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Sunday, September 24: Daniel in the Lion’s Den
- Daniel 6:16-23
- Daniel 1:1-21 Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s Court
- Daniel 6:1-15 King Darius’ Decree
- Where are you from, and how has your hometown informed your faith?
- Share a time when you traveled to a foreign country or had a cross-cultural experience. How were the customs, food, language etc. different from what you were used to? How did it make you feel?
- Read Daniel 6:1-10 What do you think Daniel prayed when he was in his room with his windows open? What words would you use if you were in Daniel’s place? If you have time, actually write out a prayer you might use if you were in Daniel’s situation.
- Read Daniel 6:11-13. Share a time when you have been tripped up by a technicality.
- Read Daniel 6:14-18. King Darius was obviously troubled by Daniel’s situation. Why do you think King Darius didn’t actually do anything to help Daniel?
- Read Daniel 6:16-23. What do you think Daniel prayed when he was in the pit of lions? What words would you use if you were in Daniel’s place? If you have time, actually write out a prayer you might use if you were in Daniel’s situation.
- Pastor Matt highlighted the conflict between Babylonia/Persian Culture and the Israelite’s calling. The Apostle Paul told the church in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2). Where do our culture and God’s calling on our lives come into conflict?
- Think of a person that you know who has passionately lived out his or her faith. What did this passionate faith look like? How did God see them through difficult times?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Scripture tells us it’s the will of God that we “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” When you find yourself in an difficult situation, what words can you pray? Look at your responses from question #3 and #6. Would you use any of these words?
Sunday, September 17: If He Does Not
- Daniel 3:13-18
- Daniel 3:1-12 Nebuchadnezzar’s Gold Statue
- Daniel 3:19-30 The Blazing Furnace
- Talk about a time when you had to make a personal sacrifice in order to do something you believe God was asking you to do.
- Talk about a time when you thought that your life might be in danger. How did you react? What thoughts ran through your mind?
- We are sometimes led to believe that if we commit to Jesus, everything in our lives will get better. In what way is that possibly true, in what way is that possibly not true?
- Read Daniel 3:13-18. Imagine you are Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego. How do you think you would have responded to the King?
- Focus on verse 18. What does this tell you about the faith of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego?
- Pastor Mark points out that many of us have a “God is able” faith, but it is much more difficult (but important) to develop an “even if He does not” faith. What do you think that means?
- Mark tells the story of a Pastor friend whose daughter was killed at the age of 17 in an automobile accident. When you either encounter tragedy in your own life or hear about it in the lives of others, does that cause you to question your faith? Why or why not?
- Read 1 Timothy 4:7-9. One way we cultivate a strong faith is to stop trying and start training. Mark talks about how you don’t try to be a Christian, you train to be a Christian. He uses the analogy of training for a triathalon versus trying to do a triathlon. What training disciplines are helping you to be a stronger Christian?
- One of the best ways to cultivate “even if He does not” faith is to embrace and maintain an eternal perspective. Pastor Mark talks about the Anablep (Four Eyed Fish). How does keeping an eternal perspective help us stay strong in our faith as we go through this life?
- There is an old expression, “don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good.” CS Lewis suggests that it is when we become heavenly minded that we are of greatest earthly good. What do you think he means by that? Do you agree or disagree?
Sunday, September 10
- Genesis 25:29-34
- Genesis 24:1-67 A Wife for Isaac
- Genesis 25:19-26 The Birth of Esau and Isaac
Read Genesis 25:20-34
- Share a time when you bought something and realized you payed more than you should have, or share an experience when you invested more time and energy into something than you should have. How did you feel afterward?
- Pastor Mark shared the story of Ben Franklin, who as a child, exchanged a large sum of money for a toy whistle. Franklin later was overcome by grief and regret, and vowed that he would never again pay too much for his whistles. What are some modern day “whistles” that seem to attract the time, attention and finances of many people in American culture today?
- Read Genesis 25:27-28. How do you think the personality differences between Jacob and Esau may have affected their relationship?
- How do you think their parents’ tendency to “play favorites” may have impacted the family dynamic?
- In this ancient culture, the family Birthright entitled the firstborn male to inherit a double portion (twice as much) as the other male children in the family, and the oldest brother was also considered the leader of the family when the father passed away. Why do you think Jacob wanted to get the Birthright from his brother Esau?
- Read the excuse Esau gives to justify trading away his birthright (Genesis 25:32). What sort of flimsy excuses do people sometimes offer in order to justify spending or investing more than they should on things that aren’t really important?
- Pastor Mark suggests that one way to avoid making Esau’s mistake is to get clear about what is really important. He suggests creating a personal mission statement that reflects the commands to love God and love others. Have you ever attempted to create your own personal mission statement? In what way might a personal mission statement be helpful in clarifying what is important in your life?
- Pastor Mark also suggests reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. Why is it important to invest some time in study, prayer and reflection on our mission or purpose in life?
- Read Matthew 6:33. What do you think Jesus means by “seek first the Kingdom of God and it’s righteousness?”
- Pastor Mark says, “First, we make our decisions, then our decisions make us.” What does that mean to you?
- Modern life does not teach us to pay attention to what is most important. What practices help you stay focused on the important things in life?
- Pastor Mark claims that there is a difference between knowing what is important and being focused on what is important. Do you agree or disagree? Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you knew what was important but were focused on lesser things?
- Pastor Mark recommends a weekly review, where you review your past week and then you plan your upcoming week, making certain to schedule those things that are truly important into your week. The issue is not “will my calendar be full, but what will fill my calendar.” Do you ever feel like your weekly schedule currently helps you stay focused on what is really important and valuable? If now, what can you do to make changes?
- Pastor shares the story about a jewelry store where someone has switched the price tags. Now the valuable jewelry is treated as if it was costume jewelry while the cheap jewelry is treated as if it was really valuable. How can we make certain we are giving the correct value to the many different opportunities and responsibilities that life offers to us? How do we determine what is truly valuable? What can we do to teach children to discern the true value of things?
- Read Ephesians 5:8-20. How do we find out what the Lord’s will is? And how do we make the most of every opportunity? How does our connection to the Church help us?
Assignment for This week:
- Try writing out your own personal mission statement. You can search online for “personal mission statement” to discover samples and to locate instructions on how to construct your own. Also try listing out the top 5-7 responsibilities/opportunities that are most important to you.
- Try to pick a day and time to make an appointment with yourself and conduct a weekly review. During this weekly review, you do the following:
- Review your personal mission statement
- Review your list of what is most important to you
- Review the previous 7 days to see if there is anything left undone
- Preview the next 7 days and intentionally schedule time that you will invest in those most important things that help you live out your personal mission.