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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Friday, September 30, 2011

Bible Readings for September 30, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 60:1–62:5; Philippians 1:27–2:18; Psalm 72:1-20; and Proverbs 24:11-12. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 60-62:5 (Contemporary English Version)

Isaiah 60

A New Day for Jerusalem

1Jerusalem, stand up! Shine!
Your new day is dawning.
The glory of the LORD
shines brightly on you.
2The earth and its people
are covered with darkness,
but the glory of the LORD
is shining upon you.
3Nations and kings
will come to the light
of your dawning day.

Crowds Are Coming to Jerusalem

The LORD said:
4Open your eyes! Look around!
Crowds are coming.
Your sons are on their way
from distant lands;
your daughters are being carried
like little children.
5When you see this,
your faces will glow;
your hearts will pound
and swell with pride. [a]
Treasures from across the sea
and the wealth of nations
will be brought to you.
6Your country will be covered
with caravans
of young camels
from Midian and Ephah. [b]
The people of Sheba [c]
will bring gold and spices
in praise of me, the LORD.
7Every sheep of Kedar
will come to you;
rams from Nebaioth [d]
will be yours as well.
I will accept them as offerings
and bring honor to my temple.
8What is that sailing by
like clouds
or like doves flying home?
9On those distant islands
your people are waiting
for me, the LORD. [e]
Seagoing ships [f]
lead the way to bring them home
with their silver and gold.
I, the holy LORD God of Israel,
do this
to honor your people,
so they will honor me.

Jerusalem Will Be Rebuilt

The LORD said:
10Jerusalem, your city walls
will be rebuilt by foreigners;
their rulers will become
your slaves.
I punished you in my anger;
now I will be kind
and treat you with mercy.
11Your gates will be open
day and night
to let the rulers of nations
lead their people to you
with all their treasures.
12Any nation or kingdom
that refuses to serve you
will be wiped out.
13Wood from Lebanon's best trees
will be brought to you--
the pines, the firs,
and the cypress trees.
It will be used in my temple
to make beautiful
the place
where I rest my feet.
14The descendants of enemies
who hated and mistreated you
will kneel at your feet.
They will say, "You are Zion,
the city of the LORD,
the holy God of Israel."
15You were hated and deserted,
rejected by everyone.
But I will make you beautiful,
a city to be proud of
for all time to come.
16You will drain the wealth
of kings and foreign nations.
You will know that I,
the mighty LORD God of Israel,
have saved and rescued you.
17I will bring bronze and iron
in place of wood and stone;
in place of bronze and iron,
I will bring gold and silver.
I will appoint peace and justice
as your rulers and leaders.
18Violence, destruction, and ruin
will never again
be heard of
within your borders.
"Victory" will be the name
you give to your walls;
"Praise" will be the name
you give to your gates.
19You won't need the light
of the sun or the moon.
I, the LORD your God,
will be your eternal light
and bring you honor.
20Your sun will never set
or your moon go down.
I, the LORD, will be
your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow
will come to an end.
21Your people will live right
and always own the land;
they are the trees I planted
to bring praise to me.
22Even the smallest family
will be a powerful nation.
I am the LORD,
and when the time comes,
I will quickly do all this.

Isaiah 61

The Good News of Victory

1The Spirit of the LORD God
has taken control of me!
The LORD has chosen and sent me
to tell the oppressed
the good news,
to heal the brokenhearted,
and to announce freedom
for prisoners and captives.
2This is the year
when the LORD God
will show kindness to us
and punish our enemies.
The LORD has sent me
to comfort those who mourn,
3especially in Jerusalem.
He sent me to give them flowers
in place of their sorrow,
olive oil in place of tears,
and joyous praise
in place of broken hearts.
They will be called
"Trees of Justice,"
planted by the LORD
to honor his name.
4Then they will rebuild cities
that have been in ruins
for many generations.
5They will hire foreigners
to take care of their sheep
and their vineyards.
6But they themselves will be
priests and servants
of the LORD our God.
The treasures of the nations
will belong to them,
and they will be famous. [g]
7They were terribly insulted
and horribly mistreated;
now they will be greatly blessed
and joyful forever.

The LORD Loves Justice

8I, the LORD, love justice!
But I hate robbery
and injustice. [h]
My people, I solemnly promise
to reward you
with an eternal agreement.
9Your descendants will be known
in every nation.
All who see them will realize
that they have been blessed,
by me, the LORD.

Celebrate and Shout

10I celebrate and shout
because of my LORD God.
His saving power and justice
are the very clothes I wear.
They are more beautiful
than the jewelry worn
by a bride or a groom.
11The LORD will bring about
justice and praise
in every nation on earth,
like flowers blooming
in a garden.

Isaiah 62

Jerusalem Will Be Saved

1Jerusalem, I will speak up
for your good.
I will never be silent
till you are safe and secure,
sparkling like a flame.
2Your great victory will be seen
by every nation and king;
the LORD will even give you
a new name.
3You will be a glorious crown,
a royal headband,
for the LORD your God.
4Your name will no longer be
"Deserted and Childless,"
but "Happily Married."
You will please the LORD;
your country
will be his bride.
5Your people will take the land, [i]
just as a young man
takes a bride.
The LORD will be pleased
because of you,
just as a husband is pleased
with his bride.

Isaiah 60:5 swell with pride: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 60:6 Midian. . . Ephah: Midian was the ancestor of a nomadic tribe of the Arabian desert, east of the Gulf of Aqaba. Ephah was a clan within the tribe of Midian.
Isaiah 60:6 Sheba: Perhaps a place in what is now southwest Arabia. The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon (1 Kings 10.1-13).
Isaiah 60:7 Kedar. . . Nebaioth: Regions in northern Arabia.
Isaiah 60:9 On. . . LORD: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 60:9 Seagoing ships: See the note at 2.16.
Isaiah 61:6 and. . . famous: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 61:8 But. . . injustice: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 62:5 Your. . . land: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Philippians 1:27-2:18 (Contemporary English Version)

27Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then, whether I visit you or not, I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you are working together and that you are struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news.

28Be brave when you face your enemies. Your courage will show them that they are going to be destroyed, and it will show you that you will be saved. God will make all of this happen, 29and he has blessed you. Not only do you have faith in Christ, but you suffer for him. 30You saw me suffer, and you still hear about my troubles. Now you must suffer in the same way.

Philippians 2

True Humility

1Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God's Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. 2Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. 3Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: [a] 6Christ was truly God.

But he did not try to remain [b]
equal with God.
7Instead he gave up everything [c]
and became a slave,
when he became
like one of us.
8Christ was humble.
He obeyed God
and even died
on a cross.
9Then God gave Christ
the highest place
and honored his name
above all others.
10So at the name of Jesus
everyone will bow down,
those in heaven, on earth,
and under the earth.
11And to the glory
of God the Father
everyone will openly agree,
"Jesus Christ is Lord!"

Lights in the World

12My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. 13God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.

14Do everything without grumbling or arguing. 15Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, 16as you hold firmly to [d] the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless. 17Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice. [e] If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you. 18In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:5 think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: Or "think the way you should because you belong to Christ Jesus."
Philippians 2:6 remain: Or "become."
Philippians 2:7 Instead he gave up everything: Greek, "He emptied himself."
Philippians 2:16 hold firmly to: Or "offer them."
Philippians 2:17 my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice: Offerings of water or wine were sometimes poured out when animals were sacrificed on the altar.

Psalm 72:1-20 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 72
(By Solomon.)

A Prayer for God To Guide and Help the King

1Please help the king
to be honest and fair
just like you, our God.
2Let him be honest and fair
with all your people,
especially the poor.
3Let peace and justice rule
every mountain and hill.
4Let the king defend the poor,
rescue the homeless,
and crush
everyone who hurts them.
5Let the king live [a]
forever like the sun and the moon.
6Let him be as helpful as rain
that refreshes the meadows
and the ground.
7Let the king be fair
with everyone,
and let there be peace
until the moon
falls from the sky.
8Let his kingdom reach
from sea to sea,
from the Euphrates River
across all the earth.
9Force the desert tribes
to accept his rule,
and make his enemies
crawl in the dirt.
10Force the rulers of Tarshish [b]
and of the islands
to pay taxes to him.
Make the kings of Sheba
and of Seba [c] bring gifts.
11Make other rulers bow down
and all nations serve him.
12Do this because the king
rescues the homeless
when they cry out,
and he helps everyone
who is poor and in need.
13The king has pity
on the weak and the helpless
and protects those in need.
14He cares when they hurt,
and he saves them from cruel
and violent deaths.
15Long live the king!
Give him gold from Sheba.
Always pray for the king
and praise him each day.
16Let cities overflow with food
and hills be covered with grain,
just like Mount Lebanon.
Let the people in the cities
prosper like wild flowers.
17May the glory of the king
shine brightly forever
like the sun in the sky.
Let him make nations prosper
and learn to praise him.
18LORD God of Israel,
we praise you.
Only you can work miracles.
19We will always praise
your glorious name.
Let your glory be seen
everywhere on earth.
Amen and amen.
20This ends the prayers
of David, the son of Jesse.

