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Dec 20, 2015

A Family Tree of Grace

A Family Tree of Grace

Passage: Matthew 1:1-25

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Christmas 2015- Stable Talk

Category: Holiday

Keywords: bathsheba, forgiveness, freedom, grace, hurt, outsider, rahab, saints, sin, sinners, tamar, women


The lineage of Jesus through Joseph's legal line has four very interesting women who are clearly singled out by Matthew to tell us something about God and his plan for people. God clearly has a heart for all people, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, saints and sinners. This message reveals God's heart toward weak, failed, sinners.


Our Family Tree of Grace

Jesus’ Genealogy – Tamar, Rehab, Ruth & Bathsheba

December 22, 2002

INTRO:  Genealogy story:  The children in a prominent family decided to give their father a book of the family's history for a birthday present. They commissioned a professional biographer to do the work, carefully warning him of the family's "black sheep" problem: Uncle George had been executed in the electric chair for murder. The biographer assured the children, "I can handle that situation so that there will be no embarrassment. I'll merely say that Uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and his death came as a real shock."

  • Every family tree always produces a few nuts!
  • The best part of some family trees is underground.

Got any notorious or infamous ancestor in your family tree?  [Get replies.]

Fact is, Jesus, God in human flesh, had a very “colorful” family tree.  It looked like a New England Sumac in fall foliage -- ablaze with…well, red! J  And that’s just the women who are mentioned! 

      The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, giving us the lineage of Jesus through the legal, Davidic line.  What is interesting in this genealogy is that, while tracing Jesus’ legal fathers’ ancestry (not his biological ancestry through Mary), it specifically inserts the names of 4 women. Of the four women named, it is highly probable that all 4 were non-Jews…Gentile women who married into the Israelite people of God. 

APP:  Clearly, God is trying to tell us something by including and then highlighting these four mothers in the lineage of Christ.  To the critics who want to charge God with favoritism or racial prejudice for choosing a singular nation and race, the Jews, as his chosen people, the historical reality of these four women is devastating to their own claims of injustice.  God has always loved…and loved to include in His family…people of every race, tribe, tongue and nation.  No one who desires to join God’s family is ever turned away based on ethnicity.  That says volumes to how each of us should view interracial marriages as well as brothers and sisters of different races.  

But these four women speak to us of so much more.  If you and I were writing Jesus’ genealogy, the 4 objects of our attention this morning would have undoubtedly been omitted…and no one would have been bothered.  In fact, legalists and purists world-wide would probably have been relieved.  But then we would have missed seeing the amazing heart of God infused into the troubled history of people.

On some people’s list, these four women top the “Bad Girls of the Bible Club.”  They are mostly remembered today because of their sins, not their spiritual exploitsWord-association time:  what’s the first thing to pop into your mind when I say…

  • Rahab? [the harlot]
  • Bathsheba? [committed adultery with King David]
  • Tamar? [uhhh…??? J Famous for incest, no?]
  • Only Ruth might escape suspicion…until we start talking about her ethnic composition, “Ruth the…Moabitus.” (Nu. 25—Moabite women led the Israelites into idolatry and sexual sin.)

Though living centuries apart, 3 of these 4 women also had one thing in common:  lives soiled by sexual sin.  But as I hope we’ll see toady, they all had much more important things in common than that.  Despite deep personal flaws, they possessed experiences and qualities that granted them a place in The History Book of all time, the Bible.   But the really surprising thing is that they each secured a prominent position in the ancestry line of the Christ.  So let’s take a brief look at each and see what God might be wanting to impress upon us.

      The first of these women to appear in Matthew’s genealogy is perhaps the least known or remembered of the three – TAMAR.  If you were with us about 3 months ago, you may remember Tamar.  Her story is found in Genesis 38.  It’s sandwiched in between Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and him being thrown into prison in Egypt because of Potiphar’s immoral wife.  It’s a story that does not seem nearly sanitized enough for the Holy Scriptures…if “neat-and-tidy” is what you are after in getting to know God.  But God is used to dealing with the messes of sin we seem to be so creative in making.   

