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?

Skeletons in the Family Closet by Pastor Abidan Shah

SKELETONS IN THE FAMILY CLOSET by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Skeletons in the Family ClosetIntroduction: Several years ago Nicole was really into doing her family history. She scoured the libraries, checked the Internet, and visited all the graveyards she could. She would stay up late at night, have all her notes scattered over the dining room table, and try to connect the genealogical dots. She made a lot of progress but then she hit a dead-end. It seemed as if after a certain point, some of the people just disappeared into thin air. She took all her notes down to her grandmother in South Georgia at Christmas. She told her about the problem she was running into. Her grandmother, who is still living, said with a smirk, “Have you ever thought that maybe the reason you cannot find them is because they didn’t want to be found!” By the way, her name is Granny Outlaw. I tell people that I have outlaws for in-laws! The point is “Everyone has some Skeletons in their Family Closet.” In this message we will learn how to deal with those embarrassing moments and situations in our family’s past.

Genesis 12   10   Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, “This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”

There are no perfect families. We all have some skeletons in our family closet. To use the metaphor of a family tree, we all have some rotten fruits hanging on our family tree. In this message we will learn how to deal with those skeletons and those rotten fruits.

Question: Do you have some family secrets? How are you handling them? Do you try to embellish them to make yourself look better? Do you blame all your failures on those shameful memories? Do you wear them as a badge of honor? Here’s a deeper question: If you are saved, do you realize that you are part of a whole new family? John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Does your life demonstrate your new family traits? Or are you still living with the old family habits and tendencies? Are you saved?

As you know, we are studying the family of Abraham and Sarah. They had some skeletons in their closet. Let’s start looking at them:

Skeleton #1 – Genesis 12:10-20 (We just read this passage.) There was a famine in the land of Canaan and so Abraham took Sarah his wife and headed down to Egypt. But before he entered Egypt, he had a talk with her. It began with “You are such a pretty woman!” Sound familiar, ladies? Translated: “I need a favor.” Here it comes. Hold on to your hats! “When the Egyptians notice you, they will say: ‘She is his wife.’ They will kill me but spare you. So, please say that you are my sister and it will be okay for me because of you and they won’t kill me.” Really?! Just in case you are wondering – This is the same Abraham who stepped out on faith to follow God to a land that he had never seen. By the way, they’re not some newly married couple. He’s 75 and she’s 65 years old!

Principle: Age does not equal maturity. You’re never too old to do something stupid. If I may add, God is not looking for perfect people, just those willing to be used by him.

Skeleton #2 – Genesis 20 It’s been 25 years since the Egypt incident. Abraham is 100 and Sarah is 90 years old. You’d think that they have matured. 2 Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. God warned Abimelech in a dream that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and he’s a dead man. 10 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What possessed you to do this?” Translated: What’s wrong with you? 11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. 12 But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.” This just gets better and better! 13 “And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your agreement that you should make with me: in every place, wherever we go, say about me, ‘He is my brother.’” So, you decided this 50 years ago and you haven’t revised it?!

Principle: Be careful of agreements that have been made out of fear and selfishness instead of prayer and faith. If I may add, a half-truth is still a full lie in the sight of God.

Skeleton #3 – Genesis 26 This time the spotlight shifts from Abraham to his son Isaac. Listen to verse 7 And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.” Like father, like son! In a moment of fear and weakness, he resorts to his dad’s tactic of claiming that his wife is his sister. One little problem here, while Abraham and Sarah were half-brother and sister, Isaac and Rebecca were not. Isaac told an out and out lie.

Principle: Whatever you do in moderation, your children will do in excess.

Application: Do you have such an unflattering past in your family history? Are there some scandalous moments in your parents and grandparents life? Take hope. Even those as prominent as Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebekah messed up. If God can use them, he can use you too.

Now let’s go a little deeper. Why did Abraham and later Isaac really do what they did? We’ll have to play the detective here and look for the real motive behind the crime. I have a possible theory – Abraham did not lie just to save his skin. I believe that he misunderstood what God had told him in Genesis 12   1 “…Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 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.” I wonder if Abraham mistakenly thought that God intended to bring his blessing into the world only through him. I wonder if he mistakenly thought that God’s plan only involved him and not Sarah. Hence, his plan was to protect himself, not because he was a coward but because he thought that he alone was crucial in God’s plan of redemption. He was trying to stay alive so that God’s plan would not fail.

Some of ya’ll are thinking that is too much. Have you read these 3 incidents carefully? God never condemned Abraham or Isaac for their actions. For e.g. When Cain killed his brother, God cursed him from the earth. (Genesis 4:10-11) When David committed adultery and had Bathsheba’s husband murdered, it says, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (II Samuel 11:27) I can give many more examples. The point is that in each of these incidents, God actually cursed and even punished the Egyptians and the Canaanites! In the first incident, Genesis 12:17 “the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” In the second incident, Genesis 20:18 “…the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.” In the third incident, listen to Abimelech’s reaction in Genesis 26   10 “…What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” 11 So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” What’s more is that after each of these incidents, God blessed Abraham and Sarah and then Isaac and Rebecca with more than they had before they made their poor choices!

Principle: God sees the heart and he is far more gracious than we are. So should we.

Let me add: What neither Abraham nor Isaac realized until later is that in God’s sovereign plan, Sarah was just as crucial as him. This is why he kept rescuing her. By the way, Sarah misunderstood this as well. What did she do when she couldn’t provide a child for Abraham? She offered her own maidservant Hagar to her husband. We often look down on Sarah when in reality it was a tremendous sacrifice on her part. How many women would be willing to make that sacrifice for God’s plan of redemption?

