Fulfilled: Time of Jesus’ Birth by Pastor Abidan Shah

FULFILLED: TIME OF JESUS’ BIRTH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Fulfilled 2

Introduction:  Sometimes pastors get some funny letters! Here are just a couple written by kids – “Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won’t be there,” “Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody but He never met my sister,” “Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class.” I get some funny letters too but sometimes I get some really thought-provoking ones, like the one I’m about to read from a young man in our church. I’ve asked for his permission. He wrote — “Hi Pastor Shah! …I greatly appreciated your message today. I’ve been working on several questions lately that I can’t seem to find an easy way to answer. Questions of faith, I have found, can’t necessarily be resolved by scientific journal databases! Your sermon today, on the other hand, helped me in getting one of those questions to an articulate state. Would you mind either helping me with one of these, or pointing me towards some reputable resources where I can research the topic? Thank you.” I answered, “Of course. I’ll do my best.” “Awesome, thank you! Alright, here’s my main question at the moment: What evidence is there for the supernatural?” Meaning: How do we know that there is a world beyond what we can see and touch? Tough question but a great reminder that our young people have not given up on Christianity. It’s just that they have questions that we need to answer. It’s not enough to say “We believe it and that settles it.” We also have to explain “why we believe it.” I’m preaching our Christmas series “FULFILLED” in the hopes that it will answer some of those questions about the supernatural birth of Christ. Our ultimate goal is to capture our young generation.

Matthew 1:17 “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.”

Question: That’s probably the oddest opening scripture I’ve ever read. Now, you may not know it but that verse is considered the John 3:16 of the Gospel of Matthew. One scholar called it “the gospel in miniature.” We’ll look at it in detail in just a minute but it gives us the timing of the gospel. If you notice, it begins with Abraham with whom God made his covenant promise to bless all the families of the earth. Then, it proceeds to David through whom God blessed the people of Israel. Then, it falls into the Babylonian exile because the people rejected God. Finally, in God’s timing, Christ came to save his people from their sins. Promise – Blessing – Rejection – Salvation. This is the story of God’s people in a nutshell. Is that your story? Is Christ your Savior?

Context: The passage we just read has been a thorn in the side for many evangelical scholars. In fact, many who are against Christianity have pointed to this verse to prove that the Bible has errors. Some of ya’ll are wondering what exactly is the problem in that verse. Listen to it again – Matthew 1:17 “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.” There are several issues here:

  1. To start with, the time between the three sections is not equal. Between Abraham and David, there was at least 1000 years. Now, from David to the Babylonian exile, the there was only 400 years, less than half the time between Abraham and David. Then, from the Babylonian exile to Christ, there was 600 years. So, the sections are 1000 – 400 – 600. If there were 14 generations in between each section, that would make the average generation in the first section about 70 years, the average generation in the second section 28 years, and the average generation in the third section 42 years. It’s all over the place. By the way, the average generation is typically only 25 years.
  2. In the first two sections (from Abraham to David and from David to the Babylonian Exile) there are 14 names but in the last section (from Exile to Christ) only 13 names. One seems to be missing unless you count the last one from the second list again in the third list, then it’s 14 again. It appears so subjective and contrived.
  3. When you compare Matthew’s genealogy with the genealogies in I Chronicles 1:28, 34; 2:1-15, and Ruth 4:18-22 and the list of the kings in I and II Kings, Matthew skips over certain names in his genealogy. In fact, he omits as many as 5 kings between David and the Exile. Plus, you can also compare with the genealogy in Luke 3 and notice several more names there than in Matthew.

What exactly is going on? Does Matthew not know how to count? Did he not have an accurate list from which to copy? Is he manipulating the list to fit his purpose? Does the Bible have errors? Of course not. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. It is given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is God-breathed. If God is perfect, then whatever he breathes out is also perfect. Plus, we have plenty of other places that stand true so we can say “Let’s look for reasons that prove that this one will stand true as well.” For e.g. What happens when a traffic light goes out? Do you reject the entire signal system everywhere? Of course not. They send someone to figure out what’s wrong and repair.

There are 2 possible solutions:

  1. The number 7 is a very important number in the Bible. Many many times it is mentioned: Genesis 2:3 “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 8:4 “Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.” Exodus 13:6Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord.” (Passover) Leviticus 4:6 “The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the Lord, in front of the veil of the sanctuary.” Numbers 28:19 “And you shall present an offering made by fire as a burnt offering to the Lord: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Be sure they are without blemish.” I don’t have time to look at every mention of 7, here’s just a couple more. Psalm 12:6 “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.” Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”

Seven is the number of completion. So, 7 + 7 = 14 means double completion. In the first section, there are 1st 7 and 2nd 7. In the second section, there are 3rd 7 and 4th 7. In the third section 5th 7 and 6th 7. With the coming of Jesus we now have 7th 7 which is total completion. He is it! There’s no one else.

