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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this message Rich shares with us principles to help us keep our bearings and preserve our values when facing “Sodom-like” situations. For example, when we talk about Family Mess, the family is not isolated in its own cocoon. Families are impacted by the larger culture. We may have great values, but our kids are exposed to peer- pressure; a materials-based culture, and a media, entertainment and marketing juggernaut that is sweeping over our kids and our family like a tidal wave. Such an environment, metaphorically, represents Sodom.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. Describe a time when your values or morals have been challenged. For example, have you ever worked in a place where people frequently did things that were contrary to your value system or faith? How did you cope with them?
2. How do you best impart values and morals to your circle of influence? Why is peer pressure so influential? How can we best equip the next generation not to compromise their values or morals when facing peer pressure or other forms of temptation?
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read Daniel 1: 3 – 5; 8 – 21:
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” 11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. 17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. 18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. 21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
• What type of men is the King of Babylon looking for among the Israelites (v. 3-4)? What is he going to do with them? (vv. 4-5)? Is this a good or bad thing?
• How does Daniel respond to this opportunity? (v.8) What does this communicate about Daniel’s values? Why would he think his body would be defiled? (Consider Hebrew dietary laws) Why do you think these values were important to him? How do you respond to pressures that are seen as potential rewards but go against God’s will for your life?
• How is God intervening in this situation? (v. 9) Can you think of a time when you sought the will of God when an unpopular decision was made beyond your control? What did God lead you to do and how did you respond?
• What did Daniel ask the ranking official permission to do? (vv. 11 – 14). Do you think this was a good compromise? Why or Why not? Describe a time when you had to challenge the status quo. Have there been times when a reward or bonus has factored into your choice to compromise? Briefly share.
• What were some of the results of Daniel choosing to follow God’s will? (vv. 15 – 21). What are some of the times in your life where you had to make a choice to follow God’s will? How do making seemingly small compromises have large affects in our life? How does Daniel’s choice inform us how to respond when facing compromising situations?
3. In his sermon, Rich shares that there are ways we can survive in Sodom” avoiding bad judgmentalism; stop believing in our own moral superiority; not to say everything we think; do something good for people, and go deeper in our relationship with God. Do you struggle with any of these issues? In your ministry time, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any of these areas (or others) you may need to work out in your own life. Take some time to share with others and pray for strength in these areas.
Please also encourage persons in your small group to participate in the following Family Mess Event:
Women’s Ministry is hosting: “The Truth About Human Trafficking Right In Our Own Backyard-Part II” – Saturday, October 9, 9:00am – 2:00pm in the Auditorium. At this event, Jeff Barrows, MD will also be doing a breakout session for men called, “Your Brain on Porn”. All other Family Mess Events can be found in The Mix or at www.vineyardcolumbus.org