Today our passages are Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:7-35; Psalm 80:1-19; and Proverbs 12:27-28. 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.
Joshua 3-4:24 (Contemporary English Version)
Israel Crosses the Jordan River1Early the next morning, Joshua and the Israelites packed up and left Acacia. They went to the Jordan River and camped there that night. 2Two days later [a] their leaders went through the camp, 3-4shouting, " When you see some of the priests [b] carrying the sacred chest, you'll know it is time to cross to the other side. You've never been there before, and you won't know the way, unless you follow the chest. But don't get too close! Stay about half a mile back." 5Joshua told the people, " Make yourselves acceptable [c] to worship the LORD, because he is going to do some amazing things for us." 6Then Joshua turned to the priests and said, " Take the chest and cross the Jordan River ahead of us." So the priests picked up the chest by its carrying poles and went on ahead. 7The LORD told Joshua, " Beginning today I will show the people that you are their leader, and they will know that I am helping you as I helped Moses. 8Now, tell the priests who are carrying the chest to go a little way into the river and stand there."
9Joshua spoke to the people:
Come here and listen to what the LORD our God said he will do! 10The Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites control the land on the other side of the river. But the living God will be with you and will force them out of the land when you attack. And now, God is going to prove that he's powerful enough to force them out. 11-13Just watch the sacred chest that belongs to the LORD, the ruler of the whole earth. As soon as the priests carrying the chest step into the Jordan, the water will stop flowing and pile up as if someone had built a dam across the river.
The LORD has also said that each of the twelve tribes should choose one man to represent it.
14The Israelites packed up and left camp. The priests carrying the chest walked in front, 15until they came to the Jordan River. The water in the river had risen over its banks, as it often does in springtime. [d] But as soon as the feet of the priests touched the water, 16-17the river stopped flowing, and the water started piling up at the town of Adam near Zarethan. No water flowed toward the Dead Sea, and the priests stood in the middle of the dry riverbed near Jericho while everyone else crossed over.
The People Set Up a Monument1After Israel had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua: 2-3Tell [e] one man from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a large rock from where the priests are standing. Then have the men set up those rocks as a monument at the place where you camp tonight. 4Joshua chose twelve men; he called them together, 5and told them:
Go to the middle of the riverbed where the sacred chest is, and pick up a large rock. Carry it on your shoulder to our camp. There are twelve of you, so there will be one rock for each tribe. 6-7Someday your children will ask, " Why are these rocks here?" Then you can tell them how the water stopped flowing when the chest was being carried across the river. These rocks will always remind our people of what happened here today.
8The men followed the instructions that the LORD had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down.
9Joshua had some other men set up a monument next to the place where the priests were standing. This monument was also made of twelve large rocks, and it is still there in the middle of the river.
The People of Israel Set Up Camp at Gilgal10-13The army got ready for battle and crossed the Jordan. They marched quickly past the sacred chest [f] and into the desert near Jericho. Forty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh [g] led the way, as Moses had ordered. [h] The priests stayed right where they were until the army had followed the orders that the LORD had given Moses and Joshua. Then the army watched as the priests carried the chest the rest of the way across. 14-18" Joshua," the LORD said, " have the priests come up from the Jordan and bring the chest with them." So Joshua went over to the priests and told them what the LORD had said. And as soon as the priests carried the chest past the highest place that the floodwaters of the Jordan had reached, the river flooded its banks again.
That's how the LORD showed the Israelites that Joshua was their leader. [i] For the rest of Joshua's life, they respected him as they had respected Moses. 19It was the tenth day of the first month [j] of the year when Israel crossed the Jordan River. They set up camp at Gilgal, which was east of the land controlled by Jericho. 20The men who had carried the twelve rocks from the Jordan brought them to Joshua, and they made them into a monument. 21Then Joshua told the people: Years from now your children will ask you why these rocks are here. 22-23Tell them, " The LORD our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across. He did the same thing here for us that he did for our people at the Red Sea, [k] 24because he wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him."
- Joshua 3:2 Two days later: The Hebrew text has " At the end of three days," two days after they had set up camp.
- Joshua 3:3 the priests: The Hebrew text has " the priests, the Levites" ; priests belonged to the tribe of Levi.
- Joshua 3:5 Make yourselves acceptable: People had to do certain things to make themselves acceptable to worship the LORD (see Leviticus 7.20,21; 15.2,33; 22.4-8; Deuteronomy 23.10,11).
- Joshua 3:15 springtime: Or " harvest time" ; the grain harvest was in late spring.
- Joshua 4:2 Joshua. . . Tell: Or " Joshua, you and the other leaders must tell."
- Joshua 4:10 the sacred chest: The Hebrew text has " the LORD." The army was marching past the sacred chest, which was a symbol of God's throne on earth (see 1 Samuel 4.4 and Exodus 25.10-22; 37.1-9).
- Joshua 4:10 Forty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh: Or " There were forty thousand soldiers altogether, and those from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh."
- Joshua 4:10 Moses. . . ordered: See Numbers 32.16-32; Joshua 1.12-16.
- Joshua 4:14 leader: See 3.7.
- Joshua 4:19 first month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
- Joshua 4:22 Red Sea: See the note at 2.10.
Luke 14:7-35 (Contemporary English Version)
How To Be a Guest7Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them: 8When you are invited to a wedding feast, don't sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. 9Then the one who invited you will come and say, "Give your place to this other guest!" You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.
10When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, "My friend, take a better seat!" You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. 11If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
12Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him:
When you give a dinner or a banquet, don't invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. 13When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.
The Great Banquet
(Matthew 22.1-10)15After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, "The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God's kingdom!" 16Jesus told him:
A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests. 17When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, "Everything is ready! Please come."
18One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, "I bought some land, and I've got to look it over. Please excuse me."
19Another guest said, "I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me."
20Still another guest said, "I have just gotten married, and I can't be there."
21The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, "Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame."
22When the servant returned, he said, "Master, I've done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people."
23His master then told him, "Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full. 24Not one of the guests I first invited will get even a bite of my food!"
Being a Disciple
(Matthew 10.37,38)25Large crowds were walking along with Jesus, when he turned and said: 26You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.
27You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.
28Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won't you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it? 29Otherwise, you will start building the tower, but not be able to finish. Then everyone who sees what is happening will laugh at you. 30They will say, "You started building, but could not finish the job."
31What will a king do if he has only ten thousand soldiers to defend himself against a king who is about to attack him with twenty thousand soldiers? Before he goes out to battle, won't he first sit down and decide if he can win? 32If he thinks he won't be able to defend himself, he will send messengers and ask for peace while the other king is still a long way off. 33So then, you cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own.
Salt and Light
(Matthew 5.13; Mark 9.50)34Salt is good, but if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made to taste salty again? 35It is no longer good for the soil or even for the manure pile. People simply throw it out. If you have ears, pay attention!
Psalm 80:1-19 (Contemporary English Version)
(A psalm by Asaph for the music leader. To the tune "Lilies of the Agreement.")
Help Our Nation1Shepherd of Israel, you lead the descendants of Joseph,
and you sit on your throne
above the winged creatures. [a] Listen to our prayer
and let your light shine
2for the tribes of Ephraim,
Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Save us by your power.
3Our God, make us strong again!
Smile on us and save us.
4LORD God All-Powerful,
how much longer
will the prayers of your people
make you angry?
5You gave us tears for food,
and you made us drink them
by the bowlful.
6Because of you,
our enemies who live nearby
laugh and joke about us.
7But if you smile on us,
we will be saved.
8We were like a grapevine
you brought out of Egypt.
You chased other nations away
and planted us here.
9Then you cleared the ground,
and we put our roots deep,
spreading over the land.
10Shade from this vine covered
the mighty cedars
11and stretched to the sea;
its new growth reached
to the river. [b] 12Our Lord, why have you
torn down the wall
from around the vineyard?
You let everyone who walks by
pick the grapes.
13Now the vine is gobbled down
by pigs from the forest
and other wild animals.
please do something!
Look down from heaven
and see what's happening
to this vine.
15With your own hands
you planted its roots,
and you raised it
as your very own.
16Enemies chopped the vine down
and set it on fire.
Now show your anger
and destroy them.
17But help the one who sits
at your right side, [c] the one you raised
to be your own.
18Then we will never turn away.
Put new life into us,
and we will worship you.
19LORD God All-Powerful,
make us strong again!
Smile on us and save us.
- Psalm 80:1 winged creatures: Two winged creatures made of gold were on the top of the sacred chest and were symbols of the LORD's throne on earth (see Exodus 25.18).
- Psalm 80:11 the sea. . . the river: The Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River were part of the ideal boundaries for Israel.
- Psalm 80:17 right side: See the note at 16.11.
Proverbs 12:27-28 (Contemporary English Version)
27Anyone too lazy to cook
but a hard worker
is a valuable treasure. [a] 28Follow the road to life,
and you won't be bothered
but a hard worker
is a valuable treasure. [a] 28Follow the road to life,
and you won't be bothered
- Proverbs 12:27 but. . . treasure: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Verse of the Day
“Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.” - Romans 5:6-8
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
English writer, drama and literary critic, painter, social commentator, and philosopher, William Hazlitt wrote, “The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much.”