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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Friday, April 28, 2017

Bible Readings for April 28, 2017

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 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.

Judges 8:18-9:21 (Contemporary English Version)

18Then Gideon said, " Zebah and Zalmunna, tell me about the men you killed at Tabor."
   " They were a lot like you," the two kings answered. " They were dignified, almost like royalty."
    19" They were my very own brothers!" Gideon said. " I swear by the living LORD that if you had let them live, I would let you live."
    20Gideon turned to Jether, his oldest son. " Kill them!" Gideon said.
   But Jether was young, [a] and he was too afraid to even pull out his sword.
    21" What's the matter, Gideon?" Zebah and Zalmunna asked. " Do it yourself, if you're not too much of a coward!"
   Gideon jumped up and killed them both. Then he took the fancy gold ornaments from the necks of their camels.
The Israelites Ask Gideon To Be Their King
 22After the battle with the Midianites, the Israelites said, " Gideon, you rescued us! Now we want you to be our king. Then after your death, your son and then your grandson will rule."     23" No," Gideon replied, " I won't be your king, and my son won't be king either. Only the LORD is your ruler.
    24But I will ask you to do one thing: Give me all the earrings you took from the enemy."
   The enemy soldiers had been Ishmaelites, [b] and they wore gold earrings.
    25The Israelite soldiers replied, " Of course we will give you the earrings." Then they spread out a robe on the ground and tossed the earrings on it.
    26The total weight of this gold was over forty pounds. In addition, there was the gold from the camels' ornaments and from the beautiful jewelry worn by the Midianite kings. Gideon also took their purple robes.
    27-29Gideon returned to his home in Ophrah and had the gold made into a statue, which the Israelites soon started worshiping. They became unfaithful to God, and even Gideon and his family were trapped into worshiping the statue. [c] The Midianites had been defeated so badly that they were no longer strong enough to attack Israel. And so Israel was at peace for the remaining forty years of Gideon's life.
Gideon Dies
 30Gideon had many wives and seventy sons.     31He even had a wife [d] who lived at Shechem. [e] They had a son, and Gideon named him Abimelech.
    32Gideon lived to be an old man. And when he died, he was buried in the family tomb in his hometown of Ophrah, which belonged to the Abiezer clan.
    33Soon after Gideon's death, the Israelites turned their backs on God again. They set up idols of Baal and worshiped Baal Berith [f] as their god.
    34The Israelites forgot that the LORD was their God, and that he had rescued them from the enemies who lived around them.
    35Besides all that, the Israelites were unkind to Gideon's family, even though Gideon had done so much for Israel.

