Discipleship: Implanted by Pastor Abidan Shah

DISCIPLESHIP – IMPLANTED by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Discipleship Implanted

Introduction: Do you know someone with selective memory? Parents, do you have kids with selective memory? They can’t remember where they put their homework but they can remember all the weapon combinations of Fortnite. Ladies, does your man suffer with selective memory? He can’t remember that the kid’s birthday party is this weekend (which you’ve told him 10 times) but he knows exactly when his favorite team is playing and who will be in the starting lineup. Confession time: I’m one of them. We say, “My memory is not what it used to be.” To be honest, our memory is just fine. We remember what we really care to remember. What does this have to do with discipleship? When we get saved, God’s Word is implanted in our hearts. It is the truth of God that comes in where there was only darkness, deceit, and death. This implanted Word now creates a hunger for the external Word, the Bible. In fact, it’s vitality is depended on it. This is where scripture memorization comes in. It feeds the implanted Word. Without the external word coming and dwelling in us, the implanted word can do only so much. Memorizing scripture is a vital part of discipleship. But, when you tell people that, they often claim that their memory is no good. Our memory is just fine. We remember what we really care to remember. In this message titled “Implanted,” we will learn why and how we need to memorize scripture.

James 1    19So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Question: How important is the word of God in your life? How often do you read it? Are you a disciple? Are you saved? Has the Word been implanted in your heart?

Context: In the past few weeks I’ve heard from many of you that you are starting an Inner Circle (D-group) or you are praying about joining one. It’s awesome! Some of you still have some questions as to how it’s all supposed to work. Let me quickly recap:

  • The incentive for this series on discipleship is Matthew 28:19,the Great Commission of Jesus – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. . .”That statement by Jesus is not a suggestion. It is a command that has to be obeyed. In other words, not to go and make disciples is to disobey God.
  • The question that follows is “What is a disciple?” Based on scripture, we came up with the goal of discipleship in the acronym WATER = WITNESSES + ACCOUNTABILITY + TOGETHERNESS + ESTABLISHED IN THE WORD + REPRODUCING DISCIPLES. I’ve preached a message on each of these elements.
  • Next, we looked at the importance of disciplines or habits in discipleship – Evangelism, Confession, Weekly Church Attendance, Daily Bible Intake, and Discipling. Without discipline, there is no discipleship.
  • Next, we looked at the pathways to get to discipleship. We need to follow the model of Jesus in how he moved people from the Crowd to the Congregation to the Community to the Inner Circle. True discipleship happens when the circle is small, 3-5-member gender specific closed group that is by invitation only to believers. It meets weekly for a period of time and then each member replicates, as God leads.
  • What happens when they meet? Study the Bible, Memorize the Bible, Ask questions of Accountability, and Pray.
  • Last week we learned how to study the Bible at the simplest level – Read the Word, Understand the Word, and Apply the Word.

In this message, I want to focus on Memorizing the Word. As I mentioned, when people hear about the importance of memorizing scripture, they dismiss it with “my memory is horrible” “I’m too busy” “I read the Bible and that’s enough” “You don’t have to do that to be a Christian.” Let me first tell you why it is important to Memorize the Word:

  • Scripture Memory was a distinguishing mark of the Old Testament saints: Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
  • Scripture memory was the secret to success in life: Joshua 1:8“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”Clarification:The Bible talks about meditating on the Word rather than memorizing the Word. Meditating is taking a passage and ruminating on it, thinking on it and committing it to memory. When we talk about scripture memorization, we’re not talking about mindlessly memorizing a passage like for an exam. Psalm 1     1“Blessedisthe man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2But his delightisin the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” By the way, this meditation is nothing like the transcendental meditation of eastern mysticism or yoga. They talk about emptying your mind, quieting your soul, and letting peace, happiness, and wisdom come from within. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
  • Scripture memory was a safeguard against the pitfalls of life: Psalm 37   David says, 30“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. 31The law of his Godisin his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”
  • Scripture memory was an internal armor against sin: Psalm 119:11“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
  • Scripture memory was the source of joy to God’s people: Jeremiah 15:16“Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”

