From Ben Fronczek... The Cost of Following Jesus

The Cost of Following Jesus

(Based on a sermon by Phil Morgan)
Luke 9:57-62. 
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

In our reading today, Luke records for us in this passage an account of THREE (3) MEN whom Jesus met as He travelled along with His disciples. Two of these men declared that they wished to follow Jesus; to become His disciples. The other was one whom Jesus SUMMONED to follow Him.
What immediately strikes me is the way in which Jesus handles these inquirers (and I think that this is Luke’s reason for recording the details of these meetings). MOST men with a cause are busy trying to recruit as MANY people as they can. Most preachers are busy trying to get as many members for their church as they possibly can (and most have good intentions). I like seeing new members myself!

It’s natural. It’s what we expect to see. But Jesus seems radically different here in His approach. He seems to try to DISSUADE men from following after Him – or at least that’s what it looks like.
An old retired minister was sharing some advice with a younger minister. The old man said to him, “Son, always endeavor to keep your church as SMALL as you can!” That’s strange talk isn’t it?! And that was coming from a man who himself had served a quite large congregation. But what he meant was, ‘Preach the truth of God’s salvation, and the demands of following Jesus, SO CLEARLY that ONLY those who have counted the cost and are ready to give up ALL for Christ will join themselves to you.

Now, it’s my desire to see as many as possible come to Christ – BUT I DON‘T JUST WANT TO GET A CROWD . . . that shouldn’t interest any of us! I want to see people turning to Christ whole heartedly and become truly dedicated disciples of our Lord Jesus.

And so, it’s interesting to read of Jesus’ way of dealing with those who expressed a desire to follow Him; He seems to be trying to DISCOURAGE them. BUT NOT REALLY.  Actually,  Jesus’ desire is that people WILL follow Him – but He wants them to think it through first . . . to count the cost involved . . . so that once they DO follow Him they’ll never turn back. Even as He spells out what is required in such clear and shocking terms, I believe in his heart He is longing for them to accept it – He’s rooting for them – but the cost is the cost . . . it’s non-negotiable . . . and they MUST be prepared for it.
I’d like to look at these three men who Jesus confronted with His demands, and consider, “THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS”.
We read of the first man in VERSES 57-58. And from Jesus’ conversation with him we learn that:

In other words things of this world do not make the Christian feel secure. [read 57-58] 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

It’s quite a bold statement this one makes, isn’t it?   “I will follow you WHEREVER you go!”
Jesus replies that to follow Him “WHEREVER He’s going” will not be an easy road. He’s not one of these “high-flying” Rabbis who jets from village to village, staying in the best hotels, and collecting nice offerings from the crowds that come to hear them. No, His is a true “FAITH” ministry!

When Jesus stepped out of His throne in glory to come to the earth and live and die for us, He left behind all that He had. He exchanged wealth for poverty – out of the ivory palaces into a rude cattle shed. He exchanged rulership for servant hood.

He says, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head”. What an irony . . . the King of glory – heir apparent to the throne of the Universe – doesn’t even have a place to call “home”. He had no earthly security. He was loaned accommodation by those who loved Him. He borrowed a coin to tell a story. He borrowed a donkey to ride into Jerusalem and fulfill prophecy. Why, He was even buried in a borrowed tomb! (It was just as well that He didn’t need it for too long!) HE had NOTHING. Oh, but here we see His love shine thru when we realize what He gave up to stand up and die for you and me.
And those who follow Him must be prepared for the same road. It’s not the things of this world that make us secure, there is NO real EARTHLY SECURITY. Note, I DIDN’T say “THERE’S NO SECURITY” at all,   because there is security in following Jesus.  The true disciple is not secure because of possessions, money, or homes, or such things. God’s faithfulness, and our hope for life beyond this one gives us a sense of security like nothing else.  And it’s not anything that can be taken away! Even if the Christian has nothing, is orphaned and poor as dirt in this life,  he or she is more secure than the richest, most powerful of people without Christ.

A genuine disciple of Jesus should not depend on things of this world to make them feel truly secure. If you’re going to follow Jesus – and walk His road – it just may cost you everything! Through the ages and even today, a decision to walk with Jesus has cost people jobs, their reputation, for some their possessions and for some, even their life. So it’s important to COUNT THE COST! But remember the words of Jesus, He said: “WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT!”

Then we read of a second man in VERSES 59-60. And from Jesus’ conversation with this one we learn that:

[READ 59-60.]

