- Men’s Ministry - Guys, we’re excited to let you know that our Men’s Ministry is kicking off their fall study tomorrow night at 7:00pm . We’re going to be doing Tim Keller’s study on “The Reason for God,” and would love to have you join us.
- Women’s Ministry - Ladies, we didn’t forget about you, this Wednesday, our Women’s Ministry is kicking off their fall study. We’re going to be doing Priscilla Shirer’s study on “Armor of God,” and would love to have you join us at either 10:00am or 7:00pm. It’s a 6 week study & childcare will be available at the 10:00am session for $15 per child (cost covers the entire 6-week study).
- Community Groups - This is WEEK # 1 of Community Groups...and we are so glad you have joined us in SERVING and GROWING. Be excited ... GOD is at work!
** Very Important : Please click on the link below for the week # 1 Leader video :
[vimeo 182770891 width="640" height="360"]
Main Text: Daniel 1:1-7, 17-20
Sermon Topic: (Not to be read or e-mailed to your group … this is for the leader’s review and recollection)
- The book of Daniel opens up with a description of how Jerusalem is conquered by Babylon. Many of the inhabitants are taken off to Babylon. They are now living in exile. It is hard to appreciate what a thorough paradigm shift this is for the people of Israel living in exile. Their whole faith and culture was built on a theocracy. It was a society ruled by God. Their religion and state were inseparable. Further their faith was tied to the physical temple in Jerusalem. No longer having access to make sacrifices or pilgrimages throughout the year changed the fundamentals of their worship practice. What did holiness look like for them now?
- It was even more complicated for a few of them. Daniel and some of his friends were among young nobles, that were brought into the King of Babylon’s palace. They were taught all of the literature and language of Babylon. That may sound pretty tame, but it wasn’t. They were trained to be the occult practices of the enchanters and magicians that taught the King.
- Even their names were changed to names that praised the names of the idols of Babylon. Imagine introducing yourself, and every time you are essentially uttering blasphemy. This was an unbelievably compromising situation.
- But the didn’t just retreat. The stayed in the place God had put them and did their absolute best to live holy before the Lord. But it wasn’t as neat and tidy as it once was living in Israel. The lines were not so easy to draw. There is no question, it was messy.
- The New Testament describes Christians as ones “living in exile.” That should change our expectations for what our lives are going to look like.
- This is especially true, when we consider the basic trajectory of the Christian. We are called to GO into the world. Jesus, God in the flesh, came into this messy world to save us. The idea of God becoming flesh is called the incarnation. That is the model we are supposed to live by. We will be incarnational. We are to go into the context bringing the Gospel to let it transform the culture. Being obedient to being the light in the darkness, will be messy.
- It is easier and less messy to retreat. Lines are easier to discern when we back out of the world. But that cannot be our default.
- In response to this opening chapter in Daniel we can change our thinking in two ways:
- Expect it to be messy. Don’t be confused when lines are not easy to discern. To go into the world and at the same time be uncompromisingly holy before the Lord is going to require the Holy Spirit and a lot of grace from God. It is going to be complicated.
- Don’t automatically retreat. Retreat is not the default mode of the Christian. GO is. There is no question, there are times we have to walk away from a relationship, an environment, a workplace, etc. But hopefully that is a last resort not the initial escape hatch. Carefully discern why God has brought you into this environment. And wait for Him to guide you on how to proceed.
SUGGESTED DISCUSSION QUESTIONS...
(Please feel free to modify questions to accommodate your specific group!)
HIGH/LOW: What was the high point of your week and the low point?
Please read: Daniel 1:1-7, 17-20
- What do you think the adjustment was like for Daniel going from life in Jerusalem to the palace in Babylon?
- Can someone recap the types of things Daniel was trained to do?
- What do you think the greatest challenge would have been for him spiritually?
- How is Christianity in our western society more like life in exile than life in Israel?
- If Christ has called His mathetes to go into the world, what should our expectation be regarding the messy situations we will find ourselves in?
- What is the messiest environment that you operate in, in your life? (i.e. your family, work, school, etc.)
- When was a time you have felt like Daniel operating in the pagan palace of Babylon?
- What is the difference between exposure and influence?
- How do we discern what is influencing us?
- What are some things that you are unnecessarily exposing yourself to, that you can reduce in your life?
- There are some messy jobs out there. It takes a strong work ethic and an equally strong stomach to do what no one else could handle. But sometimes what makes it so messy is not the work itself, but the spiritual environment. Maybe that’s you. You would say that it is just hard to be a Christian where you work. For others, it’s not just the workplace environment. For many, it’s hard to be a Christian in the family you’ve been placed in, or the school you go to. How do you navigate through all the stuff you’re not sure a Christian should be exposed to? What do you do about the elements of the workplace that you can’t endorse? When do you take a stand? And how? It’s MESSY and it’s not always easy to know how to draw the lines. Especially because retreat is not an option. We know Jesus has called us to go into the world and He told us it would not be easy. The good news is that we can learn from those who went before us. And Daniel is a great place to start...