The reading for January 9th is Genesis 23-24 and Romans 8:22-39.
In this chapter, Sarah (Abraham's wife) died. He asked the Hittites, among whom he was living, to ask one of their number, Ephron, to sell him a cave at the end of a field as a burial site. Ephron's response is:
11 "No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."
Abraham goes on to insist that he pay the full price. Ephron gives him a price (while continuing to insist he take it as a gift) and Abraham pays him.
While on the surface this may look like Ephron is being exceedingly kind to Abraham, he's really just taking advantage of his grief to squeeze money out of him. Additionally, having bought the entire field, Abraham has become responsible for the taxes due on it, further inconveniencing him.
2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."
An odd way of sealing a promise, my NIV study notes tell me that the proximity to his 'organ of procreation' is probably due to the promise being related to his offspring. Why doesn't Abraham want his son to marry a Canaanite?
6 "Make sure that you do not take my son back there," Abraham said. 7 "The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land'--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.
Abraham still displays a tremendous amount of faith in the Lord. It would also seem that this is an arranged marriage, which is not something that is done by Christians now.
42 "When I came to the spring today, I said, 'O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.
It is interesting to note that Abraham's chief servant does not consider Abraham's god to be his own.
In the remainder of the passage, Abraham's servant goes to Abraham's people and finds a girl named Rebekah. He brings her back and she marries Isaac.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
The gift of tongues?
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Does this mean that only a chosen few are ever going to be saved? Has God already made a decision as to who will be saved? I think, rather, that this passage means that God already knows who is going to choose to be saved, as he is outside of time.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
We should never be discouraged. God has given the greatest sacrifice of all and will be glad to graciously give us lesser things that will help us spread the Good News.