Daily Devotion for February 20, 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.
Prayer for the Morning
Father, as I face this new day, let me be aware of the work you have done for me as I slept. I praise you that your loving care never slumbers, but has been with me while I was least aware of it; and that you renew me and the whole world, fresh every day, preparing your plans for me. I pray that I may seek your will this day, your plan for my life, and carry out your plan in my every action. I lay my hopes and fears on an altar before you, that your Holy Spirit may guide my hopes toward the light of your holiness, and may quiet my fears with the knowledge of your infinite peace, in total confidence that your grace will save me from the evils of this world. In Jesus' name I pray,
Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus' name, I pray.
May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in his sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
I have sworn to My servant David:
'Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations.'"
The Story of Abraham  - Abimelech
From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."
Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this."
Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours."
Notes on the Scripture
We cannot fully understand why Abraham was so reluctant to admit that Sarah was his wife. When he first went to Egypt, remember, he did this, and the Pharaoh took her for his concubine. It would seem, by inference, that having a sister was safer for one or both of them than having a wife. Apparently, in the lawless dawn of history, whoever had power in a locale might simply kill a stranger if he wanted his wife, whereas a sister could be bought or taken with less fear of reprisal.
Abraham — and again, we are not told why, exactly — leaves the area west of Jerusalem and travels to the largely wild and untamed Negev. He alights in an area dominated by Abimelech, whose name would be lost to history except for Genesis, for he was of no importance. He is called a "king" but was probably more like what we, today, would call a local warlord or tribal chieftain. (There are several other, more prominent people in the Bible named "Abimelech", including a great king of the Philistines and a high priest at the time of David.)
But Abimelech is not a savage and, when God informs him that he will die because he has taken someone else's wife, he pleads innocence on grounds of having been misled by the injured husband.
God has, at this point, fully entered into His first covenant with Abraham, and He protects him. But since Abimelech is innocent for lack of knowledge, God gives him a warning: return Sarah, or face extinction.