Like-Minded by Pastor Abidan Paul Shah

LIKE-MINDED by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: Few years ago, we were at a family camp in Bryson City and one of the outdoor activities was canoeing. Nicole and I got into this two-person canoe. She had plenty of experience from her days as a camp counsellor in Texas. I had very little experience and I kept paddling in the wrong direction, which made us go in circles. I had to learn to “paddle in the same direction” and then we were all over the lake having a great time. So also, in life, we have to learn to “paddle in the same direction.” We say things like – get on the same page, sing from the same song sheet, be on the same wave-length, march to the same beat, get in synch, get in step with, see eye-to-eye, fall in, click. The Bible calls it being “like-minded.” It’s a big secret to success in the Christian life. Unfortunately, a lack of like-mindedness is the reason why many people are going in circles, especially churches. Today’s message will teach us how to be LIKE-MINDED.

Philippians 2     1Therefore if there isany consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, beingof one accord, of one mind. 3Letnothingbe donethrough selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Question: Husbands, are you paddling in the same directions as your wives? Families, are you singing from the same song sheet? Church, are we in synch? In a few moments we will be taking part of the Communion. Are we in communion? Are you saved? Until you get saved, you will operate from a different mind than the mind of Christ? 

Context: Many of you who have been at Clearview for some time know that I typically preach through books of the Bible. Over a year ago, we began a series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians and we completed the first chapter but then we took a rather extended break and focused heavily on discipleship and other series. Now, once again, we are back in our series through Philippians and I am truly looking forward to it. 

To give a quick background for the benefit of those who weren’t here last year and even for those who were here but may have forgotten– Paul wrote this letter from a prison cell in Rome. How do we know that? Philippians 1:7“…both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.” Again, verse 13 “so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.” Don’t misunderstand: Paul is not in some dungeon. More than likely, he is in a house arrest situation since he is able to send letters and receive friends. Nonetheless, this is every bit as serious. Listen to Philippians 1:20“…as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” What Paul is saying here is that there is a strong possibility that he may not make it out of this prison alive but no matter what happens, he wants Christ to be magnified.

Question: How do you see the good times and bad times in your life? Are you always seeking to magnify Christ? If it’s a gain, Christ is the source of my blessing!  If it’s a loss, Christ is the source of my strength! On the one hand, we can say, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” On the other hand, we can say, “for when I am weak, then I am strong. His grace is sufficient for me.”

The Philippians were Paul’s pride and joy. If you remember, Paul had come to Philippi in response to the Macedonian Call. Acts 16 tells us of 3 transformations through the gospel – first, a business woman named Lydia by the Zygaktis or Krenides River; second, a slave girl who was demon possessed by the spirit of Python; and third was the Philippian jailer and his whole family. Unlike the Galatians who had turned their backs on Paul or the Corinthians who had bad mouthed him, the Philippians had brought great joy to Paul. Listen to Philippians 1:3“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…”

Question: How do people remember us? Do we bring tears to their eyes or do we bring smiles to their faces? That’s convicting, isn’t it?

What was Paul’s main purpose in writing this letter? When we read it carefully, we find some hints between the lines. The Philippians may have been going through some divisions within the body.That’s why he says the passage we just read. Listen again to Philippians 2:2“fulfill my joy by being like-minded…” Sometimes the stress and struggles of life can draw us closer to one another but sometimes they can tear us apart. The pressure that the Philippians were going through was tearing them apart. In fact, later on Paul identifies by name two women in the church who were not getting along. Philippians 4:2“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.”By the way, they were not just any ordinary women.3“And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel.” They were Paul’s co-laborers on the mission field.It could be that their disagreements were tearing the whole church apart.

How does Paul appeal to them to get along?

1. He appeals to their spiritual life.

1Therefore if there isany consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,

Here’s a translation: If your experiences in Christ appeal to you, if love tugs on your heart, if the connection you have with each other in the Holy Spirit leads you, if you truly have love and mercy, then work on getting along. 

2. He appeals to their love for him.

2“fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, beingof one accord, of one mind.”

Even though Paul prays for them with joy, lately there has been sorrow in his heart because of the contention among them. 

