FINDING A MISSION!

18NOV2014 082The 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!

Open:

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.

Discuss:

  1. Today’s busy schedules leave little time for relaxation, but what is the difference between solitude and isolation?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

Work

  1. 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?
  2. 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?”

War

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

Word

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

Close:

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.

 

 

 

 

In The World–But Not Worldly!

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How embarrassing! I heard my name called, with a question mark obviously at the end! I had been sitting in the class for the better part of an hour when something the teacher said triggered an idea. Soon I was in another world, planning intricacies and options surrounding the idea. It was humiliating to have everyone know I had to actually ask, “I’m so sorry–what did you just say?”

That is an illustration of the concept Jesus was trying to get across–that we can be in the world, but not be thinking or talking like the world–as His disciples were gathered around while He prayed for their safety (John 17:14). For us to be IN the world, but not OF the world, is His desire. James wrote that we are to remain “unstained by the sins of the world.” Those sins are not to cling to us.

The next couple of weeks we will study together the prayer of John 17. To have a greater grasp of the questions below, click on the “MYTRBC” widget, scroll down to Service Archive, and click on the Sunday morning sermon preceding this day. We will work through this together this week!

  1. Read the whole chapter of John 17. It is incredible that Jesus talks to God as if He (Jesus) needs to tell Him (God) what is happening! What do you think He is trying to teach us by praying like this? Have a pen and paper handy, and look for significant statements that Jesus makes that resonate in your spirit. Jot them down in short phrases, so you can look at them during the week. Let them remind you how much He cares for you, just as He cared for the ones God had given Him during His three years of ministry.
  2. Take note of how many times Jesus told His Father things like “I pray for them,” “I kept them,” “I have given them,” etc. His life was wrapped up in preparing these disciples to be the light that would change the world. Is it easier for you to stand for God’s Truth when it is attacked by your friends, or to keep quiet? What can you do to strengthen yourself so that you will not fear to stand, even if you are ridiculed?
  3. We Have Authority: Read verse 1b and 2a again, and also Titus 2:15. God gave Christ all authority over all things, and Christ bestowed the same authority on us. We don’t have to be like the world; we have the power in us, as children of God, to stand against the “wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). How are you using this authority? If you are being quiet when your friends offer temptation, what kind of testimony are you? What makes you different from your friends?
  4. We Have a Bright Future: There is an old hymn, “this world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.” That is a concept that is hard to understand, that as His children, God has seated us “in the heavenlies” even while we are here on the earth. Read verse 2b-3, and then Ephesians 2:5-7. We need to be a light to this dark world, but keep ourselves “unspotted” by the sins of the world. What are some ways you can do this? Do you spend the kind of time praying that Jesus did, in John 17? How can you accomplish things for your Father if you do not talk to Him every day? These are tough questions, but would you want your child, spouse or friends to talk with you the same amount of time that you spend talking with God? How much time do you spend listening to what He might reply to your heart?
  5. An Everlasting Impact: Read verses 4-5 again. God says you have a purpose–does that surprise you? Read Jeremiah 29:11 in the New King James. How are you teaching your spirit so that when God calls you to say something for Him, you will be prepared? You will want to leave something behind when you depart this world; will it be something that will matter in eternity, like introducing someone to the Lord? Is it telling how God has changed you? You have a story–tell it!
  6. The Answer Is Christ: Everyone you meet has questions of one kind or another. People who are miserable are looking for an answer to their unhappiness; those who are hungry wish to be full, etc. You have the answer to all their questions: it is in the person of Jesus Christ, and His love for you and them. How much will it take for you to risk your reputation to accept His gift of salvation and then introduce Him to your friends?

Life here is not easy. Believers, in particular, have a hard time, not because of the sinners (although that doesn’t help!), but because of those who would make you feel you have crossed a line with your past life and are not worthy to be saved. God does not have that standard: He says through Joel, the prophet, and later Paul, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13). It doesn’t matter what you have done, what you wear, how long your hair is, or how many tattoos you have, God looks at your heart, not at your outward appearance, and seeks someone who is longing for Him. Cling to that verse, and know He died for you.

As you go through this week, take time to read John 17 each day, and decide if you have the type of relationship with Jesus Christ that will give you the strength to take a stand for what is right and true, based on His word. If you are being a “closet Christian,” don’t you think it’s time to confess Him before others? Try to be a light in the area where God has placed you, so that others will see the change and want what you have!

Focal Passage: John 17:1-26, Romans 1:16, 10:13.

Memory Verse: John 17:17, 18: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

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Welcome! Everything is rather under construction, but you are among the first to visit, so let me explain the objective here! This is not a series of adventures–though I seem to have them often–because I usually document them in another place: Love Notes From God Blog, (which is easier if you just click on the link available).

If you’re human, you probably realize how often we get hungry: food is comfort, is something that gives us energy when we’re flagging, helps us grow (sometimes sideways), sustains us through tough periods, and on and on. Pizza is my favorite. Over chocolate, over anything.

Our spirit needs food as well. You are not handicapped, probably, to the extent that you know how to get something to eat when you desire to be fed. Your spirit tells you that it, too, needs sustenance, but usually we are too busy to stop and listen to it. Eventually a situation develops that drives us to prayer (hence, the aftermath of 9/11), and sometimes we haven’t “stocked the pantry,” so to speak. That’s what this site is about: hungering and thirsting after righteousness. If you hunger, God has promised He will fill you. He is the only one I know Who does what He has promised.

So, get ready to study, either on your own, or with someone else: it can be just two or three of you, or a group. The questions will be written in a form that can be personal or for as many as you want.

These are taken from Group Notes that I write following the Sunday morning sermons preached at a local church here in central Virginia, and are read all over the world. If you want to hear the sermon so that you have a basis for the study, click on the church link on the side strip, and go to sermon archives under Watch/Listen. You will be blessed if you study along with us, and it would be a joy to know you by name!

Give me a few more days to get the site finished and active, and hopefully you’ll join us next week. It is a pleasure to have you on board!