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.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bible Readings for November 30, 2011

Today our passages are Daniel 7:1-28; 1 John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:153-176; and Proverbs 28:23-24. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Daniel 7:1-28 (Contemporary English Version)

Daniel 7

Daniel's Vision of the Four Beasts

1-2Daniel wrote:

In the first year of King Belshazzar a] of Babylonia, I had some dreams and visions while I was asleep one night, and I wrote them down. The four winds were stirring up the mighty sea, 3when suddenly four powerful beasts came out of the sea. Each beast was different. 4The first was like a lion with the wings of an eagle. As I watched, its wings were pulled off. Then it was lifted to an upright position and made to stand on two feet, just like a human, and it was given a human mind.

5The second beast looked like a bear standing on its hind legs. b] It held three ribs in its teeth, and it was told, " Attack! Eat all the flesh you want." 6The third beast was like a leopard--except that it had four wings and four heads. It was given authority to rule.

7The fourth beast was stronger and more terrifying than the others. Its huge teeth were made of iron, and what it didn't grind with its teeth, it smashed with its feet. It was different from the others, and it had horns on its head--ten of them. 8Just as I was thinking about these horns, a smaller horn appeared, and three of the other horns were pulled up by the roots to make room for it. This horn had the eyes of a human and a mouth that spoke with great pride.


Daniel wrote:

9Thrones were set up
while I was watching,
and the Eternal God c]
took his place.
His clothing and his hair
were white as snow.
His throne was a blazing fire
with fiery wheels,
10and flames were dashing out
from all around him.
Countless thousands
were standing there
to serve him.
The time of judgment began,
and the books d] were opened.

11I watched closely to see what would happen to this smaller horn because of the arrogant things it was saying. Then before my very eyes, the fourth beast was killed and its body destroyed by fire. 12The other three beasts had their authority taken from them, but they were allowed to live a while longer. e] 13As I continued to watch the vision that night, I saw what looked like
a son of man f] coming with the clouds of heaven,
and he was presented
to the Eternal God. g]
14He was crowned king
and given power and glory,
so that all people
of every nation and race
would serve him.
He will rule forever,
and his kingdom is eternal,
never to be destroyed.

The Meaning of Daniel's Vision

15Daniel wrote:

I was terrified by these visions, and I didn't know what to think. 16So I asked one of those standing there, h] and he explained, 17" The four beasts are four earthly kingdoms. 18But God Most High will give his kingdom to his chosen ones, and it will be theirs forever and ever." 19I wanted to know more about the fourth beast, i] because it was so different and much more terrifying than the others. What was the meaning of its iron teeth and bronze claws and of its feet that smashed what the teeth and claws had not ground and crushed? 20I also wanted to know more about all ten of those horns on its head. I especially wanted to know more about the one that took the place of three of the others--the horn that had eyes and spoke with arrogance and seemed greater than the others. 21While I was looking, this horn attacked God's chosen ones and was winning the battle. 22Then God Most High, the Eternal God, j] came and judged in favor of his chosen ones, because the time had arrived for them to be given the kingdom. 23Then I was told
by the one standing there:
" The fourth beast
will be a fourth kingdom
to appear on earth.
It will be different
from all the others--
it will trample the earth
and crush it to pieces.
24All ten of those horns are kings
who will come from this kingdom,
and one more will follow.
This horn will be different
from the others,
and it will conquer
three other kings.
25" This king will speak evil
of God Most High,
and he will be cruel
to God's chosen ones.
He will try to change God's Law
and the sacred seasons.
And he will be able to do this
for a time, two times,
and half a time. k]
26But he will finally be judged,
and his kingdom
completely destroyed.
27" Then the greatest kingdom of all
will be given
to the chosen ones
of God Most High.
His kingdom will be eternal,
and all others will serve
and obey him."

28That was what I saw and heard. I turned pale with fear and kept it all to myself.

Daniel 7:1 first year of King Belshazzar: 554 B.C.
Daniel 7:5 standing on its hind legs: Or " higher on one side than the other" or " with a paw lifted up."
Daniel 7:9 Eternal God: Aramaic " Ancient of Days."
Daniel 7:10 books: Containing the record of the good and evil that each person has done.
Daniel 7:12 a while longer: Aramaic " for a time and a season."
Daniel 7:13 son of man: Or " human." In Aramaic " son of man" may mean a human or even " oneself" (" I" or " me" ). Jesus often used the phrase " the Son of Man" when referring to himself.
Daniel 7:13 Eternal God: See the note at 7.9.
Daniel 7:16 one of those standing there: Possibly an angel sent to interpret the visions or one of those thousands mentioned in verse 10.
Daniel 7:19 fourth beast: See verses 7,8.
Daniel 7:22 Eternal God: See the note at 7.9.
Daniel 7:25 for. . . time: Or " for a year, two years, and half a year."

1 John 1:1-10 (Contemporary English Version)

1 John 1

1The Word that gives life
was from the beginning,
and this is the one
our message is about.
Our ears have heard,
our own eyes have seen,
and our hands touched
this Word.

2The one who gives life appeared! We saw it happen, and we are witnesses to what we have seen. Now we are telling you about this eternal life that was with the Father and appeared to us. 3We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us. And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4We are writing to tell you these things, because this makes us a] truly happy.

God Is Light

5Jesus told us that God is light and doesn't have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you.

6If we say that we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. 7But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. 8If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn't in our hearts. 9But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.

10If we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and his message isn't in our hearts. b]

1 John 1:4 us: Some manuscripts have "you."
1 John 1:10 and his message isn't in our hearts: Or "because we have not accepted his message."

Psalm 119:153-176 (Contemporary English Version)

153I have not forgotten your Law!
Look at the trouble I am in,
and rescue me.
154Be my defender and protector!
Keep your promise
and save my life.
155Evil people won't obey you,
and so they have no hope
of being saved.
156You are merciful, LORD!
Please do the right thing
and save my life.
157I have a lot of brutal enemies,
but still I never turn
from your laws.
158All of those unfaithful people
who refuse to obey you
are disgusting to me.
159Remember how I love your laws,
and show your love for me
by keeping me safe.
160All you say can be trusted;
your teachings are true
and will last forever.
161Rulers are cruel to me
for no reason.
But with all my heart
I respect your words,
162because they bring happiness
like treasures taken in war.
163I can't stand liars,
but I love your Law.
164I praise you seven times a day
because your laws are fair.
165You give peace of mind
to all who love your Law.
Nothing can make them fall.
166You are my only hope
for being saved, LORD,
and I do all you command.
167I love and obey your laws
with all my heart.
168You know everything I do.
You know I respect every law
you have given.
169Please, LORD, hear my prayer
and give me the understanding
that comes from your word.
170Listen to my concerns
and keep me safe,
just as you have promised.
171If you will teach me your laws,
I will praise you 172and sing
about your promise,
because all of your teachings
are what they ought to be.
173Be ready to protect me
because I have chosen
to obey your laws.
174I am waiting for you
to save me, LORD.
Your Law makes me happy.
175Keep me alive,
so I can praise you,
and let me find help
in your teachings.
176I am your servant,
but I have wandered away
like a lost sheep.
Please come after me,
because I have not forgotten
your teachings.

Proverbs 28:23-24 (Contemporary English Version)

23Honest correction
is appreciated
more than flattery.
24If you cheat your parents
and don't think it's wrong,
you are a common thief.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bible Readings for November 29, 2011

Today our passages are Daniel 6:1-28; 2 Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 119:129-152; and Proverbs 28:21-22. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Daniel 6:1-28 (Contemporary English Version)

Daniel 6

Daniel in a Pit of Lions

1Darius divided his kingdom into a hundred and twenty states and placed a governor in charge of each one. 2In order to make sure that his government was run properly, Darius put three other officials in charge of the governors. One of these officials was Daniel. 3And he did his work so much better than the other governors and officials that the king decided to let him govern the whole kingdom.

4The other men tried to find something wrong with the way Daniel did his work for the king. But they could not accuse him of anything wrong, because he was honest and faithful and did everything he was supposed to do. 5Finally, they said to one another, " We will never be able to bring any charge against Daniel, unless it has to do with his religion."

6They all went to the king and said:
Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! 7All of your officials, leaders, advisors, and governors agree that you should make a law forbidding anyone to pray to any god or human except you for the next thirty days. Everyone who disobeys this law must be thrown into a pit of lions. 8Order this to be written and then sign it, so it cannot be changed, just as no written law of the Medes and Persians can be changed."

9So King Darius made the law and had it written down.

10Daniel heard about the law, but when he returned home, he went upstairs and prayed in front of the window that faced Jerusalem. In the same way that he had always done, he knelt down in prayer three times a day, giving thanks to God.

