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20 August 2017 Bible Reading

Today’s Bible reading includes a very familiar passage in 1 Corinthians 13. It is one of the most beautiful and familiar chapters in the Bible. It is often read at weddings and has even been set to music. Yet, this was never the original intent. Instead, Paul was writing to correct a church for their abuse of the spiritual gifts. Have we heard this Scripture so often that we no longer think about what the words mean?

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul will argue that love is an action, not an emotion. The kind of love Paul will talk about is seen, experienced, and demonstrated. This is contrary to our culture that honors personal feelings above almost everything. We do what we want when we want because we “feel” like it. And if we don’t “feel” like it, we don’t do it. When we read this, we should be struck by the complete absence of any stress on personal feelings. Hence, if love is an action, not an emotion, we need to study what God has to say about love. We need to know what love is and what it looks like when it is lived out in the church.

Esther 8-10
8 On that day, King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the Jews’ enemy, to Esther the queen. Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was to her. 2 The king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 3 Esther spoke yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and begged him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. 4 Then the king held out to Esther the golden scepter. So Esther arose, and stood before the king. 5 She said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right to the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. 6 For how can I endure to see the evil that would come to my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my relatives?”
7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged on the gallows, because he laid his hand on the Jews. 8 Write also to the Jews, as it pleases you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring; for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may not be reversed by any man.”
9 Then the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month Sivan, on the twenty-third day of the month; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, and to the satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, and to the Jews in their writing, and in their language. 10 He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by courier on horseback, riding on royal horses that were bred from swift steeds. 11 In those letters, the king granted the Jews who were in every city to gather themselves together, and to defend their life, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to plunder their possessions, 12 on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. 13 A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, that the Jews should be ready for that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14 So the couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. The decree was given out in the citadel of Susa.
15 Mordecai went out of the presence of the king in royal clothing of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and was glad. 16 The Jews had light, gladness, joy, and honor. 17 In every province, and in every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness, joy, a feast, and a good day. Many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen on them.
9 Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the month, when the king’s commandment and his decree came near to be put in execution, on the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to conquer them, (but it was turned out the opposite happened, that the Jews conquered those who hated them), 2 the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, to lay hands on those who wanted to harm them. No one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen on all the people. 3 All the princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and those who did the king’s business helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai grew greater and greater. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they wanted to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jew’s enemy, but they didn’t lay their hand on the plunder. 11 On that day, the number of those who were slain in the citadel of Susa was brought before the king. 12 The king said to Esther the queen, “The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in the citadel of Susa, including the ten sons of Haman; what then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your further request? It shall be done.”
13 Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according to today’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.”
14 The king commanded this to be done. A decree was given out in Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. 15 The Jews who were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and killed three hundred men in Shushan; but they didn’t lay their hand on the plunder. 16 The other Jews who were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, defended their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they didn’t lay their hand on the plunder. 17 This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of that month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth and on the fourteenth days of the month; and on the fifteenth day of that month, they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a good day, and a day of sending presents of food to one another. 20 Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar yearly, 22 as the days in which the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned to them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending presents of food to one another, and gifts to the needy. 23 The Jews accepted the custom that they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them; 24 because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast “Pur”, that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; 25 but when this became known to the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore they called these days “Purim”, from the word “Pur.” Therefore because of all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and that which had come to them, 27 the Jews established, and imposed on themselves, and on their descendants, and on all those who joined themselves to them, so that it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to what was written, and according to its appointed time, every year; 28 and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor their memory perish from their offspring,
29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purim. 30 He sent letters to all the Jews, to the hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, 31 to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had decreed, and as they had imposed upon themselves and their descendants, in the matter of the fastings and their cry. 32 The commandment of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
10 King Ahasuerus laid a tribute on the land, and on the islands of the sea. 2 All the acts of his power and of his might, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was next to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted by the multitude of his brothers, seeking the good of his people, and speaking peace to all his descendants.

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various kinds of languages. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with various languages? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. Moreover, I show a most excellent way to you.
13 If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing. 3 If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, 5 doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; 6 doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.

Psalm 37:1-11
By David.
37 Don’t fret because of evildoers,
neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in Yahweh, and do good.
Dwell in the land, and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Also delight yourself in Yahweh,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to Yahweh.
Trust also in him, and he will do this:
6 he will make your righteousness go out as the light,
and your justice as the noon day sun.
7 Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him.
Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way,
because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.
Don’t fret, it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more.
Yes, though you look for his place, he isn’t there.
11 But the humble shall inherit the land,
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Proverbs 21:23-24
23 Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue
keeps his soul from troubles.
24 The proud and haughty man, “scoffer” is his name;
he works in the arrogance of pride.

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