DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 2/14/19

Thursday, 5th Week of Ordinary Time

Opening Prayer

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

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Faithful God,
you have appointed us your witnesses,
to be light that shines in the world.
Let us not hide the bright hope you have given us,
but tell everyone your love,
revealed in Jesus Christ the Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 97

The Lord Reigns

97:1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
    who make their boast in worthless idols;
    worship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and is glad,
    and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
    because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
    He preserves the lives of his saints;
    he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
    and give thanks to his holy name!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
O God,
you clothe the sky with light, and ocean depths with darkness.
You work your mighty wonders among us.
Claim us for your purposes,
that we may be among those who see your glory and give you praise,
for you live and reign, now and forever.
Amen.

Laudate Psalm, Psalm 147:12-20

He Heals the Brokenhearted

147:12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
    Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
    he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
    he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
    he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
    who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
    he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
    his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
    they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
O Lord,
marvelous is your might
by which you cast down the proud
and lift up the humble.
Restore and rebuild your church.
Gather your scattered sheep
and nourish us by your holy Word,
that we may follow your will
and come at last to the heritage
prepared for us in Christ Jesus.
Amen.

Old Testament Reading, Isaiah 60:1-22

The Future Glory of Israel

60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
    and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
    the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
    all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
    and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
    the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
    and I will beautify my beautiful house.

Who are these that fly like a cloud,
    and like doves to their windows?
For the coastlands shall hope for me,
    the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
    their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
    and for the Holy One of Israel,
    because he has made you beautiful.

10 Foreigners shall build up your walls,
    and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
    but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
    day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
    with their kings led in procession.
12 For the nation and kingdom
    that will not serve you shall perish;
    those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
    the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
    and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons of those who afflicted you
    shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
    shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
    the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
    with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
    a joy from age to age.
16 You shall suck the milk of nations;
    you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
    and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
    and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
    instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
    and your taskmasters righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
    devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
    and your gates Praise.

19 The sun shall be no more
    your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
    give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
    nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
    they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
    that I might be glorified.
22 The least one shall become a clan,
    and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
    in its time I will hasten it.

Epistle Reading, 2 Timothy 2:14-26

A Worker Approved by God

2:14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Gospel Reading,  Mark 10:17-31

The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Reflection for the Day

Let Christ Be Formed in You
from  an explanation of Paul’s letter to the Galatians by
Augustine of Hippo (4th – 5th Centuries)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

The Apostle says, Be like me, for though born a Jew, by reason of spiritual discernment I now consider carnal things of small importance. And he adds, For I am as you are, that is to say: For I, like you, am a man. Then he tactfully reminds them of his love so that they will not look on him as an enemy: Brothers, I beseech you, he says, you did me no wrong, as if to say, “Do not imagine that I want to wrong you.” And to have them imitate him as they would a parent, he addresses them as little children: My little children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you.Actually he is here speaking more in the person of Mother Church that his own. So too he says elsewhere: I was gentle among you like a nurse fondling her little ones. 

Christ is formed in the believer by faith of the inner man, called to the freedom that grace bestows, meek and gentle, not boasting of nonexistent merits, but through grace making some beginning of merit. Hence he can be called “my least one” by him who said: Inasmuch as you did it to the least of my brethren you did it to me. 

Christ is formed in him who receives Christ’s mold, who clings to him in spiritual love. By imitating him he becomes, as far as is possible to his condition, what Christ is. John says: He who remains in Christ should walk as he did. 

Children are conceived in order to be formed in their mother’s womb, and when they have been so formed, mothers are in travail to give them birth. We can thus understand Paul’s words: With whom I am in labor until Christ be formed in you. By labor we understand his anxiety for those with whom he is in travail, that they be born unto Christ. And he is again in labor when he sees them in danger of being led astray. These anxieties, which can be likened to the pangs of childbirth, will continue until they come to full age in Christ, so as not to be moved by every wind of doctrine. 

He is not therefore talking about the beginnings of faith by which they were born, but of strong and perfect faith when he says: With whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you. He also refers elsewhere in different words to his being in labor, when he says: There is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 

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)
We give you our praise and thanks, O God, for all gifts of love we have received from you, and for your persistent mercy in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for

work we have accomplished pleasing to you . . .
the faithful witness of Christian people . . .
the example of righteousness we see in parents and teachers . . .
the innocence and openness we see in children . . .
all works of Christian compassion. . . .

We give you our cares and concerns, O God, because we know you are kind and
care for your children in every circumstance. Especially we pray for

those who struggle with doubt and despair . . .
people afflicted with disease . . .
those called to special ministries . . .
people neglected or abused . . .
Baptist, Disciples of Christ, and other free churches. . . .

Amen.

Closing Prayer

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,
that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,
they may be defended always by your protection.
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.

Let us praise the Lord.
– And give him thanks. 
Amen.

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