Dedication by Pastor Abidan Shah

DEDICATION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson Dedication

Introduction: How do you gift something to someone when it already belongs to them? I remember as a little boy wrapping things up around the house and giving it to my parents on their birthday. I would wrap up a flashlight and give it to my dad on his birthday. I would wrap up a pen and give it to my mom on her birthday. By the way, that was when I was very young. They would act all happy and excited to get a gift from me but later I realized that it wasn’t really a gift because it already belonged to them. In this service we are dedicating this new sanctuary to God but, in reality, it already belongs to him. So, what are we doing? We are really dedicating ourselves to God. We are committing ourselves to using this place to worship God, to magnify his son, to allow the Holy Spirit to work freely, to preach the truth, to encourage and edify one another, to reach the lost, and to be a lighthouse in our community and our world for Jesus Christ. The dedication is not of brick and mortar but of hearts and lives.

2 Chronicles 6    41“Now therefore, Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, And let Your saints rejoice in goodness. 42“O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed; Remember the mercies of Your servant David.” 2 Chronicles 7  1When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. 3When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying:“For He isgood, For His mercyenduresforever.”

Question:  They saw the fire and the glory and they fell on their faces before God. When was the last time you fell on your face before God? When was the last time you dedicated yourself to God? Are you saved?

Context:  The passage we just read comes from a very high point in the history of God’s people. After years of delaying and deferring, they finally got around to building the temple in Jerusalem. It came from a deep conviction in King David’s heart. 1 Chronicles 17:1“Now it came to pass, when David was dwelling in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the LORDisunder tent curtains.’” This is powerful to me because it tells you why David was a man after God’s own heart. He saw what many couldn’t see that there was no single place for God’s people to worship him. Even though David’s desire was noble, God knew the future and he told him that he was not going to build the house but his son will. Later we hear from David himself in 2 Chronicles 22    8but the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “You. . . shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight. God saw what would happen with Bathsheba and Uriah her husband.9Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest. . .” Remember that. “. . . His name shall be Solomon. . . 10He shall build a house for My name.”Ultimately, God had one greater than Solomon in mind. (Matthew 12:42)

When we see paintings of the temple in Jerusalem, it’s not Solomon’s temple that we are looking at but Herod’s temple. Herod’s temple was beautiful! It was actually more than twice the size of Solomon’s temple. It was very impressive but no match for Solomon’s temple for many reasons. For starters, Herod’s temple was elaborate but Solomon’s temple was ornate. I don’t have time to go into all the details but listen to this – 1 Chronicles 22   14“Indeed I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the LORD one hundred thousand talents of gold (3,000 tons; rough calculation – $128 billion)and one million talents of silver (30,000 tons; rough calculation – $14 billion), and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant. I have prepared timber and stone also, and you may add to them.15Moreover there areworkmen with you in abundance: woodsmen and stonecutters, and all types of skillful men for every kind of work.16Of gold and silver and bronze and ironthere isno limit. . .”Keep in mind that the temple, even though smaller than Herod’s, was roughly 40 ft wide, 130 ft long, and 50 ft tall. That’s a lot of walls to overlay with gold and silver.

For the cedar and the stones for the temple, Solomon gave Hiram, king of Tyre, twenty cities in Northern Galilee! He in turn also sent his best craftsman. There were 2 bronze pillars in the front entrance. One called “Jachin” meaning “God establishes” and the other called “Boaz” meaning “In God is strength.” Inside the temple, the walls are covered with precious stones and beautiful imagery of floral patterns and cherubs. All the sacred objects inside – candelabrum, tables, lamps, etc. – are all made of precious metals and wood. They did not spare anything in building the temple of God.

Here’s the point: The church is not a temple. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Neither is the building the church but it’s the place where the church meets. Having said that, it’s a shame when you see a church building in shambles and people living in mansions. Something is truly wrong. It’s a reflection of the spiritual lives of the people who attend that church. It tells how much they truly care about the things of God. How much do you care about the things of God? Do you give the best or what’s left over?

I want us to focus for the next few moments on Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple. 2 Chronicles 6    12Then Solomonstood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and. . . knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven).” So also, when we come into this place, we are to humble ourselves and come with open arms.

