Sustaining the Vision

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Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 6:15-16

It’s not that difficult to have a great idea. And lots of people can get started in pursuing a vision with good intentions. But staying the course until the end is difficult and often makes the difference in whether the vision is accomplished or not.

In today’s passage from Nehemiah, we see that the vision for rebuilding the Jerusalem walls was completed. How did they pull this off? We’ve already read about all of the opposition. How did they survive all of the road blocks along the way? How did they sustain the vision amidst challenges?

Today we took a look at two essential practices that will lead to sustained success.

1. Visionary Leaders Sustain the Vision by Celebrating Victories Along the Way.

Nehemiah was quick to give credit to God for the success of their amazing accomplishment:

“When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.” (Nehemiah 6:16)

It is good for us to take intentional moments to thank God for what he has accomplished in our lives.

2. Visionary Leaders Sustain the Vision by Focusing More on People than Projects.

In reading Nehemiah 1:9, we are reminded the true goal of Nehemiah’s vision:

“But if you return to me… I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have my name dwell.” (Nehemiah 1:9)

The Vision was never to build a wall, the vision was to restore the people. We see the importance of focusing on people more than projects.

As we seek to share the good news of Jesus with our neighbors and acquaintances, it’s important to focus on people and relationships more than simply sharing facts and information. The opportunity to share truth is won when we prove that we prioritize our relationship with them.

Discussion:

  • What is one victory in your life you want to pause and publicly thank God for?
  • Who is one person who doesn’t know God that He may be leading you to build a relationship with?
  • What is one thing you can do this week to show that person you care about your relationship?

Pray for Revival

Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 8

Revival — We often think of revival as a programmed event or a stirring of emotions. An event or our emotions is not what creates revival. Revival starts when hearts that were cold or hardened to God are made new and come alive.

Elements of revival include…

Unified Prayer | The people of God must come together and pray as one. When praying together our prayer must be grounded in the Word of God. Prayer is revival.

Confession | Confession is agreeing with God about our sin. Does what grieves His heart grieve  our heart? Does what God views as sin the same as what we view as sin? Confession really is a celebration of the mercy of God. When we do confess we are confessing to a God who deeply loves us.

Surrender | We must learn how to surrender to the Lord.

Discussion:

• When you think of the word revival, what comes to your mind?
• How often do you pray with other people?
• What do you typically pray for and what drives your prayer time?
• When was the last time you confessed sin to someone? What keeps you from confessing your sin?
• Does knowing that God deeply loves you change your perspective on confessing your sin?
• What would it look like for you to spend time as a family, asking God to bring about revival in your life?

Overcoming Opposition

Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 2:17-19

3 Tips for a winning strategy to overcome opposition

Tip #1: Expect Opposition
Satan’s work is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10b). Remember that opposition can come from within and without.

• What opposition are you currently facing?

Tip #2: Engage in Prayer
Nothing of eternal value happens without prayer. We are engaged in a spiritual battle so remember to use the right weapons — prayer, dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and obedience to God’s Word.

• What are you specifically praying for in regard to overcoming opposition?

Tip #3: Endure in Your Role
Don’t give up; don’t give in (Nehemiah 4:21-22). Expect God to show up (Colossians 1:29; Nehemiah 4:14). Remember that we fight from victory, but we still have to fight.

• What steps are you taking in order to overcome opposition and complete your task?

Nehemiah and the people persevered and completed the good work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15-16).

Praying God’s Promises

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Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 1:4-11

This morning, we learned about using prayer correctly. Prayer is a wonderful, simple, mysterious, critical aspect in the life of a disciple of Jesus. We talk with God and He talks with us. Pastor Rush said, “It’s a conversation with our Heavenly Father. Prayer is a HUGE deal. Prayer IS THE WORK of the ministry. Nothing of eternal value happens without prayer.”

As we learned, Nehemiah knew the power of prayer. He knew that effective prayer begins with the Promises of God. This is one of the most powerful and effective prayers we have. To take the very words of God and pray them back in faith and say – “God, you said this. I am trusting you to fulfill what you promised you would do.” We are getting ourselves in line with what God has already said. (Consider Jesus’ words in John 14:13-14). Briefly, here are FIVE steps we can follow to experience the joy of praying God’s promises:

  1. Look for passages on that subject. You can utilize the concordance in the back of many Bible’s, ‘God’s Promises’ books, websites like blueletterbible.org or ask a friend, pastor or community group leader.
  2. Look for promises in those passages. Remember there are promises God made to all, promises he made specifically to others, but demonstrate His character and promises that are implied by His commands.
  3. Start memorizing and meditating on those passages. To Nehemiah, God said it was to be, so it’s as good as done – even with the mess he heard reported! When you pray from a position of confidence, you pray expectantly!
  4. Allow God to personalize the promises. It’s very important not to abuse this step! It’s a sequence: you trust in what you CAN know clearly from God’s Word, and then God begins to reveal to you other things that are completely in line with the Word of God – but are just for you.(Remember the difference between logosand rhema)
  5. Participate in the Prayer. This is where prayer and living out your faith connect. Nehemiah was confident in the Lord and went before the King and God answers his pray! But this was after fasting and praying for months!

