June 18 Devotional (2021)

I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

A prayer inspired by Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Rhodesia, who we remember on June 18th

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of Thy love in the heart of thy holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen


June 18, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:   Job 29:21—30:15 / Psalm 121 / Acts 21:1-16

Invitatory

O Lord, open thou our lips. 

And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

Hymn

“In the Sweet By and By”

Morning Prayer

BEFORE STUDY 

O Christ my Lord, Giver of light and wisdom, who opened the eyes of the blind man and made the fishermen wise heralds and teachers of the Gospel through the coming of the Holy Spirit, illuminate also my mind with the light of the grace of Your Holy Spirit. Grant me discernment, understanding, and wisdom in learning, that I may abound in every good work and glorify You, together with Your Eternal Father, and Your All-holy, Good, and Life-giving Spirit, always, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. AMEN. [1]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God;* with the forthright you show yourself forthright. With the pure you show yourself pure,* but with the crooked you are wily. You will save a lowly people,* but you will humble the haughty eyes. 

Psalm 18:26-28
“Job”
By William Blake
(source)

Morning Reading: Job 29:21—30:15

Job laments his losses

21 “Men listened to me and waited

and kept silence for my counsel.

22 After I spoke they did not speak again,

and my word dropped upon them.

23 They waited for me as for the rain,

and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.

24 I smiled on them when they had no confidence,

and the light of my face they did not cast down.

25 I chose their way and sat as chief,

and I lived like a king among his troops,

like one who comforts mourners.

1 “But now they laugh at me,

men who are younger than I,

whose fathers I would have disdained

to set with the dogs of my flock.

2 What could I gain from the strength of their hands,

men whose vigor is gone?

3 Through want and hard hunger

they gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation;

4 they pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes,

and the roots of the broom tree for their food.

5 They are driven out from human company;

they shout after them as after a thief.

6 In the gullies of the torrents they must dwell,

in holes of the earth and of the rocks.

7 Among the bushes they bray;

under the nettles they huddle together.

8 A senseless, a nameless brood,

they have been whipped out of the land.

9 “And now I have become their song;

I am a byword to them.

10 They abhor me; they keep aloof from me;

they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.

11 Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me,

they have cast off restraint in my presence.

12 On my right hand the rabble rise;

they push away my feet;

they cast up against me their ways of destruction.

13 They break up my path;

they promote my calamity;

they need no one to help them.

14 As through a wide breach they come;

amid the crash they roll on.

15 Terrors are turned upon me;

my honor is pursued as by the wind,

and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.

Morning Lesson

Job like the outcasts

“Job once felt that his prosperity and social status were signs of being in God’s good graces. In appreciation for these many blessings, Job led a virtuous life. Now, however, he felt that God had rejected him. However, amid his anguish and suffering, he sensed that God had not abandoned him. The travails of this life, whether or not these are directly related to sinful choices or actions, are a special opportunity for purification and growth in personal sanctity.” [2]

“Job lamented especially his present agony, which was in stark contrast to his former situation of ease and contentment. Even the poor, for whom he had so generously cared, had turned their backs on him. He suffered great pain and disillusionment.” [3]

Job described “his condescension to those he helped [v. 25]. He helped the people in need by choosing the best way for them to go. He lived with them so he could share even in their suffering of bereavement and comfort them in their losses.” [4]

In the past, “people awaited Job’s words like children eagerly awaited the first sweet drops of a spring rain [v. 23] to fall in their mouths (cf Zec 10:1).” [5]

Now, however, people laughed at him (v. 30:1), even people whose fathers Job would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock (v. 30:1). The words dogs of my flock is a “vicious insult. Dogs were regarded with contempt, despite their use in protecting flocks. These people were unworthy even to keep company with sheepdogs.” [6]

In 30:3, Job described those who gnaw the dry ground. Pictured in these words is the “deplorable state resulting from starvation. Starving people may try to fill their empty bellies with dirt, just as persons deprived of certain minerals are driven to eat dirt.” [7] These same people would pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes, and the roots of the broom tree for their food (v. 4). Saltwort is a “plant that grows in salty regions of the Near East. In extreme need, roots of this plant could be ground to make a crude flour for bread.” [8]

Job’s description continues in verses 5– 8. “These brutish people [were] the outcasts, true troglodytes, considered unfit to live in human society. Those for whom Job once provided charity now consider themselves superior to him.” [9] These “lowly people who now taunt Job,” while the “more respectable people… [drove] these lowly drifters out of their towns and farmsteads.” [10] Having been driven out, they would bray; from among the bushes (v. 7) came “mournful and inarticulate [cries] from those who [had] been driven out of their human community.” [11]

Job had become a byword (v. 9). “Job’s fall into suffering [had]… made him a proverb of scorn and derision.” [12] Job was now “like a bow ‘unstrung’ [loosed my cord, v. 11] by God (cf 29:20), making him liable to abuse. cast off restraint. Those who once would have shown deep respect for Job now find that he is at their mercy. Job’s authority and honor no longer restrain them.” [13] Rather, as through a wide breach they came for him; amid the crash they rolled on [v. 14] as if surging through a “hole broken in a fortress by attackers.” [14] Poor Job!

“To suffer extreme loss, as Job did, was humiliating. But to face abuse at the hands of young upstarts added insult to injury.” [15] “St. Gregory [saw] these younger men, along with the fathers who taught them, as heretics. But they also can be seen more universally to illustrate those who teach, and those who follow, false doctrine. They are in want and famine (v. 3) because they are lost and spiritually malnourished. Salty herbs, [said] St. Gregory, means they ‘observe the least precepts and disregard the greater ones.’ They no longer understand the truth, but are content to chew at its roots. The thieves are those who would steal the faithful away from the Church. Indeed, the true Church is taunted by her heretics, while the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is used as a byword (v. 9) by these sons of fools (v. 8), who misuse and exploit it as they pursue every ‘wind of doctrines’ (Eph 4:14).” [16]

“Job had lost his family, possessions, health, position, and good name. He was not even respected for suffering bravely. Unfortunately, young people sometimes mock and take advantage of older people and those who are limited in some way. Instead, they should realize that their own physical abilities and attributes are short-lived and that God loves all people equally.” [17]

“Job did not deserve such punishments by his life; for he was God-fearing, guileless, and virtuous. . . . It tends to instruct and comfort us when we learn that God often causes even the innocent to experience the most serious misfortunes and punishments, merely in order to test them. When faint hearts feel the punishments, they immediately think of sin, and believe that these are punishments for sin. But one must maintain that the godly experience many evils, solely in order that they may be tested” (Martin Luther). [18] “Merciful Lord, test me and prove me not on my own merits or strength. For then, I would surely fail. But test and prove me on the merits of Jesus Christ, who cannot fail to redeem me when I stumble. Amen.” [19]


Midday Prayer

A THANKSGIVING FOR LIFE WITHIN THE CHURCH

WE GIVE YOU THANKS AND PRAISE, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have called us into your fellowship:

For those who first taught us to pray and opened the gospels to us; 

      we give you thanks.

For those who stood with us at the font; 

      we give you thanks.

For the abundant grace of baptism, by which we were granted forgiveness and a place in your kingdom; 

      we give you thanks.

For the faith we confessed in the Creed and the call we accepted in the Baptismal Covenant; 

      we give you thanks.

For the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the sign of the cross, marking us as your own; 

      we give you thanks. Amen. [20]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,* and your glory all over the earth. So that those who are dear to you may be delivered,* save with your right hand and answer me. 

Psalm 108:5-6
“I will lift up my eyes”
By Donna Steward
(source)

Midday Reading: Psalm 121

Levavi oculos
 
1I lift up my eyes to the hills; *    from where is my help to come?
 
2My help comes from the LORD, *    the maker of heaven and earth.
 
3He will not let your foot be moved *    and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
 
4Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel *    shall neither slumber nor sleep;
 
5The LORD himself watches over you; *    the LORD is your shade at your right hand,
 
6So that the sun shall not strike you by day, *    nor the moon by night.
 
7The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; *    it is he who shall keep you safe.
8The LORD shall watch over your going out and                             your coming in, *    from this time forth for evermore.

Midday Lesson

About the Levavi oculos

“Probably if you asked someone to name their favorite Psalm, at least someone who is familiar with the Psalms, they probably come up with Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” For some reason, that one really strikes chords in people’s lives, so much so that it’s almost a given that someone who has planned out their own burial service or celebration of life has already picked Psalm 23 to be read or recited at the event. There are 149 other Psalms, but that seems to be the top choice.” [21]

“But among the other favorites is Psalm 121, ‘I will lift up mine eyes into the hills’. Look [in the] Prayer Book or some Bibles and you will see that next to the Psalm number is a phrase in italics. That is the Latin phrase for the first line of the Psalm, Levavi oculos. Think about it. You may visit an oculist (an ophthalmologist or optometrist) to have your eyes checked or glasses prescribed. It’s all about the eyes.” [22]

“There’s something comforting about the phrase of looking up to the hills, especially since we tend to see high places as areas of safety, or areas of particular sanctity because they are closer to heaven than the land around the mountains. Moses went up onto the mountains several times, for safety, to investigate, and to answer a call. Perhaps that’s where we get the idea of mountains being sacred ground, places where we can commune more easily with God since hilltops are, at least atmospherically, closer to God, or so we think. It’s also another reason why people build churches with steeples or great Gothic spires — to reach higher towards God.” [23]

Levavi oculus is a Psalm of confidence. The second part of the first verse asks, ‘…from where is my help to come?’ We are taught from childhood that God is there to help us and if God is in heaven, then we are to look up to try to communicate with God. If there happens to be a very big hill, a great mountain, or even a smaller mountain, that stands out from the surrounding area, then it might be a place to see as a possible dwelling place for God.” [24]

“Psalm 121 is a good one for us these days, since it’s a comforting song but it also offers hope. It tells us that God won’t let our feet be moved and that God will never slumber nor sleep. That’s a pretty wide range of expressions of confidence that no matter what happens, all I have to do is remember to look up to God.” [25]


Eventide Prayer

A Collect for Fridays

Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake. Amen. [26]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

I will fulfill my vows to the LORD* in the presence of all his people. 

