When God Calls You by Pastor Abidan Shah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. NATURE OF GOD’S CALL.

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

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

capernaum-aerial

Capernaum Aerial

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

capernaum-ancient

Capernaum Ancient

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

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

capernaum-synagogue

Capernaum Synagogue

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

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

capernaum-ruins

Capernaum Ruins

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

capernaum-street

Capernaum Street

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

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

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

II. CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S CALL.

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

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

Feast with Tax Collectors and Sinners

Feast with Tax Collectors and Sinners

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

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

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

III. OPPOSITION TO GOD’S CALL.

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

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

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

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

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

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? -2

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church

whose in your family treeThis morning I’m preaching the second message in our miniseries titled “WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?” This is still part of our ongoing series on the life of Christ from all four gospels. In this subseries we are looking at the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the first chapter of Matthew. Having a genealogy was not uncommon when it came to the biography of a famous person but what is odd are the names of 4 women of questionable character.

Matthew 1:1-6 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2   Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Overall Background: Matthew being a tax collector knew how to keep records. He was used to writing names of people and families. It was not an accident that he wrote four names of women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Not illustrious women like Sarah, Rebecca, or Rachel but Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba – women who had an embarrassing past. Why did he do that? If you were here last week, you may remember that he had that because he wanted his readers to know that God did not choose just the best of the best to bring His Son into this world but also the undesirables. He wanted his readers to know that Jesus was the Savior of the decent people as well as the outcast. He wanted his readers to know the grace of God even in lineage of Jesus.

Application: This morning, how do you see yourself? Do you think that God is only seeking the brightest and the best or does He also work with those who are weak and prone to failures? Do you think that God plays favorites or do you believe that He loves everyone? Do you think that Jesus died only for the good boys and girls or do you know that if you were the only one in the world, He would have still given His life for you?

This morning we will see through the life of Rahab that God doesn’t play favorites but He does show His favor on those who are willing to humble themselves before Him.

I. RAHAB THE PROSTITUTE

The first time we meet Rahab is in Joshua 2:1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

Background: Rahab was a citizen of Jericho. Before we try to understand Rahab, we need to understand Jericho a little bit. It was a prominent city for several reasons:

  • First, it was a border city on the west side of the Jordan River. The people of Israel led by Joshua had made it to the east side of the Jordan River. It was situated between east and west and north and south. If you win here, the word would travel to the east and the west and north and south that you are going to win.

Jericho

Jericho1

Jericho2

Jericho Tower

  • Second, it was an oasis – not because of the Jordan River but because of a perennial spring that was there for thousands of years. All to the east was an arid desert but Jericho was the picture of lush fertile vegetation. It was known as “the city of palm trees.” It was also symbolic of the transition of God’s people from being desert wanderers to being inhabitants in a land flowing with milk and honey.
  • Third, it was a well-guarded city. Archaeologists have debated over Jericho for a long time but one thing that is clear is that it had Gene Fackler - Jericho wallsmassive defenses. All around the city was a mud embankment. This was stabilized by a 15 feet high stone wall. On top of that was a mud brick wall about 6 feet thick and about 18 feet high. Then, a second wall further in on the top of the embankment. It had double protection. Later on in chapter 6 we read how God commanded Joshua that the only way to bring down the wall was for them to march around the city with the ark of the covenant for 6 days and on the 7th day they had to march around it 7 times. Only then will the walls come down. By the way, Rahab lived on the wall of this city. Joshua 2:15 says, “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.”

Not only was Rahab a citizen of such a prominent city but she was also a prominent woman. When the word got out that some foreigners had come to Rahab’s brothel, the king could have just ransacked her house but he didn’t. Instead, Joshua 2:3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” She’s more like Madam Rahab than some no name prostitute from the street corner.

Why did I go into all this? Rahab – a citizen of a prominent city, a prominent woman, someone whom even the king feared – must have been quite a woman. I can picture her as someone who was proud, brash, and arrogant. She had made it through the school of hard knocks. Her favorite line was probably – “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” She didn’t owe anybody anything. She had the dirty little secret on every prominent man in the city.

There are 2 kinds of people when it comes to sin – those who are ashamed of it and those who are proud of it.

Application: Has your past brought pride in your life? Sometimes when people mess up, they become proud of their messes. “I do that. So what?” “Are you better than me?” “Nobody was there to help me and ain’t nobody gonna teach me how I can or can’t live my life.” James 4:6 “…God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” You cannot receive God’s grace until you humble yourself.

II. RAHAB THE PROSELYTE

The soldiers came looking for the two spies but Rahab had hidden them on the rooftop under stalks of flax. But listen to what happens after the soldiers left – 8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof,

Now listen very carefully – what we are about to read is the Old Testament sinner’s prayer.

9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.

Rahab from The Bible Series#1. She admits that that her gods and the gods of her people cannot give her courage against the God of Israel. In other words, she admits that she is a sinner.

10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

#2. She acknowledges that there’s only one true God and He is the God of the people of Israel. In other words, she admits that salvation is of the Jews.

11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

#3. She confesses her faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In other words, she asks the God of Israel to be her Savior.

Again, this is the Old Testament sinner’s prayer.

Application: Have you ever prayed to be saved? Romans 10:9-10 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Maybe someone here truly believes that they are saved. Do you know when you got saved? If not, choose today as your day.

III. RAHAB THE PEACE MAKER

Rahab could have said – “Good now that we’ve got that settled! Can I just come with you guys? Or, just remember me when you come against our city. I’ll shore appreciate it!”

But listen to her – 12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

I’m just using a little bit of sanctified imagination – more than likely her father, mother, brothers, and sisters did not care much for her. After all, she was a prostitute. She was an embarrassment. She probably was not welcome to family reunions and birthdays and any celebrations. She was an outcast. As far as her family was concerned, she was as good as dead. But, that didn’t matter now. She was saved. She was a different person. Something happens when people truly get saved. They want to tell others about Jesus, starting with friends and family. By the way, that’s not very easy because they know all your faults and weaknesses. 2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

So the men tell her “Alright, only if you don’t tell anyone.” Then verse 18 unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.

Just like the night of the Passover in Exodus 12:7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.

Application: You can imagine someone saying, “That is superstitious. I’m not doing that.” Another saying, “I don’t want to mess up the door. Let’s tie some beautiful words or some gold or some jewels or even a spotless lamb to the door. How about we put the blood on the inside and not on the outside? The Blood had to be on the outside.

So also the scarlet cord had to hung on the window for all to see.

You cannot be saved by your reputation, your good deeds, and your courage. Its only by the blood of Jesus Christ.

What did she do? 21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

Application: Who do you know right now who is lost? Have you talked to them about Jesus?

IV. RAHAB THE PRINCESS

As I was wrapping up this sermon I kept feeling that something was missing. So I looked up the names in the genealogy again. 4 …Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Where have I heard the name Nashon? Numbers 2:3 On the east side, toward the rising of the sun, those of the standard of the forces with Judah shall camp according to their armies; and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be the leader of the children of Judah.” 4 And his army was numbered at seventy-four thousand six hundred.

Nashon was the father of Salmon who married Rahab. Salmon was a prince. Hence Rahab was a princess.

Application: Do you know that through Jesus Christ you and I are sons and daughters of the King of Kings?

Do you need God’s grace in your life? Humble yourself before Him today. Receive Jesus as your Savior. Trust Him with your life. He has great things in store for you.

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