Today our passages are Daniel 8:1-27; 1 John 2:1-17; Psalm 120:1-7; and Proverbs 28:25-26. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
Daniel 8:1-27 (The Message)
A Vision of a Ram and a Billy Goat1 "In King Belshazzar's third year as king, another vision came to me, Daniel. This was now the second vision. 2-4 "In the vision, I saw myself in Susa, the capital city of the province Elam, standing at the Ulai Canal. Looking around, I was surprised to see a ram also standing at the gate. The ram had two huge horns, one bigger than the other, but the bigger horn was the last to appear. I watched as the ram charged: first west, then north, then south. No beast could stand up to him. He did just as he pleased, strutting as if he were king of the beasts. 5-7 "While I was watching this, wondering what it all meant, I saw a billy goat with an immense horn in the middle of its forehead come up out of the west and fly across the whole country, not once touching the ground. The billy goat approached the double-horned ram that I had earlier seen standing at the gate and, enraged, charged it viciously. I watched as, mad with rage, it charged the ram and hit it so hard that it broke off its two horns. The ram didn't stand a chance against it. The billy goat knocked the ram to the ground and stomped all over it. Nothing could have saved the ram from the goat. 8-12 "Then the billy goat swelled to an enormous size. At the height of its power its immense horn broke off and four other big horns sprouted in its place, pointing to the four points of the compass. And then from one of these big horns another horn sprouted. It started small, but then grew to an enormous size, facing south and east—toward lovely Palestine. The horn grew tall, reaching to the stars, the heavenly army, and threw some of the stars to the earth and stomped on them. It even dared to challenge the power of God, Prince of the Celestial Army! And then it threw out daily worship and desecrated the Sanctuary. As judgment against their sin, the holy people of God got the same treatment as the daily worship. The horn cast God's Truth aside. High-handed, it took over everything and everyone.
13 "Then I overheard two holy angels talking. One asked, 'How long is what we see here going to last—the abolishing of daily worship, this devastating judgment against sin, the kicking around of God's holy people and the Sanctuary?'
14 "The other answered, 'Over the course of 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning. Then the Sanctuary will be set right again.'
15 "While I, Daniel, was trying to make sense of what I was seeing, suddenly there was a humanlike figure standing before me.
16-17 "Then I heard a man's voice from over by the Ulai Canal calling out, 'Gabriel, tell this man what is going on. Explain the vision to him.' He came up to me, but when he got close I became terrified and fell facedown on the ground.
17-18 "He said, 'Understand that this vision has to do with the time of the end.' As soon as he spoke, I fainted, my face in the dirt. But he picked me up and put me on my feet.
19 "And then he continued, 'I want to tell you what is going to happen as the judgment days of wrath wind down, for there is going to be an end to all this.
20-22 "'The double-horned ram you saw stands for the two kings of the Medes and Persians. The billy goat stands for the kingdom of the Greeks. The huge horn on its forehead is the first Greek king. The four horns that sprouted after it was broken off are the four kings that come after him, but without his power.
23-26"'As their kingdoms cool down
and rebellions heat up,
A king will show up,
hard-faced, a master trickster.
His power will swell enormously.
He'll talk big, high-handedly,
Doing whatever he pleases,
knocking off heroes and holy ones left and right.
He'll plot and scheme to make crime flourish—
and oh, how it will flourish!
He'll think he's invincible
and get rid of anyone who gets in his way.
But when he takes on the Prince of all princes,
he'll be smashed to bits—
but not by human hands.
This vision of the 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning,
is accurate but confidential.
Keep it to yourself.
It refers to the far future.'
27 "I, Daniel, walked around in a daze, unwell for days. Then I got a grip on myself and went back to work taking care of the king's affairs. But I continued to be upset by the vision. I couldn't make sense of it."
1 John 2:1-17 (The Message)
1 John 21-2I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world's.
The Only Way to Know We're in Him2-3Here's how we can be sure that we know God in the right way: Keep his commandments. 4-6If someone claims, "I know him well!" but doesn't keep his commandments, he's obviously a liar. His life doesn't match his words. But the one who keeps God's word is the person in whom we see God's mature love. This is the only way to be sure we're in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.
7-8My dear friends, I'm not writing anything new here. This is the oldest commandment in the book, and you've known it from day one. It's always been implicit in the Message you've heard. On the other hand, perhaps it is new, freshly minted as it is in both Christ and you—the darkness on its way out and the True Light already blazing!
9-11Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.
Loving the World12-13I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name. You veterans were in on the ground floor, and know the One who started all this; you newcomers have won a big victory over the Evil One. 13-14And a second reminder, dear children: You know the Father from personal experience. You veterans know the One who started it all; and you newcomers—such vitality and strength! God's word is so steady in you. Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One.
15-17Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
Psalm 120:1-7 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song1-2 I'm in trouble. I cry to God, desperate for an answer:
"Deliver me from the liars, God!
They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth."
3-4 Do you know what's next, can you see what's coming,
all you barefaced liars?
Pointed arrows and burning coals
will be your reward.
5-7 I'm doomed to live in Meshech,
cursed with a home in Kedar,
My whole life lived camping
among quarreling neighbors.
I'm all for peace, but the minute
I tell them so, they go to war!
Proverbs 28:25-26 (The Message)
25 A grasping person stirs up trouble,
but trust in God brings a sense of well-being.
26 If you think you know it all, you're a fool for sure;
real survivors learn wisdom from others.
Verse of the Day
“[The Word of Life]In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.” - John 1:1-2, 14
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
American writer noted for his detective fiction, Rex Stout wrote, “There are times when all the little demons disappear down their ratholes, and ugliness itself takes on the shape of beauty; when the darkest corner is touched by light; when the coldest heart feels the glow of warmth; when the trumpet call of good will and good cheer drowns out all the Babel of mean little noises. This is such a time. Merry Christmas! Merry merry merry!”