Today our passages are Isaiah 6:1–7:25; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33; Psalm 54:1-7; and Proverbs 23:1-3. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you missed a day, you can find all the readings at our blog, The Bible in a Year. 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.
Isaiah 6-7:25 (The Message)
Holy, Holy, Holy!1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,
Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
His bright glory fills the whole earth.
The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said, "Doom! It's Doomsday!
I'm as good as dead!
Every word I've ever spoken is tainted—
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I've looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!"
Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said,
"Look. This coal has touched your lips.
Gone your guilt,
your sins wiped out."
And then I heard the voice of the Master:
"Whom shall I send?
Who will go for us?"
I spoke up,
9-10He said, "Go and tell this people:
"'Listen hard, but you aren't going to get it;
look hard, but you won't catch on.'
Make these people blockheads,
with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes,
So they won't see a thing,
won't hear a word,
So they won't have a clue about what's going on
and, yes, so they won't turn around and be made whole."
11-13Astonished, I said,
"And Master, how long is this to go on?"
He said, "Until the cities are emptied out,
not a soul left in the cities—
Houses empty of people,
countryside empty of people.
Until I, God, get rid of everyone, sending them off,
the land totally empty.
And even if some should survive, say a tenth,
the devastation will start up again.
The country will look like pine and oak forest
with every tree cut down—
Every tree a stump, a huge field of stumps.
But there's a holy seed in those stumps."
A Virgin Will Bear a Son1-2 During the time that Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel attacked Jerusalem, but the attack sputtered out. When the Davidic government learned that Aram had joined forces with Ephraim (that is, Israel), Ahaz and his people were badly shaken. They shook like trees in the wind. 3-6Then God told Isaiah, "Go and meet Ahaz. Take your son Shear-jashub (A-Remnant-Will-Return) with you. Meet him south of the city at the end of the aqueduct where it empties into the upper pool on the road to the public laundry. Tell him, Listen, calm down. Don't be afraid. And don't panic over these two burnt-out cases, Rezin of Aram and the son of Remaliah. They talk big but there's nothing to them. Aram, along with Ephraim's son of Remaliah, have plotted to do you harm. They've conspired against you, saying, 'Let's go to war against Judah, dismember it, take it for ourselves, and set the son of Tabeel up as a puppet king over it.'
7-9But God, the Master, says,
"It won't happen.
Nothing will come of it
Because the capital of Aram is Damascus
and the king of Damascus is a mere man, Rezin.
As for Ephraim, in sixty-five years
it will be rubble, nothing left of it.
The capital of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the king of Samaria is the mere son of Remaliah.
If you don't take your stand in faith,
you won't have a leg to stand on."
10-11God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, "Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!"
12But Ahaz said, "I'd never do that. I'd never make demands like that on God!"
13-17So Isaiah told him, "Then listen to this, government of David! It's bad enough that you make people tired with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you're making God tired. So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She'll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us). By the time the child is twelve years old, able to make moral decisions, the threat of war will be over. Relax, those two kings that have you so worried will be out of the picture. But also be warned: God will bring on you and your people and your government a judgment worse than anything since the time the kingdom split, when Ephraim left Judah. The king of Assyria is coming!"
18-19That's when God will whistle for the flies at the headwaters of Egypt's Nile, and whistle for the bees in the land of Assyria. They'll come and infest every nook and cranny of this country. There'll be no getting away from them.
20And that's when the Master will take the razor rented from across the Euphrates—the king of Assyria no less!—and shave the hair off your heads and genitals, leaving you shamed, exposed, and denuded. He'll shave off your beards while he's at it.
21-22It will be a time when survivors will count themselves lucky to have a cow and a couple of sheep. At least they'll have plenty of milk! Whoever's left in the land will learn to make do with the simplest foods—curds, whey, and honey.
23-25But that's not the end of it. This country that used to be covered with fine vineyards—thousands of them, worth millions!—will revert to a weed patch. Weeds and thornbushes everywhere! Good for nothing except, perhaps, hunting rabbits. Cattle and sheep will forage as best they can in the fields of weeds—but there won't be a trace of all those fertile and well-tended gardens and fields.
2 Corinthians 11:16-33 (The Message)
Many a Long and Lonely Night16-21Let me come back to where I started—and don't hold it against me if I continue to sound a little foolish. Or if you'd rather, just accept that I am a fool and let me rant on a little. I didn't learn this kind of talk from Christ. Oh, no, it's a bad habit I picked up from the three-ring preachers that are so popular these days. Since you sit there in the judgment seat observing all these shenanigans, you can afford to humor an occasional fool who happens along. You have such admirable tolerance for impostors who rob your freedom, rip you off, steal you blind, put you down—even slap your face! I shouldn't admit it to you, but our stomachs aren't strong enough to tolerate that kind of stuff. 21-23Since you admire the egomaniacs of the pulpit so much (remember, this is your old friend, the fool, talking), let me try my hand at it. Do they brag of being Hebrews, Israelites, the pure race of Abraham? I'm their match. Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can't believe I'm saying these things. It's crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I'm going to finish.)
23-27I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
28-29And that's not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.
30-33If I have to "brag" about myself, I'll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I'm not lying. Remember the time I was in Damascus and the governor of King Aretas posted guards at the city gates to arrest me? I crawled through a window in the wall, was let down in a basket, and had to run for my life.
Psalm 54:1-7 (The Message)
Psalm 541-2 God, for your sake, help me! Use your influence to clear me.
Listen, God—I'm desperate.
Don't be too busy to hear me.
3 Outlaws are out to get me,
hit men are trying to kill me.
Nothing will stop them;
God means nothing to them.
4-5 Oh, look! God's right here helping!
God's on my side,
Evil is looping back on my enemies.
Don't let up! Finish them off!
6-7 I'm ready now to worship, so ready.
I thank you, God—you're so good.
You got me out of every scrape,
and I saw my enemies get it.
Proverbs 23:1-3 (The Message)
61-3 When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners:
Don't gobble your food,
don't talk with your mouth full.
And don't stuff yourself;
bridle your appetite.
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
American author, Og Mandino wrote, “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”