Summary: The book of Nehemiah is about building a work for God, and behind every great work of God there is somewhere a KNEELING figure. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
Pray for the Impossible
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 Jerusalem also seemed to be a situation far beyond comprehension, and rebuilding it and its walls even less likely. But here is where God does His best work, in impossible circumstances!
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.
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
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!
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;
We live in the ’no fear’ generation. America has lost her fear for the God who gave us this land! And the church is getting forgetful too. We used to fear God and it showed in our behavior and lifestyle. Not talking about an unhealthy fear of a dictator. Rather, we used to be afraid of letting Him down!