January 14 - Luke 12.1-31, Genesis 21 and Psalm 14

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Warnings

Luke 12 As thousands of people crowded around Jesus and were stepping on each other, he told his disciples:
Be sure to guard against the dishonest teaching of the Pharisees! It is their way of fooling people. 2Everything that is hidden will be found out, and every secret will be known. 3Whatever you say in the dark will be heard when it is day. Whatever you whisper in a closed room will be shouted from the housetops.

The One To Fear
(Matthew 10.28-31)

4My friends, don't be afraid of people. They can kill you, but after that, there is nothing else they can do. 5God is the one you must fear. Not only can he take your life, but he can throw you into hell. God is certainly the one you should fear!
6Five sparrows are sold for just two pennies, but God doesn't forget a one of them. 7Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.

Telling Others about Christ
(Matthew 10.32, 33; 12.32; 10.19, 20)

8If you tell others that you belong to me, the Son of Man will tell God's angels that you are my followers. 9But if you reject me, you will be rejected in front of them. 10If you speak against the Son of Man, you can be forgiven, but if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you cannot be forgiven.
11When you are brought to trial in the Jewish meeting places or before rulers or officials, don't worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say. 12At that time the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.

A Rich Fool

13A man in a crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died."
14Jesus answered, "Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?"
15Then he said to the crowd, "Don't be greedy! Owning a lot of things won't make your life safe."
16So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man's farm produced a big crop, 17and he said to himself, "What can I do? I don't have a place large enough to store everything."
18Later, he said, "Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. 19Then I'll say to myself, 'You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.' "
20But God said to him, "You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?"

21"This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God."

Worry
(Matthew 6.25-34)

22Jesus said to his disciples:
I tell you not to worry about your life! Don't worry about having something to eat or wear. 23Life is more than food or clothing. 24Look at the crows! They don't plant or harvest, and they don't have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them. You are much more important than any birds. 25Can worry make you live longer? 26If you don't have power over small things, why worry about everything else?
27Look how the wild flowers grow! They don't work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn't as well clothed as one of these flowers. 28God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won't he do even more for you? You have such little faith!
29Don't keep worrying about having something to eat or drink. 30Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father knows what you need. 31But put God's work first, and these things will be yours as well.


Sarah Has a Son

Genesis 21 The LORD was good to Sarah and kept his promise. 2Although Abraham was very old, Sarah had a son exactly at the time God had said. 3Abraham named his son Isaac, 4and when the boy was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, just as the LORD had commanded.
5Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born, 6and Sarah said, "God has made me laugh. Now everyone will laugh with me. 7Who would have dared to tell Abraham that someday I would have a child? But in his old age, I have given him a son."
8The time came when Sarah no longer had to nurse Isaac, and on that day Abraham gave a big feast.

Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away

9-10One day, Sarah noticed Hagar's son Ishmael playing, and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that Egyptian slave woman and her son! I don't want him to inherit anything. It should all go to my son."
11Abraham was worried about Ishmael. 12But God said, "Abraham, don't worry about your slave woman and the boy. Just do what Sarah tells you. Isaac will inherit your family name, 13but the son of the slave woman is also your son, and I will make his descendants into a great nation."
14Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.
They wandered around in the desert near Beersheba, 15and after they had run out of water, Hagar put her son under a bush. 16Then she sat down a long way off, because she could not bear to watch him die. And she cried bitterly.
17When God heard the boy crying, the angel of God called out to Hagar from heaven and said, "Hagar, why are you worried? Don't be afraid. I have heard your son crying. 18Help him up and hold his hand, because I will make him the father of a great nation." 19Then God let her see a well. So she went to the well and filled the skin with water, then gave some to her son.
20-21God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.

A Peace Treaty

22About this time Abimelech and his army commander Phicol said to Abraham, "God blesses everything you do! 23Now I want you to promise in the name of God that you will always be loyal to me and my descendants, just as I have always been loyal to you in this land where you have lived as a foreigner." 24And so, Abraham promised.
25One day, Abraham told Abimelech, "Some of your servants have taken over one of my wells."
26"This is the first I've heard about it," Abimelech replied. "Why haven't you said something before? I don't have any idea who did it." 27Abraham gave Abimelech some sheep and cattle, and then the two men made a peace treaty.
28Abraham separated seven female lambs from his flock of sheep, 29and Abimelech asked, "Why have you done this?"
30Abraham told him, "I want you to accept these seven lambs as proof that I dug this well." 31So they called the place Beersheba, because they made a treaty there.
32When the treaty was completed, Abimelech and his army commander Phicol went back to the land of the Philistines. 33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and worshiped the eternal LORD God. 34Then Abraham lived a long time as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines.


Psalm 14
[A psalm by David for the music leader.]
No One Can Ignore the LORD


1Only a fool would say, "There is no God!"
People like that are worthless;
they are heartless and cruel and never do right.

2From heaven the LORD looks down to see
if anyone is wise enough to search for him.
3But all of them are corrupt; no one does right.

4Won't you evil people learn? You refuse to pray,
and you gobble down the LORD's people.
5But you will be frightened,
because God is on the side of every good person.
6You may spoil the plans of the poor,
but the LORD protects them.

7I long for someone from Zion to come and save Israel!
Our LORD, when you bless your people again,
Jacob's family will be glad, and Israel will celebrate.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.


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