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The LORD spoke to Abram, and said:
“Get up and leave your country, your relatives and the family of your parents, and move to the land that I will show you. I will make things go well for you and see that your descendants become a great nation. I will see to it that you are remembered as one of the greats; as one whose life was a blessing to others. I will act favourably towards those who act favourably towards you, and I will pull the rug out from under anyone who pulls the rug out from under you. Life will be better for everyone on earth because of you.”
So, at the age of seventy five, Abram got up and left Haran, just as the LORD had told him to. He took with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all their labourers. They packed up all the possessions they had accumulated over the years in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan.
When they arrived in the land of Canaan,
You, LORD, are my guide in the wilderness;
there is nothing more I could need.
You set up camp in places of beauty and shelter;
you lead the way on secluded tracks
beside creeks of cool clean water.
I feel my spirit breathing freely again;
your reputation puts me at ease;
I leave the navigating to you, and follow.
Even if we hike through a perilous valley,
where crows keep a menacing watch,
fear will still not get the better of me.
As long as I stick with you
I know I’ll make the distance;
with a knife and a bit of rope
you seem able to tackle any challenge.
You cook up a feast for me,
as those who wanted to feed on me watch, frustrated.
You pamper me like an honoured guest
and constantly top up my glass.
My life feels charmed, each and every day.
Love, mercy and all good things
keep falling into my lap.
I’m with you for life, LORD,
where you go, I’ll go;
where you live, I’ll live.
This is what the LORD says:
Hey you! Are you thirsty?
Come, then; drink from these fresh waters!
Are you hungry and penniless?
Never mind! Come; help yourselves; eat your fill!
Come and stock up with food, wine and milk.
What will it cost you? Not a red cent!
Why sink all your money into things that leave you hungry?
Why bust a gut working for things that can never satisfy?
Listen carefully to what I have to say
and you will feast at a rich banquet of fine foods.
Stick with me and tune in to what I’m saying,
for without my words, life is bland and tasteless.
I will surround your lives with love and loyalty,
making a permanent alliance, just as I did with David.
During those days, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan River. Just as he came up from the water, he saw the sky open up and the Spirit coming down like a diving kookaburra and taking hold of him. And a voice filled the air, saying, “You are my Son; my love personified. You fill me with pride.”
Straight after that, the Spirit drove him out into a remote wilderness area. He had to prove himself for forty days in the bush, while the devil tried every trick in the book to lure him off-track. Jesus was in tough country, surrounded by wild animals, and God’s angels took care of everything he needed.
At the very start, there was one who is called the Word.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
From day one, God and the Word were inseparable.
It was through the Word that everything was created.
There is absolutely nothing that doesn’t owe its existence to him.
In the Word was life.
He is the source of the life
that turns on the lights for everyone.
The light of his life breaks open the darkness,
and the darkness could not snuff it out.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8
My friends, let me spell out the guts of the message I’ve been preaching one more time. This is the message which you welcomed so eagerly and gladly put your names to. It is the message through which your lives are being saved, assuming of course, that your faith has got sticking power and wasn’t just a flash in the pan. What a waste that would have been!
In my preaching I passed on to you the really crucial stuff, exactly as it had been told to me. Let me recite it again:
God’s chosen one died to deal with our sins,
backing up what the scriptures say.
After three days in the grave, he was raised to life,
backing up what the scriptures say.
He appeared alive to Peter,
and then to his closest followers.
He also appeared to a gathering
of more than five hundred of his followers.
Of those who saw him, only a few have since died;
most are still alive to tell the story.
He spent some time with James
and the others he had picked out
to be the leaders of his church.
At the end of the line - like the perpetual late-comer I am - I too was privileged to have him appear to me.