What was the worst or funniest present you ever received?
Lord, lead us beside the still waters, and restore our souls.
Nehemiah 1:3 (NLT, emphasis added): “They said to me, ‘Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’”
It is a lot easier to build than to rebuild. It is easier to give birth than to raise the dead. The devil loves it when our lives lie in rubble and we can’t see a way out. If the sand castle of your life was knocked down, would you have the mental fortitude to rebuild?
Because of sin, Israel was invaded by the Babylonians in 600 BC, taken captive, and led away to Babylon. Jerusalem was destroyed. Then, 70 years later, they were allowed to return, and thousands did. However, another 150 years went by as the Israelites lived in the rubble from the destruction. Nehemiah heard how bad it was and went to Jerusalem to set things back in order.
Let’s look at three specific traps we face when our lives lie in rubble.
Traps of the Rubble
Don’t believe the lie called “victim mentality” that is so prevalent in our society. It is easy to come to the conclusion that there must be a plot against you, that everything and everyone are against you. However, never forget that God is for you, no matter what is going on in your life. Until Nehemiah arrived to help God’s people rebuild, they did not know they had the favor of the king. In a similar fashion, we sometimes forget that we have the favor of the King of Kings.
Have you ever fallen prey to a victim mentality? Share with the group.
When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he couldn’t even make it through all the rubble; it was overwhelming. Sometimes your situation is so dire that you lose hope, overwhelmed by the scope of the problem. The devil will tell you that your life will never be the same, but answer him with, “No, it will be even better!” Remember, God specializes in rubble removal.
What happened to give you light at the end of the tunnel when you faced your darkest hour?
You may not think you have the energy to rebuild your life, but Scripture says God will give new strength to those who have none (Isaiah 40:31). What you really need is a team who can strengthen you when the chips are down. Iron sharpens iron, and we draw strength from other believers through fellowship.
What is your energy level like? Where do you draw strength? Share with the group.
Don’t believe the lie that you are all alone. Know that you cannot rebuild your life by yourself. Get in a B-Group; it takes a team, so get on one!
Don’t give in to the traps of the devil. Scripture teaches that “the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former … and in this place, I will give peace” (Haggai 2:9 NASB).
What is your favorite thing about going back to school?
Thank You, Lord, for You are the Alpha and Omega.
1 Corinthians 3:10–11 (NLT): “Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”
How can someone build well their entire life, one that guarantees reward? Consider that the foundation of a building is the most important part, and unless the roux is right, the gumbo will not be any good. So it is in our Christian walk. Our spiritual foundation is based on our relationship with Christ. Don’t get caught up with human leaders who are apt to disappoint.
Build on Christ. Don’t build on the foundation of religion. Don’t build on the foundation of other people. Build your marriage on Christ. Build your parenting on Christ. Build all aspects of your life on Christ alone.
How would you describe the foundation of your life? Share with the group.
Build with caution. Stay close to the blueprints and the foreman. Don’t stray from God’s Word. As 1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT, emphasis added) says, “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”
There is no “well done” without well doing. The materials you use to build upon your foundation are the motives that stimulate your actions. Think of it like this: faith is the gold building material, hope is the silver, and love are the jewels. Build with these, knowing that all three will survive the fire.
How long did it take you to align your life with God’s blueprint found in His Word? Share with the group.
Build for what’s coming. You won’t be judged for anyone else’s life or faith, but you will stand before God alone for your own judgment. If your foundation is not Christ, you will not stand on that day.
First Corinthians 3:13–15 (NLT) says, “But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”
Just as you prepare for a hurricane by buying a generator, gasoline, and food, you must prepare for eternity. Your life will be put to the test. Make sure you have the right foundation, are acting on what you believe, and are doing it with the right motives.
What goes through your mind when you contemplate the coming judgment? Share with the group.
Make a plan this week to build for what is coming. We each have an imminent day of judgment. Build for that day by surrendering to obey God’s ways.
Our foundation is Christ and His Word. Make sure that: You have the right foundation. You believe the right thing. You are acting on what you believe. You are doing it with the right motives.
What is your favorite po’boy? Where do you go to get it?
Thank You, Father, for Your presence.
Romans 12:1 (NLT, emphasis added): “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
The best me is surrendered. Surrendering your life to God is the first step to being the best you. Just coming to church doesn’t necessarily mean you are surrendered. Jesus said that those who do the will of His Father, not just say, “Lord, Lord,” are the ones who are truly surrendered.
Name an area of your life that was hard to surrender. Share with the group.
The best me is separated. As followers of Christ, we live differently. As Romans 12:2 (NLT, emphasis added) says: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Let God transform you by changing the way you think. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Living a separated life takes a worldview based on God’s Word. What verses help you to remain separated from sin and this present world ? Share with the group.
The best me is surrounded. Read Romans 12:4–5 (NLT) and James 5:16 (NLT). We are forgiven by confessing to God but healed by confessing to one another. You are only as sick as your deepest secret. Show me your five closest friends and I will show you where you will be in five years. As an African proverb says, “Sheep travel in herds, but snakes are always alone.” True growth happens in the context of relationships.
Who surrounds you in life? From whom do you draw strength? Share with the group.
We are not defined by money, background, education, good works, race, or any other earthly variable. We are defined by our faith. Living surrendered to God makes us the best version of ourselves that we can be.
You need others to be the best you can be. Do you have anybody speaking into your life? If so, who is it, and how do they help you be the best person you can be? Get surrounded by strong believers. Make time to serve on the A-Team.
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