Faith and Works

Daily Scripture readings for March, set #3:

Jeremiah, chapters 5-6
Ecclesiastes 2:18-26
John 1:29-34
James 1-19-27

“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not” (Jer 5:21). Note the presence of eyes while still lacking “sight,” and likewise with ears and hearing. This kind of “seeing” and “hearing” is beyond physical traits.

“For apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” (Eccl 2:25). Ultimately, joy always finds its root in God.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). There are two shocking messages here for Jews in John’s day: 1) Messiah is taking sins away, not dealing with politics… 2) Messiah will do this for ALL the world, not just Israel.

“For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Jam 1:20). I’m familiar with the phrase and concept of “righteous anger,” but I feel like it is often appealed to in instances where it doesn’t belong. Let the directness of  this verse in James really sink in, and ask yourself if being angry is something you shouldn’t check yourself with more often.

Daily Scripture readings for March, set #4:

Jeremiah, chapters 7-9
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
John 1:35-42
James 2:1-13

“Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jer 7:9-10). This is the Old Testament version of 1 John 3:9 and 1 John 5:18, and I think it’s also the idea that Paul is getting at in Romans 6:1-4.

“I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him” (Eccl 3:14). Goold paraphrase: God does what God does, and rather than trying to change it, your best bet is to simply acknowledge and stand in awe.

“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus” (Jn 1:35-37). This incident would have been a loss for John if he had been counting his own followers. But John was too focused on pointing people toward Christ to keep track of attendance.

James’ call for a level playing field with regard to the rich and poor is immediately followed by what seems to be a very “classist” stereotype that leaves me really confused. “Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” (Jam 2:6-7). Really, James? Are ALL the rich people in the church he’s addressing acting in these ways? This jab at “the rich” from James is very curious to me.

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