May 19 - Acts 26.1-18, Ruth 3-4 and Psalm 48
Paul's Defense before AgrippaActs 26 Agrippa told Paul, "You may now speak for yourself."
Paul stretched out his hand and said:
2King Agrippa, I am glad for this chance to defend myself before you today on all these charges that my own people have brought against me. 3You know a lot about our religious customs and the beliefs that divide us. So I ask you to listen patiently to me.
4-5All the Jews have known me since I was a child. They know what kind of life I have lived in my own country and in Jerusalem. And if they were willing, they could tell you that I was a Pharisee, a member of a group that is stricter than any other. 6Now I am on trial because I believe the promise God made to our people long ago.
7Day and night our twelve tribes have earnestly served God, waiting for his promised blessings. King Agrippa, because of this hope, some of their leaders have brought charges against me. 8Why should any of you doubt that God raises the dead to life?
9I once thought that I should do everything I could to oppose Jesus from Nazareth. 10I did this first in Jerusalem, and with the authority of the chief priests I put many of God's people in jail. I even voted for them to be killed. 11I often had them punished in our meeting places, and I tried to make them give up their faith. In fact, I was so angry with them, that I went looking for them in foreign cities.
12King Agrippa, one day I was on my way to Damascus with the authority and permission of the chief priests. 13About noon I saw a light brighter than the sun. It flashed from heaven on me and on everyone traveling with me. 14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice say to me in Aramaic, "Saul, Saul, why are you so cruel to me? It's foolish to fight against me!"
15"Who are you?" I asked.
Then the Lord answered, "I am Jesus! I am the one you are so cruel to. 16Now stand up. I have appeared to you, because I have chosen you to be my servant. You are to tell others what you have learned about me and what I will show you later."
17The Lord also said, "I will protect you from the Jews and from the Gentiles that I am sending you to. 18I want you to open their eyes, so that they will turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then their sins will be forgiven, and by faith in me they will become part of God's holy people."
Naomi Makes Plans for RuthRuth 3 One day, Naomi said to Ruth:
It's time I found you a husband, who will give you a home and take care of you.
2You have been picking up grain alongside the women who work for Boaz, and you know he is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be threshing the grain. 3Now take a bath and put on some perfume, then dress in your best clothes. Go where he is working, but don't let him see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4Watch where he goes to spend the night, then when he is asleep, lift the cover and lie down at his feet. He will tell you what to do.
5Ruth answered, "I'll do whatever you say." 6She went out to the place where Boaz was working and did what Naomi had told her.
7After Boaz finished eating and drinking and was feeling happy, he went over and fell asleep near the pile of grain. Ruth slipped over quietly. She lifted the cover and lay down near his feet.
8In the middle of the night, Boaz suddenly woke up and was shocked to see a woman lying at his feet. 9"Who are you?" he asked.
"Sir, I am Ruth," she answered, "and you are the relative who is supposed to take care of me. So spread the edge of your cover over me."
The LORD bless you! This shows how truly loyal you are to your family. You could have looked for a younger man, either rich or poor, but you didn't. 11Don't worry, I'll do what you have asked. You are respected by everyone in town.
12It's true that I am one of the relatives who is supposed to take care of you, but there is someone who is an even closer relative. 13Stay here until morning, then I will find out if he is willing to look after you. If he isn't, I promise by the living God to do it myself. Now go back to sleep until morning.
14Ruth lay down again, but she got up before daylight, because Boaz did not want anyone to know she had been there. 15Then he told her to spread out her cape. And he filled it with a lot of grain and placed it on her shoulder.
When Ruth got back to town, 16Naomi asked her what had happened, and Ruth told her everything. 17She also said, "Boaz gave me this grain, because he didn't want me to come back without something for you."
18Naomi replied, "Just be patient and don't worry about what will happen. He won't rest until everything is settled today!"
Ruth and Boaz Get MarriedRuth 4 In the meanwhile, Boaz had gone to the meeting place at the town gate and was sitting there when the other close relative came by. So Boaz invited him to come over and sit down, and he did. 2Then Boaz got ten of the town leaders and also asked them to sit down. After they had sat down, 3he said to the man:
Naomi has come back from Moab and is selling the land that belonged to her husband Elimelech. 4I am telling you about this, since you are his closest relative and have the right to buy the property. If you want it, you can buy it now. These ten men and the others standing here can be witnesses. But if you don't want the property, let me know, because I am next in line.
The man replied, "I will buy it!"
5"If you do buy it from Naomi," Boaz told him, "you must also marry Ruth. Then if you have a son by her, the property will stay in the family of Ruth's first husband."
6The man answered, "If that's the case, I don't want to buy it! That would make problems with the property I already own. You may buy it yourself, because I cannot."
7To make a sale legal in those days, one person would take off a sandal and give it to the other. 8So after the man had agreed to let Boaz buy the property, he took off one of his sandals and handed it to Boaz.
9Boaz told the town leaders and everyone else:
All of you are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi the property that belonged to Elimelech and his two sons, Chilion and Mahlon. 10You are also witnesses that I have agreed to marry Mahlon's widow Ruth, the Moabite woman. This will keep the property in his family's name, and he will be remembered in this town.
11The town leaders and the others standing there said:
We are witnesses to this. And we pray that the LORD will give your wife many children, just as he did Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob. May you be a rich man in the tribe of Ephrath and an important man in Bethlehem. 12May the children you have by this young woman make your family as famous as the family of Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.
13Boaz married Ruth, and the LORD blessed her with a son. 14After his birth, the women said to Naomi:
Praise the LORD! Today he has given you a grandson to take care of you. We pray that the boy will grow up to be famous everywhere in Israel. 15He will make you happy and take care of you in your old age, because he is the son of your daughter-in-law. And she loves you more than seven sons of your own would love you.
16Naomi loved the boy and took good care of him. 17The neighborhood women named him Obed, but they called him "Naomi's Boy."
When Obed grew up he had a son named Jesse, who later became the father of King David. 18-22Here is a list of the ancestors of David: Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahshon, Amminadab, Ram, Hezron, and Perez.
1The LORD God is wonderful! He deserves all praise
in the city where he lives.
His holy mountain, 2beautiful and majestic,
brings joy to all on earth.
Mount Zion, truly sacred, is home for the Great King.
3God is there to defend it
and has proved to be its protector.
4Kings joined forces to attack the city,
5but when they saw it,
they were terrified and ran away.
6They trembled all over like women giving birth
7or like seagoing ships wrecked by eastern winds.
8We had heard about it, and now we have seen it
in the city of our God, the LORD All-Powerful.
This is the city that God will let stand forever.
9Our God, here in your temple we think about your love.
10You are famous and praised everywhere on earth,
as you win victories with your powerful arm.
11Mount Zion will celebrate, and all Judah will be glad,
because you bring justice.
12Let's walk around Zion and count its towers.
13We will see its strong walls and visit each fortress.
Then you can say to future generations,
14"Our God is like this forever and will always guide us."
This reading is from The
Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American
Bible Society, 1995.
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