Secret Religion – Fasting

SECRET RELIGION – FASTING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

secretreligion_fastingIntroduction: This morning we are in part 3 of the series – SECRET RELIGION – and our focus is on fasting. Again, God wants us to fast, not for self-praise but to seek His face.

Matthew 6   16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Overall Background: In the past 2 messages Jesus exposed the giving hypocrites and the praying hypocrites. Giving hypocrites – those who give charity but only for public praise. Praying hypocrites – those who pray but only to look spiritual and jab their enemies. Neither of them gets anything from God. Now He turns His attention towards the fasting hypocrites. Listen to what He says – “For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.” Meaning: The fasting hypocrites are not really fasting. They only appear to be fasting. I guess they have a Snickers bar hidden in their robe somewhere and now and then they take a bite when no one’s looking. But when someone comes along, they act all famished – “I’m suffering for Jesus.” Jesus says of them what He said about the other two – “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Meaning: God knows their hypocrisy and their fasting remains fruitless (no pun intended).

Here’s the gist of this message – Fasting is simply God’s people setting aside food, entertainment, and any distraction to get serious with Him. God wants us to fast. It brings tremendous results, especially when we are facing painful and impossible situations. But fasting with the wrong motives may impress some but not God.

Question: Do you fast? Are you facing a hopeless situation? A difficult marriage, a wayward child or grandchild, finances or employment, a frustrating habit, something in your past, a dream that’s too big and too risky. Are you concerned about our church, community, or nation? Then it’s time to fast and pray. Are you saved? No amount of fasting can help you. You’re just dieting all the way to Hell!

2 questions we will ask about Secret Religion and Fasting:

I. WHY FASTING IS VITAL? 

16 “Moreover, when you fast…

Background: Just like regarding prayer, Jesus does not say “if” you fast but “when” you fast. Meaning: Fasting, like prayer, was expected for God’s people. It may surprise some of you that fasting is all over the Bible. Let me give you some examples:

  1. Fasting when in the presence of God – Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, without bread and without water, before he received the 10 Commandments. Let me make it clear: the reason he was able to do this is because of the presence of God.
  2. Fasting when humbling oneself before God – On the Day of Atonement God commanded in Leviticus 16 29 “…you shall afflict your souls, (humble yourself) and do no work at all…30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” Although the word “fasting” is not mentioned, Jewish people fasted on this day to humble themselves before God.
  3. Fasting when mourning before God – Job fasted after the tragedy hit his home, as he says in Job 3:24 “For my sighing comes before I eat…” The people of Israel fasted all day before the Lord because of the civil war between the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of Israel. Hannah fasted before the Lord because she could not have any children. It says in 1 Samuel 1:7 So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she (sister wife) provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. When David and his men heard that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle, they fasted until evening. By the way, mourning was the main reason for fasting.
  4. Fasting when repenting over sins before God – Joshua fasted all day after the defeat of Israel at Ai. Under Samuel, the people of Israel fasted all day in repentance for their sins. The prophet Joel called for a fast because of the plague of locusts and the famine in the land. When Jonah pronounced God’s judgment against Nineveh, the entire city fasted; even the king and God turned away His wrath. Daniel fasted before the great vision in Daniel 9 and he begins his prayer with – 4“O Lord, great and awesome God…5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled…”
  5. Fasting when facing a major challenge – Esther fasted for 3 days along with her maids and all the Jewish people in Shushan before she went before the king to intercede for her people. When Nehemiah heard about the plight of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, he was so burdened that he wept and mourned for many days but he didn’t stop there. Listen to Nehemiah 1:4. He says, “I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

———–For time’s sake, let’s jump over to the New Testament————

  1. Fasting when beginning a new ministry – Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights before He started His ministry. The early church fasted and prayed before they sent Barnabas and Paul on the mission journey.
  2. Fasting when doing ministry – Paul mentions fasting as a sign of being God’s servant. In 2 Corinthians 6 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings…” Ministry has problems and will always have problems. Before you complain and criticize have you considered cutting back from food? When I come across people like this, I’m thinking – “has this person enough spiritual maturity to put down that hamburger or that fried chicken and actually pray?!!”

Application: Are you facing a difficult time, a tough challenge? Are you willing to set aside the plate of food and humble yourself before God? Andrew Murray (Dutch Reformed South African pastor and writer) said, “Fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

II. HOW FASTING GOT DISTORTED? 

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance.

