Drifting Allegiance by Pastor Abidan Shah

DRIFTING ALLEGIANCE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

Drifting Allegiance

Introduction: What does it mean to drift? There are many meanings. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you know what drifting is. I can say, “Do you get my drift?” which means, “Do you understand what I am saying?” You can also drift off to sleep (as some of you will in a few minutes). There’s another kind of drifting which means “get off course or lose your way.” It happens often in the Christian life. We start out strong in the right way with all the right intentions but then we drift away for one reason or another. Today’s message titled “DRIFTING ALLEGIANCE” will help us get back on track and finish what God has begun in our lives. Here’s the message in a nutshell – “When we drift away, God doesn’t abandon us. Instead, he comes to us in grace and lovingly but firmly he steers us back.”

John 21   15So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, sonof Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, sonof Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, sonof Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

Question: Christ came to Peter because he had drifted away. Have you drifted away? Have you lost your zeal for the things of God? Have you lost your first love? Have you ever received God’s love in your heart. Are you saved?

Overall Background: The Gospel of John could have ended at chapter 20. Jesus had finished his earthly ministry. He had died on the cross. He had risen from the grave. He had revealed himself to his disciples. It was time for Jesus to ascend back to his Father and send the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to empower the disciples to share the gospel with the world. Everything that needed to be said had been said. Everything that needed to be done had been done. But, before he left, one more thing had to be done. In fact, it was one more person who had to be visited. Even though Jesus had already met him after the resurrection and proven himself to him, he knew that this person needed a one-on-one time with him. It was Simon Peter. Things were still not right with him ever since he had denied Jesus that night. You remember – he denied him 3 times and then the rooster crowed just the way Jesus had warned. Peter was still not over it. He was still plagued with guilt, shame, disappointment and self-condemnation. If you are drifting today, here are 5 things to help you return to God:

1. RESULT OF DRIFTING

John 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.”

Background:On the surface, nothing was wrong with that statement. People fish all the time and many times they return emptyhanded. But the next verse tells us that this was not an ordinary fishing trip – But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. You have to read between the lines.Jesus was not just “happened to be” hanging out by the shore. I believe that it was Jesus who made sure that every fish in the Sea of Tiberius was safe that night. The angels had to put on their snorkelers and fins and work extra hard that night! Jesus knew that Peter had lost his focus and he wanted him to remember what he had taught them back in John 15:5 “without Me you can do nothing.” You may still go about your daily activities but you are no longer empowered by God. No matter how much profit you make or achievements you have, you still feel empty.In fact, listen to verse Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”

Application:Is that you today? You’ve lost your focus. You may still be doing things but you come up empty. Your heart remains empty. A drifting life is a fruitless life.

2. RESPONSE OF THE SAVIOR

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Background:You would expect Jesus to come with anger and disappointment. Instead He came with forgiveness and grace. He did not condemn them for going fishing but helped them find fish. That is the nature of God. Just when we think we don’t deserve grace, we receive grace; just when we think we have been discarded, He comes to restore us. Just when we think that He won’t help us. He does. Someone might say, “You don’t know how bad I have been.” Listen to Romans 8   33 “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It isGod who justifies. 34Who ishe who condemns? It isChrist who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Meaning:We not only have the Holy Spirit interceding for us but we also have Jesus praying for us. Jesus, who knows our every weakness, is the one who is interceding for us.

3. RESPONSE OF THE DRIFTER 

John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put onhisouter garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. John has intentionally placed this information here for us. He wants us to learn from Peter’s example. It matters how we respond when the Savior calls us. It matters how we respond when the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts.

Application: How do you respond when God convicts your heart? Do you wait, deliberate, debate, procrastinate or do you immediately run towards him? Hosea 6:1“Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.”

