Today our passages are Job 12:1–15:35; 1 Corinthians 15:29-58; Psalm 39:1-13; and Proverbs 21:30-31. 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 16-19:29 (The Message)
Job Defends Himself
If You Were in My Shoes1-5 Then Job defended himself:
"I've had all I can take of your talk.
What a bunch of miserable comforters!
Is there no end to your windbag speeches?
What's your problem that you go on and on like this?
If you were in my shoes,
I could talk just like you.
I could put together a terrific harangue
and really let you have it.
But I'd never do that. I'd console and comfort,
make things better, not worse!
6-14 "When I speak up, I feel no better;
if I say nothing, that doesn't help either.
I feel worn down.
God, you have wasted me totally—me and my family!
You've shriveled me like a dried prune,
showing the world that you're against me.
My gaunt face stares back at me from the mirror,
a mute witness to your treatment of me.
Your anger tears at me,
your teeth rip me to shreds,
your eyes burn holes in me—God, my enemy!
People take one look at me and gasp.
Contemptuous, they slap me around
and gang up against me.
And God just stands there and lets them do it,
lets wicked people do what they want with me.
I was contentedly minding my business when God beat me up.
He grabbed me by the neck and threw me around.
He set me up as his target,
then rounded up archers to shoot at me.
Merciless, they shot me full of arrows;
bitter bile poured from my gut to the ground.
He burst in on me, onslaught after onslaught,
charging me like a mad bull.
15-17 "I sewed myself a shroud and wore it like a shirt;
I lay facedown in the dirt.
Now my face is blotched red from weeping;
look at the dark shadows under my eyes,
Even though I've never hurt a soul
and my prayers are sincere!
The One Who Represents Mortals Before God18-22 "O Earth, don't cover up the wrong done to me!
Don't muffle my cry!
There must be Someone in heaven who knows the truth about me,
in highest heaven, some Attorney who can clear my name—
My Champion, my Friend,
while I'm weeping my eyes out before God.
I appeal to the One who represents mortals before God
as a neighbor stands up for a neighbor. "Only a few years are left
before I set out on the road of no return."
Job 171-2 "My spirit is broken, my days used up,
my grave dug and waiting.
See how these mockers close in on me?
How long do I have to put up with their insolence?
3-5 "O God, pledge your support for me.
Give it to me in writing, with your signature.
You're the only one who can do it!
These people are so useless!
You know firsthand how stupid they can be.
You wouldn't let them have the last word, would you?
Those who betray their own friends
leave a legacy of abuse to their children.
6-8 "God, you've made me the talk of the town—
people spit in my face;
I can hardly see from crying so much;
I'm nothing but skin and bones.
Decent people can't believe what they're seeing;
the good-hearted wake up and insist I've given up on God.
9 "But principled people hold tight, keep a firm grip on life,
sure that their clean, pure hands will get stronger and stronger!
10-16 "Maybe you'd all like to start over,
to try it again, the bunch of you.
So far I haven't come across one scrap
of wisdom in anything you've said.
My life's about over. All my plans are smashed,
all my hopes are snuffed out—
My hope that night would turn into day,
my hope that dawn was about to break.
If all I have to look forward to is a home in the graveyard,
if my only hope for comfort is a well-built coffin,
If a family reunion means going six feet under,
and the only family that shows up is worms,
Do you call that hope?
Who on earth could find any hope in that?
No. If hope and I are to be buried together,
I suppose you'll all come to the double funeral!"
Bildad's Second Attack
Plunged from Light into Darkness1-4 Bildad from Shuhah chimed in: "How monotonous these word games are getting!
Get serious! We need to get down to business.
Why do you treat your friends like slow-witted animals?
You look down on us as if we don't know anything.
Why are you working yourself up like this?
Do you want the world redesigned to suit you?
Should reality be suspended to accommodate you?
5-21 "Here's the rule: The light of the wicked is put out.
Their flame dies down and is extinguished.
Their house goes dark—
every lamp in the place goes out.
Their strong strides weaken, falter;
they stumble into their own traps.
They get all tangled up
in their own red tape,
Their feet are grabbed and caught,
their necks in a noose.
They trip on ropes they've hidden,
and fall into pits they've dug themselves.
Terrors come at them from all sides.
They run helter-skelter.
The hungry grave is ready
to gobble them up for supper,
To lay them out for a gourmet meal,
a treat for ravenous Death.
They are snatched from their home sweet home
and marched straight to the death house.
Their lives go up in smoke;
acid rain soaks their ruins.
Their roots rot
and their branches wither.
They'll never again be remembered—
nameless in unmarked graves.
They are plunged from light into darkness,
banished from the world.
And they leave empty-handed—not one single child—
nothing to show for their life on this earth.
Westerners are aghast at their fate,
easterners are horrified:
'Oh no! So this is what happens to perverse people.
This is how the God-ignorant end up!'"
Job Answers Bildad
I Call for Help and No One Bothers1-6 Job answered: "How long are you going to keep battering away at me,
pounding me with these harangues?
Time after time after time you jump all over me.
Do you have no conscience, abusing me like this?
Even if I have, somehow or other, gotten off the track,
what business is that of yours?
Why do you insist on putting me down,
using my troubles as a stick to beat me?
Tell it to God—he's the one behind all this,
he's the one who dragged me into this mess.
7-12 "Look at me—I shout 'Murder!' and I'm ignored;
I call for help and no one bothers to stop.
God threw a barricade across my path—I'm stymied;
he turned out all the lights—I'm stuck in the dark.
He destroyed my reputation,
robbed me of all self-respect.
He tore me apart piece by piece—I'm ruined!
Then he yanked out hope by the roots.
He's angry with me—oh, how he's angry!
He treats me like his worst enemy.
He has launched a major campaign against me,
using every weapon he can think of,
coming at me from all sides at once.
I Know That God Lives13-20 "God alienated my family from me;
everyone who knows me avoids me.
My relatives and friends have all left;
houseguests forget I ever existed.
The servant girls treat me like a bum off the street,
look at me like they've never seen me before.
I call my attendant and he ignores me,
ignores me even though I plead with him.
My wife can't stand to be around me anymore.
I'm repulsive to my family.
Even street urchins despise me;
when I come out, they taunt and jeer.
Everyone I've ever been close to abhors me;
my dearest loved ones reject me.
I'm nothing but a bag of bones;
my life hangs by a thread.
21-22 "Oh, friends, dear friends, take pity on me.
God has come down hard on me!
Do you have to be hard on me, too?
Don't you ever tire of abusing me?
23-27 "If only my words were written in a book—
better yet, chiseled in stone!
Still, I know that God lives—the One who gives me back my life—
and eventually he'll take his stand on earth.
And I'll see him—even though I get skinned alive!—
see God myself, with my very own eyes.
Oh, how I long for that day!
28-29 "If you're thinking, 'How can we get through to him,
get him to see that his trouble is all his own fault?'
Forget it. Start worrying about yourselves.
Worry about your own sins and God's coming judgment,
for judgment is most certainly on the way."
1 Corinthians 16:1-24 (The Message)
1 Corinthians 16
Coming to See You1-4Regarding the relief offering for poor Christians that is being collected, you get the same instructions I gave the churches in Galatia. Every Sunday each of you make an offering and put it in safekeeping. Be as generous as you can. When I get there you'll have it ready, and I won't have to make a special appeal. Then after I arrive, I'll write letters authorizing whomever you delegate, and send them off to Jerusalem to deliver your gift. If you think it best that I go along, I'll be glad to travel with them. 5-9I plan to visit you after passing through northern Greece. I won't be staying long there, but maybe I can stay awhile with you—maybe even spend the winter? Then you could give me a good send-off, wherever I may be headed next. I don't want to just drop by in between other "primary" destinations. I want a good, long, leisurely visit. If the Master agrees, we'll have it! For the present, I'm staying right here in Ephesus. A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here. (There is also mushrooming opposition.)
10-11If Timothy shows up, take good care of him. Make him feel completely at home among you. He works so hard for the Master, just as I do. Don't let anyone disparage him. After a while, send him on to me with your blessing. Tell him I'm expecting him, and any friends he has with him.
12About our friend Apollos, I've done my best to get him to pay you a visit, but haven't talked him into it yet. He doesn't think this is the right time. But there will be a "right time."
13-14Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
15-16Would you do me a favor, friends, and give special recognition to the family of Stephanas? You know, they were among the first converts in Greece, and they've put themselves out, serving Christians ever since then. I want you to honor and look up to people like that: companions and workers who show us how to do it, giving us something to aspire to.
17-18I want you to know how delighted I am to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus here with me. They partially make up for your absence! They've refreshed me by keeping me in touch with you. Be proud that you have people like this among you.
19The churches here in western Asia send greetings.
Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello.
20All the friends here say hello.
Pass the greetings around with holy embraces!
21And I, Paul—in my own handwriting!—send you my regards.
22If anyone won't love the Master, throw him out. Make room for the Master!
23Our Master Jesus has his arms wide open for you.
24And I love all of you in the Messiah, in Jesus.
Psalm 40:1-10 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn't slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the world's "sure thing,"
ignore what the world worships;
The world's a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
account for you.
6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that's not what you're after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that's not what you're asking for.
You've opened my ears
so I can listen.
7-8 So I answered, "I'm coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I'm coming to the party
you're throwing for me."
That's when God's Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.
9-10 I've preached you to the whole congregation,
I've kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn't keep the news of your ways
a secret, didn't keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
let the congregation know the whole story.
Proverbs 22:1 (The Message)
The Cure Comes Through Discipline1 A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
British novelist, Martin Amis wrote, “In my experience of fights and fighting, it is invariably the aggressor who keeps getting everything wrong.”