A Mind To Work by Pastor Abidan Shah

A MIND TO WORK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, HendersonA Mind to Work

Introduction: Have you heard the expression “busy as a bee?” Do you know someone who is always “busy as a bee?” We get that expression from the worker honeybees who work nonstop, foraging nectar and pollen for their colony. Researchers have found that these hardworking bees don’t live very long. In fact, one biologist from the University of Illinois said, “The harder a bee forages, the shorter its lifespan is.” They literally work themselves to death. In the same hive, there are other bees who just sit around and do nothing. They are the slacker bees. They let the other bees do everything. In our human realm, we call this the “80-20 rule” or “the law of the vital few,” where 20% of people do all the work and the remaining 80% just sit back and watch. Unfortunately, the church is a prime example of this behavior. There are people who are working themselves to death and there are those who are sitting back and taking it easy. We’re more than a hive. We are a body where every member should have a mind to work.

Nehemiah 4     3Now Tobiah the Ammonitewasbeside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes upon it,he will break down their stone wall.” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked Youto anger before the builders. 6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height,for the people had a mind to work.

Question:  Do you have a mind to work? What is your contribution to what is happening here? Are you part of the body at Clearview? Are you saved?

Context: The Book of Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. It’s about a man named Nehemiah, who was not priest or a prophet but just a lay person who answered God’s call to help his people. He left his high position in Persia and came to his ancestral homeland to help rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem. If you know history, in 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had destroyed the city of Jerusalem, the temple, and the city walls. Everything lay in ruins. But, fifty years later, as promised, God brought his people back from exile and commanded them to rebuild. They finished the temple by 516 BC but the city walls still lay in ruins a 100 years later. Many reasons for that – lack of right leadership, lack of motivation, lack of unity, opposition from the neighbors. The result was that there was no security, no stability, but hopelessness, apathy, and worst of all, a gradual loss of identity. By much prayer, Nehemiah rallied the people to begin the work but it wasn’t easy. In the face of incredible opposition and little skill and few resources, they finished the wall in only 52 days! It was an incredible feat! A major reason for that was as Nehemiah 4:6 says, “the people had a mind to work.”How do people get a mind to work?4 reasons:

1. CARING LEADERS

Before you think that I’m trying to beat on my own drum, remember, Nehemiah was not a priest or a prophet. He was a cup bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. That sounds like a bar tender but that’s a title for someone who was responsible for the life of the king. He was like a secret service agent but much more. Historians tell us that more than likely he was also the keeper of the signet and in charge of the administration of the accounts. He was a very influential person. Nehemiah also tells us that he was in the palace at Shushan. This was a gorgeous palace. The walls were decorated with bright colored enameled tiles. Carved on the walls were the images of the Immortal Guards, wearing colorful clothing decorated with tiny stars. Their bows, arrows, and spears were made out of gold and silver. When Alexander the Great marched into Shushan, he took 1200 tons of gold. Bottom Line: Nehemiah had it made.

Listen to what happens when he hears that his people back home were in trouble – Nehemiah 1    3And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the provincearethere in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalemisalso broken down, and its gatesare burned with fire.”4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mournedfor many days. . .” People don’t just join a cause. But, when they see leaders who actually care about them, they are inspired to work.

Application:Leaders, how do you see ministry? Is it a chore to work with children? Is it a chore to help out with the youth? Is it a burden to help with Kindle?

2. CONSTANT PRAYER

How did Nehemiah react when he heard the bad news back home? Other than weeping, listen to Nehemiah 1:4“. . .I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” When the king asked him what was wrong? Listen to Nehemiah 2:4“Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayedto the God of heaven.” What happened when there was opposition from their neighbors? Instead of getting frustrated, he prayed – Nehemiah 4:4 “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!” Instead of getting better, things actually got worse – Nehemiah 4    7“Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.” In other words, every step of the way, Nehemiah led the people to pray. No wonder the people did not give up. Prayer is the antidote to fear and apathy.

Application: Leaders, do you pray for the ministry? Awana leaders, do you pray for your teachers? Joy leaders, do you pray for your people?

3. UNWAVERING DETERMINATION

Nehemiah 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”

Background: Just when you’d think that everyone would be happy about this, there was opposition. Who was Sanballat? Archaeologists tell us that he was the governor of Samaria to the north of Jerusalem. He was Nehemiah’s chief enemy. The wall was a threat to him. Listen to what he says in Nehemiah 4:2And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? (He mocked them physically.) Will they fortify themselves? (He mocked their military ability.) Will they offer sacrifices? (He mocked their faith) Will they complete it in a day? (He mocked their determination.) Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stonesthat are burned?” (He mocked their resources).Ridicule or mockery is Satan’s choice weapon to discourage and dishearten God’s people.Shakespearecalled ridicule “paper bullets of the brain.” Scottish PhilosopherThomas Carlyle once called ridicule “the language of the devil.” 3Now Tobiah the Ammonitewasbeside him…” Who was Tobiah? He was the governor of Ammon to the east of Jerusalem. He came from a family of very powerful Jewish aristocrats. He wasn’t happy either because the wall was also a threat to him.“And he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes upon it,he will break down their stone wall.’”Chuck Swindoll remarked – “Critics run with critics.” Who was Geshem?Some archaeological discoveries describe him as the governor of Dedan; others describe him as the king of Kedar. That being the case, Geshem controlled the eastern desert region of Syria, northern Arabia, Sinai, and northern Egypt. He was a very powerful ruler and he was afraid that rebuilding the wall and empowering the people would interfere with his lucrative trade in myrrh and frankincense, besides many other things.

Application: Have you ever had to deal with Satan’s mockery? I’ve had to. Sometimes he uses people who appear very close to you. You would think that it would be easy to brush it off but it’s not. Warren Wiersbe said, “Some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.”

4. FIGHTING FAITH

Nehemiah 4   14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”20Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Ultimately, we have to remember that we are fighting for our families and God is fighting for us. Translated: We are serving for our children and our grandchildren and God will take care of the problems.

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

Do you have the mind to work? Are you saved?

KEEPING YOUR SPIRITUAL FIRE BURNING

KEEPING YOUR SPIRITUAL FIRE BURNING

Keeping your Spiritual Fire BurningOne of the saddest sights for me is to see a Christian who began in a fire or a church that began in a fire or a Christian work that began in a fire but now living in a smoke. William Booth (Founder of the Salvation Army) once said to a group of new officers, “I want you young men always to bear in mind that it is the nature of a fire to go out; you must keep it stirred and fed and the ashes removed.”

Nehemiah 13:6-9 6 But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

Background:  If I were writing the Book of Nehemiah, I would have left out Nehemiah 13. After all, what better way to close than with Nehemiah 12, with the description of the joy and celebration of the Jewish men, women, and children as they dedicated the wall of Jerusalem to the Lord. What better way to close than with Neh. 12:43, “that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.” Just like all the fairy tales of the world – “And they lived happily ever after.”

Only difference – the Bible is not a fairy tale. It never tries to paint a false picture. It never tries to air brush the character flaws of its heroes. No matter the consequence—as someone once said—“The Bible never flatters its characters.” (Alan Redpath).

In Nehemiah 13, we find the most anticlimactic ending to an otherwise glorious book. Nehemiah had finished his twelve-year term in Jerusalem and had returned to Persia to report to the King. He was probably gone for maybe a year but when he returned, nothing could have prepared him for the tragic decline that he found—the priesthood had become corrupt; the people had neglected to pay the Levites and they had to leave the temple and go back to the fields; the people had forgotten the Sabbath and had stopped assembling; and furthermore, they were once again mingling with the pagan peoples around them (intermarrying with the enemies of Israel). In short, they were spiritually back to where they were before the revival of Nehemiah 9. In fact, they were worse than when they first started. How did that happen? As William Booth said, “It is the nature of a fire to go out,” whether it be personal revival or revival in your marriage or church or nation. “You must keep it stirred and fed and the ashes removed.”

Application: This morning’s message is probably the most important message in the entire series, in fact, the most important message ever.

3 things we will see here: Why revival dies? What is the result? What is the solution?

I. WHY REVIVAL DIES? OLD ENEMIES ARE ALLOWED BACK IN.

4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah.

Background: Who was this Tobiah? Tobiah was the governor of Ammon to the east of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah first came to help the Jewish people rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, he was part of the group who mocked Nehemiah, questioned his motives, and even threatened him. Neh 2:19 tells us,“when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” Unlike Sanballat and Geshem, who were straight outsiders, Tobiah was somewhat of an insider. His name was actually Hebrew, meaning “Yahweh is good,” but Nehemiah described him as an Ammonite. Instead of helping his people, Tobiah taunted Nehemiah and the Jewish people, saying, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” You don’t need an army to bring down the wall. A little fox can do that.

