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

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The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5 Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2and he began to teach them:

True Happiness
(Luke 6.20-23)

3"Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor;
the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
4"Happy are those who mourn;
God will comfort them!
5"Happy are those who are humble;
they will receive what God has promised!
6"Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;
God will satisfy them fully!
7"Happy are those who are merciful to others;
God will be merciful to them!
8"Happy are the pure in heart;
they will see God!
9"Happy are those who work for peace;
God will call them his children!
10"Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires;
the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
11"Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.

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

13"You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.
14"You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. 16In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Teaching about the Law

17"Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. 18Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with--not until the end of all things. 19So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven. 20I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.

Garments for the Priests
(Exodus 39.1-7)

Exodus 28 "Summon your brother Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Separate them from the people of Israel, so that they may serve me as priests. 2Make priestly garments for your brother Aaron, to provide him with dignity and beauty. 3Call all the skilled workers to whom I have given ability, and tell them to make Aaron's clothes, so that he may be dedicated as a priest in my service. 4Tell them to make a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, an embroidered shirt, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these priestly garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so that they can serve me as priests. 5The skilled workers are to use blue, purple, and red wool, gold thread, and fine linen.
6"They are to make the ephod of blue, purple, and red wool, gold thread, and fine linen, decorated with embroidery. 7Two shoulder straps, by which it can be fastened, are to be attached to the sides. 8A finely woven belt made of the same materials is to be attached to the ephod so as to form one piece with it. 9Take two carnelian stones and engrave on them the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, 10in the order of their birth, with six on one stone and six on the other. 11Have a skillful jeweler engrave on the two stones the names of the sons of Jacob, and mount the stones in gold settings. 12Put them on the shoulder straps of the ephod to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. In this way Aaron will carry their names on his shoulders, so that I, the LORD, will always remember my people. 13Make two gold settings 14and two chains of pure gold twisted like cords, and attach them to the settings.

The Breastpiece
(Exodus 39.8-21)

15"Make a breastpiece for the High Priest to use in determining God's will. It is to be made of the same materials as the ephod and with similar embroidery. 16It is to be square and folded double, 9 inches long and 9 inches wide. 17Mount four rows of precious stones on it; in the first row mount a ruby, a topaz, and a garnet; 18in the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19in the third row, a turquoise, an agate, and an amethyst; 20and in the fourth row, a beryl, a carnelian, and a jasper. These are to be mounted in gold settings. 21Each of these twelve stones is to have engraved on it the name of one of the sons of Jacob, to represent the tribes of Israel. 22For the breastpiece make chains of pure gold, twisted like cords. 23Make two gold rings and attach them to the upper corners of the breastpiece, 24and fasten the two gold cords to the two rings. 25Fasten the other two ends of the cords to the two settings, and in this way attach them in front to the shoulder straps of the ephod. 26Then make two rings of gold and attach them to the lower corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 27Make two more gold rings and attach them to the lower part of the front of the two shoulder straps of the ephod, near the seam and above the finely woven belt. 28Tie the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that the breastpiece rests above the belt and does not come loose.
29"When Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will wear this breastpiece engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, so that I, the LORD, will always remember my people. 30Put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece, so that Aaron will carry them when he comes into my holy presence. At such times he must always wear this breastpiece, so that he can determine my will for the people of Israel.

The Other Priestly Garments
(Exodus 39.22-31)

31"The robe that goes under the ephod is to be made entirely of blue wool. 32It is to have a hole for the head, and this hole is to be reinforced with a woven binding to keep it from tearing. 33-34All around its lower hem put pomegranates of blue, purple, and red wool, alternating with gold bells. 35Aaron is to wear this robe when he serves as priest. When he comes into my presence in the Holy Place or when he leaves it, the sound of the bells will be heard, and he will not be killed.
36"Make an ornament of pure gold and engrave on it 'Dedicated to the LORD.' 37Tie it to the front of the turban with a blue cord. 38Aaron is to wear it on his forehead, so that I, the LORD, will accept all the offerings that the Israelites dedicate to me, even if the people commit some error in offering them.
39"Weave Aaron's shirt of fine linen and make a turban of fine linen and also a sash decorated with embroidery.
40"Make shirts, sashes, and caps for Aaron's sons, to provide them with dignity and beauty. 41Put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons. Then ordain them and dedicate them by anointing them with olive oil, so that they may serve me as priests. 42Make linen shorts for them, reaching from the waist to the thighs, so that they will not expose themselves. 43Aaron and his sons must always wear them when they go into the Tent of my presence or approach the altar to serve as priests in the Holy Place, so that they will not be killed for exposing themselves. This is a permanent rule for Aaron and his descendants.

Instructions for Ordaining Aaron and His Sons as Priests
(Leviticus 8.1-36)

