The Prayer of Nehemiah
Some of the most remarkable passages in the Bible that have been recorded for us are prayers. In Nehemiah chapter 1 we find a prayer contained in verses 4-11 which would be answered some four months later. No doubt as we would study the book of Nehemiah this prayer was perhaps one of many that transpired in the months leading up to king Artaxerxes’ releasing Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem.
While so much could be dealt with looking at Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter 1, the last portion in verse 11 shows us something wonderful and encouraging concerning the faith that Nehemiah had.
Please make note of the following verse:
v11 “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.”
Nehemiah as he closes his prayer recognizes by faith something we should all keep in mind. His prayer as illustrious as it is, concludes with the truth that he is one of many. Nehemiah exhibited great faith that there were others praying even as he was doing at that very moment.
Too often we are tempted to think that we are all alone in the fight of faith. We become overwhelmed by the reports that we hear.
Nehemiah had received such a report from Hanani. When Nehemiah asked how things faired concerning Jerusalem, the news received was depressing to say the least.
v3 “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.”
The situation it seemed was hopeless. This of course spawned the contrition in his heart found in the following verse (v4), which led to fasting and prayer. Nehemiah knew the situation was bleak, but he also knew God was great and always has a remnant.
Spurgeon in his comments on this very phrase puts it this way, “There are other good people elsewhere in the world who are as earnest in prayer as we are. If we begin to suppose that we are the only ones left who hold sound doctrine, we will become bigots. And if we think we are the only praying persons on the earth, we will most likely prove to be self-righteous. If we fancy we are the only ones who have a deep spiritual experience, we will probably be doing a great wrong to the Lord’s other servants and speaking evil of those he has accepted. It is far better to believe with Nehemiah that our prayerful voice is not a solitary one and that there are many who, like ourselves, cry day and night to God.” – Charles Spurgeon
Remember the great strait that Elijah found himself in when he declared, “and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (I Kings 19:10b) And yet the LORD declared, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18)
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
The Eye of the Pharisee
The sin of Phariseeism! Every once in a while, I preach or teach on this subject because it's a sin that remains a problem in our church. Phariseeism! You will not find that word in your dictionary because it's one that is used within mostly in our fundamental churches. Liberal churches don't have a problem with it because there isn't a faithfulness to the Scripture and every one does that which is "right in his own eyes." Even though it does show up occasionally in other churches, Phariseeism as a rule is a fundamentalism problem!
I have often said and I will repeat it again, that knowledge without compassion or love is a dangerous thing! With great knowledge comes great responsibility and that responsibility includes our relationship not only with the world, but with each other.
The key verse of Romans 14 is vs)12 where it is written, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." God requires a personal accounting at the Judgment Seat of Christ and that concern us. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for standards and holy living. I believe that it's the obligation of every believer to be different when it comes to the standards set by the world. We will all give an account for the knowledge that we have and our testimony of the grace of God in this world, but this will be a personal accounting to God not to man!
I want to call your attention to vs)10 of Romans 14. The verse actually speaks of judgments being made by both the pharisaical brother and the brother that claims liberty in grace. The more "liberal" brother can look down on the "pharisaical" brother and be just as wrong in his judgments. Words such as "legalists" are often used to justify their loose standard of living. Romans 15:1 says, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves." This verse speaks of the "brother at liberty" as the strong one.
When studying chapter 14, it immediately becomes obvious that the "weak" brother is the one who "eateth herbs." I am not against a vegetarian who does so by personal preference. In the American Indian vocabulary, a vegetarian is one who does not know how to hunt! By "eateth herbs," the Holy Ghost is speaking of one who abstains from meats because of religious conviction. You can live on the Hallelujah Diet as far as I am concerned and be right with God. But you can also live on a Hog Diet like the rest of us and still be right with God. Although, you may see God a little sooner!
Colossians 2: 20-23 "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."
The "Eye of the Pharisee" is found in vs)10. He is characterized by the judgment of others. The Bible teaches self-judgment! I can preach on not judging one another until I am blue in the face and the problem continues because the Pharisee can only see through the "Eye of the Pharisee!"
1 Corinthians 11:31 "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."
Matthew 23:4 "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
John 9: 39 -41 "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.  And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?  Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." Our Lord condemned Phariseeism!
Please take the time to read these five reasons we should not have the "Eye of the Pharisee."
1. Phariseeism Violates The Fellowship Of Believers (Romans 14: 3-4)
When believers argue their "convictions" and "preferences," it's just that: an argument! What I stand for is between the Lord and I! What you stand for is between the Lord and you! When what we stand for becomes an issue between you and me, it divides the fellowship of the church.
2. Phariseeism Withstands The Man Of God
Acts 15:1-2, 5 "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
The enemy of Christ was the Pharisee! Even God’s man cannot withstand the scrutiny of the "letter of the law," just like no one else can. They will hold him to a standard that no man can attain or they will hold him to "their" standard that even they cannot always live up to. Pharisees are not followers, they are leaders. They must have followers in order to lead! Pharisees are not students, they are teachers. They must have students in order to teach! Pharisees are not edifiers, they are destroyers!
3. Phariseeism Is Detrimental To Evangelism
Matthew 23:13 "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."
The Lord called the Pharisees "hypocrites." Have you ever heard the lost say that they would not come to church and sit on the pews with all of those hypocrites? Most of the time, their claims are unjust but, on occasion, they are right! The lost hear what the Pharisee says and then see how the Pharisee acts and reacts! How many times have I heard of people who have said, "I will never come to your church as long as so-in-so is there!" Or, "If he she is a Christian, I don't want to be one." How about this one. "If they are going to Heaven, I don't want to go there." Or maybe this "If that's the way their God is, then I don't want their God."
4. Phariseeism Drives Away The New Families And New Believers
Matthew 23:15 "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
Pharisees automatically migrate to new blood. They are proselyters! Grace teaches the new converts while Phariseeism chastises them! It's not that they don't want to get right with God. God is merciful, compassionate, longsuffering, and gentle with the new believer. They leave because they can't live up to the standards and expectations of the Pharisee. I am still glad that, when I was newly saved, people let God work in my heart as I heard the Word of God preached. God grew me at His pace and His way was perfect!
2 Corinthians 3:6 "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
5. Phariseeism Eventually Destroys the Pharisee!
Luke 11:52 "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."
A key is made to unlock a door. Grace is the key that unlocks the door to the believer. Grace brings both love and liberty to the believer and is the key to holy living.
Titus 2:11-12 "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;"
I am so glad that I was saved by grace! I am so glad that I am being taught by grace!
Beware of becoming pharisaical! All of us have that potential! Pharisees not only destroy those around them, but eventually destroy themselves because they cannot live up to the letter of the law!
We want to have a good, separated church. We want to have a loving, kind church. I believe that God can reconcile these two positions. The key to holy living is not standards set, but seeing God’s people fall in love with Him!
"Be the Church"
- Pastor David Carroll, Senior Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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