Have you ever had an idea you couldn’t get out of your head? Not a catchy jingle or commercial you saw on television, but something you knew you had to do to make a difference? God will often give us a burden, something that He cares about and wants to change in the world. This can range from child poverty to injustice, to pollution, to fatal diseases. Whatever the case, God gives us this particular burden, but often we don’t know where to start. Nehemiah was a character from the Bible who was given a challenge by God, and he didn’t relent until he had acted upon that burden. Through his story, we see the value of making an impact on the world and inspiring those around us to do the same thing.
What is one of the boldest things you have ever done? Why did you do it?
1. What are some reasons people give for not making an impact in our world?
2. Read Nehemiah 1:1-4. What is the burden that Nehemiah felt in these verses? What was the significance of a city having a surrounding wall during Nehemiah’s time?
These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.
In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
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.”
When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
3. Many of the Israelites had been so caught up in their routines and so used to living without the walls of Jerusalem that they had neglected to actually rebuild the walls. Do you find yourself so caught up in your own routine that you miss the opportunity to make a difference? What needs to change?
4. What is one way that God has burdened you to make a difference in the world?
5. Read Nehemiah 2:17-18. Nehemiah brought many people together to share his burden and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Who can you invite to help you make a difference? How can you get your kids or others involved?
But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.
They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.
6. Read Nehemiah 6:1-4. Nehemiah resisted the temptation of becoming distracted and abandoning his project. What are the biggest distractions in your life? What about in your kids’ lives?
Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.
7. How can you live in such a way that you stay focused on your God-given burden and avoid distractions? How can you help your children to remain focused?
When it comes to small groups, it might be time for you to think as a group about how you can make a difference together. Pray about doing something together as a group in our community. Make sure it is a COVID safe activity that fulfills a divine burden. Maybe it isn’t a short one-time project, but one that might take time or effort for your group to get involved with over a few months. Take some time to think, pray, and dream about how God might be able to use you as a group to make a difference. Allow your hearts to be burdened for a need that God places on your heart, and then go make a difference!
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But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.