Daily Devotion for January 28, 2017
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 rendition of “The Church in the Wildwood” was recorded by the Carter Family, probably in the 1930s. It won’t appeal to everybody, but it’s an interesting bit of history.
No lovelier place in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.
Oh, come to the church by the wildwood
Come to the church in the dale,
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.
How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To list to the clear ringing bell.
It's tones so sweetly are calling
Oh, come to the church in the vale.
There, close by the church in the valley
Lies one that I love so well.
She sleeps, sweetly sleeps, neath the willow
Disturb not her rest in the vale.
There, close by the side of that loved one
Neath the tree where the wild flowers bloom.
When the farewell hymn shall be chanted
I shall rest by her side in the tomb.
Prayer To Do God's Will Today
Thy will be done. Dear God, I am full of the sound of my own voice, that lump of pride deep within me that will not go away, no matter how I try. Give me the strength through the power of your Holy Spirit to hear your voice and follow it, fighting the temptation to sin that bubbles up inside me whenever my mind strays from you.
Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done.
You have commanded us to love one another, this I know without doubt. And yet all day I am filled with judgments, with resentments, with anger that sneaks in and grabs me when I am not paying attention to you. I pray dear God, that you will soften my heart to my fellow humans, no matter how sinfully they may act, and leave the judging to you, as you have commanded. Fill me with acceptance in place of judgment, sympathy in place of anger, faith in place of resentment. For my judgments and anger are the creatures of pride.
May I do thy will this day, in the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer to Use Our Gifts Wisely
Lord, give me each day the wisdom to see which things are important, and which things are not. Show me how best to use the time and talents you have given me. Help me to use all my opportunities wisely, that I may share, through service to others, the good gifts I have received from you.
To Appreciate God's Creation
Lord God, may all of your creation - from the vastness of mighty planets and stars to the lowliness of the smallest living creature I can see - remind me to live in wonder and appreciation of all that is around me.
Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present ourselves blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Sinai Desert, near the Israeli border.
Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes.
~ John Ortberg
Genesis 12:10-20 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
ow there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, "I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake."
When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go."
And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.
Notes on the Scripture
The veneer of civilization is thin, and as we see rather vividly demonstrated, Jewish morality has not yet come into being; the ten commandments and law of Moses are many centuries in the future. Abram and his band must go to Egypt or starve; but because Sarai (who is probably in her 30s at this point) is beautiful, the Egyptians would probably have killed Abram on the spot and taken her.
And so Abram pretends that she is his sister and gives her to the Egyptians. Delicacy is impossible here; he has, in effect, sold his wife into high-level prostitution so that they might all live. And Sarai must have been beautiful indeed, for Abram gets a good price for her: all sorts of livestock and servants (who would have had a status somewhere in between servitude and slavery). Early monarchial civilizations, although a major step forward from the chaos of minor tribalism, were terribly hierarchical. So Abram, becoming the master of servants, got some social status as well as property.
Steps in the story have been lost; we know only that Pharaoh somehow learns that Sarai is Abram's wife and that his afflictions spring from taking her as his own. The story has many parallels to the later account of Moses, although the Pharaoh seems more kindly disposed towards Abram than his later counterpart would be towards Moses.
(Note on Middle Eastern geography and politics: The Sinai Desert forms a natural barrier between Canaan and Egypt. Despite this geographical handicap, Egypt dominated Canaan in Abram's day, simply because its civilization was so advanced so early in time. As we know from Exodus, at some point the entire Hebrew tribe will be taken into slavery in Egypt. But the Sinai was a formidable barrier to a bronze-age army, and this influence disappeared fairly early, when great civilizations arose with easier access to Canaan (such as the Assyrians). In fact, once Moses escaped from Egypt, they would not trouble the Hebrews again. At least, not until 1967! And even then, the Sinai played a huge part in Egypt's defeat.)