Today our passages are Ezra 8:21–9:15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Psalm 31:1-8; and Proverbs 21:1-2. 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.
Ezra 8:21-9:15 (Contemporary English Version)
Ezra Asks the People To Go without Eating and To Pray21Beside the Ahava River, [a] I [b] asked the people to go without eating [c] and to pray. We humbled ourselves and asked God to bring us and our children safely to Jerusalem with all of our possessions. 22I was ashamed to ask the king to send soldiers and cavalry to protect us against enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king that our God takes care of everyone who truly worships him, but that he gets very angry and punishes anyone who refuses to obey. 23So we went without food and asked God himself to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
The Gifts for the Temple24I [d] chose twelve of the leading priests--Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their relatives. 25-27Then I weighed the gifts that had been given for God's temple, and I divided them among the twelve priests I had chosen. There were gifts of silver and gold, as well as the articles that the king, his advisors and officials, and the people of Israel had contributed. In all there were: 25 tons of silver; 100 silver articles weighing 150 pounds; 7,500 pounds of gold; 20 gold bowls weighing 270 ounces; and 2 polished bronze articles as valuable as gold. 28I said to the priests: You belong to the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and these things also belong to him. The silver and gold were willingly given as gifts to the LORD. 29Be sure to guard them and keep them safe until you reach Jerusalem. Then weigh them inside God's temple in the presence of the chief priests, the Levites, and the heads of the Israelite families.
30The priests and Levites then took charge of the gifts that had been weighed, so they could take them to the temple of our God in Jerusalem.
The Return to Jerusalem31On the twelfth day of the first month, [e] we left the Ahava River [f] and started for Jerusalem. Our God watched over us, and as we traveled along, he kept our enemies from ambushing us. 32After arriving in Jerusalem, we rested for three days. 33Then on the fourth day we went to God's temple, where the silver, the gold, and the other things were weighed and given to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah. With him were Eleazar son of Phinehas and the two Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. 34Everything was counted, weighed, and recorded. 35Those who had returned from exile offered sacrifices on the altar to the God of Israel. Twelve bulls were offered for all Israel. Ninety-six rams and seventy-seven [g] lambs were offered on the altar. And twelve goats were sacrificed for the sins of the people. 36Some of those who had returned took the king's orders to the governors and officials in Western Province. Then the officials did what they could for the people and for the temple of God.
Ezra Condemns Mixed Marriages1Later the Jewish leaders came to me [h] and said: Many Israelites, including priests and Levites, are living just like the people around them. They are even guilty of some of the horrible sins of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2Some Israelite men have married foreign women and have let their sons do the same thing. Our own officials and leaders were the first to commit this disgusting sin, and now God's holy people are mixed with foreigners.
3This news made me so angry that I ripped my clothes and tore hair from my head and beard. Then I just sat in shock 4until time for the evening sacrifice. Many of our people were greatly concerned and gathered around me, because the God of Israel had warned us to stay away from foreigners.
Ezra's Prayer5At the time of the evening sacrifice, I was still sitting there in sorrow with my clothes all torn. So I got down on my knees, then lifted my arms, 6and prayed: I am much too ashamed to face you, LORD God. Our sins and our guilt have swept over us like a flood that reaches up to the heavens. 7Since the time of our ancestors, all of us have sinned. That's why we, our kings, and our priests have often been defeated by other kings. They have killed some of us and made slaves of others; they have taken our possessions and made us ashamed, just as we are today.
8But for now, LORD God, you have shown great kindness to us. You made us truly happy by letting some of us settle in this sacred place and by helping us in our time of slavery. 9We are slaves, but you have never turned your back on us. You love us, and because of you, the kings of Persia have helped us. It's as though you have given us new life! You let us rebuild your temple and live safely in Judah and Jerusalem.
10Our God, what can we say now? Even after all this, we have disobeyed the commands 11that were given to us by your servants the prophets. They said the land you are giving us is full of sinful and wicked people, who never stop doing disgusting things. [i] 12And we were warned not to let our daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters. Your prophets also told us never to help those foreigners or even let them live in peace. You wanted us to become strong and to enjoy the good things in the land, then someday to leave it to our children forever.
13You punished us because of our terrible sins. But you did not punish us nearly as much as we deserve, and you have brought some of us back home. 14Why should we disobey your commands again by letting our sons and daughters marry these foreigners who do such disgusting things? That would make you angry enough to destroy us all! 15LORD God of Israel, you have been more than fair by letting a few of us survive. But once again, our sins have made us ashamed to face you.
- Ezra 8:21 River: See the note at 8.15.
- Ezra 8:21 I: See the note at 8.1.
- Ezra 8:21 to go without eating: The Jews often went without eating as a way of worshiping God. This is sometimes called "fasting."
- Ezra 8:24 I: See the note at 8.1.
- Ezra 8:31 first month: See the note at 6.19.
- Ezra 8:31 River: See the note at 8.15.
- Ezra 8:35 seventy-seven: Or "seventy-two."
- Ezra 9:1 me: Ezra.
- Ezra 9:11 doing disgusting things: Probably worshiping idols.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (Contemporary English Version)
1 Corinthians 5
Immoral Followers1I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother. [a] 2You are proud, when you ought to feel bad enough to chase away anyone who acts like that. 3-4I am with you only in my thoughts. But in the name of our Lord Jesus I have already judged this man, as though I were with you in person. So when you meet together and the power of the Lord Jesus is with you, I will be there too. 5You must then hand that man over to Satan. His body will be destroyed, but his spirit will be saved when the Lord Jesus returns. 6Stop being proud! Don't you know how a little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast! Then you will be like fresh bread made without yeast, and that is what you are. Our Passover lamb is Christ, who has already been sacrificed. 8So don't celebrate the festival by being evil and sinful, which is like serving bread made with yeast. Be pure and truthful and celebrate by using bread made without yeast.
9In my other letter [b] I told you not to have anything to do with immoral people. 10But I wasn't talking about the people of this world. You would have to leave this world to get away from everyone who is immoral or greedy or who cheats or worships idols. 11I was talking about your own people who are immoral or greedy or worship idols or curse others or get drunk or cheat. Don't even eat with them! 12Why should I judge outsiders? Aren't we supposed to judge only church members? 13God judges everyone else. The Scriptures say, "Chase away any of your own people who are evil."
Psalm 31:1-8 (Contemporary English Version)
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)
A Prayer for Protection1I come to you, LORD, for protection.
Don't let me be ashamed.
Do as you have promised
and rescue me.
2Listen to my prayer
and hurry to save me.
Be my mighty rock [a] and the fortress
where I am safe.
3You, LORD God,
are my mighty rock
and my fortress.
Lead me and guide me,
so that your name
will be honored.
4Protect me from hidden traps
and keep me safe.
5You are faithful,
and I trust you
because you rescued me.
6I hate the worshipers
of worthless idols,
but I trust you, LORD.
7I celebrate and shout
because you are kind.
You saw all my suffering,
and you cared for me.
8You kept me from the hands
of my enemies,
and you set me free.
- Psalm 31:2 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
Proverbs 21:1-2 (Contemporary English Version)
The LORD Is In Charge1The LORD controls rulers, just as he determines
the course of rivers.
2We may think we are doing
the right thing,
but the LORD always knows
what is in our hearts.
Verse of the Day
“Five sparrows are sold for just two pennies, but God doesn't forget a one of them. Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.” - Luke 12:6-7
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
Swiss clinical psychologist known for his pioneering work in child development, Jean Piaget wrote, “The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.”
The girl knelt in the confessional and said, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."
"What is it, child?"
"Father, I have committed the sin of vanity. Twice a day I gaze at myself in the mirror and tell myself how beautiful I am."
The priest turned, took a good look at the girl, and said, "My dear, I have good news. That isn't a sin - it's only a mistake."