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Isaiah 41:17-43:13; Ephesians 2:1-22; Psalms 67:1-7; Proverbs 23:29-35 (Good News Translation)

Isaiah 41:17-43:13

17 “When my people in their need look for water,
    when their throats are dry with thirst,
then I, the Lord, will answer their prayer;
    I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
18 I will make rivers flow among barren hills
    and springs of water run in the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water
    and the dry land into flowing springs.
19 I will make cedars grow in the desert,
    and acacias and myrtles and olive trees.
Forests will grow in barren land,
    forests of pine and juniper and cypress.
20 People will see this and know
    that I, the Lord, have done it.
They will come to understand
    that Israel's holy God has made it happen.”

The Lord's Challenge to False Gods

21 The Lord, the king of Israel, has this to say:

“You gods of the nations, present your case.
    Bring the best arguments you have!
22 Come here and predict what will happen,
    so that we will know it when it takes place.
Explain to the court the events of the past,
    and tell us what they mean.
23 Tell us what the future holds—
    then we will know that you are gods!
Do something good or bring some disaster;
    fill us with fear and awe!
24 You and all you do are nothing;
    those who worship you are disgusting!

25 “I have chosen a man who lives in the east;[a]
    I will bring him to attack from the north.
He tramples on rulers as if they were mud,
    like a potter trampling clay.
26 Which of you predicted that this would happen,
    so that we could say that you were right?
None of you said a word about it;
    no one heard you say a thing!
27 I, the Lord, was the first to tell Zion the news;
    I sent a messenger to Jerusalem to say,
    ‘Your people are coming! They are coming home!’[b]
28 When I looked among the gods,
    none of them had a thing to say;
    not one could answer the questions I asked.
29 All these gods are useless;
    they can do nothing at all—
    these idols are weak and powerless.”

The Lord's Servant

42 The Lord says,

“Here is my servant, whom I strengthen—
    the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased.
I have filled him with my Spirit,
    and he will bring justice to every nation.
He will not shout or raise his voice
    or make loud speeches in the streets.
He will not break off a bent reed
    nor put out a flickering lamp.
He will bring lasting justice to all.
He will not lose hope or courage;
    he will establish justice on the earth.
    Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.”

God created the heavens and stretched them out;
    he fashioned the earth and all that lives there;
    he gave life and breath to all its people.
And now the Lord God says to his servant,
“I, the Lord, have called you and given you power
    to see that justice is done on earth.
Through you I will make a covenant with all peoples;
    through you I will bring light to the nations.
You will open the eyes of the blind
    and set free those who sit in dark prisons.

“I alone am the Lord your God.
    No other god may share my glory;
    I will not let idols share my praise.
The things I predicted have now come true.
Now I will tell you of new things
    even before they begin to happen.”

A Song of Praise

10 Sing a new song to the Lord;
    sing his praise, all the world!
Praise him, you that sail the sea;
    praise him, all creatures of the sea!
Sing, distant lands and all who live there!
11 Let the desert and its towns praise God;
    let the people of Kedar praise him!
Let those who live in the city of Sela
    shout for joy from the tops of the mountains!
12 Let those who live in distant lands
    give praise and glory to the Lord!
13 The Lord goes out to fight like a warrior;
    he is ready and eager for battle.
    He gives a war cry, a battle shout;
    he shows his power against his enemies.

God Promises to Help His People

14 God says,

“For a long time I kept silent;
    I did not answer my people.
But now the time to act has come;
    I cry out like a woman in labor.
15 I will destroy the hills and mountains
    and dry up the grass and trees.
I will turn the river valleys into deserts[c]
    and dry up the pools of water.

16 “I will lead my blind people
    by roads they have never traveled.
I will turn their darkness into light
    and make rough country smooth before them.
These are my promises,
    and I will keep them without fail.
17 All who trust in idols,
    who call images their gods,
    will be humiliated and disgraced.”

Israel's Failure to Learn

18 The Lord says,

“Listen, you deaf people!
    Look closely, you that are blind!
19 Is anyone more blind than my servant,
    more deaf than the messenger I send?
20 Israel, you have seen so much,
    but what has it meant to you?
You have ears to hear with,
    but what have you really heard?”

21 The Lord is a God who is eager to save,
    so he exalted his laws and teachings,
    and he wanted his people to honor them.
22 But now his people have been plundered;
    they are locked up in dungeons
    and hidden away in prisons.
They were robbed and plundered,
    with no one to come to their rescue.

23 Will any of you listen to this?
    From now on will you listen with care?
24 Who gave Israel up to the looters?
    It was the Lord himself, against whom we sinned!
We would not live as he wanted us to live
    or obey the teachings he gave us.
25 So he made us feel the force of his anger
    and suffer the violence of war.
Like fire his anger burned throughout Israel,
    but we never knew what was happening;
    we learned nothing at all from it.

God Promises to Rescue His People

43 Israel, the Lord who created you says,

    “Do not be afraid—I will save you.
    I have called you by name—you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
    your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
    the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free;
    I will give up Ethiopia[d] and Seba.
I will give up whole nations to save your life,
    because you are precious to me
    and because I love you and give you honor.
Do not be afraid—I am with you!

“From the distant east and the farthest west
    I will bring your people home.
I will tell the north to let them go
    and the south not to hold them back.
Let my people return from distant lands,
    from every part of the world.
They are my own people,
    and I created them to bring me glory.”

Israel Is the Lord's Witness

God says,

“Summon my people to court.
    They have eyes, but they are blind;
    they have ears, but they are deaf!
Summon the nations to come to the trial.
    Which of their gods can predict the future?
    Which of them foretold what is happening now?
Let these gods bring in their witnesses
    to prove that they are right,
    to testify to the truth of their words.

10 “People of Israel, you are my witnesses;
    I chose you to be my servant,
so that you would know me and believe in me
    and understand that I am the only God.
Besides me there is no other god;
    there never was and never will be.

11 “I alone am the Lord,
    the only one who can save you.
12 I predicted what would happen,
    and then I came to your aid.
No foreign god has ever done this;
    you are my witnesses.
13 I am God and always will be.
No one can escape from my power;
    no one can change what I do.”

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 41:25 See 41.2.
  2. Isaiah 41:27 Verse 27 in Hebrew is unclear.
  3. Isaiah 42:15 Probable text deserts; Hebrew coastlands.
  4. Isaiah 43:3 Hebrew Cush: Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
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Ephesians 2

From Death to Life

In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins. At that time you followed the world's evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God. Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God's anger.

But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus. 8-9 For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it. 10 God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.

One in Christ

11 You Gentiles by birth—called “the uncircumcised” by the Jews, who call themselves the circumcised (which refers to what men do to their bodies)—remember what you were in the past. 12 At that time you were apart from Christ. You were foreigners and did not belong to God's chosen people. You had no part in the covenants, which were based on God's promises to his people, and you lived in this world without hope and without God. 13 But now, in union with Christ Jesus you, who used to be far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ.[a] 14 For Christ himself has brought us peace by making Jews and Gentiles one people. With his own body he broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies. 15 He abolished the Jewish Law with its commandments and rules, in order to create out of the two races one new people in union with himself, in this way making peace. 16 By his death on the cross Christ destroyed their enmity; by means of the cross he united both races into one body and brought them back to God. 17 So Christ came and preached the Good News of peace to all—to you Gentiles, who were far away from God, and to the Jews, who were near to him. 18 It is through Christ that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are able to come in the one Spirit into the presence of the Father.

19 So then, you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer; you are now citizens together with God's people and members of the family of God. 20 You, too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets,[b] the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself. 21 He is the one who holds the whole building together and makes it grow into a sacred temple dedicated to the Lord. 22 In union with him you too are being built together with all the others into a place where God lives through his Spirit.

Footnotes:

  1. Ephesians 2:13 by the blood of Christ; or by the sacrificial death of Christ.
  2. Ephesians 2:20 the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets; or the foundation, that is, the apostles and prophets.
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Psalm 67

A Song of Thanksgiving[a]

67 God, be merciful to us and bless us;
    look on us with kindness,
so that the whole world may know your will;
    so that all nations may know your salvation.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
    may all the peoples praise you!

May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    because you judge the peoples with justice
    and guide every nation on earth.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
    may all the peoples praise you!

The land has produced its harvest;
    God, our God, has blessed us.
God has blessed us;
    may all people everywhere honor him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 67:1 HEBREW TITLE: A psalm; a song.
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Proverbs 23:29-35

-18-

29-30 Show me people who drink too much, who have to try out fancy drinks, and I will show you people who are miserable and sorry for themselves, always causing trouble and always complaining. Their eyes are bloodshot, and they have bruises that could have been avoided. 31 Don't let wine tempt you, even though it is rich red, and it sparkles in the cup, and it goes down smoothly. 32 The next morning you will feel as if you had been bitten by a poisonous snake. 33 Weird sights will appear before your eyes, and you will not be able to think or speak clearly. 34 You will feel as if you were out on the ocean, seasick, swinging high up in the rigging of a tossing ship. 35 “I must have been hit,” you will say; “I must have been beaten up, but I don't remember it. Why can't I wake up? I need another drink.”

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