Double Honor (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

DOUBLE HONOR (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on October 6, 2018)

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” (1 Timothy 5:17)

“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” (1Thessalonians 5:12-13)

Double HonorEach year, the month of October has been designated as the Pastor Appreciation Month. I know that may come as a surprise to some of you who thought that October was only about Halloween. Slide over Jason, Freddy, and Chucky! It’s time to make room for us good guys!

But seriously, pastors are among the most unappreciated individuals. Contrary to what people think, it’s not an easy job. Lifeway Research from 2015 listed the following statistics regarding pastors:

  • 84% say they’re on call 24 hours a day.
  • 80% expect conflict in their church.
  • 54% find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming.
  • 53% are often concerned about their family’s financial security.
  • 48% often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle.
  • 21% say their church has unrealistic expectations of them.

Both my wife and I grew up in a pastor’s home and we saw some of these challenges firsthand. We made up our minds that pastoral ministry was not for us. When God called me, we both struggled for a while. Although we love what we do today, it’s still quite challenging. We are very grateful for our church family that appreciates us and finds ways to encourage and support us and our children. It makes ministry a fun journey rather than a grudging duty.

Question: What is your church planning to do for your pastor and his family? Here’s a suggestion: Please don’t just give him a cheap picture frame with a Bible verse or some praying hands statue. Also, no more sending empty cards or gifting some used appliance that you don’t need (someone did that to us years ago). Give them some gift cards, so they can go out for a nice date. Maybe even send them for an overnight getaway all-expense paid. A healthy marriage will be far more beneficial to the church. And, don’t forget the kids! Do something nice for them as well. Any wonder why pastor’s kids go off the deep end? It’s probably due to the lack of encouragement from the church growing up.

Please don’t misunderstand. The office of a pastor is not a higher calling. It’s not superior to being a teacher, doctor, salesman, business owner, law enforcement, landscaper, truckdriver, waiter, secretary, homemaker, etc. I believe that every profession is a calling from God and equally important in the sight of God. Nonetheless, the pastor’s work helps every individual to be spiritually healthy in order to fulfill their various responsibilities. Doesn’t it deserve to be appreciated and encouraged?

When God Calls You by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD CALLS YOU by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

when-god-calls-youIntroduction: It’s time for our message, so turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Mark. For those of you who may not know, we’re in our series on the Life of Christ from all 4 gospels. Now before we begin I do have a confession to make. In the past 2 years since we began this series, I have unintentionally neglected one of those four gospels – the Gospel of Mark. So today we turn to Mark 2 for our message – “WHEN GOD CALLS YOU.”

Mark 2   14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Bridge: How many of y’all remember growing up playing pick up games after school or in the neighborhood? You wanted your name to be called, right? In fact, not having your name called was very embarrassing and painful to say the least.

Context: In this message we will see how Jesus called someone to follow Him who, according to the religious leaders of the day, was unfit to be called. To be more precise, his job made him unfit but according to Jesus He was a perfect fit for God’s kingdom.

Question: There are several calls from God that come in a person’s life. As a Christian, there is the call to discipleship. It’s God’s call to leave all behind and go further with Him? As a Christian, have you heard that call in your life? There’s another call that comes in a Christian’s life – the call to take on a special ministry or work. Don’t misunderstand. This does not necessarily have to be a call to preach. It is a call to join God in doing something to build His kingdom in this world. As a Christian, have you heard that call in your life? But before you get any of these calls, you have to answer the first call that comes in every person’s life – the call to be saved. Have you heard that call? Have you responded to Jesus as your Savior? Are you saved?

This morning we will learn how to respond when God calls you:

I. NATURE OF GOD’S CALL.

14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. People mistakenly assume that this was the first encounter of Jesus with Levi/Matthew. Not necessarily. I believe that Jesus knew Levi/Matthew very well and probably had several conversations with Him.

Let’s back up a little bit and get the whole context starting in verse 13 “Then He went out again by the sea…”

capernaum-aerial

Capernaum Aerial

Background: Where is this “by the sea”? This is Capernaum. As I’ve mentioned before, Nicole and I have been there. It is on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. In ancient times it sat along an important trade route known as the Via Maris (Way of the Sea), which connected Egypt in the South to Syria in the North and Mesopotamia in the East. So people from everywhere passed through Capernaum. Not only that but because of the Sea of Galilee Capernaum was an important port for importing and exporting cargo. This was much more than just a fishing village. It was a big checkpoint

capernaum-ancient

Capernaum Ancient

for customs. This is why, as we will see later on, so many tax collectors/customs officials were there. There was a small Roman garrison in Capernaum. By the way, what else shows up around places like this? Brothels and prostitutes.

