new beginnings w1 opener

New Beginnings – Week 1

New Beginnings Devotional – Week 1

Leading your life through lock-down losses

Background:

This week we started our new series to help us navigate the ‘ambiguous loss’ we’ve all experienced during lockdown. With the loss of so much of what was once ‘normal’ in our lives comes the feeling of hopelessness, and we can easily begin languishing in our loss. To languish is to lose vitality. It’s prolonged inactivity. Although we may feel like languishing in loss, we need to rise up and lead.

In Philippians 2:12 (NIV) Paul the apostle writes to the church that they are to “continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” The use of the word “work” in the Greek is described as “I effect by labour”. My labour of self-leadership brings God’s miraculous new life where once there was only loss. The power of leadership under God’s Lordship can be seen in the life of Nehemiah who led God’s people to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem.

Check in:

What are some of the feelings you’ve experienced personally during lockdown that have tempted you to languish instead of lead?

In the book of Nehemiah 1:1-4 (NIV) we observe how Nehemiah’s leadership started with questioning the true condition of the city walls in Jerusalem, and then responding to the news of its ruin with prayer.

Reflection questions:

Nehemiah questioned his brothers about the condition of Jerusalem. Now, asking this question was a risk to Nehemiah’s comfort, and we see that clearly in his response to the news that the walls were in ruins. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned.” For you and me, it’s often easier to

avoid confronting the condition of the walls that surround our personal lives than to face the internal discomfort that goes with dealing with them.

  1. What uncomfortable feelings surface, for you personally, when you confront the ruined conditions of certain parts of your own life?

Firstly, Nehemiah was aware of the condition of the walls and, secondly, Nehemiah responded to the condition of the ruined walls with prayer. He didn’t pray that God would bless his plan; he prayed that God would bless his work, and the first thing he could do was serve his king and seek his favour.

When God is going to answer prayer, He starts with the one doing the praying.

In Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) it says: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

The answers to your personal prayers for the restoration of your ruined walls and for new beginnings after lockdown loss may lie in your willingness to lead your life so that God’s power can work through you. While waiting for God’s favour, Nehemiah had to focus on leading himself.

  1. In what practical ways could you start leading yourself more intentionally through lockdown?
  2. If you were to pray and tell God what you feel you need from Him in order to lead yourself through lockdown, what would it be?

In 1 John 4:4 (NLT) it says:

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

God births new life from our loss; He blesses what is broken and rebuilds from ruins.

Prayer:

In your prayer, ask God for whatever it is that you feel you need Him to provide you with personally, in order to lead your life through lockdown.

You can see a list/watch any of all our sermons here or listen to the podcast here.

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