Someone might say, “All that is just Old Testament. In the New Testament, it’s all the Spirit.”Actually, the New Testament assumes many of the habits and ways of thinking of the Old Testament. Remember, the first Christians were Jewish believers. They wrote the books of the New Testament through the Holy Spirit but within their Old Testament worldview. Many of the truths in the New Testament assume that you are memorizing Scripture. I don’t have time to give all references but here are just a few:

  • Jesus memorized Scripture. How did he respond when Satan tried to tempt him? He said to him, “It is written” and then quoted scripture. We think it’s because he is God and he already knew it. He was also man who as Luke said in Luke 2:52“increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
  • Jesus expected his disciples to remember his words. John 8:31“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If youabidein Myword, you are My disciples indeed.”That’s referring to both the Implanted Word and the External Word.
  • Paul commanded the believers to remember Scripture. Colossians 3:16“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom . . .”
  • Paul listed the Word as our only weapon in spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:17“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
  • The writer of Hebrews explains the continuous inner working of the Word in us. Hebrews 4:12“For the word of Godisliving and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

There are many other references but listen to what Chuck Swindoll said,“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture…No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”

So, how do you go about memorizing scripture? There are many techniques out there but basically there are 2 mediums: Use the old-fashioned index cards or use an app. At the end of the day, you still have to memorize. Here’s my challenge to you: Every time you want to look at your phone, look at your memory verse first.When you join an Inner Circle, the scriptures are already assigned, which helps a lot, and then the accountability keeps you committed. If you do it alone, it’s very easy to give up.

At Clearview, we expect our kids to memorize scripture in Sunday School, Blaze, and Awana. But, when they grow up, we assume that they don’t have to do that. How tragic!

Personal Testimony:Growing up, we had bible verses everywhere in our home. Those verses have protected and guided me to where I am today. I want the same for my kids. So, I am willing to do it still. We remember so much useless information. Imagine what memorizing Scripture will do for you.

Is the Implanted Word in you? Is the External Word in you?

Discipleship 4: Established in the Word by Pastor Abidan Shah

DISCIPLESHIP – ESTABLISHED IN THE WORD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Discipleship 4

Introduction: Question for all the men – “How many of ya’ll enjoy reading instruction manuals before you put something together?” Ladies – Not sure why but we men like to figure things out. That’s not a big deal if you’re just trying to assemble your little girl’s doll house or some small book shelf. It’s a big deal if you’re trying to put together the ceiling fan or the garbage disposal! So also, in life, we need an instruction manual. The Bible is God’s instruction manual for every situation in life. In fact, to be a disciple of Jesus, we have to follow the Bible, we have to be established in his Word. Failure to follow the instruction manual is disastrous and destroys our witness to Christ.

Matthew 28    18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go 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, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, evento the end of the age.” Amen.

Question: One mark of discipleship is“Teaching them to observe all things.”Are you learning all things that Jesus has commanded us? Are you observing his commandments?Are you established in the Word? Are you a disciple of Jesus? Are you saved?

Context:  As you know, we’ve been in our series on discipleship for the past 5 weeks. We’ve been unpacking theacronym W A T E R, the goal of discipleship, which I’m sure you have memorized by now – WITNESSES + ACCOUNTABILITY + TOGETHERNESS + ESTABLISHED IN THE WORD + REPRODUCING. Today, we are on E.Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, baptizing them, and “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”The question is “what are those things that Jesus commanded his disciples to observe?” If you and I are going to be his disciples, we have to observe all those things as well. 2 major things Jesus taught his disciples:

I. JESUS TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES THE MEANING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. 