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus picked Capernaum to be the base of His early ministry? Why? Because people from everywhere were there, especially the

capernaum-synagogue

Capernaum Synagogue

nonreligious types. 13 “…and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.” Can you picture Jesus preaching to the multitudes along the countryside? Can you picture Him doing some of His greatest miracles there? Can you picture Him walking by the fishing boats and calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him? Can you picture Him teaching at the local synagogue, which was fairly new, built by a centurion whose servant Jesus healed? Can you picture Him walking through the streets of Capernaum and talking to the people?

The point is this – Jesus was not a stranger in Capernaum anymore. People recognized Him everywhere He went. Most of them had heard Him. Many of them knew someone

capernaum-ruins

Capernaum Ruins

in their family or neighborhoods that were healed by Him. Some of them may have even responded positively to His message. I’m going somewhere with this. When it says in verse 14 that Jesus saw Levi/Matthew and called him and he immediately left all, it does not mean that this was a first encounter. I believe that Jesus knew Levi/Matthew very well and probably had several conversations with Him. I believe that Matthew had probably seen firsthand some of His miracles. He had probably gone to hear Him preach many times. This was not a random call to some random person demanding a spontaneous life-long commitment. God doesn’t work that way.

capernaum-street

Capernaum Street

What kind of a call did Jesus give to Levi/Matthew? Was it a call to salvation? I don’t think so because there’s nothing about belief in Jesus. Was it a call to discipleship, to growth in his faith? I don’t think so because discipleship does not mean that you have to quit your job. What kind of a call was this? It was a specific call that Jesus gave only one other time to people He picked to be His disciples. This was a call to a very specific life. Sometimes I’m amazed at how people flippantly talk about responding to God’s call to do this or that. Then they go out and make a mess out of things and return with their tail between their legs. What happened? I don’t know. I guess I misheard.

Here’s the point: Take the time in prayer to discern God’s call in your life. If God is tugging on your heartstrings this morning and you’ve never given your heart to Jesus, the first call you need to respond to is salvation. If you are saved and God is tugging on your heartstrings again, don’t run out and try to start some ministry. You will become a liability. First, examine your heart for any sin that you are ignoring or covering up. Maybe, God’s call for you is to repent. If you are saved, your sins are fessed up, and you still feel God is tugging on your heartstrings, check God’s Word to see if there is some place in your life that you need to be obedient. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not suggesting that unless all the boxes are checked that you cannot follow God’s call in ministry. That will never happen. I’m just saying that we need to discern God’s call before we respond flippantly.

Application: What is God calling you to do? Receive Jesus as Your Savior or repent of some sin or obey some truth from God’s Word or follow Him in lifelong service?

II. CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S CALL.

15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many…”

Background: We don’t know if it were the same day or a few days later but Levi/Matthew must have asked Jesus – “How would you feel if I organize a big feast (as Luke has it) at my place and invite some of my buddies to come? They probably won’t ever go to a synagogue but they might come to hear you. Just want to forewarn you – Some of them are a little rough around the edges.” You can picture a smile come across Jesus’ face as he replied – “Matthew, that’s why I came.” Matthew probably said – “I figured you’d say that.” Can you picture him going all out for this dinner party to invite all his friends to meet Jesus? I wonder if Jesus helped out? I think He did. I can see Him sweeping the floors, wiping down the tables, and even cleaning the fish.

Feast with Tax Collectors and Sinners

Feast with Tax Collectors and Sinners

They came and it was a party like none other. All lost people gathered around the Son of God having a party. What was the result? “…and they followed Him.” We don’t know the actual implications of “followed Him.” It could mean that they got saved and left their old lifestyles. It could mean that that got saved and gave their gifts to support the ministry of Jesus. It could also mean that they literally followed Jesus like Matthew. Tax collectors were among the literate people in ancient times. As you know Matthew wrote the first gospel. I can almost picture him telling his buddies who followed Jesus to take some notes. Is it any wonder the Matthew’s gospel is the most comprehensive of all 4 gospels?!! Matthew’s call was to go and call others.

Here’s the point: God reaches people through people. We are the instruments of His gospel. As a pastor, I may not be able to reach people that you can reach. They won’t listen to me but they will definitely listen to you. There are many people at Clearview who have come because a friend or neighbor invited them.