Here is the immediate family context for the story that is about to unfold.  Judah is one of the 12 sons of Jacob.  From him comes arguably THE most important tribe of Israel.  It is his family line through which the Messiah, Jesus, will come. 

      Judah is apparently the brother with the business sense in Jacob’s family.  He hatches a plan that would both get rid of their irksome brother Joseph all the while putting a little money in their pockets. 

      But once the terrible deed of selling his brother into slavery is done, Judah apparently can’t stand being around his father, Jacob, who is locked in grief over what he has been deceived into believing was the death of Joseph. 

      Whether because of a guilty conscience or some other reason, we don’t know.  But Judah leaves town and takes up with a Canaanite man named Shua.  Shua has a daughter.  (We don’t even know her name.  But I’m thinking maybe it was “BahhbopShua”???J)  Judah marries her and over the course of the years they have 3 sonsEr, Onan and Shelah.

Read Gen. 38:1-5

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.

Things seem to be rolling right along with Judah’s clan.  The boys are growing up and, before you know it, Er is of marriageable age.  Enter Tamar

Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.

Judah is probably very proud of his first-born. You can be sure that the wedding was quite the event.  Tamar and Er marry, but as the string of anniversaries unfold, Er increasingly cultivates a life of sin

38:7“But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight….”  Result?  “…so the Lord put him to death.”

This fellow Er must have been a real peach of a guy, right?  Being married to a person who is so wicked that God puts them to death is not a recipe for a great marriage.  Truth is, it may well have been a relief to Tamar when she got the news Er had blown a gasket during one of his many fits of rage and would not be coming home that night. 

      As was the custom in those days in Canaan, if a man died without leaving any heirs to his estate, his next-eldest brother was to take his widow as his wife in order that she might bear children that would carry on the deceased brother’s name and estate. 

      Enter Onan, Er’s next youngest brother.  While Onana might have been a better younger brother, he was raised by the same father as his now-dead brother Er.  Following in his father Judah’s footsteps, Onan seems most concerned with himself—what he will lose in terms of his brother’s estate if Tamar does conceive and have a child who can carry on his brother’s name.  So he engages in one of the oldest forms of birth control…and in the process deprives Tamar of children. 

      God gives His commentary on what Onan did in vs. 10“What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.”  Now Tamar is 2-for-2…and Judah is 1-&-2 in the “wins-to-losses” stat book. He has just 1 of 3 sons left.  Tamar is beginning to look like a “black widow”…the kiss of death to any man that dares kiss her.

Judah, astute observer that he is, is beginning to see a pattern here!  His third son, Shelah, is thankfully too young to marry.  So he tells Tamar to return to her father’s home until Shelah “grows up” and becomes of a marriageable age.  End of story…almost. 

How much time elapsed, we don’t really know.  The text (vs. 12) simply says, “After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died.”  Whatever the length of time, it was plenty long enough for Shelah to grow up and for Tamar to become his wife.  Vs. 14b“For she [Tamar] saw that, though Shela had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.”

All this time, Tamar has been in public mourning.  She had been wearing “her widow’s clothes” (vs. 14) for however many years she has been waiting now.  Realizing that Judah has no intention of giving her in marriage to Shelah, his last son, she puts her frustration to work devising some sort of plan whereby she will be able to obtain justice and, with any luck, children.  I say “luck” because what she devises is not the kind of plan you look to God to bless.  She plans to commit incest with her father-in-law, Judah! 

      As she is hatching this plan, the opportunity presents itself one day to spring into action. She is told her father-in-law, Judah, along with his buddy and friend Hirah, are headed up to Timnah for a little sheep-shearing party.  But by the time the party is over, Judah is the one who’s going to get fleeced.

            Her plan, however, is not without some very serious danger.  If she is “successful”, she will become pregnant but will certainly be branded an adulterous.  At best she might escape with her life and be sheltered by her father-in-law, Judah. At worst, Tamar could receive a death sentence for her actions by being stoned or burned at the stake.  And all because of the godless hearts of her male in-laws.

