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:

Image result for paypal donate

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bible Readings for March 31, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 16:1–17:20; Luke 9:7-27; Psalm 72:1-20; and Proverbs 12:8-9. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 16-17:20 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 16

1-4 Observe the month of Abib by celebrating the Passover to God, your God. It was in the month of Abib that God, your God, delivered you by night from Egypt. Offer the Passover-Sacrifice to God, your God, at the place God chooses to be worshiped by establishing his name there. Don’t eat yeast bread with it; for seven days eat it with unraised bread, hard-times bread, because you left Egypt in a hurry—that bread will keep the memory fresh of how you left Egypt for as long as you live. There is to be no sign of yeast anywhere for seven days. And don’t let any of the meat that you sacrifice in the evening be left over until morning.

5-7 Don’t sacrifice the Passover in any of the towns that God, your God, gives you other than the one God, your God, designates for worship; there and there only you will offer the Passover-Sacrifice at evening as the sun goes down, marking the time that you left Egypt. Boil and eat it at the place designated by God, your God. Then, at daybreak, turn around and go home.

8 Eat unraised bread for six days. Set aside the seventh day as a holiday; don’t do any work.

9-11 Starting from the day you put the sickle to the ripe grain, count out seven weeks. Celebrate the Feast-of-Weeks to God, your God, by bringing your Freewill-Offering—give as generously as God, your God, has blessed you. Rejoice in the Presence of God, your God: you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, the Levite who lives in your neighborhood, the foreigner, the orphan and widow among you; rejoice at the place God, your God, will set aside to be worshiped.

12 Don’t forget that you were once a slave in Egypt. So be diligent in observing these regulations.

13-15 Observe the Feast-of-Booths for seven days when you gather the harvest from your threshing-floor and your wine-vat. Rejoice at your festival: you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, the Levite, the foreigner, and the orphans and widows who live in your neighborhood. Celebrate the Feast to God, your God, for seven days at the place God designates. God, your God, has been blessing you in your harvest and in all your work, so make a day of it—really celebrate!

16-17 All your men must appear before God, your God, three times each year at the place he designates: at the Feast-of-Unraised-Bread (Passover), at the Feast-of-Weeks, and at the Feast-of-Booths. No one is to show up in the Presence of God empty-handed; each man must bring as much as he can manage, giving generously in response to the blessings of God, your God.

18-19 Appoint judges and officers, organized by tribes, in all the towns that God, your God, is giving you. They are to judge the people fairly and honestly. Don’t twist the law. Don’t play favorites. Don’t take a bribe—a bribe blinds even a wise person; it undermines the intentions of the best of people.

20 The right! The right! Pursue only what’s right! It’s the only way you can really live and possess the land that God, your God, is giving you.

21-22 Don’t plant fertility Asherah trees alongside the Altar of God, your God, that you build. Don’t set up phallic sex pillars—God, your God, hates them.

Deuteronomy 17

1 And don’t sacrifice to God, your God, an ox or sheep that is defective or has anything at all wrong with it. That’s an abomination, an insult to God, your God.

2-5 If you find anyone within the towns that God, your God, is giving you doing what is wrong in God’s eyes, breaking his covenant by going off to worship other gods, bowing down to them—the sun, say, or the moon, or any rebel sky-gods— look at the evidence and investigate carefully. If you find that it is true, that, in fact, an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you are to take the man or woman who did this evil thing outside your city gates and stone the man or the woman. Hurl stones at the person until dead.

6-7 But only on the testimony of two or three witnesses may a person be put to death. No one may be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The witnesses must throw the first stones in the execution, then the rest of the community joins in. You have to purge the evil from your community.

8-9 When matters of justice come up that are too much for you—hard cases regarding homicides, legal disputes, fights—take them up to the central place of worship that God, your God, has designated. Bring them to the Levitical priests and the judge who is in office at the time. Consult them and they will hand down the decision for you.

10-13 Then carry out their verdict at the place designated by God, your God. Do what they tell you, in exactly the way they tell you. Follow their instructions precisely: Don’t leave out anything; don’t add anything. Anyone who presumes to override or twist the decision handed down by the priest or judge who was acting in the Presence of God, your God, is as good as dead—root him out, rid Israel of the evil. Everyone will take notice and be impressed. That will put an end to presumptuous behavior.

14-17 When you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you and take it over and settle down, and then say, “I’m going to get me a king, a king like all the nations around me,” make sure you get yourself a king whom God, your God, chooses. Choose your king from among your kinsmen; don’t take a foreigner—only a kinsman. And make sure he doesn’t build up a war machine, amassing military horses and chariots. He must not send people to Egypt to get more horses, because God told you, “You’ll never go back there again!” And make sure he doesn’t build up a harem, collecting wives who will divert him from the straight and narrow. And make sure he doesn’t pile up a lot of silver and gold.

18-20 This is what must be done: When he sits down on the throne of his kingdom, the first thing he must do is make himself a copy of this Revelation on a scroll, copied under the supervision of the Levitical priests. That scroll is to remain at his side at all times; he is to study it every day so that he may learn what it means to fear his God, living in reverent obedience before these rules and regulations by following them. He must not become proud and arrogant, changing the commands at whim to suit himself or making up his own versions. If he reads and learns, he will have a long reign as king in Israel, he and his sons.

Luke 9:7-27 (The Message)

7-9Herod, the ruler, heard of these goings on and didn’t know what to think. There were people saying John had come back from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, still others that some prophet of long ago had shown up. Herod said, “But I killed John—took off his head. So who is this that I keep hearing about?” Curious, he looked for a chance to see him in action.

10-11The apostles returned and reported on what they had done. Jesus took them away, off by themselves, near the town called Bethsaida. But the crowds got wind of it and followed. Jesus graciously welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God. Those who needed healing, he healed.

Bread and Fish for Five Thousand

12As the day declined, the Twelve said, “Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat. We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”

13-14"You feed them,” Jesus said.

They said, “We couldn’t scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish—unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody.” (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.)

14-17But he went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up.

Don’t Run from Suffering

18One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?”

19They said, “John the Baptizer. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back.”

20-21He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Jesus then warned them to keep it quiet. They were to tell no one what Peter had said.

22He went on, “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the religious leaders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and on the third day be raised up alive.”

23-27Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.”

Psalm 72:1-20 (The Message)

Psalm 72

A Solomon Psalm

1-8 Give the gift of wise rule to the king, O God, the gift of just rule to the crown prince.
May he judge your people rightly,
be honorable to your meek and lowly.
Let the mountains give exuberant witness;
shape the hills with the contours of right living.
Please stand up for the poor,
help the children of the needy,
come down hard on the cruel tyrants.
Outlast the sun, outlive the moon—
age after age after age.
Be rainfall on cut grass,
earth-refreshing rain showers.
Let righteousness burst into blossom
and peace abound until the moon fades to nothing.
Rule from sea to sea,
from the River to the Rim.

9-14 Foes will fall on their knees before God,
his enemies lick the dust.
Kings remote and legendary will pay homage,
kings rich and resplendent will turn over their wealth.
All kings will fall down and worship,
and godless nations sign up to serve him,
Because he rescues the poor at the first sign of need,
the destitute who have run out of luck.
He opens a place in his heart for the down-and-out,
he restores the wretched of the earth.
He frees them from tyranny and torture—
when they bleed, he bleeds;
when they die, he dies.

