A TALE OF TWO PRIORITIES (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

A TALE OF TWO PRIORITIES Article by Abidan Paul Shah

 

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on September 17, 2016)

a-tale-of-two-priorities“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” – Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)

We are living in an age similar to the one Dickens described in his novel. On the one hand, we are the prosperous citizens of the Information Age, rolling in the luxuries of the knowledge boom. On the other hand, we are the penniless inmates of the Ignorance Asylum, rotting in the filth of foolish decisions. We are constantly looking down at our gadgets for tips and tricks when we should be looking up to the One who holds all truth. We are searching Google for answers when we should be seeking the Bible for wisdom. We are chatting on Facebook with strangers few states away when we should be talking face-to-face with loved ones a few steps away. We are giving our children all that we never had when we should be giving them all that they really need. We are talking about changing the world while we are chafing at the miseries of those down the street. We are content with wearing wristbands when we should be wearing work gloves. We are holding up signs of love and equality on the sidewalks when we have hate and intolerance hidden inside.

(Wow! Not sure where all those rhymes came from! Dickens would dig it if he could! J)

The point of this article is not to demonstrate my rhyming skills, which seem to have vanished as randomly as they came to me…Neither am I trying to advocate some kind of a primitive lifestyle, away from all the distractions of the Internet or social media. We’ve driven too far down the technology ramp to backup. All I am proposing is that we return to the two priorities Jesus gave when someone asked Him “Which is the great commandment in the law?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Please don’t misunderstand those words. Jesus was not suggesting that we stick God and people on the top of our already crazy busy life. That would never work. Sooner or later we would push both of them off or supersede them with the mundane or the urgent. Instead, imagine your life as a circle with God as its center and everything flowing out of Him. He is no longer just someone we glance at once or twice a week but our entire life becomes an outworking of His love and truth. In the process we not only love Him with everything we have but His love radiates through us to those around us. Our friends and family feel it and so do our enemies. We begin to make wise decisions that are motivated by God’s love rather than our impulse or others’ incitement.

In short, a God centered life brings to us the best of times in spite of the worst of times.

When Ministry Grows by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN MINISTRY GROWS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whenministrygrowsIntroduction: This is our second message in our new series – NO BENCHWARMERS and this one is called – “WHEN MINISTRY GROWS.”

Nehemiah 4   6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. 7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

Bridge: How many of you would agree with the statement – “Anytime something good begins to happen, the Devil always shows up”? It is true in our personal lives, in our families, in our workplaces as a Christian, and even in our church.

Nehemiah - Gustave DoreContext: The Book of Nehemiah is a perfect example of this. The Jewish people led by Nehemiah were trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. If you remember, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 587 BC, destroyed the Temple, and the city walls. In 539 BC God had brought the people back into the land and commanded them to rebuild. They rebuilt the temple by 516 BC but the city walls lay in ruins. A city without walls is a city without security, stability, and identity. So God sent a man by the name of Nehemiah in 445 BC to bring the people of Jerusalem and Judah together to rebuild the city walls. If you do the math, that’s almost 100 years after they were back to the land! It’s easy to tear down a work but it’s very hard to rebuild one. By much prayer, Nehemiah rallied the people to begin the work but it wasn’t long before the opposition showed up. In today’s message, we’re going to see what happens when ministry grows and opposition shows up.

Question: Are you part of God’s rebuilding project at Clearview? Are you even aware of what God is doing here at Clearview? Can you see how God is rebuilding lives, homes, marriages, young people and our community? Have you asked Him where He wants you to be in His building project? Are you saved? Are you a citizen of the Heavenly City?

4 things we will learn about what to do when a ministry grows and opposition comes:

I. EXPECT OPPOSITION.

Nehemiah 4:1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Sanballat the HoroniteBackground: Literally it means – this man named Sanballat was hot and irritated when he saw the Jewish people rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and he began to mock and make fun of the people rebuilding the wall. Who was Sanballat? Archaeologists tell us that he was the governor of Samaria to the north of Jerusalem. He was Nehemiah’s chief enemy. The wall was a threat to him. So what does he do? He begins to ridicule the Jewish people. Ridicule or mockery is Satan’s choice weapon to discourage and dishearten God’s people. Shakespeare called ridicule “paper bullets of the brain.” Scottish Philosopher Thomas Carlyle once called ridicule “the language of the devil.”

Tobiah the AmmoniteWhat did Sanballat say? 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? (He mocked them physically.) Will they fortify themselves? (He mocked their construction knowledge.) Will they offer sacrifices? (He mocked their faith) Will they complete it in a day? (He mocked their determination.) Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” (He mocked their resources) 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him…” Who was Tobiah? He was the governor of Ammon to the east of Jerusalem. He came from a family of very powerful Jewish aristocrats. He wasn’t happy either because the wall was also a threat to him. “And he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.’” Chuck Swindoll remarked – “Critics run with critics.”

Application: Have you ever had to deal with Satan’s mockery? I’ve had to. Sometimes he uses people who appear very close to you. You would think that it would be easy to brush it off but its not. Warren Wiersbe said, “Some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.” Have you abandoned some God-given dreams because someone ridiculed you? Let the Holy Spirit help you refocus and get back to the task God has called you to. As a church, we have to be aware of Satan’s opposition. Be aware of his ridicule through some Sanballat or some Tobiah.

II. REMEMBER TO PRAY.

4 “Hear, O our God, for we are despised…”

Background: Nehemiah could have become angry; he could have argued with Sanballat and Tobiah; he could have believed them and given up. Instead, he did what he did when the work first began. He turned towards God. Listen to his prayer: 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He prayed what is known as an imprecatory prayer, where he prayed for God’s judgment upon the enemy. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t they have prayed like Jesus – “Father forgive them for they not know what they do”? Keep in mind that Nehemiah was not praying for personal vengeance. He was reminding God that the enemy had dishonored Him. They were provoking Him. Nehemiah knew that ultimately this was God’s work. And did prayer work? 6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Application: At Clearview we believe strongly in the power of prayer. Every Sunday morning we have the Sunday Morning Prayer Zone where men pray for the service. Every Tuesday morning the ladies come together for a time of prayer. Wednesday evening before Bible study we have a time of prayer. Then this weekend, Friday noon to Saturday noon we will be having our prayer vigil. If you haven’t signed up, go by the welcome room and sign up. Men – we need you to sign up for the night hour so the women can come in and pray during the day hour. The only way we as a church still have “a mind to work” is because God keeps giving us the strength to persevere in the face of opposition.

