RAISING JESUS – PART 1

RAISING JESUS – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

RAISING JESUS (1)We are in our series on the life of Christ from all 4 gospels and today we are in Luke 2 for our miniseries titled – “RAISING JESUS.” Ever wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary to raise Jesus! You can’t say to him “when I was your age…” because He was the “Ancient of Days.” You can’t say to him “I brought you into this world and I can take you out” because “all things were made through Him.” But let’s not forget that He was every bit a human child who had to learn obedience. There are some valuable lessons in this passage for parents and children.

Luke 2:39-40   39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Overall Background: When we think of the childhood years of Jesus, we have a somewhat romanticized and idealized picture in mind. We imagine this small quaint town of Nazareth where everybody knows your name. We can see Jesus as a little boy working in the carpentry shop with his earthly father Joseph. We see His mother Mary fetching water, cooking, andGeorges de La Tour - Joseph the Carpenter taking care of the household. It all seems so beautiful and perfect. The problem is that some of this “perfect childhood/family” imagery has come to us from paintings and movies but in reality it was anything but perfect—

  • 3 times this family had been uprooted in the past 3-4 years: first, when they had to leave Nazareth and move to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus had ordered a census; second time, when they had to flee at night to Egypt because King Herod had ordered the death of the newborn baby; then when they got news that King Herod had died, they were ready to head back to Bethlehem, but they couldn’t – Archelaus who was crazier than his father Herod was ruling over Judea. So they had to change course and come to Nazareth. If your family has been going through ups and downs lately, Jesus understands. He knows what it means to have your world turned upside down. He knows what it means to live out of boxes.
  • Moving to Nazareth was not their top choice. The people of Nazareth had not forgotten that Mary had a child out of wedlock and maybe Joseph was the daddy or maybe not. If you remember when Jesus came to teach in the synagogue in Nazareth, in Matthew 13:55 they said, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? (They did not even deem it worthy to use Joseph’s name.) Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him…58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Mark 6:6 even adds, “And He (Jesus) marveled because of their unbelief.” Keep in mind that all this was when Jesus was 30 years old. You can imagine what it was like when he was just 3 or 13. Some of you said – “Once I leave this town, I’m never coming back.” Oops! Guess what? Jesus understands. He had to come back to his hometown and face the same people.
  • Those two points are external. How about internal? Jesus was not Joseph’s son. Joseph knew that and Mary knew that. How do you think it affected their daily lives? Do you think there was ever any tension in that home? Are you in a situation where you are a step mom or stepdad or stepchild or a blended family? Guess what? Jesus understands. He came from a blended family.

Some of us have the wrong idea that because we did not grow up in a perfect family that we are scarred for life. Some of us have the wrong idea that we have to be a perfect family in order to be a godly family. Nothing could be further from the truth. What God is looking for is a family that is willing to surrender to Him, willing to obey Him, and willing to let His grace work in their lives.

Application: Are you a parent this morning? Do you need God’s grace in your family? Children – Do you want God’s hand upon your life? You say – “I don’t have children or my children are grown.” Do you care about the future of our church and our nation? Do you care about what’s happening in our world as we speak?

This morning we will see what are 3 things that every child needs:

I. STRONG CHARACTER 

40 And the Child (Jesus) grew and became strong in spirit, (Some manuscripts and translations don’t include the word “spirit” but from my studies it is original.

Background: Let’s look at the words carefully – The word for growth is “auxano,” which means physical growth. Jesus grew physically strong but the end result was not just that He was big and bad but that He became strong in spirit. He was strengthened in spirit. This is not the Holy Spirit just His own spirit. Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Every child/person is body and spirit. We can see the body the material but we can’t see the spirit the immaterial. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is the nerve center, core, heart, and command post. It involves the human personality – attitude, demeanor, character, will, and the list goes on. If I can use a battleship analogy – this is not the engine room but the bridge where the Captain and chief officers make critical decisions.

Listen carefully – the bridge in your child’s life has to be developed and developed early. It doesn’t just happen. If you don’t make an effort, their spirit will grow but in a way you will regret. There is a small window of opportunity where their spirit can be molded and once that time is past, it is next to impossible to change that spirit. Habits set in, attitudes get stuck, and behavior is determined.