Psalm 72:5 Let the king live: One ancient translation; Hebrew " Let them worship you."
Psalm 72:10 Tarshish: Possibly a city in Spain.
Psalm 72:10 Sheba. . . Seba: Sheba may have been a place in what is now southwest Arabia, and Seba may have been in southern Arabia.

Proverbs 24:11-12 (Contemporary English Version)


11 Don't fail to rescue those
who are doomed to die.
12Don't say, "I didn't know it!"
God can read your mind.
He watches each of us
and knows our thoughts.
And God will pay us back
for what we do.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bible Readings for September 29, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 57:14–59:21; Philippians 1:1-26; Psalm 71:1-24; and Proverbs 24:9-10. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 57:14-59:21 (Contemporary English Version)

The LORD Helps the Helpless

14The LORD says,
"Clear the road!
Get it ready for my people."
15Our holy God lives forever
in the highest heavens,
and this is what he says:
Though I live high above
in the holy place,
I am here to help those
who are humble
and depend only on me.
16My people, I won't stay angry
and keep on accusing you.
After all, I am your Creator.
I don't want you to give up
in complete despair.
17Your greed made me furious.
That's why I punished you
and refused to be found,
while you kept returning
to your old sinful ways.
18I know what you are like!
But I will heal you, lead you,
and give you comfort,
until those who are mourning
19start singing my praises. [a]
No matter where you are,
I, the LORD, will heal you [b]
and give you peace.
20The wicked are a restless sea
tossing up mud.
21But I, the LORD, have promised
that none who are evil
will live in peace.

Isaiah 58

True Religion

1Shout the message!
Don't hold back.
Say to my people Israel:
You've sinned! You've turned
against the LORD.
2Day after day, you worship him
and seem eager to learn
his teachings.
You act like a nation
that wants to do right
by obeying his laws.
You ask him about justice,
and say you enjoy
worshiping the LORD.
3You wonder why the LORD
pays no attention
when you go without eating
and act humble.
But on those same days
that you give up eating,
you think only of yourselves [c]
and abuse your workers.
4You even get angry
and ready to fight.
No wonder God won't listen
to your prayers!
5Do you think the LORD
wants you to give up eating
and to act as humble
as a bent-over bush?
Or to dress in sackcloth
and sit in ashes?
Is this really what he wants
on a day of worship?
6I'll tell you
what it really means
to worship the LORD.
Remove the chains of prisoners
who are chained unjustly.
Free those who are abused!
7Share your food with everyone
who is hungry;
share your home
with the poor and homeless.
Give clothes to those in need;
don't turn away your relatives.
8Then your light will shine
like the dawning sun,
and you
will quickly be healed.
Your honesty [d]
will protect you as you advance,
and the glory of the LORD
will defend you from behind.
9When you beg the LORD for help,
he will answer, "Here I am!"
Don't mistreat others
or falsely accuse them
or say something cruel.
10Give your food to the hungry
and care for the homeless.
Then your light will shine
in the dark;
your darkest hour will be
like the noonday sun.
11The LORD will always guide you
and provide good things to eat
when you are in the desert.
He will make you healthy.
You will be like a garden
that has plenty of water
or like a stream
that never runs dry.
12You will rebuild those houses
left in ruins for years;
you will be known
as a builder and repairer
of city walls and streets.
13But first, you must start
respecting the Sabbath
as a joyful day of worship.
You must stop doing and saying
whatever you please
on this special day.
14Then you will truly enjoy
knowing the LORD.
He will let you rule
from the highest mountains
and bless you with the land
of your ancestor Jacob.
The LORD has spoken!

Isaiah 59

Social Injustice Is Condemned

1The LORD hasn't lost
his powerful strength;
he can still hear
and answer prayers.
2Your sins are the roadblock
between you and your God.
That's why he doesn't answer
your prayers
or let you see his face.
3Your talk is filled with lies
and plans for violence;
every finger on your hands
is covered with blood.
4You falsely accuse others
and tell lies in court;
sin and trouble are the names
of your children.
5You eat the deadly eggs
of poisonous snakes,
and more snakes crawl out
from the eggs left to hatch.
You weave spider webs,
6but you can't make clothes
with those webs
or hide behind them.
You're sinful and brutal.
7You hurry off to do wrong
or murder innocent victims.
All you think about is sin;
you leave ruin and destruction
wherever you go.
8You don't know how
to live in peace
or to be fair with others.
The roads you make are crooked;
your followers cannot find peace.

The People Confess Their Sins

9No one has come to defend us
or to bring about justice.
We hoped for a day of sunshine,
but all we found
was a dark, gloomy night.
10We feel our way along,
as if we were blind;
we stumble at noon,
as if it were night.
We can see no better
than someone dead. [e]
11We growl like bears
and mourn like doves.
We hope for justice and victory,
but they escape us.
12How often have we sinned
and turned against you,
the LORD God?
Our sins condemn us!
We have done wrong.
13We have rebelled and refused
to follow you.
Our hearts were deceitful,
and so we lied;
we planned to abuse others
and turn our backs on you.
14Injustice is everywhere;
justice seems far away.
Truth is chased out of court;
honesty is shoved aside.
15Everyone tells lies;
those who turn from crime
end up ruined.
When the LORD noticed
that justice had disappeared,
he became very displeased.

The LORD Will Rescue His People

16It disgusted him even more
to learn
that no one
would do a thing about it.
So with his own powerful arm,
he won victories for truth.
17Justice was the LORD's armor;
saving power was his helmet;
anger and revenge
were his clothes.
18Now the LORD will get furious
and do to his enemies,
both near and far,
what they did to his people.
19He will attack like a flood
in a mighty windstorm.
Nations in the west and the east
will then honor and praise
his wonderful name.
20The LORD has promised to rescue
the city of Zion
and Jacob's descendants
who turn from sin.
21The LORD says: "My people,
I promise to give you my Spirit
and my message.
These will be my gifts to you
and your families forever.
I, the LORD, have spoken."

Isaiah 57:19 until. . . praises: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 57:19 heal you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 58:3 you think. . . yourselves: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 58:8 honesty: Or "honest leader."
Isaiah 59:10 We can. . . dead: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Philippians 1:1-26 (Contemporary English Version)

Philippians 1

1From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.

To all of God's people who belong to Christ Jesus at Philippi and to all of your church officials and officers. [a] 2I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!

Paul's Prayer for the Church in Philippi

3Every time I think of you, I thank my God. 4And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. 5This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. 6God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won't stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.

7You have a special place in my heart. So it is only natural for me to feel the way I do. All of you have helped in the work that God has given me, as I defend the good news and tell about it here in jail. 8God himself knows how much I want to see you. He knows that I care for you in the same way that Christ Jesus does.

9I pray that your love will keep on growing and that you will fully know and understand 10how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day, 11Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God.

What Life Means to Paul

12My dear friends, I want you to know that what has happened to me has helped to spread the good news. 13The Roman guards and all the others know that I am here in jail because I serve Christ. 14Now most of the Lord's followers have become brave and are fearlessly telling the message. [b] 15Some are preaching about Christ because they are jealous and envious of us. Others are preaching because they want to help. 16They love Christ and know that I am here to defend the good news about him. 17But the ones who are jealous of us are not sincere. They just want to cause trouble for me while I am in jail. 18But that doesn't matter. All that matters is that people are telling about Christ, whether they are sincere or not. That is what makes me glad.

I will keep on being glad, 19because I know that your prayers and the help that comes from the Spirit of Christ Jesus will keep me safe. 20I honestly expect and hope that I will never do anything to be ashamed of. Whether I live or die, I always want to be as brave as I am now and bring honor to Christ.
21If I live, it will be for Christ, and if I die, I will gain even more. 22I don't know what to choose. I could keep on living and doing something useful. 23It is a hard choice to make. I want to die and be with Christ, because that would be much better. 24-25But I know that all of you still need me. That's why I am sure I will stay on to help you grow and be happy in your faith. 26Then, when I visit you again, you will have good reason to take great pride in Christ Jesus because of me. [c]

Philippians 1:1 church officials and officers: Or "bishops and deacons."
Philippians 1:14 the message: Some manuscripts have "the Lord's message," and others have "God's message."
Philippians 1:26 take great pride in Christ Jesus because of me: Or "take great pride in me because of Christ Jesus."

