Secret Religion – Prayer

 

SECRET RELIGION – PRAYER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

secretreligion_prayerIntroduction: Today we’re in the second message in our series – “SECRET RELIGION.” Again, Jesus calls us to be the salt and light of the world but He warns us not to do it for public praise but for the praise of our Heavenly Father who sees in secret.

Matthew 6   5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Overall Background: In the passage we just read, once again, Jesus is taking the hypocrites to task. Just like in the previous passage where some people gave charity in order to be applauded by others, these people prayed in order to be admired by others. For e.g. Growing up we knew a man who made long prayers but it was all a show. He wanted people to flock around him and call him spiritual. Listen to what Jesus says – “For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.” In reality, these hypocrites were not praying to the Almighty but they were praying to their audience. What is the result? “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Meaning: some gullible people may love these prayers but God sees the heart. He knows the real intent and He refuses to answer all such prayers.

Listen carefully – Prayer is vital to our daily life. Prayer is central to our Christian life. Prayer is essential to everything that happens in this life. But, prayer that is misused and prayer that is misdirected is artificial before people and remains unanswered by God.

Question: Do you pray? Do you pray for show? Do you pretend to be more spiritual than you really are? Are your prayers going unanswered? Are you saved? Someone may say – “That’s right – God doesn’t hear the prayer of the unsaved.” Not true. Psalm 65:2 “O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.” If a homeless child says, “I’m hungry,” will I say, “No. You’re not my child?” Of course not! But there’s a big difference in what I would do for my child. If he needed my heart, I would give it to him. God answers the prayer of everyone but that doesn’t mean that everyone is a child of God. If you’re lost, the first prayer He is longing to hear from you is the sinner’s prayer.

Today, we will learn 3 things from this passage about Secret Religion and Prayer:

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUE PRAYER 

5 “And when you pray…”

Background: Again, it is important to remember that Jesus did not say “if you pray” but “when you pray.” God expects us to pray to Him daily. Prayer, by definition is a daily conversation with God. It’s a daily dialogue with God in which we ask Him and receive from Him. Prayer has been around since the beginning of time.

  • Adam and Eve prayed everyday. It was a little different than our prayer today where Adam and Eve actually saw and felt God’s presence. We’re not sure if it was the actual presence in a human form or a strong whirlwind. Either way, God talked to them. (Genesis 3:8)
  • Abraham prayed overlooking Sodom and interceded for His nephew Lot. “God, would you destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if there are 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, and 10?” (Genesis 18)

———-I don’t have time to go through every example in the Old Testament———-

  • Moses The Bible says – “the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
  • Hannah was “in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.” (I Samuel 1:10)
  • David prayed and many of his prayers are recorded in the psalms. One of the famous ones is Psalm 51, his prayer of repentance. Listen to verse 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Wow!

———-For time’s sake, let’s jump over to the New Testament————-

  • Jesus Mark 1:35 says, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary
    Cave of Eremos

    Cave of Eremos, Mount of Beatitudes (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

    place; and there He prayed.” We went up the Mount of Beatitudes to film for the video and there was a cave on the side of the hill known as “Eremos cave” which is considered the place where Jesus often prayed on the mountainside.

  • Paul

————–I can go on and on—————-

The point is this – prayer is extremely important in the Christian life.

Jonathan Edwards said, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith, as breathing is of life; and to say a man lives a life of faith, and yet lives a prayerless life, is every bit as inconsistent and incredible, as to say, that a man lives without breathing…he that lives a prayerless life, lives without God in the world.

Application: Is prayer important to you? Do you complain rather than pray? Do you make decisions and then pray or do you pray before you make any decisions?

