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Advent devotion: Gray hairs & a sweet tooth

News | December 13, 2016

By Andy Langdon

My roommate had applied a liberal amount of product on his head. Now he was waiting, counting in his head as he watched himself in the mirror. He was doing everything he could to maintain the hair on his head. As he studied himself, I remember thinking for the first time that I would be bald someday. I was not interested in spending my time, energy and resources like that. I was just going to have to be bald.

Turns out I’m not only bald, but the hair that I have left is turning gray. I also have a major sweet-tooth. I am sometimes too loud. and I don’t like housework. There seems to be no end the weakness of my own person. andy-langdon-pic

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul describes his own struggle and acceptance of weakness when he describes God’s voice saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul concludes that he will boast all the more gladly of his weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in him.

This is one of the true marvels of God, that in our weakness, God is made known. If God’s power really is made perfect in weakness, then the Christmas story is about God’s wondrous love in his beautiful weakness. In this story, God is delivered into the hands of humanity in the weak form of a child. God is wrapped up by humans and cared for by a mother. God’s weakness allows humans to show their wondrous love. Much in the same way my own weakness allows God to powerfully love me. What a wonder it is to be loved in your weakness.

Don’t let your weaknesses weigh you down this Advent season. Those very weaknesses allow the wondrous love of God to be made known. Who could love people like us? God does.

Andy Langdon is the director of youth ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church. He lives in Davenport with his wife Becky, and their two sons, Jacob and Drew. He has freed up a lot of time since he doesn’t have to worry about his hair.

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2 Comments on “Advent devotion: Gray hairs & a sweet tooth”

  • Anne Budde

    December 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Andy: Thanks for reminding me to love my weaknesses. Gosh – we are all human and imperfect, still fight this reality some days. The photo of your beautiful family shines boldly.

  • Priscilla Hull

    December 13, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    How I love these thoughts of yours! Thank you for being so real and reminding me of just how much God loves me…you do this so well!

Leave a Reply to Priscilla Hull Cancel Reply

Isaiah 9:2-7

2The people who walk in darkness

Will see a great light;

Those who live in a dark land,

The light will shine on them.

3You shall multiply the nation,

You shall increase their gladness;

They will be glad in Your presence

As with the gladness of harvest,

As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders,

The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.

5For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,

And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.

6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

7There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

On the throne of David and over his kingdom,

To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness

From then on and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

God’s Anger with Israel’s Arrogance

Psalm 96

1Sing to the LORD a new song;

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

2Sing to the LORD, bless His name;

Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

3Tell of His glory among the nations,

His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

4For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

He is to be feared above all gods.

5For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

But the LORD made the heavens.

6Splendor and majesty are before Him,

Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

7Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

8Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name;

Bring an offering and come into His courts.

9Worship the LORD in holy attire;

Tremble before Him, all the earth.

10Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;

He will judge the peoples with equity.”

11Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;

Let the sea roar, and all it contains;

12Let the field exult, and all that is in it.

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy

13Before the LORD, for He is coming,

For He is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness

And the peoples in His faithfulness.

Titus 2:11-14

11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Luke 1:46b-55

46And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,

47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;

For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

49“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;

And holy is His name.

50“AND HIS MERCY ISUPON GENERATIONAFTER GENERATION

TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.

51“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

52“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,

And has exalted those who were humble.

53“HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;

And sent away the rich empty-handed.

54“He has given help to Israel His servant,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Romans 16:25-27

25Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,26but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Luke 1:26-38

26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.28And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”29But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.31“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.32“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;33and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.36“And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.37“For nothing will be impossible with God.”38And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Isaiah 9:2-7

2The people who walk in darkness

Will see a great light;

Those who live in a dark land,

The light will shine on them.

3You shall multiply the nation,

You shall increase their gladness;

They will be glad in Your presence

As with the gladness of harvest,

As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders,

The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.

5For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,

And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.

