February 23 - Matthew 5.1-20, Exodus 28-29 and Proverbs 13

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The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the side of a mountain and sat down.

(Luke 6.20-23)

Jesus' disciples gathered around him, 2and he taught them:
3God blesses those people who depend only on him.
They belong to the kingdom of heaven!
4God blesses those people who grieve.
They will find comfort!
5God blesses those people who are humble.
The earth will belong to them!
6God blesses those people who want to obey him
more than to eat or drink.
They will be given what they want!
7God blesses those people who are merciful.
They will be treated with mercy!
8God blesses those people whose hearts are pure.
They will see him!
9God blesses those people who make peace.
They will be called his children!
10God blesses those people
who are treated badly for doing right.
They belong to the kingdom of heaven.
11God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. 12Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.

Salt and Light
(Mark 9.50; Luke 14.34, 35)

13You are like salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.
14You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, 15and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. 16Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.

The Law of Moses

17Don't suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. 18Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen.
19If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom. 20You must obey God's commands better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law obey them. If you don't, I promise you that you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

The Clothes for the High Priest
(Exodus 39.1-7)

The LORD said to Moses:
Exodus 28 Send for your brother Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. They are the ones I have chosen from Israel to serve as my priests. 2Make Aaron some beautiful clothes that are worthy of a high priest. 3Aaron is to be dedicated as my high priest, and his clothes must be made only by persons who possess skills that I have given them. 4Here are the items that need to be made: a breastpiece, a priestly vest, a robe, an embroidered shirt, a turban, and a sash. These sacred clothes are to be made for your brother Aaron and his sons who will be my priests. 5Only gold and fine linen, woven with blue, purple, and red wool, are to be used for making these clothes.

The Vest for the High Priest
(Exodus 39.2-7)

The LORD said:
6-8The entire priestly vest must be made of fine linen skillfully woven with blue, purple, and red wool, and decorated with gold. It is to have two shoulder straps to support it and a sash that fastens around the waist.
9-12Put two onyx stones in gold settings, then attach one to each of the shoulder straps. On one of these stones engrave the names of Israel's first six sons in the order of their birth. And do the same with his remaining six sons on the other stone. In this way Aaron will always carry the names of the tribes of Israel when he enters the holy place, and I will never forget my people.
13-14Attach two gold settings to the shoulder straps and fasten them with two braided chains of pure gold.

The Breastpiece for the High Priest
(Exodus 39.8-21)

The LORD said:
15From the same costly material make a breastpiece for the high priest to use in learning what I want my people to do. 16It is to be nine inches square and folded double 17with four rows of three precious stones: In the first row put a carnelian, a chrysolite, and an emerald; 18in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19in the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20and in the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. Mount the stones in delicate gold settings 21and engrave on each of them the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
22-25Attach two gold rings to the upper front corners of the breastpiece and fasten them with two braided gold chains to gold settings on the shoulder straps. 26Attach two other gold rings to the lower inside corners next to the vest 27and two more near the bottom of the shoulder straps right above the sash. 28Then take a blue cord and tie the two lower rings on the breastpiece to those on the vest. This will keep the breastpiece in place.
29In this way Aaron will have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on his heart each time he enters the holy place, and I will never forget my people. 30He must also wear on his breastpiece the two small objects that he uses to receive answers from me.

The Other High-Priestly Clothes
(Exodus 39.22-26, 30, 31)

The LORD said:
31Under his vest Aaron must wear a robe of blue wool 32with an opening in the center for his head. Be sure to bind the material around the collar to keep it from raveling. 33-34Along the hem of the robe weave pomegranates of blue, purple, and red wool with a gold bell between each of them. 35If Aaron wears these clothes when he enters the holy place as my high priest, the sound of the bells will be heard, and his life will not be in danger.
36On a narrow strip of pure gold engrave the words: "Dedicated to the LORD." 37Fasten it to the front of Aaron's turban with a blue cord, 38so he can wear it on his forehead. This will show that he will take on himself the guilt for any sins the people of Israel commit in offering their gifts to me, and I will forgive them.
39Make Aaron's robe and turban of fine linen and decorate his sash with fancy needlework.

The Clothes for the Other Priests
(Exodus 39.27-29)

40Since Aaron's sons are priests, they should also look dignified. So make robes, sashes, and special caps for them. 41Then dress Aaron and his sons in these clothes, pour olive oil on their heads, and ordain them as my priests.
42Make linen shorts for them that reach from the waist down to the thigh, so they won't expose themselves. 43Whenever they enter the sacred tent or serve at the altar or enter the holy place, they must wear these shorts, or else they will be guilty and die. This same rule applies to any of their descendants who serve as priests.

