Tuesday, November 21, 2017

All in the Family- Judah | Chris B

This message was preached  by Chris B at Word of Grace Church on November 19th, 2017. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.

We have been going systematically through some of the key characters of our history. Navaz said something so poignant this morning. We learn grace through each and every story of the Bible, Old and New Testament. This morning, we will be going through the story of Judah.

I was reminded of a story from my own life. I am not even the main character in this story- the main character is my mother-in-law. About 10 years, my wife and I were living in Kentucky and my mother-in-law came to visit us. We went out to a restaurant to celebrate her coming home. My mother-in-law cannot tolerate spicy food. In this restaurant, you get to choose how spicy you want it- level 1-5. So I order level 4 for myself and level 1 for my mother-in-law. She was struggling with the spice in her food. Then the waiter came and said that we should have ordered level 0. I didn’t know that was an option. So the order in which we receive information is so important.

Even in Judah’s story, the order in which information is presented to us is very important for our understanding. We need to know what is happening in Gen 37 and 39 in order to understand Gen 38, which is the text for this morning. In Gen 37, Jacob had 12 sons. To one of his sons, he gives a very nice coat. Joseph’s brothers were not so fond of Joseph because was preferred by his father. Later on we see Joseph’s life, of how he is sold into slavery and then he rises up to potiphar’s home and what happens with potiphar’s wife. But Scripture takes a break from Joseph’s story and tells us about Judah suddenly. This information is given in a certain order and the order is very important.

Genesis 38-

At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also. Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household. After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked. He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again. Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?” There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said. So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.” About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again. When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.”

That is a weird passage. Let’s pray.

It demonstrates Judah’s character, and it is not a particularly good character. The Scripture is asking us to compare the character of Joseph and Judah, as it appears just before this. So, very quickly, we are going to compare them:

1.      The manner in which Joseph and Judah left the covenant people of God- Joseph was captured by his brothers and forced out. Judah left his brother and went somewhere else. He chose to leave the community of faith.

2.      Attitude towards sexual conduct- Joseph is put in a position to choose what he is going to do. Potiphar’s wife pursues him and at great personal cost, Joseph upholds a high standard of sexual purity. Judah inter-marries and later when his wife passes away, he sleep with someone who he thinks is a prostitute.

3.      Overall devotion to the Lord- Joseph endures lots of hardships, but he remains committed to God. Judah is intermarrying and adjoining himself to a temple prostitute whose sexual activity is a type of worship to that god.

Judah is not a holy guy. Which is why it is surprising that we hear Jesus being referred to as Lion of Judah!

Q. Why would God do that?

1.      Story of Judah explains the upcoming captivity in Egypt- time-out is given to discipline and to stop children from doing something the consequences of which they do not understand. In the same way, God sees Judah as an example of his children Israel- of what they were about to do, not understanding the huge consequence of what they are doing. So God is preparing to put them in time-out in Egypt, so that they do not lose the covenant.

2.      God alone is determining the path of His promise- God made a special promise to Abraham and his children. But the path that the promise is taking is not what we would expect. Between Joseph and Judah, who would you think God would choose? Joseph would be the right choice, but God chooses Judah- a deceiver who doesn’t really care about God. We don’t see a series of people who are above others.

At the end of the story, we see the whole thing repeating. During Tamar’s delivery, Perez who was the younger pushes himself out first and Zerah (means scarlet) is the same as Esau who is out-foxed for his birthright. We see a line of unworthy people leading to the birth of one who is worthy of everything!

The dichotomy of justice and grace is untrue. We are seeing it in the very lineage of Jesus. The fact that the lineage of Jesus passes through these people is grace.

Salvation is a work of God alone. Last time I was here, I spoke about the story of John Rogers who was put to death because he believed that works have no play when it comes to our salvation. Even today we see how Jesus is born from a line of unworthy people. That is the goodness of our God. By grace we have been saved through faith- that is a gift so that no one can boast. This morning is a mini-easter, as we come together to worship the risen Lord. Judah is a great symbol of this grace. Let’s thank God for this.  

Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that have people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

All in the Family- Jacob | Colin D

This message was preached  by Colin D'cruz at Word of Grace Church on November 5th, 2017. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.

We’ve been going through the key people in the Old Testament, we looked at Abraham, Isaac and the subject for today is Jacob.

In Gen 12 God appears to Abraham. He gives him a promise. Abraham heard God and followed God. We need to do the same. And it was not all rosy. We see the struggles that Abraham goes through. At the time he received the promise, he had no children. But Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Finally they had one child, Isaac. God was working through Abraham and he blessed all the families

Genesis 25

This is the family tree of Isaac son of Abraham: Abraham had Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan Aram. She was the sister of Laban the Aramean.”

It’s very important who we marry.

Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren.
There are things that challenge our faith even after we receive the promise. Isaac prayed. The time gap between Isaac praying and Rebekah becoming pregnant was 20 years. We need to persevere in Prayer and in due time it will happen.

God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant. But the children tumbled and kicked inside her so much that she said, “If this is the way it’s going to be, why go on living?” She went to God to find out what was going on. God told her, Two nations are in your womb,two peoples butting heads while still in your body.One people will overpower the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

Rebekah had twins in her womb. This is an amazing verse. Before the children were born, God’s prophetic word about the children is this- the older will serve the younger.

When her time to give birth came, sure enough, there were twins in her womb. The first came out reddish, as if snugly wrapped in a hairy blanket; they named him Esau (Hairy). His brother followed, his fist clutched tight to Esau’s heel; they named him Jacob (Heel). Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.”

Jacob means he takes by the heel, or he cheats. We see the amazing birth of Jacob. Before the twins were born, God decides to choose one and not the other.

Q. Does God love you? Why do you say he loves you?

Malachi 1: 2-5God said, “I love you.” You replied, “Really? How have you loved us?” “Look at history” (this is God’s answer). “Look at how differently I’ve treated you, Jacob, from Esau: I loved Jacob and hated Esau. I reduced pretentious Esau to a molehill, turned his whole country into a ghost town.”

The way that he loved us is that he has chosen us above everything else. God chose Jacob and rejected Esau. It is not because of anything Jacob has done. It is just his amazing grace in choosing people.  The promises are coming to you through Jacob.

The boys grew up. Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman. Jacob was a quiet man preferring life indoors among the tents. Isaac loved Esau because he loved his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”

We see a bit of a dysfunctional family. The father loved one son and the mother the other.

One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field, starved. Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stew—I’m starved!” That’s how he came to be called Edom (Red).  Jacob said, “Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn.” Esau said, “I’m starving! What good is a birthright if I’m dead?” Jacob said, “First, swear to me.” And he did it. On oath Esau traded away his rights as the firstborn. Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. He ate and drank, got up and left. That’s how Esau shrugged off his rights as the firstborn.”

A birthright is a spiritual blessing. It is very important in those days. This is was rightfully Esau’s but he despised it. His heart was not on spiritual things, but on his physical needs.

“When Isaac had become an old man and was nearly blind, he called his eldest son, Esau, and said, “My son.”“Yes, Father?” “I’m an old man,” he said; “I might die any day now. Do me a favor: Get your quiver of arrows and your bow and go out in the country and hunt me some game. Then fix me a hearty meal, the kind that you know I like, and bring it to me to eat so that I can give you my personal blessing before I die.”

Isaac began well, but in his old age he lost it. He disregarded the prophecy of God. He wanted to give the blessing to Jacob, but he wanted to give it to Esau because he liked him better.

