May 21 - Acts 27.1-12, 1 Samuel 2.12-36 and Psalm 50

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Paul Is Taken to Rome

Acts 27 When it was time for us to sail to Rome, Captain Julius from the Emperor's special troops was put in charge of Paul and the other prisoners. 2We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium that was about to sail to some ports along the coast of Asia. Aristarchus from Thessalonica in Macedonia sailed on the ship with us.
3The next day we came to shore at Sidon. Captain Julius was very kind to Paul. He even let him visit his friends, so they could give him whatever he needed. 4When we left Sidon, the winds were blowing against us, and we sailed close to the island of Cyprus to be safe from the wind. 5Then we sailed south of Cilicia and Pamphylia until we came to the port of Myra in Lycia. 6There the army captain found a ship from Alexandria that was going to Italy. So he ordered us to board that ship.
7We sailed along slowly for several days and had a hard time reaching Cnidus. The wind would not let us go any farther in that direction, so we sailed past Cape Salmone, where the island of Crete would protect us from the wind. 8We went slowly along the coast and finally reached a place called Fair Havens, not far from the town of Lasea.
9By now we had already lost a lot of time, and sailing was no longer safe. In fact, even the Great Day of Forgiveness was past. 10Then Paul spoke to the crew of the ship, "Men, listen to me! If we sail now, our ship and its cargo will be badly damaged, and many lives will be lost." 11But Julius listened to the captain of the ship and its owner, rather than to Paul.
12The harbor at Fair Havens wasn't a good place to spend the winter. Because of this, almost everyone agreed that we should at least try to sail along the coast of Crete as far as Phoenix. It had a harbor that opened toward the southwest and northwest, and we could spend the winter there.

Eli's Sons

1 Samuel 2 12-13Eli's sons were priests, but they were dishonest and refused to obey the LORD. So, while people were boiling the meat from their sacrifices, these priests would send over a servant with a large, three-pronged fork. 14The servant would stick the fork into the cooking pot, and whatever meat came out on the fork was taken back to the priests. That is how these two priests treated every Israelite who came to offer sacrifices in Shiloh. 15Sometimes, when people were offering sacrifices, the servant would come over, even before the fat had been cut off and sacrificed to the LORD.
Then the servant would tell them, "The priest doesn't want his meat boiled! Give him some raw meat that he can roast!"
16Usually the people answered, "Take what you want. But first, let us sacrifice the fat to the LORD."
"No," the servant would reply. "If you don't give it to me now, I'll take it by force."
17Eli's sons did not show any respect for the sacrifices that the people offered. This was a terrible sin, and it made the LORD very angry.

Hannah Visits Samuel

18The boy Samuel served the LORD and wore a special linen garment 19and the clothes his mother made for him. She would bring new clothes every year, when she and her husband came to offer sacrifices at Shiloh.
20Eli would always bless Elkanah and his wife and say, "Samuel was born in answer to your prayers. Now you have given him to the LORD. I pray that the LORD will bless you with more children to take his place." After Eli had blessed them, Elkanah and Hannah would return home.
21The LORD was kind to Hannah, and she had three more sons and two daughters. But Samuel grew up at the LORD's house in Shiloh.

Eli Warns His Sons

22Eli was now very old, and he heard what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. 23-24"Why are you doing these awful things?" he asked them. "I've been hearing nothing but complaints about you from all of the LORD's people. 25If you harm another person, God can help make things right between the two of you. But if you commit a crime against the LORD, no one can help you!"
But the LORD had already decided to kill them. So he kept them from listening to their father.

A Prophet Speaks to Eli

26Each day the LORD and his people liked Samuel more and more.
27One day a prophet came to Eli and gave him this message from the LORD:
When your ancestors were slaves of the king of Egypt, I came and showed them who I am. 28-29Out of all the tribes of Israel, I chose your family to be my priests. I wanted them to offer sacrifices and burn incense to me and to find out from me what I want my people to do. I commanded everyone to bring their sacrifices here where I live, and I allowed you and your family to keep those that were not offered to me on the altar.
But you honor your sons instead of me! You don't respect the sacrifices and offerings that are brought to me, and you've all gotten fat from eating the best parts.
30I am the LORD, the God of Israel. I promised to always let your family serve me as priests, but now I tell you that I cannot do this any longer! I honor anyone who honors me, but I put a curse on anyone who hates me. 31The time will come when I will kill you and everyone else in your family. Not one of you will live to an old age.
32Your family will have a lot of trouble. I will be kind to Israel, but everyone in your family will die young. 33If I let anyone from your family be a priest, his life will be full of sadness and sorrow. But most of the men in your family will die a violent death! 34To prove to you that I will do these things, your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will die on the same day.
35I have chosen someone else to be my priest, someone who will be faithful and obey me. I will always let his family serve as priests and help my chosen king. 36But if anyone is left from your family, he will come to my priest and beg for money or a little bread. He may even say to my priest, "Please let me be a priest, so I will at least have something to eat."

Psalm 50
[A psalm by Asaph.]
What Pleases God

1From east to west, the powerful LORD God
has been calling together everyone on earth.
2God shines brightly from Zion, the most beautiful city.

3Our God approaches, but not silently;
a flaming fire comes first, and a storm surrounds him.
4God comes to judge his people.
He shouts to the heavens and to the earth,
5"Call my followers together! They offered me a sacrifice,
and we made an agreement."

6The heavens announce, "God is the judge,
and he is always honest."

7My people, I am God! Israel, I am your God.
Listen to my charges against you.
8Although you offer sacrifices and always bring gifts,
9I won't accept your offerings of bulls and goats.

10Every animal in the forest belongs to me,
and so do the cattle on a thousand hills.
11I know all the birds in the mountains,
and every wild creature is in my care.

12If I were hungry, I wouldn't tell you,
because I own the world and everything in it.
13I don't eat the meat of bulls or drink the blood of goats.
14I am God Most High! The only sacrifice I want
is for you to be thankful and to keep your word.
15Pray to me in time of trouble.
I will rescue you, and you will honor me.

16But to the wicked I say:
"You don't have the right to mention my laws
or claim to keep our agreement!
17You refused correction and rejected my commands.
18You made friends with every crook you met,
and you liked people who break their wedding vows.
19You talked only about violence and told nothing but lies;
20you sat around gossiping,
ruining the reputation of your own relatives."

21When you did all of this, I didn't say a word,
and you thought, "God is just like us!"
But now I will accuse you.
22You have ignored me! So pay close attention
or I will tear you apart, and no one can help you.

23The sacrifice that honors me is a thankful heart.
Obey me,
and I, your God, will show my power to save.

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

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