April 9 - Acts 1, Deuteronomy 11-12 and Job 9

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Acts 1 Dear Theophilus:
In my first book I wrote about all the things that Jesus did and taught from the time he began his work 2until the day he was taken up to heaven. Before he was taken up, he gave instructions by the power of the Holy Spirit to the men he had chosen as his apostles. 3For forty days after his death he appeared to them many times in ways that proved beyond doubt that he was alive. They saw him, and he talked with them about the Kingdom of God. 4And when they came together, he gave them this order: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. 5John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

Jesus Is Taken Up to Heaven

6When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?"
7Jesus said to them, "The times and occasions are set by my Father's own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be. 8But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9After saying this, he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as he went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them 11and said, "Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven."

Judas' Successor

12Then the apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is about half a mile away from the city. 13They entered the city and went up to the room where they were staying: Peter, John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Patriot, and Judas son of James. 14They gathered frequently to pray as a group, together with the women and with Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.
15A few days later there was a meeting of the believers, about a hundred and twenty in all, and Peter stood up to speak. 16"My friends," he said, "the scripture had to come true in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, made a prediction about Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17Judas was a member of our group, for he had been chosen to have a part in our work."
( 18 With the money that Judas got for his evil act he bought a field, where he fell to his death; he burst open and all his insides spilled out. 19All the people living in Jerusalem heard about it, and so in their own language they call that field Akeldama, which means "Field of Blood.")
20"For it is written in the book of Psalms,
'May his house become empty;
may no one live in it.'
It is also written,
'May someone else take his place of service.'
21-22"So then, someone must join us as a witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He must be one of the men who were in our group during the whole time that the Lord Jesus traveled about with us, beginning from the time John preached his message of baptism until the day Jesus was taken up from us to heaven."
23So they proposed two men: Joseph, who was called Barsabbas (also known as Justus), and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, "Lord, you know the thoughts of everyone, so show us which of these two you have chosen 25to serve as an apostle in the place of Judas, who left to go to the place where he belongs." 26Then they drew lots to choose between the two men, and the one chosen was Matthias, who was added to the group of eleven apostles.

The LORD's Greatness

Deuteronomy 11 "Love the LORD your God and always obey all his laws. 2Remember today what you have learned about the LORD through your experiences with him. It was you, not your children, who had these experiences. You saw the LORD's greatness, his power, his might, 3and his miracles. You saw what he did to the king of Egypt and to his entire country. 4You saw how the LORD completely wiped out the Egyptian army, along with their horses and chariots, by drowning them in the Red Sea when they were pursuing you. 5You know what the LORD did for you in the desert before you arrived here. 6You recall what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab of the tribe of Reuben. In the sight of everyone the earth opened up and swallowed them, along with their families, their tents, and all their servants and animals. 7Yes, you are the ones who have seen all these great things that the LORD has done.

The Blessings of the Promised Land

8"Obey everything that I have commanded you today. Then you will be able to cross the river and occupy the land that you are about to enter. 9And you will live a long time in the rich and fertile land that the LORD promised to give your ancestors and their descendants. 10The land that you are about to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, where you lived before. There, when you planted grain, you had to work hard to irrigate the fields; 11but the land that you are about to enter is a land of mountains and valleys, a land watered by rain. 12The LORD your God takes care of this land and watches over it throughout the year.
13"So then, obey the commands that I have given you today; love the LORD your God and serve him with all your heart. 14If you do, he will send rain on your land when it is needed, in the autumn and in the spring, so that there will be grain, wine, and olive oil for you, 15and grass for your livestock. You will have all the food you want. 16Do not let yourselves be led away from the LORD to worship and serve other gods. 17If you do, the LORD will become angry with you. He will hold back the rain, and your ground will become too dry for crops to grow. Then you will soon die there, even though it is a good land that he is giving you.
18"Remember these commands and cherish them. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. 19Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. 20Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. 21Then you and your children will live a long time in the land that the LORD your God promised to give to your ancestors. You will live there as long as there is a sky above the earth.
22"Obey faithfully everything that I have commanded you: Love the LORD your God, do everything he commands, and be faithful to him. 23Then he will drive out all those nations as you advance, and you will occupy the land belonging to nations greater and more powerful than you. 24All the ground that you march over will be yours. Your territory will extend from the desert in the south to the Lebanon Mountains in the north, and from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 25Wherever you go in that land, the LORD your God will make the people fear you, as he has promised, and no one will be able to stop you.
26"Today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse-- 27a blessing, if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28but a curse, if you disobey these commands and turn away to worship other gods that you have never worshiped before. 29When the LORD brings you into the land that you are going to occupy, you are to proclaim the blessing from Mount Gerizim and the curse from Mount Ebal. ( 30These two mountains are west of the Jordan River in the territory of the Canaanites who live in the Jordan Valley. They are toward the west, not far from the sacred trees of Moreh near the town of Gilgal.) 31You are about to cross the Jordan River and occupy the land that the LORD your God is giving you. When you take it and settle there, 32be sure to obey all the laws that I am giving you today.

The One Place for Worship

Deuteronomy 12 "Here are the laws that you are to obey as long as you live in the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Listen to them! 2In the land that you are taking, destroy all the places where the people worship their gods on high mountains, on hills, and under green trees. 3Tear down their altars and smash their sacred stone pillars to pieces. Burn their symbols of the goddess Asherah and chop down their idols, so that they will never again be worshiped at those places.
4"Do not worship the LORD your God in the way that these people worship their gods. 5Out of the territory of all your tribes the LORD will choose the one place where the people are to come into his presence and worship him. 6There you are to offer your sacrifices that are to be burned and your other sacrifices, your tithes and your offerings, the gifts that you promise to the LORD, your freewill offerings, and the first-born of your cattle and sheep. 7There, in the presence of the LORD your God, who has blessed you, you and your families will eat and enjoy the good things that you have worked for.
8"When that time comes, you must not do as you have been doing. Until now you have all been worshiping as you please, 9because you have not yet entered the land that the LORD your God is giving you, where you can live in peace. 10When you cross the Jordan River, the LORD will let you occupy the land and live there. He will keep you safe from all your enemies, and you will live in peace. 11The LORD will choose a single place where he is to be worshiped, and there you must bring to him everything that I have commanded: your sacrifices that are to be burned and your other sacrifices, your tithes and your offerings, and those special gifts that you have promised to the LORD. 12Be joyful there in his presence, together with your children, your servants, and the Levites who live in your towns; remember that the Levites will have no land of their own. 13You are not to offer your sacrifices wherever you choose; 14you must offer them only in the one place that the LORD will choose in the territory of one of your tribes. Only there are you to offer your sacrifices that are to be burned and do all the other things that I have commanded you.
15"But you are free to kill and eat your animals wherever you live. You may eat as many as the LORD gives you. All of you, whether ritually clean or unclean, may eat them, just as you would eat the meat of deer or antelope. 16But you must not eat their blood; you must pour it out on the ground like water. 17Nothing that you offer to the LORD is to be eaten in the places where you live: neither the tithes of your grain, your wine, or your olive oil, nor the first-born of your cattle and sheep, the gifts that you promise to the LORD, your freewill offerings, or any other offerings. 18You and your children, together with your servants and the Levites who live in your towns, are to eat these offerings only in the presence of the LORD your God, in the one place of worship chosen by the LORD your God. And you are to be happy there over everything that you have done. 19Be sure, also, not to neglect the Levites, as long as you live in your land.
20"When the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised, you may eat meat whenever you want to. 21If the one place of worship is too far away, then, whenever you wish, you may kill any of the cattle or sheep that the LORD has given you, and you may eat the meat at home, as I have told you. 22Anyone, ritually clean or unclean, may eat that meat, just as he would eat the meat of deer or antelope. 23Only do not eat meat with blood still in it, for the life is in the blood, and you must not eat the life with the meat. 24Do not use the blood for food; instead, pour it out on the ground like water. 25If you obey this command, the LORD will be pleased, and all will go well for you and your descendants. 26Take to the one place of worship your offerings and the gifts that you have promised the LORD. 27Offer there the sacrifices which are to be completely burned on the LORD's altar. Also offer those sacrifices in which you eat the meat and pour the blood out on the altar. 28Obey faithfully everything that I have commanded you, and all will go well for you and your descendants forever, because you will be doing what is right and what pleases the LORD your God.

Warning against Idolatry

29"The LORD your God will destroy the nations as you invade their land, and you will occupy it and settle there. 30After the LORD destroys those nations, make sure that you don't follow their religious practices, because that would be fatal. Don't try to find out how they worship their gods, so that you can worship in the same way. 31Do not worship the LORD your God in the way they worship their gods, for in the worship of their gods they do all the disgusting things that the LORD hates. They even sacrifice their children in the fires on their altars.
32"Do everything that I have commanded you; do not add anything to it or take anything from it.

Job 9

1-2Yes, I've heard all that before.
But how can a human being win a case against God?
3How can anyone argue with him?
He can ask a thousand questions
that no one could ever answer.
4God is so wise and powerful;
no one can stand up against him.
5Without warning he moves mountains
and in anger he destroys them.
6God sends earthquakes and shakes the ground;
he rocks the pillars that support the earth.
7He can keep the sun from rising,
and the stars from shining at night.
8No one helped God spread out the heavens
or trample the sea monster's back.
9God hung the stars in the sky--the Dipper,
Orion, the Pleiades, and the stars of the south.
10We cannot understand the great things he does,
and to his miracles there is no end.

11God passes by, but I cannot see him.
12He takes what he wants, and no one can stop him;
no one dares ask him, "What are you doing?"
13God's anger is constant. He crushed his enemies
who helped Rahab, the sea monster, oppose him.
14So how can I find words to answer God?
15Though I am innocent, all I can do
is beg for mercy from God my judge.
16Yet even then, if he lets me speak,
I can't believe he would listen to me.
17He sends storms to batter and bruise me
without any reason at all.
18He won't let me catch my breath;
he has filled my life with bitterness.
19Should I try force? Try force on God?
Should I take him to court? Could anyone make him go?
20I am innocent and faithful, but my words sound guilty,
and everything I say seems to condemn me.
21-22I am innocent, but I no longer care.
I am sick of living. Nothing matters;
innocent or guilty, God will destroy us.
23When an innocent person suddenly dies,
God laughs.
24God gave the world to the wicked.
He made all the judges blind.
And if God didn't do it, who did?

25My days race by, not one of them good.
26My life passes like the swiftest boat,
as fast as an eagle swooping down on a rabbit.
27-28If I smile and try to forget my pain,
all my suffering comes back to haunt me;
I know that God does hold me guilty.
29Since I am held guilty, why should I bother?
30 No soap can wash away my sins.
31God throws me into a pit with filth,
and even my clothes are ashamed of me.
32If God were human, I could answer him;
we could go to court to decide our quarrel.
33But there is no one to step between us--
no one to judge both God and me.
34Stop punishing me, God!
Keep your terrors away!
35I am not afraid. I am going to talk
because I know my own heart.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

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