September 14, 2023
The Covenant Extended to All Who Obey
56 Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come
and my deliverance be revealed.
2 Happy is the mortal who does this,
the one who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and refrains from doing any evil.
3 Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people,”
and do not let the eunuch say,
“I am just a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give, in my house and within my walls,
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath and do not profane it
and hold fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar,
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
8 Thus says the Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel:
I will gather others to them
besides those already gathered.
The Corruption of Israel’s Rulers
9 All you wild animals,
all you wild animals in the forest, come to devour!
10 Israel’s sentinels are blind;
they are all without knowledge;
they are all silent dogs
that cannot bark,
dreaming, lying down,
loving to slumber.
11 The dogs have a mighty appetite;
they never have enough.
The shepherds also have no understanding;
they have all turned to their own way,
to their own gain, one and all.
12 “Come,” they say, “let us get wine;
let us fill ourselves with strong drink.
And tomorrow will be like today,
great beyond measure.”
Israel’s Futile Idolatry
57 The righteous perish,
and no one considers why;
the devout are taken away,
while no one understands
that it is due to evil that the righteous are taken away.
2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace
and rest on their couches.
3 But as for you, come here,
you children of a sorceress,
you offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute.
4 Whom are you mocking?
Against whom do you open your mouth wide
and stick out your tongue?
Are you not children of transgression,
the offspring of deceit—
5 you who burn with lust among the oaks,
under every green tree;
you who slaughter your children in the valleys,
under the clefts of the rocks?
6 Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;
it is they who are your lot;
to them you have poured out a drink offering;
you have brought a grain offering.
Should these acts cause me to relent?
7 Upon a high and lofty mountain
you have set your bed,
and there you went up to offer sacrifice.
8 Behind the door and the doorpost
you have set up your symbol,
for in deserting me you have uncovered your bed;
you have gone up to it;
you have made it wide;
and you have made a bargain for yourself with them;
you have loved their bed;
you have gazed on their nakedness.
9 You journeyed to Molech with oil
and multiplied your perfumes;
you sent your envoys far away
and sent them down to Sheol.
10 You grew weary from your many wanderings,
but you did not say, “It is no use!”
You found your desire rekindled,
and so you did not weaken.
11 Whom did you dread and fear
so that you lied
and did not remember me
or give me a thought?
Have I not kept silent and closed my eyes,
and so you do not fear me?
12 I will announce your verdict,
and the objects you made will not help you.
13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
The wind will carry them off;
a breath will take them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me shall possess the land
and inherit my holy mountain.
A Promise of Help and Healing
14 It shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way;
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
15 For thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
I dwell in the high and holy place
and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 For I will not continually accuse,
nor will I always be angry,
for then the spirits would grow faint before me,
even the souls that I have made.
17 Because of their wicked covetousness I was angry;
I struck them; I hid and was angry,
but they kept turning back to their own ways.
18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
I will lead them and repay them with comfort,
19 creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord,
and I will heal them.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea
that cannot keep still;
its waters toss up mire and mud.
21 There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.
False and True Worship
58 Shout out; do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they want God on their side.
3 “Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day
and oppress all your workers.
4 You fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your needs in parched places
and make your bones strong,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never fail.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
13 If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests or pursuing your own affairs;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Injustice and Oppression to Be Punished
59 See, the Lord’s arm is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 Rather, your iniquities have been barriers
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 No one brings suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas; they speak lies,
conceiving mischief and bearing iniquity.
5 They hatch adders’ eggs
and weave the spider’s web;
whoever eats their eggs dies,
and the crushed egg hatches out a viper.
6 Their webs cannot serve as clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil,
and they rush to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their ways.
Their roads they have made crooked;
no one who walks in them knows peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us,
and deliverance does not reach us;
we wait for light, but there is only darkness;
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 We grope like the blind along a wall,
groping like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among the vigorous as though we were dead.
11 We all growl like bears;
like doves we moan mournfully.
We wait for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions before you are many,
and our sins testify against us.
Our transgressions indeed are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing and denying the Lord
and turning away from following our God,
talking oppression and revolt,
conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart.
14 Justice is turned back,
and deliverance stands at a distance,
for truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking,
and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one
and was appalled that there was no one to intervene,
so his own arm brought him victory,
and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing
and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay
wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render requital.
19 So those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord,
and those in the east, his glory,
for he will come like a pent-up stream
that the wind of the Lord drives on.
20 And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord.
21 And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you and my words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth or out of the mouths of your children or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and forever.
Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies
To the leader. Of David, for the memorial offering.
1 Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
O Lord, make haste to help me!
2 Let those be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who desire to hurt me.
3 Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
4 Let all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
5 But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!
1 Corinthians 16
The Collection for the Saints
16 Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Plans for Travel
5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia—for I intend to pass through Macedonia— 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way, wherever I go. 7 I do not want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am; 11 therefore let no one despise him. Send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers and sisters.
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers and sisters, but he was not at all willing to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.
Final Messages and Greetings
13 Keep alert; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
15 Now, brothers and sisters, you know that members of the household of Stephanas were the first fruits in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; 16 I urge you to put yourselves at the service of such people and of everyone who works and toils with them. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. So give recognition to such persons.
19 The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, greet you warmly in the Lord. 20 All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 Let anyone be accursed who has no love for the Lord. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.
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