Monday, September 17, 2018

Psalm 51

Psalm 51


For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.


1 Have mercy on me, O God,

because of your unfailing love.

Because of your great compassion,

blot out the stain of my sins.

2 Wash me clean from my guilt.

Purify me from my sin.

3 For I recognize my rebellion;

it haunts me day and night.

4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your sight.

You will be proved right in what you say,

and your judgment against me is just.

5 For I was born a sinner—

yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

6 But you desire honesty from the womb,

teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins,  and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Oh, give me back my joy again;

you have broken me—

now let me rejoice.

9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.

Remove the stain of my guilt.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.

Renew a loyal spirit within me.

11 Do not banish me from your presence,

and don’t take your Holy Spirit  from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and make me willing to obey you.

13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,

and they will return to you.

14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;

then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.

15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,

that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.

You do not want a burnt offering.

17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.

You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;

rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—

with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.

Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3


GOD'S MYSTERIOUS PLAN REVEALED

1 When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles* . . .2 assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles.3 As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me.4 As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ.5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.

  6 And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.*7 By God's grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.

  8 Though I am the least deserving of all God's people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.9 I was chosen to explain to everyone* this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

  10 God's purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

  12 Because of Christ and our faith in him,* we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence.13 So please don't lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

PAUL'S PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,*15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.*16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

  20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! 

Amen.





Friday, September 14, 2018

Psalm 50

Psalm 50


A PSALM OF ASAPH.

1 The LORD, the Mighty One, is God,
  and he has spoken;
he has summoned all humanity
  from where the sun rises to where it sets.

2 From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty,
  God shines in glorious radiance.

3 Our God approaches,
  and he is not silent.
Fire devours everything in his way,
  and a great storm rages around him.

4 He calls on the heavens above and earth below
  to witness the judgment of his people.

5 "Bring my faithful people to me—
  those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices."

6 Then let the heavens proclaim his justice,
  for God himself will be the judge. 

 Interlude


7 "O my people, listen as I speak.
  Here are my charges against you, O Israel:
  I am God, your God!

8 I have no complaint about your sacrifices
  or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.

9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns
  or the goats from your pens.

10 For all the animals of the forest are mine,
  and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.

11 I know every bird on the mountains,
  and all the animals of the field are mine.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
  for all the world is mine and everything in it.

13 Do I eat the meat of bulls?
  Do I drink the blood of goats?

14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,
  and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

15 Then call on me when you are in trouble,
  and I will rescue you,
  and you will give me glory."


16 But God says to the wicked:
"Why bother reciting my decrees
  and pretending to obey my covenant?

17 For you refuse my discipline
  and treat my words like trash.

18 When you see thieves, you approve of them,
  and you spend your time with adulterers.

19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness,
  and your tongue is full of lies.

20 You sit around and slander your brother—
  your own mother's son.

21 While you did all this, I remained silent,
  and you thought I didn't care.
But now I will rebuke you,
  listing all my charges against you.

22 Repent, all of you who forget me,
  or I will tear you apart,
  and no one will help you.

23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
  If you keep to my path,
  I will reveal to you the salvation of God."




Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1


GREETINGS FROM PAUL

1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

  I am writing to God's holy people in Ephesus,* who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.

  2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.*7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

  9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

  12 God's purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

PAUL'S PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL WISDOM

15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God's people everywhere,*16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.*

  19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Psalm 49

Psalm 49


FOR THE CHOIR DIRECTOR: A PSALM OF THE DESCENDANTS OF KORAH.

1 Listen to this, all you people!
  Pay attention, everyone in the world!
2 High and low,
  rich and poor—listen!
3 For my words are wise,
  and my thoughts are filled with insight.
4 I listen carefully to many proverbs
  and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.

5 Why should I fear when trouble comes,
  when enemies surround me?
6 They trust in their wealth
  and boast of great riches.
7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death*
  by paying a ransom to God.
8 Redemption does not come so easily,
  for no one can ever pay enough
9 to live forever
  and never see the grave.

10 Those who are wise must finally die,
  just like the foolish and senseless,
  leaving all their wealth behind.
11 The grave is their eternal home,
  where they will stay forever.
They may name their estates after themselves,
12   but their fame will not last.
  They will die, just like animals.
13 This is the fate of fools,
  though they are remembered as being wise.*   

Interlude


14 Like sheep, they are led to the grave,*
  where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
  Their bodies will rot in the grave,
  far from their grand estates.
15 But as for me, God will redeem my life.
  He will snatch me from the power of the grave.   

Interlude


16 So don't be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
  and their homes become ever more splendid.
17 For when they die, they take nothing with them.
  Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate
  and are applauded for their success.
19 But they will die like all before them
  and never again see the light of day.
20 People who boast of their wealth don't understand;
  they will die, just like animals.






Malachi 4

Malachi 4


THE COMING DAY OF JUDGMENT

1 *The LORD of Heaven's Armies says, "The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.

  2 "But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.* And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.3 On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  4 "Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant—all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai* for all Israel.

  5 "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse."





Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Malachi 3

Malachi 3


THE COMING DAY OF JUDGMENT

1 "Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  2 "But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.

  5 "At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

A CALL TO REPENTANCE


6 "I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
  "But you ask, 'How can we return when we have never gone away?'

  8 "Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
  "But you ask, 'What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?'
  "You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.* Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.12 "Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  13 "You have said terrible things about me," says the LORD.
  "But you say, 'What do you mean? What have we said against you?'

  14 "You have said, 'What's the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven's Armies that we are sorry for our sins?15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.'"

THE LORD's Promise of Mercy


16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

  17 "They will be my people," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."






Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Malachi 2

Malachi 2


A WARNING TO THE PRIESTS

1 "Listen, you priests—this command is for you!2 Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile.4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  5 "The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name.6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.

  7 "The words of a priest's lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven's Armies.8 But you priests have left God's paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.9 "So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions."


A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS


10 Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors?

  11 Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the LORD's beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols.12 May the LORD cut off from the nation of Israel* every last man who has done this and yet brings an offering to the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  13 Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD's altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure.14 You cry out, "Why doesn't the LORD accept my worship?" I'll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.

  15 Didn't the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his.* And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.16 "For I hate divorce!" says the LORD, the God of Israel. "To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,*" says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife."

  17 You have wearied the LORD with your words.
  "How have we wearied him?" you ask.
  You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the LORD's sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, "Where is the God of justice?"






Monday, September 10, 2018

Malachi 1

Malachi 1


1 This is the message* that the LORD gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.*

THE LORD's Love for Israel

2 "I have always loved you," says the LORD.
  But you retort, "Really? How have you loved us?"
  And the LORD replies, "This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob,3 but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau's inheritance into a desert for jackals."

 4 Esau's descendants in Edom may say, "We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins."
  But the LORD of Heaven's Armies replies, "They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again. Their country will be known as 'The Land of Wickedness,' and their people will be called 'The People with Whom the LORD Is Forever Angry.'5 When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, 'Truly, the LORD's greatness reaches far beyond Israel's borders!'"

UNWORTHY SACRIFICES

6 The LORD of Heaven's Armies says to the priests: "A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!
  "But you ask, 'How have we ever shown contempt for your name?'

  7 "You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.
  "Then you ask, 'How have we defiled the sacrifices?*'
  "You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect.8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn't that wrong? And isn't it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!" says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  9 "Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?" asks the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  10 "How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "and I will not accept your offerings.11 But my name is honored* by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer* sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

  12 "But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it's all right to defile the Lord's table.13 You say, 'It's too hard to serve the LORD,' and you turn up your noses at my commands," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?" asks the LORD.

  14 "Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "and my name is feared among the nations!




Friday, September 7, 2018

Psalm 48

Psalm 48




A SONG. A PSALM OF THE DESCENDANTS OF KORAH.

1 How great is the LORD,
  how deserving of praise,
in the city of our God,
  which sits on his holy mountain!
2 It is high and magnificent;
  the whole earth rejoices to see it!
Mount Zion, the holy mountain,*
  is the city of the great King!
3 God himself is in Jerusalem's towers,
  revealing himself as its defender.

4 The kings of the earth joined forces
  and advanced against the city.
5 But when they saw it, they were stunned;
  they were terrified and ran away.
6 They were gripped with terror
  and writhed in pain like a woman in labor.
7 You destroyed them like the mighty ships of Tarshish
  shattered by a powerful east wind.

8 We had heard of the city's glory,
  but now we have seen it ourselves—
  the city of the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
It is the city of our God;
  he will make it safe forever.    Interlude

9 O God, we meditate on your unfailing love
  as we worship in your Temple.
10 As your name deserves, O God,
  you will be praised to the ends of the earth.
  Your strong right hand is filled with victory.
11 Let the people on Mount Zion rejoice.
  Let all the towns of Judah be glad
  because of your justice.

12 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.*
  Walk around and count the many towers.
13 Take note of the fortified walls,
  and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
  to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like.
  He is our God forever and ever,
  and he will guide us until we die.




Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31




THE SAYINGS OF KING LEMUEL

1 The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message,* which his mother taught him.

2 O my son, O son of my womb,
  O son of my vows,
3 do not waste your strength on women,
  on those who ruin kings.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
  Rulers should not crave alcohol.
5 For if they drink, they may forget the law
  and not give justice to the oppressed.
6 Alcohol is for the dying,
  and wine for those in bitter distress.
7 Let them drink to forget their poverty
  and remember their troubles no more.

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
  ensure justice for those being crushed.
9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
  and see that they get justice.

A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER

10 *Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
  She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
  and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
  all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax
  and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant's ship,
  bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
  and plan the day's work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
  with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
  a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
  her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
  her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
  and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
  for everyone has warm* clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
  She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
  where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
  and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
  and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
  and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
  and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
  Her husband praises her:
29 "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
  but you surpass them all!"

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
  but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
  Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.







Psalm 51

Psalm 51 For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adulter...