Judges 9

Abimelech Tries To Be King
 1Abimelech the son of Gideon [g] went to Shechem. While there, he met with his mother's relatives     2and told them to say to the leaders of Shechem, " Do you think it would be good to have all seventy of Gideon's sons ruling us? Wouldn't you rather have just one man be king? Abimelech would make a good king, and he's related to us."
    3Abimelech's uncles talked it over with the leaders of Shechem who agreed, " Yes, it would be better for one of our relatives to be king."
    4Then they gave Abimelech seventy pieces [h] of silver from the temple of their god Baal Berith. [i] Abimelech used the silver to hire a gang of rough soldiers who would do anything for money.
    5Abimelech and his soldiers went to his father's home in Ophrah and brought out Gideon's other sons to a large rock, where they murdered all seventy. Gideon's youngest son Jotham hid from the soldiers, but he was the only one who escaped.
    6The leaders of Shechem, including the priests and the military officers, [j] met at the tree next to the sacred rock [k] in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.
    7Jotham heard what they were doing. So he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down to the people who were there at the meeting: Leaders of Shechem,
   listen to me,
   and maybe God
   will listen to you.
    8Once the trees searched
   for someone to be king;
   they asked the olive tree,
   " Will you be our king?"
    9But the olive tree replied,
   " My oil brings honor
   to people and gods.
   I won't stop making oil,
   just to have my branches wave
   above the other trees."
    10Then they asked the fig tree,
   " Will you be our king?"
    11But the fig tree replied,
   " I won't stop growing
   my delicious fruit,
   just to have my branches wave
   above the other trees."
    12Next they asked the grape vine,
   " Will you be our king?"
    13But the grape vine replied,
   " My wine brings cheer
   to people and gods.
   I won't stop making wine,
   just to have my branches wave
   above the other trees."
    14Finally, they went
   to the thornbush and asked,
   " Will you be our king?"
    15The thornbush replied,
   " If you really want me
   to be your king,
   then come into my shade
   and I will protect you.
   But if you're deceiving me,
   I'll start a fire
   that will spread out and destroy
   the cedars of Lebanon." [l] After Jotham had finished telling this story, he said:
    16-18My father Gideon risked his life for you when he fought to rescue you from the Midianites. Did you reward Gideon by being kind to his family? No, you did not! You attacked his family and killed all seventy of his sons on that rock.
   And was it right to make Abimelech your king? He's merely the son of my father's slave girl. [m] But just because he's your relative, you made him king of Shechem.
    19So, you leaders of Shechem, if you treated Gideon and his family the way you should have, then I hope you and Abimelech will make each other very happy.
    20But if it was wrong to treat Gideon and his family the way you did, then I pray that Abimelech will destroy you with fire, and I pray that you will do the same to him.
    21Jotham ran off and went to live in the town of Beer, where he could be safe from his brother Abimelech.
  1. Judges 8:20 young: Gideon wanted to insult the kings by having a young boy kill them.
  2. Judges 8:24 Ishmaelites: According to Genesis 25.1,2,12, both Ishmaelites and Midianites were descendants of Abraham. It is possible that in this passage " Ishmaelites" has the meaning " nomadic traders," while " Midianites" (verses 22,26-29) refers to their ethnic origin.
  3. Judges 8:27 statue. . . statue: Or " sacred priestly vest. . . vest."
  4. Judges 8:31 wife: This translates a Hebrew word for a woman who was legally bound to a man, but without the full privileges of a wife.
  5. Judges 8:31 who lived at Shechem: Sometimes marriages were arranged so that the wife lived with her parents, and the husband visited her from time to time.
  6. Judges 8:33 Baal Berith: Or " Baal of the Agreement" or " the Lord of the Agreement."
  7. Judges 9:1 Gideon: The Hebrew text has " Jerubbaal," another name for Gideon (see 6.32).
  8. Judges 9:4 seventy pieces: About 28 ounces.
  9. Judges 9:4 Baal Berith: See the note at 8.33.
  10. Judges 9:6 including the priests and the military officers: The Hebrew text has " and the Millo house," another name for the temple of Baal Berith. It probably also served as a military fortress.
  11. Judges 9:6 tree. . . rock: One ancient translation; Hebrew " propped-up sacred tree."
  12. Judges 9:15 cedars of Lebanon: The cedars that grew in the Lebanon mountains were some of the largest trees in that part of the world.
  13. Judges 9:16 son of. . . slave girl: See 8.31.

Luke 23:44-24:12 (Contemporary English Version)

The Death of Jesus
(Matthew 27.45-56; Mark 15.33-41; John 19.28-30)
 44Around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. 45The sun stopped shining, and the curtain in the temple [a] split down the middle. 46Jesus shouted, "Father, I put myself in your hands!" Then he died. 47When the Roman officer saw what had happened, he praised God and said, "Jesus must really have been a good man!"     48A crowd had gathered to see the terrible sight. Then after they had seen it, they felt brokenhearted and went home. 49All of Jesus' close friends and the women who had come with him from Galilee stood at a distance and watched.
Jesus Is Buried
(Matthew 27.57-61; Mark 15.42-47; John 19.38-42)
 50-51There was a man named Joseph, who was from Arimathea in Judea. Joseph was a good and honest man, and he was eager for God's kingdom to come. He was also a member of the council, but he did not agree with what they had decided.     52Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 53He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in fine cloth. Then he put it in a tomb that had been cut out of solid rock and had never been used. 54It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin. [b] 55The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus' body was placed in the tomb. 56Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands.

Luke 24

Jesus Is Alive
(Matthew 28.1-10; Mark 16.1-8; John 20.1-10)
 1Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. 2When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, 3they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord [c] Jesus, 4and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. 5The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? 6Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, 7'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " 8Then they remembered what Jesus had said.     9-10Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. 11The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe.
    12But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened. [d]
  1. Luke 23:45 curtain in the temple: There were two curtains in the temple. One was at the entrance, and the other separated the holy place from the most holy place that the Jewish people thought of as God's home on earth. The second curtain is probably the one which is meant.
  2. Luke 23:54 the Sabbath was about to begin: The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday.
  3. Luke 24:3 the Lord: These words are not in some manuscripts.
  4. Luke 24:12 what had happened: Verse 12 is not in some manuscripts.

