FUTURE AND HOPE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

FUTURE AND HOPE Article by Abidan Paul Shah

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

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

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

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

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

America Tomorrow by Pastor Abidan Shah

AMERICA TOMORROW by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

americatomorrowIntroduction: This morning I am preaching a special message in light of all that is transpiring in our nation and across the world. It’s called “AMERICA TOMORROW.” It is different than how I typically preach but it’s a message we desperately need to hear.

2 Chronicles 29   1 Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old…2 And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. 3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. 4 Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square, 30:1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel…10…but they laughed at them and mocked them. 11 Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.

Bridge: In recent days many of you have shared with me how troubled you are over the state of our nation and our world:

  • Islamic Terrorism continues, as we saw couple of days ago in Nice, France where innocent people were killed at a national celebration. Then last month, in our own country, a terrorist killed people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
  • In the age of Internet and social media, people everywhere are more divided today than they’ve ever been. Even in America we’re divided by our skin pigmentation where one group feels that they are negatively stereotyped and mistreated.
  • Then the recent anger against law enforcement and the senseless violence in Dallas, Texas where 5 police officers were murdered.
  • Morally and spiritually our nation and world seems to be on a downward spiral.
  • Governments, even our own, seem too week and unconcerned to handle these problems and some are even unstable, as we’re seeing in Turkey with the military coup.

Question: What’s the answer? What is God doing? Is this the end of the world? Is there any hope for the future of our country and this world? Today’s message will challenge and encourage you to turn to the only one who has given us the answer – God. He has given us the answer in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But before we can see that how this works for our nation and world, the question is “Do you know Him personally?” “Have you received Him as your Savior?”

There are 3 things we’re going to learn from the passage we read that will help us with the problems were facing nationally and globally:

I. LEADERSHIP MATTERS. 

29   1 Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old…2 And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.

Background: If you read that casually, you will miss a very important point. The writer of the Chronicles is telling us – “Hezekiah’s father was David.” But that’s not biologically accurate. David lived about 300 years before Hezekiah! It’s like if one of you claimed – “George Washington is my dad.” We would laugh because he lived almost 300 years ago! So who was Hezekiah’s father? Two verses earlier in 2 Chronicles 28:27 it tells us “So Ahaz rested (died) with his fathers…Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.” King Hezekiah’s father was King Ahaz. Did the Chronicler make a mistake? No. Hezekiah’s Father, Ahaz, was an ungodly and wicked king of Judah. He had made images of Baal, practiced child sacrifices and idolatry.

What did God do? He gave him and his kingdom into the hands of the Syrians but that didn’t change him. Then God gave his kingdom into the hands of Israel and that still didn’t change him. Instead of turning to God, Ahaz turned to the king of Assyria for help, gave him the vessels from the temple but he still didn’t help him. He even sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which made things worse. 24 So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers. This was Hezekiah’s real father Ahaz.

When the Chronicler says that Hezekiah “did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done,” he was saying – “Hezekiah chose to follow David as his father instead of his own immediate father.” He began by opening the doors of the temple, repairing the damage his father had done, calling the priests and the Levites to return, and telling them to sanctify the house of God. For the first time in many years, people came together to sacrifice and worship again to the living true God.

Leadership matters. I hear people say – “Politics don’t matter.” Part of the reason we are in the mess we are collectively, financially, defensively, and spiritually is because of leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. What if people don’t listen? Someone said – “You cannot lead the orchestra unless you turn your back to the crowd.”

Application: Do you care about politics? Do you care about the issues facing this nation? Do you speak out on critical issues? Do you care about who gets in the office? Do you pray for our nations leaders? Do you inspire our young people to strive to be future leaders?

II. UNITY MATTERS. 

30:1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel.

Background: Remember, Hezekiah was only the king of the Southern kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had been taken into exile and just a mix bag of people remained. Furthermore, the Northern Kingdom did not have a good relationship with the Southern Kingdom. If you remember, the Northern Kingdom had captured the Southern Kingdom under Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, and his people had been taken as servants to Samaria. So things had not been good between them. Nonetheless, Hezekiah knew that to rebuild the people of God, there had to be unity. Not only that, but he also sent letters to Ephraim and Manasseh. These were the descendants of Joseph from his Egyptian wife. The half tribe of Manasseh had refused to go into the Promised Land. In fact, Joshua had to plead with them to help the other tribes fight when they entered the Promised Land. It appears that they never truly felt part of the people of Israel. They even failed to drive out the Canaanites as God had told them. Nonetheless, Hezekiah reached out to them as well. There can’t be true unity unless there is a real attempt at unity.

It’s no secret that we as a nation are more divided today than we’ve ever been. The slogan on one side is “Black lives matter” and on the other side is “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.” In my opinion, all these slogans drive the wedge even further between us as a people. We need to first recognize that each side is saying something that the other side is not hearing. One side is saying – “How come mostly black men keep getting shot?” and the other side is saying, “Why are mostly black men committing crimes?” I don’t claim to have all the answers but my heart goes out to two groups:

  • First, to the law enforcement. Last year the Police Department sent me to attend a Post Critical Incident Seminar designed to help officers who were involved in some kind of shooting, either they had to shoot someone or someone shot at them or they witnessed a shooting or had to deal with the aftermath. I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. The facilitator asked each individual to share his or her experience. I was thinking – “This is cool stuff!” The same gruff and tough men and women began to share how they were struggling with those deaths and many broke down crying. None of them were wearing their story as a badge of honor. Each of them was deeply impacted by those shootings. Not only them but also their wives and children and friends were struggling with them. I’m not dismissing the bad apples but, as a whole, we need to be grateful to our law enforcement.
  • Second, to the black men, especially young men. Several years ago I was helping a young person from the black community who had made some bad decisions early in his life and had to spend some time behind bars. Now he was trying to find a job but because of his record he couldn’t. One day I was telling him to be patient and have a better attitude. He broke down crying. He said – “Do you know how hard it is to go through life without any direction? No male figure to get on to me and guide me. I’m angry at why this happened to me.” Then he said to me, “Even my very existence is a mistake.” He was born due to incestual rape. I’m not suggesting that all go through the same situation but I could finally see the despair and hopelessness in his life. Someone might say – “If they would pull up their pants, act nice, and appreciative, maybe we would try to help them.” Do you really think people in need will come to you in humility seeking your help? How did Ephraim and Manasseh respond to Hezekiah? 10 “…but they laughed at them and mocked them.” Think about how God reached out to us. Did a human coalition approach God in humility, acknowledging that we were hell bound sinners in need of a Savior? No. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Unity matters because there are elements in this country and outside who want to see our law enforcement weak and the discontented angry. Like Hezekiah we will have to reach out to all of our own.

Application: Do we appreciate our law enforcement? We are planning to provide a lunch and we will be taking a love offering for that purpose in the next two Sundays. Will you give? Have you prayed for the young people, especially those from the black community? Kindle is just one step in that direction but more has to come.

III. REPENTANCE MATTERS.

11 Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.