II. THE DISTORTION OF TRUE PRAYER

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets,

Background: To understand this passage, we have to understand a little bit of the historical context. After the Jewish people had returned from their exile, they were serious about religion. So, the priests and the scribes created this elaborate ritual of prayer and liturgy. For example, the Daily Prayer was a list of petitions. Each of them opened with the statement “Blessed are You, O Lord” and ended with the statement “The whole world is full of His mercy.” All these petitions became standardized, even before the coming of Jesus, into 18 petitions known as “Shemoneh Esreh.” The first 3 expressed praise, the next 13 expressed requests (6 personal, 6 communal, and 1 that God would accept the requests), and the last 3 were thanksgiving. 3+13+3 =19. One more was added for the Jewish people of Babylon. You had to pray this prayer standing up. Hence, the daily prayer is also called “Amidah.” You had to pray facing the “Aron Kodesh,” the ark that houses the Torah scrolls. Observant Jewish people begin by taking 3 steps backwards and then 3 steps forwards. The steps backwards symbolize moving away from the material world and the steps forwards symbolize approaching the King of Kings. During the prayer there is a certain way of bowing – Baruckh Atha Adonai. Make sure to come back up when you say Adonai. Then when you say Kadosh, you have to get on your tippy toes about 3 times, with each time rising a little taller. Again, not everyone follows this. There are many variations. When it’s over, you bow to the left, then to the right, and then to the front and say – “He who makes peace in the heavens, may He make peace for us and all Israel, and let us say, Amen.” Then you had to do the same stuff after the prayer – take 3 steps backwards and 3 steps forwards.

How does this tie in with this passage? Listen again to what Jesus says, “For they love to pray standing in the synagogues…” Can you imagine Jesus watching this ritual with their tallit and tefillin and thinking, “What a show…You’ve lost the purpose of prayer. It has become a game as to who is more pious and who prays the loudest and who is more spiritual.” Then Jesus also adds, “For they love to pray…on the corners of the streets…” Jewish people were not expected to pray in the streets. What is happening here? They would be on their way to the synagogue and be running late. It was time for prayer and it must happen right now. So, they would stop in the street corner and start their Amidah. Many times they would be running late so they could stop at the street corner and put on their show. It was forbidden to interrupt praying the Amidah unless it was a safety issue or you had to go. It was forbidden to interrupt someone praying the Amidah. You can use your imagination how they would jab the listeners in their prayers – Looking at the shopkeepers – “God, we have sinned with greed!” Looking at the prostitute – “God, we have sinned with adultery.” Looking at the young people – “God, this generation is so foolish and immature and ungodly.” Jesus knew their hearts and confronted their hypocrisy. “You’ve lost the significance and seriousness of prayer. You are doing it for show. You are doing it to jab people. You have your reward. God will not answer your prayers.”

Having been to Israel twice, I’ve seen it many times. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting that they are doing it for show or jab others. But it’s not what prayer was originally intended to be. Someone asked me – “Doesn’t that just inspire you? Don’t you want to do it too?” Not really…it amuses me. Listen to Paul in Colossians 2 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Ever seen a child play with shadows? It’s not inspiring, just amusing! Colossians 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 3   1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Application: Are you pretending to be more spiritual than you really are? Are you more interested in what people think than what God thinks of you? Are you really praying to your Father in heaven when you bow your head?

III. THE RESTORATION OF TRUE PRAYER 

6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Background: Now, don’t misunderstand. Jesus was not saying, “Don’t pray in public.” In He prayed in public many times. What He was saying is – “Before you pray in public, make sure you’ve prayed in private.” Public prayer is like the edifice, the visible part of a building, and private prayer is the foundation. You don’t start building an edifice before you have dug the foundation. Before you can jab the rich man for bring greedy or the prostitute for being lewd or the young soldier for being violent or the person who did something wrong to you, have you prayed for them in private?

Don’t use your public prayer to pat your pride or to settle your personal score. Instead, handle those issues in private with God. In fact, here are some questions to consider: Have you prayed for that person before you spoke about them in public? Have you prayed for the person before you tore them to pieces before others? Have you been to the secret place?

Coming up in a month we will be having a 24-hour prayer vigil. We will set up a room for prayer and you will be able to sign up a 30 min slot for prayer for yourself, your family, your children, our church, our community, our nation, and our world.

Do you believe we need it? How about starting right now? Are you saved

Secret Religion – Charity

SECRET RELIGION – CHARITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

secretreligion_charityIntroduction: This morning we begin a 3-part series through the Sermon on the Mount called “SECRET RELIGION.” Jesus calls us to be the Salt and the Light in this world but He wants us to do good secretly, covertly, privately, off the record.

Matthew 6   1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Overall Background: The passage we just read marks a shift in Jesus’ focus in the Sermon on the Mount. In this new section Jesus turns His attention towards hypocrites and their hypocrisy. In fact, 3 times He uses the term “hypocrites” to describe people who do the right thing but for the wrong reasons. They give charity, they pray, and they fast but they do it for show. Jesus warns His listeners that although they need to do those things, they better do them with the right motives. What happens to people who serve God for popularity? 3 times we hear the phrase – “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” In other words, God will reward people for their good deeds but not if they’ve already earned their rewards through self-adulation or public praise. If you go around patting your back or looking for praise, you have your reward. God has nothing for you.

Here’s the point – Jesus not only came to raise the bar of righteousness but He also came to raise the standard of evaluation. Meaning: it’s not just “what more you do for God?” but also “why do you do what more you do for God?” Listen carefully – Christian life is more than a bigger checklist. It’s also a deeper heart check.

Question: Why do you serve God? Why do you want to help people? What is your motive? If you’re motives are to impress others, you are cutting into your own reward. There’s no eternal glory for you. Are you saved? If not, there are no rewards for you.

2 things we will learn about Secret Religion and Charity:

I. GOD COMMANDS US TO SHOW CHARITY.

2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed,

Background: The first thing to remember is that Jesus said “when” and not “if.” It means Jesus assumed that His listeners would practice charity. Charity/helping the poor was a very important part of Jewish social life. Listen to the following passages from the Old Testament. They are long but worth hearing, especially in our generation:

Deuteronomy 15   7 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. 9 Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. 10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, (Meaning: it’s not just the content but also the intent.) because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, “You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

If that wasn’t enough, listen to Deuteronomy 24 19 “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (That’s what Boaz did for Ruth.) 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing. Charity is not optional. It is mandatory.

Here’s more: Jesus did not lower this standard. In fact, He raised it. If you remember when the rich young ruler came to Him asking how to attain eternal life. First, Jesus questioned if he had kept all the commandments. When he replied yes, listen to what Jesus said to him in Matthew 19:21 “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But the young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.

Unfortunately, in our country, the church forgot charity and the government had to take it up. Now, people complain when they see someone with EBT cards and food stamps. We fuss when we see people waiting for the check. This wouldn’t have been a problem if that church had studied her Bible and put it to practice!

Application: What do you think about charity? How do you respond when you see those who are less fortunate? Sure – you have to be careful but how do you respond when there’s a legitimate need? Are you generous or are you stingy? Do you walk around with a tunnel vision, only caring for you and yours or do you care for others?

II. PRIDE CAUSES US TO LOSE OUR REWARDS. 

2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.

Background: Just when we think Jesus would give us some tips on how to recognize who really needs help and how to give selectively or how God promises to bless us when we give generously, He lays down a condition – “do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.” Meaning: Don’t advertise your charity for complements. God wants to acknowledge our giving. He wants to record it. He wants to reward us for being generous. But, when people say – “Yes – I want God’s blessing but I also want people’s praise.” That’s when God says – “I’m out.”

C.S. Lewis - Mere ChristianityWhy do people do that? It’s more than just a desire to be acknowledged. It is PRIDE. This week I was reading through C.S. Lewis’s classic work “Mere Christianity.” Amazingly, as I was prepping for this message, I happened to be reading his chapter titled, “The Great Sin” on Pride. I want to read a few quotes from this book. He begins with this remark – “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves…There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.” Then Lewis goes to the root of pride – “Pride is essentially competitive…Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. (Lewis explains that other sins like anger, unforgiveness, adultery, stealing are nothing like pride.) Then he says – “It is a terrible thing that the worst of all vices can smuggle itself into the very center of our religious life…The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this (pride) does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes directly from Hell.” (By the way, it’s pride that got the Devil kicked out.)

