August 16 Devotional (2021)

Joseph succeeded in awakening the consciences of those who had at one time sought to kill him…

August 16, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:  Psalm 36 / Genesis 43:1-15 / Acts 6:1-7

Invitatory

Come! O Come to the well of God’s Word and meet your Savior; the water He has given will become in you a spring of eternal life. 

Collect of the Week

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [1]

Hymn

“O God! creation’s secret Force”

Author: St. Ambrose; 

Paraphraser: J. M. Neale

Representative Text:

1 O God, creation’s secret force,

Yourself unmoved, all motion’s source,

You, from the morn till evening’s ray,

Through all its changes guide the day:

2 Grant us, when this short life is past,

The glorious evening that shall last;

That, by a holy death attained,

Eternal glory may be gained.

3 Almighty Father, hear our cry

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord Most High,

Whom with the Spirit we adore

For ever and for evermore. [2]


Morning Prayer

A COLLECT FOR THE RENEWAL OF LIFE 

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. [3]

Short Verse

Sing to the LORD, a new song,* for he has done marvelous things. With his right hand and his holy arm* has he won himself the victory.

Psalm 98:1-2
“Walk II”
By Oleg Vassiliev (Russian, active in United States after 1990, 1931-2013)
(source)

Morning Reading: Psalm 36

God saves humans and animals

Transgression speaks to the wicked

deep in their hearts;

there is no fear of God

before their eyes.

For they flatter themselves in their own eyes

that their iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

The words of their mouths are mischief and deceit;

they have ceased to act wisely and do good.

They plot mischief while on their beds;

they are set on a way that is not good;

they do not reject evil.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your judgments are like the great deep;

you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we do see light.

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,

and your salvation to the upright of heart!

Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me,

or the hand of the wicked drive me away.

There the evildoers lie prostrate;

they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Listen to Psalm 36

Morning Lesson

In your light do we see light

“This psalm contrasts those who choose evil with those who abide in the love of God. When evil is allowed to corrupt the human heart and soul, it is rendered less capable of choosing to do good through a sound moral life. Meanwhile, those who seek God and embrace his will increasingly grow in love for God and others as God’s grace continuously grows. A consequence of this union with God is fidelity, virtuous action, and wisdom. Divine light enables a person to participate in God’s very life.” [4]

Verse 9 says, in your light do we see light. “Not only is this a reference to the divine illumination of truth… but the Church Fathers also interpret it as God the Father’s eternal generation of God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. This truth with respect to God is echoed in the Nicene Creed when we pray, ‘God from God, Light from Light, / true God from true God; / begotten, not made, con-substantial with the Father.’” [5]

“O heavenly Father, we rely on Your grace and protection in the midst of sin and the wicked works of those who test our faith. Your Word is truth. Do not allow courage to build in the hearts of Your enemies, who despise Your Word and Your Son. Do not let them proudly boast, ‘Where is your God?’ Answer, we pray, those who oppress Your Holy Word. Amen.” [6]

Psalm 36 Commentary from the Early Church

Verses 1-3

“The wicked person speaks, and the inner conscience is mangled. Every word he utters is laden with malice and trickery. Who undergoes punishment greater than that which he inflicts on himself, when every word he says is piercing him through and through? The serpent pours out his poison into others; the unjust pours it into himself. Whatever he spills forth, he is spilling into his own self.”

  • St. Ambrose, Commentary on Twelve Psalms 36.6 [7]
  • Verse 6

    “An abyss is a depth of water that we can neither measure nor peer all the way into. Who could discern what lies within the deep ocean, or who could comprehend its broad-ranging spaces? So also we are neither able to embrace God’s judgments with our mind, nor are we able to define them through some action of reason.”

  • Cassiodorus, Explanation of the Psalms 36.7 [8]

  • Midday Prayer

    Almighty Savior, who at mid-day called your servant Saint Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles: We pray you to illumine the world with the radiance of your glory, that all nations may come and worship you; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. [9]

    Short Verse

    And happy are those whose hearts are set upon the pilgrim ways: you are the water when they thirst, their guide towards your face.

