Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vision [Nehemiah 2:11-20]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Do you struggle with being quick to give an answer and slow to stop, observe, and listen?  Why?
  • Ryan talked about Nehemiah's keen awareness about human beings' propensity towards chafing at change.  Why are we human beings so reluctant when it comes change?  What can we learn from Nehemiah with regards to dealing with change?
  • We live in a day and age where community is severely fractured and yet, Nehemiah reminds us how developing a hopeful outlook is based on community.  Why is community so important for the development of a hopeful outlook?  What does this community look like in our context?
  • What is Ryan's new favorite verse?  Why is it his favorite?  Is it hard to believe that God wants to use you in your "good work" to bear witness to His existence?
  • "You find out where your hope is when things are hard." [paraphrase from sermon]  Where or to what do you go in your times of despair?    What is the encouragement of the Gospel from this passage in Nehemiah?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Taking Costly Responsibility [Nehemiah 2:1-10]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Have you ever thought of leadership as "taking costly responsibility for the flourishing of others?"  Why is this all too often foreign to us?
  • What does "Ordinary Faithfulness" look like for you within the context which God has intentionally placed you?  With regards to "Ordinary Faithfulness" what can we learn from Nehemiah?
  • Nehemiah worked faithfully as a Jew in a position that was probably (at times, anyway) a fairly morally compromising place.  Likewise, Jeremiah encouraged the exiles in Babylon to seek the welfare of a Babylonian (i.e. pagan) city (see Jeremiah 29:7).  What would this look like in our present day context?  Why is this kind of work and faithful living difficult for us as Christians?
  • Tactful and honest.  How do we see this with Nehemiah in this passage?  Why is a proper balance of both so important?
  • Think of a time where you lacked being thoughtful in you planning or of being prayerful in your planning.  What happened?  Why do you suppose Nehemiah is so passionate about planning AND prayer?
  • Ryan noted that God wants and delights to use you to be a compelling witness of God to the world.  Do you believe this?  Why or why not?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready, Set, Pray [Nehemiah 1]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Ryan described a prayer retreat he attended in college.  Have you ever experienced a similar time of prayer (a retreat, prayer meeting, etc.) that you found challenging?  Why did you find it challenging?  
  • In the passage, we see that Nehemiah prayed first and then acted, but we often do it the other way around.  Why are we so prone to act first and then pray?  What does this reality reveal about us?
  • How do we numb ourselves to the brutality of the world?  Why do we do this?  How can we encourage one another to have broken hearts for the things that break God's heart?
  • It was interesting that Nehemiah felt the need to confess and identify himself with the sin of people who had died long before he was born.  Is this foreign to you?  Are there sins of the past we should consider identifying with and confessing?  What might those be for you/your family/our church/our nation, etc?
  • The deception of our perceived competence or power can prevent us from coming to the Lord in prayer.  What stumbling blocks do you see in your life that prevent you from praying to the Lord and showing confidence IN HIM instead?  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Living as New Creatures [Galatians 6:11-18]

Sermon Discussion Questions

  • Why does Paul feel the need to write these last few verses with his own hand?  Why is this significant?  
  • It’s easy to hide behind the comforts and boastings of this world and of our own heart.  What sorts of things do you hide behind?  What do you fear giving up?  What are you relying on for False Comfort?
  • What is the rule we are to follow for True Comfort and blessing?  Why do you think Paul uses the language of rule-following here?  What purpose does this serve?
  • As New Creatures, the Discipleship to which we are called is radical and totally counter-cultural.  Is it odd to think that we are called to be obsessors of a man and his cross?  What makes this difficult for us?  How can we grow in our obsession?