40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 3 – Group Bible Study

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, we will continue our focus on our theme for this year – A World in Need.  Over the last two days, we considered the references to salt and light in the passage above.  Thanks to all the commentators who are already adding richly to the study!

Please prayerfully read the passage again and answer this short quiz:

  • Do you study the Bible enough to use it as a basis for addressing the problems faced by those around you? (2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to show yourself approved…..)
  • Do you regularly pray for the lost with love, especially those in your sphere of influence? (Romans 10:1…. my heart’s desire and prayer to God…is that they may be saved).
  • Do you spend your time wisely – sometimes sacrificially – in service of peole in need, or do you spend too much time on “entertainment” or “work”? (Ephesian 5:16 – making the most of every opportunity (“redeeming the time”), because the days are evil.)
  • Is your speech typically “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:5- 6 …. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,….)? In other words, are you typically gracious in your interactions with non-Christians?

Questions:

  • How did you do on the quiz?
  • What specific areas can you talk to God about to seek His help in improving your interactions with a world in need?

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 2 – Group Bible Study

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, we continue our focus on how we should interact with A World in Need.  Yesterday, we focused on being salt.  Today, we will focus on being light.  As you consider the passage above, please spend some of your time thinking about why Jesus says we are to let our light shine.

Questions:

  • What stands out for you in the illustrations about light that Jesus uses?
  • Reflect on the purpose for us being light presented in the passage above.  How does the world benefit when we shine our light?

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 1 – Group Bible Study

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)

 

“The world is a mess.”  How often have you heard that statement?  You could almost excuse a Christian for having as little as possible to do with the world, right?  After all, policy makers, schools, businesses and sometimes even religious institutions don’t share our value system; and it appears that people are getting meaner.   Let’s examine what the Bible has to say about engaging or not engaging with the world.

The passage above from Matthew 5 will serve as our reference for discussion over the next three days.   Then, when we are done with this Group Bible Study we will spend the next 6 weeks exploring the value we bring to A World in Need by practicing Spiritual Disciplines.  Today, we will discuss salt and tomorrow we will discuss light.

Please set aside 15 minutes without distraction.  If possible, find a place that you can escape to daily and start by asking God to guide you.  Read the passage above and consider the questions below.

Questions:

  • Salt?  Really?  But we know Jesus doesn’t make mistakes, so why does he compare Christians to salt?
  • In comparing Christians to salt, Jesus shines a light on how they are impacting the world.  In your sphere of influence, how do you act like salt?

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

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1 – 7 – emphasis added)

 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

 

Based on the many helpful comments over the last two days, we appear to recognize the importance of Bible Study.  However, our lives do not always reflect this recognition.  How can we improve?

It might be helpful for us to think deeply about the implications of studying or not studying God’s word.  Do we really feel as if we miss something vital when we drop Bible study from our schedule?  Consider the two passages above.  The passage from Isaiah points out that we were created for God’s glory, and the passage from Ecclesiastes says that our duty is to Fear God and keep his commandments.  If we link the messages from both passages together we could reach the following conclusion: The Bible provides the instructions for us to come alive and live out our purpose of glorifying God.  Therefore, one of the important things that we miss when we are not careful enough to study the Bible is a clearer understanding of our true purpose to glorify God, and how to live out that purpose.

 

Questions

What do you think about the following statement?  “If we really believed that we are missing something vital when we forsake Bible study, we would be more disciplined.”


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 6 – Bible Study

 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  2When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.  3I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.  4You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.  5I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; 6I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked:  7“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?  8Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?   9Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.  11I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  12I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?  14You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.  15With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  16The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.  17The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.  18Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.  19Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. 20You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (Psalm 77)

 

Psalm 77 paints a beautiful picture of how the perspective of the psalmists changes as he reflects on glorious things about god.  Please read the Psalm carefully and pay attention to the change in tone from the start of the Psalm to the end of the Psalm.  Please also note the pivotal thoughts the Psalmist highlights in verses 10 – 12.

 

Question:

Are you spending enough time in God’s word to see His glory in a way that shapes your perspective even with regards to challenging circumstances?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 5 – Bible Study

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:17 – 18)

 

As reminder, the theme for our 40 days journey this year is God’s Glory.  We kicked things off last week by considering passages about Moses and Jesus.  Starting today, we turn our attentions 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 God’s glory.

 

In 2 Peter 3:17 – 18, the Apostle Peter concludes his letter with the instruction for us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Our primary source of  knowledge of Jesus is the Bible, and if we are going to experience God’s glory and give God glory we need instructions from God’s word.  Unfortunately, many of us want to jump straight to experiencing God’s glory without experiencing the growth that comes from consistent Bible study.

 

Question

What is your reaction to the following statement? “We don’t have deeper experiences of God’s glory because we are not growing, and we are not growing partly because we are not diligently studying God’s word.”


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 3 – Group Bible Study

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1 – 3)

 

Context

In the New Testament, the word for glory that corresponds to the Hebrew word kabod that we looked at yesterday is the Greek word doxa.  Like kabod, doxa has a wide range of meanings.  In addition to the passages above, here are a few examples where doxa is used:

  • The announcement of the birth of JesusLuke 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
  • The transfiguration of JesusLuke 9: 28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.  31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.  32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
  • Jesus praying in GethsemaneJohn 17: I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

As we consider God’s glory over the next few weeks we will see that Jesus is at the center of it all.  Please read the passages of scripture from John 1:14 and Hebrews 1:1 – 3 and answer the question below.

Question

What connections do you see between the description of Jesus in the passages above and the story of Moses we considered over the last two days?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 2 – Group Bible Study

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” 19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:12 – 23)

 

Context

The Hebrew word that is often translated as glory in the Old Testament is kabod (pronounced kavod). Literally, it means “heavy”, but it carries several other connotations, including importance, greatness, reputation, splendor, power and presence.  Here are just a few examples where kabod is used:

  • God’s Glory on Mount SinaiExodus 24: 15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
  • Human beings crowned with gloryPsalm 28: 4what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
  • The earth is full of God’s gloryIsaiah 6: 1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Please read the passage above (same as yesterday) and answer the questions below.

Questions:

  • What do you find interesting about God’s response to Moses’ request for God to show him His glory?
  • What do you believe is the significance of God’s promise to put Moses in the cleft of the rock until his glory passes by?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 1 – Group Bible Study

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.  You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’  13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.  Remember that this nation is your people.”  14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?  What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”  17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”  18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”  19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.  I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”  21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.  22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.  23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:12 – 23)

 

Our 40 Days of Discipline journey this year will focus on a topic that is practically impossible to fully define – God’s Glory.  God’s glory is after all, incomprehensible and incomparable.  Even though defining our theme is difficult, the topic is of utmost importance.  Over the next 6 weeks, we will learn how practicing the Spiritual Disciplines helps us to continually gain a deeper understand of God’s glory.

Please set aside 15 minutes without distraction.  If possible, find a place that you can escape to daily and start by asking God to guide you.  Read the passage above and consider the questions below.

Questions:

  • In your own words, what do you believe Moses is asking for when he says, “Now show me your glory” (verse 18)?
  • Why do you think he makes this request?

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

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:23 – 24)

 

Over the last two days, the comments related to Bible Study and our identity have been extremely insightful and encouraging.  Thanks to all contributors!  As we wrap up our consideration of the Discipline of Bible Study, we turn our attention to the important topic of application.

In the passage above, the parallel drawn between the Bible and a mirror is very interesting, especially in the context of our discussion about the Bible and our identity.  Mirrors tell us about our external appearance, but the Bible tells us about our spiritual appearance.  If we suffered from memory loss every time we looked in a mirror, we might suffer from an appearance crisis.  Based on the passage above, if we don’t apply the word of God, I would argue that we could suffer from an identity crisis.

Please prayerfully reflect on the passage of scripture above.

 

Something to think about:

Why is Biblical application (as opposed to just knowledge acquisition) crucial for the identity of the believer?