June 11 - Romans 15.14-33, 1 Samuel 29-31 and Psalm 71

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Paul's Work as a Missionary

Romans 15 14My friends, I am sure that you are very good and that you have all the knowledge you need to teach each other. 15But I have spoken to you plainly and have tried to remind you of some things. God was so kind to me! 16He chose me to be a servant of Christ Jesus for the Gentiles and to do the work of a priest in the service of his good news. God did this so that the Holy Spirit could make the Gentiles into a holy offering, pleasing to him.
17Because of Christ Jesus, I can take pride in my service for God. 18In fact, all I will talk about is how Christ let me speak and work, so that the Gentiles would obey him. 19Indeed, I will tell how Christ worked miracles and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have preached the good news about him all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum. 20But I have always tried to preach where people have never heard about Christ. I am like a builder who doesn't build on anyone else's foundation. 21It is just as the Scriptures say,
"All who haven't been told about him will see him,
and those who haven't heard about him will understand."

Paul's Plan To Visit Rome

22My work has always kept me from coming to see you. 23Now there is nothing left for me to do in this part of the world, and for years I have wanted to visit you. 24So I plan to stop off on my way to Spain. Then after a short, but refreshing, visit with you, I hope you will quickly send me on.
25-26I am now on my way to Jerusalem to deliver the money that the Lord's followers in Macedonia and Achaia collected for God's needy people. 27This is something they really wanted to do. But sharing their money with the Jews was also like paying back a debt, because the Jews had already shared their spiritual blessings with the Gentiles. 28After I have safely delivered this money, I will visit you and then go on to Spain. 29And when I do arrive in Rome, I know it will be with the full blessings of Christ.
30My friends, by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the love that comes from the Holy Spirit, I beg you to pray sincerely with me and for me. 31Pray that God will protect me from the unbelievers in Judea, and that his people in Jerusalem will be pleased with what I am doing. 32Ask God to let me come to you and have a pleasant and refreshing visit. 33I pray that God, who gives peace, will be with all of you. Amen.

The Philistines Send David Back

1 Samuel 29 The Philistines had brought their whole army to Aphek, while Israel's army was camping near Jezreel Spring. 2-3The Philistine rulers and their troops were marching past the Philistine army commanders in groups of a hundred and a thousand. When David and his men marched by at the end with Achish, the commanders said, "What are these worthless Israelites doing here?"
"They are David's men," Achish answered. "David used to be one of Saul's officers, but he left Saul and joined my army a long time ago. I've never had even one complaint about him."
4The Philistine army commanders were angry and shouted:
Send David back to the town you gave him. We won't have him going into the battle with us. He could turn and fight against us! Saul would take David back as an officer if David brought him the heads of our soldiers. 5The Israelites even dance and sing,

"Saul has killed a thousand enemies;
David has killed ten thousand enemies!"
6Achish called David over and said:
I swear by the living LORD that you've been honest with me, and I want you to fight by my side. I don't think you've done anything wrong from the day you joined me until this very moment. But the other Philistine rulers don't want you to come along. 7Go on back home and try not to upset them.

8"But what have I done?" David asked. "Do you know of anything I've ever done that would keep me from fighting the enemies of my king?"
9Achish said:
I believe that you're as good as an angel of God, but our army commanders have decided that you can't fight in this battle. 10You and your troops will have to go back to the town I gave you. Get up and leave tomorrow morning as soon as it's light. I am pleased with you, so don't let any of this bother you.

11David and his men got up early in the morning and headed back toward Philistia, while the Philistines left for Jezreel.

David Rescues His Soldiers' Families

1 Samuel 30 It took David and his men three days to reach Ziklag. But while they had been away, the Amalekites had been raiding in the desert around there. They had attacked Ziklag, burned it to the ground, 2and had taken away the women and children. 3When David and his men came to Ziklag, they saw the burned-out ruins and learned that their families had been taken captive. 4They started crying and kept it up until they were too weak to cry any more. 5David's two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, had been taken captive with everyone else.
6David was desperate. His soldiers were so upset over what had happened to their sons and daughters that they were thinking about stoning David to death. But he felt the LORD God giving him strength, 7and he said to the priest, "Abiathar, let's ask God what to do."
Abiathar brought everything he needed to get answers from God, and he went over to David. 8Then David asked the LORD, "Should I go after the people who raided our town? Can I catch up with them?"
"Go after them," the LORD answered. "You will catch up with them, and you will rescue your families."
9-10David led his six hundred men to Besor Gorge, but two hundred of them were too tired to go across. So they stayed behind, while David and the other four hundred men crossed the gorge.
11Some of David's men found an Egyptian out in a field and took him to David. They gave the Egyptian some bread, and he ate it. Then they gave him a drink of water, 12some dried figs, and two handfuls of raisins. This was the first time in three days he had tasted food or water. Now he felt much better.
13"Who is your master?" David asked. "And where do you come from?"
"I'm from Egypt," the young man answered. "I'm the servant of an Amalekite, but he left me here three days ago because I was sick. 14We had attacked some towns in the desert where the Cherethites live, in the area that belongs to Judah, and in the desert where the Caleb clan lives. And we burned down Ziklag."
15"Will you take me to those Amalekites?" David asked.
"Yes, I will, if you promise with God as a witness that you won't kill me or hand me over to my master."
16He led David to the Amalekites. They were eating and drinking everywhere, celebrating because of what they had taken from Philistia and Judah. 17David attacked just before sunrise the next day and fought until sunset. Four hundred Amalekites rode away on camels, but they were the only ones who escaped.
18David rescued his two wives and everyone else the Amalekites had taken from Ziklag. 19No one was missing--young or old, sons or daughters. David brought back everything that had been stolen, 20including their livestock.
David also took the sheep and cattle that the Amalekites had with them, but he kept these separate from the others. Everyone agreed that these would be David's reward.
21On the way back, David went to the two hundred men he had left at Besor Gorge, because they had been too tired to keep up with him. They came toward David and the people who were with him. When David was close enough, he greeted the two hundred men and asked how they were doing.
22Some of David's men were good-for-nothings, and they said, "Those men didn't go with us to the battle, so they don't get any of the things we took back from the Amalekites. Let them take their wives and children and go!"
23But David said:
My friends, don't be so greedy with what the LORD has given us! The LORD protected us and gave us victory over the people who attacked. 24Who would pay attention to you, anyway? Soldiers who stay behind to guard the camp get as much as those who go into battle.

25David made this a law for Israel, and it has been the same ever since.
26David went back to Ziklag with everything they had taken from the Amalekites. He sent some of these things as gifts to his friends who were leaders of Judah, and he told them, "We took these things from the LORD's enemies. Please accept them as a gift."
27-31This is a list of the towns where David sent gifts: Bethel, Ramoth in the Southern Desert, Jattir, Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, Racal, the towns belonging to the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites, Hormah, Bor-Ashan, Athach, and Hebron. He also sent gifts to the other towns where he and his men had traveled.

Saul and His Sons Die

1 Samuel 31 Meanwhile, the Philistines were fighting Israel at Mount Gilboa. Israel's soldiers ran from the Philistines, and many of them were killed. 2The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. 3The fighting was fierce around Saul, and he was badly wounded by enemy arrows.
4Saul told the soldier who carried his weapons, "Kill me with your sword! I don't want those worthless Philistines to torture me and make fun." But the soldier was afraid to kill him.
Saul then took out his own sword; he stuck the blade into his stomach, and fell on it. 5When the soldier knew that Saul was dead, he killed himself in the same way.
6Saul was dead, his three sons were dead, and the soldier who carried his weapons was dead. They and all his soldiers died on that same day. 7The Israelites on the other side of Jezreel Valley and the other side of the Jordan learned that Saul and his sons were dead. They saw that the Israelite army had run away. So they ran away too, and the Philistines moved into the towns the Israelites had left behind.
8The day after the battle, when the Philistines returned to the battlefield to take the weapons of the dead Israelite soldiers, they found Saul and his three sons lying dead on Mount Gilboa. 9-10The Philistines cut off Saul's head and pulled off his armor. Then they put his armor in the temple of the goddess Astarte, and they nailed his body to the city wall of Beth-Shan. They also sent messengers everywhere in Philistia to spread the good news in the temples of their idols and among their people.
11The people who lived in Jabesh in Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul's body. 12So one night, some brave men from Jabesh went to Beth-Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons, then brought them back to Jabesh and burned them. 13They buried the bones under a small tree in Jabesh, and for seven days, they went without eating to show their sorrow.

Psalm 71
A Prayer for God's Protection

1I run to you, LORD, for protection.
Don't disappoint me.
2You do what is right, so come to my rescue.
Listen to my prayer and keep me safe.
3Be my mighty rock,
the place where I can always run for protection.
Save me by your command!
You are my mighty rock and my fortress.

4Come and save me, LORD God,
from vicious and cruel and brutal enemies!
5I depend on you,
and I have trusted you since I was young.
6I have relied on you from the day I was born.
You brought me safely through birth,
and I always praise you.

7Many people think of me as something evil.
But you are my mighty protector,
8and I praise and honor you all day long.
9Don't throw me aside when I am old;
don't desert me when my strength is gone.
10My enemies are plotting because they want me dead.
11They say, "Now we'll catch you!
God has deserted you, and no one can save you."
12Come closer, God! Please hurry and help.
13Embarrass and destroy all who want me dead;
disgrace and confuse all who want to hurt me.
14I will never give up hope or stop praising you.
15All day long I will tell the wonderful things you do
to save your people.
But you have done much more
than I could possibly know.
16I will praise you, LORD God,
for your mighty deeds and your power to save.

17You have taught me since I was a child,
and I never stop telling about your marvelous deeds.
18Don't leave me when I am old and my hair turns gray.
Let me tell future generations about your mighty power.
19Your deeds of kindness are known in the heavens.
No one is like you!

20You made me suffer a lot,
but you will bring me back from this deep pit
and give me new life.
21You will make me truly great and take my sorrow away.

22I will praise you, God, the Holy One of Israel.
You are faithful.
I will play the harp and sing your praises.
23You have rescued me! I will celebrate and shout,
singing praises to you with all my heart.
24All day long I will announce your power to save.
I will tell how you disgraced and disappointed
those who wanted to hurt me.

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

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