Through the Bible – Day 265

Bible text(s)

Be careful how you worship

1Be careful what you do when you enter the house of God. Some fools go there to offer sacrifices, even though they haven't sinned. But it's best just to listen when you go to worship. 2Don't talk before you think or make promises to God without thinking them through. God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so don't talk too much. 3If you keep thinking about something, you will dream about it. If you talk too much, you will say the wrong thing.

4God doesn't like fools. So don't be slow to keep your promises to God. 5It's better not to make a promise at all than to make one and not keep it. 6Don't let your mouth get you in trouble! And don't say to the worship leader, “I didn't mean what I said.” God can destroy everything you have worked for, so don't say something that makes God angry.

7Respect and obey God! Daydreaming leads to a lot of senseless talk.

8Don't be surprised if the poor of your country are abused, and injustice takes the place of justice. After all, the lower officials must do what the higher ones order them to do. 9And since the king is the highest official, he benefits most from the taxes paid on the land.

10If you love money and wealth, you will never be satisfied with what you have. This doesn't make sense either. 11The more you have, the more everyone expects from you. Your money won't do you any good—others will just spend it for you. 12If you have to work hard for a living, you can rest well at night, even if you don't have much to eat. But if you are rich, you can't even sleep.

13I have seen something terribly unfair. People get rich, but it does them no good. 14Suddenly they lose everything in a bad business deal, then have nothing to leave for their children. 15They came into this world naked, and when they die, they will be just as naked. They can't take anything with them, and they won't have anything to show for all their work. 16That's terribly unfair. They leave the world just as they came into it. They gained nothing from running after the wind. 17Besides all this, they are always gloomy at mealtimes, and they are troubled, sick, and bitter.

18What is the best thing to do in the short life that God has given us? I think we should enjoy eating, drinking, and working hard. This is what God intends us to do. 19Suppose you are very rich and able to enjoy everything you own. Then go ahead and enjoy working hard—this is God's gift to you. 20God will keep you so happy that you won't have time to worry about each day.

Don't depend on wealth

1There is something else terribly unfair, and it troubles everyone on earth. 2God may give you everything you want—money, property, and wealth. Then God doesn't let you enjoy it, and someone you don't even know gets it all. That's senseless and terribly unfair!

3You may live a long time and have a hundred children. But a child born dead is better off than you, unless you enjoy life and have a decent burial. 4-5That child will never live to see the sun or to have a name, and it will go straight to the world of darkness. But it will still find more rest than you, 6even if you live two thousand years and don't enjoy life. As you know, we all end up in the same place.

7We struggle just to have enough to eat, but we are never satisfied. 8We may be sensible, yet we are no better off than a fool. And if we are poor, it still doesn't do us any good to try to live right. 9It's better to enjoy what we have than always to want something else, because that makes no more sense than chasing the wind.

10Everything that happens was decided long ago. We humans know what we are like, and we can't argue with God, because he is too strong for us. 11The more we talk, the less sense we make, so what good does it do to talk? 12Life is short and meaningless, and it fades away like a shadow. Who knows what is best for us? Who knows what will happen after we are gone?

No one knows what the future will bring

The best in life

1A good reputation

at the time of death

is better than loving care

at the time of birth.

2It's better to go to a funeral

than to attend a feast;

funerals remind us

that we all must die.

3Choose sorrow over laughter

because a sad face

may hide a happy heart.

4A sensible person mourns,

but fools always laugh.

5Harsh correction is better

than the songs of a fool.

6Foolish laughter is stupid.

It sounds like thorns

crackling in a fire.

7Corruption makes fools

of sensible people,

and bribes can ruin you.

8Something completed is better

than something just begun;

patience is better

than too much pride.

9Only fools get angry quickly

and hold a grudge.

10It isn't wise to ask,

“Why is everything worse

than it used to be?”

11Having wisdom is better

than an inheritance.

12Wisdom will protect you

just like money;

knowledge with good sense

will lead you to life.

13Think of what God has done!

If God makes something crooked,

can you make it straight?

14When times are good,

you should be cheerful;

when times are bad,

think what it means.

God makes them both

to keep us from knowing

what will happen next.

Some of life's questions

15I have seen everything during this senseless life of mine. I have seen good citizens die for doing the right thing, and I have seen criminals live to a ripe old age. 16So don't destroy yourself by being too good or acting too clever! 17Don't die before your time by being too evil or acting like a fool. 18Keep to the middle of the road. You can do this if you truly respect God.

19Wisdom will make you stronger than the ten most powerful leaders in your city.

