Becoming a Chain Breaker by Pastor Abidan Shah

BECOMING A CHAIN BREAKER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

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Introduction: Many years ago Nicole and I decided to take our 3 kids at the time to our old stomping grounds in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. There is a place there called Helen, kind of a tourist town, built like an Alpine village. The Chattahoochee River winds through the town and people can go tubing. It’s beautiful. We arrived that evening and went for a walk and saw the people floating around in ankle deep water. Nicole and I had done that before and we decided to take the kids tubing the next day. We didn’t pay attention to the weather but all night it rained and rained. The next day we got to the tubing place and it was no longer a lazy river but looked like some white water rapids. Against our better judgment we decided to go for it. Nicole kept Nicholas with her, I kept Abigail, and Rebecca was by herself. It wasn’t 30 seconds into the river that I realized that this was a huge mistake. The ankle-deep river was now about chest high in places and we were being hurled through as if we were on the Colorado River. I hung on to Rebecca’s tube until a big boulder knocked her out of my hands. Before I could react she had slipped a few meters and then a few yards away. People on the banks were watching us in shock. Rebecca went around a bend and I couldn’t see her anymore. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life. We could see slippers and tubes that were abandoned by people but we didn’t want to get out because Rebecca was somewhere out there. Finally, we got to the end and she was there waiting for us. The point is this – when I made the decision to go tubing, I never anticipated what would happen. In fact, after the first 10 minutes, I lost sight of our daughter. So also in life, we make decisions but we don’t realize the consequences that follow. Most of the time we will never see what may happen in the future. The series we’re starting today is called “THE FAMILY: SOME DO’S, SOME DON’T’S, AND SOME WHO KNOWS.” People have asked me to teach on marriage, family, and parenting and I’m always reluctant because there’s so much I don’t know. But I had to remind myself that it’s not about my opinion but about the Word of God. So, we will be studying the family of Abraham and Sarah from the Book of Genesis. The advantage of this series is that we’ll be able to track the consequences of their good and bad decisions to the third, fourth, and even later generations. Today’s message is called “BECOMING A CHAIN BREAKER.”

Genesis 12   1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”…5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan.

Question: Before we begin the first message, let me ask you a few questions. Do you feel that you have a good understanding regarding marriage, family, and parenting? How is your marriage? How is parenting working out for you? Where did you get your understanding on those subjects? Was it from a parent, grandparent, celebrity, friend, or church leader? Were those individuals truly successful in their marriage, family, and parenting? Do you have Christ in your life? Without him, you’ll never have what you truly need to be successful. Why don’t you invite him into your life right now?

In this first message we’re going to learn what it means to be a chain breaker. As we go further it’ll become clear what I am referring to.

  1. The first Chain Breaker.

When we thing about the beginning of the people of Israel, we only think about Abraham and Sarah but truly we need to go a few steps back and read the preceding verses. Listen to Genesis 11:31 “And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.” We mistakenly think that Abraham (Abram) was the first and only one to get the call to follow God out of the Ur of the Chaldeans. Not really. In fact, the first one to step out was Abraham’s father Terah.

Who was Terah? When we do a careful study of the genealogies in the Book of Genesis, we find that Terah is located at the end of the first age and the beginning of the second. The first age begins with Adam and Eve, goes through Noah and his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), zooms in on the line of Shem, and ends with Terah in Genesis 11:24. The second age begins with Terah in verse 27 “This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” The point is this – Terah is the transitional figure between the first and second age and it was Terah, not Abraham, who left Ur of the Chaldeans. He was the first chain breaker. The Bible doesn’t talk about it but I can imagine the struggle he must have faced in leaving Ur. Archaeological evidence tells us that it was a large city. Being near the Persian Gulf, people from everywhere came there for business. Also, Ur was a center for moon worship. There is evidence to this day of a ziggurat dedicated to the god Nanna or Sin. He was the god of the cowherders, cattle breeders, and orchardmen. Basically, he was the god of fertility (keep that in mind), along with his consort or wife, Ningal, the goddess of reeds. Terah had to leave all this behind to follow God to Canaan.

Principle: When you see a successful person, don’t immediately give them all the credit. Look for whose shoulders they’re standing on. Someone had to step out and be the pioneer in their life. This is especially true in the Christian life. Remember Paul telling Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5 that he is filled with joy every time “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”

For e.g. You’ve heard me give my dad’s testimony and how he was the pioneer to follow Christ in his family but this was also true in my mom’s side of the family. It was my grandmother’s dad (my great-grandfather) who practiced medicine back in the late 1800s-early 1900s. I remember my grandmother telling me that he was the first one to follow Christ through the work of some Reformed Presbyterian missionaries from England. He became a lay preacher. He was the pioneer on that side of the family.

Question: Who has been the chain breaker and pioneer in your life? A father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, schoolteacher, Pastor, Sunday School teacher, friend, etc. Give them thanks if they’re still living. It is their sacrifice that brought blessing into your life. Sometimes, there’s no one in the past that you can thank and you have to be your own pioneer. In my early years as a pastor I used to hear, “we used to go to church as a little kid.” Now, it is, “no, our family never went to church…”

Application: Are you the pioneer in your family? It’s not easy to do what you’re doing. No one has set any pattern for you. There’s no one to look up to in your life. You have to step out of the comfort zone. You have to break the chain. You have to choose to follow God. Just like the pioneers in our nation’s history, you have to make the tough sacrifices. But if you’re willing, God will give you more than enough grace to be the pioneer.

