Daily Bible Reading – MSG

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Today’s Bible Reading

May 8

Acts 18; Judges 9; Job 38 MSG

Acts 18

1 After Athens, Paul went to Corinth. 2 That is where he discovered Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, and his wife, Priscilla. They had just arrived from Italy, part of the general expulsion of Jews from Rome ordered by Claudius. 3 Paul moved in with them, and they worked together at their common trade of tentmaking. 4 But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place, doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God's Messiah. 6 But no such luck. All they did was argue contentiously and contradict him at every turn. Totally exasperated, Paul had finally had it with them and gave it up as a bad job. "Have it your way, then," he said. "You've made your bed; now lie in it. From now on I'm spending my time with the other nations." 7 He walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus, a God-fearing man who lived right next to the Jews' meeting place. 8 But Paul's efforts with the Jews weren't a total loss, for Crispus, the meeting-place president, put his trust in the Master. His entire family believed with him. 9 One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: "Keep it up, and don't let anyone intimidate or silence you. 10 No matter what happens, I'm with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city." 11 That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians. 12 But when Gallio was governor of Achaia province, the Jews got up a campaign against Paul, hauled him into court, 13 and filed chcrges: "This man is seducing people into acts of worship that are illegal." 14 Just as Paul was about to defend himself, Gallio interrupted and said to the Jews, "If this was a matter of criminal conduct, I would gladly hear you out. 15 But it sounds to me like one more Jewish squabble, another of your endless hairsplitting quarrels over religion. Take care of it on your own time. I can't be bothered with this nonsense," 16 and he cleared them out of the courtroom. 17 Now the street rabble turned on Sosthenes, the new meeting-place president, and beat him up in plain sight of the court. Gallio didn't raise a finger. He could not have cared less. 18 Paul stayed a while longer in Corinth, but then it was time to take leave of his friends. Saying his good-byes, he sailed for Syria, Priscilla and Aquila with him. Before boarding the ship in the harbor town of Cenchrea, he had his head shaved as part of a vow he had taken. 19 They landed in Ephesus, where Priscilla and Aquila got off and stayed. Paul left the ship briefly to go to the meeting place and preach to the Jews. 20 They wanted him to stay longer, but he said he couldn't. 21 But after saying good-bye, he promised, "I'll be back, God willing." 22 he sailed to Caesarea. He greeted the assembly of Christians there, and then went on to Antioch, completing the journey. 23 After spending a considerable time with the Antioch Christians, Paul set off again for Galatia and Phrygia, retracing his old tracks, one town after another, putting fresh heart into the disciples. 24 A man named Apollos came to Ephesus. He was a Jew, born in Alexandria, Egypt, and a terrific speaker, eloquent and powerful in his preaching of the Scriptures. 25 He was well-educated in the way of the Master and fiery in his enthusiasm. Apollos was accurate in everything he taught about Jesus up to a point, but he only went as far as the baptism of John. 26 He preached with power in the meeting place. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and told him the rest of the story. 27 When Apollos decided to go on to Achaia province, his Ephesian friends gave their blessing and wrote a letter of recommendation for him, urging the disciples there to welcome him with open arms. The welcome paid off: Apollos turned out to be a great help to those who had become believers through God's immense generosity. 28 He was particularly effective in public debate with the Jews as he brought out proof after convincing proof from the Scriptures that Jesus was in fact God's Messiah.

