40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 32 – Creation

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context and Bible Passage:

We continue our focus on the Discipline of Creation.  Today’s Scripture reading explicitly links nature to God as the creator.  We must never be casual about this linkage because the world is anxious to provide alternative propositions. 

In the local church, Christian music has historically served a crucial role in the discipline of Creation.   Here are the partial lyrics of two songs you may be familiar with.  The first is traditional and the second is contemporary:

How Great Thou Art by Carl Boberg

Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong UNITED

God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time

With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapour of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship, so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises, so will I

Questions:

  • How do you relate to the use of creation in corporate worship?
  • Do you have a favorite worship song that uses creation as its theme? 


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 31 – Creation

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

Today and tomorrow, we will focus on the Discipline of Creation, and we will begin by considering questions about the role of Creation in your local church. 

In some ways, Creation is a “complicated” discipline.  Entire doctrines and books have been written on the subject including contributions from Thomas Aquinas (Catholic) and John Calvin (Protestant), who wrote about the importance of creation to church doctrine.  For 40 days of Discipline, we are focused on a relatively simple concept.  Our focus is on the fact that we can appreciate and worship God through his creation (e.g., nature, humans, and things created by humans).  We are not trying to suggest that creation is a substitute for Jesus (living Word) or the Bible (written word).  However, we believe that we rob ourselves of insights into the magnificence of God when we don’t stop to smell the proverbial roses.

Primary Questions:

  1. Does your local church provide a biblical perspective on creation?
  2. Are various art forms used by your local church to display God’s magnificence?
  3. Does your local church intentionally incorporate elements of creation into worship?
  4. Does your local church extend the principle of stewardship to God’s creation?

Your Feedback:

While you are not expected to share your answers to the questions above, we would still love to hear from you.  Based on your answers to the questions, what is your general observation about how local churches relate to creation?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 32 – Creation

1The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”  So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.  (Ezekiel 37:1 – 10)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

As promised, today we will turn our attention to the role we should play in God’s mission of restoring the order He created.  Hopefully you were able to focus on God’s creation yesterday.  If you didn’t, today is just as good.  It’s never too late to stop and smell the roses or cherry blossoms if you are in Japan 😊. 

From the Bible and from creation we gain insights into God’s mission to restore order.  As soldiers in His army we too must be signed up to this mission.  When we share the gospel, live godly lives, and otherwise share God’s love with others we are participating in God’s mission.

As you think about creation today, reflect on the damage and disorder that sin has imposed.  Then ask yourself, am I playing my part in God’s mission to restore order? 

Our passage today may seem somewhat unrelated to the Discipline of Creation, but it is related.  You will find in the passage above, a beautiful example of the prophet Ezekiel partnering with God to address the disorder illustrated by dry bones.  This is the kind of partnership we should long for because there are so many dry bones around us, but by the power of our creator, those bones can live, and order can be restored.

Please read the passage above and answer the question below.

Question:

Where are the “chaotic” places that God has placed you to be his message and messenger of order?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 31 – Creation

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them.  28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.  31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.  (Genesis 1:26 – 31)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Today and tomorrow we will turn our attention to the Discipline of Creation – the Discipline that calls on us to stop and smell the roses.  Our theme this year encourages each of us to actively engage in advancing God’s kingdom.  Consistent with the theme, it is helpful to reflect on God’s mission, which includes the restoration of His order. God spoke order into existence and gave Adam and Eve the assignment to help to maintain it. This order was corrupted by sin but if we take the time to focus on God’s creation, we can see numerous reminders of the priority God places on order.  Tomorrow we will explore how creation helps to inform our individual missions, but today let’s just bask in the beauty of God’s creation.

Please read the passage above and pursue the requests below.

Requests:

  • Take a few minutes today to focus on aspects of God’s creation. 
  • Meditate on the magnificence of our creator and the order He creates.
  • Please share any thoughts from your meditation that we could all benefit from.


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 32 – Creation

4He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  5Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:4 – 5)

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17)

 

We conclude our consideration of the Discipline of Creation today and continue our focus on the theme: A world in need.  A significant benefit of practicing the Discipline of Creation is the opportunity to meditate on attributes of God. Throughout the Bible we see the connection between creation and descriptions of God.  I believe this presents an opportunity to present the real God to the world – a God who is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, faithful, good, and so much more.

A sad reality is that the world is prepared to settle for lesser gods, often of their own creation.  With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity through the use of creation to point the world to Elohim (supreme one or mighty one).

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

 

Suggestion

Please share Bible verses that you love that describe God through creation.

 


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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 32 – Creation

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  20For 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.  21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18 – 21)

 

Today we conclude our consideration of the Discipline of Creation.  Yesterday, we reflected on the manifestation of God’s glory through creation. Today we will confront the obvious fact that most people don’t view creation with a Biblical mindset.  In fact, many don’t accept the concept of creation at all.  On April 5th 2019, Netflix launched a series entitled “Our Planet”, which is narrated by the world-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough.  The images are spectacular, reflecting the results of 3,500 filming days, 600 crew, and the latest technology.  What we should not expect from the series though, is God getting any glory; nor should we expect that Sir David will not make the same proclamations that the Psalmist David made in Psalm 19.

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

 

Question:

How can we practically use God’s creation to proclaim His glory in the face of significant disbelief?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 31 – Creation

1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  3They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  4Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1 – 4)

 

We now turn our attention to the Discipline of Creation as we continue our consideration of the theme: God’s glory. We have ready-made object lessons of God’s glory available to us every day in His creation, but how often do we pay attention?  Today I want to challenge us to stop and smell the proverbial roses.  Make time to be very deliberate in viewing the world through the lens David did in Psalm 19.

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

Question:

What aspects of creation most powerfully remind you of God’s glory?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 32 – Creation

But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”  In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them.  Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.   But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:6 – 9)

 

Unfortunately, many people around the world who appreciate the beauty of creation don’t see the Creator.  Hebrews 2:9 includes 5 powerful words: “But we do see Jesus”.  The story of the Creator humbling Himself to save his creation is good news.  Because of this act of sacrifice, we can find our identity in Christ.

Today, be acutely aware of the wonder of God’s creation all around you.  Take some time to smell the proverbial roses.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passages above.

 

Something to think about:

When do you see Jesus most powerfully through creation?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 31 – Creation

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what 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.  You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:3 – 8)

 

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Creation, which involves an attitude of enjoying God’s creation. As we continue to consider our theme, Our Identity, the Discipline of Creation can serve a vital role.  A careful consideration of God’s creation helps us to consider who we are through a humbling lens.  In Psalm 8, David sets an important example for us.  Verse 3 starts with “When I consider”, and then proceeds to talk about elements of God’s creation.  Unfortunately for most of us, the phrase “when I consider” is seldom followed by elements of God’s creation, and so we miss out on a great way to learn about God and ourselves.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible passage above.

 

Something to think about:

How does spending time considering God’s creation help you understand your significance and frailties?