Friday, August 31, 2018

II John

II John



GREETINGS

1 This letter is from John, the elder.*
  I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children,* whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth—2 because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.

  3 Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

LIVE IN THE TRUTH

4 How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.

  5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends,* that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

  7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came* in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.8 Watch out that you do not lose what we* have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

  10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don't invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement.11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.


CONCLUSION

12 I have much more to say to you, but I don't want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.

  13 Greetings from the children of your sister,* chosen by God.



Proverbs 27

Proverbs 27


1 Don't brag about tomorrow,
  since you don't know what the day will bring.

2 Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
  a stranger, not your own lips.

3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
  but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier.

4 Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood,
  but jealousy is even more dangerous.

5 An open rebuke
  is better than hidden love!

6 Wounds from a sincere friend
  are better than many kisses from an enemy.

7 A person who is full refuses honey,
  but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.

8 A person who strays from home
  is like a bird that strays from its nest.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
  is as sweet as perfume and incense.

10 Never abandon a friend—   either yours or your father's.
When disaster strikes, you won't have to ask your brother for assistance.
  It's better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.

11 Be wise, my child,* and make my heart glad.
  Then I will be able to answer my critics.

12 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

13 Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger's debt.
  Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.*

14 A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning
  will be taken as a curse!

15 A quarrelsome wife is as annoying
  as constant dripping on a rainy day.
16 Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind
  or trying to hold something with greased hands.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
  so a friend sharpens a friend.

18 As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit,
  so workers who protect their employer's interests will be rewarded.

19 As a face is reflected in water,
  so the heart reflects the real person.

20 Just as Death and Destruction* are never satisfied,
  so human desire is never satisfied.

21 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
  but a person is tested by being praised.*

22 You cannot separate fools from their foolishness,
  even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.

23 Know the state of your flocks,
and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24 for riches don't last forever,
and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears
 and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing,
  and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27 And you will have enough goats' milk for yourself,
  your family, and your servant girls.



Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26


1 Honor is no more associated with fools
  than snow with summer or rain with harvest.

2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
  an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.

3 Guide a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle,
  and a fool with a rod to his back!

4 Don't answer the foolish arguments of fools,
  or you will become as foolish as they are.

5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
  or they will become wise in their own estimation.

6 Trusting a fool to convey a message
  is like cutting off one's feet or drinking poison!

7 A proverb in the mouth of a fool
  is as useless as a paralyzed leg.

8 Honoring a fool
  is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot.

9 A proverb in the mouth of a fool
  is like a thorny branch brandished by a drunk.

10 An employer who hires a fool or a bystander
  is like an archer who shoots at random.

11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
  so a fool repeats his foolishness.

12 There is more hope for fools
  than for people who think they are wise.

13 The lazy person claims, "There's a lion on the road!
  Yes, I'm sure there's a lion out there!"

14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges,
  so the lazy person turns over in bed.

15 Lazy people take food in their hand
  but don't even lift it to their mouth.

16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter
  than seven wise counselors.

17 Interfering in someone else's argument
  is as foolish as yanking a dog's ears.

18 Just as damaging
  as a madman shooting a deadly weapon
19 is someone who lies to a friend
  and then says, "I was only joking."

20 Fire goes out without wood,
  and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

21 A quarrelsome person starts fights
  as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.

22 Rumors are dainty morsels
  that sink deep into one's heart.

23 Smooth* words may hide a wicked heart,
  just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.

24 People may cover their hatred with pleasant words,
  but they're deceiving you.
25 They pretend to be kind, but don't believe them.
  Their hearts are full of many evils.*
26 While their hatred may be concealed by trickery,
  their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

27 If you set a trap for others,
  you will get caught in it yourself.
If you roll a boulder down on others,
  it will crush you instead.

28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
  and flattering words cause ruin.






Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Proverbs 25

Proverbs 25



MORE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON


1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, collected by the advisers of King Hezekiah of Judah.

2 It is God's privilege to conceal things
  and the king's privilege to discover them.

3 No one can comprehend the height of heaven, the depth of the earth,
  or all that goes on in the king's mind!

4 Remove the impurities from silver,
  and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith.
5 Remove the wicked from the king's court,
  and his reign will be made secure by justice.

6 Don't demand an audience with the king
  or push for a place among the great.
7 It's better to wait for an invitation to the head table
  than to be sent away in public disgrace.

Just because you've seen something,
8   don't be in a hurry to go to court.
For what will you do in the end
  if your neighbor deals you a shameful defeat?