Principle: In God’s plan none of us are expendable. We all have a part to play. Husbands – don’t underestimate what God has for your wife. Wives – Don’t underestimate what God can do through your husband. Parents – Your kids are not beyond hope. Kids – God is not through with your parents.

One more thing: Don’t use this as a justification for making more bad decisions. Think about the Egyptians and the Canaanites. God had called Abraham to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Because of what they did, they became a curse instead.

Principle: The ends don’t justify the means. Obedience is the only way to life.

Let me close by giving you the following suggestions in how to deal with the skeletons in your family closet:

  • Be honest. Be humble. Don’t forget where you came from. Stop bragging.
  • Don’t copy the wrong actions but accept the humanity of your parents and grandparents.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge. Only God sees the heart. Offer grace. Give them a break. You never know what they had to endure.
  • When you follow God, know that he will always work all things together for good.

I think about the genealogy of Christ in Matthew. 4 women are mentioned by name: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. The first one deceived her father-in-law into sleeping with her, the second was a Canaanite prostitute, the third was a Moabite (descendant of the incestual relationship between Lot and his daughter), and Bathsheba, married to a Hittite and then committed adultery with King David. If God can use that to bring his Son into this world, he can bring something good through any of our family.

Are you saved? Have you received God’s grace into your life?

God’s Calling Card by Pastor Abidan Shah

GOD’S CALLING CARD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

gods-calling-cardIntroduction: This is our third message in our Christmas series “BELIEVING IS SEEING.” When you believe in Jesus, He becomes real and you can see Him everywhere in Scripture, history, and our own lives. Today’s message is titled – “GOD’S CALLING CARD.”

John 1:10   He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Bridge: Many of you carry calling cards or business cards with you. They have your name, your contact information, and your capacity/stature on them. You give them out when you meet a potential client or someone you want to connect with in the future. What happens to those calling cards or business cards? It depends. If there’s a genuine connection or if they need a favor or if there’s a definite need, they keep your card. If not, they chunk it. God also has a calling card and it also has his name, his contact information, and his capacity/stature. He is constantly giving it out to every human being. Unfortunately, many people don’t see its significance and they chunk it.

Context: In this series we are examining what Jesus meant when He told His opponents “Moses wrote about Me.” The question is – how and where did Moses mention Jesus in the Old Testament? Last weekend we learned that where grace and truth come together, there Moses wrote about Jesus. What we’ll learn in this message is that when Jesus came into this world he gave his calling card with his name, position, and contact information. When you study that calling card carefully, it looks very much like the calling card Moses gave for God in the book of Exodus 33-34. The font is a little different. The information is in a different order. It has a few smudges on it because of time but it is identical!

Question: What have you done with God’s calling card? Let’s get more specific – what have you done with Jesus’ calling card? “Oh, I don’t remember getting it…” Every person in this world at some point has an encounter with God/Jesus and receives his calling card. Unfortunately, many never see any need for him in their lives and they chunk it. How about you? Someone might say, “I don’t even know what it looks like…” We will examine it today. But here’s the question – “When you find it, what will you do with it?” Are you willing to be saved?

Let’s look at what God/Jesus’ calling card looks like. We’ll begin with the calling card in the Gospel of John and then go back to the calling card Moses presented:

I. RECOGNIZE THE PATTERN OF THE CALLING CARD

Background: The pattern for God’s calling card is found in the Gospel of John chapter one. John introduces us to Jesus, not as the baby who was born in Bethlehem but as the Word who was in the beginning – 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in verse 10 he gives us the initial reaction of the world to the coming of Jesus – “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” Meaning: Even though the world was a creation of Jesus, it failed to recognize its Creator. Verse 11 “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Meaning: This was not just some innocent failure to recognize but a deliberate act of rebellion and rejection.

Listen carefully – We don’t seek after God. God seeks after us. Even when we go seeking after God, it’s because He has first come to us and given us his calling card. What does it look like?

  1. The first thing on the calling card is the NAME of Jesus.

12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Have you ever seen a calling card without a name, just a phone number or an email? So also Jesus’ calling card had His name on it – “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel (God with us), Jesus (God Saves), Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David, the Lamb of God, and the list goes on and on.

What’s next?

  1. The second thing on the calling card is the CONTACT INFORMATION of Jesus.

13 “who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Have you ever seen a calling card with no contact info? So also Jesus’ calling card had his contact info. He “dwelt among us” means “He has set up a branch in your area, where you can easily reach Him.” Have you ever try to reach a business or a service only to find out that they don’t serve your region? Jesus is in your location. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can call on Him.

  1. The third thing on the calling card is the CAPACITY/STATURE of Jesus.

14 “…and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father…” Have you ever seen a calling card that only has a person’s name and contact information but nothing else about him or his services? Listen to what was on Jesus’ calling card – “we beheld His glory.” “Glory” implies that “He is powerful.” How powerful? the glory as of the only begotten of the Father…” As powerful as God the Father himself! He can do anything and everything. What does He offer? “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” We looked at those two last weekend.

Listen to what the sales rep John the Baptist had to say about him in verse 15 “…This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” Meaning: You don’t need me anymore. The boss is here. 18 “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Meaning: This is none other than the owner Himself!

Application: What have you done with the calling card of Jesus? Have you chunked it or have you called upon him? Do you realize how much you need his services in your life? Do you realize that you cannot circumvent him? He is the Boss, the Savior.

II. COMPARE THE ORIGINAL CALLING CARD

Background: Let me begin by giving you the context in which Moses handed God’s calling card to the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus. You remember the time when Moses was on top of Mount Sinai with God and the children of Israel had intimidated Aaron into making a golden calf for them. God was furious with them and wanted to destroy them but Moses interceded for them. Even though many died, God agreed to again lead his people. But Moses needed assurance from God that He would still lead them. Listen to Exodus 33 12 Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, “Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” What Moses is asking for is God’s calling card. He is asking for God’s assurance that He will not abandon His people when they sin against him again and make him mad. God promises him in 14 “…My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Now Moses makes an unusual request in verse 18 “…Please, show me Your glory.” God agrees but warns him that he cannot see his face and live.

