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Daily Devotion for April 4, 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.
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
2. O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us still in grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
and free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.
3. All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given;
the Son, and him who reigns
with them in highest heaven;
the one eternal God,
whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
Music by Johann Crüger (1647)
Lyrics by Martin Rinkart (1663), tr. Catherine Winkworth (1858)
Prayer to be Reformed
Lord God, I have tried in vain to reform myself, and I have failed. Only you can truly change my heart; and I pray that you will do it, by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Make me your instrument, Holy God. Replace every prideful thought with a psalm, every angry instinct with a prayer of love and forgiveness. Let the sight of me radiate your glory, not mine; let every word that comes from my mouth be music from your harp and every thought in my mind the dove of your Spirit. Inhabit me, infuse me, reform me, that I may live only in Christ, and He in me.
Almighty Christ, let me look into that place beyond space and time where you dwell, from where you came and to which you will return. Let me look to you and be saved: Beyond material things, beyond the insistent desires of my flesh, beyond the reach of Satan.
Give me the faith that can save me from despair, the faith that will dissolve my worry and care, the faith that can bring peace beyond all understanding. Let me move every day towards absolute faith in you, for there lies the strength I need to follow you without reservation. Let me find, every day, more and more faith, that I may have an ever-renewing vitality and power, and live in the conviction that you and only you can and will take care of me, forever.
[The faith that saves us from despair.]
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
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.
Attachment to Earthly Things
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
and worship only thee…
~ William Cowper, "O For a Closer Walk with God"
Genesis 21:22-34 (The Message)
The Story of Abraham  - Abimelech
At about that same time, Abimelech and the captain of his troops, Phicol, spoke to Abraham: “No matter what you do, God is on your side. So swear to me that you won't do anything underhanded to me or any of my family. For as long as you live here, swear that you'll treat me and my land as well as I've treated you.”Abraham said, “I swear it.”
At the same time, Abraham confronted Abimelech over the matter of a well of water that Abimelech's servants had taken. Abimelech said, “I have no idea who did this; you never told me about it; this is the first I've heard of it.”
So the two of them made a covenant. Abraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech. Abraham set aside seven sheep from his flock.
Abimelech said, “What does this mean? These seven sheep you've set aside.” Abraham said, “It means that when you accept these seven sheep, you take it as proof that I dug this well, that it's my well.”
That's how the place got named Beersheba (the Oath-Well), because the two of them swore a covenant oath there. After they had made the covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech and his commander, Phicol, left and went back to Philistine territory.
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and worshiped God there, praying to the Eternal God. Abraham lived in Philistine country for a long time.
Notes on the Scripture
e learn today that Abimelech's tribe are called “Philistines”, the first time we encounter them in Genesis. (This is actually the second time the word “Philistine” appears in the Bible. In Genesis 10:14, we learn that the Philistines are the descendants of a man named Casluhim, a great-grandson of Noah.) Abraham, unlike many Hebrew leaders to come after him, lives in peace with these Philistines.
Beersheba is a spot whose significance is completely out of proportion to its size, for it was always a tiny town, struggling to survive at the northern edge of the Negev desert. Annual rainfall in the area is about eight inches, which would make it a true desert, incapable of sustaining a human population; however, due to a freak of geography, rainfall in the surrounding mountains collects and flows to an underground reservoir; this is the aquifer which Abraham taps with his well, and the reason a town can exist there. Still, the population was only 4,000 people as late as 1948 (when Palestine was partitioned).
It is named and renamed “Beersheba” several times in the Bible, because the name can mean either “seven wells” or “oath well(s)”. (Isaac will later dig seven wells there, and the spot will again be named Beersheba!)
The oddest thing about all this is: What are Philistines doing in the middle of the Negev? It is far inland, starting just south of the Dead Sea. But most archaeologists agree, based on the scarce evidence available to them, that the Philistines were a seafaring people, somehow associated with the Phoenicians, and part of a group that attacked Egypt by sea around 1200 B.C. Perhaps Abimelech's forebears had been defeated in a battle with Egypt and had fled, or been sent by a Pharaoh to occupy the area. We will probably never know.