" Sing, O childless woman! Break forth into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, even though you never gave birth to a child. For the woman who could bear no children now has more than all the other women," says the LORD. 2 " Enlarge your house; build an addition; spread out your home! 3 For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will take over other nations and live in their cities. 4 " Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. The shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more, 5 for your Creator will be your husband. The LORD Almighty is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. 6 For the LORD has called you back from your grief--as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband," says your God. 7 " For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. 8 In a moment of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you," says the LORD, your Redeemer. 9 " Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth and destroy its life, so now I swear that I will never again pour out my anger on you. 10 For the mountains may depart and the hills disappear, but even then I will remain loyal to you. My covenant of blessing will never be broken," says the LORD, who has mercy on you. 11 " O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you on a foundation of sapphires and make the walls of your houses from precious jewels. 12 I will make your towers of sparkling rubies and your gates and walls of shining gems. 13 I will teach all your citizens, and their prosperity will be great. 14 You will live under a government that is just and fair. Your enemies will stay far away; you will live in peace. Terror will not come near. 15 If any nation comes to fight you, it will not be because I sent them to punish you. Your enemies will always be defeated because I am on your side. 16 I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy. 17 But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you will succeed. And everyone who tells lies in court will be brought to justice. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!55:1 " IS anyone thirsty? Come and drink--even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk--it's all free! 2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul! 3 " Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David. 4 He displayed my power by being my witness and a leader among the nations. 5 You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious." 6 Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. 7 Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 " My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. " And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 10 " The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. 12 You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! 13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the LORD's name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.56:1 " BE just and fair to all," says the LORD. " Do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you. 2 Blessed are those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest by refusing to work. And blessed are those who keep themselves from doing wrong. 3 " And my blessings are for Gentiles, too, when they commit themselves to the LORD. Do not let them think that I consider them second-class citizens. And my blessings are also for the eunuchs. They are as much mine as anyone else. 4 For I say this to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy, who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me: 5 I will give them--in my house, within my walls--a memorial and a name far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! 6 " I will also bless the Gentiles who commit themselves to the LORD and serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who have accepted his covenant. 7 I will bring them also to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. 8 For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel." 9 Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people! 10 For the leaders of my people--the LORD's watchmen, his shepherds--are blind to every danger. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming. 11 And they are as greedy as dogs, never satisfied. They are stupid shepherds, all following their own path, all of them intent on personal gain. 12 " Come," they say. " We will get some wine and have a party. Let's all get drunk. Let this go on and on, and tomorrow will be even better."57:1 THE righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. 2 For the godly who die will rest in peace. 3 " But you--come here, you witches' children, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! 4 Whom do you mock, making faces and sticking out your tongues? You children of sinners and liars! 5 You worship your idols with great passion beneath every green tree. You slaughter your children as human sacrifices down in the valleys, under overhanging rocks. 6 Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys. You worship them with drink offerings and grain offerings. They, not I, are your inheritance. Does all this make me happy? 7 You have committed adultery on the mountaintops by worshiping idols there, and so you have been unfaithful to me. 8 Behind closed doors, you have set up your idols and worship them instead of me. This is adultery, for you are loving these idols instead of loving me. You have climbed right into bed with these detestable gods. 9 You have given olive oil and perfume to Molech as your gift. You have traveled far, even into the world of the dead, to find new gods to love. 10 You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up. You strengthened yourself and went on. 11 Why were you more afraid of them than of me? How is it that you don't even remember me or think about me? Is it because I have not corrected you that you have no fear of me? 12 " Now I will expose your so-called good deeds that you consider so righteous. None of them will benefit or save you. 13 Let's see if your idols can do anything for you when you cry to them for help. They are so helpless that a breath of wind can knock them down! But whoever trusts in me will possess the land and inherit my holy mountain. 14 I will say, ` Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.' "
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2 " Honor your father and mother." This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. 3 And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, " you will live a long life, full of blessing." 4 And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord. 5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. 6 Work hard, but not just to please your masters when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8 Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. 9 And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don't threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.10 A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. 11 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. 13 Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words as I boldly explain God's secret plan that the Good News is for the Gentiles, too. 20 I am in chains now for preaching this message as God's ambassador. But pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.21 Tychicus, a much loved brother and faithful helper in the Lord's work, will tell you all about how I am getting along. 22 I am sending him to you for just this purpose. He will let you know how we are, and he will encourage you. 23 May God give you peace, dear brothers and sisters,* and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 May God's grace be upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to bring us to the LORD's remembrance.
1 Please, God, rescue me!
Come quickly, LORD, and help me.
2 May those who try to destroy me
be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
be turned back in disgrace.
3 Let them be horrified by their shame,
for they said, " Aha! We've got him now!"
4 But may all who search for you
be filled with joy and gladness.
May those who love your salvation
repeatedly shout, " God is great!"
5 But I am poor and needy;
please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
O LORD, do not delay!
A person who plans evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker.