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Daily Devotion for February 12, 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.
Our "Virtual Sunday Church" takes us this week to King's College, Cambridge.
Prayer for the Morning
I call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.
I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.
I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.
I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
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.
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
Genesis 18:1-8 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham 
And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.
When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, "O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant."
So they said, "Do as you have said." And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, "Quick! Three measures of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes." And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them.
And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Notes on the Scripture
This passage (and those to follow) are a bit of fun, because the three men are so mysterious. They are described as "men", so they look like regular people. But we know immediately that they are something other than normal people, because we are told that the Lord appeared to Abraham, and because Abraham's reaction is abjectly respectful. He bows himself to the earth, that is, he falls to his knees and puts his face to the ground. Also, he immediately prepares a feast beyond normal hospitality to strangers.
As the story progresses, we learn more and more about their powers. In fact (sorry to spoil the mystery) the three men are God Himself and two angels.
Scholars universally believe that the three men come to Abraham fairly soon after the mass circumcision at the end of Genesis 17. Estimates range from three days to three months. But certainly, God's appearance with two heavenly helpers has a tie to Abraham sealing his end of the contract between them. And we suspect that their is some major event in the works, and that the event has been triggered by Abraham's immediate compliance with God's instructions about circumcision.
We also can feel that whatever is about to happen, it is something major; God has brought helpers!
One could easily write a book — a long book — about all the implications of God appearing personally to Abraham and other early Biblical figures. It is very humanizing; one could even say that God Almighty treats Abraham as a friend. God displays many human characteristics in Genesis, especially in His dealings with Abraham.
It raises more questions than can possibly be answered, for we cannot fully know God as He exists.
But there is one thing that comes clear from this and the following chapters of Genesis; God intends that Abraham fully realize that he is made in God's image. He intends that Abraham, who has shown complete faith in Him and made a sacrifice of his body, have a great degree of familiarity with Him. And as we will see, God intends that Abraham feel enough confidence in His love that he can question Him, bargain with Him, and even convince Him to change His mind.