New Beginning by Dr. Abidan Shah

NEW BEGINNING by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: We’ve had quite a few babies at Clearview in 2020. Each of them is special and beautiful. In a world full of chaos and ugliness, a baby can quickly bring a smile to your face. Babies are a reminder that God is not through with our world. But, it’s not easy to have a baby. They are completely helpless and dependent on others. They cannot do anything to support their life. Someone else has to feed and change them. When Nicole’s dad was a pastor, he had a sign over their church nursery, “We shall not all asleep, but we shall all be changed” from 1 Corinthians 15:51. In our series on 1 Peter, we come to chapter 2 where Peter talks about a new beginning like a newborn baby. Main point: During times of trials, fear can cause us to take refuge in our old nature and act the fool. Instead, we should cast aside the old, take on the mind of a newborn, and be totally dependent on the gracious care of God.

1 Peter 2       1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

Context: Once again, we need to remember that Peter was writing to Jewish and Gentile background believers in northern Asia Minor who were facing rejection from their own and social discrimination from their neighbors because of their faith in Christ. Peter knew that times of trials and stress can bring out the best or the worst in a person. Just think about how he reacted on the night Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. First, he struck at the high priest servant and cut off his ear. Jesus had to stop and heal him. Then, he followed Jesus at a distance and ended up denying him 3 times with cursings! These believers in Asia Minor were no different. Pressure was bringing out the worst in them. Listen to the list of things that Peter told them to lay aside in verse 1—“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.” The concept of “laying aside” means “to get rid of” or “to strip away” from the Greek word “apotithemi” = apo (away from) and tithemi (set). This command is found several times in the New Testament: Romans 13:12 “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.” Colossians 3:8 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth”; James 1:21 “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”; Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Principle: It’s alright to pray for God’s help in turning the channel of sin, but the remote is in your hands.

What is it that Peter wanted them to cast aside or get rid of specifically?

  • “kakia,” which is badness, wickedness, doing harm to others;
  • “dolos,” which is deceit, falsifying information, basically lying;
  • “hupokrisis,” which is play acting, pretending, just a show;
  • “phthonos,” which is envy = wanting what someone else has; and,
  • “katalalos,” which is evil speaking, slander, backstabbing.

Application: In your trials, have these old habits and behaviors raised their ugly heads in your life? These are the tools of the Enemy and they have no place in a believer’s life. Pray right now and ask God to give you the strength to cast them aside.

Next verse 2 “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word…” Here’s a very important principle: If you don’t replace what has been cast aside with what is good and beneficial, those old things will return and often with a vengeance. Jesus explained this best in Luke 11      24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” It is the old Aristotelian principle from physics – “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Application: Resolutions to stop harmful things have to be balanced with resolutions to start helpful and holy things. Have you done that?

But there’s so much more here in the next 2 verses: 2 “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord isgracious.” There are 4 things here, first 2 are easily understood but the last 2 needs some deeper study.

  1. Attitude – “as newborn babes” means helpless, completely dependent, single minded.
  2. Purpose – “that you may grow thereby” means spiritual growth and maturity.
  3. Content – “desire the pure milk of the word”
  4. Motivation – 3 “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is”

3. Content – Typically, people have interpreted the statement “desire the pure milk of the word” to be “get into the Bible,” “listen to biblical preaching,” and “join a small group bible study.” None of that is wrong but that is not what Peter had in mind. The word he used in the Greek is “logikon gala.” If he had said “gala logou” from logos, then it’s the milk of the word. The word “logikon is not “logos.” What does the word “logikon” mean? It means “rational” or “reasonable.” Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (logikein latreian). In this context, it means “to desire the appropriate milk.” In other words, Christians should seek after and desire what is proper and appropriate for them as believers. In every situation, there is a proper and an improper for us as believers – as 1 Peter 1:2 “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” We are to choose that which is proper for us as believers. If you don’t, you will behave inappropriately, especially during trials.

Application: Have you acted properly during times of trials? Did your actions match your confession?

4. Motivation – 3 “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Here, Peter is quoting from Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Someone might say that this seems like a common statement. Does it have to be from Psalm 34? In 1 Peter 3:10-12, Peter quotes a larger section from Psalm 34. In fact, according to a scholar (Bornemann), there are 7 quotations and 70 allusions to Psalm 34 in 1 Peter. I think that is a little exaggerated. Nonetheless, if we’re going to understand the depth of what Peter really meant in this letter, we have to understand Psalm 34 a little better.

