United by Pastor Abidan Shah

UNITED by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

UnitedIntroduction: Have any of ya’ll ever walked into an establishment like a restaurant where the waiters or waitresses didn’t get along? The meal was good but the atmosphere gave you a heartburn! Have any of you ever been to someone’s house where the family members didn’t get along? The house was beautiful but it was not a home. Have any of you ever attended a church where the members did not get along? They shook your hand but you didn’t feel welcome. They sang but it was not worship. They preached but it was not a message. What was lacking? Unity was lacking. Something else was lacking. God’s blessing was lacking. Disunity negates God’s blessing in a business, in a family, and, especially, in a church. Unity invites God’s blessing.

Psalm 133     1“Behold, how good and how pleasantit isfor brethren to dwell together in unity! 2It islike the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. 3It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.”

Question: How is unity in your life, in your family? Are you promoting unity in this church body or are you eroding it? Are you part of the body of Christ? Are you saved?

Context: The psalm we just read is attributed to King David. Unlike some of his other psalms, this one is kind of unusual. It’s a song of worship but it reads more like a proverb. Although it talks about God, its theme is the importance of unity among God’s people. A few weeks back, when I was praying over what God would want me to preach after we get into the building, he laid this psalm on my heart. Clearview exists to magnify Christ but we cannot do it without unity in our church family. You can also apply this message to your family, your workplace, and your community. 3 things about unity:

I. UNITY IS UNCOMMON. 

1“Behold, how good and how pleasantit isfor brethren to dwell together in unity!

Background:The reason David says this is because it is natural for brethren not to dwell together in unity. Ever since the beginning of time, brothers have been fighting. Cain killed his brother Abel. Esau wanted to kill his brother Jacob. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. If it was David who wrote this psalm, his brothers hated him as well. It probably began when Samuel the prophet came to their home to anoint the next king of Israel. Samuel thought the oldest one, Eliab, would be the king but God told him in 1 Samuel 16:7“. . . Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.For the LORDdoes notseeas man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Six more brothers passed by in front of Samuel but God kept refusing them. Finally, David was called in from the field where he was keeping sheep. When he walked in, God said to Samuel in I Samuel 16:12“. . . Arise, anoint him; for thisisthe one!” Question: How do you think the brothers felt? We find the answer in the next chapter with the Goliath incident. David’s three brothers (Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah) were on the battlefield and their father, Jesse, sent David with some food for them. When David got there, he saw Goliath the Philistine giant taunting the armies of Israel. David was filled with the Spirit of God and he asked the soldiers why somebody wasn’t doing something! Listen to what happens next – 1 Samuel 17:28Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”Wow! Talk about talking down to someone! Talk about resentment and bitterness! Talk about judging someone! When David wrote those words, his eyes probably welled up with tears.

Application:Did you grow up in a home where people didn’t get along? Did you grow up in a situation where harsh words were spoken, grudges were held, and motives were judged? Don’t think that you are the only one. Disunity is natural. You have to work at unity. By the way, people bring the same attitudes to church and they spread the disease of disunity.

II. UNITY IS SACRED. 

2“It islike the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.”

Background:To explain what unity feels like, David draws a word picture for us from the time of Moses and Aaron. It comes from Exodus 30   30And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that theymay minister to Me as priests. 31“And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. 32It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you makeany otherlike it, according to its composition. It isholy, andit shall be holy to you. 33Whoever compoundsanylike it, or whoever putsanyof it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.”In the verses following, God gave the exact concoction of this sacred oil and again warned against using it for anything else. In other words, this was a very sacred oil. Any abuse or corruption was punishable by banishment. Then in Leviticus 8the actual ceremony did take place when Aaron was anointed with oil. At the end of this 8-day ceremony, it says in Leviticus 9   23 “. . . Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, 24and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people sawit,they shouted and fell on their faces.”

