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Daily Bible Reading – MSG

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Today’s Bible Reading

May 14

Acts 21:37-22:29; Judges 17-18; Psalm 43 MSG

Acts 21

1 And so, with the tearful good-byes behind us, we were on our way. We made a straight run to Cos, the next day reached Rhodes, and then Patara. 2 There we found a ship going direct to Phoenicia, got on board, and set sail. 3 Cyprus came into view on our left, but was soon out of sight as we kept on course for Syria, and eventually docked in the port of Tyre. While the cargo was being unloaded, 4 we looked up the local disciples and stayed with them seven days. Their message to Paul, from insight given by the Spirit, was "Don't go to Jerusalem." 5 When our time was up, they escorted us out of the city to the docks. Everyone came along – men, women, children. They made a farewell party of the occasion! We all kneeled together on the beach and prayed. 6 Then, after another round of saying good-bye, we climbed on board the ship while they drifted back to their homes. 7 A short run from Tyre to Ptolemais completed the voyage. We greeted our Christian friends there and stayed with them a day. 8 In the morning we went on to Caesarea and stayed with Philip the Evangelist, one of "the Seven." 9 Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 After several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to see us. 11 He went right up to Paul, took Paul's belt, and, in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this and hand him over to godless unbelievers." 12 When we heard that, we and everyone there that day begged Paul not to be stubborn and persist in going to Jerusalem. 13 But Paul wouldn't budge: "Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You're looking at this backwards. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can't you see that?" 14 We saw that we weren't making even a dent in his resolve, and gave up. "It's in God's hands now," we said. "Master, you handle it." 15 It wasn't long before we had our luggage together and were on our way to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and took us to the home of Mnason, who received us warmly as his guests. A native of Cyprus, he had been among the earliest disciples. 17 In Jerusalem, our friends, glad to see us, received us with open arms. 18 The first thing next morning, we took Paul to see James. All the church leaders were there. 19 After a time of greeting and small talk, Paul told the story, detail by detail, of what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 They listened with delight and gave God the glory. 21 They've been told that you advise believing Jews who live surrounded by Gentiles to go light on Moses, telling them that they don't need to circumcise their children or keep up the old traditions. This isn't sitting at all well with them. 22 "We're worried about what will happen when they discover you're in town. There's bound to be trouble. So here is what we want you to do: 23 There are four men from our company who have taken a vow involving ritual purification, but have no money to pay the expenses. 24 Join these men in their vows and pay their expenses. Then it will become obvious to everyone that there is nothing to the rumors going around about you and that you are in fact scrupulous in your reverence for the laws of Moses. 25 "In asking you to do this, we're not going back on our agreement regarding Gentiles who have become believers. We continue to hold fast to what we wrote in that letter, namely, to be careful not to get involved in activities connected with idols; to avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians; to guard the morality of sex and marriage." 26 So Paul did it – took the men, joined them in their vows, and paid their way. The next day he went to the Temple to make it official and stay there until the proper sacrifices had been offered and completed for each of them. 27 When the seven days of their purification were nearly up, some Jews from around Ephesus spotted him in the Temple. At once they turned the place upside-down. They grabbed Paul 28 and started yelling at the top of their lungs, "Help! You Israelites, help! This is the man who is going all over the world telling lies against us and our religion and this place. He's even brought Greeks in here and defiled this holy place." 29 (What had happened was that they had seen Paul and Trophimus, the Ephesian Greek, walking together in the city and had just assumed that he had also taken him to the Temple and shown him around.) 30 Soon the whole city was in an uproar, people running from everywhere to the Temple to get in on the action. They grabbed Paul, dragged him outside, and locked the Temple gates so he couldn't get back in and gain sanctuary. 31 As they were trying to kill him, word came to the captain of the guard, "A riot! The whole city's boiling over!" 32 He acted swiftly. His soldiers and centurions ran to the scene at once. As soon as the mob saw the captain and his soldiers, they quit beating Paul. 33 The captain came up and put Paul under arrest. He first ordered him handcuffed, and then asked who he was and what he had done. 34 All he got from the crowd were shouts, one yelling this, another that. It was impossible to tell one word from another in the mob hysteria, so the captain ordered Paul taken to the military barracks. 35 But when they got to the Temple steps, the mob became so violent that the soldiers had to carry Paul. 36 As they carried him away, the crowd followed, shouting, "Kill him! Kill him!" 37 When they got to the barracks and were about to go in, Paul said to the captain, "Can I say something to you?" 38 I thought you were the Egyptian who not long ago started a riot here, and then hid out in the desert with his four thousand thugs." 39 Paul said, "No, I'm a Jew, born in Tarsus. And I'm a citizen still of that influential city. I have a simple request: Let me speak to the crowd." 40 Standing on the barracks steps, Paul turned and held his arms up. A hush fell over the crowd as Paul began to speak. He spoke in Hebrew.

