February 15 - Hebrews 11.1-21, Exodus 13-14 and Proverbs 5

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The Great Faith of God's People

Hebrews 11 Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. 2It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.
3Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God's command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.
4Because Abel had faith, he offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. God was pleased with him and his gift, and even though Abel is now dead, his faith still speaks for him.
5Enoch had faith and did not die. He pleased God, and God took him up to heaven. That's why his body was never found. 6But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him.
7Because Noah had faith, he was warned about something that had not yet happened. He obeyed and built a boat that saved him and his family. In this way the people of the world were judged, and Noah was given the blessings that come to everyone who pleases God.
8Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen. 9Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise. 10Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city that God had planned and built.
11Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised, and she had a son. 12Her husband Abraham was almost dead, but he became the ancestor of many people. In fact, there are as many of them as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the beach.
13Every one of those people died. But they still had faith, even though they had not received what they had been promised. They were glad just to see these things from far away, and they agreed that they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth. 14When people talk this way, it is clear that they are looking for a place to call their own. 15If they had been talking about the land where they had once lived, they could have gone back at any time. 16But they were looking forward to a better home in heaven. That's why God wasn't ashamed for them to call him their God. He even built a city for them.
17-18Abraham had been promised that Isaac, his only son, would continue his family. But when Abraham was tested, he had faith and was willing to sacrifice Isaac, 19because he was sure that God could raise people to life. This was just like getting Isaac back from death.
20Isaac had faith, and he promised blessings to Jacob and Esau. 21Later, when Jacob was about to die, he leaned on his walking stick and worshiped. Then because of his faith he blessed each of Joseph's sons.

Dedication of the First-Born

Exodus 13 The LORD said to Moses, 2"Dedicate to me the first-born son of every family and the first-born males of your flocks and herds. These belong to me."

The Festival of Thin Bread

3-4Moses said to the people:
Remember this day in the month of Abib. It is the day when the LORD's mighty power rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. Do not eat anything made with yeast. 5The LORD promised your ancestors that he would bring you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. It is a land rich with milk and honey.
Each year during the month of Abib, celebrate these events in the following way: 6For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast, and on the seventh day you are to celebrate a festival in honor of the LORD. 7During those seven days, you must not eat anything made with yeast or even have yeast anywhere near your homes. 8Then on the seventh day you must explain to your children that you do this because the LORD brought you out of Egypt.
9This celebration will be like wearing a sign on your hand or on your forehead, because then you will pass on to others the teaching of the LORD, whose mighty power brought you out of Egypt. 10Celebrate this festival each year at the same time.
11The LORD will give you the land of the Canaanites, just as he promised you and your ancestors. 12From then on, you must give him every first-born son from your families and every first-born male from your animals, because these belong to him. 13You can save the life of a first-born donkey by sacrificing a lamb; if you don't, you must break the donkey's neck. You must save every first-born son.
14In the future your children will ask what this ceremony means. Explain it to them by saying, "The LORD used his mighty power to rescue us from slavery in Egypt. 15The king stubbornly refused to set us free, so the LORD killed the first-born male of every animal and the first-born son of every Egyptian family. This is why we sacrifice to the LORD every first-born male of every animal and save every first-born son."
16This ceremony will serve the same purpose as a sign on your hand or on your forehead to tell how the LORD's mighty power rescued us from Egypt.

The LORD Leads His People

17After the king had finally let the people go, the LORD did not lead them through Philistine territory, though that was the shortest way. God had said, "If they are attacked, they may decide to return to Egypt." 18So he led them around through the desert and toward the Red Sea.
The Israelites left Egypt, prepared for battle.
19Moses had them take along the bones of Joseph, whose dying words had been, "God will come to your rescue, and when he does, be sure to take along my bones."
20The people of Israel left Succoth and camped at Etham at the border of Egypt near the desert. 21-22During the day the LORD went ahead of his people in a thick cloud, and during the night he went ahead of them in a flaming fire. That way the LORD could lead them at all times, whether day or night.

The Israelites Cross the Red Sea

Exodus 14 At Etham the LORD said to Moses:
2Tell the people of Israel to turn back and camp across from Pi-Hahiroth near Baal-Zephon, between Migdol and the Red Sea. 3The king will think they were afraid to cross the desert and that they are wandering around, trying to find another way to leave the country. 4I will make the king stubborn again, and he will try to catch you. Then I will destroy him and his army. People everywhere will praise me for my victory, and the Egyptians will know that I really am the LORD.