How does all this connect with this message on “Secret Religion?” Why do people blow the trumpet when they give? Because they are announcing that they are so much more generous and benevolent and charitable than the other person. Check out how much I am giving more than the last guy. Now, I know someone is bound to say – “Yeah…I know so and so rich person gives so much. It’s all pride. They just want to prove that they are so much better and wealthier than the rest of us.” Here’s what I have found, in my experience – Usually, it’s not the rich who announce how much they are giving but the “not so rich.” It’s usually those who don’t have much who constantly make it a point to talk about how unselfish they were when they saw that man on the street and they bought him a meal or that homeless woman going through the trash dump and they gave her a hug and took her to the shelter. What these people are really saying is – “I am so much better than the rich man who drove by and didn’t give anything.” Guess what – you just got bit by the Pride bug! Because you don’t know if the rich man just gave away his millions to build that homeless shelter! Pride is not based on the content of our wallets. It’s based on the condition of our hearts.

Before you run out saying – “That’s right. I don’t care about anyone’s opinion. I am not doing it for them. I don’t need their praise.” Listen to what C.S. Lewis says – “The real…diabolical Pride comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you…the Proud man…says ‘Why should I care for the applause of the rabble as if their opinion were worth anything?…All I have done has been to satisfy my own ideals…the traditions of my family…because I’m That Kind of Chap (Guy)…the devil loves ‘curing’ a small fault by giving you a great one. We must never try to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity…” WOW! Isn’t Pride deceptive?

But listen – 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; Don’t misunderstand this analogy. It does not mean that this humble charitable person is flippant and careless, just dropping money everywhere. There’s something very deep in the analogy. Once again, back to C.S. Lewis – “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort…who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap (guy) who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility; he will not be thinking about himself at all.” In other words, they are the type of person whose – “left hand does not know what their right hand is doing.”

What’s the result? 4 “…and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

There’s only one person who lived this perfectly, 100% – Jesus Christ. Listen to John 5   41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?”

Secret Religion is when you neither look for nor look down on the approval of others but you constantly look to God. Your desire is to do all things to please God.

What will happen in this world if we begin to give charity and do it for the right reasons? What will happen if we stop looking for or looking down on the approval of others but only look for the approval of God? What will happen if we start practicing “Secret Religion?” Only the Holy Spirit can create this spirit in us. Are you saved?

Unity in the Body

UNITY IN THE BODY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Closeup image of hands of businesspeople on top of each other as symbol of their partnership

This morning we will be observing Communion. Turn to I Corinthians 11 for our message titled, UNITY IN THE BODY.

1 Corinthians 11   23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Upper Room 1

Upper Room 1 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Upper Room 2

Upper Room 2 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Upper Room 3

Upper Room 3 (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: About 10 months ago, Nicole and I stood in the very place where these words were spoken. It’s known as the Cenacle, the upper room, where Jesus celebrated the last supper with His disciples. How do we know that? Because, during the early centuries of Christianity, the church on this site was the center of Christianity in Jerusalem. Tradition claims that it was also the site where Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection and where the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost. Even though the rib vaulted bay (ceiling), columns, pillars, and walls have been rebuilt many times, parts of the floor are claimed to be original. I cannot describe the feeling I had when we stood on the very ground that Jesus and the disciples possibly stood or sat on for the Last Supper.

Picture with me that night when Jesus was with His disciples in this upper room. Earlier in the evening Luke tells us in Luke 22:24 “there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” Jesus knew that and so in John 13 after the regular meal had ended Jesus began to wash the feet of His disciples. Why? To teach them what it meant to be humble. It was a demonstration of how they should be towards each other. They got it because when He revealed to them that one of them would betray Him, instead of being defensive or pointing fingers, Matthew 26:22 says, “they were exceedingly sorrowful…” and Mark 14:19 says, “they began…to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?”…“Is it I?” Meaning: They were not judging each other but themselves. Now, Jesus explained to them about the bread and the cup.

What’s the point? Before the disciples could understand the meaning of the bread and the cup, there had to be a change in attitude from pride and self-righteousness to humility, sorrow, and self-examination. A change in attitude had to come before a change in understanding. Unfortunately, by the time Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church, they were anything but that. They were pushing and shoving each other at the Lord’s Table. They were divided.

Question: How is your attitude this morning? Is there pride in your heart? Is there sorrow in your heart? Have you taken the time to think about what Jesus went through for you 2000 years ago? Have you examined yourself and asked – “Is it I?” or are you too busy judging others? Are you saved?

3 things we will see in this passage that will prepare us for Communion today and also bring unity in the body.

1. THE SOURCE OF DISUNITY 

To understand the context in which Paul wrote the words, we should begin in verse 17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, (Paul is telling them the reason for these instructions. It is to correct them.) since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

Background: What is Paul talking about? The Corinthian church was divided. Why? They had a lot of problems. You have to read the previous 10 chapters to understand that. They were filled with envy, strife, sexual immorality, idolatry, stealing, cursing, and the list goes on and one. They were living in the flesh. You cannot be united as a body of Christ and have this behavior on the side. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. In other words, it was no longer about the Lord’s Supper but their own supper. In other words, how the Corinthian Christians were acting at home is now how they were acting at church. Their personal sins were infecting the church body. What they were doing behind closed doors was now being done inside the church. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. Instead of the Communion being a time of humility, sorrow, and self-examination, they were having food fights! Who brought more food? Who brought less food? Who got in line first? As a result, some people were walking away hungry and some were walking away drunk. It was embarrassing! By the way, not much has changed, most church fights happen over food!

Here’s the point: Show me a church with a lot of problems and I will show you people living in sin. How you live Monday through Saturday will sooner or later show up Sunday mornings. “You can cover up only so long. Sooner or later it’ll come out in public.”

Application: How is Sunday worship for you? If Sunday worship is a sign of Monday living, how is Monday living? Is there trash in your life that you haven’t dealt with? Are you bringing your trash into the church body?

II. THE MEMORY OF THAT NIGHT 

Background: What is interesting to me is that Paul does not just reprimand them about their behavior at the table or give them a long lecture on the dangers of discord in church. Instead, he takes them down memory lane to that night when Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples. Listen to verse 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

That phrase – “in remembrance of Me” is very important. What Paul is saying here is that the reason you all are acting this way is because you have forgotten that night when Christ washed the feet of His disciples and when their hearts were humbled, He explained to them about the bread and the cup. You have lost sight of Christ and not just any Christ but the Christ who gave His body to be broken for us.

Again, verse 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Once again, there is that phrase – “in remembrance of Me.” You have forgotten your Master and God Jesus who allowed His blood to flow out for you.

What is the point? The antidote to disunity is a return to the night when Jesus revealed to His humble disciples the suffering that He was going to face. The reason churches are filled with pride and self-righteousness is because they have forgotten that night when Jesus was the focus and His sacrifice was the subject. Humility, great sorrow and self-examination was the only response. If there’s pride and hate in your life, bring the cross back into your memory.

Application: When was the last time you reflected on what Christ did on the cross for you? When was the last time you reflected on His death for your sins? When was the last time you told Him – “I’m not worthy of anything. It’s only by your grace that I stand.”

III. THE TIME FOR SELF-EXAMINATION

1 Corinthians 11   27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

The consequence of their personal sins was weakness, sickness, and even death. Could it be that the church in America is weak, sick, and dead is because we have lost sight of the sacrifice and death of Jesus for us.

Now, this is the crux of the matter – What do we do now? Listen to verse 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. The place to begin is to deal with sin in my own heart. What is the promise? If I do it, God won’t have to.

Application: Have you examined your life lately? This does not mean that you need to do introspection on yourself—go looking for sin. Let God expose your sin. Let God decide what is sin in your life. Then deal with it harshly.

What’s the result? It will bring unity in the body.

Are you part of the body of Christ?

The Blessing of Humility

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

THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofhumilityThis morning we are looking at the third beatitude and our message is titled “THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY.”

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

Overall Background: Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. At first glance this beatitude seems very simple to understand and easy to apply but it’s anything but that. I preached on it 13 years ago and so I pulled out my notes thinking that I could just warm up this old biscuit and serve it. I couldn’t do it. It’s not that I preached something wrong back then but I did not realize how deep it was entrenched in our system. It is listed as one among the three things that is not from God – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) It’s as if the Holy Spirit said to me – “You were digging in the right spot but you didn’t go deep enough.”

