The Sin-Forgiver by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE SIN-FORGIVER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

The Sin Forgiver

Introduction: A man and his wife pulled into a gas station back in the days of full service stations. The young attendant got the pump going and then washed the windshield. When he finished, the man leaned out and yelled, “It’s still dirty. Wash it again.” “Yes Sir” said the attendant and washed it a second time, looking closely for any bugs and dirt he might have missed. When he finished, the man leaned out again and yelled loudly, “Don’t you know how to wash a windshield! Do it again!” So he did it again a third time but he couldn’t find anything. Now the man was furious – “I’ve had enough of this. I’m talking to your boss. You’re the lousiest windshield washer I’ve ever seen!” As he was about to get out, his wife reached over, removed his glasses, wiped them down with a tissue, and put them back on his face. Needless to say, the windshield was spotless. Many times people view others through their own dirty glasses. They did that to Jesus but he saw through their sinfulness. After all, he was and is the great SIN-FORGIVER.

Mark 2   1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Question: Can you see God working or are the smudges of your sinful hearts keeping you from seeing Jesus? Are you like the men who were willing to tear down the roof to bring their friend to Jesus or are you like the scribes who could only sit back and cast doubts at Jesus? What do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe that he was and is God who has the power to forgive sins? Are you saved?

Context: Let’s go back to verse 1 “And again He entered Capernaum after some days and it was heard that He was in the house. Nicole and I have been to Capernaum. Let me say a word about the houses back then. The front door would actually lead into a courtyard first, which then led to several rooms around the courtyard. The rooms were single-storey with walls made out of basalt, a black volcanic rock. Verse 2 “Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door.” More than likely Jesus went into one of the larger rooms of the house and it not only filled up that room but also the courtyard and out the door. You could say that it was a full house! Who were these people? Remember, Capernaum was a port town on the Northwest shores of the Sea of Galilee from where boats would go in and out with cargo. It also sat along an important trade route known as the Via Maris (Way of the Sea), which connected Egypt in the South to Syria inthe North and Mesopotamia in the East. People from all over came there – business owners, Roman soldiers,

politicians, religious teachers, tax collectors, and, even prostitutes. Remember, this is where Jesus called Matthew the tax collector and Peter, Andrew, James, and John to leave their fishing business and follow him. Why were these people crowded around Jesus? 2 “…And He preached the word to them. They were hungry for the truth of God. Are you?

3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was…” Apparently, four guys were trying to get their friend, father, or brother to Jesus but couldn’t get through the crowd. So they climbed up the stairway in the courtyard to the rooftop, somehow without dropping that man! 4 “…So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.” The roofs were usually flat and made out of wooden beams and thatched with reeds, sticks, and smaller branches, followed by a matted layer of thorns, and then a layer of a few inches thick of clay. The roof had to be pretty sturdy because it was used for working, drying fruits, and even sleeping during the hot summer nights. When it says that these men “broke through the roof,” it was much more than removing a few sticks and pulling aside a few pieces of hay. They did some damage to this roof! You can see the mud and branches falling through the rafters. I can imagine the people of the house trying to get to these four through the crowd to stop them but these fellows were determined. They probably tore a good bit before anybody could get to them. I can imagine these guys telling the owner – “We promise we’ll fix it.” You can almost see the owner shaking his head, “I made a mistake inviting Jesus to my house.”

Let me say a quick word – “Ministry can be messy. Ministry can be costly.” Some churches get so bent out of shape over the scratches on the door, chair marks on the walls, and stains on the carpet. Get over it. I’ve seen many pristine, neat, clean, and empty churches. This gets worse when it comes to spiritual and emotional scratches, dents, and stains but it’s part of a growing work!

Listen to verse 5 “When Jesus saw their faith…” In other words, Jesus was impressed by the faith of these guys. Jesus was amazed that these men were willing to carry their friend all the way to the rooftop, tear it up, and face the consequences. Why? Because they believed it would be worth it if their friend could just get to Jesus. He could’ve stopped them at any time but what a perfect object lesson to the business owners, soldiers, sailors, tax collectors, and prostitutes – “Are you this desperate to come to me?

Application: How much do you trust Jesus? Would Jesus be impressed by your faith? Let’s go a step further – What would happen if we would be this passionate and full of faith when it came to our friends? One reason we don’t do much when it comes to leading our friends to Christ is because we don’t have the faith that Jesus can change their lives. Faith is essential to bringing people to Christ. Listen to Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

There is something more important here. Verse 5 “…He (Jesus) said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” This is a really odd statement by Jesus. Why did Jesus say that? Was it because this man had been paralyzed because of some sin? Was it because Jesus knew the doubt in the minds and hearts of the scribes? It could be but I think there is a third option. Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven is because he knew that the man needed something more than just physical healing. He needed spiritual healing.

Application: All week long I get calls, texts, and Facebook messages from people, asking me to pray for someone going through some pain, suffering, or need and add them to our prayer list. I do pray for them and we do add them to our prayer list. Having said that, the first thing I pray for is their spiritual need. Does that person know Christ? If they do, then are they walking with Christ? If they don’t know Christ or they do know Christ but are not walking with him, I pray that God will not alleviate their pain, suffering, and need until they are where they need to be with him. C.S. Lewis in his classic book “The Problem of Pain” said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” If you’re going through some suffering right now, ask God what is he trying to say to you. Don’t misunderstand. He is not the author of evil but he will use it to bring about something good.

