WHERE IS GOD IN THIS CRAZY WORLD?

WHERE IS GOD IN THIS CRAZY WORLD? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Where is God in this crazy worldWe’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we’re in Luke 2 for our message titled – “WHERE IS GOD IN THIS CRAZY WORLD?” Lately, it seems as if our world is getting crazier everyday – ISIS terrorists, Ebola virus, high unemployment, and low morality. People are wondering – where is God in all this? Is He just sitting up there twiddling his thumbs? Has He lost control of the world He created? This morning we will look back 2000 years ago when Jesus was born into a world that was just as crazy. We will see that God is very much in control today as He was back then. His plan is always accomplished in heaven and on earth.

Luke 2 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Overall Background: I was talking to someone last week and this person said, “This world is getting crazier every day. I’m just ready for Jesus to come and get us out.” Two things wrong with that statement: First, to this person, this is the worst that this world has ever been. This morning’s message will teach us that it’s been worse before. Jesus’ coming for the church is not dependent on how bad the world gets. He can come any moment. Second, to this person, the world was like a building on fire that could collapse any moment, and God was like a rescue worker on the outside too afraid to go in. God is much more sovereign than that. Application: Have you wondered lately – where is God in this crazy world? Why doesn’t He just destroy the wicked? Why doesn’t He just end this world? I’m here to tell you that God is working powerfully in this crazy world but you won’t find Him if you look for Him in pomp, show, lights, and noise. He is working gently and powerfully in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Now, here’s a question – Is He working in your life? Have you welcomed Him in your life? If not, today is the day you can invite Him.

This morning we will first look at the crazy world in which Jesus was born and then we will see how God has been working in this world.

I. THE WORLD HAS ALWAYS BEEN CRAZY. Luke 2 1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 1 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου, ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην. Who was Caesar Augustus? Caesar Augustus was the emperor of Rome when Jesus was born. His birth name was actually Octavius. He was the Assassination of Julius Caesar great nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, who was the dictator of Rome (48 BC – 44 BC, four years) until his enemies assassinated him on the Ides of March (March 15). Octavius took this as his opportunity to ascend to the throne. He wasn’t much of a soldier so he linked up with Mark Anthony and Marcus Lepidus and began avenging the death of Julius Caesar. He was brutal and did not spare any who stood up to him.

Octavius was very ambitious. He even had coins minted with Julius Caesar’s image on one side with the words “the God Julius” and his image on the other side with the words “Caesar, Son of a God.” He was not satisfied with being one of three and so he first got rid of Lepidus. Then, he defeated Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium, who committed suicide along with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. They knew what would happen if they fell into the hands of Octavius. Now, Octavius was the only man standing. He was powerful and cruel, to say the least. He established the Pretorian Guard – private bodyguards of 5000 soldiers. The Senate was afraid of him Augustus Divi Fand gave him power over the proconsuls and the armies. They even made him “Pontifex Maximus” or the chief priest of the state religion. Their own position was reduced to being just advisors.

But there’s more – remember when Octavius defeated Mark Anthony. There were provinces in Asia that had supported Mark Anthony. Now Octavius was in power and they were going to pay for that. Very quickly delegations came from city of Pergamum and the city of Nicaea informing him that they were going to make him a god and needed his permission to build temples in his name. Of course, Octavius said, “That’s okay. You don’t have to. But, if you insist….” Two years later, the senate even gave him the title we find in Luke 2:1 – Augustus, which means “great” as in god. He became Caesar Augustus, not only the Emperor of Rome but also a god who had been appointed by the will of the other gods. It was in his hands to bring the “pax Caesar Augustusdeorum” or the peace of the gods to the mortals on the earth. He was the incarnation of all the gods. He was the savior.

The people loved him. He expanded the Roman Empire, rebuilt temples and public buildings, reorganized the Senate, and brought opportunities to the people. He was so popular that Roman men even adopted his hairstyle. For the first time there was peace in the world, as long as you didn’t oppose Octavius. One scholar noted that never before in the history of the world was a man worshipped like Octavius – Caesar Augustus.

Some of you are saying – how come we’ve never heard of him? Have you ever looked at the calendar? The sixth month is named after the god Julius Caesar and the seventh month is named after Caesar Augustus – August.

