Summary: The "Rebuilding Faith" series focuses on seven steps to renewing our faith. Using the example and ministry of Nehemiah, participants will walk one step per week closer to a renewal of faith. Diagram for series available at "http://www.michaelrhodge.com".
Seven Steps to Experiencing a Renewal of Faith
by Rev. Michael R. Hodge
Session Four: “Staying the Course” (United Focus)
Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 6:1-4, 10-16
Source: One of the resources in this week’s session is a message by Pastor Brian Bill of Pontiac Bible Church in Illinois. His message “Dealing with Distractions” helped to give structure to several of these points.
Notes for the Leader: In this session our study will turn towards the positive steps we can take in rebuilding faith. Building upon last week’s session of “Believing God’s Faithfulness”, now we are moving forward with this week’s material based on Step Four – United Focus. I pray that this session will open the eyes of your group to the need for a real resolve in seeking God on a daily basis. Real growth in faith will only come as we “Stay the Course” in our walk with Christ.
Pass by a golf course on any sunny afternoon and you will see faithful players walking or riding through the course. Golf is a great game to enjoy with friends on a beautiful day. But it’s also a test of endurance. It’s not a game that passes in just a few minutes. It is typically a game that lasts several hours. And as you struggle through one hole, you have to gather your resolve and improve on the next hole. In other words, it’s all about keeping your focus no matter how distracted you may become!
In this fourth session, we are going to be talking about what we’re calling a “United Focus”. Just as a successful golfer keeps his focus even when distractions come from every direction, so we need that resolve in our faith if we are to continue in this Rebuilding Faith journey. As we study Nehemiah 6 together, we are going to see these truths lived out in a very real way!
As we have moved through these sessions, this material has been all about Rebuilding Faith. It may very well be that you (as a group member) are not in a place of broken faith. In fact, you may be at a place of real encouragement and growth in faith. But imagine for a moment that this wasn’t the case.
For example, let’s imagine that you are at a place of real crisis in your faith. You’ve been out of fellowship with God. You haven’t prayed, sought Him, or worshipped Him for quite some time. And now you find yourself at a crossroad. Well what this journey THUS FAR has taught us is that…
1. STEP ONE is to recognize where you’ve missed the mark. That first step may not be a long process, but you need to look at your life and see where you’re off course.
2. STEP TWO is to examine your brokenness. Not just “Are you off course”…but what led you off course? What caused you to stray away from faith?
3. STEP THREE is that point where you need to make a decision. Are you going to trust and believe in God’s faithfulness? Because if you ARE, then now you have reason to press ahead in this journey.
And so that’s where we find ourselves in this journey of REBUILDING FAITH.
As we are willing to build upon the foundational truth that God is faithful…at this point in our journey we are now setting our focus FORWARD! We’re moving from broken walls to truly rebuilding a nation!
Encourage the group members to once again refer to the diagram that is guiding this study. This week’s step is entitled “United in Focus”. In a very basic definition, this step is all about eliminating the distractions that hinder personal spiritual growth.
To get the group involved early in the discussion, you may want to take a moment to discuss the varied responses encountered with speaking publicly. Talk about how some direct their attention at their feet, others will direct their attention at the number of bulbs out in the chandeliers, and some even direct their attention on the back side of their eyelids!
The point is this - ALL are directing their attention on SOMETHING. The question that we want to address in this session is, “Are we uniting our focus on the RIGHT things?”
I. Focus on His Direction. - Nehemiah 6:1-7
Murder Mysteries: Often local theaters will offer a production surrounding a murder mystery theme. The characters will move in and out of the story with just enough suspicious clues to make you believe that they are indeed the guilty party. If the play is written well, the audience is held in suspense all the way to the closing curtain when the guilty party is revealed!
In the same way, here in chapter 6, we have the makings of a murder mystery. There’s a very clear reason why Sanballat and Tobiah are wanting to meet with Nehemiah. They want to KILL HIM!