Tag Archive: leadership

Stock photo. Pyrmids . Proverbs 3.3

This week, we look at Miriam (Moses’ sister)  in our Unsung Heroes of the Bible sermon series. Karen Kennedy, Director of Publicity and Promotion, shares her thoughts…

In Exodus, Miriam was first introduced—not by name, but by the description of “his sister.” As she watched her baby brother, Moses, float down the Nile, we gain glimpses into this courageous, resourceful and smart young girl.

Pretty impactful, first impressions, don’t you think?

In retrospect, we understand Miriam’s monumental role in God’s upper story because of whom she rescued. But there is a lot more to her life than this one-time deed. As I piece together the few references concerning this woman, I see a beautiful and quiet faithfulness emerge.

Faithfulness is more than a one-time action.  It is a minute-by-minute, day-by-day, year-by-year commitment to being loyal to a person or a cause.  It takes stamina, guts, and faith to remain faithful when every circumstance cries out, “Forget this person; time to pitch your tent somewhere else!”

I don’t see Miriam forsaking her brother.

For forty years, Moses lived in the palace while she lived in slave quarters.

For another forty years, Moses lived free in Midian while she suffered as a slave in Egypt.

Eighty years. Eighty years is a long time to build a case against this “fine” brother named Moses.

But it doesn’t appear Miriam harbored those thoughts because she quickly rallied behind Moses as he spoke God’s commands to Pharaoh for six months. When the unforgettable night came for Israel to leave Egypt amid the mourning cries of the Egyptians, Miriam was there. She was also there when they reached the impassable barrier of the Red Sea, walked on dry ground across the sea and saw walls of water swallow up the Egyptians.

Miriam, Moses’ sister, then became known as a “prophetess,” who led a group of women to direct their praise to the Lord.

“Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.” Exodus 15:20-21

In those eighty years, she remained faithful. Personally, I know I would not have passed this 80-year test. In fact, sometimes I don’t pass the 80-second test. Hardships, temptations, resentments, you name it; I tend to turn to the left and to the right before I finally (and I mean finally) center on the One who faithfully opens His arms to me at every turn.

He is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4b

He is faithful. And I need to be faithful as well. It is a requirement.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2

How about you? Are you at an 80-second faithfulness level? 80-minutes? 80-days? Or are you on track for Miriam’s record? No matter where you are, would you please share some practical steps that help you stay faithful?

Photo credit: Stock photo: Pyramids


Week 2: You are a leader

During the “Come Follow Me”  message series, we have asked staff and church members to submit their thoughts concerning the upcoming message. Our thinking is that their thoughts might spur something within you. Plus, we hope that you will get a glimpse into their lives and enjoy them as much as we do. So sit back, grab a warm cup of coffee and enjoy!

You are a leader

by Laura Rath


This week in our “Come Follow Me” message series, we are talking about the first part of our mission mandate “Leading ordinary people to an extraordinary life in Christ.”

Leading means to go before or with someone to show the way, to guide in direction, course, or action.

Jesus led his disciples, showing and teaching them in everything He did. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples became the leaders, equipped through the Holy Spirit, and yet, they were still being led because they continued to follow Jesus.

We are called to follow Jesus…and we are called to lead others to Jesus. Like the disciples, we are led and leading others, equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a leader. I didn’t used to. Years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler. Everyday. All day long. I didn’t feel like I was leading anyone anywhere, but looking back, I know now that I was leading my young daughter by example.

I recently read this by author Lysa TerKeurst…

If you are influencing people, you are a leader. You may not stand before crowds or be the next Kay Arthur, but in some way, God will use you to lead others through your influence in their life.” – Author Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith

Think about who you influence. It might be your children, grandchildren, co-workers, peers, friends, parents, and even the person you encounter in the grocery store. Can others see what Jesus means to you? Can they see how He’s changed your life?

Leading is teaching, but it’s also influencing others by being an example in how we act, react, and live our lives.

Do you think of yourself as a leader?

If you struggle with the idea of leading others to Christ, think about your day-to-day interactions and relationships…in what ways are you influencing others without even realizing it?

When you think about being equipped through the Holy Spirit, does it encourage you to think of yourself as a leader?

How does that confidence change your actions and the way you live?

A little bit about Laura:

IMG_0218Hi, I’m Laura Rath. I’m the Assistant to the Senior Pastor at Gloria Dei, a position that allows me to be involved in many ministry areas of the church. Outside of the church, I’m a writer, blogging at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith, a monthly contributor for 5 Minutes for Faith, and a regular contributor for both the Gloria Dei blog and Next Level Mama. I’m passionate about sharing my faith in Christ and encouraging others to pursue a personal relationship with Him.

I enjoy learning more about God and His great love for us, spending time with my husband and daughter, reading, writing, and hosting online Bible studies for women several times a year.

Rebuilding the Walls (Bible Study)


Chapter 21 Recap-

It’s no surprise that the Hebrew people were homesick after 70 years of foreign captivity. At this point, it had been 80 years since King Cyrus first gave the green light for the exiles to return to their beloved Jerusalem.  Zerubbabel was among the first to go.  Fifty thousand former slaves packed their bags and joined him on the trek back to the holy city in 537 B.C.  But many remained beyond the borders of God’s promise.

Ezra had earned the favor of Persia’s King Artaxerxes during his time in Babylon.  The king authorized Ezra to take a second contingent of Israelites back home.  Ezra was a faithful scribe and teacher, and he was given permission not only to teach God’s law but also a mandate to appoint judges and a bottomless expense account to finance his journey.

Nehemiah remained in the palace of Susa as the favored cupbearer of the Persian king. He was dismayed to hear that the walls of Jerusalem remained in disrepair, for without walls, no city would be secure. The king gave Nehemiah a leave-of-absence so he could lead 42,000 exiles back to Jerusalem.  His first order of business was to assess the condition of the walls and the people.  He quickly rallied the city leaders to rebuild.

Sanballat and Tobiah were none too pleased. As leaders of nearby nations, they were threatened by the prospect of Jerusalem’s comeback. They retaliated with intimidation and made repeated attempts to out-maneuver Nehemiah and his rebuilding project, but Nehemiah was undeterred.  He encouraged his leaders and armed his people.  Some worked while others stood guard.  Some carried supplies with one hand and a weapon in the other, but the threats continued.  Even when Israel’s enemies enlisted an Israelite as a false prophet to undermine the progress, Nehemiah was not shaken.  He refused to entertain empty lies, and the wall was rebuilt in record time—only 52 days!

As Nehemiah rebuilt the walls, Ezra set out to rebuild God’s people.  He began by teaching them the Scriptures for the next 13 years. The people gathered to hear Ezra read, and other priests joined in to teach as well.  At last, they got it! They grasped the reality of God’s great story and celebrated the Feasts of Booths as Moses had written of so long before.  The people and the priests hungered to worship God, and God’s people were restored in the Land of Promise.

Yet old habits die-hard, and the people’s fervor soon dwindled. The priests and the people became apathetic, so God commissioned the prophet, Malachi, to speak His words of divine warning.  The priests had begun to dishonor God with sacrifices that were less than the best.  They treated their wives poorly and wondered why God was not pleased with their worship. They withheld their offerings, and the whole community began to again turn away from God.

Malachi prophesied the return of the prophet Elijah as sign of things to come.  God had restored His people and protected His faithful remnant.  He had protected Judah’s royal line in keeping with his promise to David.  He spoke His final words of warning and promise through Malachi, and then God was silent. God’s people would not hear from Him again until the promised Elijah would step forth as God’s new messenger. God’s redemptive story, for now, was quietly marching toward history’s climactic event.

What’s the most extensive remodeling or construction project you have been involved in? How would it match up to the rebuilding of the city walls?

Leadership Discoveries from Nehemiah

I want to first challenge you to read through the book of Nehemiah and generate a list of leadership lessons you see from observing Nehemiah. Once compiled, what strengths are used and what can be learned for lessons today. Are there any weaknesses you see? What can be learned from that?

I will now outline a few of the lessons I learned to see if they match up.

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

During the French Revolution, a man was seen running down the street chasing a mob, moving quickly toward the danger.  Somebody yelled at him, “Stop! Stop!  Don’t’ follow that mob!”  Without missing a step, he called back, “I have to follow them!  I’m their leader!”

Nehemiah was not afraid of danger, but he was a much wiser leader than this man.  The world, our country, and our local communities could use more leaders like Nehemiah.  Like the situation he faced, every place that is broken down, needs rebuilding and suffers from hopelessness or apathy is an opportunity for a Christian leader today.  God’s work has never been easy, and has met resistance from His enemies since the Garden.  But the same God who parted the Red Sea, who gave Solomon wisdom and who gave Nehemiah favor in the eyes of King Artaxerxes is the same God who will enable us to accomplish the work He calls us to do.

Nehemiah stands out as one of the best and most effective leaders in the Bible.  He should surely be grouped with Moses, Joshua and David.  But because his story is deep within the Old Testament historical books that are lesser known, the practical life lessons that he provides can go largely neglected.  Therefore, we will dig deeper into the life of Nehemiah to discover L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. principles that are just as relevant today as they were 1565 (or so) years ago.

I.    Leave:  Move!  Change!  Step out!  You cannot lead from a position of inertia.

A. Nehemiah was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes.  This prestigious job reveals that Nehemiah was among the king’s most trusted servants.  He enjoyed an influential post and comfortable lifestyle.  Four months had passed since Nehemiah had received that bad news from his brother.  During that time, he spent a considerable amount of time in prayer, waiting patiently until the LORD presented him with a good opportunity to request permission from the king to leave his post to pursue the LORD’s work.  Nehemiah had every earthly excuse to stay right where he was—important job, good pay, too inconvenient to leave, too far to go, etc. Yet he could not accomplish the mission of rebuilding the walls from a distance city.  But instead, with permission from the king, he chose to leave Susa and journey to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and restore the people’s identity as God’s covenant remnant.

B. An inert situation requires a fresh leader to progress.  The walls needed rebuilt and God could have easily chosen a man already in Jerusalem to lead the charge.  But he instead called Nehemiah who brought with him fresh ideas for change.

C. A good leader has to leave his comfort zone, take a risk and get involved for a cause bigger than himself/herself.

II.     Evaluation:  Although he rightly believed that he was in the will of God to rebuild the walls, Nehemiah evaluated each situation carefully.

A. First, he knew he needed the king’s approval and documentation to verify his travel and mission (Neh. 2:5-8).  He did not rush to secure these things.  He patiently waited four months until he knew the timing was right.

B. Just three days after arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah secretly surveyed the damage to the walls under the cloak of darkness (p. 243).  It was crucial that he have an accurate, firsthand assessment of the mission that lay ahead.  By concealing himself at night, Israel’s enemies could not stir up the people to revolt against his leadership.  By concealing his intentions, Nehemiah had adequate time to evaluate the task and formulate a plan before the Jews could garner arguments why they should or could not rebuild the walls. (After all, they had failed to rebuild the walls up until now, so their excuses were many.) Praying and trusting God does not mean that proper research and planning are unnecessary.

C. A good leader gets a realistic evaluation of the situation before acting.

III.    Action:  Nehemiah had to turn his vision for rebuilding the walls into a reality.

A. He challenged the local leaders to recognize the need to act.  “You see the trouble we are in:  Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire,” (p. 243).

B. He presented his well-researched vision and plan to the people.  “Come, let us rebuild together the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace,” (p. 244).

C. He motivated the leaders by identifying himself with them.  He used “we” and “us.” Finally, he understood that it was God working through him that would give the Jews the ability to do what had to be done.  His personal testimony encouraged them to trust the LORD’s plan rather than their own weaknesses.

D. Almost immediately they began the work.  This leader did not waste precious time tying up people and resources in endless committee meetings.

E. When rumors of an impending attack circulated, Nehemiah took action.  He staged armed guards around the workers to who stood ready to defend their families and their city (p. 245).  He took action, and like him, good leaders do not stall because of “paralysis by analysis.”

