September 19th, 2021 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF: Sept 20th – Sept 27th
Mon – Wed:…………. Pastor at Doxology (Mon Afternoon – Wed Morning)
Monday: ……………… 6:00pm Women’s Group
Wednesday………….. 5:30pm Confirmation
Thursday: ……………… 10:00am Bible Study
Sunday: …………………. 10:00am Worship
11:00am Bible Study
PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION
The creeds that we say every week have their three-article structure with each article confessing a person of the Trinity. But also when confessing that person they confess a particular action most associated with the person. The Father is the Creator. The Son is the Savior. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. Out of that basic structure grew the classic outline of theology. The first locus would be The Doctrine of God. In many individual theologies that doctrine starts out with the god of classical theism, the god of the Philosophers. If you have met this god it is probably in the list of divine attributes: unity, simplicity, immutability, omnipresent, eternal and so on. But that god never revealed himself. Much of that is confirmed in revelation, but it remains largely speculation of an unknown god. The Father revealed himself. He revealed himself in the work of creation. He eventually reveals himself most fully in Jesus. The God we can know and love is the revealed God.
The second doctrine is typically the doctrine of Man. What is man? What does it mean that God has become man or a man? With what type of nature did God create us? Small questions. Eventually the theology has to answer and not just pose questions. If you are Descartes you say that man is two-fold – a mind and the body. I think, therefore I am. And that is how most of our world continues to thing about man leading to such things a the “mind-body” problem or the problem of consciousness. How does the mind interact with the body? How does the material body produce the mind? Why do separate minds appear to share the same material universe? (That’s The Matrix problem. How do you know that the entire world is not just a projection fed your individual mind?) Not that Christian Theology has never delved into those things, but Christian Theology has tended to see man not as dual but in three parts. The emotions and base desires with the seat of the gut. The rational mind with its seat of the head. And joining these is the will with its seat of the heart. Ignoring, or maybe I should just say accepting naïve reality, Christian Theology, especially Reformation Theology, has stressed that it is our will, our hearts, that are wrong. It is not just that we desire, gut level, the wrong things, but that we then tend to translate that desire into active will. And we turn our reason into self-justification. I have taken x, because I wanted x, so brain explain why this is good, right and salutary when it is not.
This is what James picks up this in this week’s Epistle reading (James 3:13-4:10). “If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.” Our reason would do exactly that. It will deny the truth and boast about other reasons, to cover actions of jealousy and ambition. The world is status market full of pushing and grabbing, and if you don’t promote yourself, nobody else will. But James insists that wisdom is in works of meekness. We will the wrong things. “Is it not your passion at war within you? (James 4:1)” that produce our quarrels. Our envy of things we think should be ours and yet aren’t leads to murder or simply hatred of the one who has. Why don’t we have? God wishes to give us the bounty of his providence. “We ask wrongly, to spend it on our passions.” We take God’s good and perfect gifts and use them to further our quarrels. We take the gifts of God to make peace with the world or to buy our way in it. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4)?” And so God, if he is merciful, spares us this by not giving us what we ask. James is pointing why we do not have and all the ways our hearts – our wills – have gone wrong.
At the end he returns to the thought, or maybe question at this point, if God wants to give us the gifts of his grace, how does grace work? “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).” God’s greatest gifts are not things we strive after, but things he gives away. The way of the Kingdom is not the way of the world. Yes, if you are in the world, you better run your own PR. If you are of the Kingdom, “humble yourselves before the LORD, and he will exalt you (James 4:10).” The doctrine of man? Fallen, but redeemed. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, but restore unto me the joy of Your salvation. Seek first the Kingdom, and all these things shall be given unto you. Lord so move our hearts toward your good fruits (James 3:17) and friendship with your Son.
- Thurs 10am: 1 John, Darkness and Light, The Antichrist, Children of God, Love one another, good time to join!
- Confirmation: Covered the Intro, be prepared for the First Commandment
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): This Thursday, Fruits of the Spirit: Gentleness
- Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
- Catechism Moment: Baptism continues in your inbox
6 PM Monday here at church. Dinner and fellowship. All invited. (They might have an actual agenda also.)
An internet friend is gathering a survey of LCMS Lutherans for a Grad School project. It takes about 15 mins and asks some questions about your religious upbringing and the current LCMS. If you would like to take his survey it can be found at https://t.co/EcKTWk3pxF?amp=1