June 14 - Mark 1.21-45, 2 Samuel 3.2-39 and Daniel 2.1-23

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A Man with an Evil Spirit
(Luke 4.31-37)

Mark 1 21Jesus and his disciples went to the town of Capernaum. Then on the next Sabbath he went into the Jewish meeting place and started teaching. 22Everyone was amazed at his teaching. He taught with authority, and not like the teachers of the Law of Moses. 23Suddenly a man with an evil spirit in him entered the meeting place and yelled, 24"Jesus from Nazareth, what do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are! You are God's Holy One."
25Jesus told the evil spirit, "Be quiet and come out of the man!" 26The spirit shook him. Then it gave a loud shout and left.
27Everyone was completely surprised and kept saying to each other, "What is this? It must be some new kind of powerful teaching! Even the evil spirits obey him." 28News about Jesus quickly spread all over Galilee.

Jesus Heals Many People
(Matthew 8.14-17; Luke 4.38-41)

29As soon as Jesus left the meeting place with James and John, they went home with Simon and Andrew. 30When they got there, Jesus was told that Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever. 31Jesus went to her. He took hold of her hand and helped her up. The fever left her, and she served them a meal.
32That evening after sunset, all who were sick or had demons in them were brought to Jesus. 33In fact, the whole town gathered around the door of the house. 34Jesus healed all kinds of terrible diseases and forced out a lot of demons. But the demons knew who he was, and he did not let them speak.
35Very early the next morning, Jesus got up and went to a place where he could be alone and pray. 36Simon and the others started looking for him. 37And when they found him, they said, "Everyone is looking for you!"
38Jesus replied, "We must go to the nearby towns, so that I can tell the good news to those people. This is why I have come." 39Then Jesus went to Jewish meeting places everywhere in Galilee, where he preached and forced out demons.

Jesus Heals a Man
(Matthew 8.1-4; Luke 5.12-16)

40A man with leprosy came to Jesus and knelt down. He begged, "You have the power to make me well, if only you wanted to."
41Jesus felt sorry for the man. So he put his hand on him and said, "I want to! Now you are well." 42At once the man's leprosy disappeared, and he was well.
43After Jesus strictly warned the man, he sent him on his way. 44He said, "Don't tell anyone about this. Just go and show the priest that you are well. Then take a gift to the temple as Moses commanded, and everyone will know that you have been healed."
45The man talked about it so much and told so many people, that Jesus could no longer go openly into a town. He had to stay away from the towns, but people still came to him from everywhere.

David's Sons Born in Hebron
(1 Chronicles 3.1-4)

2 Samuel 3 2-5Several of David's sons were born while he was living in Hebron. His oldest son was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel. David's second son was Chileab, whose mother was Abigail, who had been married to Nabal from Carmel. Absalom was the third. His mother was Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur. The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital. The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, another one of David's wives.

Abner Decides To Help David

6As the war went on between the families of David and Saul, Abner was gaining more power than ever in Saul's family. 7He had even slept with a wife of Saul by the name of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah. But Saul's son Ishbosheth told Abner, "You shouldn't have slept with one of my father's wives!"
8Abner was very angry at what Ishbosheth had said, and he told Ishbosheth:
Am I some kind of worthless dog from Judah? I've always been loyal to your father's family and to his relatives and friends. I haven't turned you over to David. And yet you talk to me as if I've committed a crime with this woman.
9I ask God to punish me if I don't help David get what the LORD promised him! 10God said that he wouldn't let anyone in Saul's family ever be king again and that David would be king instead. He also said that David would rule both Israel and Judah, all the way from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.

11Ishbosheth was so afraid of Abner that he could not even answer.
12Abner sent some of his men to David with this message: "You should be the ruler of the whole nation. If you make an agreement with me, I will persuade everyone in Israel to make you their king."
13David sent this message back: "Good! I'll make an agreement with you. But before I will even talk with you about it, you must get Saul's daughter Michal back for me."
14David sent a few of his officials to Ishbosheth to give him this message: "Give me back my wife Michal! I killed a hundred Philistines so I could marry her."
15Ishbosheth sent some of his men to take Michal away from her new husband, Paltiel the son of Laish. 16Paltiel followed Michal and the men all the way to Bahurim, crying as he walked. But he went back home after Abner ordered him to leave.
17Abner talked with the leaders of the tribes of Israel and told them, "You've wanted to make David your king for a long time now. 18So do it! After all, God said he would use his servant David to rescue his people Israel from their enemies, especially from the Philistines."
19Finally, Abner talked with the tribe of Benjamin. Then he left for Hebron to tell David everything that the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of the people of Israel wanted to do. 20Abner took twenty soldiers with him, and when they got to Hebron, David gave a big feast for them.
21After the feast, Abner said, "Your Majesty, let me leave now and bring Israel here to make an agreement with you. You'll be king of the whole nation, just as you've been wanting."
David told Abner he could leave, and he left without causing any trouble.

Joab Kills Abner

22Soon after Abner had left Hebron, Joab and some of David's soldiers came back, bringing a lot of things they had taken from an enemy village. 23Right after they arrived, someone told Joab, "Abner visited the king, and the king let him go. Abner even left without causing any trouble."
24Joab went to David and said, "What have you done? Abner came to you, and you let him go. Now he's long gone! 25You know Abner--he came to trick you. He wants to find out how strong your army is and to know everything you're doing."
26Joab left David, then he sent some messengers to catch up with Abner. They brought him back from the well at Sirah, but David did not know anything about it. 27When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab pretended he wanted to talk privately with him. So he took Abner into one of the small rooms that were part of the town gate and stabbed him in the stomach. Joab killed him because Abner had killed Joab's brother Asahel.

Abner's Funeral

28David heard how Joab had killed Abner, and he said, "I swear to the LORD that I am completely innocent of Abner's death! 29Joab and his family are the guilty ones. I pray that Joab's family will always be sick with sores and other skin diseases. May they all be cowards, and may they die in war or starve to death."
30Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31David told Joab and everyone with him, "Show your sorrow by tearing your clothes and wearing sackcloth! Walk in front of Abner's body and cry!"
David walked behind the stretcher on which Abner's body was being carried. 32Abner was buried in Hebron, while David and everyone else stood at the tomb and cried loudly. 33Then the king sang a funeral song about Abner:
Abner, why should you have died like an outlaw?
34No one tied your hands or chained your feet,
yet you died as a victim of murderers.
Everyone started crying again. 35Then they brought some food to David and told him he would feel better if he had something to eat. It was still daytime, and David said, "I swear to God that I'll not take a bite of bread or anything else until sunset!"
36Everyone noticed what David did, and they liked it, just as they always liked what he did. 37Now the people of Judah and Israel were certain that David had nothing to do with killing Abner.
38David said to his officials, "Don't you realize that today one of Israel's great leaders has died? 39I am the chosen king, but Joab and Abishai have more power than I do. So God will have to pay them back for the evil thing they did."

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Daniel 2 During the second year that Nebuchadnezzar was king, he had such horrible nightmares that he could not sleep. 2So he called in his counselors, advisors, magicians, and wise men, 3and said, "I am disturbed by a dream that I don't understand, and I want you to explain it."
4They answered in Aramaic, "Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! We are your servants. Please tell us your dream, and we will explain what it means."
5But the king replied, "No! I have made up my mind. If you don't tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be chopped to pieces and your houses will be torn down. 6However, if you do tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be greatly rewarded and highly honored. Now tell me the dream and explain what it means."
7"Your Majesty," they said, "if you will only tell us your dream, we will interpret it for you."
8The king replied, "You're just stalling for time, 9because you know what's going to happen if you don't come up with the answer. You've decided to make up a bunch of lies, hoping I might change my mind. Now tell me the dream, and that will prove that you can interpret it."
10His advisors explained, "Your Majesty, you are demanding the impossible! No king, not even the most famous and powerful, has ever ordered his advisors, magicians, or wise men to do such a thing. 11It can't be done, except by the gods, and they don't live here on earth."
12-13This made the king so angry that he gave orders for every wise man in Babylonia to be put to death, including Daniel and his three friends.

God Tells Nebuchadnezzar's Dream to Daniel

14Arioch was the king's official in charge of putting the wise men to death. He was on his way to have it done, when Daniel very wisely went to him 15and asked, "Why did the king give such cruel orders?" After Arioch explained what had happened, 16Daniel rushed off and said to the king, "If you will just give me some time, I'll explain your dream."
17Daniel returned home and told his three friends. 18Then he said, "Pray that the God who rules from heaven will be merciful and explain this mystery, so that we and the others won't be put to death." 19In a vision one night, Daniel was shown the dream and its meaning. Then he praised the God who rules from heaven:
20"Our God, your name will be praised forever and forever.
You are all-powerful, and you know everything.
21You control human events--
you give rulers their power and take it away,
and you are the source of wisdom and knowledge.

22"You explain deep mysteries,
because even the dark is light to you.
23You are the God who was worshiped by my ancestors.
Now I thank you and praise you for making me wise
and telling me the king's dream,
together with its meaning."

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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