Sunday, August 9, 2009

What One Thing is Strongest of All?

Today I started teaching a new study in our Life Group, a five week series titled "What One Thing is Strongest of All?" I haven't spoken about it before on this blog, mainly because I was involved in posting other things. This is a different study in that it comes from the Apocrypha, not from the Bible.

About a year ago (or maybe it was two) our pastor did a Wednesday night series on the canon of the Bible. During that he discussed the Apocrypha and explained how it is considered useful for instruction, not for doctrine. So I thought it would be good to do a lesson series on it.

Lynda and I read 1st Esdras (called 3rd Esdras for those of you with Roman Catholic Bibles) together, and in the midst of it was a story about three Jewish bodyguards of King Darius of Media-Persia. The king held a great banquet, then afterwards had insomnia. His bodyguards spent the time with him and suggested a contest. Each of them would write what he thought was the strongest thing of all, seal it, and put it under the king's pillow. The next morning, when the king woke, he would take the three sealed suggestions, call some other Persian judges, and read the statements. Whichever statement was considered the wisest, the bodyguard who wrote it would receive all kinds of good stuff from the king.

The king must have agreed to this (the text doesn't say so) for they did just that. The three bodyguards made their three statements and slipped them under the pillow. Actually, one of them cheated and made two suggestions. Not stated in the text but implied, somehow this must have helped the king's insomnia.

This week, I gave the class some general information on the Apocrypha, then read the start of the contest. I then had each member write on a slip of paper what they would write if they were in the position of the Jewish bodyguards. What one thing is strongest of all? We had a variety of answers, both serious and humorous. I then had each of the two tables take time to list three answers to the question, then we discussed it.

It seemed everyone enjoyed it. We had three visitors in attendance, family of one of our regular couples. I'm not sure what they thought about it. And, I'm not sure how well this study will be received by all. Hopefully they will see it as a good break in the routine.

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