Daniel

Jonah: “Enemy”

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It’s always refreshing to see the “bad guys” in life get what they deserve, but in the economy of God’s grace, your enemy isn’t who you think it is.

1. Read

Jonah 3:10-4:3 [NLT] “When God saw what (the people of Nineveh) had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. …Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if whatI predicted will not happen.”

In Jonah’s day, the Assyrians of Nineveh were the “bad guys,” and Jonah was really hoping they’d get the Sodom and Gomorrah treatment.

  • Think of a few people, groups or organizations that feel like enemies of the church, or of you as a Christian. Based on their actions, what kind of judgment (in this life and the next) do they deserve? 
  • How would that make the human side of you feel?
  • Is that God’s preferred outcome for their lives?

2. Challenge

Jonah 4:11 [NLT] “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals,” (God replied). “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Luke 6:35-36 [NLT] “…(God) is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

Through the lens of God’s grace, no human is the enemy. Hell is. God’s greatest desire for the antagonists in your life is not to nuke them, but to guide them back to repentance (genuine life change) by showing kindness and compassion.

  • For those people / groups you listed, what are some ways you or the church as a whole could show them unexpected kindness and compassion?
  • Coupled with an unwavering standard of God’s truth, how do you think these acts of compassion would be received, vs a picket line or boycott?
  • Which approach better fits God’s long-term goal for those people?

3. Prayer Focus

Spend time praying for your “enemies.” Ask God to bless them, even though they don’t deserve it. Ask the Holy Spirit to put love in your heart for them, and to use you to extend His kindness – and truth – to them.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: How To Survive A Night With The Lions”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 55:16 “But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me.”

What’s Up: “Building Good Character Makes Me Strong!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Before you start, double some grocery bags and fill them with enough books or canned goods so your children can’t lift the bag easily. Then call your children in and ask them to pick up the bag. When they can’t, take one item out and ask them to lift it again. Continue doing this until the bag is easy for them to lift.

  • If you knew that sometime in the future your life would depend on you being able to pick up something this heavy, what would you do? (Some type of weight training where they would start with smaller weights and work up to heavier ones; having someone train them.)
  • You’re going to face many types of problems in life. Some will be easy to overcome, but others may not be. All of the problems will be easier to face if you prepare ahead of time by learning to rely on God.
  • If you never pray, read the Bible, or worship God, how easy do you think it would be to rely on Him when you have a problem?
  • Do you think you could pray or worship for an hour without stopping?
  • How do you learn to pray or worship for longer periods of time?

By starting small and building good spiritual habits now, you’ll have the strength you need to face any problems that may come your way.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you develop those spiritual habits so you can rely on Him when you face problems.

I’m All In!

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Have you ever been the recipient of unfair criticism? Ever been the one to give it? Not all criticism is constructive, and if we’re not careful, a critical spirit can make us miss out on a lot of good around us.

1. Read

2 Samuel 6:15-16 [NLT] “So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. But as the Ark of the LORD entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she was filled with contempt for him.”

When you become a spectator, you’re a lot more prone to criticize those who serve God with gusto. David’s dancing probably would’ve looked a lot different if Michal had been in the crowd.

  • In church, who would you identify with more – the one doing or the one watching?
  • What are some expressions of worship that seem goofy or over-the-top to you? What motives do you think are behind those actions? 
  • What are some other possible motives for them?

2. Challenge

2 Samuel 6:23 [NLT] “So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life.”

Michal witnessed a season of unparalleled blessing, as God’s presence came to her home town – yet, she missed out on it by standing back and criticizing. Don’t suffer the same fate! Get engaged, and give people the benefit of the doubt – there are a lot of great ways to express praise and thanks to God.

  • What’s your favorite way to express your heart to God? How might that look to someone who was completely unfamiliar with Christianity?
  • Sometimes people are in the wrong, and a challenge to change is just what they need. How is that different from Michal’s experience?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to express your heart to God in whatever way comes to your mind. Go all in! He deserves it.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Do The Right Thing!”

