Where the world comes to study the Bible

Week 2 Lesson: Obedient

A Precious Word from God

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine.

Daniel 1:8a (NET)

Obedience is somewhat of a four-letter word to many of us. We think back to the days of our childhood with unpleasant memories of being forced to obey our parents or our teachers. There is something within each of us that desires to be our own boss instead of submitting to someone else’s wishes.

A Precious Word from God

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine.

Daniel 1:8a (NET)

Obedience is somewhat of a four-letter word to many of us. We think back to the days of our childhood with unpleasant memories of being forced to obey our parents or our teachers. There is something within each of us that desires to be our own boss instead of submitting to someone else’s wishes.

As our heavenly parent, God doesn’t force us to obey him, but he teaches us that obedience is for our best. And he, as a perfect and all-knowing Father, discerns what that is!

The biblical concept of obedience could be defined as humble compliance to God’s commands. The Greek word involves listening or hearkening.1 As a mother, I can remember many instances when I told my children to do things, which they never did. Often, their excuse was that they didn’t hear me; obviously, they heard me talking but never really listened to what I had to say. True obedience means that we listen to God and then act on his words.

Day One Study

Before we get into the story of Daniel, we are going to observe Jesus’ obedience while he lived on earth and submitted to the Father.

Read Matthew 26:36-42.

1. What do you learn about obedience from Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Diamonds in the Word: Read the parallel accounts of this story in the other gospels.

2. Considering Jesus’ prayers this night before His crucifixion, how would you say that faith relates to obedience?

3. Compare these passages to what you see in Mt. 26 about Jesus. Write down any additional insights into His obedience:

    a. Hebrews 5:7-10

    b. Phil. 2:3-11

    c. Hebrews 12:1-2 (We looked at this last week on believing but consider more specifically how Jesus’ faith related to His obedience.)

4. Responding to God: Spend a few minutes quietly considering Jesus’ obedience on your behalf, even humbling Himself to die as a common criminal on a cross and all the abuse that entailed. You may want to read back through the verses in the previous question. Write down a prayer of thanks.

5. Sharing question: Share with your group how you felt as you considered what Jesus did for you.

Day Two Study

The story of Daniel begins at the end of the 7th century B.C. Because of the disobedience of the Israelites, God gave them over as captives to the Babylonians, whose ruler was King Nebuchadnezzar. He besieged Jerusalem, three times deporting people to Babylon. Daniel and his friends were part of the initial deportation in 605 B.C.

Read Daniel 1:1-7.

6. What descriptions are used for Daniel and the other teenage boys taken in this first captivity (Dan. 1:3-4)?

7. Put yourself in Daniel’s position. Imagine what that kind of situation might have entailed if you had been part of his group. What things would you have lost? What feelings may have you had generally, toward those in the palace, and toward God?

Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the three deportations to Babylon and about the nature of that kingdom.

8. Sharing question: Describe a time in your own life when you were placed in a difficult situation through no fault of your own. Describe your emotions. What were your feelings toward God?


9. God desires us to obey Him out of His love for us, because He wants what is best for us. In some circumstances that may be difficult to grasp, and so we choose not to obey. We all have areas of our lives where we desire to stay in control rather than following God’s lead. Sharing question: What biblical command is difficult for you because either you don’t grasp God’s reasons for it or because you don’t agree that it is best?

10. Responding to God: Talk to God about your lack of faith in his wisdom concerning that command. Confess it as sin and ask for the grace to trust Him enough to obey without always understanding.

Day Three Study

Review Daniel 1:5-7 and read Daniel 1:8-21.

11. Summarize the problem faced by Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1:5, 8).

In this situation it would have been easy for God’s people to compromise on God’s best. Apparently, the other boys taken captive did compromise. There is debate on why this food would defile Daniel. “Perhaps it had to do with violations of Mosaic Law with regard to unclean foods, or perhaps it had to do with such food having been offered to idols.”2 I am not sure that it matters; what is important is Daniel’s obedience to what he knew God wanted him to do.

12. How did Daniel appeal the order that he felt would cause him to disobey God (Dan. 1:8-16)? Write down any insights you have into his approach.

Diamonds in the Word: Read about a similar situation in Acts 3:1-4:20. Write down your thoughts about how Peter dealt with it. Summarize what you learn from both stories.

