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.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bible Readings for October 31, 2012


Today our passages are Lamentations 4:1–5:22; Hebrews 2:1-18; Psalm 103:1-22; and Proverbs 26:23. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
 

Lamentations 4-5:22 (The Message)

Lamentations 4

Waking Up with Nothing
 1 Oh, oh, oh...
How gold is treated like dirt,
   the finest gold thrown out with the garbage,
Priceless jewels scattered all over,
   jewels loose in the gutters.  2And the people of Zion, once prized,
   far surpassing their weight in gold,
Are now treated like cheap pottery,
   like everyday pots and bowls mass-produced by a potter.
 3Even wild jackals nurture their babies,
   give them their breasts to suckle.
But my people have turned cruel to their babies,
   like an ostrich in the wilderness.
 4Babies have nothing to drink.
   Their tongues stick to the roofs of their mouths.
Little children ask for bread
   but no one gives them so much as a crust.
 5People used to the finest cuisine
   forage for food in the streets.
People used to the latest in fashions
   pick through the trash for something to wear.
 6The evil guilt of my dear people
   was worse than the sin of Sodom—
The city was destroyed in a flash,
   and no one around to help.
 7The splendid and sacred nobles
   once glowed with health.
Their bodies were robust and ruddy,
   their beards like carved stone.
 8But now they are smeared with soot,
   unrecognizable in the street,
Their bones sticking out,
   their skin dried out like old leather.
 9Better to have been killed in battle
   than killed by starvation.
Better to have died of battle wounds
   than to slowly starve to death.
 10Nice and kindly women
   boiled their own children for supper.
This was the only food in town
   when my dear people were broken.
 11God let all his anger loose, held nothing back.
   He poured out his raging wrath.
He set a fire in Zion
   that burned it to the ground.
 12The kings of the earth couldn't believe it.
   World rulers were in shock,
Watching old enemies march in big as you please,
   right through Jerusalem's gates.
 13Because of the sins of her prophets
   and the evil of her priests,
Who exploited good and trusting people,
   robbing them of their lives,
 14These prophets and priests blindly grope their way through the streets,
   grimy and stained from their dirty lives,
Wasted by their wasted lives,
   shuffling from fatigue, dressed in rags.
 15People yell at them, "Get out of here, dirty old men!
   Get lost, don't touch us, don't infect us!"
They have to leave town. They wander off.
   Nobody wants them to stay here.
Everyone knows, wherever they wander,
   that they've been kicked out of their own hometown.
 16God himself scattered them.
   No longer does he look out for them.
He has nothing to do with the priests;
   he cares nothing for the elders.
 17We watched and watched,
   wore our eyes out looking for help. And nothing.
We mounted our lookouts and looked
   for the help that never showed up.
 18They tracked us down, those hunters.
   It wasn't safe to go out in the street.
Our end was near, our days numbered.
   We were doomed.
 19They came after us faster than eagles in flight,
   pressed us hard in the mountains, ambushed us in the desert.
 20Our king, our life's breath, the anointed of God,
   was caught in their traps—
Our king under whose protection
   we always said we'd live.
 21Celebrate while you can, O Edom!
   Live it up in Uz!
For it won't be long before you drink this cup, too.
   You'll find out what it's like to drink God's wrath,
Get drunk on God's wrath
   and wake up with nothing, stripped naked.
 22And that's it for you, Zion. The punishment's complete.
   You won't have to go through this exile again.
But Edom, your time is coming:
   He'll punish your evil life, put all your sins on display.

Lamentations 5

Give Us a Fresh Start
 1-22 "Remember, God, all we've been through. Study our plight, the black mark we've made in history.
Our precious land has been given to outsiders,
   our homes to strangers.
Orphans we are, not a father in sight,
   and our mothers no better than widows.
We have to pay to drink our own water.
   Even our firewood comes at a price.
We're nothing but slaves, bullied and bowed,
   worn out and without any rest.
We sold ourselves to Assyria and Egypt
   just to get something to eat.
Our parents sinned and are no more,
   and now we're paying for the wrongs they did.
Slaves rule over us;
   there's no escape from their grip.
We risk our lives to gather food
   in the bandit-infested desert.
Our skin has turned black as an oven,
   dried out like old leather from the famine.
Our wives were raped in the streets in Zion,
   and our virgins in the cities of Judah.
They hanged our princes by their hands,
   dishonored our elders.
Strapping young men were put to women's work,
   mere boys forced to do men's work.
The city gate is empty of wise elders.
   Music from the young is heard no more.
All the joy is gone from our hearts.
   Our dances have turned into dirges.
The crown of glory has toppled from our head.
   Woe! Woe! Would that we'd never sinned!
Because of all this we're heartsick;
   we can't see through the tears.
On Mount Zion, wrecked and ruined,
   jackals pace and prowl.
And yet, God, you're sovereign still,
   your throne intact and eternal.
So why do you keep forgetting us?
   Why dump us and leave us like this?
Bring us back to you, God—we're ready to come back.
   Give us a fresh start.
As it is, you've cruelly disowned us.
   You've been so very angry with us."
 

Hebrews 2:1-18 (The Message)

Hebrews 2

 1-4It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit.
The Salvation Pioneer
 5-9God didn't put angels in charge of this business of salvation that we're dealing with here. It says in Scripture,

   What is man and woman that you bother with them;
      why take a second look their way?
   You made them not quite as high as angels,
      bright with Eden's dawn light;
   Then you put them in charge
      of your entire handcrafted world.
When God put them in charge of everything, nothing was excluded. But we don't see it yet, don't see everything under human jurisdiction. What we do see is Jesus, made "not quite as high as angels," and then, through the experience of death, crowned so much higher than any angel, with a glory "bright with Eden's dawn light." In that death, by God's grace, he fully experienced death in every person's place.  10-13It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as he leads all these people to glory. Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn't hesitate to treat them as family, saying,
   I'll tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know
      about you;
   I'll join them in worship and praise to you.
Again, he puts himself in the same family circle when he says,
   Even I live by placing my trust in God.
And yet again,
   I'm here with the children God gave me.
 14-15Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it's logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil's hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.
 16-18It's obvious, of course, that he didn't go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That's why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people's sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.


Psalm 103:1-22 (The Message)

Psalm 103

A David Psalm
 1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
   O my soul, bless God,
      don't forget a single blessing!

 3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
      He heals your diseases—every one.
      He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
      He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
      He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
      He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.

 6-18 God makes everything come out right;
      he puts victims back on their feet.
   He showed Moses how he went about his work,
      opened up his plans to all Israel.
   God is sheer mercy and grace;
      not easily angered, he's rich in love.
   He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
      nor hold grudges forever.
   He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
      nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
   As high as heaven is over the earth,
      so strong is his love to those who fear him.
   And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
      he has separated us from our sins.
   As parents feel for their children,
      God feels for those who fear him.
   He knows us inside and out,
      keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
   Men and women don't live very long;
      like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
   But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
      leaving nothing to show they were here.
   God's love, though, is ever and always,
      eternally present to all who fear him,
   Making everything right for them and their children
      as they follow his Covenant ways
      and remember to do whatever he said.

