Read the Bible in a Year

Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year. This is part of The Colossians 13:16 Project, sponsored by Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia. You're invited to worship with us Sundays, at 11:00 a.m. or Saturdays, at 6:30 p.m. You may also want to consider joining one our adult Bible Studies: Thursdays at 12:00 noon and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We also have a full range of programs for children. If you want more information about the church, check out the other blogs. And please feel free to leave any comments.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bible Readings for April 30, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 11:1–12:15; John 1:1-28; Psalm 101:1-8; and Proverbs 14:13-14. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 11-12:15 (Contemporary English Version)

Judges 11


1-5The leaders of the Gilead clan decided to ask a brave warrior named Jephthah son of Gilead to lead the attack against the Ammonites.

Even though Jephthah belonged to the Gilead clan, he had earlier been forced to leave the region where they had lived. Jephthah was the son of a prostitute, but his half brothers were the sons of his father's wife.

One day his half brothers told him, " You don't really belong to our family, so you can't have any of the family property." Then they forced Jephthah to leave home.

Jephthah went to the country of Tob, where he was joined by a number of men who would do anything for money.

So the leaders of Gilead went to Jephthah and said,

6" Please come back to Gilead! If you lead our army, we will be able to fight off the Ammonites."

7" Didn't you hate me?" Jephthah replied. " Weren't you the ones who forced me to leave my family? You're coming to me now, just because you're in trouble."

8" But we do want you to come back," the leaders said. " And if you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we will make you the ruler of Gilead."

9" All right," Jephthah said. " If I go back with you and the LORD lets me defeat the Ammonites, will you really make me your ruler?"

10" You have our word," the leaders answered. " And the LORD is a witness to what we have said."

11So Jephthah went back to Mizpah [a] with the leaders of Gilead. The people of Gilead gathered at the place of worship and made Jephthah their ruler. Jephthah also made promises to them.

12After the ceremony, Jephthah sent messengers to say to the king of Ammon, " Are you trying to start a war? You have invaded my country, and I want to know why!"

13The king of Ammon replied, " Tell Jephthah that the land really belongs to me, all the way from the Arnon River in the south, to the Jabbok River in the north, and west to the Jordan River. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they stole it. Tell Jephthah to return it to me, and there won't be any war."

14Jephthah sent the messengers back to the king of Ammon,

15and they told him that Jephthah had said:

Israel hasn't taken any territory from Moab or Ammon.

16When the Israelites came from Egypt, they traveled in the desert to the Red Sea [b] and then to Kadesh.

17They sent messengers to the king of Edom and said, " Please, let us go through your country." But the king of Edom refused. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he wouldn't let them cross his country either. And so the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.

18A little later, the Israelites set out into the desert, going east of Edom and Moab, and camping on the eastern side of the Arnon River gorge. The Arnon is the eastern border of Moab, and since the Israelites didn't cross it, they didn't even set foot in Moab.

19The Israelites sent messengers to the Amorite King Sihon of Heshbon. " Please," they said, " let our people go through your country to get to our own land."

20Sihon didn't think the Israelites could be trusted, so he called his army together. They set up camp at Jahaz, then they attacked the Israelite camp.

21But the LORD God helped Israel defeat Sihon and his army. Israel took over all of the Amorite land where Sihon's people had lived,

22from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north, and from the desert in the east to the Jordan River in the west.

23The messengers also told the king of Ammon that Jephthah had said:

The LORD God of Israel helped his nation get rid of the Amorites and take their land. Now do you think you're going to take over that same territory?

24If Chemosh your god [c] takes over a country and gives it to you, don't you have a right to it? And if the LORD takes over a country and gives it to us, the land is ours!

25Are you better than Balak the son of Zippor? He was the king of Moab, but he didn't quarrel with Israel or start a war with us.

26For three hundred years, Israelites have been living in Heshbon and Aroer and the nearby villages, and in the towns along the Arnon River gorge. If the land really belonged to you Ammonites, you wouldn't have waited until now to try to get it back.

27I haven't done anything to you, but it's certainly wrong of you to start a war. I pray that the LORD will show whether Israel or Ammon is in the right.

28But the king of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah's message.

29Then the LORD's Spirit took control of Jephthah, and Jephthah went through Gilead and Manasseh, raising an army. Finally, he arrived at Mizpah in Gilead, where

30he promised the LORD, " If you will let me defeat the Ammonites

31and come home safely, I will sacrifice to you whoever comes out to meet me first."

32From Mizpah, Jephthah attacked the Ammonites, and the LORD helped him defeat them.

33Jephthah and his army destroyed the twenty towns between Aroer and Minnith, and others as far as Abel-Keramim. After that, the Ammonites could not invade Israel any more.

Jephthah's Daughter

34When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, the first one to meet him was his daughter. She was playing a tambourine and dancing to celebrate his victory, and she was his only child.

35" Oh!" Jephthah cried. Then he tore his clothes in sorrow and said to his daughter, " I made a sacred promise to the LORD, and I must keep it. Your coming out to meet me has broken my heart."

36" Father," she said, " you made a sacred promise to the LORD, and he let you defeat the Ammonites. Now, you must do what you promised, even if it means I must die.

37But first, please let me spend two months, wandering in the hill country with my friends. We will cry together, because I can never get married and have children."

38" Yes, you may have two months," Jephthah said.

She and some other girls left, and for two months they wandered in the hill country, crying because she could never get married and have children.

39Then she went back to her father. He did what he had promised, and she never got married.

That's why

40every year, Israelite girls walk around for four days, weeping for [d] Jephthah's daughter.

Judges 12

The Ephraim Tribe Fights Jephthah's Army

1The men of the Ephraim tribe got together an army and went across the Jordan River to Zaphon to meet with Jephthah. They said, " Why did you go to war with the Ammonites without asking us to help? Just for that, we're going to burn down your house with you inside!"

2" But I did ask for your help," Jephthah answered. " That was back when the people of Gilead and I were having trouble with the Ammonites, and you wouldn't do a thing to help us.

3So when we realized you weren't coming, we risked our lives and attacked the Ammonites. And the LORD let us defeat them. There's no reason for you to come here today to attack me."

4But the men from Ephraim said, " You people of Gilead are nothing more than refugees from Ephraim. You even live on land that belongs to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh." [e] So Jephthah called together the army of Gilead, then they attacked and defeated the army from Ephraim.

5The army of Gilead also posted guards at all the places where the soldiers from Ephraim could cross the Jordan River to return to their own land.

Whenever one of the men from Ephraim would try to cross the river, the guards would say, " Are you from Ephraim?"

"No," the man would answer, "I'm not from Ephraim."

6The guards would then tell them to say "Shiboleth," because they knew that people of Ephraim could say "Sibboleth," but not "Shiboleth."

If the man said "Sibboleth," the guards would grab him and kill him right there. Altogether, forty-two thousand men from Ephraim were killed in the battle and at the Jordan.

7Jephthah was a leader [f] of Israel for six years, before he died and was buried in his hometown Mizpah [g] in Gilead.


8Ibzan, the next leader [h] of Israel, came from Bethlehem.

9He had thirty daughters and thirty sons, and he let them all marry outside his clan. Ibzan was a leader for seven years,

10before he died and was buried in Bethlehem.


11Elon from the Zebulun tribe was the next leader[i] of Israel. He was a leader for ten years,

12before he died and was buried in Aijalon that belonged to the Zebulun tribe.


13-15Abdon the son of Hillel was the next leader [j] of Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, and each one of them had his own donkey[k]. Abdon was a leader[l] for eight years, before he died and was buried in his hometown of Pirathon, which is located in the part of the hill country of Ephraim where Amalekites used to live.

Judges 11:11 Mizpah: In chapters 10-12, Mizpah is the name of a town in Gilead (see 11.29), not the same town as the Mizpah of chapters 20,21.
Judges 11:16 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph, here referring to the Gulf of Aqaba, since the term is extended to include the northeastern arm of the Red Sea (see also the note at Exodus 13.18).
Judges 11:24 Chemosh your god: Chemosh was actually the national god of Moab, not Ammon. The land that Ammon was trying to take over had belonged to the Moabites before belonging to the Amorites (see Numbers 21.26). So the Ammonites may have thought that Chemosh controlled it.
Judges 11:40 weeping for: Or " remembering."
Judges 12:4 You people of Gilead. . . Ephraim and Manasseh: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 12:7 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 12:7 his hometown Mizpah: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 12:8 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 12:11 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 12:13 follow special rules to stay that way (see Numbers 6.1,21).
Judges 12:13 each. . . donkey: A sign that the family was wealthy.
Judges 12:13 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.

John 1:1-28 (Contemporary English Version)

John 1

The Word of Life

1In the beginning was the one
who is called the Word.

The Word was with God
and was truly God.

2From the very beginning
the Word was with God.

3And with this Word,
God created all things.

Nothing was made
without the Word.

Everything that was created
4received its life from him,
and his life gave light
to everyone.

5The light keeps shining
in the dark,
and darkness has never
put it out. [a]

6God sent a man named John,
7who came to tell
about the light
and to lead all people
to have faith.

8John wasn't that light.

He came only to tell
about the light.

9The true light that shines
on everyone
was coming into the world.

10The Word was in the world,
but no one knew him,
though God had made the world
with his Word.

11He came into his own world,
but his own nation
did not welcome him.

12Yet some people accepted him
and put their faith in him.

So he gave them the right
to be the children of God.

13They were not God's children
by nature
or because
of any human desires.

God himself was the one
who made them his children.

14The Word became
a human being
and lived here with us.

We saw his true glory,
the glory of the only Son
of the Father.

From him all the kindness
and all the truth of God
have come down to us.

15John spoke about him and shouted, "This is the one I told you would come! He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born."

16Because of all that the Son is, we have been given one blessing after another. [b] 17The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth. 18No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.

John the Baptist Tells about Jesus
(Matthew 3.1-12; Mark 1.1-8; Luke 3.15-17)

19-20The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and temple helpers to ask John who he was. He told them plainly, "I am not the Messiah." 21Then when they asked him if he were Elijah, he said, "No, I am not!" And when they asked if he were the Prophet, [c] he also said "No!" 22Finally, they said, "Who are you then? We have to give an answer to the ones who sent us. Tell us who you are!"

