January 5, 2016

Genesis 12-14
God told Abram,”Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you...so Abram left just as God said, and Lot left with him.  

Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.  He took Sarai and his nephew Lot with him...Abram set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound...God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.”  Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him.  

Abram moved from there to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent between Bethel to the west and Ai to the east.  He built an altar there and prayed to God...

There was a famine in the land so Abram went down to Egypt to live....As he drew near to Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look.  We both know you’re a beautiful woman.  When the Egyptians see you they’re going to say, ‘Aha!  That’s his wife!’  and kill me.  But they’ll let you live.  Do me a favor: tell them you’re my sister.  Because of you, they’ll welcome me and let me live.”  When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians took one look and saw that his wife was stunningly beautiful....She was taken to Pharaoh.  Because of her, Abram got along very well...but God hit Pharaoh hard because of Abram’s wife Sarai; everybody in the palace got seriously sick...Pharaoh called for Abram and confronted him on why he didn’t tell him she was his wife.  Pharaoh then ordered his men to get Abram out of the country...

So Abram left Egypt and went back to the Negev...by now Abram was very rich, loaded with cattle and silver and gold.  He moved from the Neveg to Bethel...But the land couldn’t support both Abram and Lot’s many possessions...They couldn’t both live there-quarrels broke out between the two camps...Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have fighting between your shepherds and my shepherds..That’s how they came to part company, uncle and nephew.  

Abram settled in Canaan; Lot settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom...After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “open your eyes, look around.  Look north, south, east and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever.  I’ll make your descendants like dust...So---on your feet, get moving!  Walk through the country, its length and breadth;  I’m giving it all to you.”  Abram moved his tent and settled by the Oak of Mamre in Hebron.  There he built an altar to God.

Then the several kings in the region joined together and went off to war to fight Bera, the king of Sodom & several other kingdoms.  The kings captured all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah...They captured Lot who was living in Sodom at the time, taking everything he owned with them.  A fugitive came and reported to Abram...When he heard that his nephew had been taken prisoner, he lined up his servants, 318 of them, and chased after the captors all the way to Dan... They recovered all the plunder along with nephew Lot and his possessions, including the women and the people.  After Abram returned from defeating these kings...Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine -- he was priest of The High God --and blessed him....Abram gave him a 10th of all the recovered plunder....

John 4
Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing).  They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people.  

So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.  To get there, he had to pass through Samaria.  He came into Sychar, a village that bordered the field Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was still there.  Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well.  It was noon.  A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water.  Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)  The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman for a drink?”  (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans).  Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”...

She asked...”are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”  Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again.  Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst--not ever”....  After telling her to go and get her husband, Jesus praised her for being honest in the fact that she had 5 husbands and the man she was living with now wasn’t her husband....

She responded with “Oh so you’re a prophet!  Well tell me this:  Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”  “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem...God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews.  But the time is coming--it has, in fact, come --when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.  It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God.  Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.   That’s is the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in worship.  God is sheer being itself - Spirit.  Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”  

The woman said, “I don’t know about that.  I do know that the Messiah is coming.  When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”  “I am he,” said Jesus.  “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”  

Just then his disciples came back.  They were shocked.  They couldn’t believe  he was talking with that kind of woman.  No one said what they were thinking , but their faces showed it.  The woman took the hint and left...Back in the village, she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out”...And they went out to see for themselves.

In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, “Rabbi, eat.  Aren’t you going to eat?”  He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”  The disciples were puzzled....Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started....

These Samaritan fields are ripe.  It’s harvest time!  The Harvester isn’t waiting...Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant.  That’s the truth of the saying, “This one sows, that one harvests.  I sent you to harvest a field you’ve never worked.  Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.”  

Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out!”  They asked him to stay, so Jesus stayed two days.  A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say...

After two days, Jesus left for Galilee.  Now Jesus knew well from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up.  So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he as or what he was up to.  

Now he was back in Cana, the place where he made the water into wine.  Meanwhile in Capernaum, there was a certain official from the king’s court whose son was sick.  When he heard that Jesus had come, he went and asked that he come down and heal his son who was on the brink of death. Jesus put him off:  “Unless you people are dazzled by a miracle, you refuse to believe.”  But the court official wouldn’t be put off.  “Come down!  It’s life or death for my son.”  Jesus simply replied, “Go home.  Your son lives.”  The man believed the bare word Jesus spoke and headed home...The father knew that he son recovered the very moment Jesus had said, “Your son lives.”  That cinched it.  Not only he but his entire household believed.  This was now the second sign Jesus gave after having come from Judea into Galilee.