13. Sharing question: Have you ever chosen to compromise God’s standards in order to please someone else or to obey someone in authority? If so, share the story.

14. Responding to God: There are Christians around the world presently facing situations which involve great risk for disobeying the government or others, much as Daniel did. In the United States we are grateful that at the present time we are not in great jeopardy for political disobedience. But there may be other less risky costs to obeying God. Be silent before Him, asking for insight into what you may have to give up to truly live in obedience. Ask Him if there are areas of compromise in your life. Write a prayer asking for the grace to obey Him completely.

Day Four Study

We continue looking at Daniel as a model of obedience. Today we study a story from much later in his life. The Babylonians were eventually conquered in 539 B.C. by the Persians, when Daniel was about eighty-one years old. (Interestingly, Babylon is present-day Iraq and Persia is Iran. As we see here, these two countries have a long history of conflict.) This next story of Daniel’s obedience to God comes under Persian rule.

Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the Persian Empire of the 6th century B.C.

Read Daniel 6:1-15.

15. What did the other administrative officials do and why (Dan. 6:1:3-11)?

16. How did Daniel respond to the edict? Why? (Dan. 6:10)

17. What do Daniel’s actions tell you about his faith? Why?

18. Sharing question: Have you ever risked anything to obey what God has shown you to do? It may be a job, an opportunity, a friendship, money, time, etc. Share what it was and the outcome with your group.

19. Responding to God: Draw a picture of yourself praying at a window representing the risk God wants you to take to worship and obey Him. Write somewhere on the picture one risk that you are committing today to take for God.

Day Five Study

Review Daniel 6:1-15, and read Daniel 6:16-28.

20. Summarize how the story ended.

21. What do you learn about Darius and Daniel’s relationship from this story? What do you learn about God?

22. Compare what happened to Daniel when he obeyed to what happened to other people of God in Hebrews 11:36-40. What do you learn about God and obedience?

Diamonds in the Word: Read Stephen’s story in Acts. Although his story ends very differently from Daniel’s, what similarities do you see in the two men? What additional insights do you gain about God?

23. Sharing question: What is one specific thing that you can do to model your obedience after Daniel’s? To what one area of obedience is God calling you?

24. Copy the edict that King Darius wrote for all of his subjects (Dan. 6:25-27).

25. Responding to God: Spend time worshipping God based on this edict. Write down your thoughts.

This week we have two wonderful stories of women who obeyed the promptings of God’s Spirit, despite their great reluctance!

Jana’s Story

Last summer I received an e-mail from our mission pastor asking if I'd consider joining a team traveling to China to explore how our church might help with children's ministry efforts there. I have traveled a lot but had never considered visiting the Orient. To me, the culture and language were too different and it frightened me to even consider it. 

My first response was "No thank you". But in the next few days things kept coming up that made me think God was telling me to go—the biggest being a sermon that following Sunday on Jonah and how he ran away when God told him to go to Nineveh. The point of the sermon was that sometimes God asks us to do things that we don't initially want to do, but that we miss out on so many blessings when we say no.

After a lot of prayer I decided I would take the leap and go. I cannot tell you how much of a blessing this trip was. I met so many wonderful people and saw firsthand the amazing things God is doing in China. And I not only had the opportunity to bring back information on children's ministries, but I was able to connect with a missionary working with young women in China and was able to connect her to our Women's Minister's on-line Bible studies to use with her group. If I had not gone, those women might still be lacking materials to use, as Christian books and studies are almost impossible to get in China. After this experience, I will be much more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to do what God is asking me to do knowing He will work out the details and bring about wonderful things as a result. 

Virginia’s Story

In the past when I thought of the word “obedience”, I related it to simple things like children obeying parents. But parental discipline and instruction is simply the training ground for the rest of our lives lived in obedience to Christ. As we mature, the instruction from God’s word involves actions that are not so simple; such as following the rules in school, following protocol in the workplace and obeying the laws of the land.

Recently my husband was on a very difficult assignment that caused him to doubt his purpose in being there. It was not a situation that we would honestly say we were in agreement with at the time. He called me on a Friday and said he would be home late Saturday but had to return on Sunday. I told him that since it was such a long trip he should just stay there, but he said he felt he just needed to be in church on Sunday.