One of the last things Pastor Rush said this morning was, “Our vision to reach 10 thousand homes will not happen without prayer, our mission to invite all people to experience true fulfillment in Jesus will not happen without prayer, our heart to see parents rise up as the primary faith trainers of the next generation will not happen without prayer. Our passion to see every home living out the 4 habits of REST, BLESS, GATHER, and GO will not happen without prayer. Revival will not break out across our city and nation without prayer.”

What else in your life will not happen without prayer?

Discussion Questions:

  • What about today’s sermon from Pastor Rush stuck out to you?
  • Which of the five practical steps from today’s message is most difficult for you to do? Why?
  • Why is it easy to abuse “praying God’s promises” back to Him?
  • What do we need to be careful about?What area(s) of your life are you seeking God for?
  • How can knowing God’s Word help you to pray more specifically and confidently for those?
  • What is one small step you can take today to put into practice what you heard?

Unfinished Business: How God Prepares Us for Vision

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Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 1:1-4 and 2 Chronicles 36:15-23

Before diving into the book of Nehemiah, it’s important to understand the context behind the story. 2 Chronicles helps us understand that. During this time, King Cyrus of Persia released the exiles because God put it on his heart, which would have been unheard of at this time. The people were going back to rebuild the temple. 100 years go by, and that’s when we get to Nehemiah. Nehemiah leads the charge because God wants his wall rebuilt. Nehemiah shows us the path to addressing unfinished business.

Three prerequisites to clear vision in our life:

1.​ Assess the problem. | Verse 4, “When I heard these words..”.Nehemiah cared about what God cared about and he wanted to know the truth. Do we investigate the needs around us and look beyond what is just convenient?

2. ​Acknowledge the discontent. |  Verse 4, “I sat down and wept..”.Nehemiah was emotionally invested in what takes place in his homeland. When God puts a burden on your heart, don’t ignore that burden, but instead let it trouble you. We all need a Popeye moment where vision starts to culminate: holy discontent. Devote your life to that which you cannot get over.

3. ​Answer the call. | Verse 4 Nehemiah was, “praying and fasting..”. Nehemiah raised his hand and answered the call to do what God called him to do and we should do the same. He did not just get emotional and then forget about it- he stepped up and led. This decision Nehemiah made leads to a transformation that lasts for generation.

Discuss around your table today (or any place you gather):

  1. Do you have unfinished business in your life? If so, what may it be and how can you address it?
  2. Has God placed a burden on your heart that maybe you have been ignoring? What is it that you cannot stand?  After this morning, what are next steps for you in this?
  3. Have you surrendered this over to the Lord and allowed him to use you in this? How are you going to answer the call?

Conflict in Marriage

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Scripture Passage: Proverbs 24:3 – “A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding.”

Why do we fight? Where does conflict come from?

Number one, our differences. We are made and created different and we like different things. These are not right or wrong issues, but differences in parenting style and upbringings. We have to learn to embrace those differences.

The second source of conflict comes from our sinful ways. Meaning it’s all about me and when I don’t get my way, I throw a fit. In throwing fits we attack and cause conflict.

Here are a few ways to talk about conflict with your kids.
Reminder: In the midst of conflict always point your energy towards the issues, not the person. This means that it’s my spouse and I verses the problem, NOT me verses my spouse. If the husband wins, you both lose and vice versa. Focus on the issues, not the person. 

  1. Work out how they feel – Talk it over to help the process their feelings. Help them manage those feelings in the moment.
  2. Talk about wants and needs. What is the differences? Talk through these with them and help them understand the differences.
  3. Define the problem/issue. Have them verbalize exactly what happened and what they feel.
  4. Help them find the solution. (Don’t just tell them the solution every time) Allowing them to process and find a solution will help them greatly handle conflict in the future.

Most professionals say that the way a young child is taught to handle conflict will stay with them all of their lives. Meaning, if they learn at four years old how to face conflict, when they are adults they will most likely fight and argue like a four year old.

Conflict is healthy and unavoidable. Help your kids handle conflict in a healthy way so they can represent Christ everyday.

Questions: 

  • How did your parents handle conflict or teach you to handle conflict?
  • Do your kids argue all the time? Next time try the four points above to help them work out the conflict.

Don’t Hold Back

Scripture Passage: Proverbs 14:31 — “The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors Him.”

Our View of People Matters
Oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment born out of pride or a sense of being better than someone else. It’s a mindset and behavior that stems from viewing others as having less worth and value.

Our view of people should reflect that all people are created in God’s image and worthy of dignity and respect. We need to remember that there is not one person we will encounter today or tomorrow who is not made in the image of God. Everyone we encounter has worth and value.

How does our view of others affect the way treat them? What keeps you from showing radical kindness to others?

Kindness Matters
You can’t have kindness without a correct view of people. Kindness is grounded in the character of God and is important to Him. The kindness of God is about being gracious to those who don’t deserve it, can’t earn it, or can’t repay us.

