3/6/10 Reading: Num.6:1-7:89, Mk.12:38-13:13, Ps.49:1-20, Prov.10:27-28

Posted on 03/06/2010. Filed under: March 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

1 Corinthians 13:3-7 "If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end."

Numbers 6-7:89

Numbers 6

Nazirite Vows

1-4 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel; tell them, If any of you, man or woman, wants to make a special Nazirite vow, consecrating yourself totally to God, you must not drink any wine or beer, no intoxicating drink of any kind, not even the juice of grapes—in fact, you must not even eat grapes or raisins. For the duration of the consecration, nothing from the grapevine—not even the seeds, not even the skin—may be eaten.

5 “Also, for the duration of the consecration you must not have your hair cut. Your long hair will be a continuing sign of holy separation to God.

6-7 “Also, for the duration of the consecration to God, you must not go near a corpse. Even if it’s the body of your father or mother, brother or sister, you must not ritually defile yourself because the sign of consecration to God is on your head.

8 “For the entire duration of your consecration you are holy to God.

9-12 “If someone should die suddenly in your presence, so that your consecrated head is ritually defiled, you must shave your head on the day of your purifying, that is, the seventh day. Then on the eighth day bring two doves or two pigeons to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priest will offer one for the Absolution-Offering and one for the Whole-Burnt-Offering, purifying you from the ritual contamination of the corpse. You resanctify your hair on that day and reconsecrate your Nazirite consecration to God by bringing a yearling lamb for a Compensation-Offering. You start over; the previous days don’t count because your consecration was ritually defiled.

13-17 “These are the instructions for the time set when your special consecration to God is up. First, you are to be brought to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Then you will present your offerings to God: a healthy yearling lamb for the Whole-Burnt-Offering, a healthy yearling ewe for an Absolution-Offering, a healthy ram for a Peace-Offering, a basket of unraised bread made of fine flour, loaves mixed with oil, and crackers spread with oil, along with your Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings. The priest will approach God and offer up your Absolution-Offering and Whole-Burnt-Offering. He will sacrifice the ram as a Peace-Offering to God with the basket of unraised bread, and, last of all, the Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

18 “At the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, shave off the hair you consecrated and put it in the fire that is burning under the Peace-Offering.

19-20 “After you have shaved the hair of your consecration, the priest will take a shoulder from the ram, boiled, and a piece of unraised bread and a cracker from the basket and place them in your hands. The priest will then wave them before God, a Wave-Offering. They are holy and belong to the priest, along with the breast that was waved and the thigh that was offered.

“Now you are free to drink wine.

21 “These are the instructions for Nazirites as they bring offerings to God in their vow of consecration, beyond their other offerings. They must carry out the vow they have vowed following the instructions for the Nazirite.”

The Aaronic Blessing

22-23 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, This is how you are to bless the People of Israel. Say to them,

24 God bless you and keep you,

25 God smile on you and gift you,

26 God look you full in the face
and make you prosper.

27 In so doing, they will place my name on the People of Israel—
I will confirm it by blessing them.”

Numbers 7

Offerings for the Dedication

1 When Moses finished setting up The Dwelling, he anointed it and consecrated it along with all that went with it. At the same time he anointed and consecrated the Altar and its accessories.

2-3 The leaders of Israel, the heads of the ancestral tribes who had carried out the census, brought offerings. They presented before God six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon from each pair of leaders and an ox from each leader.

4-5 God spoke to Moses: ”Receive these so that they can be used to transport the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites according to what they need for their work.”

6-9 Moses took the wagons and oxen and gave them to the Levites. He gave two wagons and four oxen to the Gershonites for their work and four wagons and eight oxen to the Merarites for their work. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest. Moses didn’t give any to the Kohathites because they had to carry the holy things for which they were responsible on their shoulders.

10-11 When the Altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the Altar because God had instructed Moses, “Each day one leader is to present his offering for the dedication of the Altar.”

12-13 On the first day, Nahshon son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

14 a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

15 a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

16 a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

17 This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab.

18-23 On the second day, Nethanel son of Zuar, the leader of Issachar, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Nethanel son of Zuar.

24-29 On the third day, Eliab son of Helon, the leader of the people of Zebulun, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Eliab son of Helon.

30-35 On the fourth day, Elizur son of Shedeur, the leader of the people of Reuben, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Elizur son of Shedeur.

36-41 On the fifth day, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, the leader of the people of Simeon, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai.

42-47 On the sixth day, Eliasaph son of Deuel, the leader of the people of Gad, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Eliasaph son of Deuel.

48-53 On the seventh day, Elishama son of Ammihud, the leader of the people of Ephraim, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Elishama son of Ammihud.

54-59 On the eighth day, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, the leader of the people of Manasseh, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Gamaliel son of Pedahzur.

60-65 On the ninth day, Abidan son of Gideoni, the leader of the people of Benjamin, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Abidan son of Gideoni.

66-71 On the tenth day, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai, the leader of the people of Dan, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai.

72-77 On the eleventh day, Pagiel son of Ocran, the leader of the people of Asher, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Pagiel son of Ocran.

78-83 On the twelfth day, Ahira son of Enan, the leader of the people of Naphtali, brought his offering. His offering was:

a silver plate weighing three and a quarter pounds and a silver bowl weighing one and three-quarter pounds (according to the standard Sanctuary weights), each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a Grain-Offering;

a gold vessel weighing four ounces, filled with incense;

a young bull, a ram, and a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering;

a he-goat for an Absolution-Offering;

two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs to be sacrificed as a Peace-Offering.

This was the offering of Ahira son of Enan.

84 These were the dedication offerings of the leaders of Israel for the anointing of the Altar:

twelve silver plates,
twelve silver bowls,
twelve gold vessels.

85-86 Each plate weighed three and a quarter pounds and each bowl one and three-quarter pounds. All the plates and bowls together weighed about sixty pounds (using the official Sanctuary weight). The twelve gold vessels filled with incense weighed four ounces each (using the official Sanctuary weight). Altogether the gold vessels weighed about three pounds.

87 The sum total of animals used for the Whole-Burnt-Offering together with the Grain-Offering:

twelve bulls,
twelve rams,
twelve yearling lambs.

For the Absolution-Offering:

twelve he-goats.

88 The sum total of animals used for the sacrifice of the Peace-Offering:

twenty-four bulls,
sixty rams,
sixty he-goats,
sixty yearling lambs.

These were the offerings for the dedication of the Altar after it was anointed.

89 When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with God, he heard the Voice speaking to him from between the two angel-cherubim above the Atonement-Cover on the Chest of The Testimony. He spoke with him.

Mark 12:38-13:13

38-40He continued teaching. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”

41-44Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

Mark 13

Doomsday Deceivers

1 As he walked away from the Temple, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at that stonework! Those buildings!”

2Jesus said, “You’re impressed by this grandiose architecture? There’s not a stone in the whole works that is not going to end up in a heap of rubble.” 3-4Later, as he was sitting on Mount Olives in full view of the Temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew got him off by himself and asked, “Tell us, when is this going to happen? What sign will we get that things are coming to a head?”

5-8Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming.

9-10“And watch out! They’re going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’re placed there as sentinels to truth. The Message has to be preached all across the world.

11“When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say. When the time comes, say what’s on your heart—the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.

12-13“It’s going to be brother killing brother, father killing child, children killing parents. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me.

“Stay with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.

Psalm 49:1-20

Psalm 49

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

1-2 Listen, everyone, listen— earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

3-4 I set plainspoken wisdom before you,
my heart-seasoned understandings of life.
I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise,
I solve life’s riddle with the help of a harp.

5-6 So why should I fear in bad times,
hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
demeaned by the arrogant rich?

7-9 Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
against the Black Hole.

10-11 Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
And to think they named counties after themselves!

12 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

13-15 This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
who only look out for themselves:
Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
They waste away to nothing—
nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
he reaches down and grabs me.

16-19 So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
where they’ll never see sunshine again.

20 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

Proverbs 10:27-28

27)  The Fear-of-God expands your life; a wicked life is a puny life.

28)  The aspirations of good people end in celebration; the ambitions of bad people crash.


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Saturday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.143:1-12, Eph.6:10-18, Ps.150:1-6, Lk.1:68-79

Posted on 03/06/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, March 2010 Readings |

2 Timothy 1:7 "That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible."

Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Psalm 143

Psalm 143

A David Psalm

1-2 Listen to this prayer of mine, God; pay attention to what I’m asking.
Answer me—you’re famous for your answers!
Do what’s right for me.
But don’t, please don’t, haul me into court;
not a person alive would be acquitted there.

3-6 The enemy hunted me down;
he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.
He put me in a black hole,
buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.
I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days,
went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,
Stretched out my hands to you,
as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.

7-10 Hurry with your answer, God!
I’m nearly at the end of my rope.
Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!
That would be certain death.
If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you.
Point out the road I must travel;
I’m all ears, all eyes before you.
Save me from my enemies, God—
you’re my only hope!
Teach me how to live to please you,
because you’re my God.
Lead me by your blessed Spirit
into cleared and level pastureland.

11-12 Keep up your reputation, God—give me life!
In your justice, get me out of this trouble!
In your great love, vanquish my enemies;
make a clean sweep of those who harass me.
And why? Because I’m your servant.

Ephesians 6:10-18

A Fight to the Finish

10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.13-18Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Psalm 150:1-6

Psalm 150

1-6 Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah!

Luke 1:68-79

The Canticle of Zechariah

68-79 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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3/5/10 Reading: Num.4:1-5:31, Mk.12:18-37, Ps.48:1-14, Prov.10:26

Posted on 03/05/2010. Filed under: March 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Isaiah 40:11 "Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, Hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture. The Creator of All You Can See or Imagine."

Numbers 4-5:31

Numbers 4

Duties of the Kohathites

1-3 God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “Number the Kohathite line of Levites by clan and family. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age, all who enter the ministry to work in the Tent of Meeting.

4 “This is the assigned work of the Kohathites in the Tent of Meeting: care of the most holy things.

5-6 “When the camp is ready to set out, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the covering curtain and cover the Chest of The Testimony with it. Then they are to cover this with a dolphin skin, spread a solid blue cloth on top, and insert the poles.

7-8 “Then they are to spread a blue cloth on the Table of the Presence and set the Table with plates, incense dishes, bowls, and jugs for drink offerings. The bread that is always there stays on the Table. They are to cover these with a scarlet cloth, and on top of that spread the dolphin skin, and insert the poles.

9-10 “They are to use a blue cloth to cover the light-giving Lampstand and the lamps, snuffers, trays, and the oil jars that go with it. Then they are to wrap it all in a covering of dolphin skin and place it on a carrying frame.

11 “They are to spread a blue cloth over the Gold Altar and cover it with dolphin skins and place it on a carrying frame.

12 “They are to take all the articles used in ministering in the Sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover them with dolphin skins, and place them on a carrying frame.

13-14 “They are to remove the ashes from the Altar and spread a purple cloth over it. They are to place on it all the articles used in ministering at the Altar—firepans, forks, shovels, bowls; everything used at the Altar—place them on the Altar, cover it with the dolphin skins, and insert the poles.

15 “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and the camp is ready to set out, the Kohathites are to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are in charge of carrying all the things that are in the Tent of Meeting.

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, is to be in charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular Grain-Offering, and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire Dwelling and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

17-20 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Don’t let the tribal families of the Kohathites be destroyed from among the Levites. Protect them so they will live and not die when they come near the most holy things. To protect them, Aaron and his sons are to precede them into the Sanctuary and assign each man his task and what he is to carry. But the Kohathites themselves must not go in to look at the holy things, not even a glance at them, or they will die.”

Duties of the Gershonites

21-23 God spoke to Moses: “Number the Gershonites by tribes according to their ancestral families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who enter the ministry of work in the Tent of Meeting.

24-28 “The Gershonites by family and clan will serve by carrying heavy loads: the curtains of the Sanctuary and the Tent of Meeting; the covering of the Tent and the outer covering of dolphin skins; the screens for the entrance to the Tent; the cords; and all the equipment used in its ministries. The Gershonites have the job of doing the work connected with these things. All their work of lifting and carrying and moving is to be done under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. Assign them specifically what they are to carry. This is the work of the Gershonite clans at the Tent of Meeting. Ithamar son of Aaron the priest is to supervise their work.

Duties of the Merarites

29-30 “Number the Merarites by their ancestral families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who enter the ministry of work at the Tent of Meeting.

31-33 “This is their assigned duty as they go to work at the Tent of Meeting: to carry the frames of The Dwelling, its crossbars, posts, and bases, as well as the posts of the surrounding Courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, cords, and all the equipment related to their use. Assign to each man exactly what he is to carry. This is the ministry of the Merarite clans as they work at the Tent of Meeting under the supervision of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.”
34-37 Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the congregation counted the Kohathites by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clans, were 2,750. This was the total from the Kohathite clans who served in the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded through Moses.

38-41 The Gershonites were counted by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clan and family, were 2,630. This was the total from the Gershonite clans who served in the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded.

42-45 The Merarites were counted by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clan, were 3,200. This was the total from the Merarite clans. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded through Moses.

46-49 So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the Tent of Meeting numbered 8,580. At God’s command through Moses, each man was assigned his work and told what to carry.

And that’s the story of their numbering, as God commanded Moses.

Numbers 5

Some Camp Rules

1-3 God spoke to Moses: “Command the People of Israel to ban from the camp anyone who has an infectious skin disease, anyone who has a discharge, and anyone who is ritually unclean from contact with a dead body. Ban male and female alike; send them outside the camp so that they won’t defile their camp, the place I live among them.”

4 The People of Israel did this, banning them from the camp. They did exactly what God had commanded through Moses.
5-10 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, When a man or woman commits any sin, the person has broken trust with God, is guilty, and must confess the sin. Full compensation plus twenty percent must be made to whoever was wronged. If the wronged person has no close relative who can receive the compensation, the compensation belongs to God and must be given to the priest, along with the ram by which atonement is made. All the sacred offerings that the People of Israel bring to a priest belong to the priest. Each person’s sacred offerings are his own, but what one gives to the priest stays with the priest.”
11-15 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, Say a man’s wife goes off and has an affair, is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, but her husband knows nothing about it even though she has defiled herself. And then, even though there was no witness and she wasn’t caught in the act, feelings of jealousy come over the husband and he suspects that his wife is impure. Even if she is innocent and his jealousy and suspicions are groundless, he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of two quarts of barley flour for her. He is to pour no oil on it or mix incense with it because it is a Grain-Offering for jealousy, a Grain-Offering for bringing the guilt out into the open.

16-22 “The priest then is to take her and have her stand in the presence of God. He is to take some holy water in a pottery jar and put some dust from the floor of The Dwelling in the water. After the priest has her stand in the presence of God he is to uncover her hair and place the exposure-offering in her hands, the Grain-Offering for jealousy, while he holds the bitter water that delivers a curse. Then the priest will put the woman under oath and say, ‘If no man has slept with you and you have not had an adulterous affair and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that delivers a curse not harm you. But if you have had an affair while married to your husband and have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband’—here the priest puts the woman under this curse—’may God cause your people to curse and revile you when he makes your womb shrivel and your belly swell. Let this water that delivers a curse enter your body so that your belly swells and your womb shrivels.’

“Then the woman shall say, ‘Amen. Amen.’

23-28 “The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash the words off into the bitter water. He then is to give the woman the bitter water that delivers a curse. This water will enter her body and cause acute pain. The priest then is to take from her hands a handful of the Grain-Offering for jealousy, wave it before God, and bring it to the Altar. The priest then is to take a handful of the Grain-Offering, using it as an exposure-offering, and burn it on the Altar; after this he is to make her drink the water. If she has defiled herself in being unfaithful to her husband, when she drinks the water that delivers a curse, it will enter her body and cause acute pain; her belly will swell and her womb shrivel. She will be cursed among her people. But if she has not defiled herself and is innocent of impurity, her name will be cleared and she will be able to have children.

29-31 “This is the law of jealousy in a case where a woman goes off and has an affair and defiles herself while married to her husband, or a husband is tormented with feelings of jealousy because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand in the presence of God and go through this entire procedure with her. The husband will be cleared of wrong, but the woman will pay for her wrong.”

Mark 12:18-37

Our Intimacies Will Be with God

18-23Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”

24-27Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”

The Most Important Commandment

28One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”

29-31Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

32-33The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”

34When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”

After that, no one else dared ask a question.

35-37While he was teaching in the Temple, Jesus asked, “How is it that the religion scholars say that the Messiah is David’s ‘son,’ when we all know that David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said,

God said to my Master,
“Sit here at my right hand
until I put your enemies under your feet.”
“David here designates the Messiah ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?”

The large crowd was delighted with what they heard.

Psalm 48:1-14

Psalm 48

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

1-3 God majestic, praise abounds in our God-city!
His sacred mountain,
breathtaking in its heights—earth’s joy.
Zion Mountain looms in the North,
city of the world-King.
God in his citadel peaks
impregnable.

4-6 The kings got together,
they united and came.
They took one look and shook their heads,
they scattered and ran away.
They doubled up in pain
like a woman having a baby.

7-8 You smashed the ships of Tarshish
with a storm out of the East.
We heard about it, then we saw it
with our eyes—
In God’s city of Angel Armies,
in the city our God
Set on firm foundations,
firm forever.

9-10 We pondered your love-in-action, God,
waiting in your temple:
Your name, God, evokes a train
of Hallelujahs wherever
It is spoken, near and far;
your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.

11 Be glad, Zion Mountain;
Dance, Judah’s daughters!
He does what he said he’d do!

12-14 Circle Zion, take her measure,
count her fortress peaks,
Gaze long at her sloping bulwark,
climb her citadel heights—
Then you can tell the next generation
detail by detail the story of God,
Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.

Proverbs 10:26

26)  A lazy employee will give you nothing but trouble; it’s vinegar in the mouth, smoke in the eyes.


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Friday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.103:1-22, Jon.2:1-9, Ps.149:1-9, Lk.1:66-79

Posted on 03/05/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, March 2010 Readings |

John 1:29-30 "The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I've been talking about, 'the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.'"

Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Psalm 103:1-22

A David Psalm

1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!

3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.

19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—

everything and everyone made by God.

And you, O my soul, bless God!

Jonah 2:1-9

Jonah 2

At the Bottom of the Sea

1-9 Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed:

“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.
He answered me.
From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’
You heard my cry.
You threw me into ocean’s depths,
into a watery grave,
With ocean waves, ocean breakers
crashing over me.
I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away,
thrown out, out of your sight.
I’ll never again lay eyes
on your Holy Temple.’
Ocean gripped me by the throat.
The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.
My head was all tangled in seaweed
at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.
I was as far down as a body can go,
and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—
Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,
O God, my God!
When my life was slipping away,
I remembered God,
And my prayer got through to you,
made it all the way to your Holy Temple.
Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,
walk away from their only true love.
But I’m worshiping you, God,
calling out in thanksgiving!
And I’ll do what I promised I’d do!
Salvation belongs to God!”

Psalm 149:1-9

Psalm 149

1-4 Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand-new song,
praise him in the company of all who love him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
Zion’s children exult in their King.
Let them praise his name in dance;
strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because God delights in his people,
festoons plain folk with salvation garlands!

5-9 Let true lovers break out in praise,
sing out from wherever they’re sitting,
Shout the high praises of God,
brandish their swords in the wild sword-dance—
A portent of vengeance on the God-defying nations,
a signal that punishment’s coming,
Their kings chained and hauled off to jail,
their leaders behind bars for good,
The judgment on them carried out to the letter
—and all who love God in the seat of honor!
Hallelujah!

Luke 1:68-79

Canticle of Zechariah

68-79 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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3/4/10 Reading: Num.2:1-3:51, Mk.11:27-12:17, Ps.47:1-9, Prov.10:24-25

Posted on 03/04/2010. Filed under: March 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

2 Timothy 4:1 "I can't impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule."

Numbers 2-3:51

Numbers 2

Marching Orders

1-2 God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “The People of Israel are to set up camp circling the Tent of Meeting and facing it. Each company is to camp under its distinctive tribal flag.”

3-4 To the east toward the sunrise are the companies of the camp of Judah under its flag, led by Nahshon son of Amminadab. His troops number 74,600.

5-6 The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them, led by Nethanel son of Zuar. His troops number 54,400.

7-8 And the tribe of Zebulun is next to them, led by Eliab son of Helon. His troops number 57,400.

9 The total number of men assigned to Judah, troop by troop, is 186,400. They will lead the march.

10-11 To the south are the companies of the camp of Reuben under its flag, led by Elizur son of Shedeur. His troops number 46,500.

12-13 The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them, led by Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai. His troops number 59,300.

14-15 And the tribe of Gad is next to them, led by Eliasaph son of Deuel. His troops number 45,650.

16 The total number of men assigned to Reuben, troop by troop, is 151,450. They are second in the order of the march.

17 The Tent of Meeting with the camp of the Levites takes its place in the middle of the march. Each tribe will march in the same order in which they camped, each under its own flag.

18-19 To the west are the companies of the camp of Ephraim under its flag, led by Elishama son of Ammihud. His troops number 40,500.

20-21 The tribe of Manasseh will set up camp next to them, led by Gamaliel son of Pedahzur. His troops number 32,200.

22-23 And next to him is the camp of Benjamin, led by Abidan son of Gideoni. His troops number 35,400.

24 The total number of men assigned to the camp of Ephraim, troop by troop, is 108,100. They are third in the order of the march.

25-26 To the north are the companies of the camp of Dan under its flag, led by Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. His troops number 62,700.

27-28 The tribe of Asher will camp next to them, led by Pagiel son of Ocran. His troops number 41,500.

29-30 And next to them is the tribe of Naphtali, led by Ahira son of Enan. His troops number 53,400.

31 The total number of men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out, under their flags, last in the line of the march.

32-33 These are the People of Israel, counted according to their ancestral families. The total number in the camps, counted troop by troop, comes to 603,550. Following God’s command to Moses, the Levites were not counted in with the rest of Israel.

34 The People of Israel did everything the way God commanded Moses: They camped under their respective flags; they marched by tribe with their ancestral families.

Numbers 3

The Levites

1 This is the family tree of Aaron and Moses at the time God spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai.

2-4 The names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar—anointed priests ordained to serve as priests. But Nadab and Abihu fell dead in the presence of God when they offered unauthorized sacrifice to him in the Wilderness of Sinai. They left no sons, and so only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father, Aaron. 5-10 God spoke to Moses. He said, “Bring forward the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron so they can help him. They shall work for him and the whole congregation at the Tent of Meeting by doing the work of The Dwelling. Their job is to be responsible for all the furnishings of The Dwelling, ministering to the affairs of The Dwelling as the People of Israel come to perform their duties. Turn the Levites over to Aaron and his sons; they are the ones assigned to work full time for him. Appoint Aaron and his sons to minister as priests; anyone else who tries to elbow his way in will be put to death.”

11-13 God spoke to Moses: “I have taken the Levites from among the People of Israel as a stand-in for every Israelite mother’s firstborn son. The Levites belong to me. All the firstborn are mine—when I killed all the firstborn in Egypt, I consecrated for my own use every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They belong to me. I am God.”

14-16 God spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai: “Count the Levites by their ancestral families and clans. Count every male a month old and older.” Moses counted them just as he was instructed by the mouth of God.

17 These are the names of the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

18 These are the names of the Gershonite clans: Libni and Shimei.

19 The sons of Kohath by clan: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

20 The sons of Merari by clan: Mahli and Mushi.

These are the clans of Levi, family by family.

21-26 Gershon was ancestor to the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites, known as the Gershonite clans. All the males who were one month and older numbered 7,500. The Gershonite clans camped on the west, behind The Dwelling, led by Eliasaph son of Lael. At the Tent of Meeting the Gershonites were in charge of maintaining The Dwelling and its tent, its coverings, the screen at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the hangings of the Courtyard, the screen at the entrance to the Courtyard that surrounded The Dwelling and Altar, and the cords—in short, everything having to do with these things.

