 Jesus met three such individuals who were buried in the graveyard of excuses. Let’s see if we can learn something from their encounters:

  1. Grave of Comfort – Verse 57 “…Someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” At first glance the speaker looks like an eager disciple willing to follow Jesus anywhere. In actuality, he was a young man looking to tag along Rabbi Jesus for a low risk, easy life with minimal sacrifices. Jesus knew his heart and bluntly challenged his assumption about being his disciple – 58 “…Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Don’t misunderstand. Jesus was not calling him to give up his Sleep Number bed or his Tempur-Pedic pillow and wander around and live under some tree like a hermit. If that were the case, we’d all be in trouble. Instead, Jesus was telling him – “To follow me, you have to choose the uncomfortable life. Previously, it was comfortable to tolerate some old sin, habit, grudge, behavior, or desire in your life but following me will require giving them up. How much are you willing to sacrifice?”
  2. Grave of Obligations – Verse 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” What a strange request! Was the man’s father dead at home, waiting to be buried?! No. What the man was really saying was “My father is up in age. I need to be there for him. Once God calls him home, then I will follow you.” He was using a very common excuse – “I’ll follow God, when things settle down.” Again, Jesus knew this man’s heart too and responded trenchantly – 60 “…Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” How could Jesus be so harsh?! Was he actually suggesting that this man ignore his duty to his aged parents? The answer is “Yes.” Again, don’t misunderstand. The Bible is always about honoring our father and our mother. But in this situation, the man was using his obligations to keep him from obeying God. Jesus was telling him – “Life will never settle down. There will always be another obligation. Follow me now or never.”
  3. Grave of One Last Glance – Verse 61 “…Another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’” This sounds like a reasonable request, doesn’t it? – “At least my loved ones deserve to know that I’m leaving.” Again, Jesus knew this man’s real intention. He wanted to take that one last look to make sure that this was a right decision. Unfortunately, the world is full of people who took that fatal glance and like Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. What do they see? Some see pain and feel they can’t leave until they’ve healed; some see regrets and feel they can’t leave until they’ve fixed things; some see failures and feel their past would repeat again; and some even see the disappointed faces of their loved ones and feel they can’t let them down. Jesus warned him – 62 “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Many years ago when I preached on this passage, a farmer in our church told me that when he used to plow with a mule, he would find a fixed point in front and keep his eyes on it. When he looked straight ahead, he had straight rows behind him but if he turned back, he was all over the place. If your spiritual life is all over the place, it’s time to look ahead to Jesus.

By the way, before you can leave your grave of excuses to follow Jesus, you have to come out of the grave of sin and death by asking him to be your Savior. Happy Resurrection!

FUTURE AND HOPE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

FUTURE AND HOPE Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on November 12, 2016)

future-and-hope“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Last month Americans all across the land proved with their ballots that they were dissatisfied with the direction of our country. What is being called “one of the greatest political shakeups in history” is a glimpse into the soul of the real USA. Americans have overwhelmingly declared that they do care about the economy, security, and morality of their country. They do want a better world for their children and grandchildren. Once again they are seeing a future and a hope. These are indeed exciting times in our nation’s history. Along with the other positive changes, here are some more that we cannot afford to ignore:

  1. Unite as Americans – It’s obvious that we are more divided as a nation today than we’ve ever been. Wicked forces have done everything they could to tear us apart along cash, class, and color lines. It is vital that we bring about a healing in our great nation. We will have to reach out to each other and show love and compassion. The world is watching to see if we are still the “United States.” The wise king Solomon wrote, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  2. Equip our next generation – It’s imperative that we train our kids in politics, economy, and morality just as much as we train them in sports, dance, and music. We cannot shelter them from the issues facing our nation and the world. Instead, we should prepare them to change the world for the better. If they are to continue the good changes that are coming, we will have to teach them to lead with wisdom and courage. As Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
  3. Prepare for a spiritual awakening – The recent shakeup proves once again that God is not through with our nation. When we study our nation’s history we notice that He sent the greatest spiritual revivals when things were really low. He loves to work in dire situations because it brings all the glory to Him. We cannot forget to give Him thanks for giving us a second chance. But that’s just the beginning. We will have to return to the promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” The dream is still alive.

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

%d bloggers like this: