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Daily Bible Reading – MSG

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Today’s Bible Reading

May 17

Acts 24:10-27; Judges 21; Psalm 46 MSG

Acts 24:10-36

10 The governor motioned to Paul that it was now his turn. Paul said, "I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you've been in judging us all these years. 11 I've been back in the country only twelve days – you can check out these dates easily enough. I came with the express purpose of worshiping in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and I've been minding my own business the whole time. 12 Nobody can say they saw me arguing in the Temple or working up a crowd in the streets. 13 Not one of their charges can be backed up with evidence or witnesses. 14 "But I do freely admit this: In regard to the Way, which they malign as a dead-end street, I serve and worship the very same God served and worshiped by all our ancestors and embrace everything written in all our Scriptures. 15 And I admit to living in hopeful anticipation that God will raise the dead, both the good and the bad. If that's my crime, my accusers are just as guilty as I am. 16 "Believe me, I do my level best to keep a clear conscience before God and my neighbors in everything I do. 17 I've been out of the country for a number of years and now I'm back. While I was away, I took up a collection for the poor and brought that with me, along with offerings for the Temple. 18 It was while making those offerings that they found me quietly at my prayers in the Temple. There was no crowd, there was no disturbance. 19 It was some Jews from around Ephesus who started all this trouble. And you'll notice they're not here today. They're cowards, too cowardly to accuse me in front of you. 20 "So ask these others what crime they've caught me in. Don't let them hide behind this smooth-talking Tertullus. 21 The only thing they have on me is that one sentence I shouted out in the council: 'It's because I believe in the resurrection that I've been hauled into this court!' Does that sound to you like grounds for a criminal case?" 22 Felix shilly-shallied. He knew far more about the Way than he let on, and could have settled the case then and there. But uncertain of his best move politically, he played for time. "When Captain Lysias comes down, I'll decide your case." 23 He gave orders to the centurion to keep Paul in custody, but to more or less give him the run of the place and not prevent his friends from helping him. 24 A few days later Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ. 25 As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him. "That's enough for today. I'll call you back when it's convenient." 26 At the same time he was secretly hoping that Paul would offer him a substantial bribe. These conversations were repeated frequently. 27 After two years of this, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus. Still playing up to the Jews and ignoring justice, Felix left Paul in prison.

Judges 21

1 Back at Mizpah the men of Israel had taken an oath: "No man among us will give his daughter to a Benjaminite in marriage." 2 Now, back in Bethel, the people sat in the presence of God until evening. They cried loudly; there was widespread lamentation. 3 They said, "Why, O God, God of Israel, has this happened? Why do we find ourselves today missing one whole tribe from Israel?" 4 Early the next morning, the people got busy and built an altar. They sacrificed Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. 5 Then the Israelites said, "Who from all the tribes of Israel didn't show up as we gathered in the presence of God?" For they had all taken a sacred oath that anyone who had not gathered in the presence of God at Mizpah had to be put to death. 6 But the People of Israel were feeling sorry for Benjamin, their brothers. They said, "Today, one tribe is cut off from Israel. 7 How can we get wives for those who are left? We have sworn by God not to give any of our daughters to them in marriage." 8 They said, "Which one of the tribes of Israel didn't gather before God at Mizpah?" 9 When they took a roll call of the people, not a single person from Jabesh Gilead was there. 10 So the congregation sent twelve divisions of their top men there with the command, "Kill everyone of Jabesh Gilead, including women and children. 11 These are your instructions: Every man and woman who has had sexual intercourse you must kill. But keep the virgins alive." And that's what they did. 12 And they found 400 virgins among those who lived in Jabesh Gilead; they had never had sexual intercourse with a man. And they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 13 Then the congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the Rimmon Rock and offered them peace. 14 And Benjamin came. They gave them the women they had let live at Jabesh Gilead. But even then, there weren't enough for all the men. 15 The people felt bad for Benjamin; God had left out Benjamin – the missing piece from the Israelite tribes. 16 The elders of the congregation said, "How can we get wives for the rest of the men, since all the Benjaminite women have been killed? 17 How can we keep the inheritance alive for the Benjaminite survivors? How can we prevent an entire tribe from extinction? 18 We certainly can't give our own daughters to them as wives." (Remember, the Israelites had taken the oath: "Cursed is anyone who provides a wife to Benjamin.") 19 Then they said, "There is that festival of God held every year in Shiloh. It's north of Bethel, just east of the main road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and a little south of Lebonah." 20 So they told the Benjaminites, "Go and hide in the vineyards. 21 Stay alert – when you see the Shiloh girls come out to dance the dances, run out of the vineyards, grab one of the Shiloh girls for your wife, and then hightail it back to the country of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers come to lay charges against us, we'll tell them, 'We did them a favor. After all we didn't go to war and kill to get wives for men. And it wasn't as if you were in on it by giving consent. But if you keep this up, you will incur blame.'" 23 And that's what the Benjaminites did: They carried off girls from the dance, wives enough for their number, got away, and went home to their inheritance. They rebuilt their towns and settled down. 24 From there the People of Israel dispersed, each man heading back to his own tribe and clan, each to his own plot of land. 25 At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.

Psalm 46:1-12

1 God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. 2 We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, 3 Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us. 4 River fountains splash joy, cooling God's city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. 5 God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. 6 Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. 7 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us. 8 Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, 9 Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. 10 "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything." 11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.

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