April 14 - Acts 4.23-37, Deuteronomy 21-22 and Job 14

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The Believers Pray for Boldness

Acts 4 23As soon as Peter and John were set free, they returned to their group and told them what the chief priests and the elders had said. 24When the believers heard it, they all joined together in prayer to God: "Master and Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, and all that is in them! 25By means of the Holy Spirit you spoke through our ancestor David, your servant, when he said,
'Why were the Gentiles furious;
why did people make their useless plots?
26The kings of the earth prepared themselves,
and the rulers met together
against the Lord and his Messiah.'
27For indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together in this city with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Jesus, your holy Servant, whom you made Messiah. 28They gathered to do everything that you by your power and will had already decided would happen. 29And now, Lord, take notice of the threats they have made, and allow us, your servants, to speak your message with all boldness. 30Reach out your hand to heal, and grant that wonders and miracles may be performed through the name of your holy Servant Jesus."
31When they finished praying, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim God's message with boldness.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had. 33With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all. 34There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, 35and turn it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed according to the needs of the people.
36And so it was that Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means "One who Encourages"), 37sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles.

Concerning Unsolved Murders

Deuteronomy 21 "Suppose someone is found murdered in a field in the land that the LORD your God is going to give you, and you do not know who killed him. 2Your leaders and judges are to go out and measure the distance from the place where the body was found to each of the nearby towns. 3Then the leaders of the town nearest to where the body was found are to select a young cow that has never been used for work. 4They are to take it down to a spot near a stream that never runs dry and where the ground has never been plowed or planted, and there they are to break its neck. 5The levitical priests are to go there also, because they are to decide every legal case involving violence. The LORD your God has chosen them to serve him and to pronounce blessings in his name. 6Then all the leaders from the town nearest the place where the murdered person was found are to wash their hands over the cow 7and say, 'We did not murder this one, and we do not know who did it. 8LORD, forgive your people Israel, whom you rescued from Egypt. Forgive us and do not hold us responsible for the murder of an innocent person.' 9And so, by doing what the LORD requires, you will not be held responsible for the murder.

Concerning Women Prisoners of War

10"When the LORD your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners, 11you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry. 12Take her to your home, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails, 13and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. 14Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since you forced her to have intercourse with you, you cannot treat her as a slave and sell her.

Concerning the First Son's Inheritance

15"Suppose a man has two wives and they both bear him sons, but the first son is not the child of his favorite wife. 16When the man decides how he is going to divide his property among his children, he is not to show partiality to the son of his favorite wife by giving him the share that belongs to the first-born son. 17He is to give a double share of his possessions to his first son, even though he is not the son of his favorite wife. A man must acknowledge his first son and give him the share he is legally entitled to.

Concerning a Disobedient Son

18"Suppose someone has a son who is stubborn and rebellious, a son who will not obey his parents, even though they punish him. 19His parents are to take him before the leaders of the town where he lives and make him stand trial. 20They are to say to them, 'Our son is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey us; he wastes money and is a drunkard.' 21Then the men of the city are to stone him to death, and so you will get rid of this evil. Everyone in Israel will hear what has happened and be afraid.

Various Laws

22"If someone has been put to death for a crime and the body is hung on a post, 23it is not to remain there overnight. It must be buried the same day, because a dead body hanging on a post brings God's curse on the land. Bury the body, so that you will not defile the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 22 "If you see an Israelite's cow or sheep running loose, do not ignore it; take it back. 2But if its owner lives a long way off or if you don't know who owns it, then take it home with you. When its owner comes looking for it, give it to him. 3Do the same thing if you find a donkey, a piece of clothing, or anything else that an Israelite may have lost.
4"If an Israelite's donkey or cow has fallen down, don't ignore it; help him get the animal to its feet again.
5"Women are not to wear men's clothing, and men are not to wear women's clothing; the LORD your God hates people who do such things.
6"If you happen to find a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground with the mother bird sitting either on the eggs or with her young, you are not to take the mother bird. 7You may take the young birds, but you must let the mother bird go, so that you will live a long and prosperous life.
8"When you build a new house, be sure to put a railing around the edge of the roof. Then you will not be responsible if someone falls off and is killed.
9"Do not plant any crop in the same field with your grapevines; if you do, you are forbidden to use either the grapes or the produce of the other crop.
10"Do not hitch an ox and a donkey together for plowing.
11"Do not wear cloth made by weaving wool and linen together.
12"Sew tassels on the four corners of your clothes.

