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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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bible Readings for February 29, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 24:1–25:46; Mark 10:13-31; Psalm 44:9-26; and Proverbs 10:20-21. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 24-25:46 (The Message)

Leviticus 24

Light and Bread

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

5-9 “Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using about four quarts of flour to a loaf. Arrange them in two rows of six each on the Table of pure gold before God. Along each row spread pure incense, marking the bread as a memorial; it is a gift to God. Regularly, every Sabbath, this bread is to be set before God, a perpetual covenantal response from Israel. The bread then goes to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a Holy Place. It is their most holy share from the gifts to God. This is a perpetual decree.”

10-12 One day the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites. A fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name of God and cursed. They brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put him in custody waiting for God’s will to be revealed to them.

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

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

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

Leviticus 25

“The Land Will Observe a Sabbath to God”

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

“The Fiftieth Year Shall Be a Jubilee for You”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 10:13-31 (The Message)

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

To Enter God’s Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 44:9-26 (The Message)

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:20-21 (The Message)

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

21 The talk of a good person is rich fare for many,
but chatterboxes die of an empty heart.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bible Readings for February 28, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 22:17–23:44; Mark 9:30–10:12; Psalm 44:1-8; and Proverbs 10:19. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 22:17-23:44 (The Message)

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 23

The Feasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 9:30-10:12 (The Message)

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

So You Want First Place?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 10


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

3Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”

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

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

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

Psalm 44:1-8 (The Message)

Psalm 44

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

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

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

Proverbs 10:19 (The Message)

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bible Readings for February 27, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 20:22–22:16; Mark 9:1-29; Psalm 43:1-5; and Proverbs 10:18. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 20:22-22:16 (The Message)

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

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

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

Leviticus 21

Holy Priests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 9:1-29 (The Message)

Mark 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Are No Ifs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 43:1-5 (The Message)

Psalm 43

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:18 (The Message)

18 Liars secretly hoard hatred;
fools openly spread slander.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bible Readings for February 26, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 19:1–20:21; Mark 8:11-38; Psalm 42:1-11; and Proverbs 10:17. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 19-20:21 (The Message)

Leviticus 19

“I Am God, Your God”

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

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

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

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

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

11 “Don’t steal.

“Don’t lie.

“Don’t deceive anyone.

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

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

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

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

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

16 “Don’t spread gossip and rumors.

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

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

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

“Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.

19 “Keep my decrees.

“Don’t mate two different kinds of animals.

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

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

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

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

26 “Don’t eat meat with blood in it.

“Don’t practice divination or sorcery.

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

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

“Don’t tattoo yourselves. I am God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 8:11-38 (The Message)

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

Contaminating Yeast

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

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

They said, “Twelve.”

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


21He said, “Do you still not get it?”

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

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

The Messiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 42:1-11 (The Message)

Psalm 42

A psalm of the sons of Korah

1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God,
deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
people knock at my door,
“Where is this God of yours?”

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:17 (The Message)

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

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bible Readings for February 25, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 16:29–18:30; Mark 7:24–8:10; Psalm 41:1-13; and Proverbs 10:15-16. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 16:29-18:30 (The Message)

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

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

He puts on the sacred linen garments;

33 He purges the Holy of Holies by making atonement;

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

He makes atonement for the priests and all the congregation.

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

And Aaron did it, just as God commanded Moses.

Leviticus 17

Holy Living: Sacrifices and Blood

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 18


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

6 "Don't have sex with a close relative. I am God.

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

8 "Don't have sex with your father's wife. That violates your father.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 "Don't have sex with your brother's wife; that would violate your brother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 "Don't have sex with an animal and violate yourself by it.

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

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

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

Mark 7:24-8:10 (The Message)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 8

A Meal for Four Thousand

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

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

5He asked, "How much bread do you have?"

"Seven loaves," they said.

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

Psalm 41:1-13 (The Message)

Psalm 41

A David Psalm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:15-16 (The Message)

The Road to Life Is a Disciplined Life

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

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

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bible Readings for February 24, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 15:1–16:28; Mark 7:1-23; Psalm 40:11-17; and Proverbs 10:13-14. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 15-16:28 (The Message)

Leviticus 15

Bodily Discharges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 16

The Day of Atonement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 7:1-23 (The Message)

Mark 7

The Source of Your Pollution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 40:11-17 (The Message)

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:13-14 (The Message)

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

14 The wise accumulate knowledge—a true treasure;
know-it-alls talk too much—a sheer waste.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bible Readings for February 23, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 14:1-57; Mark 6:30-56; Psalm 40:1-10; and Proverbs 10:11-12. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 14:1-57 (The Message)

Leviticus 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

32 These are the instructions to be followed for anyone who has a serious skin disease and cannot afford the regular offerings for his cleansing.

33-42 God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I’m giving to you as a possession, and I put a serious fungus in a house in the land of your possession, the householder is to go and tell the priest, ‘I have some kind of fungus in my house.’ The priest is to order the house vacated until he can come to examine the fungus, so that nothing in the house is declared unclean. When the priest comes and examines the house, if the fungus on the walls of the house has greenish or rusty swelling that appears to go deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest is to walk out the door and shut the house up for seven days. On the seventh day he is to come back and conduct another examination; if the fungus has spread in the walls of the house, he is to order that the stones affected by the fungus be torn out and thrown in a garbage dump outside the city. He is to make sure the entire inside of the house is scraped and the plaster that is removed be taken away to the garbage dump outside the city. Then he is to replace the stones and replaster the house.

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

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

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

Mark 6:30-56 (The Message)

Supper for Five Thousand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking on the Sea

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

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

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

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

Psalm 40:1-10 (The Message)

Psalm 40

A David Psalm

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:11-12 (The Message)

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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bible Readings for February 22, 2012

Today our passages are Leviticus 13:1-59; Mark 6:1-29; Psalm 39:1-13; and Proverbs 10:10. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Leviticus 13:1-59 (The Message)

Leviticus 13


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45-46 "Any person with a serious skin disease must wear torn clothes, leave his hair loose and unbrushed, cover his upper lip, and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' As long as anyone has the sores, that one continues to be ritually unclean. That person must live alone; he or she must live outside the camp.

47-58 "If clothing—woolen or linen clothing, woven or knitted cloth of linen or wool, leather or leatherwork—is infected with a patch of serious fungus and if the spot in the clothing or the leather or the woven or the knitted material or anything made of leather is greenish or rusty, that is a sign of serious fungus. Show it to the priest. The priest will examine the spot and then confiscate the material for seven days. On the seventh day he will reexamine the spot. If it has spread in the garment—the woven or knitted or leather material—it is the spot of a persistent serious fungus and the material is unclean. He must burn the garment. Because of the persistent and contaminating fungus, the material must be burned. But if when the priest examines it the spot has not spread in the garment, the priest will command the owner to wash the material that has the spot, and he will confiscate it for another seven days. He'll then make another examination after it has been washed; if the spot hasn't changed in appearance, even though it hasn't spread, it is still unclean. Burn it up, whether the fungus has affected the back or the front. If, when the priest makes his examination, the spot has faded after it has been washed, he is to tear the spot from the garment. But if it reappears, it is a fresh outbreak—throw whatever has the spot in the fire. If the garment is washed and the spot has gone away, then wash it a second time; it is clean.

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

Mark 6:1-29 (The Message)

Mark 6

Just a Carpenter

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

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

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

The Twelve

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

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

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

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

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

The Death of John

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

15Others said, "No, it's Elijah."

Others said, "He's a prophet, just like one of the old-time prophets."

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

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

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

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

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

"Ask for the head of John the Baptizer."

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

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

Psalm 39:1-13 (The Message)

Psalm 39

A David Psalm

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 10:10 (The Message)

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