  1. The reason for the move.

Why did Terah decide to move out of Ur? We have no indication in the text that God called Terah the same way he called Abraham. Maybe it was because of the losses in his life. First, there’s no mention of his wife, which means she must have died in Ur. Second, verse 28 says, “And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.” We don’t have any details on Haran’s death but you can imagine what effect this must have made on Terah. Maybe this was a catalyst for him to move out of Ur.

Principle: All pioneers have to go through pain to move out of their comfort zone. God doesn’t cause the pain but he uses the pain to bring something good into our lives.

For e.g. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States is one of my favorites. February 14th, 1884 was an awful day for him. He was in the NY state legislature trying to get a bill passed when he was called home. His mother had died due to typhoid fever. Few hours later, his wife of 4 years also died due to some kidney problems. She had just given birth to their daughter. Teddy Roosevelt left everything and went into the badlands for a couple of years and worked as a rancher and a local sheriff. When he returned, he was a different man who made a big impact in America and the world. Teddy Roosevelt came from a Christian home and he knew that God had used his pain to mature him.

Question: Have you been through pain in your life? You can do one of two things. Either you can sit and blame the people or situation that has brought pain into your life or you can ask God to use that pain in your to push you out of your comfort zone.

  1. The warning to the Chain Breaker.

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.

I don’t want to deal too much in speculation, hypothesis, and theory. I like to stick to the facts. But just for a brief moment, I wonder if God called Terah before he called Abraham. Terah obeyed but only partially. He could not move past the ancestral gods. Terah came out of the old country but the old country did not come out of Terah.

What was the result? Listen to what Stephen said in his sermon before the high priest in Acts 7   2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, “Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

While Terah staggered at his call, Abraham continued the journey with God. Unfortunately, he had to wait till Terah died. If I may add, because of his delay, Abraham was stuck with Lot, which was very costly. Also, it delayed the coming of Isaac and caused the birth of Ishmael, which was also very costly.

Principle: If you’re stuck in your ways and your ways are from the Bible, that’s great. But, if you’re stuck in your ways but your ways are not from the Bible, someone else may have to finish your journey.

In order to be a chain breaker:

  • Be willing to leave your comfort zone.
  • Be willing to let God use your pain for your growth.
  • Be careful about hanging on to old gods.
  • Be aware of who will be following you and what your disobedience may cost them.

For e.g. Nicole’s grandfather was a chain breaker on that side of the family.

For e.g. Kid who followed his dad to the bar by placing his little feet in the imprint of his dad’s feet in the snow.

Are you a Terah or an Abraham? Whom are you following? Do you see the significance of your disobedience? Are you still hanging on to the old gods? Are you saved?

DIGGING DEEP 9 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 9 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

The Bible was not written in a vacuum. It was in the context of paganism, idolatry, and demonic worship that the truth of God’s Word came to humanity.

What is religion? “Human organizations primarily engaged in providing general compensators based on supernatural assumptions.” – Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge

They gave 5 dimensions of religiousness: belief, practice, experience, knowledge, and consequences.

Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).

  1. Mesopotamia
  • Began as early as the third millennium
  • All the divine families were under Enlil
  • They had as many as 3000 names, many repeats.
  • Some of the gods included – Anu-An (Father of the gods who was described as a bull); Enlil (son of An and the most prominent; lord of the air and ruler over the earth; In “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld,” when heaven and earth were separated, An chose the heavens and Enlil chose the earth; he created the humans; he also decreed the flood because humans disturbed his sleep); Nanna-Sin (first born of Enlil; moon god; god of Ur and Haran); Marduk (Son of Enki-Ea; god of thunderstorm and Babylon; known as Bel); Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), etc.
  • Images were made out of wood and plated with gold. They also had precious stones and jewels for eyes, which were lit up in nighttime rituals to depict “opening of the eyes.”
  1. Egypt
  • As many as 40 gods and goddesses known, many repeats
  • Several religious centers in Ancient Egypt – Thebes, Hermopolis, Heliopolis, Abydos, and Memphis
  • The gods’ depictions were in the form that would express their special characteristics.
  • They were considered to be responsible for the forces in nature – Ra (sun god); Hathor (heaven); Ma’at and Seth (balance and order vs chaos and death).
  • Afterlife was a key component. It was often depicted by the Ankh.
  • The symbol of continuity and order was the Pharaoh. The king was the official priest.
  1. Canaan
  • Sometimes known as the Amorites and was the most immediate context for the people of Israel.
  • 2 divine pairs: El and Athirat (sovereign king and queen over the world) and Baal and Anat (brother and sister in a state of turmoil and change, struggling for survival and dominance).
  • El was the chief god known as the begetter of the other gods and creator of the world.
  • Baal was the most popular god among the Canaanites. He was a fertility god who provided rains and rode on the clouds. (Psalm 68:4)
  • There were also many minor gods like Dagon (Judges 16:23)
  • The god of the Moabites was Chemosh and the god of the Ammonites was Molech. (Judges 11:24 and 2 Kings 3:26-27)
  1. Greco-Roman
  • Very diverse forms of paganism – Pisidian Antioch (Men – the moon and fertility god); Syrian Antioch (Zeus, Astarte, Tyche, etc); Athens (Athena, Dionysius); Corinth (Aphrodite – goddess of love, Apollo, Asclepius, Demeter, etc); Ephesus (Artemis – her temple was 5 times larger than Athens’ Parthenon, 1000 female servants, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Acts 19); etc.
  • There was also much unity.
  • They considered monotheists to be not much better than atheists.

 

Test Passages:

  1. Joshua 24:1-3, 14-15 

 

  1. Psalm 19

 

  1. Jeremiah 50:1-2

 

  1. Acts 17

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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