Genesis 13, Matthew 12, Nehemiah 2, Acts 12

Matthew 12:3-5

Jesus uses the phrase "have you not read" to confront the Pharisees' view of scripture.  This is a phrase used often in the Gospel of Matthew.  He uses this phrase to challenge their thoughts on divorce (Matthew 19:4); who He is (Matthew 21:16, 42); and the resurrection (Matthew 22:31).  It seems Jesus not only expected these people to have read but to believe and apply the scripture to their lives.  In each instance the Jewish authorities are questioning the authority of God's Word.  The question before all of us is What is the authority in my life?  What do I base my opinions and decisions on?  Am I primarily influenced by what my parents did or by my friends or by the culture I live in?  The Bible makes it plain God and His Word are the only true authority. 

My God and Father, as I read and study Your Word, may I not only understand it, may my heart and will yearn to obey what I know.

Nehemiah 2:1-8

Just as Nehemiah's prayer in Nehemiah 1 is a great example of an ACTS prayer, here in Chapter 2, Nehemiah gives an example of what I have always called a "bullet prayer".  In Nehemiah 2:4, in the middle of the conversation Nehemiah "prayed to the God of heaven".  We have no details of what he prayed, but I suspect we have all done this when a stressful situation arises.  Nothing comes from our mouth, but our mind cries out "God help me now".  Matthew 6:8 says, "...your Father knows what you need before you ask", yet we are told to ask in Matthew 7:7.

The last statement of this passage "And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me" causes me to rejoice.  When I examine all the events that happened to bring this result, I rejoice in the Sovereign LORD.  Is it not amazing Nehemiah's brother Hanani knew of the situation in Jerusalem and was there at the right time to tell Nehemiah,  who just happened to be the King of Persia's cup bearer and who had found favor in his eyes?  What caused a busy king to notice the sadness in one of his servant's eyes?

Thank You, Father, for providentially working all things together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.

Acts 12:5-17

WOW!  Talk about answered prayer!  I cannot imagine the sense of loss the church felt with the death of James and the expected death of Peter, yet they began to earnestly pray.  The same Sovereign LORD who orchestrated Nehemiah's answered prayer arranged the events that led to Peter's knock on the door where many were gathered praying for him. 

Oh Father, please forgive me for my prayerlessness.  Holy Spirit, stir within my heart a quick spirit of prayer. Constantly remind me of the "orchestrating" God I worship and serve.  Jesus, You are a great high priest.  Thank You that I can draw near to Your throne of grace with confidence, knowing I will receive mercy and find grace to help in my time of need.

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