Acts 22

1 "My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me." 2 When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this. 3 "I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I've always been passionately on God's side, just as you are right now. 4 "I went after anyone connected with this 'Way,' went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. 5 You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the Christians there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing. 6 "As I arrived on the outskirts of Damascus about noon, a blinding light blazed out of the skies 7 and I fell to the ground, dazed. I heard a voice: 'Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?' 8 "'Who are you, Master?' I asked. 9 My companions saw the light, but they didn't hear the conversation. 10 "Then I said, 'What do I do now, Master?' 11 And so we entered Damascus, but nothing like the entrance I had planned – I was blind as a bat and my companions had to lead me in by the hand. 12 "And that's when I met Ananias, a man with a sterling reputation in observing our laws – the Jewish community in Damascus is unanimous on that score. 13 He came and put his arm on my shoulder. 'Look up,' he said. I looked, and found myself looking right into his eyes – I could see again! 14 "Then he said, 'The God of our ancestors has handpicked you to be briefed on his plan of action. You've actually seen the Righteous Innocent and heard him speak. 15 You are to be a key witness to everyone you meet of what you've seen and heard. 16 So what are you waiting for? Get up and get yourself baptized, scrubbed clean of those sins and personally acquainted with God.' 17 "Well, it happened just as Ananias said. After I was back in Jerusalem and praying one day in the Temple, lost in the presence of God, 18 I saw him, saw God's Righteous Innocent, and heard him say to me, 'Hurry up! Get out of here as quickly as you can. None of the Jews here in Jerusalem are going to accept what you say about me.' 19 "At first I objected: 'Who has better credentials? They all know how obsessed I was with hunting out those who believed in you, beating them up in the meeting places and throwing them in jail. 20 And when your witness Stephen was murdered, I was right there, holding the coats of the murderers and cheering them on. And now they see me totally converted. What better qualification could I have?' 21 "But he said, 'Don't argue. Go. I'm sending you on a long journey to outsider Gentiles.'" 22 The people in the crowd had listened attentively up to this point, but now they broke loose, shouting out, "Kill him! He's an insect! Stomp on him!" 23 They shook their fists. They filled the air with curses. 24 That's when the captain intervened and ordered Paul taken into the barracks. By now the captain was thoroughly exasperated. He decided to interrogate Paul under torture in order to get to the bottom of this, to find out what he had done that provoked this outraged violence. 25 As they spread-eagled him with thongs, getting him ready for the whip, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Is this legal: torturing a Roman citizen without a fair trial?" 26 When the centurion heard that, he went directly to the captain. "Do you realize what you've done? This man is a Roman citizen!" 27 The captain came back and took charge. "Is what I hear right? You're a Roman citizen?" Paul said, "I certainly am." 28 The captain was impressed. "I paid a huge sum for my citizenship. How much did it cost you?" "Nothing," said Paul. "It cost me nothing. I was free from the day of my birth." 29 That put a stop to the interrogation. And it put the fear of God into the captain. He had put a Roman citizen in chains and come within a whisker of putting him under torture! 30 The next day, determined to get to the root of the trouble and know for sure what was behind the Jewish accusation, the captain released Paul and ordered a meeting of the high priests and the High Council to see what they could make of it. Paul was led in and took his place before them.

Judges 17

1 There was a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Micah. 2 He said to his mother, "Remember that 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you? I overheard you when you pronounced your curse. Well, I have the money; I stole it. But now I've brought it back to you." His mother said, "God bless you, my son!" 3 As he returned the 1,100 silver pieces to his mother, she said, "I had totally consecrated this money to God for my son to make a statue, a cast god." 4 Then she took 200 pieces of the silver and gave it to a sculptor and he cast them into the form of a god. 5 This man, Micah, had a private chapel. He had made an ephod and some teraphim-idols and had ordained one of his sons to be his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing. 7 Meanwhile there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah and from a family of Judah. He was a Levite but was a stranger there. 8 He left that town, Bethlehem in Judah, seeking his fortune. He got as far as the hill country of Ephraim and showed up at Micah's house. 9 Micah asked him, "So where are you from?" He said, "I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I'm on the road, looking for a place to settle down." 10 Micah said, "Stay here with me. Be my father and priest. I'll pay you ten pieces of silver a year, whatever clothes you need, and your meals." 11 The Levite agreed and moved in with Micah. The young man fit right in and became one of the family. 12 Micah appointed the young Levite as his priest. This all took place in Micah's home. 13 Micah said, "Now I know that God will make things go well for me – why, I've got a Levite for a priest!"

Judges 18

1 In those days there was no king in Israel. But also in those days, the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to settle down. They hadn't yet occupied their plot among the tribes of Israel. 2 The Danites sent out five robust warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol to look over the land and see what was out there suitable for their families. They said, "Go and explore the land." 3 As they neared Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. They went over and said to him, "How on earth did you get here? What's going on? What are you doing here?" 4 He said, "One thing led to another: Micah hired me and I'm now his priest." 5 They said, "Oh, good – inquire of God for us. Find out whether our mission will be a success." 6 The priest said, "Go assured. God's looking out for you all the way." 7 The five men left and headed north to Laish. They saw that the people there were living in safety under the umbrella of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. They had everything going for them. But the people lived a long way from the Sidonians to the west and had no treaty with the Arameans to the east. 8 When they got back to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked, "So, how did you find things?" 9 They said, "Let's go for it! Let's attack. We've seen the land and it is excellent. Are you going to just sit on your hands? Don't dawdle! Invade and conquer! 10 When you get there, you'll find they're sitting ducks, totally unsuspecting. Wide open land – God is handing it over to you, everything you could ever ask for." 11 So 600 Danite men set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, armed to the teeth. 12 Along the way they made camp at Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still today called Dan's Camp – it's just west of Kiriath Jearim. 13 From there they proceeded into the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house. 14 The five men who earlier had explored the country of Laish told their companions, "Did you know there's an ephod, teraphim-idols, and a cast god-sculpture in these buildings? What do you think? Do you want to do something about it?" 15 So they turned off the road there, went to the house of the young Levite at Micah's place and asked how things had been with him. 16 The 600 Danites, all well-armed, stood guard at the entrance to the gate 17 while the five scouts who had gone to explore the land went in and took the carved idol, the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the god-sculpture. The priest was standing at the gate entrance with the 600 armed men. 18 When the five went into Micah's house and took the carved idol, the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the sculpted god, the priest said to them, "What do you think you're doing?" 19 They said to him, "Hush! Don't make a sound. Come with us. Be our father and priest. Which is more important, that you be a priest to one man or that you become priest to a whole tribe and clan in Israel?" 20 The priest jumped at the chance. He took the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the idol and fell in with the troops. 21 They turned away and set out, putting the children, the cattle, and the gear in the lead. 22 They were well on their way from Micah's house before Micah and his neighbors got organized. But they soon overtook the Danites. 23 They shouted at them. The Danites turned around and said, "So what's all the noise about?" 24 Micah said, "You took my god, the one I made, and you took my priest. And you marched off! What do I have left? How can you now say, 'What's the matter?'" 25 But the Danites answered, "Don't yell at us; you just might provoke some fierce, hot-tempered men to attack you, and you'll end up an army of dead men." 26 The Danites went on their way. Micah saw that he didn't stand a chance against their arms. He turned back and went home. 27 So they took the things that Micah had made, along with his priest, and they arrived at Laish, that city of quiet and unsuspecting people. They massacred the people and burned down the city. 28 There was no one around to help. They were a long way from Sidon and had no treaty with the Arameans. Laish was in the valley of Beth Rehob. 29 When they rebuilt the city they renamed it Dan after their ancestor who was a son of Israel, but its original name was Laish. 30 The Danites set up the god-figure for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan down to the time of the land's captivity. 31 All during the time that there was a sanctuary of God in Shiloh, they kept for their private use the god-figure that Micah had made.

Psalm 43:1-26

1 Clear my name, God; stick up for me against these loveless, immoral people. Get me out of here, away from these lying degenerates. 2 I counted on you, God. Why did you walk out on me? Why am I pacing the floor, wringing my hands over these outrageous people? 3 Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map, So I can find my way to the sacred mountain, to the place of your presence, 4 To enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God, Sing my thanks with a harp, magnificent God, my God. 5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.

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