Senseless Obedience by Pastor Abidan Shah

Senseless Obedience by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Senseless Obedience

Introduction:  Would you agree that parents say some crazy things? Things like “Don’t look at me with those eyes,” “Quiet down, I can’t even hear myself think,” “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about,” “So, if everybody jumps off a bridge, will you jump too?” and my favorite – “Because I said so, that’s why.” In other words, “Obey me even if it doesn’t make sense.” That’s the premise of our message today – “Sometimes our Heavenly Father expects us to obey him even if it doesn’t make any sense.” That’s the title of our message – “SENSELESS OBEDIENCE.” It doesn’t mean Mindless Obedience. It doesn’t mean that God tells us to do things that are illegal or immoral. It means that sometimes God asks us to do things that in our earthly mind do not make sense. But, if you remember that God has the best in mind for us and that he is doing something big that may not make sense now but if we trust him and are patient, we will know one day, all we need to do at the present time is be patient, just trust and obey.

Matthew 21    1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. All four gospels record this event.

John 12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him…”

Question: The disciples obeyed Jesus even when it didn’t make any sense. Are you obedient to God even when it doesn’t make any sense? How do you obey him? Quickly, completely, joyfully? Are you saved? Obey the voice of the Holy Spirit and be saved.

Context: As you know, today is Palm Sunday. It’s the Sunday before Easter that marks the beginning of the Passion Week or the Holy Week. On this day 2000 years ago, Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He knew why he was coming into Jerusalem. He had prophesied and forewarned his disciples of the things that were about to happen. They didn’t understand. He who knew no sin was about to become sin for us. He who was perfect was about to die for our sins. As he came in, a large crowd welcomed him with palm branches. Then they laid their clothes and palm branches on the ground for him to ride in on and cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9) That word “Hosanna” comes from Psalm 118:25 where it is the combination of 2 Hebrew words – “yasha” = deliver or save and “anna” = beg. It is literally “Please save/deliver us.” They didn’t understand the depth of what they were saying! A big revolution was about to happen.

But, let’s back up a little bit and focus on the interaction between Jesus and his disciples. 1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.” I don’t know about you but I would be really concerned about this command. I would have made some excuse right about now and got out of it. Jesus even told them what to say if they were stopped – 3 “And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” Scholars have said that the word “Lord” or “kurios” in Matthew always refers to Yahweh God. We don’t know who the two were who went but they did. Maybe Judas! Either way, can you imagine the conversation among them as they walked away with that donkey. The point is that the disciples did what they were told even though it didn’t make any sense.

Application: Sometimes we also have to obey God even when it is senseless. Forgive, help, speak to, etc. In time God will show you the plan. If you wait for God to show you the plan before you obey, you will never see the plan.

What was God’s big plan in this situation? Matthew 21    4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” Where is this coming from? Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” What is the meaning of this passage? Zechariah was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah who exhorted the people to come back to God. He prophesied of the day when God would restore the beauty and grandeur of Israel. How would he come? Imagine a king riding into a town. What image will come to your mind if he came on a tank? I am the conquering hero who will crush you. Now what if he rode in in a station wagon? I am just a humble lowly citizen. So also, instead of riding in on a horse, Jesus rode in on a donkey.

Application: By the way, one day he will come riding in on a white horse with his robe dipped in blood and the armies of heaven behind him! Meet him now as he is coming in on a donkey. If not, you will face him as he rides in on a horse.

But there’s much more here. There’s a lot of symbolism here. There are several critical prophecies that are fulfilled here. To start with, Matthew mentions the Mount of Olive. For those who knew the Scriptures, this was a clear communication that someone in the line of David had come. 2 Samuel 15:30So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.” This was at the time when David was running from his own son Absalom. This is the same David who killed Goliath and thousands of Philistines and many other things. At this time, he’s a humbled king running for his life. Jesus is also a humble king but he is not running for his life.

There’s more – 2 Samuel 16    1 When David was a little past the top of the mountain, there was Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth, who met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred summer fruits, and a skin of wine. 2 And the king said to Ziba, “What do you mean to do with these?” So Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who are faint in the wilderness to drink.” Meaning: David was not coming to fight. Neither was Jesus.

There’s more. Listen to what Jacob says about his son Judah. Genesis 49    10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. 11 Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. The emphasis is on the colt of a donkey and not a mule.

One more – 1 Kings 1    38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. 39 Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound. Jesus is the real son of David.

Bottom line: When Jesus told his disciples to get the donkey, they had no clue about any of this. This has always been God’s way with his people. Senseless Obedience.

  1. Abraham and Sarah
  2. Joshua and Jericho
  3. David and Goliath
  4. Esther go before the King
  5. Mary, Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” How can this be, since I do not know a man?” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
  6. Feeding the 5000
  7. Peter making a big catch of fish
  8. Mary of Bethany pouring her expensive perfume at the feet of Jesus and wiping it with her hair
  9. Paul, go to Macedonia.

This is the same principle in our daily lives. My Dad gave up a big pulpit to go to a small church because God told him to. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have existed!

Getting saved doesn’t make any sense but we have to obey. Are you saved?

WHEN JESUS GOT INTO TROUBLE

WHEN JESUS GOT INTO TROUBLE (RAISING JESUS – 2) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

RAISING JESUS (1)

This morning we are in Luke 2 for our miniseries “RAISING JESUS.” Ever wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary to raise Jesus. On the one hand, He was the Son of God but on the other, a normal human child. This morning we will see what happened “WHEN JESUS GOT INTO TROUBLE.” Sounds wrong to the ear doesn’t it?!! Let’s see what we can learn here.

