To Comfort and to Challenge
(Speak the Word of the Lord)
Jeremiah 1:4-19 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
1:4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said,
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 but the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak.
8 Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Jeremiah, what do you see?”
And I said, “I see a rod of almond.”[a] 12
Then the Lord said to me,
“You have seen well, for I am watching[b] over my word to perform it.”
13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying,
“What do you see?”
And I said,
“I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.”
14 Then the Lord said to me,
“Out of the north evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For lo, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they shall come and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 But you, gird up your loins; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.”
Psalm 71 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
71:1 In thee, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!
2 In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline thy ear to me, and save me!
3 Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress,[a] to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5 For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon thee I have leaned from my birth; thou art he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of thee.
7 I have been as a portent to many; but thou art my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with thy praise, and with thy glory all the day.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me, those who watch for my life consult together, 11 and say, “God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.”
12 O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!
13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually, and will praise thee yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of thy righteous acts, of thy deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come, I will praise thy righteousness, thine alone.
17 O God, from my youth thou hast taught me, and I still proclaim thy wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, till I proclaim thy might to all the generations to come.[b]
Thy power 19 and thy righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens.
Thou who hast done great things, O God, who is like thee?
20 Thou who hast made me see many sore troubles wilt revive me again; from the depths of the earth thou wilt bring me up again.
21 Thou wilt increase my honor, and comfort me again.
22 I will also praise thee with the harp for thy faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to thee with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to thee; my soul also, which thou hast rescued.
24 And my tongue will talk of thy righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disgraced
who sought to do me hurt.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Luke 4:21-30 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
4:21 And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper′na-um, do here also in your own country.’” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Eli′jah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; 26 and Eli′jah was sent to none of them but only to Zar′ephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli′sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na′aman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. 30 But passing through the midst of them he went away.
Epiphany Cast the net deeper
Isaiah 6:1-13 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
6:1 In the year that King Uzzi′ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven. 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
‘Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without men, and the land is utterly desolate, 12 and the Lord removes men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains standing
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.
Psalm 138 Revised Standard Version (RSV) A Psalm of David.
138:1 I give thee thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing thy praise; 2 I bow down toward thy holy temple and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness; for thou hast exalted above everything thy name and thy word.[a]
3 On the day I called, thou didst answer me, my strength of soul thou didst increase.[
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, for they have heard the words of thy mouth; 5 and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou dost preserve my life; thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and thy right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; thy steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.
Do not forsake the work of thy hands.
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
15:1 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Luke 5:1-11 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
5:1 While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennes′aret. 2 And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, 7 they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zeb′edee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 or 4-10 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) Firstfruits and Tithes
26 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. 11 And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
4 “The priest will take the basket from you and place it before the altar of the Lord your God. 5 Then, in the Lord's presence you will recite these words: ‘My ancestor was a wandering Aramean, who took his family to Egypt to live. They were few in number when they went there, but they became a large and powerful nation. 6 The Egyptians treated us harshly and forced us to work as slaves. 7 Then we cried out for help to the Lord, the God of our ancestors. He heard us and saw our suffering, hardship, and misery. 8 By his great power and strength he rescued us from Egypt. He worked miracles and wonders, and caused terrifying things to happen. 9 He brought us here and gave us this rich and fertile land. 10 So now I bring to the Lord the first part of the harvest that he has given me.’
“Then set the basket down in the Lord's presence and worship there.
Psalm 91:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV) Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God
91 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
New King James Version (NKJV)
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
Romans 10:8-13 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[a] that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”[b] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[c]
Luke 4:1-13 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Jesus Is Tempted by the Devil
4 Now filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan River. And then the Spirit led him into the desert. 2 There the devil tempted Jesus for 40 days. Jesus ate nothing during this time, and when it was finished, he was very hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this rock to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say,
‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive.’”
5 Then the devil took Jesus and in a moment of time showed him all the kingdoms of the world. 6 The devil said to him, “I will make you king over all these places. You will have power over them, and you will get all the glory. It has all been given to me. I can give it to anyone I want. 7 I will give it all to you, if you will only worship me.”
8 Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God.
Serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and put him on a high place at the edge of the Temple area. He said to him, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 The Scriptures say,
‘God will command his angels
to take care of you.’
11 It is also written,
‘Their hands will catch you
so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.’”