Application: Do you consider yourself a humble person? Be careful how you answer that! “Pride is so subtle. Just when you think you are humble, you get nailed!” As someone said, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” Here’s a better question – Do others consider you a humble person? Pride is the enemy’s choicest weapon against the Christian and the church. When they asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He answered, “whoever humbles himself as this little child.” Are you saved? To be saved you have to set your pride aside, admit that you are no good, and humbly receive God’s grace.

This beatitude is probably the most difficult beatitude that Jesus gave. Once again we’re going to ask 3 questions about this beatitude. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

I. WHO ARE THE MEEK?

“Blessed are the meek”

Background: Typically people run to Webster’s or some quote from a famous person to define meekness or humility. When Jesus gave this beatitude He did not have some dictionary or some Chinese philosopher in mind. Instead, He was quoting a psalm of David from the Old Testament – Psalm 37. Listen to verse 10 “For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth…” Jesus was quoting David. To understand meekness, we have to understand what David meant by it. He wrote this psalm to help the righteous deal with the wicked. He tells them to be meek. Keep in mind that this is not in the context of daily security or national defense. Remember David killed the wicked Goliath. This is in the context of daily relationships.

Who are the meek who inherit the earth according to David? If you put two verses in this psalm side by side, you get the true definition. Verse 11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth…” and verse 9 “But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.” In other words, meek are those who wait on the Lord. Typically, people think of the meek as people who walk around all hunched over saying, “I’ll go along with whatever” or “Just pretend I’m not here” or “Forgive me for living.” David’s description of the meek and the humble is a person who waits upon God when people do their thing. Instead of getting angry, frustrated, or disappointed with God, the meek let God handle their case.

It’s easy to be meek/humble when people are being nice to you. It’s a whole different story when they’re not. The perfect example is found in Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) What a complement! But do you know the context of this statement? Listen to verse 1 Then Miriam and Aaron (brother and sister) spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (They didn’t come out and say that.) 2 So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Do you think Moses didn’t know that? He must have told her – “Ignore them” but his friend God had heard it. Verse 4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” 6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” Isn’t that amazing when God speaks in your defense?!! You know why many times God doesn’t come to our aid? Because we are not meek and we take matters into our own hands.

But it doesn’t stop there. 9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron begged Moses to do something. Moses was not strutting saying, “Remember that next time. Don’t mess with me.” Instead, verse 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” How many of us would have done that? What was God’s response? 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.” You know why sometimes God doesn’t come to our aid? Because He knows we are not meek and we would love to crush our enemies instead of praying for them. Any wonder that Moses was the most humble person on earth?!!

Application: The true test of meekness comes when people mistreat us in our family, friend, work, neighborhood, and even church. Are you a meek and a humble person? True meekness and humility is a life that waits upon God and let’s God handle our battles. Do you wait upon Him? Do you trust Him to handle your case?

II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO INHERIT THE EARTH? 

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Background: We have to go back to Psalm 37 to understand it’s meaning. 5 times in this psalm that phrase “inherit the earth” is used. What is the point that David is making here? He explains it in the opening verses of the psalm – 1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. What a powerful imagery! The proud wicked seem to be cropping up and flourishing. They seem to be gaining power and prestige. They abuse and mistreat people but seem to be getting away with it. Don’t be afraid because they are like the grass in the Middle East. For the moment it appears so lush and green but once that hot desert wind known as the “hamsin” comes, it will dry up and fade away. Unlike Aaron and Miriam who were saved but acting like the proud wicked and God disciplined them, what will He do with the proud wicked? 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming… What else? 35 I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree. 36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

But what about the meek and the humble? “For they shall inherit the earth.” The key word here is “inherit.” What is an inheritance? It is something that has been passed down because of family connection. Because God is our heavenly father, Christ is our brother, and we are joint heirs with Him, everything that God has now belongs to us also. What should the meek focus on? 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Some of this inheritance will come to you in this life and some in the life to come. Don’t fret over it or be envious or waste your life wondering why they are so blessed and you’re not. Be meek and wait upon God. He will take care of you. You will “feed on His faithfulness.” You will have the “desires of your heart.” You will have “abundance of peace.” He will give you exactly what you need.