Now they did something very very important – 30 14 They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron. Then the priests, the Levites, and the people cleansed themselves. They repented. 18…Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone 19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.” 20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people. It was supposed to be a 7 day feast but it became a 14 day feast. 25 The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.

This is what America needs! Leadership Matters. Unity Matters. Repentance Matters. Without Jesus, nothing matters

Keeping Your Word

KEEPING YOUR WORD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

keepingyourword

As you know very well, we are again in our series on the Sermon on the Mount and our message is titled – KEEPING YOUR WORD.

Matthew 5   33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Overall Background: In the passage we just read Jesus is raising the bar on how we make and keep promises. Just like today, people back then made a lot of promises, which they never intended to keep. They had become experts on breaking promises. The Rabbis came up with a whole system that would allow people to get out of their oaths. Jesus told them to stop all this nonsense and let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’

People haven’t changed much since then. They still make excuses, look for loopholes, hunt for an escape clause, find some technicality, and do whatever they can to get out of a promise. Gone are the days when a man’s word and a handshake was all that you needed. Unfortunately, Christians are no better. When we break a promise, we even have some verse to go with it!

Question: What kind of a person are you? Do you keep your word to your spouse, children, neighbors, and church family? Are you a promise keeper or a promise breaker? Do you keep your word to God? What promises have you made to God that you still haven’t kept? I believe more promises are broken to God than to anybody else. Or do you hide behind the line – “I’m not going to promise anything?” Are you saved?

This morning we will try to understand the importance of keeping our word, not just to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church family, but also to God. 4 things we will try to understand here:

I. HUMAN TENDENCY IS TO BREAK OUR WORD. 

34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

Background: Some people have misunderstood Jesus’ statement, like the Anabaptists and Quakers. They thought that He was commanding us never to take an oath or make a vow. Not true. To understand what’s happening here, you have to go to the Mishnah, which is the Jewish oral tradition and especially to the Shevu’ot = the section on oaths. According to them, in the Jewish religion, God’s name was very sacred. It could not be used in making an oath. Only the high priest could take God’s divine name and only on the Day of Atonement, all other uses of divine name were blasphemous. If you took an oath with God’s name, it really didn’t count. Now, you could use substitutes known as kinnuyim with alphabets out of God’s name – Aleph-dalet for Adonai and Yod-He for Yahweh. All that would do was create some more technicalities to break a promise. But the people didn’t stop there. They also came up with a lot of innocuous substitutes for God – heaven, earth, Jerusalem, my head, just to name a few. According to these rabbinic interpretations, taking such oaths was not legally binding. So you could swear by all that and then break your vow legally. Jesus exposed their wicked schemes. He reminded them that all these technicalities are wrong because everything belongs to God – heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and my head or your head. In fact, He called all that from the evil one.

Isn’t it interesting that human beings haven’t changed much? We make promises because we like the immediate benefits but when its time to return our end of the bargain, we want to break the contract. Everyday all over the world, promises are made to be broken.

  • A Father promises to play ball with his son if he would only let him watch his game right now. Once the game is over, he is too tired to play ball.
  • One spouse promises the other to do something only if they would do something first for them. Once they get what they want, they conveniently find excuses to get out of keeping their end of the bargain.
  • Young man makes a promise to a young girl that if he would just come a little closer, he will love her forever. Once he gets what he wants, he says “Bye.”
  • Church members make about a million excuses when it comes to doing their ministry.

I can go on and on. Why do we do that? Because we are sinful, selfish, self-centered human beings. We do that even to God! Hosea 6   4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away. 7 “But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me.

Application: Are you an honest and forthright person or are you a deceitful and manipulative person? Do people trust you? Are you a person who is known for keeping a promise? Are you always looking for some technicality to get out from keeping your word? Have your broken your promise to God?

II. DIVINE TENDENCY IS TO KEEP HIS WORD. 

Background: The reason Jesus even brought up this matter is because being God Himself, breaking promises goes against everything in His nature. God is a covenant keeping God. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

  • In Genesis 9:11 He made a vow to Noah and his sons saying, “Thus I establish My covenant with you…never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” He kept His Word.
  • In Genesis 22 God made a vow to Abraham saying, 16 “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you…have not withheld your son, your only son – 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants…” The book of Hebrews comments on it in Hebrews 6:13 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”
  • Judges 2:1 Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.
  • In Ezekiel 33:11 God made a vow saying, “As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” Throughout history God has kept His Word.
  • Listen to Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4 “…O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments.”

I can go on and on but here’s the point: No matter who has broken their promise to you, you can rest assure that God will always keep His word to you. He will never fail you. He is faithful. Listen to Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Application: Do you trust God? Do you take Him at His Word? Are you living your life on God’s promises? Have you trusted Him with your eternity?

III. GOD EXPECTS US TO KEEP OUR WORD. 

37 But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’

Background: Jesus expects us to be promise keepers.

  1. To our spouses – As a pastor for 17 years, I’ve done a lot of weddings. All of them begin with this statement – Dearly Beloved: We are gathered together before the presence of God and these assembled witnesses to join together this man and this woman in the holy estate of matrimony.” Then we have the exchange of vows – “I promise to take you so and so to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, I promise to love and cherish you.” Then they exchange rings as the sign and seal of their promises. Then I end it with – By the authority vested in me as a minister of the gospel, in the presence of God and these assembled witnesses, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

What if we take out the name of God from the wedding ceremony? It doesn’t matter. God is a witness every time a man and a woman come together. It is His institution. He will hold you accountable for it.

  1. To our children – When you bring a child into this world, you are entering into a covenant with God to further His plan into this world. Human beings have done a great job in enjoying the pleasure of the moment but they have long forgotten the responsibility that comes with it. Our responsibility is to lead the child in God’s way.
  2. To our church family – As part of the family of God, I am obligated to keep my word to them. If I say, “I will be there,” then I should be there. If I say, “I will serve,” then I should serve. It is a shame when fellow church members cannot be counted upon! By the way, some people try the tactic – “I’m just not going to promise anything” – and this way I don’t have to break any promise. I am more impressed with the man/woman who serves faithfully than with one who claims to know the Bible or theology.
  3. To our neighbors – As a Christian, I am obligated to keep my promises to my neighbors, which includes people next door, people at work, and people in the community, and our nation. When people find out that you are a Christian, they should be doing all they can to hire you. They should know that you are a trustworthy person.
  4. To God – As I mentioned earlier, “more promises are broken to God than to anybody else.” Promises are made on sick beds, deathbeds, during financial struggle and relationship struggles. Sadly, once things get better, people forget God. Psalm 66 13 “I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, 14 Which my lips have uttered And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.”

Application: Are you a promise keeper to your spouse, children, church family, neighbor, and to God?

IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO KEEP OUR WORD.

Let’s recap – human tendency is to break promises, divine tendency is to keep promises, but God expects us to keep promises. What should we do? God understands our weakness. Hence, Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit. He is the encourager. His job is to do through us what we could never do by ourselves. His task is to make us faithful when we surrender to Him. Listen to Galatians 5   22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. This especially helps when the other person does not keep their end of the bargain.

Do you have the Holy Spirit? Are you saved?

