40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 9 – Spiritual Warfare

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  (1 Peter 5:8 – 10)

 

As Christians, every day we have the tremendous opportunity to demonstrate spiritual victory through the power of God in our lives.  The enemy is on the prowl and we must be ready for the battle.  In this war, neutrality is not a Biblically proposed option.  People around us are crying out for evidence of victorious living, and if we are obedient to God’s word, we can demonstrate who is really victorious (God) and who is vanquished (Satan).  A victorious Christian is a potent witness to A World in Need.

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

Question

The admonition to “Be alert” in verse 8 above comes from a Greek phrase that means “with the waist of your mind being girded.”  This speaks to being prepared.  Why is this so important in Spiritual Warfare?

 

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 8 – Spiritual Warfare

1By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!  I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:1 – 6)

 

Over the last three days, we have certainly seen how the Discipline of Bible Study is key to providing what the world desperately needs – God.  Today, we switch our focus to the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare.  Will the relevance of this Discipline to A World in Need be as obvious?  Let’s consider this over the next two days.

When we speak of a world in need we are, of course, referring to people in need.  However, the world can also be defined as the kingdom ruled by Satan.  As Christians in Satan’s domain, we are by definition at war, whether we acknowledge it or not.

Please prayerfully read the passage above, and note the presumption that we are at war.  Also, note the power God provides and what it is capable of doing.

Questions

  • How conscious are you of the spiritual battles around you?
  • In what ways might unbelievers benefit from Christians practicing spiritual warfare?

 

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 9 – Spiritual Warfare

15Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands.  They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.  16The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.  17When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”  18Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”  19When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. (Exodus 32:15 – 19)

 

From the passage above we observe something that is very disturbing.  While God’s glory was clearly on exhibit on Mount Sinai, the Children of Israel who could see this exhibition still turned to an idol because Moses was “delayed” in returning to them.  How could things get so distorted?  We will not get into full blown explanation here, but one thing is very clear: if we are not vigilant we can turn from God’s glory to idols.  That is the nature of spiritual warfare.

Thankfully, God has provided all that we need to be vigilant and victorious.  The Holy Spirit desires to open our eyes to the resources documented in God’s word.  For example, The 40 Days of Discipline website provides the following three Biblically based suggestions for engaging in spiritual warfare: 1) Subdue your temptations; 2) Establish yourself in community; and 3) Put on the full armor of God.

 

Question

In the matter of spiritual warfare, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your Awareness Quotient (consciousness of the spiritual battle) and your Reliance Quotient (dependence on the weapons God provides)?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 8 – Spiritual Warfare

5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  7If you worship me, it will all be yours.”  8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ (Luke 4:5 – 8)

 

As we considered the Discipline of Bible Study over the past three days, many of us confessed that despite our deep desire to study the Bible, we often fall short of the mark.  We are clearly in a spiritual battle.  It is probably timely, therefore, that today we switch gears to the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare.  This Discipline addresses the fact that believers are engaged in a struggle every day, for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.”  So, how do our struggles relate to God’s glory?  Well, the story of the temptation of Jesus demonstrates one clear way. The devil wants us to settle for counterfeit glory.

 

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

 

Questions

  • What are some of the ways that we are tempted to pursue counterfeit glory?
  • What can we learn from Jesus’ response?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 9 – Spiritual Warfare

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”   Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”   Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”. (Matthew 4:1 – 7)

 

One of the classic Biblical passages on Spiritual Warfare is, of course, the temptation of Christ found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Interestingly, in the first two temptations there are clear references to identity (“If you are the Son of God”).

Please prayerfully read the passage above which captures two of the temptations and consider Jesus’ response to the devil.

 

Something to think about:

Recognizing that it is the devil’s strategy to attack the identity of God’s children, how does your response strategy stack up against the approach Jesus adopted?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 8 – Spiritual Warfare

15 I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15 – 20)

 

Today we switch gears to the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare.  This Discipline highlights the reality of the struggle that believers engage in every day, for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” This is a struggle that many avoid thinking about but the Bible certainly doesn’t avoid the topic.

Please prayerfully reflect on the passage of scripture above.  It provides a powerful statement of Paul’s struggle, which can certainly be viewed as a struggle of identity.

