May 4 - Acts 16.1-15, Judges 2-3 and Job 34

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Timothy Goes with Paul and Silas

Acts 16 Paul traveled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother, who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek. 2All the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. 3Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, so he circumcised him. He did so because all the Jews who lived in those places knew that Timothy's father was Greek. 4As they went through the towns, they delivered to the believers the rules decided upon by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, and they told them to obey those rules. 5So the churches were made stronger in the faith and grew in numbers every day.

In Troas: Paul's Vision

6They traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia. 7When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8So they traveled right on through Mysia and went to Troas. 9That night Paul had a vision in which he saw a Macedonian standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" 10As soon as Paul had this vision, we got ready to leave for Macedonia, because we decided that God had called us to preach the Good News to the people there.

In Philippi: the Conversion of Lydia

11We left by ship from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis. 12From there we went inland to Philippi, a city of the first district of Macedonia; it is also a Roman colony. We spent several days there. 13On the Sabbath we went out of the city to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there. 14One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshiped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. 15After she and the people of her house had been baptized, she invited us, "Come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord." And she persuaded us to go.

The Angel of the LORD at Bochim

Judges 2 The angel of the LORD went from Gilgal to Bochim and said to the Israelites, "I took you out of Egypt and brought you to the land that I promised to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you. 2You must not make any covenant with the people who live in this land. You must tear down their altars.' But you have not done what I told you. You have done just the opposite! 3So I tell you now that I will not drive these people out as you advance. They will be your enemies, and you will be trapped by the worship of their gods." 4When the angel had said this, all the people of Israel began to cry, 5and that is why the place is called Bochim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.

The Death of Joshua

6Joshua sent the people of Israel on their way, and each man went to take possession of his own share of the land. 7As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the LORD, and even after his death they continued to do so as long as the leaders were alive who had seen for themselves all the great things that the LORD had done for Israel. 8The LORD's servant Joshua son of Nun died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9He was buried in his own part of the land at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. 10That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the LORD and what he had done for Israel.

Israel Stops Worshiping the LORD

11Then the people of Israel sinned against the LORD and began to serve the Baals. 12They stopped worshiping the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the God who had brought them out of Egypt, and they began to worship other gods, the gods of the peoples around them. They bowed down to them and made the LORD angry. 13They stopped worshiping the LORD and served the Baals and the Astartes. 14And so the LORD became furious with Israel and let raiders attack and rob them. He let the enemies all around overpower them, and the Israelites could no longer protect themselves. 15Every time they would go into battle, the LORD was against them, just as he had said he would be. They were in great distress.
16Then the LORD gave the Israelites leaders who saved them from the raiders. 17But the Israelites paid no attention to their leaders. Israel was unfaithful to the LORD and worshiped other gods. Their fathers had obeyed the LORD's commands, but this new generation soon stopped doing so. 18Whenever the LORD gave Israel a leader, the LORD would help that leader and would save the people from their enemies as long as that leader lived. The LORD would have mercy on them because they groaned under their suffering and oppression. 19But when the leader died, the people would return to the old ways and behave worse than the previous generation. They would serve and worship other gods, and stubbornly continue their own evil ways. 20Then the LORD would become furious with Israel and say, "This nation has broken the covenant that I commanded their ancestors to keep. Because they have not obeyed me, 21I will no longer drive out any of the nations that were still in the land when Joshua died. 22I will use them to find out whether or not these Israelites will follow my ways, as their ancestors did." 23So the LORD allowed these nations to remain in the land; he did not give Joshua victory over them, nor did he drive them out soon after Joshua's death.

The Nations Remaining in the Land

Judges 3 So then, the LORD left some nations in the land to test the Israelites who had not been through the wars in Canaan. 2He did this only in order to teach each generation of Israelites about war, especially those who had never been in battle before. 3Those left in the land were the five Philistine cities, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon Mountains from Mount Baal Hermon as far as Hamath Pass. 4They were to be a test for Israel, to find out whether or not the Israelites would obey the commands that the LORD had given their ancestors through Moses. 5And so the people of Israel settled down among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 6They intermarried with them and worshiped their gods.


7The people of Israel forgot the LORD their God; they sinned against him and worshiped the idols of Baal and Asherah. 8So the LORD became angry with Israel and let King Cushan Rishathaim of Mesopotamia conquer them. They were subject to him for eight years. 9Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he sent someone to free them. This was Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz. 10The spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he became Israel's leader. Othniel went to war, and the LORD gave him the victory over the king of Mesopotamia. 11There was peace in the land for forty years, and then Othniel died.


12The people of Israel sinned against the LORD again. Because of this the LORD made King Eglon of Moab stronger than Israel. 13Eglon joined the Ammonites and the Amalekites; they defeated Israel and captured Jericho, the city of palm trees. 14The Israelites were subject to Eglon for eighteen years.
15Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he sent someone to free them. This was Ehud, a left-handed man, who was the son of Gera, from the tribe of Benjamin. The people of Israel sent Ehud to King Eglon of Moab with gifts for him. 16Ehud had made himself a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long. He had it fastened on his right side under his clothes. 17Then he took the gifts to Eglon, who was a very fat man. 18When Ehud had given him the gifts, he told the men who had carried them to go back home. 19But Ehud himself turned back at the carved stones near Gilgal, went back to Eglon, and said, "Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you."
So the king ordered his servants, "Leave us alone!" And they all went out.
20Then, as the king was sitting there alone in his cool room on the roof, Ehud went over to him and said, "I have a message from God for you." The king stood up. 21With his left hand Ehud took the sword from his right side and plunged it into the king's belly. 22The whole sword went in, handle and all, and the fat covered it up. Ehud did not pull it out of the king's belly, and it stuck out behind, between his legs. 23Then Ehud went outside, closed the doors behind him, locked them, 24and left. The servants came and saw that the doors were locked, but they only thought that the king was inside, relieving himself. 25They waited as long as they thought they should, but when he still did not open the door, they took the key and opened it. And there was their master, lying dead on the floor.
26Ehud got away while they were waiting. He went past the carved stones and escaped to Seirah. 27When he arrived there in the hill country of Ephraim, he blew a trumpet to call the people of Israel to battle; then he led them down from the hills. 28He told them, "Follow me! The LORD has given you victory over your enemies, the Moabites." So they followed Ehud down and captured the place where the Moabites were to cross the Jordan; they did not allow anyone to cross. 29That day they killed about ten thousand of the best Moabite soldiers; none of them escaped. 30That day the Israelites defeated Moab, and there was peace in the land for eighty years.


31The next leader was Shamgar son of Anath. He too rescued Israel, and did so by killing six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad.

Job 34 1-2You men are so wise, so clever;
listen now to what I am saying.
3You know good food when you taste it,
but not wise words when you hear them.
4It is up to us to decide the case.
5Job claims that he is innocent,
that God refuses to give him justice.
6He asks, "How could I lie and say I am wrong?
I am fatally wounded, but I am sinless."

7Have you ever seen anyone like this man Job?
He never shows respect for God.
8He likes the company of evil people
and goes around with sinners.
9He says that it never does any good
to try to follow God's will.

10Listen to me, you men who understand!
Will Almighty God do what is wrong?
11He rewards people for what they do
and treats them as they deserve.
12Almighty God does not do evil;
he is never unjust to anyone.
13Did God get his power from someone else?
Did someone put him in charge of the world?
14If God took back the breath of life,
15 then everyone living would die
and turn into dust again.

16Now listen to me, if you are wise.
17Are you condemning the righteous God?
Do you think that he hates justice?
18God condemns kings and rulers
when they are worthless or wicked.
19He does not take the side of rulers
nor favor the rich over the poor,
for he created everyone.
20We may suddenly die at night.
God strikes us down and we perish;
he kills the mighty with no effort at all.
21He watches every step we take.
22There is no darkness dark enough
to hide a sinner from God.
23God does not need to set a time
for us to go and be judged by him.
24He does not need an investigation
to remove leaders and replace them with others.
25Because he knows what they do;
he overthrows them and crushes them by night.
26He punishes sinners where all can see it,
27 because they have stopped following him
and ignored all his commands.
28They forced the poor to cry out to God,
and he heard their calls for help.

29If God decided to do nothing at all,
no one could criticize him.
If he hid his face, we would be helpless.
30There would be nothing that nations could do
to keep godless oppressors from ruling them.

31Job, have you confessed your sins to God
and promised not to sin again?
32Have you asked God to show you your faults,
and have you agreed to stop doing evil?
33Since you object to what God does,
can you expect him to do what you want?
The decision is yours, not mine;
tell us now what you think.

34Any sensible person will surely agree;
and the wise who hear me will say
35 that Job is speaking from ignorance
and that nothing he says makes sense.
36Think through everything that Job says;
you will see that he talks like an evil man.
37To his sins he adds rebellion;
in front of us all he mocks God.

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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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