June 27 - Mark 8.22-9.1, 2 Samuel 20-21 and Hosea 1.1-2.1

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Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

Mark 8 22As Jesus and his disciples were going into Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch the man. 23Jesus took him by the hand and led him out of the village, where he spit into the man's eyes. He placed his hands on the blind man and asked him if he could see anything. 24The man looked up and said, "I see people, but they look like trees walking around."
25Once again Jesus placed his hands on the man's eyes, and this time the man stared. His eyes were healed, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus said to him, "You may return home now, but don't go into the village."

Who Is Jesus?
(Matthew 16.13-20; Luke 9.18-21)

27Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, "What do people say about me?"
28The disciples answered, "Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets."
29Then Jesus asked them, "But who do you say I am?"
"You are the Messiah!" Peter replied.
30Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death
(Matthew 16.21-28; Luke 9.22-27)

31Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life." 32Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.
Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. 33But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, "Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God."
34Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said:
If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. 36What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37What could you give to get back your soul?
38Don't be ashamed of me and my message among these unfaithful and sinful people! If you are, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Mark 9 I can assure you that some of the people standing here will not die before they see God's kingdom come with power.

Sheba Rebels against David

2 Samuel 20 A troublemaker from the tribe of Benjamin was there. His name was Sheba the son of Bichri, and he blew a trumpet to get everyone's attention. Then he said, "People of Israel, David the son of Jesse doesn't belong to us! Let's go home."
2So they stopped following David and went off with Sheba. But the people of Judah stayed close to David all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

David's Ten Wives

3David had left ten of his wives in Jerusalem to take care of his palace. But when he came back, he had them taken to another house, and he placed soldiers there to guard them. He gave them whatever they needed, but he never slept with any of them again. They had to live there for the rest of their lives as if they were widows.

The Army Goes after Sheba

4David said to Amasa, "Three days from now I want you and all of Judah's army to be here!"
5Amasa started bringing the army together, but it was taking him more than three days. 6So David said to Abishai, "Sheba will hurt us more than Absalom ever did. Take my best soldiers and go after him. We don't want him to take over any walled cities and get away from us."

Joab Kills Amasa

7Abishai left Jerusalem to try and capture Sheba. He took along Joab and his soldiers, as well as David's bodyguard and best troops. 8They had gone as far as the big rock at Gibeon when Amasa caught up with them. Joab had a dagger strapped around his waist over his military uniform, but it fell out as he started toward Amasa.
9Joab said, "Amasa, my cousin, how are you?" Then Joab took hold of Amasa's beard with his right hand, so that he could greet him with a kiss. 10Amasa did not see the dagger in Joab's other hand. Joab stuck it in Amasa's stomach, and his insides spilled out on the ground. Joab only struck him once, but Amasa was dying.
Joab and his brother Abishai went off to chase Sheba. 11One of Joab's soldiers stood by Amasa and shouted, "If any of you like Joab, and if you are for David, then follow Joab!"
12Amasa was still rolling in his own blood in the middle of the road. The soldier who had shouted noticed that everyone who passed by would stop, so he dragged Amasa off the road and covered him with a blanket. 13After this, no one else stopped. They all walked straight past him on their way to help Joab capture Sheba.

Sheba Hides Out in the Town of Abel

14Sheba had gone through all of the tribes of Israel when he came to the town of Abel Beth-Maacah. All of his best soldiers met him there and followed him into the town.
15Joab and his troops came and surrounded Abel, so that no one could go in or come out. They made a dirt ramp up to the town wall and then started to use a battering ram to knock the wall down.

A Wise Woman Saves the Town

16A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall, "Listen to me! Listen to me! I have to talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!" 17When he came, the woman said, "Are you Joab?"
"Yes, I am," he answered.
She said, "Please, listen to what I have to say."
"All right," he said. "I'll listen."
18She said, "Long ago people used to say, 'If you want good advice, go to the town of Abel to get it.' The answers they got here were all that was needed to settle any problem. 19We are Israelites, and we want peace! You can trust us. Why are you trying to destroy a town that's like a mother in Israel? Why do you want to wipe out the LORD's people?"
20Joab answered, "No, no! I'm not trying to wipe you out or destroy your town! 21That's not it at all. There's a man in your town from the hill country of Ephraim. His name is Sheba, and he is the leader of a rebellion against King David. Turn him over to me, and we will leave your town alone."
The woman told Joab, "We will throw his head over the wall."
22She went to the people of the town and talked them into doing it. They cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab.
Joab blew a signal on his trumpet, and the soldiers returned to their homes. Joab went back to David in Jerusalem.

Another List of David's Officials

23Joab was the commander of Israel's entire army.
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of David's bodyguard.
24Adoram was in charge of the slave-labor force.
Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud kept government records.
25Sheva was the secretary.
Zadok and Abiathar were the priests.
26Ira from Jair was David's priest.

The Gibeonites Hang Saul's Descendants

2 Samuel 21 While David was king, there were three years in a row when the nation of Israel could not grow enough food. So David asked the LORD for help, and the LORD answered, "Saul and his family are guilty of murder, because he had the Gibeonites killed."
2The Gibeonites were not Israelites; they were descendants of the Amorites. The people of Israel had promised not to kill them, but Saul had tried to kill them because he wanted Israel and Judah to control all the land.
David had the Gibeonites come, and he talked with them. 3He said, "What can I do to make up for what Saul did, so that you'll ask the LORD to be kind to his people again?"
4The Gibeonites answered, "Silver and gold from Saul and his family are not enough. On the other hand, we don't have the right to put any Israelite to death."
David said, "I'll do whatever you ask."
5They replied, "Saul tried to kill all our people so that none of us would be left in the land of Israel. 6Give us seven of his descendants. We will hang these men near the place where the LORD is worshiped in Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, the LORD's chosen king."
"I'll give them to you," David said.
7David had made a promise to Jonathan with the LORD as his witness, so he spared Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul. 8But Saul and Rizpah the daughter of Aiah had two sons named Armoni and Mephibosheth. Saul's daughter Merab had five sons whose father was Adriel the son of Barzillai from Meholah. David took Rizpah's two sons and Merab's five sons and 9turned them over to the Gibeonites, who hanged all seven of them on the mountain near the place where the LORD was worshiped. This happened right at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Rizpah Takes Care of the Bodies

10Rizpah spread out some sackcloth on a nearby rock. She wouldn't let the birds land on the bodies during the day, and she kept the wild animals away at night. She stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until it started to rain.

The Burial of Saul and His Descendants

11-12Earlier the Philistines had killed Saul and Jonathan on Mount Gilboa and had hung their bodies in the town square at Beth-Shan. The people of Jabesh in Gilead had secretly taken the bodies away, but David found out what Saul's wife Rizpah had done, and he went to the leaders of Jabesh to get the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. 13-14David had their bones taken to the land of Benjamin and buried in a side room in Saul's family burial place. Then he gave orders for the bones of the men who had been hanged to be buried there. It was done, and God answered prayers to bless the land.

The Descendants of the Rapha
(1 Chronicles 20.4-8)

15One time David got very tired when he and his soldiers were fighting the Philistines. 16One of the Philistine warriors was Ishbibenob, who was a descendant of the Rephaim, and he tried to kill David. Ishbibenob was armed with a new sword, and his bronze spearhead alone weighed seven and a half pounds. 17But Abishai came to the rescue and killed the Philistine.
David's soldiers told him, "We can't let you risk your life in battle anymore! You give light to our nation, and we want that flame to keep burning."
18There was another battle with the Philistines at Gob, where Sibbecai from Hushah killed a descendant of the Rephaim named Saph.
19There was still another battle with the Philistines at Gob. A soldier named Elhanan killed Goliath from Gath, whose spear shaft was like a weaver's beam. Elhanan's father was Jari from Bethlehem.
20There was another war, this time in Gath. One of the enemy soldiers was a descendant of the Rephaim. He was as big as a giant and had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. 21But when he made fun of Israel, David's nephew Jonathan killed him. Jonathan was the son of David's brother Shimei.
22David and his soldiers killed these four men who were descendants of the Rephaim from Gath.

Hosea 1 I am Hosea son of Beeri. When Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were the kings of Judah, and when Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel, the LORD spoke this message to me.

Hosea's Family

2The LORD said, "Hosea, Israel has betrayed me like an unfaithful wife. Marry such a woman and have children by her." 3So I married Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and we had a son.
4Then the LORD said, "Hosea, name your son Jezreel, because I will soon punish the descendants of King Jehu of Israel for the murders he committed in Jezreel Valley. I will destroy his kingdom, 5and in Jezreel Valley I will break the power of Israel."
6Later, Gomer had a daughter, and the LORD said, "Name her Lo-Ruhamah, because I will no longer have mercy and forgive Israel. 7But I am the LORD God of Judah, and I will have mercy and save Judah by my own power--not by wars and arrows or swords and cavalry."
8After Gomer had stopped nursing Lo-Ruhamah, she had another son. 9Then the LORD said, "Name him Lo-Ammi, because these people are not mine, and I am not their God."

Hope for Israel

10Someday it will be impossible to count the people of Israel, because there will be as many of them as there are grains of sand along the seashore. They are now called "Not My People," but in the future they will be called "Children of the Living God." 11Israel and Judah will unite and choose one leader. Then they will take back their land, and this will be a great day for Jezreel.
Hosea 2 1So let your brothers be called "My People" and your sisters be called "Shown Mercy."

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

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