Exodus 29 "This is what you are to do to Aaron and his sons to dedicate them as priests in my service. Take one young bull and two rams without any defects. 2Use the best wheat flour, but no yeast, and make some bread with olive oil, some without it, and some in the form of thin cakes brushed with oil. 3Put them in a basket and offer them to me when you sacrifice the bull and the two rams.
4"Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the Tent of my presence, and have them take a ritual bath. 5Then dress Aaron in the priestly garments--the shirt, the robe that goes under the ephod, the ephod, the breastpiece, and the belt. 6Put the turban on him and tie on it the sacred sign of dedication engraved 'Dedicated to the LORD.' 7Then take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him.
8"Bring his sons and put shirts on them; 9put sashes around their waists and tie caps on their heads. That is how you are to ordain Aaron and his sons. They and their descendants are to serve me as priests forever.
10"Bring the bull to the front of the Tent of my presence and tell Aaron and his sons to put their hands on its head. 11Kill the bull there in my holy presence at the entrance of the Tent. 12Take some of the bull's blood and with your finger put it on the projections of the altar. Then pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. 13Next, take all the fat which covers the internal organs, the best part of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar as an offering to me. 14But burn the bull's flesh, its skin, and its intestines outside the camp. This is an offering to take away the sins of the priests.
15"Take one of the rams and tell Aaron and his sons to put their hands on its head. 16Kill it, and take its blood and throw it against all four sides of the altar. 17Cut the ram in pieces; wash its internal organs and its hind legs, and put them on top of the head and the other pieces. 18Burn the whole ram on the altar as a food offering. The odor of this offering pleases me.
19"Take the other ram--the ram used for dedication--and tell Aaron and his sons to put their hands on its head. 20Kill it, and take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. Throw the rest of the blood against all four sides of the altar. 21Take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his clothes and on his sons and their clothes. He, his sons, and their clothes will then be dedicated to me.
22"Cut away the ram's fat, the fat tail, the fat covering the internal organs, the best part of the liver, the two kidneys with the fat on them, and the right thigh. 23From the basket of bread which has been offered to me, take one loaf of each kind: one loaf made with olive oil and one made without it and one thin cake. 24Put all this food in the hands of Aaron and his sons and have them dedicate it to me as a special gift. 25Then take it from them and burn it on the altar, on top of the burnt offering, as a food offering to me. The odor of this offering pleases me.
26"Take the breast of this ram and dedicate it to me as a special gift. This part of the animal will be yours.
27"When a priest is ordained, the breast and the thigh of the ram being used for the ordination are to be dedicated to me as a special gift and set aside for the priests. 28It is my unchanging decision that when my people make their fellowship offerings, the breast and the thigh of the animal belong to the priests. This is the people's gift to me, the LORD.
29"Aaron's priestly garments are to be handed on to his sons after his death, for them to wear when they are ordained. 30The son of Aaron who succeeds him as priest and who goes into the Tent of my presence to serve in the Holy Place is to wear these garments for seven days.
31"Take the meat of the ram used for the ordination of Aaron and his sons and boil it in a holy place. 32At the entrance of the Tent of my presence they are to eat it along with the bread left in the basket. 33They shall eat what was used in the ritual of forgiveness at their ordination. Only priests may eat this food, because it is sacred. 34If some of the meat or some of the bread is not eaten by morning, it is to be burned; it is not to be eaten, for it is sacred.
35"Perform the rites of ordination for Aaron and his sons for seven days exactly as I have commanded you. 36Each day you must offer a bull as a sacrifice, so that sin may be forgiven. This will purify the altar. Then anoint it with olive oil to make it holy. 37Do this every day for seven days. Then the altar will be completely holy, and anyone or anything that touches it will be harmed by the power of its holiness.

The Daily Offerings
(Numbers 28.1-8)

38"Every day for all time to come, sacrifice on the altar two one-year-old lambs. 39Sacrifice one of the lambs in the morning and the other in the evening. 40With the first lamb offer two pounds of fine wheat flour mixed with one quart of pure olive oil. Pour out one quart of wine as an offering. 41Sacrifice the second lamb in the evening, and offer with it the same amounts of flour, olive oil, and wine as in the morning. This is a food offering to me, the LORD, and its odor pleases me. 42For all time to come, this burnt offering is to be offered in my presence at the entrance of the Tent of my presence. That is where I will meet my people and speak to you. 43There I will meet the people of Israel, and the dazzling light of my presence will make the place holy. 44I will make the Tent and the altar holy, and I will set Aaron and his sons apart to serve me as priests. 45I will live among the people of Israel, and I will be their God. 46They will know that I am the LORD their God who brought them out of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the LORD their God.

Proverbs 13 Wise children pay attention when their parents correct them, but arrogant people never admit they are wrong.
2Good people will be rewarded for what they say, but those who are deceitful are hungry for violence.
3Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself.
4No matter how much a lazy person may want something, he will never get it. A hard worker will get everything he wants.
5Honest people hate lies, but the words of wicked people are shameful and disgraceful.
6Righteousness protects the innocent; wickedness is the downfall of sinners.
7Some people pretend to be rich, but have nothing. Others pretend to be poor, but own a fortune.
8The rich have to use their money to save their lives, but no one threatens the poor.
9The righteous are like a light shining brightly; the wicked are like a lamp flickering out.
10Arrogance causes nothing but trouble. It is wiser to ask for advice.
11The more easily you get your wealth, the sooner you will lose it. The harder it is to earn, the more you will have.
12When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed, but a wish come true fills you with joy.
13If you refuse good advice, you are asking for trouble; follow it and you are safe.
14The teachings of the wise are a fountain of life; they will help you escape when your life is in danger.
15Intelligence wins respect, but those who can't be trusted are on the road to ruin.
16Sensible people always think before they act, but stupid people advertise their ignorance.
17Unreliable messengers cause trouble, but those who can be trusted bring peace.
18Someone who will not learn will be poor and disgraced. Anyone who listens to correction is respected.
19How good it is to get what you want! Stupid people refuse to turn away from evil.
20Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.
21Trouble follows sinners everywhere, but righteous people will be rewarded with good things.
22Good people will have wealth to leave to their grandchildren, but the wealth of sinners will go to the righteous.
23Unused fields could yield plenty of food for the poor, but unjust people keep them from being farmed.
24If you don't punish your children, you don't love them. If you do love them, you will correct them.
25The righteous have enough to eat, but the wicked are always hungry.

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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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