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Here we have a conversation that has shocked many people; it shocked me when I first read it! Jesus CALLS this man to be His disciple, but he begs leave to go and bury his father first. Doesn’t this seem like a reasonable request? You may feel sorry for the man as you read this. BUT JESUS REPLIES: “Let the dead bury their own dead: I’ve called you to preach for me.”

The point Jesus makes here, and let no-one mistake it, is that if you’re going to follow Jesus Christ then duty to Him and the claims of His Kingdom come before ANYTHING and ANYONE else. 

Jesus said in Matthew 1034ff, 

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn“  ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

NOW you get the picture of the kind of devotion that He is calling for! He’s not calling for us to dishonor parents, or shirk our responsibility to family, BUT IF WE ARE PRESSED INTO A CHOICE BETWEEN THE TWO, HE SHOULD COME FIRST!  And indeed, some have had to lose family or turn their back on what they practice to follow Jesus. The follower of Jesus should have no earthly ties that supersedes our Lord !

Let me cast a little further light on this conversation in our text. When this man says, “Let me first go and bury my father”. Understanding Jewish practices shed a light on what’s going on here.  The initial burial took place shortly after a person’s death when the diseased is placed in a family tomb. After which the family would mourn for 7 days, & then another 30 to a lesser degree..

However, the entire mourning period was not fully over until the flesh of the deceased had decomposed, usually about a year later. The final act of mourning came when the son gathered the bones into a bone box called an ossuary. The son would return to re-bury the bones in this special box in a slot in the tomb wall. If that’s the situation here, and it seems reasonable to assume it was, then this man who has been called by Jesus could be asking for up to a YEAR’S delay before following! Jesus said, or Jesus implied that, “Others can take care of that my friend – the demands of the Kingdom are more urgent – MY call cannot wait!

Then finally, we come to the third man in VERSES 61-62. And from Jesus’ conversation with this one we learn that:

[READ vss. 61-62.] 

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Again, doesn’t this seem like a reasonable request? Would you deny a soldier going to war one last chance to bid his loved ones farewell?  But again, Jesus clearly spells out the cost of following Him. “Sir, you’ve already declared you are ready to follow me - YOU’VE PICKED UP THE PLOW – if you put it down now because of your hankering after your family back home, you’re not fit for the Kingdom of God!” What is Jesus saying? “DON’T LOOK BACK!”
When Peter, James and John followed Jesus, they literally “DROPPED” their fishing nets to go after Him. And right when it looked like business was picking up too! (Jesus had just got them a bumper catch!) They went back for nothing. The Master had called..
If you’re going to follow Jesus, there must be no going back.
Jesus illustrates this another way, He said: “Which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’”.

Commenting on those words, JOHN STOTT wrote this:
“The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers – the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow Him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity’.
What he is saying is that there are pews filled with people who wear the title, Christian’, but after starting out good they pull back and now refuse to follow their Lord all the way. Why, because they can’t give up some things from the past, hence they never reach their full potential in the kingdom and stand incomplete like the towers Jesus talked about.
The true follower of Jesus allows NO EARTHLY DISTRACTIONS. We don’t  turn back for anything or anyone when push comes to shove.

Jesus’ words are strong her in this text, aren’t they?  These are some of the things that will cost you and me to follow Jesus. In short, it will cost you EVERYTHING. He calls for us to commit ourselves completely to Him, and hold nothing back, and if necessary – give up all for Him. Jesus said to the first man: “COUNT THE COST”. He said to the second man: “LEAVE IT BEHIND”. And He said to the third man: “DON’T LOOK BACK”.
What’s He saying to YOU today?
Well, you’ve heard the COST of following Jesus. You might well ask, “Who then would ever want to following Him if this is what He expects of us?”

Perhaps to answer that we should consider the COST OF NOT FOLLOWING HIM!  – NO ETERNAL LIFE   – NO GUIDANCE (or meaning) IN THIS LIFE. NO OPPORTUNITY TO GLORIFY GOD, and the prospect eternal damnation.

Your home, your money, your things, your bank accounts, you jobs, your farms, your friends and family are important, but none of these things will get you into heaven where we are promised an eternity of wonder, glory, and bliss. That’s why none of these things are as important a Jesus, and having a relationship with Him. Jesus once said, “What good is it if you gain the whole world, yet loose your soul?”

My encouragement today is to put Jesus and His will, and the things of God first in your life. And don’t be like these 3 individual  who only came up with excuses as to why they couldn’t, or wouldn’t follow Jesus. Jesus also said that the path, and gate is a narrow way, and only a few will choose that path. Be one of the few that will puts Jesus first and enter and stay on that narrow path.  Why, because all other paths lead to the grief and destruction of our soul.