III. GUARD THE MISSION. 

Nehemiah's enemies7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, Keep in mind that the Enemy never gives up. God is blessing Clearview. Lives are being transformed. Do you think the Enemy is happy? Absolutely not. Once he knows that we’re not going to respond to his ridicule, he will return with another weapon. 8 “and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.” Another of the Enemy’s choice weapons is confusion. He likes to come in and get the people all confused about their roles and the direction“I don’t know what I am doing…” “I don’t know where we are going…” What happens when people are confused about those two things? They turn on each other and before you know it the work is over.

What did Nehemiah and the Jewish people do? 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. Meaning: They prayed and actively began to guard the work against any confusion from the enemy. They were clear about who they were and what they were doing.

Today we had our first annual praise team retreat. The one thing they discussed more than anything else was the mission of Clearview. Do you know the mission of Clearview? Our mission is to “lead all people into a life-changing and ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” Our slogan is “Making Christ Visible.”

Application: Do you guard yourself against the Enemy? Do you reject his attempt to bring confusion into our church family? Do you know what is the mission of our church? Do you know what your role is in the body?

IV. DIVIDE THE WORK.

Nehemiah guards vision10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.” Who is Judah? It is another designation for the Jewish people. It was a way of saying that all the Jewish people began to lose their momentum. The task seemed too big. Plus, verse 11 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” The Enemy is relentless, especially when people are tired.

Can this happen at church? Oh yes! The 20% gets tired and wants to quit. They start hearing a negative comment here and an attitude there and they want to give up. What was Nehemiah’s reaction to all this? 13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. Nehemiah is dividing up the work and every family is involved in doing their part. But, there’s something more – 14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah does not tell them to build the wall. He tells them to see the big picture. Fight for your loved ones.

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

16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Nehemiah continues to divide the work and guard the vision.

Application: Have you been praying and asking God where He wants you to work? The title of the series is “No Benchwarmers.” Are you a benchwarmer?

Just so we don’t walk away thinking that Nehemiah was a very skillful project manager, listen to these verses – 19 Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

In the end Nehemiah reminded them that God was going to give them victory. In the end God will work everything together for good at Clearview. Our best days are here and even better days are coming ahead.

Are you trusting God to fight for you? Do you know the Living and True God? Are you saved

IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO – 3 (R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau)

IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

If They Made It, you can make it tooWe are in our series through Romans 13 titled, IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO.” So far we have seen 2 couples in history and how they made it by the grace of God. The first was the hardheaded couple – Martin and Katie Luther and the second was the couple where both had a thorn in the flesh – Charles and Sussie Spurgeon. This Sunday morning we will look at the third couple in history that made it by the grace of God. Our message is titled – “WHEN BANKRUPTCY BRINGS A BLESSING.”

Romans 13:8-10 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Overall Background: Listen to verse 8 once again – Owe no one anything except to love one another. Meaning: Don’t be in debt to anyone when it comes to financial obligations. At times you may have to take out a loan but do all you can to pay it back as quickly as possible. But, there is a debt that you cannot pay back. No matter how many payments you make on this account, you’ll still be behind on your payments. No matter how much you double up your payments, you’ll still have an outstanding balance. It is your love deficit towards others. It is on the love you owe to people. You’ll never be able to catch up on that account. You’ll never be able to burn the mortgage.
Applications: We’ve often heard the statement – “No one owes you anything.” That is true in a sense. Everyone is responsible for his or her actions and consequences. At the same time, there is one thing that we do owe others and that is love. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can no longer walk through life saying – “It ain’t my problem.” Just like the Good Samaritan, you stop to help those who are in need. You go above and behind in helping those who cannot help you in return. We have so much to learn here.

LeTourneau Big Tires

This morning we are looking at the marriage of R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau. Now, who were they? If you’ve heard me preach on faith, I’m sure you’ve heard the name R.G. LeTourneau. Let me tell you a few things about this man:

– He is known as the “Dean of Earthmoving” – one of the greatest inventors of heavy equipment.
LeTourneau Tree Crusher1– When he started his business in 1921, in just two years he was $100,00 dollars in

debt. But over the next 18 years, his business grew to $10 million dollar with 4 factories and 3000 employees.
– His heavy equipment has been used around the world to clear land and build highways, dams, reservoirs, and everything big you can imagine.
– During World War II, 70 percent of bulldozers and engineering vehicles were LeTourneau’s inventions, even some of the machinery that carried our men to the shores of Normandy.
– He was responsible for as many as 300 patents.LeTourneau Snow Machines – His huge mobile offshore drilling platforms are used for drilling oil in the seas around the world.

– He founded LeTourneau University and supported many colleges, even the one that Nicole and I attended.
LeTourneau Drilling Platform– Besides leading his own company, he was also the president of the Christian Business Men’s Committee (CBMC) and president of the Gideons International.
– Each week he travelled thousands of miles, giving his testimony all over the world.
– He died in 1969 but his company is still in business today and his legacy R.G. LeTourneau 1continues.
What many people do not know was that he was married to Evelyn. Life had not been easy for them. Both of them knew what it meant to be bankrupt and what it meant to be blessed. They understood that they were stewards of what God had given to them. Let’s look at them. I will divide this message in the same outlinethat R.G. himself gave about his life. He said that his life had been through four bankruptcies.

1. MORAL BANKRUPTCY:

R.G. LeTourneau (Young)

They both grew up in Christian homes and received Jesus Christ as their Savior.For R.G. it was harder than Evelyn. Although R.G. had good godly parents, he was rebellious from the get go. One time his father told him to get more water from the well. He was so mad because it was more work than his brothers had done that he decided to draw all the water out of the well till it was dry! Another time he was told to chop some wood. He didn’t want to so he decided to chop the fence post as well. At 13 years of age he even ran away from home. He went to church and heard a lot about God but still wasn’t saved. One night at the age of 16 God got a hold of R.G. Listen to his words: “No bolts of lightning hit me. No great flash of awareness. I just prayed to the Lord to save me, and then I was aware of another presence. No words were spoken. I received no messages. It was just that all of my bitterness was drained away, and I was filled with such a vast relief that I could not contain it all. I ran to my mother. “I’m saved,” I cried. “It happened. You don’t have to worry about me any more. I have felt the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.” From that point on he had a Know-So salvation.

