There are lots of ways to read the Bible, this is one way that we like to stop and reflect on scripture.


what is the text saying?


what jumps out to me personally?


what do I say to the Lord?


allow His Spirit to wash over you


what action plan do I plan to take?

    • Ecclesiastes 2:1-17

      1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” 3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.

      4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! 9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

      The Wise and the Foolish

      12 So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king?). 13 I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. 14 For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark.” Yet I saw that the wise and the foolish share the same fate. 15 Both will die. So I said to myself, “Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? This is all so meaningless!” 16 For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten.

      17 So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

    • Colossians 4:2-6

      2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

      5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

    • Psalm 60

      1 You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses.

          You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.

      2 You have shaken our land and split it open.

      Seal the cracks, for the land trembles.

      3 You have been very hard on us,

          making us drink wine that sent us reeling.

      4 But you have raised a banner for those who fear you—

          a rallying point in the face of attack. Interlude

      5 Now rescue your beloved people.

          Answer and save us by your power.

      6 God has promised this by his holiness:

      “I will divide up Shechem with joy.

      I will measure out the valley of Succoth.

      7 Gilead is mine,

          and Manasseh, too.

      Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors,

          and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings.

      8 But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant,

          and I will wipe my feet on Edom

          and shout in triumph over Philistia.”

      9 Who will bring me into the fortified city?

          Who will bring me victory over Edom?

      10 Have you rejected us, O God?

          Will you no longer march with our armies?

      11 Oh, please help us against our enemies,

          for all human help is useless.

      12 With God’s help we will do mighty things,

          for he will trample down our foes.

    • Luke 12:1-12

      1 Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. 2 The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 3 Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!

      4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. 5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.

      6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

      8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man[c] will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. 9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. 10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

      11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

    • List Item

      30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;

          good news makes for good health.

      31 If you listen to constructive criticism,

          you will be at home among the wise.

      32 If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;

          but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

      33 Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;

          humility precedes honor.

    • Isaiah 2:1-4

      1 This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

      2 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house

          will be the highest of all—

          the most important place on earth.

      It will be raised above the other hills,

          and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.

      3 People from many nations will come and say,

      “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

          to the house of Jacob’s God.

      There he will teach us his ways,

          and we will walk in his paths.”

      For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;

          his word will go out from Jerusalem.

      4 The Lord will mediate between nations

          and will settle international disputes.

      They will hammer their swords into plowshares

          and their spears into pruning hooks.

      Nation will no longer fight against nation,

          nor train for war anymore.

    • Hebrews 11:17-28

      17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

      20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

      21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

      22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

      23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

      24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

    • Psalm 11

      1 I trust in the Lord for protection.

      So why do you say to me,

          “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

      2 The wicked are stringing their bows

          and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.

      They shoot from the shadows

          at those whose hearts are right.

      3 The foundations of law and order have collapsed.

          What can the righteous do?”

      4 But the Lord is in his holy Temple;

          the Lord still rules from heaven.

      He watches everyone closely,

          examining every person on earth.

      5 The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.

          He hates those who love violence.

      6 He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,

          punishing them with scorching winds.

      7 For the righteous Lord loves justice.

          The virtuous will see his face.

    • Luke 12:13-34

      13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

      14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

      16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

      20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

      21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

      Teaching about Money and Possessions

      22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

      27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

      29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

      32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

      33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

    • Proverbs 16:1-9

      1 We can make our own plans,

          but the Lord gives the right answer.

      2 People may be pure in their own eyes,

          but the Lord examines their motives.

      3 Commit your actions to the Lord,

          and your plans will succeed.

      4 The Lord has made everything for his own purposes,

          even the wicked for a day of disaster.

      5 The Lord detests the proud;

          they will surely be punished.

      6 Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin.

          By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil.

      7 When people’s lives please the Lord,

          even their enemies are at peace with them.

      8 Better to have little, with godliness,

          than to be rich and dishonest.

      9 We can make our plans,

          but the Lord determines our steps.

    • Isaiah 5:8-23

      8 What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field,

          until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.

      9 But I have heard the Lord of Heaven’s Armies

          swear a solemn oath:

      “Many houses will stand deserted;

          even beautiful mansions will be empty.

      10 Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine.

          Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.”

      11 What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning

          looking for a drink of alcohol

      and spend long evenings drinking wine

          to make themselves flaming drunk.

      12 They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties—

          lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—

      but they never think about the Lord

          or notice what he is doing.

      13 So my people will go into exile far away

          because they do not know me.

      Those who are great and honored will starve,

          and the common people will die of thirst.

      14 The grave is licking its lips in anticipation,

          opening its mouth wide.

