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Daily Bible Reading – MSG

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Today’s Bible Reading

May 20

Acts 26:19-32; 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10; Psalm 49 MSG

Acts 26

1 Agrippa spoke directly to Paul: "Go ahead – tell us about yourself." 2 "I can't think of anyone, King Agrippa, before whom I'd rather be answering all these Jewish accusations than you, 3 knowing how well you are acquainted with Jewish ways and all our family quarrels. 4 "From the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem. 5 Practically every Jew in town who watched me grow up – and if they were willing to stick their necks out they'd tell you in person – knows that I lived as a strict Pharisee, the most demanding branch of our religion. 6 It's because I believed it and took it seriously, 7 committed myself heart and soul to what God promised my ancestors – the identical hope, mind you, that the twelve tribes have lived for night and day all these centuries – it's because I have held on to this tested and tried hope that I'm being called on the carpet by the Jews. They should be the ones standing trial here, not me! 8 For the life of me, I can't see why it's a criminal offense to believe that God raises the dead. 9 "I admit that I didn't always hold to this position. For a time I thought it was my duty to oppose this Jesus of Nazareth with all my might. 10 Backed with the full authority of the high priests, I threw these believers – I had no idea they were God's people! – into the Jerusalem jail right and left, and whenever it came to a vote, I voted for their execution. 11 I stormed through their meeting places, bullying them into cursing Jesus, a one-man terror obsessed with obliterating these people. And then I started on the towns outside Jerusalem. 12 "One day on my way to Damascus, armed as always with papers from the high priests authorizing my action, 13 right in the middle of the day a blaze of light, light outshining the sun, poured out of the sky on me and my companions. Oh, King, it was so bright! 14 We fell flat on our faces. Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: 'Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?' 15 "I said, 'Who are you, Master?' 16 But now, up on your feet – I have a job for you. I've handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what's happened today, and to what I am going to show you. 17 "'I'm sending you off 18 to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I'm sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.' 19 "What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn't just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. 20 I started preaching this life-change – this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life – right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world. 21 "It's because of this 'whole world' dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. They want to keep God for themselves. 22 But God has stood by me, just as he promised, and I'm standing here saying what I've been saying to anyone, whether king or child, who will listen. And everything I'm saying is completely in line with what the prophets and Moses said would happen: 23 One, the Messiah must die; two, raised from the dead, he would be the first rays of God's daylight shining on people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing." 24 That was too much for Festus. He interrupted with a shout: "Paul, you're crazy! You've read too many books, spent too much time staring off into space! Get a grip on yourself, get back in the real world!" 25 But Paul stood his ground. "With all respect, Festus, Your Honor, I'm not crazy. I'm both accurate and sane in what I'm saying. 26 The King knows what I'm talking about. I'm sure that nothing of what I've said sounds crazy to him. He's known all about it for a long time. You must realize that this wasn't done behind the scenes. 27 You believe the prophets, don't you, King Agrippa? Don't answer that – I know you believe." 28 But Agrippa did answer: "Keep this up much longer and you'll make a Christian out of me!" 29 Paul, still in chains, said, "That's what I'm praying for, whether now or later, and not only you but everyone listening today, to become like me – except, of course, for this prison jewelry!" 30 The king and the governor, along with Bernice and their advisors, got up 31 and went into the next room to talk over what they had heard. They quickly agreed on Paul's innocence, saying, "There's nothing in this man deserving prison, let alone death." 32 Agrippa told Festus, "He could be set free right now if he hadn't requested the hearing before Caesar."

1 Samuel 1

1 There once was a man who lived in Ramathaim. He was descended from the old Zuph family in the Ephraim hills. His name was Elkanah. (He was connected with the Zuphs from Ephraim through his father Jeroham, his grandfather Elihu, and his great-grandfather Tohu.) 2 He had two wives. The first was Hannah; the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children; Hannah did not. 3 Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God there. 4 When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, 5 but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. 6 But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. 7 This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite. 8 Her husband Elkanah said, "Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren't you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?" 9 So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God's Temple in the customary seat. 10 Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried – inconsolably. 11 Then she made a vow: Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, If you'll take a good, hard look at my pain, If you'll quit neglecting me and go into action for me By giving me a son, I'll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I'll set him apart for a life of holy discipline. 12 It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. 14 He approached her and said, "You're drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!" 15 Hannah said, "Oh no, sir – please! I'm a woman hard used. I haven't been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I've been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. 16 Don't for a minute think I'm a bad woman. It's because I'm so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I've stayed here so long." 17 Eli answered her, "Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him." 18 "Think well of me – and pray for me!" she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant. 19 Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked. Dedicating the Child to God 20 Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, "I asked God for him." 21 When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow, 22 Hannah didn't go. She told her husband, "After the child is weaned, I'll bring him myself and present him before God – and that's where he'll stay, for good." 23 Elkanah said to his wife, "Do what you think is best. Stay home until you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!" 24 Then she took him up to Shiloh, bringing also the makings of a generous sacrificial meal – a prize bull, flour, and wine. The child was so young to be sent off! 25 They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. 26 Hannah said, "Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I'm the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? 27 I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. 28 And now I have dedicated him to God. He's dedicated to God for life." Then and there, they worshiped God.

1 Samuel 2:1-10

1 Hannah prayed: I'm bursting with God-news! I'm walking on air. I'm laughing at my rivals. I'm dancing my salvation. 2 Nothing and no one is holy like God, no rock mountain like our God. 3 Don't dare talk pretentiously – not a word of boasting, ever! For God knows what's going on. He takes the measure of everything that happens. 4 The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces, while the weak are infused with fresh strength. 5 The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts, while the hungry are getting second helpings. The barren woman has a houseful of children, while the mother of many is bereft. 6 God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up. 7 God brings poverty and God brings wealth; he lowers, he also lifts up. 8 He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives – a place in the sun! For the very structures of earth are God's; he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation. 9 He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step, but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark. No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle! 10 God's enemies will be blasted out of the sky, crashed in a heap and burned. God will set things right all over the earth, he'll give strength to his king, he'll set his anointed on top of the world!

Psalm 49:1-23

1 Listen, everyone, listen – earth-dwellers, don't miss this. 2 All you haves and have-nots, All together now: listen. 3 I set plainspoken wisdom before you, my heart-seasoned understandings of life. 4 I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise, I solve life's riddle with the help of a harp. 5 So why should I fear in bad times, hemmed in by enemy malice, 6 Shoved around by bullies, demeaned by the arrogant rich? 7 Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 8 The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn't guarantee 9 Life forever, or insurance against the Black Hole. 10 Anyone can see that the brightest and best die, wiped out right along with fools and dunces. 11 They leave all their prowess behind, move into their new home, The Coffin, The cemetery their permanent address. And to think they named counties after themselves! 12 We aren't immortal. We don't last long. Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die. 13 This is what happens to those who live for the moment, who only look out for themselves: 14 Death herds them like sheep straight to hell; they disappear down the gullet of the grave; They waste away to nothing – nothing left but a marker in a cemetery. 15 But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death, he reaches down and grabs me. 16 So don't be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune. 17 They can't take it with them; fame and fortune all get left behind. 18 Just when they think they've arrived and folks praise them because they've made good, 19 They enter the family burial plot where they'll never see sunshine again. 20 We aren't immortal. We don't last long. Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

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