4.  RESTORATION BY THE SAVIOR

What happened when they all got to the land?They saw fire of coals and fish laid on it and bread. Jesus says to them “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”Jesus not only had the breakfast prepared for them but He even asked them to bring some of the fish they had just caught and included it. He indeed “works all things together for good to those who love God.” Altogether, they had 153 fish. There is a reason for this huge catch. It was a restoration of the call that Jesus had given to them when he first called them – “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19. Now began a heart to heart conversation between Jesus and Peter. Three times Jesus asked him if he loved him. Why? To convey to him that he had lost his first love. Also, each time Jesus told him to get back to the task that he had given him of taking care of the disciples. In other words, Jesus was telling Peter that he was not through with him.

Application:There are many people here this morning for whatever reason you feel God is through with you but He is not. He is calling you back to love and to the ministry. Have you lost your first love? Are you ready to get back to serving?

5. RELAPSE OF THE DRIFTER

In verse 18 Jesus tells Peter how he would be martyred for the gospel and reminded him to “Follow him.” But listen to Peter’s response– 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”21Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, whataboutthis man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, whatis thatto you? You follow Me.” This is why Peter fell the first time. He wanted to make himself look better than others. He is still doing the same things! Old habits and sins do not die easily.

Personal Testimony: I thought for some time that I had disappointed God and that I was no longer worthy. Everything I attempted was fruitless until I met Nicole’s dad. Just a handshake showed me that he loved me. You may not see Jesus face-to-face but you can feel His love in the smiles and the handshakes in this place. That’s what Clearview is all about – “Making Christ Visible” – so that the saved will return to their love and ministry and the lost will be saved.

Have you drifted in your allegiance? Have you lost your first love? Are you doing things but coming up empty? Have you ever received His love?

The Fear-Defier by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE FEAR-DEFIER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

The Fear Defier

Introduction: I usually don’t use movies as illustrations but if there’s one that I’ll make an exception for, it is my all-time favorite, “Tombstone.” It’s based on the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona where Wyatt Earp and his two brothers along with Doc Holliday had the famous shootout with the cowboys Billy Claiborne and the Clanton and the McLaury Brothers. A few years back Nicole and I actually took a trip there. There’s a part in the movie where Wyatt Earp shoots his way out of a tough situation. The next scene shows the men cleaning their guns and Sherman McMasters (one of the good guys) asks, “Where is he (Wyatt Earp)?” and Doc Holliday replies, “Down by the creek, walking on water.” It implies that Wyatt Earp just pulled off a miracle like Jesus walking on the water. As great as that movie is, nothing is further from the truth. Sure, Wyatt Earp was bold and fearless but it takes much more than that to walk on water. There’s only one who did that. His name is Jesus. He alone is the great Fear-Defier.

Matthew 14   22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

Question: All of us have some fear or another in our lives. Some are afraid of their past. Others are afraid of their future. Some are fearful of some person in their lives. Others are fearful of those they don’t know. For some it’s the fear of rejection. For others it’s the fear of failure. The list goes on. What is your fear? What are you afraid of? Have you ever met Jesus? He’s the great fear-defier. What’s amazing is that he will not only give you peace in the midst of the storm but he’s also lead you to walk on water.

Context: Let’s begin with verse 22 “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.” In Greek it is “anagkazo,” which is literally “forced” or “urged” them to get away. Why did Jesus do that? Keep in mind that this was right after that great miracle of feeding the 5000 men plus women and children. If you remember from last week, we came up with the estimate of at least 15,000 people. Now think about it. 15,000 ÷12 = 1,250 people per disciple. Imagine if you were responsible to feed 1,250 individuals! How exhausting that would be! I can imagine some of them already asking for the breakfast menu! But I don’t think this was the main reason. The main reason was that Jesus did not want the disciples to start thinking like the unbelieving crowd. If you remember, some of them wanted to take Jesus by force and make him king. What they wanted was a walking talking cafeteria. Jesus knew the danger of that thinking and he got them out of there.

