Today our passages are Hosea 6:1–9:17; 3 John 1-14; Psalm 126:1-6; and Proverbs 29:12-14. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
Hosea 6-9:17 (The Message)
Gangs of Priests Assaulting Worshipers1-3 "Come on, let's go back to God. He hurt us, but he'll heal us.
He hit us hard,
but he'll put us right again.
In a couple of days we'll feel better.
By the third day he'll have made us brand-new,
Alive and on our feet,
fit to face him.
We're ready to study God,
eager for God-knowledge.
As sure as dawn breaks,
so sure is his daily arrival.
He comes as rain comes,
as spring rain refreshing the ground." 4-7 "What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
What do I make of you, Judah?
Your declarations of love last no longer
than morning mist and predawn dew.
That's why I use prophets to shake you to attention,
why my words cut you to the quick:
To wake you up to my judgment
blazing like light.
I'm after love that lasts, not more religion.
I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.
You broke the covenant—just like Adam!
You broke faith with me—ungrateful wretches!
8-9"Gilead has become Crime City—
blood on the sidewalks, blood on the streets.
It used to be robbers who mugged pedestrians.
Now it's gangs of priests
Assaulting worshipers on their way to Shechem.
Nothing is sacred to them.
10"I saw a shocking thing in the country of Israel:
Ephraim worshiping in a religious whorehouse,
and Israel in the mud right there with him.
11"You're as bad as the worst of them, Judah.
You've been sowing wild oats. Now it's harvest time."
Despite All the Signs, Israel Ignores God1-2 "Every time I gave Israel a fresh start, wiped the slate clean and got them going again,
Ephraim soon filled the slate with new sins,
the treachery of Samaria written out in bold print.
Two-faced and double-tongued,
they steal you blind, pick you clean.
It never crosses their mind
that I keep account of their every crime.
They're mud-spattered head to toe with the residue of sin.
I see who they are and what they've done. 3-7"They entertain the king with their evil circus,
delight the princes with their acrobatic lies.
They're a bunch of overheated adulterers,
like an oven that holds its heat
From the kneading of the dough
to the rising of the bread.
On the royal holiday the princes get drunk
on wine and the frenzy of the mocking mob.
They're like wood stoves,
red-hot with lust.
Through the night their passion is banked;
in the morning it blazes up, flames hungrily licking.
Murderous and volcanic,
they incinerate their rulers.
Their kings fall one by one,
and no one pays any attention to me.
8-10"Ephraim mingles with the pagans, dissipating himself.
Ephraim is half-baked.
Strangers suck him dry
but he doesn't even notice.
His hair has turned gray—
he doesn't notice.
Bloated by arrogance, big as a house,
Israel's a public disgrace.
Israel lumbers along oblivious to God,
despite all the signs, ignoring God.
11-16"Ephraim is bird-brained,
First chirping after Egypt,
then fluttering after Assyria.
I'll throw my net over them. I'll clip their wings.
I'll teach them to mind me!
Doom! They've run away from home.
Now they're really in trouble! They've defied me.
And I'm supposed to help them
while they feed me a line of lies?
Instead of crying out to me in heartfelt prayer,
they whoop it up in bed with their whores,
Gash themselves bloody in their sex-and-religion orgies,
but turn their backs on me.
I'm the one who gave them good minds and healthy bodies,
and how am I repaid? With evil scheming!
They turn, but not to me—
turn here, then there, like a weather vane.
Their rulers will be cut down, murdered—
just deserts for their mocking blasphemies.
And the final sentence?
Ridicule in the court of world opinion."
Altars for Sinning1-3 "Blow the trumpet! Sound the alarm! Vultures are circling over God's people
Who have broken my covenant
and defied my revelation.
Predictably, Israel cries out, 'My God! We know you!'
But they don't act like it.
Israel will have nothing to do with what's good,
and now the enemy is after them. 4-10"They crown kings, but without asking me.
They set up princes but don't let me in on it.
Instead, they make idols, using silver and gold,
idols that will be their ruin.
Throw that gold calf-god on the trash heap, Samaria!
I'm seething with anger against that rubbish!
How long before they shape up?
And they're Israelites!
A sculptor made that thing—
it's not God.
That Samaritan calf
will be broken to bits.
Look at them! Planting wind-seeds,
they'll harvest tornadoes.
Wheat with no head
produces no flour.
And even if it did,
strangers would gulp it down.
Israel is swallowed up and spit out.
Among the pagans they're a piece of junk.
They trotted off to Assyria:
Why, even wild donkeys stick to their own kind,
but donkey-Ephraim goes out and pays to get lovers.
Now, because of their whoring life among the pagans,
I'm going to gather them together and confront them.
They're going to reap the consequences soon,
feel what it's like to be oppressed by the big king.
11-14"Ephraim has built a lot of altars,
and then uses them for sinning.
Can you believe it? Altars for sinning!
I write out my revelation for them in detail
and they pretend they can't read it.
They offer sacrifices to me
and then they feast on the meat.
God is not pleased!
I'm fed up—I'll keep remembering their guilt.
I'll punish their sins
and send them back to Egypt.
Israel has forgotten his Maker
and gotten busy making palaces.
Judah has gone in for a lot of fortress cities.
I'm sending fire on their cities
to burn down their fortifications."
Starved for God1-6 Don't waste your life in wild orgies, Israel. Don't party away your life with the heathen.
You walk away from your God at the drop of a hat
and like a whore sell yourself promiscuously
at every sex-and-religion party on the street.
All that party food won't fill you up.
You'll end up hungrier than ever.
At this rate you'll not last long in God's land:
Some of you are going to end up bankrupt in Egypt.
Some of you will be disillusioned in Assyria.
As refugees in Egypt and Assyria,
you won't have much chance to worship God—
Sentenced to rations of bread and water,
and your souls polluted by the spirit-dirty air.
You'll be starved for God,
exiled from God's own country.
Will you be homesick for the old Holy Days?
Will you miss festival worship of God?
Be warned! When you escape from the frying pan of disaster,
you'll fall into the fire of Egypt.
Egypt will give you a fine funeral!
What use will all your god-inspired silver be then
as you eke out a living in a field of weeds? 7-9 Time's up. Doom's at the doorstep.
Did Israel bluster, "The prophet is crazy!
The 'man of the Spirit' is nuts!"?
Think again. Because of your great guilt,
you're in big trouble.
The prophet is looking out for Ephraim,
working under God's orders.
But everyone is trying to trip him up.
He's hated right in God's house, of all places.
The people are going from bad to worse,
rivaling that ancient and unspeakable crime at Gibeah.
God's keeping track of their guilt.
He'll make them pay for their sins.
They Took to Sin Like a Pig to Filth10-13 "Long ago when I came upon Israel,
it was like finding grapes out in the desert.
When I found your ancestors, it was like finding
a fig tree bearing fruit for the first time.
But when they arrived at Baal-peor, that pagan shrine,
they took to sin like a pig to filth,
wallowing in the mud with their newfound friends.
Ephraim is fickle and scattered, like a flock of blackbirds,
their beauty dissipated in confusion and clamor,
Frenetic and noisy, frigid and barren,
and nothing to show for it—neither conception nor childbirth.
Even if they did give birth, I'd declare them
unfit parents and take away their children!
Yes indeed—a black day for them
when I turn my back and walk off!
I see Ephraim letting his children run wild.
He might just as well take them and kill them outright!" 14Give it to them, God! But what?
Give them a dried-up womb and shriveled breasts.
15-16"All their evil came out into the open
at the pagan shrine at Gilgal. Oh, how I hated them there!
Because of their evil practices,
I'll kick them off my land.
I'm wasting no more love on them.
Their leaders are a bunch of rebellious adolescents.
Ephraim is hit hard—
roots withered, no more fruit.
Even if by some miracle they had children,
the dear babies wouldn't live—I'd make sure of that!"
17My God has washed his hands of them.
They wouldn't listen.
They're doomed to be wanderers,
vagabonds among the godless nations.
3 John 1-14 (The Message)
3 John 11-4The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you! We're the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul! I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth. Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!
Model the Good5-8Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They've made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It's good work you're doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth. 9-10Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel. If I come, you can be sure I'll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us.
As if that weren't bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.
11Friend, don't go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God's work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn't know the first thing about God.
12Everyone has a good word for Demetrius—the Truth itself stands up for Demetrius! We concur, and you know we don't hand out endorsements lightly.
13-14I have a lot more things to tell you, but I'd rather not use pen and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk.
Peace to you. The friends here say hello. Greet our friends there by name.
Psalm 126:1-6 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion's exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn't believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
"God was wonderful to them!"
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.
4-6 And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
Proverbs 29:12-14 (The Message)
12 When a leader listens to malicious gossip,
all the workers get infected with evil.
13 The poor and their abusers have at least something in common:
they can both see—their sight, God's gift!
14 Leadership gains authority and respect
when the voiceless poor are treated fairly.
Verse of the Day
“Jesus then said, ‘I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die.’” - John 11:25
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Irish-born British author and philosopher, Iris Murdoch wrote, “Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.”