Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 28th February

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation."
Psalm 91:9

The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change. Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were pitched; but tomorrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the mountain, up the hill side, or along the arid waste of the wilderness. They had scarcely time to rest a little before they heard the sound of "Away! this is not your rest; you must still be onward journeying towards Canaan!" They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, his cloudy pillar was their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire. They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle, and to say, "Now we are secure; in this place we shall dwell." "Yet," says Moses, "though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations." The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich today and poor to-morrow; he may be sickly today and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness today, to-morrow he may be distressed--but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God. If he loved me yesterday, he loves me today. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord. Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is "my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort." I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.

Evening

"Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting"
Micah 5:2

The Lord Jesus had goings forth for his people as their representative before the throne, long before they appeared upon the stage of time. It was "from everlasting" that he signed the compact with his Father, that he would pay blood for blood, suffering for suffering, agony for agony, and death for death, in the behalf of his people; it was "from everlasting" that he gave himself up without a murmuring word. That from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot he might sweat great drops of blood, that he might be spit upon, pierced, mocked, rent asunder, and crushed beneath the pains of death. His goings forth as our Surety were from everlasting. Pause, my soul, and wonder! Thou hast goings forth in the person of Jesus "from everlasting." Not only when thou wast born into the world did Christ love thee, but his delights were with the sons of men before there were any sons of men. Often did he think of them; from everlasting to everlasting he had set his affection upon them. What! my soul, has he been so long about thy salvation, and will not he accomplish it? Has he from everlasting been going forth to save me, and will he lose me now? What! Has he carried me in his hand, as his precious jewel, and will he now let me slip from between his fingers? Did he choose me before the mountains were brought forth, or the channels of the deep were digged, and will he reject me now? Impossible! I am sure he would not have loved me so long if he had not been a changeless Lover. If he could grow weary of me, he would have been tired of me long before now. If he had not loved me with a love as deep as hell, and as strong as death, he would have turned from me long ago. Oh, joy above all joys, to know that I am his everlasting and inalienable inheritance, given to him by his Father or ever the earth was! Everlasting love shall be the pillow for my head this night.

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Today's reading: Numbers 15-16, Mark 6:1-29 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Supplementary Offerings

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home 3 and you present to the LORD food offerings from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the LORD—whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings— 4 then the person who brings an offering shall present to the LORD a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of olive oil. 5 With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

6 “‘With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a third of a hin of olive oil, 7and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

8 “‘When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the LORD,9 bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with half a hin[f] of olive oil, 10 and also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. This will be a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 11 Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner. 12Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare.

13 “‘Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when they present a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 14 For the generations to come, whenever a foreigner or anyone else living among you presents a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, they must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.’”

17 The LORD said to Moses, 18 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you19 and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the LORD. 20 Present a loaf from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. 21 Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the LORD from the first of your ground meal.

Offerings for Unintentional Sins

22 “‘Now if you as a community unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the LORD gave Moses— 23 any of the LORD’s commands to you through him, from the day the LORD gave them and continuing through the generations to come— 24and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. 25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the LORD for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering. 26 The whole Israelite community and the foreigners residing among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.

27 “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest is to make atonement before the LORD for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven. 29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner residing among you.

30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD and must be cut off from the people of Israel. 31 Because they have despised the LORD’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’”

The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Tassels on Garments

37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’”

Numbers 16

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

1 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the LORD. The man the LORD chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves[i]? No, we will not come!”

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the LORD tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the LORD. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.” 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the LORD said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.”

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

35 And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

36 The LORD said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the LORD and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the LORD directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the LORD, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the LORD’s people,” they said.

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44and the LORD said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.


Mark 6

A Prophet Without Honor

1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

John the Baptist Beheaded

14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

15 Others said, “He is Elijah.”

And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”

17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

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

“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.

