12Blessèd is the man whom you discipline, | O LORD,*
and whom you teach out | of your law,
13to give him rest from days of | trouble,*
until a pit is dug for the | wicked.
14For the LORD will not forsake his | people;*
he will not abandon his | heritage;
15for justice will return to the | righteous,*
and all the upright in heart will | follow it.
Additional Psalm: Psalm 94
Old Testament Reading:
2 Chronicles 31:1–21
Hezekiah Organizes the Priests
1Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and broke down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, and in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the people of Israel returned to their cities, every man to his possession.
2And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, division by division, each according to his service, the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and peace offerings, to minister in the gates of the camp of the LORD and to give thanks and praise. 3The contribution of the king from his own possessions was for the burnt offerings: the burnt offerings of morning and evening, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the appointed feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD. 4And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the LORD. 5As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. 6And the people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of the dedicated things that had been dedicated to the LORD their God, and laid them in heaps. 7In the third month they began to pile up the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and his people Israel. 9And Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps. 10Azariah the chief priest, who was of the house of Zadok, answered him, “Since they began to bring the contributions into the house of the LORD, we have eaten and had enough and have plenty left, for the LORD has blessed his people, so that we have this large amount left.”
11Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD, and they prepared them. 12And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second, 13while Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers assisting Conaniah and Shimei his brother, by the appointment of Hezekiah the king and Azariah the chief officer of the house of God. 14And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the east gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to apportion the contribution reserved for the LORD and the most holy offerings. 15Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah were faithfully assisting him in the cities of the priests, to distribute the portions to their brothers, old and young alike, by divisions, 16except those enrolled by genealogy, males from three years old and upward—all who entered the house of the LORD as the duty of each day required—for their service according to their offices, by their divisions. 17The enrollment of the priests was according to their fathers’ houses; that of the Levites from twenty years old and upward was according to their offices, by their divisions. 18They were enrolled with all their little children, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, the whole assembly, for they were faithful in keeping themselves holy. 19And for the sons of Aaron, the priests, who were in the fields of common land belonging to their cities, there were men in the several cities who were designated by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to everyone among the Levites who was enrolled.
20Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 21And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.
New Testament Reading:
1Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer
2I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—Practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
14Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
“Be cognizant, for the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31).
These words can refer either to the kingdom of God that we call the “advent of the Son,” for whose nativity we should be preparing just now, or to the kingdom of God we say is “paradise.” Either interpretation is truly and strictly acceptable, for the kingdom of glory is near to the servants of God, and the kingdom of grace, the advent of Christ, is already among them (Luke 17:21) and day by day grows and multiplies in His own servants.
Thus, whichever way we interpret “kingdom of God,” we can say that this kingdom is a place or a reality of supreme majesty and therefore seeks out those of noble and reverential desires, for we read: “Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land” (Psalm 85:9). This kingdom has supreme clarity and therefore is among men of outstanding contemplation and meditation, inasmuch as “You are near, O Lord, and all Your ways are truth” (Psalm 119:151). This kingdom is incomparably charming and gentle, so that those who are near it, who have been created anew and anointed from heaven, exclaim: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4–5). The kingdom is, lastly, supremely holy and therefore encourages believers to be in regular conversation with God, for “the Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
Only Jesus can impart
Balm to heal the wounded heart,
Peace that flows from sin forgiv’n,
Joy that lifts the soul to heav’n,
Faith and hope to walk with God
In the way that Enoch trod.
—Chief of Sinners Though I Be
Prayer of the Day
O God, You have prepared for those who love You good things that surpass all understanding. Pour into our hearts such love toward You that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (H65)
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession VII–VIII (IV) 36–50