Young Evelyn LeTourneauThis did not mean that all his problems were gone. He had some terrible accidents – fell off a motorcycle and bruised himself terribly, got caught in a grease fire while working in the pit under the car, broke his neck in a car race. Then he met Evelyn. She was some years younger than him and her father was not ready for them to be married. So they decided to elope. They fled in his Saxon Roadster across the border to Tia Juana, Mexico. Needless to say, her father was angry and filed kidnapping charges against R.G. What a rocky start! Although they came back and the charges were dropped, Evelyn’s father did not speak to R.G. for 7 years! One day he came over to the shop were R.G. was working and held out his hand and said – “All right, Bob, You’re all right, and my daughter is all right, and my grand-children are all right. I’m the one that’s wrong in holding a grudge. You want to shake hands with me?” And R.G. nearly broke his arm shaking it!

Application: In many homes people are still holding a grudge for what took place last week or last year or ten years ago. Instead of standing as a hedge of protection for our children, we act as a hedge of thorns.
Why do I share this? Sometimes we see people who are successful and think they have it made. The only thing we have it made is our salvation.

So, they had a rocky start to their life together but they both knew Jesus as their Savior.

2. SPIRITUAL BANKRUPTCY:

Evelyn and R.G. worked together to make ends meet. Evelyn was keeping the house and taking care of a small vegetable garden. R.G. had gone into car sales and service business with a friend, which they called Superior Garage in Stockton, California. It was supposed to be a 50/50 partnership. The business was doing really great. About this time World War I came and R.G. joined the naval yard. He almost died when the Spanish influenza broke out killing thousands of people. War ended and their first son was born. R.G. was not prepared for what was about to happen when he went back on the first day to the Garage. His friend told him that they were bankrupt. He couldn’t believe it. How could that be?! Other garages were growing and set for the big car boom of 1919-1920. Everyday there was another bad news – another creditor who needed to be paid, another deal that didn’t work out. It wasn’t long before R.G. knew that his friend had a bad habit and had run the business into the ground.

Evelyn

But that wasn’t the worst of it. One night he returned from the garage and Evelyn was pacing the floor. The Spanish influenza had been raging through Stockton, especially among little infants. Few days later their baby died. Listen to R.G. words: “I held Evelyn, but when I could find words, it was to God that I addressed them. ‘What’s wrong? What have we done that we should be so punished? We’ve worked hard. We’ve tried our best to be Christians. Oh, where have we gone wrong?” That night, while we were still numb with sorrow, the answer came to me. ‘My child,’ the Voice said, ‘you have been working hard, but for the wrong things. You have been working for material things when you should have been working for spiritual things.’ The words were few, but the meaning ran deep. All that long night I reviewed my past, and saw where I had been paying only token tribute to God, going through the motions of acting like a Christian, but really serving myself and my conscience instead of serving Him. Instead of being a humble servant, I was taking pride in the way I was working to pay my material debts at the garage, while doing scarcely a thing to pay my spiritual debt to God.”

God did not cause his business to go down. Neither did he cause the baby to die. But God in His sovereignty used the struggle and thepain in their lives to turn them towards spiritual things. About this time they found a good church and their life changed forever.
His life verse became Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Application: Trials can either press you towards God or they can push you away from God. Trials can take your spiritual life to a whole new level or they can turn you bitter and angry and frustrated with God. R.G. and Evelyn chose to draw closer to God.

3. FINANCIAL BANKRUPTCY:

It happened in 1931 (2 years after the Great Depression hit the United States and the world) LeTourneau had two construction projects in hand – one, a million dollar contract, to build a highway to Boulder Dam on the Colorado River in Nevada; the second, a half a million-dollar contract, to build the Orange County Dam in Southern California. There were some problems in completing the Boulder Dam and LeTourneau was in a loss of $100,000 – in today’s standards it would be a $1 million dollars. Anyways, bonding company in San Francisco was willing to do one of two things – take it out of LeTourneau’s hands or

LeTourneau Family

oversee as he did it. To make matters worse – the State Inspector came and said “It is too late to get started because rainy season is just a few months away. You cannot complete it. Have to wait till next year.” To wait a year, might as well as call it the end – there will be no recovery. LeTourneau begged and pleaded with the inspector who finally said there is some work to be done at the base of the dam. If you can complete the work in 1 month, I will believe that you can finish the dam before the rainy season comes. LeTourneau and his men worked days, night and Sundays. The job was done. Nothing like it was done. Inspector said, “Alright if you work at the same speed, I know you will get it done before the rains.”
Prior to this LeTourneau had never worked his men on Sundays. It troubled his conscience to work on Sundays and keep his men from God’s day of rest. (I know that some of us in the medical field or law enforcement or professions like them are required to be there. We are not talking about that.) He approached the Bonding company and said “I want to stop the work on Sunday. We’ll still get the job done.” They said, “No way – to much of a risk for us. You do that – we take over.” LeTourneau prayed and asked the Lord. A still voice said “Obey God rather than man.”

They did not show up Sunday. The next day the head man at san Francisco called “What do you think you are doing? We try to help you and this is what you do. Either you work Sundays or we take over.” LeTourneau answered, “I cannot change my decision. You can take everything I have except my wife and children.” Three days later the headman came to the scene and said, “Alright fellow, you do it your way. I will back you up. I guess it will be alright.” Needless to say, the work was completed and LeTourneau was able to save the business. Bottom line – LeTourneau honored God. One time someone asked him “If you know a thing is the will of God and you do not feel you have the faith, what do you do?” He said, “I go ahead and act like I have the faith.”

The very next year, 1932, things were not much better. He was again in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The pay roll was five weeks behind. LeTourneau did not know what would happen next. It felt like it was over. That Sunday he was in church. It was a Missions Sunday and people were pledging for missions. God spoke to his heart and said – “How about making a pledge to missions this year?” He answered – “How can I? There are people in church here who work for me. I haven’t paid them in five weeks. If I do this, they would call me a hypocrite for making a pledge when I wasn’t paying my bills.” God told him to divide the pledge and make it in the names of his children. He made a pledge of $5000, which was a lot by today’s standards.

R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau

About this time he had sold a machine to a contractor but he was having trouble with the steel tires in the desert sand. The contractor wanted to go elsewhere but LeTourneau persuaded him to let him try the pneumatic tires. It worked like a charm. The contractor bought two of the scrapers and even told him to build another one. R.G. asked if he could have a small down payment. The man said – “Down payment! I’ll give you the check for the whole thing!” He gave him a check for $25,000.

From there on, God became his business partner. He would often say: “Not how much of my money I give to God, but how much of His money I keep for myself.” R.G. also gave way 90% of his income to the Lord’s work.