Instructions for Ordaining Priests
(Leviticus 8.1-36)

The LORD said to Moses:
Exodus 29 When you ordain one of Aaron's sons as my priest, choose a young bull and two rams that have nothing wrong with them. 2Then from your finest flour make three batches of dough without yeast. Shape some of it into larger loaves, some into smaller loaves mixed with olive oil, and the rest into thin wafers brushed with oil. 3Put all of this bread in a basket and bring it when you come to sacrifice the three animals to me.
4Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the sacred tent and have them wash themselves. 5Dress Aaron in the priestly shirt, the robe that goes under the sacred vest, the vest itself, the breastpiece, and the sash. 6Put on his turban with its narrow strip of engraved gold 7and then ordain him by pouring olive oil on his head.
8Next, dress Aaron's sons in their special shirts 9and caps and their sashes, then ordain them, because they and their descendants will always be priests.
10Lead the bull to the entrance of the sacred tent, where Aaron and his sons will lay their hands on its head. 11Kill the bull near my altar in front of the tent. 12Use a finger to smear some of its blood on each of the four corners of the altar and pour out the rest of the blood on the ground next to the altar. 13Then take the fat from the animal's insides, as well as the lower part of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat, and send them up in smoke on the altar. 14But the meat, the skin, and the food still in the bull's stomach must be burned outside the camp as an offering to ask forgiveness for the sins of the priests.
15Bring one of the rams to Aaron and his sons and have them lay their hands on its head. 16Kill the ram and splatter its blood against all four sides of the altar. 17Cut up the ram, wash its insides and legs, and lay all of its parts on the altar, including the head. 18Then make sure that the whole animal goes up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.
19Bring the other ram to Aaron and his sons and have them lay their hands on its head. 20Kill the ram and place some of its blood on Aaron's right ear lobe, his right thumb, and the big toe of his right foot. Do the same for each of his sons and splatter the rest of the blood against the four sides of the altar. 21Then take some of the blood from the altar, mix it with the oil used for ordination, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his clothes, and also on his sons and their clothes. This will show that they and their clothes have been dedicated to me.
22This ram is part of the ordination service. So remove its right hind leg, its fat tail, the fat on its insides, as well as the lower part of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat. 23Take one loaf of each kind of bread from the basket, 24and put this bread, together with the meat, into the hands of Aaron and his sons. Then they will lift it all up to show that it is dedicated to me. 25After this, the meat and bread are to be placed on the altar and sent up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.
26You may eat the choice ribs from this second ram, but you must first lift them up to show that this meat is dedicated to me.
27-28In the future, when anyone from Israel offers the ribs and a hind leg of a ram either to ordain a priest or to ask for my blessing, the meat belongs to me, but it may be eaten by the priests. This law will never change.
29-30After Aaron's death, his priestly clothes are to be handed down to each descendant who succeeds him as high priest, and these clothes must be worn during the seven-day ceremony of ordination.
31Boil the meat of the ordination ram in a sacred place, 32then have Aaron and his sons eat it together with the three kinds of bread at the entrance to the sacred tent. 33At their ordination, a ceremony of forgiveness was performed for them with this sacred food, and only they have the right to eat it. 34If any of the sacred food is left until morning, it must be burned up.
35Repeat this ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons seven days in a row, just as I have instructed you. 36Each day you must offer a bull as a sacrifice for sin and as a way of purifying the altar. In addition, you must smear the altar with olive oil to make it completely holy. 37Do this for seven days, and the altar will become so holy that anyone who touches it will become holy.

Daily Sacrifices
(Leviticus 6.8-13; Numbers 28.1-8)

The LORD said:
38Each day you must sacrifice two lambs a year old, 39one in the morning and one in the evening. 40-41With each lamb offer two pounds of your finest flour mixed with a quart of pure olive oil, and also pour out a quart of wine as an offering. The smell of this sacrifice on the fires of the altar will be pleasing to me. 42-43You and your descendants must always offer this sacrifice on the altar at the entrance to the sacred tent.
People of Israel, I will meet and speak with you there, and my shining glory will make the place holy. 44Because of who I am, the tent will become sacred, and Aaron and his sons will become worthy to serve as my priests. 45I will live among you as your God, 46and you will know that I am the LORD your God, the one who rescued you from Egypt, so that I could live among you.

Wise Friends Make You Wise

Proverbs 13 Children with good sense
accept correction from their parents,
but stubborn children ignore it completely.
2You will be well rewarded for saying something kind,
but all some people think about
is how to be cruel and mean.
3Keep what you know to yourself, and you will be safe;
talk too much, and you are done for.
4No matter how much you want, laziness won't help a bit,
but hard work will reward you with more than enough.
5A good person hates deceit,
but those who are evil cause shame and disgrace.
6Live right, and you are safe! But sin will destroy you.

7Some who have nothing may pretend to be rich,
and some who have everything may pretend to be poor.
8The rich may have to pay a ransom,
but the poor don't have that problem.
9The lamp of a good person keeps on shining;
the lamp of an evil person soon goes out.
10Too much pride causes trouble.
Be sensible and take advice.

11Money wrongly gotten will disappear bit by bit;
money earned little by little will grow and grow.
12Not getting what you want can make you feel sick,
but a wish that comes true is a life-giving tree.
13If you reject God's teaching, you will pay the price;
if you obey his commands, you will be rewarded.

14Sensible instruction is a life-giving fountain
that helps you escape all deadly traps.
15Sound judgment is praised,
but people without good sense are on the way to disaster.
16If you have good sense, you will act sensibly,
but fools act like fools.
17Whoever delivers your message
can make things better or worse for you.

18All who refuse correction will be poor and disgraced;
all who accept correction will be praised.
19It's a good feeling to get what you want,
but only a stupid fool hates to turn from evil.
20Wise friends make you wise,
but you hurt yourself by going around with fools.
21You are in for trouble if you sin,
but you will be rewarded if you live right.
22If you obey God,
you will have something to leave your grandchildren.
If you don't obey God,
those who live right will get what you leave.

23Even when the land of the poor produces good crops,
they get cheated out of what they grow.
24If you love your children, you will correct them;
if you don't love them, you won't correct them.
25If you live right, you will have plenty to eat;
if you don't live right, you will go away empty.

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

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