White Rock Baptist Church Blog

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Verse for Reflection

Posted Friday, December 21, 2018

21Dec

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:29-33

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2018

19Dec

God’s Blessing

Read: Genesis 30.1-43

[Laban said] “I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you; name your wages, and I will give it.” [Jacob said] “Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages.”

Genesis 30.27,28, 32 (NRSV)

This lesson is about God’s blessings to Jacob—a family and wealth—and Jacob as a blessing to Laban.

Jacob left Bethel (the site of his dream, Genesis 28.12) and arrived in Paddan-aram. Immediately he met Rachel (the daughter of his mother’s brother, Laban). He was no doubt overcome with emotion. He had found his tribal people after a long journey. He moved a large stone, kissed his cousin and wept aloud (29.10-11). Laban also received Jacob warmly and put him to work. The cordiality of these opening scenes proved to be a pleasant covering for many deceptions to follow. Jacob agreed to work for his uncle for seven years in exchange for Rachel as his bride. After seven years, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying the older sister, Leah, and then contracted to give him Rachel for another seven years labor. It is hard to believe that both Leah and Rachel were not aware of this marriage custom (v. 26); it seems that Rebekah, Laban, Leah, and Rachel were as clever as Jacob!

Jacob favored Rachel so God favored Leah with the first children. The rivalry between the sisters resulted in 12 children. Jacob had been blessed with a family. For twenty years, Jacob’s talent with animal husbandry had made Laban rich. He did not want to let Jacob return home because he discerned that the Lord was blessing him through Jacob. Jacob and his family escaped through one final, masterful deception. Jacob let Laban choose the type of sheep and goats he would take for his wages, and then influenced their environment during their mating, so that Jacob received the strongest. Whichever Laban chose, Jacob manipulated the results. Soon Jacob, who came to Haran with nothing, had wives, children, servants and livestock. God’s blessings.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Thoughts

Posted Monday, December 17, 2018

17Dec

I encourage you not to just lean on your faith, but to lean into your faith. I encourage you to imagine the plan GOD has to bless others through you.
Youth Day Speaker: Soleil Taliaferro Dancy
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Word From the Pastor

Posted Monday, December 17, 2018

17Dec

Luke 1: 1-50

“GOD HAS NOTICED YOU!”

I bless the name of the Lord for the challenges of last Sunday’s Advent worship gatherings. We continue today on this third Sunday of Advent with our ears and eyes open to some of the sobering dimensions of the marvelous event of God’s coming to us in the person of His Son and our Savior, Jesus the Christ. The sermon focus is on the responses of the Adults used by God to tell the story of Jesus’ birth—Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, Mary and her fiancé Joseph. In them we can see reflected our own possible likenesses in the continuing drama of human reactions to God’s calling to make Christ real in our time. The pictures are plain and simple.

Next Sunday, is the last Sunday in Advent. Let us gather in glad anticipation of Christ’s actual coming—accenting the kinds of receptions He received. Let ours be a joyful welcoming one.

Rejoice: we are one in the Lord!

“God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. . .”

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Saturday, December 15, 2018

15Dec

Jacob’s Dream

Lesson and Read: Genesis 28.10-22

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Genesis 28.16-17 (NRSV)

Esau was in enraged because, once again, Jacob had taken something for him. He planned to kill Jacob after Isaac’s death. So now both Isaac and Rebekah had a reason to send Jacob away. His father did not want him to marry a Canaanite girl and his mother wanted him distant and safe from his brother. They decided to send Jacob to Haran, to live with his kinsman (Rebekah’s brother) Laban and to seek a wife. Isaac blessed his journey (Genesis 28.3-4) and Esau, moved to consider his mother’s displeasure with his former wives, married a granddaughter of Abraham (27.46; 28.6-9). What did Jacob expect on this trip to Haran, his ancestral home—a temporary escape from trouble or a whole new life?

Jacob made his first stop in Luz. He took a stone for a pillow and slept. As he slept, he dreamed of angels ascending and descending on a stairway. What he saw resembled a Babylonian pyramid call a ziggurat. Egyptian pyramids had a flat exterior; ziggurats were constructed with step and a throne on the top. It symbolized a mountain with a place for its god to be seated at the top. In his dream, The God of Jacob’s father and grandfather spoke the same words of the covenant made with Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 28.13-14); God renewed that covenant with Jacob. The prophecy given to Rebekah was coming true (25.23). When Jacob awoke, he realized he was in an extraordinary place, a stairway to heaven. He anointed his sleeping stone with oil and named the place Bethel, the House of God. But then, as was his character, Jacob made a wager with God, a vow. If God will be with me . . . so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God . . . and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you (Genesis 28.20-22).

Jacob is clever. Does Jacob believe he can set the terms for his covenant with God? Powerful lessons await him in Haran, in Laban’s house.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Verse for Reflection

Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018

13Dec

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9


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Thoughts

Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018

13Dec

Any and all of GOD’s blessings should be taken seriously. Even though they are constant, we shouldn’t take them for granted. We should be grateful. Taking blessings for granted impacts our response to blessings.
Sermon: At the Table With Jesus - Pastor William J. Shaw
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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2018

11Dec

Jacob’s Deception

Read: Genesis 27.1—28.5

[Rebekah said] “Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”

Genesis 27.8-10 (NRSV)

The title of this lesson is a misstatement. It is not just Jacob’s deception; it is Rebekah and Jacob’s conspiracy. Together they devise and execute a plan to redirect Isaac’s blessing for Esau to Jacob.

Isaac instructed his firstborn son, Esau, to hunt for and prepare the savory meat that he liked. He would eat the meal and then bestow on Esau the father’s blessing. Rebekah overheard her husband and called to Jacob, the second born son (her favorite). She informed Jacob that she planned to secure the father’s blessing for him. Together they would trick Isaac. Rebekah instructed Jacob to bring her two goats which she would prepare in a savory way. She also used the goat skin to fashion coverings for Jacob so that he would resemble his hairy brother. Wearing his “Esau costume,” Jacob took the food to his father. He explained his quick return from the hunt as a sign of the favor of his father’s God (Genesis 27.20). Isaac’s vision was dim. “You sound like Jacob,” he said, “but you smell like Esau” (v. 22). Then, when asked directly, “Are you really my son Esau?” Jacob replied, “I am” (v. 24). Jacob kissed his father and received the blessing intended for his brother. Rebekah’s role in this deception was played out at distance but Jacob had to carry out his part right in front of his father. Deceptive words sealed with a kiss. How sad.

It seems that Rebekah had not informed Isaac about the prophecy concerning the younger son (Genesis 25.23). This deception suggests a lack of trust in the family or perhaps reflects the difficulty in challenging the traditions of the eldest. In the ancient world, one survived either by being physically powerful or being mentally sharp. In the account of Jacob’s blessing, the clever one beat out the strong.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Sunday, December 09, 2018

09Dec

Siblings’ Rivalry

Lesson and Read: Genesis 25.19-34

The children struggled together within her; and [Rebekah] said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 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.”

Genesis 25.22-23 (NRSV)

The story of Jacob and Esau is the very definition of “Sibling Rivalry.” Genesis 25.22 says they began their fighting in Rebekah’s womb! Esau won that tussle and emerged first, but Jacob was born grasping his brother’s heel, signaling that the battle was not over.

Esau and Jacob were fraternal, not identical, twins. Esau, the first born, was a skillful hunter and a man of the open country. Jacob preferred life around the tents—pastoral, i.e., cattle and sheep and agricultural, i.e., crops and vegetables. It seemed that Esau was wild and Jacob was quiet. Isaac favored Esau because he loved fresh game. Rebekah loved Jacob but the text does not give a reason (Genesis 25.28). It is reasonable to think that Rebekah believed what God said to her during her difficult pregnancy, two nations are in your womb . . . one shall be stronger that the other (v. 23). Esau was obviously physically strong but Jacob was no weakling (he will later lift a huge rock to water Rachel’s sheep, 29.2-10). However, Jacob’s strength was his mind; he was obviously more clever than Esau. He easily tricked his brother into selling his birthright for a bowl of lentils (25.29-34). Rebekah remembered that God also said the elder son shall serve the younger (v. 23). Rachel’s favorite son was the one that God favored (and it is not clear that Rebekah ever shared this prophesy with Isaac).

Believers must confess that we are confused, at first, about what to think about Jacob. We know he is God’s chosen successor to Abraham and Isaac but we also can see that he is a villain. Jacob is tricky, manipulative and merciless. Esau is unarmed in a match of wits with Jacob. We may even feel sorry for the elder brother. Yet, we cannot ignore that Esau does not understand the value of his birthright. He thought more of an immediate satisfaction than a future asset. And Jacob, though a “heel grabber,” knew the worth of both birthright and Isaac’s blessing and, eventually, ends up with both.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, December 09, 2018

09Dec

Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg Michaelson

"WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?"
Malachi 3:1-4, and Luke 3:1-6

Greetings, Beloved.

“God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. . .”

We are richly blessed here at White Rock this Lord’s day. First of all, we are privileged to be able to assemble for worship this morning, for a meal at midday and for a time of prayerful thought sharing about our faith and the future this afternoon. Additionally, we are favored by God to have Brother Wesley Granberg Michaelson sharing in each of these events. He is the preacher for the worship occasion and the presenter/leader in our 3:00pm gathering. Let us praise God for the challenging opportunities given to us.

Thank you, Wes, for consenting to be with us today.

I trust that all have worked together to plan and present our reports for our various activities of ministry for 2019. Continue to pray for the Spirit’s enabling. Be reminded that the work is the Lord’s, but He has chosen to use us as agents/witnesses to what He is doing. What a challenging and humbling thing this is. How marvelous is our God!

Joy! We are one in the Lord. Let us give unto Him nothing less than our best.