11The men who had spoken to the king watched Daniel and saw him praying to his God for help. 12They went back to the king and said, " Didn't you make a law that forbids anyone to pray to any god or human except you for the next thirty days? And doesn't the law say that everyone who disobeys it will be thrown into a pit of lions?"

" Yes, that's the law I made," the king agreed. " And just like all written laws of the Medes and Persians, it cannot be changed."

13The men then told the king, " That Jew named Daniel, who was brought here as a captive, refuses to obey you or the law that you ordered to be written. And he still prays to his god three times a day." 14The king was really upset to hear about this, and for the rest of the day he tried to think how he could save Daniel.

15At sunset the men returned and said, " Your Majesty, remember that no written law of the Medes and Persians can be changed, not even by the king."

16So Darius ordered Daniel to be brought out and thrown into a pit of lions. But he said to Daniel, " You have been faithful to your God, and I pray that he will rescue you."

17A stone was rolled over the pit, and it was sealed. Then Darius and his officials stamped the seal to show that no one should let Daniel out. 18All night long the king could not sleep. He did not eat anything, and he would not let anyone come in to entertain him.

19At daybreak the king got up and ran to the pit. 20He was anxious and shouted, " Daniel, you were faithful and served your God. Was he able to save you from the lions?"

21Daniel answered, " Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! 22My God knew that I was innocent, and he sent an angel to keep the lions from eating me. Your Majesty, I have never done anything to hurt you."

23The king was relieved to hear Daniel's voice, and he gave orders for him to be taken out of the pit. Daniel's faith in his God had kept him from being harmed. 24And the king ordered the men who had brought charges against Daniel to be thrown into the pit, together with their wives and children. But before they even reached the bottom, the lions ripped them to pieces.

25King Darius then sent this message to all people of every nation and race in the world:
" Greetings to all of you!
26I command everyone
in my kingdom
to worship and honor
the God of Daniel.
He is the living God,
the one who lives forever.
His power and his kingdom
will never end.
27He rescues people
and sets them free
by working great miracles.
Daniel's God has rescued him
from the power of the lions."

28All went well for Daniel while Darius was king, and even when Cyrus the Persian ruled. [a]

Daniel 6:28 Cyrus the Persian ruled: 539-530 B.C.

2 Peter 3:1-18 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Peter 3

The Lord Will Return

1My dear friends, this is the second letter I have written to encourage you to do some honest thinking. I don't want you to forget 2what God's prophets said would happen. You must never forget what the holy prophets taught in the past. And you must remember what the apostles told you our Lord and Savior has commanded us to do.

3But first you must realize that in the last days some people won't think about anything except their own selfish desires. They will make fun of you 4and say, "Didn't your Lord promise to come back? Yet the first leaders have already died, and the world hasn't changed a bit."

5They will say this because they want to forget that long ago the heavens and the earth were made at God's command. The earth came out of water and was made from water. 6Later it was destroyed by the waters of a mighty flood. 7But God has commanded the present heavens and earth to remain until the day of judgment. Then they will be set on fire, and ungodly people will be destroyed.

8Dear friends, don't forget that for the Lord one day is the same as a thousand years, and a thousand years is the same as one day. 9The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.

10The day of the Lord's return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. [a] Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. [b] 11Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. 12You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon. [c] On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire, and everything else will melt in the heat. 13But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that! 14My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace. 15Don't forget that the Lord is patient because he wants people to be saved. This is also what our dear friend Paul said when he wrote you with the wisdom that God had given him. 16Paul talks about these same things in all his letters, but part of what he says is hard to understand. Some ignorant and unsteady people even destroy themselves by twisting what he said. They do the same thing with other Scriptures too.
17My dear friends, you have been warned ahead of time! So don't let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance. 18Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen. [d]

2 Peter 3:10 the whole universe: Probably the sun, moon, and stars, or the elements that everything in the universe is made of.
2 Peter 3:10 will be seen for what they are: Some manuscripts have "will go up in flames."
2 Peter 3:12 and you should try to make it come soon: Or "and you should eagerly desire for that day to come."
2 Peter 3:18 Amen: Some manuscripts do not have "Amen."

Psalm 119:129-152 (Contemporary English Version)

129Your teachings are wonderful,
and I respect them all.
130Understanding your word
brings light
to the minds
of ordinary people.
131I honestly want to know
everything you teach.
132Think about me and be kind,
just as you are to everyone
who loves your name.
133Keep your promise
and don't let me stumble
or let sin control my life.
134Protect me from abuse,
so I can obey your laws.
135Smile on me, your servant,
and teach me your laws.
136When anyone disobeys you,
my eyes overflow with tears.
137Our LORD, you always do right,
and your decisions are fair.
138All of your teachings are true
and trustworthy.
139It upsets me greatly
when my enemies neglect
your teachings.
140Your word to me, your servant,
is like pure gold;
I treasure what you say.
141Everyone calls me a nobody,
but I remember your laws.
142You will always do right,
and your teachings are true.
143I am in deep distress,
but I love your teachings.
144Your rules are always fair.
Help me to understand them
and live.
145I pray to you, LORD!
Please answer me.
I promise to obey your laws.
146I beg you to save me,
so I can follow your rules.
147Even before sunrise,
I pray for your help,
and I put my hope
in what you have said.
148I lie awake at night,
thinking of your promises.
149Show that you love me, LORD,
and answer my prayer.
Please do the right thing
and save my life.
150People who disobey your Law
have made evil plans
and want to hurt me,
151but you are with me,
and all of your commands
can be trusted.
152From studying your laws,
I found out long ago
that you made them
to last forever.

Proverbs 28:21-22 (Contemporary English Version)

21It isn't right to be unfair,
but some people can be bribed
with only a piece of bread.
22Don't be selfish
and eager to get rich--
you will end up worse off
than you can imagine.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bible Readings for November 28, 2011

Today our passages are Daniel 5:1-31; 2 Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128; and Proverbs 28:19-20. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Daniel 5:1-31 (Contemporary English Version)

Daniel 5

King Belshazzar's Banquet

1One evening, King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his highest officials, and he drank wine with them. 2He got drunk and ordered his servants to bring in the gold and silver cups his father Nebuchadnezzar [a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Belshazzar wanted the cups, so that he and all his wives and officials could drink from them. 3-4When the gold cups were brought in, everyone at the banquet drank from them and praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
5Suddenly a human hand was seen writing on the plaster wall of the palace. The hand was just behind the lampstand, and the king could see it writing. 6He was so frightened that his face turned pale, his knees started shaking, and his legs became weak.

7The king called in his advisors, who claimed they could talk with the spirits of the dead and understand the meanings found in the stars. He told them, " The man who can read this writing and tell me what it means will become the third most powerful man in my kingdom. He will wear robes of royal purple and a gold chain around his neck."

8All of King Belshazzar's highest officials came in, but not one of them could read the writing or tell what it meant, 9and they were completely puzzled. Now the king was more afraid than ever before, and his face turned white as a ghost.

10When the queen heard the king and his officials talking, she came in and said:

Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! Don't be afraid or look so pale. 11In your kingdom there is a man who has been given special powers by the holy gods. When your father Nebuchadnezzar was king, this man was known to be as smart, intelligent, and wise as the gods themselves. Your father put him in charge of all who claimed they could talk with the spirits or understand the meanings in the stars or tell about the future. 12He also changed the man's name from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Not only is he wise and intelligent, but he can explain dreams and riddles and solve difficult problems. Send for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.

13When Daniel was brought in, the king said:

So you are Daniel, one of the captives my father brought back from Judah! 14I was told that the gods have given you special powers and that you are intelligent and very wise. 15Neither my advisors nor the men who talk with the spirits of the dead could read this writing or tell me what it means. 16But I have been told that you understand everything and that you can solve difficult problems. Now then, if you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will become the third most powerful man in my kingdom. You will wear royal purple robes and have a gold chain around your neck.

17Daniel answered:

Your Majesty, I will read the writing and tell you what it means. But you may keep your gifts or give them to someone else. 18Sir, the Most High God made your father a great and powerful man and brought him much honor and glory. 19God did such great things for him that people of all nations and races shook with fear.
Your father had the power of life or death over everyone, and he could honor or ruin anyone he chose. 20But when he became proud and stubborn, his glorious kingdom was taken from him. 21His mind became like that of an animal, and he was forced to stay away from people and live with wild donkeys. Your father ate grass like an ox, and he slept outside where his body was soaked with dew. He was forced to do this until he learned that the Most High God rules all kingdoms on earth and chooses their kings.

22King Belshazzar, you knew all of this, but you still refused to honor the Lord who rules from heaven. 23Instead, you turned against him and ordered the cups from his temple to be brought here, so that you and your wives and officials could drink wine from them. You praised idols made of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, even though they cannot see or hear or think. You refused to worship the God who gives you breath and controls everything you do. 24That's why he sent the hand to write this message on the wall.
25-28The words written there are mene, which means " numbered," tekel, which means " weighed," and parsin, [b] which means " divided." God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has brought it to an end. He has weighed you on his balance scales, and you fall short of what it takes to be king. So God has divided your kingdom between the Medes and the Persians. 29Belshazzar gave a command for Daniel to be made the third most powerful man in his kingdom and to be given a purple robe and a gold chain.

