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2 Kings 4:18-5:27

18 One day while the boy was still young, he was out in the fields with his father, where the workers were harvesting the crops. 19 Suddenly he shouted, “My head hurts. It hurts a lot!”

“Carry him back to his mother,” the father said to his servant. 20 The servant picked up the boy and carried him to his mother. The boy lay on her lap all morning, and by noon he was dead. 21 She carried him upstairs to Elisha’s room and laid him across the bed. Then she walked out and shut the door behind her.

22 The woman called to her husband, “I need to see the prophet. Let me use one of the donkeys. Send a servant along with me, and let me leave now, so I can get back quickly.”

23 “Why do you need to see him today?” her husband asked. “It’s not the Sabbath or time for the New Moon Festival.”

“That’s all right,” she answered. 24 She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Let’s go. And don’t slow down unless I tell you to.” 25 She left at once for Mount Carmel to talk with Elisha.[a]

When Elisha saw her coming, he said, “Gehazi, look! It’s the woman from Shunem. 26 Run and meet her. And ask her if everything is all right with her and her family.”

“Everything is fine,” she answered Gehazi. 27 But as soon as she got to the top of the mountain, she went over and grabbed Elisha by the feet.

Gehazi started toward her to push her away, when Elisha said, “Leave her alone! Don’t you see how sad she is? But the Lord hasn’t told me why.”

28 The woman said, “Sir, I begged you not to get my hopes up, and I didn’t even ask you for a son.”

29 “Gehazi, get ready and go to her house,” Elisha said. “Take along my walking stick, and when you get there, lay it on the boy’s face. Don’t stop to talk to anyone, even if they try to talk to you.”

30 But the boy’s mother said to Elisha, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I won’t leave without you.” So Elisha got up and went with them.

31 Gehazi ran on ahead and laid Elisha’s walking stick on the boy’s face, but the boy didn’t move or make a sound. Gehazi ran back to Elisha and said, “The boy didn’t wake up.”

32 Elisha arrived at the woman’s house and went straight to his room, where he saw the boy’s body on his bed. 33 He walked in, shut the door, and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he got on the bed and stretched out over the dead body, with his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hand on his hands. As he lay there, the boy’s body became warm. 35 Elisha got up and walked back and forth in the room, then he went back and leaned over the boy’s body. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

36 Elisha called out to Gehazi, “Have the boy’s mother come here.” Gehazi did, and when she was at the door, Elisha said, “You can take your son.”

37 She came in and bowed down at Elisha’s feet. Then she picked up her son and left.

Elisha Makes Some Stew Taste Better

38 Later, Elisha went back to Gilgal, where there was almost nothing to eat, because the crops had failed.

One day while the prophets who lived there were meeting with Elisha, he said to his servant, “Fix a big pot of stew for these prophets.”

39 One of them went out into the woods to gather some herbs. He found a wild vine and picked as much of its fruit as he could carry, but he didn’t know that the fruit was very sour. When he got back, he cut up the fruit and put it in the stew.

40 The stew was served, and when the prophets started eating it, they shouted, “Elisha, this stew tastes terrible! We can’t eat it.”

41 “Bring me some flour,” Elisha said. He sprinkled the flour in the stew and said, “Now serve it to them.” And the stew tasted fine.

Elisha Feeds One Hundred People

42 A man from the town of Baal-Shalishah[b] brought Elisha some freshly cut grain and twenty loaves of bread made from the first barley that was harvested. Elisha said, “Give it to the people so they can eat.”

43 “There’s not enough here for a hundred people,” his servant said.

“Just give it to them,” Elisha replied. “The Lord has promised there will be more than enough.”

44 So the servant served the bread and grain to the people. They ate and still had some left over, just as the Lord had promised.

Elisha Heals Naaman

Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army. The Lord had helped him and his troops defeat their enemies, so the king of Syria respected Naaman very much. Naaman was a brave soldier, but he had leprosy.[c]

One day while the Syrian troops were raiding Israel, they captured a girl, and she became a servant of Naaman’s wife. Some time later the girl said, “If your husband Naaman would go to the prophet in Samaria, he would be cured of his leprosy.”

When Naaman told the king what the girl had said, the king replied, “Go ahead! I will give you a letter to take to the king of Israel.”

Naaman left and took along seven hundred fifty pounds of silver, one hundred fifty pounds of gold, and ten new outfits. He also carried the letter to the king of Israel. It said, “I am sending my servant Naaman to you. Would you cure him of his leprosy?”

When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in fear and shouted, “That Syrian king believes I can cure this man of leprosy! Does he think I’m God with power over life and death? He must be trying to pick a fight with me.”

