Today our passages are Genesis 20:1–22:24; Matthew 7:15-29; Psalm 9:1-12; and Proverbs 2:16-22. The readings are the Contemporary English Version. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
Genesis 20-22:24 (Contemporary English Version)
Abraham and Sarah at Gerar1Abraham moved to the Southern Desert, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur. Later he went to Gerar, and while there 2he told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream and said, "You have taken a married woman, and for this you will die!" 4-5Abimelech said to the Lord, "Don't kill me! I haven't slept with Sarah. Didn't they say they were brother and sister? I am completely innocent."
6God spoke to Abimelech in another dream and said:
I know you are innocent. That's why I kept you from sleeping with Sarah and doing anything wrong. 7Her husband is a prophet. Let her go back to him, and his prayers will save you from death. But if you don't return her, you and all your people will die.
8Early the next morning Abimelech sent for his officials, and when he told them what had happened, they were frightened. 9Abimelech then called in Abraham and said:
Look what you've done to us! What have I ever done to you? Why did you make me and my nation guilty of such a terrible sin? 10What were you thinking when you did this?
I did it because I didn't think any of you respected God, and I was sure that someone would kill me to get my wife. 12Besides, she is my half sister. We have the same father, but different mothers. 13When God made us leave my father's home and start wandering, I told her, "If you really love me, you will tell everyone that I am your brother."
14Abimelech gave Abraham some sheep, cattle, and slaves. He sent Sarah back 15and told Abraham that he could settle anywhere in his country. 16Then he said to Sarah, "I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver as proof to everyone that you have done nothing wrong." [a] 17-18Meanwhile, God had kept Abimelech's wife and slaves from having children. But Abraham prayed, and God let them start having children again.
Sarah Has a Son1The LORD was good to Sarah and kept his promise. 2Although Abraham was very old, Sarah had a son exactly at the time God had said. 3Abraham named his son Isaac, 4and when the boy was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, just as the LORD had commanded. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born, 6and Sarah said, "God has made me laugh. [b] Now everyone will laugh with me. 7Who would have dared to tell Abraham that someday I would have a child? But in his old age, I have given him a son." 8The time came when Sarah no longer had to nurse Isaac, [c] and on that day Abraham gave a big feast.
Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away9-10One day, Sarah noticed Hagar's son Ishmael [d] playing, [e] and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that Egyptian slave woman and her son! I don't want him to inherit anything. It should all go to my son." [f] 11Abraham was worried about Ishmael. 12But God said, "Abraham, don't worry about your slave woman and the boy. Just do what Sarah tells you. Isaac will inherit your family name, 13but the son of the slave woman is also your son, and I will make his descendants into a great nation." 14Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.
They wandered around in the desert near Beersheba, 15and after they had run out of water, Hagar put her son under a bush. 16Then she sat down a long way off, because she could not bear to watch him die. And she cried bitterly.
17When God heard the boy crying, the angel of God called out to Hagar from heaven and said, "Hagar, why are you worried? Don't be afraid. I have heard your son crying. 18Help him up and hold his hand, because I will make him the father of a great nation." 19Then God let her see a well. So she went to the well and filled the skin with water, then gave some to her son.
20-21God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.
A Peace Treaty22About this time Abimelech and his army commander Phicol said to Abraham, "God blesses everything you do! 23Now I want you to promise in the name of God that you will always be loyal to me and my descendants, just as I have always been loyal to you in this land where you have lived as a foreigner." 24And so, Abraham promised. 25One day, Abraham told Abimelech, "Some of your servants have taken over one of my wells."
26"This is the first I've heard about it," Abimelech replied. "Why haven't you said something before? I don't have any idea who did it." 27Abraham gave Abimelech some sheep and cattle, and then the two men made a peace treaty.
28Abraham separated seven female lambs from his flock of sheep, 29and Abimelech asked, "Why have you done this?"
30Abraham told him, "I want you to accept these seven lambs as proof that I dug this well." 31So they called the place Beersheba, [g] because they made a treaty there. 32When the treaty was completed, Abimelech and his army commander Phicol went back to the land of the Philistines. 33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree [h] in Beersheba and worshiped the eternal LORD God. 34Then Abraham lived a long time as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines.
The LORD Tells Abraham To Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice1Some years later God decided to test Abraham, so he spoke to him. Abraham answered, "Here I am, LORD."
2The LORD said, "Go get Isaac, your only son, the one you dearly love! Take him to the land of Moriah, and I will show you a mountain where you must sacrifice him to me on the fires of an altar." 3So Abraham got up early the next morning and chopped wood for the fire. He put a saddle on his donkey and left with Isaac and two servants for the place where God had told him to go.
4Three days later Abraham looked off in the distance and saw the place. 5He told his servants, "Stay here with the donkey, while my son and I go over there to worship. We will come back."
