Steer Your Thoughts by Pastor Abidan Shah

STEER YOUR THOUGHTS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

steeryourthoughtsIntroduction: This is our 5th message in our series “PUTTING ANXIETY TO WORK” and this one is called “STEER YOUR THOUGHTS.”

Matthew 6   25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Bridge: Would you agree that worry is the result of unguided thoughts? Think about it – what happens to children who are left to themselves without proper guidance and discipline? They become monsters. So also our thoughts, if they are left to themselves without proper facts and supervision, they become monsters.

Background of the passage: So far in this series, which began in verse 19, Jesus told us that to deal with worry we have to change our thoughts: change our thoughts about wealth – “Don’t hoard but share”; change our thoughts about other people’s success – “Don’t let your eye be evil but good”; and change our thoughts about who controls your life – “Don’t have two masters. Only Christ.” But all that was to lead us to this section. To get to the heart of worry, we have to change what we fundamentally think about our relationship with God.

Question: What do you believe about God? Do you believe that He cares for your needs? Do you believe that He is a good Father who cares for His children? Do you believe He is a sovereign God who has the best in store for us? Are you saved? Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son…how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

So how do you steer your thoughts?

I. CHANGE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT LIFE. 

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.”

Background: When Jesus made that statement, He was not advocating some vagrant life, with no responsibilities. Neither was He suggesting some monastic life, all detached and otherworldly. Instead, He was teaching His listeners how to have the proper perspective on the daily necessities of life. Think about Jesus’ listeners. Most of them were the common people from first century Palestine. For food, they had to depend on the rainfall and even if they had adequate rainfall, insects, locusts, and wild fire could destroy their crops. For water, they had to rely on wells and springs but what if there was a drought? For clothes, the poor people generally wore woolen garments. At the most they would have one change of clothing but what if there was a fire? By the way, this is how most of the world still lives at this very moment, just day to day.

Jesus was not telling them not to plan for their lives. He was only telling them not to be overcome by “merimnaw.” It’s a Greek word for “worry” that’s much more than daily care. It is “paralyzing anxiety.” We find it used in Psalm 55 in the LXX where David is describing a time of deep trouble and anxiety in his life. In verse 22 he says, “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you.” The word for burden is “merimnaw”. The only way He could rid himself of this paralyzing anxiety is by casting it on God. We could substitute that word here. Jesus was saying – “Do not be burdened about your life.”

Question: Are you burdened about your life? Are you living under this paralyzed anxiety? With the election year upon us, many are wondering what’s going to happen. Is there going to be another financial crisis? Will we lose our jobs, our homes? Will we be able to meet our daily needs? What’s going to happen to our children, our grandchildren?

What is Jesus’ solution? “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Seems like an odd response but think about it for a moment – “Is not life more than our basic necessities?” Animals live only for their daily necessities, minus clothing. We human beings were created for things far greater. We were created in the image of God and with the ability to relate with Him. We were given the gift to create new things and solve problems and improve our standard of life. We were created with godly attributes of love and justice so we could help those who are weak and abused. We were created with a sense of purpose in life so we could go out and build God’s kingdom. One verse that comes to mind is Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Application: What do you think about your life? Do you look beyond your daily necessities? Have you ever stopped and asked God – “Why did you create me?” “What would you have me to do in this world?” Most human beings will never ask that question. Have you? Are you living this life of paralyzed anxiety? Stop asking, “Are we going to make it?” and start asking, “What am I made for?” It’s only when your mind is on greater things that you can deal with the lesser concerns of life.

II. CHANGE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR SELF.

26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Israel Raven 1

Israel Raven 1 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Here Jesus appeals to nature to make a very important point. God didn’t just create this world and leave it to fend for itself. He’s not just the Creator of life but He’s also the Sustainer of life. It’s like in our culture today – “Any man can be a father but a dad is someone who sticks around to take responsibility and provide care after conception.” By the way, Luke in his gospel is even more specific about Jesus’ words and he identifies the birds as ravens. These were unclean birds but God cares for them too. The conclusion Jesus draws is “Are you not of more value than they?”

Israel Raven 2

Israel Raven 2 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

If that wasn’t enough, Jesus gives another illustration from nature. By the way, one of the best cures for anxiety and worry is nature. People think that rest and relaxation is watching TV or going shopping or working in the yard or playing golf. All those things are fine but that’s just substituting one activity for another. True rest is when you actually sleep and true relaxation is when you stop all activity and allow your body to return to zero. Spending time in nature will do that for you more than anything else.

