Raising Overcomers by Pastor Abidan Shah

RAISING OVERCOMERS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

Raising Overcomers

Introduction: When it comes to raising children, there are photographers and then there are instructors. There’s a big difference between those two. Once a student pilot was waiting for his lesson when suddenly a man jumped in the cockpit and said, “Let’s head towards those mountains to the south and then fly as low as you can over the lake.” The student took off and the man started taking pictures. After a while the student asked, “Do you always take pictures when you give flight lessons?” “Flight lessons? I’m just the photographer for the newspaper.” The student replied, “If you’re not the flight instructor, then you probably can’t tell me why these red lights are flashing, can you?” Today’s message is on raising children who overcome in life. Just like the opening anecdote, some parents are just photographers. They only capture what they encounter in the journey of life. Other parents are instructors. They teach their children how to navigate through the trials in life. Today’s message is titled “RAISING OVERCOMERS.”

Genesis 37   23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit…28 Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and…sold him…And they took Joseph to Egypt. Genesis 50:19-20 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Question: It’s no secret that life is full of trials. Job, the oldest book in the Bible, reminds us in 14:1 “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Even Jesus says in John 16:33 “…In the world you will have tribulation…” The point of this sermon is this – It’s not enough to acknowledge that life will bring trials and tough times. As parents and adults, God has entrusted us to teach our kids to become overcomers. Are you teaching the kids and the young people in your life to become overcomers? Are you an overcomer? By the way, please don’t confuse overcoming with enduring. There’s a big difference between them: Enduring is “I’ve been there and I have a T-shirt to prove it.” Overcoming is “I’ve been there and I have a godly character to prove it.” Meaning: I’m more like Christ having been through trials. Are you saved? Are your kids saved? Before they can be overcomers, they have to be overcome by the gospel. In this message we will see how Jacob the overcomer taught his son Joseph to overcome.

Context: As you know, we’re in our series on the family, looking at the family of Abraham and Sarah through Genesis, looking at their good and bad decisions and the impact their decisions had over the later generations. Now we come to a very prominent figure in this family: Joseph. He was one of the twelve sons of Jacob. His brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. He was dragged off to Egypt where his master Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of trying to rape her. He was unjustly thrown into prison where he helped fellow inmates, but one of them forgot to return the favor. These are just some of the struggles that the Bible tells us. Who knows what else happened to him. All this could have destroyed him. Instead, Joseph overcame all of these trials and in God’s sovereign plan became second in command to Pharaoh. How did he do that? 4 reasons:

  1. He was taught the value of being trustworthy.

Genesis 37:2 “Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.”

At first glance, Joseph sounds like a tattletale. No one likes a tattletale, a snitch. As a teacher, you know how it is when kids run to you and tell on someone. We tell them to mind their business. The difference between a tattletale and a trustworthy person is this: A tattletale wants to make himself look good but a trustworthy person wants to make his superior look good. Jacob knew the difference and he valued the trustworthiness of his son. This is going to be very important one day for Joseph when he would have to work for Potiphar and then for Pharaoh. They knew they could trust Joseph. They could see integrity in his eyes. Teach your kids the value of being trustworthy.

  1. He was loved and affirmed by his father.

Genesis 37:3 “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.”

Again, at first glance, this sounds like favoritism but it’s not. If this were favoritism, the Bible would have condemned Jacob but it doesn’t. Neither does it mean that Joseph was the baby of the family and hence Jacob loved him. If that were true, then Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother, should be the one to get Jacob’s special attention. I believe that “son of his old age” implies a son who brought comfort and joy to his father. Jacob also affirmed Joseph’s character by giving him a special coat. By the way, it was not a “coat of many colors” but in Hebrew it is a “coat that extended to the palms and the feet.” It was a ceremonial coat that implied authority and power. Jacob was affirming that God had great things in store for Joseph. Can you imagine where Joseph would’ve been if all he felt was the hatred of his brothers? An important warning: What I’ve often seen is that parents favor the child who gets into trouble or who fails to do well in life. Nothing is wrong with that. God does that with us when he leaves the 99 and goes after the one lost sheep or throws a party for the prodigal son and not the faithful elder brother. But, it’s just as important to show your love and affirmation to the good child.

