The calendar said it was going to be TWENTY years since graduation! Where had the time gone? No one I talked to knew of any plans or arrangements that were being made for such a special occasion, and I lived nearly a thousand miles away! What could I possibly do from that distance? The idea wouldn’t leave my head, so pretty soon I was tracking down the few people I remembered, and found most of them still lived in the same city or county. Perhaps they saw each other often enough that it wasn’t as special for them as it would be to those of us who had not seen each other since 20 years before. Pretty soon I was knee deep in address files, pictures, banquet rooms, speakers–well, you get the picture! From a thousand miles away, I organized a reunion I hoped our class would enjoy: two days of fun for all of us beginning with a family picnic, a formal dinner that evening, and a day of play for groups who were special friends at the time. No one thought it could be done. Usually a procrastinator, or one who finishes little of what they start, this was going to be my epic gift to the class. It was. Seeing all of the old friends, with their families and children, was so special. One set had recently become the first grandparents, but I have to admit, I was the only one among the group who was pregnant!
Why had I done this? I can’t tell you–just that I felt the “need” to get the class together for a special time, to commemorate the years we had spent in high school, to renew old friendships, and to have a time of fun. It was a once in a lifetime project, but worth all the time I had put into it.
We often see a need, think of an idea, wish someone would (__ fill in the blank), but usually it falls by the wayside for lack of anyone “stepping up to the plate!” We sit on the sidelines, hoping someone else will take up the mission. But sometimes–often, in fact–we see that need or mission because God is calling us to be the one to act. Yes, it would have been better if I had been close enough to organize those I could find into teams, so there could be a division of the labor, the ideas, and the insight into what others might enjoy, and toward the end, this happened.
This week at Thomas Road, we focused on a glimpse of the life of Nehemiah, who saw a need back in his homeland of Jerusalem, got permission to return, and organized a building project that was something that is still being read and talked about. The end result was that he accomplished in little over a month an impossible-sounding mission.
Get your notebook out, have it handy to jot down thoughts that God brings to mind, and prepare your heart to study His word. Watch the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, September 4, 2016, by clicking on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and selecting the sermon for that day. You can watch the entire service and enjoy Charles Billingsley as well as the wonderful LU Praise Team, or fast forward to the sermon itself. After watching, study the questions below, learning why Nehemiah felt such a call to do God’s work so far away. If you do it alone, you might want to spread it out over several days, or get a group of friends or family and watch it as your schedules permit! Either way, you’ll find that adding additional study time to the sermon gives you new insights into carrying out the commandment to reach out to others, loving and serving them, and by doing that, you are growing in the knowledge and love for Jesus Christ!
Have you ever really thought about the reality that every successful event (party, reunion, etc.) has come about because someone decided “I can/should do that”? Can you give an example?
We continue to focus on the need to be “plugged in” to the power that comes to us as a child of God, enabling us to serve Him and change our world. This week we will look at Nehemiah, a Biblical character, who, because of his great commitment to God, stepped up to the plate and led a community to come together and rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem.
- Today’s busy schedules leave little time for relaxation, but what is the difference between solitude and isolation?
- Read Proverbs 18:1a. How does this verse reflect the life of someone who has no interest in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ?
- Did someone who has withdrawn themselves from fellowship or friendship (perhaps from depression, hurt, etc.) come to your mind as you thought about isolation? What can you do to restore them?
Let’s look at what it takes to successfully carry out God’s commission of loving Him and loving our neighbors.
- Read Nehemiah 2:17-18. What was the significance of the wall around Jerusalem, and why was Nehemiah burdened about the people rebuilding it? What did he do to get the project started?
- Read Ephesians 4:11-13. How does the work of Christ get done if we just sit on the sidelines? Why do we need to get “into the game?”
- Read Nehemiah 4:13-14. What extra effort had to be made as these men worked on the wall? What are some of the hindrances that we should expect in our own lives as we seek to share the gospel and love our neighbor?
- Who are some of the enemies we have because of our desire to build God’s kingdom on earth? Who were the Israelites thinking about as they built (vs 14)? Who should we be concerned about as we seek to change our world?
- Read Neh. 8:1-3,5-6,7b-8. Nehemiah realized there was another part of life that was as necessary as the physical wall the people built. What was it?
- We have the advantage of knowing the whole story, from Genesis to Revelation. What are some personal applications we can make from these passages that will help us carry out the commission of Jesus Christ?
Do you find some Old Testament characters seem to be “hero” material? Nehemiah was one of those. His life shows a deep reverence for–and commitment to–God and a willingness to do whatever God laid on his heart. As you close, think of ways you can get plugged in more closely to God, so that you, with a group of believers, can change your world—perhaps through a Life Group (or possibly even talk to someone who can help you begin one). Nehemiah had a vision, carried it out, and changed his community. Can you pray that God will open doors this week for you to “seek and save those who are lost”? God will bless your efforts and you will find new meaning in life.
Memory Verse: Nehemiah 4:14b: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
Focal Passage: Nehemiah 2:17, 18; 4:13-14; 8:1-8.
Home Study: Take some time to read the short book of Nehemiah. Notice how many times he stopped and prayed. Write down those things that inspire you to grow in your knowledge of God and His word.