HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 5)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (part 5) by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas seasonThis is our last message in our mini series from the Book of Romans titled – HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. Many of you shared with me how much you appreciated the past 4 messages, especially during Christmas – a time of stress, frustration, and discouragement. I don’t think Paul had Christmas in mind when he penned these words but they definitely fit.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background: We come to the last line of that section – 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. This passage is about “How to Have the Right Spirit of Hospitality.” The word “hospitality” has a very strange history. It is connected to the Latin words hospes, from which we get words like “hospice” and “hospital” and hostis, from which we get the word “host” – the owner of the house. Amazingly, it is also connected with words like hostile – which could mean a stranger or enemy or army. That’s why you hear about the “Lord of hosts” = “Lord of Angelic Armies.” That’s why you also hear about the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Bottom Line: The word hospitality has a good and bad connotation in the past.

Why did I bring all that up? Because hospitality can be good and bad. If it’s good, it can be a refuge for the guests, the weary and worn in our homes and church. If it’s bad, it can be hostile and feel like the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This morning, we will look at hospitality from the Bible as it applies in the context of our homes and our church? This is a very essential message. 3 things we will see here.

I. HOSPITALITY IS A CHRISTIAN GRACE.

given to hospitality. Meaning: By nature we are hospitable to all.

Background: Ancient cultures were big on showing hospitality to each other but it was a different story when it came to a stranger or an enemy. In Viking culture – if you happened to be in a friendly territory, you would get food, shelter, and protection. But if you didn’t know them well, watch your back. In Arab history, the greeting Salam (peace) had to be responded quickly with “peace back to you.” Meaning: “We’re good. Don’t wanna fight.” Live and let live. Not much hospitality there.

Here’s a glimpse of what most cultures were like – Romans 1:29-31 (As I read this section, imagine if you had to visit or stay overnight with people like this.) 29“being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.” They had no sense of hospitality. If I had to stay with someone like this, I would not blink all night. You never know when they would stab you in your sleep.

Contrary to this what did Christianity say? Hebrews 13:2-3  2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Remember in the Old Testament when God came with two angels to visit Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 18 tells us that “when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground,  3 and said, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.  4 Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  5 And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.” They said, “Do as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it.  8 So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.”

After that, those angels went down to Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19 tells us that even though Lot treated them with hospitality, before they could lay down, “the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.  5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” They wanted to sexually rape them. That’s where we get the word “sodomy.” While Lot pleaded with them, they even tried to break down the doors.

Godly person cannot help but be hospitable to all. Sadly, the further we get from Christianity in our culture, the less we are hospitable. We become hostile. Sadly, the same attitude has come in among Christians.

For e.g. Growing up we constantly had missionaries in our home from America, Sweden, Germany, England, and Philippines. We had an American missionary who ate with us for over 10 years, almost every day for lunch. He would read to me and talk to me.

For e.g. Nowadays, its like the commercial – someone says “Dinner time!” and everybody runs to the van.

Someone might say – “Its easy to clean up.” It’s not about the work or the food. It’s about drawing close to one another.

We need to have this spirit of hospitality. The early church was known for their hospitality. Acts 2:46   So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,  47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Hospitality had a part to play in the growth of the church.

Application: Do you open the doors of your home to others? Do you participate in the hospitality at church?

II. HOSPITALITY HAS TO BE GUARDED.

Listen to how Paul brings up the subject – distributing to the needs of the saints

He refers to others as saints – not sinners or burdens or headaches. Meaning: It’s a privilege to serve others.

Hospitality can very easily go from serving others to cooking food. We can go from ministering to each other to getting it done and cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Did you know that the first church conflict took place over food? Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.  2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.  3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;  4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Later on it happened again in the church in Corinth at the Love Feast – I Corinthians 11:20-22  20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.  21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.  22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Most church conflicts don’t happen over doctrine and theology but food. It’s the debased mind getting into the church. Don’t be jumping in front of each other. Don’t bring your bad attitude in church.

For e.g. Like the guy who is having a lunch break with his buddy and opens up his lunch pail and bites into the sandwich. “Oh no! A baloney sandwich! Again! Everyday I get a baloney sandwich! I hate it!” His friend says – “Relax, take it easy. Just tell your wife tonight not to do that.” He replies – “Leave my wife out of it! I make my own sandwiches…”

Application: How do you see each other? At home and church. Do you see the other person as a saint or as a burden?

III. HOSPITALITY IS ULTIMATELY UNTO GOD.

Do you remember what it says just 2 verses earlier in verse 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

When we take our eyes off the Lord, we can miss the blessing in hospitality.

James Tissot-The Meal in the house of the phariseeIn Luke 7, Jesus was invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee. This was the same place where the woman came with thealabaster flask and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then, she proceeded to anoint his feet with fragrant oil. When Simon questioned Jesus’s integrity, Jesus responded to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Contrast this with Luke 19, Jesus came to the place where Zacchaeus was in the sycamore tree and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” How did he respond? “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” What was the result? 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The Light of the World - William Holman Hunt

What a difference! Simon had Jesus as a guest but he missed the blessing. Zacchaeus had Jesus as a guest andhe shared in the blessing.

The first question – Is Jesus welcome in your life?

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

William Holman Hunt painted “The Light of the World” with no handles on the outside to represent the “obstinately shut mind.”

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 4)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas seasonYou know Christmas is here when: it takes you an hour to drive somewhere that normally takes 15 minutes; you can’t find a parking place at the mall; and people who are normally congenial snap at you. This series is to help us have the right attitude, not just during the Christmas season but also in every season of life.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background:  So far we have seen three messages in this series – 1. “How to Have Love Without Hypocrisy.” 2. “How to Hate Evil and Cling to Good.” 3. “How to Outdo Each Other in Showing Honor.” This morning we come to verse 11 and 12not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” On the one hand, that verse seems like quite simple. But, pause and study it carefully and you will see that it is a message we desperately need to hear in America today. The title of this message is How to Stay Ablaze for God. Christianity in America is suffering:

–       Not because the gospel is weak (it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes),

–       Not because people are more sinful (people are just as sinful today as they were in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah),

–       Not because we don’t have the knowledge (we know more today than we ever did before),

–       Not because we don’t have the resources (never before has the church had all the literature, technology, and knowhow at its disposal),

–       Not because we don’t have the man power (we have more Christians today than any other time in history),

–       Not because we don’t have the time (there are still 24 hours in a day),

–       Not because we are more persecuted than before (study the early church that had to face the lions)

We try to pass the blame on this, that, and the other. The real problem in America is that most Christians have become anemic, lifeless, and weak. What is needed is the spirit of a Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, men and women on fire for God.

This morning if the spiritual temperature of our nation troubles you, stop looking to Washington or Hollywood and start looking in the mirror. Are you ablaze for God?

The passage breaks down into three parts:

I. BE ON FIRE FOR GOD.

11 not lagging in diligence, A better translation of that would be “in zeal, do not be lazy.”

Christianity in America is suffering because we have lost the zeal, the fire, the passion, the urgency, the energy, the boldness, and the forthrightness that moved the world for God in previous generations.

Anytime you say that, immediately we think of someone who is pushy and obnoxious, trying to cram the gospel down our throat. No one wants that. That does more harm than good for the kingdom of God. People run when they see you coming. What we are talking about is “being in a spirit of revival.” It’s not that we have the gospel but the gospel has us. We are driven by our convictions regarding the lostness of every human being, the eternal judgment that is waiting in the end, the salvation through Jesus Christ being the only hope for them. The church is not a cruise liner. It is a rescue ship.

