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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 41 and 42

Isaiah 41

"Be silent before me, you islands!Let the nations renew their strength!Let them come forward and speak;let us meet together at the place of judgment.
2 "Who has stirred up one from the east,calling him in righteousness to his service?He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him.He turns them to dust with his sword,to windblown chaff with his bow. 3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,by a path his feet have not traveled before. 4 Who has done this and carried it through,calling forth the generations from the beginning?I, the LORD — with the first of them and with the last — I am he."
5 The islands have seen it and fear;the ends of the earth tremble.They approach and come forward; 6 each helps the other and says to his brother, "Be strong!" 7 The craftsman encourages the goldsmith,and he who smooths with the hammer spurs on him who strikes the anvil.He says of the welding, "It is good."He nails down the idol so it will not topple.
8 "But you, O Israel, my servant,Jacob, whom I have chosen,you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth,from its farthest corners I called you.I said, 'You are my servant';I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced;those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies,you will not find them.Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the LORD, your God,who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,O little Israel,for I myself will help you," declares the LORD,your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 "See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,new and sharp, with many teeth.You will thresh the mountains and crush them,and reduce the hills to chaff. 16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,and a gale will blow them away.But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17 "The poor and needy search for water,but there is none;their tongues are parched with thirst.But I the LORD will answer them;I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,and springs within the valleys.I will turn the desert into pools of water,and the parched ground into springs. 19 I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.I will set pines in the wasteland,the fir and the cypress together, 20 so that people may see and know,may consider and understand,that the hand of the LORD has done this,that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 "Present your case," says the LORD."Set forth your arguments," says Jacob's King. 22 "Bring in [ your idols] to tell us what is going to happen.Tell us what the former things were,so that we may consider them and know their final outcome.Or declare to us the things to come, 23 tell us what the future holds,so we may know that you are gods.Do something, whether good or bad,so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. 24 But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless;he who chooses you is detestable.
25 "I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes — one from the rising sun who calls on my name.He treads on rulers as if they were mortar,as if he were a potter treading the clay. 26 Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know,or beforehand, so we could say, 'He was right'?No one told of this,no one foretold it,no one heard any words from you. 27 I was the first to tell Zion, 'Look, here they are!'I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good tidings. 28 I look but there is no one — no one among them to give counsel,no one to give answer when I ask them. 29 See, they are all false!Their deeds amount to nothing;their images are but wind and confusion.
Isaiah 42

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,my chosen one in whom I delight;I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out,or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break,and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.In his law the islands will put their hope."
5 This is what God the LORD says — he who created the heavens and stretched them out,who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,who gives breath to its people,and life to those who walk on it: 6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;I will take hold of your hand.I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind,to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
8 "I am the LORD; that is my name!I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. 9 See, the former things have taken place,and new things I declare;before they spring into being I announce them to you."
10 Sing to the LORD a new song,his praise from the ends of the earth,you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,you islands, and all who live in them. 11 Let the desert and its towns raise their voices;let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.Let the people of Sela sing for joy;let them shout from the mountaintops. 12 Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands. 13 The LORD will march out like a mighty man,like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.
14 "For a long time I have kept silent,I have been quiet and held myself back.But now, like a woman in childbirth,I cry out, I gasp and pant. 15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation;I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. 16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.These are the things I will do;I will not forsake them. 17 But those who trust in idols,who say to images, 'You are our gods,'will be turned back in utter shame.
18 "Hear, you deaf;look, you blind, and see! 19 Who is blind but my servant,and deaf like the messenger I send?Who is blind like the one committed to me,blind like the servant of the LORD? 20 You have seen many things, but have paid no attention;your ears are open, but you hear nothing." 21 It pleased the LORD for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious. 22 But this is a people plundered and looted,all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons.They have become plunder,with no one to rescue them;they have been made loot,with no one to say, "Send them back."
23 Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? 24 Who handed Jacob over to become loot,and Israel to the plunderers?Was it not the LORD,against whom we have sinned?For they would not follow his ways;they did not obey his law. 25 So he poured out on them his burning anger,the violence of war.It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand;it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart.

Second Reading: Colossians Chapter 4

Colossians 4

4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord."
18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Bible Background



Part 2 of 5


Hebrews 11 gives an accounting of the life of faith of Abraham:

By faith when called to go to a place , obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going. He lived as stranger in a land that was promised as his inheritance looking forward to something better.
By faith, even though his wife was past age, became a father of a son and later to many nations. His name was changed from Abram to Abraham in anticipation of this..
By faith offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice because he reckoned that God could raise him from the dead.

Galatians 3 tells us: "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' What then is this gospel that is connected to a blessing of all nations through the seed of Abraham?

Young's Concordance lists "gospel" only in the New Testament. The word means "good news, tidings, or word." It is used exclusively in the Scriptures of the message of good news through the "seed" of Abraham, that is , Jesus. It is defined in Acts 8: 12:"But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news (gospel) of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."

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