April 9 - Acts 1, Deuteronomy 11-12 and Job 9

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Acts 1 Theophilus, I first wrote to you about all that Jesus did and taught from the very first 2until he was taken up to heaven. But before he was taken up, he gave orders to the apostles he had chosen with the help of the Holy Spirit.
3For forty days after Jesus had suffered and died, he proved in many ways that he had been raised from death. He appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about God's kingdom. 4While he was still with them, he said:
Don't leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. 5John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Is Taken to Heaven

6While the apostles were still with Jesus, they asked him, "Lord, are you now going to give Israel its own king again?"
7Jesus said to them, "You don't need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls. 8But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world." 9After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, he was taken up into a cloud. They could not see him, 10but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky.
Suddenly two men dressed in white clothes were standing there beside them. 11They said, "Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. But he will come back in the same way that you have seen him go."

Someone To Take the Place of Judas

12-13The Mount of Olives was about half a mile from Jerusalem. The apostles who had gone there were Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon, known as the Eager One, and Judas the son of James.
After the apostles returned to the city, they went upstairs to the room where they had been staying.
14The apostles often met together and prayed with a single purpose in mind. The women and Mary the mother of Jesus would meet with them, and so would his brothers. 15One day there were about one hundred twenty of the Lord's followers meeting together, and Peter stood up to speak to them. 16-17He said:
My friends, long ago by the power of the Holy Spirit, David said something about Judas, and what he said has now happened. Judas was one of us and had worked with us, but he brought the mob to arrest Jesus. 18Then Judas bought some land with the money he was given for doing that evil thing. He fell headfirst into the field. His body burst open, and all his insides came out. 19When the people of Jerusalem found out about this, they called the place Akeldama, which in the local language means "Field of Blood."
20In the book of Psalms it says,

"Leave his house empty,
and don't let anyone live there."
It also says,

"Let someone else
have his job."
21-22So we need someone else to help us tell others that Jesus has been raised from death. He must also be one of the men who was with us from the very beginning. He must have been with us from the time the Lord Jesus was baptized by John until the day he was taken to heaven.

23Two men were suggested: One of them was Joseph Barsabbas, known as Justus, and the other was Matthias. 24Then they all prayed, "Lord, you know what everyone is like! Show us the one you have chosen 25to be an apostle and to serve in place of Judas, who got what he deserved." 26They drew names, and Matthias was chosen to join the group of the eleven apostles.

If You Are Loyal to the LORD, He Will Bless You

Moses said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 11 The LORD is your God, so you must always love him and obey his laws and teachings. 2Remember, he corrected you and not your children. You are the ones who saw the LORD use his great power 3when he worked miracles in Egypt, making terrible things happen to the king and all his people. 4And when the Egyptian army chased you in their chariots, you saw the LORD drown them and their horses in the Red Sea. Egypt still suffers from that defeat!
5You saw what the LORD did for you while you were in the desert, right up to the time you arrived here. 6And you saw how the LORD made the ground open up in the middle of our camp underneath the tents of Dathan and Abiram, who were swallowed up along with their families, their animals, and their tents.
7With your own eyes, you saw the LORD's mighty power do all these things.
8Soon you will cross the Jordan River, and if you obey the laws and teachings I'm giving you today, you will be strong enough to conquer the land 9that the LORD promised your ancestors and their descendants. It's rich with milk and honey, and you will live there and enjoy it for a long time. 10It's better land than you had in Egypt, where you had to struggle just to water your crops. 11But the hills and valleys in the promised land are watered by rain from heaven, 12because the LORD your God keeps his eye on this land and takes care of it all year long.
13The LORD your God commands you to love him and to serve him with all your heart and soul. If you obey him, 14-15he will send rain at the right seasons, so you will have more than enough food, wine, and olive oil, and there will be plenty of grass for your cattle.
16But watch out! You will be tempted to turn your backs on the LORD. And if you worship other gods, 17the LORD will become angry and keep the rain from falling. Nothing will grow in your fields, and you will die and disappear from the good land that the LORD is giving you.
18Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them. 19Teach them to your children. Talk about them all the time--whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. 20Write them on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates. 21Then you and your descendants will live a long time in the land that the LORD promised your ancestors. Your families will live there as long as the sky is above the earth.
22Love the LORD your God and obey all the laws and teachings that I'm giving you today. If you live the way the LORD wants, 23he will help you take the land. And even though the nations there are more powerful than you, the LORD will force them to leave when you attack. 24You will capture the land everywhere you go, from the Southern Desert to the Lebanon Mountains, and from the Euphrates River west to the Mediterranean Sea. 25No one will be able to stand up to you. The LORD will make everyone terrified of you, just as he promised.
26You have a choice--do you want the LORD to bless you, or do you want him to put a curse on you? 27Today I am giving you his laws, and if you obey him, he will bless you. 28But if you disobey him and worship those gods that have never done anything for you, the LORD will put a curse on you.
29After the LORD your God helps you take the land, you must have a ceremony where you announce his blessings from Mount Gerizim and his curses from Mount Ebal. 30You know that these two mountains are west of the Jordan River in land now controlled by the Canaanites living in the Jordan River valley. The mountains are west of the road near the sacred trees of Moreh on the other side of Gilgal.
31Soon you will cross the Jordan River to conquer the land that the LORD your God is giving you. And when you have settled there, 32be careful to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today.

Only One Place To Worship the LORD

Moses said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 12 Now I'll tell you the laws and teachings that you have to obey as long as you live. Your ancestors worshiped the LORD, and he is giving you this land. 2But the nations that live there worship other gods. So after you capture the land, you must completely destroy their places of worship--on mountains and hills or in the shade of large trees. 3Wherever these nations worship their gods, you must tear down their altars, break their sacred stones, burn the sacred poles used in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and smash their idols to pieces. Destroy these places of worship so completely that no one will remember they were ever there. 4Don't worship the LORD your God in the way those nations worship their gods.
5-19Soon you will cross the Jordan, and the LORD will help you conquer your enemies and let you live in peace, there in the land he has given you. But after you are settled, life will be different. You must not offer sacrifices just anywhere you want to. Instead, the LORD will choose a place somewhere in Israel where you must go to worship him. All of your sacrifices and offerings must be taken there, including sacrifices to please the LORD and any gift you promise or voluntarily give him. That's where you must also take one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil, as well as the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats. You and your family and servants will eat your gifts and sacrifices and celebrate there at the place of worship, because the LORD your God has made you successful in everything you have done. And since Levites will not have any land of their own, you must ask some of them to come along and celebrate with you.
Sometimes you may want to kill an animal for food and not as a sacrifice. If the LORD has blessed you and given you enough cows or sheep or goats, then you can butcher one of them where you live. You can eat it just like the meat from a deer or gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat. But you must not eat the blood of any animal--let the blood drain out on the ground.
20-21The LORD has promised that later on he will give Israel more land, and some of you may not be able to travel all the way from your homes to the place of worship each time you are hungry for meat. But the LORD will give you cattle, sheep, and goats, and you can butcher any of those animals at home and eat as much as you want. 22It is the same as eating the meat from a deer or a gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And in this way, anyone who is unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat.
23-24But don't eat the blood. It is the life of the animal, so let it drain out on the ground before you eat the meat. 25Do you want the LORD to make you successful? Do you want your children to be successful even after you are gone? Then do what pleases the LORD and don't eat blood.
26-27All sacrifices and offerings to the LORD must be taken to the place where he chooses to be worshiped. If you offer a sacrifice to please the LORD, all of its meat must be burned on the altar. You can eat the meat from certain kinds of sacrifices, but you must always pour out the animal's blood on the altar.
28If you obey these laws, you will be doing what the LORD your God says is right and good. Then he will help you and your descendants be successful.

Worship the LORD in the Right Way

Moses said:
29Israel, as you go into the land and attack the nations that are there, the LORD will get rid of them, and you can have their land.
30But that's when you must be especially careful not to ask, "How did those nations worship their gods? Shouldn't we worship the LORD in the same way?" 31No, you should not! The LORD hates the disgusting way those nations worship their gods, because they even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices.
32Obey all the laws and teachings I am giving you. Don't add any, and don't take any away.

Job's Reply to Bildad

What You Say Is True

Job 9 Job said:
2What you say is true. No human is innocent
in the sight of God.
3Not once in a thousand times could we win our case
if we took him to court.
4God is wise and powerful--
who could possibly oppose him and win?
5When God becomes angry, he can move mountains
before they even know it.
6God can shake the earth loose from its foundations
7or command the sun and stars to hold back their light.
8God alone stretched out the sky, stepped on the sea,
9and set the stars in place--
the Big Dipper and Orion,
the Pleiades and the stars in the southern sky.
10Of all the miracles God works, we cannot understand a one.
11God walks right past me, without making a sound.
12And if he grabs something, who can stop him
or raise a question?

13When God showed his anger,
the servants of the sea monster fell at his feet.
14How, then, could I possibly argue my case with God?

Though I Am Innocent

15Even though I am innocent, I can only beg for mercy.
16And if God came into court when I called him,
he would not hear my case.
17He would strike me with a storm and increase my injuries
for no reason at all.
18Before I could get my breath, my miseries would multiply.
19God is much stronger than I am,
and who would call me into court to give me justice?

20Even if I were innocent, God would prove me wrong.
21I am not guilty, but I no longer care what happens to me.
22What difference does it make?
God destroys the innocent along with the guilty.
23When a good person dies a sudden death,
God sits back and laughs.
24And who else but God blindfolds the judges,
then lets the wicked take over the earth?

My Life Is Speeding By

25My life is speeding by, without a hope of happiness.
26Each day passes swifter than a sailing ship
or an eagle swooping down.
27Sometimes I try to be cheerful and to stop complaining,
28but my sufferings frighten me,
because I know that God still considers me guilty.
29So what's the use of trying to prove my innocence?
30Even if I washed myself with the strongest soap,
31God would throw me into a pit of stinking slime,
leaving me disgusting to my clothes.

32God isn't a mere human like me. I can't put him on trial.
33Who could possibly judge between the two of us?
34Can someone snatch away the stick
God carries to frighten me?
35Then I could speak up without fear of him,
but for now, I cannot speak.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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