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May 2, 2022 Devotional Bible Study

May 2, 2022
Eastertide

Today’s Readings: 

Invocation

O Lord, open our lips 

      and our mouth shall proclaim your praise. 

In your resurrection, O Christ, 

      let heaven and earth rejoice. 

      Alleluia.

Morning Prayers

Rejoicing in God’s new creation, as our Saviour taught us, so we pray…

Our Father, who art in heaven,

    hallowed be thy Name,

    thy kingdom come,

    thy will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

    as we forgive those

        who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

    and the power, and the glory,

    for ever and ever. Amen.

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]

Collect of the Week

O God, whose blessed Son did manifest himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open, we pray thee, the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. 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!

Come let us praise the Lord with song!

Hymn

“Alleluia, alleluia! Hearts and voices heavenward raise”

By Christopher Wordsworth, 1807-1885

Lyrics [2]:

1. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Hearts and voices heavenward raise:

sing to God a hymn of gladness,

sing to God a hymn of praise.

He, who on the cross a victim,

for the world’s salvation bled,

Jesus Christ, the King of Glory,

now is risen from the dead.

2. Now the iron bars are broken,

Christ from death to life is born,

glorious life, and life immortal,

on his resurrection morn.

Christ has triumphed, and we conquer

by his mighty enterprise:

we with him to life eternal

by his resurrection rise.

3. Christ is risen, Christ the first-fruits

of the holy harvest field,

which will all its full abundance

at his second coming yield;

then the golden ears of harvest

will their heads before him wave,

ripened by his glorious sunshine,

from the furrows of the grave.

4. Christ is risen, we are risen!

Shed upon us heavenly grace,

rain, and dew, and gleams of glory

from the brightness of thy face;

that, with hearts in heaven dwelling,

we on earth may fruitful be,

and by angel hands be gathered,

and be ever, Lord, with thee.

5. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Glory be to God on high;

Alleluia! to the Saviour,

who has won the victory;

Alleluia! to the Spirit,

fount of love and sanctity;

Alleluia, Alleluia!

to the Triune Majesty.

Short Verse

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise;* give thanks to him and call upon his Name. 

Psalm 100:3

Morning Reading

Psalm 121, God will preserve your life

I lift up my eyes to the hills—

from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time on and forevermore.

Let us pray.

Lord, ever watchful and faithful, we look to you to be our defence and we lift our hearts to know your help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [4]

Morning Lesson

The Lord shall keep you from all evil.

The hills in the first verse “may be a reference to the ‘high places’ of the pagan shrines erected throughout Israel by idolaters. Pagan worship usually had the purpose of obtaining prosperity in the present life; obviously, this is a temptation very alive today. The faithful must be able to distinguish between the true mountain, which is Christ, from the hills of idolatry that invite us to a worldly blessing that soon vanishes. We must keep our minds and hearts fixed on God “who made heaven and earth” for our strength, protection, and true fulfillment.” [5]

The Lord is your keeper (v. 5). “This is essentially an answer to the question in the opening verse. God’s fatherly protection of his people means he is trustworthy. This fact does not rid us of difficulties in life; rather, it assures us of his constant help in overcoming all obstacles. ‘Our God never lets us out of his sight; he is like a mother who watches closely over her child as he takes his first steps. . . . What consolation the Christian feels, to know that God is always watching over him, that he witnesses his trials and struggles—to know that God is on his side’ (St. John Vianney, Sermon on Corpus Christi).” [6]

Psalm 121 Commentary from the Early Church

Psalm 121:4

“We attribute to God, as it were, every state that corresponds to our circumstances. For this reason, when we are half asleep and behaving slothfully, God, since he judges us unworthy of his observant watchfulness over us, is said to be asleep. But, when, after noticing at some time the harm that comes from his sleeping, we shall say, “Arise, why do you sleep, O Lord?” [Ps 44:23 (43:23 LXX)]. . . . Some others, as it were, turn their eyes away from God because of their shameful deeds and their acts unworthy of the eyes of God. These, on repenting, say, “Why do you turn your face away?” [Ps 43:24 (43:24 LXX)]. Besides these, there are others who have cast out the memory of God and, as it were, are producing in him forgetfulness of themselves, and these say, “Why do you forget our want and our trouble?” [Ps 44:23 (43:23 LXX)]. In a word, people do the very things that are humanly spoken about God, making God behave in ways appropriate to the manner in which they have been made.”

Basil the Great, Homilies on the Psalms 14.2 [7]

Psalm 121:7-8

“[L]ook at the coming out of the furnace and the going into it; “Reckon it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials” [see Jms 1:2]. There you are, you have heard about the entrance; now find the exit. It is easy enough to go in; coming out is the big thing. But do not worry: “God is faithful” [1Co 1:9]—because you have gone in, you are naturally thinking about getting out—“God is faithful and does not allow you to be tempted above what you are able to bear, but with the temptation he will also make a way out” [1Co 10:13]. . . . You have gone in, you have fallen in, you have endured, you have come out.”

