Living Hope by Dr. Abidan Shah

LIVING HOPE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Have you ever been disappointed? You were hoping for something but it didn’t turn out that way. As a kid, I remember when my mom would make my favorite desert. Before I would leave for school the next day, I would slide it behind the milk carton in the fridge. I was hoping that no one would find it until I got home. The moment I got home, the first thing I would do was to go look for it. Many a time I walked away so disappointed because someone got to it before I could. We all get disappointed over various things – friends, family, politics, culture. Today we will learn what the Bible has to say about a hope that doesn’t disappoint. We are in our series on 1 Peter and our message is titled LIVING HOPE. Please turn to 1 Peter 1:3. Main point: Unlike earthly hopes, the hope that comes from God never disappoints. Biblical hope is not based on earthly expectations and fears. It is based on the solid foundation of God himself. In other words, the hope that God gives is much more than the anticipation of something in the future. It is a deep personal trusting relationship with God.

1 Peter 1     3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Context: As you may remember from last weekend, Peter was writing to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Most of them were probably Jewish background believers who had lived in that part of the world for centuries. As Jewish people, they had already been ostracized; but now, because some of them had become believers in Jesus, their own communities had also ostracized them. Not only that, but many of them may have also lost their inheritance. I can only imagine how hopeless they must have felt. Also, based on the rest of the letter, some of them were probably locals who had converted to Christianity and they were also facing similar treatments. I think of my own dad who lost his inheritance when he became a Christian. I have often thought about the hopelessness he must have felt. Peter was writing to encourage such people to stay strong in their faith. He wanted them to know that even though the world and their own were rejecting them, God had chosen them. He wanted them to have their hope in God. He had a special inheritance for them in the future.

Let’s read verse 3 again. By the way, as we walk through this passage, notice how all the fundamental building blocks of our faith are tightly put together in these 3 verses – 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” The Greek word for “Blessed” is “eulogetos.” This is different from the Greek word for “blessed” in the Beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor, Blessed are the meek, Blessed are the merciful.” The word there is “Makarios,” which means “happy” or “to be envied.” Here the word blessed is actually translated “praise.” Keep in mind that “eulogetos” gives us the English word “eulogy,” which comes from the compound Greek words “eu” (well/good) and “logos” (word). The word “eulogetos” means “to say a good word about someone.” Peter was calling on his readers to say a good word about God. By the way, this was not a good word about some generic God, but very specifically – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The point is that Peter was calling on his readers to praise the living true Triune God in the midst of their difficulties.

Principle: If you find yourself overwhelmed by your situation, turn your attention away from the situation and yourself and start praising God. Take time to praise God for who he is and what he has done for you. Listen to David in Psalm 61     1 “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Application: Are you overwhelmed by your problems? Are you overwhelmed by what’s happening in our world? Are you praising God right now?

Now Peter gives the reason for this praise – 3 “…who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The pilgrims of the Dispersion had been rejected by their own families. They had been cut off from their family trees. Peter was reminding them that God had brought them into his family by his abundant mercy. The word he used was “anagennaw” (begotten us again), which means “to give new birth.” It is similar to “gennaw” in John 3 where Jesus told Nicodemus in verse 3 “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This rebirth does not just happen. It requires resurrection life, the power that brings life into a dead person. I Corinthians 15:45 “And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” God compassionately chose to rebirth us into his family through the resurrection of his son Jesus Christ. God the Father delivered his Son out of the clutches of death and thus made the way for all sinners born dead in trespasses and sins to be delivered from the clutches of sin and death as well. This begins with spiritual rebirth and is completed with our own resurrection one day.

Application: Have you been born again? Have you experienced the resurrection life of Jesus? If you prayed to receive Christ as your Savior and King, you have. Do you know that there is a resurrection coming for you in the future?

What is the result of this rebirth? 3 “…who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope…” Something very interesting here about that word “hope.” It has an adjective “living.” Where does this concept come from? The world offers hope but it can be conditional or uncertain. The hope that Peter was talking about was living because it was rooted in God himself. This is the biblical understanding of hope. Here are some examples from the psalms in the Old Testament – Psalm 38:15 “For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.” Psalm 71:5 “For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.” Psalm 130:7 “O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there ismercy, And with Him is abundant redemption.” Paul talks about this as well – 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.” Here’s the point: God’s hope is not rooted in some human expectation or fear. It is built on the character of God himself. In other words, hope is not just what may happen or what may not happen. It is a deep personal trusting relationship with God. Because we are part of Jesus’ resurrection life, we have this living hope.

Application: What is hope to you? A better life? Your party in power? Streets of gold? Mansions in heaven? All that is fine to desire, but, ultimately, our hope should be God himself. It’s not that you cannot hope for those other things. You can but only if the ultimate source of your hope is God. Is God your hope?

