Study 2: Where did it all go wrong?

lightBulb.jpgEvery vision has a light bulb moment. This is the point when dreams are beginning the process of becoming reality. At this stage there’s a greater understanding of what has to be done, how it will pan out and what resources – financial and human – might be required to get things on their way.

This isn’t, though, the very first stage of realising God’s best for us and for His Church. Just as the bulb needs to be wired to a power source before it sheds light in the darkness, we need to be fully connected to God to grasp the significance and the application of His Vision for His church.

How can we prepare to receive the vision in order to take the next steps to give it life?

“A Biblical Christian is not just someone who holds certain beliefs about the Bible. He or she is also someone who leads the kind of life demonstrated in the Bible: a life of personal, intelligent interaction with God.” (Dallas Willard)

"What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him." (Oswald Chambers)

Pause for thought

  1. Why do we listen to God?
  2. The film “Silence” is now on general release. It portrays the struggle to remain faithful when God is seemingly silent: it’s a condition many Christians experience from time to time. What can we do if this is happening to us or the church?
  3. How do you know that what you’re hearing is right?
  4. What safeguards might we put in place to make sure we’re not deceived or misled?

The story of Jerusalem’s rebuilding begins with a homesick palace slave enquiring after his friends. His heart is still in his homeland, even if his body is more than 700 miles away in Susa, principal city of the Empire.

What he hears is hardly inspiring. Living under military occupation, the people are defenceless and dispirited, with their city in ruins. The short term outlook is bleak, the long term future hopeless.  How will one faithful believer inspire a community and rebuild not just a city, but a nation?

To think about

Rebuilding broken hearts (Nehemiah 1: 1 – 4)

  1. Please read Nehemiah 1.  What is our initial reaction to hearing bad news?
  2. How does Nehemiah react to the news he receives? (vv. 4) [Note: In OT times the City of Jerusalem was seen as God’s City: a devastated city was synonymous with a broken, faithless, nation]
  3. What is the significance of his actions?
  4. Please read Matthew 9:36. At what point are we really moved by what we see, hear or experience?
  5. What does the bible teach us about responding to need and injustice?

When we’re faced by a big problem we can either be overwhelmed by what needs to be done or we can cast caution to the winds, confronting the issues head on with little thought or advance planning. In both cases - admittedly extremes - it’s a matter of how we view what’s in front of us, seeing it only from where we stand.  That can be very dangerous as it relies on our being right and seeing everything there is to see: real life suggests that it’s usually very different as Nehemiah’s experiences and actions demonstrate.

To think about

Restoring superficial relationships (Nehemiah 1: 6 – 11)

  1. Please reread verses 6 to 11. What strikes you most about Nehemiah’s prayer?
  2. Which part of this prayer do you find most helpful in supporting/directing your own prayer life?
  3. Why is it important for us to recognise God’s nature and character and to refer to this in our prayers?
  4. How can we, like Nehemiah, keep the promises we make to God? (see verses 8 to 9)
  5. In what ways does the seemingly throw away line right at the end of this passage, help us to understand that God has prepared the ground for us all?

This week

  • take time this week to wait on God: if you can, share the ways in which God has spoken, when you next meet
  • pray for GHBC as we receive and respond to God’s vision

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