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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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bible Readings for April 30, 2016

Today our passages are Judges 11:1–12:15; Luke 16:19–17:10; Psalm 101:1-8; and Proverbs 14:13-14. 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.

Judges 11-12:15 (The Message)

Judges 11

1-3Jephthah the Gileadite was one tough warrior. He was the son of a whore, but Gilead was his father. Meanwhile Gilead's legal wife had given him other sons, and when they grew up, his wife's sons threw Jephthah out. They told him: "You're not getting any of our family inheritance—you're the son of another woman." So Jephthah fled from his brothers and went to live in the land of Tob. Some riffraff joined him and went around with him. 4-6 Some time passed. And then the Ammonites started fighting Israel. With the Ammonites at war with them, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. They said to Jephthah: "Come. Be our general and we'll fight the Ammonites."
7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead: "But you hate me. You kicked me out of my family home. So why are you coming to me now? Because you are in trouble. Right?"
8 The elders of Gilead replied, "That's it exactly. We've come to you to get you to go with us and fight the Ammonites. You'll be the head of all of us, all the Gileadites."
9 Jephthah addressed the elders of Gilead, "So if you bring me back home to fight the Ammonites and God gives them to me, I'll be your head—is that right?"
10-11 They said, "God is witness between us; whatever you say, we'll do." Jephthah went along with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their top man and general. And Jephthah repeated what he had said before God at Mizpah.
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with a message: "What's going on here that you have come into my country picking a fight?"
13 The king of the Ammonites told Jephthah's messengers: "Because Israel took my land when they came up out of Egypt—from the Arnon all the way to the Jabbok and to the Jordan. Give it back peaceably and I'll go."
14-27 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with the message: "Jephthah's word: Israel took no Moabite land and no Ammonite land. When they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the desert as far as the Red Sea, arriving at Kadesh. There Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom saying, 'Let us pass through your land, please.' But the king of Edom wouldn't let them. Israel also requested permission from the king of Moab, but he wouldn't let them cross either. They were stopped in their tracks at Kadesh. So they traveled across the desert and circled around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came out east of the land of Moab and set camp on the other side of the Arnon—they didn't set foot in Moabite territory, for Arnon was the Moabite border. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites at Heshbon the capital. Israel asked, 'Let us pass, please, through your land on the way to our country.' But Sihon didn't trust Israel to cut across his land; he got his entire army together, set up camp at Jahaz, and fought Israel. But God, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his troops to Israel. Israel defeated them. Israel took all the Amorite land, all Amorite land from Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan. It was God, the God of Israel, who pushed out the Amorites in favor of Israel; so who do you think you are to try to take it over? Why don't you just be satisfied with what your god Chemosh gives you and we'll settle for what God, our God, gives us? Do you think you're going to come off better than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he get anywhere in opposing Israel? Did he risk war? All this time—it's been three hundred years now!—that Israel has lived in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns along the Arnon, why didn't you try to snatch them away then? No, I haven't wronged you. But this is an evil thing that you are doing to me by starting a fight. Today God the Judge will decide between the People of Israel and the people of Ammon."
28 But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen to a word that Jephthah had sent him.
29-31 God's Spirit came upon Jephthah. He went across Gilead and Manasseh, went through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there approached the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow before God: "If you give me a clear victory over the Ammonites, then I'll give to God whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in one piece from among the Ammonites—I'll offer it up in a sacrificial burnt offering."
32-33 Then Jephthah was off to fight the Ammonites. And God gave them to him. He beat them soundly, all the way from Aroer to the area around Minnith as far as Abel Keramim—twenty cities! A massacre! Ammonites brought to their knees by the People of Israel.
34-35 Jephthah came home to Mizpah. His daughter ran from the house to welcome him home—dancing to tambourines! She was his only child. He had no son or daughter except her. When he realized who it was, he ripped his clothes, saying, "Ah, dearest daughter—I'm dirt. I'm despicable. My heart is torn to shreds. I made a vow to God and I can't take it back!"
36 She said, "Dear father, if you made a vow to God, do to me what you vowed; God did his part and saved you from your Ammonite enemies."
37 And then she said to her father, "But let this one thing be done for me. Give me two months to wander through the hills and lament my virginity since I will never marry, I and my dear friends."
38-39 "Oh yes, go," he said. He sent her off for two months. She and her dear girlfriends went among the hills, lamenting that she would never marry. At the end of the two months, she came back to her father. He fulfilled the vow with her that he had made. She had never slept with a man.
39-40 It became a custom in Israel that for four days every year the young women of Israel went out to mourn for the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Judges 12

