Isaiah 59; Isaiah 60; Isaiah 61; 2 Thessalonians 3

1 Don't think that the Lord is too weak to save you or too deaf to hear your call for help! 2 It is because of your sins that he doesn't hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him. 3 You are guilty of lying, violence, and murder. 4 You go to court, but you do not have justice on your side. You depend on lies to win your case. You carry out your plans to hurt others. 5 The evil plots you make are as deadly as the eggs of a poisonous snake. Crush an egg, out comes a snake! But your plots will do you no good - they are as useless as clothing made of cobwebs! 7 You are always planning something evil, and you can hardly wait to do it. You never hesitate to murder innocent people. You leave ruin and destruction wherever you go, 8 and no one is safe when you are around. Everything you do is unjust. You follow a crooked path, and no one who walks that path will ever be safe. 9 The people say, "Now we know why God does not save us from those who oppress us. We hope for light to walk by, but there is only darkness, 10 and we grope about like blind people. We stumble at noon, as if it were night, as if we were in the dark world of the dead. 11 We are frightened and distressed. We long for God to save us from oppression and wrong, but nothing happens. 12 "Lord, our crimes against you are many. Our sins accuse us. We are well aware of them all. 13 We have rebelled against you, rejected you, and refused to follow you. We have oppressed others and turned away from you. Our thoughts are false; our words are lies. 14 Justice is driven away, and right cannot come near. Truth stumbles in the public square, and honesty finds no place there. 15 There is so little honesty that those who stop doing evil find themselves the victims of crime." The Lord has seen this, and he is displeased that there is no justice. 16 He is astonished to see that there is no one to help the oppressed. So he will use his own power to rescue them and to win the victory. 17 He will wear justice like a coat of armor and saving power like a helmet. He will clothe himself with the strong desire to set things right and to punish and avenge the wrongs that people suffer. 18 He will punish his enemies according to what they have done, even those who live in distant lands. 19 From east to west everyone will fear him and his great power. He will come like a rushing river, like a strong wind. 20 The Lord says to his people, "I will come to Jerusalem to defend you and to save all of you that turn from your sins. 21 And I make a covenant with you: I have given you my power and my teachings to be yours forever, and from now on you are to obey me and teach your children and your descendants to obey me for all time to come."
1 Arise, Jerusalem, and shine like the sun; The glory of the Lord is shining on you! 2 Other nations will be covered by darkness, But on you the light of the Lord will shine; The brightness of his presence will be with you. 3 Nations will be drawn to your light, And kings to the dawning of your new day. 4 Look around you and see what is happening: Your people are gathering to come home! Your sons will come from far away; Your daughters will be carried like children. 5 You will see this and be filled with joy; You will tremble with excitement. The wealth of the nations will be brought to you; From across the sea their riches will come. 6 Great caravans of camels will come, from Midian and Ephah. They will come from Sheba, bringing gold and incense. People will tell the good news of what the Lord has done! 7 All the sheep of Kedar and Nebaioth Will be brought to you as sacrifices And offered on the altar to please the Lord. The Lord will make his Temple more glorious than ever. 8 What are these ships that skim along like clouds, Like doves returning home? 9 They are ships coming from distant lands, Bringing God's people home. They bring with them silver and gold To honor the name of the Lord, The holy God of Israel, Who has made all nations honor his people. 10 The Lord says to Jerusalem, "Foreigners will rebuild your walls, And their kings will serve you. In my anger I punished you, But now I will show you my favor and mercy. 11 Day and night your gates will be open, So that the kings of the nations May bring you their wealth. 12 But nations that do not serve you Will be completely destroyed. 13 "The wood of the pine, the juniper, and the cypress, The finest wood from the forests of Lebanon, Will be brought to rebuild you, Jerusalem, To make my Temple beautiful, To make my city glorious. 14 The descendants of those who oppressed you will come And bow low to show their respect. All who once despised you will worship at your feet. They will call you "The City of the Lord,' "Zion, the City of Israel's Holy God.' 15 "You will no longer be forsaken and hated, A city deserted and desolate. I will make you great and beautiful, A place of joy forever and ever. 16 Nations and kings will care for you As a mother nurses her child. You will know that I, the Lord, have saved you, That the mighty God of Israel sets you free. 17 "I will bring you gold instead of bronze, Silver and bronze instead of iron and wood, And iron instead of stone. Your rulers will no longer oppress you; I will make them rule with justice and peace. 18 The sounds of violence will be heard no more; Destruction will not shatter your country again. I will protect and defend you like a wall; You will praise me because I have saved you. 19 "No longer will the sun be your light by day Or the moon be your light by night; I, the Lord, will be your eternal light; The light of my glory will shine on you. 20 Your days of grief will come to an end. I, the Lord, will be your eternal light, More lasting than the sun and moon. 21 Your people will all do what is right, And will possess the land forever. I planted them, I made them, To reveal my greatness to all. 22 Even your smallest and humblest family Will become as great as a powerful nation. When the right time comes, I will make this happen quickly. I am the Lord!"
1 The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me To bring good news to the poor, To heal the broken-hearted, To announce release to captives And freedom to those in prison. 2 He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the Lord will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, 3 To give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow. They will be like trees That the Lord himself has planted. They will all do what is right, And God will be praised for what he has done. 4 They will rebuild cities that have long been in ruins. 5 My people, foreigners will serve you. They will take care of your flocks And farm your land and tend your vineyards. 6 And you will be known as the priests of the Lord, The servants of our God. You will enjoy the wealth of the nations And be proud that it is yours. 7 Your shame and disgrace are ended. You will live in your own land, And your wealth will be doubled; Your joy will last forever. 8 The Lord says, "I love justice and I hate oppression and crime. I will faithfully reward my people And make an eternal covenant with them. 9 They will be famous among the nations; Everyone who sees them will know That they are a people whom I have blessed." 10 Jerusalem rejoices because of what the Lord has done. She is like a bride dressed for her wedding. God has clothed her with salvation and victory. 11 As surely as seeds sprout and grow, The Sovereign Lord will save his people, And all the nations will praise him.
1 Finally, our friends, pray for us that the Lord's message may continue to spread rapidly and be received with honor, just as it was among you. 2 Pray also that God will rescue us from wicked and evil people; for not everyone believes the message. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and keep you safe from the Evil One. 4 And the Lord gives us confidence in you, and we are sure that you are doing and will continue to do what we tell you. 5 May the Lord lead you into a greater understanding of God's love and the endurance that is given by Christ. 6 Our friends, we command you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to keep away from all believers who are living a lazy life and who do not follow the instructions that we gave them. 7 You yourselves know very well that you should do just what we did. We were not lazy when we were with you. 8 We did not accept anyone's support without paying for it. Instead, we worked and toiled; we kept working day and night so as not to be an expense to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to demand our support; we did it to be an example for you to follow. 10 While we were with you, we used to tell you, "Whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat." 11 We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people's business. 12 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command these people and warn them to lead orderly lives and work to earn their own living. 13 But you, friends, must not become tired of doing good. 14 It may be that some there will not obey the message we send you in this letter. If so, take note of them and have nothing to do with them, so that they will be ashamed. 15 But do not treat them as enemies; instead, warn them as believers. 16 May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. 17 With my own hand I write this: [Greetings from Paul.] This is the way I sign every letter; this is how I write. 18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
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