DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 12/19/18

Wednesday, 3rd Week of Advent

Opening Prayer

Oh Lord, open my lips
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. (Ps. 51:15)

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Almighty God,
you send your Son into a world
where the wheat must be winnowed from chaff
and wickedness clings even to what is good.
Let the fire of your Spirit purge us of greed and deceit,
so that, purified, we may find our peace in you
and you may delight in us.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near,
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 50

God Himself Is Judge
A Psalm of Asaph.

50:1 The Mighty One, God the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines forth.

Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
    before him is a devouring fire,
    around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above
    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
    for God himself is judge! Selah

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
    O Israel, I will testify against you.
    I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
    your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
    or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
    the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
    for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
    “What right have you to recite my statutes
    or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
    and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
    and you keep company with adulterers.
19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
    and your tongue frames deceit.

20 You sit and speak against your brother;
    you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
    you thought that I[c was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!”

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Almighty God,
because Jesus your servant became obedient to death,
his sacrifice was greater than all the sacrifices of old.
Accept our offering of praise,
and help us to do your will,
until our whole life becomes worship in spirit and truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Psalm of Praise, Psalm 147:1-11

He Heals the Brokenhearted

147:1 Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
    for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;[b
    he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
    he prepares rain for the earth;
    he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
    and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Loving God,
great builder of the heavenly Jerusalem,
you know the number of the stars
and call them by name.
Heal hearts that are broken,
gather those who have been scattered,
and enrich us all from the fullness of your eternal wisdom,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Old Testament Reading, Isaiah 11:10-16

11:10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

12 He will raise a signal for the nations
    and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
    from the four corners of the earth.
13 The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
    and those who harass Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
    and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
14 But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west,
    and together they shall plunder the people of the east.
They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab,
    and the Ammonites shall obey them.
15 And the Lord will utterly destroy
    the tongue of the Sea of Egypt,
and will wave his hand over the River
    with his scorching breath,[d
and strike it into seven channels,
    and he will lead people across in sandals.
16 And there will be a highway from Assyria
    for the remnant that remains of his people,
as there was for Israel
    when they came up from the land of Egypt.

Epistle Reading, Revelation 20:1-10

The Thousand Years

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

The Defeat of Satan

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prisonand will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Gospel Reading, John 5:30-47

Witnesses to Jesus

5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

“When Christ Comes, God Will be Seen by Men”
from Against Heresies by
Irenaeus (2nd Century)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

There is one God, who by his word and wisdom created all things and set them in order. His Word is our Lord Jesus Christ, who in this last age became man among men to unite end and beginning, that is, man and God.

The prophets, receiving the gift of prophecy from this same Word, foretold his coming in the flesh, which brought about the union and communion between God and man ordained by the Father. From the beginning the word of God prophesied that God would be seen by men and would live among them on earth; he would speak with his own creation and be present to it, bringing it salvation and being visible to it. He would free us from the hands of all who hate us, that is, from the universal spirit of sin, and enable us to serve him in holiness and justice all our days. Man was to receive the Spirit of God and so attain to the glory of the Father.

The prophets, then, foretold that God would be seen by men. As the Lord himself says: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. In his greatness and inexpressible glory no one can see God and live, for the Father is beyond our comprehension. But in his love and generosity and omnipotence he allows even this to those who love him, that is, even to see God, as the prophets foretold. For what is impossible to men is possible to God. 

By his own powers man cannot see God, yet God will be seen by men because he wills it. He will be seen by those he chooses, at the time he chooses, and in the way he chooses, for God can do all things. He was seen of old through the Spirit in prophecy; he is seen through the Son by our adoption as his children, and he will be seen in the kingdom of heaven in his own being as the Father. The Spirit prepares man to receive the Son of God, the Son leads him to the Father, and the Father, freeing him from change and decay, bestows the eternal life that comes to everyone from seeing God.

As those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those who see God are in God sharing his glory, and that glory gives them life. To see God is to share in life.

Prayer for the Day

Take time to reflect and pray. Pray for those listed on our prayer list from worship. If you’d like to use it, here is a prayer to guide you:

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Give us your peace, O God, that we may rejoice in your goodness to us and to all your children, and be thankful for your love revealed in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for

people who reveal your truth and righteousness . . .
courage to be bold disciples . . .
those who show hospitality . . .
surprises that have blessed us . . .
the unity of the church of Jesus Christ. . . .

Give us your peace, O God, that we may be confident of your care for us and all your children, as we remember the needs of others. Especially we pray for

friends and relatives who are far away . . .
neighbors in special need . . .
those who suffer hunger and thirst . . .
those who work at night while others sleep . . .
Episcopal and Methodist churches. . . .

Amen.

O Antiphons

O Wisdom,
coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
pervading and permeating all creation,
you order all things with strength and gentleness:
Come now and teach us the way to salvation.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Adonai,
Ruler of the house of Israel,
you appeared in the burning bush to Moses
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come with outstretched arm to save us.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Root of Jesse,
rising as a sign for all the peoples,
before you earthly rulers will keep silent,
and nations give you honor:
Come quickly to deliver us.

Come, Lord Jesus.

(silence)

God of grace,
ever faithful to your promises,
the earth rejoices in hope of our Savior’s coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts to receive him when he comes,
for he is Lord forever and ever.
Amen.

Closing Prayer

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the coming solemnity of your Son
may bestow healing upon us in this present life
and bring us the rewards of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. 
Amen.

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