    Scottish Psalter, 1650
    “Joseph’s cup found in Benjamin’s sack” 
    illustration by Philip De Vere
    (source)

    Midday Reading: Genesis 43:1-15

    Joseph’s brothers need food

    1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” 7 They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” 8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”

    11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. 14 May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

    15 So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.

    Joseph Overseer of the Pharaoh’s Granaries, oil on canvas, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1874
    (source)
    [35]

    Midday Lesson

    Jacob sends Benjamin to Egypt

    In the saga of Joseph and his brothers, prior to today’s passage, “Joseph’s earlier dreams of his brothers bowing down to him came true when they came to him, now a governor in Egypt, to ask for food.” [10] In Genesis 42:14-15, Joseph told his brothers, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here.” “Joseph was testing his brothers to make sure they had not been as cruel to Benjamin as they had been to him. Benjamin was his only full brother, and he wanted to see him face-to-face.” [11] Joseph’s actions in accusing his brothers of espionage, imprisoning them for three days, keeping Simeon in custody, and withholding his true identity [from his brothers] had a salutary effect: Joseph succeeded in awakening the consciences of those who [had at one time] sought to kill him. In effect, Joseph’s ruse brought his brothers to repentance.” [12] 

    [36]

    Today’s passage takes place following the Joseph’s brothers’ return from Egypt. Having exhausted the goods they had acquired in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers and their father, Jacob, contemplated their return to replenish supplies. “Jacob and his sons had no relief from the famine. They could not see God’s overall plan of sending them to Egypt to be reunited with Joseph and fed from Egypt’s storehouses.” [13]

    “Jacob blamed his sons [v. 6] for telling the Egyptians there was still another brother. His sons replied that they had simply answered the questions they were asked (v. 7).” [14]

    “It was Judah rather than Reuben, the oldest brother, who spoke up assertively with a firm promise to Jacob. This is a foreshadowing of the role the Tribe of Judah would play in salvation history: both David and Christ came out of the Tribe of Judah.” [15] “Judah promised that he would keep Benjamin safe [v. 9]. Judah had changed tremendously (contrast 38:1). Instead of leaving the family, he protected his his brother and was concerned about his father’s welfare.” [16] “He did not know what that might mean for him, but he was determined to do his duty. In the end, Judah’s stirring words caused Joseph to break down with emotion and reveal himself to his brothers (44:18-34). Accepting responsibilities is difficult, but it builds character and confidence, earns others’ respect, and motivates us to complete our work. When you have been given an assignment to complete or a responsibility to fulfill, commit yourself to seeing it through.” [17]

    The “gifts of balm, honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds [v. 11] were highly valuable specialty items not common in Egypt. Because of the famine, they were even more rare.” [18]

    “Joseph’s brothers arrived home from Egypt only to find in their grain sacks the money they had used to pay for the grain (42:35). Some months later, when it was time to return to Egypt for more food, Jacob instructed them to take extra money so they could pay for the previous purchase as well as for additional grain. Jacob did not try to get away with anything. He was a man of integrity who paid for what he bought, whether he had to or not. We should follow his example and guard our integrity. A reputation for honesty is worth far more than the money we might gain by compromising it.” [19]

    “Jacob knew the grace of God, which enabled him to accept whatever the outcome would be in the case of Simeon and Benjamin [v. 14].” [20]

    [37]
    [38]

    Eventide Prayer

    A COLLECT FOR PEACE

    O God, the source of all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments, and that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen. [21]

    Short Verse

    My eyes are open in the night watches,* that I may meditate upon your promise.

    Psalm 119:148
    Section of a fresco in the Niccoline Chapel by Fra Angelico, depicting Saint Peter consecrating the Seven Deacons. Saint Stephen is shown kneeling.
    (source)

    Eventide Reading: Acts 6:1-7

    Deacons chosen to distribute food

    1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

    7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

    Eventide Lesson

    Seven Chosen to Serve

    “The Hellenists [v. 1] were those of Jewish descent who grew up outside the land of Israel” who’d settled back in Jerusalem. [22] “They spoke Greek, were raised in Hellenistic culture, and used the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, the Septuagent (2:5).” [23] The Hebrews (v. 1) were Jewish Christians in Jerusalem “who spoke Aramaic and used the Hebrew OT. There may have been animosity between the groups, even among the new believers, which gave rise to distrust and tension over the care of the widows who were neglected.” [24] 

    St. John Chrysostom noted that the complaint in verse 1 – that the Hellenists’ widows were being neglected – was indicative of “a lack of order among the multitude of believers, even though the neglect was not malicious. Thus, the difficulties facing the Church arose not only from outside,” but also from within. [25]

    Verse 2 says,  And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples… Note that “the term disciples in Acts generally refers to all believers, and not only to the twelve apostles.” [26]

