Daniel 1; Daniel 2; 1 John 4

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Daniel 1

1 In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and attacked it.
2 The Lord handed King Jehoiakim of Judah and some utensils from God's temple over to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar took the utensils to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put them in the temple treasury.
3 The king told Ashpenaz, the chief-of-staff, to bring some of the Israelites, the royal family, and the nobility.
4 They were to be young men who were healthy, good-looking, knowledgeable in all subjects, well-informed, intelligent, and able to serve in the king's palace. They were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5 The king arranged for them to get a daily allowance of the king's rich food and wine. They were to be trained for three years. After that, they were to serve the king.
6 Among these young men were some Judeans: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
7 The chief-of-staff gave them [Babylonian] names: To Daniel he gave the name Belteshazzar. To Hananiah he gave the name Shadrach. To Mishael he gave the name Meshach. And to Azariah he gave the name Abednego.
8 Daniel made up his mind not to harm himself by eating the king's rich food and drinking the king's wine. So he asked the chief-of-staff for permission not to harm himself in this way.
9 God made the chief-of-staff kind and compassionate toward Daniel.
10 The chief-of-staff told Daniel, "I'm afraid of my master, the king. The king determined what you should eat and drink. If he sees that you look worse than the other young men your age, he would have my head cut off."
11 The chief-of-staff put a supervisor in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Daniel said to the supervisor,
12 "Please test us for ten days. Give us only vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13 Then compare us to the young men who are eating the king's rich food. Decide how to treat us on the basis of how we look."
14 The supervisor listened to them about this matter and tested them for ten days.
15 After ten days they looked healthier and stronger than the young men who had been eating the king's rich food.
16 So the supervisor took away the king's rich food and wine and gave them vegetables.
17 God gave these four men knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to understand all kinds of literature. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the three-year training period, the chief-of-staff brought all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar.
19 The king talked to them and found no one like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah among all of them. So these four men served the king.
20 Whenever the king asked them about things that required wisdom and insight, he found that they knew ten times more than all the magicians and psychics in his whole kingdom.
21 Daniel served the royal palace until the first year of King Cyrus [of Persia].

Daniel 2

1 During the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, he had some dreams. He was troubled, but he stayed asleep.
2 The king sent for the magicians, psychics, sorcerers, and astrologers so that they could tell him what he had dreamed. So they came to the king.
3 The king said to them, "I had a dream, and I'm troubled by it. I want to know what the dream was."
4 The astrologers spoke to the king in Aramaic, "Your Majesty, may you live forever! Tell us the dream, and we'll interpret it for you."
5 The king answered the astrologers, "I meant what I said! If you don't tell me the dream and its meaning, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into piles of rubble.
6 But if you tell me the dream and its meaning, I will give you gifts, awards, and high honors. Now tell me the dream and its meaning."
7 Once more they said, "Your Majesty, tell us the dream, and we'll tell you its meaning."
8 The king replied, "I'm sure you're trying to buy some time because you know that I meant what I said.
9 If you don't tell me the dream, you'll all receive the same punishment. You have agreed among yourselves to make up a phony explanation to give me, hoping that things will change. So tell me the dream. Then I'll know that you can explain its meaning to me."
10 The astrologers answered the king, "No one on earth can tell the king what he asks. No other king, no matter how great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, psychic, or astrologer.
11 What you ask is difficult, Your Majesty. No one can tell what you dreamed except the gods, and they don't live with humans."
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he gave an order to destroy all the wise advisers in Babylon.
13 So a decree was issued that the wise advisers were to be killed, and some men were sent to find Daniel and his friends and kill them.
14 While Arioch, the captain of the royal guard, was leaving to kill the wise advisers in Babylon, Daniel spoke to him using shrewd judgment.
15 He asked Arioch, the royal official, "Why is the king's decree so harsh?" So Arioch explained everything to Daniel.
16 Daniel went and asked the king to give him some time so that he could explain the dream's meaning.
17 Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah about this matter.
18 He told them to ask the God of heaven to be merciful and to explain this secret to them so that they would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise advisers in Babylon.
19 The secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision during the night. So Daniel praised the God of heaven.
20 He said, "Praise God's name from everlasting to everlasting because he is wise and powerful.
21 He changes times and periods of history. He removes kings and establishes them. He gives wisdom to those who are wise and knowledge to those who have insight.
22 He reveals deeply hidden things. He knows what is in the dark, and light lives with him.
23 God of my ancestors, I thank and praise you. You gave me wisdom and power. You told me the answer to our question. You told us what the king wants to know."
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy Babylon's wise advisers. Daniel told him, "Don't destroy Babylon's wise advisers. Take me to the king, and I'll explain the dream's meaning to him."
25 Arioch immediately took Daniel to the king. He told the king, "I've found one of the captives from Judah who can explain the dream's meaning to you, Your Majesty."
26 The king asked Daniel (who had been renamed Belteshazzar), "Can you tell me the dream I had and its meaning?"
27 Daniel answered the king, "No wise adviser, psychic, magician, or fortuneteller can tell the king this secret.
28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets. He will tell King Nebuchadnezzar what is going to happen in the days to come. This is your dream, the vision you had while you were asleep:
29 Your Majesty, while you were lying in bed, thoughts about what would happen in the future came to you. The one who reveals secrets told you what is going to happen.
30 This secret wasn't revealed to me because I'm wiser than anyone else. It was revealed so that you could be told the meaning and so that you would know your innermost thoughts.
31 "Your Majesty, you had a vision. You saw a large statue. This statue was very bright. It stood in front of you, and it looked terrifying.
32 The head of this statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were made of silver. Its stomach and hips were made of bronze.
33 Its legs were made of iron. Its feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay.
34 While you were watching, a stone was cut out, but not by humans. It struck the statue's iron-and-clay feet and smashed them.
35 Then all at once, the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were smashed. They became like husks on a threshing floor in summer. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain which filled the whole world.
36 This is the dream. Now we'll tell you its meaning.
37 "Your Majesty, you are the greatest king. The God of heaven has given you a kingdom. He has given you power, strength, and honor.
38 He has given you control over people, wild animals, and birds, wherever they live. He has made you ruler of them all. You are the head of gold.
39 Another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to power after you. Then there will be a third kingdom, a kingdom of bronze, that will rule the whole world.
40 There will also be a fourth kingdom. It will be as strong as iron. (Iron smashes and shatters everything.) As iron crushes things, this fourth kingdom will smash and crush all the other kingdoms.
41 You also saw the feet and toes. They were partly potters' clay and partly iron. This means that there will be a divided kingdom which has some of the firmness of iron. As you saw, iron was mixed with clay.
42 The toes were partly iron and partly clay. Part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle.
43 As you saw, iron was mixed with clay. So the two parts of the kingdom will mix by intermarrying, but they will not hold together any more than iron can mix with clay.
44 "At the time of those kings, the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed. No other people will be permitted to rule it. It will smash all the other kingdoms and put an end to them. But it will be established forever.
45 This is the stone that you saw cut out from a mountain, but not by humans. It smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God has told you what will happen in the future, Your Majesty. The dream is true, and you can trust that this is its meaning."
46 King Nebuchadnezzar immediately bowed down on the ground in front of Daniel. He ordered that gifts and offerings be given to Daniel.
47 The king said to Daniel, "Your God is truly the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings. He can reveal secrets because you were able to reveal this secret."
48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many wonderful gifts. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel governor of the whole province of Babylon and head of all Babylon's wise advisers.
49 With the king's permission, Daniel appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to govern the province of Babylon. But Daniel stayed at the king's court.

1 John 4

1 Dear friends, don't believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world.
2 This is how you can recognize God's Spirit: Every person who declares that Jesus Christ has come as a human has the Spirit that is from God.
3 But every person who doesn't declare that Jesus Christ has come as a human has a spirit that isn't from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that you have heard is coming. That spirit is already in the world.
4 Dear children, you belong to God. So you have won the victory over these people, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
5 These people belong to the world. That's why they speak the thoughts of the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We belong to God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever doesn't belong to God doesn't listen to us. That's how we can tell the Spirit of truth from the spirit of lies.
7 Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.
8 The person who doesn't love doesn't know God, because God is love.
9 God has shown us his love by sending his only Son into the world so that we could have life through him.
10 This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins.
11 Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other.
12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 We know that we live in him and he lives in us because he has given us his Spirit.
14 We have seen and testify to the fact that the Father sent his Son as the Savior of the world.
15 God lives in those who declare that Jesus is the Son of God, and they live in God.
16 We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God's love live in God, and God lives in them.
17 God's love has reached its goal in us. So we look ahead with confidence to the day of judgment. While we are in this world, we are exactly like him [with regard to love].
18 No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn't have perfect love.
19 We love because God loved us first.
20 Whoever says, "I love God," but hates another believer is a liar. People who don't love other believers, whom they have seen, can't love God, whom they have not seen.
21 Christ has given us this commandment: The person who loves God must also love other believers.