Righteous Nation by Pastor Abidan Shah

RIGHTEOUS NATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: Many nations are known for that one thing or two that that they do really well. What comes to your mind when you think of Switzerland? Swiss army knives or swiss cheese. Egypt? Pyramids. Brazil? Amazon jungle. China? Population. Maybe India too. Afghanistan? War. Botswana? Safari or Diamonds. Italy? Food. How about our own nation, the United States? Freedom and Opportunity. Do you know of any nation that is known for “Righteousness?” Unfortunately, no. From God’s perspective, righteousness is the secret to success as a nation. The timeline of history is littered with nations and peoples that have ceased to be, not because of famine, earthquake, pollution, or deforestation, but, because of unrighteousness.

Proverbs 14:34“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sinisa reproach to anypeople.”

Question: Are we an unrighteousness nation? Are we doing all we can to make our nation a righteous nation? Will our children and grandchildren thank us or curse us for how we are leaving this nation? Righteousness comes through Christ. Are you saved?

Context:The passage we just read comes from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Sometimes people treat this book as second class compared to Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Daniel, or any of the New Testament books. I’ve even heard people say something like – “The proverbs are not the promises of God but just general truths or observations about life.” Listen to Jeremiah 18:18 “… for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet…” In the context, this statement was being used negatively against Jeremiah but it gives us the breakdown of the word of God. We know what the law and prophecy are but what is the counsel of the wise? Again, God says in Ezekiel 7:26“Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; but the law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders.”Counsels are the proverbs, wise sayings. A proverb is a short saying that teaches us how to deal with practical, every day, ordinary issues in life. Someone said that the proverbs in the Bible are designed by God to fit into out mental pockets as we go through our day to day life.In his lifetime, Solomon spoke about 3000 proverbs. In this book we have only about 800 of them. He wrote most of them and collected the rest. Don’t read them as the wisdom of Solomon. Read them as the wisdom of Christ.Paul says in I Corinthians 1:24“to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”Colossians 2:3“in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Each of these proverbs is coming through the treasury of Jesus.

Back to our scripture today – Proverbs 14:34“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sinisa reproach to anypeople.” Let’s take apart that statement and look at the meaning of each word carefully:

1. Righteousness – (tsedek) It refers to our subjection to the divine universal order of things that has existed since creation and will continue till the end of time. It pertains to every aspect of life – relationships, family, children, nature, government, commerce, justice, war, etc. It is not just “certain acts” but a “pattern of life” that is given by God, required by God, and guaranteed by God. I can give you tons of references, but here’s just onePsalm 45     6Your throne, O God, isforever and ever; A scepter of righteousnessisthe scepter of Your kingdom. You loverighteousnessand hate wickedness.” It is the recognition that God is in charge and we are to do things his way. But, it’s more than just an obligation. It comes from a willing heart. One very important reminder: It’s not popular with the world. To practice it, you have to be willing to go against the flow.

The opposite of righteousness is Sin. It’s the word “chatha” which literally means “miss the mark” or “fall short.” It means missing God’s standard of righteousness.

2. Exalts – (rwm) It has many different uses but in the present context, it means success, prosperity, goodness, and longevity. We find the same word used in Psalm 27:6where David says, “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me.”

The opposite of righteousness is Reproach. It’s the word “Chesed” which can mean kindness or shame. The idea behind it is “eager desire.” It represents “active shame.” Several times it is used in the context of being killed because of a heinous sin.

Here’s the principle: Nations/kingdoms/peoples/societies that choose to live by God’s standards of righteousness will be blessed materially, physically, educationally, culturally, and perpetually. Those who choose to sin against God will find themselves in intense shame and utter oblivion.

Let’s put this to the test. Have there been nations/kingdoms/peoples/societies who chose to disobey God’s standards?

