HOW TO HANDLE TOXIC PEOPLE – Part 2 (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

HOW TO HANDLE TOXIC PEOPLE – Part 2 (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on October 14, 2017)

How to handle toxic people - Abidan ShahMy last article, “How To Handle Toxic People,” drew more responses than any of my pervious articles! Evidently, it touched a nerve and God used it to meet a real need. Thank you for all the words of appreciation! Some of you raised a question that I feel the answer may benefit others as well – “Daily we go through minor toxic encounters that leave us feeling upset to one degree or another. Does that mean that for each of those incidents we have to go through the same process of praying for 20 days until we are free of the toxin?” Of course not. Toxic people and minor toxic encounters are two different things. The first are individuals who perpetually cause us to feel miserable and the second are chance happenings that inject just enough toxin in us to ruin our spirit. Although the latter are not as harmful as the former, don’t assume that they are completely harmless. If left untreated, those emotional fender-benders can cause us to ruin others’ spirits as well. Let me explain below.

Imagine several scenarios: a kid at the drive-thru messes up your order; someone cuts you off on the freeway; someone fails to thank you for your hard work on some project; and you wave at a friend who doesn’t wave back with the same energy. Or, how about the big one: You put a post on Facebook that you think should go viral and only 3 people like it…What do you do next? Each of those encounters have the potential to initiate an unhealthy conversation within you. For the kid at the drive-thru: “Kids these days are so disrespectful.” For the person who cut you off: “I hope he/she gets caught.” For the friend who didn’t seem that excited to see you: “I’m looking the other way next time.” For those who failed to appreciate your hard work: “I am not appreciated.” And yes, for Facebook, one of those: “If you are my true friend, you’ll comment below and repost.” Such negative self-talk will surely ruin your attitude and keep you from living up to your potential. Unfortunately, such unhealthy conversations don’t stay locked inside for long. Sooner or later they spill over on to the unsuspecting individuals in your lives. In other words, your quest for justice will not rest until someone is convicted, sentenced, or punished. Since you cannot prosecute the original perpetrators, you will substitute those innocent, weak, and docile individuals in your life. Your kids, your husband, your wife, your church family, your neighbor, and your best friend will pay for a crime they did not commit.

What is the solution? First, recognize when your spiritual equilibrium has been disturbed. In other words, acknowledge the gnawing feeling that some wrong may have been committed against you. Second, immediately take charge of your internal conversation. 2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us that we should be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” A runaway thought is like a runaway train. There will be casualties. Third, refrain from judging the motives of others. 1 Corinthians 2:11 “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” Ultimately, only God knows the true intents of each human heart. Fourth, pray for that individual. Nothing will neutralize hate and anger faster than sincere prayer. Follow the example of our Savior: Luke 23:34 “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’” Don’t misunderstand. There may be situations where more than prayer is called for but there’s a big difference between restitution and retaliation. Fifth, practice the lost art of the unsent angry letter. Abraham Lincoln would often write his “hot letter” but postpone sending it until he had cooled down. He never sent most of them.

 

“When All Seems Hopeless” (2) by Pastor Abidan Paul Shah

WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When All Seems HopelessIntroduction: This evening I want to preach a message I’ve preached before but not from the pulpit. I preached it in front of our fireplace last winter when we were snowed in and, if you remember, we came together on Facebook Live and Periscope. This sermon comes from one of my favorite passages from the Bible – Romans 15:13 and it’s called – “WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS.”

Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Overall Background: The Book of Romans has been called the “Constitution of Christianity.” It’s pages have transformed the lives of men like Augustine, Luther, and Wesley and women like Elizabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint whose loved ones were killed by the Waodani. But the passage we just read is somewhat tucked away and hidden like a treasure chest, waiting to be discovered. Listen to it again – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Twice we come across the word “hope” in this verse. To me this passage has been a source of hope many times over and I’m praying that it will be for you as well.

Questions: Are you facing a hopeless situation in your life? Do these words sound familiar? – “I’ve given up…” “I just don’t think it’s going to work…” “There’s nothing else left…” Do you know the impact hopelessness makes on personal health? According to a 1997 article published by the American Heart Association – those who have gone through extreme feelings of despair had a 20% greater increase of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) over a 4-year period. If hopelessness is your daily unwelcome companion, then today’s message is for you. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will bring hope to your heart so that you can live again. But let me remind you – you cannot have hope unless you have the Holy Spirit and you cannot have the Holy Spirit until you accept Jesus as your Savior. Have you done that? Are you saved?

