April 20 - Acts 8.1-25, Deuteronomy 33-34 and Job 20

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Saul Makes Trouble for the Church

Acts 8 At that time the church in Jerusalem suffered terribly. All of the Lord's followers, except the apostles, were scattered everywhere in Judea and Samaria. 3Saul started making a lot of trouble for the church. He went from house to house, arresting men and women and putting them in jail.

The Good News Is Preached in Samaria

4The Lord's followers who had been scattered went from place to place, telling the good news. 5Philip went to the city of Samaria and told the people about Christ. 6They crowded around Philip because they were eager to hear what he was saying and to see him work miracles. 7Many people with evil spirits were healed, and the spirits went out of them with a shout. A lot of crippled and lame people were also healed. 8Everyone in that city was very glad because of what was happening.
9For some time a man named Simon had lived in the city of Samaria and had amazed the people. He practiced witchcraft and claimed to be somebody great. 10Everyone, rich and poor, crowded around him. They said, "This man is the power of God called 'The Great Power.' "
11For a long time, Simon had used witchcraft to amaze the people, and they kept crowding around him. 12But when they believed what Philip was saying about God's kingdom and about the name of Jesus Christ, they were all baptized. 13Even Simon believed and was baptized. He stayed close to Philip, because he marveled at all the miracles and wonders.
14The apostles in Jerusalem heard that some people in Samaria had accepted God's message, and they sent Peter and John. 15When the two apostles arrived, they prayed that the people would be given the Holy Spirit. 16Before this, the Holy Spirit had not been given to anyone in Samaria, though some of them had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Peter and John then placed their hands on everyone who had faith in the Lord, and they were given the Holy Spirit.
18Simon noticed that the Spirit was given only when the apostles placed their hands on the people. So he brought money 19and said to Peter and John, "Let me have this power too! Then anyone I place my hands on will also be given the Holy Spirit."
20Peter said to him, "You and your money will both end up in hell if you think you can buy God's gift! 21You don't have any part in this, and God sees that your heart isn't right. 22Get rid of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you. 23I can see that you are jealous and bound by your evil ways."
24Simon said, "Please pray to the Lord, so that what you said won't happen to me."
25After Peter and John had preached about the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem. On their way they told the good news in many villages of Samaria.

Moses Blesses the Tribes of Israel

Deuteronomy 33 Moses was a prophet, and before he died, he blessed the tribes of Israel by saying:
2The LORD came from Mount Sinai.
From Edom, he gave light to his people,
and his glory was shining from Mount Paran.
Thousands of his warriors were with him,
and fire was at his right hand.
3The LORD loves the tribes of Israel,
and he protects his people.
They listen to his words and worship at his feet.
*4I called a meeting of the tribes of Israel
and gave you God's Law.
5Then you and your leaders made the LORD your king.

6Tribe of Reuben, you will live,
even though your tribe will always be small.

7The LORD will listen to you, tribe of Judah,
as you beg to come safely home.
You fought your enemies alone;
now the LORD will help you.

8At Massah and Meribah Spring, the LORD tested you,
tribe of Levi.
You were faithful, and so the priesthood belongs
to the Levi tribe.
9Protecting Israel's agreement with the LORD
was more important to you
than the life of your father or mother,
or brothers or sisters, or your own children.

10You teach God's laws to Israel, and at the place of worship
you offer sacrifices and burn incense.
11I pray that the LORD will bless everything you do,
and make you strong enough to crush your enemies.
12The LORD Most High loves you, tribe of Benjamin.
He will live among your hills and protect you.

13Descendants of Joseph, the LORD will bless you
with precious water from deep wells
and with dew from the sky.
14Month by month, your fruit will ripen in the sunshine.
15You will have a rich harvest
from the slopes of the ancient hills.
16The LORD who appeared in the burning bush
wants to give you the best the land can produce,
and it will be a princely crown on Joseph's head.

17The armies of Ephraim and Manasseh
are majestic and fierce like a bull or a wild ox.
They will run their spears through faraway nations.

18Be happy, Zebulun, as your boats set sail;
be happy, Issachar, in your tents.
19The sea will make you wealthy, and from the sandy beach
you will get treasure.
So invite the other tribes to celebrate with you
and offer sacrifices to God.

20Tribe of Gad, the LORD will bless you with more land.
So shout his praises!
Your tribe is like a lion ripping up its victim.
21Your leaders met together
and chose the best land for your tribe,
but you obeyed the LORD and helped the other tribes.

22Tribe of Dan, you are like a lion cub,
startled by a snake.

23The LORD is pleased with you, people of Naphtali.
He will bless you and give you the land
to the west and the south.

24The LORD's greatest blessing is for you, tribe of Asher.
You will be the favorite of all the other tribes.
You will be rich with olive oil
25and have strong town gates with bronze and iron bolts.
Your people will be powerful for as long as they live.

26Israel, no other god is like ours--
the clouds are his chariot as he rides across the skies
to come and help us.
27The eternal God is our hiding place;
he carries us in his arms.
When God tells you to destroy your enemies,
he will make them run.
28Israel, you will live in safety; your enemies will be gone.
The dew will fall from the sky,
and you will have plenty of grain and wine.
29The LORD has rescued you and given you more blessings
than any other nation.
He protects you like a shield and is your majestic sword.
Your enemies will bow in fear,
and you will trample on their backs.

The Death of Moses

Deuteronomy 34 Sometime later, Moses left the lowlands of Moab. He went up Mount Pisgah to the peak of Mount Nebo, which is across the Jordan River from Jericho. The LORD showed him all the land as far north as Gilead and the town of Dan. 2He let Moses see the territories that would soon belong to the tribes of Naphtali, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah, as far west as the Mediterranean Sea. 3The LORD also showed him the land in the south, from the valley near the town of Jericho, known as The City of Palm Trees, down to the town of Zoar.
4The LORD said, "Moses, this is the land I was talking about when I solemnly promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give land to their descendants. I have let you see it, but you will not cross the Jordan and go in."
5And so, Moses the LORD's servant died there in Moab, just as the LORD had said. 6The LORD buried him in a valley near the town of Beth-Peor, but even today no one knows exactly where. 7Moses was a hundred twenty years old when he died, yet his eyesight was still good, and his body was strong.
8The people of Israel stayed in the lowlands of Moab, where they mourned and grieved thirty days for Moses, as was their custom.

Joshua Becomes the Leader of Israel

9Before Moses died, he had placed his hands on Joshua, and the LORD had given Joshua wisdom. The Israelites paid attention to what Joshua said and obeyed the commands that the LORD had given Moses.

Moses Was a Great Prophet

10There has never again been a prophet in Israel like Moses. The LORD spoke face to face with him 11and sent him to perform powerful miracles in the presence of the king of Egypt and his entire nation. 12No one else has ever had the power to do such great things as Moses did for everyone to see.

Zophar's Second Speech

Your Words Are Disturbing

Job 20 Zophar from Naamah said:
2Your words are disturbing; now I must speak.
3You have accused and insulted me,
and reason requires a reply.
4Since the time of creation, everyone has known
5that sinful people are happy for only a while.
6Though their pride and power may reach to the sky,
7they will disappear like dust,
and those who knew them will wonder what happened.
8They will be forgotten like a dream
9and vanish from the sight of family and friends.
10Their children will have to repay
what the parents took from the poor.
11Indeed, the wicked will die and go to their graves
in the prime of life.

Sinners Love the Taste of Sin

12Sinners love the taste of sin;
they relish every bite 13and swallow it slowly.
14But their food will turn sour and poison their stomachs.
15Then God will make them lose
the wealth they gobbled down.
16They will die from the fangs of poisonous snakes
17and never enjoy rivers flowing with milk and honey.
18Their hard work will result in nothing gained,
19because they cheated the poor and took their homes.

20Greedy people want everything and are never satisfied.
21But when nothing remains for them to grab,
they will be nothing.
22Once they have everything,
distress and despair will strike them down,
23and God will make them swallow his blazing anger.

24While running from iron spears,
they will be killed by arrows of bronze,
25whose shining tips go straight through their bodies.
They will be trapped by terror,
26and what they treasure most will be lost in the dark.
God will send flames to destroy them in their tents
with all their property.
27The heavens and the earth will testify against them,
28and all their possessions will be dragged off
when God becomes angry.
29This is what God has decided for those who are evil.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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