Reading 1 - Lev 20
"Having set forth moral principles for the observation of Israelites, Yahweh now proceeds to outline the penalties attached to disobedience in these several particulars. Discipline and punishment is necessary in an organized society, for otherwise, flesh being what it is, human nature would flout the divine will. The Land of Canaan was burdened with the vilest forms of wickedness, and rigorous, ruthless measures were needed to keep at bay the vices and immoral practises that were common throughout the land. Hence severe penalties were laid down, which the rulers were to carry out. The Law listed offences that could not be atoned for, and were not forgivable except by specific divine decree (as in the case of David), but in Christ there is justification for things 'that could not be justified under the law' (Mar 3:28,29; Act 13:39)" (HP Mansfield, "Christadelphian Expositor").
Reading 2 - Psalm 119:165
"Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble" (Psa 119:165).
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (Joh 14:27). "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
"Offend them" (KJV) should read -- as in NIV -- 'make them stumble' (compare "the stone of stumbling": Isa 8:14,15; Psa 118:22). If a man's faith is true, it supports him through all circumstances of strain or distress. Yet how often it happens that when times are rough, the first casualty is the steady observance of religious duties: perhaps mid-week classes are let go, and then some Sundays slide by without the Lord being remembered in the appointed manner. This is not a collapse of faith, but a revealing of non-faith: "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him" (1Jo 2:10).
"Be big enough never to be offended. It is the petty mind that takes offense. Be big enough to make allowances, to understand, to sympathize. If we are 'touchy', we have no solid, reserve power for good: things are fine, and we can do wonders, as long as our back is scratched, but we haven't the maturity and stamina to face reality" (GVG).
Reading 3 - Luk 3:1,2
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar -- when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene -- during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert" (Luke 3:1,2).
In two verses only, Luke presents the great parade -- of all the powerful and wealthy and prominent men of the world in his day. There they stand on the world's "stage" for all to respect and admire! But God -- being no respecter of persons, and desiring that no flesh should glory in His presence -- now absolutely sets all the mighty to one side, passing them by entirely, and condescends to speak to a man of the wilderness -- a man of simple food and simple clothes and simple habits. The Creator of heaven and earth has no need for lavish palaces or fine temples; instead, He chooses to dwell with shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:8-14), and a "wild man" on the river bank!