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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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bible Readings for November 30, 2013

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 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.
  1. Daniel 7:1 first year of King Belshazzar: 554 B.C.
  2. Daniel 7:5 standing on its hind legs: Or " higher on one side than the other" or " with a paw lifted up."
  3. Daniel 7:9 Eternal God: Aramaic " Ancient of Days."
  4. Daniel 7:10 books: Containing the record of the good and evil that each person has done.
  5. Daniel 7:12 a while longer: Aramaic " for a time and a season."
  6. 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.
  7. Daniel 7:13 Eternal God: See the note at 7.9.
  8. 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.
  9. Daniel 7:19 fourth beast: See verses 7,8.
  10. Daniel 7:22 Eternal God: See the note at 7.9.
  11. 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. 1 John 1:4 us: Some manuscripts have "you."
  2. 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.

Verse of the Day

“The 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. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live.” - 2 Peter 3:10-11
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas detail.jpgThought for the Day

Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Jonathan Swift wrote, “Although men are accused of not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength. It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold, which the owner knows not of.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bible Readings for November 29, 2013

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 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]
  1. 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]
  1. 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. 2 Peter 3:10 will be seen for what they are: Some manuscripts have "will go up in flames."
  3. 2 Peter 3:12 and you should try to make it come soon: Or "and you should eagerly desire for that day to come."
  4. 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.

Verse of the Day

“[God's Love Never Fails]Praise the LORD! He is good. God's love never fails. Praise God in heaven! God's love never fails.” - Psalm 136:1,26
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

American novelist best known as author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys, Louisa May Alcott wrote, “Simple, sincere people seldom speak much of their piety. It shows itself in acts rather than in words, and has more influence than homilies or protestations.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bible Readings for November 29, 2013

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 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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."
  1. 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. 2 Peter 2:11 evil beings: Or "evil teachers."
  3. 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.
  1. 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."
  2. 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.

Verse of the Day

“Praise the LORD and pray in his name! Tell everyone what he has done.” - 1 Chronicles 16:8
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

William Blake by Thomas Phillips.jpgThought for the Day

English poet, painter and printmaker, William Blake wrote, “The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bible Readings for November 27, 2013

Today our passages are Daniel 4:1-37; 2 Peter 1:1-21; Psalm 119:97-112; and Proverbs 28:17-18. The readings are the Contemporary English Version.

Daniel 4:1-37 (Contemporary English Version)

Daniel 4

King Nebuchadnezzar's Letter about His Second Dream
 1King Nebuchadnezzar sent the following letter to the people of all nations and races on the earth:    Greetings to all of you!
    2I am glad to tell about
   the wonderful miracles
   God Most High
   has done for me.
    3His miracles are mighty
   and marvelous.
   He will rule forever,
   and his kingdom
   will never end.
    4I was enjoying a time of peace and prosperity, 5when suddenly I had some horrifying dreams and visions. 6Then I commanded every wise man in Babylonia to appear in my court, so they could explain the meaning of my dream. 7After they arrived, I told them my dream, but they were not able to say what it meant. 8Finally, a young man named Daniel came in, and I told him the dream. The holy gods had given him special powers, and I had renamed him Belteshazzar after my own god.
    9I said, " Belteshazzar, not only are you the wisest of all advisors and counselors, but the holy gods have given you special powers to solve the most difficult mysteries. So listen to what I dreamed and tell me what it means:
    10In my sleep I saw
   a very tall tree
   in the center of the world.
    11It grew stronger and higher,
   until it reached to heaven
   and could be seen
   from anywhere on earth.
    12It was covered with leaves
   and heavy with fruit--
   enough for all nations.
   Wild animals enjoyed its shade,
   birds nested in its branches,
   and all creatures on earth
   lived on its fruit.
    13" While I was in bed, having this vision, a holy angel [a] came down from heaven 14and shouted: `Chop down the tree
   and cut off its branches;
   strip off its leaves
   and scatter its fruit.
   Make the animals leave its shade
   and send the birds flying
   from its branches.
    15But leave its stump and roots
   in the ground,
   surrounded by grass
   and held by chains
   of iron and bronze.
   `Make sure that this ruler
   lives like the animals
   out in the open fields,
   unprotected from the dew.
    16Give him the mind
   of a wild animal
   for seven long years. [b] 17This punishment is given
   at the command
   of the holy angels. [c] It will show to all who live
   that God Most High
   controls all kingdoms
   and chooses for their rulers
   persons of humble birth.'
    18" Daniel, [d] that was the dream that none of the wise men in my kingdom were able to understand. But I am sure that you will understand what it means, because the holy gods have given you some special powers." 19For a while, Daniel was terribly confused and worried by what he was thinking. But I said, " Don't be bothered either by the dream or by what it means."
   Daniel replied:
   Your Majesty, I wish the dream had been against your enemies. 20You saw a tree that grew so big and strong that it reached up to heaven and could be seen from anywhere on earth. 21Its leaves were beautiful, and it produced enough fruit for all living creatures; animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. 22Your Majesty, that tree is you. Your glorious reputation has reached heaven, and your kingdom covers the earth.
    23Then you saw a holy angel [e] come down from heaven and say, " Chop down the tree and destroy it! But leave its stump and roots in the ground, fastened there by a chain of iron and bronze. Let it stay for seven years [f] out in the field with the wild animals, unprotected from the dew."
    24Your Majesty, God Most High has sent you this message, and it means 25that you will be forced to live with the wild animals, far away from humans. You will eat grass like a wild animal and live outdoors for seven years [g], until you learn that God Most High controls all earthly kingdoms and chooses their rulers. 26But he gave orders not to disturb the stump and roots. This is to show that you will be king once again, after you learn that the God who rules from heaven is in control. 27Your Majesty, please be willing to do what I say. Turn from your sins and start living right; have mercy on those who are mistreated. Then all will go well with you for a long time.
The Rest of Nebuchadnezzar's Letter about His Second Dream
 28-30About twelve months later, I was walking on the flat roof of my royal palace and admiring the beautiful city of Babylon, when these things started happening to me. I was saying to myself, " Just look at this wonderful capital city that I have built by my own power and for my own glory!"     31But before I could finish speaking, a voice from heaven interrupted:
   King Nebuchadnezzar, this kingdom is no longer yours. 32You will be forced to live with the wild animals, away from people. For seven years [h] you will eat grass, as though you were an ox, until you learn that God Most High is in control of all earthly kingdoms and that he is the one who chooses their rulers. 33This was no sooner said than done--I was forced to live like a wild animal; I ate grass and was unprotected from the dew. As time went by, my hair grew longer than eagle feathers, and my fingernails looked like the claws of a bird.
    34Finally, I prayed to God in heaven, and my mind was healed. Then I said:
   " I praise and honor
   God Most High.
   He lives forever,
   and his kingdom
   will never end.
    35To him the nations
   are far less than nothing;
   God controls the stars in the sky
   and everyone on this earth.
   When God does something,
   we cannot change it
   or even ask why."
    36At that time my mind was healed, and once again I became the ruler of my glorious kingdom. My advisors and officials returned to me, and I had greater power than ever before. 37That's why I say:
   " Praise and honor the King
   who rules from heaven!
   Everything he does
   is honest and fair,
   and he can shatter the power
   of those who are proud."
  1. Daniel 4:13 angel: The Aramaic text has " watcher," which may be some special class of angel.
  2. Daniel 4:16 long years: Aramaic " times."
  3. Daniel 4:17 angels: See the note at 4.13.
  4. Daniel 4:18 Daniel: See the note at 2.26.
  5. Daniel 4:23 angel: See the note at 4.13.
  6. Daniel 4:23 years: Aramaic " times."
  7. Daniel 4:25 years: Aramaic " times."
  8. Daniel 4:32 years: Aramaic " times."

2 Peter 1:1-21 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Peter 1

 1From Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.    To everyone who shares with us in the privilege of believing that our God and Savior Jesus Christ will do what is just and fair. [a] 2I pray that God will be kind to you and will let you live in perfect peace! May you keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus.
Living as the Lord's Followers
 3We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. 4God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.     5Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, 6self-control, patience, devotion to God, 7concern for others, and love. 8If you keep growing in this way, it will show that what you know about our Lord Jesus Christ has made your lives useful and meaningful. 9But if you don't grow, you are like someone who is nearsighted or blind, and you have forgotten that your past sins are forgiven.
    10My friends, you must do all you can to show that God has really chosen and selected you. If you keep on doing this, you won't stumble and fall. 11Then our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will give you a glorious welcome into his kingdom that will last forever.
    12You are holding firmly to the truth that you were given. But I am still going to remind you of these things. 13In fact, I think I should keep on reminding you until I leave this body. 14And our Lord Jesus Christ has already told me that I will soon leave it behind. 15That is why I am doing my best to make sure that each of you remembers all of this after I am gone.
The Message about the Glory of Christ
 16When we told you about the power and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not telling clever stories that someone had made up. But with our own eyes we saw his true greatness. 17God, our great and wonderful Father, truly honored him by saying, "This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him." 18We were there with Jesus on the holy mountain and heard this voice speak from heaven.     19All of this makes us even more certain that what the prophets said is true. So you should pay close attention to their message, as you would to a lamp shining in some dark place. You must keep on paying attention until daylight comes and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20But you need to realize that no one alone can understand any of the prophecies in the Scriptures. 21The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God.
  1. 2 Peter 1:1 To everyone who. . . just and fair: Or "To everyone whose faith in the justice and fairness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ is as precious as our own faith."

Psalm 119:97-112 (Contemporary English Version)

97I deeply love your Law!
   I think about it all day.
    98Your laws never leave my mind,
   and they make me much wiser
   than my enemies.
    99Thinking about your teachings
   gives me better understanding
   than my teachers,
    100and obeying your laws
   makes me wiser
   than those
   who have lived a long time.
    101I obey your word
   instead of following a way
   that leads to trouble.
    102You have been my teacher,
   and I won't reject
   your instructions.
    103Your teachings are sweeter
   than honey.
    104They give me understanding
   and make me hate all lies.
    105Your word is a lamp
   that gives light
   wherever I walk.
    106Your laws are fair,
   and I have given my word
   to respect them all.
    107I am in terrible pain!
   Save me, LORD,
   as you said you would.
    108Accept my offerings of praise
   and teach me your laws.
    109I never forget your teachings,
   although my life is always
   in danger.
    110Some merciless people
   are trying to trap me,
   but I never turn my back
   on your teachings.
    111They will always be
   my most prized possession
   and my source of joy.
    112I have made up my mind
   to obey your laws forever,
   no matter what.

Proverbs 28:17-18 (Contemporary English Version)

17Don't give help to murderers!
   Make them stay on the run
   for as long as they live. [a] 18Honesty will keep you safe,
   but everyone who is crooked
   will suddenly fall.
  1. Proverbs 28:17 live: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 17.

Verse of the Day
“Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” - Colossians 3:16
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

English writer, remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, and as an art critic, drama critic, social commentator, and philosopher, William Hazlitt wrote, “The more we do, the more we can do.”