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Nehemiah chapter 13

1
On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God,
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because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)
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When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.
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Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah,
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and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests.
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But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission
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and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God.
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I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah's household goods out of the room.
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I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense.
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I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and singers responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields.
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So I rebuked the officials and asked them, "Why is the house of God neglected?" Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts.
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All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and oil into the storerooms.
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I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because these men were considered trustworthy. They were made responsible for distributing the supplies to their brothers.
14
Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.
15
In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day.
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Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah.
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I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, "What is this wicked thing you are doing-- desecrating the Sabbath day?
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Didn't your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath."
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When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.
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Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem.
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But I warned them and said, "Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will lay hands on you." From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath.
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Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.
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Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab.
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Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah.
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I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God's name and said: "You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.
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Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.
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Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?"
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One of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite. And I drove him away from me.
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Remember them, O my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.
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So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task.
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I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me with favor, O my God.

Malachi chapter 1

1
An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.
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"I have loved you," says the LORD. "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob,
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but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals."
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Edom may say, "Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins." But this is what the LORD Almighty says: "They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD.
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You will see it with your own eyes and say, 'Great is the LORD-- even beyond the borders of Israel!'
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"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?'
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"You place defiled food on my altar. "But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' "By saying that the LORD's table is contemptible.
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When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the LORD Almighty.
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"Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?"-- says the LORD Almighty.
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"Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands.
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My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
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"But you profane it by saying of the Lord's table, 'It is defiled,' and of its food, 'It is contemptible.'
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And you say, 'What a burden!' and you sniff at it contemptuously," says the LORD Almighty. "When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?" says the LORD.
14
"Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Malachi chapter 2

1
"And now this admonition is for you, O priests.
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If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.
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"Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.
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And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty.
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"My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name.
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True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
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"For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction-- because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.
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But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty.
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"So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law."
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Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?
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Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god.
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As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob--even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty.
13
Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.
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You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
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Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
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"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
17
You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?"

Acts chapter 4

1
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.
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They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
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They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.
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But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
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The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.
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Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family.
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They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"
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Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people!
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If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed,
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then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
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He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'
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Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
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When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
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But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
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So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.
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"What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it.
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But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."
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Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
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But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.
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For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
21
After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.
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For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
23
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24
When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
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You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
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The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'
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Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
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They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
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Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
30
Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
31
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
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All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
33
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
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There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
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and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
36
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement),
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sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.
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