1. Nations before the Flood: Genesis 6     5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of manwasgreat in the earth, and thatevery intent of the thoughts of his heartwasonly evil continually. 6And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Everyone on the face of the earth were destroyed except for those who were on the ark – Noah and his family and two of every kind of animals. God gave the rainbow as a sign that he will not destroy the whole earth by water again. Now it is used as a symbol of a promiscuous lifestyle! 

2. Sodom and Gomorrah: Genesis 13     10“And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it waswell watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar…13But the men of Sodomwereexceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.” As you know, God himself came (pre-incarnate Christ) with two of his angels. God stood with Abraham while the angels went into Sodom to rescue Lot and his family before the destruction. Genesis 19      4Now before they laid down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know themcarnally.”Lot even tried to offer his two daughters but they wouldn’t have it. 24Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. 25So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

3. Egypt: God sent Moses to Egypt to rescue his people from slavery. Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let them go. God sent 10 plagues against Egypt – The Nile River turned into blood. This was followed by the plagues of the frogs, lice, death of the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness over the land. Then came the final plague – the death of the first born, both humans and animals. Exodus 12:12“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I amthe LORD.” Can you imagine the apocalyptic look of the land of Egypt? If this weren’t enough, God drowned the entire Egyptian army with their horses and chariots into the Red Sea.

4. Babylon: God had raised up Nebuchadnezzar to discipline his people Judah. He had taken them into exile. After his death, his son Belshazzar took the throne. Daniel 5      1Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had beenin Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had beenin Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. As this is going on, the fingers of a man’s hand appear opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the king’s palace and start writing. He was shaken up (literally) that his hip joints came loose and his knees knocked against each other. Daniel was called and he interpreted the writing “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” Mene: God has numbered your kingdom and finished it. Tekel: You have been weighed and found wanting. Upharsin: Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. That very night he was killed and Cyrus entered Babylon as the new king. 

5. Greece, Herod, Rome, European Nations, and others: The pattern is the same. When Nations/kingdoms/peoples/societies choose to live by God’s standards of righteousness, they are blessed materially, physically, educationally, culturally, and perpetually. When they choose to sin against God and defy his commandments, they find themselves in intense shame and utter oblivion.

Where are we as a nation? Are we choosing righteousness? It’s easy to blame Washington, Holly Wood, or Media but if we ourselves are unwilling to live by God’s standard of righteousness, what’s the difference? 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Invitation: Are you living by God’s righteousness? Are you willing to stand up in the face of opposition? Are you willing to share the gospel? Are you willing to show compassion to those around you, especially the unfortunate? Are you saved?

DADS WANTED PART 2

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DADS WANTED – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

dadswantedparttwoThis weekend we’re again taking a break from our ongoing series on the Sermon on the Mount and completing part two of our message – “DADS WANTED.” As I mentioned last week, this subject is very dear to my heart – more important than being a pastor, more important than being a bible teacher, and it comes next only to my relationship with my wife. It’s my calling to be a dad to my children.

Proverbs 4 10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. 11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.

Overall Background: 10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. As you know, King Solomon spoke these words to his son Rehoboam. He was teaching him wisdom in the form of proverbs. He was teaching him about long life, hard work, money, honesty, relationships, bad people, and on and on in the form of proverbs. People often ask me – “Aren’t Proverbs more like principles rather than promises? Aren’t they more like general descriptions of life rather than guarantees of blessings?” I often hear that and so I point them to Jeremiah 18:18 which says,“…for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet…” There were 3 ways in which God spoke to His people – Law from the Priest, Counsel from the Wise, and Prophecy from the Prophet. They’re all equally important. Proverbs fall under the category of Counsel. Since the word of God endures forever, proverbs also endure forever. But, you have to study them carefully and contextually. You have to study them like diamonds in the rough. Before you can put them in a glass case, they have to be cleaned, cut, and polished. Then, they are worth in the thousands and even millions. So also with these Proverbs – when you truly understand them and apply them, you can wear them like a diamond ring and a gold necklace and they will bring you infinite value.

