Choose Jesus, Choose Life by Pastor Abidan Paul Shah

CHOOSE JESUS, CHOOSE LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

choosejesusIntroduction: This is the third message in our series on the Trinity titled – “BATTLE OF THE GODS.” We are studying the words of Jesus in John 5 where He gave us a glimpse into the eternal godhead. Today we will focus on the second person of the Trinity, the Son, and how he gives us life. The message is called – “CHOOSE JESUS, CHOOSE LIFE.”

John 5   22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

Bridge: Sometime back I was at a business where the father had now retired and the son was running everything. I asked the father – “How does it feel to turn things over to your son?” He answered – “It was time for my son to take over. He proved himself worthy of handling the business.” Then he added – “I am still in charge but I am very proud of the man He has become.” A similar transfer of business also took place in the Trinity after the second person of the godhead, the Son, set aside His divine glory, humbled himself, took the form of a bondservant, and came into this world in the likeness of men. The Father was so pleased with Him that He turned everything over to Him. Even though the Father is still superior, if you want to come to Him you have to go through the Son.

Context: In the passage today we will go deeper in the mystery of the godhead. What we will learn today is the role of Jesus in our salvation. Father is still in charge but you have to come through the Son. To be made alive, you have to respond to the voice of the Son.

Question: Have you been to the Son? Have you heard His voice calling you from the dead? Do you realize that if you haven’t responded to His voice, you may be physically alive but you are spiritually dead? You may be a good person, a kind person, a giving person but you are still a dead person until you respond to the voice of the Son of God. Are you saved? If you are saved, are you echoing His voice to others who are lost?

3 questions about “Choosing Jesus, Choosing Life.” Let the Holy Spirit open your ears.

I. WHY DID THE FATHER TURN THINGS OVER TO THE SON? 

22 “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.”

Background: When you read the Old Testament, God the Father is the ultimate judge.

In Genesis 18:25 Abraham speaking to the pre-incarnate Christ referred to God as the “…judge of all the earth…”

In Judges 11:27 Jephthah the judge said, “…May the LORD, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.”

Psalm 105:7 says, “He is the Lord our God: he is judge of all the earth.”

There are plenty more passages in the Old Testament and even in the Rabbinic writings that claimed that the Father was the ultimate judge. But something changed when the Son lovingly and humbly submitted to the will of the Father and came into the world to give His life on the cross. He could have rejected the Father’s plan. He could have suggested an alternate plan. He could have at the last moment backed out of the plan. Instead, He did what the Father even before the creation of the world had decreed – the Son would become the Lamb slain for the sins of the world.

At the baptism in Matthew 3:17 says, “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Again in Matthew 17:5 at the Mount of Transfiguration it says “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’” The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 5   8 “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek.’” Paul said it best in Philippians 2   5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Here’s the point – The Son lovingly and humbly submitted Himself to the will of the Father by giving His life for us. In turn, the Father gave Him the gavel to judge the world. Now if you want to come to the Father, you have to go to the Son. Listen again to John 5 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Application: Have you been to the Son? No use talking about how much you love God and how much you pray everyday. No use talking about what church you’re a member of and how much good you do for others. The Father hates the talk that bypasses the Son. Has there been a point in your life when you acknowledged that Jesus is God’s Son who died on the cross for your sins 2000 years ago? Have you asked Him to be your Savior?

II. HOW DOES THE SON EXECUTE JUDGMENT? 

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Background: Don’t misunderstand this point. The Son becoming the judge of the world does not mean that He puts on some heavenly robe and sits in some heavenly court and supervises attorney’s arguing their cases, witnesses taking their stand, defendants pleading their innocence, and criminals getting their due penalty. He is not sitting all large and in charge rapping and slamming the gavel on the judges bench – “Order in the court.” In fact, in John 8:15 Jesus clarifies that His judgment is different – “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.” His judgment begins with pleading with every person to hear His word, believe in the Father who sent Him, and accept His sacrifice for his or her sins.

What an unusual judge! Imagine if the judge would come off the stand and walk up to the criminals (By the way, all of us are criminals because we have not only broken God’s laws but we are born as law breakers/sinners.) and start pleading with them to accept His forgiveness. What if he tells them – “I’ve paid your debt and you can go free. I’ve taken your punishment and you don’t have to serve time. I’ve served your death penalty and you are free to go.” That would be crazy! This is the judgment that Jesus executes and has been. Sometimes people come to the church and they are judging everything. They even sit there in judgment on my sermon. What they don’t realize is that the whole time they are under judgment themselves! “Who me?! You must know me! I’m this, that, and the other.” Listen to John 9   39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” 40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

Application: Have you heard the judge calling your name? Have you responded to Him and received His pardon? Is Jesus your Savior? Listen to John 12   47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

III. WHO IS THE ULTIMATE JUDGE?

25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

Background: Here Jesus is not referring to some future point but “now is,” which means its right now. He is not referring to physically dead people but spiritually dead people. He is not referring to “hear” as in auditory comprehension but “hear” as in personal acceptance of the words of Jesus. In the context, it means obeying the gospel of Christ.

What will follow? 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. Now Jesus is pointing to the future resurrection to come one day when those who have received Christ in this life will rise to life and those who have done evil by rejecting Him to condemnation. You are the ultimate judge of your destiny.

Illustration: Many of you have probably heard the story of George Wilson. Many preachers have shared it. It was back in 1829 when George Wilson along with James Porter had robbed a United States mail carrier. They were caught and found guilty of 6 charges that included robbery of mail (a big offense) and putting the life of the driver in jeopardy. Their sentence was death by hanging. Porter was hung but Wilson was not. He had some influential friends who pleaded with President Andrew Jackson for his pardon, which he did. Surprisingly, he rejected the pardon. The Supreme Court had to step in and rule on the case. Chief Justice John Marshall delivered the opinion of the court – “A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him.” George Wilson was hung because he rejected a pardon for his crime.

When you refuse to receive Jesus as your savior, you condemn yourself to everlasting death. You are the ultimate judge of your destiny.

Are you saved?

WHEN GOD CALLS YOU (Clearview Followup)

WHEN GOD CALLS YOU (CLEARVIEW FOLLOWUP) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, HendersonClearview Followup

Here are some key points to remember from the message:

  1. A Historical Fact to Learn: Capernaum was much more than just a fishing village. As I’ve mentioned before, Nicole and I have been there. It is on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. In ancient times it sat along an important trade route known as the Via Maris (Way of the Sea), which connected Egypt in the South to Syria in the North and Mesopotamia in the East. So people from everywhere passed through Capernaum. Not only that but because of the Sea of Galilee Capernaum was an important port for importing and exporting cargo. This  It was a big checkpoint for customs. This is why so many tax collectors/customs officials were there. There was a small Roman garrison in Capernaum. You can only imagine the brothels and prostitutes everywhere. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus picked Capernaum to be the base of His early ministry? Why? Because people from everywhere were there, especially the nonreligious types.
  2. A Theological Truth to Believe: What kind of a call did Jesus give to Levi/Matthew? Was it a call to salvation? I don’t think so because there’s nothing about belief in Jesus. Was it a call to discipleship, to growth in his faith? I don’t think so because discipleship does not mean that you have to quit your job. What kind of a call was this? It was a specific call that Jesus gave only one other time to people He picked to be His disciples. This was a call to a very specific life of being an apostle.
  3. A Biblical Principle to Apply: Matthew’s call was to go and call others. God reaches people through people. We are the instruments of His gospel. As a pastor, I may not be able to reach people that you can reach. They won’t listen to me but they will definitely listen to you. There are many people at Clearview who have come because a friend or neighbor invited them. Do you invite people to meet Jesus?

