DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 2/28/19

Thursday, 7th 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)
Almighty God,
you have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
and freed us from bondage to sin.
Give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all people may be brought
to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 143

My Soul Thirsts for You
A Psalm of David.

143:1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
    give ear to my pleas for mercy!
    In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
    for no one living is righteous before you.

For the enemy has pursued my soul;
    he has crushed my life to the ground;
    he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
    my heart within me is appalled.

I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all that you have done;
    I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord!
    My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
    lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
    I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
    In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
    and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
    for I am your servant.

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
God of our hope,
when we are distracted by care and sickness,
help us to recognize your image in ourselves and others,
that we may be made whole
and the world become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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, Ruth 2:14-23

2:14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Epistle Reading, 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Ministers of the New Covenant

3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Gospel Reading,  Matthew 5:27-37

Lust

5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Divorce

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Reflection for the Day

The Unfathomable Depths of God
from an instruction by
Columbanus (6th – 7th Centuries)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

God is everywhere in his immensity, and everywhere close at hand. As he says of himself: I am a God close at hand, not a God far off. The God we seek is not one who dwells at a distance from us, for we have him present with us, if only we are worthy. He dwells in us as the soul in the body, if only we are sound members of his, if we are dead to sin. Then in very truth he dwells in us, the one who said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. If we are worthy of his presence with us, then in truth we are made alive by him as his living members. As the Apostle says: In him we live and move and have our being. 

Who, I ask, will search out the Most High in his own being, for he is beyond words or understanding? Who will penetrate the secrets of God? Who will boast that he knows the infinite God, who fills all things, yet encompasses all things, who pervades all things, yet reaches beyond all things, who holds all things in his hand, yet escapes the grasp of all things? No one has ever seen him as he is. No one must then presume to search for the unsearchable things of God: his nature, the manner of his existence, his selfhood. These are beyond telling, beyond scrutiny, beyond investigation. With simplicity, but also with fortitude, only believe that this is how God is and this is how he will be, for God is incapable of change.

Who then is God? He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God. Do not look for any further answers concerning God. Those who want to understand the unfathomable depths of God must first consider the world of nature. Knowledge of the Trinity is rightly compared with the depth of the sea. Wisdom asks: Who will find out what is so very deep? As the depths of the sea are invisible to human sight, so the Godhead of the Trinity is found to be beyond the grasp of human understanding. If any one, I say, wants to know what he should believe he must not imagine that he understands better through speech than through belief; the knowledge of God that he seeks will be all the further off than it was before.

Seek then the highest wisdom, not by arguments in words but by the perfection of your life, not by speech but by the faith that comes from simplicity of heart, not from the learned speculations of the unrighteous. If you search by means of discussions for the God who cannot be defined in words, he will depart further from you than he was before. If you search for him by faith, wisdom will stand where wisdom lives, at the gates. Where wisdom is, wisdom will be seen, at least in part. But wisdom is also to some extent truly attained when the invisible God is the object of faith, in a way beyond our understanding, for we must believe in God, invisible as he is, though he is partially seen by a heart that is pure. 

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)
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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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