Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, September 12, 2021

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalm 19; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Psalm 19
"Listen. Can you hear it?
The heavens are declaring, right out loud, our God is glorious."

Introduction & Theme
Proverbs, James, and Mark all agree: Willful people do foolish and destructive things that annoy God. In Proverbs, Dame Wisdom cries out to those who love being simple and whose actions are fraught with folly. When calamity strikes, she will laugh, for they have been warned. The epistle speaks of the dangers of gossip and errant teachings, warning that an unbridled tongue can unleash the very fires of hell. In Mark’s Gospel, when Peter rebukes Jesus for his talk of dying, Jesus rebukes Peter for setting his mind on worldly things. Finally, the psalmist proclaims that fear (worship) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Opening Prayer
Eternal God, the heavens declare your glory, even as Wisdom proclaims your precepts to all people. Set our minds on the things that are above rather than things that are below, that when the journey becomes hard, we may have the courage to follow you to the bitter end. Be with us in our hour of need, that we may be found faithful when Wisdom comes to call. Amen.

Call to Confession
Wisdom cries in the streets, but we do not listen or understand. The words of your law are spoken, but we rarely pay heed or obey. You call us to declare who Jesus is for us, but we can’t seem to get the right words out. Our tongues engage before our brains do. We want so much to be a people who are faithful to your word and led by your guidance, but we are so easily distracted by the cacophony of words and sounds Forgive us when we are quick to speak and slow to understand. Forgive us when we do not hear your wisdom in all the ways you speak to us. Forgive us when we do not even try to truly understand what it means to be your disciples. Lead us back to the path of wisdom and life, that we may truly live. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
Those who listen to the words of wisdom will be secure and live in ease. Know that our God never ceases to reach out in love and forgiveness, guiding us on the path of life and righteousness, calling us to claim our true identity as disciples and beloved sons and daughters of the living God.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
The Philippians understood the power of rejoicing in every situation—they had seen it firsthand through Paul (Acts 16:16–34). When he and Silas were beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, the two sang hymns of praise to the Lord. Suddenly, the prison walls were shaken, and soon after, the jailer was saved and the missionaries were released! Likewise, we should praise God no matter our circumstances because we know the Lord will redeem our situation for our good and His glory if we will trust Him (Ps. 30:5, 11; 126:5, 6).

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Books of Wisdom

Proverbs 1:20-33
Wisdom’s Rebuke to the Foolish


20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
      she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
      at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
      How long will mockers delight in mockery
      and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
      Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
      I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
      and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
      and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
      I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
      when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
      when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
      they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
      and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
      and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
      and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
      and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
      and be at ease, without fear of harm.”


Commentary
Solomon, having showed how dangerous it is to hearken to the temptations of Satan, here declares how dangerous it is not to hearken to the calls of God. Christ himself is Wisdom, is Wisdoms. Three sorts of persons are here called by Him: 1. Simple ones. Sinners are fond of their simple notions of good and evil, their simple prejudices against the ways of God, and flatter themselves in their wickedness. 2. Scorners. Proud, jovial people, that make a jest of every thing. Scoffers at religion, that run down every thing sacred and serious. 3. Fools. Those are the worst of fools that hate to be taught, and have a rooted dislike to serious godliness. The precept is plain; Turn you at my reproof. We do not make a right use of reproofs, if we do not turn from evil to that which is good. The promises are very encouraging. Men cannot turn by any power of their own; but God answers, Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you. Special grace is needful to sincere conversion. But that grace shall never be denied to any who seek it. The love of Christ, and the promises mingled with his reproofs, surely should have the attention of every one. It may well be asked, how long men mean to proceed in such a perilous path, when the uncertainty of life and the consequences of dying without Christ are considered? Now sinners live at ease, and set sorrow at defiance; but their calamity will come. Now God is ready to hear their prayers; but then they shall cry in vain. Are we yet despisers of wisdom? Let us hearken diligently, and obey the Lord Jesus, that we may enjoy peace of conscience and confidence in God; be free from evil, in life, in death, and for ever.

From the Psalter
Psalm 19
God’s Statutes Rejoice the Heart


1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
     the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
     night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
     no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
     their words to the ends of the world.
  In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
     like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
     and makes its circuit to the other;
     nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
     refreshing the soul.
  The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
     making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
     giving joy to the heart.
  The commands of the Lord are radiant,
     giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
     enduring forever.
  The decrees of the Lord are firm,
     and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
      than much pure gold;
   they are sweeter than honey,
      than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
      in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
      Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
      may they not rule over me.
   Then I will be blameless,
      innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
      be pleasing in your sight,
      Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


Commentary
Verses 1-6: The heavens so declare the glory of God, and proclaim his wisdom, power, and goodness, that all ungodly men are left without excuse. They speak themselves to be works of God's hands; for they must have a Creator who is eternal, infinitely wise, powerful, and good. The counter-changing of day and night is a great proof of the power of God, and calls us to observe, that, as in the kingdom of nature, so in that of providence, he forms the light, and creates the darkness, Isaiah 45:7, and sets the one against the other. The sun in the firmament is an emblem of the Sun of righteousness, the Bridegroom of the church, and the Light of the world, diffusing Divine light and salvation by his gospel to the nations of the earth. He delights to bless his church, which he has espoused to himself; and his course will be unwearied as that of the sun, till the whole earth is filled with his light and salvation. Let us pray for the time when he shall enlighten, cheer, and make fruitful every nation on earth, with the blessed salvation. They have no speech or language, so some read it, and yet their voice is heard. All people may hear these preachers speak in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. Let us give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.

Verses 7-10: The Holy Scripture is of much greater benefit to us than day or night, than the air we breathe, or the light of the sun. To recover man out of his fallen state, there is need of the word of God. The word translated "law," may be rendered doctrine, and be understood as meaning all that teaches us true religion. The whole is perfect; its tendency is to convert or turn the soul from sin and the world, to God and holiness. It shows our sinfulness and misery in departing from God, and the necessity of our return to him. This testimony is sure, to be fully depended on: the ignorant and unlearned believing what God saith, become wise unto salvation. It is a sure direction in the way of duty. It is a sure fountain of living comforts, and a sure foundation of lasting hopes. The statues of the Lord are right, just as they should be; and, because they are right, they rejoice the heart. The commandments of the Lord are pure, holy, just, and good. By them we discover our need of a Savior; and then learn how to adorn his gospel. They are the means which the Holy Spirit uses in enlightening the eyes; they bring us to a sight and sense of our sin and misery, and direct us in the way of duty. The fear of the Lord, that is, true religion and godliness, is clean, it will cleanse our way; and it endured for ever. The ceremonial law is long since done away, but the law concerning the fear of God is ever the same. The judgments of the Lord, his precepts, are true; they are righteous, and they are so altogether; there is no unrighteousness in any of them. Gold is only for the body, and the concerns of time; but grace is for the soul, and the concerns of eternity. The word of God, received by faith, is more precious than gold; it is sweet to the soul, sweeter than honey. The pleasure of sense soon surfeit, yet never satisfy; but those of religion are substantial and satisfying; there is no danger of excess.

Verses 11-14: God's word warns the wicked not to go on in his wicked way, and warns the righteous not to turn from his good way. There is a reward, not only after keeping, but in keeping God's commandments. Religion makes our comforts sweet, and our crosses easy, life truly valuable, and death itself truly desirable. David not only desired to be pardoned and cleansed from the sins he had discovered and confessed, but from those he had forgotten or overlooked. All discoveries of sin made to us by the law, should drive us to the throne of grace, there to pray. His dependence was the same with that of every Christian who says, Surely in the Lord Jesus have I righteousness and strength. No prayer can be acceptable before God which is not offered in the strength of our Redeemer or Divine Kinsman, through Him who took our nature upon him, that he might redeem us unto God, and restore the long-lost inheritance. May our hearts be much affected with the excellence of the word of God; and much affected with the evil of sin, and the danger we are in of it, and the danger we are in by it.


From the Epistles
James 3:1-12
Dangers of the Unbridled Tongue


1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Commentary
We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. No man can tame the tongue without Divine grace and assistance. The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other sins decay with age, this many times gets worse; we grow more froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days come on in which we have no pleasure. When other sins are tamed and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words used become more passionate. That man's tongue confutes itself, which at one time pretends to adore the perfections of God, and to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions. True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. But facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues. Then, depending on Divine grace, let us take heed to bless and curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and actions.

Today’s Gospel Reading
Mark 8:27-38
Peter’s Confession of Faith

MARK 8:27-38

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Commentary
Verses 27-33: These things are written, that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. These miracles of our Lord assure us that he was not conquered, but a Conqueror. Now the disciples are convinced that Jesus is the Christ; they may bear to hear of his sufferings, of which Christ here begins to give them notice. He sees that amiss in what we say and do, of which we ourselves are not aware, and knows what manner of spirit we are of, when we ourselves do not. The wisdom of man is folly, when it pretends to limit the Divine counsels. Peter did not rightly understand the nature of Christ's kingdom.

Verses 34-38: Frequent notice is taken of the great flocking there was to Christ for help in various cases. All are concerned to know this, if they expect him to heal their souls. They must not indulge the ease of the body. As the happiness of heaven with Christ, is enough to make up for the loss of life itself for him, so the gain of all the world in sin, will not make up for the ruin of the soul by sin. And there is a day coming, when the cause of Christ will appear as glorious, as some now think it mean and contemptible. May we think of that season, and view every earthly object as we shall do at that great day.


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
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 with the words of wisdom crying in your ears. Go forth with songs of hope singing in your heart. Know that you are called to be faithful followers of the One who will always be near you, will always guide and encourage you to walk the path of life. Amen.

The Power of Words


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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