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, August 2, 2016

Bible Readings for August 2, 2016

Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 32:1–33:13; Romans 15:23–16:7; Psalm 25:16-22; and Proverbs 20:16-18. 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 32-33:13 (The Message)

2 Chronicles 32

 1 And then, after this exemplary track record, this: Sennacherib king of Assyria came and attacked Judah. He put the fortified cities under siege, determined to take them.  2-4 When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib's strategy was to take Jerusalem, he talked to his advisors and military leaders about eliminating all the water supplies outside the city; they thought it was a good idea. There was a great turnout of people to plug the springs and tear down the aqueduct. They said, "Why should the kings of Assyria march in and be furnished with running water?"
 5-6 Hezekiah also went to work repairing every part of the city wall that was damaged, built defensive towers on it, built another wall of defense further out, and reinforced the defensive rampart (the Millo) of the old City of David. He also built up a large store of armaments—spears and shields. He then appointed military officers to be responsible for the people and got them all together at the public square in front of the city gate.
 6-8 Hezekiah rallied the people, saying, "Be strong! Take courage! Don't be intimidated by the king of Assyria and his troops—there are more on our side than on their side. He only has a bunch of mere men; we have our God to help us and fight for us!"
    Morale surged. Hezekiah's words put steel in their spines.
 9-15 Later on, Sennacherib, who had set up camp a few miles away at Lachish, sent messengers to Jerusalem, addressing Judah through Hezekiah: "A proclamation of Sennacherib king of Assyria: You poor people—do you think you're safe in that so-called fortress of Jerusalem? You're sitting ducks. Do you think Hezekiah will save you? Don't be stupid—Hezekiah has fed you a pack of lies. When he says, 'God will save us from the power of the king of Assyria,' he's lying—you're all going to end up dead. Wasn't it Hezekiah who cleared out all the neighborhood worship shrines and told you, 'There is only one legitimate place to worship'? Do you have any idea what I and my ancestors have done to all the countries around here? Has there been a single god anywhere strong enough to stand up against me? Can you name one god among all the nations that either I or my ancestors have ravaged that so much as lifted a finger against me? So what makes you think you'll make out any better with your god? Don't let Hezekiah fool you; don't let him get by with his barefaced lies; don't trust him. No god of any country or kingdom ever has been one bit of help against me or my ancestors—what kind of odds does that give your god?"
 16 The messengers felt free to throw in their personal comments, putting down both God and God's servant Hezekiah.
 17 Sennacherib continued to send letters insulting the God of Israel: "The gods of the nations were powerless to help their people; the god of Hezekiah is no better, probably worse."
 18-19 The messengers would come up to the wall of Jerusalem and shout up to the people standing on the wall, shouting their propaganda in Hebrew, trying to scare them into demoralized submission. They contemptuously lumped the God of Jerusalem in with the handmade gods of other peoples.
 20-21 King Hezekiah, joined by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz, responded by praying, calling up to heaven. God answered by sending an angel who wiped out everyone in the Assyrian camp, both warriors and officers. Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace, tail between his legs. When he went into the temple of his god, his own sons killed him.
 22-23 God saved Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem from Sennacherib king of Assyria and everyone else. And he continued to take good care of them. People streamed into Jerusalem bringing offerings for the worship of God and expensive presents to Hezekiah king of Judah. All the surrounding nations were impressed—Hezekiah's stock soared.

24 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. He prayed to God and was given a reassuring sign.

 25-26 But the sign, instead of making Hezekiah grateful, made him arrogant. This made God angry, and his anger spilled over on Judah and Jerusalem. But then Hezekiah, and Jerusalem with him, repented of his arrogance, and God withdrew his anger while Hezekiah lived.
 27-31 Hezekiah ended up very wealthy and much honored. He built treasuries for all his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and valuables, barns for the grain, new wine, and olive oil, stalls for his various breeds of cattle, and pens for his flocks. He founded royal cities for himself and built up huge stocks of sheep and cattle. God saw to it that he was extravagantly rich. Hezekiah was also responsible for diverting the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and rerouting the water to the west side of the City of David. Hezekiah succeeded in everything he did. But when the rulers of Babylon sent emissaries to find out about the sign from God that had taken place earlier, God left him on his own to see what he would do; he wanted to test his heart.

32-33 The rest of the history of Hezekiah and his life of loyal service, you can read for yourself—it's written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel. When Hezekiah died, they buried him in the upper part of the King David cemetery. Everyone in Judah and Jerusalem came to the funeral. He was buried in great honor.

    Manasseh his son was the next king.

2 Chronicles 33

King Manasseh
 1-6Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. In God's opinion he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. He rebuilt the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and the sex goddess Asherah and worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God's decree to God's Name ("in Jerusalem I place my Name"). He burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He practiced witchcraft and fortunetelling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil—in God's view a career in evil. And God was angry.  7-8 As a last straw he placed a carved image of the sex goddess Asherah that he had commissioned in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God's well-known command to both David and Solomon, "In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name—exclusively and forever." He had promised, "Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I've given to their ancestors. But on this condition, that they keep everything I've commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them."
 9-10 But Manasseh led Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem off the beaten path into practices of evil exceeding even the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed. When God spoke to Manasseh and his people about this, they ignored him.
 11-13 Then God directed the leaders of the troops of the king of Assyria to come after Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose, shackles on his feet, and took him off to Babylon. Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help—total repentance before the God of his ancestors. As he prayed, God was touched; God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king. That convinced Manasseh that God was in control.

Romans 15:23-16:7 (The Message)

 22-24And that's why it has taken me so long to finally get around to coming to you. But now that there is no more pioneering work to be done in these parts, and since I have looked forward to seeing you for many years, I'm planning my visit. I'm headed for Spain, and expect to stop off on the way to enjoy a good visit with you, and eventually have you send me off with God's blessing.
 25-29First, though, I'm going to Jerusalem to deliver a relief offering to the followers of Jesus there. The Greeks—all the way from the Macedonians in the north to the Achaians in the south—decided they wanted to take up a collection for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. They were happy to do this, but it was also their duty. Seeing that they got in on all the spiritual gifts that flowed out of the Jerusalem community so generously, it is only right that they do what they can to relieve their poverty. As soon as I have done this—personally handed over this "fruit basket"—I'm off to Spain, with a stopover with you in Rome. My hope is that my visit with you is going to be one of Christ's more extravagant blessings.
 30-33I have one request, dear friends: Pray for me. Pray strenuously with and for me—to God the Father, through the power of our Master Jesus, through the love of the Spirit—that I will be delivered from the lions' den of unbelievers in Judea. Pray also that my relief offering to the Jerusalem believers will be accepted in the spirit in which it is given. Then, God willing, I'll be on my way to you with a light and eager heart, looking forward to being refreshed by your company. God's peace be with all of you. Oh, yes!

Romans 16

 1-2Be sure to welcome our friend Phoebe in the way of the Master, with all the generous hospitality we Christians are famous for. I heartily endorse both her and her work. She's a key representative of the church at Cenchrea. Help her out in whatever she asks. She deserves anything you can do for her. She's helped many a person, including me.  3-5Say hello to Priscilla and Aquila, who have worked hand in hand with me in serving Jesus. They once put their lives on the line for me. And I'm not the only one grateful to them. All the non-Jewish gatherings of believers also owe them plenty, to say nothing of the church that meets in their house.
   Hello to my dear friend Epenetus. He was the very first follower of Jesus in the province of Asia.
 6Hello to Mary. What a worker she has turned out to be!
 7Hello to my cousins Andronicus and Junias. We once shared a jail cell. They were believers in Christ before I was. Both of them are outstanding leaders.

Psalm 25:16-22 (The Message)

 16 Look at me and help me!
   I'm all alone and in big trouble.

 17 My heart and kidneys are fighting each other;
   Call a truce to this civil war.

 18 Take a hard look at my life of hard labor,
   Then lift this ton of sin.

 19 Do you see how many people
   Have it in for me?
   How viciously they hate me?

 20 Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble;
   Don't let me down when I run to you.

 21 Use all your skill to put me together;
   I wait to see your finished product.

 22 God, give your people a break
   From this run of bad luck.

Proverbs 20:16-18 (The Message)

 16 Hold tight to collateral on any loan to a stranger;
   beware of accepting what a transient has pawned.

 17 Stolen bread tastes sweet,
   but soon your mouth is full of gravel.

 18 Form your purpose by asking for counsel,
   then carry it out using all the help you can get.

Verse of the Day
“Obey God's message! Don't fool yourselves by just listening to it.” - James 1:22
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
African-American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, James Baldwin wrote, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

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