Rebekah was eavesdropping as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. As soon as Esau had gone off to the country to hunt game for his father, Rebekah spoke to her son Jacob. “I just overheard your father talking with your brother, Esau. He said, ‘Bring me some game and fix me a hearty meal so that I can eat and bless you with God’s blessing before I die.’ “Now, my son, listen to me. Do what I tell you. Go to the flock and get me two young goats. Pick the best; I’ll prepare them into a hearty meal, the kind that your father loves. Then you’ll take it to your father, he’ll eat and bless you before he dies.””
“But Mother,” Jacob said, “my brother Esau is a hairy man and I have smooth skin. What happens if my father touches me? He’ll think I’m playing games with him. I’ll bring down a curse on myself instead of a blessing.” “If it comes to that,” said his mother, “I’ll take the curse on myself. Now, just do what I say. Go and get the goats.”
So his mother cooks the meal, and then covered Jacob with the goat’s skin. Jacob is lying through his teeth. Is Jacob a good person? NO!  
Jacob answered his father, “I’m your firstborn son Esau. I did what you told me. Come now; sit up and eat of my game so you can give me your personal blessing.” Isaac said, “So soon? How did you get it so quickly?” “Because your God cleared the way for me.” Isaac said, “Come close, son; let me touch you—are you really my son Esau?” So Jacob moved close to his father Isaac. Isaac felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He didn’t recognize him because his hands were hairy, like his brother Esau’s. But as he was about to bless him he pressed him, “You’re sure? You are my son Esau?” “Yes. I am.” Isaac said, “Bring the food so I can eat of my son’s game and give you my personal blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate. He also brought him wine and he drank. Then Isaac said, “Come close, son, and kiss me.” He came close and kissed him and Isaac smelled the smell of his clothes. Finally, he blessed him, Ahhh. The smell of my son is like the smell of the open country blessed by God. May God give you of Heaven’s dew and Earth’s bounty of grain and wine. May peoples serve you and nations honor you. You will master your brothers, and your mother’s sons will honor you. Those who curse you will be cursed, those who bless you will be blessed. And then right after Isaac had blessed Jacob and Jacob had left, Esau showed up from the hunt. He also had prepared a hearty meal. He came to his father and said, “Let my father get up and eat of his son’s game, that he may give me his personal blessing.” His father Isaac said, “And who are you?” “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Isaac started to tremble, shaking violently. He said, “Then who hunted game and brought it to me? I finished the meal just now, before you walked in. And I blessed him—he’s blessed for good!” Esau, hearing his father’s words, sobbed violently and most bitterly, and cried to his father, “My father! Can’t you also bless me?” “Your brother,” he said, “came here falsely and took your blessing.” Esau said, “Not for nothing was he named Jacob, the Heel. Twice now he’s tricked me: first he took my birthright and now he’s taken my blessing.” He begged, “Haven’t you kept back any blessing for me?”Isaac said to him,You’ll live far from Earth’s bounty, remote from Heaven’s dew. You’ll live by your sword, hand-to-mouth, and you’ll serve your brother. But when you can’t take it any more you’ll break loose and run free. Esau seethed in anger against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him; he brooded, “The time for mourning my father’s death is close. And then I’ll kill my brother Jacob.” When these words of her older son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she called her younger son Jacob and said, “Your brother Esau is plotting vengeance against you. He’s going to kill you. Son, listen to me. Get out of here. Run for your life to Haran, to my brother Laban. Live with him for a while until your brother cools down, until his anger subsides and he forgets what you did to him. I’ll then send for you and bring you back. Why should I lose both of you the same day?”Rebekah spoke to Isaac, “I’m sick to death of these Hittite women. If Jacob also marries a native Hittite woman, why live?””

1.      We’ve been chosen by God: God chose Jacob- Jacob is not a good person to be chosen. God chooses us because he is a sovereign God who rules over the Universe and he does as He pleases. Romans 9:10-13 When she became pregnant by our one-of-a-kind ancestor, Isaac, and her babies were still innocent in the womb—incapable of good or bad—she received a special assurance from God. What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. God told Rebecca, “The firstborn of your twins will take second place.” Later that was turned into a stark epigram: “I loved Jacob; I hated Esau.”This is the doctrine of Election. If you are a believer in Jesus, you’ve got to prize that above everything else.

Q. Is that unjust?

By no means- because he says, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. We saw it operating in the life of Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau... God chose the younger. God is sovereign.

