Today our passages are Micah 1:1–4:13; Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 134:1-3; and Proverbs 30:1-4. 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.
Micah 1-4:13 (The Message)
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.
roll in the dust.
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
but disappointed Israel's kings.
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.
God Has Had Enough1-5 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 wines...you 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."
Haters of Good, Lovers of Evil1-3 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.
The Making of God's People1-4 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)
Unsealing the Scroll1-2I 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)
A Pilgrim Song1-3 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)
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.
Thought 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.”
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?'