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Job 39The Message (MSG)

39 1-4 “Do you know the month when mountain goats give birth?
    Have you ever watched a doe bear her fawn?
Do you know how many months she is pregnant?
    Do you know the season of her delivery,
    when she crouches down and drops her offspring?
Her young ones flourish and are soon on their own;
    they leave and don’t come back.

5-8 “Who do you think set the wild donkey free,
    opened the corral gates and let him go?
I gave him the whole wilderness to roam in,
    the rolling plains and wide-open places.
He laughs at his city cousins, who are harnessed and harried.
    He’s oblivious to the cries of teamsters.
He grazes freely through the hills,
    nibbling anything that’s green.

9-12 “Will the wild buffalo condescend to serve you,
    volunteer to spend the night in your barn?
Can you imagine hitching your plow to a buffalo
    and getting him to till your fields?
He’s hugely strong, yes, but could you trust him,
    would you dare turn the job over to him?
You wouldn’t for a minute depend on him, would you,
    to do what you said when you said it?

13-18 “The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—
    all those beautiful feathers, but useless!
She lays her eggs on the hard ground,
    leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather,
Not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked
    or trampled by some wild animal.
She’s negligent with her young, as if they weren’t even hers.
    She cares nothing about anything.
She wasn’t created very smart, that’s for sure,
    wasn’t given her share of good sense.
But when she runs, oh, how she runs,
    laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.

19-25 “Are you the one who gave the horse his prowess
    and adorned him with a shimmering mane?
Did you create him to prance proudly
    and strike terror with his royal snorts?
He paws the ground fiercely, eager and spirited,
    then charges into the fray.
He laughs at danger, fearless,
    doesn’t shy away from the sword.
The banging and clanging
    of quiver and lance don’t faze him.
He quivers with excitement, and at the trumpet blast
    races off at a gallop.
At the sound of the trumpet he neighs mightily,
    smelling the excitement of battle from a long way off,
    catching the rolling thunder of the war cries.

26-30 “Was it through your know-how that the hawk learned to fly,
    soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?
Did you command the eagle’s flight,
    and teach her to build her nest in the heights,
Perfectly at home on the high cliff face,
    invulnerable on pinnacle and crag?
From her perch she searches for prey,
    spies it at a great distance.
Her young gorge themselves on carrion;
    wherever there’s a roadkill, you’ll see her circling.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Job 40The Message (MSG)

40 1-2 God then confronted Job directly:

“Now what do you have to say for yourself?
    Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?”

Job Answers God

I’m Ready to Shut Up and Listen

3-5 Job answered:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.
    I should never have opened my mouth!
I’ve talked too much, way too much.
    I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

God’s Second Set of Questions

I Want Straight Answers

6-7 God addressed Job next from the eye of the storm, and this is what he said:

“I have some more questions for you,
    and I want straight answers.

8-14 “Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong?
    Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?
Do you have an arm like my arm?
    Can you shout in thunder the way I can?
Go ahead, show your stuff.
    Let’s see what you’re made of, what you can do.
Unleash your outrage.
    Target the arrogant and lay them flat.
Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees.
    Stop the wicked in their tracks—make mincemeat of them!
Dig a mass grave and dump them in it—
    faceless corpses in an unmarked grave.
I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you—
    you can surely save yourself with no help from me!

15-24 “Look at the land beast, Behemoth. I created him as well as you.
    Grazing on grass, docile as a cow—
Just look at the strength of his back,
    the powerful muscles of his belly.
His tail sways like a cedar in the wind;
    his huge legs are like beech trees.
His skeleton is made of steel,
    every bone in his body hard as steel.
Most magnificent of all my creatures,
    but I still lead him around like a lamb!
The grass-covered hills serve him meals,
    while field mice frolic in his shadow.
He takes afternoon naps under shade trees,
    cools himself in the reedy swamps,
Lazily cool in the leafy shadows
    as the breeze moves through the willows.
And when the river rages he doesn’t budge,
    stolid and unperturbed even when the Jordan goes wild.
But you’d never want him for a pet—
    you’d never be able to housebreak him!”

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Corinthians 13The Message (MSG)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Corinthians 14The Message (MSG)

Prayer Language

14 1-3 Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.

4-5 The one who prays using a private “prayer language” certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength. I want all of you to develop intimacies with God in prayer, but please don’t stop with that. Go on and proclaim his clear truth to others. It’s more important that everyone have access to the knowledge and love of God in language everyone understands than that you go off and cultivate God’s presence in a mysterious prayer language—unless, of course, there is someone who can interpret what you are saying for the benefit of all.

6-8 Think, friends: If I come to you and all I do is pray privately to God in a way only he can understand, what are you going to get out of that? If I don’t address you plainly with some insight or truth or proclamation or teaching, what help am I to you? If musical instruments—flutes, say, or harps—aren’t played so that each note is distinct and in tune, how will anyone be able to catch the melody and enjoy the music? If the trumpet call can’t be distinguished, will anyone show up for the battle?

9-12 So if you speak in a way no one can understand, what’s the point of opening your mouth? There are many languages in the world and they all mean something to someone. But if I don’t understand the language, it’s not going to do me much good. It’s no different with you. Since you’re so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?

13-17 So, when you pray in your private prayer language, don’t hoard the experience for yourself. Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy. If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays but my mind lies fallow, and all that intelligence is wasted. So what’s the solution? The answer is simple enough. Do both. I should be spiritually free and expressive as I pray, but I should also be thoughtful and mindful as I pray. I should sing with my spirit, and sing with my mind. If you give a blessing using your private prayer language, which no one else understands, how can some outsider who has just shown up and has no idea what’s going on know when to say “Amen”? Your blessing might be beautiful, but you have very effectively cut that person out of it.

18-19 I’m grateful to God for the gift of praying in tongues that he gives us for praising him, which leads to wonderful intimacies we enjoy with him. I enter into this as much or more than any of you. But when I’m in a church assembled for worship, I’d rather say five words that everyone can understand and learn from than say ten thousand that sound to others like gibberish.

20-25 To be perfectly frank, I’m getting exasperated with your infantile thinking. How long before you grow up and use your head—your adult head? It’s all right to have a childlike unfamiliarity with evil; a simple no is all that’s needed there. But there’s far more to saying yes to something. Only mature and well-exercised intelligence can save you from falling into gullibility. It’s written in Scripture that God said,

In strange tongues
    and from the mouths of strangers
I will preach to this people,
    but they’ll neither listen nor believe.

So where does it get you, all this speaking in tongues no one understands? It doesn’t help believers, and it only gives unbelievers something to gawk at. Plain truth-speaking, on the other hand, goes straight to the heart of believers and doesn’t get in the way of unbelievers. If you come together as a congregation and some unbelieving outsiders walk in on you as you’re all praying in tongues, unintelligible to each other and to them, won’t they assume you’ve taken leave of your senses and get out of there as fast as they can? But if some unbelieving outsiders walk in on a service where people are speaking out God’s truth, the plain words will bring them up against the truth and probe their hearts. Before you know it, they’re going to be on their faces before God, recognizing that God is among you.

26-33 So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. If prayers are offered in tongues, two or three’s the limit, and then only if someone is present who can interpret what you’re saying. Otherwise, keep it between God and yourself. And no more than two or three speakers at a meeting, with the rest of you listening and taking it to heart. Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all learn from each other. If you choose to speak, you’re also responsible for how and when you speak. When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; he brings us into harmony. This goes for all the churches—no exceptions.

34-36 Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God’s Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking. Do you—both women and men—imagine that you’re a sacred oracle determining what’s right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you?

37-38 If any one of you thinks God has something for you to say or has inspired you to do something, pay close attention to what I have written. This is the way the Master wants it. If you won’t play by these rules, God can’t use you. Sorry.

39-40 Three things, then, to sum this up: When you speak forth God’s truth, speak your heart out. Don’t tell people how they should or shouldn’t pray when they’re praying in tongues that you don’t understand. Be courteous and considerate in everything.

The Message (MSG)

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

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