June 28 - Mark 9.2-50, 2 Samuel 22 and Hosea 2.2-23

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The Transfiguration
(Matthew 17.1-13; Luke 9.28-36)

Mark 9 2Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus, 3and his clothes became shining white--whiter than anyone in the world could wash them. 4Then the three disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. 5Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, "Teacher, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6He and the others were so frightened that he did not know what to say.
7Then a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and a voice came from the cloud, "This is my own dear Son--listen to him!" 8They took a quick look around but did not see anyone else; only Jesus was with them.
9As they came down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from death."
10They obeyed his order, but among themselves they started discussing the matter, "What does this 'rising from death' mean?" 11And they asked Jesus, "Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah has to come first?"
12His answer was, "Elijah is indeed coming first in order to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man will suffer much and be rejected? 13I tell you, however, that Elijah has already come and that people treated him just as they pleased, as the Scriptures say about him."

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Evil Spirit
(Matthew 17.14-21; Luke 9.37-43a)

14When they joined the rest of the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and some teachers of the Law arguing with them. 15When the people saw Jesus, they were greatly surprised, and ran to him and greeted him. 16Jesus asked his disciples, "What are you arguing with them about?"
17A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, because he has an evil spirit in him and cannot talk. 18Whenever the spirit attacks him, it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth, grits his teeth, and becomes stiff all over. I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not."
19Jesus said to them, "How unbelieving you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me!" 20They brought him to Jesus.
As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a fit, so that he fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21"How long has he been like this?" Jesus asked the father.
"Ever since he was a child," he replied. 22"Many times the evil spirit has tried to kill him by throwing him in the fire and into water. Have pity on us and help us, if you possibly can!"
23"Yes," said Jesus, "if you yourself can! Everything is possible for the person who has faith."
24The father at once cried out, "I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!"
25Jesus noticed that the crowd was closing in on them, so he gave a command to the evil spirit. "Deaf and dumb spirit," he said, "I order you to come out of the boy and never go into him again!"
26The spirit screamed, threw the boy into a bad fit, and came out. The boy looked like a corpse, and everyone said, "He is dead!" 27But Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him rise, and he stood up.
28After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive the spirit out?"
29"Only prayer can drive this kind out," answered Jesus; "nothing else can."

Jesus Speaks Again about His Death
(Matthew 17.22, 23; Luke 9.43b-45)

30Jesus and his disciples left that place and went on through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where he was, 31because he was teaching his disciples: "The Son of Man will be handed over to those who will kill him. Three days later, however, he will rise to life."
32But they did not understand what this teaching meant, and they were afraid to ask him.

Who Is the Greatest?
(Matthew 18.1-5; Luke 9.46-48)

33They came to Capernaum, and after going indoors Jesus asked his disciples, "What were you arguing about on the road?"
34But they would not answer him, because on the road they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. 35Jesus sat down, called the twelve disciples, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all." 36Then he took a child and had him stand in front of them. He put his arms around him and said to them, 37"Whoever welcomes in my name one of these children, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not only me but also the one who sent me."

Whoever Is Not against Us Is for Us
(Luke 9.49, 50)

38John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn't belong to our group."
39"Do not try to stop him," Jesus told them, "because no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say evil things about me. 40For whoever is not against us is for us. 41I assure you that anyone who gives you a drink of water because you belong to me will certainly receive a reward.

Temptations to Sin
(Matthew 18.6-9; Luke 17.1, 2)

42"If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around the neck and be thrown into the sea. 43So if your hand makes you lose your faith, cut it off ! It is better for you to enter life without a hand than to keep both hands and go off to hell, to the fire that never goes out. 45And if your foot makes you lose your faith, cut it off ! It is better for you to enter life without a foot than to keep both feet and be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out! It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into hell. 48There 'the worms that eat them never die, and the fire that burns them is never put out.'
49"Everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified by salt.
50"Salt is good; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?
"Have the salt of friendship among yourselves, and live in peace with one another."

David's Song of Victory
(Psalm 18)

2 Samuel 22 When the LORD saved David from Saul and his other enemies, David sang this song to the LORD:

2The LORD is my protector;
he is my strong fortress.
3My God is my protection,
and with him I am safe.
He protects me like a shield;
he defends me and keeps me safe.
He is my savior;
he protects me and saves me from violence.
4I call to the LORD,
and he saves me from my enemies.
Praise the LORD!

5The waves of death were all around me;
the waves of destruction rolled over me.
6The danger of death was around me,
and the grave set its trap for me.
7In my trouble I called to the LORD;
I called to my God for help.
In his temple he heard my voice;
he listened to my cry for help.

8Then the earth trembled and shook;
the foundations of the sky rocked and quivered
because God was angry!
9Smoke poured out of his nostrils,
a consuming flame and burning coals from his mouth.
10He tore the sky open and came down,
with a dark cloud under his feet.
11He flew swiftly on his winged creature;
he traveled on the wings of the wind.
12He covered himself with darkness;
thick clouds, full of water, surrounded him;
13 burning coals flamed up from the lightning before him.

14Then the LORD thundered from the sky,
and the voice of Almighty God was heard.
15He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies;
with flashes of lightning he sent them running.
16The floor of the ocean was laid bare,
and the foundations of the earth were uncovered
when the LORD rebuked his enemies
and roared at them in anger.

17The LORD reached down from above and took hold of me;
he pulled me out of the deep waters.
18He rescued me from my powerful enemies
and from all those who hate me--
they were too strong for me.
19When I was in trouble, they attacked me,
but the LORD protected me.
20He helped me out of danger;
he saved me because he was pleased with me.

21The LORD rewards me because I do what is right;
he blesses me because I am innocent.
22I have obeyed the law of the LORD;
I have not turned away from my God.
23I have observed all his laws;
I have not disobeyed his commands.
24He knows that I am faultless,
that I have kept myself from doing wrong.
25And so he rewards me because I do what is right,
because he knows that I am innocent.

26O LORD, you are faithful to those who are faithful to you,
and completely good to those who are perfect.
27You are pure to those who are pure,
but hostile to those who are wicked.
28You save those who are humble,
but you humble those who are proud.

29You, LORD, are my light;
you dispel my darkness.
30You give me strength to attack my enemies
and power to overcome their defenses.

31This God--how perfect are his deeds,
how dependable his words!
He is like a shield
for all who seek his protection.
32The LORD alone is God;
God alone is our defense.
33This God is my strong refuge;
he makes my pathway safe.
34He makes me sure-footed as a deer;
he keeps me safe on the mountains.
35He trains me for battle,
so that I can use the strongest bow.

36O LORD, you protect me and save me;
your help has made me great.
37You have kept me from being captured,
and I have never fallen.
38I pursue my enemies and defeat them;
I do not stop until I destroy them.
39I strike them down, and they cannot rise;
they lie defeated before me.
40You give me strength for the battle
and victory over my enemies.
41You make my enemies run from me;
I destroy those who hate me.
42They look for help, but no one saves them;
they call to the LORD, but he does not answer.
43I crush them, and they become like dust;
I trample on them like mud in the streets.

44You saved me from my rebellious people
and maintained my rule over the nations;
people I did not know have now become my subjects.
45Foreigners bow before me;
when they hear me, they obey.
46They lose their courage
and come trembling from their fortresses.

47The LORD lives! Praise my defender!
Proclaim the greatness of the strong God who saves me!
48He gives me victory over my enemies;
he subdues the nations under me
49 and saves me from my foes.

O LORD, you give me victory over my enemies
and protect me from violent men.
50And so I praise you among the nations;
I sing praises to you.
51God gives great victories to his king;
he shows constant love to the one he has chosen,
to David and his descendants forever.

Unfaithful Gomer--Unfaithful Israel

Hosea 2 2My children, plead with your mother--though she is no longer a wife to me, and I am no longer her husband. Plead with her to stop her adultery and prostitution. 3If she does not, I will strip her as naked as she was on the day she was born. I will make her like a dry and barren land, and she will die of thirst. 4-5I will not show mercy to her children; they are the children of a shameless prostitute. She herself said, "I will go to my lovers--they give me food and water, wool and linen, olive oil and wine."
6So I am going to fence her in with thorn bushes and build a wall to block her way. 7She will run after her lovers but will not catch them. She will look for them but will not find them. Then she will say, "I am going back to my first husband--I was better off then than I am now."
8She would never acknowledge that I am the one who gave her the grain, the wine, the olive oil, and all the silver and gold that she used in the worship of Baal. 9So at harvest time I will take back my gifts of grain and wine, and will take away the wool and the linen I gave her for clothing. 10I will strip her naked in front of her lovers, and no one will be able to save her from my power. 11I will put an end to all her festivities--her annual and monthly festivals and her Sabbath celebrations--all her religious meetings. 12I will destroy her grapevines and her fig trees, which she said her lovers gave her for serving them. I will turn her vineyards and orchards into a wilderness; wild animals will destroy them. 13I will punish her for the times that she forgot me, when she burned incense to Baal and put on her jewelry to go chasing after her lovers. The LORD has spoken.

The LORD's Love for His People

14So I am going to take her into the desert again; there I will win her back with words of love. 15I will give back to her the vineyards she had and make Trouble Valley a door of hope. She will respond to me there as she did when she was young, when she came from Egypt. 16Then once again she will call me her husband--she will no longer call me her Baal. 17I will never let her speak the name of Baal again.
18At that time I will make a covenant with all the wild animals and birds, so that they will not harm my people. I will also remove all weapons of war from the land, all swords and bows, and will let my people live in peace and safety.

19Israel, I will make you my wife;
I will be true and faithful;
I will show you constant love and mercy
and make you mine forever.
20I will keep my promise and make you mine,
and you will acknowledge me as LORD.
21-22At that time I will answer the prayers of my people Israel.
I will make rain fall on the earth,
and the earth will produce grain and grapes and olives.
23I will establish my people in the land and make them prosper.
I will show love to those who were called "Unloved,"
and to those who were called "Not-My-People"
I will say, "You are my people,"
and they will answer, "You are our God."

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

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