3. He appeals to their new nature.

3“Letnothingbe donethrough selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

The key here is the word for humility which literally reads “humble-mindedness.”Meaning:It is much more than pretend niceness or temporary kindness. You have to actually take the time to reconfigure your mind as to what you think about others. Self-centeredness is the poison to unity.

Where did Paul get this idea? From Jesus.

John 13     3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipethemwith the towel with which He was girded. We know how Peter tried to oppose this but Jesus explained to him the importance. 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?13You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, forsoI am. 14If I then, yourLord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.16Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Invitation:That’s the spirit we need in our homes, marriages, communities, and churches. Are we saved? Are we being like-minded?

The Blessing of Bringing Harmony

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THE BLESSING OF BRINGING HARMONY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

theblessingofbringingharmonyThis is our seventh beatitude in our series on the Sermon on the Mount called SALT AND LIGHT and today’s message is titled “THE BLESSING OF BRINGING HARMONY.”

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: “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” When we place our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we become sons and daughters of God. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” The right to be a child of God is only awarded to those who receive Jesus as their Savior. But, according to this beatitude, there is a difference between being a child of God and being called a child of God. Listen again – “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” The title of son/daughter of God is only awarded to those who are peacemakers. Meaning: If you are a troublemaker, a rabble-rouser, an instigator, and an agitator, then you may have the position of being a child of God but you will not receive the title of being a child of God. You may claim that you are a Christian but God doesn’t boast about you nor do people acknowledge you.

For e.g. I remember this young man in our hometown – a rough character, a gangster. He was a friend of my brother. One day my brother told me that he actually came from a very prominent family and his father was actually a judge. I couldn’t believe it! He had the pedigree of a good family but his reputation was very different.

Application: This morning, you may be a child of God but the question is “do people call you a child of God?” Are you known as a son/daughter of God? There’s a big difference between position and reputation – between being a Christian and being known as a Christian. Better yet – Are you known as a peacemaker or as a troublemaker? Are you even saved? You cannot have God’s peace until you get saved.

As we walk through this message, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your position as well as your reputation as a Christian. Three questions again:

I. WHO IS A PEACEMAKER? 

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

Background: When Jesus gave that beatitude, there were all kinds of people in the crowd, just like the crowd in this place:

  1. There were troublemakers in the crowd, like the zealots. These were people who were constantly itching for a fight with the oppressive Romans. In fact one of Jesus’ own disciple was Simon the Zealot. There are some zealots here this morning. These are people who are constantly looking for conflict. They love turmoil and chaos. They enjoy seeing people at odds with each other. It’s normal for them. They love drama. Maybe they grew up that way in an environment of constant tension. I know someone like that, no one here. Every time I see this person, there’s always some drama that’s brewing and some fire raging.

Question: Is that you? Stop starting trouble and stop thinking that the whole world is like you. You need to ask God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were parasites in the crowd, like the tax collectors. These were people who had mastered the art of taking advantage of the situation. Just get all the taxes you can, avoid any confrontation, and let people kill each other. Some tax collectors are here this morning. They are only interested in exploiting the situation. They are not interested in bringing peace, just using the conflict for their personal benefit.

Question: Is that you? You take pleasure in watching people go after each other because it takes the attention off of you. You need to realize that you are part of the problem. You also need to ask God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were peacekeepers in the crowd, like the Roman soldiers. Their job was to maintain the Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). They knew how to weed out the bad element and enforce peace. There are some Roman soldiers here this morning. These are people who want peace at any prize. They will compromise the truth, avoid the facts, sweep things under the rug, and pretend that everything is just fine. “Let’s not talk about it.” Only problem is that one day it all comes out. By the way, I’m not referring to law enforcement but everyday peacekeepers.

Question: Is that you? God sees everything and you will have to answer for what you’ve done. You also need God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were false peacemakers in the crowd, like the Pharisees and the scribes. They found peace in controlling the masses. Their idea of peace was to get people to respect them and honor them. There are some Pharisees and scribes here this morning. They’ve got plenty of problems but delight to tell others how to solve theirs. One time someone I knew had unjustly attacked me and I had to distance myself from this person. What was funny was this other person who wanted to be the mediator – “You know I can see both sides.” This person couldn’t solve his own conflicts! I told this person to take a hike.

