Read the Bible in a Year

Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year. This is part of The Colossians 13:16 Project, sponsored by Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia. You're invited to worship with us Sundays, at 11:00 a.m. or Saturdays, at 6:30 p.m. You may also want to consider joining one our adult Bible Studies: Thursdays at 12:00 noon and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We also have a full range of programs for children. If you want more information about the church, check out the other blogs. And please feel free to leave any comments.

The Bible in a Year is a ministry of Cove Presbyterian Church. We need your support to keep posting. If you find it helpful, you can support this blog by your contributions. They may be sent to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, WV 26062. You can also use the PayPal link below:

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bible Readings for December 31, 2011

Today our passages are Malachi 3:1–4:6; Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6; and Proverbs 31:25-31. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Malachi 3-4:6 (Contemporary English Version)

Malachi 3

The Promised Messenger

1I, the LORD All-Powerful,
will send my messenger
to prepare the way for me.
Then suddenly the Lord
you are looking for
will appear in his temple.
The messenger you desire
is coming with my promise,
and he is on his way.

A Day of Change

2On the day the Lord comes, he will be like a furnace that purifies silver or like strong soap in a washbasin. No one will be able to stand up to him. 3The LORD will purify the descendants of Levi, [a] as though they were gold or silver. Then they will bring the proper offerings to the LORD, 4and the offerings of the people of Judah and Jerusalem will please him, just as they did in the past.

Don't Cheat God

5The LORD All-Powerful said:

I'm now on my way to judge you. And I will quickly condemn all who practice witchcraft or cheat in marriage or tell lies in court or rob workers of their pay or mistreat widows and orphans or steal the property of foreigners or refuse to respect me.

6Descendants of Jacob, I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I never change. That's why you haven't been wiped out, 7even though you have ignored and disobeyed my laws ever since the time of your ancestors. But if you return to me, I will return to you.

And yet you ask, "How can we return?"

8You people are robbing me, your God. And, here you are, asking, "How are we robbing you?"

You are robbing me of the offerings and of the ten percent that belongs to me. [b] 9That's why your whole nation is under a curse. 10I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing. [c] 11I will also stop locusts [d] from destroying your crops and keeping your vineyards from producing. 12Everyone of every nation will talk about how I have blessed you and about your wonderful land. I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken! 13You have said horrible things about me, and yet you ask, "What have we said?"

14Here is what you have said: "It's foolish to serve the LORD God All-Powerful. What do we get for obeying him and from going around looking sad? 15See how happy those arrogant people are. Everyone who does wrong is successful, and when they put God to the test, they always get away with it."

Faithfulness Is Rewarded

16All those who truly respected the LORD and honored his name started discussing these things, and when God saw what was happening, he had their names [e] written as a reminder in his book. 17Then the LORD All-Powerful said:

You people are precious to me, and when I come to bring justice, I will protect you, just as parents protect an obedient child. 18Then everyone will once again see the difference between those who obey me by doing right and those who reject me by doing wrong.

Malachi 4

The Day of Judgment

The LORD said:

1The day of judgment is certain to come. And it will be like a red-hot furnace with flames that burn up proud and sinful people, as though they were straw. Not a branch or a root will be left. I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken! 2But for you that honor my name, victory will shine like the sun with healing in its rays, and you will jump around like calves at play. 3When I come to bring justice, you will trample those who are evil, as though they were ashes under your feet. I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken!

4Don't ever forget the laws and teachings I gave my servant Moses on Mount Sinai. [f] 5I, the LORD, promise to send the prophet Elijah before that great and terrible day comes. 6He will lead children and parents to love each other more, so that when I come, I won't bring doom to the land.

Malachi 3:3 descendants of Levi: The priests.
Malachi 3:8 the ten percent. . . to me: The people of Israel were supposed to give a tenth of their harvests and of their flocks and herds to the LORD (see Leviticus 27.30-33; Deuteronomy 14.22-29).
Malachi 3:10 open the windows. . . blessing: This may refer to rain, since there seems to have been a terrible drought at this time.
Malachi 3:11 locusts: A kind of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.
Malachi 3:16 names: Or "deeds."
Malachi 4:4 Sinai: Hebrew "Horeb."

Revelation 22:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 22

1The angel showed me a river that was crystal clear, and its waters gave life. The river came from the throne where God and the Lamb were seated. 2Then it flowed down the middle of the city's main street. On each side of the river are trees [a] that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. The fruit gives life, and the leaves are used as medicine to heal the nations. 3God's curse will no longer be on the people of that city. He and the Lamb will be seated there on their thrones, and its people will worship God 4and will see him face to face. God's name will be written on the foreheads of the people. 5Never again will night appear, and no one who lives there will ever need a lamp or the sun. The Lord God will be their light, and they will rule forever.

The Coming of Christ

6Then I was told:

These words are true and can be trusted. The Lord God controls the spirits of his prophets, and he is the one who sent his angel to show his servants what must happen right away. 7Remember, I am coming soon! God will bless everyone who pays attention to the message of this book.

8My name is John, and I am the one who heard and saw these things. Then after I had heard and seen all this, I knelt down and began to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown it to me.
9But the angel said,

Don't do that! I am a servant, just like you. I am the same as a follower or a prophet or anyone else who obeys what is written in this book. God is the one you should worship.

10Don't keep the prophecies in this book a secret. These things will happen soon.

11Evil people will keep on being evil, and everyone who is dirty-minded will still be dirty-minded. But good people will keep on doing right, and God's people will always be holy.

12Then I was told:

I am coming soon! And when I come, I will reward everyone for what they have done. 13I am Alpha and Omega, [b] the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 14God will bless all who have washed their robes. They will each have the right to eat fruit from the tree that gives life, and they can enter the gates of the city. 15But outside the city will be dogs, witches, immoral people, murderers, idol worshipers, and everyone who loves to tell lies and do wrong.

16I am Jesus! And I am the one who sent my angel to tell all of you these things for the churches. I am David's Great Descendant, [c] and I am also the bright morning star. [d] 17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"

Everyone who hears this [e] should say, "Come!" If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It's free!

18Here is my warning for everyone who hears the prophecies in this book:

If you add anything to them, God will make you suffer all the terrible troubles written in this book. 19If you take anything away from these prophecies, God will not let you have part in the life-giving tree and in the holy city described in this book.

20The one who has spoken these things says, "I am coming soon!"

So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!

21I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you.

Revelation 22:2 trees: The Greek has "tree," which is used in a collective sense of trees on both sides of the heavenly river.
Revelation 22:13 Alpha and Omega: See the note at 1.8.
Revelation 22:16 David's Great Descendant: See the note at 5.5.
Revelation 22:16 the bright morning star: Probably thought of as the brightest star (see 2.27,28).
Revelation 22:17 who hears this: The reading of the book of Revelation in a service of worship.

Psalm 150:1-6 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 150

The LORD Is Good to His People

1Shout praises to the LORD!
Praise God in his temple.
Praise him in heaven,
his mighty fortress.
2Praise our God!
His deeds are wonderful,
too marvelous to describe.
3Praise God with trumpets
and all kinds of harps.
4Praise him with tambourines
and dancing,
with stringed instruments
and woodwinds.
5Praise God with cymbals,
with clashing cymbals.
6Let every living creature
praise the LORD.
Shout praises to the LORD!

Proverbs 31:25-31 (Contemporary English Version)

25She is strong and graceful, [a]
as well as cheerful
about the future.
26Her words are sensible,
and her advice
is thoughtful.
27She takes good care
of her family
and is never lazy.
28Her children praise her,
and with great pride
her husband says,
29"There are many good women,
but you are the best!"
30Charm can be deceiving,
and beauty fades away,
but a woman
who honors the LORD
deserves to be praised.
31Show her respect--
praise her in public
for what she has done.

Proverbs 31:25 She. . . graceful: Or " The clothes she makes are attractive and of good quality."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bible Readings for December 30, 2011

Today our passages are Malachi 1:1–2:17; Revelation 21:1-27; Psalm 149:1-9; and Proverbs 31:10-24. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Malachi 1-2:17 (Contemporary English Version)

Malachi 1

1I am Malachi. And this is the message that the LORD gave me for Israel.

The LORD's Love for Israel

2Israel, I, the LORD, have loved you. And yet you ask in what way have I loved you. Don't forget that Esau was the brother of your ancestor Jacob, but I chose Jacob 3instead of Esau. And I turned Esau's hill country into a barren desert where jackals [a] roam. 4Esau's descendants may say, "Although our nation Edom is in ruins, we will rebuild." But I, the LORD All-Powerful, promise to tear down whatever they build. Then everyone will know that I will never stop being angry with them as long as they are so sinful.

5Israel, when you see this, you will shout, "The LORD's great reputation reaches beyond our borders."

Judgment against Priests

6I, the LORD All-Powerful, have something to say to you priests. Children respect their fathers, and servants respect their masters. I am your father and your master, so why don't you respect me? You priests have insulted me, and now you ask, "How did we insult you?"