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED – 2

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYEDIn light of the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, I want to preach a message that I’ve preached sometime back from Psalm 11 titled, “IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED.” We’re living in a time when morality and values are under heavy attack. We’re being told – “A new world is here, whether we like it or not. It has no place for people like us and it would be safer for us to either run with it or run away. There is no hope of going back.”

They are very similar to the opening words of Psalm 11In the Lord I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”

Overall Background: The psalm we just read is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. No one knows the exact setting of this psalm. Maybe David wrote it in his earlier life when he was dodging King Saul; maybe, he wrote it when he was battling against the Philistines; or maybe, he wrote it as he was fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom. No matter what prompted David to write this psalm, one thing is for sure – it begins with a call to retreat. Things are going downhill and there’s nothing you can do about it. Run away. They remind us a lot of what we’ve been hearing for the past few days:

  • America’s glory days are over.
  • We’re under God’s judgment.
  • We are living in the last days. Get ready for Jesus to come.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard these statements from some very well meaning people. They’re not the response that God expects of us. Before we try to understand how we are to respond and what’s the next step, let me ask you first – does it bother you where our nation is morally and spiritually today? If it doesn’t –

  • Could it be that you could care less for our nation? I know people like that – They love Jesus but America can crash and burn and they won’t care. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”
  • Could it be that you don’t know any different? Sadly, I come across people like that a lot in America. They’re very nice people but they are naïve people. They’re ignorant about issues and consequences. Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
  • Could it be that you’re moral and spiritual thermostat is broken? In other words, you have the same trash in your life that people have in the world. No wonder it’s hard for you to say anything. You have to begin by repenting of your own sins.
  • Could it be that your love for the lost has gotten cold? Here’s a question to you – when was the last time you witnessed to anybody?

As we walk through this Psalm, ask the Holy Spirit to give you biblical convictions and show you how to respond to what’s happening in our nation. 3 things we will see:

I. FAITH DECLARED

1 In the Lord I put my trust;


Background: David begins the psalm by declaring that his trust is not in people, things, armies, or chariots. His trust is in the living God. Repeatedly he talks about this –

  • Psalm 5:11a “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them.”
  • Psalm 32:10 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”
  • Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”

David was a man of deep, unshakable faith in God.

The only way that you and I can survive in this world is by trusting in the Living God. No matter what the Supreme Court says or any human institution decrees, “In the Lord I put my trust.” By the way, that is the official motto of our nation – “In God We Trust.” Even though this motto was not officially recognized until 1956, this statement defines us as a nation. We’ve been through so much as a nation. It’s only by the grace of God that we have been able to dust ourselves off and get back up.

Application: Are you trusting in the Lord right now? Show me a man/woman who is all frazzled and frustrated, and I will show you a man who is not trusting in God. Faith is the antidote to fear. This is not just with regards to our nation but also in our personal lives.

II. FOUNDATIONS DESTROYED

How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain?

Background: Keep in mind that these are not David’s words. Now he is quoting the counsel of his friends. “Flee as a bird to your mountain?” Birds are some of the most skittish of all creatures. You take one step towards them and immediately they fly away. David’s friends are counseling him to flutter away like a bird, not just to some tree but to a mountain. Go as far away as possible to some remote place and never return again. What else? 2 For look! The wicked bend their bow,
they make ready their arrow on the string,
that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. Meaning: If you try to come back, their arrows aimed at your heart. But they’re not done – 3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?” This is even worse. “David – Give up. The very foundations of the society are destroyed. There’s no hope.”

By the way, the very foundations of our nation are crumbling before our eyes –

  • In 1947, the Supreme Court sharply defined the separation of church and state.
  • In 1962-63, the Supreme Court decided to ban prayers in public school.
  • In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
  • Now in 2015, the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriages.

Do you believe that the foundations of our society are crumbling before our very eyes? In 1934 an Oxford anthropologist by the name of J.D. Unwin published a book called Sex and Culture in which he studied and analyzed the sexual behaviors of 86 cultures through 5,000 years of history. Unwin was not a Christian. He admitted: “I offer no opinion about rightness or wrongness.” But listen to what he concluded: “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence.” Meaning: When a society becomes promiscuous instead of a man and woman having sex only in the confines of marriage, it’s a matter of time before that society will shrivel and die. After studying the Romans, Greeks, Sumerians, Moors, Babylonians, Anglo-Saxons and many others, he wrote, “The evidence is that in the past, a class has risen to a position of political dominance because of its great energy, and that, at the period of its rising, its sexual regulations have always been strict. It has retained its energy and dominated the society so long as its sexual regulations have demanded both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence…I know of no exceptions to these rules.”

This issue about same sex marriage is not about marriage. It’s about neutralizing the fundamental identity of human beings as male and female. It’s about silencing those who will call it sin. It’s about stealing away the innocence of our children and exposing them to actions and behaviors of a promiscuous few. It’s about tearing down our society.

Application: Does the plight of our society bother you? Do you care about the lost around you? Are you praying for God to show you what must be done?

III. FOCUS DIVERTED

The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;


Background: All this time David is busy looking around him and he is getting discouraged. But now he chooses to look to the temple and he sees that God is still there! For Christians now we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God is still with us. Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Jesus promised – Matthew 28:20 “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

But then David looks up and he sees God’s throne is in heaven. Meaning: God is still in control and He is still the king of the universe and the final judge. While down on earth everything was in despair, up in heaven everything was in control! What else? His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men. God was not for a moment disheveled by the happenings on earth. As the famous preacher Robert G. Lee would say, “God is not a bewildered bellhop running up and down the corridors of the hotel He created trying to find His key!” In fact, He is seeing everything.

What are His purposes? For the Righteous – 5 The Lord tests the righteous,
 For the righteous, it was a time for testing. God is testing our great nation. He is testing to see if we are still one nation under God; He is testing to see if we will recognize that He is the source of our strength; He is testing to see if we will turn towards Him. Our financial/moral/spiritual crisis is not what God is doing to America as much as what God is doing for America.

For the wicked – But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. For the wicked, it was a time for judgment. God is getting ready to pour His wrath on the wicked. He will not allow even a single, small transgression to go unnoticed. Romans 1 is very clear that homosexuality is a sin. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

Back to Psalm 11 6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals;
Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright.

What’s the message for the people of God in America?

  • Don’t lose hope. Trust God. He is perfectly in control.
  • Examine our hearts and see if there is any wickedness in us.
  • Rebuild our families and marriages according to biblical standards.
  • Step out of our hiding place and be the salt and light in our community. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16 13“You are the salt of the earth… 14“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
  • Share the gospel with the lost world around us because judgment is coming.

And God will win – “From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.”

Are you discouraged? Are you looking up? Do you trust God? Are you saved? Are you sharing the gospel?

Winning With God and Men

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WINNING WITH GOD AND MEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

winningwithGodandmenThis morning I’m preaching a special message from Proverbs titled: WINNING WITH GOD AND MEN. We will actually read 4 verses from 4 different books of the Bible. Hopefully you can identify the common elements.

Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.

1 Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.”

