Daily Devotion for March 21, 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.
This pretty hymn is sung by the choir of the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School in Singapore.
Prayer for the Morning
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ 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,
Prayer for Renewal
Lord, I am one of your people, the sheep of your flock. I pray for you to heal those who are wounded; touch those who are in pain; clean those who are soiled; warm those who are cold; help me to know the Father's love through Jesus the shepherd, and through the Spirit.
Help me to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help me to build love on justice and justice on love. Help me to believe mightily, hope joyfully, and love divinely. Renew me that I may help renew the face of the earth.
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.
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Genesis 26:6-11 (ESV)
The Story of Isaac  - Abimelech
So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah," because she was attractive in appearance.
When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, 'She is my sister'?"
Isaac said to him, "Because I thought, 'Lest I die because of her.'"
Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us." So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, "Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
Notes on the Scripture
The apple does not fall far from the tree, as they say; just like his father Abraham, Isaac resorts to pretending that his beautiful wife Rebekah is his sister while living among the Philistines in southern Canaan, for fear that he will be slain by someone who desires her. This gives us, by inference, a peek into the ancient moral code of this very early civilization. A husband would defend his wife's chastity with his life, but a sister might be seduced without risking being killed by her brother.
One might say that there were almost no sexual "morals" at all. The only real condemnation we have seen of sexual conduct is that Lot would not allow the townspeople of Sodom to rape the men sent from God (actually angels) and, in fact, offered his daughters in their place. But whether this was because homosexuality was considered grievously immoral, or whether it was meant to show Lot's respect for the angels — that he would rather see even his own daughters raped than God's angels — is impossible to say.
Guarding the chastity of one's wife can hardly be said to be a moral imperative during this period; it is rather a biological imperative, common to all major cultures. Men seek by their nature to propagate their own genes, by their nature, and thus guard their wife (or wives) from other men. And that practical nature is seen in Abraham and Isaac. They did not seek to prevent adultery as a matter of morals, that is, as a matter of righteousness before God. Abraham actually gave his wife over to Pharaoh.
Sexual morals as we know them — the regulation of desire and conduct as an act of obedience to God's will — simply did not exist in Isaac's day, or else existed in their most elementary form. It was the Hebrews living under the law of Moses who gradually developed the morals that have come down to us today. Remember, in Paul's day, the sexual practices of the Gentiles were so distasteful to the Jews that the Christian Jews did not want to let Gentiles into their churches.