Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From Discouragement to Action

Click Here to Listen to the Sermon for Sunday, January 08, 2012 by Pastor Don Allen

Scripture Reference: Nehemiah Chapters 1-3

What challenges do you face today that tempts you to give up? Is your faith in God challenged to the point that you doubt His faithfulness? Today’s Bible Blog invites you to explore these questions by reviewing Nehemiah’s life.

As you learned in yesterday’s message, Nehemiah was a key official in the Persian Empire (as ‘cupbearer to the king’ (see Nehemiah 1:11), Nehemiah functioned as a top advisor). Like many Jews who lived in Persia during the years of exile from Palestine, Nehemiah was keenly interested in the welfare of his homeland. In fact, Ezra the scholar-priest took a group of fellow priests to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, which was the center of worship for the Jewish people. After 14 years, the Temple was nearly finished.

You might expect that Nehemiah would be encouraged by the restoration of God’s temple, but in fact he was heartbroken! The reason: the walls surrounding the Temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed, leaving both the city and God’s Temple vulnerable to its enemies. Unless someone rebuilds the walls, the Temple would fall and Ezra’s mission would fail. Nehemiah was deeply troubled by this, because God’s reputation was at risk. The people of the Empire may mock the God of the Hebrews. Why would anyone believe in the God of the Jews, if He cannot even protect His place of worship?

This story teaches us a lot about God’s character and how He uses His people to accomplish His purposes. As you face your faith challenges, consider Nehemiah’s life and what he does to restore God’s honor.

1.       Read Nehemiah 1:1-4. In v.4, how does Nehemiah respond to the news from Jerusalem? How is this different or similar to what you did when you last responded to bad news?

2.       Read verses Nehemiah 1:5-11. List the ways that Nehemiah describes God’s nature in this prayer. After listing this, try to summarize the part of God’s character that Nehemiah focuses on in his prayer.

3.       Based on what you discovered from Nehemiah’s prayer to God, how would you change your prayer to God when you face difficult situations?

4.       How grieved are you about the physical and spiritual state of God’s people? Enough to mourn? To fast? To pray? What do you think is God telling you to do about this?

5.       When faced with the spiritual brokenness of other people (or other dangers), some are tempted to cast blame, or to become angry at the terrible state of things. Still others pray and act. What do you think God is telling you to do about this?

Pastor Don

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