      The great and the lowly

          and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.

      15 Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down;

          even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation.

      16 But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice.

          The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.

      17 In that day lambs will find good pastures,

          and fattened sheep and young goats will feed among the ruins.

      18 What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them

          with ropes made of lies,

          who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!

      19 They even mock God and say,

          “Hurry up and do something!

          We want to see what you can do.

      Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan,

          for we want to know what it is.”

      20 What sorrow for those who say

          that evil is good and good is evil,

      that dark is light and light is dark,

          that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.

      21 What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes

          and think themselves so clever.

      22 What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine

          and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.

      23 They take bribes to let the wicked go free,

          and they punish the innocent.

    • Acts 7:44-53

      44 “Our ancestors carried the Tabernacle with them through the wilderness. It was constructed according to the plan God had shown to Moses. 45 Years later, when Joshua led our ancestors in battle against the nations that God drove out of this land, the Tabernacle was taken with them into their new territory. And it stayed there until the time of King David.

      46 “David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent Temple for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who actually built it. 48 However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says,

      49 ‘Heaven is my throne,

          and the earth is my footstool.

      Could you build me a temple as good as that?’

          asks the Lord.

      ‘Could you build me such a resting place?

      50 Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?’

      51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! 52 Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 53 You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”

    • Psalm 74

      1 O God, why have you rejected us so long?

          Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture?

      2 Remember that we are the people you chose long ago,

          the tribe you redeemed as your own special possession!

          And remember Jerusalem, your home here on earth.

      3 Walk through the awful ruins of the city;

          see how the enemy has destroyed your sanctuary.

      4 There your enemies shouted their victorious battle cries;

          there they set up their battle standards.

      5 They swung their axes

          like woodcutters in a forest.

      6 With axes and picks,

          they smashed the carved paneling.

      7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground.

          They defiled the place that bears your name.

      8 Then they thought, “Let’s destroy everything!”

          So they burned down all the places where God was worshiped.

      9 We no longer see your miraculous signs.

          All the prophets are gone,

          and no one can tell us when it will end.

      10 How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to insult you?

          Will you let them dishonor your name forever?

      11 Why do you hold back your strong right hand?

          Unleash your powerful fist and destroy them.

      12 You, O God, are my king from ages past,

          bringing salvation to the earth.

      13 You split the sea by your strength

          and smashed the heads of the sea monsters.

      14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan[c]

          and let the desert animals eat him.

      15 You caused the springs and streams to gush forth,

          and you dried up rivers that never run dry.

      16 Both day and night belong to you;

          you made the starlight and the sun.

      17 You set the boundaries of the earth,

          and you made both summer and winter.

      18 See how these enemies insult you, Lord.

          A foolish nation has dishonored your name.

      19 Don’t let these wild beasts destroy your turtledoves.

          Don’t forget your suffering people forever.

      20 Remember your covenant promises,

          for the land is full of darkness and violence!

      21 Don’t let the downtrodden be humiliated again.

          Instead, let the poor and needy praise your name.

      22 Arise, O God, and defend your cause.

          Remember how these fools insult you all day long.

      23 Don’t overlook what your enemies have said

          or their growing uproar.

    • Luke 12:35-59

      35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

      39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

      41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”

      42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

      47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

      Jesus Causes Division

      49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.

      53 ‘Father will be divided against son

          and son against father;

      mother against daughter

          and daughter against mother;

      and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law

          and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”

      54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.

      57 “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right? 58 When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison. 59 And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the very last penny.”

    • Proverbs 16:18-25

      18 Pride goes before destruction,

          and haughtiness before a fall.

      19 Better to live humbly with the poor

          than to share plunder with the proud.

      20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper;

          those who trust the Lord will be joyful.

      21 The wise are known for their understanding,

          and pleasant words are persuasive.

      22 Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it,

          but discipline is wasted on fools.

      23 From a wise mind comes wise speech;

          the words of the wise are persuasive.

      24 Kind words are like honey—

          sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

      25 There is a path before each person that seems right,

          but it ends in death.

    • Jeremiah 7:1-15

      1 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! 3 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:

      “‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4 But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” 5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7 Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.

      8 “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!

      12 “‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13 While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14 So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’

    • Revelation 3:7-13

      7 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.

      This is the message from the one who is holy and true,

          the one who has the key of David.

      What he opens, no one can close;

          and what he closes, no one can open:

      8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. 9 Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.

      10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

      13 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

    • Psalm 10

      1 O Lord, why do you stand so far away?

          Why do you hide when I am in trouble?

      2 The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor.

          Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others.

      3 For they brag about their evil desires;

          they praise the greedy and curse the Lord.

