Unlike Us by Pastor Abidan Shah

UNLIKE US by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Unlike UsIntroduction:  Do you remember that old joke? A teacher asked her kindergarteners to draw a picture of someone very important. All the kids began drawing a picture of mom, dad, or some famous person in history. After 15-20 minutes, the teacher noticed that all the kids were done except this one boy who was still working very intently in the back. Curious, she asked him, “Who are you drawing?” Without even looking up, he replied, “God!” The teacher was startled. She went up to him and asked, “How can you draw God? No one knows what he looks like.” He replied, “They will when I get through!” All of us are guilty of doing that. We try to draw God after our own image and understanding. Today’s message will teach us that “God is unlike us. Instead of trying to make him like us, we are to become like him.” The message is titled “UNLIKE US.”

Psalm 50    15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? 18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. 19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.”

Question: “You thought that I was altogether like you.” Is that what you’re doing? Have you created God in your own image? What sin are you justifying by claiming that God does it too? Are you saved? Have you conformed to image of his Son?

Context: In my devotion time I’ve been reading through the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. As you know, the Book of Psalms was the song book of the children of Israel, later known as the Jewish people. It played a very important role in their worship and daily life. It reminded them of something very important that many Christians fail to understand – It’s not enough to know the truth, affirm the truth, clarify the truth, defend the truth, and share the truth. You also have to take the time to delight in the truth. The Psalms are meant to help us delight in the truth. C.S. Lewis in his book titled Reflections on the Psalms wrote, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” That’s beautiful!

The psalm we are looking at today (Psalm 50) begins with the heading “The Song of Asaph.” Who was Asaph? I Chronicles 6 tells us that he was a worship leader of one of the groups of temple singers established by King David. He was the worship leader when the ark was brought back to Jerusalem. He was again in charge of the music when the ark was brought to the temple built by Solomon. Later there was a musical school named after him that continued centuries after his death. What I am trying to say is that Asaph was no ordinary one hit wonder. He was a worship leader with great depth and legacy. Something else that needs to be mentioned before we look at this psalm in depth – The placement of this psalm at this place in the Book of Psalms is not by chance. It has been strategically placed here to prepare us to read Psalm 51 which is a prayer of repentance by David when Nathan the prophet confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.

With that in mind, let’s begin – 1 “The Mighty One, God the Lord, has spoken…” If you rush past the opening words, you will miss the significance of the titles for God. In Hebrew it reads “El Elohim Yahweh.” Three different names for God are mentioned here. El – the Mighty God in whom are all the attributes and power of godhead. Elohim – the Creator God who made everything. Yahweh – the Merciful God who reveals himself to us and sets us free. He redeemed the people in Exodus and met them at Sinai.

Application: Is this the God you pray to? Is this the God you worship and sing to? The All-Powerful Creator God Who Alone is Our Redeemer.

One more important description needs to be included here – 1 “…and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. 3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: 5 “Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” 6 Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah (Lift up/exalt) The All-Powerful Creator God Who Alone is Our Redeemer is also the Great Judge of all the earth.

Application: Are you ready to meet this God? Are you going to lift up and exalt his right to judge or are you going to argue and defend your case?

What does this God have to say? First, he will speak to the righteous among his people – 7 “Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God! 8 I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. 9 I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. 12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. 13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. In other words, I don’t need you to go out there and get me meat so I won’t be hungry. The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.”

Application: We are easily swayed by favors people do for us. You cannot sway God. Remember what I said earlier that this psalm has been placed here for a reason. Listen to what David says in Psalm 51   16 “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” And what’s the reward for those who offer to the sacrifices from a clean heart? 15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Here’s the privilege of obeying God.

But now listen to what God says to the Wicked Righteous – 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? In other words, how do you receive God’s truth when you encounter it in your devotion time, in a message, in a Sunday School lesson, on the radio, or in a Christian literature? How do you receive the Word when it is given to you by a godly friend? Do you hate it and cast it aside? How did David receive God’s Word through Nathan? 2 Samuel 12:13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” In other words, he repented.

What happens when you don’t repent? God goes into detail – 18 “When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. 19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. How many sins are mentioned here? Stealing, Adultery, Accomplice/Association, Evil Speaking, Lying, Gossip, Smear, Slander. What did God do about it? 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent…” Just because God does not immediately deal with your sin does not mean that he approves it. Silence is not approval. When we are silent, we are approving. When God is silent, he is extending mercy. But here comes the worst one – 21 “…You thought that I was altogether like you…” This is the sin of misrepresenting God because it suits your purpose and your love for your pet sin.

Application: Do you twist the Bible to justify your behavior, your sin? The worst thing you can do to any person is misrepresent him/her. Yet, people do that to God to justify their sinful action and lives.

What is the consequence? 21 “…But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.” If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit will not let you off easily. He will convict you and expose to you the error of your ways. What if you still don’t change? 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver:” Now it’s no longer private but public exposure. The old principle is true – “You cover your sin and God will uncover it. You uncover your sin and God will cover it.”

Here’s the solution – 23 “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” What will you do? True praise cannot come from a contaminated, sin-filled heart. Furthermore, it’s not enough to say with David Psalm 51    3 “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,” you also have to say with him 7 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9            Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Are you ready to repent? Are you saved?


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IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYEDIn light of the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, I want to preach a message that I’ve preached sometime back from Psalm 11 titled, “IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED.” We’re living in a time when morality and values are under heavy attack. We’re being told – “A new world is here, whether we like it or not. It has no place for people like us and it would be safer for us to either run with it or run away. There is no hope of going back.”

They are very similar to the opening words of Psalm 11In the Lord I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”

Overall Background: The psalm we just read is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. No one knows the exact setting of this psalm. Maybe David wrote it in his earlier life when he was dodging King Saul; maybe, he wrote it when he was battling against the Philistines; or maybe, he wrote it as he was fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom. No matter what prompted David to write this psalm, one thing is for sure – it begins with a call to retreat. Things are going downhill and there’s nothing you can do about it. Run away. They remind us a lot of what we’ve been hearing for the past few days:

  • America’s glory days are over.
  • We’re under God’s judgment.
  • We are living in the last days. Get ready for Jesus to come.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard these statements from some very well meaning people. They’re not the response that God expects of us. Before we try to understand how we are to respond and what’s the next step, let me ask you first – does it bother you where our nation is morally and spiritually today? If it doesn’t –

  • Could it be that you could care less for our nation? I know people like that – They love Jesus but America can crash and burn and they won’t care. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “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.”
  • Could it be that you don’t know any different? Sadly, I come across people like that a lot in America. They’re very nice people but they are naïve people. They’re ignorant about issues and consequences. Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
  • Could it be that you’re moral and spiritual thermostat is broken? In other words, you have the same trash in your life that people have in the world. No wonder it’s hard for you to say anything. You have to begin by repenting of your own sins.
  • Could it be that your love for the lost has gotten cold? Here’s a question to you – when was the last time you witnessed to anybody?

As we walk through this Psalm, ask the Holy Spirit to give you biblical convictions and show you how to respond to what’s happening in our nation. 3 things we will see:


1 In the Lord I put my trust;

Background: David begins the psalm by declaring that his trust is not in people, things, armies, or chariots. His trust is in the living God. Repeatedly he talks about this –

  • Psalm 5:11a “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them.”
  • Psalm 32:10 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”
  • Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”

David was a man of deep, unshakable faith in God.

The only way that you and I can survive in this world is by trusting in the Living God. No matter what the Supreme Court says or any human institution decrees, “In the Lord I put my trust.” By the way, that is the official motto of our nation – “In God We Trust.” Even though this motto was not officially recognized until 1956, this statement defines us as a nation. We’ve been through so much as a nation. It’s only by the grace of God that we have been able to dust ourselves off and get back up.

Application: Are you trusting in the Lord right now? Show me a man/woman who is all frazzled and frustrated, and I will show you a man who is not trusting in God. Faith is the antidote to fear. This is not just with regards to our nation but also in our personal lives.


How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain?

Background: Keep in mind that these are not David’s words. Now he is quoting the counsel of his friends. “Flee as a bird to your mountain?” Birds are some of the most skittish of all creatures. You take one step towards them and immediately they fly away. David’s friends are counseling him to flutter away like a bird, not just to some tree but to a mountain. Go as far away as possible to some remote place and never return again. What else? 2 For look! The wicked bend their bow,
they make ready their arrow on the string,
that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. Meaning: If you try to come back, their arrows aimed at your heart. But they’re not done – 3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?” This is even worse. “David – Give up. The very foundations of the society are destroyed. There’s no hope.”