23John answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah, "I am only someone shouting in the desert, `Get the road ready for the Lord!' "

24Some Pharisees had also been sent to John. 25They asked him, "Why are you baptizing people, if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?"

26John told them, "I use water to baptize people. But here with you is someone you don't know. 27Even though I came first, I am not good enough to untie his sandals." 28John said this as he was baptizing east of the Jordan River in Bethany. [d]

John 1:5 put it out: Or " understood it."
John 1:16 one blessing after another: Or " one blessing in place of another."
John 1:21 the Prophet: Many of the Jewish people expected God to send them a prophet who would be like Moses, but with even greater power (see Deuteronomy 18.15,18).
John 1:28 Bethany: An unknown village east of the Jordan with the same name as the village near Jerusalem.

Psalm 101:1-8 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 101
(A psalm by David.)

A King and His Promises

1I will sing to you, LORD!

I will celebrate your kindness
and your justice.

2Please help me learn
to do the right thing,
and I will be honest and fair
in my own kingdom.

3I refuse to be corrupt
or to take part
in anything crooked,
4and I won't be dishonest
or deceitful.

5Anyone who spreads gossip
will be silenced,
and no one who is conceited
will be my friend.

6I will find trustworthy people
to serve as my advisors,
and only an honest person
will serve as an official.

7No one who cheats or lies
will have a position
in my royal court.

8Each morning I will silence
any lawbreakers I find
in the countryside
or in the city of the LORD.

Proverbs 14:13-14 (Contemporary English Version)

13Sorrow may hide
behind laughter,
and happiness may end
in sorrow.

14You harvest what you plant,
whether good or bad.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bible Readings for April 29, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 9:22–10:18; Luke 24:13-53; Psalm 100:1-5; and Proverbs 14:11-12. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 9:22-10:18 (Contemporary English Version)

Abimelech Destroys Shechem

22Abimelech had been a military commander of Israel for three years,

23-24when God decided to punish him and the leaders of Shechem for killing Gideon's seventy sons.

So God turned the leaders of Shechem against Abimelech.

25Then they sent some men to hide on the hilltops and watch for Abimelech and his troops, while they sent others to rob everyone that went by on the road. But Abimelech found out what they were doing.

26One day, Gaal son of Ebed went to live in Shechem. His brothers moved there too, and soon the leaders of Shechem started trusting him.

27The time came for the grape harvest, and the people of Shechem went into their vineyards and picked the grapes. They put the grapes in their wine-pits and walked on them to squeeze out the juice in order to make wine. Then they went into the temple of their god and threw a big party. There was a lot of eating and drinking, and before long they were cursing Abimelech.

28Gaal said:

Hamor was the founder of Shechem, and one of his descendants should be our ruler. But Abimelech's father was Gideon, so Abimelech isn't really one of us. He shouldn't be our king, and we shouldn't have to obey him or Zebul, who rules Shechem for him.

29If I were the ruler of Shechem, I'd get rid of that Abimelech. I'd tell him, " Get yourself an even bigger army, and we will still defeat you."

30Zebul was angry when he found out what Gaal had said.

31And so he sent some messengers to Abimelech. But they had to pretend to be doing something else, or they would not have been allowed to leave Shechem. [a] Zebul told the messengers to say: Gaal the son of Ebed has come to Shechem along with his brothers, and they have persuaded the people to let Gaal rule Shechem instead of you.

32This is what I think you should do. Lead your army here during the night and hide in the fields.

33Get up the next morning at sunrise and rush out of your hiding places to attack the town. Gaal and his followers will come out to fight you, but you will easily defeat them.

34So one night, Abimelech led his soldiers to Shechem. He divided them into four groups, and they all hid near the town.

35The next morning, Gaal went out and stood in the opening of the town gate. Abimelech and his soldiers left their hiding places,

36and Gaal saw them. Zebul was standing there with Gaal, and Gaal remarked, " Zebul, that looks like a crowd of people coming down from the mountaintops."

" No," Zebul answered, " it's just the shadows of the mountains. It only looks like people moving."

37" But Zebul, look over there," Gaal said. " There's a crowd coming down from the sacred mountain, [b] and another group is coming along the road from the tree where people talk with the spirits of the dead."

38Then Zebul replied, " What good is all of your bragging now? You were the one who said Abimelech shouldn't be the ruler of Shechem. Out there is the army that you made fun of. So go out and fight them!"

39Gaal and the leaders of Shechem went out and fought Abimelech.

40Soon the people of Shechem turned and ran back into the town. However, Abimelech and his troops were close behind and killed many of them along the way.

41Abimelech stayed at Arumah, [c] and Zebul forced Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.

42The next morning, the people of Shechem were getting ready to work in their fields as usual, but someone told Abimelech about it.

43Abimelech divided his army into three groups and set up an ambush in the fields near Shechem. When the people came out of the town, he and his army rushed out from their hiding places and attacked.

44Abimelech and the troops with him ran to the town gate and took control of it, while two other groups attacked and killed the people who were in the fields.

45He and his troops fought in Shechem all day, until they had killed everyone in town. Then he and his men tore down the houses and buildings and scattered salt [d] everywhere.

46Earlier that day, the leaders of the temple of El Berith [e] at Shechem had heard about the attack. So they went into the temple fortress,

47but Abimelech found out where they were.

48He led his troops to Mount Zalmon, where he took an ax and chopped off a tree branch. He lifted the branch onto his shoulder and shouted, " Hurry! Cut off a branch just as I did."

49When they all had branches, they followed Abimelech back to Shechem. They piled the branches against the fortress and set them on fire, burning down the fortress and killing about one thousand men and women.

50After destroying Shechem, Abimelech went to Thebez. He surrounded the town and captured it.

51But there was a tall fortress in the middle of the town, and the town leaders and everyone else went inside. Then they barred the gates and went up to the flat roof.

52Abimelech and his army rushed to the fortress and tried to force their way inside. Abimelech himself was about to set the heavy wooden doors on fire,

53when a woman on the roof dropped a large rock [f] on his head and cracked his skull.

54The soldier who carried his weapons was nearby, and Abimelech told him, " Take out your sword and kill me. I don't want people to say that I was killed by a woman!" So the soldier ran his sword through Abimelech.

55And when the Israelite soldiers saw that their leader was dead, they went back home.

56That's how God punished Abimelech for killing his brothers and bringing shame on his father's family.

57God also punished the people of Shechem for helping Abimelech. [g] Everything happened just as Jotham's curse said it would.

Judges 10


1Tola was the next person to rescue Israel. He belonged to the Issachar tribe, but he lived in Shamir, a town in the hill country of Ephraim. His father was Puah, and his grandfather was Dodo.

2Tola was a leader [h] of Israel for twenty-three years, then he died and was buried in Shamir.


3The next leader [i] of Israel was Jair, who lived in Gilead. He was a leader for twenty-two years.

4He had thirty sons, and each son had his own mule and was in charge of one town in Gilead. Those thirty towns are still called The Settlements of Jair. [j]

5When he died, he was buried in the town of Kamon.

Israel Is Unfaithful Again

6Before long, the Israelites began disobeying the LORD by worshiping Baal, Astarte, and gods from Syria, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.

7The LORD was angry at Israel and decided to let Philistia and Ammon conquer them.

8So the same year that Jair died, Israel's army was crushed by these two nations. For eighteen years, Ammon was cruel to the Israelites who lived in Gilead, the region east of the Jordan River that had once belonged to the Amorites.

9Then the Ammonites began crossing the Jordan and attacking the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Life was miserable for the Israelites.

10They begged the LORD for help and confessed, " We were unfaithful to you, our LORD. We stopped worshiping you and started worshiping idols of Baal."

11-12The LORD answered:

In the past when you came crying to me for help, I rescued you. At one time or another I've rescued you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites. [k]

13-14But I'm not going to rescue you any more! You've left me and gone off to worship other gods. If you're in such big trouble, go cry to them for help!

15" We have been unfaithful," the Israelites admitted. " If we must be punished, do it yourself, but please rescue us from the Ammonites."

16Then the Israelites got rid of the idols of the foreign gods, and they began worshiping only the LORD. Finally, there came a time when the LORD could no longer stand to see them suffer.

The Ammonites Invade Gilead

17The rulers of Ammon called their soldiers together and led them to Gilead, where they set up camp.
The Israelites gathered at Mizpah [l] and set up camp there.

18The leaders of Gilead asked each other, " Who can lead an attack on the Ammonites?" Then they agreed, " If we can find someone who can lead the attack, we'll make him the ruler of Gilead."

Judges 9:31 But. . . Shechem: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 9:37 sacred mountain: The Hebrew text has " the navel of the land," which probably refers to Mount Gerizim as a sacred mountain linking heaven and earth.
Judges 9:41 Arumah: About five miles from Shechem.
Judges 9:45 scattered salt: This may have been part of a ceremony to place a curse on the town.
Judges 9:46 temple of El Berith: The Hebrew text also calls all or part of this temple the " Fortress of Shechem." El Berith, " the God of the Agreement," was also known as Baal Berith, " the Lord of the Agreement" (see also 8.33; 9.4).
Judges 9:53 large rock: One that was used in the grinding of grain.
Judges 9:57 helping Abimelech: Hebrew " their evil" (see 9.3,4).
Judges 10:2 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 10:3 each son had his own mule: A sign that the family was wealthy.
Judges 10:4 The Settlements of Jair: Or " Havvoth-Jair."
Judges 10:11 Maonites: Hebrew; one ancient translation " Midianites."
Judges 10:17 Mizpah: In chapters 10-12, Mizpah is the name of a town in Gilead (see 11.29), not the same town as the Mizpah of chapters 20,21.

Luke 24:13-53 (Contemporary English Version)

Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
(Mark 16.12,13)

13That same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14As they were talking and thinking about what had happened, 15Jesus came near and started walking along beside them. 16But they did not know who he was.

