Praise the Lord!
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favour to your people;
help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory in your heritage.
Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.
Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wonderful works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
so that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry;
he led them through the deep as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe,
and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.
The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left.
Then they believed his words;
they sang his praise. But they soon forgot his works;
they did not wait for his counsel.
But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
and put God to the test in the desert;
he gave them what they asked,
but sent a wasting disease among them.
They were jealous of Moses in the camp,
and of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord.
The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
and covered the faction of Abiram.
Fire also broke out in their company;
the flame burned up the wicked.
They made a calf at Horeb
and worshiped a cast image.
They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God, their Saviour,
who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
They grumbled in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the Lord.
Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them
that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
and would disperse their descendants among the nations,
scattering them over the lands.
Then they attached themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
Then Phinehas stood up and interceded,
and the plague was stopped.
And that has been reckoned to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.
They angered the Lord at the waters of Meribah,
and it went ill with Moses on their account;
for they made his spirit bitter,
and he spoke words that were rash.
They did not destroy the peoples,
as the Lord commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and prostituted themselves in their doings.
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes,
and were brought low through their iniquity.
Nevertheless he regarded their distress
when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied
by all who held them captive.
Save us, O Lord our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
And let all the people say, “Amen.”
Praise the Lord!
On that day they read from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the Israelites with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.When the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.
Now before this, the priest Eliashib, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large room where they had previously put the grain-offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. While this was taking place I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon I went to the king. After some time I asked leave of the king and returned to Jerusalem. I then discovered the wrong that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah, preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the room. Then I gave orders and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back the vessels of the house of God, with the grain-offering and the frankincense.
I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them; so that the Levites and the singers, who had conducted the service, had gone back to their fields. So I remonstrated with the officials and said, ‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’ And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan son of Zaccur son of Mattaniah, for they were considered faithful; and their duty was to distribute to their associates. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.
2 Corinthians 1.15-2.4
Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favour; I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been ‘Yes and No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not ‘Yes and No’; but in him it is always ‘Yes.’ For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.
But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth. I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.
So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. For I wrote to you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
Almighty God, send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.