When God Calls You by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN GOD CALLS YOU by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

when-god-calls-youIntroduction: It’s time for our message, so turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Mark. For those of you who may not know, we’re in our series on the Life of Christ from all 4 gospels. Now before we begin I do have a confession to make. In the past 2 years since we began this series, I have unintentionally neglected one of those four gospels – the Gospel of Mark. So today we turn to Mark 2 for our message – “WHEN GOD CALLS YOU.”

Mark 2   14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Bridge: How many of y’all remember growing up playing pick up games after school or in the neighborhood? You wanted your name to be called, right? In fact, not having your name called was very embarrassing and painful to say the least.

Context: In this message we will see how Jesus called someone to follow Him who, according to the religious leaders of the day, was unfit to be called. To be more precise, his job made him unfit but according to Jesus He was a perfect fit for God’s kingdom.

Question: There are several calls from God that come in a person’s life. As a Christian, there is the call to discipleship. It’s God’s call to leave all behind and go further with Him? As a Christian, have you heard that call in your life? There’s another call that comes in a Christian’s life – the call to take on a special ministry or work. Don’t misunderstand. This does not necessarily have to be a call to preach. It is a call to join God in doing something to build His kingdom in this world. As a Christian, have you heard that call in your life? But before you get any of these calls, you have to answer the first call that comes in every person’s life – the call to be saved. Have you heard that call? Have you responded to Jesus as your Savior? Are you saved?

This morning we will learn how to respond when God calls you:

I. NATURE OF GOD’S CALL.

14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. People mistakenly assume that this was the first encounter of Jesus with Levi/Matthew. Not necessarily. I believe that Jesus knew Levi/Matthew very well and probably had several conversations with Him.

Let’s back up a little bit and get the whole context starting in verse 13 “Then He went out again by the sea…”

capernaum-aerial

Capernaum Aerial

Background: Where is this “by the sea”? This is Capernaum. As I’ve mentioned before, Nicole and I have been there. It is on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. In ancient times it sat along an important trade route known as the Via Maris (Way of the Sea), which connected Egypt in the South to Syria in the North and Mesopotamia in the East. So people from everywhere passed through Capernaum. Not only that but because of the Sea of Galilee Capernaum was an important port for importing and exporting cargo. This was much more than just a fishing village. It was a big checkpoint

capernaum-ancient

Capernaum Ancient

for customs. This is why, as we will see later on, so many tax collectors/customs officials were there. There was a small Roman garrison in Capernaum. By the way, what else shows up around places like this? Brothels and prostitutes.

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus picked Capernaum to be the base of His early ministry? Why? Because people from everywhere were there, especially the

capernaum-synagogue

Capernaum Synagogue

nonreligious types. 13 “…and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.” Can you picture Jesus preaching to the multitudes along the countryside? Can you picture Him doing some of His greatest miracles there? Can you picture Him walking by the fishing boats and calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him? Can you picture Him teaching at the local synagogue, which was fairly new, built by a centurion whose servant Jesus healed? Can you picture Him walking through the streets of Capernaum and talking to the people?

The point is this – Jesus was not a stranger in Capernaum anymore. People recognized Him everywhere He went. Most of them had heard Him. Many of them knew someone

capernaum-ruins

Capernaum Ruins

in their family or neighborhoods that were healed by Him. Some of them may have even responded positively to His message. I’m going somewhere with this. When it says in verse 14 that Jesus saw Levi/Matthew and called him and he immediately left all, it does not mean that this was a first encounter. I believe that Jesus knew Levi/Matthew very well and probably had several conversations with Him. I believe that Matthew had probably seen firsthand some of His miracles. He had probably gone to hear Him preach many times. This was not a random call to some random person demanding a spontaneous life-long commitment. God doesn’t work that way.

capernaum-street

Capernaum Street

What kind of a call did Jesus give to Levi/Matthew? Was it a call to salvation? I don’t think so because there’s nothing about belief in Jesus. Was it a call to discipleship, to growth in his faith? I don’t think so because discipleship does not mean that you have to quit your job. What kind of a call was this? It was a specific call that Jesus gave only one other time to people He picked to be His disciples. This was a call to a very specific life. Sometimes I’m amazed at how people flippantly talk about responding to God’s call to do this or that. Then they go out and make a mess out of things and return with their tail between their legs. What happened? I don’t know. I guess I misheard.

Here’s the point: Take the time in prayer to discern God’s call in your life. If God is tugging on your heartstrings this morning and you’ve never given your heart to Jesus, the first call you need to respond to is salvation. If you are saved and God is tugging on your heartstrings again, don’t run out and try to start some ministry. You will become a liability. First, examine your heart for any sin that you are ignoring or covering up. Maybe, God’s call for you is to repent. If you are saved, your sins are fessed up, and you still feel God is tugging on your heartstrings, check God’s Word to see if there is some place in your life that you need to be obedient. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not suggesting that unless all the boxes are checked that you cannot follow God’s call in ministry. That will never happen. I’m just saying that we need to discern God’s call before we respond flippantly.

Application: What is God calling you to do? Receive Jesus as Your Savior or repent of some sin or obey some truth from God’s Word or follow Him in lifelong service?

II. CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S CALL.

15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many…”

Background: We don’t know if it were the same day or a few days later but Levi/Matthew must have asked Jesus – “How would you feel if I organize a big feast (as Luke has it) at my place and invite some of my buddies to come? They probably won’t ever go to a synagogue but they might come to hear you. Just want to forewarn you – Some of them are a little rough around the edges.” You can picture a smile come across Jesus’ face as he replied – “Matthew, that’s why I came.” Matthew probably said – “I figured you’d say that.” Can you picture him going all out for this dinner party to invite all his friends to meet Jesus? I wonder if Jesus helped out? I think He did. I can see Him sweeping the floors, wiping down the tables, and even cleaning the fish.

Feast with Tax Collectors and Sinners

Feast with Tax Collectors and Sinners

They came and it was a party like none other. All lost people gathered around the Son of God having a party. What was the result? “…and they followed Him.” We don’t know the actual implications of “followed Him.” It could mean that they got saved and left their old lifestyles. It could mean that that got saved and gave their gifts to support the ministry of Jesus. It could also mean that they literally followed Jesus like Matthew. Tax collectors were among the literate people in ancient times. As you know Matthew wrote the first gospel. I can almost picture him telling his buddies who followed Jesus to take some notes. Is it any wonder the Matthew’s gospel is the most comprehensive of all 4 gospels?!! Matthew’s call was to go and call others.

Here’s the point: God reaches people through people. We are the instruments of His gospel. As a pastor, I may not be able to reach people that you can reach. They won’t listen to me but they will definitely listen to you. There are many people at Clearview who have come because a friend or neighbor invited them.

Application: Do you invite people to meet Jesus? Do you care about the salvation of your friends and neighbors? When was the last time you invited someone to church? Sometimes people are reluctant to come to church. When was the last time you invited someone to come over for a cookout and shared the good news with them in a non threatening manner?

