When You Are Where You Don’t Want to Be by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN YOU ARE WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO BE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, HendersonWhen you are where you don't want to be

Introduction: Have you ever driven past a herd of cows grazing in a field and seen that one cow sticking its head through the fence, nibbling in the pasture next to it? Why? Is there not enough grass on its side? Is the grass any greener or tastier on the other side? Not really, but, for some reason, the cow thinks that the grass must be better on the other side. That’s where we get the expression – “The Greener Grass Syndrome.” We humans do the same thing. We say things like— “I hate it here,” “I can’t wait to get outta here,” “It was so much better back home,” or “If only I could be here or there, I would be so much happier.” Today’s message is titled – “When you are where you don’t want to be.” It’s for people who feel stuck because of job, family, finance or something else and sometimes they even blame God for their predicament. Here’s a question: Have you stopped to consider that maybe where you are is actually God’s blessing in disguise?

Psalm 137     1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. 2We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. 3For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requestedmirth, saying,“Sing us oneof the songs of Zion!” 4How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?

Question: Are you in a foreign land? Have you hung up your harp? Have you lost your song? Do you think that God has forgotten you? Are you saved?

Pray: Holy Spirit – help us to see our exiles from your perspective. Save those in sin.

Context: The psalm we just read comes from a very low point in the history of God’s people. The year was 587BC and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had for the third time attacked Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Not only did he utterly destroy Jerusalem, the Temple, the palace, the houses, the walls, and every important building but he also took the Jewish people with him 700 miles east to Babylon. They were broken, defeated, and captives in a land they had never seen. What was their response?Listen again to Psalm 137    1“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. 2We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.” Their song tells us that they had become hopeless, discouraged, apathetic, and had lost their desire to worship God. What do you do when you are where you don’t want to be? 3 things:

I. STOP BLAMING GOD.

Look again at the words of Psalm 137   3For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requestedmirth, saying,“Sing us oneof the songs of Zion!” The Babylonians were not mocking them but asking God’s people to share their worship songs with them. The people of Israel/Judah were known for their passionate worship songs to God. Listen to their response – 4“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?” Don’t misunderstand. They were not being pious or standing up for the Lord’s honor. They were actually being bitter against him. They were being sarcastic here. They were being passive aggressive. They were refusing to sing praises to God because they were mad at God.

Application: There are people here who are just as resentful and bitter against God because he didn’t do something for them. They’ve lost their song. They have no desire to praise God. In fact, they are even passive aggressive when they talk about God.

The Jewish people in exile had forgotten that it was their sins and choices that had caused them to lose their land.They had broken all God’s commandments. They had fallen into idolatry and rebellion. Their kings had practiced child sacrifices. One of them had even burnt the Word of God. Instead of turning towards God, they had turned towards Egypt for help.They had forgotten how God had given them many chances to turn but just like their brothers and sisters up North, they had become stubborn.

Application:Are you blaming God for your situation? Stop blaming and start repenting.

II. START BLOOMING WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.

What was God’s answer to his people? As these people in exile were moaning and pouting, one day two men showed up from Jerusalem with a letter from Jeremiah the prophet.Listen to Jeremiah 29    4Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:  5Build houses and dwell in them; Meaning:  Yes, I have sent you into exile because of your sins. You’re gonna be here for a while. Starting unpacking.

Application: There are many people under the sound of my voice who are still living out of boxes. They will not commit to the job/house/church that God has given them. They are always looking over the horizon to the better place. It may not be sin that has brought you here but start unpacking. God has brought you here.

“plant gardens and eat their fruit.6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.”Meaning:  Stop looking down upon the land and people around you. The land is not evil and the people are not beneath you. Stop being superficial with them. Get to know them.

Application:Are you constantly negative about your job, community, or church. Have you been keeping people at arm’s length? It’s time to change.

7 “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”“Peace” refers to the health of the society which comes from the spirit of God. It is not enough to get involved in your community events. It is more important to do something about the spiritual needs of your community. Pray for the people around you. Share Christ with them.