Why did he want the world to be registered? Taxes. More money was needed to fund the growing army – 28 legions, each legion had over 5000 soldiers. More money was needed to fund Rome and fill the coffers of the god Augustus. But, there’s something more – Herod the king of Judea had made Octavius mad and this was his way of proving a point to Herod that he was the boss. Amazing isn’t it? Everybody’s life is turned upside just so an egomaniac can prove a point. So verse 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 2 Αὕτη ἡ ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου. 3 Καὶ ἐπορεύοντο πάντες ἀπογράφεσθαι, ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν πόλιν.

In short, Jesus was born in a world ruled by a cruel, egomaniac who thought he was god and didn’t think one bit about uprooting people and turning their lives upside down. This was the Crazy World – power, intimidation, cruelty, propaganda, brutality, show, dazzle, and everything demonic.

II. GOD ALWAYS ACCOMPLISHES HIS SOVEREIGN WILL.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 4 Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρέτ, εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν, εἰς πόλιν Δαυίδ, ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλέεμ, διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυίδ, 5 ἀπογράψασθαι σὺν Μαριὰμ τῇ μεμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ γυναικί, οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ. Joseph and Mary Bethlehem

Background: Caesar Augustus – claiming to be god, emperor of the world commanding everyone to go to their hometown – does not realize that he is just a pawn in the Master Plan of God. This was all part of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

God is not unaware of all that is happening in the world. He knows everything and He works all things towards His divine purpose. Job 42 1 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Daniel 2:20 “…Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…”

Application: Are you afraid of what’s happening in this world? Are you discouraged by what you hear on the news? Just know that God is in complete control. Everything is falling into His divine purpose, whether in the world or in your life.

III. GOD ALWAYS COMES IN HUMILITY AND GRACE.

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. Typically people think that Joseph and Mary just arrived Manger Nativityin Bethlehem and couldn’t find any room in the local motel. Not true. They were there for a few days before she went into labor. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 6 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ, ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν. 7 Καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτόν, καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

The word for inn is “kataluma,” which is guestroom. Joseph and Mary were probably staying with some friends and couldn’t find any privacy and had to deliver Jesus in the family room. Unlike Caesar Augustus who was living in the lap of luxury, the King of Kings had to spend his first night where the animals were tied. God’s ways are not of pomp and show and lights and noise but humility and meekness. The world looks for a conquering hero on a white horse who would destroy the wicked. People are still looking for a leader who will step to the plate, with charisma and charm, and wrong the rights and fix all the craziness but God’s way hasn’t changed. God’s way is the way of the manger – the way of humility.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

Background: Roman society was divided into many classes. You were born into your class and there’s nothing you could do to get out if it. Unlike Augustus who surrounded himself with powerful elites, God came to those who were the lowest. Shepherds were a smelly lot. They were dirty but they were on God’s mailing list.

Application: Do you think that you don’t deserve the grace of God? His grace is available to you.

IV. GOD’S WAY IS ALWAYS ONE PERSON TELLING ANOTHER.

shepherds nativity11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

That is still God’s Way – the angels told the shepherds, the shepherds came and saw, the shepherds went and told others, and the others marveled. Are you afraid of what’s happening in this world? Are wondering where God is in all this? He is perfectly in charge and His plan keeps moving. The real question is do you know Him as your Savior?

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 4)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas seasonYou know Christmas is here when: it takes you an hour to drive somewhere that normally takes 15 minutes; you can’t find a parking place at the mall; and people who are normally congenial snap at you. This series is to help us have the right attitude, not just during the Christmas season but also in every season of life.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background:  So far we have seen three messages in this series – 1. “How to Have Love Without Hypocrisy.” 2. “How to Hate Evil and Cling to Good.” 3. “How to Outdo Each Other in Showing Honor.” This morning we come to verse 11 and 12not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” On the one hand, that verse seems like quite simple. But, pause and study it carefully and you will see that it is a message we desperately need to hear in America today. The title of this message is How to Stay Ablaze for God. Christianity in America is suffering:

–       Not because the gospel is weak (it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes),

–       Not because people are more sinful (people are just as sinful today as they were in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah),

–       Not because we don’t have the knowledge (we know more today than we ever did before),

–       Not because we don’t have the resources (never before has the church had all the literature, technology, and knowhow at its disposal),

–       Not because we don’t have the man power (we have more Christians today than any other time in history),

–       Not because we don’t have the time (there are still 24 hours in a day),

–       Not because we are more persecuted than before (study the early church that had to face the lions)

We try to pass the blame on this, that, and the other. The real problem in America is that most Christians have become anemic, lifeless, and weak. What is needed is the spirit of a Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, men and women on fire for God.

