Friday, July 20, 2012

nehemiah: a heart that can break (session five).

Things I've Learned Lately [Session Five]
  • Nehemiah's vision to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem wasn't accompanied by a flurry of signs and wonders. Quite the opposite, actually. Nehemiah heard from God based on a profound need. After being informed of the need, Nehemiah prayed and sought God's heart.
  • Our common, every day realities are ideal environments for God to put something in our hearts to do. According to Nehemiah, it is possible for Him to do this wherever a need appears, coupled with a willing heart to pray and to act.
  • Do not forsake the truth that God has chosen you, loves you, and has set you apart for wonderful works in His kingdom. [See Colossians 3:12].
  • The Hebrew word for confession is yada, which means "to express praise, give thanks, extol, make a public admission." Confession isn't confined to expressing sins. We can also confess God's name, our faith, or a truth. When we confess, we are simply agreeing with God or telling the truth about a matter. Sometimes our confession will be about our sin, other times it will be about God's goodness, majesty, faithfulness, compassion.
  • Confessing God's faithfulness doesn't mean ignoring the hard facts in our lives but reminds us that He is the only One who can truly handle them.
  • A faithful heart is not necessarily a perfect heart.
  • The older we get, the more history we have with the Lord, meaning we can reflect on more of His faithfulness in our lives.
  • God sees where you are and hears your cry. One of the worst things we can believe about God during a season of hardship is that we have somehow escaped His view or His hearing. God is not distant. He guides, speaks, and clearly lays out a way for us to live through His commands and laws. These laws exist so we can know life in its truest sense.
  • Whenever the Israelites faced difficulty in the desert they chose to believe something false about God. Three of these falsities were that He had abandoned them, withheld from them, or wouldn't meet their needs.
  • Romans 15:4 says that everything written in the past was written to teach us so we can have hope through the endurance and encouragement of the Scripture.
  • To put our faith in something that has not been promised to us is crazy or at best vainly hopeful; to refuse believing in something God has guaranteed us is equally ludicrous.
  • One of the ways we can tell we're enslaved to a false god is when the harvest God intends for us to enjoy is going someplace else -- like when we're giving our best away for the sake of securing the approval or attachment of someone. Same thing when we don't have control over our bodies but are bound to food, a person, fear, the television, etc. As well, we know we're enslaved when we've lost control over what God intends for us to rule over. Essentially, we know we are living as slaves when we're not enjoying what God has promised to us. The beauty is that we can find our way out of slavery by turning our hearts back to God through confession.
  • For many of us, a clear conscience and a pure heart for the purpose of drawing near to Jesus remains an intellectual understanding, sadly separated from our realities.
  • We deny the love of Jesus when we cling to self-hatred and resist the offer of a pure conscience by hanging onto guilt.
  • "Many people do not show growth in their walks with Jesus because they do not want to change the way they are living. At times they might even be moved to tears by their failures. But they do not surge ahead because basically they want to do exactly as they have been doing." - James Montgomery Boice

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