Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, August 29, 2021

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Song of Songs 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27;
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Vending Machine God
Sometimes our perspective of God can be a bit strange. To some, God appears to be like a vending machine, casually dispensing spiritual gifts and talents by our requests. But is he more than just a vending machine?

Introduction & Theme
Luscious imagery unites the passage from Song of Songs with the psalm. We smell the fragrance of flowers and oil, hear birdsong and music, and see the beauty of God’s world and the king’s court. We are invited to come and be anointed with the oil of gladness. A world of such abundance calls us to live faithful lives filled with righteousness and equity—hating wickedness and all evil intentions, speaking carefully, and caring for those in need. God calls us to respond, not with outward ritual, but with a deep dedication of our hearts, embodying God’s word in our actions.

Opening Prayer
Creating God, you are the source of summer’s splendor—the beauty and fragrance of delicate flowers, and sweet sound of birdsong. We come to you this morning with delight and gladness, grateful for all of your wonders. As the fields produce their harvest, may your love grow within us, that we too may produce a harvest of love, hope, and joy. Amen.

Call to Confession
God of mercy, you know us so well. We like to think that we can hide from You, but we are just kidding ourselves. You have offered to us new life, characterized by honesty, compassion, joy, and peace. You have invited us into ministries of peace and justice; but we have far too often turned our back on opportunities for service and witness to your transformational love. Forgive us for our stubbornness. Help us to turn around and listen to your words of hope. Remind us again that you require compassion and mercy in all who serve you; that you will guide our steps and our lives. Give us courage to truly be your witnesses in this world. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
Even if you have transgressed and done what you know to be wrong, remember that God will heal and forgive you; sending you on your way to become a person of peace, hope, love and justice. Be at peace. God is with you. Amen.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Paul asserted that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross for all people. We all come to Christ as sinners—with the same level of need for salvation. It is only by faith in His grace that we are redeemed. God does not play favorites after we are saved, either—neither by economic or social status, nor by the role we are called to fulfill (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11). He makes us into a single unit, the body of Christ, and calls us all to serve Him in obedience.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Books of Wisdom

Song of Songs 2:8-13
Song of Two Lovers


8 Listen! My beloved!
     Look! Here he comes,
  leaping across the mountains,
     bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
     Look! There he stands behind our wall,
  gazing through the windows,
     peering through the lattice.
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
      “Arise, my darling,
      my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
      the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
      the season of singing has come,
   the cooing of doves
      is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
      the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
   Arise, come, my darling;
      my beautiful one, come with me.”


Commentary
The church pleases herself with thoughts of further communion with Christ. None besides can speak to the heart. She sees him come. This may be applied to the prospect the Old Testament saints had of Christ's coming in the flesh. He comes as pleased with his own undertaking. He comes speedily. Even when Christ seems to forsake, it is but for a moment; he will soon return with everlasting loving-kindness. The saints of old saw him, appearing through the sacrifices and ceremonial institutions. We see him through a glass darkly, as he manifests himself through the lattices. Christ invites the new convert to arise from sloth and despondency, and to leave sin and worldly vanities, for union and communion with him. The winter may mean years passed in ignorance and sin, unfruitful and miserable, or storms and tempests that accompanied his conviction of guilt and danger. Even the unripe fruits of holiness are pleasant unto Him whose grace has produced them. All these encouraging tokens and evidences of Divine favor, are motives to the soul to follow Christ more fully. Arise then, and come away from the world and the flesh, come into fellowship with Christ. This blessed change is owing wholly to the approaches and influences of the Sun of righteousness.

From the Psalter
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
Anointed with the Oil of Gladness

1 My heart is stirred by a noble theme
     as I recite my verses for the king;
     my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

2 You are the most excellent of men
     and your lips have been anointed with grace,
     since God has blessed you forever.

6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
     a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
     therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
     by anointing you with the oil of joy.
8 All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
     from palaces adorned with ivory
     the music of the strings makes you glad.
9 Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
     at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.


Commentary
Verses 1-2: The psalmist's tongue was guided by the Spirit of God, as the pen is by the hand of a ready writer. This psalm is touching the King Jesus, his kingdom and government. It is a shame that this good matter is not more the subject of our discourse. There is more in Christ to engage our love, than there is or can be in any creature. This world and its charms are ready to draw away our hearts from Christ; therefore we are concerned to understand how much more worthy he is of our love. By his word, his promise, his gospel, the good will of God is made known to us, and the good work of God is begun and carried on in us.

Verses 6-9: The throne of this almighty King is established for ever. While the Holy Spirit leads Christ's people to look to his cross, he teaches them to see the evil of sin and the beauty of holiness; so that none of them can feel encouragement to continue in sin. The Mediator is God, else he had been neither able to do the Mediator's work, nor fit to wear the Mediator's crown. God the Father, as his God in respect to his human nature and mediatorial offices, has given to him the Holy Spirit without measure. Thus anointed to be a Prophet, Priest, and King, Christ has pre-eminence in the gladdening gifts and graces of the spirit, and from his fullness communicates them to his brethren in human nature. The Spirit is called the oil of gladness, because of the delight wherewith Christ was filled, in carrying on his undertakings. The salvation of sinners is the joy of angels, much more of the Son. And in proportion as we are conformed to his holy image, we may expect the gladdening gifts influences of the Comforter. The excellencies of the Messiah, the suitableness of his offices, and the sufficiency of his grace, seem to be intended by the fragrance of his garments. The church formed of true believers, is here compared to the queen, whom, by an everlasting covenant, the Lord Jesus has betrothed to himself. This is the bride, the Lamb's wife, whose graces are compared to fine linen, for their purity; to gold, for their costliness: for as we owe our redemption, so we owe our adorning, to the precious blood of the Son of God.


From the Epistles
James 1:17-27
Be Doers of the Word


17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Commentary
Verses 17-18: What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; and infinitely more. As every good gift is from God, so particularly our being born again, and all its holy, happy consequences come from him. A true Christian becomes as different a person from what he was before the renewing influences of Divine grace, as if he were formed over again. We should devote all our faculties to God's service, that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.

Verses 19-21: Instead of blaming God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to learn what he teaches by them. And if men would govern their tongues, they must govern their passions. The worst thing we can bring to any dispute, is anger. Here is an exhortation to lay apart, and to cast off as a filthy garment, all sinful practices. This must reach to sins of thought and affection, as well as of speech and practice; to every thing corrupt and sinful. We must yield ourselves to the word of God, with humble and teachable minds. Being willing to hear of our faults, taking it not only patiently, but thankfully. It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who propose any mean or low ends in attending upon it, dishonor the gospel, and disappoint their own souls.

Verses 22-25: If we heard a sermon every day of the week, and an angel from heaven were the preacher, yet, if we rested in hearing only, it would never bring us to heaven. Mere hearers are self-deceivers; and self-deceit will be found the worst deceit at last. If we flatter ourselves, it is our own fault; the truth, as it is in Jesus, flatters no man. Let the word of truth be carefully attended to, and it will set before us the corruption of our nature, the disorders of our hearts and lives; and it will tell us plainly what we are. Our sins are the spots the law discovers: Christ's blood is the laver the gospel shows. But in vain do we hear God's word, and look into the gospel glass, if we go away, and forget our spots, instead of washing them off; and forget our remedy, instead of applying to it. This is the case with those who do not hear the word as they ought. In hearing the word, we look into it for counsel and direction, and when we study it, it turns to our spiritual life. Those who keep in the law and word of God, are, and shall be, blessed in all their ways. His gracious recompense hereafter, would be connected with his present peace and comfort. Every part of Divine revelation has its use, in bringing the sinner to Christ for salvation, and in directing and encouraging him to walk at liberty, by the Spirit of adoption, according to the holy commands of God. And mark the distinctness, it is not for his deeds, that any man is blessed, but in his deed. It is not talking, but walking, that will bring us to heaven. Christ will become more precious to the believer's soul, which by his grace will become more fitted for the inheritance of the saints in light.

Verses 26-27: When men take more pains to seem religious than really to be so, it is a sign their religion is in vain. The not bridling the tongue, readiness to speak of the faults of others, or to lessen their wisdom and piety, are signs of a vain religion. The man who has a slandering tongue, cannot have a truly humble, gracious heart. False religious may be known by their impurity and uncharitableness. True religion teaches us to do every thing as in the presence of God. An unspotted life must go with unfeigned love and charity. Our true religion is equal to the measure in which these things have place in our hearts and conduct. And let us remember, that nothing avails in Christ Jesus, but faith that works by love, purifies the heart, subdues carnal lusts, and obeys God's commands.


Today’s Gospel Reading
Mark 7:1-8,[9-13]14-15,[16-20]21-23
Authentic Religion

GOSPEL OF MARK CHAPTER 7:1-23
1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

[
9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”]

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

[[
16 “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”] 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.] 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”


Commentary
Verses 1-13: One great design of Christ's coming was, to set aside the ceremonial law; and to make way for this, he rejects the ceremonies men added to the law of God's making. Those clean hands and that pure heart which Christ bestows on his disciples, and requires of them, are very different from the outward and superstitious forms of Pharisees of every age. Jesus reproves them for rejecting the commandment of God. It is clear that it is the duty of children, if their parents are poor, to relieve them as far as they are able; and if children deserve to die that curse their parents, much more those that starve them. But if a man conformed to the traditions of the Pharisees, they found a device to free him from the claim of this duty.

Verses 14-23: Our wicked thoughts and affections, words and actions, defile us, and these only. As a corrupt fountain sends forth corrupt streams, so does a corrupt heart send forth corrupt reasonings, corrupt appetites and passions, and all the wicked words and actions that come from them. A spiritual understanding of the law of God, and a sense of the evil of sin, will cause a man to seek for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to keep down the evil thoughts and affections that work within.


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.

Benediction
As Christ has fed and redeemed your life, now go into the world in peace and love offering ministries of hope and justice. Go in peace and may the peace of God always be with you. Amen.

Rituals
The Christian faith is not based on a bunch of old, dusty ideals. Knowing God is not about religion, it is about a relationship.


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.

The Morning Prayer for Sunday, August 29, 2021

 

The Morning Prayer
Sunday, August 29, 2021


Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith… Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so (Hebrews 13:7, 9, NIV).

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we thank you for all you do in our lives, for you stretch out your hand to us on earth through our Savior Jesus Christ. We entrust ourselves to you, knowing that everything depends on your rule over our lives. It is your rule that enables us to go forward in your strength and in your light, always finding new joy in spite of struggles and temptations. May your mighty hand be with those who call to you, no matter how they may do it. You see into their hearts. You know those who are sincere, and you will send your Savior to bring them out of all evil and darkness. Be with us today and every day. Amen.

Verse of the Day for Sunday, August 29, 2021

 

Verse of the Day
Sunday, August 29, 2021

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Paul asserted that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross for all people. We all come to Christ as sinners—with the same level of need for salvation. It is only by faith in His grace that we are redeemed. God does not play favorites after we are saved, either—neither by economic or social status, nor by the role we are called to fulfill (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11). He makes us into a single unit, the body of Christ, and calls us all to serve Him in obedience.