Daily Devotion for November 6, 2011
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 "Virtual Sunday" takes us to a black gospel church, to hear an anthem by the Sensational Nightingales.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
When you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
~ Thomas Jefferson
Romans 9:6-13 (ESV)
The Children of God
But 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.
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.