14and he said: “LORD God of Israel, there isno God in heaven or on earth like You, who keepYourcovenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts. 15You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; So also, when we come into this place, we are to come in faith and take hold of God’s promises.

22 “If anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comesandtakes an oath before Your altar in this temple, 23then hear from heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, bringing retribution on the wicked by bringing his way on his own head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.” So also, we need to come knowing that God sees and knows everything.

24“Or if Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, 25then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and their fathers.So also, we need to come repenting before God.

28“When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sicknessthere is;29whatever prayer, whatever supplication is madeby anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: 30then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men), So also, we need to come seeking help from God in times of trouble.

2Chr. 6:32  “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; 33then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as doYour people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name. So also, we need to realize that this place is for all people.

41“Now therefore, Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, And let Your saints rejoice in goodness. 42“O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed; Remember the mercies of Your servant David.” What Solomon saw through a telescope, we see clearly. Jesus is the ultimate Son of David, chosen King of Israel, whose kingdom shall have no end. We are now the priests and the holy nation before God. We are to rejoice in goodness.

Ephesians 2   19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Are you part of the temple of God? Are you saved?

Help! I’m Losing My Faith in the Bible.

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HELP! I’M LOSING MY FAITH IN THE BIBLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

bible-with-question-mark copy You should know by now that we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning I’m preaching a message titled “HELP! I’M LOSING MY FAITH IN THE BIBLE.” Instead of just one passage, we will be reading two passages – one from John 2 and the other from Matthew 21; one from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the other towards the end of Jesus’ ministry. When we read them, you will notice that they are both describing how Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem from the money changers and their animals.

John 2 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. 12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days. 13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.

Matt. 21 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” 12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

Overall Background: Lately I’ve heard (more times than I would like to count) about another young man or woman who has given up on Christianity and turned to atheism or agnosticism. Let me give you a recent example – In January 2015 an article made news. It was written by someone named George Perdikis who called himself the cofounder of the Christian group Newsboys. In this article he wrote about how he had become an atheist.

Listen to his words: “I left the band in 1990 and went back to Adelaide. There, I got married, taught guitar, played pubs and clubs, built homes, and had two beautiful daughters. As I carved out a life for myself away from the church, I began my own voyage of inquiry into what I believed. My perceptions started to transform when I became interested in cosmology in 1992. I soon found myself fascinated by the works of Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins. I learned so much and was blown away by all the amazing scientific discoveries and facts. When my marriage dissolved in 2003, I turned my attention to human psychology. By 2007, I renounced Christianity once and for all and declared myself an atheist.”

Sad, isn’t it? But what I found sadder were some of the comments that followed:

“As a long-time Christian, I did take a long, hard look at Christ and his teachings, and became a convinced atheist.”

“I spent the better part of my life being a Christian. I sought desperately for evidence that would demonstrate that Christianity was true, and the thousands of other religions that mankind has invented over the centuries are false. In the end, though, I found absolutely nothing to distinguish Christianity from the rest of the pack, and found no real evidence to support the truth claims of any them.”

“Sorry, but there really is no evidence that anything in the Bible is other than story…There are literally hundreds of contradictions in the Bible.”

Just last week I heard that one of my good friends who inspired me to do a PhD died. He was one of the smartest men I knew and very knowledgeable about the Bible, history, and philosophy. I have books in my library on apologetics that he helped write. But that’s not the sad part because he is with Jesus right now. The sad part is that two of his oldest children have nothing to do with God and one of them is an atheist. I wasn’t able to sleep that night, not because my friend had died, but because of where his kids are today.

My heart breaks every time I hear such reports. To me, nothing is more painful than knowing that our children are no longer walking in the truth. The question is WHY? Why would someone who claims to have grown up in church, went to Sunday School, VBS, and Youth group give it all up? Why would someone turn their backs on the faith of their parents and grandparents? Why would someone discount that moment when they prayed to receive Christ as Savior? The reasons are many:

  • Maybe they were never truly saved.
  • Maybe they were holding onto rules and regulations rather than faith in Jesus.
  • Maybe they were never truly grounded in God’s Word. They are like the ones who received the seed that fell on stony places – heard the word and immediately received it with joy but since there was no root, they only endured for a while. For when tribulation or persecution came because of the word, they immediately stumbled.