But there’s a greater issue here. Listen to verse 8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? Jesus did not ask, “Which is easier to do?” but “Which is easier to say?” It is easy to say “Your sins are forgiven” but its hard to say “Arise and walk” because it can be verified. They were reasoning against the “Reason of the Universe,” the One who created all Logic! 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Let me remind you – the greater miracle is not the one that can be proved but the one that cannot be proved. Forgiveness of Sins has to be taken by faith. You have to believe that Jesus is God who has the power to forgive sins.

What do you believe about Jesus? Is he God who has the power to forgive sins?

Which one are you? The four men of faith on the roof or the scribes without faith under the roof.

Just like the man with the smudged glasses, is the sin of disbelief clouding your view of Jesus?

Sin is the paralysis of the soul. Only Jesus can set you free.

When God Forgives by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD FORGIVES by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodforgivesIntroduction: We have reached the 6th message in this series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today’s message is titled “When God Forgives.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is probably the hardest line in the Lord’s Prayer, if not the whole Bible. “God – show me the same mercy that I show others.” Just when we are tempted to justify and rationalize our bitterness, resentment, grudge, and spite against someone, Jesus comes back with a P.S. (Post script) in 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Why did Jesus feel that it was necessary to add this comment? Because Jesus knew the human heart. He knew that this petition would be ignored, compromised, altered, and, flat out, disobeyed. R.T. Kendall said – “this petition has made liars out of more people than any document in human history!”

Here are some questions: Is there unforgiveness in your heart? Who in your life deserves to pay for what they’ve done to you? Do you understand the forgiveness that has come to you through Jesus Christ? Are you saved? It is hard as it is to forgive others as a Christian, but it’s so much harder to forgive when you haven’t received God’s grace.

2 things we will consider in this message on forgiveness and my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will fill your heart with forgiveness – from God and towards others.

I. THE DEBT OF SIN 

12 “And forgive us our debts…”

Background: What is interesting is that when we look at the parallel passage in Luke 11:4 on the Lord’s Prayer, it says, “And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Here we find the words sin and debt used interchangeably. To complicate matters, the P.S. in Matthew 6 says, 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Here we find another Greek word used for sin. Some of you may be thinking – “I don’t care about any of this. Just preach to me on forgiveness.” These things matter because when our young people go off to their colleges, these things are thrown into their faces and they’re told – “your Bible has contradictions. How do you know what Jesus really said?” We have an obligation to give them solid answers so that their faith may not be shaken.

So what’s the answer? Keep in mind that Jesus preached in Aramaic and more than likely He used the Aramaic term “hob,” which can be translated as both debt and sin. Matthew is directed more towards the Jewish people, who understand sin as debt but Luke is towards the Greek audience who don’t have the same understanding of sin.

Why would sin as debt connect with the Jewish people? When we study the concept of sin in the Bible, we find some powerful metaphors. In early times, sin was described as a stain that had to be washed. If you remember the prayer of David in Psalm 51:2 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.” Then there was the idea of sin as a burden that had to be lifted. Again, David writes in Psalm 38:4 “For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” There are many more but these are the two main ones. By the time of Jesus, another metaphor had become prominent – sin was being referred to as a debt that had to be paid back. Where did this come from? You see it all over the book of Isaiah. If you remember, the people of Judah had rebelled against God. You could say that they had become spiritually bankrupt and God offered them a deal. Isaiah 1   18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword…” What was their answer? No deal. We’ll be fine. God sent the Babylonians against them who dragged them into exile and they lost their land, Jerusalem, and the temple. Now they were in debtor’s prison.

But God showed Isaiah the future and said in 40:2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” Meaning: God not only retrieved His sin debt from His people but He charged them two-fold. That seems so unfair! Why would God make them pay double for their sins? He didn’t. By the way, can we pay for our sins? No. They were disciplined for their sins but they didn’t pay for their sin. Who did? Isaiah 53   4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Here’s the point: The Jewish people didn’t pay their debt but the Messiah would one day. What could they do? Isaiah 55   1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.” The Jewish people knew that they were feeding on God’s nourishment at the Messiah’s expense. I’m not suggesting that all of them realized that but they were supposed to. Isn’t it beautiful how Jesus picks up on this very imagery and reminds them that their very existence was by the grace of God?!

Here’s the point: Sin is a debt that none of us can repay. It cannot be written off because that would compromise the holiness of God. Someone had to pay it and that someone was Jesus. Like that old song – “He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song Amazing Grace Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”

Application: Has your sin debt been wiped clean? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Have you received the gift of God? Do you realize what Christ went through to pay your debt of sin?

II. THE CANCELLATION OF DEBTS 

12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Background: While the first part of the petition has zero problems, the second part – “as we forgive our debtors” or as Luke puts it “For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” – this is where the problem comes in. Is Jesus implying that our forgiveness from God is contingent/dependent on our forgiveness of others? Just when we try to move along to the next topic, Jesus drags us back in with the P.S. – 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Does this mean that we have to forgive others before we can receive God’s forgiveness?” “Will God hold back his forgiveness towards us until we forgive others?” Typically, conservative scholars and commentators try to make sure that we don’t make forgiveness of others a condition to receive God’s forgiveness because that would remove grace out of the picture and make salvation “work-based.” So, they do all kinds of hermeneutical gymnastics to prove that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said.