Shofar

Shofar (All images © 2016 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Just like everything else, we human beings know how to distort everything good that comes from God. God condemned all such fasting. Listen to Isaiah 58   1 “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; (the word is actually shofar, which means a horn from a ram or an antelope). They would blow the shofar to announce the fast and there was a whole system and rituals of how to do this. What God is saying here is – “Put down your shofar and your rituals and speak like a shofar to my people.” What should Isaiah say – “Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness…They take delight in approaching God. Then they complain – 3 “Why have we fasted…and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ God says, “Let me explain to you why.” 3 “…in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness…5 Is it a fast that I have chosen…6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.’…11 The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In…14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth…The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

So also Zechariah the prophet – Zechariah 7   4 Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, 5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?…7 Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets…9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.’

Let’s return back to what Jesus said – 16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. After the Babylonian exile the Jewish people were very strict about their fasts but by the time of Jesus, they began to fast for the wrong reasons. Since humbling was described as “afflicting oneself,” they would not shave or wash their clothes or take a bath. As bad as that sounds, this was how they communicated to others that they were more spiritual. Sometimes it got really extreme – One rabbi (Eleazer ben Azariah) from the time of Jesus fasted until his teeth turned black. Why? Atoning for the sin of opposing a majority view! Rabbi Joshua made a derogatory remark against the school of Shammai and went on a fast until his teeth also turned black. Rabbi Simeon insulted Rabbi Aqiba and fasted until his teeth turned black. In a sense, this was probably what was happening during the time of Jesus. They were taking pride in their penitence.

Application: People are no different today – How many times I have heard people judge someone walking in with a beautiful dress or makeup or nice suit and judge them on that. This is reverse prejudice!

What did Jesus say – “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” People may be impressed but God is not. Instead, 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Meaning: Don’t let your spirituality distract people from the Savior.

Fasting is no fun. I fast every week. I tell you this not to brag but to urge you to do the same. I am not a very good faster. On days I fast, everything looks like food to me. The pen looks like a French fry and the paperweight looks like a sandwich! Just put a little ketchup on it! But the benefits are unbelievable. God has answered repeatedly in response to my prayer and fasting.

Remember—Stress can either drive you to indulge or it can drive you to get serious with God. Fasting is simply God’s people setting aside food, entertainment, and any distraction to get serious with Him. You may say – “I don’t know how to fast.” We’re not talking about 40 days and 40 nights. Can we not set aside a day to fast unto God? There are several great resources out there on fasting.

(To preview or purchase these resources, click on the images.)

Ronnie Floyd - "The Power of Prayer and Fasting"

Ronnie Floyd, The Power of Prayer and Fasting: God’s Gateway to Spiritual Breakthroughs.

Elmer Town - "Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough"

Elmer Towns, Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough: A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts.

 

Do you know Christ as your Savior? Do you need to fast?

Secret Religion – Charity

SECRET RELIGION – CHARITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

secretreligion_charityIntroduction: This morning we begin a 3-part series through the Sermon on the Mount called “SECRET RELIGION.” Jesus calls us to be the Salt and the Light in this world but He wants us to do good secretly, covertly, privately, off the record.

Matthew 6   1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Overall Background: The passage we just read marks a shift in Jesus’ focus in the Sermon on the Mount. In this new section Jesus turns His attention towards hypocrites and their hypocrisy. In fact, 3 times He uses the term “hypocrites” to describe people who do the right thing but for the wrong reasons. They give charity, they pray, and they fast but they do it for show. Jesus warns His listeners that although they need to do those things, they better do them with the right motives. What happens to people who serve God for popularity? 3 times we hear the phrase – “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” In other words, God will reward people for their good deeds but not if they’ve already earned their rewards through self-adulation or public praise. If you go around patting your back or looking for praise, you have your reward. God has nothing for you.

Here’s the point – Jesus not only came to raise the bar of righteousness but He also came to raise the standard of evaluation. Meaning: it’s not just “what more you do for God?” but also “why do you do what more you do for God?” Listen carefully – Christian life is more than a bigger checklist. It’s also a deeper heart check.

Question: Why do you serve God? Why do you want to help people? What is your motive? If you’re motives are to impress others, you are cutting into your own reward. There’s no eternal glory for you. Are you saved? If not, there are no rewards for you.

