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.

The Bible in a Year is a ministry of Cove Presbyterian Church. We need your support to keep posting. If you find it helpful, you can support this blog by your contributions. They may be sent to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, WV 26062. You can also use the PayPal link below:

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bible Readings for January 30, 2016

Today our passages are Exodus 10:1–12:13; Matthew 20:1-28; Psalm 25:1-15; and Proverbs 6:6-11. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Exodus 10-12:13 (The Message)

Exodus 10

Strike Eight: Locusts
 1-2 God said to Moses: "Go to Pharaoh. I've made him stubborn, him and his servants, so that I can force him to look at these signs and so you'll be able to tell your children and grandchildren how I toyed with the Egyptians, like a cat with a mouse; you'll tell them the stories of the signs that I brought down on them, so that you'll all know that I am God."  3-6 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, "God, the God of the Hebrews, says, 'How long are you going to refuse to knuckle under? Release my people so that they can worship me. If you refuse to release my people, watch out; tomorrow I'm bringing locusts into your country. They'll cover every square inch of ground; no one will be able to see the ground. They'll devour everything left over from the hailstorm, even the saplings out in the fields—they'll clear-cut the trees. And they'll invade your houses, filling the houses of your servants, filling every house in Egypt. Nobody will have ever seen anything like this, from the time your ancestors first set foot on this soil until today.'"
   Then he turned on his heel and left Pharaoh.
 7 Pharaoh's servants said to him, "How long are you going to let this man harass us? Let these people go and worship their God. Can't you see that Egypt is on its last legs?"
 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. He said to them, "Go ahead then. Go worship your God. But just who exactly is going with you?"
 9 Moses said, "We're taking young and old, sons and daughters, flocks and herds—this is our worship-celebration of God."
 10-11 He said, "I'd sooner send you off with God's blessings than let you go with your children. Look, you're up to no good—it's written all over your faces. Nothing doing. Just the men are going—go ahead and worship God. That's what you want so badly." And they were thrown out of Pharaoh's presence.
 12 God said to Moses: "Stretch your hand over Egypt and signal the locusts to cover the land of Egypt, devouring every blade of grass in the country, everything that the hail didn't get."
 13 Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt. God let loose an east wind. It blew that day and night. By morning the east wind had brought in the locusts.
 14-15 The locusts covered the country of Egypt, settling over every square inch of Egypt; the place was thick with locusts. There never was an invasion of locusts like it in the past, and never will be again. The ground was completely covered, black with locusts. They ate everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, anything that the hail didn't get. Nothing left but bare trees and bare fields—not a sign of green in the whole land of Egypt.
 16-17 Pharaoh had Moses and Aaron back in no time. He said, "I've sinned against your God and against you. Overlook my sin one more time. Pray to your God to get me out of this—get death out of here!"
 18-19 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God reversed the wind—a powerful west wind took the locusts and dumped them into the Red Sea. There wasn't a single locust left in the whole country of Egypt.
 20 But God made Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He still didn't release the Israelites.
Strike Nine: Darkness
21 God said to Moses: "Stretch your hand to the skies. Let darkness descend on the land of Egypt—a darkness so dark you can touch it."  22-23 Moses stretched out his hand to the skies. Thick darkness descended on the land of Egypt for three days. Nobody could see anybody. For three days no one could so much as move. Except for the Israelites: they had light where they were living.
 24 Pharaoh called in Moses: "Go and worship God. Leave your flocks and herds behind. But go ahead and take your children."
 25-26 But Moses said, "You have to let us take our sacrificial animals and offerings with us so we can sacrifice them in worship to our God. Our livestock has to go with us with not a hoof left behind; they are part of the worship of our God. And we don't know just what will be needed until we get there."
 27 But God kept Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He wouldn't agree to release them.
 28 Pharaoh said to Moses: "Get out of my sight! And watch your step. I don't want to ever see you again. If I lay eyes on you again, you're dead."
 29 Moses said, "Have it your way. You won't see my face again."