 19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
      he rules over us all. He's the King!
   So bless God, you angels,
      ready and able to fly at his bidding,
      quick to hear and do what he says.
   Bless God, all you armies of angels,
      alert to respond to whatever he wills.
   Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
      everything and everyone made by God.    And you, O my soul, bless God!


Proverbs 26:23 (The Message)

 23 Smooth talk from an evil heart
   is like glaze on cracked pottery.



Verse of the Day

“Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith. You know that all over the world the Lord's followers are suffering just as you are.” - 1 Peter 5:8-9
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.



Thought for the Day

French poet, essayist, and philosopher Paul ValĂ©ry wrote, “That which has always been accepted by everyone, everywhere, is almost certain to be false.” 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bible Readings for October 30, 2012


Today our passages are Lamentations 2:20–3:66; Hebrews 1:1-14; Psalm 102:1-28; and Proverbs 26:21-22. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
 

Lamentations 2:20-3:66 (The Message)

 20"Look at us, God. Think it over. Have you ever treated anyone like this?
   Should women eat their own babies, the very children they raised?
   Should priests and prophets be murdered in the Master's own Sanctuary?
 21"Boys and old men lie in the gutters of the streets,
   my young men and women killed in their prime.
   Angry, you killed them in cold blood, cut them down without mercy.
 22"You invited, like friends to a party, men to swoop down in attack
   so that on the big day of God's wrath no one would get away.
   The children I loved and reared—gone, gone, gone."

Lamentations 3

God Locked Me Up in Deep Darkness
 1-3 I'm the man who has seen trouble,
   trouble coming from the lash of God's anger.
He took me by the hand and walked me
   into pitch-black darkness.
Yes, he's given me the back of his hand
   over and over and over again.  4-6He turned me into a scarecrow
   of skin and bones, then broke the bones.
He hemmed me in, ganged up on me,
   poured on the trouble and hard times.
He locked me up in deep darkness,
   like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.
 7-9He shuts me in so I'll never get out,
   manacles my hands, shackles my feet.
Even when I cry out and plead for help,
   he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.
He sets up blockades with quarried limestone.
   He's got me cornered.
 10-12He's a prowling bear tracking me down,
   a lion in hiding ready to pounce.
He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces.
   When he finished, there was nothing left of me.
He took out his bow and arrows
   and used me for target practice.
 13-15He shot me in the stomach
   with arrows from his quiver.
Everyone took me for a joke,
   made me the butt of their mocking ballads.
He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat,
   bloated me with vile drinks.
 16-18He ground my face into the gravel.
   He pounded me into the mud.
I gave up on life altogether.
   I've forgotten what the good life is like.
I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished.
   God is a lost cause."
It's a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God
 19-21I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:  22-24God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left.
 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.
 28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst.
 31-33Why? Because the Master won't ever
   walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
   His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
   in throwing roadblocks in the way:
 34-36Stomping down hard
   on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
   in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
   the Master does not approve of such things.
God Speaks Both Good Things and Hard Things into Being
 37-39Who do you think "spoke and it happened"?
   It's the Master who gives such orders.
Doesn't the High God speak everything,
   good things and hard things alike, into being?
And why would anyone gifted with life
   complain when punished for sin?  40-42Let's take a good look at the way we're living
   and reorder our lives under God.
Let's lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time,
   praying to God in heaven:
"We've been contrary and willful,
   and you haven't forgiven.
 43-45"You lost your temper with us, holding nothing back.
   You chased us and cut us down without mercy.
You wrapped yourself in thick blankets of clouds
   so no prayers could get through.
You treated us like dirty dishwater,
   threw us out in the backyard of the nations.
 46-48"Our enemies shout abuse,
   their mouths full of derision, spitting invective.
We've been to hell and back.
   We've nowhere to turn, nowhere to go.
Rivers of tears pour from my eyes
   at the smashup of my dear people.
 49-51"The tears stream from my eyes,
   an artesian well of tears,
Until you, God, look down from on high,
   look and see my tears.
When I see what's happened to the young women in the city,
   the pain breaks my heart.
 52-54"Enemies with no reason to be enemies
   hunted me down like a bird.
They threw me into a pit,
   then pelted me with stones.
Then the rains came and filled the pit.
   The water rose over my head. I said, 'It's all over.'
 55-57"I called out your name, O God,
   called from the bottom of the pit.
You listened when I called out, 'Don't shut your ears!
   Get me out of here! Save me!'
You came close when I called out.
   You said, 'It's going to be all right.'
 58-60"You took my side, Master;
   you brought me back alive!
God, you saw the wrongs heaped on me.
   Give me my day in court!
Yes, you saw their mean-minded schemes,
   their plots to destroy me.
 61-63"You heard, God, their vicious gossip,
   their behind-my-back plots to ruin me.
They never quit, these enemies of mine, dreaming up mischief,
   hatching out malice, day after day after day.
Sitting down or standing up—just look at them!—
   they mock me with vulgar doggerel.
 64-66"Make them pay for what they've done, God.
   Give them their just deserts.
Break their miserable hearts!
   Damn their eyes!
Get good and angry. Hunt them down.
   Make a total demolition here under your heaven!"


Hebrews 1:1-14 (The Message)

Hebrews 1

 1-3Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!
The Son Is Higher than Angels
 3-6After he finished the sacrifice for sins, the Son took his honored place high in the heavens right alongside God, far higher than any angel in rank and rule. Did God ever say to an angel, "You're my Son; today I celebrate you" or "I'm his Father, he's my Son"? When he presents his honored Son to the world, he says, "All angels must worship him."  7Regarding angels he says,

   The messengers are winds,
      the servants are tongues of fire.
8-9But he says to the Son,
   You're God, and on the throne for good;
      your rule makes everything right.
   You love it when things are right;
      you hate it when things are wrong.
   That is why God, your God,
      poured fragrant oil on your head,
   Marking you out as king,
      far above your dear companions.
10-12And again to the Son,
   You, Master, started it all, laid earth's foundations,
      then crafted the stars in the sky.
   Earth and sky will wear out, but not you;
      they become threadbare like an old coat;
   You'll fold them up like a worn-out cloak,
      and lay them away on the shelf.
   But you'll stay the same, year after year;
      you'll never fade, you'll never wear out.
13And did he ever say anything like this to an angel?
   Sit alongside me here on my throne
   Until I make your enemies a stool for your feet.
 14Isn't it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?


