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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 27 and 28

Isaiah 27

27:1 In that day,
the LORD will punish with his sword,his fierce, great and powerful sword,Leviathan the gliding serpent,Leviathan the coiling serpent;he will slay the monster of the sea.
2 In that day —
"Sing about a fruitful vineyard: 3 I, the LORD, watch over it;I water it continually.I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. 4 I am not angry.If only there were briers and thorns confronting me!I would march against them in battle;I would set them all on fire. 5 Or else let them come to me for refuge;let them make peace with me,yes, let them make peace with me."
6 In days to come Jacob will take root,Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.
7 Has [the LORD] struck her as he struck down those who struck her?Has she been killed as those were killed who killed her? 8 By warfare and exile you contend with her — with his fierce blast he drives her out,as on a day the east wind blows. 9 By this, then, will Jacob's guilt be atoned for,and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin:When he makes all the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces,no Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing. 10 The fortified city stands desolate,an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert;there the calves graze,there they lie down;they strip its branches bare. 11 When its twigs are dry, they are broken off and women come and make fires with them.For this is a people without understanding;so their Maker has no compassion on them,and their Creator shows them no favor.
12 In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. 13 And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 28

Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,set on the head of a fertile valley — to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine! 2 See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind,like a driving rain and a flooding downpour,he will throw it forcefully to the ground. 3 That wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,will be trampled underfoot. 4 That fading flower, his glorious beauty,set on the head of a fertile valley,will be like a fig ripe before harvest — as soon as someone sees it and takes it in his hand,he swallows it.
5 In that day the LORD Almighty will be a glorious crown,a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer:Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine;they reel from beer,they stagger when seeing visions,they stumble when rendering decisions. 8 All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.
9 "Who is it he is trying to teach?To whom is he explaining his message?To children weaned from their milk,to those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is:Do and do, do and do,rule on rule, rule on rule;a little here, a little there."
11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, 12 to whom he said,"This is the resting place, let the weary rest";and, "This is the place of repose" — but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:Do and do, do and do,rule on rule, rule on rule;a little here, a little there — so that they will go and fall backward,be injured and snared and captured.
14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. 15 You boast, "We have entered into a covenant with death,with the grave we have made an agreement.When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,it cannot touch us,for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place."
16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,a tested stone,a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;the one who trusts will never be dismayed. 17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line;hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,and water will overflow your hiding place. 18 Your covenant with death will be annulled;your agreement with the grave will not stand.When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,you will be beaten down by it. 19 As often as it comes it will carry you away;morning after morning, by day and by night,it will sweep through."
The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. 20 The bed is too short to stretch out on,the blanket too narrow to wrap around you. 21 The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon — to do his work, his strange work,and perform his task, his alien task. 22 Now stop your mocking,or your chains will become heavier;the Lord, the LORD Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land.
23 Listen and hear my voice;pay attention and hear what I say. 24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? 25 When he has leveled the surface,does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin?Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? 26 His God instructs him and teaches him the right way.
27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin;caraway is beaten out with a rod,and cummin with a stick. 28 Grain must be ground to make bread;so one does not go on threshing it forever.Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it,his horses do not grind it. 29 All this also comes from the LORD Almighty,wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
Second Reading: Philippians Chapter 2

Philippians 2

2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

Bible Background



Part 2 of 2

Christ is the central theme of the letter to the Philippians:


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