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Psalm 10-12The Message (MSG)

10 1-2 God, are you avoiding me?
    Where are you when I need you?
Full of hot air, the wicked
    are hot on the trail of the poor.
Trip them up, tangle them up
    in their fine-tuned plots.

3-4 The wicked are windbags,
    the swindlers have foul breath.
The wicked snub God,
    their noses stuck high in the air.
Their graffiti are scrawled on the walls:
    “Catch us if you can!” “God is dead.”

5-6 They care nothing for what you think;
    if you get in their way, they blow you off.
They live (they think) a charmed life:
    “We can’t go wrong. This is our lucky year!”

7-8 They carry a mouthful of hexes,
    their tongues spit venom like adders.
They hide behind ordinary people,
    then pounce on their victims.

They mark the luckless,
    then wait like a hunter in a blind;
When the poor wretch wanders too close,
    they stab him in the back.

10-11 The hapless fool is kicked to the ground,
    the unlucky victim is brutally axed.
He thinks God has dumped him,
    he’s sure that God is indifferent to his plight.

12-13 Time to get up, God—get moving.
    The luckless think they’re Godforsaken.
They wonder why the wicked scorn God
    and get away with it,
Why the wicked are so cocksure
    they’ll never come up for audit.

14 But you know all about it—
    the contempt, the abuse.
I dare to believe that the luckless
    will get lucky someday in you.
You won’t let them down:
    orphans won’t be orphans forever.

15-16 Break the wicked right arms,
    break all the evil left arms.
Search and destroy
    every sign of crime.
God’s grace and order wins;
    godlessness loses.

17-18 The victim’s faint pulse picks up;
    the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood
    as you put your ear to their lips.
Orphans get parents,
    the homeless get homes.
The reign of terror is over,
    the rule of the gang lords is ended.

A David Psalm

11 1-3 I’ve already run for dear life
    straight to the arms of God.
So why would I run away now
    when you say,

“Run to the mountains; the evil
    bows are bent, the wicked arrows
Aimed to shoot under cover of darkness
    at every heart open to God.
The bottom’s dropped out of the country;
    good people don’t have a chance”?

4-6 But God hasn’t moved to the mountains;
    his holy address hasn’t changed.
He’s in charge, as always, his eyes
    taking everything in, his eyelids
Unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood
    inside and out, not missing a thing.
He tests the good and the bad alike;
    if anyone cheats, God’s outraged.
Fail the test and you’re out,
    out in a hail of firestones,
Drinking from a canteen
    filled with hot desert wind.

God’s business is putting things right;
    he loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
    we can look him straight in the eye.

A David Psalm

12 1-2 Quick, God, I need your helping hand!
The last decent person just went down,
All the friends I depended on gone.
Everyone talks in lie language;
Lies slide off their oily lips.
They doubletalk with forked tongues.

3-4 Slice their lips off their faces! Pull
The braggart tongues from their mouths!
I’m tired of hearing, “We can talk anyone into anything!
Our lips manage the world.”

Into the hovels of the poor,
Into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks:
“I’ve had enough; I’m on my way
To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.”

6-8 God’s words are pure words,
Pure silver words refined seven times
In the fires of his word-kiln,
Pure on earth as well as in heaven.
God, keep us safe from their lies,
From the wicked who stalk us with lies,
From the wicked who collect honors
For their wonderful lies.

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 19:1-20The Message (MSG)

19 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”

“We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?”

“How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.

“In John’s baptism.”

“That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”

5-7 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.

8-10 Paul then went straight to the meeting place. He had the run of the place for three months, doing his best to make the things of the kingdom of God real and convincing to them. But then resistance began to form as some of them began spreading evil rumors through the congregation about the Christian way of life. So Paul left, taking the disciples with him, and set up shop in the school of Tyrannus, holding class there daily. He did this for two years, giving everyone in the province of Asia, Jews as well as Greeks, ample opportunity to hear the Message of the Master.

Witches Came out of the Woodwork

11-12 God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul’s skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole.

13-16 Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul’s “game.” They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!” The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man when the evil spirit talked back: “I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?” Then the possessed man went berserk—jumped the exorcists, beat them up, and tore off their clothes. Naked and bloody, they got away as best they could.

17-20 It was soon news all over Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. The realization spread that God was in and behind this. Curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the Master Jesus. Many of those who thus believed came out of the closet and made a clean break with their secret sorceries. All kinds of witches and warlocks came out of the woodwork with their books of spells and incantations and made a huge bonfire of them. Someone estimated their worth at fifty thousand silver coins. In such ways it became evident that the Word of the Master was now sovereign and prevailed in Ephesus.

The Message (MSG)

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

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