Exodus 11

Strike Ten: Death
 1God said to Moses: "I'm going to hit Pharaoh and Egypt one final time, and then he'll let you go. When he releases you, that will be the end of Egypt for you; he won't be able to get rid of you fast enough.  2-3 "So here's what you do. Tell the people to ask, each man from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor, for things made of silver and gold." God saw to it that the Egyptians liked the people. Also, Moses was greatly admired by the Egyptians, a respected public figure among both Pharaoh's servants and the people at large.
 4-7 Then Moses confronted Pharaoh: "God's Message: 'At midnight I will go through Egypt and every firstborn child in Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl working at her hand mill. Also the firstborn of animals. Widespread wailing will erupt all over the country, lament such as has never been and never will be again. But against the Israelites—man, woman, or animal—there won't be so much as a dog's bark, so that you'll know that God makes a clear distinction between Egypt and Israel.'
 8 "Then all these servants of yours will go to their knees, begging me to leave, 'Leave! You and all the people who follow you!' And I will most certainly leave."
   Moses, seething with anger, left Pharaoh.
 9 God said to Moses, "Pharaoh's not going to listen to a thing you say so that the signs of my presence and work are going to multiply in the land of Egypt."
 10 Moses and Aaron had performed all these signs in Pharaoh's presence, but God turned Pharaoh more stubborn than ever—yet again he refused to release the Israelites from his land.

Exodus 12

 1-10 God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, "This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat. Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats. Keep it penned until the fourteenth day of this month and then slaughter it—the entire community of Israel will do this—at dusk. Then take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don't eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it's roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don't leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire.  11 "And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it's the Passover to God.
 12-13 "I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Matthew 20:1-28 (The Message)

Matthew 20

A Story About Workers
 1-2 "God's kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work. 3-5"Later, about nine o'clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
 5-6"He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o'clock. At five o'clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, 'Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?'
 7"They said, 'Because no one hired us.'
   "He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
 8"When the day's work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, 'Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.'
 9-12"Those hired at five o'clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, 'These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.'
 13-15"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn't we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can't I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?'
 16"Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."
To Drink from the Cup
 17-19Jesus, now well on the way up to Jerusalem, took the Twelve off to the side of the road and said, "Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crucifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive."
 20It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
 21"What do you want?" Jesus asked.
   She said, "Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand."
 22Jesus responded, "You have no idea what you're asking." And he said to James and John, "Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink?"
   They said, "Sure, why not?"
 23Jesus said, "Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that's not my business. My Father is taking care of that."
 24-28When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, "You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage."

Psalm 25:1-15 (The Message)

Psalm 25

A David Psalm
 1-2 My head is high, God, held high; I'm looking to you, God;
   No hangdog skulking for me.

 3 I've thrown in my lot with you;
   You won't embarrass me, will you?
   Or let my enemies get the best of me?
   Don't embarrass any of us
   Who went out on a limb for you.
   It's the traitors who should be humiliated.

 4 Show me how you work, God;
   School me in your ways.

 5 Take me by the hand;
   Lead me down the path of truth.
   You are my Savior, aren't you?

 6 Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
   Rebuild the ancient landmarks!

 7 Forget that I sowed wild oats;
   Mark me with your sign of love.
   Plan only the best for me, God!

 8 God is fair and just;
   He corrects the misdirected,
   Sends them in the right direction.

 9 He gives the rejects his hand,
   And leads them step-by-step.

 10 From now on every road you travel
   Will take you to God.
   Follow the Covenant signs;
   Read the charted directions.

 11 Keep up your reputation, God;
   Forgive my bad life;
   It's been a very bad life.

 12 My question: What are God-worshipers like?
   Your answer: Arrows aimed at God's bull's-eye.

 13 They settle down in a promising place;
   Their kids inherit a prosperous farm.

 14 God-friendship is for God-worshipers;
   They are the ones he confides in.

 15 If I keep my eyes on God,
   I won't trip over my own feet.

Proverbs 6:6-11 (The Message)

A Lesson from the Ant
 6-11 You lazy fool, look at an ant.
   Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
   All summer it stores up food;
   at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
   How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
   sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
   poverty your permanent houseguest!

Verse of the Day

“Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other.” - Ephesians 4:2
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

FDR in 1933.jpg
Thought for the Day

American statesman and political leader who served as the President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote, “We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bible Readings for January 29, 2016

Today our passages are Exodus 7:25–9:35; Matthew 19:13-30; Psalm 24:1-10; and Proverbs 6:1-5. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Exodus 7:25-9:35 (The Message)

 22-25 But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their incantations. Still Pharaoh remained stubborn. He wouldn't listen to them as God had said. He turned on his heel and went home, never giving it a second thought. But all the Egyptians had to dig inland from the river for water because they couldn't drink the Nile water.
   Seven days went by after God had struck the Nile.

Exodus 8

Strike Two: Frogs
 1-4 God said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and tell him, 'God's Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you refuse to release them, I'm warning you, I'll hit the whole country with frogs. The Nile will swarm with frogs—they'll come up into your houses, into your bedrooms and into your beds, into your servants' quarters, among the people, into your ovens and pots and pans. They'll be all over you, all over everyone—frogs everywhere, on and in everything!'"  5 God said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Wave your staff over the rivers and canals and ponds. Bring up frogs on the land of Egypt.'"
 6 Aaron stretched his staff over the waters of Egypt and a mob of frogs came up and covered the country.
 7 But again the magicians did the same thing using their incantations— they also produced frogs in Egypt.
 8 Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, "Pray to God to rid us of these frogs. I'll release the people so that they can make their sacrifices and worship God."
 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, "Certainly. Set the time. When do you want the frogs out of here, away from your servants and people and out of your houses? You'll be rid of frogs except for those in the Nile."
 10-11 "Make it tomorrow."
   Moses said, "Tomorrow it is—so you'll realize that there is no God like our God. The frogs will be gone. You and your houses and your servants and your people, free of frogs. The only frogs left will be the ones in the Nile."
 12-14 Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, and Moses prayed to God about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. God responded to Moses' prayer: The frogs died off—houses, courtyards, fields, all free of frogs. They piled the frogs in heaps. The country reeked of dead frogs.
 15 But when Pharaoh saw that he had some breathing room, he got stubborn again and wouldn't listen to Moses and Aaron. Just as God had said.
Strike Three: Gnats
16 God said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and strike the dust. The dust will turn into gnats all over Egypt.'"  17 He did it. Aaron grabbed his staff and struck the dust of the Earth; it turned into gnats, gnats all over people and animals. All the dust of the Earth turned into gnats, gnats everywhere in Egypt.
 18 The magicians tried to produce gnats with their incantations but this time they couldn't do it. There were gnats everywhere, all over people and animals.
 19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is God's doing." But Pharaoh was stubborn and wouldn't listen. Just as God had said.
Strike Four: Flies
20-23 God said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes down to the water. Tell him, 'God's Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you don't release my people, I'll release swarms of flies on you, your servants, your people, and your homes. The houses of the Egyptians and even the ground under their feet will be thick with flies. But when it happens, I'll set Goshen where my people live aside as a sanctuary—no flies in Goshen. That will show you that I am God in this land. I'll make a sharp distinction between your people and mine. This sign will occur tomorrow.'"  24 And God did just that. Thick swarms of flies in Pharaoh's palace and the houses of his servants. All over Egypt, the country ruined by flies.
 25 Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, "Go ahead. Sacrifice to your God—but do it here in this country."
 26-27 Moses said, "That would not be wise. What we sacrifice to our God would give great offense to Egyptians. If we openly sacrifice what is so deeply offensive to Egyptians, they'll kill us. Let us go three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to our God, just as he instructed us."
 28 Pharaoh said, "All right. I'll release you to go and sacrifice to your God in the wilderness. Only don't go too far. Now pray for me."
 29 Moses said, "As soon as I leave here, I will pray to God that tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh, his servants, and his people. But don't play games with us and change your mind about releasing us to sacrifice to God."
 30-32 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God did what Moses asked. He got rid of the flies from Pharaoh and his servants and his people. There wasn't a fly left. But Pharaoh became stubborn once again and wouldn't release the people.

