Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, September 5, 2021

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125;
James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17; Mark 7:24-37
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The Book of James — One of the most influential books of the Bible

Introduction & Theme
Today’s readings center on justice. Proverbs reminds us to take care of those around us who are in need, especially the poor and vulnerable. The psalmist proclaims the goodness of God and encourages the worshiping community to walk in the ways of God. James shares what it means to be faithful in the eyes of God: Faith requires actions, specifically the actions of taking care of those who have been forgotten by society. And in the Gospel of Mark, a woman who has been shunned by the community reminds Jesus that she and her daughter are deserving of God’s goodness and mercy. Jesus brings healing to her and to many others. These passages remind us that we too are called by God to help those around us.

Opening Prayer
Holy One, we call upon your name, for we know that your name and favor are more precious than human riches. You hate wickedness and abhor the neglect of your people. You call us to righteousness, to reach out to others with justice and mercy. You teach us right from wrong, that we may truly live in your grace. In the shadow of that grace, we offer compassion and mercy to others. Abide with us this day, that we may serve you forevermore. Amen.

Call to Confession
Gracious God, we come before you today knowing that we often fall short of your call to love one another well. We allow ourselves to be blinded by wealth and power. We ignore those around us who suffer injustice, poverty, and rejection. We tune out the cries of the poor and those on the edges of our communities. Help us to see your great generosity, hear your word of mercy, and feel your great love for all who need your redemptive grace. Strengthen us to reach out in service to those who are in need. Make us aware of those outside our own communities, that we may see them as your precious children and serve them in humility and joy. May we continue to grow in grace as we learn how to serve you in the name of the great Servant, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God. May we understand the grace and forgiveness bestowed upon us by God, that others may find the Kingdom within us and among us.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We can confidently bring the truth of salvation to the world because we have Jesus’ divine authority to empower us and give us wisdom. Our job is to be obedient to His command and to be His faithful messengers—telling others about His saving grace through faith in Him. When we do this, the Lord Jesus Christ will draw men and women to Himself.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Books of Wisdom

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
A Good Name


1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
     to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

2 Rich and poor have this in common:
     The Lord is the Maker of them all.

8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
     and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

9 The generous will themselves be blessed,
     for they share their food with the poor.

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
      and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case
      and will exact life for life.


Commentary
Great riches are not always a great blessing. When they are held in trust for God, they afford the opportunity of giving a vast amount of happiness to the benefactor as well as to those benefited. But we recall other riches, which do not consist in what a man has, but in what he is. There are four levels of human experience-to have, to do, to know, and to be-and these in their order are like iron, silver, gold, precious stones.

Some of these riches are enumerated here: a good name and loving favor, Proverbs 22:1; the faith that hides in God, Proverbs 22:3; true humility and godly fear, Proverbs 22:4; the child-heart, Proverbs 22:6; the beautiful eye and open hand, Proverbs 22:9; purity of heart and thought, Proverbs 22:11; alacrity and diligence, Proverbs 22:13. If only we would cultivate the inward graces and gifts of our soul-life, all who feel our influence would be proportionately enriched.

From the Psalter
Psalm 125
Trust in the Lord


1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
     which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
     so the Lord surrounds his people
     both now and forevermore.

3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain
     over the land allotted to the righteous,
  for then the righteous might use
     their hands to do evil.

4 Lord, do good to those who are good,
     to those who are upright in heart.
5 But those who turn to crooked ways
     the Lord will banish with the evildoers.


Commentary
Verses 1-3: All those minds shall be truly stayed, that are stayed on God. They shall be as Mount Zion, firm as it is; a mountain supported by providence, much more as a holy mountain supported by promise. They cannot be removed from confidence in God. They abide for ever in that grace which is the earnest of their everlasting continuance in glory. Committing themselves to God, they shall be safe from their enemies. Even mountains may molder and come to nothing, and rocks be removed, but God's covenant with his people cannot be broken, nor his care of them cease. Their troubles shall last no longer than their strength will bear them up under them. The rod of the wicked may come, may fall upon the righteous, upon their persons, their estates, their liberties, their families names, on any thing that falls to their lot; only it cannot reach their souls. And though it may come upon their lot, it shall not rest thereon. The Lord will make all work together for their good. The wicked shall only prove a correcting rod, not a destroying sword; even this rod shall not remain upon them, lest they distrust the promise, thinking God has cast them off.

Verses 4-5: God's promises should quicken our prayers. The way of holiness is straight; there are no windings or shifting in it. But the ways of sinners are crooked. They shift from one purpose to another, and turn hither and thither to deceive; but disappointment and misery shall befall them. Those who cleave to the ways of God, though they may have trouble in their way, their end shall be peace. The pleading of their Savior for them, secures to them the upholding power and preserving grace of their God. Lord, number us with them, in time, and to eternity.


From the Epistles
James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17
Faith Without Works is Dead


1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

[
11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.]

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Commentary
Verses 1-13: Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshiping congregations. A lowly state is most favorable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honors of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbor as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.

Verses 14-17: Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith. A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes.


Today’s Gospel Reading
Mark 7:24-37
Christ Heals a Little Girl and a Deaf Man


24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Commentary
Verses 24-30: Christ never put any from him that fell at his feet, which a poor trembling soul may do. As she was a good woman, so a good mother. This sent her to Christ. His saying, Let the children first be filled, shows that there was mercy for the Gentiles, and not far off. She spoke, not as making light of the mercy, but magnifying the abundance of miraculous cures among the Jews, in comparison with which a single cure was but as a crumb. Thus, while proud Pharisees are left by the blessed Savior, he manifests his compassion to poor humbled sinners, who look to him for children's bread. He still goes about to seek and save the lost.

Verses 31-37: Here is a cure of one that was deaf and dumb. Those who brought this poor man to Christ, besought him to observe the case, and put forth his power. Our Lord used more outward actions in the doing of this cure than usual. These were only signs of Christ's power to cure the man, to encourage his faith, and theirs that brought him. Though we find great variety in the cases and manner of relief of those who applied to Christ, yet all obtained the relief they sought. Thus it still is in the great concerns of our souls.


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

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

Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present. This table is open to all who recognize Jesus Christ as healer and redeemer. This table is open to all who work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. No one is turned away because of life circumstances. No one is barred from this table. No one seeking God’s abundant grace and mercy is turned aside. We see before us the abundance that a life of faith offers as we respond to God’s everlasting mercy in prayer and deed.

Benediction
Go forth to love one another. Be rich in faith and serve one another in all joy and humility. And may the power of God our Creator, Christ our Salvation, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us now and forever. Amen.

You Have a Purpose
God has a plan for us. We were created by Him to do His work. His purpose will stand, and cannot be thwarted. We must seek to do His will and not our own.


Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets].

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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