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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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bible Readings for July 27, 2016

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

2 Chronicles 19

 1-3 But Jehoshaphat king of Judah got home safe and sound. Jehu, son of Hanani the seer, confronted King Jehoshaphat: "You have no business helping evil, cozying up to God-haters. Because you did this, God is good and angry with you. But you're not all bad—you made a clean sweep of the polluting sex-and-religion shrines; and you were single-minded in seeking God."  4 Jehoshaphat kept his residence in Jerusalem but made a regular round of visits among the people, from Beersheba in the south to Mount Ephraim in the north, urging them to return to God, the God of their ancestors.
 5-7 And he was diligent in appointing judges in the land—each of the fortress cities had its judge. He charged the judges: "This is serious work; do it carefully. You are not merely judging between men and women; these are God's judgments that you are passing on. Live in the fear of God—be most careful, for God hates dishonesty, partiality, and bribery."
 8-10 In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat also appointed Levites, priests, and family heads to decide on matters that had to do with worship and mediating local differences. He charged them: "Do your work in the fear of God; be dependable and honest in your duties. When a case comes before you involving any of your fellow citizens, whether it seems large (like murder) or small (like matters of interpretation of the law), you are responsible for warning them that they are dealing with God. Make that explicit, otherwise both you and they are going to be dealing with God's wrath. Do your work well or you'll end up being as guilty as they are.
 11 "Amariah the chief priest is in charge of all cases regarding the worship of God; Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the tribe of Judah, is in charge of all civil cases; the Levites will keep order in the courts. Be bold and diligent. And God be with you as you do your best."

2 Chronicles 20

 1-2 Some time later the Moabites and Ammonites, accompanied by Meunites, joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: "A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There's no time to waste—they're already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi."  3-4 Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. The country of Judah united in seeking God's help—they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God.
 5-9 Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard and said, "O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn't you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, saying, 'When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.'
 10-12 "And now it's happened: men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir have shown up. You didn't let Israel touch them when we got here at first—we detoured around them and didn't lay a hand on them. And now they've come to kick us out of the country you gave us. O dear God, won't you take care of them? We're helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don't know what to do; we're looking to you."
 13 Everyone in Judah was there—little children, wives, sons—all present and attentive to God.
 14-17 Then Jahaziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation. (Jahaziel was the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite of the Asaph clan.) He said, "Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat—God's word: Don't be afraid; don't pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God's war, not yours. Tomorrow you'll go after them; see, they're already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you'll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won't have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God's saving work for you take shape. Don't be afraid, don't waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you."
 18-19 Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!
 20 They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, "Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you'll come out on top!"
 21 After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing,
    Give thanks to God, His love never quits.

 22-23 As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed.
 24 As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—not a living soul among them.
 25-26 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that's how it got the name, Valley of Blessing).
 27-28 Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem—an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing.
 29-30 When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel's enemies, the fear of God descended on them. Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned.
 31-33 That about sums up Jehoshaphat's reign over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king and ruled as king in Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa—no detours, no dead-ends—pleasing God with his life. But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex-andreligion shrines—people continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous god shops.
 34 The rest of Jehoshaphat's life, from start to finish, is written in the memoirs of Jehu son of Hanani, which are included in the Royal Annals of Israel's Kings.
 35-37 Late in life Jehoshaphat formed a trading syndicate with Ahaziah king of Israel—which was very wrong of him to do. He went in as partner with him to build ocean-going ships at Ezion Geber to trade with Tarshish. Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah preached against Jehoshaphat's venture: "Because you joined forces with Ahaziah, God has shipwrecked your work." The ships were smashed and nothing ever came of the trade partnership.

Romans 10:14-11:12 (The Message)

 14-17But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims,

   A sight to take your breath away!
   Grand processions of people
      telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: "Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?" The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ's Word is preached, there's nothing to listen to.

 18-21But haven't there been plenty of opportunities for Israel to listen and understand what's going on? Plenty, I'd say.

   Preachers' voices have gone 'round the world,
   Their message to earth's seven seas.
So the big question is, Why didn't Israel understand that she had no corner on this message? Moses had it right when he predicted,

   When you see God reach out to those
      you consider your inferiors—outsiders!—
      you'll become insanely jealous.
   When you see God reach out to people
      you think are religiously stupid,
      you'll throw temper tantrums.
Isaiah dared to speak out these words of God:
   People found and welcomed me
      who never so much as looked for me.
   And I found and welcomed people
      who had never even asked about me.
Then he capped it with a damning indictment:
   Day after day after day,
      I beckoned Israel with open arms,
   And got nothing for my trouble
      but cold shoulders and icy stares.

Romans 11

The Loyal Minority
 1-2Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that he'll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly. Remember that I, the one writing these things, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham out of the tribe of Benjamin. You can't get much more Semitic than that! So we're not talking about repudiation. God has been too long involved with Israel, has too much invested, to simply wash his hands of them.  2-6Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer?

   God, they murdered your prophets,
   They trashed your altars;
   I'm the only one left and now they're after me!
And do you remember God's answer?
   I still have seven thousand who haven't quit,
   Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish.

   It's the same today. There's a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They're holding on, not because of what they think they're going to get out of it, but because they're convinced of God's grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.
 7-10And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn't succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The "self-interest Israel" became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this:

   Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways,
      God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears,
   Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors,
      and they're there to this day.
David was upset about the same thing:
   I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals,
      break a leg walking their self-serving ways.
   I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors,
      get ulcers from playing at god.

Pruning and Grafting Branches
 11-12The next question is, "Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?" And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God's kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!

Psalm 21:1-13 (The Message)

Psalm 21

A David Psalm
 1-7Your strength, God, is the king's strength. Helped, he's hollering Hosannas.
   You gave him exactly what he wanted;
      you didn't hold back.
   You filled his arms with gifts;
      you gave him a right royal welcome.
   He wanted a good life; you gave it to him,
      and then made it a long life as a bonus.
   You lifted him high and bright as a cumulus cloud,
      then dressed him in rainbow colors.
   You pile blessings on him;
      you make him glad when you smile.
   Is it any wonder the king loves God?
      that he's sticking with the Best?

 8-12 With a fistful of enemies in one hand
      and a fistful of haters in the other,
   You radiate with such brilliance
      that they cringe as before a furnace.
   Now the furnace swallows them whole,
      the fire eats them alive!
   You purge the earth of their progeny,
      you wipe the slate clean.
   All their evil schemes, the plots they cook up,
      have fizzled—every one.
   You sent them packing;
      they couldn't face you.

 13 Show your strength, God, so no one can miss it.
      We are out singing the good news!

Proverbs 20:4-6 (The Message)

 4 A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring
   has nothing to harvest in the fall.

 5 Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
   a wise person draws from the well within.

 6 Lots of people claim to be loyal and loving,
   but where on earth can you find one?

Verse of the Day
“[A Large Crowd of Witnesses]Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.” - Hebrews 12:1
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

F Scott Fitzgerald 1921.jpg
Thought for the Day
American novelist and short story writer, whose works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.”

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