III. OPPOSITION TO GOD’S CALL.

16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

Background: Tax collectors, even though they were Jewish by ethnicity, were out there with the gentiles and the prostitutes. The Romans had established a system of tolls and customs known as “portoria” all over the empire. Instead of wasting money and manpower to collect these tolls, they would farm them out to the highest bidder. Whoever won the bid would pay the amount set by the Roman government and then whatever he collected would be profit. These were the “telonai” or the “toll collectors” or “tax collectors.” You can just imagine how much this would get abused. Of course, they had the support of their tough guys and soldiers if needed. The people hated them and the religious leaders grouped them with robbers and even the Romans regarded them as brothel keepers (pimps). No religious parent in those would like their child to come home and say – “When I grow up, I’m going to be a tax collector.” Is it any wonder that the scribes and the Pharisees were shocked to see Jesus mingling with them?

What was Jesus’ response? 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Jesus was not saying that the religious leaders were the “righteous” who did not need to be saved. He was being sarcastic. The point was – “It is so much easier to convince an outright sinner that he/she needs to be saved than to convince a church going, Bible-toting, so called Christian that he/she is lost.”

Illustration: A man complained about the amount of time his family spent in front of the TV. His children watched cartoons and didn’t do their schoolwork. His wife watched soap operas instead of doing housework. He said, “I am going to fix the problem. I’m going to pulling the plug as soon as the baseball season’s over.”

Unless you are willing to admit that you are a sinner, you are not ready to be saved. Are you lost? What is God calling you to do? Is He calling you to lead your marriage and your home in His way? Is He calling you to some greater task? Did the Holy Spirit bring someone to your mind that you need to bring to Christ

Encounters 1 (Clearview Followup)

ENCOUNTERS 1 (Clearview Followup) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Encounters 1 (Clearview Followup)

2 important points to remember:

  1. First, Jesus knew all men (plural). Do you believe He knows everything about you? Do you believe He understands what you are going through right now?
  2. Second, Jesus knew what was in man (singular). Do you believe that Jesus knows the sin that’s in your heart? Do you believe that sin is our real problem?

2 questions to consider:

  1. Do you know any Nicodemus? Remember, they are moral but empty. They are powerful but weak. They have what they want but not what they need. They are willing to check it out but leery and suspicious of charlatans and fakes. They are searching but guarded. They are not bad people just lost people. How are you engaging him or her? Are you praying for him or her?
  2. What did you learn from Jesus’ way of engaging Nicodemus? You cannot insult people into the kingdom of God. You cannot assume that lost people understand all that we talk about, especially our spiritual lingo. You have to adapt to the level of your Nicodemus. You cannot assume that just because a person says he/she believes in Jesus that they are saved. You have to remind people that salvation may be mysterious but it’s real.

Major Point: A Salvation without a cross is no salvation at all.

Have you ever memorized John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 

You can never underestimate the power of God’s love.

Have you received the love of God shown in Christ on the cross?

Have You Received God’s Eternal Love?

HAVE YOU RECEIVED GOD’S ETERNAL LOVE? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

haveyoureceivedgod'seternalloveIntroduction: This morning is part 2 in our series – BEFORE THE MANGER: HOW CAN A BABY CHANGE MY LIFE? Today’s message is titled – “HAVE YOU RECEIVED GOD’S ETERNAL LOVE?”

Revelation 13   1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name…6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Overall Background: If there’s one book in the Bible that’s the most challenging to understand, it’s the Book of Revelation. There are as many views on this book as there are people reading it! I have studied this book for years and preached on it but I confess that there’s so much I still don’t know. But, in my opinion, the one theme that stands out over everything else in this book is this – “for every truth that God has given to us, Satan has tried to offer a counterfeit, especially when it comes to Jesus Christ.” In verse 8 we just read, people are worshiping the beast/Antichrist instead of the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” My purpose today is not to preach prophecy, maybe another time. My purpose is to tell you that Jesus Christ alone is the true Lamb of God. He is not some afterthought. He is not some last-ditch effort to rescue humanity. He is not some contingency plan drafted at the last minute to help us. Jesus was not brought in at the last moment as the ship was sinking. “Would you please be our lifeboat, our life jacket and save us?” Jesus was the “Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.”

Question: Who is Jesus to you? Is He just one of many ways to God or is He the Lamb of God? Is He just a good thing to have along with many other things or is He your only hope of salvation? Do you understand the eternal love of God for you and me even before time began? Are you saved?

Today we will try to understand the eternal love of God for us in Jesus Christ. First, we will see what a counterfeit looks like and then, we will see the true savior.

I. THE COUNTERFEIT SAVIOR 

Listen again to verse 1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. What exactly is going on here? First, what is this sea? Revelation 17:15 clarifies that “The waters which you saw, . . . are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” The sea is the “sea of humanity.” Out of the millions of faces in the sea of humanity there will rise the beast who will grow in prominence and power. Some think that this beast will be a religious organization. Others think it’ll be a king or a kingdom. Either way, the source of this beast will be this world. By the way, the source of Jesus is not this world. He made this world but He is from above.

Verse 2 “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” The Dragon of course is Satan who will offer the beast all this. Do you remember the last time Satan offered someone all the kingdoms of the world and authority and glory? It was to Jesus when He was fasting in the wilderness. Jesus refused but the beast will receive it. Verse 3 “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” Do you see what’s happening here? Satan is creating a counterfeit savior! The beast will die and then he or it will be resurrected just like Jesus died on the cross but rose again on the third day. Verse 4 “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” Just as God the Father receives the worship through God the Son, the devil will receive worship through the beast. Then he will blaspheme God and use charming words to draw people away from Christ and even war against God’s people and overcome them.

Verse 7 “And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” Who does that remind you of? Jesus! As He was taken up into heaven He said in Matthew 28 18 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Now Satan is trying to counterfeit the glorified and ascended Christ. Will all this counterfeiting work? Verse 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him.” The world would rather worship the beast, the Antichrist, or the false Christ instead of Jesus Christ. But listen to the words following – “whose names have not been written in the Book of Life.”

Throughout the history of this world, Satan has been trying to counterfeit the true Savior. He tried with Cain by getting him to bring an offering of fruits and vegetables. He tried it with children of Israel by getting them to worship the golden calf. Satan is not interested in take us away from worship. He just wants us to worship some false substitute.

Application: Whom are you worshipping? Is it the counterfeit or is it the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world? The counterfeit doesn’t have to be a scary beast or Antichrist. It can be self. It can be religion. It can be a false idea or view of God. If it’s anything or anyone other than Christ, then you are lost?

II. THE TRUE SAVIOR 

Let’s go back to verse 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life.” Meaning: The names of true believers are in the Book of Life. Who does this book belong to? “the Book of Life of the Lamb.” Meaning: The rightful owner of this book is Jesus Christ. Why is He the rightful owner? “the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Because Jesus resolved to give His life for us even before He created this world. Yes – 2000 years ago Jesus died on a hill called Calvary outside a city called Jerusalem. But before there was a hill or a city or this earth or this universe, even before a single atom or molecule was even created, the work of redemption was as good as done. This is why in Ephesians Paul calls the salvation of God His “eternal purpose.” (Ephesians 3:11)

Since the beginning of time the world has been waiting for this Lamb to come. In the Old Testament the big question was “Where is the Lamb?”