Let’s take this simple verse apart and examine each section. Once we’ve understood each part, we can put it back together and look at it as a whole. 4 key things in this verse:

I. GOD’S NATURE

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Background: Now we’ve heard of the God of the heavens and the earth, God of glory, God of grace, God of love, and God of our salvation. But here we come across an attribute of God that we don’t hear about much but it is central to His character – “Hope.” Our God is also the god of Hope. When we are in a hopeless situation, He is the One who reminds us “Don’t give up. Keep pressing on. There is hope.” He points us to the door when we feel that there is no way out. He shows us the light at the end of the tunnel when all we can see is a dead-end.

But don’t misunderstand – Our God is not just the God who shows us the way or points us to the light. He is the also the One who actually makes the way for us and turns on the light for us at the end of the tunnel.

Think about Abraham and Sarah – almost 100 years old and she was 90 and still no child. But God had promised them that through them would come the One. He repeatedly came and encouraged them. In time God made hope a reality to Abraham and Sarah.

Think about Ruth – her husband died. She followed her mother-in-law back to the land of Judah. She was a Moabite woman, sworn enemies of the people of God. But God brought hope into her life. She married a man named Boaz and became the great-grandparents of King David. But there’s more – in time God grafted her into the family tree of Jesus Christ.

There’s something even greater than all this. God not only shows us hope and brings hope to us but He is the Ultimate Hope. In other words, He not only points us to the door and opens the door for us but He’s also the door. He not only points us to the light and turns on the light for us but He’s also the light.

How does He do that? In the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Again, Jesus said in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Then listen to 1 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…” Titus 2:13 He is our “Blessed Hope.”

Application: Do you believe that Jesus is the Hope? What are you despairing about? Where do you need hope this morning? What impossible situation are you facing? Where do you need Jesus in your life? Someone said – “The only thing we know about the future is that the providence of God will be up before dawn.” Jesus our hope is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

II. OUR NEED

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Background: Here Paul mentions 2 things that the God of hope will give us: Joy and Peace. What is Joy? Paul uses this word about 21 times. It represents a sense of happiness that is not depended on our circumstances. James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” It is connected to the word “Rejoice.” Jesus said in Matthew 5 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…” What about Peace? It is the calm assurance that everything will be all right in spite of our circumstances. Philippians 4   6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The point is this – Neither joy nor peace are contingent on our circumstances. Our God of hope sends us both because we need both to get to the desired end.

What’s the difference between Joy and Peace? Joy is active assurance and peace is passive assurance. Joy others can see and peace you can feel. Some people are all bubbly on the outside and all torn to pieces inside. Others are torn outside but inside they’re okay. We need both. Spurgeon said it best – “Peace is resting joy – joy is dancing peace! Joy cries hosanna before the Well-Beloved, but peace leans her head on His bosom.”

Here’s the good news. The God of Hope overflows us with joy and peace. The word “plerao” actually implies “filled to the brim” or “overflowing.”

Application: How is your joy level this morning? How is your peace level this morning? Christ brings us both joy and peace. In fact, He is joy and He is peace. John 15:11 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. Again, John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

III. OUR RESPONSIBILITY 

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…”

Background: “In believing” means that this is no passive, sit back, and hope will take its course kind of life. You have to believe. You have to trust. You have to place your faith in God and His promises. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Some people are willing to do everything but have faith and belief. This keeps the promises of God from being activated in their lives. Alexander Maclaren gave a great illustration to bring out the importance of faith – “You can take a porous pottery vessel, wrap it up in waxcloth, pitch it all over, and then drop it into mid-Atlantic, and not a drop will find its way in. And that is what we can do with ourselves, so that although in Him ‘we live and move and have our being,’ and are like the earthen vessel in the ocean, no drop of the blessed moisture will ever find its way into the heart.” For a Christian Galatians 2:20 says it clearly – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Application: How is your faith level this morning? Is it low? Pray like the father who came to Jesus for his son who was demon possessed. Mark 9   23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Listen to the father’s response in verse 24 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Are you willing to pray for faith?