It’s about to get even better – 4 “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Background: This living hope is leading us to an inheritance. In this life, the pilgrims had lost their inheritance, but there was a real inheritance waiting for them that was indescribable.By the way, Peter was reaching in the Old Testament tradition to find the true meaning of inheritance. Listen to Psalm 16:5 “O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.” Peter describes it in negative terms because nothing compares to it in this life. Paul would whole heartedly agree with Peter here. Listen to Paul quoting from Isaiah 64 in 1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”

3 negatives:

  1. Incorruptible (aphthartos) – In this life everything faces corruption because of sin, even our bodies.
  2. Undefiled (amiantos) – In this life everything is tainted by sin.
  3. Unfading (amarantos) – In this life everything fades. The second law of thermodynamics (entropy) is constantly working to pull things down.

Philippians 3    20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

This does not mean that we cannot fight for the incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading in this life. We can and we should because we know what it looks like. Having said that, we know that it is available on the other side.

What is the guarantee that all this will happen? 5 “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

  1. God is responsible.
  2. We need to trust him.
  3. It will be revealed in his time.

Invitation: Do you have this living hope? Are you looking forward to the inheritance? Are you born again?

Identity by Dr. Abidan Shah

IDENTITY by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: Everybody wants an identity. We want to belong to a group that will include and affirm us. We see this early in life at school – the popular kids, who have the latest clothes and styles, the jocks who live for sports, the brains/nerds, who are more concerned about their grades than they needed to be, the goths, who always wear dark clothes and crazy hair; the country kids with trucks high enough to walk under; then there are the loners, the different ethnic group kids, the floaters, and the potheads, who are usually very friendly. This doesn’t change as we grow up. We still want an identity, a sense of belonging. As we begin our series on the actual text of 1 Peter, we will learn what should be the ultimate identity of every believer. Please find 1 Peter 1:1. Main point: Our identity should be ultimately rooted in God and his salvation in our lives through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…”

Context: For the past 3 weeks, we have been focused on Peter’s character. The reason for this is because the more we understand Peter, the better we will understand his letter. Of course, the Holy Spirit was behind the letter, but he used the personality, the experiences, and the gifts of Peter. Peter begins his letter by identifying himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ,” which means a “representative” of Jesus. This did not happen overnight! Jesus had to do a deep, painstaking, and unrelenting work in Peter’s life:

  • Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter, from being religious to rock-solid.
  • Jesus took him from being a fisherman to becoming a fisher of men.
  • Jesus took him from being the impulsive one to becoming a pillar of the church.

Is it any wonder that he stood up on the Day of Pentecost full of the Holy Spirit and preached his first message and 3000 men, not counting women and children were saved, altogether 10-15,000! Is it any wonder that even his shadow could heal people! Is it any wonder that he could go toe-to-toe with the religious leaders and chief priests and not back down! By the way, Peter was not perfect. If you remember from last weekend, Paul admonished him openly when he messed up. But, Peter was spiritually mature enough to receive the admonishment and not become bitter. Now, he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Here’s an interesting point: The higher you climb in your spiritual life, the more concise your identity becomes. You don’t have to list your entire resume of accolades and accomplishments. For e.g. Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.

Application: What has God done in your life? How will you identify yourself at the end of your life? The first step towards that journey is to move from a sinner to a sinner saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Are you saved?

Let’s go further. Peter now identifies the recipients of his letter. 1 Peter 1:1 “…To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” Where are these places in the world? All of them are located in modern day Turkey, a vast area of approximately 129,000 square miles. That’s as big as California or North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia combined. The history of this region goes back to thousands of years to the Hittites, the Phrygians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Goths, the Celts, the Byzantines, etc. This was a very diverse part of the world with regards to land, ethnicity, cultures, religions, and languages. There were big cities and small towns. There were Roman colonies to the South and more Celtic people to the North, generally speaking. I can go on and on.

Who were the pilgrims of the Dispersion? The word for “pilgrims” is “parepidemos,” which means someone who does not hold citizenship where he lives. They may have been born and raised there. They may dress like their neighbors. They may eat like their neighbors. They may even look like their neighbors. But, they are outsiders. Peter even qualifies their identity with “foreigners of the Dispersion.” The word “dispersion” is coming from the LXX and Jewish literature. It referred to the people of Israel who had been scattered away from their homeland of Israel. This dispersion goes back to the time of Solomon when some moved there because of trade. A major dispersion came with the Assyrian exile when the Northern kingdom of Israel was forcibly relocated by the Assyrians. Couple centuries later came the Babylonian exile when the Southern Kingdom of Judah was also temporarily exiled but some came back but many didn’t. They were foreigners and outsiders wherever they went. Even though many generations were born and raised there, dressed like their neighbors, and ate like their neighbors, they were never totally accepted. Hence, they would return to Jerusalem for their Jewish festivals. Maybe some of them were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2     5 “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia…” Peter was now writing to encourage them as they were not only Jewish people scattered abroad, but they were now Christians, which means they were also being ostracized by their own Jewish community. Peter understood how it felt since he grew up in Bethsaida, a minority Jewish town. He even understood how it felt when his own people rejected him because he was now a disciple of Jesus. I believe all this may be true, but I also believe that Peter was referring to all Christians (Jewish background and Gentile background) who were scattered as a minority all over that region. Even Gentile background believers were now like the Dispersed Jewish people. Even though they were citizens, they were now being treated as foreigners. We will see that as we go further in this letter.

