April 20 - Acts 8.1-25, Deuteronomy 33-34 and Job 20

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Saul Persecutes the Church

Acts 8 That very day the church in Jerusalem began to suffer cruel persecution. All the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the provinces of Judea and Samaria. 2Some devout men buried Stephen, mourning for him with loud cries.
3But Saul tried to destroy the church; going from house to house, he dragged out the believers, both men and women, and threw them into jail.

The Gospel Is Preached in Samaria

4The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message. 5Philip went to the principal city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there. 6The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said, as they listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7Evil spirits came out from many people with a loud cry, and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city.
9A man named Simon lived there, who for some time had astounded the Samaritans with his magic. He claimed that he was someone great, 10and everyone in the city, from all classes of society, paid close attention to him. "He is that power of God known as 'The Great Power,'" they said. 11They paid this attention to him because for such a long time he had astonished them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip's message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself also believed; and after being baptized, he stayed close to Philip and was astounded when he saw the great wonders and miracles that were being performed.
14The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had received the word of God, so they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for the believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16For the Holy Spirit had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18Simon saw that the Spirit had been given to the believers when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered money to Peter and John, 19and said, "Give this power to me too, so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit."
20But Peter answered him, "May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God's gift with money! 21You have no part or share in our work, because your heart is not right in God's sight. 22Repent, then, of this evil plan of yours, and pray to the Lord that he will forgive you for thinking such a thing as this. 23For I see that you are full of bitter envy and are a prisoner of sin."
24Simon said to Peter and John, "Please pray to the Lord for me, so that none of these things you spoke of will happen to me."
25After they had given their testimony and proclaimed the Lord's message, Peter and John went back to Jerusalem. On their way they preached the Good News in many villages of Samaria.

Moses Blesses the Tribes of Israel

Deuteronomy 33 These are the blessings that Moses, the man of God, pronounced on the people of Israel before he died.

2The LORD came from Mount Sinai;
he rose like the sun over Edom
and shone on his people from Mount Paran.
Ten thousand angels were with him,
a flaming fire at his right hand.
3The LORD loves his people
and protects those who belong to him.
So we bow at his feet
and obey his commands.
4We obey the Law that Moses gave us,
our nation's most treasured possession.
5The LORD became king of his people Israel
when their tribes and leaders were gathered together.

6Moses said about the tribe of Reuben:
"May Reuben never die out,
Although their people are few."

7About the tribe of Judah he said:
"LORD, listen to their cry for help;
Unite them again with the other tribes.
Fight for them, LORD,
And help them against their enemies."

8About the tribe of Levi he said:
"You, LORD, reveal your will by the Urim and Thummim
Through your faithful servants, the Levites;
You put them to the test at Massah
And proved them true at the waters of Meribah.
9They showed greater loyalty to you
Than to parents, brothers, or children.
They obeyed your commands
And were faithful to your covenant.
10They will teach your people to obey your Law;
They will offer sacrifices on your altar.
11LORD, help their tribe to grow strong;
Be pleased with what they do.
Crush all their enemies;
Let them never rise again."

12About the tribe of Benjamin he said:
"This is the tribe the LORD loves and protects;
He guards them all the day long,
And he dwells in their midst."

13About the tribe of Joseph he said:
"May the LORD bless their land with rain
And with water from under the earth.
14May their land be blessed with sun-ripened fruit,
Rich with the best fruits of each season.
15May their ancient hills be covered with choice fruit.
16May their land be filled with all that is good,
Blessed by the goodness of the LORD,
Who spoke from the burning bush.
May these blessings come to the tribe of Joseph,
Because he was the leader among his brothers.
17Joseph has the strength of a bull,
The horns of a wild ox.
His horns are Manasseh's thousands
And Ephraim's ten thousands.
With them he gores the nations
And pushes them to the ends of the earth."

18About the tribes of Zebulun and Issachar he said:
"May Zebulun be prosperous in their trade on the sea,
And may Issachar's wealth increase at home.
19They invite foreigners to their mountain
And offer the right sacrifices there.
They get their wealth from the sea
And from the sand along the shore."

20About the tribe of Gad he said:
"Praise God, who made their territory large.
Gad waits like a lion
To tear off an arm or a scalp.
21They took the best of the land for themselves;
A leader's share was assigned to them.
They obeyed the LORD's commands and laws
When the leaders of Israel were gathered together."

22About the tribe of Dan he said:
"Dan is a young lion;
He leaps out from Bashan."

23About the tribe of Naphtali he said:
"Naphtali is richly blessed by the LORD's good favor;
Their land reaches to the south from Lake Galilee."

24About the tribe of Asher he said:
"Asher is blessed more than the other tribes.
May he be the favorite of his brothers,
And may his land be rich with olive trees.
25May his towns be protected with iron gates,
And may he always live secure."

26People of Israel, no god is like your God,
riding in splendor across the sky,
riding through the clouds to come to your aid.
27God has always been your defense;
his eternal arms are your support.
He drove out your enemies as you advanced,
and told you to destroy them all.
28So Jacob's descendants live in peace,
secure in a land full of grain and wine,
where dew from the sky waters the ground.
29Israel, how happy you are!
There is no one like you,
a nation saved by the LORD.
The LORD himself is your shield and your sword,
to defend you and give you victory.
Your enemies will come begging for mercy,
and you will trample them down.

The Death of Moses

Deuteronomy 34 Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Mount Pisgah east of Jericho, and there the LORD showed him the whole land: the territory of Gilead as far north as the town of Dan; 2the entire territory of Naphtali; the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh; the territory of Judah as far west as the Mediterranean Sea; 3the southern part of Judah; and the plain that reaches from Zoar to Jericho, the city of palm trees. 4Then the LORD said to Moses, "This is the land that I promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob I would give to their descendants. I have let you see it, but I will not let you go there."
5So Moses, the LORD's servant, died there in the land of Moab, as the LORD had said he would. 6The LORD buried him in a valley in Moab, opposite the town of Bethpeor, but to this day no one knows the exact place of his burial. 7Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; he was as strong as ever, and his eyesight was still good. 8The people of Israel mourned for him for thirty days in the plains of Moab.
9Joshua son of Nun was filled with wisdom, because Moses had appointed him to be his successor. The people of Israel obeyed Joshua and kept the commands that the LORD had given them through Moses.
10There has never been a prophet in Israel like Moses; the LORD spoke with him face-to-face. 11No other prophet has ever done miracles and wonders like those that the LORD sent Moses to perform against the king of Egypt, his officials, and the entire country. 12No other prophet has been able to do the great and terrifying things that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Job 20

1-2Job, you upset me. Now I'm impatient to answer.
3 What you have said is an insult,
but I know how to reply to you.

4Surely you know that from ancient times,
when we humans were first placed on earth,
5 no wicked people have been happy for long.
6They may grow great, towering to the sky,
so great that their heads reach the clouds,
7 but they will be blown away like dust.
Those who used to know them
will wonder where they have gone.
8They will vanish like a dream, like a vision at night,
and never be seen again.
9The wicked will disappear from the place where they used to live;
10 and their children will make good what they stole from the poor.
11Their bodies used to be young and vigorous,
but soon they will turn to dust.

12-13Evil tastes so good to them
that they keep some in their mouths to enjoy its flavor.
14But in their stomachs the food turns bitter,
as bitter as any poison could be.
15The wicked vomit up the wealth they stole;
God takes it back, even out of their stomachs.
16What the evil people swallow is like poison;
it kills them like the bite of a deadly snake.
17They will not live to see rivers of olive oil
or streams that flow with milk and honey.
18They will have to give up all they have worked for;
they will have no chance to enjoy their wealth,
19 because they oppressed and neglected the poor
and seized houses someone else had built.
20Their greed is never satisfied.
21When they eat, there is nothing left over,
but now their prosperity comes to an end.
22At the height of their success
all the weight of misery will crush them.
23Let them eat all they want!
God will punish them in fury and anger.
24When they try to escape from an iron sword,
a bronze bow will shoot them down.
25Arrows stick through their bodies;
the shiny points drip with their blood,
and terror grips their hearts.
26Everything they have saved is destroyed;
a fire not lit by human hands
burns them and all their family.
27Heaven reveals their sin,
and the earth gives testimony against them.
28All their wealth will be destroyed
in the flood of God's anger.

29This is the fate of wicked people,
the fate that God assigns to them.

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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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