Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 6th March

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Ye must be born again."
John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are "born again," for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it--the being "born again," is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been "born again," your acknowledgment will be, "O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day dead in trespasses and sins.' My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. My life is hid with Christ in God.' It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me." May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

Evening

"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty."
Proverbs 18:12

It is an old and common saying, that "coming events cast their shadows before them;" the wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the prophetic prelude of evil. Pride is as safely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain; and far more infallibly so than that. When men have ridden the high horse, destruction has always overtaken them. Let David's aching heart show that there is an eclipse of a man's glory when he dotes upon his own greatness. 2 Sam. 24:10. See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon, creeping on the earth, devouring grass like oxen, until his nails had grown like bird's claws, and his hair like eagle's feathers. Dan. 4:33. Pride made the boaster a beast, as once before it made an angel a devil. God hates high looks, and never fails to bring them down. All the arrows of God are aimed at proud hearts. O Christian, is thine heart haughty this evening? For pride can get into the Christian's heart as well as into the sinner's; it can delude him into dreaming that he is "rich and increased in goods, and hath need of nothing." Art thou glorying in thy graces or thy talents? Art thou proud of thyself, that thou hast had holy frames and sweet experiences? Mark thee, reader, there is a destruction coming to thee also. Thy flaunting poppies of self-conceit will be pulled up by the roots, thy mushroom graces will wither in the burning heat, and thy self-sufficiency shall become as straw for the dunghill. If we forget to live at the foot of the cross in deepest lowliness of spirit, God will not forget to make us smart under his rod. A destruction will come to thee, O unduly exalted believer, the destruction of thy joys and of thy comforts, though there can be no destruction of thy soul. Wherefore, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
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Today's reading: Numbers 32-34, Mark 9:30-50 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Transjordan Tribes

1 The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. 2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— 4the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 5 If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”

6 Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? 7 Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the LORD has given them? 8 This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to look over the land. 9 After they went up to the Valley of Eshkol and viewed the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the LORD had given them. 10 The LORD’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath: 11 ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— 12 not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly.’ 13 The LORD’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.

14 “And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the LORD even more angry with Israel. 15 If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.”

16 Then they came up to him and said, “We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children. 17 But we will arm ourselves for battle and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has received their inheritance. 19 We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”

20 Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this—if you will arm yourselves before the LORD for battle 21 and if all of you who are armed cross over the Jordan before the LORD until he has driven his enemies out before him— 22 then when the land is subdued before the LORD, you may return and be free from your obligation to the LORD and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the LORD.

23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. 24Build cities for your women and children, and pens for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”

25 The Gadites and Reubenites said to Moses, “We your servants will do as our lord commands. 26 Our children and wives, our flocks and herds will remain here in the cities of Gilead. 27 But your servants, every man who is armed for battle, will cross over to fight before the LORD, just as our lord says.”

28 Then Moses gave orders about them to Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun and to the family heads of the Israelite tribes. 29 He said to them, “If the Gadites and Reubenites, every man armed for battle, cross over the Jordan with you before the LORD, then when the land is subdued before you, you must give them the land of Gilead as their possession. 30But if they do not cross over with you armed, they must accept their possession with you in Canaan.”

31 The Gadites and Reubenites answered, “Your servants will do what the LORD has said. 32 We will cross over before the LORD into Canaan armed, but the property we inherit will be on this side of the Jordan.”

33 Then Moses gave to the Gadites, the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and the territory around them.

34 The Gadites built up Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth Nimrah and Beth Haran as fortified cities, and built pens for their flocks. 37 And the Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh and Kiriathaim, 38 as well as Nebo and Baal Meon (these names were changed) and Sibmah. They gave names to the cities they rebuilt.

39 The descendants of Makir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, captured it and drove out the Amorites who were there.40 So Moses gave Gilead to the Makirites, the descendants of Manasseh, and they settled there. 41 Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, captured their settlements and called them Havvoth Jair. 42 And Nobah captured Kenath and its surrounding settlements and called it Nobah after himself.