Application: Have you been ostracized because you are going to church? Has your own family and friends left you out because your priorities have shifted? I think of my own dad. His own family kicked him out because he followed Jesus Christ. In fact, we were all cut off from the family tree.

How do you encourage people like that? So, Peter gave them a new identity—2 “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” There are 3 prepositional phrases here that connect to each member of the Trinity. This is deep!

  1. “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” – “Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” The culture around them may have rejected them but God had chosen them through his “prognosis” to include them in his family. That’s the first person of the Trinity.
  2. “in sanctification of the Spirit” – “Chosen by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.” Yes, they had a choice to receive Christ as their Savior, but the Holy Spirit was stirring their hearts, opening their understanding, and drawing them to salvation. He actively does that for everyone who is open to Christ. That’s the third person of the Trinity.
  3. “for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” – “Chosen for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” This was not some election to walk around flaunting your new religion. This was an election unto obedience. What is the “sprinkling of the blood” mean? This is referring back to Exodus 24  7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”Even though they said the words, they couldn’t follow through. But, we can through the blood of Jesus Christ. We have been set free from the power of sin. Sin is still present but through Christ, we can conquer. By the way, that’s the third person of the Trinity.

These people really got the message. These people reached their culture and that entire region became the cradle of Christianity. This is where we find Constantinople, Nicaea, and Chalcedon. Here were held the famous councils were the deity of Christ and the Triunity of the Godhead was affirmed! Unfortunately, these parts have been lost because Christians failed to reach the next generation and prepare them to stand strong. Just this year, the Hagia Sophia was once again declared a mosque after 90 some years of being a museum. It was one of our flagship churches!

In some ways, that’s where we are as Christians in America. We need to wake up and reach the culture around us. If we don’t, we will ultimately find ourselves driven out. That’s why how we vote in this election matters! We need to vote for that party and candidate that will make this nation pleasing to Jesus Christ.

Application: What are you doing to make sure that our nation continues to stand strong? Are you aware of what is at stake? Do you understand your new identity? You are not an accident. You are not an outsider. You have been drawn by the Holy Spirit. You have been chosen to obey.

Finally, Peter ended with “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Invitation: Do you have God’s grace and peace? Are you saved? Through Christ you can have grace and peace.

Heart Exam by Pastor Abidan Shah

HEART EXAM by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: When the kids were young, we bought them a toy doctor’s kit. It had everything – stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, syringe, tweezers, etc. They would go around taking our temperature, checking our blood pressure, and listening to our hearts. Then, like many of you, we would say – “My turn. Let me check your heart” – and we would take their toy stethoscope and listen to their heart – “Oh, it sounds good!” Here’s a question – how seriously did you take that test? Not really. It was all pretend. Would you do that at a real doctor’s office? Would you say to your cardiologist – “My turn! Let’s check your heart now.” Of course not. It’s real. Today, we’re going to take a heart exam and it’s not pretend. It’s very real. We’re checking our hearts, not our physical hearts made out of muscles, tissues, and blood vessels, but our spiritual hearts made up of our minds, our thinking, and our attitude towards the things of God. The Stethoscope is the Scriptures, the Examiner is the Holy Spirit, and the Goal is the heart of the disciple of Jesus. This is a very critical exam. A physical heart exam can determine how longyou will live. A spiritual heart exam determines ifyou are alive.

Matthew 13     10And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15For the hearts of this people have grown dull…’”

Question: How is your spiritual heart? Is it out of rhythm with the things of God? Is there a blockage due to sin? Is it dead? Only Jesus can make your heart alive. Are you saved?

Context: This is the first message in our series on the Parables of Jesus. It’s an introductory message in which we will answer the question – “Why did Jesus use parables in his teaching?” In fact, it’s the question that the disciples asked Jesus inMatthew 13:10“Why do You speak to them in parables?”We tend to think of the parables as stories given by Jesus to make his message clearer but that’s not altogether true.Listen to his answer in verse11He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Before we unpack that verse, let’s first identify the two groups that are around Jesus. The first is the “you” group who understand what Jesus is teaching and the second is the “them” group who seem to be missing it. Who are the “you” and who are the “them?” That information is available in the surrounding chapters. 

Who is the “you?” The “you” were the disciples, the tax collectors and the prostitutes (Matthew 9:11And when the Pharisees sawit,they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”), the multitudes (Matthew 12    15“…And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16Yet He warned them not to make Him known.”), demon-possessed, blind, and mute. This group was open to the things of God and they understood more of the things of God. Listen to verse12“For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” 

Who is the “them?”

1. Pharisees: 

Matthew 12:2And when the Phariseessawit (Jesus disciples eating grain in the field),they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” Matthew 12:14“Then the Phariseeswent out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.” Matthew 12:24Now when the Phariseeshearditthey said, “Thisfellowdoes not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

The Pharisees were mostly a lay movement of people who were trying to live a pious life. They believed in the right doctrines. They advocated a simple lifestyle. They were popular with the common people because they would help them keep the law. They focused on “Table Fellowship” – they called on all Jewish people to live according to the priestly laws, especially with regards to everyday meals. They treated their tables at home as the altar in the temple. Every household was held responsible. Hence, the meals had to be tithed, prepared, and served in a certain way. This does not mean that they rejected the priesthood or the temple. Their meals were exclusive and hierarchical because they believed that what you put inside of you matters and who you have around matters. They couldn’t get over Jesus’ eating habits and association with sinners.