Application: At Clearview there are disciples and then there’s the crowd. The disciples roll up their sleeves; the crowds fold up their arms. The disciples ask, “What can I do?” the crowds ask, “How long will it take?” The disciples offer their time and energy; the crowds offer their doubts and demands. The disciples bring their wallets to church; the crowds leave their wallets at home. Which one are you? If you were there back then, would Jesus send you away with the disciples or with the crowd?

Now Jesus goes up on the mountain by himself to pray. 24 “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.” Confession Time: I’ve struggled with this passage. If Jesus truly cared about his disciples enough to rescue them from the crowd, then why in the world would he send them into a storm! It’s like – “Let me help you cross the street” but when you get to the other side, he turns around and pushes you into the oncoming traffic. Did Jesus not know that there would be a storm? Of course he did. He was and is God. But there’s something else. 25 “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them…” Fourth watch in the Roman time system was between 3am to 6am. The Gospel of Mark adds something here that has puzzled scholars for a long time. Mark 6:48 “…Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.” Why would he do that! To get the answer to these questions, we have to turn to geography. Luke in his gospel tells us that Jesus fed the multitude somewhere near the city of Bethsaida (Luke 9:2). Bethsaida is located on the northeastern corner of the Sea of Galilee. More than likely, it was not directly next to the city since the gospels say that it was a deserted place but Bethsaida was the closest big town. But then Mark says that after the miracle Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and go to Bethsaida. What Jesus was doing was trying to get the disciples away from the crowd but sail close to the shoreline and get back to the town of Bethsaida. John in his gospel tells us that the disciples got into the boat and decided to go towards Capernaum, which is on the northwestern corner of the Sea.

Why did they do that? I’m going to give you my opinion but it will make sense to you when you look at the whole context. The clue is found in the Gospel of Luke. Even though Luke does not record the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, he tells us something very interesting that Matthew, Mark, and John do not tell us. After sending the disciples to the boat and the multitude on their way, Jesus went to pray by himself. We think that the disciples were probably on the boat by the time Jesus started praying. Not true. Listen to Luke 9 17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them. 18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” 20   He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Now the disciples make their way to the boat. I believe that they were in stunned silence. After sailing for a few minutes someone must have spoken up – “What do you guys think? Do you really think he is who he says he is? I mean he’s talking about dying and coming back to life. He’s talking about picking up our cross and following him! He’s talking about coming in his glory and his father’s and the angels.” Then someone must have turned to Peter and asked,” Hey Peter, do you really believe that he’s the Christ of God?” Just my opinion but at that moment Peter must have said, “I don’t know what I believe. Forget Jesus. Let’s go to Capernaum.” They all decided to bail on Jesus.

What happened next? Storm came up and the boat was tossed by waves to somewhere in the middle of the sea. Now Jesus comes walking on the waves and Mark says that he “would have passed them by.” Do you blame him? I would too! In fact, I would’ve kicked up the waves a little! The disciples thought he was a ghost and began to scream out of fear. Jesus immediately called out – “It’s me. Have courage. Don’t fear.” Then Peter did something that he was known for, something impulsive. “Boys, it’s now or never.” “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” What’s the big deal about walking on the water? It’s God’s calling card:

  • Job 9:8 “He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea.”
  • Psalm 77: 9 “Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters…”
  • Habakkuk 3:15 “You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.”

Just like Jesus, Peter began to walk on the waves but then the old fear came back and he began to sink and cried out “Lord, save me!” and Jesus grabbed his hand and said “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then he got into the boat and the disciples came and worshipped him saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Listen to how Mark closes in 6   51 “…And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.”

Let me draw some applications:

  • If you are a disciple, God expects much more from you than from the crowd. The greatest need of the multitude was food but the greatest need of the disciples was faith. The end goal of the multitude was contentment but the end goal of the disciples was advancement.
  • Confession should be followed by Obedience.
  • Hardness of heart is the source of Fear.
  • When we’re faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny himself. (2 Tim. 2:13)
  • Keep your eyes on Jesus and not on the wind and the waves.