Now comes the moment for God’s original calling card in Exodus 34. The order may be different but all the elements on the two cards are identical:

First thing on the original calling card is the CAPACITY/STATURE of God. Exodus 34:5 “Now the LORD descended in the cloud…” That is God’s glory. It is the visible presence of how powerful and capable He is. God had to veil His glory because no one, including Moses, could see it and live.

Second thing on the original calling card is the CONTACT INFORMATION of God. Exodus 34:5 “…and stood with him there…” Just like Jesus came and “dwelt among us,” so also God came down and stood with Moses. Meaning: God set up a meeting place with the people of Israel.

Third thing on the original calling is the NAME OF GOD. Exodus 34   5 “…and proclaimed the name of the LORD. Just the way those who heard the name of Jesus and believed in Him, so also Moses and the people of Israel heard the name of Jesus – 6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” What a long and powerful name! Again, did you notice how it is full of grace and truth?!!

The point is this – How do we know Moses wrote about Jesus? Look at the calling card Jesus gave and the calling card of God that Moses gave. They are identical! They guy in the mailroom cannot walk around with calling card of the president of the company. Even the vice-president cannot walk around with the calling card of the president of the company. Only the president of the company can. Everyone else is an imposter. You have to decide if Jesus was an imposter or is He who He said He is – God come to dwell among us in all His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Invitation: The calling card is in your hand. Are you going to make the call? Or will you reject him and chunk his card in the trashcan? Who is Jesus to you? If you’ve never asked Jesus to be your Savior, today is the day. Make the call. He is waiting to come to you. If you are saved, when was the last time you called on Him? The king of kings has given you his personal calling card. What is keeping you from calling on him

The Blessing of Not Getting Even

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

THE BLESSING OF NOT GETTING EVEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofnotgettingevenIntroduction: In our series SALT AND LIGHT on the Sermon on the Mount we come to the fifth beatitude from Matthew 5. Thank you for joining us this morning and especially thank you to those who are joining us by radio. This morning’s message is titled – “THE BLESSING OF NOT GETTING EVEN.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: 7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” So far the beatitudes were primarily dealing with our personal relationship with God.

  • You are to be “poor in spirit” and have more of the Holy Spirit.
  • In times of loss and pain, trust the Holy Spirit and He will comfort you.
  • Be meek and give your problems to God and you will inherit His riches.
  • You are to hunger and thirst for His righteousness and you will be satisfied.

All of these are important but they focus primarily on our personal relationship with God. But the fifth beatitude – “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” – has to do with our relationship with people. When people take advantage of us, hurt us, mistreat us, or insult us, instead of retaliating, getting revenge, paying them back or getting even with them, we are to show mercy to them. People think that mercy is showing compassion towards those who are less fortunate and cannot do anything for you. That may be true but it’s much more than that. It is showing compassion towards those who have done something wrong to you, hurt you, and maybe even hate you.

Question: Are you a merciful person or are you a person who gets even? Are you a person who forgives and reaches out or are you a person who pays people back? Do your family members and friends say that you always get the last word and you always come on top? Let me ask you a deeper question – Have you ever accepted the mercy God through Jesus Christ? Are you saved? If not, no wonder you can’t show mercy.

This message is very important because how you show mercy is how you obtain mercy. If your life is only full of justice and only eye for an eye and only tit for tat, it’s because that’s how you are. Do you often say, “I wish I could get a break?” Then “Start giving others a break.” Let the Holy Spirit help you today. 3 Questions this morning:

I. WHAT IS MERCY? 

“Blessed are the merciful…”

Background: There is a lot of confusion over the meaning of the word “mercy.” People confuse it with so many other things. Let me explain with four scenarios:

  • First Scenario: Joe insults Mike so Mike insults Joe back. That’s JUSTICE. He has every right to do that. We do that all the time especially in our culture. We have a very tit for tat society. We like to put people back in their place. We like to have the final word. We see that even in how we joke with each other – “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it.” The problem is – We don’t just dish it back, we dash the other person! But that’s JUSTICE and we understand that very well.
  • Second Scenario: Joe insults Mike but Mike instead of insulting Joe back and getting justice, just walks away and gives it to God. That’s MEEKNESS.

(Qualifications – all this is in the context of personal relationships. When it comes to individual safety and national security, we have to defend the helpless and ourselves and even make preemptive strikes against the enemy. That’s a very different issue.)

  • Third Scenario: Joe insults Mike and Mike gives it to God but instead of just walking away and distancing himself from Joe, Mike does something else. He forgives Joe. He refuses to hold a grudge. He refuses to be bitter. He doesn’t want to carry that extra baggage in life. That’s FORGIVENESS.
  • Fourth Scenario: Joe insults Mike and Mike gives it to God and even forgives Joe but he doesn’t stop there. He puts his guard down, sets his pride aside, and reaches out to Joe. As hard as it is, he tries to see things from Joe’s perspective. He tries to be patient and kind to Joe. He tries to redeem and restore the relationship. That’s MERCY.

Mercy is forgiveness plus much more. If you want to understand it, you have to turn to the Bible – Ephesians 2 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, What is salvation? It is a gift originated in God’s love, worked out in his mercy, and offered to us by his grace. It not only forgives us but it raises us up and seats us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All we can do is receive it by faith. Listen to verse 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” We have offended God but because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God has not only forgiven us but also given us all the riches in Christ. No other religion can demonstrate mercy. It is an exclusive Christian virtue. Other religions may have justice, self-control, self-restraint, and even forgiveness. Only Christianity tries to redeem, restore, rebuild, reaffirm, reassure, and a lot of words starting with “re.”

