Daily Devotion for March 20, 2012
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Country singer Alan Jackson does a nice job with "How Great Thou Art"
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son. May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in us the fear of you and confirm in us love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Never put a question mark where the Lord has put a period.
Genesis 26:1-5 (ESV)
The Story of Isaac  - Abimelech
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
And the Lord appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands.
And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."
Notes on the Scripture
Several times in the Old Testament there are famines and people will travel to Egypt to find food. Water is scarce and precious in the Middle East, and the basin for its rivers and wells is small. One or two years of poor rainfall in the mountains will doom the valleys to dry wells and brown grass.
Although Egypt is close to Canaan geographically, its source of water is thousands of miles away; it depends almost entirely on the Nile River, which channels water from rainfall in places as distant as the Congo, Tanzania and Kenya. The Nile does have comparatively dry years and famine, but because its source of water is so far away, it is not in the same general weather system as the Middle East. Although the two areas are adjacent, their water sources are not dependent on the same weather. And so, they do not usually have famines at the same time. They are functionally, as well as literally, on different continents.
This is why, so often, famine in Biblical Canaan will drive people to Egypt, or vice versa; Egypt is not likely to be affected by the conditions that create famine in Asia Minor. In today's lesson, where famine has once again struck Isaac's Canaan as it once did Abraham's, he has the same thought as his father had had: go to Egypt.
But the Lord stops him. Although we don't know exactly where Gerar was, it was somewhere just north of the Negev desert. You might remember that the area is an odd outpost of Philistines ruled by Abimelech. But these early Philistines are not enemies. In fact, Abraham had lived there and, at the end of Genesis 21, had made a formal covenant of peace with Abimelech.
God does not want Isaac to go to Egypt, but to stay in the land which He had promised to Abraham and Isaac; and so Isaac obeys, and stops his journey in Gerar.