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Ecclesiastes 10The Message (MSG)

10 Dead flies in perfume make it stink,
And a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom.

Wise thinking leads to right living;
Stupid thinking leads to wrong living.

Fools on the road have no sense of direction.
The way they walk tells the story: “There goes the fool again!”

If a ruler loses his temper against you, don’t panic;
A calm disposition quiets intemperate rage.

5-7 Here’s a piece of bad business I’ve seen on this earth,
An error that can be blamed on whoever is in charge:
Immaturity is given a place of prominence,
While maturity is made to take a backseat.
I’ve seen unproven upstarts riding in style,
While experienced veterans are put out to pasture.

Caution: The trap you set might catch you.
Warning: Your accomplice in crime might double-cross you.

Safety first: Quarrying stones is dangerous.
Be alert: Felling trees is hazardous.

10 Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work;
Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle.

11 If the snake bites before it’s been charmed,
What’s the point in then sending for the charmer?

12-13 The words of a wise person are gracious.
The talk of a fool self-destructs—
He starts out talking nonsense
And ends up spouting insanity and evil.

14 Fools talk way too much,
Chattering stuff they know nothing about.

15 A decent day’s work so fatigues fools
That they can’t find their way back to town.

16-17 Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup,
And whose princes party all night.
Lucky the land whose king is mature,
Where the princes behave themselves
And don’t drink themselves silly.

18 A shiftless man lives in a tumbledown shack;
    A lazy woman ends up with a leaky roof.

19 Laughter and bread go together,
And wine gives sparkle to life—
But it’s money that makes the world go around.

20 Don’t bad-mouth your leaders, not even under your breath,
And don’t abuse your betters, even in the privacy of your home.
Loose talk has a way of getting picked up and spread around.
Little birds drop the crumbs of your gossip far and wide.

The Message (MSG)

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

Ecclesiastes 11The Message (MSG)

11 Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.
Charity yields high returns.

Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.

3-4 When the clouds are full of water, it rains.
When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.
Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.
Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.

Just as you’ll never understand
    the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,
So you’ll never understand
    the mystery at work in all that God does.

Go to work in the morning
    and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.
You never know from moment to moment
    how your work will turn out in the end.

Before the Years Take Their Toll

7-8 Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

You who are young, make the most of your youth.
Relish your youthful vigor.
Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.

10 Live footloose and fancy-free—
You won’t be young forever.
Youth lasts about as long as smoke.

The Message (MSG)

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

Ecclesiastes 12The Message (MSG)

12 1-2 Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,
Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,
Before your vision dims and the world blurs
And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

3-5 In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.
Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.
The shades are pulled down on the world.
You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.
The hum of the household fades away.
You are wakened now by bird-song.
Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.
Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.
Your hair turns apple-blossom white,
Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.
Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,
While your friends make plans for your funeral.

6-7 Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.
Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.
The body is put back in the same ground it came from.
The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke.
The Quester says that everything’s smoke.

The Final Word

9-10 Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words and write the plain truth.

11 The words of the wise prod us to live well.
They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.
They are given by God, the one Shepherd.

12-13 But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:

Fear God.
Do what he tells you.

14 And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 94The Message (MSG)

94 1-2 God, put an end to evil;
    avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
    throw the book at the arrogant.

3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder—
    how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
    and crow about their crimes!

5-7 They walk all over your people, God,
    exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
    if they can’t use them, they kill them.
They think, “God isn’t looking,
    Jacob’s God is out to lunch.”

8-11 Well, think again, you idiots,
    fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear,
    Eye-Shaper doesn’t see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn’t correct,
    the teacher of Adam doesn’t know?
God knows, all right—
    knows your stupidity,
    sees your shallowness.

12-15 How blessed the man you train, God,
    the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
    while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
    never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
    and every good heart put right.

16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
    Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
    I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
    your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
    you calmed me down and cheered me up.

20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
    Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
    plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
    God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
    for their evil ways he wiped them out,
    our God cleaned them out for good.

The Message (MSG)

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

Ephesians 5The Message (MSG)

Wake Up from Your Sleep

1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

3-4 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

6-7 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.

8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

11-16 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

18-20 Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

Relationships

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

The Message (MSG)

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

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