1. Why is it so difficult to wait for something promised, especially when you have been waiting for a while?
2. In the DVD segment, Randy pointed out that God was “pulling some strings in the Upper Story” (putting King Cyrus on the throne) so that He could make changes in the Lower Story (set the exiles free). Can you think of examples since that time when God changed the course of individual lives to accomplish His Upper Story? (Ex. an unknown monk named Martin Luther).
3. Randy talked about how God’s big thing can become our little thing if we’re not careful. When this happens, we get off track. What are examples of how God’s big thing can become our little thing? (Ex. God’s forgiveness being taken for granted.) How do we keep the big things important?
4. When the people of Israel began working on the foundation of the temple (Ezra 4; The Story, p. 265) they met resistance. What kind of conflict and opposition did the people face? When we seek to follow God’s will with a passionate heart, what resistance might we face?
5. Eventually the people got sidetracked from rebuilding God’s temple. It was sixteen years before God finally got them back on track (Haggai 1; The Story, pp. 266-267). What slowed down their work and what got them moving again?
6. What are some of the consequences we face when we do our own thing and forget to follow God’s plan for our lives?
7. What did God promise the people if they would move forward with His work (Haggai 2; The Story, pp. 267-268)? How does this bring hope and inspiration to walk in obedience to God’s leading?
8. The end of this chapter of The Story offers a glimpse of the political wrangling that took place behind the scenes. The governor of the region wanted the people to stop building the temple and falsely accused them of having no permission to build it. After communicating with the King of Babylon, everything changed (Ezra 5-6; The Story, pp. 270-273). How did God turn everything around and provide for the temple? How do you see the Upper Story breaking into the Lower Story again?
9. God called the people to action through His prophets, such as Haggai, who told the people to get up to the hills, gather wood and start building. What are some steps we should take to “gather wood and start building” as we incorporate God’s plan for our lives?