Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Psalm 40:11

O Lord, please, please, please do not withhold any of your mercy from me. Uncap the medicine bottles holding your always effective love and your pure faithfulness. Pour them all over me in order to forever protect me from all that threatens my life.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Genesis 16:1-16

1-2 Abram’s wife, Sarai, was still childless and her biological clock had stopped running years before. It wasn’t looking like the great nation of Abram with countless children was going to happen through her.

However, she had an idea that involved Hagar -- her Egyptian servant -- really a slave. Sarai said to Abram, “Since God has not given me a child, I think that you should have sex with Hagar. Perhaps as my surrogate, she will provide the family we need to get this thing moving.” Abram agreed to Sarai’s plan.

3-4 So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar, her Egyptian servant and presented her to Abram as a concubine. (Now, at this point Abram had been living in Canaan for ten years.) He did the deed with Hagar and impregnated her. As soon as Hagar figured out that she had gotten pregnant, she also got cocky and started disrespecting Sarai -- presuming that she’d soon be usurping the wifely role of her mistress.

5 Sarai, forgetting who had concocted the plan, jumped all over Abram -- blaming him, “It’s all your fault that I’m so disrespected. I put Hagar in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she’s slurring me. God will get you for this.”

6 “She’s YOUR servant,” said Abram. “You deal with the problem.”

Sarai got rid of Hagar by harassing her so much that the pregnant concubine ran away.

7-8 The Lord sent a messenger out to look for her and found her by the desert spring that is along the road to Shur. He said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where are you coming from -- and where are you going?”

She replied, “I’m running away from Sarai -- my abusive mistress.”

9-12 God’s messenger instructed her to return to Sarai, “Humble yourself in the face of the harshness.” He continued, “Good things are going to come out of this. I’m about to give you a huge family with so many children, grandchildren, great grandchildren -- and on and on -- that you won’t be able to count them all.

“From this pregnancy, you’ll soon have a son. Name him Ishmael -- which means ‘God hears’ -- for God has heard and answered you. He’ll be a bit wilder than most -- an unbroken desert donkey -- fighting and kicking up dust. He won’t even get along with his relatives.”

13 Hagar replied to the God who had spoken to her, praying to him by the name, “The God whom I’ve seen.”

“Amazing!” she exclaimed. “He saw me in my distress; and then I saw him. And I survived!”

14 And that’s how that spring between Kadesh and Bered, which is still there, got it’s name -- “Spring of the Living God who Sees the Oppressed.”

15 Hagar gave birth to a son for Abram and he named him Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave birth to their son.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Genesis 15:1-21

Awhile later the Lord spoke to Abram in vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am the shield protecting you. I am also the one who will give you a great reward.”

2 But Abram responded, “O sovereign Lord, anything you give me will be meaningless because I’m still childless, and my servant, Eliezer of Damascus, is in line to inherit everything!” 3 Abram added, “Look! Since you haven't given me children, a servant born in my household will inherit my estate.”

4 The Lord gave Abram an immediate reply: “No, your servant is not going to be your heir. A son from your own body will have that honor.” 5 The Lord then took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars -- if you can.” Then he added, “You’ll have so many descendants that they will be likewise uncountable.”

6 Abram believed the Lord. And the Lord, pleased with his faith, included him as among those who are right-living.

7 The Lord said to him, “I am the Lord, who led you out of Ur in Babylonia, in order to give you this land.” 8 But Abram asked, “O sovereign Lord, how am I supposed to know that it is really mine?” 9 Then the Lord said to him, “Go get a heifer, a goat, and a ram for me. Each animal should be three years old. Also fetch a dove and a young pigeon.”

Abram did what he was told to do for the Lord. He took all these animals, and following the protocol for the traditional covenant-making ceremony he cut them in two, placing each half opposite the other. He did this for all the animals except the birds. 11 Vultures swooped down on the carcasses but Abram scared them away.

12 At sunset Abram drifted off into a deep sleep. And while he was napping he was filled with a horrible sense of terror. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know this: your descendants will live as immigrants -- never fully accepted -- in a land not their own. Eventually they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 14 But I will punish their slave masters, judging the nation they will be forced to serve. After that your descendants will escape loaded with plunder. 15 (But as for you, you will live a long life and then die peacefully.) 16 Four generations after their exodus, your offspring will return to this place and purge the sin-filled Amorites from the land. By then the Amorites will be ready for judgment.”

