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Week Three: Strategic Disappointment Daniel 3 Spend FIFTEEN - Day One 1. One of Abraham Lincoln’s most notable quotes is, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Describe a time when you tried and failed to please “all of the people.”
2. Trying to “please all of the people all of the time” is exhausting. If we are going to have room to breathe in our lives, we are going to have to get comfortable with regularly disappointing “some of the people.” a. How do you schedule your time? b. What’s your method for prioritizing your time? c. When prioritizing your time, how do you determine whom to disappoint? 3. Daniel’s Hebrew friends found themselves in this exact position, they had to choose whom to disappoint. Read Daniel 3:1-12. a. What did King Nebuchadnezzar command the people to do? b. How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego respond to the king’s command? c. Who informed the king of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s rebellion? (v. 8)? 4. Look back at a few verses we read in week two, Daniel 2:10-12 and Daniel 2:24. a. Why did the king order all of the wise people to be executed? b. Who convinced the king not to execute all of the wise people? 5. Why might the astrologers have turned in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, even though they were partly responsible for the survival of the wise people?
6. Think about the people in your life that you try to please. Are you wasting time and energy on people for the wrong reasons? Explain your answer.
7. If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thought they could make friends out of enemies by trying to please them, they were woefully mistaken. Whether it was devotion to the king or jealousy over their loss of power and position, the astrologers turned on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as soon as they got the opportunity. As you conclude your FIFTEEN, conclude with prayer, asking God to help you to clearly see your motives when you are trying to please people.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day Two 8. In his book, When Work & Family Collide, Andy Stanley says this about the work and family balance, “Your problem is not discipline. Your problem is not organization. Your problem is not that you have yet to stumble onto the perfect schedule. And your problem is not that the folks at home demand too much of your time. The problem is this: there’s not enough time to get everything done that you’re convinced—or others have convinced you—needs to get done. As a result, someone or something isn’t going to get what he wants from you…what she needs from you…what he deserves from you…certainly not what she expects from you.” How does this change your perspective on life balance?
9. According to Stanley, our knee-jerk reaction to allocating our time usually involves dealing with the squeakiest wheel. We run around putting out fires instead of planning in advance, whom we are going to disappoint. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced a real-life fire. Read Daniel 3:13-18. a. What did the king order for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? b. What was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s response to the king? 10. The three men had two choices: anger the king or God. Imagine you are in their position, how would you choose between the immediate problem of avoiding the fire and the long-term problem of rejecting God? Explain your answer.
11. Disappointing the king had deadly consequences for the trio. Thankfully, the consequences are not usually as severe for us. Read Luke 16:14-15.What is the danger in making our decisions based upon what other people think?
12. Read Proverbs 29:25. What does this verse say is always our safest choice?
13. If disappointing the right people is key for us to have room to breathe in our lives, then trusting in God is the key to figuring out which people we need to prioritize. Conclude your FIFTEEN in prayer, asking God to help you use His priorities when deciding whom to disappoint.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day Three 14. Like the work and family balance Stanley addressed in his book, life comes down to whom we are willing to disappoint. It seems the astrologers and the king had very short memories for what Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s God was capable of doing. But, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego remembered exactly who helped Daniel interpret the king’s dream, which ultimately resulted in their lives being spared. Describe a time when God’s faithfulness was evident in your life.
15. How did it shape your attitude toward trusting Him going forward?
16. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew they could trust God, after all if he’d done it once, He could do it again. Read Daniel 3:16-18. Write in your own words what the trio said to the king.
17. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego believed God was capable of rescuing them from a fiery furnace. But their faith did not rely on being certain that He would! Read the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1:20-26. How does Paul explain the difference between an earthly solution and a heavenly one?
18. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s faith in God went way beyond their circumstances. As you finish your FIFTEEN, ask God to grant you enough faith to trust Him so you can honestly say you will serve Him whether He delivers you from your earthly circumstances or not.
Spend FIFTEEN – Day Four 19. Sometimes we refuse to address a problem in our lives until someone else forces the issue. For instance, if our home life bleeds too much into our work life, we may receive a mediocre review from our boss. But for many of us it’s the other way around, our work or other outside interest interferes with our home life. What types of things happen at home that make you realize you have not been focusing enough time and attention there?
20. What types of things happen at home when you have a good balance between work (or hobbies) and family?
21. For Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, it was obvious they disappointed the king, he was furious. Read Daniel 3:19-30. a. What did the king order done to the furnace? b. Who appeared in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? c. How did the king address Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when he ordered them out of the furnace? 22. God’s protection over Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego not only demonstrated His power and might, it demonstrated how He feels about His people. a. What do God’s actions say about the way He feels about those who trust Him? b. How does the time and attention we spend with our loved ones demonstrate (to others and to them) how we feel about them? 23. If you feel as though you have been disappointing the wrong people, conclude your FIFTEEN by confessing this to God. Then, finish your prayer by asking God to help you keep your focus on those you love most.
Spend FIFTEEN - Day Five 24. It is very hard for us to disappoint people, but even Jesus was not immune to disappointing people. Read Luke 19:1-10. a. To what did the people object? b. Whose heart was changed because of Jesus’ actions?
25. Read Daniel 3:28-29. What happened to the faith of the king because Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to disappoint the king instead of God?
26. Referring back to Luke 19, one could make a case that as a sinner, Zacchaeus did not deserve Jesus’ time and attention. But, the end result was Zacchaeus’ heart was changed. How might the end result have been different if Jesus had done as the people wanted and avoided Zacchaeus?
27. In the case of King Nebuchadnezzar, how might the result have been different if Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had followed the king’s command and worshipped the idol?
28. Sometimes, when we strategically disappoint people, we can ultimately end up with better results all around! Take the case of a husband and father that chooses not to take a higher level position in his company in order to maintain a better home and family balance. How might choosing more time with his family benefit them even more than an increase in pay?
29. Describe other examples where strategic disappointment can create more room to breathe.
30.As you’ve been working through this study, who are some people you need to start disappointing a little more, and who are some that you need to stop disappointing quite so much? Be specific about what this might look like for each person.
31. Daniel’s friends had to make a tough choice on whom to disappoint. Thankfully, because their vision of their future was clear, they made the right decision and they escaped a horrible fate in the furnace. Close your final FIFTEEN this week by asking God to help you pursue your preferred reality, by helping you get comfortable with disappointing people, and making sure you’re choosing the RIGHT people to disappoint.