When I want to read the Holy Bible in simple, day-to-day terms, I run to The Message Bible. Sometimes, I have the tendency to just read through familiar passages because I think I know them already after years of reading them again and again. I will not deny that I sometimes shrug off listening or reading the verses because I’m already used to them.
Conscious of this not-good practice, I read The Message Bible. It is not a translation of the Holy Bible. It just uses contemporary language. Some regard it as paraphrasing, though not explicit, to help people better understand the meaning of God’s Word.
For example Psalm 23:1-4 . In the New International Version, this is how the verses read:
1. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3. he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
In the The Message Bible, you read this as:
1. GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
2. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
3. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
Last week, on the second day of this new year, I found myself reading Matthew 5: 9-12 in The Message Bible and I actually enjoyed reading the contemporary version of “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…”
Here’s how The Beatitudes are presented in The Message Bible:
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
I believe it is timely that at the onset of 2014, I am able to understand more, in plain language, the blessings that God has in store for me by reading this version of The Beatitudes. So I also exhort all of you to claim, in Jesus name, the grace from God to be able to look at frustrations and despair as blessings; to regard contentment as what will make us rich in heaven; to avoid fights and arguments so we can have a place in heaven; to accept that oppressions and sufferings actually bring us closer to God; to care more because it opens the door to being cared.
I like to share this new year message sent to me by Dr. Henry L. Yu. I think it also captures the essence of The Beatitudes.
“New Year is a time to renew our thanks to God Almighty as we look back and count our blessings. Truly, there are more fortunes than misfortunes, more happiness than sadness, more friends than enemies, more laughter than tears.
Let us thank God for being able to… live under a sheltering roof of a place we call home… bathe ourselves with water from the faucet… do things more conveniently and comfortably with the electric power on…have food on the table..have bonding times with the family…work till we recline and call it a day.
Let us thank God for… the miracle of being able to open our eyes and wake up to a brand new day with the assurance that there is nothing that God and us cannot handle together… giving us 24/7 to live the purpose-driven life according to His will, nourished by His words and guided by the Holy Spirit.… the precious Gift of Life and the chance to love and care, to serve and share, in making this world a better place. All these and more…”
Thank you Dr. Yu for your message. Thank you to all of you who have been following this column. I hope I have done the mission God has given me to touch your lives in a way that will bring us all closer to Him.
Blessings to us this new year!
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