“You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” vs. 5
Who’s Your Daddy?
Let me start by taking a quick poll. Most of you know I have two daughters. Most of you know them and have watched them grow up. So, my question is; Who looks like who?
How many of you think my oldest looks like me? My wife?
How many of you think my youngest looks like me? My Wife?
I know the answer to those questions even differ in my own families. Family traits are interesting things.
Let’s have some fun with this; I am going to show you a picture of parent and you have to tell me their famous child.
-Fred Trump/Donald Trump
-Dell Curry/Stephan Curry
-Hugh Rodham/Hilary Clinton
-Tom Liu/Lucy Liu
-Mark Zuckerberg/Max Zuckerberg
Our family has a lot to do with who we are in many ways; physical looks, our emotional make up, our personalities, etc. The things we do and the ways we raise our children have a lot to do with that too. We are on a study of deepening our relationship with God and that entails us being emotionally healthy. Today we are going to look at what the Bible has to say about our family and history and what we need to do to move forward in life. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word from Exodus 20:4-6. It’s one of the 10 commandments.
Read Passage – Exodus 20:4-6
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Joe’s Family Values
Today we are going to look at the life of a guy most of us are familiar with and whose story is found in the book of Genesis; Joseph. Joseph had a pretty historic lineage. His dad was Jacob, his grandfather was Isaac, and his great grandfather was Abraham. Most of us would love to claim that kind of a heritage. Wow! But, consider for just a moment what his heritage was filled with:
–Patterns of lying – Abraham lied twice about Sarah, Isaac and Rebehah’s marriage was characterized by lies, Jacob’s name means deceiver, and Jacob’s children (10 sons) lied to him about Joseph’s death
–Favoritism – Abraham favored Ishmael, Isaac favored Esau, and Jacob favored Joseph and then later Benjamin
–Division – Issac and Ishmael were cut off from one another; Jacob and Esau had to split for years because of Jacob’s deception; Joseph was separated from his brothers for many, many years.
–Poor relationships – Abraham had a child out of wedlock (at his wife’s urging), Isaac was married to a woman he truly didn’t love (Rebecca); Jacob had two wives and two concubines
What looks like a great legacy was filled with a lot of issues that would tear apart families and would cause some people issues for a long time. In fact, if you look at the passage we read today, verse 5b seems to elude to just what we see in this family line:
“…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…” vs. 5b
Many of us may look at our families and think that we have dysfunction, difficulty, and that we too may be in a downward cycle of family legacy.
What Can I Do?
You might even ask this; What can I do? One thing you can do is not stop reading this passage at verse 5, and many people do. In fact, this passage is often quoted to me and it sounds something like this: “Well you know, the sins of the parents are carried on to the third and fourth generation!” It is true, the passage says that but so many people stop there and don’t claim the next verse:
“…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” vs. 6
My challenge to you today is that we must get emotionally healthy to be spiritually healthy and that means we have some tough work ahead. “The great news of Christianity is that your biological family of origin does not determine your future.” P.103 (Peter Scazzero Emotionally Healthy Spirituality) You might be in this pattern where you feel you or your parents or grandparents are perpetuating sins or dysfunction that is carrying on for generations. That leaves us with little hope and little to look forward to. My challenge is to stop the pattern, create a new pattern, and look back in order to move forward.
Breaking The Pattern and Moving Forward
Let’s discover what breaking the pattern and moving forward looks like. There is a definite break in the pattern between verses 5 and 6 so I believe that gives us hope and helps us look at establishing a healthy pattern that verse 6 says can extend to thousands of generations. I will be honest, that’s what I want for my family.
- Take an Painful Inventory of Your Family’s Past
In the story of Joseph there is a contrast in the way the people live their lives. First, look at the brothers. They did some really bad things. They wanted to kill their brother but ended up selling him to get a few bucks. They lied to their dad about it. They lived with guilt. And…they must have been looking over their shoulder often thinking their deeds would come back to haunt them Look at what happens when they go to Egypt in a famine to buy food. They are accused of being spies and their response in verse 21 is:
“Surely we are being punished because of our brother. Gen. 42:21
You can probably assume this isn’t the only time they have said or thought this. They were living with guilt and they were stuck in a pattern of negativity.
Now let’s look at Joseph. Remember he was sold into slavery. He worked for years as a slave. It took a long time to work his way up. It seems quick because there are a lot of gaps but this was a hard tough road and it took time. I am sure, especially in the beginning, he struggled and hurt because of what had been done to him and it probably took a long time to get over. That’s the thing, we have to look back and take the painful inventory. We can’t sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen. We can tend to do that; minimize and rationalize the past. But in order to move forward, we have to look at it, name it, and claim it. Pain can be a motivator and for many it can be a negative motivator. But if take an inventory and truly recognize what is in our past and name it, we can begin the healing process and move forward. Now, believe it or not, Joseph named it and dealt with it. How do I know, believe it or not the Bible shows he did. Look at genesis 41:51-52:
“Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” Gen. 41:51-52
Manasseh – God makes me forget
Ephraim – God has caused me to be fruitful
Joseph probably struggled for years with the anguish that his own brothers sold him into slavery. But…the key comes in that God caused him to forget. He turned it over to God. Because he did, look at his second son, God brought healing and then Joseph could recognize God’s good gifts in his life.
What do you need to name from your past and turn over to God? What can God help you forget so that you can begin to move forward again?
Action Step: Find a confidant, a person you can trust, that you can confide in and that will help you move forward with God’s plan for your life. Must be a trusted person.
- Know God Is Bigger Than Your Circumstances
The second pattern to break is to stop minimizing God’s work in your life; know that God is bigger than your circumstances. There is a tendency in today’s world to rationalize the things that happen to us and not to deal with pain. Pain is real and pain hurts. Evil is real and sometimes we even rationalize evil. A common philosophy today is to say “Everything happens for a reason.” I am here to tell you that is a lie and that is just rationalizing pain and evil. Sometimes evil people do evil things and to claim that there is a reason for it can lead us to a place of saying that God wanted it to happen.
Now hear me very clearly on this: God does not cause evil to happen. And hear me even clearer on this: God can use the circumstances of your life for good. He can work with any situation and bring something good out of evil. Joseph dealt with evil. His brothers sold him into slavery. Do you remember why? He was proud and arrogant. He flaunted that his brothers would one day bow down to him, that he was going to be something great and he was favored by his dad. It must have been devastating to have your brothers sell you and to be torn away from your family. But…God used these evil acts to accomplish something much bigger. First, he broke Joseph’s pride. Notice Joseph is never #1 again. He is second in Potipher’s house. He is second in command in Egypt. In many ways, he is reminded daily that there is always someone more important and more powerful. And God used these terrible circumstances to save Joseph, his brothers, his father, and the nation of Israel. So Joseph claims in Genesis 45:8:
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:8
Important; Notice he doesn’t say God had you sell me into slavery. NO! He recognizes that God used the slavery to send him to the place he is now. He sees the bigger picture. We often get caught off guard and focus on the circumstance itself. God can take the pain and struggles and you can trust that he is bigger than those things and can good to overcome evil. God has a plan and his plan will always trump whatever evil and pain try to take away from us. David claimed in Psalm 33:1:
“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:1
We can give our circumstances too much weight. Now here is the thing, when you are going through struggles, pain, and difficulties, don’t minimize them but take the time to change your perspective on them. Once you’ve processed the grief, the pain, the struggle, ask yourself what God is teaching you through this. It’s important to bring him into the circumstance and then allow him to work through it. We become overwhelmed with circumstances but God is bigger than the circumstance. In Joseph’s case, he could have become bitter and vengeful through all those years of slavery. But…when God is brought in, the perspective changes and we begin to see his bigger plan and his bigger purpose for our life.
- Rewrite Your Life Story With God’s Help
When you do that, you can move to the third step which is to rewrite your life story with God’s help. Notice how Joseph’s story is rewritten, Genesis 50:20:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen. 50:20
Here is the thing, our family history often give us negative perspective and messages that we live by.
Ex. My life was a mistake, I am worthless, I should never trust anyone, life is too painful, I am a loser, etc.
Because of our past and family history some people feel they can never trust a man again, God again, they can never be happy, or that marriage and monogamy is unattainable, that happiness and peace are just words and that real life is just pie in the sky thinking. That is a lie that is letting the circumstances dictate your future.
Solution: Live in God’s promises; his peace, love, presence, etc.
Rewrite your story by drawing closer to him when the tendency is to pull away. How can you accomplish this? Romans 12:2
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
When we chose to rewrite our story with God’s help, it is giving your life meaning and hope. It is the reality of who you are in the bigger picture, not who you are in the moment of pain, evil and disillusionment.
What you are not: a loser, a mistake, worthless, unimportant, not worth it
Who you really are: a child of the king, a loved person, someone worth dying for
A New Family Pattern Established
Here is the bottom line, your family gave you a lot of gifts and for someone f us your family has given you a lot of hurts too. But ,“The great news of Christianity is that your biological family of origin does not determine your future.” P.103 (Peter Scazzero Emotionally Healthy Spirituality)
When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, when you bring him into your heart and make him Lord of your life, you have a new family and you establish a new pattern. The pattern we read about in verse 6:
“…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” vs. 6
Your family patterned is a new because you are no longer on your own, you are no longer responsible for making it happen yourself, you are part of a new family. You are in the family of God. Ephesians 1:5:
“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…” Eph. 1:5 (NASB)
When you live in light of what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross, that you are worth dying for, you rewrite your future.
You do that by:
- Taking a painful look at your past and name what is there
- Feel deeply what you are going through and then know that God is bigger than your circumstance and choose to bring him into those circumstances
- Rewrite your story with God’s help by living as a child of the king.