LECTIO DIVINA

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


READ THE SCRIPTURE

what is the text saying?


MEDITATE ON ITS MEANING FOR YOU

what jumps out to me personally?


PRAY, BASED ON YOUR MEDITATION

what do I say to the Lord?


CONTEMPLATE ON THE PRESENCE OF GOD

allow His Spirit to wash over you


WHAT ARE THE STEPS FORWARD?

what action plan do I plan to take?

    • revelations 22:8-21

      8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. 9 But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”

      10 Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”

      12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

      14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

      16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”

      17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18 And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.

      20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”

      Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

      21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.

    • psalm 117

      1 Praise the Lord, all you nations.

          Praise him, all you people of the earth.

      2 For his unfailing love for us is powerful;

          the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

      Praise the Lord!

    • MARK 12:28-34

      The Most Important Commandment

      28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

      29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

      32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

      34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

    • PROVERBS 20:1-9

      1 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls.

          Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.

      2 The king’s fury is like a lion’s roar;

          to rouse his anger is to risk your life.

      3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;

          only fools insist on quarreling.

      4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season

          will have no food at the harvest.

      5 Though good advice lies deep within the heart,

          a person with understanding will draw it out.

      6 Many will say they are loyal friends,

          but who can find one who is truly reliable?

      7 The godly walk with integrity;

          blessed are their children who follow them.

      8 When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence,

          distinguishing the bad from the good.

      9 Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart;

          I am pure and free from sin”?

    • MICAH 4:1-5

      1 In the last days

      the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established

          as the highest of the mountains;

      it will be exalted above the hills,

          and peoples will stream to it.

      2 Many nations will come and say,

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

          to the temple of the God of Jacob.

      He will teach us his ways,

          so that we may walk in his paths.”

      The law will go out from Zion,

          the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

      3 He will judge between many peoples

          and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.

      They will beat their swords into plowshares

          and their spears into pruning hooks.

      Nation will not take up sword against nation,

          nor will they train for war anymore.

      4 Everyone will sit under their own vine

          and under their own fig tree,

      and no one will make them afraid,

          for the Lord Almighty has spoken.

      5 All the nations may walk

          in the name of their gods,

      but we will walk in the name of the Lord

          our God for ever and ever.

    • Hebrews 12:18-19


      18 You have not come to a physical mountain,[a] to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[b] 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”[c]


      22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.


      25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.”[d] 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.


      28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.


    • PSALM 79

      O God, pagan nations have conquered your land,

          your special possession.

      They have defiled your holy Temple

          and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins.

      2 They have left the bodies of your servants

          as food for the birds of heaven.

      The flesh of your godly ones

          has become food for the wild animals.

      3 Blood has flowed like water all around Jerusalem;

          no one is left to bury the dead.

      4 We are mocked by our neighbors,

          an object of scorn and derision to those around us.


      5 O Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Forever?

          How long will your jealousy burn like fire?

      6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you—

          on kingdoms that do not call upon your name.

      7 For they have devoured your people Israel,[a]

          making the land a desolate wilderness.

      8 Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!

          Let your compassion quickly meet our needs,

          for we are on the brink of despair.


      9 Help us, O God of our salvation!

          Help us for the glory of your name.

      Save us and forgive our sins

          for the honor of your name.

      10 Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff,

          asking, “Where is their God?”

      Show us your vengeance against the nations,

          for they have spilled the blood of your servants.

      11 Listen to the moaning of the prisoners.

          Demonstrate your great power by saving those condemned to die.


      12 O Lord, pay back our neighbors seven times

          for the scorn they have hurled at you.

      13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,

          will thank you forever and ever,

          praising your greatness from generation to generation.


    • Mark 12:41-44

      The Widow’s Offering

      41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.[a]


      43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

    • Proverbs 21:2-13

      2 People may be right in their own eyes,

          but the Lord examines their heart.

      3 The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just

          than when we offer him sacrifices.

      4 Haughty eyes, a proud heart,

          and evil actions are all sin.

      5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,

          but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.


      6 Wealth created by a lying tongue

          is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.[a]

      7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away,

          because they refuse to do what is just.

      8 The guilty walk a crooked path;

          the innocent travel a straight road.

      9 It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic

          than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.

      10 Evil people desire evil;

          their neighbors get no mercy from them.

      11 If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise;

          if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser.

      12 The Righteous One[b] knows what is going on in the homes of the wicked;

          he will bring disaster on them.

      13 Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor

          will be ignored in their own time of need.