Luke 2 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it…46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions…48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

Overall Background: As a pastor, the one issue that I often face is – “Wayward Children of Christian Parents.” In other words, “Children who grew up in church but now have nothing to do with it.” I hear statements like – “We raised them in church. Not sure what happened.” “We brought them every time the church door was open but now they want nothing to do with it.” When I meet some of those young people, they avoid me or even talk rudely to me. If they are civil, they’ll say – “I remember going to church” and then make some excuse. There’s another group – parents who want children in church but not too much. They’ll say – “We don’t want to push church down their throat cause they will grow up and want nothing to do with it like so and so’s children.” “We try to balance things out – church, school, and extra-activities. Too much church is not always good.”

This message is very critical. If I could I would rather sit and let someone else read my notes. I need to hear it. Here it is in a nutshell – What you do with church in the early years of your child’s life has a lot to do with what they do with church later. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” People have tried to reinterpret this verse to fit their failures and situations but the more you study it, the more you realize that it’s meaning is exactly what it states.

Let me remind you – This message is not to pour more guilt upon you if your children are not in church. If you did the best you could, pray and trust God’s grace. This message is not to give you excuse if you are out of church. Your parents did the best they knew. You are accountable for where you are today.

Application: Let me ask you – Parents of wayward children: “Are you praying for them?” Parents of children still at home: “Are you raising your children to love church?” Here’s a more important question – “Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If you don’t, it doesn’t matter if you are in church or out of church. You’re lost. You need to get saved and then pray for your children to get saved.

This morning we will see 4 images of the Child Jesus in this passage:

I. DEDICATED CHILD 

41 “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”

Background: In the Old Testament Jewish men were commanded to go to the Temple in Jerusalem for three festivals: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. But because the Jewish people were scattered so far and wide that first century Judaism made concession that they had to go only once a year, especially Passover. Matthew tells us that Jesus’ parents made this trip to Jerusalem every year. That was dedication. They lived in Nazareth, which was 80 miles from Jerusalem. It would take 3 to 4 days, traveling 20 miles a day. If you add it up – three days there, three days back, and couple of days in Jerusalem – altogether an 8 to 10 day affair. They had to spend money and no work, so no money coming in. Also if you notice – both the parents went when women didn’t have to. This shows that they were pious and dedicated to the temple.

Because His parents were dedicated to the temple, Jesus was also dedicated to the temple. Later in His ministry when He saw the money changers and the animals in the temple, He was angry and He drove them out saying – “ ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” John adds that “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’” (John 2:17)

Your children’s dedication to church is depended on your dedication to church. Dropping them off and not participating sends them the opposite message. Let me also caution you – There’s a movement out there that believes that you don’t have to be connected to church. You can have your own church at home. In fact, they think that it is more spiritual and early church like to have your own family church. After all the church is filled with hypocrites, money hungry pastors, and worldly Christians.

How was the Temple during the time of Jesus? In an earlier message we saw that there were problems in the temple. Positions for the high priests were being bought and sold. It was more political than spiritual. Nonetheless, Joseph, Mary, and the child Jesus went to the Temple. But someone might say – “But that’s the Old Testament law. We’re under grace.” Listen to Hebrews 10 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…” God wants us to get together. As a parent, He likes to see His family together.

Application: How important is church in your family’s life? Here’s a deeper question: Is it really about church or is it your own comfort that’s getting in the way? If you don’t value church, do you think your children will? Do you contribute financially?

II. MISSING CHILD

43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.

Background: What I find fascinating is how the Boy Jesus wanted to linger at the temple. He was just hanging around. He didn’t want to leave! Can you picture that? One amazing thing about Clearview is how children and young people like to hang around. Children like to play in the gathering room or out on the playground. Young people are usually gathered by the sound system or by the office or in the parking lot. That’s a good sign!

Application: Never use the church as a threat. Never use it as a punishment. Never get the child scared about the church.

43 “…And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Can you imagine the thoughts that were running through their heads?

For e.g. Have you ever forgotten your child somewhere? We have a couple of times.

All of us at some point have made mistakes with our children. Not necessarily left them somewhere maybe but something else. The important point is – it’s not too late to go back and get them.

Application: Have you made mistakes with your children? We all have. It’s time to seek repentance, their forgiveness, and know that God’s grace will take care of it. But there’s a Deeper Lesson – Sometimes we leave Jesus at church. We feel His presence here but when we leave, we leave Him here.

III. CURIOUS CHILD 

46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

Several things worth pointing out – The Jewish Rabbis allowed a 12-year-old to sit in their midst. Some people look at children and youngWilliam Holman Hunt - The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple people as an intrusion. Many of us short-change children. Children have much more understanding of spiritual things than we think they do. Sometimes I think they’re bored with our lessons. Going deep doesn’t mean you have to use big fancy words and theological catchphrases. It means giving time and effort to teach them. One reason children grow up and never return is because what they remember was not worth returning for. Sunday school teachers: If you are opening your books Saturday night or Sunday morning for 10 minutes and expecting to capture their attention, that’s a shame. How can we make them leaders and changers if we’re boring them to death? The problem is not with them. The problem is with us. Sadly, many teachers are there by default. The most important Sunday School classes in our church are the ones for the little children and youth, and maybe then for the adults.

There’s another point here – God forbid if a wrong person begins to guide our children. I’m not just talking about abuse but wrong teaching. Man in our church who turned the hearts of young people against the pastor (my dad) and church. This was in the 70s.

Application: Parents: Do you realize the spiritual depth that is in your child? Teachers: Do you realize the seriousness of your task? Children: Do you see the importance of learning about God, Jesus, and His Word?

IV. SUBMISSIVE CHILD

48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Now just when you think Jesus had put His parents in their place and He was ready to launch out, listen to verse 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.

Jesus was “submissive” to His parents. What a beautiful sight! That should be our goal for every child.