7You embarrass me by offering worthless food on my altar. Then you ask, "How have we embarrassed you?" You have done it by saying, "What's so great about the LORD's altar?"

8But isn't it wrong to offer animals that are blind, crippled, or sick? Just try giving those animals to your governor. That certainly wouldn't please him or make him want to help you. 9I am the LORD God All-Powerful, and you had better try to please me. You have sinned. Now see if I will have mercy on any of you.
10I wish someone would lock the doors of my temple, so you would stop wasting time building fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you priests, and I refuse to accept any more of your offerings. 11From dawn until dusk my name is praised by every nation on this earth, as they burn incense and offer the proper sacrifices to me. 12But even you priests insult me by saying, "There's nothing special about the LORD's altar, and these sacrifices are worthless."

13You get so disgusted that you even make vulgar signs at me. [b] And for an offering, you bring stolen [c] animals or those that are crippled or sick. Should I accept these? 14Instead of offering the acceptable animals you have promised, you bring me those that are unhealthy. I will punish you for this, because I am the great King, the LORD All-Powerful, and I am worshiped by nations everywhere.

Malachi 2

True and False Priests

1I, the LORD All-Powerful, have something else to say to you priests. 2You had better take seriously the need to honor my name. Otherwise, when you give a blessing, I will turn it into a curse. In fact, I have already done this, because you haven't taken to heart your duties as priests. 3I will punish your descendants and rub your faces in the manure from your animal sacrifices, and then be done with you. [d] 4I am telling you this, so I can continue to keep my agreement with your ancestor Levi. 5I blessed him with a full life, as I had promised, and he kept his part of the agreement by honoring me and respecting my name. 6He taught the truth and never told lies, and he led a lot of people to turn from sin, because he obeyed me and lived right.
7You priests should be eager to spread knowledge, and everyone should come to you for instruction, because you speak for me, the LORD All-Powerful. 8But you have turned your backs on me. Your teachings have led others to do sinful things, and you have broken the agreement I made with your ancestor Levi. 9So I caused everyone to hate and despise you, because you disobeyed me and failed to treat all people alike.

A Broken Agreement

10Don't you know that we all have God as our Father? Didn't the one God create each of us? Then why do you cheat each other by breaking the agreement God made with your ancestors? 11You people in Judah and Jerusalem have been unfaithful to the LORD. You have disgraced the temple that he loves, and you have committed the disgusting sin of worshiping other gods. [e] 12I pray that the LORD will no longer let those who are guilty belong to his people, even if they eagerly decide to offer the LORD a gift. [f] 13And what else are you doing? You cry noisily and flood the LORD's altar with your tears, because he isn't pleased with your offerings and refuses to accept them. 14And why isn't God pleased? It's because he knows that each of you men has been unfaithful to the wife you married when you were young. You promised that she would be your partner, but now you have broken that promise. 15Didn't God create you to become like one person with your wife? [g] And why did he do this? It was so you would have children, and then lead them to become God's people. Don't ever be unfaithful to your wife. 16The LORD God All-Powerful of Israel hates anyone who is cruel enough to divorce his wife. So take care never to be unfaithful! 17You have worn out the LORD with your words. And yet, you ask, "How did we do that?"

You did it by saying, "The LORD is pleased with evil and doesn't care about justice."

Malachi 1:3 jackals: Desert animals related to wolves, but smaller.
Malachi 1:13 me: Or "the altar."
Malachi 1:13 stolen: Or "injured."
Malachi 2:3 and then be done with you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Malachi 2:11 worshiping other gods: Or "marrying the worshipers of other gods."
Malachi 2:12 even if. . . gift: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Malachi 2:15 Didn't. . . wife: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Revelation 21:1-27 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 21

The New Heaven and the New Earth

1I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and so had the sea. 2Then I saw New Jerusalem, that holy city, coming down from God in heaven. It was like a bride dressed in her wedding gown and ready to meet her husband.

3I heard a loud voice shout from the throne:

God's home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. 4He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.

5Then the one sitting on the throne said:

I am making everything new. Write down what I have said. My words are true and can be trusted. 6Everything is finished! I am Alpha and Omega, [a] the beginning and the end. I will freely give water from the life-giving fountain to everyone who is thirsty. 7All who win the victory will be given these blessings. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 8But I will tell you what will happen to cowards and to everyone who is unfaithful or dirty-minded or who murders or is sexually immoral or uses witchcraft or worships idols or tells lies. They will be thrown into that lake of fire and burning sulfur. This is the second death. [b]

The New Jerusalem

9I saw one of the seven angels who had the bowls filled with the seven last terrible troubles. The angel came to me and said, "Come on! I will show you the one who will be the bride and wife of the Lamb." 10Then with the help of the Spirit, he took me to the top of a very high mountain. There he showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down from God in heaven.

11The glory of God made the city bright. It was dazzling and crystal clear like a precious jasper stone. 12The city had a high and thick wall with twelve gates, and each one of them was guarded by an angel. On each of the gates was written the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13Three of these gates were on the east, three were on the north, three more were on the south, and the other three were on the west. 14The city was built on twelve foundation stones. On each of the stones was written the name of one of the Lamb's twelve apostles.

15The angel who spoke to me had a gold measuring stick to measure the city and its gates and its walls. 16The city was shaped like a cube, because it was just as high as it was wide. When the angel measured the city, it was about fifteen hundred miles high and fifteen hundred miles wide. 17Then the angel measured the wall, and by our measurements it was about two hundred sixteen feet high.

18The wall was built of jasper, and the city was made of pure gold, clear as crystal. 19Each of the twelve foundations was a precious stone. The first was jasper, [c] the second was sapphire, the third was agate, the fourth was emerald, 20the fifth was onyx, the sixth was carnelian, the seventh was chrysolite, the eighth was beryl, the ninth was topaz, the tenth was chrysoprase, the eleventh was jacinth, and the twelfth was amethyst. 21Each of the twelve gates was a solid pearl. The streets of the city were made of pure gold, clear as crystal. 22I did not see a temple there. The Lord God All-Powerful and the Lamb were its temple. 23And the city did not need the sun or the moon. The glory of God was shining on it, and the Lamb was its light.

24Nations will walk by the light of that city, and kings will bring their riches there. 25Its gates are always open during the day, and night never comes. 26The glorious treasures of nations will be brought into the city. 27But nothing unworthy will be allowed to enter. No one who is dirty-minded or who tells lies will be there. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life [d] will be in the city.

Revelation 21:6 Alpha and Omega: See the note at 1.8.
Revelation 21:8 second death: See the note at 2.11.
Revelation 21:19 jasper: The precious and semi-precious stones mentioned in verses 19,20 are of different colors. Jasper is usually green or clear; sapphire is blue; agate has circles of brown and white; emerald is green; onyx has different bands of color; carnelian is deep-red or reddish-white; chrysolite is olive-green; beryl is green or bluish-green; topaz is yellow; chrysoprase is apple-green; jacinth is reddish-orange; and amethyst is deep purple.
Revelation 21:27 book of life: See the note at 3.5.

Psalm 149:1-9 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 149

A New Song of Praise

1Shout praises to the LORD!
Sing him a new song of praise
when his loyal people meet.
2People of Israel, rejoice
because of your Creator.
People of Zion, celebrate
because of your King.
3Praise his name by dancing
and playing music on harps
and tambourines.
4The LORD is pleased
with his people,
and he gives victory
to those who are humble.
5All of you faithful people,
praise our glorious Lord!
Celebrate and worship.
6Praise God with songs
on your lips
and a sword in your hand.
7Take revenge and punish
the nations.
8Put chains of iron
on their kings and rulers.
9Punish them as they deserve;
this is the privilege
of God's faithful people.
Shout praises to the LORD!

Proverbs 31:10-24 (Contemporary English Version)

In Praise of a Good Wife

10A truly good wife
is the most precious treasure
a man can find!
11Her husband depends on her,
and she never
lets him down.
12She is good to him
every day of her life,
13and with her own hands
she gladly makes clothes.
14She is like a sailing ship
that brings food
from across the sea.
15She gets up before daylight
to prepare food
for her family
and for her servants. [a]
16She knows how to buy land
and how to plant a vineyard,
17and she always works hard.
18She knows when to buy or sell,
and she stays busy
until late at night.
19She spins her own cloth,
20and she helps the poor
and the needy.
21Her family has warm clothing,
and so she doesn't worry
when it snows.
22She does her own sewing,
and everything she wears
is beautiful.
23Her husband is a well-known
and respected leader
in the city.
24She makes clothes to sell
to the shop owners.

Proverbs 31:15 and. . . servants: Or " and to tell her servants what to do."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bible Readings for December 25, 2011

Today our passages are Zechariah 8:1-23; Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-15; and Proverbs 30:29-31. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Zechariah 8:1-23 (Contemporary English Version)

Zechariah 8

The LORD's Promises to Zion

1The LORD All-Powerful said to me:

2I love Zion so much that her enemies make me angry. 3I will return to Jerusalem and live there on Mount Zion. Then Jerusalem will be known as my faithful city, and Zion will be known as my holy mountain.

