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Daily Devotion for January 26, 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.
Hayley Westenra sings Amazing Grace a cappella, live on stage at the New Zealand National Christchurch Memorial Service, following the tragic earthquake of February 22, 2011, in Christchurch.
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.
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 
Now 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 will simply kill Abram on the spot and take 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.)