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See part 2...
Pray for the Impossible , pt. 1
, pt. 1
A Jew being the cupbearer
to Artaxerxes, the Babylonian King, is an impossible thought to ponder.
How could this possibly be?
It was an impossible situation...but we serve the God of the
impossible! The Jews are being
held in captivity, and their release seemed impossible.
And the destruction of
Nehemiah was just an ordinary guy w/ a regular testimony for the Lord...and it was just your average day when he heard about the rebuilding of the temple, and of the need to do the same with the walls which once surrounded the city, which now stood in heaps. The gates were burned with fire. The people there were discouraged and devastated in poverty. It broke Nehemiah's heart. He began to weep and pray and fast over it.
v. 4 One of the major themes which emerges from the book of Nehemiah is prayer. The book and opens and closes with prayer. There are 12 prayers recorded in the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah realized there are many things you can do AFTER you pray, but there is nothing you can do UNTIL you pray!
George MacDonald, "In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably." Any seemingly successful person who does it independently of God is above all most miserable! Man is incomplete until he realizes that only God completes him. When we are dependent on God we walk thru life with the most joy, not when we heap things around us as our gods.
Alan Redpath, "There is too much working before men and too little waiting before God." If we took 1% of the energy we put into trying to MAKE things happen and invested that into prayer, we would see an exponential increase in blessings!
Mark it down: This book is about building a work for God, and behind every great work of God there is somewhere a kneeling figure.
All of heaven's power becomes focused on the work of God when the people of God are willing to weep, pray, and fast for that which is truly important in this life.
Nehemiah hears about this impossible situation. He is down but not out. Depressed but not defeated. He has a faith outlook. God's people are not helpless in the face of problems. We do not have to sit idly by and just accept whatever life deals our way. A Christian shouldn't have the negative mindset that there is a difficulty surrounding every opportunity. A good Christian sees an opportunity in every difficulty! But every miracle God ever performed started out with a problem. Jesus didn't do miracles to make good things better. He did miracles to make bad things good. He righted wrongs and fixed broken things. Problems are opportunities for God to show Himself strong.
Nehemiah's REACTION was weeping and dejection...like any of us humans. But fasting and prayer was his COUNTERACTION. God's people have a powerful tool our disposal. It is a most powerful counteraction. It is the mighty weapon of prayer.
2 Corinthians 10:4
Prayer moves the hand that moves the world!
Here is one of the mightiest prayers in all of the Bible.
1. A prayer of contrition.
He understands he's kneeling before the great God of heaven.
v. 5 He isn't coming to God flippantly. Yes, prayer is conversation with God, but always with reverence for who He is. Jesus prayed this way in His example of the Lord's prayer. "Hallowed be Thy Name."
Nehemiah didn't rush into the presence of God asking for his problem to be fixed.
Why "great and terrible?" Terrible here means 'one who incites terror.' It's not about His characteristics, it's about His position over us. It comes from the same root word from which we get the term 'reverend.' So if you call me Rev. Jerry you're calling me terrible Jerry! We live in a culture today where we only want to hear about the love of God, the mercy and grace of God, and the goodness of God. They are all very real, and I'm thankful for those attributes. But if you reject the above the Bible says it is a fearful thing to fall in to the hands of the living God!
2 Corinthians 5:11
We live in the 'no fear'
I'm against today's preaching and music and programs in the church that tries to pull God down to man's level. The church today is saying to the world, "Since you aren't willing to go to the One who said, 'Come unto Me,' we'll bring a more tolerable version of Him down to where you like to live!"
God is not 'the man upstairs' and the new Comedy Central show "J.C." is as blasphemous as they come.
v. 10 Learn from Nehemiah how to move the hand of God and get prayers answered. When you have real problems and impossible situations you don't need a God you can walk up to and 'high five.' You need a God that is so great, mighty, and powerful, that coming into His presence causes you to kneel in humble contrition.
