Psalms 37; Psalms 38; Psalms 39; Acts 26

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Psalms 37

1 Do not be preoccupied with evildoers. Do not envy those who do wicked things.
2 They will quickly dry up like grass and wither away like green plants.
3 Trust the LORD, and do good things. Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
4 Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act [on your behalf].
6 He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.
7 Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with [an evildoer] who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.
8 Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.
9 Evildoers will be cut off [from their inheritance], but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land.
10 In a little while a wicked person will vanish. Then you can carefully examine where he was, but there will be no trace of him.
11 Oppressed people will inherit the land and will enjoy unlimited peace.
12 The wicked person plots against a righteous one and grits his teeth at him.
13 The Lord laughs at him because he has seen that his time is coming.
14 Wicked people pull out their swords and bend their bows to kill oppressed and needy people, to slaughter those who are decent.
15 [But] their own swords will pierce their hearts, and their bows will be broken.
16 The little that the righteous person has is better than the wealth of many wicked people.
17 The arms of wicked people will be broken, but the LORD continues to support righteous people.
18 The LORD knows the daily [struggles] of innocent people. Their inheritance will last forever.
19 They will not be put to shame in trying times. Even in times of famine they will be satisfied.
20 But wicked people will disappear. The LORD's enemies will vanish like the best part of a meadow. They will vanish like smoke.
21 A wicked person borrows, but he does not repay. A righteous person is generous and giving.
22 Those who are blessed by him will inherit the land. Those who are cursed by him will be cut off.
23 A person's steps are directed by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be thrown down headfirst because the LORD holds on to his hand.
25 I have been young, and now I am old, but I have never seen a righteous person abandoned or his descendants begging for food.
26 He is always generous and lends freely. His descendants are a blessing.
27 Avoid evil, do good, and live forever.
28 The LORD loves justice, and he will not abandon his godly ones. They will be kept safe forever, but the descendants of wicked people will be cut off.
29 Righteous people will inherit the land and live there permanently.
30 The mouth of the righteous person reflects on wisdom. His tongue speaks what is fair.
31 The teachings of his God are in his heart. His feet do not slip.
32 The wicked person watches the righteous person and seeks to kill him.
33 But the LORD will not abandon him to the wicked person's power or condemn him when he is brought to trial.
34 Wait with hope for the LORD, and follow his path, and he will honor you by giving you the land. When wicked people are cut off, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked person [acting like] a tyrant, spreading himself out like a large cedar tree.
36 But he moved on, and now there is no trace of him. I searched for him, but he could not be found.
37 Notice the innocent person, and look at the decent person, because the peacemaker has a future.
38 But rebels will be completely destroyed. The future of wicked people will be cut off.
39 The victory for righteous people comes from the LORD. He is their fortress in times of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and rescues them. He rescues them from wicked people. He saves them because they have taken refuge in him.

Psalms 38

1 O LORD, do not angrily punish me or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Your arrows have struck me. Your hand has struck me hard.
3 No healthy spot is left on my body because of your rage. There is no peace in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear.
5 My wounds smell rotten. They fester because of my stupidity.
6 I am bent over and bowed down very low. All day I walk around in mourning.
7 My insides are filled with burning pain, and no healthy spot is left on my body.
8 I am numb and completely devastated. I roar because my heart's in turmoil.
9 You know all my desires, O Lord, and my groaning has not been hidden from you.
10 My heart is pounding. I have lost my strength. Even the light of my eyes has left me.
11 My loved ones and my friends keep their distance and my relatives stand far away because of my sickness.
12 Those who seek my life lay traps for me. Those who are out to harm me talk about ruining me. All day long they think of ways to deceive me.
13 But I am like a person who cannot hear and like a person who cannot speak.
14 I am like one who cannot hear and who can offer no arguments.
15 But I wait with hope for you, O LORD. You will answer, O Lord, my God.
16 I said, "Do not let them gloat over me. When my foot slips, do not let them promote themselves at my expense."
17 I am ready to fall. I am continually aware of my pain.
18 I confess my guilt. My sin troubles me.
19 My mortal enemies are growing stronger. Many hate me for no reason.
20 They pay me back with evil instead of good, and they accuse me because I try to do what is good.
21 Do not abandon me, O LORD. O my God, do not be so distant from me.
22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my savior.

Psalms 39

1 I said, "I will watch my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue. I will bridle my mouth while wicked people are in my presence."
2 I remained totally speechless. I kept silent, although it did me no good. While I was deep in thought, my pain grew worse.
3 My heart burned like a fire flaring up within me. Then I spoke with my tongue:
4 "Teach me, O LORD, about the end of my life. Teach me about the number of days I have left so that I may know how temporary my life is.
5 Indeed, you have made the length of my days [only] a few inches. My life span is nothing compared to yours. Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind. Selah
6 Each person who walks around is like a shadow. They are busy for no reason. They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them."
7 And now, Lord, what am I waiting for? My hope is in you!
8 Rescue me from all my rebellious acts. Do not disgrace me in front of godless fools.
9 I remained speechless. I did not open my mouth because you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove the sickness you laid upon me. My life is over because you struck me with your hand.
11 With stern warnings you discipline people for their crimes. Like a moth you eat away at what is dear to them. Certainly, everyone is like a whisper in the wind. Selah
12 Listen to my prayer, O LORD. Open your ear to my cry for help. Do not be deaf to my tears, for I am a foreign resident with you, a stranger like all my ancestors.
13 Look away from me so that I may smile again before I go away and am no more.

Acts 26

1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You're free to speak for yourself." Paul acknowledged King Agrippa and then began his defense.
2 "King Agrippa, I think I'm fortunate today to stand in front of you and defend myself against every charge that the Jews brought against me.
3 I say this since you are especially familiar with every custom and controversy in Judaism. So I ask you to listen patiently to me.
4 "All the Jews know how I lived the earliest days of my youth with my own people and in Jerusalem.
5 They've known me for a long time and can testify, if they're willing, that I followed the strictest party of our religion. They know that I lived my life as a Pharisee.
6 "I'm on trial now because I expect God to keep the promise that he made to our ancestors.
7 Our twelve tribes expect this promise to be kept as they worship with intense devotion day and night. Your Majesty, the Jews are making accusations against me because I expect God to keep his promise.
8 Why do all of you refuse to believe that God can bring dead people back to life?
9 "I used to think that I had to do a lot of things to oppose the one named Jesus of Nazareth.
10 That is what I did in Jerusalem. By the authority I received from the chief priests, I locked many Christians in prison. I voted to have them killed every time a vote was taken.
11 I even went to each synagogue, punished believers, and forced them to curse [the name of Jesus]. In my furious rage against them, I hunted them down in cities outside [Jerusalem].
12 "I was carrying out these activities when I went to the city of Damascus. I had the power and authority of the chief priests.
13 Your Majesty, at noon, while I was traveling, I saw a light that was brighter than the sun. The light came from the sky and shined around me and those who were with me.
14 All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice asking me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It's hard for [a mortal like] you to resist God.'
15 "I asked, 'Who are you, sir?' "The Lord answered, 'I am Jesus, the one you're persecuting.
16 Stand up! I have appeared to you for a reason. I'm appointing you to be a servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you.
17 I will rescue you from the Jewish people and from the non-Jewish people to whom I am sending you.
18 You will open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's control to God's. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and a share among God's people who are made holy by believing in me.'
19 "At that point I did not disobey the vision I saw from heaven, King Agrippa.
20 Instead, I spread the message that I first told to the [Jewish] people in Damascus and Jerusalem and throughout the whole country of Judea. I spread the same message to non-Jewish people. Both groups were expected to change the way they thought and acted and to turn to God. I told them to do things that prove they had changed their lives.
21 For this reason the Jews took me prisoner in the temple courtyard and tried to murder me.
22 "God has been helping me to this day so that I can stand and testify to important and unimportant people. I tell them only what the prophets and Moses said would happen.
23 They said that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to come back to life and would spread light to Jewish and non-Jewish people."
24 As Paul was defending himself in this way, Festus shouted, "Paul, you're crazy! Too much education is driving you crazy!"
25 Paul replied, "I'm not crazy, Your Excellency Festus. What I'm saying is true and sane.
26 I can easily speak to a king who knows about these things. I'm sure that none of these things has escaped his attention. None of this was done secretly.
27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe them!"
28 Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think you can quickly persuade me to become a Christian?"
29 Paul replied, "I wish to God that you and everyone listening to me today would quickly and completely become as I am (except for being a prisoner)."
30 The king, the governor, Bernice, and the people who were sitting with them got up.
31 As they were leaving, they said to each other, "This man isn't doing anything for which he deserves to die or be put in prison."
32 Agrippa told Festus, "This man could have been set free if he hadn't appealed his case to the emperor."