  • Remember when Abraham was told in Genesis 22:2 “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” On the way there, Isaac asked his father in verse 7 “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” 9 “…And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.”…13Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The–LORD–Will–Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” Jehovah Jireh literally means “Jehovah will see.” This was a foreshadow of the Lamb of God.
  • Remember in the Book of Exodus the Hebrews where in slavery in Egypt. In Exodus 2:24 God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. He sent Moses to redeem His people. Pharaoh kept hardening his heart and God sent one plague after another. Then came the final plague – death of every male firstborn. God told Moses in Exodus 12 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel… “…every man shall take for himself a lamb…5 Your lamb shall be without blemish…6…Then…kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses…” 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike Just as God had told them, it happened. This was a foreshadow of the Lamb of God. In I Corinthians 5:7 Paul says, “…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” So also Peter in I Peter 1 says 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
  • In Isaiah 53 it says 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,

While the question in the Old Testament was “Where is the Lamb?” the answer in the New Testament was “Behold the Lamb.” John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Again in John 1:36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Everywhere Jesus went and everything He did He was allowing the people to examine Him and to see that He was indeed the spotless Lamb of God.

While the question in the Old Testament was “Where is the Lamb?” and the answer in the New Testament was “Behold the Lamb,” the focus in the rest of eternity will be “Worthy is the Lamb!” In the Book of Revelation 29 times Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God.

Revelation 5   11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

Will you part of those who praise Him? Do you know the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world? Are you saved

HARD HEADED PEOPLE

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HARD HEADED PEOPLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

hardheadedpeople

As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we will be looking at not just one but four passages for our message titled “HARD HEADED PEOPLE.” I know when I said that all of us thought of someone we know who is hard headed. But did you know that all of us to some extent are hard headed?

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Luke 5 4…He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking…10…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Calling of the Disciples

Map of the Calling of the Disciples around Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: We’ve come to that point in our series where Jesus actually began His ministry and He started by calling certain people to follow Him, to be His disciples. One of them was a man by the name of Simon. We know Him as Peter. We all know of Peter. People smile every time his name is mentioned – the first to jump up, speak out, brag, fall, and even repent. And boy, he was hard headed! For some reason we like Peter. Maybe its because he reminds us so much of our own self. When we think of Peter’s calling we only remember the time when Peter and his brother Andrew were by the Sea of Galilee mending their nets and Jesus called them to follow Him. It says that “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” It’s as if there were no second thoughts or hesitations, just immediate and total obedience. I’m sure we’ve heard some wonderful messages on the need to follow Jesus immediately. Only problem – did you know that there are 3 other times that Jesus called Peter?!! Apparently, one call wasn’t enough.

The point is – it took 4 different callings (at least that many are actually recorded in the gospels) before Peter left all and followed Jesus. The message is not just that we are hardheaded people. It is that God is gracious and compassionate more than we deserve. As much as we keep going back, He keeps reaching out to us, as He is right now.

Application: Is God calling you? Has He been knocking on the door of your heart? Are you saved? How many times does He have to keep coming by you?

Let the Holy Spirit open your heart as we look at the 4 callings of Peter:

CALLING #1 – SALVATION

John 1 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Background: This was no ordinary calling. This was a salvation calling. This is the first calling in the life of every Christian. Without this calling you cannot have any other calling. How do we know that this was a salvation calling? Because Jesus changed His name. Every time in the Bible God changed someone’s name, it was a reflection of something much greater – Abram became Abraham; Sarai became Sarah; Jacob became Israel; Saul became Paul. Name change implied a deep work of God in a person. It implied a change of identity. Deuteronomy 28:10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.”

Simon PeterSimon meant, “He has heard” or “God has heard.” His new name was going to be Cephas in Aramaic, which meant, “rock.” Rock in Greek was Peter.

When you become a child of God, you take on a new name and a new identity. Now you are called by the name of your Heavenly Father. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Did you also know that one day in heaven we’re all going to get new names? Revelation 2:17 “…To him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” By the way, even Jesus will have a new name – Revelation 3:12 “He who overcomes…I will write on him My new name.

Application: Has God called your name? Has He given you a new name? Are you saved?

Does this mean that Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #2 – SERVICE

Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Nicole and I walked around the Sea of Galilee and saw some of the fishing boats and the nets lying on the ground. It was awesome tothink about Jesus walking by that same seashore. Simon and Andrew were not just weekend fisherman or just some common laborers. Historical evidence shows that the fishing industry around Galilee was lucrative. There were not a whole lot of places where you could find freshwater fish. These men were successful businessmen. He came by their workplace. I love workplace ministry – reaching people where they are working. Work is not sinful or evil. It is good.

Galilee Fishing Boats

Galilee Fishing Boats (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

What did He say to them? 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It was a play on words. Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the sea for they were fishers (literally) but now they will be fishers of men (literally). Jesus did not come to make them jobless. Jesus called Simon not just to stop fishing but to start fishing for men. He came to give them new meaning and purpose in their jobs. No longer would it be just fishing but now it is fishing with a whole new purpose.

Being saved does not mean immediately you have to go preach. Jesus did not tell Simon – “Join the synagogue” or “start learning biblical Hebrew.” What it does mean is that now you have a new master, a new boss. Being a Christian is not just coming to church on Sunday mornings and sitting and listening to this man talk. It is to start living our lives within new purpose which is to build God’s kingdom. It can be done through teaching Sunday school or children’s ministry or something in church but it can also extend way beyond the walls of this church. Here the Holy Spirit helps us understand our spiritual gifts and start using them.

Application: Has God shown you His purpose for your life? It will change the way you see your job. It will change the way you see the people you interact with. Just like Peter we too are called to go find people. That’s what the ministries at Clearview are all about – Kindle, CWA, Sports, and First Responders.

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #3 – SUPERNATURAL MIRACLE

Luke 4 38 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house.

Capernaum

Capernaum (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Where did this happen? In Capernaum. In fact, the synagogue is about 50 yards from Peter’s house. Nicole and I were there about three weeks ago.

VIDEO FROM CAPERNAUM 

What happened at Peter’s house? 38 “…But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. Tradition tells us that Luke was a medical doctor and he is the only one who points out that it was a “high fever.” Meaning: this was serious. What was Jesus’s response? 39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. It was a miracle!

There’s a reason why the Holy Spirit allowed this incident to be mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This miracle was not as much for Peter’s mother-in-law as it was for Peter. Jesus had already called him twice but for some reason it did not convince him enough. In short, he was hardheaded. Yeah I’m saved. Yeah He came looking for me. Yeah I have a new purpose in life. But no I am not ready to follow him completely.

There are many Christians like that. Time after time God has called their name but they are still playing it safe. There are still not ready to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Christ. For them, sometimes it requires a miracle. There’s not a single person sitting here who claims to be a Christian who cannot say that God has done a miracle in their life. You prayed for a job and God gave you a job. You prayed for a relationship and God gave you a relationship. You prayed for healing and God gave you healing. You pray for your finances and God opened the gates of heaven and sent you blessing upon blessing. You prayed for spiritual insight and God brought you close to Him. Sadly, it’s still not enough for you.

Application: Did I just describe you? What will it take for God to convince you that He is real? What will it take for God to get your attention? When will you finally acknowledge that He is real and He is powerful and He is calling you trust Him and walk with Him and give your all to Him?

Does this mean Peter followed Jesus from there on? Sadly no.