He put it this way: “I shovel out the money and God shovels it back in—but God has a bigger shovel.”

4. PHYSICAL BANKRUPTCY:

Dec 1968 RG and Evelyn LeTourneau with Billy Graham

As I mentioned earlier, R.G. and Evelyn would travel every week to speak in churches and gatherings. Once they were travelling in 1937 with a singing quartet. They had a head on collision with a car coming towards them. The driver of the other car had turned his head to talk. Five people died at the scene – three in the opposite car and two from the quartet. R.G.’s hips were driven out of their sockets, his pelvis was broken, chest was crushed, leg was broken, and a foot crushed. Evelyn was bruised and bleeding and unconscious.

R.G. looked up to heaven and said – “Lord, this could not have happened if You had not permitted it, because I know ‘that all things work together for good to them that love God.’ You suffered more than this for me. Thy will be done.’” God healed them and used them again.

They made it by the grace of God. They obeyed God and trusted Him for the impossible. Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

CHANGE OR DIE: A HUMBLE PLEA TO FELLOW CHURCHES (Article)

CHANGE OR DIE: A HUMBLE PLEA TO FELLOW CHURCHES (Article) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church

(Published in the Daily Dispatch, Henderson on January 18, 2014)

I’ve never been more conflicted about writing an article than this one. After much prayer and consultation with my lovely wife, I felt that I must write what God has laid on my heart.

Sometime back I did an online search of church buildings for sale. What I found was shocking! There were hundreds upon hundreds of church buildings – big and small, old and new – for sale all over the United States. The tragedy is no different even here. Not a day goes by that I don’t meet someone who laments – “People don’t come to church like they used to.” “If things don’t change, it’s a matter of time before we lock the doors for the last time.” Frankly, they’re right! The average church in America has fewer than 30 people on a given Sunday morning, most of them being senior adults. It won’t be long before they too will be on the real estate market.

When people ask me – “What can we do to get more young people in our church?” My answer to them is—“Change or Die.” Here are the 4 C’s that I suggest:

1. Convictions: Every church that wants to come alive must have solid convictions on key doctrines. If you don’t believe in the Trinity, then this article is not for you. If you have trouble with Jesus being the Only Way, Truth, and Life, then we’re not on the same page. If you think the Bible has errors, then there is no faith worth contending for. A church without convictions is like a ship without a rudder. It will float around until the supplies run out or the big storm hits.

2. Concern: Do you think the church is a hotel for saints or hospital for sinners? If you think the former, then you will care about your comfort and your pleasure. If you believe that the church is here to seek and to save that which was lost, then you will do whatever it takes to win every man, woman, boy, and girl to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This does not mean that we shouldn’t care about the needs of those in the body. It simply means that our focus should be outward. No person should be too different, no music too sacred, and no clothing too spiritual. Here’s a test: Ask yourself – Are my children and my grandchildren in church with me? Are they glad they came to the house of God? If the answer is negative, its high time you do whatever it takes to get them. If they don’t live nearby, reach others and God will send someone to reach your family, wherever they are.

3. Think Differently: You noticed that I didn’t start with a C. Aren’t we all creatures of habit! We hate change. We like things to be predictable. Now, I’m not suggesting that we tear down every tradition. As Proverbs 22:28 reminds us, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” But we do need to set aside senseless traditions. Think about Jesus Christ – He honored His Holy Father and the Scriptures but He rejected the traditions of the scribes and the Pharisees. If you will allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to work in your church, He will open new opportunities and avenues for ministry that you never imagined! Rest assured that He will not bring confusion but always magnify Jesus Christ. It’s time you tip your hat to the past and roll up your sleeves to the future.

4. Commitment: Nothing happens overnight. Like that old saying – it takes 25 miles to turn a battleship around. But, if the pastor is committed to staying and the people are prayerfully willing to follow his leadership, then that church will rise from the ashes. There is incredible power in a church that loves one another and is united in vision. Oh, before I forget, let me warn you – Be prepared to be criticized, ostracized, and stigmatized. People will question your motives and doubt your ability but have faith. As Jesus promised, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

May all who come behind us find us faithful.

THE CHRISTIAN CITIZEN (PART 2)

THE CHRISTIAN CITIZEN – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Christian_CitizenThis morning is our second message in our miniseries through Romans 13, titled, “The Christian Citizen.” Sadly, most Americans are ignorant and naïve on matters concerning government, politics, and economy. More sadly, these subjects are never addressed from the pulpit. But praise God – the Word of God does address all these issues.

Rom 13:1-5 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Overall Background:  In the passage we just read, Paul is instructing the church in Roman and all of us on taxes. You’ve heard that adage – “There are 2 things in life you can count on: Death and Taxes.” If I may add – At least death comes only once but taxes come every year! And, guess what – Its tax time! The Bible has a lot to say on this subject. It not only teaches us spiritual wisdom but also daily wisdom. It not only inspires us to keep our eyes on the heavenly city but also instructs us on how to live in the earthly city. It not only teaches us to how to organize the House of God but also instructs us on how to organize our government and politics. If we would only turn to the Bible – The Manufacturer’s Instructional Manual – we would be so much better off. So this morning we will drop anchor at Romans 13:6-7 but also catch some important principles on this subject from throughout Scripture.

With that said, there are two questions we will answer in this message:

I. WHY DO WE PAY TAXES?

Listen to verse 6 “For because of this you also pay taxes, Because of what “this” do we pay taxes? The answer to that is given in the previous verses.

#1.The rulers protect us against foreign and domestic threats. Romans 13:3 “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.” Our rulers should put fear in the hearts of those who seek to do us harm. They are there to punish those who infringe upon our life, liberty, and property, and gain restitution for the victims. Let me add – there is more to protection than just physical harm. They’re also there to protect and take care of those who are really in need. They’re also there to oversee environment protection, patent protection, product safety, fair business transactions, transportation systems, and other interests that protect and enhance our standard of living. Hence we pay them taxes to be our protectors in all this.

#2.They are there to praise those who do good. Romans 13:3 says, “Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” The rulers should reward the honest, hardworking, and good people. Hence we pay taxes to them.

Our Declaration of Independence clearly states: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed.”

