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 25, 2016

Bible Readings for September 25, 2016

Today our passages are Isaiah 45:11–48:11; Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 68:19-35; and Proverbs 24:3-4. 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 by using the link below.

Isaiah 45:11-48:11 (The Message)

 11-13Thus God, The Holy of Israel, Israel's Maker, says:
   "Do you question who or what I'm making?
   Are you telling me what I can or cannot do?
I made earth,
   and I created man and woman to live on it.
I handcrafted the skies
   and direct all the constellations in their turnings.
And now I've got Cyrus on the move.
   I've rolled out the red carpet before him.
He will build my city.
   He will bring home my exiles.
I didn't hire him to do this. I told him.
   I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies."

 14God says:
   "The workers of Egypt, the merchants of Ethiopia,
   and those statuesque Sabeans
Will all come over to you—all yours.
   Docile in chains, they'll follow you,
Hands folded in reverence, praying before you:
   'Amazing! God is with you!
   There is no other God—none.'"

Look at the Evidence
 15-17Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes,
   God of Israel, Savior God.
Humiliated, all those others
   will be ashamed to show their faces in public.
Out of work and at loose ends, the makers of no-god idols
   won't know what to do with themselves.
The people of Israel, though, are saved by you, God,
   saved with an eternal salvation.
They won't be ashamed,
   they won't be at loose ends, ever.
 18-24God, Creator of the heavens—
   he is, remember, God.
Maker of earth—
   he put it on its foundations, built it from scratch.
He didn't go to all that trouble
   to just leave it empty, nothing in it.
   He made it to be lived in.

   This God says:

   "I am God,
   the one and only.
I don't just talk to myself
   or mumble under my breath.
I never told Jacob,
   'Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.'
I am God. I work out in the open,
   saying what's right, setting things right.
So gather around, come on in,
   all you refugees and castoffs.
They don't seem to know much, do they—
   those who carry around their no-god blocks of wood,
   praying for help to a dead stick?
So tell me what you think. Look at the evidence.
   Put your heads together. Make your case.
Who told you, and a long time ago, what's going on here?
   Who made sense of things for you?
Wasn't I the one? God?
   It had to be me. I'm the only God there is—
The only God who does things right
   and knows how to help.
So turn to me and be helped—saved!—
   everyone, whoever and wherever you are.
I am God,
   the only God there is, the one and only.
I promise in my own name:
   Every word out of my mouth does what it says.
   I never take back what I say.
Everyone is going to end up kneeling before me.
   Everyone is going to end up saying of me,
   'Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!'"

 24-25All who have raged against him
   will be brought before him,
   disgraced by their unbelief.
And all who are connected with Israel
   will have a robust, praising, good life in God!

Isaiah 46

This Is Serious Business, Rebels
 1-2 The god Bel falls down, god Nebo slumps. The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules
And have to be hauled off,
   wearing out the poor mules—
Dead weight, burdens who can't bear burdens,
   hauled off to captivity.
 3-4"Listen to me, family of Jacob,
   everyone that's left of the family of Israel.
I've been carrying you on my back
   from the day you were born,
And I'll keep on carrying you when you're old.
   I'll be there, bearing you when you're old and gray.
I've done it and will keep on doing it,
   carrying you on my back, saving you.

 5-7"So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable?
   Can you picture me without reducing me?
People with a lot of money
   hire craftsmen to make them gods.
The artisan delivers the god,
   and they kneel and worship it!
They carry it around in holy parades,
   then take it home and put it on a shelf.
And there it sits, day in and day out,
   a dependable god, always right where you put it.
Say anything you want to it, it never talks back.
   Of course, it never does anything either!

 8-11"Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
   This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
   your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have—
   incomparable, irreplaceable—
From the very beginning
   telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
   on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul,
   I'll do exactly what I set out to do,'
Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east,
   from a far country the man I chose to help me.
I've said it, and I'll most certainly do it.
   I've planned it, so it's as good as done.

 12-13"Now listen to me:
   You're a hardheaded bunch and hard to help.
I'm ready to help you right now.
   Deliverance is not a long-range plan.
   Salvation isn't on hold.
I'm putting salvation to work in Zion now,
   and glory in Israel."

Isaiah 47

The Party's Over
 1-3 "Get off your high horse and sit in the dirt, virgin daughter of Babylon.
No more throne for you—sit on the ground,
   daughter of the Chaldeans.
Nobody will be calling you 'charming'
   and 'alluring' anymore. Get used to it.
Get a job, any old job:
   Clean gutters, scrub toilets.
Hock your gowns and scarves,
   put on overalls—the party's over.
Your nude body will be on public display,
   exposed to vulgar taunts.
It's vengeance time, and I'm taking vengeance.
   No one gets let off the hook."
You're Acting Like the Center of the Universe
 4-13Our Redeemer speaks,
   named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, The Holy of Israel:
"Shut up and get out of the way,
   daughter of Chaldeans.
You'll no longer be called
   'First Lady of the Kingdoms.'
I was fed up with my people,
   thoroughly disgusted with my progeny.
I turned them over to you,
   but you had no compassion.
You put old men and women
   to cruel, hard labor.
You said, 'I'm the First Lady.
   I'll always be the pampered darling.'
You took nothing seriously, took nothing to heart,
   never gave tomorrow a thought.
Well, start thinking, playgirl.
   You're acting like the center of the universe,
Smugly saying to yourself, 'I'm Number One. There's nobody but me.
   I'll never be a widow, I'll never lose my children.'
Those two things are going to hit you both at once,
   suddenly, on the same day:
Spouse and children gone, a total loss,
   despite your many enchantments and charms.
You were so confident and comfortable in your evil life,
   saying, 'No one sees me.'
You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out.
   What delusion!
   Smugly telling yourself, 'I'm Number One. There's nobody but me.'
Ruin descends—
   you can't charm it away.
Disaster strikes—
   you can't cast it off with spells.
Catastrophe, sudden and total—
   and you're totally at sea, totally bewildered!
But don't give up. From your great repertoire
   of enchantments there must be one you haven't yet tried.
You've been at this a long time.
   Surely something will work.
I know you're exhausted trying out remedies,
   but don't give up.
Call in the astrologers and stargazers.
   They're good at this. Surely they can work up something!
 14-15"Fat chance. You'd be grasping at straws
   that are already in the fire,
A fire that is even now raging.
   Your 'experts' are in it and won't get out.
It's not a fire for cooking venison stew,
   not a fire to warm you on a winter night!
That's the fate of your friends in sorcery, your magician buddies
   you've been in cahoots with all your life.
They reel, confused, bumping into one another.
   None of them bother to help you."

Isaiah 48

Tested in the Furnace of Affliction
 1-11 "And now listen to this, family of Jacob,
   you who are called by the name Israel:
Who got you started in the loins of Judah,
   you who use God's name to back up your promises
   and pray to the God of Israel?
But do you mean it?
   Do you live like it?
You claim to be citizens of the Holy City;
   you act as though you lean on the God of Israel,
   named God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
For a long time now, I've let you in on the way I work:
   I told you what I was going to do beforehand,
   then I did it and it was done, and that's that.
I know you're a bunch of hardheads,
   obstinate and flint-faced,
So I got a running start and began telling you
   what was going on before it even happened.
That is why you can't say,
   'My god-idol did this.'
   'My favorite god-carving commanded this.'
You have all this evidence
   confirmed by your own eyes and ears.
   Shouldn't you be talking about it?
And that was just the beginning.
   I have a lot more to tell you,
   things you never knew existed.
This isn't a variation on the same old thing.
   This is new, brand-new,
   something you'd never guess or dream up.
When you hear this you won't be able to say,
   'I knew that all along.'
You've never been good listeners to me.
   You have a history of ignoring me,
A sorry track record of fickle attachments—
   rebels from the womb.
But out of the sheer goodness of my heart,
   because of who I am,
I keep a tight rein on my anger and hold my temper.
   I don't wash my hands of you.
Do you see what I've done?
   I've refined you, but not without fire.
   I've tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction.
Out of myself, simply because of who I am, I do what I do.
   I have my reputation to keep up.
   I'm not playing second fiddle to either gods or people.


Ephesians 4:1-16 (The Message)

Ephesians 4

To Be Mature
 1-3In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.  4-6You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
 7-13But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,

   He climbed the high mountain,
   He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
   He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

 14-16No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Psalm 68:19-35 (The Message)

 19-23 Blessed be the Lord—
      day after day he carries us along.
   He's our Savior, our God, oh yes!
      He's God-for-us, he's God-who-saves-us.
   Lord God knows all
      death's ins and outs.
   What's more, he made heads roll,
      split the skulls of the enemy
   As he marched out of heaven,
      saying, "I tied up the Dragon in knots,
      put a muzzle on the Deep Blue Sea."
   You can wade through your enemies' blood,
      and your dogs taste of your enemies from your boots.

 24-31 See God on parade
      to the sanctuary, my God,
      my King on the march!
   Singers out front, the band behind,
      maidens in the middle with castanets.
   The whole choir blesses God.
      Like a fountain of praise, Israel blesses God.
   Look—little Benjamin's out
      front and leading
   Princes of Judah in their royal robes,
      princes of Zebulon, princes of Naphtali.
   Parade your power, O God,
      the power, O God, that made us what we are.
   Your temple, High God, is Jerusalem;
      kings bring gifts to you.
   Rebuke that old crocodile, Egypt,
      with her herd of wild bulls and calves,
   Rapacious in her lust for silver,
      crushing peoples, spoiling for a fight.
   Let Egyptian traders bring blue cloth
      and Cush come running to God, her hands outstretched.

 32-34 Sing, O kings of the earth!
      Sing praises to the Lord!
   There he is: Sky-Rider,
      striding the ancient skies.
   Listen—he's calling in thunder,
      rumbling, rolling thunder.
   Call out "Bravo!" to God,
      the High God of Israel.
   His splendor and strength
      rise huge as thunderheads.

 35 A terrible beauty, O God,
      streams from your sanctuary.
   It's Israel's strong God! He gives
      power and might to his people!
   O you, his people—bless God!

Proverbs 24:3-4 (The Message)

 3-4 It takes wisdom to build a house,
   and understanding to set it on a firm foundation;
It takes knowledge to furnish its rooms
   with fine furniture and beautiful draperies.

Verse of the Day
“[Christ Helps Us]My children, I am writing this so that you won't sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us.” - 1 John 2:1
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day

Philosopher and poet of ancient China, Lao Tzu wrote, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

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