May 9 - Acts 19.1-20, Judges 10.1-11.33 and Job 39

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Paul in Ephesus

Acts 19 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled across the hill country to Ephesus, where he met some of the Lord's followers. 2He asked them, "When you put your faith in Jesus, were you given the Holy Spirit?"
"No!" they answered. "We have never even heard of the Holy Spirit."
3"Then why were you baptized?" Paul asked.
They answered, "Because of what John taught."
4Paul replied, "John baptized people so that they would turn to God. But he also told them that someone else was coming, and that they should put their faith in him. Jesus is the one that John was talking about." 5After the people heard Paul say this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6Then Paul placed his hands on them. The Holy Spirit was given to them, and they spoke unknown languages and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in this group.
8For three months Paul went to the Jewish meeting place and talked bravely with the people about God's kingdom. He tried to win them over, 9but some of them were stubborn and refused to believe. In front of everyone they said terrible things about God's Way. Paul left and took the followers with him to the lecture hall of Tyrannus. He spoke there every day 10for two years, until every Jew and Gentile in Asia had heard the Lord's message.

The Sons of Sceva

11God gave Paul the power to work great miracles. 12People even took handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul's body, and they carried them to everyone who was sick. All of the sick people were healed, and the evil spirits went out.
13Some Jewish men started going around trying to force out evil spirits by using the name of the Lord Jesus. They said to the spirits, "Come out in the name of that same Jesus that Paul preaches about!"
14Seven sons of a high priest named Sceva were doing this, 15when an evil spirit said to them, "I know Jesus! And I have heard about Paul. But who are you?" 16Then the man with the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them up. They ran out of the house, naked and bruised.
17When the Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus heard about this, they were so frightened that they praised the name of the Lord Jesus. 18Many who were followers now started telling everyone about the evil things they had been doing. 19Some who had been practicing witchcraft even brought their books and burned them in public. These books were worth about fifty thousand silver coins. 20So the Lord's message spread and became even more powerful.


Judges 10 Tola was the next person to rescue Israel. He belonged to the Issachar tribe, but he lived in Shamir, a town in the hill country of Ephraim. His father was Puah, and his grandfather was Dodo. 2Tola was a leader of Israel for twenty-three years, then he died and was buried in Shamir.


3The next leader of Israel was Jair, who lived in Gilead. He was a leader for twenty-two years. 4He had thirty sons, and each son had his own mule and was in charge of one town in Gilead. Those thirty towns are still called The Settlements of Jair. 5When he died, he was buried in the town of Kamon.

Israel Is Unfaithful Again

6Before long, the Israelites began disobeying the LORD by worshiping Baal, Astarte, and gods from Syria, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.
7The LORD was angry at Israel and decided to let Philistia and Ammon conquer them. 8So the same year that Jair died, Israel's army was crushed by these two nations. For eighteen years, Ammon was cruel to the Israelites who lived in Gilead, the region east of the Jordan River that had once belonged to the Amorites. 9Then the Ammonites began crossing the Jordan and attacking the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Life was miserable for the Israelites. 10They begged the LORD for help and confessed, "We were unfaithful to you, our LORD. We stopped worshiping you and started worshiping idols of Baal."
11-12The LORD answered:
In the past when you came crying to me for help, I rescued you. At one time or another I've rescued you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites. 13-14But I'm not going to rescue you any more! You've left me and gone off to worship other gods. If you're in such big trouble, go cry to them for help!

15"We have been unfaithful," the Israelites admitted. "If we must be punished, do it yourself, but please rescue us from the Ammonites."
16Then the Israelites got rid of the idols of the foreign gods, and they began worshiping only the LORD. Finally, there came a time when the LORD could no longer stand to see them suffer.

The Ammonites Invade Gilead

17The rulers of Ammon called their soldiers together and led them to Gilead, where they set up camp.
The Israelites gathered at Mizpah and set up camp there. 18The leaders of Gilead asked each other, "Who can lead an attack on the Ammonites?" Then they agreed, "If we can find someone who can lead the attack, we'll make him the ruler of Gilead."


Judges 11 1-5The leaders of the Gilead clan decided to ask a brave warrior named Jephthah son of Gilead to lead the attack against the Ammonites.
Even though Jephthah belonged to the Gilead clan, he had earlier been forced to leave the region where they had lived. Jephthah was the son of a prostitute, but his half-brothers were the sons of his father's wife.
One day his half-brothers told him, "You don't really belong to our family, so you can't have any of the family property." Then they forced Jephthah to leave home.
Jephthah went to the country of Tob, where he was joined by a number of men who would do anything for money.
So the leaders of Gilead went to Jephthah and said, 6"Please come back to Gilead! If you lead our army, we will be able to fight off the Ammonites."
7"Didn't you hate me?" Jephthah replied. "Weren't you the ones who forced me to leave my family? You're coming to me now, just because you're in trouble."
8"But we do want you to come back," the leaders said. "And if you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we will make you the ruler of Gilead."
9"All right," Jephthah said. "If I go back with you and the LORD lets me defeat the Ammonites, will you really make me your ruler?"
10"You have our word," the leaders answered. "And the LORD is a witness to what we have said."
11So Jephthah went back to Mizpah with the leaders of Gilead. The people of Gilead gathered at the place of worship and made Jephthah their ruler. Jephthah also made promises to them.
12After the ceremony, Jephthah sent messengers to say to the king of Ammon, "Are you trying to start a war? You have invaded my country, and I want to know why!"
13The king of Ammon replied, "Tell Jephthah that the land really belongs to me, all the way from the Arnon River in the south, to the Jabbok River in the north, and west to the Jordan River. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they stole it. Tell Jephthah to return it to me, and there won't be any war."
14Jephthah sent the messengers back to the king of Ammon, 15and they told him that Jephthah had said:
Israel hasn't taken any territory from Moab or Ammon. 16When the Israelites came from Egypt, they traveled in the desert to the Red Sea and then to Kadesh. 17They sent messengers to the king of Edom and said, "Please, let us go through your country." But the king of Edom refused. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he wouldn't let them cross his country either. And so the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.
18A little later, the Israelites set out into the desert, going east of Edom and Moab, and camping on the eastern side of the Arnon River gorge. The Arnon is the eastern border of Moab, and since the Israelites didn't cross it, they didn't even set foot in Moab.
19The Israelites sent messengers to the Amorite King Sihon of Heshbon. "Please," they said, "let our people go through your country to get to our own land."
20Sihon didn't think the Israelites could be trusted, so he called his army together. They set up camp at Jahaz, then they attacked the Israelite camp. 21But the LORD God helped Israel defeat Sihon and his army. Israel took over all of the Amorite land where Sihon's people had lived, 22from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north, and from the desert in the east to the Jordan River in the west.

23The messengers also told the king of Ammon that Jephthah had said:
The LORD God of Israel helped his nation get rid of the Amorites and take their land. Now do you think you're going to take over that same territory? 24If Chemosh your god takes over a country and gives it to you, don't you have a right to it? And if the LORD takes over a country and gives it to us, the land is ours!
25Are you better than Balak the son of Zippor? He was the king of Moab, but he didn't quarrel with Israel or start a war with us.
26For three hundred years, Israelites have been living in Heshbon and Aroer and the nearby villages, and in the towns along the Arnon River gorge. If the land really belonged to you Ammonites, you wouldn't have waited until now to try to get it back.
27I haven't done anything to you, but it's certainly wrong of you to start a war. I pray that the LORD will show whether Israel or Ammon is in the right.

28But the king of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah's message.
29Then the LORD's Spirit took control of Jephthah, and Jephthah went through Gilead and Manasseh, raising an army. Finally, he arrived at Mizpah in Gilead, where 30he promised the LORD, "If you will let me defeat the Ammonites 31and come home safely, I will sacrifice to you whoever comes out to meet me first."
32From Mizpah, Jephthah attacked the Ammonites, and the LORD helped him defeat them.
33Jephthah and his army destroyed the twenty towns between Aroer and Minnith, and others as far as Abel-Keramim. After that, the Ammonites could not invade Israel any more.

The LORD Continues

When Do Mountain Goats Give Birth?

Job 39 When do mountain goats and deer give birth?
Have you been there when their young are born?
*2How long are they pregnant 3before they deliver?
4Soon their young grow strong and then leave
to be on their own.

5Who set wild donkeys free?
6I alone help them survive in salty desert sand.
7They stay far from crowded cities and refuse to be tamed.
8Instead, they roam the hills, searching for pastureland.

9Would a wild ox agree to live in your barn
and labor for you?
10Could you force him to plow or to drag a heavy log
to smooth out the soil?
11Can you depend on him to use his great strength
and do your heavy work?
12Can you trust him to harvest your grain
or take it to your barn from the threshing place?

An Ostrich Proudly Flaps Her Wings

13An ostrich proudly flaps her wings,
but not because she loves her young.
14She abandons her eggs
and lets the dusty ground keep them warm.
15And she doesn't seem to worry
that the feet of an animal could crush them all.
16She treats her eggs as though they were not her own,
unconcerned that her work might be for nothing.
17I myself made her foolish and without common sense.
18But once she starts running,
she laughs at a rider on the fastest horse.

Did You Give Horses Their Strength?

19Did you give horses their strength
and the flowing hair along their necks?
20Did you make them able to jump like grasshoppers
or to frighten people with their snorting?

21Before horses are ridden into battle,
they paw at the ground, proud of their strength.
22Laughing at fear, they rush toward the fighting,
23while the weapons of their riders
rattle and flash in the sun.
24Unable to stand still, they gallop eagerly into battle
when trumpets blast.
25Stirred by the distant smells and sounds of war,
they snort in reply to the trumpet.

26Did you teach hawks to fly south for the winter?
*27Did you train eagles to build 28their nests on rocky cliffs,
29where they can look down to spot their next meal?
30Then their young gather to feast wherever the victim lies.

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

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