IV. HOLY SPIRIT’S ABILITY

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Background: If we were to end the message with just “believing,” it would be the most frustrating and disappointing life. It will be you trying to row the boat to shore. But, this is where the third person of the Godhead comes in – the Holy Spirit. He is the bringer of hope. Jesus demonstrated this beautifully in His earthly life. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and for the next three years or so He demonstrated what life in the power of the Holy Spirit looed like, whether He was tempted, preached, did miracles, and faced the ultimate trial of going to the cross. It was not limited to just Jesus but the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost and they went from hopelessness to fearlessness. Jesus had promised them this in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Application: Are you looking to the Holy Spirit for help? He is waiting for you to ask Him.

The story is told of Jane Whyte, the wife of famous Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte. Her husband had died about 10 years ago. She was depressed. She had given up on life. One evening she was at a dinner party and next to her sat a gentleman who saw how depressed she looked. He asked her – “What is your greatest concern?” She replied – “I’m preparing to die.” To which he replied, “Why not prepare to live?”

Some of us need to open the lid of the coffins of life and in the power of the Holy Spirit trust the God of hope to bring joy and peace into your life and start living again for Jesus. Are you saved?

When God Meets Our Needs by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD MEETS OUR NEEDS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodmeetsourneedsIntroduction: We have reached the 5th message in this series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today’s message is titled “When God Meets Our Needs.”

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

Overall Background: We’ve come to the midpoint in the Lord’s Prayer and so far we have looked at the first 3 lines known as the “Thou Petitions” – “Hallowed be thy name,” “Thy kingdom come,” and Thy will be done.” Now we will look at the next 3 lines known as the “We Petitions” – “Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our debts,” and “Lead us not into temptations but deliver us from the evil one.” Before we can proceed, there is something very important that we need to understand. Scholars have argued for sometime over the reason for this shift from the “Thou” to the “We” Petitions:

  • Some have insisted that the shift tells us that prayer is not just about focusing on God’s Name, God’s Kingdom, and God’s Will but it is also an opportunity for us to bring our personal petitions to God for daily needs, forgiveness, and protection. It’s a reminder that God is not just some transcendent being who is unmoved by our daily struggles but He’s our Heavenly Father who genuinely cares about His children’s needs and deserves our daily gratitude.
  • Others have argued that the “We Petitions” are much more than what appears on the surface. They are not as much about our personal needs here and now as they are about our spiritual needs in the coming kingdom. So “Give us this day our daily bread,” is really about Jesus, the bread of life, satisfying us one day with eternal salvation, “Forgive us our debts,” is really about the final forgiveness at the last judgment, and “Lead us not into temptations” is really about the future preservation through the tribulation. Hence there is no real shift.

Question: Who is right? Are the “We Petitions” just about daily personal needs or are they also about future spiritual needs? They are both. This morning when we look at the first “We Petition” – “Give us this day our daily bread,” we find that, first, it is about our daily physical needs; but then, it is also about our daily and future spiritual needs.

Question: Do you believe that your Heavenly Father cares about your daily needs? Do you come to Him as a child and ask Him for your daily bread? Do you also believe that you need spiritual bread from your Heavenly Father? Are you daily feeding upon Jesus, the bread from heaven? Are you looking forward to the grand feast to come in heaven? Here’s another question – Are you Saved? Have you ever tasted the bread of life?

Today’s message has just 2 points: physical bread and spiritual bread —

 I. PHYSICAL BREAD

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Background: Why did Jesus mention bread instead of any other food item? Because bread was the basic ingredient of every meal, especially in the ancient Mediterranean diet. In fact, bread was a synonym for meal. It was a symbol of life. The importance of bread is sometimes hard in our culture to understand where we can jump into our vehicles, drive down to the nearest grocery store, and pick up a loaf of Sunbeam or Wonderbread for 99 cents. God forbid if we have a storm, then everyone wants a milk sandwich! In the time of Jesus, it was not that easy to get bread. For starters, wheat and barley were the grains used to make bread, wheat for the wealthy and barley for the poor. Wheat required at least 20-25 inches of rain. Both wheat and barley were of the hulled variety and had to be threshed, winnowed, and even pounded to separate the grains from the hulls. Then the grain had to grounded into flour using a rotary mill. (Growing up, I had to go to the mill once a month for my mom and grandmother.) But back in those days, it took at least an hour or two every morning. Ladies – this was your job! Then, it had to be kneaded with yeast and baked in a clay oven called a “tannur.” That took another hour or so. By the way, this is just the bread! You still had to prepare the rest of the meal.