25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

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Herodias

The Woman Responsible for the Murder of a Preacher

Scripture ReferencesMatthew 14:3-12; Mark 6:14-24; Luke 3:19, 20

Name Meaning —As a member of the Herodian dynasty, perhaps the most despicable dynasty history has known, the name Herodias is but the female form of Herod, the royal name for the political rulers during the time of Christ and the apostles. It was under the vile and cruel orders of the Herods that Jesus and His followers were often persecuted and punished. Herod means “heroic”—not very applicable to the Herodian family, the majority of whom, particularly Herodias, were more hellish than heroic.

Family Connections —Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, daughter of Hyrcanus. Her first husband was Philip I, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, so she married her own uncle, by whom she had a daughter, Salome, whom her mother used to destroy John the Baptist. When Herod Antipas visited Rome, he was entertained by Philip and Herodias. Herod abducted his royal brother’s wife. His own wife, an Arabian princess, was an obstacle to an illicit marriage, so he divorced her, and Herodias became queen in her stead, and with her daughter was installed in the palace. “The corroding immorality of Herod’s race shows itself in his marriage with Herodias his brother’s wife and the wanton offense thereby given to Jewish sensibilities.”

Among the female characters in God’s portrait gallery there are many wicked women as we are discovering, but surely Herodias stands out among them as one of the most vile and vicious. Amid the putrefying influence of the palace, however, there was one man who knew no fear, John the Baptist. Herod “feared” him and regarded him as “a just man” and whom “he heard gladly.” Herod found music in the preacher’s message until he sternly rebuked the king by saying of Herodias, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” But such a warning bell was to toll the Baptist’s doom. For his faithful rebuke of Herod’s sin, John was cast into prison, and the evil, scheming mind of Herodias began to work. She was stung by the arrow from the preacher’s quiver and hated him for exposing her shame. “For Herodias' sake,” he was imprisoned and thus the greatest of the prophets was sacrificed for this lewd and vicious woman. But the hatred of such a vile creature was more to be desired than her affection (Matthew 10:23; Luke 6:26 ). Herodias, with her conscience in turmoil because of her accuser, planned to silence him. She did not want Herod to listen too closely and constantly to John’s forceful preaching. She feared her illegal husband—for her first husband was still alive—might repent, and her position as queen, imperiled.

Herodias knew Herod only too well. He easily succumbed to sensual excitement, and as his birthday drew near her foul design was hatched. On the day when drink freely flowed, Herodias used her own daughter to inflame Herod’s passions. She was willing to sacrifice her child’s modesty in order to bend Herod to her will. Herod was overcome by Salome’s form seen through the flowing flimsy garment she wore, and influenced by the act of the dancing girl took a rash and foolish oath to give her whatever she asked, even to half of his kingdom. Approaching her mother, Salome said, “What shall I ask?” Without hesitation Herodias, the female hyena, replied, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist.” Returning to Herod she presented her demand, and Herod was extremely sorry at such a request. Yet, because of his oath’s sake, he sacrificed the preacher whom he regarded as just and holy, and all because of his guilty love for a vile woman. No wonder he was smitten with fear when he heard of the fame of Jesus, thinking it was John the Baptist risen from the dead to torment his conscience further. One wonders how Salome felt when the gory dish of the preacher’s head was handed to her? (See Salome.)

Herodias' Old Testament counterpart was Jezebel. What Herodias was to Herod, Jezebel was to Ahab. Both Ahab and Herod were wicked, and in both cases the woman was more wicked. Both Jezebel and Herodias fostered hate that became deadly against a prophet of God. Jezebel hated Elijah and sought to kill him—Herodias hated John the Baptist, the New Testament Elijah, and succeeded in his murder. What was the end of Herodias? Since she was the source of Herod’s sin, Herodias also became the source of his shame. According to Josephus, Herodias' ambition was the ruin of Herod. Jealous of the power of Agrippa her brother, she prodded Herod to demand of Caligula, the emperor, the title of king. Agrippa saw to it that this demand was refused, and Herod was banished and ended his days in shame and exile. The pride of Herodias forced her to be faithful to her husband in the disgrace and misfortune she herself had caused.

