May 12 - Acts 20.17-38, Judges 14-15 and Job 42
Paul Says Good-By to the Church Leaders of EphesusActs 20 17From Miletus, Paul sent a message for the church leaders at Ephesus to come and meet with him. 18When they got there, he said:
You know everything I did during the time I was with you when I first came to Asia. 19Some of the Jews plotted against me and caused me a lot of sorrow and trouble. But I served the Lord and was humble. 20When I preached in public or taught in your homes, I didn't hold back from telling anything that would help you. 21I told Jews and Gentiles to turn to God and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22I don't know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God's Spirit and go there. 23In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. 24But I don't care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God's great kindness.
25I have gone from place to place, preaching to you about God's kingdom, but now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26I tell you today that I am no longer responsible for any of you! 27I have told you everything God wants you to know. 28Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God's church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son.
29I know that after I am gone, others will come like fierce wolves to attack you. 30Some of your own people will tell lies to win over the Lord's followers. 31Be on your guard! Remember how day and night for three years I kept warning you with tears in my eyes.
32I now place you in God's care. Remember the message about his great kindness! This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God's people. 33I have never wanted anyone's money or clothes. 34You know how I have worked with my own hands to make a living for myself and my friends. 35By everything I did, I showed how you should work to help everyone who is weak. Remember that our Lord Jesus said, "More blessings come from giving than from receiving."
36After Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him. 38They were especially sad because Paul had told them, "You will never see me again."
Then they went with him to the ship.
Samson Gets MarriedJudges 14 One day, Samson went to Timnah, where he saw a Philistine woman. 2When he got back home, he told his parents, "I saw a Philistine woman in Timnah, and I want to marry her. Get her for me!"
3His parents answered, "There are a lot of women in our clan and even more in the rest of Israel. Those Philistines are pagans. Why would you want to marry one of their women?"
"She looks good to me," Samson answered. "Get her for me!"
4At that time, the Philistines were in control of Israel, and the LORD wanted to stir up trouble for them. That's why he made Samson desire that woman.
5As Samson and his parents reached the vineyards near Timnah, a fierce young lion suddenly roared and attacked Samson. 6But the LORD's Spirit took control of Samson, and with his bare hands he tore the lion apart, as though it had been a young goat. His parents didn't know what he had done, and he didn't tell them.
7When they got to Timnah, Samson talked to the woman, and he was sure that she was the one for him.
8Later, Samson returned to Timnah for the wedding. And when he came near the place where the lion had attacked, he left the road to see what was left of the lion. He was surprised to see that bees were living in the lion's skeleton, and that they had made some honey. 9He scooped up the honey in his hands and ate some of it as he walked along. When he got back to his parents, he gave them some of the honey, and they ate it too. But he didn't tell them he had found the honey in the skeleton of a lion.
10While Samson's father went to make the final arrangements with the bride and her family, Samson threw a big party, as grooms usually did. 11When the Philistines saw what Samson was like, they told thirty of their young men to stay with him at the party.
12Samson told the thirty young men, "This party will last for seven days. Let's make a bet: I'll tell you a riddle, and if you can tell me the right answer before the party is over, I'll give each one of you a shirt and a full change of clothing. 13But if you can't tell me the answer, then each of you will have to give me a shirt and a full change of clothing."
"It's a bet!" the Philistines said. "Tell us the riddle."
Once so strong and mighty-- now so sweet and tasty!
Three days went by, and the Philistine young men had not come up with the right answer. 15Finally, on the seventh day of the party they went to Samson's bride and said, "You had better trick your husband into telling you the answer to his riddle. Have you invited us here just to rob us? If you don't find out the answer, we will burn you and your family to death."
16Samson's bride went to him and started crying in his arms. "You must really hate me," she sobbed. "If you loved me at all, you would have told me the answer to your riddle."
"But I haven't even told my parents the answer!" Samson replied. "Why should I tell you?"
17For the entire seven days of the party, she had been whining and trying to get the answer from him. But that seventh day she put so much pressure on Samson that he finally gave in and told her the answer. She went straight to the young men and told them.
18Before sunset that day, the men of the town went to Samson with this answer:
A lion is the strongest--
honey is the sweetest!
This answer you have given me
doubtless came from my bride-to-be.
19Then the LORD's Spirit took control of Samson. He went to Ashkelon, where he killed thirty men and took their clothing. Samson then gave it to the thirty young men at Timnah and stormed back home to his own family.
20The father of the bride had Samson's wife marry one of the thirty young men that had been at Samson's party.