30That same night, the king was killed. 31Then Darius the Mede, who was sixty-two years old, took over his kingdom.

Daniel 5:2 his father Nebuchadnezzar: Belshazzar was actually the son of King Nabonidus, who was from another family. But in ancient times, it was possible to refer to a previous king as the " father" of the present king.
Daniel 5:25 mene. . . tekel. . . parsin: In the Aramaic text of verse 25, the words " mene, tekel, parsin," are used, and in verses 26-28 the words " mene, tekel, peres" (the singular of " parsin" ) are used. " Parsin" means " divided," but " peres" can mean either " divided" or " Persia."

2 Peter 2:1-22 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Peter 2

False Prophets and Teachers

1Sometimes false prophets spoke to the people of Israel. False teachers will also sneak in and speak harmful lies to you. But these teachers don't really belong to the Master who paid a great price for them, and they will quickly destroy themselves. 2Many people will follow their evil ways and cause others to tell lies about the true way. 3They will be greedy and cheat you with smooth talk. But long ago God decided to punish them, and God doesn't sleep.

4God did not have pity on the angels that sinned. He had them tied up and thrown into the dark pits of hell until the time of judgment. 5And during Noah's time, God did not have pity on the ungodly people of the world. He destroyed them with a flood, though he did save eight people, including Noah, who preached the truth.

6God punished the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah [a] by burning them to ashes, and this is a warning to anyone else who wants to sin. 7-8Lot lived right and was greatly troubled by the terrible way those wicked people were living. He was a good man, and day after day he suffered because of the evil things he saw and heard. So the Lord rescued him. 9This shows that the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their sufferings and to punish evil people while they wait for the day of judgment.

10The Lord is especially hard on people who disobey him and don't think of anything except their own filthy desires. They are reckless and proud and are not afraid of cursing the glorious beings in heaven. 11Although angels are more powerful than these evil beings, [b] even the angels don't dare to accuse them to the Lord. 12These people are no better than senseless animals that live by their feelings and are born to be caught and killed. They speak evil of things they don't know anything about. But their own corrupt deeds will destroy them. 13They have done evil, and they will be rewarded with evil.

They think it is fun to have wild parties during the day. They are immoral, and the meals they eat with you are spoiled by the shameful and selfish way they carry on. [c] 14All they think about is having sex with someone else's husband or wife. There is no end to their wicked deeds. They trick people who are easily fooled, and their minds are filled with greedy thoughts. But they are headed for trouble! 15They have left the true road and have gone down the wrong path by following the example of the prophet Balaam. He was the son of Beor and loved what he got from being a crook. 16But a donkey corrected him for this evil deed. It spoke to him with a human voice and made him stop his foolishness.

17These people are like dried up water holes and clouds blown by a windstorm. The darkest part of hell is waiting for them. 18They brag out loud about their stupid nonsense. And by being vulgar and crude, they trap people who have barely escaped from living the wrong kind of life. 19They promise freedom to everyone. But they are merely slaves of filthy living, because people are slaves of whatever controls them.

20When they learned about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they escaped from the filthy things of this world. But they are again caught up and controlled by these filthy things, and now they are in worse shape than they were at first. 21They would have been better off if they had never known about the right way. Even after they knew what was right, they turned their backs on the holy commandments that they were given. 22What happened to them is just like the true saying,
"A dog will come back
to lick up its own vomit.
A pig that has been washed
will roll in the mud."

2 Peter 2:6 Sodom and Gomorrah: During the time of Abraham the Lord destroyed these cities because the people there were so evil (see Genesis 19.24).
2 Peter 2:11 evil beings: Or "evil teachers."
2 Peter 2:13 and the meals they eat with you are spoiled by the shameful and selfish way they carry on: Some manuscripts have "and the meals they eat with you are spoiled by the shameful way they carry on during your feasts of Christian love."

Psalm 119:113-128 (Contemporary English Version)

113I hate anyone
whose loyalty is divided,
but I love your Law.
114You are my place of safety
and my shield.
Your word is my only hope.
115All of you worthless people,
get away from me!
I am determined to obey
the commands of my God.
116Be true to your word, LORD.
Keep me alive and strong;
don't let me be ashamed
because of my hope.
117Keep me safe and secure,
so that I will always
respect your laws.
118You reject all deceitful liars
because they refuse
your teachings.
119As far as you are concerned,
all evil people are [a] garbage,
and so I follow your rules.
120I tremble all over
when I think of you
and the way you judge.
121I did what was fair and right!
Don't hand me over to those
who want to mistreat me.
122Take good care of me,
your servant,
and don't let me be harmed
by those conceited people.
123My eyes are weary from waiting
to see you keep your promise
to come and save me.
124Show your love for me,
your servant,
and teach me your laws.
125I serve you,
so let me understand
your teachings.
126Do something, LORD!
They have broken your Law.
127Your laws mean more to me
than the finest gold.
128I follow all of your commands, [b]
but I hate anyone
who leads me astray.

Psalm 119:119 As far as. . . are: A few Hebrew manuscripts and ancient translations. Most Hebrew manuscripts have " You get rid of evil people as if they were."
Psalm 119:128 I. . . commands: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 28:19-20 (Contemporary English Version)

19Work hard, and you will have
a lot of food;
waste time, and you will have
a lot of trouble.
20God blesses his loyal people,
but punishes all who want
to get rich quick.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bible Readings for November 26, 2011

Today our passages are Daniel 2:24–3:30; 1 Peter 4:7–5:14; Psalm 119:81-96; and Proverbs 28:15-16. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Daniel 2:24-3:30 (Contemporary English Version)

Daniel Interprets the Dream

24Daniel went back to Arioch, the official in charge of executing the wise men. Daniel said, " Don't kill those men! Take me to the king, and I will explain the meaning of his dream."

25Arioch rushed Daniel to the king and announced, " Your Majesty, I have found out that one of the men brought here from Judah can explain your dream."

26The king asked Daniel, [a] " Can you tell me my dream and what it means?" 27Daniel answered:

Your Majesty, not even the smartest person in all the world can do what you are demanding. 28-29But the God who rules from heaven can explain mysteries. And while you were sleeping, he showed you what will happen in the future. 30However, you must realize that these mysteries weren't explained to me because I am smarter than everyone else. Instead, it was done so that you would understand what you have seen.

31Your Majesty, what you saw standing in front of you was a huge and terrifying statue, shining brightly. 32Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were silver, and from its waist down to its knees, it was bronze. 33From there to its ankles it was iron, and its feet were a mixture of iron and clay.

34As you watched, a stone was cut from a mountain--but not by human hands. The stone struck the feet, completely shattering the iron and clay. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed and blown away without a trace, like husks of wheat at threshing time. But the stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire earth.

36That was the dream, and now I'll tell you what it means. 37Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings, and God has highly honored you with power 38over all humans, animals, and birds. You are the head of gold. 39After you are gone, another kingdom will rule, but it won't be as strong. Then it will be followed by a kingdom of bronze that will rule the whole world. 40Next, a kingdom of iron will come to power, crushing and shattering everything. [b] 41-42This fourth kingdom will be divided--it will be both strong and brittle, just as you saw that the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. 43This kingdom will be the result of a marriage between kingdoms, but it will crumble, just as iron and clay don't stick together.

44-45During the time of those kings, the God who rules from heaven will set up an eternal kingdom that will never fall. It will be like the stone that was cut from the mountain, but not by human hands--the stone that crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. Your Majesty, in your dream the great God has told you what is going to happen, and you can trust this interpretation.

Daniel Is Promoted

46King Nebuchadnezzar bowed low to the ground and worshiped Daniel. Then he gave orders for incense to be burned and a sacrifice of grain to be offered in honor of Daniel. 47The king said, " Now I know that your God is above all other gods and kings, because he gave you the power to explain this mystery." 48The king then presented Daniel with a lot of gifts; he promoted him to governor of Babylon Province and put him in charge of the other wise men. 49At Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to high positions in Babylon Province, and he let Daniel stay on as a palace official.

Daniel 3

King Nebuchadnezzar's Gold Statue

1King Nebuchadnezzar ordered a gold statue to be built ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He had it set up in Dura Valley near the city of Babylon, 2and he commanded his governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, and his other officials to come from everywhere in his kingdom to the dedication of the statue. 3So all of them came and stood in front of it.

4Then an official stood up and announced:

People of every nation and race, now listen to the king's command! 5Trumpets, flutes, harps, and all other kinds of musical instruments will soon start playing. When you hear the music, you must bow down and worship the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6Anyone who refuses will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace.