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Abihail [Ăbihā'il]—father of might.

  1. A Levite, father of Zuriel, the chief of the Merarites in the time of Moses (Num. 3:35).
  2. The head of a family of the tribe of Gad (1 Chron. 5:14).
  3. The father of Esther, the niece of Mordecai who became Queen of Persia in the place of Vashti ( Esther 2:15; 9:29).

Abihail occurs as a woman’s name two times in the Bible (1 Chron. 2:29; 2 Chron. 11:18).

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February 27, 2012

Service: Love in Action

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing (Ephesians 2:10, NCV).

Friend to Friend

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are made of the same water that flows down, clear and cold from the heights of Hermon and the roots of the cedars of Lebanon. The Sea of Galilee is a place of great beauty because it has an outlet. It gathers in its riches and then pours them out again to fertilize the Jordan plain. However, the Dead Sea, with the same water creates horror. The Dead Sea has no outlet. It gets to keep.

When we come to God, one of our first "natural" responses is to serve Him. In fact, our service to God should be spontaneous, enthusiastic and tireless. If there is no desire to serve or we find it hard to serve, then there is something wrong in our relationship with God.

One summer, our air conditioner was not working correctly. It only partially cooled the house but seemed to run all day long, doubling our electric bill. When the repairman arrived, the first thing he did was remove the filter from the air conditioning unit. It was filthy. He then removed the coil which was completely covered with layers of dog hair, cat fur and dust. The repairman explained, "This unit was never meant to work under this load. It is working as hard as it can but it is not strong enough to do something it was never intended to do." He then replaced the filter and cleaned the coil. Our electric bill went back down, the house was cooler than it had been in months and the unit ran smoothly.

We were created to serve God and to worship Him – here on earth and for eternity. Worship and service cannot be separated. When we worship God, we will naturally serve Him and when we serve God, we are worshipping Him.

There are many Christians who are doing nothing but there are no Christians who have nothing to do. When we think of a servant, we may think of someone who reports to work for a specific amount of time and is paid a specific wage. That is an employee - not a servant. The word "serve" comes from the Greek word "latreuo" and is often translated as "worship." It is not the picture of a slave serving a master. It is the picture of a love relationship that compels action.

Romans 12:1 (NIV) "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

We worship God by pleasing Him in the daily routines of life. In other words, we should consider each day as a worship service to God.

  • Cleaning house
  • Cooking meals
  • Making beds
  • Picking up children
  • Helping a neighbor
  • Buying groceries
  • Teaching a bible study
  • Listening to a hurting friend

Service begins in the heart where it was conceived in love and then works its way out in every day life as an act of praise and gratitude. Service is love in action.

Let's Pray

Father, thank You for sending Your son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place and pay for my sin. I can never thank You enough for Your grace, mercy and love. I want to serve You with my whole heart. Please lead and direct me in the way You have for me to go. I want to be Your servant.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

  • List several talents and gifts that you recognize in your own life.
  • How are you using those talents and gifts to serve God?
  • Ask those who know you best to identify your strengths. You may be surprised at their response.
  • Look for ways to serve in the areas that give you the most joy.

More from the Girlfriends

The most joyful people I know are the ones who serve God whenever and wherever they can. Don't try to serve with the gifts you think you should have. I encourage you to identify your gifts and abilities and then use them to serve others. God created you with a specific plan in mind and will empower you for His service.

Looking for a Bible Study? Check out one of Mary's E-Bible Studies. You can download each lesson on your own computer, print it out and complete it at your own pace. Perfect for both personal and small group study.

Need encouragement? Check out Mary's weekly online Bible study Light for the Journey and join women across the world in Bible study and prayer. The current topic is When I Am Afraid. Learn how to face and deal with the fear in your life.