What happens when we are touched by the mercy of God? We abdicate our right to revenge and retaliation. We relinquish our right to get even. We hand over the gavel of justice. Just like how God is towards us, we too forgive the person who has offended us but don’t stop there. We try to reach out and bring out the best in that person’s life.

Application: Have you ever received God’s mercy in your life? He worked out the plan of salvation when you were so undeserving. Unless you get saved, you cannot even begin to understand mercy. F.B. Meyer said – “It (mercy) is an exotic which Christ brought with Him from heaven.” Are you holding out mercy towards someone in your life? Are you only giving justice or forgiveness? Are you willing to go beyond?

II. HOW DO WE OBTAIN MERCY? 

“Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy”

Background: What does it mean to “Obtain Mercy?” It means having God’s forgiveness and restoration in our lives. Mercy is not just something that we need when we get saved but it’s also something we need every day after we get saved. Everyday we need God’s forgiveness towards us. Everyday we need God’s restoration in us. Why? Because we are weak. Because we cannot keep God’s standards. Because we fail so often. Of course our salvation is intact. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our eternal destiny is secure. But because of sin our relationship with the Father get’s broken. Even though we are headed to heaven, life begins to feel like hell.

How do you get mercy (forgiveness and restoration) in our lives? Some people think we need to pray for mercy. Some people think we need to ask God to forgive us for our sins. What does God have to say? “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” Meaning: If you want mercy in your life, you have to show mercy to others. If that’s not enough, in the Lord’s Prayer or Disciples’ Prayer, Jesus said it again in Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” Then he gave an amazing parable in Matthew 18 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Application: Are you known for justice? Are you known for just forgiveness? Are you known for giving people three strikes and then out? If so, then you are setting the course of your life. James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

When you show Mercy and in return have God’s Mercy in your life, your life becomes a blessing to those around you. When Jesus was in this world He often reprimanded the scribes and the Pharisees for failing to show mercy. They were not horrible people. They tried to keep God’s commandments. They even tried to witness to others. Matthew 9  10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ (Jesus was quoting Hosea 6:6) For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

What the world needs to see are people who are so full of God’s mercy that they cannot help but show mercy to others. It will call on us to reconcile with the fact that some people who have offended us may even get away with what they did to you. You will have to kiss revenge goodbye. You will have to refuse to talk bad to people’s faces and even behind their backs.

In return not only will God show you mercy but people will also show you mercy when you need it. Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Corrie ten Boom Story on Forgiving (from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive”)

Nazi Holocaust

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. “It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’ “The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue Jewish Women Holocaust 2uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.] “Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? “But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze. “‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me. “‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’ “And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

Corrie Ten Boom and Billy Graham“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. “For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’ “I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’ “And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

That’s MERCY – forgiveness that calls the person a brother or sister. The only way we can do that is if we have the love of Christ in our hearts. That’s what this fallen world needs to see. Do you have 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?

Winning With God and Men

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here.

WINNING WITH GOD AND MEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

winningwithGodandmenThis morning I’m preaching a special message from Proverbs titled: WINNING WITH GOD AND MEN. We will actually read 4 verses from 4 different books of the Bible. Hopefully you can identify the common elements.

Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.

1 Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.”

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Overall Background: All of us want to win. We especially want to see our children and grandchildren win. Won’t that be something if we could teach them how to win with both God and men (people)! Won’t that be something if both God and men looked at them with favor, with a smile of approval. Won’t that be something if both God and men took pride in them! Won’t it be awesome if they could win in this life and the one to come! Won’t that be something if they could have the blessings of God and men!

People have all kinds of false ideas on what it takes to win before God and men. Some people think it is education. That’s important but that’s not it. Some people think that it’s talent or hard work or some other quality. All those things are important but they do not ultimately help us to win with God and men – Sometimes they do just the opposite!

The answer to how we can win with God and men is given in plain sight in the Book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs was written by the wisest man who ever lived. Some people mistakenly think that Solomon wrote some of these proverbs and put the others together to teach us how to be wise like him. Not true. That may have been his second purpose but initially he wrote the first part of the book as series of letters (10 to be exact) to his son Rehoboam, teaching him how to live a successful life. In his 3rd letter, Solomon is trying to warn his son that the path to wisdom is not easy. There are several stumbling blocks on the way. Here he clarifies how he can win with God and men.

Application: All of us need to hear this message. As it stands our young people are losing terribly. I was doing a funeral in New Jersey yesterday and as I was getting ready to leave, I saw this young man (mid 30s) and the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart to talk to him and so I did. When I guided the discussion towards spiritual matters, all he could say is that he is not into the god thing. If there ends up being a reality, he may just call it God. How sad! That young man is losing with God and men. By the way, the principle is the same if we want our work and business to be successful and if we want our church to be successful.

3 things we will see in this message:

 I. TWO ESSENTIALS

Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.

Background: Mercy = “Hesed” and does not have a real equivalent in English. It could be translated “kindness” or “help to the needy.” The best you can describe it is that someone is in great need and they cannot get out with your help. You help the person not because you will get any kind of gain out of it but only out of your own heart.

Truth = “Emet” and again it is a tricky one to explain. It can refer to “faithfulness” or “being trustworthy” or “living by truth.” It’s a life lived by the truth or the Word of God – the Bible.