Meaning: We did a poor job in grounding our young people in the word of God.

I often ask God what is my task as the pastor. Is it just to get up and give a three-point sermon on how to do better at something? Is it just to help people understand and apply the Bible? Is it just to lead us as a church to win the lost and grow? Or, is it more? The Holy Spirit pointed me to Titus 1:9 where Paul is giving the requirements of a pastor –holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. Meaning: I need to hold fast to the faithful word the Bible and exhort others to do the same and convict those who contradict it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we need to spend our whole time defending the Bible. As Charles Spurgeon said to the meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1875 – “Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself.” No, we don’t need to spend our whole time defending the authority of the Bible but we do have a mandate to teach our children to hold fast to the faithful word. If we don’t, our young people will very well succumb to the idle talkers and deceivers.

This morning I only want to focus on the claim that “I cannot be a Christian anymore because there are contradictions in the Bible.” We don’t have time to look at every alleged contradiction in the Bible but we’ll look at one.

We read two passages this morning, one from John 2 and the other from Matthew 21. Some people consider them to be aHenry Ian Cusick Visual Bible - The Gospel of John contradiction. Both passages describe the event when Jesus came to the Temple, was appalled by the desecration of the moneychangers and their animals, and he made a whip of cords and drove them out. The problem comes in because Matthew 21 and also Mark 11 and Luke 19 mention the incident in the last week of Jesus’ ministry. In fact, after He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (which we call Palm Sunday) that he went into the temple and began to clean it. On the other hand, John 2 mentions the incident at the beginning of his ministry, right after the wedding in Cana of Galilee, which was the beginning of signs. How could that be?

  • Some people have taken this example to claim that the Bible has errors. If that’s the case then it’s no longer the Word of God. If it’s no longer the Word of God, then it’s no longer binding on our lives. If it’s no longer binding on our lives, then it’s no different than other “holy books” of other religions. In other words, Christianity is one among many ways to God.
  • Some Christians have tried to defend the Bible by claiming that Jesus actually cleansed the Temple two times – one in the beginning of his ministry and again towards the end of his ministry. The problem with this view is that there are too many similarities between the two incidents to be anything but the same incident. Also, if there were two different incidents, John could have mentioned it again in chapter 12 when he talks about Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on the donkey but he doesn’t.

So what’s the answer? These are one and the same incidents. John has put an incident from the end of Jesus’ ministry at the beginning of his gospel. 3 things we need to understand:

  1. Positive not negative – Some people claim that the church has manipulated and corrupted the Bible. If I we’re trying to make the Bible look like God’s Word, this is one passage that I would definitely fix. This proves that people did not try to mend the Bible as is often claimed. It also proves that if people did not try to mend it then it must not have been a problem. We might have a problem with it but the early readers did not.
  2. Style of John – John repeatedly says “the next day” in John 1:29, 35 or “the following day” in John 1:43. But in John 2:1 he says “On the third day.” Is it the day earlier or is it three more days later? Actually, John is not trying to count the days. Instead, that’s just his style. It’s another way of saying “another day” or “the other day.” For e.g. Like people saying “the other day I was talking to my doctor or my mechanic.” You mean yesterday or day before. “Oh, actually a year or two ago.”
  3. Purpose of John – Towards the end of his gospel, John gives us the reason why he wrote this gospel. First, in John 19:35 “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.” Second, in John 20 30 “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke who were laying out Jesus’ entire biography, John’s purpose from the beginning is to get you to the Passion Week. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus’ trial begins in the last week. In John, the entire gospel is Jesus’ trial before the Jewish religious leaders. Right from the start in John’s gospel, Jesus begins talking about His hour. If you remember in the first part of John 2 at the wedding in Cana when Jesus’ mother says to Him, “They have no wine,” Jesus responds by saying, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Did you notice the word “signs?” Signs are more than just miracles. They are pointers towards the most critical week – the Passion Week.

