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, December 18, 2016

Bible Readings for December 18, 2016

Today, our passages is Habakkuk 1:1–3:19; Revelation 9:1-21; Psalm 137:1-9; and Proverbs 30:10. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you missed a day, you can find all the readings at our blog, The Bible in a Year. 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.

Habakkuk 1-3:19 (The Message)

Habakkuk 1

Justice Is a Joke
 1-4 The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it: God, how long do I have to cry out for help
   before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, "Help! Murder! Police!"
   before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
   stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
   quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
   Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
   and stand justice on its head.

God Says, "Look!"
 5-11"Look around at the godless nations.
   Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock.
Something's about to take place
   and you're going to find it hard to believe.
I'm about to raise up Babylonians to punish you,
   Babylonians, fierce and ferocious—
World-conquering Babylon,
   grabbing up nations right and left,
A dreadful and terrible people,
   making up its own rules as it goes.
Their horses run like the wind,
   attack like bloodthirsty wolves.
A stampede of galloping horses
   thunders out of nowhere.
They descend like vultures
   circling in on carrion.
They're out to kill. Death is on their minds.
   They collect victims like squirrels gathering nuts.
They mock kings,
   poke fun at generals,
Spit on forts,
   and leave them in the dust.
They'll all be blown away by the wind.
   Brazen in sin, they call strength their god."

Why Is God Silent Now?
 12-13God, you're from eternity, aren't you?
   Holy God, we aren't going to die, are we?
God, you chose Babylonians for your judgment work?
   Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of discipline?
But you can't be serious!
   You can't condone evil!
So why don't you do something about this?
   Why are you silent now?
This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous
   and you stand around and watch!
 14-16You're treating men and women
   as so many fish in the ocean,
Swimming without direction,
   swimming but not getting anywhere.
Then this evil Babylonian arrives and goes fishing.
   He pulls in a good catch.
He catches his limit and fills his creel—
   a good day of fishing! He's happy!
He praises his rod and reel,
   piles his fishing gear on an altar and worships it!
It's made his day,
   and he's going to eat well tonight!

 17Are you going to let this go on and on?
   Will you let this Babylonian fisherman
Fish like a weekend angler,
   killing people as if they're nothing but fish?

Habakkuk 2

 1 What's God going to say to my questions? I'm braced for the worst. I'll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I'll wait to see what God says,
   how he'll answer my complaint.

Full of Self, but Soul-Empty
 2-3And then God answered: "Write this.
   Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
   so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
   pointing to what's coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
   And it doesn't lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
   It's on its way. It will come right on time.
 4"Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
   full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
   through loyal and steady believing
   is fully alive, really alive.

 5-6"Note well: Money deceives.
   The arrogant rich don't last.
They are more hungry for wealth
   than the grave is for cadavers.
Like death, they always want more,
   but the 'more' they get is dead bodies.
They are cemeteries filled with dead nations,
   graveyards filled with corpses.
Don't give people like this a second thought.
   Soon the whole world will be taunting them:

 6-8"'Who do you think you are—
   getting rich by stealing and extortion?
How long do you think
   you can get away with this?'
Indeed, how long before your victims wake up,
   stand up and make you the victim?
You've plundered nation after nation.
   Now you'll get a taste of your own medicine.
All the survivors are out to plunder you,
   a payback for all your murders and massacres.

 9-11"Who do you think you are—
   recklessly grabbing and looting,
Living it up, acting like king of the mountain,
   acting above it all, above trials and troubles?
You've engineered the ruin of your own house.
   In ruining others you've ruined yourself.
You've undermined your foundations,
   rotted out your own soul.
The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you.
   The woodwork will step forward with evidence.

 12-14"Who do you think you are—
   building a town by murder, a city with crime?
Don't you know that God-of-the-Angel-Armies
   makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes,
Makes sure the harder you work
   at that kind of thing, the less you are?
Meanwhile the earth fills up
   with awareness of God's glory
   as the waters cover the sea.

 15-17"Who do you think you are—
   inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties,
Giving them too much to drink,
   roping them into your sexual orgies?
You thought you were having the time of your life.
   Wrong! It's a time of disgrace.
All the time you were drinking,
   you were drinking from the cup of God's wrath.
You'll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over—
   hung over from Lebanon violence,
Hung over from animal massacres,
   hung over from murder and mayhem,
From multiple violations
   of place and people.

 18-19"What's the use of a carved god
   so skillfully carved by its sculptor?
What good is a fancy cast god
   when all it tells is lies?
What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker
   who makes gods that can't even talk?
Who do you think you are—
   saying to a stick of wood, 'Wake up,'
Or to a dumb stone, 'Get up'?
   Can they teach you anything about anything?
There's nothing to them but surface.
   There's nothing on the inside.

 20"But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
   Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!"

Habakkuk 3

God Racing on the Crest of the Waves
 1-2 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra: God, I've heard what our ancestors say about you,
   and I'm stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
   Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
   remember mercy.
 3-7God's on his way again,
   retracing the old salvation route,
Coming up from the south through Teman,
   the Holy One from Mount Paran.
Skies are blazing with his splendor,
   his praises sounding through the earth,
His cloud-brightness like dawn, exploding, spreading,
   forked-lightning shooting from his hand—
   what power hidden in that fist!
Plague marches before him,
   pestilence at his heels!
He stops. He shakes Earth.
   He looks around. Nations tremble.
The age-old mountains fall to pieces;
   ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon.
The paths God takes are older
   than the oldest mountains and hills.
I saw everyone worried, in a panic:
   Old wilderness adversaries,
Cushan and Midian, were terrified,
   hoping he wouldn't notice them.

 8-16God, is it River you're mad at?
   Angry at old River?
Were you raging at Sea when you rode
   horse and chariot through to salvation?
You unfurled your bow
   and let loose a volley of arrows.
   You split Earth with rivers.
Mountains saw what was coming.
   They twisted in pain.
Flood Waters poured in.
   Ocean roared and reared huge waves.
Sun and Moon stopped in their tracks.
   Your flashing arrows stopped them,
   your lightning-strike spears impaled them.
Angry, you stomped through Earth.
   Furious, you crushed the godless nations.
You were out to save your people,
   to save your specially chosen people.
You beat the stuffing
   out of King Wicked,
Stripped him naked
   from head to toe,
Set his severed head on his own spear
   and blew away his army.
Scattered they were to the four winds—
   and ended up food for the sharks!
You galloped through the Sea on your horses,
   racing on the crest of the waves.
When I heard it, my stomach did flips.
   I stammered and stuttered.
My bones turned to water.
   I staggered and stumbled.
I sit back and wait for Doomsday
   to descend on our attackers.

 17-19Though the cherry trees don't blossom
   and the strawberries don't ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
   and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
   and the cattle barns empty,
I'm singing joyful praise to God.
   I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God's Rule to prevail,
   I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
   I feel like I'm king of the mountain!

   (For congregational use, with a full orchestra.)

Revelation 9:1-21 (The Message)

Revelation 9

 1-2The fifth Angel trumpeted. I saw a Star plummet from Heaven to earth. The Star was handed a key to the Well of the Abyss. He unlocked the Well of the Abyss—smoke poured out of the Well, billows and billows of smoke, sun and air in blackout from smoke pouring out of the Well.  3-6Then out of the smoke crawled locusts with the venom of scorpions. They were given their orders: "Don't hurt the grass, don't hurt anything green, don't hurt a single tree—only men and women, and then only those who lack the seal of God on their foreheads." They were ordered to torture but not kill, torture them for five months, the pain like a scorpion sting. When this happens, people are going to prefer death to torture, look for ways to kill themselves. But they won't find a way—death will have gone into hiding.
 7-11The locusts looked like horses ready for war. They had gold crowns, human faces, women's hair, the teeth of lions, and iron breastplates. The sound of their wings was the sound of horse-drawn chariots charging into battle. Their tails were equipped with stings, like scorpion tails. With those tails they were ordered to torture the human race for five months. They had a king over them, the Angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, in Greek, Apollyon—"Destroyer."
 12The first doom is past. Two dooms yet to come.
 13-14The sixth Angel trumpeted. I heard a voice speaking to the sixth Angel from the horns of the Golden Altar before God: "Let the Four Angels loose, the Angels confined at the great River Euphrates."
 15-19The Four Angels were untied and let loose, Four Angels all prepared for the exact year, month, day, and even hour when they were to kill a third of the human race. The number of the army of horsemen was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard the count and saw both horses and riders in my vision: fiery breastplates on the riders, lion heads on the horses breathing out fire and smoke and brimstone. With these three weapons—fire and smoke and brimstone—they killed a third of the human race. The horses killed with their mouths and tails; their serpentlike tails also had heads that wreaked havoc.
 20-21The remaining men and women who weren't killed by these weapons went on their merry way—didn't change their way of life, didn't quit worshiping demons, didn't quit centering their lives around lumps of gold and silver and brass, hunks of stone and wood that couldn't see or hear or move. There wasn't a sign of a change of heart. They plunged right on in their murderous, occult, promiscuous, and thieving ways.

Psalm 137:1-9 (The Message)

Psalm 137

    Alongside Babylon's rivers we sat on the banks; we cried and cried,
      remembering the good old days in Zion.
   Alongside the quaking aspens
      we stacked our unplayed harps;
   That's where our captors demanded songs,
      sarcastic and mocking:
      "Sing us a happy Zion song!"

 4-6 Oh, how could we ever sing God's song
      in this wasteland?
   If I ever forget you, Jerusalem,
      let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
   Let my tongue swell and turn black
      if I fail to remember you,
   If I fail, O dear Jerusalem,
      to honor you as my greatest.

 7-9 God, remember those Edomites,
      and remember the ruin of Jerusalem,
   That day they yelled out,
      "Wreck it, smash it to bits!"
   And you, Babylonians—ravagers!
      A reward to whoever gets back at you
      for all you've done to us;
   Yes, a reward to the one who grabs your babies
      and smashes their heads on the rocks!

Proverbs 30:10 (The Message)

 10 Don't blow the whistle on your fellow workers
   behind their backs;
They'll accuse you of being underhanded,
   and then you'll be the guilty one!

Verse of the Day

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come to save his people. Our God has given us a mighty Savior from the family of David his servant. Long ago the Lord promised by the words of his holy prophets” - Luke 1:68-70
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

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Thought for the Day

Spanish liberal philosopher, and essayist, José Ortega y Gasset wrote, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”

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