THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL DISCIPLINE AND DELIVER

God the Father Disciplines and DeliversPeople, when they are going through a difficult time, will say something like “maybe God is punishing me for all the bad I have done” or “I’m getting what I deserve.” Listen carefully: God never punishes His children. He disciplines them. There is a big difference between punishment and discipline. The end result of punishment is fear, guilt, resentment, and anger. The end result of discipline is love, growth, respect, and security.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….22“Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,
And divided them into districts.
So they took possession of the land of Sihon,
The land of the king of Heshbon,
And the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,
And brought them into the land
Which You had told their fathers
To go in and possess.…26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies.

Background:  For the past 5 Sundays we have been studying the 9th chapter of the Book of Nehemiah, known as the Levites’ Psalm. It tells us of the spontaneous revival that broke out among the Jewish people during the time of Nehemiah. They began by fasting, wearing sackcloth and pouring dust on their heads. Then, they stood and read the Bible for three hours and confessed their sins before God for the next three hours and worshipped Him. These people were truly broken over their sins. It was quite a sight!

It was true revival. We have signs in front of our churches announcing “revival in progress.” They had no sign but this was a real revival in progress. If you ask me as a pastor “what is my heart’s desire for Clearview at this point?”, it is to see revival come to our church. I want to see men and women, boys and girls, married and single, of all backgrounds broken before God and seeking His face.

These Jewish people affirmed 5 truths:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

–       Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

This morning we come to Truth #6 – “There is Only One Who Will Discipline and Deliver.”

Once again 3 Questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? BECAUSE THEY HAD FORGOTTEN THE SOURCE OF THEIR BLESSINGS.

Listen to 22 “Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations,
And divided them into districts.
So they took possession of the land of Sihon,
The land of the king of Heshbon,
And the land of Og king of Bashan. Meaning: When the people of Israel entered the Promised land, they asked Sihon, the king of the Amorites, to allow them to pass through their land. They even promised not to go off the main path into their fields and vineyard. But Sihon refused to let them pass through and, instead, went to battle against them. The people of Israel were not experienced in battle but they fought and won against Sihon and took the territory of the Amorites. Again, the people of Israel tried to pass through the land of Bashan. This time Og, the king of Bashan, went to battle against them. Again, the people of Israel defeated them. Both times they gained control of the territory east of the Jordan River and north of the Arnon River.

Now there are two ways to look at this:

  • One way is to say – “No one can stop us.” “Whatever we set our minds to, we can do it.” “You mess with us and we break you in two.” This is the earthly way. This is the fleshly way. This is how even many Christians look at life. Before the doctor’s visit, please keep me in prayer. After the doctor’s visit, thank goodness it all worked out. Before the crisis, please pray that this problem will go away. After the crisis, that was no big deal. I don’t know why I was so worried.
  • There is a second way. This way says in verse 23 “You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven,
And brought them into the land 
Which You had told their fathers
To go in and possess. 24 So the people went in
And possessed the land;
You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land,
The Canaanites,
And gave them into their hands,
With their kings
And the people of the land,
That they might do with them as they wished.” Meaning: God is the source of all our blessings. He wins our battles. He gives us all good things. This is a life lived on gratitude for what God has done for us.

Application: How do you see the good things in your life? Do you see them as your personal accomplishments or do you see them as God’s blessings? Take our nation for example. Somehow people have to come to think that we have created this nation and we can do whatever we want to with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Listen to verse. 25 And they took strong cities and a rich land,
And possessed houses full of all goods,
Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,
And fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate and were filled and grew fat,
And delighted themselves in Your great goodness. Do we realize the source of our blessings? Have we forgotten what God has done for us?

II. HOW DOES GOD DEAL WITH HIS DISOBEDIENT CHILDREN? HE DISCIPLINES AND THEN DELIVERS

Listen to verse 26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations. What a sad commentary on the people of Israel! They forgot what God had done for them. They disregarded His Laws. They killed His messengers. And, they provoked God with their sins.

So what did God do? 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
Meaning: God gave permission to their enemies to come against His people. This seems harsh but it was not punishment. It was discipline. As our heavenly father, God disciplines us when we stray away from Him. Let me remind you that there is a world of difference between punishment and discipline. He does not punish because He has already punished Jesus Christ who took our sins upon His back. For Him to punish us who are saved would be “Double Jeopardy.”

Here’s how you can know the difference:

PUNISHMENT

DISCIPLINE

 GOAL – INFLICT PENALTY  GOAL – PROMOTE GROWTH
 FOCUS – THE PAST  FOCUS – THE FUTURE
 ATTITUDE – ANGER & BITTERNESS  ATTITUDE – LOVE & FAITH
 ACTION – TORTUROUS & LEAVES PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL SCARS.  ACTION – PAINFUL BUT LEAVES NO SCARS. IT IS GIVEN CALMLY, QUICKLY, CONSISTENTLY AND SPARINGLY.
 RESULT – FEAR, GUILT, RESENTMENT AND MORE ANGER  RESULT – SECURITY, RESPECT OF AND FOR AUTHORITY

Does God leave us in our trouble forever? Of course not! Listen to the second half of verse 27 “And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies. 28 “But after they had rest,
They again did evil before You.
Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies,
So that they had dominion over them;
Yet when they returned and cried out to You,
You heard from heaven;
And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,

Application: Maybe you are going through a situation right now where God is disciplining you. Don’t lose hope. Hang in there. Cry out to Him. He will deliver. He will not forsake you. Let me add something to this – you can only tell if you are going through a time of discipline. You cannot judge if someone else is being disciplined. Leave them in the hand of God.

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? DISCIPLINE IS THE PROOF THAT WE BELONG TO GOD

Listen to Hebrews 12:7-8    7If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  8But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 

Discipline is the proof that you and I belong to God.

Are you a child of God?

Story of Ben Hooper (the former governor of Tennessee) – A little boy was born in the Newport Tennessee, which is set in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He was born out of wedlock and even though his father later adopted him, he struggled as a child due to the stigma attached for being born out of marriage. In those days kids who did not know who their fathers were were ostracized. People would not even let their children play with that child. It was as if they blamed that child for his/her own birth. In school kids wouldn’t play with him so he would stay in his desk and study. At lunch he ate by himself. Then he heard about a new preacher who had come to town and he heard good things about him. So he went to hear him but he got there late, sat in the back, and left early. He didn’t want anyone to know him. But for the first time in that child’s life, he heard the message of hope. He kept going back and after 6th or 7th Sunday, he was so engrossed that he forgot to walk out early. Then the service ended and Ben got up to walk out but he couldn’t leave because of the people in the aisle. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was the preacher. He asked, “Who do you belong to?” It became quiet. Then the preacher said with a smile. I know who you belong to. In fact, the resemblance is quite clear. You are a child of God. That little boy went on to become the governor of Tennessee and wrote his autobiography titled, “The Unwanted Boy.”

Invitation: All of us come into this world as orphans. Through Jesus Christ we are brought into the family of God.

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.”

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE

THERE’S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

THERE'S ONLY ONE WHO WILL FREELY FORGIVEMost of our life oscillates between forgiving others and being forgiven by others. We cannot appreciate being forgiven or granting forgiveness to others unless we have experienced God’s forgiveness in our own lives. The model for forgiveness is God Himself. Even though the people of Israel sinned repeatedly against God, He forgave them—repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

Nehemiah 9:3-8  3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….lets pick it up in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments….17 They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks,
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Overall Background:  Nehemiah 9 describes the Revival Service that took place among the Jewish people in the time of Nehemiah. These people were saved—as we would say today—but under deep conviction they were repenting for all the junk they had wrongly believed about God and done against God. This was a real revival—people confessing their sins, repenting of their sins, acknowledging God once again, and glorifying God.

Application: I was planning on skipping over Nehemiah 9 but the Holy Spirit would not let me. I could not move on to chapter 10. It was as if God was saying – “Clearview needs a revival and Nehemiah 9 is what it will take for this church to be revived. Every confession in Nehemiah 9 affirms a truth about God that we desperately need to affirm in our own generation if we want to see God work:

–       Truth #1 – There is Only One God;

–       Truth #2 – There is Only One Creator who Made Everything;

–       Truth #3 – There is Only One Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ;

–       Truth #4 – There’s Only One Who Hears Our Cry.

This morning we come to Truth #5 – “There is Only One Who Will Freely Forgive.”

Application: Today’s message is vital for us to understand. This is a message of grace. This is a message that goes to the heart of what Christianity is all about. Other religions can counterfeit Christianity in many aspects save one – “Amazing Grace.” It is the grace of God that forgives us through Jesus Christ. It is the grace of God that enables us to forgive others.

3 Questions once again:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION? THEY SAW HIS LAWS IN A NEW LIGHT

Ten CommandmentsListen to their confession in verse 13 “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

Background: Many times in the history of Israel, the people looked to the commandments of God as a burden. “Why do we have to keep all these rules!!?” “Other nations don’t have all these rules.” “Why can’t we be free like them!!?

For e.g. Just like kids – “why do we have to do this and that?” “Other kids don’t have all these rules.” “Their mom and dad don’t make them do all that.”

Repeatedly, the people of Israel/the Jewish people broke the laws of God.

