"Intercessory Prayer"

17/07/2016 12:53

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Date: 17 July, 2016

Text: Nehemiah 1

Title: The Intercessor

 

Introduction:     

 

Our story this morning is about Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

def. Nehemiah - Comforted of Jehovah

def. Hachaliah - Whose Eyes Jehovah Enlivens

 

Timeline

            605 BC 70 year Babylonian Captivity Begins

            537 BC Zerubbabel leads the return and the temple is built.

            458 BC Ezra returns and teaches the law

            445 BC Nehemiah - returns and builds the wall.

note: Almost 100 years after the Babylonian captivity and Jerusalem is still vulnerable because her defences have not been rebuilt.

 

quote: Whitcomb quoted by Believer's Bible Commentary

"No portion of the Old Testament provides us with a greater incentive to dedicated, discerning zeal for the work of God than the book of Nehemiah. The example of Nehemiah's passion for the truth of God's Word - whatever the cost or consequences, is an example sorely needed in the present hour."

 

The passion and zeal of Nehemiah is most clearly seen in his intercession. He is often in prayer.

 

Nehemiah 2:4  Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 4: 4  Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:

Nehemiah 4:9 9  Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

Nehemiah 5: 19  Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

 

Nehemiah is a great example of an intercessor.

def. An intercessor is someone who stands in the gap to plead with God for His mercy upon His people.

Ezekiel 22:30  And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

 

The church needs intercessors!

If God was to look in our congregation this morning for an intercessor - would he find one?

Is anyone here standing in the gap for their family, their church or their community. What  makes an intercessor?

 

I. The Intercessor's Passion.

exp. An intercessor PASSION has to do with his burden for God's glory to be restored in the eyes of men.

ill. The Psalms are wonderfully instructive on intercession.

Ps 79:10  Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God?

Ps 115:2  Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

Ps 86:17  Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.

ill. The great intercessor Moses

Exodus 32: 9  And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

10  Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

11  And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

12  Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

app. We get interested in intercession when we begin to realize THAT GOD'S GLORY IS NOT BEING SEEN OR THAT IT IS HINDERED.

            A. Nehemiah was comfortable but God's city was not.

1 ¶  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

exp.  Nehemiah was not part of the remnant that returned to Jerusalem. But, he was a patriot who was very interested in that nation of Israel and Zion, the city of God.

note: He would know these words from Psalm 87: 2  The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

3  Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.

exp. We'll see that he hungered to hear good news from a far country.

argument: In contrast to the broken down city of Jerusalem - Nehemiah lived a comfortable life as the King's Cup Bearer. He was a royal servant and enjoyed the priviliges of that life.

exp. Intercession comes with sacrifice. Nehemiah is not just going to pray for God's glory to be seen in the city of Jerusalem - he was going to give up everything he had to make it happen.

app. I want us to remember as we begin that you can't pray well when you hold anything back. If you are going to pray about it, you need to be ready to be part of the answer to that request.

app. Are you burdened to see God work - are you willing to be part of the answer even if it takes you outside of your comfort zone?

            B. Nehemiah wanted to know of the glory of God's city.

2  That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

3  And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

exp. Remember those words about Zion from Psalm 87:2 "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." Those gates loved by God had been burned with fire.

·         The people are suffering great affliction.

·         They are reproached and despised by the people around them.

·         The wall is indefensable.

question: How would you feel if that was "your country?" What if you knew that it was a special place to God and it was in such a derelict state?

ill.  Watching a show that rebuilds classic cars. But, they didn't ask the owner about doing it - they just got a family member to give them the keys and they took it away and rebuilt it. The joy on the face of that loved one was all the reward needed for anyone who put themselves out to get it done.

exp. Do you want to delight the heart of God? Nehemiah did. His heart hurt to envision the sad state of the city of God.

question: Do you see the church like Jesus does?

ill. Speaking with Pastor Bill Lytell - Bonita Springs FL and Pastor Tom Crichton who started a church in New England - they said that in the 1970's in the USA - a church planter could go into an area - gather a group of people and have a building or land within a year. God's glory was being seen in those days. But, what is the state of THE CHURCH (God's called out assembly, the body of Christ) today?

app.  What are we going to do about it? We need to be broken by it. An intercessor get's the heart of God for what God delights in.

            C. Nehemiah was broken because God's glory was not being seen.

4  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

exp.  Nehemiah didn't say,

·         "Oh well, is there any good sports on tonight at the palace."

·         He didn't say, "well that's just the way it is."

·         He didn't just turn his back and pretend like he never heard of the need.

exp.

·         He sat down and wept. (Have you ever cried about something you don't care about?)

·         He mourned and fasted. (You would think someone had died.)