In a sense, John is writing his biography of Jesus but he has a greater concern. It is to get to the Passion Week so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

INVITATION:

  • Are you saved? I think we made our case that the Bible doesn’t contradict. But please don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that we need to answer every contradiction before you can become a Christian. If that’s the case, then you’ll never give your heart to Jesus.
  • Do you know that the Bible is unlike any book in the world?
  • Are you reading the Bible?
  • Are you allowing the Bible to be translated into your life?
  • Are you passing along the Bible to your children and grandchildren?

WHEN JESUS GOT INTO TROUBLE

WHEN JESUS GOT INTO TROUBLE (RAISING JESUS – 2) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

RAISING JESUS (1)

This morning we are in Luke 2 for our miniseries “RAISING JESUS.” Ever wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary to raise Jesus. On the one hand, He was the Son of God but on the other, a normal human child. This morning we will see what happened “WHEN JESUS GOT INTO TROUBLE.” Sounds wrong to the ear doesn’t it?!! Let’s see what we can learn here.

Luke 2 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it…46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions…48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

Overall Background: As a pastor, the one issue that I often face is – “Wayward Children of Christian Parents.” In other words, “Children who grew up in church but now have nothing to do with it.” I hear statements like – “We raised them in church. Not sure what happened.” “We brought them every time the church door was open but now they want nothing to do with it.” When I meet some of those young people, they avoid me or even talk rudely to me. If they are civil, they’ll say – “I remember going to church” and then make some excuse. There’s another group – parents who want children in church but not too much. They’ll say – “We don’t want to push church down their throat cause they will grow up and want nothing to do with it like so and so’s children.” “We try to balance things out – church, school, and extra-activities. Too much church is not always good.”

This message is very critical. If I could I would rather sit and let someone else read my notes. I need to hear it. Here it is in a nutshell – What you do with church in the early years of your child’s life has a lot to do with what they do with church later. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” People have tried to reinterpret this verse to fit their failures and situations but the more you study it, the more you realize that it’s meaning is exactly what it states.

Let me remind you – This message is not to pour more guilt upon you if your children are not in church. If you did the best you could, pray and trust God’s grace. This message is not to give you excuse if you are out of church. Your parents did the best they knew. You are accountable for where you are today.

Application: Let me ask you – Parents of wayward children: “Are you praying for them?” Parents of children still at home: “Are you raising your children to love church?” Here’s a more important question – “Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If you don’t, it doesn’t matter if you are in church or out of church. You’re lost. You need to get saved and then pray for your children to get saved.

This morning we will see 4 images of the Child Jesus in this passage:

I. DEDICATED CHILD 

41 “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”

Background: In the Old Testament Jewish men were commanded to go to the Temple in Jerusalem for three festivals: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. But because the Jewish people were scattered so far and wide that first century Judaism made concession that they had to go only once a year, especially Passover. Matthew tells us that Jesus’ parents made this trip to Jerusalem every year. That was dedication. They lived in Nazareth, which was 80 miles from Jerusalem. It would take 3 to 4 days, traveling 20 miles a day. If you add it up – three days there, three days back, and couple of days in Jerusalem – altogether an 8 to 10 day affair. They had to spend money and no work, so no money coming in. Also if you notice – both the parents went when women didn’t have to. This shows that they were pious and dedicated to the temple.

Because His parents were dedicated to the temple, Jesus was also dedicated to the temple. Later in His ministry when He saw the money changers and the animals in the temple, He was angry and He drove them out saying – “ ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” John adds that “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’” (John 2:17)

Your children’s dedication to church is depended on your dedication to church. Dropping them off and not participating sends them the opposite message. Let me also caution you – There’s a movement out there that believes that you don’t have to be connected to church. You can have your own church at home. In fact, they think that it is more spiritual and early church like to have your own family church. After all the church is filled with hypocrites, money hungry pastors, and worldly Christians.

How was the Temple during the time of Jesus? In an earlier message we saw that there were problems in the temple. Positions for the high priests were being bought and sold. It was more political than spiritual. Nonetheless, Joseph, Mary, and the child Jesus went to the Temple. But someone might say – “But that’s the Old Testament law. We’re under grace.” Listen to Hebrews 10 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…” God wants us to get together. As a parent, He likes to see His family together.

Application: How important is church in your family’s life? Here’s a deeper question: Is it really about church or is it your own comfort that’s getting in the way? If you don’t value church, do you think your children will? Do you contribute financially?