Background:Jesus began his ministry by preaching – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) To a Jewish person, the kingdom of God/heaven had 2 meanings:first, God is the sovereign king over the whole world but only indirectly at the present time; and, second, God will be the direct king who will judge the wicked and bring glory, justice, and righteousness for his people Israel but this will be in the future end time. Although, Jesus affirmed both, he added something they didn’t expect – the future kingdom of God had already begun by his coming. This was very unnerving and confusing for the religious leaders because their world was still being run by the Romans and the tax collectors were still collecting taxes and the prostitutes were still prostituting. They believed that the Messiah would usher in the direct future kingdom of God but they were not convinced that this was happening or that Jesus was the one. Jesus told them that the kingdom of God was real and had begun but it was internal and spiritual. He used parables to explain it– “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field…The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal…the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls…” (Matthew 13) In other words, the kingdom of God/heaven is only visible to those who believed.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus laid out the requirements for entering into the kingdom:

  • Reject self-righteousness – Matthew 21:31 “Assuredly, I say to you (chief priests and elders) that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.”
  • Reject sin’s attraction – Mark 9:47“if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”
  • Don’t rely on earthly treasures – Mark 10:25“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • Don’t give lip service – Matthew 7:21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
  • Don’t have second thoughts – Luke 9:62But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
  • Have a childlike faith – Luke 18:17“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
  • Be born again – John 3:3Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Bottom line: When a person rejects self-righteousness and sin’s attraction and receives Jesus as their Savior with a childlike faith, they are born again and they enter the internal and spiritual kingdom of God. Now they become a true disciple of Jesus.

Question:Have you entered the kingdom of God? If you say, “I have to see it to believe it,” you will never see it. Have you received Jesus as your Savior? Have you been born again? Are you willing to have a childlike faith?

II. JESUS TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES THE LIFESTYLE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

Background:  Jesus often said and did things that appeared contrary to the law. Mark 7:15“There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.”This was a clear violation of the dietary laws! Luke 6:1“Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and atethem,rubbingthemin theirhands.” This was a clear violation of the Sabbath laws! What exactly was Jesus doing? Was Jesus just some anti-establishment, non-conformist, agitator bent on tearing down the Old Testament law? Of course not. He was teaching his disciples the difference between the essence of the law and the letter of the law. Matthew 23:23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightiermattersof the law: justice and mercy and faith.” Jesus was not against the law. He was calling his disciples to the heart of the law and to God’s standard of righteousness. Matthew 5  17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Lawor the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” 20For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceedsthe righteousnessof the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount is about this higher standard. Remember the “You’ve heard that it was said, but I say to you” passages, the antitheses –

  • You’ve heard ‘don’t murder,’ but I say ‘don’t even get angry without a cause.’
  • You’ve heard ‘don’t commit adultery,’ but I say ‘don’t even look with lust.’
  • You’ve heard ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,’ but I say ‘turn the other cheek.’
  • You’ve heard ‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say ‘love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’

But there’s more – Jesus was not just calling his disciples to a higher standard of righteousness. He was calling them to understand the impossibility of reaching God’s standard of righteousness. He was teaching them that he was about to do for them what they would never be able to do on their own. Paul explains it best in Romans 8    3“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, Goddidby sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,4that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Question: Are you trying to live by the Old Testament standards? They are too low. Jesus expects higher. You say, “I guess I can’t live up to God’s standards.” That’s exactly what he wants from you. Now you are ready to receive his righteousness by asking him to be your Savior. He will teach you what it means to walk by the Spirit.

Invitation:Are you a disciple of Christ? Have you entered into his kingdom? Are you walking by faith? Are you living by the higher standard of righteousness? Do you realize that without Christ and the Holy Spirit you can’t do it? Are you daily feeding upon his Word? Are you established in his Word? That’s not just the gospels or the New Testament. It is the entire Word of God.

What is the result? Colossians 3   15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

God’s Unfailing Word by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE UNFAILING WORD OF GOD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

God's Unfailing Word

Introduction:  As many of you know, Nicole and I, and the kids were in India for the past two weeks visiting my parents. Some of you may remember that last November I got a call from my sister that my dad had slipped and broken his ankle. It was a very very tough time in my dad and mom’s life. We were hoping to go much earlier to visit them but that would’ve added more burden on them in having to take care of 6 more people in the house. So we IMG_0535went now. It was a wonderful trip especially for the kids since they got to really get to know their grandparents. Several times during our visit my dad said to me “It’s a miracle that I’m still walking today. God has been more than faithful to me. He has more than kept his promises to me.” That really touched me. So, when he asked me to preach last Sunday, the Holy Spirit laid on my heart to preach on “The Unfailing Word of God.” Many of y’all saw that message on Periscope and Facebook. I’m preaching the same message today but with some new additions.

