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Daily Devotion for February 6, 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.
After yesterday's Sudanese church service, you might need the musical equivalent of "comfort food".
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For Each of Us in Our Work
Almighty God, heavenly Father, who makes it possible for me to work and gives every creature its food, declaring your glory and showing your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver me, I pray, in my work, from coveting material goods, from falling into the temptation of serving mammon and putting money in the forefront of my life. Help me to perform the work which you have put at my hand, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as your servant, and to the benefit of my fellow men as well as myself; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived and died only to serve us.
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
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.
But a good man will be satisfied from above.
Genesis 16:1-6 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Sarai and Hagar
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her."
And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.
And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!"
But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
Notes on the Scripture
This history recounts the life of one of the holiest and most revered patriarchs, Abraham, a man of God. It is quite a jolt when Sarai suggests that Abram commit adultery — and he does it! Yet again, we see how old the text is, because the ten commandments had not yet been handed down. Remember Paul's long discussion of sin and the law in Romans, e.g. "I would not have known sin except through the law." (Romans 7:7) Abram lives under an ancient relationship with God, just as Adam did. What God wants him to do, He tells him directly. Possibly the only unrighteousness known to Abram is what would become the First Commandment, the most basic law of God; to worship Him as God, and no other.
A few years after they have returned from Egypt — we really have no way of knowing what "ten years" means — Hagar, an Egyptian girl they had brought with them, becomes the first surrogate mother. Abram is making a subtle mistake here; for God has promised him a son by his wife, so the business with Hagar is unnecessary. Still, God has not forbidden it.
And as always, when we have two women and one man (or vice versa), melodrama ensues. Once Hagar is pregnant, she now has something on Sarai because she is the mother of Abram's child, and she lords it over Sarai. But her pridefulness is ill-conceived, because Abram takes Sarai's side and she "deals harshly" with Hagar. What this means is left to our imagination; beating servants was commonplace, but Hagar was pregnant with a child that Sarai wanted, and she would not have risked inducing a miscarriage.
Whatever Sarai did to Hagar, it was harsh enough to make her run off.