From the four corners of the earth people are coming to their senses, are running back to God. Long-lost families are falling on their faces before him.


Luke 17

1 He said to his disciples, “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! 2 Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time! 3 “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. 4 Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.” 5 The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.” 6 But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it. 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant who comes in from plowing the field or tending the sheep. Would you take his coat, set the table, and say, ‘Sit down and eat’? 8 Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, ‘Prepare dinner; change your clothes and wait table for me until I’ve finished my coffee; then go to the kitchen and have your supper’? 9 Does the servant get special thanks for doing what’s expected of him? 10 It’s the same with you. When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.'”

11 It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance 13 but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” 15 One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. 16 He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough – and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? 18 Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

20 Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. 21 Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.” 22 He went on to say to his disciples, “The days are coming when you are going to be desperately homesick for just a glimpse of one of the days of the Son of Man, and you won’t see a thing. 23 And they’ll say to you, ‘Look over there!’ or, ‘Look here!’ Don’t fall for any of that nonsense. 24 The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes. 25 But first it’s necessary that he suffer many things and be turned down by the people of today. 26 “The time of the Son of Man will be just like the time of Noah27 everyone carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ship. They suspected nothing until the flood hit and swept everything away. 28 “It was the same in the time of Lot – the people carrying on, having a good time, business as usual 29 right up to the day Lot walked out of Sodom and a firestorm swept down and burned everything to a crisp. 30 That’s how it will be – sudden, total – when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 “When the Day arrives and you’re out working in the yard, don’t run into the house to get anything. And if you’re out in the field, don’t go back and get your coat. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! 33 If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms. 34 “On that Day, two men will be in the same boat fishing – one taken, the other left. 35 Two women will be working in the same kitchen – one taken, the other left.” 37 Trying to take all this in, the disciples said, “Master, where?” He told them, “Watch for the circling of the vultures. They’ll spot the corpse first. The action will begin around my dead body.”

Genesis 29:1-30

1 Jacob set out again on his way to the people of the east. 2 He noticed a well out in an open field with three flocks of sheep bedded down around it. This was the common well from which the flocks were watered. The stone over the mouth of the well was huge. 3 When all the flocks were gathered, the shepherds would roll the stone from the well and water the sheep; then they would return the stone, covering the well. 4 Jacob said, “Hello friends. Where are you from?” They said, “We’re from Haran.” 5 Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” “We do.” 6 “Are things well with him?” Jacob continued. “Very well,” they said. “And here is his daughter Rachel coming with the flock.” 7 Jacob said, “There’s a lot of daylight still left; it isn’t time to round up the sheep yet, is it? So why not water the flocks and go back to grazing?” 8 “We can’t,” they said. “Not until all the shepherds get here. It takes all of us to roll the stone from the well. Not until then can we water the flocks.”

9 While Jacob was in conversation with them, Rachel came up with her father’s sheep. She was the shepherd. 10 The moment Jacob spotted Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, saw her arriving with his uncle Laban’s sheep, he went and single-handedly rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. 11 Then he kissed Rachel and broke into tears. 12 He told Rachel that he was related to her father, that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. 13 When Laban heard the news – Jacob, his sister’s son! – he ran out to meet him, embraced and kissed him and brought him home. Jacob told Laban the story of everything that had happened. 14 Laban said, “You’re family! My flesh and blood!”

15 Laban said, “Just because you’re my nephew, you shouldn’t work for me for nothing. Tell me what you want to be paid. What’s a fair wage?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. 17 Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. 18 And it was Rachel that Jacob loved. So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 “It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife; I’ve completed what we agreed I’d do. I’m ready to consummate my marriage.” 22 Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. 23 At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her. 24 (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.) 25 Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed! Jacob confronted Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work all this time for the hand of Rachel? Why did you cheat me?” 26 “We don’t do it that way in our country,” said Laban. “We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older. 27 Enjoy your week of honeymoon, and then we’ll give you the other one also. But it will cost you another seven years of work.” 28 Jacob agreed. When he’d completed the honeymoon week, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid.) 30 Jacob then slept with her. And he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban another seven years.

Psalms 22

1 God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? 2 Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning. 3 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all, leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise? 4 We know you were there for our parents: 5 they cried for your help and you gave it; they trusted and lived a good life. 6 And here I am, a nothing – an earthworm, something to step on, to squash. 7 Everyone pokes fun at me; they make faces at me, they shake their heads: 8 “Let’s see how God handles this one; since God likes him so much, let him help him!” 9 And to think you were midwife at my birth, setting me at my mother’s breasts! 10 When I left the womb you cradled me; since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.

11 Then you moved far away and trouble moved in next-door. I need a neighbor. 12 Herds of bulls come at me, the raging bulls stampede, 13 Horns lowered, nostrils flaring, like a herd of buffalo on the move. 14 I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled, every joint in my body has been pulled apart. My heart is a blob of melted wax in my gut. 15 I’m dry as a bone, my tongue black and swollen. They have laid me out for burial in the dirt. 16 Now packs of wild dogs come at me; thugs gang up on me. They pin me down hand and foot, 17 and lock me in a cage – a bag Of bones in a cage, stared at by every passerby. 18 They take my wallet and the shirt off my back, and then throw dice for my clothes. 19 You, God – don’t put off my rescue! Hurry and help me! 20 Don’t let them cut my throat; don’t let those mongrels devour me. 21 If you don’t show up soon, I’m done for – gored by the bulls, meat for the lions.

22 Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23 Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24 He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25 Here in this great gathering for worship I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers. 26 Down-and-outers sit at God’s table and eat their fill. Everyone on the hunt for God is here, praising him. “Live it up, from head to toe. Don’t ever quit!” 27 From the four corners of the earth people are coming to their senses, are running back to God. Long-lost families are falling on their faces before him. 28 God has taken charge; from now on he has the last word. 29 All the power-mongers are before him – worshiping! All the poor and powerless, too – worshiping! Along with those who never got it together – worshiping! 30 Our children and their children will get in on this As the word is passed along from parent to child. 31 Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news – that God does what he says

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