When we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. We didn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it. How different and awful it could have been had Jesus chosen to display His kindness to us based on our earned merit.

In what ways can you go beyond in your kindness? To whom can you show kindness today? Determine that you will not hold back in showing kindness.

Hope for the Abused

Scripture Passage: 2 Samuel 13:1-14

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced some sort of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual abuse is the most under-reported crime in the United States according to the FBI.

Consider the following four destructive spiritual effects of sexual abuse.

The Abuse of Trust — Read 2 Samuel 13:1-12
The passage in 2 Samuel is about abuse within the family. Satan is shrewd and will feed our distrust of God by orchestrating betrayal and abuse from those who ought to be trustworthy. Satan can use this to lead you to believe the lie that you cannot trust God or anybody.


An Abuse of Power — Read 2 Samuel 13:14
Amnon overpowered Tamar in spite of her appeals to stop. Satan attempts to destroy hope by making us feel powerless. Satan can use this to lead you to believe the lie that there is no help or hope for a victim like you.

An Abuse of Guilt — Read 2 Samuel 13:13
Guilt is the legal term for those who are to blame. Shame is what a victim feels. Shame often drives victims into isolation and silence. Satan can use this to lead you to believe that you are not worthy of God’s attention or the blessing of others.

An Abuse of Love — Read 2 Samuel 13:14-20
After abusing Tamar, Amnon hated her with intense hatred, even though he was the perpetrator. Satan can use what others have done to you to make you believe that you are unlovable and should resist love.

Consider the following steps if you have suffered abuse.

• Tell Someone You Trust

• Work Through the Loss with a Gospel-centered counselor. Understand that recovery from trauma takes time.

• Loved ones must communicate safety and care. For those who love victims, please listen to them, believe them, offer compassion, get them help, and encourage them.

• If you are guilty of abuse, then you must repent, report yourself, seek forgiveness, and work toward restoration and hope.

Please visit Kingsland’s Resources for those who have suffered Sexual Abuse.

Wisdom for Communication

Scripture Passage: Proverbs 18:21

The Bible has a great deal to say about words. The words that we speak impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Our words have the power to bless people and also the power to hurt people.

The Hebrew word that’s translated “Gossip” in Proverbs is the work “rakhil” and it means one who slanders. Read the following Scriptures that teach us about Gossip:

• A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence
(Proverbs 11:13).

• A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28).

• Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends (Proverbs 17:19).

• A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being (Proverbs 18:8).

Four Questions to Help us Avoid Gossiping:

1. Is he/she here? Is the person that you are talking about physically present?

2. Is it true? The information that we hear about a person may or may not be true.

3. Is it helpful? Are my words helpful for building someone up or do my words tear them down.

4. What does it reveal about my heart? The words we speak reflect what is within our heart. What do the words I speak reveal about my own heart?

Prayer
Ask God to help you speak words that bless others and build others up according to their needs.
Ask God to show you how you may be using your words to hurt others through gossip. Ask God to forgive you and to help you break free from the sin of gossip.
Ask God to help you speak word that bless others!

Righteousness Exalts a Nation

Scripture Passage: Proverbs 14:34

This week we will celebrate Independence Day. We are blessed as a nation.
Take a few moments to consider God’s blessing on us as a nation and then pray for our country.

Proverbs 14:34: ”Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
The essence of this verse is that the same God who blesses nations can also remove His blessing.

Throughout history nations have risen and fallen. Job 12:23 reminds us that God, “makes nations great, then destroys them; he enlarges nations, then leads them away.”

America is not perfect, but God has richly blessed us.

What are some ways that we have taken God’s blessing for our country for granted?

Righteousness exalts a nation
This does not mean all are righteous nor every leader is righteous. Righteousness refers to moral integrity, practicing justice, understanding and acting on what is right.
Practically, the presence of righteous people in a nation can make such a huge impact.
You cannot separate righteousness and liberty. Any time a people are unrighteous, they are in danger of losing their liberties.

Psalm 33:12: “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord—the people he has chosen to be his own possession!”

Sin brings down a nation
Psalm 33:10: “The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; he thwarts the plans of the peoples.”

Sin is contagious. It affects a person, a home, a nation. Without blessing from God, a nation is on shaky ground.

Discuss the poor substitutes for Divine Blessing found in Psalm 33. . .
• More knowledge: “brings the counsel of the nations to nothing”
• Great strategy: “He thwarts the plans of the peoples.”
• Stronger defense: “A king is not saved by a large army…”

Discuss some of the ways our country has moved from God’s righteousness, i.e. immigration issues, slavery, discrimination, and abortion.

Repentance Restores a Nation
If America is to be great, the source of her greatness will rest in only one place. And if America has lost her greatness, it will be restored in only one way.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, 14 and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

If we cry out to God, if we seek His face, then we have every reason to hope that our children and their children can reap the blessings of God as we have.

• Offer prayers of confession to God in some of the ways we have fallen short as a people. • Ask for God’s wisdom for our leaders.
• Ask for the Holy Spirit of God to refresh His people.