Thankful for my Church Family

THANKFUL FOR MY CHURCH FAMILY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

thankfulformychurchfamilyThanksgiving is upon us and we are told to be thankful for our family, friends, health, nation, and even spiritual things like the Word of God and our salvation. But there’s one thing that we usually don’t hear in this list – it’s our church family. So this weekend I’m preaching a message titled – “Thankful for my Church Family.”

Romans 1 7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

Overall Background: Unlike the churches in Galatia, Philippi, and Ephesus, Paul did not start the church in Rome. We don’t know who did – maybe it was someone on a business trip or someone on a military assignment or maybe it was a family or a group of people but somehow the gospel made it to Rome and the church was born. In fact, when Paul wrote this letter to them, he had never even been to Rome as an apostle. But, he heard about them and listen again to what he says in Romans 1   7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all…” Paul had never even travelled to the church family in Rome but he was already grateful for them!

According to a survey by AAA that came out last Wednesday, this Thanksgiving week 46.9 million people in America will travel about 50 miles or more from their homes to visit family and friends. It’s the highest number in the past 8 years, about 300,000 more than last year. That’s a lot of travel! But, did you also know that according to some estimates as many as 16 million people in America travel to their church every week? Could be more but I’m being conservative. But keep in mind, that’s 52 times a year. So, 16X52 = 837 million trips to see the church family throughout the year! 46 million trips just at Thanksgiving versus 837 million trips throughout the year! But, if you talk to most church going people, not many are grateful for their church family. In fact, most of them are unhappy with their church family. Some are disappointed with their church family. Yet, others look at their church family as a burden, an obligation, and treat it as dispensable/unnecessary. “It’s alright but I can live without it.”

Question: How do you see your church family? Are you grateful for this church? Do you realize what God has done in your life through Clearview? How do you see this place? How do you talk about this place to others? Are you saved? If not, you will never truly appreciate the benefits you are receiving here.

This morning we will learn to be thankful for our church family like Paul was for the church family in Rome. Let the Holy Spirit bring an attitude of gratitude for this church.

I. REASON TO BE THANKFUL – FAITH

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Background: The reason Paul is grateful for the church in Rome is because of their faith, which is being spoken of throughout the world. What does “faith” mean here? The Greek word “pistis” has two implications:

  1. Saving Faith – it means receiving the message of the gospel. It means believing that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and He is alive today. Later in Romans 1:16 Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Again, in 1 Corinthians 1:21 Paul says, “…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.I can give you many other examples but here’s the point – Faith, first and foremost, means being saved by believing in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s the point – the church in Rome had the reputation of being a gospel preaching, soul saving church.

Churches today are trying to make a name for themselves, such as “contemporary church,” “old-fashioned church,” “young people church,” “missions minded church,” “Bible-teaching church,” “community focused church,” and many other titles. Paul is not grateful for the church in Rome for any of those reasons but for their faith in the gospel. My goal as a pastor of this church has always been and will always be to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with every man, woman, boy, or girl, no matter what they look like and where they come from. That’s why the motto at Clearview is “Making Christ Visible.” That’s why I’m thankful for this church family.

Application: Are you thankful for Clearview? Are you grateful for the focus we have at this church? Are you saved? Have you placed your faith in the work of Jesus on the cross? The goal of this service and everything that goes on here is to get you saved.

  1. Life of Faith – it means living daily by faith in God and His promises. It means trusting God to guide, provide, and protect the direction of our church. You have to understand the background of this church in Rome in order to appreciate that compliment from Paul. The church in Rome was made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers. One early historian (Suetonius) tells us that in AD 49 Jewish believers were being expelled/kicked out of Rome because of their faith. More than likely some of these Jewish Christians had family members and friends who were taken away from them. You can only imagine their pain. The Gentile believers in the church were Roman people or other nationalities that also believed in the gospel. What an interesting combination! They don’t have a whole lot in common. Oil and water coming together but blood is uniting them. In spite of all this, the one thing that is being heard about them is that they are a family of faith. Meaning: They are a church that believes in God for great things. They are a church that believes that God will provide and we can trust Him with the impossible.

Almost everything we do here can be duplicated. Good preaching – you can go and listen to a great talk by some great speaker. Good music – you can go to a great concert. Good programs – you can join some club. Good outreach – you can join some relief organization. But there’s one thing the world cannot duplicate – it is our faith in God. Clearview stands today because of our faith in God. People in this community are still scratching their heads as to what is the secret of this church! Rich, poor, black, white, young, old (led by some Indian guy whose father is a Muslim convert) keep coming to this church and it keeps growing! How? It’s our faith that God will do great things. Listen carefully – if we stop trusting God for great things, we begin to make sense to people. Let’s be a mystery! Let us be known for our faith in a powerful God!

