Sunday 19th September 2021

(Please note the intimation on the website front page.)

Welcome to our online worship service today 19th September 2021, for the congregations of Craigmillar Park Church, Reid Memorial Church and any friends who wish to join us.

In the reading from the book according to James we’ll hear that there are two different wisdoms trying to control our lives, one originates from Heaven above and the other is an earthly unspiritual wisdom.

Call to Worship

As children of God, who strive to live in God’s Way,
we gather together today.
As people seeking to follow the path ofwisdom,we gather together today.
As people trusting that God flows around and through us, giving uswisdom, 
we gather together today.

HYMN CH4 132 Immortal, invisible, God only wise.

Prayer of Approach

God of wisdom,
Whose knowledge is too wonderful for us,
Who created the world and all that it contains,
Who knows each blade of grass and hair upon our head,
We offer You praise for Your infinite love for us and our world.

God of parables,
we give You thanks for Jesus,
who brings Your wisdom to us through parables and stories,
through love and action,
through prayer and sacrifice.
We thank You that even when we are not wise enough to grasp Your message,
Your love for us never falters
and Your patience with us is unceasing.

God of inspiration,
encourage us in our journey with You,
inspire us to live for Your kingdom,
seeking Your wisdom in all we say and do.

Merciful God,
we confess that we think we know what is best.
We go our own way instead of Yours.
We fill our needs before the needs of others.
We speak to suit our mind instead of Your will.
We take without question and use without thought.

Forgive us for relying on our own wisdom instead of Yours.
Forgive us for the times we have ignored injustices.
Forgive us for when our words cut and hurt and harm
instead of offering encouragement, healing, and renewal.

Amend what we are,
direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in Your wisdom
and walk in Your ways,
To the glory of Your holy name.
Through Christ our Lord, in whose words we share
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name, 
thy kingdom come, 
thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, 
and the power, and the glory, 
for ever and ever. Amen.

Scriptures:

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Two Kinds of Wisdom

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But 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. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Friendship with the World

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so, you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so, you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded

Proverbs 31:10-31

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

HYMN CH4 97 O God, You search Me and You Know Me

Reflection:

Two Wolves
A Cherokee elder sitting with his grandchildren told them, “In every life there is a terrible fight – a fight between two wolves.  One is good: he exhibits joy, serenity, humility, confidence, generosity, truth, gentleness, and compassion. The other is evil: he is fear, anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and deceit.” One of the child asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” The elder looked him in the eye. “The one you feed.”

Have you ever known anyone who claims to be wise but acts foolishly. True wisdom can be measured by the depth of a person’s character. Just as you can identify a tree by the fruit that it bears, you can evaluate wisdom by the way that you act. Foolishness leads to disorder, but wisdom leads to peace and goodness. Are you tempted to escalate a conflict, pass on gossip, or fan the fire of discord? Careful speech and wise loving words are the seeds of peace. God loves peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)

Many today are in the pursuit of wisdom. They desire to be able to make the right decisions that will affect their lives in a positive manner. They understand a key ingredient to have in their lives is this thing called wisdom.

What is wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to look at a situation and pick the correct way to handle it. Wisdom is what is true and right combined with good judgment. It is discerning, prudent, and sensible. Not very glamorous words perhaps, but words you can build a life on. Wise decisions put us in a position where we will reap rewards.

But James tells us there is a problem with which wisdom you listen to and adhere to. Do you listen to wisdom from above which originates with God? The wisdom from below: the earthly or unspiritual type is generated by the forces and influences of the world. This wisdom can lead to disorder, evil practice and may follow a path of destruction.

To make sure we are being influenced by the right kind of wisdom we need to discover which wisdom is controlling our lives. One produces a life filled with eternal blessings, the other breeds a life filled with everlasting disarray. One will set you free, the other will cause you to struggle. One will give our lives ultimate satisfaction while the other will bring discontentment and have no meaning.

It’s easy for us to be drawn into wrong desires by the pressures of society and sometimes even by well-meaning Christians. By listening to the advice “Assert yourself”, “Go for it”, “Set high goals”, we can be drawn into greed and destructive competition. Seeking God’s wisdom delivers us from the need to compare ourselves to others and want what they have.

Quarrels and fights among believers are always harmful. James explains that these conflicts result from evil desires battling with us; we want more possessions, more money, higher status, and more recognition. When we don’t get what we want, we fight in order to have it. Instead of aggressively grabbing what we want, we should submit ourselves to God to help us to rid us of our selfish desires and trust him to give us what we really need.

James mentions the most common problem in prayer; not asking for the wrong things but asking for the wrong reasons. Do we ask only to satisfy our desires? Do we ask God’s approval for what we already plan to do? Our prayers become powerful when we allow God to change our desires so that they perfectly correspond to his will for us.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a pleasurable life. God gives us good gifts that he wants us to enjoy. Our pleasure should not come at the expense of others. Pleasure from God’s rich bounty is good.

The introduction in Proverbs is written in the warm tones of a fatherly voice giving instructions to his sons and eloquently building a case for the lifelong pursuit of wisdom. Proverbs open telling us that wisdom is the key to a successful life and we need to make sure we pursue it with our whole heart. So, let’s look at what James has to say about wisdom from above and wisdom from below.

The wisdom from above has a heart that is pure, that is full of the love and mercy of God and uncontaminated by the philosophy of the world. The reality is wisdom only starts with a relationship with the Lord.

The wisdom from below has a heart which is contaminated. It is full of selfish ambition and envy. It is centred on self and not God. Some will give themselves lavishly, freely, and richly to all sorts of people, activities, achievements, and responsibilities. They will devote their time, energy, creativity and attention to education, work, friends, families, and pleasure. But they forget about God.

Wisdom from above acknowledges the truth, but wisdom from below entangles people in the web of deception, often deceiving themselves and their motivation.

“Wisdom from Above” is based on a lifestyle that brings fulfilment. A lifestyle that is peaceable and knows the value of creating harmony. It is gentle and considerate, tempering justice with mercy. It means being reasonable or submissive, willing to listen, willing to be persuaded, and skilled in knowing when to wisely yield. This lifestyle is full of mercy and the ability to care and reach out to others through acts of kindness and selfishness. It’s the ability of being calm in the storms and being stable in turmoil. There is a lack of hypocrisy

A lifestyle based on “wisdom from below” will cause mayhem and disarray. The value of spiritual order will be missing. The main focus will be on the pursuit of self. “Win at all costs”, “I will have the last word”, It’s all about me! “What’s in it for me?” There will be a pursuit of pleasure to the sacrifice of others and a lack of control over impulses. This mind set is one that is based on the value of: “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us.” There will be no mercy or empathy shown for others misfortune. There will be a belief that they are better than others and an attitude of: “I will make you look bad and have me look good”. This lifestyle will cause people to be pushed out of the way. Perhaps when goals are achieved there will be a realization that they are meaningless.

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about women, but in today’s society, many of the traits also apply to men. This woman should be a model for all people not just women. The book ends with a picture of a strong character of great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion. Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, servile and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is a manufacturer, importer, manager, estate agent, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her achievements but from her reverence with God. In our society, physical appearance count for so much, so it might surprise us that her appearance is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes from her character and actions. She has outstanding abilities. She may be a composite portrait of ideal womanhood. We should see her as an inspiration to be the best that we can be. We can learn from her industry, integrity, and resourcefulness.

Throughout the passage, many good qualities are mentioned; hard working, respect, foresight, encouragement, caring, and of course, wisdom. These qualities, coupled with our relationship with God, lead to enjoyment, success, honour and worth. It is practical for us in today’s society and shows us how to become wise, make good decisions and live according to God’s ideals.

Which wolf will you feed? One brings satisfaction and blessing and a life in order, the other brings mayhem and disarray. The choice is ours!

Prayer of Intercession:

God of heaven and earth,
through Jesus Christ You promise to hear us when we pray to You in His name.
Confident in Your love and mercy, we offer our prayers.
Empower the church throughout the world in its life and witness.
Break down the barriers that divide,
that we might be united in Your truth and love,
so that the church may confess Your name,
and serve You in one common ministry.

Guide the rulers of the nations.
Move them to set aside their fear, greed, and vain ambition,
and bow to Your sovereign rule.
Inspire them to strive for peace and justice,
that all Your children may dwell secure, free of war and injustice.

Hear the cries of the world’s hungry and suffering.
Give us, who consume most of the earth’s resources, the will to reorder our lives,
that all may have their rightful share of the food, medical care, and shelter,
and so have the necessities of a life of dignity.

Renew our nation in the ways of justice and peace.
Guide those who make and administer our laws
to build a society based on wisdom, trust and respect.
Erase prejudices that oppress; free us from crime and violence;
guard our youth from the perils of drugs and materialism.
Give all citizens a new vision of a life of harmony.

Strengthen this congregation in its work and worship.
Fill our hearts with Your joy and love,
Look with compassion on all who suffer.
Support with Your love
those with incurable and stigmatised diseases,
those unjustly imprisoned,
those denied dignity,
those who live without hope,
those who are homeless or abandoned.

Sustain those among us who need your healing touch.
Make the sick whole.
Give hope to the dying
Comfort those who mourn
Uphold all who suffer in body or mind,
that they may know the peace and joy of Your supporting care.

God of wisdom,
answer our prayers and fulfil our hopes.
In all things for which we pray,
give us the will to seek to bring them about,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, Amen.

HYMN CH4 485 Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

Closing prayer:

Help us to know the limits of our humanness
and the frailty of our will
that we may learn to lean on the limitlessness of God,
May we be wise enough to trust not only our own wisdom,
but the wisdom of God, AMEN

Sung Amen

Choir of Craigmillar Park Church

Acknowledgements:
Bible Quotations taken from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

English translations of The Lord’s Prayer, © 1998, English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), and used by permission. www.englishtexts.org

Prayers based on resources from Church of Scotland Weekly Worship