Exodus 9

Strike Five: Animals
 1-4 God said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and tell him, 'God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me. If you refuse to release them and continue to hold on to them, I'm giving you fair warning: God will come down hard on your livestock out in the fields—horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep—striking them with a severe disease. God will draw a sharp line between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. Not one animal that belongs to the Israelites will die.'"  5 Then God set the time: "Tomorrow God will do this thing."
 6-7 And the next day God did it. All the livestock of Egypt died, but not one animal of the Israelites died. Pharaoh sent men to find out what had happened and there it was: none of the livestock of the Israelites had died—not one death. But Pharaoh stayed stubborn. He wouldn't release the people.
Strike Six: Boils
8-11 God said to Moses and Aaron, "Take fistfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses throw it into the air right before Pharaoh's eyes; it will become a film of fine dust all over Egypt and cause sores, an eruption of boils on people and animals throughout Egypt." So they took soot from a furnace, stood in front of Pharaoh, and threw it up into the air. It caused boils to erupt on people and animals. The magicians weren't able to compete with Moses this time because of the boils—they were covered with boils just like everyone else in Egypt.  12 God hardened Pharaoh in his stubbornness. He wouldn't listen, just as God had said to Moses.
Strike Seven: Hail
13-19 God said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh. Tell him, 'God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me. This time I am going to strike you and your servants and your people with the full force of my power so you'll get it into your head that there's no one like me anywhere in all the Earth. You know that by now I could have struck you and your people with deadly disease and there would be nothing left of you, not a trace. But for one reason only I've kept you on your feet: To make you recognize my power so that my reputation spreads in all the Earth. You are still building yourself up at my people's expense. You are not letting them go. So here's what's going to happen: At this time tomorrow I'm sending a terrific hailstorm—there's never been a storm like this in Egypt from the day of its founding until now. So get your livestock under roof—everything exposed in the open fields, people and animals, will die when the hail comes down.'"  20-21 All of Pharaoh's servants who had respect for God's word got their workers and animals under cover as fast as they could, but those who didn't take God's word seriously left their workers and animals out in the field.
 22 God said to Moses: "Stretch your hands to the skies. Signal the hail to fall all over Egypt on people and animals and crops exposed in the fields of Egypt."
 23-26 Moses lifted his staff to the skies and God sent peals of thunder and hail shot through with lightning strikes. God rained hail down on the land of Egypt. The hail came, hail and lightning—a fierce hailstorm. There had been nothing like it in Egypt in its entire history. The hail hit hard all over Egypt. Everything exposed out in the fields, people and animals and crops, was smashed. Even the trees in the fields were shattered. Except for Goshen where the Israelites lived; there was no hail in Goshen.
 27-28 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. He said, "I've sinned for sure this time—God is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to God. We've had enough of God's thunder and hail. I'll let you go. The sooner you're out of here the better."
 29-30 Moses said, "As soon as I'm out of the city, I'll stretch out my arms to God. The thunder will stop and the hail end so you'll know that the land is God's land. Still, I know that you and your servants have no respect for God."
 31-32 (The flax and the barley were ruined, for they were just ripening, but the wheat and spelt weren't hurt—they ripen later.)
 33 Moses left Pharaoh and the city and stretched out his arms to God. The thunder and hail stopped; the storm cleared.
 34-35 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he kept right on sinning, stubborn as ever, both he and his servants. Pharaoh's heart turned rock-hard. He refused to release the Israelites, as God had ordered through Moses.

Matthew 19:13-30 (The Message)

To Enter God's Kingdom
 13-15One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: "Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these." After laying hands on them, he left.
 16Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
 17Jesus said, "Why do you question me about what's good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you."
 18-19The man asked, "What in particular?"
   Jesus said, "Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself."
 20The young man said, "I've done all that. What's left?"
 21"If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me."
 22That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go.
 23-24As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God's kingdom? Let me tell you, it's easier to gallop a camel through a needle's eye than for the rich to enter God's kingdom."
 25The disciples were staggered. "Then who has any chance at all?"
 26Jesus looked hard at them and said, "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."
 27Then Peter chimed in, "We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?"
 28-30Jesus replied, "Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."

