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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fervent Prayer

30 September 2015

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Thine for ever! God of love

Theme: Spirit of Life

Topic: Fervent Prayer

Reading: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22
So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’ 3Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have won your favour, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. 4For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.’ 5Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?’ 6Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. 9Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, ‘Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.’ And the king said, ‘Hang him on that.’ 10So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated. 20 Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far,21enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, 22as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.

One of the crucial roles of the Holy Spirit in our lives is in the ministry of prayer.  Prayer is not only a time to talk to God but also to listen to Him.  Prayer comes in different forms, and there really is no right or wrong way to pray, as far as communication with God takes place.  We pray when we are in trouble and out of trouble, in pain or in bliss, in good times and in bad times.  However, there are times we neither know what to say in our prayer to God nor how to say it.  At such times we should remember that the Holy Spirit, who knows the mind of the Lord, is present with us and intercedes on our behalf.  Esther and the rest of the Jews cried out to God for deliverance from Haman, who wanted to wipe out the Jews, and the Lord delivered them.  We too should call upon the Lord in our time of need, and He will answer and deliver us.  When we do not know what to pray, the Holy Spirit is with us to help us.

1) What is prayer? 
1 Kings 16:29-33, 17:1, 18:1, 41-45
In the thirty-eighth year of King Asa of Judah, Ahab son of Omri began to reign over Israel; Ahab son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty-two years. 30Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him. 31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33Ahab also made a sacred pole. Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him.
17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As theLord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.’
18: 1, 41-45 After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, ‘Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.’ 41 Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.’ 42So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. 43He said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look towards the sea.’ He went up and looked, and said, ‘There is nothing.’ Then he said, ‘Go again seven times.’ 44At the seventh time he said, ‘Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.’ Then he said, ‘Go and say to Ahab, “Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”  45In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel.

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

James 5:13-20
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. 19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

2) What are the lessons for us in Mark 9:38-50 regarding persistent prayer?
Mark 9: 38-50
John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’39But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me.40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. 42 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.,47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. 49 ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

Esther 3:8-11, 4:1, 15-17
Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, ‘There is a certain people scattered and separated among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not appropriate for the king to tolerate them. 9If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, so that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.’ 10So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11The king said to Haman, ‘The money is given to you, and the people as well, to do with them as it seems good to you.’
4:1, 15-17 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; 15Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16‘Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.’ 17Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

3. How does the Holy Spirit help us in our prayer lives?
Psalm 124:1-8
1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—
2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 
6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken, and we have escaped. 
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Romans 8:22-30
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Ephesians 6:10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. 


We should call upon the Lord in our time of need, and He will answer and deliver us.  When we do not know what to pray, the Holy Spirit is with us to help us.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered by your Holy Spirit into one, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spirit of Wisdom

23 September 2015

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Now the Day is Over

Theme: Spirit of Life

Topic: Spirit of Wisdom

Reading: Proverbs 31:10-31
10 A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 
12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 
13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 
14 She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away. 
15 She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls. 
16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 
17 She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. 
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 
19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 
20 She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. 
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson. 
22 She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 
23 Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land. 
24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes. 
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 
28 Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her: 
29 ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ 
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.

Wisdom is a word that evokes several related and unrelated impressions: sage, all-knowing, powerful, knowledgeable, smart, discerning, experienced and so on.  However, true wisdom according to Scripture begins with the fear of God.  Fear of God does not imply dread that if we disobey Him, He will rain down fire and brimstone to destroy us.  Rather it is to have deep love and reverence for the Lord our Maker in response to His immeasurable love for us.  As children of the Most High, our fear of the Lord should be based on love for God and our neighbours, and a willingness to seek and please Him.  Wisdom from above, as demonstrated in the woman depicted in Proverbs 31, is backed by good decisions, assuming one’s responsibilities, and living an exemplary life.  True wisdom comes only through the power of the Holy Spirit, and enables us to truly live as salt and light of the world.


1) How will you describe ‘true wisdom’?  
Psalm 111:1-10
1 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
   in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
   studied by all who delight in them. 
3 Full of honour and majesty is his work,
   and his righteousness endures for ever. 
4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
   the Lord is gracious and merciful. 
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
   he is ever mindful of his covenant. 
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
   in giving them the heritage of the nations. 
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
   all his precepts are trustworthy. 
8 They are established for ever and ever,
   to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
9 He sent redemption to his people;
   he has commanded his covenant for ever.
   Holy and awesome is his name. 
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
   all those who practise it have a good understanding.
   His praise endures for ever.

Matthew 7:24-29
‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’ 28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. 

