Suggested Bible Passages & Commentary

1 Corinthians 13 (from The Message)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Micah 6 (from The Message)

What God Is Looking For

1-2 Listen now, listen to God:

“Take your stand in court.
    If you have a complaint, tell the mountains;
    make your case to the hills.
And now, Mountains, hear God’s case;
    listen, Jury Earth—
For I am bringing charges against my people.
    I am building a case against Israel.

3-5 “Dear people, how have I done you wrong?
    Have I burdened you, worn you out? Answer!
I delivered you from a bad life in Egypt;
    I paid a good price to get you out of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you—
    and Aaron and Miriam to boot!
Remember what Balak king of Moab tried to pull,
    and how Balaam son of Beor turned the tables on him.
Remember all those stories about Shittim and Gilgal.
    Keep all God’s salvation stories fresh and present.”

6-7 How can I stand up before God
    and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
    topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
    with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
    my precious baby, to cancel my sin?

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Attention! God calls out to the city!
    If you know what’s good for you, you’ll listen.
So listen, all of you!
    This is serious business.

10-16 “Do you expect me to overlook obscene wealth
    you’ve piled up by cheating and fraud?
Do you think I’ll tolerate shady deals
    and shifty scheming?
I’m tired of the violent rich
    bullying their way with bluffs and lies.
I’m fed up. Beginning now, you’re finished.
    You’ll pay for your sins down to your last cent.
No matter how much you get, it will never be enough—
    hollow stomachs, empty hearts.
No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it—
    bankrupt lives, wasted souls.
You’ll plant grass
    but never get a lawn.
You’ll make jelly
    but never spread it on your bread.
You’ll press apples
    but never drink the cider.
You have lived by the standards of your king, Omri,
    the decadent lifestyle of the family of Ahab.
Because you’ve slavishly followed their fashions,
    I’m forcing you into bankruptcy.
Your way of life will be laughed at, a tasteless joke.
    Your lives will be derided as futile and fake.”

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Luke 10:25-37 (from The Message)

Defining “Neighbor”

25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Matthew 25:31-46 (from The Message)

The Sheep and the Goats

31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Psalm 104

 

Unnameable God, you are fathomless:

I praise you with endless awe.

You are wrapped in light like a cloak;

you stretch out the sky like a curtain.

You make the clouds your chariot;

you walk on the wings of the wind.

You use the winds as your messengers,

thunder and lightning as your servants.

You look at the earth–it trembles;

you touch the hills and they smoke.

You laid the earth’s foundations

so that they would never be destroyed.

You covered the land with ocean;

the waters rose over the mountains.

They fled at the sound of your voice;

you thundered and they ran away.

They rushed down onto the valleys,

to the place you appointed for them.

You bounded them, so that they would never

come back to flood the earth.

You send streams into the valleys,

and they flow out among the hills.

All the animals drink from them;

the wild asses quench their thirst.

Beside them the birds of the air dwell ,

singing among the branches.

You water the hills from the sky;

by your care the whole earth is nourished.

You make grass grow for the cattle

and grains for the service of mankind,

to bring forth food from the earth

and bread that strengthens the body,

oil that makes the face shine

and wine that gladdens the heart.

You plant the trees that grow tall,

pines, and cedars of Lebanon,

where many birds build their nests,

and the stork on the topmost branches.

The mountains shelter the wild goats;

rock squirrels dwell in the cliffs.

You created the moon to count months;

the sun knows when it must set.

You make darkness, it is night,

and the forest animals emerge.

The young lions roar for their prey,

seeking their food from God.

The sun rises, they withdraw

and lie down together in their dens.

Humans go out to their labor

and work until it is evening.

How manifold are your creatures, Lord!

With wisdom you made them all;

the whole earth is filled with your riches.

Here is the sea in its vastness,

where innumerable creatures live,

fish both tiny and huge.

Here sharks swim, and the whale

which you created to play with.

All these depend on you

to give them food in due time.

You open your hands–they gather it;

you give it–they are filled with gladness.

You hide your face–they are stricken;

you take back their breath–they die

and return their bodies to the dust.

You send forth your breath–they are born,

and with them you replenish the earth.

Your grandeur will last forever;

eternally you rejoice in your works.

I will sing to you in every moment;

I will praise you with every breath.

May all selfishness disappear from me,

and may you always shine from my heart.

 

translated by Stephen Mitchell