      As the writer of Genesis tells us, Tamar takes off her widow’s garb and puts on the clothing of a prostitute.  She stations herself along the road to Timnah at a little town named Enaim.  There she waits for Judah and his friend Hirah.

      Stop just a moment.  How did Tamar know that sex was the bait that her father-in-law would take?  She probably hadn’t seen him for years, yet she had enough confidence in what she knew about him to be willing to risk her entire life and reputation on his sexual behavior and addictions.  The whole story smells of an entire family of men who had some serious sexual dysfunction going on for which one of them had already paid with his life. 

      NOTE:  Dads, we cannot take seriously enough the issues related to our own sexual purity if we care anything about handing down to our sons and daughters) a healthy, pure and godly understanding of sexuality.

Well, the rest of this story reads like a tragic comedy.  Judah solicits sex from what he believes to be a local prostitute of Enaim but is really his daughter-in-law.  Since he had no money or goods with which to pay her, he surrenders his personal seal on its cord and his personal staff as a pledge that he will later send a goat in payment.  It was the modern day equivalent of leaving your credit card and Social Security number as guarantee of payment. 

      To make a sordid story short, Tamar becomes pregnant by Judah, returns to the home of her father, exchanges her prostitute’s garb for widows-wear and begins the long nine-month wait.  Every day she must have wondered if that would be the day her deed would be discovered.  Every day she must have questioned whether her scheme would work or land her in the shallow grave of a rock-pile. 

      Judah, meanwhile, is trying to track down this prostitute from Enaim to pay off his debt and get his credit card back.  His buddy Hirah the Adullamite can’t locate her and so the two of them decide to just forget about the whole matter rather than stir up a hornets nest by trying to track her down further.  Judah, after all, had at least tried to keep his end of the bargain. 

      About 3 months later, Judah receives word that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, is guilty of prostitution and is also pregnant.  Judah immediately passes judgment and demands that she be brought out of her father’s home to be burned alive in judgment. (Hypocrisy isn’t the private domain of the 21st century!)

      But Tamar was, in effect, betrothed to Judah’s youngest son Shelah.  Any infidelity on her part would be shaming publicly for Judah and his son.  Thus, perhaps, the rather convoluted sense of justice on Judah’s part.

      As you can imagine, Tamar, in the midst of being brought to her father-in-law’s house for judgment, pulls out her trump card and sends Judah’s family seal and staff with the note, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these.  If you recognize them than you will also know who is the father of this pregnancy.”  (Vs. 25).

      I wish we had the video of what Judah looked like when reality came crashing in.  The truth is now public and his illusions of moral superiority are demolished.  To carry on with justice would have meant to demand his own death as well.  Instead of fighting or weaseling, Judah admits the truth – “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.”  It appears that, from then on, Judah took her into his house and took responsibility for her children but did not take her as his wife. 

      As God would have it, Tamar delivers, not one child, but twins, both boys.  The first to cross the finish-line wins by a fist.  He’ll be named Zerah.  He is immediately tagged by the midwife with a scarlet thread.  But the wrestling match/race in the womb isn’t over yet.  Zerah’s brother Perez is actually delivered first.  According to both Ruth and Matthew, Perez is the one through whom the line of David and the Messiah is traced.

So what’s God’s point?  Here is a man, Judah, who had sinned against the God of his fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  

  • He had married his son off to a Canaanite woman contrary to what his forefathers had taught him to do.
  • Rather than recognizing the godlessness of his own sons, he blames their deaths on his innocent daughter-in-law.
  • He makes a promise about his third son with no intention of keeping
  • He solicits a prostitute, commits adultery and at the same time becomes guilty of the sin of incest.
  • Finally, he hypocritically passes judgment of the severest form on Tamar, a woman form whom he is supposed to be caring and providing.

Man, life can be messy…even in Jesus’ family!

      Tamar, while never applauded by God for her adultery and incest, is nonetheless vindicated for refusing to let injustice rule, refusing to let her family line and impact end with the death of two husbands who were so wicked they died at the hands of God’s judgment for their sins. 