HARD HEADED PEOPLE

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HARD HEADED PEOPLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

hardheadedpeople

As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we will be looking at not just one but four passages for our message titled “HARD HEADED PEOPLE.” I know when I said that all of us thought of someone we know who is hard headed. But did you know that all of us to some extent are hard headed?

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Luke 5 4…He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking…10…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Calling of the Disciples

Map of the Calling of the Disciples around Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: We’ve come to that point in our series where Jesus actually began His ministry and He started by calling certain people to follow Him, to be His disciples. One of them was a man by the name of Simon. We know Him as Peter. We all know of Peter. People smile every time his name is mentioned – the first to jump up, speak out, brag, fall, and even repent. And boy, he was hard headed! For some reason we like Peter. Maybe its because he reminds us so much of our own self. When we think of Peter’s calling we only remember the time when Peter and his brother Andrew were by the Sea of Galilee mending their nets and Jesus called them to follow Him. It says that “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” It’s as if there were no second thoughts or hesitations, just immediate and total obedience. I’m sure we’ve heard some wonderful messages on the need to follow Jesus immediately. Only problem – did you know that there are 3 other times that Jesus called Peter?!! Apparently, one call wasn’t enough.

The point is – it took 4 different callings (at least that many are actually recorded in the gospels) before Peter left all and followed Jesus. The message is not just that we are hardheaded people. It is that God is gracious and compassionate more than we deserve. As much as we keep going back, He keeps reaching out to us, as He is right now.

Application: Is God calling you? Has He been knocking on the door of your heart? Are you saved? How many times does He have to keep coming by you?

Let the Holy Spirit open your heart as we look at the 4 callings of Peter:

CALLING #1 – SALVATION

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Background: This was no ordinary calling. This was a salvation calling. This is the first calling in the life of every Christian. Without this calling you cannot have any other calling. How do we know that this was a salvation calling? Because Jesus changed His name. Every time in the Bible God changed someone’s name, it was a reflection of something much greater – Abram became Abraham; Sarai became Sarah; Jacob became Israel; Saul became Paul. Name change implied a deep work of God in a person. It implied a change of identity. Deuteronomy 28:10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.”

Simon PeterSimon meant, “He has heard” or “God has heard.” His new name was going to be Cephas in Aramaic, which meant, “rock.” Rock in Greek was Peter.

When you become a child of God, you take on a new name and a new identity. Now you are called by the name of your Heavenly Father. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Did you also know that one day in heaven we’re all going to get new names? Revelation 2:17 “…To him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” By the way, even Jesus will have a new name – Revelation 3:12 “He who overcomes…I will write on him My new name.

Application: Has God called your name? Has He given you a new name? Are you saved?

Does this mean that Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #2 – SERVICE

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Nicole and I walked around the Sea of Galilee and saw some of the fishing boats and the nets lying on the ground. It was awesome tothink about Jesus walking by that same seashore. Simon and Andrew were not just weekend fisherman or just some common laborers. Historical evidence shows that the fishing industry around Galilee was lucrative. There were not a whole lot of places where you could find freshwater fish. These men were successful businessmen. He came by their workplace. I love workplace ministry – reaching people where they are working. Work is not sinful or evil. It is good.

Galilee Fishing Boats

Galilee Fishing Boats (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

What did He say to them? 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It was a play on words. Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the sea for they were fishers (literally) but now they will be fishers of men (literally). Jesus did not come to make them jobless. Jesus called Simon not just to stop fishing but to start fishing for men. He came to give them new meaning and purpose in their jobs. No longer would it be just fishing but now it is fishing with a whole new purpose.

Being saved does not mean immediately you have to go preach. Jesus did not tell Simon – “Join the synagogue” or “start learning biblical Hebrew.” What it does mean is that now you have a new master, a new boss. Being a Christian is not just coming to church on Sunday mornings and sitting and listening to this man talk. It is to start living our lives within new purpose which is to build God’s kingdom. It can be done through teaching Sunday school or children’s ministry or something in church but it can also extend way beyond the walls of this church. Here the Holy Spirit helps us understand our spiritual gifts and start using them.

