Daily Devotion for February 3, 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 MorningFor the bird who sings outside my window,
For the tree that stands outside my door,
For the neighbor who waves and says "good morning",
I give you thanks dear God, for these and more,
Your blessings every morning know no limit,
Yet I often rush by not seeing them, I fear;
Let me take a moment this and every morning, God, I pray,
To see them all and know that you are here.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all humanity, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of people; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in the unity of spirit our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
Oh Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you"; I pray that I and your whole church, the body of all faithful people, will know your peace, and live in harmony and unity, one with another, in accordance with your wishes. This I pray to you, who lives and reigns forever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
And the end of mirth may be grief.
Genesis 15:7-11 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
And God said to Abram, "I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess."
But he said, "O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Notes on the Scripture
And yet again, we are reminded of how ancient the manuscript is that we are reading. The concept that we might worship God by killing animals, and even worse, cutting fully grown large animals such as cattle and sheep in half to put on an altar, is beyond bizarre to us; it is repugnant. Today, Americans, Western Europeans, Indians, and many other societies associate animal sacrifice with hokey, superstitious witchcraft sects, such as Santeria and Voodoo.
Today, in fact, a segment of society considers killing animals to be immoral. There is actually some Biblical authority for treating animals humanely; the law of Moses required that animals be slaughtered in the most humane way possible to them and strictly forbade consumption of bloody meat. This was quite an important law and strictly followed; remember from Acts, that one of the few requirements the Council of Jerusalem placed on allowing Gentiles to join the church was that they cease eating bloody meat or meat from animals slaughtered inhumanely. (Acts 15:27-29)
Kindness to animals, even to the point of not wanting to see them killed, bespeaks a kind and loving heart; but eating meat is not a moral issue in Christian theology, in the strict sense that morals come from God. Christianity neither discourages nor encourages vegetarianism. What Christianity does require is that we not quarrel over it, or pass judgment on one another's eating habits. "Let not the one who eats [meat] despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him." (Romans 14:3)
Note that, at the end of today's passage, Abram drives the birds of prey away from the sacrifice. This is a nice bit of symbolism, for the Hebrews will spend the next 1500 years violently defending the worship of the Lord from a constant stream of powerful idol-worshiping empires. Twice they will face nearly total defeat, including slavery and removal from their homeland (by Egypt and Babylonia), but always they would prevail in the end.