James 3:13-18, 4:3, 7-8A
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. 
2) What are the lessons for us in Mark 9:30-37 regarding wisdom that comes from above?
Mark 9:30-37
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. 33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent 

3. How does the Holy Spirit enable us to live and be guided by true wisdom?
Psalm 1:1-6
1      Happy are they who have not walked
        in the counsel of the wicked, *
                       nor lingered in the way of sinners,
                       nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
2     Their delight is in the law of the Lord, *
                       and they meditate on his law day and night.
3      They are like trees planted by streams of water,
        bearing fruit in due season,
        with leaves that do not wither; *
                       everything they do shall prosper.
4     It is not so with the wicked; *
                       they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
5     Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright
        when judgement comes, *
                       nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
6     For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, *
                       but the way of the wicked is doomed.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ 20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

Ephesians 1:15-23
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.


True wisdom comes only through the power of the Holy Spirit, and enables us to truly live as the salt and light of the world.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth, and ourselves in your image. Teach us to discern your hand in all your works and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A look at the tongue

16 September 2015
Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Abide with me
Theme: Spirit of Life

Topic: A Look at the Tongue
Reading: James 3:1-12
The tongue, although small, is a powerful part of our body.  There are several sayings in Scripture that allude to the power of the tongue, e.g.‘…it is not what goes into the mouth that kills but what comes out.’  It is with the same tongue that we praise God and bless people that we also curse and proclaim profanities.  As Christians, this should not be the case.  In the Book of James, we are encouraged to apply strict control of our tongues.  This is as difficult as other aspects of Christian living and may likely be the most difficult.  However, with the power of the Holy Spirit we will have control over what we say, as well as why, how and when we say it.  Gossiping, boasting, profane talk, quarrelling, cursing and any kind of speech that is not worthy of our calling should not be part of our lives.  Having control over the tongue is one of the proofs that we are controlled by the Holy Spirit.


1. Why is the tongue described as a powerful part of the body?  Matthew 12:31-37; Matthew 15:1-20; James 3:2-10.
2. Should we be mindful of what we say about people and what people say about us?  Mark 8:27-38.
3. Discuss ways we can control our tongues.  Psalm 19:1-14; Proverbs 4:1-5, 20-27; James 1:21-27.

With the power of the Holy Spirit we will have control over what we say, as well as why, how and when we say it.  Having control over the tongue is one of the proofs that we are controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Closing Prayer (Collect for Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost)
Almighty God, you call your Church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you. Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may turn to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

True of Heart

9 September 2015

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: All glory, laud and honour

Theme: Spirit of Life

Topic: True of Heart

Reading: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
   and favour is better than silver or gold. 
2 The rich and the poor have this in common:
   the Lord is the maker of them all. 
8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
   and the rod of anger will fail. 
9 Those who are generous are blessed,
   for they share their bread with the poor. 
22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
   or crush the afflicted at the gate; 
23 for the Lord pleads their cause
   and despoils of life those who despoil them.

In our previous studies, we discussed the importance of having the right motive in making decisions.  Continuing on the same discussion, today we will be looking into the role our hearts play in Christian living.  The heart is generally connected with health, as it is vital for a healthy normal living.  The heart is also linked to good/positive and bad/negative emotions.  For example, people that are generous are generally described as having a ‘large heart’.  To be true or pure of heart is a powerful and necessary attribute to have as a Christian.  This quality comes through a willingness to love and to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  True of heart does not mean being perfect, flawless and so on, but implies that the individual does not harbour ulterior motives in his or her dealings.  As Christians, we are called to be the light and salt of the world.  This requires, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that we are true of heart in our dealings with God, our community and the people in our lives.

How will you describe the phrase ‘true of heart’? 
Psalm 125:1-5
Refrain: Those who trust in the Lord stand fast for ever.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.  The hills stand about Jerusalem; so does the Lord stand round about his people, from this time forth for evermore. R  The sceptre of the wicked shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the just, so that the just shall not put their hands to evil. R Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good and to those who are true of heart. As for those who turn aside to crooked ways, the Lord will lead them away with the evildoers; but peace be upon Israel. R

Matthew 5:8, 13-16, 42-48
 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 6:1-8
‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

What are the lessons for us in Mark 7:24-37 regarding being true of heart?
Mark 7:24-37
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesusordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

3. Discuss some of the factors that influence our ability to be true of heart.
Jeremiah 17:5-10
5 Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
   and make mere flesh their strength,
   whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
6 They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
   and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
   in an uninhabited salt land. 
7 Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
   whose trust is the Lord.
8 They shall be like a tree planted by water,
   sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
   and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
   and it does not cease to bear fruit. 
9 The heart is devious above all else;
   it is perverse—
   who can understand it?
10 I the Lord test the mind
   and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
   according to the fruit of their doings. 

Luke 6:41-49
Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42Or how can you say to your neighbour,“Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye. 43 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. 46 ‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you? 47I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’ 

James 2:1-10, 14-17
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? 8 You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.


As Christians, we are called to be the light and salt of the world.  This requires, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that we are true of heart in our dealings with God, our community and the people in our lives. 

Closing Prayer (Collect for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people, that richly bearing the fruit of good works, we may by you be richly rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.