2. Scribes:

Matthew 9:3And at once some of the scribessaid within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” Matthew 12:38Then some of the scribes andPhariseesanswered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 

The Scribes interpreted and taught the Law to the people. They were closely connected to the temple in Jerusalem and in the smaller villages, they held positions of authority. They were envious of Jesus’ knowledge of the bible and popularity with the people.

3. Sadducees:

Matthew 16:1“Then the Pharisees andSadduceescame, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.” Matthew 22:23The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him…a trick question.

The Sadducees considered themselves to be of priestly descent but no one knows for sure. Much of it was just political.They controlled the Temple. Unlike the Pharisees, they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the righteous, angels, or spirit as much. They denied the eternality of the soul, punishment in the underworld, and rewards. They were not very popular with the people.They worked in cooperation with the Romans in order to maintain peace and carry on the responsibilities of the Temple in Jerusalem. They were afraid that Jesus was messing up the power balance.

4. Jesus’ Family Members:

Matthew 12     46While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Someone informed him and listen to his response –48But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” They were embarrassed of Jesus.

These 4 groups of people were not evil. They were what we would call “church going” folks but their hearts were not open to what Christ was teaching. Listen to what he said about them in verse13“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Why would Jesus do that?He actually tells us in the very next verse –14“And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15For the hearts of this people have grown dull…’” Listen carefully: Just like in the time of Isaiah there were religious people who were rejecting the message of God, these Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Jesus’ family members were also rejecting Christ. The more they rejected him, the less they could understand him. The parables were much more than just stories given to illustrate a point. They were the tools of the prophets to confront the people of God and to expose the true condition of their hearts. If their hearts were open to the things of God, they would understand even more. If their hearts were closed to the things of God, they would understand even less. 

1. The Pharisees had a self-righteous heart that was hung up on traditions and could not see the need for Christ.

2. The Scribes had a show off heart that could not see Christ in all their bible knowledge.

3. The Sadducees had a status quo heart that was more interested in power than submission to Christ.

4. The Jesus’ Family Heart was the cynical heart that had become overly familiar with Christ.

Jesus’ family did come around but the others help put Jesus on the cross.

Invitation:What kind of a heart do you have? Is it even alive to the things of God? If not, you need to get saved today. This is not a pretend exam.

The Greener Grass Syndrome (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

THE GREENER GRASS SYNDROME (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on August 18, 2018)Greener Grass Syndrome,

Have you ever driven past a herd of cows grazing in a lush green field and seen that one cow sticking its head through the fence, nibbling in the pasture next to it? Why is it doing that? Is there not enough grass in its own field? Is the grass any greener on the other side? Is the grass any tastier? None of the above. The cow is falsely assuming that the grass must be better on the other side. Humans do the same thing but worse. We buy into the myth that our lives are not as good as others’. We say things like: “I can’t wait to get outta here and move somewhere else,” “It was so much better back home,” “If only I looked like her, I would be so much happier,” “If only I had him, life would be so much better.” We see the perfect selfie and conclude that the person’s life must be better than ours. When in reality, that photo was retaken twenty times and tested by multiple filters. This delusion has become magnified in recent years with the rise of social media. As a result, some people have become paralyzed in self-defeat and some have slipped into the abyss of depression. Others have even walked away from a good job or a marriage, with tragic consequences.

So, how do you combat this “greener grass syndrome?” We can follow the example of God’s people in the book of Jeremiah. They were in exile in Babylon, pining to go back home to Jerusalem. They had forgotten that it was their sin that had caused them to be driven out of the land. Instead of repenting and seeking God’s will, they were wallowing in self-pity and longing for the “greener grass” back home. God sent Jeremiah to tell them to “bloom where they were planted.” Listen to Jeremiah 29:5-7 “Build houses and dwellin them;plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters…and seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive…” In other words, “Make yourself at home. Dig some foundations. Get your hands dirty in the Babylonian soil. Become a productive member of the society. Make the place better by your presence.” At first, the people did not want to hear this but God warned them that things would not change for the next seventy years. But, if they were obedient to plant themselves where God had placed them, then his promise to them would be“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) People often quote this promise but neglect to realize that it was contingent on them flourishing where God had sent them.

There may be times when you have to change locations or jobs in order to improve your life. This is not “the greener grass syndrome.” Rather, it’s moving from a famine infested land to a fertile valley. But, just remember, bad habits don’t disappear by changing zip codes or job descriptions. Unless, the old nature has been transformed by Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will still be you even if you move to the other side of the moon! So also, being inspired and motivated by the successes of others is not always bad as long as it doesn’t trap you into envy. There is a fine line between copying and coveting. King Saul crossed that line when he began to despise young David and his successes. It launched him into a horrible depression and provoked within him the desire to kill God’s Anointed.