Be sure to connect with Mary on Face book or through email. She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com



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Vows and Proper Intent

Matthew 5:33-37

Matthew Henry writes that "the frequent requiring and using of oaths, is a poor reflection on Christians, who should be of such acknowledged fidelity, as that their sober words should be as sacred as their solemn oaths." Believers are to be people so known for their truthfulness that they have no need to vow that they will keep their word. Let us not make promises that we cannot keep and be faithful to do what we say in big and small things.

For further study:

Leviticus 19:11-12

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 32-33

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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Karen Ehman

February 27, 2012

Does Practice Always Make Perfect?
Karen Ehman

"Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13 (NIV)

"It's okay, slugger. Keep trying. Remember, 'Practice makes perfect.'"

The Little League baseball coach attempted to encourage my son who'd just struck out at the plate. Coach Mike wasn't the only adult to utter that phrase to one of my kids during their young life. My daughter's violin teacher spurred her students on to more hours of rehearsal by voicing the same phrase. And the kids' Bible-quizzing coaches ascribed to the truth of the old expression.

Teachers urge students to practice their penmanship. Bosses advise employees to practice their duties until they've sharpened their skills. And what former piano student can't still hear their teacher's voice echoing, "Practice, practice, practice"?

But is it true that practice always makes perfect?

Tucked away in the New Testament book of Romans, God seems to send us a quick text message by way of a simple two-word sentence: "Practice hospitality" but there is no mention of perfect.

However, the very word hospitality can evoke a feeling of panic and expectations of perfect. Images come to mind of magazine-like dÈcor, gourmet-style fancy foods, spotless surroundings and stunning homes.

But do you, or your home or food, have to be perfect in order to practice hospitality?

I find it interesting when studying Bible verses, to not just look at what the verse says but also at what it doesn't say. Today's key verse does not say many things. It does not say, "Now those of you who have roomy, gorgeous homes, offer hospitality." Or "You culinary-savvy gals who can give Rachael Ray a run for her money, have people over for supper."

No reference to the cleanliness of our homes, the dÈcor on our walls or our spatula-wielding expertise in the kitchen (or lack thereof). We are simply told to practice.

The verb "practice" is defined as "to perform an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve one's proficiency." It doesn't state we will ever gain perfection, only that we will see progress.

I'm thankful I was encouraged as a young woman to practice hospitality with the goal of getting better, not obtaining perfection. My starting point was near zero, knowing only how to boil water and make "slice and bake" cookies. Thankfully, God wasn't looking for perfection in this area for He would not have found it. Instead of looking at the condition of my home, He was more often looking at the condition of my heart.

So, over twenty years ago, I swallowed hard, whispered a prayer and began to open both my home and my heart. My practice has made progress. I have learned tips for decorating, methods for cleaning and gained an arsenal of easy, delicious dishes to offer guests.

However, I have also served burnt chicken, had company spy cobwebs on my light fixtures and moved piles of unfolded laundry off the couch so they could find a place to sit. Planned company may give us time to tidy up and whip up something yummy. But spontaneous hospitality means we need to be willing to welcome others into our lived-in homes and serve frozen pizzas and ice cream sandwiches with a smile.

Practicing hospitality is one of God's ways of encouraging us to bless others, but often we end up blessed instead. Will you join me in this venture as we make room in our hearts and our homes? Even with practice our houses, cuisine, and us may not be perfect, but we'll be connecting hearts and touching lives as we seek to serve those whom God puts in our path. Put the kettle on. Company's coming!

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I've shied away from offering hospitality to others. Help me to welcome and serve people as You have commanded me to, knowing You are looking for progress, not perfection. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Enter to win a hospitality-themed basket and find out more about Karen's upcoming online study on this topic atKaren's blog

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

Reflect and Respond:
Who are some people you feel God nudging you to invite into your home? Make time to contact them soon.

Has there been someone in your life who showed you hospitality? What touched you most about your time with them?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 4:8-10, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." (NIV)

© 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Prayer answered, love nourished

“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplication.” Psalm 116:1

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 6:18-24

If a beggar comes to your house, and you give him alms, you will be greatly annoyed if within a month he shall come again; and if you then discover that he has made it a rule to wait upon you monthly for a contribution, you will say to him, “I gave you something once, but I did not mean to establish it as a rule.” Suppose, however, that the beggar should be so impudent and impertinent that he should say, “But I intend sir, to wait upon you every morning and every evening,” then you would say, “I intend to keep my gate locked that you shall not trouble me.” And suppose he should then look you in the face and add still more, “Sir, I intend waiting upon you every hour, nor can I promise that I won’t come to you sixty times in an hour; but I just vow and declare that as often as I want anything so often will I come to you: if I only have a wish I will come and tell it to you; the least thing and the greatest thing shall drive me to you; I will always be at the post of your door.” You would soon be tired of such importunity as that, and wish the beggar anywhere, rather than that he should come and tease you so. Yet recollect, this is just what you have done to God, and he has never complained of you for doing it; but rather he has complained of you the other way. He has said, “Thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob.” He has never murmured at the frequency of your prayers, but has complained that you have not come to him enough.

For meditation: In his unchanging willingness and desire to hear his childrens’ requests, God is unlike any person we know. Jesus had to teach this lesson by contrast, rather than by comparison (Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8).

Sermon no. 240
27 February (1859)

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A jealous God

‘For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.’Exodus 34:14

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Kings 10:15–31

How careful should we be when we do anything for God, and God is pleased to accept of our doings, that we never congratulate ourselves. The minister of Christ should unrobe himself of every rag of praise. ‘You preached well,’ said a friend to John Bunyan one morning. ‘You are too late,’ said honest John, ‘the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.’ The devil often tells God’s servants a great many things which they should be sorry to hear. Why, you can hardly be useful in a Sunday School but he will say to you ‘How well you have done it!’ You can scarcely resist a temptation, or set a good example, but he will be whispering to you ‘What an excellent person you must be!’ It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—‘Not unto us, O Lord , not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.’ Now God is so jealous on this point that, while he will forgive his own servants a thousand things, this is an offence for which he is sure to chasten us. Let a believer once say, ‘I am,’ and God will soon make him say ‘I am not’. Let a Christian begin to boast, ‘I can do all things,’ without adding ‘through Christ which stengtheneth me,’ and before long he will have to groan, ‘I can do nothing,’ and bemoan himself. Many sins of true Christians, I do not doubt, have been the result of their glorifying themselves. Many a man has been permitted by God to stain a noble character and to ruin an admirable reputation, because the character and the reputation had come to be the man’s own, instead of being laid, as all our crowns must be laid, at the feet of Christ. You may build the city, but if you say with Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Behold this great Babylon that I have built!’ you shall be smitten to the earth. The worms which ate Herod when he gave not God the glory are ready for another meal; beware of vain glory!

For meditation: The temptation to pat ourselves on the back should be the cue for us to recall how the Lord Jesus Christ instructs us to think and speak about our good deeds (Luke 17:10 ). Any glory resulting from them should go to God (Matthew 5:16).

Sermon no. 502
27 February (Preached 29 March 1863)

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Personal Development: Dependence on God

READ JOHN 11:1–44

No leader can model faith in God until he or she has developed a consistent dependence on God. Once that faith is established, opportunities will arise when others can’t help but see it. For instance, before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead he prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:42).

Jesus’ faith in his Father was exercised in a way that demonstrated the power of God in a seemingly hopeless situation. This was faith in the midst of illness, death and deep despair. As leaders we want to cultivate the kind of dependence on God that others can see in real-life situations. Such a faith is not cultivated during a crisis, but before a crisis. It’s developed during routine days. And the leader who cultivates such a faith will provide a role model of steadfast dependence on God that no follower will forget.

Is your faith in God such that others see him working through you on routine and nonroutine days? What one thing could you do each day to cultivate your dependence on God and demonstrate that dependence so others will see an example they could follow? Jesus knew that faith in God was the basis for strength and hope in the midst of despair. That same hope is available to you, through the Spirit, today in whatever situation you may face.

Dependence on God and Who God Is

Jeremiah’s dependence upon God got him in plenty of hot water with the leadership of Israel. He stuck to his prophecy, however, trusting God to bring about what he had promised. Israel’s top advisors, however, were rewarded for telling their benefactors what they wanted to hear. Jeremiah knew better than to please earthly leaders and ignore the One true Leader. Read a portion of his story in Jeremiah 23:16–22.

Dependence on God and Who I Am

How can anyone who clearly understands reality think he can make better decisions than God? Good question, but the Bible is full of accounts of people who thought just that. Read Genesis 2:4—3:24 and meet a man who clearly understood reality but still depended on personal choice over God’s will. As you do, consider times when you have done the same thing. Has the outcome been positive or negative?

This Week's Verse to Memorize NAHUM 1:7

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

Dependence on God and How It Works

How could anyone trust his or her own instincts when those instincts violate God’s instructions? Let’s take a closer look at the deceiver and his tactics before we start feeling morally superior to Eve. You and I will be lured away from depending on God just as surely as Adam and Eve were lured away. But we have an advantage over them— they couldn’t learn from their mistake until they made it. We can. Let’s turn to Genesis 3:1–6 and do just that.

Dependence on God and What I Do

There is nothing like a good, clear, crisp statement to clarify things. God gives us just that kind of statement about depending on him. Proverbs 3:5–6 deserves the leader’s closest examination. You owe it to yourself, and to those who depend on your leadership, to decide upon whom you depend.


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Vows and Proper Intent

Matthew 5:33-37 "Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil" (v. 37).

As we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount, we must again be clear that we may not read Jesus in a way that contradicts the Old Testament. He comes to fulfill the Father's purposes and promises and to show Himself as the goal of the old covenant revelation (Matt. 1:18-25; 4:12-17; 5:17-20 ). Dr. Sinclair Ferguson comments, "What at first appears to be a contrast [between Christ's teaching and the Old Testament] is really Jesus' proper explanation and application [of the Old Testament]" (The Sermon on the Mount, p. 95).

Therefore, it would be a mistake to abolish oaths and vows altogether based on today's passage. Matthew 5:33-37 has little bearing on the swearing of oaths in a solemn setting, such as when we testify in a court or enter the marriage covenant. Jesus is dealing more generally here with the priority of truth and our tendency to break everyday commitments. Oaths and vows were instituted to safeguard the truth (Num. 30:1-2), but sinful humanity soon found ways to get around the spirit of this principle. Many rabbis in Jesus' day taught that a vow made in God's name is inviolable but that one made in the name of something else can be disregarded. Some rabbis even taught that a vow made in the name of Jerusalem is not binding but one made when facing toward the holy city is sacrosanct. This tendency to fudge when telling the truth is universal. Today, politicians debate the meaning of is, and corporations "cook their books" to keep shareholders in the dark. Liberal ministers vow to uphold the purity of the church even though they hate her creeds.

Our Savior will have none of this. Any vow we make, even if sworn by something besides God, is made in His presence (Matt. 5:33-36 ), and we cannot get around our commitments through endless qualifications. We should affirm something only if we are true to it; alternately, we ought to say no if we have any doubt that we can follow through. Our yes must be yes and our no, no (v. 37).

Jesus later testifies under oath (26:62-64 ) because He recognizes the legality of vows and is not abolishing their use altogether in the Sermon on the Mount. He only forbids us from making promises that we do not intend to keep.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry writes that "the frequent requiring and using of oaths, is a poor reflection on Christians, who should be of such acknowledged fidelity, as that their sober words should be as sacred as their solemn oaths." Believers are to be people so known for their truthfulness that they have no need to vow that they will keep their word. Let us not make promises that we cannot keep and be faithful to do what we say in big and small things.

For further study:

Leviticus 19:11-12

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 32-33

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Little White Lies

Jeremiah 9:1-6

Additional Scripture Readings: Proverbs 30:8; Ephesians 4:25

We tell them all the time. When we want to decline an invitation without hurting someone's feelings, we tell a white lie. On the tennis court, we call a ball in when it is out-in our favor of course. In a financial crisis we stretch the truth and file for personal bankruptcy. Our children follow our example, telling white lies in their self-defense: "I didn't forget to take out the trash. I was going to do it in a minute."

In order to make them sound more like truths and less like lies, we label these everyday falsehoods "half-truths" or "white lies." Like white magic or good witches, we hope that white lies will accomplish good. But lies are lies. If something is only half truth, then it is false.

Check your speech for white lies. You may be priding yourself on your honesty, while stretching the truth into what isn't truth at all.

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To Know God Is to Trust God

Job 1:1-22

Imagine that your neighbor calls you at work, telling you the terrible news that your house and vehicles have been destroyed by fire, and while that person is still speaking, you learn that you've been fired from your job. While those words are still coming out of your employer's mouth, your husband calls: your kids and all their families have been killed while they were vacationing together.

These are the unimaginable circumstances Job encountered. Devastating messages assaulted him again and again-each one coming while the messenger "was still speaking" (vs. 16-18). Who can even begin to comprehend his sheer horror at learning that all ten of his children were dead?

What did Job do? What was his initial response upon hearing of the loss of all he owned and of all he held dear? First, he grieved. He physically responded in the Eastern mode of grief by tearing his robe and shaving his head to display his deep sorrow. Yet no outward sign of grief could capture the inward torture Job felt.

Job's next step demonstrates faithfulness toward God. He fell to the ground and worshiped. That's right-he didn't berate God or ask "Why me?" or "Why them?" Instead, he acknowledged that everything comes from God, and he praised the name of the Lord. Try envisioning that scene. It will take your breath away. Picture this man, deep in the throes of grief, praising God. In light of the horrific blows dealt to him, how did he do that?

Only one answer suffices: Job knew God-really knew him with an uncommon intimacy. His close communion with God had taught him that God was the only one who could give him any kind of real comfort. Job's knowledge yielded a deep trust in an infallible Lord-a trust that enabled Job's heart to keep beating even in the face of overwhelming heartbreak. It enabled him to respond to horrible pain with worship and praise.

Yes, times of seeking for answers and grappling for understanding followed that day of destruction, but Job's initial response reflected a heart that knew and trusted God. What an amazing and beautiful image!

Reflection

  1. How have you responded to bad news in the past? With praise? Anger? Despair? Confusion?
  2. Job knew God well enough to turn to him in grief. How deep does your knowledge of God go? How close is your heart attuned to his?
  3. How might going through tough times or experiencing pain and grief help someone know God?

Job 1:20-21
Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."

Related Readings

Deuteronomy 32:36-39; Psalms 42:1-11; 86:1-17

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Day 6

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.

Why should you be thankful that God sent his Son into the world?

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Today's Prayer

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. -- Book of Common Prayer

Today's Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22

18
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits-- 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Today's Quote

The Lord, though he was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but he rose from the dead, and cried aloud:

"Who will contend with me? Let him confront me. I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against me? I," he said, "am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ."

"Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father." --Melito of Sardis, 2nd century church father

Something to Think About

As we begin the second week of Lent, what is on your heart? Has God placed on you any special concerns, convictions, or reminders?
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Today's Lent reading: Matthew 13-14 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Parable of the Sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[b] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”[c]

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

A Prophet Without Honor

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Matthew 14

John the Baptist Beheaded

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.

6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret.35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.


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