April 11 - Acts 2.14-47, Deuteronomy 15-16 and Job 11

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Peter Speaks to the Crowd

Acts 2 14Peter stood with the eleven apostles and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:
Friends and everyone else living in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I have to say! 15You are wrong to think that these people are drunk. After all, it is only nine o'clock in the morning. 16But this is what God had the prophet Joel say,

17"When the last days come,
I will give my Spirit to everyone.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will have dreams.
18In those days I will give my Spirit
to my servants, both men and women,
and they will prophesy.

19I will work miracles in the sky above
and wonders on the earth below.
There will be blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20The sun will turn dark,
and the moon will be as red as blood
before the great and wonderful day
of the Lord appears.
21Then the Lord will save everyone
who asks for his help."
22Now, listen to what I have to say about Jesus from Nazareth. God proved that he sent Jesus to you by having him work miracles, wonders, and signs. All of you know this. 23God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. 24But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power. 25What David said are really the words of Jesus,

"I always see the Lord near me,
and I will not be afraid with him at my right side.
26Because of this, my heart will be glad,
my words will be joyful, and I will live in hope.
27The Lord won't leave me in the grave.
I am his holy one,
and he won't let my body decay.
28He has shown me the path to life,
and he makes me glad by being near me."
29My friends, it is right for me to speak to you about our ancestor David. He died and was buried, and his tomb is still here. 30But David was a prophet, and he knew that God had made a promise he would not break. He had told David that someone from his own family would someday be king.
31David knew this would happen, and so he told us that Christ would be raised to life. He said that God would not leave him in the grave or let his body decay. 32All of us can tell you that God has raised Jesus to life!
33Jesus was taken up to sit at the right side of God, and he was given the Holy Spirit, just as the Father had promised. Jesus is also the one who has given the Spirit to us, and that is what you are now seeing and hearing.
34David didn't go up to heaven. So he wasn't talking about himself when he said, "The Lord told my Lord to sit at his right side, 35until he made my Lord's enemies into a footstool for him." 36Everyone in Israel should then know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, even though you put him to death on a cross.

37When the people heard this, they were very upset. They asked Peter and the other apostles, "Friends, what shall we do?"
38Peter said, "Turn back to God! Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will be given the Holy Spirit. 39This promise is for you and your children. It is for everyone our Lord God will choose, no matter where they live."
40Peter told them many other things as well. Then he said, "I beg you to save yourselves from what will happen to all these evil people." 41On that day about three thousand believed his message and were baptized. 42They spent their time learning from the apostles, and they were like family to each other. They also broke bread and prayed together.

Life among the Lord's Followers

43Everyone was amazed by the many miracles and wonders that the apostles worked. 44All the Lord's followers often met together, and they shared everything they had. 45They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it. 46Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, 47while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.

(Leviticus 25.1-7)

Moses said:
Deuteronomy 15 1-2Every seven years you must announce, "The LORD says loans do not need to be paid back." Then if you have loaned money to another Israelite, you can no longer ask for payment. 3This law applies only to loans you have made to other Israelites. Foreigners will still have to pay back what you have loaned them.
4-6No one in Israel should ever be poor. The LORD your God is giving you this land, and he has promised to make you very successful, if you obey his laws and teachings that I'm giving you today. You will lend money to many nations, but you won't have to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they won't rule you.
7After the LORD your God gives land to each of you, there may be poor Israelites in the town where you live. If there are, then don't be mean and selfish with your money. 8Instead, be kind and lend them what they need. 9Be careful! Don't say to yourself, "Soon it will be the seventh year, and then I won't be able to get my money back." It would be horrible for you to think that way and to be so selfish that you refuse to help the poor. They are your relatives, and if you don't help them, they may ask the LORD to decide whether you have done wrong. And he will say that you are guilty. 10You should be happy to give the poor what they need, because then the LORD will make you successful in everything you do.
11There will always be some Israelites who are poor and needy. That's why I am commanding you to be generous with them.

Setting Slaves Free
(Exodus 21.1-11)

Moses said to Israel:
12If any of you buy Israelites as slaves, you must set them free after six years. 13And don't just tell them they are free to leave--14give them sheep and goats and a good supply of grain and wine. The more the LORD has given you, the more you should give them. 15I am commanding you to obey the LORD as a reminder that you were slaves in Egypt before he set you free. 16But one of your slaves may say, "I love you and your family, and I would be better off staying with you, so please don't make me leave." 17Take the slave to the door of your house and push a sharp metal rod through one earlobe and into the door. Such slaves will belong to you for life, whether they are men or women.
18Don't complain when you have to set a slave free. After all, you got six years of service at half the cost of hiring someone to do the work.

First-Born Animals
(Leviticus 27.26, 27; Numbers 18.15-18)

Moses said to Israel:
19If the first-born animal of a cow or sheep or goat is a male, it must be given to the LORD. Don't put first-born cattle to work or cut wool from first-born sheep. 20Instead, each year you must take the first-born of these animals to the place where the LORD your God chooses to be worshiped. You and your family will sacrifice them to the LORD and then eat them as part of a sacred meal.
21But if the animal is lame or blind or has something else wrong with it, you must not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. 22You can butcher it where you live, and eat it just like the meat of a deer or gazelle that you kill while hunting. Even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some. 23But you must never eat the blood of an animal--let it drain out on the ground.

(Exodus 12.1-20; Leviticus 23.4-8)

Moses said:
Deuteronomy 16 People of Israel, you must celebrate Passover in the month of Abib, because one night in that month years ago, the LORD your God rescued you from Egypt. 2The Passover sacrifice must be a cow, a sheep, or a goat, and you must offer it at the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. 3-4Eat all of the meat of the Passover sacrifice that same night. But don't serve bread made with yeast at the Passover meal. Serve the same kind of thin bread that you ate when you were slaves suffering in Egypt and when you had to leave Egypt quickly. As long as you live, this thin bread will remind you of the day you left Egypt.
For seven days following Passover, don't make any bread with yeast. In fact, there should be no yeast anywhere in Israel.
5Don't offer the Passover sacrifice in just any town where you happen to live. 6It must be offered at the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. Kill the sacrifice at sunset, the time of day when you left Egypt. 7Then cook it and eat it there at the place of worship, returning to your tents the next morning.
8Eat thin bread for the next six days. Then on the seventh day, don't do any work. Instead, come together and worship the LORD.

The Harvest Festival
(Exodus 34.22; Leviticus 23.15-21)

Moses said to Israel:
9Seven weeks after you start your grain harvest, 10-11go to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped and celebrate the Harvest Festival in honor of the LORD your God. Bring him an offering as large as you can afford, depending on how big a harvest he has given you. Be sure to take along your sons and daughters and all your servants. Also invite the poor, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. 12Remember that you used to be slaves in Egypt, so obey these laws.

The Festival of Shelters
(Leviticus 23.33-43; Numbers 29.12-38)

Moses said to Israel:
13-15After you have finished the grain harvest and the grape harvest, take your sons and daughters and all your servants to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. Celebrate the Festival of Shelters for seven days. Also invite the poor, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows.
The LORD will give you big harvests and make you successful in everything you do. You will be completely happy, so celebrate this festival in honor of the LORD your God.

Three Festivals at the Place of Worship
(Exodus 23.14-17)

Moses said:
16Each year there are three festivals when all Israelite men must go to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. These are the Festival of Thin Bread, the Harvest Festival, and the Festival of Shelters. And don't forget to take along a gift for the LORD. 17The bigger the harvest the LORD gives you, the bigger your gift should be.

Treat Everyone with Justice

Moses said to Israel:
18-19After you are settled in the towns that you will receive from the LORD your God, the people in each town must appoint judges and other officers. Those of you that become judges must be completely fair when you make legal decisions, even if someone important is involved. Don't take bribes to give unfair decisions. Bribes keep people who are wise from seeing the truth and turn honest people into liars.
20People of Israel, if you want to enjoy a long and successful life, make sure that everyone is treated with justice in the land the LORD is giving you.

Don't Set Up Sacred Poles or Stones

Moses said to Israel:
21When you build the altar for offering sacrifices to the LORD your God, don't set up a sacred pole for the worship of the goddess Asherah. 22And don't set up a sacred stone! The LORD hates these things.

Zophar's First Speech

So Much Foolish Talk

Job 11 Zophar from Naamah said:
2So much foolish talk cannot go unanswered.
3Your words have silenced others and made them ashamed;
now it is only right for you to be put to shame.
4You claim to be innocent and argue that your beliefs
are acceptable to God.
5But I wish he would speak 6and let you know
that wisdom has many different sides.
You would then discover that God has punished you less
than you deserve.

7Can you understand the mysteries
surrounding God All-Powerful?
8They are higher than the heavens and deeper than the grave.
So what can you do when you know so little,
9and these mysteries outreach the earth and the ocean?

10If God puts you in prison or drags you to court,
what can you do?
11God has the wisdom to know
when someone is worthless and sinful,
12but it's easier to tame a wild donkey
than to make a fool wise.

Surrender Your Heart to God

13Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer,
14and give up your sins-- even those you do in secret.
15Then you won't be ashamed;
you will be confident and fearless.
16Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge,
17and your darkest night will be brighter than noon.
18You will rest safe and secure,
filled with hope and emptied of worry.
19You will sleep without fear and be greatly respected.
20But those who are evil will go blind and lose their way.
Their only escape is death!

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

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