4Very old people with walking sticks will once again sit around in Jerusalem, 5while boys and girls play in the streets. 6This may seem impossible for my people who are left, but it isn't impossible for me, the LORD All-Powerful. 7I will save those who were taken to lands in the east and the west, 8and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, faithful to bring about justice.

9I am the LORD All-Powerful! So don't give up. Think about the message my prophets spoke when the foundation of my temple was laid. 10Before that time, neither people nor animals were rewarded for their work, and no one was safe anywhere, because I had turned them against each other.

11My people, only a few of you are left, and I promise not to punish you as I did before. 12Instead, I will make sure that your crops are planted in peace and your vineyards are fruitful, that your fields are fertile and the dew falls from the sky. 13People of Judah and Israel, you have been a curse to the nations, but I will save you and make you a blessing to them. So don't be afraid or lose courage.

14When your ancestors made me angry, I decided to punish you with disasters, and I didn't hold back. 15Now you no longer need to be afraid. I have decided to treat Jerusalem and Judah with kindness. 16But you must be truthful with each other, and in court you must give fair decisions that lead to peace. 17Don't ever plan evil things against others or tell lies under oath. I, the LORD, hate such things.

A Time of Celebration

18The LORD All-Powerful told me to say:

19People of Judah, I, the LORD, demand that whenever you go without food as a way of worshiping me, it should become a time of celebration. No matter if it's the fourth month, the fifth month, the seventh month, or the tenth month, you should have a joyful festival. So love truth and live at peace.

20I tell you that people will come here from cities everywhere. 21Those of one town will go to another and say, "We're going to ask the LORD All-Powerful to treat us with kindness. Come and join us."

22Many people from strong nations will come to Jerusalem to worship me and to ask me to treat them with kindness. 23When this happens, ten people from nations with different languages will grab a Jew by his clothes and say, "Let us go with you. We've heard that God is on your side." I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken!

Revelation 16:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 16

The Bowls of God's Anger

1From the temple I heard a voice shout to the seven angels, "Go and empty the seven bowls of God's anger on the earth."

2The first angel emptied his bowl on the earth. At once ugly and painful sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and worshiped the idol.

3The second angel emptied his bowl on the sea. Right away the sea turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.

4The third angel emptied his bowl into the rivers and streams. At once they turned to blood. 5Then I heard the angel, who has power over water, say,
"You have always been,
and you always will be
the holy God.
You had the right
to judge in this way.
6They poured out the blood [a] of your people
and your prophets.
So you gave them blood
to drink,
as they deserve!"
7After this, I heard
the altar shout,
"Yes, Lord God All-Powerful,
your judgments are honest
and fair."

8The fourth angel emptied his bowl on the sun, and it began to scorch people like fire. 9Everyone was scorched by its great heat, and all of them cursed the name of God who had power over these terrible troubles. But no one turned to God and praised him.

10The fifth angel emptied his bowl on the throne of the beast. At once darkness covered its kingdom, and its people began biting their tongues in pain. 11And because of their painful sores, they cursed the God who rules in heaven. But still they did not stop doing evil things.

12The sixth angel emptied his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it completely dried up to make a road for the kings from the east. 13An evil spirit that looked like a frog came out of the mouth of the dragon. One also came out of the mouth of the beast, and another out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14These evil spirits had the power to work miracles. They went to every king on earth, to bring them together for a war against God All-Powerful. But that will be the day of God's great victory.

15Remember that Christ says, "When I come, it will surprise you like a thief! But God will bless you, if you are awake and ready. Then you won't have to walk around naked and be ashamed."

16Those armies came together in a place that in Hebrew is called Armagedon. [b] 17As soon as the seventh angel emptied his bowl in the air, a loud voice from the throne in the temple shouted, "It's done!" 18There were flashes of lightning, roars of thunder, and the worst earthquake in all history. 19The great city of Babylon split into three parts, and the cities of other nations fell. So God made Babylon drink from the wine cup that was filled with his anger. 20Every island ran away, and the mountains disappeared. 21Hailstones, weighing about a hundred pounds each, fell from the sky on people. Finally, the people cursed God, because the hail was so terrible.

Revelation 16:6 They poured out the blood: A way of saying, "They murdered."
Revelation 16:16 Armagedon: The Hebrew form of the name would be "Har Megiddo," meaning "Hill of Megiddo," where many battles were fought in ancient times (see Judges 5.19; 2 Kings 23.29,30).

Psalm 144:1-15 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 144
(By David.)

A Prayer for the Nation

1I praise you, LORD!
You are my mighty rock, [a]
and you teach me
how to fight my battles.
2You are my friend,
and you are my fortress
where I am safe.
You are my shield,
and you made me the ruler
of our people. [b]
3Why do we humans mean anything
to you, our LORD?
Why do you care about us?
4We disappear like a breath;
we last no longer
than a faint shadow.
5Open the heavens like a curtain
and come down, LORD.
Touch the mountains
and make them send up smoke.
6Use your lightning as arrows
to scatter my enemies
and make them run away.
7Reach down from heaven
and set me free.
Save me from the mighty flood
8of those lying foreigners
who can't tell the truth.
9In praise of you, our God,
I will sing a new song,
while playing my harp.
10By your power, kings win wars,
and your servant David is saved
from deadly swords.
11Won't you keep me safe
from those lying foreigners
who can't tell the truth?
12Let's pray that our young sons
will grow like strong plants
and that our daughters
will be as lovely
as columns
in the corner of a palace.
13May our barns be filled
with all kinds of crops.
May our fields be covered
with sheep by the thousands,
14and every cow have calves. [c]
Don't let our city be captured
or any of us be taken away,
and don't let cries of sorrow
be heard in our streets.
15Our LORD and our God,
you give these blessings
to all who worship you.

Psalm 144:1 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
Psalm 144:2 of our people: Some Hebrew manuscripts and ancient translations have " of the nations."
Psalm 144:14 have calves: Or " grow fat."

Proverbs 30:29-31 (Contemporary English Version)

29Three or four creatures
really strut around:
30Those fearless lions
who rule the jungle,
31those proud roosters,
those mountain goats,
and those rulers
who have no enemies. [a]

Proverbs 30:31 enemies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 31.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bible Readings for December 24, 2011

Today our passages are Zechariah 6:1–7:14; Revelation 15:1-8; Psalm 143:1-12; and Proverbs 30:24-28. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Zechariah 6-7:14 (Contemporary English Version)

Zechariah 6

Eighth Vision: Four Chariots

1Finally, I looked up and saw four chariots coming from between two bronze mountains. 2The first chariot was pulled by red horses, and the second by black horses; 3the third chariot was pulled by white horses, and the fourth by spotted gray horses.

4"Sir," I asked the angel. "What do these stand for?"

5Then he explained, "These are the four winds [a] of heaven, and now they are going out, after presenting themselves to the Lord of all the earth. 6The chariot with black horses goes toward the north, the chariot with white horses goes toward the west, [b] and the one with spotted horses goes toward the south." 7The horses came out eager to patrol the earth, and the angel told them, "Start patrolling the earth."

When they had gone on their way, 8he shouted to me, "Those that have gone to the country in the north will do what the LORD's Spirit [c] wants them to do there."

The Chosen Leader

9The LORD said to me:

10-11Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah have returned from Babylonia. Collect enough silver and gold from them to make a crown. [d] Then go with them to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah and put the crown on the head of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak. [e] 12-13Tell him that I, the LORD All-Powerful, say, "Someone will reach out from here like a branch and build a temple for me. I will name him `Branch,' and he will rule with royal honors. A priest will stand beside his throne, [f] and the two of them will be good friends. 14This crown will be kept in my temple as a reminder and will be taken care of by Heldai, [g] Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah." [h] 15When people from distant lands come and help build the temple of the LORD All-Powerful, you will know that the LORD is the one who sent me. And this will happen, if you truly obey the LORD your God.

Zechariah 7

A Question about Going without Eating

1On the fourth day of Chislev, the ninth month of the fourth year that Darius was king of Persia, [i] the LORD again spoke to me. 2-3It happened after the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer with Regem-Melech and his men to ask the priests in the LORD's temple and the prophets to pray for them. So they prayed, "Should we mourn and go without eating during the fifth month, [j] as we have done for many years?" 4-5It was then that the LORD All-Powerful told me to say to everyone in the country, including the priests:

For seventy years you have gone without eating during the fifth and seventh months of the year. But did you really do it for me? 6And when you eat and drink, isn't it for your own enjoyment? 7My message today is the same one I commanded the earlier prophets [k] to speak to Jerusalem and its villages when they were prosperous, and when all of Judah, including the Southern Desert and the hill country, was filled with people. 8-9So once again, I, the LORD All-Powerful, tell you, "See that justice is done and be kind and merciful to one another! 10Don't mistreat widows or orphans or foreigners or anyone who is poor, and stop making plans to hurt each other."