Last time we looked at the first 5 letters where Solomon warned his son to avoid the wrong crowd, learn to seek wisdom, be merciful and truthful in order to be successful, appreciate discipline, and have a godly heritage. In the remaining 5 letters, he will be teaching his son the dangers of bad company, how to exercise self-control, and (the last 3 letters) how to have a happy marriage.

I said it before and I’ll repeat it again – America is in a crisis today – the crisis of fatherhood. The reason our young people and even adults are doing the things they’re doing is because there is no male in their lives to instruct them, to correct them, and to be there for them. America desperately needs some Solomons.

Application: Are you being the dad you’re supposed to be for your children? Are you teaching them godly wisdom? Are you modeling a godly lifestyle? Are you saved?

Again, 5 Reasons Dads are wanted:

I. DADS ARE WANTED TO TEACH CHILDREN TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PATH. 

Proverbs 4 10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings…14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.

Background: The wicked have a path that has been used for centuries. Just like some of our interstates today are sitting on the wagon trails that were actually used by the Indians before them. For centuries people have been walking on those paths and now they have become trails and roads and interstates. So also the paths of the wicked – people have been walking a certain way for centuries and thus the way of evil.

Solomon warns his son – 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on. 16 For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble.

Application: Dads – do you take the time to teach your children about dangers of the wicked path? Are you walking in the wicked path?

II. DADS ARE WANTED TO TEACH CHILDREN SELF-CONTROL. 

Background: Now Solomon is telling his son – “Son, you have an enemy and it is YOU!”

First enemy: YOUR HEART – 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, (Keep – mismar. It means a prison or standing guard.) For out of it spring the issues of life. As Jesus said in Matthew 15:19 19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Second enemy: YOUR MOUTH – 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. As Jesus said in Matthew 15:11 11Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

We shape our words and then our words shape us. If you don’t like where you are headed, change the way you talk. Many of us are speaking our world into existence.

Third enemy: YOUR EYES – 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23 22“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Avoid looking at the forbidden fruit. That’s when Eve fell.

Fourth enemy: YOUR FEET – 26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

Bottom line: Children have to be taught self-control and fathers are given that responsibility.

Application: Dads – Are you teaching your children to exercise self-control? Do you have self-control in your life? Remember – it is the fruit of the Spirit.

Now we come to the last 3 letters. They all address the same issue – Adultery. Would you agree that this is a big issue? Last week as I was looking at my newsfeed, I saw the headlines mega-church pastor resigns because of adultery. When I saw the name, my heart just sank. I couldn’t believe it. Not him. But sadly it was true. This subject is so important that Solomon devotes all 3 letters to it! Even though much of what he says overlaps, each letter has a distinct truth that needs to be emphasized.

III. DADS ARE WANTED TO TEACH CHILDREN THE DANGERS OF ADULTEROUS TALK. 

Proverbs 5 1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding, 2 That you may preserve discretion, And your lips may keep knowledge.

Background: Lips represent our words. Solomon is telling his son, “Watch out for your words.” In other words, “Don’t be impulsive and indiscreet in how you talk to the opposite sex.”

Did you know that most adulterous relationships begin not with the eyes but with the words? Something as seemingly harmless as “Boy, you look pretty. I hope your husband appreciates you.” Or for ladies – “If my husband was as nice as you…” Before you know it – there is an affair.

Who better to talk about this than Solomon! He had a way with words. He was a wordsmith. If you don’t believe that, read the Song of Solomon.

But there’s more – 3 For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil; Meaning: Not only watch out for your own words but also watch out for the words of the immoral man or woman. They know how to use seductive words. Just like honey, their words our sticky and they fall one drop at a time (literally). They are relentless. Just like oil, her words are smooth and slippery.

Listen to what James 3:2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Meaning: If we can control your words, we can control our actions.

Application: Dads – what kind of words do you use around your children? How do you talk to your wife, their mother? They’re learning. How you talk to people on the outside?