2. A prayer of concern.
Nehemiah didn't pray just because it was time to pray. He wasn't sitting down to eat or taking up the offering or praying any kind of prayer by rote and tradition. [There is a place for a structured schedule and principled prayer and Bible study as a spiritual discipline.] He was praying a real prayer of concern.
There's 2 times to pray: when you feel like it and when you don't. And we especially need to pray when we feel like it the least. And there's 2 times to get into the Bible and meditate on it and ponder its truth...
When is the last time you prayed not because you were called upon or out of habit, but because you were broken hearted and hurting? When is the last time you were burdened about someone's soul so much that you wept and prayed for them? When is the last time you bore the burden of a fellow Christian and took their request on your back so much that you helped carry that burden...and you carried it to God in prayer, believing you could 'pray it thru' for them?
ill.--We're so blessed, more than you'll ever know, by some of you who weep and pray for our son to talk, as if he were your own son! That's how we should all pray for one another.
I'm talking about heartfelt concern.
"We pray without crying, we give without sacrificing, we live without fasting...is it any wonder that we sow without reaping?!"
We are a dry eyed church in a hell bent world.
"Our eyes are dry, our faith is old, our heart is hard, our prayers are cold."
Nehemiah never could have
rebuilt the walls of
Tears are a language God understands. He is moved by what we are moved by. Not talking about the crocodile tears we can work up, but the genuine heartfelt burden that leads us to weep.
3. A prayer of confession.
v. 6-7 The best prayers are the ones that God hears. And He has promised that He doesn't hear the prayers of those who willfully aren't right with him.
Nehemiah knew it was sin
that led to the destruction of
Is your life lying in ruins? Is sin to blame? Don't just cry over your plight. Make it right!
It has been my personal experience that many times God will give you back more for your repentance than you lost thru your sin!
"I've blown it, and I've lost so much, and it can never be regained!"
No! We serve a great God, and He's not finished with you...because you're still breathing!
There's a difference between being sorry for your sin and just being sorry you were caught. Some people only weep over their sin once they are experiencing painful consequences. There is a difference between weeping because you don't like your consequences and weeping because you let down the God of heaven, Who loved you and gave Himself for you!
Nehemiah did weep over the consequences, but primarily he wept over the sin which led them there.
Reread v. 6b-7 [emphasizing 'we', 'I' 'my']
What is Nehemiah doing saying such words? He wasn't even alive for those sins. He was born and raised a thousand miles away from it all.
This is the identification principle. He is identifying w/ the sins of his people.
Things we used to blush
Nehemiah recognized the true fact that when a nation turns against God there is a sense in which we ALL bear some responsibility. We're all Americans, and we're in this together. And even if it is not you personally sinning it is our apathy and indifference which has allowed it right under our noses. We blame our leaders for many things but we elected them. You say, "my vote doesn't matter enough." It's not just your vote, it's your influence, your stand, your testimony!
When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas House, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: link
We come before
You today to ask Your Forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We
know Your Word says, ''Woe to those who call evil good,'' but that's exactly
what we have done. We have lost our Spiritual equilibrium and inverted our
values. We confess that; we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word
and called it pluralism; We have worshipped other gods and called it
multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative
lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have
neglected the needy and called it self preservation; We have rewarded
laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it
choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have
neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We
have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our
neighbor's possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with
profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have
ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it
enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see
if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us
free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the
people of this state and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great
response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer
in protest. In 6 short weeks his church logged more than 5,000 phone
calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively.
This identification principle also applies to the church...
Never a year goes by that a big name preacher doesn't fall by the wayside morally. As a pastor I'm asked about these things often and the temptation is to answer in a way that puts me above that...but not so. I am a man and but by the grace of God there go I!
So, we need a national confession, but also a personal confession. It's much easier to point out sin in others lives than in your own. The beam in your own eye keeps you from seeing clearly the speck in someone else's eye.
Raise your hand if you have something big to pray about and you need God to move in a BIG way. That's your miracle need.
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