What is the purpose of the sports program? The ultimate goal of all these activities is to strengthen their character. For some kids it’s sports and for others its music or arts or outdoors. You know your child’s bent. Parents – it takes time, effort, and sacrifice.

Let me caution: It’s not just to keep them occupied. It’s not to live vicariously through our children. It’s not just because the neighbors kids and the cousins kids are playing and you don’t want your children to be left out. It is to strengthen their character. It means if your child is sitting on the bench longer than someone else’s child, it’s not fair but don’t get upset. He’s learning patience. She’s learning the importance of treating others fairly. With the same token – don’t make your child play on and on and on while other children are sitting on the bench. You are teaching your child that the world revolves around them. They will take that attitude in the workplace and get fired. They will take that attitude in their marriage and get divorced.

The tragedy with kids in America is that we are either doing nothing with them or we are doing everything for them but for the wrong reasons.

Jesus grew and became strong in spirit. Do you think it came handy when he had to lead 12 men with 12 different personalities and strengths and weaknesses? Do you think it came handy He had to stand up to the scribes and the Pharisees? Do you think it came handy on the night that he was betrayed and all his disciples deserted him?

Application: What are you doing with your children that is building character in them? What are doing with your children that is strengthening their spirit? Do you pray for their spirit? Listen to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

II. WISE DECISIONS 

filled with wisdom;

Background: The word for wisdom is σοφίας. It carries with it the same concept of wisdom found in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Proverbs. If you read Matthew 6 Jesus knew about Solomon. What did Solomon say about wisdom? Listen to Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. We don’t have time to go into each of these words. Let’s just look at wisdom. It comes from the Hebrew word hokma which means masterful understanding, skill or expertise. In olden days people were skilled in art, in government, in war. In this context it’s referring to – the skill of living. There are people who are tearing up their marriages, ruining their children, destroying their relationships and jeopardizing their career because they don’t have wisdom (skill in living) or understanding (a sense of discernment).

Where does this wisdom come from? It comes through the fear of the Lord. It does not mean the “fright of God” and neither does it mean the “reverence of God.” It simply means putting God first in every situation of life. It means asking yourself – “What does God want me to do in this situation?” “How does He want me to handle this problem?”

Whose responsibility is it to teach this wisdom? Proverbs 1:8 “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother.” In the training of a child both the father and the mother are essential. But – did you notice who is the chief spokesman or the primary instructor? It is the father. In our society we have turned over this privilege and right and responsibility to the school, the government, the entertainment industry, the friends, the neighbors, and even the church. I can hear someone say – “I guess they don’t have a chance then cause we’re pretty messed up.” When you mess up what a great opportunity go to your son to your daughter and say, “I’m sorry.” What a great opportunity to teach them the value of asking forgiveness and giving forgiveness.

And don’t think your children will always listen attentively when you give them this wisdom.

For e.g. Did you hear about the teenage boy who told his parents that from today he was a man? They didn’t know what to do. They had a friend up in Alaska who told them to bring him up there. They had a MAN INITIATION CEREMONY. When they got there, they told him that he had to do two things: Skin a bear and kiss an Eskimo woman on the lips. Before they could repeat, he ran out. A day later he walks in with clothes all torn, ear bit off, and scratches all over his face. “Where’s that Eskimo woman you want me to skin?”

Application: Parents – “Are you giving your children wisdom (Skill in living) for their lives?” Children – “Are you listening do your parents?” This book is the wisdom of God. Are you reading it? Are you teaching your children to read this book? Where are they looking for wisdom?

III. GOD’S GRACE

and the grace of God was upon Him.

Background: The word for grace is χάρις which means favor and special blessing. What does that mean? It has the imagery of someone stronger coming to help someone weaker. Let me illustrate – sometime back I was with Josh and you’re going somewhere and just then we saw this car on the side of the road, smoke coming out from under the hood. Maybe some of us have been there. We said let’s go help the guy. We pulled up and asked the man if we could help. You could see the discouragement in his eyes – “I’m trying to get to the college and take my exam. I can’t miss this one.” So we gave him a ride. We didn’t have to help him. We didn’t owe him anything. It was an act of grace.