7As soon as the people heard the music, they bowed down and worshiped the gold statue that the king had set up.

8Some Babylonians used this as a chance to accuse the Jews to King Nebuchadnezzar. 9They said, " Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! 10You commanded everyone to bow down and worship the gold statue when the music played. 11And you said that anyone who did not bow down and worship it would be thrown into a flaming furnace. 12Sir, you appointed three men to high positions in Babylon Province, but they have disobeyed you. Those Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship your gods and the statue you have set up."

13King Nebuchadnezzar was furious. So he sent for the three young men and said, 14" I hear that you refuse to worship my gods and the gold statue I have set up. 15Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don't, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me."

16The three men replied, " Your Majesty, we don't need to defend ourselves. 17The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. 18But even if he doesn't, we still won't worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up."

19Nebuchadnezzar's face twisted with anger at the three men. And he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20Next, he commanded some of his strongest soldiers to tie up the men and throw them into the flaming furnace. 21-23The king wanted it done at that very moment. So the soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and threw them into the flaming furnace with all of their clothes still on, including their turbans. The fire was so hot that flames leaped out and killed the soldiers.

24Suddenly the king jumped up and shouted, " Weren't only three men tied up and thrown into the fire?"
" Yes, Your Majesty," the people answered.

25" But I see four men walking around in the fire," the king replied. " None of them is tied up or harmed, and the fourth one looks like a god." [c] 26Nebuchadnezzar went closer to the flaming furnace and said to the three young men, " You servants of the Most High God, come out at once!"

They came out, 27and the king's high officials, governors, and advisors all crowded around them. The men were not burned, their hair wasn't scorched, and their clothes didn't even smell like smoke. 28King Nebuchadnezzar said:

Praise their God for sending an angel to rescue his servants! They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. 29And I won't allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God. Anyone who does will be chopped up and their houses will be torn down, because no other god has such great power to save.

30After this happened, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in Babylon Province.

Daniel 2:26 Daniel: Aramaic " Daniel whose name was Belteshazzar" (see 1.7).
Daniel 2:40 crushing. . . everything: Three ancient translations; Aramaic adds " and like iron crushing."
Daniel 3:25 a god: Aramaic, " a son of the gods."

1 Peter 4:7-5:14 (Contemporary English Version)

7Everything will soon come to an end. So be serious and be sensible enough to pray.

8Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.
9Welcome people into your home and don't grumble about it.

10Each of you has been blessed with one of God's many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. 11If you have the gift of speaking, preach God's message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever. Amen.

Suffering for Being a Christian

12Dear friends, don't be surprised or shocked that you are going through testing that is like walking through fire. 13Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when he makes his glorious return.

14Count it a blessing when you suffer for being a Christian. This shows that God's glorious Spirit is with you. 15But you deserve to suffer if you are a murderer, a thief, a crook, or a busybody. 16Don't be ashamed to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God that you belong to him. 17God has already begun judging his own people. And if his judgment begins with us, imagine how terrible it will be for those who refuse to obey his message. The Scriptures say,
18"If good people barely escape,
what will happen to sinners
and to others
who don't respect God?"

19If you suffer for obeying God, you must have complete faith in your faithful Creator and keep on doing right.

1 Peter 5

Helping Christian Leaders

1Church leaders, [a] I am writing to encourage you. I too am a leader, as well as a witness to Christ's suffering, and I will share in his glory when it is shown to us. 2Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money. 3Don't be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them. 4Then when Christ the Chief Shepherd returns, you will be given a crown that will never lose its glory.

5All of you young people should obey your elders. In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else. The Scriptures say,
"God opposes proud people,
but he helps everyone
who is humble."

6Be humble in the presence of God's mighty power, and he will honor you when the time comes. 7God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.

8Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. 9But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith. You know that all over the world the Lord's followers are suffering just as you are. 10But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That's why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm. 11God will be in control forever! Amen.

Final Greetings

12Silvanus helped me write this short letter, and I consider him a faithful follower of the Lord. I wanted to encourage you and tell you how kind God really is, so that you will keep on having faith in him.
13Greetings from the Lord's followers in Babylon. [b] They are God's chosen ones. Mark, who is like a son to me, sends his greetings too.
14Give each other a warm greeting. I pray that God will give peace to everyone who belongs to Christ. [c]

1 Peter 5:1 Church leaders: Or "Elders" or "Presbyters" or "Priests."
1 Peter 5:13 Babylon: This may be a secret name for the city of Rome.
1 Peter 5:14 Christ: Some manuscripts add "Amen."

Psalm 119:81-96 (Contemporary English Version)

81I long for you to rescue me!
Your word is my only hope.
82I am worn out from waiting
for you to keep your word.
When will you have mercy?
83My life is wasting away
like a dried-up wineskin, [a]
but I have not forgotten
your teachings.
84I am your servant!
How long must I suffer?
When will you punish
those troublemakers?
85Those proud people reject
your teachings,
and they dig pits
for me to fall in.
86Your laws can be trusted!
Protect me from cruel liars.
87They have almost killed me,
but I have been faithful
to your teachings.
88Show that you love me
and let me live,
so that I may obey all
of your commands.
89Our LORD, you are eternal!
Your word will last as long
as the heavens. [b]
90You remain faithful
in every generation,
and the earth you created
will keep standing firm.
91All things are your servants,
and the laws you made
are still in effect today.
92If I had not found happiness
in obeying your Law,
I would have died in misery.
93I won't ever forget
your teachings,
because you give me new life
by following them.
94I belong to you,
and I have respected your laws,
so keep me safe.
95Brutal enemies are waiting
to ambush and destroy me,
but I obey your rules.
96Nothing is completely perfect,
except your teachings.

Psalm 119:83 a dried-up wineskin: The Hebrew text has " a wineskin in the smoke." In ancient times bags were made from animal skins to hold wine, but when the bags dried up they cracked and could no longer be used.
Psalm 119:89 Our. . . heavens: Or " Our LORD, your word is eternal. It will last as long as the heavens."

Proverbs 28:15-16 (Contemporary English Version)

15A ruler who mistreats the poor
is like a roaring lion
or a bear hunting for food.
16A heartless leader is a fool,
but anyone who refuses
to get rich by cheating others
will live a long time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bible Readings for November 25, 2011

Today our passages are Daniel 1:1–2:23; 1 Peter 3:8–4:6; Psalm 119:65-80; and Proverbs 28:14. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Daniel 1-2:23 (Contemporary English Version)

Daniel 1

Daniel and His Friends

1In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, [a] King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem. 2The Lord let Nebuchadnezzar capture Jehoiakim and take away some of the things used in God's temple. And when the king returned to Babylonia, [b] he put these things in the temple of his own god. 3One day the king ordered Ashpenaz, his highest palace official, to choose some young men from the royal family of Judah and from other leading Jewish families. 4The king said, " They must be healthy, handsome, smart, wise, educated, and fit to serve in the royal palace. Teach them how to speak and write our language 5and give them the same food and wine that I am served. Train them for three years, and then they can become court officials."

6Four of the young Jews chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all from the tribe of Judah. 7But the king's chief official gave them Babylonian names: Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach, and Azariah became Abednego.

8Daniel made up his mind to eat and drink only what God had approved for his people to eat. And he asked the king's chief official for permission not to eat the food and wine served in the royal palace. 9God had made the official friendly and kind to Daniel. 10But the man still told him, " The king has decided what you must eat and drink. And I am afraid he will kill me, if you eat something else and end up looking worse than the other young men."

11The king's official had put a guard in charge of Daniel and his three friends. So Daniel said to the guard, 12" For the next ten days, let us have only vegetables and water at mealtime. 13When the ten days are up, compare how we look with the other young men, and decide what to do with us." 14The guard agreed to do what Daniel had asked.

15Ten days later, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better than the young men who had been served food from the royal palace. 16After this, the guard let them eat vegetables instead of the rich food and wine.
17God made the four young men smart and wise. They read a lot of books and became well educated. Daniel could also tell the meaning of dreams and visions.

18At the end of the three-year period set by King Nebuchadnezzar, his chief palace official brought all the young men to him. 19The king interviewed them and discovered that none of the others were as outstanding as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they were given positions in the royal court. 20From then on, whenever the king asked for advice, he found their wisdom was ten times better than that of any of his other advisors and magicians. 21Daniel served there until the first year of King Cyrus. [c]

Daniel 2

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

1During the second year that Nebuchadnezzar was king, he had such horrible nightmares that he could not sleep. 2So he called in his counselors, advisors, magicians, and wise men, 3and said, " I am disturbed by a dream that I don't understand, and I want you to explain it."

4They answered in Aramaic, [d] " Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! We are your servants. Please tell us your dream, and we will explain what it means." 5But the king replied, " No! I have made up my mind. If you don't tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be chopped to pieces and your houses will be torn down. 6However, if you do tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be greatly rewarded and highly honored. Now tell me the dream and explain what it means."

