Weekly Spiritual Readings

January 23, 2015



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Sometimes when we get overwhelmed, we forget how big God is.  -- A.W. Tozer

When you magnify an object, you enlarge it so that you can understand it. When we magnify God, we do the same. We enlarge our awareness of Him so we can understand Him more. This is exactly what happens in the chapel of worship—we take our mind off ourselves and set it on God. The emphasis is on Him. -- Max Lucado

"Don't be afraid of tomorrow, for God has already been there."

God uses setbacks to move us forward.

God viewed His creation, and saw that it was good; we view our Creator, and see that He is great! --Sandy Hargrove

God does not stand afar off as I struggle to speak. He cares enough to listen with more than casual attention. He "translates" my scrubby words and hears what is truly inside. He hears my sighs. --Timothy Jones

God stands with us in times of temptation.

We can trust God's word to speak to us and guide us day by day.

Living on God's time sometimes means waiting.

Wherever life takes us, we can be sure that Christ will lead us home.

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Listening to God by
Marvin P. Nail
Where is there in our praying a time for us to listen to what our heavenly Father has to say? In our praying, like in our worship, we seem to feel that if we are not saying something or doing something we are getting nothing out of it.
We need to have some time in our day when we can be still and allow the quiet presence of God to surround us in such a way that even His slightest whisper will sound in the depths of our heart.

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Overwhelmed by Sally I. Kennedy
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
This year the Christmas and holiday decorations have been getting packed up a little later than usual. I heard somewhere that if you feel like there's a lot going on, it's probably because there's a lot going on. And that's how it felt this year after Christmas. Good stuff, just busy.
Found myself dragging my feet, and prayed and literally asked the Lord for an energy boost to get up and get going! The 'overwhelmed' feeling was weighing me down, spirit, soul, mind and body.
While flipping thoughts around in my head about this, it occurred to me that I might be 'stepping into the future.' Not in a weird way, just in anticipation and looking ahead on my calendar.
For sure, too much thinking and planning can absolutely get me feeling overwhelmed. One day at a time is the ticket. The bible says to not worry about the future, because each day has enough "troubles" of its own. (Matthew 6:34) So true.
Prayer for today: Lord, when I feel overwhelmed please help me to remember that You came to save us, restore us, AND carry our cares and concerns of all kinds. Thank you that You are always with me, go ahead of me, and will never leave me. In Jesus' name, amen.

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Getting Nowhere Fast? by Sheree Motola
"Meanwhile, Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there." (Ruth 4:4)
The town gate was the place in town where many legal transactions took place. Boaz wanted approval from the elders to marry Ruth, but he first had to clear any prior claims to her estate. Instead of running around, making things happen, Boaz went to the gate, sat and waited until the people he needed to speak with came by the gate. Boaz was secure in his purpose and knew he was in God's will so he trusted plans to unfold.
Are you rushing around trying to make things happen or are you waiting on God to lead the way? Relax, regroup, and let God lead the way.
PRAYER: Lord, let me learn to wait. Show me your plan for my life and give me the patience and the trust to let it unfold in Your way. Stop me from running around, trying to make things happen and let me rest in your peace. In Jesus' name. Amen

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Never Boring by Brenda Wood
Just when you think your life is made up of sheer survival, and it's boring and mundane, you find yourself designing and sewing a Perry the Platypus costume for a seven-year-old!
I hadn't even heard of Perry. I certainly didn't know what Perry looked like. "Never mind," said her parents. "You can google him."
Yes, I did make the costume, and if I do say so myself, it looked pretty terrific, and my granddaughter loved it, so I guess it was great! Wow! What a credit to have on my resume!
Doesn't God have the best ideas for shaking us out of our sad selves, our staid comfort zones? You've got to love His sense of humour!
Think of it: An Australian egg-laying water mammal with a snout shaped like a duck's bill and sporting webbed feet is now a popular television character. Imagine what God can do with us!
Psalm 30:5b – The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. (MSG)
Prayer: Lord, thank You for laughter, the icing on the cake of life. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.

 
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Lord, Prop Us Up on Our Leaning Side Author Unknown
Every time I am asked to pray, I think of the old fellow who always prayed, "Lord, prop us up on our leaning side." After hearing him pray that prayer many times, someone asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently.
He answered, "Well sir, you see, it’s like this... I got an old barn out back. It’s been there a long time. It’s withstood a lot of weather, it’s gone through a lot of storms, and it’s stood for many years. It’s still standing. But one day I noticed it was leaning to one side a bit. So I went and got some pine poles and propped it up on its leaning side so it wouldn’t fall.
Then I got to thinking about how much I was like that old barn. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve withstood a lot of life’s storms, and I’ve withstood a lot of bad weather in life, I’ve withstood a lot of hard times, and I’m still standing, too. But I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, so I like to ask the Lord to prop me up on my leaning side.
I figure a lot of us get to leaning at times. Sometimes we get to leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning toward cussing, leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t. So we need to pray, "Lord, prop us up on our leaning side, so we will stand straight and tall again to glorify You.”
We need You, Lord, to give us the strength to stand whenever we get out of balance. In those times, “Lord, prop us up on our leaning side.”
"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)


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From His Perspective Author Unknown
Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
I heard the story of an elderly minister who liked to visit people in hospitals. He often would take along a little, embroidered bookmark that he carried in his Bible. On the back of the bookmark was a group of tangled threads with no apparent pattern. He would hand this bookmark, with the back facing up, to those who were hurting or upset and say, "Look at that and tell me what it says." As they looked at all the tangled threads, they would say, "I have no idea what it says. It doesn't seem to say anything."
Then he said, "Now, turn it over." As they would flip that bookmark over, they saw the words "God is love." The minister would say, "Many times as we look at what God is doing, we just see tangled threads with no rhyme or reason. But from God's perspective, He is dealing with us in love, and He knows what He is doing."
The next time you think it's all over for you, just remember how things turned out for Joseph in the book of Genesis. Just remember how things turned out for Daniel — no doubt things looked pretty grim when he was in the den of lions. It looked hopeless as well for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Things looked pretty hopeless for Peter when he was in prison, awaiting execution. And things certainly looked bleak for Martha and Mary when their brother died.
You see, things can look bad at one moment, but then God will step in and turn events around. Then as time goes on, you will look back and say, "Now I understand what God was doing, Amen!"

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Why Worry? by William Hamblen
Our city of Brockville, Ontario, has lost a lot of well-paying jobs as industrial plants close or move elsewhere. It is a time of worry for many affected, but one of the workers said this to me: "Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives us something to do, but it doesn't get us anywhere." He went on to state that it is not work that kills us; it is worry!
Worry was prevalent during the time of Jesus. He knew that we would be faced with worry when He spoke at such length about this topic, especially as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 6:25a,26,30-31 – Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" (RSV)
Worry is a concern that we have had to deal with for centuries. Thomas Jefferson talks about the pain that worries cause — worries that never materialize. Mark Twain tells us to drag our worries away — by the ears, by the heels, or by any method possible. Corrie ten Boom says that worry doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength.
Yet I often find myself worrying about family and friends. Does it do any good? Does it help me or the people I am anxious about?
Jesus goes on to say: Matthew 6:33-34 – Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day. (RSV)
In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states that he believes that the more we pray, the less we will panic, and the more we worship, the less we will worry.
Is that true for us today?
If You Worry PRAY, If You PRAY Don't Worry
Prayer: O Lord, there seem to be so many things that we could worry about today. Is it possible that with Your assistance, we could trust You to take care of these things? Is it possible that You could help to alleviate the worries that possess some people? With Your aid, O Lord, guide us on Your path. Amen.

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Choose Peace A Word from Dr. Stanley
Have you ever been at sea during a storm? I have, and I don’t care to ever experience it again. As the winds raged, the ship was tossed around like a toy. The rain came down in sheets while flashes of lightning and peals of thunder filled the sky. However, just 100 feet below the surface, where the storm held no sway, all was absolutely calm and quiet.
That’s what Christ’s peace is like. It’s not an absence of conflict or trouble but a deep calmness in the midst of life’s circumstances. Shortly before Jesus’ death, He assured His disciples, saying, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He wasn’t saying all their circumstances would be tranquil and serene. On the contrary, they were about to experience tremendous trials, but Christ’s peace would strengthen and sustain them through it all.
Jesus offers us this same peace; however, we must choose it. We can either follow His command not to let our hearts be troubled, or we can continue in our anxiety and fear. Everyone experiences inner doubts, worry, and turmoil because of distressing situations, yet as believers, we don’t have to hang on to these feelings. Instead, we can choose to accept Christ’s offer.
If we are to experience life this way, there’s just one path: a personal relationship with the Lord. The more we trust and obey Him, the greater our peace will become. In John 14:1, after telling His disciples not to be troubled, Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” If we have faith that He loves us unconditionally, has control of every situation, and will work it out for our good, we'll have peace that surpasses all human understanding.
Can you lie down and sleep at night with a calm mind and heart? Do you wake in the morning free of anxiety? Do you have quiet confidence in the Lord no matter what difficulties or pain you experience? If your answer was “no” to any of these questions, I pray you will surrender every fear and anxiety into God’s hands today and let Him guard your heart with His peace.

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Small Straws In A Soft Wind by Marsha Burns
Release yourself from the stigma of past failures and disappointments. Refuse to see those things as being an embarrassment to you. But, think of all things--difficult or not--as opportunities to see spiritual reality, to learn valuable lessons, and to know Me better, says the Lord. Nothing is wasted in My Kingdom. Everything that you encounter serves a purpose. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Take a close look, and you will see the flaws that could thwart your plans. Incremental adjustments now will result in the changes necessary to achieve your goals, both spiritually and naturally. Do not be afraid to find your own errors. Error does not diminish your character, but gives a place for courage, humility, growth, and personal depth. Seek Me for wisdom in all things, says the Lord. Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

In your quest to find your people, those with whom you can feel connected, expect awkward moments. Transparency is not your first choice, but you must develop relationship with others through trust and compatible values. Your relationship with Me, says the Lord, is sacred and intimate. And, it must be protected from those who would desecrate what is holy for the sake of their own desire for attention. Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."

Regardless of what comes at you, I am with you to bring you through to clarity and victory. Be strong and resolute, and refuse to allow fear or panic to take you out of the flow of My Spirit. Take whatever time is necessary to quiet your thoughts and emotions, and then ask for wisdom about your next step, says the Lord. I will show you the way. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Many of you, My people, are trying to force your will in certain situations to bring about the change necessary to achieve your desires. But, you would do well to trust Me to bring about opportunities for change that will not only benefit you but those around you. Everything done through selfish ambition will result in unrighteousness, says the Lord. Allow Me to reveal the flow of My Spirit. Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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The Trumpet by Bill Burns
"Set the trumpet to your mouth!" Hosea 8:1
Get up! Get up and go! Move towards the finish line. This race will take you through the process of your destiny so that you will understand it in ways that you have not known before. Enjoy the victories along the way, and become a mighty warrior in this season. For, I have written victory over your name and it shall come to pass. If you will only believe, you cannot fail, says the Lord Most High.

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BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE by Helen Steiner Rice
We cannot all be famous or be listed in "WHO'S WHO,"
But every person great or small has important work to do,
For seldom do we realize the importance of small deeds
Or to what degree of greatness unnoticed kindness leads
For it's not the big celebrity in a world of fame and praise,
But it's doing unpretentiously in undistinguished ways
The work that God assigned to us, unimportant as it seems,
That makes our task outstanding and brings reality to dreams
So do not sit and idly wish for wider, new dimensions
Where you can put in practice your many "GOOD INTENTIONS"
But at the spot God placed you begin at once to do
Little things to brighten up the lives surrounding you,
For if everybody brightened up the spot in which they're standing
By being more considerate and a little less demanding,
This dark old world would very soon eclipse the "Evening Star"
If everybody BRIGHTENED UP THE CORNER WHERE THEY ARE!

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THIS MOMENT I may never see tomorrow, there's no written guarantee,
And things that happened yesterday belong to history,
I can not predict the future, I can not change the past,
I have just the present moment, I must treat it as my last,
I must use this moment wisely for it soon will pass away,
and be lost forever as part of yesterday,
I must exercise compassion, help the fallen to their feet,
Be a friend unto the friendless, make an empty life complete,
The unkind things I do today may never be undone,
And friendships that I fail to win may nevermore be won,
I may not have another chance on bended knees to pray,
and I thank God with a humble heart for giving me this Day.
Author Unknown


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Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Jesus said, "I do not call you servants any longer ... I have called you friends." John 15:15

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the
man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:24-31