IV. DADS ARE WANTED TO TEACH CHILDREN THE DANGERS OF ADULTEROUS THOUGHTS.

Proverbs 6 20 My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother…24 To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. 25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.

Background: Now Solomon is going a step beyond and talking about lust. It involves thinking and daydreaming about the other person. Now you are in dangerous territory. When you begin to entertain and picture yourself with that person, it’s a matter of time before you fall headfirst into adultery.

What is the antidote? Remember the consequences that will follow if you keep on that path. 26 For by means of a harlot A man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. 27 Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared? 29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her shall not be innocent. 32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. 33 Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy is a husband’s fury; Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

Think about the consequences of adultery – destroy your marriage, destroy your children, destroy your testimony, and destroy the work of the church.

Application: Dads – do you take the time to warn your children about the dangers of delving in lust? Is there lust in your heart? When was the last time you repented before God?

V. DADS ARE WANTED TO TEACH CHILDREN THE DANGERS OF ADULTEROUS TRAPS.

Proverbs 7 1 My son, keep my words, And treasure my commands within you…6 For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, 7 And saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, A young man devoid of understanding, 8 Passing along the street near her corner; And he took the path to her house 9 In the twilight, in the evening, In the black and dark night. 10            And there a woman met him, With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart. 11 She was loud and rebellious, Her feet would not stay at home. 12 At times she was outside, at times in the open square, Lurking at every corner. 13 So she caught him and kissed him…21 With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, With her flattering lips she seduced him. 22 Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, 23 Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life. 24 Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: 25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; 26 For she has cast down many wounded, And all who were slain by her were strong men. 27 Her house is the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death.

No one wakes up one morning and says, “I’m going to commit adultery.” It’s a word here, a thought there, and a step taken towords sin. If you think it’s not going to happen to you, think again. You will have to decide in your heart where you stand with lust. If the most beautiful and compatible woman were to walk in this room, what will you do? What if you feel that this is the one that you were supposed to be with? What if you feel a connection? What if you feel that you can be yourself around this one? It’s the lie of the devil. You are like an ox going to the slaughter. Wake up!

We need fathers who will not only talk about these things to their children but also live it out before them. We need fathers who are born again Christians. We need fathers who live by the Holy Spirit. We need fathers who are obedient to Jesus Christ and his word. We need fathers who are about the mission that God has given them to seek and to save that which was lost. We need fathers after God’s own heart.

Are you the father? Are you saved?

SOME THOUGHTS ON WISDOM by Abigail Shah

SOME THOUGHTS ON WISDOM by Abigail Shah

(Please note: This is a reflection paper for a Bible class by my daughter Abigail. I was so impressed that I asked her permission to put it on my blog. It’s good to be reminded that wisdom will not die with us. The future is indeed bright for the next generation!)

Wisdom of God - AbigailI have learned a lot about wisdom by reading most of the book of Proverbs and the book of James twice by myself. It has given me time to reflect and think about each verse on my own time and pace.
People believe all you have to do is become a Christian and “BOOM” your set, but there is more. James is telling us to shape up and really live our lives for Christ. We need to watch what we say, do good deeds, and bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Legit faith in Christ makes a big difference in how people live. Like James 1:22 says, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”
I believe that a true, wise believer will help restore a wandering believer. They don’t judge the wanderer, but humbly help. Many unwise Christians make the mistake of judging the wanderer, not always on purpose though. The main idea I believe James is trying to get across is probably the fact that all wisdom comes from God. Some people believe that they can gain wisdom. The only thing man can get is earthly knowledge, but not wisdom.
As believers we all yearn to be close to God, but only few people acquire that special blessing through hard work and faith. As James 4:4, 7-8 says, “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy with God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, make yourself an enemy of God”. And verse seven through eight says, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world”.
Altogether, James is saying to grow close to God by reading and meditating on His Word. With God’s help you will be able to have patience, confidence in Christ, control of your tongue, the ability to pull a wandering believer or non-believer to Christ, and most of all, true wisdom.

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