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Sunday, October 23, 2016

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Daily Devotion for October 31, 2012

Halloween (All Hallows Eve)

The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve, Cain flees, devotional painting by William Blake c. 1826
The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve, William Blake c. 1826



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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 God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.

I open my body to you and give thanks for your life that fills and warms every cell of it.

I open my eyes and ears to you and give thanks for the light of your Word, without which I would live in the shadow of ignorance.

I open my heart to you and give thanks for your love that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace.

I open my soul to you and give thanks for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.

All that I am, I open to you, I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.


For Each of Us in Our Work

Almighty God, heavenly Father, who makes it possible for me to work and who gives every creature its food, declaring your glory and showing your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver me, I pray, in my work, from coveting material goods, from falling into the temptation of serving mammon and putting money in the forefront of my life. Help me to perform the work which you have put at my hand, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as your servant, and to the benefit of my fellow men as well as myself; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived and died only to serve us.



And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Forgiveness of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt van Rijn
Forgiveness of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1669

"As the sun can be seen only by its own light, so Christ can be known only by His own Spirit."

~ Robert Leighton

Blue Latin Cross

Genesis 4:1-12

Cain and Abel

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man." Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

The Lord said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."

Notes on the Scripture

Just as it is often said that "Life is unfair", God can be "unfair". "Fairness" is a human concept that defies full explanation, because it has entitlement at its root. Something in our nature tells us that, if somebody else has something, we are entitled to have it, also.

The idea of fairness may be a good guide for us when we are called upon to judge something, but when used as a complaint against the acts of nature or God, it is tainted by pride and covetousness. Instead of accepting and learning, we want to impose our own ideas; and such an attitude leads to dire consequences. This is the lesson of Cain and Abel. And it occurs early in the Bible, because it is a lesson we need to learn early in life.

God did not look with favor Cain's offering; we don't know why. Some theologians have inferred that Abel brought the best of his flock, while Cain simply brought a middling quality from his harvest, but consider what they are doing: changing the Bible, to harmonize it with their own concept of fairness. The Bible does not give God's reason. God is, after all, God. He does not owe us an explanation. If we think God treated Cain unfairly, it is our concept of fairness that needs examination, not God's actions.

Titian painting of Cain (Kain) and Abel, Bible story

But the reason for God's favoritism is not the point of the story. Although God looked with more favor on Abel's offering, He still accepted Cain. But Cain was filled with pride and jealousy. One can almost hear him say, "This isn't fair and I'm not going to stand still for it." And his self-righteousness led him to the terrible sin of murder, for which he was cast out of society and cursed in the sight of God.

Christ taught the same lesson repeatedly. For example, in the parable of the laborers of the vineyard: "When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.'". (Matthew 20:1-16) The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) might be even better-known.

The Bible tells us repeatedly that "fear of God is the beginning of wisdom," e.g. Proverbs 9:10. It emphatically does not tell us that our personal concept of fairness is the beginning of wisdom. If we believe in God, it must occur to us that He knows something we don't! We must always approach our study of the Bible with a desire to learn and become obedient to God's will, because this is our only chance to overcome the sin and ignorance into which were born.

endless knot

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Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

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