Today our passages are Amos 4:1–6:14; Revelation 2:18–3:6; Psalm 130:1-8; and Proverbs 29:19-20. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
Amos 4-6:14 (The Message)
You Never Got Hungry for God1 "Listen to this, you cows of Bashan
grazing on the slopes of Samaria.
You women! Mean to the poor,
cruel to the down-and-out!
Indolent and pampered, you demand of your husbands,
'Bring us a tall, cool drink!' 2-3"This is serious—I, God, have sworn by my holiness!
Be well warned: Judgment Day is coming!
They're going to rope you up and haul you off,
keep the stragglers in line with cattle prods.
They'll drag you through the ruined city walls,
forcing you out single file,
And kick you to kingdom come."
4-5"Come along to Bethel and sin!
And then to Gilgal and sin some more!
Bring your sacrifices for morning worship.
Every third day bring your tithe.
Burn pure sacrifices—thank offerings.
Speak up—announce freewill offerings!
That's the sort of religious show
you Israelites just love."
6"You know, don't you, that I'm the One
who emptied your pantries and cleaned out your cupboards,
Who left you hungry and standing in bread lines?
But you never got hungry for me. You continued to ignore me."
7-8"Yes, and I'm the One who stopped the rains
three months short of harvest.
I'd make it rain on one village
but not on another.
I'd make it rain on one field
but not on another—and that one would dry up.
People would stagger from village to village
crazed for water and never quenching their thirst.
But you never got thirsty for me.
You ignored me."
9"I hit your crops with disease
and withered your orchards and gardens.
Locusts devoured your olive and fig trees,
but you continued to ignore me."
10"I revisited you with the old Egyptian plagues,
killed your choice young men and prize horses.
The stink of rot in your camps was so strong
that you held your noses—
But you didn't notice me.
You continued to ignore me."
11"I hit you with earthquake and fire,
left you devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick
snatched from the flames.
But you never looked my way.
You continued to ignore me."
12"All this I have done to you, Israel,
and this is why I have done it.
Time's up, O Israel!
Prepare to meet your God!"
13Look who's here: Mountain-Shaper! Wind-Maker!
He laid out the whole plot before Adam.
He brings everything out of nothing,
like dawn out of darkness.
He strides across the alpine ridges.
His name is God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
All Show, No Substance1 Listen to this, family of Israel, this Message I'm sending in bold print, this tragic warning: 2"Virgin Israel has fallen flat on her face.
She'll never stand up again.
She's been left where she's fallen.
No one offers to help her up." 3This is the Message, God's Word:
"The city that marches out with a thousand
will end up with a hundred.
The city that marches out with a hundred
will end up with ten. Oh, family of Israel!"
4-5God's Message to the family of Israel:
"Seek me and live.
Don't fool around at those shrines of Bethel,
Don't waste time taking trips to Gilgal,
and don't bother going down to Beer-sheba.
Gilgal is here today and gone tomorrow
and Bethel is all show, no substance."
6So seek God and live! You don't want to end up
with nothing to show for your life
But a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground.
For God will send just such a fire,
and the firefighters will show up too late.
Raw Truth Is Never Popular7-9 Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar
and stomp righteousness into the mud.
Do you realize where you are? You're in a cosmos
star-flung with constellations by God,
A world God wakes up each morning
and puts to bed each night.
God dips water from the ocean
and gives the land a drink.
God, God-revealed, does all this.
And he can destroy it as easily as make it.
He can turn this vast wonder into total waste. 10-12People hate this kind of talk.
Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken:
Because you run roughshod over the poor
and take the bread right out of their mouths,
You're never going to move into
the luxury homes you have built.
You're never going to drink wine
from the expensive vineyards you've planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations,
the enormity of your sins. Appalling!
You bully right-living people,
taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they're down.
13Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
Decent people throw up their hands.
Protest and rebuke are useless,
a waste of breath.
14Seek good and not evil—
You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
being your best friend.
Well, live like it,
and maybe it will happen.
15Hate evil and love good,
then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
will notice your remnant and be gracious.
16-17Now again, my Master's Message, God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
"Go out into the streets and lament loudly!
Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom!
Weep loudly, 'Not me! Not us, Not now!'
Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces.
Enlist everyone in the general lament.
I want to hear it loud and clear when I make my visit."
Time to Face Hard Reality, Not Fantasy18-20 Woe to all of you who want God's Judgment Day!
Why would you want to see God, want him to come?
When God comes, it will be bad news before it's good news,
the worst of times, not the best of times.
Here's what it's like: A man runs from a lion
right into the jaws of a bear.
A woman goes home after a hard day's work
and is raped by a neighbor.
At God's coming we face hard reality, not fantasy—
a black cloud with no silver lining. 21-24"I can't stand your religious meetings.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want.
25-27 "Didn't you, dear family of Israel, worship me faithfully for forty years in the wilderness, bringing the sacrifices and offerings I commanded? How is it you've stooped to dragging gimcrack statues of your so-called rulers around, hauling the cheap images of all your star-gods here and there? Since you like them so much, you can take them with you when I drive you into exile beyond Damascus." God's Message, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Those Who Live Only for Today1-2 Woe to you who think you live on easy street in Zion, who think Mount Samaria is the good life.
You assume you're at the top of the heap,
voted the number-one best place to live.
Well, wake up and look around. Get off your pedestal.
Take a look at Calneh.
Go and visit Great Hamath.
Look in on Gath of the Philistines.
Doesn't that take you off your high horse?
Compared to them, you're not much, are you? 3-6Woe to you who are rushing headlong to disaster!
Catastrophe is just around the corner!
Woe to those who live in luxury
and expect everyone else to serve them!
Woe to those who live only for today,
indifferent to the fate of others!
Woe to the playboys, the playgirls,
who think life is a party held just for them!
Woe to those addicted to feeling good—life without pain!
those obsessed with looking good—life without wrinkles!
They could not care less
about their country going to ruin.
7But here's what's really coming:
a forced march into exile.
They'll leave the country whining,
a rag-tag bunch of good-for-nothings.
You've Made a Shambles of Justice8 God, the Master, has sworn, and solemnly stands by his Word.
The God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: "I hate the arrogance of Jacob.
I have nothing but contempt for his forts.
I'm about to hand over the city
and everyone in it."
9-10 Ten men are in a house, all dead. A relative comes and gets the bodies to prepare them for a decent burial. He discovers a survivor huddled in a closet and asks, "Are there any more?" The answer: "Not a soul. But hush! God must not be mentioned in this desecrated place."
11Note well: God issues the orders.
He'll knock large houses to smithereens.
He'll smash little houses to bits.
12-13Do you hold a horse race in a field of rocks?
Do you plow the sea with oxen?
You'd cripple the horses
and drown the oxen.
And yet you've made a shambles of justice,
a bloated corpse of righteousness,
Bragging of your trivial pursuits,
beating up on the weak and crowing, "Look what I've done!"
14"Enjoy it while you can, you Israelites.
I've got a pagan army on the move against you"
—this is your God speaking, God-of-the-Angel-Armies—
"And they'll make hash of you,
from one end of the country to the other."
Revelation 2:18-3:6 (The Message)
To Thyatira18Write this to Thyatira, to the Angel of the church. God's Son, eyes pouring fire-blaze, standing on feet of furnace-fired bronze, says this: 19"I see everything you're doing for me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day.
20-23"But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion? I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has no intention of giving up a career in the god-business. I'm about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games. The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I'll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don't impress me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what's coming to you.
24-25"The rest of you Thyatirans, who have nothing to do with this outrage, who scorn this playing around with the Devil that gets paraded as profundity, be assured I'll not make life any harder for you than it already is. Hold on to the truth you have until I get there.
26-28"Here's the reward I have for every conqueror, everyone who keeps at it, refusing to give up: You'll rule the nations, your Shepherd-King rule as firm as an iron staff, their resistance fragile as clay pots. This was the gift my Father gave me; I pass it along to you—and with it, the Morning Star!
29"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."
To Sardis1 Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks: "I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone-dead. 2-3"Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God.
"If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night.
4"You still have a few followers of Jesus in Sardis who haven't ruined themselves wallowing in the muck of the world's ways. They'll walk with me on parade! They've proved their worth!
5"Conquerors will march in the victory parade, their names indelible in the Book of Life. I'll lead them up and present them by name to my Father and his Angels.
6"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."
Psalm 130:1-8 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song1-2 Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
Listen to my cries for mercy.
3-4 If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that's why you're worshiped.
5-6 I pray to God—my life a prayer—
and wait for what he'll say and do.
My life's on the line before God, my Lord,
waiting and watching till morning,
waiting and watching till morning.
7-8 O Israel, wait and watch for God—
with God's arrival comes love,
with God's arrival comes generous redemption.
No doubt about it—he'll redeem Israel,
buy back Israel from captivity to sin.
Proverbs 29:19-20 (The Message)
19 It takes more than talk to keep workers in line;
mere words go in one ear and out the other.
20 Observe the people who always talk before they think—
even simpletons are better off than they are.
Verse of the Day
“But the LORD will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents, Charles Kettering wrote, “Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”