Application: Do you invite people to meet Jesus? Do you care about the salvation of your friends and neighbors? When was the last time you invited someone to church? Sometimes people are reluctant to come to church. When was the last time you invited someone to come over for a cookout and shared the good news with them in a non threatening manner?

III. OPPOSITION TO GOD’S CALL.

16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

Background: Tax collectors, even though they were Jewish by ethnicity, were out there with the gentiles and the prostitutes. The Romans had established a system of tolls and customs known as “portoria” all over the empire. Instead of wasting money and manpower to collect these tolls, they would farm them out to the highest bidder. Whoever won the bid would pay the amount set by the Roman government and then whatever he collected would be profit. These were the “telonai” or the “toll collectors” or “tax collectors.” You can just imagine how much this would get abused. Of course, they had the support of their tough guys and soldiers if needed. The people hated them and the religious leaders grouped them with robbers and even the Romans regarded them as brothel keepers (pimps). No religious parent in those would like their child to come home and say – “When I grow up, I’m going to be a tax collector.” Is it any wonder that the scribes and the Pharisees were shocked to see Jesus mingling with them?

What was Jesus’ response? 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Jesus was not saying that the religious leaders were the “righteous” who did not need to be saved. He was being sarcastic. The point was – “It is so much easier to convince an outright sinner that he/she needs to be saved than to convince a church going, Bible-toting, so called Christian that he/she is lost.”

Illustration: A man complained about the amount of time his family spent in front of the TV. His children watched cartoons and didn’t do their schoolwork. His wife watched soap operas instead of doing housework. He said, “I am going to fix the problem. I’m going to pulling the plug as soon as the baseball season’s over.”

Unless you are willing to admit that you are a sinner, you are not ready to be saved. Are you lost? What is God calling you to do? Is He calling you to lead your marriage and your home in His way? Is He calling you to some greater task? Did the Holy Spirit bring someone to your mind that you need to bring to Christ

HARD HEADED PEOPLE

You can listen to this and other sermons by clicking here.

HARD HEADED PEOPLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

hardheadedpeople

As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we will be looking at not just one but four passages for our message titled “HARD HEADED PEOPLE.” I know when I said that all of us thought of someone we know who is hard headed. But did you know that all of us to some extent are hard headed?

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Luke 5 4…He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking…10…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Calling of the Disciples

Map of the Calling of the Disciples around Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: We’ve come to that point in our series where Jesus actually began His ministry and He started by calling certain people to follow Him, to be His disciples. One of them was a man by the name of Simon. We know Him as Peter. We all know of Peter. People smile every time his name is mentioned – the first to jump up, speak out, brag, fall, and even repent. And boy, he was hard headed! For some reason we like Peter. Maybe its because he reminds us so much of our own self. When we think of Peter’s calling we only remember the time when Peter and his brother Andrew were by the Sea of Galilee mending their nets and Jesus called them to follow Him. It says that “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” It’s as if there were no second thoughts or hesitations, just immediate and total obedience. I’m sure we’ve heard some wonderful messages on the need to follow Jesus immediately. Only problem – did you know that there are 3 other times that Jesus called Peter?!! Apparently, one call wasn’t enough.

The point is – it took 4 different callings (at least that many are actually recorded in the gospels) before Peter left all and followed Jesus. The message is not just that we are hardheaded people. It is that God is gracious and compassionate more than we deserve. As much as we keep going back, He keeps reaching out to us, as He is right now.

Application: Is God calling you? Has He been knocking on the door of your heart? Are you saved? How many times does He have to keep coming by you?

Let the Holy Spirit open your heart as we look at the 4 callings of Peter:

CALLING #1 – SALVATION

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Background: This was no ordinary calling. This was a salvation calling. This is the first calling in the life of every Christian. Without this calling you cannot have any other calling. How do we know that this was a salvation calling? Because Jesus changed His name. Every time in the Bible God changed someone’s name, it was a reflection of something much greater – Abram became Abraham; Sarai became Sarah; Jacob became Israel; Saul became Paul. Name change implied a deep work of God in a person. It implied a change of identity. Deuteronomy 28:10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.”

Simon PeterSimon meant, “He has heard” or “God has heard.” His new name was going to be Cephas in Aramaic, which meant, “rock.” Rock in Greek was Peter.

