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Genesis 19:30–21:21 (LEB)

Lot and His Daughters

30 And Lot went out from Zoar and settled in the hill country with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. So he lived in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn daughter said to the younger one, “Our father is old, and there is no man in the land to come in to us according to the manner of all the land. 32 Come, let us give our father wine to drink and let us lie with him that we may secure descendants through our father.” 33 And they gave their father wine to drink that night, and the firstborn went and lay with her father, but he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. 34 And it happened that, the next day the firstborn said to the younger one, “Look, I laid with my father last night. Let us give him wine to drink also tonight, then go and lie with him that we may secure descendants through our father.” 35 And they gave their father wine to drink again that night, and the younger got up and lay with him, but he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. 36 And the two daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn gave birth to a son, and she called his name Moab. He is the father of Moab until this day. 38 And the younger, she also gave birth to a son, and she called his name Ben-Ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites until this day.

Abraham and Abimelech

20 And Abraham journeyed from there to the land of the Negev, and he settled between Kadesh and Shur. And he dwelled as an alien in Gerar. And Abraham said about Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. And God came to Abimelech in a dream at night. And he said to him, “Look, you are a dead man on account of the woman you have taken. For she is a married woman.” Now Abimelech had not approached her, so he said, “my Lord, will you even kill a righteous people?” Did not he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ With integrity of my heart and with cleanness of my hands I did this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you did this, and I also kept you from sinning against me. Therefore, I did not allow you to touch her. So now, return the wife of the man, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you and you will live. And if you do not return her, know that you will certainly die, and all that are yours.”

So Abimelech rose early in the morning. And he called all his servants and told them all these things, and the men were very afraid. And Abimelech called for Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you that you brought upon me and upon my kingdom a great sin? You have done things to me that should not be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What were you thinking that you did this thing?” 11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place; they will kill me on account of the matter of my wife. 12 Besides, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother. And she became my wife. 13 And it happened that as God caused me to wander from the house of my father I said to her, ‘This is your loyal kindness that you must do for me at every place where we come: say concerning me, “He is my brother.” ’ ” 14 And Abimelech took sheep and cattle and male slaves and female slaves, and he gave them to Abraham. And he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “Here is my land before you; settle where it pleases you.” 16 And to Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your brother. It shall be an exoneration. You are vindicated before all who are with you.” 17 And Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his female servants so that they could bear children again. 18 For Yahweh had completely closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of the matter of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

The Birth of Isaac

21 And Yahweh visited Sarah as he had said. And Yahweh did to Sarah as he had promised. And she conceived, and Sarah bore to Abraham a son in his old age at the appointed time that God had told him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised Isaac his son when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac his son was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; all who hear will laugh for me.” And she said, “Who would announce to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne a son to Abraham in his old age.”

Hagar and Ishmael

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne Abraham, mocking. 10 Then she said to Abraham, “Drive out this slave woman and her son, for the son of this slave woman will not be heir with my son, with Isaac.” 11 And the matter displeased Abraham very much on account of his son. 12 Then God said to Abraham, “Do not be displeased on account of the boy and on account of the slave woman. Listen to everything that Sarah said to you, for through Isaac your offspring will be named. 13 And I will also make the son of the slave woman into a nation, for he is your offspring.” 14 Then Abraham rose up early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder. And he sent her away with the child, and she went, wandering about in the wilderness, in Beersheba. 15 And when the water was finished from the skin, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 And she went and she sat opposite him, at a distance, a bowshot away, for she said, “Let me not see the child’s death.” So she sat away from him and lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the cry of the boy and the angel of God called to Hagar from the heavens and said to her, “What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid, for God has heard the cry of the boy from where he is. 18 Get up, take up the boy and take him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave a drink to the boy. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew and lived in the wilderness. And he became an expert with a bow. 21 And he lived in the wilderness of Paran. And his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Matthew 13:44–14:36 (LEB)

The Parable of the Treasure Hidden in a Field

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, that a man found and​ concealed, and in his joy he goes and sells everything that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Valuable Pearl

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 And when he​ found one very valuable pearl, he went and​ sold everything that he possessed and purchased it.

The Parable of the Dragnet

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish​ of every kind, 48 which when it was filled they pulled to shore and sat down and​ collected the good fish​ into containers, but the bad they threw out. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the evil from among the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “For this reason every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of the house who brings out of his storeroom new things and old things.”

Rejected at Nazareth

53 And it happened that when Jesus had finished these parables he went away from there. 54 And he came to his hometown and​ began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were amazed and said, “From where did this man get this wisdom and these miracles? 55 Is not this one the son of the carpenter? Is not his mother called Mary and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? From where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they were offended by him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not perform many miracles in that place because of their unbelief.

Herod Kills John the Baptist

14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist! He has been raised from the dead, and for this reason miraculous powers are at work in him.” For Herod, after​ arresting John, bound him and put him​ in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because John had been saying to him, “It is not permitted for you to have her.” And although he​ wanted to kill him, he feared the crowd, because they looked upon him as a prophet.

But when​ Herod’s birthday celebration took place, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst of them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. And coached by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter!” And although​ the king was distressed, because of his oaths and his dinner guests he commanded the request​ to be granted. 10 And he sent ordersand​ had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it​ to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and​ took away the corpse and buried it, and went and​ told Jesus.

The Feeding of Five Thousand

13 Now when​ Jesus heard it,​ he withdrew from there in a boat to an isolated place by himself. And when​ the crowds heard it,​ they followed him by land from the towns. 14 And as he​ got out, he saw the large crowd and had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it​ was evening, the disciples came to him saying, “The place is desolate and the hour is late. Release the crowds so that they can go away into the villages and​ purchase food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something​ to eat.” 17 And they said to him, “We do not have anything​ here except five loaves and two fish.” 18 So he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 And he commanded the crowds to recline for a meal on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and​ looking up to heaven, he gave thanks. And after​ breaking them,​ he gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them​ to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 Now those who ate were about five thousand men, in addition to women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 And immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent away the crowds. 23 And after he​ sent away the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. So when​ evening came, he was there alone. 24 But the boat was already many stadia distant from the land, being beaten by the waves, because the wind was against it. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But the disciples, when they​ saw him walking on the sea, were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Have courage, I am he! Do not be afraid!” 28 And Peter answered him and​ said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water!” 29 So he said, “Come!” And getting out of the boat, Peter walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he​ saw the strong wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus extended his hand and​ caught him and said to him, “You of little faith! Why did you doubt?” 32 And when​ they got into the boat, the wind abated. 33 So those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God!”

Many Healed at Gennesaret

34 And after they​ had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when​ the men of that place recognized him, they sent word into that whole surrounding region, and they brought to him all those who were sick. 36 And they were imploring him that they might only touch the edge of his cloak, and all those who touched it​ were cured.

Ecclesiastes 4:8–16 (LEB)

Sometimes a man is all alone with no companion; he also has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eye is not satisfied with wealth. He laments, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity—it is an unhappy business!

Friends and Family Can Help One Another in Life

Two are better than the one, for they enjoy a better reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will help up his companion. But pity the one who falls and there is no one to help him up. 11 Also if two lie together, they can keep each other warm. But how can one person be warm? 12 Although an assailant may overpower one person, two may withstand him. A threefold cord is not easily broken!

One Must Be Willing to Listen to Counsel

13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to receive advice. 14 For he came out of the prison house to reign, since he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun with the youth; the second who will stand in his place. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before him. Yet the later generation will not rejoice in him, for this also is vanity and chasing wind!

January 11

Few in the world have sold everything to pursue an idea. Yet Jesus claims those who discover the kingdom of heaven are willing to do so. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, that a man found and concealed, and in his joy he goes and sells everything that he has and buys that field” (Matt 13:44). It seems that hardly any of us are equally willing to give up everything for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

The realization that Jesus has brought the kingdom of heaven to earth presents us with a choice. Will we decide that His kingdom is worth more than all things, or will we devalue it by equating it with worldly treasures?

There are many types of currency, not just money: reputation, occupational status, and social media popularity are just a few. But the kingdom is much more than material or monetary ideas. It’s about giving our gifts, thoughts, and wealth. It’s about being willing to sacrifice everything when God asks.

Putting aside God’s priorities in our lives can be far too easy—probably because He is not standing in front of us, nagging us to do His work. But there won’t be another day to get around to God’s work. Instead, those who believe in Christ (the righteous) will be separated from everyone else (the wicked). In the meantime, our job is to lead the “wicked” to the ways of Christ (Matt 13:44–50). We’re called to do His work, day by day. And we’re called to work as if we don’t have another chance—as if nothing in the world is more valuable.

John D. Barry is the publisher of Lexham Press, general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary, and the previous editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. He is the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, Cutting Ties with Darkness, and Letters to a Christian, as well as the coauthor of Mary: Devoted to God's Plan. John is also the author of Not Your Average Bible Study volumes on Malachi, Colossians, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter, and the coauthor of a study on 2 Peter–Jude.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.