27-32 Kohath was ancestor to the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites. These were known as the Kohathite clans. All the males who were one month and older numbered 8,600. The Kohathites were in charge of the Sanctuary. The Kohathite clans camped on the south side of The Dwelling, led by Elizaphan son of Uzziel. They were in charge of caring for the Chest, the Table, the Lampstand, the Altars, the articles of the Sanctuary used in worship, and the screen—everything having to do with these things. Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, supervised the leaders of the Levites and those in charge of the Sanctuary.

33-37 Merari was ancestor to the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites, known as the Merarite clans. The males who were one month and older numbered 6,200. They were led by Zuriel son of Abihail and camped on the north side of The Dwelling. The Merarites were in charge of the frames of The Dwelling, its crossbars, posts, bases, and all its equipment—everything having to do with these things, as well as the posts of the surrounding Courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, and cords.

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons camped to the east of The Dwelling, toward the rising sun, in front of the Tent of Meeting. They were in charge of maintaining the Sanctuary for the People of Israel and the rituals of worship. Anyone else who tried to perform these duties was to be put to death.

39 The sum total of Levites counted at God’s command by Moses and Aaron, clan by clan, all the males one month and older, numbered 22,000.

40-41 God spoke to Moses: “Count all the firstborn males of the People of Israel who are one month and older. List their names. Then set apart for me the Levites—remember, I am God—in place of all the firstborn among the People of Israel, also the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. I am God.”

42-43 So, just as God commanded him, Moses counted all the firstborn of the People of Israel. The total of firstborn males one month and older, listed by name, numbered 22,273.

44-48 Again God spoke to Moses. He said, “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are mine, I am God. Redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of Levites by collecting five shekels for each one, using the Sanctuary shekel (the shekel weighing twenty gerahs). Give that money to Aaron and his sons for the redemption of the excess number of Israelites.”

49-51 So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. From the 273 firstborn Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels according to the Sanctuary shekel. Moses turned over the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of God.

Mark 11:27-12:17

His Credentials

27-28Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

29-30Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I’ll present my credentials. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me.”

31-33They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John; if we say ‘humans,’ we’ll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they said.

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”

Mark 12

The Story About a Vineyard

1-2 Then Jesus started telling them stories. “A man planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, erected a watchtower, turned it over to the farmhands, and went off on a trip. At the time for harvest, he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect his profits.

3-5“They grabbed him, beat him up, and sent him off empty-handed. So he sent another servant. That one they tarred and feathered. He sent another and that one they killed. And on and on, many others. Some they beat up, some they killed.

6“Finally there was only one left: a beloved son. In a last-ditch effort, he sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’

7-8“But those farmhands saw their chance. They rubbed their hands together in greed and said, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him over the fence.

9-11“What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others. Read it for yourselves in Scripture:

That stone the masons threw out
is now the cornerstone!
This is God’s work;
we rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!”

12They wanted to lynch him then and there but, intimidated by public opinion, held back. They knew the story was about them. They got away from there as fast as they could.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

13-14They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

15-16He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”

“Caesar,” they said.

17Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”

Their mouths hung open, speechless.

Psalm 47:1-9

Psalm 47

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

1-9 Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!
God Most High is stunning,
astride land and ocean.
He crushes hostile people,
puts nations at our feet.
He set us at the head of the line,
prize-winning Jacob, his favorite.
Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,
a ram’s horn blast at the summit.
Sing songs to God, sing out!
Sing to our King, sing praise!
He’s Lord over earth,
so sing your best songs to God.
God is Lord of godless nations—
sovereign, he’s King of the mountain.
Princes from all over are gathered,
people of Abraham’s God.
The powers of earth are God’s—
he soars over all.

Proverbs 10:24-25

24)  The nightmares of the wicked come true; what the good people desire, they get.

25)  When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.


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Thursday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.88:1-18, Isa.26:9-21, Ps.148:1-14, Lk.1:68-79

Posted on 03/04/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, March 2010 Readings |

Joel 2:12-13 "But there's also this, it's not too late - God's personal Message! - "Come back to me and really mean it! Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!" Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here's why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe."

Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised.

Psalm 88:1-18

A Korah Prayer of Heman

1-9 God, you’re my last chance of the day. I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
I’m battered senseless by your rage,
relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
You turned my friends against me,
made me horrible to them.
I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
blinded by tears of pain and frustration.

9-12 I call to you, God; all day I call.
I wring my hands, I plead for help.
Are the dead a live audience for your miracles?
Do ghosts ever join the choirs that praise you?
Does your love make any difference in a graveyard?
Is your faithful presence noticed in the corridors of hell?
Are your marvelous wonders ever seen in the dark,
your righteous ways noticed in the Land of No Memory?

13-18 I’m standing my ground, God, shouting for help,
at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak.
Why, God, do you turn a deaf ear?
Why do you make yourself scarce?
For as long as I remember I’ve been hurting;
I’ve taken the worst you can hand out, and I’ve had it.
Your wildfire anger has blazed through my life;
I’m bleeding, black-and-blue.
You’ve attacked me fiercely from every side,
raining down blows till I’m nearly dead.
You made lover and neighbor alike dump me;
the only friend I have left is Darkness.

Isaiah 26:9-21

9-10 Through the night my soul longs for you.
Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.
When your decisions are on public display,
everyone learns how to live right.
If the wicked are shown grace,
they don’t seem to get it.
In the land of right living, they persist in wrong living,
blind to the splendor of God.

11-15You hold your hand up high, God,
but they don’t see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
to see your zealous love for your people.
Shame them. Light a fire under them.
Get the attention of these enemies of yours.
God, order a peaceful and whole life for us
because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us.
O God, our God, we’ve had other masters rule us,
but you’re the only Master we’ve ever known.
The dead don’t talk,
ghosts don’t walk,
Because you’ve said, “Enough—that’s all for you,”
and wiped them off the books.
But the living you make larger than life.
The more life you give, the more glory you display,
and stretch the borders to accommodate more living!

16-18O God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble,
when your discipline was so heavy
they could barely whisper a prayer.
Like a woman having a baby,
writhing in distress, screaming her pain
as the baby is being born,
That’s how we were because of you, O God.
We were pregnant full-term.
We writhed in labor but bore no baby.
We gave birth to wind.
Nothing came of our labor.
We produced nothing living.
We couldn’t save the world.

19But friends, your dead will live,
your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
giving birth to the dead.

20-21Come, my people, go home
and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.

Psalm 148:1-14

1-5 Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven,
praise him from the mountaintops;
Praise him, all you his angels,
praise him, all you his warriors,
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, you morning stars;
Praise him, high heaven,
praise him, heavenly rain clouds;
Praise, oh let them praise the name of God—
he spoke the word, and there they were!

6 He set them in place
from all time to eternity;
He gave his orders,
and that’s it!

7-12 Praise God from earth,
you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and ice,
hurricanes obeying his orders;
Mountains and all hills,
apple orchards and cedar forests;
Wild beasts and herds of cattle,
snakes, and birds in flight;
Earth’s kings and all races,
leaders and important people,
Robust men and women in their prime,
and yes, graybeards and little children.

13-14 Let them praise the name of God—
it’s the only Name worth praising.
His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky;
he’s built a monument—his very own people!

Praise from all who love God!
Israel’s children, intimate friends of God.
Hallelujah!

Luke 1:68-79

Canticle of Zechariah

68-79 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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3/3/10 Readings: Lev.27:14-Num.1:54, Mk.11:1-26, Ps.46:1-11, Prov.10:23

Posted on 03/03/2010. Filed under: March 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Luke 22:41-42 "He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?"

Leviticus 27:14 – Numbers 1:54

14-15 “If a man dedicates his house to God, into the possession of the Sanctuary, the priest assesses its value, setting it either high or low. Whatever value the priest sets, that’s what it is. If the man wants to buy it back, he must add twenty percent to its price and then it’s his again.

16-21 “If a man dedicates to God part of his family land, its value is to be set according to the amount of seed that is needed for it at the rate of fifty shekels of silver to six bushels of barley seed. If he dedicates his field during the year of Jubilee, the set value stays. But if he dedicates it after the Jubilee, the priest will compute the value according to the years left until the next Jubilee, reducing the value proportionately. If the one dedicating it wants to buy it back, he must add twenty percent to its valuation, and then it’s his again. But if he doesn’t redeem it or sells the field to someone else, it can never be bought back. When the field is released in the Jubilee, it becomes holy to God, the possession of the Sanctuary, God’s field. It goes into the hands of the priests.

22-25 “If a man dedicates to God a field he has bought, a field which is not part of the family land, the priest will compute its proportionate value in relation to the next year of Jubilee. The man must pay its value on the spot as something that is now holy to God, belonging to the Sanctuary. In the year of Jubilee it goes back to its original owner, the man from whom he bought it. The valuations will be reckoned by the Sanctuary shekel, at twenty gerahs to the shekel.

26-27 “No one is allowed to dedicate the firstborn of an animal; the firstborn, as firstborn, already belongs to God. No matter if it’s cattle or sheep, it already belongs to God. If it’s one of the ritually unclean animals, he can buy it back at its assessed value by adding twenty percent to it. If he doesn’t redeem it, it is to be sold at its assessed value.

28 “But nothing that a man irrevocably devotes to God from what belongs to him, whether human or animal or family land, may be either sold or bought back. Everything devoted is holy to the highest degree; it’s God’s inalienable property.

29 “No human who has been devoted to destruction can be redeemed. He must be put to death.
30-33 “A tenth of the land’s produce, whether grain from the ground or fruit from the trees, is God’s. It is holy to God. If a man buys back any of the tenth he has given, he must add twenty percent to it. A tenth of the entire herd and flock, every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod, is holy to God. He is not permitted to pick out the good from the bad or make a substitution. If he dishonestly makes a substitution, both animals, the original and the substitute, become the possession of the Sanctuary and cannot be redeemed.”

34 These are the commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai for the People of Israel.

Numbers 1

Census in the Wilderness of Sinai

1-5 God spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai at the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month in the second year after they had left Egypt. He said, “Number the congregation of the People of Israel by clans and families, writing down the names of every male. You and Aaron are to register, company by company, every man who is twenty years and older who is able to fight in the army. Pick one man from each tribe who is head of his family to help you. These are the names of the men who will help you:

from Reuben: Elizur son of Shedeur

6 from Simeon: Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai

7 from Judah: Nahshon son of Amminadab

8 from Issachar: Nethanel son of Zuar

9 from Zebulun: Eliab son of Helon

10 from the sons of Joseph,
from Ephraim: Elishama son of Ammihud
from Manasseh: Gamaliel son of Pedahzur

11 from Benjamin: Abidan son of Gideoni

12 from Dan: Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai

13 from Asher: Pagiel son of Ocran

14 from Gad: Eliasaph son of Deuel

15 from Naphtali: Ahira son of Enan.”

16 These were the men chosen from the congregation, leaders of their ancestral tribes, heads of Israel’s military divisions.

17-19 Moses and Aaron took these men who had been named to help and gathered the whole congregation together on the first day of the second month. The people registered themselves in their tribes according to their ancestral families, putting down the names of those who were twenty years old and older, just as God commanded Moses. He numbered them in the Wilderness of Sinai.

20-21 The line of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by tribes according to their ancestral families. The tribe of Reuben numbered 46,500.

22-23 The line of Simeon: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Simeon numbered 59,300.

24-25 The line of Gad: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Gad numbered 45,650.

26-27 The line of Judah: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Judah numbered 74,600.

28-29 The line of Issachar: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Issachar numbered 54,400.

30-31 The line of Zebulun: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Zebulun numbered 57,400.

32-33 The line of Joseph: From son Ephraim the men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Ephraim numbered 40,500.

34-35 And from son Manasseh the men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Manasseh numbered 32,200.

36-37 The line of Benjamin: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Benjamin numbered 35,400.

38-39 The line of Dan: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Dan numbered 62,700.

40-41 The line of Asher: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Asher numbered 41,500.

42-43 The line of Naphtali: The men were counted off head by head, every male twenty years and older who was able to fight in the army, registered by clans and families. The tribe of Naphtali numbered 53,400.

44-46 These are the numbers of those registered by Moses and Aaron, registered with the help of the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each representing his ancestral family. The sum total of the People of Israel twenty years old and over who were able to fight in the army, counted by ancestral family, was 603,550.

47-51 The Levites, however, were not counted by their ancestral family along with the others. God had told Moses, “The tribe of Levi is an exception: Don’t register them. Don’t count the tribe of Levi; don’t include them in the general census of the People of Israel. Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of The Dwelling of The Testimony—over all its furnishings and everything connected with it. Their job is to carry The Dwelling and all its furnishings, maintain it, and camp around it. When it’s time to move The Dwelling, the Levites will take it down, and when it’s time to set it up, the Levites will do it. Anyone else who even goes near it will be put to death.

52-53 “The rest of the People of Israel will set up their tents in companies, every man in his own camp under its own flag. But the Levites will set up camp around The Dwelling of The Testimony so that wrath will not fall on the community of Israel. The Levites are responsible for the security of The Dwelling of The Testimony.”

54 The People of Israel did everything that God commanded Moses. They did it all.

Mark 11:1-26

Mark 11

Entering Jerusalem on a Colt

1-3When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.'”

4-7They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, “What are you doing untying that colt?” The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.

8-10The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,

Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!
Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in highest heaven!

11He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.

The Cursed Fig Tree

12-14As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: “No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!” And his disciples overheard him.

15-17They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants. He didn’t let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple. And then he taught them, quoting this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations;
You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.

18The high priests and religion scholars heard what was going on and plotted how they might get rid of him. They panicked, for the entire crowd was carried away by his teaching.

19At evening, Jesus and his disciples left the city.

20-21In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”

22-25Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

Psalm 46:1-11

Psalm 46

A Song of the Sons of Korah

1-3 God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
but Earth does anything he says.

7 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”

11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Proverbs 10:23

23 )  An empty-head thinks mischief is fun, but a mindful person relishes wisdom.


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Wednesday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.63:1-11, Hab.3:2-19, Ps.91:1-16, Lk.1:68-79

Posted on 03/03/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, March 2010 Readings |

Luke 6:28 "When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person."

Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Psalm 63:1-11

Psalm 63

A David Psalm, When He Was out in the Judean Wilderness

1 God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.

2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
I’m free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post.

9-11 Those who are out to get me are marked for doom,
marked for death, bound for hell.
They’ll die violent deaths;
jackals will tear them limb from limb.
But the king is glad in God;
his true friends spread the joy,
While small-minded gossips
are gagged for good.

Habakkuk 3:2-19

God Racing on the Crest of the Waves

2 God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
remember mercy.

3-7God’s on his way again,
retracing the old salvation route,
Coming up from the south through Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
Skies are blazing with his splendor,
his praises sounding through the earth,
His cloud-brightness like dawn, exploding, spreading,
forked-lightning shooting from his hand—
what power hidden in that fist!
Plague marches before him,
pestilence at his heels!
He stops. He shakes Earth.
He looks around. Nations tremble.
The age-old mountains fall to pieces;
ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon.
The paths God takes are older
than the oldest mountains and hills.
I saw everyone worried, in a panic:
Old wilderness adversaries,
Cushan and Midian, were terrified,
hoping he wouldn’t notice them.

8-16God, is it River you’re mad at?
Angry at old River?
Were you raging at Sea when you rode
horse and chariot through to salvation?
You unfurled your bow
and let loose a volley of arrows.
You split Earth with rivers.
Mountains saw what was coming.
They twisted in pain.
Flood Waters poured in.
Ocean roared and reared huge waves.
Sun and Moon stopped in their tracks.
Your flashing arrows stopped them,
your lightning-strike spears impaled them.
Angry, you stomped through Earth.
Furious, you crushed the godless nations.
You were out to save your people,
to save your specially chosen people.
You beat the stuffing
out of King Wicked,
Stripped him naked
from head to toe,
Set his severed head on his own spear
and blew away his army.
Scattered they were to the four winds—
and ended up food for the sharks!
You galloped through the Sea on your horses,
racing on the crest of the waves.
When I heard it, my stomach did flips.
I stammered and stuttered.
My bones turned to water.
I staggered and stumbled.
I sit back and wait for Doomsday
to descend on our attackers.

17-19Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Psalm 91:1-16

Psalm 91

1-13You who sit down in the High God’s presence,

spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”

Luke 1:68-79

Canticle of Zechariah

68-79 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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3/2/10 Reading: Lev.25:47-27:13, Mk.10:32-52, Ps.45:1-17, Prov.10:22

Posted on 03/02/2010. Filed under: March 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Revelation 12:1-6 "A great Sign appeared in Heaven: a Woman dressed all in sunlight, standing on the moon, and crowned with Twelve Stars. She was giving birth to a Child and cried out in the pain of childbirth. And then another Sign alongside the first: a huge and fiery Dragon! It had seven heads and ten horns, a crown on each of the seven heads. With one flick of its tail it knocked a third of the Stars from the sky and dumped them on earth. The Dragon crouched before the Woman in childbirth, poised to eat up the Child when it came. The Woman gave birth to a Son who will shepherd all nations with an iron rod. Her Son was seized and placed safely before God on his Throne. The Woman herself escaped to the desert to a place of safety prepared by God, all comforts provided her for 1,260 days."

Leviticus 25:47-27:13

47-53 “If a foreigner or temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your brothers becomes poor and sells himself to the foreigner who lives among you or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, he still has the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may buy him back. An uncle or cousin or any close relative of his extended family may redeem him. Or, if he gets the money together, he can redeem himself. What happens then is that he and his owner count out the time from the year he sold himself to the year of Jubilee; the buy-back price is set according to the wages of a hired hand for that number of years. If many years remain before the Jubilee, he must pay back a larger share of his purchase price, but if only a few years remain until the Jubilee, he is to calculate his redemption price accordingly. He is to be treated as a man hired from year to year. You must make sure that his owner does not tyrannize him.

54-55 “If he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he goes free in the year of Jubilee, he and his children, because the People of Israel are my servants, my servants whom I brought out of Egypt. I am God, your God.

Leviticus 26

1 “Don’t make idols for yourselves; don’t set up an image or a sacred pillar for yourselves, and don’t place a carved stone in your land that you can bow down to in worship. I am God, your

God.

2 “Keep my Sabbaths; treat my Sanctuary with reverence. I am God.

“If You Live by My Decrees…”

3-5 “If you live by my decrees and obediently keep my commandments, I will send the rains in their seasons, the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. You will thresh until the grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting time; you’ll have more than enough to eat and will live safe and secure in your land.

6-10 “I’ll make the country a place of peace—you’ll be able to go to sleep at night without fear; I’ll get rid of the wild beasts; I’ll eliminate war. You’ll chase out your enemies and defeat them: Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand and do away with them. I’ll give you my full attention: I’ll make sure you prosper, make sure you grow in numbers, and keep my covenant with you in good working order. You’ll still be eating from last year’s harvest when you have to clean out the barns to make room for the new crops.

11-13 “I’ll set up my residence in your neighborhood; I won’t avoid or shun you; I’ll stroll through your streets. I’ll be your God; you’ll be my people. I am God, your personal God who rescued you from Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians. I ripped off the harness of your slavery so that you can move about freely.

“But If You Refuse to Obey Me…”

14-17 “But if you refuse to obey me and won’t observe my commandments, despising my decrees and holding my laws in contempt by your disobedience, making a shambles of my covenant, I’ll step in and pour on the trouble: debilitating disease, high fevers, blindness, your life leaking out bit by bit. You’ll plant seed but your enemies will eat the crops. I’ll turn my back on you and stand by while your enemies defeat you. People who hate you will govern you. You’ll run scared even when there’s no one chasing you.

18-20 “And if none of this works in getting your attention, I’ll discipline you seven times over for your sins. I’ll break your strong pride: I’ll make the skies above you like a sheet of tin and the ground under you like cast iron. No matter how hard you work, nothing will come of it: No crops out of the ground, no fruit off the trees.

21-22 “If you defy me and refuse to listen, your punishment will be seven times more than your sins: I’ll set wild animals on you; they’ll rob you of your children, kill your cattle, and decimate your numbers until you’ll think you are living in a ghost town.

23-26 “And if even this doesn’t work and you refuse my discipline and continue your defiance, then it will be my turn to defy you. I, yes I, will punish you for your sins seven times over: I’ll let war loose on you, avenging your breaking of the covenant; when you huddle in your cities for protection, I’ll send a deadly epidemic on you and you’ll be helpless before your enemies; when I cut off your bread supply, ten women will bake bread in one oven and ration it out. You’ll eat, but barely—no one will get enough.

27-35 “And if this—even this!—doesn’t work and you still won’t listen, still defy me, I’ll have had enough and in hot anger will defy you, punishing you for your sins seven times over: famine will be so severe that you’ll end up cooking and eating your sons in stews and your daughters in barbecues; I’ll smash your sex-and-religion shrines and all the paraphernalia that goes with them, and then stack your corpses and the idol-corpses in the same piles—I’ll abhor you; I’ll turn your cities into rubble; I’ll clean out your sanctuaries; I’ll hold my nose at the “pleasing aroma” of your sacrifices. I’ll turn your land into a lifeless moonscape—your enemies who come in to take over will be shocked at what they see. I’ll scatter you all over the world and keep after you with the point of my sword in your backs. There’ll be nothing left in your land, nothing going on in your cities. With you gone and dispersed in the countries of your enemies, the land, empty of you, will finally get a break and enjoy its Sabbath years. All the time it’s left there empty, the land will get rest, the Sabbaths it never got when you lived there.

36-39 “As for those among you still alive, I’ll give them over to fearful timidity —even the rustle of a leaf will throw them into a panic. They’ll run here and there, back and forth, as if running for their lives even though no one is after them, tripping and falling over one another in total confusion. You won’t stand a chance against an enemy. You’ll perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will eat you up. Any who are left will slowly rot away in the enemy lands. Rot. And all because of their sins, their sins compounded by their ancestors’ sins.

“On the Other Hand, If They Confess…”

40-42 “On the other hand, if they confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors, their treacherous betrayal, the defiance that set off my defiance that sent them off into enemy lands; if by some chance they soften their hard hearts and make amends for their sin, I’ll remember my covenant with Jacob, I’ll remember my covenant with Isaac, and, yes, I’ll remember my covenant with Abraham. And I’ll remember the land.

43-45 “The land will be empty of them and enjoy its Sabbaths while they’re gone. They’ll pay for their sins because they refused my laws and treated my decrees with contempt. But in spite of their behavior, while they are among their enemies I won’t reject or abhor or destroy them completely. I won’t break my covenant with them: I am God, their God. For their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I, with all the nations watching, brought out of Egypt in order to be their God. I am God.”

46 These are the decrees, laws, and instructions that God established between himself and the People of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 27

Vows, Dedications, and Redemptions

1-8 God spoke to Moses: He said, “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, If anyone wants to vow the value of a person to the service of God, set the value of a man between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the Sanctuary shekel. For a woman the valuation is thirty shekels. If the person is between the ages of five and twenty, set the value at twenty shekels for a male and ten shekels for a female. If the person is between one month and five years, set the value at five shekels of silver for a boy and three shekels of silver for a girl. If the person is over sixty, set the value at fifteen shekels for a man and ten shekels for a woman. If anyone is too poor to pay the stated amount, he is to present the person to the priest, who will then set the value for him according to what the person making the vow can afford.

9-13 “If he vowed an animal that is acceptable as an offering to God, the animal is given to God and becomes the property of the Sanctuary. He must not exchange or substitute a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; if he should dishonestly substitute one animal for another, both the original and the substitute become property of the Sanctuary. If what he vowed is a ritually unclean animal, one that is not acceptable as an offering to God, the animal must be shown to the priest, who will set its value, either high or low. Whatever the priest sets will be its value. If the owner changes his mind and wants to redeem it, he must add twenty percent to its value.

