May 1 - Acts 14, Joshua 22 and Job 31

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In Iconium

Acts 14 The same thing happened in Iconium: Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of Jews and Gentiles became believers. 2But the Jews who would not believe stirred up the Gentiles and turned them against the believers. 3The apostles stayed there for a long time, speaking boldly about the Lord, who proved that their message about his grace was true by giving them the power to perform miracles and wonders. 4The people of the city were divided: some were for the Jews, others for the apostles.
5Then some Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, decided to mistreat the apostles and stone them. 6When the apostles learned about it, they fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia and to the surrounding territory. 7There they preached the Good News.

In Lystra and Derbe

8In Lystra there was a crippled man who had been lame from birth and had never been able to walk. 9He sat there and listened to Paul's words. Paul saw that he believed and could be healed, so he looked straight at him 10and said in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" The man jumped up and started walking around. 11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they started shouting in their own Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us!" 12They gave Barnabas the name Zeus, and Paul the name Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of the god Zeus, whose temple stood just outside the town, brought bulls and flowers to the gate, for he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice to the apostles.
14When Barnabas and Paul heard what they were about to do, they tore their clothes and ran into the middle of the crowd, shouting, 15"Why are you doing this? We ourselves are only human beings like you! We are here to announce the Good News, to turn you away from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them. 16In the past he allowed all people to go their own way. 17But he has always given evidence of his existence by the good things he does: he gives you rain from heaven and crops at the right times; he gives you food and fills your hearts with happiness." 18Even with these words the apostles could hardly keep the crowd from offering a sacrifice to them.
19Some Jews came from Antioch in Pisidia and from Iconium; they won the crowds over to their side, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead. 20But when the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe.

The Return to Antioch in Syria

21Paul and Barnabas preached the Good News in Derbe and won many disciples. Then they went back to Lystra, to Iconium, and on to Antioch in Pisidia. 22They strengthened the believers and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. "We must pass through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God," they taught. 23In each church they appointed elders, and with prayers and fasting they commended them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
24After going through the territory of Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25There they preached the message in Perga and then went to Attalia, 26and from there they sailed back to Antioch, the place where they had been commended to the care of God's grace for the work they had now completed.
27When they arrived in Antioch, they gathered the people of the church together and told them about all that God had done with them and how he had opened the way for the Gentiles to believe. 28And they stayed a long time there with the believers.

Joshua Sends the Eastern Tribes Home

Joshua 22 Then Joshua called together the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh. 2He said to them, "You have done everything that Moses the LORD's servant ordered you to do, and you have obeyed all my commands. 3All this time you have never once deserted the other Israelites. You have been careful to obey the commands of the LORD your God. 4Now, as he promised, the LORD your God has given the other Israelites peace. So go back home to the land which you claimed for your own, the land on the east side of the Jordan, that Moses, the LORD's servant, gave you. 5Make sure you obey the law that Moses commanded you: love the LORD your God, do his will, obey his commandments, be faithful to him, and serve him with all your heart and soul." 6-8Joshua sent them home with his blessing and with these words: "You are going back home very rich, with a lot of livestock, silver, gold, bronze, iron, and many clothes. Share with your fellow tribesmen what you took from your enemies." Then they left for home.
Moses had given land east of the Jordan to one half of the tribe of Manasseh, but to the other half Joshua had given land west of the Jordan, along with the other tribes.
9So the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh went back home. They left the rest of the people of Israel at Shiloh in the land of Canaan and started out for their own land, the land of Gilead, which they had taken as the LORD had commanded them through Moses.

