January 6, 2020
Hey, Grace’rs,

This week we begin our adventure through one chapter from each of the 27 books of the New Testament. If you found reading the Old Testament Chapters last year to be a slog, I promise this will be much more inspiring. Give it a try this week. It should take about 7-10 minutes per reading.

Here are your Bible readings for the week. You can use this as a part of your FAITH5 huddle each night:

Share…1 high and 1 low from the day.
Read…the Bible passage for today.
Talk…what one new thing did you learn about God or life from the Bible passage?
Pray…for each other
Bless…each other

(If you are using the  Essential Bible Companion, you will want to read the brief introduction to the corresponding book of the Bible.)
This week: Matthew 9 and Mark 4

Monday
Matthew 9

Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town.  Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”

Jesus knew[ a ] what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?  Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?  So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[ b ] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.”Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up and went home!  Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

10  Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.  11  But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?[ c ]”

12  When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”  13  Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’[ d ] For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”


Tuesday
Matthew 9

14  One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast[ e ] like we do and the Pharisees do?”

15  Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16  “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17  “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

18  As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said, “but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her.”

19  So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him.  20  Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,  21  for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

22  Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23  When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music.  24  “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him.  25  After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!  26  The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.


Wednesday
Matthew 9

27  After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

28  They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?”
“Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”

29  Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”  30  Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.”  31  But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.

32  When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak was brought to Jesus.  33  So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” they exclaimed.

34  But the Pharisees said, “He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.”

35  Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37  He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  38  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”


Thursday
Mark 4

Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore.  He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.  As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.  Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died.  Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10  Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

11  He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret[ a ] of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12  so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they see what I do,
     they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
     they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
     and be forgiven.’[ b ]”

13  Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?  14  The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.  15  The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.  16  The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  17  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  18  The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,  19  but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20  And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”


Friday
Mark 4

Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine.  22  For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.  23  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

24  Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given[ c ]—and you will receive even more.  25  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

26  Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground.  27  Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.  28  The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens.  29  And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

30  Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it?  31  It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds,  32  but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

33  Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand.  34  In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.

35  As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  36  So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37  But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39  When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.  40  Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41  The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
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