Psalm 71:1-24 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 71

A Prayer for God's Protection

1I run to you, LORD,
for protection.
Don't disappoint me.
2You do what is right,
so come to my rescue.
Listen to my prayer
and keep me safe.
3Be my mighty rock, [a] the place
where I can always run
for protection.
Save me by your command!
You are my mighty rock
and my fortress.
4Come and save me, LORD God,
from vicious and cruel
and brutal enemies!
5I depend on you,
and I have trusted you
since I was young.
6I have relied on you [b]
from the day I was born.
You brought me safely
through birth,
and I always praise you.
7Many people think of me
as something evil.
But you are my mighty protector,
8and I praise and honor you
all day long.
9Don't throw me aside
when I am old;
don't desert me
when my strength is gone.
10My enemies are plotting
because they want me dead.
11They say, "Now we'll catch you!
God has deserted you,
and no one can save you."
12Come closer, God!
Please hurry and help.
13Embarrass and destroy
all who want me dead;
disgrace and confuse
all who want to hurt me.
14I will never give up hope
or stop praising you.
15All day long I will tell
the wonderful things you do
to save your people.
But you have done much more
than I could possibly know.
16I will praise you, LORD God,
for your mighty deeds
and your power to save.
17You have taught me
since I was a child,
and I never stop telling about
your marvelous deeds.
18Don't leave me when I am old
and my hair turns gray.
Let me tell future generations
about your mighty power.
19Your deeds of kindness
are known in the heavens.
No one is like you!
20You made me suffer a lot,
but you will bring me
back from this deep pit
and give me new life.
21You will make me truly great
and take my sorrow away.
22I will praise you, God,
the Holy One of Israel.
You are faithful.
I will play the harp
and sing your praises.
23You have rescued me!
I will celebrate and shout,
singing praises to you
with all my heart.
24All day long I will announce
your power to save.
I will tell how you disgraced
and disappointed
those who wanted to hurt me.

Psalm 71:3 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
Psalm 71:6 I. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 24:9-10 (Contemporary English Version)

9Everyone hates senseless fools
who think up ways to sin.


10 Don't give up and be helpless
in times of trouble.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bible Reading for September 28, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 54:1–57:13; Ephesians 6:1-24; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 24:8. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 54-57:13 (Contemporary English Version)

Isaiah 54

A Promise of the LORD's Protection

1Sing and shout,
even though you have never
had children!
The LORD has promised that you
will have more children
than someone married
for a long time.
2Make your tents larger!
Spread out the tent pegs;
fasten them firmly.
3You and your descendants
will take over the land
of other nations.
You will settle in towns
that are now in ruins.
4Don't be afraid or ashamed
and don't be discouraged.
You won't be disappointed.
Forget how sinful you were
when you were young;
stop feeling ashamed
for being left a widow.
5The LORD All-Powerful,
the Holy God of Israel,
rules all the earth.
He is your Creator and husband,
and he will rescue you.
6You were like a young wife,
brokenhearted and crying
because her husband
had divorced her.
But the LORD your God says,
"I am taking you back!
7I rejected you for a while,
but with love and tenderness
I will embrace you again.
8For a while, I turned away
in furious anger.
Now I will have mercy
and love you forever!
I, your protector and LORD,
make this promise."

The LORD Promises Lasting Peace

9I once promised Noah that I
would never again
the earth by a flood.
Now I have promised that I
will never again
get angry
and punish you.
10Every mountain and hill
may disappear.
But I will always be kind
and merciful to you;
I won't break my agreement
to give your nation peace.

The New Jerusalem

11Jerusalem, you are sad
and discouraged,
tossed around in a storm.
But I, the LORD,
will rebuild your city
with precious stones; [a]
for your foundation
I will use blue sapphires.
12Your fortresses [b]
will be built of rubies,
your gates of jewels,
and your walls of gems.
13I will teach your children
and make them successful.
14You will be built on fairness
with no fears of injustice;
every one of your worries
will be taken far from you.
15I will never send anyone
to attack your city,
and you will make prisoners
of those who do attack.
16Don't forget that I created
who make weapons
over burning coals.
I also created armies
that can bring destruction.
17Weapons made to attack you
won't be successful;
words spoken against you
won't hurt at all.
My servants, Jerusalem is yours!
I, the LORD, promise
to bless you with victory.

Isaiah 55

The LORD's Invitation

1If you are thirsty,
come and drink water!
If you don't have any money,
come, eat what you want!
Drink wine and milk
without paying a cent.
2Why waste your money
on what really isn't food?
Why work hard for something
that doesn't satisfy?
Listen carefully to me,
and you will enjoy
the very best foods.
3Pay close attention!
Come to me and live.
I will promise you
the eternal love and loyalty
that I promised David.
4I made him the leader and ruler
of the nations;
he was my witness to them.
5You will call out to nations
you have never known.
And they have never known you,
but they will come running
because I am the LORD,
the holy God of Israel,
and I have honored you.

God's Words Are Powerful

6Turn to the LORD!
He can still be found.
Call out to God! He is near.
7Give up your crooked ways
and your evil thoughts.
Return to the LORD our God.
He will be merciful
and forgive your sins.
8The LORD says:
"My thoughts and my ways
are not like yours.
9Just as the heavens
are higher than the earth,
my thoughts and my ways
are higher than yours.
10"Rain and snow fall from the sky.
But they don't return
without watering the earth
that produces seeds to plant
and grain to eat.
11That's how it is with my words.
They don't return to me
without doing everything
I send them to do."

God's People Will Celebrate

12When you are set free,
you will celebrate
and travel home in peace.
Mountains and hills will sing
as you pass by,
and trees will clap.
13Cypress and myrtle trees
will grow in fields
once covered by thorns.
And then those trees will stand
as a lasting witness
to the glory of the LORD.

Isaiah 56

All Nations Will Be Part of God's People

1The LORD said:
Be honest and fair!
Soon I will come to save you;
my saving power will be seen
everywhere on earth.
2I will bless everyone
who respects the Sabbath
and refuses to do wrong.
3Foreigners who worship me
must not say,
"The LORD won't let us
be part of his people."
Men who are unable
to become fathers
must no longer say,
"We are dried-up trees."
4To them, I, the LORD, say:
Respect the Sabbath,
obey me completely,
and keep our agreement.
5Then I will set up monuments
in my temple
with your names
written on them.
This will be much better
than having children,
because these monuments
will stand there forever.
6Foreigners will follow me.
They will love me
and worship
in my name;
they will respect the Sabbath
and keep our agreement.
7I will bring them
to my holy mountain,
where they will celebrate
in my house of worship.
Their sacrifices and offerings
will always be welcome
on my altar.
Then my house will be known
as a house of worship
for all nations.
8I, the LORD, promise
to bring together my people
who were taken away,
and let them join the others.

God Promises To Punish Israel's Leaders

9Come from the forest,
you wild animals!
Attack and gobble down
your victims.
10You leaders of Israel
should be watchdogs,
protecting my people.
But you can't see a thing,
and you never warn them.
Dozing and daydreaming
are all you ever do.
11You stupid leaders are a pack
of hungry and greedy dogs
that never get enough.
You are shepherds
who mistreat your own sheep
for selfish gain.
12You say to each other,
"Let's drink till we're drunk!
Tomorrow we'll do it again.
We'll really enjoy ourselves."

Isaiah 57

God's Faithful People Suffer

1God's faithful people
are dragged off and killed,
and no one even cares.
Evil sweeps them away,
2but in death they find peace
for obeying God. [c]
The LORD Condemns Idolatry
3You people are unfaithful!
You go to fortunetellers,
and you worship idols.
Now pay close attention!
4Who are you making fun of?
Who are you sneering at?
Look how your sins
have made fools of you.
5All you think about is sex
under those green trees
where idols are worshiped.
You sacrifice your children
on altars built in valleys
under rocky slopes.
6You have chosen to worship
idols made of stone; [d]
you have given them offerings
of wine and grain.
Should I be pleased?
7You have spread out your beds
on the tops of high mountains,
where you sacrifice to idols.
8Even in your homes
you have placed pagan symbols
all around your huge beds.
Yes, you have rejected me,
sold yourselves to your lovers,
and gone to bed with them. [e]
9You smear on olive oil
and all kinds of perfume
to worship the god Molech. [f]
You even seek advice
from spirits of the dead.
10Though you tired yourself out
by running after idols,
you refused to stop.
Your desires were so strong
that they kept you going.
11Did you forget about me
and become unfaithful
because you were more afraid
of someone else?
Have I been silent so long [g]
that you no longer fear me?
12You think you're so good,
but I'll point out the truth.
13Ask your idols to save you
when you are in trouble.
Be careful though--
it takes only a faint breath
to blow them over.
But if you come to me
for protection,
this land and my holy mountain
will always belong to you.

