February 1 Devotional (2021)

Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life!

February 1, 2021
Epiphanytide

Today’s Readings: Psalm 35:1-10; Numbers 22:1-23; Acts 21:17-26


Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our saviour. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

Morning Invocation

The earth is the Lord’s for he made it: Come let us adore him.

Opening Prayer

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [1]

The Hymn

“Jesus is Lord of all the earth”

By Donald Fishel, b. 1950

Lyrics:

Jesus is Lord of all the earth

He is the King of creation.

Refrain:

Alleluia, Alleluia,

Give thanks to the risen Lord,

Alleluia, Alleluia,

give praise to His Name.

Spread the good news

o’er all the earth.

Jesus has died and has risen.

We have been crucified with Christ.

Now we shall live forever.

God has proclaimed the just reward,

Life for all men, Alleluia.

Come let us praise the living God,

Joyfully sing to our Saviour. [2]

Short Verse

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 

Genesis 1:31
“My Protector”
(source)

Morning Reading: Psalm 35:1-10

God is our salvation

1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;

fight against those who fight against me!

2 Take hold of shield and buckler

and rise for my help!

3 Draw the spear and javelin

against my pursuers!

Say to my soul,

“I am your salvation!”

4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor

who seek after my life!

Let them be turned back and disappointed

who devise evil against me!

5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,

with the angel of the LORD driving them away!

6 Let their way be dark and slippery,

with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!

7 For without cause they hid their net for me;

without cause they dug a pit for my life.b

8 Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!

And let the net that he hid ensnare him;

let him fall into it—to his destruction!

9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,

exulting in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say,

“O LORD, who is like you,

delivering the poor

from him who is too strong for him,

the poor and needy from him who robs him?”

Morning Prayer

Collect of the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [3]

Blessing

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen. [4]


A prayer inspired by St Bridget of Kildare, Abbess, who the Church remembers on February 1st

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that, following the example of thy servant Bridget, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Short Verse

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens;*

…who is like you, O God?

Psalm 71:19
“Balaam and His Donkey”
(source)

Midday Reading: Numbers 22:1-23

King Balak asks Balaam to curse Israel

1 Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 4 And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6 Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message. 8 And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the LORD speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9 And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, 11 ‘Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” 12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you.” 14 So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

15 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’” 18 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more. 19 So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.” 20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.22 But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.

“Balaam with angel and donkey”
 copperplate engraving by William Marshall Craig
(source)

Midday Lesson

Who was Balaam?

“Balaam was a sorcerer, one called upon to praise curses on others. Belief in curses… was common in Old Testament times. Sorcerers were thought to have power with their gods. Thus, the king of Moab wanted Balaam to use his powers with the God of Israel to place a curse on Israel – hoping that, by magic, God would turn against His people. Neither Balaam nor Balak had any idea whom they were dealing with!” [5]

“Why would God speak through a sorcerer like Balaam? God wanted to give a message to the Moabites, and they had already chosen to employ Balaam. So Balaam was available for God to use, much as He used the wicked Pharaoh to accomplish His will in Egypt (Exod 10:1). Balaam entered into his prophetic role seriously, but his heart was mixed. He had some knowledge of God, but not enough to forsake his magic and turn wholeheartedly to God. Although this story leads us to believe he completely turned to God, later passages in the Bible show that Balaam couldn’t resist the tempting pull of money and idolatry (Num 31:16; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 1:11).” [6]

“God let Balaam go with Balak’s messengers, but He was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude. Balaam claimed that he would not go against God for just money, but his resolve was beginning to slip. His greed for the wealth offered by the king blinded him so that he could not see how God was trying to stop him. Though we may know what God wants us to do, we can become blinded by the desire for money, posessons, or prestige. We can avoid Balaam’s mistake.” [7]

Midday Prayer

For Protection
Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [8]


For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. For in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his.

Short Verse

Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.

1 Peter 5:8-9a
“Rumors are circulating”
By Eduard Zentsik, Estonia
(source)

Evensong Reading: Acts 21:17-26

Rules for Gentile converts

17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19  After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

“The Gossips,” 1948. 
Painting for “The Saturday Evening Post” cover, March 6, 1948. Oil on canvas. 
By Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
(source)

Evensong Lesson

Gossip about Paul

In tonight’s reading, “Paul [met] with James, the bishop of Jerusalem, who report[ed] that many Jews [had] set themselves against Paul. While neither Jews nor Gentiles find salvation through the Law, James encourag[ed] Paul to demonstrate his compliance with the Law in order to gain the trust of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.” [9] 

“The Jerusalem council (Acts 15) had settled the issue of circumcision for Gentile believers. Evidently a rumor said that Paul had gone far beyond their decision, even forbidding Jews to circumcise their own children. This, of course, was not true, so Paul willingly submitted to Jewish custom to show that he was not working against the council’s decision and that he was still Jewish in his lifestyle. Sometimes we must go the second mile to avoid offending others, especially when doing so would hinder God’s work.” [10]

“Because Paul was going to participate with the four men in the vow (apparently he had been asked to pay for some of the required expenses), he would need to take part in the purification ceremony for entering the Temple (Num 6:9-20). Paul submitted himself to this Jewish custom to keep peace in the Jerusalem church. Although Paul was a man of strong convictions, he was willing to compromise on nonessential points, becoming all things to all people so that he might save some (1 Cor 9:19-23). Often churches split over disagreements about minor issues or traditions. Like Paul, we should remain firm on Christian essentials but flexible on nonessentials. Of course, no one should violate a true conviction, but sometimes we need to honor Christ by mutual submission for the sake of the Good News.” [11]

Evensong Prayer

Show us your mercy, O Lord;

     And grant us your salvation.

Clothe your ministers with righteousness;

     Let your people sing with joy.

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;

     For only in you can we live in safety.

Lord, keep this nation under your care;

     And guide us in the way of justice and truth.

Let your way be known upon earth;

     Your saving health among all nations.

Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;

     Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Create in us clean hearts, O God;

     And sustain us by your Holy Spirit.

Amen. [12]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit;

     For you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.

Keep us, O Lord, as the apple of your eye;

     Hide us under the shadow of your wings.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Amen. [13]


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Daily Morning Prayers Rite II. 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. 99). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[2] Jesus is Lord of all the earth. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2021, from http://ehymnbook.org/CMMS/hymnSong.php?id=pd00048

[3] Episcopal Church. (1979). Collects: Seasons of the Year. 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. 215). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated

[4] The Episcopal Church. (2018). Seasonal Blessings: Christmas. In The Book of Occasional Services (PDF ed., p. 9). Then Episcopal Church. Retrieved November December 15, 2020, from https://episcopalchurch.org/files/lm_book_of_occasional_services_2018.pdf

[5] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Numbers. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 265). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[6] Ibid. 5

[7] Ibid. 5, P. 266

[8] Episcopal Church. (1979). Prayers and Thanksgivings: A Prayer of Self-Dedication. 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. 832). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[9] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1531). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[10] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Acts. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 1677). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[11] Ibid. 10

[12] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Daily Evening Prayers Rite II. 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. 121-122). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[13] 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. 132). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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