- Numbers 1:1–3
- :1-51 Mark 3:1-35
Today's Scripture: Ephesians 3:14–21
Because Paul led the Ephesian believers to faith (Acts 19:1–10), he considers them his spiritual children and is unwaveringly committed to pray fervently for their spiritual growth (see Philippians 1:3–6; 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12). Ephesians 3:14–21 is one of the few recorded prayers of Paul in the New Testament (see also Philippians 1:9–11; Colossians 1:9–12), and is the second of two prayers in Ephesians (also Ephesians 1:15–23). In these prayers, Paul doesn’t pray for their material well-being but focuses on their spiritual development and maturity.
In the first prayer, which emphasizes knowledge, Paul prays they’ll have “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” so that they may “know the hope to which [God] has called [them]” (Ephesians 1:17–18). In his second prayer (Ephesians 3:14–21), he focuses on love and prays that having been “rooted and established in love” they’ll “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17–18).
By: Rev. Lynwood F. Mundy
Appreciation of the Mystery
14 For this reason, I bow my knees to the (Eph. 1:3) Father (NU omits of our Lord Jesus Christ) of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 that He would grant you, [Eph. 1:7; 2:4; Phil. 4:19] according to the riches of His glory, (1 Cor. 16:13; Phil. 4:13; Col. 1:11) to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in (Rom. 7:22) the inner man,
17 (John 14:23; Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 13:5; [Eph. 2:22]) that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, (Col. 1:23) being rooted and grounded in love,
18 (Eph. 1:18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints (Rom. 8:39) what is the width and length and depth and height—
19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled (Eph. 1:23) with all the fullness of God.
20 Now (Rom. 16:25) to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly (1 Cor. 2:9) above all that we ask or think, (Col. 1:29) according to the power that works in us,
21 (Rom. 11:36) to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.
I was “[roughhousing]” in the living room with my brother when I knocked over one of my mother’s ornamental coal-oil lamps off of the mantle. I tried to catch it, but couldn’t, and it shattered into a zillion pieces.
I cleaned up the mess but knew I could never replace the broken lamp. I can still see the look of disappointment in my mother’s eyes when she discovered my mischief.
A broken lamp is useless, but some things need to be broken before they are useful.
A farmer doesn’t plant his crop in cement, rather, he chooses good soil, breaks it up, and then sows the seed. Unbroken soil does not produce abundant crops, but cultivated soil incubates life. A butterfly could never flutter in the spring air without breaking its cocoon, neither could an eaglet emerge without breaking its shell.
Jesus could not feed the five thousand until he broke the bread (Mark 8:1–8). The sinful woman could not pour the costly perfume over Jesus until she broke the alabaster box (Luke 7:37). God could not reconcile Himself to [the] sinful man until he broke down the wall that separated us and Him (Ephesians 2:14). We can never know salvation without Jesus’ broken body (1 Corinthians 11:24).
We are not useful until we are broken. David wrote: “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17 NLT).
Wilson, Jim L. Fresh Start Devotionals. Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009. Print.
Friday, February 21, 2020, | Triodion and Great Lent
Old Testament Zechariah 8:7–14
Old Testament Zechariah 8:19–23
Byzantine Lectionary (Gregorian). Faithlife; Bellingham, WA, 2015; 2015. Print.
Fri, Feb 21, 2020 (Feb 8, 2020) | Triodion and Great Lent
Epistle 2 John 1–13
Gospel Mark 15:22–25, 33–41
Byzantine Lectionary (Julian). Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016. Print.
Friday, February 21, 2020, | Triodion and Great Lent
Epistle 2 John 1–13
Gospel Mark 15:22–25, 33–41
Byzantine Lectionary (Revised Julian). Faithlife; Bellingham, WA, 2015; 2015. Print.
Friday, February 21, 2020, | Ordinary Time
Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Year 2 | Roman Missal | Lectionary
On the same date: Saint Peter Damian, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church
First Reading James 2:14–24, 26
Response Psalm 112:1b
Psalm Psalm 112:1–6
Gospel Acclamation John 15:15b
Gospel Mark 8:34–9:1
Catholic Daily Readings. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2009. Print.
Friday, February 21, 2020, | Epiphany
Friday of the Sixth Week after Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 102
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 107:1–32
Old Testament Genesis 32:22–33:17
New Testament 1 John 3:1–10
Gospel John 10:31–42
The Episcopal Church. Book of Common Prayer Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2010. Print.