Tamar refused to allow life’s circumstances to dash her dreams of making a difference in a world nonetheless marred and stained by the sins of those around her and her own.  Here was a woman who knew that God had promised to make a great nation out of her in-law’s family.  And in the face of that family’s failures and sins, she refused to let go of the promise of God.  Imperfect as her actions were, our God of grace blessed her tenacious faith and still chose to include Tamar in the royal line of Israel’s greatest kings and eventually the Messiah. 


  • Remember that next time you are tempted to pass judgment on someone else’s publicly visible sin.
  • Remember that next time you find yourself blaming the victim of other’s sins rather than defending and caring for them.
  • Remember that when you are tempted to think you’re your sin was too big, too horrible, too whatever to have God still work through you and do world-changing things by you.
  • Remember that next time all of life seems to cave in around you and go dark with loss and grief and you are tempted to let go of the promises of God and the dreams of leaving a lasting legacy of godly offspring to bless the world for generations to come.

      Well, from Tamar, we shift gears to RAHAB.  You will find her story in Joshua, chapters 2-6.  Rahab is mentioned 8 times in Scripture.  In 6 of these occurrences, her name is found with a specific descriptive noun. Know what it is? It is “harlot” (KJV) or “prostitute” (NIV).

     Unlike Tamar, Rahab is a genuineprofessional” prostitute, not some costume-party prostitute like Tamar.  Rahab lives in the walled and well-fortified city of Jericho.  It is a city that, according to Genesis 15:16 had been increasing in wickedness for the previous 400 years while the Israelites had been suffering in Egypt in slavery under the Pharaohs.

      Rahab had grown up in this moral cesspool of the Amorites where pagan fertility rites included prostitution.  Her home was a house of prostitution.  Any children she had from prostitution may well have been destroyed or sacrificed to pagan deities.  We have no record of her children prior to the fall of Jericho, only her parents, siblings and possibly some extended family.  We know she had children after she was rescued from Jericho.  So in those pre-contraception days, it is more than highly likely that she would have had children as a result of her prostitution. But they aren’t around when Israel comes around to destroy the city. 

APP:  This has a lot to say to us in an abortion-saturated society. First, our “personal rights” culture worships at the altar of sexual freedom and “a woman’s right to choose”. The result has historically been…and continues to be…a culture of child sacrifice. 

      But as much as some women may choose to kill their unborn child, we live in a culture that is often as callous to the needs and hearts of women as Rahab’s pagan culture was. 

What was going on with the rest of her family that they let this happen to her?  She was obviously a woman who cared about them.  She bargained for their lives with the two spies she hid. 

      How many women have opted for abortion because they either got pressure from their boyfriends, husbands or family members OR they just couldn’t see how God would see them through such a life-altering thing as bearing a child?  There is perhaps more repentance that needs to come from men—boyfriends, brothers, fathers—than from women about this whole culture of child sacrifice that has developed in pagan America.  And maybe it needs to come from our own hearts. 

Personal APP:  As I was writing this part of the message this week, God brought to mind a scene I saw out my bedroom window one snowy morning this week…and the indifferent heart I need to be delivered from.  In the middle of the morning snowstorm, there was a young high school girl walking to school, baby bassinet hanging from her arm, trudging through the snow on her way to school. The judgmental part of my heart thought, “Wow, what a sign of the times…a high schooler taking her baby to school.”  But looking back, I think the heart of Christ would have run downstairs to put my boots on, chased after that courageous young woman and offered to carry that heavy, awkward car seat contraption the remaining 2 blocks to Ferris.  It is high time I started taking care of people others have taken advantage of.     

Rahab became the one person in all of Jericho who sheltered and hid the Hebrew spies who had infiltrated the city to spy prior to its capture.  Rather than respond in panic and fear as so many around her were, she chose to put her faith in the God who had done such great things for a foreign people.  Joshua 2:11ff record her statement of personal belief, “…for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you.”

      Despite the many years of prostitution and the hard life that such a profession inevitably brings, Rahab refused to harden her heart to the people God wanted her to love around her…or to God.  Rather than condemn to destruction her family members who must have allowed and may have influenced her towards prostitution, Rahab demonstrates a remarkable heart of kindness towards them as she pleads for the safety and welfare of each of them in the face of an impending attack and slaughter by the Israelites. 