Isaiah 54:11 with precious stones: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 54:12 fortresses: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 57:2 Evil. . . God: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 57:6 You have. . . stone: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 57:8 them: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 8.
Isaiah 57:9 the god Molech: Or "the king." In Hebrew "Molech" and "king" sound alike.
Isaiah 57:11 so long: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Ephesians 6:1-24 (Contemporary English Version)

Ephesians 6

Children and Parents

1Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, 2"Obey your father and your mother, 3and you will have a long and happy life."

4Parents, don't be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.

Slaves and Masters

5Slaves, you must obey your earthly masters. Show them great respect and be as loyal to them as you are to Christ. 6Try to please them at all times, and not just when you think they are watching. You are slaves of Christ, so with your whole heart you must do what God wants you to do. 7Gladly serve your masters, as though they were the Lord himself, and not simply people. 8You know that you will be rewarded for any good things you do, whether you are slaves or free.

9Slave owners, you must treat your slaves with this same respect. Don't threaten them. They have the same Master in heaven that you do, and he doesn't have any favorites.

The Fight against Evil

10Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil's tricks. 12We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day [a] comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. 14Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God's justice protect you like armor. 15Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Let God's saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God's message that comes from the Spirit.

18Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people. 19Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news. 20I was sent to do this work, and that's the reason I am in jail. So pray that I will be brave and will speak as I should.

Final Greetings

21-22I want you to know how I am getting along and what I am doing. That's why I am sending Tychicus to you. He is a dear friend, as well as a faithful servant of the Lord. He will tell you how I am doing, and he will cheer you up.

23I pray that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will give peace, love, and faith to every follower! 24May God be kind to everyone who keeps on loving our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:13 that evil day: Either the present (see 5.16) or the day of death or the day of judgment.

Psalm 70:1-5 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 70
(By David for the music leader. To be used when an offering is made.)

God Is Wonderful

1Save me, LORD God!
Hurry and help.
2Disappoint and confuse
all who want to kill me.
Turn away and disgrace
all who want to hurt me.
3Embarrass and shame those
who say, "We told you so!"
4Let your worshipers celebrate
and be glad because of you.
They love your saving power,
so let them always say,
"God is wonderful!"
5I am poor and needy,
but you, the LORD God,
care about me.
You are the one who saves me.
Please hurry and help!

Proverbs 24:8 (Contemporary English Version)


8 No one but troublemakers
think up trouble.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bible Readings for September 27, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 51:1–53:12; Ephesians 5:1-33; Psalm 69:19-36; and Proverbs 24:7. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 51-53:12 (Contemporary English Version)

Isaiah 51

The LORD Will Bring Comfort

1If you want to do right
and obey the LORD,
follow Abraham's example.
He was the rock from which
you were chipped.
2God chose Abraham and Sarah
to be your ancestors.
The LORD blessed Abraham,
and from that one man
came many descendants.
3Though Zion is in ruins,
the LORD will bring comfort,
and the city will be as lovely
as the garden of Eden
that he provided.
Then Zion will celebrate;
it will be thankful
and sing joyful songs.

The LORD's Victory Will Last

4The LORD says:
You are my people and nation!
So pay attention to me.
My teaching will cause justice
to shine like a light
for every nation.
5Those who live across the sea
are eagerly waiting
for me to rescue them.
I am strong and ready;
soon I will come to save
and to rule all nations.
6Look closely at the sky!
Stare at the earth.
The sky will vanish like smoke;
the earth will wear out
like clothes.
Everyone on this earth
will die like flies.
But my victory will last;
my saving power never ends.
7If you want to do right
and to obey my teaching
with all your heart,
then pay close attention.
Don't be discouraged
when others insult you
and say hurtful things.
8They will be eaten away
like a moth-eaten coat.
But my victory will last;
my saving power
will never end.

A Prayer for the LORD's Help

9Wake up! Do something, LORD.
Be strong and ready.
Wake up! Do what you did
for our people long ago.
Didn't you chop up
Rahab [a] the monster?
10Didn't you dry up the deep sea
and make a road
for your people
to follow safely across?
11Now those you have rescued
will return to Jerusalem,
singing on their way.
They will be crowned
with great happiness,
never again to be burdened
with sadness and sorrow.

The LORD Gives Hope

12I am the LORD, the one
who encourages you.
Why are you afraid
of mere humans?
They dry up and die like grass.
13I spread out the heavens
and laid foundations
for the earth.
But you have forgotten me,
your LORD and Creator.
All day long you were afraid
of those who were angry
and hoped to abuse you.
Where are they now?
14Everyone crying out in pain
will be quickly set free;
they will be rescued
from the power of death
and never go hungry.
15I will help them
because I am your God,
the LORD All-Powerful,
who makes the ocean roar.
16I have told you what to say,
and I will keep you safe
in the palm of my hand.
I spread out the heavens
and laid foundations
for the earth.
Now I say, "Jerusalem,
your people are mine."

A Warning to Jerusalem

17Jerusalem, wake up! Stand up!
You've drunk too much
from the cup filled
with the LORD's anger.
You have swallowed every drop,
and you can't walk straight.
18Not one of your many children
is there to guide you
or to offer a helping hand.
19You have been destroyed
by war and by famine;
I cannot comfort you. [b]
20The LORD your God is angry,
and on every street corner
your children lie helpless,
like deer trapped in nets.
21You are in trouble and drunk,
but not from wine.
So pay close attention
22to the LORD your God,
who defends you and says,
"I have taken from your hands
the cup filled with my anger
that made you drunk.
You will never be forced
to drink it again.
23Instead I will give it
to your brutal enemies,
who treated you like dirt
and walked all over you."

Isaiah 52

Jerusalem Can Celebrate

1Jerusalem, wake up!
Stand up and be strong.
Holy city of Zion,
dress in your best clothes.
Those foreigners who ruined
your sacred city
won't bother you again.
2Zion, rise from the dirt!
Free yourself from the rope
around your neck.

Suffering Will End

3The LORD says:
My people, you were sold,
but not for money;
now you will be set free,
but not for a payment.
4Long ago you went to Egypt
where you lived
as foreigners.
Then Assyria was cruel to you,
5and now another nation [c]
has taken you prisoner
for no reason at all.
Your leaders groan with pain, [d]
and day after day
my own name is cursed.
6My people, you will learn
who I am and who is speaking
because I am here.

A Message of Hope for Jerusalem

7What a beautiful sight!
On the mountains a messenger
announces to Jerusalem,
"Good news! You're saved.
There will be peace.
Your God is now King."
8Everyone on guard duty,
sing and celebrate!
Look! You can see the LORD
returning to Zion.
9Jerusalem, rise from the ruins!
Join in the singing.
The LORD has given comfort
to his people;
he comes to your rescue.
10The LORD has shown all nations
his mighty strength;
now everyone will see
the saving power of our God.

A Command To Leave Babylon

11Leave the city of Babylon!
Don't touch anything filthy.
Wash yourselves. Be ready
to carry back everything sacred
that belongs to the LORD.
12You won't need to run.
No one is chasing you.
The LORD God of Israel
will lead and protect you
from enemy attacks.

The Suffering Servant

13The LORD says:
My servant will succeed!
He will be given great praise
and the highest honors.
14Many were horrified
at what happened to him. [e]
But everyone who saw him
was even more horrified
because he suffered until
he no longer looked human. [f] 1
5My servant will make
nations worthy to worship me; [g]
kings will be silent
as they bow in wonder. [h]
They will see and think about
they have never seen
or thought about before.

Isaiah 53

What God's Servant Did for Us

1Has anyone believed us
or seen the mighty power
of the LORD in action?
2Like a young plant or a root
that sprouts in dry ground,
the servant grew up
obeying the LORD.
He wasn't some handsome king.
Nothing about the way he looked
made him attractive to us.
3He was hated and rejected;
his life was filled with sorrow
and terrible suffering.
No one wanted to look at him.
We despised him and said,
"He is a nobody!"
4He suffered and endured
great pain for us,
but we thought his suffering
was punishment from God.
5He was wounded and crushed
because of our sins;
by taking our punishment,
he made us completely well.
6All of us were like sheep
that had wandered off.
We had each gone our own way,
but the LORD gave him
the punishment we deserved.
7He was painfully abused,
but he did not complain.
He was silent like a lamb
being led to the butcher,
as quiet as a sheep
having its wool cut off.
8He was condemned to death
without a fair trial.
Who could have imagined
what would happen to him?
His life was taken away
because of the sinful things
my people [i] had done.
9He wasn't dishonest or violent,
but he was buried in a tomb
of cruel and rich people. [j]
10The LORD decided his servant
would suffer as a sacrifice
to take away the sin
and guilt of others.
Now the servant will live
to see his own descendants. [k]
He did everything
the LORD had planned.
11By suffering, the servant
will learn the true meaning
of obeying the LORD.
Although he is innocent,
he will take the punishment
for the sins of others,
so that many of them
will no longer be guilty.
12The LORD will reward him
with honor and power
for sacrificing his life.
Others thought he was a sinner,
but he suffered for our sins
and asked God to forgive us.

