April 22 - Acts 9.1-25, Joshua 3.1-5.1 and Job 22

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Saul Becomes a Follower of the Lord
(Acts 22.6-16; 26.12-18)

Acts 9 Saul kept on threatening to kill the Lord's followers. He even went to the high priest 2and asked for letters to their leaders in Damascus. He did this because he wanted to arrest and take to Jerusalem any man or woman who had accepted the Lord's Way. 3When Saul had almost reached Damascus, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice that said, "Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?"
5"Who are you?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus," the Lord answered. "I am the one you are so cruel to. 6Now get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do."
7The men with Saul stood there speechless. They had heard the voice, but they had not seen anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, and when he opened his eyes, he could not see a thing. Someone then led him by the hand to Damascus, 9and for three days he was blind and did not eat or drink.
10A follower named Ananias lived in Damascus, and the Lord spoke to him in a vision. Ananias answered, "Lord, here I am."
11The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the house of Judas on Straight Street. When you get there, you will find a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus. Saul is praying, 12and he has seen a vision. He saw a man named Ananias coming to him and putting his hands on him, so that he could see again."
13Ananias replied, "Lord, a lot of people have told me about the terrible things this man has done to your followers in Jerusalem. 14Now the chief priests have given him the power to come here and arrest anyone who worships in your name."
15The Lord said to Ananias, "Go! I have chosen him to tell foreigners, kings, and the people of Israel about me. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for worshiping in my name."
17Ananias left and went into the house where Saul was staying. Ananias placed his hands on him and said, "Saul, the Lord Jesus has sent me. He is the same one who appeared to you along the road. He wants you to be able to see and to be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18Suddenly something like fish scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see. He got up and was baptized. 19Then he ate and felt much better.

Saul Preaches in Damascus

For several days Saul stayed with the Lord's followers in Damascus. 20Soon he went to the Jewish meeting places and started telling people that Jesus is the Son of God. 21Everyone who heard Saul was amazed and said, "Isn't this the man who caused so much trouble for those people in Jerusalem who worship in the name of Jesus? Didn't he come here to arrest them and take them to the chief priests?"
22Saul preached with such power that he completely confused the Jewish people in Damascus, as he tried to show them that Jesus is the Messiah.
23Later some of them made plans to kill Saul, 24but he found out about it. He learned that they were guarding the gates of the city day and night in order to kill him. 25Then one night his followers let him down over the city wall in a large basket.

Israel Crosses the Jordan River

Joshua 3 Early the next morning, Joshua and the Israelites packed up and left Acacia. They went to the Jordan River and camped there that night. 2Two days later their leaders went through the camp, 3-4shouting, "When you see some of the priests carrying the sacred chest, you'll know it is time to cross to the other side. You've never been there before, and you won't know the way, unless you follow the chest. But don't get too close! Stay about half a mile back."
5Joshua told the people, "Make yourselves acceptable to worship the LORD, because he is going to do some amazing things for us."
6Then Joshua turned to the priests and said, "Take the chest and cross the Jordan River ahead of us." So the priests picked up the chest by its carrying poles and went on ahead.
7The LORD told Joshua, "Beginning today I will show the people that you are their leader, and they will know that I am helping you as I helped Moses. 8Now, tell the priests who are carrying the chest to go a little way into the river and stand there."
9Joshua spoke to the people:
Come here and listen to what the LORD our God said he will do! 10The Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites control the land on the other side of the river. But the living God will be with you and will force them out of the land when you attack. And now, God is going to prove that he's powerful enough to force them out. 11-13Just watch the sacred chest that belongs to the LORD, the ruler of the whole earth. As soon as the priests carrying the chest step into the Jordan, the water will stop flowing and pile up as if someone had built a dam across the river.
The LORD has also said that each of the twelve tribes should choose one man to represent it.

14The Israelites packed up and left camp. The priests carrying the chest walked in front, 15until they came to the Jordan River. The water in the river had risen over its banks, as it often does in springtime. But as soon as the feet of the priests touched the water, 16-17the river stopped flowing, and the water started piling up at the town of Adam near Zarethan. No water flowed toward the Dead Sea, and the priests stood in the middle of the dry riverbed near Jericho while everyone else crossed over.

The People Set Up a Monument

Joshua 4 After Israel had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua:
2-3Tell one man from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a large rock from where the priests are standing. Then have the men set up those rocks as a monument at the place where you camp tonight.

4Joshua chose twelve men; he called them together, 5and told them:
Go to the middle of the riverbed where the sacred chest is, and pick up a large rock. Carry it on your shoulder to our camp. There are twelve of you, so there will be one rock for each tribe. 6-7Someday your children will ask, "Why are these rocks here?" Then you can tell them how the water stopped flowing when the chest was being carried across the river. These rocks will always remind our people of what happened here today.

8The men followed the instructions that the LORD had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down.
9Joshua had some other men set up a monument next to the place where the priests were standing. This monument was also made of twelve large rocks, and it is still there in the middle of the river.

The People of Israel Set Up Camp at Gilgal

10-13The army got ready for battle and crossed the Jordan. They marched quickly past the sacred chest and into the desert near Jericho. Forty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh led the way, as Moses had ordered.
The priests stayed right where they were until the army had followed the orders that the LORD had given Moses and Joshua. Then the army watched as the priests carried the chest the rest of the way across.
14-18"Joshua," the LORD said, "have the priests come up from the Jordan and bring the chest with them." So Joshua went over to the priests and told them what the LORD had said. And as soon as the priests carried the chest past the highest place that the floodwaters of the Jordan had reached, the river flooded its banks again.
That's how the LORD showed the Israelites that Joshua was their leader. For the rest of Joshua's life, they respected him as they had respected Moses.
19It was the tenth day of the first month of the year when Israel crossed the Jordan River. They set up camp at Gilgal, which was east of the land controlled by Jericho. 20The men who had carried the twelve rocks from the Jordan brought them to Joshua, and they made them into a monument. 21Then Joshua told the people:
Years from now your children will ask you why these rocks are here. 22-23Tell them, "The LORD our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across. He did the same thing here for us that he did for our people at the Red Sea, 24because he wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him."

Joshua 5 The Amorite kings west of the Jordan River and the Canaanite kings along the Mediterranean Sea lost their courage and their will to fight, when they heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan River to let Israel go across.

Eliphaz's Third Speech

What Use Are We Humans to God?

Job 22 Eliphaz from Teman said:
2What use are we humans to God, even the wisest of us?
3If you were completely sinless,
that would still mean nothing to God All-Powerful.
4Is he correcting you for worshiping him?
5No! It's because of your terrible sins.
6To guarantee payment of a debt,
you have taken clothes from the poor.
7And you refused bread and water to the hungry and thirsty,
8although you were rich, respected, and powerful.
9You have turned away widows
and have broken the arms of orphans.
10That's why you were suddenly trapped by terror,
11blinded by darkness, and drowned in a flood.

God Lives in the Heavens

12God lives in the heavens above the highest stars,
where he sees everything.
13Do you think the deep darkness hides you from God?
14Do thick clouds cover his eyes,
as he walks around heaven's dome high above the earth?
15Give up those ancient ideas believed by sinners,
16who were swept away without warning.
17They rejected God All-Powerful, feeling he was helpless,
18although he had been kind to their families.
The beliefs of these sinners are truly disgusting.
19When God's people see the godless swept away,
they celebrate, 20saying, "Our enemies are gone,
and fire has destroyed their possessions."

Surrender to God All-Powerful

21Surrender to God All-Powerful!
You will find peace and prosperity.
22Listen to his teachings and take them to heart.
23If you return to God and turn from sin,
all will go well for you.
24So get rid of your finest gold, as though it were sand.
25Let God All-Powerful be your silver and gold,
26and you will find happiness by worshiping him.
27God will answer your prayers,
and you will keep the promises you made to him.
28He will do whatever you ask, and life will be bright.
29When others are disgraced, God will clear their names
in answer to your prayers.
30Even those who are guilty will be forgiven,
because you obey God.

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

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