January 16 Devotional (2021)

January 16, 2021
Epiphanytide

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 2:21-26; Matthew 25:1-13; “Reluctance to pray” by Jeremy Taylor


Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.   
 Isaiah 60:3

Morning Invocation

The Lord is our God * Come, let us adore Him

Opening Prayer

O Lord, I will sing of Thy power, and will prairie Thy mercy in the morning, for Thou has been my defense and my refuge in the day of trouble. Unto Thee, O my strength, will I sing; for Thou, O God, art my defense, and my merciful God. Amen. 

William Laud, Archbishop and Martyr [1]

Hymn

“Ye servants of God”

By Charles Wesley

Lyrics: 

You servants of God, your Master proclaim, 

And publish abroad his wonderful name; 

The name all victorious of Jesus extol, 

His kingdom is glorious and rules over all. 

“Salvation to God, who sits on the throne!” 

Let all cry aloud and honor the Son; 

The praises of Jesus the angels proclaim, 

Fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb. 

Then let us adore and give him his right, 

All glory and power, all wisdom and might; 

All honor and blessing with angels above, 

And thanks never ceasing and infinite love. [2]

Short Verse

The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.    

John 4:23
“Eli the High Priest”
(source: Modern Biblical Art)

Morning Reading: 1 Samuel 2:21-26

Eli’s sons sin

21 Indeed the LORD visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD.

22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the LORD spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death.26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.

“Hannah and Samuel”
By Cody F. Miller
(source)

Morning Lesson

Hannah gift to posterity

“Out of the materialism and ruthlessness of Israel during the period of the judges, Hannah emerged as a woman of faith. From her home in the hills north of Jerusalem, she traveled to Shiloh, the national place of worship [at that time]. Her sadness of heart and persistence in prayer contrasted sharply with the prevalent corruption in worship led by Eli’s sons (2:12-17).” [3]

“Hannah’s personal life was one of despair in her childlessness as she recoiled from Peninnah’s persisting reproaches. Her prayer exhibited selflessness as she pled for a son whom she might present to God for His use [see this linked lesson on Hannah’s prayer, Samuel 1:1-28]. Clearly, Hannah was loved and valued for herself by her husband, Elkanah, but even the intensity of a devout husband’s love could not penetrate her inner disquiet nor overcome her yearning for a child (1:8). The throbbing emotions of her despair were so evident in Hannah’s prayers that the aged Eli accused her of drunkenness. But beyond her prayers and tears, a vow erupted. Hannah, in effect, made a pact with God; she pledged to give back to Him the precious life He might give to her. God honored her bold and decisive act.” [4]

“God came to Hannah to grant her request [for a child], as He had Sarah (Gen. 21:1). In His gracious condescension, He comes near to His people to meet their needs (see Ruth 1:8). In other circumstances, God’s visit may be for the purposes of judgement (see Hos. 1:4).” [5]

Meanwhile, “Eli’s sons continue[d] in their high-handed contempt for God’s Law, refusing to listen to their father’s rebuke and warning. As Eli’s sons [grew[ in their sin, Samuel [grew] in favor with God and with people. God’s rebuke and warning show His desire for our repentance. When we have sinned against Him, He provides for us an intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ.” [6]

“Samuel grew up to become the last judge, an outstanding and gifted prophet, and the one who would anoint the first two kings of Israel. Samuel was the pivotal spiritual leader who turned the nation toward Yahweh. His mother Hannah played her part in this spiritual awakening as she trusted God, leaving for all posterity an example of determined devotion in her motherhood.” [7]

Epiphanytide Morning Prayer

O God, Who by the leading of a star didst, as on this day, manifest thine Only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. [8]

Blessing

May Almighty God arrange our deeds and our day in His peace. Amen.


I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may
reach to the end of the earth.   
 Isaiah 49:6b

Short Verse

For the LORD God is both sun and shield;* 

he will give grace and glory. 

