Today our passages are Job 1:1–3:26; 1 Corinthians 14:1-17; Psalm 37:12-29; and Proverbs 21:25-26. 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.
Job 1-3:26 (The Message)
Job 11-3 Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East! 4-5 His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, "Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly." Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they'd sinned.
The First Test: Family and Fortune6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, "What have you been up to?" Satan answered God, "Going here and there, checking things out on earth."
8 God said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job? There's no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil."
9-10 Satan retorted, "So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can't lose!
11 "But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to your face, that's what."
12 God replied, "We'll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don't hurt him." Then Satan left the presence of God.
13-15 Sometime later, while Job's children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
16 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
17 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
18-19 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
20 Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:
21 Naked I came from my mother's womb,
naked I'll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God's name be ever blessed.
22 Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.
The Second Test: Health1-3 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan also showed up. God singled out Satan, saying, "And what have you been up to?" Satan answered God, "Oh, going here and there, checking things out." Then God said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job? There's no one quite like him, is there—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn't work." 4-5 Satan answered, "A human would do anything to save his life. But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away his health? He'd curse you to your face, that's what."
6 God said, "All right. Go ahead—you can do what you like with him. But mind you, don't kill him."
7-8 Satan left God and struck Job with terrible sores. Job was ulcers and scabs from head to foot. They itched and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the ashes.
9 His wife said, "Still holding on to your precious integrity, are you? Curse God and be done with it!"
10 He told her, "You're talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days?"
Not once through all this did Job sin. He said nothing against God.
Job's Three Friends11-13 Three of Job's friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn't believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.
Job Cries Out
What's the Point of Life?1-2Then Job broke the silence. He spoke up and cursed his fate:
3-10 "Obliterate the day I was born. Blank out the night I was conceived!
Let it be a black hole in space.
May God above forget it ever happened.
Erase it from the books!
May the day of my birth be buried in deep darkness,
shrouded by the fog,
swallowed by the night.
And the night of my conception—the devil take it!
Rip the date off the calendar,
delete it from the almanac.
Oh, turn that night into pure nothingness—
no sounds of pleasure from that night, ever!
May those who are good at cursing curse that day.
Unleash the sea beast, Leviathan, on it.
May its morning stars turn to black cinders,
waiting for a daylight that never comes,
never once seeing the first light of dawn.
And why? Because it released me from my mother's womb
into a life with so much trouble.
11-19 "Why didn't I die at birth,
my first breath out of the womb my last?
Why were there arms to rock me,
and breasts for me to drink from?
I could be resting in peace right now,
asleep forever, feeling no pain,
In the company of kings and statesmen
in their royal ruins,
Or with princes resplendent
in their gold and silver tombs.
Why wasn't I stillborn and buried
with all the babies who never saw light,
Where the wicked no longer trouble anyone
and bone-weary people get a long-deserved rest?
Prisoners sleep undisturbed,
never again to wake up to the bark of the guards.
The small and the great are equals in that place,
and slaves are free from their masters.
20-23 "Why does God bother giving light to the miserable,
why bother keeping bitter people alive,
Those who want in the worst way to die, and can't,
who can't imagine anything better than death,
Who count the day of their death and burial
the happiest day of their life?
What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense,
when God blocks all the roads to meaning?
24-26 "Instead of bread I get groans for my supper,
then leave the table and vomit my anguish.
The worst of my fears has come true,
what I've dreaded most has happened.
My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed.
No rest for me, ever—death has invaded life."
1 Corinthians 14:1-17 (The Message)
1 Corinthians 14
Prayer Language1-3Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you're letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you. 4-5The one who prays using a private "prayer language" certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God's truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength. I want all of you to develop intimacies with God in prayer, but please don't stop with that. Go on and proclaim his clear truth to others. It's more important that everyone have access to the knowledge and love of God in language everyone understands than that you go off and cultivate God's presence in a mysterious prayer language—unless, of course, there is someone who can interpret what you are saying for the benefit of all.
6-8Think, friends: If I come to you and all I do is pray privately to God in a way only he can understand, what are you going to get out of that? If I don't address you plainly with some insight or truth or proclamation or teaching, what help am I to you? If musical instruments—flutes, say, or harps—aren't played so that each note is distinct and in tune, how will anyone be able to catch the melody and enjoy the music? If the trumpet call can't be distinguished, will anyone show up for the battle?
9-12So if you speak in a way no one can understand, what's the point of opening your mouth? There are many languages in the world and they all mean something to someone. But if I don't understand the language, it's not going to do me much good. It's no different with you. Since you're so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don't you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?
13-17So, when you pray in your private prayer language, don't hoard the experience for yourself. Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy. If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays but my mind lies fallow, and all that intelligence is wasted. So what's the solution? The answer is simple enough. Do both. I should be spiritually free and expressive as I pray, but I should also be thoughtful and mindful as I pray. I should sing with my spirit, and sing with my mind. If you give a blessing using your private prayer language, which no one else understands, how can some outsider who has just shown up and has no idea what's going on know when to say "Amen"? Your blessing might be beautiful, but you have very effectively cut that person out of it.
Psalm 37:12-29 (The Message)
12-13 Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn't losing any sleep; to him
they're a joke with no punch line.
14-15 Bullies brandish their swords,
pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They're out to beat up on the harmless,
or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—
slapstick figures in a moral circus.
16-17 Less is more and more is less.
One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
but the righteous are God-strong.
18-19 God keeps track of the decent folk;
what they do won't soon be forgotten.
In hard times, they'll hold their heads high;
when the shelves are bare, they'll be full.
20 God-despisers have had it;
God's enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,
vanished like smoke in thin air.
21-22 Wicked borrows and never returns;
Righteous gives and gives.
Generous gets it all in the end;
Stingy is cut off at the pass.
23-24 Stalwart walks in step with God;
his path blazed by God, he's happy.
If he stumbles, he's not down for long;
God has a grip on his hand.
25-26 I once was young, now I'm a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he's out giving and lending,
his children making him proud.
27-28 Turn your back on evil,
work for the good and don't quit.
God loves this kind of thing,
never turns away from his friends.
28-29 Live this way and you've got it made,
but bad eggs will be tossed out.
The good get planted on good land
and put down healthy roots.
Proverbs 21:25-26 (The Message)
25 Lazy people finally die of hunger
because they won't get up and go to work.
26 Sinners are always wanting what they don't have;
the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.
Verse of the Day
“Every day, you are kind, and at night you give me a song as my prayer to you, the living LORD God.” - Psalm 42:8
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American writer and illustrator best known for authoring popular children's books under the pen name Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote, “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”