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First Reading: Jeremiah Chapter 17 and 18

Jeremiah 17

17:1 Judah's Sin and Punishment

"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron;With the point of a diamond it is engraved On the tablet of their heart,And on the horns of your altars, 2 While their children remember Their altars and their wooden images By the green trees on the high hills. 3 O My mountain in the field,I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures,And your high places of sin within all your borders. 4 And you, even yourself,Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you;And I will cause you to serve your enemies In the land which you do not know;For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever."
5 Thus says the LORD:
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength,Whose heart departs from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,And shall not see when good comes,But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,In a salt land which is not inhabited.
7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,And whose hope is the LORD. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,Which spreads out its roots by the river,And will not fear when heat comes;But its leaf will be green,And will not be anxious in the year of drought,Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
9 "The heart is deceitful above all things,And desperately wicked;Who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart,I test the mind,Even to give every man according to his ways,According to the fruit of his doings.
11 "As a partridge that broods but does not hatch,So is he who gets riches, but not by right;It will leave him in the midst of his days,And at his end he will be a fool."
12 A glorious high throne from the beginning Is the place of our sanctuary. 13 O LORD, the hope of Israel,All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
"Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth,Because they have forsaken the LORD,The fountain of living waters."
14 Jeremiah Prays for Deliverance

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;Save me, and I shall be saved,For You are my praise. 15 Indeed they say to me,"Where is the word of the LORD?Let it come now!" 16 As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows You,Nor have I desired the woeful day;You know what came out of my lips;It was right there before You. 17 Do not be a terror to me;You are my hope in the day of doom. 18 Let them be ashamed who persecute me,But do not let me be put to shame;Let them be dismayed,But do not let me be dismayed.Bring on them the day of doom,And destroy them with double destruction!
19 Hallow the Sabbath Day

Thus the LORD said to me: "Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20 and say to them,'Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the LORD:"Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; 22 nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. 23 But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction.
24 "And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully," says the LORD, "to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, 25 then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. 26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the LORD.
27 "But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched."'"

Jeremiah 18

18:1 The Potter and the Clay

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.
11 "Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good."'"
12 God's Warning Rejected

And they said,"That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart."
13 Therefore thus says the LORD:
"Ask now among the Gentiles,Who has heard such things?The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing. 14 Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon,Which comes from the rock of the field?Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?
15 "Because My people have forgotten Me,They have burned incense to worthless idols.And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,From the ancient paths,To walk in pathways and not on a highway, 16 To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing;Everyone who passes by it will be astonished And shake his head. 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy;I will show them the back and not the face In the day of their calamity."
18 Jeremiah Persecuted

Then they said,"Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words."
19 Give heed to me, O LORD,And listen to the voice of those who contend with me! 20 Shall evil be repaid for good?For they have dug a pit for my life.Remember that I stood before You To speak good for them,To turn away Your wrath from them. 21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine,And pour out their bloodBy the force of the sword;Let their wives become widows And bereaved of their children.Let their men be put to death,Their young men be slain By the sword in battle. 22 Let a cry be heard from their houses,When You bring a troop suddenly upon them;For they have dug a pit to take me,And hidden snares for my feet. 23 Yet, LORD, You know all their counsel Which is against me, to slay me.Provide no atonement for their iniquity,Nor blot out their sin from Your sight;But let them be overthrown before You.Deal thus with them In the time of Your anger.

Second Reading: James Chapter 2

James 2

2:1 Beware of Personal Favoritism

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 Faith Without Works Is Dead
(cf. Gen 22; Josh 2:1)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Bible Background



Part 3 of 3

II Chronicles 36: 15 tells us that God sent word through his messengers the prophets warning and pleading with the people of Judah and Jerusalem to repent and turn to God. We are told that the Jews mocked God's messengers, despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets. Jeremiah was one of those scoffed prophets. II Chronicles ends with the captivity of Jerusalem. Yet in these dark hours, even Jeremiah gives hope:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds.No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Jeremiah 33:14-16 "`The days are coming,' declares the LORD, `when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. "`In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.'"




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