I Peter 1   23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

Question:  What are you basing your life on? Emotions, experience, human wisdom. Or are you basing your life on the word of God which lives and abides forever. Have you found yourself drifting and doubting lately? Have you found yourself floundering and fearful lately? Have you found yourself struggling and staggering lately? Have you taken your eyes away from the truth of God as revealed in the Word of God? Are you saved? Are you saved under the gospel given in the Word of God?

Context: The passage we just read comes from the first letter by Peter, the chief disciple of Jesus, to the various churches of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. The churches there were going through some difficult times. They were being grieved by various trials. They were getting ready to go through some more fiery trial. They were suffering for righteousness’ sake. Peter wrote this letter to encourage them. He wrote to tell them not to get discouraged. He reminded them that this was simply a test of the genuineness of their faith. He told them to rejoice because they were sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He commanded them to cast all their cares upon God because he cared for them.

Application: All of us go through difficult times. All of us are time-to-time grieved by various trials. Maybe you are going through one right now. Maybe you have just come through one. Or, maybe you are getting ready to go through one. God’s Word to you is “Don’t get discouraged. He is still with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will work all things together for good for you.” You may not understand “Why things happen” but you will never have to wonder, “Where God is.” He is with you working all things together for good.

There’s so much Peter has said in this letter about suffering, love, obedience, and prayer, I don’t have time to talk about all those things. I encourage you to read this book at home. It will be a great blessing to you, especially if you are going through a difficult time. I just want to focus on the passage we just read. Listen again to verse 23 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God…” In helping these Christians going through some fiery trials, Peter reminded them of how they came to God. He says, “they were born again through the Word of God.” What does it mean? It means “God’s Word saves us.” This sounds very strange at first. How can the Word of God regenerate us? We think it’s only God who regenerates us. We think it’s only Christ or the Holy Spirit who regenerates us. But here it says that it is the word of God that regenerates us. This may be strange to us but it was not strange to the early church. Listen to James 1:18 “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth…” So also, Paul says in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ will sanctify and cleanse his church “with the washing of water by the word.” Then listen to what Jesus himself said to his disciples in John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Those verses prove to us that what Peter said in his letter was not unusual or strange. It was perfectly in line with the rest of Scripture. The question is – “How does the Word save us?” We can look at creation and know that there is a God. We can look at the vast heavens and the deep seas and know that he is infinitely powerful. We can look at the many different kinds of creatures and know that he is creative. We can look at the human mind and know that he is infinitely wise. We can look at the beautiful sunset and know that he loves beauty. But nothing tells us that God is holy and we are sinful and Jesus is the Savior who came to give his life for us. It’s only in the pages of God’s Word that we find God’s answer to humankind’s deepest needs – Sin, Sorrow, and Death. If you look anywhere else, it will not be the true gospel. If you look anywhere else, you will be deceived.

Application: What does the word of God tell us about getting saved? Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Ephesians 2   8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” I can go on and on. Have you received the gospel as given in the word of God? This is the same gospel across the world.

But there’s something else Peter says at this point. Listen again to verse 23 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” In helping these believers who were facing fiery trials, Peter reminded them that this Word not only saves them but it will never fail them. He says that it “lives and abides forever.” What does it mean? God’s Word never fails. In this life, many things will fail. People will fail. Health will fail. Technology will fail. Automobiles will fail. Government will fail. But one thing we can be sure of – God’s Word will never fail. Peter quoted Isaiah 40 where God comforted his people Israel that he would not abandon them. Listen to what he said in verse 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” I took my kids around my dad’s garden when we came. 2017-11-13 15.28.10They asked me if it still looked the same from when I was little. I told them that it’s still the same place but a lot had changed. I pointed to the various flowerpots and told them that I remembered them but not the plants inside of them. Those plants had all long gone away. In the same way, all of us are like grass. Then there are few among us who rise to the top as the flowers among the grass. One day both us and the flowers among us will be gone. Only thing that will remain will be God’s Word. Does that mean the copy of the Bible? Maybe. I believe it means what God has promised in the Bible will happen without fail. I don’t have the time to mention all the promises of God in the Bible but here are just a few–

  • God has promised in Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” His word will not fail.
  • God has promised in Isaiah 40:31 “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” His word will not fail.
  • God has promised in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” His word will not fail.
  • God has promised in Philippians 4:19 “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” His word will not fail.
  • God has promised in I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Jesus has promised in Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The French Skeptic Voltaire said that within a 100 years Christianity would be a thing of the past and the Bible would be in a museum. More than 100 years have gone by and its Voltaire who has become a thing of the past but the Word of God still abides forever. In fact, for almost 100 years after he died, his home was used to keep bibles and sell bibles.

