Steer Your Thoughts by Pastor Abidan Shah

STEER YOUR THOUGHTS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

steeryourthoughtsIntroduction: This is our 5th message in our series “PUTTING ANXIETY TO WORK” and this one is called “STEER YOUR THOUGHTS.”

Matthew 6   25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Bridge: Would you agree that worry is the result of unguided thoughts? Think about it – what happens to children who are left to themselves without proper guidance and discipline? They become monsters. So also our thoughts, if they are left to themselves without proper facts and supervision, they become monsters.

Background of the passage: So far in this series, which began in verse 19, Jesus told us that to deal with worry we have to change our thoughts: change our thoughts about wealth – “Don’t hoard but share”; change our thoughts about other people’s success – “Don’t let your eye be evil but good”; and change our thoughts about who controls your life – “Don’t have two masters. Only Christ.” But all that was to lead us to this section. To get to the heart of worry, we have to change what we fundamentally think about our relationship with God.

Question: What do you believe about God? Do you believe that He cares for your needs? Do you believe that He is a good Father who cares for His children? Do you believe He is a sovereign God who has the best in store for us? Are you saved? Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son…how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

So how do you steer your thoughts?

I. CHANGE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT LIFE. 

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.”

Background: When Jesus made that statement, He was not advocating some vagrant life, with no responsibilities. Neither was He suggesting some monastic life, all detached and otherworldly. Instead, He was teaching His listeners how to have the proper perspective on the daily necessities of life. Think about Jesus’ listeners. Most of them were the common people from first century Palestine. For food, they had to depend on the rainfall and even if they had adequate rainfall, insects, locusts, and wild fire could destroy their crops. For water, they had to rely on wells and springs but what if there was a drought? For clothes, the poor people generally wore woolen garments. At the most they would have one change of clothing but what if there was a fire? By the way, this is how most of the world still lives at this very moment, just day to day.

Jesus was not telling them not to plan for their lives. He was only telling them not to be overcome by “merimnaw.” It’s a Greek word for “worry” that’s much more than daily care. It is “paralyzing anxiety.” We find it used in Psalm 55 in the LXX where David is describing a time of deep trouble and anxiety in his life. In verse 22 he says, “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you.” The word for burden is “merimnaw”. The only way He could rid himself of this paralyzing anxiety is by casting it on God. We could substitute that word here. Jesus was saying – “Do not be burdened about your life.”

Question: Are you burdened about your life? Are you living under this paralyzed anxiety? With the election year upon us, many are wondering what’s going to happen. Is there going to be another financial crisis? Will we lose our jobs, our homes? Will we be able to meet our daily needs? What’s going to happen to our children, our grandchildren?

What is Jesus’ solution? “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Seems like an odd response but think about it for a moment – “Is not life more than our basic necessities?” Animals live only for their daily necessities, minus clothing. We human beings were created for things far greater. We were created in the image of God and with the ability to relate with Him. We were given the gift to create new things and solve problems and improve our standard of life. We were created with godly attributes of love and justice so we could help those who are weak and abused. We were created with a sense of purpose in life so we could go out and build God’s kingdom. One verse that comes to mind is Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Application: What do you think about your life? Do you look beyond your daily necessities? Have you ever stopped and asked God – “Why did you create me?” “What would you have me to do in this world?” Most human beings will never ask that question. Have you? Are you living this life of paralyzed anxiety? Stop asking, “Are we going to make it?” and start asking, “What am I made for?” It’s only when your mind is on greater things that you can deal with the lesser concerns of life.

II. CHANGE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR SELF.

26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Israel Raven 1

Israel Raven 1 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Here Jesus appeals to nature to make a very important point. God didn’t just create this world and leave it to fend for itself. He’s not just the Creator of life but He’s also the Sustainer of life. It’s like in our culture today – “Any man can be a father but a dad is someone who sticks around to take responsibility and provide care after conception.” By the way, Luke in his gospel is even more specific about Jesus’ words and he identifies the birds as ravens. These were unclean birds but God cares for them too. The conclusion Jesus draws is “Are you not of more value than they?”

Israel Raven 2

Israel Raven 2 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

If that wasn’t enough, Jesus gives another illustration from nature. By the way, one of the best cures for anxiety and worry is nature. People think that rest and relaxation is watching TV or going shopping or working in the yard or playing golf. All those things are fine but that’s just substituting one activity for another. True rest is when you actually sleep and true relaxation is when you stop all activity and allow your body to return to zero. Spending time in nature will do that for you more than anything else.

Israel Raven 3

Israel Raven 3 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Israel Raven 4

Israel Raven 4 (All images © Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Listen to verse 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Again, the point is that if God cares for the less desirable and less worthy things in creation, will He not care for the crown of His creation? This may be hard for some of us to understand. We’re living in a world where every effort is made to neutralize any distinction between the creation and us. I love animals and we need to treat them with kindness and compassion. Having said that, there is a world of difference between animals and us. Please don’t blur the lines that God has drawn. God made everything by the word of His mouth but He created us by His own hands. Yes – He gave them life but only we are made in His image. We are of far more value than animals and plants.

Question: Do you know how valuable you are to God? Psalm 8 says, 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen—Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea… Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is biblical self-esteem.

Application: How is your biblical self-esteem? There’s a difference between self-esteem and biblical self-esteem. Self-esteem only asks – “What do you think of your self?” Biblical self-esteem asks – “What do you think God thinks of you?” Do you believe He cares for your daily needs? Do you believe that He has the best in store for you? Do you believe that He won’t abandon you?

III. CHANGE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT BEING A BELIEVER. 

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek.

Background: The biblical concept of God as our Father is without parallel in other religions. Sometimes I hear people from other religions trying to claim it but they are forcing their view on their religious texts and making them say something they’re not. It’s only in the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) and Judeo-Christian writings that we find the belief that God is the Heavenly Father of His people and as their Heavenly Father He provides for them and protects them. Since Gentiles or unbelievers don’t truly believe that God is their Father, it affects how they live their daily lives. They are vexed with worries and anxieties. They are burdened with paralyzing fears over daily necessities of life. They are out there fending for themselves, trying to survive.

Question: Are you constantly living in worries and anxieties? Then you are living more like Gentiles and unbelievers, than as the people of God.