Question: Is that you? Then you need to stop trying to fix others and seek God’s forgiveness in your own life.

Mt. Sodom

Mt. Sodom (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Lot's Wife

Lot’s Wife (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

But Jesus presented a whole new category to all these people – peacemakers (Gk. eireinopoioi). Although this word construction is found only once in the New Testament, the concept of peacemaking is found all over the Bible. The earliest example we see is in Genesis 13:7 “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.” What was Abraham’s reaction? “Let’s not fight. Pick what you want and I’ll go the other way.” What did Lot do? 10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD… Lot picked the lush, green, and fertile land. As we just read, it was Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities known for their sexual immorality. We’ve been through there. What’s amazing to me is that when God came to destroy those cities, he mentioned his plan to Abraham. What did Abraham do? He could’ve said, “I told him so. He asked for it. I knew this would happen.” Instead he tried to bargain for Lot’s life and family! That’s a true peacemaker.

Peacemaker is someone who has more than just a peaceful disposition. You know people like that – they don’t meddle in anybody’s business; conflict tears their nerves; and they’re always thinking of their happy place. Peacemakers are much more. They recognize conflict and they do whatever they can to bring resolution. They’re not blind to the facts or compromise the truth or sweep things under the rug but they actively seek to promote peace. They are people who when they see that someone is at odds with them, they set aside their pride, step out of their comfort zones, reach out to the other person, and try to make things right. They are people who when they see two parties in conflict, they set aside their agenda, step out of their comfort zones, and try to bring reconciliation. They don’t do that to look important or to play the judge. They do that because it’s the right thing to do. These people know how to approach the two parties, sometimes with words but many times just with their presence. They pray more than they preach.

Application: Are you a peacemaker? When someone is at odds with you, how do you handle it? Do you find ways to avoid them? Do you try to show them how mad you are or how it does not bother you? Or, do you try to make things right? Are you known as a peacemaker between others? You cannot be a true peacemaker until you have God’s peace in your heart. You need to be saved before you can go save others.

II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SON/DAUGHTER OF GOD? 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”

Background: Keep in mind Jesus is the Son of God, son with a capital S. We worship one God but three persons – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is how God has chosen to reveal himself. Jesus is God’s Son in the past, present, and future. It is known as the eternal functional subordination of the Son. That’s the triune God we worship. But, God has many sons and daughters. They’re not eternal but they’re adopted. Listen to Romans 8 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” When we receive Christ as our Savior, we are adopted into the family of God, with all the rights and privileges. In time we also take on the family characteristics. We begin to look like God.

What is God like? We know that God is holy, loving, gracious, powerful, wise, unchanging, eternal, and on and on. But did you also know that He is a God of peace?

Isaiah 9:6 “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Romans 15:33 “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way…”

I can go on and on but the point is simple – God is a god of peace and when we enter into His family, we become people of peace. You look just like God than when you forgive and reconcile.

Illustration: Nicole loves to talk about who the kids look like in our family.

Application: Whom do you look like? Jesus often identified some of his enemies as “sons of the evil one” and “sons of those who kill the prophets.” When you actively seek to promote peace, you look like God’s son and daughter. How do people describe you?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK? 

Background: Human beings are constantly in conflict. Every moment there are millions upon millions of conflicts taking place all over this world – conflict between a husband and a wife, conflict between siblings, conflicts between friends, conflict between neighbors, and, on a large-scale, conflict between nations. It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve for his disobedience. Later conflict spread to the children when Cain killed Abel. Where do conflicts come from? James gives us the reason in James 4 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Conflicts are the result of sin.

We can do anything about it so God took the first step of peace by sending Jesus as the peacemaker. Listen to – 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Once we receive this peace, we become God’s peace ambassadors. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

People constantly talk of peace. Most everybody wants world peace. Peace will not come into this world until Christians who know the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ take the gospel of peace every human being. Then and only then will we not only have peace with God but also peace with our fellow man. We fuss about how terrible things are in the world and in our nation. Here’s my question: where are the peacemakers?

Are you saved? Do you know the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ?

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