What did Jesus mean? To understand what Jesus meant we have to understand the context in which He said those words. To start with, the idea that God’s forgiveness for us is somehow connected to our forgiveness for others was nothing new among the Jewish people in the time of Jesus. In fact, a Jewish wise man, scribe named Ben Sira wrote two centuries before Christ – “If you forgive someone who has wronged you, your sins will be forgiven when you pray. You cannot expect the Lord to pardon you while you are holding a grudge against someone else.” The Jewish people didn’t have a problem with what Jesus said because it was not about eternal forgiveness but temporal. It was not about judicial forgiveness but relational.

Agriculture in Israel1

Agriculture in Israel1 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Agriculture in Israel2

Agriculture in Israel2 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

To understand this we need to maintain the debt metaphor that Jesus used. Most of the Jewish people at the time were under heavy debt. They could not survive without borrowing money at high interest rates. If there was a bad harvest, drought, illness, death, it was pretty much over. To make matters worse, the creditor could change the terms and it would become even worse. God in His word had established certain restrictions on usury. Exodus 22   25 “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious. So also, God had instituted the Year of the Jubilee, every 49th or 50th year. Leviticus 25   13 “In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. Meaning: You have someone’s land because they couldn’t pay. You made a lot of money out of that but now return it so that family can have a chance to stand again. 14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another… Meaning: You still have your wealth. Your family can buy more but don’t be mean.

Bottom line: You have to forgive their debt:

  • Regardless of how you feel
  • Regardless of whether or not they’ve asked you to
  • Regardless of how much they owe you
  • Regardless of how much you had planned on doing with what they owed you
Agriculture in Israel3

Agriculture in Israel3 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

What if you refuse to forgive their debt? 17 …but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. 18 “So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety. If you refuse to forgive their debt –

  • You will not dwell in the land in safety
  • The land will not yield its fruit
  • You will not eat your fill
  • And you will not dwell their in safety

Here’s the point: This petition is not about going to heaven. That has been covered under our judicial forgiveness. This petition is about how you live on earth. It has to do with relational forgiveness. This has to do with God’s blessing in your life. If you refuse to show mercy to others in this life, God will not show mercy to you in this life.

Whose debt do you need to cancel today? Who has failed to pay up to you?

This is so hard because we judge ourselves by our motives and others by their actions.

By the way, you don’t have to go far to find these people. They are right around you.

Let me warn you – it matters how you cancel their debts. Don’t go and tell people – “I forgive you” – unless they need to hear that. Most of the times when people do that, they are using forgiveness as a club.

Jesus gave the best demonstration of debt cancellation on the cross. Luke 23 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

Anger Management Part Four

ANGER MANAGEMENT – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

anger4Introduction: Final message in our miniseries called “Anger Management” from the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve never heard so many positive and funny comments about any series than this one! Once again, this is not for any of us here but for a friend who has anger issues! Were listening for them, correct?!!

Matthew 5 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Overall Background: 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause…” Last weekend we learned how many times our anger is without a cause. We get angry when we get rejected, when we are stressed, and when we are exposed to the truth about our selves.

Illustration: Like the man who burst into the doctor’s office, angry as anything. The receptionist tried to calm him down. Somebody stole my wig during the surgery and left this disgusting thing instead. The doctor comes out and calmly holds up two fingers on one side and asks, ‘How many fingers am I holding up?’ Then he holds them up on the other side and asks the same. The man gives the right answer. Doctor replies: “That means your cataract surgery was successful.”

Anger without a cause is a by-product of a false view of our selves. We need our eyes to be opened to the truth. Only the Holy Spirit through God’s Word can open our eyes to our true self and help us to have the right kind of anger. If anger is not handled properly, it will damage our health, destroy our relationships, devastate our career, and dishonor/displease our God.

Question: How is anger affecting your life? Is it affecting your mental, emotional, and             physical well-being? Is it destroying your relationships with your loved ones and people in people general? Is it affecting your spiritual life and your relationship with God? Are you ready for some change? Are you saved?

The text before us talks about 3 situations of anger:

I. WHEN ANGER LASHES OUT 

22 “…And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Background: There has been a lot of discussion on the difference between these two words – Raca and fool. The word “Raca” comes from the Aramaic word “reqa” which means, “fool.” The word for fool is “Moreh.” Bottom line: Both the words seem to be saying the same thing. What’s going on here? Although, evidence is very slim, it could very well be that “raca” was more insulting than “moreh.”

For e.g. In the South, there’s an expression – “bless his heart.” Unless you are saying that to a little kid who is being cute and innocent, it’s not very flattering. It usually implies – “You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Sometimes they even insert “God” into “bless your heart.” That’s just to couch the blow.

Here’s the point: In anger, you can outrightly call someone a “fool” or you can say, “bless your heart.” Either way, you are lashing out at the other person in anger without a cause. What Jesus is saying here is – you heard it said, “whoever calls his brother an ugly name may have to stand trial before the city council, but I say to you that if you talk down about someone in anger, you may have to stand in the fire of hell.” Wow!

Many of us say a lot of stuff in anger. Some of us just lash out with a slew of insults and curse words. That is evil and will be judged by others. Others of us have a way of talking down and condescendingly about the person we’re angry with. Sometimes I think that is more painful than the insults and curse words. In God’s standard of righteousness, even the slightest and the subtlest angry words will not go unnoticed. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 12 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

By the way, 2 verses earlier in verse 34 Jesus called the Pharisees and the scribes “brood of vipers.” That’s a bad name! And in Matthew 23 and verses 17 and 18 he actually called them, “Fools and blind!” Is Jesus being a hypocrite? He is proving that only God has the authority to call somebody a “fool.” What’s the point? When we use hateful words because we are angry without a cause, we are elevating ourselves to the place of God and we’ll have to give an account for every one of those words.

What’s the Solution? Restrain. Stop. Wait. Walk away. Count to 10 or 100 or 1000 before you speak.

Question: How do you react when you get angry? Do you start calling the other person ugly names? Do you start cutting down the other person with ugly names? Do you cut them down behind their back with ugly names? I’ve seen many couples do that to each other behind their spouse’s back. Do you realize that one day you will have to give an account for every idle word before God?

II. WHEN ANGER LOOKS BACK

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar,

Background: There was only one altar on which the Jewish people could make an offering and that was the one at the Temple in Jerusalem. Imagine someone standing by the altar with his or her animal. Keep in mind that Jesus is preaching this message near the Sea of Galilee that is 80 miles to the north of Jerusalem. It has taken this person 3 days to travel from Galilee to get to the Temple in Jerusalem. What happens? “and there remember that your brother has something against you.” Oswald Chambers makes an insightful observation. Jesus didn’t say – “If you rake up something by a morbid sensitiveness, but – ‘If you remember,’ that is, if it is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God.” Many people are walking under constant remorse and guilt that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. They are constantly digging and probing themselves and causing spiritual hemorrhage. It might just be the way they grew up and somebody always accused them of something they did wrong. This is not what this passage is talking about. If you are under constant guilt, take it to God in prayer so that he will release you from this state of perpetual guilt. It’s not from Him.

But, if the Holy Spirit brings to your mind someone who is angry with you and you have not tried to restore things, then you’re not ready to worship God. Here’s an important point: Anger affects our Worship. In other words, horizontal relationships do affect vertical relationship. How you relate to people affects how you relate to God. If right now you’re angry with someone or someone is angry with you, it will affect the way you worship God. You cannot compartmentalize your spiritual life. You cannot separate earthly things from heavenly things.

What is the solution? 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Keep in mind that this person is 3 days away from home. It would be totally unreasonable for Jesus to say – “Leave the animal at the altar and go home 3 days away. Take another day to find the guy who is angry with you. Then turn around and come back. Altogether, that’s 7 days – 1 whole week! More than likely, the person who is angry is also at the temple. What’s the point? It is easy to get along with people far away. It is much harder to get along with people right next door or in the pew over. As someone said, “To live above with those we love, oh, how that will be glory. To live below with those we know, now that’s another story.” Many times when people do try this, they go with such a pompous and self-righteous manner – “I forgive you.” It just adds fuel to the fire.

Question: How is your relationship with people near to you? Do you offer grace to them? Are you patient with them? Do you wait for them to come to you or do you swallow your pride and go to them? If you do try to make things right, in what spirit do you do that? Do you realize that your spiritual life is at a standstill until you restore that relationship?

III. WHEN ANGER LINGERS ON 

25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

For e.g. Two siblings who are in trouble for fighting with each other. They’re both about to get it. Before mom and dad can deal with them, they make things right.

Don’t wait, deliberate, or procrastinate but immediately activate the process of reconciliation.

There are 2 verses in the Bible that have helped me a lot through the years:

Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” Would you agree that we are living in a sick society?

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,

26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. Meaning: When you refuse to let go, you can hang on along with the offender.

Application: How long does it take for you to settle a record? Are you known as a person who holds on to old grudges? Are you a person who does not like settling things quickly?

Are you saved?? From the cross Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Only through Him you can say the same.

The Blessing of Not Getting Even

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

THE BLESSING OF NOT GETTING EVEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofnotgettingevenIntroduction: In our series SALT AND LIGHT on the Sermon on the Mount we come to the fifth beatitude from Matthew 5. Thank you for joining us this morning and especially thank you to those who are joining us by radio. This morning’s message is titled – “THE BLESSING OF NOT GETTING EVEN.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: 7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” So far the beatitudes were primarily dealing with our personal relationship with God.

  • You are to be “poor in spirit” and have more of the Holy Spirit.
  • In times of loss and pain, trust the Holy Spirit and He will comfort you.
  • Be meek and give your problems to God and you will inherit His riches.
  • You are to hunger and thirst for His righteousness and you will be satisfied.

All of these are important but they focus primarily on our personal relationship with God. But the fifth beatitude – “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” – has to do with our relationship with people. When people take advantage of us, hurt us, mistreat us, or insult us, instead of retaliating, getting revenge, paying them back or getting even with them, we are to show mercy to them. People think that mercy is showing compassion towards those who are less fortunate and cannot do anything for you. That may be true but it’s much more than that. It is showing compassion towards those who have done something wrong to you, hurt you, and maybe even hate you.

Question: Are you a merciful person or are you a person who gets even? Are you a person who forgives and reaches out or are you a person who pays people back? Do your family members and friends say that you always get the last word and you always come on top? Let me ask you a deeper question – Have you ever accepted the mercy God through Jesus Christ? Are you saved? If not, no wonder you can’t show mercy.