Application: Are you thankful for the life of faith in this church? Are you adding to the faith are you taking away? Are you an asset or are you a liability?

II. RESPONSE IN THANKFULNESS – PRAYER

9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Background: Paul wants the Christians in Rome to know that because of their reputation of faith, he is not only thankful for them but he is also praying for them. Many times people mention their church but it’s not in prayer. It’s in gossip, criticism, anger, and disappointment. If you have a problem with Clearview, start praying for it and see what God will do. He will not only change Clearview but he will also change your heart towards Clearview. But Paul begins the verse with – “For God is my witness.” Now we’ve all said that to someone at some time – “Praying for you.” “We’ll keep you in prayer.” Paul wants them to know that this is not fluff. So he adds, “For God is my witness.” Meaning: God knows that I’m not lying to you. “…whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son.” Meaning: God knows that I am no hypocrite. I serve Him very sincerely from my inward self. “…that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.” And what is Paul praying for? I can think of a few things he must have mentioned in his prayer:

  • God build their faith in You.
  • God help them to not lose heart.
  • God make them more like Jesus.
  • God give them a hunger and thirst for your Word.
  • God ground them in your truth.
  • God protect them from the Enemy.
  • God keep them united, loving, kind, and patient towards each other.
  • God help them to keep winning more and more souls in the kingdom of God.

But there’s something more. Listen to verse 10 “making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.” Paul wants to visit them. Why? Listen to verse 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established. Meaning: Paul wants to strengthen them in their faith. He wants them to be established. How will this happen? Listen to verse 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Meaning: Paul is saying, “I will bring my faith to you and we will put your faith and my faith together so that together we will have a stronger faith – first in the gospel of Jesus Christ and then in the power of God to do the impossible. In the end of his letter to the Christians in Rome, he returns to this. Romans 15   30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.

Isn’t it true that when you get around people of faith, your faith begins to grow? They believe in a big God and you start believing in a big God! They believe that God’s gonna do great things and you start believing that God’s gonna do great things! They believe that nothing is impossible to God and you start believing that nothing is impossible to God! As a pastor my heart’s desire is to get you to build your life unhesitatingly on the gospel and trust God with the impossible here and at home. Then, I need my faith to grow. Bring your faith to me so that my faith will grow. Many of you have done that for me time and time again.

Application: Do you fuel the faith at Clearview or do you quench it? Are people trusting God more at Clearview because of you or are they trusting God less because of you?

Conclusion: In our time people look at the church as non-essential, just something extra. In fact, it is looked upon as more of a burden than a blessing. I’m thankful for my Clearview Church Family. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for this church. I don’t know where my marriage would be if it wasn’t for this church. I don’t know where my children would be if it wasn’t for this church.

Same goes for you – many of you still have your life together because of this church. Many of you have your marriage together because of this church. Many of you have your children walking with God because of this church. Are you thankful for this church family? Do you belong to this church family? Are you saved

WHAT A LIFE DIRECTED BY THE SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE

WHAT A LIFE DIRECTED BY THE SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE – Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson1

This morning we are in Luke 2 for our message titled – “WHAT A LIFE DIRECTED BY THE SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE.” With all the mess that is going on in this world, we desperately need men and women, boys and girls under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Erwin Lutzer said, “To be controlled by the Spirit means that we are not controlled by what happens on the outside but by what is happening on the inside.” Can you imagine what would happen if we were totally controlled by the Holy Spirit?

Luke 2 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation

Overall Background: The incident we just read took place when Joseph and Mary came to the temple to dedicate the Baby Jesus. They encountered a man named Simeon. Listen to his description in verse 25 “…this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. Have you noticed something unusual about this person? Three times we hear the Holy Spirit in his description. He was not a priest or some religious leader, just an ordinary man living under the control of the Spirit.

To some of you this may be a foreign concept. It may even sound weird. Are you telling me to be possessed?!! No. God is Trinity – three in one, Father, Son, and Spirit. When I receive the Son whom the Father sent to be my Savior, then the Spirit becomes my daily companion and helper. To be under the direction of the Holy Spirit means every moment I live in communication with Him. To be under the Holy Spirit means every moment I turn to Him for every need and want in my life. He guides us and helps us in every way.

Illustration: In Mexico mission trip having a translator who was a constant companion and resource. Without him we felt completely lost.

The Holy Spirit is that companion who is our resource and help every moment. He is waiting for us to seek His help.

