What comes to mind when you hear the word deliverance? Is it a positive or negative thought? Does it call you out or draw you inward?
Deliverance is a rescue from bondage or danger!
What bondage do you have? What is holding you back from everything you could be? What is holding you back from becoming everything you were created and purposed to be? What is keeping you a slave to it? What is making you serve it? What is tying you up or tying you down? What are you being subjected to?
What is the danger in your life? Is it making you afraid? What is threatening you in order to keep you? What is being held over you in order to keep you from being free? Who is trying to lord it over you? Who is trying to control or manipulate you? Who is trying to make you do things you don’t want to do? Who is trying to use guilt or even love to try and get you to do things you know are wrong?
Before we get into today’s reading, let’s take a moment to meditate on this and listen to a song and watch a video…
Today’s reading beings in Isaiah 52…
Deliverance for Jerusalem
1Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer. 2Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem. Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3For this is what the lord says: “When I sold you into exile, I received no payment. Now I can redeem you without having to pay for you.” 4This is what the Sovereign lord says: “Long ago my people chose to live in Egypt. Now they are oppressed by Assyria. 5What is this?” asks the lord. “Why are my people enslaved again? Those who rule them shout in exultation. My name is blasphemed all day long. 6But I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that I am the one who speaks to them.” 7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! 8The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the lord returning to Jerusalem. 9Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the lord has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. 10The lord has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God. 11Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the lord. 12You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. The lord’s Suffering Servant 13See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. 14But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. 15And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.
–from Isaiah 52
Cry out to God! Trust in God! Ask for wisdom! Ask for help! There are people who want to help! There are people looking to help! There are people who will love you right where you are at and help you to move forward leaving the past where it belongs…behind you!
1Who has believed our message?
To whom has the lord revealed his powerful arm?
2My servant grew up in the lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
7He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
10But it was the lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
–from Isaiah 53
God has a plan and a purpose for your life! God can take what the enemy used for evil and turn it around and use it for good! God loves you right here, right now! He loves you so much that He doesn’t want to leave you there! So call to Him! Cry out to Him! Ask Jesus into your heart and ask Him to help you! He wants to deliver you! He wants to redeem you! Will you allow Him to? Will you choose to let Him in? The choice is yours!
Future Glory for Jerusalem1“Sing, O childless woman,you who have never given birth!Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,you who have never been in labor.For the desolate woman now has more childrenthan the woman who lives with her husband,”says the lord.2“Enlarge your house; build an addition.Spread out your home, and spare no expense!3For you will soon be bursting at the seams.Your descendants will occupy other nationsand resettle the ruined cities.4“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.You will no longer remember the shame of your youthand the sorrows of widowhood.5For your Creator will be your husband;the lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,the God of all the earth.6For 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.8In a burst 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 Noahthat I would never again let a flood cover the earth,so now I swearthat I will never again be angry and punish you.10For the mountains may moveand the hills disappear,but even then my faithful love for you will remain.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 with precious jewelsand make your foundations from lapis lazuli.12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies,your gates of shining gems,and your walls of precious stones.13I will teach all your children,and they will enjoy great peace.14You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.Your enemies will stay far away.You will live in peace,and terror will not come near.15If any nation comes to fight you,it is not because I sent them.Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.16“I have created the blacksmithwho fans the coals beneath the forgeand makes the weapons of destruction.And I have created the armies that destroy.17But in that coming dayno weapon turned against you will succeed.You will silence every voiceraised up to accuse you.These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the lord;their vindication will come from me.I, the lord, have spoken!–from Isaiah 54
Are you overwhelmed? Are you troubled? Here is a psalm for you to read and meditate on…
A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.1Lord, hear my prayer!Listen to my plea!2Don’t turn away from mein my time of distress.Bend down to listen,and answer me quickly when I call to you.3For my days disappear like smoke,and my bones burn like red-hot coals.4My heart is sick, withered like grass,and I have lost my appetite.5Because of my groaning,I am reduced to skin and bones.6I am like an owl in the desert,like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.7I lie awake,lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.8My enemies taunt me day after day.They mock and curse me.9I eat ashes for food.My tears run down into my drink10because of your anger and wrath.For you have picked me up and thrown me out.11My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.I am withering away like grass.12But you, O lord, will sit on your throne forever.Your fame will endure to every generation.13You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—and now is the time to pity her,now is the time you promised to help.14For your people love every stone in her wallsand cherish even the dust in her streets.15Then the nations will tremble before the lord.The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory.16For the lord will rebuild Jerusalem.He will appear in his glory.17He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.He will not reject their pleas.18Let this be recorded for future generations,so that a people not yet born will praise the lord.19Tell them the lord looked downfrom his heavenly sanctuary.He looked down to earth from heaven20to hear the groans of the prisoners,to release those condemned to die.21And so the lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,his praises in Jerusalem,22when multitudes gather togetherand kingdoms come to worship the lord.23He broke my strength in midlife,cutting short my days.24But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,don’t take my life while I am so young!25Long ago you laid the foundation of the earthand made the heavens with your hands.26They will perish, but you remain forever;they will wear out like old clothing.You will change them like a garmentand discard them.27But you are always the same;you will live forever.28The children of your peoplewill live in security.Their children’s childrenwill thrive in your presence.”–from Psalms 102
Will it be easy? No! Will it be worth it? Yes!
Settling eternity for our lives is what matters most! And it is only us who can decide for ourselves! We each have a choice and we each have to choose! So will you choose to ask Jesus into your life? Will you choose to serve Him all the days of your life? Will choose to one day stand before God and hear Him say “well done, my good and perfect servant”?
Seven Men Chosen to Serve1But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.2So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”5Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.7So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
Stephen Is Arrested8Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. 9But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.11So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.13The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. 14We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”15At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.–from Acts 6
So let’s get this day started off right! Let’s be on our guard! Let’s stand firm in our faith! Let’s be courageous! Let’s be strong! Let’s do everything we do in LOVE!
The Collection for Jerusalem1Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. 2On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. 3When I come, I will write letters of recommendation for the messengers you choose to deliver your gift to Jerusalem. 4And if it seems appropriate for me to go along, they can travel with me.
Paul’s Final Instructions5I am coming to visit you after I have been to Macedonia, for I am planning to travel through Macedonia. 6Perhaps I will stay awhile with you, possibly all winter, and then you can send me on my way to my next destination. 7This time I don’t want to make just a short visit and then go right on. I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me. 8In the meantime, I will be staying here at Ephesus until the Festival of Pentecost. 9There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.10When Timothy comes, don’t intimidate him. He is doing the Lord’s work, just as I am. 11Don’t let anyone treat him with contempt. Send him on his way with your blessing when he returns to me. I expect him to come with the other believers.12Now about our brother Apollos—I urged him to visit you with the other believers, but he was not willing to go right now. He will see you later when he has the opportunity.13Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14And do everything with love.15You know that Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, 16to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion. 17I am very glad that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus have come here. They have been providing the help you weren’t here to give me. 18They have been a wonderful encouragement to me, as they have been to you. You must show your appreciation to all who serve so well.
Paul’s Final Greetings19The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings. 20All the brothers and sisters here send greetings to you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss.21here is my greeting in my own handwriting—paul.22If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!23May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.24My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.–from 1 Corinthians 16
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