Psalm 102:1-28 (The Message)

Psalm 102

 1-2 God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries.
   Don't turn your back on me
      just when I need you so desperately.
   Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
      And hurry—this can't wait!

 3-11 I'm wasting away to nothing,
      I'm burning up with fever.
   I'm a ghost of my former self,
      half-consumed already by terminal illness.
   My jaws ache from gritting my teeth;
      I'm nothing but skin and bones.
   I'm like a buzzard in the desert,
      a crow perched on the rubble.
   Insomniac, I twitter away,
      mournful as a sparrow in the gutter.
   All day long my enemies taunt me,
      while others just curse.
   They bring in meals—casseroles of ashes!
      I draw drink from a barrel of my tears.
   And all because of your furious anger;
      you swept me up and threw me out.
   There's nothing left of me—
      a withered weed, swept clean from the path.

 12-17 Yet you, God, are sovereign still,
      always and ever sovereign.
   You'll get up from your throne and help Zion—
      it's time for compassionate help.
   Oh, how your servants love this city's rubble
      and weep with compassion over its dust!
   The godless nations will sit up and take notice
      —see your glory, worship your name—
   When God rebuilds Zion,
      when he shows up in all his glory,
   When he attends to the prayer of the wretched.
      He won't dismiss their prayer.

 18-22 Write this down for the next generation
      so people not yet born will praise God:
   "God looked out from his high holy place;
      from heaven he surveyed the earth.
   He listened to the groans of the doomed,
      he opened the doors of their death cells."
   Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
      so God's praise will be sung in Jerusalem's streets
   And wherever people gather together
      along with their rulers to worship him.

 23-28 God sovereignly brought me to my knees,
      he cut me down in my prime.
   "Oh, don't," I prayed, "please don't let me die.
      You have more years than you know what to do with!
   You laid earth's foundations a long time ago,
      and handcrafted the very heavens;
   You'll still be around when they're long gone,
      threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
   You'll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
      but year after year you're as good as new.
   Your servants' children will have a good place to live
      and their children will be at home with you."
 

Proverbs 26:21-22 (The Message)

 21 A quarrelsome person in a dispute
   is like kerosene thrown on a fire.

 22 Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
   do you want junk like that in your belly?



Verse of the Day

“You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.” - Ephesians 2:8-9
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.



A portrait shot of an older, bald man with bifocal glasses. He is wearing a blazer over a collared shirt and tie. In his hands, he is holding a set of papers.Thought for the Day
First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 Nikita Khrushchev wrote, “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bible Readings for October 29, 2012

Today our passages are Lamentations 1:1–2:19; Philemon 1-25; Psalm 101:1-8; and Proverbs 26:20. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
 

Lamentations 1-2:19 (The Message)

Lamentations 1

Worthless, Cheap, Abject!
1Oh, oh, oh... How empty the city, once teeming with people.
A widow, this city, once in the front rank of nations,
once queen of the ball, she's now a drudge in the kitchen.
2She cries herself to sleep each night, tears soaking her pillow.
No one's left among her lovers to sit and hold her hand.
Her friends have all dumped her.
3After years of pain and hard labor, Judah has gone into exile.
She camps out among the nations, never feels at home.
Hunted by all, she's stuck between a rock and a hard place.
4Zion's roads weep, empty of pilgrims headed to the feasts.
All her city gates are deserted, her priests in despair.
Her virgins are sad. How bitter her fate.
5Her enemies have become her masters. Her foes are living it up
because God laid her low, punishing her repeated rebellions.
Her children, prisoners of the enemy, trudge into exile.
6All beauty has drained from Daughter Zion's face.
Her princes are like deer famished for food,
chased to exhaustion by hunters.
7Jerusalem remembers the day she lost everything,
when her people fell into enemy hands, and not a soul there to help.
Enemies looked on and laughed, laughed at her helpless silence.
8Jerusalem, who outsinned the whole world, is an outcast.
All who admired her despise her now that they see beneath the surface.
Miserable, she groans and turns away in shame.
9She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow,
and now she's crashed royally, with no one to hold her hand:
"Look at my pain, O God! And how the enemy cruelly struts."
10The enemy reached out to take all her favorite things. She watched
as pagans barged into her Sanctuary, those very people for whom
you posted orders: keep out: this assembly off-limits.
11All the people groaned, so desperate for food, so desperate to stay alive
that they bartered their favorite things for a bit of breakfast:
"O God, look at me! Worthless, cheap, abject!
12"And you passersby, look at me! Have you ever seen anything like this?
Ever seen pain like my pain, seen what he did to me,
what God did to me in his rage?
13"He struck me with lightning, skewered me from head to foot,
then he set traps all around so I could hardly move.
He left me with nothing—left me sick, and sick of living.
14"He wove my sins into a rope
and harnessed me to captivity's yoke.
I'm goaded by cruel taskmasters.
15"The Master piled up my best soldiers in a heap,
then called in thugs to break their fine young necks.
The Master crushed the life out of fair virgin Judah.
16"For all this I weep, weep buckets of tears,
and not a soul within miles around cares for my soul.
My children are wasted, my enemy got his way."
17Zion reached out for help, but no one helped.
God ordered Jacob's enemies to surround him,
and now no one wants anything to do with Jerusalem.
18"God has right on his side. I'm the one who did wrong.
Listen everybody! Look at what I'm going through!
My fair young women, my fine young men, all herded into exile!
19"I called to my friends; they betrayed me.
My priests and my leaders only looked after themselves,
trying but failing to save their own skins.
20"O God, look at the trouble I'm in! My stomach in knots,
my heart wrecked by a life of rebellion.
Massacres in the streets, starvation in the houses.
21"Oh, listen to my groans. No one listens, no one cares.
When my enemies heard of the trouble you gave me, they cheered.
Bring on Judgment Day! Let them get what I got!
22"Take a good look at their evil ways and give it to them!
Give them what you gave me for my sins.
Groaning in pain, body and soul, I've had all I can take."

