May 6 - Acts 17.1-15, Judges 6 and Job 36
In ThessalonicaActs 17 Paul and Silas traveled on through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue. 2According to his usual habit Paul went to the synagogue. There during three Sabbaths he held discussions with the people, quoting 3and explaining the Scriptures, and proving from them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from death. "This Jesus whom I announce to you," Paul said, "is the Messiah." 4Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas; so did many of the leading women and a large group of Greeks who worshiped God.
5But some Jews were jealous and gathered worthless loafers from the streets and formed a mob. They set the whole city in an uproar and attacked the home of a man named Jason, in an attempt to find Paul and Silas and bring them out to the people. 6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city authorities and shouted, "These men have caused trouble everywhere! Now they have come to our city, 7and Jason has kept them in his house. They are all breaking the laws of the Emperor, saying that there is another king, whose name is Jesus." 8With these words they threw the crowd and the city authorities in an uproar. 9The authorities made Jason and the others pay the required amount of money to be released, and then let them go.
In Berea10As soon as night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue. 11The people there were more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica. They listened to the message with great eagerness, and every day they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was really true. 12Many of them believed; and many Greek women of high social standing and many Greek men also believed. 13But when the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul had preached the word of God in Berea also, they came there and started exciting and stirring up the mobs. 14At once the believers sent Paul away to the coast; but both Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. 15The men who were taking Paul went with him as far as Athens and then returned to Berea with instructions from Paul that Silas and Timothy should join him as soon as possible.
GideonJudges 6 Once again the people of Israel sinned against the LORD, so he let the people of Midian rule them for seven years. 2The Midianites were stronger than Israel, and the people of Israel hid from them in caves and other safe places in the hills. 3Whenever the Israelites would plant their crops, the Midianites would come with the Amalekites and the desert tribes and attack them. 4They would camp on the land and destroy the crops as far south as the area around Gaza. They would take all the sheep, cattle, and donkeys, and leave nothing for the Israelites to live on. 5They would come with their livestock and tents, as thick as locusts. They and their camels were too many to count. They came and devastated the land, 6and Israel was helpless against them.
7Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help against the Midianites, 8and he sent them a prophet who brought them this message from the LORD, the God of Israel: "I brought you out of slavery in Egypt. 9I rescued you from the Egyptians and from the people who fought you here in this land. I drove them out as you advanced, and I gave you their land. 10I told you that I am the LORD your God and that you should not worship the gods of the Amorites, whose land you are now living in. But you have not listened to me."
11Then the LORD's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was threshing some wheat secretly in a wine press, so that the Midianites would not see him. 12The LORD's angel appeared to him there and said, "The LORD is with you, brave and mighty man!"
13Gideon said to him, "If I may ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if the LORD is with us? What happened to all the wonderful things that our fathers told us the LORD used to do--how he brought them out of Egypt? The LORD has abandoned us and left us to the mercy of the Midianites."
14Then the LORD ordered him, "Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you."
15Gideon replied, "But Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family."
16The LORD answered, "You can do it because I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man."
17Gideon replied, "If you are pleased with me, give me some proof that you are really the LORD. 18Please do not leave until I bring you an offering of food."
He said, "I will stay until you come back."
19So Gideon went into his house and cooked a young goat and used a bushel of flour to make bread without any yeast. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, brought them to the LORD's angel under the oak tree, and gave them to him. 20The angel told him, "Put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them." Gideon did so. 21Then the LORD's angel reached out and touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick he was holding. Fire came out of the rock and burned up the meat and the bread. Then the angel disappeared.
22Gideon then realized that it was the LORD's angel he had seen, and he said in terror, "Sovereign LORD! I have seen your angel face-to-face!"
23But the LORD told him, "Peace. Don't be afraid. You will not die." 24Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it "The LORD is Peace." (It is still standing at Ophrah, which belongs to the clan of Abiezer.)
25That night the LORD told Gideon, "Take your father's bull and another bull seven years old, tear down your father's altar to Baal, and cut down the symbol of the goddess Asherah, which is beside it. 26Build a well-constructed altar to the LORD your God on top of this mound. Then take the second bull and burn it whole as an offering, using for firewood the symbol of Asherah you have cut down." 27So Gideon took ten of his servants and did what the LORD had told him. He was too afraid of his family and the people in town to do it by day, so he did it at night.
28When the people in town got up early the next morning, they found that the altar to Baal and the symbol of Asherah had been cut down, and that the second bull had been burned on the altar that had been built there. 29They asked each other, "Who did this?" They investigated and found out that Gideon son of Joash had done it. 30Then they said to Joash, "Bring your son out here, so that we can kill him! He tore down the altar to Baal and cut down the symbol of Asherah beside it."
31But Joash said to all those who confronted him, "Are you arguing for Baal? Are you defending him? Anyone who argues for him will be killed before morning. If Baal is a god, let him defend himself. It is his altar that was torn down." 32From then on Gideon was known as Jerubbaal, because Joash said, "Let Baal defend himself; it is his altar that was torn down."
33Then all the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the desert tribes assembled, crossed the Jordan River, and camped in Jezreel Valley. 34The spirit of the LORD took control of Gideon, and he blew a trumpet to call the men of the clan of Abiezer to follow him. 35He sent messengers throughout the territory of both parts of Manasseh to call them to follow him. He sent messengers to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they also came to join him.
36Then Gideon said to God, "You say that you have decided to use me to rescue Israel. 37Well, I am putting some wool on the ground where we thresh the wheat. If in the morning there is dew only on the wool but not on the ground, then I will know that you are going to use me to rescue Israel." 38That is exactly what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the wool and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a bowl with water. 39Then Gideon said to God, "Don't be angry with me; let me speak just once more. Please let me make one more test with the wool. This time let the wool be dry, and the ground be wet." 40That night God did that very thing. The next morning the wool was dry, but the ground was wet with dew.
Job 36 1-2Be patient and listen a little longer
to what I am saying on God's behalf.
3My knowledge is wide; I will use what I know
to show that God, my Creator, is just.
4Nothing I say to you is false;
you see before you a truly wise man.
5How strong God is! He despises no one;
there is nothing he doesn't understand.
6He does not let sinners live on,
and he always treats the poor with justice.
7He protects those who are righteous;
he allows them to rule like kings
and lets them be honored forever.
8But if people are bound in chains,
suffering for what they have done,
9 God shows them their sins and their pride.
10He makes them listen to his warning
to turn away from evil.
11If they obey God and serve him,
they live out their lives in peace and prosperity.
12But if not, they will die in ignorance
and cross the stream into the world of the dead.
13Those who are godless keep on being angry,
and even when punished, they don't pray for help.
14They die while they are still young,
worn out by a life of disgrace.
15But God teaches people through suffering
and uses distress to open their eyes.
16God brought you out of trouble,
and let you enjoy security;
your table was piled high with food.
17But now you are being punished as you deserve.
18Be careful not to let bribes deceive you,
or riches lead you astray.
19It will do you no good to cry out for help;
all your strength can't help you now.
20Don't wish for night to come,
the time when nations will perish.
21Be careful not to turn to evil;
your suffering was sent to keep you from it.
22Remember how great is God's power;
he is the greatest teacher of all.
23No one can tell God what to do
or accuse him of doing evil.
24He has always been praised for what he does;
you also must praise him.
25Everyone has seen what he has done;
but we can only watch from a distance.
26We cannot fully know his greatness
or count the number of his years.
27It is God who takes water from the earth
and turns it into drops of rain.
28He lets the rain pour from the clouds
in showers for all human beings.
29No one knows how the clouds move
or how the thunder roars
through the sky, where God dwells.
30He sends lightning through all the sky,
but the depths of the sea remain dark.
31This is how he feeds the people
and provides an abundance of food.
32He seizes the lightning with his hands
and commands it to hit the mark.
33Thunder announces the approaching storm,
and the cattle know it is coming.
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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