Friday, February 21, 2020, | Pre-Lenten Season
Friday after Sexagesima
On the same date: Friday after Sexagesima, Evening Prayer
Psalm Psalm 22
First Reading Genesis 11:27–12:8
Second Reading Mark 9:14–29
Episcopal Church. Book of Common Prayer (1928) Daily Office Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016. Print.
Friday, February 21, 2020, | Epiphany
Friday before the Transfiguration of the Lord
Psalm Psalm 2
First Reading Exodus 19:9b–25
Second Reading Hebrews 11:23–28
Consultation on Common Texts. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2011. Print.
February 21: Grace among the Graphic
Leviticus 9–11; John 7:53–8:11; Song of Solomon 6:6–10
“Then he slaughtered the burnt offering, and Aaron’s sons brought the blood to him, and he sprinkled it on the altar all around; and they brought the burnt offering to him by its pieces, as well as the head, and he burned them on the altar” (Lev 9:12–13). There are graphic scenes like this throughout the Bible, especially in Leviticus. But they act as a reminder of what sacrifice looks like and what it really means.
Even though Jesus would ultimately make the greatest sacrifice of all—laying down His life for the sins of others—He did not hold people’s sins against them. Although Jesus understood that He would be brutalized like the animals sacrificed during Aaron’s day, He chose to forgive people. When a woman “caught in adultery” was brought before Jesus, He did not sentence her to death, as was demanded by the Jewish authorities and laws of His time. Instead, He said, “The one of you without sin, let him throw the first stone at her!” (John 8:7). And Jesus says the same to us today. Only those without sin can throw a stone or cast judgment on others—and that’s none of us.
We shouldn’t use this as an excuse, though. We shouldn’t say, “What happens between you and God and between you and others is up to you.” Instead, we must call each other forward to follow Christ. Jesus has forgiven us, but this doesn’t excuse our sins. Similarly, we can’t use Jesus’ graciousness as an excuse to continue sinning.
We must remember [the] grace and offer that grace to one another. Indeed, we must not judge, but we must not excuse sin in the process. In being gracious both to ourselves and others, we must remember why we have the ability to do so: Jesus died the brutal death of a sacrifice. It was His body that was torn apart and His flesh that was flung. (It’s just as harsh as it sounds.)
I don’t say any of this to make us feel guilty, but to remind all of us of the price Jesus paid for our freedom.
Jesus died so that we could be one with God, not so that we could continue to sin against the God He unified us with. As Jesus says at the end of this scene, after everyone had left, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).
In what ways are you misappropriating grace?
John D. Barry
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, February 21 Go To Evening Reading
“He hath said.”
If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God’s covenant? Will, not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide beneath the bulwark of “He hath said”? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude or for strength in our conflict, “He hath said” must be our daily resort. And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great [pharmacopeia] of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He hath said.” Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since “He hath said” is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as “A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.
Go To Morning Reading Evening, February 21
“Understandest thou what thou readest?”
We should be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Ghost, the Author of the Scriptures is he who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask his teaching, and his guidance into all truth. When the prophet Daniel would interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, what did he do? He set himself to earnest prayer that God would open up the vision. The apostle John, in his vision at Patmos, saw a book sealed with seven seals which none was found worthy to open, or so much as to look upon. The book was [afterward] opened by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to open it; but it is written first—“I wept much.” The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were, so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the folded book was opened. Therefore, if, for your own and others’ profiting, you desire to be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” remember that prayer is your best means of study: like Daniel, you shall understand the dream, and the interpretation thereof, when you have sought unto God; and like John you shall see the seven seals of precious truth unloosed after you have wept much. Stones are not broken, except by an earnest use of the hammer; and the stone-breaker must go down on his knees. Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised, and there is not a stony doctrine in [the] revelation which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith. You may force your way through anything with the leverage of prayer. Thoughts and reasonings are like the steel wedges which give a hold upon truth; but prayer is the lever, the prise which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within.
Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896. Print.
Have you ever been carried away for Him?
She hath wrought a good work on Me. Mark 14:6.
If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, [it's] not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it [isn't loved at all]. It may be affection, it may be [the] warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.
Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I mooning round the magnitude of His Redemption whilst there [is] any number of things I might be doing? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as [marvelous], but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?
There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. [Abandonment] to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God. We have to get rid of this notion—‘Am I of any use?’ and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him, actions are weighed
1 Sam. 2:3
God does not measure what we bring to Him. He weighs it.
Mark Guy Pearse