Read the Bible in a Year

Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year. This is part of The Colossians 13:16 Project, sponsored by Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia. You're invited to worship with us Sundays, at 11:00 a.m. or Saturdays, at 6:30 p.m. You may also want to consider joining one our adult Bible Studies: Thursdays at 12:00 noon and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We also have a full range of programs for children. If you want more information about the church, check out the other blogs. And please feel free to leave any comments.

The Bible in a Year is a ministry of Cove Presbyterian Church. We need your support to keep posting. If you find it helpful, you can support this blog by your contributions. They may be sent to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, WV 26062. You can also use the PayPal link below:

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bible Readings for March 18, 2018

Today our passages are Numbers 26:52–28:15; Luke 3:1-22; Psalm 61:1-8; and Proverbs 11:16-17. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.

Numbers 26:52-28:15 (The Message)

52-54 God spoke to Moses: "Divide up the inheritance of the land based on population. A larger group gets a larger inheritance; a smaller group gets a smaller inheritance—each gets its inheritance based on the population count. 

 55-56 "Make sure that the land is assigned by lot. 
   "Each group's inheritance is based on population, the number of names listed in its ancestral tribe, divided among the many and the few by lot." 

57-58 These are the numberings of the Levites by clan: 

   Gershon and the Gershonite clan, 
   Kohath and the Kohathite clan, 
   Merari and the Merarite clan. <
The Levite clans also included: 

   the Libnite clan, 
   the Hebronite clan, 
   the Mahlite clan, 
   the Mushite clan, 
   the Korahite clan. 
 58-61 Kohath was the father of Amram. Amram's wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, born into the Levite family during the Egyptian years. Jochebed bore Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam to Amram. Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar; however, Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized sacrifice in the presence of God
 62 The numbering of Levite males one month and older came to 23,000. They hadn't been counted in with the rest of the People of Israel because they didn't inherit any land. 
 63-65 These are the ones numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, the People of Israel counted in the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho. Not one of them had been among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the People of Israel taken in the Wilderness of Sinai. For God had said of them, "They'll die, die in the wilderness—not one of them will be left except for Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun." 

Numbers 27

The Daughters of Zelophehad
 1 The daughters of Zelophehad showed up. Their father was the son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Makir son of Manasseh, belonging to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.  2-4 They came to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. They stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and the congregation and said, "Our father died in the wilderness. He wasn't part of Korah's rebel anti-God gang. He died for his own sins. And he left no sons. But why should our father's name die out from his clan just because he had no sons? So give us an inheritance among our father's relatives." 
 5 Moses brought their case to God
 6-7 God ruled: "Zelophehad's daughters are right. Give them land as an inheritance among their father's relatives. Give them their father's inheritance. 
 8-11 "Then tell the People of Israel, If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give it to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give it to his father's brothers. If his father had no brothers, give it to the nearest relative so that the inheritance stays in the family. This is the standard procedure for the People of Israel, as commanded by God through Moses." 
12-14 God said to Moses, "Climb up into the Abarim Mountains and look over at the land that I am giving to the People of Israel. When you've had a good look you'll be joined to your ancestors in the grave—yes, you also along with Aaron your brother. This goes back to the day when the congregation quarreled in the Wilderness of Zin and you didn't honor me in holy reverence before them in the matter of the waters, the Waters of Meribah (Quarreling) at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin."  15-17 Moses responded to God: "Let God, the God of the spirits of everyone living, set a man over this community to lead them, to show the way ahead and bring them back home so God's community will not be like sheep without a shepherd." 
 18-21 God said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun—the Spirit is in him!— and place your hand on him. Stand him before Eleazar the priest in front of the entire congregation and commission him with everyone watching. Pass your magisterial authority over to him so that the whole congregation of the People of Israel will listen obediently to him. He is to consult with Eleazar the priest who, using the oracle-Urim, will prayerfully advise him in the presence of God. He will command the People of Israel, the entire community, in all their comings and goings." 
 22-23 Moses followed God's orders. He took Joshua and stood him before Eleazar the priest in front of the entire community. He laid his hands on him and commissioned him, following the procedures God had given Moses. 

