25 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, 26 “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters – yes, even one’s own self! – can’t be my disciple. 27 Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple. 28 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? 29 If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: 30 ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’ 31 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? 32 And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce? 33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. 34 “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing. “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
1 There was a famine in the land, as bad as the famine during the time of Abraham. And Isaac went down to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar. 2 God appeared to him and said, “Don’t go down to Egypt; stay where I tell you. 3 Stay here in this land and I’ll be with you and bless you. I’m giving you and your children all these lands, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I’ll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky and give them all these lands. All the nations of the Earth will get a blessing for themselves through your descendants. 5 And why? Because Abraham obeyed my summons and kept my charge – my commands, my guidelines, my teachings.”
6 So Isaac stayed put in Gerar. 7 The men of the place questioned him about his wife. He said, “She’s my sister.” He was afraid to say “She’s my wife.” He was thinking, “These men might kill me to get Rebekah, she’s so beautiful.” 8 One day, after they had been there quite a long time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac fondling his wife Rebekah. 9 Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, “So, she’s your wife. Why did you tell us ‘She’s my sister’?” Isaac said, “Because I thought I might get killed by someone who wanted her.” 10 Abimelech said, “But think of what you might have done to us! Given a little more time, one of the men might have slept with your wife; you would have been responsible for bringing guilt down on us.” 11 Then Abimelech gave orders to his people: “Anyone who so much as lays a hand on this man or his wife dies.”
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and took in a huge harvest. God blessed him. 13 The man got richer and richer by the day until he was very wealthy. 14 He accumulated flocks and herds and many, many servants, so much so that the Philistines began to envy him. 15 They got back at him by throwing dirt and debris into all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham, clogging up all the wells. 16 Finally, Abimelech told Isaac: “Leave. You’ve become far too big for us.” 17 So Isaac left. He camped in the valley of Gerar and settled down there. 18 Isaac dug again the wells which were dug in the days of his father Abraham but had been clogged up by the Philistines after Abraham’s death. And he renamed them, using the original names his father had given them. 19 One day, as Isaac’s servants were digging in the valley, they came on a well of spring water. 20 The shepherds of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s shepherds, claiming, “This water is ours.” So Isaac named the well Esek (Quarrel) because they quarreled over it. 21 They dug another well and there was a difference over that one also, so he named it Sitnah (Accusation). 22 He went on from there and dug yet another well. But there was no fighting over this one so he named it Rehoboth (Wide-Open Spaces), saying, “Now God has given us plenty of space to spread out in the land.” 23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That very night God appeared to him and said, I am the God of Abraham your father; don’t fear a thing because I’m with you. I’ll bless you and make your children flourish because of Abraham my servant. 25 Isaac built an altar there and prayed, calling on God by name. He pitched his tent and his servants started digging another well.
26 Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his advisor and Phicol the head of his troops. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why did you come to me? You hate me; you threw me out of your country.” 28 They said, “We’ve realized that God is on your side. We’d like to make a deal between us – a covenant 29 that we maintain friendly relations. We haven’t bothered you in the past; we treated you kindly and let you leave us in peace. So – God’s blessing be with you!” 30 Isaac laid out a feast and they ate and drank together. 31 Early in the morning they exchanged oaths. Then Isaac said good-bye and they parted as friends. 32 Later that same day, Isaac’s servants came to him with news about the well they had been digging, “We’ve struck water!” 33 Isaac named the well Sheba (Oath), and that’s the name of the city, Beersheba (Oath-Well), to this day.
1 God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. 2 Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. 3 Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, 4 But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. God makes a huge dome for the sun – a superdome! 5 The morning sun’s a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape. 6 That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.
7 The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. 8 The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. 9 God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree. 10 God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. 11 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. 12 Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? 13 Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. 14 These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.