To have God’s grace upon us means God doesn’t have to do anything for us but he does it anyway. He helps us. He picks us up. He gives us the push we need. He gives us the hand up that we need. He opens doors for us. He closes some doors for us. That’s all because of His grace upon us.

Your child’s greatest need is not another program, another sport, another activity, another game, another dress, or another pair of shoes. Their greatest need is to have God’s grace upon their lives.

Here’s the formula to activate God’s grace in your child’s life – 2 Corinthians 12 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Let me ask you fundamental question: Does your son or daughter know Jesus Christ as their Savior? I didn’t ask you if you take him to church. I didn’t ask you if she is in a youth group. I’m asking you is he or she saved. Here’s a better question: are you saved? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If not, you are negating with your life on the positives you are doing for your child. Today’s the day of salvation.

WHEN GOD DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE

WHEN GOD DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview

Running_From_God1This morning we are starting a brand new series on the Book of Jonah, titled, “RUNNING FROM GOD.” All of us who grew up in church are familiar with the story of Jonah and the Whale/Big Fish. Both children and adults love this book. When the Holy Spirit led me to it, I did not realize how many layers of truth were in this tiny 4-chapter book! I am looking forward to this series! This morning we are in our first message titled, “WHEN GOD DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE” from Jonah 1:1-3.

Jonah 1:1-3   1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Background: When we think of the prophet Jonah, we picture him as either running from God or being inside the big fish. But that’s not how we first meet him. Jonah 1:2 tells us that God came to Jonah and commanded him to “Arise, go to Nineveh.” “Arise” – the Hebrew word is “qum” meaning “Up.” More than likely Jonah was asleep and God woke him up. What was Jonah’s response in verse 3? “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Meaning: He woke up and ran. Keep in mind that He didn’t run just anywhere but he ran completely in the opposite direction from where God called him to go. What else? He found a ship going to Tarshish and verse 5 tells us that he “had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.”

For e.g. Reminds me of children on school mornings. You get them out of their bed, out of their room, and you think that they are in the bathroom getting ready or eating breakfast. But then you find them sleeping on the couch in the living room.

God woke Jonah up and told him to go to Nineveh. Jonah woke up and ran in the opposite direction, got in a ship, went to the cargo hold, and went back to sleep. The question that comes to my mind is “Was he tired?” “Did he have some kind of a sleep disorder?” Not really. There was something else going on in Jonah’s life. It was easier for him to be asleep than to obey. He felt that if he could just go back to sleep, it would all be over. But praise God that He does not give up on us. Even when we pull our covers over our heads, He comes after us and gently yet firmly starts to awaken us.

Application: I don’t know where you are this morning but the Holy Spirit does. He is coming to disrupt your sleep. He is pulling the covers back. He is whispering in your ears. If you follow to another room, He will not give up. He will still come after you. I hope that you will respond to His voice. Don’t keep running because He won’t follow you forever.

This morning let’s try to understand why Jonah was asleep (spiritually) and why he ran from God.

I. JONAH HAD LOST HIS SPIRITUAL FIRE.

If all you read is the Book of Jonah, you may think that he was some crazy nut, some coward, or some immature man who went AWOL. But that’s not true. In 2 Kings 14:25 we read that King Jeroboam had “restored the territory of Israel…according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.”

3 things stand out to us from that passage:

A.   HE WAS A SERVANT OF GOD – That’s not an ordinary title. Moses was repeatedly called the servant of God. That title is not applied to all the prophets.

B.   HE WAS A VERY INFLUENTIAL MAN – Jonah was not some Podunk prophet. He prophesied to the King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

C.    HE WAS A TRUE PROPHET – What Jonah prophesied actually came true. He prophesied that the Northern Kingdom will regain their territory under King Jeroboam II and it happened.

Jonah was far from being crazy, coward, and immature. He knew better. But for some reason he had lost his spiritual fire.

That is a warning to all of us. Unless you guard your spiritual fire, unless you stoke your spiritual fire, it is very easy to start living in the smoke. I meet a lot of people who at one time did great things for the Lord, served in the church, taught Sunday School and Bible Studies, went on mission trips, even led others to the Lord. But now there is a spiritual deadness, fatigue, and slumber in their lives. If you talk to them about the things of the Lord, they just yawn in your face. It’s almost as if the Enemy has put them under a spell.