Psalm 99:1-9 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 99

Our LORD Is King
 1Our LORD, you are King!    You rule from your throne
   above the winged creatures, [a] as people tremble
   and the earth shakes.
    2You are praised in Zion,
   and you control all nations.
    3Only you are God!
   And your power alone,
   so great and fearsome,
   is worthy of praise.
    4You are our mighty King, [b] a lover of fairness,
   who sees that justice is done
   everywhere in Israel.
    5Our LORD and our God,
   we praise you
   and kneel down to worship you,
   the God of holiness!
    6Moses and Aaron were two
   of your priests.
   Samuel was also one of those
   who prayed in your name,
   and you, our LORD,
   answered their prayers.
    7You spoke to them
   from a thick cloud,
   and they obeyed your laws.
    8Our LORD and our God,
   you answered their prayers
   and forgave their sins,
   but when they did wrong,
   you punished them.
    9We praise you, LORD God,
   and we worship you
   at your sacred mountain.
   Only you are God!
  1. Psalm 99:1 winged creatures: See the note at 80.1.
  2. Psalm 99:4 You. . . King: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 14:9-10 (Contemporary English Version)

9Fools don't care
   if they are wrong, [a] but God is pleased
   when people do right.
    10No one else can really know
   how sad or happy you are.
  1. Proverbs 14:9 Fools. . . wrong: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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.

Thought for the Day

American dramatist and screenwriter known for her success as a playwright on Broadway, Lillian Hellman wrote, “People change and forget to tell each other.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bible Readings for April 27, 2017

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 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.

Judges 7-8:17 (Contemporary English Version)

Judges 7

 1Early the next morning, Gideon and his army got up and moved their camp to Fear Spring. [a] The Midianite camp was to the north, in the valley at the foot of Moreh Hill. [b]     2The LORD said, " Gideon, your army is too big. I can't let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn't have anything to do with it.
    3So call your troops together and tell them that anyone who is really afraid can leave Mount Gilead [c] and go home." Twenty-two thousand men returned home, leaving Gideon with only ten thousand soldiers.
    4" Gideon," the LORD said, " you still have too many soldiers. Take them down to the spring and I'll test them. I'll tell you which ones can go along with you and which ones must go back home."
    5When Gideon led his army down to the spring, the LORD told him, " Watch how each man gets a drink of water. Then divide them into two groups--those who lap the water like a dog and those who kneel down to drink."
    6Three hundred men scooped up water in their hands and lapped it, and the rest knelt to get a drink.
    7The LORD said, " Gideon, your army will be made up of everyone who lapped the water from their hands. Send the others home. I'm going to rescue Israel by helping you and your army of three hundred defeat the Midianites."
    8Then Gideon gave these orders, " You three hundred men stay here. The rest of you may go home, but leave your food and trumpets with us."
   Gideon's army camp was on top of a hill overlooking the Midianite camp in the valley.
    9That night, the LORD said to Gideon. " Get up! Attack the Midianite camp. I am going to let you defeat them,
    10but if you're still afraid, you and your servant Purah should sneak down to their camp.
    11When you hear what the Midianites are saying, you'll be brave enough to attack."
   Gideon and Purah worked their way to the edge of the enemy camp, where soldiers were on guard duty.
    12The camp was huge. The Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. [d] And it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels.
    13Gideon overheard one enemy guard telling another, " I had a dream about a flat [e] loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into our camp. It hit the headquarters tent, [f] and the tent flipped over and fell down."
    14The other soldier answered, " Your dream must have been about Gideon, the Israelite commander. It means God will let him and his army defeat the Midianite army and everyone else in our camp."
    15As soon as Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he bowed down to praise God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and shouted, " Let's go! The LORD is going to let us defeat the Midianite army."
    16Gideon divided his little army into three groups of one hundred men, and he gave each soldier a trumpet and a large clay jar with a burning torch inside.
    17-18Gideon said, " When we get to the enemy camp, spread out and surround it. Then wait for me to blow a signal on my trumpet. As soon as you hear it, blow your trumpets and shout, `Fight for the LORD! Fight for Gideon!' "
    19Gideon and his group reached the edge of the enemy camp a few hours after dark, just after the new guards had come on duty. [g] Gideon and his soldiers blew their trumpets and smashed the clay jars that were hiding the torches.
    20The rest of Gideon's soldiers blew the trumpets they were holding in their right hands. Then they smashed the jars and held the burning torches in their left hands. Everyone shouted, " Fight with your swords for the LORD and for Gideon!"
    21The enemy soldiers started yelling and tried to run away. Gideon's troops stayed in their positions surrounding the camp
    22and blew their trumpets again. As they did, the LORD made the enemy soldiers pull out their swords and start fighting each other.
   The enemy army tried to escape from the camp. They ran to Acacia Tree Town, toward Zeredah, [h] and as far as the edge of the land that belonged to the town of Abel-Meholah near Tabbath. [i]
    23Gideon sent word for more Israelite soldiers to come from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both halves of Manasseh [j] to help fight the Midianites.
    24He also sent messengers to tell all the men who lived in the hill country of Ephraim, " Come and help us fight the Midianites! Put guards at every spring, stream, and well, as far as Beth-Barah before the Midianites can get to them. And guard the Jordan River." Troops from Ephraim did exactly what Gideon had asked,
    25and they even helped chase the Midianites on the east side of the Jordan River. These troops captured Raven and Wolf, [k] the two Midianite leaders. They killed Raven at a large rock that has come to be known as Raven Rock, and they killed Wolf near a wine-pit that has come to be called Wolf Wine-Pit. [l] The men of Ephraim brought the heads of the two Midianite leaders to Gideon.