Lamentations 2

God Walked Away from His Holy Temple
1 Oh, oh, oh... How the Master has cut down Daughter Zion
from the skies, dashed Israel's glorious city to earth,
in his anger treated his favorite as throwaway junk.
2The Master, without a second thought, took Israel in one gulp.
Raging, he smashed Judah's defenses,
made hash of her king and princes.
3His anger blazing, he knocked Israel flat,
broke Israel's arm and turned his back just as the enemy approached,
came on Jacob like a wildfire from every direction.
4Like an enemy, he aimed his bow, bared his sword,
and killed our young men, our pride and joy.
His anger, like fire, burned down the homes in Zion.
5The Master became the enemy. He had Israel for supper.
He chewed up and spit out all the defenses.
He left Daughter Judah moaning and groaning.
6He plowed up his old trysting place, trashed his favorite rendezvous.
God wiped out Zion's memories of feast days and Sabbaths,
angrily sacked king and priest alike.
7God abandoned his altar, walked away from his holy Temple
and turned the fortifications over to the enemy.
As they cheered in God's Temple, you'd have thought it was a feast day!
8God drew up plans to tear down the walls of Daughter Zion.
He assembled his crew, set to work and went at it.
Total demolition! The stones wept!
9Her city gates, iron bars and all, disappeared in the rubble:
her kings and princes off to exile—no one left to instruct or lead;
her prophets useless—they neither saw nor heard anything from God.
10The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground.
They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap—
the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with the dirt.
11My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot.
My insides have turned to jelly over my people's fate.
Babies and children are fainting all over the place,
12Calling to their mothers, "I'm hungry! I'm thirsty!"
then fainting like dying soldiers in the streets,
breathing their last in their mothers' laps.
13How can I understand your plight, dear Jerusalem?
What can I say to give you comfort, dear Zion?
Who can put you together again? This bust-up is past understanding.
14Your prophets courted you with sweet talk.
They didn't face you with your sin so that you could repent.
Their sermons were all wishful thinking, deceptive illusions.
15Astonished, passersby can't believe what they see.
They rub their eyes, they shake their heads over Jerusalem.
Is this the city voted "Most Beautiful" and "Best Place to Live"?
16But now your enemies gape, slack-jawed.
Then they rub their hands in glee: "We've got them!
We've been waiting for this! Here it is!"
17God did carry out, item by item, exactly what he said he'd do.
He always said he'd do this. Now he's done it—torn the place down.
He's let your enemies walk all over you, declared them world champions!
18Give out heart-cries to the Master, dear repentant Zion.
Let the tears roll like a river, day and night,
and keep at it—no time-outs. Keep those tears flowing!
19As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer.
Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master.
Lift high your hands. Beg for the lives of your children
who are starving to death out on the streets.


Philemon 1-25 (The Message)

Philemon 1

1-3I, Paul, am a prisoner for the sake of Christ, here with my brother Timothy. I write this letter to you, Philemon, my good friend and companion in this work—also to our sister Apphia, to Archippus, a real trooper, and to the church that meets in your house. God's best to you! Christ's blessings on you! 4-7Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, "Oh, thank you, God!" I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers.
To Call the Slave Your Friend
8-9In line with all this I have a favor to ask of you. As Christ's ambassador and now a prisoner for him, I wouldn't hesitate to command this if I thought it necessary, but I'd rather make it a personal request. 10-14While here in jail, I've fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter—Onesimus! He was useless to you before; now he's useful to both of us. I'm sending him back to you, but it feels like I'm cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I'm in jail for the Message. But I didn't want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn't willingly agreed to. 15-16Maybe it's all for the best that you lost him for a while. You're getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That's what he was to me—he'll be even more than that to you. 17-20So if you still consider me a comrade-in-arms, welcome him back as you would me. If he damaged anything or owes you anything, chalk it up to my account. This is my personal signature—Paul—and I stand behind it. (I don't need to remind you, do I, that you owe your very life to me?) Do me this big favor, friend. You'll be doing it for Christ, but it will also do my heart good. 21-22I know you well enough to know you will. You'll probably go far beyond what I've written. And by the way, get a room ready for me. Because of your prayers, I fully expect to be your guest again. 23-25Epaphras, my cellmate in the cause of Christ, says hello. Also my coworkers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke. All the best to you from the Master, Jesus Christ!

Psalm 101:1-8 (The Message)

Psalm 101

A David Psalm
1-8My theme song is God's love and justice, and I'm singing it right to you, God.
I'm finding my way down the road of right living,
but how long before you show up?
I'm doing the very best I can,
and I'm doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can't stand
arrogance.
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
they're the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I've rounded up all the wicked like cattle
and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God's city
of all who make a business of evil.
A Prayer of One Whose Life Is Falling to Pieces,
and Who Lets God Know Just How Bad It Is

Proverbs 26:20 (The Message)

20 When you run out of wood, the fire goes out;
when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down.



Verse of the Day

“[Christ Brings New Life]Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God.” - Romans 12:1
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
 
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist from the United States Bill Mauldin wrote, “There is a certain nobility and dignity in combat soldiers and medical aid men with dirt in their ears. They are rough and their language gets coarse because they live a life stripped of convention and niceties. Their nobility and dignity come from the way they live unselfishly and risk their lives to help each other.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bible Readings for October 28, 2012

Today our passages are Jeremiah 51:54–52:34; Titus 3:1-15; Psalm 100:1-5; and Proverbs 26:18-19. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

Jeremiah 51:54-52:34 (The Message)

54-56"But now listen! Do you hear it? A cry out of Babylon!
An unearthly wail out of Chaldea!
God is taking his wrecking bar to Babylon.
We'll be hearing the last of her noise—
Death throes like the crashing of waves,
death rattles like the roar of cataracts.
The avenging destroyer is about to enter Babylon:
Her soldiers are taken, her weapons are trashed.
Indeed, God is a God who evens things out.
All end up with their just deserts.

57"I'll get them drunk, the whole lot of them—
princes, sages, governors, soldiers.
Dead drunk, they'll sleep—and sleep and sleep...
and never wake up." The King's Decree.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
58God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: "The city walls of Babylon—those massive walls!—
will be flattened.
And those city gates—huge gates!—
will be set on fire.
The harder you work at this empty life,
the less you are.
Nothing comes of ambition like this
but ashes."
59Jeremiah the prophet gave a job to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when Seraiah went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon. It was in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign. Seraiah was in charge of travel arrangements. 60-62Jeremiah had written down in a little booklet all the bad things that would come down on Babylon. He told Seraiah, "When you get to Babylon, read this out in public. Read, 'You, O God, said that you would destroy this place so that nothing could live here, neither human nor animal—a wasteland to top all wastelands, an eternal nothing.' 63-64"When you've finished reading the page, tie a stone to it, throw it into the River Euphrates, and watch it sink. Then say, 'That's how Babylon will sink to the bottom and stay there after the disaster I'm going to bring upon her.'"

Jeremiah 52

The Destruction of Jerusalem and Exile of Judah
1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah. Her hometown was Libnah. 2As far as God was concerned, Zedekiah was just one more evil king, a carbon copy of Jehoiakim. 3-5The source of all this doom to Jerusalem and Judah was God's anger. God turned his back on them as an act of judgment. Zedekiah revolted against the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar set out for Jerusalem with a full army. He set up camp and sealed off the city by building siege mounds around it. He arrived on the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah's reign. The city was under siege for nineteen months (until the eleventh year of Zedekiah). 6-8By the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, on the ninth day of the month, the famine was so bad that there wasn't so much as a crumb of bread for anyone. Then the Babylonians broke through the city walls. Under cover of the night darkness, the entire Judean army fled through an opening in the wall (it was the gate between the two walls above the King's Garden). They slipped through the lines of the Babylonians who surrounded the city and headed for the Jordan into the Arabah Valley, but the Babylonians were in full pursuit. They caught up with them in the Plains of Jericho. But by then Zedekiah's army had deserted and was scattered. 9-11The Babylonians captured Zedekiah and marched him off to the king of Babylon at Riblah in Hamath, who tried and sentenced him on the spot. The king of Babylon then killed Zedekiah's sons right before his eyes. The summary murder of his sons was the last thing Zedekiah saw, for they then blinded him. The king of Babylon followed that up by killing all the officials of Judah. Securely handcuffed, Zedekiah was hauled off to Babylon. The king of Babylon threw him in prison, where he stayed until the day he died. 12-16In the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon on the seventh day of the fifth month, Nebuzaradan, the king of Babylon's chief deputy, arrived in Jerusalem. He burned the Temple of God to the ground, went on to the royal palace, and then finished off the city. He burned the whole place down. He put the Babylonian troops he had with him to work knocking down the city walls. Finally, he rounded up everyone left in the city, including those who had earlier deserted to the king of Babylon, and took them off into exile. He left a few poor dirt farmers behind to tend the vineyards and what was left of the fields. 17-19The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the bronze washstands, and the huge bronze basin (the Sea) that were in the Temple of God, and hauled the bronze off to Babylon. They also took the various bronze-crafted liturgical accessories, as well as the gold and silver censers and sprinkling bowls, used in the services of Temple worship. The king's deputy didn't miss a thing. He took every scrap of precious metal he could find. 20-23The amount of bronze they got from the two pillars, the Sea, the twelve bronze bulls that supported the Sea, and the ten washstands that Solomon had made for the Temple of God was enormous. They couldn't weigh it all! Each pillar stood twenty-seven feet high with a circumference of eighteen feet. The pillars were hollow, the bronze a little less than an inch thick. Each pillar was topped with an ornate capital of bronze pomegranates and filigree, which added another seven and a half feet to its height. There were ninety-six pomegranates evenly spaced—in all, a hundred pomegranates worked into the filigree. 24-27The king's deputy took a number of special prisoners: Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the associate priest, three wardens, the chief remaining army officer, seven of the king's counselors who happened to be in the city, the chief recruiting officer for the army, and sixty men of standing from among the people who were still there. Nebuzaradan the king's deputy marched them all off to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon killed the lot of them in cold blood. Judah went into exile, orphaned from her land. 283,023 men of Judah were taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in the seventh year of his reign. 29832 from Jerusalem were taken in the eighteenth year of his reign. 30745 men from Judah were taken off by Nebuzaradan, the king's chief deputy, in Nebuchadnezzar's twenty-third year. The total number of exiles was 4,600. 31-34When Jehoiachin king of Judah had been in exile for thirty-seven years, Evil-Merodach became king in Babylon and let Jehoiachin out of prison. This release took place on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. The king treated him most courteously and gave him preferential treatment beyond anything experienced by the political prisoners held in Babylon. Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and from then on ate his meals in company with the king. The king provided everything he needed to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

Titus 3:1-15 (The Message)

Titus 3

He Put Our Lives Together
1-2Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God's people should be bighearted and courteous. 3-8It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. 8-11I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It's obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off. 12-13As soon as I send either Artemas or Tychicus to you, come immediately and meet me in Nicopolis. I've decided to spend the winter there. Give Zenas the lawyer and Apollos a hearty send-off. Take good care of them. 14Our people have to learn to be diligent in their work so that all necessities are met (especially among the needy) and they don't end up with nothing to show for their lives. 15All here want to be remembered to you. Say hello to our friends in the faith. Grace to all of you.

Psalm 100:1-5 (The Message)

Psalm 100

A Thanksgiving Psalm
1-2 On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

3 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.

4 Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

5 For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

Proverbs 26:18-19 (The Message)

18-19 People who shrug off deliberate deceptions,
saying, "I didn't mean it, I was only joking,"
Are worse than careless campers
who walk away from smoldering campfires.



Verse of the Day

“The Scriptures say, "Humans wither like grass, and their glory fades like wild flowers. Grass dries up, and flowers fall to the ground. But what the Lord has said will stand forever." Our good news to you is what the Lord has said.” - 1 Peter 1:24-25
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
 
Polish-born, Jewish-American author Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote, “Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bible Readings for October 27, 2012

Today our passages are Jeremiah 51:1-53; Titus 2:1-15; Psalm 99:1-9; and Proverbs 26:17. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Jeremiah 51:1-53 (The Message)

Jeremiah 51

Hurricane Persia
1-5There's more. God says more: "Watch this:
I'm whipping up
A death-dealing hurricane against Babylon—'Hurricane Persia'—
against all who live in that perverse land.
I'm sending a cleanup crew into Babylon.
They'll clean the place out from top to bottom.
When they get through there'll be nothing left of her
worth taking or talking about.
They won't miss a thing.
A total and final Doomsday!
Fighters will fight with everything they've got.
It's no-holds-barred.
They will spare nothing and no one.
It's final and wholesale destruction—the end!
Babylon littered with the wounded,
streets piled with corpses.
It turns out that Israel and Judah
are not widowed after all.
As their God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, I am still alive and well,
committed to them even though
They filled their land with sin
against Israel's most Holy God. 6-8"Get out of Babylon as fast as you can.
Run for your lives! Save your necks!
Don't linger and lose your lives to my vengeance on her
as I pay her back for her sins.
Babylon was a fancy gold chalice
held in my hand,
Filled with the wine of my anger
to make the whole world drunk.
The nations drank the wine
and they've all gone crazy.
Babylon herself will stagger and crash,
senseless in a drunken stupor—tragic!
Get anointing balm for her wound.
Maybe she can be cured." 9"We did our best, but she can't be helped.
Babylon is past fixing.
Give her up to her fate.
Go home.
The judgment on her will be vast,
a skyscraper-memorial of vengeance.
Your Lifeline Is Cut
10"God has set everything right for us.
Come! Let's tell the good news
Back home in Zion.
Let's tell what our God did to set things right. 11-13"Sharpen the arrows!
Fill the quivers!
God has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
infecting them with war fever: 'Destroy Babylon!'
God's on the warpath.
He's out to avenge his Temple.
Give the signal to attack Babylon's walls.
Station guards around the clock.
Bring in reinforcements.
Set men in ambush.
God will do what he planned,
what he said he'd do to the people of Babylon.
You have more water than you need,
you have more money than you need—
But your life is over,
your lifeline cut." 14God-of-the-Angel-Armies has solemnly sworn:
"I'll fill this place with soldiers.
They'll swarm through here like locusts
chanting victory songs over you." 15-19By his power he made earth.
His wisdom gave shape to the world.
He crafted the cosmos.
He thunders and rain pours down.
He sends the clouds soaring.
He embellishes the storm with lightnings,
launches the wind from his warehouse.
Stick-god worshipers look mighty foolish!
god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods!
Their gods are frauds, dead sticks—
deadwood gods, tasteless jokes.
They're nothing but stale smoke.
When the smoke clears, they're gone.
But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing;
he put the whole universe together,
With special attention to Israel.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
They'll Sleep and Never Wake Up
20-23God says, "You, Babylon, are my hammer,
my weapon of war.
I'll use you to smash godless nations,
use you to knock kingdoms to bits.
I'll use you to smash horse and rider,
use you to smash chariot and driver.
I'll use you to smash man and woman,
use you to smash the old man and the boy.
I'll use you to smash the young man and young woman,
use you to smash shepherd and sheep.
I'll use you to smash farmer and yoked oxen,
use you to smash governors and senators. 24"Judeans, you'll see it with your own eyes. I'll pay Babylon and all the Chaldeans back for all the evil they did in Zion." God's Decree. 25-26"I'm your enemy, Babylon, Mount Destroyer,
you ravager of the whole earth.
I'll reach out, I'll take you in my hand,
and I'll crush you till there's no mountain left.
I'll turn you into a gravel pit—
no more cornerstones cut from you,
No more foundation stones quarried from you!
Nothing left of you but gravel." God's Decree. 27-28"Raise the signal in the land,
blow the shofar-trumpet for the nations.
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her.
Call kingdoms into service against her.
Enlist Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a field marshal against her,
and round up horses, locust hordes of horses!
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her—
the king of the Medes, his leaders and people. 29-33"The very land trembles in terror, writhes in pain,
terrorized by my plans against Babylon,
Plans to turn the country of Babylon
into a lifeless moonscape—a wasteland.
Babylon's soldiers have quit fighting.
They hide out in ruins and caves—
Cowards who've given up without a fight,
exposed as cowering milksops.
Babylon's houses are going up in flames,
the city gates torn off their hinges.
Runner after runner comes racing in,
each on the heels of the last,
Bringing reports to the king of Babylon
that his city is a lost cause.
The fords of the rivers are all taken.
Wildfire rages through the swamp grass.
Soldiers desert left and right.
I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, said it would happen:
'Daughter Babylon is a threshing floor
at threshing time.
Soon, oh very soon, her harvest will come
and then the chaff will fly!' 34-37"Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
chewed up my people and spit out the bones.
He wiped his dish clean, pushed back his chair,
and belched—a huge gluttonous belch.
Lady Zion says,
'The brutality done to me be done to Babylon!'
And Jerusalem says,
'The blood spilled from me be charged to the Chaldeans!'
Then I, God, step in and say,
'I'm on your side, taking up your cause.
I'm your Avenger. You'll get your revenge.
I'll dry up her rivers, plug up her springs.
Babylon will be a pile of rubble,
scavenged by stray dogs and cats,
A dumping ground for garbage,
a godforsaken ghost town.' 38-40"The Babylonians will be like lions and their cubs,
ravenous, roaring for food.
I'll fix them a meal, all right—a banquet, in fact.
They'll drink themselves falling-down drunk.
Dead drunk, they'll sleep—and sleep, and sleep...
and they'll never wake up." God's Decree.
"I'll haul these 'lions' off to the slaughterhouse
like the lambs, rams, and goats,
never to be heard of again. 41-48"Babylon is finished—
the pride of the whole earth is flat on her face.
What a comedown for Babylon,
to end up inglorious in the sewer!
Babylon drowned in chaos,
battered by waves of enemy soldiers.
Her towns stink with decay and rot,
the land empty and bare and sterile.
No one lives in these towns anymore.
Travelers give them a wide berth.
I'll bring doom on the glutton god-Bel in Babylon.
I'll make him vomit up all he gulped down.
No more visitors stream into this place,
admiring and gawking at the wonders of Babylon.
The wonders of Babylon are no more.
Run for your lives, my dear people!
Run, and don't look back!
Get out of this place while you can,
this place torched by God's raging anger.
Don't lose hope. Don't ever give up
when the rumors pour in hot and heavy.
One year it's this, the next year it's that—
rumors of violence, rumors of war.
Trust me, the time is coming
when I'll put the no-gods of Babylon in their place.
I'll show up the whole country as a sickening fraud,
with dead bodies strewn all over the place.
Heaven and earth, angels and people,
will throw a victory party over Babylon
When the avenging armies from the north
descend on her." God's Decree!
Remember God in Your Long and Distant Exile
49-50"Babylon must fall—
compensation for the war dead in Israel.
Babylonians will be killed
because of all that Babylonian killing.
But you exiles who have escaped a Babylonian death,
get out! And fast!
Remember God in your long and distant exile.
Keep Jerusalem alive in your memory." 51How we've been humiliated, taunted and abused,
kicked around for so long that we hardly know who we are!
And we hardly know what to think—
our old Sanctuary, God's house, desecrated by strangers. 52-53"I know, but trust me: The time is coming"
—God's Decree—
"When I will bring doom on her no-god idols,
and all over this land her wounded will groan.
Even if Babylon climbed a ladder to the moon
and pulled up the ladder so that no one could get to her,
That wouldn't stop me.
I'd make sure my avengers would reach her."
God's Decree.

Titus 2:1-15 (The Message)

Titus 2

A God-Filled Life
1-6Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. 7-8But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. 9-10Guide slaves into being loyal workers, a bonus to their masters—no back talk, no petty thievery. Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God. 11-14God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness. 15Tell them all this. Build up their courage, and discipline them if they get out of line. You're in charge. Don't let anyone put you down.

Psalm 99:1-9 (The Message)

Psalm 99


God rules. On your toes, everybody! He rules from his angel throne—take notice!
God looms majestic in Zion,
He towers in splendor over all the big names.
Great and terrible your beauty: let everyone praise you!
Holy. Yes, holy.

4-5 Strong King, lover of justice,
You laid things out fair and square;
You set down the foundations in Jacob,
Foundation stones of just and right ways.
Honor God, our God; worship his rule!
Holy. Yes, holy.

6-9 Moses and Aaron were his priests,
Samuel among those who prayed to him.
They prayed to God and he answered them;
He spoke from the pillar of cloud.
And they did what he said; they kept the law he gave them.
And then God, our God, answered them
(But you were never soft on their sins).
Lift high God, our God; worship at his holy mountain.
Holy. Yes, holy is God our God.

Proverbs 26:17 (The Message)

17 You grab a mad dog by the ears
when you butt into a quarrel that's none of your business.


Verse of the Day

“What God has said isn't only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts.” - Hebrews 4:12
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
 

Thought for the Day
American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz wrote, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bible Readings for October 26, 2012


Today our passages are Jeremiah 49:23–50:46; Titus 1:1-6; Psalm 97:1–98:9; and Proverbs 26:13-16. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.


Jeremiah 49:23-50:46 (The Message)

The Blood Will Drain from the Face of Damascus
 23-27The Message on Damascus:    "Hamath and Arpad will be in shock 
   when they hear the bad news.
Their hearts will melt in fear 
   as they pace back and forth in worry.
The blood will drain from the face of Damascus 
   as she turns to flee.
Hysterical, she'll fall to pieces, 
   disabled, like a woman in childbirth.
And now how lonely—bereft, abandoned! 
   The once famous city, the once happy city.
Her bright young men dead in the streets, 
   her brave warriors silent as death.
On that day"—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies— 
   "I'll start a fire at the wall of Damascus 
   that will burn down all of Ben-hadad's forts." 
Find a Safe Place to Hide
 28-33The Message on Kedar and the sheikdoms of Hazor who were attacked by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. This is God's Message:    "On your feet! Attack Kedar! 
   Plunder the Bedouin nomads from the east. 
   Grab their blankets and pots and pans.
Steal their camels. 
   Traumatize them, shouting, 'Terror! Death! Doom!
Danger everywhere!' 
   Oh, run for your lives,
You nomads from Hazor." God's Decree. 
   "Find a safe place to hide.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon 
   has plans to wipe you out, 
   to go after you with a vengeance:
'After them,' he says. 'Go after these relaxed nomads 
   who live free and easy in the desert,
Who live in the open with no doors to lock, 
   who live off by themselves.'
Their camels are there for the taking, 
   their herds and flocks, easy picking.
I'll scatter them to the four winds, 
   these defenseless nomads on the fringes of the desert.
I'll bring terror from every direction. 
   They won't know what hit them." God's Decree.
"Jackals will take over the camps of Hazor, 
   camps abandoned to wind and sand.
No one will live there, 
   no mortal soul move in there." 
The Winds Will Blow Away Elam
 34-39God's Message to the prophet Jeremiah on Elam at the outset of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies says:    "Watch this! I'll break Elam's bow, 
   her weapon of choice, across my knee.
Then I'll let four winds loose on Elam, 
   winds from the four corners of earth.
I'll blow them away in all directions, 
   landing homeless Elamites in every country on earth.
They'll live in constant fear and terror 
   among enemies who want to kill them.
I'll bring doom on them, 
   my anger-fueled doom.
I'll set murderous hounds on their heels 
   until there's nothing left of them.
And then I'll set up my throne in Elam, 
   having thrown out the king and his henchmen.
But the time will come when I make 
   everything right for Elam again." God's Decree. 

Jeremiah 50

Get Out of Babylon as Fast as You Can
 1-3 The Message of God through the prophet Jeremiah on Babylon, land of the Chaldeans:    "Get the word out to the nations! Preach it! 
   Go public with this, broadcast it far and wide:
Babylon taken, god-Bel hanging his head in shame, 
   god-Marduk exposed as a fraud.
All her god-idols shuffling in shame, 
   all her play-gods exposed as cheap frauds.
For a nation will come out of the north to attack her, 
   reduce her cities to rubble.
Empty of life—no animals, no people— 
   not a sound, not a movement, not a breath. 
 4-5"In those days, at that time"—God's Decree— 
   "the people of Israel will come,
And the people of Judah with them. 
   Walking and weeping, they'll seek me, their God.
They'll ask directions to Zion 
   and set their faces toward Zion.
They'll come and hold tight to God, 
   bound in a covenant eternal they'll never forget. 
 6-7"My people were lost sheep. 
   Their shepherds led them astray.
They abandoned them in the mountains 
   where they wandered aimless through the hills.
They lost track of home, 
   couldn't remember where they came from.
Everyone who met them took advantage of them. 
   Their enemies had no qualms:
'Fair game,' they said. 'They walked out on God. 
   They abandoned the True Pasture, the hope of their parents.' 
 8-10"But now, get out of Babylon as fast as you can. 
   Be rid of that Babylonian country.
On your way. Good sheepdogs lead, but don't you be led. 
   Lead the way home!
Do you see what I'm doing? 
   I'm rallying a host of nations against Babylon.
They'll come out of the north, 
   attack and take her.
Oh, they know how to fight, these armies. 
   They never come home empty-handed.
Babylon is ripe for picking! 
   All her plunderers will fill their bellies!" God's Decree. 
 11-16"You Babylonians had a good time while it lasted, didn't you? 
   You lived it up, exploiting and using my people,
Frisky calves romping in lush pastures, 
   wild stallions out having a good time!
Well, your mother would hardly be proud of you. 
   The woman who bore you wouldn't be pleased.
Look at what's come of you! A nothing nation! 
   Rubble and garbage and weeds!
Emptied of life by my holy anger, 
   a desert of death and emptiness.
Travelers who pass by Babylon will gasp, appalled, 
   shaking their heads at such a comedown.
Gang up on Babylon! Pin her down! 
   Throw everything you have against her.
Hold nothing back. Knock her flat. 
   She's sinned—oh, how she's sinned, against me!
Shout battle cries from every direction. 
   All the fight has gone out of her.
Her defenses have been flattened, 
   her walls smashed.
'Operation God's Vengeance.' 
   Pile on the vengeance!
Do to her as she has done. 
   Give her a good dose of her own medicine!
Destroy her farms and farmers, 
   ravage her fields, empty her barns.
And you captives, while the destruction rages, 
   get out while the getting's good, 
   get out fast and run for home. 
 17"Israel is a scattered flock, 
   hunted down by lions.
The king of Assyria started the carnage. 
   The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar,
Has completed the job, 
   gnawing the bones clean." 
 18-20And now this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies, 
   the God of Israel, has to say:
"Just watch! I'm bringing doom on the king of Babylon and his land, 
   the same doom I brought on the king of Assyria.
But Israel I'll bring home to good pastures. 
   He'll graze on the hills of Carmel and Bashan,
On the slopes of Ephraim and Gilead. 
   He will eat to his heart's content.
In those days and at that time"—God's Decree— 
   "they'll look high and low for a sign of Israel's guilt—nothing;
Search nook and cranny for a trace of Judah's sin—nothing. 
   These people that I've saved will start out with a clean slate. 
 21"Attack Merathaim, land of rebels! 
   Go after Pekod, country of doom!
Hunt them down. Make a clean sweep." God's Decree. 
   "These are my orders. Do what I tell you. 
 22-24"The thunderclap of battle 
   shakes the foundations!
The Hammer has been hammered, 
   smashed and splintered,
Babylon pummeled 
   beyond recognition.
I set out a trap and you were caught in it. 
   O Babylon, you never knew what hit you,
Caught and held in the steel grip of that trap! 
   That's what you get for taking on God. 
 25-28"I, God, opened my arsenal. 
   I brought out my weapons of wrath.
The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, 
   has a job to do in Babylon.
Come at her from all sides! 
   Break into her granaries!
Shovel her into piles and burn her up. 
   Leave nothing! Leave no one!
Kill all her young turks. 
   Send them to their doom!
Doom to them! Yes, Doomsday! 
   The clock has finally run out on them.
And here's a surprise: 
   Runaways and escapees from Babylon
Show up in Zion reporting the news of God's vengeance, 
   taking vengeance for my own Temple. 
 29-30"Call in the troops against Babylon, 
   anyone who can shoot straight!
Tighten the noose! 
   Leave no loopholes!
Give her back as good as she gave, 
   a dose of her own medicine!
Her brazen insolence is an outrage 
   against God, The Holy of Israel.
And now she pays: her young strewn dead in the streets, 
   her soldiers dead, silent forever." God's Decree. 
 31-32"Do you get it, Mister Pride? I'm your enemy!" 
   Decree of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
"Time's run out on you: 
   That's right: It's Doomsday.
Mister Pride will fall flat on his face. 
   No one will offer him a hand.
I'll set his towns on fire. 
   The fire will spread wild through the country." 
 33-34And here's more from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 
   "The people of Israel are beaten down, 
   the people of Judah along with them.
Their oppressors have them in a grip of steel. 
   They won't let go.
But the Rescuer is strong: 
   God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Yes, I will take their side, 
   I'll come to their rescue.
I'll soothe their land, 
   but rough up the people of Babylon. 
 35-40"It's all-out war in Babylon"—God's Decree— 
   "total war against people, leaders, and the wise!
War to the death on her boasting pretenders, fools one and all! 
   War to the death on her soldiers, cowards to a man!
War to the death on her hired killers, gutless wonders! 
   War to the death on her banks—looted!
War to the death on her water supply—drained dry! 
   A land of make-believe gods gone crazy—hobgoblins!
The place will be haunted with jackals and scorpions, 
   night-owls and vampire bats.
No one will ever live there again. 
   The land will reek with the stench of death.
It will join Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors, 
   the cities I did away with." God's Decree.
"No one will live there again. 
   No one will again draw breath in that land, ever. 
 41-43"And now, watch this! People pouring 
   out of the north, hordes of people,
A mob of kings stirred up 
   from far-off places.
Flourishing deadly weapons, 
   barbarians they are, cruel and pitiless.
Roaring and relentless, like ocean breakers, 
   they come riding fierce stallions,
In battle formation, ready to fight 
   you, Daughter Babylon!
Babylon's king hears them coming. 
   He goes white as a ghost, limp as a dishrag.
Terror-stricken, he doubles up in pain, helpless to fight, 
   like a woman giving birth to a baby. 
 44"And now watch this: Like a lion coming up 
   from the thick jungle of the Jordan,
Looking for prey in the mountain pastures, 
   I'll take over and pounce.
I'll take my pick of the flock—and who's to stop me? 
   All the so-called shepherds are helpless before me." 
 45-46So, listen to this plan that God has worked out against Babylon, the blueprint of what he's prepared for dealing with Chaldea: 
   Believe it or not, the young, 
   the vulnerable—mere lambs and kids—will be dragged off.
Believe it or not, the flock 
   in shock, helpless to help, watches it happen.
When the shout goes up, "Babylon's down!" 
   the very earth will shudder at the sound. 
   The news will be heard all over the world.


Titus 1:1-6 (The Message)

Titus 1

 1-4I, Paul, am God's slave and Christ's agent for promoting the faith among God's chosen people, getting out the accurate word on God and how to respond rightly to it. My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn't break promises! And then when the time was ripe, he went public with his truth. I've been entrusted to proclaim this Message by order of our Savior, God himself. Dear Titus, legitimate son in the faith: Receive everything God our Father and Jesus our Savior give you!
A Good Grip on the Message
 5-9I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done. Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions. As you select them, ask, "Is this man well-thought-of? Is he committed to his wife? Are his children believers? Do they respect him and stay out of trouble?" It's important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God's house, be looked up to—not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry. He must welcome people, be helpful, wise, fair, reverent, have a good grip on himself, and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.

Psalm 97-98:9 (The Message)

Psalm 97

    God rules: there's something to shout over! On the double, mainlands and islands—celebrate! 

 2 Bright clouds and storm clouds circle 'round him; 
   Right and justice anchor his rule. 

 3 Fire blazes out before him, 
   Flaming high up the craggy mountains. 

 4 His lightnings light up the world; 
   Earth, wide-eyed, trembles in fear. 

 5 The mountains take one look at God 
   And melt, melt like wax before earth's Lord. 

 6 The heavens announce that he'll set everything right, 
   And everyone will see it happen—glorious! 

 7-8 All who serve handcrafted gods will be sorry— 
   And they were so proud of their ragamuffin gods!    On your knees, all you gods—worship him! 
   And Zion, you listen and take heart! 
   Daughters of Zion, sing your hearts out: 
   God has done it all, has set everything right. 

 9 You, God, are High God of the cosmos, 
   Far, far higher than any of the gods. 

 10 God loves all who hate evil, 
   And those who love him he keeps safe, 
   Snatches them from the grip of the wicked. 

 11 Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God's people, 
   Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil. 

 12 So, God's people, shout praise to God, 
   Give thanks to our Holy God! 

Psalm 98


    Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders!    He rolled up his sleeves, 
   He set things right. 

 2 God made history with salvation, 
   He showed the world what he could do. 

 3 He remembered to love us, a bonus 
   To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love. 
   The whole earth comes to attention. 
   Look—God's work of salvation! 

 4 Shout your praises to God, everybody! 
   Let loose and sing! Strike up the band! 

 5 Round up an orchestra to play for God, 
   Add on a hundred-voice choir. 

 6 Feature trumpets and big trombones, 
   Fill the air with praises to King God. 

 7 Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause, 
   With everything living on earth joining in. 

 8 Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!" 
   And mountains harmonize the finale— 

 9 A tribute to God when he comes, 
   When he comes to set the earth right. 
   He'll straighten out the whole world, 
   He'll put the world right, and everyone in it.


Proverbs 26:13-16 (The Message)


 13 Loafers say, "It's dangerous out there!
   Tigers are prowling the streets!"
   and then pull the covers back over their heads.

 14 Just as a door turns on its hinges,
   so a lazybones turns back over in bed.

 15 A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie,
   but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.
Like Glaze on Cracked Pottery
 16 Dreamers fantasize their self-importance;
   they think they are smarter
   than a whole college faculty.

Verse of the Day
“Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God's servants to do all kinds of good deeds.” - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.



Thought for the Day

New Thought spiritual leader of the early 20th century Emmet Foxwrote, “If you could only love enough, you could be the most powerful person in the world.”