Read the Bible in a Year

Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year. This is part of The Colossians 13:16 Project, sponsored by Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia. You're invited to worship with us Sundays, at 11:00 a.m. or Saturdays, at 6:30 p.m. You may also want to consider joining one our adult Bible Studies: Thursdays at 12:00 noon and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We also have a full range of programs for children. If you want more information about the church, check out the other blogs. And please feel free to leave any comments.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bible Readings for September 17, 2016

Today our passages are Isaiah 25:1–28:13; Galatians 3:10-22; Psalm 61:1-8; and Proverbs 23:17-18. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf 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 25-28:13 (The Message)

Isaiah 25

God's Hand Rests on This Mountain
1-5 God, you are my God. I celebrate you. I praise you.
You've done your share of miracle-wonders,
well-thought-out plans, solid and sure.
Here you've reduced the city to rubble,
the strong city to a pile of stones.
The enemy Big City is a non-city,
never to be a city again.
Superpowers will see it and honor you,
brutal oppressors bow in worshipful reverence.
They'll see that you take care of the poor,
that you take care of poor people in trouble,
Provide a warm, dry place in bad weather,
provide a cool place when it's hot.
Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard
and vicious foreigners like high noon in the desert.
But you, shelter from the storm and shade from the sun,
shut the mouths of the big-mouthed bullies.
6-8But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
Yes, he'll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
He'll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!

9-10Also at that time, people will say,
"Look at what's happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
This God, the one we waited for!
Let's celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
God's hand rests on this mountain!"

10-12As for the Moabites, they'll be treated like refuse,
waste shoveled into a cesspool.
Thrash away as they will,
like swimmers trying to stay afloat,
They'll sink in the sewage.
Their pride will pull them under.
Their famous fortifications will crumble to nothing,
those mighty walls reduced to dust.

Isaiah 26

Stretch the Borders of Life
1-6 At that time, this song will be sung in the country of Judah:
We have a strong city, Salvation City,
built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates
so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you,
you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
because they keep at it and don't quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Those who lived high and mighty
he knocked off their high horse.
He used the city built on the hill
as fill for the marshes.
All the exploited and outcast peoples
build their lives on the reclaimed land.
7-10The path of right-living people is level.
The Leveler evens the road for the right-living.
We're in no hurry, God. We're content to linger
in the path sign-posted with your decisions.
Who you are and what you've done
are all we'll ever want.
Through the night my soul longs for you.
Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.
When your decisions are on public display,
everyone learns how to live right.
If the wicked are shown grace,
they don't seem to get it.
In the land of right living, they persist in wrong living,
blind to the splendor of God.

11-15You hold your hand up high, God,
but they don't see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
to see your zealous love for your people.
Shame them. Light a fire under them.
Get the attention of these enemies of yours.
God, order a peaceful and whole life for us
because everything we've done, you've done for us.
O God, our God, we've had other masters rule us,
but you're the only Master we've ever known.
The dead don't talk,
ghosts don't walk,
Because you've said, "Enough—that's all for you,"
and wiped them off the books.
But the living you make larger than life.
The more life you give, the more glory you display,
and stretch the borders to accommodate more living!

16-18O God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble,
when your discipline was so heavy
they could barely whisper a prayer.
Like a woman having a baby,
writhing in distress, screaming her pain
as the baby is being born,
That's how we were because of you, O God.
We were pregnant full-term.
We writhed in labor but bore no baby.
We gave birth to wind.
Nothing came of our labor.
We produced nothing living.
We couldn't save the world.

19But friends, your dead will live,
your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
giving birth to the dead.

20-21Come, my people, go home
and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.

Isaiah 27

Selected Grain by Grain
1 At that time God will unsheathe his sword, his merciless, massive, mighty sword.
He'll punish the serpent Leviathan as it flees,
the serpent Leviathan thrashing in flight.
He'll kill that old dragon
that lives in the sea.
2-5"At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear.
There's something to sing about!
I, God, tend it.
I keep it well-watered.
I keep careful watch over it
so that no one can damage it.
I'm not angry. I care.
Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes,
I'll just pull them out
and burn them up.
Let that vine cling to me for safety,
let it find a good and whole life with me,
let it hold on for a good and whole life."

6The days are coming when Jacob
shall put down roots,
Israel blossom and grow fresh branches,
and fill the world with its fruit.

7-11Has God knocked them to the ground
as he knocked down those who hit them? Oh, no.
Were they killed
as their killers were killed? Again, no.
He was hard on them all right. The exile was a harsh sentence.
He blew them away on a fierce blast of wind.
But the good news is that through this experience
Jacob's guilt was taken away.
The evidence that his sin is removed will be this:
He will tear down the alien altars,
take them apart stone by stone,
And then crush the stones into gravel
and clean out all the sex-and-religion shrines.
For there's nothing left of that pretentious grandeur.
Nobody lives there anymore. It's unlivable.
But animals do just fine,
browsing and bedding down.
And it's not a bad place to get firewood.
Dry twigs and dead branches are plentiful.
It's the leavings of a people with no sense of God.
So, the God who made them
Will have nothing to do with them.
He who formed them will turn his back on them.

12-13At that time God will thresh
from the River Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt,
And you, people of Israel,
will be selected grain by grain.
At that same time a great trumpet will be blown,
calling home the exiles from Assyria,
Welcoming home the refugees from Egypt
to come and worship God on the holy mountain, Jerusalem.

Isaiah 28

God Will Speak in Baby Talk
1-4 Doom to the pretentious drunks of Ephraim, shabby and washed out and seedy—
Tipsy, sloppy-fat, beer-bellied parodies
of a proud and handsome past.
Watch closely: God has someone picked out,
someone tough and strong to flatten them.
Like a hailstorm, like a hurricane, like a flash flood,
one-handed he'll throw them to the ground.
Samaria, the party hat on Israel's head,
will be knocked off with one blow.
It will disappear quicker than
a piece of meat tossed to a dog.
5-6At that time, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be
the beautiful crown on the head of what's left of his people:
Energy and insights of justice to those who guide and decide,
strength and prowess to those who guard and protect.

7-8These also, the priest and prophet, stagger from drink,
weaving, falling-down drunks,
Besotted with wine and whiskey,
can't see straight, can't talk sense.
Every table is covered with vomit.
They live in vomit.

9-10"Is that so? And who do you think you are to teach us?
Who are you to lord it over us?
We're not babies in diapers
to be talked down to by such as you—
'Da, da, da, da,
blah, blah, blah, blah.
That's a good little girl,
that's a good little boy.'"

11-12But that's exactly how you will be addressed.
God will speak to this people
In baby talk, one syllable at a time—
and he'll do it through foreign oppressors.
He said before, "This is the time and place to rest,
to give rest to the weary.
This is the place to lay down your burden."
But they won't listen.

13So God will start over with the simple basics
and address them in baby talk, one syllable at a time—
"Da, da, da, da,
blah, blah, blah, blah.
That's a good little girl,
that's a good little boy."
And like toddlers, they will get up and fall down,
get bruised and confused and lost.

Galatians 3:10-22 (The Message)

9-10So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith—this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: "Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law."
11-12The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: "The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that's the real life." Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: "The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them."
13-14Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham's blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God's life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.
15-18Friends, let me give you an example from everyday affairs of the free life I am talking about. Once a person's will has been ratified, no one else can annul it or add to it. Now, the promises were made to Abraham and to his descendant. You will observe that Scripture, in the careful language of a legal document, does not say "to descendants," referring to everybody in general, but "to your descendant" (the noun, note, is singular), referring to Christ. This is the way I interpret this: A will, earlier ratified by God, is not annulled by an addendum attached 430 years later, thereby negating the promise of the will. No, this addendum, with its instructions and regulations, has nothing to do with the promised inheritance in the will.
18-20What is the point, then, of the law, the attached addendum? It was a thoughtful addition to the original covenant promises made to Abraham. The purpose of the law was to keep a sinful people in the way of salvation until Christ (the descendant) came, inheriting the promises and distributing them to us. Obviously this law was not a firsthand encounter with God. It was arranged by angelic messengers through a middleman, Moses. But if there is a middleman as there was at Sinai, then the people are not dealing directly with God, are they? But the original promise is the direct blessing of God, received by faith.
21-22If such is the case, is the law, then, an anti-promise, a negation of God's will for us? Not at all. Its purpose was to make obvious to everyone that we are, in ourselves, out of right relationship with God, and therefore to show us the futility of devising some religious system for getting by our own efforts what we can only get by waiting in faith for God to complete his promise. For if any kind of rule-keeping had power to create life in us, we would certainly have gotten it by this time.

Psalm 61:1-8 (The Message)

Psalm 61

A David Psalm
1-2God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer.
When I'm far from anywhere,
down to my last gasp,
I call out, "Guide me
up High Rock Mountain!"

3-5 You've always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
You've always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.

6-8 Let the days of the king add up
to years and years of good rule.
Set his throne in the full light of God;
post Steady Love and Good Faith as lookouts,
And I'll be the poet who sings your glory—
and live what I sing every day.

Proverbs 23:17-18 (The Message)

17-18 Don't for a minute envy careless rebels;
soak yourself in the Fear-of-God
That's where your future lies.
Then you won't be left with an armload of nothing.

Verse of the Day

“Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children.” - Ephesians 5:1
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher, Francis of Assisi wrote, “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

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