1 The men of Ephraim mustered their troops, crossed to Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, "Why did you go out to fight the Ammonites without letting us go with you? We're going to burn your house down on you!" 2-3 Jephthah said, "I and my people had our hands full negotiating with the Ammonites. And I did call to you for help but you ignored me. When I saw that you weren't coming, I took my life in my hands and confronted the Ammonites myself. And God gave them to me! So why did you show up here today? Are you spoiling for a fight with me?"
4 So Jephthah got his Gilead troops together and fought Ephraim. And the men of Gilead hit them hard because they were saying, "Gileadites are nothing but half breeds and rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh."
5-6 Gilead captured the fords of the Jordan at the crossing to Ephraim. If an Ephraimite fugitive said, "Let me cross," the men of Gilead would ask, "Are you an Ephraimite?" and he would say, "No." And they would say, "Say, 'Shibboleth.'" But he would always say, "Sibboleth"—he couldn't say it right. Then they would grab him and kill him there at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two Ephraimite divisions were killed on that occasion.
7 Jephthah judged Israel six years. Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city, Mizpah of Gilead.
8-9 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty daughters-in-law from the outside for his sons. 10 He judged Israel seven years. Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.
11-12 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
13-15 After him, Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim in the Amalekite hill country.

Luke 16:19-17:10 (The Message)

The Rich Man and Lazarus
19-21"There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from scraps off the rich man's table. His best friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores.
22-24"Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his lap. He called out, 'Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I'm in agony in this fire.'
25-26"But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It's not like that here. Here he's consoled and you're tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.'
27-28"The rich man said, 'Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won't end up here in this place of torment.'
29"Abraham answered, 'They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them.'
30"'I know, Father Abraham,' he said, 'but they're not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways.'
31"Abraham replied, 'If they won't listen to Moses and the Prophets, they're not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.'"

Luke 17

A Kernel of Faith
1-2He said to his disciples, "Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!
3-4"Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it's personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again,' forgive him."
5The apostles came up and said to the Master, "Give us more faith."
6But the Master said, "You don't need more faith. There is no 'more' or 'less' in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it would do it.
7-10"Suppose one of you has a servant who comes in from plowing the field or tending the sheep. Would you take his coat, set the table, and say, 'Sit down and eat'? Wouldn't you be more likely to say, 'Prepare dinner; change your clothes and wait table for me until I've finished my coffee; then go to the kitchen and have your supper'? Does the servant get special thanks for doing what's expected of him? It's the same with you. When you've done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, 'The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.'"

Psalm 101:1-8 (The Message)

Psalm 101

A David Psalm
1-8My theme song is God's love and justice, and I'm singing it right to you, God.
I'm finding my way down the road of right living,
but how long before you show up?
I'm doing the very best I can,
and I'm doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can't stand
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
they're the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I've rounded up all the wicked like cattle
and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God's city
of all who make a business of evil.
A Prayer of One Whose Life Is Falling to Pieces,
and Who Lets God Know Just How Bad It Is

Proverbs 14:13-14 (The Message)

12-13 There's a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.
Sift and Weigh Every Word
14 A mean person gets paid back in meanness,
a gracious person in grace.

Verse of the Day
“Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head” - Ephesians 4:15
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.
Thought for the Day
The 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bible Readings for April 29, 2016

Today our passages are Judges 9:22–10:18; Luke 24:13-53; Psalm 100:1-5; and Proverbs 14:11-12. 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.

Judges 9:22-10:18 (The Message)

22-24 Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. Then God brought bad blood between Abimelech and Shechem's leaders, who now worked treacherously behind his back. Violence boomeranged: The murderous violence that killed the seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal, was now loose among Abimelech and Shechem's leaders, who had supported the violence.

25 To undermine Abimelech, Shechem's leaders put men in ambush on the mountain passes who robbed travelers on those roads. And Abimelech was told.
26-27 At that time Gaal son of Ebed arrived with his relatives and moved into Shechem. The leaders of Shechem trusted him. One day they went out into the fields, gathered grapes in the vineyards, and trod them in the winepress. Then they held a celebration in their god's temple, a feast, eating and drinking. And then they started putting down Abimelech.
28-29 Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who is this Abimelech? And who are we Shechemites to take orders from him? Isn't he the son of Jerub-Baal, and isn't this his henchman Zebul? We belong to the race of Hamor and bear the noble name of Shechem. Why should we be toadies of Abimelech? If I were in charge of this people, the first thing I'd do is get rid of Abimelech! I'd say, 'Show me your stuff, Abimelech—let's see who's boss here!'"
30-33 Zebul, governor of the city, heard what Gaal son of Ebed was saying and got angry. Secretly he sent messengers to Abimelech with the message, "Gaal son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem and are stirring up trouble against you. Here's what you do: Tonight bring your troops and wait in ambush in the field. In the morning, as soon as the sun breaks, get moving and charge the city. Gaal and his troops will come out to you, and you'll know what to do next."
34-36 Abimelech and his troops, four companies of them, went up that night and waited in ambush approaching Shechem. Gaal son of Ebed had gotten up and was standing in the city gate. Abimelech and his troops left their cover. When Gaal saw them he said to Zebul, "Look at that, people coming down from the tops of the mountains!"
Zebul said, "That's nothing but mountain shadows; they just look like men." Gaal kept chattering away.
37 Then he said again, "Look at the troops coming down off Tabbur-erez (the Navel of the World)—and one company coming straight from the Oracle Oak."
38 Zebul said, "Where is that big mouth of yours now? You who said, 'And who is Abimelech that we should take orders from him?' Well, there he is with the troops you ridiculed. Here's your chance. Fight away!"
39-40 Gaal went out, backed by the leaders of Shechem, and did battle with Abimelech. Abimelech chased him, and Gaal turned tail and ran. Many fell wounded, right up to the city gate.
41 Abimelech set up his field headquarters at Arumah while Zebul kept Gaal and his relatives out of Shechem.

42-45 The next day the people went out to the fields. This was reported to Abimelech. He took his troops, divided them into three companies, and placed them in ambush in the fields. When he saw that the people were well out in the open, he sprang up and attacked them. Abimelech and the company with him charged ahead and took control of the entrance to the city gate; the other two companies chased down those who were in the open fields and killed them. Abimelech fought at the city all that day. He captured the city and massacred everyone in it. He leveled the city to the ground, then sowed it with salt.

46-49 When the leaders connected with Shechem's Tower heard this, they went into the fortified God-of-the-Covenant temple. This was reported to Abimelech that the Shechem's Tower bunch were gathered together. He and his troops climbed Mount Zalmon (Dark Mountain). Abimelech took his ax and chopped a bundle of firewood, picked it up, and put it on his shoulder. He said to his troops, "Do what you've seen me do, and quickly." So each of his men cut his own bundle. They followed Abimelech, piled their bundles against the Tower fortifications, and set the whole structure on fire. Everyone in Shechem's Tower died, about a thousand men and women.
50-54 Abimelech went on to Thebez. He camped at Thebez and captured it. The Tower-of-Strength stood in the middle of the city; all the men and women of the city along with the city's leaders had fled there and locked themselves in. They were up on the tower roof. Abimelech got as far as the tower and assaulted it. He came up to the tower door to set it on fire. Just then some woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and crushed his skull. He called urgently to his young armor bearer and said, "Draw your sword and kill me so they can't say of me, 'A woman killed him.'" His armor bearer drove in his sword, and Abimelech died.
55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home.

56-57 God avenged the evil Abimelech had done to his father, murdering his seventy brothers. And God brought down on the heads of the men of Shechem all the evil that they had done, the curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal.

Judges 10

1-2 Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, was next after Abimelech. He rose to the occasion to save Israel. He was a man of Issachar. He lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. He judged Israel for twenty-three years and then died and was buried at Shamir.
3-5 After him, Jair the Gileadite stepped into leadership. He judged Israel for twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and had thirty towns in Gilead. The towns are still called Jair's Villages. Jair died and was buried in Kamon.
6-8 And then the People of Israel went back to doing evil in God's sight. They worshiped the Baal gods and Ashtoreth goddesses: gods of Aram, Sidon, and Moab; gods of the Ammonites and the Philistines. They just walked off and left God, quit worshiping him. And God exploded in hot anger at Israel and sold them off to the Philistines and Ammonites, who, beginning that year, bullied and battered the People of Israel mercilessly. For eighteen years they had them under their thumb, all the People of Israel who lived east of the Jordan in the Amorite country of Gilead.

9 Then the Ammonites crossed the Jordan to go to war also against Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Israel was in a bad way!
10 The People of Israel cried out to God for help: "We've sinned against you! We left our God and worshiped the Baal gods!"
11-14 God answered the People of Israel: "When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, Sidonians—even Amalek and Midian!—oppressed you and you cried out to me for help, I saved you from them. And now you've gone off and betrayed me, worshiping other gods. I'm not saving you anymore. Go ahead! Cry out for help to the gods you've chosen—let them get you out of the mess you're in!"
15 The People of Israel said to God: "We've sinned. Do to us whatever you think best, but please, get us out of this!"
16 Then they cleaned house of the foreign gods and worshiped only God. And God took Israel's troubles to heart.
17-18 The Ammonites prepared for war, setting camp in Gilead. The People of Israel set their rival camp in Mizpah. The leaders in Gilead said, "Who will stand up for us against the Ammonites? We'll make him head over everyone in Gilead!"

Luke 24:13-53 (The Message)

The Road to Emmaus
13-16That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
17-18He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?"
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"
19-24He said, "What has happened?"
They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus."
25-27Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
28-31They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
32Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"
A Ghost Doesn't Have Muscle and Bone
33-34They didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: "It's really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!"
35Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.
36-41While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, "Peace be with you." They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it's really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn't have muscle and bone like this." As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn't believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.
41-43He asked, "Do you have any food here?" They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.
You're the Witnesses
44Then he said, "Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled."
45-49He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, "You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high."
50-51He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
52-53And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.

Psalm 100:1-5 (The Message)

Psalm 100

A Thanksgiving Psalm
1-2 On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

3 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.

4 Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

5 For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

Proverbs 14:11-12 (The Message)

11 Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks;
holy living builds soaring cathedrals.

12-13 There's a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

Verse of the Day
“I know that my Savior lives, and at the end he will stand on this earth.” - Job 19:25
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Henri Poincaré-2.jpg
Thought for the Day
French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science, Henri Poincaré wrote, “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bible Readings for April 28, 2016

Today our passages are Judges 8:18–9:21; Luke 23:44–24:12; Psalm 99:1-9; and Proverbs 14:9-10. 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.

Judges 8:18-9:21 (The Message)

18 He then addressed Zebah and Zalmunna: "Tell me about the men you killed at Tabor."
"They were men much like you," they said, "each one like a king's son."
19 Gideon said, "They were my brothers, my mother's sons. As God lives, if you had let them live, I would let you live."
20 Then he spoke to Jether, his firstborn: "Get up and kill them." But he couldn't do it, couldn't draw his sword. He was afraid—he was still just a boy.
21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Do it yourself—if you're man enough!" And Gideon did it. He stepped up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then he took the crescents that hung on the necks of their camels.
22 The Israelites said, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson. You have saved us from Midian's tyranny."
23 Gideon said, "I most certainly will not rule over you, nor will my son. God will reign over you."
24 Then Gideon said, "But I do have one request. Give me, each of you, an earring that you took as plunder." Ishmaelites wore gold earrings, and the men all had their pockets full of them.
25-26 They said, "Of course. They're yours!"
They spread out a blanket and each man threw his plundered earrings on it. The gold earrings that Gideon had asked for weighed about forty-three pounds—and that didn't include the crescents and pendants, the purple robes worn by the Midianite kings, and the ornaments hung around the necks of their camels.
27 Gideon made the gold into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it.
28 Midian's tyranny was broken by the Israelites; nothing more was heard from them. The land was quiet for forty years in Gideon's time.

29-31 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and lived in his house. Gideon had seventy sons. He fathered them all—he had a lot of wives! His concubine, the one at Shechem, also bore him a son. He named him Abimelech.

32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
33-35 Gideon was hardly cool in the tomb when the People of Israel had gotten off track and were prostituting themselves to Baal—they made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god. The People of Israel forgot all about God, their God, who had saved them from all their enemies who had hemmed them in. And they didn't keep faith with the family of Jerub-Baal (Gideon), honoring all the good he had done for Israel.

Judges 9

1-2Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to his uncles and all his mother's relatives and said to them, "Ask all the leading men of Shechem, 'What do you think is best, that seventy men rule you—all those sons of Jerub-Baal—or that one man rule? You'll remember that I am your own flesh and blood.'" 3 His mother's relatives reported the proposal to the leaders of Shechem. They were inclined to take Abimelech. "Because," they said, "he is, after all, one of us."
4-5 They gave him seventy silver pieces from the shrine of Baal-of-theCovenant. With the money he hired some reckless riffraff soldiers and they followed along after him. He went to his father's house in Ophrah and killed his half brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal—seventy men! And on one stone! The youngest, Jotham son of Jerub-Baal, managed to hide, the only survivor.
6 Then all the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered at the Oak by the Standing Stone at Shechem and crowned Abimelech king.
7-9 When this was all told to Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and shouted:
Listen to me, leaders of Shechem.
And let God listen to you!
The trees set out one day
to anoint a king for themselves.
They said to Olive Tree,
"Rule over us."
But Olive Tree told them,
"Am I no longer good for making oil
That gives glory to gods and men,
and to be demoted to waving over trees?"
10-11 The trees then said to Fig Tree,
"You come and rule over us."
But Fig Tree said to them,
"Am I no longer good for making sweets,
My mouthwatering sweet fruits,
and to be demoted to waving over trees?"
12-13 The trees then said to Vine,
"You come and rule over us."
But Vine said to them,
"Am I no longer good for making wine,
Wine that cheers gods and men,
and to be demoted to waving over trees?"
14-15 All the trees then said to Tumbleweed,
"You come and reign over us."
But Tumbleweed said to the trees:
"If you're serious about making me your king,
Come and find shelter in my shade.
But if not, let fire shoot from Tumbleweed
and burn down the cedars of Lebanon!"