CALLING #4 – SELF REVELATION

Luke 5 1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.

Picture that in your mind – the crowd is literally all over him because they want to hear the word of God but Jesus is looking for someone. Who is he looking for? 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, (I find that very interesting that he called him “master.” He didn’t mean it. Just like we’d talk about Jesus being our Lord but we don’t mean it. By the way, yes you can have Jesus as your Savior and still not have him as your Lord.)

Peter - Big CatchLuke 5 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

What a response! –“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” He finally saw himself for who he really was – just a worthless, hell bound sinner who had been rescued by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Up until that time, he was a good guy, doing the best he can. Now, he was a sinful man saved by the grace of God.

What did Jesus say to him? Verse 10 “…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Now it was the real response.

Invitation: how many times has God been calling you? What is keeping you from responding? What will it take for God to get your attention? Have you responded to his first call to be saved?

TRUE LIGHT

TRUE LIGHT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

TRUE LIGHT

This morning we are in John 1 in our series on the Life of Christ and our message is titled – “TRUE LIGHT.” Every town has that one house during Christmas that everything is lit up, even the doghouse! If you’re like me, you say – “I wonder what their electric bill’s gonna be like!” What do lights have to do with Christmas?

John 1 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Overall Background: The passage we just read has received more attention than probably any other portion of the Bible. Alexander MacLaren, called it “the profoundest page in the New Testament.” J. Sidlow Baxter called it “the primordial nucleus” of the whole book. It is rich with truth and imagery about Jesus. But typically when people come to this passage, they focus on Jesus being the Word of God – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Although that is important, the word “Word” occurs only 4 times in the opening chapter of John but the word “Light” is found in John everywhere –

  • In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
  • In John 9:5 Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
  • In John 12:46 Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”

A NT scholar by the name of J. Ramsey Michaels pointed out that – while the Word is the “audible revelation” of God, the Light is “the visible revelation.” What’s the difference? The Word tells us how to live. The Light shows us how to live. There’s a big difference between “tell” and “show.” Let me illustrate – let’s say the power was to go out and it’s pitch dark. I could tell you where to find the fuse box. If you could not see anything, more than likely you would never find it and even get hurt in the process. Or I could get a flashlight and tell you to follow me. Which one would you like? Of course – the flashlight. Jesus is not only the Word of God but He is also the Light of God.

Application: Do you need light in your life today? Then turn to Jesus. Are you facing a dark situation in your life? Ask Jesus to help. Does it seem like there is no way out? Trust him to show you the way. But first – is He your Savior? Are you following Him?

There are four things that will help us understand Jesus as the true light:

I. THE DARKNESS INSIDE US ALL. 

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Background: God made every human being in His image. Hence, we have the ability to love, reason, and create. This is the light of God in us but it’s also much more. You have to think about what makes a human being. We know that a human being is body and spirit – physical and spiritual. That’s the basic breakdown of every person in this world. But let’s study it a little more. The physical is not just the physiological but also the emotional and intellectual. Physiological – every person has a physical body (hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth). If you go deeper, then it is heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. Then there is also the Emotional – sadness, happiness, love, hate, fear, and hope. Then attached to it is the Intellectual – ability to reason, make decisions, create, and destroy. Every human being has some level of the physical, the emotional, and intellectual. Is this all there is to human beings? There’s one more thing – Spiritual. This goes beyond physical, emotional, and intellectual. No matter how strong a person will become as an athlete or how beautifully they can sing as an artist, no matter how a person can use or abuse their emotions – get angry or be patient or be happy or be sad, no matter how smart a person can become – invent the next greatest thing or harness the power of the atom or fly into space, there will always be a darkness deep within.

Do you want to know what this darkness is? It is the spiritual part of us. It is the need to connect with the creator. Augustine – the pastor of a church in Hippo (modern-day Algeria) in North Africa, a great pastor, leader, and Christian theologian – wrote in his book called confessions: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

Every culture, civilization, and people group has tried to turn on the light inside. Some have tried to worship the stars. Some have tried to worship the earth – trees, rivers, and the animals. Some have tried to worship another human being. Some have even tried to worship their own selves. Some have tried to worship a created object – an idol, a painting, or a temple. Some have tried to worship the oneness of God. But nothing turns on the light.

Listen again to John 1:4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Meaning: To have this light, you need the life of Jesus. It will not come from success at stretching your body to the limits, singing the highest or the lowest note, climbing the peak of the tallest mountain, jumping into the deepest sea, flying into deep space, being a good father, being a good mother, being a good neighbor, being a good citizen, inventing the next cure for cancer, or uncovering some hidden conspiracy. In only comes in the person of Jesus. This is the natural order of things. Colossians 3 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Application: Do you have Jesus? Is He in your life? Do you have a living connection with Him? If not, you are living in darkness, no matter how successful you are.

II. THE VICTORY OF LIGHT OVER DARKNESS.

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Background: Now we hear about a new concept – “darkness.” John assumes that the listener knows what this darkness is. The light was turned off when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It corrupted everything. It tore the original design. Since then darkness has tried to rule the world with collapse of traditional values, marital conflict, addiction, stealing, murder, hate, and enmity with God. The list goes on.

But John does not waste time discussing the darkness. He says, “the light has already come and it is shining brightly. What’s more? The translation says – and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Actually the translation should be “overtake it.” Do you know that darkness hates the light? Listen to John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

For e.g. Man made excuses about church. Why? It’s more fun to live in darkness.

But what’s the result of the conflict between light and darkness? Light won! As I John 2:8 says, “A new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” Isaac Watts wrote his famous hymn – Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does its successive journeys run; his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.”

Application: Do you believe that light will win over darkness? Are you living with that faith? Are you sharing the truth about Jesus with others?

III. THE NEED FOR WITNESSES OF LIGHT. 

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

Background: Why can’t light just shine and everybody be convinced that we need to go from darkness to light? Let me ask you a question – How do you convince the blind regarding light? It’s not just that people are living in darkness but that they are blind. They can’t see. Someone has to describe light to him or her.

John was a witness of the light:

  • Matthew 3 1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
  • Luke 3:16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
  • John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

People need witnesses because they are blind. The more they hear you, the more their eyes begin to open.

Application: Are you witnessing for Jesus? Are people around you seeing the light of Jesus? Have you seen the light? I cannot give witness until I’ve seen it myself.

IV. EVERYONE IS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE LIGHT.

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Do I have to explain that? Jesus is for every man but you have to receive Him as your Savior.

Some of us are looking at false lights. Jesus is the true light of the world who immediately sets everything into clear view – Sin is exposed, holiness is revealed, and salvation is offered. Without Christ we will continue to live in darkness in our homes, relationships, and spiritual lives. With Christ our world comes alive. Have you ever received the light of Jesus in your life?

NEAR AND YET SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH

NEAR AND YET SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR FROM THE TRUTHWe are in our series from the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we are in Matthew 2 for our message titled – “NEAR AND YET SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH.” We live in what is known as The Bible Belt, where we are surrounded by churches, Christian bookstores/schools/colleges, and Christian voices. But here’s the danger: Truth can be staring you in the face and you can still fail to recognize it.

