Parents Behaving Badly by Pastor Abidan Shah

PARENTS BEHAVING BADLY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Parents Behaving Badly

Introduction: I don’t know how your kids are but our kids love to hear stories about Nicole and I growing up. They love hearing about how mommy loved climbing trees and walking on top of the swing set instead of swinging on it. They love hearing stories of how dad tried joining the circus at five and ended up with a broken collarbone. Last week they were up laughing until midnight as we told them those stories from our childhood. I guess the thought of their parents acting crazy or getting in trouble brings comfort and joy to them! But what if those stories were still happening? What if Nicole was still walking on top of swings and I was still breaking collarbones trying to join the circus? That would not be funny anymore but embarrassing and painful, especially for the kids. Today’s message on the family is what to do about “PARENTS BEHAVING BADLY.”

Genesis 38   12   Now in the process of time…Judah’s wife, died…and (he) went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah…13 And it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil…and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah…15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. 16 Then he turned to her by the way…

Question: God has appointed parents to lead their children, to be a model for them. He has designed them to be emotionally more mature than their kids. He has called them to be the standard of morality and integrity for them. He has entrusted parents to be the spiritual guides for their children. Unfortunately, some parents are emotionally unstable, morally objectionable, and spiritually incapable. Sometimes they make decisions and do things that are embarrassing and distressing for the children. It reverses God’s hierarchy and design for the family. How are your parents? Do you look up to them or do you shake your head at them? Do you admire them or are you ashamed of them? Some of you may not need this message but others know very well what I am talking about and it is very painful for you. Do your parents know Christ as their Savior? Do you? This message will help you relate with parents behaving badly.

Context of the Message: In our series on the family of Abraham and Sarah from the Book of Genesis, we now come to the fourth generation, to Judah, one of the sons of Jacob. He did something unthinkable. He had sexual relations with his own daughter-in-law who tricked him by dressing up as a prostitute. What in the world is going on! First, why would a daughter-in-law trick her father-in-law in such a horrible way? Second, why would a grown man, coming from a family that loves God, go to a prostitute? To understand this, we have to back up to the opening verses of Genesis 38:1 “It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers…” If you’ve been keeping up with this series, we skipped over chapter 37 that gives us the account of Joseph and his brothers, how Joseph had his dreams and his brothers hated him for that and one day when they had the opportunity, they sold him into slavery. Who was the brother who suggested this? It was Judah. He probably did that to save his brother’s life. The other brothers were bent on killing Joseph. Selling him into slavery seemed to be a much better alternative. At least, Joseph would still be alive. But, can you imagine the guilt and the shame Judah had to live with? He could still hear the shrieks and the cries of Joseph as he was being dragged away by the Midianite traders. The first thought when he woke up and the last thought when he lay down to sleep was “I wonder if he’s still alive…” Every day he had to see the tear-stained face of his father Jacob and every time he was tempted to just confess to him, one of the brothers would shake his head at Judah – “You better not…” Judah was probably angry, depressed, and miserable. He did not want to see their faces anymore and instead of confessing, he packed up and moved away.

Principle: Judah moved away because he thought that a change in location was going to change everything. Out of sight, out of mind. People do that all the time and they fail to realize that they are still the common ingredients in all their problems. Unconfessed sin always brings only unending sorrow. Listen to David’s prayer of confession in Psalm 32   3 “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Secret guilt will only lead to ceaseless grief, regardless of your location. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Now, it happens with some that, though they are conscious of sin, they do not confess it; and what is the result? Why, it increases their misery. It is impossible that you should find peace while sin continues to gather in your soul. It is a festering wound…So long as a man continues silent before God, and does not own his sin, if the Lord really has begun to deal with him, he will have to suffer more and more from the pangs of conscience.”

Judah married a Canaanite girl in this new place. There is no love mentioned in this relationship. He met her, married her, had sexual relationship with her, and they had 3 children – Er, Onan, and Shelah. Just like his marriage, nothing is mentioned about his relationship with his children. In verse 6 he arranged a marriage for Er, his oldest one, with a girl named Tamar. Bottom line: Judah was living a ho-hum life…until his actions from his previous life began to catch up with his present life. Listen to verse 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.” The Bible doesn’t say what he did but it must have been serious enough for God to kill him, something he hasn’t done since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Nothing is said about how Judah felt about this. All it says is that he ordered his second son Onan to marry Tamar and have a child with her according to levirate marriage, where the brother-in-law marries the widow of his brother to keep the family name going (Levir in Latin means “brother-in-law). Onan married Tamar but secretly deceived her and refused to have a child with her. Listen to verse 10 “And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.” Wow! Why that serious? More than likely Onan didn’t want to give his brother any children. If he did, then he would lose his default inheritance. What he didn’t realize is that he was interfering with God’s plan of using the family of Abraham and Sarah to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. He was interfering with the gospel. I seriously doubt that in his guilt and shame Judah ever took the time to explain to his children the promise God had made to their family.