Isaiah 51:9 Rahab: This may refer to Egypt at the time of the exodus.
Isaiah 51:19 I. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 52:5 another nation: Babylonia.
Isaiah 52:5 groan with pain: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 52:14 him: One ancient translation; Hebrew "you."
Isaiah 52:14 human: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 14.
Isaiah 52:15 My. . . me: Hebrew; one ancient translation "The nations will be amazed at him."
Isaiah 52:15 kings. . . wonder: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 53:8 my people: Or "his people."
Isaiah 53:9 but he. . . people: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 53:10 The LORD. . . descendants: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Ephesians 5:1-33 (Contemporary English Version)

Ephesians 5

1Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children. 2Let love be your guide. Christ loved us [a] and offered his life for us as a sacrifice that pleases God. 3You are God's people, so don't let it be said that any of you are immoral or indecent or greedy. 4Don't use dirty or foolish or filthy words. Instead, say how thankful you are. 5Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols. You can be sure that people who behave in this way will never be part of the kingdom that belongs to Christ and to God.

Living as People of Light

6Don't let anyone trick you with foolish talk. God punishes everyone who disobeys him and says [b] foolish things. 7So don't have anything to do with anyone like that. 8You used to be like people living in the dark, but now you are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light 9and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful, 10as you try to please the Lord. 11Don't take part in doing those worthless things that are done in the dark. Instead, show how wrong they are. 12It is disgusting even to talk about what is done in the dark. 13But the light will show what these things are really like. 14Light shows up everything, [c] just as the Scriptures say, "Wake up from your sleep
and rise from death.
Then Christ will shine on you."

15Act like people with good sense and not like fools. 16These are evil times, so make every minute count. 17Don't be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. 18Don't destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life. 19When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. 20Always use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to thank God the Father for everything.

Wives and Husbands

21Honor Christ and put others first. 22A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord. 23A husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head and the Savior of the church, which is his own body. 24Wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first.

25A husband should love his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water. 27Christ did this, so that he would have a glorious and holy church, without faults or spots or wrinkles or any other flaws.
28In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows that he loves himself. 29None of us hate our own bodies. We provide for them and take good care of them, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are each part of his body. 31As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother to get married, and he becomes like one person with his wife." 32This is a great mystery, but I understand it to mean Christ and his church. 33So each husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself, and each wife should respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:2 us: Some manuscripts have you.
Ephesians 5:6 says: Or does.
Ephesians 5:14 Light shows up everything: Or Everything that is seen in the light becomes light itself.

Psalm 69:19-36 (Contemporary English Version)

19You know how I am insulted,
mocked, and disgraced;
you know every one
of my enemies.
20I am crushed by insults,
and I feel sick.
I had hoped for mercy and pity,
but there was none.
21Enemies poisoned my food,
and when I was thirsty,
they gave me vinegar.
22Make their table a trap
for them and their friends.
23Blind them with darkness
and make them tremble.
24Show them how angry you are!
Be furious and catch them.
25Destroy their camp
and don't let anyone live
in their tents.
26They cause trouble for people
you have already punished;
their gossip hurts those
you have wounded.
27Make them guiltier than ever
and don't forgive them.
28Wipe their names from the book
of the living;
remove them from the list
of the innocent.
29I am mistreated and in pain.
Protect me, God,
and keep me safe!
30I will praise the LORD God
with a song
and a thankful heart.
31This will please the LORD
better than offering an ox
or a full-grown bull.
32When those in need see this,
they will be happy,
and the LORD's worshipers
will be encouraged.
33The LORD will listen
when the homeless cry out,
and he will never forget
his people in prison.
34Heaven and earth
will praise our God,
and so will the oceans
and everything in them.
35God will rescue Jerusalem,
and he will rebuild
the towns of Judah.
His people will live there
on their own land,
36and when the time comes,
their children will inherit
the land.
Then everyone who loves God
will also settle there.

Proverbs 24:7 (Contemporary English Version)


7 Wisdom is too much for fools!
Their advice is no good.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bible Readings for September 26, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 48:12–50:11; Ephesians 4:17-32; Psalm 69:1-18; and Proverbs 24:5-6. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 48:12-50:11 (Contemporary English Version)

12Israel, my chosen people,
listen to me.
I alone am the LORD,
the first and the last.
13With my own hand
I created the earth
and stretched out the sky.
They obey my every command.

The LORD Speaks to the Nations

14Gather around me, all of you!
Listen to what I say.
Did any of your idols
predict this would happen?
Did they say that my friend [a] would do
what I want done
to Babylonia? [b]
15I was the one who chose him.
I have brought him this far,
and he will be successful.
16Come closer and listen!
I have never kept secret
the things I have said,
and I was here
before time began.
By the power of his Spirit
the LORD God has sent me

It Is Best To Obey the LORD

17with this message:
People of Israel,
I am the holy LORD God,
the one who rescues you.
For your own good,
I teach you,
and I lead you
along the right path.
18How I wish that you
had obeyed my commands!
Your success and good fortune
would then have overflowed
like a flooding river.
19Your nation would be blessed
with more people
than there are grains of sand
along the seashore.
And I would never have let
your country be destroyed.
20Now leave Babylon!
Celebrate as you go.
Be happy and shout
for everyone to hear,
"The LORD has rescued
his servant Israel!
21He led us through the desert
and made water flow from a rock
to satisfy our thirst.
22But the LORD has promised
that none who are evil
will live in peace."

Isaiah 49

The Work of the LORD's Servant

1Everyone, listen,
even you foreign nations
across the sea.
The LORD chose me
and gave me a name
before I was born.
2He made my words pierce
like a sharp sword
or a pointed arrow;
he kept me safely hidden
in the palm of his hand.
3The LORD said to me,
"Israel, you are my servant;
and because of you
I will be highly honored."
4I said to myself,
"I'm completely worn out;
my time has been wasted.
But I did it for the LORD God,
and he will reward me."
5Even before I was born,
the LORD God chose me
to serve him and to lead back
the people of Israel.
So the LORD has honored me
and made me strong.
6Now the LORD says to me,
"It isn't enough for you
to be merely my servant.
You must do more than lead back
from the tribes
of Israel.
I have placed you here as a light
for other nations;
you must take my saving power
to everyone on earth."

The LORD Will Rescue His People

7Israel, I am the holy LORD God,
the one who rescues you.
You are slaves of rulers
and of a nation
who despises you. [c]
Now this is what I promise:
Kings and rulers will honor you
by kneeling at your feet.
You can trust me! I am your LORD,
the holy God of Israel,
and you are my chosen ones.

The LORD Will Lead His People Home

8This is what the LORD says:
I will answer your prayers
because I have set a time
when I will help
by coming to save you.
I have chosen you
to take my promise of hope
to other nations. [d]
You will rebuild the country
from its ruins,
then people will come
and settle there.
9You will set prisoners free
from dark dungeons
to see the light of day.
On their way home,
they will find plenty to eat,
even on barren hills.
10They won't go hungry
or get thirsty;
they won't be bothered
by the scorching sun
or hot desert winds.
I will be merciful
while leading them along
to streams of water.
11I will level the mountains
and make roads.
12Then my people will return
from distant lands
in the north and the west
and from the city of Syene. [e]

The LORD's Mercy

13Tell the heavens and the earth
to celebrate and sing;
command every mountain
to join in the song.
The LORD's people have suffered,
but he has shown mercy
and given them comfort.
14The people of Zion said,
"The LORD has turned away
and forgotten us."
15The LORD answered,
"Could a mother forget a child
who nurses at her breast?
Could she fail to love an infant
who came from her own body?
Even if a mother could forget,
I will never forget you.
16A picture of your city
is drawn on my hand.
You are always in my thoughts!
17"Your city will be built faster
than it was destroyed [f]
-- those who attacked it
will retreat and leave.
18Look around! You will see
your people coming home.
As surely as I live,
I, the LORD, promise
that your city with its people
will be as lovely as a bride
wearing her jewelry."

Jerusalem's Bright Future

19Jerusalem is now in ruins!
Nothing is left of the city.
But it will be rebuilt
and soon overcrowded;
its cruel enemies
will be gone far away.
20Jerusalem is a woman
whose children were born
while she was in deep sorrow [g]
over the loss of her husband.
Now those children
will come and seek room
in the crowded city,
21and Jerusalem will ask,
"Am I really their mother?
How could I have given birth
when I was still mourning
in a foreign land?
Who raised these children?
Where have they come from?"
22The LORD God says:
"I will soon give a signal
for the nations
to return your sons
and your daughters
to the arms of Jerusalem.
23The kings and queens
of those nations
where they were raised
will come and bow down.
They will take care of you
just like a slave
taking care of a child.
Then you will know
that I am the LORD.
You won't be disappointed
if you trust me."

The LORD Is on Our Side

24Is it possible to rescue victims
from someone strong
and cruel? [h]
25But the LORD has promised
to fight on our side
and to rescue our children
from those strong
and violent enemies.
26He will make those cruel people
dine on their own flesh
and get drunk from drinking
their own blood.
Then everyone will know
that the LORD is our Savior;
the powerful God of Israel
has rescued his people.

Isaiah 50

The LORD's Power To Punish

1The LORD says, "Children,
I didn't divorce your mother
or sell you to pay debts;
I divorced her and sold you
because of your sins.
2I came and called out,
but you didn't answer.
Have I lost my power
to rescue and save?
At my command oceans and rivers
turn into deserts;
fish rot and stink
for lack of water.
3I make the sky turn dark
like the sackcloth
you wear at funerals."

God's Servant Must Suffer

4The LORD God gives me
the right words
to encourage the weary.
Each morning he awakens me
eager to learn his teaching;
5he made me willing to listen
and not rebel or run away.
6I let them beat my back
and pull out my beard.
I didn't turn aside
when they insulted me
and spit in my face.
7But the LORD God keeps me
from being disgraced.
So I refuse to give up,
because I know
God will never let me down.
8My protector is nearby;
no one can stand here
to accuse me of wrong.
9The LORD God will help me
and prove I am innocent.
My accusers will wear out
like moth-eaten clothes.
10None of you respect the LORD
or obey his servant.
You walk in the dark
instead of the light;
you don't trust the name
of the LORD your God. [i]
11Go ahead and walk in the light
of the fires you have set. [j]
But with his own hand,
the LORD will punish you
and make you suffer.

Isaiah 48:14 my friend: Probably Cyrus (see 44.28; 45.1).
Isaiah 48:14 Babylonia: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 14.
Isaiah 49:7 You. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 49:8 my. . . nations: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 49:12 Syene: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the Standard Hebrew Text "Sinim." The reference may be to modern Aswan, a city in southern Egypt.
Isaiah 49:17 Your city. . . destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 49:20 whose children. . . sorrow: These "children" are Jews who were born in foreign countries during the time that Jerusalem was in ruins. Jerusalem probably stands for all the cities in Judah that were destroyed by the Babylonians.
Isaiah 49:24 cruel: The Dead Sea Scrolls and two ancient translations; the Standard Hebrew Text "good."
Isaiah 50:10 God: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
Isaiah 50:11 Go. . . set: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Ephesians 4:17-32 (Contemporary English Version)

The Old Life and the New Life

17As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. 18Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, 19and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things.

20-21But that isn't what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him. 22You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. 23Let the Spirit change your way of thinking 24and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.

Rules for the New Life

25We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. 26Don't get so angry that you sin. Don't go to bed angry 27and don't give the devil a chance.

28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.

29Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.
30Don't make God's Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.
31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.

Psalm 69:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 69
(By David for the music leader. To the tune "Lilies.")

God Can Be Trusted

1Save me, God!
I am about to drown.
2I am sinking deep in the mud,
and my feet are slipping.
I am about to be swept under
by a mighty flood.
3I am worn out from crying,
and my throat is dry.
I have waited for you
till my eyes are blurred.
4There are more people
who hate me for no reason
than there are hairs
on my head.
Many terrible enemies
want to destroy me, God.
Am I supposed to give back
something I didn't steal?
5You know my foolish sins.
Not one is hidden from you.
6LORD God All-Powerful,
ruler of Israel,
don't let me embarrass anyone
who trusts and worships you.
7It is for your sake alone
that I am insulted
and blush with shame.
8I am like a stranger
to my relatives
and like a foreigner
to my own family.
9My love for your house
burns in me like a fire,
and when others insulted you,
they insulted me as well.
10I cried and went without food, [a]
but they still insulted me.
11They sneered at me
for wearing sackcloth [b]
to show my sorrow.
12Rulers and judges gossip
about me,
and drunkards make up songs
to mock me.
13But I pray to you, LORD.
So when the time is right,
answer me
and help me
with your wonderful love.
14Don't let me sink in the mud,
but save me from my enemies
and from the deep water.
15Don't let me be
swept away by a flood
or drowned in the ocean
or swallowed by death.
16Answer me, LORD!
You are kind and good.
Pay attention to me!
You are truly merciful.
17Don't turn away from me.
I am your servant,
and I am in trouble.
Please hurry and help!
18Come and save me
from my enemies.

Psalm 69:10 went without food: See the note at 35.13.
Psalm 69:11 sackcloth: See the note at 30.11.

Proverbs 24:5-6 (Contemporary English Version)


5 Wisdom brings strength,
and knowledge gives power.

6Battles are won
by listening to advice
and making a lot of plans.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bible Readings for September 25, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 45:11–48:11; Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 68:19-35; and Proverbs 24:3-4. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 45:11-48:11 (Contemporary English Version)

11I am the LORD, the Creator,
the holy God of Israel.
Do you dare question me
about my own nation
or about what I have done?
12I created the world
and covered it with people;
I stretched out the sky
and filled it with stars.
13I have done the right thing
by placing Cyrus in power,
and I will make the roads easy
for him to follow.
I am the LORD All-Powerful!
Cyrus will rebuild my city
and set my people free
without being paid a thing.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

The LORD Alone Can Save

14My people, I, the LORD, promise
that the riches of Egypt
and the treasures of Ethiopia [a]
will belong to you.
You will force into slavery
those tall people of Seba. [b]
They will bow down and say,
"The only true God is with you;
there are no other gods."
15People of Israel,
your God is a mystery,
though he alone can save.
16Anyone who makes idols
will be confused
and terribly disgraced.
17But Israel, I, the LORD,
will always keep you safe
and free from shame.

Everyone Is Invited

18The LORD alone is God!
He created the heavens
and made a world
where people can live,
instead of creating
an empty desert.
The LORD alone is God;
there are no others.
19The LORD did not speak
in a dark secret place
or command Jacob's descendants
to search for him in vain.
The LORD speaks the truth,
and this is what he says
20to every survivor
from every nation:
"Gather around me!
Learn how senseless it is
to worship wooden idols
or pray to helpless gods.
21"Why don't you get together
and meet me in court?
Didn't I tell you long ago
what would happen?
I am the only God!
There are no others.
I bring about justice,
and have the power to save.
22"I invite the whole world
to turn to me and be saved.
I alone am God!
No others are real.
23I have made a solemn promise,
one that won't be broken:
Everyone will bow down
and worship me.
24They will admit that I alone
can bring about justice.
Everyone who is angry with me
will be terribly ashamed
and will turn to me.
25I, the LORD, will give
victory and great honor
to the people of Israel."

Isaiah 46

Babylonia's Gods Are Helpless

The LORD said:
1The gods Bel and Nebo [c]
are down on their knees,
as wooden images of them
are carried away
on weary animals. [d]
2They are down on their knees
to rescue the heavy load,
but the images are still taken
to a foreign country.
3You survivors in Israel,
listen to me, the LORD.
Since the day you were born,
I have carried you along.
4I will still be the same
when you are old and gray,
and I will take care of you.
I created you. I will carry you
and always keep you safe.
5Can anyone compare with me?
Is anyone my equal?
6Some people hire a goldsmith
and give silver and gold
to be formed into an idol
for them to worship.
7They carry the idol
on their shoulders,
then put it on a stand,
but it cannot move.
They call out to the idol
when they are in trouble,
but it doesn't answer,
and it cannot help.
8Now keep this in mind, [e]
you sinful people.
And don't ever forget it.

The LORD Alone Is God

9I alone am God!
There are no other gods;
no one is like me.
Think about what happened
many years ago.
10From the very beginning,
I told what would happen
long before it took place.
I kept my word 11and brought
someone from a distant land
to do what I wanted.
He attacked from the east,
like a hawk swooping down.
Now I will keep my promise
and do what I planned.
12You people are stubborn
and far from being safe,
so listen to me.
13I will soon come to save you.
I am not far away
and will waste no time;
I take pride in Israel
and will save Jerusalem.

