We're so glad you decided to join us for Sunday School today!
This week's hymn was a suggestion I received last week. If you have hymn requests please let me know.
Thanks to Don Hershell for the prayer and Sunday School lesson this week!
When we meet together in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take a few moments to consider what is on your mind right now. There is a lot of uncertainty with what lies ahead — especially with fall coming, the economy on less-than-ideal footing, and schools opening up in different ways. If you would like others to pray for these as well, you can add a comment at the bottom of this post.
Pray the following prayer as together we face the future, knowing that God goes with us.
O God of wisdom, as our children are headed back to school and college to learn anew, help us pass on to them the wisdom that has been given down to us from the generations before us. Help our children as they learn their daily lessons to listen and learn. Help their teachers have the patience and knowledge to teach well. Help them as they learn life’s lessons of dealing with other people around them. Help us as we guide them through those lessons.
We ask for your wisdom to discern your ways and path for our own lives. We ask for your wisdom to discern how to deal with others we meet, live with, work with, shop with, drive our roads with, wait in line with, eat with and be with daily. We ask for your wisdom in the difficult situations we may have to deal with as we go through life.
We ask for your wisdom when voting in the upcoming elections. We ask for your wisdom in dealing with injustices in our world. We ask for wisdom for our leaders in our world, our countries, our states, and our communities. We ask for wisdom for our church leaders, worldwide and local.
We ask for wisdom for our Pastors as they preach your word, inspire, lead and grow us as disciples. We ask for your wisdom as we reach out to those in need in our communities and in our world. We ask for wisdom as we minister to those who are homebound and in nursing homes. We ask for your wisdom as we minister to those in hospitals, in recovery and rehab.
We ask for your wisdom that not only enlightens us but transforms us and guides us in our daily walk with you. Amen
(written by Rev Abi, and posted on Rev Abi’s Long and Winding Road. http://vicarofwadley.blogspot.ca/)
Our scriptures for this week are James 3:13-18 and James 5:7-12.
“Life is a pain, princess.....anyone who says differently is selling something.”
— The Princess Bride
It has been said that all of life is suffering. This idea is not all that shocking, of course. It has been articulated in many contexts around the world. As Christians, we understand that the suffering we experience is a result of sin in general.
Some try to downplay the reality of suffering. But suffering — especially in the form of persecution — is part of the Christian life. In James’s day, the limited scope of Christianity shaped the types of persecution. Today, when Christianity is a global faith, persecution differs from culture to culture. In certain African nations, Muslim populations have severely persecuted Christian neighbors. In other locations, official government policy hinders Christian meetings and the formation of churches.
In the West, the matter is not quite so clear-cut. What constitutes persecution? While we are not being thrown to the lions in the Roman Colosseum or burned at the stake, subtle forms of persecution do exist. These include social ostracism, which is part of the life experience of many Christians. How should we handle this kind of persecution when we encounter it?
At the beginning of our studies in James, we noted a few themes that run throughout the letter. These themes united the disparate topics that James addresses. Wisdom is one such theme. Recall, for example, that at the outset of his letter James encouraged his readers to have perseverance in the midst of temptations or trials (James 1:2-4; lesson 9). This they could do by actively seeking God’s wisdom (James 1:5). In today’s text, James addresses two very different situations, both of which demand wisdom on the part of believers.
I. In Education (James 3:13-18)
A person who is wise and understanding does not necessarily have to be a teacher in the traditional sense. But everyone can show it by the way they conduct themselves in their lives. Their life should be characterized by good deeds done with humility. So, in a way, they are teaching by example and not simply by their words.
Envy and bitterness that leads to boasting does not come from heaven, but it results from an earthly, unspiritual and even demonic sort of “wisdom”. That kind of so-called wisdom leads to disorder and evil practices.
But there is another kind of wisdom — heavenly wisdom — that is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. The goal of that kind of wisdom is peace, which leads to a harvest of righteousness.
Even today, Christians must be resolute and courageous while awaiting the Lord’s coming.
II. In Persecution (James 5:7-12)
In order to best understand James’s directives in this passage, we have to understand that these are in response to the first six verses of chapter 5. A strong argument can be made that verses 1 through 6 are spoken against landlords who are unbelievers. We noticed that they are not called to repent but to “weep and wail” in light of the coming judgment (James 5:1; contrast James 4:7-10).
Such landowners come from the handful of rich outsiders who make life miserable for many of their tenant farmers and/or day laborers. It is unlikely that such landlords ever hear or read these words themselves. Instead, the accusations are written for the benefit of impoverished Christians of Jewish background to whom the letter as a whole is addressed (not the 14 uses of the phrase “brothers and sisters”; James 1:2, 16, 19; 2:1, etc.).
James is writing to believers who have cause to be angry and despondent, Christians who are suffering at the hand of these rich landlords. He points them to the Lord’s coming as the ultimate solution, which requires patient waiting like a farmer who waits for his crop to appear. Just as God can be trusted tp send a harvest in its time, so Jesus can be trusted to return as he promised.
In the meantime, Christians should not grumble against one another because that will put them in danger of being judged as well as their oppressors. We should live our lives as though Christ, the judge, is standing at the door, ready to come at any moment. We should also bear suffering with patience, remembering the prophets as our example. The prophets spoke God’s word to the people, but they also lived our their trust in God in their lives. Above all, they were patient. Even though they were frustrated when the people of Judah and Israel ignored them, they patiently kept preaching.
When we meet in person, we discuss the scripture lesson, especially as it relates to our lives. This can include observations, questions, and connections. Take some time to think about your answers to the questions below, which come from our adult Sunday School book. These questions can be difficult to answer, and don't necessarily have one right answer. If you are reading the lesson with someone else, discuss your thoughts together. You can always share your thoughts and questions as a comment below.
Article: What Ministers Must Know
In the confidence of youth, many preachers and teachers who are fresh out of Bible college or seminary are tempted to trust in their recently acquired knowledge. That was true of me when I first entered ministry. It took some difficult relationships with critical church members to convince me that knowing all the right answers to doctrinal questions wasn’t the sole qualification for having a blessed ministry.
Yet God blessed me with one or more wise elders in every one of those churches. Their years of life had taught them some things about ministry that I had not learned in the classroom. I had knowledge that they didn’t have; but they had wisdom that I didn’t have.
James doesn’t make wisdom and knowledge mutually exclusive. The good teacher will have both. Do you? — C.R.B.
Today’s lesson brings two disparate passages together under one unifying theme: the supremacy of the wisdom from above, and the need for it in a variety of situations. Teachers, then as now, can wreak great spiritual damage through the spoken word among those they teach. Ordinary believers, suffering greatly under economic oppression, negate the gospel and its power by harboring bitterness against fellow Christians. Both circumstances damage Christian witness to others.
The solution is for Christians to seek “the wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17). When armed with it, we can put suffering into a larger perspective and be empowered with perseverance to endure until Jesus returns.
We all face challenges over the course of our lives. The real question is how we will react when those times come. Will we pause to seek wisdom from above? Or will we rely on earthly wisdom in our response?
The need for wisdom from above and perseverance go hand in hand as our discipline and resolve are tested. All this has very real bearing on our spiritual well-being in this life; continual rejection of God’s wisdom has eternal implications. As we heed James’s call to seek wisdom from above, we will experience a harvest of righteousness. Guaranteed.
Heavenly Father, by the power of your Holy Spirit this day, help us to focus our hearts and minds on the wisdom that is from above — your wisdom. We ask this in the name of the wisest person who ever lived: Jesus. Amen.
This week's benediction comes from the Amplified Bible.
Next week we will be starting the fall quarter. The scripture will be Genesis 37:2-11, 23-24, 28.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.