July 21- 1 Corinthians 8, 1 Kings 22 and Amos 6

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Food Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8 In your letter you asked me about food offered to idols. All of us know something about this subject. But knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others. 2In fact, people who think they know so much don't know anything at all. 3But God has no doubts about who loves him.
4Even though food is offered to idols, we know that none of the idols in this world are alive. After all, there is only one God. 5Many things in heaven and on earth are called gods and lords, but none of them really are gods or lords. 6We have only one God, and he is the Father. He created everything, and we live for him. Jesus Christ is our only Lord. Everything was made by him, and by him life was given to us.
7Not everyone knows these things. In fact, many people have grown up with the belief that idols have life in them. So when they eat meat offered to idols, they are bothered by a weak conscience. 8But food doesn't bring us any closer to God. We are no worse off if we don't eat, and we are no better off if we do.
9Don't cause problems for someone with a weak conscience, just because you have the right to eat anything. 10You know all this, and so it doesn't bother you to eat in the temple of an idol. But suppose a person with a weak conscience sees you and decides to eat food that has been offered to idols. 11Then what you know has destroyed someone Christ died for. 12When you sin by hurting a follower with a weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13So if I hurt one of the Lord's followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live.

Micaiah Warns Ahab about Disaster
(2 Chronicles 18.2-27)

1 Kings 22 For the next three years there was peace between Israel and Syria. 2During the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to visit King Ahab of Israel.
3Ahab asked his officials, "Why haven't we tried to get Ramoth in Gilead back from the Syrians? It belongs to us." 4Then he asked Jehoshaphat, "Would you go to Ramoth with me and attack the Syrians?"
"Just tell me what to do," Jehoshaphat answered. "My army and horses are at your command. 5But first, let's ask the LORD."
6Ahab sent for about four hundred prophets and asked, "Should I attack the Syrians at Ramoth?"
"Yes!" the prophets answered. "The Lord will help you defeat them."
7But Jehoshaphat said, "Just to make sure, is there another of the LORD's prophets we can ask?"
8"We could ask Micaiah son of Imlah," Ahab said. "But I hate Micaiah. He always has bad news for me."
"Don't say that!" Jehoshaphat replied. 9Then Ahab sent someone to bring Micaiah as soon as possible.
10All this time, Ahab and Jehoshaphat were dressed in their royal robes and were seated on their thrones at the threshing place near the gate of Samaria. They were listening to the prophets tell them what the LORD had said.
11Zedekiah son of Chenaanah was one of the prophets. He had made some horns out of iron and shouted, "Ahab, the LORD says you will attack the Syrians like a bull with iron horns and wipe them out!"
12All the prophets agreed that Ahab should attack the Syrians at Ramoth, and they promised that the LORD would help him defeat them.
13Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah whispered, "Micaiah, all the prophets have good news for Ahab. Now go and say the same thing."
14"I'll say whatever the living LORD tells me to say," Micaiah replied.
15Then Micaiah went to Ahab, and Ahab asked, "Micaiah, should I attack the Syrians at Ramoth?"
"Yes!" Micaiah answered. "The LORD will help you defeat them."
16"Micaiah, I've told you over and over to tell me the truth!" Ahab shouted. "What does the LORD really say?"
17He answered, "In a vision I saw Israelite soldiers walking around in the hills like sheep without a shepherd to guide them. The LORD said, 'This army has no leader. They should go home and not fight.' "
18Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said, "I told you he would bring bad news!"
19Micaiah replied:

Listen to this! I also saw the LORD seated on his throne with every creature in heaven gathered around him. 20The LORD asked, "Who can trick Ahab and make him go to Ramoth where he will be killed?"

They talked about it for a while, 21then finally a spirit came forward and said to the LORD, "I can trick Ahab."

"How?" the LORD asked.

22"I'll make Ahab's prophets lie to him."

"Good!" the LORD replied. "Now go and do it."

23This is exactly what has happened, Ahab. The LORD made all your prophets lie to you, and he knows you will soon be destroyed.

24Zedekiah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him on the face. Then he asked, "Do you really think the LORD would speak to you and not to me?"
25Micaiah answered, "You'll find out on the day you have to hide in the back room of some house."
26Ahab shouted, "Arrest Micaiah! Take him to Prince Joash and Governor Amon of Samaria. 27Tell them to put him in prison and to give him nothing but bread and water until I come back safely."
28Micaiah said, "If you do come back, I was wrong about what the LORD wanted me to say." Then he told the crowd, "Don't forget what I said!"

