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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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bible Reading for July 31, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 29:1-36; Romans 14:1-23; Psalm 24:1-10; and Proverbs 20:12. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 29:1-36 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 29

King Hezekiah of Judah
(2 Kings 18.1-3)

1Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled twenty-nine years from Jerusalem. His mother was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.

2Hezekiah obeyed the LORD by doing right, just as his ancestor David had done.

The Temple Is Purified

3In the first month [a] of the first year of Hezekiah's rule, he unlocked the doors to the LORD's temple and had them repaired. [b]

4Then he called the priests and Levites to the east courtyard of the temple

5and said: It's time to purify the temple of the LORD God of our ancestors. You Levites must first go through the ceremony to make yourselves clean, then go into the temple and bring out everything that is unclean and unacceptable to the LORD.

6Some of our ancestors were unfaithful and disobeyed the LORD our God. Not only did they turn their backs on the LORD, but they also completely ignored his temple.

7They locked the doors, then let the lamps go out and stopped burning incense and offering sacrifices to him.

8The LORD became terribly angry at the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and everyone was shocked and horrified at what he did to punish them. Not only were

9our ancestors killed in battle, but our own children and wives were taken captive.

10So I have decided to renew our agreement with the LORD God of Israel. Maybe then he will stop being so angry at us.

11Let's not waste any time, my friends. You are the ones who were chosen to be the LORD's priests and to offer him sacrifices.

12-14When Hezekiah finished talking, the following Levite leaders went to work:

Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah from the Kohath clan; Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel from the Merari clan; Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah from the Gershon clan; Shimri and Jeuel from the Elizaphan clan; Zechariah and Mattaniah from the Asaph clan; Jehuel and Shimei from the Heman clan; Shemaiah and Uzziel from the Jeduthun clan.

15These leaders gathered together the rest of the Levites, and they all went through the ceremony to make themselves clean. Then they began to purify the temple according to the Law of the LORD, just as Hezekiah had commanded.

16The priests went into the temple and carried out everything that was unclean. They put these things in the courtyard, and from there, the Levites carried them outside the city to Kidron Valley.

17The priests and Levites began their work on the first day of the first month. [c] It took them one week to purify the courtyards of the temple and another week to purify the temple. So on the sixteenth day of that same month

18they went back to Hezekiah and said: Your Majesty, we have finished our work. The entire temple is now pure again, and so is the altar and its utensils, as well as the table for the sacred loaves of bread and its utensils.

19And we have brought back all the things that King Ahaz took from the temple during the time he was unfaithful to God. We purified them and put them back in front of the altar.

Worship in the Temple

20Right away, Hezekiah called together the officials of Jerusalem, and they went to the temple.

21They brought with them seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven goats [d] as sacrifices to take away the sins of Hezekiah's family and of the people of Judah, as well as to purify the temple. Hezekiah told the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to sacrifice these animals on the altar.

22The priests killed the bulls, the rams, and the lambs, then splattered the blood on the altar.

23They took the goats to Hezekiah and the worshipers, and they laid their hands on the animals.

24The priests then killed the goats and splattered the blood on the altar as a sacrifice to take away the sins of everyone in Israel, because Hezekiah had commanded that these sacrifices be made for all the people of Israel.

25Next, Hezekiah assigned the Levites to their places in the temple. He gave them cymbals, harps, and other stringed instruments, according to the instructions that the LORD had given King David and the two prophets, Gad and Nathan.

26The Levites were ready to play the instruments that had belonged to David; the priests were ready to blow the trumpets.

27As soon as Hezekiah gave the signal for the sacrifices to be burned on the altar, the musicians began singing praises to the LORD and playing their instruments,

28and everyone worshiped the LORD. This continued until the last animal was sacrificed.

29After that, Hezekiah and the crowd of worshipers knelt down and worshiped the LORD.

30Then Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to sing the songs of praise that David and Asaph the prophet had written. And so they bowed down and joyfully sang praises to the LORD.

31Hezekiah said to the crowd, "Now that you are once again acceptable to the LORD, bring sacrifices and offerings to give him thanks."

The people did this, and some of them voluntarily brought animals to be offered as sacrifices.

32Seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs were brought as sacrifices to please the LORD; [e]

33six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep were brought as sacrifices to ask the LORD's blessing. [f]

34There were not enough priests to skin all these animals, because many of the priests had not taken the time to go through the ceremony to make themselves clean. However, since all the Levites had made themselves clean, they helped the priests until the last animal was skinned.

35Besides all the sacrifices that were burned on the altar, the fat from the other animal sacrifices was burned, and the offerings of wine were poured over the altar. So the temple was once again used for worshiping the LORD.

36Hezekiah and the people of Judah celebrated, because God had helped them make this happen so quickly.

2 Chronicles 29:3 first month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
2 Chronicles 29:3 he unlocked the doors. . . repaired: King Ahaz had locked the doors and stopped everyone from worshiping the LORD (see 28.24,25).
2 Chronicles 29:17 first month: See the note at 29.3.
2 Chronicles 29:21 goats: Hebrew "male goats."
2 Chronicles 29:32 sacrifices to please the LORD: See the note at 1.6.
2 Chronicles 29:33 sacrifices to ask the LORD's blessing: These sacrifices have traditionally been called "peace offerings" or "offerings of well-being." A main purpose was to ask for the LORD's blessing, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called "sacrifices to ask the LORD's blessing."

Romans 14:1-23 (Contemporary English Version)

Romans 14

Don't Criticize Others

1Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. 2Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. 3But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. 4What right do you have to criticize someone else's servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.

5Some of the Lord's followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. 6Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honor their Lord. And any followers who eat meat give thanks to God, just like the ones who don't eat meat.

7Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. 8Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. 9This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. 10Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us. 11In the Scriptures God says,

"I swear by my very life
that everyone will kneel down
and praise my name!"

12And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do.

Don't Cause Problems for Others

13We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone's faith. 14The Lord Jesus has made it clear to me that God considers all foods fit to eat. But if you think some foods are unfit to eat, then for you they are not fit.

15If you are hurting others by the foods you eat, you are not guided by love. Don't let your appetite destroy someone Christ died for. 16Don't let your right to eat bring shame to Christ. 17God's kingdom isn't about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. 19We should try a] to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith. 20Don't let your appetite destroy what God has done. All foods are fit to eat, but it is wrong to cause problems for others by what you eat. 21It is best not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that causes problems for other followers of the Lord. 22What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God. You are fortunate, if your actions don't make you have doubts. 23But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs. And you know that is wrong, because anything you do against your beliefs is sin.

Romans 14:19 We should try: Some manuscripts have " We try."

Psalm 24:1-10 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 24
(A psalm by David.)

Who Can Enter the LORD's Temple?

1The earth and everything on it
belong to the LORD.

The world and its people
belong to him.

2The LORD placed it all
on the oceans and rivers.

3Who may climb the LORD's hill a]
or stand in his holy temple?

4Only those who do right
for the right reasons,
and don't worship idols
or tell lies under oath.

5The LORD God, who saves them,
will bless and reward them,
6because they worship and serve
the God of Jacob. b]

7Open the ancient gates,
so that the glorious king
may come in.

8Who is this glorious king?

He is our LORD, a strong
and mighty warrior.

9Open the ancient gates,
so that the glorious king
may come in.

10Who is this glorious king?

He is our LORD,
the All-Powerful!

Psalm 24:3 the LORD's hill: The hill in Jerusalem where the temple was built.
Psalm 24:6 worship. . . Jacob: Two ancient translations; Hebrew " worship God and serve the descendants of Jacob."

Proverbs 20:12 (Contemporary English Version)

12Hearing and seeing
are gifts from the LORD.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bible Readings for July 30, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 26:1–28:27; Romans 13:1-14; Psalm 23:1-6; and Proverbs 20:11. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 26-28:27 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 26

King Uzziah of Judah
(2 Kings 14.21,22; 15.1-7)

1-3After the death of King Amaziah, the people of Judah crowned his son Uzziah [a] king, even though he was only sixteen at the time. Uzziah ruled fifty-two years from Jerusalem, the hometown of his mother Jecoliah. During his rule, he recaptured and rebuilt the town of Elath.

4He obeyed the LORD by doing right, as his father Amaziah had done.

5Zechariah was Uzziah's advisor and taught him to obey God. And so, as long as Zechariah was alive, Uzziah was faithful to God, and God made him successful.

6While Uzziah was king, he started a war against the Philistines. He smashed the walls of the cities of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod, then rebuilt towns around Ashdod and in other parts of Philistia.

7God helped him defeat the Philistines, the Arabs living in Gur-Baal, and the Meunites.

8Even the Ammonites paid taxes to Uzziah. He became very powerful, and people who lived as far away as Egypt heard about him.

9In Jerusalem, Uzziah built fortified towers at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate, and the place where the city wall turned inward. [b]

10He also built defense towers out in the desert. He owned such a large herd of livestock in the western foothills and in the flatlands, that he had cisterns dug there to catch the rainwater. He loved farming, so he had crops and vineyards planted in the hill country wherever there was fertile soil, and he hired farmers to take care of them.

