Home > Reading > Daily Reading – February 21, 2024

Psalm 51:1–9 (Listen)

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51:1   Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
  according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
  For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
  Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
  so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
  Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.


Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times people have expressed, sometimes jokingly, a fear of coming into the church sanctuary. Usually it is accompanied by some reference to being struck by lightening. Rudolph Otto in his classic work, The Idea of the Holy, reflects on this experience as mysterium tremendum: a sense of something mysterious that evokes feelings of encountering something daunting, overwhelming, wholly ‘other’—and, with it, an unnerving sense that this holy God is God, and I am me, and there is a big difference between the two.Unfortunately, too often that seems to be the end of it. Instead of “fleeing for refuge to thine infinite mercy”, many just flee. Darkening the door of what should be sanctuary seems just too unnerving or, at the least, too uncomfortable. I have often joked that this is why we Lutherans seem to fight over the back pews. Like Isaiah, there is something unnerving about the holy, shattering our self-definitions of what is good. Yet there is another pole, another mysterium, which is the sense that there is something fascinating, desirable, caring, and comforting in this presence of the holy; something powerfully good.
I am reminded of the line from C.S. Lewis’s, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The children are about to meet Aslan the Lion. They are quite nervous about it and ask the beavers if he, being a lion, is quite safe. The beavers’ reply goes something like, “Oh, no, he is not safe—but he is good.” That line from C. S. Lewis has stuck with me. Perhaps we do ourselves and others a disservice by trying to make God too safe, by seeking to diminish the holiness, so that God is somehow more comfortable on our own terms.
And yet, not too long ago in this Church year, we gazed with the shepherds upon the One who we profess to be God-with-us, in flesh, and in our midst as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Jesus bridges the gap between what we find fearsome, and what is good beyond measure—wholly and holy so. He takes us by the hand into the holy.
I suppose that if we were to convince ourselves that we are actually pretty good, we might dare to come into the presence of the Holy One on our own. But what comes of it if we are aware of not just our short-comings but a deep sense of our sin? Can we keep up our nerve and confidence when we actually encounter the holy and pure goodness? 
 The psalm appointed for this evening is Psalm 51. It rings in my ear all through Lent and not just on Ash Wednesday. After all, we sing portions of it for the offertory, for morning prayer, and I still remember some of the verses from the old hymnbook liturgy. The psalm is a constant reminder to us that Lent is about confessing our sin, on the surface and in the depths of our being. But I would like to focus on just the first verse.
The cry of mercy is rooted in the confidence of God’s lovingkindness. The plea to blot out offenses finds boldness in the knowledge of God’s great compassion. Not only does Jesus by His compassion, mercy and grace give us the confidence to confess everything before God the Father, He is the answer to the psalmist’s prayer. He is the one in whom we obtain mercy, by His death He blots out our offenses. In Him is forgiveness, so we can boldly “flee for refuge to thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring thy grace.”

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with your free Spirit (Psalm 51:10–12).
In the name, and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. Amen.

Devotion written by the Rev. Kevin Ree

Genesis 37:25–36 (Listen)

25 Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

1 Corinthians 2:1–13 (Listen)

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

  “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
  what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Mark 1:29–45 (Listen)

Jesus Heals Many

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.


Morning Psalms

Psalm 5 (Listen)

Lead Me in Your Righteousness

To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.

5:1   Give ear to my words, O LORD;
    consider my groaning.
  Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.
  O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
  For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
  You destroy those who speak lies;
    the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
  But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.
  I will bow down toward your holy temple
    in the fear of you.
  Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies;
    make your way straight before me.
  For there is no truth in their mouth;
    their inmost self is destruction;
  their throat is an open grave;
    they flatter with their tongue.
10   Make them bear their guilt, O God;
    let them fall by their own counsels;
  because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
    for they have rebelled against you.
11   But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
  and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
12   For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalm 147:1–12 (Listen)

He Heals the Brokenhearted

147:1   Praise the LORD!
  For it is good to sing praises to our God;
    for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
  The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
  He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
  He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
  Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
  The LORD lifts up the humble;
    he casts the wicked to the ground.
  Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre!
  He covers the heavens with clouds;
    he prepares rain for the earth;
    he makes grass grow on the hills.
  He gives to the beasts their food,
    and to the young ravens that cry.
10   His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11   but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12   Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
    Praise your God, O Zion!


Evening Psalms

Psalm 27 (Listen)

The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation

Of David.

27:1   The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
  The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
  When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
  my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.
  Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
  though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.
  One thing have I asked of the LORD,
    that will I seek after:
  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
    all the days of my life,
  to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
    and to inquire in his temple.
  For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
  he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.
  And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
  and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
  I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
  Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
  You have said, “Seek my face.”
  My heart says to you,
    “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
  Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
  Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10   For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the LORD will take me in.
11   Teach me your way, O LORD,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12   Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.
13   I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
    in the land of the living!
14   Wait for the LORD;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the LORD!

Psalm 51 (Listen)

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51:1   Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
  according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
  For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
  Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
  so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
  Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10   Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11   Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12   Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13   Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14   Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15   O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16   For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17   The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18   Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19   then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After several challenging years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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