Psalm 34 “A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.” At one time, scholars doubted these titles, but more and more think that they are original. What is the context of Psalm 34? This incident took place after Jonathan confirmed David’s fear that Saul wanted to kill him. If you remember, David and Jonathan made a covenant with each other, and David fled for his life. He came to Ahimelech the priest and got some bread from him, but one of Saul’s spies saw him there. Now, David was afraid. He needed some weapons. The sword of Goliath was there in the Tabernacle. The priest offered it to David and he took it! But, then he did something completely foolish. He fled to Achish, king of Gath, king of the Philistines. Of course, they recognized him – 1 Samuel 21    12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? 15 Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

Psalm 34        1 “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. 6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heardhim, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessedis the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” The rest we will see when we come to I Peter 3.

During times of trials, fear can cause us to take refuge in our old nature and act the fool. Instead, we should cast aside the old, take on the mind of a newborn, and be totally dependent on the gracious care of God.

By the way, there is something deeper here – 3 “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord isgracious.” The word for gracious is “Chrestos,” which is just one vowel away from “Christos.” What Peter was telling those believers in Asia Minor who were going through a difficult time was not to fear and act the fool. Instead, crave Christ and his life.

Invitation: How much do you desire Christ? Have you acted the fool? Do you know Christ as your Savior and King? Are you saved?

WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT?

WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Listen to this sermon on iTunes or on the Clearview website.

What Is Life All About-This morning we are in the second message in our brand new series on the life of Christ titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” So many of you have shared with me how much you enjoyed the first message! Thank You! Today’s message is on John 1:1-5 called, “WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT?” Ever wondered that? Who are we? Where did we come from? What are we doing here? Where are we going? These 5 verses hold the answer to all those questions.

John 1:1-5   1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Overall Background: When someone gets saved or they are a new believer, which book do we suggest they read? The Gospel of John. Why? Because it is simple to understand; it is basic; it is clear. Although that’s true, it’s not the whole truth. This book is also very deep, just like the verses we just read. A.W. Tozer said, “John is so clear that you can see through it but it’s so deep that you cannot see clear through it.” Someone else said, “John’s gospel is like a pool in which a child can wade safely but an elephant can drown.” John is both simple and profound. How is that? Most scholars agree that John was the last one to write his gospel. More than likely, all the other disciples are gone. He is much older when the Holy Spirit inspires him to write his account of Jesus. Unlike the others, John has the benefit of hindsight. He’s able to look back at the same incidents but with some very mature eyes.

For e.g. Have you ever talked to an elderly person – grandfather, grandmother, or an elderly parent. They seem to talk in very simple words, almost like a child, but if you listen carefully, they’re full of great wisdom.

So also John, the words on the surface are simple but the wisdom below is very profound. In his preamble to his gospel, John is not telling us just the life of Jesus but he is telling us that Jesus is life.

Application: This morning – how is your life? Does your life seem empty? Does it seem meaningless? Are you afraid of what is waiting around the corner? Listen to the Holy Spirit. If you do not have Jesus in your life, this is the day.

3 important points about life we will see in these 5 verses:

I. THE DESIGN OF LIFE – Who Came Up With Life?

Listen to the first 3 words of John 1:1 In the beginning…”

Background: Why did John begin his gospel with those words? He is taking us back to Genesis 1:1“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He starts with “In the beginning” to remind us that we had a beginning. We had a starting point. We are not infinite. We are finite. We are not the Masters of the Universe. We are simply the creation.

Every morning in my devotion time, I tell God, “You are the God who made the heavens and the earth. I’m nothing but dust and ashes. I am just a very small particle of your creation. Every breath is a gift from you. So I thank you and humbly submit myself to you!” Whew! What a weight of my shoulder! Most of us are trying to play god in our own lives or in the lives of others. Maybe it’s time to vacate that throne and let God be God.

But John has something more in mind. Listen again to vs. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”We know that John is referring to Jesus but why did he use the word “Word” to describe Him? The Greek word for “Word” is “logos.” This is the same word from which we get our word logic and other combination words like – Theology, Biology, Zoology, Planet Earth 2Geology, etc.To understand what John is talking about we have to go back to Genesis 1 and locate this “logos.” 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Now listen carefully 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night…6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…8 And God called the firmament Heaven… Every time you read “God said” or “God called,” it’s Jesus.