Judges 8


Judges 8

 1But the men were really upset with Gideon and complained, " When you went to war with Midian, you didn't ask us to help! Why did you treat us like that?"     2Gideon answered:
   Don't be upset! Even though you came later, you were able to do much more than I did. It's just like the grape harvest: The grapes your tribe doesn't even bother to pick are better than the best grapes my family can grow.
    3Besides, God chose you to capture Raven and Wolf. I didn't do a thing compared to you.
   By the time Gideon had finished talking, the men of Ephraim had calmed down and were no longer angry at him.
Gideon Finishes Destroying the Midianite Army
 4After Gideon and his three hundred troops had chased the Midianites as far as the Jordan River, they were exhausted.     5The town of Succoth was nearby, so he went there and asked, " Please give my troops some food. They are worn out, but we have to keep chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings."
    6The town leaders of Succoth answered, " Why should we feed your army? We don't know if you really will defeat Zebah and Zalmunna."
    7" Just wait!" Gideon said. " After the LORD helps me defeat them, I'm coming back here. I'll make a whip out of thorns and rip the flesh from your bones."
    8After leaving Succoth, Gideon went to Penuel and asked the leaders there for some food. But he got the same answer as he had gotten at Succoth.
    9" I'll come back safe and sound," Gideon said, " but when I do, I'm going to tear down your tower!" [m]
    10Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor [n] with an army of fifteen thousand troops. They were all that was left of the army of the eastern nations, because one hundred twenty thousand of their warriors had been killed in the battle.
    11Gideon reached the enemy camp by going east along Nomad [o] Road past Nobah and Jogbehah. He made a surprise attack,
    12and the enemy panicked. Zebah and Zalmunna tried to escape, but Gideon chased and captured them.
    13After the battle, Gideon set out for home. As he was going through Heres Pass,
    14he caught a young man who lived in Succoth. Gideon asked him who the town officials of Succoth were, and the young man wrote down seventy-seven names.
    15Gideon went to the town officials and said, " Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. Remember how you made fun of me? You said, `We don't know if you really will defeat those two Midianite kings. So why should we feed your worn-out army?' "
    16Gideon made a whip from thorn plants and used it to beat the town officials.
    17Afterwards he went to Penuel, where he tore down the tower and killed all the town officials [p] there.
  1. Judges 7:1 Fear Spring: Or " Harod Spring."
  2. Judges 7:1 Moreh Hill: About 5 miles north of Fear Spring.
  3. Judges 7:3 Mount Gilead: Usually " Gilead" refers to an area east of the Jordan River, but in this verse it refers to a place near Jezreel Valley west of the Jordan.
  4. Judges 7:12 locusts: See the note at 6.4,5.
  5. Judges 7:13 flat: Or " moldy."
  6. Judges 7:13 the headquarters tent: Or " a tent."
  7. Judges 7:19 a few hours after dark, just. . . duty: The Hebrew text has " at the beginning of the second watch, just. . . duty." The night was divided into three periods called " watches," each about four hours long, and different guards would come on duty at the beginning of each watch. The first watch began at sunset, so the beginning of the second watch would have been shortly after 10:00 (P.M.)
  8. Judges 7:22 Zeredah: Some Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts " Zererah" ; these may be different names for the town of Zarethan in the Jordan River valley.
  9. Judges 7:22 Acacia Tree Town. . . Zeredah. . . Abel-Meholah near Tabbath: These were places east of the Jordan River.
  10. Judges 7:23 both halves of Manasseh: Half of Manasseh lived east of the Jordan River, and the other half lived on the west.
  11. Judges 7:25 Raven and Wolf: Or " Oreb and Zeeb."
  12. Judges 7:25 Raven Rock. . . Wolf Wine-Pit: Or " Oreb Rock. . . Zeeb Wine-Pit."
  13. Judges 8:9 tower: Towers were often part of a town wall.
  14. Judges 8:10 Karkor: A little over 100 miles east of the Dead Sea.
  15. Judges 8:11 Nomad: A person who lives in a tent and moves from place to place.
  16. Judges 8:17 all. . . officials: Or " every man in town."

