The Sin-Forgiver by Pastor Abidan Shah

THE SIN-FORGIVER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

The Sin Forgiver

Introduction: A man and his wife pulled into a gas station back in the days of full service stations. The young attendant got the pump going and then washed the windshield. When he finished, the man leaned out and yelled, “It’s still dirty. Wash it again.” “Yes Sir” said the attendant and washed it a second time, looking closely for any bugs and dirt he might have missed. When he finished, the man leaned out again and yelled loudly, “Don’t you know how to wash a windshield! Do it again!” So he did it again a third time but he couldn’t find anything. Now the man was furious – “I’ve had enough of this. I’m talking to your boss. You’re the lousiest windshield washer I’ve ever seen!” As he was about to get out, his wife reached over, removed his glasses, wiped them down with a tissue, and put them back on his face. Needless to say, the windshield was spotless. Many times people view others through their own dirty glasses. They did that to Jesus but he saw through their sinfulness. After all, he was and is the great SIN-FORGIVER.

Mark 2   1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Question: Can you see God working or are the smudges of your sinful hearts keeping you from seeing Jesus? Are you like the men who were willing to tear down the roof to bring their friend to Jesus or are you like the scribes who could only sit back and cast doubts at Jesus? What do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe that he was and is God who has the power to forgive sins? Are you saved?

Context: Let’s go back to verse 1 “And again He entered Capernaum after some days and it was heard that He was in the house. Nicole and I have been to Capernaum. Let me say a word about the houses back then. The front door would actually lead into a courtyard first, which then led to several rooms around the courtyard. The rooms were single-storey with walls made out of basalt, a black volcanic rock. Verse 2 “Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door.” More than likely Jesus went into one of the larger rooms of the house and it not only filled up that room but also the courtyard and out the door. You could say that it was a full house! Who were these people? Remember, Capernaum was a port town on the Northwest shores of the Sea of Galilee from where boats would go in and out with cargo. It also sat along an important trade route known as the Via Maris (Way of the Sea), which connected Egypt in the South to Syria inthe North and Mesopotamia in the East. People from all over came there – business owners, Roman soldiers,

politicians, religious teachers, tax collectors, and, even prostitutes. Remember, this is where Jesus called Matthew the tax collector and Peter, Andrew, James, and John to leave their fishing business and follow him. Why were these people crowded around Jesus? 2 “…And He preached the word to them. They were hungry for the truth of God. Are you?

3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was…” Apparently, four guys were trying to get their friend, father, or brother to Jesus but couldn’t get through the crowd. So they climbed up the stairway in the courtyard to the rooftop, somehow without dropping that man! 4 “…So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.” The roofs were usually flat and made out of wooden beams and thatched with reeds, sticks, and smaller branches, followed by a matted layer of thorns, and then a layer of a few inches thick of clay. The roof had to be pretty sturdy because it was used for working, drying fruits, and even sleeping during the hot summer nights. When it says that these men “broke through the roof,” it was much more than removing a few sticks and pulling aside a few pieces of hay. They did some damage to this roof! You can see the mud and branches falling through the rafters. I can imagine the people of the house trying to get to these four through the crowd to stop them but these fellows were determined. They probably tore a good bit before anybody could get to them. I can imagine these guys telling the owner – “We promise we’ll fix it.” You can almost see the owner shaking his head, “I made a mistake inviting Jesus to my house.”

Let me say a quick word – “Ministry can be messy. Ministry can be costly.” Some churches get so bent out of shape over the scratches on the door, chair marks on the walls, and stains on the carpet. Get over it. I’ve seen many pristine, neat, clean, and empty churches. This gets worse when it comes to spiritual and emotional scratches, dents, and stains but it’s part of a growing work!

Listen to verse 5 “When Jesus saw their faith…” In other words, Jesus was impressed by the faith of these guys. Jesus was amazed that these men were willing to carry their friend all the way to the rooftop, tear it up, and face the consequences. Why? Because they believed it would be worth it if their friend could just get to Jesus. He could’ve stopped them at any time but what a perfect object lesson to the business owners, soldiers, sailors, tax collectors, and prostitutes – “Are you this desperate to come to me?

Application: How much do you trust Jesus? Would Jesus be impressed by your faith? Let’s go a step further – What would happen if we would be this passionate and full of faith when it came to our friends? One reason we don’t do much when it comes to leading our friends to Christ is because we don’t have the faith that Jesus can change their lives. Faith is essential to bringing people to Christ. Listen to Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

There is something more important here. Verse 5 “…He (Jesus) said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” This is a really odd statement by Jesus. Why did Jesus say that? Was it because this man had been paralyzed because of some sin? Was it because Jesus knew the doubt in the minds and hearts of the scribes? It could be but I think there is a third option. Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven is because he knew that the man needed something more than just physical healing. He needed spiritual healing.

Application: All week long I get calls, texts, and Facebook messages from people, asking me to pray for someone going through some pain, suffering, or need and add them to our prayer list. I do pray for them and we do add them to our prayer list. Having said that, the first thing I pray for is their spiritual need. Does that person know Christ? If they do, then are they walking with Christ? If they don’t know Christ or they do know Christ but are not walking with him, I pray that God will not alleviate their pain, suffering, and need until they are where they need to be with him. C.S. Lewis in his classic book “The Problem of Pain” said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” If you’re going through some suffering right now, ask God what is he trying to say to you. Don’t misunderstand. He is not the author of evil but he will use it to bring about something good.

But there’s a greater issue here. Listen to verse 8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? Jesus did not ask, “Which is easier to do?” but “Which is easier to say?” It is easy to say “Your sins are forgiven” but its hard to say “Arise and walk” because it can be verified. They were reasoning against the “Reason of the Universe,” the One who created all Logic! 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Let me remind you – the greater miracle is not the one that can be proved but the one that cannot be proved. Forgiveness of Sins has to be taken by faith. You have to believe that Jesus is God who has the power to forgive sins.

What do you believe about Jesus? Is he God who has the power to forgive sins?

Which one are you? The four men of faith on the roof or the scribes without faith under the roof.

Just like the man with the smudged glasses, is the sin of disbelief clouding your view of Jesus?

Sin is the paralysis of the soul. Only Jesus can set you free.

Skeletons in the Family Closet by Pastor Abidan Shah

SKELETONS IN THE FAMILY CLOSET by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Skeletons in the Family ClosetIntroduction: Several years ago Nicole was really into doing her family history. She scoured the libraries, checked the Internet, and visited all the graveyards she could. She would stay up late at night, have all her notes scattered over the dining room table, and try to connect the genealogical dots. She made a lot of progress but then she hit a dead-end. It seemed as if after a certain point, some of the people just disappeared into thin air. She took all her notes down to her grandmother in South Georgia at Christmas. She told her about the problem she was running into. Her grandmother, who is still living, said with a smirk, “Have you ever thought that maybe the reason you cannot find them is because they didn’t want to be found!” By the way, her name is Granny Outlaw. I tell people that I have outlaws for in-laws! The point is “Everyone has some Skeletons in their Family Closet.” In this message we will learn how to deal with those embarrassing moments and situations in our family’s past.

Genesis 12   10   Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, “This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”

There are no perfect families. We all have some skeletons in our family closet. To use the metaphor of a family tree, we all have some rotten fruits hanging on our family tree. In this message we will learn how to deal with those skeletons and those rotten fruits.

Question: Do you have some family secrets? How are you handling them? Do you try to embellish them to make yourself look better? Do you blame all your failures on those shameful memories? Do you wear them as a badge of honor? Here’s a deeper question: If you are saved, do you realize that you are part of a whole new family? John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Does your life demonstrate your new family traits? Or are you still living with the old family habits and tendencies? Are you saved?

As you know, we are studying the family of Abraham and Sarah. They had some skeletons in their closet. Let’s start looking at them:

Skeleton #1 – Genesis 12:10-20 (We just read this passage.) There was a famine in the land of Canaan and so Abraham took Sarah his wife and headed down to Egypt. But before he entered Egypt, he had a talk with her. It began with “You are such a pretty woman!” Sound familiar, ladies? Translated: “I need a favor.” Here it comes. Hold on to your hats! “When the Egyptians notice you, they will say: ‘She is his wife.’ They will kill me but spare you. So, please say that you are my sister and it will be okay for me because of you and they won’t kill me.” Really?! Just in case you are wondering – This is the same Abraham who stepped out on faith to follow God to a land that he had never seen. By the way, they’re not some newly married couple. He’s 75 and she’s 65 years old!

Principle: Age does not equal maturity. You’re never too old to do something stupid. If I may add, God is not looking for perfect people, just those willing to be used by him.

Skeleton #2 – Genesis 20 It’s been 25 years since the Egypt incident. Abraham is 100 and Sarah is 90 years old. You’d think that they have matured. 2 Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. God warned Abimelech in a dream that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and he’s a dead man. 10 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What possessed you to do this?” Translated: What’s wrong with you? 11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. 12 But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.” This just gets better and better! 13 “And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your agreement that you should make with me: in every place, wherever we go, say about me, ‘He is my brother.’” So, you decided this 50 years ago and you haven’t revised it?!

Principle: Be careful of agreements that have been made out of fear and selfishness instead of prayer and faith. If I may add, a half-truth is still a full lie in the sight of God.

Skeleton #3 – Genesis 26 This time the spotlight shifts from Abraham to his son Isaac. Listen to verse 7 And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.” Like father, like son! In a moment of fear and weakness, he resorts to his dad’s tactic of claiming that his wife is his sister. One little problem here, while Abraham and Sarah were half-brother and sister, Isaac and Rebecca were not. Isaac told an out and out lie.

Principle: Whatever you do in moderation, your children will do in excess.

Application: Do you have such an unflattering past in your family history? Are there some scandalous moments in your parents and grandparents life? Take hope. Even those as prominent as Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebekah messed up. If God can use them, he can use you too.

Now let’s go a little deeper. Why did Abraham and later Isaac really do what they did? We’ll have to play the detective here and look for the real motive behind the crime. I have a possible theory – Abraham did not lie just to save his skin. I believe that he misunderstood what God had told him in Genesis 12   1 “…Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” I wonder if Abraham mistakenly thought that God intended to bring his blessing into the world only through him. I wonder if he mistakenly thought that God’s plan only involved him and not Sarah. Hence, his plan was to protect himself, not because he was a coward but because he thought that he alone was crucial in God’s plan of redemption. He was trying to stay alive so that God’s plan would not fail.

Some of ya’ll are thinking that is too much. Have you read these 3 incidents carefully? God never condemned Abraham or Isaac for their actions. For e.g. When Cain killed his brother, God cursed him from the earth. (Genesis 4:10-11) When David committed adultery and had Bathsheba’s husband murdered, it says, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (II Samuel 11:27) I can give many more examples. The point is that in each of these incidents, God actually cursed and even punished the Egyptians and the Canaanites! In the first incident, Genesis 12:17 “the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” In the second incident, Genesis 20:18 “…the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.” In the third incident, listen to Abimelech’s reaction in Genesis 26   10 “…What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” 11 So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” What’s more is that after each of these incidents, God blessed Abraham and Sarah and then Isaac and Rebecca with more than they had before they made their poor choices!

Principle: God sees the heart and he is far more gracious than we are. So should we.

Let me add: What neither Abraham nor Isaac realized until later is that in God’s sovereign plan, Sarah was just as crucial as him. This is why he kept rescuing her. By the way, Sarah misunderstood this as well. What did she do when she couldn’t provide a child for Abraham? She offered her own maidservant Hagar to her husband. We often look down on Sarah when in reality it was a tremendous sacrifice on her part. How many women would be willing to make that sacrifice for God’s plan of redemption?

Principle: In God’s plan none of us are expendable. We all have a part to play. Husbands – don’t underestimate what God has for your wife. Wives – Don’t underestimate what God can do through your husband. Parents – Your kids are not beyond hope. Kids – God is not through with your parents.

One more thing: Don’t use this as a justification for making more bad decisions. Think about the Egyptians and the Canaanites. God had called Abraham to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Because of what they did, they became a curse instead.

Principle: The ends don’t justify the means. Obedience is the only way to life.

Let me close by giving you the following suggestions in how to deal with the skeletons in your family closet:

  • Be honest. Be humble. Don’t forget where you came from. Stop bragging.
  • Don’t copy the wrong actions but accept the humanity of your parents and grandparents.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge. Only God sees the heart. Offer grace. Give them a break. You never know what they had to endure.
  • When you follow God, know that he will always work all things together for good.

I think about the genealogy of Christ in Matthew. 4 women are mentioned by name: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. The first one deceived her father-in-law into sleeping with her, the second was a Canaanite prostitute, the third was a Moabite (descendant of the incestual relationship between Lot and his daughter), and Bathsheba, married to a Hittite and then committed adultery with King David. If God can use that to bring his Son into this world, he can bring something good through any of our family.

Are you saved? Have you received God’s grace into your life?

ENCOUNTERS 4 (CLEARVIEW FOLLOWUP)

ENCOUNTERS 4 (Clearview Followup) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Here are some key points to remember from the message:

  1. A Historical Fact to Learn: For years archaeologists struggled with finding the location of a pool named Bethesda in Jerusalem. But recently a pool to the north of the Temple Mount was identified as this pool. It is near the Sheep Gate from which the sheep were brought in for the temple sacrifice. Maybe the pool was there for ritual cleansing for the people before they entered the temple. Some have even suggested that the pool was used to wash the sheep before they were taken into the temple.
  2. A Theological Truth to Believe: Many different views have been advanced for Jesus’s final words to the crippled man – John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’” I don’t think that Jesus was bringing up original sin or some generational sin. Instead, He was simply demonstrated that He knew the man’s past. Apparently, the crippled man had done something bad that caused his paralysis. Maybe he was doing something wrong and it hurt him. Maybe the authorities or the mob beat him up for his crime. Jesus was warning him not to return to his old lifestyle.
  3. A Biblical Principle to Apply: “…And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” Instead of rejoicing with this man over his healing, the religious leaders had a problem with the calendar! May it never be that at Clearview that we would lose sight of what God is doing because of something trivial – some tradition or opinion.

Pure Motives, Clear Life

PURE MOTIVES, CLEAR LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

CLEAR MOTIVES PURE LIFE (1)Introduction: Today we are in part 3 of our series on worry and anxiety from the Sermon on the Mount called “PUTTING ANXIETY TO WORK” and today’s message is titled – “PURE MOTIVES, CLEAR LIFE.”

Matthew 6   22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Overall Background: On first reading, the passage we just read seems to be out of context. It’s as if Jesus lost his train of thought and instead of talking about worry and anxiety, He got distracted and went off on some tangent about the lamp and the eye. But, when we study this passage carefully, we realize that Jesus did not lose His train of thought. He did not go off on some rabbit chase. In fact, He was very much on the subject of worry and anxiety. Here’s what Jesus was saying: Daily we are bombarded with messages and stimulus. If our eye is good, which means our focus is on God and on the right priorities and our motives are pure, then we will let only light go inside of us. If our eye is evil, which means our focus is on the things of this world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, then we will allow darkness to enter in. What does this have to do with worry and anxiety? Worry and anxiety are simply symptoms of the darkness down below. (Keep in mind – I’m not referring to anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Go back and listen to the first sermon.) But common worry and anxiety are a manifestation of what’s happening deep below. To cure what is in here, you have to purify your eyes, your focus, and your motives. To do that you need the Holy Spirit of God to apply the Word of God and give you the same focus and the same motives as the Son of God, who was always full of light. He was never worried and never anxious at any point in His life on earth.

