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Psalm 128

(A song for worship.)

The Lord Rewards His Faithful People

128 The Lord will bless you
    if you respect him
    and obey his laws.
Your fields will produce,
    and you will be happy
    and all will go well.
Your wife will be as fruitful
    as a grapevine,
and just as an olive tree
    is rich with olives,
    your home will be rich
    with healthy children.
That is how the Lord will bless
    everyone who respects him.

I pray that the Lord
    will bless you from Zion
    and let Jerusalem prosper
    as long as you live.
May you live long enough
    to see your grandchildren.
    Let’s pray for peace in Israel!

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Ecclesiastes 5

Be Careful How You Worship

Be careful what you do when you enter the house of God. Some fools go there to offer sacrifices, even though they haven’t sinned.[a] But it’s best just to listen when you go to worship. Don’t talk before you think or make promises to God without thinking them through. God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so don’t talk too much. If you keep thinking about something, you will dream about it. If you talk too much, you will say the wrong thing.

God doesn’t like fools. So don’t be slow to keep your promises to God. It’s better not to make a promise at all than to make one and not keep it. Don’t let your mouth get you in trouble! And don’t say to the worship leader,[b] “I didn’t mean what I said.” God can destroy everything you have worked for, so don’t say something that makes God angry.

Respect and obey God! Daydreaming leads to a lot of senseless talk.[c]

Don’t be surprised if the poor of your country are abused, and injustice takes the place of justice. After all, the lower officials must do what the higher ones order them to do. And since the king is the highest official, he benefits most from the taxes paid on the land.[d]

10 If you love money and wealth, you will never be satisfied with what you have. This doesn’t make sense either. 11 The more you have, the more everyone expects from you. Your money won’t do you any good—others will just spend it for you. 12 If you have to work hard for a living, you can rest well at night, even if you don’t have much to eat. But if you are rich, you can’t even sleep.

13 I have seen something terribly unfair. People get rich, but it does them no good. 14 Suddenly they lose everything in a bad business deal, then have nothing to leave for their children. 15 They came into this world naked, and when they die, they will be just as naked. They can’t take anything with them, and they won’t have anything to show for all their work. 16 That’s terribly unfair. They leave the world just as they came into it. They gained nothing from running after the wind. 17 Besides all this, they are always gloomy at mealtime, and they are troubled, sick, and bitter.[e]

18 What is the best thing to do in the short life that God has given us? I think we should enjoy eating, drinking, and working hard. This is what God intends for us to do. 19 Suppose you are very rich and able to enjoy everything you own. Then go ahead and enjoy working hard—this is God’s gift to you. 20 God will keep you so happy that you won’t have time to worry about each day.

Footnotes:

  1. 5.1 even. . . sinned: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 5.6 worship leader: Or “messenger.”
  3. 5.7 Daydreaming. . . talk: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 5.9 land: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 9.
  5. 5.17 bitter: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 17.
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John 8:21-38

You Cannot Go Where I Am Going

21 Jesus also told them, “I am going away, and you will look for me. But you cannot go where I am going, and you will die with your sins unforgiven.”

22 The Jewish leaders asked, “Does he intend to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying we cannot go where he is going?”

23 Jesus answered, “You are from below, but I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don’t. 24 That is why I said you will die with your sins unforgiven. If you don’t have faith in me for who I am,[a] you will die, and your sins will not be forgiven.”

25 “Who are you?” they asked Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am exactly who I told you at the beginning. 26 There is a lot more I could say to condemn you. But the one who sent me is truthful, and I tell the people of this world only what I have heard from him.”

27 No one understood that Jesus was talking to them about the Father.

28 Jesus went on to say, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man,[b] you will know who I am. You will also know that I don’t do anything on my own. I say only what my Father taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me. I always do what pleases him, and he will never leave me.”

30 After Jesus said this, many of the people put their faith in him.

The Truth Will Set You Free

31 Jesus told the people who had faith in him, “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered, “We are Abraham’s children! We have never been anyone’s slaves. How can you say we will be set free?”

34 Jesus replied:

I tell you for certain that anyone who sins is a slave of sin! 35 And slaves don’t stay in the family forever, though the Son will always remain in the family. 36 If the Son gives you freedom, you are free! 37 I know that you are from Abraham’s family. Yet you want to kill me, because my message isn’t really in your hearts. 38 I am telling you what my Father has shown me, just as you are doing what your father has taught you.

Footnotes:

  1. 8.24 I am: For the Jewish people the most holy name of God is “Yahweh,” which may be translated “I am.” In the Gospel of John “I am” is sometimes used by Jesus to show that he is that one.
  2. 8.28 lifted up the Son of Man: See the note at 7.39.
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