So how should you live? “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” The Greek word for “seek” is “zeteo” and in this context it has the idea of “eagerly seek.” Meaning: Eagerly seek after what God is doing in your life and in this world. Submit to His will and purpose. Join Him in building His kingdom and spreading His righteousness in your life and in the world. As you work for Him, He will take care of you.

Invitation: Whose kingdom are you building? Yours or God’s. If it’s yours, then you will labor and sweat and worry and panic. If it’s God’s, then, as you work for Him, He will take care of you. Are you working for Him? Are you saved? Do you belong to Him?

Anger Management Part Two

ANGER MANAGEMENT – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

anger2This morning we are in part 2 of our miniseries from the Sermon on the Mount called “ANGER MANAGEMENT.”

Matthew 5 21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Overall Background: Last weekend we set the foundation for understanding anger. Anger, we learned, is a divine emotion – When you study the Bible, it doesn’t take long to see that God gets angry more than anyone else. We also learned that anger is a derived emotion – When God’s Holiness and God’s Love meet, God’s Anger follows. It does 2 things: First, it sets out to destroy sin; and second, it brings us in line with His righteousness. We see that throughout the Old Testament. But God also knew that we are prone to sin and we cannot stand against His anger. Psalm 103:14 “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Hence, since the beginning of time God initiated a plan to pour His anger against sin on His own Son. Being fully God and without sin, only Jesus could take God’s wrath upon Himself. Isaiah 53 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 …And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. What was the result? Romans 5:9 “…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Isn’t that amazing how God’s wrath poured upon Jesus has saved us from the terrible judgment to come?!! But it doesn’t end there. All that so far is negative. God’s anger also does something very positive for us – 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God’s anger is not just some negative destructive force. When the dust settles from His wrath, there is something wonderful waiting for us. We now have the nature of Christ. Question: Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior? If not, you’re still under God’s wrath. John 3:16 says it clearly.

Now for our message today – We are made in the image of God and just like Him we’ve been given certain emotions like love, joy, confidence, satisfaction, and even anger. Just like God, anger is given to deal with sin and bring God’s righteousness into this world. Unfortunately, just like other emotions, we have abused and misused it no end.

Question: How are you using anger in your life? Are you known as an angry person? Are you known as hot-tempered? Do you agree that you have a short fuse?

This morning we will understand the difference between right and wrong use of anger:

21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ Jesus begins by quoting the sixth of the Ten Commandments. But then He raises the bar of righteousness in the next verse – 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause.”

Background: Some of your translations might omit the phrase “without a cause.” Many Bibles have a little footnote or a comment in the margin that goes something like this – “‘without a cause’ does not exist in the earliest Greek manuscripts.” I’ve studied this subject for the past 17 years and it’s the focus of my PhD work. This is what I’ve found – even though a couple of early manuscripts do not have this word, it is found overwhelmingly in all the remaining manuscripts, almost all the early versions, and almost all the early church fathers/pastors preached on it. Unlike our English translation – “without a cause” = three words, the Greek is just one word – “ekei.” It’s very possible that it was accidentally omitted.

But even if that’s not the case, we know that all anger is not sin – Psalm 4:4 “Be angry, and do not sin.” And Paul says in Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath…” Jesus Himself got angry several times so it doesn’t make sense for Him to denounce anger completely.

So what is Anger with a Cause? The Bible gives us several illustrations of this anger. There is Anger With a Cause–

  1. When people harden their hearts – You remember the account in Exodus where Pharaoh kept hardening his heart and refusing to let God’s people go. God told Moses that He was about to send the ultimate plague and the first born of man and beast will die. So Moses went before Pharaoh and begged him to let the Hebrews go. But as before his heart was hardened. So listen to Exodus 11:8 “Then he went out from Pharaoh in great anger.” Why was Moses so angry? Because Pharaoh was willing to destroy his own people, even his own firstborn son, for his foolish pride.

Here’s the point – it should anger us when people harden their hearts towards God. Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not suggesting that we should call people names and hurt them. That would be sin. This kind of anger seeks to prove God in the face of hardened hearts. Jesus demonstrated this in Mark 3:5 “And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.”

  1. When leaders compromise the Gospel – God had given specific commands on how to perform the various sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament. The priests had to eat the goat of the sin offering in the holy place. It was not just to burn on the altar. Why? Because all these offerings and sacrifices pointed to the Lamb of God. You cannot pick and choose Jesus. But listen to Leviticus 10 16 Then Moses made careful inquiry about the goat of the sin offering, and there it was—burned up. And he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying, 17 “Why have you not eaten the sin offering in a holy place, since it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?

Here’s the point – it should anger us when people compromise the gospel. When the simple gospel of trusting in the blood of Christ is compromised, we need to speak up. Paul talked about this to the Galatian church. They were being influenced by Judaizers who were compelling them to be circumcised. Listen to Paul in Galatians 2 11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed…” What did Peter do that was so wrong? 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?…16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ… We don’t have to be hateful or mean-spirited but when the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is compromised, we are obligated to get angry and confront and clarify. Unfortunately, we fuss about side issues.

  1. When people act like they know better than God – You remember when God told the Israelites to only gather the Manna for the day but the people disobeyed God and decided to store some. God wanted them to trust Him for their daily bread but they disobeyed. So listen to Exodus 16:20 “…But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Why was Moses angry with them? Because they thought they did not trust God and wanted to do things their way.

Here’s the point – it should anger us when people think they know better than God. We find a similar example in Matthew 16 21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” I’m not suggesting we call each other the Devil but it should anger us when people act like they know better than God.

  1. When we see the innocent being mistreated – You remember the account when Saul became jealous of David and tried every opportunity to have him killed. Saul’s own son Jonathan helped David escape and even confronted his father for his behavior. One day there was a heated argument between the two and Saul called him all kinds of names and told him to go find David so he could kill him but Jonathan refused. Listen to 1 Samuel 20 32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David. 34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully.

Here’s the point – It should anger us when we see the innocent being mistreated, no matter who or where they are. One reason Jesus cleansed the temple in anger is because the innocent multitude couldn’t even get to the temple to worship God in peace.