The Israelites obeyed the LORD and camped where he told them.
5When the king of Egypt heard that the Israelites had finally left, he and his officials changed their minds and said, "Look what we have done! We let them get away, and they will no longer be our slaves."
6The king got his war chariot and army ready. 7He commanded his officers in charge of his six hundred best chariots and all his other chariots to start after the Israelites. 8The LORD made the king so stubborn that he went after them, even though the Israelites proudly went on their way. 9But the king's horses and chariots and soldiers caught up with them while they were camping by the Red Sea near Pi-Hahiroth and Baal-Zephon.
10When the Israelites saw the king coming with his army, they were frightened and begged the LORD for help. 11They also complained to Moses, "Wasn't there enough room in Egypt to bury us? Is that why you brought us out here to die in the desert? Why did you bring us out of Egypt anyway? 12While we were there, didn't we tell you to leave us alone? We had rather be slaves in Egypt than die in this desert!"
13But Moses answered, "Don't be afraid! Be brave, and you will see the LORD save you today. These Egyptians will never bother you again. 14The LORD will fight for you, and you won't have to do a thing."
15The LORD said to Moses, "Why do you keep calling out to me for help? Tell the Israelites to move forward. 16Then hold your walking stick over the sea. The water will open up and make a road where they can walk through on dry ground. 17I will make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will go after you. Then I will be praised because of what happens to the king and his chariots and cavalry. 18The Egyptians will know for sure that I am the LORD."
19All this time God's angel had gone ahead of Israel's army, but now he moved behind them. A large cloud had also gone ahead of them, 20but now it moved between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud gave light to the Israelites, but made it dark for the Egyptians, and during the night they could not come any closer.
21Moses stretched his arm over the sea, and the LORD sent a strong east wind that blew all night until there was dry land where the water had been. The sea opened up, 22and the Israelites walked through on dry land with a wall of water on each side.
23The Egyptian chariots and cavalry went after them. 24But before daylight the LORD looked down at the Egyptian army from the fiery cloud and made them panic. 25Their chariot wheels got stuck, and it was hard for them to move. So the Egyptians said to one another, "Let's leave these people alone! The LORD is on their side and is fighting against us."
26The LORD told Moses, "Stretch your arm toward the sea--the water will cover the Egyptians and their cavalry and chariots." 27Moses stretched out his arm, and at daybreak the water rushed toward the Egyptians. They tried to run away, but the LORD drowned them in the sea. 28The water came and covered the chariots, the cavalry, and the whole Egyptian army that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them was left alive. 29But the sea had made a wall of water on each side of the Israelites; so they walked through on dry land.
30On that day, when the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the shore, they knew that the LORD had saved them. 31Because of the mighty power he had used against the Egyptians, the Israelites worshiped him and trusted him and his servant Moses.

Be Faithful to Your Wife

Proverbs 5 My son, if you listen closely to my wisdom and good sense,
2you will have sound judgment,
and you will always know the right thing to say.
3The words of an immoral woman may be as sweet as honey
and as smooth as olive oil.
4But all that you really get from being with her
is bitter poison and pain.
5If you follow her, she will lead you down
to the world of the dead.
6She has missed the path that leads to life
and doesn't even know it.

7My son, listen to me and do everything I say.
8Stay away from a bad woman!
Don't even go near the door of her house.
9You will lose your self-respect and end up in debt
to some cruel person for the rest of your life.
10Strangers will get your money
and everything else you have worked for.
11When it's all over, your body will waste away,
as you groan 12and shout,
"I hated advice and correction!
13I paid no attention to my teachers,
14and now I am disgraced in front of everyone."

15You should be faithful to your wife,
just as you take water from your own well.
16And don't be like a stream
from which just any woman may take a drink.
17Save yourself for your wife
and don't have sex with other women.
18Be happy with the wife you married
when you were young.
19She is beautiful and graceful, just like a deer;
you should be attracted to her and stay deeply in love.

20Don't go crazy over a woman
who is unfaithful to her own husband!
21The LORD sees everything, and he watches us closely.
22Sinners are trapped and caught
by their own evil deeds.
23They get lost and die because of their foolishness
and lack of self-control.

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

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