May 3 - Acts 15.22-41, Judges 1 and Job 33

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The Letter to the Gentile Believers

Acts 15 22Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, decided to choose some men from the group and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two men who were highly respected by the believers, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, 23and they sent the following letter by them:
"We, the apostles and the elders, your brothers, send greetings to all our brothers of Gentile birth who live in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 24We have heard that some who went from our group have troubled and upset you by what they said; they had not, however, received any instruction from us. 25And so we have met together and have all agreed to choose some messengers and send them to you. They will go with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, 26who have risked their lives in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who will tell you in person the same things we are writing. 28The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules: 29eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes."

30The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the whole group of believers and gave them the letter. 31When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement. 32Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, spoke a long time with them, giving them courage and strength. 33After spending some time there, they were sent off in peace by the believers and went back to those who had sent them.
35Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch, and together with many others they taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the believers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along." 37Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, 38but Paul did not think it was right to take him, because he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission, but had turned back and left them in Pamphylia. 39There was a sharp argument, and they separated: Barnabas took Mark and sailed off for Cyprus, 40while Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the care of the Lord's grace. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

The Tribes of Judah and Simeon Capture Adonibezek

Judges 1 After Joshua's death the people of Israel asked the LORD, "Which of our tribes should be the first to go and attack the Canaanites?"
2The LORD answered, "The tribe of Judah will go first. I am giving them control of the land."
3The people of Judah said to the people of Simeon, "Go with us into the territory assigned to us, and we will fight the Canaanites together. Then we will go with you into the territory assigned to you." So the tribes of Simeon 4and Judah went into battle together. The LORD gave them victory over the Canaanites and the Perizzites, and they defeated ten thousand men at Bezek. 5They found Adonibezek there and fought him. 6He ran away, but they chased him, caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7Adonibezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. God has now done to me what I did to them." He was taken to Jerusalem, where he died.

The Tribe of Judah Conquers Jerusalem and Hebron

8The people of Judah attacked Jerusalem and captured it. They killed its people and set fire to the city. 9After this they went on to fight the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the foothills, and in the dry country to the south. 10They marched against the Canaanites living in the city of Hebron, which used to be called Kiriath Arba. There they defeated the clans of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.

Othniel Conquers the City of Debir
(Joshua 15.13-19)

11From there the men of Judah marched against the city of Debir, at that time called Kiriath Sepher. 12One of them, called Caleb, said, "I will give my daughter Achsah in marriage to the man who succeeds in capturing Kiriath Sepher." 13Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz, captured the city, so Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah in marriage. 14On the wedding day Othniel urged her to ask her father for a field. She got down from her donkey, and Caleb asked her what she wanted. 15She answered, "I want some water holes. The land you have given me is in the dry country." So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

The Victories of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin

16The descendants of Moses' father-in-law, the Kenite, went on with the people of Judah from Jericho, the city of palm trees, into the barren country south of Arad in Judah. There they settled among the Amalekites. 17The people of Judah went with the people of Simeon, and together they defeated the Canaanites who lived in the city of Zephath. They put a curse on the city, destroyed it, and named it Hormah. 18-19The LORD helped the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country. But they did not capture Gaza, Ashkelon, or Ekron, with their surrounding territories. These people living along the coast had iron chariots, and so the people of Judah were not able to drive them out. 20As Moses had commanded, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove out of the city the three clans descended from Anak. 21But the people of the tribe of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites living in Jerusalem, and the Jebusites have continued to live there with the people of Benjamin ever since.

The Tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh Conquer Bethel

22-23The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh went to attack the city of Bethel, at that time called Luz. The LORD helped them. They sent spies to the city, 24who saw a man leaving and said to him, "Show us how to get into the city, and we won't hurt you." 25So he showed them, and the people of Ephraim and Manasseh killed everyone in the city, except this man and his family. 26He later went to the land of the Hittites, built a city there, and named it Luz, which is still its name.

People Who Were Not Driven Out by the Israelites

27The tribe of Manasseh did not drive out the people living in the cities of Beth Shan, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo, and the nearby towns; the Canaanites continued to live there. 28When the Israelites became stronger, they forced the Canaanites to work for them, but still they did not drive them all out.
29The tribe of Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites living in the city of Gezer, and so the Canaanites continued to live there with them.
30The tribe of Zebulun did not drive out the people living in the cities of Kitron and Nahalal, and so the Canaanites continued to live there with them and were forced to work for them.
31The tribe of Asher did not drive out the people living in the cities of Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphek, and Rehob. 32The people of Asher lived with the local Canaanites, since they had not been driven out.
33The tribe of Naphtali did not drive out the people living in the cities of Beth Shemesh and Bethanath. The people of Naphtali lived with the local Canaanites, but forced them to work for them.
34The Amorites forced the people of the tribe of Dan into the hill country and did not let them come down to the plain. 35The Amorites continued to live at Aijalon, Shaalbim, and Mount Heres, but the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh kept them under their rule and forced them to work for them.
36North of Sela, the Edomite border ran through Akrabbim Pass.

Job 33 And now, Job, listen carefully
to all that I have to say.
2I am ready to say what's on my mind.
3All my words are sincere,
and I am speaking the truth.
4God's spirit made me and gave me life.

5Answer me if you can. Prepare your arguments.
6You and I are the same in God's sight,
both of us were formed from clay.
7So you have no reason to fear me;
I will not overpower you.

8Now this is what I heard you say:
9"I am not guilty; I have done nothing wrong.
I am innocent and free from sin.
10But God finds excuses for attacking me
and treats me like an enemy.
11He binds chains on my feet;
he watches every move I make."

12But I tell you, Job, you are wrong.
God is greater than any human being.
13Why do you accuse God
of never answering our complaints?
14Although God speaks again and again,
no one pays attention to what he says.
15At night when people are asleep,
God speaks in dreams and visions.
16He makes them listen to what he says,
and they are frightened at his warnings.
17God speaks to make them stop their sinning
and to save them from becoming proud.
18He will not let them be destroyed;
he saves them from death itself.
19God corrects us by sending sickness
and filling our bodies with pain.
20Those who are sick lose their appetites,
and even the finest food looks revolting.
21Their bodies waste away to nothing;
you can see all their bones;
22 they are about to go to the world of the dead.

23Perhaps an angel may come to their aid--
one of God's thousands of angels,
who remind us of our duty.
24In mercy the angel will say, "Release them!
They are not to go down to the world of the dead.
Here is the ransom to set them free."
25Their bodies will grow young and strong again;
26 when they pray, God will answer;
they will worship God with joy;
God will set things right for them again.
27Each one will say in public, "I have sinned.
I have not done right, but God spared me.
28He kept me from going to the world of the dead,
and I am still alive."

29God does all this again and again;
30 each one saves a person's life,
and gives him the joy of living.

31Now, Job, listen to what I am saying;
be quiet and let me speak.
32But if you have something to say, let me hear it;
I would gladly admit you are in the right.
33But if not, be quiet and listen to me,
and I will teach you how to be wise.

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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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