April 19 - Acts 7.23-8.1, Deuteronomy 31-32 and Job 19

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Acts 7 23When Moses was forty years old, he wanted to help the Israelites because they were his own people. 24One day he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of them. So he rescued the man and killed the Egyptian. 25Moses thought the rest of his people would realize that God was going to use him to set them free. But they didn't understand.
26The next day Moses saw two of his own people fighting, and he tried to make them stop. He said, "Men, you are both Israelites. Why are you so cruel to each other?"
27But the man who had started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked, "Who made you our ruler and judge? 28Are you going to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?" 29When Moses heard this, he ran away to live in the country of Midian. His two sons were born there.
30Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said, 32"I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Moses started shaking all over and didn't dare to look at the bush.
33The Lord said to him, "Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy. 34With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt."
35This was the same Moses that the people rejected by saying, "Who made you our leader and judge?" God's angel had spoken to Moses from the bush. And God had even sent the angel to help Moses rescue the people and be their leader.
36In Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the desert, Moses rescued the people by working miracles and wonders for forty years. 37Moses is the one who told the people of Israel, "God will choose one of your people to be a prophet, just as he chose me." 38Moses brought our people together in the desert, and the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai. There he was given these life-giving words to pass on to us. 39But our ancestors refused to obey Moses. They rejected him and wanted to go back to Egypt.
40The people said to Aaron, "Make some gods to lead us! Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don't know what's happened to him now." 41Then they made an idol in the shape of a calf. They offered sacrifices to the idol and were pleased with what they had done.
42God turned his back on his people and left them. Then they worshiped the stars in the sky, just as it says in the Book of the Prophets, "People of Israel, you didn't offer sacrifices and offerings to me during those forty years in the desert. 43Instead, you carried the tent where the god Molech is worshiped, and you took along the star of your god Rephan. You made those idols and worshiped them. So now I will have you carried off beyond Babylonia."
44The tent where our ancestors worshiped God was with them in the desert. This was the same tent that God had commanded Moses to make. And it was made like the model that Moses had seen. 45Later it was given to our ancestors, and they took it with them when they went with Joshua. They carried the tent along as they took over the land from those people that God had chased out for them. Our ancestors used this tent until the time of King David. 46 He pleased God and asked him if he could build a house of worship for the people of Israel. 47And it was finally King Solomon who built a house for God.
48But the Most High God doesn't live in houses made by humans. It is just as the prophet said, when he spoke for the Lord,

49"Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
In what place will I rest?
50I have made everything."
51You stubborn and hardheaded people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did. 52Is there one prophet that your ancestors didn't mistreat? They killed the prophets who told about the coming of the One Who Obeys God. And now you have turned against him and killed him. 53Angels gave you God's Law, but you still don't obey it.

Stephen Is Stoned to Death

54When the council members heard Stephen's speech, they were angry and furious. 55But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side. 56Then Stephen said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!"
57The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen 58and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, "Lord Jesus, please welcome me!" 60He knelt down and shouted, "Lord, don't blame them for what they have done." Then he died.
Acts 8 1-2Saul approved the stoning of Stephen. Some faithful followers of the Lord buried Stephen and mourned very much for him.

Joshua Is Appointed the Leader of Israel

Deuteronomy 31 Moses again spoke to the whole nation of Israel:
2I am a hundred twenty years old, and I am no longer able to be your leader. And besides that, the LORD your God has told me that he won't let me cross the Jordan River. 3-5But he has promised that he and Joshua will lead you across the Jordan to attack the nations that live on the other side. The LORD will destroy those nations just as he destroyed Sihon and Og, those two Amorite kings. Just remember--whenever you capture a place, kill everyone who lives there.
6Be brave and strong! Don't be afraid of the nations on the other side of the Jordan. The LORD your God will always be at your side, and he will never abandon you.
7Then Moses called Joshua up in front of the crowd and said:
Joshua, be brave and strong as you lead these people into their land. The LORD made a promise long ago to Israel's ancestors that this land would someday belong to Israel. That time has now come, and you must divide up the land among the people. 8The LORD will lead you into the land. He will always be with you and help you, so don't ever be afraid of your enemies.

Read These Laws

9Moses wrote down all of these laws and teachings and gave them to the priests and the leaders of Israel. The priests were from the Levi tribe, and they carried the sacred chest that belonged to the LORD. 10-11Moses told these priests and leaders:
Each year the Israelites must come together to celebrate the Festival of Shelters at the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. You must read these laws and teachings to the people at the festival every seventh year, the year when loans do not need to be repaid. 12-13Everyone must come--men, women, children, and even the foreigners who live in your towns. And each new generation will listen and learn to worship the LORD their God with fear and trembling and to do exactly what is said in God's Law.

