May 20 - Acts 26.19-32, 1 Samuel 1.1-2.11 and Psalm 49
Paul Tells of His WorkActs 26 19"And so, King Agrippa, I did not disobey the vision I had from heaven. 20First in Damascus and in Jerusalem and then in the whole country of Israel and among the Gentiles, I preached that they must repent of their sins and turn to God and do the things that would show they had repented. 21It was for this reason that these Jews seized me while I was in the Temple, and they tried to kill me. 22But to this very day I have been helped by God, and so I stand here giving my witness to all, to small and great alike. What I say is the very same thing which the prophets and Moses said was going to happen: 23that the Messiah must suffer and be the first one to rise from death, to announce the light of salvation to the Jews and to the Gentiles."
24As Paul defended himself in this way, Festus shouted at him, "You are mad, Paul! Your great learning is driving you mad!"
25Paul answered, "I am not mad, Your Excellency! I am speaking the sober truth. 26King Agrippa! I can speak to you with all boldness, because you know about these things. I am sure that you have taken notice of every one of them, for this thing has not happened hidden away in a corner. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do!"
28Agrippa said to Paul, "In this short time do you think you will make me a Christian?"
29"Whether a short time or a long time," Paul answered, "my prayer to God is that you and all the rest of you who are listening to me today might become what I am--except, of course, for these chains!"
30Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others got up, 31and after leaving they said to each other, "This man has not done anything for which he should die or be put in prison." 32And Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been released if he had not appealed to the Emperor."
Elkanah and His Family at Shiloh1 Samuel 1 There was a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who lived in the town of Ramah in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham and grandson of Elihu, and belonged to the family of Tohu, a part of the clan of Zuph. 2Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. 3Every year Elkanah went from Ramah to worship and offer sacrifices to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4Each time Elkanah offered his sacrifice, he would give one share of the meat to Peninnah and one share to each of her children. 5And even though he loved Hannah very much he would give her only one share, because the LORD had kept her from having children. 6Peninnah, her rival, would torment and humiliate her, because the LORD had kept her childless. 7This went on year after year; whenever they went to the house of the LORD, Peninnah would upset Hannah so much that she would cry and refuse to eat anything. 8Her husband Elkanah would ask her, "Hannah, why are you crying? Why won't you eat? Why are you always so sad? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"
Hannah and Eli9-10One time, after they had finished their meal in the house of the LORD at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the LORD. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door. 11Hannah made a solemn promise: "LORD Almighty, look at me, your servant! See my trouble and remember me! Don't forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will dedicate him to you for his whole life and that he will never have his hair cut."
12Hannah continued to pray to the LORD for a long time, and Eli watched her lips. 13She was praying silently; her lips were moving, but she made no sound. So Eli thought that she was drunk, 14and he said to her, "Stop making a drunken show of yourself ! Stop your drinking and sober up!"
15"No, I'm not drunk, sir," she answered. "I haven't been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the LORD. 16Don't think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I'm so miserable."
17"Go in peace," Eli said, "and may the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for."
18"May you always think kindly of me," she replied. Then she went away, ate some food, and was no longer sad.
Samuel's Birth and Dedication19The next morning Elkanah and his family got up early, and after worshiping the LORD, they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with his wife Hannah, and the LORD answered her prayer. 20So it was that she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, and explained, "I asked the LORD for him."
21The time came again for Elkanah and his family to go to Shiloh and offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and the special sacrifice he had promised. 22But this time Hannah did not go. She told her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will take him to the house of the LORD, where he will stay all his life."
23Elkanah answered, "All right, do whatever you think best; stay at home until you have weaned him. And may the LORD make your promise come true." So Hannah stayed at home and nursed her child.
24After she had weaned him, she took him to Shiloh, taking along a three-year-old bull, a bushel of flour, and a leather bag full of wine. She took Samuel, young as he was, to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25After they had killed the bull, they took the child to Eli. 26Hannah said to him, "Excuse me, sir. Do you remember me? I am the woman you saw standing here, praying to the LORD. 27I asked him for this child, and he gave me what I asked for. 28So I am dedicating him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he will belong to the LORD."
Then they worshiped the LORD there.
Hannah's Prayer1 Samuel 2 Hannah prayed:
"The LORD has filled my heart with joy;
how happy I am because of what he has done!
I laugh at my enemies;
how joyful I am because God has helped me!
2"No one is holy like the LORD;
there is none like him,
no protector like our God.
3Stop your loud boasting;
silence your proud words.
For the LORD is a God who knows,
and he judges all that people do.
4The bows of strong soldiers are broken,
but the weak grow strong.
5The people who once were well fed
now hire themselves out to get food,
but the hungry are hungry no more.
The childless wife has borne seven children,
but the mother of many is left with none.
6The LORD kills and restores to life;
he sends people to the world of the dead
and brings them back again.
7He makes some people poor and others rich;
he humbles some and makes others great.
8He lifts the poor from the dust
and raises the needy from their misery.
He makes them companions of princes
and puts them in places of honor.
The foundations of the earth belong to the LORD;
on them he has built the world.
9"He protects the lives of his faithful people,
but the wicked disappear in darkness;
a man does not triumph by his own strength.
10The LORD's enemies will be destroyed;
he will thunder against them from heaven.
The LORD will judge the whole world;
he will give power to his king,
he will make his chosen king victorious."
11Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah, but the boy Samuel stayed in Shiloh and served the LORD under the priest Eli.
The Foolishness of Trusting in RichesPsalm 49 Hear this, everyone!
Listen, all people everywhere,
2great and small alike,
rich and poor together.
3My thoughts will be clear;
I will speak words of wisdom.
4I will turn my attention to proverbs
and explain their meaning as I play the harp.
5I am not afraid in times of danger
when I am surrounded by enemies,
6by evil people who trust in their riches
and boast of their great wealth.
7We can never redeem ourselves;
we cannot pay God the price for our lives,
8because the payment for a human life is too great.
What we could pay would never be enough
9to keep us from the grave,
to let us live forever.
10Anyone can see that even the wise die,
as well as the foolish and stupid.
They all leave their riches to their descendants.
11Their graves are their homes forever;
there they stay for all time,
though they once had lands of their own.
12Our greatness cannot keep us from death;
we will still die like the animals.
13See what happens to those who trust in themselves,
the fate of those who are satisfied with their wealth--
14they are doomed to die like sheep,
and Death will be their shepherd.
The righteous will triumph over them,
as their bodies quickly decay
in the world of the dead far from their homes.
15But God will rescue me;
he will save me from the power of death.
16Don't be upset when someone becomes rich,
when his wealth grows even greater;
17he cannot take it with him when he dies;
his wealth will not go with him to the grave.
18Even if someone is satisfied with this life
and is praised because he is successful,
19he will join all his ancestors in death,
where the darkness lasts forever.
20Our greatness cannot keep us from death;
we will still die like the animals.
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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