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Daily Bible Reading – MSG

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Today’s Bible Reading

May 13

Acts 21:1-36; Judges 16; Psalm 42 MSG

Acts 21:1-36

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!"

Judges 16

1 Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute. He went to her. 2 The news got around: "Samson's here." They gathered around in hiding, waiting all night for him at the city gate, quiet as mice, thinking, "At sunrise we'll kill him." 3 Samson was in bed with the woman until midnight. Then he got up, seized the doors of the city gate and the two gateposts, bolts and all, hefted them on his shoulder, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron. 4 Some time later he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek (Grapes). Her name was Delilah. 5 The Philistine tyrants approached her and said, "Seduce him. Discover what's behind his great strength and how we can tie him up and humble him. Each man's company will give you a hundred shekels of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me, dear, the secret of your great strength, and how you can be tied up and humbled." 7 Samson told her, "If they were to tie me up with seven bowstrings – the kind made from fresh animal tendons, not dried out – then I would become weak, just like anyone else." 8 The Philistine tyrants brought her seven bowstrings, not dried out, and she tied him up with them. 9 The men were waiting in ambush in her room. Then she said, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" He snapped the cords as though they were mere threads. The secret of his strength was still a secret. 10 Delilah said, "Come now, Samson – you're playing with me, making up stories. Be serious; tell me how you can be tied up." 11 He told her, "If you were to tie me up tight with new ropes, ropes never used for work, then I would be helpless, just like anybody else." 12 So Delilah got some new ropes and tied him up. She said, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" The men were hidden in the next room. He snapped the ropes from his arms like threads. 13 Delilah said to Samson, "You're still playing games with me, teasing me with lies. Tell me how you can be tied up." He said to her, "If you wove the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on the loom and drew it tight, then I would be as helpless as any other mortal." 14 and drew it tight. Then she said, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" He woke from his sleep and ripped loose from both the loom and fabric! 15 She said, "How can you say 'I love you' when you won't even trust me? Three times now you've toyed with me, like a cat with a mouse, refusing to tell me the secret of your great strength." 16 She kept at it day after day, nagging and tormenting him. Finally, he was fed up – he couldn't take another minute of it. 17 He spilled it. He told her, "A razor has never touched my head. I've been God's Nazirite from conception. If I were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would be as helpless as any other mortal." 18 When Delilah realized that he had told her his secret, she sent for the Philistine tyrants, telling them, "Come quickly – this time he's told me the truth." They came, bringing the bribe money. 19 When she got him to sleep, his head on her lap, she motioned to a man to cut off the seven braids of his hair. Immediately he began to grow weak. His strength drained from him. 20 Then she said, "The Philistines are on you, Samson!" He woke up, thinking, "I'll go out, like always, and shake free." He didn't realize that God had abandoned him. 21 The Philistines grabbed him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. They shackled him in irons and put him to the work of grinding in the prison. 22 But his hair, though cut off, began to grow again. 23 The Philistine tyrants got together to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They celebrated, saying, Our god has given us Samson our enemy! 24 And when the people saw him, they joined in, cheering their god, Our god has given Our enemy to us, The one who ravaged our country, Piling high the corpses among us. 25 Then this: Everyone was feeling high and someone said, "Get Samson! Let him show us his stuff!" They got Samson from the prison and he put on a show for them. 26 Samson said to the young man who was acting as his guide, "Put me where I can touch the pillars that hold up the temple so I can rest against them." 27 The building was packed with men and women, including all the Philistine tyrants. And there were at least 3,000 in the stands watching Samson's performance. 28 And Samson cried out to God: Master, God! Oh, please, look on me again, Oh, please, give strength yet once more. God! With one avenging blow let me be avenged On the Philistines for my two eyes! 29 Then Samson reached out to the two central pillars that held up the building and pushed against them, one with his right arm, the other with his left. 30 Saying, "Let me die with the Philistines," Samson pushed hard with all his might. The building crashed on the tyrants and all the people in it. He killed more people in his death than he had killed in his life. 31 His brothers and all his relatives went down to get his body. They carried him back and buried him in the tomb of Manoah his father, between Zorah and Eshtaol. He judged Israel for twenty years.

Psalm 42:1-12

1 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. 2 I'm thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, "Will I ever make it – arrive and drink in God's presence?" 3 I'm on a diet of tears – tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, "Where is this God of yours?" 4 These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving – celebrating, all of us, God's feast! 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. 6 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. 7 Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. 8 Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God's prayer. 9 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, "Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?" 10 They're out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, Taunting day after day, "Where is this God of yours?" 11 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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