We can spend a long time looking at these individually but that won’t help us much. We need to understand what happens when they are brought together. Many times in the Old Testament they are brought together:

  • It’s an old time tested principle passed down from father to sons. Genesis 47:29 When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt,
  • It describes the nature of God. When Moses saw God, this is what he said – Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
  • After Rahab the Canaanite woman helped the 2 spies in Jericho, listen to what they said in Joshua 2:14 “…And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”
  • In 2 Samuel 2 we read that Saul and his 3 sons (Jonathan included) were killed by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. Then they hung their bodies on the walls of Beth Shan. Some of the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead travelled all night and got their bodies and gave them a proper funeral. We went to this site in January. When David learned the good they had done he said 6 And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing.
  • David used those two words several times to describe the ways of God – Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
  • Again Psalm 61 6 You will prolong the king’s life, His years as many generations. 7 He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
  • Again Psalm 86:15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
  • Now in Proverbs again – Proverbs 14:22 Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.
  • Again Proverbs 16:6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity;
  • Again in Proverbs 20:28 Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.
  • I can go on.

For some reason mercy and truth are mentioned side by side more times than we realize! What does Solomon say in Proverbs 3:3 onwards? “Bind them around your neck” = make them a necklace. “Write them on the tablet of your heart”= make it your identity. When God and people see you they should see these two qualities.

What is the result? 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Application: What kind of a reputation do you have? What are you teaching your children to be like? Are they full of mercy and truth?

II. TWO EXAMPLES

Twice in the Bible this is mentioned – one in the Old and one in the New.

In the Old Testament – 1 Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.”

Background: This was a rough time in the history of Israel. The priest Eli had turned a blind eye towards his sons Hophni and Phinehas who were stealing from the sacrifices and bullying the people and raping the women who were coming to the tabernacle of God. The enemies were getting stronger. There was no unity in the land. A woman named Hannah prayed for a child and promised to give him back to God. This was Samuel. He travelled the length and breadth of Israel uniting God’s people. He preached to them and admonished them. He helped lead the transition from the order of the judges to the order of the kings. He was the one who found King David. Samuel was full of mercy and truth. Remember, he had to deal with Saul!

We are living in tough times. God is looking for men and women and boys and girls who would be full of mercy and truth.

In the New Testament – Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Background: He challenged the Pharisees and the scribes of trying to act spiritual. Listen to Matthew 23 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments….14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves…23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

I can give many examples where He demonstrated it perfectly but the best one where mercy and truth came together is in the Woman caught in adultery in John 7 and 8. He said to her in verse 11 “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

What the world needs desperately is not just Mercy or Truth but both.

Application: Are you a person who has both? Are you teaching your children to have both.

III. THEY ARE A GIFT TO BE RECEIVED

Galatians 5 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

As you surrender your life to the Holy Spirit, He conforms your life more and more to the person of Jesus Christ. That’s how your bear the fruit of the Spirit.

The similar phrase is heard again in the book of Acts. Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

For e.g. When I think of someone who is selfish and untrustworthy, I think of Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He is heartless, cold, apathetic, and downright evil man.

Do you want your children to have favor with God and people? They need mercy and truth. In other words, they need kindness and faithfulness.

We want our children to be loved and appreciated by people. We like to hear that they are being admired and adored. Unfortunately, some of our ideas actually cause them to be resented. We think favor comes when they are best at everything or win a lot of trophies or be in every activity. Instead what they need are eyes, mouth, hands, feet, heart, and mind full of mercy and truth. The place to begin is by bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus?

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL CHILD

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL CHILD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

RAISING JESUS (1)This is our last message in our miniseries RAISING JESUS. This morning we will look at the childhood years of Jesus in Luke 2 to answer “WHAT MAKES A SUCCESFUL CHILD.” All of us as parents want our children to be successful. Never met a parent thus far who said – “I want my child to grow up and be a total failure.”

Luke 2 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Overall Background: The passage we just read marks the end of the information regarding the childhood years of Jesus. Have you ever wondered why the Bible doesn’t tell us more? Why are there no accounts of his interaction with his siblings, with his neighbors, and with people in His town or synagogue? Some of the Apocryphal Gospels/Gnostic Gospels have tried to fill in the blanks between age 12 and age 30 but they’re nothing but foolish myths and legends. Why did God choose to keep silent about the growing up years of Jesus? This is my guess – typically, the Bible doesn’t talk much about the childhood years of any of its characters. Once in a while we hear of a boy Joseph who had a dream of his future or a girl Miriam who watched over her baby brother Moses or a boy David who killed Goliath but those are rare instances. Why not more? Because the childhood years are transitional and preparatory years. Like a fruit on a tree that is not ripe, children are not ripe until they reach adulthood. To focus on this period as the end in itself is to miss the fruit. These are still “work in progress” years and as such very critical. What you do now with them determines their course later.

Application: May I ask you – Are you taking seriously these years in your child’s life? Are you raising them to be successful? Are you raising them in the fear of God? As a church are we doing all we can to reach children? Are we leading them to know Jesus as their Savior? Do we know Jesus as our Savior?

This morning in verse 52 we will see two major things that make a successful child.

 I. A PATIENT PARENT

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them,

Background: The temple incident in the previous verses was quite traumatic in the lives of Joseph and Mary. It was traumatic not just because Jesus was lost for three days but when they found Him, He was sitting in the midst of the leaders and discussing theology. When they confronted Him, He rebuked them saying – “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

What is a parent to do in a situation like that? Mary could have become overprotective and start hovering over Him. Instead, listen to what it says in verse 51, “but His mother kept all these things in her heart.” Meaning: Not only did she not go overboard with Him but neither did she try to label Him. She could have said about Jesus – “He is so absent-minded” or “He is such a daydreamer” or “He is just in His own world” or even “He is so selfish.” She didn’t jump to any conclusions. Mary’s strongest quality was that she pondered. She “kept all these things in her heart.”