For e.g. Many years ago, when I first began in the ministry, I actually prayed to God for convictions. I had seen too many pastors and church people having a good time on a cruise liner while all around them there were people drowning in the water. It didn’t happen overnight but little by little God began to remove the complacency of my heart and replace it with His convictions.

Guess who was instrumental in this? The Holy Spirit. Listen to the next phrase – fervent in spirit, Again a better translation would be “boiling by the Spirit.” In other words, Ask the Holy Spirit to set you on fire. Our zeal for the gospel is not some self-induced passion but the Holy Spirit Himself sets us on fire. What you and I try to light ourselves on fire we fizzle out but when the Holy Spirit lights us up we begin to burn with an incredible unquenchable zeal.

That phrase “boiling by the Spirit” was used of Apollos in Acts 18:25 “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.”

Meaning: Set on fire by the Holy Spirit does not mean that you have all the answers and you have arrived. All is means is that moment and time you are completely under the authority and direction of the Holy Spirit

Any heart that is willing can have the Holy Spirit. He will empower whoever will honor Him.

Application: Many of us are on fire by the wrong spirit.

Now here comes another phrase that is critical for being on fire for God – serving the Lord. My paraphrase would be “with Jesus as Our Master.”

The purpose of the Holy Spirit is never to glorify Himself or you. His purpose is to glorify Jesus. Jesus Himself said in John 16:13-14  13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

Now we begin to walk, talk, think, and behave as Jesus. Now when we meet people, they see Jesus in us. There is no place for sin and self.

Robert Murray McCheyne, “Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear and your heart full of God’s Spirit is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.”

Application: Are you on fire for God? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Are you living every moment to magnify Jesus Christ?

II. BE HOPEFUL AND PATIENT

12 rejoicing in hope,

What is HOPE? There are 2 ways people use the word hope: One, I sure hope it works out. Meaning = I don’t think it will get better; Second, Hope is on its way. Meaning = Don’t give up. There is help coming. It is the expectation of something better to come.

The Holy Spirit is the harbinger of hope. Listen to Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Again, Romans 15:13  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

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 and 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. You can talk about hope and you can make hope your campaign slogan but if there is no genuine hope, nothing will happen.

Now someone might say, but you don’t realize how bad it is. Listen to the very next line – patient in tribulation. First the word tribulation refers to pressure to the point of breaking. Why are we surprised? Jesus said in John 16:33 “…In the world you will have tribulation…”

How are we to face tribulation? Be patient. It is not some passive putting up with things but actively standing and enduring.

Someone might say “that’s hard to do.” Listen again to John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Application: Are you rejoicing in hope? Are you patient in the midst of trouble?

III. BE IN CONSTANT PRAYER

continuing steadfastly in prayer; Literally – busy yourself in prayer

Most of us busy ourselves in worry, in doubt, and in complaining.

Our prayer is our communication with the home base.

Stop praying and one by one like dominoes it will all crash. First to go is patience in trouble, next to go is joy, because there is no hope. Then, you are no longer following Jesus, no longer filled with the Spirit, and now you are simply existing with passion and zeal.

E.M. Bounds “Short devotions deplete spiritual vigor, arrest spiritual progress, sap spiritual foundations, blight the root and bloom of spiritual life. They are the prolific source of backsliding, the sure indication of a superficial piety; they deceive, blight, rot the seed, and impoverish the soil.”

In other words, your spiritual life, for practical purposes is dead. You can put up the tree, hang the wreaths, buy the gifts, sing Christmas carols but it doesn’t do anything for you or anybody else.

Application: Did this message describe you? Are you ablaze for God? Or, are you burned out for God?

John Wesley “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”

Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 3)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas season

We are in a mini series from the Book of Romans titled – HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. Christmas can be a time that warms your heart, brings all things in perspective, draws you closer to your loved ones or it can be a time that you dread to see on the calendar, a time of stress and conflicts, a time that you’re glad to see it over. This series is to help us have the right attitude, not just during the Christmas season but also in every season of life.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background: So far we have see two messages in this series—“How to Have Love Without Hypocrisy” and “How to Hate Evil and Cling to Good.” This morning we come to the third message – “How to show honor to others.” Listen to verse 10 – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” There is so much in that one verse but one word stands above the rest: HONOR. We hear a lot about honor these days in movies and books: Honor in battle, honor for your ancestors, honor killing. All these are honors in this life but the Bible’s idea of honor goes deeper and is eternal. To properly understand honor, you have to go back to Romans 1-11.

Throughout this series I have been emphasizing the point that the Book of Romans is made up of 2 halves: the first half (Romans 1-11) is doctrine and the second half (Romans 12-16) is application. If you want to apply Romans 12-16 correctly, you have to go back to Romans 1-11. In fact, Romans 1-11 hold the key to the proper application of Romans 12-16. In other words, “your Doctrine holds the key to your Application.” What you believe (doctrine) should and does affect how you behave (application). People behave poorly because they believe poorly.

Application: We desperately need honor in our lives today. A husband should honor his wife. A wife should honor her husband. Children should honor their parents. Parents should in a way honor their children. Church members should honor one another.

So how do we bring honor in our lives?

I. DISHONOR IS A TRAIT OF THE DEBASED MIND. 

In Romans 1 and 2 Paul describes the debased mind of those who reject God and suppress the truth of God. These are people who refuse to honor God. In turn they don’t honor people. Listen to Romans 1 and verse 29 onwards “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, (dishonoring ones body and the body of someone else), wickedness, covetousness (dishonoring someone’s success); maliciousness; full of envy, (dishonor in our heart towards someone who is something we’re not or has something we don’t.) murder, (dishonor enough to kill) strife, deceit, (dishonor your word) evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, (dishonor someone’s confidence) 30 backbiters, (dishonor someone behind their back) haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, (Instead of “honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with promise.” – Ephesians 6:2, 3); undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful”

The people with a debased mind not only dishonor God but they have no qualms about dishonoring fellow human beings.

What is their end? Listen to Romans 2 verse 7 onwards God will give “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;  8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,” 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;  10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Meaning: In the end, they die with dishonor.

I think of 2 examples in the New Testament – one John the Baptist and the other Judas Iscariot. John preached the truth and lived a life pure and holy before God. In the end he was cruelly beheaded. What did Jesus say about him? In Matt. 11:11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist;

Compare that with Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. What did Jesus say about him? In Matt. 26:4 “…It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Not only did he dishonor His Master but he died a dishonorable death.

True honor comes when you honor God in your life. Now you will honor self and in the process honor others.

Application: Does your life reflect the traits of the debased mind? Are you dishonoring those who are around you with your words and your actions?

–       In many marriages, the husband loves his wife and the wife loves her husband. But, during the low times, rude and crude words are said that should not be said. Now the marriage just teeters along.

–       In many families, brother loves brother and sister loves sister. But, during the low times, disrespectful and hateful behaviors have forever crippled that relationship.

–       In many churches, people love each other, know that they are all part of God’s family, and are working to win souls. But, during the low times, they have said things and done things that should have never happened. Now the church just crawls along at a snails pace with hurt feelings and leery Christians.

Every time we as Christians act in these ways we are reverting to the barbaric, brutish, heathenish, animalistic behavior of the godless and the god haters.