  1. When Christians give a bad testimony – In the book of Nehemiah we read how some Jewish people were taking advantage of each other to the point that they were even buying each other’s sons and daughters as slaves. Nehemiah 5 6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 8 And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

Here’s the point – it should anger us when Christians give a bad testimony. We are a family redeemed by the blood of Christ. We should speak up when we hear someone destroying the family name. Paul got angry with the Corinthians because they were tolerating open sin and destroying their testimony. I Corinthians 4:21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! Paul is angry because in technicality they were destroying their testimony.

We can go on and on with more examples, here’s the point – There is a place for righteous anger or right use of anger. It motivates us to step out of our comfort zones and reach the world, to go where no one wants to go, to speak for those who do not have a voice, to stand firm for the gospel (by grace through faith in Jesus alone), and to live above approach. What gets you angry? Lack of sleep, selfishness, someone did not give you what you hoped, someone gave you what you did not want.

If you ask the Holy Spirit, He will help you live a life that is pleasing to God. He will enable you to be moved by the things that move God. He will give you patience for those things that do not matter. He will change your perspective on life.

Are you saved? That’s where it begins

Trust and Obey

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here.

TRUST AND OBEY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

trustandobey This weekend we’re back in our series on the Sermon on the Mount titled “Salt and Light.” So many of you enjoyed the Beatitudes! But it’s about to get better! Jesus is about to raise the bar of discipleship. Please turn to Matthew 5:17 for our message titled – “Trust and Obey.”

Matthew 5 17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Mount of Beatitudes 1

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

Mount of Beatitudes

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

Overall Background: Verse 17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Back in January of this year Nicole and I stood around the very spot where Jesus spoke those words. It was everything and more than we had ever imagined. The atmosphere was just heavenly – the Sea of Galilee in the background, the sun shining on the beautiful green hillside, and the natural amphitheater carrying His voice far away. We could almost hear Him say – “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” You can almost visualize the multitudes and the disciples listening with rapt attention. But just when you think everyone was positive and supportive, Jesus says – “Stop thinking that I’m tearing down the Law or the Prophets.” Who was thinking that? Not the multitudes or the disciples but there was another group in that crowd, whose intentions were not that pure. They were there not to hear the truth but to find some fault. They were there to trap Jesus and accuse him of inciting the people to break the Law. These were the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus knew that and so He affirmed the authority of the Law but then also added in verse 20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” You can almost picture Him pointing towards the scribes and the Pharisees and saying, “I’m not here to destroy the Law but fulfill it. And guess what – If you think their standards are high, mine are much higher.”

This message is very critical for our personal life and for our culture today. First, for the believer – we’re living in a generation where some Christians almost find a sense of thrill in crossing previously established boundaries. They act giddy like a teenager first time away from home, staying up past their bedtime of 9 o’clock, no one to tell them to go to bed, they’re all grown up, and can do whatever they want. “No rules for me cause I’m free in Jesus! If you tell me I’m wrong, then you are so legalistic. And just cause you say I can’t, I’ll show you I can.” Yes – Jesus did come to set you free but not from holiness. I’m not talking about being old-fashioned. I’m talking about being holy.

Then for the unbeliever this message is important – Couple of weeks ago, when the Supreme Court gave their decision legalizing same-sex marriage, people were on the Internet expressing their views and opinions and Nicole posted an article on how this decision does make a difference in our lives. By the way, it’s naïve to think it won’t. But someone she knew in High School came by and began to challenge her and one thing that really got me was, he asked, “What does Jesus say about homosexuality?” He was implying that we’re no longer obligated to the Old Testament Laws, just to Jesus. I came by and typed – Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law…”

Listen carefully – Trusting Jesus does not absolve you from obeying God’s commandments. If anything, you will see in this message that Jesus made them even harder. Here are several questions: Are you an obedient Christian? Are you obedient to God’s Law or Manmade Rules (Legalism)? Are you saved? 3 questions in this passage:

I. WHAT IS THE LAW? 

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. Several questions here:

Question #1 – Who came up with the Law? Exodus 24:12 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” God gave His Law to His people Israel through His servant Moses. God is the author of the Law. Before we abrogate or abolish the law we need to make sure that God is okay with it!

Question #2 – What did it contain? First and foremost, it contained the moral Law of God. It was reflected in the life of people like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham who walked blamelessly before God. Keep in mind that the Law does not begin at the 10 Commandments but in Genesis 1:1. The books of the Law are actually the Torah, the first five books of the Pentateuch. The 10 Commandments are a summary of the moral Law of God by which people were already living. But later God expanded that moral Law and intertwined it with civil laws, penal code, and ceremonial laws and gave it to Moses.

Question #3 – Was the Law given to save the people? Absolutely not! It was given to teach people the character of God. Leviticus 20 7 Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you. What else? Deuteronomy 4 5 “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. 6 Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ Meaning: Keeping these laws would set them apart as a distinct people before the watching world.

Our message is far from over. There’s much to be clarified. But let’s get one thing straight – God’s Law reflects God’s character. Any person or society that begins to trash the Law of God will find himself/herself/itself on the trash heap of history.

Application: How do you see the law of God?

II. IS IT ENOUGH TO KEEP THE LAW?

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Background: Although Jesus did not come to destroy the law of God; He did come to fulfill it. What did Jesus fulfill? He fulfilled all the ceremonial aspects of the law. He was the original of which all the laws, rituals, and sacrifices were just a pattern. This is not a new interpretation. God had clearly told Moses that all that He was telling Him to do and make for the tabernacle and then later for the temple was according to a pattern. Listen to Exodus 25:40 “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” The civic and ceremonial laws were simply a prototype or a model. Jesus came and fulfilled the pattern.

I’m tempted to run to the New Testament – to Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews – to prove this even more but I’m holding back because some people believe that Paul and others have changed the way the people of Israel looked at the Law. God’s people understood that their civic and ceremonial laws were simply a picture of what was to come in Christ.

When they lost sight of that, the prophets got on to them:

1Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Isaiah 1 11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats…13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting…18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

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.

I don’t have the time to go through all the prophecies about the coming of Jesus. He was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. The people of Israel had to look to Him to be saved. Jesus said something else here – 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (There is more that God has promised to His people that still remains to be fulfilled.)

Application: What are you trusting in to be saved? Are you trusting in the 10 Commandments? Are you trusting in your own personal 10 Commandments? Your good works, traditions, and good intentions will still send you straight to hell.