11-12But everyone who heard those prophets, stubbornly refused to obey. Instead, they turned their backs on everything my Spirit [l] had commanded the earlier prophets to preach. So I, the LORD, became angry 13and said, "You people paid no attention when I called out to you, and now I'll pay no attention when you call out to me." 14That's why I came with a whirlwind and scattered them among foreign nations, leaving their lovely country empty of people and in ruins.

Zechariah 6:5 winds: Or "spirits." The Hebrew word may mean either.
Zechariah 6:6 goes toward the west: Or "follows behind."
Zechariah 6:8 LORD's Spirit: Or "LORD."
Zechariah 6:10 a crown: Two ancient translations; Hebrew "some crowns."
Zechariah 6:10 Heldai. . . Jehozadak: Or "Go to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah, where you will find Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have returned from Babylonia. Collect enough silver and gold from them to make a crown. Then put it on the head of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak."
Zechariah 6:12 stand beside his throne: Or "sit on a throne."
Zechariah 6:14 Heldai: One ancient translation; Hebrew "Helem."
Zechariah 6:14 Josiah: One ancient translation; Hebrew "Hen."
Zechariah 7:1 Chislev. . . fourth year. . . king of Persia: Chislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-November to mid-December; the fourth year of the rule of Darius was 518 B.C.
Zechariah 7:2 fifth month: Ab, the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-July to mid-August. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 587 or 586 B.C.
Zechariah 7:7 the earlier prophets: See the note at 1.4.
Zechariah 7:11 my Spirit: Or "I."

Revelation 15:1-8 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 15

The Last of the Terrible Troubles

1After this, I looked at the sky and saw something else that was strange and important. Seven angels were bringing the last seven terrible troubles. When these are ended, God will no longer be angry.

2Then I saw something that looked like a glass sea mixed with fire, and people were standing on it. They were the ones who had defeated the beast and the idol and the number that tells the name of the beast. God had given them harps, 3and they were singing the song that his servant Moses and the Lamb had sung. They were singing,

"Lord God All-Powerful,
you have done great
and marvelous things.
You are the ruler
of all nations,
and you do what is
right and fair.
4Lord, who doesn't honor
and praise your name?
You alone are holy,
and all nations will come
and worship you,
because you have shown
that you judge
with fairness."

5After this, I noticed something else in heaven. The sacred tent used for a temple was open. 6And the seven angels who were bringing the terrible troubles were coming out of it. They were dressed in robes of pure white linen and wore belts made of pure gold. 7One of the four living creatures gave each of the seven angels a bowl made of gold. These bowls were filled with the anger of God who lives forever and ever. 8The temple quickly filled with smoke from the glory and power of God. No one could enter it until the seven angels had finished pouring out the seven last troubles.

Psalm 143:1-12 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 143
(A psalm by David.)

A Prayer in Time of Danger

1Listen, LORD, as I pray!
You are faithful and honest
and will answer my prayer.
2I am your servant.
Don't try me in your court,
because no one is innocent
by your standards.
3My enemies are chasing me,
crushing me in the ground.
I am in total darkness,
like someone long dead.
4I have given up all hope,
and I feel numb all over.
5I remember to think about
the many things
you did
in years gone by.
6Then I lift my hands in prayer,
because my soul is a desert,
thirsty for water from you.
7Please hurry, LORD,
and answer my prayer.
I feel hopeless.
Don't turn away
and leave me here to die.
8Each morning let me learn
more about your love
because I trust you.
I come to you in prayer,
asking for your guidance.
9Please rescue me
from my enemies, LORD!
I come to you for safety. [a]
10You are my God. Show me
what you want me to do,
and let your gentle Spirit
lead me in the right path.
11Be true to your name, LORD,
and keep my life safe.
Use your saving power
to protect me from trouble.
12I am your servant.
Show how much you love me
by destroying my enemies.

Psalm 143:9 I. . . safety: Or " You are my hiding place."

Proverbs 30:24-28 (Contemporary English Version)

24On this earth four things
are small but very wise:
25Ants, who seem to be feeble,
but store up food
all summer long;
26badgers, who seem to be weak,
but live among the rocks;
27locusts, who have no king,
but march like an army;
28lizards, [a] which can be caught in your hand,
but sneak into palaces.

Proverbs 30:28 lizards: Or " spiders."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bible Readings for December 23, 2011

Today our passages are Zechariah 4:1–5:11; Revelation 14:1-20; Psalm 142:1-7; and Proverbs 30:21-23. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Zechariah 4-5:11 (Contemporary English Version)

Zechariah 4

Fifth Vision: A Lampstand and Olive Trees

1The angel who explained the visions woke me from what seemed like sleep. 2Then he asked, "What do you see?"

"A solid gold lampstand with an oil container above it," I answered. "On the stand are seven lamps, each with seven flames. 3One olive tree is on the right side and another on the left of the oil container. 4But, sir, what do these mean?"

5Then he asked, "Don't you know?"

"No sir," I replied.

6So the angel explained that it was the following message of the LORD to Zerubbabel: [a] I am the LORD All-Powerful. So don't depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit. 7Zerubbabel, that mountain in front of you will be leveled to the ground. Then you will bring out the temple's most important stone and shout, "God has been very kind." [b] 8The LORD spoke to me again and said:

9Zerubbabel laid the foundation for the temple, and he will complete it. Then everyone will know that you were sent by me, the LORD All-Powerful. 10Those who have made fun of this day of small beginnings will celebrate when they see Zerubbabel holding this important stone. [c] Those seven lamps represent my eyes--the eyes of the LORD--and they see everything on this earth.

11Then I asked the angel, "What about the olive trees on each side of the lampstand? What do they represent? 12And what is the meaning of the two branches from which golden olive oil [d] flows through the two gold pipes?" 13"Don't you know?" he asked.

"No sir, I don't," was my answer.

14Then he told me, "These branches are the two chosen leaders [e] who stand beside the Lord of all the earth."

Zechariah 5

Sixth Vision: A Flying Scroll

1When I looked the next time, I saw a flying scroll, [f] 2and the angel asked, "What do you see?" "A flying scroll," I answered. "About thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide."

3Then he told me:

This scroll puts a curse on everyone in the land who steals or tells lies. The writing on one side tells about the destruction of those who steal, while the writing on the other side tells about the destruction of those who lie.
4The LORD All-Powerful has said, "I am sending this scroll into the house of everyone who is a robber or tells lies in my name, and it will remain there until every piece of wood and stone in that house crumbles."

Seventh Vision: A Woman in a Basket

5Now the angel who was there to explain the visions came over and said, "Look up and tell me what you see coming."

6"I don't know what it is," was my reply.

"It's a big basket," he said. "And it shows what everyone in the land has in mind." [g] 7The lead cover of the basket was opened, and in the basket was a woman. 8"This woman represents evil," the angel explained. Then he threw her back into the basket and slammed the heavy cover down tight.

9Right after this I saw two women coming through the sky like storks with wings outstretched in the wind. Suddenly they lifted the basket into the air, 10and I asked the angel, "Where are they taking the basket?"
11"To Babylonia," [h] he answered, "where they will build a house for the basket and set it down inside."

Zechariah 4:6 Zerubbabel: Governor of Judah (see Haggai 1.1).
Zechariah 4:7 God. . . kind: Or "What a beautiful stone."
Zechariah 4:10 important stone: Or "measuring line (with a stone attached to the end)."
Zechariah 4:12 golden olive oil: The Hebrew text has "gold," which possibly refers to the color of the olive oil as it flows through the gold pipe.
Zechariah 4:14 chosen leaders: The Hebrew text has "people of oil." In ancient times prophets, priests, and kings had olive oil poured over their heads to show that they had been chosen (see 1 Samuel 10.1; 16.13).
Zechariah 5:1 scroll: A roll of paper or special leather used for writing on.
Zechariah 5:6 what. . . mind: Hebrew; one ancient translation "the sin of everyone in the land."
Zechariah 5:11 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has "Shinar," an ancient name for Babylonia.

Revelation 14:1-20 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 14

The Lamb and His 144,000 Followers

1I looked and saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion! [a] With him were a hundred forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. 2Then I heard a sound from heaven that was like a roaring flood or loud thunder or even like the music of harps. 3And a new song was being sung in front of God's throne and in front of the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn that song, except the one hundred forty-four thousand who had been rescued from the earth. 4All of these are pure virgins, and they follow the Lamb wherever he leads. They have been rescued to be presented to God and the Lamb as the most precious people [b] on earth. 5They never tell lies, and they are innocent.

The Messages of the Three Angels

6I saw another angel. This one was flying across the sky and had the eternal good news to announce to the people of every race, tribe, language, and nation on earth. 7The angel shouted, "Worship and honor God! The time has come for him to judge everyone. Kneel down before the one who created heaven and earth, the oceans, and every stream."

8A second angel followed and said, "The great city of Babylon has fallen! This is the city that made all nations drunk and immoral. Now God is angry, and Babylon has fallen."