    • Isaiah 26:7-15

      But for those who are righteous,

          the way is not steep and rough.

      You are a God who does what is right,

          and you smooth out the path ahead of them.

      8 Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;

          our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.

      9 In the night I search for you;

          in the morning[a] I earnestly seek you.

      For only when you come to judge the earth

          will people learn what is right.

      10 Your kindness to the wicked

          does not make them do good.

      Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong

          and take no notice of the Lord’s majesty.

      11 O Lord, they pay no attention to your upraised fist.

          Show them your eagerness to defend your people.

      Then they will be ashamed.

          Let your fire consume your enemies.


      12 Lord, you will grant us peace;

          all we have accomplished is really from you.

      13 O Lord our God, others have ruled us,

          but you alone are the one we worship.

      14 Those we served before are dead and gone.

          Their departed spirits will never return!

      You attacked them and destroyed them,

          and they are long forgotten.

      15 O Lord, you have made our nation great;

          yes, you have made us great.

      You have extended our borders,

          and we give you the glory!


    • Acts 11:1-18

      1 Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers[a] in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. 2 But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers[b] criticized him. 3 “You entered the home of Gentiles[c] and even ate with them!” they said.


      4 Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. 5 “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. 6 When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. 7 And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’


      8 “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.[d]’

      9 “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ 10 This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.

      11 “Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. 12 The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. 13 He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. 14 He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’

      15 “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. 16 Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with[e] water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”


      18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”


    • Psalm 27

      The Lord is my light and my salvation—

          so why should I be afraid?

      The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,

          so why should I tremble?

      2 When evil people come to devour me,

          when my enemies and foes attack me,

          they will stumble and fall.

      3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,

          my heart will not be afraid.

      Even if I am attacked,

          I will remain confident.


      4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—

          the thing I seek most—

      is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

          delighting in the Lord’s perfections

          and meditating in his Temple.

      5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;

          he will hide me in his sanctuary.

          He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

      6 Then I will hold my head high

          above my enemies who surround me.

      At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,

          singing and praising the Lord with music.


      7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.

          Be merciful and answer me!

      8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”

          And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

      9 Do not turn your back on me.

          Do not reject your servant in anger.

          You have always been my helper.

      Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,

          O God of my salvation!

      10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,

          the Lord will hold me close.


      11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.

          Lead me along the right path,

          for my enemies are waiting for me.

      12 Do not let me fall into their hands.

          For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;

          with every breath they threaten me with violence.

      13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness

          while I am here in the land of the living.


      14 Wait patiently for the Lord.

          Be brave and courageous.

          Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.


    • Mark 13:32-37

      32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert[a]!


      34 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”


    • Proverbs 22:8-12

      8 Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster,

          and their reign of terror will come to an end.[a]

      9 Blessed are those who are generous,

          because they feed the poor.

      10 Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too.

          Quarrels and insults will disappear.

      11 Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech

          will have the king as a friend.

      12 The Lord preserves those with knowledge,

          but he ruins the plans of the treacherous.


    • 1 Kings 18:1-18

      Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!” 2 So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.


      Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria. 3 So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. 4 Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “We must check every spring and valley in the land to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules.” 6 So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.


      7 As Obadiah was walking along, he suddenly saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and bowed low to the ground before him. “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” he asked.


      8 “Yes, it is,” Elijah replied. “Now go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”


      9 “Oh, sir,” Obadiah protested, “what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab? 10 For I swear by the Lord your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time he was told, ‘Elijah isn’t here,’ King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim. 11 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ 12 But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the Lord all my life. 13 Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me.”


      15 But Elijah said, “I swear by the Lord Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab this very day.”


      16 So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”


      18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.


    • acts 3:17-4:4

      17 “Friends,[a] I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’[b] 23 Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’[c]


      24 “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. 25 You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants[d] all the families on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”


      Peter and John before the Council

      4 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000.


    • PSALM 125

      Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;

          they will not be defeated but will endure forever.

      2 Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,

          so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.

      3 The wicked will not rule the land of the godly,

          for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.

      4 O Lord, do good to those who are good,

          whose hearts are in tune with you.

      5 But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.

          Take them away with those who do evil.


      May Israel have peace!


    • MARK 14:1-11

      It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”


      3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating,[a] a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.


      4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages[b] and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.


      6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”


      Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

      10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.


    • PROVERBS 23:29-35

      29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow?

          Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining?

          Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

      30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,

          trying out new drinks.

      31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,

          how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.

      32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake;

          it stings like a viper.

      33 You will see hallucinations,

          and you will say crazy things.