This message is very important because how you show mercy is how you obtain mercy. If your life is only full of justice and only eye for an eye and only tit for tat, it’s because that’s how you are. Do you often say, “I wish I could get a break?” Then “Start giving others a break.” Let the Holy Spirit help you today. 3 Questions this morning:

I. WHAT IS MERCY? 

“Blessed are the merciful…”

Background: There is a lot of confusion over the meaning of the word “mercy.” People confuse it with so many other things. Let me explain with four scenarios:

  • First Scenario: Joe insults Mike so Mike insults Joe back. That’s JUSTICE. He has every right to do that. We do that all the time especially in our culture. We have a very tit for tat society. We like to put people back in their place. We like to have the final word. We see that even in how we joke with each other – “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it.” The problem is – We don’t just dish it back, we dash the other person! But that’s JUSTICE and we understand that very well.
  • Second Scenario: Joe insults Mike but Mike instead of insulting Joe back and getting justice, just walks away and gives it to God. That’s MEEKNESS.

(Qualifications – all this is in the context of personal relationships. When it comes to individual safety and national security, we have to defend the helpless and ourselves and even make preemptive strikes against the enemy. That’s a very different issue.)

  • Third Scenario: Joe insults Mike and Mike gives it to God but instead of just walking away and distancing himself from Joe, Mike does something else. He forgives Joe. He refuses to hold a grudge. He refuses to be bitter. He doesn’t want to carry that extra baggage in life. That’s FORGIVENESS.
  • Fourth Scenario: Joe insults Mike and Mike gives it to God and even forgives Joe but he doesn’t stop there. He puts his guard down, sets his pride aside, and reaches out to Joe. As hard as it is, he tries to see things from Joe’s perspective. He tries to be patient and kind to Joe. He tries to redeem and restore the relationship. That’s MERCY.

Mercy is forgiveness plus much more. If you want to understand it, you have to turn to the Bible – Ephesians 2 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, What is salvation? It is a gift originated in God’s love, worked out in his mercy, and offered to us by his grace. It not only forgives us but it raises us up and seats us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All we can do is receive it by faith. Listen to verse 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” We have offended God but because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God has not only forgiven us but also given us all the riches in Christ. No other religion can demonstrate mercy. It is an exclusive Christian virtue. Other religions may have justice, self-control, self-restraint, and even forgiveness. Only Christianity tries to redeem, restore, rebuild, reaffirm, reassure, and a lot of words starting with “re.”

What happens when we are touched by the mercy of God? We abdicate our right to revenge and retaliation. We relinquish our right to get even. We hand over the gavel of justice. Just like how God is towards us, we too forgive the person who has offended us but don’t stop there. We try to reach out and bring out the best in that person’s life.

Application: Have you ever received God’s mercy in your life? He worked out the plan of salvation when you were so undeserving. Unless you get saved, you cannot even begin to understand mercy. F.B. Meyer said – “It (mercy) is an exotic which Christ brought with Him from heaven.” Are you holding out mercy towards someone in your life? Are you only giving justice or forgiveness? Are you willing to go beyond?

II. HOW DO WE OBTAIN MERCY? 

“Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy”

Background: What does it mean to “Obtain Mercy?” It means having God’s forgiveness and restoration in our lives. Mercy is not just something that we need when we get saved but it’s also something we need every day after we get saved. Everyday we need God’s forgiveness towards us. Everyday we need God’s restoration in us. Why? Because we are weak. Because we cannot keep God’s standards. Because we fail so often. Of course our salvation is intact. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our eternal destiny is secure. But because of sin our relationship with the Father get’s broken. Even though we are headed to heaven, life begins to feel like hell.

How do you get mercy (forgiveness and restoration) in our lives? Some people think we need to pray for mercy. Some people think we need to ask God to forgive us for our sins. What does God have to say? “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” Meaning: If you want mercy in your life, you have to show mercy to others. If that’s not enough, in the Lord’s Prayer or Disciples’ Prayer, Jesus said it again in Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” Then he gave an amazing parable in Matthew 18 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Application: Are you known for justice? Are you known for just forgiveness? Are you known for giving people three strikes and then out? If so, then you are setting the course of your life. James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

When you show Mercy and in return have God’s Mercy in your life, your life becomes a blessing to those around you. When Jesus was in this world He often reprimanded the scribes and the Pharisees for failing to show mercy. They were not horrible people. They tried to keep God’s commandments. They even tried to witness to others. Matthew 9  10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ (Jesus was quoting Hosea 6:6) For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

What the world needs to see are people who are so full of God’s mercy that they cannot help but show mercy to others. It will call on us to reconcile with the fact that some people who have offended us may even get away with what they did to you. You will have to kiss revenge goodbye. You will have to refuse to talk bad to people’s faces and even behind their backs.

In return not only will God show you mercy but people will also show you mercy when you need it. Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Corrie ten Boom Story on Forgiving (from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive”)

Nazi Holocaust

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. “It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’ “The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue Jewish Women Holocaust 2uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.] “Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? “But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze. “‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me. “‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’ “And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

Corrie Ten Boom and Billy Graham“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. “For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’ “I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’ “And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

That’s MERCY – forgiveness that calls the person a brother or sister. The only way we can do that is if we have the love of Christ in our hearts. That’s what this fallen world needs to see. Do you have it?