This morning if the spiritual temperature of our nation troubles you, stop looking to Washington or Hollywood and start looking in the mirror. Are you ablaze for God?

The passage breaks down into three parts:

I. BE ON FIRE FOR GOD.

11 not lagging in diligence, A better translation of that would be “in zeal, do not be lazy.”

Christianity in America is suffering because we have lost the zeal, the fire, the passion, the urgency, the energy, the boldness, and the forthrightness that moved the world for God in previous generations.

Anytime you say that, immediately we think of someone who is pushy and obnoxious, trying to cram the gospel down our throat. No one wants that. That does more harm than good for the kingdom of God. People run when they see you coming. What we are talking about is “being in a spirit of revival.” It’s not that we have the gospel but the gospel has us. We are driven by our convictions regarding the lostness of every human being, the eternal judgment that is waiting in the end, the salvation through Jesus Christ being the only hope for them. The church is not a cruise liner. It is a rescue ship.

For e.g. Many years ago, when I first began in the ministry, I actually prayed to God for convictions. I had seen too many pastors and church people having a good time on a cruise liner while all around them there were people drowning in the water. It didn’t happen overnight but little by little God began to remove the complacency of my heart and replace it with His convictions.

Guess who was instrumental in this? The Holy Spirit. Listen to the next phrase – fervent in spirit, Again a better translation would be “boiling by the Spirit.” In other words, Ask the Holy Spirit to set you on fire. Our zeal for the gospel is not some self-induced passion but the Holy Spirit Himself sets us on fire. What you and I try to light ourselves on fire we fizzle out but when the Holy Spirit lights us up we begin to burn with an incredible unquenchable zeal.

That phrase “boiling by the Spirit” was used of Apollos in Acts 18:25 “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.”

Meaning: Set on fire by the Holy Spirit does not mean that you have all the answers and you have arrived. All is means is that moment and time you are completely under the authority and direction of the Holy Spirit

Any heart that is willing can have the Holy Spirit. He will empower whoever will honor Him.

Application: Many of us are on fire by the wrong spirit.

Now here comes another phrase that is critical for being on fire for God – serving the Lord. My paraphrase would be “with Jesus as Our Master.”

The purpose of the Holy Spirit is never to glorify Himself or you. His purpose is to glorify Jesus. Jesus Himself said in John 16:13-14  13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

Now we begin to walk, talk, think, and behave as Jesus. Now when we meet people, they see Jesus in us. There is no place for sin and self.

Robert Murray McCheyne, “Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear and your heart full of God’s Spirit is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.”

Application: Are you on fire for God? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Are you living every moment to magnify Jesus Christ?

II. BE HOPEFUL AND PATIENT

12 rejoicing in hope,

What is HOPE? There are 2 ways people use the word hope: One, I sure hope it works out. Meaning = I don’t think it will get better; Second, Hope is on its way. Meaning = Don’t give up. There is help coming. It is the expectation of something better to come.

The Holy Spirit is the harbinger of hope. Listen to Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Again, Romans 15:13  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work and I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness. You can talk about hope and you can make hope your campaign slogan but if there is no genuine hope, nothing will happen.

Now someone might say, but you don’t realize how bad it is. Listen to the very next line – patient in tribulation. First the word tribulation refers to pressure to the point of breaking. Why are we surprised? Jesus said in John 16:33 “…In the world you will have tribulation…”

How are we to face tribulation? Be patient. It is not some passive putting up with things but actively standing and enduring.

Someone might say “that’s hard to do.” Listen again to John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Application: Are you rejoicing in hope? Are you patient in the midst of trouble?

III. BE IN CONSTANT PRAYER

continuing steadfastly in prayer; Literally – busy yourself in prayer

Most of us busy ourselves in worry, in doubt, and in complaining.

Our prayer is our communication with the home base.

Stop praying and one by one like dominoes it will all crash. First to go is patience in trouble, next to go is joy, because there is no hope. Then, you are no longer following Jesus, no longer filled with the Spirit, and now you are simply existing with passion and zeal.

