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First Reading: 2 Chronicles Chapter 15 and 16
2 Chronicles 15
15:1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet
Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The
LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by
you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was
without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in
their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and
he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all
the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed
by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every
kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work
will be rewarded."
8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD's temple.
9 Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's reign. 11 At that time they sacrificed to the LORD seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. 12 They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul. 13 All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. 14 They took an oath to the LORD with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side.
16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed [to the LORD] all his life. 18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.
19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign.
2 Chronicles 16
16:1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign Baasha king of Israel went up
against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering
the territory of Asa king of Judah.
2 Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the LORD's temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 3 "Let there be a treaty between me and you," he said, "as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me."
4 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work. 6 Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah.
7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: "Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war."
10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.
11 The events of Asa's reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. 13 Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers. 14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honor.
Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 114 and 115
When Israel came out of Egypt,the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, 2 Judah became God's sanctuary,Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled,the Jordan turned back; 4 the mountains skipped like rams,the hills like lambs.
5 Why was it, O sea, that you fled,O Jordan, that you turned back, 6 you mountains, that you skipped like rams,you hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,at the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 who turned the rock into a pool,the hard rock into springs of water.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory,because of your love and faithfulness.
2 Why do the nations say,"Where is their God?" 3 Our God is in heaven;he does whatever pleases him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold,made by the hands of men. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,eyes, but they cannot see; 6 they have ears, but cannot hear,noses, but they cannot smell; 7 they have hands, but cannot feel,feet, but they cannot walk;nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them,and so will all who trust in them.
9 O house of Israel, trust in the LORD he is their help and shield. 10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD he is their help and shield. 11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD he is their help and shield.
12 The LORD remembers us and will bless us:He will bless the house of Israel,he will bless the house of Aaron, 13 he will bless those who fear the LORD small and great alike.
14 May the LORD make you increase,both you and your children. 15 May you be blessed by the LORD,the Maker of heaven and earth.
16 The highest heavens belong to the LORD,but the earth he has given to man. 17 It is not the dead who praise the LORD,those who go down to silence; 18 it is we who extol the LORD,both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
CRITICS OF THE BIBLE
Part 1 of 8
The Bible throughout its pages claims to be the word of God:
All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16 (NKJ)
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. II Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)
Either the Bible is as it claims--the word of God or it's claims are false. What can give us the assurance that the Bible is speaking truth?
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