Question: How often do you talk to your children about the things of God? How often do you explain to them that the reason for your success is God’s hand upon you? How often do you challenge and encourage them to keep God first in their lives? Something else here – God was teaching Judah, “You took someone’s child. Now you’ll know what it means to lose a child.” Only sad part is that Tamar, the innocent bystander, was also suffering because of Judah’s sin from his previous life. Are your decisions bringing pain to some innocent person in your life?

Unfortunately, Judah did not learn his lesson. He continued his life of deception. He refused to let his third son Shelah marry Tamar for fear that he too might die. So he lied to Tamar and told her that once Shelah was older, he would marry her. Until then, she should go back to her parent’s house. He was thinking that with time she would forget or remarry someone back home and it’ll all be over. In the meantime, Judah’s wife also died. After grieving for her, he decided to go to Timnah at the sheep-shearing time. Tamar heard about it and embarked on a cruel scheme. We read this passage. She disguised herself as a prostitute, covered her face with a veil, and sat seductively at Enaim (lit. at the “opening of the eyes,” which could be the crossroads). Apparently, she knew her father-in-law very well. Sure enough he came by, saw her but didn’t recognize her. He made a proposition to her and she agreed for a young goat. As guarantee, he left his seal, cord, and staff with her. Here’s my question: What business did Judah have to go to a prostitute? He probably felt entitled to some good time. You can hear him say, “People don’t understand what I’ve been through. I just don’t care anymore. I’m not hurting anyone…”

Question: Do you use the same lines to indulge in sin? Do you feel entitled to sin because of all that you’ve been through? No matter what you’ve been through or what anyone has done to you, you are never entitled to sin.

Anyways, things are about to get complicated. Judah sent the young goat as he had promised but there was no prostitute. Judah didn’t care. “Let her keep it,” he said. But 3 months later, word got back to Judah that Tamar, his daughter-in-law, was pregnant. The cause was prostitution. Listen to his response: “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

Principle: Show me a person who is very legalistic and harsh about some sin and I’ll show you a person who is hiding a bigger similar dirty secret. The penalty for adultery later, according to the Mosaic Law, was death by stoning not burning. Reminds you of David when he stole Uriah’s wife and had him killed, doesn’t it? Don’t misunderstand, Moses, Jesus, and Paul were all hard against sin but it was always with a broken heart.

You know what happened next: Tamar sent word to her father-in-law that the man was the owner of the signet, the cord, and the staff. Judah immediately knew his guilt. He confessed. Long story short – Tamar had twins and the oldest one (Perez) became part of the genealogy of Christ. Matthew included this fact in his gospel to let people know that Mary was not the first one looked down upon in the birth of the Messiah. In other words, God worked all things together for good once again in his people’s life.

It is truly a sad sight when adults, especially parents behave badly. Here are some suggestions on what to do in those situations:

  • Know that they are just fallen human beings like yourself
  • Don’t put them on a pedestal nor fail to show them grace
  • Obey their godly teachings without following their ungodly examples
  • Remember that you are not to be blamed for your parents’ choices
  • Pray for them, especially if they do not know Christ

I Corinthians 6   9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

  • Trust that God will work all things together for good

Most importantly, be Christ-like and Christ-filled.

GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S TIMING

GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S TIMING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

GOD'S WAY AND GOD'S TIMINGThis morning I’m preaching a message titled, “GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S TIMING” in our ongoing series on the life of Christ from all four gospels. Trials are part of life. That’s a given. How you handle trials depends on how you see God in your trials. Many people don’t wait upon God or his timing. They do whatever they want to do. Instead of waiting for supernatural solution, they find natural solutions to fix their problems. The prophecy of the Virgin birth or virginal conception was given to remind us that God’s way and God’s timing are always perfect.

