Happy Monday!  As you prepare for the week ahead and all of the many things we have to do, let's join together in looking at a slave's intercession for the people of God in a desperate state of affairs and see what God's Spirit has for us to learn and respond to. - Josh

CONNECT (Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Think about the context of your life (work, family, city, culture, friends, etc).  Where are you grieving?  Where are you celebrating?  

_ To whom has God placed you to serve, love, and intercede for?  (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

_ God has placed you in your context for a reason.  Pray today for Him to open your eyes to see to whom you are being sent and where He wants you to intercede on the behalf of others.

DISCOVER  [Nehemiah 1:1-2:9]
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital,  2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem.  3 And they said to me, "The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire."

4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

5 And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.' 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man."

Now I was cupbearer to the king.

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.

Then I was very much afraid.

3 I said to the king, "Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"  4 Then the king said to me, "What are you requesting?

So I prayed to the God of heaven.

5 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it."  6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), "How long will you be gone, and when will you return?

So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.

7 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy."And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

9 Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions to help make additional observations to clarify the main point)
_ Note the opening tension of Nehemiah, he is in captivity and exile from his country and his home.  Where are you feeling in exile?  Where do you feel far from home?
_ Why does Nehemiah sit down, weep, and mourn for days upon hearing the news of Jerusalem's trouble? What causes you to weep?
_ Nehemiah's first prayer in vs. 5-11 has distinct sections.  Take 2min and break up/outline his prayer. (HINT - He starts by giving God praise for His Divine attributes in vs. 5)
_ How does Nehemiah's position as a servant and a slave impact his ability for impact?
_ How does Nehemiah's prayer in 2:4 differ from chapter 1?  What does the context tell us of the type of prayers we can pray?
_ How does Jesus stand in the gap for us like Nehemiah?  In what way is Jesus a more perfect Nehemiah?
_ What good-news about Jesus (salvation, forgiveness, help, comfort) do we discover in this passage?  

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and respond to what I learned today with a simple concrete step of action/obedience?  (In groups discuss this in guy/girl break-outs, below are a couple of ideas to help prompt responses if needed)

+ WHO are you walking with that you might pass along or encourage what you learned, with today? (e.g., your family around the dinner table, a friend, co-worker or neighbor you are walking with to discover the message Jesus)