Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, July 4, 2021 — Independence Day

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, July 4, 2021 — Independence Day
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

An Independence Day Prayer
A prayer of thanksgiving to God for America and the freedoms that we have been given.

Introduction & Theme

The reading from Second Samuel is a plain, not to say flat-footed, statement of David’s becoming king of all Israel after being king of the “house” of Judah for a few years (5:1-5). It continues with the barest report that David captured and expanded the city-state of Jerusalem, making it his personal property, the City of David (5:9-10). The simplicity and unpretentiousness of the Samuel account contrasts sharply with the presentation of Zion, the glorious mountain and city of God, in the Psalm reading. The Epistle reading for this Sunday is one of the most remarkable personal revelations of the apostle Paul in the New Testament. In his ongoing hassle to get the Corinthians to recognize the true nature of his apostleship, he is led to “boast” of his spiritual “adventures,” as it were—to contrast his own experiences with those of some self-important “apostles” with glowing credentials who are trying to set up as leaders of the Corinthian church. In the Gospel reading Jesus goes home again, and, as in the title of Thomas Wolfe’s novel (“You Can’t Go Home Again”), it doesn’t work.

Opening Prayer

Lord of mystery and community, you have called us here this day to remind us of the mission journey you set before us. Help us to pay attention to the words of Jesus as he sent out his disciples on a mission of healing and compassion. Remind us that success is not measured in the cures, but in the striving. Enable us to truly be your disciples in this world. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Puzzling God, we read in the Gospel Message that Jesus was questioned and rejected by his own hometown, friends, and relatives, and we wonder how he was able to continue in ministry with such a lack of support. We want to enter our endeavors with full support and acclamation. We are afraid to begin a task if even our families, friends, and hometown folk belittle it and also us. So rather than face degradation, we back down. Forgive our lack of faith and vision. Empower us to be in service to you, even when we do not feel the support of our family. Let us trust in your power and presence with us. Heal us. Guide our lives and our journeys all our days. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance

Do not be afraid of the derision of others. Place your trust in God’s call and guidance. Know that the Lord is with you always, even to the ends of the earth. Amen.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
The principle described here is true for individuals, families, communities and even entire nations: those who serve God will benefit from their close relationship with him. This specific promise in its context, however, applied to Israel—the nation chosen as God’s inheritance.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Historical books of the Old Testament
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
The Reign of David


5:1 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”

3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

9 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.

Commentary
Verses 1-5 — David was anointed king a third time. His advances were gradual, that his faith might be tried, and that he might gain experience. Thus his kingdom typified that of the Messiah, which was to come to its height by degrees. Thus Jesus became our Brother, took upon him our nature, dwelt in it that he might become our Prince and Savior: thus the humbled sinner takes encouragement from the endearing relation, applies for his salvation, submits to his authority, and craves his protection.

Verses 9-10 — The enemies of God's people are often very confident of their own strength, and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh. But the pride and insolence of the Jebusites animated David, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. Thus in the day of God's power, Satan's strong-hold, the human heart, is changed into a habitation of God through the Spirit, and into a throne on which the Son of David rules, and brings every thought into obedience to himself. May He thus come, and claim, and cleanse, each of our hearts; and, destroying every idol, may he reign there for ever!


From the Psalter
Psalm 48
God Our Guide


1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
     in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

2 Beautiful in its loftiness,
     the joy of the whole earth,
  like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
     the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels;
     he has shown himself to be her fortress.

4 When the kings joined forces,
     when they advanced together,
5 they saw her and were astounded;
     they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there,
     pain like that of a woman in labor.
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
     shattered by an east wind.

8 As we have heard,
     so we have seen
  in the city of the Lord Almighty,
     in the city of our God:
  God makes her secure
     forever.

9 Within your temple, O God,
     we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
     your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
     your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
     the villages of Judah are glad
     because of your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
     count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
     view her citadels,
  that you may tell of them
     to the next generation.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
     he will be our guide even to the end.


Commentary
Verses 1-7 — Jerusalem is the city of our God: none on earth render him due honor except the citizens of the spiritual Jerusalem. Happy the kingdom, the city, the family, the heart, in which God is great, in which he is all. There God is known. The clearer discoveries are made to us of the Lord and his greatness, the more it is expected that we should abound in his praises. The earth is, by sin, covered with deformity, therefore justly might that spot of ground, which was beautified with holiness, be called the joy of the whole earth; that which the whole earth has reason to rejoice in, that God would thus in very deed dwell with man upon the earth. The kings of the earth were afraid of it. Nothing in nature can more fitly represent the overthrow of heathenism by the Spirit of the gospel, than the wreck of a fleet in a storm. Both are by the mighty power of the Lord.

Verses 8-14 — We have here the improvement which the people of God are to make of his glorious and gracious appearances for them. Let our faith in the word of God be hereby confirmed. Let our hope of the stability of the church be encouraged. Let our minds be filled with good thoughts of God. All the streams of mercy that flow down to us, must be traced to the fountain of His loving-kindness. Let us give to God the glory of the great things he has done for us. Let all the members of the church take comfort from what the Lord does for his church. Let us observe the beauty, strength, and safety of the church. Consider its strength; see it founded on Christ the Rock, fortified by the Divine power, guarded by Him who neither slumbers nor sleeps. See what precious ordinances are its palaces, what precious promises are its bulwarks, that you may be encouraged to join yourselves to it: and tell this to others. This God, who has now done such great things for us, is unchangeable in his love to us, and his care for us. If he is our God, he will lead and keep us even to the last. He will so guide us, as to set us above the reach of death, so that it shall not do us any real hurt. He will lead us to a life in which there shall be no more death.


From the Epistles of the New Testament
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
God’s Power Made Perfect in Weakness


12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Commentary
Verses 2-6 — There can be no doubt the apostle speaks of himself. Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there, but he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the church is built, and on that we must build our faith and hope. And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with the usual methods of learning the truth and will of God.

Verses 7-10 — The apostle gives an account of the method God took to keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above measure, on account of the visions and revelations he had. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good. Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to continue praying. Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.


Today’s Gospel Reading
Mark 6:1-13
The Twelve Sent to Preach and Heal

Mark 6:1-13

6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?
3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Commentary
Verses 1-6 — Our Lord's countrymen tried to prejudice the minds of people against him. Is not this the carpenter? Our Lord Jesus probably had worked in that business with his father. He thus put honor upon mechanics, and encouraged all persons who eat by the labor of their hands. It becomes the followers of Christ to content themselves with the satisfaction of doing good, although they are denied the praise of it. How much did these Nazarenes lose by obstinate prejudices against Jesus! May Divine grace deliver us from that unbelief, which renders Christ a savoir of death, rather than of life to the soul. Let us, like our Master, go and teach cottages and peasants the way of salvation.

Verses 7-13 — Though the apostles were conscious to themselves of great weakness, and expected no wordly advantage, yet, in obedience to their Master, and in dependence upon his strength, they went out. They did not amuse people with curious matters, but told them they must repent of their sins, and turn to God. The servants of Christ may hope to turn many from darkness unto God, and to heal souls by the power of the Holy Ghost.


Here end the Readings

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed
  • We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
  • And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.
  • And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord's Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Communion

Holy Communion
A nondenominational serving of bread and wine

Benediction

Paradise shimmers in our midst; the highest heaven lies hidden all around us. Go, and you will discover God; and where you discover God most utterly, you shall know yourself most fully, and love your neighbor most perfectly. Amen.

True Independence
Independence has never been easy. Nearly 250 years ago, it was something worth fighting for. The idea of a people who stood on equal footing, free to speak, free to wander, free to live. These were ideals worth risking everything for. Today we find ourselves fighting old battles. Not with past foes, but with ourselves. We are a nation divided. It seems the very freedoms we once fought for have become stumbling blocks. Are we too busy seeking ourselves to even recognize the tragedy which surrounds us? In this moment; the truth of Scripture rings especially true. If we the people will humbly pray, turn from wickedness, and seek His face, then He will hear us, He will forgive us, and He will heal this land. Today, may we remember this one simple truth…True independence is found only in our dependence on God.


Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

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