Today our passages are Deuteronomy 11:1–12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 12:4. The readings are the Contemporary English Version. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
Deuteronomy 11-12:32 (Contemporary English Version)
If You Are Loyal to the LORD, He Will Bless You
Moses said to Israel:1The LORD is your God, so you must always love him and obey his laws and teachings. 2Remember, he corrected you and not your children. You are the ones who saw the LORD use his great power 3when he worked miracles in Egypt, making terrible things happen to the king and all his people. 4And when the Egyptian army chased you in their chariots, you saw the LORD drown them and their horses in the Red Sea. [a] Egypt still suffers from that defeat! 5You saw what the LORD did for you while you were in the desert, right up to the time you arrived here. 6And you saw how the LORD made the ground open up in the middle of our camp underneath the tents of Dathan and Abiram, [b] who were swallowed up along with their families, their animals, and their tents. 7With your own eyes, you saw the LORD's mighty power do all these things. 8Soon you will cross the Jordan River, and if you obey the laws and teachings I'm giving you today, you will be strong enough to conquer the land 9that the LORD promised your ancestors and their descendants. It's rich with milk and honey, and you will live there and enjoy it for a long time. 10It's better land than you had in Egypt, where you had to struggle just to water your crops. [c] 11But the hills and valleys in the promised land are watered by rain from heaven, [d] 12because the LORD your God keeps his eye on this land and takes care of it all year long. 13The LORD your God commands you to love him and to serve him with all your heart and soul. If you obey him, 14-15he will send rain at the right seasons, [e] so you will have more than enough food, wine, and olive oil, and there will be plenty of grass for your cattle. 16But watch out! You will be tempted to turn your backs on the LORD. And if you worship other gods, 17the LORD will become angry and keep the rain from falling. Nothing will grow in your fields, and you will die and disappear from the good land that the LORD is giving you.
18Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them. 19Teach them to your children. Talk about them all the time--whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. 20Write them on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates. 21Then you and your descendants will live a long time in the land that the LORD promised your ancestors. Your families will live there as long as the sky is above the earth.
22Love the LORD your God and obey all the laws and teachings that I'm giving you today. If you live the way the LORD wants, 23he will help you take the land. And even though the nations there are more powerful than you, the LORD will force them to leave when you attack. 24You will capture the land everywhere you go, from the Southern Desert to the Lebanon Mountains, and from the Euphrates River west to the Mediterranean Sea. 25No one will be able to stand up to you. The LORD will make everyone terrified of you, just as he promised.
26You have a choice--do you want the LORD to bless you, or do you want him to put a curse on you? 27Today I am giving you his laws, and if you obey him, he will bless you. 28But if you disobey him and worship those gods that have never done anything for you, the LORD will put a curse on you.
29After the LORD your God helps you take the land, you must have a ceremony where you announce his blessings from Mount Gerizim and his curses from Mount Ebal. 30You know that these two mountains are west of the Jordan River in land now controlled by the Canaanites living in the Jordan River valley. The mountains are west of the road near the sacred trees of Moreh on the other side of Gilgal.
31Soon you will cross the Jordan River to conquer the land that the LORD your God is giving you. And when you have settled there, 32be careful to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today.
Only One Place To Worship the LORD
Moses said to Israel:1Now I'll tell you the laws and teachings that you have to obey as long as you live. Your ancestors worshiped the LORD, and he is giving you this land. 2But the nations that live there worship other gods. So after you capture the land, you must completely destroy their places of worship--on mountains and hills or in the shade of large trees. 3Wherever these nations worship their gods, you must tear down their altars, break their sacred stones, burn the sacred poles [f] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and smash their idols to pieces. Destroy these places of worship so completely that no one will remember they were ever there. 4Don't worship the LORD your God in the way those nations worship their gods. 5-19Soon you will cross the Jordan, and the LORD will help you conquer your enemies and let you live in peace, there in the land he has given you. But after you are settled, life will be different. You must not offer sacrifices just anywhere you want to. Instead, the LORD will choose a place somewhere in Israel where you must go to worship him. All of your sacrifices and offerings must be taken there, including sacrifices to please the LORD [g] and any gift you promise or voluntarily give him. That's where you must also take one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil, [h] as well as the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats. [i] You and your family and servants will eat your gifts and sacrifices [j] and celebrate there at the place of worship, because the LORD your God has made you successful in everything you have done. And since Levites will not have any land of their own, you must ask some of them to come along and celebrate with you. Sometimes you may want to kill an animal for food and not as a sacrifice. If the LORD has blessed you and given you enough cows or sheep or goats, then you can butcher one of them where you live. You can eat it just like the meat from a deer or gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat. But you must not eat the blood of any animal--let the blood drain out on the ground. 20-21The LORD has promised that later on he will give Israel more land, and some of you may not be able to travel all the way from your homes to the place of worship each time you are hungry for meat. [k] But the LORD will give you cattle, sheep, and goats, and you can butcher any of those animals at home and eat as much as you want. 22It is the same as eating the meat from a deer or a gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And in this way, anyone who is unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat. [l] 23-24But don't eat the blood. It is the life of the animal, so let it drain out on the ground before you eat the meat. 25Do you want the LORD to make you successful? Do you want your children to be successful even after you are gone? Then do what pleases the LORD and don't eat blood.
26-27All sacrifices and offerings to the LORD must be taken to the place where he chooses to be worshiped. If you offer a sacrifice to please the LORD, all of its meat must be burned on the altar. You can eat the meat from certain kinds of sacrifices, but you must always pour out the animal's blood on the altar.
28If you obey these laws, you will be doing what the LORD your God says is right and good. Then he will help you and your descendants be successful.
Worship the LORD in the Right Way
Moses said:29Israel, as you go into the land and attack the nations that are there, the LORD will get rid of them, and you can have their land. 30But that's when you must be especially careful not to ask, " How did those nations worship their gods? Shouldn't we worship the LORD in the same way?" 31No, you should not! The LORD hates the disgusting way those nations worship their gods, because they even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices.
32Obey all the laws and teachings I am giving you. Don't add any, and don't take any away.
- Deuteronomy 11:4 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph " Sea of Reeds," one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.7--14.9, which lists towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 B.C., the " Sea of Reeds," was named " Red Sea."
- Deuteronomy 11:6 Dathan and Abiram: Hebrew " Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab from the Reuben tribe."
- Deuteronomy 11:10 where. . . crops: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Deuteronomy 11:11 to water your crops. . . rain from heaven: Egypt was flat and had very little rain. All water for crops had to come from the Nile River.
- Deuteronomy 11:14 rain. . . seasons: In Palestine, almost all the rain for the year comes during the months from October through April.
- Deuteronomy 12:3 sacred poles: Or " trees," used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
- Deuteronomy 12:5 sacrifices to please the LORD: These sacrifices have traditionally been called " whole burnt offerings" because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the LORD with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are often called " sacrifices to please the LORD."
- Deuteronomy 12:5 one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil: The Israelites had to give one tenth of their harvest of these products to the LORD each year (see 14.22-29; 26.12,13; Leviticus 27.30-33).
- Deuteronomy 12:5 the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats: The Israelites had to sacrifice these to the LORD (see 15.19-22).
- Deuteronomy 12:5 sacrifices: Some sacrifices were completely burned on the altar; in other sacrifices, part of the animal was burned and part was given to the priests, but most of the meat was eaten by the worshipers as a sacred meal.
- Deuteronomy 12:20 meat: Usually eaten only on special occasions, such as during a sacred meal when sacrifices were offered to the LORD.
- Deuteronomy 12:22 anyone. . . the meat: Only those who were properly prepared for worship, or " clean," could eat a sacred meal, but anyone could eat this kind of meat.
Luke 8:22-39 (Contemporary English Version)
(Matthew 8.23-27; Mark 4.35-41)22One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat, and he said, "Let's cross the lake." [a] They started out, 23and while they were sailing across, he went to sleep. Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake, and the boat started sinking. They were in danger. 24So they went to Jesus and woke him up, "Master, Master! We are about to drown!" Jesus got up and ordered the wind and waves to stop. They obeyed, and everything was calm. 25Then Jesus asked the disciples, "Don't you have any faith?"
But they were frightened and amazed. They said to each other, "Who is this? He can give orders to the wind and the waves, and they obey him!"
A Man with Demons in Him
(Matthew 8.28-34; Mark 5.1-20)26Jesus and his disciples sailed across Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. [b] 27As Jesus was getting out of the boat, he was met by a man from that town. The man had demons in him. He had gone naked for a long time and no longer lived in a house, but in the graveyard. [c] 28The man saw Jesus and screamed. He knelt down in front of him and shouted, "Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? I beg you not to torture me!" 29He said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to go out of him. The man had often been attacked by the demon. And even though he had been bound with chains and leg irons and kept under guard, he smashed whatever bound him. Then the demon would force him out into lonely places.
30Jesus asked the man, "What is your name?"
He answered, "My name is Lots." He said this because there were `lots' of demons in him. 31They begged Jesus not to send them to the deep pit, [d] where they would be punished. 32A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. So the demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and Jesus let them go. 33Then the demons left the man and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
34When the men taking care of the pigs saw this, they ran to spread the news in the town and on the farms. 35The people went out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they also found the man. The demons had gone out of him, and he was sitting there at the feet of Jesus. He had clothes on and was in his right mind. But the people were terrified.
36Then all who had seen the man healed told about it. 37Everyone from around Gerasa [e] begged Jesus to leave, because they were so frightened. When Jesus got into the boat to start back, 38the man who had been healed begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him off and said, 39"Go back home and tell everyone how much God has done for you." The man then went all over town, telling everything that Jesus had done for him.
- Luke 8:22 cross the lake: To the eastern shore of Lake Galilee, where most of the people were not Jewish.
- Luke 8:26 Gerasa: Some manuscripts have " Gergesa."
- Luke 8:27 graveyard: It was thought that demons and evil spirits lived in graveyards.
- Luke 8:31 deep pit: The place where evil spirits are kept and punished.
- Luke 8:37 Gerasa: See the note at 8.26.
Psalm 70:1-5 (Contemporary English Version)
(By David for the music leader. To be used when an offering is made.)
God Is Wonderful1Save me, LORD God! Hurry and help.
2Disappoint and confuse
all who want to kill me.
Turn away and disgrace
all who want to hurt me.
3Embarrass and shame those
who say, "We told you so!"
4Let your worshipers celebrate
and be glad because of you.
They love your saving power,
so let them always say,
"God is wonderful!"
5I am poor and needy,
but you, the LORD God,
care about me.
You are the one who saves me.
Please hurry and help!
Proverbs 12:4 (Contemporary English Version)
Thought for the Day
Scottish novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist, Muriel Spark wrote, “It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.”