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Sunday, September 29, 2019
II Chronicles 29-32
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting.
Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away.
For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one;
but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,
for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.
Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror;
for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "Have a seat here, please," while you say to the poor man, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,"
have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?
But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court?
Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable name which was invoked over you?
If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well.
But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not kill." If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder.
Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.
For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses that they may obey us, we guide their whole bodies.
Look at the ships also; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind,
but no human being can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish?
Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.
And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
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