Laws concerning Sexual Purity

13"Suppose a man marries a young woman and later he decides he doesn't want her. 14So he makes up false charges against her, accusing her of not being a virgin when they got married.
15"If this happens, the young woman's parents are to take the blood-stained wedding sheet that proves she was a virgin, and they are to show it in court to the town leaders. 16Her father will say to them, 'I gave my daughter to this man in marriage, and now he doesn't want her. 17He has made false charges against her, saying that she was not a virgin when he married her. But here is the proof that my daughter was a virgin; look at the bloodstains on the wedding sheet!' 18Then the town leaders are to take the husband and beat him. 19They are also to fine him a hundred pieces of silver and give the money to the young woman's father, because the man has brought disgrace on an Israelite woman. Moreover, she will continue to be his wife, and he can never divorce her as long as he lives.
20"But if the charge is true and there is no proof that she was a virgin, 21then they are to take her out to the entrance of her father's house, where the men of her city are to stone her to death. She has done a shameful thing among our people by having intercourse before she was married, while she was still living in her father's house. In this way you will get rid of this evil.
22"If a man is caught having intercourse with another man's wife, both of them are to be put to death. In this way you will get rid of this evil.
23"Suppose a man is caught in a town having intercourse with a young woman who is engaged to someone else. 24You are to take them outside the town and stone them to death. She is to die because she did not cry out for help, although she was in a town, where she could have been heard. And the man is to die because he had intercourse with someone who was engaged. In this way you will get rid of this evil.
25"Suppose a man out in the countryside rapes a young woman who is engaged to someone else. Then only the man is to be put to death; 26nothing is to be done to the woman, because she has not committed a sin worthy of death. This case is the same as when one man attacks another man and murders him. 27The man raped the engaged woman in the countryside, and although she cried for help, there was no one to help her.
28"Suppose a man is caught raping a young woman who is not engaged. 29He is to pay her father the bride price of fifty pieces of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he forced her to have intercourse with him. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
30"No man is to disgrace his father by having intercourse with any of his father's wives.

Job 14 We are all born weak and helpless.
All lead the same short, troubled life.
2We grow and wither as quickly as flowers;
we disappear like shadows.
3Will you even look at me, God,
or put me on trial and judge me?
4Nothing clean can ever come
from anything as unclean as human beings.
5The length of our lives is decided beforehand--
the number of months we will live.
You have settled it, and it can't be changed.
6Look away from us and leave us alone;
let us enjoy our hard life--if we can.

7There is hope for a tree that has been cut down;
it can come back to life and sprout.
8Even though its roots grow old,
and its stump dies in the ground,
9 with water it will sprout like a young plant.
10But we die, and that is the end of us;
we die, and where are we then?

11Like rivers that stop running,
and lakes that go dry,
12 people die, never to rise.
They will never wake up while the sky endures;
they will never stir from their sleep.

13I wish you would hide me in the world of the dead;
let me be hidden until your anger is over,
and then set a time to remember me.
14If a man dies, can he come back to life?
But I will wait for better times,
wait till this time of trouble is ended.
15Then you will call, and I will answer,
and you will be pleased with me, your creature.
16Then you will watch every step I take,
but you will not keep track of my sins.
17You will forgive them and put them away;
you will wipe out all the wrongs I have done.

18There comes a time when mountains fall
and solid cliffs are moved away.
19Water will wear down rocks,
and heavy rain will wash away the soil;
so you destroy our hope for life.
20You overpower us and send us away forever;
our faces are twisted in death.
21Our children win honor, but we never know it,
nor are we told when they are disgraced.
22We feel only the pain of our own bodies
and the grief of our own minds.

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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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