Friday, September 10, 2021

The Daily Bible Readings for Friday, September 10, 2021

 
Faith without works is Dead

The Daily Bible Readings
Friday, September 10, 2021
Psalm 19; Proverbs 19:24-29; James 2:17-26
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Introduction
In today’s lectionary readings, the psalmist proclaims that fear (worship) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In our reading from Proverbs, we read that it is wise to be patient. In our epistle reading, we learn that faith without deeds is dead. Our verse of the day assures us that it is not only our early years about which the Lord is interested. He is with us every day of our lives, from the cradle to the grave. He cares for us from the womb to the tomb; from start to finish—from birth to death and for every day and season in between.

Today’s Verse of the Day:
Isaiah 46:4

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
As we grow older, we grow weaker and more frail, but God never does. He is the “Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:9, 13, 22). He remains infinitely strong and sustains you today as He did Paul, Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Adam.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
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 Books of Wisdom
Proverbs 19:24-29
It is Wise to be Patient


24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
      he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
      rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.

26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother
      is a child who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
      and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
      and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
      and beatings for the backs of fools.


Commentary
Verse 24: God directs affairs in people’s lives, and desires from them reverent loyalty. He blesses the obedient, but not the lazy.

Verses 25-29: Physical punishment is often the only method of correction that fools understand, but sensible people listen to rebukes and learn from them.


From the Epistles
James 2:17-26
Abraham and Rahab’s Faith


17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Commentary
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. Men may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not. There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar favors. We see then, ver. James 2:24, how that by works a man is justified, not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by having such faith as produces good works. And to have to deny his own reason, affections, and interests, is an action fit to try a believer. Observe here, the wonderful power of faith in changing sinners. Rahab's conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power; it showed that she believed with her heart, not merely by an assent of the understanding. Let us then take heed, for the best works, without faith, are dead; they want root and principle. By faith any thing we do is really good; as done in obedience to God, and aiming at his acceptance: the root is as though it were dead, when there is no fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits; and we must see to it that we have both. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it. There is no middle state. Every one must either live God's friend, or God's enemy. Living to God, as it is the consequence of faith, which justifies and will save, obliges us to do nothing against him, but every thing for him and to him.


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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