Luke 23:13-43 (Contemporary English Version)

The Death Sentence
(Matthew 27.15-26; Mark 15.6-15; John 18.39--19.16)
 13Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people. 14He told them, "You brought Jesus to me and said he was a troublemaker. But I have questioned him here in front of you, and I have not found him guilty of anything that you say he has done. 15Herod didn't find him guilty either and sent him back. This man doesn't deserve to be put to death! 16-17I will just have him beaten with a whip and set free." [a] 18But the whole crowd shouted, "Kill Jesus! Give us Barabbas!" 19Now Barabbas was in jail because he had started a riot in the city and had murdered someone.     20Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he spoke again to the crowds. 21But they kept shouting, "Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!"
    22Pilate spoke to them a third time, "But what crime has he done? I have not found him guilty of anything for which he should be put to death. I will have him beaten with a whip and set free."
    23The people kept on shouting as loud as they could for Jesus to be put to death. 24Finally, Pilate gave in. 25He freed the man who was in jail for rioting and murder, because he was the one the crowd wanted to be set free. Then Pilate handed Jesus over for them to do what they wanted with him.
Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
(Matthew 27.31-44; Mark 15.21-32; John 19.17-27)
 26As Jesus was being led away, some soldiers grabbed hold of a man from Cyrene named Simon. He was coming in from the fields, but they put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.     27A large crowd was following Jesus, and in the crowd a lot of women were crying and weeping for him. 28Jesus turned to the women and said:
   Women of Jerusalem, don't cry for me! Cry for yourselves and for your children. 29Someday people will say, "Women who never had children are really fortunate!" 30At that time everyone will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" They will say to the hills, "Hide us!" 31If this can happen when the wood is green, what do you think will happen when it is dry? [b] 32Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. 33When the soldiers came to the place called "The Skull," [c] they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. 34-35Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." [d] While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. The leaders insulted him by saying, "He saved others. Now he should save himself, if he really is God's chosen Messiah!"
    36The soldiers made fun of Jesus and brought him some wine. 37They said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!"
    38Above him was a sign that said, "This is the King of the Jews."
    39One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!"
    40But the other criminal told the first one off, "Don't you fear God? Aren't you getting the same punishment as this man? 41We got what was coming to us, but he didn't do anything wrong." 42Then he said to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into power!"
    43Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise." [e]
  1. Luke 23:16 set free: Some manuscripts add, " Pilate said this, because at every Passover he was supposed to set one prisoner free for the Jewish people."
  2. Luke 23:31 If this can happen when the wood is green, what do you think will happen when it is dry: This saying probably means, " If this can happen to an innocent person, what do you think will happen to one who is guilty?"
  3. Luke 23:33 " The Skull" : The place was probably given this name because it was near a large rock in the shape of a human skull.
  4. Luke 23:34 Jesus said, " Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." : These words are not in some manuscripts.
  5. Luke 23:43 paradise: In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word is used for the Garden of Eden. In New Testament times it was sometimes used for the place where God's people are happy and at rest, as they wait for the final judgment.

Psalm 97-98:9 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 97

The LORD Brings Justice
 1The LORD is King!    Tell the earth to celebrate
   and all islands to shout.
    2Dark clouds surround him,
   and his throne is supported
   by justice and fairness.
    3Fire leaps from his throne,
   destroying his enemies,
    4and his lightning is so bright
   that the earth sees it
   and trembles.
    5Mountains melt away like wax
   in the presence of the LORD
   of all the earth.
    6The heavens announce,
   "The LORD brings justice!"
   Everyone sees God's glory.
    7Those who brag about
   the useless idols they worship
   are terribly ashamed,
   and all the false gods
   bow down to the LORD.
    8When the people of Zion
   and of the towns of Judah
   hear that God brings justice,
   they will celebrate.
    9The LORD rules the whole earth,
   and he is more glorious
   than all the false gods.
    10Love the LORD
   and hate evil!
   God protects his loyal people
   and rescues them
   from violence.
    11If you obey and do right,
   a light will show you the way
   and fill you with happiness.
    12You are the LORD's people!
   So celebrate and praise
   the only God.

Psalm 98

The LORD Works Miracles
 1Sing a new song to the LORD!    He has worked miracles,
   and with his own powerful arm,
   he has won the victory.
    2The LORD has shown the nations
   that he has the power to save
   and to bring justice.
    3God has been faithful
   in his love for Israel,
   and his saving power is seen
   everywhere on earth.
    4Tell everyone on this earth
   to sing happy songs
   in praise of the LORD.
    5Make music for him on harps.
   Play beautiful melodies!
    6Sound the trumpets and horns
   and celebrate with joyful songs
   for our LORD and King!
    7Command the ocean to roar
   with all of its creatures,
   and the earth to shout
   with all of its people.
    8Order the rivers
   to clap their hands,
   and all of the hills
   to sing together.
    9Let them worship the LORD!
   He is coming to judge
   everyone on the earth,
   and he will be honest
   and fair.

Proverbs 14:7-8 (Contemporary English Version)

7Stay away from fools,
   or you won't learn a thing.
    8Wise people have enough sense
   to find their way,
   but stupid fools get lost.

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.

Image result for Jack LondonThought for the Day

American novelist, journalist, and social activist, Jack London wrote, “You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bible Readings for April 26, 2017

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 Contemporary English VersionIf 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.

Judges 6:1-40 (Contemporary English Version)

Judges 6

Midian Steals Everything from Israel
 1Then once again the Israelites started disobeying the LORD, so he let the nation of Midian control Israel for seven years.     2The Midianites were so cruel that many Israelites ran to the mountains and hid in caves.
    3Every time the Israelites would plant crops, the Midianites invaded Israel together with the Amalekites and other eastern nations.
    4-5They rode in on their camels, set up their tents, and then let their livestock eat the crops as far as the town of Gaza. The Midianites stole food, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. Like a swarm of locusts, a<="" value="[a]" >[] they could not be counted, and they ruined the land wherever they went.
    6-7The Midianites took almost everything that belonged to the Israelites, and the Israelites begged the LORD for help.
    8-9Then the LORD sent a prophet to them with this message:
   I am the LORD God of Israel, so listen to what I say. You were slaves in Egypt, but I set you free and led you out of Egypt into this land. And when nations here made life miserable for you, I rescued you and helped you get rid of them and take their land.
    10I am your God, and I told you not to worship Amorite gods, even though you are living in the land of the Amorites. But you refused to listen.
The LORD Chooses Gideon
 11One day an angel from the LORD went to the town of Ophrah and sat down under the big tree that belonged to Joash, a member of the Abiezer clan. Joash's son Gideon was nearby, threshing grain in a shallow pit, where he could not be seen by the Midianites.     12The angel appeared and spoke to Gideon, " The LORD is helping you, and you are a strong warrior."
    13Gideon answered, " Please don't take this wrong, but if the LORD is helping us, then why have all of these awful things happened? We've heard how the LORD performed miracles and rescued our ancestors from Egypt. But those things happened long ago. Now the LORD has abandoned us to the Midianites."
    14Then the LORD himself said, " Gideon, you will be strong, because I am giving you the power to rescue Israel from the Midianites."
    15Gideon replied, " But how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest one in Manasseh, and everyone else in my family is more important than I am."
    16" Gideon," the LORD answered, " you can rescue Israel because I am going to help you! Defeating the Midianites will be as easy as beating up one man."
    17Gideon said, " It's hard to believe that I'm actually talking to the LORD. Please do something so I'll know that you really are the LORD.
    18And wait here until I bring you an offering."
   " All right, I'll wait," the LORD answered.
    19Gideon went home and killed a young goat, then started boiling the meat. Next, he opened a big sack of flour and made it into thin bread. [b<="">] When the meat was done, he put it in a basket and poured the broth into a clay cooking pot. He took the meat, the broth, and the bread and placed them under the big tree.
    20God's angel said, " Gideon, put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them." Gideon did as he was told.
    21The angel was holding a walking stick, and he touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick. Flames jumped from the rock and burned up the meat and the bread.
   When Gideon looked, the angel was gone.
    22Gideon realized that he had seen one of the LORD's angels. " Oh!" he moaned. " Now I'm going to die." [c<="">]
    23" Calm down!" the LORD told Gideon. " There's nothing to be afraid of. You're not going to die."
    24Gideon built an altar for worshiping the LORD and called it " The LORD Calms Our Fears." It still stands there in Ophrah, a town in the territory of the Abiezer clan.
Gideon Tears Down Baal's Altar
 25That night the LORD spoke to Gideon again:    Get your father's second-best bull, the one that's seven years old. Use it to pull down the altar where your father worships Baal and cut down the sacred pole [d<="">] next to the altar.
    26Then build an altar for worshiping me on the highest part of the hill where your town is built. Use layers of stones for my altar, not just a pile of rocks. Cut up the wood from the pole, make a fire, kill the bull, and burn it as a sacrifice to me.
    27Gideon chose ten of his servants to help him, and they did everything God had said. But since Gideon was afraid of his family and the other people in town, he did it all at night.
    28When the people of the town got up the next morning, they saw that Baal's altar had been knocked over, and the sacred pole next to it had been cut down. Then they noticed the new altar covered with the remains of the sacrificed bull.
    29" Who could have done such a thing?" they asked. And they kept on asking, until finally someone told them, " Gideon the son of Joash did it."
    30The men of the town went to Joash and said, " Your son Gideon knocked over Baal's altar and cut down the sacred pole next to it. Hand him over, so we can kill him!"
    31The crowd pushed closer and closer, but Joash replied, " Are you trying to take revenge for Baal? Are you trying to rescue Baal? If you are, you will be the ones who are put to death, and it will happen before another day dawns. If Baal really is a god, let him take his own revenge on someone who tears down his altar."
    32That same day, Joash changed Gideon's name to Jerubbaal, explaining, " He tore down Baal's altar, so let Baal take revenge himself." [e<="">]
Gideon Defeats the Midianites
 33All the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations got together and crossed the Jordan River. Then they invaded the land of Israel and set up camp in Jezreel Valley.     34The LORD's Spirit took control of Gideon, and Gideon blew a signal on a trumpet to tell the men in the Abiezer clan to follow him.
    35He also sent messengers to the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, telling the men of these tribes to come and join his army. Then they set out toward the enemy camp.
    36-37Gideon prayed to God, " I know that you promised to help me rescue Israel, but I need proof. Tonight I'll put some wool on the stone floor of that threshing-place over there. If you really will help me rescue Israel, then tomorrow morning let there be dew on the wool, but let the stone floor be dry."
    38And that's just what happened. Early the next morning, Gideon got up and checked the wool. He squeezed out enough water to fill a bowl.
    39But Gideon prayed to God again. " Don't be angry at me," Gideon said. " Let me try this just one more time, so I'll really be sure you'll help me. Only this time, let the wool be dry and the stone floor be wet with dew."
    40That night, God made the stone floor wet with dew, but he kept the wool dry.
  1. Judges 6:4 locusts: Insects like grasshoppers that travel in swarms and cause great damage to crops.
  2. Judges 6:19 thin bread: Bread made without yeast, since there was no time for the dough to rise.
  3. Judges 6:22 Now I'm going to die: The Hebrew text has " I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face." Some people believed that if they saw one of the LORD's angels, they would die (see 13.22).
  4. Judges 6:25 sacred pole: Or " sacred tree," used as a symbol of Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility.
  5. Judges 6:32 Jerubbaal. . . take revenge himself: In Hebrew, " Jerubbaal" means " Let Baal take revenge."

Luke 22:54-23:12 (Contemporary English Version)

Peter Says He Doesn't Know Jesus
(Matthew 26.57,58,67-75; Mark 14.53,54,66-72; John 18.12-18, 25-27)
 54Jesus was arrested and led away to the house of the high priest, while Peter followed at a distance. 55Some people built a fire in the middle of the courtyard and were sitting around it. Peter sat there with them, 56and a servant girl saw him. Then after she had looked at him carefully, she said, "This man was with Jesus!"     57Peter said, "Woman, I don't even know that man!"
    58A little later someone else saw Peter and said, "You are one of them!"
   "No, I'm not!" Peter replied.
    59About an hour later another man insisted, "This man must have been with Jesus. They both come from Galilee."
    60Peter replied, "I don't know what you are talking about!" Right then, while Peter was still speaking, a rooster crowed.
    61The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered that the Lord had said, "Before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me." 62Then Peter went out and cried hard.
    63The men who were guarding Jesus made fun of him and beat him. 64They put a blindfold on him and said, "Tell us who struck you!" 65They kept on insulting Jesus in many other ways.
Jesus Is Questioned by the Council
(Matthew 26.59-66; Mark 14.55-64; John 18.19-24)
 66At daybreak the nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses got together and brought Jesus before their council. 67They said, "Tell us! Are you the Messiah?"    Jesus replied, "If I said so, you wouldn't believe me. 68And if I asked you a question, you wouldn't answer. 69But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right side of God All-Powerful."
    70Then they asked, "Are you the Son of God?" a<="" value="[a]" >[] Jesus answered, "You say I am!" [b<="">] 71They replied, "Why do we need more witnesses? He said it himself!"

Luke 23

Pilate Questions Jesus
(Matthew 27.1,2,11-14; Mark 15.1-5; John 18.28-38)
 1Everyone in the council got up and led Jesus off to Pilate. 2They started accusing him and said, "We caught this man trying to get our people to riot and to stop paying taxes to the Emperor. He also claims that he is the Messiah, our king."     3Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
   "Those are your words," Jesus answered.
    4Pilate told the chief priests and the crowd, "I don't find him guilty of anything."
    5But they all kept on saying, "He has been teaching and causing trouble all over Judea. He started in Galilee and has now come all the way here."
Jesus Is Brought before Herod
 6When Pilate heard this, he asked, "Is this man from Galilee?" 7After Pilate learned that Jesus came from the region ruled by Herod, [c<="">] he sent him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at that time. 8For a long time Herod had wanted to see Jesus and was very happy because he finally had this chance. He had heard many things about Jesus and hoped to see him work a miracle.     9Herod asked him a lot of questions, but Jesus did not answer. 10Then the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses stood up and accused him of all kinds of bad things.
    11Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and insulted him. They put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. 12That same day Herod and Pilate became friends, even though they had been enemies before this.
  1. Luke 22:70 Son of God: This was one of the titles used for the kings of Israel.
  2. Luke 22:70 You say I am: Or " That's what you say."
  3. Luke 23:7 Herod: Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.

Psalm 95-96:13 (Contemporary English Version)

Psalm 95

Worship and Obey the LORD
 1Sing joyful songs to the LORD!    Praise the mighty rock
   where we are safe.
    2Come to worship him
   with thankful hearts
   and songs of praise.
    3The LORD is the greatest God,
   king over all other gods.
    4He holds the deepest part
   of the earth in his hands,
   and the mountain peaks
   belong to him.
    5The ocean is the Lord's
   because he made it,
   and with his own hands
   he formed the dry land.
    6Bow down and worship
   the LORD our Creator!
    7The LORD is our God,
   and we are his people,
   the sheep he takes care of
   in his own pasture.
   Listen to God's voice today!
    8Don't be stubborn and rebel
   as your ancestors did
   at Meribah and Massah a<="" value="[a]" >[] out in the desert.
    9For forty years
   they tested God
   and saw
   the things he did.
    10Then God got tired of them
   and said,
   "You never show good sense,
   and you don't understand
   what I want you to do."
    11In his anger, God told them,
   "You people will never enter
   my place of rest."

Psalm 96

Sing a New Song to the LORD
 1Sing a new song to the LORD!    Everyone on this earth,
   sing praises to the LORD,
    2sing and praise his name.
   Day after day announce,
   "The LORD has saved us!"
    3Tell every nation on earth,
   "The LORD is wonderful
   and does marvelous things!
    4The LORD is great and deserves
   our greatest praise!
   He is the only God
   worthy of our worship.
    5Other nations worship idols,
   but the LORD created
   the heavens.
    6Give honor and praise
   to the LORD,
   whose power and beauty
   fill his holy temple."
    7Tell everyone of every nation,
   "Praise the glorious power
   of the LORD.
    8He is wonderful! Praise him
   and bring an offering
   into his temple.
    9Everyone on earth, now tremble
   and worship the LORD,
   majestic and holy."
    10Announce to the nations,
   "The LORD is King!
   The world stands firm,
   never to be shaken,
   and he will judge its people
   with fairness."
    11Tell the heavens and the earth
   to be glad and celebrate!
   Command the ocean to roar
   with all of its creatures
    12and the fields to rejoice
   with all of their crops.
   Then every tree in the forest
   will sing joyful songs
    13to the LORD.
   He is coming to judge
   all people on earth
   with fairness and truth.
  1. Psalm 95:8 Meribah and Massah: See the note at 81.7.

Proverbs 14:5-6 (Contemporary English Version)

5An honest witness
   tells the truth;
   a dishonest witness
   tells nothing but lies.
    6Make fun of wisdom,
   and you will never find it.
   But if you have understanding,
   knowledge comes easily.

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

American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art, Andy Warhol wrote, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”