But there’s more. This inheritance is not just for you but also for your children and grandchildren. Here’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible – 25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. The blessing goes on!

Application: Do you want to inherit the earth? Do you want God’s blessing in your life? Are you waiting upon Him? Are you meek and humble in His sight?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

Keep in mind that the beatitudes build upon each other. The first one 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Remember – the kingdom of heaven is the Holy Spirit ruling your heart. When you are “poor in spirit” meaning less and less of self, you will be more and more led by the Holy Spirit. What is the second beatitude? 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. In life you will go through loss, which will bring grief and mourning. Instead of giving in and falling apart, the Holy Spirit will come alongside and comfort you. What is the result of this? You come to realize how much you cannot make it by yourself. You understand how much you need God’s help and grace in your life. You set aside your pride, your wisdom, your strength, and self-confidence and you wait more and more upon God. You don’t worry about the wicked proud but you become meek and humble. How? The Holy Spirit helps you with this. D.L. Moody, “A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility.”

In turn the world sees the difference in our spirit and attitude. J.C. Ryle said, “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines.”

Are you saved? You have to humble yourself and acknowledge that there’s nothing you can to save yourself. You need God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”

WE STAND BY GOD’S GRACE

WE STAND BY GOD’S GRACE – by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

We Stand By God's GraceLast Friday people all over America celebrated the 4th of July – our Independence Day. Many of us had delicious food with family and friends. Some of you spent time on the Lake or at the Beach. Others went to the parade or went shopping. Then in the evening we enjoyed the fireworks. All that is wonderful and we should continue to do that. At the same time, 4th of July comes each year to remind us that we as a nation stand only by God’s Grace. That’s why our national motto is “In God We Trust.” By the way, that should be our personal motto as well.

1 Chronicles 21:1   1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” 3 And Joab answered, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?” 4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem…7  And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel.

Overall Background: The incident we just read comes from the final years of King David’s life. As you may know, David was the second King of Israel. Compared to King Saul before him and his son Solomon after him, only David served God faithfully. The Bible refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart.” Nonetheless, the Bible never covers the sins of its heroes. As Alan Redpath said – “The Bible never flatters its heroes.” Twice in his life David did something that displeased God. One which most of us are familiar with is when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered and the second is this one. If you go by the consequences, this one was worst. In the incident with Bathsheba 4 of David’s sons died – the baby, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. But in this situation, 70,000 people died! For some reason, this sin was more heinous in the sight of God. It was the sin of pride.

Application: This morning, God is speaking to all of us. First, to our nation – Are we giving God the glory that He deserves or have we become prideful? Second – Are we giving God the glory in our own life or have we become prideful? Let me add something to this – the worst kind of pride is when a person refuses to receive the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross for his/her sins. Do you think you can stand on the Judgment Day without God’s Grace?

3 important lessons from this incident that remind us that we stand only by God’s grace:

I. THE DANGER IN SUCCESS

1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.

What in the world is going on here? This was a glorious period in the life of Israel. We all know how it began when David killed the Philistine giant named Goliath. All he used was a slingshot and a stone. It was clearly a testimony to the grace of God. Now it has been 55 years since that incident – David has been the king of Israel for sometime. He is much older and Israel has won victory over the enemies. Others have killed – not just one but many – giants. David even composes a beautiful psalm in II Samuel 22-232 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; 3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 4 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

On the surface it appeared that all was well. But that was just a façade. They were no longer relying upon the grace of God. They were trusting in their own strength and wisdom and God knew that. In the parallel account in 2 Samuel 24:1 it says, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” God knew that they were giving Him lip service but their hearts were far from Him. Hence, He allowed Satan to take advantage of the situation and tempt David to do what was already in his heart – Number Israel. In His pride – David wanted to see how far he had come.

National census was not wrong – God had laid out some rules for it in Exodus 30. It was done to bring in annual money into the temple. David’s reason for the census was to see how big his army was. Let me also clarify – it wasn’t wrong to measure the strength of the army because in Numbers 1 and 26, they had done that too but David’s motive for the census was ultimately pride. Listen to verse 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” 3 And Joab (not a godly man) answered, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?”

