Today our passages are Deuteronomy 13:1–15:23; Luke 8:40–9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; and Proverbs 12:5-7. 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 13-15:23 (The Message)
Deuteronomy 131-4 When a prophet or visionary gets up in your community and
gives out a miracle-sign or wonder, and the miracle-sign or wonder that he gave out happens and he says, "Let's follow other gods" (these are gods you know nothing about), "let's worship them," don't pay any attention to what that prophet or visionary says. God, your God, is testing you to find out if you totally love him with everything you have in you. You are to follow only God, your God, hold him in deep reverence, keep his commandments, listen obediently to what he says, serve him—hold on to him for dear life! 5 And that prophet or visionary must be put to death. He has urged mutiny against God, your God, who rescued you from Egypt, who redeemed you from a world of slavery and put you on the road on which God, your God, has commanded you to walk. Purge the evil from your company.
6-10 And when your brother or son or daughter, or even your dear wife or lifelong friend, comes to you in secret and whispers, "Let's go and worship some other gods" (gods that you know nothing about, neither you nor your ancestors, the gods of the peoples around you near and far, from one end of the Earth to the other), don't go along with him; shut your ears. Don't feel sorry for him and don't make excuses for him. Kill him. That's right, kill him. You throw the first stone. Take action at once and swiftly with everybody in the community getting in on it at the end. Stone him with stones so that he dies. He tried to turn you traitor against God, your God, the one who got you out of Egypt and the world of slavery.
11 Every man, woman, and child in Israel will hear what's been done and be in awe. No one will dare to do an evil thing like this again.
12-17 When word comes in from one of your cities that God, your God, is giving you to live in, reporting that evil men have gotten together with some of the citizens of the city and have broken away, saying, "Let's go and worship other gods" (gods you know nothing about), then you must conduct a careful examination. Ask questions, investigate. If it turns out that the report is true and this abomination did in fact take place in your community, you must execute the citizens of that town. Kill them, setting that city apart for holy destruction: the city and everything in it including its animals. Gather the plunder in the middle of the town square and burn it all—town and plunder together up in smoke, a holy sacrifice to God, your God. Leave it there, ashes and ruins. Don't build on that site again. And don't let any of the plunder devoted to holy destruction stick to your fingers. Get rid of it so that God may turn from anger to compassion, generously making you prosper, just as he promised your ancestors.
18 Yes. Obediently listen to God, your God. Keep all his commands that I am giving you today. Do the right thing in the eyes of God, your God.
Deuteronomy 141-2 You are children of God, your God, so don't mutilate your bodies or shave your heads in funeral rites for the dead. You only are a people holy to God, your God; God chose you out of all the people on Earth as his cherished personal treasure. 3-8 Don't eat anything abominable. These are the animals you may eat: ox, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, roebuck, wild goat, ibex, antelope, mountain sheep—any animal that has a cloven hoof and chews the cud. But you may not eat camels, rabbits, and rock badgers because they chew the cud but they don't have a cloven hoof—that makes them ritually unclean. And pigs: Don't eat pigs—they have a cloven hoof but don't chew the cud, which makes them ritually unclean. Don't even touch a pig's carcass.
9-10 This is what you may eat from the water: anything that has fins and scales. But if it doesn't have fins or scales, you may not eat it. It's ritually unclean.
11-18 You may eat any ritually clean bird. These are the exceptions, so don't eat these: eagle, vulture, black vulture, kite, falcon, the buzzard family, the raven family, ostrich, nighthawk, the hawk family, little owl, great owl, white owl, pelican, osprey, cormorant, stork, the heron family, hoopoe, bat.
19-20 Winged insects are ritually unclean; don't eat them. But ritually clean winged creatures are permitted.
21 Because you are a people holy to God, your God, don't eat anything that you find dead. You can, though, give it to a foreigner in your neighborhood for a meal or sell it to a foreigner.
Don't boil a kid in its mother's milk.
22-26 Make an offering of ten percent, a tithe, of all the produce which grows in your fields year after year. Bring this into the Presence of God, your God, at the place he designates for worship and there eat the tithe from your grain, wine, and oil and the firstborn from your herds and flocks. In this way you will learn to live in deep reverence before God, your God, as long as you live. But if the place God, your God, designates for worship is too far away and you can't carry your tithe that far, God, your God, will still bless you: exchange your tithe for money and take the money to the place God, your God, has chosen to be worshiped. Use the money to buy anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, or beer—anything that looks good to you. You and your family can then feast in the Presence of God, your God, and have a good time.
27 Meanwhile, don't forget to take good care of the Levites who live in your towns; they won't get any property or inheritance of their own as you will.
28-29 At the end of every third year, gather the tithe from all your produce of that year and put it aside in storage. Keep it in reserve for the Levite who won't get any property or inheritance as you will, and for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow who live in your neighborhood. That way they'll have plenty to eat and God, your God, will bless you in all your work.
Deuteronomy 151-3 At the end of every seventh year, cancel all debts. This is the procedure: Everyone who has lent money to a neighbor writes it off. You must not press your neighbor or his brother for payment: All-Debts-Are-Canceled—God says so. You may collect payment from foreigners, but whatever you have lent to your fellow Israelite you must write off. 4-6 There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. Oh yes—God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won't borrow from any; you'll rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
7-9 When you happen on someone who's in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don't look the other way pretending you don't see him. Don't keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don't count the cost. Don't listen to that selfish voice saying, "It's almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled," and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He'll call God's attention to you and your blatant sin.
10-11 Give freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God's, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.
12-15 If a Hebrew man or Hebrew woman was sold to you and has served you for six years, in the seventh year you must set him or her free, released into a free life. And when you set them free don't send them off empty-handed. Provide them with some animals, plenty of bread and wine and oil. Load them with provisions from all the blessings with which God, your God, has blessed you. Don't for a minute forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and God, your God, redeemed you from that slave world.
For that reason, this day I command you to do this.
16-17 But if your slave, because he loves you and your family and has a good life with you, says, "I don't want to leave you," then take an awl and pierce through his earlobe into the doorpost, marking him as your slave forever. Do the same with your women slaves who want to stay with you.
18 Don't consider this an unreasonable hardship, this setting your slave free. After all, he's worked six years for you at half the cost of a hired hand.
Believe me, God, your God, will bless you in everything you do.
19-23 Consecrate to God, your God, all the firstborn males in your herds and flocks. Don't use the firstborn from your herds as work animals; don't shear the firstborn from your flocks. These are for you to eat every year, you and your family, in the Presence of God, your God, at the place that God designates for worship. If the animal is defective, lame, say, or blind—anything wrong with it—don't slaughter it as a sacrifice to God, your God. Stay at home and eat it there. Both the ritually clean and unclean may eat it, the same as with a gazelle or a deer. Only you must not eat its blood. Pour the blood out on the ground like water.
Luke 8:40-9:6 (The Message)
40-42On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him. A man came up, Jairus by name. He was president of the meeting place. He fell at Jesus' feet and begged him to come to his home because his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, was dying. Jesus went with him, making his way through the pushing, jostling crowd.
43-45In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus' robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, "Who touched me?"
When no one stepped forward, Peter said, "But Master, we've got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you."
46Jesus insisted, "Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me."
47When the woman realized that she couldn't remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.
48Jesus said, "Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!"
49While he was still talking, someone from the leader's house came up and told him, "Your daughter died. No need now to bother the Teacher."
50-51Jesus overheard and said, "Don't be upset. Just trust me and everything will be all right." Going into the house, he wouldn't let anyone enter with him except Peter, John, James, and the child's parents.
52-53Everyone was crying and carrying on over her. Jesus said, "Don't cry. She didn't die; she's sleeping." They laughed at him. They knew she was dead.
54-56Then Jesus, gripping her hand, called, "My dear child, get up." She was up in an instant, up and breathing again! He told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were ecstatic, but Jesus warned them to keep quiet. "Don't tell a soul what happened in this room."
Keep It Simple
1-5Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God's kingdom and heal the sick. He said, "Don't load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you're not welcomed, leave town. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on."
6Commissioned, they left. They traveled from town to town telling the latest news of God, the Message, and curing people everywhere they went.
Psalm 71:1-24 (The Message)
Do what you do so well:
get me out of this mess and up on my feet.
Put your ear to the ground and listen,
give me space for salvation.
Be a guest room where I can retreat;
you said your door was always open!
You're my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.
4-7 My God, free me from the grip of Wicked,
from the clutch of Bad and Bully.
You keep me going when times are tough—
my bedrock, God, since my childhood.
I've hung on you from the day of my birth,
the day you took me from the cradle;
I'll never run out of praise.
Many gasp in alarm when they see me,
but you take me in stride.
8-11 Just as each day brims with your beauty,
my mouth brims with praise.
But don't turn me out to pasture when I'm old
or put me on the shelf when I can't pull my weight.
My enemies are talking behind my back,
watching for their chance to knife me.
The gossip is: "God has abandoned him.
Pounce on him now; no one will help him."
12-16 God, don't just watch from the sidelines.
Come on! Run to my side!
My accusers—make them lose face.
Those out to get me—make them look
Like idiots, while I stretch out, reaching for you,
and daily add praise to praise.
I'll write the book on your righteousness,
talk up your salvation the livelong day,
never run out of good things to write or say.
I come in the power of the Lord God,
I post signs marking his right-of-way.
17-24 You got me when I was an unformed youth,
God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I'm telling the world your wonders;
I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray.
God, don't walk off and leave me
until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
news of your power to the world yet to come,
Your famous and righteous
ways, O God.
God, you've done it all!
Who is quite like you?
You, who made me stare trouble in the face,
Turn me around;
Now let me look life in the face.
I've been to the bottom;
Bring me up, streaming with honors;
turn to me, be tender to me,
And I'll take up the lute and thank you
to the tune of your faithfulness, God.
I'll make music for you on a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
When I open up in song to you,
I let out lungsful of praise,
my rescued life a song.
All day long I'm chanting
about you and your righteous ways,
While those who tried to do me in
slink off looking ashamed.
Proverbs 12:5-7 (The Message)
5 The thinking of principled people makes for justice;
the plots of degenerates corrupt.
6 The words of the wicked kill;
the speech of the upright saves.
7 Wicked people fall to pieces—there's nothing to them;
the homes of good people hold together.
Verse of the Day
“He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, "He is a nobody!" He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought his suffering was punishment from God.” - Isaiah 53:3-4
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
19th-century American humorist, Josh Billings wrote, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”