May 4 - Acts 16.1-15, Judges 2-3 and Job 34

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Timothy Works with Paul and Silas

Acts 16 Paul and Silas went back to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a follower named Timothy. His mother was also a follower. She was Jewish, and his father was Greek. 2The Lord's followers in Lystra and Iconium said good things about Timothy, 3and Paul wanted him to go with them. But Paul first had him circumcised, because all the Jewish people around there knew that Timothy's father was Greek.
4As Paul and the others went from city to city, they told the followers what the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem had decided, and they urged them to follow these instructions. 5The churches became stronger in their faith, and each day more people put their faith in the Lord.

Paul's Vision in Troas

6Paul and his friends went through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Spirit would not let them preach in Asia. 7After they arrived in Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not let them. 8So they went on through Mysia until they came to Troas.
9During the night, Paul had a vision of someone from Macedonia who was standing there and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" 10After Paul had seen the vision, we began looking for a way to go to Macedonia. We were sure that God had called us to preach the good news there.

Lydia Becomes a Follower of the Lord

11We sailed straight from Troas to Samothrace, and the next day we arrived in Neapolis. 12From there we went to Philippi, which is a Roman colony in the first district of Macedonia.
We spent several days in Philippi. 13Then on the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to a place by the river, where we thought there would be a Jewish meeting place for prayer. We sat down and talked with the women who came. 14One of them was Lydia, who was from the city of Thyatira and sold expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of the Lord God, and he made her willing to accept what Paul was saying. 15Then after she and her family were baptized, she kept on begging us, "If you think I really do have faith in the Lord, come stay in my home." Finally, we accepted her invitation.

The LORD's Angel Speaks to Israel

Judges 2 The LORD's angel went from Gilgal to Bochim and gave the Israelites this message from the LORD:
I promised your ancestors that I would give this land to their families, and I brought your people here from Egypt. We made an agreement that I promised never to break, 2and you promised not to make any peace treaties with the other nations that live in the land. Besides that, you agreed to tear down the altars where they sacrifice to their idols. But you didn't keep your promise.
3And so, I'll stop helping you defeat your enemies. Instead, they will be there to trap you into worshiping their idols.

4The Israelites started crying loudly, 5and they offered sacrifices to the LORD. From then on, they called that place "Crying."

Israel Stops Worshiping the LORD

6-9Joshua had been faithful to the LORD. And after Joshua sent the Israelites to take the land they had been promised, they remained faithful to the LORD until Joshua died at the age of one hundred ten. He was buried on his land in Timnath-Heres, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. Even though Joshua was gone, the Israelites were faithful to the LORD during the lifetime of those men who had been leaders with Joshua and who had seen the wonderful things the LORD had done for Israel.
10After a while the people of Joshua's generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things he had done for Israel. 11-13The LORD had brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they had worshiped him. But now the Israelites stopped worshiping the LORD and worshiped the idols of Baal and Astarte, as well as the idols of other gods from nearby nations.
The LORD was so angry 14-15at the Israelites that he let other nations raid Israel and steal their crops and other possessions. Enemies were everywhere, and the LORD always let them defeat Israel in battle. The LORD had warned Israel he would do this, and now the Israelites were miserable.

The LORD Chooses Leaders for Israel

16From time to time, the LORD would choose special leaders known as judges. These judges would lead the Israelites into battle and defeat the enemies that made raids on them. 17In years gone by, the Israelites had been faithful to the LORD, but now they were quick to be unfaithful and to refuse even to listen to these judges. The Israelites would disobey the LORD, and instead of worshiping him, they would worship other gods.
18When enemies made life miserable for the Israelites, the LORD would feel sorry for them. He would choose a judge and help that judge rescue Israel from its enemies. The LORD would be kind to Israel as long as that judge lived. 19But afterwards, the Israelites would become even more sinful than their ancestors had been. The Israelites were stubborn--they simply would not stop worshiping other gods or following the teachings of other religions.

The LORD Lets Enemies Test Israel

20The LORD was angry with Israel and said:
The Israelites have broken the agreement I made with their ancestors. They won't obey me, 21so I'll stop helping them defeat their enemies. Israel still had a lot of enemies when Joshua died, 22and I'm going to let those enemies stay. I'll use them to test Israel, because then I can find out if Israel will worship and obey me as their ancestors did.

23That's why the LORD had not let Joshua get rid of all those enemy nations right away.
Judges 3 1-2And the LORD had another reason for letting these enemies stay. The Israelites needed to learn how to fight in war, just as their ancestors had done. Each new generation would have to learn by fighting 3the Philistines and their five rulers, as well as the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites that lived in the Lebanon Mountains from Mount Baal-Hermon to Hamath Pass.
4Moses had told the Israelites what the LORD had commanded them to do, and now the LORD was using these nations to find out if Israel would obey. 5-6But they refused. And it was because of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites who lived all around them. Some of the Israelites married the people of these nations, and that's how they started worshiping foreign gods.


7The Israelites sinned against the LORD by forgetting him and worshiping idols of Baal and Astarte. 8This made the LORD angry, so he let Israel be defeated by King Cushan Rishathaim of northern Syria, who ruled Israel eight years and made everyone pay taxes. 9The Israelites begged the LORD for help, and he chose Othniel to rescue them. Othniel was the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz. 10The Spirit of the LORD took control of Othniel, and he led Israel in a war against Cushan Rishathaim. The LORD gave Othniel victory, 11and Israel was at peace until Othniel died about forty years later.


12Once more the Israelites started disobeying the LORD. So he let them be defeated by King Eglon of Moab, 13who had joined forces with the Ammonites and the Amalekites to attack Israel. Eglon and his army captured Jericho. 14Then he ruled Israel for eighteen years and forced the Israelites to pay heavy taxes.
15-16The Israelites begged the LORD for help, and the LORD chose Ehud from the Benjamin tribe to rescue them. They put Ehud in charge of taking the taxes to King Eglon, but before Ehud went, he made a double-edged dagger. Ehud was left-handed, so he strapped the dagger to his right thigh, where it would be hidden under his robes.
17-18Ehud and some other Israelites took the taxes to Eglon, who was a very fat man. As soon as they gave the taxes to Eglon, Ehud said it was time to go home.
19-20Ehud went with the other Israelites as far as the statues at Gilgal. Then he turned back and went upstairs to the cool room where Eglon had his throne. Ehud said, "Your Majesty, I need to talk with you in private."
Eglon replied, "Don't say anything yet!" His officials left the room, and Eglon stood up as Ehud came closer.
"Yes," Ehud said, "I have a message for you from God!" 21Ehud pulled out the dagger with his left hand and shoved it so far into Eglon's stomach 22-23that even the handle was buried in his fat. Ehud left the dagger there. Then after closing and locking the doors to the room, he climbed through a window onto the porch 24and left.
When the king's officials came back and saw that the doors were locked, they said, "The king is probably inside relieving himself." 25They stood there waiting until they felt foolish, but Eglon never opened the doors. Finally, they unlocked the doors and found King Eglon lying dead on the floor. 26But by that time, Ehud had already escaped past the statues.
Ehud went to the town of Seirah 27-28in the hill country of Ephraim and started blowing a signal on a trumpet. The Israelites came together, and he shouted, "Follow me! The LORD will help us defeat the Moabites."
The Israelites followed Ehud down to the Jordan valley, and they captured the places where people cross the river on the way to Moab. They would not let anyone go across, 29and before the fighting was over, they killed about ten thousand Moabite warriors--not one escaped alive.
30Moab was so badly defeated that it was a long time before they were strong enough to attack Israel again. And Israel was at peace for eighty years.


31Shamgar the son of Anath was the next to rescue Israel. In one battle, he used a sharp wooden pole to kill six hundred Philistines.

Elihu Continues

You Men Think You Are Wise

Job 34 Elihu said:
2You men think you are wise, but just listen to me!
3Think about my words, as you would taste food.
4Then we can decide the case and give a just verdict.
5Job claims he is innocent
and God is guilty of mistreating him.
6Job also argues that God considers him a liar
and that he is suffering severely in spite of his innocence.
7But to tell the truth, Job is shameless!
8He spends his time with sinners, 9because he has said,
"It doesn't pay to please God."

If Any of You Are Smart

10If any of you are smart, you will listen and learn
that God All-Powerful does what is right.
11God always treats everyone the way they deserve,
12and he is never unfair.
13From the very beginning, God has been in control
of all the world.

14If God took back the breath that he breathed into us,
15we humans would die and return to the soil.
16So be smart and listen!
17The mighty God is the one who brings about justice,
and you are condemning him.
18Indeed, God is the one who condemns unfair rulers.
19And God created us all; he has no favorites,
whether rich or poor.
20Even powerful rulers die in the darkness of night
when they least expect it, just like the rest of us.

God Watches Everything We Do

21God watches everything we do.
22No evil person can hide in the deepest darkness.
23And so, God doesn't need to set a time for judgment.
24Without asking for advice, God removes mighty leaders
and puts others in their place.
25He knows what they are like,
and he wipes them out in the middle of the night.
26And while others look on, he punishes them
because they were evil 27and refused to obey him.
28The persons they mistreated had prayed for help,
until God answered their prayers.
29When God does nothing,
can any person or nation find fault with him?
30But still, he punishes rulers who abuse their people.

31Job, you should tell God that you are guilty
and promise to do better.
32Then ask him to point out what you did wrong,
so you won't do it again.
33Do you make the rules, or does God?
You have to decide-- I can't do it for you;
now make up your mind.
34Job, anyone with good sense can easily see
35that you are speaking nonsense and lack good judgment.
36So I pray for you to suffer as much as possible
for talking like a sinner.
37You have rebelled against God, time after time,
and have even insulted us.

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

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