7" Your Majesty," they said, " if you will only tell us your dream, we will interpret it for you."

8The king replied, "You're just stalling for time, 9because you know what's going to happen if you don't come up with the answer. You've decided to make up a bunch of lies, hoping I might change my mind. Now tell me the dream, and that will prove that you can interpret it."

10His advisors explained, " Your Majesty, you are demanding the impossible! No king, not even the most famous and powerful, has ever ordered his advisors, magicians, or wise men to do such a thing. 11It can't be done, except by the gods, and they don't live here on earth."

12-13This made the king so angry that he gave orders for every wise man in Babylonia to be put to death, including Daniel and his three friends.

God Tells Nebuchadnezzar's Dream to Daniel

14Arioch was the king's official in charge of putting the wise men to death. He was on his way to have it done, when Daniel very wisely went to him 15and asked, " Why did the king give such cruel [e] orders?" After Arioch explained what had happened, 16Daniel rushed off and said to the king, " If you will just give me some time, I'll explain your dream." 17Daniel returned home and told his three friends. 18Then he said, " Pray that the God who rules from heaven will be merciful and explain this mystery, so that we and the others won't be put to death." 19In a vision one night, Daniel was shown the dream and its meaning. Then he praised the God who rules from heaven:
20" Our God, your name
will be praised
forever and forever.
You are all-powerful,
and you know everything.
21You control human events--
you give rulers their power
and take it away,
and you are the source
of wisdom and knowledge.
22" You explain deep mysteries,
because even the dark
is light to you.
23You are the God
who was worshiped
by my ancestors.
Now I thank you and praise you
for making me wise
and telling me the king's dream,
together with its meaning."

Daniel 1:1 Jehoiakim. . . king of Judah: Ruled 609-598 B.C.
Daniel 1:2 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has " Shinar," another name for Babylonia.
Daniel 1:21 first year of King Cyrus: 539 B.C.
Daniel 2:4 Aramaic: Chapter 2.4--7.28 is written in Aramaic, a language closely related to Hebrew.
Daniel 2:15 cruel: Or " urgent."

1 Peter 3:8-4:6 (Contemporary English Version)

Suffering for Doing Right

8Finally, all of you should agree and have concern and love for each other. You should also be kind and humble. 9Don't be hateful and insult people just because they are hateful and insult you. Instead, treat everyone with kindness. You are God's chosen ones, and he will bless you. The Scriptures say,
10"Do you really love life?
Do you want to be happy?
Then stop saying cruel things
and quit telling lies.
11Give up your evil ways
and do right,
as you find and follow
the road that leads
to peace.
12The Lord watches over
everyone who obeys him,
and he listens
to their prayers.
But he opposes everyone
who does evil."

13Can anyone really harm you for being eager to do good deeds? 14Even if you have to suffer for doing good things, God will bless you. So stop being afraid and don't worry about what people might do. 15Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life.

Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope. 16Give a kind and respectful answer and keep your conscience clear. This way you will make people ashamed for saying bad things about your good conduct as a follower of Christ. 17You are better off to obey God and suffer for doing right than to suffer for doing wrong.
18Christ died once for our sins.
An innocent person died
for those who are guilty.
Christ did this
to bring you to God,
when his body
was put to death
and his spirit
was made alive.

19Christ then preached to the spirits that were being kept in prison. 20They had disobeyed God while Noah was building the boat, but God had been patient with them. Eight people went into that boat and were brought safely through the flood.

21Those flood waters were like baptism that now saves you. But baptism is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience, because Jesus Christ was raised from death. 22Christ is now in heaven, where he sits at the right side [a] of God. All angels, authorities, and powers are under his control.

1 Peter 4

Being Faithful to God

1Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did, because suffering shows that you have stopped sinning. 2It means you have turned from your own desires and want to obey God for the rest of your life. 3You have already lived long enough like people who don't know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and partying and carrying on. In fact, you even worshiped disgusting idols. 4Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it. 5But they will have to answer to God, who judges the living and the dead. 6The good news has even been preached to the dead, [b] so that after they have been judged for what they have done in this life, their spirits will live with God.

1 Peter 3:22 right side: The place of honor and power.
1 Peter 4:6 the dead: Either people who died after becoming followers of Christ or the people of Noah's day (see 3.19).

Psalm 119:65-80 (Contemporary English Version)

65I am your servant, LORD,
and you have kept your promise
to treat me with kindness.
66Give me wisdom and good sense.
I trust your commands.
67Once you corrected me
for not obeying you,
but now I obey.
68You are kindhearted,
and you do good things,
so teach me your laws.
69My reputation is being ruined
by conceited liars,
but with all my heart
I follow your teachings.
70Those liars have no sense,
but I find happiness
in your Law.
71When you corrected me,
it did me good
because it taught me
to study your laws.
72I would rather obey you
than to have a thousand pieces
of silver and gold.
73You created me
and put me together.
Make me wise enough to learn
what you have commanded.
74Your worshipers will see me,
and they will be glad
that I trust your word.
75Your decisions are correct,
and you were right
to punish me.
76I serve you, LORD.
Comfort me with your love,
just as you have promised.
77I love to obey your Law!
Have mercy and let me live.
78Put down those proud people
who hurt me with their lies,
because I have chosen
to study your teachings.
79Let your worshipers come to me,
so they will learn
to obey your rules.
80Let me truly respect your laws,
so I won't be ashamed.

Proverbs 28:14 (Contemporary English Version)

14The LORD blesses everyone
who is afraid to do evil,
but if you are cruel,
you will end up in trouble.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bible Readings for November 24, 2011

Today our passages are Ezekiel 47:1–48:35; 1 Peter 2:11–3:7; Psalm 119:49-64; and Proverbs 28:12-13. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Ezekiel 47-48:35 (Contemporary English Version)

Ezekiel 47

The Stream Flowing from the Temple

1The man took me back to the temple, where I saw a stream flowing from under the entrance. It began in the south part of the temple, where it ran past the altar and continued east through the courtyard.

2We walked out of the temple area through the north gate and went around to the east gate. I saw the small stream of water flowing east from the south side of the gate.

3The man walked east, then took out his measuring stick and measured five hundred sixty yards downstream. He told me to wade through the stream there, and the water came up to my ankles. 4Then he measured another five hundred sixty yards downstream, and told me to wade through it there. The water came up to my knees. Another five hundred sixty yards downstream the water came up to my waist. 5Another five hundred sixty yards downstream, the stream had become a river that could be crossed only by swimming. 6The man said, "Ezekiel, son of man, pay attention to what you've seen."

We walked to the riverbank, 7where I saw dozens of trees on each side. 8The man said:

This water flows eastward to the Jordan River valley and empties into the Dead Sea, where it turns the salt water into fresh water. 9Wherever this water flows, there will be all kinds of animals and fish, because it will bring life and fresh water to the Dead Sea. 10From En-Gedi to Eneglaim, people will fish in the sea and dry their nets along the coast. There will be as many kinds of fish in the Dead Sea as there are in the Mediterranean Sea. 11But the marshes along the shore will remain salty, so that people can use the salt from them.

12Fruit trees will grow all along this river and produce fresh fruit every month. The leaves will never dry out, because they will always have water from the stream that flows from the temple, and they will be used for healing people.

The Borders of the Land

13-14The LORD God said to the people of Israel:

When the land is divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, the Joseph tribe [a] will receive two shares. Divide the land equally, because I promised your ancestors that this land would someday belong to their descendants. These are the borders of the land: 15The northern border will begin at the Mediterranean Sea, then continue eastward to Hethlon, to Lebo-Hamath, then across to Zedad, 16Berothah, [b] and Sibraim, which is on the border between the two kingdoms of Damascus and Hamath. The border will end at Hazer-Hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran. 17So the northern border will run between the Mediterranean Sea and Hazar-Enon, which is on the border between Damascus and Hamath. [c] 18The eastern border will begin on the border between the two kingdoms of Hauran and Damascus. It will run south along the Jordan River, which separates the territories of Gilead and Israel, and it will end at the Dead Sea near the town of Tamar. [d] 19The southern border will begin at Tamar, then run southwest to the springs near Meribath-Kadesh. It will continue along the Egyptian Gorge and will end at the Mediterranean Sea.
20The western border will run north along the Mediterranean Sea to a point just west of Lebo-Hamath.
21That is the land to be divided among the tribes of Israel. 22It will belong to the Israelites and to any foreigners living among them whose children were born in Israel. These foreigners must be treated like any other Israelite citizen, and they will receive 23a share of the land given to the tribe where they live. I, the LORD God, have spoken.