Sure enough, the message was just for us from I Peter 2:13-17 on obedience. The pastor talked about our responsibility to submit to government, even when we don’t necessarily agree as long as we ourselves are not going against God. (Acts 5:29)

For my husband, a weight was lifted. In addition, the Lord touched my heart with the conviction that I was to go with him on this assignment. And so for a month we were in the midst of extreme trauma and difficulty; not just for us, but for everyone involved. But we knew God sent us and the volunteers from our ministry into this unique battlefield to be emotional and spiritual caregivers in the middle of government employees, a secular environment, and victims of a false religion.

In the beginning we didn’t want to go and yet we were called to do so. It required sacrifice of time, emotion, resources and energy. But it became clear that God had us there for a purpose. He used this small army of volunteers to diffuse many potentially volatile situations. He used us to give comfort to hundreds who were traumatized.

On the last week there, we were asked by a government official if we could conduct a Sunday morning church service for the staff. God put us in the right place at the right time to minister in a secular setting.

God brought my husband home that first weekend because He had a message for us both. As we obeyed His call, He used His message time and time again as we shared it with other volunteers. God’s word says, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…” I Peter 2:13-17

Our job was to go and to obey. God then provided the opportunity for ministry in a most difficult situation. The result of obedience was the safety of many people. God extended His love and comfort through His servants, His presence was known; but most important, the impact on government officials from the response of God’s people.

Did we agree with everything that occurred? Probably not, but our job was not to agree or disagree. Our role was follow God’s leading in this situation and to do what Jesus would do in the midst of it. God called, we obeyed; God directed, we followed and lives were impacted for Christ.

The impact of obedience in the situation will be more far reaching than we could have ever anticipated as we have now been asked to be the official emotional and spiritual caregivers in future traumatic events in Texas. God has paved the way in advance for His presence through His people to be in the midst of state responses to disaster.

Please know that this is not a commercial for our organization. I have intentionally omitted the names because this story is not about us; it is about God’s invitation to serve His purpose. He gave us the opportunity to obey and be used by Him in amazing ways. What a privilege to serve our Lord. To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Virginia Grounds

©June, 2008

Growing in Godliness for Moms - Obedient

Peer pressure is a big topic of discussion among moms. We do not want our children to be influenced negatively by others. We want them to think for themselves. We want them to be obedient and to do what is right. However, I have noticed that even moms are not immune to peer pressure. Sometimes we find it difficult to think for ourselves and we are afraid to be different.

Just as we want our children to be obedient and to do what is right, God wants us as moms to be obedient to Him. We may think that this means going to church regularly, being involved in religious activities, or going through certain religious rituals. However, we need to be obedient to God in our daily activities as well. Am I honest in my interactions with my husband? Am I looking to my husband for leadership and counsel or am I working independently of him, perhaps even in opposition to what I know he wants? Am I as a mother able to say “no” when an activity or a movie or some other event is not a wise choice for my child or for my family? Am I able to stand alone when other Christian mothers are permitting their children to do things that are not wise choices? I cannot expect my children to be obedient to God and to stand alone if I am not setting an example of obedience.

Daniel never hesitated to do what was right. In fact, when the commissioners and satraps tried to find something of which to accuse Daniel, they were unable to find any negligence, corruption, or other grounds for accusation. The only way they could trap him was to make his obedience to God illegal. In our day, there are scandals reported daily about people in government, in business, and in churches. Daniel could only be accused of doing what was right!

It is difficult to say “no” when others are saying “yes,” but God will reward our willingness to obey Him rather than to follow others. Are you willing to do what is right for yourself, for your children, and for your family? Are you willing to be obedient to God when your friends and other Christians are compromising in their obedience? Are you willing to teach your children that God rewards obedience and that pleasing Him is more important than pleasing people? Commit yourself to doing what is right and ask the Lord to help you do it graciously as you follow Him.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of people becomes a snare,

but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.

Action Step: Pray for wisdom and discernment as you make decisions regarding what your children are permitted to do and not to do. Ask God for like-minded Christian friends who will set a high standard for themselves and for their children. Pray for your children and their friends to be obedient and to have a desire to please God. Write out your requests to the Lord below.

1 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #5219: obedience: hupakouo- conformity to a command or authority

2 Note on Daniel 1:8 in NET Bible

Related Topics: Spiritual Life, Discipleship, Character Study, Curriculum