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Sunday, January 24, 2021
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Daily Devotion for September 26, 2010

<i>Hagar in the Wilderness</i> by Camille Corot, ca. 1835.
Hagar in the Wilderness, by Camille Corot, ca. 1835. In the vast and unforgiving wilderness, Ishmael is at the point of death from thirst, and Hagar in despair, even as the angel of the Lord comes out of the dawn to fulfill God’s promise that they not die. (See full-size.)



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Lord’s Prayer

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.


No matter what we may be going through in life, our problems are only temporary; for with God, tomorrow is a new day. “The battle has just begun.”

Thanks for God’s Mercy

O  Lord, you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. You have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is Your lovingkindness toward those who fear You. As far as the east is from the west, so far have You removed our transgressions from us.

All glory, all thanks be to You, wonderful God, who has by Your Son put away our sin, and cleansed us, that we might dwell with You forever.


Thanks for Everything

O  Lord my God, it seems sometimes like you want to give me gifts more than I want to receive them, because my life is filled with so many wonderful things that I take for granted. I don’t remember to ask for them and hardly remember to thank you for all of them. Most of the parts of my wonderful body function as they should, or at least pretty well; and it is only when something goes awry that I realize it is there!

Who could possibly remember to thank you for everything? The way my eyes move and focus, all the parts of my heart that keep lifeblood circulating, every minute of every day, without me even thinking about it. All those weird little parts of my brain. The chlorophyll in plant leaves that make my life possible. Nobody could come close to thanking you for all the wonders of life.

So I pray that you will accept my thanks for all the little things that make my life possible, and pleasant. The necessary things, and the beautiful things, and the things that smell good, and the things that make me laugh; everything that I will never remember to thank you for specifically, great Lord, I thank you for now.



[The gift of this day.]


Now, to God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved; to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts, be all love and all glory in time and to all eternity.


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.

endless knot

Why Do God’s People Suffer?

If all were easy, if all were bright,
Where would the cross be? Where would the fight?
But in the testings God gives to you,
Chances for proving what He can do.

–from hymn, “Keep on Believing”

Blue Latin Cross

Romans 9:6-13 (ESV)

The Children of God

ut it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”

And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Notes on the Scripture

Not everyone knows God; not everyone will go to heaven. Paul treats this theme in terms of Abraham and his first two generations of descendants.

Abraham had two children: Ishmael by his maid Hagar, and Issac by his wife Sarah. Although both were his sons (and both were circumcised), Ishmael was sent away to wander the earth, while Isaac was blessed and became God’s servant. This was not because of legitimacy—adultery was not yet forbidden, and Ishmael was a gift of God, conceived with both Sarah’s and God’s blessing.

Abraham and three angels icon

Rather, it demonstrated God’s election by spirit, rather than by blood. Abraham’s sons were not blessed because they were his sons; rather, one of them was blessed because he had been elected in the spirit to be God’s child.

Then again, with Isaac’s children, Jacob (also called Israel) was chosen over his twin brother Esau while they were still in the womb. Although God had promised Abraham a great nation of faith, in two generations a majority of his descendants had already been denied the promise.

Paul is demonstrating two ideas here. First, for reasons we cannot fathom, God knows in advance who will become His children, and it is not a gift that passes necessarily from parents to children. It passes by spirit, not blood. So not all Jews were blessed by the old covenant, and not all Jews would be blessed under the new covenant of Christ.

Second, it is not works that determine our blessing, but God’s choice to give us grace. This is clearly shown in the case of Israel and Esau; Israel could not have been chosen over his brother because of his actions, because he was anointed before they were born.

We often find the egregious sinfulness of the world, especially the modern world’s turning away from Christ, to be painful. We must remember that God knows that all people will not be saved. It sounds harsh, but that is clearly the message of the Bible. We have free will, and God will grant us grace if we use our free will to accept Christ and salvation; but God knows that many will not do so.

<i>Hannah and Eli</i>, Winchester Bible, ca. 1150
Hannah and Eli, Winchester Bible, ca. 1150. (Remember this story from 1 Samuel 1 and 2?)

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Memory Verse

Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

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