Ezekiel 48

The Division of Land among Tribes in the North

The LORD said:
1-7Each tribe will receive a section of land that runs from the eastern border of Israel west to the Mediterranean Sea. The northern border of Israel will run along the towns of Hethlon and Lebo-Hamath, and will end at Hazar-Enon, which is on the border between the kingdoms of Damascus and Hamath. The tribes will receive their share of land in the following order, from north to south: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah.

The Special Section of Land

The LORD said:
8South of Judah's territory will be a special section of land. Its length will be eight miles, and its width will run from the eastern border of Israel west to the Mediterranean Sea. My temple will be located in this section of land.

9An area in the center of this land will belong to me. It will be eight miles long and six [e] miles wide. 10I, the LORD, will give half of my sacred land to the priests. Their share will be eight miles long and three miles wide, and my temple will be right in the middle. 11Only priests who are descendants of Zadok will receive a share of this sacred land, because they remained faithful to me when the Levites and the rest of the Israelites started sinning. 12The land belonging to the priests will be the most sacred area and will lie south of the area that belongs to the Levites.

13I will give the other half of my sacred land to the Levites. Their share will also be eight miles long and three miles wide, 14and they must never sell or trade any of this land--it is the best land and belongs to me.
15South of my sacred land will be a section eight miles long and two miles wide. It will not be sacred, but will belong to the people of Israel and will include the city of Jerusalem, together with its houses and pastureland. 16The city will be a square: Each side will be a mile and a half long, 17and an open area four hundred twenty feet wide will surround the city. 18The land on the east and west sides of the city limits will be farmland for the people of Jerusalem; both sections will be three miles long and two miles wide. 19People from the city will farm the land, no matter which tribe they belong to.

20And so the center of this special section of land will be for my sacred land, as well as for the city and its property. The land will be a square, eight miles on each side.

21The regions east and west of this square of land will belong to the ruler of Israel. His property will run east to the Jordan River and west to the Mediterranean Sea. In the very center of his property will be my sacred land, as well as the temple, 22together with the share belonging to the Levites and the city of Jerusalem. The northern border of the ruler's property will be the land that belongs to Judah, and the southern border will be the land that belongs to Benjamin.

The Division of Land among Tribes in the South

The LORD God said:
23-27South of this special section will be the land that belongs to the rest of Israel's tribes. Each tribe will receive a section of land that runs from the eastern border of Israel west to the Mediterranean Sea. The tribes will receive their share of land in the following order, from north to south: Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad.

28Gad's southern border is also the southern border of Israel. It will begin at the town of Tamar, then run southwest to the springs near Meribath-Kadesh. It will continue along the Egyptian Gorge and end at the Mediterranean Sea.

29That's how the land of Israel will be divided among the twelve tribes. I, the LORD God, have spoken.

The Gates of Jerusalem

The LORD said:
30-34The city of Jerusalem will have twelve gates, three on each of the four sides of the city wall. These gates will be named after the twelve tribes of Israel. The gates of Reuben, Judah, and Levi will be in the north; Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan will be in the east; Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun will be in the south; Gad, Asher, and Naphtali will be in the west. Each side of the city wall will be a mile and a half long, 35and so the total length of the wall will be six miles. The new name of the city will be "The-LORD-Is-Here!"

Ezekiel 47:13 the Joseph tribe: That is, the two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph's sons.
Ezekiel 47:16 to Lebo-Hamath, then across to Zedad, 16Berothah: One ancient translation; Hebrew "to Lebo-Zedad, 16 then across to Hamath, Berothah. "
Ezekiel 47:17 which is on the border between Damascus and Hamath: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Ezekiel 47:18 near the town of Tamar: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Ezekiel 48:9 six: The Hebrew text has "three" (but see 45.1 and the note there).

1 Peter 2:11-3:7 (Contemporary English Version)

Live as God's Servants Should

11Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. So I beg you not to surrender to those desires that fight against you. 12Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong. Then on the day of judgment, they will honor God by telling the good things they saw you do.

13The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone. 14You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. 15God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. 16You are free, but still you are God's servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong. 17Respect everyone and show special love for God's people. Honor God and respect the Emperor.

The Example of Christ's Suffering

18Servants, you must obey your masters and always show respect to them. Do this, not only to those who are kind and thoughtful, but also to those who are cruel. 19God will bless you, even if others treat you unfairly for being loyal to him. 20You don't gain anything by being punished for some wrong you have done. But God will bless you, if you have to suffer for doing something good. 21After all, God chose you to suffer as you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who set an example by suffering for you.

22Christ did not sin
or ever tell a lie.
23Although he was abused,
he never tried to get even.
And when he suffered,
he made no threats.
Instead, he had faith in God,
who judges fairly.
24Christ carried the burden
of our sins.
He was nailed to the cross,
so that we would stop sinning
and start living right.
By his cuts and bruises
you are healed.
25You had wandered away
like sheep.
Now you have returned
to the one
who is your shepherd
and protector.

1 Peter 3

Wives and Husbands

1If you are a wife, you must put your husband first. Even if he opposes our message, you will win him over by what you do. No one else will have to say anything to him, 2because he will see how you honor God and live a pure life. 3Don't depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. 4Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.

5Long ago those women who worshiped God and put their hope in him made themselves beautiful by putting their husbands first. 6For example, Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her true children, if you do right and don't let anything frighten you.

7If you are a husband, you should be thoughtful of your wife. Treat her with honor, because she isn't as strong as you are, and she shares with you in the gift of life. Then nothing will stand in the way of your prayers.

Psalm 119:49-64 (Contemporary English Version)

49Don't forget your promise
to me, your servant.
I depend on it.
50When I am hurting,
I find comfort in your promise
that leads to life.
51Conceited people sneer at me,
but I obey your Law.
52I find true comfort, LORD,
because your laws have stood
the test of time.
53I get furious when evil people
turn against your Law.
54No matter where I am,
your teachings
fill me with songs.
55Even in the night
I think about you, LORD,
and I obey your Law.
56You have blessed me
because I have always followed
your teachings.
57You, LORD, are my choice,
and I will obey you.
58With all my heart
I beg you to be kind to me,
just as you have promised.
59I pay careful attention
as you lead me,
and I follow closely.
60As soon as you command,
I do what you say.
61Evil people may set a trap,
but I obey your Law.
62Your laws are so fair
that I wake up
and praise you
in the middle of the night.
63I choose as my friends
everyone who worships you
and follows your teachings.
64Our LORD, your love is seen
all over the world.
Teach me your laws.

Proverbs 28:12-13 (Contemporary English Version)

12When an honest person wins,
it's time to celebrate;
when crooks are in control,
it's best to hide.
13If you don't confess your sins,
you will be a failure.
But God will be merciful
if you confess your sins
and give them up.


Verse of the Day
“[Christ Brings Real Life]You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.” - Colossians 2:6-7
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.


Thought for the Day
Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I'd like to express my thanks - I've got the sun in the mornin' and the moon at night.
Irving Berlin

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bible Readings for November 23, 2011

Today our passages are Ezekiel 45:13–46:24; 1 Peter 1:13–2:10; Psalm 119:33-48; and Proverbs 28:11. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Ezekiel 45:13-46:24 (Contemporary English Version)

13Leaders of Israel, the people must bring you one sixtieth of their grain harvests as offerings to me. 14They will also bring one percent of their olive oil. These things will be measured according to the bath, and ten baths is the same as one homer or one cor. 15Finally, they must bring one sheep out of every two hundred from their flocks.

These offerings will be used as grain sacrifices, as well as sacrifices to please me [a] and those to ask my blessing. [b] I, the LORD, will be pleased with these sacrifices and will forgive the sins of my people. 16The people of Israel will bring you these offerings. 17But during New Moon Festivals, Sabbath celebrations, and other religious feasts, you leaders will be responsible for providing animals for the sacrifices, as well as the grain and wine. All these will be used for the sacrifices for sin, the grain sacrifices, the sacrifices to please me, and those to ask my blessing. I will be pleased and will forgive the sins of my people.

The Festivals
(Exodus 12.1-20; Leviticus 23.33-43)

18The LORD God said:
On the first day of the first month, [c] a young bull that has nothing wrong with it must be offered as a sacrifice to purify the temple. 19The priest will take some blood from this sacrifice and smear it on the doorposts of the temple, as well as on the four corners of the altar and on the doorposts of the gates that lead into the inner courtyard. 20The same ceremony must also be done on the seventh day of the month, so that anyone who sins accidentally or without knowing it will be forgiven, and so that my temple will remain holy.
21Beginning on the fourteenth day of the first month, and continuing for seven days, everyone will celebrate Passover and eat bread made without yeast. 22On the first day, the ruler will bring a bull to offer as a sacrifice for his sins and for the sins of the people. 23Each day of the festival he is to bring seven bulls and seven rams as sacrifices to please me, [d] and he must bring a goat [e] as a sacrifice for sin. These animals must have nothing wrong with them. 24He will also provide twenty pounds of grain and four quarts of olive oil to be offered with each bull and each ram. 25The Festival of Shelters will begin on the fifteenth day of the seventh month [f] and will continue for seven days. On each day of this festival, the ruler will provide the same number of animals that he did each day during Passover, as well as the same amount of grain and olive oil for the sacrifices.