Risking her own life, she hides the Hebrew spies on her rooftop when the local police come with a search warrant.  Rahab, in faith chooses to risk death at the hands of her own people rather than hope to hide behind seemingly impregnable walls of Jericho and trust in the gods she was raised serving.

      It is Rahab’s faith that becomes the outstanding characteristic the biblical authors remember.  Neither Tamar nor Bathsheba nor Ruth are ever mentioned in the N.T. beyond the genealogy of Matthew.  But Rahab you will find praised in both the books of Hebrews and James for her faith in God that found expression in her own courageous act of mercy towards the Hebrew spies and her family. 

      While Rahab’s fellow citizens of Jericho were either trembling in their homes or jeering at the Israelite horde, Rahab was practicing her faith.  She was sharing convincingly her trust in Yahweh and the people of God to keep their word.  She was pleading with her family to find safety under the banner of her faith and behind the door of her house.  She was living out that conviction and kindness as she secured their safety in her own home. 

      Rahab’s faith journey doesn’t stop there.  It wasn’t enough for her just to be delivered from death.  Rahab wanted life with God’s people.  She wanted to know not only God’s protection but his presence.  She had heard of this God who was gracious, this God who forgave all your sins and showered love upon those who were open and obedient to Him. 

      In spite of her past, her prostitution, her possible sacrificing of the fruit of her own womb to the pagan gods of her day, God reached out to some of the farthest corners of humanity and drew this woman into the center of His divine plan for all ages. 

      Joshua 6:25 tells us that she actually took up residence with the Israelites.  She became one of the Covenant people.  Somewhere in that process, a man named Salmon saw past her past and into her heart.  He took her as his wife and she bore sons who would become the ancestors of Boaz and Jessie and David and Solomon….and Jesus.

      Both morally and racially Rahab had no right to be in a royal line.  But she had faith, faith in God and faith in His grace and mercy.  She found, as have millions after her, the glory of exchanging sin for salvation, moral poverty for God’s majestic purity

We’ll have to skip over Ruth today.  Go back to week #9 of The Story series to think about why God included her in Jesus’ lineage.  So the last member of this ancestral quartet to be mentioned by Matthew is the mother of Solomon, one Matthew does not even identify by name.  “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.”  (Mt. 1:6).  It’s almost as if God means to underline the fact that she was really Uriah’s wife before she became David’s wife through adultery and murder.  Uriah the Hittite…another Gentile outsider who became a godly insider in God’s plan.

      Of all three women, Bathsheba is probably the most well-known and widely recognized.  It is not my intent here today to recap the entire story of David’s moral failure and fall with Bathsheba.  The scriptures clearly present him as bearing the burden of guilt and responsibility.  God holds him accountable for both the adultery and the murder that resulted from his sin. 

      But why would God point out Bathsheba in His Son’s royal lineage?    2 Samuel 11:2-5

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

      Some have contended that Bathsheba had little to do with the sad state of affairs David created with his adultery.  I would beg to differ.  To maintain that she had no choice but to give in to David’s lustful demands does great damage to both the text and harm to God’s clearly stated law.  We always have a choice when it comes to morality.  Even if her life were at stake (which has NO support from the biblical text), she like any person could still have chosen faith in God over unfaithfulness to her marriage.  She could have and should have refused to participate in adultery no matter what the threat may have been if she did not.

      But there is no mention of threat in the story.  In fact, if anything there is steady progression of events that reveal a woman whose heart was wandering from faithfulness to her first-love.  She lived in a house that was near to the king’s palace.  It was near enough for anyone in the private residence portion of the palace to see her.  Her husband was gone – off to war under the command of the king whose roof-top terrace she could see. 

      Whether deliberate or naive, her action that evening was clearly immodest.  She chose to bathe in a place that was in plain view of others.  Being a beautiful woman, perhaps she had built her self-esteem and value around the looks and praises of men.  As with any addiction, it may have demanded a steady supply of admiring eyes.  Who wouldn’t find themselves flattered to be the admiring object of a powerful king’s desire?