Numbers 28

 1-8 God spoke to Moses: "Command the People of Israel. Tell them, You're in charge of presenting my food, my Fire-Gifts of pleasing fragrance, at the set times. Tell them, This is the Fire-Gift that you are to present to God: two healthy yearling lambs each day as a regular Whole-Burnt-Offering. Sacrifice one lamb in the morning, the other in the evening, together with two quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of olive oil for a Grain-Offering. This is the standard Whole-Burnt-Offering instituted at Mount Sinai as a pleasing fragrance, a Fire-Gift to God. The Drink-Offering that goes with it is a quart of strong beer with each lamb. Pour out the Drink-Offering before God in the Sanctuary. Sacrifice the second lamb in the evening with the Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering the same as in the morning—a Fire-Gift of pleasing fragrance for God
9-10 "On the Sabbath, sacrifice two healthy yearling lambs, together with the Drink-Offering and the Grain-Offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the regular Sabbath Whole-Burnt-Offering, in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering and its Drink-Offering. 

11 "On the first of the month offer a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God: two young bulls, one ram, and seven male yearling lambs—all healthy. 

 12-14 "A Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil goes with each bull, four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil with the ram, and two quarts of fine flour mixed with oil with each lamb. This is for a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a pleasing fragrance, a Fire-Gift to God. Also, Drink-Offerings of two quarts of wine for each bull, one and a quarter quarts of wine for the ram, and a quart of wine for each lamb are to be poured out. 
 14-15 "This is the first of the month Whole-Burnt-Offering to be made throughout the year. In addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its accompanying Drink-Offering, a he-goat is to be offered to God as an Absolution-Offering. 

Luke 3:1-22 (The Message)

Luke 3

A Baptism of Life-Change
 1-6 In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius—it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—John, Zachariah's son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet:

   Thunder in the desert!
   "Prepare God's arrival!
   Make the road smooth and straight!
   Every ditch will be filled in,
   Every bump smoothed out,
   The detours straightened out,
   All the ruts paved over.
   Everyone will be there to see
   The parade of God's salvation."
 7-9When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God's judgment? It's your life that must change, not your skin. And don't think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as 'father.' Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it's deadwood, it goes on the fire."
 10The crowd asked him, "Then what are we supposed to do?"
 11"If you have two coats, give one away," he said. "Do the same with your food."
 12Tax men also came to be baptized and said, "Teacher, what should we do?"
 13He told them, "No more extortion—collect only what is required by law."
 14Soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"
   He told them, "No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations."
 15The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, "Could this John be the Messiah?"
 16-17But John intervened: "I'm baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned."
 18-20There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John's rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.
 21-22After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life."

Psalm 61:1-8 (The Message)

Psalm 61

A David Psalm
 1-2God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer.
   When I'm far from anywhere,
      down to my last gasp,
   I call out, "Guide me
      up High Rock Mountain!"

 3-5 You've always given me breathing room,
      a place to get away from it all,
   A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
      an open invitation as your guest.
   You've always taken me seriously, God,
      made me welcome among those who know and love you.

 6-8 Let the days of the king add up
      to years and years of good rule.
   Set his throne in the full light of God;
      post Steady Love and Good Faith as lookouts,
   And I'll be the poet who sings your glory—
      and live what I sing every day.

Proverbs 11:16-17 (The Message)

 16 A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
   but men of rough violence grab for loot. 
A God-Shaped Life
 17 When you're kind to others, you help yourself;
   when you're cruel to others, you hurt yourself.

Verse of the Day

“I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.” - Romans 15:13
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Image result for Nikolai BerdyaevThought for the Day

Russian political and also Christian religious philosopher, Nikolai Berdyaev wrote, “There is a tragic clash between Truth and the world. Pure undistorted truth burns up the world.”

Image result for pilgrims jokesA Joke for Today

Thanksgiving Day was approaching, and a family had received a Thanksgiving card with a painting of a pilgrim family on its way to church. Grandma showed the card to her small grandchildren, observing, "The pilgrim children liked to go to church with their mothers and fathers."

"Oh, yeah?" her grandson replied, "so why is their dad carrying that rifle?"

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bible Readings for March 17, 2018

Today our passages are Numbers 26:1-51; Luke 2:36-52; Psalm 60:1-12; and Proverbs 11:15. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.

Numbers 26:1-51 (The Message)

Numbers 26

Census on the Plains of Moab
1-2 After the plague God said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, "Number the entire community of Israel by families—count every person who is twenty years and older who is able to serve in the army of Israel." 3-4 Obeying God's command, Moses and Eleazar the priest addressed them on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho: "Count off from age twenty and older."
4-7 The People of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt:
Reuben, Israel's firstborn. The sons of Reuben were:
Hanoch and the Hanochite clan,
Pallu and the Palluite clan,
Hezron and the Hezronite clan,
Carmi and the Carmite clan.
These made up the Reubenite clans. They numbered 43,730.
8 The son of Pallu: Eliab.
9-11 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. (These were the same Dathan and Abiram, community leaders from Korah's gang, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the Korah Rebellion against God. The Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them along with Korah's gang who died when the fire ate them up, all 250 of them. After all these years, they're still a warning sign. But the line of Korah did not die out.)
12-14 The sons of Simeon by clans: Nemuel and the Nemuelite clan,
Jamin and the Jaminite clan,
Jakin and the Jakinite clan,
Zerah and the Zerahite clan,
Shaul and the Shaulite clan.
These were the clans of Simeon. They numbered 22,200 men.
15-18 The sons of Gad by clans: Zephon and the Zephonite clan,
Haggi and the Haggite clan,
Shuni and the Shunite clan,
Ozni and the Oznite clan,
Eri and the Erite clan,
Arodi and the Arodite clan,
Areli and the Arelite clan.
These were the clans of Gad. They numbered 40,500 men.
19-22 Er and Onan were sons of Judah who died early on in Canaan. The sons of Judah by clans: Shelah and the Shelanite clan,
Perez and the Perezite clan,
Zerah and the Zerahite clan. <
The sons of Perez:
Hezron and the Hezronite clan,
Hamul and the Hamulite clan.
These were the clans of Judah. They numbered 76,500.
23-25 The sons of Issachar by clans: Tola and the Tolaite clan,
Puah and the Puite clan,
Jashub and the Jashubite clan,
Shimron and the Shimronite clan.
These were the clans of Issachar. They numbered 64,300.
26-27 The sons of Zebulun by clans: Sered and the Seredite clan,
Elon and the Elonite clan,
Jahleel and the Jahleelite clan.
These were the clans of Zebulun. They numbered 60,500.
28-34 The sons of Joseph by clans through Manasseh and Ephraim. Through Manasseh: Makir and the Makirite clan
(now Makir was the father of Gilead),
Gilead and the Gileadite clan. <
The sons of Gilead:
Iezer and the Iezerite clan,
Helek and the Helekite clan,
Asriel and the Asrielite clan,
Shechem and the Shechemite clan,
Shemida and the Shemidaite clan,
Hepher and the Hepherite clan.
Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, only daughters.
Their names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
These were the clans of Manasseh. They numbered 52,700.
35-37 The sons of Ephraim by clans: Shuthelah and the Shuthelahite clan,
Beker and the Bekerite clan,
Tahan and the Tahanite clan. <
The sons of Shuthelah:
Eran and the Eranite clan.
These were the clans of Ephraim. They numbered 32,500.
These are all the sons of Joseph by their clans.
38-41 The sons of Benjamin by clans: Bela and the Belaite clan,
Ashbel and the Ashbelite clan,
Ahiram and the Ahiramite clan,
Shupham and the Shuphamite clan,
Hupham and the Huphamite clan. <
The sons of Bela through Ard and Naaman:
Ard and the Ardite clan,
Naaman and the Naamite clan. <
These were the clans of Benjamin. They numbered 45,600.
42-43 The sons of Dan by clan: Shuham and the Shuhamite clan. <
These are the clans of Dan, all Shuhamite clans. They numbered 64,400.
44-47 The sons of Asher by clan: Imnah and the Imnite clan,
Ishvi and the Ishvite clan,
Beriah and the Beriite clan. <
The sons of Beriah:
Heber and the Heberite clan,
Malkiel and the Malkielite clan.
Asher also had a daughter, Serah. <
These were the clans of Asher. They numbered 53,400.
48-50 The sons of Naphtali by clans: Jahzeel and the Jahzeelite clan,
Guni and the Gunite clan,
Jezer and the Jezerite clan,
Shillem and the Shillemite clan. <
These were the clans of Naphtali. They numbered 45,400.
51 The total number of the People of Israel: 601,730. 

Luke 2:36-52 (The Message)

36-38Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.
39-40When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.
They Found Him in the Temple
41-45Every year Jesus' parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn't know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.
46-48The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt.
His mother said, "Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you."
49-50He said, "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?" But they had no idea what he was talking about.
51-52So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.

Psalm 60:1-12 (The Message)

Psalm 60

1-2 God! you walked off and left us, kicked our defenses to bits
And stalked off angry.
Come back. Oh please, come back! You shook earth to the foundations,
ripped open huge crevasses.
Heal the breaks! Everything's
coming apart at the seams.

3-5 You made your people look doom in the face,
then gave us cheap wine to drown our troubles.
Then you planted a flag to rally your people,
an unfurled flag to look to for courage.
Now do something quickly, answer right now,
so the one you love best is saved.

6-8 That's when God spoke in holy splendor,
"Bursting with joy,
I make a present of Shechem,
I hand out Succoth Valley as a gift.
Gilead's in my pocket,
to say nothing of Manasseh.
Ephraim's my hard hat,
Judah my hammer;
Moab's a scrub bucket,
I mop the floor with Moab,
Spit on Edom,
rain fireworks all over Philistia."

9-10 Who will take me to the thick of the fight?
Who'll show me the road to Edom?
You aren't giving up on us, are you, God?
refusing to go out with our troops?

11-12 Give us help for the hard task;
human help is worthless.
In God we'll do our very best;
he'll flatten the opposition for good.

Proverbs 11:15 (The Message)

15 Whoever makes deals with strangers is sure to get burned;
if you keep a cool head, you'll avoid rash bargains.

Verse of the Day

“[(A psalm by David.)][The Good Shepherd]You, LORD, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and you refresh my life. You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths.” - Psalm 23:1-3
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Roger B. Taney - Brady-Handy.jpgThought for the Day

The fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864, Roger B. Taney wrote, “In large commercial cities, the money power is, I fear irresistible. It is not by open corruption that it always, or even most generally, operates.”

Image result for corporation jokesA Joke for the Day 

The chairman of the board of our company called me into his office to tell me the good news. I was being promoted to Vice President of Corporate Research and Planning.

Of course, I was excited, but that didn't stop me from asking for my new title to be changed to Vice President of Corporate Planning and Research.

'Why?' asked the chairman.

'Because,' I said, 'our organization uses abbreviated job titles, and I don't want be known as VP of CRAP.'

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bible Readings for March 16, 2018

Today our passages are Numbers 24:1–25:18; Luke 2:1-35; Psalm 59:1-17; and Proverbs 11:14. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.

Numbers 24-25:18 (The Message)

Numbers 24

 1-3 By now Balaam realized that God wanted to bless Israel. So he didn't work in any sorcery as he had done earlier. He turned and looked out over the wilderness. As Balaam looked, he saw Israel camped tribe by tribe. The Spirit of God came on him, and he spoke his oracle-message:

 3-9 Decree of Balaam son of Beor,
      yes, decree of a man with 20/20 vision;
   Decree of a man who hears God speak,
      who sees what The Strong God shows him,
   Who falls on his face in worship,
      who sees what's really going on.

   What beautiful tents, Jacob,
      oh, your homes, Israel!
   Like valleys stretching out in the distance,
      like gardens planted by rivers,
   Like sweet herbs planted by the gardener God,
      like red cedars by pools and springs,
   Their buckets will brim with water,
      their seed will spread life everywhere.
   Their king will tower over Agag and his ilk,
      their kingdom surpassingly majestic.
   God brought them out of Egypt,
      rampaging like a wild ox,
   Gulping enemies like morsels of meat,
      crushing their bones, snapping their arrows.
   Israel crouches like a lion and naps,
      king-of-the-beasts—who dares disturb him?
   Whoever blesses you is blessed,
      whoever curses you is cursed. 
 10-11 Balak lost his temper with Balaam. He shook his fist. He said to Balaam: "I got you in here to curse my enemies and what have you done? Blessed them! Blessed them three times! Get out of here! Go home! I told you I would pay you well, but you're getting nothing. You can blame God." 
 12-15 Balaam said to Balak, "Didn't I tell you up front when you sent your emissaries, 'Even if Balak gave me his palace stuffed with silver and gold, I couldn't do anything on my own, whether good or bad, that went against God's command'? I'm leaving for home and my people, but I warn you of what this people will do to your people in the days to come." Then he spoke his oracle-message:

 15-19 Decree of Balaam son of Beor,
      decree of the man with 20/20 vision,
   Decree of the man who hears godly speech,
      who knows what's going on with the High God,
   Who sees what The Strong God reveals,
      who bows in worship and sees what's real.
   I see him, but not right now,
      I perceive him, but not right here;
   A star rises from Jacob
      a scepter from Israel,
   Crushing the heads of Moab,
      the skulls of all the noisy windbags;
   I see Edom sold off at auction,
      enemy Seir marked down at the flea market,
      while Israel walks off with the trophies.
   A ruler is coming from Jacob
      who'll destroy what's left in the city. 

20 Then Balaam spotted Amalek and delivered an oracle-message. He said,

   Amalek, you're in first place among nations right now,
      but you're going to come in last, ruined. 

21-22 He saw the Kenites and delivered his oracle-message to them:

   Your home is in a nice secure place,
      like a nest high on the face of a cliff.
   Still, you Kenites will look stupid
      when Asshur takes you prisoner. 

23-24 Balaam spoke his final oracle-message:

   Doom! Who stands a chance
      when God starts in?
   Sea-Peoples, raiders from across the sea,
      will harass Asshur and Eber,
   But they'll also come to nothing,
      just like all the rest. 

 25 Balaam got up and went home. Balak also went on his way. 

Numbers 25

The Orgy at Shittim
 1-3 While Israel was camped at Shittim (Acacia Grove), the men began to have sex with the Moabite women. It started when the women invited the men to their sex-and-religion worship. They ate together and then worshiped their gods. Israel ended up joining in the worship of the Baal of Peor. God was furious, his anger blazing out against Israel.  4 Godsaid to Moses, "Take all the leaders of Israel and kill them by hanging, leaving them publicly exposed in order to turn God's anger away from Israel." 
 5 Moses issued orders to the judges of Israel: "Each of you must execute the men under your jurisdiction who joined in the worship of Baal Peor." 
 6-9 Just then, while everyone was weeping in penitence at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, an Israelite man, flaunting his behavior in front of Moses and the whole assembly, paraded a Midianite woman into his family tent. Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw what he was doing, grabbed his spear, and followed them into the tent. With one thrust he drove the spear through the two of them, the man of Israel and the woman, right through their private parts. That stopped the plague from continuing among the People of Israel. But 24,000 had already died. 
 10-13 God spoke to Moses: "Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has stopped my anger against the People of Israel. Because he was as zealous for my honor as I myself am, I didn't kill all the People of Israel in my zeal. So tell him that I am making a Covenant-of-Peace with him. He and his descendants are joined in a covenant of eternal priesthood, because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the People of Israel." 
 14-15 The name of the man of Israel who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the head of the Simeonite family. And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family. 
 16-18 God spoke to Moses: "From here on make the Midianites your enemies. Fight them tooth and nail. They turned out to be your enemies when they seduced you in the business of Peor and that woman Cozbi, daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed at the time of the plague in the matter of Peor."

Luke 2:1-35 (The Message)

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
 1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant.
 6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
An Event for Everyone
 8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
 13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

   Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
   Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
 15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
 19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!
 21When the eighth day arrived, the day of circumcision, the child was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived.
 22-24Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God's Law: "Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God," and also to sacrifice the "pair of doves or two young pigeons" prescribed in God's Law.
 25-32In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

   God, you can now release your servant;
      release me in peace as you promised.
   With my own eyes I've seen your salvation;
      it's now out in the open for everyone to see:
   A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
      and of glory for your people Israel.
 33-35Jesus' father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,

   This child marks both the failure and
      the recovery of many in Israel,
   A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
      the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
   But the rejection will force honesty,
      as God reveals who they really are.

Psalm 59:1-17 (The Message)

Psalm 59

 1-2 My God! Rescue me from my enemies, defend me from these mutineers.
   Rescue me from their dirty tricks,
      save me from their hit men.

 3-4 Desperadoes have ganged up on me,
      they're hiding in ambush for me.
   I did nothing to deserve this, God,
      crossed no one, wronged no one.
   All the same, they're after me,
      determined to get me.

 4-5 Wake up and see for yourself! You're God,
      God-of-Angel-Armies, Israel's God!
   Get on the job and take care of these pagans,
      don't be soft on these hard cases.

 6-7 They return when the sun goes down,
      They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
      Then suddenly they're all at the gate,
      Snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth.
      They think they'll never get caught.

 8-10 But you, God, break out laughing;
      you treat the godless nations like jokes.
   Strong God, I'm watching you do it,
      I can always count on you.
   God in dependable love shows up on time,
      shows me my enemies in ruin.

 11-13 Don't make quick work of them, God,
      lest my people forget.
   Bring them down in slow motion,
      take them apart piece by piece.
   Let all their mean-mouthed arrogance
      catch up with them,
   Catch them out and bring them down
      —every muttered curse
      —every barefaced lie.
   Finish them off in fine style!
      Finish them off for good!
   Then all the world will see
      that God rules well in Jacob,
      everywhere that God's in charge.

 14-15 They return when the sun goes down,
      They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
      They scavenge for bones,
      And bite the hand that feeds them.

 16-17 And me? I'm singing your prowess,
      shouting at cockcrow your largesse,
   For you've been a safe place for me,
      a good place to hide.
   Strong God, I'm watching you do it,
      I can always count on you—
      God, my dependable love.
A David Psalm, When He Fought Against
    Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah and Joab Killed Twelve Thousand Edomites at the Valley of Salt

Proverbs 11:14 (The Message)

 14 Without good direction, people lose their way;
   the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.

Verse of the Day

“God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient.” - Colossians 3:12
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Related imageThought for the Day

American politician, sociologist, and diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote, “The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it's so rare.”

Image result for Airplane passenger jokesA Joke for Today 

For two solid hours, the lady sitting next to a man on an airplane had told him about her grandchildren. She had even produced a plastic-foldout photo album of all nine of the children. 

She finally realized that she had dominated the entire conversation on her grandchildren. 

"Oh, I've done all the talking, and I'm so sorry. I know you certainly have something to say. Please, tell me... what do you think of my grandchildren?" 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bible Readings for March 15, 2018

Today our passages are Numbers 22:21–23:30; Luke 1:57-80; Psalm 58:1-11; and Proverbs 11:12-13. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.

Numbers 22:21-23:30 (The Message)

 21-23 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went off with the noblemen from Moab. As he was going, though, God's anger flared. The angel of God stood in the road to block his way. Balaam was riding his donkey, accompanied by his two servants. When the donkey saw the angel blocking the road and brandishing a sword, she veered off the road into the ditch. Balaam beat the donkey and got her back on the road.
 24-25 But as they were going through a vineyard, with a fence on either side, the donkey again saw God's angel blocking the way and veered into the fence, crushing Balaam's foot against the fence. Balaam hit her again.
 26-27 God's angel blocked the way yet again—a very narrow passage this time; there was no getting through on the right or left. Seeing the angel, Balaam's donkey sat down under him. Balaam lost his temper; he beat the donkey with his stick.
 28 Then God gave speech to the donkey. She said to Balaam: "What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?"
 29 Balaam said, "Because you've been playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now."
 30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you've ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?"
   He said, "No."
 31 Then God helped Balaam see what was going on: He saw God's angel blocking the way, brandishing a sword. Balaam fell to the ground, his face in the dirt.
 32-33 God's angel said to him: "Why have you beaten your poor donkey these three times? I have come here to block your way because you're getting way ahead of yourself. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she hadn't, I would have killed you by this time, but not the donkey. I would have let her off."
 34 Balaam said to God's angel, "I have sinned. I had no idea you were standing in the road blocking my way. If you don't like what I'm doing, I'll head back."
 35 But God's angel said to Balaam, "Go ahead and go with them. But only say what I tell you to say—absolutely no other word."
   And so Balaam continued to go with Balak's nobles.
 36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him in the Moabite town that was on the banks of the Arnon, right on the boundary of his land.
 37 Balak said to Balaam, "Didn't I send an urgent message for help? Why didn't you come when I called? Do you think I can't pay you enough?"
 38 Balaam said to Balak, "Well, I'm here now. But I can't tell you just anything. I can speak only words that God gives me—no others."
 39-40 Balaam then accompanied Balak to Kiriath Huzoth (Street-Town). Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep for sacrifices and presented them to Balaam and the nobles who were with him.
 41 At daybreak Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal (The Heights of Baal) so that he could get a good view of some of the people. 

Numbers 23

 1 Balaam said, "Build me seven altars here, and then prepare seven bulls and seven rams."  2 Balak did it. Then Balaam and Balak sacrificed a bull and a ram on each of the altars. 3 Balaam instructed Balak: "Stand watch here beside your Whole-Burnt-Offering while I go off by myself. Maybe God will come and meet with me. Whatever he shows or tells me, I'll report to you." Then he went off by himself.
 4 God did meet with Balaam. Balaam said, "I've set up seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar."
 5 Then God gave Balaam a message: "Return to Balak and give him this message."
 6-10 He went back and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and with him all the nobles of Moab. Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle:

   Balak led me here from Aram,
      the king of Moab all the way from the eastern mountains.
   "Go, curse Jacob for me;
      go, damn Israel."
   How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
      How can I damn whom God has not damned?
   From rock pinnacles I see them,
      from hilltops I survey them:
   Look! a people camping off by themselves,
      thinking themselves outsiders among nations.
   But who could ever count the dust of Jacob
      or take a census of cloud-of-dust Israel?
   I want to die like these right-living people!
      I want an end just like theirs!
 11 Balak said to Balaam, "What's this? I brought you here to curse my enemies, and all you've done is bless them."
 12 Balaam answered, "Don't I have to be careful to say what God gives me to say?"

13 Balak said to him, "Go with me to another place from which you can only see the outskirts of their camp—you won't be able to see the whole camp. From there, curse them for my sake."
 14 So he took him to Watchmen's Meadow at the top of Pisgah. He built seven altars there and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
 15 Balaam said to Balak, "Take up your station here beside your Whole-Burnt-Offering while I meet with him over there."
 16 God met with Balaam and gave him a message. He said, "Return to Balak and give him the message."
 17-24 Balaam returned and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and the nobles of Moab with him. Balak said to him, "What did God say?" Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle:

   On your feet, Balak. Listen,
      listen carefully son of Zippor:
   God is not man, one given to lies,
      and not a son of man changing his mind.
   Does he speak and not do what he says?
      Does he promise and not come through?
   I was brought here to bless;
      and now he's blessed—how can I change that?
   He has no bone to pick with Jacob,
      he sees nothing wrong with Israel.
   God is with them,
      and they're with him, shouting praises to their King.
   God brought them out of Egypt,
      rampaging like a wild ox.
   No magic spells can bind Jacob,
      no incantations can hold back Israel.
   People will look at Jacob and Israel and say,
      "What a great thing has God done!"
   Look, a people rising to its feet, stretching like a lion,
      a king-of-the-beasts, aroused,
   Unsleeping, unresting until its hunt is over
      and it's eaten and drunk its fill.
 25 Balak said to Balaam, "Well, if you can't curse them, at least don't bless them."
 26 Balaam replied to Balak, "Didn't I tell you earlier: 'All God speaks, and only what he speaks, I speak'?"

27-28 Balak said to Balaam, "Please, let me take you to another place; maybe we can find the right place in God's eyes where you'll be able to curse them for me." So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, with a vista over the Jeshimon (Wasteland).
 29 Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for sacrifice."
 30 Balak did it and presented an offering of a bull and a ram on each of the altars. 

Luke 1:57-80 (The Message)

The Birth of John
 57-58When Elizabeth was full-term in her pregnancy, she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God had overwhelmed her with mercy, celebrated with her.
 59-60On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father. But his mother intervened: "No. He is to be called John."
 61-62"But," they said, "no one in your family is named that." They used sign language to ask Zachariah what he wanted him named.
 63-64Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, "His name is to be John." That took everyone by surprise. Surprise followed surprise—Zachariah's mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God!
 65-66A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, "What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this."
 67-79Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,

   Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
      he came and set his people free.
   He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
      and in the very house of David his servant,
   Just as he promised long ago
      through the preaching of his holy prophets:
   Deliverance from our enemies
      and every hateful hand;
   Mercy to our fathers,
      as he remembers to do what he said he'd do,
   What he swore to our father Abraham—
      a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
   So we can worship him without a care in the world,
      made holy before him as long as we live.

   And you, my child, "Prophet of the Highest,"
      will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
   Present the offer of salvation to his people,
      the forgiveness of their sins.
   Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
      God's Sunrise will break in upon us,
   Shining on those in the darkness,
      those sitting in the shadow of death,
   Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
      down the path of peace.
 80The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel.

Psalm 58:1-11 (The Message)

Psalm 58

A David Psalm
 1-2 Is this any way to run a country? Is there an honest politician in the house?
   Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil,
      behind closed doors you make deals with demons.

 3-5 The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle;
      their first words out of the womb are lies.
   Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison,
      drips from their forked tongues—
   Deaf to threats, deaf to charm,
      decades of wax built up in their ears.

 6-9 God, smash their teeth to bits,
      leave them toothless tigers.
   Let their lives be buckets of water spilled,
      all that's left, a damp stain in the sand.
   Let them be trampled grass
      worn smooth by the traffic.
   Let them dissolve into snail slime,
      be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight.
   Before what they cook up is half-done, God,
      throw it out with the garbage!

 10-11 The righteous will call up their friends
      when they see the wicked get their reward,
   Serve up their blood in goblets
      as they toast one another,
   Everyone cheering, "It's worth it to play by the rules!
      God's handing out trophies and tending the earth!"
A David Psalm, When Saul Set a Watch on
    David's House in Order to Kill Him


Proverbs 11:12-13 (The Message)

 12 Mean-spirited slander is heartless;
   quiet discretion accompanies good sense.

 13 A gadabout gossip can't be trusted with a secret,
   but someone of integrity won't violate a confidence.

Verse of the Day

“But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.” - Acts 4:10,12
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Image result for Lady GregoryThought for Today

Irish dramatist, folklorist and theatre manager, Lady Gregory wrote, “Every trick is an old one, but with a change of players, a change of dress, it comes out as new as before.”

Image result for politician jokesA Joke for Today

A doctor, an engineer, and a politician were arguing as to which profession was older.

"Well," argued the doctor, "without a physician mankind could not have survived, so I am sure that mine is the oldest profession."

"No," said the engineer, "before life began there was complete chaos, and it took an engineer to create some semblance of order from this chaos. So engineering is older."

"But," chirped the triumphant politician, "who created the chaos?"