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Proverbs 4The Message (MSG)

Your Life Is at Stake

1-2 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice;
    sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live.
I’m giving you good counsel;
    don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.

3-9 When I was a boy at my father’s knee,
    the pride and joy of my mother,
He would sit me down and drill me:
    “Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live!
Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding!
    Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch!
Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life;
    love her—she keeps her eye on you.
Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!
    Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it;
    never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.
She’ll garland your life with grace,
    she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”

10-15 Dear friend, take my advice;
    it will add years to your life.
I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,
    I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road.
I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys,
    or wasting time making wrong turns.
Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip.
    Guard it well—your life is at stake!
Don’t take Wicked Bypass;
    don’t so much as set foot on that road.
Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.
    Make a detour and be on your way.

16-17 Evil people are restless
    unless they’re making trouble;
They can’t get a good night’s sleep
    unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody.
Perversity is their food and drink,
    violence their drug of choice.

18-19 The ways of right-living people glow with light;
    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
    travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

Learn It by Heart

20-22 Dear friend, listen well to my words;
    tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

The Message (MSG)

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

Proverbs 5The Message (MSG)

Nothing but Sin and Bones

1-2 Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom;
    listen very closely to the way I see it.
Then you’ll acquire a taste for good sense;
    what I tell you will keep you out of trouble.

3-6 The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
    her soft words are oh so smooth.
But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth,
    a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.
She’s dancing down the primrose path to Death;
    she’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her.
She hasn’t a clue about Real Life,
    about who she is or where she’s going.

7-14 So, my friend, listen closely;
    don’t treat my words casually.
Keep your distance from such a woman;
    absolutely stay out of her neighborhood.
You don’t want to squander your wonderful life,
    to waste your precious life among the hardhearted.
Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you?
    Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you?
You don’t want to end your life full of regrets,
    nothing but sin and bones,
Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me?
    Why did I reject a disciplined life?
Why didn’t I listen to my mentors,
    or take my teachers seriously?
My life is ruined!
    I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!”

Never Take Love for Granted

15-16 Do you know the saying, “Drink from your own rain barrel,
    draw water from your own spring-fed well”?
It’s true. Otherwise, you may one day come home
    and find your barrel empty and your well polluted.

17-20 Your spring water is for you and you only,
    not to be passed around among strangers.
Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!
    Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose—
    don’t ever quit taking delight in her body.
    Never take her love for granted!
Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore?
    for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?

21-23 Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make;
    he’s aware of every step you take.
The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
    you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
    your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.

The Message (MSG)

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

Proverbs 6The Message (MSG)

Like a Deer from the Hunter

1-5 Dear friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor
    or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger,
If you’ve impulsively promised the shirt off your back
    and now find yourself shivering out in the cold,
Friend, don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess.
    You’re in that man’s clutches!
    Go, put on a long face; act desperate.
Don’t procrastinate—
    there’s no time to lose.
Run like a deer from the hunter,
    fly like a bird from the trapper!

A Lesson from the Ant

6-11 You lazy fool, look at an ant.
    Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
    All summer it stores up food;
    at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
    How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
    poverty your permanent houseguest!

Always Cooking Up Something Nasty

12-15 Riffraff and rascals
    talk out of both sides of their mouths.
They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,
    they cross their fingers behind their backs.
Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,
    always stirring up trouble.
Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,
    a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.

Seven Things God Hates

16-19 Here are six things God hates,
    and one more that he loathes with a passion:

eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.

Warning on Adultery

20-23 Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
    don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
    wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
    whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
    when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
    good teaching is a light,
    moral discipline is a life path.

24-35 They’ll protect you from wanton women,
    from the seductive talk of some temptress.
Don’t lustfully fantasize on her beauty,
    nor be taken in by her bedroom eyes.
You can buy an hour with a whore for a loaf of bread,
    but a wanton woman may well eat you alive.
Can you build a fire in your lap
    and not burn your pants?
Can you walk barefoot on hot coals
    and not get blisters?
It’s the same when you have sex with your neighbor’s wife:
    Touch her and you’ll pay for it. No excuses.
Hunger is no excuse
    for a thief to steal;
When he’s caught he has to pay it back,
    even if he has to put his whole house in hock.
Adultery is a brainless act,
    soul-destroying, self-destructive;
Expect a bloody nose, a black eye,
    and a reputation ruined for good.
For jealousy detonates rage in a cheated husband;
    wild for revenge, he won’t make allowances.
Nothing you say or pay will make it all right;
    neither bribes nor reason will satisfy him.

The Message (MSG)

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

Romans 8The Message (MSG)

The Solution Is Life on God’s Terms

1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

The Message (MSG)

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

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