12 Jesus answered, “But the Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”[a]
13 The devil finished tempting Jesus in every way and went away to wait until a better time.
Genesis 15:1-12 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) God’s Covenant With Abram
15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,[a]
your very great reward.[b]”
2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
8 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—
Psalm 27:1-14 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) A song of David.
27 Lord, you are my Light and my Savior,
so why should I be afraid of anyone?
The Lord is where my life is safe,
so I will be afraid of no one!
2 Evil people might attack me.
They might try to destroy my body.
Yes, my enemies might attack me and try to destroy me,
but they will stumble and fall.
3 Even if an army surrounds me, I will not be afraid.
Even if people attack me in war, I will trust in the Lord.
4 I ask only one thing from the Lord.
This is what I want most:
Let me live in the Lord’s house all my life,
enjoying the Lord’s beauty
and spending time in his palace.[a]
5 He will protect me when I am in danger.
He will hide me in his tent.[b]
He will take me up to his place of safety.
6 If he will help me defeat the enemies around me,
I will offer sacrifices in his tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and play songs to honor the Lord.
7 Lord, hear my voice.
Be kind and answer me.
8 My heart told me to come to you, Lord,
so I am coming to ask for your help.
9 Don’t turn away from me.
Don’t be angry with your servant.
You are the only one who can help me.
My God, don’t leave me all alone.
You are my Savior.
10 Even if my mother and father leave me,
the Lord will take me in.
11 I have enemies, Lord, so teach me your ways.
Show me the right way to live.
12 My enemies have attacked me.
They have told lies about me and have tried to hurt me.
13 But I really believe
that I will see the Lord’s goodness before I die.[c]
14 Wait for the Lord’s help.
Be strong and brave,
and wait for the Lord’s help.
Philippians 3:17-4:1 The Message (MSG)
17-19 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
4 My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.
Luke 13:31-35 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem
31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[a]”
Luke 9:28-36 The Message (MSG) Jesus in His Glory
28-31 About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.
32-33 Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking.
34-35 While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.”
36 When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.
Isaiah 55:1-9 New King James Version (NKJV) An Invitation to Abundant Life
55 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.
4 Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
5 Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the Lord your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Psalm 63:1-8 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Corinthians 10:1-13 Good News Translation (GNT) Warnings against Idols
10 I want you to remember, my friends, what happened to our ancestors who followed Moses. They were all under the protection of the cloud, and all passed safely through the Red Sea. 2 In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All ate the same spiritual bread 4 and drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them; and that rock was Christ himself. 5 But even then God was not pleased with most of them, and so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert.
6 Now, all of this is an example for us, to warn us not to desire evil things, as they did, 7 nor to worship idols, as some of them did. As the scripture says, “The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy of drinking and sex.” 8 We must not be guilty of sexual immorality, as some of them were—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them fell dead. 9 We must not put the Lord[a] to the test, as some of them did—and they were killed by snakes. 10 We must not complain, as some of them did—and they were destroyed by the Angel of Death.
11 All these things happened to them as examples for others, and they were written down as a warning for us. For we live at a time when the end is about to come.
12 If you think you are standing firm you had better be careful that you do not fall. 13 Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.
Luke 13:1-9 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) Repent or Perish
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
Joshua 5:9-12 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) First Passover in Canaan
9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “You were slaves in Egypt, and this made you ashamed. But today I have taken away that shame.” So Joshua named that place Gilgal.[a] And that place is still named Gilgal today.
10 The Israelites celebrated Passover while they were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho. This was on the evening of the 14th day of the month. 11 The day after Passover, the people ate food that grew in that land. They ate bread made without yeast and roasted grain. 12 The next morning, the manna from heaven stopped coming. This happened the first day after the people ate the food that grew in the land of Canaan. From that time on, the Israelites did not get the manna from heaven.
Psalm 34:2-7 The Message (MSG)
2 I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
3 Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.
4 God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.
5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.
6 When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.
7 God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
16 From this time on we don’t think of anyone as the world thinks of people. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we don’t think that way now. 17 When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world.[a] The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new! 18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between himself and us. And God gave us the work of bringing people into peace with him. 19 I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty for their sins. And he gave us this message of peace to tell people. 20 So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is like God is calling to people through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God. 21 Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin[b] so that in Christ we could be right with God.
