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?

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.