17 In the darkness, after the sun was down, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch, passed between the split animal parts. 18 That’s how the Lord formalized his covenant with Abram. The Lord summarized his part saying, “I’m giving all this land to your descendants -- the land between the Nile River in Egypt to the great Euphrates River in Assyria -- 19 the land currently occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Genesis 14:17-24

17 After Abram returned from his victory over the Four King Alliance, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Shaveh Valley -- AKA “King’s Valley.” 18 Melchizedek the king of Salem came to greet Abram, too. Melchizedek was also priest of the Highest God. He offered bread and wine to Abram 19 along with this blessing:
“Abram, the Highest God, creator of Heaven and earth, and all that is in between, hereby blesses you. 20 And we hereby bless the Highest God, for he is the one who gave you the spectacular victory over your enemies.”
Abram then gave Melchizedek one tenth -- a tithe -- of the recovered loot.

21 Then the king of Sodom, wanting to get in on the action, said to Abram, “Let me keep the captured people and you can keep their possessions for yourself.”

22 But Abram, working hard to keep his distance from the king of Sodom, responded, “I’ve promised the Lord, the High God who created heaven and earth, and all that is in between, 23 that I wouldn’t accept anything from you -- not even a shoelace. I don’t want you parading around saying, ‘I’m the one who made Abram rich.’ 24 However, it would be good if the young men in my fighting force were allowed to keep any food they captured. And my allies—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre—should be allowed to keep full shares of the loot.”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Colossians 3:10-11

So, clothe yourself with your made-in-the-resurrection New Nature brand attire. And I’m not just talking about what you wear on the outside. This is also about internal renewal -- internalizing the resurrection life so that it becomes the very fabric of your life. That’s the only way you’re going to have a restored relationship with the Creator. 11 In this new life, the things which seem to matter most to the rest of the world are antiquated and irrelevant. It no longer matters if you are religious or not-religious, single or married, high status or low status, what kind of documents you have or lack -- if you are hip or square, conservative or liberal, couth or uncouth. The kind of job you have -- or don’t have -- doesn’t matter either. Christ is all that matters, and he lives his resurrected life in and through all of us. He and his new life define who we are.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mark 12:29-31 -- "The Jesus Creed"

Listen up and act accordingly! God expects two things of you which transcend everything else. First of all, he is the one and only God; so he is to be your one and only master; and you must love him with the entirety of who you are -- with all your heart, mind, and activity -- your soul. Secondly, act with love toward your neighbor -- no matter how distant, different, or despicable the person is. Use the same level of energy that you put forth to look out for yourself to look out for the wellbeing of these others.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Genesis 14:1-16

The four regional kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim 2 declared war on the five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bera (Zoar). 3 These latter kings met up in the Siddim Valley (that is, the Dead Sea area) and formed a Five King military alliance. 4 For twelve years the Five King Alliance had served the king of Elam, but in the thirteenth year they revolted. 5-7 In the fourteenth year, the Four King Alliance attacked tribal groups in the territories of the rebellious Five King Alliance.

8-9 Then the Five King Alliance went to battle in the Siddim Valley against the Four King Alliance.

10 As the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah retreated, they were defeated at some of the many tar pits in the Siddim Valley. However, the others in their alliance survived and fled to the hills.

11 The victorious Four King Alliance plundered Sodom and Gomorrah, carting off everything of value -- including the food. 12 Abram’s nephew Lot was living in Sodom at that time. So they took him and all his possessions, too.

13 One of the survivors showed up on the doorstep of Abram the Hebrew, who lived near the oaks of the Amorite Mamre, the brother of Eshcol and Aner. They were all treaty partners with Abram.

14 When Abram heard that his nephew had been captured, he mobilized all three hundred eighteen of the loyal household men trained in combat. They pursued the Four King Alliance army as far as Dan. 15 Then during the night, having split his men into small groups, Abram attacked and defeated the alliance army -- chasing them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all of the loot -- including his nephew Lot, Lot’s possessions, wives, and people.