II. MISSING CHILD

43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.

Background: What I find fascinating is how the Boy Jesus wanted to linger at the temple. He was just hanging around. He didn’t want to leave! Can you picture that? One amazing thing about Clearview is how children and young people like to hang around. Children like to play in the gathering room or out on the playground. Young people are usually gathered by the sound system or by the office or in the parking lot. That’s a good sign!

Application: Never use the church as a threat. Never use it as a punishment. Never get the child scared about the church.

43 “…And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Can you imagine the thoughts that were running through their heads?

For e.g. Have you ever forgotten your child somewhere? We have a couple of times.

All of us at some point have made mistakes with our children. Not necessarily left them somewhere maybe but something else. The important point is – it’s not too late to go back and get them.

Application: Have you made mistakes with your children? We all have. It’s time to seek repentance, their forgiveness, and know that God’s grace will take care of it. But there’s a Deeper Lesson – Sometimes we leave Jesus at church. We feel His presence here but when we leave, we leave Him here.

III. CURIOUS CHILD 

46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

Several things worth pointing out – The Jewish Rabbis allowed a 12-year-old to sit in their midst. Some people look at children and youngWilliam Holman Hunt - The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple people as an intrusion. Many of us short-change children. Children have much more understanding of spiritual things than we think they do. Sometimes I think they’re bored with our lessons. Going deep doesn’t mean you have to use big fancy words and theological catchphrases. It means giving time and effort to teach them. One reason children grow up and never return is because what they remember was not worth returning for. Sunday school teachers: If you are opening your books Saturday night or Sunday morning for 10 minutes and expecting to capture their attention, that’s a shame. How can we make them leaders and changers if we’re boring them to death? The problem is not with them. The problem is with us. Sadly, many teachers are there by default. The most important Sunday School classes in our church are the ones for the little children and youth, and maybe then for the adults.

There’s another point here – God forbid if a wrong person begins to guide our children. I’m not just talking about abuse but wrong teaching. Man in our church who turned the hearts of young people against the pastor (my dad) and church. This was in the 70s.

Application: Parents: Do you realize the spiritual depth that is in your child? Teachers: Do you realize the seriousness of your task? Children: Do you see the importance of learning about God, Jesus, and His Word?

IV. SUBMISSIVE CHILD

48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Now just when you think Jesus had put His parents in their place and He was ready to launch out, listen to verse 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

Jesus was “submissive” to His parents. What a beautiful sight! That should be our goal for every child.

There’s a big different between submission and suppression (You better do what I’m telling you to do. As long as you are in my house, you will live by my rules). What the child says is “I’ll live by your rules but one day when I am gone, I’ll never come back to church. Neither is submission the same as compliance. What the child says is “I really don’t care for mom and dad’s Christianity. I’m going along with it but one day when I’m on my own, I’m not going to do all this.” Finally, submission is not the same as being passive. Here the child says – “Don’t matter if you wanna go. I’ll go if you want to and I won’t if you don’t. No big deal.”

Being submissive means Jesus’ will was involved. With His will He was honoring His parents.

Our goal for our children should be submission. It means “I love God and I’m going to honor my mom and dad.”

Do you remember when Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins? He who knew no sin became sin for us. The weight of the entire human race was upon Him. The Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. He is the bridge between heaven and earth. But…there stands his mother at the foot of the cross crying. And as He is sacrificing Himself, in that moment of agony and pain, listen to what happened as mentioned in John 19  26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. WOW! How many of you would like to have a son or daughter like that?

Application: You might be a parent here today and your child has rebelled. After this message, you see your faults. It is time to call that son/daughter and ask them to forgive you. Go by and see them and humble yourself and ask them to forgive you. You might be a parent here today and your child has lost their way. After this message, stop blaming yourself and start praying for them. Go by and see them and love them and encourage them. Once again, the place to begin is with the question – “Do you know Jesus as your Savior?” “Are you doing all you can to lead your children to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?” Don’t be too sure of your kids because they are good kids. There’s a world of difference between conscience and Holy Spirit conviction. “As a church, are we doing all we can to reach children?”

