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Daily Devotion for January 31, 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 old recording seems appropriate to the Scripture for today.
Prayer for the Morning
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
Prayer for Personal Conduct (from 1 Timothy)
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and not violent, but gentle. May I never be quarrelsome, always seeking peace even in disagreement, and may my love be for you and my fellow man, not for money. I pray that I manage my own household well. If I have any children in my charge, I pray to that I may take the time to see that they are in control and behaving with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. This I pray through my Lord Christ, whose love and attention ever gave us an example of conduct,
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
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.
But its end is the way of death.
Genesis 14:13-16 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner.
These were allies of Abram.
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus.
Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.
Notes on the Scripture
We have discussed several times how old the events of Genesis are and how small, in modern terms, the numbers of people were. Here, the Bible gives us a vivid demonstration, for Abram pursues and defeats the mighty army of Elam and its confederates with an "army" of 318 men. This number seems small even for that time, however; most likely, Mamre and his brothers are mentioned because all of them contributed soldiers. The campaign would have taken some time, for they pursued their enemies all the way to Damascus on foot, perhaps 100 miles through difficult terrain.
We learn enough to be able to fill in some of the sketchy details about Abram's early life. He had become a rich and powerful leader: The verse tells us the army was his trained men, "born in his house", which means not only that he had a great number of followers, but also that they were sufficiently independent and well-organized to train men as soldiers.
Moreover, Abram is apparently acting as a general and devises a tactic to win back his nephew Lot. The army led by Elam took Lot's entire people as slaves — men, women, children and all their possessions. Abram personally leads the campaign to free them.
Unlike many of the tribes involved, archaeologists know quite a bit about the Amorites. There were a lot of them, a nomadic Semitic people who came from unknown regions (most likely Syria) and played havoc with the politics of Mesopotamia. They never organized into a truly great empire, for they were independent-minded.
They eventually formed a number of small kingdoms but they were gradually picked off and absorbed by greater empires, including the Hebrews; for many centuries later, Joshua would conquer and absorb a number of Amorite cities in the creation of Israel.
Abram did well to make peace with them, for Mamre must have been fairly powerful; remember, when Abram first left Ur, he stopped at the "oaks of Mamre" and built his first altar to the Lord, and dwelt nearby for many years until driven to Egypt by famine; so Mamre must have already been prominent when Abram and his family were no more than a family wandering in search of a home.