February 25 - Matthew 6.1-18, Exodus 33-34 and Proverbs 15

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Teaching about Charity

Matthew 6 "Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven.
2"So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Teaching about Prayer
(Luke 11.2-4)

5"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 6But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
7"When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. 8Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. 9This, then, is how you should pray:
'Our Father in heaven:
May your holy name be honored;
10 may your Kingdom come;
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need.
12 Forgive us the wrongs we have done,
as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.
13 Do not bring us to hard testing,
but keep us safe from the Evil One.'
14"If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.

Teaching about Fasting

16"And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 17When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, 18so that others cannot know that you are fasting--only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

The LORD Orders Israel to Leave Mount Sinai

Exodus 33 The LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought out of Egypt, and go to the land that I promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to their descendants. 2I will send an angel to guide you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3You are going to a rich and fertile land. But I will not go with you myself, because you are a stubborn people, and I might destroy you on the way."
4When the people heard this, they began to mourn and did not wear jewelry any more. 5For the LORD had commanded Moses to tell them, "You are a stubborn people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I would completely destroy you. Now take off your jewelry, and I will decide what to do with you." 6So after they left Mount Sinai, the people of Israel no longer wore jewelry.

The Tent of the LORD's Presence

7Whenever the people of Israel set up camp, Moses would take the sacred Tent and put it up some distance outside the camp. It was called the Tent of the LORD's presence, and anyone who wanted to consult the LORD would go out to it. 8Whenever Moses went out there, the people would stand at the door of their tents and watch Moses until he entered it. 9After Moses had gone in, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the door of the Tent, and the LORD would speak to Moses from the cloud. 10As soon as the people saw the pillar of cloud at the door of the Tent, they would bow down. 11The LORD would speak with Moses face-to-face, just as someone speaks with a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp. But the young man who was his helper, Joshua son of Nun, stayed in the Tent.

The LORD Promises to Be with His People

12Moses said to the LORD, "It is true that you have told me to lead these people to that land, but you did not tell me whom you would send with me. You have said that you know me well and are pleased with me. 13Now if you are, tell me your plans, so that I may serve you and continue to please you. Remember also that you have chosen this nation to be your own."
14The LORD said, "I will go with you, and I will give you victory."
15Moses replied, "If you do not go with us, don't make us leave this place. 16How will anyone know that you are pleased with your people and with me if you do not go with us? Your presence with us will distinguish us from any other people on earth."
17The LORD said to Moses, "I will do just as you have asked, because I know you very well and I am pleased with you."
18Then Moses requested, "Please, let me see the dazzling light of your presence."
19The LORD answered, "I will make all my splendor pass before you and in your presence I will pronounce my sacred name. I am the LORD, and I show compassion and pity on those I choose. 20I will not let you see my face, because no one can see me and stay alive, 21but here is a place beside me where you can stand on a rock. 22When the dazzling light of my presence passes by, I will put you in an opening in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back but not my face."

The Second Set of Stone Tablets
(Deuteronomy 10.1-5)

Exodus 34 The LORD said to Moses, "Cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Get ready tomorrow morning, and come up Mount Sinai to meet me there at the top. 3No one is to come up with you; no one is to be seen on any part of the mountain; and no sheep or cattle are to graze at the foot of the mountain." 4So Moses cut two more stone tablets, and early the next morning he carried them up Mount Sinai, just as the LORD had commanded.
5The LORD came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and pronounced his holy name, the LORD. 6The LORD then passed in front of him and called out, "I, the LORD, am a God who is full of compassion and pity, who is not easily angered and who shows great love and faithfulness. 7I keep my promise for thousands of generations and forgive evil and sin; but I will not fail to punish children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for the sins of their parents."
8Moses quickly bowed down to the ground and worshiped. 9He said, "Lord, if you really are pleased with me, I ask you to go with us. These people are stubborn, but forgive our evil and our sin, and accept us as your own people."

