Post Author: Tim Chilvers

Tim Chilvers is the Senior Pastor at Riverside Church.
July 4, 2021
Take Hold | S4: Building Strong

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 4

TITLE: Building Strong
BY: Tim Chilvers
DATE: 4 July 2021
BIBLE PASSAGE: Nehemiah (Chapter 8, verses 1-6)

When you want to change things for good, it’s crucial to lay the right foundations. What should be the key priorities?

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Study Questions

There are three different sets of questions for you to use, whether you are exploring God’s word within your Life Group, in other group settings, or simply using them on your own. (If the below questions are blank, please know that we will be updating this blog post as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and understanding).


These are simple questions to provoke discussion together out of the talk (ideal if you are watching our Sunday Service online with others):

  1. Was there anything in Tim’s talk that particularly connected with you, or was meaningful in a particular way?

  2. Was there anything that you struggled to understand, or didn’t agree with in Tim’s talk?

  3. Is there a particular action, or change that you want to make, as a result of this talk?


These are questions that are based on the talk and the surrounding themes:

  1. In general, are you the sort of person who really likes change, or do you tend to be more hesitant towards change? 

  2. Read Nehemiah 8:1-6. God’s people are in a time of huge change. The wall around their city has been built and as they adapt to their new life in the city, they need to lay some important foundations for themselves as a people. As they gather together, why do you think they so wanted Ezra to ‘bring out the book of the law’ (8:1) and read it? What did they think was so helpful about doing so?

  3. How might that apply to us today? Do we have the same sort of approach to reading the scriptures?

  4. Take a look at how many times in v1-8 it mentions about being ‘together’ or mentions a variety of people who are gathering together. What is so important about gathering together with others, rather than just being on their own? What about for us – why is gathering together with others so important for us?

  5. Read Deuteronomy 31:12-13. When Nehemiah 8:2 records that ‘men, women and all who could understand’ were gathered, what might this look like, do you think? What opportunities do you have for such ‘inter-generational’ ministry? What do you think this could/should look like today?

  6. Read Nehemiah 8:9-18. What other aspects of their gathering are important, do you think? How might these be important for us during times of great change? What could these look like today?

  7. Take some time to pray. Ask that God would help you to cling on to him during times of great change, and that we would spur each other on as we explore the Bible and encourage each other. 


These are questions to help you go a little deeper, by exploring the wider biblical context. 

  1. During your life, what have been the moments of greatest change? What key things have your learnt about yourself and about God during those times?

  2. In the book of Nehemiah, God’s people are going through a lot of change and the leaders want to lay some important foundations for the future. Read Nehemiah 7:73-8:1 and Deuteronomy 31:9-13. Why do you think the ‘book of the law’ was so important for them? What might this mean for you today?

  3. Read Leviticus 23:23-44. Notice what is supposed to happen during the ‘seventh month’. And so, as Ezra stands up in Nehemiah 8:2, they are corporately signifying that the ‘work’ is done.  Even though there were still plenty of things to do, they know that it is important to remember the work that God has done, and therefore they can rest, celebrate and remind themselves of God’s purposes. What might that look like for us today as we try to build God’s kingdom? What work has already been done, and what role does ‘rest’ and ‘celebration’ have?

  4. Notice in Nehemiah 8:2-3 that ‘men, women and all who could understand’ were gathered together. They were simply doing what had been commanded in Deuteronomy 31:12-13. What opportunities do you have for such ‘inter-generational’ ministry, and what do you think this could/should look like today?

  5. Read Psalm 48 which gives us a snapshot at how they would have viewed the city of Jerusalem. In the light of that, what would their attitude have been as they gathered together to listen to the scriptures being proclaimed (Nehemiah 8:1-5)? What is their response in verse 6? What about your response when the scriptures are read and explained?

  6. Read 1 Timothy 4:13 and 2 Timothy 4:2.  As you see the importance of publicly reading and explaining the scriptures in Nehemiah 8, what role do you think it should have in our gatherings today?

  7. Read Nehemiah 8:9-18. In light of their rescue from exile, and in light of Leviticus 23:33-44 that you read earlier, this passage shows that they are powerfully celebrating God’s great rescue and faithfulness. If verse 17 is true, then how much more should we be people who celebrate because of what Jesus has done? What perspective might this give you during times of great change?

8. Take some time to pray. Ask that God would help you to have a helpful approach to the scriptures, to gathering together and to ‘resting’ in what God has done. Pray that God would help us to take hold of the future that he has for us with the same sense of joy, devotion and expectation.  

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Riverside is a church made up of people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences all with one thing in common, our discovery of God and his amazing love. 

We are on a journey together to ‘help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers’. 

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