Mark 10:32-52

32-34Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid. He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.”

The Highest Places of Honor

35James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”

36“What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”

37“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”

38Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?

39-40“Sure,” they said. “Why not?”

Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.

41-45When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.

46-48They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”

49-50Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”

They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.

51Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52“On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you.”

In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.

Psalm 45:1-17

Psalm 45

A Wedding Song of the Sons of Korah

1 My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness.
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words:

2-4 “You’re the handsomest of men;
every word from your lips is sheer grace,
and God has blessed you, blessed you so much.
Strap your sword to your side, warrior!
Accept praise! Accept due honor!
Ride majestically! Ride triumphantly!
Ride on the side of truth!
Ride for the righteous meek!

4-5 “Your instructions are glow-in-the-dark;
you shoot sharp arrows
Into enemy hearts; the king’s
foes lie down in the dust, beaten.

6-7 “Your throne is God’s throne,
ever and always;
The scepter of your royal rule
measures right living.
You love the right
and hate the wrong.
And that is why God, your very own God,
poured fragrant oil on your head,
Marking you out as king
from among your dear companions.

8-9 “Your ozone-drenched garments
are fragrant with mountain breeze.
Chamber music—from the throne room—
makes you want to dance.
Kings’ daughters are maids in your court,
the Bride glittering with golden jewelry.

10-12 “Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.
Since he’s your lord, adore him.
Wedding gifts pour in from Tyre;
rich guests shower you with presents.”

13-15 (Her wedding dress is dazzling,
lined with gold by the weavers;
All her dresses and robes
are woven with gold.
She is led to the king,
followed by her virgin companions.
A procession of joy and laughter!
a grand entrance to the king’s palace!)

16-17 “Set your mind now on sons—
don’t dote on father and grandfather.
You’ll set your sons up as princes
all over the earth.
I’ll make you famous for generations;
you’ll be the talk of the town
for a long, long time.”

Proverbs 10:22

22)  God’s blessing makes life rich; nothing we do can improve on God.


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Tuesday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.38:1-22, 1 Sam.2:1-10, Ps.149:1-9, Lk.1:68-79

Posted on 03/02/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, March 2010 Readings |

Colossians 4:2 "Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude."

Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Psalm 38:1-22

Psalm 38

A David Psalm

1-2 Take a deep breath, God; calm down— don’t be so hasty with your punishing rod.
Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood;
my backside smarts from your caning.

3-4 I’ve lost twenty pounds in two months
because of your accusation.
My bones are brittle as dry sticks
because of my sin.
I’m swamped by my bad behavior,
collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.

5-8 The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face
feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,
my body is a wreck.
I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—
my life is a vomit of groans.

9-16 Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight,
my groans an old story to you.
My heart’s about to break;
I’m a burned-out case.
Cataracts blind me to God and good;
old friends avoid me like the plague.
My cousins never visit,
my neighbors stab me in the back.
My competitors blacken my name,
devoutly they pray for my ruin.
But I’m deaf and mute to it all,
ears shut, mouth shut.
I don’t hear a word they say,
don’t speak a word in response.
What I do, God, is wait for you,
wait for my Lord, my God—you will answer!
I wait and pray so they won’t laugh me off,
won’t smugly strut off when I stumble.

17-20 I’m on the edge of losing it—
the pain in my gut keeps burning.
I’m ready to tell my story of failure,
I’m no longer smug in my sin.
My enemies are alive and in action,
a lynch mob after my neck.
I give out good and get back evil
from God-haters who can’t stand a God-lover.

21-22 Don’t dump me, God;
my God, don’t stand me up.
Hurry and help me;
I want some wide-open space in my life!

1 Samuel 2:1-10

1 Samuel 2

1 Hannah prayed: I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation.

2-5 Nothing and no one is holy like God,
no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously—
not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces,
while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts,
while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children,
while the mother of many is bereft.
6-10 God brings death and God brings life,
brings down to the grave and raises up.
God brings poverty and God brings wealth;
he lowers, he also lifts up.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s;
he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step,
but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark.
No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle!
God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky,
crashed in a heap and burned.
God will set things right all over the earth,
he’ll give strength to his king,
he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!

Psalm 149:1-9

Psalm 149

1-4 Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand-new song,
praise him in the company of all who love him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
Zion’s children exult in their King.
Let them praise his name in dance;
strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because God delights in his people,
festoons plain folk with salvation garlands!

5-9 Let true lovers break out in praise,
sing out from wherever they’re sitting,
Shout the high praises of God,
brandish their swords in the wild sword-dance—
A portent of vengeance on the God-defying nations,
a signal that punishment’s coming,
Their kings chained and hauled off to jail,
their leaders behind bars for good,
The judgment on them carried out to the letter
—and all who love God in the seat of honor!
Hallelujah!

Luke 1:68-79

Canticle of Zechariah

68-79 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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3/1/10 Reading: Lev.24:1-25:46, Mk.10:13-31, Ps.44:9-26, Prov.10:20-21

Posted on 03/01/2010. Filed under: March 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Deuteronomy 15:4-6 "There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. Oh yes—God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won't borrow from any; you'll rule over many nations but none will rule over you."

Leviticus 24-25:46

Leviticus 24

Light and Bread

1-4 God spoke to Moses: “Order the People of Israel to bring you virgin olive oil for light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Aaron is in charge of keeping these lamps burning in front of the curtain that screens The Testimony in the Tent of Meeting from evening to morning continually before God. This is a perpetual decree down through the generations. Aaron is responsible for keeping the lamps burning continually on the Lampstand of pure gold before God.

5-9 “Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using about four quarts of flour to a loaf. Arrange them in two rows of six each on the Table of pure gold before God. Along each row spread pure incense, marking the bread as a memorial; it is a gift to God. Regularly, every Sabbath, this bread is to be set before God, a perpetual covenantal response from Israel. The bread then goes to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a Holy Place. It is their most holy share from the gifts to God. This is a perpetual decree.”
10-12 One day the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites. A fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name of God and cursed. They brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put him in custody waiting for God’s will to be revealed to them.

13-16 Then God spoke to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. Have all those who heard him place their hands on his head; then have the entire congregation stone him. Then tell the Israelites, Anyone who curses God will be held accountable; anyone who blasphemes the Name of God must be put to death. The entire congregation must stone him. It makes no difference whether he is a foreigner or a native, if he blasphemes the Name, he will be put to death.

17-22 “Anyone who hits and kills a fellow human must be put to death. Anyone who kills someone’s animal must make it good—a life for a life. Anyone who injures his neighbor will get back the same as he gave: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. What he did to hurt that person will be done to him. Anyone who hits and kills an animal must make it good, but whoever hits and kills a fellow human will be put to death. And no double standards: the same rule goes for foreigners and natives. I am God, your God.”

23 Moses then spoke to the People of Israel. They brought the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The People of Israel followed the orders God had given Moses.

Leviticus 25

“The Land Will Observe a Sabbath to God”

1-7 God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter the land which I am going to give you, the land will observe a Sabbath to God. Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a Sabbath to God; you will not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Don’t reap what grows of itself; don’t harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land gets a year of complete and total rest. But you can eat from what the land volunteers during the Sabbath year—you and your men and women servants, your hired hands, and the foreigners who live in the country, and, of course, also your livestock and the wild animals in the land can eat from it. Whatever the land volunteers of itself can be eaten.

“The Fiftieth Year Shall Be a Jubilee for You”

8-12 “Count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years: Seven Sabbaths of years adds up to forty-nine years. Then sound loud blasts on the ram’s horn on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement. Sound the ram’s horn all over the land. Sanctify the fiftieth year; make it a holy year. Proclaim freedom all over the land to everyone who lives in it—a Jubilee for you: Each person will go back to his family’s property and reunite with his extended family. The fiftieth year is your Jubilee year: Don’t sow; don’t reap what volunteers itself in the fields; don’t harvest the untended vines because it’s the Jubilee and a holy year for you. You’re permitted to eat from whatever volunteers itself in the fields.

13 “In this year of Jubilee everyone returns home to his family property.

14-17 “If you sell or buy property from one of your countrymen, don’t cheat him. Calculate the purchase price on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. He is obliged to set the sale price on the basis of the number of harvests remaining until the next Jubilee. The more years left, the more money; you can raise the price. But the fewer years left, the less money; decrease the price. What you are buying and selling in fact is the number of crops you’re going to harvest. Don’t cheat each other. Fear your God. I am God, your God.

18-22 “Keep my decrees and observe my laws and you will live secure in the land. The land will yield its fruit; you will have all you can eat and will live safe and secure. Do I hear you ask, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant or harvest?’ I assure you, I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant in the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and continue until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.

23-24 “The land cannot be sold permanently because the land is mine and you are foreigners—you’re my tenants. You must provide for the right of redemption for any of the land that you own.

25-28 “If one of your brothers becomes poor and has to sell any of his land, his nearest relative is to come and buy back what his brother sold. If a man has no one to redeem it but he later prospers and earns enough for its redemption, he is to calculate the value since he sold it and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it; he can then go back to his own land. If he doesn’t get together enough money to repay him, what he sold remains in the possession of the buyer until the year of Jubilee. In the Jubilee it will be returned and he can go back and live on his land.

29-31 “If a man sells a house in a walled city, he retains the right to buy it back for a full year after the sale. At any time during that year he can redeem it. But if it is not redeemed before the full year has passed, it becomes the permanent possession of the buyer and his descendants. It is not returned in the Jubilee. However, houses in unwalled villages are treated the same as fields. They can be redeemed and have to be returned at the Jubilee.

32-34 “As to the Levitical cities, houses in the cities owned by the Levites are always subject to redemption. Levitical property is always redeemable if it is sold in a town that they hold and reverts to them in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among the People of Israel. The pastures belonging to their cities may not be sold; they are their permanent possession.

35-38 “If one of your brothers becomes indigent and cannot support himself, help him, the same as you would a foreigner or a guest so that he can continue to live in your neighborhood. Don’t gouge him with interest charges; out of reverence for your God help your brother to continue to live with you in the neighborhood. Don’t take advantage of his plight by running up big interest charges on his loans, and don’t give him food for profit. I am your God who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

39-43 “If one of your brothers becomes indigent and has to sell himself to you, don’t make him work as a slave. Treat him as a hired hand or a guest among you. He will work for you until the Jubilee, after which he and his children are set free to go back to his clan and his ancestral land. Because the People of Israel are my servants whom I brought out of Egypt, they must never be sold as slaves. Don’t tyrannize them; fear your God.

44-46 “The male and female slaves which you have are to come from the surrounding nations; you are permitted to buy slaves from them. You may also buy the children of foreign workers who are living among you temporarily and from their clans which are living among you and have been born in your land. They become your property. You may will them to your children as property and make them slaves for life. But you must not tyrannize your brother Israelites.

Mark 10:13-31

Mark 10:13-16 "The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them."

13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

To Enter God’s Kingdom

17As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”

18-19Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”

20He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”

21Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”

22The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.

23-25Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”

26That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked.

27Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.”

28Peter tried another angle: “We left everything and followed you.”

29-31Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”

Psalm 44:9-26

9-12 But now you’ve walked off and left us,
you’ve disgraced us and won’t fight for us.
You made us turn tail and run;
those who hate us have cleaned us out.
You delivered us as sheep to the butcher,
you scattered us to the four winds.
You sold your people at a discount—
you made nothing on the sale.

13-16 You made people on the street,
urchins, poke fun and call us names.
You made us a joke among the godless,
a cheap joke among the rabble.
Every day I’m up against it,
my nose rubbed in my shame—
Gossip and ridicule fill the air,
people out to get me crowd the street.

17-19 All this came down on us,
and we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
We never betrayed your Covenant: our hearts
were never false, our feet never left your path.
Do we deserve torture in a den of jackals?
or lockup in a black hole?

20-22 If we had forgotten to pray to our God
or made fools of ourselves with store-bought gods,
Wouldn’t God have figured this out?
We can’t hide things from him.
No, you decided to make us martyrs,
lambs assigned for sacrifice each day.

23-26 Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
If you love us so much, Help us!


Proverbs 10:20-21

20) The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless.

21) The talk of a good person is rich fare for many, but chatterboxes die of an empty heart. Fear-of-God Expands Your Life


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Monday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.3:1-8, Deut.32:1-43, Ps.148:1-14, Lk.1:68-79

Posted on 03/01/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, March 2010 Readings |

Mark 11:25 "And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it's not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive - only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."

Luke 1:46-55

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Psalm 3:1-8

Psalm 3

1-2 God! Look! Enemies past counting!

Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah! No help for him from God!”

3-4 But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.

5-6 I stretch myself out. I sleep.
Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.

7 Up, God! My God, help me!
Slap their faces,
First this cheek, then the other,
Your fist hard in their teeth!

8 Real help comes from God.
Your blessing clothes your people!

Deuteronomy 32:1-43

Deuteronomy 32

The Song

1-5 Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you.

Attention, Earth, I’ve got a mouth full of words.

My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain,
my words arrive like morning dew,
Like a sprinkling rain on new grass,
like spring showers on the garden.
For it’s God’s Name I’m preaching—
respond to the greatness of our God!
The Rock: His works are perfect,
and the way he works is fair and just;
A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
a straight-arrow God.
His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
throw mud at him but none of it sticks.

6-7 Don’t you realize it is God you are treating like this?
This is crazy; don’t you have any sense of reverence?
Isn’t this your father who created you,
who made you and gave you a place on Earth?
Read up on what happened before you were born;
dig into the past, understand your roots.
Ask your parents what it was like before you were born;
ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two.

8-9 When the High God gave the nations their stake,
gave them their place on Earth,
He put each of the peoples within boundaries
under the care of divine guardians.
But God himself took charge of his people,
took Jacob on as his personal concern.

10-14 He found him out in the wilderness,
in an empty, windswept wasteland.
He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
guarding him as the apple of his eye.
He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,
overshadowing its young,
Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air,
teaching them to fly.
God alone led him;
there was not a foreign god in sight.
God lifted him onto the hilltops,
so he could feast on the crops in the fields.
He fed him honey from the rock,
oil from granite crags,
Curds of cattle and the milk of sheep,
the choice cuts of lambs and goats,
Fine Bashan rams, high-quality wheat,
and the blood of grapes: you drank good wine!

15-18 Jeshurun put on weight and bucked;
you got fat, became obese, a tub of lard.
He abandoned the God who made him,
he mocked the Rock of his salvation.
They made him jealous with their foreign newfangled gods,
and with obscenities they vexed him no end.
They sacrificed to no-god demons,
gods they knew nothing about,
The latest in gods, fresh from the market,
gods your ancestors would never call “gods.”
You walked out on the Rock who gave you your life,
forgot the birth-God who brought you into the world.

19-25 God saw it and turned on his heel,
angered and hurt by his sons and daughters.
He said, “From now on I’m looking the other way.
Wait and see what happens to them.
Oh, they’re a turned-around, upside-down generation!
Who knows what they’ll do from one moment to the next?
They’ve goaded me with their no-gods,
infuriated me with their hot-air gods;
I’m going to goad them with a no-people,
with a hollow nation incense them.
My anger started a fire,
a wildfire burning deep down in Sheol,
Then shooting up and devouring the Earth and its crops,
setting all the mountains, from bottom to top, on fire.
I’ll pile catastrophes on them,
I’ll shoot my arrows at them:
Starvation, blistering heat, killing disease;
I’ll send snarling wild animals to attack from the forest
and venomous creatures to strike from the dust.
Killing in the streets,
terror in the houses,
Young men and virgins alike struck down,
and yes, breast-feeding babies and gray-haired old men.”

26-27 I could have said, “I’ll hack them to pieces,
wipe out all trace of them from the Earth,”
Except that I feared the enemy would grab the chance
to take credit for all of it,
Crowing, “Look what we did!
God had nothing to do with this.”

28-33 They are a nation of ninnies,
they don’t know enough to come in out of the rain.
If they had any sense at all, they’d know this;
they would see what’s coming down the road.
How could one soldier chase a thousand enemies off,
or two men run off two thousand,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
unless God had given them away?
For their rock is nothing compared to our Rock;
even our enemies say that.
They’re a vine that comes right out of Sodom,
who they are is rooted in Gomorrah;
Their grapes are poison grapes,
their grape-clusters bitter.
Their wine is rattlesnake venom,
mixed with lethal cobra poison.

34-35 Don’t you realize that I have my shelves
well stocked, locked behind iron doors?
I’m in charge of vengeance and payback,
just waiting for them to slip up;
And the day of their doom is just around the corner,
sudden and swift and sure.

36-38 Yes, God will judge his people,
but oh how compassionately he’ll do it.
When he sees their weakened plight
and there is no one left, slave or free,
He’ll say, “So where are their gods,
the rock in which they sought refuge,
The gods who feasted on the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink-offerings?
Let them show their stuff and help you,
let them give you a hand!

39-42 “Do you see it now? Do you see that I’m the one?
Do you see that there’s no other god beside me?
I bring death and I give life, I wound and I heal—
there is no getting away from or around me!
I raise my hand in solemn oath;
I say, ‘I’m always around. By that very life I promise:
When I sharpen my lightning sword
and execute judgment,
I take vengeance on my enemies
and pay back those who hate me.
I’ll make my arrows drunk with blood,
my sword will gorge itself on flesh,
Feasting on slain and captive alike,
the proud and vain enemy corpses.'”

43 Celebrate, nations, join the praise of his people.
He avenges the deaths of his servants,
Pays back his enemies with vengeance,
and cleanses his land for his people.

Psalm 148:1-14

Psalm 148

1-5 Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven,
praise him from the mountaintops;
Praise him, all you his angels,
praise him, all you his warriors,
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, you morning stars;
Praise him, high heaven,
praise him, heavenly rain clouds;
Praise, oh let them praise the name of God—
he spoke the word, and there they were!

6 He set them in place
from all time to eternity;
He gave his orders,
and that’s it!

7-12 Praise God from earth,
you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and ice,
hurricanes obeying his orders;
Mountains and all hills,
apple orchards and cedar forests;
Wild beasts and herds of cattle,
snakes, and birds in flight;
Earth’s kings and all races,
leaders and important people,
Robust men and women in their prime,
and yes, graybeards and little children.

13-14 Let them praise the name of God—
it’s the only Name worth praising.
His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky;
he’s built a monument—his very own people!

Praise from all who love God!
Israel’s children, intimate friends of God.
Hallelujah!

Luke 1:68-79

Canticle of Zechariah

68-79Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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2/28/10 Readings: Lev.22:17-23:44, Mk.9:30-10:12, Ps.44:1-8, Prov.10:19

Posted on 02/28/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

John 11:35-44 "Now Jesus wept. The Jews said, "Look how deeply he loved him." Others among them said, "Well, if he loved him so much, why didn't he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man." "Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone." The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, "Master, by this time there's a stench. He's been dead four days!" Jesus looked her in the eye. "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" Then, to the others, "Go ahead, take away the stone." They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, "Father, I'm grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I've spoken so that they might believe that you sent me." Then he shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him loose."

Leviticus 22:17-23:44

17-25 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons and all the People of Israel, Each and every one of you, whether native born or foreigner, who presents a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God to fulfill a vow or as a Freewill-Offering, must make sure that it is a male without defect from cattle, sheep, or goats for it to be acceptable. Don’t try slipping in some creature that has a defect—it won’t be accepted. Whenever anyone brings an offering from cattle or sheep as a Peace-Offering to God to fulfill a vow or as a Freewill-Offering, it has to be perfect, without defect, to be acceptable. Don’t try giving God an animal that is blind, crippled, mutilated, an animal with running sores, a rash, or mange. Don’t place any of these on the Altar as a gift to God. You may, though, offer an ox or sheep that is deformed or stunted as a Freewill-Offering, but it is not acceptable in fulfilling a vow. Don’t offer to God an animal with bruised, crushed, torn, or cut-off testicles. Don’t do this in your own land but don’t accept them from foreigners and present them as food for your God either. Because of deformities and defects they will not be acceptable.”

26-30 God spoke to Moses: “When a calf or lamb or goat is born, it is to stay with its mother for seven days. After the eighth day, it is acceptable as an offering, a gift to God. Don’t slaughter both a cow or ewe and its young on the same day. When you sacrifice a Thanksgiving-Offering to God, do it right so it will be acceptable. Eat it on the same day; don’t leave any leftovers until morning. I am God.

31 “Do what I tell you; live what I tell you. I am God.

32-33 “Don’t desecrate my holy name. I insist on being treated with holy reverence among the People of Israel. I am God who makes you holy and brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am God.”

Leviticus 23

The Feasts

1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of God which you are to decree as sacred assemblies.

3 “Work six days. The seventh day is a Sabbath, a day of total and complete rest, a sacred assembly. Don’t do any work. Wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to God.

4 “These are the appointed feasts of God, the sacred assemblies which you are to announce at the times set for them:

5 “God’s Passover, beginning at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month.

6-8 “God’s Feast of Unraised Bread, on the fifteenth day of this same month. You are to eat unraised bread for seven days. Hold a sacred assembly on the first day; don’t do any regular work. Offer Fire-Gifts to God for seven days. On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly; don’t do any regular work.”

9-14 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, When you arrive at the land that I am giving you and reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain that you harvest. He will wave the sheaf before God for acceptance on your behalf; on the morning after Sabbath, the priest will wave it. On the same day that you wave the sheaf, offer a year-old male lamb without defect for a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God and with it the Grain-Offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil—a Fire-Gift to God, a pleasing fragrance—and also a Drink-Offering of a quart of wine. Don’t eat any bread or roasted or fresh grain until you have presented this offering to your God. This is a perpetual decree for all your generations to come, wherever you live.

15-21 “Count seven full weeks from the morning after the Sabbath when you brought the sheaf as a Wave-Offering, fifty days until the morning of the seventh Sabbath. Then present a new Grain-Offering to God. Bring from wherever you are living two loaves of bread made from four quarts of fine flour and baked with yeast as a Wave-Offering of the first ripe grain to God. In addition to the bread, offer seven yearling male lambs without defect, plus one bull and two rams. They will be a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God together with their Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings—offered as Fire-Gifts, a pleasing fragrance to God. Offer one male goat for an Absolution-Offering and two yearling lambs for a Peace-Offering. The priest will wave the two lambs before God as a Wave-Offering, together with the bread of the first ripe grain. They are sacred offerings to God for the priest. Proclaim the day as a sacred assembly. Don’t do any ordinary work. It is a perpetual decree wherever you live down through your generations.

22 “When you reap the harvest of your land, don’t reap the corners of your field or gather the gleanings. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners. I am God, your God.”

23-25 God said to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, On the first day of the seventh month, set aside a day of rest, a sacred assembly—mark it with loud blasts on the ram’s horn. Don’t do any ordinary work. Offer a Fire-Gift to God.”

26-32 God said to Moses: “The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly, fast, and offer a Fire-Gift to God. Don’t work on that day because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for you before your God. Anyone who doesn’t fast on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who works on that day. Don’t do any work that day—none. This is a perpetual decree for all the generations to come, wherever you happen to be living. It is a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a fast day. Observe your Sabbath from the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”

33-36 God said to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, God’s Feast of Booths begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. It lasts seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; don’t do any ordinary work. Offer Fire-Gifts to God for seven days. On the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and offer a gift to God. It is a solemn convocation. Don’t do any ordinary work.

37-38 “These are the appointed feasts of God which you will decree as sacred assemblies for presenting Fire-Gifts to God: the Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, sacrifices, and Drink-Offerings assigned to each day. These are in addition to offerings for God’s Sabbaths and also in addition to other gifts connected with whatever you have vowed and all the Freewill-Offerings you give to God.

39-43 “So, summing up: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have brought your crops in from your fields, celebrate the Feast of God for seven days. The first day is a complete rest and the eighth day is a complete rest. On the first day, pick the best fruit from the best trees; take fronds of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and from willows by the brook and celebrate in the presence of your God for seven days—yes, for seven full days celebrate it as a festival to God. Every year from now on, celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days—every son and daughter of Israel is to move into booths so that your descendants will know that I made the People of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am God, your God.”

44 Moses posted the calendar for the annual appointed feasts of God which Israel was to celebrate.

Mark 9:30-10:12

30-32Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.

So You Want First Place?

33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”

36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”

38John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”

39-41Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.

42“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.

43-48“If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.

49-50“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”

Mark 10

Divorce

1-2 From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?”

3Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”

4They answered, “Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.”

5-9Jesus said, “Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”

10-12When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: “A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery.”

Psalm 44:1-8

Psalm 44

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

1-3 We’ve been hearing about this, God, all our lives.
Our fathers told us the stories
their fathers told them,
How single-handedly you weeded out the godless
from the fields and planted us,
How you sent those people packing
but gave us a fresh start.
We didn’t fight for this land;
we didn’t work for it—it was a gift!
You gave it, smiling as you gave it,
delighting as you gave it.

4-8 You’re my King, O God—
command victories for Jacob!
With your help we’ll wipe out our enemies,
in your name we’ll stomp them to dust.
I don’t trust in weapons;
my sword won’t save me—
But it’s you, you who saved us from the enemy;
you made those who hate us lose face.
All day we parade God’s praise—
we thank you by name over and over.

Proverbs 10:19

19)  The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.


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Sunday Devotions: Lk.1:46-55, Ps.51:1-19, Ex.15:1-18, Ps.23:1-6, Lk.1:68-79

Posted on 02/28/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, February 2010 Readings |

Job 36:5-6 "It's true that God is all-powerful, but he doesn't bully innocent people. For the wicked, though, it's a different story - he doesn't give them the time of day, but champions the rights of their victims."

Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat

46-55And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Psalm 51:1-19

Psalm 51

1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!

Exodus 15:1-18

Exodus 15

1-8 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to God, giving voice together,

I’m singing my heart out to God—what a victory!
He pitched horse and rider into the sea.
God is my strength, God is my song,
and, yes! God is my salvation.
This is the kind of God I have
and I’m telling the world!
This is the God of my father—
I’m spreading the news far and wide!
God is a fighter,
pure God, through and through.
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
he dumped in the sea,
The elite of his officers
he drowned in the Red Sea.
Wild ocean waters poured over them;
they sank like a rock in the deep blue sea.
Your strong right hand, God, shimmers with power;
your strong right hand shatters the enemy.
In your mighty majesty
you smash your upstart enemies,
You let loose your hot anger
and burn them to a crisp.
At a blast from your nostrils
the waters piled up;
Tumbling streams dammed up,
wild oceans curdled into a swamp.

9 The enemy spoke,
“I’ll pursue, I’ll hunt them down,
I’ll divide up the plunder,
I’ll glut myself on them;
I’ll pull out my sword,
my fist will send them reeling.”

10-11 You blew with all your might
and the sea covered them.
They sank like a lead weight
in the majestic waters.
Who compares with you
among gods, O God?
Who compares with you in power,
in holy majesty,
In awesome praises,
wonder-working God?

12-13 You stretched out your right hand
and the Earth swallowed them up.
But the people you redeemed,
you led in merciful love;
You guided them under your protection
to your holy pasture.

14-18 When people heard, they were scared;
Philistines writhed and trembled;
Yes, even the head men in Edom were shaken,
and the big bosses in Moab.
Everybody in Canaan
panicked and fell faint.
Dread and terror
sent them reeling.
Before your brandished right arm
they were struck dumb like a stone,
Until your people crossed over and entered, O God,
until the people you made crossed over and entered.
You brought them and planted them
on the mountain of your heritage,
The place where you live,
the place you made,
Your sanctuary, Master,
that you established with your own hands.
Let God rule
forever, for eternity!

Psalm 23:1-6

Psalm 23

A David Psalm

1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

4 Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

5 You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

Luke 1:68-79

Cantcle of Zechariah

68-79 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.


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2/27/10 Reading: Lev.20:22-22:16, Mk.9:1-29, Ps.43:1-5, Prov.10:18

Posted on 02/27/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Colossians 3:12 "So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline."

Leviticus 20:22-22:16

22-23 “Do what I tell you, all my decrees and laws; live by them so that the land where I’m bringing you won’t vomit you out. You simply must not live like the nations I’m driving out before you. They did all these things and I hated every minute of it.

24-26 “I’ve told you, remember, that you will possess their land that I’m giving to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am God, your God, who has distinguished you from the nations. So live like it: Distinguish between ritually clean and unclean animals and birds. Don’t pollute yourselves with any animal or bird or crawling thing which I have marked out as unclean for you. Live holy lives before me because I, God, am holy. I have distinguished you from the nations to be my very own.

27 “A man or woman who is a medium or sorcerer among you must be put to death. You must kill them by stoning. They’re responsible for their own deaths.”

Leviticus 21

Holy Priests

1-41 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron. Tell them, A priest must not ritually contaminate himself by touching the dead, except for close relatives: mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband; for these he may make himself ritually unclean, but he must not contaminate himself with the dead who are only related to him by marriage and thus profane himself.

5-6 “Priests must not shave their heads or trim their beards or gash their bodies. They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because their job is to present the gifts of God, the food of their God, they are to be holy.

7-8 “Because a priest is holy to his God he must not marry a woman who has been a harlot or a cult prostitute or a divorced woman. Make sure he is holy because he serves the food of your God. Treat him as holy because I, God, who make you holy, am holy.

9 “If a priest’s daughter defiles herself in prostitution, she disgraces her father. She must be burned at the stake.

10-12 “The high priest, the one among his brothers who has received the anointing oil poured on his head and been ordained to wear the priestly vestments, must not let his hair go wild and tangled nor wear ragged and torn clothes. He must not enter a room where there is a dead body. He must not ritually contaminate himself, even for his father or mother; and he must neither abandon nor desecrate the Sanctuary of his God because of the dedication of the anointing oil which is upon him. I am God.

13-15 “He is to marry a young virgin, not a widow, not a divorcee, not a cult prostitute—he is only to marry a virgin from his own people. He must not defile his descendants among his people because I am God who makes him holy.”

16-23 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron, None of your descendants, in any generation to come, who has a defect of any kind may present as an offering the food of his God. That means anyone who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed, crippled in foot or hand, hunchbacked or dwarfed, who has anything wrong with his eyes, who has running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to offer gifts to God; he has a defect and so must not offer the food of his God. He may eat the food of his God, both the most holy and the holy, but because of his defect he must not go near the curtain or approach the Altar. It would desecrate my Sanctuary. I am God who makes them holy.”

24 Moses delivered this message to Aaron, his sons, and to all the People of Israel.

Leviticus 22

1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons to treat the holy offerings that the Israelites consecrate to me with reverence so they won’t desecrate my holy name. I am God.

3 “Tell them, From now on, if any of your descendants approaches in a state of ritual uncleanness the holy offerings that the Israelites consecrate to God, he will be cut off from my presence. I am God.

4-8 “Each and every one of Aaron’s descendants who has an infectious skin disease or a discharge may not eat any of the holy offerings until he is clean. Also, if he touches anything defiled by a corpse, or has an emission of semen, or is contaminated by touching a crawling creature, or touches a person who is contaminated for whatever reason—a person who touches any such thing will be ritually unclean until evening and may not eat any of the holy offerings unless he has washed well with water. After the sun goes down he is clean and may go ahead and eat the holy offerings; they are his food. But he must not contaminate himself by eating anything found dead or torn by wild animals. I am God.

9 “The priests must observe my instructions lest they become guilty and die by treating the offerings with irreverence. I am God who makes them holy.

10-13 “No layperson may eat anything set apart as holy. Nor may a priest’s guest or his hired hand eat anything holy. But if a priest buys a slave, the slave may eat of it; also the slaves born in his house may eat his food. If a priest’s daughter marries a layperson, she may no longer eat from the holy contributions. But if the priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and without children and returns to her father’s household as before, she may eat of her father’s food. But no layperson may eat of it.

14 “If anyone eats from a holy offering accidentally, he must give back the holy offering to the priest and add twenty percent to it.

15-16 “The priests must not treat with irreverence the holy offerings of the Israelites that they contribute to God lest they desecrate themselves and make themselves guilty when they eat the holy offerings. I am God who makes them holy.”

Mark 9:1-29

Mark 9

1 Then he drove it home by saying, “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.” In a Light-Radiant Cloud

2-4Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.

5-6Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials— one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.

7Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”

8The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.

9-10Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth “rising from the dead” meant.

11Meanwhile they were asking, “Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?”

12-13Jesus replied, “Elijah does come first and get everything ready for the coming of the Son of Man. They treated this Elijah like dirt, much like they will treat the Son of Man, who will, according to Scripture, suffer terribly and be kicked around contemptibly.”

There Are No Ifs

14-16When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, “What’s going on? What’s all the commotion?”

17-18A man out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”

19-20Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.

21-22He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”

“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

23Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.

24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.

28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?”

29He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer.”

Psalm 43:1-5

Psalm 43

1-2 Clear my name, God; stick up for me against these loveless, immoral people.
Get me out of here, away
from these lying degenerates.
I counted on you, God.
Why did you walk out on me?
Why am I pacing the floor, wringing my hands
over these outrageous people?

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass,
give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship,
meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp,
magnificent God, my God.

5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

Proverbs 10:18

18) Liars secretly hoard hatred; fools openly spread slander.


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2/26/10 Reading: Lev.19:1-20:21, Mk.8:11-38, Ps.42:1-11, Prov.10:17

Posted on 02/26/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Matthew 6:33 "Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met."

Leviticus 19-20:21

Leviticus 19

“I Am God, Your God”

1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the congregation of Israel. Tell them, Be holy because I, God, your God, am holy.

3 “Every one of you must respect his mother and father. “Keep my Sabbaths. I am God, your God.

4 “Don’t take up with no-god idols. Don’t make gods of cast metal. I am God, your God.

5-8 “When you sacrifice a Peace-Offering to God, do it as you’ve been taught so it is acceptable. Eat it on the day you sacrifice it and the day following. Whatever is left until the third day is to be burned up. If it is eaten on the third day it is polluted meat and not acceptable. Whoever eats it will be held responsible because he has violated what is holy to God. That person will be cut off from his people.

9-10 “When you harvest your land, don’t harvest right up to the edges of your field or gather the gleanings from the harvest. Don’t strip your vineyard bare or go back and pick up the fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am God, your God.

11 “Don’t steal.

“Don’t lie.

“Don’t deceive anyone.

12 “Don’t swear falsely using my name, violating the name of your God. I am God.

13 “Don’t exploit your friend or rob him.

“Don’t hold back the wages of a hired hand overnight.

14 “Don’t curse the deaf; don’t put a stumbling block in front of the blind; fear your God. I am God.

15 “Don’t pervert justice. Don’t show favoritism to either the poor or the great. Judge on the basis of what is right.

16 “Don’t spread gossip and rumors.

“Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger. I am God.

17 “Don’t secretly hate your neighbor. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice in his guilt.

18 “Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people.

“Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.

19 “Keep my decrees.

“Don’t mate two different kinds of animals.

“Don’t plant your fields with two kinds of seed.

“Don’t wear clothes woven of two kinds of material.

20-22 “If a man has sex with a slave girl who is engaged to another man but has not yet been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be an investigation. But they aren’t to be put to death because she wasn’t free. The man must bring a Compensation-Offering to God at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, a ram of compensation. The priest will perform the ritual of atonement for him before God with the ram of compensation for the sin he has committed. Then he will stand forgiven of the sin he committed.

23-25 “When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, don’t eat the fruit for three years; consider it inedible. By the fourth year its fruit is holy, an offering of praise to God. Beginning in the fifth year you can eat its fruit; you’ll have richer harvests this way. I am God, your God.

26 “Don’t eat meat with blood in it.

“Don’t practice divination or sorcery.

27 “Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard.

28 “Don’t gash your bodies on behalf of the dead.

“Don’t tattoo yourselves. I am God.

29 “Don’t violate your daughter by making her a whore—the whole country would soon become a brothel, filled with sordid sex.

30 “Keep my Sabbaths and revere my Sanctuary: I am God.

31 “Don’t dabble in the occult or traffic with mediums; you’ll pollute your souls. I am God, your God.

32 “Show respect to the aged; honor the presence of an elder; fear your God. I am God.

33-34 “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.

35-36 “Don’t cheat when measuring length, weight, or quantity. Use honest scales and weights and measures. I am God, your God. I brought you out of Egypt.

37 “Keep all my decrees and all my laws. Yes, do them. I am God.”

Leviticus 20

1-5 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, Each and every Israelite and foreigner in Israel who gives his child to the god Molech must be put to death. The community must kill him by stoning. I will resolutely reject that man and cut him off from his people. By giving his child to the god Molech he has polluted my Sanctuary and desecrated my holy name. If the people of the land look the other way as if nothing had happened when that man gives his child to the god Molech and fail to kill him, I will resolutely reject that man and his family, and him and all who join him in prostituting themselves in the rituals of the god Molech I will cut off from their people.

6 “I will resolutely reject persons who dabble in the occult or traffic with mediums, prostituting themselves in their practices. I will cut them off from their people.

7-8 “Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life, because I am God, your God. Do what I tell you; live the way I tell you. I am the God who makes you holy.

9 “Any and every person who curses his father or mother must be put to death. By cursing his father or mother he is responsible for his own death.

10 “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—the wife, say, of his neighbor—both the man and the woman, the adulterer and adulteress, must be put to death.

11 “If a man has sex with his father’s wife, he has violated his father. Both the man and woman must be put to death; they are responsible for their own deaths.

12 “If a man has sex with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is perverse. And they are responsible for their own deaths.

13 “If a man has sex with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is abhorrent. They must be put to death; they are responsible for their own deaths.

14 “If a man marries both a woman and her mother, that’s wicked. All three of them must be burned at the stake, purging the wickedness from the community.

15 “If a man has sex with an animal, he must be put to death and you must kill the animal.

16 “If a woman has sex with an animal, you must kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death. And they are responsible for their deaths.

17 “If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or mother, and they have sex, that’s a disgrace. They must be publicly cut off from their people. He has violated his sister and will be held responsible.

18 “If a man sleeps with a woman during her period and has sex with her, he has uncovered her ‘fountain’ and she has revealed her ‘fountain’—both of them must be cut off from their people.

19 “Don’t have sex with your aunt on either your mother’s or father’s side. That violates a close relative. Both of you are held responsible.

20 “If a man has sex with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible and die childless.

21 “If a man marries his brother’s wife, it’s a defilement. He has shamed his brother. They will be childless.

Mark 8:11-38

11-12When they arrived, the Pharisees came out and started in on him, badgering him to prove himself, pushing him up against the wall. Provoked, he said, “Why does this generation clamor for miraculous guarantees? If I have anything to say about it, you’ll not get so much as a hint of a guarantee.”

Contaminating Yeast

13-15He then left them, got back in the boat, and headed for the other side. But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. Jesus warned, “Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees and the followers of Herod.”

16-19Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

They said, “Twelve.”

20“And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”

“Seven.”

21He said, “Do you still not get it?”

22-23They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”

24-26He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.”

The Messiah

27Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”

28“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,'” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.'”

29He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

30-32Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.

32-33But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”

34-37Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

38“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Psalm 42:1-11

Psalm 42

A psalm of the sons of Korah

1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God,
deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
arrive and drink in God’s presence?”

I’m on a diet of tears—
tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
people knock at my door,
Pestering,
“Where is this God of yours?”

4 These are the things I go over and over,
emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
right out in front,
Leading them all,
eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God’s prayer.

9-10 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
“Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
“Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

Proverbs 10:17

The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good.


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2/25/10 Reading: Lev.16:29-18:30, Mk.7:24-8:10, Ps.41:1-13, Prov.10:15-16

Posted on 02/25/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Psalm 119:33-40 "God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—my whole life one long obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway! Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. Affirm your promises to me—promises made to all who fear you. Deflect the harsh words of my critics—but what you say is always so good. See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways!"

Leviticus 16:29-18:30

29-31 “This is standard practice for you, a perpetual ordinance. On the tenth day of the seventh month, both the citizen and the foreigner living with you are to enter into a solemn fast and refrain from all work, because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. In the presence of God you will be made clean of all your sins. It is a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. You must fast. It is a perpetual ordinance.

32 “The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father is to make the atonement:

He puts on the sacred linen garments;

33 He purges the Holy of Holies by making atonement;

He purges the Tent of Meeting and the Altar by making atonement;

He makes atonement for the priests and all the congregation.

34 “This is a perpetual ordinance for you: Once a year atonement is to be made for all the sins of the People of Israel.”

And Aaron did it, just as God commanded Moses.

Leviticus 17

Holy Living: Sacrifices and Blood

1-7 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the Israelites. Tell them, This is what God commands: Any and every man who slaughters an ox or lamb or goat inside or outside the camp instead of bringing it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to offer it to God in front of The Dwelling of God—that man is considered guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood and must be cut off from his people. This is so the Israelites will bring to God the sacrifices that they’re in the habit of sacrificing out in the open fields. They must bring them to God and the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and sacrifice them as Peace-Offerings to God. The priest will splash the blood on the Altar of God at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and burn the fat as a pleasing fragrance to God. They must no longer offer their sacrifices to goat-demons— a kind of religious orgy. This is a perpetual decree down through the generations.

8-9 “Tell them, Any Israelite or foreigner living among them who offers a Whole-Burnt-Offering or Peace-Offering but doesn’t bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to sacrifice it to God, that person must be cut off from his people.

10-12 “If any Israelite or foreigner living among them eats blood, I will disown that person and cut him off from his people, for the life of an animal is in the blood. I have provided the blood for you to make atonement for your lives on the Altar; it is the blood, the life, that makes atonement. That’s why I tell the People of Israel, ‘Don’t eat blood.’ The same goes for the foreigner who lives among you, ‘Don’t eat blood.’

13-14 “Any and every Israelite—this also goes for the foreigners—who hunts down an animal or bird that is edible, must bleed it and cover the blood with dirt, because the life of every animal is its blood—the blood is its life. That’s why I tell the Israelites, ‘Don’t eat the blood of any animal because the life of every animal is its blood. Anyone who eats the blood must be cut off.’

15-16 “Anyone, whether native or foreigner, who eats from an animal that is found dead or mauled must wash his clothes and bathe in water; he remains unclean until evening and is then clean. If he doesn’t wash or bathe his body, he’ll be held responsible for his actions.”

Leviticus 18

Sex

1-5 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, I am God, your God. Don’t live like the people of Egypt where you used to live, and don’t live like the people of Canaan where I’m bringing you. Don’t do what they do. Obey my laws and live by my decrees. I am your God. Keep my decrees and laws: The person who obeys them lives by them. I am God.

6 “Don’t have sex with a close relative. I am God.

7 “Don’t violate your father by having sex with your mother. She is your mother. Don’t have sex with her.

8 “Don’t have sex with your father’s wife. That violates your father.

9 “Don’t have sex with your sister, whether she’s your father’s daughter or your mother’s, whether she was born in the same house or elsewhere.

10 “Don’t have sex with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter. That would violate your own body.

11 “Don’t have sex with the daughter of your father’s wife born to your father. She is your sister.

12 “Don’t have sex with your father’s sister; she is your aunt, closely related to your father.

13 “Don’t have sex with your mother’s sister; she is your aunt, closely related to your mother.

14 “Don’t violate your father’s brother, your uncle, by having sex with his wife. She is your aunt.

15 “Don’t have sex with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; don’t have sex with her.

16 “Don’t have sex with your brother’s wife; that would violate your brother.

17 “Don’t have sex with both a woman and her daughter. And don’t have sex with her granddaughters either. They are her close relatives. That is wicked.

18 “Don’t marry your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sex with her while your wife is living.

19 “Don’t have sex with a woman during the time of her menstrual period when she is unclean.

20 “Don’t have sex with your neighbor’s wife and violate yourself by her.

21 “Don’t give any of your children to be burned in sacrifice to the god Molech—an act of sheer blasphemy of your God. I am God.

22 “Don’t have sex with a man as one does with a woman. That is abhorrent.

23 “Don’t have sex with an animal and violate yourself by it.

“A woman must not have sex with an animal. That is perverse.

24-28 “Don’t pollute yourself in any of these ways. This is how the nations became polluted, the ones that I am going to drive out of the land before you. Even the land itself became polluted and I punished it for its iniquities—the land vomited up its inhabitants. You must keep my decrees and laws— natives and foreigners both. You must not do any of these abhorrent things. The people who lived in this land before you arrived did all these things and polluted the land. And if you pollute it, the land will vomit you up just as it vomited up the nations that preceded you.

29-30 “Those who do any of these abhorrent things will be cut off from their people. Keep to what I tell you; don’t engage in any of the abhorrent acts that were practiced before you came. Don’t pollute yourselves with them. I am God, your God.”

Mark 7:24-8:10

24-26From there Jesus set out for the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house there where he didn’t think he would be found, but he couldn’t escape notice. He was barely inside when a woman who had a disturbed daughter heard where he was. She came and knelt at his feet, begging for help. The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked him to cure her daughter.

27He said, “Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there’s any left over, the dogs get it.”

28She said, “Of course, Master. But don’t dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?”

29-30Jesus was impressed. “You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.” She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.

31-35Then he left the region of Tyre, went through Sidon back to Galilee Lake and over to the district of the Ten Towns. Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.

36-37Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.”

Mark 8

A Meal for Four Thousand

1-3 At about this same time he again found himself with a hungry crowd on his hands. He called his disciples together and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart. They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they’ll faint along the way—some of them have come a long distance.”

4His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?”

5He asked, “How much bread do you have?”

“Seven loaves,” they said.

6-10So Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. After giving thanks, he took the seven bread loaves, broke them into pieces, and gave them to his disciples so they could hand them out to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He pronounced a blessing over the fish and told his disciples to hand them out as well. The crowd ate its fill. Seven sacks of leftovers were collected. There were well over four thousand at the meal. Then he sent them home. He himself went straight to the boat with his disciples and set out for Dalmanoutha.

Psalm 41:1-13

Psalm 41

A David Psalm

1-3Dignify those who are down on their luck; you’ll feel good—that’s what God does.
God looks after us all,
makes us robust with life—
Lucky to be in the land,
we’re free from enemy worries.
Whenever we’re sick and in bed,
God becomes our nurse,
nurses us back to health.

4-7 I said, “God, be gracious!
Put me together again—
my sins have torn me to pieces.”
My enemies are wishing the worst for me;
they make bets on what day I will die.
If someone comes to see me,
he mouths empty platitudes,
All the while gathering gossip about me
to entertain the street-corner crowd.
These “friends” who hate me
whisper slanders all over town.
They form committees
to plan misery for me.

8-9 The rumor goes out, “He’s got some dirty,
deadly disease. The doctors
have given up on him.”
Even my best friend, the one I always told everything
—he ate meals at my house all the time!—
has bitten my hand.

10 God, give grace, get me up on my feet.
I’ll show them a thing or two.

11-12 Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side—
no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp!
You know me inside and out, you hold me together,
you never fail to stand me tall in your presence
so I can look you in the eye.

13 Blessed is God, Israel’s God,
always, always, always.
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Proverbs 10:15-16

15)  The wealth of the rich is their bastion; the poverty of the indigent is their ruin.

16)  The wage of a good person is exuberant life; an evil person ends up with nothing but sin.


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2/24/2010 Reading: Lev.15:1-16:28, Mk.7:1-23, Ps.40:11-17, Prov.10:13-14

Posted on 02/24/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Mark 1:12-15 "At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him. After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: "Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message."

Leviticus 15-16:28

Leviticus 15

Bodily Discharges

1-3 God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When a man has a discharge from his genitals, the discharge is unclean. Whether it comes from a seepage or an obstruction he is unclean. He is unclean all the days his body has a seepage or an obstruction.