How did Nehemiah deal with Tobiah? He replied in no uncertain terms, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.” Meaning: Nehemiah turned towards God; He prayed earnestly to God; He renewed his vision and refused to be distracted by the taunts; and, more importantly, he distanced himself from him. But, Tobiah never gave up. In fact, Neh 6:17 tells that “in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.” In Neh 6:19, Nehemiah says that some of the Jewish people would even “reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him.” Then he adds, “Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.” Tobiah was a wicked snake of a man, pretending to be spiritual; he did everything to sabotage the vision of God’s people.

Application: In life, you will have many Tobiahs. They come across very spiritual but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Deep inside, they are not happy to see you loving and serving the Lord. They are not happy to see your marriage going well. They are not happy to see your children walking with the Lord. They are not happy to see your church on fire for God. Somehow they appear spiritual but they are really not. Somewhere they have allowed Satan to get into their life. People like that do not change unless they allow God’s grace to radically transform them.

What do we find in Neh 13:4? Eliashib, the high priest, was allied with Tobiah and verse 5 “And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests.” Why? Did he not have anywhere else to stay in Jerusalem? This is conjecture but I think I am very close to the truth. A Jewish High Priest would not dare allow just anybody in the inner courts of the temple. As I mentioned, Tobiah was one of those spiritual snake in the grass types. When Nehemiah left for Persia he found his opportunity to sneak back in and what better place to set up office than in the temple.

Watch out for such spiritual types. They could not help you in the past. They cannot help you in the present. Somehow they like to sneak back in and control your life.

For e.g. We had someone like that in our church growing up. He appeared very spiritual but his motives were not clean. He would have special bible studies in his home. In the end, he turned many people away from the church.

Application: What brought you to Clearview? Your spiritual life was non-existent. Your marriage was in trouble. Your family was falling apart. God healed your life. You have grown spiritually. God has blessed you. May I ask you? Are you going back to the same old people. “Oh, I am wiser and stronger now. I know better.” You are allowing the same old habits, attitudes, and behaviors back in your life. Remember, Tobiah is not just a person from your past. He represents all the old enemies in your life. You think – its all water over the dam. Maybe it’s over your dam but not theirs.

II. WHAT IS THE RESULT? WE THINK WE KNOW BETTER.

Neh 13:10 “I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field.” Meaning: Levites were the worship leaders. Because of Tobiah the Levites were without support and were kicked out and had to go work in fields in order to survive.

One of the first thing to go when revival dies is Worship. Your heart is no longer in it. The words don’t make any sense. You just stare at the screen.

Neh 13:11 So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. Meaning: The temple officers in charge of the gifts had left and gone home. Why? Nobody was brining any tithes into the house of God.

Another thing to go when revival dies is Giving. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Warren Wiersbe said, “Giving to others is one secret of staying alive and fresh in the Christian life.” Someone asked that great preacher, Phillips Brooks (who wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem”), what he would do to resurrect a dead church. He replied, “I would take up a missionary offering.”

Neh 13:15 “In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.” Meaning: The Sabbath was a day dedicated to the Lord; a day to rest our bodies; and a day to restore our relationships. Now it was business as usual.

Another thing to go when revival dies is Attending Church. We don’t keep the Sabbath but we do have a day to come together with other believers, be it Sunday or Saturday. We are starting a Saturday evening service to offer another opportunity to assemble.

Neh 13:23-24   23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people. Meaning: The people of God were intermarrying with pagan neighbors.

How sad to see Christian boys and girls marrying someone who is lost. He comes from a good family. She is such a nice girl. He has a good job. She is real smart. Maybe she’ll get saved as she starts coming to church. She will pull him into the world. They will have children who cannot speak the language of Judah.

III. WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE.

What did Nehemiah do?

Nehemiah 13:8a, “And it grieved me bitterly;” Maybe this message this morning has grieved someone’s heart – some husband, some wife who knows things are not right. Some father, some mother who knows that your family is not where they were last year or year before. It grieves your heart.

Nehemiah 13:8b-9, “therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. 9 Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. Maybe this message has challenged someone to throw out that habit, addiction, and attitude. It has challenged someone to ask the Holy Spirit to sweep clean your body – the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Nehemiah 13:11-12  11 So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. Maybe this message has convicted someone that you have been robbing God in your tithes and offerings.

Nehemiah 13:22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Maybe this message has reminded someone to return to worship and guard their day with the Lord.

Nehemiah 13:25 So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. Maybe this message has reminded some of you to be thankful that you have me, and not Nehemiah, as your pastor!

What is the point? As a pastor, my heart’s desire is to see revival come to Clearview. My heart’s desire is to see every boy, every girl, every man, and every woman living for Jesus, obedient to Jesus, sold out for Jesus, and loving Jesus. As Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, “You are doing a lot of good things. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

Who is the Tobiah in your life? Sometimes you have to take radical steps to turn from the Tobiahs and return to Jesus.

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET US FREE

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET US FREE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THERE'S ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET US FREESome people mistakenly think that getting saved will solve all their problems. All I have to do is to get Jesus in my heart and all my problems will just fly away. Such is often not the case. When people find out that their old hang-ups keep hanging on, they get discouraged, get disappointed with God, and even start doubting their Christian life.

Nehemiah 9:36-38  36 “Here we are, servants today!
And the land that You gave to our fathers,
To eat its fruit and its bounty,
Here we are, servants in it! 37 And it yields much increase to the kings
You have set over us,
Because of our sins;
Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle
At their pleasure;
And we are in great distress. 38 “And because of all this,
We make a sure covenant and write it;
Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”

Overall Background: The passage we just read is the conclusion of a 6-hour long revival service. We don’t know how the day began; we don’t know how the word got out; we don’t know exactly how many people were gathered. All we know is that a large number of Jewish people gathered together in fasting and brokenness, read from God’s Word, confessed their sins before God and revival came.

What is revival? Revival is not just a series of meetings that follow the homecoming service. Revival is not just some out of town guest speaker preaching fire and brimstone. Revival comes when God’s people see their sinfulness. They see God’s holiness. They are convicted of their sins. They repent and acknowledge that God is God and they are not. They affirm some fundamental truths about God. So far we have seen just that in Nehemiah 9. The people affirmed 6 fundamental truths about God.

This morning we come to Truth #7 – “There is Only One Who Will Set Us Free.”

Listen to verse 36 “Here we are, servants today!
(The word “servants” is actually slaves.) And the land that You gave to our fathers,
To eat its fruit and its bounty,
Here we are, servants (slaves) in it!

Application: This morning’s message is probably the most important sermon in this series for us individually, as a couple, as a family, as a church, and as a nation.

Again, 3 questions come to mind.

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? BECAUSE SIN HAD DISCOLORED THEIR VIEW OF LIFE

Background: Once again, verse 36, “Here we are, slaves today!”
Slaves??? These people were no longer slaves. King Cyrus of Persia had freed them almost 100 years ago. For a century, they were able to come back to their homelands, rebuild their lives, rebuild their temple, and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. They were not slaves.

What else? Listen to verse 37 “And it (meaning = the land) yields much increase to the kings
You have set over us.” Think about that carefully. Can the land decide if it will yield more to the king than to the Jewish people? The land is neutral. As long as you till the land, seed it, fertilize it, water it, you will get a harvest, whether you are a king or a slave. These people were getting a harvest. They were prosperous. If you remember, they gave generously to the building project. Nehemiah 7 tells us, “the heads of the fathers’ houses gave…twenty thousand gold drachmas (400 pounds of gold) besides other stuff…. And the rest of the people gave…twenty thousand gold drachmas (400 pounds of gold) besides other stuff. That’s a lot of wealth for a bunch of slaves!

Why exactly were they referring to themselves as “slaves” and feeling that they were being cheated? Read the last line of verse 37
“Because of our sins;” Meaning: Their sins were making them feel like slaves and failures. Even though they were free, even though they were successful, sin had colored their perspective on life. Even though they were God’s chosen people living in God’s promised land, they were feeling like God forsaken people in a God forsaken land. That’s what sin will do to you.

By the way, what was their sin? Their sin was not just some action or some bad thing they had done. Their sin was their refusal to acknowledge God. That’s why they were making those confessions – You Alone are God; You Alone are the Creator; You Alone can Save us; You Alone have heard our cry; You Alone can Freely Forgive; You Alone can Discipline and Deliver. Sin is not just habit or action or behavior. It is a rejection of God.

When you and I reject God, our successes feel like failures. No matter how much you have, you will always feel like you are empty. No matter how much fun you have in the day, there is a hangover waiting for you at night. No matter how much you do right, you will only remember what you have done wrong.

For e.g. We are celebrating 4th of July in America. We have so much in this nation and so much to be thankful for. Yet, we feel like we are a nation of slaves with an impending doom hanging over our heads. We are slaves to our finances, habits, passions, and lust. We are obsessed with the end of the world. Why? Because God is no longer God.

It’s the same for our individual life, marriage life, family life, and church life. Sin will override your successes in life. Sin will make a freeman or woman feel like a convict. Sin will make a prince feel like a pauper; sin will make a warrior feel like a weakling. Sin will make a victor feel like a victim. You may have everything and yet feel like you are empty. You will constantly fill yourself and yet be empty. Sin will keep you from enjoying the blessings of life.

Application: May I ask you this morning? Are you free or are you a slave? Don’t just answer that question. Think about it. Jesus said in John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Are you enjoying the blessing of being born again? Are you enjoying the blessing of being married? Are you enjoying the blessing of having children? Are you enjoying the blessing of being part of this church family?

II. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A COVENANT? TO BECOME SLAVES OF GOD RATHER THAN SLAVES OF SIN.

Background: Having identified their predicament, how did the Jewish people respond?

–       They did not try to ignore their sins. That’s what many Christians do. Just ignore your sins and justify them. Just pretend like nothing is wrong. Just be positive. Just say that everybody does it. That is superficial and temporary. That’s what Satan wants you to do.

–       They did not launch once again into repentance. They had already done that. That’s also what many Christians do. They immediately begin the process of self-autopsy. They try to dig deep to locate all their sins. That is a process of utter defeat and discouragement. Again, that’s what Satan wants you to do.

Instead, listen to verse 38 “And because of all this,
We make a sure covenant and write it;
Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.” What does that mean? They made a covenant—a binding agreement—with God. They realized that either they can sit back and let sin discolor their lives or they can fall into the hands of God. So they entered into a voluntary agreement with God to acknowledge Him, glorify Him, trust Him, and obey Him. This was no half-hearted promise to do better.

Listen to the covenant in Nehemiah 10:28-29  28 Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes: Meaning: Either they could be slaves of sin or they could be slaves of God. They made a covenant with God that they would obey Him no matter the cost. They were yielding themselves completely to Him. Sink or swim they were going to obey God.

Application: What are you doing about your sin? Are you simply trying to justify it? Do you sit and mourn and grieve over it day and night? Or Are you willing to enter into a covenant with the Living God to obey Him regardless the cost. You say – “what if I fail?” Then fail trusting Him.

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? DELIVERANCE FROM SIN COMES WHEN WE OBEY FROM THE HEART.

Many Christians are in the same predicament as those Jewish people. Sin has discolored their lives. It has dampened their enthusiasm. It has stolen their joy. It has left them in guilt and remorse. What is the answer? The Jewish people entered into a covenant with God. What are we as Christians to do? Listen to Romans 6:17 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” What does it mean to obey from the heart that form of doctrine? It means to receive Christ with no reservation and no stipulation and no conditions. It is all the way. At that very moment, the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in that person. God makes that person’s spirit a new spirit and that person’s spirit becomes one with God’s spirit. As long as this new believer is obedient to the light that God has given to him/her, the Holy Spirit has access to flow through that life, body, and environment and reproduce the life of Jesus Christ. Why? Because that person obeyed from the heart.

Now this person is going to grow in grace. Now one-by-one the Holy Spirit wants to set this person free. If that person hesitates and breaks that covenant, they are right back to being a slave of sin (not lose their salvation).

For e.g. Manley Beasley would give this illustration – if I owned 40 acres of land and I decided to sell 39 acres and keep one. You could build a house as big as 39 acres but now I own one and you have to give me right of way to my property. I can come back and make him so miserable, confuse him, ridicule him, and defeat him.

Satan does not care if we have given 39 acres to the Lord as long as he can keep 1 acre. He will let you do religious work (sing, bible study, serve) in church but beyond that you have a horrible temper and you act like the devil. The Devil has control over you. All he has to do is wait until he has you in the right place and then push the right button and you act like the Devil.

The Jewish people finally realized that it was time to go all the way.

Invitation: Are you ready to go all the way with God? Are you tired of being a slave to sin? Are you ready to go with Christ all the way?

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER

God the Father Disciplines and DeliversPeople, when they are going through a difficult time, will say something like “maybe God is punishing me for all the bad I have done” or “I’m getting what I deserve.” Listen carefully: God never punishes His children. He disciplines them. There is a big difference between punishment and discipline. The end result of punishment is fear, guilt, resentment, and anger. The end result of discipline is love, growth, respect, and security.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….22“Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,
And divided them into districts.
So they took possession of the land of Sihon,
The land of the king of Heshbon,
And the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,
And brought them into the land
Which You had told their fathers
To go in and possess.…26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies.

Background:  For the past 5 Sundays we have been studying the 9th chapter of the Book of Nehemiah, known as the Levites’ Psalm. It tells us of the spontaneous revival that broke out among the Jewish people during the time of Nehemiah. They began by fasting, wearing sackcloth and pouring dust on their heads. Then, they stood and read the Bible for three hours and confessed their sins before God for the next three hours and worshipped Him. These people were truly broken over their sins. It was quite a sight!

It was true revival. We have signs in front of our churches announcing “revival in progress.” They had no sign but this was a real revival in progress. If you ask me as a pastor “what is my heart’s desire for Clearview at this point?”, it is to see revival come to our church. I want to see men and women, boys and girls, married and single, of all backgrounds broken before God and seeking His face.

These Jewish people affirmed 5 truths:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

–       Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

This morning we come to Truth #6 – “There is Only One Who Will Discipline and Deliver.”

Once again 3 Questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? BECAUSE THEY HAD FORGOTTEN THE SOURCE OF THEIR BLESSINGS.

Listen to 22 “Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,
And divided them into districts.
So they took possession of the land of Sihon,
The land of the king of Heshbon,
And the land of Og king of Bashan. Meaning: When the people of Israel entered the Promised land, they asked Sihon, the king of the Amorites, to allow them to pass through their land. They even promised not to go off the main path into their fields and vineyard. But Sihon refused to let them pass through and, instead, went to battle against them. The people of Israel were not experienced in battle but they fought and won against Sihon and took the territory of the Amorites. Again, the people of Israel tried to pass through the land of Bashan. This time Og, the king of Bashan, went to battle against them. Again, the people of Israel defeated them. Both times they gained control of the territory east of the Jordan River and north of the Arnon River.

Now there are two ways to look at this:

  • One way is to say – “No one can stop us.” “Whatever we set our minds to, we can do it.” “You mess with us and we break you in two.” This is the earthly way. This is the fleshly way. This is how even many Christians look at life. Before the doctor’s visit, please keep me in prayer. After the doctor’s visit, thank goodness it all worked out. Before the crisis, please pray that this problem will go away. After the crisis, that was no big deal. I don’t know why I was so worried.
  • There is a second way. This way says in verse 23 “You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,
And brought them into the land 
Which You had told their fathers
To go in and possess. 24 So the people went in
And possessed the land;
You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land,
The Canaanites,
And gave them into their hands,
With their kings
And the people of the land,
That they might do with them as they wished.” Meaning: God is the source of all our blessings. He wins our battles. He gives us all good things. This is a life lived on gratitude for what God has done for us.

Application: How do you see the good things in your life? Do you see them as your personal accomplishments or do you see them as God’s blessings? Take our nation for example. Somehow people have to come to think that we have created this nation and we can do whatever we want to with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Listen to verse. 25 And they took strong cities and a rich land,
And possessed houses full of all goods,
Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,
And fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate and were filled and grew fat,
And delighted themselves in Your great goodness. Do we realize the source of our blessings? Have we forgotten what God has done for us?

II. HOW DOES GOD DEAL WITH HIS DISOBEDIENT CHILDREN? HE DISCIPLINES AND THEN DELIVERS

Listen to verse 26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations. What a sad commentary on the people of Israel! They forgot what God had done for them. They disregarded His Laws. They killed His messengers. And, they provoked God with their sins.