NEAR AND YET SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. WORK PROBLEMS

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

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

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

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

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

2. FAMILY PROBLEMS 

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

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

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

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

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

3. CHURCH PROBLEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHEN IT’S HARD TO WAIT

WHEN IT IS HARD TO WAIT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When it is hard to waitWe are in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels called – “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” This weekend I’m preaching a message titled – WHEN IT’S HARD TO WAIT.” Most people quit in the last quarter, the last 25%, of the race, whether in marriage, ministry, education, business, or some other goal in their life. They give up, give in, compromise, take shortcuts, and quit. This morning’s message is not just to teach us to wait but to teach us to wait for God.

Luke 1:5-11  5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. 8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

Overall Background: Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke introduces us to the extended family of Jesus. In the passage we just read we meet some relatives of Mary, the mother of Jesus. These were not any ordinary relatives. They were to become the parents of John the baptizer. Now, Luke could have just given us the names of John the baptizer’s parents and focused on the coming of Jesus but, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he chose to give us more information about them. It’s almost as if he went off on a tangent. But I’m sure you will agree – in the geometry of the Holy Spirit, even tangents come together. Luke chose to tell us more about Zacharias and Elizabeth to teach us the value of waiting on God. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. In other words, they were waiting.

Here’s the purpose of this message– Any time God wants to do something supernatural, He makes us wait. That’s just his way. By making us wait He ensures that we will not interfere or claim credit. By making us wait he ensures that only he will get the glory and only His purpose will prevail. In other words, waiting is not a punishment but a preparation for God’s great purpose.

Application: Are you in that holding pattern right now? Have you prayed for something and work hard for something and have questioned why nothing is happening? You’re not in a bad situation. In fact, you are right where you need to be. But here’s a warning – while waiting, some people have the tendency to give up, give in, compromise, take shortcuts, and quit. If you do that, you lose what you’re waiting for. But here’s something very important – there’s one thing you don’t have to wait for. You don’t have to wait for your salvation, your forgiveness of sins, and your eternal life. You can receive Jesus right now and have that this instant.

Let’s see through the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth what to do while you wait for God:

1. BE BLAMELESS 

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias…

Background: There’s so much that is packed in this one line. For starters, in the days of King Herod the priesthood of Israel was in terrible shape. As you know from the Old Testament, priests belonged to the tribe of Levi and had to be descendants of Aaron. Through the centuries, priesthood in Israel had continued a downward spiral. In 174 BC, a man by the name of Jason had bribed Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid king, to become the high priest. Three years later, a man by the name of Menelaus, who was not even a Levite, also bribed his way to the position. After that, the Hasmoneans family of priests controlled the position. Then in 37 BC, with the coming of Herod the great, the high priesthood became a political appointment under Rome’s supervision. Gone were the days when holiness and righteousness and integrity where the qualifications for the priesthood. Now it was political savvy and power plays and big pockets. This was the reason why some Jewish people actually built a temple in Leontopolis, Egypt; this was the reason why some Jewish people left to form the Dead Sea community at Qumran; this was the reason why Jesus preached against the Temple and even cleansed it at one time. In short, the people went to the temple but inside they knew it was corrupt.

Now listen further – a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. Abijah was, of course, a descendent of Aaron but he was the chief of one of the 24 orders of the priesthood as set up by David the king. They had earned somewhat of a bad reputation because they did not return immediately after the exile. They were missing for a while.

Let’s summarize: the priesthood was corrupt and his own lineage was a disgrace.

But there’s something more – His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Meaning: Zacharias’s wife, Elizabeth, was also from a priestly line.

But the real point that Luke wants to bring out is in verse 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Background: I think there is a play on words here. The Sadducees controlled the Temple, claiming to be descendants of the high priest Zadok from the time of David and Solomon. His name comes from the Hebrew “sadok” which means righteous. So, the Sadducees are the righteous ones going all the way back to Zadok, the righteous high priest. But if you remember, Jesus had nothing but negative to say about the Sadducees.

Zechariah’s and Elizabeth were the true zadoks – the righteous ones before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

What a testimony! While everyone around them was compromising and corrupted, Zechariah and Elizabeth were walking blameless before God. As God was preparing to send his Son and he looked around to see who was righteous, guess who he found?