11Uzziah's army was always ready for battle. Jeiel and Maaseiah were the officers who kept track of the number of soldiers, and these two men were under the command of Hananiah, one of Uzziah's officials.

12-13There were 307,500 trained soldiers, all under the command of 2,600 clan leaders. These powerful troops protected the king against any enemy.

14Uzziah supplied his army with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows, and stones used for slinging.

15Some of his skilled workers invented machines that could shoot arrows and sling large stones. Uzziah set these up in Jerusalem at his defense towers and at the corners of the city wall.

God helped Uzziah become more and more powerful, and he was famous all over the world.

Uzziah Becomes Too Proud

16Uzziah became proud of his power, and this led to his downfall.

One day, Uzziah disobeyed the LORD his God by going into the temple and burning incense as an offering to him. [c]

17Azariah the priest and eighty other brave priests followed Uzziah into the temple

18and said, "Your Majesty, this isn't right! You are not allowed to burn incense to the LORD. That must be done only by priests who are descendants of Aaron. You will have to leave! You have sinned against the LORD, and so he will no longer bless you."

19Uzziah, who was standing next to the incense altar at the time, was holding the incense burner, ready to offer incense to the LORD. He became very angry when he heard Azariah's warning, and leprosy [d] suddenly appeared on his forehead!

20Azariah and the other priests saw it and immediately told him to leave the temple. Uzziah realized that the LORD had punished him, so he hurried to get outside.

21Uzziah had leprosy the rest of his life. He was no longer allowed in the temple or in his own palace. That's why his son Jotham lived there and ruled in his place.

22Everything else Uzziah did while he was king is in the records written by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.

23Since Uzziah had leprosy, he could not be buried in the royal tombs. Instead, he was buried in a nearby cemetery that the kings owned. His son Jotham then became king.

2 Chronicles 27

King Jotham of Judah
(2 Kings 15.32-38)

1Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for sixteen years. Jerushah his mother was the daughter of Zadok.

2Jotham obeyed the LORD and did right. He followed the example of his father Uzziah, except he never burned incense in the temple as his father had done. But the people of Judah kept sinning against the LORD.

3Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple and did a lot of work to repair the wall near Mount Ophel.

4He built towns in the mountains of Judah and built fortresses and defense towers in the forests.

5During his rule he attacked and defeated the Ammonites. Then every year for the next three years, he forced them to pay four tons of silver, sixty thousand bushels of wheat, and sixty thousand bushels of barley.

6Jotham remained faithful to the LORD his God and became a very powerful king.

7Everything else Jotham did while he was king, including the wars he fought, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

8After he had ruled Judah sixteen years, he died at the age of forty-one.

9He was buried in Jerusalem, and his son Ahaz became king.

2 Chronicles 28

King Ahaz of Judah
(2 Kings 16.1-4)

1Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for sixteen years.

Ahaz was nothing like his ancestor David. Ahaz disobeyed the LORD

2and was as sinful as the kings of Israel. He made idols of the god Baal,

3and he offered sacrifices in Hinnom Valley. Worst of all, Ahaz sacrificed his own sons, which was a disgusting custom of the nations that the LORD had forced out of Israel.

4Ahaz offered sacrifices at the local shrines, [e] as well as on every hill and in the shade of large trees.

Syria and Israel Attack Judah
(2 Kings 16.5,6)

5-6Ahaz and the people of Judah sinned and turned away from the LORD, the God their ancestors had worshiped. So the LORD punished them by letting their enemies defeat them.

The king of Syria attacked Judah and took many of its people to Damascus as prisoners. King Pekah [f] of Israel later defeated Judah and killed one hundred twenty thousand of its bravest soldiers in one day.

7During that battle, an Israelite soldier named Zichri killed three men from Judah: Maaseiah the king's son; Azrikam, the official in charge of the palace; and Elkanah, the king's second in command.

8The Israelite troops captured two hundred thousand women and children and took them back to their capital city of Samaria, along with a large amount of their possessions. They did these things even though the people of Judah were their own relatives.

Oded the Prophet Condemns Israel

9Oded lived in Samaria and was one of the LORD's prophets. He met Israel's army on their way back from Judah and said to them:

The LORD God of your ancestors let you defeat Judah's army only because he was angry with them. But you should not have been so cruel!

10If you make slaves of the people of Judah and Jerusalem, you will be as guilty as they are of sinning against the LORD.

11Send these prisoners back home--they are your own relatives. If you don't, the LORD will punish you in his anger.

12About the same time, four of Israel's leaders arrived. They were Azariah son of Johanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai. They agreed with Oded that the Israelite troops were wrong,

13and they said:

If you bring these prisoners into Samaria, that will be one more thing we've done to sin against the LORD. And he is already angry enough at us.

14So in front of the leaders and the crowd, the troops handed over their prisoners and the property they had taken from Judah.

15The four leaders took some of the stolen clothes and gave them to the prisoners who needed something to wear. They later gave them all a new change of clothes and shoes, then fixed them something to eat and drink, and cleaned their wounds with olive oil. They gave donkeys to those who were too weak to walk, and led all of them back to Jericho, the city known for its palm trees. The leaders then returned to Samaria.

Ahaz Asks the King of Assyria for Help
(2 Kings 16.7-9)

16-18Some time later, the Edomites attacked the eastern part of Judah again and carried away prisoners. And at the same time, the Philistines raided towns in the western foothills and in the Southern Desert. They conquered the towns of Beth-Shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo, including the villages around them. Then some of the Philistines went to live in these places.

Ahaz sent a message to King Tiglath Pileser of Assyria and begged for help.

19But God was punishing Judah with these disasters, because Ahaz had disobeyed him and refused to stop Judah from sinning.

20So Tiglath Pileser came to Judah, but instead of helping, he made things worse.

21Ahaz gave him gifts from the LORD's temple and the king's palace, as well as from the homes of Israel's other leaders. The Assyrian king still refused to help Ahaz.

The Final Sin of Ahaz and His Death

22Even after all these terrible things happened to Ahaz, he sinned against the LORD even worse than before.

23He said to himself, "The Syrian gods must have helped their kings defeat me. Maybe if I offer sacrifices to those gods, they will help me." That was the sin that finally led to the downfall of Ahaz, as well as to the destruction of Judah.

24Ahaz collected all the furnishings of the temple and smashed them to pieces. Then he locked the doors to the temple and set up altars to foreign gods on every street corner in Jerusalem.

25In every city and town in Judah he built local shrines [g] to worship foreign gods. All of this made the LORD God of his ancestors very angry.

26Everything else Ahaz did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

27Ahaz died and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs. His son Hezekiah then became king.

2 Chronicles 26:1 Uzziah: In the parallel passages in 2 Kings, he is called "Azariah" (see also 1 Chronicles 3.10-15). He is also called "Uzziah" in 2 Kings 15.13; Isaiah 1.1; Hosea 1.1; and Amos 1.1. One of these names was probably his birth name, while the other was his name after he became king.
2 Chronicles 26:9 the place where the city wall turned inward: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
2 Chronicles 26:16 going into the temple and burning incense as an offering to him: This was to be done only by priests (see Exodus 30.1-10; Numbers 16.39,40).
2 Chronicles 26:19 leprosy: The word translated "leprosy" was used for many different kinds of skin diseases.
2 Chronicles 28:4 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
2 Chronicles 28:5 Pekah: Hebrew "Pekah son of Remaliah."
2 Chronicles 28:25 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.

Romans 13:1-14 (Contemporary English Version)

Romans 13

Obey Rulers

1Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. 2People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished. 3Rulers are a threat to evil people, not to good people. There is no need to be afraid of the authorities. Just do right, and they will praise you for it. 4After all, they are God's servants, and it is their duty to help you.

If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God's servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is. 5But you should obey the rulers because you know it is the right thing to do, and not just because of God's anger.

6You must also pay your taxes. The authorities are God's servants, and it is their duty to take care of these matters. 7Pay all that you owe, whether it is taxes and fees or respect and honor.


8Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands. 9In the Law there are many commands, such as, "Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others." But all of these are summed up in the command that says, "Love others as much as you love yourself." 10No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands.

The Day When Christ Returns

11You know what sort of times we live in, and so you should live properly. It is time to wake up. You know that the day when we will be saved is nearer now than when we first put our faith in the Lord. 12Night is almost over, and day will soon appear. We must stop behaving as people do in the dark and be ready to live in the light. 13So behave properly, as people do in the day. Don't go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent. Don't quarrel or be jealous. 14Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won't try to satisfy your selfish desires.

Psalm 23:1-6 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 23
(A psalm by David.)

The Good Shepherd

1You, LORD, are my shepherd.

I will never be in need.

2You let me rest in fields
of green grass.

You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
3and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
and you lead me
along the right paths.

4I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but I won't be afraid.

You are with me,
and your shepherd's rod [a]
makes me feel safe.

5You treat me to a feast,
while my enemies watch.

You honor me as your guest,
and you fill my cup
until it overflows.

6Your kindness and love
will always be with me
each day of my life,
and I will live forever
in your house, LORD.

Psalm 23:4 shepherd's rod: The Hebrew text mentions two objects carried by the shepherd: a club to defend against wild animals and a long pole to guide and control the sheep.

Proverbs 20:11 (Contemporary English Version)

11The good or bad
that children do
shows what they are like.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bible Readings for July 29, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 24:1–25:28; Romans 12:1-21; Psalm 22:19-31; and Proverbs 20:8-10. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 24-25:28 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 24

King Joash of Judah
(2 Kings 12.1-16)

1Joash was only seven years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled forty years from Jerusalem. His mother Zibiah was from the town of Beersheba.

2While Jehoiada the priest was alive, Joash obeyed the LORD by doing right.

3Jehoiada even chose two women for Joash to marry so he could have a family.

4Some time later, Joash decided it was time to repair the temple.

5He called together the priests and Levites and said, "Go everywhere in Judah and collect the annual tax from the people. I want this done right away--we need that money to repair the temple."

But the Levites were in no hurry to follow the king's orders.

6So he sent for Jehoiada the high priest and asked, "Why didn't you send the Levites to collect the taxes? The LORD's servant Moses and the people agreed long ago that this tax would be collected and used to pay for the upkeep of the sacred tent.

7And now we need it to repair the temple because the sons of that evil woman Athaliah came in and wrecked it. They even used some of the sacred objects to worship the god Baal."

8Joash gave orders for a wooden box to be made and had it placed outside, near the gate of the temple.

9He then sent letters everywhere in Judah and Jerusalem, asking everyone to bring their taxes to the temple, just as Moses had required their ancestors to do.

10The people and their leaders agreed, and they brought their money to Jerusalem and placed it in the box.

11Each day, after the Levites took the box into the temple, the king's secretary and the high priest's assistant would dump out the money and count it. Then the empty box would be taken back outside.

This happened day after day, and soon a large amount of money was collected.

12Joash and Jehoiada turned the money over to the men who were supervising the repairs to the temple. They used the money to hire stonecutters, carpenters, and experts in working with iron and bronze.

13These workers went right to work repairing the temple, and when they were finished, it looked as good as new.

14They did not use all the tax money for the repairs, so the rest of it was handed over to Joash and Jehoiada, who then used it to make dishes and other gold and silver objects for the temple.

Sacrifices to please the LORD [a] were offered regularly in the temple for as long as Jehoiada lived.

15He died at the ripe old age of one hundred thirty years,

16and he was buried in the royal tombs in Jerusalem, because he had done so much good for the people of Israel, for God, and for the temple.

Joash Turns Away from the LORD

17After the death of Jehoiada the priest, the leaders of Judah went to Joash and talked him into doing what they wanted.

18Right away, the people of Judah stopped worshiping in the temple of the LORD God, and they started worshiping idols and the symbols of the goddess Asherah. These sinful things made the LORD God angry at the people of Judah and Jerusalem,

19but he still sent prophets who warned them to turn back to him. The people refused to listen.

20God's Spirit spoke to Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest, and Zechariah told everyone that God was saying: "Why are you disobeying me and my laws? This will only bring punishment! You have deserted me, so now I will desert you."

21-22King Joash forgot that Zechariah's father had always been a loyal friend. So when the people of Judah plotted to kill Zechariah, Joash joined them and gave orders for them to stone him to death in the courtyard of the temple. As Zechariah was dying, he said, "I pray that the LORD will see this and punish all of you."

Joash Is Killed

23In the spring of the following year, the Syrian army invaded Judah and Jerusalem, killing all of the nation's leaders. They collected everything of value that belonged to the people and took it back to their king in Damascus.

24The Syrian army was very small, but the LORD let them defeat Judah's large army, because he was punishing Joash and the people of Judah for turning away from him.

25-26Joash was severely wounded during the battle, and as soon as the Syrians left Judah, two of his officials, Zabad and Jehozabad, [b] decided to revenge the death of Zechariah. They plotted and killed Joash while he was in bed, recovering from his wounds. Joash was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs.

27The History of the Kings also tells more about the sons of Joash, what the prophets said about him, and how he repaired the temple. Amaziah son of Joash became king after his father's death.

2 Chronicles 25

King Amaziah of Judah
(2 Kings 14.1-6)

1Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled twenty-nine years from Jerusalem, the hometown of his mother Jehoaddin. [c]

2Even though Amaziah obeyed the LORD by doing right, he refused to be completely faithful.

3For example, as soon as he had control of Judah, he arrested and killed the officers who had murdered his father.

4But the children of those officers were not killed; the LORD had commanded in the Law of Moses that only the people who sinned were to be punished. [d]

Edom Is Defeated
(2 Kings 14.7)

5Amaziah sent a message to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and called together all the men who were twenty years old and older. Three hundred thousand men went to Jerusalem, all of them ready for battle and able to fight with spears and shields. Amaziah grouped these soldiers according to their clans and put them under the command of his army officers.

6Amaziah also paid almost four tons of silver to hire one hundred thousand soldiers from Israel.

7One of God's prophets said, "Your Majesty, don't let these Israelite soldiers march into battle with you. The LORD has refused to help anyone from the northern kingdom of Israel,

8and so he will let your enemies defeat you, even if you fight hard. He is the one who brings both victory and defeat."

9Amaziah replied, "What am I supposed to do about all the silver I paid those troops?"

"The LORD will give you back even more than you paid," the prophet answered.

10Amaziah ordered the troops from Israel to go home, but when they left, they were furious with the people of Judah.

11After Amaziah got his courage back, he led his troops to Salt Valley, where he killed ten thousand Edomite soldiers in battle.

12He captured ten thousand more soldiers and dragged them to the top of a high cliff. Then he pushed them over the side, and they all were killed on the rocks below.

13Meanwhile, the Israelite troops that Amaziah had sent home, raided the towns in Judah between Samaria and Beth-Horon. They killed three thousand people and carried off their possessions.

14After Amaziah had defeated the Edomite army, he returned to Jerusalem. He took with him the idols of the Edomite gods and set them up. Then he bowed down and offered them sacrifices.

15This made the LORD very angry, and he sent a prophet to ask Amaziah, "Why would you worship these foreign gods that couldn't even save their own people from your attack?"

16But before the prophet finished speaking, Amaziah interrupted and said, "You're not one of my advisors! Don't say another word, or I'll have you killed."

The prophet stopped. But then he added, "First you sinned and now you've ignored my warning. It's clear that God has decided to punish you!"

Israel Defeats Judah
(2 Kings 14.8-14)

17King Amaziah of Judah talked with his officials, then sent a message to King Jehoash [e] of Israel: "Come out and face me in battle!"

18Jehoash sent back a reply that said:

Once upon a time, a small thornbush in Lebanon arranged the marriage between his son and the daughter of a large cedar tree. But a wild animal came along and trampled the small bush.

19Amaziah, you think you're so powerful because you defeated Edom. But stay at home and do your celebrating. If you cause any trouble, both you and your kingdom of Judah will be destroyed.

20God made Amaziah stubborn because he was planning to punish him for worshiping the Edomite gods. Amaziah refused to listen to Jehoash's warning,

21so Jehoash led his army to the town of Beth-Shemesh in Judah to attack Amaziah and his troops.

22During the battle, Judah's army was crushed. Every soldier from Judah ran back home,

23and Jehoash captured Amaziah.

Jehoash took Amaziah with him when he went to attack Jerusalem. Jehoash broke down the city wall from Ephraim Gate to Corner Gate, a section about six hundred feet long.

24He carried away the gold, the silver, and all the valuable furnishings from God's temple where the descendants of Obed-Edom stood guard. He robbed the king's treasury, took hostages, then returned to Samaria.

Amaziah Is Killed
(2 Kings 14.15-20)

25Amaziah lived fifteen years after Jehoash died.

26Everything else Amaziah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

27As soon as Amaziah started disobeying the LORD, some people in Jerusalem plotted against Amaziah. He was able to escape to the town of Lachish, but another group of people caught him and killed him there.

28His body was taken to Jerusalem on horseback and buried beside his ancestors.

2 Chronicles 24:14 Sacrifices to please the LORD: See the note at 1.6.
2 Chronicles 24:25 Zabad and Jehozabad: Hebrew "Zabad son of Shimeath from Ammon and Jehozabad son of Shimrith from Moab."
2 Chronicles 25:1 Jehoaddin: The Hebrew text has "Jehoaddan," another spelling of the name.
2 Chronicles 25:4 the LORD had commanded. . . punished: See Deuteronomy 24.16.
2 Chronicles 25:17 King Jehoash: The Hebrew text has "King Joash son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu"; Jehoash is another spelling for the name Joash.

Romans 12:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Romans 12

Christ Brings New Life

1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.

3I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. 4A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. 5That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.

6God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. 7If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. 8If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully.

Rules for Christian Living

9Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. 11Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home.
14Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. 15When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. 16Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. a] 17Don't mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, 18and do your best to live at peace with everyone. 19Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says,

"I am the one to take revenge
and pay them back."

20The Scriptures also say,

"If your enemies are hungry,
give them something to eat.
And if they are thirsty,
give them something
to drink.
This will be the same
as piling burning coals
on their heads."

21Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.

Romans 12:16 Make friends with ordinary people: Or " Do ordinary jobs."

Psalm 22:19-31 (Contemporary English Version)

19Don't stay far away, LORD!

My strength comes from you,
so hurry and help.

20Rescue me from enemy swords
and save me from those dogs.

21Don't let lions eat me.

You rescued me from the horns
of wild bulls,
22and when your people meet,
I will praise you, LORD.

23All who worship the LORD,
now praise him!

You belong to Jacob's family
and to the people of Israel,
so fear and honor the LORD!

24The LORD doesn't hate
or despise the helpless
in all of their troubles.

When I cried out, he listened
and did not turn away.

25When your people meet,
you will fill my heart
with your praises, LORD,
and everyone will see me
keep my promises to you.

26The poor will eat and be full,
and all who worship you
will be thankful
and live in hope.

27Everyone on this earth
will remember you, LORD.

People all over the world
will turn and worship you,
28because you are in control,
the ruler of all nations.

29All who are rich
and have more than enough
will bow down to you, Lord.

Even those who are dying
and almost in the grave
will come and bow down.

30In the future, everyone
will worship
and learn
about you, our Lord.

31People not yet born
will be told,
"The Lord has saved us!"

Proverbs 20:8-10 (Contemporary English Version)

8When rulers decide cases,
they weigh the evidence.

9Can any of us really say,
"My thoughts are pure,
and my sins are gone"?

10Two things the LORD hates
are dishonest scales
and dishonest measures.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bible Readings for July 28, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 21:1–23:21; Romans 11:13-36; Psalm 22:1-18; and Proverbs 20:7. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 21-23:21 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 21

1Jehoshaphat died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem, and his son Jehoram became king.

King Jehoram of Judah
(2 Kings 8.16-24)

2King Jehoshaphat had seven sons: Jehoram, Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah.

3Jehoshaphat gave each of them silver and gold, as well as other valuable gifts. He also put them in charge of the fortified cities in Judah, but he had chosen his oldest son Jehoram to succeed him as king.

4After Jehoram had taken control of Judah, he had his brothers killed, as well as some of the nation's leaders.

5He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he ruled eight years from Jerusalem.

6Jehoram married Ahab's daughter and followed the sinful example of Ahab's family and the other kings of Israel. He disobeyed the LORD by doing wrong,

7but because the LORD had made a solemn promise to King David that someone from his family would always rule in Judah, he refused to wipe out David's descendants.

8While Jehoram was king, the people of Edom rebelled and chose their own king.

9Jehoram, his officers, and his cavalry marched to Edom, where the Edomite army surrounded them. He escaped during the night,

10but Judah was never able to regain control of Edom. Even the town of Libnah [a] rebelled at that time. Those things happened because Jehoram had turned away from the LORD, the God his ancestors had worshiped.

11Jehoram even built local shrines [b] in the hills of Judah and let the people sin against the LORD by worshiping foreign gods.

12One day, Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet that said:

I have a message for you from the LORD God your ancestor David worshiped. He knows that you have not followed the example of Jehoshaphat your father or Asa your grandfather.

13Instead you have acted like those sinful kings of Israel and have encouraged the people of Judah to stop worshiping the LORD, just as Ahab and his descendants did. You even murdered your own brothers, who were better men than you.

14Because you have done these terrible things, the LORD will severely punish the people in your kingdom, including your own family, and he will destroy everything you own.

15You will be struck with a painful stomach disease and suffer until you die.

16The LORD later caused the Philistines and the Arabs who lived near the Ethiopians [c] to become angry at Jehoram.

17They invaded Judah and stole the royal property from the palace, and they led Jehoram's wives and sons away as prisoners. The only one left behind was Ahaziah, [d] his youngest son.

18After this happened, the LORD struck Jehoram with an incurable stomach disease.

19About two years later, Jehoram died in terrible pain. No bonfire was built to honor him, even though the people had done this for his ancestors.

20Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he ruled eight years from Jerusalem. He died, and no one even felt sad. He was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs.

2 Chronicles 22

King Ahaziah of Judah
(2 Kings 8.25-29; 9.21,27,28)

1Earlier, when the Arabs led a raid against Judah, they killed all of Jehoram's sons, except Ahaziah, the youngest one. So the people of Jerusalem crowned him their king.

2He was twenty-two [e] years old at the time, and he ruled only one year from Jerusalem. Ahaziah's mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel,

3and she encouraged her son to sin against the LORD. He followed the evil example of King Ahab and his descendants.

4In fact, after his father's death, Ahaziah sinned against the LORD by appointing some of Ahab's relatives to be his advisors.

Their advice led to his downfall.

5He listened to them and went with King Joram of Israel to attack King Hazael and the Syrian troops at Ramoth in Gilead. Joram was wounded in that battle,

6and he went to the town of Jezreel to recover. And Ahaziah later went there to visit him.

7It was during that visit that God had Ahaziah put to death.

When Ahaziah arrived at Jezreel, he and Joram went to meet with Jehu grandson of Nimshi. The LORD had already told Jehu to kill every male in Ahab's family,

8and while Jehu was doing that, he saw some of Judah's leaders and Ahaziah's nephews who had come with Ahaziah. Jehu killed them on the spot,

9then gave orders to find Ahaziah. Jehu's officers found him hiding in Samaria. They brought Ahaziah to Jehu, who immediately put him to death. They buried Ahaziah only because they respected Jehoshaphat his grandfather, who had done his best to obey the LORD.

There was no one from Ahaziah's family left to become king of Judah.

Queen Athaliah of Judah
(2 Kings 11.1-3)

10As soon as Athaliah heard that her son King Ahaziah was dead, she decided to kill any relative who could possibly become king. She would have done just that,

11but Jehosheba [f] rescued Joash son of Ahaziah just as the others were about to be murdered. Jehosheba, who was Jehoram's daughter and Ahaziah's half sister, was married to Jehoiada the priest. So she was able to hide her nephew Joash and his personal servant in a bedroom in the LORD's temple where he was safe from Athaliah.

12Joash hid in the temple with them for six years while Athaliah ruled as queen of Judah.

2 Chronicles 23

Jehoiada Makes Joash King of Judah
(2 Kings 11.4-21)

1After Ahaziah's son Joash had hidden in the temple for six years, Jehoiada the priest knew that something had to be done. So he made sure he had the support of several army officers. They were Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zichri.

2These five men went to the towns in Judah and called together the Levites and the clan leaders. They all came to Jerusalem

3and gathered at the temple, where they agreed to help Joash.

Jehoiada said to them:

Joash will be our next king, because long ago the LORD promised that one of David's descendants would always be king.

4Here is what we will do. Three groups of priests and Levites will be on guard duty on the Sabbath--one group will guard the gates of the temple,

5one will guard the palace, and the other will guard Foundation Gate. The rest of you will stand guard in the temple courtyards.

6Only the priests and Levites who are on duty will be able to enter the temple, because they will be the only ones who have gone through the ceremony to make themselves clean and acceptable. The others must stay outside in the courtyards, just as the LORD has commanded.

7You Levites must protect King Joash. Don't let him out of your sight! And keep your swords ready to kill anyone who comes into the temple.

8The Levites and the people of Judah followed Jehoiada's orders. The guards going off duty were not allowed to go home, and so each commander had all his guards available--those going off duty as well as those coming on duty.

9Jehoiada went into the temple and brought out the swords and shields that had belonged to King David, and he gave them to the commanders.

10They gave the weapons to the guards, and Jehoiada then made sure that the guards took their positions around the temple and the altar to protect the king on every side.

11Jehoiada and his sons brought Joash outside, where they placed the crown on his head and gave him a copy of the instructions for ruling the nation. Olive oil was poured on his head to show that he was now king, and the crowd cheered and shouted, "Long live the king!"

12As soon as Queen Athaliah heard the crowd cheering for Joash, she went to the temple.

13There she saw Joash standing by one of the columns near the entrance, which was the usual place for the king. The commanders and the trumpet players were standing next to him, and the musicians were playing instruments and leading the people as they celebrated and blew trumpets. Athaliah tore her clothes in anger and shouted, "You betrayed me, you traitors!"

14Right away, Jehoiada said to the army commanders, "Don't kill her near the LORD's temple. Take her out in front of the troops, and be sure to kill all of her followers!"

15She tried to escape, but the commanders caught and killed her near the gate where horses are led into the palace.

16Jehoiada asked King Joash and the people to join with him in being faithful to the LORD. They agreed,

17then rushed to the temple of the god Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and the idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

18Jehoiada assigned the priests and Levites their duties at the temple, just as David had done. They were in charge of offering sacrifices to the LORD according to the Law of Moses, and they were responsible for leading the celebrations with singing.

19Jehoiada ordered the guards at the temple gates to keep out anyone who was unclean.

20Finally, Jehoiada called together the army commanders, the most important citizens of Judah, and the government officials. The crowd of people followed them as they led Joash from the temple, through the Upper Gate, and into the palace, where he took his place as king of Judah.

21Everyone celebrated because Athaliah had been killed and Jerusalem was peaceful again.

2 Chronicles 21:10 Even the town of Libnah: This was a town on the border between Philistia and Judah, which means that Jehoram was facing rebellion on both sides of his kingdom.
2 Chronicles 21:11 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
2 Chronicles 21:16 Ethiopians: See the note at 12.3.
2 Chronicles 21:17 Ahaziah: The Hebrew text has "Jehoahaz," another spelling of the name.
2 Chronicles 22:2 twenty-two: One ancient translation (see also 2 Kings 8.26); Hebrew "forty-two."
2 Chronicles 22:11 Jehosheba: The Hebrew text has "Jehoshabeath," another spelling of the name.

Romans 11:13-36 (Contemporary English Version)

13I am now speaking to you Gentiles, and as long as I am an apostle to you, I will take pride in my work. 14I hope in this way to make some of my own people jealous enough to be saved. 15When Israel rejected God, a] the rest of the people in the world were able to turn to him. So when God makes friends with Israel, it will be like bringing the dead back to life. 16If part of a batch of dough is made holy by being offered to God, then all of the dough is holy. If the roots of a tree are holy, the rest of the tree is holy too. 17You Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive tree that were made to be part of a cultivated olive tree. You have taken the place of some branches that were cut away from it. And because of this, you enjoy the blessings that come from being part of that cultivated tree. 18But don't think you are better than the branches that were cut away. Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you.

19Maybe you think those branches were cut away, so that you could be put in their place. 20That's true enough. But they were cut away because they did not have faith, and you are where you are because you do have faith. So don't be proud, but be afraid. 21If God cut away those natural branches, couldn't he do the same to you?

22Now you see both how kind and how hard God can be. He was hard on those who fell, but he was kind to you. And he will keep on being kind to you, if you keep on trusting in his kindness. Otherwise, you will be cut away too.

23If those other branches will start having faith, they will be made a part of that tree again. God has the power to put them back. 24After all, it wasn't natural for branches to be cut from a wild olive tree and to be made part of a cultivated olive tree. So it is much more likely that God will join the natural branches back to the cultivated olive tree.

The People of Israel Will Be Brought Back

25My friends, I don't want you Gentiles to be too proud of yourselves. So I will explain the mystery of what has happened to the people of Israel. Some of them have become stubborn, and they will stay like that until the complete number of you Gentiles has come in. 26In this way all of Israel will be saved, as the Scriptures say,

"From Zion someone will come
to rescue us.
Then Jacob's descendants
will stop being evil.

27This is what the Lord
has promised to do
when he forgives their sins."

28The people of Israel are treated as God's enemies, so that the good news can come to you Gentiles. But they are still the chosen ones, and God loves them because of their famous ancestors. 29God doesn't take back the gifts he has given or forget about the people he has chosen.

30At one time you Gentiles rejected God. But now Israel has rejected God, and you have been shown mercy. 31And because of the mercy shown to you, they will also be shown mercy. 32All people have disobeyed God, and that's why he treats them as prisoners. But he does this, so that he can have mercy on all of them.

33Who can measure the wealth and wisdom and knowledge of God? Who can understand his decisions or explain what he does?

34"Has anyone known
the thoughts of the Lord
or given him advice?

35Has anyone loaned
something to the Lord
that must be repaid?"

36Everything comes from the Lord. All things were made because of him and will return to him. Praise the Lord forever! Amen.

Romans 11:15 When Israel rejected God: Or " When Israel was rejected."

Psalm 22:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 22
(A psalm by David for the music leader. To the tune "A Deer at Dawn." )

Suffering and Praise

1My God, my God, why have you
deserted me?

Why are you so far away?

Won't you listen to my groans
and come to my rescue?

2I cry out day and night,
but you don't answer,
and I can never rest.

3Yet you are the holy God,
ruling from your throne
and praised by Israel.

4Our ancestors trusted you,
and you rescued them.

5When they cried out for help,
you saved them,
and you did not let them down
when they depended on you.

6But I am merely a worm,
far less than human,
and I am hated and rejected
by people everywhere.

7Everyone who sees me
makes fun and sneers.

They shake their heads,
8and say,
"Trust the LORD!

If you are his favorite,
let him protect you
and keep you safe."

9You, LORD, brought me
safely through birth,
and you protected me
when I was a baby
at my mother's breast.

10From the day I was born,
I have been in your care,
and from the time of my birth,
you have been my God.

11Don't stay far off
when I am in trouble
with no one to help me.

12Enemies are all around
like a herd of wild bulls.

Powerful bulls from Bashan a]
are everywhere.

13My enemies are like lions
roaring and attacking
with jaws open wide.

14I have no more strength
than a few drops of water.

All my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like melted wax.

15My strength has dried up
like a broken clay pot,
and my tongue sticks
to the roof of my mouth.

You, God, have left me
to die in the dirt.

16Brutal enemies attack me
like a pack of dogs,
tearing at b] my hands and my feet.

17I can count all my bones,
and my enemies just stare
and sneer at me.

18They took my clothes
and gambled for them.

Psalm 22:12 Bashan: A land east of the Jordan River, where there were pastures suitable for raising fine cattle.
Psalm 22:16 tearing at: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 20:7 (Contemporary English Version)

7Good people live right,
and God blesses the children
who follow their example.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bible Readings for July 27, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 19:1–20:37; Romans 10:14–11:12; Psalm 21:1-13; and Proverbs 20:4-6. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 19-20:37 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 19

1Jehoshaphat returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem.

2But the prophet Jehu son of Hanani met him and said:

By helping that wicked Ahab, you have made friends with someone who hates the LORD. Now the LORD God is angry at you!

3But not everything about you is bad. You destroyed the sacred poles [a] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah--that shows you have tried to obey the LORD.

Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges To Settle Cases

4Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, but he often traveled through his kingdom, from Beersheba in the south to the edge of the hill country of Ephraim in the north. He talked with the people and convinced them to turn back to the LORD God and worship him, just as their ancestors had done.

5He assigned judges to each of the fortified cities in Judah 6and told them:

Be careful when you make your decisions in court, because these are the LORD's people, and he will know what you decide.

7So do your work in honor of him and know that he won't allow you to be unfair to anyone or to take bribes.

8Jehoshaphat also chose some Levites, some priests, and some of the family leaders, and he appointed them to serve as judges in Jerusalem.

9He told them:

Faithfully serve the LORD!

10The people of Judah will bring you legal cases that involve every type of crime, including murder. You must settle these cases and warn the people to stop sinning against the LORD, so that he won't get angry and punish Judah. Remember, if you follow these instructions, you won't be held responsible for anything that happens.

11Amariah the high priest will have the final say in any religious case. And Zebadiah, the leader [b] of the Judah tribe, will have the final say in all other cases. The rest of the Levites will serve as your assistants. Be brave, and I pray that the LORD will help you do right.

2 Chronicles 20

Moab and Ammon Are Defeated

1Some time later, the armies of Moab and Ammon, together with the Meunites, [c] went to war against Jehoshaphat.

2Messengers told Jehoshaphat, "A large army from Edom [d] east of the Dead Sea has invaded our country. They have already reached En-Gedi." [e]

3Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he asked the LORD what to do. He then told the people of Judah to go without eating to show their sorrow.

4They immediately left for Jerusalem to ask for the LORD's help.

5After everyone from Judah and Jerusalem had come together at the LORD's temple, Jehoshaphat stood in front of the new courtyard 6and prayed:

You, LORD, are the God our ancestors worshiped, and from heaven you rule every nation in the world. You are so powerful that no one can defeat you.

7Our God, you forced out the nations who lived in this land before your people Israel came here, and you gave it to the descendants of your friend Abraham forever.

8Our ancestors lived in this land and built a temple to honor you.

9They believed that whenever this land is struck by war or disease or famine, your people can pray to you at the temple, and you will hear their prayer and save them.

10You can see that the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Edom are attacking us! Those are the nations you would not let our ancestors invade on their way from Egypt, so these nations were not destroyed.

11Now they are coming to take back the land you gave us.

12Aren't you going to punish them? We won't stand a chance when this army attacks. We don't know what to do--we are begging for your help.

13While every man, woman, and child of Judah was standing there at the temple,

14the LORD's Spirit suddenly spoke to Jahaziel, a Levite from the Asaph clan. [f]

15Then Jahaziel said: Your Majesty and everyone from Judah and Jerusalem, the LORD says that you don't need to be afraid or let this powerful army discourage you. God will fight on your side!

16So here's what you must do. Tomorrow the enemy armies will march through the desert around the town of Jeruel. March down and meet them at the town of Ziz as they come up the valley.

17You won't even have to fight. Just take your positions and watch the LORD rescue you from your enemy. Don't be afraid. Just do as you're told. And as you march out tomorrow, the LORD will be there with you.

18Jehoshaphat bowed low to the ground and everyone worshiped the LORD.

19Then some Levites from the Kohath and Korah clans stood up and shouted praises to the LORD God of Israel.

20Early the next morning, as everyone got ready to leave for the desert near Tekoa, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, "Listen my friends, if we trust the LORD God and believe what these prophets have told us, the LORD will help us, and we will be successful."

21Then he explained his plan and appointed men to march in front of the army and praise the LORD for his holy power by singing: [g] "Praise the LORD!

His love never ends."

22As soon as they began singing, the LORD confused the enemy camp,

23so that the Ammonite and Moabite troops attacked and completely destroyed those from Edom. Then they turned against each other and fought until the entire camp was wiped out!

24When Judah's army reached the tower that overlooked the desert, they saw that every soldier in the enemy's army was lying dead on the ground.

25So Jehoshaphat and his troops went into the camp to carry away everything of value. They found a large herd of livestock, [h] a lot of equipment, clothes, [i] and other valuable things. It took them three days to carry it all away, and there was still some left over.

26Then on the fourth day, everyone came together in Beracah Valley and sang praises to the LORD. That's why that place was called Praise Valley. [j]

27-28Jehoshaphat led the crowd back to Jerusalem. And as they marched, they played harps and blew trumpets. They were very happy because the LORD had given them victory over their enemies, so when they reached the city, they went straight to the temple.

29When the other nations heard how the LORD had fought against Judah's enemies, they were too afraid

30to invade Judah. The LORD let Jehoshaphat's kingdom be at peace.

Jehoshaphat Dies
(1 Kings 22.41-50)

31Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.

32Jehoshaphat obeyed the LORD, just as his father Asa had done,

33but he did not destroy the local shrines. [k] So the people still worshiped foreign gods, instead of faithfully serving the God their ancestors had worshiped.

34Everything else Jehoshaphat did while he was king is written in the records of Jehu son of Hanani that are included in The History of the Kings of Israel.

35While Jehoshaphat was king, he signed a peace treaty with Ahaziah the wicked king of Israel.

36They agreed to build several seagoing ships [l] at Ezion-Geber.

37But the prophet Eliezer [m] warned Jehoshaphat, "The LORD will destroy these ships because you have supported Ahaziah." The ships were wrecked and never sailed.

2 Chronicles 19:3 sacred poles: See the note at 14.3.
2 Chronicles 19:11 Zebadiah, the leader: Hebrew "Zebadiah son of Ishmael, who is the leader."
2 Chronicles 20:1 Meunites: One ancient translation (see also 26.7); Hebrew "Ammonites."
2 Chronicles 20:2 Edom: The Hebrew text has "Syria"; in Hebrew there is only one letter difference between "Edom" and "Aram," which is the usual Hebrew name for Syria in the Bible.
2 Chronicles 20:2 En-Gedi: The Hebrew text has "Hazazon-Tamar, also known as En-Gedi," a city on the west shore of the Dead Sea, about twenty-five miles southeast of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 20:14 Jahaziel, a Levite from the Asaph clan: Hebrew "Jahaziel son of Zechariah son of Benaiah son of Jeiel son of Mattaniah, who was a Levite from the Asaph clan."
2 Chronicles 20:21 to march in front. . . singing: Or "to put on their sacred robes, lead the army into battle, and praise the LORD by singing."
2 Chronicles 20:25 a large herd of livestock: One ancient translation; Hebrew "among the bodies a large herd of."
2 Chronicles 20:25 clothes: One ancient translation; Hebrew "dead bodies."
2 Chronicles 20:26 Beracah Valley. . . sang praises. . . Praise Valley: In Hebrew the name "Beracah" means "praise."
2 Chronicles 20:33 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
2 Chronicles 20:36 seagoing ships: See the note at 9.21.
2 Chronicles 20:37 Eliezer: Hebrew "Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah."

Romans 10:14-11:12 (Contemporary English Version)

14How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? 15And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news. 16Yet not everyone has believed the message. For example, the prophet Isaiah asked, "Lord, has anyone believed what we said?"

17No one can have faith without hearing the message about Christ. 18But am I saying that the people of Israel did not hear? No, I am not! The Scriptures say,

"The message was told
everywhere on earth.
It was announced
all over the world."

19Did the people of Israel understand or not? Moses answered this question when he told that the Lord had said,

"I will make Israel jealous
of people
who are a nation
of nobodies.

I will make them angry
at people
who don't understand
a thing."

20Isaiah was fearless enough to tell that the Lord had said,

"I was found by people
who were not looking
for me.

I appeared to the ones
who were not asking
about me."

21And Isaiah said about the people of Israel,

"All day long the Lord
has reached out
to people who are stubborn
and refuse to obey."

Romans 11

God Has Not Rejected His People

1Am I saying that God has turned his back on his people? Certainly not! I am one of the people of Israel, and I myself am a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not turn his back on his chosen people. Don't you remember reading in the Scriptures how Elijah complained to God about the people of Israel? 3He said, "Lord, they killed your prophets and destroyed your altars. I am the only one left, and now they want to kill me."

4But the Lord told Elijah, "I still have seven thousand followers who have not worshiped Baal." 5It is the same way now. God was kind to the people of Israel, and so a few of them are still his followers. 6This happened because of God's undeserved kindness and not because of anything they have done. It could not have happened except for God's kindness.

7This means that only a chosen few of the people of Israel found what all of them were searching for. And the rest of them were stubborn, 8just as the Scriptures say,

"God made them so stupid
that their eyes are blind,
and their ears
are still deaf."

9Then David said,

"Turn their meals
into bait for a trap,
so that they will stumble
and be given
what they deserve.

10Blindfold their eyes!
Don't let them see.
Bend their backs
beneath a burden
that will never be lifted."

Gentiles Will Be Saved

11Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous. 12But if the rest of the world's people were helped so much by Israel's sin and loss, they will be helped even more by their full return.

Psalm 21:1-13 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 21
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

Thanking the LORD for Victory

1Our LORD, your mighty power
makes the king glad,
and he celebrates victories
that you have given him.

2You did what he wanted most
and never told him "No."

3You truly blessed the king,
and you placed on him
a crown of finest gold.

4He asked to live a long time,
and you promised him life
that never ends.

5The king is highly honored.

You have let him win victories
that have made him famous.

6You have given him blessings
that will last forever,
and you have made him glad
by being so near to him.

7LORD Most High,
the king trusts you,
and your kindness
keeps him from defeat.

8With your mighty arm, LORD,
you will strike down
all of your hateful enemies.

9They will be destroyed by fire
once you are here,
and because of your anger,
flames will swallow them.

10You will wipe their families
from the earth,
and they will disappear.

11All their plans to harm you
will come to nothing.

12You will make them run away
by shooting your arrows
at their faces.

13Show your strength, LORD,
so that we may sing
and praise your power.

Proverbs 20:4-6 (Contemporary English Version)

4If you are too lazy to plow,
don't expect a harvest.

5Someone's thoughts may be
as deep as the ocean,
but if you are smart,
you will discover them.

6There are many who say,
"You can trust me!"
But can they be trusted?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bible Readings for July 26, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 17:1–18:34; Romans 9:22–10:13; Psalm 20:1-9; and Proverbs 20:2-3. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 17-18:34 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 17

King Jehoshaphat of Judah

1Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king and strengthened his defenses against Israel.

2He assigned troops to the fortified cities in Judah, as well as to other towns in Judah and to those towns in Ephraim that his father Asa had captured.

3-4When Jehoshaphat's father had first become king of Judah, he was faithful to the LORD and refused to worship the god Baal as the kings of Israel did. Jehoshaphat followed his father's example and obeyed and worshiped the LORD. And so the LORD blessed Jehoshaphat

5and helped him keep firm control of his kingdom. The people of Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, but even after he became very rich and respected,

6he remained completely faithful to the LORD. He destroyed all the local shrines [a] in Judah, including the places where the goddess Asherah was worshiped.

7In the third year of Jehoshaphat's rule, he chose five officials and gave them orders to teach the LORD's Law in every city and town in Judah. They were Benhail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah.

8Their assistants were the following nine Levites: Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah. Two priests, Elishama and Jehoram, also went along.

9They carried with them a copy of the LORD's Law wherever they went and taught the people from it.

10The nations around Judah were afraid of the LORD's power, so none of them attacked Jehoshaphat.

11Philistines brought him silver and other gifts to keep peace. Some of the Arab people brought him seventy-seven hundred rams and the same number of goats.

12As Jehoshaphat became more powerful, he built fortresses and cities

13where he stored supplies. He also kept in Jerusalem some experienced soldiers

14from the Judah and Benjamin tribes. These soldiers were grouped according to their clans.

Adnah was the commander of the troops from Judah, and he had three hundred thousand soldiers under his command.

15Jehohanan was second in command, with two hundred eighty thousand soldiers under him.

16Amasiah son of Zichri, who had volunteered to serve the LORD, was third in command, with two hundred thousand soldiers under him.

17Eliada was a brave warrior who commanded the troops from Benjamin. He had two hundred thousand soldiers under his command, all of them armed with bows and shields.

18Jehozabad was second in command, with one hundred eighty thousand soldiers under him.

19These were the troops who protected the king in Jerusalem, not counting those he had assigned to the fortified cities throughout the country.

2 Chronicles 18

Micaiah Warns King Ahab of Israel
(1 Kings 22.1-28)

1Jehoshaphat was now very rich and famous. He signed a treaty with King Ahab of Israel by arranging the marriage of his son and Ahab's daughter.

2One day, Jehoshaphat went to visit Ahab in his capital city of Samaria. Ahab slaughtered sheep and cattle and prepared a big feast to honor Jehoshaphat and the officials with him. Ahab talked about attacking the city of Ramoth in Gilead, [b]

3and finally asked, "Jehoshaphat, would you go with me to attack Ramoth?" "Yes," Jehoshaphat answered. "My army is at your command.

4But first let's ask the LORD what to do."

5Ahab sent for four hundred prophets and asked, "Should I attack the city of Ramoth?"

"Yes!" the prophets answered. "God will help you capture the city."

6But Jehoshaphat said, "Just to make sure, is there another of the LORD's prophets we can ask?"

7"We could ask Micaiah son of Imlah," Ahab said. "But I hate Micaiah. He always has bad news for me."

"Don't say that!" Jehoshaphat replied.

8Then Ahab sent someone to bring Micaiah as soon as possible.

9All this time, Ahab and Jehoshaphat were dressed in their royal robes and were seated on their thrones at the threshing place near the gate of Samaria, listening to the prophets tell them what the LORD had said.

10Zedekiah son of Chenaanah was one of the prophets. He had made some horns out of iron and shouted, "Ahab, the LORD says you will attack the Syrians like a bull with iron horns and wipe them out!"

11All the prophets agreed that Ahab should attack the Syrians at Ramoth and promised that the LORD would help him defeat them.

12Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah whispered, "Micaiah, all the prophets have good news for Ahab. Now go and say the same thing."

13"I'll say whatever the living LORD my God tells me to say," Micaiah replied.

14Then Micaiah went up to Ahab, who asked, "Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth?"

"Yes!" Micaiah answered. "The LORD will help you capture the city."

15Ahab shouted, "Micaiah, I've told you over and over to tell me the truth! What does the LORD really say?"

16Micaiah answered, "In a vision [c] I saw Israelite soldiers wandering around, lost in the hills like sheep without a shepherd. The LORD said, `These troops have no leader. They should go home and not fight.' "

17Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said, "I told you he would bring me bad news!"

18Micaiah replied:

I then saw the LORD seated on his throne with every creature in heaven gathered around him.

19The LORD asked, "Who can trick Ahab and make him go to Ramoth where he will be killed?"

They talked about it for a while,

20then finally a spirit came forward and said to the LORD, "I can trick Ahab."

"How?" the LORD asked.

21"I'll make Ahab's prophets lie to him."

"Good!" the LORD replied. "Now go and do it. You will be successful."

22Ahab, this is exactly what has happened. The LORD made all your prophets lie to you, and he knows you will soon be destroyed.

23Zedekiah walked over and slapped Micaiah on the face. Then he asked, "Do you really think the LORD would speak to you and not to me?"

24Micaiah answered, "You'll find out on the day you have to hide in the back room of some house."

25Ahab shouted, "Arrest Micaiah! Take him to Prince Joash and Governor Amon of Samaria.

26Tell them to put him in prison and to give him nothing but bread and water until I come back safely."

27Micaiah said, "If you do come back, I was wrong about what the LORD wanted me to say." Then he told the crowd, "Don't forget what I said!"

Ahab Dies at Ramoth
(1 Kings 22.29-35)

28Ahab and Jehoshaphat led their armies to Ramoth in Gilead.

29Before they went into battle, Ahab said, "Jehoshaphat, I'll disguise myself, but you wear your royal robe." Ahab disguised himself and went into battle.

30The king of Syria had ordered his chariot commanders to attack only Ahab.

31So when they saw Jehoshaphat in his robe, they thought he was Ahab and started to attack him. But Jehoshaphat prayed, and the LORD made the Syrian soldiers stop.

32And when they realized he wasn't Ahab, they left him alone.

33However, during the fighting a soldier shot an arrow without even aiming, and it hit Ahab between two pieces of his armor. He shouted to his chariot driver, "I've been hit! Get me out of here!"

34The fighting lasted all day, with Ahab propped up in his chariot so he could see the Syrian troops. He stayed there until evening, and by sundown he was dead.

2 Chronicles 17:6 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
2 Chronicles 18:2 attacking the city of Ramoth in Gilead: The Syrians had taken control of Ramoth (see 1 Kings 22.3,4).
2 Chronicles 18:16 vision: In ancient times, prophets often told about future events from what they had seen in visions or dreams.

Romans 9:22-10:13 (Contemporary English Version)

22God wanted to show his anger and reveal his power against everyone who deserved to be destroyed. But instead, he patiently put up with them. 23He did this by showing how glorious he is when he has pity on the people he has chosen to share in his glory. 24Whether Jews or Gentiles, we are those chosen ones, 25just as the Lord says in the book of Hosea,

"Although they are not
my people,
I will make them my people.

I will treat with love
those nations
that have never been loved.

26"Once they were told,
`You are not my people.'
But in that very place
they will be called
children of the living God."

27And this is what the prophet Isaiah said about the people of Israel,

"The people of Israel
are as many
as the grains of sand
along the beach.
But only a few who are left
will be saved.
28The Lord will be quick
and sure to do on earth
what he has warned
he will do."

29Isaiah also said,

"If the Lord All-Powerful
had not spared some
of our descendants,
we would have been destroyed
like the cities of Sodom
and Gomorrah." [a]

Israel and the Good News

30What does all of this mean? It means that the Gentiles were not trying to be acceptable to God, but they found that he would accept them if they had faith. 31-32It also means that the people of Israel were not acceptable to God. And why not? It was because they were trying [b] to be acceptable by obeying the Law instead of by having faith in God. The people of Israel fell over the stone that makes people stumble, 33just as God says in the Scriptures, "Look! I am placing in Zion
a stone to make people
stumble and fall.
But those who have faith
in that one
will never
be disappointed."

Romans 10

1Dear friends, my greatest wish and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. 2I know they love God, but they don't understand 3what makes people acceptable to him. So they refuse to trust God, and they try to be acceptable by obeying the Law. 4But Christ makes the Law no longer necessary [c] for those who become acceptable to God by faith.

Anyone Can Be Saved

5Moses said that a person could become acceptable to God by obeying the Law. He did this when he wrote, "If you want to live, you must do all that the Law commands."

6But people whose faith makes them acceptable to God will never ask, "Who will go up to heaven to bring Christ down?" 7Neither will they ask, "Who will go down into the world of the dead to raise him to life?"

8All who are acceptable because of their faith simply say, "The message is as near as your mouth or your heart." And this is the same message we preach about faith. 9So you will be saved, if you honestly say, "Jesus is Lord," and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. 10God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others.

11The Scriptures say that no one who has faith will be disappointed, 12no matter if that person is a Jew or a Gentile. There is only one Lord, and he is generous to everyone who asks for his help. 13All who call out to the Lord will be saved.

Romans 9:29 Sodom and Gomorrah: During the time of Abraham the Lord destroyed these two cities because their people were so sinful.
Romans 9:31 because they were trying: Or " while they were trying" or " even though they were trying."
Romans 10:4 But Christ makes the Law no longer necessary: Or " But Christ gives the full meaning to the Law."

Psalm 20:1-9 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 20
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

A Prayer for Victory

1I pray that the LORD
will listen
when you
are in trouble,
and that the God of Jacob
will keep you safe.

2May the LORD send help
from his temple
and come to your rescue
from Mount Zion.

3May he remember your gifts
and be pleased
with what you bring.

4May God do what you want most
and let all go well for you.

5Then you will win victories,
and we will celebrate,
while raising our banners
in the name of our God.

May the LORD answer
all of your prayers!

6I am certain, LORD,
that you will help
your chosen king.

You will answer my prayers
from your holy place
in heaven,
and you will save me
with your mighty arm.

7Some people trust the power
of chariots or horses,
but we trust you, LORD God.

8Others will stumble and fall,
but we will be strong
and stand firm.

9Give the king victory, LORD,
and answer our prayers. [a]

Psalm 20:9 victory. . . prayers: Or " victory. He (God or the king) answers us."

Proverbs 20:2-3 (Contemporary English Version)

2An angry ruler
is like a roaring lion--
make either one angry,
and you are dead.

3It makes you look good
when you avoid a fight--
only fools love to quarrel.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bible Readings for July 25, 2011

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 14:1–16:14; Romans 9:1-21; Psalm 19:1-14; and Proverbs 20:1. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


2 Chronicles 14-16:14 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 14

King Asa of Judah

1Abijah died and was buried in Jerusalem. Then his son Asa became king, and Judah had ten years of peace.

2Asa obeyed the LORD his God and did right.

3He destroyed the local shrines [a] and the altars to foreign gods. He smashed the stone images of gods and cut down the sacred poles [b] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah.

4Then he told everyone in Judah to worship the LORD God, just as their ancestors had done, and to obey his laws and teachings.

5He destroyed every local shrine and incense altar in Judah.

6The LORD blessed Judah with peace while Asa was king, and so during that time, Asa fortified many of the towns.

7He said to the people, "Let's build walls and defense towers for these towns, and put in gates that can be locked with bars. This land still belongs to us, because we have obeyed the LORD our God. He has given us peace from all our enemies." The people did everything Asa had suggested.

8Asa had a large army of brave soldiers: Three hundred thousand of them were from the tribe of Judah and were armed with shields and spears; two hundred eighty thousand were from Benjamin and were armed with bows and arrows.

Judah Defeats Ethiopia's Army

9Zerah from Ethiopia [c] led an army of a million soldiers and three hundred chariots to the town of Mareshah [d] in Judah.

10Asa met him there, and the two armies prepared for battle in Zephathah Valley.

11Asa prayed:

LORD God, only you can help a powerless army defeat a stronger one. So we depend on you to help us. We will fight against this powerful army to honor your name, and we know that you won't be defeated. You are the LORD our God.

12The LORD helped Asa and his army defeat the Ethiopians. The enemy soldiers ran away,

13but Asa and his troops chased them as far as Gerar. It was a total defeat--the Ethiopians could not even fight back! [e] The soldiers from Judah took everything that had belonged to the Ethiopians.

14The people who lived in the villages around Gerar learned what had happened and were afraid of the LORD. So Judah's army easily defeated them and carried off everything of value that they wanted from these towns.

15They also attacked the camps where the shepherds lived and took a lot of sheep, goats, and camels. Then they went back to Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 15

Asa Destroys the Idols in Judah

1Some time later, God spoke to Azariah son of Oded.

2At once, Azariah went to Asa and said:

Listen to me, King Asa and you people of Judah and Benjamin. The LORD will be with you and help you, as long as you obey and worship him. But if you disobey him, he will desert you.

3For a long time, the people of Israel did not worship the true God or listen to priests who could teach them about God. They refused to obey God's Law.

4But whenever trouble came, Israel turned back to the LORD their God and worshiped him.

5There was so much confusion in those days that it wasn't safe to go anywhere in Israel.

6Nations were destroying each other, and cities were wiping out other cities, because God was causing trouble and unrest everywhere.

7So you must be brave. Don't give up! God will honor you for obeying him.

8As soon as Asa heard what Azariah the prophet said, he gave orders for all the idols in Judah and Benjamin to be destroyed, including those in the towns he had captured in the territory of Ephraim. He also repaired the LORD's altar that was in front of the temple porch.

9Asa called together the people from Judah and Benjamin, as well as the people from the territories of Ephraim, West Manasseh, and Simeon who were living in Judah. Many of these people were now loyal to Asa, because they had seen that the LORD was with him.

10In the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's rule, they all met in Jerusalem.

11That same day, they took seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats from what they had brought back from Gerar and sacrificed them as offerings to the LORD.

12They made a solemn promise to faithfully worship the LORD God their ancestors had worshiped,

13and to put to death anyone who refused to obey him.

14The crowd solemnly agreed to keep their promise to the LORD, then they celebrated by shouting and blowing trumpets and horns.

15Everyone was happy because they had made this solemn promise, and in return, the LORD blessed them with peace from all their enemies.

16Asa's grandmother Maacah had made a disgusting idol of the goddess Asherah, so he cut it down, crushed it, and burned it in Kidron Valley. Then he removed Maacah from her position as queen mother. [f]

17As long as Asa lived, he was faithful to the LORD, even though he did not destroy the local shrines [g] in Israel.

18He placed in the temple all the silver and gold objects that he and his father had dedicated to God.

19There was peace in Judah until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's rule.

2 Chronicles 16

King Baasha of Israel Invades Judah
(1 Kings 15.16-22)

1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's rule, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and captured the town of Ramah. He started making the town stronger, and he put troops there to stop people from going in and out of Judah.

2When Asa heard about this, he took the silver and gold from his palace and from the LORD's temple. Then he sent it to Damascus with this message for King Benhadad of Syria:

3"I think we should sign a peace treaty, just as our fathers did. This silver and gold is a present for you. Would you please break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel and force him to leave my country?"

4Benhadad did what Asa asked and sent the Syrian army into Israel. They captured the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-Maim, [h] and all the towns in Naphtali where supplies were kept.

5When Baasha heard about it, he stopped his work on the town of Ramah.

6Asa ordered everyone in Judah to carry away the stones and wood Baasha had used to fortify Ramah. Then he fortified the towns of Geba and Mizpah with these same stones and wood.

Hanani the Prophet Condemns Asa

7Soon after that happened, Hanani the prophet went to Asa and said:

You depended on the king of Syria instead of depending on the LORD your God. And so, you will never defeat the Syrian army.

8Remember how powerful the Ethiopian [i] and Libyan army was, with all their chariots and cavalry troops! You trusted the LORD to help you then, and you defeated them.

9The LORD is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him. But you have done a foolish thing, and your kingdom will never be at peace again.

10When Asa heard this, he was so angry that he put Hanani in prison. Asa was also cruel to some of his people. [j]

Asa Dies
(1 Kings 15.23,24)

11Everything Asa did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

12In the thirty-ninth year of his rule, he got a very bad foot disease, but he relied on doctors and refused to ask the LORD for help.

13He died two years later.

14Earlier, Asa had his own tomb cut out of a rock hill in Jerusalem. So he was buried there, and the tomb was filled with spices and sweet-smelling oils. Then the people built a bonfire in his honor.

2 Chronicles 14:3 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
2 Chronicles 14:3 sacred poles: Or "trees," used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
2 Chronicles 14:9 Ethiopia: See the note at 12.3.
2 Chronicles 14:9 Mareshah: About twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 14:13 the Ethiopians could not even fight back: Or "not one of the Ethiopians survived!"
2 Chronicles 15:16 queen mother: Or "the mother of the king," which was an important position in biblical times (see 1 Kings 2.19).
2 Chronicles 15:17 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
2 Chronicles 16:4 Abel-Maim: Also called "Abel-Bethmaacah" (see 1 Kings 15.20).
2 Chronicles 16:8 Ethiopian: See the note at 12.3.
2 Chronicles 16:10 Asa was also cruel. . . people: Or "Asa also started being cruel to some of his people."

Romans 9:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Romans 9

God's Choice of Israel

1I am a follower of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is a witness to my conscience. So I tell the truth and I am not lying when I say 2my heart is broken and I am in great sorrow. 3I would gladly be placed under God's curse and be separated from Christ for the good of my own people. 4They are the descendants of Israel, and they are also God's chosen people. God showed them his glory. He made agreements with them and gave them his Law. The temple is theirs and so are the promises that God made to them. 5They have those famous ancestors, who were also the ancestors of Jesus Christ. I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever! [a] Amen. 6It cannot be said that God broke his promise. After all, not all of the people of Israel are the true people of God. 7-8In fact, when God made the promise to Abraham, he meant only Abraham's descendants by his son Isaac. God was talking only about Isaac when he promised 9Sarah, "At this time next year I will return, and you will already have a son."

10Don't forget what happened to the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. 11-12Even before they were born or had done anything good or bad, the Lord told Rebekah that her older son would serve the younger one. The Lord said this to show that he makes his own choices and that it wasn't because of anything either of them had done. 13That's why the Scriptures say that the Lord liked Jacob more than Esau.

14Are we saying that God is unfair? Certainly not! 15The Lord told Moses that he has pity and mercy on anyone he wants to. 16Everything then depends on God's mercy and not on what people want or do. 17In the Scriptures the Lord says to Pharaoh of Egypt, "I let you become Pharaoh, so that I could show you my power and be praised by all people on earth." 18Everything depends on what God decides to do, and he can either have pity on people or make them stubborn.

God's Anger and Mercy

19Someone may ask, "How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?" 20But, my friend, I ask, "Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did? 21Doesn't a potter have the right to make a fancy bowl and a plain bowl out of the same lump of clay?"

Romans 9:5 Christ. I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever: Or " Christ, who rules over all. I pray that God will be praised forever" or " Christ. And I pray that Christ, who is God and rules over all, will be praised forever."

Psalm 19:1-14 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 19
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

The Wonders of God and the Goodness of His Law

1The heavens keep telling
the wonders of God,
and the skies declare
what he has done.

2Each day informs
the following day;
each night announces
to the next.

3They don't speak a word,
and there is never
the sound of a voice.

4Yet their message reaches
all the earth,
and it travels
around the world.

In the heavens a tent
is set up for the sun.

5It rises like a bridegroom
and gets ready like a hero
eager to run a race.

6It travels all the way
across the sky.

Nothing hides from its heat.

7The Law of the LORD is perfect;
it gives us new life.

His teachings last forever,
and they give wisdom
to ordinary people.

8The LORD's instruction is right;
it makes our hearts glad.

His commands shine brightly,
and they give us light.

9Worshiping the LORD is sacred;
he will always be worshiped.

All of his decisions
are correct and fair.

10They are worth more
than the finest gold
and are sweeter than honey
from a honeycomb.

11By your teachings, Lord,
I am warned;
by obeying them,
I am greatly rewarded.

12None of us know our faults.

Forgive me when I sin
without knowing it.

13Don't let me do wrong
on purpose, Lord,
or let sin have control
over my life.

Then I will be innocent,
and not guilty
of some terrible fault.

14Let my words and my thoughts
be pleasing to you, LORD,
because you are my mighty rock [a]
and my protector.

Psalm 19:14 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.

Proverbs 20:1 (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 20

Words of Wisdom Are Better than Gold

1It isn't smart to get drunk!
Drinking makes a fool of you
and leads to fights.