Application: Are you under a spell this morning? Are you spiritually asleep? Do the things of God move you any more? Does the voice of God move you anymore? If not then ask/beg the Holy Spirit to awaken you.

II. JONAH HAD BECOME FRUSTRATED WITH GOD.

When Jonah had prophesied that Israel (the Northern Kingdom) would regain their lost territories, it was based on the condition that they would turn to the Lord. God does not say – “I’ll bless you and prosper you but you can do whatever you want to do.” There are conditions. But here’s the amazing thing – God completes His end of the bargain first.

Why does God do that? Listen to 2 Kings 14:26-27  26 For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter; and whether bond or free, there was no helper for Israel.  27 And the LORD did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Isn’t God gracious and merciful?!!

For e.g. Recently in critiquing the Noah movie, Bill Maher called God a “Psychotic Mass Murderer who gets away with it,” “A guy who drowns babies,” “Why do we get our morals out of this book (Bible)?” “Why do people follow any of it?” He even called God names.

What do I say to that? The mouth that you are using to speak, the breath that you are using to form words, the brain waves that you are using to instruct your vocal cords, and the heart that is pumping blood into your brain are all God’s gift to you. He kept His end of the deal, even if you failed.

Because God did not punish Israel and take back His blessings, Jonah had become disheartened.

To understand this, you have to go to Jonah 3:10-4:3   10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.  2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.  3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Jonah was frustrated with God’s justice and mercy. Is it any surprise why he ran? He was saying – “I’m not working for someone who does not fit in my box.”

I believe that there are people sitting here this morning who are frustrated with God.

–       Why does He answer prayers sometime and not the other?

–       Why does He heal sometimes and not the other?

–       Why does He seem to help the wicked and leave the innocent to fend for themselves?

–       Why does He delay in bringing judgment? Why does He delay in showing mercy.

Isaiah 55:8-9  8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

“God executes His promises but deliberates His judgments.” tweet this button

No matter how close we get to God in our spiritual lives we have to remind ourselves that we will never truly grasp the mind of God, the mercy of God.

Application: Are you frustrated with God? Are you disappointed with God?

III. JONAH HAD ASSUMED THAT GOD WAS THROUGH WITH HIM.

Jonah was called to be the prophet to the Northern Kingdom. But it appears that he was no longer in the North. He was actually in the South. If he went to Joppa to board a ship, according to Jonah 1:3, then he was probably in Jerusalem. If he was up north, then Acco would have been the closer port. In fact, when he is inside the fish, he prays in Jonah 2:4 “I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” So more than likely he was hanging out at the temple. He had given up on his previous assignment. He was probably living in disguise since the people of Judah didn’t think much of those from the North. Furthermore, he was a Galilean from Gathe-Hepher, which was 3-miles northeast of Nazareth. What do we know about Nazareth? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jonah just wanted to be left alone. “Glory days are over and I’m just content to sit on this recliner and rock and watch the world go by.”

But he doesn’t realize that God was not through with Him. Isn’t that amazing that we might give up on God but He doesn’t give up on us?!!

There was another assignment that He had for Jonah. This time it was to the pagan nation of Assyria. God was stirring things up in Nineveh. Jonah just wanted to be remembered as the great prophet of the Northern Kingdom. God in his sovereignty wanted every child in Sunday school to break out in a smile to hear the story of Jonah and the whale. One day even Jesus compared Himself to Jonah.

I don’t believe Jonah was shocked when he heard God’s voice. He knew sooner or later God would come looking for him.

For e.g. Many of you may not have heard the name Francis Thompson. He was a tremendously gifted young man. His father wanted him to go to Oxford but he lost his way due to Opium and failed again and again. He would make attempts to turn around and still go right back to the same old ways. He would find old newspapers from the garbage and read them and write some of the most heavenly prose and poetry to the editors. They were amazed at his work and they said that there is out in the streets someone who was probably greater than Shakespeare.

He finally found Christ and wrote the poem Hound of Heaven.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated,

………..

Halts by me that footfall:
   Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
   ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
   I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

Application: Many of you this morning – God is calling you. He is disrupting your conclusions. He is challenging what you have long believed. Don’t run out. Don’t get into a boat and try to hide. It’s time to receive His love through Jesus Christ.

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