Psalm 78:10 They did not keep the covenant of God;
They refused to walk in His law,

Isaiah 5:24b “they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

II Chronicles 36:16a But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets,

Now that these Jewish people were right with God they were seeing His commandments in a whole different light. God was not the “Big Party Pooper in the Sky.” He was not the “Cosmic Kill Joy who rains on everybody’s parade.” He was not the “Self Appointed Divine Chaperone who cannot stand people having fun.” God had actually done them a favor by giving them His laws. In fact, notice the way they describe the laws – “You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven, Meaning: You didn’t bark orders from heaven. And (You – God) gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments. 14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,
Meaning: All the laws and commandments were for their benefit, especially the Sabbath – a day to rest their bodies, restore their priorities, and refocus their spirit. It was all for their benefit.

Listen to the benefits of obeying His commandments in verse 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,
And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst,
And told them to go in to possess the land
Which You had sworn to give them.

Application: How do you view God and His commandments? Do you look at them as a burden? Do you despise them? In America, some have the attitude that we need to do away with all these Judeo-Christian values. We need to get as far away from the Ten Commandments as possible. Having come from a culture where the Judeo-Christian values (Biblical values) are not the foundation, let me tell you as clearly as possible – “The secret of America’s success are the very values that some are trying to destroy.” People are trying to reinterpret the constitution and revise the values. Values like freedom, democracy, and rights exist because of these commandments of God. Show me a country where you would like to live that doesn’t have the Bible in its past.

What is the consequence of disobeying God’s laws? Listen to verse 17a They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks (like an ox that refuses to go in the intended direction),
And in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
 That’s the word to America and all of us – “Reject God’s Laws and return to bondage.”

II HOW DID GOD RESPOND TO THEIR DISOBEDIENCE? WITH GRACE AND MERCY

But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.

Background: This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The Jewish people acknowledge a God who is unlike any god of this world. They describe Him in 5 ways:

First – God who is not hesitant but “ready to pardon.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not hem and haw but is eager to forgive. For many of us it is very hard to picture such a God. Maybe its because we grew up with a father or a mother who were hesitant in forgiving us or held out forgiveness to us.

For e.g. Please don’t think I am sacrilegious when I share this illustration. Sometime back I was visiting a family where the son was being rebellious. He had promised to straighten up but he would go right back to the same lifestyle. There was the mother who was looking at her boy with suspicion and disappointment. But the family dog just leaped up and wagged his tail and was eager to greet the boy. That is a picture of God. While the world and even the family says, “We’re not quite sure.” God says, “I am waiting to forgive you.

Second – God who does not keep a checklist but “Gracious and merciful.” Meaning: When you come to Him, He does not say, “Now that’s the fifth time this week that you have blown it.” This is very hard for us to understand. We love to say, “This is it.”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,


Prone to leave the God I love;


Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,


Seal it for Thy courts above.

Third – God who does not rush to punish but is “slow to anger.” Meaning: He takes His time to come and deal with us. I think about when Adam and Eve sinned against God. If you remember – God came in the cool of the day and not the very instant the crime was committed.

For e.g. One time I stole some money from my dad’s wallet. He knew it but he did not say anything. All he asked me was “Is everything okay?” He didn’t do it to be sarcastic or to intimidate me. That made more of an impact on my life than anything else. Last time I was talking to my parents, they were complementing me over all the good that the Lord was doing in my life. I told them – “I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. At the time, I did not understand all the rules you had but now looking back and having my own kids I understand. Thank You for not only making the rules but bearing with me when I broke them.

Fourth – God who is not limited in kindness but Abundant in kindness.” When you come to God, He just showers His kindness on us.

For e.g. We were at the Chick-fil-A in town and one of our boys wanted an ice cream cone. I gave him two dollars and he came back with an ice cream cone about this tall (6 inches). How did you get all that? He answered, “The manager said that she just got carried away.

Fifth – God who is not unaware of sin but He still “did not forsake them.” Some people might take all this forgiveness to mean that sin does not bother God. To the contrary, sin is horrible and it deserves God’s punishment. Nonetheless, He does not forsake His own.

Listen to verse 18 “Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,
And said, ‘This is your god
That brought you up out of Egypt,’
And worked great provocations, 19 Yet in Your manifold mercies
You did not forsake them in the wilderness.
The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day,
To lead them on the road;
Nor the pillar of fire by night,
To show them light,
And the way they should go. 20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth,
And gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness;
They lacked nothing;
Their clothes did not wear out
And their feet did not swell.

Application: You might have a God who is Holy and Righteous and Just. You might have met a God who will punish the ungodly and pour His wrath on them. But have you met this God who is Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And who does not forsake His own.”

III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME? FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN

In 1959 a Pennsylvania jurist named Curtis Bok wrote a book on prison reform titled “Star Wormwood.” In this book, he relates the story told to him by Kenyon J. Scudder, first superintendent of Chino penitentiary. Two men were on a train. One was a convict coming home after a five-year prison sentence. Things had not gone well between this young man and his family. So before he left for home he wrote to his family that if they wanted him to come home, they were to place a white ribbon in the big apple tree next to the railroad track, and he would get off the train. If he didn’t see a white ribbon in the designated apple tree, he would stay on the train and seek a new life elsewhere. As the train approached the apple tree, the ex-convict told his traveling companion he couldn’t bear to look. His companion said that he would look and took his place by the window to watch for the apple tree. He saw an apple tree covered with white ribbons!

That is how God forgives us – repeatedly, completely, graciously, and unreservedly.

But somebody had to pay that price – Jesus Christ, who gave His life on Calvary’s tree. When you have His forgiveness, then you can forgive others.

THERE’S ONLY ONE CREATOR

THERE’S ONLY ONE CREATOR by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

There's Only One CreatorNehemiah 9:1-6  1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God…. now verse 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You.

Overall Background:  In Nehemiah 9 the Jewish people were repenting but they were not repenting unto salvation. They were already saved. They were repenting for all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors. God had called the people of Israel to be a light in the dark world – to influence their Gentile neighbors with the truth. Instead, they had allowed their Gentile neighbors to influence them – to influence them in what they believed about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people. Now that they were saved, they were turning away from all their false beliefs and affirming all the true beliefs about God and His Word.

Same thing happens to us today – once we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes us through a process of reprogramming our mind. We are born with a defective chip. He begins by exposing all the wrong beliefs that we have accumulated from the world—wrong beliefs about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people—and then he begins to teach us all the right beliefs. We go through a process of confessing, repenting, and affirming the truth.

Last Sunday morning we looked at the first truth that the Jewish people had to learn. It is found in the first line of verse 6You alone are the Lord.” Meaning: There is Only One God. Now we come to the second truth found in the remaining lines of verse 6 – You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. Meaning: There is Only One Creator.

Application: This morning if you are saved, let the Holy Spirit bring you to this truth; if you are not saved, then you need to be before you can have this change of mind.

There is Only One Creator – 3 questions come to mind:

I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?

Background: This confession was based on the second of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses. Listen to Exodus 20, verses 4 and 5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God….” This commandment strictly forbade any kind of idol worship. God was adamant—do not make any kind of idols to represent Me. Why? I am the Creator and you are the Creation. I created you. You cannot create Me. In fact, in the first chapter of Genesis, God’s name is mentioned 32 times in 31 verses. If you add to this all the personal pronouns, the total becomes 43. Bottom Line: God did not want anyone to violate His copyright on creation.

When the Jewish people started worshipping false gods, they were exposed to all kinds of pagan myths about creation:

Marduk killing Tiamat bas relief–       They probably came across Enuma Elish—a Babylonian myth—that everything began as a watery chaos of salt water and fresh water. The goddess of saltwater was Tiamet and the god of fresh water was Abzu. They gave birth to Ea (earth) and Anu (sky). These two decided to separate their parents and Ea killed the father Abzu and covered his body. Hence the earth covers the fresh water forming an abyss. Tiamet (the mother) met another lover, Kingu, who convinced her to kill the younger gods. They in turn figured out what was happening and they got Marduk, the god of light and storm to kill her. He killed her and used her severed body to make the heavens and the earth. Marduk then went and killed Tiamet’s lover, Kingu, and used his blood to create humankind to do the work for the gods.

–       They also might have heard of the Sumerian myth, Atrahasis, in which human beings were created to help break a strike between the major gods and the minor gods. Since the major gods could not get any food, they created humans.

Khepri–       While in Egypt, they must have come across the Egyptian Myths that the world came out of the lifeless sea called Nu. In some versions, it is Atum who comes out of the waters to create the world; in other version it is a group of eight gods that merged together to create the world; in yet another version, it is Ptah who came up with everything in his mind. Unlike the Genesis account where God said “Let there be and it was,” Atum sneezed and out came Shu; then he vomited and out came Tefnut. They had sexual intercourse to produce the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Some Egyptians believed that the heavens were like a sea in which the sun and the moon were floating. Every morning Ra sailed his boat across and that was the sun.

–       The Egyptians even worshipped Khepri, the scarab beetle, which is a dung beetle. It roles the dung down a hole in the ground and lays its eggs in it. Then the newborns crawl out of the ground. So they worship the scarab beetle as the God of self-creation. Is it any wonder that the 4th plague that God sent against Egypt were swarms of flies!

You get the picture. God made everything by His sovereign will and power but Satan tried everything possible to infringe on God’s copyright through these myths and mythologies. Now the Jewish people were saved, they were coming back to the truth of their Creator God and they were affirming that He alone was the Creator!