Ezekiel 46

Various Laws for the Ruler and the People

1The LORD said:
The east gate of the inner courtyard must remain closed during the six working days of each week. But on the Sabbath and on the first day of the month, this gate will be opened. 2Israel's ruler will go from the outer courtyard into the entrance room of this gate and stand in the doorway while the priest offers sacrifices to ask my blessing [g] and sacrifices to please me. [h] The ruler will bow with his face to the ground to show that he has worshiped me. Then he will leave, and the gate will remain open until evening. 3Each Sabbath and on the first day of each month, the people of Israel must also come to the east gate and worship me. 4On the Sabbath, the ruler will bring six lambs and one ram to be offered as sacrifices to please me. There must be nothing wrong with any of these animals. 5With the ram, he is to offer twenty pounds of grain, and with each of the lambs, he can offer as much as he wants. He must also offer four quarts of olive oil with every twenty pounds of grain.

6The ruler is to bring six lambs, a bull, and a ram to be offered as sacrifices at the New Moon Festival. There must be nothing wrong with any of these animals. 7With the bull and the ram, he is to offer twenty pounds of grain, and with each of the lambs, he can offer as much as he wants. He must also offer four quarts of olive oil with every twenty pounds of grain. 8The ruler must come through the entrance room of the east gate and leave the same way.

9When my people come to worship me during any festival, they must always leave by the opposite gate from which they came: Those who come in the north gate must leave by the south gate, and those who come in the south gate must leave by the north gate. 10Their ruler will come in at the same time they do and leave at the same time they leave.

11At all other festivals and celebrations, twenty pounds of grain will be offered with a bull, and twenty pounds will be offered with a ram. The worshipers can offer as much grain as they want with each lamb. Four quarts of olive oil must be offered with every twenty pounds of grain.

12If the ruler voluntarily offers a sacrifice to please me or to ask my blessing, the east gate of the inner courtyard will be opened for him. He will offer his sacrifices just as he does on each Sabbath; then he will leave, and the gate will be closed.

13Each morning a year-old lamb that has nothing wrong with it must be offered as a sacrifice to please me. 14Along with it, three pounds of fine flour mixed with a quart of olive oil must be offered as a grain sacrifice. This law will never change-- 15the lamb, the flour, and the olive oil will be offered to me every morning for all time.

Laws about the Ruler's Land

16The LORD God said:
If the ruler of Israel gives some of his land to one of his children, it will belong to the ruler's child as part of the family property. 17But if the ruler gives some of his land to one of his servants, the land will belong to the servant until the Year of Celebration, when it will be returned to the ruler. [i] Only the ruler's children can keep what is given to them. 18The ruler must never abuse my people by taking land from them. Any land he gives his children must already belong to him.

The Sacred Kitchens

19The man who was showing me the temple [j] then took me back to the inner courtyard. We walked to the south side of the courtyard and stopped at the door to the sacred rooms that belonged to the priests. He showed me more rooms at the western edge of the courtyard 20and said, "These are the kitchens where the priests must boil the meat to be offered as sacrifices to make things right [k] and as sacrifices for sin. [l] They will also bake the grain for sacrifices in these kitchens. That way, these sacred offerings won't have to be carried through the outer courtyard, where someone could accidentally touch them and be harmed." [m] 21We went back to the outer courtyard and walked past the four corners. 22At each corner I saw a smaller courtyard, sixty-eight feet long and fifty feet wide. 23Around the inside of these smaller courtyards was a low wall of stones, and against the wall were places to build fires. [n] 24The man said, "These are the kitchens where the temple workers will boil the meat that worshipers offer as sacrifices."

Ezekiel 45:15 sacrifices to please me: See the note at 40.38,39.
Ezekiel 45:15 sacrifices. . . to ask my blessing: See the note at 43.27.
Ezekiel 45:18 the first month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
Ezekiel 45:23 sacrifices to please me: See the note at 40.38,39.
Ezekiel 45:23 goat: See the note at 43.22.
Ezekiel 45:25 seventh month: Tishri (also called Ethanim), the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-September to mid-October.
Ezekiel 46:2 sacrifices to ask my blessing: See the note at 43.27.
Ezekiel 46:2 sacrifices to please me: See the note at 40.38,39.
Ezekiel 46:17 the Year of Celebration. . . to the ruler: This was a sacred year for Israel, traditionally called the "Year of Jubilee." During this year, all property had to go back to its original owner (see Leviticus 25.8-34).
Ezekiel 46:19 The man. . . temple: See 40.3.
Ezekiel 46:20 sacrifices to make things right: See the note at 40.38,39.
Ezekiel 46:20 sacrifices for sin: See the note at 40.38,39.
Ezekiel 46:20 someone. . . touch them and be harmed: See the note at 44.19.
Ezekiel 46:23 fires: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 23.

1 Peter 1:13-2:10 (Contemporary English Version)

Chosen To Live a Holy Life

13Be alert and think straight. Put all your hope in how kind God will be to you when Jesus Christ appears. 14Behave like obedient children. Don't let your lives be controlled by your desires, as they used to be. 15Always live as God's holy people should, because God is the one who chose you, and he is holy. 16That's why the Scriptures say, "I am the holy God, and you must be holy too."

17You say that God is your Father, but God doesn't have favorites! He judges all people by what they do. So you must honor God while you live as strangers here on earth. 18You were rescued [a] from the useless way of life that you learned from your ancestors. But you know that you were not rescued by such things as silver or gold that don't last forever. 19You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb. 20Christ was chosen even before the world was created, but because of you, he did not come until these last days. 21And when he did come, it was to lead you to have faith in God, who raised him from death and honored him in a glorious way. That's why you have put your faith and hope in God. 22You obeyed the truth, [b] and your souls were made pure. Now you sincerely love each other. But you must keep on loving with all your heart. 23Do this because God has given you new birth by his message that lives on forever. 24The Scriptures say, "Humans wither like grass,
and their glory fades
like wild flowers.
Grass dries up,
and flowers fall
to the ground.

25But what the Lord has said
will stand forever."
Our good news to you is what the Lord has said.

1 Peter 2

A Living Stone and a Holy Nation

1Stop being hateful! Quit trying to fool people, and start being sincere. Don't be jealous or say cruel things about others. 2Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved. 3You have already found out how good the Lord really is.

4Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. 6It is just as God says in the Scriptures,
"Look! I am placing in Zion
a choice and precious
No one who has faith
in that one
will be disappointed."

7You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn't precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. 8They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed.
9But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say,
10"Once you were nobody.
Now you are God's people.
At one time no one
had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
with kindness.

1 Peter 1:18 rescued: The Greek word often, though not always, means payment of a price to free a slave or prisoner.
1 Peter 1:22 You obeyed the truth: Some manuscripts add "by the power of the Spirit."

Psalm 119:33-48 (Contemporary English Version)

33Point out your rules to me,
and I won't disobey
even one of them.
34Help me to understand your Law;
I promise to obey it
with all my heart.
35Direct me by your commands!
I love to do what you say.
36Make me want to obey you,
rather than to be rich.
37Take away my foolish desires,
and let me find life
by walking with you.
38I am your servant!
Do for me what you promised
to those who worship you.
39Your wonderful teachings
protect me from the insults
that I hate so much.
40I long for your teachings.
Be true to yourself
and let me live.
41Show me your love
and save me, LORD,
as you have promised.
42Then I will have an answer
for everyone
who insults me
for trusting your word.
43I rely on your laws!
Don't take away my chance
to speak your truth.
44I will keep obeying your Law
forever and ever.
45I have gained perfect freedom
by following your teachings,
46and I trust them so much
that I tell them to kings.
47I love your commands!
They bring me happiness.
48I love and respect them
and will keep them in mind.

Proverbs 28:11 (Contemporary English Version)

11The rich think highly
of themselves,
but anyone poor and sensible
sees right through them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bible Readings for November 22, 2011

Today our passages are Ezekiel 44:1–45:12; 1 Peter 1:1-12; Psalm 119:17-32; and Proverbs 28:8-10. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version.


Ezekiel 44-45:12 (Contemporary English Version)

Ezekiel 44

The East Gate Must Remain Closed

1The man took me back to the outer courtyard, near the east gate of the temple area. I saw that the doors to this gate were closed. 2The LORD said:

I, the LORD God of Israel, came through this gate, so it must remain closed forever! No one must ever use it. 3The ruler of Israel may come here to eat a sacrificial meal that has been offered to me, but he must use only the entrance room of this gate.

