Daily Devotion for March 5, 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.
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
2. O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us still in grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
and free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.
3. All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given;
the Son, and him who reigns
with them in highest heaven;
the one eternal God,
whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
Music by Johann Crüger (1647)
Lyrics by Martin Rinkart (1663), tr. Catherine Winkworth (1858)
Prayer for Purity of Worship
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love you and worthily praise your holy name. Through Christ I pray,
The Great Prayer for Sunday (by Archimandrite Sophronios)
O Lord Eternal and Creator of all things,Who of Thy inscrutable goodness called me to this life;
Who bestowed on me the grace of Baptism and the Seal of the Holy Spirit;
Who imbued me with the desire to seek Thee, the one true God: hear my prayer.
I have no life, no light, no joy or wisdom; no strength except in Thee, O God.
Because of my unrighteousness I dare not raise my eyes to Thee.
But Thou said to Thy disciples, 'Whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.'
and 'Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do.'
Wherefore I dare to invoke Thee.
Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit.
Teach me to pray aright.
Bless this day which Thee give unto me, Thy unworthy servant.
By the power of Thy blessing enable me at all times to speak and act to Thy glory with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage and wisdom: aware always of Thy presence.
Of Thy immense goodness, O Lord God, show me the path of Thy will,
and grant me to walk in Thy sight without sin.
O Lord, unto Whom all hearts be open,
Thee know what things I have need of.
Thee are acquainted with my blindness and my ignorance,
Thee know my infirmity and my soul's corruption;
but neither are my pain and anguish hid from Thee.
Wherefore I beseech Thee, hear my prayer and by Thy Holy Spirit
teach me the way wherein I should walk;
and when my perverted will would lead me down other paths
spare me not O Lord, but force me back to Thee.
By the power of Thy love, grant me to hold fast to that which is good.
Preserve me from every word or deed that corrupts the soul;
from every impulse unpleasing in Thy sight and hurtful to my brother-man.
Teach me what I should say and how I should speak.
If it be Thy will that I make no answer,
inspire me to keep silent in a spirit of peace
that causes neither sorrow nor hurt to my fellow man.
Establish me in the path of Thy commandments
and to my last breath let me not stray from the light of Thy ordinances,
that Thy commandments may become the sole law
of my being on this earth and all eternity.
Yea, Lord, I pray to Thee, have pity on me.
Spare me in my affliction and my misery
and hide not the way of salvation from me.
In my foolishness, O God, I plead with Thee for many and great things.
Yet am I ever mindful of my wickedness, my baseness, my vileness.
Have mercy upon me.
Cast me not away from your presence because of my presumption.
Do Thee rather increase in me this presumption,
and grant unto me, the worst of men,
to love Thee as Thee have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul,
and with all my mind, and with all my strength:
with my whole being.
Yea, O Lord, by Thy Holy Spirit, teach me good judgment and knowledge.
Grant me to know Thy truth before I go down into the grave.
Maintain my life in this world until I may offer unto Thee worthy repentance.
Take me not away in the midst of my days, nor while my mind is still blind.
When Thee shall be pleased to bring my life to an end,
forewarn me that I may prepare my soul to come before Thee.
Be with me, O Lord, at that dread hour and grant me the joy of salvation.
Cleanse me from secret faults, from all iniquity that is hidden in me;
and give me a right answer before Thy judgment-seat.
Yea, Lord, of Thy great mercy and immeasurable love for mankind.
Into your hands, O Lord, Jesus Christ, my God, I commend my spirit. Bless me and all those who pray in faith of You this day; save us and grant unto us everlasting life.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
Genesis 18:1-8 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.
When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.”
So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three measures of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them.
And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Notes on the Scripture
his passage (and those to follow) are a bit of fun, because the three men are so mysterious. They are described as “men,” so they look like regular people. But we know immediately that they are something other than normal people, because we are told that the Lord appeared to Abraham, and because Abraham's reaction is abjectly respectful. He bows himself to the earth, that is, he falls to his knees and puts his face to the ground. Also, he immediately prepares a feast beyond normal hospitality to strangers.
As the story progresses, we learn more and more about their powers. In fact (sorry to spoil the mystery) the three men are God Himself and two angels.
Scholars universally believe that the three men come to Abraham fairly soon after the mass circumcision at the end of Genesis 17. Estimates range from three days to three months. But certainly, God's appearance with two heavenly helpers has a tie to Abraham sealing his end of the contract between them. And we suspect that their is some major event in the works, and that the event has been triggered by Abraham’s immediate compliance with God’s instructions about circumcision.
We also can feel that whatever is about to happen, it is something major; God has brought helpers!
One could easily write a book — a long book — about all the implications of God appearing personally to Abraham and other early Biblical figures. It is very humanizing; one could even say that God Almighty treats Abraham as a friend. God displays many human characteristics in Genesis, especially in His dealings with Abraham.
It raises more questions than can possibly be answered, for we cannot fully know God as He exists.
But there is one thing that comes clear from this and the following chapters of Genesis; God intends that Abraham fully realize that he is made in God’s image. He intends that Abraham, who has shown complete faith in Him and made a sacrifice of his body, have a great degree of familiarity with Him. And as we will see, God intends that Abraham feel enough confidence in His love that he can question Him, bargain with Him, and even (apparently) convince Him to change His mind.