Personal testimony – In my own life God has been more than faithful. Not a single of his promises have failed. Things haven’t always happened the way I wanted them to or when I wanted them to but better things have happened in God’s timing!

Application: How important is this book to you? Do you daily feed upon God’s Word? There was a Chinese evangelist who would often say – “No Bible, No Breakfast.” Is that true in your life?

Bad Start, Good Finish by Pastor Abidan Shah

BAD START, GOOD FINISH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Bad Start Good Finish

Introduction: Does it matter how you start a race? If you ask Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, he’ll say, “Absolutely, it matters.” Back in 2011, he made a false start at the World Championships in South Korea and was disqualified. At the same time, Bolt confesses that he’s a poor starter. So, once the gun goes off, the first 30m is what he calls his “drive phase” where he puts his head down and drives himself forward. After that he goes into his “tall phase” where he gets as straight as possible. It’s time for top speed. At 50m, he glances left and right to see where he is in the race and at 60m he becomes a beast. He gives his everything. The last 15-20m of the race is his strongest. He checks one more time in the final 10m but at this point no one can catch him now. He knows that he’s won. Here’s the point: Yes, it matters how you start the race but no, the start doesn’t ultimately determine how you finish the race. You can have a good finish even with a bad start if you do certain things right along the way. That’s the title of the final message in our family series on the – “BAD START, GOOD FINISH.” In life and marriage it helps when you have a good start but it’s not everything. You may’ve had a bad start but you can still have a good finish if you do certain things right along the way.

Genesis 50   22 So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees. 24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Question: For the past 9 weeks we’ve been studying the life of Abraham and Sarah from the Book of Genesis. We’ve looked at their good decisions, their bad decisions, and the impact of those decisions on their later generations. In this final message, we’re going to see what things helped this family to finish well. There were so many negatives but what were the positives that gave them a good finish. But before we do that, here are some questions to consider: Do you think that you will finish well? Do you believe that your marriage will finish well? Do you believe that your kids will finish well? Or, do you believe that it’s too late? Do you live in regrets? Have you lost all hope for the future? Are you saved? When you receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into your life and brings hope where there is hopelessness. If no hope, then either no Holy Spirit or he’s being quenched.

Context: The passage we just read is the final words to the Book of Genesis. We see Joseph lying on his deathbed giving his final instructions to his family. By the way, twice (verses 22 and 26) it tells us that Joseph was 110 years of age. Why? Because in the Egyptian culture and society, 110 years was considered to be the ideal age for a person to live. Joseph is the picture of a good finish. This is very important because Joseph’s good finish is symbolic of the good finish of the family of Abraham and Sarah. In this final message we’re going to see what helped them have a good finish:

  1. THEY HAD A CHAIN BREAKER.

If you remember the first message in this series, we looked at Terah, Abraham’s father. Terah was the transitional figure between the first and second age and it was Terah, not Abraham, who left Ur of the Chaldeans. Genesis 11:31 “And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan…” Terah was the first chain breaker. He had to leave behind a comfortable and successful life, abandon his ancestral gods, and step out into the unknown.

For e.g. My father left Islam and became the chain breaker for us.

Application: Who has been the chain breaker in your life? A father, mother, grandparent, schoolteacher, Pastor, Sunday School teacher, friend, etc. Give them thanks if they’re still living. Sometimes, you have to be your own pioneer. There’s no one who has broken the chain in your life. You have to step out of the comfort zone. You have to break the chain. You have to choose to follow God. If you’re willing, God will give you more than enough grace to be the chain breaker and pioneer for your family.

