May 27 - Romans 2.1-3.8, 1 Samuel 10.17-11.15 and Psalm 56

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God's Judgment Is Fair

Romans 2 Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things. 2We know that God is right to judge everyone who behaves in this way. 3Do you really think God won't punish you, when you behave exactly like the people you accuse? 4You surely don't think much of God's wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don't you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him?
5But you are stubborn and refuse to turn to God. So you are making things even worse for yourselves on that day when he will show how angry he is and will judge the world with fairness. 6God will reward each of us for what we have done. 7He will give eternal life to everyone who has patiently done what is good in the hope of receiving glory, honor, and life that lasts forever. 8But he will show how angry and furious he can be with every selfish person who rejects the truth and wants to do evil. 9All who are wicked will be punished with trouble and suffering. It doesn't matter if they are Jews or Gentiles. 10But all who do right will be rewarded with glory, honor, and peace, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 11God doesn't have any favorites!
12Those people who don't know about God's Law will still be punished for what they do wrong. And the Law will be used to judge everyone who knows what it says. 13God accepts those who obey his Law, but not those who simply hear it.
14Some people naturally obey the Law's commands, even though they don't have the Law. 15This proves that the conscience is like a law written in the human heart. And it will show whether we are forgiven or condemned, 16when God has Jesus Christ judge everyone's secret thoughts, just as my message says.

The Jews and the Law

17Some of you call yourselves Jews. You trust in the Law and take pride in God. 18By reading the Scriptures you learn how God wants you to behave, and you discover what is right. 19You are sure that you are a guide for the blind and a light for all who are in the dark. 20And since there is knowledge and truth in God's Law, you think you can instruct fools and teach young people.
21But how can you teach others when you refuse to learn? You preach that it is wrong to steal. But do you steal? 22You say people should be faithful in marriage. But are you faithful? You hate idols, yet you rob their temples. 23You take pride in the Law, but you disobey the Law and bring shame to God. 24It is just as the Scriptures tell us, "You have made foreigners say insulting things about God."
25Being circumcised is worthwhile, if you obey the Law. But if you don't obey the Law, you are no better off than people who are not circumcised. 26In fact, if they obey the Law, they are as good as anyone who is circumcised. 27So everyone who obeys the Law, but has never been circumcised, will condemn you. Even though you are circumcised and have the Law, you still don't obey its teachings.
28Just because you live like a Jew and are circumcised doesn't make you a real Jew. 29To be a real Jew you must obey the Law. True circumcision is something that happens deep in your heart, not something done to your body. And besides, you should want praise from God and not from humans.
Romans 3 What good is it to be a Jew? What good is it to be circumcised? 2It is good in a lot of ways! First of all, God's messages were spoken to the Jews. 3It is true that some of them did not believe the message. But does this mean that God cannot be trusted, just because they did not have faith? 4No, indeed! God tells the truth, even if everyone else is a liar. The Scriptures say about God,
"Your words will be proven true,
and in court you will win your case."
5If our evil deeds show how right God is, then what can we say? Is it wrong for God to become angry and punish us? What a foolish thing to ask. 6But the answer is, "No." Otherwise, how could God judge the world? 7Since your lies bring great honor to God by showing how truthful he is, you may ask why God still says you are a sinner. 8You might as well say, "Let's do something evil, so that something good will come of it!" Some people even claim that we are saying this. But God is fair and will judge them as well.

The LORD Shows Israel that Saul Will Be King

1 Samuel 10 17Samuel sent messengers to tell the Israelites to come to Mizpah and meet with the LORD. 18When everyone had arrived, Samuel said:
The LORD God of Israel told me to remind you that he had rescued you from the Egyptians and from the other nations that abused you.
19God has rescued you from your troubles and hard times. But you have rejected your God and have asked for a king. Now each tribe and clan must come near the place of worship so the LORD can choose a king.

20Samuel brought each tribe, one after the other, to the altar, and the LORD chose the Benjamin tribe. 21Next, Samuel brought each clan of Benjamin there, and the LORD chose the Matri clan. Finally, Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.
22The people prayed, "Our LORD, is Saul here?"
"Yes," the LORD answered, "he is hiding behind the baggage."
23The people ran and got Saul and brought him into the middle of the crowd. He was more than a head taller than anyone else. 24"Look closely at the man the LORD has chosen!" Samuel told the crowd. "There is no one like him!"
The crowd shouted, "Long live the king!"
25Samuel explained the rights and duties of a king and wrote them all in a book. He put the book in a temple building at one of the places where the LORD was worshiped. Then Samuel sent everyone home.
26God had encouraged some young men to become followers of Saul, and when he returned to his hometown of Gibeah, they went with him. 27But some worthless fools said, "How can someone like Saul rescue us from our enemies?" They did not want Saul to be their king, and so they didn't bring him any gifts. But Saul kept calm.

Saul Rescues the Town of Jabesh in Gilead

1 Samuel 11 About this time, King Nahash of Ammon came with his army and surrounded the town of Jabesh in Gilead. The people who lived there told Nahash, "If you will sign a peace treaty with us, you can be our ruler, and we will pay taxes to you."
2Nahash answered, "Sure, I'll sign a treaty! But not before I insult Israel by poking out the right eye of every man who lives in Jabesh."
3The town leaders said, "Give us seven days so we can send messengers everywhere in Israel to ask for help. If no one comes here to save us, we will surrender to you."
4Some of the messengers went to Gibeah, Saul's hometown. They told what was happening at Jabesh, and everyone in Gibeah started crying. 5Just then, Saul came in from the fields, walking behind his oxen.
"Why is everyone crying?" Saul asked.
They told him what the men from Jabesh had said. 6Then the Spirit of God suddenly took control of Saul and made him furious. 7Saul killed two of his oxen, cut them up in pieces, and gave the pieces to the messengers. He told them to show the pieces to everyone in Israel and say, "Saul and Samuel are getting an army together. Come and join them. If you don't, this is what will happen to your oxen!"
The LORD made the people of Israel terribly afraid. So all the men came together 8at Bezek. Saul had them organized and counted. There were three hundred thousand from Israel and thirty thousand from Judah.
9Saul and his officers sent the messengers back to Jabesh with this promise: "We will rescue you tomorrow afternoon." The messengers went back to the people at Jabesh and told them that they were going to be rescued.
Everyone was encouraged! 10So they told the Ammonites, "We will surrender to you tomorrow, and then you can do whatever you want to."
11The next day, Saul divided his army into three groups and attacked before daylight. They started killing Ammonites and kept it up until afternoon. A few Ammonites managed to escape, but they were scattered far from each other.
12The Israelite soldiers went to Samuel and demanded, "Where are the men who said they didn't want Saul to be king? Bring them to us, and we will put them to death!"
13"No you won't!" Saul told them. "The LORD rescued Israel today, and no one will be put to death."

Saul Is Accepted as King

14"Come on!" Samuel said. "Let's go to Gilgal and make an agreement that Saul will continue to be our king."
15Everyone went to the place of worship at Gilgal, where they agreed that Saul would be their king. Saul and the people sacrificed animals to ask for the LORD's blessing, and they had a big celebration.

Psalm 56
[For the music leader. To the tune "A Silent Dove in the Distance." A special psalm by David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.]
A Prayer of Trust in God

1Have pity, God Most High!
My enemies chase me all day.
2Many of them are pursuing and attacking me,
3but even when I am afraid, I keep on trusting you.
4I praise your promises! I trust you and am not afraid.
No one can harm me.

5Enemies spend the whole day finding fault with me;
all they think about is how to do me harm.
6They attack from ambush,
watching my every step and hoping to kill me.
7They won't get away with these crimes, God,
because when you get angry, you destroy people.

8You have kept record of my days of wandering.
You have stored my tears in your bottle
and counted each of them.

9When I pray, LORD God, my enemies will retreat,
because I know for certain that you are with me.
10I praise your promises!
11I trust you and am not afraid. No one can harm me.

12I will keep my promises to you, my God,
and bring you gifts.
13You protected me from death
and kept me from stumbling, so that I would please you
and follow the light that leads to life.

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

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