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Proverbs 30The Message (MSG)

The Words of Agur Ben Yakeh

God? Who Needs Him?

30 1-2 The skeptic swore, “There is no God!
    No God!—I can do anything I want!
I’m more animal than human;
    so-called human intelligence escapes me.

3-4 “I flunked ‘wisdom.’
    I see no evidence of a holy God.
Has anyone ever seen Anyone
    climb into Heaven and take charge?
    grab the winds and control them?
    gather the rains in his bucket?
    stake out the ends of the earth?
Just tell me his name, tell me the names of his sons.
    Come on now—tell me!”

5-6 The believer replied, “Every promise of God proves true;
    he protects everyone who runs to him for help.
So don’t second-guess him;
    he might take you to task and show up your lies.”

7-9 And then he prayed, “God, I’m asking for two things
    before I die; don’t refuse me—
Banish lies from my lips
    and liars from my presence.
Give me enough food to live on,
    neither too much nor too little.
If I’m too full, I might get independent,
    saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’
If I’m poor, I might steal
    and dishonor the name of my God.”

10 Don’t blow the whistle on your fellow workers
    behind their backs;
They’ll accuse you of being underhanded,
    and then you’ll be the guilty one!

11 Don’t curse your father
    or fail to bless your mother.

12 Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable
    when you haven’t had a bath in weeks.

13 Don’t be stuck-up
    and think you’re better than everyone else.

14 Don’t be greedy,
    merciless and cruel as wolves,
Tearing into the poor and feasting on them,
    shredding the needy to pieces only to discard them.

15-16 A leech has twin daughters
    named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.”

Four Insatiables

Three things are never satisfied,
    no, there are four that never say, “That’s enough, thank you!”—

hell,
a barren womb,
a parched land,
a forest fire.

17 An eye that disdains a father
    and despises a mother—
that eye will be plucked out by wild vultures
    and consumed by young eagles.

Four Mysteries

18-19 Three things amaze me,
    no, four things I’ll never understand—

how an eagle flies so high in the sky,
how a snake glides over a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
why adolescents act the way they do.

20 Here’s how a prostitute operates:
    she has sex with her client,
Takes a bath,
    then asks, “Who’s next?”

Four Intolerables

21-23 Three things are too much for even the earth to bear,
    yes, four things shake its foundations—

when the janitor becomes the boss,
when a fool gets rich,
when a whore is voted “woman of the year,”
when a “girlfriend” replaces a faithful wife.

Four Small Wonders

24-28 There are four small creatures,
    wisest of the wise they are—

ants—frail as they are,
    get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots—vulnerable as they are,
    manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
    yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
    but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.

Four Dignitaries

29-31 There are three solemn dignitaries,
    four that are impressive in their bearing—

a lion, king of the beasts, deferring to none;
a rooster, proud and strutting;
a billy goat;
a head of state in stately procession.

32-33 If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself
    by offending people and making rude gestures,
Don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose.
    Churned milk turns into butter;
    riled emotions turn into fist fights.

The Message (MSG)

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

Proverbs 31The Message (MSG)

Speak Out for Justice

31 The words of King Lemuel,
    the strong advice his mother gave him:

2-3 “Oh, son of mine, what can you be thinking of!
    Child whom I bore! The son I dedicated to God!
Don’t dissipate your virility on fortune-hunting women,
    promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders.

4-7 “Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves,
    gulping wine and swilling beer,
Lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong,
    and the people who depend on them are hurt.
Use wine and beer only as sedatives,
    to kill the pain and dull the ache
Of the terminally ill,
    for whom life is a living death.

8-9 “Speak up for the people who have no voice,
    for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
    Stand up for the poor and destitute!”

Hymn to a Good Wife

10-31 A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 33The 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.

The Message (MSG)

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

Ephesians 1The Message (MSG)

1-2 I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus. I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

The God of Glory

3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

The Message (MSG)

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

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