III. SHOULD WE OBEY THE LAW OF GOD TODAY?

19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Background: Even though the ceremonial and the civic laws are no longer applicable, the moral law stands just as valid today as it ever did. That’s why homosexuality is a sin. We don’t go around stoning people but God’s character comes through His laws and if He called it a sin back then, it’s still sin.

But Jesus has taken the standard much higher. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Just when you’d think that Jesus would laugh over sin, He raises the bar. Then He goes through a series of “You’ve heard it said… But I say to you.” Regarding Anger – 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Regarding Lust – 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Regarding Enemies – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

How can we live up to such high standards? We can’t without the help of the Holy Spirit. Are you saved?

The Blessing of Standing Up for What’s Right

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here.

THE BLESSING OF STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

standingupforwhatsright

This is our eighth and final message in our series on the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount and today’s message is titled, “THE BLESSING OF STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT.” Keep in mind the series called SALT AND LIGHT on the Sermon on the Mount is far from over.

Matthew 5 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Overall Background: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This final beatitude is very different from the rest. It deals with a subject that is very painful and has brought great sorrow to the people of God through the centuries. It has tested the reality of their faith and the firmness of their convictions. In fact, I don’t like to talk about it much because I had to experience it growing up. The subject is Persecution. Simply defined, it means – “any form of harassment and aggression against you because of your faith in Jesus Christ.” I’m sure we’ve all heard of the persecution of the early church and through the Middle Ages, and even now in Russia, China, and the Middle East. Unfortunately, persecution is not that far away anymore. It’s already on your doorstep. Ask Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the Oregon-based Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple and were fined $135,000. Eventually, they were forced to close their business.

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Sweet Cakes by Melissa

Sweet Cakes by Melissa

Klein Family

Klein Family

Application: What would you have done? Would you have stood up for righteousness or would you have given in? How would you handle persecution? Here’s a deeper question – Is there enough evidence in your life for the world persecute you? Are you saved?

Many of you have told me how much you have enjoyed this series. If you ask me, this is the most important message in this entire series on the Beatitudes. It is important for us individually, for our children, for our grandchildren, for our church, and for our nation’s future. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you like never before. 3 questions again:

I. WHY DOES PERSECUTION COME? 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…”

Background: Jesus makes it clear that persecution comes for righteousness sake. Now, what is righteousness? Remember, the fourth beatitude – Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” In this context, righteousness is not just the imputed righteousness of Christ – the righteousness that is accounted to us as Paul talks about it in Romans 4, the forensic righteousness – but it is the daily practical righteousness. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that brings about an external change. Because we are saved we begin to live a life that day-by-day pleases God, that step-by-step obeys His word, and that moment-by-moment looks more and more like Jesus Christ. There’s a difference in the way we walk, talk, see, and hear. There is a difference in the way we work, play, shop, and live in this world. There is a difference in the way we treat our friends and families. There is also a difference in the way we treat our enemies and our opponents. In short, it’s not the righteousness that saves but the righteousness that shows that I’m saved.

How does the world react to this kind of righteousness in us? Some people admire us. Some people aspire to be like us. But, there are others who avoid us and even attack us. This is persecution for righteousness sake. Jesus was actually quoting the Old Testament when He gave this beatitude. Psalm 37:12 The wicked plots against the just (righteous), And gnashes at him with his teeth. Psalm 119 157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies…161 Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. But Jesus gave a deeper reason for this hatred. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, if you are persecuted for being godly, it’s because you have the kingdom of heaven. What is the kingdom of heaven? Do you remember the first beatitude? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of Heaven is the rule of God through the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who have received Jesus as their Savior. Remember what Paul said in Romans 14:17 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Persecution is the assurance that the Holy Spirit is in your life. Listen carefully – “The real reason the world hates you is not you but the one who is in you.”

For e.g. I used to work at a job laying Cat 5’s all over the state. The guys I worked with knew what I was doing. Some of them were fine with me but others hated me and I never understood that. Maybe its because I wanted to go home rather than drink and go to the doll house.

Application: The question is not “Are you facing persecution?” The real question is “Are you godly?” 2 Tim. 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Here’s a different way of asking that question: “Do you have the Holy Spirit in your life?” If you’re not saved, then you don’t have the Holy Spirit and there’s no reason for the world to hate you.

II. HOW SHOULD WE HANDLE PERSECUTION? 

Background: Unfortunately, most messages end with – “Persecution proves that America is not a Christian nation anymore.” “It’s just gonna get worse and worse.” “It’s just the signs of the times.” The problem with these statements is that it is contrary to what the Bible says. Thank goodness Jesus told us what to do! Listen to verse 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Who are the prophets before you? We don’t have time to recount each of them but here are just a few:

Moses – Exodus 17:3   And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”

Jeremiah – Jeremiah 20 1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.

Daniel – Daniel 6  4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”…16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.

Application: This is a hard one to apply because many of us haven’t faced hard-core persecution. Let me ask in a different way – how do you respond when you get slighted, mistreated, and neglected? Do you rejoice? Are you exceedingly glad? Do you consider your great reward in heaven? Or do you pitch a fit? Do you pay back ten fold? Our response to our trials is just a precursor of our response to persecution.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

13 “You are the salt of the earth;

Background: Keep in mind that this is all one message. Just when you think that the message is over, the most important point is about to come. We use just a pinch of salt in our food. That’s all we typically need. What’s the point? Persecution has a way of thinning out the crowd down to a pinch. What’s happening in America is that God is weeding out the imposters from the real deals. The problem in America is too many people are pretending to be something they’re not which is hindering those who are really searching for God from coming to Him. That’s why I believe that the greatest revival and awakening is coming very soon to America.

Now the crowd is down to a pinch but the pinch becomes indispensable. Just like salt – it’s a very small in proportion to the whole meal but it changes the flavour and the taste of the meal. “but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” What happens to those who have lost the flavour of Christianity?It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Churches are closing all over America but that’s not a bad thing. Too many sincere people are stuck because of some obligation and some loyalty but it’s killing the cause of Christ. But a new day is coming!