Question: Do you struggle with worry and anxiety? How is your eye, your focus? How are your motives? How do you handle the stimulus that comes your way each moment? Are you saved? Do you know Christ as your Savior? Without the Holy Spirit in your life, your motives will remain questionable. There can be no divine light in your life. By the way, even Christians, unless you are submitting daily to the Word of God and the Spirit of God, you will also be full of darkness.

There are 3 questions that we will answer in order to understand this passage:

I. WHAT IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY?

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye…”

Background: “The lamp of the body” is a very strange statement. The only way we can make any sense of it is by looking for other places where Jesus talked about the lamp. We don’t have to go very far because he talks about it in this very Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5   14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Also, the parallel passage in Luke 11 clarifies it some more – 33 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of the body is the eye.

The light that is in us is the presence of God. It is the holiness of God. It is the nature of God. It is the only good that is there in this dark sinful world. When our lights are bright, they radiate out and impact those around us. Jesus tells us not to hide this light. It results in good works. It leads lost people to glorify the Father in heaven. It is not hidden by circumstances.

Illustration: On a mission trip to the Yucatan Jungle in Mexico we were invited to go by the home of an elderly couple by their son. The man was one time pastor of a church in the village but too sick and aged to do much now. We walked in and saw this couple lying in their bed. The son asked if we would sing and so we sang in English and our local partners sang in Spanish. Before the chorus was finished, they were sitting up in their bed and singing with us. The glow had returned!

Question: How is your glow this morning? Is it shining brightly? Is it shining dimly? Or is it out? Has the light ever been lit in your life? John talks about how to have this light all throughout his gospel:

John 1   4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

John 8:12   Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 12:46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

Have you ever received Jesus, the light of the world, in your life?

II. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EYE?

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye…”

Background: This is one of the hardest verses in the Bible. Scholars have debated back and forth over the significance of the eye in this passage. We all know that the eye is more than the organ that enables us to see what is around us. Ever since ancient times it was believed that our eyes also reflect what is inside of us. As someone said, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” Cicero (Roman philosopher and orator who lived 50 years before Christ) said, “The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter.” You can fake a smile and pretend all is well but your eyes will betray what’s really going on inside. Sometimes you can even tell if a person is friendly or mean, generous or greedy just by looking into their eyes. If you face a scary situation or an exciting situation, your pupils will begin to dilate involuntarily. Scientists have even discovered that the eyes can “reveal the presence of broader disorders like heart disease, stroke threats, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.” (The Economist, July 2015)

All that is true but that’s not what Jesus is saying here. Listen again to verse 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye…” It’s not “the eye is the mirror of the soul.” The direction of light flow is outside in and not inside out. The eye sheds light inward and directs the decisions we make with our bodies. We may have trouble understanding this but Jewish people in the time of Jesus did not, especially when He said in verse 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Let me give you a couple of examples. In Deuteronomy 15 God had given explicit commands to His people to release their indebted brother in the seventh year, the Year of Release. God knew the human nature and so listen to verse 9 Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you.” Here the person sees his poor brother in bondage and instead of rejoicing that his year of release has come, he has a cruel and wicked thought in his heart. If I let him go, I’ll have to be out there sweating in the heat. I can’t do that. Now his eye has become evil, his motives are no longer pure and sin has entered in. Another example from Proverbs 28:22 “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him.”

Parable of the laborers in the Vineyard - Bernhard Keil

Parable of the laborers in the Vineyard by Bernhard Keil

Here a person sees riches and instead of praying, “God, what is your purpose? Guide me. Help me to keep you first,” he just chases after money. Now his eye has become evil, his motives are no longer pure and greed has set in. In Matthew 20 Jesus Himself uses the phrase “evil eye” in his parable of the landowner who hired laborers at different hours of the day and when time came to pay them, he paid 1 denarius to all of them. The ones who came early complained about not getting more than the ones who came at the eleventh hour. Listen to what the landowner said to them, 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ Here the early workers seeing that they didn’t get any more, instead of rejoicing over getting their due wage, they complained about those who came at the eleventh hour and call the landowner unfair. Now their eyes have become evil and the sin of ingratitude has set in.

Illustration: Many years ago Nicole and I went to the SBC annual meeting. We were having a wonderful time. Different people came to the stage and preached and gave reports. Then, this one man came to the stage. He wasn’t much older than me. He spoke and people clapped. Just then a small thought went through my mind – “Why him and not me?” The convention was over and we toured the state. As we were headed home, Nicole asked me – “Is something wrong?” I answered – “No” but I knew that wasn’t true. It took several days for me to finally listen to the Holy Spirit. I had allowed the sin of envy to enter in me and bring darkness. I had to repent and the light returned.

“Your focus and your motives direct what enters in you. If they are pure and sincere and set upon the things of God, you will allow God’s light to flow through you but if they are evil and wicked, you will be full of darkness and sin and despair.”

Question: What is your first response to the good and the evil around you? What have you allowed inside that has brought darkness in your life? What is blocking God’s light in your life? Have you ever asked God to purify your motives?

III. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH WORRY AND ANXIETY?

22 “…If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

Background: Greek word that Jesus used for “good.” It’s actually the word a`plouj, which translates “single.” It has the idea of purity and sincerity. James uses it in its adverbial form in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all sincerely and without reproach…” Meaning: When God gives you wisdom, He doesn’t have any ulterior motives. Paul uses it in its noun form in Romans 12:8 where he tells the Christians in Rome to give but give with sincerity…” Meaning: Don’t have ulterior motives in your giving. So when Jesus says in verse 22 “…If therefore your eye is single,” what He’s really saying is “If your eye is pure or sincere, then your whole body will be full of light…” In other words, if your motives are pure, it will only bring light inside.

Illustration: It attacks the best of us. Billy Graham in his book on the Beatitudes talks about in his early days he would see two people having a great time or laughing and he would feel that it had to do with him or “why wasn’t he included?” He repented of that.

Here’s the point: Worry and Anxiety are a by-product of darkness. The only way to counteract is when the stimulus comes, let the Holy Spirit guide your response. He will make your motives pure and sincere. In turn, what goes in will be light and not darkness. Then what come out will be joy and gratitude not worry and anxiety.

23 “…If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” This can be taken in 2 different ways – Either, if being saved, you’ve allowed darkness to come in, how awful is that darkness inside of you? Or, if being saved, you’ve allowed darkness to come in, how awful must the darkness be in the lost world. Either way, turn on the light!

Are you struggling with worry and anxiety? Ask the Holy Spirit to purify your motives and let the light of Christ flow through you. Are you saved? Invite Christ to be your light today.

Anger Management Part Four

ANGER MANAGEMENT – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

anger4Introduction: Final message in our miniseries called “Anger Management” from the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve never heard so many positive and funny comments about any series than this one! Once again, this is not for any of us here but for a friend who has anger issues! Were listening for them, correct?!!

Matthew 5 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Overall Background: 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause…” Last weekend we learned how many times our anger is without a cause. We get angry when we get rejected, when we are stressed, and when we are exposed to the truth about our selves.

Illustration: Like the man who burst into the doctor’s office, angry as anything. The receptionist tried to calm him down. Somebody stole my wig during the surgery and left this disgusting thing instead. The doctor comes out and calmly holds up two fingers on one side and asks, ‘How many fingers am I holding up?’ Then he holds them up on the other side and asks the same. The man gives the right answer. Doctor replies: “That means your cataract surgery was successful.”

