May 19 - Acts 26.1-18, Ruth 3-4 and Psalm 48
Paul Defends Himself before AgrippaActs 26 Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak on your own behalf." Paul stretched out his hand and defended himself as follows:
2"King Agrippa! I consider myself fortunate that today I am to defend myself before you from all the things these Jews accuse me of, 3particularly since you know so well all the Jewish customs and disputes. I ask you, then, to listen to me with patience.
4"All the Jews know how I have lived ever since I was young. They know how I have spent my whole life, at first in my own country and then in Jerusalem. 5They have always known, if they are willing to testify, that from the very first I have lived as a member of the strictest party of our religion, the Pharisees. 6And now I stand here to be tried because of the hope I have in the promise that God made to our ancestors-- 7the very thing that the twelve tribes of our people hope to receive, as they worship God day and night. And it is because of this hope, Your Majesty, that I am being accused by these Jews! 8Why do you who are here find it impossible to believe that God raises the dead?
9"I myself thought that I should do everything I could against the cause of Jesus of Nazareth. 10That is what I did in Jerusalem. I received authority from the chief priests and put many of God's people in prison; and when they were sentenced to death, I also voted against them. 11Many times I had them punished in the synagogues and tried to make them deny their faith. I was so furious with them that I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.
Paul Tells of His Conversion
Ruth Finds a HusbandRuth 3 Some time later Naomi said to Ruth, "I must find a husband for you, so that you will have a home of your own. 2Remember that this man Boaz, whose women you have been working with, is our relative. Now listen. This evening he will be threshing the barley. 3So wash yourself, put on some perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go where he is threshing, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4Be sure to notice where he lies down, and after he falls asleep, go and lift the covers and lie down at his feet. He will tell you what to do."
5Ruth answered, "I will do everything you say."
6So Ruth went to the threshing place and did just what her mother-in-law had told her. 7When Boaz had finished eating and drinking, he was in a good mood. He went to the pile of barley and lay down to sleep. Ruth slipped over quietly, lifted the covers and lay down at his feet. 8During the night he woke up suddenly, turned over, and was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet. 9"Who are you?" he asked.
"It's Ruth, sir," she answered. "Because you are a close relative, you are responsible for taking care of me. So please marry me."
10"The LORD bless you," he said. "You are showing even greater family loyalty in what you are doing now than in what you did for your mother-in-law. You might have gone looking for a young man, either rich or poor, but you haven't. 11Now don't worry, Ruth. I will do everything you ask; as everyone in town knows, you are a fine woman. 12It is true that I am a close relative and am responsible for you, but there is a man who is a closer relative than I am. 13Stay here the rest of the night, and in the morning we will find out whether or not he will take responsibility for you. If so, well and good; if not, then I swear by the living LORD that I will take the responsibility. Now lie down and stay here till morning."
14So she lay there at his feet, but she got up before it was light enough for her to be seen, because Boaz did not want anyone to know that she had been there. 15Boaz said to her, "Take off your cloak and spread it out here." She did, and he poured out almost fifty pounds of barley and helped her lift it to her shoulder. Then she returned to town with it. 16When she arrived home, her mother-in-law asked her, "How did you get along, daughter?"
Ruth told her everything that Boaz had done for her. 17She added, "He told me I must not come back to you empty-handed, so he gave me all this barley."
18Naomi said to her, "Now be patient, Ruth, until you see how this all turns out. Boaz will not rest today until he settles the matter."
Boaz Marries RuthRuth 4 Boaz went to the meeting place at the town gate and sat down there. Then Elimelech's nearest relative, the man whom Boaz had mentioned, came by, and Boaz called to him, "Come over here, my friend, and sit down." So he went over and sat down. 2Then Boaz got ten of the leaders of the town and asked them to sit down there too. When they were seated, 3he said to his relative, "Now that Naomi has come back from Moab, she wants to sell the field that belonged to our relative Elimelech, 4and I think you ought to know about it. Now then, if you want it, buy it in the presence of these men sitting here. But if you don't want it, say so, because the right to buy it belongs first to you and then to me."
The man said, "I will buy it."
5Boaz said, "Very well, if you buy the field from Naomi, then you are also buying Ruth, the Moabite widow, so that the field will stay in the dead man's family."
6The man answered, "In that case I will give up my right to buy the field, because it would mean that my own children would not inherit it. You buy it; I would rather not."
7Now in those days, to settle a sale or an exchange of property, it was the custom for the seller to take off his sandal and give it to the buyer. In this way the Israelites showed that the matter was settled.
8So when the man said to Boaz, "You buy it," he took off his sandal and gave it to Boaz. 9Then Boaz said to the leaders and all the others there, "You are all witnesses today that I have bought from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech and to his sons Chilion and Mahlon. 10In addition, Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon's widow, becomes my wife. This will keep the property in the dead man's family, and his family line will continue among his people and in his hometown. You are witnesses to this today."
11The leaders and the others said, "Yes, we are witnesses. May the LORD make your wife become like Rachel and Leah, who bore many children to Jacob. May you become rich in the clan of Ephrath and famous in Bethlehem. 12May the children that the LORD will give you by this young woman make your family like the family of Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar."
Boaz and His Descendants13So Boaz took Ruth home as his wife. The LORD blessed her, and she became pregnant and had a son. 14The women said to Naomi, "Praise the LORD! He has given you a grandson today to take care of you. May the boy become famous in Israel! 15Your daughter-in-law loves you, and has done more for you than seven sons. And now she has given you a grandson, who will bring new life to you and give you security in your old age." 16Naomi took the child, held him close, and took care of him.
17The women of the neighborhood named the boy Obed. They told everyone, "A son has been born to Naomi!"
Obed became the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.
18-22This is the family line from Perez to David: Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David.
Zion, the City of GodPsalm 48 The LORD is great and is to be highly praised
in the city of our God, on his sacred hill.
2Zion, the mountain of God, is high and beautiful;
the city of the great king brings joy to all the world.
3God has shown that there is safety with him
inside the fortresses of the city.
4The kings gathered together
and came to attack Mount Zion.
5But when they saw it, they were amazed;
they were afraid and ran away.
6There they were seized with fear and anguish,
like a woman about to bear a child,
7like ships tossing in a furious storm.
8We have heard what God has done,
and now we have seen it
in the city of our God, the LORD Almighty;
he will keep the city safe forever.
9Inside your Temple, O God,
we think of your constant love.
10You are praised by people everywhere,
and your fame extends over all the earth.
You rule with justice;
11let the people of Zion be glad!
You give right judgments;
let there be joy in the cities of Judah!
12People of God, walk around Zion and count the towers;
13take notice of the walls and examine the fortresses,
so that you may tell the next generation:
14"This God is our God forever and ever;
he will lead us for all time to come."
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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