The problem with many people who are waiting is that they are not righteous, not blameless. Instead, they have compromised and indulged in some habit, some sin, some corruption, and have become vessels of dishonor.

Application: Let me ask you a question – when the eyes of the Lord come upon you, what does He see? Does He see a young person who is involved in some sin? Does He see an adult indulging in some bad habit? Does He see a couple or a family, behind closed doors, living a life of hypocrisy and disobedience? If so, you are disqualifying yourself from the waiting process.

2. BE FAITHFUL

8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 

Background: Historians tell us that there were as many as 18,000 to 20,000 priests and Levites at the time. As I mentioned earlier, the priest were divided into 24 courses and each course had to serve two weeks per year and the major festivals. Most of the priests lived in other towns and villages and they came up to Jerusalem when it was their time. They had normal jobs and occupations to support themselves along with their priestly responsibilities. It could’ve been very tempting to forget about their Temple responsibilities and focus on their job or business. After all, many of them struggled to make a living.

9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. Because of the large number of priests, they used the custom of casting lots, which occurred twice a day, to decide who will burn the incense for the whole burnt offering. This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Why do I bring this up? Zacharias could have dodged his responsibilities, blamed the corruption, stayed home complaining his back or his knee was hurting, or some other excuse but he was there when it was his time. In other words, he was faithful and God made the lot fall in his favor.

In a parable in Matthew 25:23 Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Application: As you wait, are you faithful? I’m talking to those in full-time ministries and those not in full-time ministries. Are you waiting for God to drop the answer to your prayers in your lap while you are asleep? Are you waiting for God to open the door for you while you’re busy fooling around?

3. BE FAITH FILLED

You know how it happened – the Angel appeared to him; Zacharias was afraid; the Angel promised him that the answer to their prayer had come; Elizabeth would bear a child and they shall call his name John; he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; and prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah.

What was Zechariah’s response? Verse 18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” Even though Zacharias was a man of integrity and a man of faithfulness, his faith was running low. Even though he was a godly man he was saying to the angel – “Come on let’s be realistic. Bible study, prayer time, good messages, serving the Lord, and all that is wonderful but we got a be realistic.”

Folks – what is realistic? What you know or what God says in his Word?

How did the Angel respond to this? Verse 19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. In other words, Gabriel is ticked. 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.

As an individual, as a family, as a church, if you want to please God, you have to believe God. The worst way to dishonor God is to doubt God and doubt his Word.

So what is the consequence? 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Application: If there is one point I want to stress more than others, then it’s this one. Do you trust God? Are you trusting him right now in your life? Are we as a church Clearview trusting God for future? When there is no faith element, there is no place for God to step in. Are we trusting God for big things? Someone might say – “It’s hard to trust God at times, especially with money.” One time someone asked R.G. LeTourneau, “If you know a thing is the will of God and you do not feel you have the faith, what do you do?” He said, “I go ahead and act like I have the faith.”

4. BE HUMBLE
Luke 1:23
  So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.

Background: What amazes me about the Bible, the Word of God, is not only what it says but also what it leaves unsaid! Imagine what happened when he got home. Elizabeth sees him walking towards the house and she walks out and greets him – “So honey how was Jerusalem? Lot of people at the Temple? How was your journey?” I can visualize Zachariah – “Elizabeth – pull up a chair. You won’t believe this.” Then he goes on to tell her everything. If I could I would love to get a picture of her face at that point. “Does that mean we have to…?” “I think so…the Angel didn’t say anything about a virgin birth.”

You get the point! They had to trust God’s word and now do something about, just like Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah, Manoah and his wife, they had to do something by faith.

24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Why did she hide herself? She understood that this was no ordinary child. He was the Herald, the messenger, the forerunner of the Messiah. She spent those five months preparing herself to be the mother God wanted her to be.

Application: When you wait upon God, he not only gives you the desires of your heart but he gives you so much more. Don’t rush out there and start bragging about it. Spend some time basking in his glory. Spend some time thanking him for his mercy. Spend some time asking him to prepare you to receive his blessing.

What have you been waiting for God to do in your life? Are you still looking to him in faith? Have you ever received God’s gift of Jesus Christ?

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