F. Good leaders act.

IV.    Discernment:  Nehemiah faced both external and internal threats to the work of rebuilding.

A. His wisdom and discernment alerted him to the very real threat of an enemy attack.  He discerned that what had initially begun as mocking and ridicule had escalated into a unified plot to strike them.

B. External threats can create more problems from within, and Nehemiah knew it.  While their enemies seemingly gained strength, the workers seemed to lose it.  Nehemiah discerned that their physical exhaustion compounded their discouragement.  They said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall,” (p. 244).  So he prayed and prepared a defense against would-be attackers.

C. After the walls were finished, Nehemiah discerned the ill intentions of Sanballat’s and Tobiah’s scheming letters (p. 245-246).  Since their other attempts to halt the work had failed, they turned to more subtle methods to undermine the final phase of the gates.  By asking him to meet them “on the plain of Ono,” which was a day’s travel from Jerusalem, he discerned that they intended to do him personal harm (p. 245).  He tested his theory by sending a message that he was too busy to meet (p. 246).

D. Finally, Nehemiah’s keen discernment alerted him to the false “insider” Jewish prophet Shemaiah who suggested he hide inside the temple to protect himself from death threats.  He discerned two problems with Shemaiah’s so-called prophecy.  First, God would not ask him to run and hide when to do so would demonstrate a lack of trust in God and would undermine the confidence of the people in his leadership.  Second, no true prophet would deliberately influence someone to violate God’s Law that only allowed priests in the sanctuary (Num. 18:7).  If Nehemiah had complied, he would have disobeyed God, desecrated the temple, and discredited himself as God’s appointed leader.  Nehemiah discerned this prophet-for-hire was a fraud.

E. Good leaders develop discernment. 

V.    Encourager:  Nehemiah was an encourager.

A. Nehemiah used his personal testimony to encourage the local leaders to rebuilding the walls.  “I also told them about the gracious hand of God on me and what the king had said to me,” (p. 244).  By assuring these city leaders that both their heavenly King and their earthly king were supportive of the vision, they gained enough courage to buy into it.  Only the encouraged are able to “work with all their heart,” (p. 244).

B. Nehemiah encouraged the workers when they were physically exhausted and emotionally weary.  “When the strength of the laborers” was giving out, he discerned that the threat of attack had worn them too thin.  He was not a harsh taskmaster, and he knew full well that he alone could not accomplish the mission.  Instead, he encouraged them with a new plan to continue the process of rebuilding with some building and others standing guard (p. 245).  It is easier to be negative under difficult circumstances than to be both realistic and encouraging.  But Nehemiah’s encouragement was rooted in knowing his God.  “Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!” (p. 245, Neh. 4:20)  That they did not give up and finished in a swift 52 days (p. 246) testifies to his fresh encouragement.

C. Good leaders encourage their team. 

VI.    Respect:  Nehemiah respected God, authorities and his subordinates.

A. Nehemiah never failed to give God full credit and glory in the process of rebuilding the walls.  From the very beginning, he prayed and acknowledged that the “hand of God” was upon him (Neh. 2:8, 18) and that it was “what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem,” (p. 243).  When they feared an attack, he reminded them of their God.  “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your people, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes,” (p. 245, Neh. 4:14).  Nehemiah showed the ultimate respect for God when he defied the false prophet’s suggestion that he hide in the temple to protect himself (p. 246).  He refused to consider defiling the temple to save his skin!

B. Nehemiah respected the rightful king’s authority.  Although he always knew that the mission was from God, he respected the authority of the king by requesting a leave of absence and garnered the king’s documented support.   A godly leader will respect his or her earthly authorities (Rom. 13:1-2).  He also respected the authority of the local Jerusalem priests and nobles.  He presented his plan to rebuild to the local leaders who then enlisted the support of the people.  He called upon Ezra to lead the worship (p. 246-247) after the walls were rebuilt.

C. Nehemiah respected the needs of his subordinates.  When they were weary, he met their need for protection.  Moreover, he worked right alongside all the other laborers, perhaps working even longer hours toward the mission.  “Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water,” (p. 245).  The king endowed him with the authority of a governor but he refused to use the governor’s food allowance because he did not want to burden the people with the taxes (Neh. 5:14-18).

D. Good leaders respect God, government and those they lead.

VII.    Selfless servant:  Nehemiah was a selfless servant who put the just needs of the people first.

A. Nehemiah was outraged by the immoral and unethical, not to mention unlawful, behavior of some of the wealthy Jews.  Evidently there was a food shortage and the people needed grain.  Some people had to mortgages their fields and homes to purchase food (Neh. 5:1-3).  Some people had to borrow money just to pay their taxes and their Jewish brethren were charging high interest rates.  This act was worsened when some people had to sell their children as slaves to their creditors (Neh. 5:5).  Nehemiah was rightfully outraged and rebuked the community nobles and rulers who were oppressing their poor brethren (Neh. 5:6-7).  This behavior was absolutely unacceptable by the community leaders because it gave God a bad name.  “And I said to them, ‘You are exacting usury, each from his brother!…The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?’” (Neh. 5:7b, 9)

B. In stark contrast to the other community leaders, Governor Nehemiah gave up his right to enjoy the governor’s benefits.  For twelve years he did not use the governor’s food allowance because of the tax burden it put upon the people (Neh. 5:14).  Former governors had not only taxed the people, but had also taken their food allowance of bread and wine from them.  The former governors’ servants had oppressed the people to demand the payments (Neh. 5:14-15).  Nehemiah still provided for 150 Jews and officials, as well as foreign dignitaries, on a regular basis, but he did it out of his own pocket because he was a selfless servant to the people he governed (Neh. 5:17-18).  His selflessness for the welfare of the community is a great example for any leader.  It demonstrates the heart of God for the welfare of His people.

C. Good leaders show compassion for those they lead by setting an example of selfless servant-hood.

VIII.    Hard-working:  Nehemiah was a hard-worker, and inspired others to work hard also.

A. When faced with opposition, Nehemiah and the builders worked from early morning till nighttime.  “So we continued the work with half of them holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out,” (p. 245, Neh. 4:21).  Those living outside of Jerusalem did not return to their homes at night, but some stood guard each night to protect their city and the people.  Nehemiah set the example for the whole community.  He stayed on the job and was on guard at all times (Neh. 4:23, p. 245).  He also made sure his own servants were doing the work of rebuilding rather than serving him personally (Neh. 5:16).