Here’s a statement worth remembering – “We’re most vulnerable when we are on the mountaintop.” Success is not the problem but how we handle success. I’m not telling you to live in panic mode or wait for the other shoe to drop. What I am telling you is to never get so comfortable that you feel you don’t need God.

Application: Saved – When was the last time you sincerely gave God glory for how much He has blessed you? It’s not by my strength, personality, or family tree. It’s only by God’s grace. Lost – Do you think you don’t need the grace of God. You keep rejecting the grace of God. As a nation, we have been blessed and sadly we have forgotten God.

II. THE COST OF PRIDE

For the next 9 months and 20 days, Joab and his captains went the length and breadth of Israel, numbering the men of Israel who were twenty years of age and older – fit for military service. How did God see all this? 1 Chronicles 21:7“And God was displeased with this thing…” How about David? 2 Samuel 24:10  “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. The Hebrew word is nakah = attacked or assaulted.

Application: There are 3 groups of people when it comes to sin: first, those who feel the conviction of sin and return; second, those who feel the conviction of sin and run; and third, those who feel no conviction of sin.

What did David do? 8 So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” What was God’s response? 9Then the LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, 10“Go and tell David, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I offer you three things; Meaning: Not so easily David. This think you have done is wrong and I will deal with it.

Here are some questions: If God is all gracious, why did He have to bring this judgment? Didn’t the man say that he was sorry? God is loving and He is gracious but He’s also holy. This means he takes every sin very seriously. God allowed the judgment to come over David to show us how seriously He takes sin. Just like Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied to the Holy Spirit but people lie to the Holy Spirit today but they don’t die. Why? They died as an example to tell us that God takes sin very seriously. Sin has to be purged. It has to be punished. Either sin will be punished in you or it will be punished in your substitute. If you know Jesus as your Savior, He is your substitute. He has paid the price for all your sins. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you will die in your sins.

What is God’s answer to David’s sin?10“…Thus says the LORD: ‘I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.…12 either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD—the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’

Why so tough on this sin compared to the sin with Bathsheba? Sin of adultery was a sin of the flesh – just a moment of lust. It was wrong. But sin of taking the census was a sin of the spirit – it was full of pride and God hates pride. Pride is the ultimate sin. It brought the downfall of Lucifer. It is the breeding ground of every sin there is.

Listen to David’s response 13 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. The Hebrew word is tsarar = all tied up or cramped. In other words, “I’m all tied up in knots.” “…Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

Application: Saved – Is Pride your sin? Are you willing to fall into His hand this morning and cling to His grace or would you rather justify your sin? Lost – Is Pride keeping you from being saved? Are you willing to fall into the nail pierced hands of Jesus Christ? As a nation are we willing to fall into the hand of God?

III. THE GRACE OF GOD

14 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the LORD looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

Isn’t it amazing that even in God’s Judgment there is mercy?!!

Application: Let’s not forget saved or lost we stand only by the grace of God. Let’s not forget that as a nation we stand only by the grace of God.

16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.

People ask me “Is God through with America?” Not if the people and their leaders are willing to fall on their face before God and repent. There’s still hope for our nation. God is doing a new thing in our nation. He is raising up a new generation that will bypass our generation. Where we failed, they will be successful. Where we lost the fight, they will win the battle.

But something else happens here18 Therefore, the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. If you read it, it will tell you that Ornan tried to give it to David but David wouldn’t take it for free. Listen to what he says in verse 24  “…No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

Why did David insist on paying six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place? This was Mount Moriah – the very spot where Abraham had put his son Isaac on the altar. This was the place of sacrifice. David was going to pay for it because it would become the site for the future temple of Israel where thousands upon thousands of lambs will be sacrificed, all pointing to the Lamb of God who would pay the price for us.

26 And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the LORD; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering. 27 So the LORD commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.

Application: Saved – Is there sin in your life? Today if you repent and obey, God is willing to empower you with His holy fire from heaven. He is not only willing to forgive but also work all things together for your good. Lost – Are you willing to receive Jesus as your Savior? He is willing to forgive all your sins and give you a new beginning. As a nation – God wants to send His holy fire upon us, not to consume but to bless.

%d bloggers like this: