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Psalm 116-118

Psalm 116

I love the Eternal; for not only does He hear
    my voice, my pleas for mercy,
But He leaned down when I was in trouble and brought His ear close to me.
    So as long as I have breath, I will call on Him.
Once I was wound in the wrappings of death;
    the terror of dying and the grave had a grip on me;
    I could not get away, for I was entombed in distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Eternal:
    “O Eternal One—I am begging You—save me!”

The Eternal is full of grace and naturally just;
    our God is compassionate and merciful.
And the Eternal watches over the naive.
    Whenever I was knocked down, He reached down and saved me.
O my soul! Return and relax. Come to your true rest,
    for the Eternal has showered you with His favor.

God, You alone rescued my soul from the grips of death,
    my eyes from weeping,
    and my feet from slipping.
I will come before the Eternal
    as long as I journey in the land of the living.
10 I believed Your promise; therefore I spoke,
    “I am in deep trouble.”
11 In my confusion I blurted out,
    “All people are liars!”

12 How will I pay back the Eternal
    for all His graciousness toward me?
13 I will raise the cup of deliverance
    and call out the name of the Eternal.
14 I will fulfill the promises I made to Him
    here as a witness to all His people.

15 Precious in the eyes of the Eternal
    are the deaths of those who follow after Him.
16 O Eternal One, You know I am Your servant.
    I am Your servant, a child of Your maidservant, devoted to You;
    You have cut me loose from the chains of death that bind me.
17 And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude
    and call on the name of the Eternal.
18 I will fulfill the promises I made to Him
    here as a witness to all His people
19 In the courts of the Eternal’s temple,
    among the people of God’s city, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Eternal!

Psalm 117

Praise the Eternal, all nations.
    Raise your voices, all people.[a]
For His unfailing love is great, and it is intended for us,
    and His faithfulness to His promises knows no end.
Praise the Eternal!

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Eternal because He is always good.
    He never ceases to be loving and kind.

Let the people of Israel proclaim:
    “He never ceases to be loving and kind.”
Let the priests of Aaron’s line proclaim:
    “He never ceases to be loving and kind.”
Let the people who fear the Eternal proclaim:
    “He never ceases to be loving and kind.”

When trouble surrounded me, I cried out to the Eternal;
    He answered me and brought me to a wide, open space.
The Eternal is with me,
    so I will not be afraid of anything.
    If God is on my side, how can anyone hurt me?
The Eternal is on my side, a champion for my cause;
    so when I look at those who hate me, victory will be in sight.
It is better to put your faith in the Eternal for your security
    than to trust in people.
It is better to put your faith in Him for your security
    than to trust in princes.

10 All these nations surround me, squeezing me from all sides;
    with the name of the Eternal, I will destroy them.
11 They rose up against me, squeezed me from all sides, yes, from all sides;
    with the name of the Eternal, I will destroy them.
12 They surrounded me like a swarm of bees;
    they were destroyed quickly and thoroughly—
Flaring up like a pile of thorns—
    with the name of the Eternal, I will destroy them.
13 I was pushed back, attacked so that I was about to fall,
    but the Eternal was there to help me keep my balance.
14 He is my strength, and He is the reason I sing;
    He has been there to save me in every situation.

15 In the tents of the righteous soldiers of God,
    there are shouts of joy and victory. They sing:
    “The right hand of the Eternal has shown His power.
16 The mighty arm of the Eternal is raised in victory;
    the right hand of His has shown His power.”
17 I will not die. I will live.
    I will live to tell about all the Eternal has done.
18 The Eternal has taught me many lessons;
    He has been strict and severe,
    but even in His discipline, He has not allowed me to die.

Early Christians found in the words of this psalm a wonderful way of describing the significance of Jesus. He was the rejected stone whom God made the cornerstone of a brand-new temple (verses 22–24).

19 Open wide to me the gates of justice
    so that I may walk through them
    and offer praise and worship to the Eternal.

20 This is the gate of the Eternal;
    the righteous children of God will go through it.

21 I will praise You because You answered me when I was in trouble.
    You have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
23 This is the work of the Eternal,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.[b]
24 This is the day the Eternal God has made;
    let us celebrate and be happy today.
25 O Eternal One, save us, we beg You.
    O Eternal One, we beg You, bring us success!

26 He who comes in the name of the Eternal will be blessed;[c]
    we have blessed You from the house of the Eternal.
27 The Eternal is the True God;
    He shines His light on us.
Let the feast begin.
    Bring the sacrifice, and tie it to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I give You thanks;
    You are my God, and I praise You.
29 Give thanks to our Eternal Lord; He is always good.
    He never ceases to be loving and kind.

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1 Corinthians 7:1-19

Salvation is a costly proposition. You and your body belong to God, so use your body for the work of God, not for selfish pursuits.

Now to the topics you raised in your last letter. Some have said, “It is better for a man to abstain from having sex with his wife.” Well, I disagree. Because of our tendency to embrace immoralities, each man should feel free to join together in sexual intimacy with his own wife, and each woman should join with her own husband. Husbands and wives have reciprocal duties. Each husband has the responsibility to meet his wife’s sexual desires, and each wife should do the same for her husband. In marriage neither the husband nor the wife should act as if his or her body is private property—your bodies now belong to one another, and together they are whole. So do not withhold sex from one another, unless both of you have agreed to devote a certain period of time to prayer. When the agreed time is over, come together again so that Satan will not tempt you when you are short on self-control. I am trying to encourage you and give you some wise counsel, so don’t take this advice as a command. I wish that all of you could live as I do, unmarried. But the truth is all people are different, each gifted by God in various and dissimilar ways.

Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians about marriage stands in contrast to the message in Genesis 2, where God declares that it is not good to be alone. There He sculpts woman from the rib of the man: she was molded so that man and woman fit perfectly together. And God blesses marriage as a good and beautiful thing.

So is Paul contradicting the declaration of the Creator God when he suggests that it might be better for some people to choose an unmarried life? Absolutely not! Marriage is a sacred union, but it is possible that many will be able to serve God more fully if they do not have the limitations that come with marriage and family. Paul shares his advice humbly based on his own experience. The tension between the beauty of marriage and the freedom from marital obligations is one we should all explore. As we come to our own conclusions, we must also carry them humbly, remembering that one is not better than the other.

To those who are unmarried or widowed, here’s my advice: it is a good thing to stay single as I do. If they do not have self-control, they should go ahead and get married. It is much better to marry than to be obsessed by sexual urges.

10 To those who are married, here’s my command (to be clear, this isn’t merely my opinion; it comes from the teaching of the Lord Jesus): it is not right for a wife to leave her husband. 11 If she does, she must either remain single or reconcile with her husband, but she should not marry someone else. Likewise, the husband should not divorce his wife.

12-13 To everyone else, here’s my counsel (this is not a direct command from the Lord; it is my opinion): if a brother has a wife who does not believe Jesus’ teachings and the truth of His resurrection, he is to stay with her as long as she is willing to live with him. The same is true for any sister; you should not leave your husband even if he has no allegiance to Jesus. 14 Here’s the reason: An unbelieving husband is consecrated by that union—touched by the grace of God through his believing wife—and the same is true when the husband is a man of faith and he’s wed to an unbelieving wife. His wife is consecrated through their union. If this weren’t so, your children wouldn’t be pure; but as it is when faith enters in, God sets apart these children to be used uniquely for His purposes. 15 If the unbelieving spouse decides the marriage is over, then let him or her go; the believing partner is freed from the marital vows because God has called you to peace. 16 Remember that anything is possible, so the life you lead and the love you show under this strain may be what finally liberates your partner.

17 So here is my instruction to all the churches: each must live with the gifts the Lord Jesus grants you and with the call God offers you. 18 When you heard the voice of Jesus, what were your circumstances? Were you living as a circumcised Jew? If so, then don’t try to undo your circumcision. Were you living as if you were an uncircumcised outsider? If so, you don’t need to become a Jew. 19 You see, whether you are circumcised or not—these outward signs aren’t the issue—the way you live out the commands of God is what really matters.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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