June 9 - Romans 14, 1 Samuel 26 and Psalm 69

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Don't Criticize Others

Romans 14 Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. 2Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. 3But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. 4What right do you have to criticize someone else's servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.
5Some of the Lord's followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. 6Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honor their Lord. And any followers who eat meat give thanks to God, just like the ones who don't eat meat.
7Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. 8Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. 9This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. 10Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us. 11In the Scriptures God says,
"I swear by my very life
that everyone will kneel down and praise my name!"
12And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do.

Don't Cause Problems for Others

13We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone's faith. 14The Lord Jesus has made it clear to me that God considers all foods fit to eat. But if you think some foods are unfit to eat, then for you they are not fit.
15If you are hurting others by the foods you eat, you are not guided by love. Don't let your appetite destroy someone Christ died for. 16Don't let your right to eat bring shame to Christ. 17God's kingdom isn't about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. 19We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith.
20Don't let your appetite destroy what God has done. All foods are fit to eat, but it is wrong to cause problems for others by what you eat. 21It is best not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that causes problems for other followers of the Lord. 22What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God. You are fortunate, if your actions don't make you have doubts. 23But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs. And you know that is wrong, because anything you do against your beliefs is sin.

David Again Lets Saul Live

1 Samuel 26 Once again, some people from Ziph went to Gibeah to talk with Saul. "David has a hideout on Mount Hachilah near Jeshimon out in the desert," they told him.
2Saul took three thousand of Israel's best soldiers and went to look for David there in Ziph Desert. 3Saul set up camp on Mount Hachilah, which is across the road from Jeshimon. But David was hiding out in the desert.
When David heard that Saul was following him, 4he sent some spies to find out if it was true. 5Then he sneaked up to Saul's camp. He noticed that Saul and his army commander Abner the son of Ner were sleeping in the middle of the camp, with soldiers sleeping all around them. 6David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Joab's brother Abishai, "Which one of you will go with me into Saul's camp?"
"I will!" Abishai answered.
7That same night, David and Abishai crept into the camp. Saul was sleeping, and his spear was stuck in the ground not far from his head. Abner and the soldiers were sound asleep all around him.
8Abishai whispered, "This time God has let you get your hands on your enemy! I'll pin him to the ground with one thrust of his own spear."
9"Don't kill him!" David whispered back. "The LORD will punish anyone who kills his chosen king. 10As surely as the LORD lives, the LORD will kill Saul, or Saul will die a natural death or be killed in battle. 11But I pray that the LORD will keep me from harming his chosen king. Let's grab his spear and his water jar and get out of here!"
12David took the spear and the water jar, then left the camp. None of Saul's soldiers knew what had happened or even woke up--the LORD had made all of them fall sound asleep. 13David and Abishai crossed the valley and went to the top of the next hill, where they were at a safe distance. 14"Abner!" David shouted toward Saul's army. "Can you hear me?"
Abner shouted back. "Who dares disturb the king?"
15"Abner, what kind of a man are you?" David replied. "Aren't you supposed to be the best soldier in Israel? Then why didn't you protect your king? Anyone who went into your camp could have killed him tonight. 16You're a complete failure! I swear by the living LORD that you and your men deserve to die for not protecting the LORD's chosen king. Look and see if you can find the king's spear and the water jar that were near his head."
17Saul could tell it was David's voice, and he called out, "David, my son! Is that you?"
"Yes it is, Your Majesty. 18Why are you after me? Have I done something wrong, or have I committed a crime? 19Please listen to what I have to say. If the LORD has turned you against me, maybe a sacrifice will make him change his mind. But if some people have turned you against me, I hope the LORD will punish them! They have forced me to leave the land that belongs to the LORD and have told me to worship foreign gods. 20Don't let me die in a land far away from the LORD. I'm no more important than a flea! Why should the king of Israel hunt me down as if I were a bird in the mountains?"
21"David, you had the chance to kill me today. But you didn't. I was very wrong about you. It was a terrible mistake for me to try to kill you. I've acted like a fool, but I'll never try to harm you again. You're like a son to me, so please come back."
22"Your Majesty, here's your spear! Have one of your soldiers come and get it. 23The LORD put you in my power today, but you are his chosen king and I wouldn't harm you. The LORD rewards people who are faithful and live right. 24I saved your life today, and I pray that the LORD will protect me and keep me safe."
25"David, my son, I pray that the Lord will bless you and make you successful!"

Psalm 69
[By David for the music leader. To the tune "Lilies."]
God Can Be Trusted

1Save me, God! I am about to drown.
2I am sinking deep in the mud, and my feet are slipping.
I am about to be swept under by a mighty flood.
3I am worn out from crying, and my throat is dry.
I have waited for you till my eyes are blurred.

4There are more people who hate me for no reason
than there are hairs on my head.
Many terrible enemies want to destroy me, God.
Am I supposed to give back something I didn't steal?
5You know my foolish sins. Not one is hidden from you.

6LORD God All-Powerful, ruler of Israel,
don't let me embarrass anyone
who trusts and worships you.
7It is for your sake alone
that I am insulted and blush with shame.
8I am like a stranger to my relatives
and like a foreigner to my own family.

9My love for your house burns in me like a fire,
and when others insulted you,
they insulted me as well.
10I cried and went without food,
but they still insulted me.
11They sneered at me for wearing sackcloth
to show my sorrow.
12Rulers and judges gossip about me,
and drunkards make up songs to mock me.

13But I pray to you, LORD.
So when the time is right, answer me
and help me with your wonderful love.
14Don't let me sink in the mud,
but save me from my enemies
and from the deep water.
15Don't let me be swept away by a flood
or drowned in the ocean or swallowed by death.

16Answer me, LORD! You are kind and good.
Pay attention to me! You are truly merciful.
17Don't turn away from me.
I am your servant, and I am in trouble.
Please hurry and help!
18Come and save me from my enemies.

19You know how I am insulted, mocked, and disgraced;
you know every one of my enemies.
20I am crushed by insults, and I feel sick.
I had hoped for mercy and pity, but there was none.
21Enemies poisoned my food,
and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar.

22Make their table a trap for them and their friends.
23Blind them with darkness and make them tremble.
24Show them how angry you are!
Be furious and catch them.
25Destroy their camp
and don't let anyone live in their tents.

26They cause trouble for people you have already punished;
their gossip hurts those you have wounded.
27Make them guiltier than ever and don't forgive them.
28Wipe their names from the book of the living;
remove them from the list of the innocent.
29I am mistreated and in pain.
Protect me, God, and keep me safe!

30I will praise the LORD God
with a song and a thankful heart.
31This will please the LORD better than offering an ox
or a full-grown bull.
32When those in need see this, they will be happy,
and the LORD's worshipers will be encouraged.
33The LORD will listen when the homeless cry out,
and he will never forget his people in prison.

34Heaven and earth will praise our God,
and so will the oceans and everything in them.
35God will rescue Jerusalem,
and he will rebuild the towns of Judah.
His people will live there on their own land,
36and when the time comes,
their children will inherit the land.
Then everyone who loves God will also settle there.

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

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