  1. He was taught to face rejection in the face of truth.

Genesis 37   4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. What was the dream? They are in the field binding sheaves and his sheaf stood tall and the others bowed down to his. What was their reaction? 8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us?…So they hated him even more for his dreams…

Again, at first glance, it sounds like either Joseph knew how to aggravate his brothers or that he was completely clueless. Why would you share things with your brothers and have them hate you more each time? Unless…this dream was meant to be shared. Unless…God had instructed Joseph to share this dream with his brothers.

Genesis 37   9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers…” This time it was about the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing before him. Even Jacob was aggravated with him at first but then listen to verse 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

I believe that when it says that Jacob “kept the matter in mind” that he prayed for his son – “God, if you are the source of these dreams then let my son stand his ground and never give up.” This would be very important when he had to interpret the dreams of the Chief Butler and the Chief Baker. One dream was good and the other bad. The Bible doesn’t tell us but I feel that Joseph probably did that for others as well and gained the reputation of an uncompromising dream interpreter. If he had been scared to share the truth with his brothers, he would’ve never been brought before someone as powerful as Pharaoh. Teach your children to be willing to face rejection when telling God’s truth.

  1. He was pushed out of the shelter of his home.

Genesis 37   12 Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” So he said to him, “Here I am.”

When we read that passage, we almost want to shout at Jacob – “Are you crazy! Don’t you know your sons! They’ll kill him!” And even if its not your sons, how about the bad people around Shechem! They still remember what your boys did to the entire city. Joseph gets to Shechem but his brothers are not there and he was just wandering in the field. Genesis 37:17 And the man said, “They have departed from here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.

From the Valley of Hebron where Jacob and his family lived to Shechem was 50 miles. Dothan was another 14 miles to the north! Dothan was in a valley that connected the coastal plain to the Valley of Jezreel where Megiddo was. This area was the route leading to the International Highway headed towards Egypt. It’s no surprise that few verses later we read about the Midianite/Ishmaelite caravan passing by. Did Jacob not think about where he was sending his son! Did he not know that there were bad people in the world! Of course he did. About 30 years earlier, Jacob was also living under the shelter of his mother and had to be pushed out. Somehow he knew that Joseph had to grow up. Parents – be careful how much you shelter your children. You might be crippling them. Learn to lovingly but firmly push your children out of the shelter of the home.

I can go on and on but the true test of whether or not Joseph became an overcomer is not how he responded when he was sold into slavery or how he responded when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him or how he responded when the Chief Butler forgot him in prison. The true test is how he responded when he saw his brothers again.

Genesis 45   3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. 4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life….7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Repeatedly, he tells them that it’s not them but God. That’s the mark of a true overcomer. You are more concerned about glorifying God than proving yourself or destroying your enemies.

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. I John 5   4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Are you a photographer or an instructor? Before you can teach your children to be an overcomer, you have to overcome. Through Christ you can.

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Four

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy4Today we are in part 4 of our miniseries KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: So far we laid out the foundations of marriage. Now we are ready to look at adultery. By the way, the word adultery does not come from the English word “adult.” It actually comes from the Latin word “adulterare,” which means to alter or corrupt. It is a combination of “ad” (towards) and “alter” (other). Adultery means going towards the other person. Sometimes “adulterare” also means “to pollute.” Hence, adultery is the pollution or corruption of marriage. With that in mind, listen to verse 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ As you know, this is the 7th of the 10 Commandments that God gave to his people. It comes right after murder and right before stealing. God took the sin of adultery very seriously. How seriously? Listen to Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.” God considered adultery such an evil that it had to be destroyed in order to protect His people.

Now someone may say – “That’s just the Old Testament, the law. The New Testament is all grace under Jesus.” What did Jesus say? Listen to verse 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Meaning: In God’s sight, it’s not just the act but even the thought of adultery is just as bad. As I said before, let me say it again – Trusting Jesus as your Savior does not absolve, exempt, or release you from obeying God’s commandments. In fact, Jesus makes it even harder.

Question: What do you think about the sin of adultery? Is it a big deal to you? Keep in mind – we’re not just talking about the act but also the thought of adultery. By Jesus’s standards, are you innocent or are you guilty of this sin? Without the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit none of us can stand before God’s standards. You cannot have the Holy Spirit unless you are saved. Are you saved?

This morning we’re going to look at the account of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph and try to understand how adultery is subtle and how you can take steps to safeguard your marriage. Married or single, this message is important for all of us.

I. THE SUBTLETY OF ADULTERY 

Genesis 39:1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

Background: You know the account of Joseph’s life. His brothers were jealous of him and instead of killing him, they sold him to the Midianites/Ishmaelites who brought him to the slave market in Egypt, where an officer of Pharaoh, an Egyptian named Potiphar, bought him. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Potiphar bought him. Unlike his brothers who worked in the field, he was probably just a frail lad. Maybe, Potiphar saw his tear stained face. Maybe, he saw his innocence and his helplessness. Maybe even Potiphar’s wife was with him and she saw the far off look in his eyes and she felt sorry for this poor Semitic boy and wanted to help him. What’s next? 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. Joseph was a hard-working, honest young man, who had God’s hand on him. Maybe that’s why Potiphar moved him into his house. How much did he trust him? Listen to verse 6 “…he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Joseph was successful but success always comes with a cost. Any time you begin to rise in influence, power, and blessing, watch out. As long as you were on the ground, you were not a target. Now that you are standing up, you’ve become a target.

What happens next? 6 “…Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph…” Typically, Potiphar’s wife is portrayed as a loose, immoral, and manipulative woman. In my opinion, I don’t think it began that way. That phrase – “And it came to pass after these things” – means that it was not immediately that she went after him but over time something developed. Initially, she probably felt sorry for him – poor kid trying to make a living, far away from home, has nobody. She saw watched how hard he worked and how honest he was and her heart went out to him. Maybe, she must have talked to him about his life back home. Maybe, she must have talked to him about her life and marriage. Day in and day out, she was alone with him and one day “she said, ‘Lie with me.’”

Peter Rutter in his book “Sex in the Forbidden Zone” notes that when two people work together in a setting where there is trust and understanding, they begin to develop a sense of closeness, comfort, and even completeness in each other’s presence. Sex is the ultimate form of intimacy. That’s why in time this growth in intimacy can actually lead to sexual desire. In other words, when you work in a close setting with someone, in time it can lead to something more.

Illustration: Unfortunately, I heard about adultery at a very early age. It was in the late 70s when the hippie movement was going on. Some young people got saved and we’re going from place to place preaching the gospel. When they came to our city, we set them up in a big guesthouse and the families in the church took turns providing lunch and dinner for them. It was awesome. One day I had to take some food to the guesthouse and as I was walking by one of the rooms, something caught my eye that did not look normal even at the age of 6-7. There were several guys in that room but I noticed that one of the ladies from the church was in the room, sitting on the lap of one of those young men. I knew who she was. She was one of my friend’s moms, an active family in the church. Later on it all came out and it was bad. It hurt the family, the church family, the young men, and even the testimony of the church before the community.

Adultery is subtle. There are predators and serial cheaters out there but many times that is not the case. Adultery is the result of working in close context over an extended period of time with someone other than your spouse. As a married person, no one should occupy the place of closeness that belongs to your spouse. As a single person, beware if anyone married is putting you in a place that should be occupied only by his/her spouse. That’s why a married man can never be best friends with a single woman and a married woman cannot be best friends with a single guy.

Application: Who are you close to who is not your spouse? Has the Holy Spirit brought someone to your mind? Are you talking to this person about things that you should only be talking to your spouse about? Are you the target? Are you the tool of the enemy?

II. THE CONVICTION AGAINST ADULTERY 

Gen. 39:8   But he refused and said to his master’s wife,

Background: Joseph did not have to fumble and stammer about why he could not indulge in adultery. He had already worked out his reasons. Meaning: He knew this day was coming and he was prepared. Listen to the 3 reasons that he gave:

  1. It is breaking my master’s trust.

“Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness,

Joseph knew that Potiphar had been good to him and he could not do this to him. We’re living in an age when people do not have a sense of honor and loyalty. They don’t stop to consider what their momentary decision would do to their family.

Illustration: One afternoon there was a knock on our door. It was one of the ladies from the church. She was crying. I’ll never forget the look of emotional pain and betrayal in her eyes. I called my mom and dad and they sat and talked with her. Again, later on it came out that she had caught her husband cheating on her. It was very sad. Again, it affected that family, the church, and the testimony before the world. I’ll never forget the look of pain and shock and betrayal in our eyes.