What will happen in this new day? 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Have you ever driven towards a big city at night? You can see the glow towards the sky. Those who’s truly have the light will shine brightly in this dark world and people near and far will come to them. By the way, I love it when people refer to our church as “the church on the hill.” This is not the time to hide your light but to shine it even more. Our job is not to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. But listen to verse 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Personal Illustration: As a 9-10 year old, I remember coming back home from school and trying to turn on the lights and the fan and nothing happened. Imagine 115° temperatures in the hot summer and not having any electricity to turn on the fan, forget about any air condition. I went to the kitchen and asked my grandmother if the power was out and she told me that our electrical connection has been cut. “Why?” “Because we’re on the same line as the church. They cut the power to the church and so our power is out as well.” I remember that night my mom crying as she went around the house lighting candles and oil lamps. We ate in the dark by candlelight, not something unusual because when power would go out, we would do that. But this time it was different. There was no estimated time when services would be restored. We went to bed early that night obviously, hoping against hope that somewhere in the middle of the night the fan would start blowing but it never did. The next morning, no hot showers. This was for real. Later that week, my dad was able to talk to a so-called “Christian” neighbor who was kind enough to run a single line to our house, just enough to turn on a light bulb. At least, we could have light. Unfortunately, some time later he got upset with us for some reason and cut the line. I think that hurt much more than the first time. But that experience and many more shaped me into the person I am today.

Home church in India (1)

Home church in India (1)

Home church in India (2)

Home church in India (2)

Home church in India (3)

Home church in India (3)

Home church in India (4)

Home church in India (4)

People have a lot of false ideas about persecution in America. Some think that it’s going to get worse and worse and it’s time to fly out. Others think that it automatically grows the church. Neither is true when you study the Bible carefully. First, God thins out the numbers to those who are truly godly. But He doesn’t stop there. Then, He holds them up like the pinch of salt and a little oil lamp to change the world for the better.

Listen to verse 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Imagine once again people in America praising your Father in heaven!

Persecution is not what God is doing to Christians in America but what God is doing through Christians for America.

Are you saved? Are you living a godly life?

The Blessing of a Spiritual Appetite

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

THE BLESSING OF A SPIRITUAL APPETITE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofaspiritualappetite

We’re in our series on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 called, “SALT AND LIGHT.” This morning we will be looking at the fourth beatitude and our message is called, “THE BLESSING OF A SPIRITUAL APPETITE.”

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

Overall Background: 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” On the surface, this beatitude seems very simple to understand and easy to apply but it’s anything but that. Look at it carefully and you realize that there’s more to it than what you think – 1. What is righteousness? 2. Why do we have to hunger and thirst for it? After all Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 61:10 “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” I don’t have to work for it. I only have to trust Jesus for it. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Keep in mind that the Beatitudes build upon each other. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we develop an appetite for spiritual things like never before. There’s a new hunger and thirst in our lives. You know that you are accepted by God because of Jesus Christ but now you want to live a life that looks like Jesus Christ. It is a life that is simultaneously full and not full enough, quenched and unquenchable, satiated and insatiable, satisfied and yet always yearning for more.

Challenge: Does this describe your life? Do you hunger and thirst for the things of God or are you the type who can take it or leave it? Here’s a deeper question – have you ever had a spiritual appetite? A lost person is a dead person and a dead person cannot have an appetite.

This morning as we walk through this message, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying in your heart. Hopefully, by the end of this message your spiritual stomachs will start growling. If you’ve never had a spiritual appetite, we pray that you will be born-again and begin your spiritual meal. Three questions again this morning:

I. WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS?

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Background: When we hear the word “righteousness” in this beatitude, we need to first look at what it means in its immediate context.

Meaning: Two things in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness does not come naturally. You have to seek after it. Second, when you truly seek after this kind of righteousness, then you are filled. The words are in the passive voice referring to God. In other words, you seek after it and God fills you up. So we have – This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. But that still doesn’t tell us much about this “righteousness.” Let’s go beyond this verse to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount –

5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…

Meaning: Two things again in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness brings about an external and noticeable change in our lives. It’s not just some internal righteousness. Secondly, it does not always evoke a pleasant and favorable response. Sometimes the response is negative, hostile, and hateful. In other words, some of those who don’t have this righteousness persecute the ones who do have it. What do we have now? This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. People can see it and some of those who don’t have it persecute those who do.

5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Meaning: Two things again in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness can be faked. Jesus is saying, “You gotta do better than the hypocritical scribes and the Pharisees.” Second, if its fake then it can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven. So let’s see it again – This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. People can see it and some of those who don’t have it persecute those who do. Fake righteousness can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven.

6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Meaning: This time righteousness is connected to the kingdom of God. If you remember, kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven is the rule of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

So let’s connect the dots. What is this righteousness in this context? It is the work of the Holy Spirit that leads us to want to live a life that pleases God and looks more and more like Jesus Christ. It brings about external change that causes some people to be hostile. Those who fake this are not in the kingdom of heaven – under the control of the Holy Spirit. God promises to take care of those who really hunger and thirst for it.

Application: Does this describe you? Has there been a real change in your life? Is the Holy Spirit working in your heart causing you to yearn for the things of God? This does not mean that you are perfect but you are definitely not fake.

II. HOW TO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR IT? 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

In America it is very hard to understand hunger and thirst. If you’re hungry, go in the kitchen and make yourself a sandwich. If you’re still hungry, get a bag of chips or some cookies or some ice cream. If you’re hungry and don’t want to work for it, then get in your car and go through a drive through and get what you want. If you’re hungry and want somebody to wait on you, then go inside the restaurant and order what you want. What if you’re thirsty? Go to the kitchen sink and get some water. If you’re thirsty and don’t want water, then you have soft drinks, sweet tea, milk, juice, and other beverages we’re not going to name. We’re living in the land of milk and honey. I’m not saying there are no hungry people in America. There are people, especially some children in America, who would love to have what you threw in the trashcan last night. Overall we don’t understand hunger and thirst.

Illustration: Come to India with me and I will show you what real hunger and thirst looks like. Children walking around on the streets with their bellies bloated not because they ate a lot of food but because they have Kwashiorkor – protein malnutrition that swells their bellies. I have seen children so weak that they could barely walk. They have Marasmus. I’ve seen a brother and sister fighting over a piece of bread on the street. We have the luxury of all these drinks but I’ve seen people drink water from places that I wouldn’t use to water my lawn. They have Cholera and Typhoid.

