February 18 - Hebrews 13, Exodus 18-19 and Proverbs 8
How to Please GodHebrews 13 Keep on loving one another as Christians. 2Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them. Remember those who are suffering, as though you were suffering as they are.
4Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
5Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you." 6Let us be bold, then, and say,
"The Lord is my helper,
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?"
7Remember your former leaders, who spoke God's message to you. Think back on how they lived and died, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way. It is good to receive inner strength from God's grace, and not by obeying rules about foods; those who obey these rules have not been helped by them.
10The priests who serve in the Jewish place of worship have no right to eat any of the sacrifice on our altar. 11The Jewish high priest brings the blood of the animals into the Most Holy Place to offer it as a sacrifice for sins; but the bodies of the animals are burned outside the camp. 12For this reason Jesus also died outside the city, in order to purify the people from sin with his own blood. 13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp and share his shame. 14For there is no permanent city for us here on earth; we are looking for the city which is to come. 15Let us, then, always offer praise to God as our sacrifice through Jesus, which is the offering presented by lips that confess him as Lord. 16Do not forget to do good and to help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God.
17Obey your leaders and follow their orders. They watch over your souls without resting, since they must give to God an account of their service. If you obey them, they will do their work gladly; if not, they will do it with sadness, and that would be of no help to you.
18Keep on praying for us. We are sure we have a clear conscience, because we want to do the right thing at all times. 19And I beg you even more earnestly to pray that God will send me back to you soon.
Closing Prayer20-21God has raised from death our Lord Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd of the sheep as the result of his blood, by which the eternal covenant is sealed. May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will, and may he, through Jesus Christ, do in us what pleases him. And to Christ be the glory forever and ever! Amen.
Final Words22I beg you, my friends, to listen patiently to this message of encouragement; for this letter I have written you is not very long. 23I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been let out of prison. If he comes soon enough, I will have him with me when I see you.
24Give our greetings to all your leaders and to all God's people. The believers from Italy send you their greetings.
25May God's grace be with you all.
Jethro Visits MosesExodus 18 Moses' father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and the people of Israel when he led them out of Egypt. 2So he came to Moses, bringing with him Moses' wife Zipporah, who had been left behind, 3and Gershom and Eliezer, her two sons. (Moses had said, "I have been a foreigner in a strange land"; so he had named one son Gershom. 4He had also said, "The God of my father helped me and saved me from being killed by the king of Egypt"; so he had named the other son Eliezer.) 5Jethro came with Moses' wife and her two sons into the desert where Moses was camped at the holy mountain. 6He had sent word to Moses that they were coming, 7so Moses went out to meet him, bowed before him, and kissed him. They asked about each other's health and then went into Moses' tent. 8Moses told Jethro everything that the LORD had done to the king and the people of Egypt in order to rescue the Israelites. He also told him about the hardships the people had faced on the way and how the LORD had saved them. 9When Jethro heard all this, he was happy 10and said, "Praise the LORD, who saved you from the king and the people of Egypt! Praise the LORD, who saved his people from slavery! 11Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods, because he did this when the Egyptians treated the Israelites with such contempt." 12Then Jethro brought an offering to be burned whole and other sacrifices to be offered to God; and Aaron and all the leaders of Israel went with him to eat the sacred meal as an act of worship.
The Appointment of Judges
15Moses answered, "I must do this because the people come to me to learn God's will. 16When two people have a dispute, they come to me, and I decide which one of them is right, and I tell them God's commands and laws."
17Then Jethro said, "You are not doing this right. 18You will wear yourself out and these people as well. This is too much for you to do alone. 19Now let me give you some good advice, and God will be with you. It is right for you to represent the people before God and bring their disputes to him. 20You should teach them God's commands and explain to them how they should live and what they should do. 21But in addition, you should choose some capable men and appoint them as leaders of the people: leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They must be God-fearing men who can be trusted and who cannot be bribed. 22Let them serve as judges for the people on a permanent basis. They can bring all the difficult cases to you, but they themselves can decide all the smaller disputes. That will make it easier for you, as they share your burden. 23If you do this, as God commands, you will not wear yourself out, and all these people can go home with their disputes settled."
24Moses took Jethro's advice 25and chose capable men from among all the Israelites. He appointed them as leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26They served as judges for the people on a permanent basis, bringing the difficult cases to Moses but deciding the smaller disputes themselves.
27Then Moses said good-bye to Jethro, and Jethro went back home.