II. THE HOLY SPIRIT CHANGES OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS EACH OTHER.

10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love

Background: The phrase “kindly affectionate” has been misunderstood many times. The word kindly is not as in being nice and kind. It is an old English word that is used in the sense of kin, which means “family love.” The Greek is very simple here. It means family bond. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit of God changes our attitude towards each other. If you are saved, you are a child of God just like I am. If you are not saved, you are a potential child of God. Either we are already part of the family or we are fixing to be.

Romans 8:15-17  15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we (there is a switch in number from singular to plural) cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (not just child of God or son/daughter of God) 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,

Don’t be mean to your brothers and sisters or potential brothers and sisters.

For e.g. One time I was mad at my brother and decided to win my parents over to my side. I made my case like Perry Mason. In the end, they defended him. Their statement to me was – “We just want to see you both getting along.”

God is not pleased when there is division in the family.

There’s more – Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love. It is the word “Philadelphia” = the city of brotherly love. (Meaning: have family love like brothers)

For e.g. My brother and I fought but when it came to someone from the outside, we were very protective towards each other.

Brotherly love is protective. It is deep. It does not change with circumstances.

Application: Husbands – how do you see your wife? Wives – how do you see your husband? Children – how do you see your parents? Parents – how do you see your children? Church members – how do you see one another?

How quickly we tend to forget that the other person is the child of the King and we are to love them with a brotherly/sisterly love!

III. WE ARE TO OUTDO EACH OTHER IN SHOWING HONOR.

10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (literally: in honor outdo each other)

Meaning: Compete with each other in who shows more honor, not who gets more honor.

Our society is either obsessed with receiving honor or it doesn’t know who to give honor. We get upset when people don’t open the door for us or don’t tell us thanks or don’t acknowledge us. Sometimes, we bring that same attitude into our homes and our church. “If you won’t treat me like I should be, then I won’t treat you well either.”

How much we need honor in our lives! There are times when we may not feel in love, as we should, we may feel stressed, tired, and overwhelmed. We are tempted to do things and say things that are wrong. It is a sense of Honor for the other person that fills the gap until the feeling returns. It is the safety net that guards us from the hitting the ground, when we are not at our best. It is the center pole that keeps the tent of love from collapsing.

Let’s start with the way we talk to each other. In his commentary on James, Warren Wiersbe suggests 12 words that can transform our lives: Please, Thank You, I’m sorry, I love you, and I’m praying for you.

When the Holy Spirit fills your heart, what will pour out will be honor towards God and others.

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 2)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas seasonWe are in a mini series from the Book of Romans titled – HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. Christmas can be a time of great joy, excitement, and laughter but it can also be a time of sadness, frustration, and contention. We need help in making this a season of joy. Last Sunday morning we looked at “How to Have Love Without Hypocrisy.” This Sunday morning we go to the next line.

Romans 12:9-13  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background: Before we can jump in and start explaining and applying this passage, we need to remember the principle that I shared last week—Doctrine and Application are interconnected. What you believe and how you behave are linked together. The mistake many Christians make is that they think – here’s my doctrine and here’s my application. First, I’ll get my doctrine straight and then set it aside. Next, I’ll work on my application and try to be a better person. They try it and it doesn’t work – very quickly they see that their love is full of hypocrisy— fake, conditional, selfish, superficial, selective, temporary and temperamental.

What’s the problem? You cannot apply Romans 12-16 without looking back to Romans 1-11. They are interconnected. Romans 1-11 hold the key to apply Romans 12-16.

This morning our text is “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Let me caution you – don’t be took quick to jump in and start applying this passage. On the surface, those words seem very simple; they seem very straightforward. Just hate the bad things and hold on good things. But, try applying that and I promise you that you will fail miserably. You will end up hating what is good and holding on to what is evil. You will end up hating people rather than evil. In fact, you will do the very things that the passage says not to do. What’s the answer? We need to look back to Romans 1-11 and see what it says about evil and good.

Application: We need to hear this message more than ever. We are living in evil days. Not just the world but also the church is confused about what’s evil. We have lost our sense of discernment. There’s something more – God has not called us to just be spectators but later in Romans 12:21 Paul says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” That’s another message but before we can overcome evil with good, we need to understand what’s evil and what’s good.

Before we can hate/abhor evil, what is the face of evil?

There are 2 important mentions of evil between Romans 1-11:

I. THE EVIL IN OTHERS

The first important mention of evil in Romans is in chapter 1 where Paul is describing the wrath of God against those who suppress, hinder, and block the truth of God. Listen to their description in Rom. 1:29-32   29“being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, (the word is poneria = active intent to corrupt) covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,  30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, (the word is kakon = lack of any good)  disobedient to parents,  31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

Background: The first face of evil is people who don’t have anything good in them but they also deliberately reject God and also encourage others to do the same. Keep in mind that all of us are sinners who have rejected God. But, Romans 1:29-32 is describing those who are actively pursuing evil and trying to spread it. Bible tells us about many such evil people. For time sake, let me mention just a few—

  1. Jeroboam Offering Sacrifice by Jean Honoré FragonardJeroboam – the first King of the Northern Kingdom. He was so determined to hang on to his throne, that he talked the eople into not going to Jerusalem to worship. Instead, he set up 2 golden calves in Bethel and Dan and said, “Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the Land of Egypt!” I Kings 12:30 said “this thing became a sin.” He rejected what Moses had instituted and created his own sacrificial system. He even became a priest of his own religion. He not only sinned but caused others to sin. In fact, later evil kings were always compared to him.

A man of God came to confront him and Jeroboam stretched out his hand to order his arrest and his hand withered.Jeroboam begged, not for forgiveness but for his arm. The man of God prayed for his healing and he did and his hand was healed. Then Jeroboam invited him to come and stay with him and promised to give him a reward. Listen to his answer in I Kings 13:8-9 “But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place.” Why? Because God told me not to.

2.  Jezebel – She was the daughter of a Phoenician King. When she married King Ahab of Israel, she brought the worship of Baal to Israel’s court. In fact her name itself says it – Jez-e-baal (Baal is the prince). She tried to destroy all God’s prophets. She even tried to get Elijah killed and he had to run for his life. She stole from the innocent (Her husband wanted the vineyard of Naboth – decent man trying to live on his little piece of family land. Jezebel falsely accused Naboth and had him stoned to death. Later she was violently killed as per God’s judgment.

King Herod3.  Herod – He was an Idumean, who ruled over Judea with the help of the Romans. He was a ruthless man. He would spare no efforts to extract taxes from the people. He did everything he could to please Rome. He had no qualms about killing people: He was afraid of the Hasmoneans so he had them all killed; he was afraid of one of his brother-in-laws—Aristobulus , the High Priest; he was afraid of his military leaders so he had 300 of them killed; he was afraid that his two eldest sons were after his throne. So, he had them both killed; and the list goes on.

He even tried to have baby Jesus killed. When the wise men did not return to tell him where Jesus was, he had hundreds of little innocent baby boys killed.

4.  Judas Iscariot – Man who walked with Jesus and heard him preach and change lives. Yet, he betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. Listen to what Jesus said about him in Mark 14:21 “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”

Application: How are we to deal with this face of evil? “Abhor what is evil.” It means, “hate it exceedingly.” By the way, this is the only place in biblical Greek that we find that expression. It does not mean hate the person but their actions. Don’t admire the wicked. Don’t try to imitate the “admirable qualities” of the wicked. Proverbs 24:1 “Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them;”

Do you have any Jeroboam, Jezebel, Herod, or Judas whom you admire?

1st Evil is those who reject God and actively try to obstruct the truth. We are to reject it.