The point is this – it was a lot of work to get to the point of having bread on the table. Nonetheless, the Jewish people had an acute sense of awareness that God was responsible for their food, especially their bread. He is the one who sent the rain. He is the one who protected their crops. He is the one who gave them a harvest. Hence, God deserved their utmost thanks. In fact, listen to the 9th blessing in the Tefillah – “Bless this year for us, O Lord our God, and all its varied produce that it be for our welfare; Provide dew and rain as a blessing on the face of the earth. Satisfy us with your goodness, and bless this year like other good years. Blessed, are you, Lord, who blesses the years.” As we’ve noticed in the past few messages, the Lord’s Prayer is in many ways similar to the Jewish Prayers from the time of Jesus. So when Jesus teaches His disciples to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread,” He is reminding them to give God all credit.

Application: How desperately we need the same spirit today. God is the source of our daily needs. He is the one who gives us the strength, the wisdom, the ability to live and enjoy life. Do you take a moment daily to thank Him for life? Or do you take all the credit for your success? All that you are and all that you have is by the grace of God.

But there’s something more – Unlike the Tefillah, the Lord’s Prayer is not concerned with just the year’s harvest. It is focused on each day’s bread. It may seem trivial but this is very important. Jesus is teaching His disciples that the prayer is not just for the end of the harvest but every single day they should depend on their Heavenly Father. Daily they should come to God as a little child looks to his/her parent for sustenance.

Application: Do you live every day looking to God for His hand of blessing in your life? Do you ask Him daily for what you need? Have you learned to be content with God has given you for today? I Timothy 6   6   Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. Philippians 4 11 “…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Can you say that?

II. SPIRITUAL BREAD 

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Background: At first glance it seems as if this petition is only about physical bread or daily needs but its not. The reason we know it’s more is very subtle. Many of you may not know but this simple petition is probably the most contested one in the entire Lord’s Prayer because Jesus used a Greek word in it that’s not found anywhere else in the Greek Bible or in all Greek literature. It’s the word “epiousias,” which some of our Bibles have translated as the adjective “daily.” For the past 1800 years church fathers and scholars have been arguing over the true translation and meaning of this word! In fact, the Greek church father Origen (2nd-3rd CE) suggested that Matthew and Luke must have invented this word. I don’t have the time to go into all the suggestions for what it means. The reason it is so complicated is because, more than likely, Jesus used the Aramaic phrase “debar yom beyomo” (Remember: Jesus spoke in Aramaic) to allude to Exodus 16:4 “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day…”

This petition was not just about the bread that comes out of the ground. It was also about the bread that came out of heaven. It was a reference to the Manna, which came to represent spiritual bread. Listen to Psalm 78   23 “…He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, 24 had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. 25 Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.” Jesus picked up on this in His preaching and teaching. Listen to John 6   32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…”

Now do you see that when Jesus said “Give us this day our daily bread,” it was not just physical bread but also spiritual bread? It was about Jesus being our bread of life. Daily we feed upon Him and His Word, the Bible. Human beings are more than physical beings, flesh and blood. They are also spiritual beings, spirit and soul. We need more than physical food. We also need spiritual food. Just like the physical bread gives us physical life, so also, the spiritual bread gives us spiritual life.

What was the response of the Jewish leaders? 41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Listen to Jesus’ response – 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The point is this – When we pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we’re not just asking God to meet our physical appetite but we’re also asking Him to meet our spiritual appetite in Jesus Christ.

The greatest need of people today is not physical bread but spiritual bread. Do you remember when Satan came to Jesus after He had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness and tempted Him, saying, Matthew 4   3 “…If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” Jesus is the bread of life. His body was broken for our sins. On the night before He was crucified, He celebrated the Last Passover with His disciples. Listen to what He said – Luke 22:19 “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” To this day, in Jewish homes, the father blesses the meal and then begin by breaking the bread and passing it. By the way, you don’t cut the bread because it represents life. Cutting it would be killing life. Isn’t that amazing that Jesus is the true fulfillment of the bread?!