Luke 15:1-3 Good News Translation (GNT) The Lost Sheep
15 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus, 2 the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, “This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!” 3 So Jesus told them this parable:
Good News Translation (GNT)
The Lost Son
11 Jesus went on to say, “There was once a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to him, ‘Father, give me my share of the property now.’ So the man divided his property between his two sons. 13 After a few days the younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money. He went to a country far away, where he wasted his money in reckless living. 14 He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing. 15 So he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs. 16 He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. 17 At last he came to his senses and said, ‘All my father's hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve! 18 I will get up and go to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. 19 I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.”’ 20 So he got up and started back to his father.
“He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. 21 ‘Father,’ the son said, ‘I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’ 22 But the father called to his servants. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. 23 Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast! 24 For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’ And so the feasting began.
25 “In the meantime the older son was out in the field. On his way back, when he came close to the house, he heard the music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him, ‘What's going on?’ 27 ‘Your brother has come back home,’ the servant answered, ‘and your father has killed the prize calf, because he got him back safe and sound.’ 28 The older brother was so angry that he would not go into the house; so his father came out and begged him to come in. 29 But he spoke back to his father, ‘Look, all these years I have worked for you like a slave, and I have never disobeyed your orders. What have you given me? Not even a goat for me to have a feast with my friends! 30 But this son of yours wasted all your property on prostitutes, and when he comes back home, you kill the prize calf for him!’ 31 ‘My son,’ the father answered, ‘you are always here with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be happy, because your brother was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’”
Isaiah 43:16-21 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) God Will Save His People Again
16 The Lord is making roads through the sea. He is making a path for his people, even through rough waters. The Lord says, 17 “Those who fight against me with their chariots, horses, and armies will be defeated. They will never rise again. They will be destroyed. They will be put out like the flame in a lamp. 18 So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago, 19 because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land. 20 The wild animals will thank me. The large animals and birds will honor me when I put water in the desert and make rivers flow through that dry land. I will do this to give water to my chosen people. 21 I made them, and they will sing songs of praise to me.
Psalm 126 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) A song of ascents.
1 When the Lord brought back the captives to[a] Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.[b]
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes,[c] O Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
Psalm 119:9-16 Good News Translation (GNT) Obedience to the Law of the Lord
9 How can young people keep their lives pure?
By obeying your commands.
10 With all my heart I try to serve you;
keep me from disobeying your commandments.
11 I keep your law in my heart,
so that I will not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O Lord;
teach me your ways.
13 I will repeat aloud
all the laws you have given.
14 I delight in following your commands
more than in having great wealth.
15 I study your instructions;
I examine your teachings.
16 I take pleasure in your laws;
your commands I will not forget.
Philippians 3:4-14 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
4 Even if I am able to trust in myself, still I don’t do it. If anyone else thinks they have a reason to trust in themselves, they should know that I have a greater reason for doing so. 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day after my birth. I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Jew, and so were my parents. The law was very important to me. That is why I became a Pharisee. 6 I was so eager to defend my religion[a] that I persecuted the church. And no one could find fault with the way I obeyed the Law of Moses.
7 At one time all these things were important to me. But because of Christ, I decided that they are worth nothing. 8 Not only these things, but now I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Christ, I lost all these things, and now I know that they are all worthless trash. All I want now is Christ. 9 I want to belong to him. In Christ I am right with God, but my being right does not come from following the law. It comes from God through faith. God uses my faith in[b] Christ to make me right with him. 10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him from death. I want to share in his sufferings and be like him even in his death. 11 Then there is hope that I myself will somehow be raised from death.
Trying to Reach the Goal
12 I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. 13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. 14 I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven.
John 12:1-8 The Message (MSG) Anointing His Feet
12 1-3 Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.
4-6 Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.
7-8 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.”
John 8:1-11 The Message (MSG) To Throw the Stone
8 1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
11 “No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Roman Catholic reading: Psalm 24 or Psalm 47
Luke 19:28-40or John 12:12-16
Roman Catholic reading: Luke 19:28-40
Episcopal reading (RCL): Luke 19:28-40
Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25
Roman Catholic reading: Acts 10:34, 37-43
United Methodist reading: Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Roman Catholic reading: Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
I Corinthians 15:19-26or Acts 10:34-43
Roman Catholic reading: I Corinthians 15:19-26or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
United Methodist reading: I Corinthians 15:19-26
John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12
Roman Catholic reading: John 20:1-9