Select: First Reading Second Reading Bible Background

First Reading: Proverbs Chapter 17 and 18

Proverbs 17

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
2 A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son,and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,but the LORD tests the heart.
4 A wicked man listens to evil lips;a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.
5 He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
6 Children's children are a crown to the aged,and parents are the pride of their children.
7 Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool — how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
8 A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it;wherever he turns, he succeeds.
9 He who covers over an offense promotes love,but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.
11 An evil man is bent only on rebellion;a merciless official will be sent against him.
12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.
13 If a man pays back evil for good,evil will never leave his house.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — the LORD detests them both.
16 Of what use is money in the hand of a fool,since he has no desire to get wisdom?
17 A friend loves at all times,and a brother is born for adversity.
18 A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor.
19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin;he who builds a high gate invites destruction.
20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper;he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.
21 To have a fool for a son brings grief;there is no joy for the father of a fool.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.
24 A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.
26 It is not good to punish an innocent man,or to flog officials for their integrity.
27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Proverbs 18

An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends;he defies all sound judgment.
2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,and with shame comes disgrace.
4 The words of a man's mouth are deep waters,but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice.
6 A fool's lips bring him strife,and his mouth invites a beating.
7 A fool's mouth is his undoing,and his lips are a snare to his soul.
8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;they go down to a man's inmost parts.
9 One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;the righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;they imagine it an unscalable wall.
12 Before his downfall a man's heart is proud,but humility comes before honor.
13 He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.
14 A man's spirit sustains him in sickness,but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;the ears of the wise seek it out.
16 A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.
17 The first to present his case seems right,till another comes forward and questions him.
18 Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.
19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city,and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
20 From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled;with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,and those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.
23 A poor man pleads for mercy,but a rich man answers harshly.
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Second Reading: Mark Chapter 13

Mark 13

13:1 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
2 "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"
5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 "When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong-let the reader understand-then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now-and never to be equaled again. 20 If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect-if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
24 "But in those days, following that distress,
"'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
26 "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"

Bible Background


Part 2 of 3

The beginning of life is described in the Bible as God forming the dust of the ground and breathing into it the breath of life. Death is described as the opposite process: "When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust." Psalm 104:29 (NIV) and "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Psalm 142:3-4 (KJV)

In the beginning everything God had made was deemed "very good." However, God did give one simple law to Adam and Eve in the garden: "...but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you wil surely die." Genesis 2:17 (NIV) That promise was kept following the eating of the fruit by Adam and Eve. The curse of death was pronounced upon them by God in Genesis 3:15-19. Note especially the end of verse 19 where we have the familiar words, "for dust you are and unto dust you will return." Death was the punishment for disobedience. The serpent said in chapter 3 to Eve "You will not surely die." but that was a lie. Death, the punishment for sin, passed to all the descendants of Adam and Eve:

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and this way death came to all men, because all sinned...." Romans 5:12 (NIV)

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (NIV)


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