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Old Testament:  Isaiah 41-42

Isaiah 41

God's Help for Israel
 1  "Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea.
  Bring your strongest arguments.
Come now and speak.
  The court is ready for your case.

 2  "Who has stirred up this king from the east,
  rightly calling him to God's service?
Who gives this man victory over many nations
  and permits him to trample their kings underfoot?
With his sword, he reduces armies to dust.
  With his bow, he scatters them like chaff before the wind.
 3  He chases them away and goes on safely,
  though he is walking over unfamiliar ground.
 4  Who has done such mighty deeds,
  summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?
It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last.
  I alone am he."

 5  The lands beyond the sea watch in fear.
  Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war.
 6  The idol makers encourage one another,
  saying to each other, "Be strong!"
 7  The carver encourages the goldsmith,
  and the molder helps at the anvil.
  "Good," they say. "It's coming along fine."
Carefully they join the parts together,
  then fasten the thing in place so it won't fall over.

 8  "But as for you, Israel my servant,
  Jacob my chosen one,
  descended from Abraham my friend,
 9  I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
  saying, `You are my servant.'
For I have chosen you
  and will not throw you away.
 10  "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."  11  "See, all your angry enemies lie there,
  confused and humiliated.
Anyone who opposes you will die
  and come to nothing.
 12  You will look in vain
  for those who tried to conquer you.
Those who attack you
  will come to nothing.
 13  "For I hold you by your right hand — I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, `Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.'"  14  Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob,
  don't be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you.
I am the LORD, your Redeemer.
  I am the Holy One of Israel.'
 15  You will be a new threshing instrument
  with many sharp teeth.
You will tear your enemies apart,
  making chaff of mountains.
 16  You will toss them into the air,
  and the wind will blow them all away;
  a whirlwind will scatter them.
Then you will rejoice in the LORD.
  You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.

 17  "When the poor and needy search for water and there is none,
  and their tongues are parched from thirst,
then I, the LORD, will answer them.
  I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
 18  I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus.
  I will give them fountains of water in the valleys.
I will fill the desert with pools of water.
  Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
 19  I will plant trees in the barren desert—
  cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
 20  I am doing this so all who see this miracle
  will understand what it means—
that it is the LORD who has done this,
  the Holy One of Israel who created it.

 21  "Present the case for your idols,"
  says the LORD.
"Let them show what they can do,"
  says the King of Israel. [21] 
 22  "Let them try to tell us what happened long ago
  so that we may consider the evidence.
Or let them tell us what the future holds,
  so we can know what's going to happen.
 23  Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead.
  Then we will know you are gods.
In fact, do anything—good or bad!
  Do something that will amaze and frighten us.
 24  But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all.
  Those who choose you pollute themselves.

 25  "But I have stirred up a leader who will come from the north.
  I have called him by name from the east.
I will give him victory over kings and princes.
  He will trample them as a potter treads on clay.

 26  "Who told you from the beginning
  that this would happen?
Who predicted this,
  making you admit that he was right?
  No one said a word!
 27  I was the first to tell Zion,
  `Look! Help is on the way!' [27] 
  I will send Jerusalem a messenger with good news.
 28  Not one of your idols told you this.
  Not one gave any answer when I asked.
 29  See, they are all foolish, worthless things.
  All your idols are as empty as the wind.

Isaiah 42

The LORD's Chosen Servant
 1  "Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
  He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
  He will bring justice to the nations.
 2  He will not shout
  or raise his voice in public.
 3  He will not crush the weakest reed
  or put out a flickering candle.
  He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
 4  He will not falter or lose heart
  until justice prevails throughout the earth.
  Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. [4] "

 5  God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out.
  He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
  life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
 6  "I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
  I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
  as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
 7  You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.  8  "I am the LORD; that is my name!
  I will not give my glory to anyone else,
  nor share my praise with carved idols.
 9  Everything I prophesied has come true,
  and now I will prophesy again.
I will tell you the future before it happens."

A Song of Praise to the LORD
 10  Sing a new song to the LORD!
  Sing his praises from the ends of the earth!
Sing, all you who sail the seas,
  all you who live in distant coastlands.
 11  Join in the chorus, you desert towns;
  let the villages of Kedar rejoice!
Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
  shout praises from the mountaintops!
 12  Let the whole world glorify the LORD;
  let it sing his praise.
 13  The LORD will march forth like a mighty hero;
  he will come out like a warrior, full of fury.
He will shout his battle cry
  and crush all his enemies.

 14  He will say, "I have long been silent;
  yes, I have restrained myself.
But now, like a woman in labor,
  I will cry and groan and pant.
 15  I will level the mountains and hills
  and blight all their greenery.
I will turn the rivers into dry land
  and will dry up all the pools.
 16  I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.  17  But those who trust in idols,
  who say, `You are our gods,'
  will be turned away in shame.

Israel's Failure to Listen and See
 18  "Listen, you who are deaf!
  Look and see, you blind!
 19  Who is as blind as my own people, my servant?
  Who is as deaf as my messenger?
Who is as blind as my chosen people,
  the servant of the LORD?
 20  You see and recognize what is right
  but refuse to act on it.
You hear with your ears,
  but you don't really listen."

 21  Because he is righteous,
  the LORD has exalted his glorious law.
 22  But his own people have been robbed and plundered,
  enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped.
They are fair game for anyone
  and have no one to protect them,
  no one to take them back home.

 23  Who will hear these lessons from the past
  and see the ruin that awaits you in the future?
 24  Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt?
  It was the LORD, against whom we sinned,
for the people would not walk in his path,
  nor would they obey his law.
 25  Therefore, he poured out his fury on them
  and destroyed them in battle.
They were enveloped in flames,
  but they still refused to understand.
They were consumed by fire,
  but they did not learn their lesson.
<<  41:21 Hebrew the King of Jacob. See note on 14:1.
<<  41:27 Or `Look! They are coming home.'
<<  42:4 Greek version reads And his name will be the hope of all the world. Compare Matt 12:21.

New Testament:  1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1

Greetings from Paul
 1  This letter is from Paul, Silas, [1]  and Timothy.
  We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  May God give you grace and peace.

The Faith of the Thessalonian Believers
 2  We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.  3  As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
   4  We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.  5  For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance [5]  that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.  6  So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.  7  As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. [7] 
   8  And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don't need to tell them about it,  9  for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God.  10  And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
<<  1:1 Greek Silvanus, the Greek form of the name.
<<  1:4 Greek brothers.
<<  1:5 Or with the power of the Holy Spirit, so you can have full assurance.
<<  1:7 Macedonia and Achaia were the northern and southern regions of Greece.

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