Daily Devotion for February 10, 2012
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.
It is surprisingly hard to find a good recording of Go Down Moses. You can hear the pain of black slavery in every note of this version by Doris Akers.
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.
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
As 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 Muhammed was the direct patrilineal descendant of Ishamael, much as Christians trace the ancestry of Jesus back to Abraham. Indeed, until we reach the split of Ishmael and Isaac, Islam and Judaism are startlingly similar.