As soon as Elisha the prophet[d] heard what had happened, he sent the Israelite king this message: “Why are you so afraid? Send the man to me, so that he will know there is a prophet in Israel.”

Naaman left with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent someone outside to say to him, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then you’ll be completely cured.”

11 But Naaman stormed off, grumbling, “Why couldn’t he come out and talk to me? I thought for sure he would stand in front of me and pray to the Lord his God, then wave his hand over my skin and cure me. 12 What about the Abana River[e] or the Pharpar River? Those rivers in Damascus are just as good as any river in Israel. I could have washed in them and been cured.”

13 His servants went over to him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it. So why don’t you do what he said? Go wash and be cured.”

14 Naaman walked down to the Jordan; he waded out into the water and stooped down in it seven times, just as Elisha had told him. Right away, he was cured, and his skin became as smooth as a child’s.

15 Naaman and his officials went back to Elisha. Naaman stood in front of him and announced, “Now I know that the God of Israel is the only God in the whole world. Sir, would you please accept a gift from me?”

16 “I am a servant of the living Lord,” Elisha answered, “and I swear that I will not take anything from you.”

Naaman kept begging, but Elisha kept refusing. 17 Finally Naaman said, “If you won’t accept a gift, then please let me take home as much soil as two mules can pull in a wagon. Sir, from now on I will offer sacrifices only to the Lord.[f] 18 But I pray that the Lord will forgive me when I go into the temple of the god Rimmon and bow down there with the king of Syria.”

19 “Go on home, and don’t worry about that,” Elisha replied. Then Naaman left.

Elisha Places a Curse on Gehazi

After Naaman had gone only a short distance, 20 Gehazi said to himself, “Elisha let that Syrian off too easy. He should have taken Naaman’s gift. I swear by the living Lord that I will talk to Naaman myself and get something from him.” 21 So he hurried after Naaman.

When Naaman saw Gehazi running after him, he got out of his chariot to meet him. Naaman asked, “Is everything all right?”

22 “Yes,” Gehazi answered. “But my master has sent me to tell you about two young prophets from the hills of Ephraim. They came asking for help, and now Elisha wants to know if you would give them about seventy-five pounds of silver and some new clothes?”

23 “Sure,” Naaman replied. “But why don’t you take twice that amount of silver?” He convinced Gehazi to take it all, then put the silver in two bags. He handed the bags and the clothes to his two servants, and they carried them for Gehazi.

24 When they reached the hill where Gehazi lived, he took the bags from the servants and placed them in his house, then sent the men away. After they had gone, 25 Gehazi went in and stood in front of Elisha, who asked, “Gehazi, where have you been?”

“Nowhere, sir,” Gehazi answered.

26 Elisha asked, “Don’t you know that my spirit was there when Naaman got out of his chariot to talk with you? Gehazi, you have no right to accept money or clothes, olive orchards or vineyards, sheep or cattle, or servants. 27 Because of what you’ve done, Naaman’s leprosy[g] will now be on you and your descendants forever!”

Suddenly, Gehazi’s skin became white with leprosy, and he left.

Footnotes:

  1. 4.25 Elisha: Mount Carmel is about twenty-five miles from Shunem.
  2. 4.42 Baal-Shalishah: The exact location of this town is not known, but it was probably somewhere near Shechem.
  3. 5.1 leprosy: The word translated “leprosy” was used for many different kinds of skin diseases.
  4. 5.8 the prophet: Hebrew “the man of God.”
  5. 5.12 Abana River: Most Hebrew manuscripts; some Hebrew manuscripts and two ancient translations “Amana River.”
  6. 5.17 let me take. . . the Lord: It was believed that the Lord had to be worshiped in Israel or on soil taken from Israel.
  7. 5.27 leprosy: See the note at 5.1.
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Acts 15:1-35

15 Some people came from Judea and started teaching the Lord’s followers that they could not be saved, unless they were circumcised as Moses had taught. This caused trouble, and Paul and Barnabas argued with them about this teaching. So it was decided to send Paul and Barnabas and a few others to Jerusalem to discuss this problem with the apostles and the church leaders.

The Church Leaders Meet in Jerusalem

The men who were sent by the church went through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling how the Gentiles had turned to God. This news made the Lord’s followers very happy. When the men arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, including the apostles and the leaders. They told them everything God had helped them do. But some Pharisees had become followers of the Lord. They stood up and said, “Gentiles who have faith in the Lord must be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses.”

The apostles and church leaders met to discuss this problem about Gentiles. They had talked it over for a long time, when Peter got up and said:

My friends, you know that God decided long ago to let me be the one from your group to preach the good news to the Gentiles. God did this so that they would hear and obey him. He knows what is in everyone’s heart. And he showed that he had chosen the Gentiles, when he gave them the Holy Spirit, just as he had given his Spirit to us. God treated them in the same way that he treated us. They put their faith in him, and he made their hearts pure.

10 Now why are you trying to make God angry by placing a heavy burden on these followers? This burden was too heavy for us or our ancestors. 11 But our Lord Jesus was kind to us, and we are saved by faith in him, just as the Gentiles are.

12 Everyone kept quiet and listened as Barnabas and Paul told how God had given them the power to work a lot of miracles and wonders for the Gentiles.

13 After they had finished speaking, James[a] said:

My friends, listen to me! 14 Simon Peter[b] has told how God first came to the Gentiles and made some of them his own people. 15 This agrees with what the prophets wrote,

16 “I, the Lord, will return
and rebuild
    David’s fallen house.
I will build it from its ruins
    and set it up again.
17 Then other nations
    will turn to me
    and be my chosen ones.
I, the Lord, say this.
18     I promised it long ago.”

19 And so, my friends, I don’t think we should place burdens on the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 We should simply write and tell them not to eat anything that has been offered to idols. They should be told not to eat the meat of any animal that has been strangled or that still has blood in it. They must also not commit any terrible sexual sins.[c]

21 We must remember that the Law of Moses has been preached in city after city for many years, and every Sabbath it is read when we Jews meet.

A Letter to Gentiles Who Had Faith in the Lord

22 The apostles, the leaders, and all the church members decided to send some men to Antioch along with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Silas and Judas Barsabbas,[d] who were two leaders of the Lord’s followers. 23 They wrote a letter that said:

We apostles and leaders send friendly greetings to all of you Gentiles who are followers of the Lord in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.

24 We have heard that some people from here have terribly upset you by what they said. But we did not send them! 25 So we met together and decided to choose some men and to send them to you along with our good friends Barnabas and Paul. 26 These men have risked their lives for our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We are also sending Judas and Silas, who will tell you in person the same things that we are writing.

28 The Holy Spirit has shown us that we should not place any extra burden on you. 29 But you should not eat anything offered to idols. You should not eat any meat that still has the blood in it or any meat of any animal that has been strangled. You must also not commit any terrible sexual sins. If you follow these instructions, you will do well.

We send our best wishes.

30 The four men left Jerusalem and went to Antioch. Then they called the church members together and gave them the letter. 31 When the letter was read, everyone was pleased and greatly encouraged. 32 Judas and Silas were prophets, and they spoke a long time, encouraging and helping the Lord’s followers.

33 The men from Jerusalem stayed on in Antioch for a while. And when they left to return to the ones who had sent them, the followers wished them well. 34-35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached about the Lord.[e]

Footnotes:

  1. 15.13 James: The Lord’s brother.
  2. 15.14 Simon Peter: The Greek text has “Simeon,” which is another form of the name “Simon.” The apostle Peter is meant.
  3. 15.20 not commit any terrible sexual sins: This probably refers to the laws about the wrong kind of marriages that are forbidden in Leviticus 18.6-18 or to some serious sexual sin.
  4. 15.22 Judas Barsabbas: He may have been a brother of Joseph Barsabbas (see 1.23), but the name “Barsabbas” was often used by the Jewish people.
  5. 15.34,35 Verse 34, which says that Silas decided to stay on in Antioch, is not in some manuscripts.
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Psalm 141

(A psalm by David.)

A Prayer for the Lord’s Protection

141 I pray to you, Lord!
    Please listen when I pray
    and hurry to help me.
Think of my prayer
    as sweet-smelling incense,
    and think of my lifted hands
    as an evening sacrifice.

Help me to guard my words
    whenever I say something.
Don’t let me want to do evil
    or waste my time doing wrong
    with wicked people.
Don’t let me even taste
    the good things they offer.

Let your faithful people
    correct and punish me.
My prayers condemn the deeds
    of those who do wrong,
    so don’t let me be friends
    with any of them.
Everyone will admit
    that I was right
    when their rulers are thrown
    down a rocky cliff,
and their bones lie scattered
    like broken rocks
    on top of a grave.[a]

You are my Lord and God,
and I look to you for safety.
    Don’t let me be harmed.
Protect me from the traps
    of those violent people,
10 and make them fall
into their own traps
    while you help me escape.

Footnotes:

  1. 141.5-7 Let. . . grave: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 5-7.
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Proverbs 17:23

23 Crooks accept secret bribes
    to keep justice
    from being done.

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