Israel Raven 3

Israel Raven 3 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Israel Raven 4

Israel Raven 4 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Listen to verse 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Again, the point is that if God cares for the less desirable and less worthy things in creation, will He not care for the crown of His creation? This may be hard for some of us to understand. We’re living in a world where every effort is made to neutralize any distinction between the creation and us. I love animals and we need to treat them with kindness and compassion. Having said that, there is a world of difference between animals and us. Please don’t blur the lines that God has drawn. God made everything by the word of His mouth but He created us by His own hands. Yes – He gave them life but only we are made in His image. We are of far more value than animals and plants.

Question: Do you know how valuable you are to God? Psalm 8 says, 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen—Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea… Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is biblical self-esteem.

Application: How is your biblical self-esteem? There’s a difference between self-esteem and biblical self-esteem. Self-esteem only asks – “What do you think of your self?” Biblical self-esteem asks – “What do you think God thinks of you?” Do you believe He cares for your daily needs? Do you believe that He has the best in store for you? Do you believe that He won’t abandon you?

III. CHANGE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT BEING A BELIEVER. 

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek.

Background: The biblical concept of God as our Father is without parallel in other religions. Sometimes I hear people from other religions trying to claim it but they are forcing their view on their religious texts and making them say something they’re not. It’s only in the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) and Judeo-Christian writings that we find the belief that God is the Heavenly Father of His people and as their Heavenly Father He provides for them and protects them. Since Gentiles or unbelievers don’t truly believe that God is their Father, it affects how they live their daily lives. They are vexed with worries and anxieties. They are burdened with paralyzing fears over daily necessities of life. They are out there fending for themselves, trying to survive.

Question: Are you constantly living in worries and anxieties? Then you are living more like Gentiles and unbelievers, than as the people of God.

So how should you live? “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” The Greek word for “seek” is “zeteo” and in this context it has the idea of “eagerly seek.” Meaning: Eagerly seek after what God is doing in your life and in this world. Submit to His will and purpose. Join Him in building His kingdom and spreading His righteousness in your life and in the world. As you work for Him, He will take care of you.

Invitation: Whose kingdom are you building? Yours or God’s. If it’s yours, then you will labor and sweat and worry and panic. If it’s God’s, then, as you work for Him, He will take care of you. Are you working for Him? Are you saved? Do you belong to Him?

Gain by Giving Away by Pastor Abidan Shah

GAIN BY GIVING AWAY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

gainbygivingawayIntroduction: We’re in our series called “PUTTING ANXIETY TO WORK” from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is giving us life principles on how to deal with anxiety and worry. Today’s message is titled – “GAIN BY GIVING AWAY.”

Matthew 6   19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Overall Background: The passage we just read has been misunderstood quite often. Some people think that in this passage Jesus was getting on to the rich who lay up treasures on earth. Others think that He was warning against having material things in life instead of heavenly things. Still others think that He was really talking about the unpredictability of life where moth, rust, and thieves come unannounced and destroy and steal. To understand what this passage is really about, we have to understand it in its context. When we keep reading, we realize that Jesus was building His argument leading up to verse 25 where He says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life…” In other words, “I am saying all this to you so that you may learn how not to worry in life.”

Here’s the point of this message: Worry or Anxiety has nothing to do with your bank balance. It has to do with attitude of your heart. When your heart is in hoarding and guarding what you have, worry and anxiety will follow. When your heart is in letting go, sharing and helping the less fortunate, then there is assurance and peace and joy.

The question this morning is not “How much money you have?” but “What is the status of your heart?” Are you struggling with worry and anxiety? Are you hoarding or are you sharing? In which bank are you making deposits? The earthly or the heavenly? The earthly will fail but the heavenly will give eternal dividends. There’s never a run on that bank. Are you saved? You’ll have only a partial understanding of today’s message unless the Holy Spirit helps you. Only those who know Christ have the Spirit.

To understand today’s message, we have to understand 3 things.

I. WHAT IS THE HEART? 

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Background: The Greek word for heart is “cardia” from which we get our English words cardiologist, cardiogram, or cardiac arrest. Since the time of Homer, the heart came to represent the seat of our emotions and our mental faculties, to some extent. But in the Hebrew Bible and especially the Greek translation (LXX), the word “cardia” had a much deeper meaning. It meant our emotions, mind, inner life, will, and the very center of being a human. In fact, it is found over 900 times in the LXX. Here are some examples:

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Meaning: Love God from your essence and not just your outward actions.
  • Exodus 7:13 “And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.” Meaning: He made up his mind to disobey God.
  • Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Meaning: God, cleanse from the inside out.
  • Psalm 27 David says, 13 “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart…” Meaning: If you trust God, He will strengthen your will and your perspective on life.

