Daily Devotion for February 27, 2012
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Hayley Westenra, a young New Zealand sensation, singing a lovely version of Amazing Grace.
Prayer for the Morning
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
Prayer for Freedom from Fear
O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Unknown Needs
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
And His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.
Genesis 21:15-21 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Hagar and Ishmael
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, "Let me not look on the death of the child."
And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Stand up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Notes on the Scripture
Hagar is lost in a barren wilderness where her chance of survival, even without a child, is negligible. (To see how barren this land is, look at this photograph of an Israeli settlement called "Moshav Paran", built in the wilderness of Paran.) But God leads her to a tiny oasis and, by a miracle of His will, Ishmael not only lives, but fathers a great nation.
The Bible loses the story of Ishmael at this point; we hear no more about him or his progeny. The Koran, however, together with Islamic tradition, states that the nation founded by Ishmael is the Arabs. This makes sense in terms of the few last words the Bible gives us about Ishmael. He learns to live in the desert, getting his food by hunting and his water from an isolated well. This perfectly describes the heritage of Arabia, the Bedouins, a nation of people accustomed to nomadic desert life.
Because they lived on land nobody else wants, the Arabs were not a force in the formative years of the middle East or, indeed, until the rise of Islam in the 7th century A.D. They had no king, no borders, and no religion; they were tied together only by language and culture, and survived as a distinct people primarily because of their isolation.
As individuals or small groups, however, they spread widely through the deserts of North Africa and Syria, and would often appear as small groups in other cultures. There were Arab Jews and then Arab Christians; in fact, even today, probably 10% of the world's Arabs are Christian.