We’ve all had those moments, haven’t we? You see or are invited into something that is not God-honoring and you have the perfect opportunity to say something, but instead of speaking out, you shrink up. This week, we see an example in God’s Word of someone who speaks out, and not out of his own desire, but because of the strength and conviction that came from listening to God.
INITIATIVE: Taking wise action without being told
MEMORY VERSE: “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16 (NLT)
This Week’s Finish Line: Listen to God and Speak Out
While in exile, an Israelite named Nehemiah was cupbearer to the King of Persia. Nehemiah’s brother brought him news that Jerusalem’s wall had been torn down and its gates destroyed by fire. While this news deeply saddened Nehemiah, it also moved him to action. He prayed for God’s favor and asked the king for permission to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Sure enough, “the king granted these requests because the gracious favor of God was on” Nehemiah (Neh. 1:8 NLT). Upon arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah took initiative by going on a “secret mission” to inspect the wall. Then, he announced the plan God had put on his heart for Jerusalem to the Israelites. Many were excited to begin rebuilding, but like any good story, there were some “bad guys” who made fun of Nehemiah for listening to God and speaking out about what he believed God wanted him to do.
READ NEHEMIAH 2:9-16
- How did Nehemiah continue to listen to what God was telling him and take wise action after he got to Jerusalem? (He went all around the city and inspected the wall at night.) Why do you think this was a wise thing to do first? (He wanted to get all the information he needed to take his next step. He wanted to have a plan before he started.)
- Look at verse 12. Who gave Nehemiah the plan for what to do and the initiative to do it? (God put the plans in Nehemiah’s heart. Nehemiah couldn’t do it alone.)
READ NEHEMIAH 2:17-20
- How did Nehemiah SPEAK OUT to the Israelites? (He told them about the grace of God, how God allowed him to come back and rebuild the walls. He challenged the people to join with him so they could rebuild the walls together.)
- Reread verse 18. How did most of the people respond? (They were excited and got to work right away.) Look at verses 10 & 19. Was everyone excited about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem? (No. Some people made fun of Nehemiah and the Israelites for trying to rebuild the walls.)
- How did Nehemiah respond to the people who didn’t like how he spoke out and led the people? (He trusted God and continued to follow His lead. He was confident God was going to help the Israelites rebuild the walls even if others made fun of them.)
Bring it Home Conversations & Activities:
* Check out our vision for parents and how to use these activities each week.
Teacher: Meal Time
Ask your kids if they’ve ever been made fun of for speaking out about something they knew God said was right? What happened? Parents, share a time this happened to you, too. What truths about God can you remember when He asks you to take initiative and speak out? (Ex: He is always with you and loves you. His Word is always true. God’s plan is perfect and good. He will always give us what we need to do what He asks us to do.) Take time to look for some verses that remind you of these truths and read them together.
Friend: Drive Time
Each time you’re in the car on your way somewhere this week, talk about where you’re going and how your kiddo(s) or your family can show INITIATIVE while you’re there. Give one or two examples, but encourage your kids to come up with their own ideas. (Example: If you’re on your way to a restaurant, you might suggest showing initiative by holding the door open for others without being asked.)
Think about someone you know who is need. It could be someone from school who you know is struggling or maybe someone you don’t even know, like those in Houston and Florida whose lives are being impacted by hurricanes. Take initiative to pray for them, even though they may not have told you they need prayer.
Learn the memory verse as a family. Write it with wipe off markers on your bathroom mirror. Practice “popcorn style,” where each family member says one word until the entire verse is completed. Write it on an index card and keep it in the car or make up your own hand motions.
Thank God for teaching us to take initiative and follow him. Ask Him to help you trust Him and have confidence in Him. Thank Him for giving us just what we need to do what He asks us to do.
Next week we will continue the September godly character trait, INITIATIVE. We will learn to trust God and stand firm.
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