So also in the New Testament:

  • Matthew 15:19 Jesus says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Meaning: The source of sin is inside of us not outside.
  • Romans 5:5 Paul says, “…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Meaning: God begins His work deep within our being.

Here’s the point: The heart is the indefinable, indescribable inner life, and the center of our personality. It’s what makes us who we are. It’s the location of God’s work and interaction with us. Our heart can be either full of God and set on the things of God or it can be full of self and set on things of this world. Your heart is who you are.

Application: Where is your heart? Is it full of Christ? Or, is it full of sin? If you haven’t received Christ as your Savior, you are full of sin. The solution is given in Romans 10:9 says, “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.” Meaning: Believe in Jesus inwardly and not just outwardly. Let Him come into your life.

II. HOW DO YOU STORE UP TREASURE IN HEAVEN? 

20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Background: People have all kinds of ideas as to how to store up treasures in heaven – doing things for God, studying the Bible, praying more, serving in church, and winning the lost. None of these things are wrong and we should be doing them but that’s not what Jesus meant when He told us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. To understand what He meant, we need to compare the parallel passages in Luke that give us some additional information. Luke 12  33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In other words, to store up treasures in heaven, you need to help the poor and the needy. Don’t hoard your money but help the less fortunate and you will start making deposits in the heavenly bank.

Why didn’t Matthew include this clarification by Jesus in his gospel? Because he was writing to a predominantly Jewish audience who already knew this principle. In an apocryphal work known by Ben Sira, which was written two centuries before Christ, it says in Sirach 29   Help a poor man for the commandment’s sake, and because of his need do not send him away empty. 10 Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost. 11 Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and it will profit you more than gold. So also in Tobit, another apocryphal work written two centuries before Christ, it says in Tobit 4 9 So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity. 10 For charity delivers from death and keeps you from entering the darkness; 11 and for all who practice it charity is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High. Please don’t misunderstand – these are not scriptures, but they help us understand how the people in the time of Jesus understood “storing up treasures in heaven.”

Christ and Rich young ruler by Heinrich Hofmann

Christ and Rich young ruler by Heinrich Hofmann

In Matthew 19 Jesus explained this very clearly. Do you remember when the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him how to have eternal life? Jesus told him to keep the commandments. To which he replied, “Already done it since I was a kid. What’s next?” Mark says that Jesus looked at him and loved him. Meaning: He had compassion on him and said in 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, (Mark adds take up your cross) follow Me.” The point is this – giving what you have to help those less fortunate than yourself and needy is storing up treasures in heaven.

By the way, Paul says the same thing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6   17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Application: What is your attitude towards what you have? Are you hoarding it or are you sharing it? Let me clarify – sharing it does not mean that you go around throwing your money indiscreetly to anyone or everyone; sharing does not mean that you don’t plan and budget for your own life, family, and future. It simply means that you are willing to become the hands of Jesus.

III. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH WORRY AND ANXIETY?

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;

Background: Just like in our world today, imported fabrics were very expensive in the ancient world, especially woollen clothes that had been processed to look bright white or dyed purple. So also silk was like gold in the time of the Romans. But just like today, moth larvae could get into the closet and destroy those expensive clothes. But it was not just clothes but also scrolls, books, and title deeds could be destroyed. How about “rust?” The Greek word is “brosis” which is not really about rust or corrosion but a better translation would be “eaters.” It was a reference to plagues of insects or birds destroying crops and pastures and eating food that was stored away. Then come thieves that break in and steal.

For e.g. I have talked to people who had their home broken into. I asked them how they felt. They felt violated, unsafe, paranoid, anxious, afraid, and the list goes on and on.

What Jesus is saying is – “You can either hoard it and hang on to it and the subtle criminals of life can steal it from under your noses or you can give it to help the less fortunate and put it in the heavenly account where moths, eaters, and thieves cant reach. The choice is yours.” James says the same thing in James 5   1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

To deal with worry and anxiety, put your wealth where no one can touch it. Not only that but it’s a bank that has eternal dividends. “There’s no U-haul behind a hearse but you can UPS it. “Unending Possession Sharing.”