Let me clarify: It’s not the government’s job to create jobs. (Check out my article on this subject titled – “CREATING JOBS IS TOP PRIORITY” – ANOTHER POLITICAL JARGON.” “Employers create jobs not Government. When there is a demand for a product, employers put up a “now hiring” sign. This is backwards with the Government-created jobs program. It puts up a “now hiring” sign and then looks for some artificial demand to justify it. Recently, there has been growing talks of targeted stimulus towards infrastructure repairs, clean energy, and education. Where will the Government find money to pay these new employees? Unlike the private sector employer who withdraws from his savings to pay his employees, the Government digs into our wallet when it is time to write the paycheck. When the money runs out, the only available option is to raise the taxes on the “rich” (a.k.a. the private sector employers). What is the natural recourse for these employers? Cut backs. In the final analysis, the Government destroys jobs rather than creates them. Furthermore, Government-created jobs have no clear accountability or bottom line. Projects can drag on for decades with an endless supply of taxpayer dollars.”

As Reagan remarked on several occasions, “The most dangerous words in the English language were: ‘Hi, I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.”

II. HOW MUCH TAXES SHOULD WE PAY?

7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

So how much taxes are due? Here are some key questions (See Politics According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem):

1.    Should we lower taxes or raise taxes? Think about Bill who earned $80,000 and has to pay 25% in taxes. That’s about $20,000 in taxes. Now if the tax rate is lowered to 20%, then he has to pay only $16,000 in taxes. What’s he going to do with the $4000 extra dollars? Bill can go on a vacation and pay for gas, hotel room, and food. Or, he can use that money to start another business. Next year Bill could be earning $110,000. If he continues to pay 20% taxes, then he owes $22,000 in taxes. That’s $2000 more to the government than last year. He may even hire Mike to be his assistant and have to pay him. Now another person has a job. Overall, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

What would happen if we raise Bill’s taxes to 30% instead? Now he has to pay $24000 in taxes. That’s $4000 less dollars to spend. Do you think Bill will go on a vacation? Of course not. Do you think Bill will invest money or try to hang on to it? Hang on to it. Do you think he will worker harder at his job? Why should he? After all, Uncle Sam is going to take more money from him!

2.  Do the rich pay their fair share? (From my article “CORPORATE JET OWNERS – SWATTING POLITICAL JARGON” in 2011) “According to the SOI (Statistics of Income) tax stats available on the IRS website, the top one percent of the wealthiest Americans paid 38.02 percent of the total income tax. If you still think that it’s not enough, here is one statistic that will blow your mind. The top 50 percent of the taxpayers pay 97% of the total income tax. This means that half of all Americans pay only 3% of the revenue! Do we still think that these wealthy “fat cats” are not paying their fair share? In fact, they are the small business owners who are the heart of American business. Seems to me that they are being penalized enough already.

…We need to stop thinking of economy as a zero sum game. This idea assumes that the economy is a fixed pie where the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. Think of a hard working and law-abiding farmer. He sweats all day under the hot sun. He hires laborers and pays them their fair wages. After the harvest, he sells his produce and gains a profit. Who did he rob? Or, how about the athlete who works hard and stays clean? Who did he rob to get that contract? Or, that talented girl who makes it big in the music industry through hard work and focus. Who did she rob?”

As long as you legally earn what you have, you should be allowed to enjoy the wealth.

Luke 19: 16-19  16 Then came the first, saying, “Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, “Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, “You also be over five cities.’

3.  Isn’t it better to raise taxes on corporations? Think for a moment – if you raise taxes on corporations, what are they going to do? They will raise the prices of their goods and services. If corporate tax goes up by 5%, the cost of products goes up by 5%. What’s more? The marginal corporate tax rate in America is 35%. Many of the Asian countries and European countries are dropping the rate so they can attract more companies overseas. We are loosing American jobs as one company after another closes to move overseas. We need more foreign investment here.

4.  Is it fair to have a progressive tax rate? This means that the higher you earn, the higher your tax rate. Let me clarify – this does not mean that if you make $10000 at 25%, you’ll pay $2500 and if you make $100000 at 25%, you’ll pay $25000. That would be nice! The more you climb the tax bracket, the higher your tax rate becomes. As a single person, if your income is not over $9,075, then 10% of the taxable income. If its over $9,075 but less than $36,900, then 10% on the $9,075 and then 15% over the excess. Then the rates keep climbing. Now if you get exemptions at lower levels of income, you may end up not paying any but getting more back in refund. How about for those on the higher level? They only end up paying more.

How was it in the Old Testament? 10% of their income to the Lord and then census tax of half a shekel.

5.  Are there other taxes? Yes! Capital Gains tax – tax on the increased value of something purchased as an investment – rental property. If a person is already paying income tax, should they also pay this? No. How about Death or Estate Tax – tax on a person’s estate after the person dies. Did not the person pay taxes while living? Then why should they be taxed again?

6.  Should everyone who earns have to pay? Yes. How about people who make very little and are trying to survive. Of course, provisions should be made for them. Jesus’ parents brought two young pigeons to be sacrificed. Why not a lamb? Because in Leviticus 12:8 it said, “And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’ ”

It makes a difference when each American feels responsible for our nation.

Conclusion: It may seem – There’s no way people in America will ever see all this. Here’s how they can:

1. We begin to change.

2. We begin to take a stand.

GIve to Caesar3. We give God the best. Matthew 22:15-22  15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.  16And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.  17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. 20   And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21   They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

4. We reach people with the gospel – the only way to have a good and honest and just and hardworking citizen is by leading him/her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 5)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (part 5) by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas seasonThis is our last message in our mini series from the Book of Romans titled – HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. Many of you shared with me how much you appreciated the past 4 messages, especially during Christmas – a time of stress, frustration, and discouragement. I don’t think Paul had Christmas in mind when he penned these words but they definitely fit.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background: We come to the last line of that section – 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. This passage is about “How to Have the Right Spirit of Hospitality.” The word “hospitality” has a very strange history. It is connected to the Latin words hospes, from which we get words like “hospice” and “hospital” and hostis, from which we get the word “host” – the owner of the house. Amazingly, it is also connected with words like hostile – which could mean a stranger or enemy or army. That’s why you hear about the “Lord of hosts” = “Lord of Angelic Armies.” That’s why you also hear about the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Bottom Line: The word hospitality has a good and bad connotation in the past.

Why did I bring all that up? Because hospitality can be good and bad. If it’s good, it can be a refuge for the guests, the weary and worn in our homes and church. If it’s bad, it can be hostile and feel like the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This morning, we will look at hospitality from the Bible as it applies in the context of our homes and our church? This is a very essential message. 3 things we will see here.

I. HOSPITALITY IS A CHRISTIAN GRACE.

given to hospitality. Meaning: By nature we are hospitable to all.