9Finally, a third angel came and shouted:

Here is what will happen if you worship the beast and the idol and have the mark of the beast on your hand or forehead. 10You will have to drink the wine that God gives to everyone who makes him angry. You will feel his mighty anger, and you will be tortured with fire and burning sulfur, while the holy angels and the Lamb look on.

11If you worship the beast and the idol and accept the mark of its name, you will be tortured day and night. The smoke from your torture will go up forever and ever, and you will never be able to rest.

12God's people must learn to endure. They must also obey his commands and have faith in Jesus.

13Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Put this in writing. From now on, the Lord will bless everyone who has faith in him when they die."

The Spirit answered, "Yes, they will rest from their hard work, and they will be rewarded for what they have done."

The Earth Is Harvested

14I looked and saw a bright cloud, and someone who seemed to be the Son of Man [c] was sitting on the cloud. He wore a gold crown on his head and held a sharp sickle [d] in his hand. 15An angel came out of the temple and shouted, "Start cutting with your sickle! Harvest season is here, and all crops on earth are ripe." 16The one on the cloud swung his sickle and harvested the crops. 17Another angel with a sharp sickle then came out of the temple in heaven. 18After this, an angel with power over fire came from the altar and shouted to the angel who had the sickle. He said, "All grapes on earth are ripe! Harvest them with your sharp sickle." 19The angel swung his sickle on earth and cut off its grapes. He threw them into a pit [e] where they were trampled on as a sign of God's anger. 20The pit was outside the city, and when the grapes were mashed, blood flowed out. The blood turned into a river that was about two hundred miles long and almost deep enough to cover a horse.

Revelation 14:1 Mount Zion: Another name for Jerusalem.
Revelation 14:4 the most precious people: The Greek text has "the first people." The Law of Moses taught that the first-born of all animals and the first part of the harvest were special and belonged to the Lord.
Revelation 14:14 Son of Man: See the note at 1.13.
Revelation 14:14 sickle: A knife with a long curved blade, used to cut grain and other crops.
Revelation 14:19 pit: It was the custom to put grapes in a pit (called a wine press) and stomp on them to make juice that would later turn to wine.

Psalm 142:1-7 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 142
(A special psalm and a prayer by David when he was in the cave.)

A Prayer for Help

1I pray to you, LORD.
I beg for mercy.
2I tell you all of my worries
and my troubles,
3and whenever I feel low,
you are there to guide me.
A trap has been hidden
along my pathway.
4Even if you look,
you won't see anyone
who cares enough
to walk beside me.
There is no place to hide,
and no one who really cares.
5I pray to you, LORD!
You are my place of safety,
and you are my choice
in the land of the living.
Please answer my prayer.
I am completely helpless.
6Help! They are chasing me,
and they are too strong.
7Rescue me from this prison,
so I can praise your name.
And when your people notice
your wonderful kindness to me,
they will rush to my side.

Proverbs 30:21-23 (Contemporary English Version)

21There are three or four things
that make the earth tremble
and are unbearable:
22A slave who becomes king,
a fool who eats too much,
23a hateful woman
who finds a husband,
and a slave
who takes the place
of the woman who owns her.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bible Readings for December 22, 2011

Today our passages are Zechariah 2:1–3:10; Revelation 13:1b-18; Psalm 141:1-10; and Proverbs 30:18-20. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Zechariah 2-3:10 (Contemporary English Version)

Zechariah 2

Third Vision: A Measuring Line

1This time I saw someone holding a measuring line, 2and I asked, "Where are you going?"

"To measure Jerusalem," was the answer. "To find out how wide and long it is."

3The angel who had spoken to me was leaving, when another angel came up to him 4and said, "Hurry! Tell that man with the measuring line that Jerusalem won't have any boundaries. It will be too full of people and animals even to have a wall. 5The LORD himself has promised to be a protective wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem, and he will be its shining glory in the heart of the city."

A Call to Action

6The LORD says to his people, "Run! Escape from the land in the north, where I scattered you to the four winds. 7Leave Babylonia and hurry back to Zion."

8Then the glorious LORD All-Powerful ordered me to say to the nations that had raided and robbed Zion:
Zion is as precious to the LORD as are his eyes. Whatever you do to Zion, you do to him. 9And so, he will put you in the power of your slaves, and they will raid and rob you. Then you will know that I am a prophet of the LORD All-Powerful.

10City of Zion, sing and celebrate! The LORD has promised to come and live with you. 11When he does, many nations will turn to him and become his people. At that time you will know that I am a prophet of the LORD All-Powerful. 12Then Judah will be his part of the holy land, and Jerusalem will again be his chosen city.

13Everyone, be silent!
The LORD is present
and moving about
in his holy place.

Zechariah 3

Fourth Vision: Joshua and Satan

1I was given another vision. This time Joshua the high priest was standing in front of the LORD's angel. And there was Satan, standing at Joshua's right side, ready to accuse him. 2But the LORD said, "Satan, you are wrong. Jerusalem is my chosen city, and this man was rescued like a stick from a flaming fire."

3Joshua's clothes were filthy. 4So the angel told some of the people to remove Joshua's filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, "This means you are forgiven. Now I will dress you in priestly clothes."

5I spoke up and said, "Also put a clean priestly turban on his head." Then they dressed him in priestly clothes and put the turban on him, while the LORD's angel stood there watching.

6After this, the angel encouraged Joshua by telling him that the LORD All-Powerful had promised:
7If you truly obey me, I will put you in charge of my temple, including the courtyard around it, and you will be allowed to speak at any time with the angels standing beside me. [a] 8Listen carefully, High Priest Joshua and all of you other priests. You are a sign of things to come, because I am going to bring back my servant, the Chosen King. [b] 9Joshua, I have placed in front of you a stone with seven sides. I will engrave something on that stone, and in a single day I will forgive this guilty country. 10Then each of you will live at peace and entertain your friends in your own vineyard and under your own fig trees.

Zechariah 3:7 with the angels. . . me: Or "with me." The angels are members of God's Council, who stand beside the throne of God in heaven and are allowed to speak with him and for him.
Zechariah 3:8 Chosen King: The Hebrew text has "Sprout" or "Branch," a term used of royalty (see Isaiah 11.1).

Revelation 13:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 13

The Two Beasts

1I looked and saw a beast coming up from the sea. This one had ten horns and seven heads, and a crown was on each of its ten horns. On each of its heads were names that were an insult to God. 2The beast that I saw had the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The dragon handed over its own power and throne and great authority to this beast. 3One of its heads seemed to have been fatally wounded, but now it was well. Everyone on earth marveled at this beast, 4and they worshiped the dragon who had given its authority to the beast. They also worshiped the beast and said, "No one is like this beast! No one can fight against it."

5The beast was allowed to brag and claim to be God, and for forty-two months it was allowed to rule. 6The beast cursed God, and it cursed the name of God. It even cursed the place where God lives, as well as everyone who lives in heaven with God. 7It was allowed to fight against God's people and defeat them. It was also given authority over the people of every tribe, nation, language, and race. 8The beast was worshiped by everyone whose name wasn't written before the time of creation in the book of the Lamb who was killed. [a] 9If you have ears,
then listen!
10If you are doomed
to be captured,
you will be captured.
If you are doomed
to be killed by a sword,
you will be killed
by a sword.

This means that God's people must learn to endure and be faithful!

11I now saw another beast. This one came out of the ground. It had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. 12It worked for the beast whose fatal wound had been healed. And it used all its authority to force the earth and its people to worship that beast. 13It worked mighty miracles, and while people watched, it even made fire come down from the sky.

14This second beast fooled people on earth by working miracles for the first one. Then it talked them into making an idol in the form of the beast that did not die after being wounded by a sword. 15It was allowed to put breath into the idol, so that it could speak. Everyone who refused to worship the idol of the beast was put to death. 16All people were forced to put a mark on their right hand or forehead. Whether they were powerful or weak, rich or poor, free people or slaves, 17they all had to have this mark, or else they could not buy or sell anything. This mark stood for the name of the beast and for the number of its name.
18You need wisdom to understand the number of the beast! But if you are smart enough, you can figure this out. Its number is six hundred sixty-six, and it stands for a person.

Revelation 13:8 wasn't written. . . was killed: Or "not written in the book of the Lamb who was killed before the time of creation."

Psalm 141:1-10 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 141
(A psalm by David.)

A Prayer for the LORD's Protection

1I pray to you, LORD!
Please listen when I pray
and hurry to help me.
2Think of my prayer
as sweet-smelling incense,
and think of my lifted hands
as an evening sacrifice.
3Help me to guard my words
whenever I say something.
4Don't let me want to do evil
or waste my time doing wrong
with wicked people.
Don't let me even taste
the good things they offer.
5Let your faithful people
correct and punish me.
My prayers condemn the deeds
of those who do wrong,
so don't let me be friends
with any of them.
6Everyone will admit
that I was right
when their rulers are thrown
down a rocky cliff,
7and their bones lie scattered
like broken rocks
on top of a grave. [a]
8You are my LORD and God,
and I look to you for safety.
Don't let me be harmed.
9Protect me from the traps
of those violent people,
10and make them fall
into their own traps
while you help me escape.

Psalm 141:7 Let. . . grave: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 5-7.

Proverbs 30:18-20 (Contemporary English Version)

18There are three or four things
I cannot understand:
19How eagles fly so high
or snakes crawl on rocks,
how ships sail the ocean
or people fall in love.
20An unfaithful wife says,
"Sleeping with another man
is as natural as eating."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bible Readings for December 21, 2011

Today our passages are Zechariah 1:1-21; Revelation 12:1–13:1a; Psalm 140:1-13; and Proverbs 30:17. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Zechariah 1:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Zechariah 1

Turn to the LORD

1I am the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah and the grandson of Iddo.

In the eighth month of the second year that Darius was king of Persia, [a] the LORD told me to say: 2-3Israel, I, the LORD All-Powerful, was very angry with your ancestors. But if you people will return to me, I will turn and help you. 4Don't be stubborn like your ancestors. They were warned by the earlier prophets [b] to give up their evil and turn back to me, but they paid no attention. 5Where are your ancestors now? Not even prophets live forever. 6But my warnings and my words spoken by the prophets caught up with your ancestors. So they turned back to me and said, "LORD All-Powerful, you have punished us for our sins, just as you had planned."

First Vision: Horses and Riders

7-8On the twenty-fourth day of Shebat, [c] which was the eleventh month of that same year, [d] the LORD spoke to me in a vision during the night: In a valley among myrtle trees, [e] I saw someone on a red horse, with riders on red, brown, and white horses behind him. 9An angel was there to explain things to me, and I asked, "Sir, who are these riders?" "I'll tell you," the angel answered.
10Right away, the man standing among the myrtle trees said, "These are the ones the LORD has sent to find out what's happening on earth."

11Then the riders spoke to the LORD's angel, who was standing among the myrtle trees, and they said, "We have gone everywhere and have discovered that the whole world is at peace."

12At this, the angel said, "LORD All-Powerful, for seventy years you have been angry with Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. When are you ever going to have mercy on them?"

13The LORD's answer was kind and comforting. 14So the angel told me to announce:

I, the LORD All-Powerful, am very protective of Jerusalem. 15For a while I was angry at the nations, but now I am furious, because they have made things worse for Jerusalem and are not the least bit concerned. 16And so, I will have pity on Jerusalem. The city will be completely rebuilt, and my temple will stand again. 17I also promise that my towns will prosper--Jerusalem will once again be my chosen city, and I will comfort the people of Zion.

Second Vision: Animal Horns

18Next, I saw four animal horns. [f] 19-21The angel who was sent to explain was there, and so I asked, "What do these mean?" His answer was, "These horns are the nations that scattered the people of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, and took away their freedom."
Then the LORD showed me four blacksmiths, and I asked, "What are they going to do?"

He replied, "They are going to terrify and crush those horns."

Zechariah 1:1 eighth month. . . second year. . . king of Persia: Bul, the eighth month of the Hebrew calender, from about mid-October to mid-November; the second year of the rule of Darius was 520 B.C.
Zechariah 1:4 the earlier prophets: Those who preached before the fall of Jerusalem in either 587 or 586 B.C.
Zechariah 1:7 Shebat: The eleventh month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-January to mid-February.
Zechariah 1:7 that same year: See verse 1 and the note there.
Zechariah 1:7 myrtle trees: Evergreen shrubs, which in ancient times were symbols of fertility and renewal.
Zechariah 1:18 animal horns: Horns, especially those of a bull, were symbols of power in ancient times. The number "four" would signal completeness, one representing each of the four directions.

Revelation 12-13:1 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 12

The Woman and the Dragon

1Something important appeared in the sky. It was a woman whose clothes were the sun. The moon was under her feet, and a crown made of twelve stars was on her head. 2She was about to give birth, and she was crying because of the great pain.

3Something else appeared in the sky. It was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and a crown on each of its seven heads. 4With its tail, it dragged a third of the stars from the sky and threw them down to the earth. Then the dragon turned toward the woman, because it wanted to eat her child as soon as it was born.

5The woman gave birth to a son, who would rule all nations with an iron rod. The boy was snatched away. He was taken to God and placed on his throne. 6The woman ran into the desert to a place that God had prepared for her. There she would be taken care of for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

Michael Fights the Dragon

7A war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels were fighting against the dragon and its angels. 8But the dragon lost the battle. It and its angels were forced out of their places in heaven 9and were thrown down to the earth. Yes, that old snake and his angels were thrown out of heaven! That snake, who fools everyone on earth, is known as the devil and Satan. 10Then I heard a voice from heaven shout,
"Our God has shown
his saving power,
and his kingdom has come!
God's own Chosen One

has shown his authority.

Satan accused our people

in the presence of God

day and night.

Now he has been thrown out!

11Our people defeated Satan

because of the blood [a] of the Lamb

and the message of God.

They were willing

to give up their lives.

12The heavens should rejoice,

together with everyone

who lives there.

But pity the earth

and the sea,

because the devil

was thrown down

to the earth.

He knows his time is short,

and he is very angry."

13When the dragon realized that it had been thrown down to the earth, it tried to make trouble for the woman who had given birth to a son. 14But the woman was given two wings like those of a huge eagle, so that she could fly into the desert. There she would escape from the snake and be taken care of for a time, two times, and half a time.

15The snake then spewed out water like a river to sweep the woman away. 16But the earth helped her and swallowed the water that had come from the dragon's mouth. 17This made the dragon terribly angry with the woman. So it started a war against the rest of her children. They are the people who obey God and are faithful to what Jesus did and taught. 18The dragon [b] stood on the beach beside the sea.

Revelation 13

The Two Beasts

1I looked and saw a beast coming up from the sea. This one had ten horns and seven heads, and a crown was on each of its ten horns. On each of its heads were names that were an insult to God.

Revelation 12:11 blood: Or "death."
Revelation 12:18 The dragon: The text has "he," and some manuscripts have "I."

Psalm 140:1-13 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 140
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

A Prayer for the LORD's Help

1Rescue me from cruel
and violent enemies, LORD!

2They think up evil plans

and always cause trouble.

3Their words bite deep

like the poisonous fangs

of a snake.

4Protect me, LORD, from cruel

and brutal enemies,

who want to destroy me.

5Those proud people have hidden

traps and nets

to catch me as I walk.

6You, LORD, are my God!

Please listen to my prayer.

7You have the power to save me,

and you keep me safe

in every battle.

8Don't let the wicked succeed

in doing what they want,

or else they might never

stop planning evil.

9They have me surrounded,

but make them the victims

of their own vicious lies. [a] 10Dump flaming coals on them

and throw them into pits

where they can't climb out.

11Chase those cruel liars away!

Let trouble hunt them down.

12Our LORD, I know that you

defend the homeless

and see that the poor

are given justice.

13Your people will praise you

and will live with you

because they do right.

Psalm 140:9 or else. . . lies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 30:17 (Contemporary English Version)

17Don't make fun of your father

or disobey your mother--

crows will peck out your eyes,

and buzzards will eat

the rest of you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bible Readings for December 20, 2011

Today our passages are Haggai 1:1–2:23; Revelation 11:1-19; Psalm 139:1-24; and Proverbs 30:15-16. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Haggai 1-2:23 (Contemporary English Version)

Haggai 1

Rebuild the Temple

1On the first day of the sixth month of the second year that Darius was king of Persia, [a] the LORD told Haggai the prophet to speak his message to the governor of Judah and to the high priest. So Haggai told Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua [b]

2-5that the LORD All-Powerful had said to them and to the people: You say this isn't the right time to build a temple for me. But is it right for you to live in expensive houses, [c] while my temple is a pile of ruins? Just look at what's happening.

6You harvest less than you plant, you never have enough to eat or drink, your clothes don't keep you warm, and your wages are stored in bags full of holes.

7Think about what I have said!

8But first, go to the hills and get wood for my temple, so I can take pride in it and be worshiped there.

9You expected much, but received only a little. And when you brought it home, I made that little disappear. Why have I done this? It's because you hurry off to build your own houses, while my temple is still in ruins.

10That's also why the dew doesn't fall and your harvest fails.

11And so, at my command everything will become barren--your farmland and pastures, your vineyards and olive trees, your animals and you yourselves. All your hard work will be for nothing.

12Zerubbabel and Joshua, together with the others who had returned from exile in Babylonia, obeyed the LORD's message spoken by his prophet Haggai, and they started showing proper respect for the LORD.
13Haggai then told them that the LORD had promised to be with them.

14So the LORD God All-Powerful made everyone eager to work on his temple, especially Zerubbabel and Joshua.

15And the work began on the twenty-fourth day of that same month.

Haggai 2

The Glorious New Temple

1-2On the twenty-first day of the next month, [d] the LORD told Haggai the prophet to speak this message to Governor Zerubbabel, High Priest Joshua, and everyone else:

3Does anyone remember how glorious this temple used to be? Now it looks like nothing.

