Sermon for 17th Sunday following Pentecost – 09-19-2021

Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8; Mark 9:30-37

From Proverbs this morning, and all of her gifts and talents are noted. King Lemuel was taught by his mother, who was apparently a very good teacher. She taught him: “Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings!”

She women play multiple roles in a successful family relationship. She gives what I think is a composite picture of the ideal wife and mother. The woman here is equally active in house and business deals, which makes more sense in today’s times than in Lemuel’s day. She seems to say that only women should teach, as they are good at organizing tasks and completing them in a timely manner. I don’t care if there are more teachers that are women, as we also need men who teach to balance that which is being taught. This scripture is about family relationships with God. In this area, I think that both fathers and mothers ought to be teaching this concept, and many do, whether they know it or not. By not setting aside time to teach this subject within the family, you are saying it is not worthy of being taught! If you treat people differently at home than you do at church, you are teaching a lesson, and not one found in our Bibles. If you talk differently at home or at work than at home, you are teaching another lesson not found in our Bibles. This lesson this morning in intended to make us think of what we are teaching on purpose, and those that we teach without thinking. Jesus tells us to love all as we have been loved. Is this what you are teaching in words and deeds?

Moving on to Psalm 1, let me refresh your hearing of verses 1-2: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is the the law or Scripture he meditates day and night.” Verse six says: “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

God’s people are marked by a consciousness of God which pervades all of life, not just a part of our lives. God’s ways are a source of encouragement, guidance and moral strength for us. We experience a delightful life when we are so closely related to Him that we find pleasure in habitual, daily study of God’s revelation, His Word. We have a choice beloved, for those who read His Word for understanding and guidance become imperishable and know His forgiveness of our sins, while those who do not, place themselves in the path of death and sin, for we are to be held accountable for to Himself.

In James we have a strong lesson to learn. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Always remember that Satan runs from strong resistance and that he is a liar and a coward. Satan can not make you do anything, for we can resist him if we choose with God’s help to do so.

James gives us a very clear indication why some prayers and not answered. The object of the prayer would not glorify God or advance His kingdom. So do not pray as the world prays, for effective prayer depends on purity of life and singleness of motive. We must submit ourselves to His purposes, trusting in Him and being obedient to His ways.

In closing with Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is asked by His disciples why they could not heal some people. His response was: “This kind can only come out only by prayer.” He was referring to a man possessed by an evil spirit. And then they continued for Jesus was teaching His disciples, that only God can command a spirit to come out of someone. He further taught them of his messianic role of suffering, that He would be betrayed, killed and after three day be resurrected; it was the final blow to Satan that Jesus had power over life and death, and he no longer had any power.

Not much of Jesus’ teachings had any real impact on His disciples until after His death on the cross, and then His resurrection three days afterward. Pride disrupts relationships between people. It also hinders the relationship between people and God. When pride is cast aside for attitudes of childlike humility, these relationships can stand. In Christ’s kingdom the attitude of he faithful, obedient servant replaces that of the egotistical, self-seeking people. Greatness in the kingdom is judged by how we receive the weak and powerless, especially when they can do nothing for us! We are to live in God’s kingdom now as we show God’s love to those who do not know love. When we seek to build a kingdom of power for ourselves, we have forsaken God’s only way. Amen

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