Daily Devotion for January 25, 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
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of 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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But knowledge is easy to him who understands.
Go from the presence of a foolish man,
When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
Genesis 12:1-9 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.
When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land."
So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
Notes on the Scripture
The history of both Judaism and Christianity begin here. It is where the Jews become the "chosen people". If Abram will leave his father and travel where God tells him, He will bless Abram's descendants, and even more important (to us), He will bless all the people of earth through Abram.
So Abram, who is probably between 30 and 40 years old in modern terms, takes his wife and nephew and heads south. He had clearly done fairly well in Haran, for he had acquired possessions and "people" (slaves or servants) to take with him. The area is inhabited by Canaanites, a people about whom little is known. They were civilized and Jerusalem was already a city of some significance, but they were minor players, a tribal people caught between the great empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Shechem would become a fairly important town, but 4000 years ago it was likely a small and unimportant village. When Abram and his retinue arrive there, God reaffirms his promise and confirms that this is the land He will give to Abram's descendants. Abram builds Him an alter and notably "called upon the name of the Lord". The name of the Lord (generally translated as "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" in later parts of the Bible) was terribly significant to the Jews; they would not even pronounce it out loud. We are not told how Abram knows this name, but presumably God Himself has given to Abram.
Abram then continues his journey south, again, for reasons unknown to us. The Negeb (today called Negev) is a large arid area at the south of Israel; the northern portion is habitable, but it becomes desert as it leads into the Sinai peninsula between Israel and Egypt.