Introduction: One of the most unrecognized powers you possess is that
of influence. When we think about influential leaders, some may
assume that only certain powerful people have the ability to
influence others. My belief is that we all exert some sort of
influence over each other. Is there some practice in your life that
you can trace to something that someone else said or did? It might
only be that one thing, but you carry it with you. As we end our
study of Ezra and Nehemiah, let’s explore what the Bible has to teach
us about influencing others!

  1. Josiah

    1. Read 2 Kings 22:1-2. What kind of influence can an eight-year old have? (When our son began to talk he referred to
      all heavy equipment as “gonks.” We still use that term in
      our household!)

    2. King Josiah, when he was twenty-six years-old ordered the
      repair of the temple. Let’s read 2 Kings 22:8. What is
      discovered during this repair? (The Bible as it was then.)

      1. In Lesson 6 of our current series we studied a
        similar situation in Nehemiah 8. They read and
        explained the Bible to people who were unfamiliar
        with what it said. How could the people have lost the
        Bible or have forgotten what it said? (Prior to
        Josiah’s time, it was simply neglected. In the time
        of Nehemiah, the nation had been invaded and the
        people taken captive.)

    3. Read 2 Kings 23:1-2. Think about Josiah’s path of
      influence. How does God work with Josiah to expand
      Josiah’s influence? (Josiah starts with a very basic goal;
      to repair the temple. This leads to a discovery of the
      Bible. Now, Josiah has the Bible read before the people.)

      1. Are there any lessons in this for us? (Our path to
        positively influencing others can start very simply.
        God will bless our efforts.)

    4. Read 2 Kings 23:3. What does King Josiah do? (He pledges
      to follow God and do His will “with all his heart and all
      his soul.”)

      1. What influence does this have on the people? (They
        pledge to do the same.)

      2. Josiah is twenty-six and he is having a real
        influence for good over his nation. What is your
        influence on those around you? (When I asked myself
        this question thirty-five years ago, it caused me to
        make some overdue changes in my life.)

  2. Nehemiah

    1. Let’s read some texts about the time Nehemiah was leading
      the effort to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. Read Nehemiah
      4:10-12. What is the message God’s people are sharing? (We
      are not strong enough.)

      1. What is the message of the enemies of God’s people?
        (They will kill the workers when they least expect

      2. What is the message of the Jews who live nearby?
        (Attacks are inevitable.)

      3. What is the combined influence of all of these
        negative messages?

    2. Read Nehemiah 4:13-14. How does Nehemiah counter these
      negative messages? (First, he takes steps to protect the
      workers from attack. Second, he encourages them by saying
      that God is with them. Third, he encourages them by saying
      they are fighting for their families.)

      1. Can you apply this approach to increase your

    3. Read Nehemiah 2:10, Nehemiah 4:7 and Nehemiah 13:4-5. We
      previously studied the issue of Eliashib providing a room
      in the temple to Tobiah. How would you characterize
      Tobiah? (He is an enemy of God’s people.)

      1. Read Nehemiah 13:6-9. In a previous lesson I asked
        if Nehemiah was being impolite. We discussed whether
        Nehemiah should have politely asked Tobiah to leave
        instead of throwing out all of his possessions. How
        is Nehemiah asserting his influence here? (Tobiah is
        a bad guy. If he had his way, the temple would not
        have been rebuilt. Nehemiah takes strong measures
        against Tobiah.)

      2. Are strong measures sometimes needed in our churches
        today? Is this sometimes the proper way to assert

  3. Ezra

    1. Read Ezra 7:8-10. Why was God’s “gracious hand” on Ezra?
      (He devoted himself to the study, observance and teaching
      of the law.)

    2. Read Ezra 7:11-13. What kind of influence does Ezra now
      have? (King Artaxerxes has empowered Ezra to take God’s
      people back to Jerusalem. This is one of the most
      important events in the history of God’s people and Ezra
      is leading the effort at this time.)

    3. Read Ezra 7:25. What great authority to influence the
      future does Ezra now have? (He is selecting and teaching

      1. Why was Ezra chosen for this extremely important
        task? (His connection to God. God not only gave Ezra
        wisdom ( Ezra 7:25), but Ezra studied and taught the

        1. Can you increase your influence by studying and
          teaching God’s law? Or, do you think that would
          cause you to lose influence?

    4. Read Ezra 7:27-28. What is the goal of Ezra’s work? (To
      bring honor to God’s house.)

      1. What encourages Ezra to get up in the morning and do
        his work? (He takes courage from the fact that God is
        with him.)

  4. Deborah

    1. Read Judges 4:4-5. What role did Deborah play in Israel?
      (She lead the nation. She was the judge who resolved
      disputes among the people. She was a prophet.)

    2. Read Judges 4:6-7. What other role does Deborah hold? (She
      relays the military strategy given to her by God.)

    3. Read Judges 4:2-3. How powerful is Sisera? (Chariots were
      the latest in war technology. Sisera has 900 iron

    4. Read Judges 4:7. God told Deborah to tell Barak to take
      his men up a mountain. God would then arrange for the 900
      iron chariots to be the valley. Is some instruction left
      out of this message? (I want to know how they use their
      position in the mountain to attack these chariots.)

    5. Read Judges 4:8. What does Barak think about these
      instructions? What kind of influence would Barak have as a
      leader? (He is fearful. His influence would be to spread

    6. Read Judges 4:9. What influence does Deborah have over

      1. How does Barak diminish his influence?

      2. What is Barak’s problem? (He does not trust what
        Deborah has told him.)

        1. Why would he not trust? (I don’t think the
          problem is trusting what Deborah said, I think
          Barak’s problem is trusting God.)

      3. Is there a lesson in this when it comes to our
        influence? (If we do great things in cooperation with
        God, it will enhance our influence.)

    7. Let’s skip down a few verses. Read Judges 4:13-15. What
      does it mean that “the Lord routed Sisera?” (Read Judges
      5:20-22. We now know how the impossible became possible.
      The riverbed in which all the chariots are gathered turns
      into a flash flood.)

    8. Read Judges 4:17-20? Who is the person that Sisera fears
      will come by? (Barak!)

    9. Read Judges 4:21-22. Who gets the credit for killing
      Sisera and who loses credit as predicted by Deborah in
      Judges 4:9? (Barak loses the credit and a woman, Jael,
      gets the credit.)

      1. Is there a lesson about influence in this story? Is
        there a message about gender? Why did God put this
        story in the Bible? (The consistent theme of the
        Bible is that God tilts towards male leadership.
        Despite that tilt, God uses anyone who trusts Him and
        fearlessly obeys Him. I think that is the reason for
        this story. If a man will not stand up, God will use
        women to effect the defeat of evil.)

    10. Friend, what kind of influence do you have on others? Be
      honest, is it good or bad? If it is bad, or if it seems
      to be a limited influence for good, why not determine to
      walk more closely with God and increase your influence?
      Why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to help you in
      that direction?

  5. Next week: Christ: The Center of Daniel. We begin a new series
    on the book of Daniel.