Around 6000 yearsIn our own generation there is a creation myth that is stronger than any Babylonian or Sumerian or Egyptian myth – it is the myth of evolution. You canturn the TV on to watch a history program on nature and you will hear of millions of years ago. You can open the children’s textbook from school and read about how humans evolved from ape. You can go to college and hear how science has rescued humanity from the clutches of the Bible.

Application: Let me ask you what do you believe about this creation? Do you believe that this creation is no more than 6000 years old or do you think it evolved over billions of years? Do you believe that God created this world or do you think that it was nothing more than the survival of the fittest and the process of natural selection? Do you believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made or do you think that we are just an accident of fate?

II. WHAT ABOUT SCIENTIFIC AND HISTORICAL FACTS?

Background: When we confess, “God is the Only Creator who created no more than 6000 years ago,” the question is raised, “What about Dinosaur Bones?” “What about the Age of the Rocks?” “What about history and science?” Lets look at them briefly (Keep in mind that I am not trying to show the faults with evolution as much as the reason people are open to evolution):

Dinosaur Skull#1  Carbon Dating – There are several major types of radiometric dating: Radiocarbon dating or carbon dating; Potassium-argon dating; Uranium-leaddating; Uranium-thorium; Rubidium-strontium dating. Keep in mind that Carbon dating deals with things that were alive at one time – plants, animals and human beings (organic). The other datings deal with the age of rocks & non-living things (inorganic). Carbon dating only deals with thousands of years while the other radiometric datings deal with the “millions and billions” of years. With Carbon dating, they claim that they can measure the ratio of Carbon14/Carbon 12 and decide how old it is. I am trying to be very simple. Carbon dating works only if you have a historical record to go with the sample. You have to have some idea as to when the sample lived. For e.g. Kernels of grain in the grave of a king can be carbon dated since we know something about the period in which the king lived. Also, there are many exceptions. They try to use the Carbon 12 reading to answer that. Carbon 14/Carbon 12 level in the atmosphere has been different through the years; not every living thing takes up Carbon 14 at the same level; and then the flood has really messed up the ratio of the C14/C12 in the atmosphere. Bottom Line: It is not a very accurate method to date history.

Chromiteclast

#2  Radiometric Dating – is applied to igneous rocks (formed through lava). It claims to measure the time when it cooled down. This has its problems too.A good example of how inaccurate this type of radiometric dating can be comes from the famous Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980. Scientists knew when that rock solidified because they saw it happen. When they radiometric dated the new rock, the results came back as if the rock was millions of years old even though it was actually less than a year old. So if the dating method does not work when we know how old the rock really is, why do we think it works any better when we don’t know the actual age of the rocks? You often hear about some human remains that are dated to be 2 million years old. What it really means is that they found some bones that happen to be next to some rock that were tested to be that old.

Some people say – Okay we agree Carbon Dating and Radiometric Dating are not worth but definitely ancient chronologies prove that the earth was at least 8,000-10,000 years old.

Stele Naram Sim Louvre#3  Ancient Chronologies – Only problem is that Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Akkadian, Sumerian chronologies come to a standstill around 2400 BC. Infact, before 2000 BC history is very sparse and fragmentary. In a 1992 article in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, famous Egyptologist William A Ward wrote an article on Egyptian chronology. Listen to the summary—The current debate on Egyptian chronology is characterized by divergent opinions on the value of the Manethonian tradition, the lengths of reigns of individual Egyptian kings, the existence of coregencies, and the astronomical evidence. In each of these categories, there is little consensus and a wide range of possible solutions; a precise Egyptian chronology is therefore not possible.”

#4  Someone might say – “what about all the great minds that do not believe in creation?” Some of the greatest minds in the world—Socrates, Galileo, Newton, Einstein—have looked at creation and declared that they believed in God. It takes more faith to believe that this world got here by mere chance than to believe that God made it.

For e.g. One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him. The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.” God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a man making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “OK, great!” But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt. God just looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”

#5  By the way, according to a Gallup poll last year (2012), nearly half of Americans — 46% — believe God created the human race in a single day 10,000 years ago. Furthermore, 78% of Americans today believe God played some role in how people came to exist. People know that there is a design to this Creation.

I don’t have enough time to go over all the details. All I want to do is to plant a seed in your mind or peel a layer of the lies that you have heard about the origin of this world.

III. HOW DOES IT APPLY TO ME?  

Because we believe that “There is Only One Creator and that is God”—

  • Origin of Species titleThere is no place for racism. Did you know the full title of Charles Darwin’s book? The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or ThePreservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. David says in Psalm 139:14—“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
  • There is no place for abortion. Did you know that the theory of evolution was behind eugenics – selective human breeding? At first it began in the 1920s with preventing the poor, unemployed, alcoholics from having children; then in the 1930s sterilization was advocated; then followed birth control. Now it is here in the form of abortion. Recently we have heard of the Philadelphia doctor, Gosnell, who according to the grand jury, “regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”
  • This world is under God’s care. He decides how it will end.
  • Jesus is the Creator and Redeemer. You have to come through Him to be saved and have eternal life.
  • John 1: 10-13 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 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: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

HOW TO DEAL WITH RIDICULE

HOW TO DEAL WITH RIDICULE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Nehemiah 4:1-6  1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” 4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. 6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

Overall Background: The Jewish people in Jerusalem were under great distress and reproach until Nehemiah came and encouraged them to rebuild the wall of the city. Priest and people, young and old, men and women, boys and girls came together to rebuild the wall and to repair the gates of Jerusalem. What an awesome sight that was—people of God working together in unity and vision and faith! Just when it seemed that nothing could go wrong, opposition came in the form of ridicule.

Listen to verse 1 “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,” Literally it means – He was hot and irritated and he began to mock and make fun of the people rebuilding the wall.

Ridicule or mockery is Satan’s choice weapon to discourage and dishearten God’s people. The famous playwright Shakespeare called ridicule “paper bullets of the brain.” Scottish Philosopher Thomas Carlyle said once that “ridicule is the language of the devil.” Bible Commentator Warren Wiersbe said, “Some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.”

Application: I believe there are people here this morning that have abandoned their dreams, God-given goals because someone ridiculed you and made fun of you. Let the Holy Spirit bring healing to your life so you can dust yourself off and get back in the race by the grace of God.

4 things we will see through the example of Nehemiah on how to deal with ridicule.

1. HE REMEMBERED THE RIDICULE

Sanballat fires off 5 rhetorical questions:

2And he (Sanballat) spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, (maybe they brought the Samarian army to intimidate the people working on the walls) and said,

Question #1 “What are these feeble Jews doing?” The word “feeble” is the Hebrew word “melal” which means “frail” or “miserable” or “powerless.” The word “melal” is related to the Hebrew word “mulah” which means “feverish” or “sickly.” This question ridicules our physical features. Sadly, sometimes it starts very early in life. Even when we are kids, we are made fun of and ridiculed.

Question #2Will they fortify themselves? You are not wall builders. Have you seen what a real city wall looks like? You can almost hear the Samaritan army laughing at this point. This question ridicules our capabilities.

Question #3 “Will they offer sacrifices?” Back in those days, before starting a building project – whether it was a wall or a bridge – they would offer a sacrifice (sometimes even an innocent child) to please the gods so that the wall would last and the bridge would stand. “You don’t have enough sacrifices to get this project going. You don’t have a prayer.” This statement was mocking Yahweh God. This question ridicules our faith in God.

Question #4 “Will they complete it in a day?” You are all fired up about building the wall. Wait till tomorrow when you are sore and the money runs out. Do you have enough determination and resources to keep going? This question ridicules our ability to finish a job.

Question #5 “Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” If you remember, the gates had been burned by fire, so some of the stones had been damaged. Being made of limestone, you can just imagine how the stones had cracked and disintegrated. This question ridicules our resources.

As Sanballat is going on and on ridiculing the people, Tobiah joins in. Chuck Swindoll says on this point – “Critics run with critics.” 3Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” Meaning: You don’t need an army to bring down those walls. A little fox can do that. That was not true. Archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon proved that the Nehemiah’s walls were 9 foot thick but mockers use lies to discourage. Nehemiah remembered every one of those statements of ridicule.

For e.g. When we began the process of transition for our church, some people ridiculed us. Who do you think you are? You do not have what it takes. It’s not going to work. Some people questioned if I would stay with it. I remember every one of those questions of ridicule. We’ve all heard the saying – “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” That’s just not true. Words of ridicule can break us. They can demoralize us. They can keep us from doing what God has called us to do. But for the grace of God, we would not have made it.

Application: All of us at some time have faced ridicule—something about our looks, our capabilities, our faith, our persistence, our resources, our goals in life, and even our faults. What has ridicule done to you? What God-given goal in your life has been sabotaged because of ridicule? Let me switch it around: Are you ridiculing someone right now? Are you playing a Sanballat or a Tobiah in someone’s life? It’s time to stop.

1. He Remembered the Ridicule.

II. HE RESPONDED BY PRAYING

4Hear, O our God, for we are despised;

Nehemiah could have responded in several different ways:

–         He could have become angry.

–         He could have argued with Sanballat and Tobiah.

–         He could have tried to buddy up with them.

–         He could have believed them and given up.

Nehemiah PrayingInstead, he turned towards God. Listen to his prayer: 4Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

Nehemiah rushed to the audience chamber of God. He was a man of prayer. He knew that God was aware of what was being said against him. He prayed what is known as an imprecatory prayer, where he prayed for God’s judgment upon the enemy. Now someone will say, “how awful is that prayer compared to Jesus who prayed ‘Father forgive them for they not know what they do.’” Nehemiah was not praying for personal vengeance. He was reminding God that the enemy had dishonored Him. They were provoking Him. So He took his case before God.

