Read the Bible in a Year

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

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bible Readings for June 30, 2012

Today our passages are 2 Kings 17:1–18:12; Acts 20:1-38; Psalm 148:1-14; and Proverbs 18:6-7. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

2 Kings 17-18:12 (The Message)

2 Kings 17

Hoshea of Israel
1-2 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel. He ruled in Samaria for nine years. As far as God was concerned, he lived a bad life, but not nearly as bad as the kings who had preceded him. 3-5 Then Shalmaneser king of Assyria attacked. Hoshea was already a puppet of the Assyrian king and regularly sent him tribute, but Shalmaneser discovered that Hoshea had been operating traitorously behind his back—having worked out a deal with King So of Egypt. And, adding insult to injury, Hoshea was way behind on his annual payments of tribute to Assyria. So the king of Assyria arrested him and threw him in prison, then proceeded to invade the entire country. He attacked Samaria and threw up a siege against it. The siege lasted three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea's reign the king of Assyria captured Samaria and took the people into exile in Assyria. He relocated them in Halah, in Gozan along the Habor River, and in the towns of the Medes.
7-12 The exile came about because of sin: The children of Israel sinned against God, their God, who had delivered them from Egypt and the brutal oppression of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They took up with other gods, fell in with the ways of life of the pagan nations God had chased off, and went along with whatever their kings did. They did all kinds of things on the sly, things offensive to their God, then openly and shamelessly built local sex-and-religion shrines at every available site. They set up their sex-and-religion symbols at practically every crossroads. Everywhere you looked there was smoke from their pagan offerings to the deities—the identical offerings that had gotten the pagan nations off into exile. They had accumulated a long list of evil actions and God was fed up, fed up with their persistent worship of gods carved out of deadwood or shaped out of clay, even though God had plainly said, "Don't do this—ever!"
13 God had taken a stand against Israel and Judah, speaking clearly through countless holy prophets and seers time and time again, "Turn away from your evil way of life. Do what I tell you and have been telling you in The Revelation I gave your ancestors and of which I've kept reminding you ever since through my servants the prophets."
14-15 But they wouldn't listen. If anything, they were even more bullheaded than their stubborn ancestors, if that's possible. They were contemptuous of his instructions, the solemn and holy covenant he had made with their ancestors, and of his repeated reminders and warnings. They lived a "nothing" life and became "nothings"—just like the pagan peoples all around them. They were well-warned: God said, "Don't!" but they did it anyway.
16-17 They threw out everything God, their God, had told them, and replaced him with two statue-gods shaped like bull-calves and then a phallic pole for the whore goddess Asherah. They worshiped cosmic forces—sky gods and goddesses—and frequented the sex-and-religion shrines of Baal. They even sank so low as to offer their own sons and daughters as sacrificial burnt offerings! They indulged in all the black arts of magic and sorcery. In short, they prostituted themselves to every kind of evil available to them. And God had had enough.
18-20 God was so thoroughly angry that he got rid of them, got them out of the country for good until only one tribe was left—Judah. (Judah, actually, wasn't much better, for Judah also failed to keep God's commands, falling into the same way of life that Israel had adopted.) God rejected everyone connected with Israel, made life hard for them, and permitted anyone with a mind to exploit them to do so. And then this final No as he threw them out of his sight.
21-23 Back at the time that God ripped Israel out of their place in the family of David, they had made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Jeroboam debauched Israel—turned them away from serving God and led them into a life of total sin. The children of Israel went along with all the sins that Jeroboam did, never murmured so much as a word of protest. In the end, God spoke a final No to Israel and turned his back on them. He had given them fair warning, and plenty of time, through the preaching of all his servants the prophets. Then he exiled Israel from her land to Assyria. And that's where they are now.
24-25 The king of Assyria brought in people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and relocated them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the exiled Israelites. They moved in as if they owned the place and made themselves at home. When the Assyrians first moved in, God was just another god to them; they neither honored nor worshiped him. Then God sent lions among them and people were mauled and killed.
26 This message was then sent back to the king of Assyria: "The people you brought in to occupy the towns of Samaria don't know what's expected of them from the god of the land, and now he's sent lions and they're killing people right and left because nobody knows what the god of the land expects of them."
27 The king of Assyria ordered, "Send back some priests who were taken into exile from there. They can go back and live there and instruct the people in what the god of the land expects of them."
28 One of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came back and moved into Bethel. He taught them how to honor and worship God.
29-31 But each people that Assyria had settled went ahead anyway making its own gods and setting them up in the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that the citizens of Samaria had left behind—a local custom-made god for each people:
for Babylon, Succoth Benoth; for Cuthah, Nergal; for Hamath, Ashima; for Avva, Nibhaz and Tartak; for Sepharvaim, Adrammelech and Anammelech (people burned their children in sacrificial offerings to these gods!).
32-33 They honored and worshiped God, but not exclusively—they also appointed all sorts of priests, regardless of qualification, to conduct a variety of rites at the local fertility shrines. They honored and worshiped God, but they also kept up their devotions to the old gods of the places they had come from.
34-39 And they're still doing it, still worshiping any old god that has nostalgic appeal to them. They don't really worship God—they don't take seriously what he says regarding how to behave and what to believe, what he revealed to the children of Jacob whom he named Israel. God made a covenant with his people and ordered them, "Don't honor other gods: Don't worship them, don't serve them, don't offer sacrifices to them. Worship God, the God who delivered you from Egypt in great and personal power. Reverence and fear him. Worship him. Sacrifice to him. And only him! All the things he had written down for you, directing you in what to believe and how to behave—well, do them for as long as you live. And whatever you do, don't worship other gods! And the covenant he made with you, don't forget your part in that. And don't worship other gods! Worship God, and God only—he's the one who will save you from enemy oppression."
40-41 But they didn't pay any attention. They kept doing what they'd always done. As it turned out, all the time these people were putting on a front of worshiping God, they were at the same time involved with their local idols. And they're still doing it. Like father, like son.

2 Kings 18

Hezekiah of Judah
1-4 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz began his rule over Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king and he ruled for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. In God's opinion he was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David. He got rid of the local fertility shrines, smashed the phallic stone monuments, and cut down the sex-and-religion Asherah groves. As a final stroke he pulverized the ancient bronze serpent that Moses had made; at that time the Israelites had taken up the practice of sacrificing to it—they had even dignified it with a name, Nehushtan (The Old Serpent). 5-6 Hezekiah put his whole trust in the God of Israel. There was no king quite like him, either before or after. He held fast to God—never loosened his grip—and obeyed to the letter everything God had commanded Moses. And God, for his part, held fast to him through all his adventures.
7-8 He revolted against the king of Assyria; he refused to serve him one more day. And he drove back the Philistines, whether in sentry outposts or fortress cities, all the way to Gaza and its borders.
9-11 In the fourth year of Hezekiah and the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria attacked Samaria. He threw a siege around it and after three years captured it. It was in the sixth year of Hezekiah and the ninth year of Hoshea that Samaria fell to Assyria. The king of Assyria took Israel into exile and relocated them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River, and in towns of the Medes.
12 All this happened because they wouldn't listen to the voice of their God and treated his covenant with careless contempt. They refused either to listen or do a word of what Moses, the servant of God, commanded.

Acts 20:1-38 (The Message)

Acts 20

Macedonia and Greece
1-2 With things back to normal, Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope. 2-4Then he came to Greece and stayed on for three months. Just as he was about to sail for Syria, the Jews cooked up a plot against him. So he went the other way, by land back through Macedonia, and gave them the slip. His companions for the journey were Sopater, son of Pyrrhus, from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus, both Thessalonians; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and the two from western Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
5-6They went on ahead and waited for us in Troas. Meanwhile, we stayed in Philippi for Passover Week, and then set sail. Within five days we were again in Troas and stayed a week.
7-9We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master's Supper. Paul addressed the congregation. Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on, way past midnight. We were meeting in a well-lighted upper room. A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead.
10-12Paul went down, stretched himself on him, and hugged him hard. "No more crying," he said. "There's life in him yet." Then Paul got up and served the Master's Supper. And went on telling stories of the faith until dawn! On that note, they left—Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves.
13-16In the meantime, the rest of us had gone on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we planned to pick up Paul. Paul wanted to walk there, and so had made these arrangements earlier. Things went according to plan: We met him in Assos, took him on board, and sailed to Mitylene. The next day we put in opposite Chios, Samos a day later, and then Miletus. Paul had decided to bypass Ephesus so that he wouldn't be held up in Asia province. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem in time for the Feast of Pentecost, if at all possible.
On to Jerusalem
17-21From Miletus he sent to Ephesus for the leaders of the congregation. When they arrived, he said, "You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally—laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. I didn't skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus. 22-24"But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won't be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.
25-27"And so this is good-bye. You're not going to see me again, nor I you, you whom I have gone among for so long proclaiming the news of God's inaugurated kingdom. I've done my best for you, given you my all, held back nothing of God's will for you.
28"Now it's up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God's people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for.
29-31"I know that as soon as I'm gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.
32"Now I'm turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends.
33-35"I've never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. In everything I've done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You'll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, 'You're far happier giving than getting.'"
36-38Then Paul went down on his knees, all of them kneeling with him, and prayed. And then a river of tears. Much clinging to Paul, not wanting to let him go. They knew they would never see him again—he had told them quite plainly. The pain cut deep. Then, bravely, they walked him down to the ship.

Psalm 148:1-14 (The Message)

Psalm 148

Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven,
praise him from the mountaintops;
Praise him, all you his angels,
praise him, all you his warriors,
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, you morning stars;
Praise him, high heaven,
praise him, heavenly rain clouds;
Praise, oh let them praise the name of God
he spoke the word, and there they were!

6 He set them in place
from all time to eternity;
He gave his orders,
and that's it!

7-12 Praise God from earth,
you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and ice,
hurricanes obeying his orders;
Mountains and all hills,
apple orchards and cedar forests;
Wild beasts and herds of cattle,
snakes, and birds in flight;
Earth's kings and all races,
leaders and important people,
Robust men and women in their prime,
and yes, graybeards and little children.

13-14 Let them praise the name of God
it's the only Name worth praising.
His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky;
he's built a monument—his very own people! Praise from all who love God!
Israel's children, intimate friends of God.

Proverbs 18:6-7 (The Message)

6 The words of a fool start fights;
do him a favor and gag him.

7 Fools are undone by their big mouths;
their souls are crushed by their words.

Verse of the Day

“Then there will be only one LORD who rules as King and whose name is worshiped everywhere on earth.” - Zechariah 14:9
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version. for the Day

Indian scientist and administrator who served as the 11th President of India Abdul Kalam wrote, “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bible Readings for June 29, 2012

Today our passages are 2 Kings 15:1–16:20; Acts 19:13-41; Psalm 147:1-20; and Proverbs 18:4-5. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

2 Kings 15-16:20 (The Message)

2 Kings 15

Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah
 1-5 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah became king in Judah. He was sixteen years old when he began his rule and he was king for fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecoliah. She was from Jerusalem. He did well in the eyes of God, following in the footsteps of his father Amaziah. But he also failed to get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines; they continued to be popular with the people. God afflicted the king with a bad skin disease until the day of his death. He lived in the palace but no longer acted as king; his son Jotham ran the government and ruled the country.  6-7 The rest of the life and times of Azariah, everything he accomplished, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Azariah died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Jotham his son was king after him.
Zechariah of Israel
8-9 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in Samaria. He lasted only six months. He lived a bad life before God, no different from his ancestors. He continued in the line of Jeroboam son of Nebat who led Israel into a life of sin.  10 Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against him, assassinated him in public view, and took over as king.
 11-12 The rest of the life and times of Zechariah is written plainly in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. That completed the word of God that was given to Jehu, namely, "For four generations your sons will sit on the throne of Israel." Zechariah was the fourth.
Shallum of Israel
13 Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah. He was king in Samaria for only a month.  14 Menahem son of Gadi came up from Tirzah to Samaria. He attacked Shallum son of Jabesh and killed him. He then became king.
 15 The rest of the life and times of Shallum and the account of the conspiracy are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Menahem of Israel
16 Using Tirzah as his base, Menahem opened his reign by smashing Tiphsah, devastating both the town and its suburbs because they didn't welcome him with open arms. He savagely ripped open all the pregnant women.  17-18 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king over Israel. He ruled from Samaria for ten years. As far as God was concerned he lived an evil life. Sin for sin, he repeated the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
 19-20 Then Tiglath-Pileser III king of Assyria showed up and attacked the country. But Menahem made a deal with him: He bought his support by handing over about thirty-seven tons of silver. He raised the money by making every landowner in Israel pay fifty shekels to the king of Assyria. That satisfied the king of Assyria, and he left the country.
 21-22 The rest of the life and times of Menahem, everything he did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Menahem died and joined his ancestors. His son Pekahiah became the next king.
Pekahiah of Israel
23-24 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king of Israel. He ruled in Samaria for two years. In God's eyes he lived an evil life. He stuck to the old sin tracks of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.  25 And then his military aide Pekah son of Remaliah conspired against him—killed him in cold blood while he was in his private quarters in the royal palace in Samaria. He also killed Argob and Arieh. Fifty Gadites were in on the conspiracy with him. After the murder he became the next king.
 26 The rest of the life and times of Pekahiah, everything he did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Pekah of Israel
27-28 In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king of Israel in Samaria. He ruled for twenty years. In God's view he lived an evil life; he didn't deviate so much as a hair's breadth from the path laid down by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.  29 During the reign of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser III king of Assyria invaded the country. He captured Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, Galilee—the whole country of Naphtali—and took everyone captive to Assyria.
 30 But then Hoshea son of Elah mounted a conspiracy against Pekah son of Remaliah. He assassinated him and took over as king. This was in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah.
 31 The rest of the life and times of Pekah, everything he did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Jotham of Judah
32-35 In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah became king in Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. He acted well in God's eyes, following in the steps of his father Uzziah. But he didn't interfere with the traffic to the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines; they continued, as popular as ever. The construction of the High Gate to The Temple of God was his work.  36-38 The rest of the life and times of Jotham, the record of his work, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. It was during these years that God began sending Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah to attack Judah. Jotham died and joined his ancestors. They buried him in the family cemetery in the City of David. His son Ahaz was the next king.

2 Kings 16

Ahaz of Judah
 1-4 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham became king of Judah. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king and he ruled for sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn't behave in the eyes of his God; he wasn't at all like his ancestor David. Instead he followed in the track of the kings of Israel. He even indulged in the outrageous practice of "passing his son through the fire"—a truly abominable act he picked up from the pagans God had earlier thrown out of the country. He also participated in the activities of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that flourished all over the place.  5 Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel ganged up against Jerusalem, throwing a siege around the city, but they couldn't make further headway against Ahaz.
 6 At about this same time and on another front, the king of Edom recovered the port of Elath and expelled the men of Judah. The Edomites occupied Elath and have been there ever since.
 7-8 Ahaz sent envoys to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria with this message: "I'm your servant and your son. Come and save me from the heavy-handed invasion of the king of Aram and the king of Israel. They're attacking me right now." Then Ahaz robbed the treasuries of the palace and The Temple of God of their gold and silver and sent them to the king of Assyria as a bribe.
 9 The king of Assyria responded to him. He attacked and captured Damascus. He deported the people to Nineveh as exiles. Rezin he killed.
 10-11 King Ahaz went to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria in Damascus. The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him. He sent back to Uriah the priest a drawing and set of blueprints of the altar. Uriah the priest built the altar to the specifications that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. By the time the king returned from Damascus, Uriah had completed the altar.
 12-14 The minute the king saw the altar he approached it with reverence and arranged a service of worship with a full course of offerings: Whole-Burnt-Offerings with billows of smoke, Grain-Offerings, libations of Drink-Offerings, the sprinkling of blood from the Peace-Offerings—the works. But the old bronze Altar that signaled the presence of God he displaced from its central place and pushed it off to the side of his new altar.
 15 Then King Ahaz ordered Uriah the priest: "From now on offer all the sacrifices on the new altar, the great altar: morning Whole-Burnt-Offerings, evening Grain-Offerings, the king's Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Grain-Offerings, the people's Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Grain-Offerings, and also their Drink-Offerings. Splash all the blood from the burnt offerings and sacrifices against this altar. The old bronze Altar will be for my personal use.
 16 The priest Uriah followed King Ahaz's orders to the letter.
 17-18 Then King Ahaz proceeded to plunder The Temple furniture of all its bronze. He stripped the bronze from The Temple furnishings, even salvaged the four bronze oxen that supported the huge basin, The Sea, and set The Sea unceremoniously on the stone pavement. Finally, he removed any distinctive features from within The Temple that were offensive to the king of Assyria.
 19-20 The rest of the life and times of Ahaz is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Ahaz died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His son Hezekiah became the next king.

Acts 19:13-41 (The Message)

 13-16Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul's "game." They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, "I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!" The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man when the evil spirit talked back: "I know Jesus and I've heard of Paul, but who are you?" Then the possessed man went berserk—jumped the exorcists, beat them up, and tore off their clothes. Naked and bloody, they got away as best they could.
 17-20It was soon news all over Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. The realization spread that God was in and behind this. Curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the Master Jesus. Many of those who thus believed came out of the closet and made a clean break with their secret sorceries. All kinds of witches and warlocks came out of the woodwork with their books of spells and incantations and made a huge bonfire of them. Someone estimated their worth at fifty thousand silver coins. In such ways it became evident that the Word of the Master was now sovereign and prevailed in Ephesus.
The Goddess Artemis
 21-22After all this had come to a head, Paul decided it was time to move on to Macedonia and Achaia provinces, and from there to Jerusalem. "Then," he said, "I'm off to Rome. I've got to see Rome!" He sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, on to Macedonia and then stayed for a while and wrapped things up in Asia.  23-26But before he got away, a huge ruckus occurred over what was now being referred to as "the Way." A certain silversmith, Demetrius, conducted a brisk trade in the manufacture of shrines to the goddess Artemis, employing a number of artisans in his business. He rounded up his workers and others similarly employed and said, "Men, you well know that we have a good thing going here—and you've seen how Paul has barged in and discredited what we're doing by telling people that there's no such thing as a god made with hands. A lot of people are going along with him, not only here in Ephesus but all through Asia province.
 27"Not only is our little business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our famous goddess Artemis will certainly end up a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing. And this is no mere local matter—the whole world worships our Artemis!"
 28-31That set them off in a frenzy. They ran into the street yelling, "Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!" They put the whole city in an uproar, stampeding into the stadium, and grabbing two of Paul's associates on the way, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the disciples wouldn't let him. Prominent religious leaders in the city who had become friendly to Paul concurred: "By no means go near that mob!"
 32-34Some were yelling one thing, some another. Most of them had no idea what was going on or why they were there. As the Jews pushed Alexander to the front to try to gain control, different factions clamored to get him on their side. But he brushed them off and quieted the mob with an impressive sweep of his arms. But the moment he opened his mouth and they knew he was a Jew, they shouted him down: "Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!"—on and on and on, for over two hours.
 35-37Finally, the town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, "Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere who doesn't know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven? Since this is beyond contradiction, you had better get hold of yourselves. This is conduct unworthy of Artemis. These men you've dragged in here have done nothing to harm either our temple or our goddess.
 38-41"So if Demetrius and his guild of artisans have a complaint, they can take it to court and make all the accusations they want. If anything else is bothering you, bring it to the regularly scheduled town meeting and let it be settled there. There is no excuse for what's happened today. We're putting our city in serious danger. Rome, remember, does not look kindly on rioters." With that, he sent them home.

Psalm 147:1-20 (The Message)

Psalm 147

    Hallelujah! It's a good thing to sing praise to our God;
      praise is beautiful, praise is fitting.

 2-6 God's the one who rebuilds Jerusalem,
      who regathers Israel's scattered exiles.
   He heals the heartbroken
      and bandages their wounds.
   He counts the stars
      and assigns each a name.
   Our Lord is great, with limitless strength;
      we'll never comprehend what he knows and does.
   God puts the fallen on their feet again
      and pushes the wicked into the ditch.

 7-11 Sing to God a thanksgiving hymn,
      play music on your instruments to God,
   Who fills the sky with clouds,
      preparing rain for the earth,
   Then turning the mountains green with grass,
      feeding both cattle and crows.
   He's not impressed with horsepower;
      the size of our muscles means little to him.
   Those who fear God get God's attention;
      they can depend on his strength.

 12-18 Jerusalem, worship God!
      Zion, praise your God!
   He made your city secure,
      he blessed your children among you.
   He keeps the peace at your borders,
      he puts the best bread on your tables.
   He launches his promises earthward—
      how swift and sure they come!
   He spreads snow like a white fleece,
      he scatters frost like ashes,
   He broadcasts hail like birdseed—
      who can survive his winter?
   Then he gives the command and it all melts;
      he breathes on winter—suddenly it's spring!

 19-20 He speaks the same way to Jacob,
      speaks words that work to Israel.
   He never did this to the other nations;
      they never heard such commands.

Proverbs 18:4-5 (The Message)

 4 Many words rush along like rivers in flood,
   but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.

 5 It's not right to go easy on the guilty,
   or come down hard on the innocent.

Verse of the Day

“You, LORD, will always treat me with kindness. Your love never fails. You have made us what we are. Don't give up on us now!” - Psalm 138:8
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day

Aristocrat French writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote, “It is another of the miraculous things about mankind that there is no pain nor passion that does not radiate to the ends of the earth. Let a man in a garret but burn with enough intensity and he will set fire to the world.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bible Readings for June 28, 2012

Today our passages are 2 Kings 13:1–14:29; Acts 18:23–19:12; Psalm 146:1-10; and Proverbs 18:2-3. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

2 Kings 13-14:29 (The Message)

2 Kings 13

Jehoahaz of Israel
 1-3 In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria—a rule of seventeen years. He lived an evil life before God, walking step for step in the tracks of Jeroboam son of Nebat who led Israel into a life of sin, swerving neither left or right. Exasperated, God was furious with Israel and turned them over to Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad son of Hazael. This domination went on for a long time.  4-6 Then Jehoahaz prayed for a softening of God's anger, and God listened. He realized how wretched Israel had become under the brutalities of the king of Aram. So God provided a savior for Israel who brought them out from under Aram's oppression. The children of Israel were again able to live at peace in their own homes. But it didn't make any difference: They didn't change their lives, didn't turn away from the Jeroboam-sins that now characterized Israel, including the sex-and-religion shrines of Asherah still flourishing in Samaria.
 7 Nothing was left of Jehoahaz's army after Hazael's oppression except for fifty cavalry, ten chariots, and ten thousand infantry. The king of Aram had decimated the rest, leaving behind him mostly chaff.
 8-9 The rest of the life and times of Jehoahaz, the record of his accomplishments, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Jehoahaz died and was buried with his ancestors in Samaria. His son Jehoash succeeded him as king.
Jehoash of Israel
10-11 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash son of Jehoahaz became king of Israel in Samaria—a reign of sixteen years. In God's eyes he lived an evil life. He didn't deviate one bit from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin. He plodded along in the same tracks, step after step.  12-13 The rest of the life and times of Jehoash, the record of his accomplishments and his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Jehoash died and joined his ancestors. Jeroboam took over his throne. Jehoash was buried in Samaria in the royal cemetery.
 14 Elisha came down sick. It was the sickness of which he would soon die. Jehoash king of Israel paid him a visit. When he saw him he wept openly, crying, "My father, my father! Chariot and horsemen of Israel!"
 15 Elisha told him, "Go and get a bow and some arrows." The king brought him the bow and arrows.
 16 Then he told the king, "Put your hand on the bow." He put his hand on the bow. Then Elisha put his hand over the hand of the king.
 17 Elisha said, "Now open the east window." He opened it.
    Then he said, "Shoot!" And he shot.
    "The arrow of God's salvation!" exclaimed Elisha. "The arrow of deliverance from Aram! You will do battle against Aram until there's nothing left of it."
 18 "Now pick up the other arrows," said Elisha. He picked them up.
    Then he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground."
    The king struck the ground three times and then quit.
 19 The Holy Man became angry with him: "Why didn't you hit the ground five or six times? Then you would beat Aram until he was finished. As it is, you'll defeat him three times only."
 20-21 Then Elisha died and they buried him.
    Some time later, raiding bands of Moabites, as they often did, invaded the country. One day, some men were burying a man and spotted the raiders. They threw the man into Elisha's tomb and got away. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came alive, stood up, and walked out on his own two feet.
 22-24 Hazael king of Aram badgered and bedeviled Israel all through the reign of Jehoahaz. But God was gracious and showed mercy to them. He stuck with them out of respect for his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He never gave up on them, never even considered discarding them, even to this day. Hazael king of Aram died. His son Ben-Hadad was the next king.
 25 Jehoash son of Jehoahaz turned things around and took back the cities that Ben-Hadad son of Hazael had taken from his father Jehoahaz. Jehoash went to war three times and defeated him each time, recapturing the cities of Israel.

2 Kings 14

Amaziah of Judah
 1-2 In the second year of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash became king of Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king and he reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddin. She was from Jerusalem.  3-4 He lived the way God wanted and did the right thing. But he didn't come up to the standards of his ancestor David; instead he lived pretty much as his father Joash had; the local sex-and-religion shrines continued to stay in business with people frequenting them.
 5-6 When he had the affairs of the kingdom well in hand, he executed the palace guard that had assassinated his father the king. But he didn't kill the sons of the assassins. He was obedient to what God commanded, written in the Word revealed to Moses, that parents shouldn't be executed for their children's sins, nor children for those of their parents. We each pay personally for our sins.
 7 Amaziah roundly defeated Edom in the Valley of Salt to the tune of ten thousand dead. In another battle he took The Rock and renamed it Joktheel, the name it still bears.
 8 One day Amaziah sent envoys to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, challenging him to a fight: "Come and meet with me—dare you. Let's have it out face-to-face!"
 9-10 Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah, "One day a thistle in Lebanon sent word to a cedar in Lebanon, 'Give your daughter to my son in marriage.' But then a wild animal of Lebanon passed by and stepped on the thistle, crushing it. Just because you've defeated Edom in battle, you now think you're a big shot. Go ahead and be proud, but stay home. Why press your luck? Why bring defeat on yourself and Judah?"
 11 Amaziah wouldn't take No for an answer. So Jehoash king of Israel gave in and agreed to a battle between him and Amaziah king of Judah. They met at Beth Shemesh, a town of Judah.
 12 Judah was thoroughly beaten by Israel—all their soldiers ran home in defeat.
 13-14 Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh. But Jehoash didn't stop there; he went on to attack Jerusalem. He demolished the wall of Jerusalem all the way from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate—a stretch of about six hundred feet. He looted the gold, silver, and furnishings—anything he found that was worth taking—from both the palace and The Temple of God. And, for good measure, he took hostages. Then he returned to Samaria.
 15-16 The rest of the life and times of Jehoash, his significant accomplishments and the fight with Amaziah king of Judah, are all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Jehoash died and was buried in Samaria in the cemetery of the kings of Israel. His son Jeroboam became the next king.
 17-18 Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah continued as king fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. The rest of the life and times of Amaziah is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.
 19-20 At the last they cooked up a plot against Amaziah in Jerusalem and he had to flee to Lachish. But they tracked him down in Lachish and killed him there. They brought him back on horseback and buried him in Jerusalem, with his ancestors in the City of David.
 21-22 Azariah—he was only sixteen years old at the time—was the unanimous choice of the people of Judah to succeed his father Amaziah as king. Following his father's death, he rebuilt and restored Elath to Judah.
Jeroboam II of Israel
23-25 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash became king of Israel in Samaria. He ruled for forty-one years. As far as God was concerned he lived an evil life, never deviating an inch from all the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin. But he did restore the borders of Israel to Lebo Hamath in the far north and to the Dead Sea in the south, matching what God, the God of Israel, had pronounced through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.  26-27 God was fully aware of the trouble in Israel, its bitterly hard times. No one was exempt, whether slave or citizen, and no hope of help anywhere was in sight. But God wasn't yet ready to blot out the name of Israel from history, so he used Jeroboam son of Jehoash to save them.
 28-29 The rest of the life and times of Jeroboam, his victories in battle and how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath which had belonged to Judah, these are all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Jeroboam died and was buried with his ancestors in the royal cemetery. His son Zechariah became the next king.

Acts 18:23-19:12 (The Message)

 23After spending a considerable time with the Antioch Christians, Paul set off again for Galatia and Phrygia, retracing his old tracks, one town after another, putting fresh heart into the disciples.
 24-26A man named Apollos came to Ephesus. He was a Jew, born in Alexandria, Egypt, and a terrific speaker, eloquent and powerful in his preaching of the Scriptures. He was well-educated in the way of the Master and fiery in his enthusiasm. Apollos was accurate in everything he taught about Jesus up to a point, but he only went as far as the baptism of John. He preached with power in the meeting place. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and told him the rest of the story.
 27-28When Apollos decided to go on to Achaia province, his Ephesian friends gave their blessing and wrote a letter of recommendation for him, urging the disciples there to welcome him with open arms. The welcome paid off: Apollos turned out to be a great help to those who had become believers through God's immense generosity. He was particularly effective in public debate with the Jews as he brought out proof after convincing proof from the Scriptures that Jesus was in fact God's Messiah.

Acts 19

 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?"    "We've never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?"
 3"How were you baptized, then?" asked Paul.
   "In John's baptism."
 4"That explains it," said Paul. "John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you've been baptized in John's baptism, you're ready now for the real thing, for Jesus."
 5-7And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God's actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.
 8-10Paul then went straight to the meeting place. He had the run of the place for three months, doing his best to make the things of the kingdom of God real and convincing to them. But then resistance began to form as some of them began spreading evil rumors through the congregation about the Christian way of life. So Paul left, taking the disciples with him, and set up shop in the school of Tyrannus, holding class there daily. He did this for two years, giving everyone in the province of Asia, Jews as well as Greeks, ample opportunity to hear the Message of the Master.
Witches Came out of the Woodwork
 11-12God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul's skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole.

Psalm 146:1-10 (The Message)

Psalm 146

    Hallelujah! O my soul, praise God!
   All my life long I'll praise God,
      singing songs to my God as long as I live.

 3-9 Don't put your life in the hands of experts
      who know nothing of life, of salvation life.
   Mere humans don't have what it takes;
      when they die, their projects die with them.
   Instead, get help from the God of Jacob,
      put your hope in God and know real blessing!
   God made sky and soil,
      sea and all the fish in it.
   He always does what he says—
      he defends the wronged,
      he feeds the hungry.
   God frees prisoners—
      he gives sight to the blind,
      he lifts up the fallen.
   God loves good people, protects strangers,
      takes the side of orphans and widows,
      but makes short work of the wicked.

 10 God's in charge—always.
      Zion's God is God for good!

Proverbs 18:2-3 (The Message)

 2 Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse;
   all they do is run off at the mouth.

 3 When wickedness arrives, shame's not far behind;
   contempt for life is contemptible.

Verse of the Day

“The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.” - 2 Peter 3:9
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism of French expression Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bible Readings for June 27, 2012

Today our passages are 2 Kings 10:32–12:21; Acts 18:1-22; Psalm 145:1-21; and Proverbs 18:1. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

2 Kings 10:32-12:21 (The Message)

 32-33 It was about this time that God began to shrink Israel. Hazael hacked away at the borders of Israel from the Jordan to the east—all the territory of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh from Aroer near the Brook Arnon. In effect, all Gilead and Bashan.
 34-36 The rest of the life and times of Jehu, his accomplishments and fame, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Jehu died and was buried in the family plot in Samaria. His son Jehoahaz was the next king. Jehu ruled Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.

2 Kings 11

Athaliah of Judah
 1-3Athaliah was the mother of Ahaziah. When she saw that her son was dead, she took over. She began by massacring the entire royal family. But Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram and sister of Ahaziah, took Ahaziah's son Joash and kidnapped him from among the king's sons slated for slaughter. She hid him and his nurse in a private room away from Athaliah. He didn't get killed. He was there with her, hidden away for six years in The Temple of God. Athaliah, oblivious to his existence, ruled the country.  4 In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the captains of the bodyguards and the Palace Security Force. They met him in The Temple of God. He made a covenant with them, swore them to secrecy, and only then showed them the young prince.
 5-8 Then he commanded them, "These are your instructions: Those of you who come on duty on the Sabbath and guard the palace, and those of you who go off duty on the Sabbath and guard The Temple of God, are to join forces at the time of the changing of the guard and form a ring around the young king, weapons at the ready. Kill anyone who tries to break through your ranks. Your job is to stay with the king at all times and places, coming and going."
 9-11 The captains obeyed the orders of Jehoiada the priest. Each took his men, those who came on duty on the Sabbath and those who went off duty on the Sabbath, and presented them to Jehoiada the priest. The priest armed the officers with spears and shields originally belonging to King David, stored in The Temple of God. Well-armed, the guards took up their assigned positions for protecting the king, from one end of The Temple to the other, surrounding both Altar and Temple.
 12 Then the priest brought the prince into view, crowned him, handed him the scroll of God's covenant, and made him king. As they anointed him, everyone applauded and shouted, "Long live the king!"
 13-14 Athaliah heard the shouting of guards and people and came to the crowd gathered at The Temple of God. Astonished, she saw the king standing beside the throne, flanked by the captains and heralds, with everybody beside themselves with joy, trumpets blaring. Athaliah ripped her robes in dismay and shouted, "Treason! Treason!"
 15-16 Jehoiada the priest ordered the military officers, "Drag her outside and kill anyone who tries to follow her!" (The priest had said, "Don't kill her inside The Temple of God.") So they dragged her out to the palace's horse corral; there they killed her.
 17 Jehoiada now made a covenant between God and the king and the people: They were God's people. Another covenant was made between the king and the people.
 18-20 The people poured into the temple of Baal and tore it down, smashing altar and images to smithereens. They killed Mattan the priest in front of the altar.
    Jehoiada then stationed sentries in The Temple of God. He arranged for the officers of the bodyguard and the palace security, along with the people themselves, to escort the king down from The Temple of God through the Gate of the Guards and into the palace. There he sat on the royal throne. Everybody celebrated the event. And the city was safe and undisturbed—they had killed Athaliah with the royal sword.
 21 Joash was seven years old when he became king.

2 Kings 12

Joash of Judah
 1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash began his kingly rule. He was king for forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Gazelle. She was from Beersheba.  2-3 Taught and trained by Jehoiada the priest, Joash did what pleased God for as long as he lived. (Even so, he didn't get rid of the sacred fertility shrines—people still frequented them, sacrificing and burning incense.)
 4-5 Joash instructed the priests: "Take the money that is brought into The Temple of God for holy offerings—both mandatory offerings and freewill offerings—and, keeping a careful accounting, use them to renovate The Temple wherever it has fallen into disrepair."
 6 But by the twenty-third year of Joash's rule, the priests hadn't done one thing—The Temple was as dilapidated as ever.
 7 King Joash called Jehoiada the priest and the company of priests and said, "Why haven't you renovated this sorry-looking Temple? You are forbidden to take any more money for Temple repairs—from now on, hand over everything you get."
 8 The priests agreed not to take any more money or to be involved in The Temple renovation.
 9-16 Then Jehoiada took a single chest and bored a hole in the lid and placed it to the right of the main entrance into The Temple of God. All the offerings that were brought to The Temple of God were placed in the chest by the priests who guarded the entrance. When they saw that a large sum of money had accumulated in the chest, the king's secretary and the chief priest would empty the chest and count the offerings. They would give the money accounted for to the managers of The Temple project; they in turn would pay the carpenters, construction workers, masons, stoneworkers, and the buyers of timber and quarried stone for the repair and renovation of The Temple of God—any expenses connected with fixing up The Temple. But none of the money brought into The Temple of God was used for liturgical "extras" (silver chalices, candle snuffers, trumpets, various gold and silver vessels, etc.). It was given to the workmen to pay for their repairing God's Temple. And no one even had to check on the men who handled the money given for the project—they were honest men. Offerings designated for Compensation Offerings and Absolution Offerings didn't go into the building project—those went directly to the priests.
 17-18 Around this time Hazael king of Aram ventured out and attacked Gath, and he captured it. Then he decided to try for Jerusalem. Joash king of Judah countered by gathering up all the sacred memorials—gifts dedicated for holy use by his ancestors, the kings of Judah, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah, along with the holy memorials he himself had received, plus all the gold that he could find in the temple and palace storerooms—and sent it to Hazael king of Aram. Appeased, Hazael went on his way and didn't bother Jerusalem.
 19-21 The rest of the life and times of Joash and all that he did are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. At the last his palace staff formed a conspiracy and assassinated Joash as he was strolling along the ramp of the fortified outside city wall. Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer were the assassins. And so Joash died and was buried in the family plot in the City of David. His son Amaziah was king after him.

Acts 18:1-22 (The Message)

Acts 18

 1-4After Athens, Paul went to Corinth. That is where he discovered Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, and his wife, Priscilla. They had just arrived from Italy, part of the general expulsion of Jews from Rome ordered by Claudius. Paul moved in with them, and they worked together at their common trade of tentmaking. But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place, doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus.  5-6When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God's Messiah. But no such luck. All they did was argue contentiously and contradict him at every turn. Totally exasperated, Paul had finally had it with them and gave it up as a bad job. "Have it your way, then," he said. "You've made your bed; now lie in it. From now on I'm spending my time with the other nations."
 7-8He walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus, a God-fearing man who lived right next to the Jews' meeting place. But Paul's efforts with the Jews weren't a total loss, for Crispus, the meeting-place president, put his trust in the Master. His entire family believed with him.
 8-11In the course of listening to Paul, a great many Corinthians believed and were baptized. One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: "Keep it up, and don't let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I'm with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city." That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians.
 12-13But when Gallio was governor of Achaia province, the Jews got up a campaign against Paul, hauled him into court, and filed charges: "This man is seducing people into acts of worship that are illegal."
 14-16Just as Paul was about to defend himself, Gallio interrupted and said to the Jews, "If this was a matter of criminal conduct, I would gladly hear you out. But it sounds to me like one more Jewish squabble, another of your endless hairsplitting quarrels over religion. Take care of it on your own time. I can't be bothered with this nonsense," and he cleared them out of the courtroom.
 17Now the street rabble turned on Sosthenes, the new meeting-place president, and beat him up in plain sight of the court. Gallio didn't raise a finger. He could not have cared less.
 18Paul stayed a while longer in Corinth, but then it was time to take leave of his friends. Saying his good-byes, he sailed for Syria, Priscilla and Aquila with him. Before boarding the ship in the harbor town of Cenchrea, he had his head shaved as part of a vow he had taken.  19-21They landed in Ephesus, where Priscilla and Aquila got off and stayed. Paul left the ship briefly to go to the meeting place and preach to the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer, but he said he couldn't. But after saying good-bye, he promised, "I'll be back, God willing."
 21-22From Ephesus he sailed to Caesarea. He greeted the church there, and then went on to Antioch, completing the journey.

Psalm 145:1-21 (The Message)

Psalm 145

David's Praise
 1 I lift you high in praise, my God, O my King! and I'll bless your name into eternity.

 2 I'll bless you every day,
      and keep it up from now to eternity.
 3 God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
      There are no boundaries to his greatness.
 4 Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
      each one tells stories of your mighty acts.
 5 Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
      I compose songs on your wonders.
 6 Your marvelous doings are headline news;
      I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.
 7 The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
      your righteousness is on everyone's lips.

 8 God is all mercy and grace—
      not quick to anger, is rich in love.

 9 God is good to one and all;
      everything he does is suffused with grace.

 10-11 Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
      your holy people bless you.    They talk about the glories of your rule,
      they exclaim over your splendor,

 12 Letting the world know of your power for good,
      the lavish splendor of your kingdom.

 13 Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
      you never get voted out of office.
   God always does what he says,
      and is gracious in everything he does.

 14 God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
      gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.

 15 All eyes are on you, expectant;
      you give them their meals on time.

 16 Generous to a fault,
      you lavish your favor on all creatures.

 17 Everything God does is right—
      the trademark on all his works is love.

 18 God's there, listening for all who pray,
      for all who pray and mean it.

 19 He does what's best for those who fear him—
      hears them call out, and saves them.

 20 God sticks by all who love him,
      but it's all over for those who don't.

 21 My mouth is filled with God's praise.
      Let everything living bless him,
      bless his holy name from now to eternity!

Proverbs 18:1 (The Message)

Proverbs 18

Words Kill, Words Give Life
 1 Loners who care only for themselves spit on the common good.

Verse of the Day
“If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” - Matthew 16:25
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

French playwright and director Jacques Deval wrote, “God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bible Readings for June 26, 2012

Today our passages are 2 Kings 9:14–10:31; Acts 17:1-34; Psalm 144:1-15; and Proverbs 17:27-28. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

2 Kings 9:14-10:31 (The Message)

 14-15 That ignited the conspiracy of Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi against Joram.
    Meanwhile, Joram and the entire army were defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram. Except that Joram had pulled back to Jezreel to convalesce from the injuries he got from the Arameans in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.
    Jehu said, "If you really want me as king, don't let anyone sneak out of the city and blab the news in Jezreel."
 16 Then Jehu mounted a chariot and rode to Jezreel, where Joram was in bed, resting. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram.
 17 A sentry standing duty on the watchtower in Jezreel saw the company of Jehu arrive. He said, "I see a band of men."
    Joram said, "Get a horseman and send him out to meet them and inquire, 'Is anything wrong?'"
 18 The horseman rode out to meet Jehu and said, "The king wants to know if there's anything wrong."
    Jehu said, "What's it to you whether things are right or wrong? Fall in behind me."
    The sentry said, "The messenger reached them, but he's not returning."
 19 The king then sent a second horseman. When he reached them he said, "The king wants to know if there's anything wrong."
    Jehu said, "What's it to you whether things are right or wrong? Fall in behind me."
 20 The sentry said, "The messenger reached them, but he's not returning. The driving is like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi—crazy!"
 21 Joram ordered, "Get my chariot ready!" They hitched up his chariot. Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah, each in his own chariot, drove out to meet Jehu. They met in the field of Naboth of Jezreel.
 22 When Joram saw Jehu he called out, "Good day, Jehu!"
    Jehu answered, "What's good about it? How can there be anything good about it as long as the promiscuous whoring and sorceries of your mother Jezebel pollute the country?"
 23 Joram wheeled his chariot around and fled, yelling to Ahaziah, "It's a trap, Ahaziah!"
 24 Jehu pulled on his bow and released an arrow; it hit Joram between the shoulder blades and went right through his heart. He slumped to his knees in his chariot.
 25-26 Jehu ordered Bidkar, his lieutenant, "Quick—throw him into the field of Naboth of Jezreel. Remember when you and I were driving our chariots behind Ahab his father? That's when God pronounced this doom upon him: 'As surely as I saw the blood of murdered Naboth and his sons yesterday, you'll pay for it on this exact piece of ground. God's word!' So take him and throw him out in the field. God's instructions carried out to the letter!"
 27 Ahaziah king of Judah saw what was going on and made his escape on the road toward Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, yelling out, "Get him, too!" Jehu's troops shot and wounded him in his chariot on the hill up to Gur, near Ibleam. He was able to make it as far as Megiddo; there he died.
 28 His aides drove on to Jerusalem. They buried him in the family plot in the City of David.
 29 In the eleventh year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king of Judah.
 30-31 When Jezebel heard that Jehu had arrived in Jezreel, she made herself up—put on eyeshadow and arranged her hair—and posed seductively at the window. When Jehu came through the city gate, she called down, "So, how are things, 'Zimri,' you dashing king-killer?"
 32 Jehu looked up at the window and called, "Is there anybody up there on my side?" Two or three palace eunuchs looked out.
 33 He ordered, "Throw her down!" They threw her out the window. Her blood spattered the wall and the horses, and Jehu trampled her under his horse's hooves.
 34 Then Jehu went inside and ate his lunch. During lunch he gave orders, "Take care of that damned woman; give her a decent burial—she is, after all, a king's daughter."
 35-36 They went out to bury her, but there was nothing left of her but skull, feet, and hands. They came back and told Jehu. He said, "It's God's word, the word spoken by Elijah the Tishbite:
    In the field of Jezreel,
      dogs will eat Jezebel;
 37 The body of Jezebel will be like
      dog-droppings on the ground in Jezreel.
   Old friends and lovers will say,
      'I wonder, is this Jezebel?'"

2 Kings 10

 1-2Ahab had seventy sons still living in Samaria. Jehu wrote letters addressed to the officers of Jezreel, the city elders, and those in charge of Ahab's sons, and posted them to Samaria. The letters read:  2-3 This letter is fair warning. You're in charge of your master's children, chariots, horses, fortifications, and weapons. Pick the best and most capable of your master's sons and put him on the throne. Prepare to fight for your master's position.
 4 They were absolutely terrified at the letter. They said, "Two kings have already been wiped out by him; what hope do we have?"
 5 So they sent the warden of the palace, the mayor of the city, the elders, and the guardians to Jehu with this message: "We are your servants. Whatever you say, we'll do. We're not making anyone king here. You're in charge—do what you think best."
 6-7 Then Jehu wrote a second letter:
   If you are on my side and are willing to follow my orders, here's what you do: Decapitate the sons of your master and bring the heads to me by this time tomorrow in Jezreel.
    The king's sons numbered seventy. The leaders of the city had taken responsibility for them. When they got the letter, they took the king's sons and killed all seventy. Then they put the heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel.
 8 A messenger reported to Jehu: "They've delivered the heads of the king's sons."
    He said, "Stack them in two piles at the city gate until morning."
 9-10 In the morning Jehu came out, stood before the people, and addressed them formally: "Do you realize that this very day you are participants in God's righteous workings? True, I am the one who conspired against my master and assassinated him. But who, do you suppose, is responsible for this pile of skulls? Know this for certain: Not a single syllable that God spoke in judgment on the family of Ahab is canceled; you're seeing it with your own eyes—God doing what, through Elijah, he said he'd do."
 11 Then Jehu proceeded to kill everyone who had anything to do with Ahab's family in Jezreel—leaders, friends, priests. He wiped out the entire lot.
 12-13 That done, he brushed himself off and set out for Samaria. Along the way, at Beth Eked (Binding House) of the Shepherds, he met up with some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah.
    Jehu said, "Who are you?"
    They said, "We're relatives of Ahaziah and we've come down to a reunion of the royal family."
 14 "Grab them!" ordered Jehu. They were taken and then massacred at the well of Beth Eked. Forty-two of them—no survivors.
 15 He went on from there and came upon Jehonadab the Recabite who was on his way to meet him. Greeting him, he said, "Are we together and of one mind in this?"
    Jehonadab said, "We are—count on me."
    "Then give me your hand," said Jehu.
    They shook hands on it and Jehonadab stepped up into the chariot with Jehu.
 16 "Come along with me," said Jehu, "and witness my zeal for God." Together they proceeded in the chariot.
 17 When they arrived in Samaria, Jehu massacred everyone left in Samaria who was in any way connected with Ahab—a mass execution, just as God had told Elijah.
 18-19 Next, Jehu got all the people together and addressed them:
      Ahab served Baal small-time; Jehu will serve him big-time.
"Get all the prophets of Baal here—everyone who served him, all his priests. Get everyone here; don't leave anyone out. I have a great sacrifice to offer Baal. If you don't show up, you won't live to tell about it." (Jehu was lying, of course. He planned to destroy all the worshipers of Baal.)
 20 Jehu ordered, "Make preparation for a holy convocation for Baal." They did and posted the date.
 21 Jehu then summoned everyone in Israel. They came in droves—every worshiper of Baal in the country. Nobody stayed home. They came and packed the temple of Baal to capacity.
 22 Jehu directed the keeper of the wardrobe, "Get robes for all the servants of Baal." He brought out their robes.
 23-24 Jehu and Jehonadab the Recabite now entered the temple of Baal and said, "Double-check and make sure that there are no worshipers of God in here; only Baal-worshipers are allowed." Then they launched the worship, making the sacrifices and burnt offerings.
    Meanwhile, Jehu had stationed eighty men outside with orders: "Don't let a single person escape; if you do, it's your life for his life."
 25-27 When Jehu had finished with the sacrificial solemnities, he signaled to the officers and guards, "Enter and kill! No survivors!"
    And the bloody slaughter began. The officers and guards threw the corpses outside and cleared the way to enter the inner shrine of Baal. They hauled out the sacred phallic stone from the temple of Baal and pulverized it. They smashed the Baal altars and tore down the Baal temple. It's been a public toilet ever since.
 28 And that's the story of Jehu's wasting of Baal in Israel.
 29 But for all that, Jehu didn't turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the sins that had dragged Israel into a life of sin—the golden calves in Bethel and Dan stayed.
 30 God commended Jehu: "You did well to do what I saw was best. You did what I ordered against the family of Ahab. As reward, your sons will occupy the throne of Israel for four generations."
 31 Even then, though, Jehu wasn't careful to walk in God's ways and honor the God of Israel from an undivided heart. He didn't turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.

Acts 17:1-34 (The Message)

Acts 17

 1-3 They took the road south through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, where there was a community of Jews. Paul went to their meeting place, as he usually did when he came to a town, and for three Sabbaths running he preached to them from the Scriptures. He opened up the texts so they understood what they'd been reading all their lives: that the Messiah absolutely had to be put to death and raised from the dead—there were no other options—and that "this Jesus I'm introducing you to is that Messiah."  4-5Some of them were won over and joined ranks with Paul and Silas, among them a great many God-fearing Greeks and a considerable number of women from the aristocracy. But the hard-line Jews became furious over the conversions. Mad with jealousy, they rounded up a bunch of brawlers off the streets and soon had an ugly mob terrorizing the city as they hunted down Paul and Silas.
 5-7They broke into Jason's house, thinking that Paul and Silas were there. When they couldn't find them, they collared Jason and his friends instead and dragged them before the city fathers, yelling hysterically, "These people are out to destroy the world, and now they've shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear! And Jason is hiding them, these traitors and turncoats who say Jesus is king and Caesar is nothing!"
 8-9The city fathers and the crowd of people were totally alarmed by what they heard. They made Jason and his friends post heavy bail and let them go while they investigated the charges.
 10-12That night, under cover of darkness, their friends got Paul and Silas out of town as fast as they could. They sent them to Berea, where they again met with the Jewish community. They were treated a lot better there than in Thessalonica. The Jews received Paul's message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said. A lot of them became believers, including many Greeks who were prominent in the community, women and men of influence.  13-15But it wasn't long before reports got back to the Thessalonian hardline Jews that Paul was at it again, preaching the Word of God, this time in Berea. They lost no time responding, and created a mob scene there, too. With the help of his friends, Paul gave them the slip—caught a boat and put out to sea. Silas and Timothy stayed behind. The men who helped Paul escape got him as far as Athens and left him there. Paul sent word back with them to Silas and Timothy: "Come as quickly as you can!"
 16The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.  17-18He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: "What an airhead!" But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: "That's a new slant on the gods. Tell us more."
 19-21These people got together and asked him to make a public presentation over at the Areopagus, where things were a little quieter. They said, "This is a new one on us. We've never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand." Downtown Athens was a great place for gossip. There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.
 22-23So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. "It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I'm here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you're dealing with.
 24-29"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?
 30-31"God overlooks it as long as you don't know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he's calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead."
 32-34At the phrase "raising him from the dead," the listeners split: Some laughed at him and walked off making jokes; others said, "Let's do this again. We want to hear more." But that was it for the day, and Paul left. There were still others, it turned out, who were convinced then and there, and stuck with Paul—among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris.

Psalm 144:1-15 (The Message)

Psalm 144

A David Psalm
 1-2 Blessed be God, my mountain, who trains me to fight fair and well.
   He's the bedrock on which I stand,
      the castle in which I live,
      my rescuing knight,
   The high crag where I run for dear life,
      while he lays my enemies low.

 3-4 I wonder why you care, God
      why do you bother with us at all?
   All we are is a puff of air;
      we're like shadows in a campfire.

 5-8 Step down out of heaven, God;
      ignite volcanoes in the hearts of the mountains.
   Hurl your lightnings in every direction;
      shoot your arrows this way and that.
   Reach all the way from sky to sea:
      pull me out of the ocean of hate,
      out of the grip of those barbarians
   Who lie through their teeth,
      who shake your hand
      then knife you in the back.

 9-10 O God, let me sing a new song to you,
      let me play it on a twelve-string guitar—
   A song to the God who saved the king,
      the God who rescued David, his servant.

 11 Rescue me from the enemy sword,
      release me from the grip of those barbarians
   Who lie through their teeth,
      who shake your hand
      then knife you in the back.

 12-14 Make our sons in their prime
      like sturdy oak trees,
   Our daughters as shapely and bright
      as fields of wildflowers.
   Fill our barns with great harvest,
      fill our fields with huge flocks;
   Protect us from invasion and exile—
      eliminate the crime in our streets.

 15 How blessed the people who have all this!
   How blessed the people who have God for God!

Proverbs 17:27-28 (The Message)

 27 The one who knows much says little;
   an understanding person remains calm.

 28 Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
   as long as they keep their mouths shut, they're smart.

Verse of the Day

“Stop being angry and don't try to take revenge. I am the LORD, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.” - Leviticus 19:18
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
American writer Pearl S. Buck wrote, “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and so they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.”