E.M. Bounds “Short devotions deplete spiritual vigor, arrest spiritual progress, sap spiritual foundations, blight the root and bloom of spiritual life. They are the prolific source of backsliding, the sure indication of a superficial piety; they deceive, blight, rot the seed, and impoverish the soil.”

In other words, your spiritual life, for practical purposes is dead. You can put up the tree, hang the wreaths, buy the gifts, sing Christmas carols but it doesn’t do anything for you or anybody else.

Application: Did this message describe you? Are you ablaze for God? Or, are you burned out for God?

John Wesley “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”

Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

MARKS OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

MARKS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

MARKS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH

Acts 3:1-10  1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;  3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Overall Background:  The Book of Acts could be referred to as the Book of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 we read about His coming — 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Some people have misinterpreted that verse to think that the Holy Spirit is like a wind or some mystical power or force. The first thing that you and I need to understand is that the Holy Spirit is a real person with feelings, emotions, and personality. The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as “He” or “Him” and never “it.”

The second thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit came as promised by Jesus to His disciples— John 14:16  16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth… Jesus sent Him to take His ministry to a whole new level—John 16:7-8  7 “…I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. Where Jesus in His humanity could only be with one of us at a time, the Holy Spirit can be with all of us all of the time. But the most important thing: He came to glorify Jesus Christ—John 16:14 He will glorify Me…

The whole purpose of the Holy Spirit is centered on Jesus Christ.

What happened when He came? Incredible things began to happen:

–       He transformed the previously timid and no-count disciples into fearless apostles. Acts 2:14 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice” What a transformation from the Peter who couldn’t stay awake and pray with His Master! This same Peter denied Jesus three times, to the point of cursing Him.

–       He took the ministry of Jesus to a whole new level. At the end of Peter’s sermon. Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

–       He took the previously unreliable and unfocused group of men and women and organized them into a dedicated and focused church. Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. The list goes on and on—caring for each other’s needs, meeting from house to house, praising God, having favor with all people, and more were added.

How did all this happen? Acts 2:4 gives us the secret, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” It means that they were under the full control and direction of the Holy Spirit. He was in charge, calling the shots. Not only that, but He brought with Him all the resources they needed to accomplish the task that Jesus had given to them. He brought for them everything they needed to be like Jesus. In short, it was a Spirit-filled church.

In Acts 3, we come across an incident that shows us what this Spirit-filled church looks like. It was marked by three very important things. If we are going to be a Spirit-filled church, these are the very things that should mark us – Love, Hope, and Liberty.

MARK #1 – LOVE

Background: We just read about the incident where Peter and John were walking into the temple and they came across a man who was lame from his birth. Where I grew up, I saw thousands of such men, women, and children. In fact, I remember a blind man who used to sit on the bridge by the train station. I remember seeing him as a little boy and he was still there when I left as a teenager to come here. He would sing beautifully all day. If I had a quarter, I would drop it in his cup. He would climb up and down the bridge with a cane. He was just a fixture.

This was not an unusual sight for Peter and John. They had seen thousands of such people. There’s a reason why this incident is mentioned in this book. Peter and John and the rest of the church were now filled with the Holy Spirit. Their eyes had changed. They didn’t see the same way they used to see. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”

The Holy Spirit had given them Jesus eyes – eyes of compassion, mercy, and love. He was not a fixture anymore. He was a real person with real feelings, real pain, and real needs. Can you imagine the conversation between Peter and John? – “You see him.” “I’ve seen him all my life.” “It must be hard living like that.” “If Jesus were here, He would do something.” “Let’s go talk to him.”

The Holy Spirit had transformed their judgmental, critical, negative, condescending eyes into the eyes of love and compassion. The first fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22). We know that the Father is love (For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son – John 3:16); we know that Jesus is love; but did you know that the first evidence of the Spirit filled life is “Love.” Not human love where we love those who love us and love those who are lovable but love that loves those who hate us and loves those who are unlovable. Only the Holy Spirit can give us such a love.

Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Show me a person who is busy finding fault, constantly critical, constantly hateful, and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a family that is constantly at each other’s throats and I will show you a family that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a church that is constantly bickering and fussing and fighting and I will show you a church that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. They may make a lot of noise but it is nothing more than “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) But show me a church that loves Jesus, loves each other, and loves the lost and I will show you a church that is full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Does that mean there will not be any problems? Of course not! But “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (I Pet 4:8)

That’s why church is unlike any business or organization. You can run a business and not love your customers; you can run a clinic and never love your patients; but you can never work with God without love. Only love can break down all barriers and only the Holy Spirit filling a church can give that kind of love to each other and those outside.