What’s the result? 6So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. Prayer worked but did the ridicule stop? No. It became worse. 7Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God,

Application: There is so much power in prayer. The reason Clearview is standing today is because of the Sunday Morning Prayer Zone where men pray during the message, Ladies Prayer Group on Tuesday mornings, and the Wednesday Evening Prayer time. Even in our personal lives, prayer is vital. Have you taken your ridicule to God in prayer? Young people are you facing ridicule, go to God in prayer. “O what peace we often forfeit; O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

1. He Remembered the Ridicule. 2. He Responded in Prayer.

III. HE RESOLVED TO GUARD THE VISION.

10Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.” 11And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” 12So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”

No matter what age you are and what you are attempting to do, someone somewhere will ridicule you. Just expect it. Just get used to it. Pray to the Lord and renew your vision.

Nehemiah guards vision13Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Application: What dream/vision/goal has God given to you that because of some ridicule you gave up? It’s time to renew that vision. Don’t give up your vision. Guard God’s vision for your life, marriage, children, work, and ministry.

1. He Remembered the Ridicule. 2. He Responded in Prayer. 3. He Resolved to Guard the Vision.

IV. HE RESTED IN GOD.

19Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Background: Nehemiah did something very powerful. He rested in God. He let God fight His battles.

Application: The Enemy wants you to think that God has nothing special for your life. He wants you to think that God has withdrawn His vision. You are more important to God than you think. His vision for your life, marriage, children, work, and ministry is still alive. It is time you pick up your pieces and get back in the race.

You say “I can’t fight.” That’s good! Let God do your fighting for you. He wants you to let Him take the lead. It’s His vision anyways. If you’ve never given your life to Christ and received Him as your Savior, then do that now. That’s when it starts.

GOD’S PEOPLE AT WORK

GOD’S PEOPLE AT WORK by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Nehemiah 3:1-5  1Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. 3Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. 4And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs. 5Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.

Overall Background:  By now you should be familiar with the story of Nehemiah. God laid on his heart to leave his high position in Persia and go help the people in Jerusalem. Why? They were under great distress and reproach because the wall was broken down and the gates were burned with fire. So Nehemiah leaves behind his life of luxury and power and prestige and comes to Jerusalem and challenges the people to rebuild the walls. They actually listen to him and begin the work but not everybody is happy. Three men – Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem come against him. They laugh at him; they scorn him; they question his motives; and they even try to threaten him. How discouraging is that! There is a lesson here for all of us—anytime you do anything that is worth doing, there will be opposition. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it!

For e.g.  I was on the campus of Liberty University this weekend, reading an important paper in front of scholars and teachers. I had a little time to look around at the campus. Wow! One man felt that God had called him to do that and he did it with God’s help. Jerry Falwell used to say, “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.” This morning don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from what God has called you to do. Trust Him and look to Him. He is in control of your life.

Nehemiah - Rebuilding WallsSo in spite of the opposition, the people began to work with a new sense of purpose and joy.

Application: It is so awesome when the people of God come alive. It is so amazing to see a church living with a new sense of purpose and joy. It brings glory to God; it brings life to the people; and it gets the attention of the world.

At first glance Nehemiah 3 looks like an old roster—38 individual workers and 42 different groups, with names hard to pronounce. It was very tempting for me to skip over this chapter and go on. But there is a purpose for this list. The Holy Spirit put this list here for a reason. When you look at it carefully it is a wonderful model of how God’s people should work together.

This morning as we look at Nehemiah 3, four words come to mind.

I. PRIORITY

1Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate;

Background: If you noticed, the building does not begin with a groundbreaking ceremony and a picture of Nehemiah with the shovel. Instead, it is Eliashib the high priest who stands up first to lead by example. Meaning: the pastor took the leadership. In our church that goes without saying— we are not a democracy (ruled by the people); we are not an oligarchy (ruled by the deacons); we are not an aristocracy (ruled by one person or family); we are a Christocracy (ruled by Christ, under the leadership of the pastor, with the help of the leaders, deacons, and teachers, and with the followship of the people.)

The church is not Israel but it got its model from the Jewish synagogues that came out of the exile. The reason the church is failing today is because we are trying to organize it like the local government or some civic groups instead of I Peter 5. Listen to what Peter tells the pastors in 1 Peter 5:2-3  2Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

But that’s not the priority that I am talking about. What did Eliashib the high priest stand up to do? To go sit on the high priest’s throne. No. He “rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate;” Why the Sheep Gate? There was the Fish Gate – they could have started there and helped improve the food market of Jerusalem; there was the Valley Gate – they could have started there and helped fortify the defenses of Jerusalem; there was the Water Gate – they could have started there and helped the water supply of the city. Instead, they began with the Sheep Gate. Why? It was in the northeastern corner of the city wall and it got its name from the sheep that were brought through them for the sacrifice at the temple. There were many gates that lead to the temple but it’s the gate that brought in the sacrifice that was the first to be built. Then “they consecrated it and hung its doors.” These priests knew what they were doing. They were doing the first thing first.

People come to church for many reasons—family, friends, tradition. The main reason for the church to exist is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the world. If anything other than the cross gets in the way, the walls of the church will fall.

Our purpose at Clearview is to lead all people into a life-changing, ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Application: Maybe you are here and you are lost. Coming to church will not save you. Giving to the church will not save you. Joining the church will not save you. Receiving His sacrifice on the cross will. You will have to come by the sheep gate.

II. HUMILITY

These people had money. They could have easily hired some local laborers to do the work. They did it themselves.

Nehemiah 3:8 “Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs;

Nehemiah 3:9 “And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs.”

Nehemiah 3:14-15  14Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.  15Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars,”

Meaning: They were not ashamed to do the work. It was not beneath them to roll up their sleeves and go to work next to the brick masons and the laborers.

Application: Now don’t show up tomorrow morning to help with the construction. It doesn’t work like that anymore. The point is, when it comes to the ministries of this church, no job is too low for you. You may not be called to every ministry but please don’t look down at it.

But do you remember reading verse 5 though – “Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.” The nobles were not the rich. They were the high class. The imagery there is agricultural. It is a picture of a “stiff-necked” ox refusing to be yoked. They were too proud to be yoked with other people. They were too proud to bend down and pick up a few bricks. Maybe Nehemiah did not ask their opinion. Maybe Nehemiah did not run everything by them.

There is pride even in the church today.

For e.g. How many people struggle with pride raise your hands? I am preaching to you today. But I am really preaching to all those who did not raise their hands.

Pride is not having good self-worth or taking pride in a job well done or being proud of your children or grandchildren. But pride as mentioned here is the comparing of oneself to others and feeling good about ourselves. It is the source of all conflicts in the church. It is the source of all prayerlessness in the church. It is the reason revival tarries.

2 Chronicles 7:14  14if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Application: Pride is also the source of all marital and family and relational conflicts.

III. CONTINUITY

Many people were helping but not for themselves. They were doing it for others. How do we know that?

Some came from out-of-town to help:

–         Verse 2 Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built.

–         Verse 5 Next to them the Tekoites made repairs;

–         Verse 7 And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired

Fathers worked with their children:

–         Verse 10 Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house.

–         Verse 23 Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house. (Maybe grandfather, father and son)

–         Verse 30 Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling.

Some might say this is so male chauvinistic.

–         Verse 12 Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.

A church that fails to train the young people to take their place has failed the Lord Jesus. Many churches do some of the craziest things to attract young people. Why? Because we failed to win them in.

I believe that Jesus can come any moment. No prophecy has to be fulfilled. What if He doesn’t come for another 100 years? Have we done all we can to pass on our faith to the next generation.

Think about those early Christians from the area around the Middle East. They are looking down from heaven and seeing their children and grandchildren not worshipping the living God.

Application: Are your children and grandchildren on fire for the Lord?

IV. TESTIMONY

This is the best part. There are two names that I want to look at real quick.

–         Verse 4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Who was Meremoth? He had a bad past. His grandfather Hakkoz had been removed from the priesthood because of marriage after false gods. Meremoth could have been bitter, gone astray, and followed in his grandfather’s way but he got right with the Lord and there he is making repairs. What a testimony of the grace of God! Our past does not have to control us.

–         Verse 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens. Who was Malchijah? He too had a bad past but it was not his grandfather. It was him. 13 years earlier, he also had a married after false gods. Under Ezra’s ministry he got right and he is repairing. What a testimony! God works in mysterious ways.

What the world needs to see is your testimony.

It is no secret what God can do. What He’s done for others, he will do for you.

HOLY AUDACITY

HOLY AUDACITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Nehemiah 2:1-8  1And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid, 3and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?” 4Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Overall Background: Nehemiah, as you remember, was not a prophet nor a priest nor a king but an ordinary man who gave up a wonderful career to go and help his people. He asked when it wasn’t his problem; he wept when it wasn’t his suffering; he fasted and prayed when it wasn’t his need. In short, Nehemiah cared when he didn’t have to.

Application: What our world/nation/community needs are more Nehemiahs – men, women, boys, and girls who will ask when they don’t have to, weep when they don’t have to, fast and pray when they don’t have to, and care when they don’t have to. In fact, we are never more like God than when we care about others when we don’t have to. Nehemiah was a type of Jesus Christ. Jesus came when He didn’t have to. He fasted and prayed when He didn’t have to. He wept when He didn’t have to. He gave His life for us when He didn’t have to. We are never more like Christ than when we care about the lost and the hurting.