2.      We’ve been placed into Christ: We see the picture of Salvation- Isaac is the father and Jacob is trying to get the blessing of Esau, so he covers himself to be like Esau. We go into the Father’s presence clothed with the righteousness. There is a great blessing given to Jacob because he was in Esau’s clothes. That is the same with us. But Jacob is deceiving the Father, but we have been placed there by the righteousness of Jesus. He is for us and is going to bless us. 2 Cor 5:21 “In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”

May our eyes open to the great plan and promise of God. All the promises of the Old Testament have come down from the Nation of Israel, to us. We are like one of those patriarchs. Will those promises end with us or will it be passed on to generations. It is not just through Physical children. Esau was a profane man and didn’t care about the things of God. He went and married where their parents didn’t want him marry. The promise of God passes on spiritually and physically.

Q. When we leave this earth, what are we leaving behind?

We hear about Timothy’s ancestry.

Q. Can we say that at the end of our lives that we have passed on the spiritual things in our life to others?

Let’s pray. 

Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that have people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.

Friday, November 3, 2017

All in the Family- Job | Chris B

This message was preached  by Chris B at Word of Grace Church on October 29th, 2017. To listen/download the audio please click hereTo listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.

We are going through the Genealogy of Jesus. We have gone through Abraham and Isaac. But today we are going to look at Job. The foundations of our faith are learned through these patriarchs. On Tuesday, we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We need to let the Word of God reign in our lives. All scripture is God breathed and useful. So we are going to go through these books of the scripture that we might not to as familiar with it.

John Rogers- was born in England in 1500 and he was educated in Cambridge and entered the priesthood. He started to come to know that some of the positions of the church, like indulgences was not in keeping with the scripture. So he quit the priesthood and went to Holland where he was studying and learning more. There he came to know William Tindale. Tindale translated Old and New Testaments to modern day English. People didn’t understand latin and the truth was not accessible to them. But he gets arrested. He gives the books from Joshua to Chronicles to John rogers and he gets them published. He sneaks it into England and asked Henry VIII if he would authorise this English bible. So people could know God truly.

Catholics believed that Jesus 99% of the work, and we do 1% in our salvation. But the reformers said that this would take away from the work of Jesus on the cross. They treasured the word of God and gave their lives for the truths that we now enjoy. When John Rogers studied the word, He came to know the truth and that’s how the change took place.

This morning we are going to go through the story of Job having seen how significant the word of God is for us. But we will do it in story form to help those who are not literate.

After Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, they had children. They were all living under the curse. Many generations down the line, there was Job. Job was wealthy, godly, and blessed. Because Job always tried to do the right thing, he offered sacrifices in the place of his children.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came with them.  The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.  But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. Then they started to have a conversation. One of the friends said, you must have done something wrong.

They insisted that he needs to turn away from whatever sin he was in. But Job kept saying that he was innocent. He asked God to answer him and say why he was suffering. Finally God answered. He said, “Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?” Then Job replied, “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

He was finally comforted. In the second half of Job’s life, God gave him twice as much as he had lost.

So, look in your groups and discuss these three questions:

1. What did you like about this story?

God was confident in Job. Everything was restored to Job. Job was honest. Job was willing to take both good and bad things from God. Have faith in times of trouble.

2. Why do you think Job was punished? What was God’s response?

Job was suffering to be a testimony to others. God is sovereign even in our suffering. God brought up Job in the first place. God had some divine purpose in this. God’s response was to ask who Job was to question him. He contrasted himself with Job.

3.  From where did Job find comfort?

Job found comfort from meeting with God. God does not even explain why all this is happening. In distress it is far more comforting to know God than to know why. In Philippians Paul talks about this contentment that comes from knowing the Lord. Faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.

This reminds me of the song written by Martin Luther during the reformation- the mighty fortress is my Lord. In German it literally meant this- that they can take away my body, my goods, my wife and my children, let them go away, they will have no profit, the kingdom must remain for us. The comfort and hope of the gospel is that we still have an everlasting Father. Even when we have nothing, we have everything. So lets pray and thank God for this blessing. 

Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that have people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.