    Caring for widows (and the needy, elderly, etc.) and preaching the word are both important ministries of the Church. However, neither can be expected to be performed well, nor given the proper attention if they are performed entirely by the same people. “Thus, the Church develop[ed] diversified ministries.” [27] This is one of the reasons that the ministry of deacons and the laity are so important. Without this diversified ministry, the Church wouldn’t be able to adequately carry out the totality of its mission. “Note that the servants chosen [for this mission, v. 3] must not only be spiritual, but full of the wisdom necessary to manage the business they are called to do (v. 3).” [28]

    The seven chosen were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus (v. 4). “All these names are Greek. The selection of Hellenists no doubt was a wise and gracious gesture to the people who had initially raised the complaint concerning the widows (v. 1).” [29]

    “While the multitude submitted the names of the seven deacons (v. 5), the apostles were the ones to ordain them (v. 6). Thus, the synergy between laity and clergy is demonstrated in the selection of Church leaders. It should be noted that there is disagreement among the Fathers [of the Church] as to whether [all of] these men held the office of deacon, or whether this diaconate was more service-oriented. In either understanding, they nevertheless received this office by ordination.” [30]

    Our reading from Acts concludes with the news that the number of believers in Jerusalem was greatly multiplied. “This growth only happens when three great pillars of church life are fully in place. These pillars are (1) worship (v. 4), (2) evangelism (v. 4), and (3) charity (v. 3). Furthermore, this growth happens after the external and internal struggles have been addressed.” [31] Also note that the word priests in verse 7 were “Christian converts who had been Jewish priests; they had not necessarily been ordained to the priestly ministry with the Christian Church after their conversion.” [32]

    The apostles effectively responded to “complaints about the relief of the Church’s poor, instituting the office of deacon. Church conflict can often be resolved for the benefit of the ministries, preaching, teaching, and physical care of God’s people. If your congregation is experiencing conflict, take counsel and comfort from this passage. Also, rest your heart and confidence in the Lord, who sends His Spirit and heals His Church. • Lord, let love rule our life, and supply us with pastors and deacons for Your glory and for the good of Your flock. Amen.” [33]

    Compline Prayer

    Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. [34]


    Devotionals compiled/written by S. P. Rogers

    Citations:

    [1] Episcopal Church. (1979). Collects. 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. 232). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

    [2] Author: St. AmbroseAmbrose (b. Treves, G. (n.d.). O God, Creation’s Secret Force. Hymnary.org. https://hymnary.org/text/o_god_creations_secret_force

    [3] Morning Office, Anglican Church in North America 2019 Book of Common Prayer

    http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06-Daily-Morning-Prayer-11.21.2019.docx

    [4] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Psalms. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1582). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [5] Ibid. 4, P. 1583

    [6] A., E. E. (2016). Psalms. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 4006). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [7] Ambrose. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 1590). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [8] Cassiodorus. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 1590). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [9] Midday Office, Anglican Church in North America 2019 Book of Common Prayer

    http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/07-Midday-Prayer-11.21.2019.docx

    [10] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Genesis. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 198). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [11] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Genesis. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 6605). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [12] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Genesis. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 198). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [13] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Genesis. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 6606). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [14] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Genesis. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 75). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [15] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Genesis. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 198). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [16] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Genesis. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 75). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [17] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Genesis. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 6606). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [18] Ibid. 17

    [19] Ibid. 17

    [20] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Genesis. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 95). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [21] Evening Office, Anglican Church in North America 2019 Book of Common Prayer

    http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/08-Daily-Evening-Prayer-11.21.2019.docx

    [22] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Acts. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 1718). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [23] Ibid. 22

    [24] Ibid. 22

    [25] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Atcs. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1509). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [26] Ibid. 25

    [27] Ibid. 25

    [28] Ibid. 25

    [29] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Acts. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 1718). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [30] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Atcs. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1509). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [31] Ibid. 30

    [32] Ibid. 30, P. 1510

    [33] A., E. E. (2016). Acts. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 7980 – 7981). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [34] Compline, Anglican Church in North America 2019 Book of Common Prayer

    http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/09-Compline-11.21.2019.docx

    [35] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Granary [IMAGE]. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 86). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [36] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Slaves in Egypt [IMAGE]. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 76). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [37] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Judah [PROFILE IMAGE]. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 85). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [38] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Ancient Visitors to Egypt [IMAGE]. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 83). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

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