The Covenant Is Renewed
(Exodus 23.14-19; Deuteronomy 7.1-5; 16.1-17)

10The LORD said to Moses, "I now make a covenant with the people of Israel. In their presence I will do great things such as have never been done anywhere on earth among any of the nations. All the people will see what great things I, the LORD, can do, because I am going to do an awesome thing for you. 11Obey the laws that I am giving you today. I will drive out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, as you advance. 12Do not make any treaties with the people of the country into which you are going, because this could be a fatal trap for you. 13Instead, tear down their altars, destroy their sacred pillars, and cut down their symbols of the goddess Asherah.
14"Do not worship any other god, because I, the LORD, tolerate no rivals. 15Do not make any treaties with the people of the country, because when they worship their pagan gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you to join them, and you will be tempted to eat the food they offer to their gods. 16Your sons might marry those foreign women, who would lead them to be unfaithful to me and to worship their pagan gods.
17"Do not make gods of metal and worship them.
18"Keep the Festival of Unleavened Bread. As I have commanded you, eat unleavened bread for seven days in the month of Abib, because it was in that month that you left Egypt.
19"Every first-born son and first-born male domestic animal belongs to me, 20but you are to buy back every first-born donkey by offering a lamb in its place. If you do not buy it back, break its neck. Buy back every first-born son.
"No one is to appear before me without an offering.
21"You have six days in which to do your work, but do not work on the seventh day, not even during plowing time or harvest.
22"Keep the Harvest Festival when you begin to harvest the first crop of your wheat, and keep the Festival of Shelters in the autumn when you gather your fruit.
23"Three times a year all of your men must come to worship me, the LORD, the God of Israel. 24After I have driven out the nations before you and extended your territory, no one will try to conquer your country during the three festivals.
25"Do not offer bread made with yeast when you sacrifice an animal to me. Do not keep until the following morning any part of the animal killed at the Passover Festival.
26"Each year bring to the house of the LORD the first grain that you harvest.
"Do not cook a young sheep or goat in its mother's milk."
27The LORD said to Moses, "Write these words down, because it is on the basis of these words that I am making a covenant with you and with Israel." 28Moses stayed there with the LORD forty days and nights, eating and drinking nothing. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments.

Moses Goes Down from Mount Sinai

29When Moses went down from Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, his face was shining because he had been speaking with the LORD; but he did not know it. 30Aaron and all the people looked at Moses and saw that his face was shining, and they were afraid to go near him. 31But Moses called them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the community went to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32After that, all the people of Israel gathered around him, and Moses gave them all the laws that the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil. 34Whenever Moses went into the Tent of the LORD's presence to speak to the LORD, he would take the veil off. When he came out, he would tell the people of Israel everything that he had been commanded to say, 35and they would see that his face was shining. Then he would put the veil back on until the next time he went to speak with the LORD.

Proverbs 15 A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.
2When wise people speak, they make knowledge attractive, but stupid people spout nonsense.
3The LORD sees what happens everywhere; he is watching us, whether we do good or evil.
4Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit.
5It is foolish to ignore what your parents taught you; it is wise to accept their correction.
6Righteous people keep their wealth, but the wicked lose theirs when hard times come.
7Knowledge is spread by people who are wise, not by fools.
8The LORD is pleased when good people pray, but hates the sacrifices that the wicked bring him.
9The LORD hates the ways of evil people, but loves those who do what is right.
10If you do what is wrong, you will be severely punished; you will die if you do not let yourself be corrected.
11Not even the world of the dead can keep the LORD from knowing what is there; how then can we hide our thoughts from God?
12Conceited people do not like to be corrected; they never ask for advice from those who are wiser.
13When people are happy, they smile, but when they are sad, they look depressed.
14Intelligent people want to learn, but stupid people are satisfied with ignorance.
15The life of the poor is a constant struggle, but happy people always enjoy life.
16Better to be poor and fear the LORD than to be rich and in trouble.
17Better to eat vegetables with people you love than to eat the finest meat where there is hate.
18Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace.
19If you are lazy, you will meet difficulty everywhere, but if you are honest, you will have no trouble.
20Wise children make their fathers happy. Only fools despise their mothers.
21Stupid people are happy with their foolishness, but the wise will do what is right.
22Get all the advice you can, and you will succeed; without it you will fail.
23What a joy it is to find just the right word for the right occasion!
24Wise people walk the road that leads upward to life, not the road that leads downward to death.
25The LORD will destroy the homes of arrogant men, but he will protect a widow's property.
26The LORD hates evil thoughts, but he is pleased with friendly words.
27Try to make a profit dishonestly, and you get your family in trouble. Don't take bribes and you will live longer.
28Good people think before they answer. Evil people have a quick reply, but it causes trouble.
29When good people pray, the LORD listens, but he ignores those who are evil.
30Smiling faces make you happy, and good news makes you feel better.
31If you pay attention when you are corrected, you are wise.
32If you refuse to learn, you are hurting yourself. If you accept correction, you will become wiser.
33Reverence for the LORD is an education in itself. You must be humble before you can ever receive honors.

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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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