      4 The wicked are too proud to seek God.

          They seem to think that God is dead.

      5 Yet they succeed in everything they do.

          They do not see your punishment awaiting them.

          They sneer at all their enemies.

      6 They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!

          We will be free of trouble forever!”

      7 Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats.[a]

          Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues.

      8 They lurk in ambush in the villages,

          waiting to murder innocent people.

          They are always searching for helpless victims.

      9 Like lions crouched in hiding,

          they wait to pounce on the helpless.

      Like hunters they capture the helpless

          and drag them away in nets.

      10 Their helpless victims are crushed;

          they fall beneath the strength of the wicked.

      11 The wicked think, “God isn’t watching us!

          He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!”

      12 Arise, O Lord!

          Punish the wicked, O God!

          Do not ignore the helpless!

      13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God?

          They think, “God will never call us to account.”

      14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause.

          You take note of it and punish them.

      The helpless put their trust in you.

          You defend the orphans.

      15 Break the arms of these wicked, evil people!

          Go after them until the last one is destroyed.

      16 The Lord is king forever and ever!

          The godless nations will vanish from the land.

      17 Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.

          Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.

      18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,

          so mere people can no longer terrify them.


          They do not see your punishment awaiting them.

          They sneer at all their enemies.

                    Do not ignore the helpless!

    • Luke 13:1-9

      1 About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. 2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? 3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. 4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? 5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”

      Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

      6 Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7 Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

      8 “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9 If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”

    • Proverbs 17:1-5

      1 Better a dry crust eaten in peace

          than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.

      2 A wise servant will rule over the master’s disgraceful son

          and will share the inheritance of the master’s children.

      3 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,

          but the Lord tests the heart.

      4 Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip;

          liars pay close attention to slander.

      5 Those who mock the poor insult their Maker;

          those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.

    • Jeremiah 3:6-25

      6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. 7 I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. 8 She saw[a] that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. 9 Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. 10 But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

      Hope for Wayward Israel

      11 Then the Lord said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah! 12 Therefore, go and give this message to Israel.[This is what the Lord says:

      “O Israel, my faithless people,

          come home to me again,

      for I am merciful.

          I will not be angry with you forever.

      13 Only acknowledge your guilt.

          Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God

      and committed adultery against him

          by worshiping idols under every green tree.

      Confess that you refused to listen to my voice.

          I, the Lord, have spoken!

      14 “Return home, you wayward children,”

          says the Lord,

          “for I am your master.

      I will bring you back to the land of Israel[c]—

          one from this town and two from that family—

          from wherever you are scattered.

      15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart,

          who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.

      16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the Lord, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark. 17 In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. 18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.

      19 “I thought to myself,

          ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’

      I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—

          the finest possession in the world.

      I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’

          and I wanted you never to turn from me.

      20 But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel!

          You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband.

          I, the Lord, have spoken.”

      21 Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains,

          the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people.

      For they have chosen crooked paths

          and have forgotten the Lord their God.

      22 “My wayward children,” says the Lord,

          “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”

      “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply,

          “for you are the Lord our God.

      23 Our worship of idols on the hills

          and our religious orgies on the mountains

          are a delusion.

      Only in the Lord our God

          will Israel ever find salvation.

      24 From childhood we have watched

          as everything our ancestors worked for—

      their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters—

          was squandered on a delusion.

      25 Let us now lie down in shame

          and cover ourselves with dishonor,

      for we and our ancestors have sinned

          against the Lord our God.

      From our childhood to this day

          we have never obeyed him.”

    • Titus 1:1-9

      1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. 3 And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

      4 I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share.

      May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.

      Titus’s Work in Crete

      5 I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. 6 An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife] and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7 A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker,[d] violent, or dishonest with money.

      8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

    • Psalm 58

      1 Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word?

          Do you judge the people fairly?

      2 No! You plot injustice in your hearts.

          You spread violence throughout the land.

      3 These wicked people are born sinners;

          even from birth they have lied and gone their own way.

      4 They spit venom like deadly snakes;

          they are like cobras that refuse to listen,

      5 ignoring the tunes of the snake charmers,

          no matter how skillfully they play.

      6 Break off their fangs, O God!

          Smash the jaws of these lions, O Lord!

      7 May they disappear like water into thirsty ground.

          Make their weapons useless in their hands.

      8 May they be like snails that dissolve into slime,

          like a stillborn child who will never see the sun.

      9 God will sweep them away, both young and old,

          faster than a pot heats over burning thorns.

      10 The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged.

          They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked.

      11 Then at last everyone will say,

          “There truly is a reward for those who live for God;

          surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.”