Let me cut to the chase – If you’re not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, it could be a symptom of a deeper problem.

  • You are already stuffed. What are people stuffed with? Entertainment, Hobbies, Sports, and Toys. Not that all these things are bad in themselves but they cannot give you the nutrition that you need for your spiritual lives. No wonder many Christians are walking around with Spiritual Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.”
  • You are eating wrong spiritual food. What are you eating and drinking spiritually? If you are listening, watching, and reading the wrong biblical stuff, you will have Spiritual Cholera and Typhoid.

What are the consequences of a poor diet? It affects our relationship with God and with each other. We don’t have faith, hope, joy, peace, and wisdom. Instead, we have anger, bitterness, wrath, envy, jealousy, misunderstandings, and all the other junk. No wonder our churches are in such a mess! Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? Sometimes people come to church one Sunday and say “feed me.” My question: “How long since you ate?” It’s been a year! Imagine if you missed your meal for a year – 365 X 3 = 1095 meals! By the time a put a bib around their neck, they’re on the way out. “I went to church/bible study and it didn’t help me.” Same goes if you miss a week – 7 X 3 = 21 meals!

Application: How is your spiritual diet? Are you truly seeking after the things of God? Are you daily feeding upon His Word? Are you daily submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you dealing with sin harshly and resting in the righteousness of Christ?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Background: When people truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, God does the filling. The Greek word is “chortazomai” which means “fattening animals” or “being stuffed.” Spiritually malnutritioned people are a very poor representation of Jesus Christ. They are like the Snickers commercial – “You’re not you when you are hungry.” They make decisions that are shameful and embarrassing. They hurt people around them. They act in ways that are contrary to the Word of God. They actually repel people from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the world sees Christians who are stuffed with the right food and drink, the Holy Spirit holds them as an advertisement of what Jesus can do for them. They may not be perfect or have all that they want or they may have their struggles but in their hearts and on their faces there is the smile of contentment.

Invitation: Which one are you? Come to Jesus. He said in John 6 48 I am the bread of life…51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 7 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Salt and Light: The Myth of a Secular Nation

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

SALT AND LIGHT: THE MYTH OF A SECULAR NATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

saltandlightWe are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we come to Matthew 5 to what Augustine called the “De Sermone Domini in Monte” = Sermon on the Mount – the passage in which Jesus gave the Beatitudes, the Six Antithesis, the Lord’s Prayer, the Golden Rule, and other important principles of the Christian life. With that in mind, today we will begin a long miniseries titled, “SALT AND LIGHT – THE MYTH OF A SECULAR NATION.” There is something in this series that is very vital for our personal lives, our families, our church, our community, and our nation.

Matthew 5:13-14 (Click to watch video of reading by the Mount of Beatitudes)   13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Overall Background: You may not know but the Sermon on the Mount has been discussed and debated ever since it was first written. As early as the first century we know of a document called the Didache that tells us that the early church struggled with how to obey such high standards that Jesus gave to His disciples and to the multitudes. People throughout the centuries have questioned if it was even possible to apply these rules and could it be that they were meant for another time and another place. Some people claimed that this passage was only meant for those who lived before the cross and that Jesus did not expect them to obey them but was just showing them how God’s standard of holiness was too high and how much they needed His grace in their lives. Others claimed that the list of righteousness and holy living has nothing to do with the past or the present but with the future millennial kingdom. In other words, there has to be an ideal environment for this high standard to be achieved.

So what do we do with the Sermon on the Mount? Do we just skip over it? I believe that the Sermon on the Mount is for every Christian of every generation. When you truly study this passage in its context you realize that Jesus did not give this sermon just to make us feel helpless before the holiness of God or to make us feel hopeful for some future Kingdom of God. He meant this sermon to be obeyed by all believers of all ages. There are some powerful truths embedded in these verses – truths that will change the way we live the Christian life, truths that will bless our homes and our families, truths that will change the way we function as a church, truths that will transform our community, and truths that will change the direction of our nation.

The Sermon on the Mount is a kind of Christian life that not only brings personal blessings but it also transforms the world around us. It’s not a life that runs from the world or a life that compromises with the world but a life that seasons and brightens the world around us. Daily I come across people who are either fed up with the world or fearful of the world. The Sermon on the Mount challenges us to live in such a way that the world sees our good works and glorifies our Father in heaven.

Application: Do you think we need this kind of a Christian life? Do you think our community needs this kind of a life? Do you think our nation needs God’s blessing? Are you being the salt and light in this world? Let’s ask a deeper question – are you saved?

This morning we won’t look at just one passage but several passages from the Sermon on the Mount. We will set the foundation for the rest of the series. If we get this message, we will get the rest of the series. 3 things stand out in this Sermon:

I. JESUS DID NOT CALL US TO A LIFE OF ISOLATION FROM THE WORLD. 

Matthew 5 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them…

Background: Some people think that this proves that Jesus did not want the multitudes. “He saw the multitudes and went up the mountain with His disciples.” Not true. Let’s go to the end of the sermon in 7 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 8:1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. This was not a private lesson just for the disciples.

How did the multitudes find Him? Let’s go to the verses immediately preceding the sermon on the Mount – Matthew 4 23 And Jesus went King of Kings Sermon on the Mountabout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people…25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

Bottom line: The multitudes did not find Jesus. He went and found them. One of the problems in our churches is that we are either running from the multitudes or we are waiting for them to find us. We like to talk about how bad the world is and how far we have come and how things are not what they used to be. Sometimes we’re doing everything we can to keep the world out. Make no mistake – we need to stay away from worldliness but not stay away from people. There’s a big difference. Jesus was not worldly but He loved people. He went out and met the needs of the people and then people followed him.

This does not mean that He was naïve about the multitudes. What kind of people were in the multitudes? Matthew 4:24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, (What do sick people do? They moan and groan and complain.) and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Do you think some of them fussed with each other? Do you think some were greedy, lustful, critical, and demanding? Of course! Ministry is messy. Jesus did not consider the crowd to be a burden. Sometimes we tend to think that the crowd is a burden. You’ll hear things like – “We got too many people here now.” “I don’t know every body anymore.” “It’s hard to keep up.” “I liked it when it was small.” Jesus loves this! It’s for the people that He came.

