Importance of Purity – August 17, 2019

Nehemiah 12.27-13.31; 1 Corinthians 11.1-16; Psalm 35.1-16; Proverbs 21.17-18

It is interesting to me that after Jerusalem is rebuilt and after Nehemiah has gone back home, he gets word that the people not following the laws God had outlined for the people. So what does he do? Back to Jerusalem he goes to straighten up the people, helping them do what God asked them to do. Why was following these commands, as God had called for, so important, not only to Nehemiah, but more importantly, for the people of Israel?

Questions:

Why is it important for men, women, and children to be able to to celebrate and praise God for the restoration he provides?

How comfortable are you in asking others to imitate your life of faith? Why is this the case? How can you become more confident to do this?

How does the Lord fight against those who fight against you?

Why does the love of pleasure lead to poverty?

Be Concerned About Others – August 16, 2019

Nehemiah 11.1-12.26; 1 Corinthians 10.14-33; Psalm 34.11-22; Proverbs 21.14-16

What would happen if you committed today, and then again tomorrow, to live your entire day seeking to do good for others, not being primarily concerned about your own good?

Questions:

How do you think the people of Israel felt coming back to Jerusalem after having been in exile for so long?

What things did you do today? How did you do them for the glory of God?

How can we keep our tongue from speaking evil?

Why does justice terrify those who do evil?

Be Careful Not To Fall – August 15, 2019

Nehemiah 9.22-10.39; 1 Corinthians 9.19-10.13; Psalm 34.1-10; Proverbs 21.13

I think if Paul had written 1 Corinthians today, when he got to today’s passage, he would have written: Do you remember that sports team, the one that was undefeated? And do you remember that time they played the team that had not won a game all season? And do remember what happened? They lost! The train wreck that everyone assumed would happen didn’t. Oh, and by the way, if you think you stand firm … be careful. Don’t be like THAT team.

Questions:

Rehearse the things God has done for you in your life that have brought you to the point you are at today.

Who has served as a warning to you about what happens when you do not pay attention to remembering God?

How can we constantly speak the praises of God as go throughout our day?

How do we shut our ears to the cries of the poor? What can we do to hear them better?

Celebrate! – August 14, 2019

Nehemiah 7.73b-9.21; 1 Corinthians 9.1-18; Psalm 33.12-22; Proverbs 21.11-12

When we are faced with our sins, with the reality that we have fallen short of the manner in which we wish to live, we have a couple of options in response. The first is to beat ourselves up, to cry, to lament, to mourn how poorly we behaved. At times this is a good response, but for those who live in the grace of God, perhaps the response Nehemiah proposes is a better one: Celebrate. Rejoice because the joy of the Lord is your strength! How do you typically respond when you fall short of the lifestyle you desire?

Questions:

Why is the people standing for the reading of God’s laws significant? How does this impact our own reaction towards God’s word?

What reasons do you have to share the good news of Jesus Christ?

What do you count on in your life for “victory?”

According to the proverb writer, what is the benefit of instruction?

You Alone are the Lord

20170507 - 1HBS1You alone are the Lord.
(Nehemiah 9.6)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 23
Nehemiah 9.6-15
1 Peter 2.19-25
John 10.1-10

This week’s study is going to be a lesson in doing.

Sometimes we spend time in a lesson like this trying to squeeze out the truths of the passage, hoping for something we can readily use to help of live for God better. Other times we discover a passage like Nehemiah 9, which we almost have to ignore it to NOT see the ways this passage calls us to action.

Nehemiah 9.6-15 is interesting, because it is a praise of God right in the middle of a chapter containing a confession of sins to God. That seems almost contradictory. I think of times when I had to confess a wrong to my parents. I can never remember a single time I came into their presence shouting their praises. No, I spent more of my time timidly approaching them not saying anything for fear of some sort of wrath.

We learn some valuable insight about God in this passage. Whatever confession of our own wrongdoing we need to make is overshadowed by the greatness of God. (This is actually true whether we have a confession to make or not.)

So the Israelites confession goes something like this: God, you are great and you have done incredible things all throughout our life with you and God, we are sorry, but we forgot those things and thought we were great. We did our own thing, thinking it was somehow more important than what you called us to be or at the very least, we thought it would work out better for us. It didn’t and we repent.

So what if we reversed this pattern. What if, instead of forgetting about the greatness of God until after we had done our own thing, we spent all of our time reciting the great things God has done so that there would be no need to try to come up with a plan on our own? God’s plan and his goodness would be so ingrained in our daily lives that we had no room for anything else but him.

What if we spent a week trying to do that?

 

Exercises:

•Spend time everyday reading through Psalm 23. Remind yourself often that the Lord is your shepherd.

•Make a praise list for this week. Keep this list with you at all times and write down the things you see God doing in your life and in the lives of people you love. At the end of each day, spend time in prayer thanking him for what he has done that day.

•We often assume that because we follow God, everything in our life will be wonderful and if we find ourselves suffering, we must be doing something wrong. 1 Peter reminds us this is not the case. If you find yourself suffering this week, thank God for the opportunity to follow Christ’s example.

•As you go through these exercises, you may discover you are in conflict with how you want to live your life. Remember that Jesus is the good shepherd that his sheep follow him because they know his voice. Who’s voice are you listening to?