Do you have love in your heart? The real question is “Are you filled with the Spirit?”

MARK #2 – HOPE

What is interesting is that they didn’t just love this man but they had hope for him.

Background: This man was lame from his mother’s womb. He had never walked before. He never expected to walk ever. He was hopeless. He was expecting some money so he could buy some food.

Imagine once again Peter and John talking – “What do you think he wants John?” “Same thing he’s always wanted – some money, maybe food and clothes.” “What would Jesus do for him?” “I think He would make him walk.” “Let’s go make him walk.”

4…Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

The Holy Spirit had transformed their hopeless, powerless lives into hope-filled, power-filled, radiant lives. Rom. 15:13  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit comes in all fullness, He brings hope, abounding hope.

For e.g. The year was 2005. Nicole and I had been in Henderson for 7 years. We had done our best to reach people. We had worked two jobs. We would hear things like—“No one will ever come to your church.” “You are wasting your time.” We were not immune to the “greener-grass syndrome.” It was a very discouraging time to say the least. This was also the time that God was teaching me about the life of Christ—Spirit-filled life. God began to impress upon our hearts that we are to invest our lives in this community. This was not a stepping-stone. God began to fill our hearts with hope for this 30-mile radius. It would be another 3 years before we would leave the old building and begin afresh but hope had come into our hearts. In 2008 we finally moved and began the work of tearing down the old and building the new—new constitution, new core values, new mission. 5 years later, look where we are today! That’s what hope will do for you!

Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work and I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness. You can talk about hope and you can make hope your campaign slogan but if there is no genuine hope, nothing will happen.

MARK #3 – LIBERTY

Background: Look at what happened to him – And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. No baby-steps here. He is jumping for joy!

The Holy Spirit had transformed his bondage to liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” What is Liberty? It is not liberty to sin. It is liberty from every man-made formalism, tradition, and legalism. Don’t misunderstand me – The Holy Spirit will inspire you to obey God but it will not assist you in your dead, meaningless rituals. D.L. Moody once said, “there must be a funeral in a good many churches before there is much work done, we shall have to bury the formalism so deep that it will never have any resurrection.” I’ve had some people come to me wanting to resurrect the old—“Back in our home church.” Very nicely and yet firmly, I reminded them that five years ago, we had a funeral. This is a Spirit-led church. This is a Book of Acts church. In fact, I have actually counseled people to go to other churches.

What is the benefit of having a Spirit-led, Book of Acts church? 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Excerpts from the Letter to the Kindle Ministry from Flint Hill.

The world wants to see a church doesn’t make any sense.

Application: We cannot live without the Holy Spirit. If you are leaning on anybody but the Holy Spirit this morning – not only are you miserable but also you are making that person miserable. You are expecting from them what only the Holy Spirit can do. A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will be filled with love, hope, and liberty. He will set your eyes on the crucified Jesus Christ.

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYEDWe are living in a time when old values and beliefs are under attack. We are being told that there is a new world coming, whether we like it or not. We are being advised to abandon all hope of ever returning to the old. In fact, they are warning us that the new order has no place for us and it would be safer for us to seek refuge in some remote hideaway. This is very similar to the time when David wrote the opening words of Psalm 11In the Lord I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.The Lord tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.Upon the wicked He will rain coals;
Fire and brimstone and a burning wind
Shall be the portion of their cup.For the Lord is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright. Overall Background:  The psalm we just read is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. No one knows the exact setting of this psalm. Maybe David wrote it in his earlier life when he was dodging King Saul. Maybe he wrote it when he was battling against the Philistines. Or maybe he wrote it as he was fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom. No matter what prompted David to write this psalm, one thing is for sure – they are words full of hopelessness and fear. They are a call to retreat; they are a signal to fall back and withdraw; Application: They remind us a lot of the words we are hearing today.

  • Things have really gone downhill. I’ve never seen the morality so low; I’ve never seen the economy so poor.
  • America’s glory days are over. I don’t think we will ever return to those good old days again. Might as well pack up and move elsewhere.
  • We are living in the last days. Prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes. Get ready for Jesus to come.

