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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 25 and 26

Isaiah 25

O LORD, you are my God;I will exalt you and praise your name,for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things,things planned long ago. 2 You have made the city a heap of rubble,the fortified town a ruin,the foreigners' stronghold a city no more;it will never be rebuilt. 3 Therefore strong peoples will honor you;cities of ruthless nations will revere you. 4 You have been a refuge for the poor,a refuge for the needy in his distress,a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall 5 and like the heat of the desert.You silence the uproar of foreigners;as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples,the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever.The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces;he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
9 In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;we trusted in him, and he saved us.This is the LORD, we trusted in him;let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."
10 The hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain;but Moab will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure. 11 They will spread out their hands in it,as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim.God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands. 12 He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low;he will bring them down to the ground,to the very dust.

Isaiah 26

26:1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. 2 Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter,the nation that keeps faith. 3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever,for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. 5 He humbles those who dwell on high,he lays the lofty city low;he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. 6 Feet trample it down — the feet of the oppressed,the footsteps of the poor.
7 The path of the righteous is level;O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. 8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you;your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. 9 My soul yearns for you in the night;in the morning my spirit longs for you.When your judgments come upon the earth,the people of the world learn righteousness. 10 Though grace is shown to the wicked,they do not learn righteousness;even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD. 11 O LORD, your hand is lifted high,but they do not see it.Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.
12 LORD, you establish peace for us;all that we have accomplished you have done for us. 13 O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us,but your name alone do we honor. 14 They are now dead, they live no more;those departed spirits do not rise.You punished them and brought them to ruin;you wiped out all memory of them. 15 You have enlarged the nation, O LORD;you have enlarged the nation.You have gained glory for yourself;you have extended all the borders of the land.
16 LORD, they came to you in their distress;when you disciplined them,they could barely whisper a prayer. 17 As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain,so were we in your presence, O LORD. 18 We were with child, we writhed in pain,but we gave birth to wind.We have not brought salvation to the earth;we have not given birth to people of the world.
19 But your dead will live;their bodies will rise.You who dwell in the dust,wake up and shout for joy.Your dew is like the dew of the morning;the earth will give birth to her dead.
20 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you;hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. 21 See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her;she will conceal her slain no longer.

Second Reading: Philippians Chapter 1

Philippians 1

1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Bible Background



Part 1 of 2

Philippians is another letter of Paul written to a new Christian church. The believers in Philippi would have received this letter sometime in the year 62 A.D. The tone of this letter is very personal in nature. Paul outlines his own beliefs and relates the attitude that all believers must not be self centered in their own lives. Each believer must look to Christ as an example of humility, self-sacrifice and unity in purpose. He further contrasts enemies of the cross with those who are friends of the Lord Jesus and the cross. It is thought that Paul wrote this epistle while he was in prison.


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