There’s a big different between submission and suppression (You better do what I’m telling you to do. As long as you are in my house, you will live by my rules). What the child says is “I’ll live by your rules but one day when I am gone, I’ll never come back to church. Neither is submission the same as compliance. What the child says is “I really don’t care for mom and dad’s Christianity. I’m going along with it but one day when I’m on my own, I’m not going to do all this.” Finally, submission is not the same as being passive. Here the child says – “Don’t matter if you wanna go. I’ll go if you want to and I won’t if you don’t. No big deal.”

Being submissive means Jesus’ will was involved. With His will He was honoring His parents.

Our goal for our children should be submission. It means “I love God and I’m going to honor my mom and dad.”

Do you remember when Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins? He who knew no sin became sin for us. The weight of the entire human race was upon Him. The Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. He is the bridge between heaven and earth. But…there stands his mother at the foot of the cross crying. And as He is sacrificing Himself, in that moment of agony and pain, listen to what happened as mentioned in John 19  26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. WOW! How many of you would like to have a son or daughter like that?

Application: You might be a parent here today and your child has rebelled. After this message, you see your faults. It is time to call that son/daughter and ask them to forgive you. Go by and see them and humble yourself and ask them to forgive you. You might be a parent here today and your child has lost their way. After this message, stop blaming yourself and start praying for them. Go by and see them and love them and encourage them. Once again, the place to begin is with the question – “Do you know Jesus as your Savior?” “Are you doing all you can to lead your children to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?” Don’t be too sure of your kids because they are good kids. There’s a world of difference between conscience and Holy Spirit conviction. “As a church, are we doing all we can to reach children?”

RAISING JESUS – PART 1

RAISING JESUS – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

RAISING JESUS (1)We are in our series on the life of Christ from all 4 gospels and today we are in Luke 2 for our miniseries titled – “RAISING JESUS.” Ever wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary to raise Jesus! You can’t say to him “when I was your age…” because He was the “Ancient of Days.” You can’t say to him “I brought you into this world and I can take you out” because “all things were made through Him.” But let’s not forget that He was every bit a human child who had to learn obedience. There are some valuable lessons in this passage for parents and children.

Luke 2:39-40   39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Overall Background: When we think of the childhood years of Jesus, we have a somewhat romanticized and idealized picture in mind. We imagine this small quaint town of Nazareth where everybody knows your name. We can see Jesus as a little boy working in the carpentry shop with his earthly father Joseph. We see His mother Mary fetching water, cooking, andGeorges de La Tour - Joseph the Carpenter taking care of the household. It all seems so beautiful and perfect. The problem is that some of this “perfect childhood/family” imagery has come to us from paintings and movies but in reality it was anything but perfect—

  • 3 times this family had been uprooted in the past 3-4 years: first, when they had to leave Nazareth and move to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus had ordered a census; second time, when they had to flee at night to Egypt because King Herod had ordered the death of the newborn baby; then when they got news that King Herod had died, they were ready to head back to Bethlehem, but they couldn’t – Archelaus who was crazier than his father Herod was ruling over Judea. So they had to change course and come to Nazareth. If your family has been going through ups and downs lately, Jesus understands. He knows what it means to have your world turned upside down. He knows what it means to live out of boxes.
  • Moving to Nazareth was not their top choice. The people of Nazareth had not forgotten that Mary had a child out of wedlock and maybe Joseph was the daddy or maybe not. If you remember when Jesus came to teach in the synagogue in Nazareth, in Matthew 13:55 they said, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? (They did not even deem it worthy to use Joseph’s name.) Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him…58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Mark 6:6 even adds, “And He (Jesus) marveled because of their unbelief.” Keep in mind that all this was when Jesus was 30 years old. You can imagine what it was like when he was just 3 or 13. Some of you said – “Once I leave this town, I’m never coming back.” Oops! Guess what? Jesus understands. He had to come back to his hometown and face the same people.
  • Those two points are external. How about internal? Jesus was not Joseph’s son. Joseph knew that and Mary knew that. How do you think it affected their daily lives? Do you think there was ever any tension in that home? Are you in a situation where you are a step mom or stepdad or stepchild or a blended family? Guess what? Jesus understands. He came from a blended family.

Some of us have the wrong idea that because we did not grow up in a perfect family that we are scarred for life. Some of us have the wrong idea that we have to be a perfect family in order to be a godly family. Nothing could be further from the truth. What God is looking for is a family that is willing to surrender to Him, willing to obey Him, and willing to let His grace work in their lives.

Application: Are you a parent this morning? Do you need God’s grace in your family? Children – Do you want God’s hand upon your life? You say – “I don’t have children or my children are grown.” Do you care about the future of our church and our nation? Do you care about what’s happening in our world as we speak?

This morning we will see what are 3 things that every child needs:

I. STRONG CHARACTER 

40 And the Child (Jesus) grew and became strong in spirit, (Some manuscripts and translations don’t include the word “spirit” but from my studies it is original.

Background: Let’s look at the words carefully – The word for growth is “auxano,” which means physical growth. Jesus grew physically strong but the end result was not just that He was big and bad but that He became strong in spirit. He was strengthened in spirit. This is not the Holy Spirit just His own spirit. Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Every child/person is body and spirit. We can see the body the material but we can’t see the spirit the immaterial. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is the nerve center, core, heart, and command post. It involves the human personality – attitude, demeanor, character, will, and the list goes on. If I can use a battleship analogy – this is not the engine room but the bridge where the Captain and chief officers make critical decisions.

Listen carefully – the bridge in your child’s life has to be developed and developed early. It doesn’t just happen. If you don’t make an effort, their spirit will grow but in a way you will regret. There is a small window of opportunity where their spirit can be molded and once that time is past, it is next to impossible to change that spirit. Habits set in, attitudes get stuck, and behavior is determined.

What is the purpose of the sports program? The ultimate goal of all these activities is to strengthen their character. For some kids it’s sports and for others its music or arts or outdoors. You know your child’s bent. Parents – it takes time, effort, and sacrifice.

