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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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bible Readings for September 18, 2016

Today our passages are Isaiah 28:14–30:11; Galatians 3:23–4:31; Psalm 62:1-12; and Proverbs 23:19-21.. 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 28:14-30:11 (The Message)

 14-15Now listen to God's Message, you scoffers,
   you who rule this people in Jerusalem.
You say, "We've taken out good life insurance.
   We've hedged all our bets, covered all our bases.
No disaster can touch us. We've thought of everything.
   We're advised by the experts. We're set."

The Meaning of the Stone
 16-17But the Master, God, has something to say to this:    "Watch closely. I'm laying a foundation in Zion,
   a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
   a trusting life won't topple.
I'll make justice the measuring stick
   and righteousness the plumb line for the building.
A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies,
   and a flash flood will wash out the rubble.

 18-22"Then you'll see that your precious life insurance policy
   wasn't worth the paper it was written on.
Your careful precautions against death
   were a pack of illusions and lies.
When the disaster happens,
   you'll be crushed by it.
Every time disaster comes, you'll be in on it—
   disaster in the morning, disaster at night."
Every report of disaster
   will send you cowering in terror.
There will be no place where you can rest,
   nothing to hide under.
God will rise to full stature,
   raging as he did long ago on Mount Perazim
And in the valley of Gibeon against the Philistines.
   But this time it's against you.
Hard to believe, but true.
   Not what you'd expect, but it's coming.
Sober up, friends, and don't scoff.
   Scoffing will just make it worse.
I've heard the orders issued for destruction, orders from
   God-of-the-Angel-Armies—ending up in an international disaster.

 23-26Listen to me now.
   Give me your closest attention.
Do farmers plow and plow and do nothing but plow?
   Or harrow and harrow and do nothing but harrow?
After they've prepared the ground, don't they plant?
   Don't they scatter dill and spread cumin,
Plant wheat and barley in the fields
   and raspberries along the borders?
They know exactly what to do and when to do it.
   Their God is their teacher.

 27-29And at the harvest, the delicate herbs and spices,
   the dill and cumin, are treated delicately.
On the other hand, wheat is threshed and milled, but still not endlessly.
   The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain.
He's learned it all from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
   who knows everything about when and how and where.

Isaiah 29

Blind Yourselves So That You See Nothing
 1-4 Doom, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David set camp!
Let the years add up,
   let the festivals run their cycles,
But I'm not letting up on Jerusalem.
   The moaning and groaning will continue.
   Jerusalem to me is an Ariel.
Like David, I'll set up camp against you.
   I'll set siege, build towers,
   bring in siege engines, build siege ramps.
Driven into the ground, you'll speak,
   you'll mumble words from the dirt—
Your voice from the ground, like the muttering of a ghost.
   Your speech will whisper from the dust.
 5-8But it will be your enemies who are beaten to dust,
   the mob of tyrants who will be blown away like chaff.
Because, surprise, as if out of nowhere,
   a visit from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
With thunderclaps, earthquakes, and earsplitting noise,
   backed up by hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning strikes,
And the mob of enemies at war with Ariel,
   all who trouble and hassle and torment her,
   will turn out to be a bad dream, a nightmare.
Like a hungry man dreaming he's eating steak
   and wakes up hungry as ever,
Like a thirsty woman dreaming she's drinking iced tea
   and wakes up thirsty as ever,
So that mob of nations at war against Mount Zion
   will wake up and find they haven't shot an arrow,
   haven't killed a single soul.

 9-10Drug yourselves so you feel nothing.
   Blind yourselves so you see nothing.
Get drunk, but not on wine.
   Black out, but not from whiskey.
For God has rocked you into a deep, deep sleep,
   put the discerning prophets to sleep,
   put the farsighted seers to sleep.