·         HE PRAYED - his intercession began - BECAUSE HE WAS PASSIONATE ABOUT THE GLORY OF GOD!

app.  It may be today that you are not an intercessor because you do not care about the things that touch the heart of God. An intercessor has a passion for God's glory to be seen.

 

II. The Intercessor's Purpose.

exp. A willingness to step into the gap to plead with God.

ill.  The boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, recently died.

In his first tenure - from 1960-1967 - he had 29 matches and one them all.

In his second tenure - from 1970 -1978 - he had 30 matches and lost 3.

question: If you called yourself a fighter and were going to fight him, do you think you'd put your gloves on? You had better never step into that rink unprepared. Don't brag to me about how good you are at boxing when you never put on the gloves.

app. When's the last time you "put on the prayer gloves" to get in the rink with God.

note: You may feel like the idea of fighting against God isn't a Biblical idea when it comes to prayer. But, I would remind us that (although we aren't against God and He isn't against us) there is a very real sense of WRESTLING IN PRAYER.

ill. Jacob - Genesis 32: 24 ¶  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27  And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

exp. Jacob wrestled with God physically and prevailed - and it is an awesome picture of prevailing prayer "I will not let thee go unless thou bless me."

app. The intercessor has a purpose of grabbing hold of God.

            A. He grabs hold of God with fear.

5 ¶  And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God,

exp. If I got in the rink with Ali, I'd be saying, "I'm only here because my friends dared me to get in the rink with you. I don't expect you to lose, but would you please take it easy on me?"

note: Nehemiah (If I can say it this way) cautiously grabs hold of God realizing that HE IS ENTERING INTO THE PRESENCE OF SOMEONE WHO IS OF INFINITE POWER.

Ec 5:2  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

app. Are you wasting God's time by seeking to enter his presence with brashness?

ill. When great men like Isaiah prostrate themselves on the floor in the presence of God, we need to understand that we are coming to a PERSON OF INFINITE POWER.

            B. He grabs hold of God by covenant.

that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

exp. He has no reason to expect ANYTHING from God without this covenant relationship.

The covenant he is referring to was given to Abraham. But it was a covenant of obedience. God promised to be their God if they would love and obey Him and be His people.

note: In the new testament God offers a covenant by grace throught faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

ill. As His people they could expect His protection and provision. Britain has consulate offices around the world for British citizens who need help in that country. If a citizen of another country came asking for their protection and provision, they would be turned away - to find help from their own nation.

app. An unbeliever has no right to come to God - until they establish a covenant with God through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12: 24  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, (But as part of that covenante people - THE INTERCESSOR HAS A RIGHT TO GRAB HOLD OF GOD.)

            C. He grabs hold of God in dependence.

6  Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants,

Notice: "Thine ear" "thine eyes" Thou mayest " "thy servant" "before thee" "thy servants"

ill. Like a young child getting up in the lap of his father and pulling his face around to look at him. He wants the complete focus of his father because he is entirely dependent upon Him for His blessing.

app.  Can you go anywhere than to God for your need to be met? Or are you doing everything in your power to show complete dependence upon God?

transition: An intercessor has purpose He grabs hold of God with fear, by covenant and in dependence. An intercessor has passion - God's glory.

 

III. The Intercessor's Purity.

exp. An honesty about unworthiness to have the blessing of God. A deep desire to get that right with God.

The Psalmist rightly said - Psalm 130:3  If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

ill. Remember those words of Isaiah - Isa 6:5  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.

ill.  If I were to ask a miner, "Did you think about being covered in coal dust when you were in the pit - I would imagine that they would do so infrequently." But if the showers were not working when you exited the pit and you walked home in day light you would think about it then?" Why - because the greater the illumination (with observation) the greater awareness of filth.

exp. And so the one who draws closest to the light of God is most aware of his impurity.

            A. An acknowledgment of the unworthiness of the people.

and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee:

question: Does the church deserve the blessing of God? Are we what we ought to be for God? Is everyone soul winning? Is everyone living in victory over sin? Is everyone tithing? Is everyone working, etc.

ill. In the USA each year there is a State of the Union address where the citizens are informed as to what has taken place in the past year. Hopefully it is an honest assessment.

app. If we were to be honest about the State of the church, we would have to admit - that there is failure in the church.

note: But Nehemiah isn't standing before God just to admit that THE NATION IS NOT WORTHY OF GOD'S BLESSING. NEITHER IS HE.

            B. An acknowledgment of the unworthiness of himself.

                        1. Admission of guilt.

both I and my father’s house have sinned.

exp. He is the leader of those who will fix the problem. And he has to admit that he has failed God.

song: It's me, it's me, it's me Oh, Lord standing in the need of prayer.

