31 August 2016
Theme: Spirit Divine
Reading: Jeremiah 2:4-13
Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? They did not say, "Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?" I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, "Where is the Lord?" Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit. Therefore once more I accuse you, says the Lord, and I accuse your children's children. Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has ever been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.
We are followers of Christ, not because we come to Church every Sunday and/or participate in different Church activities but rather because we have put our faith in Jesus. Following Jesus should not be based on mere words; but rather on living a life filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Being a Christian implies that we live, walk, talk, act and love like Jesus Christ would do; according to Scripture ‘by their fruits you shall know them’. Evidence that we are followers of Jesus should not be hard to find in our lives- humility, compassion, patience, kindness, joy, love, contentment, and other such fruit of the Spirit. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it will be impossible to wholly follow the Lord.
1. What does it mean to follow Jesus?
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
2. What are the lessons for us in Luke 14:1, 7-14 regarding following Jesus?
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
3. What are some of the challenges to wholly following Jesus? How do we overcome them?
Psalm 81:1, 10-16
REFRAIN Sing with joy to God our strength.
Sing with joy to God our strength and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." R
And yet my people did not hear my voice, and Israel would not obey me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their hearts, to follow their own devices. R
Oh, that my people would listen to me! that Israel would walk in my ways! I should soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. R
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last for ever. But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat and satisfy him with honey from the rock. R
2 Corinthians 1:3-11
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Following Jesus should not be based on mere words; but rather on living a life filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Closing Prayer (Collect for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost)
Author and Giver of all good things, graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us in all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.