Background: Ancient cultures were big on showing hospitality to each other but it was a different story when it came to a stranger or an enemy. In Viking culture – if you happened to be in a friendly territory, you would get food, shelter, and protection. But if you didn’t know them well, watch your back. In Arab history, the greeting Salam (peace) had to be responded quickly with “peace back to you.” Meaning: “We’re good. Don’t wanna fight.” Live and let live. Not much hospitality there.

Here’s a glimpse of what most cultures were like – Romans 1:29-31 (As I read this section, imagine if you had to visit or stay overnight with people like this.) 29“being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.” They had no sense of hospitality. If I had to stay with someone like this, I would not blink all night. You never know when they would stab you in your sleep.

Contrary to this what did Christianity say? Hebrews 13:2-3  2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Remember in the Old Testament when God came with two angels to visit Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 18 tells us that “when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground,  3 and said, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.  4 Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  5 And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.” They said, “Do as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it.  8 So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.”

After that, those angels went down to Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19 tells us that even though Lot treated them with hospitality, before they could lay down, “the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.  5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” They wanted to sexually rape them. That’s where we get the word “sodomy.” While Lot pleaded with them, they even tried to break down the doors.

Godly person cannot help but be hospitable to all. Sadly, the further we get from Christianity in our culture, the less we are hospitable. We become hostile. Sadly, the same attitude has come in among Christians.

For e.g. Growing up we constantly had missionaries in our home from America, Sweden, Germany, England, and Philippines. We had an American missionary who ate with us for over 10 years, almost every day for lunch. He would read to me and talk to me.

For e.g. Nowadays, its like the commercial – someone says “Dinner time!” and everybody runs to the van.

Someone might say – “Its easy to clean up.” It’s not about the work or the food. It’s about drawing close to one another.

We need to have this spirit of hospitality. The early church was known for their hospitality. 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. Hospitality had a part to play in the growth of the church.

Application: Do you open the doors of your home to others? Do you participate in the hospitality at church?

II. HOSPITALITY HAS TO BE GUARDED.

Listen to how Paul brings up the subject – distributing to the needs of the saints

He refers to others as saints – not sinners or burdens or headaches. Meaning: It’s a privilege to serve others.

Hospitality can very easily go from serving others to cooking food. We can go from ministering to each other to getting it done and cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Did you know that the first church conflict took place over food? Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.  2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.  3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;  4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Later on it happened again in the church in Corinth at the Love Feast – I Corinthians 11:20-22  20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.  21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.  22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Most church conflicts don’t happen over doctrine and theology but food. It’s the debased mind getting into the church. Don’t be jumping in front of each other. Don’t bring your bad attitude in church.

For e.g. Like the guy who is having a lunch break with his buddy and opens up his lunch pail and bites into the sandwich. “Oh no! A baloney sandwich! Again! Everyday I get a baloney sandwich! I hate it!” His friend says – “Relax, take it easy. Just tell your wife tonight not to do that.” He replies – “Leave my wife out of it! I make my own sandwiches…”

Application: How do you see each other? At home and church. Do you see the other person as a saint or as a burden?

III. HOSPITALITY IS ULTIMATELY UNTO GOD.

Do you remember what it says just 2 verses earlier in verse 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

When we take our eyes off the Lord, we can miss the blessing in hospitality.

James Tissot-The Meal in the house of the phariseeIn Luke 7, Jesus was invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee. This was the same place where the woman came with thealabaster flask and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then, she proceeded to anoint his feet with fragrant oil. When Simon questioned Jesus’s integrity, Jesus responded to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Contrast this with Luke 19, Jesus came to the place where Zacchaeus was in the sycamore tree and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” How did he respond? “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” What was the result? 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The Light of the World - William Holman Hunt

What a difference! Simon had Jesus as a guest but he missed the blessing. Zacchaeus had Jesus as a guest andhe shared in the blessing.

The first question – Is Jesus welcome in your life?

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

William Holman Hunt painted “The Light of the World” with no handles on the outside to represent the “obstinately shut mind.”

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 4)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas seasonYou know Christmas is here when: it takes you an hour to drive somewhere that normally takes 15 minutes; you can’t find a parking place at the mall; and people who are normally congenial snap at you. This series is to help us have the right attitude, not just during the Christmas season but also in every season of life.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background:  So far we have seen three messages in this series – 1. “How to Have Love Without Hypocrisy.” 2. “How to Hate Evil and Cling to Good.” 3. “How to Outdo Each Other in Showing Honor.” This morning we come to verse 11 and 12not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” On the one hand, that verse seems like quite simple. But, pause and study it carefully and you will see that it is a message we desperately need to hear in America today. The title of this message is How to Stay Ablaze for God. Christianity in America is suffering:

–       Not because the gospel is weak (it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes),

–       Not because people are more sinful (people are just as sinful today as they were in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah),

–       Not because we don’t have the knowledge (we know more today than we ever did before),

–       Not because we don’t have the resources (never before has the church had all the literature, technology, and knowhow at its disposal),

–       Not because we don’t have the man power (we have more Christians today than any other time in history),

–       Not because we don’t have the time (there are still 24 hours in a day),

–       Not because we are more persecuted than before (study the early church that had to face the lions)

We try to pass the blame on this, that, and the other. The real problem in America is that most Christians have become anemic, lifeless, and weak. What is needed is the spirit of a Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, men and women on fire for God.

This morning if the spiritual temperature of our nation troubles you, stop looking to Washington or Hollywood and start looking in the mirror. Are you ablaze for God?

The passage breaks down into three parts:

I. BE ON FIRE FOR GOD.

11 not lagging in diligence, A better translation of that would be “in zeal, do not be lazy.”

Christianity in America is suffering because we have lost the zeal, the fire, the passion, the urgency, the energy, the boldness, and the forthrightness that moved the world for God in previous generations.

Anytime you say that, immediately we think of someone who is pushy and obnoxious, trying to cram the gospel down our throat. No one wants that. That does more harm than good for the kingdom of God. People run when they see you coming. What we are talking about is “being in a spirit of revival.” It’s not that we have the gospel but the gospel has us. We are driven by our convictions regarding the lostness of every human being, the eternal judgment that is waiting in the end, the salvation through Jesus Christ being the only hope for them. The church is not a cruise liner. It is a rescue ship.

For e.g. Many years ago, when I first began in the ministry, I actually prayed to God for convictions. I had seen too many pastors and church people having a good time on a cruise liner while all around them there were people drowning in the water. It didn’t happen overnight but little by little God began to remove the complacency of my heart and replace it with His convictions.