4-7 “Every bed on which he lies is ritually unclean, everything on which he sits is unclean. If someone touches his bed or sits on anything he’s sat on, or touches the man with the discharge, he has to wash his clothes and bathe in water; he remains unclean until evening.

8-11 “If the man with the discharge spits on someone who is clean, that person has to wash his clothes and bathe in water; he remains unclean until evening. Every saddle on which the man with the discharge rides is unclean. Whoever touches anything that has been under him becomes unclean until evening. Anyone who carries such an object must wash his clothes and bathe with water; he remains unclean until evening. If the one with the discharge touches someone without first rinsing his hands with water, the one touched must wash his clothes and bathe with water; he remains unclean until evening.

12 “If a pottery container is touched by someone with a discharge, you must break it; a wooden article is to be rinsed in water.

13-15 “When a person with a discharge is cleansed from it, he is to count off seven days for his cleansing, wash his clothes, and bathe in running water. Then he is clean. On the eighth day he is to take two doves or two pigeons and come before God at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and give them to the priest. The priest then offers one as an Absolution-Offering and one as a Whole-Burnt-Offering and makes atonement for him in the presence of God because of his discharge.

16-18 “When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his entire body in water; he remains unclean until evening. Every piece of clothing and everything made of leather which gets semen on it must be washed with water; it remains unclean until evening. When a man sleeps with a woman and has an emission of semen, both are to wash in water; they remain unclean until evening.

19-23 “When a woman has a discharge of blood, the impurity of her menstrual period lasts seven days. Anyone who touches her is unclean until evening. Everything on which she lies or sits during her period is unclean. Anyone who touches her bed or anything on which she sits must wash his clothes and bathe in water; he remains unclean until evening.

24 “If a man sleeps with her and her menstrual blood gets on him, he is unclean for seven days and every bed on which he lies becomes unclean.

25-27 “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, but not at the time of her monthly period, or has a discharge that continues beyond the time of her period, she is unclean the same as during the time of her period. Every bed on which she lies during the time of the discharge and everything on which she sits becomes unclean the same as in her monthly period. Anyone who touches these things becomes unclean and must wash his clothes and bathe in water; he remains unclean until evening.

28-30 “When she is cleansed from her discharge, she is to count off seven days; then she is clean. On the eighth day she is to take two doves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priest will offer one for an Absolution-Offering and the other for a Whole-Burnt-Offering. The priest will make atonement for her in the presence of God because of the discharge that made her unclean.

31 “You are responsible for keeping the People of Israel separate from that which makes them ritually unclean, lest they die in their unclean condition by defiling my Dwelling which is among them.

32-33 “These are the procedures to follow for a man with a discharge or an emission of semen that makes him unclean, and for a woman in her menstrual period—any man or woman with a discharge and also for a man who sleeps with a woman who is unclean.”

Leviticus 16

The Day of Atonement

1-2 After the death of Aaron’s two sons—they died when they came before God with strange fire—God spoke to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to enter into the Holy of Holies, barging inside the curtain that’s before the Atonement-Cover on the Chest whenever he feels like it, lest he die, because I am present in the Cloud over the Atonement-Cover.

3-5 “This is the procedure for Aaron when he enters the Holy Place: He will bring a young bull for an Absolution-Offering and a ram for a Whole-Burnt-Offering; he will put on the holy linen tunic and the linen underwear, tie the linen sash around him, and put on the linen turban. These are the sacred vestments so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. Then from the Israelite community he will bring two male goats for an Absolution-Offering and a Whole-Burnt-Offering.

6-10 “Aaron will offer the bull for his own Absolution-Offering in order to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he will set the two goats before God at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and cast lots over the two goats, one lot for God and the other lot for Azazel. He will offer the goat on which the lot to God falls as an Absolution-Offering. The goat on which the lot for Azazel falls will be sent out into the wilderness to Azazel to make atonement.

11-14 “Aaron will present his bull for an Absolution-Offering to make atonement for himself and his household. He will slaughter his bull for the Absolution-Offering. He will take a censer full of burning coals from the Altar before God and two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense and bring them inside the curtain and put the incense on the fire before God; the smoke of the incense will cover the Atonement-Cover which is over The Testimony so that he doesn’t die. He will take some of the bull’s blood and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the Atonement-Cover, then sprinkle the blood before the Atonement-Cover seven times.

15-17 “Next he will slaughter the goat designated as the Absolution-Offering for the people and bring the blood inside the curtain. He will repeat what he does with the bull’s blood, sprinkling it on and before the Atonement-Cover. In this way he will make atonement for the Holy of Holies because of the uncleannesses of the Israelites, their acts of rebellion, and all their other sins. He will do the same thing for the Tent of Meeting which dwells among the people in the midst of their uncleanness. There is to be no one in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Holy of Holies until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household, and the whole community of Israel.

18-19 “Then he will come out to the Altar that is before God and make atonement for it. He will take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and smear it all around the four horns of the Altar. With his finger he will sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times to purify and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the Israelites.

20-22 “When Aaron finishes making atonement for the Holy of Holies, the Tent of Meeting, and the Altar, he will bring up the live goat, lay both hands on the live goat’s head, and confess all the iniquities of the People of Israel, all their acts of rebellion, all their sins. He will put all the sins on the goat’s head and send it off into the wilderness, led out by a man standing by and ready. The goat will carry all their iniquities to an empty wasteland; the man will let him loose out there in the wilderness.

23-25 “Finally, Aaron will come into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen clothes in which he dressed to enter the Holy of Holies and leave them there. He will bathe in water in a Holy Place, put on his priestly vestments, offer the Whole-Burnt-Offering for himself and the Whole-Burnt-Offering for the people, making atonement for himself and the people, and burn the fat of the Absolution-Offering on the Altar.

26-28 “The man who takes the goat out to Azazel in the wilderness then will wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. After that he will be permitted to come back into the camp. The bull for the Absolution-Offering and the goat for the Absolution-Offering, whose blood has been taken into the Holy of Holies to make atonement, are to be taken outside the camp and burned—their hides, their meat, and their entrails. The man assigned to burn them up will then wash his clothes and bathe himself in water. Then he is free to come back into the camp.

Mark 7:1-23 (The Message)

Mark 7

The Source of Your Pollution

1-4 The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).

5The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”

6-8Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact:

These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.

They act like they are worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.

They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy,

Ditching God’s command
and taking up the latest fads.”

9-13He went on, “Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions! Moses said, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel out of that by saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to say to father or mother, ‘Gift! What I owed you I’ve given as a gift to God,’ thus relieving yourselves of obligation to father or mother. You scratch out God’s Word and scrawl a whim in its place. You do a lot of things like this.”

14-15Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you— take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”

17When he was back home after being with the crowd, his disciples said, “We don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

18-19Jesus said, “Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed.” (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)

20-23He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”

Psalm 40:11-17

11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
will be booed and jeered without mercy.

16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
but God, don’t put it off.

Proverbs 10:13-14

13)  You’ll find wisdom on the lips of a person of insight, but the shortsighted needs a slap in the face.

14)  The wise accumulate knowledge – a true treasure; know-it-alls talk too much – a sheer waste. The Road to Life Is a Disciplined Life


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2/23/10 Reading: Lev.14:1-57, Mk.6:30-56, Ps.40:1-10, Prov.10:11-12

Posted on 02/23/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him."

Leviticus 14:1-57

Leviticus 14

1-9 God spoke to Moses: “These are the instructions for the infected person at the time of his cleansing. First, bring him to the priest. The priest will take him outside the camp and make an examination; if the infected person has been healed of the serious skin disease, the priest will order two live, clean birds, some cedar wood, scarlet thread, and hyssop to be brought for the one to be cleansed. The priest will order him to kill one of the birds over fresh water in a clay pot. The priest will then take the live bird with the cedar wood, the scarlet thread, and the hyssop and dip them in the blood of the dead bird over fresh water and then sprinkle the person being cleansed from the serious skin disease seven times and pronounce him clean. Finally, he will release the live bird in the open field. The cleansed person, after washing his clothes, shaving off all his hair, and bathing with water, is clean. Afterwards he may again enter the camp, but he has to live outside his tent for seven days. On the seventh day, he must shave off all his hair—from his head, beard, eyebrows, all of it. He then must wash his clothes and bathe all over with water. He will be clean.

10-18 “The next day, the eighth day, he will bring two lambs without defect and a yearling ewe without defect, along with roughly six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil. The priest who pronounces him clean will place him and the materials for his offerings in the presence of God at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priest will take one of the lambs and present it and the pint of oil as a Compensation-Offering and lift them up as a Wave-Offering before God. He will slaughter the lamb in the place where the Absolution-Offering and the Whole-Burnt-Offering are slaughtered, in the Holy Place, because like the Absolution-Offering, the Compensation-Offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy. The priest will now take some of the blood of the Compensation-Offering and put it on the right earlobe of the man being cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. Following that he will take some oil and pour it into the palm of his left hand and then with the finger of his right hand sprinkle oil seven times before God. The priest will put some of the remaining oil on the right earlobe of the one being cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, placing it on top of the blood of the Compensation-Offering. He will put the rest of the oil on the head of the man being cleansed and make atonement for him before God.

19-20 “Finally the priest will sacrifice the Absolution-Offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness, slaughter the Whole-Burnt-Offering and offer it with the Grain-Offering on the Altar. He has made atonement for him. He is clean.

21-22 “If he is poor and cannot afford these offerings, he will bring one male lamb as a Compensation-Offering to be offered as a Wave-Offering to make atonement for him, and with it a couple of quarts of fine flour mixed with oil for a Grain-Offering, a pint of oil, and two doves or pigeons which he can afford, one for an Absolution-Offering and the other for a Whole-Burnt-Offering.

23-29 “On the eighth day he will bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the presence of God. The priest will take the lamb for the Compensation-Offering together with the pint of oil and wave them before God as a Wave-Offering. He will slaughter the lamb for the Compensation-Offering, take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. The priest will pour some of the oil into the palm of his left hand, and with his right finger sprinkle some of the oil from his palm seven times before God. He will put some of the oil that is in his palm on the same places he put the blood of the Compensation-Offering, on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. The priest will take what is left of the oil in his palm and put it on the head of the one to be cleansed, making atonement for him before God.

30-31 “At the last, he will sacrifice the doves or pigeons which are within his means, one as an Absolution-Offering and the other as a Whole-Burnt-Offering along with the Grain-Offering. Following this procedure the priest will make atonement for the one to be cleansed before God.”

32 These are the instructions to be followed for anyone who has a serious skin disease and cannot afford the regular offerings for his cleansing.
33-42 God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I’m giving to you as a possession, and I put a serious fungus in a house in the land of your possession, the householder is to go and tell the priest, ‘I have some kind of fungus in my house.’ The priest is to order the house vacated until he can come to examine the fungus, so that nothing in the house is declared unclean. When the priest comes and examines the house, if the fungus on the walls of the house has greenish or rusty swelling that appears to go deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest is to walk out the door and shut the house up for seven days. On the seventh day he is to come back and conduct another examination; if the fungus has spread in the walls of the house, he is to order that the stones affected by the fungus be torn out and thrown in a garbage dump outside the city. He is to make sure the entire inside of the house is scraped and the plaster that is removed be taken away to the garbage dump outside the city. Then he is to replace the stones and replaster the house.

43-47 “If the fungus breaks out again in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house has been scraped and plastered, the priest is to come and conduct an examination; if the fungus has spread, it is a malignant fungus. The house is unclean. The house has to be demolished—its stones, wood, and plaster are to be removed to the garbage dump outside the city. Anyone who enters the house while it is closed up is unclean until evening. Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash his clothes.

48-53 “But if when the priest comes and conducts his examination, he finds that the fungus has not spread after the house has been replastered, the priest is to declare that the house is clean; the fungus is cured. He then is to purify the house by taking two birds, some cedar wood, scarlet thread, and hyssop. He will slaughter one bird over fresh water in a clay pot. Then he will take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet thread, and the living bird, dip them in the blood of the killed bird and the fresh water and sprinkle the house seven times, cleansing the house with the blood of the bird, the fresh water, the living bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet thread. Last of all, he will let the living bird loose outside the city in the open field. He has made atonement for the house; the house is clean.

54-57 “These are the procedures to be followed for every kind of serious skin disease or itch, for mildew or fungus on clothing or in a house, and for a swelling or blister or shiny spot in order to determine when it is unclean and when it is clean. These are the procedures regarding infectious skin diseases and mildew and fungus.”

Mark 6:30-56

Supper for Five Thousand

30-31The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

32-34So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.

35-36When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.”

37Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.”

They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”

38But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”

That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.”

39-44Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.

Walking on the Sea

45-46As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead across to Bethsaida while he dismissed the congregation. After sending them off, he climbed a mountain to pray.

47-49Late at night, the boat was far out at sea; Jesus was still by himself on land. He could see his men struggling with the oars, the wind having come up against them. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. He intended to go right by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and screamed, scared out of their wits.

50-52Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed into the boat, the wind died down. They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.

53-56They beached the boat at Gennesaret and tied up at the landing. As soon as they got out of the boat, word got around fast. People ran this way and that, bringing their sick on stretchers to where they heard he was. Wherever he went, village or town or country crossroads, they brought their sick to the marketplace and begged him to let them touch the edge of his coat—that’s all. And whoever touched him became well.

Psalm 40:1-10

Psalm 40

A David Psalm

1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.

4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
account for you.

6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
so I can listen.

7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.

9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
let the congregation know the whole story.

Proverbs 10:11-12

11 The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

12 Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering


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2/22/10 Reading: Lev.13:1-59, Mk.6:1-29, Ps.39:1-13, Prov.10:10

Posted on 02/22/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

 

Jeremiah 18:8-10 "But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them. At another time I might decide to plant a people or country, but if they don't cooperate and won't listen to me, I will think again and give up on the plans I had for them."

 

Leviticus 13:1-59

Infections

 1-3 God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “When someone has a swelling or a blister or a shiny spot on the skin that might signal a serious skin disease on the body, bring him to Aaron the priest or to one of his priest sons. The priest will examine the sore on the skin. If the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears more than skin deep, it is a serious skin disease and infectious. After the priest has examined it, he will pronounce the person unclean.

 4-8 “If the shiny spot on the skin is white but appears to be only on the surface and the hair has not turned white, the priest will quarantine the person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest will examine it again; if, in his judgment, the sore is the same and has not spread, the priest will keep him in quarantine for another seven days. On the seventh day the priest will examine him a second time; if the sore has faded and hasn’t spread, the priest will declare him clean—it is a harmless rash. The person can go home and wash his clothes; he is clean. But if the sore spreads after he has shown himself to the priest and been declared clean, he must come back again to the priest who will conduct another examination. If the sore has spread, the priest will pronounce him unclean—it is a serious skin disease and infectious.

 9-17 “Whenever someone has a serious and infectious skin disease, you must bring him to the priest. The priest will examine him; if there is a white swelling in the skin, the hair is turning white, and there is an open sore in the swelling, it is a chronic skin disease. The priest will pronounce him unclean. But he doesn’t need to quarantine him because he’s already given his diagnosis of unclean. If a serious disease breaks out that covers all the skin from head to foot, wherever the priest looks, the priest will make a thorough examination; if the disease covers his entire body, he will pronounce the person with the sore clean—since it has turned all white, he is clean. But if they are open, running sores, he is unclean. The priest will examine the open sores and pronounce him unclean. The open sores are unclean; they are evidence of a serious skin disease. But if the open sores dry up and turn white, he is to come back to the priest who will reexamine him; if the sores have turned white, the priest will pronounce the person with the sores clean. He is clean.

 18-23 “When a person has a boil and it heals and in place of the boil there is white swelling or a reddish-white shiny spot, the person must present himself to the priest for an examination. If it looks like it has penetrated the skin and the hair in it has turned white, the priest will pronounce him unclean. It is a serious skin disease that has broken out in the boil. But if the examination shows that there is no white hair in it and it is only skin deep and has faded, the priest will put him in quarantine for seven days. If it then spreads over the skin, the priest will diagnose him as unclean. It is infectious. But if the shiny spot has not changed and hasn’t spread, it’s only a scar from the boil. The priest will pronounce him clean.

 24-28 “When a person has a burn on his skin and the raw flesh turns into a reddish-white or white shiny spot, the priest is to examine it. If the hair has turned white in the shiny spot and it looks like it’s more than skin deep, a serious skin disease has erupted in the area of the burn. The priest will pronounce him unclean; it is a serious skin disease and infectious. But if on examination there is no white hair in the shiny spot and it doesn’t look to be more than skin deep but has faded, the priest will put him in quarantine for seven days. On the seventh day the priest will reexamine him. If by then it has spread over the skin, the priest will diagnose him as unclean; it is a serious skin disease and infectious. If by that time the shiny spot has stayed the same and has not spread but has faded, it is only a swelling from the burn. The priest will pronounce him clean; it’s only a scar from the burn.

 29-37 “If a man or woman develops a sore on the head or chin, the priest will offer a diagnosis. If it looks as if it is under the skin and the hair in it is yellow and thin, he will pronounce the person ritually unclean. It is an itch, an infectious skin disease. But if when he examines the itch, he finds it is only skin deep and there is no black hair in it, he will put the person in quarantine for seven days. On the seventh day he will reexamine the sore; if the itch has not spread, there is no yellow hair in it, and it looks as if the itch is only skin deep, the person must shave, except for the itch; the priest will send him back to quarantine for another seven days. If the itch has not spread, and looks to be only skin deep, the priest will pronounce him clean. The person can go home and wash his clothes; he is clean. But if the itch spreads after being pronounced clean, the priest must reexamine it; if the itch has spread in the skin, he doesn’t have to look any farther, for yellow hair, for instance; he is unclean. But if he sees that the itch is unchanged and black hair has begun to grow in it, the itch is healed. The person is clean and the priest will pronounce him clean.

 38-39 “When a man or woman gets shiny or white shiny spots on the skin, the priest is to make an examination; if the shiny spots are dull white, it is only a rash that has broken out: The person is clean.

 40-44 “When a man loses his hair and goes bald, he is clean. If he loses his hair from his forehead, he is bald and he is clean. But if he has a reddish-white sore on scalp or forehead, it means a serious skin disease is breaking out. The priest is to examine it; if the swollen sore on his scalp or forehead is reddish-white like the appearance of the sore of a serious skin disease, he has a serious skin disease and is unclean. The priest has to pronounce him unclean because of the sore on his head.

 45-46 “Any person with a serious skin disease must wear torn clothes, leave his hair loose and unbrushed, cover his upper lip, and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as anyone has the sores, that one continues to be ritually unclean. That person must live alone; he or she must live outside the camp.
47-58 “If clothing—woolen or linen clothing, woven or knitted cloth of linen or wool, leather or leatherwork—is infected with a patch of serious fungus and if the spot in the clothing or the leather or the woven or the knitted material or anything made of leather is greenish or rusty, that is a sign of serious fungus. Show it to the priest. The priest will examine the spot and then confiscate the material for seven days. On the seventh day he will reexamine the spot. If it has spread in the garment—the woven or knitted or leather material—it is the spot of a persistent serious fungus and the material is unclean. He must burn the garment. Because of the persistent and contaminating fungus, the material must be burned. But if when the priest examines it the spot has not spread in the garment, the priest will command the owner to wash the material that has the spot, and he will confiscate it for another seven days. He’ll then make another examination after it has been washed; if the spot hasn’t changed in appearance, even though it hasn’t spread, it is still unclean. Burn it up, whether the fungus has affected the back or the front. If, when the priest makes his examination, the spot has faded after it has been washed, he is to tear the spot from the garment. But if it reappears, it is a fresh outbreak—throw whatever has the spot in the fire. If the garment is washed and the spot has gone away, then wash it a second time; it is clean.

 59 “These are the instructions regarding a spot of serious fungus in clothing of wool or linen, woven or knitted material, or any article of leather, for pronouncing them clean or unclean.”

 Mark 6:1-29

Just a Carpenter

 1-2 He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”

 3But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.

 4-6Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.

The Twelve

 7-8Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:

 8-9“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.

 10“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.

 11“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

 12-13Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.

The Death of John

 14King Herod heard of all this, for by this time the name of Jesus was on everyone’s lips. He said, “This has to be John the Baptizer come back from the dead—that’s why he’s able to work miracles!”

 15Others said, “No, it’s Elijah.”

   Others said, “He’s a prophet, just like one of the old-time prophets.”

 16But Herod wouldn’t budge: “It’s John, sure enough. I cut off his head, and now he’s back, alive.”

 17-20Herod was the one who had ordered the arrest of John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison at the nagging of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herodias, smoldering with hate, wanted to kill him, but didn’t dare because Herod was in awe of John. Convinced that he was a holy man, he gave him special treatment. Whenever he listened to him he was miserable with guilt—and yet he couldn’t stay away. Something in John kept pulling him back.

 21-22But a portentous day arrived when Herod threw a birthday party, inviting all the brass and bluebloods in Galilee. Herodias’s daughter entered the banquet hall and danced for the guests. She dazzled Herod and the guests.

 22-23The king said to the girl, “Ask me anything. I’ll give you anything you want.” Carried away, he kept on, “I swear, I’ll split my kingdom with you if you say so!”

 24She went back to her mother and said, “What should I ask for?”

   “Ask for the head of John the Baptizer.”

 25Excited, she ran back to the king and said, “I want the head of John the Baptizer served up on a platter. And I want it now!”

 26-29That sobered the king up fast. But unwilling to lose face with his guests, he caved in and let her have her wish. The king sent the executioner off to the prison with orders to bring back John’s head. He went, cut off John’s head, brought it back on a platter, and presented it to the girl, who gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and got the body and gave it a decent burial.

 Psalm 39:1-13

A David Psalm

 1-3 I’m determined to watch steps and tongue so they won’t land me in trouble. 
   I decided to hold my tongue 
      as long as Wicked is in the room. 
   “Mum’s the word,” I said, and kept quiet. 
      But the longer I kept silence 
   The worse it got— 
      my insides got hotter and hotter. 
   My thoughts boiled over; 
      I spilled my guts. 

 4-6 “Tell me, what’s going on, God? 
      How long do I have to live? 
      Give me the bad news! 
   You’ve kept me on pretty short rations; 
      my life is string too short to be saved. 
   Oh! we’re all puffs of air. 
      Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire. 
   Oh! we’re just spit in the wind. 
      We make our pile, and then we leave it. 

 7-11 “What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? 
      Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping 
   You’ll save me from a rebel life, 
      save me from the contempt of dunces. 
   I’ll say no more, I’ll shut my mouth, 
      since you, Lord, are behind all this. 
      But I can’t take it much longer. 
   When you put us through the fire 
      to purge us from our sin, 
      our dearest idols go up in smoke. 
   Are we also nothing but smoke? 

 12-13 “Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my 
      cry—open your ears. 
   Don’t be callous; 
      just look at these tears of mine. 
   I’m a stranger here. I don’t know my way— 
      a migrant like my whole family. 
   Give me a break, cut me some slack 
      before it’s too late and I’m out of here.”

Proverbs 10:10

10) An evasive eye is a sign of trouble ahead, but an open, face-to-face meeting results in peace.


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2/21/10 Reading: Lev.11:1-12:8, Mk.5:21-43, Ps.38:1-22, Prov.10:8-9

Posted on 02/21/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

John 4:11-26 ""The woman said, "Sir, you don't even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this 'living water'? 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. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life." The woman said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't ever get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again!" He said, "Go call your husband and then come back." "I have no husband," she said. "That's nicely put: 'I have no husband.' You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough." "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. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. 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 the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their 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."