By the way, the very foundations of our nation are crumbling before our eyes –

  • In 1947, the Supreme Court sharply defined the separation of church and state.
  • In 1962-63, the Supreme Court decided to ban prayers in public school.
  • In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
  • Now in 2015, the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriages.

Do you believe that the foundations of our society are crumbling before our very eyes? In 1934 an Oxford anthropologist by the name of J.D. Unwin published a book called Sex and Culture in which he studied and analyzed the sexual behaviors of 86 cultures through 5,000 years of history. Unwin was not a Christian. He admitted: “I offer no opinion about rightness or wrongness.” But listen to what he concluded: “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence.” Meaning: When a society becomes promiscuous instead of a man and woman having sex only in the confines of marriage, it’s a matter of time before that society will shrivel and die. After studying the Romans, Greeks, Sumerians, Moors, Babylonians, Anglo-Saxons and many others, he wrote, “The evidence is that in the past, a class has risen to a position of political dominance because of its great energy, and that, at the period of its rising, its sexual regulations have always been strict. It has retained its energy and dominated the society so long as its sexual regulations have demanded both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence…I know of no exceptions to these rules.”

This issue about same sex marriage is not about marriage. It’s about neutralizing the fundamental identity of human beings as male and female. It’s about silencing those who will call it sin. It’s about stealing away the innocence of our children and exposing them to actions and behaviors of a promiscuous few. It’s about tearing down our society.

Application: Does the plight of our society bother you? Do you care about the lost around you? Are you praying for God to show you what must be done?


The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;

Background: All this time David is busy looking around him and he is getting discouraged. But now he chooses to look to the temple and he sees that God is still there! For Christians now we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God is still with us. Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Jesus promised – Matthew 28:20 “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

But then David looks up and he sees God’s throne is in heaven. Meaning: God is still in control and He is still the king of the universe and the final judge. While down on earth everything was in despair, up in heaven everything was in control! What else? His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men. God was not for a moment disheveled by the happenings on earth. As the famous preacher Robert G. Lee would say, “God is not a bewildered bellhop running up and down the corridors of the hotel He created trying to find His key!” In fact, He is seeing everything.

What are His purposes? For the Righteous – 5 The Lord tests the righteous,
 For the righteous, it was a time for testing. God is testing our great nation. He is testing to see if we are still one nation under God; He is testing to see if we will recognize that He is the source of our strength; He is testing to see if we will turn towards Him. Our financial/moral/spiritual crisis is not what God is doing to America as much as what God is doing for America.

For the wicked – But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. For the wicked, it was a time for judgment. God is getting ready to pour His wrath on the wicked. He will not allow even a single, small transgression to go unnoticed. Romans 1 is very clear that homosexuality is a sin. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

Back to Psalm 11 6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals;
Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright.

What’s the message for the people of God in America?

  • Don’t lose hope. Trust God. He is perfectly in control.
  • Examine our hearts and see if there is any wickedness in us.
  • Rebuild our families and marriages according to biblical standards.
  • Step out of our hiding place and be the salt and light in our community. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16 13“You are the salt of the earth… 14“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
  • Share the gospel with the lost world around us because judgment is coming.

And God will win – “From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.”

Are you discouraged? Are you looking up? Do you trust God? Are you saved? Are you sharing the gospel?


ONE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION WORTH KEEPING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

One New Years Resolution Worth Keeping

We’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we are in Luke 3 for our message titled, “ONE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION WORTH KEEPING.” According to a recent research, here are the popular New Year’s Resolutions in 2015 – 10. Get More Sleep; 9. Volunteer; 8. Travel; 7. Floss; 6. Save Money; 5. Reach Goals; 4. Learn a Language; 3. Go Green; 2. Quit Smoking or Drinking; 1. Lose Weight. There’s one that I have a feeling is not on anyone’s list but it holds the key to all the rest: True Repentance.

Luke 3   7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Overall Background: The Word of God came to John in the wilderness. If you remember, it was not just a geographical wilderness but also political, moral, and spiritual wilderness. God hadn’t spoken to His people in 400 years and suddenly there was a voice crying in the wilderness. This voice was a lone voice, a simple voice, and a voice full of holy conviction. And people began to come. Matthew tells us in chapter 3, verse 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. That’s powerful! What’s even more powerful is what these people did! They confessed their sins – they repented.