Matthew 2 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet…

Overall Background: In the passage we just read, we see two different reactions to the coming of Jesus Christ. The first is the reaction of the magi from the east. If you remember from last week, they were nothing like what we have made them out to be. They were stargazers, astronomers, astrologers, dream interpreters, and sorcerers. If tradition is correct, they travelled from the city of Saveh in modern day Iran, which was 430 miles northeast of Bethlehem. That’s as far as from here to Atlanta. They had to cross the boundary of the Parthian kingdom and enter into the Roman territory, which was very dangerous. Not only that but they had to come into Palestine where the Jewish people didn’t like them much. But these magi were relentless. They were not going to stop until they found the King of the Jews – the Messiah!

The second reaction came only 6 miles northeast of Bethlehem from Herod the King. When the magi came to Jerusalem asking where is the King of Herod and magithe Jews, listen to his response in verse 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. One – he didn’t even know that Jesus was going to be born. Second – he didn’t rejoice but he was troubled. The magi found Jesus but Herod missed him – 430 miles vs. 6 miles, living in pagan Persia vs. living in biblical Palestine. Listen carefully – Nearness to the truth is no guarantee of reception of truth. Exposure to the truth does help but it will not guarantee that you will get saved. You may be living 5 minutes from church but it will not guarantee that you will come to Jesus.

What makes the difference? Jeremiah 29:13 “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Application: Are you seeking God with all your heart this morning? What is keeping you from finding Jesus this morning? If you have found Him, then wonderful but what is keeping your friend, family, and neighbors from finding Him? Are you praying they will find Him? Are you reaching out to them so they will find Him?

This morning we will see what kept King Herod from finding Jesus. Much of the information that I will be sharing comes from the first century Jewish historian Josephus. Basically three things blocked his view of Jesus: Work Problems, Family Problems, and Church Problems.

  1. WORK PROBLEMS

Herod WorkBackground: Herod’s grandfather had worked his way up and became the governor of Idumea. Herod’s father also followed in his footsteps and became even more successful. Sadly, some people were envious of his success and poisoned him. Now it was Herod’s turn. He was hard working. He had unending energy. He was not the type who just made his soldiers fight. He was unbeatable in hand-to-hand combat, a very good horseman, and also a good hunter. He did have a bad temper. He had all the Hasmoneans killed. He had one of his brother-in-laws – Aristobulus, the High Priest – killed. He had 300 of his military leaders killed. Yeah – he was ruthless in killing people but it was all for a good cause. Overall, he was generous. When there was drought, he used his own resources to help the people. He built up a strong military. He protected his people against bandits and tried to make his region safer and peaceful. He was an amazing architect. He built forts, public buildings, streets, water systems, supported the Olympic games and on and on.

Did the people love him for all this? Not really. His people didn’t appreciate him. The Jewish people didn’t accept him because he wasn’t Jewish. His enemies tried to bring him to trial. The supporters of the opposition group tried to attack his family. He had to fight off the Parthians. He had to constantly keep Rome happy. I feel sorry for the guy. Don’t you? Yes – He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but he still had to work for every bit of what he had and people didn’t appreciate him.

Do you know people like that? They’ve worked hard all their lives. They’ve had to deal with junk. Yeah they made some bad choices but who doesn’t. They’ve tried to help people but they were not appreciated. Work is good but it still won’t earn you heaven.

Matthew 16:26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Meaning: You can have the whole world and still lose your soul.

Application: Are you relying on your hard work to get to heaven? Are you relying on your career to get you into heaven? Do you feel that God will just give you heaven because of all that you’ve had to deal with from Monday to Friday? Do you think the good you’ve done for people trumps the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross?

2. FAMILY PROBLEMS 

Background: Herod’s family life was a mess, partly because he had ten wives and each of them wanted their son(s) to be the next king. His second Nativitywife deserves to mentioned in particular. He dismissed his first wife and son to marry Mariamme, a woman from a Hasmonean (prominent Jewish) family. Initially he did it to help his position, which it didn’t, but then he really loved her and had 5 children with her. She knew what he was like and she didn’t love him. As Josephus the historian said, “her hatred of him was as great as was his love for her.” Herod’s sister started a rumor that Mariamme was cheating on him and in a fit of rage he had her killed. Then, he realized what he had done and began to grieve over her and even refused to believe that she was dead. He loved the two oldest sons he had with her and even sent them to Rome for their education, hoping to turn the kingdom over to them. When they returned they were arrogant and Herod couldn’t stand that. He even heard rumors that they wanted to avenge their mother’s death. After much back and forth, he had them strangled. Then he made a will (4th one to be exact) to give the kingdom to his son from his first wife but 5 days before he died he had him executed for plotting against him. Altogether, he changed his will 6 times before he died! By the way, I’m only dealing with the issues with his sons. I don’t have time to go into all the problems with other family members.

In his final years Herod became terribly sick. Some scholars believe that he had syphilis. He had tried to get some relief in some healing baths near Jordan River but it didn’t help. When he realized that he was dying, he gave orders to his sister Salome to gather the prominent Jewish people at the hippodrome near Jericho and kill them when he died so people would actually cry when he was gone. He knew his own family wouldn’t cry for him. Thank goodness that after he died his sister did not follow the orders. I feel sorry for the guy. Don’t you? He was trying to help his family but it never worked out.

Do you know some people like that? They’ve had a bad home life. They’ve been let down in your marriage. They’ve tried to be good to their family but it never worked out. Their kids don’t appreciate them. It’s very sad. But it still won’t get you into heaven.

Matthew 10 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Application: Where does God come in your list of priorities? Do you feel that God will judge you based on what you’ve done for your family? Do you think that your family responsibilities trump the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?

3. CHURCH PROBLEMS

Background: Herod’s family was Idumean, not Jewish. Idumea was the region to the east and the south of the Dead Sea. Although originally they were descendants of Esau (brother of Jacob) but now they were a mixture of Edomites, Jewish people, Arabs, Phoenicians, and Greeks. They had been forcibly converted to Judaism by a Jewish ruler named John Hyrcanus. Herod’s grandfather was one of them. By the way, that never works. You can never force anyone to become a Christian. You can witness to them, pray for them, and invite them to church. In the end, they have to make their own decision.

Herod TempleHerod did not know God but he tried every way to earn his way to God. According to Josephus, Herod’s most important achievement was the building of the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon built the first temple and it was beautiful but it was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 587 BC. It was rebuilt under Zerubbabel the governor of Jerusalem in 515 BC but it was damaged through the years. Herod decided to tear down and rebuilt the temple in 20/19 BC at his own expense. When we see Jewish people praying at the Western Wall (Wailing wall), it is Herod’s construction. It took ten years to build. He doubled the foundation of Solomon’s temple. He literally reshaped the layout of Jerusalem. Josephus tells us that the entire façade of the temple was covered with gold plates. When the son rose, it was blinding to look at it! The upper parts were probably marble. He even took care to have the priests trained as masons and carpenters so there would be no disruption of services. He even made sure that no one family would control the priesthood. I can go on and on. The bottom line – all his religious work did not change one bit of his behavior because his heart was still the same.

Do you know people like that? They are doing things for God and in the name of God but they don’t know God. They are faithful and committed but they missed Jesus.

Application: Have you met Jesus? I’m not asking if you met denominations, churches, and preachers. I’m asking – have you met Jesus?