Leviticus 11-12:8

Leviticus 11

Foods

1-2God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, Of all the animals on Earth, these are the animals that you may eat:

3-8 “You may eat any animal that has a split hoof, divided in two, and that chews the cud, but not an animal that only chews the cud or only has a split hoof. For instance, the camel chews the cud but doesn’t have a split hoof, so it’s unclean. The rock badger chews the cud but doesn’t have a split hoof and so it’s unclean. The rabbit chews the cud but doesn’t have a split hoof so is unclean. The pig has a split hoof, divided in two, but doesn’t chew the cud and so is unclean. You may not eat their meat nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

9-12 “Among the creatures that live in the water of the seas and streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales. But anything that doesn’t have fins and scales, whether in seas or streams, whether small creatures in the shallows or huge creatures in the deeps, you are to detest. Yes, detest them. Don’t eat their meat; detest their carcasses. Anything living in the water that doesn’t have fins and scales is detestable to you.

13-19 “These are the birds you are to detest. Don’t eat them. They are detestable: eagle, vulture, osprey, kite, all falcons, all ravens, ostrich, nighthawk, sea gull, all hawks, owl, cormorant, ibis, water hen, pelican, Egyptian vulture, stork, all herons, hoopoe, bat.

20-23 “All flying insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you. But you can eat some of these, namely, those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground: all locusts, katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers. But all the other flying insects that have four legs you are to detest.

24-25 “You will make yourselves ritually unclean until evening if you touch their carcasses. If you pick up one of their carcasses you must wash your clothes and you’ll be unclean until evening.

26 “Every animal that has a split hoof that’s not completely divided, or that doesn’t chew the cud is unclean for you; if you touch the carcass of any of them you become unclean.

27-28 “Every four-footed animal that goes on its paws is unclean for you; if you touch its carcass you are unclean until evening. If you pick up its carcass you must wash your clothes and are unclean until evening. They are unclean for you.

29-38 “Among the creatures that crawl on the ground, the following are unclean for you: weasel, rat, all lizards, gecko, monitor lizard, wall lizard, skink, chameleon. Among the crawling creatures, these are unclean for you. If you touch them when they are dead, you are ritually unclean until evening. When one of them dies and falls on something, that becomes unclean no matter what it’s used for, whether it’s made of wood, cloth, hide, or sackcloth. Put it in the water—it’s unclean until evening, and then it’s clean. If one of these dead creatures falls into a clay pot, everything in the pot is unclean and you must break the pot. Any food that could be eaten but has water on it from such a pot is unclean, and any liquid that could be drunk from it is unclean. Anything that one of these carcasses falls on is unclean—an oven or cooking pot must be broken up; they’re unclean and must be treated as unclean. A spring, though, or a cistern for collecting water remains clean, but if you touch one of these carcasses you’re ritually unclean. If a carcass falls on any seeds that are to be planted, they remain clean. But if water has been put on the seed and a carcass falls on it, you must treat it as unclean.

39-40 “If an animal that you are permitted to eat dies, anyone who touches the carcass is ritually unclean until evening. If you eat some of the carcass you must wash your clothes and you are unclean until evening. If you pick up the carcass you must wash your clothes and are unclean until evening.

41-43 “Creatures that crawl on the ground are detestable and not to be eaten. Don’t eat creatures that crawl on the ground, whether on their belly or on all fours or on many feet—they are detestable. Don’t make yourselves unclean or be defiled by them, because I am your God.

44-45 “Make yourselves holy for I am holy. Don’t make yourselves ritually unclean by any creature that crawls on the ground. I am God who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Be holy because I am holy.

46-47 “These are the instructions on animals, birds, fish, and creatures that crawl on the ground. You have to distinguish between the ritually unclean and the clean, between living creatures that can be eaten and those that cannot be eaten.”

Leviticus 12

Childbirth

1-5 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, A woman who conceives and gives birth to a boy is ritually unclean for seven days, the same as during her menstruation. On the eighth day circumcise the boy. The mother must stay home another thirty-three days for purification from her bleeding. She may not touch anything consecrated or enter the Sanctuary until the days of her purification are complete. If she gives birth to a girl, she is unclean for fourteen days, the same as during her menstruation. She must stay home for sixty-six days for purification from her bleeding.

6-7 “When the days for her purification for either a boy or a girl are complete, she will bring a yearling lamb for a Whole-Burnt-Offering and a pigeon or dove for an Absolution-Offering to the priest at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. He will offer it to God and make atonement for her. She is then clean from her flow of blood.

“These are the instructions for a woman who gives birth to either a boy or a girl.

8 “If she can’t afford a lamb, she can bring two doves or two pigeons, one for the Whole-Burnt-Offering and one for the Absolution-Offering. The priest will make atonement for her and she will be clean.”

Mark 5:21-43

A Risk of Faith

21-24After Jesus crossed over by boat, a large crowd met him at the seaside. One of the meeting-place leaders named Jairus came. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.” Jesus went with him, the whole crowd tagging along, pushing and jostling him.

25-29A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.

30At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!”

32-33But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story.

34Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

35While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?”

36Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.”

37-40He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.

40-43But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room. Then he said, “Give her something to eat.”

Psalm 38:1-22

Psalm 38

A David Psalm

1-2 Take a deep breath, God; calm down— don’t be so hasty with your punishing rod.
Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood;
my backside smarts from your caning.

3-4 I’ve lost twenty pounds in two months
because of your accusation.
My bones are brittle as dry sticks
because of my sin.
I’m swamped by my bad behavior,
collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.

5-8 The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face
feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,
my body is a wreck.
I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—
my life is a vomit of groans.

9-16 Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight,
my groans an old story to you.
My heart’s about to break;
I’m a burned-out case.
Cataracts blind me to God and good;
old friends avoid me like the plague.
My cousins never visit,
my neighbors stab me in the back.
My competitors blacken my name,
devoutly they pray for my ruin.
But I’m deaf and mute to it all,
ears shut, mouth shut.
I don’t hear a word they say,
don’t speak a word in response.
What I do, God, is wait for you,
wait for my Lord, my God—you will answer!
I wait and pray so they won’t laugh me off,
won’t smugly strut off when I stumble.

17-20 I’m on the edge of losing it—
the pain in my gut keeps burning.
I’m ready to tell my story of failure,
I’m no longer smug in my sin.
My enemies are alive and in action,
a lynch mob after my neck.
I give out good and get back evil
from God-haters who can’t stand a God-lover.

21-22 Don’t dump me, God;
my God, don’t stand me up.
Hurry and help me;
I want some wide-open space in my life!

Proverbs 10:8-9

8)  A wise heart takes orders; an empty head will come unglued.

9)  Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.


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2/20/10 Reading: Lev.9:7-10:20, Mk.4:26-5:20, Ps.37:30-40, Prov.10:6-7

Posted on 02/20/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

John 19:17 "Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha)"

Leviticus 9:7-10:20

7 Moses instructed Aaron, “Approach the Altar and sacrifice your Absolution-Offering and your Whole-Burnt-Offering. Make atonement for yourself and for the people. Sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, just as God commanded.”

8-11 Aaron approached the Altar and slaughtered the calf as an Absolution-Offering for himself. Aaron’s sons brought the blood to him. He dipped his finger in the blood and smeared some of it on the horns of the Altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the Altar. He burned the fat, the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver from the Absolution-Offering on the Altar, just as God had commanded Moses. He burned the meat and the skin outside the camp.

12-14 Then he slaughtered the Whole-Burnt-Offering. Aaron’s sons handed him the blood and he threw it against each side of the Altar. They handed him the pieces and the head and he burned these on the Altar. He washed the entrails and the legs and burned them on top of the Whole-Burnt-Offering on the Altar.

15-21 Next Aaron presented the offerings of the people. He took the male goat, the Absolution-Offering for the people, slaughtered it, and offered it as an Absolution-Offering just as he did with the first offering. He presented the Whole-Burnt-Offering following the same procedures. He presented the Grain-Offering by taking a handful of it and burning it on the Altar along with the morning Whole-Burnt-Offering. He slaughtered the bull and the ram, the people’s Peace-Offerings. Aaron’s sons handed him the blood and he threw it against each side of the Altar. The fat pieces from the bull and the ram—the fat tail and the fat that covers the kidney and the lobe of the liver—they laid on the breasts and Aaron burned it on the Altar. Aaron waved the breasts and the right thigh before God as a Wave-Offering, just as God commanded.

22-24 Aaron lifted his hands over the people and blessed them. Having completed the rituals of the Absolution-Offering, the Whole-Burnt-Offering, and the Peace-Offering, he came down from the Altar. Moses and Aaron entered the Tent of Meeting. When they came out they blessed the people and the Glory of God appeared to all the people. Fire blazed out from God and consumed the Whole-Burnt-Offering and the fat pieces on the Altar. When all the people saw it happen they cheered loudly and then fell down, bowing in reverence.

Leviticus 10

Nadab and Abihu

1-2 That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered “strange” fire to God—something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them—they died in God’s presence.

3 Moses said to Aaron, “This is what God meant when he said,

To the one who comes near me,
I will show myself holy;
Before all the people,
I will show my glory.”

Aaron was silent.

4-5 Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Uzziel, Aaron’s uncle. He said, “Come. Carry your dead cousins outside the camp, away from the Sanctuary.” They came and carried them off, outside the camp, just as Moses had directed.

6-7 Moses then said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “No mourning rituals for you—unkempt hair, torn clothes—or you’ll also die and God will be angry with the whole congregation. Your relatives—all the People of Israel, in fact—will do the mourning over those God has destroyed by fire. And don’t leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting lest you die, because God’s anointing oil is on you.”

They did just as Moses said.
8-11 God instructed Aaron: “When you enter the Tent of Meeting, don’t drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, lest you die. This is a fixed rule down through the generations. Distinguish between the holy and the common, between the ritually clean and unclean. Teach the People of Israel all the decrees that God has spoken to them through Moses.”

12-15 Moses spoke to Aaron and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the leftovers of the Grain-Offering from the Fire-Gifts for God and eat beside the Altar that which has been prepared without yeast, for it is most holy. Eat it in the Holy Place because it is your portion and the portion of your sons from the Fire-Gifts for God. This is what God commanded me. Also, you and your sons and daughters are to eat the breast of the Wave-Offering and the thigh of the Contribution-Offering in a clean place. They are provided as your portion and the portion of your children from the Peace-Offerings presented by the People of Israel. Bring the thigh of the Contribution-Offering and the breast of the Wave-Offering and the fat pieces of the Fire-Gifts and lift them up as a Wave-Offering. This will be the regular share for you and your children as ordered by God.”

16-18 When Moses looked into the matter of the goat of the Absolution-Offering, he found that it had been burned up. He became angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and asked, “Why didn’t you eat the Absolution-Offering in the Holy Place since it is most holy? The offering was given to you for taking away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before God. Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the Sanctuary as I commanded.”

19 Aaron replied to Moses, “Look. They sacrificed their Absolution-Offering and Whole-Burnt-Offering before God today, and you see what has happened to me—I’ve lost two sons. Do you think God would have been pleased if I had gone ahead and eaten the Absolution-Offering today?”

20 When Moses heard this response, he accepted it.

Mark 4:26-5:20

Never Without a Story

26-29Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

30-32“How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”

33-34With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.

The Wind Ran Out of Breath

35-38Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

39-40Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

41They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Mark 5

The Madman

1-5 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

6-8When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)

9-10Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”

He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.

11-13A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.” Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.

14-15Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.

16-17Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back.

18-20As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.

Psalm 37:30-40

30-31 Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone,
rolls virtue around on his tongue.
His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins;
his feet are as sure as a cat’s.

32-33 Wicked sets a watch for Righteous,
he’s out for the kill.
God, alert, is also on watch—
Wicked won’t hurt a hair of his head.

34 Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun
while you watch the wicked lose it.

35-36 I saw Wicked bloated like a toad,
croaking pretentious nonsense.
The next time I looked there was nothing—
a punctured bladder, vapid and limp.

37-38 Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future
in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;
insolent souls are on a dead-end street.


39-40 The spacious, free life is from God,
it’s also protected and safe.
God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—
when we run to him, he saves us.

Proverbs 10:6-7

6)  Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

7)   A good and honest life is a blessed memorial; a wicked life leaves a rotten stench.


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St. John Chrysostom on Fasting

Posted on 02/20/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, Think on this |

Saint John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. After his death he was given the Greek surname chrysostomos, meaning "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs, together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church.

“Give me proof of it by your works.

If you see a poor man, take pity on him.

If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.

Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.

Let the hands fast by avoiding covetousness.

Let the feet fast by ceasing to run after sin.

Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.

Let the ears fast by not listening to evil talk and gossip…

Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?”

Saint John Chrysostom, 344-407


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Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephrem

Posted on 02/19/2010. Filed under: Daily Devotions, February 2010 Readings, Think on this |

Born on the year 306 and died around the year 373. Saint Ephrem The Syrian was a Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially among Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christians, and Syriac Christians, as a saint.

Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephrem

To be recited all throughout Lenten season. As always we pray to Jesus, directing our heart, soul, and energy for His mercy. We do this prayer to rid ourselves of every negative trait we have accumulated over time. Think of it as a deep spiritual, ongoing new year’s resolution pact with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Affix your mind to Him and ask Him to show you the way.  For Jesus is our Divine Teacher.

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.


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2/19/10 Readings: Lev.7:28-9:6, Mk.3:31-4:25, Ps.37:12-29, Prov.10:5

Posted on 02/19/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Matthew 2:13 "After the scholars were gone, God's angel showed up again in Joseph's dream and commanded, "Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him."

Leviticus 7:28-9:6

28-34 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you present a Peace-Offering to God, bring some of your Peace-Offering as a special sacrifice to God, a gift to God in your own hands. Bring the fat with the breast and then wave the breast before God as a Wave-Offering. The priest will burn the fat on the Altar; Aaron and his sons get the breast. Give the right thigh from your Peace-Offerings as a Contribution-Offering to the priest. Give a portion of the right thigh to the son of Aaron who offers the blood and fat of the Peace-Offering as his portion. From the Peace-Offerings of Israel, I’m giving the breast of the Wave-Offering and the thigh of the Contribution-Offering to Aaron the priest and his sons. This is their fixed compensation from the People of Israel.”

35-36 From the day they are presented to serve as priests to God, Aaron and his sons can expect to receive these allotments from the gifts of God. This is what God commanded the People of Israel to give the priests from the day of their anointing. This is the fixed rule down through the generations.

37-38 These are the instructions for the Whole-Burnt-Offering, the Grain-Offering, the Absolution-Offering, the Compensation-Offering, the Ordination-Offering, and the Peace-Offering which God gave Moses at Mount Sinai on the day he commanded the People of Israel to present their offerings to God in the wilderness of Sinai.

Leviticus 8

The Ordination of Priests

1-4 God spoke to Moses: He said, “Take Aaron and with him his sons, the garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the Absolution-Offering, the two rams, and the basket of unraised bread. Gather the entire congregation at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.” Moses did just as God commanded him and the congregation gathered at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.

5 Moses addressed the congregation: “This is what God has commanded to be done.”

6-9 Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. He put the tunic on Aaron and tied it around him with a sash. Then he put the robe on him and placed the Ephod on him. He fastened the Ephod with a woven belt, making it snug. He put the Breastpiece on him and put the Urim and Thummim in the pouch of the Breastpiece. He placed the turban on his head with the gold plate fixed to the front of it, the holy crown, just as God had commanded Moses.

10-12 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed The Dwelling and everything that was in it, consecrating them. He sprinkled some of the oil on the Altar seven times, anointing the Altar and all its utensils, the Washbasin and its stand, consecrating them. He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, anointing him and thus consecrating him.

13 Moses brought Aaron’s sons forward and put tunics on them, belted them with sashes, and put caps on them, just as God had commanded Moses.

14-17 Moses brought out the bull for the Absolution-Offering. Aaron and his sons placed their hands on its head. Moses slaughtered the bull and purified the Altar by smearing the blood on each of the horns of the Altar with his finger. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the Altar. He consecrated it so atonement could be made on it. Moses took all the fat on the entrails and the lobe of liver and the two kidneys with their fat and burned it all on the Altar. The bull with its hide and meat and guts he burned outside the camp, just as God had commanded Moses.

18-21 Moses presented the ram for the Whole-Burnt-Offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. Moses slaughtered it and splashed the blood against all sides of the Altar. He cut the ram up into pieces and then burned the head, the pieces, and the fat. He washed the entrails and the legs with water and then burned the whole ram on the Altar. It was a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a pleasing fragrance—a gift to God, just as God had commanded Moses.

22-29 Moses then presented the second ram, the ram for the Ordination-Offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head. Moses slaughtered it and smeared some of its blood on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. Then Aaron’s sons were brought forward and Moses smeared some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Moses threw the remaining blood against each side of the Altar. He took the fat, the fat tail, all the fat that was on the entrails, the lobe of the liver, the two kidneys with their fat, and the right thigh. From the basket of unraised bread that was in the presence of God he took one loaf of the unraised bread made with oil and one wafer. He placed these on the fat portions and the right thigh. He put all this in the hands of Aaron and his sons who waved them before God as a Wave-Offering. Then Moses took it all back from their hands and burned them on the Altar on top of the Whole-Burnt-Offering. These were the Ordination-Offerings, a pleasing fragrance to God, a gift to God. Then Moses took the breast and raised it up as a Wave-Offering before God; it was Moses’ portion from the Ordination-Offering ram, just as God had commanded Moses.

30 Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the Altar and sprinkled Aaron and his garments, and his sons and their garments, consecrating Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments.

31-35 Moses spoke to Aaron and his sons: “Boil the meat at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and eat it there with the bread from the basket of ordination, just as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons are to eat it.’ Burn up the leftovers from the meat and bread. Don’t leave through the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for the seven days that will complete your ordination. Your ordination will last seven days. God commanded what has been done this day in order to make atonement for you. Stay at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days. Be sure to do what God requires, lest you die. This is what I have been commanded.”

36 Aaron and his sons did everything that God had commanded by Moses.

Leviticus 9

The Priests Go to Work

1-2 On the eighth day, Moses called in Aaron and his sons and the leaders of Israel. He spoke to Aaron: “Take a bull-calf for your Absolution-Offering and a ram for your Whole-Burnt-Offering, both without defect, and offer them to God.

3-4 “Then tell the People of Israel, Take a male goat for an Absolution-Offering and a calf and a lamb, both yearlings without defect, for a Whole-Burnt-Offering and a bull and a ram for a Peace-Offering, to be sacrificed before God with a Grain-Offering mixed with oil, because God will appear to you today.”

5-6 They brought the things that Moses had ordered to the Tent of Meeting. The whole congregation came near and stood before God. Moses said, “This is what God commanded you to do so that the Shining Glory of God will appear to you.”

Mark 3:31-4:25

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

31-32Just then his mother and brothers showed up. Standing outside, they relayed a message that they wanted a word with him. He was surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you.”

33-35Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 4

The Story of the Scattered Seed

1-2 He went back to teaching by the sea. A crowd built up to such a great size that he had to get into an offshore boat, using the boat as a pulpit as the people pushed to the water’s edge. He taught by using stories, many stories.

3-8“Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.

9“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

10-12When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—

Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”

13He continued, “Do you see how this story works? All my stories work this way.

14-15“The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them.

16-17“And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

18-19“The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.

20“But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”

Giving, Not Getting

21-22Jesus went on: “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open.

23“Are you listening to this? Really listening?

24-25“Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”

Psalm 37:12-29

12-13 Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him
they’re a joke with no punch line.

14-15 Bullies brandish their swords,
pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They’re out to beat up on the harmless,
or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—
slapstick figures in a moral circus.

16-17 Less is more and more is less.
One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
but the righteous are God-strong.

18-19 God keeps track of the decent folk;
what they do won’t soon be forgotten.
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;
when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.

20 God-despisers have had it;
God’s enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,
vanished like smoke in thin air.

21-22 Wicked borrows and never returns;
Righteous gives and gives.
Generous gets it all in the end;
Stingy is cut off at the pass.

23-24 Stalwart walks in step with God;
his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
God has a grip on his hand.

25-26 I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
his children making him proud.

27-28 Turn your back on evil,
work for the good and don’t quit.
God loves this kind of thing,
never turns away from his friends.

28-29 Live this way and you’ve got it made,
but bad eggs will be tossed out.
The good get planted on good land
and put down healthy roots.

Proverbs 10:5

5)  Make hay while the sun shines – that’s smart; go fishing during harvest – that’s stupid.


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2/18/10 Reading: Lev.6:1-7:27, Mk.3:7-30, Ps.37:1-11, Prov.10:3-4

Posted on 02/18/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Matthew 15:32-39 "But Jesus wasn't finished with them. He called his disciples and said, "I hurt for these people. For three days now they've been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can't send them away without a meal—they'd probably collapse on the road."His disciples said, "But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?" Jesus asked, "How much bread do you have?" "Seven loaves," they said, "plus a few fish." At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal."

Leviticus 6-7:27

Leviticus 6

1-6 God spoke to Moses: “When anyone sins by betraying trust with God by deceiving his neighbor regarding something entrusted to him, or by robbing or cheating or threatening him; or if he has found something lost and lies about it and swears falsely regarding any of these sins that people commonly commit—when he sins and is found guilty, he must return what he stole or extorted, restore what was entrusted to him, return the lost thing he found, or anything else about which he swore falsely. He must make full compensation, add twenty percent to it, and hand it over to the owner on the same day he brings his Compensation-Offering. He must present to God as his Compensation-Offering a ram without any defect from the flock, assessed at the value of a Compensation-Offering.

7 “Thus the priest will make atonement for him before God and he’s forgiven of any of the things that one does that bring guilt.”

Further Instructions

8-13 God spoke to Moses: “Command Aaron and his sons. Tell them, These are the instructions for the Whole-Burnt-Offering. Leave the Whole-Burnt-Offering on the Altar hearth through the night until morning, with the fire kept burning on the Altar. Then dress in your linen clothes with linen underwear next to your body. Remove the ashes remaining from the Whole-Burnt-Offering and place them beside the Altar. Then change clothes and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. Meanwhile keep the fire on the Altar burning; it must not go out. Replenish the wood for the fire every morning, arrange the Whole-Burnt-Offering on it, and burn the fat of the Peace-Offering on top of it all. Keep the fire burning on the Altar continuously. It must not go out.
14-18 “These are the instructions for the Grain-Offering. Aaron’s sons are to present it to God in front of the Altar. The priest takes a handful of the fine flour of the Grain-Offering with its oil and all its incense and burns this as a memorial on the Altar, a pleasing fragrance to God. Aaron and his sons eat the rest of it. It is unraised bread and so eaten in a holy place—in the Courtyard of the Tent of Meeting. They must not bake it with yeast. I have designated it as their share of the gifts presented to me. It is very holy, like the Absolution-Offering and the Compensation-Offering. Any male descendant among Aaron’s sons may eat it. This is a fixed rule regarding God’s gifts, stretching down the generations. Anyone who touches these offerings must be holy.”
19-23 God spoke to Moses: “This is the offering which Aaron and his sons each are to present to God on the day he is anointed: two quarts of fine flour as a regular Grain-Offering, half in the morning and half in the evening. Prepare it with oil on a griddle. Bring it well-mixed and then present it crumbled in pieces as a pleasing fragrance to God. Aaron’s son who is anointed to succeed him offers it to God—this is a fixed rule. The whole thing is burned. Every Grain-Offering of a priest is burned completely; it must not be eaten.”
24-30 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, These are the instructions for the Absolution-Offering. Slaughter the Absolution-Offering in the place where the Whole-Burnt-Offering is slaughtered before God—the offering is most holy. The priest in charge eats it in a holy place, the Courtyard of the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who touches any of the meat must be holy. A garment that gets blood spattered on it must be washed in a holy place. Break the clay pot in which the meat was cooked. If it was cooked in a bronze pot, scour it and rinse it with water. Any male among the priestly families may eat it; it is most holy. But any Absolution-Offering whose blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting to make atonement in the Sanctuary must not be eaten, it has to be burned.”