Ahab Dies at Ramoth
(2 Chronicles 18.28-34)

29Ahab and Jehoshaphat led their armies to Ramoth in Gilead. 30Before they went into battle, Ahab said, "Jehoshaphat, I'll disguise myself, but you wear your royal robe." Then Ahab disguised himself and went into battle.
31The king of Syria had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders to attack only Ahab. 32So when they saw Jehoshaphat in his robe, they thought he was Ahab and started to attack him. But when Jehoshaphat shouted out to them, 33they realized he wasn't Ahab, and they left him alone.
34However, during the fighting a soldier shot an arrow without even aiming, and it hit Ahab where two pieces of his armor joined. He shouted to his chariot driver, "I've been hit! Get me out of here!"
35The fighting lasted all day, with Ahab propped up in his chariot so he could see the Syrian troops. He bled so much that the bottom of the chariot was covered with blood, and by evening he was dead.
36As the sun was going down, someone in Israel's army shouted to the others, "Retreat! Go back home!"
37Ahab's body was taken to Samaria and buried there. 38Some workers washed his chariot near a spring in Samaria, and prostitutes washed themselves in his blood. Dogs licked Ahab's blood off the ground, just as the LORD had warned.
39Everything else Ahab did while he was king, including the towns he strengthened and the palace he built and furnished with ivory, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel. 40Ahab died, and his son Ahaziah became king.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah
(2 Chronicles 20.31--21.1)

41Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in Ahab's fourth year as king of Israel. 42Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled from Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.
43-46Jehoshaphat obeyed the LORD, just as his father Asa had done, and during his rule he was at peace with the king of Israel.
He got rid of the rest of the prostitutes from the local shrines, but he did not destroy the shrines, and they were still used as places for offering sacrifices.
Everything else Jehoshaphat did while he was king, including his brave deeds and military victories, is written in The History of the Kings of Judah.
47The country of Edom had no king at the time, so a lower official ruled the land.
48Jehoshaphat had seagoing ships built to sail to Ophir for gold. But they were wrecked at Ezion-Geber and never sailed. 49Ahaziah son of Ahab offered to let his sailors go with Jehoshaphat's sailors, but Jehoshaphat refused.
50Jehoshaphat died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem, and his son Jehoram became king.

King Ahaziah of Israel

51Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat's rule in Judah, and he ruled two years from Samaria.
52Ahaziah disobeyed the LORD, just as his father, his mother, and Jeroboam had done. They all led Israel to sin. 53Ahaziah worshiped Baal and made the LORD God of Israel very angry, just as his father had done.

Israel Will Be Punished

Amos 6 Do you rulers in Jerusalem and in the city of Samaria
feel safe and at ease?
Everyone bows down to you, and you think you are better
than any other nation.
But you are in for trouble!
2Look what happened to the cities of Calneh,
powerful Hamath, and Gath in Philistia.
Are you greater than any of those kingdoms?
3You are cruel, and you forget the coming day of judgment.

4You rich people lounge around on beds with ivory posts,
while dining on the meat of your lambs and calves.
5You sing foolish songs to the music of harps,
and you make up new tunes, just as David used to do.
6You drink all the wine you want
and wear expensive perfume,
but you don't care about the ruin of your nation.
7So you will be the first to be dragged off as captives;
your good times will end.

8The LORD God All-Powerful has sworn by his own name:
"You descendants of Jacob make me angry by your pride,
and I hate your fortresses.
And so I will surrender your city and possessions
to your enemies."

9If only ten of you survive by hiding in a house
you will still die.
10As you carry out a corpse to prepare it for burial,
your relative in the house will ask, "Are there others?"
You will answer, "No!"
Then your relative will reply, "Be quiet!
Don't dare mention the name of the LORD."
11At the LORD's command, houses great and small
will be smashed to pieces.

12Horses can't gallop on rocks; oceans can't be plowed.
But you have turned justice and fairness
into bitter poison.
13You celebrate the defeat of Lo-Debar and Karnaim,
and you boast by saying, "We did it on our own."

14But the LORD God All-Powerful will send a nation
to attack you people of Israel.
They will capture Lebo-Hamath in the north,
Arabah Creek in the south, and everything in between.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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