Simeon was a man who was under the guidance and authority of the Holy Spirit.

Application: Are you a person whose life is directed by the Holy Spirit? How do people describe you? Do they describe you as a person who is under the Holy Spirit? Do they describe you as a person who is led by the Holy Spirit? Do you understand the power that comes into our lives when we are under the authority of the Holy Spirit? By the way, you cannot have the Holy Spirit in your life until you have Jesus in your life.

This morning we will see some marks of a life under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Again, these are not all the marks but just some marks.

 1. GOOD REPUTATION BEFORE PEOPLE AND GOD

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout,

Background: Not a whole lot is given about him but his character is described as just and devout. “Just” in his dealings with people and “devout” in his dealings before God. First, let’s look at “just” = dikaios, which means righteous. Simeon was righteous in how he dealt with people around him – his wife, children, neighbors, co-workers, and community. You could trust him. His word was his bond. If he told you something, you could count on him. How did He have this righteousness? Because the Holy Spirit was upon Him. In John 16:8 Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

We are living in a time where we need 40 pages of signatures to seal one deal. Why? There is no righteousness. People do things for each other but much of it is selfish. The Holy Spirit keeps us righteous before people. By the way, there will come a time when the Holy Spirit will be completely removed, and when that happens 2 Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

Application: How is your reputation with people? The Holy Spirit can help you with that.

Now, let’s look at the second adjective – “devout” = eulabes, which means someone who is faithful to the things of God. Simeon was faithful regarding the things of God – his prayer life, temple participation, and ministry. You could count on him to be faithful to the things of God. How did he have this devotion? Because the Holy Spirit was upon him.

By His very name, the Holy Spirit is holy. When he comes into our lives he begins to root out all that is unholy. Sin has to run. You have to deal with sin. Show me a person who is under the direction of the Holy Spirit and I will show you a person who is trying to live a blameless life. Show me a person who is living in sin and I will show you a person who does not have the Holy Spirit or a person who is not submitted to the Holy Spirit.

Application: How is your reputation before people and God? Are you living a life under the direction of the Holy Spirit? Are you asking Him to help you live the Christian life?

2. HOPE IN THE PROMISES OF GOD

25 “…this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

Background: What was the consolation of Israel? It was the promise of deliverance for the people of Israel. Many times in the Old Testament God promised through the prophets, especially Isaiah, that one day He would deliver His people.

Isaiah 40 1 “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned;

Isaiah 49:13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.

There are many more references that promise the consolation of Israel. Simeon was a man who trusted in the promises that God had given in his book. Show me a person who is under the direction of the Holy Spirit and I will show you a person who believes in this book – the Bible. Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work, I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness.

Application: Are you a hope-filled person? Are you person who believes in the promises of God? The real question is – Are you a person under the control of the Holy Spirit?

3. EYES LOOKING FOR JESUS CHRIST

26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Background: Simeon had received a promise through the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. In spite of what was happening around him, the Holy Spirit had given him the assurance that Jesus was on His way.

Did you know that the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to point you to Jesus? In John 14:26 Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Again, in John 15:26, Jesus said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

My greatest need everyday is to see Jesus but I cannot see Him unless the Holy Spirit reveals Him to me. My selfishness pride, envy, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, lust, greed, and every sin in the book are constantly blocking my view of Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can clear the way so I can see Jesus.

27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, What was the custom of the law? It was almost a month after Jesus was born. According to the law the mother of the male child was unclean for 7 days and then had to be confined for 33 days. Altogether, 40 days had passed since the birth of Jesus and Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus had come to the Temple for 3 important ceremonies: first, purification ceremony for Mary; second, presentation of Jesus as the firstborn to God ceremony; and third, dedication of the firstborn to God’s service ceremony.

May I make an application here: Dedicating our children to God is a very special ceremony. We used to do that as a church but sadly we have gotten away from that. Baby dedication tells God that our children are His gift to us and that we are grateful. It also tells God that we want his hand of blessing, guidance, and protection on them.

The Holy Spirit led Simeon right up to the Baby Jesus. 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed GodSimeon

Application: Who are you looking at this morning? Is it Jesus? Oh I got peace or joy or hope. Wrong answer. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I looked at Christ and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove and it flew away”

4. CROSS AS THE DECIDER OF DESTINY

Now, what follows is known as Nunc Dimittis from the Latin first words “Now dismiss.” 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” 33  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The Holy Spirit enabled Simeon to see people through the cross. There are only two categories of people – those who will rise and fall. In other words, saved and lost. Which one are you? Do you know someone who is lost? The Holy Spirit can help you.

%d bloggers like this: