Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, September 19, 2021

“…The man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night is like a tree planted by streams of water…” (Psalm 1:3)

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13—4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Servant of All

Introduction & Theme
This Sunday’s texts speak about a way of seeing and interacting with the world—a way that comes from God. Each text bids us seek this divine perspective in our human lives. Recent scholarship on the Proverbs text links the “good wife” (better translated “woman of strength”) with Woman Wisdom (Proverbs 1–9). Choose as your partner in life, Proverbs advises, the Wisdom of God, for only she can bring you a life of security, honor, and mercy. While the previous chapters of Proverbs have instructed us how to find this partner, Psalm 1 (a Wisdom psalm), puts it all in a nutshell: seek God and meditate on God’s ordering of the world. James continues this look at wisdom, speaking of this gift as something that comes “from above” and bears “good fruits” in our lives. While Proverbs and Psalm 1 speak of the prosperity that wisdom can bring us, Jesus and James remind us that to embrace this divine perspective is to put aside the usual definitions of success and honor.

Opening Prayer
Servant God, humble our hearts and quiet our minds, that we may reflect your servant heart in everything we say and do. Plant your wisdom in our lives, that we might live your teachings and bear fruit at just the right time. With humble hearts, we pray. Amen.

Call to Confession
O God, we live our lives as best we can—dealing with difficult relationships and situations, putting failures and disappointments behind us, and moving into each new day with as much energy, goodwill, and optimism as we can muster. But here, right now, we seldom have the right answers, we seldom seek your higher wisdom in our lives, we just move ahead. Forgive us for not asking for your insight. Fill us with your wisdom, that we may live lives of goodness and peace. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
When we come before God in humility and honesty, God draws near to us with forgiveness and renewed blessing. Thanks be to God!

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
When Peter denied Jesus three times, the enemy was invisibly working behind the scenes to encourage his spiritual failure. We must always remain on the alert to detect the activity of our adversary, so we can resist him and stand firm in the faith (1 Pet. 5:8–11). We must also stay in the center of God’s will so that we will not give the enemy an opportunity to harm us (Eph. 4:17–32).

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Books of Wisdom

Proverbs 31:10-31
The Capable Wife

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
      She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
      and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
      all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
      and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
      bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
      she provides food for her family
      and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
      out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
      her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
      and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
      and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
      and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
      for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
      she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
      where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
      and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
      she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
      and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
      and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
      her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
      but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
      but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
      and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

In the original language this section is an acrostic poem. That is, each of the poem’s twenty-two verses begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.

A good wife makes the perfect partner. Her husband, knowing this, trusts in her and depends upon her (10-12). She is kind, clever at buying and selling, diligent, conscientious, and a good manager of the household (13-16). She is energetic and tireless, both in helping the family income and in carrying out household tasks (17-19). Though a good business-woman, she is not hard-hearted. Though careful in handling money, she is not miserly. She gives generous help to the poor and needy (20).

In like manner this ideal wife is generous towards her family. When making clothes she uses good cloth, so that all in her household look well dressed and, through her foresight, enjoy good protection when bad weather comes. The respect that people have for her husband is due in large measure to her (21-25). Through her wise words, kindness, consideration, diligence and reverence for God, the family is uplifted. Her children and her husband delight in her and the community at large honors her (26-31).

From the Psalter
Psalm 1
Delight in God’s Law

1 Blessed is the one
     who does not walk in step with the wicked
  or stand in the way that sinners take
     or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
     and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
     which yields its fruit in season
  and whose leaf does not wither—
     whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
     They are like chaff
     that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
     nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
     but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Verses 1-3: To meditate in God's word, is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with close application of mind and fixedness of thought. We must have constant regard to the word of God, as the rule of our actions, and the spring of our comforts; and have it in our thoughts night and day. For this purpose no time is amiss.