15-17 And live! Oh, let him live!
Deck him out in Sheba gold.
Offer prayers unceasing to him,
bless him from morning to night.
Fields of golden grain in the land,
cresting the mountains in wild exuberance,
Cornucopias of praise, praises
springing from the city like grass from the earth.
May he never be forgotten,
his fame shine on like sunshine.
May all godless people enter his circle of blessing
and bless the One who blessed them.

18-20 Blessed God, Israel’s God,
the one and only wonder-working God!
Blessed always his blazing glory!
All earth brims with his glory.
Yes and Yes and Yes.

Proverbs 12:8-9 (The Message)

8 A person who talks sense is honored;
airheads are held in contempt.

9 Better to be ordinary and work for a living
than act important and starve in the process.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 13:1–15:23; Luke 8:40–9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; and Proverbs 12:5-7. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 13-15:23 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 13

1-4 When a prophet or visionary gets up in your community and gives out a miracle-sign or wonder, and the miracle-sign or wonder that he gave out happens and he says, “Let’s follow other gods” (these are gods you know nothing about), “let’s worship them,” don’t pay any attention to what that prophet or visionary says. God, your God, is testing you to find out if you totally love him with everything you have in you. You are to follow only God, your God, hold him in deep reverence, keep his commandments, listen obediently to what he says, serve him—hold on to him for dear life!

5 And that prophet or visionary must be put to death. He has urged mutiny against God, your God, who rescued you from Egypt, who redeemed you from a world of slavery and put you on the road on which God, your God, has commanded you to walk. Purge the evil from your company.

6-10 And when your brother or son or daughter, or even your dear wife or lifelong friend, comes to you in secret and whispers, “Let’s go and worship some other gods” (gods that you know nothing about, neither you nor your ancestors, the gods of the peoples around you near and far, from one end of the Earth to the other), don’t go along with him; shut your ears. Don’t feel sorry for him and don’t make excuses for him. Kill him. That’s right, kill him. You throw the first stone. Take action at once and swiftly with everybody in the community getting in on it at the end. Stone him with stones so that he dies. He tried to turn you traitor against God, your God, the one who got you out of Egypt and the world of slavery.

11 Every man, woman, and child in Israel will hear what’s been done and be in awe. No one will dare to do an evil thing like this again.

12-17 When word comes in from one of your cities that God, your God, is giving you to live in, reporting that evil men have gotten together with some of the citizens of the city and have broken away, saying, “Let’s go and worship other gods” (gods you know nothing about), then you must conduct a careful examination. Ask questions, investigate. If it turns out that the report is true and this abomination did in fact take place in your community, you must execute the citizens of that town. Kill them, setting that city apart for holy destruction: the city and everything in it including its animals. Gather the plunder in the middle of the town square and burn it all—town and plunder together up in smoke, a holy sacrifice to God, your God. Leave it there, ashes and ruins. Don’t build on that site again. And don’t let any of the plunder devoted to holy destruction stick to your fingers. Get rid of it so that God may turn from anger to compassion, generously making you prosper, just as he promised your ancestors.

18 Yes. Obediently listen to God, your God. Keep all his commands that I am giving you today. Do the right thing in the eyes of God, your God.

Deuteronomy 14

1-2 You are children of God, your God, so don’t mutilate your bodies or shave your heads in funeral rites for the dead. You only are a people holy to God, your God; God chose you out of all the people on Earth as his cherished personal treasure.

3-8 Don’t eat anything abominable. These are the animals you may eat: ox, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, roebuck, wild goat, ibex, antelope, mountain sheep—any animal that has a cloven hoof and chews the cud. But you may not eat camels, rabbits, and rock badgers because they chew the cud but they don’t have a cloven hoof—that makes them ritually unclean. And pigs: Don’t eat pigs—they have a cloven hoof but don’t chew the cud, which makes them ritually unclean. Don’t even touch a pig’s carcass.

9-10 This is what you may eat from the water: anything that has fins and scales. But if it doesn’t have fins or scales, you may not eat it. It’s ritually unclean.

11-18 You may eat any ritually clean bird. These are the exceptions, so don’t eat these: eagle, vulture, black vulture, kite, falcon, the buzzard family, the raven family, ostrich, nighthawk, the hawk family, little owl, great owl, white owl, pelican, osprey, cormorant, stork, the heron family, hoopoe, bat.

19-20 Winged insects are ritually unclean; don’t eat them. But ritually clean winged creatures are permitted.

21 Because you are a people holy to God, your God, don’t eat anything that you find dead. You can, though, give it to a foreigner in your neighborhood for a meal or sell it to a foreigner.

Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

22-26 Make an offering of ten percent, a tithe, of all the produce which grows in your fields year after year. Bring this into the Presence of God, your God, at the place he designates for worship and there eat the tithe from your grain, wine, and oil and the firstborn from your herds and flocks. In this way you will learn to live in deep reverence before God, your God, as long as you live. But if the place God, your God, designates for worship is too far away and you can’t carry your tithe that far, God, your God, will still bless you: exchange your tithe for money and take the money to the place God, your God, has chosen to be worshiped. Use the money to buy anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, or beer—anything that looks good to you. You and your family can then feast in the Presence of God, your God, and have a good time.

27 Meanwhile, don’t forget to take good care of the Levites who live in your towns; they won’t get any property or inheritance of their own as you will.

28-29 At the end of every third year, gather the tithe from all your produce of that year and put it aside in storage. Keep it in reserve for the Levite who won’t get any property or inheritance as you will, and for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow who live in your neighborhood. That way they’ll have plenty to eat and God, your God, will bless you in all your work.

Deuteronomy 15

1-3 At the end of every seventh year, cancel all debts. This is the procedure: Everyone who has lent money to a neighbor writes it off. You must not press your neighbor or his brother for payment: All-Debts-Are-Canceled—God says so. You may collect payment from foreigners, but whatever you have lent to your fellow Israelite you must write off.

4-6 There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. Oh yes—God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won’t borrow from any; you’ll rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

7-9 When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that selfish voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin.

10-11 Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.

12-15 If a Hebrew man or Hebrew woman was sold to you and has served you for six years, in the seventh year you must set him or her free, released into a free life. And when you set them free don’t send them off empty-handed. Provide them with some animals, plenty of bread and wine and oil. Load them with provisions from all the blessings with which God, your God, has blessed you. Don’t for a minute forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and God, your God, redeemed you from that slave world.

For that reason, this day I command you to do this.

16-17 But if your slave, because he loves you and your family and has a good life with you, says, “I don’t want to leave you,” then take an awl and pierce through his earlobe into the doorpost, marking him as your slave forever. Do the same with your women slaves who want to stay with you.

18 Don’t consider this an unreasonable hardship, this setting your slave free. After all, he’s worked six years for you at half the cost of a hired hand.

Believe me, God, your God, will bless you in everything you do.

19-23 Consecrate to God, your God, all the firstborn males in your herds and flocks. Don’t use the firstborn from your herds as work animals; don’t shear the firstborn from your flocks. These are for you to eat every year, you and your family, in the Presence of God, your God, at the place that God designates for worship. If the animal is defective, lame, say, or blind—anything wrong with it—don’t slaughter it as a sacrifice to God, your God. Stay at home and eat it there. Both the ritually clean and unclean may eat it, the same as with a gazelle or a deer. Only you must not eat its blood. Pour the blood out on the ground like water.

Luke 8:40-9:6 (The Message)

His Touch

40-42On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him. A man came up, Jairus by name. He was president of the meeting place. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his home because his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, was dying. Jesus went with him, making his way through the pushing, jostling crowd.

43-45In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”

When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.”

46Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”

47When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.

48Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”

49While he was still talking, someone from the leader’s house came up and told him, “Your daughter died. No need now to bother the Teacher.”

50-51Jesus overheard and said, “Don’t be upset. Just trust me and everything will be all right.” Going into the house, he wouldn’t let anyone enter with him except Peter, John, James, and the child’s parents.

52-53Everyone was crying and carrying on over her. Jesus said, “Don’t cry. She didn’t die; she’s sleeping.” They laughed at him. They knew she was dead.

54-56Then Jesus, gripping her hand, called, “My dear child, get up.” She was up in an instant, up and breathing again! He told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were ecstatic, but Jesus warned them to keep quiet. “Don’t tell a soul what happened in this room.”

Luke 9

Keep It Simple

1-5Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, leave town. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on.”

6Commissioned, they left. They traveled from town to town telling the latest news of God, the Message, and curing people everywhere they went.

Psalm 71:1-24 (The Message)

Psalm 71

I run for dear life to God, I’ll never live to regret it.
Do what you do so well:
get me out of this mess and up on my feet.
Put your ear to the ground and listen,
give me space for salvation.
Be a guest room where I can retreat;
you said your door was always open!
You’re my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.

4-7 My God, free me from the grip of Wicked,
from the clutch of Bad and Bully.
You keep me going when times are tough—
my bedrock, God, since my childhood.
I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth,
the day you took me from the cradle;
I’ll never run out of praise.
Many gasp in alarm when they see me,
but you take me in stride.

8-11 Just as each day brims with your beauty,
my mouth brims with praise.
But don’t turn me out to pasture when I’m old
or put me on the shelf when I can’t pull my weight.
My enemies are talking behind my back,
watching for their chance to knife me.
The gossip is: “God has abandoned him.
Pounce on him now; no one will help him.”

12-16 God, don’t just watch from the sidelines.
Come on! Run to my side!
My accusers—make them lose face.
Those out to get me—make them look
Like idiots, while I stretch out, reaching for you,
and daily add praise to praise.
I’ll write the book on your righteousness,
talk up your salvation the livelong day,
never run out of good things to write or say.
I come in the power of the Lord God,
I post signs marking his right-of-way.

17-24 You got me when I was an unformed youth,
God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I’m telling the world your wonders;
I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.
God, don’t walk off and leave me
until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
news of your power to the world yet to come,
Your famous and righteous
ways, O God.
God, you’ve done it all!
Who is quite like you?
You, who made me stare trouble in the face,
Turn me around;
Now let me look life in the face.
I’ve been to the bottom;
Bring me up, streaming with honors;
turn to me, be tender to me,
And I’ll take up the lute and thank you
to the tune of your faithfulness, God.
I’ll make music for you on a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
When I open up in song to you,
I let out lungsful of praise,
my rescued life a song.
All day long I’m chanting
about you and your righteous ways,
While those who tried to do me in
slink off looking ashamed.

Proverbs 12:5-7 (The Message)

5 The thinking of principled people makes for justice;
the plots of degenerates corrupt.

6 The words of the wicked kill;
the speech of the upright saves.

7 Wicked people fall to pieces—there’s nothing to them;
the homes of good people hold together.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bible Readings for March 29, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 11:1–12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 12:4. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 11-12:32 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 11

1So love God, your God; guard well his rules and regulations; obey his commandments for the rest of time.
2-7 Today it's very clear that it isn't your children who are front and center here: They weren't in on what God did, didn't see the acts, didn't experience the discipline, didn't marvel at his greatness, the way he displayed his power in the miracle-signs and deeds that he let loose in Egypt on Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land, the way he took care of the Egyptian army, its horses and chariots, burying them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you. God drowned them. And you're standing here today alive. Nor was it your children who saw how God took care of you in the wilderness up until the time you arrived here, what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab son of Reuben, how the Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them with their families—their tents, and everything around them—right out of the middle of Israel. Yes, it was you—your eyes—that saw every great thing that God did.

8-9 So it's you who are in charge of keeping the entire commandment that I command you today so that you'll have the strength to invade and possess the land that you are crossing the river to make your own. Your obedience will give you a long life on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors and their children, a land flowing with milk and honey.

10-12 The land you are entering to take up ownership isn't like Egypt, the land you left, where you had to plant your own seed and water it yourselves as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are about to cross the river and take for your own is a land of mountains and valleys; it drinks water that rains from the sky. It's a land that God, your God, personally tends—he's the gardener—he alone keeps his eye on it all year long.

13-15 From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he'll take charge of sending the rain at the right time, both autumn and spring rains, so that you'll be able to harvest your grain, your grapes, your olives. He'll make sure there's plenty of grass for your animals. You'll have plenty to eat.

16-17 But be vigilant, lest you be seduced away and end up serving and worshiping other gods and God erupts in anger and shuts down Heaven so there's no rain and nothing grows in the fields, and in no time at all you're starved out—not a trace of you left on the good land that God is giving you.

18-21 Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you'll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

22-25 That's right. If you diligently keep all this commandment that I command you to obey—love God, your God, do what he tells you, stick close to him—God on his part will drive out all these nations that stand in your way. Yes, he'll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than you. Every square inch on which you place your foot will be yours. Your borders will stretch from the wilderness to the mountains of Lebanon, from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand in your way. Everywhere you go, God-sent fear and trembling will precede you, just as he promised.

26 I've brought you today to the crossroads of Blessing and Curse.

27 The Blessing: if you listen obediently to the commandments of God, your God, which I command you today.

28 The Curse: if you don't pay attention to the commandments of God, your God, but leave the road that I command you today, following other gods of which you know nothing.

29-30 Here's what comes next: When God, your God, brings you into the land you are going into to make your own, you are to give out the Blessing from Mount Gerizim and the Curse from Mount Ebal. After you cross the Jordan River, follow the road to the west through Canaanite settlements in the valley near Gilgal and the Oaks of Moreh.

31-32 You are crossing the Jordan River to invade and take the land that God, your God, is giving you. Be vigilant. Observe all the regulations and rules I am setting before you today.

Deuteronomy 12

1 These are the rules and regulations that you must diligently observe for as long as you live in this country that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, has given you to possess.

2-3 Ruthlessly demolish all the sacred shrines where the nations that you're driving out worship their gods—wherever you find them, on hills and mountains or in groves of green trees. Tear apart their altars. Smash their phallic pillars. Burn their sex-and-religion Asherah shrines. Break up their carved gods. Obliterate the names of those god sites.

4 Stay clear of those places—don't let what went on there contaminate the worship of God, your God.

5-7 Instead find the site that God, your God, will choose and mark it with his name as a common center for all the tribes of Israel. Assemble there. Bring to that place your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and Tribute-Offerings, your Vow-Offerings, your Freewill-Offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. Feast there in the Presence of God, your God. Celebrate everything that you and your families have accomplished under the blessing of God, your God.

8-10 Don't continue doing things the way we're doing them at present, each of us doing as we wish. Until now you haven't arrived at the goal, the resting place, the inheritance that God, your God, is giving you. But the minute you cross the Jordan River and settle into the land God, your God, is enabling you to inherit, he'll give you rest from all your surrounding enemies. You'll be able to settle down and live in safety.

11-12 From then on, at the place that God, your God, chooses to mark with his name as the place where you can meet him, bring everything that I command you: your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, tithes and Tribute-Offerings, and the best of your Vow-Offerings that you vow to God. Celebrate there in the Presence of God, your God, you and your sons and daughters, your servants and maids, including the Levite living in your neighborhood because he has no place of his own in your inheritance.

13-14 Be extra careful: Don't offer your Absolution-Offerings just any place that strikes your fancy. Offer your Absolution-Offerings only in the place that God chooses in one of your tribal regions. There and only there are you to bring all that I command you.

15 It's permissible to slaughter your nonsacrificial animals like gazelle and deer in your towns and eat all you want from them with the blessing of God, your God. Both the ritually clean and unclean may eat.

16-18 But you may not eat the blood. Pour the blood out on the ground like water. Nor may you eat there the tithe of your grain, new wine, or olive oil; nor the firstborn of your herds and flocks; nor any of the Vow-Offerings that you vow; nor your Freewill-Offerings and Tribute-Offerings. All these you must eat in the Presence of God, your God, in the place God, your God, chooses—you, your son and daughter, your servant and maid, and the Levite who lives in your neighborhood. You are to celebrate in the Presence of God, your God, all the things you've been able to accomplish.

19 And make sure that for as long as you live on your land you never, never neglect the Levite.

20-22 When God, your God, expands your territory as he promised he would do, and you say, "I'm hungry for meat," because you happen to be craving meat at the time, go ahead and eat as much meat as you want. If you're too far away from the place that God, your God, has marked with his name, it's all right to slaughter animals from your herds and flocks that God has given you, as I've commanded you. In your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. Just as the nonsacrificial animals like the gazelle and deer are eaten, you may eat them; the ritually unclean and clean may eat them at the same table.

23-25 Only this: Absolutely no blood. Don't eat the blood. Blood is life; don't eat the life with the meat. Don't eat it; pour it out on the ground like water. Don't eat it; then you'll have a good life, you and your children after you. By all means, do the right thing in God's eyes.

26-27 And this: Lift high your Holy-Offerings and your Vow-Offerings and bring them to the place God designates. Sacrifice your Absolution-Offerings, the meat and blood, on the Altar of God, your God; pour out the blood of the Absolution-Offering on the Altar of God, your God; then you can go ahead and eat the meat.

28 Be vigilant, listen obediently to these words that I command you so that you'll have a good life, you and your children, for a long, long time, doing what is good and right in the eyes of God, your God.

29-31 When God, your God, cuts off the nations whose land you are invading, shoves them out of your way so that you displace them and settle in their land, be careful that you don't get curious about them after they've been destroyed before you. Don't get fascinated with their gods, thinking, "I wonder what it was like for them, worshiping their gods. I'd like to try that myself." Don't do this to God, your God. They commit every imaginable abomination with their gods. God hates it all with a passion. Why, they even set their children on fire as offerings to their gods!

32 Diligently do everything I command you, the way I command you: don't add to it; don't subtract from it.

Luke 8:22-39 (The Message)

22-24One day he and his disciples got in a boat. "Let's cross the lake," he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

Getting to his feet, he told the wind, "Silence!" and the waves, "Quiet down!" They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.

25Then he said to his disciples, "Why can't you trust me?"

They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, "Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!"

The Madman and the Pigs

26-29They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. As he stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn't worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. When he saw Jesus he screamed, fell before him, and bellowed, "What business do you have messing with me? You're Jesus, Son of the High God, but don't give me a hard time!" (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.

30-31Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"Mob. My name is Mob," he said, because many demons afflicted him. And they begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit.

32-33A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned.

34-36Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved.

37-39Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave—too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him.

Psalm 70:1-5 (The Message)

Psalm 70

A David Prayer

1-3 God! Please hurry to my rescue! God, come quickly to my side!
Those who are out to get me—
let them fall all over themselves.
Those who relish my downfall—
send them down a blind alley.
Give them a taste of their own medicine,
those gossips off clucking their tongues.

4 Let those on the hunt for you
sing and celebrate.
Let all who love your saving way
say over and over, "God is mighty!"

5 But I've lost it. I'm wasted.
God—quickly, quickly!
Quick to my side, quick to my rescue!
God, don't lose a minute.

Proverbs 12:4 (The Message)

4 A hearty wife invigorates her husband,
but a frigid woman is cancer in the bones.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bible Readings for March 28, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22; Luke 8:4-21; Psalm 69:19-36; and Proverbs 12:2-3. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 9-10:22 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 9

1-2 Attention, Israel! This very day you are crossing the Jordan to enter the land and dispossess nations that are much bigger and stronger than you are. You’re going to find huge cities with sky-high fortress-walls and gigantic people, descendants of the Anakites—you’ve heard all about them; you’ve heard the saying, “No one can stand up to an Anakite.”

3 Today know this: God, your God, is crossing the river ahead of you—he’s a consuming fire. He will destroy the nations, he will put them under your power. You will dispossess them and very quickly wipe them out, just as God promised you would.

4-5 But when God pushes them out ahead of you, don’t start thinking to yourselves, “It’s because of all the good I’ve done that God has brought me in here to dispossess these nations.” Actually it’s because of all the evil these nations have done. No, it’s nothing good that you’ve done, no record for decency that you’ve built up, that got you here; it’s because of the vile wickedness of these nations that God, your God, is dispossessing them before you so that he can keep his promised word to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

6-10 Know this and don’t ever forget it: It’s not because of any good that you’ve done that God is giving you this good land to own. Anything but! You’re stubborn as mules. Keep in mind and don’t ever forget how angry you made God, your God, in the wilderness. You’ve kicked and screamed against God from the day you left Egypt until you got to this place, rebels all the way. You made God angry at Horeb, made him so angry that he wanted to destroy you. When I climbed the mountain to receive the slabs of stone, the tablets of the covenant that God made with you, I stayed there on the mountain forty days and nights: I ate no food; I drank no water. Then God gave me the two slabs of stone, engraved with the finger of God. They contained word for word everything that God spoke to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly.

11-12 It was at the end of the forty days and nights that God gave me the two slabs of stone, the tablets of the covenant. God said to me, “Get going, and quickly. Get down there, because your people whom you led out of Egypt have ruined everything. In almost no time at all they have left the road that I laid out for them and gone off and made for themselves a cast god.”

13-14 God said, “I look at this people and all I see are hardheaded, hardhearted rebels. Get out of my way now so I can destroy them. I’m going to wipe them off the face of the map. Then I’ll start over with you to make a nation far better and bigger than they could ever be.”

15-17 I turned around and started down the mountain—by now the mountain was blazing with fire—carrying the two tablets of the covenant in my two arms. That’s when I saw it: There you were, sinning against God, your God—you had made yourselves a cast god in the shape of a calf! So soon you had left the road that God had commanded you to walk on. I held the two stone slabs high and threw them down, smashing them to bits as you watched.

18-20 Then I prostrated myself before God, just as I had at the beginning of the forty days and nights. I ate no food; I drank no water. I did this because of you, all your sins, sinning against God, doing what is evil in God’s eyes and making him angry. I was terrified of God’s furious anger, his blazing anger. I was sure he would destroy you. But once again God listened to me. And Aaron! How furious he was with Aaron—ready to destroy him. But I prayed also for Aaron at that same time.

21 But that sin-thing that you made, that calf-god, I took and burned in the fire, pounded and ground it until it was crushed into a fine powder, then threw it into the stream that comes down the mountain.

22 And then there was Camp Taberah (Blaze), Massah (Testing-Place), and Camp Kibroth Hattaavah (Graves-of-the-Craving)—more occasions when you made God furious with you.

23-24 The most recent was when God sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, ordering you: “Go. Possess the land that I’m giving you.” And what did you do? You rebelled. Rebelled against the clear orders of God, your God. Refused to trust him. Wouldn’t obey him. You’ve been rebels against God from the first day I knew you.

25-26 When I was on my face, prostrate before God those forty days and nights after God said he would destroy you, I prayed to God for you, “My Master, God, don’t destroy your people, your inheritance whom, in your immense generosity, you redeemed, using your enormous strength to get them out of Egypt.

27-28 “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; don’t make too much of the stubbornness of this people, their evil and their sin, lest the Egyptians from whom you rescued them say, ‘God couldn’t do it; he got tired and wasn’t able to take them to the land he promised them. He ended up hating them and dumped them in the wilderness to die.’

29 “They are your people still, your inheritance whom you powerfully and sovereignly rescued.”

Deuteronomy 10

1-2 God responded. He said, “Shape two slabs of stone similar to the first ones. Climb the mountain and meet me. Also make yourself a wooden chest. I will engrave the stone slabs with the words that were on the first ones, the ones you smashed. Then you will put them in the Chest.”

3-5 So I made a chest out of acacia wood, shaped two slabs of stone, just like the first ones, and climbed the mountain with the two slabs in my arms. He engraved the stone slabs the same as he had the first ones, the Ten Words that he addressed to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly. Then God gave them to me. I turned around and came down the mountain. I put the stone slabs in the Chest that I made and they’ve been there ever since, just as God commanded me.

6-7 The People of Israel went from the wells of the Jaakanites to Moserah. Aaron died there and was buried. His son Eleazar succeeded him as priest. From there they went to Gudgodah, and then to Jotbathah, a land of streams of water.

8-9 That’s when God set apart the tribe of Levi to carry God’s Covenant Chest, to be on duty in the Presence of God, to serve him, and to bless in his name, as they continue to do today. And that’s why Levites don’t have a piece of inherited land as their kinsmen do. God is their inheritance, as God, your God, promised them.

10 I stayed there on the mountain forty days and nights, just as I did the first time. And God listened to me, just as he did the first time: God decided not to destroy you.

11 God told me, “Now get going. Lead your people as they resume the journey to take possession of the land that I promised their ancestors that I’d give to them.”

12-13 So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today—live a good life.

14-18 Look around you: Everything you see is God’s—the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in love with; he picked their children—that’s you!—out of all the other peoples. That’s where we are right now. So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.

19-21 You must treat foreigners with the same loving care—
remember, you were once foreigners in Egypt.
Reverently respect God, your God, serve him, hold tight to him,
back up your promises with the authority of his name.
He’s your praise! He’s your God!
He did all these tremendous, these staggering things
that you saw with your own eyes.

22 When your ancestors entered Egypt, they numbered a mere seventy souls. And now look at you—you look more like the stars in the night skies in number. And your God did it.

Luke 8:4-21 (The Message)

The Story of the Seeds

4-8As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and traveled along. He addressed them, using this story: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn’t have good roots. Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

9His disciples asked, “Why did you tell this story?”

10He said, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. There are others who need stories. But even with stories some of them aren’t going to get it:

Their eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Their ears are open but don’t hear a thing.

11-12"This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved.

13"The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep. It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone.

14"And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.

15"But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.

Misers of What You Hear

16-18"No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. We’re not hiding things; we’re bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don’t become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”

19-20His mother and brothers showed up but couldn’t get through to him because of the crowd. He was given the message, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to see you.”

21He replied, “My mother and brothers are the ones who hear and do God’s Word. Obedience is thicker than blood.”

Psalm 69:19-36 (The Message)

19 You know how they kick me around—
Pin on me the donkey’s ears, the dunce’s cap.

20 I’m broken by their taunts,
Flat on my face, reduced to a nothing.

I looked in vain for one friendly face. Not one.
I couldn’t find one shoulder to cry on.

21 They put poison in my soup,
Vinegar in my drink.

22 Let their supper be bait in a trap that snaps shut;
May their best friends be trappers who’ll skin them alive.

23 Make them become blind as bats,
Give them the shakes from morning to night.

24 Let them know what you think of them,
Blast them with your red-hot anger.

25 Burn down their houses,
Leave them desolate with nobody at home.

26 They gossiped about the one you disciplined,
Made up stories about anyone wounded by God.

27 Pile on the guilt,
Don’t let them off the hook.

28 Strike their names from the list of the living;
No rock-carved honor for them among the righteous.

29 I’m hurt and in pain;
Give me space for healing, and mountain air.

30 Let me shout God’s name with a praising song,
Let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks.

31 For God, this is better than oxen on the altar,
Far better than blue-ribbon bulls.

32 The poor in spirit see and are glad—
Oh, you God-seekers, take heart!

33 For God listens to the poor,
He doesn’t walk out on the wretched.

34 You heavens, praise him; praise him, earth;
Also ocean and all things that swim in it.

35 For God is out to help Zion,
Rebuilding the wrecked towns of Judah.

Guess who will live there—
The proud owners of the land?

36 No, the children of his servants will get it,
The lovers of his name will live in it.

Proverbs 12:2-3 (The Message)

2 A good person basks in the delight of God,
and he wants nothing to do with devious schemers.

3 You can’t find firm footing in a swamp,
but life rooted in God stands firm.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bible Readings for March 26, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 5:1–6:25; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 68:19-35; and Proverbs 11:29-31. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 5-6:25 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 5

Moses Teaches Israel on the Plains of Moab

1 Moses called all Israel together. He said to them, Attention, Israel. Listen obediently to the rules and regulations I am delivering to your listening ears today. Learn them. Live them.

2-5 God, our God, made a covenant with us at Horeb. God didn't just make this covenant with our parents; he made it also with us, with all of us who are alive right now. God spoke to you personally out of the fire on the mountain. At the time I stood between God and you, to tell you what God said. You were afraid, remember, of the fire and wouldn't climb the mountain. He said:

6 I am God, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of a house of slaves.

7 No other gods, only me.

8-10 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don't bow down to them and don't serve them because I am God, your God, and I'm a most jealous God. I hold parents responsible for any sins they pass on to their children to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation. But I'm lovingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

11 No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won't put up with the irreverent use of his name.

12-15 No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as God, your God, commanded you. Work six days, doing everything you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day—no work: not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town. That way your servants and maids will get the same rest as you. Don't ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength. That's why God, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest.

16 Respect your father and mother—God, your God, commands it! You'll have a long life; the land that God is giving you will treat you well.
17 No murder.
18 No adultery.
19 No stealing.
20 No lies about your neighbor.
21 No coveting your neighbor's wife. And no lusting for his house, field, servant, maid, ox, or donkey either—nothing that belongs to your neighbor!

22 These are the words that God spoke to the whole congregation at the mountain. He spoke in a tremendous voice from the fire and cloud and dark mist. And that was it. No more words. Then he wrote them on two slabs of stone and gave them to me.

23-24 As it turned out, when you heard the Voice out of that dark cloud and saw the mountain on fire, you approached me, all the heads of your tribes and your leaders, and said,

24-26 "Our God has revealed to us his glory and greatness. We've heard him speak from the fire today! We've seen that God can speak to humans and they can still live. But why risk it further? This huge fire will devour us if we stay around any longer. If we hear God's voice anymore, we'll die for sure. Has anyone ever known of anyone who has heard the Voice of God the way we have and lived to tell the story?

27 "From now on, you go and listen to what God, our God, says and then tell us what God tells you. We'll listen and we'll do it."

28-29 God heard what you said to me and told me, "I've heard what the people said to you. They're right—good and true words. What I wouldn't give if they'd always feel this way, continuing to revere me and always keep all my commands; they'd have a good life forever, they and their children!

30-31 "Go ahead and tell them to go home to their tents. But you, you stay here with me so I can tell you every commandment and all the rules and regulations that you must teach them so they'll know how to live in the land that I'm giving them as their own."

32-33 So be very careful to act exactly as God commands you. Don't veer off to the right or the left. Walk straight down the road God commands so that you'll have a good life and live a long time in the land that you're about to possess.

Deuteronomy 6

1-2 This is the commandment, the rules and regulations, that God, your God, commanded me to teach you to live out in the land you're about to cross into to possess. This is so that you'll live in deep reverence before God lifelong, observing all his rules and regulations that I'm commanding you, you and your children and your grandchildren, living good long lives.

3 Listen obediently, Israel. Do what you're told so that you'll have a good life, a life of abundance and bounty, just as God promised, in a land abounding in milk and honey.

4 Attention, Israel!

God, our God! God the one and only!

5 Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!

6-9 Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you're going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn't build, well-furnished houses you didn't buy, come upon wells you didn't dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn't plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don't forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.

13-19 Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively. Back up your promises with his name only. Don't fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors, because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God. Don't provoke him, igniting his hot anger that would burn you right off the face of the Earth. Don't push God, your God, to the wall as you did that day at Massah, the Testing-Place. Carefully keep the commands of God, your God, all the requirements and regulations he gave you. Do what is right; do what is good in God's sight so you'll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that God so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right—exactly as God said.

20-24 The next time your child asks you, "What do these requirements and regulations and rules that God, our God, has commanded mean?" tell your child, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and God powerfully intervened and got us out of that country. We stood there and watched as God delivered miracle-signs, great wonders, and evil-visitations on Egypt, on Pharaoh and his household. He pulled us out of there so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors. That's why God commanded us to follow all these rules, so that we would live reverently before God, our God, as he gives us this good life, keeping us alive for a long time to come.

25 "It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do."

Luke 7:11-35 (The Message)

11-15Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman's only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, "Don't cry." Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, "Young man, I tell you: Get up." The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.

16-17They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, "God is back, looking to the needs of his people!" The news of Jesus spread all through the country.

Is This What You Were Expecting?

18-19John's disciples reported back to him the news of all these events taking place. He sent two of them to the Master to ask the question, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?"

20The men showed up before Jesus and said, "John the Baptizer sent us to ask you, 'Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?'"

21-23In the next two or three hours Jesus healed many from diseases, distress, and evil spirits. To many of the blind he gave the gift of sight. Then he gave his answer: "Go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth
have God's salvation hospitality extended to them.
"Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!"

24-27After John's messengers left to make their report, Jesus said more about John to the crowd of people. "What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A messenger from God? That's right, a messenger! Probably the greatest messenger you'll ever hear. He is the messenger Malachi announced when he wrote,

I'm sending my messenger on ahead
To make the road smooth for you.

28-30"Let me lay it out for you as plainly as I can: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer, but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. The ordinary and disreputable people who heard John, by being baptized by him into the kingdom, are the clearest evidence; the Pharisees and religious officials would have nothing to do with such a baptism, wouldn't think of giving up their place in line to their inferiors.

31-35"How can I account for the people of this generation? They're like spoiled children complaining to their parents, 'We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.' John the Baptizer came fasting and you called him crazy. The Son of Man came feasting and you called him a lush. Opinion polls don't count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Psalm 68:19-35 (The Message)

19-23 Blessed be the Lord—
day after day he carries us along.
He's our Savior, our God, oh yes!
He's God-for-us, he's God-who-saves-us.
Lord God knows all
death's ins and outs.
What's more, he made heads roll,
split the skulls of the enemy
As he marched out of heaven,
saying, "I tied up the Dragon in knots,
put a muzzle on the Deep Blue Sea."
You can wade through your enemies' blood,
and your dogs taste of your enemies from your boots.

24-31 See God on parade
to the sanctuary, my God,
my King on the march!
Singers out front, the band behind,
maidens in the middle with castanets.
The whole choir blesses God.
Like a fountain of praise, Israel blesses God.
Look—little Benjamin's out
front and leading
Princes of Judah in their royal robes,
princes of Zebulon, princes of Naphtali.
Parade your power, O God,
the power, O God, that made us what we are.
Your temple, High God, is Jerusalem;
kings bring gifts to you.
Rebuke that old crocodile, Egypt,
with her herd of wild bulls and calves,
Rapacious in her lust for silver,
crushing peoples, spoiling for a fight.
Let Egyptian traders bring blue cloth
and Cush come running to God, her hands outstretched.

32-34 Sing, O kings of the earth!
Sing praises to the Lord!
There he is: Sky-Rider,
striding the ancient skies.
Listen—he's calling in thunder,
rumbling, rolling thunder.
Call out "Bravo!" to God,
the High God of Israel.
His splendor and strength
rise huge as thunderheads.

35 A terrible beauty, O God,
streams from your sanctuary.
It's Israel's strong God! He gives
power and might to his people!
O you, his people—bless God!

Proverbs 11:29-31 (The Message)

29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air;
common sense tells you it's a stupid way to live.

30 A good life is a fruit-bearing tree;
a violent life destroys souls.

31 If good people barely make it,
what's in store for the bad!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bible Readings for March 25, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 4:1-49; Luke 6:39–7:10; Psalm 68:1-18; and Proverbs 11:28. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 4:1-49 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 4

1-2 Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don’t add a word to what I command you, and don’t remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you.

3-4 You saw with your own eyes what God did at Baal Peor, how God destroyed from among you every man who joined in the Baal Peor orgies. But you, the ones who held tight to God, your God, are alive and well, every one of you, today.

5-6 Pay attention: I’m teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what’s going on, they’ll say, “What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We’ve never seen anything like it.”

7-8 Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I’m setting before you today?

9 Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.

10 That day when you stood before God, your God, at Horeb, God said to me, “Assemble the people in my presence to listen to my words so that they will learn to fear me in holy fear for as long as they live on the land, and then they will teach these same words to their children.”

11-13 You gathered. You stood in the shadow of the mountain. The mountain was ablaze with fire, blazing high into the very heart of Heaven. You stood in deep darkness and thick clouds. God spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but you saw nothing—no form, only a voice. He announced his covenant, the Ten Words, by which he commanded you to live. Then he wrote them down on two slabs of stone.

14 And God commanded me at that time to teach you the rules and regulations that you are to live by in the land which you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.

15-20 You saw no form on the day God spoke to you at Horeb from out of the fire. Remember that. Carefully guard yourselves so that you don’t turn corrupt and make a form, carving a figure that looks male or female, or looks like a prowling animal or a flying bird or a slithering snake or a fish in a stream. And also carefully guard yourselves so that you don’t look up into the skies and see the sun and moon and stars, all the constellations of the skies, and be seduced into worshiping and serving them. God set them out for everybody’s benefit, everywhere. But you—God took you right out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to become the people of his inheritance—and that’s what you are this very day.

21-22 But God was angry with me because of you and the things you said. He swore that I’d never cross the Jordan, never get to enter the good land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance. This means that I am going to die here. I’m not crossing the Jordan. But you will cross; you’ll possess the good land.

23-24 So stay alert. Don’t for a minute forget the covenant which God, your God, made with you. And don’t take up with any carved images, no forms of any kind—God, your God, issued clear commands on that. God, your God, is not to be trifled with—he’s a consuming fire, a jealous God.

25-28 When the time comes that you have children and grandchildren, put on years, and start taking things for granted, if you then become corrupt and make any carved images, no matter what their form, by doing what is sheer evil in God’s eyes and provoking his anger—I can tell you right now, with Heaven and Earth as witnesses, that it will be all over for you. You’ll be kicked off the land that you’re about to cross over the Jordan to possess. Believe me, you’ll have a very short stay there. You’ll be ruined, completely ruined. God will scatter you far and wide; a few of you will survive here and there in the nations where God will drive you. There you can worship your homemade gods to your hearts’ content, your wonderful gods of wood and stone that can’t see or hear or eat or smell.

29-31 But even there, if you seek God, your God, you’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin, he won’t forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them.

32-33 Ask questions. Find out what has been going on all these years before you were born. From the day God created man and woman on this Earth, and from the horizon in the east to the horizon in the west—as far back as you can imagine and as far away as you can imagine—has as great a thing as this ever happened? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? Has a people ever heard, as you did, a god speaking out of the middle of the fire and lived to tell the story?

34 Or has a god ever tried to select for himself a nation from within a nation using trials, miracles, and war, putting his strong hand in, reaching his long arm out, a spectacle awesome and staggering, the way God, your God, did it for you in Egypt while you stood right there and watched?

35-38 You were shown all this so that you would know that God is, well, God. He’s the only God there is. He’s it. He made it possible for you to hear his voice out of Heaven to discipline you. Down on Earth, he showed you the big fire and again you heard his words, this time out of the fire. He loved your ancestors and chose to work with their children. He personally and powerfully brought you out of Egypt in order to displace bigger and stronger and older nations with you, bringing you out and turning their land over to you as an inheritance. And now it’s happening. This very day.

39-40 Know this well, then. Take it to heart right now: God is in Heaven above; God is on Earth below. He’s the only God there is. Obediently live by his rules and commands which I’m giving you today so that you’ll live well and your children after you—oh, you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

41-42 Then Moses set aside three towns in the country on the east side of the Jordan to which someone who had unintentionally killed a person could flee and find refuge. If the murder was unintentional and there was no history of bad blood, the murderer could flee to one of these cities and save his life:

43 Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.

44-49 This is the Revelation that Moses presented to the People of Israel. These are the testimonies, the rules and regulations Moses spoke to the People of Israel after their exodus from Egypt and arrival on the east side of the Jordan in the valley near Beth Peor. It was the country of Sihon king of the Amorites who ruled from Heshbon. Moses and the People of Israel fought and beat him after they left Egypt and took his land. They also took the land of Og king of Bashan. The two Amorite kings held the country on the east of the Jordan from Aroer on the bank of the Brook Arnon as far north as Mount Siyon, that is, Mount Hermon, all the Arabah plain east of the Jordan, and as far south as the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) beneath the slopes of Mount Pisgah.

Luke 6:39-7:10 (The Message)

39-40He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.

41-42"It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Work the Words into Your Life

43-45"You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

46-47"Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

48-49"If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

Luke 7

A Place of Holy Mystery

1-5When he finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. A Roman captain there had a servant who was on his deathbed. He prized him highly and didn’t want to lose him. When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and urged him to do it, saying, “He deserves this. He loves our people. He even built our meeting place.”

6-8Jesus went with them. When he was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell him, “Master, you don’t have to go to all this trouble. I’m not that good a person, you know. I’d be embarrassed for you to come to my house, even embarrassed to come to you in person. Just give the order and my servant will get well. I’m a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9-10Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.” When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well.

Psalm 68:1-18 (The Message)

Psalm 68

A David Psalm

1-4 Up with God! Down with his enemies!
Adversaries, run for the hills!
Gone like a puff of smoke,
like a blob of wax in the fire—
one look at God and the wicked vanish.
When the righteous see God in action
they’ll laugh, they’ll sing,
they’ll laugh and sing for joy.
Sing hymns to God;
all heaven, sing out;
clear the way for the coming of Cloud-Rider.
Enjoy God,
cheer when you see him!

5-6 Father of orphans,
champion of widows,
is God in his holy house.
God makes homes for the homeless,
leads prisoners to freedom,
but leaves rebels to rot in hell.

7-10 God, when you took the lead with your people,
when you marched out into the wild,
Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat;
God was on the march.
Even Sinai trembled at the sight of God on the move,
at the sight of Israel’s God.
You pour out rain in buckets, O God;
thorn and cactus become an oasis
For your people to camp in and enjoy.
You set them up in business;
they went from rags to riches.

11-14 The Lord gave the word;
thousands called out the good news:
“Kings of the armies
are on the run, on the run!”
While housewives, safe and sound back home,
divide up the plunder,
the plunder of Canaanite silver and gold.
On that day that Shaddai scattered the kings,
snow fell on Black Mountain.

15-16 You huge mountains, Bashan mountains,
mighty mountains, dragon mountains.
All you mountains not chosen,
sulk now, and feel sorry for yourselves,
For this is the mountain God has chosen to live on;
he’ll rule from this mountain forever.

17-18 The chariots of God, twice ten thousand,
and thousands more besides,
The Lord in the lead, riding down Sinai—
straight to the Holy Place!
You climbed to the High Place, captives in tow,
your arms full of booty from rebels,
And now you sit there in state,
God, sovereign God!

Proverbs 11:28 (The Message)

28 A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bible Readings for March 24, 2012

Today our passages are Deuteronomy 2:1–3:29; Luke 6:12-38; Psalm 67:1-7; and Proverbs 11:27. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Deuteronomy 2-3:29 (The Message)

Deuteronomy 2

1 Then we turned around and went back into the wilderness following the route to the Red Sea, as God had instructed me. We worked our way in and around the hills of Seir for a long, long time.

2-6 Then God said, “You’ve been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go north. Command the people, You’re about to cut through the land belonging to your relatives, the People of Esau who settled in Seir. They are terrified of you, but restrain yourselves. Don’t try and start a fight. I am not giving you so much as a square inch of their land. I’ve already given all the hill country of Seir to Esau—he owns it all. Pay them up front for any food or water you get from them.”

7 God, your God, has blessed you in everything you have done. He has guarded you in your travels through this immense wilderness. For forty years now, God, your God, has been right here with you. You haven’t lacked one thing.

8 So we detoured around our brothers, the People of Esau who live in Seir, avoiding the Arabah Road that comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber; instead we used the road through the Wilderness of Moab.

9 God told me, “And don’t try to pick a fight with the Moabites. I am not giving you any of their land. I’ve given ownership of Ar to the People of Lot.”

10-12 The Emites (Monsters) used to live there—mobs of hulking giants, like Anakites. Along with the Anakites they were lumped in with the Rephaites (Ghosts) but in Moab they were called Emites. Horites also used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau took over and destroyed them, the same as Israel did in the land God gave them to possess.

13 God said, “It’s time now to cross the Brook Zered.” So we crossed the Brook Zered.

14-15 It took us thirty-eight years to get from Kadesh Barnea to the Brook Zered. That’s how long it took for the entire generation of soldiers from the camp to die off, as God had sworn they would. God was relentless against them until the last one was gone from the camp.

16-23 When the last of these soldiers had died, God said to me, “This is the day you cut across the territory of Moab, at Ar. When you approach the People of Ammon, don’t try and pick a fight with them because I’m not giving you any of the land of the People of Ammon for yourselves—I’ve already given it to the People of Lot.” It is also considered to have once been the land of the Rephaites. Rephaites lived there long ago—the Ammonites called them Zamzummites (Barbarians)—huge mobs of them, giants like the Anakites. God destroyed them and the Ammonites moved in and took over. It was the same with the People of Esau who live in Seir—God got rid of the Horites who lived there earlier and they moved in and took over, as you can see. Regarding the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites who came from Caphtor (Crete) wiped them out and moved in.

24-25 “On your feet now. Get started. Cross the Brook Arnon. Look: Here’s Sihon the Amorite king of Heshbon and his land. I’m handing it over to you—it’s all yours. Go ahead, take it. Go to war with him. Before the day is out, I’ll make sure that all the people around here are thoroughly terrified. Rumors of you are going to spread like wildfire; they’ll totally panic.”

26-28 From the Wilderness of Kedemoth, I sent messengers to Sihon, king of Heshbon. They carried a friendly message: “Let me cross through your land on the highway. I’ll stay right on the highway; I won’t trespass right or left. I’ll pay you for any food or water we might need. Let me walk through.

29 “The People of Esau who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did this, helping me on my way until I can cross the Jordan and enter the land that God, our God, is giving us.”

30 But Sihon king of Heshbon wouldn’t let us cross his land. God, your God, turned his spirit mean and his heart hard so he could hand him over to you, as you can see that he has done.

31 Then God said to me, “Look, I’ve got the ball rolling—Sihon and his land are soon yours. Go ahead. Take it. It’s practically yours!”

32-36 So Sihon and his entire army confronted us in battle at Jahaz. God handed him, his sons, and his entire army over to us and we utterly crushed them. While we were at it we captured all his towns and totally destroyed them, a holy destruction—men, women, and children. No survivors. We took the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured and carried them off for ourselves. From Aroer on the edge of the Brook Arnon and the town in the gorge, as far as Gilead, not a single town proved too much for us; God, our God, gave every last one of them to us.

37 The only land you didn’t take, obeying God’s command, was the land of the People of Ammon, the land along the Jabbok and around the cities in the hills.

Deuteronomy 3

1 Then we turned north and took the road to Bashan. Og king of Bashan, he and all his people, came out to meet us in battle at Edrei.

2 God said to me, “Don’t be afraid of him; I’m turning him over to you, along with his whole army and his land. Treat him the way you treated Sihon king of the Amorites who ruled from Heshbon.” 3-7 So God, our God, also handed Og king of Bashan over to us—Og and all his people—and we utterly crushed them. Again, no survivors. At the same time we took all his cities. There wasn’t one of the sixty cities that we didn’t take—the whole region of Argob, Og’s kingdom in Bashan. All these cities were fortress cities with high walls and barred gates. There were also numerous unwalled villages. We totally destroyed them—a holy destruction. It was the same treatment we gave to Sihon king of Heshbon, a holy destruction of every city, man, woman, and child. But all the livestock and plunder from the cities we took for ourselves.

8-10 Throughout that time we took the land from under the control of the two kings of the Amorites who ruled the country east of the Jordan, all the way from the Brook Arnon to Mount Hermon. (Sirion is the name given Hermon by the Sidonians; the Amorites call it Senir.) We took all the towns of the plateau, everything in Gilead, everything in Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, the border towns of Bashan, Og’s kingdom.

11 Og king of Bashan was the last remaining Rephaite. His bed, made of iron, was over thirteen feet long and six wide. You can still see it on display in Rabbah of the People of Ammon.

12 Of the land that we possessed at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer along the Brook Arnon and half the hill country of Gilead with its towns.

13 I gave the half-tribe of Manasseh the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan, Og’s kingdom—all the region of Argob, which takes in all of Bashan. This used to be known as the Land of the Rephaites.

14 Jair, a son of Manasseh, got the region of Argob to the borders of the Geshurites and Maacathites. He named the Bashan villages after himself, Havvoth Jair (Jair’s Tent-Villages). They’re still called that.

15 I gave Gilead to Makir.

16-17 I gave the Reubenites and Gadites the land from Gilead down to the Brook Arnon, whose middle was the boundary, and as far as the Jabbok River, the boundary line of the People of Ammon. The western boundary was the Jordan River in the Arabah all the way from the Kinnereth (the Sea of Galilee) to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea or Dead Sea) at the base of the slopes of Mount Pisgah on the east.

18-20 I commanded you at that time, “God, your God, has given you this land to possess. Your men, fit and armed for the fight, are to cross the river in advance of their brothers, the People of Israel. Only your wives, children, and livestock (I know you have much livestock) may go ahead and settle down in the towns I have already given you until God secures living space for your brothers as he has for you and they have taken possession of the country west of the Jordan that God, your God, is giving them. After that, each man may return to the land I’ve given you here.”

21-22 I commanded Joshua at that time, “You’ve seen with your own two eyes everything God, your God, has done to these two kings. God is going to do the same thing to all the kingdoms over there across the river where you’re headed. Don’t be afraid of them. God, your God—he’s fighting for you.”

23-25 At that same time, I begged God: “God, my Master, you let me in on the beginnings, you let me see your greatness, you let me see your might—what god in Heaven or Earth can do anything like what you’ve done! Please, let me in also on the endings, let me cross the river and see the good land over the Jordan, the lush hills, the Lebanon mountains.”

26-27 But God was still angry with me because of you. He wouldn’t listen. He said, “Enough of that. Not another word from you on this. Climb to the top of Mount Pisgah and look around: look west, north, south, east. Take in the land with your own eyes. Take a good look because you’re not going to cross this Jordan.

28 “Then command Joshua: Give him courage. Give him strength. Single-handed he will lead this people across the river. Single-handed he’ll cause them to inherit the land at which you can only look.”

29 That’s why we have stayed in this valley near Beth Peor.

Luke 6:12-38 (The Message)

The Twelve Apostles

12-16At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God. The next day he summoned his disciples; from them he selected twelve he designated as apostles:

Simon, whom he named Peter,
Andrew, his brother,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Simon, called the Zealot,
Judas, son of James,
Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
You’re Blessed

17-21Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:

You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.

You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.

22-23"Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.

Give Away Your Life

24But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
25And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.

And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.

26"There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.

27-30"To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

31-34"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

37-38"Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Psalm 67:1-7 (The Message)

Psalm 67

God, mark us with grace and blessing! Smile!
The whole country will see how you work,
all the godless nations see how you save.
God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
Let all far-flung people become happy
and shout their happiness because
You judge them fair and square,
you tend the far-flung peoples.
God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
Earth, display your exuberance!
You mark us with blessing, O God, our God.
You mark us with blessing, O God.
Earth’s four corners—honor him!

Proverbs 11:27 (The Message)

27 The one who seeks good finds delight;
the student of evil becomes evil.