STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for July 6, 2020

(Study, Trust, Pray) for July 6, 2020

My Kingdom for a Cup of Soup

“These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.’ 24 When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. 30 Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!’ (Therefore he was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ 32 Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ 33 Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”—Genesis 25:19-34 NRSV

This week we have the beginning of the story of Isaac’s children; the twins, Esau, and Jacob. They seemed to be at war in their mother’s womb. The story of Jacob is certainly a story about us. The grandson of the promise is a rascal compared to his faithful grandfather and successful father. When we read about Jacob, we see the purposes of God are tangled in a web of self-interest and self-seeking. There are two declarations that we find in this first section of Jacob’s story. The first is that God has chosen and destined Jacob in a special way. The second is that it is this designation by God that begins the trouble that is to mark Jacob’s entire life.

Loving God help us to learn from the mistakes made by your chosen one, Jacob…Amen.

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STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for July 2, 2020

STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for July 2, 2020

Looking for Miss Right

“Well, when I came this very day to the spring, I prayed, ‘God, God of my master Abraham, make things turn out well in this task I’ve been given. I’m standing at this well. When a young woman comes here to draw water and I say to her, Please, give me a sip of water from your jug, and she says, Not only will I give you a drink, I’ll also water your camels—let that woman be the wife God has picked out for my master’s son.’ 45-48 I had barely finished offering this prayer, when Rebekah arrived, her jug on her shoulder. She went to the spring and drew water and I said, ‘Please, can I have a drink?’ She didn’t hesitate. She held out her jug and said, ‘Drink; and when you’re finished I’ll also water your camels.’ I drank, and she watered the camels. I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel whose parents were Nahor and Milcah.’ I gave her a ring for her nose, bracelets for her arms, and bowed in worship to God. I praised God, the God of my master Abraham who had led me straight to the door of my master’s family to get a wife for his son. 49 Now, tell me what you are going to do. If you plan to respond with a generous yes, tell me. But if not, tell me plainly so I can figure out what to do next.”—Genesis 24:42-49 MSG

This morning we have this week’s scripture from The Message Translation. Abraham’s servant had been sent to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac, from Abraham’s home country. He had met Rebecca at the water well and is sharing with Rebecca’s brother how God had led him to Rebecca on his journey. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and Isaac’s mother had died and Abraham decided it was time for Isaac to have a wife of his own. Abraham did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman in the country where they were living so he sent his servant back to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac. God will lead us to our goal if we will stop and listen to Him.

Lord help us to follow your direction…Amen.

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STP Study Guide for July 1, 2020

STP Study Guide for July 1, 2020

Finding Miss Right

“And they called Rebekah, and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, ‘I will.’ 59 So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘May you, our sister, become thousands of myriads; may your offspring gain possession of the gates of their foes.’ 61 Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62 Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. 63 Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64 And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65 and said to the servant, ‘Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?’ The servant said, ‘It is my master.’ So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”—Genesis 24:58-67 NRSV

This week we are looking at Abraham’s desire for Isaac to have a wife from his homeland. He sent a servant bearing gifts with instructions to find a proper maiden from among Abraham’s people. Throughout this story we see the servant turning to God for direction to help him find a proper wife for Isaac. Genesis 23 concerns the death and burial of Isaac’s mother, Sarah. When the servant brought Rebekah to Isaac, he took her to his mother’s tent, and she became his wife.

Lord, open us up to your guidance that we may follow you…Amen.

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STP Study Guide for June 30, 2020

STP Study Guide for June 30, 2020

Finding Miss Right

“So he said, ‘I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38 but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’”—Genesis 24:34-38 NRSV

In our scripture this morning Abraham’s servant is sharing his mission to Laban, the brother of Rebekah. Rebekah and Laban were the children of Abraham’s brother, Nahor. Abraham did not want his son, Isaac, to marry a Canaanite woman in the land where God had led them. He had sent his servant back to his homeland to find Isaac a wife. It was important to him that his grandchildren and their children be of Jewish heritage. 

Lord may we all be blessed as Abraham…Amen.

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STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 29, 2020

STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 29, 2020

Finding Miss Right

“I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43 I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also”—let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’ 45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.”—Genesis 24:42-49 NRSV

Most of you know that a couple of years ago I had a brain-bleed and had to have brain surgery in Little Rock. I was out of the pulpit for about two and a half months and when I returned, I started preaching exclusively from the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year cycle of weekly scriptures used by many mainline Protestant churches. My problem with the RCL is present in this week’s scripture. This is an important scripture, but we really need to know a little more about its background. It would be good if we read all of chapter 24 and I’ll share parts of it later in the week. Let’s just say that Abraham had gotten older and he wanted his son, Isaac, to have a wife from his homeland. He didn’t want him to marry a Canaanite woman in his new land.

Lord, thank you for Your Word and help us to better understand it…Amen.