If Christianity is going to survive in America, it will have to go to the multitudes and that will be messy but that’s all right. God has not called us to isolation. He wants us out there seeking and saving that which was lost.

For e.g. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, learned from George Whitfield that if change were to come in England, they would have to go outside the church to fields and the docks and the markets. At first Wesley didn’t like it. He was too traditional. But on April 1, 1739 Wesley preached to a group gathered on Nicholas Street. Guess which passage? The Sermon on the Mount! He was chastised by church leaders but listen to what he wrote in his journal on July 11, 1739: “Permit me to speak plainly…God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in another’s parish; that is, in effect, to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man? “I look upon all the world as my parish…” England was riddled with immorality, skepticism, atheism, and the coming of Wesley saved it. He went to the people. We’re looking for new ways to grow our churches. Maybe we need to try the Jesus way!

Application: What do you think about the multitudes? Do you run from them? Do you spend your time criticizing them? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and save them? If not, step out of the way and let others do it.

II. JESUS DID NOT CALL US TO A LIFE OF COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD 

2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Background: Just when you think that Jesus would laugh over sin, He raises the bar. Sometimes we think that in order to win the world we have to become like the world. Nothing is further from the truth. In the weeks ahead I’ll be preaching on each of these beatitudes. Let me just tell you – the Standard is high, very high!

Here’s more – 4 Blessed are those who mourn, (Some were complaining) For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, (Some were proud) For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, (Some were hungering for the things of this world) For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, (Some were bitter and hateful) For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, (Some had hidden sins) For they shall see God.

Sermon on the Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Sermon on the Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

If we want God’s blessing in our lives, it has to be the way of holiness and righteousness. We can’t go around that. In fact in Matthew 5:20 Jesus says to them, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees and the scribes at a high standard but Jesus said – “Your standard better be higher then theirs if you want to get to heaven.” Then He goes through a series of “You’ve heard it said… But I say to you.” Regarding Anger – 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Regarding Lust – 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Nothing destroys our testimony before the world than hypocrisy and hidden sin.

Application: How is your sin life right now? Is there hate in your heart? Is there anger in your life? Is there unforgiveness towards someone? Is there lust? Is there greed? Are you having trouble seeing God? Could it be because “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”

III. A LIFE OF BLESSING AND RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT TRANSFORMS THE WORLD.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

Background: Just when you think Jesus is only interested in our personal spiritual lives He makes a statement that I feel is one of the greatest passages in the entire Bible. Salt seasons our food. It makes it worth eating. But if the salt loses its flavor then it is worthless for the food. It has to be thrown away. People just walk over it.

Christianity is being trampled upon in America. It’s because Christians have lost their flavor.

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

For e.g. As you know, Nicole and I went to Israel in January. One thing that really got me were the ultra Orthodox. They reminded me of the Pharisees and the scribes, maybe not in every aspect but regarding tradition. These people wear black robes, black hats, and black shoes. They have long sideburns and they’re constantly doing their Torah reading and mumbling their prayers. They are an oddity. They’re different. They’re strange. They’re judgmental. I asked our guides about them and both of them had some not so nice things to say. Both our guides were Jewish but secular Jewish.

I thought about our churches in America and Christians in America. In some ways, we have become an oddity. We have become different and strange. By that I’m not saying that we are different as in God’s people different but different as in old, outdated, harmless, naïve, flavorless, and “matter of time before they’re extinct people.”

Jesus went on to say in verse 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Wayne Grudem in his book “Politics according to the Bible” writes about the work of historian Alvin Schmidt. He notes that “Christianity and Christian influence on the government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy in the Western world; prohibiting the burning alive of women in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education for all children in a number of European countries; and outlawing slave trade and slavery.

I’m amazed at how some Christians have been backing away from the public square when we should be the ones taking the public square. The reason we have the freedom we do and the blessings we do is because this nation was founded to be the salt in the light of the world. The reason we are compassionate towards people, animals, the less fortunate, the ones who are sidelined, and abused is because of Christianity. We have been beneficiaries of someone else’s faithfulness. Much has changed. Either we are hiding our light or we have a false light or we have no light.

When you and I begin to live the way Christians were meant to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the life of Christ in us, with the word of God on our lips and in our hearts, we become the salt and the light of the world. Do you want to know why the world and America and our community is in such a mess? Stop blaming Hollywood. Stop blaming the politicians. Stop blaming the atheists and the sexually immoral. They’re just living by their nature. Start looking in the mirror. If our Christian lives were what they were supposed to be, this world would be a better place. If we were teaching our children how to live the blessed life, they would be the change makers in our society today.

It’s not too late. Today’s the day to begin. First, if you are not saved, you need to get saved right now. Let’s go a step further – what are you doing right now to impact our community? What are you doing to make this 30-mile radius the best place on earth? Are you praying for our nation? Are you getting involved in politics? It’s not enough to preach the gospel. It’s also important to impact the culture. This is not just so we can keep preaching but also so that our society will remain civil, kind, compassionate, and blessed.

By the way, what did Jesus say in the Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Meaning: The very first thing that we are to pray for after glorifying God is for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

TWO GIFTS WORTH OPENING THIS CHRISTMAS

TWO GIFTS WORTH OPENING THIS CHRISTMAS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Two Gifts Worth Opening

 This morning in our series on the Life of Christ we come to John 1 for our message titled – “TWO GIFTS WORTH OPENING THIS CHRISTMAS.” All of us at some point have received a gift from a loved one that has been a let down and a disappointment. We were hoping for this but we got this.

John 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Overall Background: In the passage we just read John tells us twice about two gifts that were given in Jesus. Listen again to verse 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Now listen also to verse 17 “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Twice the two gifts that came in Jesus are mentioned – Grace and Truth.

But now here’s an important question: When John says in verse 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,” is he just talking about himself and the first disciples and the early church? Were the gifts of grace and truth just for those among whom He dwelt physically? Too bad for us who were not born in the first century. Wish you could’ve seen Jesus. You would’ve received grace and truth. The answer to that is earlier in verse 12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Meaning: In the context, the gifts are for everyone who has ever received Jesus as Savior and has become a child of God. If that wasn’t clear, John makes it clear in verse 16“of his fullness we have all received.” “All” even includes some who will receive Jesus this Sunday morning. Your gifts are waiting for you to open!