Matthew 24 1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

With all his religious work, Herod still failed to see Jesus. He could have gone with the magi or sent an escort with them. But he didn’t! But there’s more – after he sent away the magi to look for Jesus in Bethlehem and they did not return back to inform Herod where Jesus was, listen to Matthew 2:13 “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod…”

Sure enough, when Herod found out that the magi had deceived him, he killed all male children two years and younger, in and around Bethlehem. HerodHis heart was hardened.

Do you think God hated Herod? No! He sent Jesus to be born 6 miles from where He lived. He sent magi from 430 miles to tell him about His birth. He even had all the chief and scribes at his disposal to tell him about the location of Jesus’ birth. Ultimately, it was his own wicked heart.

Application: How is your heart this morning? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If you know Him, are you sharing Him with others? Are you willing to step out of your hiding and follow Him boldly?

LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT

LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

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We are in our series on the life of Christ from all 4 gospels and this morning we are in Matthew 2 for our message titled – “LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT.” All of us are comfortable around people who are just like us in background and likes/dislikes but when we get around people who are different, we feel awkward, threatened, and we even try to avoid them. God wants us to step out of our comfort zone and reach people no matter who they are.

Matt. 2 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him….9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Overall Background: In a few weeks Nicole is going to pull out our Christmas decorations. It’s our family tradition to come together and put up Three Wise Men The Nativity Storythe Christmas tree, ornaments, wreaths, candles, and especially, the nativity sets. One goes on the piano and the other on the table behind the couch. Just like the passage we read, both the sets have the three wise men with gifts in their hands, dressed like medieval kings with purple, blue, and green robes and crowns on their heads. In fact, some Christmas songs even refer to them as the three kings. Only problem – it’s not the truth! The actual words are “magi from the east.” The magi were nothing like what we have made them out to be. They were from Persia (modern day Iran). They were star-gazer, astronomers, astrologers, dream interpreters and sorcerers. Our English word “magic” actually comes from the word magi. They did not have the best reputation. Jewish people looked down on them with suspicion and disdain. Even the Romans did not like them and many times they were kicked out of Rome and Italy. In short, the magis were different and, yet, for some reason, they were on God’s guest list for the birth of Jesus. Why did God do that? To remind us that Jesus came not just to save one group of people but all people. His sacrifice on the cross was not just for the insiders but also for the outsiders. We like to reach out just to our own types but the Great Commission is to go to all types of people and make disciples.

Application: Let me ask you a question – How do you respond to people who are different? Do you avoid them? Do you look down on them? Do you ridicule them or try to intimidate them? We are never more like God than when we forgive and when we love people who are different than us.

To understand the magi and who told them about Jesus and why they came, we have to go back about 600 years to the time of Daniel. It is Daniel who holds the key to the mystery of the magis. As we look at the interaction between Daniel and the magis, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to love people who are different.

1. LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN COMPROMISING YOUR CONVICTIONS.

Daniel 1:8   But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Background: You remember Daniel – how Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonians, had taken him along with other young men from Judah into exile. They were gifted and wise and they were placed in a three-year training program for the service of the king. They were to eat from the king’s table and drink his wine but Daniel along with the other men remained firm in their convictions. They had made up their mind that they would not eat the food from the king’s table. Why? Because it had been offered to false gods. They challenged the head of the program to let them eat just vegetables and drink water for 10 days and see if it made any difference. At the end of the 10 days, they actually looked better than the rest.

Three years later, their training was completed. Listen to verse 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Daniel and the other young men stood firm in their convictions and, in the end, they were 10 times better than the other magis.

Sometimes we think that loving other people means we need to compromise our convictions or water down the truth. Daniel and the other young men honored God and God honored them. Our world needs to see people who are firm in biblical convictions. We believe there is only one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe that the Bible is the only Word of God. We believe that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life. We believe that this nation was founded upon biblical values. We still believe that this is a Christian nation. Loving people does not mean we need to compromise.

Application: Are you a person of biblical convictions? Do you stand for the truth? Do you speak up for the truth? 

2.  LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT MEANS LETTING GOD OPEN OPPORTUNITIES TO WITNESS.

Daniel 2:2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams.

Background: King Nebuchadnezzar began to have nightmares. They were so bad that he couldn’t sleep. So he called the Chaldeans and gave a strange command – “tell me my dreams.” Their response – “Tell us your dreams and we’ll give you the interpretations. We can read your palms or watch the pattern of birds flying or look at the position of the stars or examine the liver of a special sheep or chicken.” The King said, “You’re a bunch of liars. You’re trying to buy time.” Listen to verse 10 The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean.” What is the king’s response in verse 12-13 “…the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.

Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar DreamDaniel went to God in prayer and God revealed to him the dream as well as the interpretation. So Daniel went before the king and listen to what he said in verse 30 “But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living…” Meaning: Daniel did not use this as an opportunity to attack the Chaldeans. He could have said – “Kill them. They are a bunch of liars. They are crooks.” Instead, he knows that God has a greater purpose in mind.

Sometimes we have a wrong attitude towards people who are different. We say things that should not be said. We act in ways that we should not act. In the process we lose all opportunity to witness to them.

Daniel explained the dream to the King and as a result verse 48 “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.”

Later Cyrus diverted the water of the Euphrates River that entered and his soldiers literally walked under the walls of the city in ankle-deep water. The Babylonian empire became the Medo-Persian empire overnight.

Next, you know how the new king under Cyrus, King Darius was deceived into throwing Daniel into the Lion’s Den. God shut the mouth of the lions. The king was so moved that he made a decree in Daniel 6:25-26 “ . . . To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end.

God made Daniel so influential that people all over the earth heard the gospel of the living God through him.

The priestly class of the magi now joined in with the Chaldeans.

WOW! Can you imagine how Daniel used this opportunity to tell them about the coming of the Messiah?!! Have you ever read the book of Daniel?!! It is filled with Messianic prophecies. In fact, he prophesied the exact time of the death of the Messiah in Daniel 9.

Daniel 9:24-27 24Seventy weeks (the word for weeks is actually seven. Literally this should read “seventy seven-year periods are determined for your people.” Seventy seven-year periods is 70X7 = 490 years.) are determined For your people and for your holy city (Jerusalem), To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. (when will this prophecy begin) 25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem (this command was given on March 5th of 444 BC by King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah) Until Messiah the Prince, (490 years starting in 444 BC. Keep in mind that they are using a 360 day year calendar along with leap years and it all works out perfectly.) (Prophecies are like riddles. Not all will be accomplished at one time.) There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; (69X7=483 years) The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself (483 years from 444 BC Jesus the Messiah will be go to the cross for our sins. Would you like to guess where that falls? It was March 30, AD 33 when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. And then Jesus died on the cross on April 3, AD 33); (I know it is hard to follow all this – And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, . . .” (This corresponds perfectly with the 7 year period of the Great Tribulation in the end times.)

What does this have to do with the seeing a star in the east? More than likely the magis had converted the information in Daniel 9 to correspond with the movements of the stars. Generation after generation since Daniel they were waiting for the star to appear that would signal the birth of Jesus. At the right time when the star appeared, they left their homes in the east and set out to locate the king of the Jews!

What if Daniel had refused to witness to the magis? What if Daniel had got them killed? We would have never had the three wise men in the nativity.

Don’t be afraid of people who are different. Stand firm in biblical convictions and let God open the opportunities for you to witness to them. 

3. LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT MEANS BEING FAITHFUL IN WITNESSING AND TRUSTING GOD WITH THE RESULTS. 