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

SECRET TO THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE (Article)

SECRET TO THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on January 10, 2015)

According to popular research, this year’s resolutions were no different than the years before – “Get More Sleep,” “Save Money,” “Quit Smoking or Drinking,” and, top of the list as always, “Loose Weight.” Oh yes – there was also “Flossing!” I guess nobody wants a “Bridge Over Troubled Molars!” But sadly, most people’s resolutions go in one year and out the next. Why is that? It’s because of a three-letter word that has all but disappeared from American Christianity. It only brings up images of Bible thumping preachers in tent revivals. It conjures up feelings of guilt and condemnation. I’m talking about the word “Sin.” Now before you throw down this paper, I urge you to suspend your judgment briefly and keep reading. This may hold the secret to the best year of your life! Here’s why –

  1. Our fundamental problem is Sin – We have renamed and redressed our problems but sin “by any other name” still reeks of sin: selfishness, pride, envy, jealousy, anger, hate, bitterness, lying, control issues, insecurities, bad habits, addictions, sexual sins, lust, pornography, lack of discipline (food, time, thoughts), lack of obedience, lack of commitment, and everything that’s anti-God. Unfortunately, we are both sinners by nature and sinners by choice. We are born in iniquity and sins (Psalm 51:5) and then we deliberately choose to go astray (Isaiah 53:6).
  2. Sin destroys our life – Initially, sin is not a big deal but “its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Take for example something as seemingly harmless as “time-management.” So many people have made resolutions to manage time better in 2015. Here’s a question: Why do we waste time? First, we think it’s our time. That’s a lie. It’s God’s time. He has given the same amount of time to the President and the man living on the street. When we waste time, we are wasting His time, which is a form of stealing. That’s a sin. Second, we spend countless hours in mindless entertainment, trolling on Facebook, sticking our nose in other people’s business, or fighting endlessly in marriage and relationships. We have lost sight of God’s purpose for our lives and do not care to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. That’s a sin. Third, we waste time because we presume that others will pick up our slack. In essence, we look down on other people’s schedules and lives. That’s a sin. Fourth, we take on too many things and then we cannot manage our time. Somehow we think too highly of our selves. That’s a sin. Fifth, we waste time because we do not value our own selves. As someone said, “If you value your self, you will value your time.” If you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” then so is your time. Lack of self-worth comes from believing what we or someone else have said about us rather than what God has said about us. That’s a sin. Need I go on!

If you open your eyes, you will see that sin is destroying marriages, goals, success, health and everything that is wonderful.

  1. Sin needs a Savior – Even though sin is the ultimate culprit behind all our problems, it is ultimately against God. God is Holy and He cannot tolerate even a speck of sin. Hence, Jesus came and took the penalty of sin upon Himself by dying on the cross. By receiving Him as your Savior you don’t have to face the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9) But there’s more! Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age.” (Galatians 1:4) Of course, one day we will be permanently free from the presence of sin but even now we have been set free from the power of sin. As we look to the Holy Spirit, He helps us to reject sin and walk in righteousness (Romans 8:2-4). In the famous hymn “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” Charles Wesley writes, “He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free.”

Repentance Anyone?!!

WINNING THE MIND BATTLE

WINNING THE MIND BATTLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

WINNING THE MIND BATTLEThis is the first sermon of the New Year. It comes from our series in the Book of Romans and it is titled – WINNING THE MIND BATTLE. I have to be honest – I really struggled with how to title this message. From one angle, this message seems to be about relationships. From a different angle, it is about overcoming evil with good. But the more I studied this passage, the more I felt that there is yet another theme that covers both of relationships and overcoming evil and that is the conversation in our mind. There is a battle that is going on here that is greater than any battle out there.

Romans 12:14-18   14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Overall Background:  Most of our struggle as a Christian is between how we used to think before we got saved and how we should think now that we are saved. How we used to think of our enemies? How we used to think of people in general? How we used to think of ourselves? And, how we used to think of God? Now that we are saved, how should we think of each of those categories? The passage we just read covers all the relationships in our life.

Would you agree that most of our problems are relationship problems? If only our relationships were running smoothly, everything would be just fine. Sadly, that’s not always the case.

This morning we will look at each of them carefully – first, with our enemies, then people in general, then ourselves, and then with God Himself. We will see how we need to change the way we think about each of them.

I. CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT OUR ENEMIES.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 

Background: When we read that only in English, we tend to miss the word play that Paul has intended. The Greek word for “persecute” is actually the same exact word that is mentioned in the previous verse forgiven to hospitality.” If you remember, the word for “given to” is “pursue.” Literally, “pursue hospitality.” The same word is used here again in verse 14. Here’s how I would translate verse 13 and 14 together – “Pursue hospitality with people; And, by the way, some will try to pursue you to hurt you, just bless them. Don’t curse them.”

It is easy to pursue hospitality with people who welcome us with open arms. How about people who are pursuing us to hurt us physically, emotionally, and mentally? In those situations, it is very easy to become self-righteous and curse them. We feel that we are justified to pronounce a curse on our enemies. After all, that’s the old way of doing things. Love your friends and hate your enemies.

But what did Jesus say – Matt. 5:43-45   43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

For e.g. There was a time in my life when I was struggling with a hurt caused to me by someone who was close to me. I struggled for a while. Even though I had forgiven this person, the hurt was deep; the wound was still raw. Then God brought someone in my life that shared with me this very passage. He said – “Pray for this person who has hurt you for the next three weeks. Pray that God would bless them and do it sincerely. Let me warn you that when you first start praying for them, you will feel like throwing up. Everything in you will churn as you try to pray for their blessing. After the first week, it will be a little easier. After the second week, it will be much easier. Then there will come a day, when you will pray and when you are finished, you will feel like a sack of stones has fallen off your shoulders.” I tried it and sure enough he was right.