Isaiah 47

Babylon Will Fall

The LORD said:
1City of Babylon,
You are delicate
and untouched,
but that will change.
Surrender your royal power
and sit in the dirt.
2Start grinding grain!
Take off your veil.
Strip off your fancy clothes
and cross over rivers. [f]
3You will suffer the shame
of going naked,
because I will take revenge,
and no one can escape. [g]
4I am the LORD All-Powerful,
the holy God of Israel.
I am their Savior.
5Babylon, be silent!
Sit in the dark.
No longer will nations
accept you as their queen.
6I was angry with my people.
So I let you take their land
and bring disgrace on them.
You showed them no mercy,
but were especially cruel
to those who were old.
7You thought that you
would be queen forever.
You didn't care what you did;
it never entered your mind
that you might get caught.
8You think that you alone
are all-powerful,
that you won't be a widow
or lose your children.
All you care about is pleasure,
but listen to what I say.
9Your magic powers and charms
will suddenly fail,
then you will be a widow
and lose your children.
10You hid behind evil
like a shield and said,
"No one can see me!"
You were fooled by your wisdom
and your knowledge;
you felt sure that you alone
were in full control.
11But without warning,
disaster will strike--
and your magic charms
won't help at all.
12Keep using your magic powers
and your charms
as you have always done.
Maybe--just maybe--
you will frighten somebody!
13You have worn yourself out,
asking for advice
from those who study the stars
and tell the future
month after month.
Go ask them how to be saved
from what will happen.
14People who trust the stars
are as helpless
as straw
in a flaming fire.
No one can even keep warm, [h]
sitting by a fire
that feeds only on straw.
15These are the fortunetellers
you have done business with
all of your life.
But they don't know
where they are going,
and they can't save you.

Isaiah 48

The LORD Corrects His People

1People of Israel,
you come from Jacob's family
and the tribe [i] of Judah.
You claim to worship me,
the LORD God of Israel,
but you are lying.
2You call Jerusalem your home
and say you depend on me,
the LORD All-Powerful,
the God of Israel.
3Long ago I announced
what was going to be,
then without warning,
I made it happen.
4I knew you were stubborn
and hardheaded.
5And I told you these things,
so that when they happened
you would not say,
"The idols we worship did this."
6You heard what I said,
and you have seen it happen.
Now admit that it's true!
I will show you secrets
you have never known.
7Today I am doing something new,
something you cannot say
you have heard before.
8You have never been willing
to listen to what I say;
from the moment of your birth,
I knew you would rebel.

The LORD Warns Israel

9I, the LORD, am true to myself;
I will be praised
for not punishing
and destroying you.
10I tested you in hard times
just as silver is refined
in a heated furnace. [j]
11I did this because of who I am.
I refuse to be dishonored [k]
or share my praise
with any other god.

Isaiah 45:14 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11.
Isaiah 45:14 Seba: See the note at 43.3.
Isaiah 46:1 Bel and Nebo: Bel was another name for Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonians. Nebo was the son of Marduk and also an important god.
Isaiah 46:1 as. . . animals: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 46:8 Now. . . mind: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 47:2 Strip. . . rivers: This may be a command to get ready for work that requires wading in the river, or it may be a warning that they are going to be taken away as slaves.
Isaiah 47:3 escape: Or "oppose me."
Isaiah 47:14 keep warm: Or "cook food."
Isaiah 48:1 tribe: Hebrew "waters."
Isaiah 48:10 furnace: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
Isaiah 48:11 I refuse to be dishonored: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Ephesians 4:1-16 (Contemporary English Version)

Ephesians 4

Unity with Christ

1As a prisoner of the Lord, I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. 2Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. 3Try your best to let God's Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. 4All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God's people. 5We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. 6There is one God who is the Father of all people. Not only is God above all others, but he works by using all of us, and he lives in all of us.

7Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us. 8As the Scriptures say,
"When he went up
to the highest place,
he led away many prisoners
and gave gifts to people."

9When it says, "he went up," it means that Christ had been deep in the earth. 10This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe.

11Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, 12so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. 13This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. [a] 14We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. 15Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head 16of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love.

Ephesians 4:13 and we will be completely like him: Or and he is completely perfect.

Psalm 68:19-35 (Contemporary English Version)

19We praise you, Lord God!
You treat us with kindness
day after day,
and you rescue us.
20You always protect us
and save us from death.
21Our Lord and our God,
your terrible enemies
are ready for war, [a]
but you will crush
their skulls.
22You promised to bring them
from Bashan
and from the deepest sea.
23Then we could stomp
on their blood,
and our dogs could chew
on their bones.
24We have seen crowds marching
to your place of worship,
our God and King.
25The singers come first,
and then the musicians,
surrounded by young women
playing tambourines.
26They come shouting,
"People of Israel,
praise the LORD God!"
27The small tribe of Benjamin
leads the way,
followed by the leaders
from Judah.
Then come the leaders
from Zebulun and Naphtali.
28Our God, show your strength!
Show us once again.
29Then kings will bring gifts
to your temple
in Jerusalem. [b]
30Punish that animal
that lives in the swamp! [c]
Punish that nation
whose leaders and people
are like wild bulls.
Make them come crawling
with gifts of silver.
Scatter those nations
that enjoy making war. [d]
31Force the Egyptians to bring
gifts of bronze;
make the Ethiopians [e]
hurry to offer presents. [f]
32Now sing praises to God!
Every kingdom on earth,
sing to the Lord!
33Praise the one who rides
across the ancient skies;
listen as he speaks
with a mighty voice.
34Tell about God's power!
He is honored in Israel,
and he rules the skies.
35The God of Israel is fearsome
in his temple,
and he makes us strong.
Let's praise our God!

Psalm 68:21 are ready for war: The Hebrew text has " have long hair," which probably refers to the ancient custom of wearing long hair on special occasions, such as a " holy war."
Psalm 68:29 Our God. . . Jerusalem: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 28,29.
Psalm 68:30 animal. . . swamp: Probably Egypt.
Psalm 68:30 war: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 30.
Psalm 68:31 the Ethiopians: The Hebrew text has " the people of Cush," which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan.
Psalm 68:31 presents: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 31.

Proverbs 24:3-4 (Contemporary English Version)


3 Use wisdom and understanding
to establish your home;
4let good sense fill the rooms
with priceless treasures.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bible Readings for September 24, 2011

Today our passages are Isaiah 43:14–45:10; Ephesians 3:1-21; Psalm 68:1-18; and Proverbs 24:1-2. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Isaiah 43:14-45:10 (Contemporary English Version)

The LORD Will Prepare the Way

14I, the LORD, will rescue you!
I am Israel's holy God,
and this is my promise:
For your sake, I will send
an army against Babylon
to drag its people away,
crying as they go. [a]
15I am the LORD, your holy God,
Israel's Creator and King.
16I am the one who cut a path
through the mighty ocean.
17I sent an army to chase you
with chariots and horses;
now they lie dead,
unable to move.
They are like an oil lamp
with the flame snuffed out.

Forget the Past

The LORD said:
18Forget what happened long ago!
Don't think about the past.
19I am creating something new.
There it is! Do you see it?
I have put roads in deserts,
streams [b] in thirsty lands.
20Every wild animal honors me,
even jackals [c] and owls.
I provide water in deserts--
streams in thirsty lands
for my chosen people.
21I made them my own nation,
so they would praise me.
22I, the LORD, said to Israel:
You have become weary,
but not from worshiping me.
23You have not honored me
by sacrificing sheep
or other animals.
And I have not burdened you
with demands for sacrifices
or sweet-smelling incense.
24You have not brought
delicious spices for me
or given me the best part
of your sacrificed animals.
Instead, you burden me down
with your terrible sins.
25But I wipe away your sins
because of who I am.
And so, I will forget
the wrongs you have done.
26Meet me in court!
State your case
and prove
that you are right.
27Your earliest ancestor [d]
and all of your leaders [e]
rebelled against me.
28That's why I don't allow
your priests to serve me;
I let Israel be destroyed
and your people disgraced.

Isaiah 44

The LORD's Promise to Israel

1People of Israel,
I have chosen you
as my servant.
2I am your Creator.
You were in my care
even before you were born.
Israel, don't be terrified!
You are my chosen servant,
my very favorite. [f]
3I will bless the thirsty land
by sending streams of water;
I will bless your descendants
by giving them my Spirit.
4They will spring up like grass [g]
or like willow trees
near flowing streams.
5They will worship me
and become my people.
They will write my name
on the back of their hands. [h]
6I am the LORD All-Powerful,
the first and the last,
the one and only God.
Israel, I have rescued you!
I am your King.
7Can anyone compare with me?
If so, let them speak up
and tell me now.
Let them say what has happened
since I made my nation
long ago,
and let them tell
what is going to happen. [i]
8Don't tremble with fear!
Didn't I tell you long ago?
Didn't you hear me?
I alone am God--
no one else is a mighty rock. [j]

Idols Can't Do a Thing

The LORD said:
9Those people who make idols
are nothing themselves,
and the idols they treasure
are just as worthless.
Worshipers of idols are blind,
stupid, and foolish.
10Why make an idol or an image
that can't do a thing?
11Everyone who makes idols
and all who worship them
are mere humans,
who will end up
sadly disappointed.
Let them face me in court
and be terrified.

