Today our passages are Deuteronomy 28:1-68; Luke 11:14-36; Psalm 77:1-20; and Proverbs 12:18. 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 28:1-68 (The Message)
Deuteronomy 281-6 If you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, and heartily obey all his commandments that I command you today, God, your God, will place you on high, high above all the nations of the world. All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of God, your God:
God's blessing inside the city,
God's blessing in the country;
God's blessing on your children,
the crops of your land,
the young of your livestock,
the calves of your herds,
the lambs of your flocks.
God's blessing on your basket and bread bowl;
God's blessing in your coming in,
God's blessing in your going out. 7 God will defeat your enemies who attack you. They'll come at you on one road and run away on seven roads.
8 God will order a blessing on your barns and workplaces; he'll bless you in the land that God, your God, is giving you.
9 God will form you as a people holy to him, just as he promised you, if you keep the commandments of God, your God, and live the way he has shown you.
10 All the peoples on Earth will see you living under the Name of God and hold you in respectful awe.
11-14 God will lavish you with good things: children from your womb, offspring from your animals, and crops from your land, the land that God promised your ancestors that he would give you. God will throw open the doors of his sky vaults and pour rain on your land on schedule and bless the work you take in hand. You will lend to many nations but you yourself won't have to take out a loan. God will make you the head, not the tail; you'll always be the top dog, never the bottom dog, as you obediently listen to and diligently keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you today. Don't swerve an inch to the right or left from the words that I command you today by going off following and worshiping other gods.
15-19 Here's what will happen if you don't obediently listen to the Voice of God, your God, and diligently keep all the commandments and guidelines that I'm commanding you today. All these curses will come down hard on you:
God's curse in the city,
God's curse in the country;
God's curse on your basket and bread bowl;
God's curse on your children,
the crops of your land,
the young of your livestock,
the calves of your herds,
the lambs of your flocks.
God's curse in your coming in,
God's curse in your going out.
20 God will send The Curse, The Confusion, The Contrariness down on everything you try to do until you've been destroyed and there's nothing left of you—all because of your evil pursuits that led you to abandon me.
21 God will infect you with The Disease, wiping you right off the land that you're going in to possess.
22 God will set consumption and fever and rash and seizures and dehydration and blight and jaundice on you. They'll hunt you down until they kill you.
23-24 The sky over your head will become an iron roof, the ground under your feet, a slab of concrete. From out of the skies God will rain ash and dust down on you until you suffocate.
25-26 God will defeat you by enemy attack. You'll come at your enemies on one road and run away on seven roads. All the kingdoms of Earth will see you as a horror. Carrion birds and animals will boldly feast on your dead body with no one to chase them away.
27-29 God will hit you hard with the boils of Egypt, hemorrhoids, scabs, and a n incurable itch. He'll make you go crazy and blind and senile. You'll grope around in the middle of the day like a blind person feeling his way through a lifetime of darkness; you'll never get to where you're going. Not a day will go by that you're not abused and robbed. And no one is going to help you.
30-31 You'll get engaged to a woman and another man will take her for his mistress; you'll build a house and never live in it; you'll plant a garden and never eat so much as a carrot; you'll watch your ox get butchered and not get a single steak from it; your donkey will be stolen from in front of you and you'll never see it again; your sheep will be sent off to your enemies and no one will lift a hand to help you.
32-34 Your sons and daughters will be shipped off to foreigners; you'll wear your eyes out looking vainly for them, helpless to do a thing. Your crops and everything you work for will be eaten and used by foreigners; you'll spend the rest of your lives abused and knocked around. What you see will drive you crazy.
35 God will hit you with painful boils on your knees and legs and no healing or relief from head to foot.
36-37 God will lead you and the king you set over you to a country neither you nor your ancestors have heard of; there you'll worship other gods, no-gods of wood and stone. Among all the peoples where God will take you, you'll be treated as a lesson or a proverb—a horror!
38-42 You'll plant sacks and sacks of seed in the field but get almost nothing— the grasshoppers will devour it. You'll plant and hoe and prune vineyards but won't drink or put up any wine—the worms will devour them. You'll have groves of olive trees everywhere, but you'll have no oil to rub on your face or hands—the olives will have fallen off. You'll have sons and daughters but they won't be yours for long—they'll go off to captivity. Locusts will take over all your trees and crops.
43-44 The foreigner who lives among you will climb the ladder, higher and higher, while you go deeper and deeper into the hole. He'll lend to you; you won't lend to him. He'll be the head; you'll be the tail.
45-46 All these curses are going to come on you. They're going to hunt you down and get you until there's nothing left of you because you didn't obediently listen to the Voice of God, your God, and diligently keep his commandments and guidelines that I commanded you. The curses will serve as signposts, warnings to your children ever after.
47-48 Because you didn't serve God, your God, out of the joy and goodness of your heart in the great abundance, you'll have to serve your enemies whom God will send against you. Life will be famine and drought, rags and wretchedness; then he'll put an iron yoke on your neck until he's destroyed you.
48-52 Yes, God will raise up a faraway nation against you, swooping down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you can't understand, a mean-faced people, cruel to grandmothers and babies alike. They'll ravage the young of your animals and the crops from your fields until you're destroyed. They'll leave nothing behind: no grain, no wine, no oil, no calves, no lambs—and finally, no you. They'll lay siege to you while you're huddled behind your town gates. They'll knock those high, proud walls flat, those walls behind which you felt so safe. They'll lay siege to your fortified cities all over the country, this country that God, your God, has given you.
53-55 And you'll end up cannibalizing your own sons and daughters that God, your God, has given you. When the suffering from the siege gets extreme, you're going to eat your own babies. The most gentle and caring man among you will turn hard, his eye evil, against his own brother, his cherished wife, and even the rest of his children who are still alive, refusing to share with them a scrap of meat from the cannibal child-stew he is eating. He's lost everything, even his humanity, in the suffering of the siege that your enemy mounts against your fortified towns.
56-57 And the most gentle and caring woman among you, a woman who wouldn't step on a wildflower, will turn hard, her eye evil, against her cherished husband, against her son, against her daughter, against even the afterbirth of her newborn infants; she plans to eat them in secret—she does eat them!—because she has lost everything, even her humanity, in the suffering of the siege that your enemy mounts against your fortified towns.
58-61 If you don't diligently keep all the words of this Revelation written in this book, living in holy awe before This Name glorious and terrible, God, your God, then God will pound you with catastrophes, you and your children, huge interminable catastrophes, hideous interminable illnesses. He'll bring back and stick you with every old Egyptian malady that once terrorized you. And yes, every disease and catastrophe imaginable—things not even written in the Book of this Revelation—God will bring on you until you're destroyed.
62 Because you didn't listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, you'll be left with a few pitiful stragglers in place of the dazzling stars-in-the-heavens multitude you had become.
63-66 And this is how things will end up: Just as God once enjoyed you, took pleasure in making life good for you, giving you many children, so God will enjoy getting rid of you, clearing you off the Earth. He'll weed you out of the very soil that you are entering in to possess. He'll scatter you to the four winds, from one end of the Earth to the other. You'll worship all kinds of other gods, gods neither you nor your parents ever heard of, wood and stone no-gods. But you won't find a home there, you'll not be able to settle down. God will give you a restless heart, longing eyes, a homesick soul. You will live in constant jeopardy, terrified of every shadow, never knowing what you'll meet around the next corner.
67 In the morning you'll say, "I wish it were evening." In the evening you'll say, "I wish it were morning." Afraid, terrorized at what's coming next, afraid of the unknown, because of the sights you've witnessed.
68 God will ship you back to Egypt by a road I promised you'd never see again. There you'll offer yourselves for sale, both men and women, as slaves to your enemies. And not a buyer to be found.
Luke 11:14-36 (The Message)
No Neutral Ground
14-16Jesus delivered a man from a demon that had kept him speechless. The demon gone, the man started talking a blue streak, taking the crowd by complete surprise. But some from the crowd were cynical. "Black magic," they said. "Some devil trick he's pulled from his sleeve." Others were skeptical, waiting around for him to prove himself with a spectacular miracle.
17-20Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, "Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, but if you're slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn't the same mud stick to your own exorcists? But if it's God's finger I'm pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God's kingdom is here for sure.
21-22"When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he's beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered.
23"This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you're not on my side, you're the enemy; if you're not helping, you're making things worse.
24-26"When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn't find anyone, it says, 'I'll go back to my old haunt.' On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he'd never gotten cleaned up in the first place."
27While he was saying these things, some woman lifted her voice above the murmur of the crowd: "Blessed the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!"
28Jesus commented, "Even more blessed are those who hear God's Word and guard it with their lives!"
Keep Your Eyes Open
29-30As the crowd swelled, he took a fresh tack: "The mood of this age is all wrong. Everybody's looking for proof, but you're looking for the wrong kind. All you're looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. But the only proof you're going to get is the Jonah-proof given to the Ninevites, which looks like no proof at all. What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age.
32-31"On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about 'proofs.' On Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that condemns this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon's is right in front of you, and you quibble over 'evidence.'
33-36"No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It's put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they're going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room."
Psalm 77:1-20 (The Message)
An Asaph Psalm1 I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.
2-6 I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal.
When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right,"
I didn't believe a word they said.
I remember God—and shake my head.
I bow my head—then wring my hands.
I'm awake all night—not a wink of sleep;
I can't even say what's bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.
7-10 Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
"Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business
just the moment I need him."
11-12 Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
13-15 O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You're the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.
16-19 Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go.
20 Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron,
You led your people like a flock of sheep.
Proverbs 12:18 (The Message)
18 Rash language cuts and maims,
but there is healing in the words of the wise.
Verse of the Day
“We are ruled by Christ's love for us. We are certain that if one person died for everyone else, then all of us have died. And Christ did die for all of us. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for the one who died and was raised to life for us.” - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor, and film producer, Walt Disney wrote, “When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”