Leviticus 7

1-6 “These are the instructions for the Compensation-Offering. It is most holy. Slaughter the Compensation-Offering in the same place that the Whole-Burnt-Offering is slaughtered. Splash its blood against all sides of the Altar. Offer up all the fat: the fat tail, the fat covering the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat encasing them at the loins, and the lobe of the liver that is removed with the kidneys. The priest burns them on the Altar as a gift to God. It is a Compensation-Offering. Any male from among the priests’ families may eat it. But it must be eaten in a holy place; it is most holy.

7-10 “The Compensation-Offering is the same as the Absolution-Offering— the same rules apply to both. The offering belongs to the priest who makes atonement with it. The priest who presents a Whole-Burnt-Offering for someone gets the hide for himself. Every Grain-Offering baked in an oven or prepared in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who presents it. It’s his. Every Grain-Offering, whether dry or mixed with oil, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron.
11-15 “These are the instructions for the Peace-Offering which is presented to God. If you bring it to offer thanksgiving, then along with the Thanksgiving-Offering present unraised loaves of bread mixed with oil, unraised wafers spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour, well-kneaded and mixed with oil. Along with the Peace-Offering of thanksgiving, present loaves of yeast bread as an offering. Bring one of each kind as an offering, a Contribution-Offering to God; it goes to the priest who throws the blood of the Peace-Offering. Eat the meat from the Peace-Offering of thanksgiving the same day it is offered. Don’t leave any of it overnight.

16-21 “If the offering is a Votive-Offering or a Freewill-Offering, it may be eaten the same day it is sacrificed and whatever is left over on the next day may also be eaten. But any meat from the sacrifice that is left to the third day must be burned up. If any of the meat from the Peace-Offering is eaten on the third day, the person who has brought it will not be accepted. It won’t benefit him a bit—it has become defiled meat. And whoever eats it must take responsibility for his iniquity. Don’t eat meat that has touched anything ritually unclean; burn it up. Any other meat can be eaten by those who are ritually clean. But if you’re not ritually clean and eat meat from the Peace-Offering for God, you will be excluded from the congregation. And if you touch anything ritually unclean, whether human or animal uncleanness or an obscene object, and go ahead and eat from a Peace-Offering for God, you’ll be excluded from the congregation.”
22-27 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, Don’t eat any fat of cattle or sheep or goats. The fat of an animal found dead or torn by wild animals can be put to some other purpose, but you may not eat it. If you eat fat from an animal from which a gift has been presented to God, you’ll be excluded from the congregation. And don’t eat blood, whether of birds or animals, no matter where you end up living. If you eat blood you’ll be excluded from the congregation.”

Mark 3:7-30

The Twelve Apostles

7-10Jesus went off with his disciples to the sea to get away. But a huge crowd from Galilee trailed after them—also from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, across the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon—swarms of people who had heard the reports and had come to see for themselves. He told his disciples to get a boat ready so he wouldn’t be trampled by the crowd. He had healed many people, and now everyone who had something wrong was pushing and shoving to get near and touch him.

11-12Evil spirits, when they recognized him, fell down and cried out, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus would have none of it. He shut them up, forbidding them to identify him in public.

13-19He climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve, and designated them apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority to banish demons. These are the Twelve:

Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),
James, son of Zebedee,
John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”),
Andrew,
Philip,
Bartholomew,
Matthew,
Thomas,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Thaddaeus,
Simon the Canaanite,
Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him).

Satan Fighting Satan?

20-21Jesus came home and, as usual, a crowd gathered—so many making demands on him that there wasn’t even time to eat. His friends heard what was going on and went to rescue him, by force if necessary. They suspected he was getting carried away with himself.

22-27The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: “Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn’t be any Satan left. Do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.

28-30“Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil.

Psalm 37:1-11

Psalm 37

A David Psalm

1-2 Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings
and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

3-4 Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.

5-6 Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.

7 Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

8-9 Bridle your anger, trash your wrath,
cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.
Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
God-investors will soon own the store.

10-11 Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
relishing a huge bonanza.

Prov.10:3-4

3 God won’t starve an honest soul, but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked.

4 Sloth makes you poor; diligence brings wealth.


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2/17/10 Reading: Lev.4:1-5:19, Mk.2:13-3:6, Ps.36:1-12, Prov.10:1-2

Posted on 02/17/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

John 2:3-11 "When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine." Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me." She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim. "Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did. When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!" This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him."

Leviticus 4-5:19

Leviticus 4

The Absolution-Offering

1-12 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, When a person sins unintentionally by straying from any of God’s commands, breaking what must not be broken, if it’s the anointed priest who sins and so brings guilt on the people, he is to bring a bull without defect to God as an Absolution-Offering for the sin he has committed. Have him bring the bull to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting in the presence of God, lay his hand on the bull’s head, and slaughter the bull before God. He is then to take some of the bull’s blood, bring it into the Tent of Meeting, dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of it seven times before God, before the curtain of the Sanctuary. He is to smear some of the blood on the horns of the Altar of Fragrant Incense before God which is in the Tent of Meeting. He is to pour the rest of the bull’s blood out at the base of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. He is to remove all the fat from the bull of the Absolution-Offering, the fat which covers and is connected to the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is around them at the loins, and the lobe of the liver which he takes out along with the kidneys—the same procedure as when the fat is removed from the bull of the Peace-Offering. Finally, he is to burn all this on the Altar of Burnt Offering. Everything else—the bull’s hide, meat, head, legs, organs, and guts—he is to take outside the camp to a clean place where the ashes are dumped and is to burn it on a wood fire.

13-21 “If the whole congregation sins unintentionally by straying from one of the commandments of God that must not be broken, they become guilty even though no one is aware of it. When they do become aware of the sin they’ve committed, the congregation must bring a bull as an Absolution-Offering and present it at the Tent of Meeting. The elders of the congregation will lay their hands on the bull’s head in the presence of God and one of them will slaughter it before God. The anointed priest will then bring some of the blood into the Tent of Meeting, dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of it seven times before God in front of the curtain. He will smear some of the blood on the horns of the Altar which is before God in the Tent of Meeting and pour the rest of it at the base of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. He will remove all the fat and burn it on the Altar. He will follow the same procedure with this bull as with the bull for the Absolution-Offering. The priest makes atonement for them and they are forgiven. They then will take the bull outside the camp and burn it just as they burned the first bull. It’s the Absolution-Offering for the congregation.

22-26 “When a ruler sins unintentionally by straying from one of the commands of his God which must not be broken, he is guilty. When he becomes aware of the sin he has committed, he must bring a goat for his offering, a male without any defect, lay his hand on the head of the goat, and slaughter it in the place where they slaughter the Whole-Burnt-Offering in the presence of God—it’s an Absolution-Offering. The priest will then take some of the blood of the Absolution-Offering with his finger, smear it on the horns of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering, and pour the rest at the base of the Altar. He will burn all its fat on the Altar, the same as with the fat of the Peace-Offering.

“The priest makes atonement for him on account of his sin and he’s forgiven.

27-31 “When an ordinary member of the congregation sins unintentionally, straying from one of the commandments of God which must not be broken, he is guilty. When he is made aware of his sin, he shall bring a goat, a female without any defect, and offer it for his sin, lay his hand on the head of the Absolution-Offering, and slaughter it at the place of the Whole-Burnt-Offering. The priest will take some of its blood with his finger, smear it on the horns of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering, and pour the rest at the base of the Altar. Finally, he’ll take out all the fat, the same as with the Peace-Offerings, and burn it on the Altar for a pleasing fragrance to God.

“In this way, the priest makes atonement for him and he’s forgiven.

32-35 “If he brings a lamb for an Absolution-Offering, he shall present a female without any defect, lay his hand on the head of the Absolution-Offering, and slaughter it at the same place they slaughter the Whole-Burnt-Offering. The priest will take some of the blood of the Absolution-Offering with his finger, smear it on the horns of the Altar of Burnt-Offering, and pour the rest at the base of the Altar. He shall remove all the fat, the same as for the lamb of the Peace-Offering. Finally, the priest will burn it on the Altar on top of the gifts to God.

“In this way, the priest makes atonement for him on account of his sin and he’s forgiven.”

Leviticus 5

1 “If you sin by not stepping up and offering yourself as a witness to something you’ve heard or seen in cases of wrongdoing, you’ll be held responsible.

2 “Or if you touch anything ritually unclean, like the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or a dead reptile, and you weren’t aware of it at the time, but you’re contaminated and you’re guilty;

3 “Or if you touch human uncleanness, any sort of ritually contaminating uncleanness, and you’re not aware of it at the time, but later you realize it and you’re guilty;

4 “Or if you impulsively swear to do something, whether good or bad— some rash oath that just pops out—and you aren’t aware of what you’ve done at the time, but later you come to realize it and you’re guilty in any of these cases;

5-6 “When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you’ve committed and bring as your penalty to God for the sin you have committed a female lamb or goat from the flock for an Absolution-Offering.

“In this way, the priest will make atonement for your sin.

7-10 “If you can’t afford a lamb, bring as your penalty to God for the sin you have committed two doves or two pigeons, one for the Absolution-Offering and the other for the Whole-Burnt-Offering. Bring them to the priest who will first offer the one for the Absolution-Offering: He’ll wring its neck but not sever it, splash some of the blood of the Absolution-Offering against the Altar, and squeeze the rest of it out at the base. It’s an Absolution-Offering. He’ll then take the second bird and offer it as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, following the procedures step-by-step.

“In this way, the priest will make atonement for your sin and you’re forgiven.

11-12 “If you cannot afford the two doves or pigeons, bring two quarts of fine flour for your Absolution-Offering. Don’t put oil or incense on it—it’s an Absolution-Offering. Bring it to the priest; he’ll take a handful from it as a memorial and burn it on the Altar with the gifts for God. It’s an Absolution-Offering.

13 “The priest will make atonement for you and any of these sins you’ve committed and you’re forgiven. The rest of the offering belongs to the priest, the same as with the Grain-Offering.”

Compensation-Offering

14-16 God spoke to Moses: “When a person betrays his trust and unknowingly sins by straying against any of the holy things of God, he is to bring as his penalty to God a ram without any defect from the flock, the value of the ram assessed in shekels, according to the Sanctuary shekel for a Compensation-Offering. He is to make additional compensation for the sin he has committed against any holy thing by adding twenty percent to the ram and giving it to the priest.

“Thus the priest will make atonement for him with the ram of the Compensation-Offering and he’s forgiven.

17-18 “If anyone sins by breaking any of the commandments of God which must not be broken, but without being aware of it at the time, the moment he does realize his guilt he is held responsible. He is to bring to the priest a ram without any defect, assessed at the value of the Compensation-Offering.

18-19 “Thus the priest will make atonement for him for his error that he was unaware of and he’s forgiven. It is a Compensation-Offering; he was surely guilty before God.”

Mark 2:13-3:6

The Tax Collector

13-14Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him, and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” He came.15-16Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”

17Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”

Feasting or Fasting?

18The disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees made a practice of fasting. Some people confronted Jesus: “Why do the followers of John and the Pharisees take on the discipline of fasting, but your followers don’t?”19-20Jesus said, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!”

21-22He went on, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.”

23-24One Sabbath day he was walking through a field of ripe grain. As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: “Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!”

25-28Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching—holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat—and handed it out to his companions?” Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!”

Mark 3

Doing Good on the Sabbath

1-3 Then he went back in the meeting place where he found a man with a crippled hand. The Pharisees had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He said to the man with the crippled hand, “Stand here where we can see you.”4Then he spoke to the people: “What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?” No one said a word.

5-6He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod’s followers and ruin him.

Psalm 36:1-12

Psalm 36

A David Psalm
1-4 The God-rebel tunes in to sedition— all ears, eager to sin.
He has no regard for God,
he stands insolent before him.
He has smooth-talked himself
into believing
That his evil
will never be noticed.
Words gutter from his mouth,
dishwater dirty.
Can’t remember when he
did anything decent.
Every time he goes to bed,
he fathers another evil plot.
When he’s loose on the streets,
nobody’s safe.
He plays with fire
and doesn’t care who gets burned.

5-6 God’s love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.

7-9 How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.

10-12 Keep on loving your friends;
do your work in welcoming hearts.
Don’t let the bullies kick me around,
the moral midgets slap me down.
Send the upstarts sprawling
flat on their faces in the mud.

Proverbs 10:1-2
1 Wise son, glad father; stupid son, sad mother.
2 Ill-gotten gain gets you nowhere; an honest life is immortal.

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2/16/10 Reading: Lev.1:1-3:17, Mk.1:29-2:12, Ps.35:17-28, Prov.9:13-18

Posted on 02/16/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

1 Chronicles 16:34 "Give thanks to God - he is good and his love never quits."

Leviticus 1-3:17

Leviticus 1

Whole-Burnt-Offering

1-2God called Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When anyone presents an offering to God, present an animal from either the herd or the flock.

3-9 “If the offering is a Whole-Burnt-Offering from the herd, present a male without a defect at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting that it may be accepted by God. Lay your hand on the head of the Whole-Burnt-Offering so that it may be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. Slaughter the bull in God’s presence. Aaron’s sons, the priests, will make an offering of the blood by splashing it against all sides of the Altar that stands at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Next, skin the Whole-Burnt-Offering and cut it up. Aaron’s sons, the priests, will prepare a fire on the Altar, carefully laying out the wood, and then arrange the body parts, including the head and the suet, on the wood prepared for the fire on the Altar. Scrub the entrails and legs clean. The priest will burn it all on the Altar: a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God.

10-13 “If the Whole-Burnt-Offering comes from the flock, whether sheep or goat, present a male without defect. Slaughter it on the north side of the Altar in God’s presence. The sons of Aaron, the priests, will throw the blood against all sides of the Altar. Cut it up and the priest will arrange the pieces, including the head and the suet, on the wood prepared for burning on the Altar. Scrub the entrails and legs clean. The priest will offer it all, burning it on the Altar: a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God.

14-17 “If a bird is presented to God for the Whole-Burnt-Offering it can be either a dove or a pigeon. The priest will bring it to the Altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the Altar. But he will first drain the blood on the side of the Altar, remove the gizzard and its contents, and throw them on the east side of the Altar where the ashes are piled. Then rip it open by its wings but leave it in one piece and burn it on the Altar on the wood prepared for the fire: a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God.”

Leviticus 2

Grain-Offering

1-3 “When you present a Grain-Offering to God, use fine flour. Pour oil on it, put incense on it, and bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. One of them will take a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all the incense, and burn it on the Altar for a memorial: a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God. The rest of the Grain-Offering is for Aaron and his sons—a most holy part of the Fire-Gifts to God.

4 “When you present a Grain-Offering of oven-baked loaves, use fine flour, mixed with oil but no yeast. Or present wafers made without yeast and spread with oil.

5-6 “If you bring a Grain-Offering cooked on a griddle, use fine flour mixed with oil but without yeast. Crumble it and pour oil on it—it’s a Grain-Offering.

7 “If you bring a Grain-Offering deep-fried in a pan, make it of fine flour with oil.

8-10 “Bring the Grain-Offering you make from these ingredients and present it to the priest. He will bring it to the Altar, break off a memorial piece from the Grain-Offering, and burn it on the Altar: a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God. The rest of the Grain-Offering is for Aaron and his sons—a most holy part of the gifts to God.

11-13 “All the Grain-Offerings that you present to God must be made without yeast; you must never burn any yeast or honey as a Fire-Gift to God. You may offer them to God as an offering of firstfruits but not on the Altar as a pleasing fragrance. Season every presentation of your Grain-Offering with salt. Don’t leave the salt of the covenant with your God out of your Grain-Offerings. Present all your offerings with salt.

14-16 “If you present a Grain-Offering of firstfruits to God, bring crushed heads of the new grain roasted. Put oil and incense on it—it’s a Grain-Offering. The priest will burn some of the mixed grain and oil with all the incense as a memorial—a Fire-Gift to God.”

Leviticus 3

The Peace-Offering

1-5“If your offering is a Peace-Offering and you present an animal from the herd, either male or female, it must be an animal without any defect. Lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Aaron’s sons, the priests, will throw the blood on all sides of the Altar. As a Fire-Gift to God from the Peace-Offering, present all the fat that covers or is connected to the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat around them at the loins, and the lobe of the liver that is removed along with the kidneys. Aaron and his sons will burn it on the Altar along with the Whole-Burnt-Offering that is on the wood prepared for the fire: a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God.

6-11 “If your Peace-Offering to God comes from the flock, bring a male or female without defect. If you offer a lamb, offer it to God. Lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the Tent of Meeting. The sons of Aaron will throw its blood on all sides of the Altar. As a Fire-Gift to God from the Peace-Offering, present its fat, the entire fat tail cut off close to the backbone, all the fat on and connected to the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat around them on the loins, and the lobe of the liver which is removed along with the kidneys. The priest will burn it on the Altar: a meal, a Fire-Gift to God.

12-16 “If the offering is a goat, bring it into the presence of God, lay your hand on its head, and slaughter it in front of the Tent of Meeting. Aaron’s sons will throw the blood on all sides of the Altar. As a Fire-Gift to God present the fat that covers and is connected to the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat which is around them on the loins, and the lobe of the liver which is removed along with the kidneys. The priest will burn them on the Altar: a meal, a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance.

16-17 “All the fat belongs to God. This is the fixed rule down through the generations, wherever you happen to live: Don’t eat the fat; don’t eat the blood. None of it.”

Mark 1:29-2:12

29-31Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.

32-34That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn’t let them say a word.

The Leper

35-37While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”

38-39Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.

40A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”

Mark 1:40-42 "A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy."


41-45Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over.

Mark 2

A Paraplegic

1-5 After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”

6-7Some religion scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.”

8-12Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” (he looked now at the paraplegic), “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Psalm 35:17-28

17-18 God, how long are you going
to stand there doing nothing?
Save me from their brutalities;
everything I’ve got is being thrown to the lions.
I will give you full credit
when everyone gathers for worship;
When the people turn out in force
I will say my Hallelujahs.

19-21 Don’t let these liars, my enemies,
have a party at my expense,
Those who hate me for no reason,
winking and rolling their eyes.
No good is going to come
from that crowd;
They spend all their time cooking up gossip
against those who mind their own business.
They open their mouths
in ugly grins,
Mocking, “Ha-ha, ha-ha, thought you’d get away with it?
We’ve caught you hands down!”

22 Don’t you see what they’re doing, God?
You’re not going to let them
Get by with it, are you? Not going to walk off
without doing something, are you?

23-26 Please get up—wake up! Tend to my case.
My God, my Lord—my life is on the line.
Do what you think is right, God, my God,
but don’t make me pay for their good time.
Don’t let them say to themselves,
“Ha-ha, we got what we wanted.”
Don’t let them say,
“We’ve chewed him up and spit him out.”
Let those who are being hilarious
at my expense
Be made to look ridiculous.
Make them wear donkey’s ears;
Pin them with the donkey’s tail,
who made themselves so high and mighty!

27-28 But those who want
the best for me,
Let them have the last word—a glad shout!—
and say, over and over and over,
“God is great—everything works
together for good for his servant.”
I’ll tell the world how great and good you are,
I’ll shout Hallelujah all day, every day.

Proverbs 9:13-18
13 Then there’s this other woman, Madame Whore – brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.

14 She sits on the front porch of her house on Main Street,

15 And as people walk by minding their own business, calls out,

16 “Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?

17 Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time! No one will ever know – I’ll give you the time of your life.”

18 But they don’t know about all the skeletons in her closet, that all her guests end up in hell.


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2/15/10 Readings: Ex.39:1-40:38, Mk.1:1-28, Ps.35:1-16, Prov.9:11-12

Posted on 02/15/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Matthew 5:8 "You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world."

Exodus 39-40:38

Exodus 39

1 Vestments. Using the blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics, they made the woven vestments for ministering in the Sanctuary. Also they made the sacred vestments for Aaron, as God had commanded Moses.

2-5 Ephod. They made the Ephod using gold and blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics and finely twisted linen. They hammered out gold leaf and sliced it into threads that were then worked into designs in the blue, purple, and scarlet fabric and fine linen. They made shoulder pieces fastened at the two ends. The decorated band was made of the same material—gold, blue, purple, and scarlet material, and of fine twisted linen—and of one piece with it, just as God had commanded Moses.

6-7 They mounted the onyx stones in a setting of filigreed gold and engraved the names of the sons of Israel on them, then fastened them on the shoulder pieces of the Ephod as memorial stones for the Israelites, just as God had commanded Moses.

8-10 Breastpiece. They made a Breastpiece designed like the Ephod from gold, blue, purple, and scarlet material, and fine twisted linen. Doubled, the Breastpiece was nine inches square. They mounted four rows of precious gemstones on it.

First row: carnelian, topaz, emerald.

11 Second row: ruby, sapphire, crystal.

12 Third row: jacinth, agate, amethyst.

13-14 Fourth row: beryl, onyx, jasper.

The stones were mounted in a gold filigree. The twelve stones corresponded to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve names engraved as on a seal, one for each of the twelve tribes.

15-21 They made braided chains of pure gold for the Breastpiece, like cords. They made two settings of gold filigree and two rings of gold, put the two rings at the two ends of the Breastpiece, and fastened the two ends of the cords to the two rings at the end of the Breastpiece. Then they fastened the cords to the settings of filigree, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the Ephod in front. Then they made two rings of gold and fastened them to the two ends of the Breastpiece on its inside edge facing the Ephod. They made two more rings of gold and fastened them in the front of the Ephod to the lower part of the two shoulder pieces, near the seam above the decorated band of the Ephod. The Breastpiece was fastened by running a cord of blue through its rings to the rings of the Ephod so that it rested secure on the decorated band of the Ephod and wouldn’t come loose, just as God had commanded Moses.

22-26 Robe. They made the robe for the Ephod entirely of blue. The opening of the robe at the center was like a collar, the edge hemmed so that it wouldn’t tear. On the hem of the robe they made pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. They also made bells of pure gold and alternated the bells and pomegranates—a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate—all around the hem of the robe that was worn for ministering, just as God had commanded Moses.

27-29 They also made the tunics of fine linen, the work of a weaver, for Aaron and his sons, the turban of fine linen, the linen hats, the linen underwear made of fine twisted linen, and sashes of fine twisted linen, blue, purple, and scarlet material and embroidered, just as God had commanded Moses.

30-31 They made the plate, the sacred crown, of pure gold and engraved on it as on a seal: “Holy to God.” They attached a blue cord to it and fastened it to the turban, just as God had commanded Moses.

32 That completed the work of The Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting. The People of Israel did what God had commanded Moses. They did it all.

33-41 They presented The Dwelling to Moses, the Tent and all its furnishings:

fastening hooks
frames
crossbars
posts
bases
tenting of tanned ram skins
tenting of dolphin skins
veil of the screen
Chest of The Testimony
with its poles
and Atonement-Cover
Table
with its utensils
and the Bread of the Presence
Lampstand of pure gold
and its lamps all fitted out
and all its utensils
and the oil for the light
Gold Altar
anointing oil
fragrant incense
screen for the entrance to the Tent
Bronze Altar
with its bronze grate
its poles and all its utensils
Washbasin
and its base
hangings for the Courtyard
its posts and bases
screen for the gate of the Courtyard
its cords and its pegs
utensils for ministry in The Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting
woven vestments for ministering in the Sanctuary
sacred vestments for Aaron the priest,
and his sons when serving as priests

42-43 The Israelites completed all the work, just as God had commanded. Moses saw that they had done all the work and done it exactly as God had commanded. Moses blessed them.

Exodus 40

“Moses Finished the Work”

1-3 God spoke to Moses: “On the first day of the first month, set up The Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting. Place the Chest of The Testimony in it and screen the Chest with the curtain.
4 “Bring in the Table and set it, arranging its Lampstand and lamps. 5 “Place the Gold Altar of Incense before the Chest of The Testimony and hang the curtain at the door of The Dwelling.

6 “Place the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering at the door of The Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting.

