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Today’s Bible Reading

May 10

Acts 19:21-41; Judges 11:34-12:15; Job 40 MSG

Acts 19

1 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. 2 The first thing he said was, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?" "We've never even heard of that – a Holy Spirit? God within us?" 3 "How were you baptized, then?" asked Paul. "In John's baptism." 4 "That explains it," said Paul. "John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you've been baptized in John's baptism, you're ready now for the real thing, for Jesus." 5 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. 6 Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God's actions. 7 Altogether there were about twelve people there that day. 8 Paul then went straight to the meeting place. He had the run of the place for three months, doing his best to make the things of the kingdom of God real and convincing to them. 9 But then resistance began to form as some of them began spreading evil rumors through the congregation about the Christian way of life. So Paul left, taking the disciples with him, and set up shop in the school of Tyrannus, holding class there daily. 10 He did this for two years, giving everyone in the province of Asia, Jews as well as Greeks, ample opportunity to hear the Message of the Master. 11 God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. 12 The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing – handkerchiefs and scarves and the like – that had touched Paul's skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it – they were healed and whole. 13 Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul's "game." They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, "I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!" 14 The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man 15 when the evil spirit talked back: "I know Jesus and I've heard of Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the possessed man went berserk – jumped the exorcists, beat them up, and tore off their clothes. Naked and bloody, they got away as best they could. 17 It was soon news all over Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. The realization spread that God was in and behind this. Curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the Master Jesus. 18 Many of those who thus believed came out of the closet and made a clean break with their secret sorceries. 19 All kinds of witches and warlocks came out of the woodwork with their books of spells and incantations and made a huge bonfire of them. Someone estimated their worth at fifty thousand silver coins. 20 In such ways it became evident that the Word of the Master was now sovereign and prevailed in Ephesus. 21 After all this had come to a head, Paul decided it was time to move on to Macedonia and Achaia provinces, and from there to Jerusalem. "Then," he said, "I'm off to Rome. I've got to see Rome!" 22 He sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, on to Macedonia while he stayed for a while and wrapped things up in Asia. 23 But before he got away, a huge ruckus occurred over what was now being referred to as "the Way." 24 A certain silversmith, Demetrius, conducted a brisk trade in the manufacture of shrines to the goddess Artemis, employing a number of artisans in his business. 25 He rounded up his workers and others similarly employed and said, "Men, you well know that we have a good thing going here – 26 and you've seen how Paul has barged in and discredited what we're doing by telling people that there's no such thing as a god made with hands. A lot of people are going along with him, not only here in Ephesus but all through Asia province. 27 "Not only is our little business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our famous goddess Artemis will certainly end up a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing. And this is no mere local matter – the whole world worships our Artemis!" 28 That set them off in a frenzy. They ran into the street yelling, "Great Artemis of the Ephesians! 29 Great Artemis of the Ephesians!" They put the whole city in an uproar, stampeding into the stadium, and grabbing two of Paul's associates on the way, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus. 30 Paul wanted to go in, too, but the disciples wouldn't let him. 31 Prominent religious leaders in the city who had become friendly to Paul concurred: "By no means go near that mob!" 32 Some were yelling one thing, some another. Most of them had no idea what was going on or why they were there. 33 As the Jews pushed Alexander to the front to try to gain control, different factions clamored to get him on their side. But he brushed them off and quieted the mob with an impressive sweep of his arms. 34 But the moment he opened his mouth and they knew he was a Jew, they shouted him down: "Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!" – on and on and on, for over two hours. 35 Finally, the town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, "Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere who doesn't know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven? 36 Since this is beyond contradiction, you had better get hold of yourselves. This is conduct unworthy of Artemis. 37 These men you've dragged in here have done nothing to harm either our temple or our goddess. 38 "So if Demetrius and his guild of artisans have a complaint, they can take it to court and make all the accusations they want. 39 If anything else is bothering you, bring it to the regularly scheduled town meeting and let it be settled there. 40 There is no excuse for what's happened today. We're putting our city in serious danger. Rome, remember, does not look kindly on rioters." 41 With that, he sent them home.

Judges 11

1 Jephthah the Gileadite was one tough warrior. He was the son of a whore, but Gilead was his father. 2 Meanwhile Gilead's legal wife had given him other sons, and when they grew up, his wife's sons threw Jephthah out. They told him: "You're not getting any of our family inheritance – you're the son of another woman." 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and went to live in the land of Tob. Some riff-raff joined him and went around with him. 4 Some time passed. And then the Ammonites started fighting Israel. 5 With the Ammonites at war with them, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 They said to Jephthah: "Come. Be our general and we'll fight the Ammonites." 7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead: "But you hate me. You kicked me out of my family home. So why are you coming to me now? Because you are in trouble. Right?" 8 The elders of Gilead replied, "That's it exactly. We've come to you to get you to go with us and fight the Ammonites. You'll be the head of all of us, all the Gileadites." 9 Jephthah addressed the elders of Gilead, "So if you bring me back home to fight the Ammonites and God gives them to me, I'll be your head – is that right?" 10 They said, "God is witness between us; whatever you say, we'll do." 11 Jephthah went along with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their top man and general. And Jephthah repeated what he had said before God at Mizpah. 12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with a message: "What's going on here that you have come into my country picking a fight?" 13 The king of the Ammonites told Jephthah's messengers: "Because Israel took my land when they came up out of Egypt – from the Arnon all the way to the Jabbok and to the Jordan. Give it back peaceably and I'll go." 14 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with the message: 15 "Jephthah's word: Israel took no Moabite land and no Ammonite land. 16 When they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the desert as far as the Red Sea, arriving at Kadesh. 17 There Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom saying, 'Let us pass through your land, please.' But the king of Edom wouldn't let them. Israel also requested permission from the king of Moab, but he wouldn't let them cross either. They were stopped in their tracks at Kadesh. 18 So they traveled across the desert and circled around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came out east of the land of Moab and set camp on the other side of the Arnon – they didn't set foot in Moabite territory, for Arnon was the Moabite border. 19 Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites at Heshbon the capital. Israel asked, 'Let us pass, please, through your land on the way to our country.' 20 But Sihon didn't trust Israel to cut across his land; he got his entire army together, set up camp at Jahaz, and fought Israel. 21 But God, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his troops to Israel. Israel defeated them. Israel took all the Amorite land, 22 all Amorite land from Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan. 23 It was God, the God of Israel, who pushed out the Amorites in favor of Israel; so who do you think you are to try to take it over? 24 Why don't you just be satisfied with what your god Chemosh gives you and we'll settle for what God, our God, gives us? 25 Do you think you're going to come off better than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he get anywhere in opposing Israel? Did he risk war? 26 All this time – it's been three hundred years now! – that Israel has lived in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns along the Arnon, why didn't you try to snatch them away then? 27 No, I haven't wronged you. But this is an evil thing that you are doing to me by starting a fight. Today God the Judge will decide between the People of Israel and the people of Ammon." 28 But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen to a word that Jephthah had sent him. 29 God's Spirit came upon Jephthah. He went across Gilead and Manasseh, went through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there approached the Ammonites. 30 Jephthah made a vow before God: "If you give me a clear victory over the Ammonites, 31 then I'll give to God whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in one piece from among the Ammonites – I'll offer it up in a sacrificial burnt offering." 32 Then Jephthah was off to fight the Ammonites. And God gave them to him. 33 He beat them soundly, all the way from Aroer to the area around Minnith as far as Abel Keramim – twenty cities! A massacre! Ammonites brought to their knees by the People of Israel. 34 Jephthah came home to Mizpah. His daughter ran from the house to welcome him home – dancing to tambourines! She was his only child. He had no son or daughter except her. 35 When he realized who it was, he ripped his clothes, saying, "Ah, dearest daughter – I'm dirt. I'm despicable. My heart is torn to shreds. I made a vow to God and I can't take it back!" 36 She said, "Dear father, if you made a vow to God, do to me what you vowed; God did his part and saved you from your Ammonite enemies." 37 And then she said to her father, "But let this one thing be done for me. Give me two months to wander through the hills and lament my virginity since I will never marry, I and my dear friends." 38 "Oh yes, go," he said. He sent her off for two months. She and her dear girlfriends went among the hills, lamenting that she would never marry. 39 At the end of the two months, she came back to her father. He fulfilled the vow with her that he had made. She had never slept with a man. 40 that for four days every year the young women of Israel went out to mourn for the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Judges 12

1 The men of Ephraim mustered their troops, crossed to Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, "Why did you go out to fight the Ammonites without letting us go with you? We're going to burn your house down on you!" 2 Jephthah said, "I and my people had our hands full negotiating with the Ammonites. And I did call to you for help but you ignored me. 3 When I saw that you weren't coming, I took my life in my hands and confronted the Ammonites myself. And God gave them to me! So why did you show up here today? Are you spoiling for a fight with me?" 4 So Jephthah got his Gilead troops together and fought Ephraim. And the men of Gilead hit them hard because they were saying, "Gileadites are nothing but half-breeds and rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh." 5 Gilead captured the fords of the Jordan at the crossing to Ephraim. If an Ephraimite fugitive said, "Let me cross," the men of Gilead would ask, "Are you an Ephraimite?" and he would say, "No." 6 And they would say, "Say, 'Shibboleth.'" But he would always say, "Sibboleth" – he couldn't say it right. Then they would grab him and kill him there at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two Ephraimite divisions were killed on that occasion. 7 Jephthah judged Israel six years. Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city, Mizpah of Gilead. 8 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty daughters-in-law from the outside for his sons. 10 He judged Israel seven years. Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem. 11 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. 12 Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun. 13 After him, Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. 15 Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim in the Amalekite hill country.

Job 40:1-28

1 God then confronted Job directly: 2 "Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?" Job Answers God I'm Ready to Shut Up and Listen 3 Job answered: 4 "I'm speechless, in awe – words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! 5 I've talked too much, way too much. I'm ready to shut up and listen." God's Second Set of Questions I Want Straight Answers 6 God addressed Job next from the eye of the storm, and this is what he said: 7 "I have some more questions for you, and I want straight answers. 8 "Do you presume to tell me what I'm doing wrong? Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint? 9 Do you have an arm like my arm? Can you shout in thunder the way I can? 10 Go ahead, show your stuff. Let's see what you're made of, what you can do. 11 Unleash your outrage. Target the arrogant and lay them flat. 12 Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees. Stop the wicked in their tracks – make mincemeat of them! 13 Dig a mass grave and dump them in it – faceless corpses in an unmarked grave. 14 I'll gladly step aside and hand things over to you – you can surely save yourself with no help from me! 15 "Look at the land beast, Behemoth. I created him as well as you. Grazing on grass, docile as a cow – 16 Just look at the strength of his back, the powerful muscles of his belly. 17 His tail sways like a cedar in the wind; his huge legs are like beech trees. 18 His skeleton is made of steel, every bone in his body hard as steel. 19 Most magnificent of all my creatures, but I still lead him around like a lamb! 20 The grass-covered hills serve him meals, while field mice frolic in his shadow. 21 He takes afternoon naps under shade trees, cools himself in the reedy swamps, 22 Lazily cool in the leafy shadows as the breeze moves through the willows. 23 And when the river rages he doesn't budge, stolid and unperturbed even when the Jordan goes wild. 24 But you'd never want him for a pet – you'd never be able to housebreak him!

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