Ezekiel 14-15Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Ezekiel Encourages the People To Turn Back to the Lord
14 One day, some of Israel’s leaders came to me and asked for a message from the Lord. 2 While they were there, the Lord said:
3 Ezekiel, son of man, these men have started worshiping idols, though they know it will cause them to sin even more. So I refuse to give them a message!
4 Tell the people of Israel that if they sin by worshiping idols and then go to a prophet to find out what I say, I will give them the answer their sins deserve. 5 When they hear my message, maybe they will see that they need to turn back to me and stop worshiping those idols.
6 Now, Ezekiel, tell everyone in Israel:
I am the Lord God. Stop worshiping your disgusting idols and come back to me.
7 Suppose one of you Israelites or a foreigner living in Israel rejects me and starts worshiping idols. If you then go to a prophet to find out what I say, I will answer 8 by turning against you. I will make you a warning to anyone who might think of doing the same thing, and you will no longer belong to my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord and that you have sinned against me.
9 If a prophet gives a false message, I am the one who caused that prophet to lie. But I will still reject him and cut him off from my people, 10 and anyone who goes to that prophet for a message will be punished in the same way. 11 I will do this, so that you will come back to me and stop destroying yourselves with these disgusting sins. So turn back to me! Then I will be your God, and you will be my people. I, the Lord God, make this promise.
Judgment on a Sinful Nation
12 The Lord God said:
13 Ezekiel, son of man, suppose an entire nation sins against me, and I punish it by destroying the crops and letting its people and livestock starve to death. 14 Even if Noah, Daniel,[a] and Job were living in that nation, their faithfulness would not save anyone but themselves.
15 Or suppose I punish a nation by sending wild animals to eat people and scare away every passerby, so that the land becomes a barren desert. 16 As surely as I live, I promise that even if these three men lived in that nation, their own children would not be spared. The three men would live, but the land would be an empty desert.
17 Or suppose I send an enemy to attack a sinful nation and kill its people and livestock. 18 If these three men were in that nation when I punished it, not even their children would be spared. Only the three men would live.
19 And suppose I am so angry that I send a deadly disease to wipe out the people and livestock of a sinful nation. 20 Again, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were living there, I, the Lord, promise that the children of these faithful men would also die. Only the three of them would be spared.
21 I am the Lord God, and I promise to punish Jerusalem severely. I will send war, starvation, wild animals, and deadly disease to slaughter its people and livestock. 22 And those who survive will be taken from their country and led here to Babylonia. Ezekiel, when you see how sinful they are, you will know why I did all these things to Jerusalem. 23 You will be convinced that I, the Lord God, was right in doing what I did.
Jerusalem Is a Useless Vine
15 Some time later, the Lord said:
2 Ezekiel, son of man, what happens to the wood of a grapevine after the grapes have been picked? It isn’t like other trees in the forest, 3 because the wood of a grapevine can’t be used to make anything, not even a small peg to hang things on. 4 It can only be used as firewood. But after its ends are burnt and its middle is charred, it can’t be used for anything. 5 The wood is useless before it is burned, and afterwards, it is completely worthless.
6 I, the Lord God, promise that just as the wood of a grapevine is burned as firewood, 7 I will punish the people of Jerusalem with fire. Some of them have escaped one destruction, but soon they will be completely burned. And when that happens, you, Ezekiel, will know that I am the Lord. 8 I will make their country an empty wasteland, because they have not been loyal to me. I, the Lord God, have spoken.
James 2Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Warning against Having Favorites
2 My friends, if you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you won’t treat some people better than others. 2 Suppose a rich person wearing fancy clothes and a gold ring comes to one of your meetings. And suppose a poor person dressed in worn-out clothes also comes. 3 You must not give the best seat to the one in fancy clothes and tell the one who is poor to stand at the side or sit on the floor. 4 That is the same as saying that some people are better than others, and you would be acting like a crooked judge.
5 My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. 6 You mistreat the poor. But isn’t it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who make fun of your Lord?
8 You will do all right, if you obey the most important law[a] in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves. 9 But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned.
10 If you obey every law except one, you are still guilty of breaking them all. 11 The same God who told us to be faithful in marriage also told us not to murder. So even if you are faithful in marriage, but murder someone, you still have broken God’s Law.
12 Speak and act like people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13 Do this, because on the day of judgment there will be no pity for those who have not had pity on others. But even in judgment, God is merciful![b]
Faith and Works
14 My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? 15 If you know someone who doesn’t have any clothes or food, 16 you shouldn’t just say, “I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.” What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? 17 Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!
18 Suppose someone disagrees and says, “It is possible to have faith without doing kind deeds.”
I would answer, “Prove that you have faith without doing kind deeds, and I will prove that I have faith by doing them.” 19 You surely believe there is only one God. That’s fine. Even demons believe this, and it makes them shake with fear.
20 Does some stupid person want proof that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Well, our ancestor Abraham pleased God by putting his son Isaac on the altar to sacrifice him. 22 Now you see how Abraham’s faith and deeds worked together. He proved that his faith was real by what he did. 23 This is what the Scriptures mean by saying, “Abraham had faith in God, and God was pleased with him.” That’s how Abraham became God’s friend.
24 You can now see that we please God by what we do and not only by what we believe. 25 For example, Rahab had been a prostitute. But she pleased God when she welcomed the spies and sent them home by another way.
26 Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead!
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