Anger without a cause is a by-product of a false view of our selves. We need our eyes to be opened to the truth. Only the Holy Spirit through God’s Word can open our eyes to our true self and help us to have the right kind of anger. If anger is not handled properly, it will damage our health, destroy our relationships, devastate our career, and dishonor/displease our God.

Question: How is anger affecting your life? Is it affecting your mental, emotional, and             physical well-being? Is it destroying your relationships with your loved ones and people in people general? Is it affecting your spiritual life and your relationship with God? Are you ready for some change? Are you saved?

The text before us talks about 3 situations of anger:

I. WHEN ANGER LASHES OUT 

22 “…And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Background: There has been a lot of discussion on the difference between these two words – Raca and fool. The word “Raca” comes from the Aramaic word “reqa” which means, “fool.” The word for fool is “Moreh.” Bottom line: Both the words seem to be saying the same thing. What’s going on here? Although, evidence is very slim, it could very well be that “raca” was more insulting than “moreh.”

For e.g. In the South, there’s an expression – “bless his heart.” Unless you are saying that to a little kid who is being cute and innocent, it’s not very flattering. It usually implies – “You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Sometimes they even insert “God” into “bless your heart.” That’s just to couch the blow.

Here’s the point: In anger, you can outrightly call someone a “fool” or you can say, “bless your heart.” Either way, you are lashing out at the other person in anger without a cause. What Jesus is saying here is – you heard it said, “whoever calls his brother an ugly name may have to stand trial before the city council, but I say to you that if you talk down about someone in anger, you may have to stand in the fire of hell.” Wow!

Many of us say a lot of stuff in anger. Some of us just lash out with a slew of insults and curse words. That is evil and will be judged by others. Others of us have a way of talking down and condescendingly about the person we’re angry with. Sometimes I think that is more painful than the insults and curse words. In God’s standard of righteousness, even the slightest and the subtlest angry words will not go unnoticed. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 12 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

By the way, 2 verses earlier in verse 34 Jesus called the Pharisees and the scribes “brood of vipers.” That’s a bad name! And in Matthew 23 and verses 17 and 18 he actually called them, “Fools and blind!” Is Jesus being a hypocrite? He is proving that only God has the authority to call somebody a “fool.” What’s the point? When we use hateful words because we are angry without a cause, we are elevating ourselves to the place of God and we’ll have to give an account for every one of those words.

What’s the Solution? Restrain. Stop. Wait. Walk away. Count to 10 or 100 or 1000 before you speak.

Question: How do you react when you get angry? Do you start calling the other person ugly names? Do you start cutting down the other person with ugly names? Do you cut them down behind their back with ugly names? I’ve seen many couples do that to each other behind their spouse’s back. Do you realize that one day you will have to give an account for every idle word before God?

II. WHEN ANGER LOOKS BACK

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar,

Background: There was only one altar on which the Jewish people could make an offering and that was the one at the Temple in Jerusalem. Imagine someone standing by the altar with his or her animal. Keep in mind that Jesus is preaching this message near the Sea of Galilee that is 80 miles to the north of Jerusalem. It has taken this person 3 days to travel from Galilee to get to the Temple in Jerusalem. What happens? “and there remember that your brother has something against you.” Oswald Chambers makes an insightful observation. Jesus didn’t say – “If you rake up something by a morbid sensitiveness, but – ‘If you remember,’ that is, if it is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God.” Many people are walking under constant remorse and guilt that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. They are constantly digging and probing themselves and causing spiritual hemorrhage. It might just be the way they grew up and somebody always accused them of something they did wrong. This is not what this passage is talking about. If you are under constant guilt, take it to God in prayer so that he will release you from this state of perpetual guilt. It’s not from Him.

But, if the Holy Spirit brings to your mind someone who is angry with you and you have not tried to restore things, then you’re not ready to worship God. Here’s an important point: Anger affects our Worship. In other words, horizontal relationships do affect vertical relationship. How you relate to people affects how you relate to God. If right now you’re angry with someone or someone is angry with you, it will affect the way you worship God. You cannot compartmentalize your spiritual life. You cannot separate earthly things from heavenly things.

What is the solution? 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Keep in mind that this person is 3 days away from home. It would be totally unreasonable for Jesus to say – “Leave the animal at the altar and go home 3 days away. Take another day to find the guy who is angry with you. Then turn around and come back. Altogether, that’s 7 days – 1 whole week! More than likely, the person who is angry is also at the temple. What’s the point? It is easy to get along with people far away. It is much harder to get along with people right next door or in the pew over. As someone said, “To live above with those we love, oh, how that will be glory. To live below with those we know, now that’s another story.” Many times when people do try this, they go with such a pompous and self-righteous manner – “I forgive you.” It just adds fuel to the fire.

Question: How is your relationship with people near to you? Do you offer grace to them? Are you patient with them? Do you wait for them to come to you or do you swallow your pride and go to them? If you do try to make things right, in what spirit do you do that? Do you realize that your spiritual life is at a standstill until you restore that relationship?

III. WHEN ANGER LINGERS ON 

25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

For e.g. Two siblings who are in trouble for fighting with each other. They’re both about to get it. Before mom and dad can deal with them, they make things right.

Don’t wait, deliberate, or procrastinate but immediately activate the process of reconciliation.

There are 2 verses in the Bible that have helped me a lot through the years:

Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” Would you agree that we are living in a sick society?

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,

26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. Meaning: When you refuse to let go, you can hang on along with the offender.

Application: How long does it take for you to settle a record? Are you known as a person who holds on to old grudges? Are you a person who does not like settling things quickly?

Are you saved?? From the cross Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Only through Him you can say the same.

Anger Management Part Three

ANGER MANAGEMENT – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

anger3Introduction: This morning we are in part three in our miniseries on Anger from the Sermon of the Mount.

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

Overall Background: 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Last weekend, we first tried to understand what is “anger with a cause.” It is anger when people harden their hearts, when leaders compromise the gospel, when people act like they know better than God, when we see the innocent being mistreated, and when Christians give a bad testimony. The point is – not all anger is bad. Remember – anger is a divine emotion (it comes from God) and it is a derived emotion (it comes out when God’s Holiness and Love come together). We need this kind of anger today – Anger With a Cause. By the way, it’s not mean or hateful or vindictive but it stands up for what is right, for the truth of God.

But, there is another kind of Anger, Anger Without A Cause, which is what this text is about. This kind of anger is not righteous, it is not godly, and it does not bring any good. In fact, it destroys, it is deadly, and it is demonic. No matter how much you justify or rationalize it, it is sinful and against God’s will. Jesus actually compares it to murder. Listen to verse 21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause…” In essence, Jesus is saying – “Murder is bad but anger without a cause is worse!”

Question: Do you have this kind of anger? Should I ask – “Does your friend have this kind of anger?” How has it affected your spiritual life, family life, relationships, and work performance? How do you feel when the dust settles? Are you ready for a change? Are you saved?

Let’s look at anger “without a cause.” It comes out —

I. WHEN WE FEEL REJECTED

Genesis 4 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,

Background: Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve. Both of them had respectable occupations – Cain was a farmer and Abel was a Shepherd. When it came time for the offering, God accepted Abel’s offering over Cain’s. Why? Because the offering was supposed to be a blood sacrifice that would represent our forgiveness of sins and refer to the coming of the One who would die for our sins. Cain must have gotten tired of buying a lamb from his brother every time he had to offer a sacrifice and so he decided to make a change. Why can’t God accept my best? What’s wrong with fruits and vegetables? Several things wrong with that – one, the blood sacrifice represented life for life, my sins upon the Lamb; second, it gave a distorted image of God. God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth. He doesn’t eat fruits and vegetables.