7 “Place the Washbasin between the Tent of Meeting and the Altar and fill it with water.

8 “Set up the Courtyard on all sides and hang the curtain at the entrance to the Courtyard.

9-11 “Then take the anointing oil and anoint The Dwelling and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings so that it becomes holy. Anoint the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering and all its utensils, consecrating the Altar so that it is completely holy. Anoint the Washbasin and its base: consecrate it.

12-15 “Finally, bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water. Dress Aaron in the sacred vestments. Anoint him. Consecrate him to serve me as priest. Bring his sons and put tunics on them. Anoint them, just as you anointed their father, to serve me as priests. Their anointing will bring them into a perpetual priesthood, down through the generations.”

16 Moses did everything God commanded. He did it all.

17-19 On the first day of the first month of the second year, The Dwelling was set up. Moses set it up: He laid its bases, erected the frames, placed the crossbars, set the posts, spread the tent over The Dwelling, and put the covering over the tent, just as God had commanded Moses.

20-21 He placed The Testimony in the Chest, inserted the poles for carrying the Chest, and placed the lid, the Atonement-Cover, on it. He brought the Chest into The Dwelling and set up the curtain, screening off the Chest of The Testimony, just as God had commanded Moses.

22-23 He placed the Table in the Tent of Meeting on the north side of The Dwelling, outside the curtain, and arranged the Bread there before God, just as God had commanded him.

24-25 He placed the Lampstand in the Tent of Meeting opposite the Table on the south side of The Dwelling and set up the lamps before God, just as God had commanded him.

26-27 Moses placed the Gold Altar in the Tent of Meeting in front of the curtain and burned fragrant incense on it, just as God had commanded him.

28 He placed the screen at the entrance to The Dwelling.

29 He set the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering at the door of The Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting, and offered up the Whole-Burnt-Offerings and the Grain-Offerings, just as God had commanded Moses.

30-32 He placed the Washbasin between the Tent of Meeting and the Altar, and filled it with water for washing. Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and feet there. When they entered the Tent of Meeting and when they served at the Altar, they washed, just as God had commanded Moses.

33 Finally, he erected the Courtyard all around The Dwelling and the Altar, and put up the screen for the Courtyard entrance.

Moses finished the work.

34-35 The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of God filled The Dwelling. Moses couldn’t enter the Tent of Meeting because the Cloud was upon it, and the Glory of God filled The Dwelling.

36-38 Whenever the Cloud lifted from The Dwelling, the People of Israel set out on their travels, but if the Cloud did not lift, they wouldn’t set out until it did lift. The Cloud of God was over The Dwelling during the day and the fire was in it at night, visible to all the Israelites in all their travels.

Mark 1:1-28

Mark 1

John the Baptizer

1-3The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

4-6John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

7-8As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

9-11At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

Matthew 3:16-17 "The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God's Spirit - it looked like a dove - descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life."

God’s Kingdom Is Here

12-13At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

14-15After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

16-18Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.

Confident Teaching

21-22Then they entered Capernaum. When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place. He spent the day there teaching. They were surprised at his teaching—so forthright, so confident—not quibbling and quoting like the religion scholars.

23-24Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, “What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you’re up to! You’re the Holy One of God, and you’ve come to destroy us!”

25-26Jesus shut him up: “Quiet! Get out of him!” The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly—and got out.

27-28Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. “What’s going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!” News of this traveled fast and was soon all over Galilee.

Psalm 35:1-16

Psalm 35

A David Psalm

1-3 Harass these hecklers, God, punch these bullies in the nose.
Grab a weapon, anything at hand;
stand up for me!
Get ready to throw the spear, aim the javelin,
at the people who are out to get me.
Reassure me; let me hear you say,
“I’ll save you.”

4-8 When those thugs try to knife me in the back,
make them look foolish.
Frustrate all those
who are plotting my downfall.
Make them like cinders in a high wind,
with God’s angel working the bellows.
Make their road lightless and mud-slick,
with God’s angel on their tails.
Out of sheer cussedness they set a trap to catch me;
for no good reason they dug a ditch to stop me.
Surprise them with your ambush—
catch them in the very trap they set,
the disaster they planned for me.

9-10 But let me run loose and free,
celebrating God’s great work,
Every bone in my body laughing, singing, “God,
there’s no one like you.
You put the down-and-out on their feet
and protect the unprotected from bullies!”

11-12 Hostile accusers appear out of nowhere,
they stand up and badger me.
They pay me back misery for mercy,
leaving my soul empty.

13-14 When they were sick, I dressed in black;
instead of eating, I prayed.
My prayers were like lead in my gut,
like I’d lost my best friend, my brother.
I paced, distraught as a motherless child,
hunched and heavyhearted.

15-16 But when I was down
they threw a party!
All the nameless riffraff of the town came
chanting insults about me.
Like barbarians desecrating a shrine,
they destroyed my reputation.

Prov.9:11-12

11 It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen.

12 Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you.


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2/14/10 Reading: Ex.37:1-38:31, Mt.28:1-20, Ps.34:11-22, Prov.9:9-10

Posted on 02/14/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Acts 4:32 "The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn't even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, "That's mine; you can't have it." They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them."

Exodus 37-38:31

Exodus 37

The Chest

1-5 Bezalel made the Chest using acacia wood: He made it three and three-quarters feet long and two and a quarter feet wide and deep. He covered it inside and out with a veneer of pure gold and made a molding of gold all around it. He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on one side and two rings on the other. He made poles from acacia wood, covered them with a veneer of gold, and inserted the poles for carrying the Chest into the rings on the sides.

6 Next he made a lid of pure gold for the Chest, an Atonement-Cover, three and three-quarters feet long and two and a quarter feet wide.

7-9 He sculpted two winged angel-cherubim out of hammered gold for the ends of the Atonement-Cover, one angel at one end, one angel at the other. He made them of one piece with the Atonement-Cover. The angels had outstretched wings and appeared to hover over the Atonement-Cover, facing one another but looking down on the Atonement-Cover.

The Table

10-15 He made the Table from acacia wood. He made it three feet long, one and a half feet wide and two and a quarter feet high. He covered it with a veneer of pure gold and made a molding of gold all around it. He made a border a handbreadth wide all around it and a rim of gold for the border. He cast four rings of gold for it and attached the rings to the four legs parallel to the tabletop. They will serve as holders for the poles used to carry the Table. He made the poles of acacia wood and covered them with a veneer of gold. They will be used to carry the Table.

16 Out of pure gold he made the utensils for the Table: its plates, bowls, jars, and jugs used for pouring.

The Lampstand

17-23 He made a Lampstand of pure hammered gold, making its stem and branches, cups, calyxes, and petals all of one piece. It had six branches, three from one side and three from the other; three cups shaped like almond blossoms with calyxes and petals on one branch, three on the next, and so on—the same for all six branches. On the main stem of the Lampstand, there were four cups shaped like almonds, with calyxes and petals, a calyx extending from under each pair of the six branches. The entire Lampstand with its calyxes and stems was fashioned from one piece of hammered pure gold. He made seven of these lamps with their candle snuffers, all out of pure gold.

24 He used a seventy-five-pound brick of pure gold to make the Lampstand and its accessories.

The Altar of Incense

25-28 He made an Altar for burning incense from acacia wood. He made it a foot and a half square and three feet high, with its horns of one piece with it. He covered it with a veneer of pure gold, its top, sides, and horns, and made a gold molding around it with two rings of gold beneath the molding. He placed the rings on the two opposing sides to serve as holders for poles by which it will be carried. He made the poles of acacia wood and covered them with a veneer of gold.

29 He also prepared with the art of a perfumer the holy anointing oil and the pure aromatic incense.

Exodus 38

The Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering

1-7 He made the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering from acacia wood. He made it seven and a half feet square and four and a half feet high. He made horns at each of the four corners. The horns were made of one piece with the Altar and covered with a veneer of bronze. He made from bronze all the utensils for the Altar: the buckets for removing the ashes, shovels, basins, forks, and fire pans. He made a grate of bronze mesh under the ledge halfway up the Altar. He cast four rings at each of the four corners of the bronze grating to hold the poles. He made the poles of acacia wood and covered them with a veneer of bronze. He inserted the poles through the rings on the two sides of the Altar for carrying it. The Altar was made out of boards; it was hollow.

The Washbasin

8 He made the Bronze Washbasin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women’s work group who were assigned to serve at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

The Courtyard

9-11 And he made the Courtyard. On the south side the hangings for the Courtyard, woven from fine twisted linen, were 150 feet long, with their twenty posts and twenty bronze bases, and fastening hooks and bands of silver. The north side was exactly the same.

12-20 The west end of the Courtyard had seventy-five feet of hangings with ten posts and bases, and fastening hooks and bands of silver. Across the seventy-five feet at the front, or east end, were twenty-two and a half feet of hangings, with their three posts and bases on one side and the same for the other side. All the hangings around the Courtyard were of fine twisted linen. The bases for the posts were bronze and the fastening hooks and bands on the posts were of silver. The posts of the Courtyard were both capped and banded with silver. The screen at the door of the Courtyard was embroidered in blue, purple, and scarlet fabric with fine twisted linen. It was thirty feet long and seven and a half feet high, matching the hangings of the Courtyard. There were four posts with bases of bronze and fastening hooks of silver; they were capped and banded in silver. All the pegs for The Dwelling and the Courtyard were made of bronze.
21-23 This is an inventory of The Dwelling that housed The Testimony drawn up by order of Moses for the work of the Levites under Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest. Bezalel, the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made everything that God had commanded Moses. Working with Bezalel was Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an artisan, designer, and embroiderer in blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics and fine linen.

24 Gold. The total amount of gold used in construction of the Sanctuary, all of it contributed freely, weighed out at 1,900 pounds according to the Sanctuary standard.

25-28 Silver. The silver from those in the community who were registered in the census came to 6,437 pounds according to the Sanctuary standard—that amounted to a beka, or half-shekel, for every registered person aged twenty and over, a total of 603,550 men. They used the three and one-quarter tons of silver to cast the bases for the Sanctuary and for the hangings, one hundred bases at sixty-four pounds each. They used the remaining thirty-seven pounds to make the connecting hooks on the posts, and the caps and bands for the posts.

29-31 Bronze. The bronze that was brought in weighed 4,522 pounds. It was used to make the door of the Tent of Meeting, the Bronze Altar with its bronze grating, all the utensils of the Altar, the bases around the Courtyard, the bases for the gate of the Courtyard, and all the pegs for The Dwelling and the Courtyard.

Matthew 28:1-20

Matthew 28

Risen from the Dead

1-4 After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move.

5-6The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.

7“Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”

8-10The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. “Good morning!” he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life! Don’t be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I’ll meet them there.”

11-15Meanwhile, the guards had scattered, but a few of them went into the city and told the high priests everything that had happened. They called a meeting of the religious leaders and came up with a plan: They took a large sum of money and gave it to the soldiers, bribing them to say, “His disciples came in the night and stole the body while we were sleeping.” They assured them, “If the governor hears about your sleeping on duty, we will make sure you don’t get blamed.” The soldiers took the bribe and did as they were told. That story, cooked up in the Jewish High Council, is still going around.

16-17Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

18-20Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

Psalms 34:11-22

11 Come, children, listen closely; I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

12 Who out there has a lust for life? Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

13 Guard your tongue from profanity, and no more lying through your teeth.

14 Turn your back on sin; do something good. Embrace peace – don’t let it get away!

15 God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan.

16 God won’t put up with rebels; he’ll cull them from the pack.

17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.

20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken.

21 The wicked commit slow suicide; they waste their lives hating the good.

22 God pays for each slave’s freedom; no one who runs to him loses out.

Proverbs 9:9-10

9 Save your breath for the wise – they’ll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know – they’ll profit from it.

10 Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.


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2/13/10 Reading: Ex.35:10-36:38, Mt.27:32-66, Ps.34:1-10, Prov.9:7-8

Posted on 02/13/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

John 19:30 " After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done . . . complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit."

Exodus 35:10-36:38

10-19 “Come—all of you who have skills—come and make everything that God has commanded: The Dwelling with its tent and cover, its hooks, frames, crossbars, posts, and bases; the Chest with its poles, the Atonement-Cover and veiling curtain; the Table with its poles and implements and the Bread of the Presence; the Lampstand for giving light with its furnishings and lamps and the oil for lighting; the Altar of Incense with its poles, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense; the screen for the door at the entrance to The Dwelling; the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering with its bronze grate and poles and all its implements; the Washbasin with its base; the tapestry hangings for the Courtyard with the posts and bases, the screen for the Courtyard gate; the pegs for The Dwelling, the pegs for the Courtyard with their cords; the official vestments for ministering in the Holy Place, the sacred vestments for Aaron the priest and for his sons serving as priests.”

20-26 So everyone in the community of Israel left the presence of Moses. Then they came back, every one whose heart was roused, whose spirit was freely responsive, bringing offerings to God for building the Tent of Meeting, furnishing it for worship and making the holy vestments. They came, both men and women, all the willing spirits among them, offering brooches, earrings, rings, necklaces—anything made of gold—offering up their gold jewelry to God. And anyone who had blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics; fine linen; goats’ hair; tanned leather; and dolphin skins brought them. Everyone who wanted to offer up silver or bronze as a gift to God brought it. Everyone who had acacia wood that could be used in the work, brought it. All the women skilled at weaving brought their weavings of blue and purple and scarlet fabrics and their fine linens. And all the women who were gifted in spinning, spun the goats’ hair.

27-29 The leaders brought onyx and other precious stones for setting in the Ephod and the Breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for lamp oil, anointing oil, and incense. Every man and woman in Israel whose heart moved them freely to bring something for the work that God through Moses had commanded them to make, brought it, a voluntary offering for God.

Bezalel and Oholiab

30-35 Moses told the Israelites, “See, God has selected Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He’s filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and know-how for making all sorts of things, to design and work in gold, silver, and bronze; to carve stones and set them; to carve wood, working in every kind of skilled craft. And he’s also made him a teacher, he and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He’s gifted them with the know-how needed for carving, designing, weaving, and embroidering in blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics, and in fine linen. They can make anything and design anything.”

Exodus 36

1 “Bezalel and Oholiab, along with everyone whom God has given the skill and know-how for making everything involved in the worship of the Sanctuary as commanded by God, are to start to work.”

2-3 Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab along with all whom God had gifted with the ability to work skillfully with their hands. The men were eager to get started and engage in the work. They took from Moses all the offerings that the Israelites had brought for the work of constructing the Sanctuary. The people kept on bringing in their freewill offerings, morning after morning.

4-5 All the artisans who were at work making everything involved in constructing the Sanctuary came, one after another, to Moses, saying, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!”

6-7 So Moses sent out orders through the camp: “Men! Women! No more offerings for the building of the Sanctuary!”

The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings! There was plenty of material for all the work to be done. Enough and more than enough.

The Tapestries

8-13 Then all the skilled artisans on The Dwelling made ten tapestries of fine twisted linen and blue, purple, and scarlet fabric with an angel-cherubim design worked into the material. Each panel of tapestry was forty-six feet long and six feet wide. Five of the panels were joined together, and then the other five. Loops of blue were made along the edge of the outside panel of the first set, and the same on the outside panel of the second set. They made fifty loops on each panel, with the loops opposite each other. Then they made fifty gold clasps and joined the tapestries together so that The Dwelling was one whole.

14-19 Next they made tapestries of woven goat hair for a tent that would cover The Dwelling. They made eleven panels of these tapestries. The length of each panel was forty-five feet long and six feet wide. They joined five of the panels together, and then the other six, by making fifty loops along the edge of the end panel and fifty loops along the edge of the joining panel, then making fifty clasps of bronze, connecting the clasps to the loops, bringing the tent together. They finished it off by covering the tapestries with tanned rams’ skins dyed red, and covered that with dolphin skins.

The Framing

20-30 They framed The Dwelling with vertical planks of acacia wood, each section of frame fifteen feet long and two and a quarter feet wide, with two pegs for securing them. They made all the frames identical: twenty frames for the south side, with forty silver sockets to receive the two tenons from each of the twenty frames; they repeated that construction on the north side of The Dwelling. For the rear of The Dwelling facing west, they made six frames, with two additional frames for the rear corners. Both of the two corner frames were double in thickness from top to bottom and fit into a single ring—eight frames altogether with sixteen sockets of silver, two under each frame.

31-34 They made crossbars of acacia wood, five for the frames on one side of The Dwelling, five for the other side, and five for the back side facing west. The center crossbar ran from end to end halfway up the frames. They covered the frames with a veneer of gold, made gold rings to hold the crossbars, and covered the crossbars with a veneer of gold.

35-36 They made the curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. They wove a design of angel-cherubim into it. They made four posts of acacia wood, covered them with a veneer of gold, and cast four silver bases for them.

37-38 They made a screen for the door of the tent, woven from blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen with embroidery. They framed the weaving with five poles of acacia wood covered with a veneer of gold, and made gold hooks to hang the weaving and five bronze bases for the poles.

Matthew 27:32-66

32-34Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross. Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call “Skull Hill,” they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn’t drink it.

35-40After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes. Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

41-44The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—he can’t save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then! He was so sure of God—well, let him rescue his ‘Son’ now—if he wants him! He did claim to be God’s Son, didn’t he?” Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery.

45-46From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

47-49Some bystanders who heard him said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. The others joked, “Don’t be in such a hurry. Let’s see if Elijah comes and saves him.”

50But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.

51-53At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

54The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

55-56There were also quite a few women watching from a distance, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee in order to serve him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the Zebedee brothers.

Luke 23:55-56 "The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded."

The Tomb

57-61Late in the afternoon a wealthy man from Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, arrived. His name was Joseph. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate granted his request. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linens, put it in his own tomb, a new tomb only recently cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the entrance. Then he went off. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary stayed, sitting in plain view of the tomb.

62-64After sundown, the high priests and Pharisees arranged a meeting with Pilate. They said, “Sir, we just remembered that that liar announced while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will be raised.’ We’ve got to get that tomb sealed until the third day. There’s a good chance his disciples will come and steal the corpse and then go around saying, ‘He’s risen from the dead.’ Then we’ll be worse off than before, the final deceit surpassing the first.”

65-66Pilate told them, “You will have a guard. Go ahead and secure it the best you can.” So they went out and secured the tomb, sealing the stone and posting guards.

Psalm 34:1-10

Psalm 34

1 I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.

2 I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

3 Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

4 God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

6 When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

7 God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

9 Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.

Proverbs 9:7-8

7 If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.

8 So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different – they’ll love you for it!


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2/12/10 Reading: Ex.34:1-35:9, Mt.27:15-31, Ps.33:12-22, Prov.9:1-6

Posted on 02/12/2010. Filed under: February 2010 Readings, Today's Reading |

Luke 9:23-24 "Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat - I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self."

Exodus 34-35:9

Exodus 34

1-3 God spoke to Moses: “Cut out two tablets of stone just like the originals and engrave on them the words that were on the original tablets you smashed. Be ready in the morning to climb Mount Sinai and get set to meet me on top of the mountain. Not a soul is to go with you; the whole mountain must be clear of people, even animals—not even sheep or oxen can be grazing in front of the mountain.”

4-7 So Moses cut two tablets of stone just like the originals. He got up early in the morning and climbed Mount Sinai as God had commanded him, carrying the two tablets of stone. God descended in the cloud and took up his position there beside him and called out the name, God. God passed in front of him and called out, “God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. Still, he doesn’t ignore sin. He holds sons and grandsons responsible for a father’s sins to the third and even fourth generation.”

8-9 At once, Moses fell to the ground and worshiped, saying, “Please, O Master, if you see anything good in me, please Master, travel with us, hard-headed as these people are. Forgive our iniquity and sin. Own us, possess us.”

10-12 And God said, “As of right now, I’m making a covenant with you: In full sight of your people I will work wonders that have never been created in all the Earth, in any nation. Then all the people with whom you’re living will see how tremendous God’s work is, the work I’ll do for you. Take careful note of all I command you today. I’m clearing your way by driving out Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Stay vigilant. Don’t let down your guard lest you make covenant with the people who live in the land that you are entering and they trip you up.

13-16 “Tear down their altars, smash their phallic pillars, chop down their fertility poles. Don’t worship any other god. God—his name is The-Jealous-One—is a jealous God. Be careful that you don’t make a covenant with the people who live in the land and take up with their sex-and-religion life, join them in meals at their altars, marry your sons to their women, women who take up with any convenient god or goddess and will get your sons to do the same thing.

17 “Don’t make molten gods for yourselves.

18 “Keep the Feast of Unraised Bread. Eat only unraised bread for seven days in the month of Abib—it was in the month of Abib that you came out of Egypt.

19 “Every firstborn from the womb is mine, all the males of your herds, your firstborn oxen and sheep.

20 “Redeem your firstborn donkey with a lamb. If you don’t redeem it you must break its neck.

“Redeem each of your firstborn sons.

“No one is to show up in my presence empty-handed.

21 “Work six days and rest the seventh. Stop working even during plowing and harvesting.

22 “Keep the Feast of Weeks with the first cutting of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

23-24 “All your men are to appear before the Master, the God of Israel, three times a year. You won’t have to worry about your land when you appear before your God three times each year, for I will drive out the nations before you and give you plenty of land. Nobody’s going to be hanging around plotting ways to get it from you.

25 “Don’t mix the blood of my sacrifices with anything fermented.

“Don’t leave leftovers from the Passover Feast until morning.

26 “Bring the finest of the firstfruits of your produce to the house of your God.

“Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

27 God said to Moses: “Now write down these words, for by these words I’ve made a covenant with you and Israel.”

28 Moses was there with God forty days and forty nights. He didn’t eat any food; he didn’t drink any water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words.

29-30 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him.

31-32 Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai.

33-35 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the presence of God to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they would see Moses’ face, its skin glowing, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back in to speak with God.

Exodus 35

Building the Place of Worship

1 Moses spoke to the entire congregation of Israel, saying, “These are the things that God has commanded you to do:

2-3 “Work six days, but the seventh day will be a holy rest day, God’s holy rest day. Anyone who works on this day must be put to death. Don’t light any fires in your homes on the Sabbath day.” The Offerings
4 Moses spoke to the entire congregation of Israel, saying, “This is what God has commanded:

5-9 “Gather from among you an offering for God. Receive on God’s behalf what everyone is willing to give as an offering: gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet material; fine linen; goats’ hair; tanned rams’ skins; dolphin skins; acacia wood; lamp oil; spices for anointing oils and for fragrant incense; onyx stones and other stones for setting in the Ephod and the Breastpiece.

Matthew 27:15-31

15-18It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd. At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. With the crowd before him, Pilate said, “Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?” He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him.

19While court was still in session, Pilate’s wife sent him a message: “Don’t get mixed up in judging this noble man. I’ve just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him.”

20Meanwhile, the high priests and religious leaders had talked the crowd into asking for the pardon of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus.

21The governor asked, “Which of the two do you want me to pardon?”

They said, “Barabbas!”

22“Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?”

They all shouted, “Nail him to a cross!”

23He objected, “But for what crime?”

But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”

24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, “I’m washing my hands of responsibility for this man’s death. From now on, it’s in your hands. You’re judge and jury.”

25The crowd answered, “We’ll take the blame, we and our children after us.”

26Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion.

Matthew 27:26 "Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion."

The Crucifixion

27-31The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said. “Bravo!” Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

Psalm 33:12-22

12 Blessed is the country with God for God; blessed are the people he’s put in his will.

13 From high in the skies God looks around, he sees all Adam’s brood.

14 From where he sits he overlooks all us earth-dwellers.

15 He has shaped each person in turn; now he watches everything we do.

16 No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength.

17 Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone.

18 Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love.

19 He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.

20 We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need.

21 What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name.

22 Love us, God, with all you’ve got – that’s what we’re depending on.

Proverbs 9:1-6

1 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
2 The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
3 Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
4 “Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
5 I’ve prepared a wonderful spread – fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
6 Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”

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