2 things we will learn about Secret Religion and Charity:

I. GOD COMMANDS US TO SHOW CHARITY.

2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed,

Background: The first thing to remember is that Jesus said “when” and not “if.” It means Jesus assumed that His listeners would practice charity. Charity/helping the poor was a very important part of Jewish social life. Listen to the following passages from the Old Testament. They are long but worth hearing, especially in our generation:

Deuteronomy 15   7 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. 9 Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. 10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, (Meaning: it’s not just the content but also the intent.) because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, “You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

If that wasn’t enough, listen to Deuteronomy 24 19 “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (That’s what Boaz did for Ruth.) 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing. Charity is not optional. It is mandatory.

Here’s more: Jesus did not lower this standard. In fact, He raised it. If you remember when the rich young ruler came to Him asking how to attain eternal life. First, Jesus questioned if he had kept all the commandments. When he replied yes, listen to what Jesus said to him in Matthew 19:21 “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But the young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.

Unfortunately, in our country, the church forgot charity and the government had to take it up. Now, people complain when they see someone with EBT cards and food stamps. We fuss when we see people waiting for the check. This wouldn’t have been a problem if that church had studied her Bible and put it to practice!

Application: What do you think about charity? How do you respond when you see those who are less fortunate? Sure – you have to be careful but how do you respond when there’s a legitimate need? Are you generous or are you stingy? Do you walk around with a tunnel vision, only caring for you and yours or do you care for others?

II. PRIDE CAUSES US TO LOSE OUR REWARDS. 

2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.

Background: Just when we think Jesus would give us some tips on how to recognize who really needs help and how to give selectively or how God promises to bless us when we give generously, He lays down a condition – “do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.” Meaning: Don’t advertise your charity for complements. God wants to acknowledge our giving. He wants to record it. He wants to reward us for being generous. But, when people say – “Yes – I want God’s blessing but I also want people’s praise.” That’s when God says – “I’m out.”

C.S. Lewis - Mere ChristianityWhy do people do that? It’s more than just a desire to be acknowledged. It is PRIDE. This week I was reading through C.S. Lewis’s classic work “Mere Christianity.” Amazingly, as I was prepping for this message, I happened to be reading his chapter titled, “The Great Sin” on Pride. I want to read a few quotes from this book. He begins with this remark – “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves…There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.” Then Lewis goes to the root of pride – “Pride is essentially competitive…Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. (Lewis explains that other sins like anger, unforgiveness, adultery, stealing are nothing like pride.) Then he says – “It is a terrible thing that the worst of all vices can smuggle itself into the very center of our religious life…The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this (pride) does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes directly from Hell.” (By the way, it’s pride that got the Devil kicked out.)

How does all this connect with this message on “Secret Religion?” Why do people blow the trumpet when they give? Because they are announcing that they are so much more generous and benevolent and charitable than the other person. Check out how much I am giving more than the last guy. Now, I know someone is bound to say – “Yeah…I know so and so rich person gives so much. It’s all pride. They just want to prove that they are so much better and wealthier than the rest of us.” Here’s what I have found, in my experience – Usually, it’s not the rich who announce how much they are giving but the “not so rich.” It’s usually those who don’t have much who constantly make it a point to talk about how unselfish they were when they saw that man on the street and they bought him a meal or that homeless woman going through the trash dump and they gave her a hug and took her to the shelter. What these people are really saying is – “I am so much better than the rich man who drove by and didn’t give anything.” Guess what – you just got bit by the Pride bug! Because you don’t know if the rich man just gave away his millions to build that homeless shelter! Pride is not based on the content of our wallets. It’s based on the condition of our hearts.

Before you run out saying – “That’s right. I don’t care about anyone’s opinion. I am not doing it for them. I don’t need their praise.” Listen to what C.S. Lewis says – “The real…diabolical Pride comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you…the Proud man…says ‘Why should I care for the applause of the rabble as if their opinion were worth anything?…All I have done has been to satisfy my own ideals…the traditions of my family…because I’m That Kind of Chap (Guy)…the devil loves ‘curing’ a small fault by giving you a great one. We must never try to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity…” WOW! Isn’t Pride deceptive?

But listen – 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; Don’t misunderstand this analogy. It does not mean that this humble charitable person is flippant and careless, just dropping money everywhere. There’s something very deep in the analogy. Once again, back to C.S. Lewis – “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort…who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap (guy) who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility; he will not be thinking about himself at all.” In other words, they are the type of person whose – “left hand does not know what their right hand is doing.”