Guess who was instrumental in this? The Holy Spirit. Listen to the next phrase – fervent in spirit, Again a better translation would be “boiling by the Spirit.” In other words, Ask the Holy Spirit to set you on fire. Our zeal for the gospel is not some self-induced passion but the Holy Spirit Himself sets us on fire. What you and I try to light ourselves on fire we fizzle out but when the Holy Spirit lights us up we begin to burn with an incredible unquenchable zeal.

That phrase “boiling by the Spirit” was used of Apollos in Acts 18:25 “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.”

Meaning: Set on fire by the Holy Spirit does not mean that you have all the answers and you have arrived. All is means is that moment and time you are completely under the authority and direction of the Holy Spirit

Any heart that is willing can have the Holy Spirit. He will empower whoever will honor Him.

Application: Many of us are on fire by the wrong spirit.

Now here comes another phrase that is critical for being on fire for God – serving the Lord. My paraphrase would be “with Jesus as Our Master.”

The purpose of the Holy Spirit is never to glorify Himself or you. His purpose is to glorify Jesus. Jesus Himself said in John 16:13-14  13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

Now we begin to walk, talk, think, and behave as Jesus. Now when we meet people, they see Jesus in us. There is no place for sin and self.

Robert Murray McCheyne, “Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear and your heart full of God’s Spirit is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.”

Application: Are you on fire for God? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Are you living every moment to magnify Jesus Christ?

II. BE HOPEFUL AND PATIENT

12 rejoicing in hope,

What is HOPE? There are 2 ways people use the word hope: One, I sure hope it works out. Meaning = I don’t think it will get better; Second, Hope is on its way. Meaning = Don’t give up. There is help coming. It is the expectation of something better to come.

The Holy Spirit is the harbinger of hope. Listen to Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

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

Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work and I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness. You can talk about hope and you can make hope your campaign slogan but if there is no genuine hope, nothing will happen.

Now someone might say, but you don’t realize how bad it is. Listen to the very next line – patient in tribulation. First the word tribulation refers to pressure to the point of breaking. Why are we surprised? Jesus said in John 16:33 “…In the world you will have tribulation…”

How are we to face tribulation? Be patient. It is not some passive putting up with things but actively standing and enduring.

Someone might say “that’s hard to do.” Listen again to John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Application: Are you rejoicing in hope? Are you patient in the midst of trouble?

III. BE IN CONSTANT PRAYER

continuing steadfastly in prayer; Literally – busy yourself in prayer

Most of us busy ourselves in worry, in doubt, and in complaining.

Our prayer is our communication with the home base.

Stop praying and one by one like dominoes it will all crash. First to go is patience in trouble, next to go is joy, because there is no hope. Then, you are no longer following Jesus, no longer filled with the Spirit, and now you are simply existing with passion and zeal.

E.M. Bounds “Short devotions deplete spiritual vigor, arrest spiritual progress, sap spiritual foundations, blight the root and bloom of spiritual life. They are the prolific source of backsliding, the sure indication of a superficial piety; they deceive, blight, rot the seed, and impoverish the soil.”

In other words, your spiritual life, for practical purposes is dead. You can put up the tree, hang the wreaths, buy the gifts, sing Christmas carols but it doesn’t do anything for you or anybody else.

Application: Did this message describe you? Are you ablaze for God? Or, are you burned out for God?

John Wesley “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”

Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WILL, NOT DREAD IT (Article)

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WILL, NOT DREAD IT (Article) by Pastor Shah (Clearview)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 

DELIGHT IN GOD'S WILL, NOT DREAD ITSome people have the wrong idea that they have to discover God’s will for their lives, as if He has hidden it somewhere. Others have the false idea that if they submit to God’s will, then He might lead them to a miserable life—they may have tolive in abject poverty or be forced to go on the mission field to some God-forsaken place; they may get terribly sick and even die; or they may lose a relationship or someone very special in their life. Nothing is further from the truth! All the above are the enemy’s scare tactics to keep us from receiving God’s best for our lives. When we come to God and seek His will for our lives, Romans 12:2 promises us that His will is good, acceptable and perfect. Here’s how–

First, “do not be conformed to this world.” This does not mean that we should move to some remote desert and avoid modern technology, scientific inventions, fashionable clothes, or musical styles of our time. Primitive Living is not necessarily Godly Living. What it does mean is that we shouldn’t conform to the values of this age. Here’s a list of some of these values—God is not the center and focus of your life; the Bible is not the final authority in your life; you don’t have tobe grateful to anyone; whatever feels good, do it; there are no rules for sexual behavior; get rich at any cost; do whatever you can to get ahead; and so on. If we want God’s will, we have to reject these values. Are you allowing the world to squeeze you into its mold?

Second, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Along with rejecting worldly values, we have to allow the Holy Spirit to re-program/re-format our minds to the truth of God. He does this every time we read God’s Word and hear God’s Word. He teaches us the difference between right and wrong. He gives us biblical convictions regarding morality and life choices. Based on this new information, we are expected to be transformed = “metamorphosis.” Meaning: Wehave to change the way we walk, talk, think, and act. Truth without Change is a Couch Potato. Is there a noticeable change in the way you think and live?

Finally, “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The benefit of rejecting worldly values and applying godly truth is that you are able to “prove” the will of God. Some people are waiting to “discover” God’s will in—Who to marry? When to go back to school? What career to choose? What financial decision to make? Where to live? How to rear their children? If you are one of these people, you may be waiting forever! Here’s the truth from Romans 12:2—when you reject the values of this age and apply the truth of God’s Word, you are already in God’swill. Can you imagine an apple tree wondering—“What kind of fruit does God want me to bear? Which colour apple will it be? Green, yellow, or red.” Of course not! When the conditions are right – right soil, right sunlight, right water –the tree will prove by its fruit what colour apples it bears.

Someone might object – what if I make a mistake? Let me ask you – If you reject worldly values and obey God’s Word, will He allow you to go off a cliff? And, even if you miss a step, does He not promise “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

Begin today by receiving Jesus as your Savior, which is God’s first will for your life (II Pet. 3:9). And, as God told the people of Israel—“You have circled this mountain long enough.” Go forward and prove His good, acceptable, and perfect will for your life.

LET YOUR SOUL CATCH UP WITH YOUR BODY

LET YOUR SOUL CATCH UP WITH YOUR BODY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

LET YOUR SOUL CATCH UP WITH YOUR BODYAs summer has come to a close, children are back to school and college, and adults are back to work, I want to preach a message that is very essential to all of us at this time. It is a message titled, “LET YOUR SOUL CATCH UP WITH YOUR BODY.” It’s a message on the importance of having one day of rest as commanded by the Lord – to rest our bodies, to restore our relationships, and to refocus our spirit upon Him.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 12‘ Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.


