Mark 1; Genesis 20; Galatians 6; 1 Timothy 4; Job 21; Psalm 57; Proverbs 21; 2 Chronicles 27; Amos 7; Acts 11 (New International Version)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1:2-8pp -- Mt 3:1-11; Lk 3:2-16

1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- 3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

1:9-11pp -- Mt 3:13-17; Lk 3:21,22 1:12,13pp -- Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

The Calling of the First Disciples

1:16-20pp -- Mt 4:18-22; Lk 5:2-11; Jn 1:35-42

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit

1:21-28pp -- Lk 4:31-37

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" 25 "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Jesus Heals Many

1:29-31pp -- Mt 8:14,15; Lk 4:38,39 1:32-34pp -- Mt 8:16,17; Lk 4:40,41

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place

1:35-38pp -- Lk 4:42,43

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" 38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

A Man With Leprosy

1:40-44pp -- Mt 8:2-4; Lk 5:12-14

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." 41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Abraham and Abimelech

20:1-18Ref -- Ge 12:10-20; 26:1-11

1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman." 4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, "Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands." 6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die." 8 Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said, "What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done." 10 And Abimelech asked Abraham, "What was your reason for doing this?" 11 Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother." ' " 14 Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, "My land is before you; live wherever you like." 16 To Sarah he said, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated." 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again, 18 for the LORD had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah.

Doing Good to All

1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load. 6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Not Circumcision but a New Creation

11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. 17 Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Instructions to Timothy

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Job

1 Then Job replied: 2 "Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. 3 Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on. 4 "Is my complaint directed to man? Why should I not be impatient? 5 Look at me and be astonished; clap your hand over your mouth. 6 When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body. 7 Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? 8 They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them. 10 Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. 11 They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. 12 They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute. 13 They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace. 14 Yet they say to God, 'Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?' 16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked. 17 "Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? 18 How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale? 19 [It is said, ] 'God stores up a man's punishment for his sons.' Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it! 20 Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty. 21 For what does he care about the family he leaves behind when his allotted months come to an end? 22 "Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest? 23 One man dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease, 24 his body well nourished, his bones rich with marrow. 25 Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. 26 Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both. 27 "I know full well what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me. 28 You say, 'Where now is the great man's house, the tents where wicked men lived?' 29 Have you never questioned those who travel? Have you paid no regard to their accounts-- 30 that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity, that he is delivered from the day of wrath? 31 Who denounces his conduct to his face? Who repays him for what he has done? 32 He is carried to the grave, and watch is kept over his tomb. 33 The soil in the valley is sweet to him; all men follow after him, and a countless throng goes before him. 34 "So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!"

57:7-11pp -- Ps 108:1-5

For the director of music. [To the tune of] "Do Not Destroy." Of David. A "miktam." When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills [his purpose] for me. 3 He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; "Selah" God sends his love and his faithfulness. 4 I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts-- men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 They spread a net for my feet-- I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path-- but they have fallen into it themselves. "Selah" 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. 8 Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. 2 All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. 3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. 4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin! 5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. 6 A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. 7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. 8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright. 9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 10 The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him. 11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge. 12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin. 13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. 14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath. 15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. 16 A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead. 17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich. 18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright. 19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. 20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. 21 He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. 22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust. 23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. 24 The proud and arrogant man--"Mocker" is his name; he behaves with overweening pride. 25 The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. 26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable-- how much more so when brought with evil intent! 28 A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever. 29 A wicked man puts up a bold front, but an upright man gives thought to his ways. 30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

Jotham King of Judah

27:1-4,7-9pp -- 2Ki 15:33-38

1 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother's name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD. The people, however, continued their corrupt practices. 3 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel. 4 He built towns in the Judean hills and forts and towers in the wooded areas. 5 Jotham made war on the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand cors of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years. 6 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God. 7 The other events in Jotham's reign, including all his wars and the other things he did, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. 8 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. 9 Jotham rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David. And Ahaz his son succeeded him as king.

Locusts, Fire and a Plumb Line

1 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king's share had been harvested and just as the second crop was coming up. 2 When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!" 3 So the LORD relented. "This will not happen," the LORD said. 4 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. 5 Then I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!" 6 So the LORD relented. "This will not happen either," the Sovereign LORD said. 7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Amos?" "A plumb line," I replied. Then the Lord said, "Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. 9 "The high places of Isaac will be destroyed and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam."

Amos and Amaziah

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: "Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: " 'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.' " 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom." 14 Amos answered Amaziah, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 Now then, hear the word of the LORD. You say, " 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac.' 17 "Therefore this is what the LORD says: " 'Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will certainly go into exile, away from their native land.' "

Peter Explains His Actions

1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." 4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: 5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.' 8 "I replied, 'Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' 9 "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.' 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 "Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.' 15 "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?" 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."

The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
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