  1. It is a sin.

“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin…”

Joseph did not call it an affair or a mistake or a one-night stand. He called it sin. We’re living in an age when people call sin by every other name but what it is.

  1. It is against God.

“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Joseph was more concerned about the law of God than the law of the land. He knew that one day he would have to stand before the “judge of all the earth.” Listen to Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Question: What convictions do you have in your life? Do you have to wait to decide where you stand on a temptation? Have you set up some safeguard in your marriage? “I’ve never cheated on my wife/husband” Have you thought about it in your mind? Job said in Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” What covenant have you made with your eyes?

III. THE ESCAPE FROM ADULTERY 

Genesis 39 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Joseph did not stop to pray and discuss and reason. He ran. There is a time to talk and then there is a time to run. For a Christian it is time to run from sin and to the Holy Spirit.

Does that mean that everything works out perfectly? Probably not. Joseph had to go to prison. But listen to verse 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Application: What do you believe about adultery? Do you have biblical convictions? Do you have the Holy Spirit? Do you know Christ as your Savior

SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK

SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Sacrifice The Missing Link

This morning we are in the gospel of Matthew chapter 1 for our series on the life of Christ from all four Gospels. Today’s message is titled “SACRIFICE: THE MISSING LINK.” If there is one thing lacking in our culture today, it is sacrifice. We do what is expected of us and maybe a tad bit more but that’s it. Sadly, this is also true of many Christians. In today’s message we will see from the life of Joseph what true sacrifice looks like.

Matt. 1   18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Overall Background: The passage we just read has been rejected and ridiculed by some people. They ask – “How can a virgin give birth? It is physically impossible. Miracles don’t happen.” Richard Dawkins, a self-proclaimed atheist, said, “The Virgin birth, the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children.” In other words, miracles like the virgin birth are for the naïve and uninformed. A German NT scholar Gerd Lüdemann, who does not believe in miracles, put it in a witty and terse statement: “The tomb was full and the manger empty.”

How do you convince people like them that miracles are possible? The place to begin is by asking, “Do you believe in God?” If you can believe that there is a God who created nature, then you can also believe that nature is subjected to Him. Miracles are simply nature being subjected to its Creator. He can do whatever He wants to. Not only did God perform the miracle of the virgin birth but He is still in the miracle working business. Do you believe that? He is still healing the sick, answering prayers, making the impossible possible, and the greatest miracle of all – changing a sinner’s heart.

According to the Pew Research in 2013, 73% of Americans believe in the Virgin Birth.

But there is another issue in this passage that often gets overlooked – it is sacrifice. In this passage we come across Joseph – an unsuspecting spectator who became part of the greatest drama in history. Like Mary, he too had to sacrifice his reputation, comfort, and goals in life for the coming of Jesus. Sadly, we’re living in a time when people cut corners, do the minimum, play it safe, and bailout early. More sadly, it is even among Christians.

Application: Would you describe yourself as a selfish or as a sacrificial person? Even better, would others describe you? How will people describe you when you’re gone? “He always got his way.” “She always got what she wanted.” If someone compels you to go a mile, do you go two? If someone tried to take away your tunic, do you also let them have your cloak? Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ? Are you willing to lay down your life so that someone else may find Jesus Christ? By the way, have you truly understood the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross? Until you do, your standards of sacrifice will be too low.

This morning as we look at the example of Joseph, let the Holy Spirit challenge you to sacrifice your life for others. If you do not know Jesus Christ, receive His sacrifice for your sins today.

1. HE SHOWED MERCY WHEN HE DIDN’T HAVE TO.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Background: Mary was pregnant and Joseph her fiancé was not the father. This was not good. The penalty for adultery according to the Old Testament was death by stoning but the Romans had abolished all Jewish capital punishments. The worst they could do was divorce, public humiliation, and shunning. Mary would probably never marry again. She could live in the community but as a pariah. Also keep in mind that she was Nazareth, a tiny community of 150-200 people at the time, mostly of priestly lineage, the holier than thou. Do you remember Nathaniel’s remark to Philip – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Even Jesus felt their hate when He came to teach in their synagogue. In Matthew 13 they said, 55 “Is this not the carpenter’s son? (They did not even deem it worthy to use Joseph’s name.) Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Mark 6:6 even adds, “And He (Jesus) marveled because of their unbelief.” Even God was shocked at their hateful and unbelieving spirit.