So what did God do? 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
Meaning: God gave permission to their enemies to come against His people. This seems harsh but it was not punishment. It was discipline. As our heavenly father, God disciplines us when we stray away from Him. Let me remind you that there is a world of difference between punishment and discipline. He does not punish because He has already punished Jesus Christ who took our sins upon His back. For Him to punish us who are saved would be “Double Jeopardy.”

Here’s how you can know the difference:

PUNISHMENT

DISCIPLINE

 GOAL – INFLICT PENALTY  GOAL – PROMOTE GROWTH
 FOCUS – THE PAST  FOCUS – THE FUTURE
 ATTITUDE – ANGER & BITTERNESS  ATTITUDE – LOVE & FAITH
 ACTION – TORTUROUS & LEAVES PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL SCARS.  ACTION – PAINFUL BUT LEAVES NO SCARS. IT IS GIVEN CALMLY, QUICKLY, CONSISTENTLY AND SPARINGLY.
 RESULT – FEAR, GUILT, RESENTMENT AND MORE ANGER  RESULT – SECURITY, RESPECT OF AND FOR AUTHORITY

Does God leave us in our trouble forever? Of course not! Listen to the second half of verse 27 “And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies. 28 “But after they had rest,
They again did evil before You.
Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies,
So that they had dominion over them;
Yet when they returned and cried out to You,
You heard from heaven;
And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,

Application: Maybe you are going through a situation right now where God is disciplining you. Don’t lose hope. Hang in there. Cry out to Him. He will deliver. He will not forsake you. Let me add something to this – you can only tell if you are going through a time of discipline. You cannot judge if someone else is being disciplined. Leave them in the hand of God.

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? DISCIPLINE IS THE PROOF THAT WE BELONG TO GOD

Listen to Hebrews 12:7-8    7If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  8But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 

Discipline is the proof that you and I belong to God.

Are you a child of God?

Story of Ben Hooper (the former governor of Tennessee) – A little boy was born in the Newport Tennessee, which is set in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He was born out of wedlock and even though his father later adopted him, he struggled as a child due to the stigma attached for being born out of marriage. In those days kids who did not know who their fathers were were ostracized. People would not even let their children play with that child. It was as if they blamed that child for his/her own birth. In school kids wouldn’t play with him so he would stay in his desk and study. At lunch he ate by himself. Then he heard about a new preacher who had come to town and he heard good things about him. So he went to hear him but he got there late, sat in the back, and left early. He didn’t want anyone to know him. But for the first time in that child’s life, he heard the message of hope. He kept going back and after 6th or 7th Sunday, he was so engrossed that he forgot to walk out early. Then the service ended and Ben got up to walk out but he couldn’t leave because of the people in the aisle. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was the preacher. He asked, “Who do you belong to?” It became quiet. Then the preacher said with a smile. I know who you belong to. In fact, the resemblance is quite clear. You are a child of God. That little boy went on to become the governor of Tennessee and wrote his autobiography titled, “The Unwanted Boy.”

Invitation: All of us come into this world as orphans. Through Jesus Christ we are brought into the family of God.

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THERE'S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVEMost of our life oscillates between forgiving others and being forgiven by others. We cannot appreciate being forgiven or granting forgiveness to others unless we have experienced God’s forgiveness in our own lives. The model for forgiveness is God Himself. Even though the people of Israel sinned repeatedly against God, He forgave them—repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….lets pick it up in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments….17 They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks,
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Overall Background:  Nehemiah 9 describes the Revival Service that took place among the Jewish people in the time of Nehemiah. These people were saved—as we would say today—but under deep conviction they were repenting for all the junk they had wrongly believed about God and done against God. This was a real revival—people confessing their sins, repenting of their sins, acknowledging God once again, and glorifying God.

Application: I was planning on skipping over Nehemiah 9 but the Holy Spirit would not let me. I could not move on to chapter 10. It was as if God was saying – “Clearview needs a revival and Nehemiah 9 is what it will take for this church to be revived. Every confession in Nehemiah 9 affirms a truth about God that we desperately need to affirm in our own generation if we want to see God work:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

This morning we come to Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

Application: Today’s message is vital for us to understand. This is a message of grace. This is a message that goes to the heart of what Christianity is all about. Other religions can counterfeit Christianity in many aspects save one – “Amazing Grace.” It is the grace of God that forgives us through Jesus Christ. It is the grace of God that enables us to forgive others.

3 Questions once again:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? THEY SAW HIS LAWS IN A NEW LIGHT

Ten CommandmentsListen to their confession in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

Background: Many times in the history of Israel, the people looked to the commandments of God as a burden. “Why do we have to keep all these rules!!?” “Other nations don’t have all these rules.” “Why can’t we be free like them!!?

For e.g. Just like kids – “why do we have to do this and that?” “Other kids don’t have all these rules.” “Their mom and dad don’t make them do all that.”

Repeatedly, the people of Israel/the Jewish people broke the laws of God.

Psalm 78:10 They did not keep the covenant of God;
They refused to walk in His law,

Isaiah 5:24b “they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

II Chronicles 36:16a But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets,

Now that these Jewish people were right with God they were seeing His commandments in a whole different light. God was not the “Big Party Pooper in the Sky.” He was not the “Cosmic Kill Joy who rains on everybody’s parade.” He was not the “Self Appointed Divine Chaperone who cannot stand people having fun.” God had actually done them a favor by giving them His laws. In fact, notice the way they describe the laws – “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven, Meaning: You didn’t bark orders from heaven. And (You – God) gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments. 14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,
Meaning: All the laws and commandments were for their benefit, especially the Sabbath – a day to rest their bodies, restore their priorities, and refocus their spirit. It was all for their benefit.

Listen to the benefits of obeying His commandments in verse 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,
And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst,
And told them to go in to possess the land
Which You had sworn to give them.

Application: How do you view God and His commandments? Do you look at them as a burden? Do you despise them? In America, some have the attitude that we need to do away with all these Judeo-Christian values. We need to get as far away from the Ten Commandments as possible. Having come from a culture where the Judeo-Christian values (Biblical values) are not the foundation, let me tell you as clearly as possible – “The secret of America’s success are the very values that some are trying to destroy.” People are trying to reinterpret the constitution and revise the values. Values like freedom, democracy, and rights exist because of these commandments of God. Show me a country where you would like to live that doesn’t have the Bible in its past.

What is the consequence of disobeying God’s laws? Listen to verse 17a They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks (like an ox that refuses to go in the intended direction),
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
 That’s the word to America and all of us – “Reject God’s Laws and return to bondage.”

II HOW DID GOD RESPOND TO THEIR DISOBEDIENCE? WITH GRACE AND MERCY

But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Background: This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The Jewish people acknowledge a God who is unlike any god of this world. They describe Him in 5 ways:

First – God who is not hesitant but “ready to pardon.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not hem and haw but is eager to forgive. For many of us it is very hard to picture such a God. Maybe its because we grew up with a father or a mother who were hesitant in forgiving us or held out forgiveness to us.

For e.g. Please don’t think I am sacrilegious when I share this illustration. Sometime back I was visiting a family where the son was being rebellious. He had promised to straighten up but he would go right back to the same lifestyle. There was the mother who was looking at her boy with suspicion and disappointment. But the family dog just leaped up and wagged his tail and was eager to greet the boy. That is a picture of God. While the world and even the family says, “We’re not quite sure.” God says, “I am waiting to forgive you.

Second – God who does not keep a checklist but “Gracious and merciful.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not say, “Now that’s the fifth time this week that you have blown it.” This is very hard for us to understand. We love to say, “This is it.”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,


Prone to leave the God I love;


Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,


Seal it for Thy courts above.

Third – God who does not rush to punish but is “slow to anger.” Meaning: He takes His time to come and deal with us. I think about when Adam and Eve sinned against God. If you remember – God came in the cool of the day and not the very instant the crime was committed.

For e.g. One time I stole some money from my dad’s wallet. He knew it but he did not say anything. All he asked me was “Is everything okay?” He didn’t do it to be sarcastic or to intimidate me. That made more of an impact on my life than anything else. Last time I was talking to my parents, they were complementing me over all the good that the Lord was doing in my life. I told them – “I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. At the time, I did not understand all the rules you had but now looking back and having my own kids I understand. Thank You for not only making the rules but bearing with me when I broke them.

Fourth – God who is not limited in kindness but Abundant in kindness.” When you come to God, He just showers His kindness on us.