What’s the result? 4 “…and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

There’s only one person who lived this perfectly, 100% – Jesus Christ. Listen to John 5   41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?”

Secret Religion is when you neither look for nor look down on the approval of others but you constantly look to God. Your desire is to do all things to please God.

What will happen in this world if we begin to give charity and do it for the right reasons? What will happen if we stop looking for or looking down on the approval of others but only look for the approval of God? What will happen if we start practicing “Secret Religion?” Only the Holy Spirit can create this spirit in us. Are you saved?

Unity in the Body

UNITY IN THE BODY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Closeup image of hands of businesspeople on top of each other as symbol of their partnership

This morning we will be observing Communion. Turn to I Corinthians 11 for our message titled, UNITY IN THE BODY.

1 Corinthians 11   23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Upper Room 1

Upper Room 1 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Upper Room 2

Upper Room 2 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Upper Room 3

Upper Room 3 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: About 10 months ago, Nicole and I stood in the very place where these words were spoken. It’s known as the Cenacle, the upper room, where Jesus celebrated the last supper with His disciples. How do we know that? Because, during the early centuries of Christianity, the church on this site was the center of Christianity in Jerusalem. Tradition claims that it was also the site where Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection and where the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost. Even though the rib vaulted bay (ceiling), columns, pillars, and walls have been rebuilt many times, parts of the floor are claimed to be original. I cannot describe the feeling I had when we stood on the very ground that Jesus and the disciples possibly stood or sat on for the Last Supper.

Picture with me that night when Jesus was with His disciples in this upper room. Earlier in the evening Luke tells us in Luke 22:24 “there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” Jesus knew that and so in John 13 after the regular meal had ended Jesus began to wash the feet of His disciples. Why? To teach them what it meant to be humble. It was a demonstration of how they should be towards each other. They got it because when He revealed to them that one of them would betray Him, instead of being defensive or pointing fingers, Matthew 26:22 says, “they were exceedingly sorrowful…” and Mark 14:19 says, “they began…to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?”…“Is it I?” Meaning: They were not judging each other but themselves. Now, Jesus explained to them about the bread and the cup.

What’s the point? Before the disciples could understand the meaning of the bread and the cup, there had to be a change in attitude from pride and self-righteousness to humility, sorrow, and self-examination. A change in attitude had to come before a change in understanding. Unfortunately, by the time Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church, they were anything but that. They were pushing and shoving each other at the Lord’s Table. They were divided.

Question: How is your attitude this morning? Is there pride in your heart? Is there sorrow in your heart? Have you taken the time to think about what Jesus went through for you 2000 years ago? Have you examined yourself and asked – “Is it I?” or are you too busy judging others? Are you saved?

3 things we will see in this passage that will prepare us for Communion today and also bring unity in the body.

1. THE SOURCE OF DISUNITY 

To understand the context in which Paul wrote the words, we should begin in verse 17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, (Paul is telling them the reason for these instructions. It is to correct them.) since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

Background: What is Paul talking about? The Corinthian church was divided. Why? They had a lot of problems. You have to read the previous 10 chapters to understand that. They were filled with envy, strife, sexual immorality, idolatry, stealing, cursing, and the list goes on and one. They were living in the flesh. You cannot be united as a body of Christ and have this behavior on the side. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. In other words, it was no longer about the Lord’s Supper but their own supper. In other words, how the Corinthian Christians were acting at home is now how they were acting at church. Their personal sins were infecting the church body. What they were doing behind closed doors was now being done inside the church. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. Instead of the Communion being a time of humility, sorrow, and self-examination, they were having food fights! Who brought more food? Who brought less food? Who got in line first? As a result, some people were walking away hungry and some were walking away drunk. It was embarrassing! By the way, not much has changed, most church fights happen over food!

Here’s the point: Show me a church with a lot of problems and I will show you people living in sin. How you live Monday through Saturday will sooner or later show up Sunday mornings. “You can cover up only so long. Sooner or later it’ll come out in public.”

Application: How is Sunday worship for you? If Sunday worship is a sign of Monday living, how is Monday living? Is there trash in your life that you haven’t dealt with? Are you bringing your trash into the church body?

II. THE MEMORY OF THAT NIGHT 

Background: What is interesting to me is that Paul does not just reprimand them about their behavior at the table or give them a long lecture on the dangers of discord in church. Instead, he takes them down memory lane to that night when Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples. Listen to verse 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

That phrase – “in remembrance of Me” is very important. What Paul is saying here is that the reason you all are acting this way is because you have forgotten that night when Christ washed the feet of His disciples and when their hearts were humbled, He explained to them about the bread and the cup. You have lost sight of Christ and not just any Christ but the Christ who gave His body to be broken for us.

Again, verse 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Once again, there is that phrase – “in remembrance of Me.” You have forgotten your Master and God Jesus who allowed His blood to flow out for you.

What is the point? The antidote to disunity is a return to the night when Jesus revealed to His humble disciples the suffering that He was going to face. The reason churches are filled with pride and self-righteousness is because they have forgotten that night when Jesus was the focus and His sacrifice was the subject. Humility, great sorrow and self-examination was the only response. If there’s pride and hate in your life, bring the cross back into your memory.

Application: When was the last time you reflected on what Christ did on the cross for you? When was the last time you reflected on His death for your sins? When was the last time you told Him – “I’m not worthy of anything. It’s only by your grace that I stand.”

III. THE TIME FOR SELF-EXAMINATION

1 Corinthians 11   27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

The consequence of their personal sins was weakness, sickness, and even death. Could it be that the church in America is weak, sick, and dead is because we have lost sight of the sacrifice and death of Jesus for us.

Now, this is the crux of the matter – What do we do now? Listen to verse 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. The place to begin is to deal with sin in my own heart. What is the promise? If I do it, God won’t have to.

Application: Have you examined your life lately? This does not mean that you need to do introspection on yourself—go looking for sin. Let God expose your sin. Let God decide what is sin in your life. Then deal with it harshly.

What’s the result? It will bring unity in the body.

Are you part of the body of Christ?

The Blessing of Humility

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THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofhumilityThis morning we are looking at the third beatitude and our message is titled “THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY.”

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 meek, For they shall inherit the earth. At first glance this beatitude seems very simple to understand and easy to apply but it’s anything but that. I preached on it 13 years ago and so I pulled out my notes thinking that I could just warm up this old biscuit and serve it. I couldn’t do it. It’s not that I preached something wrong back then but I did not realize how deep it was entrenched in our system. It is listed as one among the three things that is not from God – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) It’s as if the Holy Spirit said to me – “You were digging in the right spot but you didn’t go deep enough.”

Application: Do you consider yourself a humble person? Be careful how you answer that! “Pride is so subtle. Just when you think you are humble, you get nailed!” As someone said, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” Here’s a better question – Do others consider you a humble person? Pride is the enemy’s choicest weapon against the Christian and the church. When they asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He answered, “whoever humbles himself as this little child.” Are you saved? To be saved you have to set your pride aside, admit that you are no good, and humbly receive God’s grace.

This beatitude is probably the most difficult beatitude that Jesus gave. Once again we’re going to ask 3 questions about this beatitude. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

I. WHO ARE THE MEEK?

“Blessed are the meek”

Background: Typically people run to Webster’s or some quote from a famous person to define meekness or humility. When Jesus gave this beatitude He did not have some dictionary or some Chinese philosopher in mind. Instead, He was quoting a psalm of David from the Old Testament – Psalm 37. Listen to verse 10 “For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth…” Jesus was quoting David. To understand meekness, we have to understand what David meant by it. He wrote this psalm to help the righteous deal with the wicked. He tells them to be meek. Keep in mind that this is not in the context of daily security or national defense. Remember David killed the wicked Goliath. This is in the context of daily relationships.

Who are the meek who inherit the earth according to David? If you put two verses in this psalm side by side, you get the true definition. Verse 11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth…” and verse 9 “But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.” In other words, meek are those who wait on the Lord. Typically, people think of the meek as people who walk around all hunched over saying, “I’ll go along with whatever” or “Just pretend I’m not here” or “Forgive me for living.” David’s description of the meek and the humble is a person who waits upon God when people do their thing. Instead of getting angry, frustrated, or disappointed with God, the meek let God handle their case.

It’s easy to be meek/humble when people are being nice to you. It’s a whole different story when they’re not. The perfect example is found in Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) What a complement! But do you know the context of this statement? Listen to verse 1 Then Miriam and Aaron (brother and sister) spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (They didn’t come out and say that.) 2 So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Do you think Moses didn’t know that? He must have told her – “Ignore them” but his friend God had heard it. Verse 4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” 6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” Isn’t that amazing when God speaks in your defense?!! You know why many times God doesn’t come to our aid? Because we are not meek and we take matters into our own hands.