From Jim McGuiggan... Apollyon and Forgetful Green

Apollyon and Forgetful Green

I believe that God through the tinker, John Bunyan, has given a gift to all who are weary with the brawl against the world-spirit. The battle has been going on so long and they feel they can stand no longer and are sorely tempted to lay down their arms and drift with the current to places they do not love and don't want to love. You might think his gift is something some poor soul you know could use right now; if so perhaps you could pass this on.

It's from Pilgrim's Progress of course and I've adapted it only a very little. Nobody tells this piece of the Story better than this. Christian is on his way to Zion and meets one of Satan's right-hand men. So Christian went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold: he was clothed with scales like a fish, and they are his pride; he had wings like a dragon, and feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he glared at him with a disdainful look and began to question him.

APOLLYON: Where did you come from and where are you going?

CHRISTIAN: I am come from the city of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and I am going to the city of Zion.

APOLLYON: Ah, that means you are one of my subjects; for all that country is mine;
I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then, that you have run away from thy king? If I were not sure that you did it so that you could do me more service I would strike you to the ground now with just one blow.

CHRISTIAN: I was, indeed, born in your dominions but your service was hard, and our wages such as a man could not live on; for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So when I was come to years, I did, as other wise thinking persons do, I took stock to see how I could do better for myself.

APOLLYON: There is no prince that will so easily lose his subjects and neither will I as yet lose you; but since thou complain of your service and wages, be content to go back, and what my country will afford I do here promise to give you.

CHRISTIAN: But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes; and how can I with fairness go back to you?

APOLLYON: Hah, in doing this you have fulfilled the proverb, you exchanged a bad for a worse; but it is ordinary for those that have professed themselves his servants, after a while to give him the slip, and return again to me. You do the same thing and all will be well.

CHRISTIAN: I have given him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to him; how then can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor.

APOLLYON: Thou did the same by me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now you will yet turn again and go back.

CHRISTIAN: What I promised you was in the days when I wasn't old enough to have sense; and besides, I count that the Prince, under whose banner I now stand, is able to absolve me, yes, and to pardon also what I did while I served you. And besides, O destroying Apollyon, to tell the truth, I like his service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company, and country, better than yours so you can stop trying to persuade me: I am his servant, and I will follow him.

APOLLYON: Consider again, when thou are in cool blood, what thou are likely to meet with in the way that you choose to go. Thou know that for the most part his servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! And besides, thou count his service better than mine and yet he has never yet come from where he is to deliver any that served him out of their enemies hands. But as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered from him and his servants, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me; I delivered them right out of his hands! And so will I deliver you too.

CHRISTIAN: The reason He doesn't deliver them at present has a purpose: to test and enrich their love, whether they will cleave to him to the end; and as for the bad end you say they come to, they think and call it glory! They don't much expect present deliverance and they are happy and content to wait for their glory; and then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in his and the glory of the angels.

APOLLYON: You have already been unfaithful in your service to him so what makes you think you will receive wages of him?

CHRISTIAN: In what way, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

APOLLYON: You fainted at first setting out, when you were almost choked in the gulf of  Despond. You attempted wrong ways to be rid of your burden when you should have waited patiently till thy Prince had taken it off. You sinfully slept and lost your choice things and you were almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions. And when thou talk of your journey and of what you have seen and heard you inwardly desire vainglory in all you say or do.

CHRISTIAN: All this is true, and much more which you have left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honour is merciful and ready to forgive. But besides, these infirmities possessed me in your country for there I greedily sucked them in but I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.

APOLLYON: Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate his person, his laws, and people: I have come here with only one purpose: to stand against you!

CHRISTIAN: Apollyon, beware what you do, for I am in the King's highway, the way of holiness so take heed to yourself.

APOLLYON: Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter. Prepare yourself to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that you will go no farther: here will I spill your soul. And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that. Then did Christian focus his mind for he saw it was time to bestir him and Apollyon, just as determined, made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail, by which, in spite of all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded  him in his head, his hand, and foot. This drove Christian back a little so Apollyon pressed after him even more strongly but Christian again took courage and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day and by this time Christian was almost quite spent for you must know, that Christian, by reason of his wounds, was bound to grow weaker and weaker. 

Then Apollyon, seeing his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him slammed him down in a dreadful fall and Christian's sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, "I am sure of you now!" and with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was just about to deliver the killing blow, to make a full end of this good man, Christian reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise," (Micah 7:8) and with that he gave him a deadly thrust, which made him recoil as one that had indeed received his mortal wound. Seeing that, Christian made at him again, saying, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us." (Romans 8:37) Hearing that, Apollyon spread his dragon wings and flapped away and Christian saw him no more. (James 4:7). In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all through the fight; he spoke like a dragon while and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian's heart.

