September 20 - John 20.1-18, 2 Chronicles 31 and Psalm 87

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Jesus Is Alive
(Matthew 28.1-10; Mark 16.1-8; Luke 24.1-12)

John 20 On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus' favorite disciple and said, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don't know where they have put him."
3Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first. 5He bent over and saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in.
6When Simon Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth. 7He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus' face. It was rolled up and in a place by itself. 8The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. 9At that time Peter and the other disciple did not know that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise to life. 10So the two of them went back to the other disciples.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
(Mark 16.9-11)

11Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping, when she stooped down 12and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus' body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. 13The angels asked Mary, "Why are you crying?"
She answered, "They have taken away my Lord's body! I don't know where they have put him."
14As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. 15Jesus asked her, "Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?"
She thought he was the gardener and said, "Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him."
16Then Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to him, "Rabboni." The Aramaic word "Rabboni" means "Teacher."
17Jesus told her, "Don't hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God." 18Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She also told them what he had said to her.

The People Destroy the Local Shrines
(2 Kings 18.4)

2 Chronicles 31 After the Festival, the people went to every town in Judah and smashed the stone images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred poles for worshiping the goddess Asherah. They destroyed all the local shrines and foreign altars in Judah, as well as those in the territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, and West Manasseh. Then everyone went home.

Offerings for the Priests and Levites

2Hezekiah divided the priests and Levites into groups, according to their duties. Then he assigned them the responsibilities of offering sacrifices to please the LORD and sacrifices to ask his blessing. He also appointed people to serve at the temple and to sing praises at the temple gates. 3Hezekiah provided animals from his own herds and flocks to use for the morning and evening sacrifices, as well as for the sacrifices during the Sabbath celebrations, the New Moon Festivals, and the other religious feasts required by the Law of the LORD.
4He told the people of Jerusalem to bring the offerings that were to be given to the priests and Levites, so that they would have time to serve the LORD with their work. 5As soon as the people heard what the king wanted, they brought a tenth of everything they owned, including their best grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and other crops. 6The people from the other towns of Judah brought a tenth of their herds and flocks, as well as a tenth of anything they had dedicated to the LORD. 7The people started bringing their offerings to Jerusalem in the third month, and the last ones arrived four months later. 8When Hezekiah and his officials saw these offerings, they thanked the LORD and the people.
9Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the large amount of offerings. 10The high priest at the time was Azariah, a descendant of Zadok, and he replied, "Ever since the people have been bringing us their offerings, we have had more than enough food and supplies. The LORD has certainly blessed his people. Look at how much is left over!"
11So the king gave orders for storerooms to be built in the temple, and when they were completed, 12-13all the extra offerings were taken there. Hezekiah and Azariah then appointed Conaniah the Levite to be in charge of these storerooms. His brother Shimei was his assistant, and the following Levites worked with them: Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. 14Kore son of Imnah was assigned to guard the East Gate, and he was put in charge of receiving the offerings voluntarily given to God and of dividing them among the priests and Levites. 15-16He had six assistants who were responsible for seeing that all the priests in the other towns of Judah also got their share of these offerings. They were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah.
Every priest and every Levite over thirty years old who worked daily in the temple received part of these offerings, according to their duties. 17The priests were listed in the official records by clans, and the Levites twenty years old and older were listed by their duties. 18The official records also included their wives and children, because they had also been faithful in keeping themselves clean and acceptable to serve the LORD.
19Hezekiah also appointed other men to take food and supplies to the priests and Levites whose homes were in the pastureland around the towns of Judah. But the priests had to be descendants of Aaron, and the Levites had to be listed in the official records.
20-21Everything Hezekiah did while he was king of Judah, including what he did for the temple in Jerusalem, was right and good. He was a successful king, because he obeyed the LORD God with all his heart.

Psalm 87
[A psalm and a song by the people of Korah.]
The Glory of Mount Zion

1Zion was built by the LORD on the holy mountain,
2and he loves that city
more than any other place in all of Israel.
3Zion, you are the city of God,
and wonderful things are told about you.

4Egypt, Babylonia, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Ethiopia
are some of those nations that know you,
and their people all say, "I was born in Zion."

5God Most High will strengthen the city of Zion.
Then everyone will say, "We were born here too."
6The LORD will make a list of his people,
and all who were born here will be included.

7All who sing or dance will say, "I too am from Zion."

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

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