But Nehemiah did not stop there. Asking, weeping, fasting, and praying are very important but they are not enough. There is also a time for bold action. Nehemiah was not content to sit back and hear about the suffering of the people in Jerusalem. He decided to do something about it. He had what I like to call a HOLY AUDACITY.

Application: This morning, God doesn’t want us to just be asking Christians or weeping Christians or fasting and praying Christians. He wants us to be Christians who have a holy audacity. He wants us to be Christians who are willing to step out of our comfort zones and trust God to do the impossible.

This morning I want us to look at the example of Nehemiah and learn how to have Holy Audacity.

I. IT TAKES TIME.

1And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king.

Background: The month of Nissan is April in the Jewish calendar. If you remember, the story of Nehemiah begins with the month of Chislev, which is December. This means that about 4 months passed between the time when Nehemiah asked about the plight of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and the time he talked to the king. Four months before Nehemiah could muster the courage to do something about his burden for the Jewish people. 4 months before he could take a step of Holy Audacity.

Often I hear messages on how we need to get out of our comfort zones. We need to be careful about that. Sometime it takes time to develop the courage we need to obey God. Remember: It took Moses 40 years to have the courage to go back to Egypt and stand before Pharaoh; it took Hannah year after year waiting until she finally received a child. Jesus was 30 years old before He began His ministry.

Charles Stanley said, “Waiting is one of the more difficult things in the Christian life. However, it is never wasted time. God teaches us His path, changes our circumstances, keeps us in step with Himself, prepares us for His answers, and uses times of waiting to sift our motives and strengthen our faith.”

For e.g. Many years ago when I was wrestling with what God wanted me to do, I actually prayed to God that He would give me the right convictions and the courage to go with them. He did but it did not happen overnight. It took months and years to have the courage to stand up for the truth. God used His Word, people, and circumstances.

Application: This morning, ask God to give you this Holy Audacity. Rest in His perfect timing. He always finishes the work he starts in our life. Sometimes it is not enough to weep and pray. It is also important to wait and pray.

Holy Audacity takes time.

II. IT INVOLVES RISKS.

1And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.

Background: For four months Nehemiah had covered his emotions very well. At first, it was not a big deal but day-by-day it became worse and worse. Finally, there was that day when Nehemiah went before the king and he was no longer his old self.

ProskynesisWhat was the King’s reaction? 2Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.”

Proskynesis (2)Background: Persian kings were very finicky. They were not very tolerant of someone walking in their presence with a sad face. In fact, historians tell us that those who came into the king’s presence had to place their right hand over their mouth so they wouldn’t defile the king with their breath. These Persian kings did not take insults very lightly. Just a side note, crucifixion was not invented by the Romans. Persians came up with that.

What was Nehemiah’s reaction when the king asked him why he was sad? So I became dreadfully afraid,

Background: Literally it means “a terrible fear came over me.” He was gripped with sudden panic. Do you blame him?

Whenever someone steps out in Holy Audacity, there is a risk involved. Sometimes it is our very life, sometimes it is our career, sometimes it is our security.

For e.g. Moses—if you go back to Egypt, they will kill you. Paul—if you go to Jerusalem, they will kill you. Wesley—if you preach outside the parish, you will be ejected from the church. His answer – “The whole world is my parish.”

For e.g. We are building a new building when the economy is down—how can you do that? What if people don’t give? What if it doesn’t work out? I’ve heard it all. Several times in my ministry, I have woken up with a cold sweat.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Application: Do you want to have Holy Audacity? Ask God to help you take some risks.

Holy Audacity takes time; Holy Audacity involves risks.

III. IT REQUIRES FAITH IN GOD.

3and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”

Background: Nehemiah could have lied and said he was sick. He could have cracked a few jokes and amused the king. He could have panicked and ran out and gotten killed. Instead, he tells the truth. Remember, he was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Bill Bright said “The longer I fasted, the more my faith soared and the more I sensed the presence of the Lord.”

Application: Let me ask you again—are you fasting and praying? You say—“I cannot afford to fast and pray.” You cannot afford not to fast and pray.

For e.g. Last week I was talking to someone about the building project that it had been long time coming and they said—“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” So true!

If Holy Audacity was easy, everybody would be doing it.

What is the result? 4Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”

Listen to the next line: So I prayed to the God of heaven.

What do you think Nehemiah prayed at that point? This was not a long drawn out prayer. Some people try to hide behind prayer. He’s already fasted and prayed before God for many days. I can tell you what that prayer was. “Thank You Lord! God—you are indeed alive and well! God—nothing is too difficult for you!” As Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” His faith shot up to the sky!

Listen to Nehemiah’s request:  5And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him) (Meaning: Nehemiah adds that detail to tell us that he was not making up this story. The Queen was there as a witness), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

The point is – Nehemiah’s Holy Audacity did not shock the king. It impressed him and the queen. He granted Nehemiah his request.

Application: What is it in your life that you feel will never happen? Are you willing to trust God with it? Have you fasted and prayed before God? Have you stepped out in Holy Audacity to see what God will do for you? Are you trying to hide behind payer? This is not just about the church building. It is also about your life, career, relationship, future, etc.

Holy Audacity takes time; it involves risks; it requires faith in God.

IV. IT BRINGS GLORY TO GOD.

7Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.”

Background: Nehemiah sees God’s hand upon him. So he asks for more. Letters for safe conduct, timber for the gates, the city walls, and his house. As our faith increases we begin to ask more and more for God’s glory. What Jerry Falwell used to call the BHAG – a “big hairy audacious goal.” He would often ask, “What would you do for God if you were sure you couldn’t fail?”

And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

What tremendous confidence comes when we realize that God’s hand is upon us!

Application: You ask—“what can I do to have this confidence?” Should I take some special classes? Should I do extreme sports? Should I put myself in dangerous situations? All that may help but there is something else you already have that is more than just God’s hand upon you. It is the Spirit of the Lord in you.

When you start walking according the Spirit, you will be like the disciples of the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. It turned a bunch of cowering, fearful disciples into bold and fearless witnesses of the Resurrected Christ. That’s what our church, community, and nation needs—Holy Audacity.

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Praying in the SpiritRomans 8:26-28 26Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Overall Background: The passage we just read takes us further into Romans 8. If you remember last week’s message – Romans 8 is the harbor/port to which the Christian life is headed. Romans 8 is where you and I as believers are to live. What is amazing to me is that as we get to Romans 8, the deeper Christian life—Paul does not deal with bible study (although that is important); he does not deal with worship (although that is important); he does not deal with evangelism (although that is important). What he focuses on is prayer! The thing that changes the most as we grow as Christians is how we pray. In other words, the more you know about Jesus Christ and what He has done for you and who you are in Him, it changes the way you talk to Him.

For e.g. Nicole and I just celebrated our wedding anniversary. Through the 19 years that we have known each other, we have been through trials and difficulties and hardships. We have come to know each other better and deeper through those years. The one thing that has changed the most is how we talk to each other.

In the same way, as we grow in the Christian life, the one thing that changes the most is our prayer life—how we talk with God.

Application: Let me ask you this morning—how is your prayer life? One of the greatest privileges that we can have as Christians is the privilege of prayer. Prayer is a very important part of our lives. You cannot separate your Christian life from your prayer life. For e.g. Have you ever heard – “You are what you eat”? You are what you pray. If your prayer life is weak, your Christian life will be weak. If your prayer life is scattered, your Christian life is scattered. With the same token, if your prayer life is intact, you are intact. If your prayer life is sound, you are sound.

In this passage Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is talking to us about praying in the Spirit.

Let me qualify: This message is not about learning how to pray in the Spirit. This message is about knowing how the Spirit prays for us. In other words, this passage is not about the conditions for praying in the Spirit. It is about the assurance of the Spirit praying in us. As we look at this passage, this will become clear.

Application: Let the Holy Spirit teach you what He is doing for you in prayer. He wants you to understand that you are never alone when you pray. When you kneel by your bedside, He is kneeling with you. When you are in that hospital room, He is sitting by you. When you are in your car, He is sitting next to you. Once you understand that as a Christian you are never alone when you pray, it will change the way you pray.

3 things Paul tells us about praying in the Spirit.

I. THE HOLY SPIRIT KNOWS OUR WEAKNESSES.

26Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.

Background: Let’s focus on the word “weaknesses” first. You and I as Christians have many weaknesses:

  • Physical weaknesses – our blood pressure goes up and our blood pressure drops, our sugar goes up and our sugar drops, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. We become anemic, dehydrate, get sick, and the list goes on. God knows them all.
  • Emotional weaknesses – we get emotionally drained, confused, loose our temper. We feel unloved, feel insecure, feel depressed, and the list goes on. God knows them all.
  • Spiritual weaknesses – we struggle with old habits, indwelling sin, selfish nature. We don’t know how to love others; we don’t know how to let go of the past, we don’t know what the future holds, we don’t know what is the best road to take, we don’t know God’s will for our lives, we don’t have the faith we need to keep going and the list goes on.

The Spirit knows them all but He does not condemn us for our weaknesses. Instead, He comes to help us with them. The word “helps” has the picture of someone helping another to carry a heavy load. Imagine someone trying to drag an enormous log. He can barely move it. Then someone comes and picks up one end and together they carry it.

God does not condemn us in our weaknesses. In fact, He understands.

