Excerpt from Rise Up and Build Study Guide

Key Verse:

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28

Recommended Reading:

Rise Up and Build: A Biblical Approach to Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

pp. 7-14

Inspiration for the Day:

 Did you know that the original Chicken Soup for the Soul  book was rejected 144 times before a publisher deemed it worth the risk to take on? Today, there are over 200 different Chicken Soup for the Soul titles translated into over 40 languages totaling in sales of more than 112 million books. As a writer, this is encouraging to me because I have faced my fair share of rejection. This account that I heard just this week reminds me what I need to do to go beyond rejection and to reach success. What's that? Persevere!

I don't know about you, but I give up on myself far too quickly and far too often. I try something, and when things don't work the way I planned, I try again. But after the fourth or fifth attempt, I label myself a failure and move onto the next task, always wondering what could have been accomplished if I had stuck with it.

Do you remember the passage in the Bible that says, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you? If you look at the root of the words in the Greek and Hebrew forms, you'll discover that this passage is not commanding us to ask, seek, or knock one time. The Scriptures bear the meaning of "ask and keep on asking," "seek and keep on seeking," "knock and keep on knocking." It's like the acrostic PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens. Don't give up when things don't seem to be working. Just keep trying!

What if Noah hadn't persevered through the ridicule of the people? What if Daniel hadn't continued despite the threat to his life? What if Jesus hadn't persisted up the road to Calvary? Whether it takes one rejection or a thousand, we mustn't give up.

Whatever you're facing today, you can find the strength to keep going. You may have to walk or even crawl, but keep pressing on. Who knows what the result may be?

Discussion Questions:

1. Can you remember a time you allowed your emotions to get the best of you and wound up in a mess? Describe the feelings that drove you to the point of giving up.

2. He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, and without walls. What does this verse mean to you?

3. What is your initial reaction when people tell you to “Get over it" or “Let it go"?

4. Consider this: "The sad truth is that many of us are anxious and depressed because we've given up control of our emotions just as I gave up control of my truck all those years ago. It wasn't taken from us. We gave it up willingly whether we realize it or not." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? If you disagree, why?

5. Do you believe you can be free from anxiety and depression? Why or why not?

6. Luke 18:27 says, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. How does this statement comfort you as you begin the process of building the walls around your heart?

7. Have you ever had a burden like Nehemiah but been too afraid to do the thing you felt led to do? How did you deal with the fear? Did you accomplish the task or run away from it? Looking back, do you have any regrets?

8. What would you be willing to do to rid yourself of anxiety and depression for good? How much money would a cure be worth?

Action Steps:

1. Set aside some time to pray and carefully consider what you will do to rid yourself of anxiety and depression. Ask God to give you the strength to make whatever sacrifices are needed to be freed from this emotional bondage.

2. I highly recommend reading through the entire book of Nehemiah. This will give you a good feel for the story as a whole and help you to understand what was involved in the process of building the wall of Jerusalem.

The Pit of Voices

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. - Psalm 40:2

I believe all Christians can relate to this verse in one form or another.  How many times has God delivered us from danger?  How many times has He led us where we needed to go?  While there's loads of good meat in this one verse alone, I want to focus on the phrase "an horrible pit."

Have you ever felt like you were in a pit and no matter how hard you struggled, you just couldn't get out?  Maybe it was a pit of despair.  Or perhaps it was a pit of loneliness.  A pit of depression or a pit of fatigue.  I think we would all agree that those are horrible pits to find oneself in.  But the pit to which David is referring here is even worse.  In the Hebrew, the phrase "an horrible pit" is translated as "pit of voices."  Unfortunately, we can relate to that pit as well.

The world cries out to us, "Have it your way!"  Satan whispers in our ears, "Hath God said. . .?"  Even our own flesh calls out, "Life is hard.  I deserve a little happiness, don't I?"  And somewhere amid the cacophony is the still, small voice of the Savior saying, "Child, follow my lead."

We used to play a game with our church youth group that illustrated this pit of voices rather well.  Each team was made up of two players.  One player traversed an obstacle course while blindfolded, and the other gave the teammate directions.  The trick was that every other team was allowed to speak to the obstacle-facing contestant, and of course, they often chose to shout out incorrect directions meant to confuse, overwhelm and lead astray.  The only way the player could be successful was if he/she drowned out all other voices except that of his/her teammate.

Sometimes in life, I feel like I'm a contestant in this game without even realizing it.  Just like the player, friend and foe alike are filling my ears with advice, direction and suggestions.  It's up to me to filter out all other noise and to listen intently for that still, small voice.  Only then will I successfully finish the course.

*Excerpt from Rise Up and Build Devotional:  52 Inspirational Thoughts for Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

Rise Up and Build: Don't Believe Everything You Hear

I would like to have a word with the weatherman. He said that yesterday was supposed to be mostly sunny with a high of 72°—beautiful weather for taking the dog to the lake. The only problem is that he was WRONG!

It was not mostly sunny; it was quite cloudy all day. It was also windy and cool. Thankfully, I had taken a jacket for the morning chill. I ended up wearing it the entire time. My hands were so chilled I could barely write. The temperature was 58° when I began my hike. It was 60° when I was done. Ooooh, heatwave!

I'm not complaining about the weather, mind you. The cool temperature was quite a relief from the extreme heat we've been dealing with. No, my complaint is not with the weather—it's with the weatherman. If he doesn't know what the weather will be like, he should just say so. It just goes to show us that we can’t believe everything we hear.

We’ve already discussed how the world’s teachings don’t line up with God’s Word, so we must be careful to block out their voices or at the very least, to take what they’re saying with a grain of salt. Nehemiah learned that lesson as well.

Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee. And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. (Nehemiah 6:10-14) 

Shemaiah was supposed to be on Nehemiah’s side. He was a fellow prophet and supposedly a good guy, but when he told Nehemiah that he should hide in the temple, Nehemiah knew that something wasn’t right. Even though the source was trustworthy, Nehemiah was smart enough and clear-headed enough to run those instructions through the filter based on what God had already told him. When he did, he figured out that Shemaiah had been hired by Tobiah and Sanballat (yes, the same old enemy). Their goal was to make Nehemiah fear for his life and run to the temple to escape his fate. But Nehemiah knew that his fate was in God’s hands, and that Tobiah and Sanballat couldn’t do anything to him unless God allowed it.

We cannot believe everything we hear from the enemy or even so-called friends. And we especially cannot trust what our emotions are saying to us. They are the biggest liars of all! They will tell us that we’re all alone, that no one cares about us, that things will never get better, that we might as well help ourselves because no one else will do it, and on and on. Don’t listen! Our feelings and emotions, when left to their own devices, will seek to do what Tobiah and Sanballat attempted to do to Nehemiah—they will make us fearful and ineffective. Don’t listen. Do what Nehemiah did and compare the statements of your feelings to the truth of God’s Word. Here’s what you’ll find:

Feelings say, “You are all alone.” God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Feelings say, “No one cares about you.” God says, “I loved you enough to send my Son to die for you.”

Feelings say, “You’re such a loser. You’ll never accomplish anything.” But God says, “You are more than conquerors through me, and you can do all things through me.”

Feelings say, “You’ve tried before and failed. This time won’t be any different.” God says, “Though you fall, you will not be cast down, for I’m upholding you with my hand.”

See what I mean? Don’t listen to the myriad of voices around you. Tune in to the only one that matters!

*Excerpt from Rise Up and Build:  A Biblical Approach To Dealing With Anxiety and Depression