James 1; Jeremiah 21; Jeremiah 22; Psalm 129

James 1

Greeting

1 James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings.

Trials and Maturity

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. 9 The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation; 10 but the one who is rich [should boast] in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities. 12 Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him. 13 No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. 16 Don't be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. 17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. 18 By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.

Hearing and Doing the Word

19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man's anger does not accomplish God's righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. 22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; 24 for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts-this person will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Jeremiah 21

Zedekiah's Request Denied

1 [This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malchijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah, asking, 2 "Ask the Lord on our behalf, since Nebuchadnezzarking of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will perform for us something like all His [past] wonderful works so that [Nebuchadnezzar] will withdraw from us." 3 But Jeremiah answered, "This is what you are to say to Zedekiah: 4 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will repel the weapons of war in your hands, those you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the wall, and I will bring them into the center of this city. 5 I will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, with anger, rage, and great wrath. 6 I will strike the residents of this city, both man and beast. They will die in a great plague. 7 Afterwards'"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"'King Zedekiah of Judah, his officers, and the people-those in this city who survive the plague, the sword, and the famine-I will hand over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, to their enemies, yes, to those who want to take their lives. He will put them to the sword; he won't spare them or show pity or compassion.'

A Warning for the People

8 "But you must say to this people, 'This is what the Lord says: Look, I am presenting to you the way of life and the way of death. 9 Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live and will retain his life like the spoils [of war]. 10 For I have turned against this city to [bring] disaster and not good""-[this is] the Lord's declaration. "'It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, who will burn it down.' 11 "And to the house of the king of Judah [say this]: 'Hear the word of the Lord! 12 House of David, this is what the Lord says: Administer justice every morning, and rescue the victim of robbery from the hand of his oppressor, or My anger will flare up like fire and burn unquenchably because of their evil deeds. 13 Beware! I am against you, you who sit above the valley, [you atop] the rocky plateau- [this is]*The bracketed text has been added for clarity. the Lord's declaration- you who say: Who can come down against us? Who can enter our hiding places? 14 I will punish you according to what you have done- [this is]*The bracketed text has been added for clarity. the Lord's declaration. I will kindle a fire in its forest that will consume everything around it.' "

Jeremiah 22

Judgment against Sinful Kings

1 This is what the Lord says: "Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and announce this word there. 2 You are to say: Hear the word of the Lord, king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David-you, your officers, and your people who enter these gates. 3 This is what the Lord says: Administer justice and righteousness. Rescue the victim of robbery from the hand of his oppressor. Don't exploit or brutalize the alien, the fatherless, or the widow. Don't shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you conscientiously carry out this word, then kings sitting on David's throne will enter through the gates of this palace riding on chariots and horses-they, their officers, and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these words, then I swear by Myself"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"that this house will become a ruin." 6 For this is what the Lord says concerning the house of the king of Judah: You are like Gilead to Me, [or] the summit of Lebanon, but I will certainly turn you into a wilderness, uninhabited cities. 7 I will appoint destroyers against you, each with his weapons. They will cut down the choicest of your cedars and throw them into the fire. 8 "Many nations will pass by this city and ask one another: Why did the Lord do such a thing to this great city? 9 They will answer: Because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods."

A Message concerning Shallum

10 Do not weep for the dead; do not mourn for him. Weep bitterly for the one who has gone away, for he will never return again and see his native land. 11 For this is what the Lord says concerning Shallum son of Josiah, king of Judah, who succeeded Josiah his father as king: "He has left this place-he will never return here again, 12 but he will die in the place where they deported him, never seeing this land again."

A Message concerning Jehoiakim

13 Woe for the one who builds his palace through unrighteousness, his upper rooms through injustice, who makes his fellow man serve without pay and will not give him his wages, 14 who says: I will build myself a massive palace, with spacious upper rooms. He will cut windows in it, and it will be paneled with cedar and painted with vermilion. 15 Are you a king because you excel in cedar? Your own father, did he not eat and drink? He administered justice and righteousness, then it went well with him. 16 He took up the case of the poor and needy, then it went well. Is this not what it means to know Me? [This is]*The bracketed text has been added for clarity. the Lord's declaration. 17 But you have eyes and heart for nothing except your own unjust gain, shedding innocent blood and committing extortion and oppression. 18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah: They will not mourn for him, [saying,] Woe, my brother! or Woe, [my] sister! They will not mourn for him, saying, Woe, lord! Woe, his majesty! 19 He will be buried [like] a donkey, dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem. 20 Go up to Lebanon and cry out; raise your voice in Bashan; cry out from Abarim, for all your lovers have been crushed. 21 I spoke to you when you were secure. You said: I will not listen. This has been your way since youth; indeed, you have never listened to Me. 22 The wind will take charge of all your shepherds, and your lovers will go into captivity. Then you will be ashamed and humiliated because of all your evil. 23 You residents of Lebanon, nestled among the cedars, how you will groan when labor pains come on you, agony like a woman in labor.

A Message concerning Coniah

24 "As I live," says the Lord, "though you, Coniah son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, were a signet ring on My right hand, I would tear you from it. 25 In fact, I will hand you over to those you dread, who want to take your life, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave birth to you into another land, where neither of you were born, and there you will both die. 27 They will never return to the land they long to return to." 28 Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered pot, a jar no one wants? Why are he and his descendants hurled out and cast into a land they have not known? 29 Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord! 30 This is what the Lord says: Record this man as childless, a man who will not be successful in his lifetime. None of his descendants will succeed in sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.

Psalm 129

Protection of the Oppressed

A song of ascents.

1 Since my youth they have often attacked me- let Israel say- 2 Since my youth they have often attacked me, but they have not prevailed against me. 3 Plowmen plowed over my back; they made their furrows long. 4 The Lord is righteous; He has cut the ropes of the wicked. 5 Let all who hate Zion be driven back in disgrace. 6 Let them be like grass on the rooftops, which withers before it grows up 7 and can't even fill the hands of the reaper or the arms of the one who binds sheaves. 8 Then none who pass by will say, "May the Lord's blessing be on you." We bless you in the name of the Lord.
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