DANGEROUS PEOPLE Week 1: Daniel Stand Up Against Peer Pressure 1. LEADER PREPARATION

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1 This includes: 1. Leader Preparation 2. Lesson Guide DANGEROUS PEOPLE Week 1: Daniel Stand Up Against Peer Pressure 1. LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW It s often easy to follow the crowd even when we re walking a path we know it is not good for us. We live in a world that tells us it is OK to indulge in anything and everything we want. Living differently can bring ridicule or criticism from people around us. Being different is uncomfortable. This lesson examines truths we can learn from the life of Daniel, who demonstrated why following God s way was the best option even when the people around him disagreed. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1. WHAT: God calls us to live lives defined by wise choices and right patterns of living. 2. WHY: When we choose to do the right thing, God reveals his power and gives us a life better than we could imagine. 3. HOW: Students will be encouraged to take steps of faith and do the right thing even during moments when they might face rejection or isolation or other forms of persecution. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE Daniel 1:3-21 SECONDARY SCRIPTURES Philippians 3:20 and 1 Peter 2:11-12 TEACHING PREP The short overview below is designed to help you prepare for your lesson. While you may not want to convey this information word-for-word with your teenagers, you ll definitely want to refer to it as you lead your lesson. Read Daniel 1:3-21. In 606 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Jerusalem. He killed the established leaders and transported the young potential leaders to his country. They were taught about the government, culture, language, and literature of Babylon basically, trained to serve in their captive land. Daniel and the other Israelites learned God s ways when they were young, so their commitment needed to remain firm in a foreign land filled with people who didn t care about God or his commands. As these young Israelites grew older, it became more difficult to honor God. They constantly faced the decision of choosing God s way or the culture s way. If they pleased people, they would be promoted and gain respect. If they served God, they faced ridicule, imprisonment, or even death. In the midst of these hard circumstances, Daniel was able to show what it looks like to respect differences while still following the commandments of God. Here in Daniel 1, he and

2 three of his friends asked if they could eat a diet of vegetables and water instead of the food and wine brought from the king s table. They were willing to face punishment if their experiment failed, but their plan succeeded. At the end of 10 days, these four guys looked healthier than all the young people who followed the king s diet showing that God s way was clearly the better way. God rewarded Daniel and his friends with special abilities not because of their diet, but because of their heart and commitment to him. Daniel went on to work for royalty for decades. Similarly, God does not bless us because of any religious stuff we do. He blesses us because of our obedience and willingness to honor him and serve others. THE BEFORE & AFTER [optional] Text Message Questions We ve provided a couple of different text message questions to send out to your students prior to your meeting. Feel free to use one or both of the questions below. As with the rest of the curriculum, edit these questions to fit the needs of your ministry. Is peer pressure a big issue for you and your friends, or do you think adults place too much emphasis on it? Come to small group tonight to talk about it. Have you taken a stand and done the right thing this week? Let s dig deeper tonight at small group. Parent We ve provided you with an below that you can send to your parents following the lesson. Our hope is to encourage parents to continue the conversation at home. Feel free to edit and customize the to fit your ministry needs. Dear parents, This week, our small groups launched a new three-week series on the topic of Dangerous People. Each lesson focuses on a biblical character who did the right thing despite the risk of alienation, death, or rejection. We talked this week about Daniel, using Daniel 1 as our primary passage of Scripture. Daniel and three friends chose in this chapter to do the right thing. They were captives in Babylon, part of a group of young potential Israelite leaders who were taught about the government, culture, language and literature of Babylon basically, trained to serve in their captive land. When told to follow the king s rich diet, they chose to go a different way. At the end of 10 days, these four guys looked healthier than all the young people who followed the king s diet showing that God s way was clearly the better way. We encouraged our students to recognize how doing the right thing allows God to use us, increases our trust in God, and allows others to see God. This week, I d encourage you to take a few minutes to talk with your teenager about our lesson. Here are some questions you might want to use: Think about the last time you did the right thing. Why did you choose to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing? How can doing the right thing increase your trust in God even if there are consequences like friends rejecting you or making fun of you?

3 How can your decision to do the right thing point other people to God? I regularly pray for you and your family, and I trust that this week is a great one for you!