Illustration: Many people don’t know but John Wesley was a very rich man. We only think of him as a godly man, travelling on horseback, founder of Methodism. He made a lot of money from the books and the hymns that he wrote. When he died, he had only 28 pounds to his name. What many people don’t realize is that he gave all his money away, at one time, as much as 40,000 pounds. Let me ask you – “Did he die rich or poor?”

By the way, this is not just about money but knowledge and love and everything.

Application: Are you struggling with worry and anxiety? How much are you giving and sharing with those who are in need and those who are less fortunate than yourself? Are you saved

When God’s Will is Done by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD’S WILL IS DONE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodswillisdoneIntroduction: We’re in the 4th message in our series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father.” This morning we will focus on the next line – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and the message is titled – “When God’s Will is Done.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: The hardest thing for me this week was coming up with a title for this message. I tried everything from – “How to find God’s will for your life” to “When God guides your life” to “What is God’s plan for your life” but the more I studied this passage, the more I realized that this petition is not about finding God’s will for our personal lives. It’s about submitting to God’s grand will for the entire world. It’s about telling God, “I am setting aside my prayer for guidance and direction in my life and I want to embrace your sovereign will to redeem and restore this world through Jesus Christ.” Now someone may say – “I guess our life doesn’t matter.” To the contrary, when we pray this way, God is not only pleased with us but in His grand will He reveals His place for us. But first the midpoint of the circle of life has to shift from us to God. It’s not you in the center waiting for God to guide you but God in the center carrying out His will and showing you where you fit in.

Question: What concerns you more? God’s will for your life or God’s grand will period. Many of us are praying – “God, show me your will for my life” when we should be praying – “God, carry out your will in this world. Do what you have determined to do. I want to be with you. Not that you need me but I need you.” When we pray this way, not only do we discover God’s will for us but we pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Application: Are you seeking for God’s will for your life? Are you waiting for God to reveal His perfect plan for your life? Maybe it’s time to rephrase your prayers – “Not my will but thine be done.” Are you saved? I Timothy 2:4 tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That’s God’s first will for your life.

3 things we will understand about “God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.”

I. WHAT IS THE WILL OF GOD? 

Background: To understand it, we need to ask the same question we did in the last message about the “kingdom of God” – “What did it mean to Jesus’ audience when He mentioned “God’s Will?” If they knew their Old Testament, they knew several things–

  • God has a secret will and a revealed will. Although William Perkins, a Puritan theologian, gave these designations much later in the 16th century, they are still valid. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
  • God’s secret will includes God’s hidden decrees by which He governs His universe. It is His plan for how He will complete what He promised to Adam and Eve, began with Abraham, through His people Israel, by His Son Jesus, and into the New Heavens and the New Earth. Sometimes God even lets us in on some of His secrets through prophecies in the Bible but most of the times He chooses to keep them hidden from us. Isaiah 46 9 “…I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.’” Daniel 4:35 …He (God) does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
  • God’s revealed will includes God’s clear commands for our moral behavior in life. It is His precept for how we should live. God clearly reveals them to us through His Word. Deuteronomy 30   11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Both these wills are important and they go hand in hand – If you remember in Genesis when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, what was God’s revealed will for them? They should love him, forgive him, and not hurt him. They disobeyed God’s revealed/moral will. But later on what happens? God raised Joseph to become the second in command in Egypt. Then there was a great famine in the land and his brothers came to Egypt looking for grain. When they found out his true identity, they were scared for their lives but do you remember what Joseph said to them? Genesis 50:20 “…as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to…save many people alive.” There you see God’s secret will in action.

Application: Are you obeying God’s moral and revealed will in your life? Are you living your life in a way that pleases God? Are you trusting God’s hidden and all-powerful will in your life? Are you resting in the fact that God will work all things together for good? When we begin to understand the depth and power of God’s will (both secret and revealed), we lose all fear and anxiety in this life.

II. WHICH WILL IS MENTIONED HERE? 

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Background: What did Jesus mean when He gave this petition? Did He mean the secret will or did He mean the revealed will? Was Jesus referring to God’s perfect will for the world or was He referring to God’s moral expectation of me? There is a big difference. If it is His secret will, then we are saying – “God, do what you need to do to accomplish Your purpose in this world.” If it is His reveled will, then we are saying – “God, help me to do what I need to do to obey your commands in Your Word.” As much as I would like to say it’s both or focus on God’s revealed and moral will, the real focus is God’s secret will. If you remember, the first 3 petitions are in the 3rd person and divine passive. This means that “Your will be done” is not a request to God but just a humble declaration. What we are saying is “God, may your secret will be done in Your world. We surrender ourselves to your divine purpose.” By the way, we find this same petition in the Kaddish (Ancient Jewish Prayer) – “Exalted and sanctified is God’s great name in the world which He has created according to His will, and may He establish His kingdom in your lifetime.” Meaning: Not only has God in His sovereign will created this world and glorified His name but, one day soon, in His sovereign will, He will also establish His kingdom among us. All of that is part of His secret will for His world.