So you can only imagine what Mary was up against in Nazareth. They would have looked down on her, shunned her, called her names, and Joseph - a just mandone every evil behavior imaginable to her. Joseph could give her a public divorce and cleared his name but he decided to put her away quietly. I can imagine his family and his friends telling him, “Joseph, she isn’t worth it. Why are you staking your reputation over her? People will think – you did it. Make it public. Let her suffer. Let her be an example.”

Application: If you were Joseph, what would you have done? Would you have listened to the crowd? Would you have publicly humiliated Mary? Or, would you have compassion on her? It is natural to look down on others and judge them. The first step to a life of sacrifice is to do what doesn’t come naturally. That’s what God did for us.

2. HE BELIEVED WHEN IT WAS HARD TO.

20 “But while he thought about these things…” What is Joseph thinking? I know I can leave this girl and move on with my life. No one is going to blame me but what will this do to her? How does God want me to handle this? Will He be pleased by my decision?

Application: Do you think about what God wants you to do? Do you think about the decisions you make? Do you think about how your decisions impact the lives of others?

NativityAs he was thinking – 20 “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Now, let me clarify – by Virgin birth, we’re not talking about the Immaculate Conception or the Perpetual Virginity or the Assumption:

  • Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb as a sinless being. This idea was an invention of the medieval church and even the Catholic Church did not recognize it until 1854, when Pope Pius IX declared it. It is not a biblical doctrine.
  • Perpetual Virginity or “aieparthenos” teaches that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus for the rest of her life. This idea has been held by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since the seventh century. It is not a biblical doctrine either.
  • Assumption of Mary teaches that Mary was taken up into heaven before she died. It is also not a biblical doctrine. Neither is the Dormition of Mary that teaches that Mary died and after three days she rose again.

By Virgin birth, we are referring to the virginal conception. It simply means that Mary became pregnant with the baby Jesus without any relationship with any man. It was a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Why did Jesus have to be born of a virgin? To prove that He was sinless, to prove that He was both fully God and fully man, to prove that He came through the Holy Spirit, to be a sign as prophesied by Isaiah. Someone asked me – “Do you have to understand the virgin birth to be saved?” No – the thief didn’t know it. But if someone were to explain it to you as a Christian, you better believe it.

What was Joseph’s reaction? 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, Joseph could have dismissed the dream and gone about his life but he submitted himself to God’s plan. Many times we cannot understand God’s plan. We want to take the easy way out but there’s so much peace in trusting God’s plan. It is a sacrifice that is worth it.

Illustration: Dad refusing to go to the big church in order to take the small church in an obscure part of the country. Why? Because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Application: How would you have responded to that vision? Would have taken God at His Word? Would you have taken the narrow road? There’s so much joy in saying – “not my will but Your’s be done.” The buck stops with the Word of God.

3. HE STAYED WHEN HE COULD HAVE BAILED OUT.

25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Background: We read that verse so quickly without thinking of it. The angel had commanded Joseph in verse 21 And she will bring forth aJoseph naming baby Son, and you (Joseph) shall call His name JESUS (Yahweh is salvation)…” Joseph could have hung out until Mary had the baby and then slipped out. It’s too much. It’s not what I signed up for. He had to stick around and give this baby who was not His own, the birthright of being the first-born.

People like to say – “I’m just not going to promise anything. That way, if I don’t show up, you can’t blame me for it.”

Application: Do you sacrifice for your family, church family, lost, and others?

We can never sacrifice too much. Jesus did that!

Do you know Him? Have you received His sacrifice for your sins?

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 5

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 5 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whose in your family treeThis morning I’m in the last message of our miniseries “WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?” So far we have been studying the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, looking at all those four women who were undeserving but found grace in the sight of God. In this message we will look at the genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. It’s different, unique, and has a powerful message for us, our nation, and our world.

Luke 1 23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli…31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,… 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor…36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech…38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Overall Background: Throughout this week I struggled over whether or not I should preach on this genealogy. I had many reasons for why I should skip over this passage but the Holy Spirit did not allow me to do that. Because, in this genealogy, we understand God’s master plan of redemption for the whole world. The gist of the message is this – We have one problem. We are one family. We received one promise. We have one response. Bottom Line: “Jesus is the focus of history.”