The Israelites at Mount SinaiExodus 19 1-2The people of Israel left Rephidim, and on the first day of the third month after they had left Egypt they came to the desert of Sinai. There they set up camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, 3and Moses went up the mountain to meet with God.
The LORD called to him from the mountain and told him to say to the Israelites, Jacob's descendants: 4"You saw what I, the LORD, did to the Egyptians and how I carried you as an eagle carries her young on her wings, and brought you here to me. 5Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people. The whole earth is mine, but you will be my chosen people, 6a people dedicated to me alone, and you will serve me as priests." 7So Moses went down and called the leaders of the people together and told them everything that the LORD had commanded him. 8Then all the people answered together, "We will do everything that the LORD has said," and Moses reported this to the LORD.
9The LORD said to Moses, "I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will believe you from now on."
Moses told the LORD what the people had answered, 10and the LORD said to him, "Go to the people and tell them to spend today and tomorrow purifying themselves for worship. They must wash their clothes 11and be ready the day after tomorrow. On that day I will come down on Mount Sinai, where all the people can see me. 12Mark a boundary around the mountain that the people must not cross, and tell them not to go up the mountain or even get near it. If any of you set foot on it, you are to be put to death; 13you must either be stoned or shot with arrows, without anyone touching you. This applies to both people and animals; they must be put to death. But when the trumpet is blown, then the people are to go up to the mountain."
14Then Moses came down the mountain and told the people to get ready for worship. So they washed their clothes, 15and Moses told them, "Be ready by the day after tomorrow and don't have sexual intercourse in the meantime."
16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud appeared on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast was heard. All the people in the camp trembled with fear. 17Moses led them out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD had come down on it in fire. The smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the people trembled violently. 19The sound of the trumpet became louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. 20The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses went up 21and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people not to cross the boundary to come and look at me; if they do, many of them will die. 22Even the priests who come near me must purify themselves, or I will punish them."
23Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up, because you commanded us to consider the mountain sacred and to mark a boundary around it."
24The LORD replied, "Go down and bring Aaron back with you. But the priests and the people must not cross the boundary to come up to me, or I will punish them." 25Moses then went down to the people and told them what the LORD had said.
In Praise of WisdomProverbs 8 Listen! Wisdom is calling out.
Reason is making herself heard.
2On the hilltops near the road
and at the crossroads she stands.
3At the entrance to the city,
beside the gates, she calls:
4"I appeal to all of you;
I call to everyone on earth.
5Are you immature? Learn to be mature.
Are you foolish? Learn to have sense.
6Listen to my excellent words;
all I tell you is right.
7What I say is the truth;
lies are hateful to me.
8Everything I say is true;
nothing is false or misleading.
9To those with insight, it is all clear;
to the well-informed, it is all plain.
10Choose my instruction instead of silver;
choose knowledge rather than the finest gold.
11"I am Wisdom, I am better than jewels;
nothing you want can compare with me.
12I am Wisdom, and I have insight;
I have knowledge and sound judgment.
13To honor the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil ways and false words.
14I make plans and carry them out.
I have understanding, and I am strong.
15I help kings to govern
and rulers to make good laws.
16Every ruler on earth governs with my help,
officials and nobles alike.
17I love those who love me;
whoever looks for me can find me.
18I have riches and honor to give,
prosperity and success.
19What you get from me is better than the finest gold,
better than the purest silver.
20I walk the way of righteousness;
I follow the paths of justice,
21giving wealth to those who love me,
filling their houses with treasures.
22"The LORD created me first of all,
the first of his works, long ago.
23I was made in the very beginning,
at the first, before the world began.
24I was born before the oceans,
when there were no springs of water.
25I was born before the mountains,
before the hills were set in place,
26before God made the earth and its fields
or even the first handful of soil.
27I was there when he set the sky in place,
when he stretched the horizon across the ocean,
28when he placed the clouds in the sky,
when he opened the springs of the ocean
29and ordered the waters of the sea
to rise no further than he said.
I was there when he laid the earth's foundations.
30I was beside him like an architect,
I was his daily source of joy,
always happy in his presence--
31happy with the world
and pleased with the human race.
32"Now, young people, listen to me.
Do as I say, and you will be happy.
33Listen to what you are taught.
Be wise; do not neglect it.
34Those who listen to me will be happy--
those who stay at my door every day,
waiting at the entrance to my home.
35Those who find me find life,
and the LORD will be pleased with them.
36Those who do not find me hurt themselves;
anyone who hates me loves death."
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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