Listen to verse 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. Cain must’ve felt rejected. God even tried to remind Cain – 6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” What was the result? Cain killed Abel.

Life is full of rejections – relationships, job opportunities, church responsibilities, and the list goes on. Rejection is painful. It makes us question our self-worth. It causes us to lose our self-confidence. It incites us to resent the one who is accepted or selected. How you deal with rejection is important? Review what happened, rectify what is missing, reach out to God, and renew your determination. What happens when you don’t deal properly with rejection? Resentment follows. Rebellion follows. Wrath follows.

Jesus gives us an excellent illustration on how to handle rejection. There’s an incident in the Gospels when Jesus went to a certain village of the Samaritans and they did not let him come into their village. Why? Because he was headed to Jerusalem. Samaritans and Jewish people didn’t get along. What is interesting is the response of two brothers, James and John, who were known as the Sons of Thunder. Meaning: they had a bad temper. Listen to their response in Luke 9:54 “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

Application: What kind of spirit do you have? Have you been rejected? How are you handling it? Rejection left alone will lead to resentment, which will lead to rebellion, which will lead to wrath.

II. WHEN WE FEEL STRESSED OUT

We all know about the prophet Jonah – how God called him to go to Nineveh but he ran from God (we’ve been to this place) and how God sent a big storm. Jonah himself asked to be thrown overboard and a big fish swallowed him.

  • He was inside the fish for 3 days and 3 nights! How would your mental state be? I would say you’d be a little stressed!
  • But after that Jonah is vomited onto dry land. But God’s not through with Jonah – “It’s time to go to Nineveh.” So now he has to travel from the Mediterranean coast to Nineveh, which is a long way. That is stressful!
  • Finally, he is at the gates of Nineveh. Ninevites were not known for their hospitality! It usually didn’t make it on anybody’s bucket list to visit. These people were known for their highly advanced torture techniques. That’s stressful!
  • He enters into this exceedingly great city and has to walk through it – that is 3 days journey in length. That is stressful!
  • Keep in mind – this is not a leisurely walk through the historic district of Nineveh. He has to preach to them – “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” That is stressful!

What’s the result? The people repented, even their King, and God turn from his fierce anger and did not destroy Nineveh. What is Jonah’s response? Jonah 4 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” Why? Yes – he is prejudiced against the Ninevites but it’s more than that. Listen to God’s question for Jonah in Jonah 4:4 Then the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” He doesn’t even answer God but goes outside the city limits, makes himself a shelter, and sits down to see what will happen next.

God just told him what will happen but he doesn’t get it. So God created an object lesson for Jonah. God raised up land to grow up and provide shade for Jonah. This made Jonah very happy period but the next morning God prepared a worm and it went and destroyed the plant. By noon time, the sun beat down on his head and the hot east wind blew against him. Jonah almost fainted and once again he said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Listen to God’s question again in Jonah 4:9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” Listen to God’s answer in Jonah 4:10   But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Finally, Jonah had nothing to say. Why? He knew better.

When we are overly stressed out, we do things and say things that we would typically not do and say. When confronted with the truth, we know better.

Application: Are you stressed out? Are you getting enough sleep? When was the last time you took a break? In your spiritual life, are you resting in Christ? Are you praying daily?

III. WHEN WE FEEL EXPOSED 

We all know about Joseph and how his brothers had sold him into slavery. But God in His sovereign plan raised him to be second in command in Egypt. When there was a famine all over the world, his brothers came and stood in front of Joseph. They didn’t recognize him but he did. Finally, he revealed to them who he was. Listen to Genesis 45 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. 4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Joseph is so wise now. He knows that their immediate response would be sorry and anger. So he reminds them that God allowed this to happen for everyone’s good.

Truth can either set us free or make us angry. Unfortunately, many times people get angry and mad when they face the truth. Sometimes they are mad at the person telling them the truth, sometimes they are mad at someone else, and other times they are mad at themselves. None of these are the right kind of anger. They don’t help or heal. They only bring more pain. Sometimes some people even get angry with God.

Application: Are you angry with someone because they had exposed you to the truth about you? Are you angry with God? What are you going to do?

Here are some solutions:

  • Recognize that you are angry.
  • Pray for the one who rejected you.
  • Ask for God’s wisdom, healing, and forgiveness.
  • Humble yourself and look to Him every moment.

Are you saved?

The Blessing of Spiritual Vision

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

THE BLESSING OF SPIRITUAL VISION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofspiritualvisionIntroduction: So glad all of you are here this morning and also glad to have all those who are joining us by radio! Thank you for tuning in! We’re back in our series called Salt and Light on the Sermon on the Mount and this morning we will be looking at the sixth beatitude in our message called – THE BLESSING OF SPIRITUAL VISION.

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

Overall Background: 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Just when you think that you have a handle on these beatitudes, this one throws you for a loop. Think about this – As a Christian you can be poor in spirit and have the kingdom of heaven, mourn and be comforted by the Holy Spirit, meek and inherit the earth, hunger and thirst for righteousness and be satisfied, merciful and receive mercy but if your heart is impure, you’ll never see God. In other words, you can be stable emotionally, growing biblically, and acting mercifully but if you are living sinfully, then you will be blind spiritually. You can do a lot of things right as a Christian and even be a salt and light to the world but if there is sin in your life, then God will be hidden from you.

There are two words that have all but disappeared from Christian vocabulary. First is the three-letter word – Sin. We talk about everything from prayer, worship, ministry, God’s will, conservative values, and reaching the world but sin? Who wants to talk about that! Another word that has gone out of her vocabulary is holiness. In fact, that word is looked down upon as legalistic, negative, old-fashioned, judgmental, and boring.

Question: How is your sin life? What do you think about holiness? When was the last time you repented before God? Has the Holy Spirit convicted you recently of some sin in your life? Have you done anything about it? There is no substitute to holiness in the Christian life. Here’s the heart of the matter – are you saved? If there is no conviction of sin, it’s probably because there is no Holy Spirit in your life. You’ve never seen God and you’ll never see God until you see Him on the Day of Judgment.

This morning ask the Holy Spirit to remove the trash in your heart so that your vision may be clean enough to see God. Once again – three questions in this passage:

I. HOW TO HAVE A PURE HEART?

“Blessed are the pure in heart…”

Background: Before we run to Webster’s to define purity, we need to look in the immediate context. Jesus was quoting this beatitude, almost word for word, from Psalm 24, a psalm of David. To give you a little context – this psalm begins with the declaration that everything belongs to God – 1 The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. This earth, this universe, and all of us human beings are God’s property and He is the Creator King but He is not satisfied with just that. Listen to vs. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Meaning: God is not some almighty sovereign ruler, despot, and dictator who lives in His grand palace and can never be seen and approached by the common people. To the contrary, He wants to meet us, talk to us, and connect with us. He wants us to come to Him, hang out with Him, and live with Him. But there’s a problem – “Or who may stand in His holy place?” There’s a barrier/barricade that keeps us from getting near Him. It’s God’s holiness. He is holy and we are sinful.

