Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, September 23, 2018 - Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Who Is the Greatest?
Mark 9:33-37

The Daily Readings
SUNDAY, September 23, 2018 - Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
(Revised Common Lectionary Year B)

Greeting
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer of the Day (Collect)
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Confession and Forgiveness
Trusting God's promise of forgiveness, let us confess our sins against God and one another.

Eternal God our creator, in you we live and move and have our being. Look upon us, your children, the work of your hands. Forgive us all our offenses, and cleanse us from proud thoughts and empty desires. By your grace draw us near to you, our refuge and our strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Lessons

Old Testament
Jeremiah 11:18-20
Jeremiah’s Life Threatened
11:18 It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
    then you showed me their evil deeds.
19 But I was like a gentle lamb
    led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
    that they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
    let us cut him off from the land of the living,
    so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
20 But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
    who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

The Psalm
Psalm 54 Deus, in nomine

1 Save me, O God, by your Name; *
in your might, defend my cause.

2 Hear my prayer, O God; *
give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For the arrogant have risen up against me,
and the ruthless have sought my life, *
those who have no regard for God.

4 Behold, God is my helper; *
it is the Lord who sustains my life.

5 Render evil to those who spy on me; *
in your faithfulness, destroy them.

6 I will offer you a freewill sacrifice *
and praise your Name, O Lord, for it is good.

7 For you have rescued me from every trouble, *
and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.

The Epistle
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Two Kinds of Wisdom
3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Friendship with the World
4:1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

The Gospel
Mark 9:30-37
Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection
9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Who Is the Greatest?
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”


Here ends the Lessons

Click HERE to read today's Holy Gospel Lesson message

The Apostle's Creed
We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

We believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Closing Prayer
Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ ore Lord. Amen.

Blessing
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission. The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.

"True Greatness" The Sermon for SUNDAY, September 23, 2018 - Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost


"True Greatness"

The Holy Gospel comes to us this morning from Mark the 9th chapter, beginning at the 30th verse.

9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. 33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for coming among us in the person of your Son, Jesus the Christ, who gave his life to restore us to a right relationship with you, our Creator. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, strengthen us in faith, that we might turn from our selfish ambitions and serve you by serving others, especially those in need. Let our lives be a mirror to others of your redeeming grace. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

I’d like for you to imagine the following scene, and tell me what you think about it. You’ve just been told by a doctor that you have an incurable disease. This disease is fatal. You know you have a short time until you die. The doctor describes in detail how the disease will progress and rob you of your life, and how painful of a process that it will be. So you go home, and you tell your family and closest friends what is going to happen to you. You tell them exactly what this disease is going to do to you, and when you will die, and the pain and suffering you will go through.

And what’s their reaction? They start to argue amongst themselves. One of your children says “Mom always wanted me to have her heirloom jewelry, so it’s mine!” Another says “No, I was always their favorite, so I’m going to get the house and you’ll be lucky to get a few bucks!” Yet another says “No no no, you’re all wrong. Since I took care of them in their old age, I’m going to get everything because you two never came and helped out during their illness!” I think we all agree that this would not be an appropriate course of action, listening to the children argue over which one is the greatest or will receive the biggest reward, right after you have told them you are going to die and the details of how you are going to die. We’d condemn such action as absolutely out of line! Rude, insensitive. Just some of the words that come to mind over such behavior.

Yet, in our Gospel reading for this morning, we see this very thing happen. Jesus predicts His upcoming passion, His suffering and death. He tells His disciples how He is going to go about His Messianic office by suffering and dying for the sins of the world. He says “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed after three days he will rise.” Here, Jesus is pouring out his heart. He is telling them what He is destined to do as the long-promised Messiah. One would expect the disciples to be saddened, or shocked by this announcement by Jesus. Our Teacher is going to be harmed, and suffer? You would think they’d be in agony over this.

Yet, what are the disciples discussing along the way to Capernaum after Jesus tells them this? The text tells us “they were arguing with one another about who was the greatest.” I can think of a few reactions most people have to this. Outrageous! Unbelievable! How rude! What in the world is wrong with these guys? What makes this text remarkable is that this is not the first time that this has happened.

