May 22 - Acts 27.13-44, 1 Samuel 3 and Psalm 51

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The Storm at Sea

Acts 27 13When a gentle wind from the south started blowing, the men thought it was a good time to do what they had planned. So they pulled up the anchor, and we sailed along the coast of Crete. 14But soon a strong wind called "The Northeaster" blew against us from the island. 15The wind struck the ship, and we could not sail against it. So we let the wind carry the ship.
16We went along the island of Cauda on the side that was protected from the wind. We had a hard time holding the lifeboat in place, 17but finally we got it where it belonged. Then the sailors wrapped ropes around the ship to hold it together. They lowered the sail and let the ship drift along, because they were afraid it might hit the sandbanks in the gulf of Syrtis.
18The storm was so fierce that the next day they threw some of the ship's cargo overboard. 19Then on the third day, with their bare hands they threw overboard some of the ship's gear. 20For several days we could not see either the sun or the stars. A strong wind kept blowing, and we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21Since none of us had eaten anything for a long time, Paul stood up and told the men:
You should have listened to me! If you had stayed on in Crete, you would not have had this damage and loss. 22But now I beg you to cheer up, because you will be safe. Only the ship will be lost.
23I belong to God, and I worship him. Last night he sent an angel 24to tell me, "Paul, don't be afraid! You will stand trial before the Emperor. And because of you, God will save the lives of everyone on the ship." 25Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly what he promised. 26But we will first be shipwrecked on some island.

27For fourteen days and nights we had been blown around over the Mediterranean Sea. But about midnight the sailors realized that we were getting near land. 28They measured and found that the water was about one hundred twenty feet deep. A little later they measured again and found it was only about ninety feet. 29The sailors were afraid that we might hit some rocks, and they let down four anchors from the back of the ship. Then they prayed for daylight.
30The sailors wanted to escape from the ship. So they lowered the lifeboat into the water, pretending that they were letting down an anchor from the front of the ship. 31But Paul said to Captain Julius and the soldiers, "If the sailors don't stay on the ship, you won't have any chance to save your lives." 32The soldiers then cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall into the sea.
33Just before daylight Paul begged the people to eat something. He told them, "For fourteen days you have been so worried that you haven't eaten a thing. 34I beg you to eat something. Your lives depend on it. Do this and not one of you will be hurt."
35After Paul had said this, he took a piece of bread and gave thanks to God. Then in front of everyone, he broke the bread and ate some. 36They all felt encouraged, and each of them ate something. 37There were 276 people on the ship, 38and after everyone had eaten, they threw the cargo of wheat into the sea to make the ship lighter.

The Shipwreck

39Morning came, and the ship's crew saw a coast that they did not recognize. But they did see a cove with a beach. So they decided to try to run the ship aground on the beach. 40They cut the anchors loose and let them sink into the sea. At the same time they untied the ropes that were holding the rudders. Next, they raised the sail at the front of the ship and let the wind carry the ship toward the beach. 41But it ran aground on a sandbank. The front of the ship stuck firmly in the sand, and the rear was being smashed by the force of the waves.
42The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming away and escaping. 43But Captain Julius wanted to save Paul's life, and he did not let the soldiers do what they had planned. Instead, he ordered everyone who could swim to dive into the water and head for shore. 44Then he told the others to hold on to planks of wood or parts of the ship. At last, everyone safely reached shore.

The LORD Speaks to Samuel

1 Samuel 3 1-2Samuel served the LORD by helping Eli the priest, who was by that time almost blind. In those days, the LORD hardly ever spoke directly to people, and he did not appear to them in dreams very often. But one night, Eli was asleep in his room, 3and Samuel was sleeping on a mat near the sacred chest in the LORD's house. They had not been asleep very long 4when the LORD called out Samuel's name.
"Here I am!" Samuel answered. 5Then he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am. What do you want?"
"I didn't call you," Eli answered. "Go back to bed."
Samuel went back.
6Again the LORD called out Samuel's name. Samuel got up and went to Eli. "Here I am," he said. "What do you want?"
Eli told him, "Son, I didn't call you. Go back to sleep."
7The LORD had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice. 8When the LORD called out his name for the third time, Samuel went to Eli again and said, "Here I am. What do you want?"
Eli finally realized that it was the LORD who was speaking to Samuel. 9So he said, "Go back and lie down! If someone speaks to you again, answer, 'I'm listening, LORD. What do you want me to do?' "
Once again Samuel went back and lay down.
10The LORD then stood beside Samuel and called out as he had done before, "Samuel! Samuel!"
"I'm listening," Samuel answered. "What do you want me to do?"
11The LORD said:
Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it! 12I will punish Eli and his family, just as I promised. 13He knew that his sons refused to respect me, and he let them get away with it, even though I said I would punish his family forever. 14I warned Eli that sacrifices or offerings could never make things right! His family has done too many disgusting things.

15The next morning, Samuel got up and opened the doors to the LORD's house. He was afraid to tell Eli what the LORD had said. 16But Eli told him, "Samuel, my boy, come here!"
"Here I am," Samuel answered.
17Eli said, "What did God say to you? Tell me everything. I pray that God will punish you terribly if you don't tell me every word he said!"
18Samuel told Eli everything. Then Eli said, "He is the LORD, and he will do what's right."

The LORD Helps Samuel

19As Samuel grew up, the LORD helped him and made everything Samuel said come true. 20From the town of Dan in the north to the town of Beersheba in the south, everyone in the country knew that Samuel was truly the LORD's prophet. 21The LORD often appeared to Samuel at Shiloh and told him what to say.

Psalm 51
[For the music leader. A psalm by David when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had been with Bathsheba.]
A Prayer for Forgiveness

1You are kind, God! Please have pity on me.
You are always merciful! Please wipe away my sins.
2Wash me clean from all of my sin and guilt.
3I know about my sins,
and I cannot forget my terrible guilt.
4You are really the one I have sinned against;
I have disobeyed you and have done wrong.
So it is right and fair for you
to correct and punish me.

5I have sinned and done wrong since the day I was born.
6But you want complete honesty,
so teach me true wisdom.
7Wash me with hyssop
until I am clean and whiter than snow.
8Let me be happy and joyful!
You crushed my bones, now let them celebrate.
9Turn your eyes from my sin and cover my guilt.
10Create pure thoughts in me
and make me faithful again.
11Don't chase me away from you
or take your Holy Spirit away from me.

12Make me as happy as you did when you saved me;
make me want to obey!
13I will teach sinners your Law,
and they will return to you.
14Keep me from any deadly sin. Only you can save me!
Then I will shout and sing about your power to save.

15Help me to speak, and I will praise you, Lord.
16Offerings and sacrifices are not what you want.
17The way to please you
is to feel sorrow deep in our hearts.
This is the kind of sacrifice you won't refuse.

18Please be willing, Lord, to help the city of Zion
and to rebuild its walls.
19Then you will be pleased with the proper sacrifices,
and we will offer bulls on your altar once again.

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

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