B. He did not permit himself to be distracted.  He stayed focused on his mission and fully devoted himself to the work.

C. Good leaders set the example of hard work.

IX.    Integrity:  Nehemiah was a trustworthy man who boldly confronted injustice.

A. His integrity is apparent from his position as cupbearer to the king.  The office of cupbearer in the Persian court was a position second only to the king.  He would have been the chief treasurer and the keeper of the king’s signet ring.  This gave him great authority and influence.  The king would have had great trust in this man who tasted the king’s food to ensure that it was not poisoned.  He had the complete confidence of the king.

B. As noted before, Nehemiah was careful not to personally profit from his leadership position.  He did not exercise the privilege of the food allowance, but used his own resources (Neh. 5:14, 18).  Good leaders go above and beyond those they lead.

C. A man of integrity, Nehemiah was not afraid to confront those who were wrong.  He confronted the leaders who were charging interest and oppressing their fellow Jews (Neh. 5:7-11).  He reprimanded those who had not handled the money for the temple correctly (Neh. 13:10-13).  He reprimanded those who profaned the Sabbath (Neh. 13:17) and who married foreigners because they violated the Law (Neh. 13:23-28).

D. With integrity comes a clear conscience.  Those who lack integrity lead a double life that gets them into trouble.  A man of integrity has nothing to hide because he only serves one Master.

E. Good leaders show personal integrity and refuse to tolerate the injustices of others.

X.    Prayer:  Nehemiah undergirded everything with prayer.

A. According to Robert D. Bell’s, “The Theology of Nehemiah,” in Biblical Viewpoint (Nov. 1986), of the 406 verses in the book, prayers fill 46 verses (or 11%).

B. He prayed at every crucial time and depended upon God’s help.  He prayed as a first response rather than a last resort.  He often sent up quick “flare prayers” and sandwiched them within the stories of his book.  A man of prayer humbly acknowledges his own insufficiency and trusts God to accomplish more than he ever could in his own strength.

C. Prayer was a way of life for Nehemiah.  He paired long periods of prayer with fasting.  “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.  For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,” (Neh. 1:4, p. 242).  He had a disciplined prayer life that was borne out of deep reverence for the LORD.

D. Prayer is a way of life for a godly leader.

XI.    Applications and Implications

A. Nehemiah was one of the godliest leaders in the Bible.  He served the LORD with his willingness to be lead in a strategic government position, both in the Persian King’s court and as governor of Judah.  Most of us will never enter vocational ministry.  And that is good!  Christian leadership should be evident well beyond the walls of the church.  What better way to make an impact in the dark places of the world than by encouraging and supporting Christians toward key posts in the secular world.  Nehemiah gives us a blueprint for godly leadership beyond the priesthood.

B. All work can and should be for the glory of God.

C. I do not have to be in vocational ministry to still be doing Christian service.

D. God puts people in strategic places to represent Him.

E. Believers should strive to use that position of authority to make an impact.

F. Prayer and action should combine to accomplish goals, defend one’s self, and/or discern one’s enemies.

G. I can integrate any of these leadership traits to become more effective right now.

The Deserted Wife

We will take some time to talk about a Prophet that is not well represented in “The Story;” Malachi. The people have a hard time remaining faithful to God.

As we come to the close of the Old Testament story of God’s love, we see that “love” is still a problem for the Jews—a misplaced love.  They have seen God rescue them miraculously and restore them to their land.  With God’s help they rebuilt their temple and the walls of Jerusalem. Throughout the story, their unholy self-love brought about destruction in two areas:  in their own hearts, and in their families.  Once again God raised up a prophet, Malachi, to call them out, because after all this they continued to love themselves more than they loved God.

I.  The root of the problem: The Priests no longer taught God’s Will.  Malachi 2:1-9

1.  Why does God say he will send a curse instead of blessing upon the people? (v.2)

2.  What was it about Levi, the priests’ ancestor, that God said was lacking in the priests of Malachi’s time? (v. 5-6)

3. God told Malachi two important things honorable priests should do. Note them. (v. 7)

II.  God calls it Detestable: Breaking covenant breaks God’s followers.  Malachi 2:10-14

The headings and verse notations in some versions interrupt the flow of thought in this passage.  The logical transition in Malachi chapter two, when not interrupted, shows the reader that the problem of unfaithful priests has resulted in unfaithful people.  The first nine verses of Malachi seem to be leading up to what God really hates. God has some strong language for those who break covenant.

1.  What specifically profaned the covenant God had made with the Israelites? (v.10)

2.  What does God call detestable? (v. 11-12)

3.  God pointed out that he knew they were disillusioned with their worship and offerings.  Instead of blessing they mourned.  They felt the distance from God and they felt that He did not see them. However the astonishing fact is that they were so blind to their own wickedness.

Why had God rejected their worship? (v. 14)

III. The nature of the marriage covenant: two become one.  Malachi 2:15-16

This short passage is the clear and consistent demand from God for faithfulness to the marriage covenant because it is based on God’s nature, and upon their covenant with Him. While thousands of books have been written about the subject, the bottom line is found in these two verses.

1.  God had already alluded to His right to instruct man because He is the creator.  Re-read the creation of man and God’s instruction to Adam and Eve regarding their union in Genesis 2:23-24.

Then fill in the following blanks from Malachi chapter two:

“Have we not all _____________ Father?  Did not ___________ God create us?”  Malachi 2:10

“ Has not the Lord made them ______________.  In  _______________ and _____________ they are

his.  And why ______________?  Because he was seeking ________________  ______________.”

Malachi 2:15

Why does the marriage covenant reflect the nature of God?

2.  What was Malachi’s advice to the Jews on how to protect themselves in the spirit (the relationship with God)? (v. 15b)

3.  What does God hate? (v. 16)

4.  It seems that God is equating divorce with violence in verse 16.  How can divorce and violence be the same thing? (Consider the meaning of the word “one”.)

