40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 40 – Passion Week

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)

 

Today we conclude our 40 days of Discipline journey, and as has been our practice, Saturday is reserved for review.

This year we focused on the theme: Our Identity.  We discovered that the Disciplines are a vital resource in discovering and living out our God prescribed identity.  As we conclude Passion Week though, the most important lesson about our identity is this: Our real identity is to be found in Jesus.  He is the source and sustainer of our “new” identity.   As we celebrated His death yesterday and look forward to the celebration of His resurrection, we are reminded of the following:

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

My prayer for all of you is that as you consider your identity this verse will be in full operation in your lives.

I hope that over the course of our Lenten journey you have increased your commitment to practicing the Disciplines in service of being more like our lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

 

Something to think about:

The objective of the 40 Days of Discipline journey is spiritual growth.  What will you take away from this year’s journey to aid your growth in Christ?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 39 – Passion Week

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.  47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 4 8 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.  49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke 23:44 – 49)

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

 

We arrive at a pivotal moment in the Christian calendar – Good Friday.  Leading up to His death, Jesus was betrayed and denied by those closest to Him. He was falsely accused and improperly convicted. He was physically abused in horrendous fashion and mocked and ridiculed without justification. The catalog of atrocities is horrific but the truth is all that has been said so far could possibly be said of other human beings.

With Jesus though, there are unique and vital distinctions. He alone bore the sins of the entire world and lived and died as the only perfect human being.  In Christ, God became flesh and suffered and died because He loves us.  For “by His wounds we are healed” – Hallelujah!

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

What is your declaration of praise as you reflect on the price Jesus paid for your salvation?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 38 – Passion Week

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”  “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.  10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”  13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.  14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.  15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:7 – 15)

 

Over the last three days of Passion Week we have observed Jesus being passionate about his purpose.  This was clearly demonstrated in His condemnation of those who distorted God’s plans and His commendation of those aligned with God’s plans.  Then we saw Jesus’ passion for fellowship with His Father.  Today we observe His passion for  fellowship with His disciples.

There are so many lessons to be learned from the last Passover Jesus shared with His disciples but today we will focus on his commitment to fellowship.  In the passage above, note the preparations Jesus facilitated for the time of fellowship with His disciples  (“large room upstairs, all furnished”).  Next, note His statement of eagerness for the event (“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”).

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

What lessons do you take from Jesus’ commitment to fellowship even as he headed to the cross?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 37 – Passion Week

 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.  “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”.  (Mark 14:1 – 2)

37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. (Luke 21:37 – 38)

 

Today we focus on an important practice of Jesus.

The passages above both relate to Passion Week.  What is interesting is that on the one hand danger and conspiracy were brewing (Mark 14:1 – 2), but on the other hand Jesus would get away to the Mount of Olives daily (Luke 21:37 – 38).  While the passage in Luke doesn’t say what Jesus would do on the Mount of Olives, based on other passages we know he spent time fellowshipping with his Father.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

What lessons do you take from Jesus’ practice of getting away even as he headed to the cross?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 36 – Passion Week

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.  (Mark 12:32 – 34)

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41 – 44)

 

During Passion Week, the tension between Jesus and his detractors increased dramatically.  Jesus was more vocal about His identity and purpose, and the religious establishment intensified their opposition.  While Jesus was very critical of the teachers of the law in Mark 12, He commended two people: 1) a teacher of the law, and 2) a poor widow.  It is worth reflecting on what endeared these two individuals to Jesus.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

With the specter of the cross looming, Jesus takes the time for commendations. What was so special about the commended teacher of the law and the poor widow?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 35 – Passion Week

 12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.  15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.  17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”  (Mark 11:12 – 17))

 

Today we enter the final week of our journey, Passion Week or Holy Week.  We now focus more exclusively on the activities of Jesus leading up to His crucifixion.  As Christians, our identity should be found in Christ so observing our perfect model should be a deep desire for all of us.

We begin with activities on the day after Palm Sunday.  Mark 11:12 tells us that “The next day” (i.e., the day after the Triumphant Entry), Jesus expressed dissatisfaction with a tree and some merchants.  Interestingly both the tree and the merchants in the temple were not fulfilling the purpose Jesus expected.  The tree bore no fig and the merchants violated God’s house of prayer.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

Jesus displayed a very strong reaction to the merchants who distorted God’s purpose.  How do you ensure that you are living God’s purpose?