James 1; Jeremiah 21; Jeremiah 22; Psalm 129

James 1

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Jeremiah 21

God Rejects Zedekiah’s Request

1 The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: 2 “Inquire now of the LORD for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.” 3 But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah, 4 ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath. 6 I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague. 7 After that, declares the LORD, I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’ 8 “Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives. 10 I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the LORD. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’ 11 “Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD. 12 This is what the LORD says to you, house of David: “ ‘Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it. 13 I am against you, Jerusalem, you who live above this valley on the rocky plateau, declares the LORD— you who say, “Who can come against us? Who can enter our refuge?” 14 I will punish you as your deeds deserve, declares the LORD. I will kindle a fire in your forests that will consume everything around you.’ ”

Jeremiah 22

Judgment Against Wicked Kings

1 This is what the LORD says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the LORD to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’ ” 6 For this is what the LORD says about the palace of the king of Judah: “Though you are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, I will surely make you like a wasteland, like towns not inhabited. 7 I will send destroyers against you, each man with his weapons, and they will cut up your fine cedar beams and throw them into the fire. 8 “People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?’ 9 And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’ ” 10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss; rather, weep bitterly for him who is exiled, because he will never return nor see his native land again. 11 For this is what the LORD says about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but has gone from this place: “He will never return. 12 He will die in the place where they have led him captive; he will not see this land again.” 13 “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. 14 He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red. 15 “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. 16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD. 17 “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.” 18 Therefore this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: “They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my master! Alas, his splendor!’ 19 He will have the burial of a donkey— dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.” 20 “Go up to Lebanon and cry out, let your voice be heard in Bashan, cry out from Abarim, for all your allies are crushed. 21 I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me. 22 The wind will drive all your shepherds away, and your allies will go into exile. Then you will be ashamed and disgraced because of all your wickedness. 23 You who live in ‘Lebanon, ’ who are nestled in cedar buildings, how you will groan when pangs come upon you, pain like that of a woman in labor! 24 “As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to.” 28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot, an object no one wants? Why will he and his children be hurled out, cast into a land they do not know? 29 O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! 30 This is what the LORD says: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.”

Psalm 129

A song of ascents.

1 “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; 2 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. 3 Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. 4 But the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” 5 May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. 6 May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow; 7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it, nor one who gathers fill his arms. 8 May those who pass by not say to them, “The blessing of the LORD be on you; we bless you in the name of the LORD.”