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Psalm 148 The Voice (VOICE)

Psalm 148

Praise the Eternal!
All you in the heavens, praise the Eternal;
    praise Him from the highest places!
All you, His messengers and His armies in heaven:
    praise Him!
Sun, moon, and all you brilliant stars above:
    praise Him!
Highest heavens and all you waters above the heavens:
    praise Him!

Let all things join together in a concert of praise to the name of the Eternal,
    for He gave the command and they were created.
He put them in their places to stay forever—
    He declared it so, and it is final.

Everything on earth, join in and praise the Eternal;
    sea monsters and creatures of the deep,
Lightning and hail, snow and foggy mists,
    violent winds all respond to His command.

Mountains and hills,
    fruit trees and cedar forests,
10 All you animals both wild and tame,
    reptiles and birds who take flight:
    praise the Lord.

11 All kings and all nations,
    princes and all judges of the earth,
12 All people, young men and women,
    old men and children alike,
    praise the Lord.

13 Let them all praise the name of the Eternal!
    For His name stands alone above all others.
    His glory shines greater than anything above or below.
14 He has made His people strong;
    He is the praise of all who are godly,
    the praise of the children of Israel, those whom He holds close.
Praise the Eternal!

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Isaiah 49:13-23 The Voice (VOICE)

13 Oh joy! Be glad—sky! Take joy—earth! Burst into song—mountains!
    For the Eternal, moved to compassion, has comforted and consoled His people.

There are many kinds of love—and not enough words to tell the differences. Hebrew has a word for “love” that is related to its word for a woman’s womb. English has no such word. It is too bad, for it is difficult to describe womb-love, the bearing-and-birthing love of a mother, the kind of love that the Lord has for the people of God’s promise, Jacob’s children. God shaped this people as His own and bound them with no ordinary promise. God loves them in the same way a mother loves the child growing in her womb. It can’t be said so neatly and completely with one “love” word, but that is the idea that threads its way through this text.

14 Zion: The Eternal One has abandoned me. God has walked out the door;
        my Lord left me alone. He has forgotten all about me.

15 Eternal One: Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed,
        however hurt, to forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?
        Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you.
16     Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands.
        Your city walls are always on My mind, always My concern.
17     Now sweet Zion your children are running pell-mell back to you
    Just as fast as those who destroyed you are leaving.
18     Raise your head, lift up your eyes,
        and watch your heart’s desire come
    All your children, gathered and returning to you. As I live, so I promise.
        You will wear them with pride all like shining ornaments;
        you will put them on as a bride on her wedding day.
19     Because of all of your destroyed land—the barren fields and abandoned farms—
        you are now too small, too cramped for all your citizens;
    And those who tried to swallow you whole will be far, far away.
20     The children you mourned, those born in exile, will return and say,
        “It is too cramped and crowded for us;
    We’re going to need more room if we are to live here.”
21     You’ll say to yourself, “Where in the world did all these people come from?
        Could these really be mine?
    I thought I’d been desolated, left empty.
        Where have you all been? Where did you come from?”

22 This is what the Lord, the Eternal, has to say:

Eternal One: I will lift My hand and signal every nation that holds your people
    And they will bring your children back again:
        boys bundled in their arms, girls riding on their shoulders.
23     Kings will tend the children of Zion, and their queens will nurse and nurture them.
        These greats will humble themselves before you.
    They will bow and lick the dust off your feet,
        and in the course of it all, you will remember that I am the Eternal.
    Whoever trusts in Me will never be put to shame.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Matthew 18:1-14 The Voice (VOICE)

18 Around that same time, the disciples came to Jesus and questioned Him about the kingdom of heaven.

A Disciple: In the kingdom of heaven, who is the greatest?

The disciples struggle with the concept of the kingdom of heaven. They do not yet understand that who is most important or most powerful is a contradiction in terms. This is the fourth of the five great sermons in Matthew.

Jesus called over a little child. He put His hand on the top of the child’s head.

Jesus: This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest. And whoever welcomes a child, welcomes her in My name, welcomes Me. And do not lead astray one of the weak and friendless who believes in Me. If you do, it would be better for you to be dragged down with a millstone and drowned in the bottom of the sea.

Beware indeed of those in a world filled with obstacles and temptations that cause people to turn away from Me. Those temptations are woven into the fabric of a world not yet redeemed, but beware to anyone who lures righteous women and men off the narrow path. If your hand constantly grasps at the things of this world rather than serves the Kingdom—cut it off and throw it away. If your foot is always leading you to wander, then cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to hobble, crippled, into the kingdom of life than to burn in hell with two hands and two feet. And if your eye always focuses on things that cause you to sin, then pull your eye out and throw it away. It is better for you to see the kingdom of life with one eye than to see the fires of hell with perfect sight.

10 Make sure that you do not look down on the little ones, on those who are further behind you on the path of righteousness. For I tell you: they are watched over by those most beloved messengers who are always in the company of My Father in heaven. [11 The Son of Man has come to save all those who are lost.][a] 12 A shepherd in charge of 100 sheep notices that one of his sheep has gone astray. What do you think he should do? Should the shepherd leave the flock on the hills unguarded to search for the lost sheep? God’s shepherd goes to look for that one lost sheep, 13 and when he finds her, he is happier about her return than he is about the 99 who stayed put. 14 Your Father in heaven does not want a single one of the tripped, waylaid, stumbling little ones to be lost.

Footnotes:

  1. 18:11 The earliest manuscripts omit verse 11.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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