17Jesus asked them, "What were you talking about as you walked along?"

The two of them stood there looking sad and gloomy. 18Then the one named Cleopas asked Jesus, "Are you the only person from Jerusalem who didn't know what was happening there these last few days?"

19"What do you mean?" Jesus asked.

They answered:

Those things that happened to Jesus from Nazareth. By what he did and said he showed that he was a powerful prophet, who pleased God and all the people. 20Then the chief priests and our leaders had him arrested and sentenced to die on a cross. 21We had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free! But it has already been three days since all this happened.

22Some women in our group surprised us. They had gone to the tomb early in the morning, 23but did not find the body of Jesus. They came back, saying that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24Some men from our group went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said. But they didn't see Jesus either.

25Then Jesus asked the two disciples, "Why can't you understand? How can you be so slow to believe all that the prophets said? 26Didn't you know that the Messiah would have to suffer before he was given his glory?" 27Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets. [a] 28When the two of them came near the village where they were going, Jesus seemed to be going farther. 29They begged him, "Stay with us! It's already late, and the sun is going down." So Jesus went into the house to stay with them.

30After Jesus sat down to eat, he took some bread. He blessed it and broke it. Then he gave it to them. 31At once they knew who he was, but he disappeared. 32They said to each other, "When he talked with us along the road and explained the Scriptures to us, didn't it warm our hearts?" 33So they got right up and returned to Jerusalem.

The two disciples found the eleven apostles and the others gathered together. 34And they learned from the group that the Lord was really alive and had appeared to Peter. 35Then the disciples from Emmaus told what happened on the road and how they knew he was the Lord when he broke the bread.

What Jesus' Followers Must Do
(Matthew 28.16-20; Mark 16.14-18; John 20.19-23; Acts 1.6-8)

36While Jesus' disciples were talking about what had happened, Jesus appeared and greeted them. 37They were frightened and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost.

38But Jesus said, "Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? 39Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don't have flesh and bones as you see I have."

40After Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41The disciples were so glad and amazed that they could not believe it. Jesus then asked them, "Do you have something to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of baked fish. 43He took it and ate it as they watched.

44Jesus said to them, "While I was still with you, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and in the Psalms [b] had to happen." 45Then he helped them understand the Scriptures. 46He told them:

The Scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from death. 47They also say that all people of every nation must be told in my name to turn to God, in order to be forgiven. So beginning in Jerusalem, 48you must tell everything that has happened. 49I will send you the one my Father has promised, [c] but you must stay in the city until you are given power from heaven.

Jesus Returns to Heaven
(Mark 16.19,20; Acts 1.9-11)

50Jesus led his disciples out to Bethany, where he raised his hands and blessed them. 51As he was doing this, he left and was taken up to heaven. [d] 52After his disciples had worshiped him, [e] they returned to Jerusalem and were very happy. 53They spent their time in the temple, praising God.

Luke 24:27 the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets: See the note at 16.16.
Luke 24:44 Psalms: The Jewish Scriptures were made up of three parts: (1) the Law of Moses, (2) the Books of the Prophets, (3) and the Writings, which included the Psalms. Sometimes the Scriptures were just called the Law or the Law (of Moses) and the Books of the Prophets.
Luke 24:49 the one my Father has promised: Jesus means the Holy Spirit.
Luke 24:51 and was taken up to heaven: These words are not in some manuscripts.
Luke 24:52 After his disciples had worshiped him: These words are not in some manuscripts.

Psalm 100:1-5 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 100
(A psalm of praise.)

The LORD Is God

1Shout praises to the LORD,
everyone on this earth.

2Be joyful and sing
as you come in
to worship the LORD!

3You know the LORD is God!

He created us,
and we belong to him;
we are his people,
the sheep in his pasture.

4Be thankful and praise the LORD
as you enter his temple.

5The LORD is good!

His love and faithfulness
will last forever.

Proverbs 14:11-12 (Contemporary English Version)

11The tent of a good person
stands longer
than the house
of someone evil.

12You may think you are
on the right road
and still end up dead.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bible Readings for April 28, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 8:18–9:21; Luke 23:44–24:12; Psalm 99:1-9; and Proverbs 14:9-10. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 8:18-9:21 (Contemporary English Version)

18Then Gideon said, " Zebah and Zalmunna, tell me about the men you killed at Tabor."

" They were a lot like you," the two kings answered. " They were dignified, almost like royalty."

19" They were my very own brothers!" Gideon said. " I swear by the living LORD that if you had let them live, I would let you live."

20Gideon turned to Jether, his oldest son. " Kill them!" Gideon said.

But Jether was young, [a] and he was too afraid to even pull out his sword.

21" What's the matter, Gideon?" Zebah and Zalmunna asked. " Do it yourself, if you're not too much of a coward!"

Gideon jumped up and killed them both. Then he took the fancy gold ornaments from the necks of their camels.

The Israelites Ask Gideon To Be Their King

22After the battle with the Midianites, the Israelites said, " Gideon, you rescued us! Now we want you to be our king. Then after your death, your son and then your grandson will rule."

23" No," Gideon replied, " I won't be your king, and my son won't be king either. Only the LORD is your ruler.

24But I will ask you to do one thing: Give me all the earrings you took from the enemy."

The enemy soldiers had been Ishmaelites, [b] and they wore gold earrings.

25The Israelite soldiers replied, " Of course we will give you the earrings." Then they spread out a robe on the ground and tossed the earrings on it.

26The total weight of this gold was over forty pounds. In addition, there was the gold from the camels' ornaments and from the beautiful jewelry worn by the Midianite kings. Gideon also took their purple robes.

27-29Gideon returned to his home in Ophrah and had the gold made into a statue, which the Israelites soon started worshiping. They became unfaithful to God, and even Gideon and his family were trapped into worshiping the statue. [c] The Midianites had been defeated so badly that they were no longer strong enough to attack Israel. And so Israel was at peace for the remaining forty years of Gideon's life.

Gideon Dies

30Gideon had many wives and seventy sons.

31He even had a wife [d] who lived at Shechem. [e] They had a son, and Gideon named him Abimelech.

32Gideon lived to be an old man. And when he died, he was buried in the family tomb in his hometown of Ophrah, which belonged to the Abiezer clan.

33Soon after Gideon's death, the Israelites turned their backs on God again. They set up idols of Baal and worshiped Baal Berith [f] as their god.

34The Israelites forgot that the LORD was their God, and that he had rescued them from the enemies who lived around them.

35Besides all that, the Israelites were unkind to Gideon's family, even though Gideon had done so much for Israel.

Judges 9

Abimelech Tries To Be King

1Abimelech the son of Gideon [g] went to Shechem. While there, he met with his mother's relatives

2and told them to say to the leaders of Shechem, " Do you think it would be good to have all seventy of Gideon's sons ruling us? Wouldn't you rather have just one man be king? Abimelech would make a good king, and he's related to us."

3Abimelech's uncles talked it over with the leaders of Shechem who agreed, " Yes, it would be better for one of our relatives to be king."

4Then they gave Abimelech seventy pieces [h] of silver from the temple of their god Baal Berith. [i] Abimelech used the silver to hire a gang of rough soldiers who would do anything for money.

5Abimelech and his soldiers went to his father's home in Ophrah and brought out Gideon's other sons to a large rock, where they murdered all seventy. Gideon's youngest son Jotham hid from the soldiers, but he was the only one who escaped.

6The leaders of Shechem, including the priests and the military officers, [j] met at the tree next to the sacred rock [k] in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.

7Jotham heard what they were doing. So he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down to the people who were there at the meeting: Leaders of Shechem,
listen to me,
and maybe God
will listen to you.

8Once the trees searched
for someone to be king;
they asked the olive tree,
" Will you be our king?"

9But the olive tree replied,
" My oil brings honor
to people and gods.

I won't stop making oil,
just to have my branches wave
above the other trees."

10Then they asked the fig tree,
" Will you be our king?"

11But the fig tree replied,
" I won't stop growing
my delicious fruit,
just to have my branches wave
above the other trees."

12Next they asked the grape vine,
" Will you be our king?"

13But the grape vine replied,
" My wine brings cheer
to people and gods.

I won't stop making wine,
just to have my branches wave
above the other trees."

14Finally, they went
to the thornbush and asked,
" Will you be our king?"

15The thornbush replied,
" If you really want me
to be your king,
then come into my shade
and I will protect you.

But if you're deceiving me,
I'll start a fire
that will spread out and destroy
the cedars of Lebanon." [l]

After Jotham had finished telling this story, he said:

16-18My father Gideon risked his life for you when he fought to rescue you from the Midianites. Did you reward Gideon by being kind to his family? No, you did not! You attacked his family and killed all seventy of his sons on that rock.

And was it right to make Abimelech your king? He's merely the son of my father's slave girl. [m] But just because he's your relative, you made him king of Shechem.

19So, you leaders of Shechem, if you treated Gideon and his family the way you should have, then I hope you and Abimelech will make each other very happy.

20But if it was wrong to treat Gideon and his family the way you did, then I pray that Abimelech will destroy you with fire, and I pray that you will do the same to him.

21Jotham ran off and went to live in the town of Beer, where he could be safe from his brother Abimelech.

Judges 8:20 young: Gideon wanted to insult the kings by having a young boy kill them.
Judges 8:24 Ishmaelites: According to Genesis 25.1,2,12, both Ishmaelites and Midianites were descendants of Abraham. It is possible that in this passage " Ishmaelites" has the meaning " nomadic traders," while " Midianites" (verses 22,26-29) refers to their ethnic origin.
Judges 8:27 statue. . . statue: Or " sacred priestly vest. . . vest."
Judges 8:31 wife: This translates a Hebrew word for a woman who was legally bound to a man, but without the full privileges of a wife.
Judges 8:31 who lived at Shechem: Sometimes marriages were arranged so that the wife lived with her parents, and the husband visited her from time to time.
Judges 8:33 Baal Berith: Or " Baal of the Agreement" or " the Lord of the Agreement."
Judges 9:1 Gideon: The Hebrew text has " Jerubbaal," another name for Gideon (see 6.32).
Judges 9:4 seventy pieces: About 28 ounces.
Judges 9:4 Baal Berith: See the note at 8.33.
Judges 9:6 including the priests and the military officers: The Hebrew text has " and the Millo house," another name for the temple of Baal Berith. It probably also served as a military fortress.
Judges 9:6 tree. . . rock: One ancient translation; Hebrew " propped-up sacred tree."
Judges 9:15 cedars of Lebanon: The cedars that grew in the Lebanon mountains were some of the largest trees in that part of the world.
Judges 9:16 son of. . . slave girl: See 8.31.