Application: This morning as we go through this message ask yourself this question –Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If you are lost, you need to be saved. If you are saved, are you sharing Jesus with others? He is our only hope.

Let’s look at Luke’s genealogy of Jesus. We will go from the top to the bottom, from Adam to Jesus.

1. WE HAVE ONE PROBLEM.

Listen to Luke 3:38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Background: Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ only goes to Abraham. His purpose was to show the Jewish people that Jesus was indeed the Messiah who was promised to Israel. Luke wrote his gospel to the Gentiles. His purpose was to show that Jesus was indeed the Savior who was promised to the whole world. Hence, his genealogy goes all the way to Adam because the problem began with Adam when he chose to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. God had specifically warned him not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but the temptation got the best of him. Disregarding the commandment of God and disregarding the consequences of sin, Adam did what he wanted to do. As a result, sin came into the world and with sin came death. Listen to Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Now we all belong to the family of sin and death.

Application: Think of all the problems facing us today – marital problems, youth problems, drug abuse problems, alcohol problems, race problems, terrorism problems, war problems, and the list goes on and on and on.

2.  WE ARE ONE FAMILY.

Listen to verse 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

Background: It didn’t take thousands of years for things to go downhill. The effect of sin was immediate. Adam blamed his wife for his sin, right there was the first marital conflict. The next big sin was murder, where Cain killed his brother Abel. From there the ball started rolling and in Genesis 6 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Noah was the only individual who obeyed God and God preserved Him and his family in the Ark. He didn’t have to. He could have destroyed it all but He didn’t. That’s His grace.

After the flood, the world began again with the three sons of Noah and their wives. All of us in this place come from one of those three brothers. I often imagine what the scene was like when those three brothers with their three wives decided to go their separate ways. I can picture them hugging each other for a long time, wiping away their tears, and as they are walking in their separate directions, they stop and look back at each other. Somehow they know that one day their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren will kill one another. How sad!

Application: We can look at what happened in Iraq with the beheading or Russia with sending troops into Ukraine or Ferguson with the riots as their problem. Or, if we truly believe that we are connected, then it’s our problem. In other words, there are problems in the family. We belong to one family – the human family and we have one problem – the sin problem. Sadly, sometimes the lost world seems to understand that principle better than the church. The message to the church today is – “Do you believe that we are one family? If so, what are you doing about it?”

Illustration: At Clearview, we are doing something through Kindle. Last Monday we had kids from the inner-city in our Bible program. In three weeks we will be hosting a community event in the inner-city, with food, music, gospel, and fellowship. Are you involved? You should be.

3.  WE RECEIVED ONE PROMISE.

34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

Background: In Genesis 12 God had called Abraham to leave his father’s house and step out in faith. Listen to verse 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. This was God’s promise of the coming of Jesus Christ. Abraham’s descendants would become the carriers of the Son of God. Abraham trusted God and went out. He was almost 100 years old before he had a child with his wife Sarah, who was 90.

But there was something else that God had promised Abraham. Genesis 12:3 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.”

Illustration: I was reading an article yesterday on what is happening in Gaza. This article was in a Christian magazine and the writer was interviewing people, Christian people, about the destruction because of the bombings in Gaza. And this person said, (I’m paraphrasing) “It’s horrible what Israel is doing and how innocent people are dying. They need to try some other way like sit down and talk.” As I read that article, I remembered visiting this one family and the younger child kept beating on the older brother. When the older brother decided to defend himself, his parents got on to him and said to him, “He is smaller than you and you are bigger than him. He doesn’t know any better. You know better.” Isn’t that how it always goes? We expect the older to be understanding and patient and the younger can do whatever he wants to do. Here’s the problem with that logic: It’s unfair. Once that child is done beating on his older brother, he will go after the outsiders. Israel has the right to defend itself. Those same terrorists who are shooting rockets on Israel will one day shoot rockets on us.

But there’s more in Genesis 12, it’s un-biblical for people to mistreat God’s people. Jesus Himself said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

Application: As a nation we are to stand with Israel, not only as a member of the free world but also as God’s people. Now someone might say – “Is God against the Arab people?” Absolutely not! God is for all people because we are connected. That is the point of Luke’s genealogy.