  1. The number 14 is also a very important number in the Bible. Many time it is also mentioned: Numbers 28:16 “On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord.” Numbers 29:13 “You shall present a burnt offering, an offering made by fire as a sweet aroma to the Lord: thirteen young bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in their first year. They shall be without blemish.” 1Kings 8:65 “At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven more days—fourteen days.” There is a reason why I focus so much on the Old Testament. Because, the New Testament is grounded in the soil of the Old Testament. Without a proper understanding of the OT, we will misunderstand the NT.

Something else under 14, David’s name, according to a system called Gematria (where each Hebrew letter has a numeric value – A = 1, B = 2, G = 3, D = 4, H = 5, V = 6; An example is 666 in Revelation 13:18 – “Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.” Probably, Nero Caesar) had the numeric value of 14 where D = 4, V = 6, and D = 4. If you remember from last week, David is very important in Matthew’s gospel. Matthew begins his gospel by saying Matthew 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Even though Abraham was chronologically first, David was as Jewish as they get. Remember the illustration of John Smith and George Washington. The second is far more American. Also, in the list of the genealogies, David is number 14. Bottom line: Matthew is not trying to give us the biological genealogy of Jesus. You can go and find that out like Joseph did when he went to register in Bethlehem. He is far more interested in giving us the dynastic genealogy of Jesus. Matthew wants us to understand that Jesus came from the line of David to claim his rightful throne. He is the true fulfillment of the promise that God had made to David. Jesus is the true king of Israel, the true king of the Jews. Where David messed up, Jesus won’t and didn’t. By the way, we need to remember that those kings who were omitted were all cursed. Read the rest of Matthew and you will realize how much emphasis there is on the title “Son of David” for Jesus!

Ultimately, what Matthew is trying to tell us is that Jesus is the completion of God’s plan of redemption. The true king has come in God’s appointed time. Is he your king or are you still living as if you are your own king? Is he your Savior?

TIMEOUT: STOP, REFOCUS, AND GET BACK IN THE GAME OF LIFE – 1

TIME OUT: STOP, REFOCUS, AND GET BACK IN THE GAME OF LIFE – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

timeoutThis morning we begin a two-part series through Romans 13 titled, “TIMEOUT: STOP, REFOCUS, AND GET BACK IN THE GAME OF LIFE.” When a team starts doing poorly, the coach calls a timeout to talk to his players – to remind them of the game plan, to warn them of the time remaining, to correct their mistakes, and to encourage them to get back in the game. So also in life we need a timeout.

Romans 13:11-14  11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Overall Background: The passage before us if one of the most inspiring passages in the Bible. Paul is like a coach talking to his team. He is going over the game plan, he is reminding them of the time remaining, he is correcting their mistakes, and he is inspiring them to get back in the game.

Application: This morning all of us need this timeout. We get so caught up in life. We get so frustrated with our circumstances. We get so disillusioned with our situations. We get so wrapped in bad habits and bad decision that we start losing. Let me remind you – If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are still in the game. The message for you is to listen to your coach – the Holy Spirit. If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, you are lost. No matter what game you win, you will still lose in the end and this is the message for you.

4 things Paul tells them in this timeout:

I. “YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.”

Verse 11 begins with 3 words – “And do this”

Do what? Do what I’ve been teaching you since Romans 12:1. It is filled with applications on how to live the Christian life. For example:

–       Romans 12:2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Meaning: Change the way you think about God, life, self, and others.

–       Romans 12:5 “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Meaning: We’re connected. Learn to get along with others in church.

–       Romans 12:9 “do not avenge yourselves…for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Meaning: Don’t waste your time holding a grudge. Let God handle it.

–       Jump over to Romans 13:9-10You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor.” Meaning: Love those whom God has placed in our life.

When Paul says, “And do this,” he is referring to all this and more. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t deliberate. Don’t hesitate. Obey it. Repeatedly the Bible tells us to obey.

–       1 Samuel 15:22 “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”

–       Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

–       James 1:22   But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

–       1 John 2:3   Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

For e.g. Once I was talking to a coach about a player and he said – “He is a great player but he doesn’t listen.”

Many of us think that we need a new secret to help our Christian life. We know enough to keep us going for a long time. Like the Hymn – “Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. Are you obedient?

II. “WATCH THE CLOCK.”

11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep;

Background: There are 2 things that Paul is telling them – First, watch the clock; and second, you are already in the fourth quarter. You have overslept!

Christians can and do fall asleep. I’m not talking about sleeping in church, which some do. They think I can’t see them. Let me ask you  – “Can you see me?” Then I can see you!

I’m talking about spiritually sleeping. Let me give you a quick checklist to determine if you are asleep:

–       Do you know what’s happening around you? In your family, marriage, church, and community.

–       Does it bother you that what is wrong is normal and what is right is abnormal?

–       Does it bother you that your loved ones and friends do not know where they will go when they die?

–       Does it bother you that the church has lost its focus?