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Overall Background: All of us want to win. We especially want to see our children and grandchildren win. Won’t that be something if we could teach them how to win with both God and men (people)! Won’t that be something if both God and men looked at them with favor, with a smile of approval. Won’t that be something if both God and men took pride in them! Won’t it be awesome if they could win in this life and the one to come! Won’t that be something if they could have the blessings of God and men!

People have all kinds of false ideas on what it takes to win before God and men. Some people think it is education. That’s important but that’s not it. Some people think that it’s talent or hard work or some other quality. All those things are important but they do not ultimately help us to win with God and men – Sometimes they do just the opposite!

The answer to how we can win with God and men is given in plain sight in the Book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs was written by the wisest man who ever lived. Some people mistakenly think that Solomon wrote some of these proverbs and put the others together to teach us how to be wise like him. Not true. That may have been his second purpose but initially he wrote the first part of the book as series of letters (10 to be exact) to his son Rehoboam, teaching him how to live a successful life. In his 3rd letter, Solomon is trying to warn his son that the path to wisdom is not easy. There are several stumbling blocks on the way. Here he clarifies how he can win with God and men.

Application: All of us need to hear this message. As it stands our young people are losing terribly. I was doing a funeral in New Jersey yesterday and as I was getting ready to leave, I saw this young man (mid 30s) and the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart to talk to him and so I did. When I guided the discussion towards spiritual matters, all he could say is that he is not into the god thing. If there ends up being a reality, he may just call it God. How sad! That young man is losing with God and men. By the way, the principle is the same if we want our work and business to be successful and if we want our church to be successful.

3 things we will see in this message:

 I. TWO ESSENTIALS

Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.

Background: Mercy = “Hesed” and does not have a real equivalent in English. It could be translated “kindness” or “help to the needy.” The best you can describe it is that someone is in great need and they cannot get out with your help. You help the person not because you will get any kind of gain out of it but only out of your own heart.

Truth = “Emet” and again it is a tricky one to explain. It can refer to “faithfulness” or “being trustworthy” or “living by truth.” It’s a life lived by the truth or the Word of God – the Bible.

We can spend a long time looking at these individually but that won’t help us much. We need to understand what happens when they are brought together. Many times in the Old Testament they are brought together:

  • It’s an old time tested principle passed down from father to sons. Genesis 47:29 When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt,
  • It describes the nature of God. When Moses saw God, this is what he said – Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
  • After Rahab the Canaanite woman helped the 2 spies in Jericho, listen to what they said in Joshua 2:14 “…And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”
  • In 2 Samuel 2 we read that Saul and his 3 sons (Jonathan included) were killed by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. Then they hung their bodies on the walls of Beth Shan. Some of the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead travelled all night and got their bodies and gave them a proper funeral. We went to this site in January. When David learned the good they had done he said 6 And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing.
  • David used those two words several times to describe the ways of God – Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
  • Again Psalm 61 6 You will prolong the king’s life, His years as many generations. 7 He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
  • Again Psalm 86:15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
  • Now in Proverbs again – Proverbs 14:22 Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.
  • Again Proverbs 16:6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity;
  • Again in Proverbs 20:28 Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.
  • I can go on.

For some reason mercy and truth are mentioned side by side more times than we realize! What does Solomon say in Proverbs 3:3 onwards? “Bind them around your neck” = make them a necklace. “Write them on the tablet of your heart”= make it your identity. When God and people see you they should see these two qualities.

What is the result? 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Application: What kind of a reputation do you have? What are you teaching your children to be like? Are they full of mercy and truth?

II. TWO EXAMPLES

Twice in the Bible this is mentioned – one in the Old and one in the New.

In the Old Testament – 1 Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.”

Background: This was a rough time in the history of Israel. The priest Eli had turned a blind eye towards his sons Hophni and Phinehas who were stealing from the sacrifices and bullying the people and raping the women who were coming to the tabernacle of God. The enemies were getting stronger. There was no unity in the land. A woman named Hannah prayed for a child and promised to give him back to God. This was Samuel. He travelled the length and breadth of Israel uniting God’s people. He preached to them and admonished them. He helped lead the transition from the order of the judges to the order of the kings. He was the one who found King David. Samuel was full of mercy and truth. Remember, he had to deal with Saul!

We are living in tough times. God is looking for men and women and boys and girls who would be full of mercy and truth.

In the New Testament – Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Background: He challenged the Pharisees and the scribes of trying to act spiritual. Listen to Matthew 23 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments….14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves…23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

I can give many examples where He demonstrated it perfectly but the best one where mercy and truth came together is in the Woman caught in adultery in John 7 and 8. He said to her in verse 11 “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

What the world needs desperately is not just Mercy or Truth but both.

Application: Are you a person who has both? Are you teaching your children to have both.

III. THEY ARE A GIFT TO BE RECEIVED

Galatians 5 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

As you surrender your life to the Holy Spirit, He conforms your life more and more to the person of Jesus Christ. That’s how your bear the fruit of the Spirit.

The similar phrase is heard again in the book of Acts. Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

For e.g. When I think of someone who is selfish and untrustworthy, I think of Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He is heartless, cold, apathetic, and downright evil man.

Do you want your children to have favor with God and people? They need mercy and truth. In other words, they need kindness and faithfulness.

We want our children to be loved and appreciated by people. We like to hear that they are being admired and adored. Unfortunately, some of our ideas actually cause them to be resented. We think favor comes when they are best at everything or win a lot of trophies or be in every activity. Instead what they need are eyes, mouth, hands, feet, heart, and mind full of mercy and truth. The place to begin is by bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus?

Where are the Vikings? (Men in Church)

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WHERE ARE THE VIKINGS? (MEN AT CHURCH) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

wherearethevikings

As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all 4 gospels and this morning our message has a title that has raised some eyebrows – “WHERE ARE THE VIKINGS?” “WHERE ARE THE MEN IN CHURCH?” One compliment I often hear from new people who come to Clearview is how did you get all these men to come to church? My answer is #1 I didn’t God brought them; #2 it was not by accident. It was by intention.

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Overall Background: When Jesus began his ministry, his first action was to call certain people to be his disciples. He knew that his time was short and it was imperative that His message would be passed along when He was gone. He wanted to pour His life, truth, power, and vision into these disciples. That is very understandable. But what is interesting is that every one of these disciples was a man! Did you notice that? Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathaniel, Matthew, and so on. Why did Jesus do that? Was it because Jesus was just a product of His time? Was He just some patriarchal rabbi who looked down upon women? Was he some narrow-minded, male chauvinist member of the “he-man woman haters club?” Absolutely not.

This morning, we’re going to look at the reason why He called men to be His disciples. Ladies – you need to hear this message because without your wholehearted support, we cannot reach men. Men – you need to hear this message because it’s high time that you wake up. Every church in America needs to hear this message. What’s happening in our churches, community, nation, and the world is because the right men are absent (AWOL) Bottom line: We need men who know Jesus as their Savior to step to the plate.

Three questions we will answer in this message:

I. WHAT DID JESUS THINK OF WOMEN?

Did he look down on them? Absolutely not! We know that Jesus healed women.

