Unity

Scripture Passage: Philippians 1:27

Paul reminds us that we are citizens of heaven and, as such, should lived our lives worthy of the gospel. Unity — common values, common goals, common struggles — is essential to living out our citizenship in a world that watches every move we make.

It is important to understand that unity is not union, uniformity, or unanimity. Unity refers to oneness of heart, a similarity of purpose, and an agreement on truth. Paul explained how unity happens.

First, we must have common a common relationship. As Christ-followers we have the same Heavenly Father and are members of the same family.

Take a moment to thank God for those with whom you are connected at Kingsland.

Second, a part of cultivating unity is a common spirit. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us as members of God’s family.

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to work cooperatively with others.

Third, to cultivate unity we must have a common mission. We must move in the same direction. We must work side by side in order to advance God’s purposes in the world today.

Take time this week to get acquainted with our new EmpoweredHomes.org website. Encourage others you know to visit the site to glean ideas on how to have a home that glorifies God. Determine to work cooperatively with other members of our family to reach 10,000 homes with the good news of Jesus Christ.

A Shift in Purpose

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Scripture Passage: Philippians 1:12-13

All of us have experienced detours in life—unforeseen challenges or struggles that cause us to deviate from the path we expected. In today’s passage, Paul references some detours he experienced in his own life, but he turns the situation upside down by showing that God was able to accomplish good in the midst of the challenges. Every believer should make the most of “detours” because of the way God uses setbacks in Paul’s life.

Three ways God shapes lives for the cause of Christ:

1. The Answered Prayers of Detours

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in ways that we don’t anticipate. Paul prayed to be able to minister in Rome, he had not planned for his journey to Rome to be due to imprisonment. Through it all, God used these unplanned circumstances to further the Gospel.

2. The Unexpected People of Detours

When we end up in the midst of detours, we often find ourselves surrounded by people we would have otherwise never had access to. Many times our trials become like backstage passes that give us access to amazing people who would otherwise not be interested in connecting with you. And when you have that access, you have the opportunity to share the hope of Jesus with them.

3. The Altered Priorities of Detours

Every person is going to have to determine at some point what really matters. When we face major setbacks in our lives, a lot of the things that used to matter don’t matter anymore. And some of the things that should have mattered now matter a lot more.

Discussion Questions:

  • Think back to a time in your life when things did not go according to plan. Can you now see a way that God was at work during that time?
  • Who is someone that God has placed in your path to have an impact on their life? How could God use you to impact their life?
  • Have you had a circumstance in your life that recalibrated your priorities? Which priorities changed and why?

Shift Your Citizenship

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Scripture Passage:
Philippians 1:1-6

In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul reminded his readers that their citizenship was in heaven. Citizenship in heaven focuses on our responsibility to extend the influence of God’s kingdom where we live. Paul wanted for the Philippian Christians to see themselves primarily as citizens of heaven and to see everything through that lens. To be citizens of heavens requires that we do the following:

Shift Your Attention — Philippians 1:1 and Colossians 1:17-18
As citizens of heaven we must shift our attention off of ourselves and onto Jesus.

• What is one way in which you can shift your attention to Jesus?

Shift Your Approach — Philippians 1:2
Living out our citizenship means shifting our approach away from trying to control toward experiencing and showing peace and grace.

• To whom can you demonstrate grace this week?

Shift Your Allegiance — Philippians 1:2
As citizens of heaven we must analyze our priorities and allegiances and pledge our allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord.

• Is loyalty to Jesus your highest allegiance?

Shift Your Aim — Philippians 1:6
As citizens of heaven we must realize that God is at work in our lives to conform us into the image of His Son — and that He will not abandon that good work.

• In what areas of your life is God currently working to make you more like Jesus?

Visionary Followers

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Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 3

This morning at church we were in Nehemiah Chapter 3 and we looked at what it means to be a follower. Through the Scripture we saw that there were three types of followers. The first is the bystander. These are people who are not involved, they just observe, and they often try to bring things down. The second was the participant. These are people who check the box of helping and following, but they are not bought into what they are doing. The third is the champion. The champion is the person who gives above and beyond when they serve and follow.

The type of follower that we want to be as Christ followers is a champion. Below are a few characteristics of the champions.

  1. Champions are both leaders and followers.
    • In order to be a good leader you must learn how to follow.
  2. Champions take ownership.
    • Champions seek to learn how God has wired them and to use their spiritual gifts to serve others.
  3. Champions don’t care about receiving the credit.
    • They serve and follow to help move the vision forward and to be a part of the greater picture.

The people in Nehemiah 3 were all people who followed Nehemiah and helped accomplished the task of rebuilding the wall. Many of their names are mentioned here, but they may not mean much to us at first reading. However, they were all used to accomplish a greater goal for God. We are no different. The things we do today and the way we follow today may not ever be known by the multitude, but they matter in terms of eternity. They are part of a bigger picture, and they bring God much glory.

Questions:

  • Who do I follow?
  • Why am I following them?
  • How does my following of these people effect how I lead others? (We all have influence.)
  • As I follow what are ways that you can serve other people and be a part of what God is doing?

Prayer: Pray that you as a family would seek to follow well and follow those that will lead you to honor and glorify Jesus. Pray that your family would serve as you follow.

Hidden Elements of a Leader

Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 2:11-20

Every potential leader must understand the essential hidden elements of leaders — from which a leader’s success will rise and fall.

The Leader’s Character
Nehemiah put in time, sacrificed sleep and comfort, and worked even when no one else was around. That is the very definition of character.

John Wooden, the great basketball coach, said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

The Leader’s Preparation
Nehemiah prepared. He raised the needed resources, including giving from his own pocket. He surrounded himself with a team of trusted leaders and routinely rallied the people in order to inspire them.

Nehemiah also organized the work into manageable chunks for the people. He strategically took proximity into account, calling people to repair the sections of the wall closest to their homes.

Great leaders have a plan and work a plan.

The Leader’s Humility
In his book on humility, C.J. Mahaney writes, “Pride takes innumerable forms but has only one end: self-glorification. That’s the motive and ultimate purpose of pride — to rob God of legitimate glory and to pursue self-glorification, contending for supremacy with Him. The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to receive.”

We are in danger when we look down on other people, when we take advantage of the weak, when we think the rules don’t apply to us, and when we disregard God in any area of our life.

Discussion Questions
• In your own words, what is the difference between Character and Reputation?
• As a leader, what areas in your life need more preparation?
• What areas in your life are you struggling to come up with a plan?
• When something good happens, do I feel entitled or do I feel grateful?
• When someone questions me, do I get defensive or do I listen?
• Does it bother me when someone else gets credit for something I was involved in?

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?