January 6 - Luke 8.1-25, Genesis 12 and Psalm 6

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Women Who Helped Jesus

Luke 8 Soon after this, Jesus was going through towns and villages, telling the good news about God's kingdom. His twelve apostles were with him, 2and so were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and all sorts of diseases. One of the women was Mary Magdalene, who once had seven demons in her. 3Joanna, Susanna, and many others had also used what they owned to help Jesus and his disciples. Joanna's husband Chuza was one of Herod's officials.

A Story about a Farmer
(Matthew 13.1-9; Mark 4.1-9)

4When a large crowd from several towns had gathered around Jesus, he told them this story:
5A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was doing it, some of the seeds fell along the road and were stepped on or eaten by birds. 6Other seeds fell on rocky ground and started growing. But the plants did not have enough water and soon dried up. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. 8The rest of the seeds fell on good ground where they grew and produced a hundred times as many seeds.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said, "If you have ears, pay attention!"

Why Jesus Used Stories
(Matthew 13.10-17; Mark 4.10-12)

9Jesus' disciples asked him what the story meant. 10So he answered:
I have explained the secrets about God's kingdom to you, but for others I can only use stories. These people look, but they don't see, and they hear, but they don't understand.

Jesus Explains the Story about a Farmer
(Matthew 13.18-23; Mark 4.13-20)

11This is what the story means: The seed is God's message, 12and the seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But the devil comes and snatches the message out of their hearts, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don't have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.
14The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they are so eager for riches and pleasures that they never produce anything. 15Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.

(Mark 4.21-25)

16No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl or under a bed. A lamp is always put on a lampstand, so that people who come into a house will see the light. 17There is nothing hidden that will not be found. There is no secret that will not be well known. 18Pay attention to how you listen! Everyone who has something will be given more, but people who have nothing will lose what little they think they have.

Jesus' Mother and Brothers
(Matthew 12.46-50; Mark 3.31-35)

19Jesus' mother and brothers went to see him, but because of the crowd they could not get near him. 20Someone told Jesus, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you."
21Jesus answered, "My mother and my brothers are those people who hear and obey God's message."

A Storm
(Matthew 8.23-27; Mark 4.35-41)

22One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat, and he said, "Let's cross the lake." They started out, 23and while they were sailing across, he went to sleep.
Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake, and the boat started sinking. They were in danger. 24So they went to Jesus and woke him up, "Master, Master! We are about to drown!"
Jesus got up and ordered the wind and waves to stop. They obeyed, and everything was calm. 25Then Jesus asked the disciples, "Don't you have any faith?"
But they were frightened and amazed. They said to each other, "Who is this? He can give orders to the wind and the waves, and they obey him!"

The LORD Chooses Abram

Genesis 12 The LORD said to Abram:
Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. 2I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. 3I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.

4-5Abram was seventy-five years old when the LORD told him to leave the city of Haran. He obeyed and left with his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all the possessions and slaves they had gotten while in Haran.
When they came to the land of Canaan, 6Abram went as far as the sacred tree of Moreh in a place called Shechem. The Canaanites were still living in the land at that time, 7but the LORD appeared to Abram and promised, "I will give this land to your family forever." Abram then built an altar there for the LORD.
8Abram traveled to the hill country east of Bethel and camped between Bethel and Ai, where he built another altar and worshiped the LORD. 9Later, Abram started out toward the Southern Desert.

Abram in Egypt

10-11The crops failed, and there was no food anywhere in the land. So Abram and his wife Sarai went to live in Egypt for a while. But just before they got there, he said, "Sarai, you are really beautiful! 12When the Egyptians see how lovely you are, they will murder me because I am your husband. But they won't kill you. 13Please save my life by saying that you are my sister."
14As soon as Abram and Sarai arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians noticed how beautiful she was. 15The king's officials told him about her, and she was taken to his house. 16The king was good to Abram because of Sarai, and Abram was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, slaves, and camels.
17Because of Sarai, the LORD struck the king and everyone in his palace with terrible diseases. 18Finally, the king sent for Abram and said to him, "What have you done to me? Why didn't you tell me Sarai was your wife? 19Why did you make me believe she was your sister? Now I've married her. Take her and go! She's your wife."
20So the king told his men to let Abram and Sarai take their possessions and leave.

Psalm 6
[A psalm by David for the music leader. Use stringed instruments. ]
A Prayer in Time of Trouble

1Don't punish me, LORD, or even correct me
when you are angry!
2Have pity on me and heal my feeble body.
My bones tremble with fear,
3and I am in deep distress.
How long will it be?

4Turn and come to my rescue.
Show your wonderful love and save me, LORD.
5If I die, I cannot praise you or even remember you.
6My groaning has worn me out.
At night my bed and pillow are soaked with tears.
7Sorrow has made my eyes dim, and my sight has failed
because of my enemies.

8You, LORD, heard my crying, and those hateful people
had better leave me alone.
9You have answered my prayer and my plea for mercy.
10My enemies will be ashamed and terrified,
as they quickly run away in complete disgrace.

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

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