When you become a child of God, you take on a new name and a new identity. Now you are called by the name of your Heavenly Father. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Did you also know that one day in heaven we’re all going to get new names? Revelation 2:17 “…To him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” By the way, even Jesus will have a new name – Revelation 3:12 “He who overcomes…I will write on him My new name.

Application: Has God called your name? Has He given you a new name? Are you saved?

Does this mean that Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #2 – SERVICE

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Nicole and I walked around the Sea of Galilee and saw some of the fishing boats and the nets lying on the ground. It was awesome tothink about Jesus walking by that same seashore. Simon and Andrew were not just weekend fisherman or just some common laborers. Historical evidence shows that the fishing industry around Galilee was lucrative. There were not a whole lot of places where you could find freshwater fish. These men were successful businessmen. He came by their workplace. I love workplace ministry – reaching people where they are working. Work is not sinful or evil. It is good.

Galilee Fishing Boats

Galilee Fishing Boats (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

What did He say to them? 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It was a play on words. Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the sea for they were fishers (literally) but now they will be fishers of men (literally). Jesus did not come to make them jobless. Jesus called Simon not just to stop fishing but to start fishing for men. He came to give them new meaning and purpose in their jobs. No longer would it be just fishing but now it is fishing with a whole new purpose.

Being saved does not mean immediately you have to go preach. Jesus did not tell Simon – “Join the synagogue” or “start learning biblical Hebrew.” What it does mean is that now you have a new master, a new boss. Being a Christian is not just coming to church on Sunday mornings and sitting and listening to this man talk. It is to start living our lives within new purpose which is to build God’s kingdom. It can be done through teaching Sunday school or children’s ministry or something in church but it can also extend way beyond the walls of this church. Here the Holy Spirit helps us understand our spiritual gifts and start using them.

Application: Has God shown you His purpose for your life? It will change the way you see your job. It will change the way you see the people you interact with. Just like Peter we too are called to go find people. That’s what the ministries at Clearview are all about – Kindle, CWA, Sports, and First Responders.

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #3 – SUPERNATURAL MIRACLE

Luke 4 38 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house.

Capernaum

Capernaum (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Where did this happen? In Capernaum. In fact, the synagogue is about 50 yards from Peter’s house. Nicole and I were there about three weeks ago.

VIDEO FROM CAPERNAUM 

What happened at Peter’s house? 38 “…But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. Tradition tells us that Luke was a medical doctor and he is the only one who points out that it was a “high fever.” Meaning: this was serious. What was Jesus’s response? 39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. It was a miracle!

There’s a reason why the Holy Spirit allowed this incident to be mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This miracle was not as much for Peter’s mother-in-law as it was for Peter. Jesus had already called him twice but for some reason it did not convince him enough. In short, he was hardheaded. Yeah I’m saved. Yeah He came looking for me. Yeah I have a new purpose in life. But no I am not ready to follow him completely.

There are many Christians like that. Time after time God has called their name but they are still playing it safe. There are still not ready to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Christ. For them, sometimes it requires a miracle. There’s not a single person sitting here who claims to be a Christian who cannot say that God has done a miracle in their life. You prayed for a job and God gave you a job. You prayed for a relationship and God gave you a relationship. You prayed for healing and God gave you healing. You pray for your finances and God opened the gates of heaven and sent you blessing upon blessing. You prayed for spiritual insight and God brought you close to Him. Sadly, it’s still not enough for you.

Application: Did I just describe you? What will it take for God to convince you that He is real? What will it take for God to get your attention? When will you finally acknowledge that He is real and He is powerful and He is calling you trust Him and walk with Him and give your all to Him?

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #4 – SELF REVELATION

Luke 5 1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.

Picture that in your mind – the crowd is literally all over him because they want to hear the word of God but Jesus is looking for someone. Who is he looking for? 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, (I find that very interesting that he called him “master.” He didn’t mean it. Just like we’d talk about Jesus being our Lord but we don’t mean it. By the way, yes you can have Jesus as your Savior and still not have him as your Lord.)

Peter - Big CatchLuke 5 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

What a response! –“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” He finally saw himself for who he really was – just a worthless, hell bound sinner who had been rescued by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Up until that time, he was a good guy, doing the best he can. Now, he was a sinful man saved by the grace of God.

What did Jesus say to him? Verse 10 “…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Now it was the real response.

Invitation: how many times has God been calling you? What is keeping you from responding? What will it take for God to get your attention? Have you responded to his first call to be saved?

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