Let me caution: It’s not just to keep them occupied. It’s not to live vicariously through our children. It’s not just because the neighbors kids and the cousins kids are playing and you don’t want your children to be left out. It is to strengthen their character. It means if your child is sitting on the bench longer than someone else’s child, it’s not fair but don’t get upset. He’s learning patience. She’s learning the importance of treating others fairly. With the same token – don’t make your child play on and on and on while other children are sitting on the bench. You are teaching your child that the world revolves around them. They will take that attitude in the workplace and get fired. They will take that attitude in their marriage and get divorced.

The tragedy with kids in America is that we are either doing nothing with them or we are doing everything for them but for the wrong reasons.

Jesus grew and became strong in spirit. Do you think it came handy when he had to lead 12 men with 12 different personalities and strengths and weaknesses? Do you think it came handy He had to stand up to the scribes and the Pharisees? Do you think it came handy on the night that he was betrayed and all his disciples deserted him?

Application: What are you doing with your children that is building character in them? What are doing with your children that is strengthening their spirit? Do you pray for their spirit? Listen to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

II. WISE DECISIONS 

filled with wisdom;

Background: The word for wisdom is σοφίας. It carries with it the same concept of wisdom found in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Proverbs. If you read Matthew 6 Jesus knew about Solomon. What did Solomon say about wisdom? Listen to Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. We don’t have time to go into each of these words. Let’s just look at wisdom. It comes from the Hebrew word hokma which means masterful understanding, skill or expertise. In olden days people were skilled in art, in government, in war. In this context it’s referring to – the skill of living. There are people who are tearing up their marriages, ruining their children, destroying their relationships and jeopardizing their career because they don’t have wisdom (skill in living) or understanding (a sense of discernment).

Where does this wisdom come from? It comes through the fear of the Lord. It does not mean the “fright of God” and neither does it mean the “reverence of God.” It simply means putting God first in every situation of life. It means asking yourself – “What does God want me to do in this situation?” “How does He want me to handle this problem?”

Whose responsibility is it to teach this wisdom? Proverbs 1:8 “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother.” In the training of a child both the father and the mother are essential. But – did you notice who is the chief spokesman or the primary instructor? It is the father. In our society we have turned over this privilege and right and responsibility to the school, the government, the entertainment industry, the friends, the neighbors, and even the church. I can hear someone say – “I guess they don’t have a chance then cause we’re pretty messed up.” When you mess up what a great opportunity go to your son to your daughter and say, “I’m sorry.” What a great opportunity to teach them the value of asking forgiveness and giving forgiveness.

And don’t think your children will always listen attentively when you give them this wisdom.

For e.g. Did you hear about the teenage boy who told his parents that from today he was a man? They didn’t know what to do. They had a friend up in Alaska who told them to bring him up there. They had a MAN INITIATION CEREMONY. When they got there, they told him that he had to do two things: Skin a bear and kiss an Eskimo woman on the lips. Before they could repeat, he ran out. A day later he walks in with clothes all torn, ear bit off, and scratches all over his face. “Where’s that Eskimo woman you want me to skin?”

Application: Parents – “Are you giving your children wisdom (Skill in living) for their lives?” Children – “Are you listening do your parents?” This book is the wisdom of God. Are you reading it? Are you teaching your children to read this book? Where are they looking for wisdom?

III. GOD’S GRACE

and the grace of God was upon Him.

Background: The word for grace is χάρις which means favor and special blessing. What does that mean? It has the imagery of someone stronger coming to help someone weaker. Let me illustrate – sometime back I was with Josh and you’re going somewhere and just then we saw this car on the side of the road, smoke coming out from under the hood. Maybe some of us have been there. We said let’s go help the guy. We pulled up and asked the man if we could help. You could see the discouragement in his eyes – “I’m trying to get to the college and take my exam. I can’t miss this one.” So we gave him a ride. We didn’t have to help him. We didn’t owe him anything. It was an act of grace.

To have God’s grace upon us means God doesn’t have to do anything for us but he does it anyway. He helps us. He picks us up. He gives us the push we need. He gives us the hand up that we need. He opens doors for us. He closes some doors for us. That’s all because of His grace upon us.

Your child’s greatest need is not another program, another sport, another activity, another game, another dress, or another pair of shoes. Their greatest need is to have God’s grace upon their lives.

Here’s the formula to activate God’s grace in your child’s life – 2 Corinthians 12 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Let me ask you fundamental question: Does your son or daughter know Jesus Christ as their Savior? I didn’t ask you if you take him to church. I didn’t ask you if she is in a youth group. I’m asking you is he or she saved. Here’s a better question: are you saved? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If not, you are negating with your life on the positives you are doing for your child. Today’s the day of salvation.

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVED

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVED by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVEDEvery now and then I like to preach a message directly on salvation. Let me clarify – every message I preach has salvation as its goal. But, periodically, I like to preach a message that is focused on nothing but salvation. Such is this morning’s message from I John titled – “SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVED.”

1 John 5:11-13 11And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Overall Background: The early Christians were facing doubts about their salvation. They had lost sight of the true gospel; false teachers had come into the church and they were preaching a false gospel. John, the “Beloved Disciple”, wrote this letter to remind them of the true gospel. He wrote this letter to challenge them to examine their lives for the signs of true salvation. Listen again to 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know (not guess or speculate or wish) that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” John gives a list of 8 signs that will mark a true believer in Christ.

Salvation brings certain changes in your life.There will be a difference in your life before Christ and since Christ. It may not happen right away and it may not happen all the way but these signs will show up. They may not be seen all the time and you may not see them at the max every time. But somewhere, sometime, somehow, they will show up. But, if there are no signs and have never been any signs – you are lost.

BOTTOM LINE: NO SIGNS = NO SALVATION.