4 DANGEROUS PEOPLE Week 1: Daniel Stand Up Against Peer Pressure 2. LESSON GUIDE GETTING THINGS STARTED [optional] Four days before your meeting, send texts or s asking your students to give up drinking anything other than water until your small group meets; they can still eat their regular diet of food. Tell them to keep a log of how this change worked out for them each day. (You then might want to provide some juice or soda at the end of this lesson as a way to honor their commitment and dedication over the four previous days.) Welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, and then Was it hard to drink only water each day? Why or why not? Did you feel like you were making a sacrifice or a wise decision? Explain. Did anyone notice that you weren t drinking any milk or juice or soda or anything besides water? If so, how did they react? If not, did that surprise you? How might your experience have been different if people around you had made fun of you for your decision? Is this something you may want to continue to do? Why or why not? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Today we re going to look at a guy in the Bible who made a similar decision to the one you ve made the past few days. Daniel and three friends willingly chose to eat and drink differently from the culture that surrounded him. At the end of this experiment, everyone noticed that he and his friends looked healthier than people who followed the culture s diet. Following God s path opens the door to great things in life. If you came up with an opening activity, movie clip, or game that worked well with your group, and you d like to share it with other youth workers, please us at TEACHING POINTS The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen here are (1) Doing what s right allows God to use you, (2) Doing what s right increases your trust in God, and (3) Doing what s right allows others to see God. Remember: All throughout these lessons, it s up to you to choose (1) how many questions you use, and (2) the wording of the main points keep ours, or change the wording to make it clearer for your audience. Read Daniel 1:3-21 together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Doing what s right isn t always easy, but it s a way of honoring God with our lives. Let s spend a few minutes looking at three reasons to do what s right.

5 1. Doing what s right allows God to use you Think about the last time you did the right thing. Why did you choose to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing? When have you stood up for what you believed was right, even though the people around you didn t agree with your belief? Tell us about that situation and what you learned from it. Here in Daniel 1, why did Daniel and his friends not want the food and wine that the king had provided? [NOTE: Verse 9 holds part of the answer; it was unacceptable because of their Jewish traditions and teachings, but Daniel and his friends also chose food and drink that was healthier than what the king offered.] Daniel had been taken away from his family and many of his friends. What does it show you about his character and his faith that he was still willing to stand up for his beliefs? Verse 17 says God gave Daniel and his friends special gifts and abilities. Why do you think God gave them these abilities? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Standing up for what is right can be scary, but when you do this, you are telling God that you want to be used by him. God responds to our obedience and willingness by using us to make a difference in other people s lives. Your life may impact the lives of your friends and family members, or you may impact an entire nation, as Daniel and his friends lives did. 2. Doing what s right increases your trust in God How risky was Daniel s proposal? How much trust in God did it require? When you take a stand and do what s right, what are depending on God to do? When you see God do something that surprises you or goes beyond what you thought could happen, what does that reveal about God? How can doing the right thing increase your trust in God even if there are consequences like friends rejecting you or making fun of you? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: God is powerful and all knowing. God is the creator of the universe and can do anything. When we stand up and do what is right, we are saying that we are placing our trust in God and nothing or no one else. That takes major faith, but God will not let you down. Things may not always go exactly how you planned, but you will be able to see God at work, and your trust in God will grow. 3. Doing what s right allows others to see God Look at verse 20. Why is it significant that the king was particularly drawn to Daniel and his friends and turned to these guys for wisdom and advice? How can your decision to do the right thing point other people to God? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Although doing the right thing isn t always popular, people notice and will eventually see the good that you re doing our hope and prayer is that ultimately they will recognize that we re doing this because of our relationship with God. Isn t that

6 amazing? Just by doing what is right, even those who mock you or say you are in the wrong can eventually give honor to God. ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION [optional] Is peer pressure a big issue for you and your friends, or do you think adults place too much emphasis on it? Read Philippians 3:20. When we decide to follow Jesus, we become citizens of God s kingdom. Does that mean we don t have to listen to the authorities here on earth? Why or why not? Being citizens of a country means you have certain rights. What rights do you believe you have as a citizen in the kingdom of God? Read 1 Peter 2: It says we are temporary residents and foreigners in this world. What does that mean? What world do we as Christ-followers belong to? What do you have to lose at school by standing up for something that is right, but unpopular? Is that worth it to you? Why or why not? APPLICATION Before we got together this week, I had asked you to only drink water and no other beverages for a few days. For most of you, this probably wasn t a huge change or sacrifice or if it was, you at least knew it was just a temporary decision! What is a more significant way this coming week that you could do what s right at school, at home, or with friends? Think of the times you struggle to do what s right. Pray and ask God to help you have a new perspective about it this week. How can we help each other with this? What is one way that our whole group can encourage each other daily to follow God this week? Ask students to find a partner for this question. Think about some things that people may be pressuring you to do that you know would displease God. Tell your partner how you will stand up to that pressure. Then pray together, asking for courage to do what s right. SUMMARY End your small group lesson here. Provide your teenagers with a quick summary or takehome challenge based on (1) the content of this lesson, (2) the dialogue that took place during the lesson, (3) your understanding of the issues and struggles your teenagers are facing, and (4) the big picture of your youth ministry and what your leadership team wants accomplished with the teaching and discussion time.

7 FOR KEEPS [MEMORY VERSE] Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the verse below. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world (1 Peter 2:12).

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