But there’s more. Listen to verse 2 He was in the beginning with God. Didn’t he just say that? John is actually taking us past the curtain of time into eternity. He is taking us into the council chamber of God. Before God decided to create the heavens and the earth, a council was held between the Father, Son, and Spirit. In this council every detail was laid out as to what would happen. I Peter 1:20says, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” Ephesians 1:4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Again, Revelation 13:8 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Why does John bring this up? Jesus was definitely the Promised Messiah, the Perfect Lamb of God, the Crucified Savior, the Resurrected Christ, and the Coming King. All that is true but there’s something even greater about Him – He was on the planning committee for all of it. He designed life itself. He was not just playing a part but He was also the conductor. Jesus is so much greater than you think.

Some people are overwhelmed with life and frustrated with life and given up on life. I’m here to tell you that when you have Jesus, you have the Designer of Life. John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,” I don’t know about you but my friend designed this world and life itself. He will take care of me.

For e.g. In India trains are everything. Millions of people travel by train every day. You have to get reservations months or weeks in advance. You can get a ticket but to have a reservation is different. One time I was travelling by train with my dad. My dad told me this train is packed, we need to be in the first class but we don’t have a reservation. People try that and they get arrested. Here we’re sitting in first class with our entire luggage and I’m thinking, we’re going to jail. Amazingly, my dad was not that worried. When my dad was in his heyday of ministry, he would travel everywhere by train for revivals and crusades. The conductor started coming and all I could think was – “We’re getting ready to do time!” When he saw my dad, a big smile came on his face – “Sir, I didn’t know you were on this train. What an honor!” My dad whispered to him our predicament and he said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of that. My dad said to me – “He was my student in school. If I hadn’t helped him, he would have never passed math. I saw his name on the board.” All I could think was “Thank goodness you didn’t fail him!”

Application: Do you know the Designer of life? As the song goes – “He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands. He’s got you and me brother in His hands.” What is eating your joy this morning? If you know Jesus, you have the conductor for a best friend.

II. THE SOURCE OF LIFE – Who has Blessed us with Every Good thing? 

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Background: John is not done with this. Jesus is not only the designer but He’s also the creator of everything. Go back to Genesis 1 again verse 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear…11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass…14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens…20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth…26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…

Bottom Line: Jesus made it all. His hand print is on every single thing. As the old hymn goes: “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.”

The Atheist can go around saying – “Nothing times Nobody equals Everything.” I say to that what Adrian Rogers said – “You have room to rent upstairs, unfurnished.”

But now there’s something more in verse 4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

ViolinWhat is John talking about? Some people have taken that metaphor of life and applied it to the light of salvation. Although that’s true and we will see that a little later in John, but here it is referring to the light of God that is in every human being. Unlike animals, we were created in the image of God. Hence we have the ability to love, reason, and create. Aristotle did not believe in the Living God but he wrote powerful works on Philosophy, Logic, and Rhetoric. Edgar Allan Poe claimed that “all religion … is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.” But he was a tremendous writer. That’s why you can turn on the radio and hear some beautiful lyrics and songs on the radio.

Who is the source of all this creativity, talent, and imagination? It is Jesus.

Sadly, what human beings have done is taken the light of God and instead of shining it back on Him, they have turned the spotlight back on themselves. They claim, “I am a self made man. No one’s ever helped me.” Are you sure about that?

Application: Do you give Jesus the glory for what He has done for you? Do you give Him the thanks for how much He has blessed you? Where is Jesus in your life?

III. GOOD NEWS OF LIFE – Who is winning in this life?

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Background: Now we hear about a new concept – “darkness.” John does not go into detail. It is assumed that the listener knows that darkness has corrupted everything. It has torn the original design. Human beings have used God’s light to their own wicked imaginations. But John does not waste time discussing the darkness. He says, “the light has already come and it is shining brightly.

What’s more? The translation says – and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Actually the translation should be “overtake it.”As I John 2:8 says, “A new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

Every week someone asks me – “Do you think the world is coming to an end?” or “Isn’t it getting worse and worse?” I’m here to tell you – “The Light is winning. Jesus is winning.” Isaac Watts wrote his famous hymn – Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does its successive journeys run; his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.” Meaning: Your darkness may run out but His light will keep shining brighter and brighter.

Do you know Him? Jesus is Life.

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