Today our passages are Job 34:1–36:33; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12; Psalm 44:1-8; and Proverbs 22:10-12. 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 34-36:33 (The Message)
Elihu's Second Speech
It's Impossible for God to Do Evil1-4Elihu continued: "So, my fine friends—listen to me,
and see what you think of this.
Isn't it just common sense—
as common as the sense of taste—
To put our heads together
and figure out what's going on here?
5-9 "We've all heard Job say, 'I'm in the right,
but God won't give me a fair trial.
When I defend myself, I'm called a liar to my face.
I've done nothing wrong, and I get punished anyway.'
Have you ever heard anything to beat this?
Does nothing faze this man Job?
Do you think he's spent too much time in bad company,
hanging out with the wrong crowd,
So that now he's parroting their line:
'It doesn't pay to try to please God'?
10-15 "You're veterans in dealing with these matters;
certainly we're of one mind on this.
It's impossible for God to do anything evil;
no way can the Mighty One do wrong.
He makes us pay for exactly what we've done—no more, no less.
Our chickens always come home to roost.
It's impossible for God to do anything wicked,
for the Mighty One to subvert justice.
He's the one who runs the earth!
He cradles the whole world in his hand!
If he decided to hold his breath,
every man, woman, and child would die for lack of air.
God Is Working Behind the Scenes16-20 "So, Job, use your head;
this is all pretty obvious.
Can someone who hates order, keep order?
Do you dare condemn the righteous, mighty God?
Doesn't God always tell it like it is,
exposing corrupt rulers as scoundrels and criminals?
Does he play favorites with the rich and famous and slight the poor?
Isn't he equally responsible to everybody?
Don't people who deserve it die without notice?
Don't wicked rulers tumble to their doom?
When the so-called great ones are wiped out,
we know God is working behind the scenes.
21-28 "He has his eyes on every man and woman.
He doesn't miss a trick.
There is no night dark enough, no shadow deep enough,
to hide those who do evil.
God doesn't need to gather any more evidence;
their sin is an open-and-shut case.
He deposes the so-called high and mighty without asking questions,
and replaces them at once with others.
Nobody gets by with anything; overnight,
judgment is signed, sealed, and delivered.
He punishes the wicked for their wickedness
out in the open where everyone can see it,
Because they quit following him,
no longer even thought about him or his ways.
Their apostasy was announced by the cry of the poor;
the cry of the afflicted got God's attention.
Because You Refuse to Live on God's Terms29-30 "If God is silent, what's that to you?
If he turns his face away, what can you do about it?
But whether silent or hidden, he's there, ruling,
so that those who hate God won't take over
and ruin people's lives.
31-33 "So why don't you simply confess to God?
Say, 'I sinned, but I'll sin no more.
Teach me to see what I still don't see.
Whatever evil I've done, I'll do it no more.'
Just because you refuse to live on God's terms,
do you think he should start living on yours?
You choose. I can't do it for you.
Tell me what you decide.
34-37 "All right-thinking people say—
and the wise who have listened to me concur—
'Job is an ignoramus.
He talks utter nonsense.'
Job, you need to be pushed to the wall and called to account
for wickedly talking back to God the way you have.
You've compounded your original sin
by rebelling against God's discipline,
Defiantly shaking your fist at God,
piling up indictments against the Almighty One."
Elihu's Third Speech
When God Makes Creation a Classroom1-3 Elihu lit into Job again: "Does this kind of thing make any sense?
First you say, 'I'm perfectly innocent before God.'
And then you say, 'It doesn't make a bit of difference
whether I've sinned or not.'
4-8 "Well, I'm going to show you
that you don't know what you're talking about,
neither you nor your friends.
Look up at the sky. Take a long hard look.
See those clouds towering above you?
If you sin, what difference could that make to God?
No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him?
Even if you're good, what would God get out of that?
Do you think he's dependent on your accomplishments?
The only ones who care whether you're good or bad
are your family and friends and neighbors.
God's not dependent on your behavior.
9-15 "When times get bad, people cry out for help.
They cry for relief from being kicked around,
But never give God a thought when things go well,
when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts,
When God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom,
using birds and beasts to teach wisdom.
People are arrogantly indifferent to God—
until, of course, they're in trouble,
and then God is indifferent to them.
There's nothing behind such prayers except panic;
the Almighty pays them no mind.
So why would he notice you
just because you say you're tired of waiting to be heard,
Or waiting for him to get good and angry
and do something about the world's problems?
16 "Job, you talk sheer nonsense—
Those Who Learn from Their Suffering1-4 Here Elihu took a deep breath, but kept going: "Stay with me a little longer. I'll convince you.
There's still more to be said on God's side.
I learned all this firsthand from the Source;
everything I know about justice I owe to my Maker himself.
Trust me, I'm giving you undiluted truth;
believe me, I know these things inside and out.
5-15 "It's true that God is all-powerful,
but he doesn't bully innocent people.
For the wicked, though, it's a different story—
he doesn't give them the time of day,
but champions the rights of their victims.
He never takes his eyes off the righteous;
he honors them lavishly, promotes them endlessly.
When things go badly,
when affliction and suffering descend,
God tells them where they've gone wrong,
shows them how their pride has caused their trouble.
He forces them to heed his warning,
tells them they must repent of their bad life.
If they obey and serve him,
they'll have a good, long life on easy street.
But if they disobey, they'll be cut down in their prime
and never know the first thing about life.
Angry people without God pile grievance upon grievance,
always blaming others for their troubles.
Living it up in sexual excesses,
virility wasted, they die young.
But those who learn from their suffering,
God delivers from their suffering.
Obsessed with Putting the Blame on God16-21 "Oh, Job, don't you see how God's wooing you
from the jaws of danger?
How he's drawing you into wide-open places—
inviting you to feast at a table laden with blessings?
And here you are laden with the guilt of the wicked,
obsessed with putting the blame on God!
Don't let your great riches mislead you;
don't think you can bribe your way out of this.
Did you plan to buy your way out of this?
Not on your life!
And don't think that night,
when people sleep off their troubles,
will bring you any relief.
Above all, don't make things worse with more evil—
that's what's behind your suffering as it is!
22-25 "Do you have any idea how powerful God is?
Have you ever heard of a teacher like him?
Has anyone ever had to tell him what to do,
or correct him, saying, 'You did that all wrong!'?
Remember, then, to praise his workmanship,
which is so often celebrated in song.
Everybody sees it;
nobody is too far away to see it.
No One Can Escape from God26 "Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite,
greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!
27-33 "He pulls water up out of the sea,
distills it, and fills up his rain-cloud cisterns.
Then the skies open up
and pour out soaking showers on everyone.
Does anyone have the slightest idea how this happens?
How he arranges the clouds, how he speaks in thunder?
Just look at that lightning, his sky-filling light show
illumining the dark depths of the sea!
These are the symbols of his sovereignty,
his generosity, his loving care.
He hurls arrows of light,
taking sure and accurate aim.
The High God roars in the thunder,
angry against evil."
2 Corinthians 4:1-12 (The Message)
2 Corinthians 4
Trial and Torture1-2Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. 3-4If our Message is obscure to anyone, it's not because we're holding back in any way. No, it's because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won't have to bother believing a Truth they can't see. They're stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we'll ever get.
5-6Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
7-12If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!
Psalm 44:1-8 (The Message)
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah1-3 We've been hearing about this, God, all our lives.
Our fathers told us the stories
their fathers told them,
How single-handedly you weeded out the godless
from the fields and planted us,
How you sent those people packing
but gave us a fresh start.
We didn't fight for this land;
we didn't work for it—it was a gift!
You gave it, smiling as you gave it,
delighting as you gave it.
4-8 You're my King, O God—
command victories for Jacob!
With your help we'll wipe out our enemies,
in your name we'll stomp them to dust.
I don't trust in weapons;
my sword won't save me—
But it's you, you who saved us from the enemy;
you made those who hate us lose face.
All day we parade God's praise—
we thank you by name over and over.
Proverbs 22:10-12 (The Message)
10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
you need a break from bickering and griping!
11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.
12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
but he'll have nothing to do with deception.
Verse of the Day
“You Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens with everyone else who belongs to the family of God.” - Ephesians 2:19
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American business magnate, investor and philanthropist, Warren Buffett wrote, “Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.”