Hebrews 4:15-16 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses (the same word as in Romans 8:26), but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Application: This morning I don’t know what image you have of the Holy Spirit in your mind. Sometimes they enemy will implant a false/negative image of God, where God is constantly frowning, displeased, disappointed, and unwilling to understand. Then we give someone else that position that only belongs to Him. We think that a friend or spouse or family member will understand our weaknesses. That’s just not true. Only the Holy Spirit understands our deepest weaknesses.

So the first thing about praying in the Spirit is know that

1. The Holy Spirit knows our weaknesses.

II. THE HOLY SPIRIT KNOWS WHAT WE SHOULD PRAY.

26Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought,

Background: One mark of growth in the Christian life is not knowing how to pray.

For e.g. Children always know what to ask for. They ask whatever they want and they expect whatever they ask. “I am hungry. Can I have ice cream?” “I am tired. Do I have to go to school?” “That toy on TV—can I have it?”Grownups know better. We know that we cannot ask just whatever comes to our mind. We know that everything has a price and consequences.

#1  Sometimes we don’t know what’s best for us.

In matters of relationships, careers, and financial decisions, the answers are not that simple. Life is much more complicated. We don’t know what is best for us. We don’t know what to ask for in prayer. Sometimes the more something means to us, the harder it is pray for it.

For e.g. It is so much easier to pray for some missionary down in Africa. How much harder it is to pray for a brother or a sister who is suffering with cancer.

By the way, aren’t you glad that God didn’t answer all of your prayers?! Can you imagine where you would be today if God had answered some of your prayers? “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”- There’s Garth Brooks for you.

#2  Sometimes we don’t realize what is best for others.

What we pray for affects other people. I can say “God stop the rain” but the farmer is saying “Please Lord – send some rain.”

We cannot pray in isolation. Our prayers do intersect and interact. As we grow as a Christian, our prayers do not begin with “my father” but “our father.”

Not only that but we don’t know how to pray for others.

For e.g. Sometimes people will ask me to pray but I don’t know exactly how to pray for that situation. They will ask for prayer in a relationship and I agree but I don’t know how to pray. Is this person ready for a relationship? Is the other person ready for a relationship? Should this person finish school? Should this person get a job? What job? I don’t know how to pray.

That’s why most of this “name it and claim it” stuff is junk. There is no Holy Spirit in it. There is nothing but self in it. We don’t get anything from God. We only get disappointed, turn bitter, and leave a bad testimony.

Warren Wiersbe said, “More people have quit praying because of disappointments in prayer more than anything else.”

That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to pray for us. He knows the mind of God. He knows our past. He can see our future. He knows what is best for us. He knows what will bring the best for everyone involved. He knows what will grow God’s Kingdom.

Application: Let me ask you this morning – Do you know what to pray? Have you come to the point where you have said—“Lord, I don’t even know what to pray.” The sooner you can say that, the better. This is why the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in your heart.

So the first thing about praying in the Spirit is know that

1. The Holy Spirit knows our weaknesses; 2. The Holy Spirit knows what we should pray.

III. THE HOLY SPIRIT INTERCEDES FOR US.

“For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Background: At this point in the passage, people leave the Bible and make their own assumptions. They will say – “Groanings that cannot be uttered” – that is speaking in tongues. Read that again carefully: but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us (Meaning: the one who makes intercession is not you. He is the Holy Spirit) with groanings which cannot be uttered (Literally – wordless groaning).

What are groanings? The Greek word is “stenagmois” means deep sighs. When you and I sigh, we do it out of frustrations, anxiety, and doubts. When the Holy Spirit sighs, it is not out of any kind of anxiety but it is the sigh of a burden. He knows and senses how we are feeling and carries those feelings into the Trinity.

Also, all this is in wordless groaning. Meaning: You and I cannot even hear the sighs or the words. This conversation is taking place in the Trinity. It never even reaches our consciousness. But it reaches the Father. Listen to verse 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Meaning: When we are weak and we don’t know what to pray, the Father looks deeper to hear the prayer of the Spirit. He answers the prayer of the Spirit because the prayer of the Spirit is God’s perfect will for us.

Here’s a question – “Why do we need the Holy Spirit?” If God is going to give us His will anyways, why wait to hear the Holy Spirit pray for us?” The answer to that is in the next verse. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Application: Because of the prayer of the Holy Spirit, we know that “all things work together for good to those who love God,”

You and I cannot have the assurance that God will bring something good out of something bad without the Holy Spirit showing it to you.

For e.g. In the December of 1993, I was at the lowest point in my life. I had lost everything. Christmas time and I had nowhere to go. My brother called me up and said you are coming to Philadelphia. Some friends gave me a ride and dropped me at the appointed exit. Only problem, the South bound exit was at the other part of that town. It was cold. I stood at this gas station by the phone booth. The Sun went down. It became freezing cold. I hadn’t eaten. 8pm became 9 and 10 and 2 in the morning. I knew I couldn’t stay in that phone booth all night. I am walking down this dark, deserted road, past houses – no lights. Not a single car in sight. I thought to myself – this is where I will die. But the Holy Spirit gave me the assurance that all things work together for good. I heard this car coming from behind. It was my brother. God was looking out for me that night. I tried to remember what I prayed that night. I couldn’t because I wasn’t the one praying. The Holy Spirit was groaning with words that could not be uttered.

Invitation: If you don’t know Christ, you do not have the Holy Spirit. But if you do, you are never alone.

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Romans 8:1-5 1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by 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. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Overall Background:  The passage we just read marks the destination of the Christian life. Romans 8 is like the harbor/port to which storm tossed, weary, hungry, thirsty sailors are trying to reach. What a joy it is to finally see the destination!

–         Our Old Nature has been crucified with Christ.

–         We have been buried and resurrected in Him.

–         We are no longer under law but under grace.

–         Sin no longer has any dominion over us.

–         We have been set free through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Claude Vernet-Shipwreck-BrugesHow wonderful is all that! But there is a problem. We need help to make it to the shore without crashing. We need help to understand these truths, apply these truths, and remember these truths. We need help to live the Christian life. We cannot do this on our own. We can know Romans 5, 6, and 7 and still not be able to navigate the Christian life. We need a Master Sailor to give us directions to make it to shore. In fact, we need the Master Sailor to get into the boat with us and navigate us into the port.

I can do only so much to help you walk the Christian life and you can do only so much to help me. What you and I need is someone who understands the waters of life, someone who understands the storms of life, someone who loves us, someone who has helped others before, someone who even has power over the storm to help us make it to port.

God thought of everything. Remember—He never leaves a job half-done. He knows how hard it is for us to live the Christian life. He knows the power of indwelling sin. He not only sent His Son to bring us salvation but He also sent His own Holy Spirit to help us live the Christian life. Romans 8 mentions the Holy Spirit more than any other chapter in the whole Bible. He is referred to 19 times in this chapter. God has sent the Holy Spirit to bring us safely home. If you are truly saved, He is living in you right now and He is doing that as we speak!

Application: Let me ask you this morning – are you tired of trying to live the Christian life on your own? Do you know the truth but you lack the power to live the truth? Are you ready to let someone come along and help you live the Christian life? Then this message is for you.

Christianity is not just God showing you the port. Christianity is God getting in the boat with you and helping you make it to shore. That’s walking according to the Spirit. Isn’t that wonderful!? So how can you and I walk in the Spirit?

There are 3 things that this passage tells us about walking in the Spirit.

I. IT BRINGS ASSURANCE TO THE BELIEVER

1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Background: In Romans 7 we heard the awful dilemma of the Christian. The more he tried to keep the Law, the more he broke the Law. Listen to Romans 7:8“But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.” Instead of more victory and growth and holiness, the law only incited more sin. We begin to deal with issues that we were done with—no more bad temper, lust, lying, fear, etc. To the contrary, they are back and sometimes they are back with a vengeance. Listen to verse 9:“… but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

In utter frustration and desperation, we cry out with this person: 15For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do… 24O wretched man (woman) that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

At this stage, it is very easy to start doubting your salvation. In fact, many denominations are built on the premise that if you sin, you have lost your salvation. You need to get saved all over again. They only seem to make it as far as Romans 7 but they cannot go on to Romans 8.

Application: I am sure that there are people here this morning that are exactly in this predicament. I need to get saved because if I were saved, I would not be doing these things. Now keep in mind—if you never received the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for your sins, then you are lost. You do need to get saved. If you are unsure about your salvation, you better make sure this morning. “Eternity is too long to be wrong.” But if you can point back to a time when you definitely remember praying to receive Jesus as your Savior, then you are saved.

God is allowing you to go through the process of self-revelation to show you how awful indwelling sin is and how much you need His help to live the Christian life. But your salvation is still intact. There is no double jeopardy with God—He will not punish you for the same crime twice.

Listen again to Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” The flesh may tell you that you are condemned but we do not listen to the flesh but to the Spirit. Again in Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”

Application: 2 questions this morning: 1. Are you truly saved? 2. Are you living in condemnation?

Walking in the Spirit—1. It Brings Assurance to the Believer;

II. IT COUNTERACTS SIN AND DEATH

2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Background: This is a powerful statement of the work of the Holy Spirit in every believer’s life. There is the Law of Sin and Death. This is my indwelling sin—old nature, the flesh. All it does is bring death in my life. All it does is to condemn and destroy. All it does is pull me down.

When I am saved, the old nature is crucified but it is not eradicated. God will take care of that in the end. What God has done is that he has applied another law – the Law of the Spirit of life to counteract the Law of Sin and Death.

FTulipsor e.g. George Goodman gives a great illustration in his book “I Live, Yet Not I”—“A father and his little son were walking in the garden in the springtime when the display of early beauty was at its best. ‘What is gravitation, father?’ asked the boy, ‘Gravitation, my son, is a law or principle of nature by which everything is attracted or drawn down to the earth. Thus, if you drop a stone or an apple, the earth draws it down, and so it falls as we say, to the earth.’ ‘Oh, but father,’ objects the child, ‘look at those beautiful tulips. They all go upwards. They are not drawn down.’ ‘True, my boy; but that is because in them there is another law at work. The law of life, which is stronger than the law of gravitation has made them free from it as long as they live. See, if I destroy the life by cutting one off, it falls at once to the ground.’”

Listen again to Verse 2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free (past tense) from the law of sin and death.” Meaning: If I am saved, I don’t have to wait for the Holy Spirit to do this for me. I don’t have to surrender more for the Holy Spirit to do this. I don’t need a special experience from the Holy Spirit for this to happen. I don’t have to speak in tongues for the Holy Spirit to do this for me. It is done! The Holy Spirit has already brought the life of Jesus Christ to us.

Some Christians think that the Holy Spirit is sitting all disappointed, dejected, and waiting for us to turn it all to Him before He can help us. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is working all along to help us. When we disobey, He simply turns from bearing fruit to convicting us and from convicting us to disciplining us.

What else? He not only brought life to us but He also works in us to fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law.

Listen to verse 3-4: 3For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by 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.

Only the Lord Jesus can live His life through us. All we have to do is to reject our own resources and rely upon the Holy Spirit to live through us.

Application: Are you daily trusting in the Holy Spirit? Are you walking according to the flesh or are you walking according to the Spirit?

Walking in the Spirit—1. It Brings Assurance to the Believer; 2. It Counteracts Sin and Death

III. IT BRINGS A CHANGE IN DISPOSITION

5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Background:

 


Romans 8:6
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Application:

FROM DEFEAT TO VICTORY

FROM DEFEAT TO VICTORY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

We’re back to our series on Romans called, “A Life Transformed” and this morning we are in Romans 7 for our message titled, “FROM DEFEAT TO VICTORY.”

Romans 7:15-25 15For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice…24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Overall Background:  The passage we just read comes from one of the most debated chapters in the Bible, Romans chapter 7. When Paul says in verse 15 – “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do,” who is Paul referring to? Is he talking about the unsaved person, lost in sin or is he talking about a saved person, struggling in sin. In other words, is the experience of Romans 7 pre-conversion or post-conversion? After much study I have come to side with the conclusion that Paul is describing the saved person, struggling with sin in his/her life. It is the picture of a believer who is frustrated with his/her Christian life – “Why do I do things that I don’t want to do? and Why do I not do the things that I want to?

Application: This morning – is this your experience? Are you going through the same struggle as Paul? Have you cried out like Paul: “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Are you frustrated with your sin life? Are you tired of living in defeat? Are you desperate for a break through? Then, this is the sermon for you.

What Paul does in this passage is give the same argument in 3 cycles. In each argument he states a fact, proves that fact, and draws a conclusion. But each time he brings us a step closer to the truth. This morning, let the Holy Spirit of God open your eyes so you can see what God is doing in your life. He is taking you through a process of discovery. God does not want you to live in defeat. He wants you to live in victory.

There are 5 stages in this process of discovery from defeat to victory.

DISCOVERY #1 – GOD WANTS US TO BEAR FRUIT

4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

Background: When we first get saved, things are wonderful. We have a new outlook on life. We have a new excitement for life. We begin to learn new things. We can see God working in our lives. We have a new hunger for the Word of God. We cannot seem to get enough of the Word. We want to tell others about our experience. We cannot understand why they cannot see what we can see. This is a wonderful stage!

But God’s purpose is much more than that. What He wants to do is bring us to the last line of verse 4 – that we should bear fruit to God.”

Sometimes it is immediately and sometimes it is overtime that we realize that there is something missing in our lives. Sooner or later we begin to realize that God’s purpose is for us to bear fruit. By the way, that is the sign that you are truly saved – you have a God-given desire to bear fruits unto God. Some people think that the sign that you are truly saved is that you have spiritual fruits. Not true. It is the desire to bear fruit that is the sign of salvation.

Application: Have you had this desire in your hearts? That is the sign of someone who is truly saved.

First Discovery – God wants us to bear fruit.

DISCOVERY #2 – LAW ONLY BRINGS DEATH

8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.

Background: As God begins to lead us down the path of spiritual growth, He wants to clean house. He wants to deal with sin. What most Christians do is they turn to the Law. They make up their minds that they will keep the Law. They promise God that they will do what the Law has commanded. I will not lie. I will not cheat. I will not lust. Young people – I will obey my father and my mother. So on and on.

Instead of keeping the law and the commandments, something completely opposite begins to happen. Listen to Paul once again – 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. Instead of more victory and growth and holiness, the law only incites more sin. We actually begin to deal with issues that we thought we had moved past. In fact, sometimes we begin to deal with issues that we did not know existed. Listen to verse 9:“I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

wet-paintFor e.g. One of the best illustrations I heard growing up was – what do people do when they see a sign “Wet paint.” We touch it! Why? Because someone said don’t do it.

This is a very stressful and frustrating time for the believer. We try to pray more, resolve more, and surrender more. Nothing helps. Sometimes this stage can last for days. Sometimes it can last for months, even years! What is the result? 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.

For e.g. In many homes, children turned to rebellion. Why? Not because they don’t know the rules but because “when the commandment came, sin revived.”

Application: This is a very confusing and frustrating stage for the believers and families.

Is Law then the problem? Of course not! 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. In some homes there are no rules. Why? Because they actually despise the law. Bottom Line: We have a problem but the Law is not our problem.

Let’s review – Discovery #1 – God wants us to bear fruit; Discovery #2 – Law only brings death.

DISCOVERY #3 – SELF REVELATION

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.

Background: This is one of the most stressful and frustrating discovery. We not only see the worst side of ourselves but when we go to straighten it out, we make it worse. I will not get angry from this day on. I will not be critical anymore. I will encourage everyone I meet. I will share the gospel with everyone I know. By the end of the day we say with Paul in verse 15“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

What is going on? God is taking us through the stage of SELF-REVELATION. He is trying to bring us face-to-face with the real us.

Now when God is taking us through this stage of Self-Revelation, people try to get relief in different ways.

  • Some blame others for their problems.
  • Some give up on their Christian lives. Stop going to church, reading their Bibles, etc.
  • Some become Christian agnostics and skeptics. They become the “do the best you can Christians because no one really knows the truth.”
  • Some try to pour themselves in some ministry. They live in constant guilt and condemnation.
  • Some even try to get their mind off their problem by turning to some habit or hobby or lifestyle. Just anything to keep them from focusing on their struggle.

Nothing helps. Nothing will help until we see what God is trying to show us. Things will only get worse, until we can say with Paul in verse 18 – 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; That is what the Holy Spirit has been trying to get you to say. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” The sooner you can see yourself as a “wretch” the better. THE SOURCE IS “ME.”

What else? Listen to the rest of verse 18 – for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

Application: Are you ready to say – “Lord in me (in my flesh) nothing good dwells?” Are you ready to acknowledge defeat? Are you ready to give up? Are you ready to stop fighting?

For e.g. One of the shows that the boys like to watch is about rescuing gators down in Florida. What is interesting is that the rescuers, who are trained professionals, will come across a gator that has come into a residential area. The gator is mad. He knows that something is up. He is ready to take out someone’s hand or foot. He is not ready to be taken in. So they will go round and round the gator, getting him to lunge out and strike. What they are doing is trying to tire him out. They are getting him to use up his energy. They will get him to do the “death roll.” Once he is beat, they will simply climb up on him from the back and tie him down and take it to his natural habitat.

What is the Holy Spirit doing in your life? He is tiring you out. He is getting you to do some “death rolls.” He is bringing you to a point of weakness, defeat, and humility. He is waiting for you to give up and say – “Lord, I can’t do it.” “I can’t live the Christian life.” “I am a wretch.” The sooner, the better.

Let’s review – Discovery #1 – God wants us to bear fruit; Discovery #2 – Law only brings death; Discovery #3 – Self Revelation.

DISCOVERY #4 – INDWELLING SIN

13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful…

Background: Why do we do the things that we don’t want to do? Because God is taking us through a process of showing how awful sin is. Some become Christian rebels. They do things just because someone says don’t do it. “Now anything you say is bad must be good.” They miss the message. Sin is horrible.

Instead, listen to verse 20 on: Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

Background: God is leading us to discover a hateful power in us. That power is sin. In other words, it is the “old man.” Keep in mind that the old man has been crucified with Christ. This does not mean that it is eradicated. It is still there as long as we live in this world. As long as you live in this world, there will be a struggle.

22For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Application: Someone might say – “I guess I am not responsible for the bad I do since it is the sin in me.” Wrong. Before you got saved, you were in bondage to sin. Now you have the law of God in your inward man. You have a choice. Moment you choose to be angry, bitter, lustful – you are responsible.

Let’s review – Discovery #1 – God wants us to bear fruit; Discovery #2 – Law only brings death; Discovery #3 – Self Revelation; Discovery #4 – Indwelling Sin.

DISCOVERY #5 – CHRIST IS THE ANSWER

Rembrandt - Apostle Paul 24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Background: What is needed is to turn to Jesus Christ. What is needed is to acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord. What is needed is to turn to Him in complete and total obedience.

Look to Him for power. Look to Him for deliverance. Look to Him for guidance. Look to Him as the final word.

Application: Is Jesus the Savior of your life? Is Jesus the Lord of your life?

HOW TO BREAK BAD HABITS?

HOW TO BREAK BAD HABITS? by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Many Christians are frustrated with their Christian lives. They want to move forward; they want to do more; but they feel like they are stuck. Why? Some old habit or some old hang-up keeps them from going further. God never leaves a job half done. There is something in the gospel message that has the power to set us free.

Romans 6:14-18 14For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Overall Background:  We just read Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you,” How many of us could honestly say—“Yep. Sin does not have dominion over me”? We want to believe that sin no longer has any control over us. We want to live the life of joy and freedom. But for one sin or habit, we find ourselves chained.

Do you think God makes false promises? Do you think God’s Word has mistakes? Do you think that these promises are only for the elite—the special—Christians? You and I know the answer. God doesn’t make false promises. God’s Word has no mistakes. God’s promises are for all of us.

So why do we struggle with old habits and hang-ups? Paul through the Holy Spirit will answer these questions for us. There are 3 questions that we will need to answer.

I. WHO IS YOUR MASTER?

14For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Background: If you are saved, you are dead to sin. That is very important to understand. Some people think that in order to deal with sin, you have to die to yourself. Let me know if it works. Just to save you time and effort, it doesn’t. If you are saved, Romans 6:6tells us “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” 2000 years ago when Jesus died for us, He not only died as our substitute, but He also died as your Representative. As our substitute, He died for our sins but as our Representative He also died to represent our death in the family of Adam. The only way we could come out of the family of sin—the family of Adam—we had to die. Jesus not only died for my sins but He also died my death for me. So—you are dead to sin.

Now we are no longer slaves of sin. What does that mean? Sin was the Old Master and we were the slave. The Old Master is still alive but we—the slaves—are dead to it.

Listen again – 14For sin shall not have dominion over you,

Application: Most of us try to deal with sin by trying to strengthen the Old Man—suppress it, fight it, deny it, train it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Three steps to not get angry; four steps to give up pornography; five steps to stop drinking; before you know it, you are back in it.

God’s way of helping us with our sin is by delivering us from sin. God’s way is by freeing us slaves from the Master Sin. The Master is still alive but day-by-day as we grow in the Lord we are seeing that we are indeed free not to sin.

Galatians 2:20  20I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,

The Old Man is crucified. That does not mean that the Old Nature is eradicated in you. If you try to find death in you, you will look and look and all you will see is sin. It’s only when you look to Christ, that you will see yourself dead.

Galatians 2:20  20I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Application: Ask the Holy Spirit of God to open the eyes of your heart and see who you are in Christ. You are no longer slaves to sin. You may not feel it; you may not understand it but you have it. Just accept it.

Q1. Who is your Master?

II. WHO ARE YOU YIELDING TO?

15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

Background: Knowing that we are no longer under the dominion of sin and we are no longer under law but under grace, does not mean that we continue to sin and keep our bad habits. To the contrary, we begin to deal with them God’s way. How is that?

Listen to verse 16Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Paul tells us that there are 2 roads for the Christian to take: Road of sin leading to death and road of obedience leading to righteousness.

Now it does not mean that if you disobey, you will die tomorrow. But you are on that road of sin leading to death. All that is determined by who you yield yourself to. Either you yield yourself to God or you yield yourself to the Devil. Either you are obedient to the Lord or you are obedient to the Devil. The sad part is that many people are saved, love the Lord but they are still obedient to the Devil and they are on the road of sin leading to death.

Application: Who are you yielding to this morning? Are you on the road leading to righteousness or are you on the road leading to death? Only you can answer that.

Q1. Who is your Master? Q2. Who are you yielding to?

III. HAVE YOU OBEYED FROM THE HEART?

17But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

Background: What does it mean to obey from the heart that form of doctrine? Imagine there is a person here who is lost—does not know Christ. Somehow the gospel comes to this person—maybe through preaching; maybe through a friend; maybe through a bible study; maybe through singing. This person is convicted that they are lost and Jesus is the Only Hope. Now he/she has a decision to make: What will I do with Jesus? When this person receives Christ as their Saviour, they obey from the heart. This is not half-obedience, partial-obedience. This is full obedience as to who Christ is; why He came; what He did for them.

At the very moment, the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in that person. God makes that person’s spirit a new spirit and that person’s spirit becomes one with God’s spirit. As long as this new believer is obedient to the light that God has given to him/her, the Holy Spirit has access to flow through that life, body, and environment and reproduce the life of Jesus Christ. Why? Because that person obeyed from the heart.

Now this person is going to grow in grace. Now one-by-one the Holy Spirit wants to set this person free. This comes from Manley Beasley.

FIRST HANG-UP – Stealing. One day this new Christian is listening to a message like this one and the Holy Spirit convicts that heart that they should be giving their money to the Lord. Once you are saved, everything is now His. We are His slaves.By the way, it’s not 10%. It’s 100%. 10% is still living by the law. 100% is living by grace. Sadly most people in church this morning are barely tithing. God is gracious and he still uses fragmented light to send us fragmented truth and at least let us be fragmented Christians. Nevertheless, most will never understand beyond the 10% and that’s that. You will hear a message like this where the pastor will say – “If you give your 10% to the Lord, He will turn around and give you back much much more. You can get by further on 90% than on 100%.” That does not make any sense mathematically or logically and the Devil will argue with you but that is the truth.

But, you obey from the heart (just the way you obeyed from the heart that Jesus died for your sins and trusting in Him you can have eternal life) that form of doctrine and you begin to give. Lord – I don’t know how we are going to make it but we are going to give and trust you.” You have freedom over stealing.

Some people are legalistic and they tithe because they have to and there is no joy in giving. It’s all by obligation not obedience. But those who truly believe are set free and they become slaves of righteousness.

Listen to verse 18 – And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Most people’s growth is grace is only so far and no more. Most people obey from the heart only two steps: get saved and stop stealing.

SECOND HANG-UP – Smoking, dipping, and chewing. Now in a service like this the pastor is preaching and he is preaching on smoking or chewing or dipping. Two men get convicted. They are both convicted that they are abusing the temple of the Holy Spirit. Man #1 – He is convicted that he needs to stop. God did not give it to me and I need to try my best and quit it. But I am not going to go forward and put these cigarettes on the altar because if I don’t quit, I will make God look bad. He is really concerned about himself. God is perfectly capable of handling his reputation. We need to worry about ourselves. So he takes them home and puts them away; doesn’t tell anybody and makes a decision to stop smoking. He gets one of those small Gideon Bible and puts it where his pack of cigarettes would go. He gets a patch and gets a pack of gum and a bag of sunflower seeds and he works on them. When he gets around people at work, he wants cigarettes so bad, he cannot stand it. He is miserable. He has real will power. He may even quit but he still wants one. That’s religion but it’s not true Christianity. Man #2 – He is also convicted that he needs to stop. God did not give me this habit and I can’t handle it. I detest myself for using it. He comes to God and says “God unless you help me I can’t do it. Even as I am coming to you, I want one. You are going to have to help me. Sink or swim I am coming to you.” He obeys from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. He comes by the cross and by grace and falls before the Lord. Would you like to know what happens next? He gets around the same people who smoke and he does not even want one. Now Satan tempts him but the temptation is from the outside and not from the inside. No longer is he a slave of sin.

That’s what obedience from the heart does.

Man #1 did not dislike Jesus or reject Jesus but he decided to do it on his own and he shut the door to the Spirit of God and operated by the energy of his flesh.

This man will not grow in grace beyond that. He will grow in knowledge but not in grace. Spiritual knowledge means absolutely nothing. If it has not changed your character then it’s not growth in grace.

Application: The moment you refuse to let Jesus have your problem, that’s the moment you begin to obey the flesh and you start on the road leading to death.

THIRD HANG-UP: Uncontrollable Temper. This is one area where most Christians struggle with. They just cover it up real good. Why? Because they haven’t obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which they were delivered.

For e.g. If I owned 40 acres of land and I decided to sell 39 acres and keep one. You could build a house as big as 39 acres but now I own one and you have to give me right of way to my property. I can come back and make him so miserable, confuse him, ridicule him, and defeat him.

Satan does not care if we have given 39 acres to the Lord as long as he can keep 1 acre. He will let you do religious work (sing, bible study, serve) in church but beyond that you have a horrible temper and you act like the devil. The Devil has control over you. All he has to do is wait until he has you in the right place and then push the right button and you act like the Devil.

For e.g. Again, Manley Beasley tells the story of this lady who was angry with her pastor who had something wrong. Rather than getting right with God, she moved churches and she her husband became prominent people in another church and it looked like everything was just fine. Rick Warren – “If your CHARACTER isn’t growing where you are, it won’t grow elsewhere. Choices not circumstance, determine what you are.”

This pastor at the new church was preaching the gospel and this same woman stood up in church and cursed in front of everyone. She embarrassed herself and everybody else. How did she do that? It started way back here.

As long as we are properly related to Jesus by obedience, sweet water comes. If it is bitter water, somewhere back here we have switched fountains.

Application: The only way to handle it is to go back and get our obedient back on track. Confess your sins and get right with Jesus.

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