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God's Way

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 13:1-31

A life that matters is lived God’s Way; it’s a life of uncompromising obedience to His Word. This doesn’t just happen naturally. In fact, the sinful part of man constantly pulls him away from God and His perfect plan for us. Knowing this, we must do all we can to remove sinful influences that are destructive toward our Faith and not allow them to take root and take up residence in our lives. It’s vital to know and keep His commands when it comes to revenue, rest and relationships. These important areas of our lives directly affect the health of the only real essential area of life: our relationship with God. Are you living your own way? The World’s way? Or are you living God’s Way?

Scripture References: Galatians 5:17, Matthew 18:8-9, Galatians 5:4, Romans 7:6-7, Exodus 20:8, 11, Isaiah 30:15, 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, James 4:4

No Thanks

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 12: 1-47

Thanksgiving should be more than just a holiday; it should be a regular part of our lives. Our natural tendency, however, is to compare ourselves to other people which leads to discontentment. We end up focusing more on the problems in our lives and the things we don’t have. We give no thanks. Yet, even during times of loss and difficulty, it’s important to praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He’s done. If we have nothing else, we have been redeemed from our sin and given the gift of Life in Christ. Thanksgiving can be expressed through worship – singing songs of gratitude and praise - and through giving cheerfully back to God. When we choose to give thanks, we protect ourselves against anger and bitterness, and we experience greater health in our mind, body and relationships. Let’s give thanks this holiday and every day!

Scripture References:  Nehemiah 12:1, 8, 24, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Nehemiah 12:27-30, 31, 38, 40, 43, Numbers 19:9, Hebrews 9:14

Willing

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 11:1-36

Once the walls were rebuilt, it wastime for people to move back into the city. This was no small challenge for those who would be moving in. They would have to relocate their families, prepare their new homes, clean and rebuild a city that had been abandoned for 142 years - all with the threat of attack still looming. Despite these difficulties, there were some who were willing to move back into Jerusalem. They recognized God’s hand at work and the opportunity to be a part of it. A life that matters is a life that willingly goes where God leads, no matter the work or risk. Many people wait for a significant life to happen by chance, but God wants it to happen by choice. When we choose to answer His call, we experience His blessing and our lives are remembered. Are you still waiting, or are you willing?

Other Scripture References: Nehemiah 11:1-2, Luke 9:23, Joshua 24:15, 2 Corinthians 8:5, Judges 5:2

Live Free

Key Scripture: Nehemiah 9:1-39

America is the “Land of the Free,” yet most Americans live in slavery every day. We celebrate our freedom to do what we want, forgetting that true freedom is also being able to not do what we don’t want. We are slaves to sin, to fear, and to addiction. We regularly make and break commitments to God, to others and even to ourselves. We’ve become accustomed to failure and all too familiar with shame. But Jesus came to set us free. We are no longer slaves to the rules of this world because we are children of God. We’ve been redeemed to be different. As followers of Jesus, we don’t live like others live, talk like others talk or even think like others think. He brought us into His family so we can stand out in this world. Is your life different? Are you really living free?

Scripture References: Nehemiah 9:36-38, John 8:34, Romans 7:15, 18-19, 24-25, Hebrews 7:22, 8:8-10, Nehemiah 10:28-29, John 12:31-32, 1 Peter 2:9, Nehemiah 10:30-39, Matthew 6:24, 33, Luke 12:15-21, Matthew 6:19-21, 2 Samuel 24:24

Acknowledge

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 9

 As we look to build the things God calls us to build, we can’t neglect the spiritual rebuilding He wants us to do as well. A real covenant relationship with God is filled with joy and happiness, but it is also about genuine confession and repentance. God calls His people to repentance along with unbelievers – to turn from our sin and turn back to Him. His hope is that we will clearly recognize the direct connection between the evil in our own hearts and the struggles that keep us in bondage: fear, doubt, addiction, shame and more. If we want to experience a life of significance we must acknowledge our sin and our need for God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

Scripture References:  Psalm 32:5, Matthew 5:4, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 40:30-31, Ephesians 4:17-24

Oh Joy

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 8:1-18

A life that matters is a life marked by joy. Life has its trials and pursuing God’s calling often invites even more hardships, yet joy gives us an unshakeable foundation of strength. Joy isn’t the result of emotion – it’s not a feeling. It’s not even the result of volition – it’s not a choice. Joy is the supernatural result of my condition before God. It’s the fruit of knowing i am loved and accepted by my Creator, not because I deserve it, but because of Jesus Christ. No trial, tribulation or loss can change this reality or take it away from me. Happiness is a fickle friend that can change, wane and even leave over time. Yet, joy is steadfast and loyal. Grief and sorrow will never overcome it. No matter how many bad things we experience, it doesn’t change the infinite goodness of my right relationship with God. One day, we will be entirely free from pain, but until then we must remember our true source of strength: the joy of the Lord!

Scripture References:  Nehemiah 8:1-8, Hebrews 5:13-14, Matthew 6:21, 2 Timothy 3:16, Nehemiah 8:9-12, John 15:11, Nehemiah 8:13-18, Revelation 21:4

Calling Home

Key Scripture: Nehemiah 6:15-7:73

God’s priorities are clear. Jesus came to reach out to the least, the last, and the lost and bring them to a place where they can experience His peace and protection. He is the Good Shepherd who will leave the 99 sheep already in the fold in order to bring back just one who has wandered away. And once he returns, there’s a party! Do we as the Church have that same heart? It’s easy to get caught up in all of our Christian activities and duties, forgetting that countless people in this world are struggling with no help, no hope and no home. They live every day in fear, feeling like they don’t belong. At one point, they might even think about visiting church, but the fear of judgment and rejection is just one of many overwhelming reasons to remain where they are. We have the great opportunity and responsibility to bring these people the Good News of forgiveness and belonging in Christ. To do this, we must be a safe place for the exile – a place of Grace who loves people as they are. Do you know someone who needs this Good News today? Call them Home!

Other Scripture References: Nehemiah 6:15-19, Genesis 4:5-7, 1 Corinthians 4:20, Nehemiah 7:1-7, Luke 15:3-7

Seize the Moment

Sexual Assault. False Accusations. These two issues have dominated the headlines and infiltrated mainstream contemporary cultural conversation. Sadly, these two problems are not new to our world, but have been occurring in one form or another for most of human history. When our country and society is unraveling and being torn apart, how do we respond as God’s people? The Church has been the most influential, world-shaping and world-changing organization in the history of our world. It’s time to reclaim that identity as the people of God. In times of unrest, division and instability, we are called to make things right by making Peace. In doing so, we will help preserve our corrupted and corruptible society and be known as children of God. We can’t just hide behind the walls of the Church. We must lead the way in our country and culture – loving and helping others at our own expense in a way that doesn’t make sense to most people around us. We must show this world who Jesus is.

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 5 and 6

Other Scripture References: Matthew 15:19-20, James 4:17, Matthew 5:9, James 3:18, Matthew 5:13, Matthew 6:19-21

Fight

Nehemiah’s story shows that whenever you try to accomplish anything significant for the Lord, you will face strong opposition. The name “Satan” means “adversary”; he is committed to opposing God and His people, especially when they are zealous to exalt God’s glory.

On the personal level as long as you live with one foot in the world, living according to the world’s values and for the world’s goals, Satan won’t often trouble you. You can go to church and even pray and read your Bible, and he won’t mind. But the minute you wake up from your spiritual lethargy, shake off the worldly mindset, and commit yourself to radical obedience to Jesus Christ, you will encounter spiritual opposition! We have all been called to make a difference in this world for God’s glory.  This call will require us to stand up and fight the opposition that is certain to come, so Fight!

Scripture References

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah 4:1-23

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders. So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.  But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. 10 In Judah it was said,“The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” 15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” 21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.

 Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 1 Corinthians 7:17

Only let each person lead the lifethat the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.

John10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

1 Peter 5:8-9 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, 

 Ephesians 6:10-14a

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, ……..

Quote

“If we don't fight for what we 'stand for' with our passionate words and honest actions, do we really 'stand' for anything?”  ~ Tiffany Madison

James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

 1 Corinthians 9:26

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 

 2 Corinthians 2:10-12

Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Difference

When we see something that needs to be different, how can we begin making a difference? Many of us feel the weight of a God-given burden at some point in our lives, but we don’t know what to do with it. How do we take what could and should be and make it what is? Living out God’s call on your life begins with passion. According to a recent Gallup poll, a mere 30% of the U.S. workforce is passionate about what they do for a living. This means 7 out of 10 employees are either miserable at work, or at best merely going through the motions. A change of position does not guarantee an increase in passion. Instead, significance can be found in any and every career by living out God’s call on our lives. Many people abandon their God-given burdens because they’re unwilling to risk their stable and comfortable routine. Others miss out due to a lack of planning or reluctance to work hard. While God’s call is never easy, He doesn’t ask us to do it alone. He has given us others to work alongside us as He works through us. Are you ready to make a difference?

Scripture References

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 2 & 3

Nehemiah 2:1-8

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

Hebrews 11:32-38

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Philippians 3:7-8

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again…but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Teddy Roosevelt

Nehemiah 2:9-16

Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass.15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

Nehemiah 2:17-20

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Matthew 5:16

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Genesis 2:15

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

In the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered. – Jim Collins

Nehemiah 3:1-2

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

Think about this for a moment. What would happen if you were to begin speaking to people’s potential rather than their performance? What if you made it a habit to dispense the same type of grace to others as has been poured out on you? What would happen if you intentionally laced your conversations with notions of what could be true of the people around you? – Andy Stanley