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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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Bible Readings for December 15, 2018

Today our passages are Micah 1:1–4:13; Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 134:1-3; and Proverbs 30:1-4The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf 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.
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Micah 1-4:13 (The Message)

Micah 1

 1 God's Message as it came to Micah of Moresheth. It came during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. It had to do with what was going on in Samaria and Jerusalem. God Takes the Witness Stand  2Listen, people—all of you.
   Listen, earth, and everyone in it:
The Master, God, takes the witness stand against you,
   the Master from his Holy Temple.
 3-5Look, here he comes! God, from his place!
   He comes down and strides across mountains and hills.
Mountains sink under his feet,
   valleys split apart;
The rock mountains crumble into gravel,
   the river valleys leak like sieves.
All this because of Jacob's sin,
   because Israel's family did wrong.
You ask, "So what is Jacob's sin?"
   Just look at Samaria—isn't it obvious?
And all the sex-and-religion shrines in Judah—
   isn't Jerusalem responsible?
 6-7"I'm turning Samaria into a heap of rubble,
   a vacant lot littered with garbage.
I'll dump the stones from her buildings in the valley
   and leave her abandoned foundations exposed.
All her carved and cast gods and goddesses
   will be sold for stove wood and scrap metal,
All her sacred fertility groves
   burned to the ground,
All the sticks and stones she worshiped as gods,
These were her earnings from her life as a whore.
   This is what happens to the fees of a whore."
 8-9This is why I lament and mourn.
   This is why I go around in rags and barefoot.
This is why I howl like a pack of coyotes,
   and moan like a mournful owl in the night.
God has inflicted punishing wounds;
   Judah has been wounded with no healing in sight.
Judgment has marched through the city gates.
   Jerusalem must face the charges.
 10-16Don't gossip about this in Telltown.
   Don't waste your tears.
In Dustville,
   roll in the dust.
In Alarmtown,
   the alarm is sounded.
The citizens of Exitburgh
   will never get out alive.
Lament, Last-Stand City:
   There's nothing in you left standing.
The villagers of Bittertown
   wait in vain for sweet peace.
Harsh judgment has come from God
   and entered Peace City.
All you who live in Chariotville,
   get in your chariots for flight.
You led the daughter of Zion
   into trusting not God but chariots.
Similar sins in Israel
   also got their start in you.
Go ahead and give your good-bye gifts
   to Good-byeville.
Miragetown beckoned
   but disappointed Israel's kings.
Inheritance City
   has lost its inheritance.
   has seen its last of glory.
Shave your heads in mourning
   over the loss of your precious towns.
Go bald as a goose egg—they've gone
   into exile and aren't coming back. 

Micah 2

God Has Had Enough
 1-5 Doom to those who plot evil,
   who go to bed dreaming up crimes!
As soon as it's morning,
   they're off, full of energy, doing what they've planned.
They covet fields and grab them,
   find homes and take them.
They bully the neighbor and his family,
   see people only for what they can get out of them.
God has had enough. He says,
   "I have some plans of my own:
Disaster because of this interbreeding evil!
   Your necks are on the line.
You're not walking away from this.
   It's doomsday for you.
Mocking ballads will be sung of you,
   and you yourselves will sing the blues:
'Our lives are ruined,
   our homes and lands auctioned off.
They take everything, leave us nothing!
   All is sold to the highest bidder.'"
And there'll be no one to stand up for you,
   no one to speak for you before God and his jury.  6-7"Don't preach," say the preachers.
   "Don't preach such stuff.
Nothing bad will happen to us.
   Talk like this to the family of Jacob?
Does God lose his temper?
   Is this the way he acts?
Isn't he on the side of good people?
   Doesn't he help those who help themselves?"
 8-11"What do you mean, 'good people'!
   You're the enemy of my people!
You rob unsuspecting people
   out for an evening stroll.
You take their coats off their backs
   like soldiers who plunder the defenseless.
You drive the women of my people
   out of their ample homes.
You make victims of the children
   and leave them vulnerable to violence and vice.
Get out of here, the lot of you.
   You can't take it easy here!
You've polluted this place,
   and now you're polluted—ruined!
If someone showed up with a good smile and glib tongue
   and told lies from morning to night—
'I'll preach sermons that will tell you
   how you can get anything you want from God:
More money, the best name it'—
   you'd hire him on the spot as your preacher!
 12-13"I'm calling a meeting, Jacob.
   I want everyone back—all the survivors of Israel.
I'll get them together in one place—
   like sheep in a fold, like cattle in a corral—
   a milling throng of homebound people!
Then I, God, will burst all confinements
   and lead them out into the open.
They'll follow their King.
   I will be out in front leading them." 

Micah 3

Haters of Good, Lovers of Evil
 1-3 Then I said:
"Listen, leaders of Jacob, leaders of Israel:
   Don't you know anything of justice?
Haters of good, lovers of evil:
   Isn't justice in your job description?
But you skin my people alive.
   You rip the meat off their bones.
You break up the bones, chop the meat,
   and throw it in a pot for cannibal stew."  4The time's coming, though, when these same leaders
   will cry out for help to God, but he won't listen.
He'll turn his face the other way
   because of their history of evil.
 5-7Here is God's Message to the prophets,
   the preachers who lie to my people:
"For as long as they're well paid and well fed,
   the prophets preach, 'Isn't life wonderful! Peace to all!'
But if you don't pay up and jump on their bandwagon,
   their 'God bless you' turns into 'God damn you.'
Therefore, you're going blind. You'll see nothing.
   You'll live in deep shadows and know nothing.
The sun has set on the prophets.
   They've had their day; from now on it's night.
Visionaries will be confused,
   experts will be all mixed up.
They'll hide behind their reputations and make lame excuses
   to cover up their God-ignorance."
 8But me—I'm filled with God's power,
   filled with God's Spirit of justice and strength,
Ready to confront Jacob's crime
   and Israel's sin.
 9-12The leaders of Jacob and
   the leaders of Israel are
Leaders contemptuous of justice,
   who twist and distort right living,
Leaders who build Zion by killing people,
   who expand Jerusalem by committing crimes.
Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder,
   priests mass-market their teaching,
   prophets preach for high fees,
All the while posturing and pretending
   dependence on God:
"We've got God on our side.
   He'll protect us from disaster."
Because of people like you,
   Zion will be turned back into farmland,
Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble,
   and instead of the Temple on the mountain,
   a few scraggly scrub pines. 

Micah 4

The Making of God's People
 1-4 But when all is said and done,
   God's Temple on the mountain,
Firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains,
   towering above surrounding hills.
People will stream to it
   and many nations set out for it,
Saying, "Come, let's climb God's mountain.
   Let's go to the Temple of Jacob's God.
He will teach us how to live.
   We'll know how to live God's way."
True teaching will issue from Zion,
   God's revelation from Jerusalem.
He'll establish justice in the rabble of nations
   and settle disputes in faraway places.
They'll trade in their swords for shovels,
   their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other,
   quit learning how to kill one another.
Each man will sit under his own shade tree,
   each woman in safety will tend her own garden.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so,
   and he means what he says.  5Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish,
   picking and choosing their gods.
But we live honoring God,
   and we're loyal to our God forever and ever.
 6-7"On that great day," God says,
   "I will round up all the hurt and homeless,
   everyone I have bruised or banished.
I will transform the battered into a company of the elite.
   I will make a strong nation out of the long lost,
A showcase exhibit of God's rule in action,
   as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity.
 8"And you stragglers around Jerusalem,
   eking out a living in shantytowns:
The glory that once was will be again.
   Jerusalem's daughter will be the kingdom center."
 9-10So why the doomsday hysterics?
   You still have a king, don't you?
But maybe he's not doing his job
   and you're panicked like a woman in labor.
Well, go ahead—twist and scream, Daughter Jerusalem.
   You are like a woman in childbirth.
You'll soon be out of the city, on your way
   and camping in the open country.
And then you'll arrive in Babylon.
   What you lost in Jerusalem will be found in Babylon.
God will give you new life again.
   He'll redeem you from your enemies.
 11-12But for right now, they're ganged up against you,
   many godless peoples, saying,
"Kick her when she's down! Violate her!
   We want to see Zion grovel in the dirt."
These blasphemers have no idea
   what God is thinking and doing in this.
They don't know that this is the making of God's people,
   that they are wheat being threshed, gold being refined.
 13On your feet, Daughter of Zion! Be threshed of chaff,
   be refined of dross.
I'm remaking you into a people invincible,
   into God's juggernaut to crush the godless peoples.
You'll bring their plunder as holy offerings to God,
   their wealth to the Master of the earth.

Revelation 6:1-17 (The Message)

Revelation 6

Unsealing the Scroll
 1-2I watched while the Lamb ripped off the first of the seven seals.    I heard one of the Animals roar, "Come out!" I looked—I saw a white horse. Its rider carried a bow and was given a victory garland. He rode off victorious, conquering right and left.
 3-4When the Lamb ripped off the second seal, I heard the second Animal cry, "Come out!" Another horse appeared, this one red. Its rider was off to take peace from the earth, setting people at each other's throats, killing one another. He was given a huge sword.
 5-6When he ripped off the third seal, I heard the third Animal cry, "Come out!" I looked. A black horse this time. Its rider carried a set of scales in his hand. I heard a message (it seemed to issue from the Four Animals): "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, or three quarts of barley, but all the oil and wine you want." 1 When the Lamb ripped off the seventh seal, Heaven fell quiet— complete silence for about half an hour. Blowing the Trumpets
 9-11When he ripped off the fifth seal, I saw the souls of those killed because they had held firm in their witness to the Word of God. They were gathered under the Altar, and cried out in loud prayers, "How long, Strong God, Holy and True? How long before you step in and avenge our murders?" Then each martyr was given a white robe and told to sit back and wait until the full number of martyrs was filled from among their servant companions and friends in the faith.
 12-17I watched while he ripped off the sixth seal: a bone-jarring earthquake, sun turned black as ink, moon all bloody, stars falling out of the sky like figs shaken from a tree in a high wind, sky snapped shut like a book, islands and mountains sliding this way and that. And then pandemonium, everyone and his dog running for cover—kings, princes, generals, rich and strong, along with every commoner, slave or free. They hid in mountain caves and rocky dens, calling out to mountains and rocks, "Refuge! Hide us from the One Seated on the Throne and the wrath of the Lamb! The great Day of their wrath has come—who can stand it?"

Psalm 134:1-3 (The Message)

Psalm 134

A Pilgrim Song
 1-3 Come, bless God, all you servants of God!
   You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch
      in God's shrine,
   Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place,
      and bless God.
   In turn, may God of Zion bless you—
      God who made heaven and earth!

Proverbs 30:1-4 (The Message)

Proverbs 30

The Words of Agur Ben Yakeh
God? Who Needs Him?
 1-2 The skeptic swore, "There is no God! No God!—I can do anything I want!
I'm more animal than human;
   so-called human intelligence escapes me.

 3-4 "I flunked 'wisdom.'
   I see no evidence of a holy God.
Has anyone ever seen Anyone
   climb into Heaven and take charge?
   grab the winds and control them?
   gather the rains in his bucket?
   stake out the ends of the earth?
Just tell me his name, tell me the names of his sons.
   Come on now—tell me!"

Verse of the Day
“Then the angel told Mary, 'Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.'” - Luke 1:30-33 
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Oscar Niemeyer 1968b.jpgThought for the Day

Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer wrote, “For me beauty is valued more than anything - the beauty that is manifest in a curved line or in an act of creativity.”

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A Joke for Today

A grasshopper walks into a bar. The bartender laughs and says, 'Hey, we have a drink named after you!'

The grasshopper looks at the bartender, with a look of extreme confusion on his face, and says, 'You have a drink called Steve?'

Friday, December 14, 2018

Bible Readings for December 14, 2018

Today our passages are Jonah 1:1–4:11; Revelation 5:1-14; Psalm 133:1-3; and Proverbs 29:26-27The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf 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.
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Jonah 1-4:11 (The Message)

Jonah 1

Running Away from God
 1-2 One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son: "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer." 3 But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get.  4-6 But God sent a huge storm at sea, the waves towering.
    The ship was about to break into pieces. The sailors were terrified. They called out in desperation to their gods. They threw everything they were carrying overboard to lighten the ship. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship to take a nap. He was sound asleep. The captain came to him and said, "What's this? Sleeping! Get up! Pray to your god! Maybe your god will see we're in trouble and rescue us."
 7 Then the sailors said to one another, "Let's get to the bottom of this. Let's draw straws to identify the culprit on this ship who's responsible for this disaster."
    So they drew straws. Jonah got the short straw.
 8 Then they grilled him: "Confess. Why this disaster? What is your work? Where do you come from? What country? What family?"
 9 He told them, "I'm a Hebrew. I worship God, the God of heaven who made sea and land."
 10 At that, the men were frightened, really frightened, and said, "What on earth have you done!" As Jonah talked, the sailors realized that he was running away from God.
 11 They said to him, "What are we going to do with you—to get rid of this storm?" By this time the sea was wild, totally out of control.
 12 Jonah said, "Throw me overboard, into the sea. Then the storm will stop. It's all my fault. I'm the cause of the storm. Get rid of me and you'll get rid of the storm."
 13 But no. The men tried rowing back to shore. They made no headway. The storm only got worse and worse, wild and raging.
 14 Then they prayed to God, "O God! Don't let us drown because of this man's life, and don't blame us for his death. You are God. Do what you think is best."
 15 They took Jonah and threw him overboard. Immediately the sea was quieted down.
 16 The sailors were impressed, no longer terrified by the sea, but in awe of God. They worshiped God, offered a sacrifice, and made vows.
 17 Then God assigned a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the fish's belly three days and nights. 

Jonah 2

At the Bottom of the Sea
 1-9 Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed:    "In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.
   He answered me.
From the belly of the grave I cried, 'Help!'
   You heard my cry.
You threw me into ocean's depths,
   into a watery grave,
With ocean waves, ocean breakers
   crashing over me.
I said, 'I've been thrown away,
   thrown out, out of your sight.
I'll never again lay eyes
   on your Holy Temple.'
Ocean gripped me by the throat.
   The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.
My head was all tangled in seaweed
   at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.
I was as far down as a body can go,
   and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—
Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,
   O God, my God!
When my life was slipping away,
   I remembered God,
And my prayer got through to you,
   made it all the way to your Holy Temple.
Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,
   walk away from their only true love.
But I'm worshiping you, God,
   calling out in thanksgiving!
And I'll do what I promised I'd do!
   Salvation belongs to God!"
 10 Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore. 

Jonah 3

Maybe God Will Change His Mind
 1-2 Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time: "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer." 3 This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter.     Nineveh was a big city, very big—it took three days to walk across it.
 4 Jonah entered the city, went one day's walk and preached, "In forty days Nineveh will be smashed."
 5The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it—rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers.
 6-9 When the message reached the king of Nineveh, he got up off his throne, threw down his royal robes, dressed in burlap, and sat down in the dirt. Then he issued a public proclamation throughout Nineveh, authorized by him and his leaders: "Not one drop of water, not one bite of food for man, woman, or animal, including your herds and flocks! Dress them all, both people and animals, in burlap, and send up a cry for help to God. Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and the violent ways that stain their hands. Who knows? Maybe God will turn around and change his mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!"
 10 God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn't do. 

Jonah 4

"I Knew This Was Going to Happen!"
 1-2 J onah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, "God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That's why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!
"I Knew This Was Going to Happen!"
 1-2 Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, "God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That's why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!  4God said, "What do you have to be angry about?"
 5But Jonah just left. He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter of leafy branches and sat there in the shade to see what would happen to the city.
 6God arranged for a broad-leafed tree to spring up. It grew over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry sulk. Jonah was pleased and enjoyed the shade. Life was looking up.
 7-8But then God sent a worm. By dawn of the next day, the worm had bored into the shade tree and it withered away. The sun came up and God sent a hot, blistering wind from the east. The sun beat down on Jonah's head and he started to faint. He prayed to die: "I'm better off dead!"
 9Then God said to Jonah, "What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?"
   Jonah said, "Plenty of right. It's made me angry enough to die!"
 10-11God said, "What's this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can't I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don't yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?"

Revelation 5:1-14 (The Message)

Revelation 5

The Lion Is a Lamb
 1-2I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One Seated on the Throne. It was written on both sides, fastened with seven seals. I also saw a powerful Angel, calling out in a voice like thunder, "Is there anyone who can open the scroll, who can break its seals?"  3There was no one—no one in Heaven, no one on earth, no one from the underworld—able to break open the scroll and read it.
 4-5I wept and wept and wept that no one was found able to open the scroll, able to read it. One of the Elders said, "Don't weep. Look—the Lion from Tribe Judah, the Root of David's Tree, has conquered. He can open the scroll, can rip through the seven seals."
 6-10So I looked, and there, surrounded by Throne, Animals, and Elders, was a Lamb, slaughtered but standing tall. Seven horns he had, and seven eyes, the Seven Spirits of God sent into all the earth. He came to the One Seated on the Throne and took the scroll from his right hand. The moment he took the scroll, the Four Animals and Twenty-four Elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. Each had a harp and each had a bowl, a gold bowl filled with incense, the prayers of God's holy people. And they sang a new song:

   Worthy! Take the scroll, open its seals.
   Slain! Paying in blood, you bought men and women,
   Bought them back from all over the earth,
   Bought them back for God.
   Then you made them a Kingdom, Priests for our God,
   Priest-kings to rule over the earth.
 11-14I looked again. I heard a company of Angels around the Throne, the Animals, and the Elders—ten thousand times ten thousand their number, thousand after thousand after thousand in full song:

   The slain Lamb is worthy!
   Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength!
   Take the honor, the glory, the blessing!
Then I heard every creature in Heaven and earth, in underworld and sea, join in, all voices in all places, singing:

   To the One on the Throne! To the Lamb!
   The blessing, the honor, the glory, the strength,
   For age after age after age.
The Four Animals called out, "Oh, Yes!" The Elders fell to their knees and worshiped.

Psalm 133:1-3 (The Message)

Psalm 133

A Pilgrim Song of David
 1-3 How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
   It's like costly anointing oil
      flowing down head and beard,
   Flowing down Aaron's beard,
      flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
   It's like the dew on Mount Hermon
      flowing down the slopes of Zion.
   Yes, that's where God commands the blessing,
      ordains eternal life.


Proverbs 29:26-27 (The Message)

 26 Everyone tries to get help from the leader,
   but only God will give us justice.

 27 Good people can't stand the sight of deliberate evil;
   the wicked can't stand the sight of well-chosen goodness.

Verse of the Day

“[An Angel Tells about the Birth of Jesus]One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. The angel greeted Mary and said, "You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.” - Luke 1:26-28 
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Related imageThought for the Day

British naval flag officer of the Royal Navy, mercenary and radical politician, Thomas Cochrane wrote, “Loyalty to the family must be merged into loyalty to the community, loyalty to the community into loyalty to the nation, and loyalty to the nation into loyalty to mankind. The citizen of the future must be a citizen of the world.”

Related imageA Joke for Today

A racehorse owner asked his jockey why he didn't ride his mount through a hole when it opened up just before the final turn. 

"I tried," replied the jockey. "But it is impossible to go through a hole that is going faster than your horse."

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bible Readings for December 13, 2018

Today our passages are Obadiah 1-21; Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 132:1-18; and Proverbs 29:24-25The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf 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.
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Obadiah 1-21 (The Message)

Obadiah 1

Your World Will Collapse
 1 Obadiah's Message to Edom
   from God, the Master.
We got the news straight from God
   by a special messenger sent out to the godless nations:    "On your feet, prepare for battle;
   get ready to make war on Edom!
 2-4 "Listen to this, Edom:
   I'm turning you to a no-account,
   the runt of the godless nations, despised.
You thought you were so great,
   perched high among the rocks, king of the mountain,
Thinking to yourself,
   'Nobody can get to me! Nobody can touch me!'
Think again. Even if, like an eagle,
   you hang out on a high cliff-face,
Even if you build your nest in the stars,
   I'll bring you down to earth."
         God's sure Word.
 5-14"If thieves crept up on you,
   they'd rob you blind—isn't that so?
If they mugged you on the streets at night,
   they'd pick you clean—isn't that so?
Oh, they'll take Esau apart, piece by piece,
   empty his purse and pockets.
All your old partners will drive you to the edge.
   Your old friends will lie to your face.
Your old drinking buddies will stab you in the back.
   Your world will collapse. You won't know what hit you.
So don't be surprised"—it's God's sure Word!—
   "when I wipe out all sages from Edom
   and rid the Esau mountains of its famous wise men.
Your great heroes will desert you, Teman.
   There'll be nobody left in Esau's mountains.
Because of the murderous history compiled
   against your brother Jacob,
You will be looked down on by everyone.
   You'll lose your place in history.
On that day you stood there and didn't do anything.
   Strangers took your brother's army into exile.
Godless foreigners invaded and pillaged Jerusalem.
   You stood there and watched.
   You were as bad as they were.
You shouldn't have gloated over your brother
   when he was down-and-out.
You shouldn't have laughed and joked at Judah's sons
   when they were facedown in the mud.
You shouldn't have talked so big
   when everything was so bad.
You shouldn't have taken advantage of my people
   when their lives had fallen apart.
You of all people should not have been amused
   by their troubles, their wrecked nation.
You shouldn't have taken the shirt off their back
   when they were knocked flat, defenseless.
And you shouldn't have stood waiting at the outskirts
   and cut off refugees,
And traitorously turned in helpless survivors
   who had lost everything.
 15-18 "God's Judgment Day is near
   for all the godless nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you.
   What you did will boomerang back
   and hit your own head.
Just as you partied on my holy mountain,
   all the godless nations will drink God's wrath.
They'll drink and drink and drink—
   they'll drink themselves to death.
But not so on Mount Zion—there's respite there!
   a safe and holy place!
The family of Jacob will take back their possessions
   from those who took them from them.
That's when the family of Jacob will catch fire,
   the family of Joseph become fierce flame,
   while the family of Esau will be straw.
Esau will go up in flames,
   nothing left of Esau but a pile of ashes."
         God said it, and it is so.
 19-21 People from the south will take over the Esau mountains;
   people from the foothills will overrun the Philistines.
They'll take the farms of Ephraim and Samaria,
   and Benjamin will take Gilead.
Earlier, Israelite exiles will come back
   and take Canaanite land to the north at Zarephath.
Jerusalem exiles from the far northwest in Sepharad
   will come back and take the cities in the south.
The remnant of the saved in Mount Zion
   will go into the mountains of Esau
And rule justly and fairly,
   a rule that honors God's kingdom.

Revelation 4:1-11 (The Message)

Revelation 4

A Door into Heaven
 1 Then I looked, and, oh!—a door open into Heaven. The trumpet-voice, the first voice in my vision, called out, "Ascend and enter. I'll show you what happens next."  2-6I was caught up at once in deep worship and, oh!—a Throne set in Heaven with One Seated on the Throne, suffused in gem hues of amber and flame with a nimbus of emerald. Twenty-four thrones circled the Throne, with Twenty-four Elders seated, white-robed, gold-crowned. Lightning flash and thunder crash pulsed from the Throne. Seven fire-blazing torches fronted the Throne (these are the Sevenfold Spirit of God). Before the Throne it was like a clear crystal sea.
 6-8Prowling around the Throne were Four Animals, all eyes. Eyes to look ahead, eyes to look behind. The first Animal like a lion, the second like an ox, the third with a human face, the fourth like an eagle in flight. The Four Animals were winged, each with six wings. They were all eyes, seeing around and within. And they chanted night and day, never taking a break:

   Holy, holy, holy
   Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,
   The Was, The Is, The Coming.
 9-11Every time the Animals gave glory and honor and thanks to the One Seated on the Throne—the age-after-age Living One—the Twenty-four Elders would fall prostrate before the One Seated on the Throne. They worshiped the age-after-age Living One. They threw their crowns at the foot of the Throne, chanting,

   Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
   Take the glory! the honor! the power!
   You created it all;
   It was created because you wanted it.

Psalm 132:1-18 (The Message)

Psalm 132

A Pilgrim Song
 1-5 O God, remember David, remember all his troubles!
   And remember how he promised God,
      made a vow to the Strong God of Jacob,
   "I'm not going home,
      and I'm not going to bed,
   I'm not going to sleep,
      not even take time to rest,
   Until I find a home for God,
      a house for the Strong God of Jacob."

 6-7 Remember how we got the news in Ephrathah,
      learned all about it at Jaar Meadows?
   We shouted, "Let's go to the shrine dedication!
      Let's worship at God's own footstool!"

 8-10 Up, God, enjoy your new place of quiet repose,
      you and your mighty covenant ark;
   Get your priests all dressed up in justice;
      prompt your worshipers to sing this prayer:
   "Honor your servant David;
      don't disdain your anointed one."

 11-18 God gave David his word,
      he won't back out on this promise:
   "One of your sons
      I will set on your throne;
   If your sons stay true to my Covenant
      and learn to live the way I teach them,
   Their sons will continue the line—
      always a son to sit on your throne.
   Yes—I, God, chose Zion,
      the place I wanted for my shrine;
   This will always be my home;
      this is what I want, and I'm here for good.
   I'll shower blessings on the pilgrims who come here,
      and give supper to those who arrive hungry;
   I'll dress my priests in salvation clothes;
      the holy people will sing their hearts out!
   Oh, I'll make the place radiant for David!
      I'll fill it with light for my anointed!
   I'll dress his enemies in dirty rags,
      but I'll make his crown sparkle with splendor."


Proverbs 29:24-25 (The Message)

 24 Befriend an outlaw
   and become an enemy to yourself.
When the victims cry out,
   you'll be included in their curses
   if you're a coward to their cause in court.

 25 The fear of human opinion disables;
   trusting in God protects you from that.

Verse of the Day

“Herod brought together the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?" They told him, "He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote, 'Bethlehem in the land of Judea, you are very important among the towns of Judea. From your town will come a leader, who will be like a shepherd for my people Israel.” - Matthew 2:4-6 
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Related imageThough for the Day

Spanish painter, sculptor and art theorist, Antoni Tapies wrote, “If I can't change the world, at least I want to change the way people look at it.”

A Joke for Today

Image result for God jokesOne day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. So he called one of His angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time.

When he returned, he told God, 'Yes, it is bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.

God thought for a moment and said, 'Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.'

So God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time.

When the angel returned he went to God and said, 'Yes, it's true. The Earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good.'

God was not pleased. So He decided to e-mail the 5% that were good, because he wanted to encourage them, and give them a little something to help them keep going.

Do you know what the e-mail said?

Okay, I was just wondering, because I didn't get one either.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, December 16, 2...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, December 16, 2...: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Old Testament ( Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6 ), the Letters ( Philippians 4:4-7 ), a...

Bible Readings for December 12, 2018

Today our passages are Amos 7:1–9:15; Revelation 3:7-22; Psalm 131:1-3; and Proverbs 29:23The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf 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.
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Amos 7-9:15 (The Message)

Amos 7

To Die Homeless and Friendless
 1-2 G od, my Master, showed me this vision: He was preparing a locust swarm. The first cutting, which went to the king, was complete, and the second crop was just sprouting. The locusts ate everything green. Not even a blade of grass was left.     I called out, "God, my Master! Excuse me, but what's going to come of Jacob? He's so small." 
To Die Homeless and Friendless
 1-2 God, my Master, showed me this vision: He was preparing a locust swarm. The first cutting, which went to the king, was complete, and the second crop was just sprouting. The locusts ate everything green. Not even a blade of grass was left.     I called out, "God, my Master! Excuse me, but what's going to come of Jacob? He's so small."
 4 God showed me this vision: Oh! God, my Master God was calling up a firestorm. It burned up the ocean. Then it burned up the Promised Land.
 5 I said, "God, my Master! Hold it—please! What's going to come of Jacob? He's so small."
 6 God gave in.
    "All right, this won't happen either," God, my Master, said.
 7 God showed me this vision: My Master was standing beside a wall. In his hand he held a plumb line.
 8-9 God said to me, "What do you see, Amos?"
    I said, "A plumb line."
    Then my Master said, "Look what I've done. I've hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I've spared them for the last time. This is it!

   "Isaac's sex-and-religion shrines will be smashed,
   Israel's unholy shrines will be knocked to pieces.
   I'm raising my sword against the royal family of Jeroboam."
 10 Amaziah, priest at the shrine at Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel:
    "Amos is plotting to get rid of you; and he's doing it as an insider, working from within Israel. His talk will destroy the country. He's got to be silenced. Do you know what Amos is saying?

 11'Jeroboam will be killed.
   Israel is headed for exile.'
 12-13 Then Amaziah confronted Amos: "Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don't show your face here again. This is the king's chapel. This is a royal shrine."
 14-15 But Amos stood up to Amaziah: "I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, 'Go preach to my people Israel.'
 16-17 "So listen to God's Word. You tell me, 'Don't preach to Israel. Don't say anything against the family of Isaac.' But here's what God is telling you:

   Your wife will become a whore in town.
   Your children will get killed.
   Your land will be auctioned off.
   You will die homeless and friendless.
   And Israel will be hauled off to exile, far from home." 

Amos 8

You Who Give Little and Take Much
 1 My Master God showed me this vision: A bowl of fresh fruit. 2He said, "What do you see, Amos?" I said, "A bowl of fresh, ripe fruit." God said, "Right. So, I'm calling it quits with my people Israel. I'm no longer acting as if everything is just fine."  3"The royal singers will wail when it happens."
   My Master God said so.
"Corpses will be strewn here, there, and everywhere.
 4-6Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak,
   you who treat poor people as less than nothing,
Who say, "When's my next paycheck coming
   so I can go out and live it up?
How long till the weekend
   when I can go out and have a good time?"
Who give little and take much,
   and never do an honest day's work.
You exploit the poor, using them—
   and then, when they're used up, you discard them.
 7-8God swears against the arrogance of Jacob:
   "I'm keeping track of their every last sin."
God's oath will shake earth's foundations,
   dissolve the whole world into tears.
God's oath will sweep in like a river that rises,
   flooding houses and lands,
And then recedes,
   leaving behind a sea of mud.
 9-10"On Judgment Day, watch out!"
   These are the words of God, my Master.
"I'll turn off the sun at noon.
   In the middle of the day the earth will go black.
I'll turn your parties into funerals
   and make every song you sing a dirge.
Everyone will walk around in rags,
   with sunken eyes and bald heads.
Think of the worst that could happen
   —your only son, say, murdered.
That's a hint of Judgment Day
   —that and much more.
 11-12"Oh yes, Judgment Day is coming!"
   These are the words of my Master God.
"I'll send a famine through the whole country.
   It won't be food or water that's lacking, but my Word.
People will drift from one end of the country to the other,
   roam to the north, wander to the east.
They'll go anywhere, listen to anyone,
   hoping to hear God's Word—but they won't hear it.
 13-14"On Judgment Day,
   lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst,
   robust young men will faint of God-thirst,
Along with those who take oaths at the Samaria Sin-and-Sex Center,
   saying, 'As the lord god of Dan is my witness!'
   and 'The lady goddess of Beer-sheba bless you!'
Their lives will fall to pieces.
   They'll never put it together again." 

Amos 9

Israel Thrown into a Sieve
 1-4 I saw my Master standing beside the altar at the shrine. He said: "Hit the tops of the shrine's pillars,
   make the floor shake.
The roof's about to fall on the heads of the people,
   and whoever's still alive, I'll kill.
No one will get away,
   no runaways will make it.
If they dig their way down into the underworld,
   I'll find them and bring them up.
If they climb to the stars,
   I'll find them and bring them down.
If they hide out at the top of Mount Carmel,
   I'll find them and bring them back.
If they dive to the bottom of the ocean,
   I'll send Dragon to swallow them up.
If they're captured alive by their enemies,
   I'll send Sword to kill them.
I've made up my mind
   to hurt them, not help them."  5-6My Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
   touches the earth, a mere touch, and it trembles.
   The whole world goes into mourning.
Earth swells like the Nile at flood stage;
   then the water subsides, like the great Nile of Egypt.
God builds his palace—towers soaring high in the skies,
   foundations set on the rock-firm earth.
He calls ocean waters and they come,
   then he ladles them out on the earth.
         God, your God, does all this.
 7-8 "Do you Israelites think you're any better than the far-off Cushites?" God's Decree.
    "Am I not involved with all nations? Didn't I bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, the Arameans from Qir? But you can be sure that I, God, the Master, have my eye on the Kingdom of Sin. I'm going to wipe it off the face of the earth. Still, I won't totally destroy the family of Jacob." God's Decree.
 9-10 "I'm still giving the orders around here. I'm throwing Israel into a sieve among all the nations and shaking them good, shaking out all the sin, all the sinners. No real grain will be lost, but all the sinners will be sifted out and thrown away, the people who say, 'Nothing bad will ever happen in our lifetime. It won't even come close.' 
Blessings Like Wine Pouring off the Mountains
 11-12 "But also on that Judgment Day I will restore David's house that has fallen to pieces. I'll repair the holes in the roof, replace the broken windows, fix it up like new. David's people will be strong again and seize what's left of enemy Edom, plus everyone else under my sovereign judgment." God's Decree. He will do this.  13-15 "Yes indeed, it won't be long now." God's Decree.
    "Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won't be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I'll make everything right again for my people Israel:

   "They'll rebuild their ruined cities.
   They'll plant vineyards and drink good wine.
   They'll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables.
   And I'll plant them, plant them on their own land.
   They'll never again be uprooted from the land I've given them."

    God, your God, says so.

Revelation 3:7-22 (The Message)

To Philadelphia
 7Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David's key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:  8"I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.
 9"And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they're forced to acknowledge it's you that I've loved.
 10"Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I'll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.
 11"I'm on my way; I'll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.
 12"I'll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I'll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God's City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.
 13"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches." 
To Laodicea
 14Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God's Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God's creation, says:  15-17"I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
 18"Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
 19"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!
 20-21"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!
 22"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."

Psalm 131:1-3 (The Message)

Psalm 131

A Pilgrim Song
 1God, I'm not trying to rule the roost, I don't want to be king of the mountain.
   I haven't meddled where I have no business
      or fantasized grandiose plans.

 2 I've kept my feet on the ground,
      I've cultivated a quiet heart.
   Like a baby content in its mother's arms,
      my soul is a baby content.

 3 Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.
      Hope now; hope always!


Proverbs 29:23 (The Message)

 23 Pride lands you flat on your face;
   humility prepares you for honors.

Verse of the Day

“But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God's children.” - Galatians 4:4-5 
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Patrick O'BrianThought for the Day

English novelist and translator, Patrick O'Brian wrote, “You can't be happy if you're not tolerably happy with yourself. The addition of friends adds immeasurably to life.”

Image result for pool jokes

A Joke for Today

Once there was a millionaire who had a collection of live alligators. He kept them in a pool at the back of his mansion.

The millionaire also had a beautiful daughter who was single. One day, he decides to throw a huge party.

During the party he announces, "My dear guests, I have a proposition to every man here. I will give one million dollars or my daughter to the man who can swim across this pool full of alligators and emerge unharmed!"

As soon as he finishes his last word, there is the sound of a large splash.

The guests all turn to see a man in the pool swimming as fast as he can. They cheer him on as he keeps stroking.

Finally, the swimming man makes it to the other side unharmed. The millionaire is so impressed, he says, "My boy, that was incredible! Fantastic! I didn't think it could be done! Well, I must keep my end of the bargain. Which do you want, my daughter or the one million dollars?"

The man says, "Listen, I don't want your money. I don't want your daughter, either. I want the person who pushed me in that water!"