Daily Devotion for March 4, 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.
Our “Saturday Oldies” selection today is a rare early performance by the Blind Boys of Alabama, singing “I’m Too Close (to Heaven).”
I’m too close to Heaven, to my journey's end,
I'm too close to turn back in a world of sin,
I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now,
Just gotta make it to heaven somehow -
Too close to Heaven, I’ve gotta leave this world of strife,
I’ve worked hard, Lord, and I wanna eternal life,
Too close to Heaven, I’m too close to turn around.
I'm so close to heaven, I can almost see His face,
So close to heaven, I love His amazing grace,
Too close, I get a feeling people a-wait for me,
He loved me so, one day He died just for me,
So close, Mother’s waiting over the hill,
And they tell me, Im’a have no more rocks and rills,
Too close, to turn around.
Music and Lyrics by Alex Bradford
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Prayer to Treat Others Well
Father, thank you for bringing me into your family. May I never disappoint you in the way I treat others. Teach me to show love, patience, and acceptance to all who come to me; let me show peace of soul and firm conviction that your will governs all. And I pray that others may see in me the qualities of character that can only be attributed to your presence in my life. Make my life a window for your light to shine through and a mirror to reflect your love to all I meet. To you be the glory and the honor, forever and ever, through Jesus my Lord.
[I am a member of God’s family, an heir of Christ.]
God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
But the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
Genesis 17:22-27 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised.
And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Notes on the Scripture
t must have been an eventful day in the house of Abraham. Imagine the uproar when hundreds of grown men were told they must cut off part of their penises! But Abraham does not flinch; as soon as God departs, he puts the knife to himself; and then, he successfully convinces every man to do the same, and every mother to stand by while her it is done to her sons.
The promises God has made are enormous; He will give a great land to Abraham and his house forever, and He will be their God. But God wants more than words and burned sheep in return. The one thing we truly own in life is ourselves; and God demands, as part of the contract, some token of faith that cannot be faked and cannot be retracted. He requires commitment.
And what of women? Do they get off the hook while the men suffer? Hardly; for women by their very nature sacrifice their flesh when they bear and deliver children. They will give more to the Hebrew nation than a bit of skin, and it is enough already.
This sacrifice of one's own flesh will find its ultimate expression in Christ and in the martyrs to follow. To give one's body is the ultimate expression of faith; and that is, symbolically, why the rather gross act of circumcision is so important to Judaism and to the theology of early Christianity.
The sacrifice is not required simply of Abraham, or his progeny, but of every male in his household, because it is important to God that the community itself make the sacrifice. The Hebrews will form the most powerful and persistent community in the history of the world and the only one that still exists from before 1000 B.C. A Jew today can speak the same language as the Jews of 3000 years ago. He follows the same basic law, worships the same God — and will still circumcise his male children when they are eight days old.