This morning each of us have to examine ourselves. Whether you prayed a prayer 50 years ago, 5 years ago, or 5 hours ago. Do you see these signs in your life? For your own sakes, I hope your answer is not “I think so” or “I hope so.” Let it be – “I know so.” If you have to keep convincing other people you are saved….you fill in the blanks.

8 signs that you are truly saved. We will move rapidly this morning.

1st SIGN – FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD THE FATHER AND HIS SON.

1 John 1:33that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 

Background: The word for “Fellowship” (koinonia) is found over 60 times in the NT. Its root meaning is “common” and “shared.” It implies sharing your life with someone. One sign that you are saved is that you begin to share the supernatural life of God and His Son. It is not just a “free ticket to heaven” or “get out of hell card.” (Deep Relationship)

For e.g. Growing up I had friends who would come over to our house. Dad would stop by the living room and speak with them. He would ask them about their families, school, sports, and things like that. He was just being nice for me. That was not fellowship.

Adoption brings a deeper relationship. Listen to Jesus in John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Again to Paul in Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Meaning:You enter into the family circle of God. You get to know the Father and the Son. You fellowship with them on a personal level.

Application: Have you had such a fellowship with God and His Son? Have you sensed Their presence in your life? Do you love Them enough to go talk to them? Do you find the hour of prayer – an hour to catch up in fellowship? How do you feel when you learn something new about God the Father and God the Son? This may not be all the time and it may not be all it can be but it’s there.

2nd SIGN – SENSITIVITY TO SIN

1 John 1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

Background: Jesus is the Light of the World and once He comes into your life, darkness has to run. Light will either dispel darkness or darkness will try to overpower light. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. This does not mean that you will never sin after salvation.

Listen to 1 John 1:8-10 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It’s not that we don’t sin anymore but we don’t walk in sin anymore. Another meaning of walk is “abide” or “dwell.” It does not bring the same joy and excitement as before.

Nicole’s dad would say, “It’s not that you become sinless, but you begin to sin less.”

Application: Are you sensitive to sin in your life? Can you feel the spiritual battle that is raging in you when you face sin? Do you feel the pain of broken fellowship with God when you sin? Do you feel the uneasiness and stress when you allow sin to come into your life? Do you know that you have a choice in rejecting sin? Do you run to Him and confess and repent of your sin?

3rd SIGN – OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD1 John 2:3-4

3Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Background: Obedience is very important mark of discipleship. Listen to Jesus in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Does that mean that Christians always obey? No.

For e.g. My children may not always obey; they may not completely obey; they may not joyfully obey, they may have stopped obeying. But, sometime, maybe when they were young, they obeyed. If they never obeyed, then they were never my children.

A Christian may partially obey, reluctantly obey, and may even refuse to obey. But a Christian cannot permanently disobey. There will be some obedience.

Application: Can you see obedience to the Word of God in your life? Do you see a desire to keep the commandments of God? Do you see a pattern (maybe irregular) in your obedience to the Bible? Is there a new love for this book? Do you read it daily? Do you look forward to hearing it preached?

4th SIGN – REJECTION OF THE WORLD SYSTEM

1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Background: The “world” here is not the beautiful creation of God; it’s not good music or good food or a beautiful painting or a beautiful architecture. “World” here is the evil system that denies God, hates God, exalts Satan, and spreads godliness. This world system does not hate religion. It makes its own religions, ideologies, philosophies, and moralities. Listen to 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Sometimes a Christian may get sucked into the world system (Lure of money, power, and even lust because of friends and career.) but he/she will not be comfortable in it. Like the Prodigal Son, they will return. By the way, the World system hates the Christian. Listen to 1 John 3:13 “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” If the world has no problem with you, you are more than likely part of it.

Application: What is your attitude towards this world system? Do you reject its false religions, ideologies, philosophies, and moralities? Do you feel at home in it? Do you constantly give into its attractions? Does the world hate you?

5th SIGN – HOPE OF THE RETURN OF CHRIST.

1 John 3:2-3 2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Background: Over 84 times the NT talks about Hope (elpis). Many times it refers to the return of Christ. Christians may disagree over how things will turn out in the end – pre-trib or mid-trib or post-trib; we may disagree over the meaning of different passages in the Book of Revelation; but, one thing is for sure, every true believer has this hope that one day Jesus will return on earth. Paul says in Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”

When the lost people look to the future, they think it is hopeless or uncertain; other times they put false hopes on things and people who will fail them. A Christian knows that there is no need to despair. One day Jesus is coming again and He will set everything right. Knowing that He is coming causes us to live holy and ready to meet Him. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure.”

For e.g. Teenager at a party wants to leave because he is afraid that he might hurt his parents.

Application: Maybe you don’t know everything about the return of Christ. That’s fine. But, do you have this hope of His return in your heart? Are you eagerly waiting for His return? Does it motivate you to live pure and holy lives?

6th SIGN – LOVE FOR OTHER CHRISTIANS.

1 John 3:14-15 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Background: Prior to getting saved, we see the church as judgmental and hypocritical. The moment we accept Christ and become part of the body of believers, God pours His love in our hearts. We realize that fellow Christians are our new family. We begin to have a certain love for fellow-believers. We realize that we are part of the Body of Christ.

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:20-26 20But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor . . . 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

I can’t understand how some people can say that they love Christ but hate the church. It’s like saying – “I love you but hate your wife and kids.”

Application: Do you love other believers? Do you honestly care about other believers? Do you try to reach out and meet their needs? Do you look forward to being with them?

7th SIGN – DISCERNMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1 John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

Background: When you receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you. Earlier in 1 John 4:2-3 he says,Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

What does the Holy Spirit do for us? 1) He convicts us of sin and encourages us to walk in truth. 2) He transforms us in the sight of God. 3) He helps us to remember the Word of God. 4) He helps us to lead a godly life by bringing out the fruits of the Spirit. 5) He gives us spiritual gifts for the edification of believers. 6) He becomes our guarantee of eternal life with God. 7) He empowers us to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ. 8) He teaches us to discern between truth and error.