Application: Has God shown you His purpose for your life? It will change the way you see your job. It will change the way you see the people you interact with. Just like Peter we too are called to go find people. That’s what the ministries at Clearview are all about – Kindle, CWA, Sports, and First Responders.

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #3 – SUPERNATURAL MIRACLE

Luke 4 38 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house.

Capernaum

Capernaum (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Where did this happen? In Capernaum. In fact, the synagogue is about 50 yards from Peter’s house. Nicole and I were there about three weeks ago.

VIDEO FROM CAPERNAUM 

What happened at Peter’s house? 38 “…But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. Tradition tells us that Luke was a medical doctor and he is the only one who points out that it was a “high fever.” Meaning: this was serious. What was Jesus’s response? 39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. It was a miracle!

There’s a reason why the Holy Spirit allowed this incident to be mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This miracle was not as much for Peter’s mother-in-law as it was for Peter. Jesus had already called him twice but for some reason it did not convince him enough. In short, he was hardheaded. Yeah I’m saved. Yeah He came looking for me. Yeah I have a new purpose in life. But no I am not ready to follow him completely.

There are many Christians like that. Time after time God has called their name but they are still playing it safe. There are still not ready to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Christ. For them, sometimes it requires a miracle. There’s not a single person sitting here who claims to be a Christian who cannot say that God has done a miracle in their life. You prayed for a job and God gave you a job. You prayed for a relationship and God gave you a relationship. You prayed for healing and God gave you healing. You pray for your finances and God opened the gates of heaven and sent you blessing upon blessing. You prayed for spiritual insight and God brought you close to Him. Sadly, it’s still not enough for you.

Application: Did I just describe you? What will it take for God to convince you that He is real? What will it take for God to get your attention? When will you finally acknowledge that He is real and He is powerful and He is calling you trust Him and walk with Him and give your all to Him?

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #4 – SELF REVELATION

Luke 5 1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.

Picture that in your mind – the crowd is literally all over him because they want to hear the word of God but Jesus is looking for someone. Who is he looking for? 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, (I find that very interesting that he called him “master.” He didn’t mean it. Just like we’d talk about Jesus being our Lord but we don’t mean it. By the way, yes you can have Jesus as your Savior and still not have him as your Lord.)

Peter - Big CatchLuke 5 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

What a response! –“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” He finally saw himself for who he really was – just a worthless, hell bound sinner who had been rescued by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Up until that time, he was a good guy, doing the best he can. Now, he was a sinful man saved by the grace of God.

What did Jesus say to him? Verse 10 “…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Now it was the real response.

Invitation: how many times has God been calling you? What is keeping you from responding? What will it take for God to get your attention? Have you responded to his first call to be saved?

MARKS OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

MARKS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

MARKS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH

Acts 3:1-10  1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;  3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Overall Background:  The Book of Acts could be referred to as the Book of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 we read about His coming — 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Some people have misinterpreted that verse to think that the Holy Spirit is like a wind or some mystical power or force. The first thing that you and I need to understand is that the Holy Spirit is a real person with feelings, emotions, and personality. The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as “He” or “Him” and never “it.”

The second thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit came as promised by Jesus to His disciples— John 14:16  16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth… Jesus sent Him to take His ministry to a whole new level—John 16:7-8  7 “…I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. Where Jesus in His humanity could only be with one of us at a time, the Holy Spirit can be with all of us all of the time. But the most important thing: He came to glorify Jesus Christ—John 16:14 He will glorify Me…

The whole purpose of the Holy Spirit is centered on Jesus Christ.

What happened when He came? Incredible things began to happen:

–       He transformed the previously timid and no-count disciples into fearless apostles. Acts 2:14 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice” What a transformation from the Peter who couldn’t stay awake and pray with His Master! This same Peter denied Jesus three times, to the point of cursing Him.

–       He took the ministry of Jesus to a whole new level. At the end of Peter’s sermon. Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

–       He took the previously unreliable and unfocused group of men and women and organized them into a dedicated and focused church. Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. The list goes on and on—caring for each other’s needs, meeting from house to house, praising God, having favor with all people, and more were added.

How did all this happen? Acts 2:4 gives us the secret, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” It means that they were under the full control and direction of the Holy Spirit. He was in charge, calling the shots. Not only that, but He brought with Him all the resources they needed to accomplish the task that Jesus had given to them. He brought for them everything they needed to be like Jesus. In short, it was a Spirit-filled church.

In Acts 3, we come across an incident that shows us what this Spirit-filled church looks like. It was marked by three very important things. If we are going to be a Spirit-filled church, these are the very things that should mark us – Love, Hope, and Liberty.

MARK #1 – LOVE

Background: We just read about the incident where Peter and John were walking into the temple and they came across a man who was lame from his birth. Where I grew up, I saw thousands of such men, women, and children. In fact, I remember a blind man who used to sit on the bridge by the train station. I remember seeing him as a little boy and he was still there when I left as a teenager to come here. He would sing beautifully all day. If I had a quarter, I would drop it in his cup. He would climb up and down the bridge with a cane. He was just a fixture.

This was not an unusual sight for Peter and John. They had seen thousands of such people. There’s a reason why this incident is mentioned in this book. Peter and John and the rest of the church were now filled with the Holy Spirit. Their eyes had changed. They didn’t see the same way they used to see. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”

The Holy Spirit had given them Jesus eyes – eyes of compassion, mercy, and love. He was not a fixture anymore. He was a real person with real feelings, real pain, and real needs. Can you imagine the conversation between Peter and John? – “You see him.” “I’ve seen him all my life.” “It must be hard living like that.” “If Jesus were here, He would do something.” “Let’s go talk to him.”

The Holy Spirit had transformed their judgmental, critical, negative, condescending eyes into the eyes of love and compassion. The first fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22). We know that the Father is love (For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son – John 3:16); we know that Jesus is love; but did you know that the first evidence of the Spirit filled life is “Love.” Not human love where we love those who love us and love those who are lovable but love that loves those who hate us and loves those who are unlovable. Only the Holy Spirit can give us such a love.

Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Show me a person who is busy finding fault, constantly critical, constantly hateful, and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a family that is constantly at each other’s throats and I will show you a family that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a church that is constantly bickering and fussing and fighting and I will show you a church that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. They may make a lot of noise but it is nothing more than “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) But show me a church that loves Jesus, loves each other, and loves the lost and I will show you a church that is full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Does that mean there will not be any problems? Of course not! But “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (I Pet 4:8)

That’s why church is unlike any business or organization. You can run a business and not love your customers; you can run a clinic and never love your patients; but you can never work with God without love. Only love can break down all barriers and only the Holy Spirit filling a church can give that kind of love to each other and those outside.

Do you have love in your heart? The real question is “Are you filled with the Spirit?”

MARK #2 – HOPE

What is interesting is that they didn’t just love this man but they had hope for him.

Background: This man was lame from his mother’s womb. He had never walked before. He never expected to walk ever. He was hopeless. He was expecting some money so he could buy some food.

Imagine once again Peter and John talking – “What do you think he wants John?” “Same thing he’s always wanted – some money, maybe food and clothes.” “What would Jesus do for him?” “I think He would make him walk.” “Let’s go make him walk.”

4…Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

The Holy Spirit had transformed their hopeless, powerless lives into hope-filled, power-filled, radiant lives. Rom. 15:13  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit comes in all fullness, He brings hope, abounding hope.

