Saturday, July 7, 2012

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

I realized that I was a week ahead of my teammates in this bible study, so I took a week off to get on their schedule! Now that we're on track, here are some little gems that I learned from the third session:

Things I've Learned Lately [Session Three]
  • God commanded the Israelites to leave their extra sheaves, olives, and grapes for the foreign, the fatherless, and the widow - for all of the people who didn't have what the Israelites had and who didn't have the means to get what they had. He commands us to do the same with our paychecks and material goods! 
  • Clashes aren't only reserved for the good guys versus the bad guys; sometimes the most difficult trials we face are within our own walls. 
  • We expect enemies to wound us, but wounds from a relative or loved one inflict hurt inside the private property lines of our souls. Those closest to us have intimate access, making their wounds the most penetrating. 
  • One of the most insidious characteristics of oppression and abuse is that it's always inflicted upon the powerless. 
  • We need to ask ourselves if we care about injustice. If we do, what are we doing about it? 
  • Even if we deserve what's coming to us, if the end result is not the love of God and the love of others, what lies inside the lines of permissible is no longer beneficial. This is gospel living, as opposed to a life driven by getting whatever is rightfully ours. 
  • Though we have every right to receive the material rewards of hard-earned work, occasionally a higher goal is worth setting those material rewards aside. Nehemiah is an example of this, as he loved people far more than whatever money could provide. 
  • Fear, insecurity, and doubt cause us to let down our guard and give in to the Enemy. Stay focused on God and keep His goals in your sight. He's got your back! 
  • Pride and arrogance are completely contrary to God's heart. 
  • Men and women alike know what it's like to face discouragements and setbacks, even intimidating enemies who never cease to amaze us with their varying bullets of fear and lies. The trick is to learn how to deal with condemning voices and distractions while not forsaking the work God has called us to. 
  • Determining what we should say yes to and what we need to say no to is often one of the hardest things to discern, especially since inexhaustible needs and opportunities surround us. When you clarify who God created you to be and what He wants you to do, you can more easily determine what opportunities fit into your vision and which ones don't. 
  • One of the greatest tactics of the Enemy is that he will lie to us and then try to attach us to that lie with a cord of fear - they are codependent little things. We can allow others to talk us into almost anything when lies and fear dictate our actions. Lies and fear always have a negative goal: they attempt to destroy the person and thus the project the person is behind. 
  • Anytime someone encourages us to do something contrary to God's word, we can know for certain this advice is not from God. 
  • God stands to accomplish the impossible through us while too often we're content to settle for the explainable. The impossible requires taking time to listen for what He has put in our heart to do. It means believing that He will accomplish what He has spoken. 
  • Any time God reaches into time, space, or history to accomplish something for us, we find ourselves in the midst of a miracle. Why? Because when God helps us it is nothing short of the supernatural colliding with the natural. 
  • Good deeds, whatever they may be, never trump a heart that deceives, mocks, or uses intimidation. May we stay out of the gossip fray, petition God to reveal our motives, and not allow ourselves to be swayed merely by outward deeds. 
  • People often find themselves entirely overwhelmed with the demands of ministry, but to what end? If you've lost sight of the people for whom you spend yourself, you have entirely missed the heart of why you do what you do. Nehemiah never lost sight of the purpose behind rebuilding the wall: it was always for the people.

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