Thursday, September 24 - Scripture Reading

Isaiah 57:14-59:21, Ephesians 3:1-21, Psalm 111:1-10

Read along:

Isaiah 57:14-59:21

 14 And it will be said:

   "Build up, build up, prepare the road!
   Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people."
15 For this is what the high and lofty One says—
   he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and holy place,
   but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
   and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 I will not accuse forever,
   nor will I always be angry,
for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—
   the breath of man that I have created.
17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;
   I punished him, and hid my face in anger,
   yet he kept on in his willful ways.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
   I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
 19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,"
   says the LORD. "And I will heal them."
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
   which cannot rest,
   whose waves cast up mire and mud.
21 "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked."

Isaiah 58

 1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
   Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
   and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
   they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
   and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
   and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 "˜Why have we fasted,' they say,
   "˜and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
   and you have not noticed?'

   "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
   and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
   and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
   and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
   only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
   and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
   a day acceptable to the LORD?

 6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

   "If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
   and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
   he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
   and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
   like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
   and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
   Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

 13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
   and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
   and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
   and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
   and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
   and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
            The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 59

 1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
   nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated
   you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
   so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood,
   your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies,
   and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No one calls for justice;
   no one pleads his case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;
   they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
5 They hatch the eggs of vipers
   and spin a spider's web.
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
   and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
   they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their deeds are evil deeds,
   and acts of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet rush into sin;
   they are swift to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are evil thoughts;
   ruin and destruction mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know;
   there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
   no one who walks in them will know peace.

 9 So justice is far from us,
   and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness;
   for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind we grope along the wall,
   feeling our way like men without eyes.
At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
   among the strong, we are like the dead.
11 We all growl like bears;
   we moan mournfully like doves.
We look for justice, but find none;
   for deliverance, but it is far away.

 12 For our offenses are many in your sight,
   and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
   and we acknowledge our iniquities:
13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD,
   turning our backs on our God,
fomenting oppression and revolt,
   uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
14 So justice is driven back,
   and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
   honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
   and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

   The LORD looked and was displeased
   that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
   he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
   and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
   and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
   and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
18 According to what they have done,
   so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
   and retribution to his foes;
   he will repay the islands their due.
19 From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD,
   and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
   that the breath of the LORD drives along.

 20 "The Redeemer will come to Zion,
   to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,"
            declares the LORD.

 21 "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the LORD.

Ephesians 3:1-21

Ephesians 3

 1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.  14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Psalm 111:1-10

Psalm 111

 1 Praise the LORD.

   I will extol the LORD with all my heart
   in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

 2 Great are the works of the LORD;
   they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
   and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
   the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
   he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
   giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
   all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are steadfast for ever and ever,
   done in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
   he ordained his covenant forever—
   holy and awesome is his name.

 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
   all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
   To him belongs eternal praise.