Application: Do you sense the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you see the fruits of the Spirit in your life?Does He talk to you and guide you in the right path? Can you sense His guidance in your life? Can you see His discernment in your life?

8th SIGN – PRAYERS ANSWERED ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.

1 John 5:14-15 14Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Background: God answers prayers, even of unbelievers. When a pagan mother cries out to God: “O God – heal my child!” Who heals that baby? God not Satan. He alone has that power. David says in Psalm 65:2,“O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.” God is waiting for the second prayer: “God – thanks for healing my child. I want to know you.” Now God will reveal to that person the Lord Jesus.

But, for a Christian, there is much more than answered prayers. Listen again to verse 14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

He brings about His perfect will in our lives. If God just gave us what we wanted every time, we would be in a mess.”

For e.g. Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers – Thank you Garth Brooks.

Application: Do you feel that God is listening to you when you bow your head before Him? Do you have the confidence in your heart that God will give you the very best according to His will? Do you also have the assurance that sometimes He may not give you what may hurt you?

Do you see these signs in your life? Eternity is too long to be wrong. If not, receive Jesus as your Only Hope to Eternal Life and Savior from sin.

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY by Pastor Shah

Running From God  (1)

RUNNING FROM GOD – SERIES ON JONAH BY PASTOR SHAH

We are in our new series on the Book of Jonah, titled, “RUNNING FROM GOD.” There is a whole lot more to this tiny 4-chapter book than a man being swallowed by a whale. This morning we will see what happens, “WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY.”

Jonah 1:3-6  3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

Application: This morning’s message is one of those that you wish about 10 people in your life could be sitting by you listening. We all know those people who professed to be Christians, claimed to be saved, followed through in baptism, served faithfully for a while, but now they’re not here. They are running from God. They are living in disobedience. They are willfully sinning. They are living opposite of what they know is the way. You have questioned whether they are truly saved. You have questioned whether they ever understood the gospel. This morning’s message will help you understand what’s happening in their lives. Also, this morning’s message will help you understand the difference between those who are saved and running from God and those who are lost and running from God. There is a world of difference between the two.

Let me also add something very important – there are many here this morning who are saved and who are not running from God. That’s wonderful! Keep serving God. But let me caution you – don’t ever think that it won’t happen to you. All of us are “prone to wander” and “prone to leave the God I love.” Guard yourself. Be humble. We’re all just a step or two away from losing our way. But, let me remind you – Nothing can separate us from “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

5 things happen when God’s children disobey:

I. THEY THINK THEY KNOW BETTER THAN GOD.

3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Background: God called Jonah to go and preach the gospel to the people of Nineveh, the Assyrians. Instead, Jonah ran from God in the opposite direction. Reason he ran from God – because God is too gracious and too merciful. People take advantage of Him. They promise to obey Him and then once they have received His blessings, they go back to disobeying Him. God needs to change His strategy and step up His judgment.

Let me make a point here – Christians begin to backslide when they think they know better than God. The Bible is replete with such examples:

–       Adam and Eve – don’t eat the fruit of this one tree. “We want to be like you.”

–       Abram and Sarai – wait on my timing. I will give you a son. “How about the maid woman?”

–       Lot’s wife – don’t look back. “I just want to see what’s happening to my home.”

–       Moses – speak to the rock and water will come out. “No! I’m going to strike the rock.”

–       Peter – don’t follow me. This cross is not for you. “Even if they deny you, I won’t.”

How foolish we are when we think that we know better than God. Some of us need to write our own Bible and title it “The Holier Bible.” Lost people sin because that’s who they are by nature. Saved people sin because they think they know better than God. tweet this button

Application: Do you think you know better than God? That is the first step to backsliding.

II. THEY FEEL THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

3 …He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it…5 …But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

Did you notice how many times it says “down?”Why does Jonah keep going down? He is trying to get away from the Presence of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit.Anytime Christians sin, the Holy Spirit of God brings conviction on them.

Listen carefully – There is a world of difference between conviction and conscience. Everybody has a conscience, even lost people. We all know when something is wrong. Conscience says, “You shouldn’t do this,” and “You shouldn’t be here.” Conviction of the Holy Spirit is much more. He not only tells you, “You shouldn’t do this” but also tells you what you should do. He not only tells you, “You shouldn’t be here” but also adds, “Where you should be.”

For e.g. Sometime back I was on 85 behind a big truck. I saw a vehicle way back and I knew I had plenty of time to pass and get back in the right lane and I wasn’t going slow. As I turned my signal to get into the left lane, this vehicle decided to speed up. Well, I was already in the left lane now, so this guy decided to tailgate me. As I pass the truck, He gets into the right lane and passes me and cuts me off real close. My blood pressure begins to rise and my foot begins to press on the gas. Conscience told me to let it go or I may get a ticket or hurt someone but that wasn’t enough. Conviction had to step in and remind me – “what will this do to your testimony?” and “Will this please God?” That’s the Holy Spirit.

John 16:8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

 Application: When you sin, do you have a conscience or do you have a conviction? Do you hear what you should not do or do you also hear what you should do. Do you hear where you should not be or do you also hear where you should be.

III. THEY JEOPARDIZE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Background: God is proving to Jonah that he cannot run from Him. He has power over the land and the sea. The sea god was considered to be a powerful god. Once he takes a prisoner, no one can rescue them. Think of the Malaysian place – they’re still having trouble finding it. According to Canaanite myth, the false god Baal had to conquer the sea god Yam, in order to establish his throne. So also, among the Babylonian people, the false god Marduk had to conquer the sea god Tiamat before he could establish his throne. Our God can send a storm and He can calm a storm. He can control the sea creatures of the deep and He can walk on water!

But here’s the problem – It’s not just Jonah who is in trouble. The sailors are about to die as well. He endangered the lives of others because of his disobedience.

Don’t forget – Your actions affect other people. You can have your kicks but you cannot control your kickbacks. Your decisions will affect your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. It’s not generational curse but generational disobedience. What are you doing this morning that is destroying other lives?

IV. THEY DESTROY THEIR TESTIMONY.

The ship is breaking apart. The sailors are afraid; they are throwing their cargo overboard but Jonah is still asleep. What a sad testimony…He knows the truth but right now he is living in disobedience. Their captain even calls on him to pray but Jonah is still disobedient. Then they cast lots to figure out who is responsible and the lot fell on Jonah.

I think they already knew it was Jonah. Somehow they knew something was not natural about this storm. Somehow they knew that Jonah was connected to this storm. What do you think gave him away? There’s something about a child of God that is different from the world. They know you’re not one of them. You may pretend to be.

Listen to them in verse 8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” What is their response? 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?”

What a sad testimony? He could have led those sailors in trusting in the creator God. He could have taught those sailors to pray to the living God. He could have calmed their fears to rest in the powerful God. Instead, he lost his witness before them.

Application: What are you doing this morning that is driving people further from God? Do people at work or in your neighborhood know that you are a Christian? Are they shocked to find out that you go to church? Is there a look of disbelief when you invite them to some program?

 V. THEY HAVE TO FACE GOD’S DISCIPLINE.

The sailors tried to make it row harder but it did not work. It just got worse. Jonah’s solution – “Throw me into the sea.” At first, they refused but then reluctantly, they asked God to forgive them and then

15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. What do you think went through Jonah’s mind? This is the end. Oh no – this is just the beginning! 17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Background: Now begins discipline time. Some of you grew up in abusive situations that left a scar on your heart and mind forever. We are not talking about that. There is a big difference between PUNISHMENT AND DISCIPLINE.

PUNISHMENT

DISCIPLINE

GOAL – INFLICT PENALTY GOAL – PROMOTE GROWTH
FOCUS – THE PAST FOCUS – THE FUTURE
ATTITUDE – ANGER & BITTERNESS ATTITUDE – LOVE & FAITH
ACTION – TORTUROUS & LEAVES PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL SCARS. ACTION – PAINFUL BUT LEAVES NO SCARS. IT IS GIVEN CALMLY, QUICKLY, CONSISTENTLY, AND SPARINGLY.
RESULT – FEAR, GUILT, RESENTMENT, AND MORE ANGER RESULT – SECURITY, RESPECT OF AND FOR AUTHORITY

Application: Is God disciplining you? If you are His child, He won’t punish you. That’s double jeopardy. He has already punished Jesus for it. Don’t run from it. Don’t get angry about it. Don’t blame someone else for it. Recognize it, receive it, and run to Him.

Hebrews 12:7, 11  7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

When God’s Children Disobey: 1. They think they know better than God.  2. They feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 3. They jeopardize the lives of others. 4. They destroy their testimony. 5. They have to face God’s discipline.

There is one thing that still remains to be said – You have to think about this one. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. 12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you…”

If Jonah’s going overboard is going to save the people, why didn’t he just say “Adios Amigos” or “Peace Out” and do a back flip into the ocean?

He was demonstrating the gospel of grace. He was acting out what one day Jesus, the Son of God, would do. Listen to the words of Peter in Acts 2:22-24 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—  23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Invitation: You can either moan or groan over your past or let it become a testimony to God’s grace. The choice is yours.

You know what the sailors did in Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows. Meaning: They got saved.

Are you saved?

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET US FREE

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET US FREE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THERE'S ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET US FREESome people mistakenly think that getting saved will solve all their problems. All I have to do is to get Jesus in my heart and all my problems will just fly away. Such is often not the case. When people find out that their old hang-ups keep hanging on, they get discouraged, get disappointed with God, and even start doubting their Christian life.

Nehemiah 9:36-38  36 “Here we are, servants today!
And the land that You gave to our fathers,
To eat its fruit and its bounty,
Here we are, servants in it! 37 And it yields much increase to the kings
You have set over us,
Because of our sins;
Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle
At their pleasure;
And we are in great distress. 38 “And because of all this,
We make a sure covenant and write it;
Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”

Overall Background: The passage we just read is the conclusion of a 6-hour long revival service. We don’t know how the day began; we don’t know how the word got out; we don’t know exactly how many people were gathered. All we know is that a large number of Jewish people gathered together in fasting and brokenness, read from God’s Word, confessed their sins before God and revival came.

What is revival? Revival is not just a series of meetings that follow the homecoming service. Revival is not just some out of town guest speaker preaching fire and brimstone. Revival comes when God’s people see their sinfulness. They see God’s holiness. They are convicted of their sins. They repent and acknowledge that God is God and they are not. They affirm some fundamental truths about God. So far we have seen just that in Nehemiah 9. The people affirmed 6 fundamental truths about God.

This morning we come to Truth #7 – “There is Only One Who Will Set Us Free.”

Listen to verse 36 “Here we are, servants today!
(The word “servants” is actually slaves.) And the land that You gave to our fathers,
To eat its fruit and its bounty,
Here we are, servants (slaves) in it!

Application: This morning’s message is probably the most important sermon in this series for us individually, as a couple, as a family, as a church, and as a nation.

Again, 3 questions come to mind.

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? BECAUSE SIN HAD DISCOLORED THEIR VIEW OF LIFE

Background: Once again, verse 36, “Here we are, slaves today!”
Slaves??? These people were no longer slaves. King Cyrus of Persia had freed them almost 100 years ago. For a century, they were able to come back to their homelands, rebuild their lives, rebuild their temple, and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. They were not slaves.