Application:Many people who are listening to this message might say “I’ve been here all my life. I’m not in exile.” It’s your attitude that shows that you are in exile. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourselves, bloom where God has planted you, reach out to the people around you, and share Christ with them.

By the way, stop listening to bad advice. Jeremiah 29   8For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.

Application:Stop listening to Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemiah. They will do you no good.

III. STAY FOCUSSED ON GOD’S PROMISE.

Listen to Jeremiah 29    10For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”

Application: Every trial has a lifespan. What Satan will do is that he will try to convince you that your trial will never end. He will try to fill you with fear and doubt and discouragement. Don’t listen to him.

Instead, listen to verse 11:“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Many people claim this as a life verse but they fail to consider the other things.

Was that it? 12“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13And you will seek Me and find Me,when you search for Me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.” As tough as the exile was for the people of God, it was a blessing in disguise. (Chart by J. B. Tidwell)

BEFORE EXILE AFTER EXILE
1.    The Jewish people were constantly trying to be like their neighbors 1.    The Jewish people became a separate people.
2.    They worshipped many gods. 2.    They gave up idolatry completely.
3.    They could care less about the Law. 3.    They began to study the Law.
4.    They had no interest in gathering for worship and study of the word. 4.    They established the synagogues in every town and city as a place of worship, prayer, praise, and study.
5.    Judaism was just a formal religion. 5.    Judaism became a personal religion.
6.    They could care less about winning souls. 6.    They became a missionary people to all the nations.
7.    They refused to repent of their sins. 7.    They learned the blessing of repentance.
8.    They could care less about the coming of the Messiah. 8.    God placed a longing in their heartsfor the coming of the Messiah.

 

Listen carefully: I have been through many exiles in my life. One thing I have learned – If you let God do His work in your life, your exile may be the best thing that ever happen to you. It will make you more like Christ. Do you know Christ?

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY – Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Managing Your Time WiselyTurn in your Bibles to Ecclesiastes 3 for our message titled, “HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY.” As we head back to work, school, and daily responsibilities, we hear sayings like—“time flies,” “time marches on,” “watch your time,” and my favorite – “I don’t have enough time.” These clichés are not very accurate. Time is not money. What you do with your time may or may not generate money. Time does not fly or march on. We are flying by and marching on in life. We cannot watch time. If anything, time is watching us. And, by the way – we all have the same amount of time! The CEO of a Fortune 500 company has the same time as the homeless man on the streets. The point is—we have a very poor understanding of how to manage time wisely. Thankfully, the answer is found in the Bible. This timeless book has many principles on how to manage time wisely. It is a simple message on the surface and yet it is a deeper message.

Eccl. 3:1-11 1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. 9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?  10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.  11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Overall Background: The Book of Ecclesiastes does not name its author. But several times the author refers to himself as the Son of David and the King of Jerusalem and talks about the problems of administration. Based on that we know that King Solomon wrote this book. Solomon, as you know, was the wisest man who ever lived. The main theme of this book is the question: “Is life worth living?” “Is it going anywhere?” “Are we in a hamster wheel, running but going nowhere?” Twenty nine times he uses the phrase “under the sun.” Meaning: He is asking these questions from a purely earthly perspective. In chapter three we notice that from a purely earthly perspective, it’s just a time for this and a time for that. But when you look at life from a spiritual/heavenly perspective, listen to what he says in verse 11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

This morning, if you are having trouble with time management, it could be because you are looking at time from a purely earthly perspective. You need to look at time from a spiritual perspective—from a biblical perspective. Lately, I’ve had many questions and comments about time from people of all ages, men and women. So, we will look at six principles for managing our time wisely.

I. RECOGNIZE THAT TIME IS LIMITED AND IT DOESN’T BELONG TO US.

Listen to what Moses prayed in Psalm 90:9-12  9 “For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. (Sigh…Where has time gone?) 10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away…12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Time is not only limited but also it doesn’t belong to us. James 4:14 “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

For e.g. If you don’t believe that, just talk to the parents of the little baby that was killed when a bus hit a light pole that fell on a little baby in a stroller.

