Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 14:1–16:14; Romans 9:1-21; Psalm 19:1-14; and Proverbs 20:1. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Steet, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
2 Chronicles 14-16:14 (Contemporary English Version)
2 Chronicles 14
King Asa of Judah1Abijah died and was buried in Jerusalem. Then his son Asa became king, and Judah had ten years of peace. 2Asa obeyed the LORD his God and did right.
3He destroyed the local shrines [a] and the altars to foreign gods. He smashed the stone images of gods and cut down the sacred poles [b] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah.
4Then he told everyone in Judah to worship the LORD God, just as their ancestors had done, and to obey his laws and teachings.
5He destroyed every local shrine and incense altar in Judah.
6The LORD blessed Judah with peace while Asa was king, and so during that time, Asa fortified many of the towns.
7He said to the people, "Let's build walls and defense towers for these towns, and put in gates that can be locked with bars. This land still belongs to us, because we have obeyed the LORD our God. He has given us peace from all our enemies." The people did everything Asa had suggested.
8Asa had a large army of brave soldiers: Three hundred thousand of them were from the tribe of Judah and were armed with shields and spears; two hundred eighty thousand were from Benjamin and were armed with bows and arrows.
Judah Defeats Ethiopia's Army9Zerah from Ethiopia [c] led an army of a million soldiers and three hundred chariots to the town of Mareshah [d] in Judah. 10Asa met him there, and the two armies prepared for battle in Zephathah Valley.
LORD God, only you can help a powerless army defeat a stronger one. So we depend on you to help us. We will fight against this powerful army to honor your name, and we know that you won't be defeated. You are the LORD our God.
12The LORD helped Asa and his army defeat the Ethiopians. The enemy soldiers ran away,
13but Asa and his troops chased them as far as Gerar. It was a total defeat--the Ethiopians could not even fight back! [e] The soldiers from Judah took everything that had belonged to the Ethiopians.
14The people who lived in the villages around Gerar learned what had happened and were afraid of the LORD. So Judah's army easily defeated them and carried off everything of value that they wanted from these towns.
15They also attacked the camps where the shepherds lived and took a lot of sheep, goats, and camels. Then they went back to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 15
Asa Destroys the Idols in Judah1Some time later, God spoke to Azariah son of Oded. 2At once, Azariah went to Asa and said:
Listen to me, King Asa and you people of Judah and Benjamin. The LORD will be with you and help you, as long as you obey and worship him. But if you disobey him, he will desert you.
3For a long time, the people of Israel did not worship the true God or listen to priests who could teach them about God. They refused to obey God's Law.
4But whenever trouble came, Israel turned back to the LORD their God and worshiped him.
5There was so much confusion in those days that it wasn't safe to go anywhere in Israel.
6Nations were destroying each other, and cities were wiping out other cities, because God was causing trouble and unrest everywhere.
7So you must be brave. Don't give up! God will honor you for obeying him.
8As soon as Asa heard what Azariah the prophet said, he gave orders for all the idols in Judah and Benjamin to be destroyed, including those in the towns he had captured in the territory of Ephraim. He also repaired the LORD's altar that was in front of the temple porch.
9Asa called together the people from Judah and Benjamin, as well as the people from the territories of Ephraim, West Manasseh, and Simeon who were living in Judah. Many of these people were now loyal to Asa, because they had seen that the LORD was with him.
10In the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's rule, they all met in Jerusalem.
11That same day, they took seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats from what they had brought back from Gerar and sacrificed them as offerings to the LORD.
12They made a solemn promise to faithfully worship the LORD God their ancestors had worshiped,
13and to put to death anyone who refused to obey him.
14The crowd solemnly agreed to keep their promise to the LORD, then they celebrated by shouting and blowing trumpets and horns.
15Everyone was happy because they had made this solemn promise, and in return, the LORD blessed them with peace from all their enemies.
16Asa's grandmother Maacah had made a disgusting idol of the goddess Asherah, so he cut it down, crushed it, and burned it in Kidron Valley. Then he removed Maacah from her position as queen mother. [f]
17As long as Asa lived, he was faithful to the LORD, even though he did not destroy the local shrines [g] in Israel.
18He placed in the temple all the silver and gold objects that he and his father had dedicated to God.
19There was peace in Judah until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's rule.
2 Chronicles 16
King Baasha of Israel Invades Judah
(1 Kings 15.16-22)1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's rule, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and captured the town of Ramah. He started making the town stronger, and he put troops there to stop people from going in and out of Judah. 2When Asa heard about this, he took the silver and gold from his palace and from the LORD's temple. Then he sent it to Damascus with this message for King Benhadad of Syria:
3"I think we should sign a peace treaty, just as our fathers did. This silver and gold is a present for you. Would you please break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel and force him to leave my country?"
4Benhadad did what Asa asked and sent the Syrian army into Israel. They captured the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-Maim, [h] and all the towns in Naphtali where supplies were kept.
5When Baasha heard about it, he stopped his work on the town of Ramah.
6Asa ordered everyone in Judah to carry away the stones and wood Baasha had used to fortify Ramah. Then he fortified the towns of Geba and Mizpah with these same stones and wood.
Hanani the Prophet Condemns Asa7Soon after that happened, Hanani the prophet went to Asa and said: You depended on the king of Syria instead of depending on the LORD your God. And so, you will never defeat the Syrian army.
8Remember how powerful the Ethiopian [i] and Libyan army was, with all their chariots and cavalry troops! You trusted the LORD to help you then, and you defeated them.
9The LORD is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him. But you have done a foolish thing, and your kingdom will never be at peace again.
10When Asa heard this, he was so angry that he put Hanani in prison. Asa was also cruel to some of his people. [j]
(1 Kings 15.23,24)11Everything Asa did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12In the thirty-ninth year of his rule, he got a very bad foot disease, but he relied on doctors and refused to ask the LORD for help.
13He died two years later.
14Earlier, Asa had his own tomb cut out of a rock hill in Jerusalem. So he was buried there, and the tomb was filled with spices and sweet-smelling oils. Then the people built a bonfire in his honor.
- 2 Chronicles 14:3 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
- 2 Chronicles 14:3 sacred poles: Or "trees," used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
- 2 Chronicles 14:9 Ethiopia: See the note at 12.3.
- 2 Chronicles 14:9 Mareshah: About twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem.
- 2 Chronicles 14:13 the Ethiopians could not even fight back: Or "not one of the Ethiopians survived!"
- 2 Chronicles 15:16 queen mother: Or "the mother of the king," which was an important position in biblical times (see 1 Kings 2.19).
- 2 Chronicles 15:17 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
- 2 Chronicles 16:4 Abel-Maim: Also called "Abel-Bethmaacah" (see 1 Kings 15.20).
- 2 Chronicles 16:8 Ethiopian: See the note at 12.3.
- 2 Chronicles 16:10 Asa was also cruel. . . people: Or "Asa also started being cruel to some of his people."
Romans 9:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)
God's Choice of Israel1I am a follower of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is a witness to my conscience. So I tell the truth and I am not lying when I say 2my heart is broken and I am in great sorrow. 3I would gladly be placed under God's curse and be separated from Christ for the good of my own people. 4They are the descendants of Israel, and they are also God's chosen people. God showed them his glory. He made agreements with them and gave them his Law. The temple is theirs and so are the promises that God made to them. 5They have those famous ancestors, who were also the ancestors of Jesus Christ. I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever! [a] Amen. 6It cannot be said that God broke his promise. After all, not all of the people of Israel are the true people of God. 7-8In fact, when God made the promise to Abraham, he meant only Abraham's descendants by his son Isaac. God was talking only about Isaac when he promised 9Sarah, "At this time next year I will return, and you will already have a son." 10Don't forget what happened to the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. 11-12Even before they were born or had done anything good or bad, the Lord told Rebekah that her older son would serve the younger one. The Lord said this to show that he makes his own choices and that it wasn't because of anything either of them had done. 13That's why the Scriptures say that the Lord liked Jacob more than Esau.
14Are we saying that God is unfair? Certainly not! 15The Lord told Moses that he has pity and mercy on anyone he wants to. 16Everything then depends on God's mercy and not on what people want or do. 17In the Scriptures the Lord says to Pharaoh of Egypt, "I let you become Pharaoh, so that I could show you my power and be praised by all people on earth." 18Everything depends on what God decides to do, and he can either have pity on people or make them stubborn.
God's Anger and Mercy19Someone may ask, "How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?" 20But, my friend, I ask, "Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did? 21Doesn't a potter have the right to make a fancy bowl and a plain bowl out of the same lump of clay?"
- Romans 9:5 Christ. I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever: Or " Christ, who rules over all. I pray that God will be praised forever" or " Christ. And I pray that Christ, who is God and rules over all, will be praised forever."
Psalm 19:1-14 (Contemporary English Version)
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)
The Wonders of God and the Goodness of His Law1The heavens keep telling the wonders of God,
and the skies declare
what he has done.
2Each day informs
the following day;
each night announces
to the next.
3They don't speak a word,
and there is never
the sound of a voice.
4Yet their message reaches
all the earth,
and it travels
around the world.
In the heavens a tent
is set up for the sun.
5It rises like a bridegroom
and gets ready like a hero
eager to run a race.
6It travels all the way
across the sky.
Nothing hides from its heat.
7The Law of the LORD is perfect;
it gives us new life.
His teachings last forever,
and they give wisdom
to ordinary people.
8The LORD's instruction is right;
it makes our hearts glad.
His commands shine brightly,
and they give us light.
9Worshiping the LORD is sacred;
he will always be worshiped.
All of his decisions
are correct and fair.
10They are worth more
than the finest gold
and are sweeter than honey
from a honeycomb.
11By your teachings, Lord,
I am warned;
by obeying them,
I am greatly rewarded.
12None of us know our faults.
Forgive me when I sin
without knowing it.
13Don't let me do wrong
on purpose, Lord,
or let sin have control
over my life.
Then I will be innocent,
and not guilty
of some terrible fault.
14Let my words and my thoughts
be pleasing to you, LORD,
because you are my mighty rock [a] and my protector.
- Psalm 19:14 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
Proverbs 20:1 (Contemporary English Version)
American writer on social and political philosophy, Eric Hoffer wrote, "The only index by which to judge a government or a way of life is by the quality of the people it acts upon. No matter how noble the objectives of a government, if it blurs decency and kindness, cheapens human life, and breeds ill will and suspicion — it is an evil government."
There were three men playing a round of golf, Moses, Jesus, and an old man. They get to the 18th hole and Moses gets to tee-off first; he hits his ball into the water. Next up is Jesus, and he does the same as Moses, hits it right into the water. Next up is the old man and he hits it right into the water with Moses and Jesus.
All three approach the edge of the pond. Moses walks up a little closer, throws his arms high nto the air and the water of the pond begins to part down the middle. He walks down to his ball, hits it out of the pond and into the hole.
Next up,Jesus. He walks out onto the water and his ball floats up to the surface, so he hits his ball off of the water into the hole. The old man decides he will try something cool so he walks into the water and hits his ball, which flies out of the water, hits a bird,bounces off a tree, then gets deflected off the pin and hits a rabbit then bounces into the hole. Moses turns to Jesus and says," I hate it when your father plays!"