Friday, July 25, 2014

Explore the Bible: Draw the Line

Radical Faith: "Draw the Line" is the focus this week as we begin our study of the book of Daniel. There is tremendous pressure put on followers of Christ to go along with something which we know to be wrong. Sadly, many believers seek to justify compromise in order to be better accepted. This was not the case with Daniel. He and his friends were able to boldly stand for their faith in a way that enabled them to be a witness to a pagan culture. As I studied for this session I ran across the following story that helps illustrate the challenges we face as we strive not to compromise our faith:
In the 1950s, a professor named Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments to measure the influence of peer pressure on an individual. In the experiments a group of college students was brought in and told that they were undergoing a perception exercise. After being shown a line, the students were asked to correctly match it to another line of the same length. All of the students except for one in each group had already been told what answer to give. 
The test was designed so that the correct answer would be obvious. The true subject of the experiment would be seated last in the group so that everyone else would answer first. After a few trial runs during which everyone gave the correct answer, the real experiment would begin. On some questions, all of the other students would deliberately give the same wrong answer. In many cases, the test subject would go along with the group—in fact 75% of the subjects gave at least one wrong answer during the tests. -- Paul Chappell, Daily in the Word Devotional
Helps for this Session:
  • I have provided PowerPoint slides that recreate the experiment previously described. There are instructions on how to use this in the LOOK UP portion of your study. In addition, the PowerPoint provides a set of discussion questions to be used with Daniel 1:8-10. You may print and use the slides as a handout if PowerPoint is not available.
  • I have provided you with several resources to help you with word pronunciations and  background of the book of Daniel.
  • Use caution as you discuss “visions and dreams” (1:17). Do not turn this lesson into a debate of whether dreams and visions can be interpreted today, but focus on the abilities that God gave Daniel at that time and the reason he gave Daniel those abilities—to gain favor in the eyes of the king. This ability certainly set Daniel apart from the other captives, contributing to the fact that the king thought that Daniel and his friends had no equal in the kingdom.
Outline Progression: I have basically revised the entire plan in order to better connect the outline points to the question: "How can I stay faithful to God when I’m influenced to compromise my devotion?"
  • First: We Should Protect our Faith from Compromise due to Circumstances or the Demands of Others. (Daniel 1:1-7)
  • Second: We Should Determine to Act Boldly. (Daniel 1:8-10)
  • Third: We Should Have a “Plan B.” (Daniel 1:12-15)
  • Four: God Will Enable Us to Witness in More Challenging Situations if we Don’t Compromise our Faith. (Daniel 1:17-19)
I pray this study will challenge you and your group to remain faithful to Christ in our fallen world.

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