Time is a gift from God to each of us. Many of us are wasting precious time on frivolous things. When we waste time, remember—we are on God’s clock. Add up the amount of time we spend watching TV or on social media. If you spend 2 hours a day on TV and an hour on social media (Not counting the time you are saying hello to friends and family), that’s 3 hours a day—21 hours a week (I’m being very conservative). Which means you spend almost one whole day on things that do not matter. From 8 am to the next day 5 pm, you have frittered away.

God wants us to “redeem the time.” (Col. 4:5) In other words, to “win back the time” or to “make the most of it.”

II. MAKE A LIST EVERYDAY AND TACKLE THE MOST DIFFICULT TASK FIRST.

Right after God created Adam and Eve, He gave them a list—Genesis 1:28-29 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Jesus believed in keeping a list. After He called His disciples, He gave them a list of things to do as they went from place to place: “preach…heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons…freely give…” (Matt. 10)

Zig Ziglar would often challenge—make a list as if you were leaving on a vacation tomorrow and start with the most difficult task first.

When we don’t have a definite plan, we do what we want to do and not what we need to do.

By the way, many people never start on the important things because they are too afraid of making mistakes. The key is excellence and not perfection.

III. PICTURE WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE IN ONE-YEAR, FIVE-YEARS, TEN-YEARS, AND SO ON.

The tragedy in America is “life without any God-given goals, purpose, and vision.” Many people are like tumbleweeds, bouncing along the dusty streets of life. Other people are driven by what Charles Hummel of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and president of Barrington College in Rhode Island called, “The Tyranny of the Urgent.”

On the night before Jesus was crucified, Jesus prayed to His Father in John 17:4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” While on the cross He made 7 cries. The sixth cry was “It is finished!” (John 19:30) There were thousands more blind who needed sight and deaf who needed to hear and hungry who needed to be fed; but the critical task of giving His life for our sins was done.

Young person – What is it that God wants you to do? Where does God want you to be in the next year or five years or ten years?

Couple – What is God’s vision for your marriage in the next year, five-years, ten-years and so on? Nicole and I often discuss what we want to look like in the next few years.

Christian – What is God’s vision for your Christian life? Where do you want to be in your Christian walk?

Clearview – In 2008 we began from the ground up and God gave us a vision for one-year, five-years, and ten-years. Believe it or not, one by one each of those things have come to pass! God is honoring His vision for us. If we can’t see it, we won’t reach it. We have to be reasonable, as Ted Engstrom’s wisely remarked: “We terribly overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in five.” Some things take time but they are coming.

IV. DON’T BE SO “TIME BOUND” THAT YOU FORGET TO SMELL THE ROSES ALONG THE WAY.

God does not want us to be so goal oriented that we loose sight of the roses along the way. What are the roses of life? The roses of life are not things but people and relationships. They include our spouse, children, family, friends, and people in general. Those children will not be little forever; our spouse will not be by our side forever.

What did God do? Right in Genesis God set the standard. Genesis 2:2-3  2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

God gave us one day to not be “time bound”—a day to rest our body, restore our relationships, and refocus on Him. He wants to enjoy the abundant life. It doesn’t have to be Sunday. For me it cannot be Sunday. It is my busiest day. We are starting a Saturday evening service to help people have the Day of Rest and Worship.

V. GIVE GOD THE BEST OF YOUR TIME AND HE WILL HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME.

What is the best time of the day? There is no substitute to starting your day with Bible reading, a good devotional book, and prayer. Even Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35) Unless you are working all night, you should begin your day with prayer. What’s the use of looking for help when you have already in the valley of the shadow of death!

It is often quoted that Martin Luther would say that  “he had so much work to do for God that he could never get it done unless he prayed three hours a day!”

A day that begins on our knees will always end in victory.

VI. MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT TIME TO RECEIVE CHRIST.

I Cor. 6:2 says, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Today is the day to receive Christ as your Savior. Not only will your sins be forgiven but you will be amazed how this decision will change your perspective on time!

God promises that He will even “restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

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