There are 3 important points about the Day of Rest that I want us to see:

I. THE ORIGIN OF THE DAY OF REST.

12‘ Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.

Background: It means that the idea of the Day of Rest did not originate from society or culture or government or any human institution. It came from the Creator Himself.

Gen 2:1-3 1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Sanctified means “to be set apart.” By the way, it was not just for Israel. In fact, the people called Israel would not exist for another 2500 years. This day was set apart for all people. Six days He worked and on the seventh He sanctified it and rested.

Why did He rest? Was He tired? Isaiah 40:28 “The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary.” Was He out of materials? Of course not! Ex-nihilo creation.

First, as an artist, He was stepping back to admire His creation. Second, as a worker, He was setting an example that there is a time to work and a time to rest. God wants us to remember that we are more than just work machines.

In our society we see 2 extremes:

– There are some people I know who run from work. If you want to get rid of them, all you have to say is “can you give me a hand with this?” and they are gone.

– Then, there are some people – all they know is work. Their entire identity is tied to their work – they are workaholics. Note: There might be times when you will work extra hard or round the clock to get something going and I am not talking about those exceptions. But there is a time to rest.

D.L. Moody – “You show me a nation that has given up the Sabbath and I will show you a nation that has the seeds of decay.”

Hence, God gave the Sabbath to the entire human race. Six days to work and one day to let your soul catch up with your body.

II. THE PURPOSE OF THE DAY OF REST.

13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work:

3 Reasons for the Day of Rest:

A. To Rest Our Bodies. As physical beings, we are limited. We are not built to last forever.

Take for example: Jesus – He was fully God and fully man. He was sinless. He was perfect in every way. But in chapter 6 of Mark we see that He came to His home country of Nazareth. Even though He did heal some sick, He could not do many mighty things there. It was the Sabbath and He began to teach in the synagogue but many ridiculed Him. Later, He went about the villages in the circuit and even sent the twelve to go out to preach. You can imagine how tiring that was. About this same time, King Herod had also beheaded John the Baptist. So much was going on in the life of Jesus. When the disciples returned, listen to what He did in Mark 6:30-31 30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

“If you don’t come apart for a time, you will come apart in time.”

“If you are burning the candle at both ends, you won’t stay bright too long.”

There is a reason why many people stay angry, cranky, snappy most of the time. Take a day to rest your body. What if I can’t relax on Sunday? As a pastor, I can’t on Sunday. Then, rest some day of the week.

B. To Restore Our Relationships.

14…you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant,

Background: Did you notice the family dynamics in that verse? Take time off for the most important people in your life. God thought of everything. He wants us to realize that people matter more than projects. Family is tearing apart because we are not there to see each other.

For e.g. This has been a very busy summer for us. I took the boys to play golf. After we were done, I told them we would get some ice cream. Their answer – “If you want to.” Meaning – we didn’t come for that. To Nicole and me our family is very important. We have them for a very brief time.

C. To Refocus Our Spirit.

15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Background: God wanted the people of Israel to know that He was the source of their freedom. So one day to get our mind and hearts back on Him. All week long we are distracted by the things of this world, cares of this life, worries and pains. We get spiritually weak. The soul has to be recharged. We need a spiritual tune-up. It’s not just about resting your bodies and restoring our relationships. It is also about refocusing our Spirit upon the things of God.

For e.g. A man was passing by a coal mine in Pennsylvania on a Sunday. He saw a number of mules in the field. He asked what they were doing. They were used in the mines. Unless they were brought up once a week, they would go blind.

UNLESS WE SEE SPIRITUAL LIGHT, WE TOO WILL GO BLIND IN THIS LIFE.

People say – “Oh I worship but I don’t have to go to church to worship. I can worship just as well on the lake or on the golf course or with my family at home.” Sure you can. But do you? It is very very hard to have a focused time of worship away from church. Not only that but when we come together for worship, we are worshipping as a community. God wants us to worship Him everyday. Six days worship individually but the seventh day worship as a community.

David said in Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” David worshipped God individually but he lookedIGNITE - SAT EVENING SERVICE forward to worshipping with others.

The principle of worshipping together every week is reinforced in the New Testament. Listen to Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

On September 7th we are starting a Saturday evening worship. This will give people an opportunity to worship who do not get to worship on Sunday. Our motto – Same Message, Same God, A Whole New Experience.

III. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE DAY OF REST.

Some people get very legalistic about a Day of Rest. They make a list of do’s and don’ts. They loose the focus of what the Day of Rest was supposed to be – kind of like the Pharisees. By the 6th century – more and more laws were added. There are 39 words in the Hebrew language in the 4th commandment. They multiplied it by 39 and they got 1521 laws. Things they could not do on the Sabbath.

– You have a tack in your sandal; you better take it out by Friday.

– You’ve got a flea; better get it before sunset Friday.

– Don’t hold vinegar too long in your mouth for a toothache on the Sabbath. That would be healing and that’s work.

– Wearing perfume; lifting dust in the house, animal falls into the ditch.

If there was one subject that the Pharisees were aggravated with Jesus over was the Sabbath.

– His disciples plucked heads of grain through the grain field (Matt 12:1)

– He healed a man with withered hand in the synagogue (Matt 12:10)

– Woman with spirit of infirmity in the synagogue (Luke 13:10)

– Certain man with dropsy (Luke 14:2)

– Man with infirmity at the Pool of Bethesda for 38 years. They got him for carrying his bed. (Lk 5:5)

– Man born blind from birth. Jesus used clay. (Luke 9:13)

Over and over and over again they accused the Son of God of breaking the commandment He had given. Jesus kept the Sabbath but not their way.

How did Jesus respond to them? Mark 2:27 “And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” But He did not stop there. Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

What God intended as a Blessing, the Pharisees turned into a Curse. Christ disregarded all these artificial rules and declared that He was the fulfillment of the Day of Rest.

Matthew 11:28-29 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Most important reason – We can’t work for our salvation. We can only trust in Jesus. We rest in His finished work on the cross. That is our rest of salvation. We rest in Him for everything.

Does that mean we don’t do anything as a Christian?

IN THE SABBATH – FIRST WE WORK AND THEN WE REST

IN THE NEW SABBATH – FIRST WE REST AND THEN WE WORK

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