Psalm 116:16
“The Prophecy of Agabus” 
By Louis Cheron
(source)

Eventide Reading: Acts 21:1-16

Paul is warned about future persecution

1 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Eventide Lesson

Paul Goes to Jerusalem

“The apostle Paul’s affection for his fellow believers ran deep (20:37). It must have been a difficult life for Paul, constantly leaving behind friends and family [v. 1] as he traveled about proclaiming the gospel. In Patara [v. 1], a seaport, Paul.and his companions could fund a larger ship that would sail the four hundred miles directly to Phoenicia, with its ports at Tyre and Sidon. In the summer months, the wind of the Aegean Sea blows from the north, beginning very early in the morning. In the late afternoon the wind dies away. Sunset brings a dead calm, and later later a gentle south breeze blows. If a ship was heading down the coast, it would typically anchor at evening and wait for the winds of the morning.” [27]

“Paul wasted no time because he wanted to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost, which occurs just 50 days after Passover. Paul had celebrated Passover with his friends in Philippi more than three weeks earlier, so he had less than 30 days to read Jerusalem in time for the festival.” [28]

In verse 4, “a warning was being given by the Holy Spirit of the danger that was waiting for Paul in Jerusalem. It is doubtful that the warning meant that Paul was actually not supposed to go. The warning did cause the disciples, who loved Paul and did not want to see him hurt, to discourage Paul from continuing his journey. But Paul had already demonstrated sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit (16:6). He had already said that he was ‘bound by the spirit’ to go to Jerusalem (20:22). Later, Jesus Himself encouraged Paul concerning his decision to go (23:11).” [29]

In Caesarea, Paul and his companions visited the house of Philip the Deacon. “Some believe that Philip’s house [v. 8] was the place where the believers of Caesarea assembled to worship God.” [30] Philip had four daughters who prophesied (v. 9). “Here we see a fulfillment of what Peter said in ch. 2 about how young men and women both would be gifted by the Spirit of God to prophecy and proclaim the truth of God.” [31] “Prophecy is the gift of the Holy Spirit to speak the will of God authoritatively. This gift is given to both men and women (see 1Co 11:4, 5), including Miriam (Ex 15:20, 21), Deborah (Jdg 4:4), Huldah (2 Kg 22:14), Isaiah’s wife (Is 8:3), the Virgin Mary (Lk 1:46-55), and Anna (Lk 2:36-38).” [32]

In Caesarea, Paul was prophesied to by a man named Agbus (v. 10). “This same Agabus is mentioned in 11:28.” [33] “Agbus had predicted in 11:27-30 the famine that would fall upon Judea. In response to his prediction, the Gentile believers had collected money for the suffering believers in Jerusalem.” [34] “Here he prophecies in the style of the OT prophets, using an ordinary object to illustrate his message (see Is 20:2; Jer 13:1).” [35] “Agbus predicted Paul’s imprisonment and suffering. The Holy Spirit did not forbid Paul to go to Jerusalem, but warned him of what it would cost him.” [36]

“Although they had been told repeatedly that Paul would be beaten and arrested in Jerusalem, Paul’s traveling companions continued to travel with him. They would not leave Paul in his moment of crisis. During times of suffering, true friends stick close to provide comfort and assistance (see Prov. 17:17).” [37]

Compline Prayers

Oh Lord, support us all the day long,

Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,

And the busy world is hushed.

Then in Thy mercy grant us a safe lodging,

And a holy rest and peace at the last, Amen.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in eternal peace. Amen.


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Papavassiliou, V. (2014). Prayers for Various Occasions. In The ancient faith prayer book (Kindle ed., p. 100). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.

[2] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Job. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1370). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[3] Ibid. 2

[4] A., E. E. (2016). Job. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 3578). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

[7] Ibid. 4

[8] Ibid. 4

[9] Ibid. 4

[10] Ibid. 4

[11] Ibid. 4

[12] Ibid. 4

[13] Ibid. 4

[14] Ibid. 4

[15] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Job. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 7360). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[16] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Job. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 837). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[17] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Job. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 7360). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[18] A., E. E. (2016). Job. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 3579-3580). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[19] Ibid. 18, P. 3580

[20] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 69). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[21] Ryan, L. (2017, September 30). Levavi Oculos. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://www.episcopalcafe.com/levavi-oculos/

[22] Ibid. 21

[23] Ibid. 21

[24] Ibid. 21

[25] Ibid. 21

[26] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. 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. 123). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[27] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Acts. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 1749). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[28] Ibid. 27

[29] Ibid. 27

[30] Ibid. 27

[31] Ibid. 27

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

[33] Ibid. 32

[34] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Acts. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 1749). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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

[36] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Acts. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 1749). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[37] Ibid. 36

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