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STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 25, 2020

STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 25, 2020

The Lord Will Provide

“After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Yes?’ answered Abraham. ‘I’m listening.’ He said, ‘Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.’ 3-5 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.

Isaac said to Abraham his father, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son.’ ‘We have flint and wood, but where’s the sheep for the burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘Son, God will see to it that there’s a sheep for the burnt offering.’ And they kept on walking together. 9-10 They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son. 11 Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Yes, I’m listening.’ 12 ‘Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.’ 13 Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That’s where we get the saying, ‘On the mountain of God, he sees to it.’”—Genesis 22:1-14 MSG

Today we have this week’s scripture from The Message Translation. Throughout this scripture Abraham keeps repeating the phrase, “‘Yes?’ answered Abraham. ‘I’m listening.’” When God spoke to Abraham, Abraham was ready to listen. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t listen for God’s voice nor are we ready to listen when we do hear. How often we argue with God instead of doing as He commands. Each of us should do our best to be better listeners and better followers.

Lord help us to hear you Word…Amen.

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STP Study Guide for June 24, 2020

STP Study Guide for June 24, 2020

The Lord Will Provide

“One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ 12 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”—Job 1:6-12 NRSV

Job and Abraham were both righteous men who were blessed by God. In our scripture this week Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only son. We are told in verses 2 & 3 of this chapter that, “There were born to [Job] seven sons and three daughters. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.” In our scripture the Lord allows Satan to have power of Job and he destroyed all his family and all his possessions. Job never lost faith in the Lord even when his so-called friends came and shamed him. Job and Abraham were righteous men who God tested but whose faith stayed strong. Oh, that each of us could have that much faith.

Lord strengthen our faith…Amen.

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STP Study Guide for June 23, 2020

STP Study Guide for June 23, 2020

The Lord Will Provide

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”—Genesis 12:1-4 NRSV

Abram or Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldeans but moved with his father to Haran. The Lord came to him in our scripture today and told him to leave the land of his father and go to a land that He would give him. With the promise of a blessing that he would be the father of a great nation. On faith Abram took his family, including his nephew, Lot, to where God led them. You would think that that would be proof of his faith but in our scripture for this week he’s expected to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abram was a faithful servant of the Lord.

Lord help us have the faith of Abram…Amen.

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STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 22, 2020

STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 22, 2020

The Lord Will Provide

“After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together. When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ 13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’”—Genesis 22:1-14 NRSV

This scripture is one of the best known and theologically demanding texts in all the stories of Abraham. It is a story of the faith of Abraham but many of us find ourselves questioning a God who would require the sacrifice of an only child. Personally, I wonder about the sacrifice of any child. This testing of Abraham’s faith causes many of us to wonder what God was thinking. Will there come a time in our faith walk that God will ask that kind of sacrifice of us. Would I have the faith of Abraham under the same circumstances? Any time I read this scripture I am filled with many questions.

Lord we look to you for answers to impossible questions…Amen.

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STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 18, 2020

STP (Study, Trust, Pray) for June 18, 2020

God Hears the Voice of a Boy

“The baby grew and was weaned. Abraham threw a big party on the day Isaac was weaned. 9-10 One day Sarah saw the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, poking fun at her son Isaac. She told Abraham, ‘Get rid of this slave woman and her son. No child of this slave is going to share inheritance with my son Isaac!’ 11-13 The matter gave great pain to Abraham—after all, Ishmael was his son. But God spoke to Abraham, ‘Don’t feel badly about the boy and your maid. Do whatever Sarah tells you. Your descendants will come through Isaac. Regarding your maid’s son, be assured that I’ll also develop a great nation from him—he’s your son, too.’

14-16 Abraham got up early the next morning, got some food together and a canteen of water for Hagar, put them on her back and sent her away with the child. She wandered off into the desert of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she left the child under a shrub and went off, fifty yards or so. She said, ‘I can’t watch my son die.’ As she sat, she broke into sobs. 17-18 Meanwhile, God heard the boy crying. The angel of God called from Heaven to Hagar, ‘What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy and knows the fix he’s in. Up now; go get the boy. Hold him tight. I’m going to make of him a great nation.’ 19 Just then God opened her eyes. She looked. She saw a well of water. She went to it and filled her canteen and gave the boy a long, cool drink. 20-21 God was on the boy’s side as he grew up. He lived out in the desert and became a skilled archer. He lived in the Paran wilderness. And his mother got him a wife from Egypt.”—Genesis 21:8-21 MSG

This morning we have this week’s scripture from The Message Translation. I think this scripture is perfect for Father’s Day. Isaac was the chosen heir of Abraham that God was going to bless with a nation. But Ishmael was Abraham’s son also and God the Father recognized that even He could not turn His back on him. When Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, had given up and thought she and her son would die in the wilderness, God stepped in. God told Hagar that He would make a great nation for her son too. And God protected Ishmael the same way that He protected Isaac as they grew into great men. That’s my prayer for fathers everywhere; love and protect your children.

Lord help us to protect our children and care for them…Amen.

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