Take Sunday's message into the other 167 hours of your week. Discuss the questions below with someone else or use the questions as a personal reflection throughout the week.
This is the time of year when we become painfully aware of where we are not, who we are not, and what we need to do differently. And thus, we focus on ourselves to be better, thinner, richer or smarter. Traditionally, this me-focused approach is built upon the idea that being selfishness will lead to happiness. But real research shows that selflessness, not selfishness, is what brings about real happiness.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, what motivated you to make it?
TALK IT OUT
1. Read Nehemiah 1. Talk about what sacrifices Nehemiah made. What qualities did Nehemiah possess that are worth emulating?
2. What are some things that prevent you from moving from just feeling compassion for others to acting compassionately on others’ behalf?
3. Nehemiah started praying and fasting for his city and people (Neh. 1:1, 4) in the Month of Kislev(November/December). His prayer was not answered until the Month of Nisan, (March/April). That’s four to five months of praying and fasting. When was the last time prayed for one thing for 3-5 months? How was that answered?
4. What are some of the excuses we make to prevent us from living a life unleased? Notice how
Nehemiah began his prayer to God. He described God using these words (Neh. 1:4-6):
b. God of Heaven
e. Who keeps his covenant
What do these terms say about Nehemiah’s trust in God? Have you seen God manifest these attributes in your life? How so?
LIVE IT OUT
Write down and discuss with your group the thing that makes you weep. Then identify how the Church (God’s holy nation—1 Peter 2:9-10) could possibly respond to this?
Last week we asked the question, “What are the things that make you weep?” But as we all know, just having an emotion about something doesn’t change things in the real world. This Sunday we looked at how Nehemiah did something with his emotion. His steps offer some guidance for us as we attempt to turn our inside emotions into outside motion.
Remember a time when a strong emotion led to you do something to help someone. Tell that story with your group. Have you ever had a time when you had an emotional experience around someone else’s pain, but you did not act on that emotion or feeling?
TALK IT OUT
1. Pastor Rusty highlighted three main features of Nehemiah’s spiritual life: Prayer, Fasting, Bible Study.
Which of these three do you: a) do the most? b) do the least? c) should study more about?
Read Nehemiah’s prayer (Neh. 1:4-11). Describe how you think these three spiritual activities work together.
2. Read about Nehemiah’s interaction with King Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1-9). How risky was Nehemiah’s request? Discuss with your group how prayer, fasting, and Bible study aided Nehemiah for this moment.
3. Pastor Rusty mentioned that we have moments when our passions and our possessions overlap, and at this juncture, there is always risk. Write down at least one way your passions and your possessions overlap. What are the risks here?
4. Read about how the Macedonians combined their possessions and passions (2 Cor. 8:1-7). What surprises you about their generosity?
LIVE IT OUT
What is one step you can take this week to fulfill your passion to help someone?