The Altar by the Jordan

10When the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh arrived at Geliloth, still on the west side of the Jordan, they built a large, impressive altar there by the river. 11The rest of the people of Israel were told, "Listen! The people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh have built an altar at Geliloth, on our side of the Jordan!" 12When the people of Israel heard this, the whole community came together at Shiloh to go to war against the eastern tribes.
13Then the people of Israel sent Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, to the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh in the land of Gilead. 14Ten leading men went with Phinehas, one from each of the western tribes and each one the head of a family among the clans. 15They came to the land of Gilead, to the people of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh, 16and speaking for the whole community of the LORD, they said to them, "Why have you done this evil thing against the God of Israel? You have rebelled against the LORD by building this altar for yourselves! You are no longer following him! 17Remember our sin at Peor, when the LORD punished his own people with an epidemic? We are still suffering because of that. Wasn't that sin enough? 18Are you going to refuse to follow him now? If you rebel against the LORD today, he will be angry with everyone in Israel tomorrow. 19Now then, if your land is not fit to worship in, come over into the LORD's land, where his Tent is. Claim some land among us. But don't rebel against the LORD or make rebels out of us by building an altar in addition to the altar of the LORD our God. 20Remember how Achan son of Zerah refused to obey the command about the things condemned to destruction; the whole community of Israel was punished for that. Achan was not the only one who died because of his sin."
21The people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh answered the heads of the families of the western tribes: 22"The Mighty One is God! He is the LORD! The Mighty One is God! He is the LORD! He knows why we did this, and we want you to know too! If we rebelled and did not keep faith with the LORD, do not let us live any longer! 23If we disobeyed the LORD and built our own altar to burn sacrifices on or to use for grain offerings or fellowship offerings, let the LORD himself punish us. 24No! We did it because we were afraid that in the future your descendants would say to ours, 'What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25He made the Jordan a boundary between us and you people of Reuben and Gad. You have nothing to do with the LORD.' Then your descendants might make our descendants stop worshiping the LORD. 26So we built an altar, not to burn sacrifices or make offerings, 27but instead, as a sign for our people and yours, and for the generations after us, that we do indeed worship the LORD before his sacred Tent with our offerings to be burned and with sacrifices and fellowship offerings. This was to keep your descendants from saying that ours have nothing to do with the LORD. 28It was our idea that, if this should ever happen, our descendants could say, 'Look! Our ancestors made an altar just like the LORD's altar. It was not for burning offerings or for sacrifice, but as a sign for our people and yours.' 29We would certainly not rebel against the LORD or stop following him now by building an altar to burn offerings on or for grain offerings or sacrifices. We would not build any other altar than the altar of the LORD our God that stands in front of the Tent of his presence."
30Phinehas the priest and the ten leading men of the community who were with him, the heads of families of the western tribes, heard what the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh had to say, and they were satisfied. 31Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, said to them, "Now we know that the LORD is with us. You have not rebelled against him, and so you have saved the people of Israel from the LORD's punishment."
32Then Phinehas and the leaders left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and went back to Canaan, to the people of Israel, and reported to them. 33The Israelites were satisfied and praised God. They no longer talked about going to war to devastate the land where the people of Reuben and Gad had settled.
34The people of Reuben and Gad said, "This altar is a witness to all of us that the LORD is God." And so they named it "Witness."

Job 31 I have made a solemn promise
never to look with lust at a woman.

2What does Almighty God do to us?
How does he repay human deeds?
3He sends disaster and ruin
to those who do wrong.
4God knows everything I do;
he sees every step I take.

5I swear I have never acted wickedly
and never tried to deceive others.
6Let God weigh me on honest scales,
and he will see how innocent I am.
7If I have turned from the right path
or let myself be attracted to evil,
if my hands are stained with sin,
8 then let my crops be destroyed,
or let others eat the food I grow.

9If I have been attracted to my neighbor's wife,
and waited, hidden, outside her door,
10 then let my wife cook another man's food
and sleep in another man's bed.
11Such wickedness should be punished by death.
12It would be like a destructive, hellish fire,
consuming everything I have.

13When any of my servants complained against me,
I would listen and treat them fairly.
14If I did not, how could I then face God?
What could I say when God came to judge me?
15The same God who created me
created my servants also.

16I have never refused to help the poor;
never have I let widows live in despair
17 or let orphans go hungry while I ate.
18All my life I have taken care of them.

19When I found someone in need,
too poor to buy clothes,
20 I would give him clothing made of wool
that had come from my own flock of sheep.
Then he would praise me with all his heart.

21If I have ever cheated an orphan,
knowing I could win in court,
22 then may my arms be broken;
may they be torn from my shoulders.
23Because I fear God's punishment,
I could never do such a thing.

24I have never trusted in riches
25 or taken pride in my wealth.
26I have never worshiped the sun in its brightness
or the moon in all its beauty.
27I have not been led astray to honor them
by kissing my hand in reverence to them.
28Such a sin should be punished by death;
it denies Almighty God.

29I have never been glad when my enemies suffered,
or pleased when they met with disaster;
30 I never sinned by praying for their death.
31All those who work for me know
that I have always welcomed strangers.
32I invited travelers into my home
and never let them sleep in the streets.

33Others try to hide their sins,
but I have never concealed mine.
34I have never feared what people would say;
I have never kept quiet or stayed indoors
because I feared their scorn.

35Will no one listen to what I am saying?
I swear that every word is true.
Let Almighty God answer me.

If the charges my opponent brings against me
were written down so that I could see them,
36I would wear them proudly on my shoulder
and place them on my head like a crown.
37I would tell God everything I have done,
and hold my head high in his presence.

38If I have stolen the land I farm
and taken it from its rightful owners--
39 if I have eaten the food that grew there
but let the farmers that grew it starve--
40 then instead of wheat and barley,
may weeds and thistles grow.

The words of Job are ended.

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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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