  1. THEY FACED THEIR SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.

In the second message we learnt about an embarrassing secret in the life of Abraham and Sarah. He had made a deal with his wife that everywhere they went she was to say that he was her brother. They did it in Egypt and if that weren’t enough, 25 years later, he did it again in Canaan. Listen to how the King of Gerar spoke to Abraham at 100 years of age. Genesis 20:10 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?” Translation: “What’s wrong with you?” When confronted, he admitted that Sarah was his half-sister. Later, like father, like son, Isaac did the same with his wife Rebekah and claimed that she was his sister, which, by the way, was a lie. There were other incidents that were just as embarrassing like Sarah offering her maidservant Hagar to Abraham, Jacob ending up with two wives, Judah sleeping with his own daughter-in-law by mistake.

Here’s the principle: There are no perfect families. We all have some skeletons in our family closet. We all have some rotten fruits hanging somewhere on our family tree.

Application: What are you doing with your family skeleton? Are you pretending to be perfect? The more you try to hide your secret, the more it controls your life. Or, do you blame your skeleton for all your mistakes? Turn them over to God today.

  1. THEY REFUSED TO BE COATTAIL HANGERS.

In a message titled “Keeping Your Kids Out of Hell,” we met Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He attached himself to Abraham in Haran and followed him everywhere he went. He was the proverbial coattail hanger. When there was a conflict between Abraham’s herdsmen and his, Abraham gave him the option to pick which direction he wanted to go and he picked the plain of Jordan towards Sodom and Gomorrah because it reminded him of Egypt. This was more than the terrain. It was the culture he loved. What was the cost? He not only lost his testimony but also his family, including his wife, when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m sure you also remember the incident of how his daughters had him drunk and slept with him. Even if Abraham and Sarah’s family was not perfect, they were not coattail hangers. They were willing to stay in tents and wait on the city that had foundations. Hebrews 11 9 By faith he (Abraham) dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Application: Are you a coattail hanger? How do you make decisions in your life? Do you go after the exciting and the alluring or after those things that please God?

  1. THEY ACCEPTED THE ROAD OF BROKENNESS.

In a message titled “Facing Old Foes,” we saw how Jacob had to face his brother Esau after 20 years. If you remember, Esau didn’t care for his birthright and had sold it to Jacob who had stolen his rightful blessing from his father Isaac. God never condemned Jacob for that. Later Esau wanted it back but he couldn’t and his last words for Jacob in Genesis 27:41 were “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” On that fateful night before he came face to face with his brother, Jacob prayed and asked God to deliver him. Instead of giving him a good nights rest and strong arms or sending his angels to fight for him, the pre-incarnate Christ came down and wrestled him all night and when he realized that he couldn’t defeat him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and it went out of joint. Now a sleep deprived, physically injured, and emotionally spent Jacob hobbled along towards his brother. Genesis 32:31 “Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.” How did Esau respond? God used Jacob’s brokenness to pour his grace upon him and move Esau’s heart to forgiveness.

Here’s the principle: Those weaknesses that we find to be a hindrance to our growth and prosperity are actually the thorns in the flesh that Paul talks about. They are opportunities for God to pour his grace upon us.

Application: How do you receive the painful events and incidents in your life? Do you realize that those things that you consider to be a hindrance are actually God’s blessings in disguise?

  1. THEY REFUSED TO LOSE HOPE.

So many other things happened in this family: Simeon and Levi killing the men of Shechem and stealing and enslaving the women and the children; Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery; Judah defrauding his own daughter-in-law and then being tricked by her into sleeping with her. But, this family did not lose hope in the promise that God had made to Abraham that in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed, that they are the carriers of the promise of salvation. Listen again to final words to his family – 24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” Joseph’s end is not the end. It is the promise of a new beginning in the near future. They were words of hope. They were words full of the Holy Spirit.

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

Invitation: Do you have this hope for yourself, for your family, for this church, for our community, for our nation, for this world? Do you have the Holy Spirit? Are you saved?

Hoi Polloi Episode 9 – History of Biblical Interpretation 2

In this episode, Pastor Abidan Shah focuses on first century techniques for interpreting Scripture. He addresses the three schools of thought related to biblical interpretation and how these are utilized today.

