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Psalm 33-34The Message (MSG)

33 1-3 Good people, cheer God!
    Right-living people sound best when praising.
Use guitars to reinforce your Hallelujahs!
    Play his praise on a grand piano!
Invent your own new song to him;
    give him a trumpet fanfare.

4-5 For God’s Word is solid to the core;
    everything he makes is sound inside and out.
He loves it when everything fits,
    when his world is in plumb-line true.
Earth is drenched
    in God’s affectionate satisfaction.

6-7 The skies were made by God’s command;
    he breathed the word and the stars popped out.
He scooped Sea into his jug,
    put Ocean in his keg.

8-9 Earth-creatures, bow before God;
    world-dwellers—down on your knees!
Here’s why: he spoke and there it was,
    in place the moment he said so.

10-12 God takes the wind out of Babel pretense,
    he shoots down the world’s power-schemes.
God’s plan for the world stands up,
    all his designs are made to last.
Blessed is the country with God for God;
    blessed are the people he’s put in his will.

13-15 From high in the skies God looks around,
    he sees all Adam’s brood.
From where he sits
    he overlooks all us earth-dwellers.
He has shaped each person in turn;
    now he watches everything we do.

16-17 No king succeeds with a big army alone,
    no warrior wins by brute strength.
Horsepower is not the answer;
    no one gets by on muscle alone.

18-19 Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him,
    the ones who are looking for his love.
He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times;
    in lean times he keeps body and soul together.

20-22 We’re depending on God;
    he’s everything we need.
What’s more, our hearts brim with joy
    since we’ve taken for our own his holy name.
Love us, God, with all you’ve got—
    that’s what we’re depending on.

A David Psalm, When He Outwitted Abimelech and Got Away

34 I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.

11 Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

12 Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

13 Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.

14 Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

15 God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.

16 God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.

17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.

20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.

21 The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.

22 God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 24The Message (MSG)

Paul States His Defense

24 1-4 Within five days, the Chief Priest Ananias arrived with a contingent of leaders, along with Tertullus, a trial lawyer. They presented the governor with their case against Paul. When Paul was called before the court, Tertullus spoke for the prosecution: “Most Honorable Felix, we are most grateful in all times and places for your wise and gentle rule. We are much aware that it is because of you and you alone that we enjoy all this peace and gain daily profit from your reforms. I’m not going to tire you out with a long speech. I beg your kind indulgence in listening to me. I’ll be quite brief.

5-8 “We’ve found this man time and again disturbing the peace, stirring up riots against Jews all over the world, the ringleader of a seditious sect called Nazarenes. He’s a real bad apple, I must say. We caught him trying to defile our holy Temple and arrested him. You’ll be able to verify all these accusations when you examine him yourself.”

The Jews joined in: “Hear, hear! That’s right!”

10-13 The governor motioned to Paul that it was now his turn. Paul said, “I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you’ve been in judging us all these years. I’ve been back in the country only twelve days—you can check out these dates easily enough. I came with the express purpose of worshiping in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and I’ve been minding my own business the whole time. Nobody can say they saw me arguing in the Temple or working up a crowd in the streets. Not one of their charges can be backed up with evidence or witnesses.

14-15 “But I do freely admit this: In regard to the Way, which they malign as a dead-end street, I serve and worship the very same God served and worshiped by all our ancestors and embrace everything written in all our Scriptures. And I admit to living in hopeful anticipation that God will raise the dead, both the good and the bad. If that’s my crime, my accusers are just as guilty as I am.

16-19 “Believe me, I do my level best to keep a clear conscience before God and my neighbors in everything I do. I’ve been out of the country for a number of years and now I’m back. While I was away, I took up a collection for the poor and brought that with me, along with offerings for the Temple. It was while making those offerings that they found me quietly at my prayers in the Temple. There was no crowd, there was no disturbance. It was some Jews from around Ephesus who started all this trouble. And you’ll notice they’re not here today. They’re cowards, too cowardly to accuse me in front of you.

20-21 “So ask these others what crime they’ve caught me in. Don’t let them hide behind this smooth-talking Tertullus. The only thing they have on me is that one sentence I shouted out in the council: ‘It’s because I believe in the resurrection that I’ve been hauled into this court!’ Does that sound to you like grounds for a criminal case?”

22-23 Felix shilly-shallied. He knew far more about the Way than he let on, and could have settled the case then and there. But uncertain of his best move politically, he played for time. “When Captain Lysias comes down, I’ll decide your case.” He gave orders to the centurion to keep Paul in custody, but to more or less give him the run of the place and not prevent his friends from helping him.

24-26 A few days later Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ. As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him. “That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient.” At the same time he was secretly hoping that Paul would offer him a substantial bribe. These conversations were repeated frequently.

27 After two years of this, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus. Still playing up to the Jews and ignoring justice, Felix left Paul in prison.

The Message (MSG)

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

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