1. Power Verse

1 Peter 1:15 “…be holy in all you do.”

What’s Up: “Even If I’m All Alone In The Fight, I’m Gonna Choose To Do What’s Right!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel and his friends about remaining faithful to God no matter what!

2. Activity

Read the following scenarios and let your children answer the questions:

A kid in your class has somehow managed to get a copy of the answers to a major math test you’re having later in the week and will give a copy to anyone who wants one. Most of your friends took a copy, but you can’t decide whether to take one.

  • What are some short-term consequences of taking one? (You’ll pass the test, your friends will accept you, you won’t have to study.)
  • What are some possible long-termconsequences? (Your teacher may find outand fail you, you’ll feel guilty, you may not learn what you need to know for future tests.)

Your friends have started calling people names that you’re pretty sure your parents wouldn’t approve of.

  • What are short-term consequences if you start using the word, too?(You’ll feel like you’re part of the group, no one will tease you for not using the word, you’ll feel cool.)
  • What are some possible long-term consequences? (Your parents will find out and punish you, you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, you may start using other words you shouldn’t.)

3. Discuss

It’s normal to feel tempted to do what everyone else is doing even when you know it’s wrong. That’s why it’s important to think about the consequences of our actions before we do them.

4. Prayer Focus

Ask God to give your children strength to fight temptation and to help them see the consequences of their actions.

Jonah: Failing God

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Have you ever blown it big time? Ever felt like you were a total failure to God and to yourself? No matter how badly you messed up, Jonah probably has you beaten in the “failed God” category. And yet, the moment he had a change of heart, God put him right back to work.

1. Read

Jonah 1:17 [NLT] “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah.”

Jonah didn’t want to obey God’s instruction to preach to Nineveh. He ran, trying to sail to the opposite end of the world. Instead, he found himself swallowed by a fish. Make no mistake – you can’t outrun God’s call on your life… or His discipline.

  • Have you ever felt God lead you to do something that intimidated you?
  • Ever promised to do something for Him, but then backed out when things got difficult? How did those situations turn out?
  • Have you ever felt like you were in spiritual “time-out” with God – like He was distant? 
  • Whose decisions put you there? What had to change in order for you to feel connected again?

 

2. Challenge

Jonah 1:17-2:1 [NLT]   “Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.”

It took Jonah 3 days, but he finally made the decision to change and submit to God’s plan. How did God respond? He gave him the exact same command and put him back to work.

  • Think of a pastor or church leader who’s had a moral failure. Did the talent and spiritual gifts God planted in that person change when they sinned? Did His mission for them change?
  • Is it God who has a hard time restoring people from sin, or is it people?
  • What are some things God has called you to do or be? Have you ever failed to live up to them?
  • Did God fire you, or does He want you to get back to work like Jonah?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes and talk to God (thankfully, not from inside a fish!) Thank Him for being patient with you when you’ve made sinful choices and fallen short of His plans for your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you put the past behind you and get back to work living for Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: What’s Your Name?”

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 62:2 “And the Lord will give you a new name.”

What’s Up: “God’s Gonna Give Me A Brand New Name!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Spy Kids”.  In this series, we’ll learn from the story of Daniel and his friends about remaining faithful to God no matter what!

2. Activity

Tell your children to imagine they’ve moved to Germany for the rest of their lives. Give each of them a German name such as Gerda, Franziska, Ingeborg, or Sigrid for girls or Gustav, Engelbert, Helmar, or Volkmar for boys. Call them by that name for the rest of the devotion. Then talk about the changes you’d have to make if you moved to Germany.

3. Read & Discuss

  • How hard do you think it would be to learn a new language?
  • Do you think you would like learning new customs?
  • Do you think you would miss your American name and the American way you do things?
  • Would you eventually forget what it was like to live in America?

Read: Daniel 1 

Daniel Is Trained in Babylon

It was the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. His armies surrounded the city and attacked it. The Lord handed Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, over to him. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the objects from God’s temple. He carried them off to the temple of his god in Babylon. He put them among the treasures of his god.

The king gave Ashpenaz an order. Ashpenaz was the chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s court officials. The king told him to bring him some of the Israelites. The king wanted them to serve him in his court. He wanted nobles and men from the royal family. He was looking for young men who were healthy and handsome. They had to be able to learn anything. They had to be well educated. They had to have the ability to understand new things quickly and easily. The king wanted men who could serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was supposed to teach them the Babylonian language and writings. The king had his servants give them food and wine from his own table. They received a certain amount every day. The young men had to be trained for three years. After that, they could begin to serve the king.

Some of the men chosen were from Judah. Their names were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar. He gave Hananiah the name Shadrach. He gave Mishael the name Meshach. And he gave Azariah the name Abednego.

Daniel decided not to make himself “unclean” by eating the king’s food and drinking his wine. So he asked the chief official for a favor. He wanted permission not to make himself “unclean” with the king’s food and wine. God had caused the official to be kind and friendly to Daniel. 10 But the official refused to do what Daniel asked for. He said, “I’m afraid of the king. He is my master. He has decided what you and your three friends must eat and drink. Other young men are the same age as you. Why should he see you looking worse than them? When he sees how you look, he might kill me.”

11 So Daniel spoke to one of the guards. The chief official had appointed him over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 12 Daniel said to him, “Please test us for ten days. Give us nothing but vegetables to eat. And give us only water to drink. 13 Then compare us with the young men who eat the king’s food. See how we look. After that, do what you want to.” 14 So the guard agreed. He tested them for ten days.

15 After the ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthy and well fed. In fact, they looked better than any of the young men who ate the king’s food. 16 So the guard didn’t require them to eat the king’s special food. He didn’t require them to drink the king’s wine either. He gave them vegetables instead.

17 God gave knowledge and understanding to these four young men. So they understood all kinds of writings and subjects. And Daniel could understand all kinds of visions and dreams.

18 The three years the king had set for their training ended. So the chief official brought them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them. He didn’t find anyone equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they began to serve the king. 20 He asked them for advice in matters that required wisdom and understanding. The king always found their answers to be the best. Other men in his kingdom claimed to get knowledge by using magic. But the answers of Daniel and his friends were ten times better than theirs.

21 Daniel served in Babylon until the first year Cyrus ruled over the land of Babylon. Cyrus was king of Persia.

God has a plan for our lives, but Satan wants to destroy that plan. He does that by tempting us to sin and do things God doesn’t want us to do. Satan hopes that we’ll eventually forget what it’s like to follow God and instead learn to enjoy our sins. What he doesn’t tell us is that eventually we have to pay a huge price for those sins—our relationships with each other and ultimately our relationship with God will be destroyed.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together, asking God to help you resist temptation so you can always be the person God created you to be.

Great Big U- Part 2

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Family Devotional Adult 10-8-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-8-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Through the Holy Spirit, God wants to use believers to get engaged in serving and make up the body of Christ – the Church. Often times, though, we feel like our lack of skills, qualifications or training leaves us without anything to offer. The truth is, God is looking for people just like you to accomplish His will on the earth.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 [ESV] “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 

Q. Think of someone in today’s world who has done, or is doing, big things for God. How qualified do they seem to you? How skilled? Does that intimidate you or encourage you?

Q. Now, imagine that same person when the Lord first called them to serve. How qualified or prepared do you think they felt at the time? Does that change how you feel about your own readiness to serve God?

3. Discussion

Judges 6:12-16 [NLT] “Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.  The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!…Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’ ‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’ The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you.’”

Q. What is your family history and background? Believers or unbelievers? Casual Christians or ardent God-followers? Have you served God since childhood, or did you come to accept Him as an adult?

Q. How might God be able to use your past to equip you for His service? 

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for calling you to be part of the body of Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you engage in the Church to accomplish His will.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

“Gotta Stay Humble, Got To Pray, & God Will Heal Our Land Today!”

