40 Days of Discipline


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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 30 – Counsel

9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9 – 11)

 

Yesterday we considered how humility can help to ensure that we use the Discipline of Counsel for God’s glory.  Today we consider the role that discernment must play.

Discernment

History records that in some ancient civilizations, people would travel for hundreds of miles and spend a lot of their resources to gain access to oracles who could provide them with “wise” counsel.  With advances in technology we now have a vastly different scenario.  So called oracles are everywhere – on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms.  Many of them want to be “mega influencers” mostly for commercial gain and certainly not to glorify God. Plus, they are often right at our finger tips.  Discernment in who you take advice from was never more necessary.  If you read the page on Counsel in “The Disciplines Explained” document that can be accessed on our website https://40daysofdiscipline.com/disciplines/, you will find some useful advice on selecting counsellors.  I encourage you to read the page when you have some time, but from our passage today I want to draw our attention to the essential weapon of prayer.  A couple of you mentioned using prayer yesterday in the great set of commentaries posted, and Paul mentions discerning “what is best” in the prayer above.

Please prayerfully reflect on the passage and answer the question below.

 

Question:

How much do you pray when selecting advisors, and in addition to prayer, how do you practice discernment?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 29 – Counsel

13The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood round him from morning till evening. 14When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand round you from morning till evening?’  15Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.  16Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.’  17Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good.  18You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.  19Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.  You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.  20Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.  21But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  22Let them serve as judges for the people at all times, but let them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.  23If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’  24Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.  25He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  26They served as judges for the people at all times.  The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.  27Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.  (Exodus 18:13 – 27)

 

We have now considered eight Disciplines: Bible Study, Spiritual Warfare, Prayer, Fasting, Worship, Fellowship, Service and Stewardship.  As we enter the last week before Passion Week and continue to consider the theme God’s Glory, we have three more Disciplines to cover: Counsel, Creation and Sabbath. We will start with Counsel.

Based on our discussions of the Discipline of Counsel over the last few years, it is clear that many of us approach seeking advice with a fair amount of hesitation.  It is not always clear to us that soliciting advice will result in God’s glory.  The hesitation is understandable but it is important that we do not avoid this Discipline altogether.  To encourage us to use this Discipline more, over the next two days we will consider two necessary underpinnings of God glorifying Counsel: 1) Humility and 2) Discernment.

Humility

The story captured in our passage today, describes an interaction between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro.  As you read this, recall that Moses had already developed a special relationship with God that allowed him extraordinary access and direct exposure to God’s miraculous works in rescuing the Children of Israel from Egypt.  In contrast, Jethro had only recently acknowledged God’s greatness.  Yet, God in His wisdom honored Jethro’s counsel to Moses.  Fortunately, Moses was humble enough to take the advice Jethro offered.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passage above and answer the question below.

 

Question:

What are your ideas for fostering the kind of humility that facilitates receiving wise advice?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 30 – Counsel

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.  My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. (Psalm 141:5)

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. (Proverbs 15:31)

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (Proverbs 19:10)

 

In general, seeking counsel is difficult for most people.  When that counsel includes rebuke or discipline, accepting it can be extremely difficult.  The way David welcomes rebuke in Psalm 141:5 is not typical.  Most of us will admit that as we grow older we develop an increasing aversion to accepting correction.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

Do you have people in your life that you are prepared to accept correction and discipline from?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 29 – Counsel

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

Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.. (Proverbs 13:10)

 

We have entered the last week before Passion Week and we have three more Disciplines to cover: Counsel, Creation and Sabbath.  We will cover these three Disciplines this week, and continue to reflect on our theme for this year, Our Identity.  We will start with Counsel.

God clearly puts people in our lives to advise us, and discussions with other believers can certainly help with questions related to our identity.  This is certainly one of the major benefits of fellowship.  For many of us though, seeking counsel is a sign of weakness.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

Why should seeking counsel be an essential component of seeking a Christ-centered identity?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 32 – Counsel

20Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.  21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:20-21)

 

If you missed the comments on Creation yesterday, you missed something special.  The good thing is the comments are still there for your review. Today we consider another not-so-popular Discipline – the Spiritual Discipline of seeking counsel from others.  Alicia has a question for Libby on the subject.

As a reminder, you will play the part of Libby and share your thoughts on the challenges people are facing.  Libby is not expected to be an expert.  Rather, Libby simply shares from personal and practical experiences.   So, please feel free to chime in even if you have questions yourself.  Also, even if you don’t have the time to share, think about how you have addressed the challenge in your life or how you would address it in the life of a loved one.

Please review the Bible passage above and Alicia’s challenge below.

 

Dear Libby,

Writing to you for advice today is very awkward because my challenge is that I avoid seeking counsel. I don’t mind seeking advice on minor things like getting directions, or on major things like medical advice from a doctor.  However, when I am faced with some major life challenges, I tend to go it alone even when the answer is not at all clear.  I have given some thought to why I act so independently, and I think the fundamental issues are trust and control.  One I find it hard to give (trust), and the other I find it hard to give up (control).

Lately I have been feeling like I am robbing myself of a key part of my Christian experience by not seeking counsel from wise people around me more often.  What are your views Libby?   

 

Seeking counsel (and it feels weird),

Alicia

 

Today’s Question:

What thoughts would you like to share with Alicia?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 32 – Counsel

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)

 

As we consider the Discipline of Counsel it is difficult to avoid concerns related to getting advice from the “wrong” people.  This is obviously a legitimate area of concern and spiritual discernment is required.  Jesus recognized this issue and provides an interesting perspective.

Please carefully read the passage above and answer the questions below.

 

Today’s Questions:

  1. Do you find it difficult to decide who you should seek counsel from?
  2. How can Jesus’ warning in the passage help you to decide who to accept counsel from?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 31 – Counsel

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

 

Like the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare, the Discipline of Counsel is not mentioned as often as other Disciplines.  It is well worth considering though.  Just consider how poorly most of us handle receiving feedback or how disinclined we are to humble ourselves to learn from others.  The story of Mary and Martha is a classic story that speaks to the Discipline of Counsel.

Please carefully read the passage above and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions:

  1. Jesus commends Mary for choosing “what is better”.  What attitudes from Mary can we adopt to better practice the Discipline of Counsel?
  2. Do you have people in your life that you allow to provide you with the kind of counsel that Martha received from Jesus?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 27 – Counsel

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance (Proverbs 1:5)

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. (Proverbs 11:14)

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

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

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (Proverbs 19:20)

Our Feature Friday Discipline is the Discipline of Counsel.  In today’s society, the person who dispenses counsel is often considered wise.  The Bible offers another perspective though, by linking listening and seeking counsel with wisdom.   The Holy Spirit can directly provide us with all the counsel we need but He elects to sometimes provide this counsel through others.   Of course, not all counsel provided is wise, even in the church.   For some, the fact that this is a “risky” Discipline is ample reason not to pursue it.   However, viewed through the lens of love that is not a recommended path.

Please prayerfully read the passages above and answer today’s questions.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • Do you have a network of believers who can provide you with godly advice on a variety of matters?
  • How do you guard against using bad counsel?