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 4, 2016

Bible Readings for September 4, 2016

Today our passages are Ecclesiastes 7:1–9:18; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16; Psalm 48:1-14; and Proverbs 22:17-19. 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.

Ecclesiastes 7-9:18 (The Message)

Ecclesiastes 7

Don't Take Anything for Granted
 1 A good reputation is better than a fat bank account. Your death date tells more than your birth date.

 2 You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—
   After all, that's where we'll end up. We might discover
      something from it.

 3 Crying is better than laughing.
   It blotches the face but it scours the heart.

 4 Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.
   Fools waste their lives in fun and games.

 5 You'll get more from the rebuke of a sage
   Than from the song and dance of fools.

 6 The giggles of fools are like the crackling of twigs
   Under the cooking pot. And like smoke.

 7 Brutality stupefies even the wise
   And destroys the strongest heart.

 8 Endings are better than beginnings.
   Sticking to it is better than standing out.

 9 Don't be quick to fly off the handle.
   Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.

 10 Don't always be asking, "Where are the good old days?"
   Wise folks don't ask questions like that.

 11-12 Wisdom is better when it's paired with money,
   Especially if you get both while you're still living.
   Double protection: wisdom and wealth!
   Plus this bonus: Wisdom energizes its owner.

 13 Take a good look at God's work.
   Who could simplify and reduce Creation's curves and angles
   To a plain straight line?

 14 On a good day, enjoy yourself;
   On a bad day, examine your conscience.
   God arranges for both kinds of days
   So that we won't take anything for granted.
Stay in Touch with Both Sides
 15-17 I've seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil. So don't knock yourself out being good, and don't go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won't get anything out of it. But don't press your luck by being bad, either. And don't be reckless. Why die needlessly?  18 It's best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.

 19 Wisdom puts more strength in one wise person
   Than ten strong men give to a city.

 20 There's not one totally good person on earth,
   Not one who is truly pure and sinless.

 21-22 Don't eavesdrop on the conversation of others.
   What if the gossip's about you and you'd rather not hear it?
   You've done that a few times, haven't you—said things
   Behind someone's back you wouldn't say to his face?

How to Interpret the Meaning of Life
 23-25 I tested everything in my search for wisdom. I set out to be wise, but it was beyond me, far beyond me, and deep—oh so deep! Does anyone ever find it? I concentrated with all my might, studying and exploring and seeking wisdom—the meaning of life. I also wanted to identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness.  26-29 One discovery: A woman can be a bitter pill to swallow, full of seductive scheming and grasping. The lucky escape her; the undiscerning get caught. At least this is my experience—what I, the Quester, have pieced together as I've tried to make sense of life. But the wisdom I've looked for I haven't found. I didn't find one man or woman in a thousand worth my while. Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we're the ones who've made a mess of things.

Ecclesiastes 8

    There's nothing better than being wise, Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life.
   Wisdom puts light in the eyes,
   And gives gentleness to words and manners.
No One Can Control the Wind
 2-7 Do what your king commands; you gave a sacred oath of obedience. Don't worryingly second-guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant. You're serving his pleasure, not yours. The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, "What are you doing?" Carrying out orders won't hurt you a bit; the wise person obeys promptly and accurately. Yes, there's a right time and way for everything, even though, unfortunately, we miss it for the most part. It's true that no one knows what's going to happen, or when. Who's around to tell us?

 8 No one can control the wind or lock it in a box.
   No one has any say-so regarding the day of death.
   No one can stop a battle in its tracks.
   No one who does evil can be saved by evil.  9 All this I observed as I tried my best to understand all that's going on in this world. As long as men and women have the power to hurt each other, this is the way it is.
One Fate for Everybody
 10 One time I saw wicked men given a solemn burial in holy ground. When the people returned to the city, they delivered flowery eulogies—and in the very place where wicked acts were done by those very men! More smoke. Indeed.  11 Because the sentence against evil deeds is so long in coming, people in general think they can get by with murder.
 12-13 Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I'm still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a "good" life. No matter how many days he lives, they'll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn't fear God.
 14 Here's something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what's coming to the wicked, and bad people get what's coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It's smoke.
 15 So, I'm all for just going ahead and having a good time—the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time—compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth.
 16-17 When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you'll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you're not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won't get to the bottom of it.

Ecclesiastes 9

 1-3 Well, I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out. Here's what I understood: The good, the wise, and all that they do are in God's hands—but, day by day, whether it's love or hate they're dealing with, they don't know.     Anything's possible. It's one fate for everybody—righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted. I find this outrageous—the worst thing about living on this earth—that everyone's lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That's it.
Seize Life!
 4-6 Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, "A living dog is better than a dead lion." The living at least know something, even if it's only that they're going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They're a minus that no one remembers. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There's not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.

 7-10 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
   Drink wine with a robust heart.
   Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
   Dress festively every morning.
   Don't skimp on colors and scarves.
   Relish life with the spouse you love
   Each and every day of your precarious life.
   Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange
   For the hard work of staying alive.
   Make the most of each one!
   Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
   This is your last and only chance at it,
   For there's neither work to do nor thoughts to think
   In the company of the dead, where you're most certainly headed.  11 I took another walk around the neighborhood and realized that on this earth as it is—

    The race is not always to the swift,
   Nor the battle to the strong,
   Nor satisfaction to the wise,
   Nor riches to the smart,
   Nor grace to the learned.
   Sooner or later bad luck hits us all.

 12 No one can predict misfortune.
   Like fish caught in a cruel net or birds in a trap,
   So men and women are caught
   By accidents evil and sudden.
Wisdom Is Better than Muscle
 13-15 One day as I was observing how wisdom fares on this earth, I saw something that made me sit up and take notice. There was a small town with only a few people in it. A strong king came and mounted an attack, building trenches and attack posts around it. There was a poor but wise man in that town whose wisdom saved the town, but he was promptly forgotten. (He was only a poor man, after all.)  16 All the same, I still say that wisdom is better than muscle, even though the wise poor man was treated with contempt and soon forgotten.

 17 The quiet words of the wise are more effective
   Than the ranting of a king of fools.

 18 Wisdom is better than warheads,
   But one hothead can ruin the good earth.

2 Corinthians 7:8-16 (The Message)

 8-9I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don't feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I'm glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.
 10Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
 11-13And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That's what happened—and we felt just great.
 13-16And then, when we saw how Titus felt—his exuberance over your response—our joy doubled. It was wonderful to see how revived and refreshed he was by everything you did. If I went out on a limb in telling Titus how great I thought you were, you didn't cut off that limb. As it turned out, I hadn't exaggerated one bit. Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can't quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn't be more pleased—I'm so confident and proud of you.

Psalm 48:1-14 (The Message)

Psalm 48

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah
 1-3 God majestic, praise abounds in our God-city!
   His sacred mountain,
      breathtaking in its heights—earth's joy.
   Zion Mountain looms in the North,
      city of the world-King.
   God in his citadel peaks

 4-6 The kings got together,
      they united and came.
   They took one look and shook their heads,
      they scattered and ran away.
   They doubled up in pain
      like a woman having a baby.

 7-8 You smashed the ships of Tarshish
      with a storm out of the East.
   We heard about it, then we saw it
      with our eyes—
   In God's city of Angel Armies,
      in the city our God
   Set on firm foundations,
      firm forever.

 9-10 We pondered your love-in-action, God,
      waiting in your temple:
   Your name, God, evokes a train
      of Hallelujahs wherever
   It is spoken, near and far;
      your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.

 11 Be glad, Zion Mountain;
      Dance, Judah's daughters!
      He does what he said he'd do!

 12-14 Circle Zion, take her measure,
      count her fortress peaks,
   Gaze long at her sloping bulwark,
      climb her citadel heights—
   Then you can tell the next generation
      detail by detail the story of God,
   Our God forever,
      who guides us till the end of time.


Proverbs 22:17-19 (The Message)

The Thirty Precepts of the Sages
Don't Move Back the Boundary Lines
 17-21 Listen carefully to my wisdom;
   take to heart what I can teach you.
You'll treasure its sweetness deep within;
   you'll give it bold expression in your speech.
To make sure your foundation is trust in God,
   I'm laying it all out right now just for you.
I'm giving you thirty sterling principles—
   tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
   and will keep you accountable
   to those who sent you.

Verse of the Day
“Now follow the example of the correct teaching I gave you, and let the faith and love of Christ Jesus be your model. You have been trusted with a wonderful treasure. Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you.” - 2 Timothy 1:13-14
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Image result for Mother TeresaThought for the Day
Albanian Roman Catholic nun and missionary, Mother Teresa wrote, “I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper's wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”

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