But before we move on, listen again to the whole petition – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What does that mean – “on earth as it is in heaven”? Some people misunderstand this. I did too. They think that what Jesus is saying here is that – “In heaven God’s will is always and perfectly done but that’s not the case on earth. People rebel against God and refuse to obey His commands and follow His plans. So we are asking God to try to do on earth what He’s always able to do in heaven.” That’s problematic. It assumes that somehow God is not in control over what’s happening in this world. I think about what’s happening in our world and in our own nation today. Think about this whole HB2 mess that’s going on. I’ve wondered in my heart – what is God up to? He does not approve this. Why is He allowing this? Is it beyond His control? Is it just man’s free will running its course? Listen carefully – Yes, human beings have a free will to choose God and His way or rebel against it. Having said that, every moment and in every situation, God is in perfect control over this earth and not a single thing is going on without His permission. Do you believe that? Listen to–

  • Proverbs 16:4 “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”
  • Psalm 37   12 The wicked plots against the just, And gnashes at him with his teeth. 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming.
  • Psalm 2   1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.

When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it is not with a tone of defeat and despair. It is with the rock solid assurance that God is perfectly in control of what’s going on and He will work His perfect secret will in His own way and time. We have total faith that God is in control and His purpose will prevail.

Application: Does it frustrate you as to what is happening in our world today? Do you get fearful for your children and your grandchildren? Trust God and know that He is perfectly in control. His plan is not for a moment in jeopardy. He is still on His throne. We may not be able to see His secret will but we can trust Him to be in control.

III. HOW CAN WE FIND GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES?

I’m always amazed and amused as how people decide what is God’s will for their lives! They base it on coincidences, feelings, dreams, conversations, etc. I’m not suggesting that God cannot speak through these things. Let me repeat what I said earlier – first the midpoint of the circle of life has to shift from us to God. It’s not you in the center waiting for God to show you His will but God in the center carrying out His grand will and showing you where you fit in. In other words, when we approach God and say to Him – “‘May your will be done on earth and heaven’ – I am here to trust you and obey you. I am unworthy of anything. I am just grateful that you have saved me. I want to do whatever pleases you.” When we pray such a prayer of submission, God in His sovereign grace turns the box of jigsaw puzzle over and shows us the whole picture and then gives us our tiny piece and says “I’ll help you finish your part of the puzzle.” The Jewish people were not praying for some special individualized prayers. They were simply praying that God will do what He had already begun and what He was intending to complete in His time.

It all comes down to the song – “Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Stop looking for signs and things to line up. What if they don’t line up tomorrow?! Then what?! Instead, Trust His secret will and obey His revealed will. Trust that He has the whole world in His hands and Obey whatever He has called you to do.

Are you saved? Are you trusting and obeying

When God is Our King by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD IS OUR KING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodisourking

Introduction: We’re in our series through the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today we will hear our third message titled – “When God is Our King.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: In 2004 Britain’s Channel 4 aired a documentary titled – Britain’s Real Monarch. It made a stunning claim that the real king of England was actually a forklift driver from Australia named Michael Hastings. This was not just some crazy theory but it actually had some historians and genealogists behind it. They claimed that it all began in the 15th century when the War of the Roses was being fought. King Edward IV who was king at the time was actually illegitimate. He was not the son of Richard, the 3rd Duke of York but was actually from an affair between his mother Lady Cecily Neville and a local archer named Blaybourne. He should not have been the king. Instead, the rightful heir to the throne was his brother George Plantagent and his direct descendant Abney-Hastings. So when you trace this line, instead of Tudors, Stuarts, and Windsors, you see a lot of Hastings. They asked Michael Hastings (he died in 2012) if he would contend for the throne and he said that he had no such intentions but he thought about sending some past due notices to the Queen since her family has been living in his castle for 500 years! His son Simon also said that he has no desire to contend for the throne but then added – “It does make you think about how things could be different.”