16-20 "Now listen: Do you think you did a right and honorable thing when you made Abimelech king? Do you think you treated Jerub-Baal and his family well, did for him what he deserved? My father fought for you, risked his own life, and rescued you from Midian's tyranny, and you have, just now, betrayed him. You massacred his sons—seventy men on a single stone! You made Abimelech, the son by his maidservant, king over Shechem's leaders because he's your relative. If you think that this is an honest day's work, this way you have treated Jerub-Baal today, then enjoy Abimelech and let him enjoy you. But if not, let fire break from Abimelech and burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo. And let fire break from the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo and burn up Abimelech."
21 And Jotham fled. He ran for his life. He went to Beer and settled down there, because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.

Luke 23:44-24:12 (The Message)

44-46By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.
47When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!"
48-49All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.
50-54There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.
55-56The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.

Luke 24

Looking for the Living One in a Cemetery
1-3At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn't find the body of the Master Jesus.
4-8They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, "Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?" Then they remembered Jesus' words.
9-11They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn't believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.
12But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that's all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.

Psalm 99:1-9 (The Message)

Psalm 99

God rules. On your toes, everybody! He rules from his angel throne—take notice!
God looms majestic in Zion,
He towers in splendor over all the big names.
Great and terrible your beauty: let everyone praise you!
Holy. Yes, holy.

4-5 Strong King, lover of justice,
You laid things out fair and square;
You set down the foundations in Jacob,
Foundation stones of just and right ways.
Honor God, our God; worship his rule!
Holy. Yes, holy.

6-9 Moses and Aaron were his priests,
Samuel among those who prayed to him.
They prayed to God and he answered them;
He spoke from the pillar of cloud.
And they did what he said; they kept the law he gave them.
And then God, our God, answered them
(But you were never soft on their sins).
Lift high God, our God; worship at his holy mountain.
Holy. Yes, holy is God our God.


Proverbs 14:9-10 (The Message)

9 The stupid ridicule right and wrong,
but a moral life is a favored life.

10 The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.

Verse of the Day
“and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross.” - Philippians 2:5-8
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Cervates jauregui.jpg
Thought for the Day
Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists, Miguel de Cervantes wrote, “In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Growing in Grace: A Study of Genesis - The Call of Abram (11:27 - 14...

Growing in Grace: A Study of Genesis - The Call of Abram (11:27 - 14...: Below are the notes from the fifth session in "A Study of Genesis." This 16-session series considers the narrative found in the fi...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 1, 2016 (T...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 1, 2016 (T...: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 67), the Letters (Acts 16:9-15) or (Revelation 21:10, 22 - 22:5), and the ...

Bible Readings for April 27, 2016

Today our passages are Judges 7:1–8:17; Luke 23:13-43; Psalm 97:1–98:9; and Proverbs 14:7-8. 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.

Judges 7-8:17 (The Message)

Judges 7

 1 Jerub-Baal (Gideon) got up early the next morning, all his troops right there with him. They set up camp at Harod's Spring. The camp of Midian was in the plain, north of them near the Hill of Moreh.  2-3 God said to Gideon, "You have too large an army with you. I can't turn Midian over to them like this—they'll take all the credit, saying, 'I did it all myself,' and forget about me. Make a public announcement: 'Anyone afraid, anyone who has any qualms at all, may leave Mount Gilead now and go home.'" Twenty-two companies headed for home. Ten companies were left.
 4-5 God said to Gideon: "There are still too many. Take them down to the stream and I'll make a final cut. When I say, 'This one goes with you,' he'll go. When I say, 'This one doesn't go,' he won't go." So Gideon took the troops down to the stream.
 5-6 God said to Gideon: "Everyone who laps with his tongue, the way a dog laps, set on one side. And everyone who kneels to drink, drinking with his face to the water, set to the other side." Three hundred lapped with their tongues from their cupped hands. All the rest knelt to drink.
 7 God said to Gideon: "I'll use the three hundred men who lapped at the stream to save you and give Midian into your hands. All the rest may go home."
 8 After Gideon took all their provisions and trumpets, he sent all the Israelites home. He took up his position with the three hundred. The camp of Midian stretched out below him in the valley.
 9-12 That night, God told Gideon: "Get up and go down to the camp. I've given it to you. If you have any doubts about going down, go down with Purah your armor bearer; when you hear what they're saying, you'll be bold and confident." He and his armor bearer Purah went down near the place where sentries were posted. Midian and Amalek, all the easterners, were spread out on the plain like a swarm of locusts. And their camels! Past counting, like grains of sand on the seashore!
 13 Gideon arrived just in time to hear a man tell his friend a dream. He said, "I had this dream: A loaf of barley bread tumbled into the Midianite camp. It came to the tent and hit it so hard it collapsed. The tent fell!"
 14 His friend said, "This has to be the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite! God has turned Midian—the whole camp!—over to him."
 15 When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he went to his knees before God in prayer. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, "Get up and get going! God has just given us the Midianite army!"
 16-18 He divided the three hundred men into three companies. He gave each man a trumpet and an empty jar, with a torch in the jar. He said, "Watch me and do what I do. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly what I do. When I and those with me blow the trumpets, you also, all around the camp, blow your trumpets and shout, 'For God and for Gideon!'"
 19-22 Gideon and his hundred men got to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after the sentries had been posted. They blew the trumpets, at the same time smashing the jars they carried. All three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands, ready to blow, and shouted, "A sword for God and for Gideon!" They were stationed all around the camp, each man at his post. The whole Midianite camp jumped to its feet. They yelled and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, God aimed each Midianite's sword against his companion, all over the camp. They ran for their lives—to Beth Shittah, toward Zererah, to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.
 23 Israelites rallied from Naphtali, from Asher, and from all over Manasseh. They had Midian on the run.
 24 Gideon then sent messengers through all the hill country of Ephraim, urging them, "Come down against Midian! Capture the fords of the Jordan at Beth Barah."
 25 So all the men of Ephraim rallied and captured the fords of the Jordan at Beth Barah. They also captured the two Midianite commanders Oreb (Raven) and Zeeb (Wolf). They killed Oreb at Raven Rock; Zeeb they killed at Wolf Winepress. And they pressed the pursuit of Midian. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.

Judges 8

 1 Then the Ephraimites said to Gideon, "Why did you leave us out of this, not calling us when you went to fight Midian?" They were indignant and let him know it.  2-3 But Gideon replied, "What have I done compared to you? Why, even the gleanings of Ephraim are superior to the vintage of Abiezer. God gave you Midian's commanders, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done compared with you?"
    When they heard this, they calmed down and cooled off.

4-5 Gideon and his three hundred arrived at the Jordan and crossed over. They were bone-tired but still pressing the pursuit. He asked the men of Succoth, "Please, give me some loaves of bread for my troops I have with me. They're worn out, and I'm hot on the trail of Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings."

 6 But the leaders in Succoth said, "You're on a wild goose chase; why should we help you on a fool's errand?"
 7 Gideon said, "If you say so. But when God gives me Zebah and Zalmunna, I'll give you a thrashing, whip your bare flesh with desert thorns and thistles!"
 8-9 He went from there to Peniel and made the same request. The men of Peniel, like the men of Succoth, also refused. Gideon told them, "When I return safe and sound, I'll demolish this tower."
 10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of about fifteen companies, all that was left of the fighting force of the easterners—they had lost 120 companies of soldiers.
 11-12 Gideon went up the caravan trail east of Nobah and Jogbehah, found and attacked the undefended camp. Zebah and Zalmunna fled, but he chased and captured the two kings of Midian. The whole camp had panicked.
 13-15 Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by way of the Heres Pass. He captured a young man from Succoth and asked some questions. The young man wrote down the names of the officials and leaders of Succoth, seventy-seven men. Then Gideon went to the men of Succoth and said, "Here are the wild geese, Zebah and Zalmunna, you said I'd never catch. You wouldn't give so much as a scrap of bread to my worn-out men; you taunted us, saying that we were on a fool's errand."
 16-17 Then he took the seventy-seven leaders of Succoth and thrashed them with desert thorns and thistles. And he demolished the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the city.

Luke 23:13-43 (The Message)

 13-16Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others and said, "You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge. And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. It's clear that he's done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."
 18-20At that, the crowd went wild: "Kill him! Give us Barabbas!" (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.
 21But they kept shouting back, "Crucify! Crucify him!"
 22He tried a third time. "But for what crime? I've found nothing in him deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."
 23-25But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.
Skull Hill
 26-31As they led him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling to the mountains, 'Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, 'Cover us up!' If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with deadwood?"
 32Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.
 33When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
 34-35Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."
   Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Let's see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!"
 36-37The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: "So you're King of the Jews! Save yourself!"
 38Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.
 39One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"
 40-41But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God? You're getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this."
 42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."
 43He said, "Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."

Psalm 97-98:9 (The Message)

Psalm 97

    God rules: there's something to shout over! On the double, mainlands and islands—celebrate!

 2 Bright clouds and storm clouds circle 'round him;
   Right and justice anchor his rule.

 3 Fire blazes out before him,
   Flaming high up the craggy mountains.

 4 His lightnings light up the world;
   Earth, wide-eyed, trembles in fear.

 5 The mountains take one look at God
   And melt, melt like wax before earth's Lord.

 6 The heavens announce that he'll set everything right,
   And everyone will see it happen—glorious!

 7-8 All who serve handcrafted gods will be sorry—
   And they were so proud of their ragamuffin gods!    On your knees, all you gods—worship him!
   And Zion, you listen and take heart!
   Daughters of Zion, sing your hearts out:
   God has done it all, has set everything right.

 9 You, God, are High God of the cosmos,
   Far, far higher than any of the gods.

 10 God loves all who hate evil,
   And those who love him he keeps safe,
   Snatches them from the grip of the wicked.

 11 Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God's people,
   Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil.

 12 So, God's people, shout praise to God,
   Give thanks to our Holy God!

Psalm 98

    Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders!    He rolled up his sleeves,
   He set things right.

 2 God made history with salvation,
   He showed the world what he could do.

 3 He remembered to love us, a bonus
   To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.
   The whole earth comes to attention.
   Look—God's work of salvation!

 4 Shout your praises to God, everybody!
   Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

 5 Round up an orchestra to play for God,
   Add on a hundred-voice choir.

 6 Feature trumpets and big trombones,
   Fill the air with praises to King God.

 7 Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
   With everything living on earth joining in.

 8 Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!"
   And mountains harmonize the finale—

 9 A tribute to God when he comes,
   When he comes to set the earth right.
   He'll straighten out the whole world,
   He'll put the world right, and everyone in it.

Proverbs 14:7-8 (The Message)

 7 Escape quickly from the company of fools;
   they're a waste of your time, a waste of your words.

 8 The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track;
   the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.

Verse of the Day
“The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.” - Luke 19:10
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

John Wooden.JPG
Thought for the Day
American basketball player and coach, John Wooden wrote, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bible Readings for April 26, 2016

Today our passages are Judges 6:1-40; Luke 22:54–23:12; Psalm 95:1– 96:13; and Proverbs 14:5-6. 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.

Judges 6:1-40 (The Message)

Judges 6

 1-6 Yet again the People of Israel went back to doing evil in God's sight. God put them under the domination of Midian for seven years. Midian overpowered Israel. Because of Midian, the People of Israel made for themselves hideouts in the mountains—caves and forts. When Israel planted its crops, Midian and Amalek, the easterners, would invade them, camp in their fields, and destroy their crops all the way down to Gaza. They left nothing for them to live on, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. Bringing their cattle and tents, they came in and took over, like an invasion of locusts. And their camels—past counting! They marched in and devastated the country. The People of Israel, reduced to grinding poverty by Midian, cried out to God for help.  7-10 One time when the People of Israel had cried out to God because of Midian, God sent them a prophet with this message: "God, the God of Israel, says,
    I delivered you from Egypt,
      I freed you from a life of slavery;
   I rescued you from Egypt's brutality
      and then from every oppressor;
   I pushed them out of your way
      and gave you their land.

    "And I said to you, 'I am God, your God. Don't for a minute be afraid of the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.' But you didn't listen to me."
 11-12 One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, "God is with you, O mighty warrior!"
 13 Gideon replied, "With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, 'Didn't God deliver us from Egypt?' The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian."
 14 But God faced him directly: "Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven't I just sent you?"
 15 Gideon said to him, "Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan's the weakest in Manasseh and I'm the runt of the litter."
 16 God said to him, "I'll be with you. Believe me, you'll defeat Midian as one man."
 17-18 Gideon said, "If you're serious about this, do me a favor: Give me a sign to back up what you're telling me. Don't leave until I come back and bring you my gift."
    He said, "I'll wait till you get back."
 19 Gideon went and prepared a young goat and a huge amount of unraised bread (he used over half a bushel of flour!). He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot and took them back under the shade of the oak tree for a sacred meal.
 20 The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and unraised bread, place them on that rock, and pour the broth on them." Gideon did it.
 21-22 The angel of God stretched out the tip of the stick he was holding and touched the meat and the bread. Fire broke out of the rock and burned up the meat and bread while the angel of God slipped away out of sight. And Gideon knew it was the angel of God!
    Gideon said, "Oh no! Master, God! I have seen the angel of God face-to-face!"
 23 But God reassured him, "Easy now. Don't panic. You won't die."
 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to God and named it "God's Peace." It's still called that at Ophrah of Abiezer.
 25-26 That night this happened. God said to him, "Take your father's best seven-year-old bull, the prime one. Tear down your father's Baal altar and chop down the Asherah fertility pole beside it. Then build an altar to God, your God, on the top of this hill. Take the prime bull and present it as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, using firewood from the Asherah pole that you cut down."
 27 Gideon selected ten men from his servants and did exactly what God had told him. But because of his family and the people in the neighborhood, he was afraid to do it openly, so he did it that night.
 28 Early in the morning, the people in town were shocked to find Baal's altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it chopped down, and the prime bull burning away on the altar that had been built.
 29 They kept asking, "Who did this?"
    Questions and more questions, and then the answer: "Gideon son of Joash did it."
 30 The men of the town demanded of Joash: "Bring out your son! He must die! Why, he tore down the Baal altar and chopped down the Asherah tree!"
 31 But Joash stood up to the crowd pressing in on him, "Are you going to fight Baal's battles for him? Are you going to save him? Anyone who takes Baal's side will be dead by morning. If Baal is a god in fact, let him fight his own battles and defend his own altar."
 32 They nicknamed Gideon that day Jerub-Baal because after he had torn down the Baal altar, he had said, "Let Baal fight his own battles."

33-35 All the Midianites and Amalekites (the easterners) got together, crossed the river, and made camp in the Valley of Jezreel. God's Spirit came over Gideon. He blew his ram's horn trumpet and the Abiezrites came out, ready to follow him. He dispatched messengers all through Manasseh, calling them to the battle; also to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. They all came.

 36-37 Gideon said to God, "If this is right, if you are using me to save Israel as you've said, then look: I'm placing a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew is on the fleece only, but the floor is dry, then I know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said."
 38 That's what happened. When he got up early the next morning, he wrung out the fleece—enough dew to fill a bowl with water!
 39 Then Gideon said to God, "Don't be impatient with me, but let me say one more thing. I want to try another time with the fleece. But this time let the fleece stay dry, while the dew drenches the ground."
 40 God made it happen that very night. Only the fleece was dry while the ground was wet with dew.

Luke 22:54-23:12 (The Message)

A Rooster Crowed
 54-56Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, "This man was with him!"
 57He denied it, "Woman, I don't even know him."
 58A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, "You're one of them."
   But Peter denied it: "Man, I am not."
 59About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "He's got to have been with him! He's got 'Galilean' written all over him."
 60-62Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.
Slapping Him Around
 63-65The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, slapping him around. They put a blindfold on him and taunted, "Who hit you that time?" They were having a grand time with him.
 66-67When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, "Are you the Messiah?"
 67-69He answered, "If I said yes, you wouldn't believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn't answer me. So here's what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God's right hand, the place of power."
 70They all said, "So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?"
   "You're the ones who keep saying it," he said.
 71But they had made up their minds, "Why do we need any more evidence? We've all heard him as good as say it himself."

Luke 23

 1-2Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. They said, "We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King."
 3Pilate asked him, "Is this true that you're 'King of the Jews'?"
   "Those are your words, not mine," Jesus replied.
 4Pilate told the high priests and the accompanying crowd, "I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me."
 5But they were vehement. "He's stirring up unrest among the people with his teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. He's a dangerous man, endangering the peace."
 6-7When Pilate heard that, he asked, "So, he's a Galilean?" Realizing that he properly came under Herod's jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days.
 8-10Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see him, he'd heard so much about him. He hoped to see him do something spectacular. He peppered him with questions. Jesus didn't answer—not one word. But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.
 11-12Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting and jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.

Psalm 95-96:13 (The Message)

Psalm 95

    Come, let's shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!
   Let's march into his presence singing praises,
      lifting the rafters with our hymns!
 3-5 And why? Because God is the best,
      High King over all the gods.
   In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns,
      in the other hand grasps the high mountains.
   He made Ocean—he owns it!
      His hands sculpted Earth!
 6-7 So come, let us worship: bow before him,
      on your knees before God, who made us!
   Oh yes, he's our God,
      and we're the people he pastures, the flock he feeds.

 7-11 Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks:
      "Don't turn a deaf ear as in the Bitter Uprising,
   As on the day of the Wilderness Test,
      when your ancestors turned and put me to the test.
   For forty years they watched me at work among them,
      as over and over they tried my patience.
   And I was provoked—oh, was I provoked!
      'Can't they keep their minds on God for five minutes?
      Do they simply refuse to walk down my road?'
   Exasperated, I exploded,
      'They'll never get where they're headed,
      never be able to sit down and rest.'"

Psalm 96

    Sing God a brand-new song! Earth and everyone in it, sing!
   Sing to God—worship God!
 2-3 Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
   Take the news of his glory to the lost,
   News of his wonders to one and all!
 4-5 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
   His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
   Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.
 5-6 God made the heavens—
   Royal splendor radiates from him,
   A powerful beauty sets him apart.
 7 Bravo, God, Bravo!
   Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
   In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.
 8-9 Bring gifts and celebrate,
   Bow before the beauty of God,
   Then to your knees—everyone worship!

 10 Get out the message—God Rules!
   He put the world on a firm foundation;
   He treats everyone fair and square.

 11 Let's hear it from Sky,
   With Earth joining in,
   And a huge round of applause from Sea.

 12 Let Wilderness turn cartwheels,
   Animals, come dance,
   Put every tree of the forest in the choir—

 13 An extravaganza before God as he comes,
   As he comes to set everything right on earth,
   Set everything right, treat everyone fair.


Proverbs 14:5-6 (The Message)

 5 A true witness never lies;
   a false witness makes a business of it.

 6 Cynics look high and low for wisdom—and never find it;
   the open-minded find it right on their doorstep!

Verse of the Day
“He is forever able to save the people he leads to God, because he always lives to speak to God for them.” - Hebrews 7:25
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.

Thought for the Day
Australian novelist and playwright, Morris West wrote, “If God be God and man a creature made in image of the divine intelligence, his noblest function is the search for truth.”