Monday, May 21, 2012

A Committed Community [Nehemiah 9:38-10:39]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • What is significant about the fact that, after confession, the people commit in a covenant with each other?  In this day and age, does this corporate and communal commitment seem odd to us?  If so, why?
  • In our context, what do you think it looks like for us to commit to each other's purity?  As a group, brainstorm this, taking into account gender, all of our various ages, life-stages, etc.
  • Do you consider rest a priority?  What patterns might need to be re-considered in your life and the life of your family to make rest a priority?  What does this priority of rest say about God?
  • In this passage, it seems that God's people clearly feel and experience a connectedness to one another.  What barriers exist in our culture and context that prevent us from experiencing this connectedness today?  How does (or should) corporate worship remind us, grow us, and strengthen us in this connectedness?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Confession [Nehemiah 9:1-37]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Why does it seem, as Ryan described, that the longer we are Christians, the less is the depth of our confession?  What things do you see in your life that inhibit that depth?
  • In this passage, do you find it odd that the people of God spend time worshipping God in their confession?  Why do you suppose they do this?  What of their worship struck you the most?
  • Describe the types of confessions where someone simply feels bad and shameful at their sin versus someone who feels truly and totally brokenhearted over their sin.  What makes these two so different?
  • Why do you suppose the people claim responsibility of their fathers' sins?  What do you make of this?  How does this apply to us?
  • Do you question the safety of confessing to God?  To others?  If you do, why?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Joy [Nehemiah 8:13-18]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Ryan talked about the "unspoken" rules his family had when watching a ball game and the way in which following those rules sought to kindle appreciation and joy of the game.  Do you ever think of God's laws as seeking to kindle joy?  Why or why not?  What do you think about God using feasts in order to teach, shape, and kindle joy in his people?
  • Which do you lean more towards-being mistakenly strict (binding the conscience beyond the Word of God) or being mistakenly lax?  What is the balance we are to seek?  Where and how do we see this balance in the text?
  • What do you think about the mandate to feast and party?  Should this change the way we interact with one another?
  • What was the purpose of the booths?  Discuss what role the booths played in both glorifying the Lord and maximizing joy in the people.  How were the booths serving as a "re-representation" of the Exodus?
  • Even in your moments of greatest joy, do you find yourself still longing for something more?  Why is this?  Discuss what it looks like to pursue a holy discontentment.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Word [Nehemiah 8:1-12]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Describe the difference between active and passive listening.  Which one is more difficult?  Why?  
  • Our Reformed tradition has done much to rightly emphasize the elevation of God's Word.  What has this looked like, and what does this look like even today?  Can we physically elevate the Word (even by changing our posture) and still have a heart posture that is not submissive and humble?  Why do you suppose this is and why might we struggle with this in our tradition?
  • When you think of "Explaining" the Word to others (e.g. your children, your friends, other family members, non-Christians, etc.) do you normally think about the way the Word convicts or comforts?  Why do we need a proper balance of both?
  • After being convicted and comforted by God and his Word, the people are urged to do something interesting: party (vv. 10-12).  Why were they urged to rejoice and worship in this manner?  Ryan ended with the statement that "true hunger of the word should lead to joy, not bitterness."  What could (or does) this look like for you?  For us?