Invitation: Are you going through some need in your life? Are you asking God to meet it? Are you feeding on the spiritual bread Jesus Christ? Is He your life? Are His Words in your heart

WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS

WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When All Seems HopelessIntroduction: Thank you so much to all of you are joining us via Facebook Live and Periscope! Thank you also to John, Elie, and the guys there for leading us in worship! I especially want to thank Kim Davis for giving me the idea to do this! And Donna Young as well! After the initial excitement, it was like – “Well, now I have to prepare a sermon!” This morning I want to preach a message I’ve never preached before. It’s on one of my favorite passages from the Bible from Romans 15:13 and the message is titled – “When All Seems Hopeless.” You can follow along on the screen behind me or go to my blog http://www.abidanshah.com and follow the entire message there.

Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Overall Background: The Book of Romans has been called the “Constitution of Christianity.” It’s pages have transformed the lives of men like Augustine, Luther, and Wesley and women like Elizabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint whose loved ones were killed by the Waodani. But the passage we just read is somewhat tucked away and hidden like a treasure chest, waiting to be discovered. Listen to it again – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Twice you come across the word “hope” in this verse.

Questions: Are you facing a hopeless situation in your life? Do these words sound familiar? – “I’ve given up…” “I just don’t think it’s going to work…” “There’s nothing else left…” Do you know the impact hopelessness makes on your personal health? According to a 1997 article published by the American Heart Association – those who have gone through extreme feelings of despair had a 20% greater increase of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) over a 4-year period. If hopelessness is your daily companion, then today’s message is for you. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will bring hope to your heart so that you can live again. But let me remind you – you cannot have the Holy Spirit until you accept Jesus as your Savior. Are you saved?

Let’s take this verse apart and examine each section. Then when we understand each part, we will put it back together and look at the whole.

I. GOD’S NATURE

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Background: Now we’ve heard of the God of the heavens and the earth, God of glory, God of grace, and God of our salvation. But here it is the “God of Hope.” It is one attribute of God that we don’t think about. God is the One who shows us life when there’s only death. He is the One who shows us the light at the end of the tunnel. But there’s more – He’s also the One who brings life when there’s only death and He is the One who turns on the Light at the end of the tunnel.

Think about Abraham and Sarah – almost 100 years old and she was 90 and still no child. But God had promised them that through them would come the One. He repeatedly came and encouraged them. In time God made hope a reality to Abraham and Sarah.

But let’s go even a step further – He is the Life and He is the Light. In other words, He not only sees the future and He not only brings out a good future but He is the good future.

Listen to 1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…” Titus 2:13 He is our “Blessed Hope.”

Application: What are you despairing about? Where do you need hope this morning? What impossible situation are you facing? Listen to what someone said – “The only thing we know about the future is that the providence of God will be up before dawn.”

II. OUR NEED

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Background: Here Paul mentions 2 things that the God of hope will give us: Joy and Peace. What is Joy? Paul uses this word about 21 some times. It is a sense of happiness that is not dependent on our circumstances. James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” It is connected to the word “Rejoice.” Matthew 5 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…” What about Peace? It is the calm assurance that everything will be alright. It is also independent of our circumstances. Philippians 4   6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

What’s the difference between Joy and Peace? Joy is active assurance and peace is passive assurance. Joy others can see and peace you can feel. Some people are all bubbly on the outside and inside they are torn to pieces. Others are torn outside but inside they’re okay. We need both. Spurgeon said it best – “Peace is resting joy – joy is dancing peace! Joy cries hosanna before the Well-Beloved, but peace leans her head on His bosom.”

Here’s the good news. The God of Hope fills us with joy and peace. The word “plerao” actually implies “filled to the brim” or “overflowing.”

Application: How is your joy level this morning? How is your peace level this morning? Christ brings us joy and peace. In fact, He is joy and He is peace.

III. OUR RESPONSIBILITY

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…”

Background: “in believing” means that this is no passive, sit back, and hope will take its course. You have to believe. You have to trust. You have to place your faith in God and His promises. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Alexander Maclaren gives a great illustration – “You can take a porous pottery vessel, wrap it up in waxcloth, pitch it all over, and then drop it into mid-Atlantic, and not a drop will find its way in. And that is what we can do with ourselves, so that although in Him ‘we live and move and have our being,’ and are like the earthen vessel in the ocean, no drop of the blessed moisture will ever find its way into the heart.” For a Christian Galatians 2:20 says it clearly – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Application: How is your faith level this morning? Is it low? Pray like the father who came to Jesus for his son who was demon possessed. Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Listen to the father’s response in verse 24 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

IV. HOLY SPIRIT’S ABILITY

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Background: If we were to end the message with just “believing,” it would be the most frustrating and disappointing life. It will be you trying to row the boat to shore. But, this is where the third person of the Godhead comes in – the Holy Spirit. He is the bringer of hope. Jesus demonstrated this beautifully in His earthly life. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and for the next three years He demonstrated what life in the power of the Holy Spirit looks like, whether He was tempted, preached, did miracles, and faced the ultimate trial of going to the cross. It was not limited to just Jesus but the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost and they went from hopelessness to fearlessness. Jesus had promised them this in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Application: Are you looking to the Holy Spirit for help? He is waiting for you to ask Him.

The story is told of Jane Whyte, the wife of famous Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte. Her husband had died about 10 years ago. She was depressed. She had given up on life. One evening she was at a dinner party and next to her sat a gentleman who saw how depressed she looked. He asked her – “What is your greatest concern?” She replied – “I’m preparing to die.” To which he replied, “Why not prepare to live?”

Some of us need to open the lid of the coffins of life and in the power of the Holy Spirit trust the God of hope to bring joy and peace into your life and start living again for Jesus. Are you saved?

The Blessing of Bringing Harmony

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THE BLESSING OF BRINGING HARMONY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

theblessingofbringingharmonyThis is our seventh beatitude in our series on the Sermon on the Mount called SALT AND LIGHT and today’s message is titled “THE BLESSING OF BRINGING HARMONY.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” When we place our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we become sons and daughters of God. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” The right to be a child of God is only awarded to those who receive Jesus as their Savior. But, according to this beatitude, there is a difference between being a child of God and being called a child of God. Listen again – “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” The title of son/daughter of God is only awarded to those who are peacemakers. Meaning: If you are a troublemaker, a rabble-rouser, an instigator, and an agitator, then you may have the position of being a child of God but you will not receive the title of being a child of God. You may claim that you are a Christian but God doesn’t boast about you nor do people acknowledge you.

For e.g. I remember this young man in our hometown – a rough character, a gangster. He was a friend of my brother. One day my brother told me that he actually came from a very prominent family and his father was actually a judge. I couldn’t believe it! He had the pedigree of a good family but his reputation was very different.

Application: This morning, you may be a child of God but the question is “do people call you a child of God?” Are you known as a son/daughter of God? There’s a big difference between position and reputation – between being a Christian and being known as a Christian. Better yet – Are you known as a peacemaker or as a troublemaker? Are you even saved? You cannot have God’s peace until you get saved.

As we walk through this message, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your position as well as your reputation as a Christian. Three questions again:

I. WHO IS A PEACEMAKER? 

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

Background: When Jesus gave that beatitude, there were all kinds of people in the crowd, just like the crowd in this place:

  1. There were troublemakers in the crowd, like the zealots. These were people who were constantly itching for a fight with the oppressive Romans. In fact one of Jesus’ own disciple was Simon the Zealot. There are some zealots here this morning. These are people who are constantly looking for conflict. They love turmoil and chaos. They enjoy seeing people at odds with each other. It’s normal for them. They love drama. Maybe they grew up that way in an environment of constant tension. I know someone like that, no one here. Every time I see this person, there’s always some drama that’s brewing and some fire raging.

Question: Is that you? Stop starting trouble and stop thinking that the whole world is like you. You need to ask God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were parasites in the crowd, like the tax collectors. These were people who had mastered the art of taking advantage of the situation. Just get all the taxes you can, avoid any confrontation, and let people kill each other. Some tax collectors are here this morning. They are only interested in exploiting the situation. They are not interested in bringing peace, just using the conflict for their personal benefit.

Question: Is that you? You take pleasure in watching people go after each other because it takes the attention off of you. You need to realize that you are part of the problem. You also need to ask God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were peacekeepers in the crowd, like the Roman soldiers. Their job was to maintain the Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). They knew how to weed out the bad element and enforce peace. There are some Roman soldiers here this morning. These are people who want peace at any prize. They will compromise the truth, avoid the facts, sweep things under the rug, and pretend that everything is just fine. “Let’s not talk about it.” Only problem is that one day it all comes out. By the way, I’m not referring to law enforcement but everyday peacekeepers.

Question: Is that you? God sees everything and you will have to answer for what you’ve done. You also need God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were false peacemakers in the crowd, like the Pharisees and the scribes. They found peace in controlling the masses. Their idea of peace was to get people to respect them and honor them. There are some Pharisees and scribes here this morning. They’ve got plenty of problems but delight to tell others how to solve theirs. One time someone I knew had unjustly attacked me and I had to distance myself from this person. What was funny was this other person who wanted to be the mediator – “You know I can see both sides.” This person couldn’t solve his own conflicts! I told this person to take a hike.

Question: Is that you? Then you need to stop trying to fix others and seek God’s forgiveness in your own life.

Mt. Sodom

Mt. Sodom (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Lot's Wife

Lot’s Wife (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

But Jesus presented a whole new category to all these people – peacemakers (Gk. eireinopoioi). Although this word construction is found only once in the New Testament, the concept of peacemaking is found all over the Bible. The earliest example we see is in Genesis 13:7 “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.” What was Abraham’s reaction? “Let’s not fight. Pick what you want and I’ll go the other way.” What did Lot do? 10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD… Lot picked the lush, green, and fertile land. As we just read, it was Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities known for their sexual immorality. We’ve been through there. What’s amazing to me is that when God came to destroy those cities, he mentioned his plan to Abraham. What did Abraham do? He could’ve said, “I told him so. He asked for it. I knew this would happen.” Instead he tried to bargain for Lot’s life and family! That’s a true peacemaker.

Peacemaker is someone who has more than just a peaceful disposition. You know people like that – they don’t meddle in anybody’s business; conflict tears their nerves; and they’re always thinking of their happy place. Peacemakers are much more. They recognize conflict and they do whatever they can to bring resolution. They’re not blind to the facts or compromise the truth or sweep things under the rug but they actively seek to promote peace. They are people who when they see that someone is at odds with them, they set aside their pride, step out of their comfort zones, reach out to the other person, and try to make things right. They are people who when they see two parties in conflict, they set aside their agenda, step out of their comfort zones, and try to bring reconciliation. They don’t do that to look important or to play the judge. They do that because it’s the right thing to do. These people know how to approach the two parties, sometimes with words but many times just with their presence. They pray more than they preach.

Application: Are you a peacemaker? When someone is at odds with you, how do you handle it? Do you find ways to avoid them? Do you try to show them how mad you are or how it does not bother you? Or, do you try to make things right? Are you known as a peacemaker between others? You cannot be a true peacemaker until you have God’s peace in your heart. You need to be saved before you can go save others.

II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SON/DAUGHTER OF GOD? 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”

Background: Keep in mind Jesus is the Son of God, son with a capital S. We worship one God but three persons – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is how God has chosen to reveal himself. Jesus is God’s Son in the past, present, and future. It is known as the eternal functional subordination of the Son. That’s the triune God we worship. But, God has many sons and daughters. They’re not eternal but they’re adopted. Listen to Romans 8 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” When we receive Christ as our Savior, we are adopted into the family of God, with all the rights and privileges. In time we also take on the family characteristics. We begin to look like God.

What is God like? We know that God is holy, loving, gracious, powerful, wise, unchanging, eternal, and on and on. But did you also know that He is a God of peace?

Isaiah 9:6 “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Romans 15:33 “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

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

2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way…”

I can go on and on but the point is simple – God is a god of peace and when we enter into His family, we become people of peace. You look just like God than when you forgive and reconcile.

Illustration: Nicole loves to talk about who the kids look like in our family.

Application: Whom do you look like? Jesus often identified some of his enemies as “sons of the evil one” and “sons of those who kill the prophets.” When you actively seek to promote peace, you look like God’s son and daughter. How do people describe you?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK? 

Background: Human beings are constantly in conflict. Every moment there are millions upon millions of conflicts taking place all over this world – conflict between a husband and a wife, conflict between siblings, conflicts between friends, conflict between neighbors, and, on a large-scale, conflict between nations. It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve for his disobedience. Later conflict spread to the children when Cain killed Abel. Where do conflicts come from? James gives us the reason in James 4 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Conflicts are the result of sin.

We can do anything about it so God took the first step of peace by sending Jesus as the peacemaker. Listen to – 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Once we receive this peace, we become God’s peace ambassadors. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

People constantly talk of peace. Most everybody wants world peace. Peace will not come into this world until Christians who know the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ take the gospel of peace every human being. Then and only then will we not only have peace with God but also peace with our fellow man. We fuss about how terrible things are in the world and in our nation. Here’s my question: where are the peacemakers?

Are you saved? Do you know the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ?

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