4But cheer up! Because I, the LORD All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work,

5just as I promised your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. Don't worry. My Spirit is [e] right here with you.

6Soon I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.

7I will shake the nations, and their treasures [f] will be brought here. Then the brightness of my glory will fill this temple.

8All silver and gold belong to me,

9and I promise that this new temple will be more glorious than the first one. I will also bless this city [g] with peace.

The Past and the Future

10On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, [h] the LORD God All-Powerful told the prophet Haggai
11to ask the priests for their opinion on the following matter:

12Suppose meat ready to be sacrificed to God is being carried in the folds of someone's clothing, and the clothing rubs against some bread or stew or wine or olive oil or any other food. Would those foods that were touched then become acceptable for sacrifice?

"Of course not," the priests answered.

13Then Haggai said, "Suppose someone has touched a dead body and is considered unacceptable to worship God. If that person touches these foods, would they become unclean?"

"Of course they would," the priests answered.

14So the LORD told Haggai to say:

That's how it is with this entire nation. Everything you do and every sacrifice you offer is unacceptable to me.
15But from now on, things will get better. Before you started laying the foundation for the temple,

16you recalled what life was like in the past. [i] When you wanted twenty bushels of wheat, there were only ten, and when you wanted fifty jars of wine, there were only twenty.

17I made all of your hard work useless by sending mildew, mold, and hail--but you still did not return to me, your LORD.

18Today you have completed the foundation for my temple, so listen to what your future will be like.

19Although you have not yet harvested any grain, grapes, figs, pomegranates, [j] or olives, I will richly bless you in the days ahead.

God's Promise to Zerubbabel

20That same day the LORD spoke to Haggai again and said:

21Tell Governor Zerubbabel of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth

22and wipe out kings and their kingdoms. I will overturn war chariots, and then cavalry troops will start slaughtering each other.

23But tell my servant Zerubbabel that I, the LORD All-Powerful, have chosen him, and he will rule in my name. [k]

Haggai 1:1 sixth month. . . king of Persia: Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-August to mid-September; the second year of the rule of Darius was 520 B.C.
Haggai 1:1 Governor. . . Joshua: Hebrew "Governor Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and High Priest Joshua son of Jehozadak."
Haggai 1:2 expensive houses: Either houses with paneled interiors or with roofs; the temple was not yet completely rebuilt at this time.
Haggai 2:1 the next month: Tishri (also called Ethanim), the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-September to mid-October (see the note at 1.1).
Haggai 2:5 My Spirit is: Or "I am."
Haggai 2:7 their treasures: Hebrew "what they most desire."
Haggai 2:9 city: Or "temple."
Haggai 2:10 ninth month: Chislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-November to mid-December.
Haggai 2:16 you recalled. . . past: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Haggai 2:19 pomegranates: A bright red fruit that looks like an apple.
Haggai 2:23 rule in my name: The Hebrew text has "be my signet ring," which signified authority.

Revelation 11:1-19 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 11

The Two Witnesses

1An angel gave me a measuring stick and said:

Measure around God's temple. Be sure to include the altar and everyone worshiping there. 2But don't measure the courtyard outside the temple building. Leave it out. It has been given to those people who don't know God, and they will trample all over the holy city for forty-two months. 3My two witnesses will wear sackcloth, [a] while I let them preach for one thousand two hundred sixty days. 4These two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand in the presence of the Lord who rules the earth. 5Any enemy who tries to harm them will be destroyed by the fire that comes out of their mouths. 6They have the power to lock up the sky and to keep rain from falling while they are prophesying. And whenever they want to, they can turn water to blood and cause all kinds of terrible troubles on earth.

7After the two witnesses have finished preaching God's message, the beast that lives in the deep pit will come up and fight against them. It will win the battle and kill them. 8Their bodies will be left lying in the streets of the same great city where their Lord was nailed to a cross. And that city is spiritually like the city of Sodom or the country of Egypt.

9For three and a half days the people of every nation, tribe, language, and race will stare at the bodies of these two witnesses and refuse to let them be buried. 10Everyone on earth will celebrate and be happy. They will give gifts to each other, because of what happened to the two prophets who caused them so much trouble. 11But three and a half days later, God will breathe life into their bodies. They will stand up, and everyone who sees them will be terrified.

12The witnesses then heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, "Come up here." And while their enemies were watching, they were taken up to heaven in a cloud. 13At that same moment there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city. Seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were frightened and praised the God who rules in heaven.

14The second horrible thing has now happened! But the third one will be here soon.

The Seventh Trumpet

15At the sound of the seventh trumpet, loud voices were heard in heaven. They said,
"Now the kingdom
of this world
belongs to our Lord
and to his Chosen One!
And he will rule
forever and ever!"

16Then the twenty-four elders, who were seated on thrones in God's presence, knelt down and worshiped him. 17They said,
"Lord God All-Powerful,
you are and you were,
and we thank you.
You used your great power
and started ruling.
18When the nations got angry,
you became angry too!
Now the time has come
for the dead
to be judged.
It is time for you to reward
your servants the prophets
and all of your people
who honor your name,
no matter who they are.
It is time to destroy everyone
who has destroyed
the earth."

19The door to God's temple in heaven was then opened, and the sacred chest [b] could be seen inside the temple. I saw lightning and heard roars of thunder. The earth trembled and huge hailstones fell to the ground.

Revelation 11:3 sackcloth: See the note at 6.12.
Revelation 11:19 sacred chest: In Old Testament times the sacred chest was kept in the tent used for worship. It was the symbol of God's presence with his people and also of his agreement with them.

Psalm 139:1-24 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 139
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

The LORD Is Always Near

1You have looked deep
into my heart, LORD,
and you know all about me.
2You know when I am resting
or when I am working,
and from heaven
you discover my thoughts.
3You notice everything I do
and everywhere I go.
4Before I even speak a word,
you know what I will say,
5and with your powerful arm
you protect me
from every side.
6I can't understand all of this!
Such wonderful knowledge
is far above me.
7Where could I go to escape
from your Spirit
or from your sight?
8If I were to climb up
to the highest heavens,
you would be there.
If I were to dig down
to the world of the dead
you would also be there.
9Suppose I had wings
like the dawning day
and flew across the ocean.
10Even then your powerful arm
would guide and protect me.
11Or suppose I said, "I'll hide
in the dark
until night comes
to cover me over."
12But you see in the dark
because daylight and dark
are all the same to you.
13You are the one
who put me together
inside my mother's body,
14and I praise you
because of
the wonderful way
you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
Of this I have no doubt.
15Nothing about me
is hidden from you!
I was secretly woven together
deep in the earth below,
16but with your own eyes
you saw
my body being formed.
Even before I was born,
you had written in your book
everything I would do.
17Your thoughts are far beyond
my understanding,
much more than I
could ever imagine.
18I try to count your thoughts,
but they outnumber the grains
of sand on the beach.
And when I awake,
I will find you nearby.
19How I wish that you would kill
all cruel and heartless people
and protect me from them!
20They are always rebelling
and speaking evil of you. [a]
21You know I hate anyone
who hates you, LORD,
and refuses to obey.
22They are my enemies too,
and I truly hate them.
23Look deep into my heart, God,
and find out everything
I am thinking.
24Don't let me follow evil ways,
but lead me in the way
that time has proven true.

Psalm 139:20 you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 20.

Proverbs 30:15-16 (Contemporary English Version)

15Greed [a] has twins, each named "Give me!"
There are three or four things
that are never satisfied:
16The world of the dead
and a childless wife,
the thirsty earth
and a flaming fire.

Proverbs 30:15 Greed: Or " A leech."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bible Readings for December 17, 2011

Today our passages are Nahum 1:1–3:19; Revelation 8:1-13; Psalm 136:1-26; and Proverbs 30:7-9. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Nahum 1-3:19 (Contemporary English Version)

Nahum 1

1I am Nahum from Elkosh. [a] And this is the message [b] that I wrote down about Nineveh. [c]

The Fierce Anger of the LORD

2The LORD God demands loyalty.
In his anger, he takes revenge
on his enemies.
3The LORD is powerful,
yet patient;
he makes sure that the guilty
are always punished.
He can be seen in storms
and in whirlwinds;
clouds are the dust from his feet.
4At the LORD's command,
oceans and rivers dry up.
Bashan, Mount Carmel,
and Lebanon [d] wither, and their flowers fade.
5At the sight of the LORD,
mountains and hills
tremble and melt;
the earth and its people
shudder and shake.
6Who can stand the heat
of his furious anger?
It flashes out like fire
and shatters stones.

