Matthew 15 (Listen)

Traditions and Commandments

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

  “‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
  in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Jesus Heals Many

29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

(ESV)

Esther 2 (Listen)

Esther Chosen Queen

After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women—13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

Mordecai Discovers a Plot

19 Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

(ESV)

Proverbs 3 (Listen)

Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart

  My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
  for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.
  Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
  So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.
  Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
  In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
  Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
  It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.
  Honor the LORD with your wealth
    and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10   then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11   My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12   for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom

13   Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
14   for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
15   She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16   Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17   Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
18   She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called blessed.
19   The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
    by understanding he established the heavens;
20   by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
    and the clouds drop down the dew.
21   My son, do not lose sight of these—
    keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22   and they will be life for your soul
    and adornment for your neck.
23   Then you will walk on your way securely,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24   If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25   Do not be afraid of sudden terror
    or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26   for the LORD will be your confidence
    and will keep your foot from being caught.
27   Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to do it.
28   Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
    tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29   Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
    who dwells trustingly beside you.
30   Do not contend with a man for no reason,
    when he has done you no harm.
31   Do not envy a man of violence
    and do not choose any of his ways,
32   for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD,
    but the upright are in his confidence.
33   The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34   Toward the scorners he is scornful,
    but to the humble he gives favor.
35   The wise will inherit honor,
    but fools get disgrace.

(ESV)

Psalm 66 (Listen)

How Awesome Are Your Deeds

To the choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.

  Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
  Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
  All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah
  Come and see what God has done:
    he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
  He turned the sea into dry land;
    they passed through the river on foot.
  There did we rejoice in him,
    who rules by his might forever,
  whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
    let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
  Bless our God, O peoples;
    let the sound of his praise be heard,
  who has kept our soul among the living
    and has not let our feet slip.
10   For you, O God, have tested us;
    you have tried us as silver is tried.
11   You brought us into the net;
    you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12   you let men ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and through water;
  yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13   I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
    I will perform my vows to you,
14   that which my lips uttered
    and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15   I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
    with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
  I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16   Come and hear, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17   I cried to him with my mouth,
    and high praise was on my tongue.
18   If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
19   But truly God has listened;
    he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20   Blessed be God,
    because he has not rejected my prayer
    or removed his steadfast love from me!

(ESV)