6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

7There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

On the throne of David and over his kingdom,

To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness

From then on and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

God’s Anger with Israel’s Arrogance

Psalm 96

1Sing to the LORD a new song;

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

2Sing to the LORD, bless His name;

Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

3Tell of His glory among the nations,

His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

4For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

He is to be feared above all gods.

5For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

But the LORD made the heavens.

6Splendor and majesty are before Him,

Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

7Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

8Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name;

Bring an offering and come into His courts.

9Worship the LORD in holy attire;

Tremble before Him, all the earth.

10Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;

He will judge the peoples with equity.”

11Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;

Let the sea roar, and all it contains;

12Let the field exult, and all that is in it.

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy

13Before the LORD, for He is coming,

For He is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness

And the peoples in His faithfulness.

Titus 2:11-14

11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Luke 2:22-40

22And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERYfirstbornMALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”),24and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”

25And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.27And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,28then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,

According to Your word;

30For my eyes have seen Your salvation,

31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32A LIGHTOF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,

And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—35and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.38At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Return to Nazareth

39When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.40The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Visit to Jerusalem

Isaiah 60:1-6

1“Arise, shine; for your light has come,

And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

2“For behold, darkness will cover the earth

And deep darkness the peoples;

But the LORD will rise upon you

And His glory will appear upon you.

3“Nations will come to your light,

And kings to the brightness of your rising.

4“Lift up your eyes round about and see;

They all gather together, they come to you.

Your sons will come from afar,

And your daughters will be carried in the arms.

5“Then you will see and be radiant,

And your heart will thrill and rejoice;

Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,

The wealth of the nations will come to you.

6“A multitude of camels will cover you,

The young camels of Midian and Ephah;

All those from Sheba will come;

They will bring gold and frankincense,

And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Ephesians 3:1-12

Paul’s Stewardship

1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;3that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.4By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,5which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;6to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,7of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.8To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,9and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;10so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,12in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Matthew 2:1-12

The Visit of the Magi

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,2“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”3When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.4Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.5They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

6‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,

ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;

FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER

WHO WILLSHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”

7Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.8And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”9After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.10When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.11After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.13Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.14Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!16Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”17But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.18Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

John 1:43-51

43The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.”44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.45Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”46Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”48Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”49Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”50Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”51And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Psalm 62:5-12

5My soul, wait in silence for God only,

For my hope is from Him.

6He only is my rock and my salvation,

My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

7On God my salvation and my glory rest;

The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

8Trust in Him at all times, O people;

Pour out your heart before Him;

God is a refuge for us.

Selah.

9Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;

In the balances they go up;

They are together lighter than breath.

10Do not trust in oppression

And do not vainly hope in robbery;

If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

11Once God has spoken;

Twice I have heard this:

That power belongs to God;

12And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,

For You recompense a man according to his work.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

29But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;30and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess;31and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

Mark 1:14-20

14Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.17And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”18Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.19Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.20Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

15“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.16“This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’17“The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well.18‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.19‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.20‘But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

Psalm 111

1Praise the LORD!

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart,

In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

2Great are the works of the LORD;

They are studied by all who delight in them.

3Splendid and majestic is His work,

And His righteousness endures forever.

4He has made His wonders to be remembered;

The LORD is gracious and compassionate.

5He has given food to those who fear Him;

He will remember His covenant forever.

6He has made known to His people the power of His works,

In giving them the heritage of the nations.

7The works of His hands are truth and justice;

All His precepts are sure.

8They are upheld forever and ever;

They are performed in truth and uprightness.

9He has sent redemption to His people;

He has ordained His covenant forever;

Holy and awesome is His name.

10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;

His praise endures forever.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Take Care with Your Liberty

1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.2If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know;3but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

7However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.10For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?11For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.12And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.13Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

Mark 1:21-28

21They *went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.22They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.23Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,24saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”26Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.27They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”28Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Crowds Healed

Isaiah 40:21-31

21Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,

And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,

Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain

And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

23He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,

Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.

24Scarcely have they been planted,

Scarcely have they been sown,

Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,

But He merely blows on them, and they wither,

And the storm carries them away like stubble.

25“To whom then will you liken Me

That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.

26Lift up your eyes on high

And see who has created these stars,

The One who leads forth their host by number,

He calls them all by name;

Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,

Not one of them is missing.

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the LORD,

And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?

28Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth

Does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

29He gives strength to the weary,

And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31Yet those who wait for the LORD

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.20To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.23I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Mark 1:29-39

29And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they *spoke to Jesus about her.31And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

32When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed.33And the whole city had gathered at the door.34And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

35In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.36Simon and his companions searched for Him;37they found Him, and *said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”38He *said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”39And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

2 Kings 2:1-12

Elijah Taken to Heaven

1And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.3Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”

4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.5The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.”6Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

7Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan.8Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

9When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”10He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.11As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.12Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Psalm 50:1-6

1The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken,

And summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.

2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,

God has shone forth.

3May our God come and not keep silence;

Fire devours before Him,

And it is very tempestuous around Him.

4He summons the heavens above,

And the earth, to judge His people:

5“Gather My godly ones to Me,

Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”

6And the heavens declare His righteousness,

For God Himself is judge.

Selah.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,4in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.5For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.6For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Mark 9:2-9

2Six days later, Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John, and *brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them;3and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.4Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.5Peter *said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”6For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.7Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”8All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

9As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead.

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Psalm 51:1-17

1Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity

And cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

4Against You, You only, I have sinned

And done what is evil in Your sight,

So that You are justified when You speak

And blameless when You judge.

5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

6Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,

And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

9Hide Your face from my sins

And blot out all my iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11Do not cast me away from Your presence

And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation

And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,

And sinners will be converted to You.

14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;

Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.

15O Lord, open my lips,

That my mouth may declare Your praise.

16For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

You are not pleased with burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Their Ministry Commended

1And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—2for He says,

“AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,

AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”

Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”—

3giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited,4but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,5in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,6in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,7in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,8by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true;9as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death,10as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Genesis 9:8-17

8Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,9“Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.11“I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;13I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.14“It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,15and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.16“When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”17And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Psalm 25:1-10

1To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

2O my God, in You I trust,

Do not let me be ashamed;

Do not let my enemies exult over me.

3Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;

Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

4Make me know Your ways, O LORD;

Teach me Your paths.

5Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;

For You I wait all the day.

6Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,

For they have been from of old.

7Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;

According to Your lovingkindness remember me,

For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

8Good and upright is the LORD;

Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

9He leads the humble in justice,

And He teaches the humble His way.

10All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth

To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

1 Peter 3:18-22

18For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;19in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,20who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,22who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

Mark 1:9-15

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.10Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;11and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

12Immediately the Spirit *impelled Him togo out into the wilderness.13And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

14Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm 22:23-31

23You who fear the LORD, praise Him;

All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,

And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.

24For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;

Nor has He hidden His face from him;

But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

25From You comes my praise in the great assembly;

I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

26The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;

Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.

Let your heart live forever!

27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,

And all the families of the nations will worship before You.

28For the kingdom is the LORDS

And He rules over the nations.

29All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,

All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,

Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.

30Posterity will serve Him;

It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.

31They will come and will declare His righteousness

To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.

Romans 4:13-25

13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOURDESCENDANTS BE.”19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.22Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM ASRIGHTEOUSNESS.23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him,24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Mark 8:31-38

31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.33But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.35“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?37“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?38“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments

1Then God spoke all these words, saying,

2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3“You shall have no other gods before Me.

4“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.5“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

7“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.11“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

13“You shall not murder.

14“You shall not commit adultery.

15“You shall not steal.

16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Psalm 22:23-31

23You who fear the LORD, praise Him;

All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,

And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.

24For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;

Nor has He hidden His face from him;

But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

25From You comes my praise in the great assembly;

I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

26The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;

Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.

Let your heart live forever!

27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,

And all the families of the nations will worship before You.

28For the kingdom is the LORDS

And He rules over the nations.

29All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,

All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,

Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.

30Posterity will serve Him;

It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.

31They will come and will declare His righteousness

To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.19For it is written,

“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,

AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

John 2:13-22

13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.15And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;16and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”17His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”18The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”20The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”21But He was speaking of the temple of His body.22So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.