Read the Bible in a Year

Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year. This is part of The Colossians 13:16 Project, sponsored by Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia. You're invited to worship with us Sundays, at 11:00 a.m. or Saturdays, at 6:30 p.m. You may also want to consider joining one our adult Bible Studies: Thursdays at 12:00 noon and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We also have a full range of programs for children. If you want more information about the church, check out the other blogs. And please feel free to leave any comments.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bible Readings for March 31, 2011

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 16:1–17:20; Luke 9:7-27; Psalm 72:1-20; and Proverbs 12:8-9. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 16-17:20 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 16

(Exodus 12.1-20; Leviticus 23.4-8)

1People of Israel, you must celebrate Passover in the month of Abib, a] because one night in that month years ago, the LORD your God rescued you from Egypt. 2The Passover sacrifice must be a cow, a sheep, or a goat, and you must offer it at the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. 3-4Eat all of the meat of the Passover sacrifice that same night. But don't serve bread made with yeast at the Passover meal. Serve the same kind of thin bread that you ate when you were slaves suffering in Egypt b] and when you had to leave Egypt quickly. As long as you live, this thin bread will remind you of the day you left Egypt. For seven days following Passover, c] don't make any bread with yeast. In fact, there should be no yeast anywhere in Israel. 5Don't offer the Passover sacrifice in just any town where you happen to live. 6It must be offered at the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. Kill the sacrifice at sunset, the time of day when you left Egypt. d] 7Then cook it and eat it there at the place of worship, returning to your tents the next morning. 8Eat thin bread for the next six days. Then on the seventh day, don't do any work. Instead, come together and worship the LORD.

Moses said to Israel:

The Harvest Festival
(Exodus 34.22; Leviticus 23.15-21)

9Seven weeks after you start your grain harvest, 10-11go to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped and celebrate the Harvest Festival e] in honor of the LORD your God. Bring him an offering as large as you can afford, depending on how big a harvest he has given you. Be sure to take along your sons and daughters and all your servants. Also invite the poor, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. 12Remember that you used to be slaves in Egypt, so obey these laws. Moses said to Israel:

The Festival of Shelters
(Leviticus 23.33-43; Numbers 29.12-38)

13-15After you have finished the grain harvest and the grape harvest, f] take your sons and daughters and all your servants to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. Celebrate the Festival of Shelters for seven days. Also invite the poor, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. The LORD will give you big harvests and make you successful in everything you do. You will be completely happy, so celebrate this festival in honor of the LORD your God.

Moses said:

Three Festivals at the Place of Worship
(Exodus 23.14-17)

16Each year there are three festivals when all Israelite men must go to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. These are the Festival of Thin Bread, the Harvest Festival, g] and the Festival of Shelters. And don't forget to take along a gift for the LORD. 17The bigger the harvest the LORD gives you, the bigger your gift should be.

Treat Everyone with Justice

Moses said to Israel:

18-19After you are settled in the towns that you will receive from the LORD your God, the people in each town must appoint judges and other officers. Those of you that become judges must be completely fair when you make legal decisions, even if someone important is involved. Don't take bribes to give unfair decisions. Bribes keep people who are wise from seeing the truth and turn honest people into liars. h] 20People of Israel, if you want to enjoy a long and successful life, make sure that everyone is treated with justice in the land the LORD is giving you.

Don't Set Up Sacred Poles or Stones

Moses said to Israel:

21When you build the altar for offering sacrifices to the LORD your God, don't set up a sacred pole i] for the worship of the goddess Asherah. 22And don't set up a sacred stone! The LORD hates these things.

Deuteronomy 17

Sacrifices That Have Something Wrong with Them

Moses said to Israel:

1If an ox or a sheep has something wrong with it, don't offer it as a sacrifice to the LORD your God--he will be disgusted!

Put To Death People Who Worship Idols

Moses said to Israel:

2-3The LORD your God is giving you towns to live in. But later, a man or a woman in your town may start worshiping other gods, or even the sun, moon, or stars. j] I have warned you not to worship other gods, because whoever worships them is disobeying the LORD and breaking the agreement he made with you. 4So when you hear that someone in your town is committing this disgusting sin, you must carefully find out if that person really is guilty. 5-7But you will need two or three witnesses--one witness isn't enough to prove a person guilty. Get rid of those who are guilty of such evil. Take them outside your town gates and have everyone stone them to death. But the witnesses must be the first to throw stones.

Difficult Cases

Moses said to Israel:

8-12It may be difficult to find out the truth in some legal cases in your town. You may not be able to decide if someone was killed accidentally or murdered. Or you may not be able to tell whether an injury or some property damage was done by accident or on purpose. If the case is too difficult, take it to the court at the place where the LORD your God chooses to be worshiped.

This court will be made up of one judge and several priests k] who serve at the LORD's altar. They will explain the law to you and give you their decision about the case. Do exactly what they tell you, or you will be put to death. 13When other Israelites hear about it, they will be afraid and obey the decisions of the court.

The King

Moses said:

14People of Israel, after you capture the land the LORD your God is giving you, and after you settle on it, you will say, " We want a king, just like the nations around us."

15Go ahead and appoint a king, but make sure that he is an Israelite and that he is the one the LORD has chosen.
16The king should not have many horses, especially those from Egypt. The LORD has said never to go back there again. 17And the king must not have a lot of wives--they might tempt him to be unfaithful to the LORD. l] Finally, the king must not try to get huge amounts of silver and gold. 18The official copy of God's laws m] will be kept by the priests of the Levi tribe. So, as soon as anyone becomes king, he must go to the priests and write out a copy of these laws while they watch. 19Each day the king must read and obey these laws, so that he will learn to worship the LORD with fear and trembling 20and not think that he's better than everyone else. If the king completely obeys the LORD's commands, he and his descendants will rule Israel for many years.

Moses said to Israel:

Deuteronomy 16:1 in the month of Abib: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April. Passover was celebrated on the evening of the fourteenth of Abib (see Exodus 12.6; Leviticus 23.4,5).
Deuteronomy 16:3 the same kind. . . in Egypt: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Deuteronomy 16:3 seven days following Passover: This period was called the Festival of Thin Bread (see also verse 16).
Deuteronomy 16:6 sunset, the time of day when you left Egypt: Or " sunset on the same date as when you left Egypt."
Deuteronomy 16:10 Harvest Festival: Traditionally called the " Festival of Weeks," and known in New Testament times as " Pentecost."
Deuteronomy 16:13 After you. . . harvest: Leviticus 23.34 gives the exact date as the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which would be early in October.
Deuteronomy 16:16 Harvest Festival: See the note at 16.10,11.
Deuteronomy 16:18 turn. . . liars: Or " keep innocent people from getting justice."
Deuteronomy 16:21 sacred pole: See the note at 12.3.
Deuteronomy 17:2 sun, moon, or stars: Some people thought these were gods and worshiped them.
Deuteronomy 17:8 several priests: The Hebrew text has " the priests, the Levites" ; priests belonged to the Levi tribe.
Deuteronomy 17:17 a lot of wives. . . unfaithful to the LORD: A king would often marry the daughter of another king that he was making a treaty with. These foreign women would naturally want to worship their own gods, and would want their husband the king to do so as well.
Deuteronomy 17:18 God's laws: Or " God's laws for the king."

Luke 9:7-27 (Contemporary English Version)

Herod Is Worried
(Matthew 14.1-12; Mark 6.14-29)

7Herod a] the ruler heard about all that was happening, and he was worried. Some people were saying that John the Baptist had come back to life. 8Others were saying that Elijah had come b] or that one of the prophets from long ago had come back to life. 9But Herod said, "I had John's head cut off! Who is this I hear so much about?" Herod was eager to meet Jesus.

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
(Matthew 14.13-21; Mark 6.30-44; John 6.1-14)

10The apostles came back and told Jesus everything they had done. He then took them with him to the village of Bethsaida, where they could be alone. 11But a lot of people found out about this and followed him. Jesus welcomed them. He spoke to them about God's kingdom and healed everyone who was sick.

12Late in the afternoon the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, "Send the crowd to the villages and farms around here. They need to find a place to stay and something to eat. There is nothing in this place. It is like a desert!"

13Jesus answered, "You give them something to eat."

But they replied, "We have only five small loaves of bread c] and two fish. If we are going to feed all these people, we will have to go and buy food." 14There were about five thousand men in the crowd. Jesus said to his disciples, "Have the people sit in groups of fifty." 15They did this, and all the people sat down. 16Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and fish and handed them to his disciples to give to the people.

17Everyone ate all they wanted. What was left over filled twelve baskets.

Who Is Jesus?
(Matthew 16.13-19; Mark 8.27-29)

18When Jesus was alone praying, his disciples came to him, and he asked them, "What do people say about me?"

19They answered, "Some say that you are John the Baptist or Elijah d] or a prophet from long ago who has come back to life." 20Jesus then asked them, "But who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Messiah sent from God."

21Jesus strictly warned his disciples not to tell anyone about this.

Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death
(Matthew 16.20-28; Mark 8.30--9.1)

22Jesus told his disciples, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. They will reject him and kill him, but three days later he will rise to life."

23Then Jesus said to all the people:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me. 24If you want to save your life, e] you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will save it. 25What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself or waste your life? 26If you are ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of his Father and the holy angels. 27You can be sure that some of the people standing here will not die before they see God's kingdom.

Luke 9:7 Herod: Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.
Luke 9:8 Elijah had come: Many of the Jewish people expected the prophet Elijah to come and prepare the way for the Messiah.
Luke 9:13 small loaves of bread: These would have been flat and round or in the shape of a bun.
Luke 9:19 Elijah: See the note at 9.8.
Luke 9:24 life: In verses 24,25 a Greek word which often means " soul" is translated " life" and " yourself."

Psalm 72:1-20 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 72
(By Solomon.)

A Prayer for God To Guide and Help the King

1Please help the king
to be honest and fair
just like you, our God.

2Let him be honest and fair
with all your people,
especially the poor.

3Let peace and justice rule
every mountain and hill.

4Let the king defend the poor,
rescue the homeless,
and crush
everyone who hurts them.

5Let the king live a]
forever like the sun and the moon.

6Let him be as helpful as rain
that refreshes the meadows
and the ground.

7Let the king be fair
with everyone,
and let there be peace
until the moon
falls from the sky.

8Let his kingdom reach
from sea to sea,
from the Euphrates River
across all the earth.

9Force the desert tribes
to accept his rule,
and make his enemies
crawl in the dirt.

10Force the rulers of Tarshish b]
and of the islands
to pay taxes to him.

Make the kings of Sheba
and of Seba c] bring gifts.

11Make other rulers bow down
and all nations serve him.

12Do this because the king
rescues the homeless
when they cry out,
and he helps everyone
who is poor and in need.

13The king has pity
on the weak and the helpless
and protects those in need.

14He cares when they hurt,
and he saves them from cruel
and violent deaths.

15Long live the king!

Give him gold from Sheba.

Always pray for the king
and praise him each day.

16Let cities overflow with food
and hills be covered with grain,
just like Mount Lebanon.

Let the people in the cities
prosper like wild flowers.

17May the glory of the king
shine brightly forever
like the sun in the sky.

Let him make nations prosper
and learn to praise him.

18LORD God of Israel,
we praise you.

Only you can work miracles.

19We will always praise
your glorious name.

Let your glory be seen
everywhere on earth.

Amen and amen.

20This ends the prayers
of David, the son of Jesse.

Psalm 72:5 Let the king live: One ancient translation; Hebrew " Let them worship you."
Psalm 72:10 Tarshish: Possibly a city in Spain.
Psalm 72:10 Sheba. . . Seba: Sheba may have been a place in what is now southwest Arabia, and Seba may have been in southern Arabia.

Proverbs 12:8-9 (Contemporary English Version)

8Good sense is worthy of praise,
but stupidity is a curse.

9It's better to be ordinary
and have only one servant a]
than to think you are somebody
and starve to death.

Proverbs 12:9 It's. . . servant: Or " It is better just to have an ordinary job."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bible Readings for March 30, 2011

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 13:1–15:23; Luke 8:40–9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; and Proverbs 12:5-7. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 13-15:23 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 13

Don't Worship Other Gods

Moses said to Israel:
1-2Someday a prophet [a] may come along who is able to perform miracles or tell what will happen in the future. Then the prophet may say, " Let's start worshiping some new gods--some gods that we know nothing about." 3If the prophet says this, don't listen! The LORD your God will be watching to find out whether or not you love him with all your heart and soul. 4You must be completely faithful to the LORD. Worship and obey only the LORD and do this with fear and trembling, 5because he rescued you from slavery in Egypt. If a prophet tells you to disobey the LORD your God and to stop worshiping him, then that prophet is evil and must be put to death.

6-10Someone else may say to you, " Let's worship other gods." That person may be your best friend, your brother or sister, your son or daughter, or your own dear wife or husband. But you must not listen to people who say such things. Instead, you must stone them to death. You must be the first to throw the stones, then others from the community will finish the job. Don't show any pity.

The gods worshiped by other nations have never done anything for you or your ancestors. People who ask you to worship other gods are trying to get you to stop worshiping the LORD, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. So put to death anyone who asks you to worship another god. 11And when the rest of Israel hears about it, they will be afraid, and no one else will ever do such an evil thing again.

12After the LORD your God gives you towns to live in, you may hear a rumor about one of the towns. 13You may hear that some worthless people have talked everyone there into worshiping other gods, even though these gods had never done anything for them. 14You must carefully find out if the rumor is true. Then if the people of that town have actually done such a disgusting thing in your own country, 15you must take your swords and kill every one of them, and their livestock too. 16-17Gather all the possessions of the people who lived there, and pile them up in the marketplace, without keeping anything for yourself. Set the pile and the whole town on fire, and don't ever rebuild the town. The whole town will be a sacrifice to the LORD your God. Then he won't be angry anymore, and he will have mercy on you and make you successful, just as he promised your ancestors. 18That's why you must do what the LORD your God says is right. I am giving you his laws and teachings today, and you must obey them.

Deuteronomy 14

Don't Mourn like Other Nations

Moses said:
1People of Israel, you are the LORD's children, so when you mourn for the dead, you must not cut yourselves or shave your forehead. [b] 2Out of all the nations on this earth, the LORD your God chose you to be his own. You belong to the LORD, so don't behave like those who worship other gods.

Animals That Can Be Eaten
(Leviticus 11.1-47)

3Don't eat any disgusting animals.

4-5You may eat the meat of cattle, sheep, and goats; wild sheep and goats; and gazelles, antelopes, and all kinds of deer. 6It is all right to eat meat from any animals that have divided hoofs and also chew the cud. [c] 7But don't eat camels, rabbits, and rock badgers. These animals chew the cud but do not have divided hoofs. You must treat them as unclean. 8And don't eat pork, since pigs have divided hoofs, but they do not chew their cud. Don't even touch a dead pig!

9You can eat any fish that has fins and scales. But there are other creatures that live in the water, 10and if they do not have fins and scales, you must not eat them. Treat them as unclean.

11You can eat any clean bird. 12-18But don't eat the meat of any of the following birds: eagles, vultures, falcons, kites, ravens, ostriches, owls, sea gulls, hawks, pelicans, ospreys, cormorants, storks, herons, and hoopoes. [d] You must not eat bats. 19Swarming insects are unclean, so don't eat them. 20However, you are allowed to eat certain kinds of winged insects. [e] 21You belong to the LORD your God, so if you happen to find a dead animal, don't eat its meat. You may give it to foreigners who live in your town or sell it to foreigners who are visiting your town.

Don't boil a young goat in its mother's milk.

Give the LORD Ten Percent of Your Harvest

Moses said:
22People of Israel, every year you must set aside ten percent of your grain harvest. 23Also set aside ten percent of your wine and olive oil, and the first-born of every cow, sheep, and goat. Take these to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped, and eat them there. This will teach you to always respect the LORD your God.

24But suppose you can't carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. If you live too far away, or if the LORD gives you a big harvest, 25then sell this part and take the money there instead. 26When you and your family arrive, spend the money on food for a big celebration. Buy cattle, sheep, goats, wine, beer, and if there are any other kinds of food that you want, buy those too. 27And since people of the Levi tribe won't own any land for growing crops, remember to ask the Levites to celebrate with you.

28Every third year, instead of using the ten percent of your harvest for a big celebration, bring it into town and put it in a community storehouse. 29The Levites have no land of their own, so you must give them food from the storehouse. You must also give food to the poor who live in your town, including orphans, widows, and foreigners. If they have enough to eat, then the LORD your God will be pleased and make you successful in everything you do.

Moses said:

Deuteronomy 15

(Leviticus 25.1-7)

1-2Every seven years you must announce, " The LORD says loans do not need to be paid back." Then if you have loaned money to another Israelite, you can no longer ask for payment. [f] 3This law applies only to loans you have made to other Israelites. Foreigners will still have to pay back what you have loaned them. 4-6No one in Israel should ever be poor. The LORD your God is giving you this land, and he has promised to make you very successful, if you obey his laws and teachings that I'm giving you today. You will lend money to many nations, but you won't have to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they won't rule you.

7After the LORD your God gives land to each of you, there may be poor Israelites in the town where you live. If there are, then don't be mean and selfish with your money. 8Instead, be kind and lend them what they need. 9Be careful! Don't say to yourself, " Soon it will be the seventh year, and then I won't be able to get my money back." It would be horrible for you to think that way and to be so selfish that you refuse to help the poor. They are your relatives, and if you don't help them, they may ask the LORD to decide whether you have done wrong. And he will say that you are guilty. 10You should be happy to give the poor what they need, because then the LORD will make you successful in everything you do.

11There will always be some Israelites who are poor and needy. That's why I am commanding you to be generous with them.

Moses said to Israel:

Setting Slaves Free
(Exodus 21.1-11)

12If any of you buy Israelites as slaves, you must set them free after six years. 13And don't just tell them they are free to leave-- 14give them sheep and goats and a good supply of grain and wine. The more the LORD has given you, the more you should give them. 15I am commanding you to obey the LORD as a reminder that you were slaves in Egypt before he set you free. 16But one of your slaves may say, " I love you and your family, and I would be better off staying with you, so please don't make me leave." 17Take the slave to the door of your house and push a sharp metal rod through one earlobe and into the door. Such slaves will belong to you for life, whether they are men or women.

18Don't complain when you have to set a slave free. After all, you got six years of service at half the cost of hiring someone to do the work. [g] Moses said to Israel:

First-Born Animals
(Leviticus 27.26,27; Numbers 18.15-18)

19If the first-born animal of a cow or sheep or goat is a male, it must be given to the LORD. Don't put first-born cattle to work or cut wool from first-born sheep. 20Instead, each year you must take the first-born of these animals to the place where the LORD your God chooses to be worshiped. You and your family will sacrifice them to the LORD and then eat them as part of a sacred meal.

21But if the animal is lame or blind or has something else wrong with it, you must not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. 22You can butcher it where you live, and eat it just like the meat of a deer or gazelle that you kill while hunting. Even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some. 23But you must never eat the blood of an animal--let it drain out on the ground.

Moses said:

Deuteronomy 13:1 a prophet: Hebrew adds " or a dreamer of dreams," another name for a prophet.
Deuteronomy 14:1 when you mourn. . . forehead: Or " you must not worship Baal, cutting yourselves and shaving your forehead."
Deuteronomy 14:6 chew the cud: Some animals that eat grass and leaves have more than one stomach, and they chew their food a second time, after it has been partly digested in the first stomach. This partly digested food is called " cud."
Deuteronomy 14:12 eagles. . . hoopoes: Some of the birds in this list are difficult to identify.
Deuteronomy 14:20 certain kinds of winged insects: These were locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers; see Leviticus 11.21,22.
Deuteronomy 15:1 The LORD says. . . no longer ask for payment: Or "The LORD says loans do not need to be paid back this year. Then if you have loaned money to another Israelite, you cannot ask for payment until the next year."
Deuteronomy 15:18 six years. . . work: Or " six years of service, and it cost you no more than if you had hired someone to do the work" ; or " six years of service, for what you would have had to pay a worker for two years."

Luke 8:40-9:6 (Contemporary English Version)

A Dying Girl and a Sick Woman
(Matthew 9.18-26; Mark 5.21-43)

40Everyone had been waiting for Jesus, and when he came back, a crowd was there to welcome him. 41Just then the man in charge of the Jewish meeting place came and knelt down in front of Jesus. His name was Jairus, and he begged Jesus to come to his home 42because his twelve-year-old child was dying. She was his only daughter.

While Jesus was on his way, people were crowding all around him. 43In the crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent everything she had on doctors, [a] but none of them could make her well. 44As soon as she came up behind Jesus and barely touched his clothes, her bleeding stopped.

45"Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

While everyone was denying it, Peter said, "Master, people are crowding all around and pushing you from every side." [b] 46But Jesus answered, "Someone touched me, because I felt power going out from me." 47The woman knew that she could not hide, so she came trembling and knelt down in front of Jesus. She told everyone why she had touched him and that she had been healed right away.

48Jesus said to the woman, "You are now well because of your faith. May God give you peace!"

49While Jesus was speaking, someone came from Jairus' home and said, "Your daughter has died! Why bother the teacher anymore?"

50When Jesus heard this, he told Jairus, "Don't worry! Have faith, and your daughter will get well."

51Jesus went into the house, but he did not let anyone else go with him, except Peter, John, James, and the girl's father and mother. 52Everyone was crying and weeping for the girl. But Jesus said, "The child isn't dead. She is just asleep." 53The people laughed at him because they knew she was dead.

54Jesus took hold of the girl's hand and said, "Child, get up!" 55She came back to life and got right up. Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were surprised, but Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Luke 9

Instructions for the Twelve Apostles
(Matthew 10.5-15; Mark 6.7-13)

1Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them complete power over all demons and diseases. 2Then he sent them to tell about God's kingdom and to heal the sick. 3He told them, "Don't take anything with you! Don't take a walking stick or a traveling bag or food or money or even a change of clothes. 4When you are welcomed into a home, stay there until you leave that town. 5If people won't welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet [c] as a warning to them." 6The apostles left and went from village to village, telling the good news and healing people everywhere.

Luke 8:43 She had spent everything she had on doctors: Some manuscripts do not have these words.
Luke 8:45 from every side: Some manuscripts add " and you ask, `Who touched me?' "
Luke 9:5 shake the dust from your feet: This was a way of showing rejection.

Psalm 71:1-24 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 71

A Prayer for God's Protection

1I run to you, LORD,
for protection.

Don't disappoint me.

2You do what is right,
so come to my rescue.

Listen to my prayer
and keep me safe.

3Be my mighty rock, [a]
the place
where I can always run
for protection.

Save me by your command!

You are my mighty rock
and my fortress.

4Come and save me, LORD God,
from vicious and cruel
and brutal enemies!

5I depend on you,
and I have trusted you
since I was young.

6I have relied on you [b]
from the day I was born.

You brought me safely
through birth,
and I always praise you.

7Many people think of me
as something evil.

But you are my mighty protector,
8and I praise and honor you
all day long.

9Don't throw me aside
when I am old;
don't desert me
when my strength is gone.

10My enemies are plotting
because they want me dead.

11They say, "Now we'll catch you!

God has deserted you,
and no one can save you."

12Come closer, God!

Please hurry and help.

13Embarrass and destroy
all who want me dead;
disgrace and confuse
all who want to hurt me.

14I will never give up hope
or stop praising you.

15All day long I will tell
the wonderful things you do
to save your people.

But you have done much more
than I could possibly know.

16I will praise you, LORD God,
for your mighty deeds
and your power to save.

17You have taught me
since I was a child,
and I never stop telling about
your marvelous deeds.

18Don't leave me when I am old
and my hair turns gray.

Let me tell future generations
about your mighty power.

19Your deeds of kindness
are known in the heavens.

No one is like you!

20You made me suffer a lot,
but you will bring me
back from this deep pit
and give me new life.

21You will make me truly great
and take my sorrow away.

22I will praise you, God,
the Holy One of Israel.

You are faithful.

I will play the harp
and sing your praises.

23You have rescued me!

I will celebrate and shout,
singing praises to you
with all my heart.

24All day long I will announce
your power to save.

I will tell how you disgraced
and disappointed
those who wanted to hurt me.

Psalm 71:3 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
Psalm 71:6 I. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 12:5-7 (Contemporary English Version)

5Good people have kind thoughts,
but you should never trust
the advice of someone evil.

6Bad advice is a deadly trap,
but good advice
is like a shield.

7Once the wicked are defeated,
they are gone forever,
but no one who obeys God
will ever be thrown down.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bible Readings for March 29, 2011

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 11:1–12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 12:4. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 11-12:32 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 11

If You Are Loyal to the LORD, He Will Bless You

Moses said to Israel:
1The LORD is your God, so you must always love him and obey his laws and teachings. 2Remember, he corrected you and not your children. You are the ones who saw the LORD use his great power 3when he worked miracles in Egypt, making terrible things happen to the king and all his people. 4And when the Egyptian army chased you in their chariots, you saw the LORD drown them and their horses in the Red Sea. [a] Egypt still suffers from that defeat! 5You saw what the LORD did for you while you were in the desert, right up to the time you arrived here. 6And you saw how the LORD made the ground open up in the middle of our camp underneath the tents of Dathan and Abiram, [b] who were swallowed up along with their families, their animals, and their tents. 7With your own eyes, you saw the LORD's mighty power do all these things.

8Soon you will cross the Jordan River, and if you obey the laws and teachings I'm giving you today, you will be strong enough to conquer the land 9that the LORD promised your ancestors and their descendants. It's rich with milk and honey, and you will live there and enjoy it for a long time. 10It's better land than you had in Egypt, where you had to struggle just to water your crops. [c] 11But the hills and valleys in the promised land are watered by rain from heaven, [d] 12because the LORD your God keeps his eye on this land and takes care of it all year long. 13The LORD your God commands you to love him and to serve him with all your heart and soul. If you obey him, 14-15he will send rain at the right seasons, [e] so you will have more than enough food, wine, and olive oil, and there will be plenty of grass for your cattle. 16But watch out! You will be tempted to turn your backs on the LORD. And if you worship other gods, 17the LORD will become angry and keep the rain from falling. Nothing will grow in your fields, and you will die and disappear from the good land that the LORD is giving you.

18Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them. 19Teach them to your children. Talk about them all the time--whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. 20Write them on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates. 21Then you and your descendants will live a long time in the land that the LORD promised your ancestors. Your families will live there as long as the sky is above the earth.

22Love the LORD your God and obey all the laws and teachings that I'm giving you today. If you live the way the LORD wants, 23he will help you take the land. And even though the nations there are more powerful than you, the LORD will force them to leave when you attack. 24You will capture the land everywhere you go, from the Southern Desert to the Lebanon Mountains, and from the Euphrates River west to the Mediterranean Sea. 25No one will be able to stand up to you. The LORD will make everyone terrified of you, just as he promised.

26You have a choice--do you want the LORD to bless you, or do you want him to put a curse on you? 27Today I am giving you his laws, and if you obey him, he will bless you. 28But if you disobey him and worship those gods that have never done anything for you, the LORD will put a curse on you.

29After the LORD your God helps you take the land, you must have a ceremony where you announce his blessings from Mount Gerizim and his curses from Mount Ebal. 30You know that these two mountains are west of the Jordan River in land now controlled by the Canaanites living in the Jordan River valley. The mountains are west of the road near the sacred trees of Moreh on the other side of Gilgal.

31Soon you will cross the Jordan River to conquer the land that the LORD your God is giving you. And when you have settled there, 32be careful to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today.

Deuteronomy 12

Only One Place To Worship the LORD

Moses said to Israel:
1Now I'll tell you the laws and teachings that you have to obey as long as you live. Your ancestors worshiped the LORD, and he is giving you this land. 2But the nations that live there worship other gods. So after you capture the land, you must completely destroy their places of worship--on mountains and hills or in the shade of large trees. 3Wherever these nations worship their gods, you must tear down their altars, break their sacred stones, burn the sacred poles [f] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and smash their idols to pieces. Destroy these places of worship so completely that no one will remember they were ever there. 4Don't worship the LORD your God in the way those nations worship their gods. 5-19Soon you will cross the Jordan, and the LORD will help you conquer your enemies and let you live in peace, there in the land he has given you. But after you are settled, life will be different. You must not offer sacrifices just anywhere you want to. Instead, the LORD will choose a place somewhere in Israel where you must go to worship him. All of your sacrifices and offerings must be taken there, including sacrifices to please the LORD [g] and any gift you promise or voluntarily give him. That's where you must also take one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil, [h] as well as the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats. [i] You and your family and servants will eat your gifts and sacrifices [j] and celebrate there at the place of worship, because the LORD your God has made you successful in everything you have done. And since Levites will not have any land of their own, you must ask some of them to come along and celebrate with you. Sometimes you may want to kill an animal for food and not as a sacrifice. If the LORD has blessed you and given you enough cows or sheep or goats, then you can butcher one of them where you live. You can eat it just like the meat from a deer or gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat. But you must not eat the blood of any animal--let the blood drain out on the ground.

20-21The LORD has promised that later on he will give Israel more land, and some of you may not be able to travel all the way from your homes to the place of worship each time you are hungry for meat. [k] But the LORD will give you cattle, sheep, and goats, and you can butcher any of those animals at home and eat as much as you want. 22It is the same as eating the meat from a deer or a gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And in this way, anyone who is unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat. [l] 23-24But don't eat the blood. It is the life of the animal, so let it drain out on the ground before you eat the meat. 25Do you want the LORD to make you successful? Do you want your children to be successful even after you are gone? Then do what pleases the LORD and don't eat blood.

26-27All sacrifices and offerings to the LORD must be taken to the place where he chooses to be worshiped. If you offer a sacrifice to please the LORD, all of its meat must be burned on the altar. You can eat the meat from certain kinds of sacrifices, but you must always pour out the animal's blood on the altar.

28If you obey these laws, you will be doing what the LORD your God says is right and good. Then he will help you and your descendants be successful.

Worship the LORD in the Right Way

Moses said:
29Israel, as you go into the land and attack the nations that are there, the LORD will get rid of them, and you can have their land.

30But that's when you must be especially careful not to ask, " How did those nations worship their gods? Shouldn't we worship the LORD in the same way?" 31No, you should not! The LORD hates the disgusting way those nations worship their gods, because they even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices.

32Obey all the laws and teachings I am giving you. Don't add any, and don't take any away.

Deuteronomy 11:4 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph " Sea of Reeds," one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.7--14.9, which lists towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 B.C., the " Sea of Reeds," was named " Red Sea."
Deuteronomy 11:6 Dathan and Abiram: Hebrew " Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab from the Reuben tribe."
Deuteronomy 11:10 where. . . crops: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Deuteronomy 11:11 to water your crops. . . rain from heaven: Egypt was flat and had very little rain. All water for crops had to come from the Nile River.
Deuteronomy 11:14 rain. . . seasons: In Palestine, almost all the rain for the year comes during the months from October through April.
Deuteronomy 12:3 sacred poles: Or " trees," used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
Deuteronomy 12:5 sacrifices to please the LORD: These sacrifices have traditionally been called " whole burnt offerings" because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the LORD with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are often called " sacrifices to please the LORD."
Deuteronomy 12:5 one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil: The Israelites had to give one tenth of their harvest of these products to the LORD each year (see 14.22-29; 26.12,13; Leviticus 27.30-33).
Deuteronomy 12:5 the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats: The Israelites had to sacrifice these to the LORD (see 15.19-22).
Deuteronomy 12:5 sacrifices: Some sacrifices were completely burned on the altar; in other sacrifices, part of the animal was burned and part was given to the priests, but most of the meat was eaten by the worshipers as a sacred meal.
Deuteronomy 12:20 meat: Usually eaten only on special occasions, such as during a sacred meal when sacrifices were offered to the LORD.
Deuteronomy 12:22 anyone. . . the meat: Only those who were properly prepared for worship, or " clean," could eat a sacred meal, but anyone could eat this kind of meat.

Luke 8:22-39 (Contemporary English Version)

A Storm
(Matthew 8.23-27; Mark 4.35-41)

22One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat, and he said, "Let's cross the lake." [a] They started out, 23and while they were sailing across, he went to sleep. Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake, and the boat started sinking. They were in danger. 24So they went to Jesus and woke him up, "Master, Master! We are about to drown!"

Jesus got up and ordered the wind and waves to stop. They obeyed, and everything was calm. 25Then Jesus asked the disciples, "Don't you have any faith?"

But they were frightened and amazed. They said to each other, "Who is this? He can give orders to the wind and the waves, and they obey him!"

A Man with Demons in Him
(Matthew 8.28-34; Mark 5.1-20)

26Jesus and his disciples sailed across Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. [b] 27As Jesus was getting out of the boat, he was met by a man from that town. The man had demons in him. He had gone naked for a long time and no longer lived in a house, but in the graveyard. [c] 28The man saw Jesus and screamed. He knelt down in front of him and shouted, "Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? I beg you not to torture me!" 29He said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to go out of him.

The man had often been attacked by the demon. And even though he had been bound with chains and leg irons and kept under guard, he smashed whatever bound him. Then the demon would force him out into lonely places.

30Jesus asked the man, "What is your name?"

He answered, "My name is Lots." He said this because there were `lots' of demons in him. 31They begged Jesus not to send them to the deep pit, [d] where they would be punished. 32A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. So the demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and Jesus let them go. 33Then the demons left the man and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34When the men taking care of the pigs saw this, they ran to spread the news in the town and on the farms. 35The people went out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they also found the man. The demons had gone out of him, and he was sitting there at the feet of Jesus. He had clothes on and was in his right mind. But the people were terrified.

36Then all who had seen the man healed told about it. 37Everyone from around Gerasa [e] begged Jesus to leave, because they were so frightened. When Jesus got into the boat to start back, 38the man who had been healed begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him off and said, 39"Go back home and tell everyone how much God has done for you." The man then went all over town, telling everything that Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:22 cross the lake: To the eastern shore of Lake Galilee, where most of the people were not Jewish.
Luke 8:26 Gerasa: Some manuscripts have " Gergesa."
Luke 8:27 graveyard: It was thought that demons and evil spirits lived in graveyards.
Luke 8:31 deep pit: The place where evil spirits are kept and punished.
Luke 8:37 Gerasa: See the note at 8.26.

Psalm 70:1-5 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 70
(By David for the music leader. To be used when an offering is made.)

God Is Wonderful

1Save me, LORD God!
Hurry and help.

2Disappoint and confuse
all who want to kill me.

Turn away and disgrace
all who want to hurt me.

3Embarrass and shame those
who say, "We told you so!"

4Let your worshipers celebrate
and be glad because of you.

They love your saving power,
so let them always say,
"God is wonderful!"

5I am poor and needy,
but you, the LORD God,
care about me.

You are the one who saves me.
Please hurry and help!

Proverbs 12:4 (Contemporary English Version)

4A helpful wife is a jewel
for her husband,
but a shameless wife
will make his bones rot.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bible Readings for March 28, 2011

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22; Luke 8:4-21; Psalm 69:19-36; and Proverbs 12:2-3. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 9-10:22 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 9

Why the LORD Will Help Israel

Moses said:
1Israel, listen to me! You will soon cross the Jordan River and go into the land to force out the nations that live there. They are more powerful than you are, and the walls around their cities reach to the sky. 2Some of these nations are descendants of the Anakim. a] You know how tall and strong they are, and you've heard that no one can defeat them in battle. 3But the LORD your God has promised to go ahead of you, like a raging fire burning everything in its path. So when you attack your enemies, it will be easy for you to destroy them and take their land. 4-6After the LORD helps you wipe out these nations and conquer their land, don't think he did it because you are such good people. You aren't good--you are stubborn! No, the LORD is going to help you, because the nations that live there are evil, and because he wants to keep the promise he made to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Moses said to Israel:

When Israel Made an Idol
(Exodus 32)

7Don't ever forget how you kept rebelling and making the LORD angry the whole time you were in the desert. You rebelled from the day you left Egypt until the day you arrived here.

8At Mount Sinai b] you made the LORD so angry that he was going to destroy you. 9-11It happened during those forty days and nights that I was on the mountain, without anything to eat or drink. He had told me to come up there so he could give me the agreement he made with us. And this agreement was actually the same Ten Commandments c] he had announced to you when he spoke from the fire on the mountain. The LORD had written them on two flat stones with his own hand. But after giving me the two stones, 12he said: Moses, hurry down the mountain to those people you led out of Egypt. They have already disobeyed me and committed the terrible sin of making an idol.

13I've been watching the Israelites, and I've seen how stubborn and rebellious they are. 14So don't try to stop me! I am going to wipe them out, and no one on earth will remember they ever lived. Then I will let your descendants become an even bigger and more powerful nation than Israel.

Moses said:
15Fire was raging on the mountaintop as I went back down, carrying the two stones with the commandments on them. 16I saw how quickly you had sinned and disobeyed the LORD your God. There you were, worshiping the metal idol you had made in the shape of a calf. 17So I threw down the two stones and smashed them before your very eyes.

18-20I bowed down at the place of worship and prayed to the LORD, without eating or drinking for forty days and nights. You had committed a terrible sin by making that idol, and the LORD hated what you had done. He was angry enough to destroy all of you and Aaron as well. So I prayed for you and Aaron as I had done before, and this time the LORD answered my prayers. d] 21It was a sin for you to make that idol, so I threw it into the fire to melt it down. Then I took the lump of gold, ground it into powder, and threw the powder into the stream flowing down the mountain.

22You also made the LORD angry when you were staying at Taberah, e] at Massah, f] and at Kibroth-Hattaavah. g] 23Then at Kadesh-Barnea the LORD said, " I am giving you the land, so go ahead and take it!" But since you didn't trust the LORD, you rebelled and disobeyed his command. h] 24In fact, you've rebelled against the LORD for as long as he has i] known you. 25After you had made the idol in the shape of a calf, the LORD said he was going to destroy you. So I bowed down in front of the sacred tent for forty days and nights, 26and I prayed:

Our LORD, please don't wipe out your people. You used your great power to rescue them from Egypt and to make them your very own. 27Israel's ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob obeyed you faithfully. Think about them, and not about Israel's stubbornness, evil, and sin. 28If you destroy your people, the Egyptians will say, " The LORD promised to give Israel land, but he wasn't powerful enough to keep his promise. In fact, he hated them so much that he took them into the desert and killed them." 29But you, our LORD, chose the people of Israel to be your own, and with your mighty power you rescued them from Egypt.

Moses said to the people:

Deuteronomy 10

The Second Set of Commandments
(Exodus 34.1-10)

1The LORD told me to chisel out two flat stones, just like the ones he had given me earlier. He also commanded me to make a wooden chest, then come up the mountain and meet with him. 2He told me that he would write the same words on the new stones that he had written on the ones I broke, and that I could put these stones in this sacred chest.

3So I made a chest out of acacia wood, and I chiseled two flat stones like the ones I broke. Then I carried the stones up the mountain, 4where the LORD wrote the Ten Commandments on them, just as he had done the first time. The commandments were exactly what he had announced from the fire, when you were gathered at the mountain.

After the LORD returned the stones to me, 5I took them down the mountainside and put them in the chest, just as he had commanded. And they are still there.

Moses said to Israel:

Aaron Died
(Numbers 20.22-29)

6Later we set up camp at the wells belonging to the descendants of Jaakan. j] Then we moved on and camped at Moserah, where Aaron died and was buried, and his son Eleazar became the priest. 7Next, we camped at Gudgodah and then at Jotbathah, where there are flowing streams.

The Levites Were Appointed To Carry the Chest

Moses said to Israel:
8After I put the two stones in the sacred chest, k] the LORD chose the tribe of Levi, not only to carry the chest, but also to serve as his priests at the place of worship and to bless the other tribes in his name. And they still do these things. 9The LORD promised that he would always provide for the tribe of Levi, and that's why he won't give them any land, when he divides it among the other tribes. Moses said to Israel:

The LORD Answered the Prayers of Moses
(Exodus 34.9,10,27-29)

10When I had taken the second set of stones up the mountain, I spent forty days and nights there, just as I had done before. Once again, the LORD answered my prayer and did not destroy you. 11Instead, he told me, " Moses, get ready to lead the people into the land that I promised their ancestors." l]
What the LORD Wants

Moses said:
12People of Israel, what does the LORD your God want from you? The LORD wants you to respect and follow him, to love and serve him with all your heart and soul, 13and to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. Do this, and all will go well for you.
14Everything belongs to the LORD your God, not only the earth and everything on it, but also the sky and the highest heavens. 15Yet the LORD loved your ancestors and wanted them to belong to him. So he chose them and their descendants rather than any other nation, and today you are still his people.

16Remember your agreement with the LORD and stop being so stubborn. 17The LORD your God is more powerful than all other gods and lords, and his tremendous power is to be feared. His decisions are always fair, and you cannot bribe him to change his mind. 18The LORD defends the rights of orphans and widows. He cares for foreigners and gives them food and clothing. 19And you should also care for them, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

20Respect the LORD your God, serve only him, and make promises in his name alone. 21Offer your praises to him, because you have seen him work such terrifying miracles for you.

22When your ancestors went to live in Egypt, there were only seventy of them. But the LORD has blessed you, and now there are more of you than there are stars in the sky.

Deuteronomy 9:2 Anakim: See the note at 2.10,11.
Deuteronomy 9:8 Mount Sinai: See the note at 1.1-5.
Deuteronomy 9:9 Ten Commandments: Hebrew " commandments."
Deuteronomy 9:18 as I had done before. . . prayers: This may refer to Moses' praying for Israel before he came down from the mountain (see Exodus 32.11-14).
Deuteronomy 9:22 Taberah: See Numbers 11.1-3.
Deuteronomy 9:22 Massah: See the note at 6.16.
Deuteronomy 9:22 Kibroth-Hattaavah: See Numbers 11.31-34.
Deuteronomy 9:23 Kadesh-Barnea. . . you rebelled and disobeyed his command: See Numbers 13,14.
Deuteronomy 9:24 he has: The Samaritan Hebrew Text and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text " I have."
Deuteronomy 10:6 the wells. . . Jaakan: Or " Beeroth Bene-Jaakan."
Deuteronomy 10:8 After. . . chest: Or " After Israel reached Jotbathah."
Deuteronomy 10:11 lead. . . ancestors: The LORD would later tell Moses that he would not be allowed to enter the land (see 1.37; 3.23-28; Numbers 20.10-12).

Luke 8:4-21 (Contemporary English Version)

A Story about a Farmer
(Matthew 13.1-9; Mark 4.1-9)

4When a large crowd from several towns had gathered around Jesus, he told them this story:

5A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was doing it, some of the seeds fell along the road and were stepped on or eaten by birds. 6Other seeds fell on rocky ground and started growing. But the plants did not have enough water and soon dried up. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. 8The rest of the seeds fell on good ground where they grew and produced a hundred times as many seeds.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said, "If you have ears, pay attention!"

Why Jesus Used Stories
(Matthew 13.10-17; Mark 4.10-12)

9Jesus' disciples asked him what the story meant. 10So he answered:

I have explained the secrets about God's kingdom to you, but for others I can only use stories. These people look, but they don't see, and they hear, but they don't understand.

Jesus Explains the Story about a Farmer
(Matthew 13.18-23; Mark 4.13-20)

11This is what the story means: The seed is God's message, 12and the seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But the devil comes and snatches the message out of their hearts, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don't have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.

14The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they are so eager for riches and pleasures that they never produce anything. 15Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.

(Mark 4.21-25)

16No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl or under a bed. A lamp is always put on a lampstand, so that people who come into a house will see the light. 17There is nothing hidden that will not be found. There is no secret that will not be well known. 18Pay attention to how you listen! Everyone who has something will be given more, but people who have nothing will lose what little they think they have.

Jesus' Mother and Brothers
(Matthew 12.46-50; Mark 3.31-35)

19Jesus' mother and brothers went to see him, but because of the crowd they could not get near him. 20Someone told Jesus, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you."

21Jesus answered, "My mother and my brothers are those people who hear and obey God's message."

Psalm 69:19-36 (Contemporary English Version)

19You know how I am insulted,
mocked, and disgraced;
you know every one
of my enemies.

20I am crushed by insults,
and I feel sick.

I had hoped for mercy and pity,
but there was none.

21Enemies poisoned my food,
and when I was thirsty,
they gave me vinegar.

22Make their table a trap
for them and their friends.

23Blind them with darkness
and make them tremble.

24Show them how angry you are!
Be furious and catch them.

25Destroy their camp
and don't let anyone live
in their tents.

26They cause trouble for people
you have already punished;
their gossip hurts those
you have wounded.

27Make them guiltier than ever
and don't forgive them.

28Wipe their names from the book
of the living;
remove them from the list
of the innocent.

29I am mistreated and in pain.
Protect me, God,
and keep me safe!

30I will praise the LORD God
with a song
and a thankful heart.

31This will please the LORD
better than offering an ox
or a full-grown bull.

32When those in need see this,
they will be happy,
and the LORD's worshipers
will be encouraged.

33The LORD will listen
when the homeless cry out,
and he will never forget
his people in prison.

34Heaven and earth
will praise our God,
and so will the oceans
and everything in them.

35God will rescue Jerusalem,
and he will rebuild
the towns of Judah.

His people will live there
on their own land,
36and when the time comes,
their children will inherit
the land.

Then everyone who loves God
will also settle there.

Proverbs 12:2-3 (Contemporary English Version)

2The LORD likes everyone
who lives right,
but he punishes everyone
who makes evil plans.

3Sin cannot offer security!
But if you live right,
you will be as secure
as a tree with deep roots.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bible Readings for March 27, 2011

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 7:1–8:20; Luke 7:36–8:3; Psalm 69:1-18; and Proverbs 12:1. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 7-8:20 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 7

Force the Other Nations Out of the Land
(Exodus 34.11-16)

1People of Israel, the LORD your God will help you take the land of the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These seven nations have more people and are stronger than Israel, but when you attack them, 2the LORD will force them out of the land. Then you must destroy them without mercy. Don't make any peace treaties with them, 3and don't let your sons and daughters marry any of them. 4If you do, those people will lead your descendants to worship other gods and to turn their backs on the LORD. That will make him very angry, and he will quickly destroy Israel.

5So when you conquer these nations, tear down the altars where they worship their gods. Break up their sacred stones, cut down the poles that they use in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and throw their idols in the fire.

The LORD's Chosen People

Moses said:
6Israel, you are the chosen people of the LORD your God. There are many nations on this earth, but he chose only Israel to be his very own. 7You were the weakest of all nations, 8but the LORD chose you because he loves you and because he had made a promise to your ancestors. Then with his mighty arm, he rescued you from the king of Egypt, who had made you his slaves.

9You know that the LORD your God is the only true God. So love him and obey his commands, and he will faithfully keep his agreement with you and your descendants for a thousand generations. 10But if you turn against the LORD, he will quickly destroy you. 11So be sure to obey his laws and teachings I am giving you today.

Moses said to Israel:

The LORD Will Bless You if You Obey
(Deuteronomy 28.1-14; Leviticus 26.3-13)

12If you completely obey these laws, the LORD your God will be loyal and keep the agreement he made with you, just as he promised our ancestors. 13The LORD will love you and bless you by giving you many children and plenty of food, wine, and olive oil. Your herds of cattle will have many calves, and your flocks of sheep will have many lambs. 14God will bless you more than any other nation--your families will grow and your livestock increase. 15You will no longer suffer with the same horrible diseases that you sometimes had in Egypt. You will be healthy, but the LORD will make your enemies suffer from those diseases.

Destroy the Nations and Their Gods

Moses said to Israel:
16When the LORD helps you defeat your enemies, you must destroy them without pity! And don't get trapped into worshiping their gods.

17You may be thinking, " How can we destroy these nations? They are more powerful than we are." 18But stop worrying! Just remember what the LORD your God did to Egypt and its king. 19You saw how the LORD used his tremendous power to work great miracles and bring you out of Egypt. And he will again work miracles for you when you face these enemies you fear so much. 20Some of them may try to survive by hiding from you, but the LORD will make them panic, and soon they will be dead. [a] 21So don't be frightened when you meet them in battle. The LORD your God is great and fearsome, and he will fight at your side. 22As you attack these nations, the LORD will force them out little by little. He won't let you get rid of them all at once--if he did, there wouldn't be enough people living in the land to keep down the number of wild animals. 23-24But when you attack your enemies, the LORD will make them panic, and you will easily destroy them. You will defeat them one after another until they are gone, and no one will remember they ever lived.

25After you conquer a nation, burn their idols. Don't get trapped into wanting the silver or gold on an idol. Even the metal on an idol is disgusting to the LORD, 26so destroy it. If you bring it home with you, both you and your house will be destroyed. Stay away from those disgusting idols!

Deuteronomy 8

The LORD Takes Care of You

Moses said:
1Israel, do you want to go into the land the LORD promised your ancestors? Do you want to capture it, live there, and become a powerful nation? Then be sure to obey every command I am giving you.

2Don't forget how the LORD your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, 3so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, [b] a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was teaching you that people need more than food to live--they need every word that the LORD has spoken. 4Over the past forty years, your clothing hasn't worn out, and your feet haven't swollen. 5So keep in mind that the LORD has been correcting you, just as parents correct their children. 6Obey the commands the LORD your God has given you and worship him with fear and trembling.

7The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land with streams that flow from springs in the valleys and hills. 8-9You can dig for copper in those hills, and the stones are made of iron ore. And you won't go hungry. Wheat and barley fields are everywhere, and so are vineyards and orchards full of fig, pomegranate, [c] and olive trees, and there is plenty of honey.

Don't Forget the LORD

Moses said to Israel:
10After you eat and are full, give praise to the LORD your God for the good land he gave you. 11Make sure that you never forget the LORD or disobey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. If you always obey them, 12you will have plenty to eat, and you will build good houses to live in. 13You will get more and more cattle, sheep, silver, gold, and other possessions.

14But when all this happens, don't be proud! Don't forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and that it was the LORD who set you free. 15Remember how he led you in that huge and frightening desert where poisonous snakes and scorpions live. There was no water, but the LORD split open a rock, and water poured out so you could drink. 16He also gave you manna, [d] a kind of food your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was testing you to make you trust him, so that later on he could be good to you. 17When you become successful, don't say, " I'm rich, and I've earned it all myself." 18Instead, remember that the LORD your God gives you the strength to make a living. That's how he keeps the promise he made to your ancestors.

19-20But I'm warning you--if you forget the LORD your God and worship other gods, the LORD will destroy you, just as he destroyed the nations you fought.

Deuteronomy 7:20 make them. . . dead: Or " send hornets to kill them."
Deuteronomy 8:3 manna: See Exodus 16.1-36.
Deuteronomy 8:8 pomegranate: A bright red fruit that looks like an apple.
Deuteronomy 8:16 manna: See the note at 8.3.

Luke 7:36-8:3 (Contemporary English Version)

Simon the Pharisee

36A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee's home and got ready to eat. [a] 37When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. 38Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them.

39The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, "If this man really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner."

40Jesus said to the Pharisee, "Simon, I have something to say to you."

"Teacher, what is it?" Simon replied.

41Jesus told him, "Two people were in debt to a moneylender. One of them owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. 42Since neither of them could pay him back, the moneylender said that they didn't have to pay him anything. Which one of them will like him more?"

43Simon answered, "I suppose it would be the one who had owed more and didn't have to pay it back."

"You are right," Jesus said.

44He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn't give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You didn't even pour olive oil on my head, [b] but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. 47So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love." 48Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."

49Some other guests started saying to one another, "Who is this who dares to forgive sins?"

50But Jesus told the woman, "Because of your faith, you are now saved. [c] May God give you peace!"

Luke 8

Women Who Helped Jesus

1Soon after this, Jesus was going through towns and villages, telling the good news about God's kingdom. His twelve apostles were with him, 2and so were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and all sorts of diseases. One of the women was Mary Magdalene, [d] who once had seven demons in her. 3Joanna, Susanna, and many others had also used what they owned to help Jesus [e] and his disciples. Joanna's husband Chuza was one of Herod's officials. [f]

Luke 7:36 got ready to eat: On special occasions the Jewish people often followed the Greek and Roman custom of lying down on their left side and leaning on their left elbow, while eating with their right hand. This is how the woman could come up behind Jesus and wash his feet (see verse 38).
Luke 7:46 washed my feet. . . greet me with a kiss. . . pour olive oil on my head: Guests in a home were usually offered water so they could wash their feet, because most people either went barefoot or wore sandals and would come in the house with very dusty feet. Guests were also greeted with a kiss on the cheek, and special ones often had sweet-smelling olive oil poured on their head.
Luke 7:50 saved: Or " healed." The Greek word may have either meaning.
Luke 8:2 Magdalene: Meaning " from Magdala," a small town on the western shore of Lake Galilee. There is no hint that she is the sinful woman in 7.36-50.
Luke 8:3 used what they owned to help Jesus: Women often helped Jewish teachers by giving them money.
Luke 8:3 Herod's officials: Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.

Psalm 69:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 69
(By David for the music leader. To the tune "Lilies.")

God Can Be Trusted

1Save me, God!
I am about to drown.

2I am sinking deep in the mud,
and my feet are slipping.

I am about to be swept under
by a mighty flood.

3I am worn out from crying,
and my throat is dry.

I have waited for you
till my eyes are blurred.

4There are more people
who hate me for no reason
than there are hairs
on my head.

Many terrible enemies
want to destroy me, God.

Am I supposed to give back
something I didn't steal?

5You know my foolish sins.
Not one is hidden from you.

6LORD God All-Powerful,
ruler of Israel,
don't let me embarrass anyone
who trusts and worships you.

7It is for your sake alone
that I am insulted
and blush with shame.

8I am like a stranger
to my relatives
and like a foreigner
to my own family.

9My love for your house
burns in me like a fire,
and when others insulted you,
they insulted me as well.

10I cried and went without food, [a]
but they still insulted me.

11They sneered at me
for wearing sackcloth [b]
to show my sorrow.

12Rulers and judges gossip
about me,
and drunkards make up songs
to mock me.

13But I pray to you, LORD.
So when the time is right,
answer me
and help me
with your wonderful love.

14Don't let me sink in the mud,
but save me from my enemies
and from the deep water.

15Don't let me be
swept away by a flood
or drowned in the ocean
or swallowed by death.

16Answer me, LORD!
You are kind and good.

Pay attention to me!
You are truly merciful.

17Don't turn away from me.
I am your servant,
and I am in trouble.
Please hurry and help!

18Come and save me
from my enemies.

Psalm 69:10 went without food: See the note at 35.13.
Psalm 69:11 sackcloth: See the note at 30.11.

Proverbs 12:1 (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 12

You Can't Hide behind Evil

1To accept correction is wise,
to reject it is stupid.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bible Readings for March 26

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 5:1–6:25; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 68:19-35; and Proverbs 11:29-31. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 5-6:25 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 5

The Ten Commandments
(Exodus 20.1-17)

1Moses called together the people of Israel and said:
Today I am telling you the laws and teachings that you must follow, so listen carefully. 2The LORD our God made an agreement with our nation at Mount Sinai. [a] 3That agreement wasn't only with [b] our ancestors but with us, who are here today. 4The LORD himself spoke to you out of the fire, 5but you were afraid of the fire and refused to go up the mountain. So I spoke with the LORD for you, then I told you that he had said: 6I am the LORD your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.

7Do not worship any god except me.

8Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. 9Don't bow down and worship idols. I am the LORD your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me and worship idols, I will punish your families for three or four generations. 10But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.

11Do not misuse my name. [c] I am the LORD your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name. 12Show respect for the Sabbath Day--it belongs to me. 13You have six days when you can do your work, 14but the seventh day of the week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day--not you, your children, your oxen or donkeys or any other animal, not even those foreigners who live in your towns. And don't make your slaves do any work. 15This special day of rest will remind you that I reached out my mighty arm and rescued you from slavery in Egypt.

16Respect your father and mother, and you will live a long and successful life in the land I am giving you.

17Do not murder.

18Be faithful in marriage.

19Do not steal.

20Do not tell lies about others.

21Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don't want anyone's wife or husband, house, land, slaves, oxen, donkeys, or anything else.

22When we were gathered on the mountain, the LORD spoke to us in a loud voice from the dark fiery cloud. The LORD gave us these commands, and only these. Then he wrote them on two flat stones and gave them to me.

Moses said to Israel:

The People Were Afraid
(Exodus 20.18-21)

23When fire blazed from the mountain, and you heard the voice coming from the darkness, your tribal leaders came to me 24and said:

Today the LORD our God has shown us how powerful and glorious he is. He spoke to us from the fire, and we learned that people can live, even though God speaks to them. 25But we don't want to take a chance on being killed by that terrible fire, and if we keep on hearing the LORD's voice, we will die. 26Has anyone else ever heard the only true God speaking from fire, as we have? And even if they have, would they live to tell about it? 27Moses, go up close and listen to the LORD. Then come back and tell us, and we will do everything he says.

28The LORD heard you and said:

Moses, I heard what the people said to you, and I approve. 29I wish they would always worship me with fear and trembling and be this willing to obey me! Then they and their children would always enjoy a successful life.

30Now, tell them to return to their tents, 31but you come back here to me. After I tell you my laws and teachings, you will repeat them to the people, so they can obey these laws in the land I am giving them.

Moses said:
32Israel, you must carefully obey the LORD's commands. 33Follow them, because they make a path that will lead to a long successful life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 6

The Most Important Commandment

Moses said to Israel:
1The LORD told me to give you these laws and teachings, [d] so you can obey them in the land he is giving you. Soon you will cross the Jordan River and take that land. 2And if you and your descendants want to live a long time, you must always worship the LORD and obey his laws. 3Pay attention, Israel! Our ancestors worshiped the LORD, and he promised to give us this land that is rich with milk and honey. Be careful to obey him, and you will become a successful and powerful nation. 4Listen, Israel! The LORD our God is the only true God! [e] 5So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. 6Memorize his laws 7and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. 8Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. 9Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.

Worship Only the LORD

Moses said to Israel:
10The LORD promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give you this land. Now he will take you there and give you large towns, with good buildings that you didn't build, 11and houses full of good things that you didn't put there. The LORD will give you wells [f] that you didn't have to dig, and vineyards and olive orchards that you didn't have to plant. But when you have eaten so much that you can't eat any more, 12don't forget it was the LORD who set you free from slavery and brought you out of Egypt. 13Worship and obey the LORD your God with fear and trembling, and promise that you will be loyal to him. 14Don't have anything to do with gods that are worshiped by the nations around you. 15If you worship other gods, the LORD will be furious and wipe you off the face of the earth. The LORD your God is with you, 16so don't try to make him prove that he can help you, as you did at Massah. [g] 17Always obey the laws that the LORD has given you 18-19and live in a way that pleases him. Then you will be able to go in and take this good land from your enemies, just as he promised your ancestors. 20Someday your children will ask, " Why did the LORD give us these laws and teachings?"

21Then you will answer:

We were slaves of the king of Egypt, but the LORD used his great power and set us free. 22We saw him perform miracles and make horrible things happen to the king, his officials, and everyone else. 23The LORD rescued us from Egypt, so he could bring us into this land, as he had promised our ancestors. 24-25That's why the LORD our God demands that we obey his laws and worship him with fear and trembling. And if we do, he will protect us and help us be successful.

Moses said:

Deuteronomy 5:2 Mount Sinai: See the note at 1.1-5.
Deuteronomy 5:3 wasn't only with: Hebrew " wasn't with."
Deuteronomy 5:11 misuse my name: Probably includes breaking promises, telling lies after swearing to tell the truth, using the LORD's name as a curse word or a magic formula, and trying to control the LORD by using his name.
Deuteronomy 6:1 these laws and teachings: Or " the following commandment with its laws and teachings" (see 6.4,5).
Deuteronomy 6:4 The LORD. . . true God: Or " Only the LORD is our God."
Deuteronomy 6:11 wells: Cisterns cut into the rock to collect rainwater.
Deuteronomy 6:16 Massah: See Exodus 17.1-7; Numbers 20.2-13.

Luke 7:11-35 (Contemporary English Version)

A Widow's Son

11Soon Jesus and his disciples were on their way to the town of Nain, and a big crowd was going along with them. 12As they came near the gate of the town, they saw people carrying out the body of a widow's only son. Many people from the town were walking along with her.

13When the Lord saw the woman, he felt sorry for her and said, "Don't cry!"

14Jesus went over and touched the stretcher on which the people were carrying the dead boy. They stopped, and Jesus said, "Young man, get up!" 15The boy sat up and began to speak. Jesus then gave him back to his mother.

16Everyone was frightened and praised God. They said, "A great prophet is here with us! God has come to his people."

17News about Jesus spread all over Judea and everywhere else in that part of the country.

John the Baptist
(Matthew 11.1-19)

18-19John's followers told John everything that was being said about Jesus. So he sent two of them to ask the Lord, "Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?"

20When these messengers came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to ask, `Are you the one we should be looking for? Or are we supposed to wait for someone else?' "

21At that time Jesus was healing many people who were sick or in pain or were troubled by evil spirits, and he was giving sight to a lot of blind people. 22Jesus said to the messengers sent by John, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy [a] are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. 23God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do." 24After John's messengers had gone, Jesus began speaking to the crowds about John:

What kind of person did you go out to the desert to see? Was he like tall grass blown about by the wind? 25What kind of man did you really go out to see? Was he someone dressed in fine clothes? People who wear expensive clothes and live in luxury are in the king's palace. 26What then did you go out to see? Was he a prophet? He certainly was! I tell you that he was more than a prophet. 27In the Scriptures, God calls John his messenger and says, "I am sending my messenger ahead of you to get things ready for you." 28No one ever born on this earth is greater than John. But whoever is least important in God's kingdom is greater than John.

29Everyone had been listening to John. Even the tax collectors [b] had obeyed God and had done what was right by letting John baptize them. 30But the Pharisees and the experts in the Law of Moses refused to obey God and be baptized by John. 31Jesus went on to say:

What are you people like? What kind of people are you? 32You are like children sitting in the market and shouting to each other,

"We played the flute,
but you would not dance!
We sang a funeral song,
but you would not cry!"

33John the Baptist did not go around eating and drinking, and you said, "John has a demon in him!" 34But because the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, you say, "Jesus eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners." 35Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what its followers do.

Luke 7:22 leprosy: See the note at 4.27.
Luke 7:29 tax collectors: See the note at 3.12.

Psalm 68:19-35 (Contemporary English Version)

19We praise you, Lord God!

You treat us with kindness
day after day,
and you rescue us.

20You always protect us
and save us from death.

21Our Lord and our God,
your terrible enemies
are ready for war, [a]
but you will crush
their skulls.

22You promised to bring them
from Bashan
and from the deepest sea.

23Then we could stomp
on their blood,
and our dogs could chew
on their bones.

24We have seen crowds marching
to your place of worship,
our God and King.

25The singers come first,
and then the musicians,
surrounded by young women
playing tambourines.

26They come shouting,
"People of Israel,
praise the LORD God!"

27The small tribe of Benjamin
leads the way,
followed by the leaders
from Judah.

Then come the leaders
from Zebulun and Naphtali.

28Our God, show your strength!
Show us once again.

29Then kings will bring gifts
to your temple
in Jerusalem. [b]

30Punish that animal
that lives in the swamp! [c]

Punish that nation
whose leaders and people
are like wild bulls.

Make them come crawling
with gifts of silver.

Scatter those nations
that enjoy making war. [d]

31Force the Egyptians to bring
gifts of bronze;
make the Ethiopians [e]
hurry to offer presents. [f]

32Now sing praises to God!

Every kingdom on earth,
sing to the Lord!

33Praise the one who rides
across the ancient skies;
listen as he speaks
with a mighty voice.

34Tell about God's power!

He is honored in Israel,
and he rules the skies.

35The God of Israel is fearsome
in his temple,
and he makes us strong.

Let's praise our God!

Psalm 68:21 are ready for war: The Hebrew text has " have long hair," which probably refers to the ancient custom of wearing long hair on special occasions, such as a " holy war."
Psalm 68:29 Our God. . . Jerusalem: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 28,29.
Psalm 68:30 animal. . . swamp: Probably Egypt.
Psalm 68:30 war: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 30.
Psalm 68:31 the Ethiopians: The Hebrew text has " the people of Cush," which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan.
Psalm 68:31 presents: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 31.

Proverbs 11:29-31 (Contemporary English Version)

29Fools who cause trouble
in the family
won't inherit a thing.
They will end up as slaves
of someone with good sense.

30Live right, and you will eat
from the life-giving tree.
And if you act wisely,
others will follow. [a]

31If good people are rewarded [b]
here on this earth,
all who are cruel and mean
will surely be punished.

Proverbs 11:30 act. . . follow: Hebrew; one ancient translation " but violence leads to death."
Proverbs 11:31 rewarded: Or " punished."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bible Readings for March 25, 2011

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 4:1-49; Luke 6:39–7:10; Psalm 68:1-18; and Proverbs 11:28. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Deuteronomy 4:1-49 (Contemporary English Version)

Deuteronomy 4

Israel Must Obey God

Moses said:
1Israel, listen to these laws and teachings! If you obey them, you will live, and you will go in and take the land that the LORD is giving you. He is the God your ancestors worshiped, 2and now he is your God. I am telling you everything he has commanded, so don't add anything or take anything away.

3You saw how he killed everyone who worshiped the god Baal Peor. [a] 4But all of you that were faithful to the LORD your God are still alive today. 5-8No other nation has laws that are as fair as the ones the Lord my God told me to give you. If you faithfully obey them when you enter the land, you will show other nations how wise you are. In fact, everyone that hears about your laws will say, " That great nation certainly is wise!" And what makes us greater than other nations? We have a God who is close to us and answers our prayers.

9You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. 10Do you remember the day you stood in the LORD's presence at Mount Sinai? [b] The LORD said, " Moses, bring the people of Israel here. I want to speak to them so they will obey me as long as they live, and so they will teach their children to obey me too." 11Mount Sinai was surrounded by deep dark clouds, and fire went up to the sky. You came to the foot of the mountain, 12and the LORD spoke to you from the fire. You could hear him and understand what he was saying, but you couldn't see him. 13The LORD said he was making an agreement with you, and he told you that your part of the agreement is to obey the Ten Commandments. Then the LORD wrote these Commandments on two flat stones.

14That's when the LORD commanded me to give you the laws and teachings you must obey in the land that you will conquer west of the Jordan River.

Don't Worship Idols

Moses said to Israel:
15When God spoke to you from the fire, he was invisible. So be careful 16not to commit the sin of worshiping idols. Don't make idols to be worshiped, whether they are shaped like men, women, 17animals, birds, 18reptiles, or fish. 19And when you see the sun or moon or stars, don't be tempted to bow down and worship them. The LORD put them there for all the other nations to worship. 20But you are the LORD's people, because he led you through fiery trials and rescued you from Egypt.

21The LORD was angry at me because of what you said[c], and he told me that he would not let me cross the Jordan River into the good land that he is giving you.[d] 22So I must stay here and die on this side of the Jordan, but you will cross the river and take the land.

23Always remember the agreement that the LORD your God made with you, and don't make an idol in any shape or form. 24The LORD will be angry if you worship other gods, and he can be like a fire destroying everything in its path.

25-26Soon you will cross the Jordan River and settle down in the land. Then in the years to come, you will have children, and they will give you grandchildren. After many years, you might lose your sense of right and wrong and make idols, even though the LORD your God hates them. So I am giving you fair warning today, and I call the earth and the sky as witnesses. If you ever make idols, the LORD will be angry, and you won't have long to live, because the LORD will let you be wiped out. 27Only a few of you will survive, and the LORD will force you to leave the land and will scatter you among the nations. 28There you will have to worship gods made of wood and stone, and these are nothing but idols that can't see or hear or eat or smell.

29-30In all of your troubles, you may finally decide that you want to worship only the LORD. And if you turn back to him and obey him completely, he will again be your God. 31The LORD your God will have mercy--he won't destroy you or desert you. The LORD will remember his promise, and he will keep the agreement he made with your ancestors.

32-34When the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt, you saw how he fought for you and showed his great power by performing terrifying miracles. You became his people, and at Mount Sinai you heard him talking to you out of fiery flames. And yet you are still alive! Has anything like this ever happened since the time God created humans? No matter where you go or who you ask, you will get the same answer. No one has ever heard of another god even trying to do such things as the LORD your God has done for you.

35-36The LORD wants you to know he is the only true God, and he wants you to obey him. That's why he let you see his mighty miracles and his fierce fire on earth, and why you heard his voice from that fire and from the sky.

37The LORD loved your ancestors and decided that you would be his people. So the LORD used his great power to bring you out of Egypt. 38Now you face other nations more powerful than you are, but the LORD has already started forcing them out of their land and giving it to you.

39So remember that the LORD is the only true God, whether in the sky above or on the earth below. 40Today I am explaining his laws and teachings. And if you always obey them, you and your descendants will live long and be successful in the land the LORD is giving you.

Safe Towns

41-43Moses said, " People of Israel, you must set aside the following three towns east of the Jordan River as Safe Towns: Bezer in the desert highlands belonging to the Reuben tribe; Ramoth in Gilead, belonging to the Gad tribe; and Golan in Bashan, belonging to the Manasseh tribe. If you kill a neighbor without meaning to, and if you had not been angry with that person, you can run to one of these towns and find safety." [e] Israel at Beth-Peor


44-46The Israelites had come from Egypt and were camped east of the Jordan River near Beth-Peor, when Moses gave these laws and teachings. The land around their camp had once belonged to King Sihon of Heshbon. But Moses and the Israelites defeated him 47and King Og of Bashan, and took their lands. These two Amorite kings had ruled the territory east of the Jordan River 48from the town of Aroer on the edge of the Arnon River gorge, north to Mount Hermon. [f] 49Their land included the eastern side of the Jordan River valley, as far south as the Dead Sea [g] below the slopes of Mount Pisgah.

Deuteronomy 4:3 Baal Peor: See Numbers 25.1-9.
Deuteronomy 4:10 Mount Sinai: See the note at 1.1-5.
Deuteronomy 4:21 what you said: Or "you people."
Deuteronomy 4:21 The LORD was angry. . . giving you: See 1.37; 3.26.
Deuteronomy 4:41 find safety: From the victim's clan, who might appoint one of their men to track down and put to death the killer (see also 19.1-13).
Deuteronomy 4:48 Hermon: The Hebrew text also includes the name " Sion," probably another form of " Sirion," the name used by the Sidonians.
Deuteronomy 4:49 the Dead Sea: Hebrew " the Sea of the Arabah."

Luke 6:39-7:10 (Contemporary English Version)

39Jesus also used some sayings as he spoke to the people. He said:

Can one blind person lead another blind person? Won't they both fall into a ditch? 40Are students better than their teacher? But when they are fully trained, they will be like their teacher.

41You can see the speck in your friend's eye. But you don't notice the log in your own eye. 42How can you say, "My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye," when you don't see the log in your own eye? You show-offs! First, get the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend's eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit
(Matthew 7.17-20; 12.34b,35)

43A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. 44You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces. You cannot pick figs or grapes from thornbushes. 45Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts. Your words show what is in your heart.

Two Builders
(Matthew 7.24-27)

46Why do you keep on saying that I am your Lord, when you refuse to do what I say? 47Anyone who comes and listens to me and obeys me 48is like someone who dug down deep and built a house on solid rock. When the flood came and the river rushed against the house, it was built so well that it didn't even shake. 49But anyone who hears what I say and doesn't obey me is like someone whose house wasn't built on solid rock. As soon as the river rushed against that house, it was smashed to pieces!

Luke 7

Jesus Heals an Army Officer's Servant
(Matthew 8.5-13; John 4.43-54)

1After Jesus had finished teaching the people, he went to Capernaum. 2In that town an army officer's servant was sick and about to die. The officer liked this servant very much. 3And when he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish leaders to ask him to come and heal the servant.

4The leaders went to Jesus and begged him to do something. They said, "This man deserves your help! 5He loves our nation and even built us a meeting place." 6So Jesus went with them.

When Jesus wasn't far from the house, the officer sent some friends to tell him, "Lord, don't go to any trouble for me! I am not good enough for you to come into my house. 7And I am certainly not worthy to come to you. Just say the word, and my servant will get well. 8I have officers who give orders to me, and I have soldiers who take orders from me. I can say to one of them, `Go!' and he goes. I can say to another, `Come!' and he comes. I can say to my servant, `Do this!' and he will do it."

9When Jesus heard this, he was so surprised that he turned and said to the crowd following him, "In all of Israel I've never found anyone with this much faith!"

10The officer's friends returned and found the servant well.

Psalm 68:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 68
(A psalm and a song by David for the music leader.)

God Will Win the Battle

1Do something, God!
Scatter your hateful enemies.

Make them turn and run.

2Scatter them like smoke!

When you come near,
make them melt
like wax in a fire.

3But let your people be happy
and celebrate because of you.

4Our God, you are the one
who rides on the clouds,
and we praise you.

Your name is the LORD,
and we celebrate
as we worship you.

5Our God, from your sacred home
you take care of orphans
and protect widows.

6You find families
for those who are lonely.

You set prisoners free
and let them prosper, [a]
but all who rebel will live
in a scorching desert.

7You set your people free,
and you led them
through the desert.

8God of Israel,
the earth trembled,
and rain poured down.

You alone are the God
who rules from Mount Sinai.

9When your land was thirsty,
you sent showers
to refresh it.

10Your people settled there,
and you were generous
to everyone in need.

11You gave the command,
and a chorus of women told
what had happened:

12"Kings and their armies
retreated and ran,
and everything they left
is now being divided.

13And for those who stayed back
to guard the sheep,
there are metal doves
with silver-coated wings
and shiny gold feathers."

14God All-Powerful, you scattered
the kings
like snow falling
on Mount Zalmon. [b]

15Our LORD and our God,
Bashan is a mighty mountain
covered with peaks.

16Why is it jealous of Zion,
the mountain you chose
as your home forever?

17When you, LORD God, appeared
to your people [c] at Sinai,
you came with thousands
of mighty chariots.

18When you climbed
the high mountain,
you took prisoners with you
and were given gifts.

Your enemies didn't want you
to live there,
but they gave you gifts.

Psalm 68:6 and let them prosper: Or " and give them a song."
Psalm 68:14 Mount Zalmon: The location of this mountain is not known.
Psalm 68:17 to your people: Or " in all your holiness" or " in your holy place."

Proverbs 11:28 (Contemporary English Version)

28Trust in your wealth,
and you will be a failure,
but God's people will prosper
like healthy plants.