Every week I come across people who are struggling with hurt. Daily they are living under misery and pain. They can’t seem to break free. Here’s the answer – change the way you think about your enemies.

Application: How do you think about your enemies?

II. CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT PEOPLE IN GENERAL.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

How contrary is that to the old way of life! We want people to rejoice with us when we rejoice and weep with us when we weep. We are the center of the universe. We want the world to revolve around us.

For e.g. Like the man who was sitting on his front porch playing checkers with his dog. This man was driving by and he saw that and he turned around and came back. He said to the man with the dog – “Wow! I’ve never seen that! That’s a smart dog.” The man replied – “Smart…huh…I beat him 2 out of 3.”

Listen once again to what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 20:27-28  27 “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Meaning: Look around and see where people are find ways to share their joys and tears.

The problem comes when we sit around waiting for others to share our joys and tears. What happens when this does not happen? We get angry and disappointed and hurt. Change the focus from self to others and you will feel a weight lifted off you.

Someone may ask – Who will rejoice with me when I rejoice? Who will weep with me when I weep?

When you rejoice and there’s none to rejoice with you, listen to Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

When you weep and there’s none to weep with you, listen to Psalm 34:17-18   17 “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

Many of us miss the blessing of having God share in our joys and our sorrows when we turn to human beings instead.

Application: How do you think about people in general? (friends, family, and spouse)

III. CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT OUR SELF.

16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Background: Many are getting disappointed because they have such a high view of themselves.

Instead, we are to set our minds on the lowly, the less fortunate.

As you do that, you will find that what was once a big deal is no longer.

For e.g. I’ve seen people go on a mission trip. Before they left they are all concerned about their shoes and their pillows and their hair. By the time, they are half way on the trip, they cannot find their shoes, they have lost their pillows, and hair…well… let’s not go there.

The greatest therapy for your condition is to get involved with the poor, the homeless, and the hungry.

Philippians 2:5-8   5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Application: How do you see yourself?

IV. CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT GOD.

19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

What does that mean? Let God be God. He reserves the right to judge. He reserves the right to condemn. He reserves the right to repay.

Most of our problems come from trying to play God. Instead, listen to verse 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Some people have interpreted that to mean that when you do good to your enemies, it will feel burn them up.

To the contrary, listen to the very next verse – 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Paul began the application section of Romans with a clear emphasis on the mind. Listen to Romans 12:2 “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.” Mind Renewal is very important for our spiritual growth and victory. Before we get saved, our battle is mostly in the heart. After we get saved, our battle is mostly in the mind. If there is no life and peace in your personal life, marriage, and relationships, it is because you are still operating with the carnal mind. Now that you are saved and have the spiritual mind, you are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Let your thinking/thought life be transformed. All the components have arrived in the box; now put it together.

Many Christians have been through a heart transformation but no mind transformation. That’s why they can’t get over old hurts and pains. That’s why they can’t seem to forgive and forget. That’s why they can’t seem to get close to people.

Application: Are you ready to win the mind battle? It begins with obedience.

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THERE'S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVEMost of our life oscillates between forgiving others and being forgiven by others. We cannot appreciate being forgiven or granting forgiveness to others unless we have experienced God’s forgiveness in our own lives. The model for forgiveness is God Himself. Even though the people of Israel sinned repeatedly against God, He forgave them—repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….lets pick it up in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments….17 They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks,
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Overall Background:  Nehemiah 9 describes the Revival Service that took place among the Jewish people in the time of Nehemiah. These people were saved—as we would say today—but under deep conviction they were repenting for all the junk they had wrongly believed about God and done against God. This was a real revival—people confessing their sins, repenting of their sins, acknowledging God once again, and glorifying God.

Application: I was planning on skipping over Nehemiah 9 but the Holy Spirit would not let me. I could not move on to chapter 10. It was as if God was saying – “Clearview needs a revival and Nehemiah 9 is what it will take for this church to be revived. Every confession in Nehemiah 9 affirms a truth about God that we desperately need to affirm in our own generation if we want to see God work:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

This morning we come to Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

Application: Today’s message is vital for us to understand. This is a message of grace. This is a message that goes to the heart of what Christianity is all about. Other religions can counterfeit Christianity in many aspects save one – “Amazing Grace.” It is the grace of God that forgives us through Jesus Christ. It is the grace of God that enables us to forgive others.

3 Questions once again:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? THEY SAW HIS LAWS IN A NEW LIGHT

Ten CommandmentsListen to their confession in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

Background: Many times in the history of Israel, the people looked to the commandments of God as a burden. “Why do we have to keep all these rules!!?” “Other nations don’t have all these rules.” “Why can’t we be free like them!!?

For e.g. Just like kids – “why do we have to do this and that?” “Other kids don’t have all these rules.” “Their mom and dad don’t make them do all that.”

Repeatedly, the people of Israel/the Jewish people broke the laws of God.