Why did David use this imagery to describe unity? Just like the sacred oil, unity should also be treated as sacred. Any abuse and corruption should also be punishable by banishment. Don’t mess with unity. There are people in church who say things and do things that are detrimental to the unity of the church family. We should think twice about doing that! Don’t misunderstand: We can have different opinions and ideas but let nothing, except for the truth of the Word of God, divide us.

Application:How sacredly do you guard the unity in this church family? How sacredly do you guard unity in your family, your workplace, your community?

III. UNITY IS A MUST FOR GOD’S BLESSING. 

It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.”

Background: Once again, David draws a word picture for us but this time from the climate and the land. Dew was and still is absolutely essential in Israel. From April to October there is little rain. So, dew is absolutely essential for the vegetation. What is dew? It is moisture condensed from the warm air by the cold ground. Mount Hermon sits on the North of Israel and its about 9000 ft high. The dew from Mount Hermon flows down and brings life to places all over Israel. It is the source of life. Without it, even Mount Zion would be barren. What is David saying? Just like the dew from Mount Hermon brings life and sustenance to the mountains of sacred Zion, so also unity gives God the opportunity to bless his people. The blessing is “life forevermore.” Show me a church that is lifeless and I will show you a church lacking in unity. Show me a family that is lifeless and I will show you a family where relationships are fractured. Show me a workplace, neighbourhood, or community that is lifeless and I will show you a place that does not have unity.

Application:Is there lifelessness where you are? Are relationships dying? Is growth struggling? Unity is the problem.

So, how do you achieve unity?

  1. Be discerning. Don’t get sucked into someone’s wrong agenda.
  2. Know the difference between unity and uniformity. Just look around.
  3. Love fervently. It will cover a multitude of sins.
  4. Focus on our common bond. What matters.

Ephesians 4    1“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,2with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,3endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4There isone body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;6one God and Father of all, whoisabove all, and through all, and in you all.”

Do you have this bond? Are you saved?

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 3)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas season

We are in a mini series from the Book of Romans titled – HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. Christmas can be a time that warms your heart, brings all things in perspective, draws you closer to your loved ones or it can be a time that you dread to see on the calendar, a time of stress and conflicts, a time that you’re glad to see it over. 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 see two messages in this series—“How to Have Love Without Hypocrisy” and “How to Hate Evil and Cling to Good.” This morning we come to the third message – “How to show honor to others.” Listen to verse 10 – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” There is so much in that one verse but one word stands above the rest: HONOR. We hear a lot about honor these days in movies and books: Honor in battle, honor for your ancestors, honor killing. All these are honors in this life but the Bible’s idea of honor goes deeper and is eternal. To properly understand honor, you have to go back to Romans 1-11.

Throughout this series I have been emphasizing the point that the Book of Romans is made up of 2 halves: the first half (Romans 1-11) is doctrine and the second half (Romans 12-16) is application. If you want to apply Romans 12-16 correctly, you have to go back to Romans 1-11. In fact, Romans 1-11 hold the key to the proper application of Romans 12-16. In other words, “your Doctrine holds the key to your Application.” What you believe (doctrine) should and does affect how you behave (application). People behave poorly because they believe poorly.

Application: We desperately need honor in our lives today. A husband should honor his wife. A wife should honor her husband. Children should honor their parents. Parents should in a way honor their children. Church members should honor one another.

So how do we bring honor in our lives?

I. DISHONOR IS A TRAIT OF THE DEBASED MIND. 

In Romans 1 and 2 Paul describes the debased mind of those who reject God and suppress the truth of God. These are people who refuse to honor God. In turn they don’t honor people. Listen to Romans 1 and verse 29 onwards “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, (dishonoring ones body and the body of someone else), wickedness, covetousness (dishonoring someone’s success); maliciousness; full of envy, (dishonor in our heart towards someone who is something we’re not or has something we don’t.) murder, (dishonor enough to kill) strife, deceit, (dishonor your word) evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, (dishonor someone’s confidence) 30 backbiters, (dishonor someone behind their back) haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, (Instead of “honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with promise.” – Ephesians 6:2, 3); undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful”

The people with a debased mind not only dishonor God but they have no qualms about dishonoring fellow human beings.