For more information on Digging Deep, Clearview Church’s summer Bible study, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/ClearviewDiggingDeep. You can also find the notes from each week on Pastor Shah’s blog.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT

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

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUITOnce again, it’s good to be back home. Nicole and I had an amazing time in Israel! We were concerned, as many of you were also, about our safety. After we checked in the hotel in Tel Aviv, we decided to walk down to the ancient site of Joppa on the seashore, which was just 10 minutes from the hotel and it was only 8 o’clock in the evening. Since Joppa was not on our itinerary, we figured if we quickly walk there we could say we’ve been to the place where Jonah boarded the ship to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh and where Peter had the vision of the unclean animals to teach him that the Gentiles were also welcome into the kingdom of God. So we crossed the street and got on the boardwalk that led to the site. It was well lit for couple of hundred yards and there were people there so we felt safe. Five minutes into the walk we realized that the streetlights didn’t go all the way to the site. In fact we had to walk through this dark road for a couple of miles. We said to each other let’s go a little bit further and if it gets worse we will turn right back and there’s the hotel. Just then I heard someone running behind me. I’m thinking all the worst. I turned to look and it was a girl jogging with her dog. Next thing – I see somebody else jogging from the direction we were going and it was a woman. As we kept walking, we saw men and women walking together leisurely and children playing around. It was more than safe. What was amazing was that it was about 10 o’clock when we headed back from Joppa and guess what – more people were just coming to the boardwalk to jog and exercise. We saw women by themselves and families and couples. The next day I asked the guide about it and he said – “The media paints a very negative picture of Israel. What you saw is normal. What you didn’t see was that there were plain-clothes policeman everywhere. Because we have to deal with terrorism so much, the result is that we’re probably the safest country on earth and our people know it.”

We saw a lot of sites and took as many as 5000 pictures and videos and plan on passing it along to you but we also had loads of fun!

This morning we’re back in our series on the Life of Christ and I’m preaching a message from Matthew 4 on the temptation of Jesus titled – HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT. I’m going to read this passage right from the wilderness of Judea where Jesus was tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Judean Wilderness

Judaea Wilderness (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Overall Background: The wilderness of Judea extends from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. It is 35 miles long and 15 miles wide. It is an area of yellow sand and crumbling limestone. Even to this day there’s nothing out there but wild animals. As we drove through it, I tried to imagine what it was like for Jesus to be out there, isolated and hungry, tormented by the devil himself. He didn’t have to go through that but He did. Why? He did it to teach us how to overcome temptation in our own lives.

This morning we will learn 4 things from the life of Jesus on how to deal with temptation or the forbidden fruit:

I. TIMING: USUALLY FOLLOWING THE MOUNTAINTOPS. 

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Background: To understand the seriousness of this passage, you actually have to read it in its context. In the verses directly preceding this passage, we read about John’s baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. By the way, we’re skipping over this message that I preached right by the banks of the Jordan River. You’ll get to watch it in a few Sundays. But this baptism was a very important event in the life of Jesus. As Matthew tells us that when He came up out of the water – 16 “behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Wow! Jesus was fully God but also remember that He was fully man. This was a mountaintop moment in His life. Gone were the days of just being a carpenter’s son in Nazareth; gone were the days of saying “My time has not yet come.” Gone were the days of waiting patiently. Luke tells us in Luke 3:23 that Jesus was thirty years of age at this time. His Heavenly Father had acknowledged him. You would think that the next thing would be for Him to find a pulpit and preach a thundering message or put up a sign up sheet of who wants to be my disciple or march into the temple in Jerusalem and declare that He was the Son of God here to save the world.

Instead, the very next verse says – 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. I actually love Mark’s rendition in Mark 1:12 “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.”

King David's Tomb

King David’s Tomb (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

There’s a powerful principle here that you cannot afford to miss – “Be careful about the mountaintops in the Christian life. It’s right after a great message, a great service, a spiritual victory, and some positive experience in our lives that we face some of the worst and the lowest moments of our lives.” In fact, we are the most vulnerable right after we have seen God’s glory. We had the opportunity to see the tomb of David. I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 23 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Now the very next verse – 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Application: Are you dealing with the wilderness of temptation? Do you feel that the enemy is after you? Are you on the mountaintop?