Idols and Firewood

12A metalworker shapes an idol
by using a hammer [k]
and heat from the fire.
In his powerful hand
he holds a hammer,
as he pounds the metal
into the proper shape.
But he gets hungry and thirsty
and loses his strength.
13Some woodcarver measures
a piece of wood,
then draws an outline.
The idol is carefully carved
with each detail exact.
At last it looks like a person
and is placed in a temple.
14Either cedar, cypress, oak,
or any tree from the forest
may be chosen.
Or even a pine tree planted
by the woodcarver
and watered by the rain.
15Some of the wood is used
to make a fire for heating
or for cooking.
One piece is made into an idol,
then the woodcarver bows down
and worships it.
16He enjoys the warm fire
and the meat that was roasted
over the burning coals.
17Afterwards, he bows down
to worship the wooden idol.
"Protect me!" he says.
"You are my god."

18Those who worship idols are stupid and blind! 19They don't have enough sense to say to themselves, "I made a fire with half of the wood and cooked my bread and meat on it. Then I made something worthless with the other half. Why worship a block of wood?"

20How can anyone be stupid enough to trust something that can be burned to ashes? [l] No one can save themselves like that. Don't they realize that the idols they hold in their hands are not really gods?

The LORD Won't Forget His People

21People of Israel,
you are my servant,
so remember all of this.
Israel, I created you,
and you are my servant.
I won't forget you. [m]
22Turn back to me!
I have rescued you
and swept away your sins
as though they were clouds.

Sing Praises to the LORD

23Tell the heavens and the earth
to start singing!
Tell the mountains
and every tree in the forest
to join in the song!
The LORD has rescued his people;
now they will worship him.

The LORD Created Everything

24Israel, I am your LORD.
I am your source of life,
and I have rescued you.
I created everything
from the sky above
to the earth below.
25I make liars of false prophets
and fools of fortunetellers.
I take human wisdom
and turn it into nonsense.
26I will make the message
of my prophets come true.
They are saying, "Jerusalem
will be filled with people,
and the LORD will rebuild
the towns of Judah."
27I am the one who commands
the sea and its streams
to run dry.
28I am also the one who says,
"Cyrus will lead my people
and obey my orders.
Jerusalem and the temple
will be rebuilt."

Isaiah 45

Cyrus Obeys the LORD's Commands

1The LORD said to Cyrus, his chosen one:
I have taken hold
of your right hand
to help you capture nations
and remove kings from power.
City gates will open for you;
not one will stay closed.
2As I lead you,
I will level mountains [n]
and break the iron bars
on bronze gates of cities.
3I will give you treasures
hidden in dark
and secret places.
Then you will know that I,
the LORD God of Israel,
have called you by name.
4Cyrus, you don't even know me!
But I have called you by name
and highly honored you [o]
because of Israel,
my chosen servant.
5Only I am the LORD!
There are no other gods.
I have made you strong,
though you don't know me.
6Now everyone from east to west
will learn that I am the LORD.
No other gods are real.
7I create light and darkness,
happiness and sorrow.
I, the LORD, do all of this.
8Tell the heavens
to send down justice
like showers of rain.
Prepare the earth
for my saving power
to sprout
and produce justice
that I, the LORD, create. [p]

The LORD's Mighty Power

The LORD said:
9Israel, you have no right
to argue with your Creator.
You are merely a clay pot
shaped by a potter.
The clay doesn't ask,
"Why did you make me this way?
Where are the handles?"
10Children don't have the right
to demand of their parents,
"What have you done
to make us what we are?"

Isaiah 43:14 crying as they go: Or "in their glorious ships."
Isaiah 43:19 streams: The Standard Hebrew Text; the Dead Sea Scrolls "paths."
Isaiah 43:20 jackals: Desert animals related to wolves, but smaller.
Isaiah 43:27 earliest ancestor: Jacob, also known as Israel.
Isaiah 43:27 leaders: Probably prophets, but perhaps also priests and kings.
Isaiah 44:2 my very favorite: Or "Jeshurun."
Isaiah 44:4 like grass: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 44:5 write. . . hands: To show that they belong to the LORD and to Israel.
Isaiah 44:7 Let them say. . . happen: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 44:8 mighty rock: See the note at 17.10.
Isaiah 44:12 by using a hammer: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 44:20 How. . . ashes: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 44:21 I won't forget you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 45:2 mountains: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text "rising waves."
Isaiah 45:4 But. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Isaiah 45:8 Prepare. . . create: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Ephesians 3:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Ephesians 3

Paul's Mission to the Gentiles

1Christ Jesus made me his prisoner, so that I could help you Gentiles. 2You have surely heard about God's kindness in choosing me to help you. 3In fact, this letter tells you a little about how God has shown me his mysterious ways. 4As you read the letter, you will also find out how well I really do understand the mystery about Christ. 5No one knew about this mystery until God's Spirit told it to his holy apostles and prophets. 6And the mystery is this: Because of Christ Jesus, the good news has given the Gentiles a share in the promises that God gave to the Jews. God has also let the Gentiles be part of the same body.

7God treated me with kindness. His power worked in me, and it became my job to spread the good news. 8I am the least important of all God's people. But God was kind and chose me to tell the Gentiles that because of Christ there are blessings that cannot be measured. 9God, who created everything, wanted me to help everyone understand the mysterious plan that had always been hidden in his mind. 10Then God would use the church to show the powers and authorities in the spiritual world that he has many different kinds of wisdom.

11God did this according to his eternal plan. And he was able to do what he had planned because of all that Christ Jesus our Lord had done. 12Christ now gives us courage and confidence, so that we can come to God by faith. 13That's why you should not be discouraged when I suffer for you. After all, it will bring honor to you.

Christ's Love for Us

14I kneel in prayer to the Father. 15All beings in heaven and on earth receive their life from him. [a] 16God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers 17and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love. 18I pray that you and all of God's people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep. [b] 19I want you to know all about Christ's love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is. 20-21I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.

Ephesians 3:15 receive their life from him: Or know who they really are because of him.
Ephesians 3:18 what is called wide or long or high or deep: This may refer to the heavenly Jerusalem or to God's love or wisdom or to the meaning of the cross.

Psalm 68:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 68
(A psalm and a song by David for the music leader.)

God Will Win the Battle

1Do something, God!
Scatter your hateful enemies.
Make them turn and run.
2Scatter them like smoke!
When you come near,
make them melt
like wax in a fire.
3But let your people be happy
and celebrate because of you.
4Our God, you are the one
who rides on the clouds,
and we praise you.
Your name is the LORD,
and we celebrate
as we worship you.
5Our God, from your sacred home
you take care of orphans
and protect widows.
6You find families
for those who are lonely.
You set prisoners free
and let them prosper, [a]
but all who rebel will live
in a scorching desert.
7You set your people free,
and you led them
through the desert.
8God of Israel,
the earth trembled,
and rain poured down.
You alone are the God
who rules from Mount Sinai.
9When your land was thirsty,
you sent showers
to refresh it.
10Your people settled there,
and you were generous
to everyone in need.
11You gave the command,
and a chorus of women told
what had happened:
12"Kings and their armies
retreated and ran,
and everything they left
is now being divided.
13And for those who stayed back
to guard the sheep,
there are metal doves
with silver-coated wings
and shiny gold feathers."
14God All-Powerful, you scattered
the kings
like snow falling
on Mount Zalmon. [b]
15Our LORD and our God,
Bashan is a mighty mountain
covered with peaks.
16Why is it jealous of Zion,
the mountain you chose
as your home forever?
17When you, LORD God, appeared
to your people [c]
at Sinai, you came with thousands
of mighty chariots.
18When you climbed
the high mountain,
you took prisoners with you
and were given gifts.
Your enemies didn't want you
to live there,
but they gave you gifts.

Psalm 68:6 and let them prosper: Or " and give them a song."
Psalm 68:14 Mount Zalmon: The location of this mountain is not known.
Psalm 68:17 to your people: Or " in all your holiness" or " in your holy place."

Proverbs 24:1-2 (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 24


1 Don't be jealous of crooks
or want to be their friends.
2All they think about
and talk about
is violence and cruelty.