26 The time is coming when the people of Judah will sing this song: “Our city[a] is protected. The Lord is our fortress, and he gives us victory. 2 Open the city gates for a law-abiding nation that is faithful to God. 3 The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm. 4 So always trust the Lord because he is forever our mighty rock.[b] 5 God has put down our enemies in their mountain city[c] and rubbed it in the dirt. 6 Now the poor and abused stomp all over that city.”
The Lord Can Be Trusted
7 Our Lord, you always do right, and you make the path smooth for those who obey you. 8 You are the one we trust to bring about justice; above all else we want your name to be honored. 9 Throughout the night, my heart searches for you, because your decisions show everyone on this earth how to live right.
10 Even when the wicked are treated with mercy in this land of justice, they do wrong and are blind to your glory, our Lord. 11 Your hand is raised and ready to punish them, but they don’t see it. Put them to shame! Show how much you care for us and throw them into the fire intended for your enemies.
12 You will give us peace, Lord, because everything we have done was by your power. 13 Others have ruled over us besides you, our Lord God, but we obey only you. 14 Those enemies are now dead and can never live again. You have punished them— they are destroyed, completely forgotten. 15 Our nation has grown because of you, our Lord. We have more land than before, and you are honored.
The Lord Gives Life to the Dead
16 When you punished our people, they turned and prayed to you, our Lord.[d] 17 Because of what you did to us, we suffered like a woman about to give birth. 18 But instead of having a child, our terrible pain produced only wind. We have won no victories, and we have no descendants to take over the earth.
19 Your people will rise to life! Tell them to leave their graves and celebrate with shouts. You refresh the earth like morning dew; you give life to the dead.
20 Go inside and lock the doors, my people. Hide there for a little while, until the Lord is no longer angry.
The Earth and the Sea Will Be Punished
21 The Lord will come out to punish everyone on earth for their sins. And when he does, those who did violent crimes will be known and punished. 27 On that day, Leviathan,[e] the sea monster, will squirm and try to escape, but the Lord will kill him with a cruel, sharp sword.
Protection and Forgiveness
The Lord said:
2 At that time you must sing about a fruitful[f] vineyard. 3 I, the Lord, will protect it and always keep it watered. I will guard it day and night to keep it from harm. 4 I am no longer angry. But if it produces thorns, I will go to war against it and burn it to the ground. 5 Yet if the vineyard depends on me for protection, it will become my friend and be at peace with me.
6 Someday Israel will take root like a vine. It will blossom and bear fruit that covers the earth.
7 I, the Lord, didn’t punish and kill the people of Israel as fiercely as I punished and killed their enemies. 8 I carefully measured out Israel’s punishment[g] and sent the scorching heat to chase them far away.
9 There’s only one way that Israel’s sin and guilt can be completely forgiven: They must crush the stones of every pagan altar and place of worship.
The Lord Will Bring His People Together
10 Fortress cities are left like a desert where no one lives. Cattle walk through the ruins, stripping the trees bare. 11 When broken branches fall to the ground, women pick them up to feed the fire. But these people are so stupid that the God who created them will show them no mercy.
12 The time is coming when the Lord will shake the land between the Euphrates River and the border of Egypt, and one by one he will bring all of his people together. 13 A loud trumpet will be heard. Then the people of Israel who were dragged away to Assyria and Egypt will return to worship the Lord on his holy mountain in Jerusalem.
2 Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God’s Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. 2 Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. 3 Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4 Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5 and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought:[a]
6 Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain[b] equal with God. 7 Instead he gave up everything[c] and became a slave, when he became like one of us.
8 Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. 9 Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored his name above all others.
10 So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. 11 And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
Lights in the World
12 My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. 13 God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing. 15 Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, 16 as you hold firmly to[d] the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless.
17 Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice.[e] If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you. 18 In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you. 20 I don’t have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does. 21 The others think only about what interests them and not about what concerns Christ Jesus. 22 But you know what kind of person Timothy is. He has worked with me like a son in spreading the good news. 23 I hope to send him to you, as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me. 24 And I feel sure that the Lord will also let me come soon.
25 I think I ought to send my dear friend Epaphroditus back to you. He is a follower and a worker and a soldier of the Lord, just as I am. You sent him to look after me, 26 but now he is eager to see you. He is worried, because you heard he was sick. 27 In fact, he was very sick and almost died. But God was kind to him, and also to me, and he kept me from being burdened down with sorrow.
28 Now I am more eager than ever to send Epaphroditus back again. You will be glad to see him, and I won’t have to worry any longer. 29 Be sure to give him a cheerful welcome, just as people who serve the Lord deserve. 30 He almost died working for Christ, and he risked his own life to do for me what you could not.
2.5think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: Or “think the way you should because you belong to Christ Jesus.”
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