05 Feb Discussion Guide: Unshakable Week 1
Vision for the Upcoming Weeks
Over the next 6 weeks we will be going on a journey together as a church community. It will be a journey where we encourage one another, challenge one another, and grow together in our leadership and pursuit of Christ as we focus in on what the Bible calls discipleship. What we are asking you to do is commit to 6 weeks of gatherings. Three large group gatherings every other week, and 3 discipleship gatherings in between. Within these smaller gatherings we will be looking at leadership qualities and character traits necessary to impact the lives of others. Over the next week we want you to partner up with 2 other people and for the next month-and-a-half commit to one another to meet together, grow together, and pursue one another in relationship. We need (1/3 of your group size) people who would like to facilitate a group of 3, and then everyone else can decide which of those facilitators you want to join. If you need help figuring out who you should connect with then ask your group leader to give you a hand. The goal is that at the end of these 6 weeks we will all have a better understanding of what Gospel Community is all about.
Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.
This week we begin a series walking through the book of Nehemiah. The series is called Unshakeable, and we will be looking at what it takes to stand firm when life, circumstances or relationships try to shake you to the core. In a world of instability, this is how we can remain stable and be a people who are unshakeable.
What kind of situations typically cause people to be shaken?
How have you seen those situations affect the lives of others?
George Herbert, 17th Century English Poet
“Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardener.”
How does the Gospel turn “Death” into a gardener?
The Gospel is the guarantee of the resurrection. Jesus’ victory over sin, death, hell and Satan, is the first fruits of the eternal life we have been promised. Therefore, death no longer has the final word in our lives. Death is no longer the end of life, but simply the passage way that takes us into eternal life. Without the need to fear death, we can now learn the valuable lessons God wants to teach us in the death of something. See, death is the constant reminder that one, this world is not as God intended it to be, and two, that created things were never meant to bear the burden of our hopes, expectations and identity. So now, the death of something, or the loss of that thing we were putting our hopes in, serves to open our eyes to the reality of what God has actually made us for. For example, the loss of your possessions in a fire or a flood might end up producing in you a heart of compassion for children around the world who don’t have access to housing or education or clean water. The loss of a child might hep you to see God’s heart for the orphan. The loss of financial security might move you to stand up for those in the homeless community. There’s a thousand ways it plays out, but the truth is that because of the Gospel we can now let the touch of death cultivate in us a gift of life, not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others as well.
In what ways have you experienced a “death” in your life?
How have you seen God use that loss to actually grow something new in you? (i.e. new convictions, new passions, new callings)
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
How do most people react when that moment of shaking, or crisis, hits?
People react in all kinds of different ways, but many respond in one of two ways. Either, because of their fear, they will grasp to take control of their situation, or they will completely lose hope and panic. Those who take control do so in an attempt to stabilize themselves, to try and make the outcome of their situation as predictable as possible. They want to control the people around them. They want to control their environment. They want to control their emotions. These people tend to become cold and calculated when moments of crisis hit. On the other hand, the people who lose hope and panic tend to lose control of everything. They become so overwhelmed by the moment and what it will take to overcome it that they can’t see the forest from the trees, so-to-speak. These are the “sky is falling” kind of people. To them, fear is paralyzing. Because they can’t see a way out they just freeze in their panic.
How is Nehemiah’s reaction different than that?
Nehemiah neither freezes in fear, nor does he try to take control in his own power. The first thing Nehemiah thinks to do is to go to God in prayer. This shows that Nehemiah understands that God is both in control and trustworthy. Therefore, Nehemiah doesn’t need to be the one in control, nor does he need to let fear of the unknown paralyze him. He doesn’t need to try to control the people around him or his environment, nor does he freeze in the panic of his situation. Nehemiah sees that the “death” of Jerusalem and the shaking of the city walls is simply God’s call for him to be a stabilizing force in the midst of his people. He sees himself as a smaller piece in God’s plan, and that this moment of shaking is how God is preparing him to be the man those people are going to need him to be.
Why would you say prayer is the best, first step when we are faced with difficulties?
What part does repentance play in our prayer life?
What part does repentance play if we are going to be the kind of people who intercede and stand in the gap by praying for the parts of our world that are being shaken?
In both our prayer life and the role of intercession for others, repentance is the path of humility that paves the way for us to hear God’s voice. When we come to God on our own behalf, or on behalf of others, repentance is the acknowledgement that we are as much in need of God’s grace as anyone, that there is nothing in and of ourselves deserving of God’s power or answer to our prayers. This mindset keeps us from thinking we are the hero, or that somehow we have the answer to someone else’s problems, and keeps us focused on the One True Hero, Jesus the Messiah, as the only Answer anyone needs.
1 Corinthains 1:26-31
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
What kind of people does God usually use to solve the problems of the world? Can you give some examples?
When you look at the “shaking” moments you have experienced, and where you find yourself today, how might God want to use your story and your current reality to bring stability into the lives of others?
How does that thought, that God wants to use you to bring stability into the lives of others, make you feel? Why?
N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
“The church exists primarily for two closely correlated purposes: to worship God and to work for his kingdom in the world … The church also exists for a third purpose, which serves the other two: to encourage one another, to build one another up in faith, to pray with and for one another, to learn from one another and teach one another, and to set one another examples to follow, challenges to take up, and urgent tasks to perform. This is all part of what is known loosely as fellowship.”
How would a community of people who look to stabilize the lives of others, demonstrate God’s Kingdom to the world?
What would it take for this community group to do that?