1 Not my mother or my father, but it's me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer;

2 Not my brother or my sister, but it's me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer

3 Not the stranger or the neighbour, but it's me, O Lord,
standing in the need of prayer

app. We want to look at others and say,"It's them, it's them, it's them Oh Lord!" Have you taken your sin to the cross? 1Jo 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

note: How can we pray for an awakening without when their has not been awakening within?

                        2. Admission of motive.

7  We have dealt very corruptly against thee,

exp. Nehemiah is very harsh in his self judgment. "We have dealt very corruptly against thee,"

ill. We think taking fruit from a tree that is off limits is no big deal. Would you like to stand at the foot of the cross and tell that to Jesus as THAT SIN STARTED HIS PATH TO THE CROSS?

app. Can you defend your sin when it is "deals very corruptly with Christ?"

                        3. Admission of trespass.

and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

exp. Ignorance is bliss they say - BUT ISRAEL WASN'T IGNORANT THEY WERE JUST IGNORING GOD'S COMMANDS.

exp.  The intercessor doesn't defend trespass by claiming ignorance.

Pr 28:13  He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

app.  Those who would plead for God's mercy - need to put themselves where God's mercy can be given. An intercessor must have purity, purpose and passion.

 

IV. The Intercessor's Promises.

exp. Courage to claim the promises of God with regard to restoration.

            A. You promised judgment AND we see it fulfilled before our eyes.

8  Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

exp. Nehemiah was in servitude to a foreign king. A remnant had returned to the land but the evidence of God's judgment was still evident everywhere.

            B. BUT, you also promised restoration!

                        1. The "if" of the promise.

9  But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them;

exp. Nehemiah was doing that through this penitential prayer time. He was repenting of his sin and the sin of the nation. He was turning to God.

note: Nehemiah has no ground for pleading with God if they maintain the reason for God's judgment.

Ill. Hudson Taylor - praying for God to meet a families needs when he had a coin in his pocket. The man said to him, "If you have anything you could give us please do so." Hudson only had one coin which was his only food money. - "Give to him that asketh thee."

app. Those who interceed can only claim the promise - WHEN THE CONDITIONS ARE MET. HYMN "You have longed for sweet peace, and for faith to increase, and have earnestly, fervently prayed, but you can not be blessed or have peace and sweet rest, until all on the altar is laid. Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid, your heart does the Spirit control?"

            C. Fulfill your precious promise for YOUR NAME'S SAKE!

though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

exp. Notice the extent of God's promise - "the uttermost part of the heaven" even from there.

ill. When an archer hits a bullseye. The target wasn't successfully hit when the arrow lands, it was successfully hit as soon as the arrow was released.

Nehemiah has just HIT THE TARGET of intercessory prayer because he has released the promise of God. The walls aren't up - BUT IT IS AS GOOD AS DONE BECAUSE GOD'S PROMISE HAS BEEN TAKEN.

app. The first intercessory prayer anyone prays is for themselves. Here are some conditions.

1Jo 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ro 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

question: Are you willing to meet those requirements?

"Lord Jesus, I'm not worthy. My sin is awful in your sight. But, you shed your blood for me. You died for my sin and you arose from the dead. Please give me your gift of everlasting life that you have promised to those who call upon your name."

app. Intercessor - are you accessing promises by faith and obedience? We've seen the intercessor's purity, purpose and passion.

 

V. The Intercessor's Plea.

exp. We will submit to whatever you desire to do - but Oh God will you do it for your glory?

            A. We are the SERVANTS of the MOST HIGH GOD.

10  Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

exp. A servant doesn't really have a say. The decision isn't up to Him. He can plead but ONLY WITH COMPLETE SUBMISSION TO THE WILL OF THE MASTER.

ill. The greatest intercessor ever was Jesus who prayed, " And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matthew 26:39

exp. Salvation - IS GOD'S WILL. 

2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

app. But, if you are wrestling with God for something other than His expressed will, intercessors are submitted to what He desires - but there is a PLEA GIVEN FOR HIS EAR.

            B. Please Oh God, listen and answer with blessing from Heaven.

11  O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

 

Conclusion:

 

When you read the book of Nehemiah you find that Nehemiah is a man of prayer. He was a great intercessor for God's people. What about you?

 

Do you have....

1.) An intercessor's passion - are you concerned about the glory of God?

2.) An intercessor's purpose - grabbing hold of God?

3.) An intercessor's purity - a sinner saved by grace and keeping close to God?

4.) An intercessor's promises - are you claiming God's promises by obedience?

5.) An intercessor's plea - God do this for your glory - but not my wil.....

 

Nehemiah led the people of God to victory on his knees. May God help us to intercede for His glory!