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4 Women Who Changed The World

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“Leah The Unloved”
March 2, 2014

Over the next 4 Sunday’s we are going to look at the lives of four women who changed the world.

Each of them had to overcome incredible obstacles in life. Each of them was pushed to the limits. Each knew the pain of being DOWN, of feeling UNDER, or LESS THAN.

The fact is every one of us want to be loved, to find fulfillment , to live without fear, and to be forgiven. These four women epitomize those basic wants and desires.
Leah – Felt Unloved
Esther – Felt Unprotected
Hannah – Felt Unfulfilled
Mary Magdalene – Felt Unclean

But praise God each of them ROSE UP! Each of them became an amazing example of faith, of power over powerlessness, of strength over weakness.

This is not a series about women’s rights. For me, this subject is definitely not a political thing.

This series is about our God-given ability, capability, destiny and finding our voice in this world. All of us want that. All of want a chance to become everything that God desires for us to be!
AND THAT SHOULD BE OUR DESIRE FOR WOMEN AND MEN, FOR YOUNG AND OLD,
FOR EVERYONE.

Whenever we place any group of people on a different level and we tell them you can’t do this or you can’t do that, simply because you are ONE OF THEM; when we do that, we are placing limits on God’s ability to use people as He chooses for His glory.

We don’t have the right to tell God how He can or cannot use someone. We haven’t been called to place limitations on others.

Women have for millenniums been told they can’t.

In my lifetime attitudes towards women in what they can and cannot do has changed dramatically.
Here’s a short list of things a woman couldn’t do just a few years ago.
Couldn’t legally keep her job if she got pregnant – she could be fired with no recourse
Couldn’t get a credit card until 1974
Couldn’t run in the Boston Marathon until 1967 (Kathrine Switzer)
Couldn’t own property in some states without a man’s signature
Couldn’t get a job beyond teacher, nurse, or secretary (which are honorable professions)
In 1960 only 6% of doctors were women, 3% of lawyers, and 1% of engineers
(Screen) Can’t. Couldn’t. Shouldn’t. Wouldn’t. Won’t.

Things began to shift for me when God gave me the gift of a brilliant wife and then later on a brilliant daughter and I began to realize that I didn’t want anyone to put a lid over them.

I wanted God to use their lives to the fullest, and I’m on tiptoes to see how He’s going to do it!

For the next few minutes let’s talk about Leah the Unloved.

Genesis 29:16-17

There’s probably no area women struggle with more than the area of looks and body image.
In our culture right now it’s attractive to be skinny and curvaceous/in other cultures large and plump
Maybe women should just move to where the culture fits their body type! Problem solved!
Sometimes it’s about straight hair/then curly/then colored pink/etc.
Expectation. Disappointment. Inadequacy.

Did you know the Bible says Jesus was not overly handsome?

Isaiah prophesied it: Isaiah 53:2 GNT “It was the will of the Lord that His servant grow like a plant taking root in dry ground. He had no dignity or beauty to make us take notice of Him. There was nothing attractive about Him, nothing that would draw us to Him.”

Could it be that God wanted the attraction of Jesus to be GOD’S PRESENCE not His outward appearance?
*Could it be the same way with us?
*In our weakness the beauty of God is seen!

I’M SURE LEAH STRUGGLED WITH THE WAY SHE LOOKED….WHY SHE HAD WEAK EYES BUT HER SISTER HAD SUCH BEAUTY.

Have you ever questioned God about why He made you look the way you do? And you can’t find a person who doesn’t feel like something isn’t good….nose, hips, hands, skin, hair….all secondary issues!

Paul addressed this struggle in Romans 9 (MSG) 20 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” 21 Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? 25 Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.

And that’s the beauty of the God story in our lives!!!

WE ARE THE BELOVED OF GOD! God uses weakness! He uses plain people to accomplish beautiful things!

Not only did Leah feel unattractive, but she felt unloved and it was clear she was second to her younger sister Rachel – Genesis 29:18-20.

And then the story just gets weird! (tell about the switch Laban did)

Now Leah seemed destined for a loveless marriage – Genesis 29:28-30.

That’s a difficult story to read. It’s hard for us to accept the idea that God sometimes allows us to be placed in difficult situations where we feel undervalued and unloved.

