January 10th, 2005


Luke 10:1-20

1 Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. 2 He gave them this charge: “What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands. 3 “On your way! But be careful – this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack. 4 “Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage. “Don’t loiter and make small talk with everyone you meet along the way. 5 “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ 6 If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself. 7 “Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don’t move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town. 8 “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, 9 heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’ 10 “When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, 11 ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s kingdom was right on your doorstep?’ 12 Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you. 13 “Doom, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had been given half the chances given you, they’d have been on their knees long ago, repenting and crying for mercy. 14 Tyre and Sidon will have it easy on Judgment Day compared to you. 15 “And you, Capernaum! Do you think you’re about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You’re on a mud slide to hell. 16 “The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.”

17 The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!” 18 Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. 19 See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. 20 All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you – that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

Genesis 17

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, “I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! 2 I’ll make a covenant between us and I’ll give you a huge family.” 3 Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face.

4 “This is my covenant with you: You’ll be the father of many nations. 5 Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham, meaning that ‘I’m making you the father of many nations.’ 6 I’ll make you a father of fathers – I’ll make nations from you, kings will issue from you.

7 I’m establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants. 8 And I’m giving you and your descendants this land where you’re now just camping, this whole country of Canaan, to own forever. And I’ll be their God.” 9 God continued to Abraham, “And you: You will honor my covenant, you and your descendants, generation after generation. 10 This is the covenant that you are to honor, the covenant that pulls in all your descendants: Circumcise every male. 11 Circumcise by cutting off the foreskin of the penis; it will be the sign of the covenant between us. 12 Every male baby will be circumcised when he is eight days old, generation after generation – this includes house-born slaves and slaves bought from outsiders who are not blood kin. 13 Make sure you circumcise both your own children and anyone brought in from the outside. That way my covenant will be cut into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant. 14 An uncircumcised male, one who has not had the foreskin of his penis cut off, will be cut off from his people – he has broken my covenant.”

15 God continued speaking to Abraham, “And Sarai your wife: Don’t call her Sarai any longer; call her Sarah. 16 I’ll bless her – yes! I’ll give you a son by her! Oh, how I’ll bless her! Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell flat on his face. And then he laughed, thinking, “Can a hundred-year-old man father a son? And can Sarah, at ninety years, have a baby?” 18 Recovering, Abraham said to God, “Oh, keep Ishmael alive and well before you!” 19 But God said, “That’s not what I mean. Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son. Name him Isaac (Laughter). I’ll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever. 20 “And Ishmael? Yes, I heard your prayer for him. I’ll also bless him; I’ll make sure he has plenty of children – a huge family. He’ll father twelve princes; I’ll make him a great nation. 21 But I’ll establish my covenant with Isaac whom Sarah will give you about this time next year.” 22 God finished speaking with Abraham and left.

23 Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all his servants, whether houseborn or purchased – every male in his household – and circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins that very day, just as God had told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. 25 His son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised. 26 Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised the same day 27 together with all the servants of his household, those born there and those purchased from outsiders – all were circumcised with him.

Psalms 10

1 God, are you avoiding me? Where are you when I need you? 2 Full of hot air, the wicked are hot on the trail of the poor. Trip them up, tangle them up in their fine-tuned plots. 3 The wicked are windbags, the swindlers have foul breath. 4 The wicked snub God, their noses stuck high in the air. Their graffiti are scrawled on the walls: “Catch us if you can!” “God is dead.” 5 They care nothing for what you think; if you get in their way, they blow you off. 6 They live (they think) a charmed life: “We can’t go wrong. This is our lucky year!” 7 They carry a mouthful of hexes, their tongues spit venom like adders. 8 They hide behind ordinary people, then pounce on their victims. 9 They mark the luckless, then wait like a hunter in a blind; When the poor wretch wanders too close, they stab him in the back. 10 The hapless fool is kicked to the ground, the unlucky victim is brutally axed. 11 He thinks God has dumped him, he’s sure that God is indifferent to his plight.

12 Time to get up, God – get moving. The luckless think they’re Godforsaken. 13 They wonder why the wicked scorn God and get away with it, Why the wicked are so cocksure they’ll never come up for audit. 14 But you know all about it – the contempt, the abuse. I dare to believe that the luckless will get lucky someday in you. You won’t let them down: orphans won’t be orphans forever. 15 Break the wicked right arms, break all the evil left arms. Search and destroy every sign of crime. 16 God’s grace and order wins; godlessness loses. 17 The victim’s faint pulse picks up; the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood as you put your ear to their lips. 18 Orphans get parents, the homeless get homes. The reign of terror is over, the rule of the gang lords is ended.

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