I’ve heard those statements from some very well meaning people. Each of those has a hint of truth but they betray a shift in focus in our lives. Let’s walk through this passage together. There are three things that will stand out: I. DAVID’S LIFE OF FAITH

1 In the Lord I put my trust;
 Background: David begins with the words of faith. It is a declaration that his trust is not in people, things, armies, or chariots. His trust is in the living God. David talked a lot about trust in his other psalms:

  • Psalm 5:11a “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them.” (Protection)
  • Psalm 32:10 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.” (Mercy)
  • Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” (Focus)

The only way that you and I can survive in this world is by trusting in the Living God. Show me a man/woman who is all frazzled and frustrated, and I will show you a man who is not trusting in God. Faith is the antidote to fear. II. THBy the way, that is the official motto of our nation – “In God We Trust.” Even though this motto was not officially recognized until 1956, this statement defines us as a nation. Several times in our nation’s history we have seen disasters. It’s only by the grace of God that we have been able to dust ourselves off and get back up. II. THE COUNSEL OF FALSE FRIENDS

How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain? Background: Keep in mind that these are not David’s words. He is quoting the counsel of his so-called friends. “Flee as a bird to your mountain?” That is a very interesting analogy. Birds are some of the most skittish of all creatures. You take one step towards them and immediately they fly away. David’s friends are counseling him to fly away like a bird, not just to some tree but to a mountain. Go as far away as possible to some remote place and never return again. Not only that but his so-called friends are also warning him of impending danger – 2 For look! The wicked bend their bow,
they make ready their arrow on the string,
that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. Meaning: Your enemies are around you; brace yourself for a shot to the heart. We all want friends. We all need friends. Friends can make the road of life a little less bumpy; friends can make the load of life a little less heavy. But, let me say it as clearly as possible – “With friends like these, you don’t need any enemies. They will suck the life out of you. They will dishearten you. They will bind you in chains. If you have friends like these, it’s time to break some friendships. Men – find yourself godly men who will encourage you, pray for you, stand with you, and tell you the truth. If you find such friends, do whatever you can to hang on to them. Ladies – maybe I am generalizing here…but women are more apt to seek friends they can share their hearts with, cry on their shoulders, and laugh with. Please don’t fall prey to friends who will destroy your life, marriage, and dreams. Listen to what else these so-called friends say. – 3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?” This is the final blow. This time the counsel is not just about individual troubles but the state of society. The very foundations of society are destroyed. It sounds very much like what we are hearing in America and there’s some truth to them.

  • The foundation of the Bible has been destroyed. In 1947, the Supreme Court sharply defined the separation of church and state. Great misunderstanding about National or denominational church. In 1962-63, the Supreme Court decided to ban prayers in public school. In 1973, Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
  • The foundation of morality has been destroyed.
  • The foundation of the family is under heavy attack.

What are the false friends saying? Flee like a bird to your mountain. There’s nothing you can do. Throw in the towel. It’s gone to the dogs. Just reminisce; just resign; just retreat. This is exactly what’s happening in America today. People who talk like this are false friends of this nation. If you are talking like this, just know that you are not doing anybody any good. In fact, you are more the problem than the solution. III. DAVID’S RENEWED VISION OF GOD How did David respond to them? First, he rejected their advice and, instead, chose to look up. What did he see? 4 The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men. WOW! What a change in scenery! While down on earth everything was in despair, up in heaven everything was in control! God was not for a moment disheveled by the happenings on earth. As the famous preacher Robert G. Lee would say, “God is not a bewildered bellhop running up and down the corridors of the hotel He created trying to find His key!” In fact, His purposes were moving just fine. What are His purposes? For the Righteous – 5 The Lord tests the righteous,
 For the righteous, it was a time for testing. God is testing our great nation. He is testing to see if we are still one nation under God; He is testing to see if we will recognize that He is the source of our strength; He is testing to see if we will turn towards Him. Our financial/moral/spiritual crisis is not what God is doing to America as much as what God is doing for America. For the wicked – But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. For the wicked, it was a time for judgment. God is getting ready to pour His wrath on the wicked. He will not allow even a single, small transgression to go unnoticed. Listen to verse 6 & 7 –Upon the wicked He will rain coals;
Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the Lord is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright. Bottom line: David did not have to run but simply rest in the promise that God loved Him and had His eyes upon him. Psalm 11 is calling us— –       to look up and see that God still has His hand upon our nation. –       to examine our hearts and see if there is any wickedness in us. –       to step out of our hiding place and be the salt and light in our community. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16  13“You are the salt of the earth… 14“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. –       to rebuild our families and marriages according to biblical standards. We are to labor until every boy, girl, man, and woman finds peace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. I told you that I am optimistic about our nation. Several times in our nation’s history it seemed that we had hit bottom. First time around 1730’s – The American Colonies were going downhill and God sent the First Great Awakening. Second time was around 1790 – People were moving west and the country was going downhill. God sent the Second Great Awakening in the east and west. Third time was in 1857. A man by the name of Jeremiah Lanphier led the prayer revival and countless many were saved. God raised up men like D.L. Moody and others. Again in the 1920s and 1930s it seemed the morals of our nation were gone. God raised up the Billy Sundays and the Billy Grahams and many others. In the 60’s and the 70’s it was the Jesus Movement where disillusioned young men and women turned towards God. Now again in 2013, our nation is being tested with financial and moral fire. This is not a time to fear but to place our faith in the Living God and to hold up the cross as the only hope for this world. “From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA?

WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA? by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

With all that has happened in our nation in the past week, many people are afraid, discouraged, and hopeless about the future of our nation. So this morning I want to preach a message titled “WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA?”

Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

1 Samuel 1:1-2  1Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
1 Samuel 1:10-11 10And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

Setting: In the past week, I have seen 3 different reactions to our elections: REMINISCE, RESIGN, and RETREAT.

1.     REMINISCE – I’ve heard some people say, “America’s best days are over. Just reminisce/remember the past. That is all that’s left. We are just like the Roman Empire in its final days.”

  • There are several problems with this view.
  • In some sense, we are like Rome – one of the wealthiest nation, largest military, largest multi-ethnic population.
  • We also seem to have the same problems that Rome did – moral problems, breakdown of the family unit, too many laws and lawsuits, weak borders.
  • But when you truly compare them, there are more differences than similarities.
  • Foundation: Rome was founded upon myths and mythologies of gods and goddesses; America was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles.
  • Church and Christians had hardly any voice in Rome; Christians are still a strong majority in this nation.
  • Attitude towards other countries – Rome conquered people and made them Romans; America has brought freedom and liberty to many peoples so they could hold their own elections.

2.     RESIGN – Some people have said, “Politics is a waste of time; all government is evil and Christians should just wash their hands from it. It’s not worth it. Jesus is my President. Christians should focus only on reaching the lost. ”

  • Although it sounds spiritual, there are several problems with this view.
  • If our Christian ancestors through the centuries had believed this way, infanticide and child abandonment would still be legal; gladiators would have continued to die in their brutal battles-to-the-death; human sacrifice would have continued and wiped out many nations; pedophilia would be perfectly legal; polygamy in the Western world would not be a problem; burning alive of women in India would have continued; Slavery and slave trade would have continued; and the list goes on.
  • It matters! Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16  13“You are the salt of the earth…

3.     RETREAT – Let’s just get ready for Jesus to come.

  • My study of the scripture tells me that Jesus will return again.
  • Did you know there are 300 prophecies in the OT of the first coming of Christ? Did you also know that there 500 in the OT about His Second Coming! If you add up all the verses on the second coming from the OT and NT, the total is about 2400! In the NT itself one out of every 25 verses has to do with the Second Coming of Jesus. Bottom Line: Jesus is coming back to make all things right.
  • But I want you to understand something. Things don’t have to be bad for Him to come. We or the world cannot expedite His coming.
  • He could come right now for the church—in the blinking of an eye—and then the Tribulation will begin.
  • You and I cannot set the calendar for the rapture by the events in the world.

So if the 3 different reactions to our elections—REMINISCE, RESIGN, and RETREAT—are wrong, how are we as Christians to live in a time like this? What’s next for America?

There was a period in the history of the people of Israel that resembles our time today. This was a very difficult time in the history of Israel. It was a time of change and transition. The old order was being pulled down and the new order was going up. The old order of the judges was being pulled down and the new order of the kings was going up. Things were not going too well.

Listen again to Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Overall Background: Those are the last words in the Book of Judges. The Nation was in bad shape. From every direction they were falling apart The only leaders over them were the priests. They had been the supreme authority over the people of Israel but they could not do but so much. They could not rule the people. They could not unite the people. They could not lead them in battle against their enemies. They needed a king:

–         Canaan had been conquered but it was far from being subdued.