Numbers 33

Stages in Israel’s Journey

1 Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2 At the LORD’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:

3 The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out defiantly in full view of all the Egyptians, 4 who were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them; for the LORD had brought judgment on their gods.

5 The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Sukkoth.

6 They left Sukkoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert.

7 They left Etham, turned back to Pi Hahiroth, to the east of Baal Zephon, and camped near Migdol.

8 They left Pi Hahiroth and passed through the sea into the desert, and when they had traveled for three days in the Desert of Etham, they camped at Marah.

9 They left Marah and went to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there.

10 They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea.

11 They left the Red Sea and camped in the Desert of Sin.

12 They left the Desert of Sin and camped at Dophkah.

13 They left Dophkah and camped at Alush.

14 They left Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.

15 They left Rephidim and camped in the Desert of Sinai.

16 They left the Desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah.

17 They left Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.

18 They left Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah.

19 They left Rithmah and camped at Rimmon Perez.

20 They left Rimmon Perez and camped at Libnah.

21 They left Libnah and camped at Rissah.

22 They left Rissah and camped at Kehelathah.

23 They left Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher.

24 They left Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah.

25 They left Haradah and camped at Makheloth.

26 They left Makheloth and camped at Tahath.

27 They left Tahath and camped at Terah.

28 They left Terah and camped at Mithkah.

29 They left Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah.

30 They left Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth.

31 They left Moseroth and camped at Bene Jaakan.

32 They left Bene Jaakan and camped at Hor Haggidgad.

33 They left Hor Haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah.

34 They left Jotbathah and camped at Abronah.

35 They left Abronah and camped at Ezion Geber.

36 They left Ezion Geber and camped at Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.

37 They left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the border of Edom. 38 At the LORD’s command Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor, where he died on the first day of the fifth month of the fortieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. 39 Aaron was a hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.

40 The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev of Canaan, heard that the Israelites were coming.

41 They left Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah.

42 They left Zalmonah and camped at Punon.

43 They left Punon and camped at Oboth.

44 They left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim, on the border of Moab.

45 They left Iye Abarim and camped at Dibon Gad.

46 They left Dibon Gad and camped at Almon Diblathaim.

47 They left Almon Diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, near Nebo.

48 They left the mountains of Abarim and camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 49 There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim.

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’”

Numbers 34

Boundaries of Canaan

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance is to have these boundaries:

3 “‘Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. Your southern boundary will start in the east from the southern end of the Dead Sea, 4 cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, 5where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea.

6 “‘Your western boundary will be the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This will be your boundary on the west.

7 “‘For your northern boundary, run a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor 8 and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, 9 continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north.

10 “‘For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. 11 The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee.[e] 12 Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea.

“‘This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.’”

13 Moses commanded the Israelites: “Assign this land by lot as an inheritance. The LORD has ordered that it be given to the nine and a half tribes, 14 because the families of the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance. 15 These two and a half tribes have received their inheritance east of the Jordan across from Jericho, toward the sunrise.”

16 The LORD said to Moses, 17 “These are the names of the men who are to assign the land for you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. 18 And appoint one leader from each tribe to help assign the land. 19 These are their names:

Caleb son of Jephunneh,
from the tribe of Judah;

