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Isaiah 45:11-48; Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 24:3-4 (Contemporary English Version)

Isaiah 45:11-48

11 I am the Lord, the Creator,
    the holy God of Israel.
Do you dare question me
about my own nation
    or about what I have done?
12 I created the world
    and covered it with people;
I stretched out the sky
    and filled it with stars.
13 I have done the right thing
    by placing Cyrus in power,
and I will make the roads easy
    for him to follow.
I am the Lord All-Powerful!
    Cyrus will rebuild my city
    and set my people free
    without being paid a thing.
I, the Lord, have spoken.

The Lord Alone Can Save

14 My people, I, the Lord, promise
    that the riches of Egypt
and the treasures of Ethiopia[a]
    will belong to you.
You will force into slavery
    those tall people of Seba.[b]

They will bow down and say,
“The only true God is with you;
    there are no other gods.”
15 People of Israel,
your God is a mystery,
    though he alone can save.
16 Anyone who makes idols
will be confused
    and terribly disgraced.
17 But Israel, I, the Lord,
will always keep you safe
    and free from shame.

Everyone Is Invited

18 The Lord alone is God!
He created the heavens
    and made a world
where people can live,
instead of creating
    an empty desert.
The Lord alone is God;
    there are no others.
19 The Lord did not speak
    in a dark secret place
or command Jacob’s descendants
    to search for him in vain.

The Lord speaks the truth,
    and this is what he says
20 to every survivor
    from every nation:
“Gather around me!
Learn how senseless it is
    to worship wooden idols
    or pray to helpless gods.

21 “Why don’t you get together
    and meet me in court?
Didn’t I tell you long ago
    what would happen?
I am the only God!
    There are no others.
I bring about justice,
    and have the power to save.

22 “I invite the whole world
    to turn to me and be saved.
I alone am God!
    No others are real.
23 I have made a solemn promise,
    one that won’t be broken:
Everyone will bow down
    and worship me.
24 They will admit that I alone
    can bring about justice.
Everyone who is angry with me
will be terribly ashamed
    and will turn to me.
25 I, the Lord, will give
victory and great honor
    to the people of Israel.”

Babylonia’s Gods Are Helpless

The Lord said:

46 The gods Bel and Nebo[c]
    are down on their knees,
as wooden images of them
are carried away
    on weary animals.[d]
They are down on their knees
    to rescue the heavy load,
but the images are still taken
    to a foreign country.

You survivors in Israel,
    listen to me, the Lord.
Since the day you were born,
    I have carried you along.
I will still be the same
when you are old and gray,
    and I will take care of you.
I created you. I will carry you
    and always keep you safe.

Can anyone compare with me?
    Is anyone my equal?
Some people hire a goldsmith
    and give silver and gold
to be formed into an idol
    for them to worship.
They carry the idol
    on their shoulders,
then put it on a stand,
    but it cannot move.

They call out to the idol
    when they are in trouble,
but it doesn’t answer,
    and it cannot help.
Now keep this in mind,[e]
you sinful people.
    And don’t ever forget it.

The Lord Alone Is God

I alone am God!
There are no other gods;
    no one is like me.
Think about what happened
    many years ago.
10 From the very beginning,
I told what would happen
    long before it took place.

I kept my word 11 and brought
someone from a distant land
    to do what I wanted.
He attacked from the east,
    like a hawk swooping down.
Now I will keep my promise
    and do what I planned.

12 You people are stubborn
and far from being safe,
    so listen to me.
13 I will soon come to save you.
I am not far away
    and will waste no time;
I take pride in Israel
    and will save Jerusalem.

Babylon Will Fall

The Lord said:

47 City of Babylon,
You are delicate
    and untouched,
    but that will change.
Surrender your royal power
    and sit in the dirt.
Start grinding grain!
    Take off your veil.
Strip off your fancy clothes
    and cross over rivers.[f]
You will suffer the shame
    of going naked,
because I will take revenge,
    and no one can escape.[g]
I am the Lord All-Powerful,
the holy God of Israel.
    I am their Savior.

Babylon, be silent!
    Sit in the dark.
No longer will nations
    accept you as their queen.
I was angry with my people.
So I let you take their land
    and bring disgrace on them.
You showed them no mercy,
but were especially cruel
    to those who were old.
You thought that you
    would be queen forever.
You didn’t care what you did;
it never entered your mind
    that you might get caught.

You think that you alone
    are all-powerful,
that you won’t be a widow
    or lose your children.
All you care about is pleasure,
    but listen to what I say.
Your magic powers and charms
    will suddenly fail,
then you will be a widow
    and lose your children.

10 You hid behind evil
like a shield and said,
    “No one can see me!”
You were fooled by your wisdom
    and your knowledge;
you felt sure that you alone
    were in full control.
11 But without warning,
    disaster will strike—
and your magic charms
    won’t help at all.

12 Keep using your magic powers
and your charms
    as you have always done.
Maybe—just maybe—
    you will frighten somebody!
13 You have worn yourself out,
    asking for advice
from those who study the stars
and tell the future
    month after month.
Go ask them how to be saved
    from what will happen.
14 People who trust the stars
are as helpless
as straw
    in a flaming fire.
No one can even keep warm,[h]
sitting by a fire
    that feeds only on straw.
15 These are the fortunetellers
you have done business with
    all of your life.
But they don’t know
where they are going,
    and they can’t save you.

The Lord Corrects His People

48 People of Israel,
you come from Jacob’s family
    and the tribe[i] of Judah.
You claim to worship me,
the Lord God of Israel,
    but you are lying.
You call Jerusalem your home
    and say you depend on me,
the Lord All-Powerful,
    the God of Israel.

Long ago I announced
    what was going to be,
then without warning,
    I made it happen.
I knew you were stubborn
    and hardheaded.
And I told you these things,
so that when they happened
    you would not say,
“The idols we worship did this.”

You heard what I said,
and you have seen it happen.
    Now admit that it’s true!
I will show you secrets
    you have never known.
Today I am doing something new,
something you cannot say
    you have heard before.
You have never been willing
    to listen to what I say;
from the moment of your birth,
    I knew you would rebel.

The Lord Warns Israel

I, the Lord, am true to myself;
I will be praised
for not punishing
    and destroying you.
10 I tested you in hard times
just as silver is refined
    in a heated furnace.[j]
11 I did this because of who I am.
I refuse to be dishonored[k]
    or share my praise
    with any other god.

Footnotes:

  1. 45.14 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11.
  2. 45.14 Seba: See the note at 43.3.
  3. 46.1 Bel and Nebo: Bel was another name for Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonians. Nebo was the son of Marduk and also an important god.
  4. 46.1 as. . . animals: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 46.8 Now. . . mind: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  6. 47.2 Strip. . . rivers: This may be a command to get ready for work that requires wading in the river, or it may be a warning that they are going to be taken away as slaves.
  7. 47.3 escape: Or “oppose me.”
  8. 47.14 keep warm: Or “cook food.”
  9. 48.1 tribe: Hebrew “waters.”
  10. 48.10 furnace: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
  11. 48.11 I refuse to be dishonored: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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Ephesians 4:1-16

Unity with Christ

As a prisoner of the Lord, I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God’s people. We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God who is the Father of all people. Not only is God above all others, but he works by using all of us, and he lives in all of us.

Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us. As the Scriptures say,

“When he went up
    to the highest place,
he led away many prisoners
    and gave gifts to people.”

When it says, “he went up,” it means that Christ had been deep in the earth. 10 This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe.

11 Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, 12 so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. 13 This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.[a]

14 We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. 15 Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head 16 of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love.

Footnotes:

  1. 4.13 and we will be completely like him: Or <<and he is completely perfect.’>
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Psalm 68:19-35

19 We praise you, Lord God!
You treat us with kindness
    day after day,
    and you rescue us.
20 You always protect us
    and save us from death.

21 Our Lord and our God,
your terrible enemies
    are ready for war,[a]
    but you will crush
    their skulls.
22 You promised to bring them
from Bashan
    and from the deepest sea.
23 Then we could stomp
    on their blood,
    and our dogs could chew
    on their bones.

24 We have seen crowds marching
    to your place of worship,
    our God and King.
25 The singers come first,
    and then the musicians,
    surrounded by young women
    playing tambourines.
26 They come shouting,
    “People of Israel,
    praise the Lord God!”
27 The small tribe of Benjamin
    leads the way,
    followed by the leaders
    from Judah.
Then come the leaders
    from Zebulun and Naphtali.

28 Our God, show your strength!
    Show us once again.
29 Then kings will bring gifts
    to your temple
    in Jerusalem.[b]

30 Punish that animal
    that lives in the swamp![c]
Punish that nation
    whose leaders and people
    are like wild bulls.
Make them come crawling
    with gifts of silver.
    Scatter those nations
    that enjoy making war.[d]
31 Force the Egyptians to bring
    gifts of bronze;
    make the Ethiopians[e] hurry
    to offer presents.[f]

32 Now sing praises to God!
    Every kingdom on earth,
    sing to the Lord!
33 Praise the one who rides
    across the ancient skies;
    listen as he speaks
    with a mighty voice.

34 Tell about God’s power!
He is honored in Israel,
    and he rules the skies.
35 The God of Israel is fearsome
    in his temple,
    and he makes us strong.
    Let’s praise our God!

Footnotes:

  1. 68.21 are ready for war: The Hebrew text has “have long hair,” which probably refers to the ancient custom of wearing long hair on special occasions, such as a “holy war.”
  2. 68.28,29 Our God. . . Jerusalem: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 28,29.
  3. 68.30 animal. . . swamp: Probably Egypt.
  4. 68.30 war: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 30.
  5. 68.31 the Ethiopians: The Hebrew text has “the people of Cush,” which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan.
  6. 68.31 presents: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 31.
Read More
Proverbs 24:3-4

-20-

Use wisdom and understanding
    to establish your home;
    let good sense fill the rooms
    with priceless treasures.

Read More
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