For e.g. We were at the Chick-fil-A in town and one of our boys wanted an ice cream cone. I gave him two dollars and he came back with an ice cream cone about this tall (6 inches). How did you get all that? He answered, “The manager said that she just got carried away.

Fifth – God who is not unaware of sin but He still “did not forsake them.” Some people might take all this forgiveness to mean that sin does not bother God. To the contrary, sin is horrible and it deserves God’s punishment. Nonetheless, He does not forsake His own.

Listen to verse 18 “Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,
And said, ‘This is your god
That brought you up out of Egypt,’
And worked great provocations, 19 Yet in Your manifold mercies
You did not forsake them in the wilderness.
The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day,
To lead them on the road;
Nor the pillar of fire by night,
To show them light,
And the way they should go. 20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth,
And gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness;
They lacked nothing;
Their clothes did not wear out
And their feet did not swell.

Application: You might have a God who is Holy and Righteous and Just. You might have met a God who will punish the ungodly and pour His wrath on them. But have you met this God who is Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And who does not forsake His own.”

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN

In 1959 a Pennsylvania jurist named Curtis Bok wrote a book on prison reform titled “Star Wormwood.” In this book, he relates the story told to him by Kenyon J. Scudder, first superintendent of Chino penitentiary. Two men were on a train. One was a convict coming home after a five-year prison sentence. Things had not gone well between this young man and his family. So before he left for home he wrote to his family that if they wanted him to come home, they were to place a white ribbon in the big apple tree next to the railroad track, and he would get off the train. If he didn’t see a white ribbon in the designated apple tree, he would stay on the train and seek a new life elsewhere. As the train approached the apple tree, the ex-convict told his traveling companion he couldn’t bear to look. His companion said that he would look and took his place by the window to watch for the apple tree. He saw an apple tree covered with white ribbons!

That is how God forgives us – repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

But somebody had to pay that price – Jesus Christ, who gave His life on Calvary’s tree. When you have His forgiveness, then you can forgive others.

LEARNING TO GIVE SACRIFICIALLY

LEARNING TO GIVE SACRIFICIALLY by Pastor Shah

Learning to Give SacrificiallyGod used Nehemiah to lead the Jewish people to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. The whole project was nothing short of supernatural! Nonetheless, the people had to give financially to the work. Why? Because God does not violate natural laws and human laws. The mortar still had to be purchased – it did not just fall out of the sky. The stones still had to be ordered – they did not just chisel themselves. The tools still had to be bought – they did not just appear out of thin air. The people had to give money towards the cost and expenses of the project.

This is very important for us to understand at Clearview. Even though God is doing a great work in our church, it doesn’t mean that the concrete, bricks, and lumber will fall out of the sky; it doesn’t mean the trusses will build themselves and the roof will grow on it. It requires our financial support.

Some of us have the wrong idea that someone else is going to pay for this. Praise God for those who are giving faithfully. But God’s order has not changed. Everyone should give according to what He has given to us. Here are a list of common excuses:

–   “Tithing is Old Testament” – Remember, Abraham gave a tithe way before Moses ever gave the Ten Commandments. In fact, in the NT, tithing is just the starting point!

–   “Just cause I don’t give doesn’t mean I don’t love Jesus or the church” – When John Wesley would visit his congregations he would ask his assistants if their Christianity had affected their pockets. That is the real test of what we believe. I love the bumper sticker: “Honk if you love Jesus.” But I like this one better: “Tithe if you love Jesus. Any fool can honk.”

–   “I would if I had some extra”—God instituted tithing to teach us that it all belongs to Him and that we are to give back a portion of what He has given us. It’s like the father who buys French Fries for his son. Then just like fathers do—he reaches over to take one and the little boy slaps his father’s hand. “Don’t touch my French fries!” Now the father knows that he bought the fries. He could take all of them. He could get angry with his son. He could throw them in a trashcan. He could do anything he wanted to with those fries. The problem is that his son is selfish. That is the same way with us when we refuse to give God our tithe. We slap God’s hand and say, “Don’t touch my money!”

–       “I give what I can”—You are to tithe on your gross not on your net. When you tithe on your net, you are in essence saying that the government not God gets the “first fruit” of our increase. If you are giving only $5, ask yourself—are you only making $50 per month? If you are giving $50, are you only making $500 a month? Young people—if you are getting paid, you should be giving your tithes and offerings. Single people—if you are working, you should be giving your tithes and offerings. Married Couples – if each of you is working, each of you should tithe. If you are on a fixed income – you should still tithe. If you are on a retirement, you should still tithe. I’ve heard people say – “I’m not a member so I don’t have to give.” Ask yourself—“Has this church changed your life?” “Has the preaching, ministry, and friendships at Clearview helped you and your family, then you should give.”

Growing up both Nicole and I saw our mom and dad giving their tithes and offerings to the Lord. We saw them struggling but still giving faithfully. They set an example for us to follow. The first check that Nicole writes in our home is the tithe check. Does it get tight sometimes? Yes it does. It is a reminder of the pain that the Father felt when He gave His Only Son to die on the cross for our sins. When we give faithfully, God does things with our tithes and offerings that are way beyond our imagination. We get much more than we bargained for.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO HEARS OUR CRY

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO HEARS OUR CRY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

You can either look at your past with confusion or you can look at your past with confidence. Either you can look at your past as a victim or you can look at your past as a victor. It all comes down to how you see God in your past.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….this is what they said “You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,
And heard their cry by the Red Sea. 10 You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,
Against all his servants,
And against all the people of his land.
For You knew that they acted proudly against them.
So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. 11 And You divided the sea before them,
So that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land;
And their persecutors You threw into the deep,
As a stone into the mighty waters. 12 Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar,
And by night with a pillar of fire,
To give them light on the road
Which they should travel. Overall Background: After rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem and celebrating the various feasts, the Jewish people gathered together for a worship service, which is recorded in Nehemiah 9. The entire Nehemiah 9 takes only about 10 minutes to read but it was a six-hour long worship service. The first three hours were spent reading the Bible and the next three hours were spent confessing their sins before God. These Jewish people had come back to God. They were already saved, as we would say today. But now they were repenting for all the junk they had wrongly believed and done against God. Application: In the same way, real repentance in the Christian life happens after we are saved. When we are saved, the only thing that we can repent of is what we thought of God and about His Son, Jesus Christ. But after we are saved, God the Holy Spirit begins the process of cleaning us of all the junk that we have believed and done in our lives. One by one He brings sins to the surface in our lives and we see our true self in the light of His Holiness. That’s when real repentance happens. II 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.” You have to be His people first. This morning if you are lost, you need to be saved. If you are saved, let the Holy Spirit bring you to repentance over your sins. So far these Jewish people had repented of three very important sins and made three very important confessions before God. First, “You Alone are God;” Second, “You Alone are the Creator;” Third, “There is Only One Plan of Salvation.” Now we come to the fourth repentance and confession – “There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.” Three questions come again. I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? TO BREAK THE CHAIN OF VICTIM MENTALITY 1867_edward_poynter_-_israel_in_egyptNot only that but the Pharaoh also gave orders that every male child was to be thrown into the crocodile infested Nile River. Can you picturethat? Exodus 2:23 says, “Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24 So God heard their groaning.” What is interesting is that in those two verses four different Hebrew words are used to describe their groaning! This was a time of intense suffering for the Hebrew people. This was a time of intense doubt for them. They were asking – “Where was God when our father or brother or son were being whipped to death? Where was God when my baby was being thrown to the crocodiles? This was a time of utter hopelessness for them. They asked the age old question – “Where is God When Bad Things Happen?” Throughout their history the Jewish people had that question in their mind and heart – “Why did God allow that to happen?” Many of them had allowed their past to control them and make them angry, bitter, and discouraged.Background: In making this confession, these Jewish people were going back exactly 1000 years to 1445BC – the time of the Exodus – to the time when their ancestors were slaves in the land of Egypt. This was a time of horrible suffering for the Hebrews. The new king of Egypt did not know Joseph and he was afraid that the Hebrews would take over. So he began to persecute them and he set taskmasters over them. He made them build supply cities for Pharaoh. Exodus 1:14 says, And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” The word for rigor means harshness and severity. They were trying to break their spirit.Listen to this confession once again – “You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt.” Application: Many of us this morning have been through such times of groaning. Through no fault of your own, you have been through a time of intense suffering. Maybe it was abuse as a child; maybe it was abandonment by a parent; maybe it was a harsh/cruel parent; maybe it was a broken marriage; maybe it was a health issue; maybe it was a loss of job or some other crisis. You cried and groaned but nobody heard you. For e.g. Throughout my life and ministry I have come across people who have been through suffering in life. It usually manifests itself in explosive tempers, cynical attitudes, and even depression. Satan knows how to use this against the believer. Unless you see your past through the lens of the grace of God, you will remain chained to your past. Listen to their confession once again – “You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt.” Meaning: God was not blind; He wasn’t absent; He did not fail. By the way, I mentioned earlier that 4 different words are used to describe the affliction of the Hebrews. Did you know that 4 different words are used to describe God’s response to them? Exodus 2:24-25 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. Application: How do you view your past? As a victim, martyr, poor me. This morning begin by acknowledging that God was there. He heard it; He saw it; He acknowledged it. That’s exactly what these Jewish people in Nehemiah’s time were doing. They were breaking the chain of their past and acknowledging the hand of God. Not only that but they went a step ahead and said that God also “heard their cry by the Red Sea.” II. HOW DID THEY VIEW GOD IN THEIR SUFFERING? ACTIVE AND INCHARGE

Background: Instead of dwelling on the past and going on and on about the suffering of their Hebrew ancestors in Egypt, they turn to talking about the hand of God in their lives.Listen to verse 10 You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh.

