Today our passages are Isaiah 1:1–2:22; 2 Corinthians 10:1-18; Psalm 52:1-9; and Proverbs 22:26-27. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. 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 1-2:22 (The Message)
Messages of Judgment
Quit Your Worship Charades1The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw regarding Judah and Jerusalem during the times of the kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. 2-4Heaven and earth, you're the jury.
Listen to God's case:
"I had children and raised them well,
and they turned on me.
The ox knows who's boss,
the mule knows the hand that feeds him,
But not Israel.
My people don't know up from down.
Shame! Misguided God-dropouts,
staggering under their guilt-baggage,
Gang of miscreants,
band of vandals—
My people have walked out on me, their God,
turned their backs on The Holy of Israel,
walked off and never looked back. 5-9"Why bother even trying to do anything with you
when you just keep to your bullheaded ways?
You keep beating your heads against brick walls.
Everything within you protests against you.
From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head,
nothing's working right.
Wounds and bruises and running sores—
untended, unwashed, unbandaged.
Your country is laid waste,
your cities burned down.
Your land is destroyed by outsiders while you watch,
reduced to rubble by barbarians.
Daughter Zion is deserted—
like a tumbledown shack on a dead-end street,
Like a tarpaper shanty on the wrong side of the tracks,
like a sinking ship abandoned by the rats.
If God-of-the-Angel-Armies hadn't left us a few survivors,
we'd be as desolate as Sodom, doomed just like Gomorrah.
10"Listen to my Message,
you Sodom-schooled leaders.
Receive God's revelation,
you Gomorrah-schooled people.
11-12"Why this frenzy of sacrifices?"
"Don't you think I've had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don't you think I've had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?
13-17"Quit your worship charades.
I can't stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You've worn me out!
I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I'll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I'll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you've been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don't have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.
Let's Argue This Out18-20"Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out."
This is God's Message:
"If your sins are blood-red,
they'll be snow-white.
If they're red like crimson,
they'll be like wool.
If you'll willingly obey,
you'll feast like kings.
But if you're willful and stubborn,
you'll die like dogs."
That's right. God says so.
Those Who Walk Out on God21-23Oh! Can you believe it? The chaste city
has become a whore!
She was once all justice,
everyone living as good neighbors,
And now they're all
at one another's throats.
Your coins are all counterfeits.
Your wine is watered down.
Your leaders are turncoats
who keep company with crooks.
They sell themselves to the highest bidder
and grab anything not nailed down.
They never stand up for the homeless,
never stick up for the defenseless. 24-31This Decree, therefore, of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
the Strong One of Israel:
"This is it! I'll get my oppressors off my back.
I'll get back at my enemies.
I'll give you the back of my hand,
purge the junk from your life, clean you up.
I'll set honest judges and wise counselors among you
just like it was back in the beginning.
Then you'll be renamed
City-That-Treats-People-Right, the True-Blue City."
God's right ways will put Zion right again.
God's right actions will restore her penitents.
But it's curtains for rebels and God-traitors,
a dead end for those who walk out on God.
"Your dalliances in those oak grove shrines
will leave you looking mighty foolish,
All that fooling around in god and goddess gardens
that you thought was the latest thing.
You'll end up like an oak tree
with all its leaves falling off,
Like an unwatered garden,
withered and brown.
'The Big Man' will turn out to be dead bark and twigs,
and his 'work,' the spark that starts the fire
That exposes man and work both
as nothing but cinders and smoke."
Climb God's Mountain1-5 The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem: There's a day coming when the mountain of God's House
Will be The Mountain—
solid, towering over all mountains.
All nations will river toward it,
people from all over set out for it.
They'll say, "Come,
let's climb God's Mountain,
go to the House of the God of Jacob.
He'll show us the way he works
so we can live the way we're made."
Zion's the source of the revelation.
God's Message comes from Jerusalem.
He'll settle things fairly between nations.
He'll make things right between many peoples.
They'll turn their swords into shovels,
their spears into hoes.
No more will nation fight nation;
they won't play war anymore.
Come, family of Jacob,
let's live in the light of God. 6-9God, you've walked out on your family Jacob
because their world is full of hokey religion,
Philistine witchcraft, and pagan hocus-pocus,
a world rolling in wealth,
Stuffed with things,
no end to its machines and gadgets,
And gods—gods of all sorts and sizes.
These people make their own gods and worship what they make.
A degenerate race, facedown in the gutter.
Don't bother with them! They're not worth forgiving!
Pretentious Egos Brought Down to Earth10Head for the hills,
hide in the caves
From the terror of God,
from his dazzling presence. 11-17People with a big head are headed for a fall,
pretentious egos brought down a peg.
It's God alone at front-and-center
on the Day we're talking about,
The Day that God-of-the-Angel-Armies
is matched against all big-talking rivals,
against all swaggering big names;
Against all giant sequoias
and against the expansive chestnut;
Against Kilimanjaro and Annapurna,
against the ranges of Alps and Andes;
Against every soaring skyscraper,
against all proud obelisks and statues;
Against ocean-going luxury liners,
against elegant three-masted schooners.
The swelled big heads will be punctured bladders,
the pretentious egos brought down to earth,
Leaving God alone at front-and-center
on the Day we're talking about.
18And all those sticks and stones
dressed up to look like gods
will be gone for good.
19Clamber into caves in the cliffs,
duck into any hole you can find.
Hide from the terror of God,
from his dazzling presence,
When he assumes his full stature on earth,
towering and terrifying.
20-21On that Day men and women will take
the sticks and stones
They've decked out in gold and silver
to look like gods and then worshiped,
And they will dump them
in any ditch or gully,
Then run for rock caves
and cliff hideouts
To hide from the terror of God,
from his dazzling presence,
When he assumes his full stature on earth,
towering and terrifying.
22Quit scraping and fawning over mere humans,
so full of themselves, so full of hot air!
Can't you see there's nothing to them?
2 Corinthians 10:1-18 (The Message)
2 Corinthians 10
Tearing Down Barriers1-2And now a personal but most urgent matter; I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I'm being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I'm with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. Please don't force me to take a hard line when I'm present with you. Don't think that I'll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I'm an unprincipled opportunist. Then they'll have to eat their words. 3-6The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
7-8You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can't see the forest for the trees. If you're looking for a clear example of someone on Christ's side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ. You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I'm not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down.
9-11And what's this talk about me bullying you with my letters? "His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he's a weakling and mumbles when he talks." Such talk won't survive scrutiny. What we write when away, we do when present. We're the exact same people, absent or present, in letter or in person.
12We're not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they're our superiors. We wouldn't dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.
13-14We aren't making outrageous claims here. We're sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We're not moving into someone else's "territory." We were already there with you, weren't we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?
15-18We're not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. What we're hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you'll play a part within our expanding work. And we'll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. "If you want to claim credit, claim it for God." What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference.
Psalm 52:1-9 (The Message)
A David Psalm, When Doeg the Edomite Reported to Saul, "David's at Ahimelech's House"1-4 Why do you brag of evil, "Big Man"?
God's mercy carries the day.
You scheme catastrophe;
your tongue cuts razor-sharp,
artisan in lies.
You love evil more than good,
you call black white.
You love malicious gossip,
5 God will tear you limb from limb,
sweep you up and throw you out,
Pull you up by the roots
from the land of life.
6-7 Good people will watch and
worship. They'll laugh in relief:
"Big Man bet on the wrong horse,
trusted in big money,
made his living from catastrophe."
8 And I'm an olive tree,
growing green in God's house.
I trusted in the generous mercy
of God then and now.
9 I thank you always
that you went into action.
And I'll stay right here,
your good name my hope,
in company with your faithful friends.
Proverbs 22:26-27 (The Message)
326-27 Don't gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,
hocking your house against a lucky chance.
The time will come when you have to pay up;
you'll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
American writer, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer, Mark Twain wrote, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”