5.  Once again God gives a reminder about how to have spiritual health.  What is it? (v. 16b)

6.  What was God’s original complaint against Judah?  (v. 11)

Once again a break is made in the train of thought by the verse notations and headings in some versions.  Read Malachi 2:15-17 together.  God seems to be saying this discussion was tiring. Adultery was one of the abiding sins of his people.  The consequences of divorce cause a ‘domino effect’ of misery that simply could not be denied.  God simply says “Can there be any good in a sin?  No!  I am a just God.”  In God’s eyes the marriage union can’t be broken any more than He can be divided against Himself.

From Genesis to Malachi, we have seen a story of true love.  God remained faithful to His covenant with His people, in spite of their rebellion and rejection.  God loved them first, and he always loved them.

IV.  The Message for Today

  • The marriage covenant provides for and protects men and women.

1.  According to Malachi 2:14, what are the two benefits of marriage?  Are these benefits applicable to men and women?  (Remember to whom Malachi is speaking.)

2.  What things does Paul write in Ephesians 5: 25-33 that mirror Malachi’s message? (Compare Matthew 19;1-8; and Mark 10:1-12.)

  • Godly people, men and women, have the leadership responsibility in the home and in the church to teach God’s plan for marriage.

3.  From Malachi 2:1-9, what are the important principles about marriage that any leader should teach and live?

4.  We know that part of the reason God detested the unfaithfulness of the Israelite men toward the wives of their youth was because of his plan to send the Savior through the lineage of Judah.  But in Malachi 2:16 He simply states that He wanted them to raise godly children. What does faithfulness in marriage teach the children?

5.  Titus 2:1-5 gives a responsibility to women.  How does that responsibility compare to the ministry of the priests in the Old Testament?

6.  What does God hate and detest—sinful actions or sinful people?

Charles A. Kollar, in Solution-Focused Pastoral Counseling, writes: “ What we believe we become.  (The Bible) is given to teach us to be tenacious about the things of God and to develop a mature hope in his intention (Romans 15:4).”  We simply cannot separate God from his word.

  • Godly men and women who experience desertion and divorce must trust in God’s faithfulness.

That some men haven’t changed since Malachi’s time is proven by the fact that the term “trophy wife” is common and well-understood in our society. In Formerly A Wife, Welby Obrien says this about divorce: “Each of us is hurting over…the death of a relationship.  We know first-hand why God hates divorce—not with a head knowledge of theological assent, but with the pain of personal experience.  God knows what divorce does to its victims” (8-9).

9.  Who testified on behalf of the deserted wife? Malachi 2:14

10.  David was God’s chosen king but he spent years running for his life alone, rejected, and sometimes bitter.  David’s Psalms are a message that God placed in his heart to share with His followers.  From Psalm 73:21-28, what comfort is available to the spouse who must endure desertion?

When we love God, life is doable.  When we love ourselves more than we love God, the first result is to turn away from The Word. However, when we love ourselves more than we love God, we destroy ourselves, and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the marriage relationship.

Key question:  How do you try to separate God from His Word?  What will you do to change that?

Who are Ezra and Nehemiah?


Ezra and Nehemiah are books that most people skip over to get to the New Testament. Let’s take a moment to learn about these books, so that we may stop, take a look at their importance and their message, and we will find that they too can give us great hope.

According to Hebrew tradition, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book.  The two books have historical unity and therefore are still considered together even though we separate them in our contemporary Bibles.  Nehemiah roughly covers the twelve-year period that he served as governor in Judah, from 445 B.C. to 431 B.C., or perhaps a few years after that.  It was in 445 B.C. that Nehemiah received the news that the Jerusalem walls were in such dreadful shape.  He arrived in Jerusalem in 444 and got right to work.  His was the third group to return to the Land.  Zerubbabel led the first group in 536 B.C.  Ezra led the second group back from captivity in 457 B.C. and finally Nehemiah’s return was in 444 B.C.

Remember that the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire and changed the organizational structure and philosophy.  Under King Darius I, the Persian Empire was divided into twenty satrapies.  We might compare these “satrapies” to our own fifty states.  Each one was governed by a Persian “Satrap” or commissioner.  Perhaps we’d compare him to a state’s governor.  These satrapies were quite independent and their governor’s wielded a lot of autonomous power.  They had the authority to levy taxation and to organize troops.  Each satrapy was then further divided into provinces, which we might compare to our own counties.  These provinces were managed by a local governor who was usually a descendant of the local noble family similar to a mayor today.  Judah belonged to the satrapy “Beyond the River,” which was essentially everything west of the Euphrates.  Zerubbabel and Nehemiah were governors of the province of Judah within “Beyond the River.”  Their enemies were also their neighboring provinces which were all part of the same satrapy.  The province of Samaria was governed by Sanballat while the province of Ammon-Gilead was governed by Tobiah.  Geshem governed the province of Arabia-Idumea.  These characters show up in our Story chapter as the antagonists that Nehemiah faced.  They were not particularly opposed to the reestablishment of the religious life of Judah, but were concerned that Judah would become a more powerful political threat to their own provinces.

The most important purpose for the books of Ezra-Nehemiah was the survival of the remnant community that God restored from the Babylonian exile.  The promise made to King David that his royal descendants and nation would never end was at stake.  Essentially, the promise-keeping ability of God was at stake.  The nation who had gone into exile for her consistent disobedience returned to their Land to rebuild the temple and restore their people to a relationship with God.  But they were easily discouraged and their work stalled.  Ezra and Nehemiah were reformers who were determined not to allow this re-emerging but fledgling nation to fall back into her old ways.  Their stories and subsequently these books were written to encourage joy in returning to a relationship with God to a fearful, discouraged, needy group of Israelites who were no longer sure of their own identity.  Therefore, Nehemiah concentrated on first rebuilding the city walls and then rebuilding the broken people.  High Priest Ezra led the spiritual reformation that culminated on what had to be an all-out revival. These people listened to the Word from sunup to noon as they listened attentively. They wanted and needed to hear the Word once again.