Unfortunately, repentance is a foreign word in American Christianity today. We talk about how to find God’s will and how to have our best life and how to be happy but repentance – no time for that. But this is where it starts. The closer you draw to God, the more you begin to see your sinfulness and the need for repentance.

Application: May I ask you – Are you tired of sin ruling your life? Is it the sin of a habit/addiction? Is it the sin of an attitude – selfishness, anger, control, or insecurity? Is it the sin of lack of discipline – food, time management, or thoughts? You say you are saved – is there a difference between you and those who are lost? Then, there’s one solution – Repentance. Here’s an important question – Have you ever received Jesus as your Savior? If not, then you need Conversion not Confession.

This morning let the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the truth about Repentance so this could really be your best year ever. 3 things we will see in this passage:


7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

John the Baptist - crowdBackground: Good gracious! Why did John say something like that? Isn’t that what he wanted? Weren’t people (some Pharisees and Sadducees) responding to the voice crying in the wilderness? If it we’re me, I would’ve put together a welcome packet with all the ministries for every need in your family. I would’ve organized a welcome committee with the friendliest people to serve as ushers. Instead, he calls them “sons of snakes.” Because vipers throughout the Old Testament refer to God’s enemies. Imbedded in here is a powerful principle – Sin puts us at enmity with God. When you and I come to God (lost or saved), we are immediately confronted by God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Psalm 5:4 “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You.” Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you.” The closer to get to the light, the more you see the dirt in your life.

At the moment you are confronted, if you raise up your hands and say – “Guilty as charged. I need Jesus,” it’s good. At that point John 3:16 goes into action – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But if you come with anything other than the blood of Christ to cover you, now the wrath of God is upon you. Listen to verse 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.’ Meaning: Don’t trust in your pedigree. Don’t trust in your church membership. Don’t trust in the fact that you came. These people were sincere. None of that can save you from God’s wrath. Keep listening to verse 8 “…For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Application: How do you see yourself in light of God’s holiness? As a lost person, do you think God will excuse you based on some good you’ve done? As a saved person, you know God and that’s good but are you bearing good fruit or is there sin in your life? Do you realize how much God abhors our sin? These are very important questions. Unless you get this right, no amount of resolutions and promises will make the year blessed.


10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

John the Baptist - Tax CollectorsIf you noticed, each of these commands has to do with their relationship with fellow human beings. Let’s look at each of them for a moment:

  1. The first one – “People – If you have 2 coats and see someone who is cold, share.” Sin has a way of making us insensitive to others. Nothing wrong with wearing well and eating well but there’s something wrong when our brother/sister is cold and hungry. Sin makes us care for our own comfort and well-being. Now, don’t immediately run out and start clothing the homeless and feeding the hungry. Start with your own home. Wives – are you known as a selfish person? Husband – are you known as a self-centered person who always gets what he wants?
  2. The second one – “Tax Collectors – Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Sin has a way of making us greedy for a little bit more. Nothing wrong with making a profit and doing better in life but there’s something wrong when we care more about stuff than people. Sin makes us dissatisfied no matter how much we have. Sin creates a bottomless pit in our heart. In fact, we are even willing to throw our husband, wife, and children down the bottomless pit of greed.
  3. The third one – “Soldiers – Don’t intimidate or false accuse anyone.” Sin makes us a bully and do whatever it takes (lie and cheat) to get our way. Bullying happens not just on the school playground but also in the home. Words are said and threats are used that have no business in Christian homes. The past is held over the head and the future is used as a threat rather than something to look forward to.

Bottom line: Sin is not just a subject for theologs. Sin is not just the quirk of some Ole Timey preacher. Sin is not just the junk on TV put out by Hollywood. Sin is with us everyday and it affects our relationship with our loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers. Instead of avoiding the subject, it needs to be preached more! It is the problem.

For e.g. We make resolutions to lose weight. Why do we eat more? It’s all right to eat because you’re hungry or the food tastes good but its not all right as an emotional need. Why do our emotions go out of whack? Because of our relationships.

Application: Have you realized how real sin is in your life? Do you see how much it corrupts your daily relationships? Do you see that you can’t go forward and make resolutions and set goals unless you deal with sin? Are you willing to deal with sin?