But it doesn’t stop there. 9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron begged Moses to do something. Moses was not strutting saying, “Remember that next time. Don’t mess with me.” Instead, verse 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” How many of us would have done that? What was God’s response? 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.” You know why sometimes God doesn’t come to our aid? Because He knows we are not meek and we would love to crush our enemies instead of praying for them. Any wonder that Moses was the most humble person on earth?!!

Application: The true test of meekness comes when people mistreat us in our family, friend, work, neighborhood, and even church. Are you a meek and a humble person? True meekness and humility is a life that waits upon God and let’s God handle our battles. Do you wait upon Him? Do you trust Him to handle your case?

II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO INHERIT THE EARTH? 

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Background: We have to go back to Psalm 37 to understand it’s meaning. 5 times in this psalm that phrase “inherit the earth” is used. What is the point that David is making here? He explains it in the opening verses of the psalm – 1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. What a powerful imagery! The proud wicked seem to be cropping up and flourishing. They seem to be gaining power and prestige. They abuse and mistreat people but seem to be getting away with it. Don’t be afraid because they are like the grass in the Middle East. For the moment it appears so lush and green but once that hot desert wind known as the “hamsin” comes, it will dry up and fade away. Unlike Aaron and Miriam who were saved but acting like the proud wicked and God disciplined them, what will He do with the proud wicked? 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming… What else? 35 I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree. 36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

But what about the meek and the humble? “For they shall inherit the earth.” The key word here is “inherit.” What is an inheritance? It is something that has been passed down because of family connection. Because God is our heavenly father, Christ is our brother, and we are joint heirs with Him, everything that God has now belongs to us also. What should the meek focus on? 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Some of this inheritance will come to you in this life and some in the life to come. Don’t fret over it or be envious or waste your life wondering why they are so blessed and you’re not. Be meek and wait upon God. He will take care of you. You will “feed on His faithfulness.” You will have the “desires of your heart.” You will have “abundance of peace.” He will give you exactly what you need.

But there’s more. This inheritance is not just for you but also for your children and grandchildren. Here’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible – 25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. The blessing goes on!

Application: Do you want to inherit the earth? Do you want God’s blessing in your life? Are you waiting upon Him? Are you meek and humble in His sight?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

Keep in mind that the beatitudes build upon each other. The first one 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Remember – the kingdom of heaven is the Holy Spirit ruling your heart. When you are “poor in spirit” meaning less and less of self, you will be more and more led by the Holy Spirit. What is the second beatitude? 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. In life you will go through loss, which will bring grief and mourning. Instead of giving in and falling apart, the Holy Spirit will come alongside and comfort you. What is the result of this? You come to realize how much you cannot make it by yourself. You understand how much you need God’s help and grace in your life. You set aside your pride, your wisdom, your strength, and self-confidence and you wait more and more upon God. You don’t worry about the wicked proud but you become meek and humble. How? The Holy Spirit helps you with this. D.L. Moody, “A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility.”

In turn the world sees the difference in our spirit and attitude. J.C. Ryle said, “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines.”

Are you saved? You have to humble yourself and acknowledge that there’s nothing you can to save yourself. You need God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”

ONE SERMON YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO MISS

ONE SERMON YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO MISS – Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

One_Sermon_you_cannot_afford_to_missRomans 12:3   For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Overall Background: In ancient Greece, Delphi was the site of the famous Temple of Apollo. Inside the forecourt of the temple were three maxims/proverbs carved into the wall. One of them read – gnwthi seauton = “know thyself” or “know yourself” (Latin –nosce te ipsum).

Temple of Apollo - Delphi

Temple of Apollo – Delphi

Throughout history people have been trying to know themselves – the hardest thing to do. Benjamin Franklin once said,“There are 3 things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” (Poor Richard Almanak)

This message matters because as you truly know yourself, you will truly begin to appreciate you.

In Romans 12:3, Paul lays out the secret of how to know one’s self.

I. THIS SUBJECT CAN ONLY BE APPROACHED BY THE GRACE OF GOD.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you,

Background: Paul does not begin by poking his finger in the chest of his readers. He approaches the subject with great gentleness and wisdom. He begins by humbling Himself and recognizing that His authority comes only by the grace of God.

In I Corinthians 15:10 we hear of Paul’s view of grace in his life – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

I Corinthians 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Charles Spurgeon – “Free grace can go into the gutter, and bring up a jewel!”

