Today our passages are Leviticus 22:17–23:44; Mark 9:30–10:12; Psalm 44:1-8; and Proverbs 10:19. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Leviticus 22:17-23:44 (The Message)
17-25 God spoke to Moses: "Tell Aaron and his sons and all the People of Israel, Each and every one of you, whether native born or foreigner, who presents a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God to fulfill a vow or as a Freewill-Offering, must make sure that it is a male without defect from cattle, sheep, or goats for it to be acceptable. Don't try slipping in some creature that has a defect—it won't be accepted. Whenever anyone brings an offering from cattle or sheep as a Peace-Offering to God to fulfill a vow or as a Freewill-Offering, it has to be perfect, without defect, to be acceptable. Don't try giving God an animal that is blind, crippled, mutilated, an animal with running sores, a rash, or mange. Don't place any of these on the Altar as a gift to God. You may, though, offer an ox or sheep that is deformed or stunted as a Freewill-Offering, but it is not acceptable in fulfilling a vow. Don't offer to God an animal with bruised, crushed, torn, or cut-off testicles. Don't do this in your own land but don't accept them from foreigners and present them as food for your God either. Because of deformities and defects they will not be acceptable."
26-30 God spoke to Moses: "When a calf or lamb or goat is born, it is to stay with its mother for seven days. After the eighth day, it is acceptable as an offering, a gift to God. Don't slaughter both a cow or ewe and its young on the same day. When you sacrifice a Thanksgiving-Offering to God, do it right so it will be acceptable. Eat it on the same day; don't leave any leftovers until morning. I am God.
31 "Do what I tell you; live what I tell you. I am God.
32-33 "Don't desecrate my holy name. I insist on being treated with holy reverence among the People of Israel. I am God who makes you holy and brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am God."
The Feasts1-2 God spoke to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of God which you are to decree as sacred assemblies. 3 "Work six days. The seventh day is a Sabbath, a day of total and complete rest, a sacred assembly. Don't do any work. Wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to God.
4 "These are the appointed feasts of God, the sacred assemblies which you are to announce at the times set for them:
5 "God's Passover, beginning at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month.
6-8 "God's Feast of Unraised Bread, on the fifteenth day of this same month. You are to eat unraised bread for seven days. Hold a sacred assembly on the first day; don't do any regular work. Offer Fire-Gifts to God for seven days. On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly; don't do any regular work."
9-14 God spoke to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, When you arrive at the land that I am giving you and reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain that you harvest. He will wave the sheaf before God for acceptance on your behalf; on the morning after Sabbath, the priest will wave it. On the same day that you wave the sheaf, offer a year-old male lamb without defect for a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God and with it the Grain-Offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil—a Fire-Gift to God, a pleasing fragrance—and also a Drink-Offering of a quart of wine. Don't eat any bread or roasted or fresh grain until you have presented this offering to your God. This is a perpetual decree for all your generations to come, wherever you live.
15-21 "Count seven full weeks from the morning after the Sabbath when you brought the sheaf as a Wave-Offering, fifty days until the morning of the seventh Sabbath. Then present a new Grain-Offering to God. Bring from wherever you are living two loaves of bread made from four quarts of fine flour and baked with yeast as a Wave-Offering of the first ripe grain to God. In addition to the bread, offer seven yearling male lambs without defect, plus one bull and two rams. They will be a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God together with their Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings—offered as Fire-Gifts, a pleasing fragrance to God. Offer one male goat for an Absolution-Offering and two yearling lambs for a Peace-Offering. The priest will wave the two lambs before God as a Wave-Offering, together with the bread of the first ripe grain. They are sacred offerings to God for the priest. Proclaim the day as a sacred assembly. Don't do any ordinary work. It is a perpetual decree wherever you live down through your generations.
22 "When you reap the harvest of your land, don't reap the corners of your field or gather the gleanings. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners. I am God, your God."
23-25 God said to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, On the first day of the seventh month, set aside a day of rest, a sacred assembly—mark it with loud blasts on the ram's horn. Don't do any ordinary work. Offer a Fire-Gift to God."
26-32 God said to Moses: "The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly, fast, and offer a Fire-Gift to God. Don't work on that day because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for you before your God. Anyone who doesn't fast on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who works on that day. Don't do any work that day—none. This is a perpetual decree for all the generations to come, wherever you happen to be living. It is a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a fast day. Observe your Sabbath from the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening."
33-36 God said to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, God's Feast of Booths begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. It lasts seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; don't do any ordinary work. Offer Fire-Gifts to God for seven days. On the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and offer a gift to God. It is a solemn convocation. Don't do any ordinary work.
37-38 "These are the appointed feasts of God which you will decree as sacred assemblies for presenting Fire-Gifts to God: the Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, sacrifices, and Drink-Offerings assigned to each day. These are in addition to offerings for God's Sabbaths and also in addition to other gifts connected with whatever you have vowed and all the Freewill-Offerings you give to God.
39-43 "So, summing up: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have brought your crops in from your fields, celebrate the Feast of God for seven days. The first day is a complete rest and the eighth day is a complete rest. On the first day, pick the best fruit from the best trees; take fronds of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and from willows by the brook and celebrate in the presence of your God for seven days—yes, for seven full days celebrate it as a festival to God. Every year from now on, celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days—every son and daughter of Israel is to move into booths so that your descendants will know that I made the People of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am God, your God."
44 Moses posted the calendar for the annual appointed feasts of God which Israel was to celebrate.
Mark 9:30-10:12 (The Message)
30-32Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn't want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive." They didn't know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.
So You Want First Place?
33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, "What were you discussing on the road?"
34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. "So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all."
36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, "Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me."
38John spoke up, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group."
39-41Jesus wasn't pleased. "Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
42"On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
43-48"If your hand or your foot gets in God's way, chop it off and throw it away. You're better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You're better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
49-50"Everyone's going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you'll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace."
1-2 From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, "Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?"
3Jesus said, "What did Moses command?"
4They answered, "Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her."
5-9Jesus said, "Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart."
10-12When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: "A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery."
Psalm 44:1-8 (The Message)
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah1-3 We've been hearing about this, God, all our lives.
Our fathers told us the stories
their fathers told them,
How single-handedly you weeded out the godless
from the fields and planted us,
How you sent those people packing
but gave us a fresh start.
We didn't fight for this land;
we didn't work for it—it was a gift!
You gave it, smiling as you gave it,
delighting as you gave it.
4-8 You're my King, O God—
command victories for Jacob!
With your help we'll wipe out our enemies,
in your name we'll stomp them to dust.
I don't trust in weapons;
my sword won't save me—
But it's you, you who saved us from the enemy;
you made those who hate us lose face.
All day we parade God's praise—
we thank you by name over and over.
Proverbs 10:19 (The Message)
19 The more talk, the less truth;
the wise measure their words.
Thought for the Day
Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, Viktor E. Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”