Does it ever make you think how things would be if Jesus were the King? Do you ever wonder what this world would be like if God was indeed the sovereign ruler of this world? Would there be so much crime, violence, hate, lies, injustice, immorality, lewdness, vileness, poverty, sickness, hunger, despair, and hopelessness? Why doesn’t God answer the petition – “Your Kingdom come?” Why does it feel as if the rightful king is in exile? Listen carefully – God’s kingdom has come. Those who have received Christ can see it. It is growing and one day when all will see the King and bow before Him.

Question: Is Jesus the king of your life? Is He in control of your life? Are you doing all you can to spread His kingdom in this world? Are you saved? To be saved, all you need to do is receive Him as your Savior. But don’t stop there. Make Him the sovereign ruler of your life. Make Him the king of your life.

3 questions we will answer to understand the petition – “Your Kingdom Come.”

I. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD? 

Background: Bible Scholars have argued for quite sometime about the meaning of the “kingdom” or the “kingdom of God/heaven.” To understand it, we need to ask “What did it mean to Jesus’ audience when He used that phrase?” If they knew their Old Testament, they knew that–

  • God was the eternal King who created the heavens and the earth. Psalm 47   6 “Sing praises to God…Sing praises to our King7 For God is the King of all the earth…”
  • God was the rightful King over them, His people Israel. Isaiah 43:15 “I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”
  • Most importantly, God would one day come to rule over His world forever. Isaiah 40:10 “Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him” and Psalm 146:10 “The LORD shall reign forever…”

This was also part of their daily prayers. In the Shemonah Esreh or the Amidah, the 2nd blessing says – “Who is like You, Lord of the mighty acts, and who resembles You, O King, who orders death and restores life, and causes salvation to spring forth?” The 8th blessing says, “Grant a perfect healing to all our wounds; for You, almighty King, are a faithful and merciful Physician.” The 11th blessing says, “…reign over us, O Lord…Blessed are you, O Lord, the King who loves righteousness and judgment.” I can go on and on. Also, listen to the Kaddish (also an ancient Jewish prayer from the time) – “May he establish His kingdom in our lifetime and in our days.” Sounds like the Lord’s Prayer, doesn’t it? When we study the other Jewish literature from the time, we again find that the Jewish people knew that God their King was coming and one day He would reveal His kingdom by lifting up His name in all the earth, by judging the wicked, by rescuing His people, and, by reigning sovereign over all creation forever and ever.

Even though the Jewish people had been under many foreign rulers (the Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Romans), they knew that ultimately God was the true king of the world; God was their true king; and one day He was coming to take His throne as the King forever.

Here’s the point: Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged when we read the news today. It seems as if there is no end to violence and wars and battles. There seems to be no end to the depravity and hate and evil. Many times God’s people have suffered terribly. But here’s something you can hold on to – there is one king who is still on His throne and He always will be. He is the Living True God. There’s one kingdom that has no end. It is His kingdom of the Eternal King. One day the rightful king will do away with all the wicked and their wickedness and He will vindicate and reward his people.

Application: Are you afraid of the future? Are you discouraged about the future of this world and our nation? Do you wonder what God is up to? Let me remind you to rest in the fact that He is still in the rightful King and His kingdom shall prevail.

II. WHEN WILL THE KINGDOM OF GOD COME? 

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.

Background: There is something unique about the way Jesus talked about the kingdom. Unlike the Jewish people who believed that one day God would come and reveal His kingdom, Jesus did not talk about God coming or the kingdom being revealed. Instead He merged the two and said, “The kingdom has come.” I know this may seem a little trivial to you but please don’t miss this point. What Jesus was telling them was – “I am the God you read about in the scriptures and I have come. Also, I have brought with me the kingdom you’ve been praying for. You have to go through Me to get into the kingdom.” Boy, did that make the leaders angry! There would’ve been no problem if Jesus had said – “God is coming” or “I’ve come to set up the kingdom of God.” The problem was that He merged those two. Their reaction was – “Are you claiming to be God, our king, who will establish the kingdom that will never end? How dare you? We know who you are. We know your parents. You are a nobody.” Jesus made it clear to them that “Entering God’s kingdom was by receiving Him as their Savior and receiving Him as their Savior was entering God’s kingdom.” So how did they respond?

