Today, our passages is Zechariah 6:1–7:14; Revelation 15:1-8; Psalm 143:1-12; and Proverbs 30:24-28. 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.
Zechariah 6-7:14 (The Message)
Eighth Vision: Four Chariots1 Once again I looked up—another strange sight! Four chariots charging out from between two mountains. The mountains were bronze. 2-3The first chariot was drawn by red horses, the second chariot by black horses, the third chariot by white horses, and the fourth chariot by dappled horses. All the horses were powerful. 4I asked the Messenger-Angel, "Sir, what's the meaning here?"
5-7The angel answered, "These are the four winds of heaven, which originate with the Master of the whole earth. The black horses are headed north with the white ones right after them. The dappled horses are headed south." The powerful horses galloped out, bursting with energy, eager to patrol through the earth. The Messenger-Angel commanded: "On your way! Survey the earth!" and they were off in every direction.
8Then he called to me and said, "Look at them go! The ones going north are conveying a sense of my Spirit, serene and secure. No more trouble from that direction."
A Man Named Branch9-12Then this Message from God came to me: "Take up a collection from the exiles. Target Heldai, Tobiah, and Jedaiah. They've just arrived from Babylon. You'll find them at the home of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Collect silver and gold from them and fashion crowns. Place one on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and give him this message: 12-13"'A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Be alert. We have a man here whose name is Branch. He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of God. Yes, he's the one. He'll build the Temple of God. Then he'll assume the role of royalty, take his place on the throne and rule—a priest sitting on the throne!—showing that king and priest can coexist in harmony.'
14"The other crown will be in the Temple of God as a symbol of royalty, under the custodial care of Helem, Tobiah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah.
15"People will come from faraway places to pitch in and rebuild the Temple of God. This will confirm that God-of-the-Angel-Armies did, in fact, send me to you. All this follows as you put your minds to a life of responsive obedience to the voice of your God."
"You're Interested in Religion, I'm Interested in People"1 On the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius, God's Message again came to Zechariah. 2-3The town of Bethel had sent a delegation headed by Sarezer and Regem-Melech to pray for God's blessing and to confer with the priests of the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and also with the prophets. They posed this question: "Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem's fall, as we have been doing all these years?" 4-6God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: "When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You're interested in religion, I'm interested in people.
7-10"There's nothing new to say on the subject. Don't you still have the message of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city and the outlying countryside, the Negev and Shephelah, was populated? [This is the message that God gave Zechariah.] Well, the message hasn't changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now:
"'Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.
Don't plot and scheme against one another—that's evil.'
11-13"But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God's revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn't listen to a word he said.
13-14"So [this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies said] if they won't listen to me, I won't listen to them. I scattered them to the four winds. They ended up strangers wherever they were. Their 'promised land' became a vacant lot—weeds and tin cans and thistles. Not a sign of life. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland."
Revelation 15:1-8 (The Message)
The Song of Moses, the Song of the Lamb1 I saw another Sign in Heaven, huge and breathtaking: seven Angels with seven disasters. These are the final disasters, the wrap-up of God's wrath. 2-4I saw something like a sea made of glass, the glass all shot through with fire. Carrying harps of God, triumphant over the Beast, its image, and the number of its name, the saved ones stood on the sea of glass. They sang the Song of Moses, servant of God; they sang the Song of the Lamb:
Mighty your acts and marvelous,
O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
all nations will come and worship you,
because they see your judgments are right. 5-8Then I saw the doors of the Temple, the Tent of Witness in Heaven, open wide. The Seven Angels carrying the seven disasters came out of the Temple. They were dressed in clean, bright linen and wore gold vests. One of the Four Animals handed the Seven Angels seven gold bowls, brimming with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. Smoke from God's glory and power poured out of the Temple. No one was permitted to enter the Temple until the seven disasters of the Seven Angels were finished.
Psalm 143:1-12 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-2 Listen to this prayer of mine, God; pay attention to what I'm asking.
Answer me—you're famous for your answers!
Do what's right for me.
But don't, please don't, haul me into court;
not a person alive would be acquitted there.
3-6 The enemy hunted me down;
he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.
He put me in a black hole,
buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.
I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days,
went over all you've done, pondered the ways you've worked,
Stretched out my hands to you,
as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.
7-10 Hurry with your answer, God!
I'm nearly at the end of my rope.
Don't turn away; don't ignore me!
That would be certain death.
If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
I'll go to sleep each night trusting in you.
Point out the road I must travel;
I'm all ears, all eyes before you.
Save me from my enemies, God—
you're my only hope!
Teach me how to live to please you,
because you're my God.
Lead me by your blessed Spirit
into cleared and level pastureland.
11-12 Keep up your reputation, God—give me life!
In your justice, get me out of this trouble!
In your great love, vanquish my enemies;
make a clean sweep of those who harass me.
And why? Because I'm your servant.
Proverbs 30:24-28 (The Message)
Four Small Wonders24-28 There are four small creatures,
wisest of the wise they are—
ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.
Verse of the Day
“They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay. When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. Everyone listened and was surprised. But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.” - Luke 2:16-20
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American writer, cartoonist, animator, book publisher, and artist best known for authoring children's books, Theodor Seuss Geisel/Dr. Seuss wrote, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”