Today, our passages is Zephaniah 1:1–3:20; Revelation 10:1-11; Psalm 138.1-8; and Proverbs 30:11-14. 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.
Zephaniah 1-3:20 (The Message)
No Longer Giving God a Thought or a Prayer1 God's Message to Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah. It came during the reign of Josiah son of Amon, who was king of Judah: 2"I'm going to make a clean sweep of the earth,
a thorough housecleaning." God's Decree.
3"Men and women and animals,
including birds and fish—
Anything and everything that causes sin—will go,
but especially people.
4-6"I'll start with Judah
and everybody who lives in Jerusalem.
I'll sweep the place clean of every trace
of the sex-and-religion Baal shrines and their priests.
I'll get rid of the people who sneak up to their rooftops at night
to worship the star gods and goddesses;
Also those who continue to worship God
but cover their bases by worshiping other king-gods as well;
Not to mention those who've dumped God altogether,
no longer giving him a thought or offering a prayer.
Reverent silence before me, God, the Master!
Time's up. My Judgment Day is near:
The Holy Day is all set, the invited guests made holy.
On the Holy Day, God's Judgment Day,
I will punish the leaders and the royal sons;
I will punish those who dress up like foreign priests and priestesses,
Who introduce pagan prayers and practices;
And I'll punish all who import pagan superstitions
that turn holy places into hellholes.
Judgment Day!" God's Decree!
"Cries of panic from the city's Fish Gate,
Cries of terror from the city's Second Quarter,
sounds of great crashing from the hills!
Wail, you shopkeepers on Market Street!
Moneymaking has had its day. The god Money is dead.
On Judgment Day,
I'll search through every closet and alley in Jerusalem.
I'll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy,
amusing themselves and taking it easy,
Who think, 'God doesn't do anything, good or bad.
He isn't involved, so neither are we.'
But just wait. They'll lose everything they have,
money and house and land.
They'll build a house and never move in.
They'll plant vineyards and never taste the wine.
A Day of Darkness at Noon14-18"The Great Judgment Day of God is almost here.
It's countdown time:...seven, six, five, four...
Bitter and noisy cries on my Judgment Day,
even strong men screaming for help.
Judgment Day is payday—my anger paid out:
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of catastrophic doom,
a day of darkness at noon,
a day of black storm clouds,
a day of bloodcurdling war cries,
as forts are assaulted,
as defenses are smashed.
I'll make things so bad they won't know what hit them.
They'll walk around groping like the blind.
They've sinned against God!
Their blood will be poured out like old dishwater,
their guts shoveled into slop buckets.
Don't plan on buying your way out.
Your money is worthless for this.
This is the Day of God's Judgment—my wrath!
I care about sin with fiery passion—
A fire to burn up the corrupted world,
a wildfire finish to the corrupting people."
Seek God1-2 So get yourselves together. Shape up!
You're a nation without a clue about what it wants.
Do it before you're blown away
like leaves in a windstorm,
Before God's Judgment-anger
sweeps down on you,
Before God's Judgment Day wrath
descends with full force. 3Seek God, all you quietly disciplined people
who live by God's justice.
Seek God's right ways. Seek a quiet and disciplined life.
Perhaps you'll be hidden on the Day of God's anger.
All Earth-Made Gods Will Blow Away4-5Gaza is scheduled for demolition,
Ashdod will be cleaned out by high noon,
Ekron pulled out by the roots.
Doom to the seaside people,
the seafaring people from Crete!
The Word of God is bad news for you
who settled Canaan, the Philistine country:
"You're slated for destruction—
no survivors!" 6-7The lands of the seafarers
will become pastureland,
A country for shepherds and sheep.
What's left of the family of Judah will get it.
Day after day they'll pasture by the sea,
and go home in the evening to Ashkelon to sleep.
Their very own God will look out for them.
He'll make things as good as before.
8-12"I've heard the crude taunts of Moab,
the mockeries flung by Ammon,
The cruel talk they've used to put down my people,
their self-important strutting along Israel's borders.
Therefore, as sure as I am the living God," says God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
Israel's personal God,
"Moab will become a ruin like Sodom,
Ammon a ghost town like Gomorrah,
One a field of rocks, the other a sterile salt flat,
a moonscape forever.
What's left of my people will finish them off,
will pick them clean and take over.
This is what they get for their bloated pride,
their taunts and mockeries of the people
God will be seen as truly terrible—a Holy Terror.
All earth-made gods will shrivel up and blow away;
And everyone, wherever they are, far or near,
will fall to the ground and worship him.
Also you Ethiopians,
you, too, will die—I'll see to it."
13-15Then God will reach into the north
and destroy Assyria.
He will waste Nineveh,
leave her dry and treeless as a desert.
The ghost town of a city,
the haunt of wild animals,
Nineveh will be home to raccoons and coyotes—
they'll bed down in its ruins.
Owls will hoot in the windows, ravens will croak in the doorways—
all that fancy woodwork now a perch for birds.
Can this be the famous Fun City
that had it made,
That boasted, "I'm the Number-One City!
I'm King of the Mountain!"
So why is the place deserted,
a lair for wild animals?
Passersby hardly give it a look;
they dismiss it with a gesture.
Sewer City1-5 Doom to the rebellious city, the home of oppressors—Sewer City!
The city that wouldn't take advice,
wouldn't accept correction,
Wouldn't trust God,
wouldn't even get close to her own god!
Her very own leaders
are rapacious lions,
Her judges are rapacious timber wolves
out every morning prowling for a fresh kill.
Her prophets are out for what they can get.
They're opportunists—you can't trust them.
Her priests desecrate the Sanctuary.
They use God's law as a weapon to maim and kill souls.
Yet God remains righteous in her midst,
untouched by the evil.
He stays at it, day after day, meting out justice.
At evening he's still at it, strong as ever.
But evil men and women, without conscience
and without shame, persist in evil. 6"So I cut off the godless nations.
I knocked down their defense posts,
Filled her roads with rubble
so no one could get through.
Her cities were bombed-out ruins,
unlivable and unlived in.
7"I thought, 'Surely she'll honor me now,
accept my discipline and correction,
Find a way of escape from the trouble she's in,
find relief from the punishment I'm bringing.'
But it didn't faze her. Bright and early
she was up at it again, doing the same old things.
8"Well, if that's what you want, stick around."
"Your day in court is coming,
but remember I'll be there to bring evidence.
I'll bring all the nations to the courtroom,
round up all the kingdoms,
And let them feel the brunt of my anger,
my raging wrath.
My zeal is a fire
that will purge and purify the earth.
God Is in Charge at the Center9-13"In the end I will turn things around for the people.
I'll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted,
Words to address God in worship
and, united, to serve me with their shoulders to the wheel.
They'll come from beyond the Ethiopian rivers,
they'll come praying—
All my scattered, exiled people
will come home with offerings for worship.
You'll no longer have to be ashamed
of all those acts of rebellion.
I'll have gotten rid of your arrogant leaders.
No more pious strutting on my holy hill!
I'll leave a core of people among you
who are poor in spirit—
What's left of Israel that's really Israel.
They'll make their home in God.
This core holy people
will not do wrong.
They won't lie,
won't use words to flatter or seduce.
Content with who they are and where they are,
unanxious, they'll live at peace." 14-15So sing, Daughter Zion!
Raise the rafters, Israel!
be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel's king,
in charge at the center.
There's nothing to fear from evil
God Is Present Among You16-17Jerusalem will be told:
"Don't be afraid.
Your God is present among you,
a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love
and delight you with his songs. 18-20"The accumulated sorrows of your exile
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
You've carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I'll get rid of all those
who've made your life miserable.
I'll heal the maimed;
I'll bring home the homeless.
In the very countries where they were hated
they will be venerated.
On Judgment Day
I'll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You'll be famous and honored
all over the world.
You'll see it with your own eyes—
all those painful partings turned into reunions!"
Revelation 10:1-11 (The Message)
Revelation 101-4I saw another powerful Angel coming down out of Heaven wrapped in a cloud. There was a rainbow over his head, his face was sun-radiant, his legs pillars of fire. He had a small book open in his hand. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left foot on land, then called out thunderously, a lion roar. When he called out, the Seven Thunders called back. When the Seven Thunders spoke, I started to write it all down, but a voice out of Heaven stopped me, saying, "Seal with silence the Seven Thunders; don't write a word." 5-7Then the Angel I saw astride sea and land lifted his right hand to Heaven and swore by the One Living Forever and Ever, who created Heaven and everything in it, earth and everything in it, sea and everything in it, that time was up—that when the seventh Angel blew his trumpet, which he was about to do, the Mystery of God, all the plans he had revealed to his servants, the prophets, would be completed.
8-11The voice out of Heaven spoke to me again: "Go, take the book held open in the hand of the Angel astride sea and earth." I went up to the Angel and said, "Give me the little book." He said, "Take it, then eat it. It will taste sweet like honey, but turn sour in your stomach." I took the little book from the Angel's hand and it was sweet honey in my mouth, but when I swallowed, my stomach curdled. Then I was told, "You must go back and prophesy again over many peoples and nations and languages and kings."
Psalm 138:1-8 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-3 Thank you! Everything in me says "Thank you!" Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
I kneel in worship facing your holy temple
and say it again: "Thank you!"
Thank you for your love,
thank you for your faithfulness;
Most holy is your name,
most holy is your Word.
The moment I called out, you stepped in;
you made my life large with strength.
4-6 When they hear what you have to say, God,
all earth's kings will say "Thank you."
They'll sing of what you've done:
"How great the glory of God!"
And here's why: God, high above, sees far below;
no matter the distance, he knows everything about us.
7-8 When I walk into the thick of trouble,
keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
With one hand
strike my foes,
With your other hand
Finish what you started in me, God.
Your love is eternal—don't quit on me now.
Proverbs 30:11-14 (The Message)
11 Don't curse your father
or fail to bless your mother.
12 Don't imagine yourself to be quite presentable
when you haven't had a bath in weeks.
13 Don't be stuck-up
and think you're better than everyone else.
14 Don't be greedy,
merciless and cruel as wolves,
Tearing into the poor and feasting on them,
shredding the needy to pieces only to discard them.
Verse of the Day
“You, my son, will be called a prophet of God in heaven above. You will go ahead of the Lord to get everything ready for him. You will tell his people that they can be saved when their sins are forgiven. God's love and kindness will shine upon us like the sun that rises in the sky.” - Luke 1:76-78
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol wrote, “Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.”