February 7 - Hebrews 3.1-4.13, Genesis 48 and Psalm 38

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Jesus Is Greater than Moses

Hebrews 3 My friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people. So think about Jesus, the one we call our apostle and high priest! 2Jesus was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in serving all of God's people. 3But Jesus deserves more honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves more honor than the house. 4Of course, every house is built by someone, and God is really the one who built everything.
5Moses was a faithful servant and told God's people what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is the Son in charge of God's people. And we are those people, if we keep on being brave and don't lose hope.

A Rest for God's People

7It is just as the Holy Spirit says,
"If you hear God's voice today,
8don't be stubborn!
Don't rebel like those people
who were tested in the desert.
*9For forty years your ancestors tested God
and saw the things he did.

10"Then God got tired of them and said,
'You people never show good sense,
and you don't understand what I want you to do.'
11God became angry and told the people,
'You will never enter my place of rest!' "
12My friends, watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. 13You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called "today." If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. 14We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let's hold tightly to our faith until the end. 15The Scriptures say,
"If you hear his voice today,
don't be stubborn like those who rebelled."
16Who were those people that heard God's voice and rebelled? Weren't they the same ones that came out of Egypt with Moses? 17Who were the people that made God angry for forty years? Weren't they the ones that sinned and died in the desert? 18And who did God say would never enter his place of rest? Weren't they the ones that disobeyed him? 19We see that those people did not enter the place of rest because they did not have faith.
Hebrews 4 The promise to enter the place of rest is still good, and we must take care that none of you miss out. 2We have heard the message, just as they did. But they failed to believe what they heard, and the message did not do them any good. 3Only people who have faith will enter the place of rest. It is just as the Scriptures say,
"God became angry and told the people,
'You will never enter my place of rest!' "
God said this, even though everything has been ready from the time of creation. 4In fact, somewhere the Scriptures say that by the seventh day, God had finished his work, and so he rested. 5We also read that he later said, "You people will never enter my place of rest!" 6This means that the promise to enter is still good, because those who first heard about it disobeyed and did not enter. 7Much later God told David to make the promise again, just as I have already said,
"If you hear his voice today,
don't be stubborn!"
8If Joshua had really given the people rest, there would not be any need for God to talk about another day of rest. 9But God has promised us a Sabbath when we will rest, even though it has not yet come. 10On that day God's people will rest from their work, just as God rested from his work.
11We should do our best to enter that place of rest, so that none of us will disobey and miss going there, as they did. 12What God has said isn't only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts. 13Nothing is hidden from God! He sees through everything, and we will have to tell him the truth.

Jacob Blesses Joseph's Two Sons

Genesis 48 Joseph was told that his father Jacob had become very sick. So Joseph went to see him and took along his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Joseph arrived, someone told Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to see you." Jacob sat up in bed, but it took almost all his strength.
3Jacob told Joseph:
God All-Powerful appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, where he gave me his blessing 4and promised, "I will give you a large family with many descendants that will grow into a nation. And I am giving you this land that will belong to you and your family forever."

5Then Jacob went on to say:
Joseph, your two sons Ephraim and Manasseh were born in Egypt, but I accept them as my own, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6Any children you have later will be considered yours, but their inheritance will come from Ephraim and Manasseh. 7Unfortunately, your mother Rachel died in Canaan after we had left northern Syria and before we reached Bethlehem. And I had to bury her along the way.

8-10Jacob was very old and almost blind. He did not recognize the two boys, and so he asked Joseph, "Who are these boys?"
Joseph answered, "They are my sons. God has given them to me here in Egypt."
"Bring them to me," Jacob said. "I want to give them my blessing." Joseph brought the boys to him, and he hugged and kissed them.
11Jacob turned to Joseph and told him, "For many years I thought you were dead and that I would never see you again. But now God has even let me live to see your children." 12Then Joseph made his sons move away from Jacob's knees, and Joseph bowed down in front of him with his face to the ground.
13After Joseph got up, he brought his two sons over to Jacob again. He led his younger son Ephraim to the left side of Jacob and his older son Manasseh to the right. 14But before Jacob gave them his blessing, he crossed his arms, putting his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh. 15Then he gave Joseph his blessing and said:
My grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac worshiped the LORD God. He has been with me all my life, 16and his angel has kept me safe. Now I pray that he will bless these boys and that my name and the names of Abraham and Isaac will live on because of them. I ask God to give them many children and many descendants as well.

17Joseph did not like it when he saw his father place his right hand on the head of the younger son. So he tried to move his father's right hand from Ephraim's head and place it on Manasseh. 18Joseph said, "Father, you have made a mistake. This is the older boy. Put your right hand on him."
19But his father said, "Son, I know what I am doing. It's true that Manasseh's family will someday become a great nation. But Ephraim will be even greater than Manasseh, because his descendants will become many great nations."
20Jacob told him that in the future the people of Israel would ask God's blessings on one another by saying, "I pray for God to bless you as much as he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh." Jacob put Ephraim's name first to show that he would be greater than Manasseh. 21After that, Jacob said, "Joseph, you can see that I won't live much longer. But God will be with you and will lead you back to the land he promised our family long ago. 22Meanwhile, I'm giving you the hillside I captured from the Amorites."

Psalm 38
[A psalm by David to be used when an offering is made.]
A Prayer in Times of Trouble

1When you are angry, LORD, please don't punish me
or even correct me.
2You shot me with your arrows,
and you struck me with your hand.

3My body hurts all over because of your anger.
Even my bones are in pain,
and my sins 4are so heavy that I am crushed.

5Because of my foolishness, I am covered with sores
that stink and spread.
6My body is twisted and bent, and I groan all day long.
7Fever has my back in flames, and I hurt all over.
8I am worn out and weak, moaning and in distress.

9You, Lord, know every one of my deepest desires,
and my noisy groans are no secret to you.
10My heart is beating fast.
I feel weak all over, and my eyes are red.

11Because of my sickness,
no friends or neighbors will come near me.
12All who want me dead set traps to catch me,
and those who want to harm and destroy me
plan and plot all day.

13I am not able to hear or speak a word;
14I am completely deaf and can't make a sound.

15I trust you, LORD God, and you will do something.
16I said, "Don't let them laugh or brag because I slip."

17I am about to collapse from constant pain.
18I told you my sins, and I am sorry for them.
19Many deadly and powerful enemies hate me,
20and they repay evil for good because I try to do right.

21You are the LORD God!
Stay nearby and don't desert me.
22You are the one who saves me. Please hurry and help.

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

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