Daniel 12 8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 9 And he said, “Go your way, NativityDaniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end…12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. 13 “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”

Almost 600 years later the magi came. All in God’s timing!

Matthew 8:11 11And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 13:29-30 29They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”

Are you sharing Jesus with those who are different? Do you know Him as your Savior?

WE STAND BY GOD’S GRACE

WE STAND BY GOD’S GRACE – by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

We Stand By God's GraceLast Friday people all over America celebrated the 4th of July – our Independence Day. Many of us had delicious food with family and friends. Some of you spent time on the Lake or at the Beach. Others went to the parade or went shopping. Then in the evening we enjoyed the fireworks. All that is wonderful and we should continue to do that. At the same time, 4th of July comes each year to remind us that we as a nation stand only by God’s Grace. That’s why our national motto is “In God We Trust.” By the way, that should be our personal motto as well.

1 Chronicles 21:1   1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” 3 And Joab answered, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?” 4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem…7  And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel.

Overall Background: The incident we just read comes from the final years of King David’s life. As you may know, David was the second King of Israel. Compared to King Saul before him and his son Solomon after him, only David served God faithfully. The Bible refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart.” Nonetheless, the Bible never covers the sins of its heroes. As Alan Redpath said – “The Bible never flatters its heroes.” Twice in his life David did something that displeased God. One which most of us are familiar with is when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered and the second is this one. If you go by the consequences, this one was worst. In the incident with Bathsheba 4 of David’s sons died – the baby, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. But in this situation, 70,000 people died! For some reason, this sin was more heinous in the sight of God. It was the sin of pride.

Application: This morning, God is speaking to all of us. First, to our nation – Are we giving God the glory that He deserves or have we become prideful? Second – Are we giving God the glory in our own life or have we become prideful? Let me add something to this – the worst kind of pride is when a person refuses to receive the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross for his/her sins. Do you think you can stand on the Judgment Day without God’s Grace?

3 important lessons from this incident that remind us that we stand only by God’s grace:

I. THE DANGER IN SUCCESS

1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.

What in the world is going on here? This was a glorious period in the life of Israel. We all know how it began when David killed the Philistine giant named Goliath. All he used was a slingshot and a stone. It was clearly a testimony to the grace of God. Now it has been 55 years since that incident – David has been the king of Israel for sometime. He is much older and Israel has won victory over the enemies. Others have killed – not just one but many – giants. David even composes a beautiful psalm in II Samuel 22-232 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; 3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 4 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

On the surface it appeared that all was well. But that was just a façade. They were no longer relying upon the grace of God. They were trusting in their own strength and wisdom and God knew that. In the parallel account in 2 Samuel 24:1 it says, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” God knew that they were giving Him lip service but their hearts were far from Him. Hence, He allowed Satan to take advantage of the situation and tempt David to do what was already in his heart – Number Israel. In His pride – David wanted to see how far he had come.

National census was not wrong – God had laid out some rules for it in Exodus 30. It was done to bring in annual money into the temple. David’s reason for the census was to see how big his army was. Let me also clarify – it wasn’t wrong to measure the strength of the army because in Numbers 1 and 26, they had done that too but David’s motive for the census was ultimately pride. Listen to verse 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” 3 And Joab (not a godly man) answered, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?”

Here’s a statement worth remembering – “We’re most vulnerable when we are on the mountaintop.” Success is not the problem but how we handle success. I’m not telling you to live in panic mode or wait for the other shoe to drop. What I am telling you is to never get so comfortable that you feel you don’t need God.

Application: Saved – When was the last time you sincerely gave God glory for how much He has blessed you? It’s not by my strength, personality, or family tree. It’s only by God’s grace. Lost – Do you think you don’t need the grace of God. You keep rejecting the grace of God. As a nation, we have been blessed and sadly we have forgotten God.

II. THE COST OF PRIDE

For the next 9 months and 20 days, Joab and his captains went the length and breadth of Israel, numbering the men of Israel who were twenty years of age and older – fit for military service. How did God see all this? 1 Chronicles 21:7“And God was displeased with this thing…” How about David? 2 Samuel 24:10  “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. The Hebrew word is nakah = attacked or assaulted.

Application: There are 3 groups of people when it comes to sin: first, those who feel the conviction of sin and return; second, those who feel the conviction of sin and run; and third, those who feel no conviction of sin.

What did David do? 8 So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” What was God’s response? 9Then the LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, 10“Go and tell David, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I offer you three things; Meaning: Not so easily David. This think you have done is wrong and I will deal with it.

Here are some questions: If God is all gracious, why did He have to bring this judgment? Didn’t the man say that he was sorry? God is loving and He is gracious but He’s also holy. This means he takes every sin very seriously. God allowed the judgment to come over David to show us how seriously He takes sin. Just like Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied to the Holy Spirit but people lie to the Holy Spirit today but they don’t die. Why? They died as an example to tell us that God takes sin very seriously. Sin has to be purged. It has to be punished. Either sin will be punished in you or it will be punished in your substitute. If you know Jesus as your Savior, He is your substitute. He has paid the price for all your sins. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you will die in your sins.

What is God’s answer to David’s sin?10“…Thus says the LORD: ‘I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.…12 either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD—the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’

Why so tough on this sin compared to the sin with Bathsheba? Sin of adultery was a sin of the flesh – just a moment of lust. It was wrong. But sin of taking the census was a sin of the spirit – it was full of pride and God hates pride. Pride is the ultimate sin. It brought the downfall of Lucifer. It is the breeding ground of every sin there is.

Listen to David’s response 13 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. The Hebrew word is tsarar = all tied up or cramped. In other words, “I’m all tied up in knots.” “…Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

Application: Saved – Is Pride your sin? Are you willing to fall into His hand this morning and cling to His grace or would you rather justify your sin? Lost – Is Pride keeping you from being saved? Are you willing to fall into the nail pierced hands of Jesus Christ? As a nation are we willing to fall into the hand of God?

III. THE GRACE OF GOD

14 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the LORD looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

Isn’t it amazing that even in God’s Judgment there is mercy?!!

Application: Let’s not forget saved or lost we stand only by the grace of God. Let’s not forget that as a nation we stand only by the grace of God.

16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.

People ask me “Is God through with America?” Not if the people and their leaders are willing to fall on their face before God and repent. There’s still hope for our nation. God is doing a new thing in our nation. He is raising up a new generation that will bypass our generation. Where we failed, they will be successful. Where we lost the fight, they will win the battle.

But something else happens here18 Therefore, the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. If you read it, it will tell you that Ornan tried to give it to David but David wouldn’t take it for free. Listen to what he says in verse 24  “…No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

Why did David insist on paying six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place? This was Mount Moriah – the very spot where Abraham had put his son Isaac on the altar. This was the place of sacrifice. David was going to pay for it because it would become the site for the future temple of Israel where thousands upon thousands of lambs will be sacrificed, all pointing to the Lamb of God who would pay the price for us.

26 And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the LORD; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering. 27 So the LORD commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.

Application: Saved – Is there sin in your life? Today if you repent and obey, God is willing to empower you with His holy fire from heaven. He is not only willing to forgive but also work all things together for your good. Lost – Are you willing to receive Jesus as your Savior? He is willing to forgive all your sins and give you a new beginning. As a nation – God wants to send His holy fire upon us, not to consume but to bless.

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