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?

WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT?

WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Listen to this sermon on iTunes or on the Clearview website.

What Is Life All About-This morning we are in the second message in our brand new series on the life of Christ titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” So many of you have shared with me how much you enjoyed the first message! Thank You! Today’s message is on John 1:1-5 called, “WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT?” Ever wondered that? Who are we? Where did we come from? What are we doing here? Where are we going? These 5 verses hold the answer to all those questions.

John 1:1-5   1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Overall Background: When someone gets saved or they are a new believer, which book do we suggest they read? The Gospel of John. Why? Because it is simple to understand; it is basic; it is clear. Although that’s true, it’s not the whole truth. This book is also very deep, just like the verses we just read. A.W. Tozer said, “John is so clear that you can see through it but it’s so deep that you cannot see clear through it.” Someone else said, “John’s gospel is like a pool in which a child can wade safely but an elephant can drown.” John is both simple and profound. How is that? Most scholars agree that John was the last one to write his gospel. More than likely, all the other disciples are gone. He is much older when the Holy Spirit inspires him to write his account of Jesus. Unlike the others, John has the benefit of hindsight. He’s able to look back at the same incidents but with some very mature eyes.

For e.g. Have you ever talked to an elderly person – grandfather, grandmother, or an elderly parent. They seem to talk in very simple words, almost like a child, but if you listen carefully, they’re full of great wisdom.

So also John, the words on the surface are simple but the wisdom below is very profound. In his preamble to his gospel, John is not telling us just the life of Jesus but he is telling us that Jesus is life.

Application: This morning – how is your life? Does your life seem empty? Does it seem meaningless? Are you afraid of what is waiting around the corner? Listen to the Holy Spirit. If you do not have Jesus in your life, this is the day.

3 important points about life we will see in these 5 verses:

I. THE DESIGN OF LIFE – Who Came Up With Life?

Listen to the first 3 words of John 1:1 In the beginning…”

Background: Why did John begin his gospel with those words? He is taking us back to Genesis 1:1“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He starts with “In the beginning” to remind us that we had a beginning. We had a starting point. We are not infinite. We are finite. We are not the Masters of the Universe. We are simply the creation.

Every morning in my devotion time, I tell God, “You are the God who made the heavens and the earth. I’m nothing but dust and ashes. I am just a very small particle of your creation. Every breath is a gift from you. So I thank you and humbly submit myself to you!” Whew! What a weight of my shoulder! Most of us are trying to play god in our own lives or in the lives of others. Maybe it’s time to vacate that throne and let God be God.

But John has something more in mind. Listen again to vs. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”We know that John is referring to Jesus but why did he use the word “Word” to describe Him? The Greek word for “Word” is “logos.” This is the same word from which we get our word logic and other combination words like – Theology, Biology, Zoology, Planet Earth 2Geology, etc.To understand what John is talking about we have to go back to Genesis 1 and locate this “logos.” 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Now listen carefully 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night…6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…8 And God called the firmament Heaven… Every time you read “God said” or “God called,” it’s Jesus.

But there’s more. Listen to verse 2 He was in the beginning with God. Didn’t he just say that? John is actually taking us past the curtain of time into eternity. He is taking us into the council chamber of God. Before God decided to create the heavens and the earth, a council was held between the Father, Son, and Spirit. In this council every detail was laid out as to what would happen. I Peter 1:20says, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” Ephesians 1:4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Again, Revelation 13:8 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Why does John bring this up? Jesus was definitely the Promised Messiah, the Perfect Lamb of God, the Crucified Savior, the Resurrected Christ, and the Coming King. All that is true but there’s something even greater about Him – He was on the planning committee for all of it. He designed life itself. He was not just playing a part but He was also the conductor. Jesus is so much greater than you think.

Some people are overwhelmed with life and frustrated with life and given up on life. I’m here to tell you that when you have Jesus, you have the Designer of Life. John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,” I don’t know about you but my friend designed this world and life itself. He will take care of me.

For e.g. In India trains are everything. Millions of people travel by train every day. You have to get reservations months or weeks in advance. You can get a ticket but to have a reservation is different. One time I was travelling by train with my dad. My dad told me this train is packed, we need to be in the first class but we don’t have a reservation. People try that and they get arrested. Here we’re sitting in first class with our entire luggage and I’m thinking, we’re going to jail. Amazingly, my dad was not that worried. When my dad was in his heyday of ministry, he would travel everywhere by train for revivals and crusades. The conductor started coming and all I could think was – “We’re getting ready to do time!” When he saw my dad, a big smile came on his face – “Sir, I didn’t know you were on this train. What an honor!” My dad whispered to him our predicament and he said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of that. My dad said to me – “He was my student in school. If I hadn’t helped him, he would have never passed math. I saw his name on the board.” All I could think was “Thank goodness you didn’t fail him!”

Application: Do you know the Designer of life? As the song goes – “He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands. He’s got you and me brother in His hands.” What is eating your joy this morning? If you know Jesus, you have the conductor for a best friend.

II. THE SOURCE OF LIFE – Who has Blessed us with Every Good thing? 

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Background: John is not done with this. Jesus is not only the designer but He’s also the creator of everything. Go back to Genesis 1 again verse 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light…6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear…11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass…14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens…20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth…26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…

Bottom Line: Jesus made it all. His hand print is on every single thing. As the old hymn goes: “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.”

The Atheist can go around saying – “Nothing times Nobody equals Everything.” I say to that what Adrian Rogers said – “You have room to rent upstairs, unfurnished.”

But now there’s something more in verse 4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

ViolinWhat is John talking about? Some people have taken that metaphor of life and applied it to the light of salvation. Although that’s true and we will see that a little later in John, but here it is referring to the light of God that is in every human being. Unlike animals, we were created in the image of God. Hence we have the ability to love, reason, and create. Aristotle did not believe in the Living God but he wrote powerful works on Philosophy, Logic, and Rhetoric. Edgar Allan Poe claimed that “all religion … is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.” But he was a tremendous writer. That’s why you can turn on the radio and hear some beautiful lyrics and songs on the radio.

Who is the source of all this creativity, talent, and imagination? It is Jesus.

Sadly, what human beings have done is taken the light of God and instead of shining it back on Him, they have turned the spotlight back on themselves. They claim, “I am a self made man. No one’s ever helped me.” Are you sure about that?

Application: Do you give Jesus the glory for what He has done for you? Do you give Him the thanks for how much He has blessed you? Where is Jesus in your life?

III. GOOD NEWS OF LIFE – Who is winning in this life?

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Background: Now we hear about a new concept – “darkness.” John does not go into detail. It is assumed that the listener knows that darkness has corrupted everything. It has torn the original design. Human beings have used God’s light to their own wicked imaginations. But John does not waste time discussing the darkness. He says, “the light has already come and it is shining brightly.

What’s more? The translation says – and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Actually the translation should be “overtake it.”As I John 2:8 says, “A new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

Every week someone asks me – “Do you think the world is coming to an end?” or “Isn’t it getting worse and worse?” I’m here to tell you – “The Light is winning. Jesus is winning.” Isaac Watts wrote his famous hymn – Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does its successive journeys run; his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.” Meaning: Your darkness may run out but His light will keep shining brighter and brighter.

Do you know Him? Jesus is Life.

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