 

Something to think about:

We are often encouraged to focus on victories in our Christian walk. That is, of course, appropriate encouragement because “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”.  However, in the passage above Paul exhibits clear vulnerability.  In the spiritual battle for our identity, how might the kind of vulnerability exhibited by Paul prove valuable?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 15 – Bible Study & Spiritual Warfare

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

 

It has been really uplifting to see the comments some of you have shared in response the letters to Libby. We’ll take a break from letters to Libby today to reflect on a true story about Bible Study and Spiritual Warfare. The story is from a book entitled “The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected” by Nik Ripken. The author tells the story of Dmitri, a believer in the Former Soviet Union who was imprisoned for his faith. The following excerpt from Dmitri’s story speaks of passion for the Bible in the face of significant persecution:

“His persecutors continued to discourage and silence him. Dmitri remained faithful. He was overwhelmed one day by a special gift from God’s hand. In the prison yard, he found a whole sheet of paper. ‘And God,’ Dmitri said, ‘had laid a pencil beside it!’

Dmitri went on, ‘I rushed back to my jail cell and I wrote every Scripture reference, every Bible verse, every story, and every song I could recall.’

‘I knew that it was probably foolish,’ Dmitri told me, ‘but I couldn’t help myself. I filled both sides of the paper with as much of the Bible as I could. I reached up and stuck the entire sheet of paper on that wet concrete pillar. Then I stood and looked at it: to me it seemed like the greatest offering I could give Jesus from my prison cell. Of course, my jailor saw it. I was beaten and punished. I was threatened with execution.’”

Dmitri’s story reminds me that the kind of passion for the Bible that we see in Biblical characters like David is still evident in believers of our age, even in the face of clear Spiritual Warfare.

Today’s Question:

What inspiration do you take from Dmitri’s story?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 14 – Spiritual Warfare

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

 

Your comments made our first day of considering challenges to Spiritual Warfare a true blessing.  We will stay with Spiritual Warfare, and Percy has a question.  As a reminder, you are being asked to play the part of Libby and share your thoughts on the challenges people are having.  Please share your thoughts and check the comments throughout the day to see what others are saying to Percy.

 

Dear Libby,

I need your practical advice.  As a believer I know that Satan and his negative forces cannot destroy me.  Despite this knowledge though, when I think about spiritual warfare I almost always take a defensive posture (i.e., I mostly think about fighting off spiritual challenges).  My observation of Jesus is that he lived his life on offense as well and I want to be more like Him.  Do you have any suggestions on the keys to not only playing on defense but also on offense where spiritual warfare is concerned?

 

In Search of Offense,

Percy

 

Today’s Question:

What thoughts would you like to share with Percy?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 13 – Spiritual Warfare

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

 

What a blessing to see the practical advice provided over the last two days as we considered challenges to Bible Study.  We now switch our attention to the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare, and Carolina has a question.  As a reminder, you are being asked to play the part of Libby and share your thoughts on the challenges people are having.  Please share your thoughts and check the comments throughout the day to see what others are saying to Sarah.

 

Dear Libby,

I actually feel a bit awkward writing to you about the topic of Spiritual Warfare.  I know that evil exists and I know the Bible says a lot about evil powers, but talk of spiritual warfare evokes childish thoughts of boogie men and monsters in my closet.  I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable discussing this topic with my work colleagues.  What I am trying to say Libby is that of all the Disciplines this is probably the one that I keep most on the “low down”.  I don’t want to get all weird about spiritual warfare but I also don’t want to be naïve about my adversary.  Libby, how do you relate to spiritual warfare?  

Uncomfortable,

Carolina

 

Today’s Question:

What thoughts would you like to share with Carolina?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 30 – Spiritual Warfare

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”  17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:16-20)

 

Yesterday we focused on our adversary in spiritual warfare.   Today, we turn our attention to the battle.

As we think about the battle, there are many questions that arise.  For example, how do we succeed?  Or, what are our weapons?   I am sure that the lessons we have been learning from our review of the Disciplines provide many answers, but Jesus also provides a unique perspective in today’s passage.

Please carefully read the passage and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions:

  1. What assurances do you take from the passage?
  2. Jesus clearly had a high awareness of spiritual warfare, how would you assess your awareness?