Daily Devotion for March 15, 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.
This beautiful sad song, sung a capella by Sharon Mennonite Singers, seems appropriate to Lent.
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,
Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine
O Lord, The house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Your sight. I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare Your servant from strange sins.
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.
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
Genesis 25:1-6 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Keturah
Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
Jokshan fathered Sheba and Dedan.
The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.
Notes on the Scripture
This passage is not very interesting reading, especially after the colorful history of Abraham's life. First, it is full of weird names. But consider, for a second, why all of these names seem so odd, and yet, the names of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca seem so normal. It is because we are the descendants of Abraham, in faith if not seed, and our forebears have been using their names for their children for 3500 years. If, say, the sons of Abraham had been named in opposite order, we would have studied the physics of "Sir Ishmael Newton" in school, and "Isaac" would seem weird and foreign to us. "President Asshurim Lincoln" might have freed the American slaves.
We are tied, by the names we have given our children, to a continuous civilization that is 3500 years old! We bear the names of people blessed by God.
Abraham's relationship with Keturah, and his many offspring, is the source of great mystery and much speculation and debate among Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars. She is referred to here as his wife, and that gives us no problem, because our current culture treats a second monogamous marriage, after the death of a spouse, just like a first marriage. By this accident, we do not blink at the news.
But things are not so clear. The culture of Canaan at the time was bigamous and men were allowed to have two wives, or a wife and a concubine. We might find it implied that Sarah had died when Abraham wed Keturah, but the passage doesn't say this; we simply assume it. Moreover, Keturah is called Abraham's "concubine" elsewhere. And, remember, Abraham was very old when Sarah died, but bore six sons (and likely some unnamed daughters) with Keturah.
Equally mysterious is what became of the sons. It is unthinkable that they were not circumcised; Abraham circumcised even his adult male servants. But yet, they were not full inheritors of the old covenant, for God is to renew His covenant with Isaac.
It is easiest to think that Isaac was Abraham's heir, both of his fortune and of his covenant with God, for it is through Isaac that the Jews (including Christ) trace their genealogy. And it is likely that the offspring of all Isaac's many half-brothers, who were given gifts and sent to live in the east, were eventually assimilated among the many tribes of the vast world to the east of the Jordan River.