  • Last week we saw how He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.Jesus healed women
  • In Luke 7 He came across a widow whose only son had died and verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her” and he healed her son.
  • In Mark 5 a certain woman had a flow of blood for 12 years. She was just trying to touch the hem of his garment. He not only identified her but healed her and called her “Daughter.”

We also know that Jesus spent extended time talking to women.

  • The woman caught in adultery
  • The Samaritan woman at the well
  • Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus

We also know that Jesus used women as part of His illustrations.

  • James C. Christensen - The widow's miteWoman who lost her coin
  • Ten bridesmaids who were waiting for the bridegroom
  • Poor Widow who brought just a mite to the offering.

Did you also know that many women followed Jesus along with his disciples? Luke 8 tells us that not only were the twelve men with Him but also 2 certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. In fact, they were the first ones to whom He came after His resurrection.

In a time when women were considered to be just second class citizens, Jesus treated them with respect and honor. In a time when the only woman that had some freedom was the mistress, Jesus reached out to them with no ulterior motive. No wonder a woman came, fell on his feet, broke a bottle of perfume, washed his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair. Which one of you women would do that for any man? Unless, you knew that man loved you and came to lift you and seat you on the throne of glory. Someone might say – “Jesus was okay with women but not Paul.” Listen to Galatians 3 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Application: Girls and ladies – do you know how precious you are to God? Any boy or man who mistreats a girl or woman does not understand Jesus Christ or His Gospel.

II. WHY DID JESUS CALL ONLY MEN TO BE HIS DISCIPLES? 

It was not because he was being sensitive to the Jewish culture. Jesus repeatedly broke the Sabbath laws, ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, refused to wash his hands before meals, and repeatedly chastised the keepers of the customs – the Pharisees.

It was not because women were not supposed to be leaders. We know of Deborah in the Old Testament who was a judge. Before Herod the great became king, Queen Alexandra ruled Israel for three decades. In fact, even today women make fine leaders and presidents! Case in point: The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

It was not because women could not handle spiritual matters. Think about Mary sitting by the feet of Jesus listening and learning. When Mary & MarthaMartha complained in Luke 10 Jesus said, 41 “…“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

So why did Jesus call only men to be His disciples? It was a matter of correct representation. A disciple is a representative. A disciple’s job is to communicate not just what the master says but who the master is, his entire being. He wanted them to represent Him when He was gone. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. Son implies maleness. Hence the disciples had to be male to truly represent Him. But it goes even further. This Son of God has a Father. John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Did you notice all the gender specific nouns and pronouns?

Why has God chosen to reveal himself as our “Heavenly Father” not our heavenly mother? In our gender-neutral world, that is hard for some people to follow. A father symbolizes authority and leadership. He is the initiator, provider, and protector. Does God not have any female attributes? Yes – He is nurturing and caregiving but He is not the receiver (if you know what I’m talking about) or gives birth. He created us.

Jesus & His DisciplesWhat does that have to do male disciples? The disciples were to be an image of God the Son who was the image of God the Father. That’s why in the Old Testament the priest were always men. Later, Paul explained it more in I Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. That’s why in our church the pastors and the servant leaders are men. This does not mean that I can save you or forgive your sins. I am called to be the under shepherd. I work for the Good Shepherd. Who is He? Jesus said in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Most of the time I am a very representation but that’s what I’m called to be. One day I’ll have to give an account to the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).

What do you think of women pastors? It’s biblically wrong. What if they can preach? I think some of them can preach better than some of our men preachers but it still doesn’t make it right. How did it happen? Men – it’s because you failed to step up to the plate that they had to step up and do your job. Again, this does not apply to outside the church because it has nothing to do with God’s representation as the Son and the Father.

III. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH VIKINGS?

Growing up I loved to read about Vikings and Cowboys. They represented manliness to me. Now, I’m done talking about beating up and shooting up people that are weaker than you. Any coward can do that. But, Vikings represented the adventure spirit, the taking the risk spirit, and the sailing into unchartered waters spirit. It was a no fear spirit. When people heard their name, they were afraid.

The disciples were afraid until the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of Pentecost and the same bumbling and blundering disciples became bold representatives of Jesus Christ. The Book of Acts tells us – Peter stood up boldly on the day of Pentecost and preached the message and three thousand got saved! Acts 2 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles…47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Then we hear about Stephen who was not afraid even when ungodly men rushed him and through his death Paul got saved and the church grew exponentially.

The point is – when men representing Christ lead the church, it grows by leaps and bounds. The church in America is on life support. If anything it’s barely crawling. Is it the fault of the women? No. They’ve had to reluctantly step up and take the job that was meant for men – to be the spiritual leaders of the church, to be the spiritual leaders of their homes, and to be the representation (the disciple) of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the church has taken on the attributes of women, which is nurturing and caregiving. It has stopped conquering the world for Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong. We need women in church. What will happen if we don’t have women to give the care and grace and love we need. But without men stepping out, taking risks, and being bold, there won’t be anyone left in the church to give care and grace and love to. Sadly men have become whiners and complainers. They walk around with a loser’s limp. Then we talk about being old. Clearview is young people’s church! Even the aged are young.

Is Clearview doing everything right? Probably not but we are trying to go back to biblical Christianity and capture our world for Jesus Christ. We’re trying to create an atmosphere were men (lost men) don’t feel the church is just for women and children. It is reflected in the way we do service, in the way I preach, and in the way we sing. We tried to weed out praise songs that are geared towards women only. Sometimes it can be hard. We tried to introduce new stuff. Women are more open to change than men. We even tried to bring in old hymns. Someone will say – “That’s right. I love those manly hymns.” Here’s a problem – you got tired of them and stop singing them. Men – when you get familiar with something, you lose interest in it. It becomes tradition. Now we do it cause “by golly that’s what we’re going to do.”

Invitation: Where are the Vikings? Are you saved? Are you leading your home and your church? Women – are you letting your men lead? Trust me, they won’t lord over you but wash your feet.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK

SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Sacrifice The Missing Link

This morning we are in the gospel of Matthew chapter 1 for our series on the life of Christ from all four Gospels. Today’s message is titled “SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK.” If there is one thing lacking in our culture today, it is sacrifice. We do what is expected of us and maybe a tad bit more but that’s it. Sadly, this is also true of many Christians. In today’s message we will see from the life of Joseph what true sacrifice looks like.

Matt. 1   18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Overall Background: The passage we just read has been rejected and ridiculed by some people. They ask – “How can a virgin give birth? It is physically impossible. Miracles don’t happen.” Richard Dawkins, a self-proclaimed atheist, said, “The Virgin birth, the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children.” In other words, miracles like the virgin birth are for the naïve and uninformed. A German NT scholar Gerd Lüdemann, who does not believe in miracles, put it in a witty and terse statement: “The tomb was full and the manger empty.”

How do you convince people like them that miracles are possible? The place to begin is by asking, “Do you believe in God?” If you can believe that there is a God who created nature, then you can also believe that nature is subjected to Him. Miracles are simply nature being subjected to its Creator. He can do whatever He wants to. Not only did God perform the miracle of the virgin birth but He is still in the miracle working business. Do you believe that? He is still healing the sick, answering prayers, making the impossible possible, and the greatest miracle of all – changing a sinner’s heart.

According to the Pew Research in 2013, 73% of Americans believe in the Virgin Birth.

But there is another issue in this passage that often gets overlooked – it is sacrifice. In this passage we come across Joseph – an unsuspecting spectator who became part of the greatest drama in history. Like Mary, he too had to sacrifice his reputation, comfort, and goals in life for the coming of Jesus. Sadly, we’re living in a time when people cut corners, do the minimum, play it safe, and bailout early. More sadly, it is even among Christians.

Application: Would you describe yourself as a selfish or as a sacrificial person? Even better, would others describe you? How will people describe you when you’re gone? “He always got his way.” “She always got what she wanted.” If someone compels you to go a mile, do you go two? If someone tried to take away your tunic, do you also let them have your cloak? Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ? Are you willing to lay down your life so that someone else may find Jesus Christ? By the way, have you truly understood the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross? Until you do, your standards of sacrifice will be too low.

This morning as we look at the example of Joseph, let the Holy Spirit challenge you to sacrifice your life for others. If you do not know Jesus Christ, receive His sacrifice for your sins today.

1. HE SHOWED MERCY WHEN HE DIDN’T HAVE TO.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Background: Mary was pregnant and Joseph her fiancé was not the father. This was not good. The penalty for adultery according to the Old Testament was death by stoning but the Romans had abolished all Jewish capital punishments. The worst they could do was divorce, public humiliation, and shunning. Mary would probably never marry again. She could live in the community but as a pariah. Also keep in mind that she was Nazareth, a tiny community of 150-200 people at the time, mostly of priestly lineage, the holier than thou. Do you remember Nathaniel’s remark to Philip – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Even Jesus felt their hate when He came to teach in their synagogue. In Matthew 13 they said, 55 “Is this not the carpenter’s son? (They did not even deem it worthy to use Joseph’s name.) Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Mark 6:6 even adds, “And He (Jesus) marveled because of their unbelief.” Even God was shocked at their hateful and unbelieving spirit.

So you can only imagine what Mary was up against in Nazareth. They would have looked down on her, shunned her, called her names, and Joseph - a just mandone every evil behavior imaginable to her. Joseph could give her a public divorce and cleared his name but he decided to put her away quietly. I can imagine his family and his friends telling him, “Joseph, she isn’t worth it. Why are you staking your reputation over her? People will think – you did it. Make it public. Let her suffer. Let her be an example.”

Application: If you were Joseph, what would you have done? Would you have listened to the crowd? Would you have publicly humiliated Mary? Or, would you have compassion on her? It is natural to look down on others and judge them. The first step to a life of sacrifice is to do what doesn’t come naturally. That’s what God did for us.

2. HE BELIEVED WHEN IT WAS HARD TO.

20 “But while he thought about these things…” What is Joseph thinking? I know I can leave this girl and move on with my life. No one is going to blame me but what will this do to her? How does God want me to handle this? Will He be pleased by my decision?

Application: Do you think about what God wants you to do? Do you think about the decisions you make? Do you think about how your decisions impact the lives of others?

NativityAs he was thinking – 20 “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Now, let me clarify – by Virgin birth, we’re not talking about the Immaculate Conception or the Perpetual Virginity or the Assumption:

  • Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb as a sinless being. This idea was an invention of the medieval church and even the Catholic Church did not recognize it until 1854, when Pope Pius IX declared it. It is not a biblical doctrine.
  • Perpetual Virginity or “aieparthenos” teaches that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus for the rest of her life. This idea has been held by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since the seventh century. It is not a biblical doctrine either.
  • Assumption of Mary teaches that Mary was taken up into heaven before she died. It is also not a biblical doctrine. Neither is the Dormition of Mary that teaches that Mary died and after three days she rose again.

By Virgin birth, we are referring to the virginal conception. It simply means that Mary became pregnant with the baby Jesus without any relationship with any man. It was a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Why did Jesus have to be born of a virgin? To prove that He was sinless, to prove that He was both fully God and fully man, to prove that He came through the Holy Spirit, to be a sign as prophesied by Isaiah. Someone asked me – “Do you have to understand the virgin birth to be saved?” No – the thief didn’t know it. But if someone were to explain it to you as a Christian, you better believe it.

What was Joseph’s reaction? 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, Joseph could have dismissed the dream and gone about his life but he submitted himself to God’s plan. Many times we cannot understand God’s plan. We want to take the easy way out but there’s so much peace in trusting God’s plan. It is a sacrifice that is worth it.

Illustration: Dad refusing to go to the big church in order to take the small church in an obscure part of the country. Why? Because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Application: How would you have responded to that vision? Would have taken God at His Word? Would you have taken the narrow road? There’s so much joy in saying – “not my will but Your’s be done.” The buck stops with the Word of God.

3. HE STAYED WHEN HE COULD HAVE BAILED OUT.

25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Background: We read that verse so quickly without thinking of it. The angel had commanded Joseph in verse 21 And she will bring forth aJoseph naming baby Son, and you (Joseph) shall call His name JESUS (Yahweh is salvation)…” Joseph could have hung out until Mary had the baby and then slipped out. It’s too much. It’s not what I signed up for. He had to stick around and give this baby who was not His own, the birthright of being the first-born.

People like to say – “I’m just not going to promise anything. That way, if I don’t show up, you can’t blame me for it.”

Application: Do you sacrifice for your family, church family, lost, and others?

We can never sacrifice too much. Jesus did that!

Do you know Him? Have you received His sacrifice for your sins?

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: DESIRABLE

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: DESIRABLE by Abidan Paul Shah (Clearview Church)

(This article was first featured in the newspaper The Daily Dispatch on Saturday, August 30, 2014)

Each year their number keeps growing – 4 million in 1950, 20 million in 1982, and over 100 million today. They represent about 48 percent of the adult population 18 years and older in America. If they were a country, they would be the 13th largest in the world! Who are they? They are the Singles – the never-married, the divorced, and the widowed in America.

Before you pull out a box of tissues and feel sorry for them, let me caution you that pity is the last thing they crave. Some find much satisfaction with their status in life and the others deserve our encouragement and support. Here are some suggestions:

  1. To people in general: Singles don’t like to hear – “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” “You’ll find someone when you least expect it.” “When you’re ready, God will bring the right person to you.” “But you are so pretty.” “Stop dating and just be patient.” Such statements are not only demeaning but also unrealistic. Even some Christian books and sermons on dating are filled with clichés that are anything but biblical. Never give advice that even you didn’t follow! Love can be complicated with many twists and turns along the way. Single people just need our encouragement and prayers more than anything else. I had given up on dating when a family member encouraged me to list all the qualities I was looking for in a wife and give it to God. Three months later I met Nicole and she was all that and much more! The next time you come across a single person, try saying – “You are so gifted in _______.” “I always love______ about you.” “I am praying for you.” They will appreciate that much more.
  1. To parents: Home is the training ground for life where a boy learns how the husband is to love his wife unselfishly and a girl learns how the wife is to respect her husband unconditionally. Many singles are afraid of commitment because of the constant bickering and bitterness they observed growing up. Let your children see you loving and forgiving one another. It will do much more for them than buying expensive toys and shuttling them to every ball game. If your marriage ended in a divorce, remind them that it was not their fault. Don’t blame the other person but admit your failures and encourage them not to make the same mistakes. This will give them hope for their future.
  1. To single guys: It’s annoying how romance novels and chick flicks have created an unrealistic ideal of the perfect guy. Ironically, there was only one perfect guy and He never married! There’s nothing wrong with working out and polishing your truck but make it a priority to seek God’s purpose for your life; understand what He wants you to do; and start reaching for that goal. This will bring a serene confidence in your personality, which is very attractive to a woman. After all, God designed the man to lead. (Ephesians 5:22-23) Here’s a warning: When you mistreat a woman, you mock the pièce de résistance, the crown of God’s creation, and you will have to deal with Him for that. Also, what goes around comes around. As someone remarked – “Boys laugh at what they put girls through, but they won’t be laughing
when they’re wiping tears off their daughter’s face for the same reason.”
  1. To single ladies: I can only imagine the frustration you face in having to compete with airbrushed divas and photoshopped models. You should feel loved and appreciated just the way you are. Unfortunately, in this fallen world, there will be rejections and broken hearts. But please don’t lower your standards and settle for whoever comes along. There are many good guys out there who still believe that a woman deserves to be treated as a princess. Let God guide your heart to the right one for you. Nothing wrong with focusing on your outer beauty but don’t neglect to work on your inner beauty, which is far more lasting. (Proverbs 31:30) Here’s a warning to you as well: Rejection hurts a guy just as well as a girl. Don’t lead them on if your intentions are not pure. Be kind and God will honor you for that.
  1. To those wondering why I’m writing this: Our nation is only as strong as the family. With the traditional family under attack and the devaluing of marriage in our society, we have to make it our priority to encourage the singles in America to believe in marriage once again. Our survival depends on them.

A Note to Facebook: Let’s change “Single” to “Desirable.”

PRAYER IN THE HOME

PRAYER IN THE HOME by Pastor Shah, Clearview Henderson

Prayer in Homes

This morning, in honor of Mother’s Day, I am preaching a simple message titled – “PRAYER IN THE HOME.” There is no such thing as a perfect home – a place where no one does wrong and there are no problems. Every home has its problems and failures. But there is such a thing as a praying home – a place where people believe in the power of prayer and they actually pray. If there’s one thing I remember about our home growing up is that it was a praying home not a perfect home.

1 Samuel 1:1-2, 7, 9-11 1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children…10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

Overall Background: The passage we just read is about a family that was far from perfect. The head of the household was a man by the name of Elkanah. He was a Levite. He belonged to the tribe that had been designated by God to assist the priests in the Tabernacle at Shiloh and later at the temple in Jerusalem. At first glance Elkanah seems to be a godly man. Listen to verse 3 This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. But there’s a problem. Listen to verse 2, And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Even though the Law did not prohibit bigamy, it was understood that you should have only one wife. Why did Elkanah do that? Listen to the rest of verse 2, Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children…The Bible does not give us the reason. Maybe Hannah was his first wife and because she could not have children, Elkanah decided to marry again.

How did all this affect Hannah? Listen to verse 6 And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb. Can you imagine how miserable that home was? Listen to verse 7 So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat…. There was constant taunting and bickering and fighting.

How did Elkanah handle all this? 8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” My response: “Seriously?!! You have another woman in the house and she is taunting your wife. It’s a mess. Obviously, you don’t get it?” Here’s an important principle: “You can get so far away from the things of God that common sense becomes uncommon.” You are so unfamiliar with the ways of God that wrong is right and right is wrong.

All Hannah could do was turn to God in prayer and I was to learn from her prayer this morning.

I. SHE PRAYED FROM THE HEART.

9 So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Everyone was eating except Hannah PrayingHannah. Keep in mind Elkanah had asked her “Why do you not eat?” This means she was fasting. Let me remind you again that there is great value in fasting. Fasting is not about trying to lose weight. It is about telling God that you are serious about a need in your life – serious enough to set aside food and dedicate that time to God in prayer.

10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.This was no rote prayer or ritualistic prayer. This was coming from the heart. If you have trouble praying, remember – “Three words said from a believing heart are worth more than ten thousand said from an unbelieving head.”

II. SHE PRAYED VERY SPECIFICALLY.

Listen to verse 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child…” She prayed to a definite God She addresses Him as the “Lord of hosts” = God of the angelic armies. She prayed for a definite purpose. Many of our prayers fail because there is no clear goal behind them. We assume that God knows what’s best and He will just give it to us. I prayed for Nicole and I got her. Someone might say – “What if I don’t get the answer?” Maybe, God wants to either prepare you to receive the answer or He wants to refine your prayer.

III. SHE PRAYED SACRIFICIALLY.

Listen again to verse 11 –If You “will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” She makes it clear that she is not asking for a child to make her happy or to make Elkanah proud of her or to have someone who will take care of her in her old age. She wants to dedicate this child to the work of the Lord. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” But, there’s more here. She wants to dedicate this child “all the days of his life.” Keep in mind; the Levites were consecrated to the service of the Tabernacle between the ages of thirty and fifty. That’s not enough for Hannah. She vows that, “no razor shall come upon his head.” When was the last time you prayed a sacrificial prayer?

IV. SHE PRAYED PERSEVERINGLY.

Listen to verse 12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 No w Hannah spoke in her heart; (In the east when people prayed, they spoke out their prayer. To pray in your heart means she was spiritually mature.) only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” When you pray, there will be people in your life who will not understand your burden. They will not be able to sympathize with you. They will accuse you of being a hypocrite and do everything they can to discourage you. Keep persevering in prayer. Listen to verse 15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16 Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” I challenge and encourage you today not to give up in prayer.

V. SHE PRAYED BELIEVINGLY.

Listen to verse 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” 18 And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and herface was no longer sad. Many people pray but they do not believe that God will answer their prayers. In other words, faith is missing. Listen to Jesus in Mark 11 22   So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.1. She prayed from the heart. 2. She prayed very specifically. 3. She prayed sacrificially. 4. She prayed perseveringly.

Application: How is your prayer life? Are their needs and desires in your life? Have you put them through this outline before?

WHAT WAS THE RESULT OF HANNAH’S PRAYER?

#1. Her prayer was answered.

20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.” In Hebrew “sama” means “heard and “el” is “Elohim” – the name for God.

#2. She kept her word to the Lord.

Samuel Dedicated by Hannah at the Temple by Frank W.W. TophamTrue to her word, 1Sam. 1 24 Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.

#3. God used the little boy in a powerful way.

The Nation of Israel was in disrepair. The old order of the judges (Samson, Gideon, and Deborah) was dying out. From every direction the enemy nations were getting stronger. The only leaders over them were the priests but they could not do much. Plus, they were corrupt. They needed a king. Guess whom God used to set up the new order? Samuel.