People ask, “What is sin?” Paul gives a detailed list in Galatians 5 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 John 5:17 simply says, “All unrighteousness is sin…” Bottom Line: Sin is anything that is contrary to the nature of God and goes against the will of God. It is neither neutral nor passive. It wants to spread and take control and destroy everything. But God is holy and He cannot and will not let sin rule. That’s why His wrath is against sin and since we are sinners, it is against us. In fact, Romans 5:10 tells us that sin has made us “enemies of God.” Don’t misunderstand – God’s wrath is not some bad temper. He’s not some bully going around threatening people or a cantankerous old man, always angry and yelling at people to get out of His yard. Isaiah 28:21 reminds us that God’s wrath is His unusual act.” Think of it this way – “It is a love which is so jealous for the good of the loved one that it blazes out in fiery wrath against everything that is evil.” (Leon Morris, Apostolic Preaching of the Cross)

So sin invokes God wrath but that’s not the final word. To the question, who can stand in His holy place, the answer comes in vs. 4 “He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” Meaning: To come close to God you need to purify yourself, externally and internally. In other words, you need total holiness. No hypocritical, half-hearted, pretend holiness will do. God sees the heart. We are like an open book in His sight.

Application: Are your hands clean before God? Is your heart pure before God? Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin’?” It’s a rhetorical question. Jeremiah 17 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart…” David clarifies in vs. 4 “…Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” 2 things God hates: 1. False gods – anything that is taking the place of God in your life. It’s more than just some idols in a temple. 2. False swearing – claiming God’s name falsely. When you say you are a Christian and yet disobey Christ and His Word, that’s swearing deceitfully.

Application: Is someone or something playing God in your life? Are you taking God’s name in vain? Have you ever received a spiritual heart transplant? Have you ever received Jesus as your Savior? That’s the only way you can receive a clean new heart.

II. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SEE GOD? 

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”

Background: How does that work? We have to go back again to Psalm 24. Listen to vs. 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 “He shall receive blessing from the LORD…” Now listen carefully to vs. 6 “This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.” For over 2000 years people have struggled with this verse. What exactly is David saying here? “Those who cleanse their hands and purify their hearts will receive a blessing from God. They will be called the Jacob generation. Who are they? They are those who are determined to see the face of God.”

Who was Jacob? Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and twin brother of Esau. Esau was the firstborn but despised his birthright. Jacob wanted that blessing and bought it for a bowl of stew. Later when Esau tried to get the blessing back, Jacob went as far as to deceive his father to get what was rightfully his. By the way, the Bible never condemns him for that. Esau made a vow that he would kill Jacob and he had to flee for his life. Twenty years later, it was time for Jacob to head home but he had to face Esau. The night before he prayed to God foe help. What was God’s response? Genesis 33:24 “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” How strange?!! Just when you’d think that God would have sent a cool breeze, put some angels around him, and given him sweet dreams on a soft bed so Jacob could wake up fresh and ready to take on Esau, some stranger jumps on him and tries to pin him to the ground! This goes on all night but the worst is about to come. Genesis 39:25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint…” Ouch! So now he’s sleep deprived, physically exhausted, and limping in incredible pain. Will he finally give up?

What in the world is God trying to do? God is testing Jacob. “You tricked Esau and got the birthright. You tricked Laban and got your Jacob wrestling with Godfamily out. You are about to trick Esau and head back to your home. Are you going to trick Me too? But how much do you really want the blessing?” Somewhere between the grappling and tussling, pushing and shoving it hits Jacob – his opponent is not just some man or even some angel (He had seen some earlier in Mahanaim). This person is a whole different being and immediately he tightens his grip. Did he pass the test? Maybe. The person says in vs. 26 “…Let Me go, for the day breaks” but Jacob replies, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” It was no longer about Esau. It was no longer about his livestock. It was no longer about his family. Did he pass the test? Maybe. 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Meaning: You wanted the blessing. You fought for it and got it. Did he pass the test? Maybe. 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. Did he pass the test? Now he passed the test.

Listen to Jacob’s response in vs. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Who was this? There’s only one who qualifies to be both God and man. It’s Jesus Christ pre-incarnate. The same way he came to Abraham and later to Moses, Daniel, and others, he came to Jacob.

Application: Do you really want to see God? God doesn’t reveal His face so easily and cheaply. How much are you willing to purify your heart? What would happen if you and I had that kind of determination to seek after God? The Holy Spirit is waiting to do that kind of work in our lives.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK? 

Jacob and Esau reconcile by Francesco HayezBackground: Keep in mind the true blessing of the beatitude is not to self but to others. We are blessed in order to be the Salt and Light to others. Let’s go back briefly to Genesis 32:31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. You can silhouette of a truly broken man. He sees Esau and bows seven time to the ground. What was Esau’s reaction? Genesis 33 4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. What a beautiful sight! 8 Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” Remember the hundreds of animals – goats, ewe lambs, rams, camels, cows, bulls, donkeys, and foals? And he (Esau) said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.

Our world is so broken right now. Our country is so divided right now. What is the answer? It may sound simplistic but here goes – “Men and women, boys and girls with clean hands and pure hearts who have only one desire – to see the face of Jesus.” When we go out like Jacob who saw the face of Jesus, then and only then will forgiveness and salvation come to the Esaus. Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Is your heart pure before God? David said in Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do you need a new heart? Are you saved?

SECRET TO THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE (Article)

SECRET TO THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on January 10, 2015)

According to popular research, this year’s resolutions were no different than the years before – “Get More Sleep,” “Save Money,” “Quit Smoking or Drinking,” and, top of the list as always, “Loose Weight.” Oh yes – there was also “Flossing!” I guess nobody wants a “Bridge Over Troubled Molars!” But sadly, most people’s resolutions go in one year and out the next. Why is that? It’s because of a three-letter word that has all but disappeared from American Christianity. It only brings up images of Bible thumping preachers in tent revivals. It conjures up feelings of guilt and condemnation. I’m talking about the word “Sin.” Now before you throw down this paper, I urge you to suspend your judgment briefly and keep reading. This may hold the secret to the best year of your life! Here’s why –

  1. Our fundamental problem is Sin – We have renamed and redressed our problems but sin “by any other name” still reeks of sin: selfishness, pride, envy, jealousy, anger, hate, bitterness, lying, control issues, insecurities, bad habits, addictions, sexual sins, lust, pornography, lack of discipline (food, time, thoughts), lack of obedience, lack of commitment, and everything that’s anti-God. Unfortunately, we are both sinners by nature and sinners by choice. We are born in iniquity and sins (Psalm 51:5) and then we deliberately choose to go astray (Isaiah 53:6).
  2. Sin destroys our life – Initially, sin is not a big deal but “its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Take for example something as seemingly harmless as “time-management.” So many people have made resolutions to manage time better in 2015. Here’s a question: Why do we waste time? First, we think it’s our time. That’s a lie. It’s God’s time. He has given the same amount of time to the President and the man living on the street. When we waste time, we are wasting His time, which is a form of stealing. That’s a sin. Second, we spend countless hours in mindless entertainment, trolling on Facebook, sticking our nose in other people’s business, or fighting endlessly in marriage and relationships. We have lost sight of God’s purpose for our lives and do not care to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. That’s a sin. Third, we waste time because we presume that others will pick up our slack. In essence, we look down on other people’s schedules and lives. That’s a sin. Fourth, we take on too many things and then we cannot manage our time. Somehow we think too highly of our selves. That’s a sin. Fifth, we waste time because we do not value our own selves. As someone said, “If you value your self, you will value your time.” If you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” then so is your time. Lack of self-worth comes from believing what we or someone else have said about us rather than what God has said about us. That’s a sin. Need I go on!

If you open your eyes, you will see that sin is destroying marriages, goals, success, health and everything that is wonderful.

  1. Sin needs a Savior – Even though sin is the ultimate culprit behind all our problems, it is ultimately against God. God is Holy and He cannot tolerate even a speck of sin. Hence, Jesus came and took the penalty of sin upon Himself by dying on the cross. By receiving Him as your Savior you don’t have to face the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9) But there’s more! Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age.” (Galatians 1:4) Of course, one day we will be permanently free from the presence of sin but even now we have been set free from the power of sin. As we look to the Holy Spirit, He helps us to reject sin and walk in righteousness (Romans 8:2-4). In the famous hymn “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” Charles Wesley writes, “He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free.”

Repentance Anyone?!!

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVED

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVED by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVEDEvery now and then I like to preach a message directly on salvation. Let me clarify – every message I preach has salvation as its goal. But, periodically, I like to preach a message that is focused on nothing but salvation. Such is this morning’s message from I John titled – “SIGNS THAT YOU ARE TRULY SAVED.”

1 John 5:11-13 11And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Overall Background: The early Christians were facing doubts about their salvation. They had lost sight of the true gospel; false teachers had come into the church and they were preaching a false gospel. John, the “Beloved Disciple”, wrote this letter to remind them of the true gospel. He wrote this letter to challenge them to examine their lives for the signs of true salvation. Listen again to 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know (not guess or speculate or wish) that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” John gives a list of 8 signs that will mark a true believer in Christ.

Salvation brings certain changes in your life.There will be a difference in your life before Christ and since Christ. It may not happen right away and it may not happen all the way but these signs will show up. They may not be seen all the time and you may not see them at the max every time. But somewhere, sometime, somehow, they will show up. But, if there are no signs and have never been any signs – you are lost.

BOTTOM LINE: NO SIGNS = NO SALVATION.

This morning each of us have to examine ourselves. Whether you prayed a prayer 50 years ago, 5 years ago, or 5 hours ago. Do you see these signs in your life? For your own sakes, I hope your answer is not “I think so” or “I hope so.” Let it be – “I know so.” If you have to keep convincing other people you are saved….you fill in the blanks.

8 signs that you are truly saved. We will move rapidly this morning.

1st SIGN – FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD THE FATHER AND HIS SON.

1 John 1:33that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 

Background: The word for “Fellowship” (koinonia) is found over 60 times in the NT. Its root meaning is “common” and “shared.” It implies sharing your life with someone. One sign that you are saved is that you begin to share the supernatural life of God and His Son. It is not just a “free ticket to heaven” or “get out of hell card.” (Deep Relationship)

For e.g. Growing up I had friends who would come over to our house. Dad would stop by the living room and speak with them. He would ask them about their families, school, sports, and things like that. He was just being nice for me. That was not fellowship.

Adoption brings a deeper relationship. Listen to Jesus in John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Again to Paul in Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Meaning:You enter into the family circle of God. You get to know the Father and the Son. You fellowship with them on a personal level.

Application: Have you had such a fellowship with God and His Son? Have you sensed Their presence in your life? Do you love Them enough to go talk to them? Do you find the hour of prayer – an hour to catch up in fellowship? How do you feel when you learn something new about God the Father and God the Son? This may not be all the time and it may not be all it can be but it’s there.

2nd SIGN – SENSITIVITY TO SIN

1 John 1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

Background: Jesus is the Light of the World and once He comes into your life, darkness has to run. Light will either dispel darkness or darkness will try to overpower light. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. This does not mean that you will never sin after salvation.

Listen to 1 John 1:8-10 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It’s not that we don’t sin anymore but we don’t walk in sin anymore. Another meaning of walk is “abide” or “dwell.” It does not bring the same joy and excitement as before.

Nicole’s dad would say, “It’s not that you become sinless, but you begin to sin less.”

Application: Are you sensitive to sin in your life? Can you feel the spiritual battle that is raging in you when you face sin? Do you feel the pain of broken fellowship with God when you sin? Do you feel the uneasiness and stress when you allow sin to come into your life? Do you know that you have a choice in rejecting sin? Do you run to Him and confess and repent of your sin?

3rd SIGN – OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD1 John 2:3-4

3Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Background: Obedience is very important mark of discipleship. Listen to Jesus in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Does that mean that Christians always obey? No.

For e.g. My children may not always obey; they may not completely obey; they may not joyfully obey, they may have stopped obeying. But, sometime, maybe when they were young, they obeyed. If they never obeyed, then they were never my children.

A Christian may partially obey, reluctantly obey, and may even refuse to obey. But a Christian cannot permanently disobey. There will be some obedience.

Application: Can you see obedience to the Word of God in your life? Do you see a desire to keep the commandments of God? Do you see a pattern (maybe irregular) in your obedience to the Bible? Is there a new love for this book? Do you read it daily? Do you look forward to hearing it preached?

4th SIGN – REJECTION OF THE WORLD SYSTEM

1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Background: The “world” here is not the beautiful creation of God; it’s not good music or good food or a beautiful painting or a beautiful architecture. “World” here is the evil system that denies God, hates God, exalts Satan, and spreads godliness. This world system does not hate religion. It makes its own religions, ideologies, philosophies, and moralities. Listen to 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Sometimes a Christian may get sucked into the world system (Lure of money, power, and even lust because of friends and career.) but he/she will not be comfortable in it. Like the Prodigal Son, they will return. By the way, the World system hates the Christian. Listen to 1 John 3:13 “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” If the world has no problem with you, you are more than likely part of it.

Application: What is your attitude towards this world system? Do you reject its false religions, ideologies, philosophies, and moralities? Do you feel at home in it? Do you constantly give into its attractions? Does the world hate you?

5th SIGN – HOPE OF THE RETURN OF CHRIST.

1 John 3:2-3 2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Background: Over 84 times the NT talks about Hope (elpis). Many times it refers to the return of Christ. Christians may disagree over how things will turn out in the end – pre-trib or mid-trib or post-trib; we may disagree over the meaning of different passages in the Book of Revelation; but, one thing is for sure, every true believer has this hope that one day Jesus will return on earth. Paul says in Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”

When the lost people look to the future, they think it is hopeless or uncertain; other times they put false hopes on things and people who will fail them. A Christian knows that there is no need to despair. One day Jesus is coming again and He will set everything right. Knowing that He is coming causes us to live holy and ready to meet Him. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure.”

For e.g. Teenager at a party wants to leave because he is afraid that he might hurt his parents.

Application: Maybe you don’t know everything about the return of Christ. That’s fine. But, do you have this hope of His return in your heart? Are you eagerly waiting for His return? Does it motivate you to live pure and holy lives?

6th SIGN – LOVE FOR OTHER CHRISTIANS.

1 John 3:14-15 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Background: Prior to getting saved, we see the church as judgmental and hypocritical. The moment we accept Christ and become part of the body of believers, God pours His love in our hearts. We realize that fellow Christians are our new family. We begin to have a certain love for fellow-believers. We realize that we are part of the Body of Christ.

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:20-26 20But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor . . . 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

I can’t understand how some people can say that they love Christ but hate the church. It’s like saying – “I love you but hate your wife and kids.”

Application: Do you love other believers? Do you honestly care about other believers? Do you try to reach out and meet their needs? Do you look forward to being with them?

7th SIGN – DISCERNMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1 John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

Background: When you receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you. Earlier in 1 John 4:2-3 he says,Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

What does the Holy Spirit do for us? 1) He convicts us of sin and encourages us to walk in truth. 2) He transforms us in the sight of God. 3) He helps us to remember the Word of God. 4) He helps us to lead a godly life by bringing out the fruits of the Spirit. 5) He gives us spiritual gifts for the edification of believers. 6) He becomes our guarantee of eternal life with God. 7) He empowers us to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ. 8) He teaches us to discern between truth and error.

Application: Do you sense the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you see the fruits of the Spirit in your life?Does He talk to you and guide you in the right path? Can you sense His guidance in your life? Can you see His discernment in your life?

8th SIGN – PRAYERS ANSWERED ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.

1 John 5:14-15 14Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Background: God answers prayers, even of unbelievers. When a pagan mother cries out to God: “O God – heal my child!” Who heals that baby? God not Satan. He alone has that power. David says in Psalm 65:2,“O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.” God is waiting for the second prayer: “God – thanks for healing my child. I want to know you.” Now God will reveal to that person the Lord Jesus.

But, for a Christian, there is much more than answered prayers. Listen again to verse 14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

He brings about His perfect will in our lives. If God just gave us what we wanted every time, we would be in a mess.”

For e.g. Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers – Thank you Garth Brooks.

Application: Do you feel that God is listening to you when you bow your head before Him? Do you have the confidence in your heart that God will give you the very best according to His will? Do you also have the assurance that sometimes He may not give you what may hurt you?

Do you see these signs in your life? Eternity is too long to be wrong. If not, receive Jesus as your Only Hope to Eternal Life and Savior from sin.

WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA

WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in Jonah 3 for our message titled “WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA.” One question that I am frequently asked is – “Is God through with America?” Or “Is America under God’s judgment?” This morning’s message is very critical for all of us.

Jonah 3:3b-6, 10 3b Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city belonging to God, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes… 10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Overall Background: We are at that point in our study of the book of Jonah where the focus has shifted from God working with Jonah as an individual to God working with the Ninevites as a people. So far we’ve seen how God disciplined Jonah when he disobeyed Him. Now we will see how God dealt with Nineveh because they disregarded Him.

This morning’s message is very critical for us to hear. In some ways, America is where Nineveh was 2700 years ago. We are in the middle of an economic, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy, just like the Assyrians. God is speaking to us today just as He spoke to the Ninevites of Assyria. He is giving us the answer to our problems as a nation. The question is – “Are we going to listen?” Before we get into the message, let me ask you this morning – “Do you care what’s happening in our nation?” Sadly, many people – young and old – think that as long me and mine are okay, I don’t care. Hopefully, this message will make you aware of what is at stake. If you do care, this message will give you the hope you are looking for our nation.

There are 3 things we will see in this message: First, the Morality of Nineveh; Second, the Message of Jonah; and finally, the Mercy of God.

 I. THE MORALITY OF NINEVEH.

Listen once again to verse 3…Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, belonging to God. Four times it claims that Nineveh was a great city. It even adds that it belongs to God. Why did He say that? Let me give you 3 reasons for that:

#1.It was great in size.

It took 3 days journey to walk through this city. It was not just one city but also a conglomerate of two or three cities, like RDU. Altogether it was a distance of 60 miles. The walls were 100 feet high and broad enough to let three chariots ride side by side. The city was big enough to have large spaces for farming and pasture. This would keep them self-sufficient in case they were surrounded. It had beautiful palace for the king. It is claimed by archaeologists that the population was somewhere over a million people.

#2.It was great in sin.

They were cruel in their treatment of their enemies. They did things that I cannot describe to you. All that we know of torture techniques fails in comparison. Historical records talk about pyramids of human heads after the defeat of the enemy. Boys and girls were burnt alive. Listen to how Nahum describes Nineveh – Nahum 3:1-5a 1 “Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. 2 The noise of a whip And the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots! 3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses—They stumble over the corpses— 4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries. 5 “Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts.” Not a place that you and I want to go on a vacation.

#3.It was great in history.

The first time we hear about Nineveh is in the Book of Genesis 10. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Shem’s son Asshur founded the nation of Assyria. He left Babel and moved out and obeyed God. But the sons and grandsons of Ham were rebellious before God. Listen to Genesis 10 and verse 8 onwards. Ham’s son “Cush begot Nimrod.” Nimrod = marad (Hebrew) means to rebel. In essence, it means, “let’s do as we please.” “he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” It means “rebellious one before the Lord.”Early historical documents tell us that Nimrod was like the first Antichrist. He was a dictator. He tried to turn people away from God and to follow him. He was a hunter – not of animals but of men.

10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. In Babylon, he led the people of the world, at the time in the land of Shinar, Babylon, the land of modern day Iraq, to build “a tower whose top is in the heavens.” It was a temple dedicated to the worship of the heavens, the worship of the constellations, the worship of the sun, the moon and the stars (zodiac). This was sun worship. Today, all throughout the world you will find sun worship.But Nimrod did not stop there. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh…” What was his purpose? Maybe he was trying to infiltrate and corrupt Assyria like Babylon. This was how Nineveh got started.But for some reason it says in 3b Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city belonging to God, Meaning: God cared about Nineveh.

In many ways, we are where Nineveh was 2700 years ago. We are a great nation and we are also a sinful nation. CNN did a poll recently on how Americans view morality. If you compare it with a similar poll done in 1987 by Time magazine, it tells us how far we have come. Everything from “having an abortion, engaging in homosexual behavior, looking at pornography, smoking marijuana, and living with someone before marriage” has become more acceptable!

First Landing - Abidan and Nicole

First Landing – Abidan and Nicole

Shah Family - Chesapeake Bay

Shah Family – Chesapeake Bay

There is one area where we are very different from Nineveh. Our nation’s history goes back only 400 years. In fact, last week we were at Cape Henry on Fort Story – a joint expeditionary military base. We stood at the place known as the “First Landing.” This place, by the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, is where the first English colonists arrived at 4am on Sunday April 26th, 1607. It is now marked by a granite cross, put there by the Daughters of the American Revolution. They did this in memory of the cross that was set up by the colonists on April 29th, three days later. What took them three days to plant the cross? Because the pastor Robert Hunt had called for three days of prayer and fasting, saying, “From these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World but the entire world.”

If God cares for Nineveh, a city founded by one who hated God, how much more does He care about America.

Application: There is a great attempt to rewrite the history of our nation. When you study history, it is obvious that our nation was founded as a Christian nation. Does that mean that everyone always acted in a Christian spirit? Of course not. But, because some lived contrary to the Bible does not mean all did. Nonetheless, we are a nation that is turning away from God. We are becoming greater and greater in sin. Unlike Nineveh, Christians are still a strong majority in this nation.

II. THE MESSAGE OF JONAH

4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Background: Just an 8 word sermon! Actually in Hebrew it is only 5 words! I think Jonah gets the Guinness Book of World Record for the shortest sermon. I call it the turn or burn sermon.

What was the result in Nineveh?

Jonah 3:5-9 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

People wonder how can a nation or city like Nineveh respond so easily? Things were not going too well for Nineveh about this time. They had faced some military and diplomatic losses recently. They were also facing famine. There were some riots and uprisings among the people. Not only that, but they also had faced an earthquake and a solar eclipse in 768BC. Needless to say, God was working on Nineveh for sometime.

6Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

The formula for revival is there in the Bible.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if 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.”

Several times in our nation’s history it seemed that we had hit bottom.

  • First time around 1730’s – The American Colonies were going downhill and God sent the First Great Awakening.
  • Second time was around 1790 – People were moving west and the country was going downhill. God sent the Second Great Awakening in the east and west.
  • Third time was in 1857. A man by the name of Jeremiah Lanphier led the prayer revival and countless many were saved. God raised up men like D.L. Moody and others.
  • Again in the 1920s and 1930s it seemed the morals of our nation were gone. God raised up the Billy Sundays and the Billy Grahams and many others.
  • In the 60’s and the 70’s it was the Jesus Movement where disillusioned young men and women turned towards God.
  • Now again in 2014.

Application: What message are we bringing to the world? As a church, are we actively sharing the good news?

III. THE MERCY OF GOD.

Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Background: Some people have a problem with that – “God relented.” How can God change His mind? In the OT, 9 times we hear that God does not change His mind but 27 times it says that He changes His mind.

2 Peter 3:9-13 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Where do you stand with God? In Christ He has made a way for you. Do you know Him?

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