2 Corinthians 3 (Listen)

Ministers of the New Covenant

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

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2 Chronicles 36 (Listen)

Judah's Decline

The people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and made him king in his father's place in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. Then the king of Egypt deposed him in Jerusalem and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. And the king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him to Egypt.

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried part of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his palace in Babylon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and the abominations that he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. 10 In the spring of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon, with the precious vessels of the house of the LORD, and made his brother Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.

11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD, the God of Israel. 14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the LORD that he had made holy in Jerusalem.

15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

Jerusalem Captured and Burned

17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

The Proclamation of Cyrus

22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.’”

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Proverbs 29 (Listen)

  He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
    will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
  When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
    but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
  He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
  By justice a king builds up the land,
    but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
  A man who flatters his neighbor
    spreads a net for his feet.
  An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
    but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
  A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
    a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
  Scoffers set a city aflame,
    but the wise turn away wrath.
  If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
    the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
10   Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless
    and seek the life of the upright.
11   A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
    but a wise man quietly holds it back.
12   If a ruler listens to falsehood,
    all his officials will be wicked.
13   The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
    the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.
14   If a king faithfully judges the poor,
    his throne will be established forever.
15   The rod and reproof give wisdom,
    but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
16   When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
    but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
17   Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
    he will give delight to your heart.
18   Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
    but blessed is he who keeps the law.
19   By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
    for though he understands, he will not respond.
20   Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21   Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
    will in the end find him his heir.
22   A man of wrath stirs up strife,
    and one given to anger causes much transgression.
23   One's pride will bring him low,
    but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
24   The partner of a thief hates his own life;
    he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.
25   The fear of man lays a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
26   Many seek the face of a ruler,
    but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.
27   An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
    but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

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Psalm 31 (Listen)

Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

  In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
  Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
  Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!
  For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
  you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
  Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
  I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
    but I trust in the LORD.
  I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
    because you have seen my affliction;
    you have known the distress of my soul,
  and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
    you have set my feet in a broad place.
  Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
10   For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
  my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.
11   Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
    especially to my neighbors,
  and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
    those who see me in the street flee from me.
12   I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
    I have become like a broken vessel.
13   For I hear the whispering of many—
    terror on every side!—
  as they scheme together against me,
    as they plot to take my life.
14   But I trust in you, O LORD;
    I say, “You are my God.”
15   My times are in your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16   Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your steadfast love!
17   O LORD, let me not be put to shame,
    for I call upon you;
  let the wicked be put to shame;
    let them go silently to Sheol.
18   Let the lying lips be mute,
    which speak insolently against the righteous
    in pride and contempt.
19   Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
  and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!
20   In the cover of your presence you hide them
    from the plots of men;
  you store them in your shelter
    from the strife of tongues.
21   Blessed be the LORD,
    for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
22   I had said in my alarm,
    “I am cut off from your sight.”
  But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to you for help.
23   Love the LORD, all you his saints!
    The LORD preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24   Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the LORD!

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