Luke 23:44-24:12 (Contemporary English Version)

The Death of Jesus
(Matthew 27.45-56; Mark 15.33-41; John 19.28-30)

44Around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. 45The sun stopped shining, and the curtain in the temple [a] split down the middle. 46Jesus shouted, "Father, I put myself in your hands!" Then he died. 47When the Roman officer saw what had happened, he praised God and said, "Jesus must really have been a good man!"

48A crowd had gathered to see the terrible sight. Then after they had seen it, they felt brokenhearted and went home. 49All of Jesus' close friends and the women who had come with him from Galilee stood at a distance and watched.

Jesus Is Buried
(Matthew 27.57-61; Mark 15.42-47; John 19.38-42)

50-51There was a man named Joseph, who was from Arimathea in Judea. Joseph was a good and honest man, and he was eager for God's kingdom to come. He was also a member of the council, but he did not agree with what they had decided.

52Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 53He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in fine cloth. Then he put it in a tomb that had been cut out of solid rock and had never been used. 54It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin. [b] 55The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus' body was placed in the tomb. 56Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands.

Luke 24

Jesus Is Alive
(Matthew 28.1-10; Mark 16.1-8; John 20.1-10)

1Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. 2When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, 3they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord [c] Jesus, 4and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. 5The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? 6Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, 7'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " 8Then they remembered what Jesus had said.

9-10Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. 11The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe.

12But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened. [d]

Luke 23:45 curtain in the temple: There were two curtains in the temple. One was at the entrance, and the other separated the holy place from the most holy place that the Jewish people thought of as God's home on earth. The second curtain is probably the one which is meant.
Luke 23:54 the Sabbath was about to begin: The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday.
Luke 24:3 the Lord: These words are not in some manuscripts.
Luke 24:12 what had happened: Verse 12 is not in some manuscripts.

Psalm 99:1-9 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 99

Our LORD Is King

1Our LORD, you are King!

You rule from your throne
above the winged creatures, [a]
as people tremble
and the earth shakes.

2You are praised in Zion,
and you control all nations.

3Only you are God!

And your power alone,
so great and fearsome,
is worthy of praise.

4You are our mighty King, [b]
a lover of fairness,
who sees that justice is done
everywhere in Israel.

5Our LORD and our God,
we praise you
and kneel down to worship you,
the God of holiness!

6Moses and Aaron were two
of your priests.

Samuel was also one of those
who prayed in your name,
and you, our LORD,
answered their prayers.

7You spoke to them
from a thick cloud,
and they obeyed your laws.

8Our LORD and our God,
you answered their prayers
and forgave their sins,
but when they did wrong,
you punished them.

9We praise you, LORD God,
and we worship you
at your sacred mountain.

Only you are God!

Psalm 99:1 winged creatures: See the note at 80.1.
Psalm 99:4 You. . . King: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 14:9-10 (Contemporary English Version)

9Fools don't care
if they are wrong, [a]
but God is pleased
when people do right.

10No one else can really know
how sad or happy you are.

Proverbs 14:9 Fools. . . wrong: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bible Readings for April 27, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 7:1–8:17; Luke 23:13-43; Psalm 97:1–98:9; and Proverbs 14:7-8. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 7-8:17 (Contemporary English Version)

Judges 7

1Early the next morning, Gideon and his army got up and moved their camp to Fear Spring. [a] The Midianite camp was to the north, in the valley at the foot of Moreh Hill. [b]

2The LORD said, " Gideon, your army is too big. I can't let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn't have anything to do with it.

3So call your troops together and tell them that anyone who is really afraid can leave Mount Gilead [c] and go home." Twenty-two thousand men returned home, leaving Gideon with only ten thousand soldiers.

4" Gideon," the LORD said, " you still have too many soldiers. Take them down to the spring and I'll test them. I'll tell you which ones can go along with you and which ones must go back home."

5When Gideon led his army down to the spring, the LORD told him, " Watch how each man gets a drink of water. Then divide them into two groups--those who lap the water like a dog and those who kneel down to drink."

6Three hundred men scooped up water in their hands and lapped it, and the rest knelt to get a drink.

7The LORD said, " Gideon, your army will be made up of everyone who lapped the water from their hands. Send the others home. I'm going to rescue Israel by helping you and your army of three hundred defeat the Midianites."

8Then Gideon gave these orders, " You three hundred men stay here. The rest of you may go home, but leave your food and trumpets with us."

Gideon's army camp was on top of a hill overlooking the Midianite camp in the valley.

9That night, the LORD said to Gideon. " Get up! Attack the Midianite camp. I am going to let you defeat them,

10but if you're still afraid, you and your servant Purah should sneak down to their camp.

11When you hear what the Midianites are saying, you'll be brave enough to attack."

Gideon and Purah worked their way to the edge of the enemy camp, where soldiers were on guard duty.

12The camp was huge. The Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. [d] And it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels.

13Gideon overheard one enemy guard telling another, " I had a dream about a flat [e] loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into our camp. It hit the headquarters tent, [f] and the tent flipped over and fell down."

14The other soldier answered, " Your dream must have been about Gideon, the Israelite commander. It means God will let him and his army defeat the Midianite army and everyone else in our camp."

15As soon as Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he bowed down to praise God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and shouted, " Let's go! The LORD is going to let us defeat the Midianite army."

16Gideon divided his little army into three groups of one hundred men, and he gave each soldier a trumpet and a large clay jar with a burning torch inside.

17-18Gideon said, " When we get to the enemy camp, spread out and surround it. Then wait for me to blow a signal on my trumpet. As soon as you hear it, blow your trumpets and shout, `Fight for the LORD! Fight for Gideon!' "

19Gideon and his group reached the edge of the enemy camp a few hours after dark, just after the new guards had come on duty. [g] Gideon and his soldiers blew their trumpets and smashed the clay jars that were hiding the torches.

20The rest of Gideon's soldiers blew the trumpets they were holding in their right hands. Then they smashed the jars and held the burning torches in their left hands. Everyone shouted, " Fight with your swords for the LORD and for Gideon!"

21The enemy soldiers started yelling and tried to run away. Gideon's troops stayed in their positions surrounding the camp

22and blew their trumpets again. As they did, the LORD made the enemy soldiers pull out their swords and start fighting each other.

The enemy army tried to escape from the camp. They ran to Acacia Tree Town, toward Zeredah, [h] and as far as the edge of the land that belonged to the town of Abel-Meholah near Tabbath. [i]

23Gideon sent word for more Israelite soldiers to come from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both halves of Manasseh [j] to help fight the Midianites.

24He also sent messengers to tell all the men who lived in the hill country of Ephraim, " Come and help us fight the Midianites! Put guards at every spring, stream, and well, as far as Beth-Barah before the Midianites can get to them. And guard the Jordan River." Troops from Ephraim did exactly what Gideon had asked,

25and they even helped chase the Midianites on the east side of the Jordan River. These troops captured Raven and Wolf, [k] the two Midianite leaders. They killed Raven at a large rock that has come to be known as Raven Rock, and they killed Wolf near a wine-pit that has come to be called Wolf Wine-Pit. [l] The men of Ephraim brought the heads of the two Midianite leaders to Gideon.

Judges 8

1But the men were really upset with Gideon and complained, " When you went to war with Midian, you didn't ask us to help! Why did you treat us like that?"

2Gideon answered:

Don't be upset! Even though you came later, you were able to do much more than I did. It's just like the grape harvest: The grapes your tribe doesn't even bother to pick are better than the best grapes my family can grow.

3Besides, God chose you to capture Raven and Wolf. I didn't do a thing compared to you.

By the time Gideon had finished talking, the men of Ephraim had calmed down and were no longer angry at him.

Gideon Finishes Destroying the Midianite Army

4After Gideon and his three hundred troops had chased the Midianites as far as the Jordan River, they were exhausted.

5The town of Succoth was nearby, so he went there and asked, " Please give my troops some food. They are worn out, but we have to keep chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings."

6The town leaders of Succoth answered, " Why should we feed your army? We don't know if you really will defeat Zebah and Zalmunna."

7" Just wait!" Gideon said. " After the LORD helps me defeat them, I'm coming back here. I'll make a whip out of thorns and rip the flesh from your bones."

8After leaving Succoth, Gideon went to Penuel and asked the leaders there for some food. But he got the same answer as he had gotten at Succoth.

9" I'll come back safe and sound," Gideon said, " but when I do, I'm going to tear down your tower!" [m]

10Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor [n] with an army of fifteen thousand troops. They were all that was left of the army of the eastern nations, because one hundred twenty thousand of their warriors had been killed in the battle.

11Gideon reached the enemy camp by going east along Nomad [o] Road past Nobah and Jogbehah. He made a surprise attack,

12and the enemy panicked. Zebah and Zalmunna tried to escape, but Gideon chased and captured them.

13After the battle, Gideon set out for home. As he was going through Heres Pass,

14he caught a young man who lived in Succoth. Gideon asked him who the town officials of Succoth were, and the young man wrote down seventy-seven names.

15Gideon went to the town officials and said, " Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. Remember how you made fun of me? You said, `We don't know if you really will defeat those two Midianite kings. So why should we feed your worn-out army?' "

16Gideon made a whip from thorn plants and used it to beat the town officials.

17Afterwards he went to Penuel, where he tore down the tower and killed all the town officials [p] there.

Judges 7:1 Fear Spring: Or " Harod Spring."
Judges 7:1 Moreh Hill: About 5 miles north of Fear Spring.
Judges 7:3 Mount Gilead: Usually " Gilead" refers to an area east of the Jordan River, but in this verse it refers to a place near Jezreel Valley west of the Jordan.
Judges 7:12 locusts: See the note at 6.4,5.
Judges 7:13 flat: Or " moldy."
Judges 7:13 the headquarters tent: Or " a tent."
Judges 7:19 a few hours after dark, just. . . duty: The Hebrew text has " at the beginning of the second watch, just. . . duty." The night was divided into three periods called " watches," each about four hours long, and different guards would come on duty at the beginning of each watch. The first watch began at sunset, so the beginning of the second watch would have been shortly after 10:00 (P.M.)
Judges 7:22 Zeredah: Some Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts " Zererah" ; these may be different names for the town of Zarethan in the Jordan River valley.
Judges 7:22 Acacia Tree Town. . . Zeredah. . . Abel-Meholah near Tabbath: These were places east of the Jordan River.
Judges 7:23 both halves of Manasseh: Half of Manasseh lived east of the Jordan River, and the other half lived on the west.
Judges 7:25 Raven and Wolf: Or " Oreb and Zeeb."
Judges 7:25 Raven Rock. . . Wolf Wine-Pit: Or " Oreb Rock. . . Zeeb Wine-Pit."
Judges 8:9 tower: Towers were often part of a town wall.
Judges 8:10 Karkor: A little over 100 miles east of the Dead Sea.
Judges 8:11 Nomad: A person who lives in a tent and moves from place to place.
Judges 8:17 all. . . officials: Or " every man in town."

Luke 23:13-43 (Contemporary English Version)

The Death Sentence
(Matthew 27.15-26; Mark 15.6-15; John 18.39--19.16)

13Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people. 14He told them, "You brought Jesus to me and said he was a troublemaker. But I have questioned him here in front of you, and I have not found him guilty of anything that you say he has done. 15Herod didn't find him guilty either and sent him back. This man doesn't deserve to be put to death! 16-17I will just have him beaten with a whip and set free." [a] 18But the whole crowd shouted, "Kill Jesus! Give us Barabbas!" 19Now Barabbas was in jail because he had started a riot in the city and had murdered someone.

20Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he spoke again to the crowds. 21But they kept shouting, "Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!"

22Pilate spoke to them a third time, "But what crime has he done? I have not found him guilty of anything for which he should be put to death. I will have him beaten with a whip and set free."

23The people kept on shouting as loud as they could for Jesus to be put to death. 24Finally, Pilate gave in. 25He freed the man who was in jail for rioting and murder, because he was the one the crowd wanted to be set free. Then Pilate handed Jesus over for them to do what they wanted with him.

Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
(Matthew 27.31-44; Mark 15.21-32; John 19.17-27)

26As Jesus was being led away, some soldiers grabbed hold of a man from Cyrene named Simon. He was coming in from the fields, but they put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

27A large crowd was following Jesus, and in the crowd a lot of women were crying and weeping for him. 28Jesus turned to the women and said:

Women of Jerusalem, don't cry for me! Cry for yourselves and for your children. 29Someday people will say, "Women who never had children are really fortunate!" 30At that time everyone will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" They will say to the hills, "Hide us!" 31If this can happen when the wood is green, what do you think will happen when it is dry? [b] 32Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. 33When the soldiers came to the place called "The Skull," [c] they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. 34-35Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." [d] While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. The leaders insulted him by saying, "He saved others. Now he should save himself, if he really is God's chosen Messiah!"

36The soldiers made fun of Jesus and brought him some wine. 37They said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!"

38Above him was a sign that said, "This is the King of the Jews."

39One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!"

40But the other criminal told the first one off, "Don't you fear God? Aren't you getting the same punishment as this man? 41We got what was coming to us, but he didn't do anything wrong." 42Then he said to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into power!"

43Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise." [e]

Luke 23:16 set free: Some manuscripts add, " Pilate said this, because at every Passover he was supposed to set one prisoner free for the Jewish people."
Luke 23:31 If this can happen when the wood is green, what do you think will happen when it is dry: This saying probably means, " If this can happen to an innocent person, what do you think will happen to one who is guilty?"
Luke 23:33 " The Skull" : The place was probably given this name because it was near a large rock in the shape of a human skull.
Luke 23:34 Jesus said, " Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." : These words are not in some manuscripts.
Luke 23:43 paradise: In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word is used for the Garden of Eden. In New Testament times it was sometimes used for the place where God's people are happy and at rest, as they wait for the final judgment.

Psalm 97-98:9 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 97

The LORD Brings Justice

1The LORD is King!

Tell the earth to celebrate
and all islands to shout.

2Dark clouds surround him,
and his throne is supported
by justice and fairness.

3Fire leaps from his throne,
destroying his enemies,
4and his lightning is so bright
that the earth sees it
and trembles.

5Mountains melt away like wax
in the presence of the LORD
of all the earth.

6The heavens announce,
"The LORD brings justice!"
Everyone sees God's glory.

7Those who brag about
the useless idols they worship
are terribly ashamed,
and all the false gods
bow down to the LORD.

8When the people of Zion
and of the towns of Judah
hear that God brings justice,
they will celebrate.

9The LORD rules the whole earth,
and he is more glorious
than all the false gods.

10Love the LORD
and hate evil!

God protects his loyal people
and rescues them
from violence.

11If you obey and do right,
a light will show you the way
and fill you with happiness.

12You are the LORD's people!

So celebrate and praise
the only God.

Psalm 98

The LORD Works Miracles

1Sing a new song to the LORD!

He has worked miracles,
and with his own powerful arm,
he has won the victory.

2The LORD has shown the nations
that he has the power to save
and to bring justice.

3God has been faithful
in his love for Israel,
and his saving power is seen
everywhere on earth.

4Tell everyone on this earth
to sing happy songs
in praise of the LORD.

5Make music for him on harps.

Play beautiful melodies!

6Sound the trumpets and horns
and celebrate with joyful songs
for our LORD and King!

7Command the ocean to roar
with all of its creatures,
and the earth to shout
with all of its people.

8Order the rivers
to clap their hands,
and all of the hills
to sing together.

9Let them worship the LORD!

He is coming to judge
everyone on the earth,
and he will be honest
and fair.

Proverbs 14:7-8 (Contemporary English Version)

7Stay away from fools,
or you won't learn a thing.

8Wise people have enough sense
to find their way,
but stupid fools get lost.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bible Readings for April 26, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 6:1-40; Luke 22:54–23:12; Psalm 95:1–96:13; and Proverbs 14:5-6. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 6:1-40 (Contemporary English Version)

Judges 6

Midian Steals Everything from Israel

1Then once again the Israelites started disobeying the LORD, so he let the nation of Midian control Israel for seven years.

2The Midianites were so cruel that many Israelites ran to the mountains and hid in caves.

3Every time the Israelites would plant crops, the Midianites invaded Israel together with the Amalekites and other eastern nations.

4-5They rode in on their camels, set up their tents, and then let their livestock eat the crops as far as the town of Gaza. The Midianites stole food, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. Like a swarm of locusts, [a] they could not be counted, and they ruined the land wherever they went.

6-7The Midianites took almost everything that belonged to the Israelites, and the Israelites begged the LORD for help.

8-9Then the LORD sent a prophet to them with this message:

I am the LORD God of Israel, so listen to what I say. You were slaves in Egypt, but I set you free and led you out of Egypt into this land. And when nations here made life miserable for you, I rescued you and helped you get rid of them and take their land.

10I am your God, and I told you not to worship Amorite gods, even though you are living in the land of the Amorites. But you refused to listen.

The LORD Chooses Gideon

11One day an angel from the LORD went to the town of Ophrah and sat down under the big tree that belonged to Joash, a member of the Abiezer clan. Joash's son Gideon was nearby, threshing grain in a shallow pit, where he could not be seen by the Midianites.

12The angel appeared and spoke to Gideon, " The LORD is helping you, and you are a strong warrior."

13Gideon answered, " Please don't take this wrong, but if the LORD is helping us, then why have all of these awful things happened? We've heard how the LORD performed miracles and rescued our ancestors from Egypt. But those things happened long ago. Now the LORD has abandoned us to the Midianites."

14Then the LORD himself said, " Gideon, you will be strong, because I am giving you the power to rescue Israel from the Midianites."

15Gideon replied, " But how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest one in Manasseh, and everyone else in my family is more important than I am."

16" Gideon," the LORD answered, " you can rescue Israel because I am going to help you! Defeating the Midianites will be as easy as beating up one man."

17Gideon said, " It's hard to believe that I'm actually talking to the LORD. Please do something so I'll know that you really are the LORD.

18And wait here until I bring you an offering."

" All right, I'll wait," the LORD answered.

19Gideon went home and killed a young goat, then started boiling the meat. Next, he opened a big sack of flour and made it into thin bread. [b] When the meat was done, he put it in a basket and poured the broth into a clay cooking pot. He took the meat, the broth, and the bread and placed them under the big tree.

20God's angel said, " Gideon, put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them." Gideon did as he was told.

21The angel was holding a walking stick, and he touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick. Flames jumped from the rock and burned up the meat and the bread.

When Gideon looked, the angel was gone.

22Gideon realized that he had seen one of the LORD's angels. " Oh!" he moaned. " Now I'm going to die." [c]

23" Calm down!" the LORD told Gideon. " There's nothing to be afraid of. You're not going to die."

24Gideon built an altar for worshiping the LORD and called it " The LORD Calms Our Fears." It still stands there in Ophrah, a town in the territory of the Abiezer clan.

Gideon Tears Down Baal's Altar

25That night the LORD spoke to Gideon again:

Get your father's second-best bull, the one that's seven years old. Use it to pull down the altar where your father worships Baal and cut down the sacred pole [d] next to the altar.

26Then build an altar for worshiping me on the highest part of the hill where your town is built. Use layers of stones for my altar, not just a pile of rocks. Cut up the wood from the pole, make a fire, kill the bull, and burn it as a sacrifice to me.

27Gideon chose ten of his servants to help him, and they did everything God had said. But since Gideon was afraid of his family and the other people in town, he did it all at night.

28When the people of the town got up the next morning, they saw that Baal's altar had been knocked over, and the sacred pole next to it had been cut down. Then they noticed the new altar covered with the remains of the sacrificed bull.

29" Who could have done such a thing?" they asked. And they kept on asking, until finally someone told them, " Gideon the son of Joash did it."

30The men of the town went to Joash and said, " Your son Gideon knocked over Baal's altar and cut down the sacred pole next to it. Hand him over, so we can kill him!"

31The crowd pushed closer and closer, but Joash replied, " Are you trying to take revenge for Baal? Are you trying to rescue Baal? If you are, you will be the ones who are put to death, and it will happen before another day dawns. If Baal really is a god, let him take his own revenge on someone who tears down his altar."

32That same day, Joash changed Gideon's name to Jerubbaal, explaining, " He tore down Baal's altar, so let Baal take revenge himself." [e]

Gideon Defeats the Midianites

33All the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations got together and crossed the Jordan River. Then they invaded the land of Israel and set up camp in Jezreel Valley.

34The LORD's Spirit took control of Gideon, and Gideon blew a signal on a trumpet to tell the men in the Abiezer clan to follow him.

35He also sent messengers to the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, telling the men of these tribes to come and join his army. Then they set out toward the enemy camp.

36-37Gideon prayed to God, " I know that you promised to help me rescue Israel, but I need proof. Tonight I'll put some wool on the stone floor of that threshing-place over there. If you really will help me rescue Israel, then tomorrow morning let there be dew on the wool, but let the stone floor be dry."

38And that's just what happened. Early the next morning, Gideon got up and checked the wool. He squeezed out enough water to fill a bowl.

39But Gideon prayed to God again. " Don't be angry at me," Gideon said. " Let me try this just one more time, so I'll really be sure you'll help me. Only this time, let the wool be dry and the stone floor be wet with dew."

40That night, God made the stone floor wet with dew, but he kept the wool dry.

Judges 6:4 locusts: Insects like grasshoppers that travel in swarms and cause great damage to crops.
Judges 6:19 thin bread: Bread made without yeast, since there was no time for the dough to rise.
Judges 6:22 Now I'm going to die: The Hebrew text has " I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face." Some people believed that if they saw one of the LORD's angels, they would die (see 13.22).
Judges 6:25 sacred pole: Or " sacred tree," used as a symbol of Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility.
Judges 6:32 Jerubbaal. . . take revenge himself: In Hebrew, " Jerubbaal" means " Let Baal take revenge."

Luke 22:54-23:12 (Contemporary English Version)

Peter Says He Doesn't Know Jesus
(Matthew 26.57,58,67-75; Mark 14.53,54,66-72; John 18.12-18, 25-27)

54Jesus was arrested and led away to the house of the high priest, while Peter followed at a distance. 55Some people built a fire in the middle of the courtyard and were sitting around it. Peter sat there with them, 56and a servant girl saw him. Then after she had looked at him carefully, she said, "This man was with Jesus!"

57Peter said, "Woman, I don't even know that man!"

58A little later someone else saw Peter and said, "You are one of them!"

"No, I'm not!" Peter replied.

59About an hour later another man insisted, "This man must have been with Jesus. They both come from Galilee."

60Peter replied, "I don't know what you are talking about!" Right then, while Peter was still speaking, a rooster crowed.

61The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered that the Lord had said, "Before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me." 62Then Peter went out and cried hard.

63The men who were guarding Jesus made fun of him and beat him. 64They put a blindfold on him and said, "Tell us who struck you!" 65They kept on insulting Jesus in many other ways.

Jesus Is Questioned by the Council
(Matthew 26.59-66; Mark 14.55-64; John 18.19-24)

66At daybreak the nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses got together and brought Jesus before their council. 67They said, "Tell us! Are you the Messiah?"

Jesus replied, "If I said so, you wouldn't believe me. 68And if I asked you a question, you wouldn't answer. 69But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right side of God All-Powerful."

70Then they asked, "Are you the Son of God?" [a] Jesus answered, "You say I am!" [b] 71They replied, "Why do we need more witnesses? He said it himself!"

Luke 23

Pilate Questions Jesus
(Matthew 27.1,2,11-14; Mark 15.1-5; John 18.28-38)

1Everyone in the council got up and led Jesus off to Pilate. 2They started accusing him and said, "We caught this man trying to get our people to riot and to stop paying taxes to the Emperor. He also claims that he is the Messiah, our king."

3Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Those are your words," Jesus answered.

4Pilate told the chief priests and the crowd, "I don't find him guilty of anything."

5But they all kept on saying, "He has been teaching and causing trouble all over Judea. He started in Galilee and has now come all the way here."

Jesus Is Brought before Herod

6When Pilate heard this, he asked, "Is this man from Galilee?" 7After Pilate learned that Jesus came from the region ruled by Herod, [c] he sent him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at that time. 8For a long time Herod had wanted to see Jesus and was very happy because he finally had this chance. He had heard many things about Jesus and hoped to see him work a miracle.

9Herod asked him a lot of questions, but Jesus did not answer. 10Then the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses stood up and accused him of all kinds of bad things.

11Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and insulted him. They put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. 12That same day Herod and Pilate became friends, even though they had been enemies before this.

Luke 22:70 Son of God: This was one of the titles used for the kings of Israel.
Luke 22:70 You say I am: Or " That's what you say."
Luke 23:7 Herod: Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.

Psalm 95-96:13 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 95

Worship and Obey the LORD

1Sing joyful songs to the LORD!
Praise the mighty rock
where we are safe.

2Come to worship him
with thankful hearts
and songs of praise.

3The LORD is the greatest God,
king over all other gods.

4He holds the deepest part
of the earth in his hands,
and the mountain peaks
belong to him.

5The ocean is the Lord's
because he made it,
and with his own hands
he formed the dry land.

6Bow down and worship
the LORD our Creator!

7The LORD is our God,
and we are his people,
the sheep he takes care of
in his own pasture.

Listen to God's voice today!

8Don't be stubborn and rebel
as your ancestors did
at Meribah and Massah [a]
out in the desert.

9For forty years
they tested God
and saw
the things he did.

10Then God got tired of them
and said,
"You never show good sense,
and you don't understand
what I want you to do."

11In his anger, God told them,
"You people will never enter
my place of rest."

Psalm 96

Sing a New Song to the LORD

1Sing a new song to the LORD!
Everyone on this earth,
sing praises to the LORD,
2sing and praise his name.

Day after day announce,
"The LORD has saved us!"

3Tell every nation on earth,
"The LORD is wonderful
and does marvelous things!

4The LORD is great and deserves
our greatest praise!

He is the only God
worthy of our worship.

5Other nations worship idols,
but the LORD created
the heavens.

6Give honor and praise
to the LORD,
whose power and beauty
fill his holy temple."

7Tell everyone of every nation,
"Praise the glorious power
of the LORD.

8He is wonderful! Praise him
and bring an offering
into his temple.

9Everyone on earth, now tremble
and worship the LORD,
majestic and holy."

10Announce to the nations,
"The LORD is King!

The world stands firm,
never to be shaken,
and he will judge its people
with fairness."

11Tell the heavens and the earth
to be glad and celebrate!

Command the ocean to roar
with all of its creatures
12and the fields to rejoice
with all of their crops.

Then every tree in the forest
will sing joyful songs
13to the LORD.

He is coming to judge
all people on earth
with fairness and truth.

Psalm 95:8 Meribah and Massah: See the note at 81.7.

Proverbs 14:5-6 (Contemporary English Version)

5An honest witness
tells the truth;
a dishonest witness
tells nothing but lies.

6Make fun of wisdom,
and you will never find it.
But if you have understanding,
knowledge comes easily.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bible Readings for April 25, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 4:1–5:31; Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; and Proverbs 14:3-4. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 4-5:31 (Contemporary English Version)

Judges 4

Deborah and Barak

1After the death of Ehud, the Israelites again started disobeying the LORD.

2So the LORD let the Canaanite King Jabin of Hazor conquer Israel. Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, lived in Harosheth-Ha-Goiim.

3Jabin's army had nine hundred iron chariots, and for twenty years he made life miserable for the Israelites, until finally they begged the LORD for help.

4Deborah the wife of Lappidoth was a prophet and a leader [a] of Israel during those days.

5She would sit under Deborah's Palm Tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, where Israelites would come and ask her to settle their legal cases.

6One day, Barak the son of Abinoam was in Kedesh in Naphtali, and Deborah sent word for him to come and talk with her. When he arrived, she said:

I have a message for you from the LORD God of Israel! You are to get together an army of ten thousand men from the Naphtali and Zebulun tribes and lead them to Mount Tabor.

7The LORD will trick Sisera into coming out to fight you at the Kishon River. Sisera will be leading King Jabin's army as usual, and they will have their chariots, but the LORD has promised to help you defeat them.

8" I'm not going unless you go!" Barak told her.

9" All right, I'll go!" she replied. " But I'm warning you that the LORD is going to let a woman defeat Sisera, and no one will honor you for winning the battle."

Deborah and Barak left for Kedesh,

10where Barak called together the troops from Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand soldiers gathered there, and Barak led them out from Kedesh. Deborah went too.

11At this time, Heber of the Kenite clan was living near the village of Oak in Zaanannim, [b] not far from Kedesh. The Kenites were descendants of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, but Heber had moved and had set up his tents away from the rest of the clan.

12When Sisera learned that Barak had led an army to Mount Tabor,

13he called his troops together and got all nine hundred iron chariots ready. Then he led his army away from Harosheth-Ha-Goiim to the Kishon River.

14Deborah shouted, " Barak, it's time to attack Sisera! Because today the LORD is going to help you defeat him. In fact, the LORD has already gone on ahead to fight for you."

Barak led his ten thousand troops down from Mount Tabor.

15And during the battle, the LORD confused Sisera, his chariot drivers, and his whole army. Everyone was so afraid of Barak and his army, that even Sisera jumped down from his chariot and tried to escape.

16Barak's forces went after Sisera's chariots and army as far as Harosheth-Ha-Goiim.

Sisera's entire army was wiped out.

17Only Sisera escaped. He ran to Heber's camp, because Heber and his family had a peace treaty with the king of Hazor. Sisera went to the tent that belonged to Jael, Heber's wife.

18She came out to greet him and said, " Come in, sir! Please come on in. Don't be afraid."

After they had gone inside, Sisera lay down, and Jael covered him with a blanket.

19" Could I have a little water?" he asked. " I'm thirsty."

Jael opened a leather bottle and poured him some milk, then she covered him back up.

20" Stand at the entrance to the tent," Sisera told her. " If someone comes by and asks if anyone is inside, tell them `No.' "

21Sisera was exhausted and soon fell fast asleep. Jael took a hammer and drove a tent-peg through his head into the ground, and he died.

22Meanwhile, Barak had been following Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. " The man you're looking for is inside," she said. " Come in and I'll show him to you."

They went inside, and there was Sisera--dead and stretched out with a tent-peg through his skull.

23That same day the Israelites defeated the Canaanite King Jabin, and his army was no longer powerful enough to attack the Israelites.

24Jabin grew weaker while the Israelites kept growing stronger, and at last the Israelites destroyed him.

Judges 5

Deborah and Barak Sing for the LORD

1After the battle was over that day, Deborah and Barak sang this song:

2We praise you, LORD!
Our soldiers volunteered,
ready to follow you.

3Listen, kings and rulers,
while I sing for the LORD,
the God of Israel.

4Our LORD, God of Israel,
when you came from Seir,
where the Edomites live,
5rain poured from the sky,
the earth trembled,
and mountains shook.

6In the time of Shamgar
son of Anath,
and now again in Jael's time,
roads were too dangerous
for caravans.

Travelers had to take
the back roads,
7and villagers couldn't work
in their fields. [c]

Then Deborah [d]
took command, protecting Israel
as a mother
protects her children.

8The Israelites worshiped
other gods,
and the gates of their towns
were then attacked. [e]

But they had no shields
or spears to fight with.

9I praise you, LORD,
and I am grateful
for those leaders and soldiers
who volunteered.

10Listen, everyone!

Whether you ride a donkey
with a padded saddle
or have to walk.

11Even those who carry water [f]
to the animals will tell you,
" The LORD has won victories,
and so has Israel."

Then the LORD's people marched
down to the town gates
12and said, " Deborah, let's go!

Let's sing as we march.
Barak, capture our enemies."

13The LORD's people who were left
joined with their leaders
and fought at my side. [g]

14Troops came from Ephraim,
where Amalekites once lived.

Others came from Benjamin;
officers and leaders
from Machir and Zebulun.

15The rulers of Issachar
came along with Deborah,
and Issachar followed Barak
into the valley.

But the tribe of Reuben
was no help at all! [h]

16Reuben, why did you stay
among your sheep pens? [i]

Was it to listen to shepherds
whistling for their sheep?

No one could figure out
why Reuben wouldn't come. [j]

17The people of Gilead stayed
across the Jordan.

Why did the tribe of Dan
remain on their ships
and the tribe of Asher
stay along the coast
near the harbors?

18But soldiers of Zebulun
and Naphtali
risked their lives
to attack the enemy. [k]

19Canaanite kings fought us
at Taanach by the stream
near Megiddo [l]
-- but they couldn't rob us
of our silver. [m]

20From their pathways in the sky
the stars [n] fought Sisera,
21and his soldiers were swept away
by the ancient Kishon River.

I will march on and be brave.

22Sisera's horses galloped off,
their hoofs thundering
in retreat.

23The LORD's angel said,
" Put a curse on Meroz Town!
Its people refused
to help the LORD fight
his powerful enemies."

24But honor Jael,
the wife of Heber
from the Kenite clan.

Give more honor to her
than to any other woman
who lives in tents.

Yes, give more honor to her
than to any other woman.

25Sisera asked for water,
but Jael gave him milk--
cream in a fancy cup.

26She reached for a tent-peg
and held a hammer
in her right hand.

And with a blow to the head,
she crushed his skull.

27Sisera sank to his knees
and fell dead at her feet.

28Sisera's mother looked out
through her window.

" Why is he taking so long?"
she asked.

" Why haven't we heard
his chariots coming?"

29She and her wisest women
gave the same answer:
30" Sisera and his troops
are finding treasures
to bring back--
a woman, or maybe two,
for each man,
and beautiful dresses
for those women to wear." [o]

31Our LORD, we pray
that all your enemies
will die like Sisera.

But let everyone who loves you
shine brightly
like the sun
at dawn.

There was peace in Israel for about forty years.

Judges 4:4 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 4:11 the village. . . Zaanannim: Or " the oak tree in the town of Zaanannim."
Judges 5:7 villagers. . . fields: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 5:7 Deborah: Or " I, Deborah."
Judges 5:8 The Israelites. . . attacked: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 5:11 Even. . . water: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 5:13 side: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
Judges 5:15 But. . . at all: Or " But the people of Reuben couldn't make up their minds."
Judges 5:16 sheep pens: Or " campfires."
Judges 5:16 No. . . come: Or " The people of Reuben couldn't make up their minds."
Judges 5:18 to attack the enemy: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 5:19 stream near Megiddo: Probably refers to one of the streams that flow into the Kishon River.
Judges 5:19 rob us of our silver: The army that won a battle would take everything of value from the dead enemy soldiers.
Judges 5:20 stars: In ancient times, the stars were sometimes regarded as supernatural beings.
Judges 5:30 and beautiful. . . wear: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Luke 22:35-53 (Contemporary English Version)

Moneybags, Traveling Bags, and Swords

35Jesus asked his disciples, "When I sent you out without a moneybag or a traveling bag or sandals, did you need anything?"

"No!" they answered.

36Jesus told them, "But now, if you have a moneybag, take it with you. Also take a traveling bag, and if you don't have a sword, [a] sell some of your clothes and buy one. 37Do this because the Scriptures say, `He was considered a criminal.' This was written about me, and it will soon come true." 38The disciples said, "Lord, here are two swords!"

"Enough of that!" Jesus replied.

Jesus Prays
(Matthew 26.36-46; Mark 14.32-42)

39Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives, as he often did, and his disciples went with him. 40When they got there, he told them, "Pray that you won't be tested."

41Jesus walked on a little way before he knelt down and prayed, 42"Father, if you will, please don't make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. [b] But do what you want, and not what I want." 43Then an angel from heaven came to help him. 44Jesus was in great pain and prayed so sincerely that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood. [c] 45Jesus got up from praying and went over to his disciples. They were asleep and worn out from being so sad. 46He said to them, "Why are you asleep? Wake up and pray that you won't be tested."

Jesus Is Arrested
(Matthew 26.47-56; Mark 14.43-50; John 18.3-11)

47While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd came up. It was led by Judas, one of the twelve apostles. He went over to Jesus and greeted him with a kiss. [d] 48Jesus asked Judas, "Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

49When Jesus' disciples saw what was about to happen, they asked, "Lord, should we attack them with a sword?" 50One of the disciples even struck at the high priest's servant with his sword and cut off the servant's right ear.

51"Enough of that!" Jesus said. Then he touched the servant's ear and healed it.

52Jesus spoke to the chief priests, the temple police, and the leaders who had come to arrest him. He said, "Why do you come out with swords and clubs and treat me like a criminal? 53I was with you every day in the temple, and you didn't arrest me. But this is your time, and darkness [e] is in control."

Luke 22:36 moneybag. . . traveling bag. . . sword: These were things that someone would take on a dangerous journey. Jesus was telling his disciples to be ready for anything that might happen. They seem to have understood what he meant (see 22.49-51).
Luke 22:42 having me drink from this cup: In the Scriptures " to drink from a cup" sometimes means to suffer.
Luke 22:44 Then an angel. . . like drops of blood: Verses 43,44 are not in some manuscripts.
Luke 22:47 greeted him with a kiss: It was the custom for people to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek.
Luke 22:53 darkness: Darkness stands for the power of the devil.

Psalm 94:1-23 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 94

The LORD Punishes the Guilty

1LORD God, you punish
the guilty.

Show what you are like
and punish them now.

2You judge the earth.

Come and help us!

Pay back those proud people
for what they have done.

3How long will the wicked
celebrate and be glad?

4All of those cruel people
strut and boast,
5and they crush and wound
your chosen nation, LORD.

6They murder widows,
foreigners, and orphans.

7Then they say,
"The LORD God of Jacob
doesn't see or know."

8Can't you fools see?

Won't you ever learn?

9God gave us ears and eyes!

Can't he hear and see?

10God instructs the nations
and gives knowledge to us all.

Won't he also correct us?

11The LORD knows how useless
our plans really are.

12Our LORD, you bless everyone
that you instruct and teach
by using your Law.

13You give them rest
from their troubles,
until a pit can be dug
for the wicked.

14You won't turn your back
on your chosen nation.

15Justice and fairness
will go hand in hand,
and all who do right
will follow along.

16Who will stand up for me
against those cruel people?

17If you had not helped me, LORD,
I would soon have gone
to the land of silence. [a]

18When I felt my feet slipping,
you came with your love
and kept me steady.

19And when I was burdened
with worries,
you comforted me
and made me feel secure.

20But you are opposed
to dishonest lawmakers
21who gang up to murder
innocent victims.

22You, LORD God, are my fortress,
that mighty rock [b]
where I am safe.

23You will pay back my enemies,
and you will wipe them out
for the evil they did.

Psalm 94:17 land of silence: The grave or the world of the dead.
Psalm 94:22 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.

Proverbs 14:3-4 (Contemporary English Version)

3Proud fools are punished
for their stupid talk,
but sensible talk
can save your life.

4Without the help of an ox
there can be no crop,
but with a strong ox
a big crop is possible.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bible Readings for April 24, 2011

Today our passages are Judges 2:10–3:31; Luke 22:14-34; Psalm 92:1–93:5; and Proverbs 14:1-2. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Judges 2:10-3:31 (Contemporary English Version)

10After a while the people of Joshua's generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things he had done for Israel.

11-13The LORD had brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they had worshiped him. But now the Israelites stopped worshiping the LORD and worshiped the idols of Baal and Astarte, as well as the idols of other gods from nearby nations.

The LORD was so angry

14-15at the Israelites that he let other nations raid Israel and steal their crops and other possessions. Enemies were everywhere, and the LORD always let them defeat Israel in battle. The LORD had warned Israel he would do this, and now the Israelites were miserable.

The LORD Chooses Leaders for Israel

16From time to time, the LORD would choose special leaders known as judges. [a] These judges would lead the Israelites into battle and defeat the enemies that made raids on them.
17In years gone by, the Israelites had been faithful to the LORD, but now they were quick to be unfaithful and to refuse even to listen to these judges. The Israelites would disobey the LORD, and instead of worshiping him, they would worship other gods.

18When enemies made life miserable for the Israelites, the LORD would feel sorry for them. He would choose a judge and help that judge rescue Israel from its enemies. The LORD would be kind to Israel as long as that judge lived.

19But afterwards, the Israelites would become even more sinful than their ancestors had been. The Israelites were stubborn--they simply would not stop worshiping other gods or following the teachings of other religions.

The LORD Lets Enemies Test Israel

20The LORD was angry with Israel and said:

The Israelites have broken the agreement I made with their ancestors. They won't obey me,

21so I'll stop helping them defeat their enemies. Israel still had a lot of enemies when Joshua died,

22and I'm going to let those enemies stay. I'll use them to test Israel, because then I can find out if Israel will worship and obey me as their ancestors did.

23That's why the LORD had not let Joshua get rid of all those enemy nations right away.

Judges 3

1-2And the LORD had another reason for letting these enemies stay. The Israelites needed to learn how to fight in war, just as their ancestors had done. Each new generation would have to learn by fighting

3the Philistines and their five rulers, as well as the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites that lived in the Lebanon Mountains from Mount Baal-Hermon to Hamath Pass. [b]

4Moses had told the Israelites what the LORD had commanded them to do, and now the LORD was using these nations to find out if Israel would obey.

5-6But they refused. And it was because of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites who lived all around them. Some of the Israelites married the people of these nations, and that's how they started worshiping foreign gods.


7The Israelites sinned against the LORD by forgetting him and worshiping idols of Baal and Astarte.

8This made the LORD angry, so he let Israel be defeated by King Cushan Rishathaim of northern Syria, [c] who ruled Israel eight years and made everyone pay taxes.

9The Israelites begged the LORD for help, and he chose Othniel to rescue them. Othniel was the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz. [d]

10The Spirit of the LORD took control of Othniel, and he led Israel in a war against Cushan Rishathaim. The LORD gave Othniel victory,

11and Israel was at peace until Othniel died about forty years later.


12Once more the Israelites started disobeying the LORD. So he let them be defeated by King Eglon of Moab,

13who had joined forces with the Ammonites and the Amalekites to attack Israel. Eglon and his army captured Jericho. [e]

14Then he ruled Israel for eighteen years and forced the Israelites to pay heavy taxes.

15-16The Israelites begged the LORD for help, and the LORD chose Ehud [f] from the Benjamin tribe to rescue them. They put Ehud in charge of taking the taxes to King Eglon, but before Ehud went, he made a double-edged dagger. Ehud was left-handed, so he strapped the dagger to his right thigh, where it would be hidden under his robes.

17-18Ehud and some other Israelites took the taxes to Eglon, who was a very fat man. As soon as they gave the taxes to Eglon, Ehud said it was time to go home.

19-20Ehud went with the other Israelites as far as the statues [g] at Gilgal. [h] Then he turned back and went upstairs to the cool room [i] where Eglon had his throne. Ehud said, " Your Majesty, I need to talk with you in private." Eglon replied, " Don't say anything yet!" His officials left the room, and Eglon stood up as Ehud came closer.

" Yes," Ehud said, " I have a message for you from God!"

21Ehud pulled out the dagger with his left hand and shoved it so far into Eglon's stomach

22-23that even the handle was buried in his fat. Ehud left the dagger there. Then after closing and locking the doors to the room, he climbed through a window onto the porch [j]

24and left. When the king's officials came back and saw that the doors were locked, they said, " The king is probably inside relieving himself."

25They stood there waiting until they felt foolish, but Eglon never opened the doors. Finally, they unlocked the doors and found King Eglon lying dead on the floor.

26But by that time, Ehud had already escaped past the statues. [k] Ehud went to the town of Seirah

27-28in the hill country of Ephraim and started blowing a signal on a trumpet. The Israelites came together, and he shouted, " Follow me! The LORD will help us defeat the Moabites."

The Israelites followed Ehud down to the Jordan valley, and they captured the places where people cross the river on the way to Moab. They would not let anyone go across,

29and before the fighting was over, they killed about ten thousand Moabite warriors--not one escaped alive.

30Moab was so badly defeated that it was a long time before they were strong enough to attack Israel again. And Israel was at peace for eighty years.


31Shamgar the son of Anath was the next to rescue Israel. In one battle, he used a sharp wooden pole [l] to kill six hundred Philistines.

Judges 2:16 special leaders known as judges: The Hebrew text has " judges." In addition to leading Israelites in battle, these special leaders also decided legal cases and sometimes performed religious duties.
Judges 3:3 Hamath Pass: Or " Lebo-Hamath."
Judges 3:8 northern Syria: The Hebrew text has " Aram-Naharaim," probably referring to the land around the city of Haran (see Genesis 24.10; 25.20; 28.2,6; 31.18,20; 33.18; 35.23-26; 46.8-15; 48.7).
Judges 3:9 Othniel was the son of. . . Kenaz: See the note at 1.13.
Judges 3:13 Jericho: See the note at 1.16.
Judges 3:15 Ehud: Hebrew " Ehud the son of Gera."
Judges 3:19 statues: Or " stone idols" or " stone monuments."
Judges 3:19 Gilgal: About a mile and a half from Jericho, where Eglon probably was (see verse 13).
Judges 3:19 upstairs. . . cool room: Houses usually had flat roofs, and sometimes a room was built on one corner of the roof where it could best catch the breeze and be kept cooler than the rest of the house.
Judges 3:22 he climbed. . . porch: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 3:26 statues: See the note at 3.19,20.
Judges 3:31 sharp wooden pole: The Hebrew text has " cattle-prod," a pole with a sharpened tip or metal point at one end.

Luke 22:14-34 (Contemporary English Version)

The Lord's Supper
(Matthew 26.26-30; Mark 14.22-26; 1 Corinthians 11.23-25)

14When the time came for Jesus and the apostles to eat, 15he said to them, "I have very much wanted to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. 16I tell you that I will not eat another Passover meal until it is finally eaten in God's kingdom."

17Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he told the apostles, "Take this wine and share it with each other. 18I tell you that I will not drink any more wine until God's kingdom comes."

19Jesus took some bread in his hands and gave thanks for it. He broke the bread and handed it to his apostles. Then he said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this as a way of remembering me!"

20After the meal he took another cup of wine in his hands. Then he said, "This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement. 21The one who will betray me is here at the table with me! 22The Son of Man will die in the way that has been decided for him, but it will be terrible for the one who betrays him!"

23Then the apostles started arguing about who would ever do such a thing.

An Argument about Greatness

24The apostles got into an argument about which one of them was the greatest. 25So Jesus told them:
Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone's friends. [a] 26But don't be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. 27Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn't it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant. 28You have stayed with me in all my troubles. 29So I will give you the right to rule as kings, just as my Father has given me the right to rule as a king. 30You will eat and drink with me in my kingdom, and you will each sit on a throne to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus' Disciples Will Be Tested
(Matthew 26.31-35; Mark 14.27-31; John 13.36-38)

31Jesus said, "Simon, listen to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each one of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks. [b] 32But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others." 33Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to jail and even to die with you."

34Jesus replied, "Peter, I tell you that before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me."

Luke 22:25 everyone's friends: This translates a Greek word that rulers sometimes used as a title for themselves or for special friends.
Luke 22:31 separates wheat from the husks: See the note at 3.17.

Psalm 92-93:5 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 92
(A psalm and a song for the Sabbath.)

Sing Praises to the LORD

1It is wonderful to be grateful
and to sing your praises,
LORD Most High!

2It is wonderful each morning
to tell about your love
and at night to announce
how faithful you are.

3I enjoy praising your name
to the music of harps,
4because everything you do
makes me happy,
and I sing joyful songs.

5You do great things, LORD.

Your thoughts are too deep
6for an ignorant fool
to know or understand.

7Though the wicked sprout
and spread like grass,
they will be pulled up
by their roots.

8But you will rule
over all of us forever,
9and your hateful enemies
will be scattered
and then destroyed.

10You have given me
the strength of a wild ox,
and you have chosen me
to be your very own.

11My eyes have seen,
and my ears have heard
the doom and destruction
of my terrible enemies.

12Good people will prosper
like palm trees,
and they will grow strong
like the cedars of Lebanon.

13They will take root
in your house, LORD God,
and they will do well.

14They will be like trees
that stay healthy and fruitful,
even when they are old.

15And they will say about you,
"The LORD always does right!
God is our mighty rock." [a]

Psalm 93

The LORD Is King

1Our LORD, you are King!
Majesty and power
are your royal robes.

You put the world in place,
and it will never be moved.

2You have always ruled,
and you are eternal.

3The ocean is roaring, LORD!

The sea is pounding hard.

4Its mighty waves are majestic,
but you are more majestic,
and you rule over all.

5Your decisions are firm,
and your temple will always
be beautiful and holy.

Psalm 92:15 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.

Proverbs 14:1-2 (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 14

Wisdom Makes Good Sense

1A woman's family
is held together
by her wisdom,
but it can be destroyed
by her foolishness.

2By living right, you show
what you respect the LORD;
by being deceitful, you show
that you despise him.