There are powerful lessons here – sometimes parents and teachers make judgments regarding children that don’t need to be made – “He is a troublemaker” “She is going to cause a lot of grief.” Too early for that! You have no idea what that child may end up becoming. Sometimes parents and teachers tend to give up on children – “He won’t amount to much.” “She has no potential.”

Application: What are you thinking in your heart for your children? Do you have any hope for them? Do you have any vision for their lives? Do you pray for them?

Let me also add – Sometimes we’re too quick to label somebody else’s child. Sometimes we tend to think that our children are perfect. Here’s what I say – People are not telling you what your child is doing. Their child keeps getting caught but yours keeps slipping through. Their child will straighten out but yours will keep going down the wrong path.

For e.g. I remember to this day this man who got on to me at church. I was wrong but the way he did it was quite hateful. “You’re a pastor’s kid and that’s how you act?” At the time I didn’t even understand that concept. When I did, it bothered me, even to this day.

We know that Mary kept these things in her heart but how about other people? Do you think it’s possible that people talked about Jesus as a child? Matthew 18 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. 6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Almost want to say – “Whoa! Did someone touch a nerve?” You can almost hear Jesus’ anger coming through.

Application: Do you keep things in your heart for your children? Do you hope for the best for them and pray for them? Do you keep things in your heart for other children? Do you hope for the best for them and pray for them?

II. A MERCIFUL AND TRUTHFUL CHILD

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,

Background: Now we know what it means to grow in wisdom. It comes from the “fear of the Lord.” Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Then the word stature h`likia in this context means maturity. And what else happened? Jesus increased “in favor with God and men.”

This is a very interesting phrase – “in favor with God and men.” What does that mean? To understand it, we have to turn to the Book of Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Background: In Proverbs Solomon wrote 10 letters to his son Rehoboam. What we just read comes from the 3rd letter. He is telling his son how to have favor with God and people.

By the way – isn’t that what you and I want for our children? We want heaven to bless them and earth to honor them. How much more balanced can you get? God looks at them with favor and people look at them with favor.

Solomon tells Rehoboam how to have this double favor:

Let not mercy and truth forsake you;” – mercy = kindness which is actually “help to the needy” and truth = faithfulness which is actually “being trustworthy.” These two qualities stand in stark contrast to the selfishness and unfaithfulness of the wicked sons and daughter.

For e.g. When I think of someone who is selfish and untrustworthy, I think of Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He is heartless, cold, apathetic, and downright evil man.

THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING WISE AND BEING CUNNING

“Bind them around your neck” = make them a necklace. “Write them on the tablet of your heart”= make it your identity. When people see you they know who you are.

Application: What kind of a reputation do you have? Some people think that wisdom means being smart and cunning and cheating people of their last dollar. Far from that.

What is the result? 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Two other time we find this mentioned in the Bible: One is in the book of Samuel. The sons of Eli were stealing from the Lord and from the people. As the people were bringing their sacrifices to the temple, these men were taking advantage of their father’s position. Eli tried to get on to them in I Samuel 2:25 “If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.” In the very next verse it says 26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men. The boy Samuel later became an important prophet in Israel who helped unite the kingdom and institute the office of king. He also became the prophet who anointed David as king.

Do you want your children to have favor with God and people? They need mercy and truth. In other words, they need kindness and faithfulness.

The similar phrase is heard again in the book of Acts. Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The secret of our church’s success is mercy and truth.

We want our children to be loved and appreciated by people. We like to hear that they are being admired and adored. Unfortunately, some of our ideas actually cause them to be resented. We think favor comes when they are best at everything or win a lot of trophies or be in every activity. Instead what they need are eyes, mouth, hands, feet, heart, and mind full of mercy and truth. The place to begin is by teaching to have mercy and truth.

How can we have mercy and truth? The place to begin is not by trying to be merciful and truthful. It will not last. Instead, receive Jesus as your Savior. It will bring His nature into your life. Now Jesus lives through you. Whatever He is, now you are. It is natural and lasting. At times you may slip but repent and return to your first love.

So the real question is do your children know Jesus as their Savior. That will bring mercy and truth in their lives and in turn bring favor with God and men. Another important question is do you know Jesus as your Savior. This will bring mercy and truth into your life.

DARING TO CONNECT

DARING TO CONNECT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Body of ChristWe are not called to be Lone Ranger Christians. As Nicole’s dad would say, “Even the Lone Ranger had Tanto with him.”

Romans 12:4-8  4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;  7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;  8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Overall Background:  From Romans chapter 1 to Romans 12:3, Paul has been focused on the individual Christian life –

–       What does it mean for you to be saved?

–       What does it mean for you to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord?

–       What does it mean for you to be a slave of righteousness?

–       What does it mean for you to be led by the Holy Spirit?

This is very important. Unless you have this personal, vital, living relationship with Jesus Christ, nothing else will matter.

But now Paul is shifting gears. Now he begins to talk about the larger group of Christians. Now he begins to talk about our place and purpose among other Christians. Now he begins to deal with our role in the church – the body of Christ. God did not save us just so we can get our ticket to heaven. As they say – “get our fire insurance.” He has called us to interact and relate with the church.

Application: This message is easy to preach but hard to apply. Why?

–       Many people have been burnt by the church (bad experiences, conflicts, hurt feelings, control issues, ego mania, inner circles, hypocrisy, judgmental spirit). Why go to church if all it’s going to do is make you feel bad?

–       Many people have found the church to be an interruption, time-consuming, demanding, and exhausting (another item added to their already overloaded life). Why go to church and add more on your plate? Why be responsible for more?

–       Many people have found the church to be outdated, irrelevant, pointless, a relic of the past, ineffective, inefficient, powerless, answering questions that no one’s asking, and making no difference. Why go to church if there’s no difference?