Ultimately, the challenge to all those seeking the “greener grass” is to make sure that what they think is a better place is not actually astroturf or a septic tank. But, if we let God guide our lives, our Babylon may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.


WHO DECIDES MY DESTINY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Who Decides My Destiny

Romans 10:1-4  1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 10:9  9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Background: If you want to know what it means to be saved, this is the book for you. If you want to know why Jesus died on the cross, what does it mean that we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, what does it mean that we are no longer under Law but under grace, what does it mean to live by the Spirit—this is the book for you. This book makes perfect sense right up until Romans 8. Starting in Romans 9 until 11 Paul seems to be going off on a tangent and talking about the people of Israel – the Jewish people.

Many people have come to Romans 9 and have drawn some unbiblical conclusions. One of those conclusions is that – God has chosen only a certain few to go to heaven and the others He has chosen to go to hell. Last week someone called me and asked my opinion about a church they were visiting in another city. They asked if this church was liberal and after looking at their website I told them that it is definitely not liberal but they hold to the view that God has elected certain people to go to heaven and certain to hell.

The question this morning is—is that true? Has God indeed elected some people for heaven and others for hell? The answer is absolutely, positively NO! You have a choice.

So why do people draw such conclusions? Because they rip Romans 9 right out of context. Has anyone ever taken you out of context? Yesterday was a hot day. What if I had said – “Man, it’s a hot day! I can kill for a glass of lemonade.” Right then someone happened to walk by and all they heard was – “I can kill” and they call the FBI and report me as a professional assassin. All because I said – “I can kill.”

What is the context of Romans 9? In the earliest church, there was a great controversy over the purpose of the Jewish people. No longer did people have to keep the Law, offer sacrifices, observe circumcision to be saved, and so the question came up – If we don’t have to become a Jewish person in order to be saved, then are they still God’s chosen people? If they are still God’s chosen people, do they still have to believe in Jesus to be saved? There was also some resentment against them since many had rejected Him.

In Romans 9, 10, and 11, Paul is explaining the role of the Jewish people in God’s kingdom. He begins by reminding the church that he had a great burden for them. Listen to Rom. 9:2-4 2…I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ (cast out from Christ) for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4who are Israelites…” Throughout the centuries people have persecuted the Jewish people. That is wrong.

Then he reminds in Romans 9:4 that they are indeed the chosen ones “who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;  5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” The people of Israel are God’s people to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

Why did God make this choice? He is sovereign. Listen to verse 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” This is from Genesis where God said that He will use Jacob to lead and Esau to look to him. Not salvation but service.

13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” This is from Malachi, where God judged the descendants of Esau – the Edomites – because of their immorality and disobedience. It had nothing to do with salvation. God preserved Jacob’s line to bring the Messiah into the world and he punished Esau’s line for spreading sin.

Someone might say – “That’s unfair, that God continued to work with Jacob and not with the others.” 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Keep in mind that this is not mercy unto salvation but unto preserving the plan of salvation. Listen to verse 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. Pharaoh had a choice – he could have gotten on board with God’s plan of salvation and helped the Hebrews (Jewish people). Instead, he hardened his heart and in turn God made an example out of him.

I can go on and on but the point is simple – God sovereignly chose the Jewish people to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

But now listen carefully – Every Jewish person had to individually choose God’s plan of salvation. Go back to Rom. 9:6-7  6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”

Rom. 10:1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

Application: Collectively, you can enjoy God’s blessings at Clearview but, individually, you can still be lost. Collectively, you can enjoy the blessings of living in this nation blessed by God but, individually, you can still be lost and go to hell.

The Jewish people had a lot of false ideas about being saved.


Romans 10:2-3  2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

Background: Ever since Israel returned from Babylon, they were zealous in serving God. They were done worshipping idols. They were going to the synagogues and to the temples. They were teaching the Law of God. In fact, they had even added more laws to the Law. They were zealous for God but without knowledge. Paul was an example of that. Philippians 3:4-6 4though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

It was the Golden Age of Judaism and their golden age crucified Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you something: Is it possible to be dedicated/zealous and still be lost? Yes.

For e.g. Mrs. Mary Johnson would often share with me how she was dedicated to the  church and taught Sunday School, and served as women’s ministry leader and she was lost. She had zeal (dedication) for God and she was trying to please God but she was lost.

Application: Many people are sincere in what they are doing, but they are sincerely lost.


3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

Background: “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness” does not mean that the Jewish people were ignorant of the Holiness and Righteousness of God. In fact, they were quite proud that unlike the pagans and their sexually immoral lifestyles, they had some very high standards of righteousness and purity. But it was still not the righteousness of God.

Matthew 5:20  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Application: We have friends and family members who think that they are good enough to get to heaven because they are not living an immoral lifestyle; they don’t lie and cheat and hurt people; they pay their taxes and do their part to help their community; they serve in their church and support a few charity organizations; they are good neighbors and upstanding citizens.  All that is good but there is only one problemthey are seeking to establish their own righteousness.


