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Daily Devotion for March 1, 2017
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, forever and ever.
Prayer for Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, who hates nothing you have made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in me a new and contrite heart, that I may begin this season of fasting and remembrance of your suffering, by truly lamenting my sins and acknowledging my wretchedness. I pray that the ashes we use to symbolize the beginning of Lent may truly remind me that from dust I came, and to dust I will return, and that only by your victory over your suffering is it possible for me to find eternal peace and life. I pray for the grace of Christ, that I may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness of all the sins of this life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Thanks for Grace
O Lord God, I know you demand my complete and perfect submission and obedience; and I have never given it to you, except perhaps in brief moments of prayer. But I know you do not command obedience because you just enjoy telling me what to do. It is because you want to bless me completely, and you cannot bless what you do not have. You claim me only out of love, because you want to bless me with all goodness, with perfect goodness, with all abundance and all happiness, to take away my pain forever. I cannot do this, Lord, but I know that you can, by Your grace.
I pray thus for grace, to make me your own even in my imperfection, through the miracle you gave us in the life and death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I give you all my love and thanks for stooping to remember me, to rescue me, and to make me perfect that I may have your blessing. And it is in His name that I pray,
Oh Heavenly Father, in whom I live and move and have my being, I humbly pray you so to guide and govern me by your Holy Spirit, that in all the joys, occupations, and cares of this day I may never forget you, but remember that I am ever walking in your sight. In Christ's name, I pray,
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
~ Corrie Ten Boom
Genesis 17:15-21 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”
God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.
As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
Notes on the Scripture
s He did with Abraham, God gives Sarai a new name that sounds similar to the old one but has a different meaning. “Sarah” means “princess”; this accords with her new role, as the mother of God's nation. Nobody is completely certain what “Sarai” means or even what language it came from; it could be Akkadian, or even some lost language, since it is the name she brought with her from Mesopotamia.
Abraham laughs at the idea of them having a child at their age, having failed to do so in their youth. He is not disrespecting or disbelieving God, for Abraham is God's true servant (and we will soon see the depth of his faith). But I think most men, hearing that their 46-year-old wife is pregnant, would laugh about it at some point. (The Gregorian calendar would put Sarah's age somewhere around 45-49.)
However, Abraham is sincerely concerned about his son, Ishmael. The phrase “that he might live before you” means that Ishmael might be blessed by God's favor and live in righteousness before Him, something Abraham would fervently (and understandably) desire for his son.
God responds that He will indeed bless Ishmael to a large degree; but it is to be the second son, by Sarah, who will be the patriarch of the chosen people, with whom God will make his covenant.
It might come as a surprise to many people that Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) is every bit as holy to Islam as he is to Judaism. This is where Ishmael becomes even more interesting, because Arabs believe that Ishmael was their patriarch, which is entirely consistent with today's Scripture; however, they also believe that Hagar was Abraham's true wife and it was this eldest son who received the blessing of Allah.
In addition, they believe that Muhammad was the direct patrilineal descendant of Ishmael, much as Christians trace the ancestry of Jesus back to Abraham. Until we reach the split of Ishmael and Isaac, Islam and Judaism are startlingly similar.