40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 25 – Service

1Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:1 – 10, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

Today we conclude our review of Service.  Yesterday, we looked at the internal dimension of this discipline for the local church.  Today we will consider the external dimension.  There are some local churches that deemphasize this dimension of service.  Some, out of fear of participating in what they consider a social gospel, shy away from social involvement.  That perspective appears inconsistent with the overall biblical narrative and so we consider service to the community (not just preaching) to be an important discipline. 

Bible Passage:

Today’s passage is Galatians 6:10 (presented above).  This is the same passage as yesterday but now we focus on doing good ‘to all people’. 

Question:

What are some of the successful examples of service to the community that you have experienced in a local church?


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 24 – Service

1Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:1 – 10, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

We continue our focus on the Discipline of Service.  From a local church perspective, service has two dimensions, internal (within the church) and external (within the community).  Today we will look at the internal and tomorrow the external.    

Bible Passage:

Today’s passage is Galatians 6:1 – 10 (presented above).  In verse 10, we are encouraged to do good to the family of believers.  However, when considered within the context of the other verses in the passage, doing good to other believers isn’t a casual affair.  Carrying the burden of others is very demanding, especially when one considers how much our society is built on individualism. 

Question:

Why is looking out for fellow believers in the local church of extreme importance to God’s mission? 


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 23 – Service

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.. (Philippians 2:3 – 4, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Service, and we will begin by considering questions about the role of service in your local church. 

Before considering the questions, it might be helpful to reflect on the fact that some local churches don’t get excited about this discipline.  It is hard to reconcile this phenomenon with the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).   God’s love cannot be contained and one of the manifestations is service.      

Primary Questions:

  1. Does your local church teach biblical principles about service?
  2. Is service a part of the culture of your local church?
  3. Does the service culture extend to interactions with the external community?
  4. Do your local church leaders model a life of service?

Optional Secondary Questions (if you have the time):

  1. Is your local church committed to local and foreign missions?
  2. Does your church recognize those who work ‘behind the scenes’?

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 are your general observations about how local churches relate to service?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 25 – Service

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  (Galatians 6:9 – 10)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

As one of our commentators said, James’ story of service to the community is certainly inspirational and so too are the stories shared by others yesterday.  For the record, James is a Deacon at Westside Community Church and not an Elder as I wrote yesterday.  Thanks again to James and all who shared their stories! 

Today we conclude our review of the Discipline of Service by sharing one more story.  This story is about serving others in the household of faith.  I am grateful that Phyllis has allowed me to tell her story. 

Sometimes people in need are right under our noses and we miss them.  Serving people in the church should not be overlooked, so if not you, then who?

Phyllis’ Story of Service

Phyllis manages the administrative affairs of Westside Community Church in Trinidad and keeps everyone organized.  She has been participating in 40 days of Discipline since its inception almost 10 years ago.  For 15 years, Phyllis has been a key contributor to an amazing ministry that caters to believers and has successfully extended its reach to non-believers.  The ministry serves and encourages widows.  They have 150 widows on their contact list and annually they have a Valentine’s Day “high tea” and a Christmas lunch.  Throughout the year they connect widows with other widows that live nearby and they also organize outings. 

One amazing result of this ministry is that the spirit of encouragement displayed, appeals to widows of other religions who end up participating and, in some instances, they decide to follow Jesus.  While the pandemic has prevented the group from meeting physically recently, it hasn’t dampened the spirit of encouragement.  For example, Phyllis is currently co-leading an effort to send out cards with poems to the widows for Easter. 

As our passage for today states, there is a harvest for those who don’t grow weary from doing good.  That “good”, can begin with serving the family of believers.

Please read the passage above and respond to the request and question below.

Request and Question:

  • Please remember Phyllis in prayer. 
  • Do you have any lessons from serving fellow believers that other participants could benefit from?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 24 – Service

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  (Matthew 25:35 – 40)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Yasmin’s story of service to her family got us off to a great start yesterday.  Thanks again Yasmin!  Today we are going to turn our attention to Christian service in our communities and I am pleased that James has allowed me to tell his story.

I heard a Bible teacher say once that many people are excited about helping the world until they realize they have to deal with people.  Serving people in our communities can be a daunting task but if not you, then who?

James’ Story of Service

James is an elder at Westside Community Church in Trinidad and has been participating in 40 days of Discipline since its inception almost 10 years ago.  For an even longer period (since 2007), he has been volunteering with the St. James Police Youth Club (SJPYC) in Trinidad, including service as a Board member.  The SJPYC serves at-risk and disadvantaged youth between the ages of 5 and 21.  These young people are often forgotten by society until/unless their lives intersect with the criminal justice system.  Without appropriate intervention, statistics say the outcome of their lives will be dismal.  God uses people like James to change the statistics.  James’ decision to serve is driven by a concern for these young people and builds on experience he gained working with at-risk youth in the cities of Oakland, California and New York.  The spiritual dimension of his service is immense, as illustrated in our passage for today. 

Please read the passage above and respond to the request and question below.

Request and Question:

  • Please remember James in prayer. 
  • Do you have any lessons from serving in your community that other participants could benefit from?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 23 – Service

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.(Colossians 3:12)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Today, we begin a 3-day review of the Discipline of Service.  In consideration of our theme, we are going to focus on some practical examples instead of theory.  I have asked three of our fellow participants to allow me to share their stories of Christian service.  None of the three profess to be experts in the area but I know their stories will inspire us.  The examples will come from three broad categories of service:  1) Serving our families; 2) Serving the community; 3) Serving the household of faith.

I am sure most of us will appreciate that serving our family can sometimes be a tremendous challenge.  This is usually service up close where people know each other well, warts and all. 

Yasmin’s Story of Service

I’ve heard people joking that one of the benefits of being a grandparent is that after the grandparents enjoy their time with the grandchildren the parents take them home and the grandparents get to relax.  Yasmin, who has been participating in 40 Days of Discipline for a few years now, decided to pursue a more challenging path.  She left the comfortable confines of her home in Trinidad, quit her job and moved back to the US to live in less comfortable accommodations so that she can help her daughter’s family. Her daughter and son-in-law have 2 young boys, 7 and 3 months old, and the pandemic recently precipitated a stressful move from one coast of the US to the other.  So, as an act of service, Yasmin spends very long days helping the family out by being a nanny, housekeeper and driver at a time of her life when the conventional approach would be to relax.  She understands the spiritual opportunity this challenge presents though.  Her son-in-law is not a believer and she has the opportunity to be a witness to the entire family and expose the boys to the gospel. 

Yasmin’s story is not a unique one, but when I heard her story I was really impressed with her honesty in describing how challenging serving is, the fact that she gets tired and frustrated sometimes, and her reliance on God to help her be a witness.

Our passage today reminds us of the qualities we need to serve others for God’s glory in circumstances like this. Please reflect on the passage and respond to the request and question below.

Request and Question:

  • Please remember Yasmin in prayer. 
  • Do you have any lessons from serving your family that other participants could benefit from?


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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 25 – Service

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 5:8)

 

Over the last two days we have looked at two concepts aimed at ensuring that we focus on glorifying God when we serve others.  Today, we consider the third and final concept: Sharing God’s Glory.

Sharing God’s Glory

The transformative power of the glory of God compels us to share with others, and we should not be lazy or casual about this responsibility.  Through service, we can attend to the physical needs of those around us, but we should not forget spiritual needs.  We practically share God’s glory with others by sharing Jesus.  While we should always attend to “natural” needs, let’s remember that ultimately what people need is God.

 

Question:

Are you comfortable with the idea of sharing Jesus with others through service?