Isaiah 7 10 Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!” 13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”

Overall Background: The Book of Isaiah is often referred to as the fifth gospel. The Latin father Jerome (A.D. 342-420) said that Isaiah “should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet because he describes all the mysteries of Christ and the Church so clearly that you would think he is composing a history of what has already happened rather than prophesying about what is to come.” That is true. Isaiah gave the prophecy that a virgin will give birth to a child and he would be called Emmanuel. It was given at a time when God’s people were facing invasion from every direction – from the South, Edom was attacking; from the West, Philistia was attacking; and from the north and northeast, Ephraim and Syria were building a coalition against Judah. God was aware of all this and He sent Isaiah to King Ahaz to remind him that everything will be okay. God will take care of His people. Instead of trusting God’s way and God’s timing, Ahaz decided to do it his way. He decided to call upon the king of Assyria to come to his rescue. It was as one commentator said – “taking a tiger by the tail.” Assyria came and captured Syria, destroyed Ephraim/Samaria, sent the Northern tribe into exile, never to return, and almost wiped out the Southern kingdom of Judah. Only by the grace of God, they survived but for a short while longer.

Does all this sound familiar? Isn’t this how we do it? We face a crisis. God tells us to choose His way and to wait on His timing but we refuse to trust him and do it our way and the consequences are devastating. We make a total mess for ourselves and for those who are dependent on us. But God in his grace and goodness still works is greater plan for our lives. The prophecy of the virgin birth was given as a promise that even though everything will be destroyed that one day God will redeem his people.

This morning some of you are facing a crisis or facing the consequences of not trusting God in your crisis. Look to God. Wait upon him. Trust his way and his timing. Even if you’ve messed up, don’t lose hope. God has a plan. You may have to face some consequences of your decisions but God can still work his greater plan for your life.

So let’s walk through Isaiah 7 and understand God’s way and God’s timing.

1. A BIG PROBLEM – WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?

1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it.

Background: The historical account we just read took place around 734 BC. The people of Israel were divided into the northern kingdomSyro-Ephraimite Invasion and the southern kingdom. The northern kingdom were the 10 tribes in the northern part of Israel, led by the tribe of Ephraim and the southern kingdom were the two tribes in the southern part of Israel (Judah and Benjamin) led by the tribe of Judah. It all began after Solomon died and the tribes to the north chose their own king against the tribe of Judah in the South. The Northern Kingdom became known as Israel and the southern kingdom became known as Judah.

Let’s read again verse 1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it.

What a sad sight! Pekah, King of Israel, had made an alliance with Rezin, king of Syria, to fight against Ahaz, king of Judah. Both Pekah and Ahaz were sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but Pekah had turned to their enemies in the north to fight against their brothers in the South.

It is shameful, disgraceful, and sinful when God’s people fight against their own brothers and sisters. Church conflicts break the heart of God. Church conflicts stifle the work of God. Church conflicts give the enemy a stronghold among the people of God.

The first invasion was not successful and in verse 2 And it was told to the house of David, saying, “Syria’s forces are deployed in Ephraim.” So his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.

What a powerful imagery! Have you ever seen trees blowing in the wind during a storm? They bend and sway and even break. They are unpredictable. The people of Judah along with their King were in a great crisis.

Jeremiah 17 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Application: How do you respond to crisis in your life? Is your hope in the Lord? Are you planted in him?

2. A WISE PLEA – DON’T WORRY. GOD HAS THIS.

3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son…” Why did God say take your son? Shear-jashub means “a remnant will return.” Children are a sign of hope. They are a reminder that life will go on. We have a lot of children at Clearview. It’s not accidental. It is intentional. They are not in the way. They are the way. When we start caring for our children in our church and in our nation, then we have hope for the future.

“…at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field,

Why is the King hanging out at the aqueduct? He is concerned about the water supply in Jerusalem. He wants to make sure that if there is a siege that his people have water to survive. He is taking every precaution possible to be ready for the coming invasion. Nothing wrong with that.

4 and say to him: “Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah.

What a wonderful word of comfort from God! What a powerful imagery! In other words – they are blowing smoke. Don’t worry about them. Instead, be careful and stay calm.

