Daily Devotion for February 29, 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
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 for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
Genesis 22:1-4 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Isaac
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.
Notes on the Scripture
Today we reach the most famous part of Abraham's life. It is rightfully famous, for the story is the source of many of the fundamental themes of Christianity: faith, sacrifices, and obedience. Even today, well over 3000 years later, we look to Abraham as the first source of many of our beliefs.
The passage does not begin with God simply giving Abraham a command. God calls his name, and Abraham replies, "Here I am." We cannot miss the implied contrast to Adam, who, in his shame, hid from God. Unlike Adam, Abraham lives in faith and obedience. Thus, he is eager to hear God's voice; and he calls out to God, for unlike Adam, he is eager for God to find him.
Abraham prepares for a sacrifice by burnt offering. Putting aside Isaac's involvement for the moment, the idea of worshipping God by burning an animal in an open fire seems at best primitive to us, and at worst, barbaric. The constant mention of the practice in the Old Testament distances many people from it. It is more difficult to identify one's own life with the lives of the ancient Hebrews, when they did such things. But the law has not changed. God's requirement of burnt offerings are right there in the Bible, in the same books as the Ten Commandments.
Our delicacy about burning an animal on a fire is misplaced; we still slaughter animals and cook them. We simply have someone else do the dirty work for us. In the same vein, many people still cook on a fire — a barbecue grill — at times. But even if we do not barbecue, our electric and gas stoves are the equivalent of an open flame. They are simply a refinement.
Thus, we still do what the Hebrews did; we perform the equivalent act of roasting animals and vegetables on a wood fire. And the law of Moses requires that we make sacrifices to God in the same manner as we cook our food. But we do not. None of us roast animals or wheat in sacrifice, as God clearly requires. Why is that?