Earlier in this chapter of Mark’s gospel, we have the account of the Transfiguration. Six days before that happened, back toward the end of Chapter 8, Jesus made another prediction of His upcoming suffering and death. And do you remember what happened at that time? Peter pulls Jesus aside and rebukes Jesus. Matthew’s account tells us that Peter says “Far be it from You, Lord. This shall never happen to you!” And do you remember what Jesus’ response was? “Get behind me, Satan. For you are not setting your mind of the things of God, but on the things of man.” In that case, according to Peter’s mindset, a suffering Savior isn’t glorious. It’s depressing. So he tells Jesus “this suffering servant stuff ain’t gonna happen because that’s not what I was looking for.” And Jesus corrects Peter’s attitude.

If we flip ahead another chapter in Mark’s Gospel, we come across Jesus foretelling His suffering and death yet a third time, and what happens there? James and John come up to Jesus, and ask Him to do whatever they want, and they ask for seats at His left and right in His glory. Again, another case of the disciples looking for glory in worldly terms.

If anything, these passion predictions point out to us the great contrast of glory in worldly terms vs. heavenly terms. In our world, we think of greatness as being in positions of power, authority, and might. That’s greatness in our society. Just think about the folks that we put up on a pedestal as “great”. They’re usually people who have excelled at something and have earned a lot of money, power, and worldly prestige because of it.

In our reading for today, Jesus has a great object lesson for the disciples on the issue of greatness in the kingdom of God. Jesus tells the disciples “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Then to show this, he takes a child and puts the child in the midst of the disciples, takes the child into His arms, and says “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me, but him who sent me.”

Let’s think about this object lesson here. Children are not glorious in the eyes of the world. In fact, they take up a lot of their parents’ time, talents, and treasures to take care of. A child needs to be given to, needs to be served, in order to survive and grow up. To receive a child, means that you have to physically get down to their level to pick up that child, give of yourself, in order that the child is taken care of. That’s not glorious in the eyes of the world. When you think about it, through the centuries, childcare has not been considered a glorious occupation. Motherhood or Fatherhood is often considered to be a burden by society instead of a great occupation. And why? Because servant hood is involved. It means giving of yourself to serve the needs of someone else who can’t meet their own needs.

This business of serving someone else is completely foreign to our definition of greatness. Before we get too far into bashing the disciples, we have to confess this morning that this is a concept that we have a hard time with, too, as Christians living in the 21st century. I already mentioned our society’s definition of greatness. To give you a perfect example, when Mother Teresa passed away in 1997, a lot was made of her service to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in the slums of Calcutta. She worked and served the “untouchables” of Indian society, devoting her life to these people. When people were remembering her life, the sentiment behind it was “we sure need a lot more people like her in this world, as long as it isn’t me.”

But this backwards way of greatness also plays out in our churches today. Churches that have a lot of money coming into the offering plate each week, and are packed to the rafters for several services are considered to be great, regardless of their stance on God’s Word. And yet, the small, rural church that preaches the good news of Christ Crucified for the sins of the world that struggles to meet its needs and has to share its Pastor with a neighboring congregation isn’t considered to be all that great. Within the local congregation, we look at our service within the church as something to puff us up with pride. We shout out to God “God, look at what I’ve done for you! I’ve been a member of this church for years. I’ve always been faithful in my attendance here. I’ve served on the council, I’ve been in the choir, I’ve taught Sunday School. I started this group or that group. I certainly put in a larger portion of my income into the offering plate for the work of my church than the person in the pew ahead of me. I pray daily. I read my Bible more than anyone; I have more knowledge than most people here. I’m doing pretty Good, Lord, so you must favor me over the next person.” While this line of thinking sounds good and pious, what word there comes up frequently? “I”. Instead of having Christ serve you or being a suffering servant, you have just made your piety into something to boast over. It’s nothing but sinful pride. Our world’s idea of greatness, whatever it may be, shows us that we don’t understand what being great in the Kingdom of God is all about.

But thanks be to God that Jesus did! You remember that prediction He made that the disciples seemingly blew off? He went ahead and fulfilled it anyway. Because there was no way that sinful man could possibly pay the enormous debt of his sin before God, Jesus left the splendor of heaven and took on the limitations of our sinful, human flesh. Where we broke God’s laws, He perfectly kept them. He then allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten, falsely accused of things He had not done, and allowed Himself to be crucified. Yes, Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, who was present when the world was created, allowed creation to take His own life. But the grave didn’t hold Him, as He rose again 3 days later.

And the amazing part about that was, he didn’t do it for Himself. He did it for you and me. For the times where we have put ourselves first, Christ suffered and died for that sin so that we might be saved from that sin. For the times where we have allowed our personal piety become our god, He died for that sin so that we may come before the foot of the cross, confess our sins of thought, word, and deed, and hear the good news that we are forgiven.