Voltaire

Voltaire – French Enlightenment thinker, writer, and philosopher (1694-1778)

I titled this message “Daring to Connect” because contrary to all the things I listed, the church still matters and will remain until Jesus comes for her. Throughout history – atheists, agnostics, and those who have hated the church claimed that it was the end of the church in their generation. That French skeptic Voltaire, who lived in the 1700s was sure that within hundred years, Christianity and the church would be a relic of the past. Did you know that, after his death, his house in Geneva was purchased by the Swiss Bible Society? Did you also know that on the same printing press that Voltaire printed his anti-church literature, the Bible was printed?

In a time like this, we are called to be “Connected” with the Church – the Body of Believers.

There are 3 things that we will see in this message –

I. RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE INTERCONNECTED. 

4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,

Background: Paul uses the imagery of the human body to make a very significant point. My arm is connected to my torso. My head is connected to my neck. My ears are connected to my head and so on. We are born connected.

For e.g. How many of y’all remember having Mr. Potato Head growing up? All the parts came together but you could take them apart and then use different accessories. They still sell those.

Paul does not say that you ought to go get connected. He does not say that it will good for you if you were connected. He says – “You are connected!”

Listen again to verse 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ,

The moment we are born again, we are not only saved but we are also connected to a larger group of Christians.

What’s more? Listen again to verse 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Once again, the eyes cannot exist independently of the brain. The fingers cannot function independently of the arm. Every cell is connected to the other cell. What is cancer? Cancer is an out of control cell growth. When cells begin to divide uncontrollably and form lumps or mass of tissue called tumor. A tumor can interfere with the normal body functions. When it starts moving through the body through the blood or lymph systems and starts making new blood vessels, it has become malignant. Then if it starts invading and destroying other healthy tissues, we call that metastasis.

I am being very simplistic but the point is this – that cell is no longer “individually members of one another.” If I start despising you and try to do away with you, cancer is on the way. Don’t misunderstand – As long as we live this side of heaven, there will be conflict.

For e.g. Ever accidentally poked yourself in the eye? Ever hit your funny bone? The door jamb didn’t jump up and thump you on the funny bone. You walked into it. By the way, I don’t know why they call it funny bone. I’ve never laughed after hitting it!

There are Christians who hop from church to church. They have no intention of ever connecting with other Christians. Why? They got thumped. I call them funny bone Christians. You can’t keep running from other Christians. You are connected.

Let me add one more thing to this – when one part of you hurt, everything else hurts. Try breaking your little toe, it will give you a headache. There’s nothing you can do with a broke toe but wear it.

Application: Did you get the point? We are already interconnected. We are individually members of one another. Are you saved? I am connected to you. You are connected to me. We are individually members of one another.

II. REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE. 

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:

Background: I know I used the word “role” instead of gift. I did that because we are more familiar with that than the other. Bottom line: You have something that God has ordained for only you to do. No one else can do. I can’t do your task as well as you can. You cannot do my task as well as I can. Just as the kidneys cannot walk and the eyes cannot digest food. Don’t envy the gift that God has given somebody else. Also, make room for others to use their gifts. It’s all by His grace.

Now Paul gives us a sample list at the end of verse 6 “…if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;  7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;  8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Background: What’s the use of these gifts? Every single gift represents a ministry that Jesus did on earth.

–       It reminds us that we are cooperating with God (leading someone to Christ means you have changed their eternal destiny).

–       It fills us with great joy and purpose that we are helping others (Kindle ministry last summer)

–       It teaches us to respect and appreciate each other (the ladies helping out in the nursery are just as important as the people on the stage).

Application: What has God called you to do that you have refused to cooperate with Him? Where is the body suffering because you are not doing your part?

III. REPRESENT JESUS TO EACH OTHER.

he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Background: The word for mercy (eleeo) is found 9 times in the book of Romans. It is found most here than any other book in the NT.

What is the point? Don’t miss this – at the end of the day – show mercy to each other.

We are living in a very cruel world. They want to see Christ in us. Are you Christ do those around you?

Who does not have to be merciful? All of us.

It works when you have the Spirit of Christ in you.

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THERE'S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVEMost of our life oscillates between forgiving others and being forgiven by others. We cannot appreciate being forgiven or granting forgiveness to others unless we have experienced God’s forgiveness in our own lives. The model for forgiveness is God Himself. Even though the people of Israel sinned repeatedly against God, He forgave them—repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

Nehemiah 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….lets pick it up in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments….17 They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks,
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Overall Background:  Nehemiah 9 describes the Revival Service that took place among the Jewish people in the time of Nehemiah. These people were saved—as we would say today—but under deep conviction they were repenting for all the junk they had wrongly believed about God and done against God. This was a real revival—people confessing their sins, repenting of their sins, acknowledging God once again, and glorifying God.

Application: I was planning on skipping over Nehemiah 9 but the Holy Spirit would not let me. I could not move on to chapter 10. It was as if God was saying – “Clearview needs a revival and Nehemiah 9 is what it will take for this church to be revived. Every confession in Nehemiah 9 affirms a truth about God that we desperately need to affirm in our own generation if we want to see God work:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

This morning we come to Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

Application: Today’s message is vital for us to understand. This is a message of grace. This is a message that goes to the heart of what Christianity is all about. Other religions can counterfeit Christianity in many aspects save one – “Amazing Grace.” It is the grace of God that forgives us through Jesus Christ. It is the grace of God that enables us to forgive others.

3 Questions once again:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? THEY SAW HIS LAWS IN A NEW LIGHT

Ten CommandmentsListen to their confession in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

Background: Many times in the history of Israel, the people looked to the commandments of God as a burden. “Why do we have to keep all these rules!!?” “Other nations don’t have all these rules.” “Why can’t we be free like them!!?

