Luke 11:14–28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28; Psalm 143; 2 Chronicles 13–16

Jesus and Beelzebul

14 yNow he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, He casts out demons zby Beelzebul, the prince of demons, 16 while others, ato test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 bBut he, cknowing their thoughts, said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, dby whom do eyour sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by fthe finger of God that I cast out demons, then gthe kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 hbut when one stronger than he attacks him and iovercomes him, he takes away his jarmor in which he trusted and kdivides his spoil. 23 lWhoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Return of an Unclean Spirit

24 mWhen the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through nwaterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, I will return to my house from which I came. 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And othe last state of that person is worse than the first.

True Blessedness

27 As he said these things, pa woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, qBlessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed! 28 But he said, rBlessed rather are those swho hear the word of God and tkeep it!


Final Instructions and Benediction

12 We ask you, brothers, mto respect those who labor among you and nare over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. oBe at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish pthe idle,1 qencourage the fainthearted, rhelp the weak, sbe patient with them all. 15 See that tno one repays anyone evil for evil, but always useek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 vRejoice always, 17 wpray without ceasing, 18 xgive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 yDo not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise zprophecies, 21 but atest everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may bthe God of peace himself csanctify you completely, and may your dwhole espirit and soul and body be kept blameless at fthe coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 gHe who calls you is faithful; hhe will surely do it.

25 iBrothers, pray for us.

26 jGreet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have kthis letter read to all the brothers.

28 lThe grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


My Soul Thirsts for You

A Psalm of David.

143  Hear my prayer, O Lord;

cgive ear to my pleas for mercy!

In your dfaithfulness answer me, in your drighteousness!

eEnter not into judgment with your servant,

for no one living is righteous fbefore you.

For the enemy has pursued my soul;

ghe has crushed my life to the ground;

hhe has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

Therefore my spirit ifaints within me;

my heart within me is appalled.

jI remember the days of old;

kI meditate on all that you have done;

I ponder the work of your hands.

lI stretch out my hands to you;

mmy soul thirsts for you like na parched land. Selah

oAnswer me quickly, O Lord!

pMy spirit fails!

qHide not your face from me,

rlest I be like those who go down to the pit.

sLet me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I ttrust.

uMake me know the way I should go,

vfor to you I lift up my soul.

wDeliver me from my enemies, O Lord!

I have fled to you for refuge.1

10  xTeach me to do your will,

for you are my God!

yLet your good Spirit zlead me

on alevel ground!

11  bFor your name’s sake, O Lord, cpreserve my life!

In your righteousness dbring my soul out of trouble!

12  And in your steadfast love you will ecut off my enemies,

and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,

for I am your fservant.


Abijah Reigns in Judah

13 zIn the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, yAbijah began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was aMicaiah1 the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.

bNow there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah went out to battle, having an army of valiant men of war, 400,000 chosen men. And Jeroboam cdrew up his line of battle against him with 800,000 chosen mighty warriors. Then Abijah stood up on Mount dZemaraim that is in ethe hill country of Ephraim and said, Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel! Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel fgave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by ga covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up hand rebelled against his lord, and certain iworthless scoundrels2 gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was jyoung and irresolute3 and could not withstand them.

And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you kthe golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods. lHave you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes mfor ordination4 with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are nnot gods. 10 But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. 11 They offer to the Lord oevery morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out pthe showbread on the table of pure gold, qand care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may rburn every evening. For we skeep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have forsaken him. 12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests twith their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, udo not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.

13 Jeroboam had sent van ambush around to come upon them from behind. Thus his troops5 were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. 14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. wAnd they cried to the Lord, and the priests tblew the trumpets. 15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, xGod defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, yand God gave them into their hand. 17 Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men. 18 Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, zbecause they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers. 19 And Abijah pursued Jeroboam aand took cities from him, Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and bEphron6 with its villages. 20 Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah. cAnd the Lord struck him down, dand he died. 21 But Abijah grew mighty. And he took fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22 The rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the estory of the prophet fIddo.

7

Asa Reigns in Judah

14 gAbijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land had rest for ten years. 8 And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars hand the high places and broke down ithe pillars and cut down the jAsherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah hthe high places and the kincense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. He built lfortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, mfor the Lord gave him peace. And he said to Judah, Let us build these cities and surround them with nwalls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God. We have sought him, mand he has given us peace on every side. So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army of o300,000 from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and 280,000 men from Benjamin that carried shields and drew bows. All these were mighty men of valor.

Zerah pthe Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as qMareshah. 10 And Asa went out to meet him, and rthey drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at qMareshah. 11 And Asa scried to the Lord his God, O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, tfor we rely on you, uand in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you. 12 vSo the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13 Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as wGerar, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the Lord and his army. The men of Judah9 carried away very much spoil. 14 And they attacked all the cities around wGerar, xfor the fear of the Lord was upon them. They plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. 15 And they struck down the tents of those who had livestock and carried away sheep in abundance and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

Asa’s Religious Reforms

15 yThe Spirit of God came10 upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: zThe Lord is with you while you are with him. aIf you seek him, he will be found by you, bbut if you forsake him, he will forsake you. cFor a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, dbut when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. In those times there was no peace eto him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. fBut you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, gfor your work shall be rewarded.

As soon as Asa heard these words, hthe prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from ithe cities that he had taken in jthe hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord kthat was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord.11 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, land those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 10 They were gathered at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 11 They sacrificed to the Lord on that day mfrom the spoil that they had brought 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep. 12 nAnd they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, 13 but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, oshould be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They swore an oath to the Lord with a loud voice and with shouting and with trumpets and with horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, pand the Lord gave them rest all around.

16 qEven Maacah, rhis mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image sfor Asherah. Asa cut down her image, tcrushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron. 17 uBut the high places were not taken out of Israel. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days. 18 And he brought into the house of God the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels. 19 And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.

Asa’s Last Years

16 vIn the wthirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, xthat he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king’s house and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, There is a covenant12 between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me. And Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the ystore cities of Naphtali. And when Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah and let his work cease. Then King Asa took all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them he built Geba and Mizpah.

At that time zHanani athe seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, bBecause you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not cthe Ethiopians and dthe Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet ebecause you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. fFor the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those gwhose heart is blameless13 toward him. hYou have done foolishly in this, for from now on iyou will have wars. 10 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him jin the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.

11 kThe acts of Asa, from first to last, are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. 13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a bier lthat had been filled with various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art, mand they made a very great fire in his honor.