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8

For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you."
Luke 11:33-36

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

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“The Ultimate Gift” by Norma Liles
There are many things in this world that attract us from the time when we are young until we mature and realize that it is the wishing not the obtaining that most fills our young minds.
As youngsters, we see another child with let's say a brightly painted rocking horse; but alas, our parents are raising a large family and finances are the least. My father fashioned a rocking horse that out shined the fancy one, and we kids and the grands used it faithfully. Whereas with time, the new would have rubbed off the purchased one, old rocky (as we called him) stood the test of time. He was not painted, but he was big, so big that four children could ride him to their heart's content. They were happy being able to do it all at the same time. It is the competitive spirit of us humans that causes desire for the prettiest or newest commodity. Where did we lose our vision?
We learn from experience that reaching for the brass ring is more fun than the winning. The winning takes away the desire to run the race if there isn't any drive behind the runner. When we run the race of life with a goal of determination, life becomes sweeter and more rewarding. Something earned is much more valuable than a gift that someone else has purchased.
The one best gift, the Gift of Life, which Jesus offers freely, is an exception. His blood given for us covers our sin and gives us eternal life when we put aside our way and put our faith in Him. We are blessed with God's love and realize that He is waiting patiently for us to return the love He so freely gives. Few things in this life are free, but He offers you the Ultimate, Free Eternal Life.
"God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him." (John 4:9)


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The Door Of Mercy By Dr. James R. Miller
"The tender mercy of our God." - Luke 1:78
What would we ever have done if God had not been merciful? There could never have been a soul saved in this world. There is a story of a man who dreams that he is out in an open field in a fierce driving storm. He is wildly seeking a refuge. He sees one gate, over which "Holiness" is written. There seems to be shelter inside, and he knocks. The door is opened by one in white garments; but none save the holy can be admitted, and he is not holy. So he hurries on to seek shelter elsewhere. He sees another gate, and tries that; but "Truth" is inscribed above it, and he is not fit to enter. He hastens to a third, which is the palace of Justice; but armed sentinels keep the door, and only the righteous can be received. At last, when he is almost in despair, he sees a light shining some distance away, and hastens toward it. The door stands wide open, and beautiful angels meet him with welcomes of joy. It is the house of Mercy, and he is taken in and finds refuge from the storm, and is hospitably entertained.
Not one of us can ever find a refuge at any door save the door of Mercy. But here the vilest sinner can find eternal shelter; and not mere cold shelter only, for God's mercy is "tender." We flee for refuge, and find it. Strong walls shut out all pursuing enemies, and cover us from all storms. Then, as we begin to rejoice in our security, we learn that we are inside a sweet home, and not merely a secure shelter. Our refuge is in the very heart of God; and no mother's bosom was ever so warm a nest for her own child as is the divine mercy for all who find refuge in it.
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty... He shall cover thee with his pinions, And under his wings shalt thou take refuge." - Psalm 91:1, 4

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Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not just to those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love. Amen

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Read Through The Bible
Nehemiah 11
The People Dwelling in Jerusalem
1 Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. 2 And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. 3 These are the heads of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities—Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon’s servants.) 4 Also in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin. The children of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, of the children of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Col-Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni. 6 All the sons of Perez who dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred and sixty-eight valiant men. 7 And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah; 8 and after him Gabbai and Sallai, nine hundred and twenty-eight. 9 Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer, and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city. 10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, and Jachin; 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the leader of the house of God. 12 Their brethren who did the work of the house were eight hundred and twenty-two; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, 13 and his brethren, heads of the fathers’ houses, were two hundred and forty-two; and Amashai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and their brethren, mighty men of valor, were one hundred and twenty-eight. Their overseer was Zabdiel the son of one of the great men. 15 Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the heads of the Levites, had the oversight of the business outside of the house of God; 17 Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving with prayer; Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred and eighty-four. 19 Moreover the gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren who kept the gates, were one hundred and seventy-two. 20 And the rest of Israel, of the priests and Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, everyone in his inheritance. 21 But the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel. And Ziha and Gishpa were over the Nethinim. 22 Also the overseer of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph, the singers in charge of the service of the house of God. 23 For it was the king’s command concerning them that a certain portion should be for the singers, a quota day by day. 24 Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was the king’s deputy in all matters concerning the people.
The People Dwelling Outside Jerusalem
25 And as for the villages with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt in Kirjath Arba and its villages, Dibon and its villages, Jekabzeel and its villages; 26 in Jeshua, Moladah, Beth Pelet, 27 Hazar Shual, and Beersheba and its villages; 28 in Ziklag and Meconah and its villages; 29 in En Rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages; in Lachish and its fields; in Azekah and its villages. They dwelt from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom. 31 Also the children of Benjamin from Geba dwelt in Michmash, Aija, and Bethel, and their villages; 32 in Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah; 33 in Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim; 34 in Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat; 35 in Lod, Ono, and the Valley of Craftsmen. 36 Some of the Judean divisions of Levites were in Benjamin.

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Lord, take me where You want me to go;
Let me meet who You want me to meet;
Tell me what You want me to say, and
Keep me out of Your way.
--Father Mychal F. Judge, OFM
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