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Job 36-37The Message (MSG)

Those Who Learn from Their Suffering

36 1-4 Here Elihu took a deep breath, but kept going:

“Stay with me a little longer. I’ll convince you.
    There’s still more to be said on God’s side.
I learned all this firsthand from the Source;
    everything I know about justice I owe to my Maker himself.
Trust me, I’m giving you undiluted truth;
    believe me, I know these things inside and out.

5-15 “It’s true that God is all-powerful,
    but he doesn’t bully innocent people.
For the wicked, though, it’s a different story—
    he doesn’t give them the time of day,
    but champions the rights of their victims.
He never takes his eyes off the righteous;
    he honors them lavishly, promotes them endlessly.
When things go badly,
    when affliction and suffering descend,
God tells them where they’ve gone wrong,
    shows them how their pride has caused their trouble.
He forces them to heed his warning,
    tells them they must repent of their bad life.
If they obey and serve him,
    they’ll have a good, long life on easy street.
But if they disobey, they’ll be cut down in their prime
    and never know the first thing about life.
Angry people without God pile grievance upon grievance,
    always blaming others for their troubles.
Living it up in sexual excesses,
    virility wasted, they die young.
But those who learn from their suffering,
    God delivers from their suffering.

Obsessed with Putting the Blame on God

16-21 “Oh, Job, don’t you see how God’s wooing you
    from the jaws of danger?
How he’s drawing you into wide-open places—
    inviting you to feast at a table laden with blessings?
And here you are laden with the guilt of the wicked,
    obsessed with putting the blame on God!
Don’t let your great riches mislead you;
    don’t think you can bribe your way out of this.
Did you plan to buy your way out of this?
    Not on your life!
And don’t think that night,
    when people sleep off their troubles,
    will bring you any relief.
Above all, don’t make things worse with more evil—
    that’s what’s behind your suffering as it is!

22-25 “Do you have any idea how powerful God is?
    Have you ever heard of a teacher like him?
Has anyone ever had to tell him what to do,
    or correct him, saying, ‘You did that all wrong!’?
Remember, then, to praise his workmanship,
    which is so often celebrated in song.
Everybody sees it;
    nobody is too far away to see it.

No One Can Escape from God

26 “Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite,
    greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!

27-33 “He pulls water up out of the sea,
    distills it, and fills up his rain-cloud cisterns.
Then the skies open up
    and pour out soaking showers on everyone.
Does anyone have the slightest idea how this happens?
    How he arranges the clouds, how he speaks in thunder?
Just look at that lightning, his sky-filling light show
    illumining the dark depths of the sea!
These are the symbols of his sovereignty,
    his generosity, his loving care.
He hurls arrows of light,
    taking sure and accurate aim.
The High God roars in the thunder,
    angry against evil.”

37 1-13 “Whenever this happens, my heart stops—
    I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath.
Listen to it! Listen to his thunder,
    the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice.
He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon,
    lighting up the earth from pole to pole.
In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice,
    powerful and majestic.
He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back.
    No one can mistake that voice—
His word thundering so wondrously,
    his mighty acts staggering our understanding.
He orders the snow, ‘Blanket the earth!’
    and the rain, ‘Soak the whole countryside!’
No one can escape the weather—it’s there.
    And no one can escape from God.
Wild animals take shelter,
    crawling into their dens,
When blizzards roar out of the north
    and freezing rain crusts the land.
It’s God’s breath that forms the ice,
    it’s God’s breath that turns lakes and rivers solid.
And yes, it’s God who fills clouds with rainwater
    and hurls lightning from them every which way.
He puts them through their paces—first this way, then that—
    commands them to do what he says all over the world.
Whether for discipline or grace or extravagant love,
    he makes sure they make their mark.

A Terrible Beauty Streams from God

14-18 “Job, are you listening? Have you noticed all this?
    Stop in your tracks! Take in God’s miracle-wonders!
Do you have any idea how God does it all,
    how he makes bright lightning from dark storms,
How he piles up the cumulus clouds—
    all these miracle-wonders of a perfect Mind?
Why, you don’t even know how to keep cool
    on a sweltering hot day,
So how could you even dream
    of making a dent in that hot-tin-roof sky?

19-22 “If you’re so smart, give us a lesson in how to address God.
    We’re in the dark and can’t figure it out.
Do you think I’m dumb enough to challenge God?
    Wouldn’t that just be asking for trouble?
No one in his right mind stares straight at the sun
    on a clear and cloudless day.
As gold comes from the northern mountains,
    so a terrible beauty streams from God.

23-24 “Mighty God! Far beyond our reach!
    Unsurpassable in power and justice!
    It’s unthinkable that he’d treat anyone unfairly.
So bow to him in deep reverence, one and all!
    If you’re wise, you’ll most certainly worship him.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Acts 15:22-41The Message (MSG)

22-23 Everyone agreed: apostles, leaders, all the people. They picked Judas (nicknamed Barsabbas) and Silas—they both carried considerable weight in the church—and sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas with this letter:

From the apostles and leaders, your friends, to our friends in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Hello!

24-27 We heard that some men from our church went to you and said things that confused and upset you. Mind you, they had no authority from us; we didn’t send them. We have agreed unanimously to pick representatives and send them to you with our good friends Barnabas and Paul. We picked men we knew you could trust, Judas and Silas—they’ve looked death in the face time and again for the sake of our Master Jesus Christ. We’ve sent them to confirm in a face-to-face meeting with you what we’ve written.

28-29 It seemed to the Holy Spirit and to us that you should not be saddled with any crushing burden, but be responsible only for these bare necessities: Be careful not to get involved in activities connected with idols; avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians (blood, for instance); and guard the morality of sex and marriage.

These guidelines are sufficient to keep relations congenial between us. And God be with you!

Barnabas and Paul Go Their Separate Ways

30-33 And so off they went to Antioch. On arrival, they gathered the church and read the letter. The people were greatly relieved and pleased. Judas and Silas, good preachers both of them, strengthened their new friends with many words of courage and hope. Then it was time to go home. They were sent off by their new friends with laughter and embraces all around to report back to those who had sent them.

35 Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch, teaching and preaching the Word of God. But they weren’t alone. There were a number of teachers and preachers at that time in Antioch.

36 After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.”

37-41 Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up muscle and sinew in those congregations.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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