15 Now as the people were in expectation,

Background: What were they expecting? After all, they’ve been baptized, they’ve been confronted with their sin, and they’ve been told what to do and not to do. What more is there? Listen to the next line – “and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not.” They were still expecting the Christ! Why? Because the Christ was going to do something more for them. Listen to verse 16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. What exactly is John saying? He is drawing a line of demarcation between himself and Jesus. The people were starting to look at John as their hope. But John quickly put an end to that. Sometimes people start looking at pastors and teachers with adoration. Don’t get me wrong, there should be respect but don’t worship the man.

What will this Mightier One do? Listen to last line of verse 16 “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” What does that mean? What is the difference between the baptism with water and the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire? They had been saved from the wrath to come but they had not been set free from the power of sin. By receiving Jesus as your Savior, you don’t have to face the penalty of sin but unless you truly appropriate what Jesus did for you, you will still be in bondage to the power of sin. That’s why some Christians keep going back to old habits and old attitudes and old sins and old hang-ups. They are going to heaven but it’s like hell all the way there. They’re still selfish, self-centered, greedy, intimidating, liars, and cheats. They feel guilty for their behavior and feel condemned. They make promises to do better but go back to the old ways.

So what’s the solution? Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. Paul explains to us a little bit more in Romans 8 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire means that now I am under the command and leadership of the Holy Spirit. He is in charge over me. In order to sin I have to get permission from Him. I daily submit myself to Him and He leads me in right way. Listen to Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

And he also brings fire. What does that do? 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” For the lost, the fire is hell but for the saved person, the fire is a purifier. It refines us and cleanses us. It is just like the fire at the landfill versus the fire at the silversmith.

Illustration: Charles Wesley’s hymn illustrates this well –

O for a thousand tongues to sing,

My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!


He breaks the power of canceled sin,

He sets the prisoner free;

His blood can make the foulest clean,

His blood availed for me.

Are you saved? Has the power of canceled sin broken in your life through the Holy Spirit?


WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in Jonah 3 for our message titled “WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA.” One question that I am frequently asked is – “Is God through with America?” Or “Is America under God’s judgment?” This morning’s message is very critical for all of us.

Jonah 3:3b-6, 10 3b Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city belonging to God, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes… 10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Overall Background: We are at that point in our study of the book of Jonah where the focus has shifted from God working with Jonah as an individual to God working with the Ninevites as a people. So far we’ve seen how God disciplined Jonah when he disobeyed Him. Now we will see how God dealt with Nineveh because they disregarded Him.

This morning’s message is very critical for us to hear. In some ways, America is where Nineveh was 2700 years ago. We are in the middle of an economic, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy, just like the Assyrians. God is speaking to us today just as He spoke to the Ninevites of Assyria. He is giving us the answer to our problems as a nation. The question is – “Are we going to listen?” Before we get into the message, let me ask you this morning – “Do you care what’s happening in our nation?” Sadly, many people – young and old – think that as long me and mine are okay, I don’t care. Hopefully, this message will make you aware of what is at stake. If you do care, this message will give you the hope you are looking for our nation.

There are 3 things we will see in this message: First, the Morality of Nineveh; Second, the Message of Jonah; and finally, the Mercy of God.


Listen once again to verse 3…Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, belonging to God. Four times it claims that Nineveh was a great city. It even adds that it belongs to God. Why did He say that? Let me give you 3 reasons for that:

#1.It was great in size.

It took 3 days journey to walk through this city. It was not just one city but also a conglomerate of two or three cities, like RDU. Altogether it was a distance of 60 miles. The walls were 100 feet high and broad enough to let three chariots ride side by side. The city was big enough to have large spaces for farming and pasture. This would keep them self-sufficient in case they were surrounded. It had beautiful palace for the king. It is claimed by archaeologists that the population was somewhere over a million people.

#2.It was great in sin.

They were cruel in their treatment of their enemies. They did things that I cannot describe to you. All that we know of torture techniques fails in comparison. Historical records talk about pyramids of human heads after the defeat of the enemy. Boys and girls were burnt alive. Listen to how Nahum describes Nineveh – Nahum 3:1-5a 1 “Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. 2 The noise of a whip And the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots! 3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses—They stumble over the corpses— 4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries. 5 “Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts.” Not a place that you and I want to go on a vacation.

#3.It was great in history.