–         In the South, the Philistines were still in control of 5 cities.

–         Jerusalem was still under Jebusite control.

–         The Seacoast was still in the hands of the Canaanites.

–         The little kingdom of Gezer was still independent.

–         To the north – the mighty kingdoms that Joshua had conquered were still not completely in control.

Why did God allow this? Why didn’t God help them win over these nations?

To understand that you have to read the opening of the Book of Judges

Judges 3:1-2  1Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan 2(this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it),

Did you hear that? The reason behind their defeat was God! God allowed those nations to remain. Why? To test them; to teach them war; to give them a backbone and muscle.

Application: Isn’t this the situation in our own lives. We have wars when we were hoping for peace; frustrations instead of rest; turmoil when we wanted tranquility. Why? God is testing us. He is teaching us to war. So that we may know ourselves; know God; rely upon Him; call upon Him. So that we may become strong in the Lord.

So also for our nation—God is testing us. He is teaching us to war. He is building some backbone and some muscle in us. Just when we were hoping for peace, there is turmoil. Just when we were hoping for a solution, we have a problem. All this is for our good.

Back to the story of Israel—how was God teaching them to war? When the Philistines and the other nations would come against Israel, God would raise up a judge to lead his people to war. This person would rally God’s people and teach them to war. This was the time that God raised up a Gideon, Barak, Sampson, and a Deborah. If it wasn’t for God leaving these nations, we would have never heard of them. Nevertheless, their impact was limited. There was no central government. The nation was on the brink of falling apart from the inside and outside.

Application: Doesn’t this somewhat describe our nation? God has bailed us out time and again. He has raised a leader here and a leader there – a D.L. Moody here and Billy Graham; a James Dobson here and James Kennedy there. But their impact has been limited.

By the way, it might be worth mentioning here that the priesthood had also become corrupt. The High Priest’s (Eli) sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were stealing from the people. The judges could fight against the enemy but they couldn’t fight against the priests.

It was time for a change of order. God was ready to bring down the order of the judges and set up the order of the Kings.

Application: People have asked me repeatedly in the past few days. What is God up to? Is God punishing us? Has God abandoned us? To the contrary, He is setting up a new order. He wants to teach His people to war. He wants to test us. He wants to build us up. For too long we have sat comfortably thinking that everybody thinks like us. Not true! He is bringing in a new order of things. He wants to bring about national unity. He wants to turn the hearts of the people back towards Him. If anything, the past week has shown that we are a nation divided.

Back to the history of Israel—how did God go about bringing a change?

–         Did He get the priest to announce that it’s time to change? No

–         Did He bring a King and set him on a throne? No

God’s greatest gifts come through sorrow and suffering. That which costs nothing will achieve nothing.

Application: We are enjoying the blessings of this great nation because others have paid the price.

For e.g. Did you know that many of the soldiers who fought in the revolutionary wars did not have shoes? Washington had to plead with the Congress to get the men some shoes. They had frost bites. They had no food. They slept out in the cold. We have forgotten them and not to mention they many many others who have given their lives through the years for our nation.

It began with a woman named Hannah. She was the second wife of a man named Elkanah. She was barren. Her sister wife would mock her and mistreat her. One day when they went to the house of the Lord, Hannah slipped away by herself and began to pray.

Listen to 1 Samuel 1:10-11 10And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

God heard her prayer and in time she had a son named Samuel. True to her word she gave him to the Lord.

–         This is the Samuel who went up and down the length and breadth of Israel to unite the people.

–         This is the Samuel who set up the order of the Kings.

–         This is the Samuel who replaced Saul with David – the true King. Through that line came Jesus—the son of David—whose kingdom will never end.

All because one young woman suffered and pleaded with the Lord and kept her word to the Lord. She could have hung on to her only child but she gave him for the service of God.

Application: What is God doing in America? He is pulling down the order of the judges and raising up the order of the kings—boys and girls who will conquer this world for Jesus Christ. We may have to suffer a while. We may have to give up some personal comforts. But in the end, the reward would be worth it.

I am more hope-filled than ever about our nation. Because now God is getting ready to raise up Davids and Daniels and Esthers. What is God calling you to do to bring our nation together? Do you know Christ as your Savior? Are you telling others, especially the young generation about Him?

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