Psalm 24:1-10 (The Message)

Psalm 24

A David Psalm
 1-2 God claims Earth and everything in it, God claims World and all who live on it.
   He built it on Ocean foundations,
      laid it out on River girders.

 3-4 Who can climb Mount God?
      Who can scale the holy north-face?
   Only the clean-handed,
      only the pure-hearted;
   Men who won't cheat,
      women who won't seduce.

 5-6 God is at their side;
      with God's help they make it.
   This, Jacob, is what happens
      to God-seekers, God-questers.

 7 Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
   Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
      King-Glory is ready to enter.

 8 Who is this King-Glory?
      God, armed
      and battle-ready.

 9 Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
   Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
      King-Glory is ready to enter.

 10 Who is this King-Glory?
      he is King-Glory.


Proverbs 6:1-5 (The Message)

Proverbs 6

Like a Deer from the Hunter
 1-5 Dear friend, if you've gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger,
If you've impulsively promised the shirt off your back
   and now find yourself shivering out in the cold,
Friend, don't waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess.
   You're in that man's clutches!
   Go, put on a long face; act desperate.
Don't procrastinate—
   there's no time to lose.
Run like a deer from the hunter,
   fly like a bird from the trapper!

Verse of the Day
 “After Jesus sat down and told the twelve disciples to gather around him, he said, "If you want the place of honor, you must become a slave and serve others!” - Mark 9:35
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views, Edward Abbey wrote, “Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bible Readings for January 28, 2016

Today our passages are Exodus 5:22–7:24; Matthew 18:23–19:12; Psalm 23:1-6; and Proverbs 5:22-23. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. PetersonIf you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Exodus 5:22-7:24 (The Message)

 22-23 Moses went back to God and said, "My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?"

Exodus 6

 1 God said to Moses, "Now you'll see what I'll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he'll send them out free; with a strong hand he'll drive them out of his land."
 2-6 God continued speaking to Moses, reassuring him, "I am God. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as The Strong God, but by my nameGod (I-Am-Present) I was not known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they lived as sojourners. But now I've heard the groanings of the Israelites whom the Egyptians continue to enslave and I've remembered my covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites:
 6-8 "I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I'll take you as my own people and I'll be God to you. You'll know that I am Godyour God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I'll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God."
 9 But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn't even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.
 10-11 Then God said to Moses, "Go and speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land."
 12 Moses answered God, "Look—the Israelites won't even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter."
 13 But God again laid out the facts to Moses and Aaron regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he again commanded them to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.
The Family Tree of Moses and Aaron
14 These are the heads of the tribes:
   The sons of Reuben, Israel's firstborn: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi—these are the families of Reuben.
 15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Saul, the son of a Canaanite woman—these are the families of Simeon.
 16 These are the names of the sons of Levi in the order of their birth: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Levi lived 137 years.
 17 The sons of Gershon by family: Libni and Shimei.
 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath lived to be 133.
 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.
   These are the sons of Levi in the order of their birth.
 20 Amram married his aunt Jochebed and she had Aaron and Moses. Amram lived to be 137.
 21 The sons of Izhar: Korah, Nepheg, and Zicri.
 22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.
 23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she had Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
 24 The sons of Korah: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korahites.
 25 Aaron's son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel and she had Phinehas.
   These are the heads of the Levite families, family by family.
 26-27 This is the Aaron and Moses whom God ordered: "Bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt clan by clan." These are the men, Moses and Aaron, who told Pharaoh king of Egypt to release the Israelites from Egypt.
"I'll Make You as a God to Pharaoh"
28 And that's how things stood when God next spoke to Moses in Egypt.
 29 God addressed Moses, saying, "I am God. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I say to you."
 30 And Moses answered, "Look at me. I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?"

Exodus 7

 1-5 God told Moses, "Look at me. I'll make you as a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron will tell it to Pharaoh. Then he will release the Israelites from his land. At the same time I am going to put Pharaoh's back up and follow it up by filling Egypt with signs and wonders. Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, but I will have my way against Egypt and bring out my soldiers, my people the Israelites, from Egypt by mighty acts of judgment. The Egyptians will realize that I am God when I step in and take the Israelites out of their country."
 6-7 Moses and Aaron did exactly what God commanded. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8-9 Then God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, "When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, 'Prove yourselves. Perform a miracle,' then tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh: It will turn into a snake.'"
 10 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what God commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake.
 11-12 Pharaoh called in his wise men and sorcerers. The magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their incantations: each man threw down his staff and they all turned into snakes. But then Aaron's staff swallowed their staffs.
 13 Yet Pharaoh was as stubborn as ever—he wouldn't listen to them, just as God had said.
Strike One: Blood
14-18 God said to Moses: "Pharaoh is a stubborn man. He refuses to release the people. First thing in the morning, go and meet Pharaoh as he goes down to the river. At the shore of the Nile take the staff that turned into a snake and say to him, 'God, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you with this message, "Release my people so that they can worship me in the wilderness." So far you haven't listened. This is how you'll know that I am God. I am going to take this staff that I'm holding and strike this Nile River water: The water will turn to blood; the fish in the Nile will die; the Nile will stink; and the Egyptians won't be able to drink the Nile water.'"
 19 God said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and wave it over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its canals, its ponds, all its bodies of water—so that they turn to blood.' There'll be blood everywhere in Egypt—even in the pots and pans."
 20-21 Moses and Aaron did exactly as God commanded them. Aaron raised his staff and hit the water in the Nile with Pharaoh and his servants watching. All the water in the Nile turned into blood. The fish in the Nile died; the Nile stank; and the Egyptians couldn't drink the Nile water. The blood was everywhere in Egypt.
 22-25 But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their incantations. Still Pharaoh remained stubborn. He wouldn't listen to them as God had said. He turned on his heel and went home, never giving it a second thought. But all the Egyptians had to dig inland from the river for water because they couldn't drink the Nile water.
   Seven days went by after God had struck the Nile.

Matthew 18:23-19:12 (The Message)

 23-25"The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
 26-27"The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
 28"The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'
 29-31"The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
 32-35"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?' The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that's exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy."

Matthew 19

 1-2 When Jesus had completed these teachings, he left Galilee and crossed the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan. Great crowds followed him there, and he healed them. 3One day the Pharisees were badgering him: "Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?"
 4-6He answered, "Haven't you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart."
 7They shot back in rebuttal, "If that's so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?"
 8-9Jesus said, "Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God's original plan. I'm holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery."
 10Jesus' disciples objected, "If those are the terms of marriage, we're stuck. Why get married?"
 11-12But Jesus said, "Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn't for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you're capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it."

Psalm 23:1-6 (The Message)

Psalm 23

A David Psalm
 1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
      you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath
      and send me in the right direction.

 4 Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure.

 5 You serve me a six-course dinner
      right in front of my enemies.
   You revive my drooping head;
      my cup brims with blessing.

 6 Your beauty and love chase after me
      every day of my life.
   I'm back home in the house of God
      for the rest of my life.


Proverbs 5:22-23 (The Message)

 21-23 Mark well that God doesn't miss a move you make;
   he's aware of every step you take.
The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
   you'll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
   your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.

Verse of the Day
“God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.” - John 4:24
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
English writer and raconteur Augustus Hare wrote, “The intellect of the wise is like glass; it admits the light of heaven and reflects it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bible Readings for January 27, 2016

Today our passages are Exodus 4:1–5:21; Matthew 18:1-22; Psalm 22:19-31; and Proverbs 5:15-21. 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.

Exodus 4-5:21 (The Message)

Exodus 4

 1 Moses objected, "They won't trust me. They won't listen to a word I say. They're going to say, 'God? Appear to him? Hardly!'"  2 So God said, "What's that in your hand?" "A staff."
 3 "Throw it on the ground." He threw it. It became a snake; Moses jumped back—fast!
 4-5 God said to Moses, "Reach out and grab it by the tail." He reached out and grabbed it—and he was holding his staff again. "That's so they will trust that God appeared to you, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
 6 God then said, "Put your hand inside your shirt." He slipped his hand under his shirt, then took it out. His hand had turned leprous, like snow.
 7 He said, "Put your hand back under your shirt." He did it, then took it back out—as healthy as before.
 8-9 "So if they don't trust you and aren't convinced by the first sign, the second sign should do it. But if it doesn't, if even after these two signs they don't trust you and listen to your message, take some water out of the Nile and pour it out on the dry land; the Nile water that you pour out will turn to blood when it hits the ground."
 10 Moses raised another objection to God: "Master, please, I don't talk well. I've never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer."
 11-12 God said, "And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn't it I, God? So, get going. I'll be right there with you—with your mouth! I'll be right there to teach you what to say."
 13 He said, "Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!"
 14-17 God got angry with Moses: "Don't you have a brother, Aaron the Levite? He's good with words, I know he is. He speaks very well. In fact, at this very moment he's on his way to meet you. When he sees you he's going to be glad. You'll speak to him and tell him what to say. I'll be right there with you as you speak and with him as he speaks, teaching you step by step. He will speak to the people for you. He'll act as your mouth, but you'll decide what comes out of it. Now take this staff in your hand; you'll use it to do the signs."

18 Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said, "I need to return to my relatives who are in Egypt. I want to see if they're still alive."

   Jethro said, "Go. And peace be with you."
 19 God said to Moses in Midian: "Go. Return to Egypt. All the men who wanted to kill you are dead."
 20 So Moses took his wife and sons and put them on a donkey for the return trip to Egypt. He had a firm grip on the staff of God.
 21-23 God said to Moses, "When you get back to Egypt, be prepared: All the wonders that I will do through you, you'll do before Pharaoh. But I will make him stubborn so that he will refuse to let the people go. Then you are to tell Pharaoh, 'God's Message: Israel is my son, my firstborn! I told you, "Free my son so that he can serve me." But you refused to free him. So now I'm going to kill your son, your firstborn.'"

24-26 On the journey back, as they camped for the night, God met Moses and would have killed him but Zipporah took a flint knife and cut off her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' member with it. She said, "Oh! You're a bridegroom of blood to me!" Then God let him go. She used the phrase "bridegroom of blood" because of the circumcision.

27-28 God spoke to Aaron, "Go and meet Moses in the wilderness." He went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron the message that God had sent him to speak and the wonders he had commanded him to do.

 29-31 So Moses and Aaron proceeded to round up all the leaders of Israel. Aaron told them everything that God had told Moses and demonstrated the wonders before the people. And the people trusted and listened believingly that God was concerned with what was going on with the Israelites and knew all about their affliction. They bowed low and they worshiped.

Exodus 5

Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh
 1 After that Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh. They said, "God, the God of Israel, says, 'Free my people so that they can hold a festival for me in the wilderness.'"  2 Pharaoh said, "And who is God that I should listen to him and send Israel off? I know nothing of this so-called 'God' and I'm certainly not going to send Israel off."
 3 They said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can worship our God lest he strike us with either disease or death."
 4-5 But the king of Egypt said, "Why on earth, Moses and Aaron, would you suggest the people be given a holiday? Back to work!" Pharaoh went on, "Look, I've got all these people bumming around, and now you want to reward them with time off?"
 6-9 Pharaoh took immediate action. He sent down orders to the slave-drivers and their underlings: "Don't provide straw for the people for making bricks as you have been doing. Make them get their own straw. And make them produce the same number of bricks—no reduction in their daily quotas! They're getting lazy. They're going around saying, 'Give us time off so we can worship our God.' Crack down on them. That'll cure them of their whining, their god-fantasies."
 10-12 The slave-drivers and their underlings went out to the people with their new instructions. "Pharaoh's orders: No more straw provided. Get your own straw wherever you can find it. And not one brick less in your daily work quota!" The people scattered all over Egypt scrabbling for straw.
 13 The slave-drivers were merciless, saying, "Complete your daily quota of bricks—the same number as when you were given straw."
 14 The Israelite foremen whom the slave-drivers had appointed were beaten and badgered. "Why didn't you finish your quota of bricks yesterday or the day before—and now again today?"
 15-16 The Israelite foremen came to Pharaoh and cried out for relief: "Why are you treating your servants like this? Nobody gives us any straw and they tell us, 'Make bricks!' Look at us—we're being beaten. And it's not our fault."
 17-18 But Pharaoh said, "Lazy! That's what you are! Lazy! That's why you whine, 'Let us go so we can worship God.' Well then, go—go back to work. Nobody's going to give you straw, and at the end of the day you better bring in your full quota of bricks."
 19 The Israelite foremen saw that they were in a bad way, having to go back and tell their workers, "Not one brick short in your daily quota."
 20-21 As they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them. The foremen said to them, "May God see what you've done and judge you—you've made us stink before Pharaoh and his servants! You've put a weapon in his hand that's going to kill us!"

Matthew 18:1-22 (The Message)

Matthew 18

Whoever Becomes Simple Again
 1 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"
 2-5For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me. 6-7"But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do.
 8-9"If your hand or your foot gets in the way of God, chop it off and throw it away. You're better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owners of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You're better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
 10"Watch that you don't treat a single one of these childlike believers arrogantly. You realize, don't you, that their personal angels are constantly in touch with my Father in heaven?
Work It Out Between You
 12-14"Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn't he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn't he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn't want to lose even one of these simple believers.
 15-17"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love.
 18-20"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there."
A Story About Forgiveness
 21At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?"
 22Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Psalm 22:19-31 (The Message)

 19-21 You, God—don't put off my rescue!
      Hurry and help me!
   Don't let them cut my throat;
      don't let those mongrels devour me.
   If you don't show up soon,
      I'm done for—gored by the bulls,
      meat for the lions.

 22-24 Here's the story I'll tell my friends when they come to worship,
      and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
   Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
      give glory, you sons of Jacob;
      adore him, you daughters of Israel.
   He has never let you down,
      never looked the other way
      when you were being kicked around.
   He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
      he has been right there, listening.

 25-26 Here in this great gathering for worship
      I have discovered this praise-life.
   And I'll do what I promised right here
      in front of the God-worshipers.
   Down-and-outers sit at God's table
      and eat their fill.
   Everyone on the hunt for God
      is here, praising him.
   "Live it up, from head to toe.
      Don't ever quit!"

 27-28 From the four corners of the earth
      people are coming to their senses,
      are running back to God.
   Long-lost families
      are falling on their faces before him.
   God has taken charge;
      from now on he has the last word.

 29 All the power-mongers are before him
   All the poor and powerless, too
   Along with those who never got it together

 30-31 Our children and their children
      will get in on this
   As the word is passed along
      from parent to child.
   Babies not yet conceived
      will hear the good news—
      that God does what he says.

Proverbs 5:15-21 (The Message)

Never Take Love for Granted
 15-16 Do you know the saying, "Drink from your own rain barrel,
   draw water from your own spring-fed well"?
It's true. Otherwise, you may one day come home
   and find your barrel empty and your well polluted.

 17-20 Your spring water is for you and you only,
   not to be passed around among strangers.
Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!
   Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose—
   don't ever quit taking delight in her body.
   Never take her love for granted!
Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore?
   for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?

 21-23 Mark well that God doesn't miss a move you make;
   he's aware of every step you take.
The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
   you'll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
   your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.

Verse of the Day
“We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.” - Ephesians 6:12-13
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Hyman Rickover 1955.jpg
Thought for the Day
United States Navy admiral who directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades as director of Naval Reactors, Hyman G. Rickover wrote, “It is said that a wise man who stands firm is a statesman, and a foolish man who stands firm is a catastrophe.”