Welcome to our 2019 Read the Bible in a Year

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Sunday 18 August: Isaiah 49 & 50, Hebrews 9

Isaiah 49 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Lord’s Servant Commissioned

49 Listen to me, all you in distant lands!
    Pay attention, you who are far away!
The Lord called me before my birth;
    from within the womb he called me by name.
He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword.
    He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.
    I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.



He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel,
    and you will bring me glory.”



I replied, “But my work seems so useless!
    I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand;
    I will trust God for my reward.”



And now the Lord speaks—
    the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant,
    who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.
The Lord has honored me,
    and my God has given me strength.
He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.
    I will make you a light to the Gentiles,
    and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”



The Lord, the Redeemer
    and Holy One of Israel,
says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations,
    to the one who is the servant of rulers:
“Kings will stand at attention when you pass by.
    Princes will also bow low
because of the Lord, the faithful one,
    the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”



Promises of Israel’s Restoration

This is what the Lord says:

“At just the right time, I will respond to you.a]">[a]
    On the day of salvation I will help you.
I will protect you and give you to the people
    as my covenant with them.
Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel
    and assign it to its own people again.
I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’
They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures
    and on hills that were previously bare.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst.
    The searing sun will not reach them anymore.
For the Lord in his mercy will lead them;
    he will lead them beside cool waters.
11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.
    The highways will be raised above the valleys.
12 See, my people will return from far away,
    from lands to the north and west,
    and from as far south as Egypt.b]">[b]



13 Sing for joy, O heavens!
    Rejoice, O earth!
    Burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on them in their suffering.



14 Yet Jerusalemc]">[c] says, “The Lord has deserted us;
    the Lord has forgotten us.”



15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I would not forget you!
16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
    Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
17 Soon your descendants will come back,
    and all who are trying to destroy you will go away.
18 Look around you and see,
    for all your children will come back to you.
As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
    “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.



19 “Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land
    will soon be crowded with your people.
Your enemies who enslaved you
    will be far away.
20 The generations born in exile will return and say,
    ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’
21 Then you will think to yourself,
    ‘Who has given me all these descendants?
For most of my children were killed,
    and the rest were carried away into exile.
I was left here all alone.
    Where did all these people come from?
Who bore these children?
    Who raised them for me?’”



22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
    “See, I will give a signal to the godless nations.
They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms;
    they will bring your daughters on their shoulders.
23 Kings and queens will serve you
    and care for all your needs.
They will bow to the earth before you
    and lick the dust from your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.
    Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”



24 Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior?
    Who can demand that a tyrantd]">[d] let his captives go?
25 But the Lord says,
“The captives of warriors will be released,
    and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved.
For I will fight those who fight you,
    and I will save your children.
26 I will feed your enemies with their own flesh.
    They will be drunk with rivers of their own blood.
All the world will know that I, the Lord,
    am your Savior and your Redeemer,
    the Mighty One of Israel.e]">[e]

 

Isaiah 50 New Living Translation (NLT)

50 This is what the Lord says:

“Was your mother sent away because I divorced her?
    Did I sell you as slaves to my creditors?
No, you were sold because of your sins.
    And your mother, too, was taken because of your sins.
Why was no one there when I came?
    Why didn’t anyone answer when I called?
Is it because I have no power to rescue?
    No, that is not the reason!
For I can speak to the sea and make it dry up!
    I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish.
I dress the skies in darkness,
    covering them with clothes of mourning.”



The Lord’s Obedient Servant

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
    and I have listened.
    I have not rebelled or turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me
    and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face
    from mockery and spitting.



Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
    determined to do his will.
    And I know that I will not be put to shame.
He who gives me justice is near.
    Who will dare to bring charges against me now?
Where are my accusers?
    Let them appear!
See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side!
    Who will declare me guilty?
All my enemies will be destroyed
    like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!



10 Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness,
    without a ray of light,
trust in the Lord
    and rely on your God.
11 But watch out, you who live in your own light
    and warm yourselves by your own fires.
This is the reward you will receive from me:
    You will soon fall down in great torment.

 

Hebrews 9 New Living Translation (NLT)

Old Rules about Worship

That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle.a]">[a] In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second roomb]">[b] called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first roomc]">[c]as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacled]">[d] and the system it represented were still in use.

This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. 10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.

Christ Is the Perfect Sacrifice

11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.e]">[e] He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deedsf]">[f] so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

16 Now when someone leaves a will,g]">[g] it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.h]">[h] 17 The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

18 That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. 19 For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats,i]">[i] along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. 20 Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”j]">[j] 21 And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. 22 In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.

24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the agek]">[k] to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.

27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Monday 19 August: Isaiah 51 & 52, Hebrews 10:1-18, Psalms 97

Isaiah 51 New Living Translation (NLT)

A Call to Trust the Lord

51 “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—
    all who seek the Lord!
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were mined.
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor,
    and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.
Abraham was only one man when I called him.
    But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”



The Lord will comfort Israela]">[a] again
    and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
    her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
    Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.



“Listen to me, my people.
    Hear me, Israel,
for my law will be proclaimed,
    and my justice will become a light to the nations.
My mercy and justice are coming soon.
    My salvation is on the way.
    My strong arm will bring justice to the nations.
All distant lands will look to me
    and wait in hope for my powerful arm.
Look up to the skies above,
    and gaze down on the earth below.
For the skies will disappear like smoke,
    and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing.
The people of the earth will die like flies,
    but my salvation lasts forever.
    My righteous rule will never end!



“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong,
    you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
    nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
    The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
    My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”



Wake up, wake up, O Lord! Clothe yourself with strength!
    Flex your mighty right arm!
Rouse yourself as in the days of old
    when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile.b]">[b]
10 Are you not the same today,
    the one who dried up the sea,
making a path of escape through the depths
    so that your people could cross over?
11 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalemc]">[c] singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
    and they will be filled with joy and gladness.



