READ: Daniel 1-2
THINK: The world is full of followers-people who tend to go with the flow and conform to the culture around them. Even those who think they're dancing to their own tune are typically swayed by their society as they simply follow the trends and take their cues from popular opinion. This is particularly common among youth, many who are self-conscious and simply looking to fit in. And yet most students want to make a positive difference in the world. But how can you make a real difference? It starts by daring to be different-not necessarily in an odd way-but in a bold and positively distinct way. Daniel is a great example of what God can do through a young person who is surrendered to God and determined to follow His ways rather than the world's ways.
RESPOND: What happened to Jerusalem, and to Daniel, at the beginning of the book (1:1-2)? (See 1:1 note.) What role did the Babylonians intend for Daniel and his friends (1:3-5)? (See 1:4 note.) Why were they given different names? (See 1:6 note.) How do you think being in Daniel's situation might have affected your faith in God? What do you think it means that "Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine" (v. 8), and why? (See 1:8 note.) How did God honor the young men for their devotion to Him (1:17-19)? (See 1:17 note.) How did Daniel's capabilities compare with the king's advisors (1:20)? (See 1:20 note.) How did the king test his advisors regarding his dream (2:5-9)? (See 2:5 note.) Why did Daniel ask for time before interpreting the dream (2:16-18)? (See 2:16 note.) How is Daniel's immediate response to God's answer an example for us (2:19-23)? (See 2:19-23 note.) Whom did Daniel credit for interpreting the dream (2:26-28)? How did Daniel's actions affect the king's view of God (2:47- 48)? How should Christians be different, and how can these differences influence people positively?
PRAY: Ask God for strength and discipline not to corrupt yourself with worldly ways. Praise and thank God for His timely help and insight. Pray that you'll have a positive, God-honoring influence on those around you.
ACT: What could God do through you if you dared to be different in a positive way? Don't diminish your influence by engaging in activities that may be common among your peers but questionable or inappropriate for Jesus' followers. Instead, dare to do things that give God opportunity to reveal His power and purpose through you.
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