There is a philosophy that is prevalent in our culture and has been for sometime that the more you talk about your problem, the better you will feel. There is some truth to it. There is a place for us to talk about our pain. There is some healing in sharing each other’s burden. Gal 6:Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And again, Col 3:12-13  12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another.” martin_john_-_the_seventh_plague_-_1823The Jewish people did not stop at burden sharing but went on to talk about the goodness and the power of God. Listen again to verse 10 You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,
Against all his servants,
And against all the people of his land.
For You knew that they acted proudly against them.
Meaning: God was not silent in the face of the suffering of His people. Altogether He did 10 wonders – each one directed against a particular deity of Egypt. He did some incredible wonders that completely shut down the land of Egypt. He shook the confidence of Pharaoh, his leaders, and the people of Egypt. Some people try to take matters into their own hands. They try to payback. Romans 12:19-20  19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Here’s the principle: Let God handle those who have hurt you and you will actually feel sorry for them and pray for them. He is the Ultimate Father, who stands on behalf of His children. But, if you handle them, then you are on your own. Not only that but as you see God’s hand in your past, He will expose you to His great plans. Listen to the last line of verse 10 – So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. 11 And You divided the sea before them,
So that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land;
And their persecutors You threw into the deep,
As a stone into the mighty waters. God used the suffering of the Jewish people to glorify Himself in the presence of the Egyptians. Application: Your suffering can either be a waste of time or they can be God’s opportunity to magnify His self. I have a book titled – “Don’t waste your sorrows. III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? HE PROMISES TO WALK WITH US AND LEAD US.

12 Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar,
And by night with a pillar of fire,
To give them light on the road
Which they should travel. pillar of fire Background: God not only freed them from the bondage of Egypt but He also led them by His own presence both night and day. He gave them physical environmental phenomenon to remind them of His presence. There are many ways you can handle your pain and affliction from your past: –       Some people take it out on others. There is always an enemy to fight. –      Some people throw themselves a pity party. It is a sin. –       Some people give up on God. Instead, if you are willing, you will realize that He has always been there for you. I want to read you a letter from a friend. Some of you might have gotten the letter and already read it. Here it is: “I just had to write to tell you how much I love you and care for you. Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends. I hoped that soon you’d want Me to walk along with you, too. So, I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited, you never called. I just kept on loving you. As I watched you fall asleep last night, I wanted so much to touch you. I spilled moonlight onto your face, trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. You didn’t even thank of Me. I wanted so much to comfort you. The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into glorious morning for you. But you woke up late and rushed off to work, you didn’t even notice. My sky became cloudy and My tears were the rain. love you. Oh, if you’d only listen. I really love you. I try to say it in the quiet of the green meadow and in the blue sky. The wind whispers My love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colors of all the flowers. I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls and compose love songs for birds to sing for you. I warm you with the clothing of My sunshine and perfume the air with nature’s sweet scent. My love for you is deeper than any ocean and greater than any need in your heart. If you’d only realize how I care. I died just for you. My Dad sends His love. I want you to meet Him. He cares, too. Fathers are just that way. So, please call on Me soon. No matter how long it takes, I’ll wait, because I love you. Your Friend, Jesus Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Do you know Him? Do you trust Him?

THERE IS ONLY ONE PLAN OF SALVATION

THERE’S ONLY ONE PLAN OF SALVATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

There is Only One Plan of SalvationNehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….this is what they said 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. 7 “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You,
And made a covenant with him
To give the land of the Canaanites,
The Hittites, the Amorites,
The Perizzites, the Jebusites,
And the Girgashites—
To give it to his descendants.
You have performed Your words,
For You are righteous.

Overall Background: Nehemiah 9 is the record of the confession that the Jewish people made after they were saved. God had called them to influence the world but they had allowed the world to influence them. Now that they had come back to God, they were repenting of all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors and affirming all the right beliefs from God’s Word—

–       The first right belief: You alone are the Lord = “There is Only One True God.”

–       The second right belief: You made everything = “There is Only One Creator.”

–       Now we come to the third right belief in verse 7, “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him
To give the land.” Meaning: Of all the ancient Peoples, God chose a man named Abram, called him to leave his home and go to a new land, changed his name to Abraham, and made a covenant with him and his descendants. Why? Because his heart was faithful before God. In others words, Abram faithfully held on to God’s one and only plan of salvation. So God not only blessed him but also made him a channel to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

Application: This message is critical for all of us. In our world today people think that there are many ways to heaven/God—as long as you are a good person and help others, according to your religion be the best you can be, then God will let you into heaven. Even some well-meaning Christians think that there is no “one” plan of salvation but several based on where you grew up. Nothing could be further from the truth. The question for us this morning: Do you believe that Jesus is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life? Do you believe that the only plan of salvation is the cross of Jesus, where His blood dripped for our sins? If you believe that, are you telling everyone about Him?

There is Only One Plan of Salvation – 3 questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?

 once again to the confession in verse 7 “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham;

Abraham StarsBackground: In that statement, they were looking back to the birth of their nation. God chose a Chaldean named Abram to leave his homeland of Ur and go toa new land of Promise. Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God even changed his name Abram, which meant “Father-Exalted” or “Father-Departed” to Abraham, which meant “Father of Many.”

All throughout their history, the Jewish people knew that they were God’s special chosen people. They knew that they were different. They knew that they were the “apple of His eye.” Every time things got difficult, God came through for them and protected them.

–       When there was a famine in the land, God sent Joseph before them.

–       When they were in slavery, God sent Moses to rescue them.

–       When they were facing the Midianites and the Philistines, God sent men like Gideon and Sampson, and women like Deborah to deliver them.

–       When they were facing a giant like Goliath, God sent David with a slingshot and a few pebbles.

–       And the list goes on and on.

Bottom line: God was always there for them. They were His people. But recently, things had not been so great for them. The Northern tribes had been taken into exile by Assyria and lost forever. The Southern tribe of Judah had been taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—who destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and everything. Unlike earlier times, God did not seem to have come through for them. Needless to say, this was a very low point in the history of the Jewish people. They felt abandoned by God; they even questioned if God had ever called Abraham.

For e.g. It was kind of like after the Holocaust (the Shoah) when six million Jewish people were systematically executed. Many Jewish people who survived questioned the existence of God and His call upon the Jewish people. Elie Wiesel in his book titled Night talks about the hanging of three Jewish people, one of them was a young boy. He writes, “One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains—and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel….All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips….The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses….“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked….The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.”

Atheistic Jewish theologian Richard Rubenstein said: “More than the bodies of my people went up in smoke at Auschwitz. The God of the covenant died there.” – Auschwitz and Covenant Theology,” The Christian Century 86 (May 21, 1969)

Application: When people go through difficult times in life (like child abuse and loss of loved ones), they lose all faith in God. They tend to think that God has forsaken them; that there is no master plan; and that all is chance and circumstance. Even Christians go through such times. If I can tell you anything this morning it’s this – don’t forget in the dark what God has taught you in the light.

These Jewish people in Nehemiah’s time were now saved and they were coming back to the truth that God was still there and that they were still His chosen ones. The plan of salvation was still on schedule.

II. HOW ABOUT THE OTHER PLANS?

Background: When we talk about God calling Abraham and choosing the Jewish people, the question comes up – “How about the other peoples?” “Why did God reject them?” What about the other people in Ur of the Chaldeans and those peoples mentioned in verse 8—“the Canaanites,
The Hittites, the Amorites,
The Perizzites, the Jebusites,
And the Girgashites”? The answer to that question is found in verse 8You found his heart faithful before You.” Abram was faithful to God’s one and only plan of salvation—the promise that He was going to send a Seed. God was going to send a Savior who would give His life for the sins of the whole world. The rest of the world had either forgotten that promise or decided to create their own version of the promise.

Tower of Babel

In other words, human beings decided to build their own way to heaven. To understand this, you’re going to have to discard the evolutionary “monkey to caveman” idea of ancient people. We have been programmed to think that human beings evolved slowly out of slime. Instead, we need to look at the first human beings as created in the image of God—not brutes but highly intelligent people, with a great capacity to learn and retain knowledge.

After the Flood (More than 270 flood legends; Every ancient culture knows about it.), God told Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:8) Instead, they decided to build a city, a tower, and a name. The city was Babylon and the tower was the Tower of Babel. This was a human attempt to get to God. It was a sun temple. Again, every ancient culture talks about this tower. Even some remote Pyramids WorldAfrican tribes talk about a tower built to reach the sun god. The Bible tells us that God dispersed them through confusion of speech. But wherever the people went, they took with them the idea of building ziggurats, pyramids, and mounds. You can find these structures all over the world from Egypt, China, Africa, and even America. When I was in Mexico, I saw one in the Yucatan, that hasn’t even been explored.

Abraham stood in the line of the faithful who chose to wait upon God’s promise of salvation.

Application: There is only one plan of salvation. You can’t get to God. God has to come down to you and save you. Those who are humble enough, like Abraham, receive the plan and are saved. Those who are proud reject the plan or do it themselves and are lost. It doesn’t matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. Which category do you fall in this morning?

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?

Because we believe that there is Only One Plan of Salvation:

The last line of verse 8 says—To give it to his descendants.
You have performed Your words,
For You are righteous.

–       The only true plan is the one that has come down through Abraham and his line through Isaac, Jacob, the Jewish people all the way to Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.” God is not biased against the Arab nations, or the Palestinians, or anyone else. God loves every nation, and every tribe, and every family. The gospel is to be preached unto all nations, and all peoples, races, and cultures. He has offered even the enemies of Israel his love.

–       There is only way our loved ones, friends, neighbours, and co-workers will get to heaven. It does not matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. No one can earn their way into heaven. You have to humble yourself and reach out and take hold of the hand of Jesus Christ reaching down to you.

THERE’S ONLY ONE CREATOR

THERE’S ONLY ONE CREATOR by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

There's Only One CreatorNehemiah 9:1-6  1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God…. now verse 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You.

Overall Background:  In Nehemiah 9 the Jewish people were repenting but they were not repenting unto salvation. They were already saved. They were repenting for all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors. God had called the people of Israel to be a light in the dark world – to influence their Gentile neighbors with the truth. Instead, they had allowed their Gentile neighbors to influence them – to influence them in what they believed about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people. Now that they were saved, they were turning away from all their false beliefs and affirming all the true beliefs about God and His Word.

Same thing happens to us today – once we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes us through a process of reprogramming our mind. We are born with a defective chip. He begins by exposing all the wrong beliefs that we have accumulated from the world—wrong beliefs about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people—and then he begins to teach us all the right beliefs. We go through a process of confessing, repenting, and affirming the truth.

Last Sunday morning we looked at the first truth that the Jewish people had to learn. It is found in the first line of verse 6You alone are the Lord.” Meaning: There is Only One God. Now we come to the second truth found in the remaining lines of verse 6 – You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. Meaning: There is Only One Creator.

Application: This morning if you are saved, let the Holy Spirit bring you to this truth; if you are not saved, then you need to be before you can have this change of mind.

There is Only One Creator – 3 questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?

Background: This confession was based on the second of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses. Listen to Exodus 20, verses 4 and 5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God….” This commandment strictly forbade any kind of idol worship. God was adamant—do not make any kind of idols to represent Me. Why? I am the Creator and you are the Creation. I created you. You cannot create Me. In fact, in the first chapter of Genesis, God’s name is mentioned 32 times in 31 verses. If you add to this all the personal pronouns, the total becomes 43. Bottom Line: God did not want anyone to violate His copyright on creation.

When the Jewish people started worshipping false gods, they were exposed to all kinds of pagan myths about creation:

Marduk killing Tiamat bas relief–       They probably came across Enuma Elish—a Babylonian myth—that everything began as a watery chaos of salt water and fresh water. The goddess of saltwater was Tiamet and the god of fresh water was Abzu. They gave birth to Ea (earth) and Anu (sky). These two decided to separate their parents and Ea killed the father Abzu and covered his body. Hence the earth covers the fresh water forming an abyss. Tiamet (the mother) met another lover, Kingu, who convinced her to kill the younger gods. They in turn figured out what was happening and they got Marduk, the god of light and storm to kill her. He killed her and used her severed body to make the heavens and the earth. Marduk then went and killed Tiamet’s lover, Kingu, and used his blood to create humankind to do the work for the gods.

–       They also might have heard of the Sumerian myth, Atrahasis, in which human beings were created to help break a strike between the major gods and the minor gods. Since the major gods could not get any food, they created humans.

Khepri–       While in Egypt, they must have come across the Egyptian Myths that the world came out of the lifeless sea called Nu. In some versions, it is Atum who comes out of the waters to create the world; in other version it is a group of eight gods that merged together to create the world; in yet another version, it is Ptah who came up with everything in his mind. Unlike the Genesis account where God said “Let there be and it was,” Atum sneezed and out came Shu; then he vomited and out came Tefnut. They had sexual intercourse to produce the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Some Egyptians believed that the heavens were like a sea in which the sun and the moon were floating. Every morning Ra sailed his boat across and that was the sun.

–       The Egyptians even worshipped Khepri, the scarab beetle, which is a dung beetle. It roles the dung down a hole in the ground and lays its eggs in it. Then the newborns crawl out of the ground. So they worship the scarab beetle as the God of self-creation. Is it any wonder that the 4th plague that God sent against Egypt were swarms of flies!

You get the picture. God made everything by His sovereign will and power but Satan tried everything possible to infringe on God’s copyright through these myths and mythologies. Now the Jewish people were saved, they were coming back to the truth of their Creator God and they were affirming that He alone was the Creator!

Around 6000 yearsIn our own generation there is a creation myth that is stronger than any Babylonian or Sumerian or Egyptian myth – it is the myth of evolution. You canturn the TV on to watch a history program on nature and you will hear of millions of years ago. You can open the children’s textbook from school and read about how humans evolved from ape. You can go to college and hear how science has rescued humanity from the clutches of the Bible.

Application: Let me ask you what do you believe about this creation? Do you believe that this creation is no more than 6000 years old or do you think it evolved over billions of years? Do you believe that God created this world or do you think that it was nothing more than the survival of the fittest and the process of natural selection? Do you believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made or do you think that we are just an accident of fate?

II. WHAT ABOUT SCIENTIFIC AND HISTORICAL FACTS?

Background: When we confess, “God is the Only Creator who created no more than 6000 years ago,” the question is raised, “What about Dinosaur Bones?” “What about the Age of the Rocks?” “What about history and science?” Lets look at them briefly (Keep in mind that I am not trying to show the faults with evolution as much as the reason people are open to evolution):

Dinosaur Skull#1  Carbon Dating – There are several major types of radiometric dating: Radiocarbon dating or carbon dating; Potassium-argon dating; Uranium-leaddating; Uranium-thorium; Rubidium-strontium dating. Keep in mind that Carbon dating deals with things that were alive at one time – plants, animals and human beings (organic). The other datings deal with the age of rocks & non-living things (inorganic). Carbon dating only deals with thousands of years while the other radiometric datings deal with the “millions and billions” of years. With Carbon dating, they claim that they can measure the ratio of Carbon14/Carbon 12 and decide how old it is. I am trying to be very simple. Carbon dating works only if you have a historical record to go with the sample. You have to have some idea as to when the sample lived. For e.g. Kernels of grain in the grave of a king can be carbon dated since we know something about the period in which the king lived. Also, there are many exceptions. They try to use the Carbon 12 reading to answer that. Carbon 14/Carbon 12 level in the atmosphere has been different through the years; not every living thing takes up Carbon 14 at the same level; and then the flood has really messed up the ratio of the C14/C12 in the atmosphere. Bottom Line: It is not a very accurate method to date history.