Some of you need to hear that – be careful and stay calm. Don’t start scheming. Don’t start screaming. Just stand back and watch the salvation of the Lord. Just like God told their forefathers when they left Egypt and came to the Red SeaExodus 14 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

Just like Jesus with his disciples during the storm – Mark 4 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39   Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Then it goes on in verse 5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel” (There’s a play on words here. Tabiel means “my God is good” but Tabeel means “good for nothing.”) 7 thus says the Lord GOD: “It shall not stand, Nor shall it come to pass… (In 65 years Ephraim ceased to exist.) 9 “…If you will not believe, Surely you shall not be established.” ’ ”

Application: Are you in need of encouragement today? God’s word to you is – be careful and stay calm. You’ll be okay. Are you willing to see the salvation of the Lord?

3. A FOOLISH PRESUMPTION – NAH, I GOT THIS.

10   Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”

Background: Now God does not like people who test Him but here the situation was different. God was asking Ahaz to ask Him for a sign. But Ahaz was trying to sound spiritual but he really wasn’t. More than likely, he had already sent off his envoy/ambassadors to King Pul.

These are the type of people when you tell them that you’ll be praying for them. They say – “Uh huh nothing wrong with praying.” They want to do it their way. They write off God’s way as being naive.

Application: Are you a superficial Christian? Are you one of those who already have their minds made up? Are you the type who looks at Christians as being naïve and stupid?

4. A MUCH GREATER PROMISE – NO YOU DON’T HAVE THIS; BUT I WILL DO WHAT I HAVE TO DO TO HELP YOU.

Is. 7:13   Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Background: The Bible does not give much information to us on who the virgin was that Isaiah was referring to. She could have been a young woman, probably in Ahaz’s palace/harem, who was pregnant at the time.

Tiglath-pileser III15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.” 18 And it shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will whistle for the fly That is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

Meaning: When the prophecy of the virgin birth was first given, it was a promise of judgment. But in God’s divine plan, there is mercy in judgment. There was an underlying promise that another virgin will conceive of the Holy Spirit and give birth. His name shall be called Jesus because Matthew 1 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.”

God always has a plan, a much greater plan. Even when we disobey and go our own way, He still brings the message of salvation to us. He brings Jesus to us. Do you know Him?

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? -3

WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whose in your family treeFor the past two Sundays we met 2 “unusual characters” in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, women who had a questionable past. This morning, we meet the third woman who was at the rock bottom in every way but she too found grace in the sight of God and was grafted into the family tree of Jesus. The message – God has always been a God of grace, not just towards His chosen people but also to all people.

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: Four women, four questionable lives but one family tree, that of Jesus Christ. Why did Matthew do that? Why did he insert the names of women who had an embarrassing and questionable past? He wanted us to know that God is a God of grace. He is a God who loves to forgive and reconcile and restore and bless all who are willing to come to Him. He is the God of all peoples. He doesn’t play favorites but He loves to show His favor to any who want it!

So far we met Tamar – a Canaanite widow who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her. She had twins and one of them became the ancestor of Jesus. Then we met Rahab – a Canaanite prostitute who helped God’s people and after Jericho was destroyed, she also became part of the lineage of Jesus. In fact, she became the princess of Judah. Now we meet the third woman – Ruth, a woman who was at rock bottom and nadir of life in every way but she also found grace in the eyes of God.

Application: This morning, you may feel that you are at that rock bottom place in your life. I’m here to tell you that God is with you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t abandoned you. In fact, He wants to bless you. Look to Him in complete faith and give it all to Him. He will not fail you. If you don’t know Jesus, then you are not just at a rock bottom place but you are headed to a bottomless pit. You need to be saved today.

3 things we will understand about Ruth:

 1. RUTH – ROCK BOTTOM GENEALOGICALLY

Ruth 1:1a   Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.

Background: The time of the judges was a very difficult time in the life of the people of Israel. There was no king, there was no leader and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. So you can imagine the lawlessness, crime, and moral chaos all over the land. On top of that – there was a famine in the land.

Ruth 1:1b And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. Here we meet a family living 5 miles southwest of Jerusalem in the city of Bethlehem. Ironically, Bethlehem is literally “the place of food/bread” but it had no food. So the man (Elimelech) took his wife (Naomi) and their two sons and went 50 miles Southeast into Moabite country. This was no ordinary decision – moving to Moab was probably the last desperate resort of an Israelite.

Who were the Moabites? We meet them in Genesis 19. You remember how God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because ofRuth Moab and Judah Abraham’s intervention, Lot and his wife and two daughters were allowed to escape Sodom. Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his two daughters fled into the mountains where they had no prospect of finding any husbands. So they came up with a wicked scheme to get Lot drunk and have an incestuous relationship with him. The older one had a child and his name was Moab. This was the genesis of the Moabites. How tragic and embarassing!