Rom. 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Background: God gave the Law (the 10 commandments, sacrifices, priesthood and festivals) to the people of Israel to warn them against the dangers of sin, to protect them from the effects of sin, to separate them from the influence of the sinful nations around them. The Law kept them together as a society, as a people, and as a nation until the Seed should came. Josephus the historian tells us: “The Jew (ish person) knows the Law better than his own name… Countless thousands would go to their great feasts. Over and above the Law….Many died on the cross and were willing to burned alive and thrown to the lions because of their loyalty to the Law. They were also very evangelistic, trying to convert the Gentiles to the Law of Moses. But they still missed the purpose of the Law.

Instead of letting the Law lead them to Christ, the Jewish people began to worship the Law. They thought that keeping the Law was going to save them. Paul says, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Application: Keeping the 10 commandments will do absolutely nothing for your salvation. People often ask me “You don’t think we need the 10 commandments today?” Yes we do. We need them in the Capital Building, courtroom, and classrooms. We need to teach them to our kids. They will preserve our society, and our nation. They will give them a sense of right and wrong. But, they will not save you.

Now Paul explains to them the right idea about getting saved.

Listen to Romans 10: 8-9  8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): meaning = it’s not that complicated.

9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

#1.IF YOU CONFESS, MAKE SURE YOU BELIEVE IT. There are a lot of people who have confessed but they’ve never believed. They are still lost. By faith, you accept that Jesus is the Son of God who died for you.

10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.


There is no such thing as secret Christians and private Christians. God wants us to declare publicly that we are followers of Jesus Christ. During Jesus’ earthly ministry –  John 12:42-43 42Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Listen to how Jesus responds in Matthew 10:32-33  32“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

For e.g. Adrian Rogers gave a great illustration of the woman who was sitting in the choir and the Holy Spirit was working on her that she needed to be saved. Her friend saw her agony and said, “Let’s go down to the front and give your heart to Christ.” She said, “I am too embarrassed to go to the front. Can I not get saved here?” The friend replied, “No you can’t.”Next night the same thing; next night, again, the same thing. On the last night, She was in agony again. This time she leaned over to her friend and said, “I am ready to go down.” The friend replied, “Now, you are ready to get saved, right here.”

You cannot confess and not believe and you cannot believe and not confess.

Application: Many are sitting on the sidelines that have never openly acknowledged that they are saved. Baptism is an important way of making that declaration. Someone says, “But I am embarrassed.” Listen to Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. Jew or Greek – the same Lord will be rich to all who call on Him. 13For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN SOULS  by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Whatever_it_takes_to_win_soulsRomans 9:1-5  1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,  2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.  3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,  4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;  5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

Overall Background:  Romans 9 reveals the heart of Paul more than any other chapter in this book. He makes a statement in verse 3 that is shocking and confusing and unrealistic. Listen to verse 3 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” The word accursed is “anathema.” It’s the translation of a Hebrew word “charam” that was used to describe the destruction of the city of Jericho and all the plunder of the Canaanite cities. The Jewish rabbis used that word to refer to excommunication of people who were unfaithful to God and His Word. It means to be kicked out of the faith. Paul is saying exactly what is said – “I’m willing to give up my place in heaven so that my people can be saved.” WOW!

The only other time that we hear something so explicitly is in the Old Testament. Moses was called up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments for the people of Israel. He was there for 40 days and 40 nights and the people got bored waiting for him. So they decided to build themselves a golden calf and started a drunken orgy. God was angry to say the least and wanted to destroy the people and make a nation out of Moses. Listen to what Moses says in Exodus 32:32 “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” All I can say is WOW!

We don’t even like to give up our special seat in church. A pastor friend told me sometime back that he had to get on this member because a visitor had come in and sat in their seat and they sat in their special spot and – boy – this person was mad. By the way – I don’t get it how people can sleep in church pews. Anytime someone says to me they have trouble sleeping, I am tempted to say – “Have you tried the church pews? They’ll put you to sleep right away!”

Application: Do we care about the lost enough to give them our place in heaven? Are we doing whatever it takes to win souls? How do we see lost people? If you want to know what Clearview is about, this is the message for you.

2 very important observations in this passage:


Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ,

Background: What does it mean to be in Christ? It means to be loved by Christ and to love Christ. Listen to the last part of Romans 8 – 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What does it mean to be in Christ? It means you understand that He loves you unconditionally; that He loves you infinitely; that He loves you unendingly. It means to be close to Him. The more you are close to Him, the more you begin to see His heart.

Question: What is on the heart of Christ?

Listen to what Christ said in Matthew 18:11 “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”

In Luke 15 when the Pharisees and the scribes were complaining about how he sits and eats with sinners, listen to what Jesus said in verse 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

The more you draw close to Him, the more you begin to see His heart; the more you see His heart, the more you will see His love for the lost.

Listen to the rest of that verse. Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

No wonder Paul makes such a bold statement – the source of His love is Christ.

Application: The first question this morning is not whether you love lost people. The first question is whether you understand the love that Christ has for you. If you are not connected to that love, your love will always be conditional, selfish, and superficial. Look at our churches today – there’s no passion for the lost; there’s no urgency for the gospel.