Application: Question to those who claim to be Christians – “Have you opened your gifts?” Of course, I’m not talking about what’s sitting under the tree. I’m talking about the gifts of grace and truth. “Are you helping others open their gifts?” Question to those who’ve never received Jesus – “Do you realize the wonderful gifts God has wrapped for you in Jesus?” My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will make these gifts so appealing that you will not wait even a single moment but tear into them!

Let’s open these gifts –

 1. PREPARATION FOR THE GIFTS

Listen to verse 17 “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

What was the Law of Moses? The Law (nomoj) in this context refers to all the rules and regulations in the Pentateuch that God had given to his people Israel through Moses.

Why did God give the Law? Initially, he gave the law to temporarily protect his people from the Canaanites. In Genesis 15, it talks about the Moses by Gustave Dore“iniquity of the Amorites.” He gave His Law so that Israel would not become like its neighbors (Galatians 3:19). If you want to know what the Canaanites were like, just read the Old Testament law backwards. But there was another reason why God gave the law. It was to help them realize that they could never live up to God’s standards. The law was a measuring stick. The people were to stand against the measuring stick of the law and every time they did they realized they were still far from God’s standard of holiness. They needed help. The law was never the final destination. It was only a reminder of how sinful they really were and how much they needed a mediator. That’s why every law came with some sacrifice when broken. Some animal had to pay the price because the people couldn’t keep the law.

Paul says the same things but he takes it a step further – Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. Romans 7:8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. I Corinthians 15:56 “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” What is Paul saying in these verses? Not only is the law a temporary protector and a measuring stick but it’s also an instigator to sin.

For e.g. Put up a sign that says “Fresh Paint Do Not Touch.” What do people do?

For e.g. Imagine a glass filled with dirty water. If that water has been sitting still for some time, it appears clean until you stir it. Now what happens? It shows all the dirt.

Don’t misunderstand – Laws are good for society. They keep people in check. But they cannot change people.

In other words, the law was a good thing but also a house arrest, a nice prison. It was also a constant reminder of our inability to reach God. It was a Pot stirrer. In all, the law only brought a constant feeling of inadequacy, guilt, burden, and frustration.

What did the Jewish people, especially the Pharisees, do? They failed to understand the real intent of the law – temporary protection, measuring stick, and stirring of more sin. Instead, they pretended to keep the law with integrity. They compared their righteousness with each other and became self-righteous. They made many more laws of their own with plenty of exceptions and exclusions. This only brought hypocrisy.

Someone might say – okay, the Law for the Jewish people. How about the non-Jewish people? Even though we’re not Jewish, we have the law of our conscience. Romans 2:12 says, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves.” This has the same effect as a Law of Moses. It also brings condemnation, guilt, burden, frustration, and hypocrisy.

Application: Are you trusting in the Old Testament Law (10 Commandments) or in the law of your conscience or in the law of society to justify you before God? It will only result in guilt, burden, and frustration. It will never save you nor set you free.

2. PRESENTATION OF THE GIFTS 

17 “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Background: John shows a contrast between the giving of the law and the coming of Jesus Christ. Grace and Truth came with Jesus.

woman-caught-in-adulteryWhat is Grace? In Greek the word is carij. It is found 155 times in the New Testament of which hundred are in Paul’s writings, some in Peter’s writings, and just 30 in the Gospels, mostly in Luke’s writings but never in Matthew or Mark. In fact, grace in John is used only four times and just in these four verses. Why is grace not mentioned more than that? Listen carefully – the reason the idea of grace did not have to be mentioned is because Jesus is Grace. Listen to verse 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” To see Jesus in his glory is to see Grace. We try to define grace with trite phrases like “unmerited favor” and “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” All those are fine but if you want to define grace, define Jesus. He was perfect and yet he received imperfect sinners. He was God’s Son and yet He became like us. He committed no sin and he laid down his life for our sins. That’s grace.

What is Truth? The word alhqeia for truth is used 100 times in the New Testament and, in contrast to grace, more than half of them are found in John’s writings. While Grace has to be lived out, truth has to be spoken. Jesus told the truth – about God, about sin, about righteousness, about the cross, about heaven and hell, and so on.

PhariseesHow did the Jewish people respond to Jesus being the truth? They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and other laws. He told them the truth about their hypocrisy in keeping the law. Listen to John 5 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” He told them the truth about the real condition of their hearts. Listen to John 8 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Then He declared without hesitation, qualifications, or apology in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Then they said – “Let’s kill Him.”

Application: Do you want to be set free? Come to Jesus. Only he has the grace to forgive you unconditionally and only he has to truth to set you free completely. Grace is not just an idea and truth is not just a fact. Grace and truth are one person and His name is Jesus.

3. POURING OVER OF THE GIFTS

So far we have seen that the law prepared us for the gifts of grace and truth and Jesus presented Himself as the gifts of grace and truth but that’s not the end. In fact, that’s just the beginning.

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

Background: I went to look up the meaning of that phrase “grace for grace” carin anti carin and this is what a key reference book said – “the precise sense of the phrase is uncertain.” I want to say, “Thanks a lot!” So what does it mean? Let’s look again to verse 14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. As the Son of God, Jesus is full of everything the father is. To receive of his fullness is to be connected to everything that God is.

Some of you are thinking – “Yep, that’s interesting. What does that have to do with me.” Don’t miss this. It has profound significance to our Christian life. Some people think that once you are saved by the grace and truth of Jesus that now you need to go back and keep the law, maybe not the Old Testament law but just have a list of rules as a Christian. What would Paul say to that? Galatians 2:21 “…if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” In fact, if you do that, it will actually produce the opposite effect! Listen to Galatians 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

What is the solution? Verse 16 “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” Here’s what it means – in Jesus Christ you have everything given to you. You have God Himself. Stay connected to Him. Keep looking to Him. Keep obeying Him. Keep trusting Him. And He will make Grace abound in your life. Grace upon grace for your daily Christian life. It’s not a list you need. It’s Jesus you need. And who helps you – the Holy Spirit.

Listen again to Paul in Romans 5:21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Meaning: Where sin once controlled us, now grace controls us.

Application: Are you ready to open your gifts this morning? Grace and Truth in Jesus

%d bloggers like this: