40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 7 – Bible Study

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23 – 24)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

The survey results are in from our Bible study poll.  70% of our respondents consistently participate in Bible studies, 20% rarely participate and 10% occasionally participate.  Thanks for the honest feedback!  Let’s all prayerfully consider how we can learn from each other to improve – all for God’s glory.

As we conclude our consideration of the Discipline of Bible Study, let’s focus on an important but sometimes overlooked role that Bible study plays.  Most of us will have encountered individuals who are excellent at accomplishing tasks but the way they get things done leaves a lot to be desired.  Examples exist in our work environment, in public life and yes, even in the church.  We are likely guilty ourselves at times. 

God is not only concerned about what gets done but how things get done.  His standards for the way we must execute our tasks for Him are very high, and Bible study keeps us in tune with His standards.

Request

Can you share a circumstance where your awareness of God’s standards impacted your attitude in carrying out a challenging task? 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 6 – Bible Study

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Yesterday, we explored how important Bible study is to us getting direction from God even if we don’t get direction for specific tasks.  Today we will turn our attention to the topic of diligence in study.  While frequency of Bible Study is crucial, what also matters is how we study.  We don’t all have to be seminary students, but we can all be diligent in our study. 

Have you ever wanted to know what path to choose and hoped that you could just open the Bible and find the answer?  This can be characterized as the “direction without diligence” approach, which is consistent with our microwave society.  I know I have been guilty of this approach. 

Of course, God can and does provide direction in a variety of manners, but our passage for today recommends the “boring” path of diligence.  How often do we miss out on God’s marching orders because we are not being diligent in Bible study? 

Please read the passage above and consider the question below.

Questions:

  • Do you study the Bible diligently (pray, take notes, review, seek help, put into practice, etc.)?
  • What are some of your most effective Bible Study practices?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 5 – Bible Study

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  (Acts 9:1 – 6)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

A big thank you to all who participated in our warmup Bible Study last week.  We will now commence our review of 11 Disciplines, starting with Bible Study. As always, our aim is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Disciplines in deepening our relationship with God. 

Our theme this year challenges us to test whether we are “pulling our weight” in advancing God’s kingdom.  How does Bible Study help us to pull our weight?  We will consider this question over the next three days. 

Our scripture passage for the day captures Saul’s conversion and his call to service as the apostle Paul.  Wouldn’t we all like to have that kind of specific/dramatic call (maybe without going blind temporarily 😊)?  Rarely do Christians experience that kind of specificity in calling through Bible Study but we know that the Bible is an essential direction setting tool (“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” – Psalm 119:105). 

Please answer the question below and click on the link to take a very quick poll. 

Question & Request

Question:  In what ways is Bible Study crucial to us determining what God wants us to do even if we might not get specific directions from our studies? 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 3 – Group Bible Study

1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.  Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.  Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”  15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”  Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”  19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.  (1 Samuel 3)

 

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

We will conclude our Group Bible Study today.  So far, we have dealt with the Call and the Confusion.  Today we address Confirmation & Challenge.

From the passage above we see that with Eli’s help, Samuel’s confusion is ultimately eliminated and God speaks to him directly.  In verses 11 – 21, God confirms His grand mission and it doesn’t look good for Eli and his household.  Samuel gets confirmation that he will be a key actor in God’s mission and very early in his ministry he faces a major challenge where Eli is concerned.  Samuel demonstrates courage and delivers a difficult message to his mentor.

Questions:

  • Considering the work Samuel is being called to do, why is it important that he met this early challenge?
  • What lessons do we observe regarding obedience and God’s preparation of his servants?

Thanks to everyone who has been commenting!  Your comments make a big difference.

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 2 – Group Bible Study

1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.  Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.  Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”  15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”  Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”  19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.  (1 Samuel 3)

 

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Yesterday, in our Group Bible Study we considered the Call.  Today we will consider the Confusion.  Samuel seemed to have been in the “perfect” place to hear from God (“in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was.”).  However, in verses 4 – 10 we observe Samuel and Eli being initially confused.  Samuel thought he knew who was calling him, but he was mistaken.  Clearly, we can’t put God in a box as it relates to the ways He elects to call us into action but there may be some general lessons for us to take away from this passage.

If you haven’t already read the comments posted yesterday, I encourage you to do so.  They are excellent and add a lot to this journey.  In fact, some of the responders have anticipated the questions below, which I encourage all of you to consider and comment on if you feel led.

Questions:

  • Do you ever feel uncertain about what God’s marching orders are for you, or even if he is talking to you?
  • What are some potential sources of confusion and how can we avoid them?

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 1 – Group Bible Study

1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.  Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.  Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”  15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”  Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”  19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.  (1 Samuel 3)

 

Context

When we considered the theme “A world in Need” in 2020, little did we know how much Covid-19 would lay bare the fragility of “normal existence”.   The need for believers to serve as God directs is crystal clear, and none of us should be on the side-line.  Our assigned tasks from God may be big or small by human standards but in God’s economy our part is always a big part because we serve a big God.  So, if not you, then who?

 

Bible Study

For our Group Bible Study this year we will consider the story of God calling Samuel (1 Samuel 3).  Over the next three days, we will consider this passage under the following headings:  1) Call, 2) Confusion, and 3) Confirmation & Challenge.

God’s Call

God’s call of Samuel has unique elements but there are broad lessons applicable to us as we consider our response to God’s call(s).  Let’s start by considering how God called Samuel.  Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the questions below.

Questions:

  • Have you ever heard people talking about God’s call on their lives and it sounds like a game of hide and seek?  Based on verses 1 – 4, how would you characterize God’s call of Samuel (e.g., direct or indirect, transparent or shrouded in secrecy, specific or general)?
  • Of course, God speaks to us in a variety of ways.  In what ways have you experienced God’s call on your life?

Sharing your thoughts could be a big help to someone else.  Please leave a comment on the blog.


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 7 – Bible Study

1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1 – 5)

 

Does the world need the Bible?  Do we have a responsibility to study it and share it?   Since the Bible is the only inspired book that reveals God, the answer to both questions must be a resounding YES.  Therefore, if we are to truly help the world, Bible study is essential, but it must be coupled with transformation and dissemination.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the following questions.

Questions

  1. Do you see the following points in the passage above? (Just identify the verses.)
    • The world needs God’s word (A world in need)
    • We must prepare ourselves to share God’s word (Bible study)
    • We must share God’s word
  2. Are you a kind student of the Bible – do you liberally share what you learn?

 

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 6 – Bible Study

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14 – 17)

 

Yesterday, we looked at the vast variety of places people go to for answers to life’s questions.  Some of the answers emanate from powerful narratives that compete with a Biblical world view.  We would easily recognize religious and political movements as the sources for many of narratives, but we might miss less obvious sources such as consumerism and individualism.  What these narratives all have in common is a promise to provide what the world needs.  To counter these powerful world views, we need to prayerfully study the Bible in such a way that we understand God’s world view.  If all we do is haphazard Bible reading, that won’t be enough to satisfy a world in need.

Please read the passage above and answer the following question.

Question

How do you ensure that your method of Bible Study adequately equips you with a comprehensive Biblical world view?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 5 – Bible Study

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.  17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.  18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:16 – 21)

 

As a reminder, the theme for our 40 days journey this year is A World in Need.  We kicked things off last week with a Group Study considering the role we should play as salt and light. Starting today, we turn our attention to the Spiritual Disciplines, and Bible Study will be the first Discipline we focus on. Over the next three days, we will focus on the relationship between Bible Study and a world in need.

With advancements in technology, there is an answer offered for almost every conceivable question on YouTube, Facebook, podcasts, Wikipedia or other platforms. Who needs the Bible when you have those resources plus Google, Alexa or Siri?  I would argue that because of the ease of access to a multitude of often competing voices, the world has never needed Bible studying Christians more.

Please read the passage above and answer the question below.

Question

Note the powerful commands in verses 18 – 20 of the passage above. What methods of Bible Study do you employ to treat God’s word with the priority conveyed in the passage?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 4 – Review

13 “You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  14 “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13 – 16)

 

Today is dedicated to reviewing what we have learned over the past three days.  We study God’s word for transformation not just for information.  Spend your 15 minutes today reflecting on the Bible study over the last three days.  Remember that our theme this year is A World in Need.  Think about what you have learned about responding to a world in need, and if you have missed any of the days, you can catch up.

As you perform your review, please keep in mind the example set for us by Jesus.  He loved the world.  Matthew 9:36 tells us that “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them”.

Please consider the question below and ask God to help you to apply the lessons from His word to your life.

 

Question

How can you strengthen your love for those in the world without loving the world?