Some questioned the timing of the kingdom of God. Jesus responded in Luke 17:20 “…The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, “See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Some opposed His preaching. So Jesus began to preach in parables. When His disciples asked Him why, he said in Matthew 13:11 “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”

Some opposed His miracles and said that He had demons. Jesus responded to them by saying in Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Some came to check Him out like Nicodemus. Jesus said to him in John 3:3 “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Some acknowledge that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, like Peter. Jesus said to him in Matt. 16   17 “…Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”

Some questioned their position in the kingdom of Heaven. So Jesus called a little child and set him in the midst of them and said in Matt. 18:3 “…unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I can go on but here’s the point – Receiving Jesus is receiving the kingdom and rejecting Jesus is rejecting the kingdom. To enter the kingdom, you have to be born again. To enter the kingdom, you have to come to Jesus as a humble child and be converted.

Application: Do you belong to the kingdom of God or are you still in the power of darkness? Are you willing to humble yourself and be converted?

III. HOW DOES THE PRAYER FOR THE KINGDOM WORK?

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.

Background: Once again, do not forget, the first three petitions are in the third person and they are divine passive. This means that we are not ordering God to hurry up and bring the kingdom. We are simply declaring that we are under His rule and He is the king who does what He pleases. It is a declaration not an instruction. God will bring His complete kingdom when He is ready to. The question I need to ask myself is – “Am I submitted to Him in every area of my life? Is He the rightful king in my life?

But we don’t stop there. We do all we can to live in a way that we declare Him King in every part of the world in which we live – Politics, ethics, morality, art, literature, etc. Yes, one day He will make all things right but until then we need to live out His purpose in this world.

Colossians 1 13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Are you saved? Are you submitted to the King?

When God’s Name is Lifted Up by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD’S NAME IS LIFTED UP by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodsnameisliftedup

Introduction: We are in the second message in our series through the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and it is titled – “When God’s Name is Lifted Up.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: This morning we will look at the second line of the Lord’s Prayer – “Hallowed be Your Name.” Now, before we jump in and start unpacking this line, there is something very important to note here: The Lord’s Prayer can be divided into 2 halves: the “Thou-petitions” and the “we-petitions.” Thou-petitions – “Hallowed be thy name,” “Thy kingdom come,” and Thy will be done.” We-petitions – “Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our debts,” and “Lead us not into temptations but deliver us from the evil one.” The first part of the prayer is about God’s name, God’s Kingdom, and God’s will. Then follows the second part about our needs, our sins, and our security.

Here’s the point: Prayer is first about God and His purpose and then it is about us and our petitions. Many times we begin with what’s on our list and that’s fine but we should first begin by asking what’s on God’s list. Later Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Question: How do you see prayer? Do you begin with your own needs and wants? Are your prayers self-centered rather than God-centered? Is it any wonder that many of our prayers never get answered? Are you saved? If not, you will never understand what’s on the heart of God. It’s only when you receive a new heart and mind, you can do that.

3 basic questions we will ask in order to understand “Hallowed be Your Name.”

I. WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT GOD’S NAME?

Listen again – 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Background: To understand the importance of God’s name, we need to keep in mind that in the biblical culture a person’s name was a description of his/her character. This is hard for us to understand in our culture today. We give names based on what sounds good or what is popular. We name our children after someone in the family or some famous person or even a street sign (like Nicole was named after a street sign in New Orleans!). But in the Bible, names were very significant, especially God’s names. If you remember, when God came to Moses and spoke to him through the burning bush, what did Moses ask God? Listen to Exodus 3   13 “…Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” That’s an odd question. If it is the God of your fathers, then why do you need to know His name? There’s something critical here. The question was not – “Who is this God?” The answer to that would’ve been “Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the Hebrews.” But, the Hebrew word is “mah” which means “what” not “who.” What they were asking was – “We know who He is but does He have a name that will tell us what He will do for us in this situation?”

For e.g. I’m one of the chaplains at the local hospital. Many times I run into some of you when you’re visiting someone in the hospital and you introduce me as “Abidan.” I have no problem with people calling me by my first name. I don’t get offended over that. Typically, when I am introduced by just my first name, the person just politely nods. That’s when people clarify – “Oh by the way, he’s Pastor Shah, my pastor.” All of a sudden there’s a change in their demeanor. I’m not just some friend who happened to be passing by but a pastor and many times they’ll ask me to pray for them, which I gladly do. By the way, I have other names: To my children – “Daddy,” as a former teacher and educator – “Mr. Shah,” and as an academic – “Dr. Shah.” (little too early for that)

So also with God – He is God but that’s too generic. He has many names that signify who He is and what He does in particular situations. By the way, what was God’s answer to Moses? Verse 14 “…I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” What God was saying is – “Tell my people ‘I am the God who was with them; I am the God who is with them; and I am the God who will be with them.’” 15 “…This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” In other words, “I am the God who established you as a people; I am the God who allowed you to go into slavery; and I am also the God who will set you free.”

God’s names are very important because they teach us His character and His work in our lives. My challenge to you is go beyond the generic “God” and get to know His names:

  • If you are in need, He is “Jehovah Jireh: the God who provides.”
  • If you are sick, He is “Jehovah Rapha: the God who heals.”
  • If you are in turmoil, He is “Jehovah Shalom: the God who is our peace.”
  • If you are in the wilderness, He is “Jehovah Shama: the God who is close to us.”

I don’t have time to go through all of them. Jump over the New Testament and you find Jesus as Emmanuel, Son of God, Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God.

Application: How well do you know God? Are you satisfied with the generic “God?” What difficult situation are you facing? I promise you there is a name of God in the Bible with your particular need. Call God by that name. He will meet you right where you are.

II. WHY SHOULD GOD’S NAME BE HALLOWED?

9 “…Hallowed be Your name.”

Background: The Greek word “hagiazein” is a rare word that means, “to sanctify.” It has the idea of exalting and lifting up God’s name. Daily in this sinful world, God’s name is being brought down and being tarnished. There’s no name that get’s as misused and misrepresented as God’s name. Do you remember your parents telling you – “Don’t drag our name through the mud?” God’s name gets dragged through the mud constantly.

At this point, we think of the atheist, antichristian, and the terrorists. Not true. It begins with God’s people. Jesus did not create the Lord’s Prayer but adapted it from the Kaddish, an ancient Aramaic prayer of the Jewish people. Listen to it – “Exalted and hallowed be His great name in the world which He created according to His will. May He let His kingdom rule in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the whole house of Israel, speedily and so on. And to this say: Amen.” The Jewish people knew how seriously God took His name. When He gave the 10 commandments in Exodus 20, the 3rd commandment said 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Repeatedly, the people of God had broken this commandment. A perfect example of this is in Jeremiah 7 where God said to the priests in verse 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name…” (God is saying – “My name represents truth, justice, holiness, righteousness, etc. but you have the audacity to stand before Me, knowing who I am, claim to belong to me, and still do things that I hate”) 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes?…” says the LORD. Later, Jesus quoted the same passage when He cleansed the temple.

Here’s the point: Taking God’s name in vain is much more than saying G or GD. It’s about misusing and misrepresenting God’s name. It’s about claiming God’s name but living contrary to His will. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say – “I know so and so claims to be a Christian but you should see how he/she acts outside the church.” That is taking God’s name in vain. When a man claims to be a Christian but acts bitterly towards his wife, he is taking God’s name in vain. When a woman claims to be a Christian but hatefully towards her husband, she is taking God’s name in vain. When a young person claims to be a Christian but does the same thing as the world, he/she is taking God’s name in vain and God hates it.

Application: Are you profaning God’s name or are you exalting God’s name? Are you the one who keeps desecrating God’s name with your lifestyle? God expects me to be a righteous husband, a righteous father, and a faithful shepherd. When I fail to do that, I profane His name. Are you the one who keeps dragging God’s name through the mud?

III. WHO HALLOWS GOD’S NAME?

9 “…Hallowed be Your name.”

Background: We need to understand something very important here. The statement is addressed to God. We don’t hallow God’s name. God hallows His own name. Furthermore, all three of the “Thou-petitions” are in 3rd person. Remember “Person” in grammar class? 1st person – I, me, we, us; 2nd person – you, yours; and 3rd person – he, she, it, they, them. Some people mistakenly change the 3rd to the 2nd person – “God, please hallow Your name, please bring Your kingdom, and please do Your will.” That’s incorrect. Plus the verb is a divine passive. Instead, it should be – “May God’s name be hallowed; may God’s kingdom come; and may God’s will be done.” Each of them is more a declaration rather than a command to God.

Here’s the point: God doesn’t need a petition or a reminder to hallow His name. He is going to do what He needs to do about His name. Listen to Ezekiel 36   22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.

Sometimes people ask – “I don’t know what God is up to…all these atheists, terrorists, and antichristians keep profaning His name.” Every day God is abolishing everything that is contradictory to His holiness and one day He will abolish them permanently. Don’t worry about His job. Worry about your life because hallowing first begins in His own people. He wants His name to be hallowed in us first.

Question:

  • Are you taking God’s name in vain?
  • Are you misrepresenting God’s character?
  • What is in your life right now that maligns God’s name?
  • Are you saved
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