6Abraham put the wood on Isaac's shoulder, but he carried the hot coals and the knife. As the two of them walked along, 7-8Isaac said, "Father, we have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?"
"My son," Abraham answered, "God will provide the lamb."
The two of them walked on, and 9when they reached the place that God had told him about, Abraham built an altar and placed the wood on it. Next, he tied up his son and put him on the wood. 10He then took the knife and got ready to kill his son. 11But the LORD's angel shouted from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Here I am!" he answered.
12"Don't hurt the boy or harm him in any way!" the angel said. "Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son."
13Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son.
14Abraham named that place "The LORD Will Provide." And even now people say, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." [i] 15The LORD's angel called out from heaven a second time:
16You were willing to offer the LORD your only son, and so he makes you this solemn promise, 17"I will bless you and give you such a large family, that someday your descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand along the beach. They will defeat their enemies and take over the cities where their enemies live. 18You have obeyed me, and so you and your descendants will be a blessing to all nations on earth."
19Abraham and Isaac went back to the servants who had come with him, and they returned to Abraham's home in Beersheba.
The Children of Nahor20-23Abraham's brother Nahor had married Milcah, and Abraham was later told that they had eight sons. Uz was their first-born; Buz was next, and then there was Kemuel who became the father of Aram; their other five sons were: Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel, who became the father of Rebekah. 24Nahor also had another wife. [j] Her name was Reumah, and she had four sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
- Genesis 20:16 as proof. . . wrong: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Genesis 21:6 God has made me laugh: In Hebrew "Isaac" sounds like "laugh."
- Genesis 21:8 no longer had to nurse Isaac: In ancient Israel mothers nursed their children until they were about three years old. Then there was a family celebration.
- Genesis 21:9 Ishmael: The son of Abraham and Hagar, who was Sarah's slave woman (see 16.1-16).
- Genesis 21:9 playing: Hebrew; one ancient translation "playing with her son Isaac."
- Genesis 21:9 Get rid. . . son: When Abraham accepted Ishmael as his son, it gave Ishmael the right to inherit part of what Abraham owned. But slaves who were given their freedom lost the right to inherit such property.
- Genesis 21:31 Beersheba: Meaning "Well of Good Fortune" or "Peace Treaty Well."
- Genesis 21:33 tamarisk tree: A tall shade tree that has deep roots and needs little water.
- Genesis 22:14 The LORD Will Provide. . . it will be provided: Or "The LORD Will Be Seen. . . the LORD will be seen" or "It (a ram) Will Be Seen. . . it (a ram) will be seen."
- Genesis 22:24 another wife: This translates a Hebrew word for a woman who was legally bound to a man, but without the full privileges of a wife.
Matthew 7:15-29 (Contemporary English Version)
A Tree and Its Fruit
(Luke 6.43-45)15Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. 16You can tell what they are by what they do. No one picks grapes or figs from thornbushes. 17A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. 19Every tree that produces bad fruit will be chopped down and burned. 20You can tell who the false prophets are by their deeds.
(Luke 13.26,27)21Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. 22On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, "We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles." 23But I will tell them, "I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!"
(Luke 6.47-49)24Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. 25Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock. 26Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn't obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. 27The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash.
28When Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were surprised at his teaching. 29He taught them like someone with authority, and not like their teachers of the Law of Moses.
Psalm 9:1-12 (Contemporary English Version)
(A psalm by David for the music leader. To the tune "The Death of the Son.")
Sing Praises to the LORD1I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart
and tell about the wonders
you have worked.
2God Most High, I will rejoice;
I will celebrate and sing
because of you.
3When my enemies face you,
they run away and stumble
and are destroyed.
4You take your seat as judge,
and your fair decisions prove
that I was in the right.
5You warn the nations
and destroy evil people;
you wipe out their names
forever and ever.
6Our enemies are destroyed
completely for all time.
Their cities are torn down,
and they will never
be remembered again.
7You rule forever, LORD,
and you are on your throne,
ready for judgment.
8You judge the world fairly
and treat all nations
9The poor can run to you
because you are a fortress
in times of trouble.
10Everyone who honors your name
can trust you,
because you are faithful
to all who depend on you.
11You rule from Zion, LORD,
and we sing about you
to let the nations know
everything you have done.
12You did not forget
to punish the guilty
or listen to the cries
of those in need.
Proverbs 2:16-22 (Contemporary English Version)
Wisdom and Sexual Purity16Wisdom will protect you from the smooth talk
of a sinful woman,
17who breaks her wedding vows
and leaves the man she married
when she was young.
18The road to her house leads
to the dark world
of the dead.
19Visit her, and you will never
find the road to life again.
20Follow the example
of good people
and live an honest life.
21If you are honest and innocent,
you will keep your land;
22if you do wrong
and can never be trusted,
you will be rooted out.
Verse of the Day
“[Treasures in Heaven][(Luke 12.33,34)]Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.” - Matthew 6:19-21
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist, Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “That's what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”