40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 31 – Creation

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

 

Today we will focus on how the Discipline of Creation can support our efforts to minister to a world in need.  In my view, the world is increasingly oblivious to divine wonder.  In the general public, there is certainly still a sense of amazement in the areas of entertainment and technology; and nature has been getting a lot more focus because of climate related concerns about the environment.  However, the awe that should be evident from observing God’s power in creation is very hard to find.

We who often sing “How great thou art” have a responsibility to introduce the creator to His creation. As a starter, we should ensure that we take the time to observe God’s work in “awesome wonder”. The Bible clearly teaches that nature is one the vehicles through which God reveals himself.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

What do you consider to be best practices in seeing God in creation?

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 30 – Counsel

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

 

As we wrap up our consideration of the Discipline of Counsel this year and think about a world in need, I am confronted by a reality that I often try to avoid – my vulnerability.  In ministering to a world in need I know I am vulnerable without God, and a defence he has provided me with is the counsel of fellow believers.  Yet, I am much more prepared to accept my vulnerability in other aspects of my life.  Take Covid-19, for example.  Recently, I was surprised by my physical reaction to someone coughing close to me 😊, which betrayed my sense of vulnerability.

A posture of vulnerability will help us to accept that we all need help in ministering to the world.  At all times we should look to God for help and sometimes the help will come in the form of Christ-centered counsel.

Please prayerfully read the passages above and consider the question below.

 

Question

In the body of Christ, how can we further promote the mindset of giving and receiving advice in the matter of ministering to a world in need?

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 29 – Counsel

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)

Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers. (Proverbs 24:6)

 

This week we will complete our reviews of the three remaining Disciplines covered by our study: Counsel, Creation and Sabbath. We will examine how they relate to our theme: A World in Need.  We start today with the Discipline of Counsel.

A few days ago, one of our commentators made a very potent statement about the pervasiveness of individualism in society.  We have been socialized to glorify self-reliance.  To provide Christian help to a world in need though, we need more community behaviour and less lone wolf behaviour.  A key aspect of living in community is seeking and giving counsel.  For example, I have benefited tremendously from counsel many of you have posted on our blog over the last few weeks.  That should be no surprise though, because God wants us to benefit from community (e.g., we form one body – Romans 12:4 – 5).

Please prayerfully read the passages above and consider the question below.

 

Question

How do we guard against individualism robbing us and ultimately the world of the rich benefits of seeking Christ-centered counsel?

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 28 – Review

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

 

Today is dedicated to reviewing what we have learned over the past five days.  This week we focused on the Disciplines of Service and Stewardship as we considered our theme: A world in need.

This was a great week of learning and I want to thank all commentators again for adding to the richness of this experience.  I really do learn a lot from all of you.  Throughout the week, I was reminded of the importance of giving – giving myself in service, and giving God’s resources as a good steward.

 

Question

What stuck with you this week that you can apply as an agent of God in a world in need?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 27 – Stewardship

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

 

There were so many powerful thoughts and examples yesterday from those who commented.  Some provided great examples of how we can use our material possessions (or as many of you said, really God’s resources) to demonstrate God’s love to others in need.  As we conclude our consideration of the Discipline of Stewardship today, I want to highlight a challenge that we sometimes face when we think about financial stewardship.

In the world’s view, a good steward typically engages in growing and retaining economic resources.  While there is nothing wrong with these activities in many instances, it is quite interesting though, that in God’s economy a good steward is often engaged in giving away resources to a world in need.  Trying to decide how much we should keep/save versus how much we should give away is often very difficult.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

What does our inclination to share our resources with people in need say about where our trust resides?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 26 – Stewardship

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do?  I have no place to store my crops.’  18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13 – 21)

 

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Stewardship as we consider the theme A World in Need.

We started our consideration of The Discipline of Service by looking at a parable.  We are going to do the same with the Discipline of Stewardship.  The parable of the Rich Fool is another masterpiece by Jesus.  If you haven’t been following the stock market lately, I can summarize what has been happening for you in one word – brutal.  There have been a few good days but overall, stock prices are down considerably since the start of the year.  And, that’s only a part of the story because there are many workers worrying about loss of income due to business closures and a slowdown in commerce.  Whether you are directly impacted by the volatility of the economy or not, the shifting sand of financial resources brings the Discipline of Stewardship into very sharp focus.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

How can we demonstrate an attitude towards material things that provides a Christ-like example to a world in need?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 25 – Service

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1 – 2)

 

As we conclude our consideration of the Discipline of Service today let’s focus on application.  During His time on earth, service was central to Jesus.  In Matthew 23:11 He said, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant”.  Our passage today instructs us to follow His example.  I am convinced that the world really needs this!

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the suggestions below.

 

Suggestions

  • Prayerfully create a Service Action Plan (SAP) for the next few days/weeks.
  • Consider what Jesus would do in response to the prevailing atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and pain.
  • Be specific in your SAP about who you are going to serve and the service you will perform.
  • If you can share your plan without betraying any confidences, please do so to encourage others.

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 24 – Service

8Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  9Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

 

Today we continue our reflections on the Discipline of Service as we consider the theme A World in Need.

The Discipline of Service confronts a prevalent and pervasive philosophy in the world today – survival of the fittest.  Just consider the example of the hoarding of necessary supplies that has been highlighted by the media over the last few weeks.  And then there are the heartbreaking examples of many who view the elderly afflicted by coronavirus as dispensable.

Yesterday our commentators provided some really good ways we can help our neighbour.  Today, I would like us to pay special attention to the destitute.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

In your sphere of influence, who are the destitute that you can provide service to?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 23 – Service

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”  27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”  28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

 

Today we begin our reflections on the Discipline of Service as we consider the theme A World in Need.  Later this week we will consider the Discipline of Stewardship.

Jesus taught powerful lessons through parables. The parable of the Good Samaritan is certainly a fitting story for us to think about as we consider the Discipline of Service in the context of current global events.  With Covid-19 wreaking havoc we certainly have a world in need – a world desperate for good Samaritans.

Media outlets are rightly applauding health service workers and others at the front line of addressing the human tragedy we are observing.  As commendable as these actions are though, they pale in comparison to the sacrifice Jesus made for humanity.  The standard of service expected of followers of Jesus is, therefore, very high.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

What are some of the ways that Christians can serve as good neighbors in the current crisis?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 22 – Review

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

 

Today is dedicated to reviewing what we have learned over the past five days. This week we focused on the Disciplines of Worship and Fellowship.  It is quite interesting to be considering these Disciplines while the world deals with Covid-19.  The human tragedy related to this pandemic should certainly be our primary focus, but I can’t help but notice that the virus is causing Christians to reconsider how corporate Worship and Fellowship are practiced.  This presents an opportunity for us to really get to the heart of these Disciplines.  This should make your review even more exciting!

Suggestion

Many useful suggestions were made by commentators during the week.  As you perform your review, if you come up with more suggestions for applying the Disciplines of Worship and Fellowship in ways that will positively impact a world in need, please share them.