20No one in this world always does right.

21Don't listen to everything that everyone says, or you might hear your servant cursing you. 22Haven't you cursed many others?

23I told myself that I would be clever and try to understand all of this, but it was too much for me. 24The truth is beyond us. It's far too deep. 25So I decided to learn everything I could and become wise enough to discover what life is all about. At the same time, I wanted to understand why it's stupid and senseless to be an evil fool.

26Here is what I discovered: a bad woman is worse than death. She is a trap, reaching out with body and soul to catch you. But if you obey God, you can escape. If you don't obey, you are done for. 27With all my wisdom I have tried to find out how everything fits together, 28but so far I have not been able to. I do know there is one good man in a thousand, but never have I found a good woman. 29I did learn one thing: we were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds.

1Who is clever enough

to explain everything?

Wisdom makes you cheerful

and gives you a smile.

Obey the king

2If you promised God that you would be loyal to the king, I advise you to keep that promise. 3Don't quickly oppose the king or argue when he has already made up his mind. 4The king's word is law. No one can ask him, “Why are you doing this?” 5If you obey the king, you will stay out of trouble. So be clever and learn what to do and when to do it. 6Life is hard, but there is a time and a place for everything, 7though no one can tell the future. 8We cannot control the wind or determine the day of our death. There is no escape in time of war, and no one can hide behind evil. 9I noticed all this and thought seriously about what goes on in the world. Why does one person have the power to hurt another?

Who can understand the ways of God?

10I saw the wicked buried with honour, but God's people had to leave the holy city and were forgotten. None of this makes sense. 11When we see criminals commit crime after crime without being punished, it makes us want to start a life of crime. 12They commit hundreds of crimes and live to a ripe old age, in spite of the saying:

Everyone who lives right

and respects God

will prosper,

13but no one who sins

and rejects God

will prosper or live very long.

14There is something else that doesn't make sense to me. Good citizens are treated as criminals, while criminals are honoured as though they were good citizens. 15So I think we should get as much out of life as we possibly can. There is nothing better than to enjoy our food and drink and to have a good time. Then we can make it through this troublesome life that God has given us here on earth.

16Day and night I went without sleep, trying to understand what goes on in this world. 17I saw everything God does, and I realized that no one can really understand what happens. We may be very wise, but no matter how much we try or how much we claim to know, we cannot understand it all.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-8:17CEVOpen in Bible reader

Hagar and Sarah

21Some of you would like to be under the rule of the Law of Moses. But do you know what the Law says? 22In the Scriptures we learn that Abraham had two sons. The mother of one of them was a slave, while the mother of the other one had always been free. 23The son of the slave woman was born in the usual way. But the son of the free woman was born because of God's promise.

24All this has another meaning as well. Each of the two women stands for one of the agreements God made with his people. Hagar, the slave woman, stands for the agreement that was made at Mount Sinai. Everyone born into her family is a slave. 25Hagar also stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and for the present city of Jerusalem. She and her children are slaves.

26But our mother is the city of Jerusalem in heaven above, and she isn't a slave. 27The Scriptures say about her,

“You have never had children,

but now you can be glad.

You have never given birth,

but now you can shout.

Once you had no children,

but now you will have

more children than a woman

who has been married

for a long time.”

28My friends, you were born because of this promise, just as Isaac was. 29But the child who was born in the natural way made trouble for the child who was born because of the Spirit. The same thing is happening today. 30The Scriptures say, “Get rid of the slave woman and her son! He won't be given anything. The son of the free woman will receive everything.” 31My friends, we are children of the free woman and not of the slave.

Guided by the Spirit and love

Christ gives freedom

1Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don't ever become slaves of the Law again.

2I, Paul, promise you that Christ won't do you any good if you get circumcised. 3If you do, you must obey the whole Law. 4And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his wonderful kindness. 5But the Spirit makes us sure that God will accept us because of our faith in Christ. 6If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others.

7You were doing so well until someone made you turn from the truth. 8And that person was certainly not sent by the one who chose you. 9A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough, 10but you belong to the Lord. That makes me certain that you will do what I say, instead of what someone else tells you to do. Whoever is causing trouble for you will be punished.

11My friends, if I still preach that people need to be circumcised, why am I in so much trouble? The message about the cross would no longer be a problem, if I told people to be circumcised. 12I wish that everyone who is upsetting you would not only get circumcised, but would cut off much more!

13My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don't use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. 14All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. 15But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves.

Galatians 4:21-5:15CEVOpen in Bible reader
Canadian Bible Societyv.4.21.9
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