Genesis 12, Matthew 11, Nehemiah 1, Acts 11

Genesis 12:11-20

God involves Himself uniquely in the lives of Abram and Sarai.  Abram asked Sarai to lie to protect himself (Genesis 20:12 shows this to be a half-truth), but God protects them by inflicting disease on Pharaoh’s household. 

Thank You, Father, that I can now look back at my life and see Your protecting hand even as I lived in rebellion against You.

Matthew 11:2-6

I am encouraged by God's honest portrayal of the saints in His Word.  John, who recognized Jesus even before he was born (Luke 1:44), struggles with his doubts as he sits in prison.  But, he pursues Jesus with his question, "Are you the One?".  Jesus responds by describing what the Old Testament said the Promised One would do (Isaiah 35:5-6, 61:1).  My heart breaks for John when I read this passage.  He must have asked himself, "Have I run in vain?".  Sometimes I struggle with the same question.  In Isaiah 49:1-5, the Messiah struggles with the same issue.  In Isaiah 49:4 he says "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with God".  Even though the Messiah expressed concern of accomplishing nothing, He trusted God knowing it was in His hand and His reward was with God. 

Thank you, Jesus, for answering my doubts and questions just like You did John's--through Your Word.  

Nehemiah 1:5-11

A good method of prayer is the acronym ACTS (A is for acknowledge/adore, C is for confession, T is for thanksgiving, S is for supplication, asking God for something).  Nehemiah's prayer is a great example of an ACTS prayer.  In verse 5, Nehemiah acknowledges who God is and adores Him for who He is and what He does.  In verse 6, he confesses not only the sins of the nation but his and his family's sins. He describes the sin as corrupt and wicked action for not keeping God's instruction.  In verses 8-9, he is thankful for God's promise to restore the people if they return. Finally, in verse 11, Nehemiah makes his request of God, "give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man".

O LORD God of heaven, You are a great and awesome God.  You are the One who makes and keeps promises.  Please be attentive to my prayer for those who are studying Your word this year.  I quickly admit our tendency to be lackadaisical and lazy about pursuing You through Your word.  But we have covenanted together to draw near to You in 2017.  Just as You promise to draw near to those who draw near to You, we ask for Your Spirit's encouragement in our feeble efforts to glorify You as You are worthy.  Thank You for hearing our prayer.

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