Nehemiah Series - Sermon #3

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Stepping Stones To Prayer

Text: Nehemiah 1:5-11


If there is one area of our spiritual life that is in constant need of direction, it is that of our prayers. How often do we pray due to a repetitious tradition of needed to say something as apposed to actually have something to say that is from the heart and Jesus would gladly put his signature on it?
I would like to present some stepping stones for us by making our way through Nehemiah’s pray that he offered up to God prior to endeavour out to be a part of God’s solution to rebuild lives and walls.

1) God’s Sovereignty

You as God’s child must always recognize that God is sovereign and man is his servant.
This is what would be a proper prayer posture: God on His throne and man at his feet.
Prayer is never about us having our way with God, but God having His way with us.
It is about God guiding and controlling us.
It is NOT about pressuring God, but for God to pressure us.
Prayer is a PRIVILEGE to change everything about you.
Matthew 6:9 “9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Listen this is not just addressing God name…it is about addressing His attributes.
You may come BOLDY, but NOT without the recognition of His holiness and righteousness.
Psalm 99:1-5 “1 The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble: He sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved. 2 The Lord is great in Zion; And he is high above all the people. 3 Let them praise thy great and terrible name; For it is holy. 4 The king’s strength also loveth judgment; Thou dost establish equity, Thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob. 5 Exalt ye the Lord our God, And worship at his footstool; For he is holy.”
QUESTION — Based on how you currently approach God, is this the kind of God you are approaching?
Nehemiah Priority of Sovereignty

This God is not a genie who will give you three wishes if you rub hard enough on the prayer lamp. He is not a doting grandfather with lollipops in his pockets.

Nehemiah Priority of Sovereignty

This One is seated in the heavens. This One is both loving and terrifying. He is both gracious and holy. He is merciful and, at the same time, just.

Nehemiah’s prep. and prayer gives evidence that he had (as J.I. Packer put it) “grasped the greatness of God.”
Prayer is either motivated by you thinking you are great or God is great.
John 14:13 “13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
A proper perspective of God will lead you to prioritizing God’s sovereignty in your prayers.
Boldness and reverence will be balanced.
Nehemiah Priority of Sovereignty

to pray in Jesus’ name means that our prayer should be one to which the Lord Jesus would not hesitate to sign His name.

2) Confession Of Sin

Nehemiah Acknowledgement of Sin

The reason we take this second step is because we have already taken the first step.

Nehemiah Acknowledgement of Sin

Therefore, we cannot tolerate sin in our lives because we understand God’s sovereignty over our lives.

Isa. 6:5 “5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Nehemiah (Acknowledgement of Sin)
Notice the pronouns I and we. He does not say, “Oh, Lord, let me tell you what they’ve done. Man, did my forefathers mess up everything.” No, Nehemiah admitted, I and my father’s house have sinned
He is beginning to confess with a fuller understanding that WHERE HE WAS was not where is was SUPPOSED TO BE....He belonged in Palestine (Canaan and Israel)
QUESTION — Do you want the maximum attention of God?
So, can you acknowledge your sin to God?
Nehemiah Acknowledgement of Sin

Notice he did not say, “Lord, I’ve made a few mistakes recently; I really messed up today … You know me and my indiscretion. You probably heard me tell that little white lie; You know how flexible my expense accounts are, and I suppose you saw my little episode of righteous indignation. Lord, you know how I am …”

God never promised to forgive excuses. He did however promise to forgive our sins!
Confess the full color of your sins to God; NAME THEM!
Someone who wants God’s full attention puts no escape clauses in their prayers.
Psalm 51:17 “17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
It is the brokenhearted people whom God uses to restore a broken world.
WHY??? Well, they are the one who wholly to Him.
Illustration: (Hebrew National Kosher Beef Franks) from the front of the package: “We answer to a higher authority.” Then, on the back, another paragraph read,
You’ve heard the word kosher, but did you know that it literally means “fit to eat”? Hebrew National must follow strict biblical dietary laws, use only certain cuts of kosher beef, and meet the highest standards for quality. For over 95 years, our commitment to manufacturing products of only the highest quality means that artificial by-products are simply not allowed. Kosher also stands for quality and goodness, and that’s why we believe our franks taste so superior. Hebrew National answers to a higher authority—so that you can enjoy the best. Stephen Davey, Nehemiah, ed. Lalanne Barber, Wisdom Commentary Series (Apex, NC: Charity House Publishers, 2012), 35.

3) Confidence In God’s Word

Have you ever heard God’s Word referred to the ANSWER BOOK?
It is not so much an answer book as it is a PROMISE BOOK!!!
Nehemiah is not speaking to a God who provides all the answers, but rather his God who keeps his promises.
Nehemiah Trust in the Scriptures

Nehemiah repeats from memory at least ten different passages from the Law of Moses, which records the promises of God to His people Israel

(v5) He refers to God from the name Yahweh (covenant keeping name)
Reference to the burning bush (God would lead them to the land)
“I AM” is a Hebrew verb hayah of which Yahweh derives from.
This speaks to God’s promise-keeping nature of God.
(v8) He paraphrases Exodus 20:6 “6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
Nehemiah is claiming the centuries old promise from God.
(v8) He claims another promise: Lev. 26:33 “33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.”
(v9) Quoting Deut. 30:2-4 “2 And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:”
Here is the point of all of this:
Nehemiah is reciting and paraphrasing SCRIPTURE.
His prayer is filled with the promises of God’s Word.
Listen, when you grasp God’s Word, it will get a grasp of you.
Having a God who makes PROMISES is much better than a God who merely gives ANSWERS.
Heaven: Titus 1:2 “2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”
Ability to live godly: 2 Peter 1:3 “3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”
You can approach God in prayer: Hebrews 10:19 “19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,”

4) A Humble Spirit

Focus is on verse 11
The last think Nehemiah prayed was a request.
We will see more details in chapter 2.
Notice this: Nehemiah was volunteering to become a part of God’s solution the problem that was in Jerusalem.
Quote: Have you discovered yet that the greatest thrill in praying is not necessarily in receiving an answer but in becoming the answer? Stephen Davey, Nehemiah, ed. Lalanne Barber, Wisdom Commentary Series (Apex, NC: Charity House Publishers, 2012), 39.
Nehemiah Humility in Supplication

One author retold a news story that occurred several years ago.

A young man had come from Korea to Philadelphia to attend a Christian college in the United States. He graduated and continued to earn a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. One night as he went to mail a letter, he was held up by some teenage boys who demanded his money. The young thugs became angry because he didn’t have a lot of money, and they proceeded to actually beat him to death. Later, the Philadelphia police caught and arrested them. Their trial received international attention; the victim’s family flew to the States to attend. At the conclusion of the trial, the boys were found guilty of murder.

Prior to the passing of the sentence, the parents asked if they could say a word. Then, before a packed courtroom, this Korean mom and dad got down on their knees in front of the judge and asked him to allow them to take these boys who killed their son back to Korea. They explained that these young men needed the love of parents and the love of Christ. The judge didn’t have that kind of authority—he explained to them that American jurisprudence would not allow this. While they were denied their request, their testimony shone brilliantly in a dark, broken-down world.


Nehemiah Humility in Supplication

How many of you have gone to your knees before your great and holy Judge—the God of heaven and earth, the God of mercy, the God of justice—and pled for a broken world … prayers that focused on something besides yourself, your life, your problems, your aches and pains, your needs—and volunteered your very own life as a solution? Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to become part of the solution in rebuilding a broken world? If so, you will need the maximum attention of God which comes from praying along the prayer PATH.

We we pray like Nehemiah, we can confidently say those concluding words, “In Jesus’ name, amen.”
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