–       This is the Samuel who went up and down the length and breadth of Israel to unite the people.

–       This is the Samuel who anointed Saul as the first king.

–       This is the Samuel who replaced Saul with David – the true King. Through that line came Jesus—the son of David—whose kingdom will never end.

All because one young woman suffered and pleaded with the Lord and kept her word to the Lord.

Application: Where is prayer in your life? Where is God in your life? Where is Jesus in your life?

You may say to me – “You don’t understand what I’ve been through in my life.” All I can say to you is what David said in Psalms 34:18 “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart.” Also, listen to God’s promise to those who hurt in Isaiah 61:7 “Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.” That’s God’s promise to you if you are willing to bring your bad experiences and your pain to Him.

“You cannot control the circumstances that you were born into but you can control the direction that you are heading into.

TIMEOUT: STOP, REFOCUS, AND GET BACK IN THE GAME OF LIFE – 2

TIME OUT: STOP, REFOCUS, AND GET BACK IN THE GAME OF LIFE – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

timeoutThis morning we are in part two of our two-part series through Romans 13 titled, “TIMEOUT: STOP, REFOCUS, AND GET BACK IN THE GAME OF LIFE.” Just like in a game when the players begin to lose their momentum, the coach calls a timeout to talk to his players, so also in the game of life, the Holy Spirit calls a timeout to talk to us: He reminds us about the game plan He has for us. He warns us about the time that is remaining in the game. He corrects the mistakes that need to be corrected. Finally, He gives us the right focus to get back in the game and win it.

Romans 13:11-14  11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is inspiring, to say the least. Paul through the Holy Spirit challenges us to wake up out of our complacency and start living the Christian life. He warns us that it is “high time,” meaning you are not only asleep but you have overslept. “The night is far spent and the day has dawned.” But before we can jump back in the game, He also corrects some of our common mistakes or distractions in the game of life.

Application: This morning there are many people here who started well, they conquered incredible odds, and they even made some tremendous progress, but then something happened and they got distracted and lost their focus. Instead of winning the game, they are sitting on the sideline, looking back to the glory days. This morning the Holy Spirit wants you to acknowledge your distractions, make the necessary changes, and get back in the game. For those who haven’t been distracted, this message is a reminder to avoid these distractions and help others do the same. But, more than that, God wants us to set our minds on the right goal.

3 distractions to avoid in the game of life:

I. UNRESTRAINED CELEBRATIONS

13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness

Sadly, we lose the force of the passage because of words that have almost become archaic. So let’s look at each of those words carefully.

Background: The word for revelry is the Greek word “komois” and the word for drunkenness is “methais.” Komois was the name of the Greek god Comus who according to Greek mythology was the son and cupbearer of the God Bacchus – the god of wine and partying. Comus was the god of all night celebrations. He represented anarchy and chaos. Usually you see him depicted as a young man who is at the point of unconsciousness from drinking so much. He has a wreath of flowers on his head and a torch that he’s about to drop from his hands.

During his festivals, people came out into the streets at night with loud music and singing and drinking and vulgarity and sensuality and sexuality. This was a night when everything goes. Men and women would exchange clothes. This was a night of unrestrained celebration. I tell people – sometimes we think that we have invented wild and crazy and that’s not true. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Paul warns the Christian not to get involved in these “unrestrained celebrations.” In Galatians 5 he gives the same warning19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness…21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

It’s all right to go to a Fourth of July Celebration and have a great time. Go to the Fair and have a great time. But when you start going places where there is drinking and vulgarity and sensuality and sexuality, just know that now you are on the Devil’s playground, where he sets the rules or the lack thereof. Don’t even watch it on TV.

Peter also agrees with Paul in I Peter 4:3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.  4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

II. UNBRIDLED SEXUAL PERVERSION

13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust,

Background: Again, two words are used – the first one refers to natural sexual behavior. But it is not referring to the sex between a husband and wife. It is referring to premarital or extramarital sex. The world says, “as long as a man and a woman love each other, it doesn’t matter what they do in the privacy of their home or car. We’re not in the 1800s. Everybody is doing it.” Or, if it’s about their children – “They won’t listen anyways. All you can do is tell them to use protection. At least my boy is not with another boy or my girl is not with another girl.” Wrong! God calls it sin. That is lewdness.

The second one refers to all manner of unnatural sexual behavior. This is referring to everything from homosexuality to bestiality. We’re living in a time when even some Christians try to condone this sinful lifestyle. There is a strong effort in our nation to destroy marriage. It doesn’t matter what Federal Judge from wherever has to say, the Great Judge calls it a sin. We’re not called to make fun of those living in that sinful lifestyle. We’re not called to condemn people living in that lifestyle. We’re called to love them but still call “sin” sin.

Listen to Paul in Ephesians 4:17   17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;  19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Sex in marriage is wonderful and beautiful and a gift from God. Sex outside of marriage whether it is premarital or extramarital or unnatural, it is sin.

Application: Do you go places where this is going on? Are you around people who exemplify this kind of behavior? Are you watching shows and movies and Internet where you are filling your eyes and the eyes of your children with this junk? Are you too curious for your won bad?

III. UNEDIFYING DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

Background: Here the word strife means trying to get one’s own way in an argument. It wants to possess something, no matter whom it belongs to. It is self-indulgent. It brings an atmosphere of constant tension and dissension.

The second word for envy is the Greek word “zelos.” It really refers to jealousy. It means you have something that you refuse to share with others.

Strife and envy/jealousy have a way of destroying fellowship in the body. They have a way of distracting us from the game of life.

What is the outcome? James 3:16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

Application: Do you go places that glorify this kind of behavior? Do you watch movies and shows that show this kind of behavior? Do you hang around people who live this kind of lifestyle?

3 Distractions to Avoid: 1. Unrestrained Celebrations. 2. Unbridled Sexual Perversion 3. Unedifying Destructive Behavior.

It’s not enough just to avoid sin. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” Meaning: You cannot go through life with a list of “I don’ts.”

1 Attitude to Embrace:

IV. REPRESENT CHRIST IN EVERY WAY.

14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,

Background: This simple sentence is the theme of the entire book of Romans. It means to put on His jersey. It means to look like Him. It means that in everything I think, look, walk, and talk like Jesus. I put on His eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, heart, and mind. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” means that when people see me, they see Jesus. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” means that when people see me, they see Jesus. tweet this button But, there’s more – When I see myself, I see Jesus.

What else? And make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Meaning: Don’t let any part of you show the ugliness of sin and flesh.

How does all this work? Let each part of you look like Jesus Christ. He has complete and total authority over my mouth, eyes, ears, hands, feet, mind, and heart. I have to get permission from Him to do anything. When I do things His way, people see Jesus. When I do things my way, people see me. I am sinful, evil, worldly, selfish, carnal, and empty. He is selfless, kind, loving, patient, caring, gentle and humble.

If I am saved, I belong to Him. I have to do it His way. I Corinthians 6:20 helps us with this: “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

When I choose to go my way, I fail and do not represent Him.

Are you saved? Without being saved, you cannot put on Christ.

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