God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains tremble in the heart of the sea; Though the waters rage and swell, and though the mountains quake at the towering seas.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the dwelling of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; therefore shall she not be removed; God shall help her at the break of day. The nations are in uproar and the kingdoms are shaken, but God utters his voice and the earth shall melt away. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come and behold the works of the Lord, what destruction he has wrought upon the earth. He makes wars to cease in all the world; he shatters the bow and snaps the spear and burns the chariots in the fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, on that day at Massah in the wilderness,
‘When your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my works.
‘Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.”
‘So I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter into my rest.” ’
Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city! It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction.
It has not trusted in the Lord; it has not drawn near to its God.
The officials within it are roaring lions; its judges are evening wolves that leave nothing until the morning. Its prophets are reckless, faithless persons; its priests have profaned what is sacred, they have done violence to the law. The Lord within it is righteous; he does no wrong. Every morning he renders his judgement, each dawn without fail; but the unjust knows no shame.
I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets so that no one walks in them; their cities have been made desolate, without people, without inhabitants. I said, ‘Surely the city will fear me, it will accept correction it will not lose sight of all that I have brought upon it.’ But they were the more eager to make all their deeds corrupt.
Therefore wait for me, says the Lord, for the day when I arise as a witness. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all the heat of my anger; for in the fire of my passion all the earth shall be consumed. At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of The Lord and serve him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, my scattered ones, shall bring my offering.
On that day you shall not be put to shame because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord—the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!
‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.
‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’
O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you:
grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.