Israel Will Reject the LORD

14The LORD told Moses, "You will soon die, so bring Joshua to the sacred tent, and I will appoint him the leader of Israel."
Moses and Joshua went to the sacred tent, 15and the LORD appeared in a thick cloud right over the entrance to the tent. 16The LORD said:
Moses, you will soon die. But Israel is going into a land where other gods are worshiped, and Israel will reject me and start worshiping these gods. The people will break the agreement I made with them, 17and I will be so furious that I will abandon them and ignore their prayers. I will send disasters and suffering that will nearly wipe them out. Finally, they will realize that the disasters happened because I abandoned them. 18They will pray to me, but I will ignore them because they were evil and started worshiping other gods.
19Moses and Joshua, I am going to give you the words to a new song. Write them down and teach the song to the Israelites. If they learn it, they will know what I want them to do, and so they will have no excuse for not obeying me. 20I am bringing them into the land that I promised their ancestors. It is a land rich with milk and honey, and the Israelites will have more than enough food to eat. But they will get fat and turn their backs on me and start worshiping other gods. The Israelites will reject me and break the agreement that I made with them.
21When I punish the Israelites and their descendants with suffering and disasters, I will remind them that they know the words to this song, so they have no excuse for not obeying me.
I will give them the land that I promised, but I know the way they are going to live later on.

22Moses wrote down the words to the song right away, and he taught it to the Israelites.
23The LORD told Joshua, "Be brave and strong! I will help you lead the people of Israel into the land that I have promised them."
24Moses wrote down all these laws and teachings in a book, 25then he went to the Levites who carried the sacred chest and said:
26This is The Book of God's Law. Keep it beside the sacred chest that holds the agreement the LORD your God made with Israel. This book is proof that you know what the LORD wants you to do. 27I know how stubborn and rebellious you and the rest of the Israelites are. You have rebelled against the LORD while I have been alive, and it will only get worse after I am gone. 28So call together the leaders and officials of the tribes of Israel. I will bring this book and read every word of it to you, and I will call the sky and the earth as witnesses that all of you know what you are supposed to do.
29I am going to die soon, and I know that in the future you will stop caring about what is right and what is wrong, and so you will disobey the LORD and stop living the way I told you to live. The LORD will be angry, and terrible things will happen to you.

The Song of Moses

30Moses called a meeting of all the people of Israel, so he could teach them the words to the song that the LORD had given him. And here are the words:
Deuteronomy 32 Earth and Sky, listen to what I say!
2Israel, I will teach you.
My words will be like gentle rain on tender young plants,
or like dew on the grass.

3Join with me in praising the wonderful name
of the LORD our God.
4The LORD is a mighty rock, and he never does wrong.
God can always be trusted to bring justice.
5But you lie and cheat and are unfaithful to him.
You have disgraced yourselves
and are no longer worthy to be his children.
6Israel, the LORD is your Father, the one who created you,
but you repaid him by being foolish.
7Think about past generations.
Ask your parents or any of your elders.
They will tell you 8that God Most High
gave land to every nation.
He assigned a guardian angel to each of them,
9but the LORD himself takes care of Israel.

10Israel, the LORD discovered you
in a barren desert filled with howling winds.
God became your fortress, protecting you
as though you were his own eyes.
11The LORD was like an eagle teaching its young to fly,
always ready to swoop down and catch them on its back.
12Israel, the LORD led you,
and without the aid of a foreign god,
13he helped you capture the land.
Your fields were rich with grain.
Olive trees grew in your stony soil,
and honey was found among the rocks.
14Your flocks and herds produced milk and yogurt,
and you got choice meat from your sheep and goats
that grazed in Bashan.
Your wheat was the finest,
and you drank the best wine.

15Israel, you grew fat and rebelled against God, your Creator;
you rejected the Mighty Rock, your only place of safety.
16You made God jealous and angry
by worshiping disgusting idols and foreign gods.
17You offered sacrifices to demons,
those useless gods that never helped you,
new gods that your ancestors never worshiped.
18You turned away from God, your Creator;
you forgot the Mighty Rock, the source of your life.
19You were the LORD's children, but you made him angry.
Then he rejected you 20and said,
"You are unfaithful and can't be trusted.
So I won't answer your prayers;
I'll just watch and see what happens to you.
21You worshiped worthless idols,
and made me jealous and angry!
Now I will send a cruel and worthless nation
to make you jealous and angry.

22"My people, I will breathe out fire
that sends you down to the world of the dead.
It will scorch your farmlands
and burn deep down under the mountains.
23I'll send disaster after disaster
to strike you like arrows.
24You'll be struck by starvation and deadly diseases,
by the fangs of wild animals and poisonous snakes.
25Young and old alike will be killed in the streets
and terrified at home.

26"I wanted to scatter you, so no one would remember
that you had ever lived.
27But I dreaded the sound of your enemies saying,
'We defeated Israel with no help from the LORD.' "

28People of Israel, that's what the LORD
has said to you.
But you don't have good sense,
and you never listen to advice.
29If you did, you could see where you are headed.
30How could one enemy soldier chase a thousand
of Israel's troops?
Or how could two of theirs
pursue ten thousand of ours?
It can only happen if the LORD stops protecting Israel
and lets the enemy win.
31Even our enemies know
that only our God is a Mighty Rock.

32Our enemies are grapevines
rooted in the fields of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The grapes they produce are full of bitter poison;
33their wine is more deadly than cobra venom.
34But the LORD has written a list of their sins
and locked it in his vault.
35Soon our enemies will get what they deserve --
suddenly they will slip, and total disaster
will quickly follow.
36When only a few of the LORD's people remain,
when their strength is gone, and some of them are slaves,
the LORD will feel sorry for them and give them justice.

37But first the LORD will say,
"You ran for safety to other gods--
couldn't they help you?
38You offered them wine and your best sacrifices.
Can't those gods help you now or give you protection?
39Don't you understand? I am the only God;
there are no others.
I am the one who takes life and gives it again.
I punished you with suffering. But now I will heal you,
and nothing can stop me!

40"I make this solemn promise: Just as I live forever,
41I will take revenge on my hateful enemies.
I will sharpen my sword
and let it flash like lightning.
42My arrows will get drunk on enemy blood;
my sword will taste the flesh and the blood
of the enemy.
It will kill prisoners,
and cut off the heads of their leaders."

43Tell the heavens to celebrate
and all gods to bow down to the LORD,
because he will take revenge on those hateful enemies
who killed his people.
He will forgive the sins of Israel
and purify their land.
44-45Moses spoke the words of the song so that all the Israelites could hear, and Joshua helped him. When Moses had finished, 46he said, "Always remember this song I have taught you today. And let it be a warning that you must teach your children to obey everything written in The Book of God's Law. 47The Law isn't empty words. It can give you a long life in the land that you are going to take."

Moses Will See the Land

48Later that day the LORD said to Moses:
49Go up into the Abarim Mountain range here in Moab across the Jordan River valley from Jericho. And when you reach the top of Mount Nebo, you will be able to see the land of Canaan, which I am giving to Israel. 50Then you will die and be buried on the mountaintop, just as your brother Aaron died and was buried on Mount Hor. 51Both of you were unfaithful to me at Meribah Spring near Kadesh in the Zin Desert. I am God, but there in front of the Israelites, you did not treat me with the honor and respect I deserve. 52So I will give the land to the people of Israel, but you will only get to see it from a distance.

Job's Reply to Bildad

How Long Will You Torture Me?

Job 19 Job said:
2How long will you torture me with your words?
3Isn't ten times enough for you to accuse me?
Aren't you ashamed?
4Even if I have sinned, you haven't been harmed.
5You boast of your goodness,
claiming I am suffering because I am guilty.
6But God is the one at fault for finding fault with me.

7Though I pray to be rescued from this torment,
no whisper of justice answers me.
8God has me trapped with a wall of darkness
9and stripped of respect.
10God rips me apart, uproots my hopes,
11and attacks with fierce anger,
as though I were his enemy.
12His entire army advances, then surrounds my tent.

I Am Forgotten

*13God has turned relatives and friends against me,
14and I am forgotten.
15My guests and my servants consider me a stranger,
16and when I call my servants, they pay no attention.
17My breath disgusts my wife;
everyone in my family turns away.
18Young children can't stand me,
and when I come near, they make fun.
19My best friends and loved ones have turned from me.
20I am skin and bones-- just barely alive.
21My friends, I beg you for pity!
God has made me his target.
22Hasn't he already done enough?
Why do you join the attack?

23I wish that my words could be written down
24or chiseled into rock.
25I know that my Savior lives,
and at the end he will stand on this earth.
26My flesh may be destroyed,
yet from this body I will see God.
27Yes, I will see him for myself,
and I long for that moment.

28My friends, you think up ways to blame and torment me,
saying I brought it on myself.
29But watch out for the judgment,
when God will punish you!

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

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