Judges 9

1 Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to his uncles and all his mother's relatives and said to them, 2 "Ask all the leading men of Shechem, 'What do you think is best, that seventy men rule you – all those sons of Jerub-Baal – or that one man rule? You'll remember that I am your own flesh and blood.'" 3 His mother's relatives reported the proposal to the leaders of Shechem. They were inclined to take Abimelech. "Because," they said, "he is, after all, one of us." 4 They gave him seventy silver pieces from the shrine of Baal-of-the-Covenant. With the money he hired some reckless riff-raff soldiers and they followed along after him. 5 He went to his father's house in Ophrah and killed his half brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal – seventy men! And on one stone! The youngest, Jotham son of Jerub-Baal, managed to hide, the only survivor. 6 Then all the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered at the Oak by the Standing Stone at Shechem and crowned Abimelech king. 7 When this was all told to Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and shouted: Listen to me, leaders of Shechem. And let God listen to you! 8 The trees set out one day to anoint a king for themselves. They said to Olive Tree, "Rule over us." 9 But Olive Tree told them, "Am I no longer good for making oil That gives glory to gods and men, and to be demoted to waving over trees?" 10 The trees then said to Fig Tree, "You come and rule over us." 11 But Fig Tree said to them, "Am I no longer good for making sweets, My mouthwatering sweet fruits, and to be demoted to waving over trees?" 12 The trees then said to Vine, "You come and rule over us." 13 But Vine said to them, "Am I no longer good for making wine, Wine that cheers gods and men, and to be demoted to waving over trees?" 14 All the trees then said to Tumbleweed, "You come and reign over us." 15 But Tumbleweed said to the trees: "If you're serious about making me your king, Come and find shelter in my shade. But if not, let fire shoot from Tumbleweed and burn down the cedars of Lebanon!" 16 "Now listen: Do you think you did a right and honorable thing when you made Abimelech king? Do you think you treated Jerub-Baal and his family well, did for him what he deserved? 17 My father fought for you, risked his own life, and rescued you from Midian's tyranny, 18 and you have, just now, betrayed him. You massacred his sons – seventy men on a single stone! You made Abimelech, the son by his maidservant, king over Shechem's leaders because he's your relative. 19 If you think that this is an honest day's work, this way you have treated Jerub-Baal today, then enjoy Abimelech and let him enjoy you. 20 But if not, let fire break from Abimelech and burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo. And let fire break from the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo and burn up Abimelech." 21 And Jotham fled. He ran for his life. He went to Beer and settled down there, because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech. 22 Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. 23 Then God brought bad blood between Abimelech and Shechem's leaders, who now worked treacherously behind his back. 24 Violence boomeranged: The murderous violence that killed the seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal, was now loose among Abimelech and Shechem's leaders, who had supported the violence. 25 To undermine Abimelech, Shechem's leaders put men in ambush on the mountain passes who robbed travelers on those roads. And Abimelech was told. 26 At that time Gaal son of Ebed arrived with his relatives and moved into Shechem. The leaders of Shechem trusted him. 27 One day they went out into the fields, gathered grapes in the vineyards, and trod them in the winepress. Then they held a celebration in their god's temple, a feast, eating and drinking. And then they started putting down Abimelech. 28 Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who is this Abimelech? And who are we Shechemites to take orders from him? Isn't he the son of Jerub-Baal, and isn't this his henchman Zebul? We belong to the race of Hamor and bear the noble name of Shechem. Why should we be toadies of Abimelech? 29 If I were in charge of this people, the first thing I'd do is get rid of Abimelech! I'd say, 'Show me your stuff, Abimelech – let's see who's boss here!'" 30 Zebul, governor of the city, heard what Gaal son of Ebed was saying and got angry. 31 Secretly he sent messengers to Abimelech with the message, "Gaal son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem and are stirring up trouble against you. 32 Here's what you do: Tonight bring your troops and wait in ambush in the field. 33 In the morning, as soon as the sun breaks, get moving and charge the city. Gaal and his troops will come out to you, and you'll know what to do next." 34 Abimelech and his troops, four companies of them, went up that night and waited in ambush approaching Shechem. 35 Gaal son of Ebed had gotten up and was standing in the city gate. Abimelech and his troops left their cover. 36 When Gaal saw them he said to Zebul, "Look at that, people coming down from the tops of the mountains!" Zebul said, "That's nothing but mountain shadows; they just look like men." Gaal kept chattering away. 37 Then he said again, "Look at the troops coming down off Tabbur-erez (the Navel of the World) – and one company coming straight from the Oracle Oak." 38 Zebul said, "Where is that big mouth of yours now? You who said, 'And who is Abimelech that we should take orders from him?' Well, there he is with the troops you ridiculed. Here's your chance. Fight away!" 39 Gaal went out, backed by the leaders of Shechem, and did battle with Abimelech. 40 Abimelech chased him, and Gaal turned tail and ran. Many fell wounded, right up to the city gate. 41 Abimelech set up his field headquarters at Arumah while Zebul kept Gaal and his relatives out of Shechem. 42 The next day the people went out to the fields. This was reported to Abimelech. 43 He took his troops, divided them into three companies, and placed them in ambush in the fields. When he saw that the people were well out in the open, he sprang up and attacked them. 44 Abimelech and the company with him charged ahead and took control of the entrance to the city gate; the other two companies chased down those who were in the open fields and killed them. 45 Abimelech fought at the city all that day. He captured the city and massacred everyone in it. He leveled the city to the ground, then sowed it with salt. 46 When the leaders connected with Shechem's Tower heard this, they went into the fortified God-of-the-Covenant temple. 47 This was reported to Abimelech that the Shechem's Tower bunch were gathered together. 48 He and his troops climbed Mount Zalmon (Dark Mountain). Abimelech took his ax and chopped a bundle of firewood, picked it up, and put it on his shoulder. He said to his troops, "Do what you've seen me do, and quickly." 49 So each of his men cut his own bundle. They followed Abimelech, piled their bundles against the Tower fortifications, and set the whole structure on fire. Everyone in Shechem's Tower died, about a thousand men and women. 50 Abimelech went on to Thebez. He camped at Thebez and captured it. 51 The Tower-of-Strength stood in the middle of the city; all the men and women of the city along with the city's leaders had fled there and locked themselves in. They were up on the tower roof. 52 Abimelech got as far as the tower and assaulted it. He came up to the tower door to set it on fire. 53 Just then some woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and crushed his skull. 54 He called urgently to his young armor-bearer and said, "Draw your sword and kill me so they can't say of me, 'A woman killed him.'" His armor bearer drove in his sword, and Abimelech died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. 56 God avenged the evil Abimelech had done to his father, murdering his seventy brothers. 57 And God brought down on the heads of the men of Shechem all the evil that they had done, the curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal.

Job 38

1 And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said: 2 "Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you're talking about? 3 Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. 4 Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! 5 Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? 6 How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, 7 While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? 8 And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? 9 That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. 10 Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn't run loose, 11 And said, 'Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.' 12 "And have you ever ordered Morning, 'Get up!' told Dawn, 'Get to work!' 13 So you could seize Earth like a blanket and shake out the wicked like cockroaches? 14 As the sun brings everything to light, brings out all the colors and shapes, 15 The cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked – they're caught in the very act! 16 "Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things, explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean? 17 Do you know the first thing about death? Do you have one clue regarding death's dark mysteries? 18 And do you have any idea how large this earth is? Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer. 19 "Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives 20 So you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost? 21 Why, of course you know that. You've known them all your life, grown up in the same neighborhood with them! 22 "Have you ever traveled to where snow is made, seen the vault where hail is stockpiled, 23 The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness for times of trouble and battle and war? 24 Can you find your way to where lightning is launched, or to the place from which the wind blows? 25 Who do you suppose carves canyons for the downpours of rain, and charts the route of thunderstorms 26 That bring water to unvisited fields, deserts no one ever lays eyes on, 27 Drenching the useless wastelands so they're carpeted with wildflowers and grass? 28 And who do you think is the father of rain and dew, 29 the mother of ice and frost? 30 You don't for a minute imagine these marvels of weather just happen, do you? 31 "Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters, or distract Orion from his hunt? 32 Can you get Venus to look your way, or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play? 33 Do you know the first thing about the sky's constellations and how they affect things on Earth? 34 "Can you get the attention of the clouds, and commission a shower of rain? 35 Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders? What Do You Have to Say for Yourself? 36 "Who do you think gave weather-wisdom to the ibis, and storm-savvy to the rooster? 37 Does anyone know enough to number all the clouds or tip over the rain barrels of heaven 38 When the earth is cracked and dry, the ground baked hard as a brick? 39 "Can you teach the lioness to stalk her prey and satisfy the appetite of her cubs 40 As they crouch in their den, waiting hungrily in their cave? 41 And who sets out food for the ravens when their young cry to God, fluttering about because they have no food?

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