We’re sitting in our comfortable pews saying “Hello Jesus. We want you to bless us. We want to do another Bible study. We want to sing to you our favorite songs.” What do you think He’s saying? “You want me to sit here and bless you and watch you do your bible study and hear you sing to me but the whole time you are not doing what I came to do.”


1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, (keep this phrase in mind. We’re going to return to it in a moment.) 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.  3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,  4 who are Israelites,

Who is Paul referring to? His own Jewish people. Keep in mind that these people were his worst enemies. He used to be a leader among them at one time. When Stephen was being stoned to death, Acts 7:58 tells us “the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Acts 8:1 “Saul was consenting to his death.” Acts 8:3 “Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”

Then, Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and his life was radically changed. Now the word got out that “He who formerly persecuted us (the church) now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Galatians 1:23

Now the Jewish people hated him. They wanted to kill Paul – the turncoat.  They had falsely accused him; they had chased him from city to city; they had him thrown in prison; they had him whipped 5 times; they had stoned him and left him for dead; and at one time in Acts 23 about 40 of them had taken a vow that they would not eat nor drink until they had killed him.

How does Paul refer to them? He calls them in verse 3my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,  4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law (don’t forget God gave them the Ten Commandments not Charlton Heston), the service of God, and the promises;  5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

There is no hatred, no bitterness, no animosity, and no unforgiveness in Paul. He is saying these things with a broken heart. Sometimes we say the right things but without a broken heart.

For e.g. Two friends were talking and one asked the other – “I heard you dismissed your pastor. What happened there?” He replied, “Well, he was always telling us that we were going to die and go to hell. But we have a new pastor now.” The first man asked, “So is his preaching any different?” He answered, “No, he also tells us that we are going to die and go to hell.” The man was puzzled – “What’s the difference?” The man replied – “When the second man says it, it sounds like it is breaking his heart. But when the first guy did it, it sounded like he was glad of it.”

How can you have such a heart like Paul? Listen to verse 1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.”

Charles Spurgeon said, “O Beloved, we need the Spirit of God to work this feeling in us! It is of no use to try to get it by reading books, or to pump yourself up to it in private – this feeling is the work of God! A soul-winner is a creation.”

Many of us try to win souls but with the wrong motivation – to grow our church, to gain the admiration of others. None of these will do it. It can only happen when the Holy Spirit begins to work in our hearts. Just like a mother has a loving desire towards her newborn, we have a loving desire towards the lost. Imagine if you knew that your son/daughter were to go to hell, what father/mother would not say – “I’ll take his/her place in hell. Let him/her go to heaven.”

The feeling is so overwhelming that all reason comes to a stand still. Then, you say with Moses – blot me out of Your book; you say with Esther – if I perish I perish; you say with Paul – I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.

What does this church need? What does our community need? What does our nation and world need? Men and women, boys and girls who will have a burning heart for the lost.

For e.g. Many of you have heard of the gladiatorial games in ancient Rome. It was horrible as blood flowed everywhere. As soon as one game was over, they would bring in sand, rake it over and do it all over again. One day a philosopher was watching such a spectacle in the Roman Coliseum and he said to his friend – “What is needed is the heart that would make it impossible to look upon such brutality and bloodshed.” Then, he added, “the future would belong to the force that could create such a heart.”

You want to know the heart of this pastor. You want to know the heart of Clearview. Here it is. No tradition, no personal ambition, no hidden sin can stand in the way of that burning heart for souls.

Invitation: Are you saved? Are you doing whatever it takes to save others?


THERE’S ONLY ONE PLAN OF SALVATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

There is Only One Plan of SalvationNehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….this is what they said 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. 7 “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You,
And made a covenant with him
To give the land of the Canaanites,
The Hittites, the Amorites,
The Perizzites, the Jebusites,
And the Girgashites—
To give it to his descendants.
You have performed Your words,
For You are righteous.

Overall Background: Nehemiah 9 is the record of the confession that the Jewish people made after they were saved. God had called them to influence the world but they had allowed the world to influence them. Now that they had come back to God, they were repenting of all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors and affirming all the right beliefs from God’s Word—

–       The first right belief: You alone are the Lord = “There is Only One True God.”

–       The second right belief: You made everything = “There is Only One Creator.”

–       Now we come to the third right belief in verse 7, “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham; 8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him
To give the land.” Meaning: Of all the ancient Peoples, God chose a man named Abram, called him to leave his home and go to a new land, changed his name to Abraham, and made a covenant with him and his descendants. Why? Because his heart was faithful before God. In others words, Abram faithfully held on to God’s one and only plan of salvation. So God not only blessed him but also made him a channel to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

Application: This message is critical for all of us. In our world today people think that there are many ways to heaven/God—as long as you are a good person and help others, according to your religion be the best you can be, then God will let you into heaven. Even some well-meaning Christians think that there is no “one” plan of salvation but several based on where you grew up. Nothing could be further from the truth. The question for us this morning: Do you believe that Jesus is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life? Do you believe that the only plan of salvation is the cross of Jesus, where His blood dripped for our sins? If you believe that, are you telling everyone about Him?