The first time we hear about Nineveh is in the Book of Genesis 10. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Shem’s son Asshur founded the nation of Assyria. He left Babel and moved out and obeyed God. But the sons and grandsons of Ham were rebellious before God. Listen to Genesis 10 and verse 8 onwards. Ham’s son “Cush begot Nimrod.” Nimrod = marad (Hebrew) means to rebel. In essence, it means, “let’s do as we please.” “he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” It means “rebellious one before the Lord.”Early historical documents tell us that Nimrod was like the first Antichrist. He was a dictator. He tried to turn people away from God and to follow him. He was a hunter – not of animals but of men.

10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. In Babylon, he led the people of the world, at the time in the land of Shinar, Babylon, the land of modern day Iraq, to build “a tower whose top is in the heavens.” It was a temple dedicated to the worship of the heavens, the worship of the constellations, the worship of the sun, the moon and the stars (zodiac). This was sun worship. Today, all throughout the world you will find sun worship.But Nimrod did not stop there. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh…” What was his purpose? Maybe he was trying to infiltrate and corrupt Assyria like Babylon. This was how Nineveh got started.But for some reason it says in 3b Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city belonging to God, Meaning: God cared about Nineveh.

In many ways, we are where Nineveh was 2700 years ago. We are a great nation and we are also a sinful nation. CNN did a poll recently on how Americans view morality. If you compare it with a similar poll done in 1987 by Time magazine, it tells us how far we have come. Everything from “having an abortion, engaging in homosexual behavior, looking at pornography, smoking marijuana, and living with someone before marriage” has become more acceptable!

First Landing - Abidan and Nicole

First Landing – Abidan and Nicole

Shah Family - Chesapeake Bay

Shah Family – Chesapeake Bay

There is one area where we are very different from Nineveh. Our nation’s history goes back only 400 years. In fact, last week we were at Cape Henry on Fort Story – a joint expeditionary military base. We stood at the place known as the “First Landing.” This place, by the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, is where the first English colonists arrived at 4am on Sunday April 26th, 1607. It is now marked by a granite cross, put there by the Daughters of the American Revolution. They did this in memory of the cross that was set up by the colonists on April 29th, three days later. What took them three days to plant the cross? Because the pastor Robert Hunt had called for three days of prayer and fasting, saying, “From these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World but the entire world.”

If God cares for Nineveh, a city founded by one who hated God, how much more does He care about America.

Application: There is a great attempt to rewrite the history of our nation. When you study history, it is obvious that our nation was founded as a Christian nation. Does that mean that everyone always acted in a Christian spirit? Of course not. But, because some lived contrary to the Bible does not mean all did. Nonetheless, we are a nation that is turning away from God. We are becoming greater and greater in sin. Unlike Nineveh, Christians are still a strong majority in this nation.


4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Background: Just an 8 word sermon! Actually in Hebrew it is only 5 words! I think Jonah gets the Guinness Book of World Record for the shortest sermon. I call it the turn or burn sermon.

What was the result in Nineveh?

Jonah 3:5-9 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

People wonder how can a nation or city like Nineveh respond so easily? Things were not going too well for Nineveh about this time. They had faced some military and diplomatic losses recently. They were also facing famine. There were some riots and uprisings among the people. Not only that, but they also had faced an earthquake and a solar eclipse in 768BC. Needless to say, God was working on Nineveh for sometime.

6Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

The formula for revival is there in the Bible.

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.”

Several times in our nation’s history it seemed that we had hit bottom.

  • First time around 1730’s – The American Colonies were going downhill and God sent the First Great Awakening.
  • Second time was around 1790 – People were moving west and the country was going downhill. God sent the Second Great Awakening in the east and west.
  • Third time was in 1857. A man by the name of Jeremiah Lanphier led the prayer revival and countless many were saved. God raised up men like D.L. Moody and others.
  • Again in the 1920s and 1930s it seemed the morals of our nation were gone. God raised up the Billy Sundays and the Billy Grahams and many others.
  • In the 60’s and the 70’s it was the Jesus Movement where disillusioned young men and women turned towards God.
  • Now again in 2014.

Application: What message are we bringing to the world? As a church, are we actively sharing the good news?


Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Background: Some people have a problem with that – “God relented.” How can God change His mind? In the OT, 9 times we hear that God does not change His mind but 27 times it says that He changes His mind.

2 Peter 3:9-13 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Where do you stand with God? In Christ He has made a way for you. Do you know Him?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, 3 questions come to mind.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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