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The Raising of Lazarus
John 11:1-44

INTRODUCTION

After declaring, “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Four days earlier when Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, He did not hurry off immediately to see him. Instead, He waited two days before travelling to Bethany – the home town of Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. The story of Lazarus reveals to us about our Lord’s timing, His power and His invitation for us to be involved in the work that He is doing today.

l. The timing of Jesus
“…he stayed where he was two more days.” (v. 6)

ll. The power of Jesus
“Lazarus, come out!” (v. 43)

lll. The invitation of Jesus
“Take away the stone” (v. 39)
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (v. 44)

CONCLUSION


Sermon Based Discussion Questions
1. Facing crisis
Is there anything that should frighten us when we encounter crisis with Jesus? Why do we get frightened, in practice, at such time?

2. What God has done
Is there anything in your life situation which is impossible with God? What has he done so Far? Can he do more than that?

3. God’s timing
What is the application to our life situations of the fact that Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead before going to him? Have we ever felt that God was delaying an answer to our prayer? Does he always answer our prayers as we request? Which is better – our will or his will? What was better in the case of Lazarus – healing him or raising him? What was better for the kingdom of God? Give reasons.

4. Jesus’ pastoral example
Are you surprised that Jesus wept? What does it teach us about Jesus? Do we weep with others? How do we do this?

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The Man for the Hour
Nehemiah 1:1-11

1. In the introduction the speaker talks about Jack Sim, the Singaporean who has a concern for the poor without proper toilets. This leads him to found World Toilet Organization (WTO) and as a result of this he is improving the lives of millions of people. The speaker also asks this question: “Why does Jack Sim care for people without toilets while many Singaporeans do not have this concern?” Discuss your answers. What do you discover about yourself?

2. The speaker gives the background of Nehemiah who is living in Persia (today’s Iran) which is the home for 2 to 3 million exiled Jews. Although the remnant Jews have returned many years ago (over a span of 13 to 92 years) and Jerusalem is 1,600 km away, why do you think Nehemiah has so much concern for the people and place respectively? What makes Nehemiah so different from the many other exiled Jews?

3. The speaker discusses what goes into the making of the Man for the Hour. He mentions 10 characteristics from the life of Nehemiah. Pick any three from this list below and share what impact you the most and why/how.
A. He asks question about people and place (1:1-2).
B. He listens attentively to the answer (1:3).
C. He feels emotionally about the problem (1:4a).
D. He waits in silence before God (1:4b).
E. He holds a high view of God (1:5).
F. He humbles himself by depending on prayer (1:6a).
G. He admits to sinning against God (1:6b-7).
H. He remembers the warnings and promises in the Scriptures (1:8-10).
I. He implores God for success and favour (1:11a).
J. He uses his right position at the right place at the right period before the right person (1:11b).

4. We crave for success but we use different approaches to attain them. The speaker gives these statistics for Chances of Success:


I think

0% I won’t 60% I might
10% I can’t 70% I can
20% I don’t know how 80% I can
30% I wish I could 90% I am
40% I want to 100% I DID
50% I think I might

Discuss how much success is due to human’s effort and how much is given by God. The speaker gives his viewpoint: “Success is God’s gift of empowerment on the Man for the Hour so that he works hard to bring blessing to people for God’s Glory. Seen in this way, success is therefore a collaboration between God and man.” Do you agree or disagree?

5. The speaker concludes: “Today there are many broken people in many places. God needs the Man for the Hour to take up the challenge to be his Leader to rebuild and restore.” He also asks, “What are you concerned about?” Share in what way can you tie the two together – How can God develop you to be the Man for the Hour so that you become the solution for what you are concerned about.

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SERMON OUTLINE

INTRODUCTION

In his goal of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah had to stand up to the violent threats and internal conflict between the Jews. He is almost done now. But the enemies have not given up. They doubled their effort in distracting Nehemiah from finishing well.

l. Distraction from the truce (vv. 1-4)

ll. Distraction from the letter (vv. 5-9)

lll. Distraction from the priest (vv. 10-16)

CONCLUSION

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. How is the work God has called you to do a “great work” and worthy of your full attention?

2. How could your vision be made great and clear enough so that you will not be easily sidetracked (vv. 3, 8 and 11)?

3. How can a believer grow in discernment so as to avoid Satan’s traps?

4. How can we discern when to respond to false rumours about us versus letting them die out on their own?

5. What do you expect by way of opposition in the work you are doing for the Lord?

6. What does it mean to you to practice saying, “yes” to God and “no” to distractions?

7. Is it easy for you to finish projects or do you most often starts – stop and then repeat the process? Ask God to help you disciple yourself to follow through on your commitment to finish what you start.

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The Gracious Hand of My God was Upon Me (Nehemiah 2.1-20)

Nehemiah – the shortest guy in the Bible?
In terms of spiritual stature, he is ‘super-tall’ and is among the most influential leaders in the Bible!

Timeline: From Nov-Dec 445 BC (see 1.1)… to Mar-Apr 444 BC (see 2.1) when he is about to speak to King Artaxerxes.

I. His Request to the Persian King, 2.1-8

a. He spent four months praying about the matter before he even spoke to the king… why?
b. He waited for right moment to speak to king, but was very much afraid when it came… why?
c. The words which were unspoken by Nehemiah were more crucial than the words spoken by king… why?
d. The king reversed his earlier decision (see Ezra 4.23) to allow Nehemiah to return and rebuild the walls in Jerusalem… why?
e. Nehemiah added two more petitions… why?
f. ‘The gracious hand of my God was upon me’… what does this tell us about the man?

II. His Return to Jerusalem to Rebuild the Walls, 2.9-20

a. The enemies of God were not pleased… why?
b. Nehemiah’s secretive, night-tours… why?
c. His rallying cry to the people… what four things did Nehemiah say to them?
d. The response of the people: ‘Let us start rebuilding!’

BIBLE-STUDY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS for Care-groups
1. Take some time to read the sermon script again and then answer the questions in the outline above (they are given to ensure that you understand the gist of the sermon)

2. Are there ‘broken walls’ in Carmel that we must rebuild so as not to end in ruins?

3. How is my prayer life of late? What can I learn from Nehemiah about a life of prayer?

4. As you look back at your years as a Christian, recall a time when you can testify that ‘the hand of the Lord was upon me’? How has it helped you in your faith? Share so that the rest can be encouraged.

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Nehemiah : Everyone Matters (Neh 3)

1. Nehemiah notes interesting facts about those who built the wall. Skim through the chapter and record the names & details about these builders. Why do you think the Spirit prompted him to include these details? What can we learn about God from this list?

2. Not everyone is eager to participate in the rebuilding of the wall (3:5). What do you think is their motive for not participating?

3. Nehemiah employs workers from all walks of life. Have you ever been tempted to avoid a necessary but unpleasant ministry with an excuse, “That’s not really my area of interest and gifting”? Is such an excuse valid?

4. The life of a believer is the life of a builder. What building project does Jesus describe in Matthew 7:24-27? What is the foundation? What kind of a builder are you?

5. Nehemiah gives great attention to the contribution of specific people. What does this say about God’s faithfulness and recognition of our labor? How does this motivate us in building God’s kingdom?

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Nehemiah: Spiritual Revival @ Water Gate (Neh 8)

1. What is occasion for assembling the people on the first day of the seventh month? See Lev 23:23-43 and note that the Feast of Booths was intended to help the Israelites to remember God’s faithfulness. See also Num 29:1-6.

2. You have spent years building your life, family and career – providing for your family’s needs, finding and furnishing a good home, educating or training yourself for a productive career. Life was like that in Nehemiah 8 – the trees were planted, homes were built, the walls of security established. Yet the people felt that spiritual vitality was missing. Do you, like the Jews, feel like something is still missing?

3. In Nehemiah 8, we see the Word of God being read and taught. What happens when people truly understand His Word (8:9-11)? Why do they respond in this way?

4. How has the reading of God’s Word spurred you on in your spiritual renewal? Give examples.

5. “To know the Bible and not to obey it is not to know the Bible at all.” Do you agree?

6. In this passage, we see the proclamation of the Word had caused the people to mourn over their sin. What is repentance? What role does mourning play in genuine repentance? Is it possible to repent over sin that does not grieve us? Why or why not?

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1. Why was it necessary to remove the Ammonites and Moabites from Israel (13:1-3; Deut 23:3-6)? In Nehemiah 11, the people committed to not intermarry. What possible negative effects were these non-Jews likely to have on the community of believers? What does this say about being unequally yoked with unbelievers today? See 2 Cor 6:14-15.

2. What evil thing does Eliashib do (13:4-5)? Why is Tobiah the wrong person to move into the temple courts (see also 2:19-20)? How does Nehemiah address Tobiah’s unacceptable living situation (13:8-9)?

3. How can we keep the Sabbath holy?

4. Nehemiah goes to dramatic lengths to restore order and holy living. What do you think of his actions? Are they odd? Or extreme? Do you think he is justified in acting this way? Why or why not?

5. What do you think were Nehemiah’s motives in his action? See 13:14. 22, 31.

6. When is anger a righteous anger? Who can we know if our anger is righteous or sinful?

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