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23 September 2017 Bible Reading

Ephesus was an exciting place for Christians in the AD 50s. Paul lived in Ephesus 52 – 54. Paul worked with the congregation in Ephesus and organized a lot of missionary efforts in the region. Sometime between 53 and 57, Paul wrote the letter 1 Corinthians from Ephesus. Later, Paul wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians while he was in prison in Rome, around 62 AD.

Isaiah 41:17-43:13
17 The poor and needy seek water, and there is none.
Their tongue fails for thirst.
I, Yahweh, will answer them.
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and springs in the middle of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put cedar, acacia, myrtle, and oil trees in the wilderness.
I will set cypress trees, pine, and box trees together in the desert;
20 that they may see, know, consider, and understand together,
that Yahweh’s hand has done this,
and the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 Produce your cause,” says Yahweh.
“Bring out your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.
22 “Let them announce, and declare to us what shall happen.
Declare the former things, what they are,
that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them;
or show us things to come.
23 Declare the things that are to come hereafter,
that we may know that you are gods.
Yes, do good, or do evil,
that we may be dismayed,
and see it together.
24 Behold, you are of nothing,
and your work is of nothing.
He who chooses you is an abomination.
25 “I have raised up one from the north, and he has come;
from the rising of the sun, one who calls on my name;
and he shall come on rulers as on mortar,
and as the potter treads clay.
26 Who has declared it from the beginning, that we may know?
And before, that we may say, ‘He is right?’
Surely, there is no one who declares.
Surely, there is no one who shows.
Surely, there is no one who hears your words.
27 I am the first to say to Zion, ‘Behold, look at them;’
and I will give one who brings good news to Jerusalem.
28 When I look, there is no man;
even among them there is no counselor who, when I ask of them, can answer a word.
29 Behold, all of them, their deeds are vanity and nothing.
Their molten images are wind and confusion.
42 “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold;
my chosen, in whom my soul delights—
I have put my Spirit on him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout,
nor raise his voice,
nor cause it to be heard in the street.
3 He won’t break a bruised reed.
He won’t quench a dimly burning wick.
He will faithfully bring justice.
4 He will not fail nor be discouraged,
until he has set justice in the earth,
and the islands will wait for his law.”
5 Thus says God Yahweh,
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
he who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it,
he who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk in it.
6 “I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness,
and will hold your hand,
and will keep you,
and make you a covenant for the people,
as a light for the nations;
7 to open the blind eyes,
to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon,
and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.
8 “I am Yahweh.
That is my name.
I will not give my glory to another,
nor my praise to engraved images.
9 Behold, the former things have happened,
and I declare new things.
I tell you about them before they come up.”
10 Sing to Yahweh a new song,
and his praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea,
and all that is therein,
the islands and their inhabitants.
11 Let the wilderness and its cities raise their voices,
with the villages that Kedar inhabits.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing.
Let them shout from the top of the mountains!
12 Let them give glory to Yahweh,
and declare his praise in the islands.
13 Yahweh will go out like a mighty man.
He will stir up zeal like a man of war.
He will raise a war cry.
Yes, he will shout aloud.
He will triumph over his enemies.
14 “I have been silent a long time.
I have been quiet and restrained myself.
Now I will cry out like a travailing woman. I will both gasp and pant.
15 I will destroy mountains and hills,
and dry up all their herbs.
I will make the rivers islands,
and will dry up the pools.
16 I will bring the blind by a way that they don’t know.
I will lead them in paths that they don’t know.
I will make darkness light before them,
and crooked places straight.
I will do these things,
and I will not forsake them.
17 “Those who trust in engraved images,
who tell molten images,
‘You are our gods’
will be turned back.
They will be utterly disappointed.
18 “Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind,
that you may see.
19 Who is blind, but my servant?
Or who is as deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is as blind as he who is at peace,
and as blind as Yahweh’s servant?
20 You see many things, but don’t observe.
His ears are open, but he doesn’t listen.
21 It pleased Yahweh, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify the law,
and make it honorable.
22 But this is a robbed and plundered people.
All of them are snared in holes,
and they are hidden in prisons.
They have become captives, and no one delivers;
and a plunder, and no one says, ‘Restore them!’
23 Who is there among you who will give ear to this?
Who will listen and hear for the time to come?
24 Who gave Jacob as plunder,
and Israel to the robbers?
Didn’t Yahweh, he against whom we have sinned?
For they would not walk in his ways,
and they disobeyed his law.
25 Therefore he poured the fierceness of his anger on him,
and the strength of battle;
and it set him on fire all around, but he didn’t know;
and it burned him, but he didn’t take it to heart.”
43 But now Yahweh who created you, Jacob,
and he who formed you, Israel says:
“Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name.
You are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned,
and flame will not scorch you.
3 For I am Yahweh your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
your Savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Since you have been precious and honored in my sight,
and I have loved you;
therefore I will give people in your place,
and nations instead of your life.
5 Don’t be afraid; for I am with you.
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and gather you from the west.
6 I will tell the north, ‘Give them up!’
and tell the south, ‘Don’t hold them back!
Bring my sons from far,
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
and whom I have created for my glory,
whom I have formed,
yes, whom I have made.’”
8 Bring out the blind people who have eyes,
and the deaf who have ears.
9 Let all the nations be gathered together,
and let the peoples be assembled.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us former things?
Let them bring their witnesses, that they may be justified;
or let them hear, and say, “That is true.”
10 “You are my witnesses,” says Yahweh,
“With my servant whom I have chosen;
that you may know and believe me,
and understand that I am he.
Before me there was no God formed,
neither will there be after me.
11 I myself am Yahweh;
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I have declared, I have saved, and I have shown;
and there was no strange god among you.
Therefore you are my witnesses”,
says Yahweh, “and I am God.
13 Yes, since the day was I am he;
and there is no one who can deliver out of my hand.
I will work, and who can hinder it?”

Ephesians 2
2 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience; 3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; 8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision”, (in the flesh, made by hands); 12 that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; 21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

Psalm 67
For the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Psalm. A song.
67 May God be merciful to us, bless us,
and cause his face to shine on us.
2 That your way may be known on earth,
and your salvation among all nations,
3 let the peoples praise you, God.
Let all the peoples praise you.
4 Oh let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you will judge the peoples with equity,
and govern the nations on earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, God.
Let all the peoples praise you.
6 The earth has yielded its increase.
God, even our own God, will bless us.
7 God will bless us.
All the ends of the earth shall fear him.

Proverbs 23:29-35
29 Who has woe?
Who has sorrow?
Who has strife?
Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises?
Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who stay long at the wine;
those who go to seek out mixed wine.
31 Don’t look at the wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly.
32 In the end, it bites like a snake,
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 Yes, you will be as he who lies down in the middle of the sea,
or as he who lies on top of the rigging:
35 “They hit me, and I was not hurt!
They beat me, and I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up? I can do it again.
I can find another.”

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