Daily Devotion for February 2, 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.
Doris Akers (a friend of Mahalia Jackson's) and her "Sky Pilot Choir" do gospel right in this recording from the 1950's.
Prayer for the Morning
Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup, With every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, The bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, And for the riverside; For all Thy goodness hath bestowed, And all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, And for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown And for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love Which stirred my worldly nest; And for the stormy clouds which drove Me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, And for the waning joy; And for this strange, this settled peace Which nothing can destroy.
by Jane Crewdson (1860)
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Genesis 15:1-6 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."
But Abram said, "O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir."
And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Notes on the Scripture
Abram has a dialogue with God. Consistent with His earlier promises, God reveals more of his plan to Abram, for the earlier promises of a multitude of offspring who will inherit Canaan has left a question unresolved. Abram and Sarai, who are probably over 40 years old by modern reckoning, are childless; they cannot even imagine having children at this point in their lives.
So Abram asks God how much of a reward can he get, since he has no offspring. His statement that, without children, his estate will pass to a person in his household, seems very odd to us now, with our advanced rules of inheritance; in the tv series Downton Abbey, set in Edwardian England, Earl Grantham (who has no son) must scour the country to find a third cousin he barely knows, to inherit a great estate.
Yet again, we are reminded how ancient the story of Abraham is. He is as much a minor tribal chieftain as paterfamilias. His household is a primitive political unit — we know he has 318 men trained to fight. With women, children, the elderly and men unfit to fight, his estate easily exceeds 1,000 people. So really, he rules over a village-size pastoral community. It makes sense that a trusted senior member of the community would become the leader, rather than some distant blood relative (such as his nephew Lot) with no ties to the community.
If you cannot quite understand the last sentence of today's Scripture, you are not alone. Jewish and Christian scholars have debated its meaning for thousands of years without reaching a verdict as to who counted what to whom "as righteousness". The idea that Abraham is judging God, and that he takes God's promise as evidence that God is righteous, simply does not fit the rest of the story.
It is entirely possible that the sentence means "God gave credit to Abraham for Abraham's belief that God could accomplish the seemingly impossible". A modern editor would clarify this, but the text is ancient.