May 28 - Romans 3.9-31, 1 Samuel 12 and Psalm 57

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No One Is Good

Romans 3 9What does all this mean? Does it mean that we Jews are better off than the Gentiles? No, it doesn't! Jews, as well as Gentiles, are ruled by sin, just as I have said. 10The Scriptures tell us,
"No one is acceptable to God!
11Not one of them understands
or even searches for God.
12They have all turned away and are worthless.
There isn't one person who does right.
13Their words are like an open pit,
and their tongues are good only for telling lies.
Each word is as deadly as the fangs of a snake,
14and they say nothing but bitter curses.
15These people quickly become violent.
16Wherever they go, they leave ruin and destruction.
17They don't know how to live in peace.
18They don't even fear God."
19We know that everything in the Law was written for those who are under its power. The Law says these things to stop anyone from making excuses and to let God show that the whole world is guilty. 20God doesn't accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin.

God's Way of Accepting People

21Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn't by obeying the Law of Moses. 22God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. 23All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. 24But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. 25-26God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life's blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus.
27What is left for us to brag about? Not a thing! Is it because we obeyed some law? No! It is because of faith. 28We see that people are acceptable to God because they have faith, and not because they obey the Law. 29Does God belong only to the Jews? Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, he is! 30There is only one God, and he accepts Gentiles as well as Jews, simply because of their faith. 31Do we destroy the Law by our faith? Not at all! We make it even more powerful.

Samuel's Farewell Speech

1 Samuel 12 Samuel told the Israelites:
I have given you a king, just as you asked. 2You have seen how I have led you ever since I was a young man. I'm already old. My hair is gray, and my own sons are grown. Now you must see how well your king will lead you.
3Let me ask this. Have I ever taken anyone's ox or donkey or forced you to give me anything? Have I ever hurt anyone or taken a bribe to give an unfair decision? Answer me so the LORD and his chosen king can hear you. And if I have done any of these things, I will give it all back.

4"No," the Israelites answered. "You've never cheated us in any way!"
5Samuel said, "The LORD and his chosen king are witnesses to what you have said."
"That's true," they replied.
6Then Samuel told them:
The LORD brought your ancestors out of Egypt and chose Moses and Aaron to be your leaders. 7Now the LORD will be your judge. So stand here and listen, while I remind you how often the LORD has saved you and your ancestors from your enemies.
8After Jacob went to Egypt, your ancestors cried out to the LORD for help, and he sent Moses and Aaron. They led your ancestors out of Egypt and had them settle in this land. 9But your ancestors forgot the LORD, so he let them be defeated by the Philistines, the king of Moab, and Sisera, the commander of Hazor's army.
10Again your ancestors cried out to the LORD for help. They said, "We have sinned! We stopped worshiping you, our LORD, and started worshiping Baal and Astarte. But now, if you rescue us from our enemies, we will worship you."
11The LORD sent Gideon, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel to rescue you from your enemies, and you didn't have to worry about being attacked. 12Then you saw that King Nahash of Ammon was going to attack you. And even though the LORD your God is your king, you told me, "This time it's different. We want a king to rule us!"
13You asked for a king, and you chose one. Now he stands here where all of you can see him. But it was really the LORD who made him your king. 14If you and your king want to be followers of the LORD, you must worship him and do what he says. Don't be stubborn! 15If you're stubborn and refuse to obey the LORD, he will turn against you and your king.
16Just stand here and watch the LORD show his mighty power. 17Isn't this the dry season? I'm going to ask the LORD to send a thunderstorm. When you see it, you will realize how wrong you were to ask for a king.

18Samuel prayed, and that same day the LORD sent a thunderstorm. Everyone was afraid of the LORD and of Samuel. 19They told Samuel, "Please, pray to the LORD your God for us! We don't want to die. We have sinned many times in the past, and we were very wrong to ask for a king."
20Samuel answered:
Even though what you did was wrong, you don't need to be afraid. But you must always follow the LORD and worship him with all your heart. 21Don't worship idols! They don't have any power, and they can't help you or save you when you're in trouble. 22But the LORD has chosen you to be his own people. He will always take care of you so that everyone will know how great he is.
23I would be disobeying the LORD if I stopped praying for you! I will always teach you how to live right. 24You also must obey the LORD--you must worship him with all your heart and remember the great things he has done for you. 25But if you and your king do evil, the LORD will wipe you out.

Psalm 57
[For the music leader. To the tune "Don't Destroy." A special psalm by David when he was in the cave while running from Saul.]
Praise and Trust in Times of Trouble

1God Most High, have pity on me! Have mercy.
I run to you for safety.
In the shadow of your wings,
I seek protection till danger dies down.
2I pray to you, my protector.
3You will send help from heaven and save me,
but you will bring trouble on my attackers.
You are faithful, and you can be trusted.

4I live among lions, who gobble down people!
They have spears and arrows instead of teeth,
and they have sharp swords instead of tongues.

5May you, my God, be honored above the heavens;
may your glory be seen everywhere on earth.

6Enemies set traps for my feet and struck me down.
They dug a pit in my path, but fell in it themselves.
7I am faithful to you, and you can trust me.
I will sing and play music for you, my God.
8I feel wide awake! I will wake up my harp
and wake up the sun.
9I will praise you, Lord, for everyone to hear,
and I will sing hymns to you in every nation.
10Your love reaches higher than the heavens;
your loyalty extends beyond the clouds.

11May you, my God, be honored above the heavens;
may your glory be seen everywhere on earth.

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

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