Verses 4-6: The ungodly are the reverse of the righteous, both in character and condition. The ungodly are not so, ver. 4; they are led by the counsel of the wicked, in the way of sinners, to the seat of the scornful; they have no delight in the law of God; they bring forth no fruit but what is evil. The righteous are like useful, fruitful trees: the ungodly are like the chaff which the wind drives away: the dust which the owner of the floor desires to have driven away, as not being of any use. They are of no worth in God's account, how highly soever they may value themselves. They are easily driven to and fro by every wind of temptation. The chaff may be, for a while, among the wheat, but He is coming, whose fan is in his hand, and who will thoroughly purge his floor. Those that, by their own sin and folly, make themselves as chaff, will be found so before the whirlwind and fire of Divine wrath. The doom of the ungodly is fixed, but whenever the sinner becomes sensible of this guilt and misery, he may be admitted into the company of the righteous by Christ the living way, and become in Christ a new creature. He has new desires, new pleasures, hopes, fears, sorrows, companions, and employments. His thoughts, words, and actions are changed. He enters on a new state, and bears a new character. Behold, all things are become new by Divine grace, which changes his soul into the image of the Redeemer. How different the character and end of the ungodly.

From the Epistles
James 3:13—4:3, 7-8a
The Wisdom from Above

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Verses 3:13-18: These verses show the difference between men's pretending to be wise, and their being really so. He who thinks well, or he who talks well, is not wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he does not live and act well. True wisdom may be know by the meekness of the spirit and temper. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such wisdom comes not down from above, but springs up from earthly principles, acts on earthly motives, and is intent on serving earthly purposes. Those who are lifted up with such wisdom, described by the apostle James, is near to the Christian love, described by the apostle Paul; and both are so described that every man may fully prove the reality of his attainments in them. It has no disguise or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere, and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself. May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy shown in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this excellent gift.

Verses 4:1-8: Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received, by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world. Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled, but "enmity" never can be reconciled. A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up, or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us, as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy! God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have it. Submit to God, ver. James 4:7. Submit your understanding to the truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armor of God, and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek his grace and favor; resisting the devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.

Today’s Gospel Reading
Mark 9:30-37
Prediction of the Passion

Mark 9:30-37

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The time of Christ's suffering drew nigh. Had he been delivered into the hands of devils, and they had done this, it had not been so strange; but that men should thus shamefully treat the Son of man, who came to redeem and save them, is wonderful. Still observe that when Christ spake of his death, he always spake of his resurrection, which took the reproach of it from himself, and should have taken the grief of it from his disciples. Many remain ignorant because they are ashamed to inquire. Alas! that while the Savior teaches so plainly the things which belong to his love and grace, men are so blinded that they understand not his sayings. We shall be called to account about our discourses, and to account for our disputes, especially about being greater than others. Those who are most humble and self-denying, most resemble Christ, and shall be most tenderly owned by him. This Jesus taught them by a sign; whoever shall receive one like this child, receives me.

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.

We are planted by the streams of God’s wisdom. We meditate on the desires of God, taking delight in the laws of God. Sink your roots deep into the soil, and draw on God’s wisdom. For God will nourish us every day with insight. Go forth, knowing that God watches over you.

Psalm 1:3
“…The man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night is like a tree planted by streams of water…”

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. 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, September 19, 2021


The Morning Prayer
Sunday, September 19, 2021

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:4–6, NIV).

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the light you let shine on earth to gladden our hearts. Your light shows us how to live in your creation with open eyes and open hearts, accepting in a childlike way all the good gifts from your hand. How much good you send to many sorrowful hearts, and how much strengthening to those in weakness, poverty, and sickness! Grant that we may recognize what comes from you, that we are not cast down in spirit but mount up again and again on wings like eagles. May we learn to say at all times, "Through how much need has not our merciful God spread out his wings to protect us!" Amen.

Verse of the Day for Sunday, September 19, 2021


Verse of the Day
Sunday, September 19, 2021

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
When Peter denied Jesus three times, the enemy was invisibly working behind the scenes to encourage his spiritual failure. We must always remain on the alert to detect the activity of our adversary, so we can resist him and stand firm in the faith (1 Pet. 5:8–11). We must also stay in the center of God’s will so that we will not give the enemy an opportunity to harm us (Eph. 4:17–32).