4.  WE HAVE ONE RESPONSE.

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

Background: If you remember, Matthew’s genealogy mentions Solomon as the son of David. But in Luke’s genealogy, Nathan is mentioned as the son of David. Some people have pointed to this as a problem in the Bible. They’ve said that either Matthew made a mistake or Luke made a mistake. Nothing can be further from the truth. The Bible is the word of God without any errors. So what is going on here?

Even though Solomon was the rightful heir to the throne of David, he lived in a way that was displeasing to God. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He trusted more in His wealth and power and pleasure than in God. I Kings 11 4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. In verse 9 So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel…11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. The Kings that followed Solomon were just as wicked. One of his descendant, Jeconiah, even had a curse pronounced on him.

Nathan, on the other hand, was Solomon’s older brother through Bathsheba. Just like his namesake Nathan the prophet, he represented a godly line. Listen to the prophecy of the prophet Zechariah during the Babylonian exile – Zechariah 12   10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.

What happened to the house of Solomon by itself and their wives by themselves? Too many wives! Solomon led his descendants in the wrong direction. Even though on paper his descendants are listed and Matthew uses it, Luke chooses to use the descendants of Nathan. By the way, both Matthew’s genealogy and Luke’s genealogy go to Joseph not Mary. I know some people try to claim that Luke is giving Jesus’s genealogy through Mary but the Bible never says that. Both Matthew’s genealogy and Luke’s genealogy are through Joseph. That’s what the text says. Matthew is through Joseph’s mom’s side and Luke is through Joseph’s dad’s side. Joseph was a royalty through and through but Jesus was not His son. In other words, Jesus was not Joseph’s problem. Now, Joseph had a choice to make. Is he going to listen to what the crowd is saying or is he going to listen to the angel?

23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli…

By faith, Joseph accepted Mary’s son Jesus as his own and lent him his lineage.

So also you, by faith, have to decide what you will do with Jesus.

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whose in your family treeWe’re in our ongoing series on the life of Christ titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” For the next few weeks I will be preaching a miniseries from Matthew chapter 1, titled, “WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?” All of us would like to think that we have some royalty or famous personality in our family tree when what we find are just some common people and some crazy ones! Someone said – “I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts fell out!” This morning we will see the family tree of Jesus and it had some nuts in it too. The lesson there is that God’s grace can cover you no matter who you have in your past.

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 began his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t unusual in ancient times to begin the biography of a famous character with their genealogy. It was a matter of pride to list all the great individuals in one’s pedigree.

For e.g. Some years back I was reading the account of the life of General Robert E. Lee. His family tree could be traced all the way back to the Norman Conquest when his ancestor entered England in 1066 AD with William the Conqueror. His great-great-great-grandfather Richard Lee came to Jamestown with hardly anything and in time became one of the richest men in the Virginia colony. Later his father Henry Lee fought in the Revolutionary War and became the ninth governor of Virginia. Some of the family included William Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, and Zachary Taylor.

So also, Matthew mentioned the “illustrious” names such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the patriarchs. He mentioned David – the greatest King of Israel and the man after God’s own heart. He mentioned Solomon – the king of Israel and the wisest man who ever lived. But, he did something that no genealogy does. He also mentioned some “not so illustrious” names. In fact, he mentioned the names of four women, which was very unusual. Not only that, but Matthew chose to mention women who were not exemplary characters like Sarah or Rebecca or Rachel. Instead, he mentioned Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba – women who had an embarrassing past. Past that we would rather leave buried in history.

Why did Matthew do that? Some of you may have been through this series before. 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 in Jesus’ lineage.

Application: This morning, I’m sure there are people here who wish or have wished at some point that they had a different family or that they were born under different circumstances. Or you look at your past and wish it were different. But God in His sovereign grace has given you the life He has. Stop seeing yourself as a mistake. He allowed your family tree to grow as it did. Trust Him.

In this message we will look at the life of the first woman who is mentioned – Tamar. As we walk through her life, let God show you the same grace that she received.

