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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Mystery of Godliness

1 Timothy 3:14) I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15) if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16) Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1) Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2) And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3) And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4) Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." 5) And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6) And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7) Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech." 8) So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9) Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Love One Another

1 John 3:11) For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12) We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13) Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14) We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15) Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17) But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18) Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
19) By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20) for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22) and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23) And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24) Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

Worship in the Splendor of Holiness

Psalm 96:1) Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2) Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3) Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4) For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5) For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6) Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7) Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8) Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9) Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
10) Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity."
11) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12) let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13) before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paul Surrenders His Rights

1 Corinthians 9:1) Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2) If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3) This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4) Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5) Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6) Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7) Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
8) Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9) For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10) Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11) If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12) If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13) Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14) In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
15) But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16) For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17) For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18) What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
19) For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20) To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21) To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23) I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
24) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25) Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26) So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Lawsuits Against Believers

1 Corinthians 6:1) When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3) Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4) So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5) I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6) but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7) To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8) But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
9) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Deliver Me from My Enemies

Psalm 59) To the choirmaster: A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.
1) Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me;
2) deliver me from those who work evil,
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
3) For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
4) for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
5) You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah
6) Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
7) There they are, bellowing with their mouths
with swords in their lips—
for "Who," they think, "will hear us?"
8) But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
you hold all the nations in derision.
9) O my Strength, I will watch for you,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
10) My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
11) Kill them not, lest my people forget;
make them totter by your power and bring them down,
O Lord, our shield!
12) For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips,
let them be trapped in their pride.
For the cursing and lies that they utter,
13) consume them in wrath;
consume them till they are no more,
that they may know that God rules over Jacob
to the ends of the earth. Selah
14) Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
15) They wander about for food
and growl if they do not get their fill.
16) But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17) O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In God I Trust

Psalm 56:1) To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me;

2) my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.
3) When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4) In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
5) All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life.
7) For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8) You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
9) Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.
10) In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11) in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
12) I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.
13) For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Revive Us Again

Psalm 85) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1) Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2) You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
3) You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
4) Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
5) Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6) Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7) Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8) Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
9) Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
10) Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11) Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12) Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13) Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.

Final Words

2 Peter 03:
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15) And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16) as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17) You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Lord Will Not Forsake His People

Psalm 94:1) O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
2) Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
3) O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4) They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5) They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
6) They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
7) and they say, "The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive."
8) Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
9) He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10) He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
11) the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.
12) Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13) to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14) For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
15) for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16) Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17) If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18) When I thought, "My foot slips,"
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19) When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
20) Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
21) They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
22) But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23) He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paul’s Joy

2 Corinthians 7:2) Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3) I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4) I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
5) For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. 6) But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7) and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8) For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9) As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10) For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11) For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 12) So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. 13) Therefore we are comforted.
And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14) For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15) And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16) I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.

From Everlasting to Everlasting

Psalm 90) A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
1) Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2) Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3) You return man to dust
and say, "Return, O children of man!"
4) For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5) You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6) in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
7) For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8) You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9) For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10) The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11) Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12) So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13) Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14) Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15) Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16) Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17) Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lights in the World

Philippians 2:12) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15) that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16) holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17) Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18) Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Divisions in the Church

1 Corinthians 1:10) I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11) For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12) What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." 13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14) I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15) so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16) (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)17) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

God Who Judges the Earth

Psalm 58) To the choirmaster: A Miktam of David.
1) Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
2) No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.
3) The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
4) They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5) so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.
6) O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
7) Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8) Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9) Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10) The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11) Mankind will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fulfilling the Law Through Love

Romans 13:8) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9) For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11) Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12) The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13) Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14) But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Luke 4:16) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17) And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18) "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

20) And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.21) And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 22) And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, "Is not this Joseph’s son?" 23) And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well." 24) And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25) But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26) and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27) And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." 28) When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29) And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30) But passing through their midst, he went away.

Give the King Your Justice

Psalm 72 Of Solomon.
1) Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2) May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3) Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4) May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
5) May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6) May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7) In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
8) May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9) May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
10) May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
11) May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
12) For he delivers lthe needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13) He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14) From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
15) Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16) May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
17) May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!
18) Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19) Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!
20) The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

God’s Sovereign Choice

Romans 9:1) I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2) that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3) For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4) They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5) To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6) But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7) and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." 8) This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9) For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." 10) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11) though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12) she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13) As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

14) What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15) For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16) So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18) So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19) You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20) But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21) Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22) What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23) in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—24) even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25) As indeed he says in Hosea,

"Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ "

26) "And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ "

27) And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28) for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay." 29) And as Isaiah predicted,

"If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah."

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

Isaiah 61:1) The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3) to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
4) They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
5) Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6) but you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
7) Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
8) For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9) Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.
10) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11) For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.

He Will Tread Down Our Foes

Psalm 60 To the choirmaster: according to Shushan Eduth. A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he istrove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.
1) O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; oh, restore us.
2) You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;
repair its breaches, for it totters.
3) You have made your people see hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
4) You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah
5) That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
6) God has spoken in his holiness:
"With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
7) Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my scepter.
8) Moab is my washbasin;
upon Edom I cast my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph."
9) Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10) Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
11) Oh, grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
12) With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To Live Is Christ

Philippians 1:18) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19) for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20) as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22) If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23) I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24) But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25) Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26) so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. 27) Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28) and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29) For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30) engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Sharper than any two-edged sword

Hebrews 4:1) Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2) For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3) For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

"As I swore in my wrath,

‘They shall not enter my rest,’ "

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4) For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." 5) And again in this passage he said,

"They shall not enter my rest."

6) Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7) again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

"Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts."

8) For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9) So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10) for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
12) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13) And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

1) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2) Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
3) and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
4) Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5) hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
6) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7) He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
8) Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9) For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
10) Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11) for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12) So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
13) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
14) He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
15) Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16) For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.
17) Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18) they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
19) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
20) He sent out his word and healed them,
and ldelivered them from their destruction.
21) Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22) And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
23) Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24) they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25) For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26) They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29) He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30) Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31) Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32) Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33) He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
34) a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the evil of its inhabitants.
35) He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
36) And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
37) they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
38) By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish.
39) When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40) he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41) but he raises up the needy out of affliction
and makes their families like flocks.
42) The upright see it and are glad,
and all wickedness shuts its mouth.
43) Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Encouragement to Give Generously

2 Corinthians 8:1) We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2) for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3) For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4) begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5) and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6) Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7) But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8) I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10) And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11) So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12) For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13) For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14) your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15) As it is written, "Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack."

He Heals the Brokenhearted

Psalm 147:1) Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2) The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3) He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4) He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5) Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6) The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7) Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8) He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9) He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10) His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11) but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12) Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13) For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14) He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15) He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16) He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17) He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18) He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19) He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20) He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do All to the Glory of God

1 Corinthians 10:23) "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. 24) Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25) Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26) For "the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof." 27) If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28) But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29) I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30) If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32) Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33) just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Cast Your Burden on the Lord

Psalm 55) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.
1) Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2) Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3) because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
4) My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5) Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6) And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7) yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8) I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”
9) Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10) Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11) ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.
12) For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
13) But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14) We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15) Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
16) But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
17) Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18) He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19) God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.
20) My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21) His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.
22) Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
23) But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Lord Upholds My Life

Psalm 54) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, "Is not David hiding among us?"
1) O God, save me by your name,
and vindicate me by your might.
2) O God, hear my prayer;
give ear to the words of my mouth.
3) For strangers have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life;
they do not set God before themselves. Selah
4) Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5) He will return the evil to my enemies;
in your faithfulness put an end to them.
6) With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7) For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Zion, the City of Our God

Psalm 48) A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1) Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain,
2) beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
3) Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress.
4) For behold, the kings assembled;
they came on together.
5) As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic; they took to flight.
6) Trembling took hold of them there,
anguish as of a woman in labor.
7) By the east wind you shattered
the ships of Tarshish.
8) As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the Lord of hosts,
in the city of our God,
which God will establish forever. Selah
9) We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10) As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11) Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!
12) Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13) consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14) that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.

Come to Our Help

Psalm 44) To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
1 ) O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
2) you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
3) for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.
4) You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
5) Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
6) For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
7) But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
8) In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
9) But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10) You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11) You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12) You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13) You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14) You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15) All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16) at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
17) All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
18) Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19) yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
20) If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21) would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22) Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 ) Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24) Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25) For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26) Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?

Psalm 49 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1) Hear this, all peoples!
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2) both low and high,
rich and poor together!
3) My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
4) I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
5) Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
6) those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7) Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8) for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
9) that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.
10) For he sees that even the wise die;
the fool and the stupid alike must perish
and leave their wealth to others.
11) Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they called lands by their own names.
12) Man in his pomp will not remain;
he is like the beasts that perish.
13) This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah
14) Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
15) But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah
16) Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
17) For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
18) For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19) his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
20) Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.