Daily Devotion for March 5, 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
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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
The Burial of Sarah, by Tom Lovell
Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If thy heart be renewed, if thou shalt hate the things that thou didst once love, and love the things that thou didst once hate; if thou hast really repented; if there be a thorough change of mind in thee; if thou be born again, then hast thou reason to rejoice.
But if there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then thy saying "I am saved" is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.
~ Charles Spurgeon
Genesis 23:10-16 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Ephron the Hittite
Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, "No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead."
Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, "But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there."
Ephron answered Abraham, "My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead." Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
Notes on the Scripture
The negotiation for purchase of the land is very Eastern in flavor, mannered and artificial. Ephron insists that he will give the land to Abraham; Abraham then insists that he will pay for it. Ephron then slips a price delicately into the conversation, saying that a field worth 400 shekels of silver is nothing between friends, he will give it freely so that Abraham can bury his dead. Thus Abraham knows the size of the gift to give in return. This is witnessed by a group of Hittites, since there is no county courthouse where a deed might be recorded!
There is another oddity about the transaction: Abraham is buying land that God has already given to him! But God has not given a timetable for possession and, in fact, possession of all of Canaan will be bought with blood in the centuries and millenia to follow.
But Abraham, as he did with Abimelech in Beersheba, chooses peace with his neighbors; for the Hittites have given him no offense. Besides, his tribe is tiny and the Hittites are powerful; the day of Hebrew conquest lies far in the future.
As we learned yesterday, the site later becomes a city, known as Hebron or "Kiriath-arba" — these names came later and were added to Genesis. Hebron, which sounds more modern, actually might have come first; it comes from a word meaning "unite" or "friend" in Hebrew; and this sense, of a meeting place of different peoples, is reflected in the Arabic name for the town, Al-Khalil or Ibrahim Al-Khalil, "Abraham the Friend".
These names reflect the peaceful co-existence shown in today's Scripture. It is rather wistful, as the area has been torn by bloodshed continuously since Abraham's time. (Even today, Israelis and Palestinians continue to fight over it.) We do not know how the Hittites were driven out, but it was not likely to be peaceful. By the time Joshua conquered Hebron, it had already been taken by the rather mysterious Anak and his three sons, whence it got the temporary name "Kiriath-arba", the "town of four giants".