Augustine, Sermon 15.4 [8]

Midday Prayers

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

    maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;

    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,

    born of the Virgin Mary,

    suffered under Pontius Pilate,

    was crucified, dead, and buried.

    He descended into hell.

    The third day he rose again from the dead.

    He ascended into heaven,

    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.

    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost,

    the holy catholic Church,

    the communion of saints,

    the forgiveness of sins,

    the resurrection of the body,

    and the life everlasting. Amen.

Intercession: For the Oppressed

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [9]

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

Let me seek the Lord while he may still be found. I will call upon his name while he is near. 

Traditional

Ezekiel’s encounter with the Merkabah and the Living Creatures

Midday Reading

Ezekiel 1:1-25, Ezekiel’s vision of four living creatures

1 In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

2 On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 3 the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians.[a] There the hand of the Lord was on him.

4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.

10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. 12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.

19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome. 23 Under the vault their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. 24 When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty,[b] like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings.

25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings.

Midday Lesson

Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision

“Ezekiel, born and raised in the land of Judah, was preparing to become a priest in God’s Temple when the Babylonians attacked in 597 B.C. and carried him away along with 10,000 other captives (2 Kgs 24:10-14). The nation was on the brink of complete destruction. Five years later, when Ezekiel was 30 (the normal age for becoming a priest), God called him to be a prophet. During the first six years when Ezekiel ministered in the land of the Babylonians (Ezek 1:3), Jeremiah was preaching to the Jews still in Judah, and Daniel was serving in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. The Kebar River connected to the Euphrates in Babylonia and was the location of a Jewish settlement of exiles.” [10]

“Why did the Jewish exiles in Babylonia need a prophet? God wanted Ezekiel to (1) help the exiles understand why they had been taken captive, (2) dispel the false hope that the captivity was going to be short, (3) bring a new message of hope, and (4) call the people to a new awareness of their dependence upon God.” [11]

“God communicated to Ezekiel in visions. A vision is a miraculous revelation of God’s truth. These visions seem strange to us because they are apocalyptic. This means that Ezekiel saw symbolic pictures that vividly conveyed an idea. Daniel and John were other Bible writers who used apocalyptic imagery. The people in exile had lost their perspective of God’s purpose and presence, and Ezekiel came to them with a vision from God to show God’s awesome glory and holiness and to warn the exiles of sin’s consequences before it was too late.” [12]

“Ezekiel’s latest dated message from God (Ezek 29:17) was given in 571 B.C. He was taken captive during the second Babylonian invasion of Judah in 597 B.C. The Babylonians invaded Judah a third and final time in 586 B.C., completely destroying Jerusalem, burning the Temple, and deporting the rest of the people (see 2 Kgs 25). Ezekiel dates all his messages from the year he was taken captive (597). His first prophecy to the exiles occurred four years after he arrived in Babylonia (593 B.C.).” [13]

“Ezekiel’s name means “God is strong” or “God strengthens.” In a very real sense, this sums up the basic message of the book: In spite of the captivity, God’s sovereign strength prevails, and he will judge his enemies and restore his true people.” [14]

“In this first vision, God called Ezekiel to be a prophet (see Ezek 2:5). Nothing in Ezekiel’s previous experience had prepared him for such a display of God’s glorious presence and power. The huge cloud flashed with lightning and was surrounded by a brilliant light. From the fire in the cloud came four living beings. They showed Ezekiel that Jerusalem’s coming destruction was God’s punishment of Judah for its sins. (These living beings are also seen in Rev 4:6-7.)” [15]

“When Ezekiel received this vision, he was far away from the Temple in Jerusalem, the physical symbol of God’s presence. Through this vision, he learned that God is present everywhere and that God’s activities in heaven are shaping the events on earth.” [16]

“Each of the four living beings had four faces [vv. 5-12], symbolizing God’s perfect nature. Some believe that the lion represented strength; the ox, diligent service; the human, intelligence; and the eagle, divinity. Others see these as the most majestic of God’s creatures and say that they therefore represented God’s whole creation. The early church fathers saw a connection between these beings and the four Gospels: the lion with Matthew, presenting Christ as the Lion of Judah; the ox with Mark, portraying Christ as the Servant; the human with Luke, portraying Christ as the perfect human; the eagle with John, portraying Christ as the Son of God, exalted and divine. The vision of John in Revelation 4 parallels Ezekiel’s vision.” [17]

“Ezekiel described two wheels at right angles to each other, one on a north-south and the other on an east-west axis [vv. 16-18]. Able to move anywhere, these wheels show that God is present everywhere and is able to see all things (Ezek 1:18). God is not restricted to Jerusalem but rules all of life and history. Though the exiles had experienced great change, God was still in control.” [18]

Eventide Prayer

Lighten our darkness I beseech Thee, O Lord, and by Thy mercy keep off all the snares [and dangers] of the whole night from me, and from all Thy faithful; from our souls [more] especially, but [even] from our Bodies also, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  • William Laud, Abp of Canterbury [19]

Short Verse

Know this: The LORD himself is God;* he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. 

Psalm 100:2

Eventide Reading

Acts 9:19b-31, Saul joins the apostles in Jerusalem

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

Eventide Lesson

The persecutor became the persecuted

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the once persecutor becomes to persecuted. “The Lord often calls those considered least likely to serve His plan of salvation. Recall how the Lord directed Samuel in anointing David as Saul’s successor (1Sm 16)… Christ instructed His disciples regarding the cost of discipleship. The disciple is not above the teacher (Mt 10:24), and His disciples would be condemned by religious and civil authorities for His sake (Mt 10:17).” [20] “All Christendom is a small group that must submit to, suffer, and bear more than all other people whatever grief the devil and the world can inflict on it. Now who, in view of what they appear to be and are subjected to, will recognize and learn that they are genuine Christians? Reason will surely not show this. The Holy Spirit must do so. He is called ‘the Spirit of truth ’ because in spite of what they appear to be and are subjected to . . . He strengthens and preserves hearts in the faith” (Martin Luther). [21]

“Jesus confronts Saul and converts him through the Gospel and Baptism. Though Saul was convinced of his righteous mission of persecution, he learned that true righteousness comes only through Christ. All we are and all we do depends on His blessing and calling. • ‘Praise for the light from heaven And for the voice of awe; Praise for the glorious vision The persecutor saw. O Lord, for Paul’s conversion, We bless Your name today; Come shine within our darkness, And guide us on our way.’ Amen.” [22]

“Paul remained in Arabia for three years before traveling to Jerusalem to meet with the disciples there (cf. Gal 1:17-18).” [23] “Galatians 1:18-19 explains that Saul was in Jerusalem only 15 days and that he met only with Peter and James.” [24] “Like the people of Damascus, the disciples in Jerusalem were uncertain of Saul and his claim of conversion. He gained enough credibility through his teaching and fellowship that the disciples decided to protect him when the Hellenists sought to kill him. Comfort of the Holy Spirit: It is the Spirit that builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church.” [25]

“It is difficult to change your reputation, and Saul had a terrible reputation with the Christians. But Barnabas, a Jewish convert (mentioned in Acts 4:36), became the bridge between Saul and the apostles. New Christians (especially those with tarnished reputations) need sponsors, people who will come alongside, encourage, teach, and introduce them to other believers. In what ways can you become a Barnabas to new believers?” [26]

“Like Stephen before him, Saul drew antagonism from the Hellenist Jews.” [27] “These Hellenists were not Christians, but Greek-speaking Jews who rejected Christ (contrast 6:1).” [28]

In verses 29-30, “we can see two characteristics of Saul (Paul), even as a new believer in Christ: He was bold, and he stirred up controversy. These would characterize Saul’s ministry for the rest of his life.” [29] 

“Saul’s visit to Tarsus helped quiet conflicts with the Jews and allowed him time to prove his commitment. After Saul, the most zealous persecutor, was converted, the church enjoyed a brief time of peace.” [30]

In verse 31, we find “the first mention in the Book of Acts of churches in the plural, showing that the Church is not invisible, but consists of visible local communities united in faith, doctrine, worship, and authority.” [31]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [32]

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!


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. 173). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[2] The hymnal 1982: According to the use of the Episcopal Church 191. Alleluia, ALLELUIA! hearts and voices Heavenward raise. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/191

[3] 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. 99). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[4] Church House Publishing. (2005). Psalter. In Common worship: Daily prayer (pp. 995). 

[5] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Psalms. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1427). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum, Ignatius Press.

[6] Ibid. 5

[7] Basil the Great. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 2460). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[8] Augustine. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 2460). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[9] Episcopal Church. (1979). Prayers and Thanksgivings. 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. 826). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[10] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Ezekiel. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6657). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[11] Ibid. 10

[12] Ibid. 10, P. 6658

[13] Ibid. 10, P. 6658

[14] Ibid. 10, P. 6658

[15] Ibid. 10, P. 6658

[16] Ibid. 10, P. 6658

[17] Ibid. 10, P. 6659

[18] Ibid. 10, P. 6659

[19] LAUD, W. (1855). Monday: in the evening. In The Private Devotions of Dr. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr (Ebook ed., p. 8). London and Oxford: John Henry & Jas. Parker.

[20] A., E. E. (2016). Acts. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 7497). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[21] Ibid. 20

[22] Ibid. 20

[23] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Acts. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3352). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum, Ignatius Press.

[24] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Acts. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6702). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[25] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Acts. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3352). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum, Ignatius Press.

[26] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Acts. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6702). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[27] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Acts. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3352). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum, Ignatius Press.

[28] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1515). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson

[29] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Acts. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6702). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[30] Ibid. 29

[31] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1515). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson

[32] 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. 133). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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