20 Shemuel son of Ammihud,
from the tribe of Simeon;

21 Elidad son of Kislon,
from the tribe of Benjamin;

22 Bukki son of Jogli,
the leader from the tribe of Dan;

23 Hanniel son of Ephod,
the leader from the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph;

24 Kemuel son of Shiphtan,
the leader from the tribe of Ephraim son of Joseph;

25 Elizaphan son of Parnak,
the leader from the tribe of Zebulun;

26 Paltiel son of Azzan,
the leader from the tribe of Issachar;

27 Ahihud son of Shelomi,
the leader from the tribe of Asher;

28 Pedahel son of Ammihud,
the leader from the tribe of Naphtali.”

29 These are the men the LORD commanded to assign the inheritance to the Israelites in the land of Canaan.


Mark 9

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Causing to Stumble

42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

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Phebe, Phoebe

The Woman Who Wore the Badge of Kindness

Scripture ReferenceRomans 16:1,2

Name Meaning—Pure or radiant as the moon

We know nothing of this pious female who delivered Paul’s “inestimable packet”—The Epistle to the Romans &--;to Rome. We just have the brief mention of her name and service. Phoebe, a devout Christian, bore without change and without reproach the name of the Moon-Goddess of the Greeks. The goddess Artemis, known by the common epithet “Phoebe,” was supposed to have been identified with the light of the moon. But the Phoebe whom Paul so highly commended shone as a light for Jesus, the “Light of the World.” That she must have been a woman of some consequence appears from the fact that she planned a long journey to Rome on business of her own, and offered to convey to the saints there Paul’s letter—“an inspired masterpiece of logic which struck the keynote of orthodoxy for the universal Church through all the succeeding ages.”

In some fifty words Paul gives us a beautiful cameo of this saintly servant of Christ for whom he urged the saints at Rome to do their utmost. The importance of her visit is indicated by the appeal of Paul to the Romans to “assist her in whatever matter she had need of.” Phoebe was—

A Sister

As used by Paul, this designation implies a spiritual relationship. He calls the believing husband and wife, “the brother and the sister” ( 1 Corinthians 7:15; 9:5). Young Timothy was his “son in the faith.” Phoebe, then, was a member of a spiritual family in which the relationship is based upon the redemption of Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:4-7 ). Apart from natural relationships, no woman is my “sister” unless she shares my experience of God’s saving grace through which alone we are made members of His redeemed family. How or when Phoebe became a Christian and a sister in the Lord, we are not told. What is evident is the manifestation of her sisterly love and labors among her sisters and brothers in Christ. “Our sister” is a term indicating her Christian status.

A Servant of the Church

Phoebe was not only a member of a spiritual family, but likewise a member of the visible church at Cenchrea when Paul arrived there on his third journey and from where he wrote Romans. Phoebe was not merely a confessing and active believer, she was also “a ministrant of the Church.” The word for “servant” is diakonos , from which we have “deacon” or “deaconess.” It is not certain whether such an official female Order as “Deaconess” was in vogue at that time. Phoebe, however, occupied such a position in the church, and as such could be a teacher of all female inquirers of the faith, and be active in the relief of the temporal needs of the poor among the flock. We can safely assume that Phoebe was one of the first, if not the first, of the noble band of deaconesses in the Christian Church. If hers was not an official ministry, it was certainly a most gracious and effective one, and she was indeed one of the forerunners of the vast army of women who have rendered such loyal service to Christ and His Church.

A Succourer of Many, and of Myself Also

The word Paul used for “succourer”—prostatis—is a most expressive one. It literally means “one who stands by in case of need.” It is classical Greek describing a trainer in the Olympic games, who stood by the athletes to see that they were properly trained and not over-trained and rightly girded when they lined up for the signal. Moule translates the phrase, “She on her part has proved a stand-by (almost a champion , one who stands up for others) of many, aye, and of me among them.” Phoebe was the unselfish, liberal helper or patroness of the saints, conspicuous for her works of charity and also hospitality. To quote Moule again—

She had been a devoted and it would seem particularly a bravefriend of converts in trouble, and of Paul himself. Perhaps in the course of her visits to the desolate she had fought difficult battles of protest, where she found harshness and oppression. Perhaps she had pleaded the forgotten cause of the poor, with a woman’s courage, before some neglectful richer “brother.”

As for the personal touch “a succourer ... of myself also ,” it has been suggested that Paul had in mind the visit he paid to Cenchrea and, shaving his head took a Jewish vow (Acts 18:18). “The vow seems to point to a deliverance from danger to sickness in which Phoebe may have attended him.” Because of her saintliness and practical works, Paul urged the believers in Rome to “receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints.” All in the Lord are saints but some are more saintly than others. Godly Phoebe is witness to what Christ can accomplish through consecrated spinsterhood.

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Adonijah [Ădonī'jah]—jehovah is lord.

  1. The fourth son of David and Haggith, born in Hebron (2 Sam 3:4). Adonijah was the victim of Oriental intrigue. After the death of Absalom, he became the rightful heir to the throne (1 Kings 2:15 ), but Bathsheba had other designs for her son Solomon who, when secure on the throne interpreted Adonijah’s desire for Abishag as an effort to secure the kingdom. Self-preservation compelled Solomon to order Adonijah’s death, a sentence carried out by Benaiah.
  2. A Levite sent by Jehoshaphat to teach the Law (2 Chron. 17:8).
  3. A chieftain who with Nehemiah sealed the covenant (Neh. 10:14-16).
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The Disciples' Prayer

Matthew 6:9-15 "If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (v. 14).

After Jesus tells us not to pray like the hypocrites, He teaches us how to commune with God properly. Today's passage contains what is traditionally called the Lord's Prayer, though this title is bit of a misnomer. Properly speaking, our Savior cannot pray this prayer in the same way we can because He has no need of forgiveness (Matt. 6:12; 1 Peter 2:22 ). The Disciples' Prayer is probably a more accurate title, commentators note, since Christ's followers pray it. In any case, these words from our Lord are among the most beloved sections of Scripture, and our study can offer only the barest glimpse of their meaning.

First, it is significant that Jesus teaches us to pray our Father, not my Father (v. 9 ). This prayer is meant to be prayed corporately; Christian piety is not an individualistic affair. If God is our Father, then all followers of Christ are our siblings. We come together as a family, especially on the Lord's Day, to call on His name, learn His will, and offer thanks for His salvation. The privilege of addressing God as Father is available only to those who serve Jesus (John 1:12-13) and helps us understand our Creator's loving care for us. This love is a holy love that is willing to discipline us for our own purity ( Heb. 12:3-11).

Second, as we pray for God's will to be done and His name to be hallowed (Matt. 6:9-10), we know that we are to be agents through whom He accomplishes this request. His will includes forgiveness, and only those who forgive can pray this prayer sincerely. Only an arrogant person asks God to do for him that which he refuses to do for others, and our Father will not pardon the unforgiving person ( vv. 14-15). By no means, however, do we merit God's forgiveness. He who forgives knows his own wickedness and sees that he is no better than anyone else. He cannot hold a grudge against other sinners since the holy Creator has forgiven him, a sinner. An unforgiving person has not really seen himself as a transgressor undeserving of God's love and in need of forgiveness. Not having truly repented, he does not really know the Lord's pardon and is unable to forgive other sinners. Matthew Henry comments, "He who relents toward his brother thus shows that he repents toward his God."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Lack of forgiveness, we learn in today's passage, may prove a lack of faith. No matter how hard it may be to forgive others, we simply cannot call ourselves followers of Christ if we do not forgive those who have offended us. Few of us find it easy to pardon those who have hurt us, but pardon them we must. Are you nursing a grudge or thoughts of revenge against another person this day? If so, you have not forgiven him. Go and forgive him today.

For further study:

Psalm 103:13

The Bible in a year:

Deuteronomy 14-16

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

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March 5, 2012
Like a Child
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I recently read the story of a young family who went out to eat at a local restaurant. They were the only family with children in the restaurant. The mom sat their little boy, Erik, in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi." He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin as he wriggled and giggled with joy.

The mother looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man wearing baggy pants and shoes so worn that his toes poked out. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. The man sat far away but the mother was sure he smelled bad. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists in an effort to make Erik laugh.

"Hi there, baby. Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik. Erik's mom and dad exchanged looks and asked, "What do we do?" Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi." Everyone in the restaurant noticed the man who was creating a nuisance with the beautiful baby. Their meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo." Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

Erik's parents were embarrassed and ate in silence. Not Erik. He was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments. The parents finally got through the meal and headed for the door. The husband went to pay the check and told his wife to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between the mother and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," she prayed. As she drew closer to the man, she turned her back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As she did, Erik leaned over her arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before the mom could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from her arms to the man's.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head on the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and tears hovered beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled the baby and gently stroked his back.

No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. The mother and every other person in the restaurant were awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and in a firm and even commanding voice said, "You take care of this baby." Somehow the mother managed, "I will" from a throat choked with emotion.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. The mom took her baby and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift." With Erik in her arms, the mom ran for the car. Her husband was wondering why his wife was crying and holding Erik so tightly saying, "My God, my God, forgive me." Everyone had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. The mother was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. A ragged old man had unwittingly preached the message found in Scripture, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."

Let's Pray
Father, please forgive me for the times I have judged others and failed to love them like You wanted me to love them. Help me see others through Your eyes of unconditional love. Give me a heart of love and mercy toward others in need.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Read the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. Put yourself in the place of the wounded man. How would you have responded to the actions of the Samaritan? Put yourself in the place of the Samaritan. What was he thinking when he saw the wounded Jewish man lying on the road? Put yourself in the place of the inn keeper. What do you imagine he thought when the Samaritan brought the wounded Jewish man in? How does this story apply to your life?

More from the Girlfriends
It is so easy to live each day with tunnel vision. To dismiss people because they don't look like we do or act like we do. Jesus never did that. He always made time for the lonely man, woman and child in need. I want to be more like Him. I want to have His eyes and His heart when it comes to meeting the needs of people He brings into my life. How about you?

Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email. Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary's website. Need a Bible Study? Check out the E-Bible Studies available in Mary's online store. They are perfect for small group study as well as your own personal study.

Need help getting the Word of God into your life? Check out Mary's Weekly Online Bible Study, When I Am Afraid, to learn how to face, deal with and surrender your fears to God.

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P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
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LeAnn Rice

March 5, 2012

Caring for the Overlooked
LeAnn Rice

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

I can count on my fingers the number of times I showered during the last couple of months of Ron's life. My husband was confined to a hospital bed in our living room, and hooked up to a morphine drip that he'd try to pull out of his arm when he'd wake disoriented. And we had a three-year-old little boy who liked to toss things into the toilet bowl and stir them around. I couldn't take my eyes off of either one of them.

But I needed to bathe and brush my teeth. I had groceries to purchase, mouths to feed, bills to pay and trash to take to the curb. Several times throughout the day, I needed to go to the bathroom. I depended on others to help me "carry" all these things.

Once a week, a Hospice volunteer sat with Ron so I could take a shower and a nap. My mother and sister-in-law picked Nick up a couple of times a week so he didn't witness things with his dad that a toddler shouldn't see. There were occasional visits from friends and other family members, but most kept away because it was too difficult for them to see their beloved Ron deteriorate so quickly.

I understood. Really, I did.

But it was hard.

I felt alone and helpless.

Hungry and tired and dirty.

And I was watching the love of my life die a little more each day.

I wouldn't trade those final days with Ron for anything in the world. I would not have wanted (or allowed) anyone else to care for him. Love gave me strength and God carried me when I had no energy left. Yet, while the role of caregiver is one I cherished, it was filled with so many challenges and hardships.

Do you know someone who is caring for a chronically or terminally-ill loved one, an elderly parent or a young child?

As today's verse in Galatians tells us, we are called to be compassionate, to love, and to carry each other's burdens. When we do these things in His Name, we demonstrate His love to others. It is our responsibility as Christians. And it's our privilege.

From a heart that has been there, may I encourage you? Don't overlook the caregiver. Love on them. Encourage them. And be the hands of Christ, helping carry their burdens, in the midst of their weariness.

Dear Lord, please give me Your eyes to see the struggling caregivers around me. Strengthen and equip me to help carry their burdens. Help me to see when help is needed and when I would be more of a burden than a help. Show me tangible ways that I can make a difference, bring encouragement, and share Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know the Greatest Comforter?

Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cecil Murphy and Liz Allison

For more encouragement from LeAnn, stop by She Cooksor visit her and her team at A Widow's Might.

Reflect and Respond:
Is there someone in your life, at work, or in your church that is currently the primary or only caregiver for someone? Let them know that you are praying for them and that they matter.

Offer your assistance. If they are hesitant to accept, find practical ways to help like bringing groceries or stopping by with a hot meal and laundry detergent. Do a load of laundry. If they have children, offer to take them to the park or on a play date with your kids.

Power Verse:
John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

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

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Skills: Conflict Management

READ MATTHEW 5:23-24; 18:15-17

One thing is certain: As a leader, you'll face relational conflicts. No leadership model exists that will allow you to avoid them. The question isn't "Will I face conflicts?" but "How can I best manage conflicts when they arise?" When Jesus addressed problems, he tackled them head-on. While delivering the Sermon on the Mount (and later in Matthew 18) he dealt with the issue of conflicts brought about either by others offending us or by our offending them. While the Lord was addressing the problem of sin, there are broader principles at work in his teaching. And no matter which side has caused the problem, the solution is the same: First, go to the person with whom you are experiencing a conflict and address the issues face-to-face. Avoid involving a third or fourth person, especially if their knowledge of the situation will worsen the problem for the offending individual. Such discussions tend to intensify the conflict and further undermine the relationship.

Second, go to the person quickly. Jesus counseled that, if someone is worshiping God and remembers that he or she has offended a friend, the appropriate response is to stop right there and go immediately to the offended individual. With those words Jesus made it clear that relational harmony is so important that it must be achieved before effective worship can take place (Matthew 5:24). After all, how can a man or woman connect with God when he or she has unresolved relational issues with a brother or sister?

Effective leaders don't ignore conflict. They manage it by creating an environment in which people are enabled to work through relational friction on a one-on-one basis. Only after such efforts have failed are others allowed to enter the conflict, and then only for the purpose of bringing about reconciliation. Conflicts can't be avoided. But they can be managed. And a wise leader will devote himself or herself to learning how to do that.

Conflict Management and Who God Is

Although the players may be invisible, we live in the context of a titanic spiritual war in which the opposing forces of light and darkness contend for the souls of men and women. Scripture assures us that, although this invisible war is real, it is also temporary; God himself will bring history to a point at which this cosmic conflict will be finally resolved. Turn to Revelation 19:11-21 for a vivid symbolic description of the final intervention of the King of kings and Lord of lords in the affairs of human history.

Conflict Management and Who I Am

Fight or flight, aggression or avoidance-neither of these strategies provides an effective long-term technique for managing conflict. Because we have different temperaments, some of us are less confrontational than others. Still, a good leader must develop the skill of confronting others when necessary. Turn to 2 Samuel 14:1-15:37 to learn from a negative example. There you'll read about how David mismanaged his conflict with his son Absalom.

This Week's Verse to Memorize MATTHEW 5:43-45

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

Conflict Management and How It Works

While the word conflict usually carries a negative connotation, conflict itself doesn't have to be negative. That's why we've titled this week's study "Conflict Management" rather than "Conflict Resolution" -a conflict is not something that simply needs to be "resolved," as though getting through it and moving on are the highest goals. Conflict produces energy, and energy can be channeled in positive directions. How can a leader make this happen? Turn Ephesians 4:1-3 to discover the keys to managing conflict with the goal of a positive outcome.

Conflict Management and What I Do

Conflict is a fact of life in this world, so it's crucial that a person in a leadership position learn how to manage it with an eye toward positive closure. Jesus provides us with some guidance and Martin Luther King Jr. offers some practical direction with regard to how we can do this. Turn to Matthew 5:43-45.


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The Disciples' Prayer

Matthew 6:9-15

Lack of forgiveness, we learn in today's passage, may prove a lack of faith. No matter how hard it may be to forgive others, we simply cannot call ourselves followers of Christ if we do not forgive those who have offended us. Few of us find it easy to pardon those who have hurt us, but pardon them we must. Are you nursing a grudge or thoughts of revenge against another person this day? If so, you have not forgiven him. Go and forgive him today.

For further study:

Psalm 103:13

The Bible in a year:

Deuteronomy 14-16

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

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Jesus about his Father’s business

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4:34

Suggested Further Reading: John 18:33-40

Satan took him to the brow of a hill, and offered him all the kingdoms of this world—a mightier dominion even than Caesar had—if he would bow down and worship him. That temptation was substantially repeated in Christ’s life a thousand times. You remember one practical instance as a specimen of the whole. “They would have taken him by force and would have made him a king.” And if he had but pleased to accept that offer, on the day when he rode into Jerusalem upon a colt, the foal of an ass, when all cried “Hosanna!” when the palm branches were waving, he had needed to have done nothing but just to have gone into the temple, to have commanded with authority the priest to pour the sacred oil publicly upon his head, and he would have been king of the Jews. Not with the mock title which he wore upon the cross, but with a real dignity he might have been monarch of nations. As for the Romans, his omnipotence could have swept away the intruders. He could have lifted up Judaea into a glory as great as the golden days of Solomon: he might have built Palmyras and Tadmors in the desert: he might have stormed Egypt and have taken Rome. There was no empire that could have resisted him. With a band of zealots such as that nation could have furnished, and with such a leader capable of working miracles walking at the head, the star of Judaea might have risen with resplendent light, and a visible kingdom might have come, and his will might have been done on earth, from the river unto the ends of the earth. But he came not to establish a carnal kingdom upon earth, else would his followers fight: he came to wear the thorn-crown, to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows.

For meditation: Of what profit would it have been to any man, if Christ had gained the whole world and lost all our souls?

Sermon no. 302
5 March (Preached 4 March 1860)

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The Great Physician and his patients

‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.’ Matthew 9:12

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 2:8–10

‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ That is the gospel—‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned;’ so that those who are bidden to believe are evidently those who deserve to be damned. Need alone quickens the physician’s footsteps, bringing Jesus from the throne of glory to the cross, and in his spiritual power, bringing him every day from the throne of his Father down to broken-hearted heavy-laden souls. Now, this is very plain talking, but still the most of people do not understand it. A minister, when he had done preaching in a country village, said to a farm-labourer who had been listening to him, ‘Do you think Jesus Christ died to save good people, or bad people?’ ‘Well, sir,’ said the man, ‘I should say he died to save good people.’ ‘But did he die to save bad people?’ ‘No sir; no, certainly not, sir.’ ‘Well, then, what will become of you and me?’ ‘Well, sir, I do not know. I dare say you be pretty good, sir; and I try to be as good as I can.’ That is just the common doctrine; and after all, though we think it has died out among us, that is the religion of ninety-nine English people out of every hundred who know nothing of divine grace—we are to be as good as we can; we are to go to church or to chapel, and do all that we can, and then Jesus Christ died for us, and we shall be saved. Whereas the gospel is, that he did not do anything at all for people who think they can rely on themselves, but gave himself for lost and ruined ones. He did not come into the world to save self-righteous people; on their own showing, they do not want to be saved.

For meditation: Respectability and being religious are among Satan’s most effective weapons to blind men and women to their true sinful condition and to their need of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only one who can save them (2 Corinthians 4:4). Is Satan successfully pulling the wool over your eyes?

Sermon no. 618
5 March (1865)

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NIV Devotions for Moms

There’s No Place Like Home

Jeremiah 50:6-7

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 32:7; Psalm 84:1-4

The couch doesn't match the drapes. The master bedroom is furnished with a jumble of antiques and garage-sale finds. The dishes, chipped and tired, were passed down from Grandma. Out front, a collection of trikes and bikes sprawl across a patch of grass. Below the front door lies a cheery mat reading in embellished cursive, "WELCOME." And that's just how we feel inside this well-worn house. It might seem strange to some passersby. But it makes sense to us. Here is peace and safety because here is home and there's no place like it.

Do you have such a haven? Jeremiah talks about God as being our resting place, our pasture. In his presence, we find the safety and peace we long for. Whether in a palatial, well-coordinated home or in a humble bungalow, we can find the home of our dreams when we find it in God. When we find rest in the presence of God, we know for certain that there's no place like home.

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Never Alone

Psalm 13:1-6

At age 46 Peter Marshall, chaplain of the United States Senate, died of a heart attack. Soon after he died, his wife, Catherine Marshall, stood beside his body. Later she wrote how the presence of God comforted her:

"As I opened the door," she wrote, "there was the instantaneous awareness that I was not alone. Yet the man I loved was not in the still form on the bed. I knew that Peter was near and alive. And beside him was another presence of transcendent glory, the Lord he had served through long years." God stood beside Catherine to comfort her in her deepest grief.

In this psalm, the writer found himself feeling so alone, so seemingly abandoned by God, that he was plunged into a deep depression and despair that took him to the edge of death. He was wrestling with his thoughts. His sorrow was overwhelming.

Perhaps you can relate to such feelings. Perhaps you know what it's like when your thoughts are whirling around in aching confusion. You may know what it's like to plead with God for light, for peace, for an alternative to the spiritual death you think is imminent.

Then comes the "but." The psalmist, even as he was suffering terribly, stopped himself with that little word. David chose to trust in God's goodness even when his heart was failing and grieving. Because he knew God, he chose to trust in God's unfailing love and rejoice even in the midst of sorrow.

Did you get that? He said, "But . . . I will" (verses 5-6). The psalmist made a choice. He made a conscious decision to trust in God's love even when the dark clouds of terror and depression hid God's face.

David knew this as a fact. And you can know it too: You are never alone. God is always nearby . . . even when you can't see his face or feel his presence. When you feel alone, call out to him. No matter how you feel, the fact remains: He is here. He is everywhere. And he hears your cries.

Reflection

  1. Have you experienced a time when you couldn't feel God's presence? When?
  2. How did you respond? What did you do?
  3. Based on your understanding of Psalm 13, what will you do next time you find yourself feeling this way?

Psalm 13:5-6
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

Related Readings

Deuteronomy 31:1-6; Isaiah 54:1-17; Lamentations 3:31-33

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Day 13

From the start, Jesus appeared to be a different kind of rabbi. He seemed to disregard the many customary laws that defined proper behavior for Jewish people. He put people before laws. His “new way” was forgiving and kind. Jesus didn’t come off as a rabble-rouser but as a friend to people on the outside, people suspected of not being pure, people most religious leaders disliked.

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

The Jews were convinced that when the long-awaited Messiah came, he would free the people from political oppression. He would liberate them from the power of the Roman Empire. They were looking for an earthly king to bring their nation into power. But Jesus’ purpose was much deeper, his intentions more significant, and his kingship infinitely more glorious than what the people were expecting. They had to learn the true meaning of the word “Messiah”—Anointed One. They had to discover who Jesus really was. Only then would they have his okay to spread the Good News.

Why did so many people have a deep hatred for Jesus?

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Today's Prayer

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. Do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior. --Psalm 38:1,2,4,21,22

Today's Scripture Reading: Genesis 22:1-14

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!"

"Here I am," he replied.

2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love--Isaac--and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you."

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"

"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.

"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

"Here I am," he replied.

12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

Today's Quote

"[Jesus] died not as a martyr but as the representative of a sinful race. Although God loved him infinitely, still, as the representatives of a sinful race, in his displeasure he poured down upon him the vials of his indignation. The death of Christ was intended to make an impression upon the universe, and all the circumstances attending it show what a wonderful effect it had. When he was nailed to the cross the sun refused to look on, and the heavens were clothed with sackcloth; the whole universe seemed shaking to its foundations. Heathen philosophers observed it, and said, Either nature is being dissolved, or the god of nature is dying . The dead could not sleep in their graves, the earth trembled, and the tombs opened, and those who had been dead issued forth, and walked into the city. The veil of the temple was rent in twain. God made a mighty impression upon the entire universe, when, in order that sinners might be pardoned, he thus made a fearful demonstration of his hatred against sin." -- Charles Finney, 19th century revival preacher, in his sermon "Christ the Mediator"

Something to Think About

Was it "fair" or "just" for Jesus to die for our sins? How does Jesus' death and resurrection change your relationship to God's law?
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Today's Lent reading: Matthew 25-26 (NIV)

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

1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 26

The Plot Against Jesus

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

The Last Supper

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Peter Disowns Jesus

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.



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