Today our passages are Deuteronomy 11:1–12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 12:4. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. 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.
Deuteronomy 11-12:32 (The Message)
Deuteronomy 111So love God, your God; guard well his rules and regulations; obey his commandments for the rest of time. 2-7 Today it's very clear that it isn't your children who are front and center here: They weren't in on what God did, didn't see the acts, didn't experience the discipline, didn't marvel at his greatness, the way he displayed his power in the miracle-signs and deeds that he let loose in Egypt on Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land, the way he took care of the Egyptian army, its horses and chariots, burying them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you. God drowned them. And you're standing here today alive. Nor was it your children who saw how God took care of you in the wilderness up until the time you arrived here, what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab son of Reuben, how the Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them with their families—their tents, and everything around them—right out of the middle of Israel. Yes, it was you—your eyes—that saw every great thing that God did.
8-9 So it's you who are in charge of keeping the entire commandment that I command you today so that you'll have the strength to invade and possess the land that you are crossing the river to make your own. Your obedience will give you a long life on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors and their children, a land flowing with milk and honey.
10-12 The land you are entering to take up ownership isn't like Egypt, the land you left, where you had to plant your own seed and water it yourselves as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are about to cross the river and take for your own is a land of mountains and valleys; it drinks water that rains from the sky. It's a land that God, your God, personally tends—he's the gardener—he alone keeps his eye on it all year long.
13-15 From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he'll take charge of sending the rain at the right time, both autumn and spring rains, so that you'll be able to harvest your grain, your grapes, your olives. He'll make sure there's plenty of grass for your animals. You'll have plenty to eat.
16-17 But be vigilant, lest you be seduced away and end up serving and worshiping other gods and God erupts in anger and shuts down Heaven so there's no rain and nothing grows in the fields, and in no time at all you're starved out—not a trace of you left on the good land that God is giving you.
18-21 Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you'll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.
22-25 That's right. If you diligently keep all this commandment that I command you to obey—love God, your God, do what he tells you, stick close to him—God on his part will drive out all these nations that stand in your way. Yes, he'll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than you. Every square inch on which you place your foot will be yours. Your borders will stretch from the wilderness to the mountains of Lebanon, from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand in your way. Everywhere you go, God-sent fear and trembling will precede you, just as he promised.
26 I've brought you today to the crossroads of Blessing and Curse.
27 The Blessing: if you listen obediently to the commandments of God, your God, which I command you today.
28 The Curse: if you don't pay attention to the commandments of God, your God, but leave the road that I command you today, following other gods of which you know nothing.
29-30 Here's what comes next: When God, your God, brings you into the land you are going into to make your own, you are to give out the Blessing from Mount Gerizim and the Curse from Mount Ebal. After you cross the Jordan River, follow the road to the west through Canaanite settlements in the valley near Gilgal and the Oaks of Moreh.
31-32 You are crossing the Jordan River to invade and take the land that God, your God, is giving you. Be vigilant. Observe all the regulations and rules I am setting before you today.
Deuteronomy 121 These are the rules and regulations that you must diligently observe for as long as you live in this country that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, has given you to possess. 2-3 Ruthlessly demolish all the sacred shrines where the nations that you're driving out worship their gods—wherever you find them, on hills and mountains or in groves of green trees. Tear apart their altars. Smash their phallic pillars. Burn their sex-and-religion Asherah shrines. Break up their carved gods. Obliterate the names of those god sites.
4 Stay clear of those places—don't let what went on there contaminate the worship of God, your God.
5-7 Instead find the site that God, your God, will choose and mark it with his name as a common center for all the tribes of Israel. Assemble there. Bring to that place your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and Tribute-Offerings, your Vow-Offerings, your Freewill-Offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. Feast there in the Presence of God, your God. Celebrate everything that you and your families have accomplished under the blessing of God, your God.
8-10 Don't continue doing things the way we're doing them at present, each of us doing as we wish. Until now you haven't arrived at the goal, the resting place, the inheritance that God, your God, is giving you. But the minute you cross the Jordan River and settle into the land God, your God, is enabling you to inherit, he'll give you rest from all your surrounding enemies. You'll be able to settle down and live in safety.
11-12 From then on, at the place that God, your God, chooses to mark with his name as the place where you can meet him, bring everything that I command you: your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, tithes and Tribute-Offerings, and the best of your Vow-Offerings that you vow to God. Celebrate there in the Presence of God, your God, you and your sons and daughters, your servants and maids, including the Levite living in your neighborhood because he has no place of his own in your inheritance.
13-14 Be extra careful: Don't offer your Absolution-Offerings just any place that strikes your fancy. Offer your Absolution-Offerings only in the place that God chooses in one of your tribal regions. There and only there are you to bring all that I command you.
15 It's permissible to slaughter your nonsacrificial animals like gazelle and deer in your towns and eat all you want from them with the blessing of God, your God. Both the ritually clean and unclean may eat.
16-18 But you may not eat the blood. Pour the blood out on the ground like water. Nor may you eat there the tithe of your grain, new wine, or olive oil; nor the firstborn of your herds and flocks; nor any of the Vow-Offerings that you vow; nor your Freewill-Offerings and Tribute-Offerings. All these you must eat in the Presence of God, your God, in the place God, your God, chooses—you, your son and daughter, your servant and maid, and the Levite who lives in your neighborhood. You are to celebrate in the Presence of God, your God, all the things you've been able to accomplish.
19 And make sure that for as long as you live on your land you never, never neglect the Levite.
20-22 When God, your God, expands your territory as he promised he would do, and you say, "I'm hungry for meat," because you happen to be craving meat at the time, go ahead and eat as much meat as you want. If you're too far away from the place that God, your God, has marked with his name, it's all right to slaughter animals from your herds and flocks that God has given you, as I've commanded you. In your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. Just as the nonsacrificial animals like the gazelle and deer are eaten, you may eat them; the ritually unclean and clean may eat them at the same table.
23-25 Only this: Absolutely no blood. Don't eat the blood. Blood is life; don't eat the life with the meat. Don't eat it; pour it out on the ground like water. Don't eat it; then you'll have a good life, you and your children after you. By all means, do the right thing in God's eyes.
26-27 And this: Lift high your Holy-Offerings and your Vow-Offerings and bring them to the place God designates. Sacrifice your Absolution-Offerings, the meat and blood, on the Altar of God, your God; pour out the blood of the Absolution-Offering on the Altar of God, your God; then you can go ahead and eat the meat.
28 Be vigilant, listen obediently to these words that I command you so that you'll have a good life, you and your children, for a long, long time, doing what is good and right in the eyes of God, your God.
29-31 When God, your God, cuts off the nations whose land you are invading, shoves them out of your way so that you displace them and settle in their land, be careful that you don't get curious about them after they've been destroyed before you. Don't get fascinated with their gods, thinking, "I wonder what it was like for them, worshiping their gods. I'd like to try that myself." Don't do this to God, your God. They commit every imaginable abomination with their gods. God hates it all with a passion. Why, they even set their children on fire as offerings to their gods!
32 Diligently do everything I command you, the way I command you: don't add to it; don't subtract from it.
Luke 8:22-39 (The Message)
22-24One day he and his disciples got in a boat. "Let's cross the lake," he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
Getting to his feet, he told the wind, "Silence!" and the waves, "Quiet down!" They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.
25Then he said to his disciples, "Why can't you trust me?"
They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, "Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!"
The Madman and the Pigs
26-29They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. As he stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn't worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. When he saw Jesus he screamed, fell before him, and bellowed, "What business do you have messing with me? You're Jesus, Son of the High God, but don't give me a hard time!" (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.
30-31Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"
"Mob. My name is Mob," he said, because many demons afflicted him. And they begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit.
32-33A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned.
34-36Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved.
37-39Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave—too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him.
Psalm 70:1-5 (The Message)
A David Prayer1-3 God! Please hurry to my rescue! God, come quickly to my side!
Those who are out to get me—
let them fall all over themselves.
Those who relish my downfall—
send them down a blind alley.
Give them a taste of their own medicine,
those gossips off clucking their tongues.
4 Let those on the hunt for you
sing and celebrate.
Let all who love your saving way
say over and over, "God is mighty!"
5 But I've lost it. I'm wasted.
Quick to my side, quick to my rescue!
God, don't lose a minute.
Proverbs 12:4 (The Message)
4 A hearty wife invigorates her husband,
but a frigid woman is cancer in the bones.
Verse of the Day
“Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American author best known for his inspirational book, Life's Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Wrote, “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”