9 When arguing with your neighbor,
  don't betray another person's secret.
10 Others may accuse you of gossip,
  and you will never regain your good reputation.

11 Timely advice is lovely,
  like golden apples in a silver basket.

12 To one who listens, valid criticism
  is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.

13 Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer.
  They revive the spirit of their employer.

14 A person who promises a gift but doesn't give it
  is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.

15 Patience can persuade a prince,
  and soft speech can break bones.

16 Do you like honey?
  Don't eat too much, or it will make you sick!

17 Don't visit your neighbors too often,
  or you will wear out your welcome.

18 Telling lies about others
  is as harmful as hitting them with an ax,
wounding them with a sword,
  or shooting them with a sharp arrow.

19 Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble
  is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.

20 Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart
  is like taking someone's coat in cold weather
  or pouring vinegar in a wound.*

21 If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat.
  If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.
22 You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads,
  and the LORD will reward you.

23 As surely as a north wind brings rain,
  so a gossiping tongue causes anger!

24 It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic
  than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.

25 Good news from far away
  is like cold water to the thirsty.

26 If the godly give in to the wicked,
  it's like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.

27 It's not good to eat too much honey,
  and it's not good to seek honors for yourself.

28 A person without self-control
  is like a city with broken-down walls.




Monday, August 27, 2018

Proverbs 24

Proverbs 24


1 Don't envy evil people
  or desire their company.
2 For their hearts plot violence,
  and their words always stir up trouble.

3 A house is built by wisdom
  and becomes strong through good sense.
4 Through knowledge its rooms are filled
  with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.

5 The wise are mightier than the strong,*
  and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.
6 So don't go to war without wise guidance;
  victory depends on having many advisers.

7 Wisdom is too lofty for fools.
  Among leaders at the city gate, they have nothing to say.

8 A person who plans evil
  will get a reputation as a troublemaker.
9 The schemes of a fool are sinful;
  everyone detests a mocker.

10 If you fail under pressure,
  your strength is too small.

11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
  save them as they stagger to their death.
12 Don't excuse yourself by saying, "Look, we didn't know."
  For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
  He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

13 My child,* eat honey, for it is good,
  and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
14 In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
  If you find it, you will have a bright future,
  and your hopes will not be cut short.

15 Don't wait in ambush at the home of the godly,
  and don't raid the house where the godly live.
16 The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
  But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

17 Don't rejoice when your enemies fall;
  don't be happy when they stumble.
18 For the LORD will be displeased with you
  and will turn his anger away from them.

19 Don't fret because of evildoers;
  don't envy the wicked.
20 For evil people have no future;
  the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.

21 My child, fear the LORD and the king.
Don't associate with rebels,
22   for disaster will hit them suddenly.
Who knows what punishment will come
  from the LORD and the king?

MORE SAYINGS OF THE WISE

23 Here are some further sayings of the wise:

It is wrong to show favoritism when passing judgment.
24 A judge who says to the wicked, "You are innocent,"
  will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations.
25 But it will go well for those who convict the guilty;
  rich blessings will be showered on them.

26 An honest answer
  is like a kiss of friendship.

27 Do your planning and prepare your fields
  before building your house.

28 Don't testify against your neighbors without cause;
  don't lie about them.
29 And don't say, "Now I can pay them back for what they've done to me!
  I'll get even with them!"

30 I walked by the field of a lazy person,
  the vineyard of one with no common sense.
31 I saw that it was overgrown with nettles.
  It was covered with weeds,
  and its walls were broken down.
32 Then, as I looked and thought about it,
  I learned this lesson:
33 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
  a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
  scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.




Sunday, August 26, 2018

Daniel 12

Daniel 12

THE TIME OF THE END

1 "At that time Michael, the archangel* who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued.2 Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.3 Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.4 But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase."

  5 Then I, Daniel, looked and saw two others standing on opposite banks of the river.6 One of them asked the man dressed in linen, who was now standing above the river, "How long will it be until these shocking events are over?"

  7 The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, "It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened."

  8 I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, "How will all this finally end, my lord?"

  9 But he said, "Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end.10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.

  11 "From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration* is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days.12 And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!

  13 "As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you."






Thursday, August 23, 2018

Daniel 11

Daniel 11


KINGS OF THE SOUTH AND NORTH

2 "Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. He will use his wealth to stir up everyone to fight against the kingdom of Greece.*

  3 "Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule with great authority and accomplish everything he sets out to do.4 But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king's descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

  5 "The king of the south will increase in power, but one of his own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength.

  6 "Some years later an alliance will be formed between the king of the north and the king of the south. The daughter of the king of the south will be given in marriage to the king of the north to secure the alliance, but she will lose her influence over him, and so will her father. She will be abandoned along with her supporters.7 But when one of her relatives* becomes king of the south, he will raise an army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and defeat him.8 When he returns to Egypt, he will carry back their idols with him, along with priceless articles of gold and silver. For some years afterward he will leave the king of the north alone.

  9 "Later the king of the north will invade the realm of the king of the south but will soon return to his own land.10 However, the sons of the king of the north will assemble a mighty army that will advance like a flood and carry the battle as far as the enemy's fortress.

  11 "Then, in a rage, the king of the south will rally against the vast forces assembled by the king of the north and will defeat them.12 After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will execute many thousands of his enemies. But his success will be short lived.

  13 "A few years later the king of the north will return with a fully equipped army far greater than before.14 At that time there will be a general uprising against the king of the south. Violent men among your own people will join them in fulfillment of this vision, but they will not succeed.15 Then the king of the north will come and lay siege to a fortified city and capture it. The best troops of the south will not be able to stand in the face of the onslaught.

  16 "The king of the north will march onward unopposed; none will be able to stop him. He will pause in the glorious land of Israel,* intent on destroying it.17 He will make plans to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will form an alliance with the king of the south. He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom from within, but his plan will fail.

  18 "After this, he will turn his attention to the coastland and conquer many cities. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and cause him to retreat in shame.19 He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall and be seen no more.

  20 "His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. But after a very brief reign, he will die, though not from anger or in battle.

  21 "The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue.22 Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince.23 With deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. He will become strong despite having only a handful of followers.24 Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land. Then he will distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich—something his predecessors had never done. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while.

  25 "Then he will stir up his courage and raise a great army against the king of the south. The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for there will be plots against him.26 His own household will cause his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed.27 Seeking nothing but each other's harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time.

  28 "The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey.

  29 "Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different.30 For warships from western coastlands* will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant.

  31 "His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration.*32 He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.

  33 "Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed.34 During these persecutions, little help will arrive, and many who join them will not be sincere.35 And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come.

  36 "The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place.37 He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all.38 Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and expensive gifts.39 Claiming this foreign god's help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward.*

  40 "Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack the king of the north. The king of the north will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood.41 He will enter the glorious land of Israel,* and many nations will fall, but Moab, Edom, and the best part of Ammon will escape.42 He will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape.43 He will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians* will be his servants.

  44 "But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many.45 He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him.







Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Daniel 10

Daniel 10


DANIEL'S VISION OF A MESSENGER

1 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia,* Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship.

  2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks.3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.

  4 On April 23,* as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River,5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist.6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.

  7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide.8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak.9 Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.

  10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees.11 And the man said to me, "Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you." When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.

  12 Then he said, "Don't be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince* of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,* came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.*14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come."

  15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word.16 Then the one who looked like a man* touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, "I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak.17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe."

  18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.19 "Don't be afraid," he said, "for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!"
  As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, "Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me."

  20 He replied, "Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and after that the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece* will come.21 Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.


(No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince.*11:1 I have been standing beside Michael* to support and strengthen him since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.)





Monday, August 20, 2018

Daniel 9

Daniel 9


DANIEL'S PRAYER FOR HIS PEOPLE

1 It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians.*2 During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the LORD, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.*3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes.

  4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:

"O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.

  7 "Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you.8 O LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.9 But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.10 We have not obeyed the LORD our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets.11 All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice.

 "So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin.12 You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem.13 Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth.14 Therefore, the LORD has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The LORD our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him.

  15 "O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness.16 In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.

  17 "O our God, hear your servant's prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.

  18 "O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.

  19 "O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name."

GABRIEL'S MESSAGE ABOUT THE ANOINTED ONE


20 I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the LORD my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain.21 As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice.22 He explained to me, "Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding.23 The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.

  24 "A period of seventy sets of seven* has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.*25 Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven* will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One*—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses,* despite the perilous times.

  26 "After this period of sixty-two sets of seven,* the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end.27 The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven,* but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds,* he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration,* until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him."




Sunday, August 19, 2018

Daniel 8

Daniel 8


DANIEL'S VISION OF A RAM AND GOAT

1 *During the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, saw another vision, following the one that had already appeared to me.2 In this vision I was at the fortress of Susa, in the province of Elam, standing beside the Ulai River.*

  3 As I looked up, I saw a ram with two long horns standing beside the river.* One of the horns was longer than the other, even though it had grown later than the other one.4 The ram butted everything out of his way to the west, to the north, and to the south, and no one could stand against him or help his victims. He did as he pleased and became very great.

  5 While I was watching, suddenly a male goat appeared from the west, crossing the land so swiftly that he didn't even touch the ground. This goat, which had one very large horn between its eyes,6 headed toward the two-horned ram that I had seen standing beside the river, rushing at him in a rage.7 The goat charged furiously at the ram and struck him, breaking off both his horns. Now the ram was helpless, and the goat knocked him down and trampled him. No one could rescue the ram from the goat's power.

  8 The goat became very powerful. But at the height of his power, his large horn was broken off. In the large horn's place grew four prominent horns pointing in the four directions of the earth.9 Then from one of the prominent horns came a small horn whose power grew very great. It extended toward the south and the east and toward the glorious land of Israel.10 Its power reached to the heavens, where it attacked the heavenly army, throwing some of the heavenly beings and some of the stars to the ground and trampling them.11 It even challenged the Commander of heaven's army by canceling the daily sacrifices offered to him and by destroying his Temple.12 The army of heaven was restrained from responding to this rebellion. So the daily sacrifice was halted, and truth was overthrown. The horn succeeded in everything it did.*

  13 Then I heard two holy ones talking to each other. One of them asked, "How long will the events of this vision last? How long will the rebellion that causes desecration stop the daily sacrifices? How long will the Temple and heaven's army be trampled on?"

  14 The other replied, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again."

GABRIEL EXPLAINS THE VISION


15 As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision, someone who looked like a man stood in front of me.16 And I heard a human voice calling out from the Ulai River, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of his vision."

  17 As Gabriel approached the place where I was standing, I became so terrified that I fell with my face to the ground. "Son of man," he said, "you must understand that the events you have seen in your vision relate to the time of the end."

  18 While he was speaking, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. But Gabriel roused me with a touch and helped me to my feet.

  19 Then he said, "I am here to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath. What you have seen pertains to the very end of time.20 The two-horned ram represents the kings of Media and Persia.21 The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece,* and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king of the Greek Empire.22 The four prominent horns that replaced the one large horn show that the Greek Empire will break into four kingdoms, but none as great as the first.

  23 "At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power.24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people.25 He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant; he will destroy many without warning. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power.

  26 "This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings* is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret."

  27 Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it.





Saturday, August 18, 2018

Daniel 7

Daniel 7



DANIEL'S VISION OF FOUR BEASTS

1 Earlier, during the first year of King Belshazzar's reign in Babylon,* Daniel had a dream and saw visions as he lay in his bed. He wrote down the dream, and this is what he saw.

  2 In my vision that night, I, Daniel, saw a great storm churning the surface of a great sea, with strong winds blowing from every direction.3 Then four huge beasts came up out of the water, each different from the others.

  4 The first beast was like a lion with eagles' wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off, and it was left standing with its two hind feet on the ground, like a human being. And it was given a human mind.

  5 Then I saw a second beast, and it looked like a bear. It was rearing up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And I heard a voice saying to it, "Get up! Devour the flesh of many people!"

  6 Then the third of these strange beasts appeared, and it looked like a leopard. It had four bird's wings on its back, and it had four heads. Great authority was given to this beast.

  7 Then in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast—terrifying, dreadful, and very strong. It devoured and crushed its victims with huge iron teeth and trampled their remains beneath its feet. It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns.

  8 As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. Three of the first horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.

9 I watched as thrones were put in place
  and the Ancient One* sat down to judge.
His clothing was as white as snow,
  his hair like purest wool.
He sat on a fiery throne
  with wheels of blazing fire,
10 and a river of fire was pouring out,
  flowing from his presence.
Millions of angels ministered to him;
  many millions stood to attend him.
Then the court began its session,
  and the books were opened.

  11 I continued to watch because I could hear the little horn's boastful speech. I kept watching until the fourth beast was killed and its body was destroyed by fire.12 The other three beasts had their authority taken from them, but they were allowed to live a while longer.*

  13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man* coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence.14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.


THE VISION IS EXPLAINED


15 I, Daniel, was troubled by all I had seen, and my visions terrified me.16 So I approached one of those standing beside the throne and asked him what it all meant. He explained it to me like this:17 "These four huge beasts represent four kingdoms that will arise from the earth.18 But in the end, the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever."

  19 Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, the one so different from the others and so terrifying. It had devoured and crushed its victims with iron teeth and bronze claws, trampling their remains beneath its feet.20 I also asked about the ten horns on the fourth beast's head and the little horn that came up afterward and destroyed three of the other horns. This horn had seemed greater than the others, and it had human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against God's holy people and was defeating them,22 until the Ancient One—the Most High—came and judged in favor of his holy people. Then the time arrived for the holy people to take over the kingdom.

  23 Then he said to me, "This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth. It will be different from all the others. It will devour the whole world, trampling and crushing everything in its path.24 Its ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them.25 He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time.

  26 "But then the court will pass judgment, and all his power will be taken away and completely destroyed.27 Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him."

  28 That was the end of the vision. I, Daniel, was terrified by my thoughts and my face was pale with fear, but I kept these things to myself.




Thursday, August 16, 2018

Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23


1 While dining with a ruler,
  pay attention to what is put before you.
2 If you are a big eater,
  put a knife to your throat;
3 don't desire all the delicacies,
  for he might be trying to trick you.

4 Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich.
  Be wise enough to know when to quit.
5 In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
  for it will sprout wings
  and fly away like an eagle.

6 Don't eat with people who are stingy;
  don't desire their delicacies.
7 They are always thinking about how much it costs.*
  "Eat and drink," they say, but they don't mean it.
8 You will throw up what little you've eaten,
  and your compliments will be wasted.

9 Don't waste your breath on fools,
  for they will despise the wisest advice.

10 Don't cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers;
  don't take the land of defenseless orphans.
11 For their Redeemer* is strong;
  he himself will bring their charges against you.

12 Commit yourself to instruction;
  listen carefully to words of knowledge.

13 Don't fail to discipline your children.
  They won't die if you spank them.
14 Physical discipline
  may well save them from death.*

15 My child,* if your heart is wise,
  my own heart will rejoice!
16 Everything in me will celebrate
  when you speak what is right.

17 Don't envy sinners,
  but always continue to fear the LORD.
18 You will be rewarded for this;
  your hope will not be disappointed.

19 My child, listen and be wise:
  Keep your heart on the right course.
20 Do not carouse with drunkards
  or feast with gluttons,
21 for they are on their way to poverty,
  and too much sleep clothes them in rags.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
  and don't despise your mother when she is old.
23 Get the truth and never sell it;
  also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.
24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
  What a pleasure to have children who are wise.*
25 So give your father and mother joy!
  May she who gave you birth be happy.

26 O my son, give me your heart.
  May your eyes take delight in following my ways.
27 A prostitute is a dangerous trap;
  a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well.
28 She hides and waits like a robber,
  eager to make more men unfaithful.

29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow?
  Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining?
  Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,
  trying out new drinks.
31 Don't gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,
  how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake;
  it stings like a viper.
33 You will see hallucinations,
  and you will say crazy things.
34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea,
  clinging to a swaying mast.
35 And you will say, "They hit me, but I didn't feel it.
  I didn't even know it when they beat me up.
When will I wake up
  so I can look for another drink?"



Daniel 6

Daniel 6


DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN

1 *Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province.2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king's interests.3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel's great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.

  4 Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.5 So they concluded, "Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion."

  6 So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, "Long live King Darius!7 We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions.8 And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked."9 So King Darius signed the law.

  10 But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.11 Then the officials went together to Daniel's house and found him praying and asking for God's help.12 So they went straight to the king and reminded him about his law. "Did you not sign a law that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions?"
  "Yes," the king replied, "that decision stands; it is an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked."

  13 Then they told the king, "That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day."

  14 Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament.

  15 In the evening the men went together to the king and said, "Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed."

  16 So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, "May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you."

  17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel.18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn't sleep at all that night.

  19 Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions' den.20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, "Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?"

  21 Daniel answered, "Long live the king!22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions' mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty."

  23 The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

  24 Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den.

  25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:

"Peace and prosperity to you!

  26 "I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God,
  and he will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
  and his rule will never end.
27 He rescues and saves his people;
  he performs miraculous signs and wonders
  in the heavens and on earth.
He has rescued Daniel
  from the power of the lions."

  28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.*



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Proverbs 22

Proverbs 22


1 Choose a good reputation over great riches;
  being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.

2 The rich and poor have this in common:
  The LORD made them both.

3 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

4 True humility and fear of the LORD
  lead to riches, honor, and long life.

5 Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road;
  whoever values life will avoid it.

6 Direct your children onto the right path,
  and when they are older, they will not leave it.

7 Just as the rich rule the poor,
  so the borrower is servant to the lender.

8 Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster,
  and their reign of terror will come to an end.*

9 Blessed are those who are generous,
  because they feed the poor.

10 Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too.
  Quarrels and insults will disappear.

11 Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech
  will have the king as a friend.

12 The LORD preserves those with knowledge,
  but he ruins the plans of the treacherous.

13 The lazy person claims, "There's a lion out there!
  If I go outside, I might be killed!"

14 The mouth of an immoral woman is a dangerous trap;
  those who make the LORD angry will fall into it.

15 A youngster's heart is filled with foolishness,
  but physical discipline will drive it far away.

16 A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor
  or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.

SAYINGS OF THE WISE

17 Listen to the words of the wise;
  apply your heart to my instruction.

18 For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart
  and always ready on your lips.

19 I am teaching you today—yes, you—
  so you will trust in the LORD.

20 I have written thirty sayings* for you,
  filled with advice and knowledge.

21 In this way, you may know the truth
  and take an accurate report to those who sent you.

22 Don't rob the poor just because you can,
  or exploit the needy in court.
23 For the LORD is their defender.
  He will ruin anyone who ruins them.

24 Don't befriend angry people
  or associate with hot-tempered people,
25 or you will learn to be like them
  and endanger your soul.

26 Don't agree to guarantee another person's debt
  or put up security for someone else.
27 If you can't pay it,
  even your bed will be snatched from under you.

28 Don't cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers
  set up by previous generations.

29 Do you see any truly competent workers?
  They will serve kings
  rather than working for ordinary people.


Daniel 5

Daniel 5


THE WRITING ON THE WALL

1 Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them.2 While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor,* Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines.3 So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.4 While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

 5 Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king's palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote,6 and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him.

  7 The king shouted for the enchanters, astrologers,* and fortune-tellers to be brought before him. He said to these wise men of Babylon, "Whoever can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor and will have a gold chain placed around his neck. He will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom!"

  8 But when all the king's wise men had come in, none of them could read the writing or tell him what it meant.9 So the king grew even more alarmed, and his face turned pale. His nobles, too, were shaken.

  10 But when the queen mother heard what was happening, she hurried to the banquet hall. She said to Belshazzar, "Long live the king! Don't be so pale and frightened.11 There is a man in your kingdom who has within him the spirit of the holy gods. During Nebuchadnezzar's reign, this man was found to have insight, understanding, and wisdom like that of the gods. Your predecessor, the king—your predecessor King Nebuchadnezzar—made him chief over all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers of Babylon.12 This man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has exceptional ability and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding. He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means."

DANIEL EXPLAINS THE WRITING


13 So Daniel was brought in before the king. The king asked him, "Are you Daniel, one of the exiles brought from Judah by my predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar?14 I have heard that you have the spirit of the gods within you and that you are filled with insight, understanding, and wisdom.15 My wise men and enchanters have tried to read the words on the wall and tell me their meaning, but they cannot do it.16 I am told that you can give interpretations and solve difficult problems. If you can read these words and tell me their meaning, you will be clothed in purple robes of royal honor, and you will have a gold chain placed around your neck. You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom."

 17 Daniel answered the king, "Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means.18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar.19 He made him so great that people of all races and nations and languages trembled before him in fear. He killed those he wanted to kill and spared those he wanted to spare. He honored those he wanted to honor and disgraced those he wanted to disgrace.20 But when his heart and mind were puffed up with arrogance, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.21 He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of a wild animal, and he lived among the wild donkeys. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.

 22 "You are his successor,* O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself.23 For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!24 So God has sent this hand to write this message.

  25 "This is the message that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN.26 This is what these words mean:

Mene means 'numbered'—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.

27 Tekel means 'weighed'—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.

28 Parsin* means 'divided'—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

  29 Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was dressed in purple robes, a gold chain was hung around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

  30 That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian* king, was killed.*

  31 *And Darius the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of sixty-two.



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Proverbs 20

PROVERBS 20


1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
    and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.[a]

2 The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion;
    whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
    but every fool will be quarreling.

4 The sluggard does not plow in the autumn;
    he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

5 The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
    but a man of understanding will draw it out.

6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
    but a faithful man who can find?

7 The righteous who walks in his integrity—
    blessed are his children after him!

8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment
    winnows all evil with his eyes.

9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure;
    I am clean from my sin”?

10 Unequal[b] weights and unequal measures
    are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts,
    by whether his conduct is pure and upright.[c]

12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
    the Lord has made them both.

13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty;
    open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.

14 “Bad, bad,” says the buyer,
    but when he goes away, then he boasts.

15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
    but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

16 Take a man's garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
    and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.[d]

17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
    but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

18 Plans are established by counsel;
    by wise guidance wage war.

19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
    therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.[e]

20 If one curses his father or his mother,
    his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

21 An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning
    will not be blessed in the end.

22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
    wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

23 Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord,
    and false scales are not good.

24 A man's steps are from the Lord;
    how then can man understand his way?

25 It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,”
    and to reflect only after making vows.

26 A wise king winnows the wicked
    and drives the wheel over them.

27 The spirit[f] of man is the lamp of the Lord,
    searching all his innermost parts.

28 Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,
    and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.

29 The glory of young men is their strength,
    but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

30 Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
    strokes make clean the innermost parts.

Daniel 4

Daniel 4


NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM ABOUT A TREE

1 *King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: "Peace and prosperity to you!
  2 "I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me.

3 How great are his signs,
  how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
  his rule through all generations.

  4 *"I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity.5 But one night I had a dream that frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in my bed.6 So I issued an order calling in all the wise men of Babylon, so they could tell me what my dream meant.7 When all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers,* and fortune-tellers came in, I told them the dream, but they could not tell me what it meant.8 At last Daniel came in before me, and I told him the dream. (He was named Belteshazzar after my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

  9 "I said to him, 'Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too great for you to solve. Now tell me what my dream means.

  10 "'While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth.11 The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see.12 It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree.

  13 "'Then as I lay there dreaming, I saw a messenger,* a holy one, coming down from heaven.14 The messenger shouted,

"Cut down the tree and lop off its branches!
  Shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit!
Chase the wild animals from its shade
  and the birds from its branches.
15 But leave the stump and the roots in the ground,
  bound with a band of iron and bronze
  and surrounded by tender grass.
Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
  and let him live with the wild animals among the plants of the field.
16 For seven periods of time,
  let him have the mind of a wild animal
  instead of the mind of a human.
17 For this has been decreed by the messengers*;
  it is commanded by the holy ones,
so that everyone may know
  that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world.
He gives them to anyone he chooses—
  even to the lowliest of people."


  18 "'Belteshazzar, that was the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now tell me what it means, for none of the wise men of my kingdom can do so. But you can tell me because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.'

DANIEL EXPLAINS THE DREAM


19 "Upon hearing this, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) was overcome for a time, frightened by the meaning of the dream. Then the king said to him, 'Belteshazzar, don't be alarmed by the dream and what it means.'
  "Belteshazzar replied, 'I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you!20 The tree you saw was growing very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see.21 It had fresh green leaves and was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches.22 That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth.

  23 "'Then you saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, "Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven. Let him live with the animals of the field for seven periods of time."

  24 "'This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to my lord the king.25 You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.26 But the stump and roots of the tree were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.

  27 "'King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.'


THE DREAM'S FULFILLMENT

28 "But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar.29 Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon.30 As he looked out across the city, he said, 'Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.'

  31 "While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom.32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.'

  33 "That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles' feathers and his nails were like birds' claws.


NEBUCHADNEZZAR PRAISES GOD


34 "After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.

His rule is everlasting,
  and his kingdom is eternal.
35 All the people of the earth
  are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
  among the angels of heaven
  and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
  'What do you mean by doing these things?'

  36 "When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.

  37 "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud."




Monday, August 13, 2018

Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21


1 The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD;
  he guides it wherever he pleases.

2 People may be right in their own eyes,
  but the LORD examines their heart.

3 The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just
  than when we offer him sacrifices.

4 Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
  and evil actions are all sin.

5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,
  but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

6 Wealth created by a lying tongue
  is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.*

7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away,
  because they refuse to do what is just.

8 The guilty walk a crooked path;
  the innocent travel a straight road.

9 It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic
  than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.

10 Evil people desire evil;
  their neighbors get no mercy from them.

11 If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise;
  if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser.

12 The Righteous One* knows what is going on in the homes of the wicked;
  he will bring disaster on them.

13 Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor
  will be ignored in their own time of need.

14 A secret gift calms anger;
  a bribe under the table pacifies fury.

15 Justice is a joy to the godly,
  but it terrifies evildoers.

16 The person who strays from common sense
  will end up in the company of the dead.

17 Those who love pleasure become poor;
  those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.

18 The wicked are punished in place of the godly,
  and traitors in place of the honest.

19 It's better to live alone in the desert
  than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.

20 The wise have wealth and luxury,
  but fools spend whatever they get.

21 Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love
  will find life, righteousness, and honor.

22 The wise conquer the city of the strong
  and level the fortress in which they trust.

23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut,
  and you will stay out of trouble.

24 Mockers are proud and haughty;
  they act with boundless arrogance.

25 Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin,
  for their hands refuse to work.

26 Some people are always greedy for more,
  but the godly love to give!

27 The sacrifice of an evil person is detestable,
  especially when it is offered with wrong motives.

28 A false witness will be cut off,
  but a credible witness will be allowed to speak.

29 The wicked bluff their way through,
  but the virtuous think before they act.

30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan
  can stand against the LORD.

31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
  but the victory belongs to the LORD.



Daniel 3

Daniel 3


NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S GOLD STATUE

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide* and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.2 Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up.3 So all these officials* came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

  4 Then a herald shouted out, "People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king's command!5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments,* bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's gold statue.6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."

  7 So at the sound of the musical instruments,* all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

  8 But some of the astrologers* went to the king and informed on the Jews.9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Long live the king!10 You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments.11 That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace.12 But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up."

  13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in,14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up?15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.* But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?"

  16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.18 But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."

THE BLAZING FURNACE

19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments.22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in.23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

 24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, "Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?"
  "Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did," they replied.

  25 "Look!" Nebuchadnezzar shouted. "I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god*!"

  26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!"

  So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire.27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!

  28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!"

  30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Daniel 2

Daniel 2


NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM

1 One night during the second year of his reign,* Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn't sleep.2 He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers,* and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king,3 he said, "I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means."

  4 Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic,* "Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means."

  5 But the king said to the astrologers, "I am serious about this. If you don't tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble!6 But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!"

  7 They said again, "Please, Your Majesty. Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means."

  8 The king replied, "I know what you are doing! You're stalling for time because you know I am serious when I say,9 'If you don't tell me the dream, you are doomed.' So you have conspired to tell me lies, hoping I will change my mind. But tell me the dream, and then I'll know that you can tell me what it means."

  10 The astrologers replied to the king, "No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer!11 The king's demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people."

  12 The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed.13 And because of the king's decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.

  14 When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion.15 He asked Arioch, "Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?" So Arioch told him all that had happened.16 Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.

  17 Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened.18 He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon.19 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.20 He said,

"Praise the name of God forever and ever,
  for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
  he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
  and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
  and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
  though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
  for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
  and revealed to us what the king demanded."

DANIEL INTERPRETS THE DREAM


24 Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, "Don't kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream."

  25 Arioch quickly took Daniel to the king and said, "I have found one of the captives from Judah who will tell the king the meaning of his dream!"

  26 The king said to Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar), "Is this true? Can you tell me what my dream was and what it means?"

  27 Daniel replied, "There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king's secret.28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

  29 "While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen.30 And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.

  31 "In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight.32 The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze,33 its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay.34 As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits.35 The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

  36 "That was the dream. Now we will tell the king what it means.37 Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor.38 He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and birds under your control. You are the head of gold.

  39 "But after your kingdom comes to an end, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world.40 Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth one, as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes.41 The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron.42 But while some parts of it will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay.43 This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix.

  44 "During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever.45 That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain."

NEBUCHADNEZZAR REWARDS DANIEL


46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him.47 The king said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret."

 48 Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men.49 At Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king's court.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Daniel 1

Daniel 1



DANIEL IN NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S COURT

1 During the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah,* King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.2 The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia* and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.

  3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah's royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives.4 "Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men," he said. "Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.*"5 The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.

  6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah.7 The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.

  8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel.10 But he responded, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded."

  11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.12 "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said.13 "At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see."14 The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.

  15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.

  17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.

  18 When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar.19 The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service.20 Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.

  21 Daniel remained in the royal service until the first year of the reign of King Cyrus.*


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Psalm 47

Psalm 47


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

1 Come, everyone! Clap your hands!
  Shout to God with joyful praise!

2 For the LORD Most High is awesome.
  He is the great King of all the earth.

3 He subdues the nations before us,
  putting our enemies beneath our feet.

4 He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance,
  the proud possession of Jacob's descendants, whom he loves. 

 Interlude

5 God has ascended with a mighty shout.
  The LORD has ascended with trumpets blaring.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
  sing praises to our King, sing praises!

7 For God is the King over all the earth.
  Praise him with a psalm.*

8 God reigns above the nations,
  sitting on his holy throne.

9 The rulers of the world have gathered together
  with the people of the God of Abraham.
For all the kings of the earth belong to God.
  He is highly honored everywhere.


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...