1. INNOCENT BYSTANDER

Background: The first time we meet Tamar is in Genesis 38 where she is just an innocent bystander. Actually, the focus is not on Tamar but on the family of Jacob. If you remember, in Genesis 37, Jacob had sent his son Joseph to check on his older brothers. When he finally found them in Dothan, he wasn’t prepared for what was about to come. His brothers hated him and when he was far off, they conspired to kill him. But the older brother Reuben talked them out of it to just throw him into a pit. He was hoping that he could later get him out and take him back home.

Reuben probably left to check on the sheep or something and just then the brothers saw a company of Ishmaelite traders coming and one of the brothers named Judah (remember that name) said in Genesis 37:26-28 26 …“What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened.

Judah did not have the guts to stand up and say – “This is not right. Let’s not do this to him. He’s our brother. Our father has sent him to us.” Instead, he decided to do play on words. At least we’re not going to kill him.

Application: Be careful about doing play on words. God knows the heart. We cannot fool Him. He knows when we have sin in our hearts.

So in Genesis 37:28 “…Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.”

Now Reuben comes and looks in the pit and its empty. He is distraught. What’s their plan? They take a young goat and kill it and dip Joseph’s tunic in its blood and take it to their father Jacob. He is heart-broken and says – “I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.”

But look in the next chapter Genesis 38:1-2 It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. 2 And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her and went in to her.

Judah is thinking – “Out of sight, out of mind. As long as I don’t have to see my father’s face, I don’t have to think of Joseph”

Application: People do all kinds of things to get away from sin. The only place to deal with sin is to get on your face before God and say – “Here I am. Deal with me as you see fit.” He will bring out the knife and scalpel. It will hurt but the result will be healing. If you run from it, it will only fester.

And fester it did – Genesis 38:3-7 3 So she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called his name Shelah. He was at Chezib when she bore him. 6 Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.

The fruit doesn’t fall far from the root. Judah – “You killed somebody’s child. Now, you know what it means to loose your child.”

Application: How can we teach our children to do what’s right when there is deception in our own hearts.

 What is even sadder is that Tamar became the innocent bystander who got hurt in this sin.

2. ACTIVE SINNER

Now Tamar’s first husband is dead and so according to the laws of the Levirate marriage, Judah told his next son Onan to marry Tamar. But Onan refused to father a child by Tamar and Genesis 38:10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.

As we read this account, we feel for Tamar. One after the other she has sorrow in her life because of someone else’s sin.

How does Judah handle this? Genesis 38:11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house till my son Shelah is grown.” For he said, “Lest he also die like his brothers.” And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

But Judah has no intention of letting Tamar marry his third son.

What a mess! As Walter Scott wrote in his poem Marmion: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”

How does Tamar handle this? Genesis 38:13-15   13 And it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to TimnahTamar to shear his sheep.” 14 So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.

Now it’s payback time.

Application: Tit for tat never works. You can spend all your life planning on paying back someone for what they’ve done to you but revenge will not satisfy.

Now Tamar has gone from an innocent bystander to being an active sinner.

3. GRACE RECIPIENT

Background: Tamar makes a deal with Judah for a young goat from the flock. Of course, he doesn’t have the goat with him so as collateral she asks for his signet ring, cord, and his staff. Later when Judah sent the goat, no harlot was found obviously.

Now listen to Judah’s plan. Still the same old weasel – Genesis 38:23 Then Judah said, “Let her take them for herself, lest we be shamed; for I sent this young goat and you have not found her.” Now 3 months later, it was obvious that Tamar was pregnant.

So listen to Judah’s indignation – Genesis 38:24 “…So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

Quite amazing to me how soft we are at our own sins and harsh at the sins of others.

For e.g. People blocking each other in traffic on the closed lane.

But when she confronts Judah with his signet, cord, and staff, it is obvious who the father was. Listen to Judah’s response in Genesis 38:26 “So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.”

Now we could end this incident here with a few reminders on “what goes around comes around” and “what you reap is what you sow” but the incident is still not over.

Tamar was pregnant with twins. She goes into labor and one of them appears to be the first and so the midwife ties a scarlet thread on his hand but listen to what happens next. Genesis 38:29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez.

Perez became part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. As Matthew 19:30 says “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

It’s a message of grace.

Application: You can either blame your past for all the mess you are in or you can let God bring His grace to bear upon you and bless you in spite of what you had to go through. It doesn’t matter what skeletons you have in your past, God is able to use you if you let Him. The place to begin is by receiving Jesus as your Savior.

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