Judges 15 Later, during the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit the young woman he thought was still his wife. He brought along a young goat as a gift and said to her father, "I want to go into my wife's bedroom."
"You can't do that," he replied. 2"When you left the way you did, I thought you were divorcing her. So I arranged for her to marry one of the young men who were at your party. But my younger daughter is even prettier, and you can have her as your wife."
3"This time," Samson answered, "I have a good reason for really hurting some Philistines."
Samson Takes Revenge4Samson went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them together in pairs with oil-soaked rags around their tails. 5Then Samson took the foxes into the Philistine wheat fields that were ready to be harvested. He set the rags on fire and let the foxes go. The wheat fields went up in flames, and so did the stacks of wheat that had already been cut. Even the Philistine vineyards and olive orchards burned.
6Some of the Philistines started asking around, "Who could have done such a thing?"
"It was Samson," someone told them. "He married the daughter of that man in Timnah, but then the man gave Samson's wife to one of the men at the wedding."
The Philistine leaders went to Timnah and burned to death Samson's wife and her father.
7When Samson found out what they had done, he went to them and said, "You killed them! And I won't rest until I get even with you." 8Then Samson started hacking them to pieces with his sword.
Samson left Philistia and went to live in the cave at Etam Rock. 9But it wasn't long before the Philistines invaded Judah and set up a huge army camp at Jawbone.
10The people of Judah asked, "Why have you invaded our land?"
The Philistines answered, "We've come to get Samson. We're going to do the same things to him that he did to our people."
11Three thousand men from Judah went to the cave at Etam Rock and said to Samson, "Don't you know that the Philistines rule us, and they will punish us for what you did?"
"I was only getting even with them," Samson replied. "They did the same things to me first."
12"We came here to tie you up and turn you over to them," said the men of Judah.
"I won't put up a fight," Samson answered, "but you have to promise not to hurt me yourselves."
13-14"We promise," the men said. "We will only tie you up and turn you over to the Philistines. We won't kill you." Then they tied up his hands and arms with two brand-new ropes and led him away from Etam Rock.
When the Philistines saw that Samson was being brought to their camp at Jawbone, they started shouting and ran toward him. But the LORD's Spirit took control of Samson, and Samson broke the ropes, as though they were pieces of burnt cloth. 15Samson glanced around and spotted the jawbone of a donkey. The jawbone had not yet dried out, so it was still hard and heavy. Samson grabbed it and started hitting Philistines--he killed a thousand of them! 16After the fighting was over, he made up this poem about what he had done to the Philistines:
I used a donkey's jawbone to kill a thousand men;
I beat them with this jawbone over and over again.
17Samson tossed the jawbone on the ground and decided to call the place Jawbone Hill. It is still called that today.
18Samson was so thirsty that he prayed, "Our LORD, you helped me win a battle against a whole army. Please don't let me die of thirst now. Those heathen Philistines will carry off my dead body."
19Samson was tired and weary, but God sent water gushing from a rock. Samson drank some and felt strong again.
Samson named the place Caller Spring, because he had called out to God for help. The spring is still there at Jawbone.
20Samson was a leader of Israel for twenty years, but the Philistines were still the rulers of Israel.
Job's Reply to the LORD
No One Can Oppose YouJob 42 Job said:
2No one can oppose you, because you have the power
to do what you want.
3You asked why I talk so much when I know so little.
I have talked about things
that are far beyond my understanding.
4You told me to listen and answer your questions.
5I heard about you from others;
now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6That's why I hate myself and sit here in dust and ashes
to show my sorrow.
The LORD Corrects Job's Friends7The LORD said to Eliphaz:
What my servant Job has said about me is true, but I am angry at you and your two friends for not telling the truth. 8So I want you to go over to Job and offer seven bulls and seven goats on an altar as a sacrifice to please me. After this, Job will pray, and I will agree not to punish you for your foolishness.
9Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar obeyed the LORD, and he answered Job's prayer.
A Happy Ending10After Job had prayed for his three friends, the LORD made Job twice as rich as he had been before. 11Then Job gave a feast for his brothers and sisters and for his old friends. They expressed their sorrow for the suffering the LORD had brought on him, and they each gave Job some silver and a gold ring.
12The LORD now blessed Job more than ever; he gave him fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand pair of oxen, and a thousand donkeys.
13In addition to seven sons, Job had three daughters, 14whose names were Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren Happuch. 15They were the most beautiful women in that part of the world, and Job gave them shares of his property, along with their brothers.
16Job lived for another one hundred forty years--long enough to see his great-grandchildren have children of their own--17and when he finally died, he was very old.
This reading is from The
Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American
Bible Society, 1995.
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