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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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bible Readings for July 26, 2016

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 Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

2 Chronicles 17-18:34 (The Message)

2 Chronicles 17

Jehoshaphat of Judah
 1-6 Asa's son Jehoshaphat was the next king; he started out by working on his defense system against Israel. He put troops in all the fortress cities of Judah and deployed garrisons throughout Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. God was on Jehoshaphat's side because he stuck to the ways of his father Asa's early years. He didn't fool around with the popular Baal religion—he was a seeker and follower of the God of his father and was obedient to him; he wasn't like Israel. And God secured the kingdom under his rule, gave him a firm grip on it. And everyone in Judah showed their appreciation by bringing gifts. Jehoshaphat ended up very rich and much honored. He was single-minded in following God; and he got rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines.  7-9 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials—excellent men, every one of them—Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah on a teaching mission to the cities of Judah. They were accompanied by Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah; the priests Elishama and Jehoram were also in the company. They made a circuit of the towns of Judah, teaching the people and using the Book of The Revelation of God as their text.
 10-12 There was a strong sense of the fear of God in all the kingdoms around Judah—they didn't dare go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines even brought gifts and a load of silver to Jehoshaphat, and the desert bedouin brought flocks—7,700 rams and 7,700 goats. So Jehoshaphat became stronger by the day, and constructed more and more forts and store-cities—an age of prosperity for Judah!
 13-19 He also had excellent fighting men stationed in Jerusalem. The captains of the military units of Judah, classified according to families, were: Captain Adnah with 300,000 soldiers; his associate Captain Jehohanan with 280,000; his associate Amasiah son of Zicri, a volunteer for God, with 200,000. Officer Eliada represented Benjamin with 200,000 fully equipped with bow and shield; and his associate was Jehozabad with 180,000 armed and ready for battle. These were under the direct command of the king; in addition there were the troops assigned to the fortress cities spread all over Judah.

2 Chronicles 18

 1-3 But even though Jehoshaphat was very rich and much honored, he made a marriage alliance with Ahab of Israel. Some time later he paid a visit to Ahab at Samaria. Ahab celebrated his visit with a feast—a huge barbecue with all the lamb and beef you could eat. But Ahab had a hidden agenda; he wanted Jehoshaphat's support in attacking Ramoth Gilead. Then Ahab brought it into the open: "Will you join me in attacking Ramoth Gilead?" Jehoshaphat said, "You bet. I'm with you all the way; you can count on me and my troops."  4 Then Jehoshaphat said, "But before you do anything, ask God for guidance."
 5 The king of Israel got the prophets together—all four hundred of them —and put the question to them: "Should I attack Ramoth Gilead or should I hold back?"
    "Go for it," they said. "God will hand it over to the king."
 6 But Jehoshaphat dragged his feet, "Is there another prophet of God around here we can consult? Let's get a second opinion."
 7 The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, "As a matter of fact, there is another. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom—Micaiah son of Imlah."
    "The king shouldn't talk about a prophet like that!" said Jehoshaphat.
 8 So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, "Quickly, get Micaiah son of Imlah."
 9-11 Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them, called out, "God's word! With these horns you'll gore Aram until there's nothing left of them!" All the prophets chimed in, "Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God's gift to the king!"
 12 The messenger who went to get Micaiah told him, "The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous—vote Yes!"
 13 But Micaiah said, "As sure as God lives, what God says, I'll say."
 14 With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, "So, Micaiah—do we attack Ramoth Gilead? Or do we hold back?"
    "Go ahead," he said, "an easy victory! God's gift to the king."
 15 "Not so fast," said the king. "How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?"
 16 "All right," said Micaiah, "since you insist . . .
    I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills,
      sheep with no shepherd.
   Then God spoke, 'These poor people
      have no one to tell them what to do.
   Let them go home and do
      the best they can for themselves.'"

 17 The king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, "See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom."
 18-21 Micaiah kept on, "I'm not done yet; listen to God's word:
    I saw God enthroned,
      and all the Angel Armies of heaven
   standing at attention,
      ranged on his right and his left.
   And God said, "How can we seduce Ahab
      into attacking Ramoth Gilead?"
   Some said this,
      and some said that.
   Then a bold angel stepped out,
      stood before God, and said,
   "I'll seduce him."
      "And how will you do it?" said God.
   "Easy," said the angel,
      "I'll get all the prophets to lie."
   "That should do it," said God;
      "On your way—seduce him!"

 22 "And that's what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom."
 23 Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and slapped Micaiah in the face, saying, "Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?"
 24 Micaiah said, "You'll know soon enough; you'll know it when you're frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide."
 25-26 The king of Israel had heard enough: "Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king's son with this message: 'King's orders! Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I'm back in one piece.'"
 27 Micaiah said,
    If you ever get back in one piece,
      I'm no prophet of God.

    He added,
    When it happens, O people,
      remember where you heard it!

 28-29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went ahead and attacked Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Wear my kingly robe; I'm going into battle disguised." So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise.
 30 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them), "Don't bother with anyone whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only."
 31-32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, "There he is! The king of Israel!" and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn't the king of Israel after all. God intervened and they let him go.
 33 Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor. The king told his charioteer, "Turn back! Get me out of here—I'm wounded."
 34 All day the fighting continued, hot and heavy. Propped up in his chariot, the king watched from the sidelines. He died that evening.

Romans 9:22-10:13 (The Message)

 20-33Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:

   I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
      I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.
   In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"
      they're calling you "God's living children."

   Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
   If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
      and the sum labeled "chosen of God,"
   They'd be numbers still, not names;
      salvation comes by personal selection.
   God doesn't count us; he calls us by name.
      Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
   If our powerful God
      had not provided us a legacy of living children,
   We would have ended up like ghost towns,
      like Sodom and Gomorrah.
How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

   Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
      a stone you can't get around.
   But the stone is me! If you're looking for me,
      you'll find me on the way, not in the way.

Romans 10

Israel Reduced to Religion
 1-3Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what's best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don't seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God's business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.  4-10The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story— no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?

   The word that saves is right here,
      as near as the tongue in your mouth,
      as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

 11-13Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."

Psalm 20:1-9 (The Message)

Psalm 20

A David Psalm
 1-4 God answer you on the day you crash, The name God-of-Jacob put you out of harm's reach,
   Send reinforcements from Holy Hill,
   Dispatch from Zion fresh supplies,
   Exclaim over your offerings,
   Celebrate your sacrifices,
   Give you what your heart desires,
   Accomplish your plans.

 5 When you win, we plan to raise the roof
      and lead the parade with our banners.
   May all your wishes come true!

 6 That clinches it—help's coming,
      an answer's on the way,
      everything's going to work out.

 7-8 See those people polishing their chariots,
      and those others grooming their horses?
      But we're making garlands for God our God.
   The chariots will rust,
      those horses pull up lame—
      and we'll be on our feet, standing tall.

 9 Make the king a winner, God;
      the day we call, give us your answer.


Proverbs 20:2-3 (The Message)

 2 Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs—
   cross them and they bite your head off.

 3 It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels,
   but fools love to pick fights.

Verse of the Day
“[The Great Faith of God's People]Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” - Hebrews 11:1
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
American comedian who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband and "straight man" George Burns, Gracie Allen wrote, “The masses demand a fighting President, and that means you've got to offend somebody, because the way I see it, a strong offense is the best attack. So what can you offend? That's an easy one. Offend the other candidates, because they'll be too busy talking to hear you, and besides, they might not vote for you anyway.”

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