Summary: The Rebuilding Faith series focuses on seven steps to experiencing a renewal of faith. The series is 7 sessions and the series diagram can be downloaded at www.michaelrhodge.com.
Session Focus: Identifying with God’s Word
Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 8
Consider starting this session with an interactive dialogue. Invite your group members to share about someone they dreamed of being when they were growing up OR someone their kids/grandkids identified with. Ask them to share what comes to mind as they think about someone they or their children identified with and dreamed of being.
Purpose of Discussion: As group members have had an opportunity to share, transition into this fifth session by sharing that the focus of our session for this week is to “Identify with God’s Word”. Just as group members have shared different individuals or characters that they identified with growing up, so our purpose and calling as believers is to identify with God’s Word as the guide for our lives.
Putting this Session in Context
This is the 5th session in this “Rebuilding Faith” series. That means that for the past 4 weeks, your group has studied the life and ministry of Nehemiah. These sessions have focused on how Nehemiah led God’s children in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. But what our group has also discovered is that his story is about so much more than just walls – it’s about trusting in God when the odds were stacked against them. It’s about depending on God’s strength when theirs was gone. And as we have walked through this story…we’ve seen 4 keys already to “Rebuilding Faith”.
1. Recognizing that at times we have failed in our walk with Christ. But beyond that…
2. We examined our brokenness…and where there are cracks in our faith. Then we moved to…
3. Believing that God is faithful and basing everything upon that reality. And as He’s faithful…
4. We united our focus towards knowing and serving the Lord more each and every day.
Summary: So that’s what we’ve discovered so far. And in this 5th session, we are considering how God’s Word is a critical part of this “Rebuilding Faith” journey.
Meeting a New Key Character
Now obviously, the character that we have been focusing on over the past four weeks has been Nehemiah. We’ve talked about how he was a great leader and how he was a great example for the people. But now we are introduced to another key character - Ezra.
The occasion for this introduction was the celebration of the feast of the seventh month. Now what’s clear is that God wanted His children to commemorate special events, because the beginning of every month featured a sacred festival. But this particular event here in chapter 8 was distinguished as "the feast of trumpets," which extended over two days. As they celebrated this particular festival, one part of the festival that was required was the “reading of the Law”. But what WAS NOT a given was the RESPONSE of the people that we’re going to see in this session. And so as Ezra stands to read the Law, maybe his expectation would have been no different than the other observances – but God shows up and moves among His people.
Applying this to Us: And so as we seek to capture in this 5th session the idea of “Identifying with God’s Word”…we are going to use a key word – the word pinpoint. You see, if I identify something…I pinpoint it as the person or the object. And so what can we “pinpoint” about God’s Word from Nehemiah 8?
Well the first pinpoint that will help us “identify with God’s Word” is this…
I. Pinpoint your Time - Identifying with God’s Word requires time in encountering God’s Word.
Read Nehemiah 8:1-3
Nehemiah records a key response of the people there in those first few verses – they were “attentive to the Law”. And the first thing that set them up for that attentive focus on God’s Word is the fact that they “pinpointed their time” on the Word.
How did they “pinpoint their time”? Well, first of all, they did it corporately.
a. A Time for of all of the community.
(Group Leader: Invite the group members to keep their Bibles opened to Nehemiah 8 throughout the session).
Notice what it says in vs. 1, “…all of the people gathered together…”
This was a community agreement to seek the Lord as they joined together to hear from God’s Word.
Group Discussion Opportunity: When you get together with a group of friends and it’s time to decide on where to go out to eat together…are you the one throwing out suggestions OR are you waiting on everyone else to decide? Which are you?
Discussion Transition: While it may be tough to get a consensus in a group on eating arrangements, the decision to gather around the Word of God here in Nehemiah 8 came as a time for all of the community. And at this consensus meeting, Ezra was invited to read the Law!