February 8 Devotional (2021)

He regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their pleas…

February 8, 2021
Epiphanytide

Today’s Readings: Psalm 102:12-28; 2 Kings 4:8-37; Acts 14:1-7


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

I thank you, O God, for keeping me through the night, and for the promise of this new day. I would begin it with you, and pray that it may be to me a day of growth in the Spirit and of service for you and your kingdom in the world. Help me to meet with quiet confidence whatever trials the day holds for me; strengthen me against temptation; and keep me always loyal to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. [1]

The Hymn

“Praise the Lord through every nation”

By Rhijnvis Feith

Lyrics:

Praise the Lord through every nation; 

His holy arm has brought salvation; 

      Exalt him on his Father’s throne. 

Praise your King, you Christian legions, 

Who now prepares in heavenly regions 

      Unfailing mansions for his own: 

With voice and minstrelsy 

Extol his majesty, 

      Raise your anthem now! 

His praise shall sound 

All nature round, 

and hymns on every tongue abound. 

Jesus, Lord, our captain glorious, 

Over sin and death, and hell victorious, 

      Wisdom and might to you belong: 

We confess, proclaim, adore you; 

We bow the knee, we fall before you; 

      Your love henceforth will be our song. 

The cross meanwhile we bear, 

The crown ere long to wear; 

      Raise your anthem now! 

Your reign extend 

World without end; 

Let praise from all to you ascend. [2]

“Jesus healing the Blind Man”
Oil on canvas, Painted in 2008  
By Brian Jekel (source)

Morning Reading: Psalm 102:12-28

Prayer for healing 

But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;

your name endures to all generations.

You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,

for it is time to favor it;

the appointed time has come.

For your servants hold its stones dear,

and have pity on its dust.

The nations will fear the name of the Lord,

and all the kings of the earth your glory.

For the Lord will build up Zion;

he will appear in his glory.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute,

and will not despise their prayer.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,

so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:

that he looked down from his holy height,

from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,

to hear the groans of the prisoners,

to set free those who were doomed to die;

so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,

and his praise in Jerusalem,

when peoples gather together,

and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

He has broken my strength in midcourse;

he has shortened my days.

“O my God,” I say, “do not take me away

at the midpoint of my life,

you whose years endure

throughout all generations.”

Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth,

and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you endure;

they will all wear out like a garment.

You change them like clothing, and they pass away;

but you are the same, and your years have no end.

The children of your servants shall live secure;

their offspring shall be established in your presence.

Short Verse

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! 

I will awake the dawn! 

Psalm 57:8

Morning Prayer

Collect of the Week

Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for 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]


Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
“Elisha Raising the Son of the Shunamite”
By Frederic Leighton (1830–1896)
Leighton House Museum
(source)

Midday Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-37

Elisha raises the Shunammite child

8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”

11 One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there. 12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.” 14 And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.” 17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.

18 When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” 23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.” 27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”

32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the LORD. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.

Midday Lesson

The power of fervent prayer 

“This account of a miraculous birth to one who has found favor with God [vv. 11-17] helps prepare the nation of Israel for the coming miraculous birth of the Savior from one also favored by God (Lk 1:30).” [5] As Saint John Chrysostom said, “For because no one would easily have believed that a virgin could bear a child, barren women first did so, then such as were not only barren, but aged also… to prepare the way for belief in the Virgin’s travail.” [6]

“Elisha’s staff [vv. 29-31], which failed to raise the child, is like the law. Neither of them, apart from the Word, can save mankind.” [7]

“Here displayed [vv. 32-35] is the power of fervent prayer from the heart of one who loves God and his neighbor (Mt 6:6). It is the same power that is given to Christ’s apostles (Acts 20:10).” [8]

Short Verse

Rescue the weak and the poor;* 

deliver them from the power of the wicked. 

Psalm 82:4

Midday Prayer

Heavenly Father, you have promised to hear what we ask in the Name of your Son: Accept and fulfill my petitions, I pray, not as I ask in my ignorance, nor as I deserve in my sinfulness, but as you know and love me in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. † [9]

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.
“Rejecting”
By Lennart Schou
(source)

Evensong Reading: Acts 14:1-7

Resistance to the message of the apostles

1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.

Evensong Lesson

The inner resistance to repentance 

“Iconium was the capitol of Lycaonia in Asia Minor between Antioch and Lystra. An interesting second-century account tells of a man from Iconium who went to meet St. Paul. Paul had been described to him as being ‘a small man in size with meeting eyebrows, a rather large nose, bald, bow-legged, but strongly built, full of grace, who at times seemed to have the face of an angel’ (from The Acts of Thekla).” [10]

“Unbelieving [v. 2] could also be translated ‘disobedient.’ It is from the common Greek verb apeitheo, meaning ‘to disobey.'” [11]

“Note that signs and wonders [4:30] are [performed], not as ends in themselves, but in order to give boldness to the preachers and to confirm the word they speak [4:29].” [12]

“Just before His most violent death on the cross, Christ promised peace to His disciples. But the existence of evil necessitates spiritual warfare. The earth to which Christ came was under the authority of Satan (Jn 12:31; 2Co 4:4). It is therefore essential that Christ wage war against the leader of vice with weapons of virtue (Eph 6:11-18).” [13]

“The inner resistance to repentance is so strong that many would rather deny the wonders of God (v. 3) and destroy His messengers than look inward and change.” [14]

Short Verse

If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.    

Psalm 139:10-11

Evensong Prayer

Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as daylight fades, with the brightness of the vesper light; and we implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so you would shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [15]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. [16]


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Forward Movement. (2013). Daily Prayers. In Prayers for All Occasions (Kindle ed., pp. 146). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[2] Tickle, P. (2006). February. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 42). New York, NY: Image Books.

[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. 216). 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] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 4 Kingdoms. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 485). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Ibid. 5

[7] Ibid. 5

[8] Ibid. 5

[9] Tickle, P. (2006). February. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 46). New York, NY: Image Books.

[10] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1523-1525). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Ibid. 10, P. 1525

[12] Ibid. 10, P. 1507

[13] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1316). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[14] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1525). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[15] 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. 110). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[16] 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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