II. BAIT: NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED 

Background: The tactics of the Enemy haven’t changed much since the Garden of Eden. We’re going to follow the chronology of the temptations as given by Luke in his gospel. Matthew was not concerned about the order, which is fine.

First Bait – Luke 4:3   And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” He appealed to His appetite. Remember – he did the same to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…” People will do almost anything just satisfy their taste buds and belly.

Second Bait – Luke 4:5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” He appealed to His eyes/pleasure. Once again remember he did the same to Eve. Genesis 3:6 “…that it was pleasant to the eyes…” The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Third Bait – Luke 4:9   Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ 11 and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” He appealed to His pride. Once again remember Eve. Genesis 3:6 “…and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

The baits haven’t changed – Appetite, Pleasure, and Pride. Listen to 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Does this mean we cannot enjoy good food, pleasure, and have ambitions? Of course not. The question is – “Is God the center and focus of your life?” 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Application: Are you letting food, pleasure, and pride rule your life? Are you aware of the enemy’s bait in your life?

III. DEFENSE: GOD’S WORD. 

Each times the devil tempted Jesus He replied with Scripture. He used the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)

#1 Food – Luke 4:4 Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” He was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

#2 Pleasure – 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:13.

#3 Pride – 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.

Most people (and I’m not exempting Christians from this category) tend to live by their emotions, intuitions, or experiences. As a pastor I do a lot of marital and premarital counseling. I explain to the couples that your emotions can be very misleading. You hear things like – “I felt I had to do that.” “I just had this feeling.” “You know when you get that feeling.” Men – You’re married but what if you were to come across this woman and immediately you feel a connection with her. It’s amazing! She’s the one! You can feel it deep within! I made a huge mistake and married the wrong person and I need to get with this one. You might wanna try Tums! And the same goes with you ladies.

One of my favorite quotes by J. Sidlow Baxter is “Your emotions are the shallowest part of your nature. God doesn’t do His deepest work in the shallowest part.”

So what is the surest way of handling temptations? It is the truth of the Word of God. Listen to Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” That’s why at Clearview we focus so much on the Bible with adults and youth and children (Awana). By the way, you better know your Bible because sometimes the enemy may even use the Bible against you. Jerome the church father who translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate (we stood in the place where he worked and later his grave was) said, “Therefore if anyone is not feeding on the Word of God, that person is not living.”

Application: What is the place of God’s Word in your life? Are you feeding upon it? Are you reading it? Are you hearing it preached? Are your children coming to Sunday School, youth, Awana, etc?

IV. KEY: JESUS WAS MORE THAN OUR EXAMPLE.

It is very easy to misunderstand this message. “Jesus has given us an example on how to deal with temptation. All you have to do with temptation is know the timing, recognize the baits, and use the Bible.” Not true.

Israel wandering in the Wilderness

Israel wandering in the Wilderness (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Have you noticed that every time Jesus responded to the devil He quoted from Deuteronomy? These words were actually given to the people of Israel when they left Egypt and were headed to the Promised Land. God had told them to trust Him, look to Him, wait upon Him, and they will be all right. As you know, the people blew the test. They didn’t trust God, didn’t look to Him, and didn’t wait upon Him. They griped, complained, worshipped the golden calf, and disobeyed Moses. What was the result? They all had to die in the wilderness.

Jesus in those 40 went through what the people of Israel went through in 40 years and He showed how it is more than possible to walk with God in faith and obedience. But there’s more – He did it to become our provision as we walk through the same trials and temptations. Listen to Hebrews 2:18 “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Meaning: My job and your job in dealing with trials and temptations is to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Sea of Galilee

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

In Matthew 14:22 we read how the disciples were in the middle of the Sea, tossed by the waves. We were on the Sea of Galilee and its quite frightening how it can go from being perfectly calm to a storm. As you know Jesus walked to them and they were afraid thinking it was a ghost. But Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous… Meaning: He took his eyes off Jesus. Immediately he began to sink. They key is to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Invitation: Do you have your eyes on Jesus? Are you saved?

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