You Have Everything Backward
 11-12What you've been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone who can read and tell her, "Read this," she'll say, "I can't. The envelope is sealed." And if you give it to someone who can't read and tell him, "Read this," he'll say, "I can't read."  13-14The Master said:
   "These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
   but their hearts aren't in it.
Because they act like they're worshiping me
   but don't mean it,
I'm going to step in and shock them awake,
   astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
   will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
   will turn out to know nothing."

 15-16Doom to you! You pretend to have the inside track.
   You shut God out and work behind the scenes,
Plotting the future as if you knew everything,
   acting mysterious, never showing your hand.
You have everything backward!
   You treat the potter as a lump of clay.
Does a book say to its author,
   "He didn't write a word of me"?
Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it,
   "She had nothing to do with this"?

 17-21And then before you know it,
   and without you having anything to do with it,
Wasted Lebanon will be transformed into lush gardens,
   and Mount Carmel reforested.
At that time the deaf will hear
   word-for-word what's been written.
After a lifetime in the dark,
   the blind will see.
The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God,
   the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel.
For there'll be no more gangs on the street.
   Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species.
Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean
   will never be heard of again:
Gone the people who corrupted the courts,
   gone the people who cheated the poor,
   gone the people who victimized the innocent.

 22-24And finally this, God's Message for the family of Jacob,
   the same God who redeemed Abraham:
"No longer will Jacob hang his head in shame,
   no longer grow gaunt and pale with waiting.
For he's going to see his children,
   my personal gift to him—lots of children.
And these children will honor me
   by living holy lives.
In holy worship they'll honor the Holy One of Jacob
   and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel.
Those who got off-track will get back on-track,
   and complainers and whiners learn gratitude."

Isaiah 30

All Show, No Substance
 1-5 "Doom, rebel children!" God's Decree.
"You make plans, but not mine.
   You make deals, but not in my Spirit.
You pile sin on sin,
   one sin on top of another,
Going off to Egypt
   without so much as asking me,
Running off to Pharaoh for protection,
   expecting to hide out in Egypt.
Well, some protection Pharaoh will be!
   Some hideout, Egypt!
They look big and important, true,
   with officials strategically established in
Zoan in the north and Hanes in the south,
   but there's nothing to them.
Anyone stupid enough to trust them
   will end up looking stupid—
All show, no substance,
   an embarrassing farce."
 6-7And this note on the animals of the Negev
   encountered on the road to Egypt:
A most dangerous, treacherous route,
   menaced by lions and deadly snakes.
And you're going to lug all your stuff down there,
   your donkeys and camels loaded down with bribes,
Thinking you can buy protection
   from that hollow farce of a nation?
Egypt is all show, no substance.
   My name for her is Toothless Dragon.

This Is a Rebel Generation
 8-11So, go now and write all this down.
   Put it in a book
So that the record will be there
   to instruct the coming generations,
Because this is a rebel generation,
   a people who lie,
A people unwilling to listen
   to anything God tells them.
They tell their spiritual leaders,
   "Don't bother us with irrelevancies."
They tell their preachers,
   "Don't waste our time on impracticalities.
Tell us what makes us feel better.
   Don't bore us with obsolete religion.
That stuff means nothing to us.
   Quit hounding us with The Holy of Israel."


Galatians 3:23-4:31 (The Message)

 23-24Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.
 25-27But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ's life, the fulfillment of God's original promise.
In Christ's Family
 28-29In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ's family, then you are Abraham's famous "descendant," heirs according to the covenant promises.

Galatians 4

 1-3Let me show you the implications of this. As long as the heir is a minor, he has no advantage over the slave. Though legally he owns the entire inheritance, he is subject to tutors and administrators until whatever date the father has set for emancipation. That is the way it is with us: When we were minors, we were just like slaves ordered around by simple instructions (the tutors and administrators of this world), with no say in the conduct of our own lives.  4-7But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.
 8-11Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God—or rather since God knows you—how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years. I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke!
 12-13My dear friends, what I would really like you to do is try to put yourselves in my shoes to the same extent that I, when I was with you, put myself in yours. You were very sensitive and kind then. You did not come down on me personally. You were well aware that the reason I ended up preaching to you was that I was physically broken, and so, prevented from continuing my journey, I was forced to stop with you. That is how I came to preach to you.
 14-16And don't you remember that even though taking in a sick guest was most troublesome for you, you chose to treat me as well as you would have treated an angel of God—as well as you would have treated Jesus himself if he had visited you? What has happened to the satisfaction you felt at that time? There were some of you then who, if possible, would have given your very eyes to me—that is how deeply you cared! And now have I suddenly become your enemy simply by telling you the truth? I can't believe it.
 17Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God's grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making them feel important.
 18-20It is a good thing to be ardent in doing good, but not just when I am in your presence. Can't you continue the same concern for both my person and my message when I am away from you that you had when I was with you? Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ's life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth. Oh, I keep wishing that I was with you. Then I wouldn't be reduced to this blunt, letter-writing language out of sheer frustration.
 21-31Tell me now, you who have become so enamored with the law: Have you paid close attention to that law? Abraham, remember, had two sons: one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. The son of the slave woman was born by human connivance; the son of the free woman was born by God's promise. This illustrates the very thing we are dealing with now. The two births represent two ways of being in relationship with God. One is from Mount Sinai in Arabia. It corresponds with what is now going on in Jerusalem—a slave life, producing slaves as offspring. This is the way of Hagar. In contrast to that, there is an invisible Jerusalem, a free Jerusalem, and she is our mother—this is the way of Sarah. Remember what Isaiah wrote:

   Rejoice, barren woman who bears no children,
      shout and cry out, woman who has no birth pangs,
   Because the children of the barren woman
      now surpass the children of the chosen woman.
Isn't it clear, friends, that you, like Isaac, are children of promise? In the days of Hagar and Sarah, the child who came from faithless connivance (Ishmael) harassed the child who came—empowered by the Spirit—from the faithful promise (Isaac). Isn't it clear that the harassment you are now experiencing from the Jerusalem heretics follows that old pattern? There is a Scripture that tells us what to do: "Expel the slave mother with her son, for the slave son will not inherit with the free son." Isn't that conclusive? We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Psalm 62:1-12 (The Message)

Psalm 62

A David Psalm
 1-2 God, the one and only— I'll wait as long as he says.
   Everything I need comes from him,
      so why not?
   He's solid rock under my feet,
      breathing room for my soul,
   An impregnable castle:
      I'm set for life.

 3-4 How long will you gang up on me?
      How long will you run with the bullies?
   There's nothing to you, any of you—
      rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters,
   Anthills plotting to bring down mountains,
      far gone in make-believe.
   You talk a good line,
      but every "blessing" breathes a curse.

 5-6 God, the one and only—
      I'll wait as long as he says.
   Everything I hope for comes from him,
      so why not?
   He's solid rock under my feet,
      breathing room for my soul,
   An impregnable castle:
      I'm set for life.

 7-8 My help and glory are in God
      —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
   So trust him absolutely, people;
      lay your lives on the line for him.
      God is a safe place to be.

 9 Man as such is smoke,
      woman as such, a mirage.
   Put them together, they're nothing;
      two times nothing is nothing.

 10 And a windfall, if it comes—
      don't make too much of it.

 11 God said this once and for all;
      how many times
   Have I heard it repeated?
      "Strength comes
   Straight from God."

 12 Love to you, Lord God!
      You pay a fair wage for a good day's work!


Proverbs 23:19-21 (The Message)

 19-21 Oh listen, dear child—become wise;
   point your life in the right direction.
Don't drink too much wine and get drunk;
   don't eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row,
   in a stupor and dressed in rags.

Verse of the Day
“Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves” - Philippians 2:3-4
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

Greek writer, Nikos Kazantzakis wrote, “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”

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