Chromiteclast

#2  Radiometric Dating – is applied to igneous rocks (formed through lava). It claims to measure the time when it cooled down. This has its problems too.A good example of how inaccurate this type of radiometric dating can be comes from the famous Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980. Scientists knew when that rock solidified because they saw it happen. When they radiometric dated the new rock, the results came back as if the rock was millions of years old even though it was actually less than a year old. So if the dating method does not work when we know how old the rock really is, why do we think it works any better when we don’t know the actual age of the rocks? You often hear about some human remains that are dated to be 2 million years old. What it really means is that they found some bones that happen to be next to some rock that were tested to be that old.

Some people say – Okay we agree Carbon Dating and Radiometric Dating are not worth but definitely ancient chronologies prove that the earth was at least 8,000-10,000 years old.

Stele Naram Sim Louvre#3  Ancient Chronologies – Only problem is that Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Akkadian, Sumerian chronologies come to a standstill around 2400 BC. Infact, before 2000 BC history is very sparse and fragmentary. In a 1992 article in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, famous Egyptologist William A Ward wrote an article on Egyptian chronology. Listen to the summary—The current debate on Egyptian chronology is characterized by divergent opinions on the value of the Manethonian tradition, the lengths of reigns of individual Egyptian kings, the existence of coregencies, and the astronomical evidence. In each of these categories, there is little consensus and a wide range of possible solutions; a precise Egyptian chronology is therefore not possible.”

#4  Someone might say – “what about all the great minds that do not believe in creation?” Some of the greatest minds in the world—Socrates, Galileo, Newton, Einstein—have looked at creation and declared that they believed in God. It takes more faith to believe that this world got here by mere chance than to believe that God made it.

For e.g. One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him. The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.” God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a man making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “OK, great!” But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt. God just looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”

#5  By the way, according to a Gallup poll last year (2012), nearly half of Americans — 46% — believe God created the human race in a single day 10,000 years ago. Furthermore, 78% of Americans today believe God played some role in how people came to exist. People know that there is a design to this Creation.

I don’t have enough time to go over all the details. All I want to do is to plant a seed in your mind or peel a layer of the lies that you have heard about the origin of this world.

III. HOW DOES IT APPLY TO ME?  

Because we believe that “There is Only One Creator and that is God”—

  • Origin of Species titleThere is no place for racism. Did you know the full title of Charles Darwin’s book? The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or ThePreservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. David says in Psalm 139:14—“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
  • There is no place for abortion. Did you know that the theory of evolution was behind eugenics – selective human breeding? At first it began in the 1920s with preventing the poor, unemployed, alcoholics from having children; then in the 1930s sterilization was advocated; then followed birth control. Now it is here in the form of abortion. Recently we have heard of the Philadelphia doctor, Gosnell, who according to the grand jury, “regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”
  • This world is under God’s care. He decides how it will end.
  • Jesus is the Creator and Redeemer. You have to come through Him to be saved and have eternal life.
  • John 1: 10-13 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

THERE IS ONLY ONE WHO IS #1

THERE IS ONLY ONE WHO IS #1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Nehemiah 9:1-6  1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God…. now verse 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You.

Overall Background:  In Nehemiah chapter 8, the Jewish people under the leadership of Nehemiah had listened to the Word of God, repented of their sins, and celebrated the Day of Atonement, where they sacrificed a goat for their sins – it was simply a picture of how the Promised Lamb of God would someday be sacrificed for their sins. Not only that, but they also celebrated the Festival of Booths – they lived for one week in booths made of olive branches and palm branches – it was simply a picture of how the Promised Son of God would be their refuge someday. Bottom Line: These people were truly saved.

By the way, praise God you and I don’t have to go through all that to be saved. We who are living on this side of the cross don’t have to offer any sacrifices and celebrate any feasts to be saved. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and receive Him as our Savior and we are saved. Simply – Look and Live.

But now in Nehemiah 9 they went a step farther. Listen to verse 1Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth (a goat-hair garment), and with dust on their heads (acknowledging that they were nothing but the dirt of the ground). Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners. What were they doing? They were doing some intense repenting before God. They were not repenting for salvation but for all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors. God had called the people of Israel to be a light in the dark world – to influence their Gentile neighbors with the truth. Instead, they had allowed their Gentile neighbors to influence them – to influence them in what they believed about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people. Now that they were saved, they were repenting of all their wrong beliefs and affirming all the true beliefs about God from His Word.

Listen to verse 2“and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; (3 hours) and for another fourth (3 hours) they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….(saying – verse 5) “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! Here’s the order – They got saved, recognized all their false beliefs, separated from the Gentiles, read their Bibles, confessed the truth about the living God, and then worshipped Him.

Application: The order is the same for us today – once we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins to expose and correct all the wrong beliefs that we have accumulated about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people. We not only have a change of heart but also a change of mind by His Word. This morning if you are not saved, you cannot have this change of mind; but if you are saved, let the Holy Spirit bring to you the truth.

The first change of mind is in verse 6 You alone are the Lord. Meaning: There is Only One God. 3 questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?

Background: This confession was the first commandment that God gave to Moses as part of the Ten Commandments. Listen to Exodus 20, verse And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me. Later it became part of the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6, verse “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Every devout Jewish man or woman would pray this prayer – “God you are the only God and there is no other.”

They might have prayed that prayer but they definitely didn’t practice that prayer. Repeatedly they wandered away and began worshipping false gods. First, they started by worshipping some Palestinian false gods

–       Sometimes they worshipped Baal, the Canaanite god of storm. (I Kings 16:31)Chemosh - Solomonbaal

–       Sometimes they worshipped Ashtoreth, the Canaanite goddess of fertility. (Judges 2:13)

–       Sometimes they worshipped Chemosh, the Moabite god of war – Solomon even built a sanctuary for Chemosh. (I Kings 11:7)

–       Sometimes they worshipped Molech, the Ammonite god to whom child sacrifices were made. (Zephaniah 1:5)

Later, they even worshipped some Mesopotamian false gods.

–       Sometimes they worshipped Kaiwan, the Babylonian god of the stars.

–       Sometimes they worshipped Tammuz, the Sumerian goddess of vegetation.

Clearly they went against what God had strictly commanded them.

Why did they do that? For many reasons – sometimes they were trying to fit in with their neighbors; sometime they were frustrated because God had not answered their prayers; sometimes they enjoyed the sexual immortality that came with the worship of the false gods. The result – They lost the land and their identity.

MolechTammuzApplication: Some of us might say – In the year 2013 we Americans know better. We don’t worship any falsegods. To the contrary, anytime anything becomes more important than Jesus Christ, it is a false god. For some their false god is money; for some it is their job/career; for some it is a hobby; for some it is their friends; for some it is entertainment.

II. WHAT ABOUT THE TRINITY? 

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.Background: When we confess, “There is Only One God,” the question comes up what about the Trinity. What about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Some people think that Trinity is found only in the NT and not in the Old. Some people argue that the early church created the doctrine of the Trinity.

–       When God thought about creating human beings, he said In Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

–       When Adam and Eve sinned, God said in Genesis 3:22, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.”

–       When human beings decided to conspire against God, God said in Genesis 11:7, 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.’” Jesus understood this and challenged the Pharisees to explain it but they couldn’t.

TRINITY = 1X1X1 = 1

The point is that God is more than one person was not a new concept. The New Testament sheds more light on the plurality of the Godhead. It explains that God is three persons. Each person is fully God but they are only one God. Since eternity past, the trinity has always existed. We see it clearly demonstrated at the baptism of Jesus.

Satan has tried to counterfeit the Trinity among the Greeks with the triad of Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, among the Hindus with the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, among the Egyptians with the triad of Isis, Horus, and Sub. But there is no comparison to the love and unity that exists among the three persons of the Godhead. Each of these goes by 1+1+1=3 but the right illustration of the biblical Trinity is 1x1x1=1.

Application: We as Christians believe in the Triune God – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are equal in nature and power and everything but they have different roles.

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?

Because of the Trinity –

–       We know that even though there is diversity in this world, there is ultimate unity because God is plural and yet one.

–       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.

–       We understand John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” and John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” and John 16: 7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

I wouldn’t be standing here if someone had not received the Trinity – My father was a Muslim but became a Christian through John 3:16. Each is involved in saving us.

Do you know the living and true God? Do you know the Triune God?

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