Psalm 78:10 They did not keep the covenant of God;
They refused to walk in His law,

Isaiah 5:24b “they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

II Chronicles 36:16a But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets,

Now that these Jewish people were right with God they were seeing His commandments in a whole different light. God was not the “Big Party Pooper in the Sky.” He was not the “Cosmic Kill Joy who rains on everybody’s parade.” He was not the “Self Appointed Divine Chaperone who cannot stand people having fun.” God had actually done them a favor by giving them His laws. In fact, notice the way they describe the laws – “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven, Meaning: You didn’t bark orders from heaven. And (You – God) gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments. 14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,
Meaning: All the laws and commandments were for their benefit, especially the Sabbath – a day to rest their bodies, restore their priorities, and refocus their spirit. It was all for their benefit.

Listen to the benefits of obeying His commandments in verse 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,
And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst,
And told them to go in to possess the land
Which You had sworn to give them.

Application: How do you view God and His commandments? Do you look at them as a burden? Do you despise them? In America, some have the attitude that we need to do away with all these Judeo-Christian values. We need to get as far away from the Ten Commandments as possible. Having come from a culture where the Judeo-Christian values (Biblical values) are not the foundation, let me tell you as clearly as possible – “The secret of America’s success are the very values that some are trying to destroy.” People are trying to reinterpret the constitution and revise the values. Values like freedom, democracy, and rights exist because of these commandments of God. Show me a country where you would like to live that doesn’t have the Bible in its past.

What is the consequence of disobeying God’s laws? Listen to verse 17a They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks (like an ox that refuses to go in the intended direction),
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
 That’s the word to America and all of us – “Reject God’s Laws and return to bondage.”

II HOW DID GOD RESPOND TO THEIR DISOBEDIENCE? WITH GRACE AND MERCY

But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Background: This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The Jewish people acknowledge a God who is unlike any god of this world. They describe Him in 5 ways:

First – God who is not hesitant but “ready to pardon.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not hem and haw but is eager to forgive. For many of us it is very hard to picture such a God. Maybe its because we grew up with a father or a mother who were hesitant in forgiving us or held out forgiveness to us.

For e.g. Please don’t think I am sacrilegious when I share this illustration. Sometime back I was visiting a family where the son was being rebellious. He had promised to straighten up but he would go right back to the same lifestyle. There was the mother who was looking at her boy with suspicion and disappointment. But the family dog just leaped up and wagged his tail and was eager to greet the boy. That is a picture of God. While the world and even the family says, “We’re not quite sure.” God says, “I am waiting to forgive you.

Second – God who does not keep a checklist but “Gracious and merciful.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not say, “Now that’s the fifth time this week that you have blown it.” This is very hard for us to understand. We love to say, “This is it.”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,


Prone to leave the God I love;


Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,


Seal it for Thy courts above.

Third – God who does not rush to punish but is “slow to anger.” Meaning: He takes His time to come and deal with us. I think about when Adam and Eve sinned against God. If you remember – God came in the cool of the day and not the very instant the crime was committed.

For e.g. One time I stole some money from my dad’s wallet. He knew it but he did not say anything. All he asked me was “Is everything okay?” He didn’t do it to be sarcastic or to intimidate me. That made more of an impact on my life than anything else. Last time I was talking to my parents, they were complementing me over all the good that the Lord was doing in my life. I told them – “I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. At the time, I did not understand all the rules you had but now looking back and having my own kids I understand. Thank You for not only making the rules but bearing with me when I broke them.

Fourth – God who is not limited in kindness but Abundant in kindness.” When you come to God, He just showers His kindness on us.

For e.g. We were at the Chick-fil-A in town and one of our boys wanted an ice cream cone. I gave him two dollars and he came back with an ice cream cone about this tall (6 inches). How did you get all that? He answered, “The manager said that she just got carried away.

Fifth – God who is not unaware of sin but He still “did not forsake them.” Some people might take all this forgiveness to mean that sin does not bother God. To the contrary, sin is horrible and it deserves God’s punishment. Nonetheless, He does not forsake His own.

Listen to verse 18 “Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,
And said, ‘This is your god
That brought you up out of Egypt,’
And worked great provocations, 19 Yet in Your manifold mercies
You did not forsake them in the wilderness.
The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day,
To lead them on the road;
Nor the pillar of fire by night,
To show them light,
And the way they should go. 20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth,
And gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness;
They lacked nothing;
Their clothes did not wear out
And their feet did not swell.

Application: You might have a God who is Holy and Righteous and Just. You might have met a God who will punish the ungodly and pour His wrath on them. But have you met this God who is Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And who does not forsake His own.”

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN

In 1959 a Pennsylvania jurist named Curtis Bok wrote a book on prison reform titled “Star Wormwood.” In this book, he relates the story told to him by Kenyon J. Scudder, first superintendent of Chino penitentiary. Two men were on a train. One was a convict coming home after a five-year prison sentence. Things had not gone well between this young man and his family. So before he left for home he wrote to his family that if they wanted him to come home, they were to place a white ribbon in the big apple tree next to the railroad track, and he would get off the train. If he didn’t see a white ribbon in the designated apple tree, he would stay on the train and seek a new life elsewhere. As the train approached the apple tree, the ex-convict told his traveling companion he couldn’t bear to look. His companion said that he would look and took his place by the window to watch for the apple tree. He saw an apple tree covered with white ribbons!

That is how God forgives us – repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

But somebody had to pay that price – Jesus Christ, who gave His life on Calvary’s tree. When you have His forgiveness, then you can forgive others.

%d bloggers like this: