2 Corinthians 12 (Listen)

Paul's Visions and His Thorn

I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Concern for the Corinthian Church

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

(ESV)

Ezra 9 (Listen)

Ezra Prays About Intermarriage

After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying:

“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.

10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O LORD, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”

(ESV)

Proverbs 10 (Listen)

The Proverbs of Solomon

The proverbs of Solomon.

  A wise son makes a glad father,
    but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.
  Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
    but righteousness delivers from death.
  The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry,
    but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
  A slack hand causes poverty,
    but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
  He who gathers in summer is a prudent son,
    but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
  Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
  The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
    but the name of the wicked will rot.
  The wise of heart will receive commandments,
    but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
  Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
    but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
10   Whoever winks the eye causes trouble,
    and a babbling fool will come to ruin.
11   The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12   Hatred stirs up strife,
    but love covers all offenses.
13   On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found,
    but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.
14   The wise lay up knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.
15   A rich man's wealth is his strong city;
    the poverty of the poor is their ruin.
16   The wage of the righteous leads to life,
    the gain of the wicked to sin.
17   Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
    but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.
18   The one who conceals hatred has lying lips,
    and whoever utters slander is a fool.
19   When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
20   The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
    the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
21   The lips of the righteous feed many,
    but fools die for lack of sense.
22   The blessing of the LORD makes rich,
    and he adds no sorrow with it.
23   Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool,
    but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.
24   What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
    but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
25   When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
    but the righteous is established forever.
26   Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
    so is the sluggard to those who send him.
27   The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
    but the years of the wicked will be short.
28   The hope of the righteous brings joy,
    but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
29   The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless,
    but destruction to evildoers.
30   The righteous will never be removed,
    but the wicked will not dwell in the land.
31   The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
    but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
32   The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
    but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.

(ESV)

Psalm 42 (Listen)

Book Two

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

  As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
  My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
  When shall I come and appear before God?
  My tears have been my food
    day and night,
  while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
  These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
  how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
  with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.
  Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.
  My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
  from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
  Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
  all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
  By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
  I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
  Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10   As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
  while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
11   Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

(ESV)