Today, our passages are Amos 7:1–9:15; Revelation 3:7-22; Psalm 131:1-3; and Proverbs 29:23. 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 by using the link below.
Amos 7-9:15 (The Message)
To Die Homeless and Friendless1-2 G od, my Master, showed me this vision: He was preparing a locust swarm. The first cutting, which went to the king, was complete, and the second crop was just sprouting. The locusts ate everything green. Not even a blade of grass was left. I called out, "God, my Master! Excuse me, but what's going to come of Jacob? He's so small."
To Die Homeless and Friendless1-2 God, my Master, showed me this vision: He was preparing a locust swarm. The first cutting, which went to the king, was complete, and the second crop was just sprouting. The locusts ate everything green. Not even a blade of grass was left. I called out, "God, my Master! Excuse me, but what's going to come of Jacob? He's so small."
4 God showed me this vision: Oh! God, my Master God was calling up a firestorm. It burned up the ocean. Then it burned up the Promised Land.
5 I said, "God, my Master! Hold it—please! What's going to come of Jacob? He's so small."
6 God gave in.
"All right, this won't happen either," God, my Master, said.
7 God showed me this vision: My Master was standing beside a wall. In his hand he held a plumb line.
8-9 God said to me, "What do you see, Amos?"
I said, "A plumb line."
Then my Master said, "Look what I've done. I've hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I've spared them for the last time. This is it!
"Isaac's sex-and-religion shrines will be smashed,
Israel's unholy shrines will be knocked to pieces.
I'm raising my sword against the royal family of Jeroboam."
10 Amaziah, priest at the shrine at Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel:
"Amos is plotting to get rid of you; and he's doing it as an insider, working from within Israel. His talk will destroy the country. He's got to be silenced. Do you know what Amos is saying?
11'Jeroboam will be killed.
Israel is headed for exile.'
12-13 Then Amaziah confronted Amos: "Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don't show your face here again. This is the king's chapel. This is a royal shrine."
14-15 But Amos stood up to Amaziah: "I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, 'Go preach to my people Israel.'
16-17 "So listen to God's Word. You tell me, 'Don't preach to Israel. Don't say anything against the family of Isaac.' But here's what God is telling you:
Your wife will become a whore in town.
Your children will get killed.
Your land will be auctioned off.
You will die homeless and friendless.
And Israel will be hauled off to exile, far from home."
You Who Give Little and Take Much1 My Master God showed me this vision: A bowl of fresh fruit. 2He said, "What do you see, Amos?" I said, "A bowl of fresh, ripe fruit." God said, "Right. So, I'm calling it quits with my people Israel. I'm no longer acting as if everything is just fine." 3"The royal singers will wail when it happens."
My Master God said so.
"Corpses will be strewn here, there, and everywhere.
4-6Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak,
you who treat poor people as less than nothing,
Who say, "When's my next paycheck coming
so I can go out and live it up?
How long till the weekend
when I can go out and have a good time?"
Who give little and take much,
and never do an honest day's work.
You exploit the poor, using them—
and then, when they're used up, you discard them.
7-8God swears against the arrogance of Jacob:
"I'm keeping track of their every last sin."
God's oath will shake earth's foundations,
dissolve the whole world into tears.
God's oath will sweep in like a river that rises,
flooding houses and lands,
And then recedes,
leaving behind a sea of mud.
9-10"On Judgment Day, watch out!"
These are the words of God, my Master.
"I'll turn off the sun at noon.
In the middle of the day the earth will go black.
I'll turn your parties into funerals
and make every song you sing a dirge.
Everyone will walk around in rags,
with sunken eyes and bald heads.
Think of the worst that could happen
—your only son, say, murdered.
That's a hint of Judgment Day
—that and much more.
11-12"Oh yes, Judgment Day is coming!"
These are the words of my Master God.
"I'll send a famine through the whole country.
It won't be food or water that's lacking, but my Word.
People will drift from one end of the country to the other,
roam to the north, wander to the east.
They'll go anywhere, listen to anyone,
hoping to hear God's Word—but they won't hear it.
13-14"On Judgment Day,
lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst,
robust young men will faint of God-thirst,
Along with those who take oaths at the Samaria Sin-and-Sex Center,
saying, 'As the lord god of Dan is my witness!'
and 'The lady goddess of Beer-sheba bless you!'
Their lives will fall to pieces.
They'll never put it together again."
Israel Thrown into a Sieve1-4 I saw my Master standing beside the altar at the shrine. He said: "Hit the tops of the shrine's pillars,
make the floor shake.
The roof's about to fall on the heads of the people,
and whoever's still alive, I'll kill.
No one will get away,
no runaways will make it.
If they dig their way down into the underworld,
I'll find them and bring them up.
If they climb to the stars,
I'll find them and bring them down.
If they hide out at the top of Mount Carmel,
I'll find them and bring them back.
If they dive to the bottom of the ocean,
I'll send Dragon to swallow them up.
If they're captured alive by their enemies,
I'll send Sword to kill them.
I've made up my mind
to hurt them, not help them." 5-6My Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
touches the earth, a mere touch, and it trembles.
The whole world goes into mourning.
Earth swells like the Nile at flood stage;
then the water subsides, like the great Nile of Egypt.
God builds his palace—towers soaring high in the skies,
foundations set on the rock-firm earth.
He calls ocean waters and they come,
then he ladles them out on the earth.
God, your God, does all this.
7-8 "Do you Israelites think you're any better than the far-off Cushites?" God's Decree.
"Am I not involved with all nations? Didn't I bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, the Arameans from Qir? But you can be sure that I, God, the Master, have my eye on the Kingdom of Sin. I'm going to wipe it off the face of the earth. Still, I won't totally destroy the family of Jacob." God's Decree.
9-10 "I'm still giving the orders around here. I'm throwing Israel into a sieve among all the nations and shaking them good, shaking out all the sin, all the sinners. No real grain will be lost, but all the sinners will be sifted out and thrown away, the people who say, 'Nothing bad will ever happen in our lifetime. It won't even come close.'
Blessings Like Wine Pouring off the Mountains11-12 "But also on that Judgment Day I will restore David's house that has fallen to pieces. I'll repair the holes in the roof, replace the broken windows, fix it up like new. David's people will be strong again and seize what's left of enemy Edom, plus everyone else under my sovereign judgment." God's Decree. He will do this. 13-15 "Yes indeed, it won't be long now." God's Decree.
"Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won't be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I'll make everything right again for my people Israel:
"They'll rebuild their ruined cities.
They'll plant vineyards and drink good wine.
They'll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables.
And I'll plant them, plant them on their own land.
They'll never again be uprooted from the land I've given them."
God, your God, says so.
Revelation 3:7-22 (The Message)
To Philadelphia7Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David's key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks: 8"I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.
9"And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they're forced to acknowledge it's you that I've loved.
10"Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I'll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.
11"I'm on my way; I'll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.
12"I'll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I'll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God's City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.
13"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."
To Laodicea14Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God's Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God's creation, says: 15-17"I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
18"Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
19"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!
20-21"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!
22"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."
Psalm 131:1-3 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song1God, I'm not trying to rule the roost, I don't want to be king of the mountain.
I haven't meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.
2 I've kept my feet on the ground,
I've cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother's arms,
my soul is a baby content.
3 Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.
Hope now; hope always!
Proverbs 29:23 (The Message)
23 Pride lands you flat on your face;
humility prepares you for honors.
Verse of the Day
“But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God's children.” - Galatians 4:4-5
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, and social reformer, William Lloyd Garrison wrote, “I have not come here with reference to any flag but that of freedom. If your Union does not symbolize universal emancipation, it brings no Union for me. If your Constitution does not guarantee freedom for all, it is not a Constitution I can ascribe to. If your flag is stained by the blood of a brother held in bondage, I repudiate it in the name of God. I came here to witness the unfurling of a flag under which every human being is to be recognized as entitled to his freedom. Therefore, with a clear conscience, without any compromise of principles, I accepted the invitation of the Government of the United States to be present and witness the ceremonies that have taken place today. And now let me give the sentiment which has been, and ever will be, the governing passion of my soul: ‘Liberty for each, for all, and forever!’”