12 “I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.
    So why are you afraid of mere humans,
    who wither like the grass and disappear?
13 Yet you have forgotten the Lord, your Creator,
    the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy
    and laid the foundations of the earth.
Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors?
    Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies?
Where is their fury and anger now?
    It is gone!
14 Soon all you captives will be released!
    Imprisonment, starvation, and death will not be your fate!
15 For I am the Lord your God,
    who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar.
    My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
16 And I have put my words in your mouth
    and hidden you safely in my hand.
I stretched outd]">[d] the sky like a canopy
    and laid the foundations of the earth.
I am the one who says to Israel,
    ‘You are my people!’”



17 Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem!
    You have drunk the cup of the Lord’s fury.
You have drunk the cup of terror,
    tipping out its last drops.
18 Not one of your children is left alive
    to take your hand and guide you.
19 These two calamities have fallen on you:
    desolation and destruction, famine and war.
And who is left to sympathize with you?
    Who is left to comfort you?e]">[e]
20 For your children have fainted and lie in the streets,
    helpless as antelopes caught in a net.
The Lord has poured out his fury;
    God has rebuked them.



21 But now listen to this, you afflicted ones
    who sit in a drunken stupor,
    though not from drinking wine.
22 This is what the Sovereign Lord,
    your God and Defender, says:
“See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands.
    You will drink no more of my fury.
23 Instead, I will hand that cup to your tormentors,
    those who said, ‘We will trample you into the dust
    and walk on your backs.’”

 

Isaiah 52 New Living Translation (NLT)

Deliverance for Jerusalem

52 Wake up, wake up, O Zion!
    Clothe yourself with strength.
Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem,
    for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer.
Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem.
    Sit in a place of honor.
Remove the chains of slavery from your neck,
    O captive daughter of Zion.
For this is what the Lord says:
“When I sold you into exile,
    I received no payment.
Now I can redeem you
    without having to pay for you.”



This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Long ago my people chose to live in Egypt. Now they are oppressed by Assyria. What is this?” asks the Lord. “Why are my people enslaved again? Those who rule them shout in exultation.a]">[a] My name is blasphemed all day long.b]">[b] But I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that I am the one who speaks to them.”

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
    the news that the God of Israelc]">[c] reigns!
The watchmen shout and sing with joy,
    for before their very eyes
    they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem.d]">[d]
Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song,
    for the Lord has comforted his people.
    He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has demonstrated his holy power
    before the eyes of all the nations.
All the ends of the earth will see
    the victory of our God.



11 Get out! Get out and leave your captivity,
    where everything you touch is unclean.
Get out of there and purify yourselves,
    you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord.
12 You will not leave in a hurry,
    running for your lives.
For the Lord will go ahead of you;
    yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.



The Lord’s Suffering Servant

13 See, my servant will prosper;
    he will be highly exalted.
14 But many were amazed when they saw him.e]">[e]
    His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human,
    and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.
15 And he will startlef]">[f] many nations.
    Kings will stand speechless in his presence.
For they will see what they had not been told;
    they will understand what they had not heard about.g]">[g]

 

Hebrews 10:1-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

10 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.

But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year.For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christa]">[a] came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
    But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings
    or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
    as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”b]">[b]



First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,

16 “This is the new covenant I will make
    with my people on that day,c]">[c] says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”d]">[d]



17 Then he says,

“I will never again remember
    their sins and lawless deeds.”e]">[e]



18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

 

Psalm 97 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 97

The Lord is king!
    Let the earth rejoice!
    Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
Dark clouds surround him.
    Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire spreads ahead of him
    and burns up all his foes.
His lightning flashes out across the world.
    The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory.
Those who worship idols are disgraced—
    all who brag about their worthless gods—
    for every god must bow to him.
Jerusalema]">[a] has heard and rejoiced,
    and all the towns of Judah are glad
    because of your justice, O Lord!
For you, O Lord, are supreme over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.



10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
    He protects the lives of his godly people
    and rescues them from the power of the wicked.
11 Light shines on the godly,
    and joy on those whose hearts are right.
12 May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
    and praise his holy name!

Tuesday 20 August: Isaiah 53 & 54, Hebrews 10:19-39

Isaiah 53 New Living Translation (NLT)

53 Who has believed our message?
    To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.



Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrowsa]">[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.



He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.b]">[b]
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.c]">[c]
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
    and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
    he was put in a rich man’s grave.



10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
    and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
    he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
    and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
    he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
    my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
    for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
    because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
    He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

 

Isaiah 54 New Living Translation (NLT)

Future Glory for Jerusalem

54 “Sing, O childless woman,
    you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
    you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman now has more children
    than the woman who lives with her husband,”
    says the Lord.
“Enlarge your house; build an addition.
    Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
    Your descendants will occupy other nations
    and resettle the ruined cities.



“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
    Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
    and the sorrows of widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband;
    the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
    the God of all the earth.
For the Lord has called you back from your grief—
    as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
    says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with great compassion I will take you back.
In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while.
    But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord, your Redeemer.



“Just as I swore in the time of Noah
    that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,
so now I swear
    that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10 For the mountains may move
    and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain.
    My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”
    says the Lord, who has mercy on you.



11 “O storm-battered city,
    troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels
    and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your towers of sparkling rubies,
    your gates of shining gems,
    and your walls of precious stones.
13 I will teach all your children,
    and they will enjoy great peace.
14 You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.
    Your enemies will stay far away.
You will live in peace,
    and terror will not come near.
15 If any nation comes to fight you,
    it is not because I sent them.
    Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.



16 “I have created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals beneath the forge
and makes the weapons of destruction.
    And I have created the armies that destroy.
17 But in that coming day
    no weapon turned against you will succeed.
You will silence every voice
    raised up to accuse you.
These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord;
    their vindication will come from me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

 

Hebrews 10:19-39 New Living Translation (NLT)

A Call to Persevere

19 And so, dear brothers and sisters,a]">[a] we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death,b]">[b] Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said,

“I will take revenge.
    I will pay them back.”c]">[c]



He also said,

“The Lord will judge his own people.”d]">[d]



31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ.e]">[e]Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

37 “For in just a little while,
    the Coming One will come and not delay.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.f]">[f]
    But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”g]">[g]



39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

 

Wednesday 21 August: Isaiah 55 & 56, Hebrews 11:1-17, Psalms 98

Isaiah 55 New Living Translation (NLT)

Invitation to the Lord’s Salvation

55 “Is anyone thirsty?
    Come and drink—
    even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
    it’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
    Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
    You will enjoy the finest food.



“Come to me with your ears wide open.
    Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
    I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
See how I used him to display my power among the peoples.
    I made him a leader among the nations.
You also will command nations you do not know,
    and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey,
because I, the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”



Seek the Lord while you can find him.
    Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.



“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.



10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12 You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

 

Isaiah 56 New Living Translation (NLT)

Blessings for All Nations

56 This is what the Lord says:

“Be just and fair to all.
    Do what is right and good,
for I am coming soon to rescue you
    and to display my righteousness among you.
Blessed are all those
    who are careful to do this.
Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest
    and keep themselves from doing wrong.



“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say,
    ‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’
And don’t let the eunuchs say,
    ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
For this is what the Lord says:
I will bless those eunuchs
    who keep my Sabbath days holy
and who choose to do what pleases me
    and commit their lives to me.
I will give them—within the walls of my house—
    a memorial and a name
    far greater than sons and daughters could give.
For the name I give them is an everlasting one.
    It will never disappear!



“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord,
    who serve him and love his name,
who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest,
    and who hold fast to my covenant.
I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem
    and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer.
I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
For the Sovereign Lord,
    who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says:
I will bring others, too,
    besides my people Israel.”



Sinful Leaders Condemned

Come, wild animals of the field!
    Come, wild animals of the forest!
    Come and devour my people!
10 For the leaders of my people—
    the Lord’s watchmen, his shepherds—
    are blind and ignorant.
They are like silent watchdogs
    that give no warning when danger comes.
They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming.
11     Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied.
They are ignorant shepherds,
    all following their own path
    and intent on personal gain.
12 “Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party.
    Let’s all get drunk.
Then tomorrow we’ll do it again
    and have an even bigger party!”

 

Hebrews 11:1-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

Great Examples of Faith

11 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”a]">[a] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believedb]">[b] that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac,

 

Psalm 98 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 98

A psalm.

Sing a new song to the Lord,
    for he has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory;
    his holy arm has shown his saving power!
The Lord has announced his victory
    and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!
He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.
    The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.



Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
    break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
    Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!



Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
    Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
    Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
before the Lord,
    for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
    and the nations with fairness.

Thursday 22 August: Isaiah 57 & 58, Hebrews 11:18-40

Isaiah 57 New Living Translation (NLT)

57 Good people pass away;
    the godly often die before their time.
    But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
    that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
For those who follow godly paths
    will rest in peace when they die.



Idolatrous Worship Condemned

“But you—come here, you witches’ children,
    you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
Whom do you mock,
    making faces and sticking out your tongues?
    You children of sinners and liars!
You worship your idols with great passion
    beneath the oaks and under every green tree.
You sacrifice your children down in the valleys,
    among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys.
    You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings.
They, not I, are your inheritance.
    Do you think all this makes me happy?
You have committed adultery on every high mountain.
    There you have worshiped idols
    and have been unfaithful to me.
You have put pagan symbols
    on your doorposts and behind your doors.
You have left me
    and climbed into bed with these detestable gods.
You have committed yourselves to them.
    You love to look at their naked bodies.
You have gone to Molecha]">[a]
    with olive oil and many perfumes,
sending your agents far and wide,
    even to the world of the dead.b]">[b]
10 You grew weary in your search,
    but you never gave up.
Desire gave you renewed strength,
    and you did not grow weary.



11 “Are you afraid of these idols?
    Do they terrify you?
Is that why you have lied to me
    and forgotten me and my words?
Is it because of my long silence
    that you no longer fear me?
12 Now I will expose your so-called good deeds.
    None of them will help you.
13 Let’s see if your idols can save you
    when you cry to them for help.
Why, a puff of wind can knock them down!
    If you just breathe on them, they fall over!
But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land
    and possess my holy mountain.”



God Forgives the Repentant

14 God says, “Rebuild the road!
    Clear away the rocks and stones
    so my people can return from captivity.”
15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
    the Holy One, says this:
“I live in the high and holy place
    with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
    and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
16 For I will not fight against you forever;
    I will not always be angry.
If I were, all people would pass away—
    all the souls I have made.
17 I was angry,
    so I punished these greedy people.
I withdrew from them,
    but they kept going on their own stubborn way.
18 I have seen what they do,
    but I will heal them anyway!
    I will lead them.
I will comfort those who mourn,
19     bringing words of praise to their lips.
May they have abundant peace, both near and far,”
    says the Lord, who heals them.
20 “But those who still reject me are like the restless sea,
    which is never still
    but continually churns up mud and dirt.
21 There is no peace for the wicked,”
    says my God.

 

Isaiah 58 New Living Translation (NLT)

True and False Worship

58 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
    Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israela]">[a] of their sins!
    Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
    and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
    that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
    pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
    ‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
    and you don’t even notice it!’



“I will tell you why!” I respond.
    “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
    you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
    when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
    will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
    by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
    like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
    and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
    Do you really think this will please the Lord?



“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.



“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
    and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
    and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
    ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.



“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
    Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
    and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
    and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
    Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
    and a restorer of homes.



13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy.
    Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
    and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
    and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14 Then the Lord will be your delight.
    I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

 

Hebrews 11:18-40 New Living Translation (NLT)

18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”a]">[a] 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.

30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,b]">[b] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

 

 

Friday 23 August: Isaiah 59 & 60, Hebrews 12:1-17, Psalms 99

Isaiah 59 New Living Translation (NLT)

Warnings against Sin

59 Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
    nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
    Because of your sins, he has turned away
    and will not listen anymore.
Your hands are the hands of murderers,
    and your fingers are filthy with sin.
Your lips are full of lies,
    and your mouth spews corruption.



No one cares about being fair and honest.
    The people’s lawsuits are based on lies.
They conceive evil deeds
    and then give birth to sin.
They hatch deadly snakes
    and weave spiders’ webs.
Whoever eats their eggs will die;
    whoever cracks them will hatch a viper.
Their webs can’t be made into clothing,
    and nothing they do is productive.
All their activity is filled with sin,
    and violence is their trademark.
Their feet run to do evil,
    and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
    Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace
    or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
    and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.



So there is no justice among us,
    and we know nothing about right living.
We look for light but find only darkness.
    We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
10 We grope like the blind along a wall,
    feeling our way like people without eyes.
Even at brightest noontime,
    we stumble as though it were dark.
Among the living,
    we are like the dead.
11 We growl like hungry bears;
    we moan like mournful doves.
We look for justice, but it never comes.
    We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.
12 For our sins are piled up before God
    and testify against us.
    Yes, we know what sinners we are.
13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the Lord.
    We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
    carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
    and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
    and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
    and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.



The Lord looked and was displeased
    to find there was no justice.
16 He was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
    and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his body armor
    and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
    His fury will fall on his foes.
    He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord;
    in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
    driven by the breath of the Lord.a]">[a]



20 “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
    to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”b]">[b]
    says the Lord.



21 “And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!

 

Isaiah 60 New Living Translation (NLT)

Future Glory for Jerusalem

60 “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
    For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you.
Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
    but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.
All nations will come to your light;
    mighty kings will come to see your radiance.



“Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
    Your sons are coming from distant lands;
    your little daughters will be carried home.
Your eyes will shine,
    and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
    They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,
    the camels of Midian and Ephah.
The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense
    and will come worshiping the Lord.
The flocks of Kedar will be given to you,
    and the rams of Nebaioth will be brought for my altars.
I will accept their offerings,
    and I will make my Temple glorious.



“And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel,
    like doves to their nests?
They are ships from the ends of the earth,
    from lands that trust in me,
    led by the great ships of Tarshish.
They are bringing the people of Israel home from far away,
    carrying their silver and gold.
They will honor the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has filled you with splendor.



10 “Foreigners will come to rebuild your towns,
    and their kings will serve you.
For though I have destroyed you in my anger,
    I will now have mercy on you through my grace.
11 Your gates will stay open day and night
    to receive the wealth of many lands.
The kings of the world will be led as captives
    in a victory procession.
12 For the nations that refuse to serve you
    will be destroyed.



13 “The glory of Lebanon will be yours—
    the forests of cypress, fir, and pine—
to beautify my sanctuary.
    My Temple will be glorious!
14 The descendants of your tormentors
    will come and bow before you.
Those who despised you
    will kiss your feet.
They will call you the City of the Lord,
    and Zion of the Holy One of Israel.



15 “Though you were once despised and hated,
    with no one traveling through you,
I will make you beautiful forever,
    a joy to all generations.
16 Powerful kings and mighty nations
    will satisfy your every need,
as though you were a child
    nursing at the breast of a queen.
You will know at last that I, the Lord,
    am your Savior and your Redeemer,
    the Mighty One of Israel.a]">[a]
17 I will exchange your bronze for gold,
    your iron for silver,
your wood for bronze,
    and your stones for iron.
I will make peace your leader
    and righteousness your ruler.
18 Violence will disappear from your land;
    the desolation and destruction of war will end.
Salvation will surround you like city walls,
    and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.



19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
    nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set;
    your moon will not go down.
For the Lord will be your everlasting light.
    Your days of mourning will come to an end.
21 All your people will be righteous.
    They will possess their land forever,
for I will plant them there with my own hands
    in order to bring myself glory.
22 The smallest family will become a thousand people,
    and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation.
    At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

 

Hebrews 12:1-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

God’s Discipline Proves His Love

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.a]">[a] Because of the joyb]">[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;c]">[c] then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?d]">[d] He said, 

“My child,e]">[e] don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”f]">[f]



As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?g]">[g]

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

A Call to Listen to God

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.17 You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

 

Psalm 99 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 99

The Lord is king!
    Let the nations tremble!
He sits on his throne between the cherubim.
    Let the whole earth quake!
The Lord sits in majesty in Jerusalem,a]">[a]
    exalted above all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name.
    Your name is holy!
Mighty King, lover of justice,
    you have established fairness.
You have acted with justice
    and righteousness throughout Israel.b]">[b]
Exalt the Lord our God!
    Bow low before his feet, for he is holy!



Moses and Aaron were among his priests;
    Samuel also called on his name.
They cried to the Lord for help,
    and he answered them.
He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud,
    and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.
Lord our God, you answered them.
    You were a forgiving God to them,
    but you punished them when they went wrong.



Exalt the Lord our God,
    and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem,
    for the Lord our God is holy!

Saturday 24 August: Isaiah 61 & 62, Hebrews 12:18-29

Isaiah 61 New Living Translation (NLT)

Good News for the Oppressed

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.a]">[a]
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,b]">[b]
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,c]">[c]
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.



They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
    They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
    and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
    ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
    and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.



“For I, the Lord, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the Lord has blessed.”



10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.

 

Isaiah 62 New Living Translation (NLT)

Isaiah’s Prayer for Jerusalem

62 Because I love Zion,
    I will not keep still.
Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem,
    I cannot remain silent.
I will not stop praying for her
    until her righteousness shines like the dawn,
    and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
The nations will see your righteousness.
    World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
    by the Lord’s own mouth.
The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—
    a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”a]">[a]
    or “The Desolate Land.”b]">[b]
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”c]">[c]
    and “The Bride of God,”d]">[d]
for the Lord delights in you
    and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.



O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls;
    they will pray day and night, continually.
    Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.
Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work,
    until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength:
    “I will never again hand you over to your enemies.
Never again will foreign warriors come
    and take away your grain and new wine.
You raised the grain, and you will eat it,
    praising the Lord.
Within the courtyards of the Temple,
    you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”



10 Go out through the gates!
    Prepare the highway for my people to return!
Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders;
    raise a flag for all the nations to see.
11 The Lord has sent this message to every land:
    “Tell the people of Israel,e]">[e]
‘Look, your Savior is coming.
    See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”
12 They will be called “The Holy People”
    and “The People Redeemed by the Lord.”
And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place”
    and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”

 

Hebrews 12:18-29 New Living Translation (NLT)

18 You have not come to a physical mountain,a]">[a] to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”b]">[b] 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”c]">[c]

22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.”d]">[d] 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.

Sunday 25 August: Isaiah 63 & 64, Hebrews 13, Psalms 100

Isaiah 63 New Living Translation (NLT)

Judgment against the Lord’s Enemies

63 Who is this who comes from Edom,
    from the city of Bozrah,
    with his clothing stained red?
Who is this in royal robes,
    marching in his great strength?



“It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation!
    It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!”



Why are your clothes so red,
    as if you have been treading out grapes?



“I have been treading the winepress alone;
    no one was there to help me.
In my anger I have trampled my enemies
    as if they were grapes.
In my fury I have trampled my foes.
    Their blood has stained my clothes.
For the time has come for me to avenge my people,
    to ransom them from their oppressors.
I was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm,
    and my wrath sustained me.
I crushed the nations in my anger
    and made them stagger and fall to the ground,
    spilling their blood upon the earth.”



Praise for Deliverance

I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love.
    I will praise the Lord for all he has done.
I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel,
    which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
He said, “They are my very own people.
    Surely they will not betray me again.”
    And he became their Savior.
In all their suffering he also suffered,
    and he personallya]">[a] rescued them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them.
    He lifted them up and carried them
    through all the years.
10 But they rebelled against him
    and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he became their enemy
    and fought against them.



11 Then they remembered those days of old
    when Moses led his people out of Egypt.
They cried out, “Where is the one who brought Israel through the sea,
    with Moses as their shepherd?
Where is the one who sent his Holy Spirit
    to be among his people?
12 Where is the one whose power was displayed
    when Moses lifted up his hand—
the one who divided the sea before them,
    making himself famous forever?
13 Where is the one who led them through the bottom of the sea?
    They were like fine stallions
    racing through the desert, never stumbling.
14 As with cattle going down into a peaceful valley,
    the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest.
You led your people, Lord,
    and gained a magnificent reputation.”



Prayer for Mercy and Pardon

15 Lord, look down from heaven;
    look from your holy, glorious home, and see us.
Where is the passion and the might
    you used to show on our behalf?
    Where are your mercy and compassion now?
16 Surely you are still our Father!
    Even if Abraham and Jacobb]">[b] would disown us,
Lord, you would still be our Father.
    You are our Redeemer from ages past.
17 Lord, why have you allowed us to turn from your path?
    Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you?
Return and help us, for we are your servants,
    the tribes that are your special possession.
18 How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place,
    and now our enemies have destroyed it.
19 Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you,
    as though we had never been known as your people.

 

Isaiah 64 New Living Translation (NLT)

64 a]">[a]Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!
    How the mountains would quake in your presence!
b]">[b]As fire causes wood to burn
    and water to boil,
your coming would make the nations tremble.
    Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
When you came down long ago,
    you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
    And oh, how the mountains quaked!
For since the world began,
    no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
    who works for those who wait for him!
You welcome those who gladly do good,
    who follow godly ways.
But you have been very angry with us,
    for we are not godly.
We are constant sinners;
    how can people like us be saved?
We are all infected and impure with sin.
    When we display our righteous deeds,
    they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
    and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Yet no one calls on your name
    or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
    and turned us overc]">[c] to our sins.



And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.
Don’t be so angry with us, Lord.
    Please don’t remember our sins forever.
Look at us, we pray,
    and see that we are all your people.
10 Your holy cities are destroyed.
    Zion is a wilderness;
    yes, Jerusalem is a desolate ruin.
11 The holy and beautiful Temple
    where our ancestors praised you
has been burned down,
    and all the things of beauty are destroyed.
12 After all this, Lord, must you still refuse to help us?
    Will you continue to be silent and punish us?

 

Hebrews 13 New Living Translation (NLT)

Concluding Words

13 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.a]">[a] Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,

“I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.”b]">[b]



So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper,
    so I will have no fear.
    What can mere people do to me?”c]">[c]



Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.

10 We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacled]">[d] have no right to eat.11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. 12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. 13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

18 Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do. 19 And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon.

20 Now may the God of peace—
    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
    and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,e]">[e]
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.



22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters,f]">[f] to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation.

23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released from jail. If he comes here soon, I will bring him with me to see you.

24 Greet all your leaders and all the believers there.g]">[g] The believers from Italy send you their greetings.

25 May God’s grace be with you all.

 

Psalm 100 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.a]">[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Monday 26 August: Isaiah 65 & 66, Galatians 1

Isaiah 65 New Living Translation (NLT)

Judgment and Final Salvation

65 The Lord says,

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
    I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
    to a nation that did not call on my name.a]">[a]
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.b]">[b]
    But they follow their own evil paths
    and their own crooked schemes.
All day long they insult me to my face
    by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens.
    They burn incense on pagan altars.
At night they go out among the graves,
    worshiping the dead.
They eat the flesh of pigs
    and make stews with other forbidden foods.
Yet they say to each other,
    ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
    I am holier than you!’
These people are a stench in my nostrils,
    an acrid smell that never goes away.



“Look, my decree is written outc]">[c] in front of me:
    I will not stand silent;
I will repay them in full!
    Yes, I will repay them—
both for their own sins
    and for those of their ancestors,”
    says the Lord.
“For they also burned incense on the mountains
    and insulted me on the hills.
    I will pay them back in full!



“But I will not destroy them all,”
    says the Lord.
“For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones
    (and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away—
    some of those grapes are good!’),
so I will not destroy all Israel.
    For I still have true servants there.
I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israeld]">[d]
    and of Judah to possess my land.
Those I choose will inherit it,
    and my servants will live there.
10 The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks
    for my people who have searched for me,
    and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds.



11 “But because the rest of you have forsaken the Lord
    and have forgotten his Temple,
and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate
    and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny,
12 now I will ‘destine’ you for the sword.
    All of you will bow down before the executioner.
For when I called, you did not answer.
    When I spoke, you did not listen.
You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes—
    and chose to do what you know I despise.”



13 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“My servants will eat,
    but you will starve.
My servants will drink,
    but you will be thirsty.
My servants will rejoice,
    but you will be sad and ashamed.
14 My servants will sing for joy,
    but you will cry in sorrow and despair.
15 Your name will be a curse word among my people,
    for the Sovereign Lord will destroy you
    and will call his true servants by another name.
16 All who invoke a blessing or take an oath
    will do so by the God of truth.
For I will put aside my anger
    and forget the evil of earlier days.



17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
    and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
18 Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
    And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
    Her people will be a source of joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
    and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
    will be heard in it no more.



20 “No longer will babies die when only a few days old.
    No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life.
No longer will people be considered old at one hundred!
    Only the cursed will die that young!
21 In those days people will live in the houses they build
    and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
22 Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses
    and confiscate their vineyards.
For my people will live as long as trees,
    and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
23 They will not work in vain,
    and their children will not be doomed to misfortune.
For they are people blessed by the Lord,
    and their children, too, will be blessed.
24 I will answer them before they even call to me.
    While they are still talking about their needs,
    I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
    But the snakes will eat dust.
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

 

Isaiah 66 New Living Translation (NLT)

66 This is what the Lord says: 

“Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?
    Could you build me such a resting place?
My hands have made both heaven and earth;
    they and everything in them are mine.a]">[a]
    I, the Lord, have spoken!



“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
    who tremble at my word.
But those who choose their own ways—
    delighting in their detestable sins—
    will not have their offerings accepted.
When such people sacrifice a bull,
    it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice.
When they sacrifice a lamb,
    it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog!
When they bring an offering of grain,
    they might as well offer the blood of a pig.
When they burn frankincense,
    it’s as if they had blessed an idol.
I will send them great trouble—
    all the things they feared.
For when I called, they did not answer.
    When I spoke, they did not listen.
They deliberately sinned before my very eyes
    and chose to do what they know I despise.”



Hear this message from the Lord,
    all you who tremble at his words:
“Your own people hate you
    and throw you out for being loyal to my name.
‘Let the Lord be honored!’ they scoff.
    ‘Be joyful in him!’
    But they will be put to shame.
What is all the commotion in the city?
    What is that terrible noise from the Temple?
It is the voice of the Lord
    taking vengeance against his enemies.



“Before the birth pains even begin,
    Jerusalem gives birth to a son.
Who has ever seen anything as strange as this?
    Who ever heard of such a thing?
Has a nation ever been born in a single day?
    Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment?
But by the time Jerusalem’sb]">[b] birth pains begin,
    her children will be born.
Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth
    and then not deliver it?” asks the Lord.
“No! I would never keep this nation from being born,”
    says your God.



10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem!
    Be glad with her, all you who love her
    and all you who mourn for her.
11 Drink deeply of her glory
    even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.”



12 This is what the Lord says:
“I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity.
    The wealth of the nations will flow to her.
Her children will be nursed at her breasts,
    carried in her arms, and held on her lap.
13 I will comfort you there in Jerusalem
    as a mother comforts her child.”



14 When you see these things, your heart will rejoice.
    You will flourish like the grass!
Everyone will see the Lord’s hand of blessing on his servants—
    and his anger against his enemies.
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,
    and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind.
He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger
    and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke.
16 The Lord will punish the world by fire
    and by his sword.
He will judge the earth,
    and many will be killed by him.



17 “Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the Lord.

18 “I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory. 19 I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyansc]">[c] and Lydiansd]">[d] (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece,e]">[e] and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations. 20 They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord. They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. 21 “And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the Lord, have spoken!

22 “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain,
    so will you always be my people,
with a name that will never disappear,”
    says the Lord.
23 “All humanity will come to worship me
    from week to week
    and from month to month.
24 And as they go out, they will see
    the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me.
For the worms that devour them will never die,
    and the fire that burns them will never go out.
All who pass by
    will view them with utter horror.”

 

Galatians 1 New Living Translation (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

All the brothers and sistersa]">[a] here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.

May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christb]">[b] give you grace and peace.Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

There Is Only One Good News

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.c]">[c] You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.

10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Paul’s Message Comes from Christ

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.d]">[d]

13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.

15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to mee]">[e] so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.f]">[f] 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.

18 Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter,g]">[g] and I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.

21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Tuesday 27 August: 2 Kings 17, Galatians 2:1-14, Proverbs 20

2 Kings 17 New Living Translation (NLT)

Hoshea Rules in Israel

17 Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him.

King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute and conspired against the king of Assyria by asking King So of Egypta]">[a] to help him shake free of Assyria’s power. When the king of Assyria discovered this treachery, he seized Hoshea and put him in prison.

Samaria Falls to Assyria

Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols,b]">[b] despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings.

13 Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.”

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire.c]">[c] They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.

18 Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land. 19 But even the people of Judah refused to obey the commands of the Lord their God, for they followed the evil practices that Israel had introduced. 20 The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel. He punished them by handing them over to their attackers until he had banished Israel from his presence.

21 For when the Lordd]">[d] tore Israel away from the kingdom of David, they chose Jeroboam son of Nebat as their king. But Jeroboam drew Israel away from following the Lord and made them commit a great sin. 22 And the people of Israel persisted in all the evil ways of Jeroboam. They did not turn from these sins 23 until the Lord finally swept them away from his presence, just as all his prophets had warned. So Israel was exiled from their land to Assyria, where they remain to this day.

Foreigners Settle in Israel

24 The king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 But since these foreign settlers did not worship the Lord when they first arrived, the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.

26 So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.”

27 The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord.

29 But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Samaria had built. 30 Those from Babylon worshiped idols of their god Succoth-benoth. Those from Cuthah worshiped their god Nergal. And those from Hamath worshiped Ashima. 31 The Avvites worshiped their gods Nibhaz and Tartak. And the people from Sepharvaim even burned their own children as sacrifices to their gods Adrammelech and Anammelech.

32 These new residents worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests to offer sacrifices at their places of worship. 33 And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came.34 And this is still going on today. They continue to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord and obeying the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel.

35 For the Lord had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. 36 But worship only the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him. 37 Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.”

40 But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices.41 So while these new residents worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same.

 

Galatians 2:1-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Apostles Accept Paul

Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing. And they supported me and did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile.a]">[a]

Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, reallyb]">[b]—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.

And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.) Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles.

In fact, James, Peter,c]">[c] and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do.

Paul Confronts Peter

11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?

 

Proverbs 20 New Living Translation (NLT)

20 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls.
    Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.



The king’s fury is like a lion’s roar;
    to rouse his anger is to risk your life.



Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;
    only fools insist on quarreling.



Those too lazy to plow in the right season
    will have no food at the harvest.



Though good advice lies deep within the heart,
    a person with understanding will draw it out.



Many will say they are loyal friends,
    but who can find one who is truly reliable?



The godly walk with integrity;
    blessed are their children who follow them.



When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence,
    distinguishing the bad from the good.



Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart;
    I am pure and free from sin”?



10 False weights and unequal measuresa]">[a]
    the Lord detests double standards of every kind.



11 Even children are known by the way they act,
    whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right.



12 Ears to hear and eyes to see—
    both are gifts from the Lord.



13 If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.
    Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!



14 The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,”
    then brags about getting a bargain!



15 Wise words are more valuable
    than much gold and many rubies.



16 Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt.
    Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.b]">[b]



17 Stolen bread tastes sweet,
    but it turns to gravel in the mouth.



18 Plans succeed through good counsel;
    don’t go to war without wise advice.



19 A gossip goes around telling secrets,
    so don’t hang around with chatterers.



20 If you insult your father or mother,
    your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.



21 An inheritance obtained too early in life
    is not a blessing in the end.



22 Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.”
    Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.



23 The Lord detests double standards;
    he is not pleased by dishonest scales.



24 The Lord directs our steps,
    so why try to understand everything along the way?



25 Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God
    and only later counting the cost.



26 A wise king scatters the wicked like wheat,
    then runs his threshing wheel over them.



27 The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit,c]">[c]
    exposing every hidden motive.



28 Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king;
    his throne is made secure through love.



29 The glory of the young is their strength;
    the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.



30 Physical punishment cleanses away evil;d]">[d]
    such discipline purifies the heart.

Wednesday 28 August: 2 Kings 18 & 19, Galatians 2:15 - 3:14

2 Kings 18 New Living Translation (NLT)

Hezekiah Rules in Judah

18 Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah,a]">[a] the daughter of Zechariah. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.b]">[b]

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute. He also conquered the Philistines as far distant as Gaza and its territory, from their smallest outpost to their largest walled city.

During the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked the city of Samaria and began a siege against it. 10 Three years later, during the sixth year of King Hezekiah’s reign and the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, Samaria fell.11 At that time the king of Assyria exiled the Israelites to Assyria and placed them in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 12 For they refused to listen to the Lord their God and obey him. Instead, they violated his covenant—all the laws that Moses the Lord’s servant had commanded them to obey.

Assyria Invades Judah

13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign,c]">[c] King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. 14 King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.d]">[d] 15 To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the Lord and in the palace treasury. 16 Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the Lord’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king.

17 Nevertheless, the king of Assyria sent his commander in chief, his field commander, and his chief of staffe]">[e] from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.f]">[f] 18 They summoned King Hezekiah, but the king sent these officials to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

19 Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:

“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? 20 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me?21 On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!



22 “But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?



23 “I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! 24 With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers?25 What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”



26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew,g]">[g] for the people on the wall will hear.”

27 But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”

28 Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power. 30 Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’

31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 32 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards, olive groves and honey. Choose life instead of death!

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ 33 Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 34 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 35 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

36 But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”

37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.

 

2 Kings 19 New Living Translation (NLT)

Hezekiah Seeks the Lord’s Help

19 When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby. But perhaps the Lord your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff,a]">[a] sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!”

After King Hezekiah’s officials delivered the king’s message to Isaiah, the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him,b]">[b] and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’”

Meanwhile, the Assyrian chief of staff left Jerusalem and went to consult the king of Assyria, who had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah.

Soon afterward King Sennacherib received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopiac]">[c]was leading an army to fight against him. Before leaving to meet the attack, he sent messengers back to Hezekiah in Jerusalem with this message:

10 “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. 11 You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? 12 Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! 13 What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”



14 After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 16 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

17 “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations.18 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Isaiah Predicts Judah’s Deliverance

20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 And the Lord has spoken this word against him:

“The virgin daughter of Zion
    despises you and laughs at you.
The daughter of Jerusalem
    shakes her head in derision as you flee.



22 “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing?
    Against whom did you raise your voice?
At whom did you look with such haughty eyes?
    It was the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers you have defied the Lord.
    You have said, ‘With my many chariots
I have conquered the highest mountains—
    yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars
    and its finest cypress trees.
I have reached its farthest corners
    and explored its deepest forests.
24 I have dug wells in many foreign lands
    and refreshed myself with their water.
With the sole of my foot
    I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’



25 “But have you not heard?
    I decided this long ago.
Long ago I planned it,
    and now I am making it happen.
I planned for you to crush fortified cities
    into heaps of rubble.
26 That is why their people have so little power
    and are so frightened and confused.
They are as weak as grass,
    as easily trampled as tender green shoots.
They are like grass sprouting on a housetop,
    scorched before it can grow lush and tall.



27 “But I know you well—
    where you stay
and when you come and go.
    I know the way you have raged against me.
28 And because of your raging against me
    and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself,
I will put my hook in your nose
    and my bit in your mouth.
I will make you return
    by the same road on which you came.”



29 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Here is the proof that what I say is true:

“This year you will eat only what grows up by itself,
    and next year you will eat what springs up from that.
But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them;
    you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 And you who are left in Judah,
    who have escaped the ravages of the siege,
will put roots down in your own soil
    and will grow up and flourish.
31 For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem,
    a group of survivors from Mount Zion.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armiesd]">[d]
    will make this happen!



32 “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:

“His armies will not enter Jerusalem.
    They will not even shoot an arrow at it.
They will not march outside its gates with their shields
    nor build banks of earth against its walls.
33 The king will return to his own country
    by the same road on which he came.
He will not enter this city,
    says the Lord.
34 For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David,
    I will defend this city and protect it.”



35 That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrianse]">[e] woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. 36 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

37 One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sonsf]">[f]Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.

 

Galatians 2:15-3:14 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. 16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”a]">[a]

17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.b]">[b] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

The Law and Faith in Christ

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experiencedc]">[c] so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”d]">[d] The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.

What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.”e]">[e] So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.

10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.”f]">[f] 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”g]">[g] 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”h]">[h]

13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”i]">[i] 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promisedj]">[j] Holy Spirit through faith.

Thursday 29 August: 2 Chronicles 29 & 30, Galatians 3:15 - 4:7, Psalms 101

2 Chronicles 29 New Living Translation (NLT)

Hezekiah Rules in Judah

29 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became the king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.

Hezekiah Reopens the Temple

In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them. He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. He said to them, “Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and his dwelling place; they turned their backs on him.They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room, and they snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel.

“That is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. 10 But now I will make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.”

12 Then these Levites got right to work:

From the clan of Kohath: Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah.
From the clan of Merari: Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel.
From the clan of Gershon: Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah.
13 From the family of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel.
From the family of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah.
14 From the family of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei.
From the family of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel.



15 These men called together their fellow Levites, and they all purified themselves. Then they began to cleanse the Temple of the Lord, just as the king had commanded. They were careful to follow all the Lord’s instructions in their work.16 The priests went into the sanctuary of the Temple of the Lord to cleanse it, and they took out to the Temple courtyard all the defiled things they found. From there the Levites carted it all out to the Kidron Valley.

17 They began the work in early spring, on the first day of the new year,a]">[a] and in eight days they had reached the entry room of the Lord’s Temple. Then they purified the Temple of the Lord itself, which took another eight days. So the entire task was completed in sixteen days.

The Temple Rededication

18 Then the Levites went to King Hezekiah and gave him this report: “We have cleansed the entire Temple of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table of the Bread of the Presence with all its utensils. 19 We have also recovered all the items discarded by King Ahaz when he was unfaithful and closed the Temple. They are now in front of the altar of the Lord, purified and ready for use.”

20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials and went to the Temple of the Lord. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, and seven male lambs as a burnt offering, together with seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the Temple, and for Judah. The king commanded the priests, who were descendants of Aaron, to sacrifice the animals on the altar of the Lord.

22 So they killed the bulls, and the priests took the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. Next they killed the rams and sprinkled their blood on the altar. And finally, they did the same with the male lambs. 23 The male goats for the sin offering were then brought before the king and the assembly of people, who laid their hands on them. 24 The priests then killed the goats as a sin offering and sprinkled their blood on the altar to make atonement for the sins of all Israel. The king had specifically commanded that this burnt offering and sin offering should be made for all Israel.

25 King Hezekiah then stationed the Levites at the Temple of the Lord with cymbals, lyres, and harps. He obeyed all the commands that the Lord had given to King David through Gad, the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. 26 The Levites then took their positions around the Temple with the instruments of David, and the priests took their positions with the trumpets.

27 Then Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be placed on the altar. As the burnt offering was presented, songs of praise to the Lord were begun, accompanied by the trumpets and other instruments of David, the former king of Israel. 28 The entire assembly worshiped the Lord as the singers sang and the trumpets blew, until all the burnt offerings were finished. 29 Then the king and everyone with him bowed down in worship. 30 King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the psalms written by David and by Asaph the seer. So they offered joyous praise and bowed down in worship.

31 Then Hezekiah declared, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord, bring your sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings to the Temple of the Lord.” So the people brought their sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings, too. 32 The people brought to the Lord70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 male lambs for burnt offerings. 33 They also brought 600 cattle and 3,000 sheep and goats as sacred offerings.

34 But there were too few priests to prepare all the burnt offerings. So their relatives the Levites helped them until the work was finished and more priests had been purified, for the Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. 35 There was an abundance of burnt offerings, along with the usual liquid offerings, and a great deal of fat from the many peace offerings.

So the Temple of the Lord was restored to service. 36 And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.

 

2 Chronicles 30 New Living Translation (NLT)

Preparations for Passover

30 King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh. He asked everyone to come to the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The king, his officials, and all the community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate Passover a month later than usual.a]">[a] They were unable to celebrate it at the prescribed time because not enough priests could be purified by then, and the people had not yet assembled at Jerusalem.

This plan for keeping the Passover seemed right to the king and all the people.So they sent a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north, inviting everyone to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The people had not been celebrating it in great numbers as required in the Law.

At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said:

“O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,b]">[b]so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.



“For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.”



Celebration of Passover

10 The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them. 11 However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.

12 At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the Lord. 13 So a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in midspringc]">[c] to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 14 They set to work and removed the pagan altars from Jerusalem. They took away all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.

15 On the fourteenth day of the second month, one month later than usual,d]">[d] the people slaughtered the Passover lamb. This shamed the priests and Levites, so they purified themselves and brought burnt offerings to the Temple of the Lord.16 Then they took their places at the Temple as prescribed in the Law of Moses, the man of God. The Levites brought the sacrificial blood to the priests, who then sprinkled it on the altar.

17 Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord. 18 Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those 19 who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.” 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.

21 So the people of Israel who were present in Jerusalem joyously celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Each day the Levites and priests sang to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments.e]">[e] 22 Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites regarding the skill they displayed as they served the Lord. The celebration continued for seven days. Peace offerings were sacrificed, and the people gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

23 The entire assembly then decided to continue the festival another seven days, so they celebrated joyfully for another week. 24 King Hezekiah gave the people 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for offerings, and the officials donated 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. Meanwhile, many more priests purified themselves.

25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, including the priests, the Levites, all who came from the land of Israel, the foreigners who came to the festival, and all those who lived in Judah. 26 There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son. 27 Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven.

 

Galatians 3:15-4:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Law and God’s Promise

15 Dear brothers and sisters,a]">[a] here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. 16 God gave the promises to Abraham and his child.b]">[b] And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,c]">[c]” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. 17 This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. 18 For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.

19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. 20 Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.

21 Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises?d]">[d] Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. 22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.

God’s Children through Faith

23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

26 For you are all childrene]">[e] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.f]">[f] 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,g]">[g] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true childrenh]">[h] of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principlesi]">[i] of this world.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.j]">[j] And because wek]">[k] are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”l]">[l] Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.m]">[m] And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

 

Psalm 101 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 101

A psalm of David.

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.



I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.


 

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