Sadly these two Old Testament books tend to be the dustiest, least used books in the Bible.  Perhaps by bringing Ezra and Nehemiah to life, we will see the need for all Christians to embrace key and strategic leadership positions in every sector of our own communities. God can breathe new life into us as we read and take to heart the message of hope found in these books.

What was your biggest take away from reading Ezra, Nehemiah or chapter 21 of “The Story?”

What were judges almost four thousand years ago? They were not the robed figures that inhabit the courts today. In fact, they were more military leaders than judges. The way in which they were judges was that they led God’s people and carried out God’s instructions.

In addition, judges were not permanent fixtures on “the bench” as they sometimes are today. One of God’s judges would be lifted up by God as a short-time leader of the people, to get them back on the right path.

The reason that they wandered was the same as ours–times were good, crops were plentiful, so who needs God.

Let’s look at what is called the Cycle of the Judges:  1) Times are good, so who needs God. We’re doing fine on our own. 2) a powerful neighboring nation arises and puts Israel under pressure to pay tribute (blackmail) in order to remain at peace. 3) The people remember God and beg for His help. 4) God helps by raising up a person as a military leader with character and a focus on God. 5) Through that leader God defeats Israel’s enemies and restores her prominence.

Here’s the sad part–this cycle reoccured about six times in a little over three hundred years! Talk about patience on the part of God!

One judge was pretty much a selfish failure who God continued to use anyway. Another was a woman. All were imperfect, but used by God for His glory and His people’s rescue.

This was the time just before God allowed the people to have an earthly King.

sue wilson

Chp 6- Wandering (Bible Study)

They traveled up from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh

The people don’t believe they can take out the giants so they wander

After the 40 years of wandering God leads them to the place where Moses will die

Chapter 6 Recap

Within days of receiving the Law, Israel began a downhill slide into all kinds of sin.  The golden calf and the accompanying immorality were just the beginning.  After spending a year at Mount Sinai, the cloud lifted and Israel began her journey toward the Promised Land.

From Kadesh Barnea, Moses sent out twelve leaders to spy out the land.  They returned with a negative report that spread fear throughout the populous.  Only Caleb and Joshua believed God’s promise to give them the land by overtaking their enemies.  God’s anger became a major motif in this chapter sparked by the sin and unbelief of His chosen people.  He punished Israel by confining them to the desert for 40 years until the unbelieving generation died out.  They would never enjoy the benefits of the Land.  Those 40 years were marked by cycles of sin and God’s anger.  We see that, from the Garden, sin leads to physical death.  Understanding the connection between sin and death helps us to understand the magnitude of Christ’s resurrection and the hope of our own.

After the old generation died in the desert, God and Moses began to prepare the new generation to enter and conquer the Land.  This new generation continued in the same cycles of sin as their fallen fathers including idolatry and immorality at Shittim.  Israelite men were indulging in immorality and Baal worship with Canaanite women.  But unlike his grandfather Aaron who willingly participated in the golden calf incident, Priest Phinehas was zealous for the LORD and put to death the idolaters.  Again, their sin was directly tied to the plague that killed 24,000.  This helps set the foundation to understand Moses’ farewell address to Israel.  We see from their example that being righteous under the Law was impossible.  This nation was far from holy.

Israel is God’s chosen nation by covenant.  They were chosen to be a blessing to all nations.  Moses had to remind the new generation of all that God had done for them since Abraham’s call.  After leading this people through the wilderness and investing his life in them, Moses imparted his God-inspired message:  Choose life.  They were to believe and obey God.  Belief and obedience carried with it covenantal benefits of prosperity and life in the Land.  Unbelief and covenantal disobedience carried with it the consequences of cursing and death.  Two choices, but only one leads to life.

There are three separate themes that run through the chapter this week. We will take each one separately. There is also some bonus material on Miriam at the end of the lesson.

Freedom vs. Familiarity

No less than six times in the chapter, the people pine for “the good old days” in Egypt:

a)      “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord” (p.57)

b)      “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost…” (p.58)

c)      “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” (p.58)

d)     “If only we had died in Egypt!” (p.61)

and 40 years later…(!)

e)      “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place?  It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates.  And there is no water to drink!”  (p.63)

f)       “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  There is no bread!  There is no water!  And we detest this miserable food!”  (p.65)

It’s always striking to watch how people cling to the familiar, however damaging and unhealthy, over freedom from that bondage.  A poorly fitting shoe, over time, conforms to the foot so that when you try on a properly fitting shoe, it feels foreign and out-of-place.  In fact, when given an opportunity to choose health or disease, the unhealthy is often chosen because it involves far less risk and engagement.  Why take a chance on a potentially positive relationship, when a poorer choice would remove any possibility of future disappointment?

Why do we naturally long for the things of the past instead of focusing on the future?

Satan convinces us that no matter how traumatic our wounds, the sting of an antiseptic is not worth the long-term effect; no matter how heavy our baggage, we dare not off-load it.  It’s the old devil-you-know ploy that traps people in a closed, spiraling loop of faithlessness.

Wandering was this chapter’s manifestation of God’s concession to their self-absorption.  A couple of practical applications:

Who among us has not experienced an “in-between” time of aimlessness and lack of direction?  Is it possible that unbelief in God’s grand Upper Story is the source of our wandering no less than it was for the Hebrews?

Ecclesiastes, the Gospels and Romans, to name a few, all deal with retreat to the comfortable yet unhealthy.  The Bible is full of examples of the cycle of deliverance and then relapse…victory followed by defeat…freedom overshadowed by recidivism.  How great the grace of God that His salvation is perpetual, enduring, and new every morning.  Aspects of these cyclical patterns, and the power of grace over them, can be much more deeply explored. What can you do to help remind yourself of his ever-present mercy?

Leadership Issues

The chapter illustrates not just the burdens of leadership, but its pitfalls:

  • Lesson #1:  Moses, predictably, gets fed up with the whining, fussing and griping of the people.  If this is my burden, just kill me, he says.  But Lesson #1 for leaders is that even when you reach exasperation trying to “herd cats on linoleum,” trust that a) God gets no less fed up but never fails to apply mercy, and b) he will often allow the consequences of the people’s misery to be visited upon them “until it comes out of their nostrils.”  Thus, they become their own punishment, so you, as a leader, can take that off your plate and focus on mercy.
  • Lesson #2: This leadership lesson is about leading in the role God gives you.  Aaron and Miriam were leaders, but did not have Moses’ mantle.  They begin to sound a lot like James, John and their mother in the NT:  “What about us??”  Lesson #2 on leadership is to bloom where God plants you.
  • Lesson #3: The same story contains the next lesson: let God do the defending.  Moses’ humility was the key, and as far as Scripture records, he let God do all the talking – in fact, p. 59 says after the Lord heard Miriam and Aaron, “at once” the Lord jumped in the fray.  We must focus on humility and leave the defense to God.
  • Lesson #4: The the conventional wisdom of a leadership community is frequently off base.  Of the twelve spies (a leader from each tribe), ten of them responded in fear, and only two in faith.  The “road less traveled” – an out-of-the-box approach – is especially applicable to those who have the responsibility of leading others.
  • Lesson #5:  If you’re in a leadership role, God’s expectations of you go way up.  You’d think Moses’ striking the rock instead of speaking to it could have been explained by exuberance and maybe a little grandstanding…but as the leader of the people, his example sent a message that no other person’s disobedience would – and so he lost the capstone of the journey: crossing the goal line.  In the NT, Jesus talks about servant leadership, and James warns teachers (influencers) as well about the gravity of authority.  As this story demonstrates, we dare not take it lightly.
  • Lesson #6: As a final tribute to his humility and leadership ability, Moses saw the absolute necessity of Succession Planning.  Real leaders never fail to equip their people to do without them, and so his prayer on p. 67 is especially poignant:  “May the Lord, The God of every human spirit, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”  He knew his work wasn’t completed without ensuring sound leadership for his flock after his departure, even in the face of his punishment.  No wonder God thought so much of him.

From the list of leadership lessons to learn from, which ones are the ones you want to never forget? Which ones do you struggle with? Which ones would you leave behind?

Parting Words

This can be the most personal part of the lesson.  If you were leaving a church or a company or a family for the last time, what would you say?  What words would you want echoing in their ears long after your departure?

Read Moses’ final speech to the people Deuteronomy 33

Moses’ final words were those of great encouragement:  the Lord is God and trustworthy; love him completely; teach your family to do the same; remember his chastening; and finally, in a very Messianic tone:  as you enter into the Promise, be of good cheer, for God has overcome already.  In John 17, just before Gethsemane, Jesus said basically the same thing.

What would be your closing statement or farewell address?

Words to Live By

Identify who said these words and when:

  • Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.—John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 20 Jan 1961
  • Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal.  Abe Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 19 Nov 1863
  • From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.  Sir Winston Churchill, Westminster College, Fulton, MO, 5 March 1946
  • I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.— Martin Luther King, 28 Aug 1963
  • Love always hurts.—Mother Teresa, Nat’l Prayer Breakfast, 4 Feb 1994

Few people’s words are truly, historically memorable.  Fewer yet affect true change in others.  From the 40 years that Moses led Israel in the desert, only his final speeches/sermons are recorded to live on in history, changing hearts as God’s inspired Word.

I.       Wrongdoings to die for

Israel spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness for their unbelief.  God told Israel to go into the Land that He would give them.  But they did not trust Him.

A. Israel grumbled about their hardships  ->  God’s anger burned.

B. Israel and the Egyptian rabble complained about the manna  ->  God’s anger burned.

C. Israel wanted meat so God gave them quail and a plague  ->  God’s anger burned.

D. Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses  ->  God’s anger burned.

E. Israel’s leaders brought back a bad report from the Land and refused to enter as God instructed  ->  God’s anger burned.

– Because Israel refused to go into the Land that God had given them, He disciplined them with 40 years in the desert.  The unbelieving generation would die in the desert and never enjoy the benefits of the Land given to Israel by covenant.

– The new generation would be led into the land by Joshua and Caleb, the only two leaders that believed God was able to take the Land.

F. 40 years later, the new generation was repeating the sins of their fathers.

– They grumbled for lack of water.

– They grumbled for lack of food  ->  God sent snakes.

– They worshiped Baal and indulged in immorality  ->  God sent a plague.

II.    Words to live by

A. Moses had spent 40 years investing his life into the Israelites.  He had faced down Pharaoh and seen God face to face!  He listened to their grumblings with exasperation.  He watched the old generation die in the desert with grief and frustration.  His unchecked frustration resulted in God’s discipline so that even Moses would not be permitted to enter the Promised Land.  But Moses was a faithful leader to the end.

B. Moses had begun his ministry worried about his inability to speak well.  Through his 40 years of leadership, only his final three sermons are recorded in the Bible.  (These make up the Book of Deuteronomy.  In The Story they are summarized on pp. 68-70.)

C. Knowing that he would die soon, Moses must have had a heavy burden on his heart for these people.  He needed to impart wisdom and instruction to his children.  He needed to pass on to them their own history so that they could learn from their fathers’ mistakes.  Most of all, Moses desperately needed to convey to them the work of God on their behalf and encourage their appropriate responses of trust, love and obedience.

D. The message is summarized as follows:

– There is only one God, the LORD.  He loved you and redeemed you.  Therefore, believe and obey.

– Obedience from the heart will result in prosperity in the Land.

– Loving God results in obedience; obedience results in life.

– Turning away from God results in disobedience; disobedience results in death and you will not live in the Land.

– The LORD is your life–choose life!

III. Implications and Applications

A. I should learn from the Israelites’ examples and not grumble, commit idolatry or immorality.

B. God provides for my needs.  I should be thankful.

C. There are consequences for my choices of unbelief.  I choose wisely.

D. Sin leads to death, but Christ overcame death!  I should trust Him for my life.

E. Moses’ final words were God-inspired and important.  Therefore, I should listen carefully to the message.

F. There are still only two choices, but only one leads to life.

G. I choose life when I believe and obey God.

H. Obedience is an outward expression of an inward faith.  My motivation is from my heart that loves God.

My Words to Live By

With a small group, or with a partner, share what you might say if you knew this would be your final opportunity to speak with your family and friends.

  • What would be your message to your spouse?
  • To your children?

After you have done that, consider this:

  • If this is the most important message that you could pass on, are we communicating that message now in either word or deed?
  • How could your “words to live by” help guide your priorities in the present?

Bonus material if you want some more study on a character:

Chapter 6 of THE STORY reveals Miriam as a qualified leader whom God provided, along with Moses and Aaron, to deliver His people from bondage.  But God showed Miriam that he was deadly serious when he taught her a most important lesson about his leaders.  Their relationship with Him is what matters.

I. Miriam as a leader.

1.  What do these events from Miriam’s life reveal about the kind of person she was?

Exodus 2:4- She watched her baby brother in his basket in the Nile.

Exodus 2:7- She offered their own mother to Pharaoh’s daughter as a nurse.

Exodus 15:20- Miriam was called a prophetess.

Exodus 15:20, 21- All the women followed her with tambourines, dancing, and singing.

Numbers 12:1- Miriam led in speaking out against Moses.

Numbers 12:15-16- The Israelites waited for 7 days when Miriam was confined outside of camp.

Numbers 20:1- Her death is recorded.

Micah 6:4- Miriam is named with Moses and Aaron as leaders that God sent to the Israelites.

2. Word Study:

Exodus 2:4- The term “stood at a distance” implies taking a stand, or positioning oneself.  What would that imply about how the young girl, Miriam, watched her brother.

Exodus 15:20- The word prophetess in ancient literature refers to a woman.  It can mean a poetess, or an inspired woman.  How do we know that both things apply to Miriam?

Numbers 8- Levite refers to the descendants of Levi.  This tribe was assigned by God with the task of caring for all the duties of the Tabernacle.  As a descendant of Levi, what duties did Miriam perform that might correspond to the Tabernacle worship?

II. Miriam and Aaron criticize Moses.  Numbers 12

The opposition of Miriam and Aaron to Moses came at a difficult time in the life of the Israelite nation.  Chapter 6 of The Story relates the events from Numbers 11, just preceding the challenge to Moses’s authority. The constant complaints had angered God so much that he sent fire from heaven and consumed some who were positioned at the edges of the camp.  Only Moses’s prayer on their behalf saved the rest of them.  Next they drove Moses to distraction because they were hungry for meat.  God sent such a quantity of quail that measured three feet deep around them, and then he served a plague for dessert!  The truth is they had replaced the respect and honor that they’d had for God during the building of the tabernacle with disrespect and scorn.  Even with these images fresh in mind, Miriam and Aaron added to Moses’s burdens with their personal criticism.

What did Miriam and Aaron challenge? (v. 1)

What was the real reason for the opposition? (v. 2)

How did Moses react? (v. 3)

What did God do? (v. 4-5)

What was the consequence for Miriam? (v. 9-13)

What was the consequence for the Israelites? (v. 13-16)

The friendship between Moses and God was foreign to Miriam and Aaron.  They were uncomfortable with it. Describe this relationship from the following passages.

Exodus 33:17-23

Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:6-9

III. Leadership Challenge

Miriam and Aaron started their opposition with an excuse.  But the complaint reveals the real problem.

The Complaint:  Consider Miriam’s grievance in Numbers 12:2: “‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?’ they asked.  ‘Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’”

  • What do these words imply about how Miriam and Aaron had been used by God?
  • What do these words reflect about Miriam and Aaron’s attitude toward God?
  • What would it mean to you if you knew that God had spoken through you?
  • To what extent do we have the right to evaluate how God chooses to work with those who serve him as Lord and Master?

Both Miriam and Aaron had demonstrated great leadership.  They had also shown terrible lapses of judgment.  Moses too, had led well and he had made grave mistakes. Each one had an important role in God’s plan.  To our knowledge, God had not distinguished Miriam’s nor Aaron’s contribution as less meaningful than Moses’s.  But there was a difference.

Key Question for us:  In what areas are you prideful in your position rather than pleased to contribute in God’s Kingdom?

Be a blessing this week as you have been blessed!

Get up and Go: Getting Past your Jordan

I apologize for not publishing an article in almost two weeks. The series we are in has been an amazing journey through the Book of Joshua. I have found that there has always been more to learn and ways to grow in faith. Keep your hearts and ears open!

Karen Kennedy is the author of this weeks blog. She has an amazing heart for God and brings a different perspective on faith and life.

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5

The years in the wilderness were filled with wrath and death, but those times have now expired–the children of Israel are poised to enter into Canaan. They are ready to claim their inheritance in the land of promise. Before they can enter Canaan, they must first get past one final, major obstacle–the rapidly flooding Jordan River.

With boldness and faith Joshua gives the order to the priests, “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s water, go and stand in the river.” In other words, the priests had to put their feet into the raging river. He then orders the entire nation to break camp, which is no small undertaking. If Joshua has misinterpreted God’s command or God changes his mind–Joshua will have made an incredible mistake.

The tension continues, Joshua commanded the people to follow the priests into the river! Can you feel the suspense? Joshua, the priests, the people remembering their wilderness experience while looking at the river rushing before them. Do we stay, or do we go? This is not only a step of faith that the waters will not harm them, but also a forward motion of the leaving their 40-year wilderness routine behind them. The promised land is almost reachable, but there was a lot at stake if they put their feet in the river. There was no way they could cross this river on their own! They needed supernatural help.

As we read the story, we see the happy ending, but they did not. They were required to believe the promise of God by stepping out in faith. It was not easy, it took plenty of courage for them to step out on God’s promises.

Similarly in our lives, we will all be called to step out in faith in some area of life–to put our feet in the water, following God’s lead, leaving behind the familiar while reaching toward God’s calling. At that point, we need to fully realize that God’s promises are larger than our Jordan’s and that we need supernatural help to take faith’s first step.

When have you had to take a step of faith? How difficult was the decision? What advice would you give to others who are struggling with the idea of trusting in God instead of their own ways?

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