Teaching Series Introduction:
We have a once in a generation chance. There is so much pain behind us, and so much possibility ahead. What if this is the moment? What if now is the time to throw off the past, and take hold of a future that really is different. What if now is the time to take hold of life?
TAKE HOLD: Session 1
TITLE: Change begins in the heart
BY: Tim Chilvers
DATE: 13 June 2021
BIBLE PASSAGE: Nehemiah (Chapter 1, verses 1-11)
When things aren’t as they should be, we long for change. It’s so good to know that change doesn’t just depend on us – God is always at work!
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There are three different sets of questions for you to use, whether you are exploring God’s word within your Life Group, or in other group settings, or simply using them on your own.
A. DISCUSSION STARTERS
These are simple questions to provoke discussion together out of the talk (ideal if you are watching our Sunday Service online with others):
- What particularly impacted you, or connected with you, in the talk?
- What did you find difficult to understand, or weren’t sure about, in the talk?
- What do you want to change, or put into practice, as a result of the talk?
b. QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE
These are questions that are based on the talk and the surrounding themes:
- Why do you think we find change so difficult?
- Read Nehemiah 1:1-11. What does Nehemiah want to change? What is his response? Why do you think it impacts him so much?
- What are the things that we long to see? How do they compare to the passion in Nehemiah’s heart?
- Notice the structure of Nehemiah’s prayer (v5-11). What is important about the order of how he prays? How does that compare to that way we pray?
- What are God’s promises in v8-9? How would this have encouraged Nehemiah as he works to rebuild the wall? As we think about our church, and the church in the UK, what is the encouragement?
- As we look to the future of Riverside, what change do we long fir? What encouragements are there for us, in the fact that God ‘Keeps his covenant of love’? (v5 & 9) Where are we able to put our confidence, and in what ways can we trust that God will build his kingdom in us, and through us?
- Take some time to pray, asking that God would help you see things with his eyes. Pray that God would give you a passion for his kingdom like Nehemiah’s, and the confidence to build regardless of the cost.
C. GOING DEEPER
These are questions to help you go a little deeper, by exploring the wider biblical context.
BACKGROUND: the book of Nehemiah takes place in the ‘exile’. This was a devastating time for the ancient people of God. They have been forcefully taken from their home and living in the strange land of Babylon, with different gods and customs, and forced to serve their kings. Read 2 Kings 25 and Psalm 137 for a background to the book of Nehemiah.
- Whilst in exile, God’s people have been granted an opportunity to rebuild Jerusalem. In Ezra 4:6-23, they had tried to rebuild the wall around the city but were opposed. Nehemiah takes place years after this happened. Why do you think Nehemiah (1:1-4) is so upset about the state of the city and the people?
- Read Psalm 137:5-6. The city of Jerusalem was so important for the ancient people of God – it represented God’s presence, his provision and his protection. The walls, in particular, represented protection and peace – a city without walls was always weak, vulnerable and without rest. How does Nehemiah’s passion (v4) for his people compare to our passion for the purposes of God?
- In what ways might that relate to us today, as we look at the church, with all our hopes and faults?
- It is clear that Nehemiah knows his scriptures. As he prays (v5-11), there are several links back to their history. Read Deuteronomy 4:25-31 and 7:6-11. What connections are there with these passages and Nehemiah’s prayer?
- How does Nehemiah’s prayer compare with the way we might pray?
- Notice that Nehemiah’s emphasis is on God’s covenant, rather than this his own devotion. Why is that good news for people who are Christians? (See Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:13, 9:15)
- In 1 Peter 2:9-12, Christians are referred to as people in ‘exile’. How does this mindset help us today? What priorities are there, according to Peter, as exiles?
FURTHER STUDY RESOURCES
- A short simple video summary of the Book of Nehemiah and the wider context (8mins…worth watching!)
02. A helpful explanation of the “exile”:
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