II. THE EVIL THAT IS WITHIN

The second important mention of evil in Romans is actually in a Christian’s life. Listen to Romans 7:19-21  19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 

Who is Paul referring to? He is referring to the believer who is frustrated with his/her Christian life – “Why do I do things that I don’t want to do? And why do I not do the things that I want to? Is this your experience? Are you going through the same struggle as Paul? Are you frustrated with your sin life? Then, your answer is about to come.

20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil (the word is kakon = lack of any good) is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

What is this evil? It is sin. It is the “old man.” It does not have any good in it. It is my Old Self. When you and I are saved, we received a new nature. The Old Man is crucified with Christ. This does not mean that it is eradicated. It is still there as long as we live in this world. As long as you live in this world, there will be a struggle. Evil is not out there. It is in here. There’s nothing about my Old Me that is good. It is selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” The sooner you can see your Old Self as a “wretch” the better.

But don’t stop there – Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

What is Good? Only what God has placed in me. Listen to Romans 8:10, 13  10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness…13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

How do you cling to what is good? By the Holy Spirit in you.

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you recognize the evil that is in the hearts and minds of people around you?
  • Do you recognize the evil that is present with you?
  • How do you deal with evil? Are you pre-occupied with it? Do you justify it, rationalize it, or blame it on others?
  • Are you clinging to that which is good? To Christ who is in you. To the Holy Spirit who is leading you. To the Word of God that is given to you.
  • Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 1)

HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (Part 1) by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

How to behave this Christmas season

Christmas is here. Our kids are counting down the days, as I’m sure yours are as well. Christmas can be a time of joy, excitement, and laughter but it can also be a time of sadness, frustration, and contention. What is needed is the kind of love that will cover a multitude of sins. This morning’s message is titled – “HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON,” from Romans 12. By the way, this message is for all seasons.

Romans 12:9  9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Overall Background:  We are in the application section of the Book of Romans. From Romans 1-11, Paul has been teaching us doctrine and starting in Romans 12, he focuses on application. In verse 9 he says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Meaning – Be real when you love people. Don’t be fake, a put on, superficial, selective, and temporary.

The mistake people make is they immediately try to apply it and they fall flat on their face. They try to love their spouse, children, neighbor, co-workers, and church family and they fall flat on their face. Sooner or later someone does something that goes beyond their definition of love and they start pretending. They set up their own criteria of love and it’s a mess.

What’s the solution? You cannot apply Romans 12:9 without looking back to Romans 1-11 to see what Paul through the Holy Spirit has said about love. Romans 1-11 should be the foundation, the atmosphere, and the motivation for Romans 12-16. The doctrine we learned should impact the way we live. What many Christians do is that they think – here’s doctrine and here’s application. First, they focus on doctrine and then set it aside. Next, they focus on application and they fall flat on their face. What you believe should affect how you behave. Your doctrine should affect your lifestyle. If you start applying without referring to doctrine, then verse 9 would read –“love be with hypocrisy.”

On a side note, if your doctrine has not touched your actions, then either your doctrine is faulty or your application is weak. Most of the time our doctrine is right on but our application is missing. As A.W. Tozer (famous pastor and writer) used to say, “You can be straight as a gun barrel theologically and just as empty (and cold and hard) as one spiritually.”

What have we learned about love between Romans 1-11? Here are a few things: 

I. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SUPPLIER OF GOD’S LOVE

 

In Romans 5:5 we have learned that “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Meaning: Once I’m saved, I don’t have to dig into my own resources to find love. Whatever I find will be fake, a put on, superficial, selective, and temporary. But the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into my heart is real, genuine, impartial, and lasting.

For e.g. Let’s say that I had to survive in the Alaskan wilderness for a week in the dead of winter. Prior to going into the woods, I was given a backpack with compass, matches, flint knife, flares, tent, canned food, defensive equipment, and everything that I needed to survive. Then I go out into the woods and forget everything and start panicking because I’m cold, hungry, lost, and scared? What would you say? Don’t you have your backpack? Why are you not using those things?

When we come to the Lord, we have our old backpack. But the Holy Spirit gives us a new backpack and He fills it with all that we need for our journey. Sadly, we dig into the old backpack rather than the new.

The Holy Spirit transforms our previously judgmental, critical, negative, condescending eyes into the eyes of love and compassion. The first fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22). Show me a person who is busy finding fault, constantly critical, constantly hateful, and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a family that is constantly at each other’s throats and I will show you a family that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a church that is constantly bickering and fussing and fighting and I will show you a church that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. They may make a lot of noise but it is nothing more than “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) But show me a church that loves Jesus, loves each other, and loves the lost and I will show you a church that is full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Does that mean there will not be any problems? Of course not! But “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (I Pet 4:8)

II. THE CROSS IS THE DEMONSTRATION OF GOD’S LOVE.

 

In Romans 5:8 we have learned that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Meaning: The sample of what this love looks like has no resemblance on earth. A mother loves her child. That’s wonderful but that’s what mothers do. A soldier gives his life because he loves his country. It’s a great sacrifice but it still does not compare to God’s love. Where do you see God’s love? On the cross. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

For e.g. Ray Stedman tells the story of the man who was walking past a bookstore and he saw a book titled “How to Hug.” It was a thick book. Being the romantic and curious type he went in to buy it. When he opened it was the third volume of an encyclopedia that covered every subject from “How” to “Hug.”

The love that is in our backpack is not love that is selective and partial but it loves those who hate us. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-46  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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

People know the real deal. For e.g. I heard the story of the teenager who grew up in a terrible situation and saw her parents abusing each other mentally, emotionally, and physically. Then she gave her heart to Christ. Someone asked her why. She replied that she was waiting for her ride in the church and from the window she saw the youth pastor lovingly walk to his car with his wife. He opened the door for her and gave her a peck on the cheek, all the while unaware that someone was watching them. That’s when I realized that there is such a thing as true love.

III. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ASSURANCE OF GOD’S LOVE

In Romans 8:35-38 we have learned that the source of our love never runs dry. What if we face physical problems? Listen to verse 35 onwards – 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

 

What happens we face physical problems? Some people feel that God is punishing them for something they have done wrong. Remember – God disciplines but never punishes His children. The end result of punishment is penalty and shame but the end result of discipline is growth and blessing. 

Are you facing some difficult times in your life? Do you believe that God is punishing you? Do you believe that right now you are out of favor with God? If so, it will affect the way you treat yourself and others. You will look down on self and be hateful about self. Then, you will look down on others and be hateful to them.

But listen to Romans 8:37 onwards,  37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we are secure in God’s love for us, it will show in our relationships – husband/wife, children, neighbors, co-workers, and church family. If you are not secure in God’s love for yourself, you are not in the best state to make decisions. Right now, you need to hold up a sign that says “VOLATILE – CANNOT BE TRUSTED.” “DANGER – INTERACT AT YOUR OWN RISK.” Or “I KNOW BUT I CAN’T LIVE IT.”

I’m not suggesting that we go around hugging everybody but if these truths are in us, what is the conclusion again in Romans 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Meaning: It’s not an exhortation or a command but a warning or a reminder.

Where do we begin? What is needed is for us to stop using catch phrases as mantras and start examining our hearts if we are truly living them. It is easy to say –

–       I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live…

–       I am dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus…

–       I do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…

If right now your life is filled with anxiety, doubt, frustration, and all the rest, you need to step back and take a hard look at each of them. Then ask yourself if you really believe them. Are you walking in the truth?

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you believe that the Holy Spirit has poured the love of God into your heart? Are you living right this moment under His direction and authority?
  • What is the standard of love that you are using in your life? Anything less than the cross will cause you to hate others.
  • Do you say you love God? Then do you also say you hate someone?
  • Are you truly secure in God’s love? Is there anything that can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus?

Christmas can be a time of sadness, frustration, and contention. It can bring out the worst or the best in us. If you are full of the Holy Spirit, if your heart is set upon Jesus Christ, if you are secure in the promises of God in His Word, what will come forth will be genuine love.

THANKSGIVING – AN AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE

THANKSGIVING – AN AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THANKSGIVING - AN AMERICAN WAY OF LIFEThis is Thanksgiving week and so this morning I am preaching a message from Romans 1, titled – “THANKSGIVING – AN AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE.” Recently, I asked some people, “What things are uniquely American?” I got all kinds of answers – baseball, BBQ, jazz music, blue jeans, and many more. Yet, there is one thing that tops them all. It is “Thanksgiving.”

Rom. 1:18-25  18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Overall Background:  Thanksgiving is a uniquely American phenomenon. There’s nothing like it in any other part of the world. You see harvest festivals and moon festivals but it’s nothing like Thanksgiving in America. You ask – “What’s the difference?” Thanksgiving in America is not about the harvest. It’s not just the celebration by the farmers in America. Everybody from NASA scientists to construction workers to schoolteachers to hospital nurses celebrate Thanksgiving. This coming week, as many as 40 million Americans will travel on or before Thanksgiving Day in order to be with our family and friends.

  • We will sit together, no matter if we get along or not.
  • We will laugh or cry and eat till we pop. We try to tell ourselves that after Thanksgiving we will go back on our diet.
  • Many of us will bow our heads in thanks for the blessings of loved ones, health, job, freedom, and life itself.

Why is Thanksgiving so important in America? Let me first give you some reasons that people think it’s important but they are not the real reasons.

Don't Taste Me Bro!

#1.Let’s throw out the obvious one – Americans hate turkeys. Not true. Let me make a quick point here. It’s all right to eat meat. Some people think that it was not until after the Fall or after the Flood that God gave us permission to eat meat. Not true. In the very first chapter of Genesis, God gave them to us for food. He told Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:29 that He had given every herb and every tree for food. In the very next verse (30), He adds that every beast of the earth, every bird of the air, and every thing that creeps on the earth (and earlier He also mentions fish of the sea) are also for food. It helps when you read it in the original language. If you remember, Abel was a shepherd, who brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. Meaning – Right from the beginning, people understood what was the best meat. When God came to visit Abraham, He ate meat. While it’s wonderful to love animals and have them as pets, it’s not wrong to have them for food, just as it’s wonderful to have a potted plant and then eat salad.

If you don’t eat meat, that’s fine. Just don’t think that it’s nobler to abstain from meat.

Thanksgiving-Brownscombe#2.Some people think that it is because the pilgrims celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” with the Indians and thus set the tradition for generations to come. Not true. It is quite possible that the pilgrims might have celebrated some form of harvest festival with the Native Americans; but the evidence regarding that event comes from barely few fragments, which are not very clear about any grand thanksgiving celebration. Later writers and painters have embellished much of what we have come to think of the “First Thanksgiving.” They are not strong enough motivators for us to take red-eye flights or drive in the dead of night to avoid getting stuck in thanksgiving traffic.

#3.Some people even think that it is because our government has instituted “Thanksgiving Day.” Not really again. It is true that President Washington issued a proclamation that November 26, 1789 be celebrated as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin.” It is also true that President Lincoln set the last Thursday in November as the National day of Thanksgiving and later the Congress passed a law ensuring the celebration of the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day every year. Nevertheless, our moms and grandmas don’t slave over a hot stove for three days in order to comply with some government mandate. It’s not because it’s a National Holiday. After all, most of us Americans don’t take kindly to state sponsored religion.

#4.So, what is the real reason? Is it the food? Is it the family? Is it the urge for us to shop till we drop on “Black Friday?” I don’t think so.

While there is some truth in all of them, I think the reason is much deeper. The real reason we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving is because deep in our psyche we know that all we are and all we have is from above. Somehow we know that we don’t deserve this. Somehow we know that God is the source of all our blessings. Somehow we know that God in His goodness either carried us to the finish line or moved the finish line a little closer for us. Somehow God has brought us through difficult times as a nation and continues to guide us. Somehow we know that there is a divine hand that is guiding our lives and our nation – what Ravi Zacharias calls the “Grand Weaver.”

Let me clarify:

–       This does not mean that every person sitting around the dinner table will be choking back tears of gratitude.

–       This does not mean that every person who is grateful will have the same level of gratefulness.

–       This does not mean that people in other parts of the world are unappreciative and ungrateful.

–       This does not mean that other people don’t recognize some sovereign deity.

–       This does not mean that every American is a Christian.

–       This does not mean that God is okay with our sin and immorality.

What it does mean is that Americans, as a people, recognize that God has been good and gracious towards us, even though we don’t deserve it. That makes God happy. It pleases Him when we are thankful to Him.

Let’s look at Romans 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Background: Some people read that passage and immediately think that every sinner is under the wrath of God. Listen again to that verse – The wrath of God is over all those who suppress (hinder, block, hold down) the truth of God. They know better but they do it anyways. Now don’t get me wrong—we are all born “dead in trespasses and sins.” We are all hell bound. We are all sinners with a sin nature.

David says in Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Paul says in Romans 5:19 “. . . by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . .” Every person who comes into this world comes with a sin nature. Every sinner has a judgment waiting for him/her. Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”

But the wrath of God is something much more. Romans 1:18 is not just about any sinner. It’s about the boastful, arrogant, defiant sinner, who shakes his/her fist towards heaven. Listen to verse 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

God has given us enough reasons to know that He is there and He made it all and all that we have is a gift from Him.

–       Human Beings have been looking at the Sky for centuries and know that someone made them and put them there. Night Sky1One of the French revolutionaries boasted to a peasant, “We are going to pull down all that reminds you of God.” To which the peasant replied, “Then, you better pull down the stars.”

–       Human Beings have been looking at the Earth for centuries: perfect distance from the sun; any closer and it would be too hot; any further and it would be too cold. Any closer and all the water would boil away; any further and all water will freeze. Any smaller and oxygen will leave and we would have no atmosphere; any larger and poisonous chemicals will stay in our atmosphere. God made it just right.

–       Human Beings have been looking at the beautiful creation around them for centuries—the beautiful trees and flowers; beautiful animals and birds and sea creatures.

–       Human Beings have been looking at each other for centuries. How complex and beautiful are human beings. Our human heart beats 100,000 times a day. That comes to about 2,500 million times over 70 years. It pumps enough blood in a lifetime to fill the Empire State building. The heart is a maintenance-free pump that can function throughout life without replacing any parts.

Normal Rockwell Thanksgiving

We as Americans have recognized this and we also know that the reason we stand as a nation is by the grace of God:

–       Our National motto is “In God We Trust.”

–       The 4th stanza of the Star Spangled Banner says: “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

–       The 4th stanza of My Country ‘Tis of Thee says: “Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.”

–       Our Pledge of Allegiance still says that we are “One Nation Under God.”

Why do I bring all this up? Because as long as we are grateful to the Almighty God for all our blessings, there is still hope for us as a nation. As long as the Spirit of Gratitude towards God abides in us, the Spirit of God abides upon us.

What happens to the people that refuse to acknowledge God? Listen to verse 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,  23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,  25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

When people ask me if America’s glory days are over, I remind them to keep their eyes on Thanksgiving Day. As long as Thanksgiving remains a part of the American way of life, we are still a “shining city upon a hill.”

Application: Are you thankful for the blessing of living in this nation? Are you thankful? For your blessings (material, health, family)?

For e.g. Sometime back I was sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. Suddenly, the door leading to the inside opened and I heard this heavy breathing. I saw a social worker or home healthcare nurse, holding this young man by the arm and leading him. Even though he was walking on his own, he could not control his movements/motor skills. I jumped up and opened the door leading out of the waiting room into the hallway. As I walked back to my seat, the lady sitting next to Nicole and me said – “We have so much to be thankful for. We take so much for granted.”

There is something much greater than material and physical blessings. It is the blessing of hope, forgiveness, and peace through Jesus Christ.

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WILL, NOT DREAD IT (Article)

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WILL, NOT DREAD IT (Article) by Pastor Shah (Clearview)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 

DELIGHT IN GOD'S WILL, NOT DREAD ITSome people have the wrong idea that they have to discover God’s will for their lives, as if He has hidden it somewhere. Others have the false idea that if they submit to God’s will, then He might lead them to a miserable life—they may have tolive in abject poverty or be forced to go on the mission field to some God-forsaken place; they may get terribly sick and even die; or they may lose a relationship or someone very special in their life. Nothing is further from the truth! All the above are the enemy’s scare tactics to keep us from receiving God’s best for our lives. When we come to God and seek His will for our lives, Romans 12:2 promises us that His will is good, acceptable and perfect. Here’s how–

First, “do not be conformed to this world.” This does not mean that we should move to some remote desert and avoid modern technology, scientific inventions, fashionable clothes, or musical styles of our time. Primitive Living is not necessarily Godly Living. What it does mean is that we shouldn’t conform to the values of this age. Here’s a list of some of these values—God is not the center and focus of your life; the Bible is not the final authority in your life; you don’t have tobe grateful to anyone; whatever feels good, do it; there are no rules for sexual behavior; get rich at any cost; do whatever you can to get ahead; and so on. If we want God’s will, we have to reject these values. Are you allowing the world to squeeze you into its mold?

Second, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Along with rejecting worldly values, we have to allow the Holy Spirit to re-program/re-format our minds to the truth of God. He does this every time we read God’s Word and hear God’s Word. He teaches us the difference between right and wrong. He gives us biblical convictions regarding morality and life choices. Based on this new information, we are expected to be transformed = “metamorphosis.” Meaning: Wehave to change the way we walk, talk, think, and act. Truth without Change is a Couch Potato. Is there a noticeable change in the way you think and live?

Finally, “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The benefit of rejecting worldly values and applying godly truth is that you are able to “prove” the will of God. Some people are waiting to “discover” God’s will in—Who to marry? When to go back to school? What career to choose? What financial decision to make? Where to live? How to rear their children? If you are one of these people, you may be waiting forever! Here’s the truth from Romans 12:2—when you reject the values of this age and apply the truth of God’s Word, you are already in God’swill. Can you imagine an apple tree wondering—“What kind of fruit does God want me to bear? Which colour apple will it be? Green, yellow, or red.” Of course not! When the conditions are right – right soil, right sunlight, right water –the tree will prove by its fruit what colour apples it bears.

Someone might object – what if I make a mistake? Let me ask you – If you reject worldly values and obey God’s Word, will He allow you to go off a cliff? And, even if you miss a step, does He not promise “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

Begin today by receiving Jesus as your Savior, which is God’s first will for your life (II Pet. 3:9). And, as God told the people of Israel—“You have circled this mountain long enough.” Go forward and prove His good, acceptable, and perfect will for your life.

ONE SERMON YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO MISS

ONE SERMON YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO MISS – Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

One_Sermon_you_cannot_afford_to_missRomans 12:3   For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Overall Background: In ancient Greece, Delphi was the site of the famous Temple of Apollo. Inside the forecourt of the temple were three maxims/proverbs carved into the wall. One of them read – gnwthi seauton = “know thyself” or “know yourself” (Latin –nosce te ipsum).

Temple of Apollo - Delphi

Temple of Apollo – Delphi

Throughout history people have been trying to know themselves – the hardest thing to do. Benjamin Franklin once said,“There are 3 things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” (Poor Richard Almanak)

This message matters because as you truly know yourself, you will truly begin to appreciate you.

In Romans 12:3, Paul lays out the secret of how to know one’s self.

I. THIS SUBJECT CAN ONLY BE APPROACHED BY THE GRACE OF GOD.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you,

Background: Paul does not begin by poking his finger in the chest of his readers. He approaches the subject with great gentleness and wisdom. He begins by humbling Himself and recognizing that His authority comes only by the grace of God.

In I Corinthians 15:10 we hear of Paul’s view of grace in his life – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

I Corinthians 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Charles Spurgeon – “Free grace can go into the gutter, and bring up a jewel!”

Application: Anytime we want to point out someone’s faults, we should begin with the understanding that we are no better. We are everything we are by the grace of God. How sadly we tend to forget where we came from.

II. IT’S NOT A SIN TO THINK OF ONESELF.

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,

Background: Some people think that humility means that we are never to think of ourselves. The Bible never says that. The Bible does not say – “Don’t think of yourself.” The key in that statement is “more highly.”

Not thinking of ourselves or talking low of ourselves is not humility but lying. Many times when people say – “Oh I am a nobody or nothing,” they are really saying, “Come on, compliment me. Tell me that I am somebody.” It’s like they are fishing for a compliment.

–       If you are good in math, it’s not humility to say – “I’m not good with numbers.”

–       If you are a good cook, it’s not humility to say – “I’m not the worst cook in the world.”

–       If you are good teacher, it’s not humility to say – “I’m the most ignorant person in the room.”

Don’t look down on someone for being honest about their intellectual and moral gifts. Don’t complement someone when that’s not true.

Unless we begin to tell the truth, we cannot understand ourselves.

Application: Do you pretend to be humble or do you lie?

III. DON’T CONFUSE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF SELF WITH PLAYING THE GAME.

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,

Background: Some people confuse self-knowledge for propriety and etiquette and groups and clubs and styles.

–       To know how to hold the teacup when you are hanging out with your high-class friends is not self-knowledge.

–       To know how things work at the local country club is not self-knowledge.

–       To know how to crack insider jokes is not self-knowledge.

–       To know the lingo, the walk, the talk, the look when you get around your group is not self-knowledge.

That’s call acting. True self-knowledge is the real you when the curtain falls, the lights are turned off and the crowd has gone home.

For e.g. That’s why in marriage argument you often hear things like – “I don’t know who you are anymore.” “You are not the person I knew when we are dating.” Why? You started playing the game for some reason and now the game is playing you.

For e.g. Like dungeons and dragons – they forgot when the game ended and real life began.

Application: Do you know the real you or the pretend you?

IV. DON’T BE INTOXICATED WITH PRIDE.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly,

Background: Once again, Paul uses an interesting imagery for us. He tells us to be sober, as opposed to being drunk.

How does a drunken man or woman act? They brag about themselves. They talk big about themselves. They tend to forget their weaknesses and exaggerate their strengths.

For e.g. Travis Tritt’s song – “Ten Feet tall and bullet proof.”

When we are drunk with pride:

–       We foolishly think that we are better than others, when we are not. F.B. Meyer – Don’t flatter yourself when it comes to “face or lace or place or even grace.”

–       We try to cover up for blemishes and only put forth our commendable qualities. For e.g. The fruit sellers in India put the shiniest and the best bananas on top and the bad ones on the bottom. You have to move them around and check them.

–       We compare our best qualities with other people’s worst.

This does not mean that we need to blast all our weaknesses everywhere. It simply means that we need to think soberly of our selves.

Application: Do you think of your self soberly?

V. OUR TRUE MEASURE IS IN FAITH.

but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Background: Our standard of measurement is not physical or mental strength but faith. Not knowledge of God but faith in God. It is about our relationship with God.

–       How you see God in your life?

–       How you see God in your trials?

–       How you see God in your life to come?

–       How you see God in the face of death?

Henry Ward Beecher said, “You must measure, not where you touch the ground, but where you touch the sky. You must measure, not the root, but the blossom; not the leaf, but the fruit.”

My ultimate worth is who I am in Jesus Christ.

My greatest desire when I leave this world is for people to say what the Shunammite woman said to her husband of the prophet Elisha– II Kings 4:9 And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.”

When it comes to knowing yourself – 1. This Subject can only be approached by the Grace of God; 2. It’s not a Sin to think of oneself; 3. Don’t confuse true knowledge of self with playing the game; 4. Don’t be intoxicated with pride; and 5. Our true measure is in faith.

Someone might say – No one can do that! One person did and His name is Jesus. On the night that He Christ-Washing-Peters-Feet-_Ford-Madox-Browncelebrated the Passover with His disciples – John 13:3-5, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,  4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

John 13:12-17  12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Application: What would happen if every marriage, home, Clearview, city, county, and our nation began to seriously apply Romans 12:3?

Is Jesus your Master and Teacher? Then you have to do what He said to do.

If He is not, today is the day of salvation.

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WILL, NOT DREAD IT

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WILL, NOT DREAD IT – By Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

DELIGHT IN GOD'S WILL, NOT DREAD IT

Everybody knows God’s will for someone else’s life. I know God’s will for your life and I’m sure, you know God’s will for my life. We know what our children should do when they grow up. We know whom our friends should marry. We know what that person on the next pew should be doing with their life and how they should be rearing their kids. The only thing we don’t know is “what is God’s will for my own life?” We are like that man who went to the psychiatrist with an omelet on his head. The psychiatrist asked him, “How can I help you?” The man replied – “I don’t need any help. I’m here to talk to you about my brother.” That’s how many people are. In fact, many people are terrified at the thought of God’s will for their life.

Rom 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Overall Background: Many people have the false understanding that God’s will is dreadful, painful, and awful. They think that if they submit to God’s will, then bad things will happen—they may get called to live in abject poverty or go on the mission field; they may get terribly sick and even die; or they may even lose a relationship or someone special from your life. Nothing is further from the truth! All the above are the enemy’s scare tactics to keep us from trusting God and receiving the best for our life. When we come to God and seek His will for our lives, He does not say – “Let me see…what can I do to make your life miserable?” To the contrary, Romans 12:2 is a beautiful description of how God’s will works in our lives. There are three basic important principles to apply.

I. AVOID THE WORLD’S VALUES.

“And do not be conformed to this world,

Background: The word “World” is actually “age” = the culture in which we live. The translation should actually read “do not mold yourself to this age.” Meaning: Don’t try to become like the generation you are living in.”

Now, people throughout history have misunderstood that command. They think that in order to avoid being conformed to this world, we need to run away from it. They think that in order to be a Christian, you have to join a monastery or become an Amish. That’s not true.

For e.g. Past summer I met a couple at camp who shared with me how they both grew up Amish and when they were teens, they left their Ordnung and lived in rebellion for a while and later came to know Christ as their Savior. I asked him – how many Amish are really saved? His answer – “it’s a way of life for many and has nothing to do with Christ.

When it says – “Do Not Mold Yourself to the Age in which you are living” – it does not mean:

–       technology and scientific inventions of this age (using cell-phones or sending telegrams)

–       clothing and styles of this age (dress like people did during the Elizabethan era or Victorian era; how about the hook and eye Baptists who thought that buttons were worldly.)

–       language and communication of this age (talk and pray in King James English)

–       food and drinks of this age (eating can food or not)

–       and the music of this age (Should we stick to Acappella music or Praise band)

Meaning – you can live primitive, act primitive, and think primitive and still be lost. Someone might say – “I’m a conservative.” No – you are a preservative.

What this verse really means is that “don’t conform yourself to the values of the age/culture in which you live.

What are the Values of this Age? If you look at some of the shows that are on TV, you will know very quickly what the world values. They revolve around Money, Sex, and Power.

–       God is not the center and focus of your life.

–       God’s Word is not the final authority in your life.

–       Think about your own happiness.

–       If it feels good do it; If it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone do it.

–       Get rich at any cost.

Application: Are you trying to become like the people in their values and thinking? Some of the shows we are watching are spiritually evil, sexually deviant, morally degrading, and anti-God.

II. APPLY THE TRUTH FROM GOD’S WORD.

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

What does that mean? “By the renewing of your mind.” Once you are saved, the Holy Spirit begins the process of re-programming/re-formatting your mind.

For e.g. The young people will understand this illustration. If your computer ever gets a bad virus, sometimes you have to reformat everything. If you do, all your previous data will be lost. After reformatting, your computer is like brand new.

That’s why it is vital that we read God’s Word and hear God’s Word and get into Sunday School and Bible studies. That’s how our mind is renewed. How you think is how you behave.

When the Holy Spirit reformats us, we don’t loose all our memory. We still have some of that old junk still saved up here. But, now we have a new operating system. It’s a whole new format.

How does this work? Romans 1:29-32 gives us a list of viruses that come from the world. Let’s look at our list from Romans 1:29-32

–       28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality – God created sex. It’s beautiful. It should be enjoyed in the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman.

–       Wickedness, covetousness – Desiring something that belongs to someone else.

–       maliciousness – just being hateful in our words, thoughts, and actions.

–       full of envy – not only desiring something that belongs to someone else but also hating that person who owns/possesses it.

–       murder – Abortion is murder. Euthanasia is murder.

–       haters of God – God has blessed us so much and we should welcome Him.

–       violent, proud, boasters – God hates the proud but gives grace to the humble.

–       disobedient to parents, 

–       31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful – Instead of believing that love covers a multitude of sins

Once this change of mind starts taking place, start applying it. The word for transformation is “metamorphosis.” Start changing in the way you walk, talk, think, act, and interact. It’s not automatic.

For e.g. Like that old farmer – When lightning struck his old barn, he said – That’s wonderful! God saved me from having to tear it down. When it rained all day, he said – That’s wonderful! God saved me from having to wash my car. When asked what he was doing sitting on the porch during the harvest, he said – “I waiting for an earthquake. God is going to help me shake the potatoes out of the ground.”

You know better. Now start living better according to the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. You are no longer the same. Sometimes the change is faster in some people than others. Don’t try to compare one person’s change to another. Nonetheless, the change is real. It is noticeable.

Application: Has there been a change of mind? Has there been a change of action.

III. APPROVE GOD’S WILL BY LOOKING BACK.

that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Background: People have the wrong understanding that you have to go around trying to discover God’s will as if its hidden somewhere, as if God wants you to search and search, as if He gets His angels to hide it from you. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many people are sitting around waiting for God to show them His will—Who to marry? What career to choose in life? What financial decision to make? How many children to have? Where to live? You are going to wait forever.

For e.g. How does an apple tree bear fruit? Does it stand out in the field and wonder what kind of fruit does God want me to bear this year? Which colour apple does He want this year? Green, yellow, or red. When the conditions are right – right soil, right sunlight, right water – it will bear the right apples in their season (between early September and mid-October in NC). It will prove what colour apples come from that tree.

Listen to that verse once again – Rom 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

As you reject the worldly values and begin to put into practice what you are learning, your life is automatically in the will of God. In due season you will prove the will of God in your life.

What will the will of God look like? GAP TEST – Good, Acceptable and Perfect.

Good – No evil intent, no making your life miserable.

Acceptable – When all’s said and done, it will be acceptable to God and to you.

Perfect – There’s no cutting corners here; no second best; no favourites here.

As Rom. 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

You can look back at your life and see the things that were done according to God’s will and put them to the GAP TEST.

Application: The first will of God for everyone’s life is for him or her to be saved.

II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOUR SELFMany people have a false understanding of how God sees us. They see God as looking down with anger or disapproval. They also see God as demanding obedience. They see God as only interested in saving our souls and not interested in our physical bodies. Sadly, all these have a direct impact on how we see ourselves. Rom. 12:1 is a corrective to many wrong beliefs we have about ourselves.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Overall Background:  Some people see the Book of Romans as a deep theological book with spiritual principles. Nothing could be further from the truth. From Romans 1-11 Paul has focused on theology and doctrine. Now, starting in Romans 12, Paul is focusing on application.

There are 4 things packed in this passage that will change the way we see our self.

I. GOD CALLS US FRIENDS NOT SLAVES.

Listen to how verse 1 begins “I beseech you therefore, brethren”

Background: That word “beseech” implies tenderness. Paul did not say “I command you” or “I order you” or “You better.” Paul could have done that –

  • As an apostle, he had the authority to command them.
  • There are commands in the Bible for Christians. Look in John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Why did Paul not command us? Because the Christian life is not motivated by a set of rules, checklist, duty, fear, or punishment. It is motivated by love.

For e.g. My wife loves me. She does things for me daily that I don’t even realize. I’m glad she does them for me because if not we’d be in trouble. But what if I made up a list of all the things that she has to do and put it on the refrigerator and titled them “Commandments to be obeyed by wife.” I would be in the doghouse. She does it out of love and not duty or fear.

Listen to what Jesus said in John 15:14-15  14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

This is the difference between Christianity and all the other religions. Obedience is part of all religions. Christianity is unique in that the relationship is one of friend not slave.

Application: How do you view yourself? As a wretched sinner at the feet of a Holy Savior, as a worthless slave at the doorstep of the Master of the Universe.

How do you obey God? Grudgingly? Fearfully? Or Friendly? Psalm 119:143 “Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights.” Are you doing it because you have to or because you love Him so much that you cant help but do so?

II. GOD REMINDS US OF HIS MERCIES NOT JUDGMENTS.

I beseech you therefore, (“therefore” points back to all that has gone before Romans 12:1 – everything between Romans 1-11.) brethren, by the mercies of God,

Background: What are these mercies? All these mercies of God have been laid out between Romans 1-11. Let me summarize them:

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Rom. 1:18)
  • Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, as promised by the Scriptures and gave His life on the cross for our sins.
  • He died for the sins of every human being. All we have to do is receive Him as our Savior and all our sins are forgiven.
  • But that’s not enough. We still have a problem – we belong to the family of Adam/the family of Sin. We still carry the germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family. The Blood can forgive us of our sins but only death can get us out of the family of sin.
  • Jesus not only died as our Substitute but He also died as our Representative. Meaning: He died our death from the family of Adam. All we have to do is keep our eyes on the cross and there we will see that “We have been baptized into His death and we were buried with Him.” That’s what baptism symbolizes.
  • But, there’s more mercy – Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and when He arose, we arose with Him to “walk in newness of life.” His resurrection represented our new birth in the family of God. We died in Him as the last Adam and we live in Him as the second man.
  • There’s more mercy – Now we are no longer under law but under grace. We have a new law. It is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
  • So how do we live? So how do we deal with Sin? Not by keeping the Law but by walking according to the Spirit. You are no longer alone. You have the Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you and empowering you and making Christ real in you and “working all things together for good to those who love God.”

That in a nutshell is “the mercies of God.”

Application: What is your motivation of the Christian life? Is it judgment or punishment or disfavor or is it the mercies of God. Have you received the mercies of God? Are you saved? Is Jesus your Savior? Have you by faith received Him as your Representative? Are you living under grace? Is the Holy Spirit leading you?

III. GOD LOVES THE WHOLE OF US – SOUL AND BODY.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,”

Background: What is very interesting to me is that Paul does not say – present your soul, spirit, or heart. Instead, he tells us to present our physical bodies.

Throughout history people have looked down upon the body. For example, the Greeks stressed the importance of the soul but did not care about the body. Even in Christian history people have looked down upon the physical side of us as being sinful, carnal, fleshly, dirty, worthless, and temporary. You hear that even at funerals – “This body is just the shell/husk. The real person is no longer here.”

Some have purposely punished their bodies as the source of their sins and problems. They have subjected themselves to long fasts, and scourging and wearing cilice – a hair shirt or a barbed chain. They believe that they have to mortify their bodies in order to please God and be acceptable to Him. Some of the ancient paintings and stained-glass windows show Christians and martyrs as being pale and sickly and withered.

But listen again to how God sees our physical bodies – present (not hand it over or relinquish or surrender or bind) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” (God calls our bodies as holy and acceptable to Him.)

What can we draw from this passage?

#1.God wants us to take care of our physical selves just as much as try to take care of our spiritual selves. We spend so much on developing our spiritual side but completely neglect or trash our physical side. We are rough on ourselves. We have bad habits that are ruining our bodies. We would not dream of soiling and corrupting ourselves with pornography and immoral things. Yet, we do that all the time with our physical bodies.

#2.God wants us to be happy with ourselves. No one is ever truly happy with himself or herself – someone doesn’t like their eyes, nose, legs, and hair. By the way – hair doesn’t count for women. They can always change the color. The point is – we are never quite satisfied with how God made us. We talk bad about ourselves. We cut ourselves down. Researches have found that people who are extremely encouraging to others are sometimes extremely harsh on their own selves.

#3.God wants us to trust Him with our physical problems. He is willing to give us grace in the time of our need. This specially shows up when we are facing back, knee, migraines, and cancer problems.

Application: How do you see your physical body? As a curse, as a source of trouble, as not good enough, or as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God?

IV. GOD ONLY EXPECTS FROM US WHAT HE HAS ALREADY GIVEN TO US.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Background: The word for “reasonable” is a hard word. It shows up only one other time in the NT. There are many ways that different versions have translated this word. Some say “spiritual worship,” some “rational worship” or “intelligent worship” or “true worship.” Taking the context into consideration, I have a better translation – “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is a worship that makes sense. Meaning: It’s not unreasonable. It’s not unfair. It’s not over the top. It’s not expecting too much.

Why? God only wants what already belongs to Him.

I Corinthians 6:19-20  19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Application: Some people over indulge their bodies. If you are saved, you are a new creation. You belong to Him – body and soul.

When General Booth of the Salvation Army was in his deathbed, someone asked him – “What has been the secret of your amazing ministry?” The Old General, propping himself up on his elbow said, “Well, if there’s been any secret at all, it’s just been this – Jesus has had every bit of me.”

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