Psalm 84:10
“Woman Kneeling in Prayer”
By George Henry Boughton
(source)

Midday Reading

Reluctance to pray

By Jeremy Taylor

There is no greater proof in the world of our spiritual danger than the reluctance which most people always have and all people sometimes have to pray; so weary of their length, so glad when they are done, so clever to excuse and neglect their opportunity. Yet prayer is nothing but desiring God to give us the greatest and best things we can have and that can make us happy. It is a work so easy, so honorable, and to so great a purpose, that (except in the incarnation of His Son) God has never given us a greater argument of His willingness to have us saved and our unwillingness to accept it, of His goodness and our gracelessness, of His infinite condescension and our folly, than by rewarding so easy a duty with such great blessings. [9]

Midday Prayer

Look well whether there be any wickedness in me* 

and lead me in the way that is everlasting. Amen.

Psalm 139:23

From the rising of the sun to its setting my Name shall be great
among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered
to my Name, and a pure offering: for my Name shall be great
among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.    
Malachi 1:11

Short Verse

Worship the Lord in the beauty of his holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him.    

Psalm 96:9
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins” (1822) 
by William Blake, 
Tate Gallery.
(source)

Evensong Reading: Matthew 25:1-13

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

“The Parable of the Ten Virgins” (section) 
by Phoebe Traquair, 
Mansfield Traquair Church, Edinburgh.
(source)

Evensong Lesson

The dead faith of the unprepared

“This parable illustrates the need for being spiritually prepared while the bridegroom – Christ – is delayed in His return [before Christ’s Second Coming] (v. 5). The Kingdom is often portrayed as a marriage (see 2:1-14) between Christ and His Church. The marriage will be consummated at the end of the age when the Bridegroom returns to escort His Bride – the Church – into the eternal wedding banquet.” [10]

“This parable is primarily about the virtue of charity and almsgiving, as oil and ‘mercy’ have the same root in Greek. The wise virgins are those who practice charity and mercy in this life, while the foolish are those who squander God’s gifts on themselves.” [11]

“The fact that all the virgins slumbered and slept indicates death: in this world the virtuous will die alongside the wicked. The cry at midnight indicates the Second Coming, when the wicked will arise with the righteous for judgement. The inability of the righteous to share their oil is not to be interpreted as a lack of generosity. Rather, it is an illustration of (1) the impossibility of entering heaven without one’s own faith and virtue, and (2) the impossibility of changing one’s state of virtue after death (see Lk 16:26).” [12] 

“Jesus warns that many invited to share in the eternal joy of His kingdom will miss out by failing to have a living faith at the end. Though some will be condemned for heinous crimes and gross sins, many more will fail to enter heaven because they neglected their faith.” [13]

Evensong Prayer

Almighty, everlasting God, let our prayer in your sight be as incense, the lifting up of our hands as the evening sacrifice. Give us grace to behold you, present in your Word and Sacraments, and to recognize you in the lives of those around us. Stir up in us the flame of that love which burned in the heart of your Son as he bore his passion, and let it burn in us to eternal life and to the ages of ages. Amen. [14]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

A Second Collect for Saturdays:

We give you thanks, O God, for revealing your Son Jesus Christ to us by the light of his resurrection: Grant that as we sing your glory at the close of this day, our joy may abound in the morning as we celebrate the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [15]


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] LAUD, W. (1855). Saturday Prime. In The Private Devotions of Dr. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr (Ebook ed., p. 666). London and Oxford: John Henry & Jas. Parker.

[2] Tickle, P. (2006). January. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 547). New York, NY: Image Books.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). 1 Samuel. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 422). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Ibid. 3

[5] Ibid. 3

[6] House, C. P. (2009). 1 Samuel. In HOLY BIBLE: The lutheran study bible (p. 438). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing HSE.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). 1 Samuel. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 422). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[8] Bellarmine, G. (2020). January 6: Terce. In The Roman Breviary in English, in Order, Every Day for October, November, December 2020 (Kindle ed., p. 320). Christian Books Today.

[9] Tickle, P. (2006). January. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 648). New York, NY: Image Books.

[10] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1347-1348). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Ibid. 10, P. 1348

[12] Ibid. 10, P. 1348

[13] House, C. P. (2009). Matthew. In HOLY BIBLE: The lutheran study bible (p. 1638). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing HSE.

[14] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: An order for Worship in the Evening. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 113). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[15] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: An Order for Compline. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 134). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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