5/22/16 – When you’re getting close to completing the mission… – Nehemiah 6:1-14

When you’re getting close to completing the mission…


John Stange

Nehemiah 6:1-14

I. Identify distractions (v. 1-4)

Matthew 28:19-20 – 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

II. Confront deception (v. 5-9)

Revelation 12:10 – And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Matthew 26:64-68 – Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

III. Discern sabotage (v. 10-14)

James 1:5-6 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

2/14/16 – Finding Strength to Make the Harder Choice

Finding Strength to Make the Harder Choice


John Stange

Ezra 10:1-5

I. Godly sorrow produces repentance (v. 1)

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

II. Remaining hopeful in your lowest seasons (v. 2)

III. Heeding counsel that’s faithful to God’s Word (v. 3-5)

2/7/16 – Realizing what we actually deserve

Realizing what we actually deserve


John Stange

Ezra 9:10-15

I. What have we done with God’s commandments? (v. 10-11)

Romans 5:20-21 – God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
II. What do we welcome into our family life? (v. 12-14)

1 Corinthians 7:39 – A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.

III. How can we possibly stand before our Creator? (v. 15)

Ephesians 5:25-27 – For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.

1/31/16 – The release of heart-felt confession

The release of heart-felt confession

John Stange

Ezra 9:6-9

I. Admitting our guilt instead of holding on to it (v. 6-7)

1 Corinthians 12:26 – If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

II. Welcoming God’s action of “brightening our eyes” (v. 8)

John 10:9-10 – 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

III. Remembering that God does not forsake His children (v. 9)

Hebrews 13:5b – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1/17/16 – Are we taking God’s goodness for granted?

Are we taking God’s goodness for granted?

John Stange

Ezra 9:1-5

I. The desire to embrace the world’s values (v. 1)

Ephesians 5:15-16 – 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

II. The devaluation of God’s high standard for marriage (v. 2)

III. The solution is God’s intervention in our lives (v. 3-5)

James 5:13-16 – 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working

12/13/15 – A picture of our new life in Christ

A picture of our new life in Christ

John Stange

Ezra 8:24-36

I. Stewards of a treasure (v. 24-30)

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 – 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us

II. Delivered from the enemy’s ambush (v. 31-34)

1 Peter 5:8 – 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

III. Freely worshiping outside of captivity (v. 35-36)

Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

12/6/15 – Preparing for the journey of a lifetime

Preparing for the journey of a lifetime

John Stange

Text: Ezra 8:15-23
I. Gathering men of insight with servant’s hearts (v. 15-17)

Luke 5:27-28 – 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

II. Acknowledging God’s hand of favor (v. 18-20)

III. Humbling yourself before God (v. 21-23)

11/22/15 – Take Courage, for the Hand of the Lord Is On You

Take Courage, for the Hand of the Lord Is On You

John Stange

Ezra 7:1-28

I. What are you setting your heart to do? (v. 1-10)

Philippians 3:12-16 – 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

II. Who are you encouraging to use their gifts (v. 11-20)

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

III. How highly do you prioritize what God has decreed? (v. 21-28)

11/15/15 – God is Working in and Through You

God is Working in and Through You

John Stange

Ezra 6:13-22

I. Finishing the work God entrusted to you (v. 13-15)

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

II. Dedicating the fruit of the work to God’s glory (v. 16-18)

Hebrews 9:27-28 – 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

III. Living a life of worship and holiness (v. 19-22)

11/1/15 – Making God’s Mission Your Own

Making God’s Mission Your Own

John Stange

Ezra 6:1-12

I. Searching for Truth (v. 1-5)

John 18:37-38a – 33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

II. Investing in what you value (v. 6-8)

III. Desiring God’s favor (v. 9-12)

Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lordhe turns it wherever he will.

10/25/15 – God’s grace toward the humble

God’s grace toward the humble

John Stange

Ezra 5:6-17

I. The work of God testified to before the king (v. 6-10)

Matthew 10:16-18 – 16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

Hebrews 7:14-17 – 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

II. Humbly owning your history (v. 11-16)

1 Peter 5:5 – Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Matthew 18:1-5 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,

III. Getting ready for God to bless from unexpected sources (v. 17)

10/18/15 – A Fresh Wind to Rebuild

A Fresh Wind to Rebuild

John Stange

Ezra 5:1-5

I. Taking inspiration from God’s Word (v. 1-2)

Haggai 1:2-5 – 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.

II. Receiving questions from the curious (v. 3-4)

1 Peter 2:5 – you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

III. Knowing that God is watching over you (v. 5)

10/11/15 – With great Opportunity Comes Great Opposition

With great Opportunity Comes Great Opposition

John Stange

Ezra 4:17-24

I. Sometimes, the wrong king wants the glory (v. 17-22)

John 4:1-3 – Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making andbaptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.

II. Sometimes, there will be people who can’t wait to give you bad news (v. 23)

Psalm 118:6 – The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

III. Sometimes, you’ll be given unexpected opportunities to rest, recharge and restart (v. 24)

Acts 16:19-24 – But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city.21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or
practice.”22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

10/4/15 – Handling Adversity and Accusation When You’re Doing God’s Will

Handling Adversity and Accusation When You’re Doing God’s Will

John Stange

Ezra 4:1-16

I. Seek discernment regarding those you choose to partner with (v. 1-3)

Acts 1:21-26 – 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesuswent in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also calledJustus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

II. Don’t be taken off guard by those who seek to discourage you (v. 4-5)

III. Remember who you really are when accusations are made against you (v. 6-16)

Job 1:9-10 – Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?

Revelation 12:10 – And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down,who accuses them day and night before our God.

9/27/15 – The Steadfast Love of God

The Steadfast Love of God

John Stange

Ezra 3:8-13

I. God motivates leaders who motivate others (v. 8-9)

1 Corinthians 11:1 – Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

II. God’s track record of goodness should be remembered (v. 10-11a)

Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Psalm 145:9 – The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Ephesians 2:7 – so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

III. God has given us something to shout about (v. 11b-13)

Ecclesiastes 7:10 – Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Ephesians 2:19-22 – 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[b] the Spirit.

9/20/13 – Uniting to Make the Vision a Reality

Uniting to Make the Vision a Reality

John Stange

Ezra 3:1-7

I. Gathering as one man (v. 1-2)

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

II. Working through their fear (v. 3-5)

Genesis 9:2 – The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

III. Supporting a vision for the future (v. 6-7)

9/13/15 – Stirred Up

Stirred Up

John Stange

Ezra 1:1-11

I. Stirred up to fulfill God’s Word (v. 1)

Jeremiah 25:11-13 – This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 

Isaiah 44:28 – who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

II. Stirred up to support God’s work (v. 2-4)

III. Stirred up to do God’s mission (v. 5-11)

Hebrews 7:14a – “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah,”

Matthew 4:18-22 – While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.