Tag Archives: Kelly Minter

I Must Obey

Just in time for the Olympics (ok that part is not in the Bible… but it is almost time for the Olympics in the twenty-first century) the Jews completed the wall surrounding Jerusalem in fifty-two days.  Working together the wall was finished in record time and had caused quite a disturbance among the enemies.  Since so much of the attention and effort went into restoring the wall other needs were neglected.  Nehemiah recognized that rebuilding the city was more than just repairing the walls… it was time to care for the poor and oppressed.  Jews were taking advantage of Jews, making it hard for some families just to get by and this angered Nehemiah.  Nehemiah demanded that this stop and commanded the Jews to make an oath before God that they would not try to capitalize on the powerless ever again.

Enemies tried to capture and attack Nehemiah and keep him from finishing his tasks but with each threat he turned to God in prayer.  With the wall completed Nehemiah longed to see the exiled Jews return to Jerusalem.  With a homecoming of sorts thousands of them relocated back to Jerusalem.  

This was a brief summary of Nehemiah 5-7 that was covered this week in Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break study.

Kelly Minter, Transformed Deeper

Do you ever get fatigued of doing something?  You know like get half way through a task you felt like you were supposed to do and originally had excitement about and then just lose your momentum.  I do.

In fact I have felt that way lately with leading this Bible study.  My enemy has been my own self telling me I can’t do it and that this it is just a waste a time.  Sometimes I would rather count the numbers than pray for the actual hearts this post might touch.  But this week I have learned that the Enemy is lying to me… trying to keep me from finishing God’s task He has placed on my heart to do.  Regardless of whether I feel like it is successful, I heard the calling of the Holy Spirit to lead this study and I must obey.

This whole process has been very humbling for me.  In no way do I even feel capable of sharing what’s on my heart every week.  It’s so much easier for me to show you the latest project I have been working on around the house!  Writing these posts causes me to rely heavily on God and pray that His words would just speak through me.

Like Nehemiah, I don’t want to let the enemy stop me or detour me from the task I was  called to complete.  Three weeks into this study I have finally learned when the enemy tries to attack turn to God in prayer.

So praying I have been doing.  Praying for strength and wisdom to write and praying for you, all my readers.  Before this study even began I started praying for all of you.  Praying for our relationships to deepen and that God would use this study to speak to us, to draw us closer to Him.

The enemy will choose ways to attack you in your own life as well.  That’s why it’s important that we remember to respond like Nehemiah and turn to God in prayer.  Why did the enemy attack Nehemiah… because “they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”

Memory Verse

Nehemiah said, : Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is sacred to our Lord.  Do not grieve for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Discussion Questions

  • In what area of obedience are you currently fatiguing?
  • Do you find that you really lose sight of the people in your life for all the lists, tasks, and busyness you’re trying to manage?  How can you change this?

* Questions taken directly from Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break.

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Want to catch up or start from the beginning?  It’s never too late to join the study.  Below are the links to the previous weeks or just check out the Transformed Deeper tab at the top of the page.  I would love for you to join the study!

Kick Off of Nehemiah Study

Week One Discussion

Week Two Discussion

Linking Up At:

Imparting Grace

New Life Steward

 

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A Kingdom Passion

The Story

Bathed in prayer and with the king’s permission, Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem.  A city in ruins.  After touring and inspecting the wall and all it’s gates one night, Nehemiah shared of God’s plans for the walls to be rebuilt and the city to be returned to glory.  Everyone set to work rebuilding the wall, all working together. Jerusalem’s enemies threatened and planned attacks on the city. Nehemiah responded with prayer and by appointing everyone to be armed and on guard at all times.  Through all this the entire wall was rebuilt to half it’s height with all the gates reinstalled for protection.

That is a very concise summary of Nehemiah, chapters 2-4 that we covered this week in Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break study.

Kelly Minter, Transformed Deeper

One thing I keep noticing in this study is that Nehemiah was a prayer warrior.  Prayer was his first response to everything; sharing his concerns with the king, recruiting the locals to help rebuild the wall, and dealing with accusations and threats from Jerusalem’s enemies.  I wish prayer was my first response to everything.  Do you ever have those moments when all of a sudden you hear that still small voice saying, “Why don’t you just pray about it already!”

Often times if I sense God leading me to do something, I get so excited that my mind starts racing ninety to nothing.  Then halfway through the planning process or sometimes even the action process I realize… I forgot to pray.  And not just a “God bless this idea” prayer but a “God this all yours and not about me prayer”.

Besides being an excellent prayer warrior, Nehemiah was also a wonderful leader.  But let’s not focus on that.  Instead, let’s look at how everyone worked together to rebuild the wall for good.  Everyone.  Lower class and upper class, skilled and common man, political leaders and citizens.  No one group sat out of this task.  They all united together to rebuild the wall.

We are all blessed with different skills and talents.  Each one can be used to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). How beautiful it is when we all come together corporately to work for the Lord.

I have had the opportunity to go on a couple of mission trips in the past few years.  Some of them have been medical mission trips.  While I have no medical training (besides being able to specify finishes for a hospital, surgery center or other medical facility) God was still able to use me on the trips.  I got to play with the children, give eyeglasses to people, and share the gospel after patients were attended to by the medical professionals.  Even though I lacked medical skills, I in no way felt like I was able to contribute less than others.  We were all there as a team.  And we all know the saying there is no “i” in team but there is a God!

Kelly stresses the importance of gates for the city and also for our own spiritual lives.  Now I don’t have any physical gates up in my life.  Although sometimes having one in the kitchen separating me from the chocolate wouldn’t be such a bad idea!  I do have areas of weakness that I feel I need a hedge of protection around.

For instance, I feel that I, like probably a majority of our over publicized to country struggles with materialism.  Show me some cute clothes, cool gadget, or great piece of furniture long enough and I’m going to want it.  When these desires begin to take over my thoughts they also begin to take a precedence over God… essentially becoming an idol.  Since I am aware of this weakness I try to limit what I am exposed to. I no longer roam the mall being enticed by all the window displays.  We really don’t watch a ton of T.V. so my mind isn’t bombarded with all the commercials and product placements of cool gadgets I might want.  And while I do love me some Pinterest I try not to keep a lot of decor magazines lying around.  Doing all this doesn’t mean I will never face material temptations though…. I still do.  It does cut down on the number though and helps me stay focused on God.  When I do stumble and convince myself I need.something, like Nehemiah I pray for strength and remind myself that Christ is all I need.

You may not struggle with materialism like I do.  Maybe it’s gossip, over eating, or who knows what.  It is important to recognize your weaknesses though.  That’s where Satan will choose to attack you most.  Turn to God for strength and remember you can’t resist the temptation alone but with God you can!

The more we realize that God is all we need the more our hearts will break for what breaks his.  As I was searching for what breaks my heart I wrote in big letters in my journal “Give me a Kingdom passion!”  Then I just allowed myself to write anything that came to mind with a question mark behind it.  Next, I prayed for God to continue to reveal to me ways he wants to use me.

If you are still searching for what breaks your heart you might want to give this a try too.

Memory Verse

Nehemiah 6:16 (ESV)

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

Discussion Questions:

(Please don’t feel that you have to answer all of them… one would be great though.  I love to hear what is going on in your lives.)

  • Nehemiah took time to pray and plan.  Are you the type of person who likes to dive in and get going, or do you take time to ponder and pray over your ministry plans and desires?
  • What Unforgettable memories do you have of serving God with other people?
  • How has working side by side next to people of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds both challenged and built up your faith?

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Want to catch up?

Kick Off of Nehemiah Study

Week One Discussion

Linking Up At:

Imparting Grace

New Life Steward

 

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or RSS.

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Freedom in our Hearts

Happy 4th of July

 

We don’t have anything super special planned for today so I though I would share this simple patriotic table setting that I found on Pinterest instead.

Now… on with the rest of the post.

The Story

A man weeps, fasts, and prays for a city in ruins. Not the city he lives or works in but the city of his relatives, Jerusalem. After confessing his sin and his people’s sin, he prayed for strength to approach the king with his concerns and plans from God.
Despite all the odds being against him…
The king gave permission to Nehemiah to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and its walls. King Artaxerxes even gave him letters that gave him the ok to travel through foreign lands along the way. Nehemiah began his journey to Jerusalem to help his relatives but not without some resistance from Sanballat and Tobiah.

This is a summary of the first chapter and a half of Nehemiah. I am blown away by the compassion Nehemiah had for Jerusalem. Sometimes, I feel like it is so easy to become immune to the poor, weak, or suffering in our world. All most of us have to do is turn off the t.v., stay in the comforts of our own home or never reach out to those in need. But we must remember that behind every news story, every face and need, is a person. A person equal in the eyes of God to you and me.

And because as Christians, we are filled with the love of Christ, our hearts should weep for them. We should devote prayer time to the poor, weak, and suffering.

To be honest I haven’t been doing a good job of this. Often times I find my thoughts centered around me. I mean wouldn’t life be easier if all we had to do was pray and plead with God to make our lives easier… to bless us more. That’s not how it works or what prayer is intended for.

Nehemiah heard about the weak, poor, and suffering, and his first instinct was to pray. Pray fervently, pray scripture. Often times when faced with a problem or stressful situation, I forget that prayer should be my first mode of operation. I long to be able to pray scripture… to weave scripture throughout my speech during the day. What greater way to talk and hear from God than from the Word He has given us.

One of my friends (Mary Beth of New Life Steward) wrote an excellent post on how to pray scripture. I am going to go back and read and work to apply it to my prayer life. I challenge you to do the same.

Do our hearts break for the poor, weak, and suffering? Many times mine does not, and there is no excuse for this. As Kelly says in Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break,

“Though many of us do not have unlimited wealth or descend from royalty, most of us dwell in a far wealthier state than the rest of the world. This is not a truth meant to paralyze us beneath the weight of overwhelming guilt but an urgent call for us to stop and ask the Lord, “What have You put in my heart to do?

I fear that while much of the Western church slumbers in its palace of comfort, many who desperately need our resources, both spiritual and material, are suffering greatly. Like David and Nehemiah, we must be willing to sacrifice our own comforts and protections for the sake of others. Here’s the wonderful news: neither of these men dreaded the thought of making sacrifices. Their hearts were so taken up with God’s that they prayed and planned and dreamed about how they could quench the need that so troubled their souls.”

I hope you have enjoyed this first week of the study… I have. Kelly says so many great things that I wish I could share them all with you. I wish we could sit next to each other, so we could see each other’s favorite parts and all our comments we have written all over the pages. Instead, I listed a few questions below from the Leader Guide. Don’t feel that you have to answer all of them, but I would love it if you would answer just one. You may not have an answer for all of them. God works in His own timing and will reveal it to you in His timing.

Week 1 Questions

  • What was the most impacting moment for you this week? (It may be a Bible verse, principle, prayer experience, revelation, new understanding, conviction, or other.)* When I realized how self centered my prayers normally are. I hardly ever intercede for others or pray scripture.
  • Nehemiah’s heart broke for the suffering in Jerusalem while living in a Persian resort. How did discovering this impact your own heart for the poor, suffering, sick, or a family member?* Nehemiah left his home of luxury to help those his heart hurt for. God may not call us all to leave our current homes but we must be willing to. Everything we have must be available for Him to use for His glory! Joy comes from giving.
  • How did the study on prayer this week cause you to think differently about prayer and/or encourage you to persist in prayer? In what ways is prayer difficult for you?* This week has really challenged my prayer life with my lack of intercessory prayer. God is the Creator of everything and who am I to just blow Him off as if it’s nothing. I think I make prayer difficult. I don’t allow time in my day for it, and when I do I am easily distracted. I want to challenge myself to pray more and to pray for more than just myself. Through this I know God will break my heart for what breaks His.
  • Nehemiah 2:12 says that God put the desire to rebuild Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s heart. What do you believe God is stirring in your heart to do for someone?* I have spent a lot of time praying about this. I mean I know God has placed on my heart a desire for adoption, but besides just perusing the actual path of adopting a child, what more can I do? Finally, I sensed God revealing to me His desire for me to help with a local ministry here in town, Jessie’s Place. I can minister and serve women and children who are working to get their feet back on the ground. And the best part is that Noah can do this with me… children are welcome! After watching the Tyler Perry movie, Good Deeds, I was just broken by the thought of children being physically taken away from their mothers because she couldn’t provide for them. I want to help these women gain control of their life (or give it to God) and keep the custody of their children.
* Questions taken directly from Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break Leader Guide

Memory Verse Nehemiah 4:6

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Linking up at:

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