What is their end? Listen to Romans 2 verse 7 onwards God will give “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;  8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,” 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;  10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Meaning: In the end, they die with dishonor.

I think of 2 examples in the New Testament – one John the Baptist and the other Judas Iscariot. John preached the truth and lived a life pure and holy before God. In the end he was cruelly beheaded. What did Jesus say about him? In Matt. 11:11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist;

Compare that with Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. What did Jesus say about him? In Matt. 26:4 “…It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Not only did he dishonor His Master but he died a dishonorable death.

True honor comes when you honor God in your life. Now you will honor self and in the process honor others.

Application: Does your life reflect the traits of the debased mind? Are you dishonoring those who are around you with your words and your actions?

–       In many marriages, the husband loves his wife and the wife loves her husband. But, during the low times, rude and crude words are said that should not be said. Now the marriage just teeters along.

–       In many families, brother loves brother and sister loves sister. But, during the low times, disrespectful and hateful behaviors have forever crippled that relationship.

–       In many churches, people love each other, know that they are all part of God’s family, and are working to win souls. But, during the low times, they have said things and done things that should have never happened. Now the church just crawls along at a snails pace with hurt feelings and leery Christians.

Every time we as Christians act in these ways we are reverting to the barbaric, brutish, heathenish, animalistic behavior of the godless and the god haters.

II. THE HOLY SPIRIT CHANGES OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS EACH OTHER.

10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love

Background: The phrase “kindly affectionate” has been misunderstood many times. The word kindly is not as in being nice and kind. It is an old English word that is used in the sense of kin, which means “family love.” The Greek is very simple here. It means family bond. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit of God changes our attitude towards each other. If you are saved, you are a child of God just like I am. If you are not saved, you are a potential child of God. Either we are already part of the family or we are fixing to be.

Romans 8:15-17  15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we (there is a switch in number from singular to plural) cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (not just child of God or son/daughter of God) 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,

Don’t be mean to your brothers and sisters or potential brothers and sisters.

For e.g. One time I was mad at my brother and decided to win my parents over to my side. I made my case like Perry Mason. In the end, they defended him. Their statement to me was – “We just want to see you both getting along.”

God is not pleased when there is division in the family.

There’s more – Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love. It is the word “Philadelphia” = the city of brotherly love. (Meaning: have family love like brothers)

For e.g. My brother and I fought but when it came to someone from the outside, we were very protective towards each other.

Brotherly love is protective. It is deep. It does not change with circumstances.

Application: Husbands – how do you see your wife? Wives – how do you see your husband? Children – how do you see your parents? Parents – how do you see your children? Church members – how do you see one another?

How quickly we tend to forget that the other person is the child of the King and we are to love them with a brotherly/sisterly love!

III. WE ARE TO OUTDO EACH OTHER IN SHOWING HONOR.

10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (literally: in honor outdo each other)

Meaning: Compete with each other in who shows more honor, not who gets more honor.

Our society is either obsessed with receiving honor or it doesn’t know who to give honor. We get upset when people don’t open the door for us or don’t tell us thanks or don’t acknowledge us. Sometimes, we bring that same attitude into our homes and our church. “If you won’t treat me like I should be, then I won’t treat you well either.”

How much we need honor in our lives! There are times when we may not feel in love, as we should, we may feel stressed, tired, and overwhelmed. We are tempted to do things and say things that are wrong. It is a sense of Honor for the other person that fills the gap until the feeling returns. It is the safety net that guards us from the hitting the ground, when we are not at our best. It is the center pole that keeps the tent of love from collapsing.

Let’s start with the way we talk to each other. In his commentary on James, Warren Wiersbe suggests 12 words that can transform our lives: Please, Thank You, I’m sorry, I love you, and I’m praying for you.

When the Holy Spirit fills your heart, what will pour out will be honor towards God and others.

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