For e.g. Many years ago I was talking to this young man who had been through prison and had a long record. He had couple of kids that he hadn’t seen in years. Then, he was looking for a job but he couldn’t get one because of his record. So one day I sat with him and very piously I began to tell him all things that he needed to straighten out in his life. Little did I expect what I was about to hear – He began by telling me that he wasn’t sure who his dad was. I said to him – “There are a lot of people who don’t know who their dad was but they made it anyways.” Then he said to me – “I’ve heard through family that it was my own grandfather who raped my mom. You know how that makes me feel. Why did God allow that?”

Folks – We live in a messed up world. Things like this are the product of sin in this world. God allowed it because of the free will of human beings.

So you can imagine how the Moabites felt about themselves. But, there’s more – the Moabites hated the people of Israel. Probably because Uncle Abraham’s descendants knew the real story of Lot’s descendants. When the people of Israel were in the wilderness, the Moabites refused to help them and actively tried to harass them. Several times they had invaded Israel. So what did God say about this? Deuteronomy 23:3, 6      3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever…6 You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever.

Ruth 1:4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth.

Ruth’s family tree began with incest. Ruth’s ancestors hated the people of God. Ruth and her people were forbidden to come into the assembly of God.

Application: You cannot choose your past. Some of you born into situations that was out of your control. You can either waste your time looking back or you can like Paul say – Philippians 3:13 “…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” You can only choose the present and the future.

2. RUTH – ROCK BOTTOM CIRCUMSTANTIALLY 

5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died…”

Background: Not sure why this happened – maybe some sickness – both the sons died and Ruth and Orpah were widowed. It was quite common in the ancient world where women survived men. There used to a large number of widows in many period in ancient times. Being a widow was a very tough situation. Unless you had a good family or a lot of money, it was over for you.

Since there was nothing left for Naomi in Moab and she had heard that things were better in Judah, she decided to head back. So in verse 8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” And after many tears, Orpah went back but not Ruth. Listen to her famous words, sometimes read during weddings: Ruth 1:16 “…Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Wow! What would cause a Moabite widow to say this to her mother-in-law who could not do anything for her?

People often say to me – “Times are tough. We don’t know what we’re going to do.” People have always lived in tough times. It’s called life. Job 14:1 “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” How you handle tough times makes the difference. Some people just run at the sight of trouble. They miss God’s purpose for their life. Other people just grit their teeth and bear trouble. They too miss God’s purpose for their life. Then there are those people who submit to God and His will in trouble. They are the ones who thrive because God works all things together for good.

For some reason, Ruth understood that principle, even though she was probably lost. By the way, that was her Pre-Cross, Old Testament Sinner’s Prayer. Can you find a better sinner’s prayer than this – For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” We need to make that the Sinner’s Prayer but say it to Jesus not Naomi.

Application: How are you handling your circumstances? Are you running off like Orpah or are you submitting to God like Ruth?

3. RUTH – ROCK BOTTOM PROVIDENTIALLY

Background: Naomi and Ruth finally make it to Bethlehem. Naomi was probably thinking – “We left Bethlehem and moved to Moab. No wonder God punished me by taking my husband and my two sons. Now I have a Moabite daughter-in-law who won’t take no for an answer. I don’t know how these people will treat us.” She’s fearing the worst but listen to what happens – Ruth 1:19 “And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’”

God had already prepared the hearts of the people.

Ruth 2:1 There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. 2 So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.

God had already prepared a wealthy man in Elimelech’s family who could be a source of help.

Ruth 2:8   Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”

God had already prepared the heart of Boaz to be kind to Ruth.

Per Naomi’s advice, she approached Boaz and offers herself as a bride, not knowing what would happen. Ruth 3:10 Then he said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.

Again, God had already prepared the heart of Boaz who received her advance gladly.

Ruth 4:9-10 9 And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. 10 Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife…

Once again by the providential hand of God, a widowed Moabite woman became the wife of the wealthiest man in town. What a picture of the grace of God!

Application: You can either spend your whole life crying over why you’ve had problems in your life or you can, like Ruth, leave behind your past and trust God with your future. He will take you from your rock bottom and raise you to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Do you know Him?

 

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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