People Who Are Not Allowed in the Temple

4Then the man took me through the north gate to the front of the temple. I saw that the brightness of the LORD's glory had filled the temple, and I immediately bowed with my face to the ground.

5The LORD said:
Ezekiel, son of man, I am going to give you the laws for my temple. So pay attention and listen carefully to what kind of people are allowed to come in the temple, and what kind are not. 6Tell those rebellious people of Israel:

I, the LORD God, command you to stop your evil ways! 7My temple has been disgraced, because you have let godless, stubborn foreigners come here when sacrifices are being offered to me. You have sinned and have broken our solemn agreement. 8Instead of following the proper ways to worship me, you have put foreigners in charge of worship at my temple.

9And so I, the LORD God, say that no godless foreigner who disobeys me will be allowed in my temple. This includes any foreigner living in Israel.

The Levites Are Punished

The LORD said:
10Some of the Levites turned their backs on me and joined the other people of Israel in worshiping idols. So these Levites must be punished! 11They will still be allowed to serve me as temple workers by guarding the gates and by killing the animals to be sacrificed and by helping the worshipers. 12But because these Levites served the people of Israel when they worshiped idols, I, the LORD God, promise that the Levites will be punished. They did not stop the Israelites from sinning, 13and now I will no longer let the Levites serve as my priests or come near anything sacred to me. They must suffer shame and disgrace for their disgusting sins. 14They will be responsible for all the hard work that must be done in the temple.

Rules for Priests

The LORD said:
15The priests of the Levi tribe who are descendants of Zadok the priest were faithful to me, even when the rest of the Israelites turned away. And so, these priests will continue to serve as my priests and to offer the fat and the blood of sacrifices. 16They will come into my temple, where they will offer sacrifices at my altar and lead others in worship.

17When they come to the inner courtyard, they must wear their linen priestly clothes. My priests must never wear anything made of wool when they are on duty in this courtyard or in the temple. 18Even their turbans and underwear must be made of linen to keep my priests from sweating when they work. 19And before they leave to join the other people in the outer courtyard, they must take off their priestly clothes, then place them in the sacred rooms and put on their regular clothes. [a] That way, no one will touch their sacred clothes and be harmed. [b] 20Priests must never shave their heads when they are mourning. But they must keep their hair properly trimmed and not let it grow too long. 21They must not drink wine before going to the inner courtyard.

22A priest must not marry a divorced woman; he can marry only a virgin from Israel or the widow of another priest.

23Priests must teach my people the difference between what is sacred and what is ordinary, and between what is clean and what is unclean. 24They will make decisions in difficult legal cases, according to my own laws. They must also observe the religious festivals my Law requires and must always respect the Sabbath.
25Touching a dead body will make a person unclean. So a priest must not go near a dead body, unless it is one of his parents or children, or his brother or unmarried sister. 26If a priest touches a dead body, he is unclean and must go through a ceremony to make himself clean. Then seven days later, 27he must go to the inner courtyard of the temple and offer a sacrifice for sin. After that, he may once again serve as my priest. I, the LORD God, have spoken.

28I myself will provide for my priests, and so they won't receive any land of their own. 29Instead, they will receive part of the grain sacrifices, as well as part of the sacrifices for sin and sacrifices to make things right. They will also be given everything in Israel that has been completely dedicated to me. [c] 30The first part of every harvest will belong to the priests. They will also receive part of all special gifts and offerings the Israelites bring to me. And whenever any of my people bake bread, they will give their first loaf as an offering to the priests, and I will bless the homes of the people when they do this. 31Priests must not eat any bird or animal that dies a natural death or that has been killed by a wild animal.

Ezekiel 45

The LORD's Sacred Land

The LORD said:
1When the land of Israel is divided among the twelve tribes, you must set aside an area that will belong to me. This sacred area will be eight miles long and six [d] miles wide. 2The temple will be on a piece of land eight hundred forty feet square, and the temple will be completely surrounded by an open space eighty-four feet wide. 3-4I will give half of my sacred land, a section eight miles long and three miles wide, to the priests who serve in the temple. Their houses will be in this half, as well as my temple, which is the most sacred place of all.

5I will give the other half of my land to the Levites who work in my temple, and the towns [e] where they will live will be there. 6Next to my sacred land will be an area eight miles long and two miles wide. This will belong to the people of Israel and will include the city of Jerusalem.

Land for Israel's Ruler

The LORD said:
7-8The regions west and east of my sacred land and the city of Jerusalem will belong to the ruler of Israel. He will be given the region between the western edge of my land and the Mediterranean Sea, and between the eastern edge of my land and the Jordan River. This will mean that the length of his property will be the same as the sections of land given to the tribes.

This property will belong to every ruler of Israel, so they will always be fair to my people and will let them live peacefully in the land given to their tribes.

Israel's Rulers Must Be Honest

9The LORD God said:
You leaders of Israel have robbed and cheated my people long enough! I want you to stop sinning and start doing what is right and fair. You must never again force my people off their own land. I, the LORD, have spoken.

10So from now on, you must use honest weights and measures. 11The ephah will be the standard dry measure, and the bath will be the standard liquid measure. Their size will be based on the homer, which will equal ten ephahs or ten baths. [f] 12The standard unit of weight will be the shekel. [g] One shekel will equal twenty gerahs, and sixty shekels will equal one mina.

Ezekiel 44:19 take off their priestly clothes. . . put on their regular clothes: See 42.14.
Ezekiel 44:19 no one will touch. . . and be harmed: Ordinary people were forbidden to touch anything that was sacred. If they did, it was believed they would somehow be harmed.
Ezekiel 44:29 that has been completely dedicated to me: This translates a Hebrew word that describes property and things that were taken away from humans and given to God. In the early history of Israel, such things often had to be destroyed (see Joshua 6.15-19).
Ezekiel 45:1 six: One ancient translation; Hebrew "three."
Ezekiel 45:5 the towns: One ancient translation; Hebrew "the twenty rooms."
Ezekiel 45:11 the homer. . . ten ephahs. . . ten baths: A homer was either a dry or a liquid measure and equaled about five bushels or fifty-five gallons; an ephah would be about a half bushel, an a bath would be about five and a half gallons.
Ezekiel 45:12 the shekel: The shekel was about four-tenths of an ounce.

1 Peter 1:1-12 (Contemporary English Version)

1 Peter 1

1From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

To God's people who are scattered like foreigners in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

2God the Father decided to choose you as his people, and his Spirit has made you holy. You have obeyed Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood. [a] I pray that God will be kind to you and will keep on giving you peace!

A Real Reason for Hope

3Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. 4God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear.

5You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. [b] Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. 6On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. 7Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns. 8You have never seen Jesus, and you don't see him now. But still you love him and have faith in him, and no words can tell how glad and happy 9you are to be saved. That's why you have faith.

10Some prophets told how kind God would be to you, and they searched hard to find out more about the way you would be saved. 11The Spirit of Christ was in them and was telling them how Christ would suffer and would then be given great honor. So they searched to find out exactly who Christ would be and when this would happen. 12But they were told that they were serving you and not themselves. They preached to you by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven. And their message was only for you, even though angels would like to know more about it.

1 Peter 1:2 sprinkled with his blood: According to Exodus 24.3-8 the people of Israel were sprinkled with the blood of cows to show they would keep their agreement with God. Peter says that it is the blood of Jesus that seals the agreement between God and his people (see Hebrews 9.18-21).
1 Peter 1:5 the last day: When God will judge all people.

Psalm 119:17-32 (Contemporary English Version)

17Treat me with kindness, LORD,
so that I may live
and do what you say.
18Open my mind
and let me discover
the wonders of your Law.
19I live here as a stranger.
Don't keep me from knowing
your commands.
20What I want most of all
and at all times
is to honor your laws.
21You punish those boastful,
worthless nobodies
who turn
from your commands.
22Don't let them sneer
and insult me
for following you.
23I keep thinking about
your teachings, LORD,
even if rulers plot
against me.
24Your laws are my greatest joy!
I follow their advice.
25I am at the point of death.
Let your teachings
breathe new life into me.
26When I told you my troubles,
you answered my prayers.
Now teach me your laws.
27Help me to understand
your teachings,
and I will think about
your marvelous deeds.
28I am overcome with sorrow.
Encourage me,
as you have promised to do.
29Keep me from being deceitful,
and be kind enough
to teach me your Law.
30I am determined to be faithful
and to respect your laws.
31I follow your rules, LORD.
Don't let me be ashamed.
32I am eager to learn all
that you want me to do;
help me to understand
more and more.

Proverbs 28:8-10 (Contemporary English Version)

8If you make money by charging
high interest rates,
you will lose it all to someone
who cares for the poor.
9God cannot stand the prayers
of anyone who disobeys
his Law.
10By leading good people to sin,
you dig a pit for yourself,
but all who live right
will have a bright future.