What else? Listen to verse 37 “And it (meaning = the land) yields much increase to the kings
You have set over us.” Think about that carefully. Can the land decide if it will yield more to the king than to the Jewish people? The land is neutral. As long as you till the land, seed it, fertilize it, water it, you will get a harvest, whether you are a king or a slave. These people were getting a harvest. They were prosperous. If you remember, they gave generously to the building project. Nehemiah 7 tells us, “the heads of the fathers’ houses gave…twenty thousand gold drachmas (400 pounds of gold) besides other stuff…. And the rest of the people gave…twenty thousand gold drachmas (400 pounds of gold) besides other stuff. That’s a lot of wealth for a bunch of slaves!

Why exactly were they referring to themselves as “slaves” and feeling that they were being cheated? Read the last line of verse 37
“Because of our sins;” Meaning: Their sins were making them feel like slaves and failures. Even though they were free, even though they were successful, sin had colored their perspective on life. Even though they were God’s chosen people living in God’s promised land, they were feeling like God forsaken people in a God forsaken land. That’s what sin will do to you.

By the way, what was their sin? Their sin was not just some action or some bad thing they had done. Their sin was their refusal to acknowledge God. That’s why they were making those confessions – You Alone are God; You Alone are the Creator; You Alone can Save us; You Alone have heard our cry; You Alone can Freely Forgive; You Alone can Discipline and Deliver. Sin is not just habit or action or behavior. It is a rejection of God.

When you and I reject God, our successes feel like failures. No matter how much you have, you will always feel like you are empty. No matter how much fun you have in the day, there is a hangover waiting for you at night. No matter how much you do right, you will only remember what you have done wrong.

For e.g. We are celebrating 4th of July in America. We have so much in this nation and so much to be thankful for. Yet, we feel like we are a nation of slaves with an impending doom hanging over our heads. We are slaves to our finances, habits, passions, and lust. We are obsessed with the end of the world. Why? Because God is no longer God.

It’s the same for our individual life, marriage life, family life, and church life. Sin will override your successes in life. Sin will make a freeman or woman feel like a convict. Sin will make a prince feel like a pauper; sin will make a warrior feel like a weakling. Sin will make a victor feel like a victim. You may have everything and yet feel like you are empty. You will constantly fill yourself and yet be empty. Sin will keep you from enjoying the blessings of life.

Application: May I ask you this morning? Are you free or are you a slave? Don’t just answer that question. Think about it. Jesus said in John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Are you enjoying the blessing of being born again? Are you enjoying the blessing of being married? Are you enjoying the blessing of having children? Are you enjoying the blessing of being part of this church family?

II. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A COVENANT? TO BECOME SLAVES OF GOD RATHER THAN SLAVES OF SIN.

Background: Having identified their predicament, how did the Jewish people respond?

–       They did not try to ignore their sins. That’s what many Christians do. Just ignore your sins and justify them. Just pretend like nothing is wrong. Just be positive. Just say that everybody does it. That is superficial and temporary. That’s what Satan wants you to do.

–       They did not launch once again into repentance. They had already done that. That’s also what many Christians do. They immediately begin the process of self-autopsy. They try to dig deep to locate all their sins. That is a process of utter defeat and discouragement. Again, that’s what Satan wants you to do.

Instead, listen to verse 38 “And because of all this,
We make a sure covenant and write it;
Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.” What does that mean? They made a covenant—a binding agreement—with God. They realized that either they can sit back and let sin discolor their lives or they can fall into the hands of God. So they entered into a voluntary agreement with God to acknowledge Him, glorify Him, trust Him, and obey Him. This was no half-hearted promise to do better.

Listen to the covenant in Nehemiah 10:28-29  28 Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes: Meaning: Either they could be slaves of sin or they could be slaves of God. They made a covenant with God that they would obey Him no matter the cost. They were yielding themselves completely to Him. Sink or swim they were going to obey God.

Application: What are you doing about your sin? Are you simply trying to justify it? Do you sit and mourn and grieve over it day and night? Or Are you willing to enter into a covenant with the Living God to obey Him regardless the cost. You say – “what if I fail?” Then fail trusting Him.

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? DELIVERANCE FROM SIN COMES WHEN WE OBEY FROM THE HEART.

Many Christians are in the same predicament as those Jewish people. Sin has discolored their lives. It has dampened their enthusiasm. It has stolen their joy. It has left them in guilt and remorse. What is the answer? The Jewish people entered into a covenant with God. What are we as Christians to do? Listen to Romans 6:17 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” What does it mean to obey from the heart that form of doctrine? It means to receive Christ with no reservation and no stipulation and no conditions. It is all the way. At that very moment, the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in that person. God makes that person’s spirit a new spirit and that person’s spirit becomes one with God’s spirit. As long as this new believer is obedient to the light that God has given to him/her, the Holy Spirit has access to flow through that life, body, and environment and reproduce the life of Jesus Christ. Why? Because that person obeyed from the heart.

Now this person is going to grow in grace. Now one-by-one the Holy Spirit wants to set this person free. If that person hesitates and breaks that covenant, they are right back to being a slave of sin (not lose their salvation).

For e.g. Manley Beasley would give this illustration – if I owned 40 acres of land and I decided to sell 39 acres and keep one. You could build a house as big as 39 acres but now I own one and you have to give me right of way to my property. I can come back and make him so miserable, confuse him, ridicule him, and defeat him.

Satan does not care if we have given 39 acres to the Lord as long as he can keep 1 acre. He will let you do religious work (sing, bible study, serve) in church but beyond that you have a horrible temper and you act like the devil. The Devil has control over you. All he has to do is wait until he has you in the right place and then push the right button and you act like the Devil.

The Jewish people finally realized that it was time to go all the way.

Invitation: Are you ready to go all the way with God? Are you tired of being a slave to sin? Are you ready to go with Christ all the way?

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