If you know Jesus as your Savior, your eyes are opened to the truth, you know the people are lost, you know that you have the hope of eternal life with you, without knowing Jesus people are lost. How can you be asleep?!! Moreover, how can you oversleep?!! That’s even worse! We are running late.

for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Background: Salvation here is not individual salvation but our ultimate deliverance from sin when Jesus comes for us. Now some people think that the early church believed that Jesus would come in their generation. That’s not exactly true. They believed that Jesus could come any moment. There’s a difference there. There is not a single prophecy that has to be fulfilled for Jesus to come again. He came the first time. There are 129 prophecies regarding the first coming in the OT. There are 329 prophecies regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ in the OT and NT. Now if the first one took place with fewer prophecies, then how much more will the second one come to pass, if it is 3 times more. We are 2000 years closer to His coming.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand.

Application: Isn’t it true that many of us know the right thing to do but we push it off to another day? We say – “Tomorrow, I’ll get started at that” but tomorrow never comes. “One of these days, I’ll get around to working on my marriage, going to church, reading the Bible, praying, serving God, and giving my life to God.” But that day never comes.

You need to be revived.

III. “LET’S MAKE SOME CHANGES.” 

12…Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness,

Background: Paul tells them – Guys, you have to change some things. Remember, the definition of insanity: do the same things over and over and expect different results. The reason you are in a mess if because of wrong choices.

If you are a Christian, what does the Bible say about you?

Romans 6:17-18  17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

I Corinthians 6:19-20  19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Hence, cast off the works of darkness. That’s not you!

Application: You may have to make some changes in what movies you watch, what romance novels you read, what games you play, what people you call your friends. Put away all your past regrets, present lures, and future fears. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Ask godly people to support you.

IV. “GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT.”

“and let us put on the armor of light.”

Background: The imagery is one of changing clothes. Put away your pajamas and put on your armor. You are in a battle. There is a battle for your marriage, for your children, for your lost loved ones, for your church, for your community. But you cannot fight this battle with earthly weapons.

Ephesians 6:12-13  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Last week I had a phone call from someone I’ve know for a long time and this person said to me – “I feel like my time is up. I had so many dreams and goals but I think life has passed me by.” I could hear a sense of defeat and discouragement in this person’s voice. My answer was – “Absolutely not! You are breathing aren’t you? Then, you are still in the game. You need to take a timeout, reassess your situation, seek God’s help, and get back in the game.” Instead of despairing over lost time, God wants us to live the remainder of our life with urgency and purpose.

Application: Are you doing all you can to live for God? Are you doing all you can to win people to Jesus Christ?

Let me add something here – If you’ve never received Jesus as your Savior, you are not asleep. You are dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” You don’t need to be awakened. You need to be resuscitated.

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY (ARTICLE)

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY (Article) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven….He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,11

As we head back to work, school, and daily responsibilities, we hear—“time flies,” “time marches on,” “watch your time,” and my favorite – “I don’t have enough time.” These clichés are not very accurate and by the way – we all have the same amount of time! The point is—we have a very poor understanding of how to manage time wisely. Thankfully, the answer is found in the Bible. This timeless book has many principles on how to manage time wisely. Here are some:

1. Recognize that time is limited and it doesn’t belong to us. Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Many of us are wasting precious time on frivolous things. Time is a gift from God to each of us. When we waste time, remember—we are on God’s clock. He wants us to “redeem the time.” (Col. 4:5)

2. Make a list everyday and tackle the most difficult task first. After Jesus called His disciples, He gave them a list of things to do as they went from place to place: “preach…heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons…freely give…” (Matt. 10) Zig Ziglar would often challenge—make a list as if you were leaving on a vacation tomorrow and start with the most difficult task first. Without specific goals, our days simply fritter away. We do what we want to do and not what we need to do. Many people never start on the important things because they are too afraid of making mistakes. The key is excellence and not perfection.

3. Picture what success looks like in one-year, five-years, ten-years and so on. Solomon—the wisest man who ever lived—gave the example of the ant which “provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Prov. 6:6-8) Even the ant pictures its success in the future! For a student, picture yourself making the honor roll; for the housewife, picture yourself saving up to go on a vacation; for others, picture yourself going back to school or starting a business or celebrating an anniversary or finishing the Bible. If we can’t see it, we won’t reach it. But be reasonable, as Ted Engstrom’s wisely remarked: “We terribly overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in five.”

4. Don’t be so “time bound” that you forget to smell the roses along the way. The roses are our spouse, children, family, friends, and people in general. Those children will not be little forever; our spouse will not be by our side forever. God commanded in Deut. 5:12, “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.” He gave us a day of rest to rest our body, restore our relationships, and refocus on Him. Learn to enjoy the abundant life. Remember—the journey is also the destination.

5. Give God the best of your time and He will help you make the most of your time. Even Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, “in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35) A day that begins on our knees will always end in victory. God promises that He will even “restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

Most importantly, it is always the right time to receive Christ. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (I Cor. 6:2) You will be amazed how this decision will change your perspective on time!

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