Daily Devotion for February 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.
Brahm's beautiful setting of Psalm 84.
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Prayer to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me. This I pray in Jesus' name.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
And the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
Genesis 18:22-33 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Sodom
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?"
And the Lord said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
Again he spoke to him and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."
He said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
Notes on the Scripture
In today's passage, the remarkable familiarity between God and Abraham becomes even more so. God has humbled Himself to treat Abraham as a familiar; He has taken the form of a man, conversed with Abraham, and told him about his plans in advance. He has traveled with him as if He were human. And now, God negotiates with him!
Abraham is fully aware of the extraordinary situation. "Behold," he says, "I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes." "Behold" is one of those Bible words that nobody uses in actual speech, but we still get the drift; Charlie Brown would say, "Good grief!" And yet Abraham continues, for if God has allowed his familiarity — and indeed, God has created the situation — how could Abraham refuse God's offer of friendly discourse?
Abraham actually preaches righteousness to God! He tells Him that, as judge of mankind, it would be unjust for him to kill the innocent with the wicked; and God accedes to Abraham's argument.
Events are not actually altered by the conversation, for as we all know, Sodom will be destroyed; there are not ten righteous men within its walls. It is included, then, not to show how Abraham convinced God to spare Sodom for the sake of the innocent, but to show that God listened to Abraham. Their relationship changed when Abraham, by faith, showed faith deep enough to alter his flesh and that of the men in his entire household.
And even more broadly, it teaches us that our relationship with God includes an aspect of friendship. God will listen to us; while blasphemy is sacrilegious, we may be bold enough question God directly, in our prayers. Our faith alters our relationship with God and allows His love to fully enter our lives.