The Power of Assyria Will Be Broken

7The LORD is good.
He protects those who trust him
in times of trouble.
8But like a roaring flood,
the LORD chases his enemies
into dark places
and destroys them.
9So don't plot against the LORD!
He wipes out his enemies,
and they never revive.
10They are like drunkards
overcome by wine,
or like dry thornbushes
burning in a fire. [e]
11Assyria, one of your rulers
has made evil plans
against the LORD.
12But the LORD says, "Assyria,
no matter how strong you are,
you are doomed!
My people Judah,
I have troubled you before,
but I won't do it again.
13I'll snap your chains
and set you free
from the Assyrians."
14Assyria, this is what else
the LORD says to you:
"Your name will be forgotten.
I will destroy every idol
in your temple,
and I will send you to the grave,
because you are worthless."
15Look toward the mountains,
people of Judah!
Here comes a messenger
with good news of peace.
Celebrate your festivals.
Keep your promises to God.
Your evil enemies are destroyed
and will never again
invade your country.

Nahum 2

Nineveh Will Fall

1Nineveh, someone is coming
to attack and scatter you.
Guard your fortresses!
Watch the road!
Be brave!
Prepare for battle!
2Judah and Israel are like trees
with branches broken
by their enemies.
But the LORD is going to restore
their power and glory.
3Nineveh, on this day of attack,
your enemies' shields are red;
their uniforms are crimson.
4Their horses [f] prance,
and their armored [g] chariots dart around
like lightning
or flaming torches.
5An officer gives a command.
But his soldiers stumble,
as they hasten to build
a shelter
to protect themselves
against rocks
thrown down
from the city wall.
6The river gates [h] fly open,
and panic floods the palace.
7Nineveh is disgraced.
The queen is dragged off.
Her servant women mourn;
they sound like doves,
and they beat their breasts
in sorrow. [i]
8Nineveh is like a pond
with leaking water.
Shouts of "Stop! Don't go!"
can be heard everywhere.
But everyone is leaving.
9Enemy soldiers shout,
"The city is full of treasure
and all kinds of wealth.
Steal her silver! Grab her gold!"
10Nineveh is doomed! Destroyed!
Her people tremble with fear;
their faces turn pale. [j]
11What happened to this city?
They were safer there
than powerful lions in a den,
with no one to disturb them.
12These are the same lions
that ferociously attacked
their victims,
then dragged away the flesh
to feed their young.
13The LORD All-Powerful
is against you, Nineveh.
God will burn your chariots
and send an army
to kill
those young lions of yours.
You will never again
make victims of others
or send messengers to threaten
everyone on this earth.

Nahum 3

Punishment for Nineveh

The LORD said:
1Doom to the crime capital!
Nineveh, city of murder
and treachery,
2here is your fate--
cracking whips,
churning wheels;
galloping horses,
roaring chariots;
3cavalry attacking,
swords and spears flashing;
soldiers stumbling
over piles of dead bodies.
4You were nothing more
than a prostitute
using your magical charms
and witchcraft
to attract and trap nations.
5But I, the LORD All-Powerful,
am now your enemy.
I will pull up your skirt
and let nations and kingdoms
stare at your nakedness.
6I will cover you with garbage,
treat you like trash,
and rub you in the dirt.
7Everyone who sees you
will turn away and shout,
"Nineveh is done for!
Is anyone willing to mourn
or to give her comfort?"

Nineveh's Fate Is Sealed

8Nineveh, do you feel safer
than the city of Thebes? [k]
The Nile River
was its wall of defense. [l]
9Thebes trusted the mighty power
of Ethiopia [m] and Egypt;
the nations of Put [n] and Libya were her allies.
10But she was captured and taken
to a foreign country.
Her children were murdered
at every street corner.
The members of her royal family
were auctioned off,
and her high officials
were bound in chains.
11Nineveh, now it's your turn!
You will get drunk and try to hide
from your enemy.
12Your fortresses are fig trees
with ripe figs.
Merely shake the trees,
and fruit will fall
into every open mouth.
13Your army is weak.
Fire has destroyed the crossbars
on your city gates;
now they stand wide open
to your enemy.
14Your city is under attack.
Haul in extra water!
Strengthen your defenses!
Start making bricks!
Stir the mortar!
15You will still go up in flames
and be cut down by swords
that will wipe you out
like wheat
attacked by grasshoppers.
So, go ahead and increase
like a swarm of locusts! [o]
16More merchants are in your city
than there are stars
in the sky--
but they are like locusts
that eat everything,
then fly away.
17Your guards and your officials
are swarms of locusts.
On a chilly day
they settle on a fence,
but when the sun comes out,
they take off
to who-knows-where.
18King of Assyria,
your officials and leaders
sleep the eternal sleep,
while your people are scattered
in the mountains.
Yes, your people are sheep
without a shepherd.
19You're fatally wounded.
There's no hope for you.
But everyone claps
when they hear this news,
because your constant cruelty
has caused them pain.

Nahum 1:1 Elkosh: The location of Elkosh is not known.
Nahum 1:1 message: Or "vision."
Nahum 1:1 Nineveh: The capital of Assyria, the hated enemy of Israel.
Nahum 1:4 Bashan, Mount Carmel, and Lebanon: Three regions noted for their trees and flowers.
Nahum 1:10 fire: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
Nahum 2:4 horses: Two ancient translations; Hebrew "spears."
Nahum 2:4 armored: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Nahum 2:6 river gates: Nineveh was protected by a moat filled with water from the nearby Tigris River.
Nahum 2:7 sorrow: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
Nahum 2:10 faces turn pale: Or "ashes cover their faces."
Nahum 3:8 Thebes: In 663 B.C., the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal captured this Egyptian city, which seems to have been built with protection similar to that of Nineveh.
Nahum 3:8 was its. . . defense: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Nahum 3:9 Ethiopia: The Hebrew text has "Cush," which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan.
Nahum 3:9 Put: A region in Africa, possibly part of the present country of Libya.
Nahum 3:15 locusts: A type of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.

Revelation 8:1-13 (Contemporary English Version)

Revelation 8

The Seventh Seal Is Opened

1When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2I noticed that the seven angels who stood before God were each given a trumpet.

3Another angel, who had a gold container for incense, [a] came and stood at the altar. This one was given a lot of incense to offer with the prayers of God's people on the gold altar in front of the throne. 4Then the smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God's people, went up to God from the hand of the angel. 5After this, the angel filled the incense container with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. Thunder roared, lightning flashed, and the earth shook.

The Trumpets

6The seven angels now got ready to blow their trumpets.

7When the first angel blew his trumpet, hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown down on the earth. A third of the earth, a third of the trees, and a third of all green plants were burned.

8When the second angel blew his trumpet, something like a great fiery mountain was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10When the third angel blew his trumpet, a great star fell from heaven. It was burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on a third of the springs of water. 11The name of the star was Bitter, and a third of the water turned bitter. Many people died because the water was so bitter.

12When the fourth angel blew his trumpet, a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars were struck. They each lost a third of their light. So during a third of the day there was no light, and a third of the night was also without light.

13Then I looked and saw a lone eagle flying across the sky. It was shouting, "Trouble, trouble, trouble to everyone who lives on earth! The other three angels are now going to blow their trumpets."

Revelation 8:3 incense: See the note at 5.8.

Psalm 136:1-26 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 136

God's Love Never Fails

1Praise the LORD! He is good.
God's love never fails.
2Praise the God of all gods.
God's love never fails.
3Praise the Lord of lords.
God's love never fails.
4Only God works great miracles. [a]
God's love never fails.
5With wisdom he made the sky.
God's love never fails.
6The Lord stretched the earth
over the ocean.
God's love never fails.
7He made the bright lights
in the sky.
God's love never fails.
8He lets the sun rule each day.
God's love never fails.
9He lets the moon and the stars
rule each night.
God's love never fails.
10God struck down the first-born
in every Egyptian family.
God's love never fails.
11He rescued Israel from Egypt.
God's love never fails.
12God used his great strength
and his powerful arm.
God's love never fails.
13He split the Red Sea [b] apart.
God's love never fails.
14The Lord brought Israel safely
through the sea.
God's love never fails.
15He destroyed the Egyptian king
and his army there.
God's love never fails.
16The Lord led his people
through the desert.
God's love never fails.
17Our God defeated mighty kings.
God's love never fails.
18And he killed famous kings.
God's love never fails.
19One of them was Sihon,
king of the Amorites.
God's love never fails.
20Another was King Og of Bashan.
God's love never fails.
21God took away their land.
God's love never fails.
22He gave their land to Israel,
the people who serve him.
God's love never fails.
23God saw the trouble we were in.
God's love never fails.
24He rescued us from our enemies.
God's love never fails.
25He gives food to all who live.
God's love never fails.
26Praise God in heaven!
God's love never fails.

Psalm 136:4 great miracles: One Hebrew manuscript and one ancient translation have " miracles."
Psalm 136:13 Red Sea: See the note at 106.7.

Proverbs 30:7-9 (Contemporary English Version)

7There are two things, Lord,
I want you to do for me
before I die:
8Make me absolutely honest
and don't let me be too poor
or too rich.
Give me just what I need.
9If I have too much to eat,
I might forget about you;
if I don't have enough,
I might steal
and disgrace your name.