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Psalm 119:1-88The Message (MSG)

119 1-8 You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
    keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
    in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
    I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
    don’t ever walk off and leave me.

9-16 How can a young person live a clean life?
    By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
    don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
    so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
    train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
    all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
    than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
    I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
    I won’t forget a word of it.

17-24 Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
    not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see
    what you show me of your miracle-wonders.
I’m a stranger in these parts;
    give me clear directions.
My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!—
    insatiable for your nourishing commands.
And those who think they know so much,
    ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it!
Don’t let them mock and humiliate me;
    I’ve been careful to do just what you said.
While bad neighbors maliciously gossip about me,
    I’m absorbed in pondering your wise counsel.
Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight;
    I listen to them as to good neighbors!

25-32 I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
    Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
When I told my story, you responded;
    train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
    so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
    build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
    grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
    I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
    God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me
    if you’ll just show me how.

33-40 God, teach me lessons for living
    so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
    my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
    I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
    and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
    invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
    promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
    but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
    preserve my life through your righteous ways!

41-48 Let your love, God, shape my life
    with salvation, exactly as you promised;
Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery
    because I trusted your Word.
Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—
    your commandments are what I depend on.
Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me,
    guard it now, guard it ever;
And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces
    as I look for your truth and your wisdom;
Then I’ll tell the world what I find,
    speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed.
I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—
    relishing every fragment of your counsel.

49-56 Remember what you said to me, your servant—
    I hang on to these words for dear life!
These words hold me up in bad times;
    yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
The insolent ridicule me without mercy,
    but I don’t budge from your revelation.
I watch for your ancient landmark words,
    and know I’m on the right track.
But when I see the wicked ignore your directions,
    I’m beside myself with anger.
I set your instructions to music
    and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
I meditate on your name all night, God,
    treasuring your revelation, O God.
Still, I walk through a rain of derision
    because I live by your Word and counsel.

57-64 Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise
    to do everything you say.
I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile,
    be gracious to me just as you promised.
When I took a long, careful look at your ways,
    I got my feet back on the trail you blazed.
I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet,
    was quick to follow your orders.
The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out—
    but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.
I get up in the middle of the night to thank you;
    your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning!
I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you,
    of those committed to living by your rules.
Your love, God, fills the earth!
    Train me to live by your counsel.

65-72 Be good to your servant, God;
    be as good as your Word.
Train me in good common sense;
    I’m thoroughly committed to living your way.
Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place,
    but now I’m in step with your Word.
You are good, and the source of good;
    train me in your goodness.
The godless spread lies about me,
    but I focus my attention on what you are saying;
They’re bland as a bucket of lard,
    while I dance to the tune of your revelation.
My troubles turned out all for the best—
    they forced me to learn from your textbook.
Truth from your mouth means more to me
    than striking it rich in a gold mine.

73-80 With your very own hands you formed me;
    now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
    those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
    your testing has taught me what’s true and right.
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
    just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
    your revelation is the tune I dance to.
Let the fast-talking tricksters be exposed as frauds;
    they tried to sell me a bill of goods,
    but I kept my mind fixed on your counsel.
Let those who fear you turn to me
    for evidence of your wise guidance.
And let me live whole and holy, soul and body,
    so I can always walk with my head held high.

81-88 I’m homesick—longing for your salvation;
    I’m waiting for your word of hope.
My eyes grow heavy watching for some sign of your promise;
    how long must I wait for your comfort?
There’s smoke in my eyes—they burn and water,
    but I keep a steady gaze on the instructions you post.
How long do I have to put up with all this?
    How long till you haul my tormentors into court?
The arrogant godless try to throw me off track,
    ignorant as they are of God and his ways.
Everything you command is a sure thing,
    but they harass me with lies. Help!
They’ve pushed and pushed—they never let up—
    but I haven’t relaxed my grip on your counsel.
In your great love revive me
    so I can alertly obey your every word.

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Corinthians 7:20-40The Message (MSG)

20-22 Stay where you were when God called your name. Were you a slave? Slavery is no roadblock to obeying and believing. I don’t mean you’re stuck and can’t leave. If you have a chance at freedom, go ahead and take it. I’m simply trying to point out that under your new Master you’re going to experience a marvelous freedom you would never have dreamed of. On the other hand, if you were free when Christ called you, you’ll experience a delightful “enslavement to God” you would never have dreamed of.

23-24 All of you, slave and free both, were once held hostage in a sinful society. Then a huge sum was paid out for your ransom. So please don’t, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side.

25-28 The Master did not give explicit direction regarding virgins, but as one much experienced in the mercy of the Master and loyal to him all the way, you can trust my counsel. Because of the current pressures on us from all sides, I think it would probably be best to stay just as you are. Are you married? Stay married. Are you unmarried? Don’t get married. But there’s certainly no sin in getting married, whether you’re a virgin or not. All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible.

29-31 I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple—in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.

32-35 I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.

36-38 If a man has a woman friend to whom he is loyal but never intended to marry, having decided to serve God as a “single,” and then changes his mind, deciding he should marry her, he should go ahead and marry. It’s no sin; it’s not even a “step down” from celibacy, as some say. On the other hand, if a man is comfortable in his decision for a single life in service to God and it’s entirely his own conviction and not imposed on him by others, he ought to stick with it. Marriage is spiritually and morally right and not inferior to singleness in any way, although as I indicated earlier, because of the times we live in, I do have pastoral reasons for encouraging singleness.

39-40 A wife must stay with her husband as long as he lives. If he dies, she is free to marry anyone she chooses. She will, of course, want to marry a believer and have the blessing of the Master. By now you know that I think she’ll be better off staying single. The Master, in my opinion, thinks so, too.

The Message (MSG)

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

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