There is Only One Plan of Salvation – 3 questions come to mind:


 once again to the confession in verse 7 “You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram,
And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans,
And gave him the name Abraham;

Abraham StarsBackground: In that statement, they were looking back to the birth of their nation. God chose a Chaldean named Abram to leave his homeland of Ur and go toa new land of Promise. Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God even changed his name Abram, which meant “Father-Exalted” or “Father-Departed” to Abraham, which meant “Father of Many.”

All throughout their history, the Jewish people knew that they were God’s special chosen people. They knew that they were different. They knew that they were the “apple of His eye.” Every time things got difficult, God came through for them and protected them.

–       When there was a famine in the land, God sent Joseph before them.

–       When they were in slavery, God sent Moses to rescue them.

–       When they were facing the Midianites and the Philistines, God sent men like Gideon and Sampson, and women like Deborah to deliver them.

–       When they were facing a giant like Goliath, God sent David with a slingshot and a few pebbles.

–       And the list goes on and on.

Bottom line: God was always there for them. They were His people. But recently, things had not been so great for them. The Northern tribes had been taken into exile by Assyria and lost forever. The Southern tribe of Judah had been taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—who destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and everything. Unlike earlier times, God did not seem to have come through for them. Needless to say, this was a very low point in the history of the Jewish people. They felt abandoned by God; they even questioned if God had ever called Abraham.

For e.g. It was kind of like after the Holocaust (the Shoah) when six million Jewish people were systematically executed. Many Jewish people who survived questioned the existence of God and His call upon the Jewish people. Elie Wiesel in his book titled Night talks about the hanging of three Jewish people, one of them was a young boy. He writes, “One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains—and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel….All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips….The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses….“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked….The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.”

Atheistic Jewish theologian Richard Rubenstein said: “More than the bodies of my people went up in smoke at Auschwitz. The God of the covenant died there.” – Auschwitz and Covenant Theology,” The Christian Century 86 (May 21, 1969)

Application: When people go through difficult times in life (like child abuse and loss of loved ones), they lose all faith in God. They tend to think that God has forsaken them; that there is no master plan; and that all is chance and circumstance. Even Christians go through such times. If I can tell you anything this morning it’s this – don’t forget in the dark what God has taught you in the light.

These Jewish people in Nehemiah’s time were now saved and they were coming back to the truth that God was still there and that they were still His chosen ones. The plan of salvation was still on schedule.


Background: When we talk about God calling Abraham and choosing the Jewish people, the question comes up – “How about the other peoples?” “Why did God reject them?” What about the other people in Ur of the Chaldeans and those peoples mentioned in verse 8—“the Canaanites,
The Hittites, the Amorites,
The Perizzites, the Jebusites,
And the Girgashites”? The answer to that question is found in verse 8You found his heart faithful before You.” Abram was faithful to God’s one and only plan of salvation—the promise that He was going to send a Seed. God was going to send a Savior who would give His life for the sins of the whole world. The rest of the world had either forgotten that promise or decided to create their own version of the promise.

Tower of Babel

In other words, human beings decided to build their own way to heaven. To understand this, you’re going to have to discard the evolutionary “monkey to caveman” idea of ancient people. We have been programmed to think that human beings evolved slowly out of slime. Instead, we need to look at the first human beings as created in the image of God—not brutes but highly intelligent people, with a great capacity to learn and retain knowledge.

After the Flood (More than 270 flood legends; Every ancient culture knows about it.), God told Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:8) Instead, they decided to build a city, a tower, and a name. The city was Babylon and the tower was the Tower of Babel. This was a human attempt to get to God. It was a sun temple. Again, every ancient culture talks about this tower. Even some remote Pyramids WorldAfrican tribes talk about a tower built to reach the sun god. The Bible tells us that God dispersed them through confusion of speech. But wherever the people went, they took with them the idea of building ziggurats, pyramids, and mounds. You can find these structures all over the world from Egypt, China, Africa, and even America. When I was in Mexico, I saw one in the Yucatan, that hasn’t even been explored.

Abraham stood in the line of the faithful who chose to wait upon God’s promise of salvation.

Application: There is only one plan of salvation. You can’t get to God. God has to come down to you and save you. Those who are humble enough, like Abraham, receive the plan and are saved. Those who are proud reject the plan or do it themselves and are lost. It doesn’t matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. Which category do you fall in this morning?


Because we believe that there is Only One Plan of Salvation:

The last line of verse 8 says—To give it to his descendants.
You have performed Your words,
For You are righteous.

–       The only true plan is the one that has come down through Abraham and his line through Isaac, Jacob, the Jewish people all the way to Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.” God is not biased against the Arab nations, or the Palestinians, or anyone else. God loves every nation, and every tribe, and every family. The gospel is to be preached unto all nations, and all peoples, races, and cultures. He has offered even the enemies of Israel his love.

–       There is only way our loved ones, friends, neighbours, and co-workers will get to heaven. It does not matter how sincere or passionate or nice you are. No one can earn their way into heaven. You have to humble yourself and reach out and take hold of the hand of Jesus Christ reaching down to you.

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