But God is faithful and He calls us to be faithful too. If we stay faithful to God and put our hope and trust in Him and not in man, eventually we will see God do amazing things in us and through us!

In Jewish doctrine it says; “All of Laban’s schemes could not have succeeded had not God wanted them to. The marriage to Leah took place unimpeded because God’s plan required that Jacob and Leah become husband and wife. Evidently Leah was tuned into this reality.”

Colts Chaplain Ken Johnson sends out a daily text to 100’s of men. Yesterday; “What God has for you is for you. Even when men try to block your blessing, God is always faithful to the faithful.”

The whole story of humanity is made up of people who felt unloved.

If I were to ask most everyone in this room today if there was a time when you felt unloved, I think most everyone would say yes and be able to recall a story of heartache and rejection.
Maybe we had a parent who loved one of our siblings more than us (Aunt Anna at my dad’s funeral)
Maybe we never felt loved and valued by our spouse
Perhaps we even feel rejected and scorned by our children

All of those are valid feelings and may even be true, but the most important thing in life is not whether or not we’ve been authentically loved by others, but are we going to allow God to work IN and THROUGH us in spite of feeling unloved, because we are HIGHLY LOVED BY THE LORD.

Jesus understands the painful feelings of rejection.

Isaiah 53:3 (GWT) “He was despised and rejected by people. He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. He was despised like one from whom people turn their faces, and we ignored Him as if He were nothing.”

I want you to know that God sees and understands those who feel “as if they are nothing.”

God wants us to trust Him! He wants us to believe that He will use our life in glorious ways if we will just walk closely with him over the course of our lifetime.

God sees our pain. God is active and at work in us – Genesis 29:31.

We all have our seasons of disappointment and waiting. But our moment of joy will come if we wait upon the Lord for His provision and timing.
*WE SEE IT IN THE STORY OF NAOMI/RUTH

Leah got her wish for a child, but it did not produce the outcome she had anticipated – Genesis 29:32.

This mentality is a performance treadmill that most of us jump on one time or another in life.
If I can only accomplish THAT, then surely my dad will be proud of me (sports/academics/business).
If I can only LOOK LIKE THAT, then surely my husband will desire me and no one else.

With each son Leah thinks maybe now my husband will love me. But with each child she is left disappointed, rejected and lonelier than ever.

By the time Leah was pregnant with her fourth son something had shifted in her soul. Leah no longer looked to Jacob as her only source of love and fulfillment. Now she looked to the Lord.

Leah’s love for God had grown to the place where her sense of value and worth were no longer tied to a man.

And when she bore the fourth son this time it was different,

This time SHE was different – Genesis 29:35.

Then she stopped bearing!

It’s as if Leah had found her fulfillment in more than just trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations of Jacob. Her hope was firmly in God.

It took the rejection of a man to help Leah realize the deep love and acceptance of God.

The story continues to unfold with Rachel finally getting the desire of her heart. God gave her a special son named Joseph and her husband Jacob played favorites with him and created havoc in the family.
We ALL crave our father’s love. We ALL want to please our dads.

This basic need, that is OFTEN denied, can only find its complete fulfillment IN GOD ALONE!

God is our husband! God is our father! God is our brother! God is the fulfillment of all the love we seek in this life and in the life to come.

Jacob was not a good husband OR a good father. He played favorites. He wasn’t quick to repent or in a hurry to repair what he had destroyed. But God worked in his heart too and Jacob died in faith.

Here’s the beauty of Leah’s story. Her beloved sister Rachel, whom Leah loved, died as the family was traveling to Bethlehem and had to be buried along the roadside in a borrowed tomb.

I don’t believe Leah took any special delight in this. She had grown. She was not vindictive or spiteful, but trusting and at peace.

Rachel’s death and burial along the road meant something. It meant when Leah died she’d get the place of favor – Genesis 49:29, 31.

Life has a way of turning around if we will only be patient and let God work.

Tell the story of my grandfather/grandmother. (Picture)

On the first page of the New Testament is a tribute to this woman of faith, a simple woman named Leah who changed the world by her lineage. The lineages of most men in the bible list the oldest son, usually it goes through him.

But not time. This time the blessing would flow through the fourth born, the son called PRAISE.

Matthew 1:1-2 “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.”

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah!

COMMUNION – Dorene lead

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About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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