During that whole time I never saw him give so much as one pleasant look until he saw he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; and then he really did smile, and look upward! But it was the most dreadful sight that ever I saw. So when the battle was over, Christian said, "I will here give thanks to him that has delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to him that did sustain me against Apollyon." And so he did!

Then there came to him a hand with some of the leaves of the tree of life, which Christian took and applied to the wounds he had received in the battle and was healed immediately. He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him to him earlier so, being refreshed, he got ready to journey on with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, "I know not but some other enemy may be at hand." But he met with no other affront from Apollyon all the through this valley.

Later Samuel, Christian's son and his mother Christiana are travelling in that area with Greatheart and the young man asked if this was the area where his father had had the combat with Apollyon. His guide confirmed that it was. "Your father had the battle with Apollyon at a place yonder before us, in a narrow passage, just beyond Forgetful Green. Listen, that place is the most dangerous place in all these parts." "The most dangerous place in all these parts." Hmmm.

However hard it has been, however painful, however many losses you have sustained, however many times your sins have cut you and bruised you to till you cried out in your pain, "I am leaving, I am leaving" and yet here you are. Reading such things and vowing to get back up.

Remember the losses every now and then but never forget that here you are!

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Mark Copeland... Our Duty To Apostolic Teaching (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                Our Duty To Apostolic Teaching (1:13-14)


1. Knowing that his death was imminent, Paul charged Timothy regarding
   his duties as an evangelist...
   a. To stir up the gift of God given him - 2Ti 1:6
   b. To not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, or of those who
      suffer for Him - 2Ti 1:8
   c. To hold fast to that which he has heard, and to keep that
      committed to him - 2Ti 1:13-14

2. It is the charge in verses 13-14 that I wish to focus our attention
   in this study...
   a. For it describes the duty that we have today regarding that taught
      by the apostles of Christ
   b. Whether evangelists or not, the duty remains the same for all

[For like Timothy, all Christians have been the beneficiaries of that
revealed by the apostles; with the blessings we have received come the
responsibilities as well.  For example, consider our duty to...]


      1. The words of the apostles are "sound words" - cf. 1Ti 1:10;
         6:3; Tit 2:1
         a. hugiaino - "to have sound health, that is, be well (in
            body); figuratively to be uncorrupt (true in doctrine): - be
            in health, (be safe and) sound, (be) whole (-some). - Strong
         b. They are "sound" because:
            1) They are the words of God - 1Th 2:13
            2) They are the commandments of the Lord - 1Co 14:37
      2. We are to hold them fast
         a. By continuing in them - 2Ti 3:14; cf. Ac 2:42
            1) This was Paul's charge to Timothy as an evangelist
            2) This is what characterized the early church from the
            3) This implies that we are "doers" of the word, and not
               "hearers only" - Jm 1:21-25
         b. By contending for them - Jude 3
            1) "The faith" (i.e., that which we are to believe) has been
               delivered "once for all"
            2) We need not look for latter day revelation
               a) For God has given us "all things that pertain to life
                  and godliness" - 2Pe 1:3
               b) The Scriptures are sufficient to make the man of God
                  "complete, thoroughly complete for every good work"
                  - 2Ti 3:16-17
            3) Our duty is to "contend earnestly" for the faith
      -- Are you "holding fast" the teaching of the apostles by both
         continuing in them and contending for them?

      1. What others have said this means:
         a. "Hold these truths with sincere faith in the Lord Jesus, and
            with that love which is the best evidence of attachment to
            him."- Barnes
         b. "in the exercise of faith, and from a principle of love;"
            - Gill
      2. Thus we must believe in that which we are holding fast
         a. In what we are holding fast (i.e., the doctrine)
         b. In whom we are holding fast (i.e., the Person)
      3. Thus we must possess the spirit of love while holding fast
         a. Love for God and His Word
         b. Love for man (including those with whom we differ) - cf. Ep 4:15; 2Ti 2:24-26
      -- In holding fast to the apostolic doctrine, are you doing so
         with sincere faith in Jesus and love for both God and man?

[Such is our duty to those things taught by the apostles of our Lord
Jesus Christ.  So important is this duty that Paul reiterates the idea
in slightly different words...]


      1. Note first the committal process of the gospel
         a. The gospel was committed to the apostles - 1Ti 1:11
         b. They in turn committed it to men like Timothy - 1Ti 6:20
         c. Who in turn were to commit it to faithful men who teach
            others - 2Ti 2:2
      2. Those who have received it must "keep" or "guard" it
         a. phulasso - "denotes (a) 'to guard, watch, keep watch,' (b)
            'to keep by way of protection,' (c) metaphorically, 'to keep
            a law, precept,'" - Vine
         b. This is Paul's charge to Timothy - 2Ti 1:14
         c. This is the charge of all who have received the gospel
      -- Are you safely guarding what has been committed to you, by
         virtue of your own acceptance of the gospel?

      1. What others have said this means:
         a. "By the aid of the Holy Spirit. One of the best methods of
            preserving the knowledge and the love of truth is to cherish
            the influences of the Holy Spirit."- Barnes
         b. "Keep it by the help of the Holy Spirit." - B. W. Johnson
      2. Review what the apostles themselves teach us about the Holy
         Spirit and the Christian:
         a. The Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian - 1Co 3:16; 6:19
         b. By the Spirit God strengthens the inner man - Ep 3:16,20
         c. The Spirit produces wonderful fruit in those led by Him - Ga 5:16-23
         d. A means by which He does this is through the very Word we
            are to guard - Ep 6:17
      3. Thus we must equip ourselves with the Word of God
         a. Receiving it, as it "effectively works" in those who believe
            it - 1Th 2:13
         b. Doing it, as it blesses those who are "doers" and not
            "hearers only" - Jm 1:25
      -- Are we letting the Spirit's Sword equip us that we may in turn
         guard it safely?


1. "Our Duty To Apostolic Teaching" is very clear...
   a. We must hold fast the pattern of sounds words, in faith and love
      which are in Christ Jesus
   b. We must keep (guard) that which has been committed to us, by the
      Holy Spirit in us

2. It is not enough to simply know the words given to us by the
   a. We must continue in them and contend for them, in both faith and
   b. We must safely guard them, with the aid of the Holy Spirit

The fact that we are Christians today is evidence of previous
generations being true to this charge; will the same be said of us?
Will later generations be grateful that we were faithful in keeping "Our
Duty To Apostolic Teaching"...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading January 20

Bible Reading   

January 20

The World English Bible

Jan. 20
Genesis 20

Gen 20:1 Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the South, and lived between Kadesh and Shur. He lived as a foreigner in Gerar.
Gen 20:2 Abraham said about Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man's wife."
Gen 20:4 Now Abimelech had not come near her. He said, "Lord, will you kill even a righteous nation?
Gen 20:5 Didn't he tell me, 'She is my sister?' She, even she herself, said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this."
Gen 20:6 God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore I didn't allow you to touch her.
Gen 20:7 Now therefore, restore the man's wife. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. If you don't restore her, know for sure that you will die, you, and all who are yours."
Gen 20:8 Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ear. The men were very scared.
Gen 20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said to him, "What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done!"
Gen 20:10 Abimelech said to Abraham, "What did you see, that you have done this thing?"
Gen 20:11 Abraham said, "Because I thought, 'Surely the fear of God is not in this place. They will kill me for my wife's sake.'
Gen 20:12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
Gen 20:13 It happened, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said to her, 'This is your kindness which you shall show to me. Everywhere that we go, say of me, "He is my brother." ' "
Gen 20:14 Abimelech took sheep and cattle, male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored Sarah, his wife, to him.
Gen 20:15 Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you. Dwell where it pleases you."
Gen 20:16 To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. Behold, it is for you a covering of the eyes to all that are with you. In front of all you are vindicated."
Gen 20:17 Abraham prayed to God. God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his female servants, and they bore children.
Gen 20:18 For Yahweh had closed up tight all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

From Gary... Humor

I enjoy kidding around; those of you who know me, know this is true.  But NOT at the expense of others.  The thing is: when you deceive others to be humorous, ultimately nothing good comes of it.  Often humor changes from harmless to hurtful and sometimes even escalates to violence.  Once in awhile it doesn't end there and just engenders worse things and people get really, really hurt.  Consider this passage from Proverbs...

Proverbs, Chapter 26
 17 Like one who grabs a dog’s ears
       is one who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own.
 18 Like a madman who shoots torches, arrows, and death,
 19 is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “Am I not joking?”

Dogs react instinctively; you hurt them- watch out!!!  People can be more deceptive; a hurt now may result in a devastating payback later. Mind your own business and be straightforward with people.  Be careful out there- life is full of potential danger.  Don't look for it by doing something foolish!!!