In our series, “Soul Food”, we continue to find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that humility is one of those ingredients.  Humility is essential for serving God and giving Him all the glory each day.  We learn from the example of King Nebuchadnezzar what can happen if we are prideful.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Daniel 4:24-37

24 “Your Majesty, here is what your dream means. The Most High God has given an order against you. 25 You will be driven away from people. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass just as an ox does. You will become wet with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He gives them to anyone he wants. 26 But he gave a command to leave the stump of the tree along with its roots. That means your kingdom will be given back to you. It will happen when you recognize that the God of heaven rules. 27 So, Your Majesty, I hope you will accept my advice. Stop being sinful. Do what is right. Give up your evil practices. Show kindness to those who are being treated badly. Then perhaps things will continue to go well with you.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Comes True

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 It took place twelve months later. He was walking on the roof of his palace in Babylon. 30 He said, “Isn’t this the great Babylon I have built as a place for my royal palace? I used my mighty power to build it. It shows how glorious my majesty is.”

31 He was still speaking when he heard a voice from heaven. It said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, here is what has been ordered concerning you. Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass just as an ox does. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He gives them to anyone he wants.”

33 What had been said about King Nebuchadnezzar came true at once. He was driven away from people. He ate grass just as an ox does. His body became wet with the dew of heaven. He stayed that way until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle. His nails became like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven. My mind became clear again. Then I praised the Most High God. I gave honor and glory to the God who lives forever.

His rule will last forever.
    His kingdom will never end.
35 He considers all the nations on earth
    to be nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven.
He does what he wants
    with the nations of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand.
    No one can say to him,
    “What have you done?”

36 My honor and glory were returned to me when my mind became clear again. The glory of my kingdom was given back to me. My advisers and nobles came to me. And I was put back on my throne. I became even greater than I had been before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give praise and honor and glory to the King of heaven. Everything he does is right. All his ways are fair. He is able to bring down those who live proudly.

Q. Whom did King Nebuchadnezzar think was the reason for all of his success?

Q.  What did Daniel say would happen to King Nebuchadnezzar if he continued to have pride?  How did he respond?

Q. What did God do to King Nebuchadnezzar as punishment for his pride?  Then what happened when the time passed?

3. Discussion

King Nebuchadnezzar was very prideful and took all of the credit and glory for himself, instead of giving God glory.  When God saw this, God removed King Nebuchadnezzar from his position as king of Babylon until he was humbled and began to give God all of the glory.  We learn from our Power Verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, that God says we must humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our sin.  If we do those things, He says He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.

Q. What are some ways you can become too prideful in your own life?

Q. What can you do to make sure you never allow pride to keep you from giving God all of the glory?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children would humble themselves before God, pray, seek Him whenever they face life’s many difficult situations, and always run from sin.

LifeTeam Roots Session 15

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Daniel in the Lions’ Den

DANIEL 6:1-28

What kind of character did Daniel have that made Darius want to trust him over the whole kingdom?

Daniel 6:3-4

Darius fell into the flattery of the administrators & satraps.  What does the Bible say about the words of the wicked?

Psalm 5:9

What was Daniel’s response upon learning about the decree?

Daniel 6:10

What should we do if faced with a hard decision as Daniel was?

Acts 5:29

How did Darius feel about Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den, even though Daniel had disobeyed the decree?

Daniel 6:14, 16, & 18

What two reasons does the Bible give as to why God saved Daniel from the lions?

Daniel 6:22-23

This was great for Daniel but remember it is unwise to draw conclusions from consequences.  Hebrews 11, the hall of faith chapter, names great men & women of faith.  Verses 1-35 describe the people of faith & their achievements & blessings.  Verses 36-40 describe others of great faith & yet they were persecuted & martyred.

What happened to those who lied & plotted against Daniel?

Daniel 6:24

How did Darius, considered the god of the land, glorify the one true living God?

Daniel 6:25-27

“True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances & consequences.  It is our total response to what God has revealed in His Word.”

Warren Wiersbe