      34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea,

          clinging to a swaying mast.

      35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it.

          I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.

      When will I wake up

          so I can look for another drink?”


    • 1st SAmuel 1:1-18

      There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph[a] in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. 2 Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.


      3 Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. 4 On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. 5 And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion[b] because the Lord had given her no children. 6 So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. 7 Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle.[c] Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.


      8 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”


      Hannah’s Prayer for a Son

      9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.[d] 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[e]”


      12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”


      15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”


      17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”


      18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.


    • HeBrews 9:1-14

      That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. 2 There were two rooms in that Tabernacle.[a] In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. 3 Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room[b] called the Most Holy Place. 4 In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.


      6 When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room[c] as they performed their religious duties. 7 But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle[d] and the system it represented were still in use.


      9 This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. 10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.


      Christ Is the Perfect Sacrifice

      11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.[e] He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.


      13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds[f] so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.


    • Psalm 150

      1 Praise the Lord!


      Praise God in his sanctuary;

          praise him in his mighty heaven!

      2 Praise him for his mighty works;

          praise his unequaled greatness!

      3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;

          praise him with the lyre and harp!

      4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;

          praise him with strings and flutes!

      5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals;

          praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

      6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!


      Praise the Lord!


    • luke 1:57-80

      The Birth of John the Baptist

      57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.


      59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”


      61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.


      65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.


      Zechariah’s Prophecy

      67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:


      68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,

          because he has visited and redeemed his people.

      69 He has sent us a mighty Savior[a]

          from the royal line of his servant David,

      70 just as he promised

          through his holy prophets long ago.

      71 Now we will be saved from our enemies

          and from all who hate us.

      72 He has been merciful to our ancestors

          by remembering his sacred covenant—

      73 the covenant he swore with an oath

          to our ancestor Abraham.

      74 We have been rescued from our enemies

          so we can serve God without fear,

      75 in holiness and righteousness

          for as long as we live.


      76 “And you, my little son,

          will be called the prophet of the Most High,

          because you will prepare the way for the Lord.

      77 You will tell his people how to find salvation

          through forgiveness of their sins.

      78 Because of God’s tender mercy,

          the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,[b]

      79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

          and to guide us to the path of peace.”


      80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.


    • Matthew 1:18-25 + Luke 2:1-14 + Luke 2:15-20 + John 1:1-18

      18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

      20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.”

      22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

      23“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

      24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. 


      At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

      6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

      The Shepherds and Angels

      8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

      13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

      14“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”


      15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

      16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.


      In the beginning the Word already existed.

          The Word was with God,

          and the Word was God.

      2 He existed in the beginning with God.

      3 God created everything through him,

          and nothing was created except through him.

      4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,

          and his life brought light to everyone.

      5 The light shines in the darkness,

          and the darkness can never extinguish it.

      6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

      10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

      14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

      15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

      16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

    • Jeremiah 31:15-17

      Rachel’s Sadness Turns to Joy

      15 This is what the Lord says:


      “A cry is heard in Ramah—

          deep anguish and bitter weeping.

      Rachel weeps for her children,

          refusing to be comforted—

          for her children are gone.”


      16 But now this is what the Lord says:

      “Do not weep any longer,

          for I will reward you,” says the Lord.

      “Your children will come back to you

          from the distant land of the enemy.

      17 There is hope for your future,” says the Lord.

          “Your children will come again to their own land.



    • Matthew 12:46-50

      The True Family of Jesus

      46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”[a]


      48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”


    • PSALM 148

      1 Praise the Lord!


      Praise the Lord from the heavens!

          Praise him from the skies!

      2 Praise him, all his angels!

          Praise him, all the armies of heaven!

      3 Praise him, sun and moon!

          Praise him, all you twinkling stars!

      4 Praise him, skies above!

          Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!

      5 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,

          for he issued his command, and they came into being.

      6 He set them in place forever and ever.

          His decree will never be revoked.


      7 Praise the Lord from the earth,

          you creatures of the ocean depths,

      8 fire and hail, snow and clouds,[a]

          wind and weather that obey him,

      9 mountains and all hills,

          fruit trees and all cedars,

      10 wild animals and all livestock,

          small scurrying animals and birds,

      11 kings of the earth and all people,

          rulers and judges of the earth,

      12 young men and young women,

          old men and children.


      13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord.

          For his name is very great;

          his glory towers over the earth and heaven!

      14 He has made his people strong,

          honoring his faithful ones—

          the people of Israel who are close to him.


      Praise the Lord!