Application: Anytime we want to point out someone’s faults, we should begin with the understanding that we are no better. We are everything we are by the grace of God. How sadly we tend to forget where we came from.

II. IT’S NOT A SIN TO THINK OF ONESELF.

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,

Background: Some people think that humility means that we are never to think of ourselves. The Bible never says that. The Bible does not say – “Don’t think of yourself.” The key in that statement is “more highly.”

Not thinking of ourselves or talking low of ourselves is not humility but lying. Many times when people say – “Oh I am a nobody or nothing,” they are really saying, “Come on, compliment me. Tell me that I am somebody.” It’s like they are fishing for a compliment.

–       If you are good in math, it’s not humility to say – “I’m not good with numbers.”

–       If you are a good cook, it’s not humility to say – “I’m not the worst cook in the world.”

–       If you are good teacher, it’s not humility to say – “I’m the most ignorant person in the room.”

Don’t look down on someone for being honest about their intellectual and moral gifts. Don’t complement someone when that’s not true.

Unless we begin to tell the truth, we cannot understand ourselves.

Application: Do you pretend to be humble or do you lie?

III. DON’T CONFUSE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF SELF WITH PLAYING THE GAME.

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,

Background: Some people confuse self-knowledge for propriety and etiquette and groups and clubs and styles.

–       To know how to hold the teacup when you are hanging out with your high-class friends is not self-knowledge.

–       To know how things work at the local country club is not self-knowledge.

–       To know how to crack insider jokes is not self-knowledge.

–       To know the lingo, the walk, the talk, the look when you get around your group is not self-knowledge.

That’s call acting. True self-knowledge is the real you when the curtain falls, the lights are turned off and the crowd has gone home.

For e.g. That’s why in marriage argument you often hear things like – “I don’t know who you are anymore.” “You are not the person I knew when we are dating.” Why? You started playing the game for some reason and now the game is playing you.

For e.g. Like dungeons and dragons – they forgot when the game ended and real life began.

Application: Do you know the real you or the pretend you?

IV. DON’T BE INTOXICATED WITH PRIDE.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly,

Background: Once again, Paul uses an interesting imagery for us. He tells us to be sober, as opposed to being drunk.

How does a drunken man or woman act? They brag about themselves. They talk big about themselves. They tend to forget their weaknesses and exaggerate their strengths.

For e.g. Travis Tritt’s song – “Ten Feet tall and bullet proof.”

When we are drunk with pride:

–       We foolishly think that we are better than others, when we are not. F.B. Meyer – Don’t flatter yourself when it comes to “face or lace or place or even grace.”

–       We try to cover up for blemishes and only put forth our commendable qualities. For e.g. The fruit sellers in India put the shiniest and the best bananas on top and the bad ones on the bottom. You have to move them around and check them.

–       We compare our best qualities with other people’s worst.

This does not mean that we need to blast all our weaknesses everywhere. It simply means that we need to think soberly of our selves.

Application: Do you think of your self soberly?

V. OUR TRUE MEASURE IS IN FAITH.

but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Background: Our standard of measurement is not physical or mental strength but faith. Not knowledge of God but faith in God. It is about our relationship with God.

–       How you see God in your life?

–       How you see God in your trials?

–       How you see God in your life to come?

–       How you see God in the face of death?

Henry Ward Beecher said, “You must measure, not where you touch the ground, but where you touch the sky. You must measure, not the root, but the blossom; not the leaf, but the fruit.”

My ultimate worth is who I am in Jesus Christ.

My greatest desire when I leave this world is for people to say what the Shunammite woman said to her husband of the prophet Elisha– II Kings 4:9 And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.”

When it comes to knowing yourself – 1. This Subject can only be approached by the Grace of God; 2. It’s not a Sin to think of oneself; 3. Don’t confuse true knowledge of self with playing the game; 4. Don’t be intoxicated with pride; and 5. Our true measure is in faith.

Someone might say – No one can do that! One person did and His name is Jesus. On the night that He Christ-Washing-Peters-Feet-_Ford-Madox-Browncelebrated the Passover with His disciples – John 13:3-5, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,  4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

John 13:12-17  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? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most 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. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Application: What would happen if every marriage, home, Clearview, city, county, and our nation began to seriously apply Romans 12:3?

Is Jesus your Master and Teacher? Then you have to do what He said to do.

If He is not, today is the day of salvation.

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