      The second sign of her participation in sin with David comes in 11:3-4.  David sends someone to “find out about her”.  In all probability David was testing the waters.  Was this a woman who would play along with his lusts or would she blow his cover and go public with what he wanted to remain relatively private?  Getting apparently nothing but the green light from Bathsheba, David next sends several messengers to bring her to his bedroom.  Again, there is no indication of a single protest or rebuff of his advances on her part. 

      The comment of vs. 4b is telling.  “She had purified herself from her uncleanness.”  A clearer translation renders it, “When she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.”  According to the law of Lev. 15:18, sexual intercourse rendered a person ceremonially unclean until the evening.  Here is a woman who is careful to observe the letter of the ceremonial law in a way that seemingly keeps her from carrying her “uncleanness” into her own home…all the while being little bothered by the wholesale moral and spiritual unseemliness she has dragged into her heart!

      Finally, too often like us, when found in sin she made no effort to bring it into the open.  Instead she played every possible card right along with King David to conceal what she knew to be grievous to God’s heart. 

  • The first news of the resulting pregnancy is shared, not with her husband or priest or family member but with her lover.
  • Given multiple opportunities to confess the truth to her unsuspecting but returned-from-the-battle husband, she fails to – a failure that eventually led to his murder.
  • Even in the end, after the death of her husband, she seems to make no objection to being immediately summoned to the palace and betrothed to David after the obligatory period of mourning.

The result of such indiscretion, indecision and immorality is multiple deaths

  • the death of her husband, Uriah;
  • the death of some faithful warriors who fell in battle with Uriah; 
  • the death of her baby fathered by David;
  • immorality and strife to the family of David that resulted in the death of two of his sons, Amnon and Absalom

Yet despite all this sin, God keeps pouring out his grace

2 Samuel 12:24-25 records the later birth of Solomon to David and Bathsheba.  The text simply says of Solomon, “The Lord loved him.”  Why?  Because he was a beautiful baby?  I doubt it.  Because God winks at sin?  Certainly not.  It was because God is gracious, compassionate, eager to forgive and willing to enfold into his care all those who turn from their sin and come back to the light and truth of God. 

God has not changed.  That is the good news. 

The “bad news” is that neither has the nature of mankind over 3,000 years. 

  • We still sin despite the fact we know and love the truth.
  • We still scheme and connive to achieve what we think will only be achieved if we act.
  • We still have messed up lives before and after we come to a knowledge of God.

And God still keeps including US in the royal line of His Holy Son, Christ Jesus.

If we had our way, stories like this would be cleaned up or cleared out in the Bible.  Thank God, they are not.

If we had our way, saints would always be different from sinners.  We’re not.

If we had our way, there would be no mess-ups, no murky family histories, no major falls by people who know better.

      But then, if life were done our way, there would be no grace either…no sacrificial love…no unlimited forgiveness …no everlasting compassion and goodness. 

But there is, praise God!  There is because JESUS lived a life without sin and gave himself for us that we might be included in his forever family line.

We can’t come to the Christ of Christmas without coming to the mercy of God.

We can’t look at the lineage of Jesus without seeing God’s line of grace. 

We can’t marvel at the manger in Bethleham without being moved by the kindness and compassion of God for a sinful, stained humanity. 

God is not ashamed to call the Tamars, the Rahabs and the Bathshebas of the world his chosen lineage, his special princesses.  In fact, he seems to delight in helping those hurt most by sin.  He seems to glory in rescuing those caught in shame and silence.  That’s the wonderful message of Christmas.


  1. Have you found freedom from shame, forgiveness before God through faith in Christ?
  2. Do you need to stop disqualifying yourself or someone else from being used greatly of God because of past sin or present failure?
  3. God calling you to go beyond the boundaries of clean and tidy to reach into the lives of people who feel so terribly unworthy because of their sin? Who?  When?  How?   

This is the kind of family God has been building for centuries.  He’s still doing it today!