Unlike Us by Pastor Abidan Shah

UNLIKE US by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Unlike UsIntroduction:  Do you remember that old joke? A teacher asked her kindergarteners to draw a picture of someone very important. All the kids began drawing a picture of mom, dad, or some famous person in history. After 15-20 minutes, the teacher noticed that all the kids were done except this one boy who was still working very intently in the back. Curious, she asked him, “Who are you drawing?” Without even looking up, he replied, “God!” The teacher was startled. She went up to him and asked, “How can you draw God? No one knows what he looks like.” He replied, “They will when I get through!” All of us are guilty of doing that. We try to draw God after our own image and understanding. Today’s message will teach us that “God is unlike us. Instead of trying to make him like us, we are to become like him.” The message is titled “UNLIKE US.”

Psalm 50    15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? 18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. 19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.”

Question: “You thought that I was altogether like you.” Is that what you’re doing? Have you created God in your own image? What sin are you justifying by claiming that God does it too? Are you saved? Have you conformed to image of his Son?

Context: In my devotion time I’ve been reading through the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. As you know, the Book of Psalms was the song book of the children of Israel, later known as the Jewish people. It played a very important role in their worship and daily life. It reminded them of something very important that many Christians fail to understand – It’s not enough to know the truth, affirm the truth, clarify the truth, defend the truth, and share the truth. You also have to take the time to delight in the truth. The Psalms are meant to help us delight in the truth. C.S. Lewis in his book titled Reflections on the Psalms wrote, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” That’s beautiful!

The psalm we are looking at today (Psalm 50) begins with the heading “The Song of Asaph.” Who was Asaph? I Chronicles 6 tells us that he was a worship leader of one of the groups of temple singers established by King David. He was the worship leader when the ark was brought back to Jerusalem. He was again in charge of the music when the ark was brought to the temple built by Solomon. Later there was a musical school named after him that continued centuries after his death. What I am trying to say is that Asaph was no ordinary one hit wonder. He was a worship leader with great depth and legacy. Something else that needs to be mentioned before we look at this psalm in depth – The placement of this psalm at this place in the Book of Psalms is not by chance. It has been strategically placed here to prepare us to read Psalm 51 which is a prayer of repentance by David when Nathan the prophet confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.

With that in mind, let’s begin – 1 “The Mighty One, God the Lord, has spoken…” If you rush past the opening words, you will miss the significance of the titles for God. In Hebrew it reads “El Elohim Yahweh.” Three different names for God are mentioned here. El – the Mighty God in whom are all the attributes and power of godhead. Elohim – the Creator God who made everything. Yahweh – the Merciful God who reveals himself to us and sets us free. He redeemed the people in Exodus and met them at Sinai.

Application: Is this the God you pray to? Is this the God you worship and sing to? The All-Powerful Creator God Who Alone is Our Redeemer.

One more important description needs to be included here – 1 “…and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. 3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: 5 “Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” 6 Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah (Lift up/exalt) The All-Powerful Creator God Who Alone is Our Redeemer is also the Great Judge of all the earth.

Application: Are you ready to meet this God? Are you going to lift up and exalt his right to judge or are you going to argue and defend your case?

What does this God have to say? First, he will speak to the righteous among his people – 7 “Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God! 8 I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. 9 I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. 12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. 13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. In other words, I don’t need you to go out there and get me meat so I won’t be hungry. The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.”

Application: We are easily swayed by favors people do for us. You cannot sway God. Remember what I said earlier that this psalm has been placed here for a reason. Listen to what David says in Psalm 51   16 “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” And what’s the reward for those who offer to the sacrifices from a clean heart? 15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Here’s the privilege of obeying God.

But now listen to what God says to the Wicked Righteous – 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? In other words, how do you receive God’s truth when you encounter it in your devotion time, in a message, in a Sunday School lesson, on the radio, or in a Christian literature? How do you receive the Word when it is given to you by a godly friend? Do you hate it and cast it aside? How did David receive God’s Word through Nathan? 2 Samuel 12:13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” In other words, he repented.

What happens when you don’t repent? God goes into detail – 18 “When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. 19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. How many sins are mentioned here? Stealing, Adultery, Accomplice/Association, Evil Speaking, Lying, Gossip, Smear, Slander. What did God do about it? 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent…” Just because God does not immediately deal with your sin does not mean that he approves it. Silence is not approval. When we are silent, we are approving. When God is silent, he is extending mercy. But here comes the worst one – 21 “…You thought that I was altogether like you…” This is the sin of misrepresenting God because it suits your purpose and your love for your pet sin.

Application: Do you twist the Bible to justify your behavior, your sin? The worst thing you can do to any person is misrepresent him/her. Yet, people do that to God to justify their sinful action and lives.

What is the consequence? 21 “…But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.” If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit will not let you off easily. He will convict you and expose to you the error of your ways. What if you still don’t change? 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver:” Now it’s no longer private but public exposure. The old principle is true – “You cover your sin and God will uncover it. You uncover your sin and God will cover it.”

Here’s the solution – 23 “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” What will you do? True praise cannot come from a contaminated, sin-filled heart. Furthermore, it’s not enough to say with David Psalm 51    3 “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,” you also have to say with him 7 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9            Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Are you ready to repent? Are you saved?



(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on February 6, 2016)

Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel

Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel (All images © 2016 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

I’m standing atop Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The view is mind blowing! Before me lies the city whose history goes back to over 4000 years. Jerusalem has bewitched both conquerors and pilgrims through the centuries. Even today, it is the most contended ground on the face of the earth. Someone called it – “the hottest piece of real estate on the planet.” But my view is different. I don’t find any magical lure or spiritual power in her presence, just lessons of deep significance. Three such landmarks stand out for me:

  1. The Temple Mount – the gleam of the golden Dome of the Rock immediately draws my attention. It’s the site of Mount Moriah, where Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed as a test of his faith. God accepted his willingness and gave him the glimpse of His Son
    The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel

    The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel (All images © 2016 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

    to come. Later David purchased the site from the Jebusites and Solomon built the temple on the very ground. On the third day I actually visited the Temple Mount for the first time. Although it was breathtaking, I could also sense the tension all around. As much as I loved the experience, I’m grateful that through Christ no longer is my access to God limited by a plot of land but we can come “boldly to the throne of grace.” (Hebrews 4:16)

  2. The City of David – between the Tyropoeon Valley on the west and Kidron valley to the east is the place that David chose to be his
    City of David, Jerusalem, Israel

    City of David, Jerusalem, Israel (All images © 2016 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

    capital. It is actually outside the walls of Jerusalem. I couldn’t help but visualize David walking on the terrace of his palace while his army had gone into battle. Down below he saw Bathsheba bathing. Instead of walking away, this “man after God’s own heart” gave into the sin of adultery. But he didn’t stop there. He even had her husband brutally murdered. Although David had to suffer the consequence of his sins, God still showed him mercy and grace. It reminded me that no one was immune to the temptation of sin and I resolved to God – “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)

  3. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre – Unfortunately, this structure does not outshine the surrounding buildings. In fact, one really has to search for the most important site in Christianity – the place where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. Inside, it is
    Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

    Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

    gaudy and stale and I never cease to be amazed at the blind devotions of the tourists, kissing the ground and attempting to gain some divine favor. If that’s not enough, it’s always fascinating and revolting to watch the different groups trying to control their piece of the shrine. It’s tragic…but a great illustration of human nature. We cling to our blind rituals. We remain divided over trivial stuff. We lose sight of the heart of the gospel. To me, the ground is historical not sacred. Only Christ and His work for us deserve our utmost devotion. Peter offers a stark warning, “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.’” (1 Peter 2:7)

As I’m about to walk back to our van, I turn to catch one last glimpse of the gorgeous panorama of the capital of the world and I’m reminded that one day all of it will be remade. Revelation 21 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” What a glorious hope!

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Five

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 5 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy5We are in part 5 of our miniseries KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE. Many of you ask me about how to get copies of the messages. Either you can order CD’s through the email in the bulletin or visit our website or sign up for the Clearview podcast.

Matthew 5   27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: Last week, we looked at how Potiphar’s wife, a pagan Egyptian woman, tried to seduce Joseph. Today we will look someone who was anything but pagan. In fact, he was known as “a man after God’s own heart.” As a young boy, he had courage enough to face a giant. As a young king, he had charisma enough to unite all the tribes of Israel. As the sweet psalmist of Israel, he had spiritual capability to write Psalm 23 and half the psalms in the Old Testament. But, in a moment of lust and weakness and pride, he threw away his conscience and his character and became worse than an infidel. Of course, we’re talking about King David.

Here’s a statement – when the world messes up, it’s understandable. I didn’t say it’s right, just understandable. But, when a Christian messes up, it’s unbelievable. You say – “That’s not fair.” You’re right but it’s still the fact. No wonder Jesus said in verse 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you…” Next week we’ll look at this in detail but for now the message is – “Adultery is a serious sin. Serious enough to take whatever precautions you can to save yourself from it.”

Questions: How seriously do you take the sin of adultery? How seriously do you take the sin of adultery as a Christian? Remember – it’s not just the act but also the thought. Do you realize the tremendous consequences that follow your decisions? Do you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit when you inch towards adultery? If not, you need to get saved.

This morning we’re going to look at the account of King David and Bathsheba and learn how easy it is for a Christian to fall into this sin and how awful are the consequences. But we will also learn that there is forgiveness and restoration through Christ. Again, married or single, this message is for all of us.


2 Samuel 11   1 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. I’m sure you’ve heard a message on this before – David was playing hooky instead of leading his army in battle. As the saying goes, “An empty mind is a Devil’s workshop.” 2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. Last week, I had several men come to me individually and ask me that question – “Is it the first look or the second look?” Meaning: Is it a sin to look at someone who is pretty? Altogether, there are 4 looks:

  • It is normal to look at a person of the opposite sex and think they are beautiful or handsome. That’s not a sin.
  • It is normal to look at a person of the opposite sex and even be tempted. That’s not a sin either. Jesus was tempted but without sin. Ask God to help you think differently of them.
  • It is not okay to look at a person of the opposite sex who is not your spouse and be obsessed by them. That is a sin. If you are married, you should have eyes only for your spouse. If you are single, you should have eyes only for those who are single.
  • It is definitely not okay to look at a person in a way that draws them into your lust. That is definitely a sin. That’s what David tried to do next.

3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, They gave her description as if David was supposed to know her family. Who was Eliam? In 2 Samuel 23 we have a list of David’s elite fighting force – One of them killed 800 men by himself; another killed 300 men; and yet another had killed a lion inside a snow filled pit. One of them was “…Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite.” (vs. 34) Who was Ahithophel the Gilonite? He was one of David’s advisors. How good was his advice? 2 Samuel 16:23 Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. Meaning: When Ahithophel spoke, it was as if God spoke. In other words, David knew that Bathsheba came from a very respectable family. He should have left her alone. But there was something much more important about Bathsheba – “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Meaning: She was a married woman. By the way, Uriah was also one of David’s elites. He had enough reasons to stop immediately!

Question: What do you do when the Holy Spirit tells you to stop? Do you keep gazing? 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Do you take the way of escape that God sends your way? Do you pray “Lead us not into temptation?”


4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her…”

Background: What began as a harmless glance became a lustful gaze and turned into a disgraceful sin. “Go bring her to me.” How did David justify this? Here are my 3 guesses:

  • Maybe he thought he was doing her a favor. After all, she is married to Uriah the Hittite. Hittites were people from the North in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). There were also some who had transplanted to the South in Canaan from the time of Abraham. What David had forgotten was that Uriah was not a Hittite name. It was a Hebrew name that meant – “Yahweh is my Light.” Uriah was a convert. In his fit of lust, David did not care.
  • Maybe he thought no one would ever know. All the fighting men are in battle. I can cover it up. Nobody will ever know. By the way, David did an excellent job of hiding it. The punishment for adultery is death by stoning but for that you need at least 2 witnesses. Partly because he was the king but also because no one knew what was happening.
  • Maybe he thought he was entitled to her. After all, he was David the shepherd King, the man who defeated the Philistines. At least, I am way better than Saul. I have done so much for these people. I deserve whatever I want.

What happened next? Bathsheba got pregnant and sent word to David “I am with child.” Instead of repenting before God David went into damage control mode. First, he told his commander Joab to send Uriah home for some R and R. Uriah refused to go home because his men were camped out in the fields. 13 “Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk.” Let me say something here – there is a reason why David was not leading his army. He was addicted to the bottle. He seems to be getting wasted. It’s my guess but I believe that David was drunk when he went after Bathsheba. Alcohol dulls your senses. It lowers your fear and insecurities and you do things that you will normally never do in your right mind. Here’s a formula worth remembering – ALCOHOL + OPPORTUNITY = ADULTERY

Finally, he gave order to Joab to put Uriah on the frontline and in the thick of the battle pull back. Just as planned, Uriah died. Listen to verse 26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

Application: Do you justify your sins? Do you think you owe it to yourself to indulge in sin? How far will you go to cover up your tracks?


27 And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. David was thinking that it was all over and that everything was forgotten. Listen to the last line of that verse – “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” The Bible is unlike any religious book. It never sugarcoats the lives of its heroes. As Alan Redpath would say – “The Bible never flatters its heroes.”

2 Samuel 12:1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. Nathan gave David a parable of 2 men – one rich and one poor. The rich had many flocks and herd and the poor had one ewe lamb. It was like a daughter to him. One day the rich man had a visitor. Instead of getting an animal from his own flock, he took the poor man’s only lamb. What do you think David? At this point David responded with anger. Listen to verse 5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Talk about a “Freudian projection.” In psychology, projection means, “you hate something in someone because secretly you know it is in you and you hate it.” God explained it 3000 years before Freud.

Listen to Nathan’s famous line to David in verse 7 “…You are the man! God said – “I made you king of Israel and gave you everything you have but it wasn’t enough.” Here’s the judgment – 10 “…the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me…11 “…Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ” Just as God said, it happened. For one murder, David lost 4 sons: 1. Son of Bathsheba (12:18); 2. Amnon – killed by his brother Absalom (13:28); 3. Absalom was killed in battle (18:14); 4. Adonijah – killed by Solomon (I Kin 2:24-25).

Here’s an old principle – Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” In other words, “what goes around, comes around.”

What is David’s response? 13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Psa. 51 1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness…Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12             Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.

What is God’s answer? “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Although the child died, Bathsheba had another child and she called his name Solomon.

Invitation: The only solution to sin is to fall into the hands of God, fall into the hands of Jesus. Do you need to repent today? Are you saved?

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