For e.g. Just like kids – “why do we have to do this and that?” “Other kids don’t have all these rules.” “Their mom and dad don’t make them do all that.”

Repeatedly, the people of Israel/the Jewish people broke the laws of God.

Psalm 78:10 They did not keep the covenant of God;
They refused to walk in His law,

Isaiah 5:24b “they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

II Chronicles 36:16a But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets,

Now that these Jewish people were right with God they were seeing His commandments in a whole different light. God was not the “Big Party Pooper in the Sky.” He was not the “Cosmic Kill Joy who rains on everybody’s parade.” He was not the “Self Appointed Divine Chaperone who cannot stand people having fun.” God had actually done them a favor by giving them His laws. In fact, notice the way they describe the laws – “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven, Meaning: You didn’t bark orders from heaven. And (You – God) gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments. 14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,
Meaning: All the laws and commandments were for their benefit, especially the Sabbath – a day to rest their bodies, restore their priorities, and refocus their spirit. It was all for their benefit.

Listen to the benefits of obeying His commandments in verse 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,
And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst,
And told them to go in to possess the land
Which You had sworn to give them.

Application: How do you view God and His commandments? Do you look at them as a burden? Do you despise them? In America, some have the attitude that we need to do away with all these Judeo-Christian values. We need to get as far away from the Ten Commandments as possible. Having come from a culture where the Judeo-Christian values (Biblical values) are not the foundation, let me tell you as clearly as possible – “The secret of America’s success are the very values that some are trying to destroy.” People are trying to reinterpret the constitution and revise the values. Values like freedom, democracy, and rights exist because of these commandments of God. Show me a country where you would like to live that doesn’t have the Bible in its past.

What is the consequence of disobeying God’s laws? Listen to verse 17a They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks (like an ox that refuses to go in the intended direction),
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
 That’s the word to America and all of us – “Reject God’s Laws and return to bondage.”

II HOW DID GOD RESPOND TO THEIR DISOBEDIENCE? WITH GRACE AND MERCY

But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Background: This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The Jewish people acknowledge a God who is unlike any god of this world. They describe Him in 5 ways:

First – God who is not hesitant but “ready to pardon.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not hem and haw but is eager to forgive. For many of us it is very hard to picture such a God. Maybe its because we grew up with a father or a mother who were hesitant in forgiving us or held out forgiveness to us.

For e.g. Please don’t think I am sacrilegious when I share this illustration. Sometime back I was visiting a family where the son was being rebellious. He had promised to straighten up but he would go right back to the same lifestyle. There was the mother who was looking at her boy with suspicion and disappointment. But the family dog just leaped up and wagged his tail and was eager to greet the boy. That is a picture of God. While the world and even the family says, “We’re not quite sure.” God says, “I am waiting to forgive you.

Second – God who does not keep a checklist but “Gracious and merciful.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not say, “Now that’s the fifth time this week that you have blown it.” This is very hard for us to understand. We love to say, “This is it.”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,


Prone to leave the God I love;


Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,


Seal it for Thy courts above.

Third – God who does not rush to punish but is “slow to anger.” Meaning: He takes His time to come and deal with us. I think about when Adam and Eve sinned against God. If you remember – God came in the cool of the day and not the very instant the crime was committed.

For e.g. One time I stole some money from my dad’s wallet. He knew it but he did not say anything. All he asked me was “Is everything okay?” He didn’t do it to be sarcastic or to intimidate me. That made more of an impact on my life than anything else. Last time I was talking to my parents, they were complementing me over all the good that the Lord was doing in my life. I told them – “I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. At the time, I did not understand all the rules you had but now looking back and having my own kids I understand. Thank You for not only making the rules but bearing with me when I broke them.

Fourth – God who is not limited in kindness but Abundant in kindness.” When you come to God, He just showers His kindness on us.

For e.g. We were at the Chick-fil-A in town and one of our boys wanted an ice cream cone. I gave him two dollars and he came back with an ice cream cone about this tall (6 inches). How did you get all that? He answered, “The manager said that she just got carried away.

Fifth – God who is not unaware of sin but He still “did not forsake them.” Some people might take all this forgiveness to mean that sin does not bother God. To the contrary, sin is horrible and it deserves God’s punishment. Nonetheless, He does not forsake His own.

Listen to verse 18 “Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,
And said, ‘This is your god
That brought you up out of Egypt,’
And worked great provocations, 19 Yet in Your manifold mercies
You did not forsake them in the wilderness.
The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day,
To lead them on the road;
Nor the pillar of fire by night,
To show them light,
And the way they should go. 20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth,
And gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness;
They lacked nothing;
Their clothes did not wear out
And their feet did not swell.

Application: You might have a God who is Holy and Righteous and Just. You might have met a God who will punish the ungodly and pour His wrath on them. But have you met this God who is Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And who does not forsake His own.”

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN

In 1959 a Pennsylvania jurist named Curtis Bok wrote a book on prison reform titled “Star Wormwood.” In this book, he relates the story told to him by Kenyon J. Scudder, first superintendent of Chino penitentiary. Two men were on a train. One was a convict coming home after a five-year prison sentence. Things had not gone well between this young man and his family. So before he left for home he wrote to his family that if they wanted him to come home, they were to place a white ribbon in the big apple tree next to the railroad track, and he would get off the train. If he didn’t see a white ribbon in the designated apple tree, he would stay on the train and seek a new life elsewhere. As the train approached the apple tree, the ex-convict told his traveling companion he couldn’t bear to look. His companion said that he would look and took his place by the window to watch for the apple tree. He saw an apple tree covered with white ribbons!

That is how God forgives us – repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

But somebody had to pay that price – Jesus Christ, who gave His life on Calvary’s tree. When you have His forgiveness, then you can forgive others.

%d bloggers like this: