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Isaiah 57The Message (MSG)

Never Tired of Trying New Religions

57 1-2 Meanwhile, right-living people die
    and no one gives them a thought.
God-fearing people are carted off
    and no one even notices.
The right-living people are out of their misery,
    they’re finally at rest.
They lived well and with dignity
    and now they’re finally at peace.

3-10 “But you, children of a witch, come here!
    Sons of a slut, daughters of a whore.
What business do you have taunting,
    sneering, and sticking out your tongue?
Do you have any idea what wretches you’ve turned out to be?
    A race of rebels, a generation of liars.
You satisfy your lust any place you find some shade
    and fornicate at whim.
You kill your children at any convenient spot—
    any cave or crevasse will do.
You take stones from the creek
    and set up your sex-and-religion shrines.
You’ve chosen your fate.
    Your worship will be your doom.
You’ve climbed a high mountain
    to practice your foul sex-and-death religion.
Behind closed doors
    you assemble your precious gods and goddesses.
Deserting me, you’ve gone all out, stripped down
    and made your bed your place of worship.
You’ve climbed into bed with the ‘sacred’ whores
    and loved every minute of it,
    adoring every curve of their naked bodies.
You anoint your king-god with ointments
    and lavish perfumes on yourselves.
You send scouts to search out the latest in religion,
    send them all the way to hell and back.
You wear yourselves out trying the new and the different,
    and never see what a waste it all is.
You’ve always found strength for the latest fad,
    never got tired of trying new religions.

11-13 “Who talked you into the pursuit of this nonsense,
    leaving me high and dry,
    forgetting you ever knew me?
Because I don’t yell and make a scene
    do you think I don’t exist?
I’ll go over, detail by detail, all your ‘righteous’ attempts at religion,
    and expose the absurdity of it all.
Go ahead, cry for help to your collection of no-gods:
    A good wind will blow them away.
    They’re smoke, nothing but smoke.

“But anyone who runs to me for help
    will inherit the land,
    will end up owning my holy mountain!”

14 Someone says: “Build, build! Make a road!
    Clear the way, remove the rocks
    from the road my people will travel.”

15-21 A Message from the high and towering God,
    who lives in Eternity,
    whose name is Holy:
“I live in the high and holy places,
    but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed,
And what I do is put new spirit in them,
    get them up and on their feet again.
For I’m not going to haul people into court endlessly,
    I’m not going to be angry forever.
Otherwise, people would lose heart.
    These souls I created would tire out and give up.
I was angry, good and angry, because of Israel’s sins.
    I struck him hard and turned away in anger,
    while he kept at his stubborn, willful ways.
When I looked again and saw what he was doing,
    I decided to heal him, lead him, and comfort him,
    creating a new language of praise for the mourners.
Peace to the far-off, peace to the near-at-hand,” says God
    “and yes, I will heal them.
But the wicked are storm-battered seas
    that can’t quiet down.
    The waves stir up garbage and mud.
There’s no peace,” God says, “for the wicked.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 58The Message (MSG)

Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground

58 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
    Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
    face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
    and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
    law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
    and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
    ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
    Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’

3-5 “Well, here’s why:

“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
    You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
    You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
    won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
    and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
    a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
    and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
    The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
    You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places

9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
    quit blaming victims,
    quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
    and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
    a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
    rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
    restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
    make the community livable again.

13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
    and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
    God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
    making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
    Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
    Yes! God says so!

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 59The Message (MSG)

We Long for Light but Sink into Darkness

59 1-8 Look! Listen!
    God’s arm is not amputated—he can still save.
    God’s ears are not stopped up—he can still hear.
There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you.
    Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God.
    Your sins got between you so that he doesn’t hear.
Your hands are drenched in blood,
    your fingers dripping with guilt,
Your lips smeared with lies,
    your tongue swollen from muttering obscenities.
No one speaks up for the right,
    no one deals fairly.
They trust in illusion, they tell lies,
    they get pregnant with mischief and have sin-babies.
They hatch snake eggs and weave spider webs.
    Eat an egg and die; break an egg and get a snake!
The spider webs are no good for shirts or shawls.
    No one can wear these weavings!
They weave wickedness,
    they hatch violence.
They compete in the race to do evil
    and run to be the first to murder.
They plan and plot evil, think and breathe evil,
    and leave a trail of wrecked lives behind them.
They know nothing about peace
    and less than nothing about justice.
They make tortuously twisted roads.
    No peace for the wretch who walks down those roads!

9-11 Which means that we’re a far cry from fair dealing,
    and we’re not even close to right living.
We long for light but sink into darkness,
    long for brightness but stumble through the night.
Like the blind, we inch along a wall,
    groping eyeless in the dark.
We shuffle our way in broad daylight,
    like the dead, but somehow walking.
We’re no better off than bears, groaning,
    and no worse off than doves, moaning.
We look for justice—not a sign of it;
    for salvation—not so much as a hint.

12-15 Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God,
    our sins stand up and accuse us.
Our wrongdoings stare us down;
    we know in detail what we’ve done:
Mocking and denying God,
    not following our God,
Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition,
    pregnant with lies, muttering malice.
Justice is beaten back,
    Righteousness is banished to the sidelines,
Truth staggers down the street,
    Honesty is nowhere to be found,
Good is missing in action.
    Anyone renouncing evil is beaten and robbed.

15-19 God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon—
    so much evil and no sign of Justice.
He couldn’t believe what he saw:
    not a soul around to correct this awful situation.
So he did it himself, took on the work of Salvation,
    fueled by his own Righteousness.
He dressed in Righteousness, put it on like a suit of armor,
    with Salvation on his head like a helmet,
Put on Judgment like an overcoat,
    and threw a cloak of Passion across his shoulders.
He’ll make everyone pay for what they’ve done:
    fury for his foes, just deserts for his enemies.
    Even the far-off islands will get paid off in full.
In the west they’ll fear the name of God,
    in the east they’ll fear the glory of God,
For he’ll arrive like a river in flood stage,
    whipped to a torrent by the wind of God.

20 “I’ll arrive in Zion as Redeemer,
    to those in Jacob who leave their sins.”
        God’s Decree.

21 “As for me,” God says, “this is my covenant with them: My Spirit that I’ve placed upon you and the words that I’ve given you to speak, they’re not going to leave your mouths nor the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your grandchildren. You will keep repeating these words and won’t ever stop.” God’s orders.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 103The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

103 1-2 O my soul, bless God.
    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing!

3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
    He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
    He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
    He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said.

19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
    he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
    ready and able to fly at his bidding,
    quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
    alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
    everything and everyone made by God.

And you, O my soul, bless God!

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Peter 3The Message (MSG)

In the Last Days

1-2 My dear friends, this is now the second time I’ve written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention. Keep in mind what the holy prophets said, and the command of our Master and Savior that was passed on by your apostles.

3-4 First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock, “So what’s happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.”

5-7 They conveniently forget that long ago all the galaxies and this very planet were brought into existence out of watery chaos by God’s word. Then God’s word brought the chaos back in a flood that destroyed the world. The current galaxies and earth are fuel for the final fire. God is poised, ready to speak his word again, ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics.

The Day the Sky Will Collapse

8-9 Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.

10 But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.

11-13 Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.

14-16 So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace. Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation. Our good brother Paul, who was given much wisdom in these matters, refers to this in all his letters, and has written you essentially the same thing. Some things Paul writes are difficult to understand. Irresponsible people who don’t know what they are talking about twist them every which way. They do it to the rest of the Scriptures, too, destroying themselves as they do it.

17-18 But you, friends, are well-warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers. Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes!

The Message (MSG)

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

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