Date: September 24, 2023
The Point: Do the right thing in God’s strength.
Get Into the Study
After discussing the opening question, follow up with this question: While there are many things that we can point to that have made our life easier, are there changes or events happening today that cause you to worry about where our world is headed?
Share the following:
If you have concerns, you are not alone. In a survey recently released by Lifeway Research, a survey of one thousand protestant pastors revealed that almost seven in ten (69%) believe there is a growing sense of fear within their churches about the future of the nation and world. Additionally, more than three in five (63%) say their churches have an increasing dread specifically about the future of Christianity in the U.S. and around the world. While these numbers are slightly lower than previous surveys, a large majority of pastors see their congregations moving toward fear rather than away from it.
In response to the survey, Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California noted that the growing sense of fear among Christians “is probably because of the way things are in the world right now. There’s so much bad news, so many scary things happening.”
He continued by saying that the Bible reveals that as the return of Christ comes closer, “when we understand the teaching of the Bible on the end times, it should not fill us with fear but fill us with hope. In fact, the Bible refers to the return of Christ as ‘the blessed hope.’ Don’t be afraid. Jesus says, ‘Fear not. I am the living one, who was dead and is alive again.’ He’s telling us to not be afraid. Look up; your redemption is drawing near.”
Pastor Laurie reminds us that for a believer, this is not the end of the story. In the end, God wins. Our study today focuses on perhaps the most famous story in the book of Daniel. Daniel in the lion’s den is a lesson on doing “the right thing,” knowing depending on God’s strength is always enough, regardless of the circumstances. In the end, God wins.
Get Into the Study [Option for Adult Leader Guide]
In advance, play a video showing a cool, contemporary contraption. Then ask Question #1.
Study the Bible
Before discussing Question #4, share the following:
Last September, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church required the clergymen under his control to pray for Russian victory in Ukraine. Standing in front of the altar and dozens of his parishioners in one of Moscow’s churches, Rev. Ioann Koval decided to put peace above the patriarch’s orders. In the prayer he recited multiple times, the 45-year-old priest changed just one word, replacing “victory” with “peace.”
“With the word ‘victory’ the prayer acquired a propagandistic meaning, shaping…. what they should think about and how they should see these hostilities,” Koval said. “It went against my conscience. I couldn’t submit to this political pressure.”
As a result of his stance Koval was defrocked and lost his salary, housing, benefits, and most importantly his ministy to his flock. “I never questioned the choice I made,” Koval said. “I, my whole soul, my whole being opposed this war. It was impossible for me to support the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine with my prayer.”
Koval was eventually allowed to serve under the Eastern Orthodox church in Turkey, but other Russian clergy have not been as fortunate. Many have been censored, transferred, or defrocked for praying for peace or remaining silent.
These men are doing what they consider the right thing in spite of the opposition they face.
Lynn Riley is retired from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, where he served as a team member in the areas of evangelism and church health. He and his wife Cheryl are members of Rolling Hills Community Church in Nolensville, Tennessee.
- When in your life have you felt a strong pressure to conform?
- When has the final stretch been the most difficult?
- What is an area of life where you are anticipating difficulty?
- What change or innovation in your lifetime have you gladly embraced?
- How have you been impacted personally by recent shifts in our culture?
- How have cultural changes presented new challenges to practicing our faith?
- How does our culture pressure believers to change by abandoning Christian disciplines?
- What recent changes in our culture have negatively impacted the church?
- In what ways have you experienced opposition to your faith?
- What does it mean to honor God with our day-to-day lives?
- Where do you currently feel tension between what God wants and what our culture wants?
- How can practices or habits prepare us to stand firm in the face of opposition?
- What are the appropriate responses for believers when facing opposition for honoring God? What is not appropriate?
- When have you seen trials or tragedy actually benefit God’s kingdom?
- What are some opportunities we have to demonstrate our trust in God to the world?
- What are some practical ways believers can demonstrate their commitment to God so that it points others to Him?
- When has a believer’s commitment to God strengthened your resolve to honor God?
For Those in Your Group
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Click here for a 20-minute podcast for both the group member and the leader.