This is where that object lesson with the child becomes even more significant. In order for God to serve us, He had to stoop down to our level, and take on our flesh, in order to care for our needs. Jesus humbles Himself and becomes last of all in taking our sin to the cross and dying for it there. And through becoming the least of all, He becomes servant of all, and greatest of all.

Amen.

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The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission. Sermon written by Rev. Christopher Martin.
In our reading for today, Jesus has a great object lesson for the disciples on the issue of greatness in the kingdom of God.

The Morning Prayer for SUNDAY, September 23, 2018


Sunday morning prayer

Lord on this special day, I run into Your loving arms. May Sunday be a celebration, filled with thankfulness, where I connect with the presence of Heaven, seek Your beauty and goodness, and cherish special family time together. Come fill my heart afresh with Your love. May it overflow with Heaven's bounty, moving through this rest day and into the week ahead.

Lord on this special day, I run into Your arms. Spend cherished time with family, and find shelter in Your palm. May Sunday be a celebration, full up to the brim, with Heaven's promise ringing loud, and Your love flowing in.
Amen

Verse of the Day for SUNDAY, September 23, 2018


Romans 15:7 (NIV) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Read all of Romans 15

Listen to Romans 15

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Un dia a la Vez - La bendición da felicidad, no tristeza


La bendición da felicidad, no tristeza

Tuya es, Señor, la salvación; ¡envía tu bendición sobre tu pueblo!
~ Salmo 3:8 (NVI)

Si volteas la página y vuelves a leer el versículo de ayer, te darás cuenta que Dios afirma en su Palabra que su bendición enriquece y no da tristeza.

Quizá esta sería una buena prueba para nosotros y así poder estar seguros de que lo que Él nos da es perfecto. Además, que Él es el único que conoce el tiempo en que nos debe dar sus bendiciones y que no se equivoca, pues las conoce desde la eternidad.

Es normal que tengamos sueños que se convertirán realidad y otros que no pasarán de ser sueños o caprichos que no están en los planes de Dios. Lo que sí te puedo garantizar es que lo mejor para nuestra vida son los sueños que nos da nuestro Padre celestial, ya que Él sabe lo que nos hará felices.

Aprendamos a esperar ese día en que llegue la bendición. Sentirás paz, gozo y un gran respaldo espiritual. Entonces, gozarás en verdad de ese regalo y te sentirás feliz.

Lo más hermoso de todo esto es que siempre Dios tratará de cumplir tus más profundos anhelos para verte feliz.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
Si volteas la página y vuelves a leer el versículo de ayer, te darás cuenta que Dios afirma en su Palabra que su bendición enriquece y no da tristeza.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - SIMPLICITY OF THE CHURCH


SIMPLICITY OF THE CHURCH

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Rene looked carefully both ways as he turned the corner. No one seemed to be watching. Wiping the perspiration from his forehead he glanced at his watch. He was five minutes early. He walked slowly around the block a second time to arrive at the large gate at exactly 7:14. He pressed the bell three times: short...long...short. It was the newly changed code to indicate he was a fellow-believer. The gate opened and closed quickly as Rene slipped inside. In two hours time there were several hundred believers gathered secretly in the basement for fellowship.

Rene sat quietly waiting for the others. He remembered reading in a magazine about a small group in China that gathered weekly in the back room of a small store to worship together. It was the era of the infamous Cultural Revolution. Since the believers could easily be overheard by anyone entering the store, they “sang” hymns together without words or music. Someone whispered the name of the song and they would silently move their lips and simply think of the words and music.

He chuckled out loud. The memory came of Pastor Wally saying, “We are an underground church like the believers behind the Bamboo Curtain, but the difference is that we can praise in full voice because the facilities are sound proofed. Not even our closest neighbor can hear us.”

This is a description of a church group in Saudi Arabia - a country that has not had an official church in over fourteen hundred years. And yet many believers meet together secretly and at great risk all over the country.

The most common way for the church to express its faith in western societies has been through the institutional pattern. Consequently, this is the only pattern with which many Christians are familiar. But this form can be easily eliminated by a repressive government, is difficult to maintain in other hostile environments, and may not be appropriate to local cultural needs. There are other options if you and your fellow believers were under the rule of those who were trying to repress Christianity.

RESPONSE: Today I will accept that there are many forms of church to fulfill the five biblical functions of the church.

PRAYER: Pray for those around the world who must meet in secret for worship services.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

LHM Daily Devotions - Love in Christ Is Strong and Living

https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20180923

"Love in Christ Is Strong and Living"

Sep. 23, 2018

"Love in Christ is strong and living, binding faithful hearts in one; love in Christ is true and giving, may His will in us be done.

Love is patient and forbearing, clothed in Christ's humility, gentle, selfless, kind, and caring, reaching out in charity.

Love in Christ abides forever, fainting not when ills attend; love, forgiving and forgiven, shall endure until life's end."

I always cry at weddings.

Over the years, those tears have had different names. When I was single, they were tears of loneliness or longing. Then, after my own wedding, happiness spilled over into tears full of joy and eagerness for the new couple. After several years of marriage, however, those tears became much grittier laments, as the struggle to fulfill my own vows seemed to carve painful canyons into my soul.

At its best, marriage, family, and community have been given to us to mirror God's abiding and transforming love to one another, in tangible human experiences. When we first unite with a spouse, a baby, or even a common vision, it comes naturally. We give ourselves initially in selfless optimism that seems in everything to say, "Have your way with me."

And who doesn't want to love and be loved like that?

Yet, because love doesn't stop at polite platitudes and keep a safe distance "when ills attend," there are times when close relationships seem to reveal the ugliest parts of our hearts. Sadly, over time it becomes easier to believe the broken images we reflect to one another than the perfect love to which our relationships are meant to point. This is so much so that we can altogether despair of the love for which we once longed so deeply.

We wish love wasn't so messy. We wish we were perfect. And we wish life was easy! Those are the times when I cock my head at God and say, "Really? You thought this (insert specific relationship here) was a good idea?"

Thankfully, God's love for me tolerates even my strong propensity for sassiness, because I have come to realize these are the times when His unfailing love is most at work in and through me. There are relationships He's given us -- be they spouse or roommate, sibling, neighbor, or coworker. To love each one well requires character from us we may not have yet formed. That's okay. By God's Holy Spirit, He is shaping us into people we would probably not even aspire to be. Which basically means God uses these relationships of love, as imperfect and painful as they are at times, to fulfill His work of conforming us to the best person we can be -- one who daily is becoming more like His Son, Jesus.

Recently, my wedding tears have changed into tears of gratitude and relief for what the Lord is doing in me and my spouse. Through the sometimes joyful and sometimes gritty love we share, the tears have changed me. Well, more accurately it's the love of God that is changing us both.

THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for the beauty and passion of Your abiding love at work in us to fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts! Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "Love in Christ Is Strong and Living." Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
I always cry at weddings.

Notre Pain Quotidien - À l’écoute de son frère

https://www.ministeresnpq.org/2018/09/23/a-lecoute-de-son-frere/

À l’écoute de son frère


[Celui] qui ramènera un pécheur de la voie où il s’était égaré sauvera une âme de la mort et couvrira une multitude de péchés. Jacques 5.20

« Tu dois m’écouter ; je suis ton frère ! » C’est ce qu’un aîné inquiet disait à son cadet qui s’éloignait trop de lui. L’aîné était manifestement mieux en mesure de juger de ce qu’il fallait faire en pareille situation.

Combien d’entre nous ont résisté au sage conseil d’un frère ou d’une sœur ayant une plus grande maturité qu’eux ? Si vous avez déjà dû en subir les conséquences, sachez que vous n’êtes pas le seul ou la seule.

En tant que croyants en Jésus, l’une des meilleures ressources que nous puissions avoir est la famille – ceux qui sont spirituellement liés à nous par une foi commune en lui. Cette famille inclut des hommes et des femmes mûrs qui aiment Dieu et s’aiment les uns les autres. Comme le petit frère de mon quartier, il nous est parfois nécessaire de recevoir une mise en garde ou une réprimande pour nous ramener dans la bonne voie. Cela s’avère plus particulièrement lorsque nous offensons quelqu’un ou que quelqu’un nous offense. Or, il peut être difficile de faire la bonne chose. Les paroles que Jésus a prononcées dans Matthieu 18.15‑20 nous montrent toutefois quoi faire quand des blessures surviennent au sein de notre famille spirituelle.

Par bonheur, notre Père céleste empreint de grâce nous fait rencontrer des gens disposés à nous aider à l’honorer, ainsi que les autres. Et lorsque nous nous mettons à leur écoute, les choses se passent mieux dans la famille (V. 15).

En écoutant les paroles de croyants mûrs, on s’assagit.


© 2018 Ministères NPQ
Combien d’entre nous ont résisté au sage conseil d’un frère ou d’une sœur ayant une plus grande maturité qu’eux ?