For e.g. The year was 2005. Nicole and I had been in Henderson for 7 years. We had done our best to reach people. We had worked two jobs. We would hear things like—“No one will ever come to your church.” “You are wasting your time.” We were not immune to the “greener-grass syndrome.” It was a very discouraging time to say the least. This was also the time that God was teaching me about the life of Christ—Spirit-filled life. God began to impress upon our hearts that we are to invest our lives in this community. This was not a stepping-stone. God began to fill our hearts with hope for this 30-mile radius. It would be another 3 years before we would leave the old building and begin afresh but hope had come into our hearts. In 2008 we finally moved and began the work of tearing down the old and building the new—new constitution, new core values, new mission. 5 years later, look where we are today! That’s what hope will do for you!

Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work and I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness. You can talk about hope and you can make hope your campaign slogan but if there is no genuine hope, nothing will happen.

MARK #3 – LIBERTY

Background: Look at what happened to him – And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. No baby-steps here. He is jumping for joy!

The Holy Spirit had transformed his bondage to liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” What is Liberty? It is not liberty to sin. It is liberty from every man-made formalism, tradition, and legalism. Don’t misunderstand me – The Holy Spirit will inspire you to obey God but it will not assist you in your dead, meaningless rituals. D.L. Moody once said, “there must be a funeral in a good many churches before there is much work done, we shall have to bury the formalism so deep that it will never have any resurrection.” I’ve had some people come to me wanting to resurrect the old—“Back in our home church.” Very nicely and yet firmly, I reminded them that five years ago, we had a funeral. This is a Spirit-led church. This is a Book of Acts church. In fact, I have actually counseled people to go to other churches.

What is the benefit of having a Spirit-led, Book of Acts church? 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Excerpts from the Letter to the Kindle Ministry from Flint Hill.

The world wants to see a church doesn’t make any sense.

Application: We cannot live without the Holy Spirit. If you are leaning on anybody but the Holy Spirit this morning – not only are you miserable but also you are making that person miserable. You are expecting from them what only the Holy Spirit can do. A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will be filled with love, hope, and liberty. He will set your eyes on the crucified Jesus Christ.

EASTER MEANS YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE

EASTER MEANS YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE

John 21:1-7  1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.

Overall Background: The passage we just read is one of my most favorite passages in the Bible. It takes place after Jesus rose from the dead. He had already shown Himself to His disciples—some individually and some in a group. For all practical purposes, His work on earth was done. The only thing left for Him was to send the Holy Spirit to energize and empower the church to go out and share the good news of salvation. John could have ended his book in chapter 20 but he goes on to chapter 21 for one reason – Simon Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion.

You remember the story – on the night of the crucifixion Jesus had told His disciples that it was time for Him to give His life for them; that He had to go away for a little while and where He was going, they couldn’t come. You remember Peter’s response – “Even though the rest may fall away, I won’t. I’ll even lay down my life for you.” (Paraphrase) Mark in his gospel tells us that he was insistent that he wouldn’t betray Him.

For e.g. Like a child who insists upon going with his father. “I promise I won’t fall asleep.”

Peter weeps bitterly

We know the result. Just as Jesus had prophesied, Peter denied his Master at least three times and the rooster crowed twice. Luke tells us that right then Jesus turned and looked at Peter and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him and he went out and wept bitterly. Those were tears of shame, disappointment, guilt, failure, and self-condemnation.

Application: I believe there are many here this morning that are crying the same tears of shame, disappointment, guilt, failure, and self-condemnation. They may not be visible but they are there. You promised God that you would do better; you promised God that you would obey Him better; you promised God that you would never turn your back on Him; and then you failed. Easter means you get a second chance.

There are 4 things we find in this passage that will give you hope.

I. SELF-CONDEMNATION IS A MISERABLE LIFE.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

Background: Keep in mind—Peter knew that Jesus had risen from the dead. In fact, Jesus had already personally visited Peter. He knew his calling. Jesus had called him to be a fisher of men but he had gone back to being a fisherman. Why? Because he was living in self-condemnation. I failed Jesus. I just don’t have what it takes.

For e.g. Things are going on at church—come join us. I can’t. I can’t do my devotions right now; I can’t pray right now; I can’t sing right now; I can’t serve right now. Why? I am living in self-condemnation. We don’t say it but we think it. Self-condemnation is behind more backsliding than anything else.

The problem with self-condemnation is that it is contagious. They said to him, “We are going with you also.” 6 more disciples followed Peter. Misery loves company. Show me a person who is down on their circumstances, failures, mistakes, and I will show 6 more around him/her who are also down on their circumstances, failures, and mistakes. What’s the result? They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. Maybe they had forgotten what their Master had told them in John 15:5 “without Me you can do nothing.” A Self-condemning life is a fruitless life. Nothing seems to work out. No prospect in sight. No hope. No joy. No peace. No vision. There was a time in my life when I was in this very place. No matter what I did, it didn’t prosper.

Application: May I ask you a difficult question—Is what we are talking about sound familiar to you?

II. JESUS COMES TO US IN GRACE NOT CONDEMNATION.

But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Background: You would expect Jesus to come with anger and disappointment. Instead He comes with forgiveness and grace. He does not condemn them for going fishing but helps them find fish. That is the nature of God. Just when we think we don’t deserve grace, we receive grace; just when we think we have been discarded, He comes to restore us. Just when we think that He won’t help us. He does.

Someone might say, “You don’t know how bad I have been.” Listen to Romans 8:33-34 33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Meaning: We not only have the Holy Spirit interceding for us but we also have Jesus praying for us. Jesus, who knows our every weakness, is the one who is interceding for us.

Application: Why do we listen to the enemy? Why do we only think of negative thoughts?

III. ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD.

tissot John 21John tells Peter “It is the Lord!” and Peter puts on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunges into the sea. When the rest come to the land, they see fire of coals and fish laid on it and bread. Jesus says to them “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” How beautiful is that passage? Jesus not only had the breakfast prepared for them but He even asked them to bring some of the fish they had just caught and included it. Altogether, they had 153 fish. Peter pulled in the net and it didn’t even break.

The beauty of the Christian life is that God uses even the broken and shattered pieces of our lives to bring something good. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “God is the greatest junk dealer in the history of the universe.” He will take whatever is there and bring something good.

Application: Are you done with your broken and shattered pieces? Give them to Him.

IV. HE ONLY ASKS US TO LOVE HIM.

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord.

Background: Why did John put that in here? They knew what Jesus looked like. Was that His glorified body? If it were, the Bible would have said something about that? Why this distance? In fact, they spoke only one word to Jesus so far. “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”

They felt very unworthy. What does He want from us? We are nothing. We cannot do anything for Him but disappoint Him. He is God!

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth

Would care to know my name

Would care to feel my hurt?

Who am I, that the bright and morning star

Would choose to light the way

For my ever wondering heart? 

Not because of who I am

But because of what You’ve done

Not because of what I’ve done

But because of who You are

13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

You can imagine the disciples, especially Peter, wondering what does He want.

Do you love me more than these

Then comes the well-known conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus asks Peter – “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter replies, “Yes Lord;you know that I love you.” Then, “Feed My lambs.” “Tend My sheep.” On the third time Peter was grieved and he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Then “Feed My sheep.

Meaning: Peter – I’m not through with you. I still need you. I still have work for you. You were not supposed to follow me to the cross. I was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. I had to die. I had to fulfill the prophecies.

Application: Let me say this as clearly as possible. You and I cannot go down that path. We cannot die for our sins. We cannot earn our own salvation. All you can do is step back and see Jesus walking to the cross, being nailed to the cross, and dying on the cross for your sins. All you can do is accept His sacrifice for your sins and thank Him for walking that path for you. Have you done that?

Application: There are many people here this morning for whatever reason you feel God is through with you but He is not.

Personal Example: I thought for sometime that I had disappointed God and that I was no longer worthy. Everything I attempted was fruitless until I met Nicole’s dad. Just a handshake showed me that he loved me. You may not see Jesus face-to-face but you can feel His love in the smiles and the handshakes in this place.

Have you received His love? Do you love Him?

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