40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Postscript – Thanks & Celebration

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.   They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.   While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.   In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!   Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”   Then they remembered his words. (Luke 24:1-9)

 

Jesus is risen!   “Where, O death, is your victory?   Where, O death, is your sting?”

Thank you so much for taking part in the 40 Days of Discipline journey!   It has been a pleasure to fellowship with all of you in our electronic meeting place.   To all our commentators, we are deeply indebted to you.   This year, the daily readings were done in such a way that they were incomplete without commentary.   Thank God, every day we had insightful commentary.

I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Easter Sunday.   If you have participated in this journey and you have any residual questions, including questions about being a follower of Jesus, please do not hesitate to contact me.   You can leave me a message on the www.40daysofdiscipline.com website.

I hope that you are better equipped to pursue the Disciplines for your good, the good of those around you, and for God’s glory.   Remember the motivation is love and we have resurrection power!

Until next year…..


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 40 – Focus on Jesus

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.   They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request.   “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.   Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.   Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.   But if it dies, it produces many seeds.   Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.   Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.   My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:20-26)

 

We have come to end of our journey for this year.   Yes, Day 40 has arrived.   Tomorrow will simply be a postscript of thanks and celebration.   Today we review the day in between the cross and the empty tomb.   We know the end of the story but back then it must have seemed like evil and the devil had won.   The price for our sins had already been paid on the cross but without resurrection Sunday there would be no proof and there would be no power.   As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.   Hallelujah we know how Jesus showed up on Sunday!

In the passage above, Jesus prophesied about his own death and resurrection.   Please prayerfully read the passage and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • What personal assurance do you take from Jesus’ resurrection?
  • After this 40 Day Journey, what are you going to change and what are you going to share?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 39 – Focus on Jesus

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.   And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.   Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”   When he had said this, he breathed his last.   The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”   When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.   But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke 23:44-49)

 

It has been a blessing to see how lovingly Jesus showed up in events during Passion Week over the last four days.   In the examples of His life we see how we can live, but it is through His death that we can come alive.   And so we come now to the greatest statement of love ever as we examine how Jesus showed up in death.   The passage above is just a short excerpt from the crucifixion story.   Today would be a good day to read the accounts in the Gospels (found in the following chapters: Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 19).   As you consider the crucifixion story you will certainly see many Disciplines on display.   Today though, we want to go back to where we started our journey.   We want to focus on love.   Without Jesus’ sacrifice of love we would not have salvation, but because of His sacrifice we can have abundant life.

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

 

Today’s Questions for comments:

  •  What warms your heart about the crucifixion story?
  • How do you share this with a world in need of Jesus?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 38 – Focus on Jesus

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.   On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”   He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”   An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.   And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.   When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.   “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them.   “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. (Luke 22:39-46)

 

What happens when the source of all comfort, who we have seen showing up in compassion, anger and intimacy, confronts unimaginable pain Himself.   We continue to focus on Jesus during Passion Week and today we see Him showing up in anguish.   We would be wise to meditate on what our perfect example does in the face of extreme adversity and consider what motivates Him.

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

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • How did Jesus deal with His anguish, and what Disciplines do you see manifested?
  • What do you take away for your times of pain and to help those around you in need of comfort?

Tomorrow we will consider how Jesus showed up in the most important way for all humanity.


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 37 – Focus on Jesus

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.   And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”   They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.   The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!   It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”   Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”   Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.   This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.   I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:20-30)

 

On Monday we saw Jesus showing up with compassion.   Yesterday we saw Him showing up in anger.   Love was the motivation in both instances and the Disciplines were evident.   We continue to focus on Jesus during Passion Week and today we see Him showing up in intimacy.   We are focussing on how Jesus shows up in these Passion Week events for at least two reasons: 1) So that we can meditate on a God who is relevant to our real circumstances; and 2) so that we can confirm that the Disciplines serve a practical role in seeing God as He really is and in applying all He has to offer.   Especially as we consider Jesus during Passion Week, we should pay close attention to how relevant God is to us in our times of suffering.   Whatever you are going through, the same Jesus of Passion Week loves you and has the power to work things out for your good and for God’s glory.

In almost any culture, meals are often used for times of intimacy.   During his final days, Jesus invites His disciples to a special supper.   Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • What important messages did Jesus want to communicate to His disciples, and what Disciplines do you see manifested?
  • How does this act of intimacy by Jesus provide you and others with comfort?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 36 – Focus on Jesus

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling.  “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Luke 19:45-46)

 

Yesterday we saw how a loving Jesus shows up in our dire circumstances and weeps for us.   It is very important that we see that Jesus came to be a humble servant.   We need to be careful though, not to limit how Jesus shows up – He is the lion and the lamb.   I am reminded of a quote from C. S. Lewis’ popular book, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.   In the book, Lucy asks Mr. Beaver about Aslan the lion and the dialogue is quite memorable:

“Is he-quite safe?   I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe?   ‘Course he isn’t safe.   But he’s good.”

Today we consider another side of Jesus as we continue our focus on how He shows up in real ways in our lives, and how the Disciplines are manifested.   During Passion Week and shortly after the entry into Jerusalem, Jesus enters the temple.   Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • What was the cause of the display of anger by Jesus, and what Disciplines do you see manifested?
  • What lesson(s) can you apply?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 35 – Focus on Jesus

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it  and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you. (Luke 19:41-44)

 

We are in our final week, often called Passion Week.   Passion is used in this context to refer to suffering.   At the start of our journey we recognized that a review of the Disciplines should not be a sterile academic exercise.   Instead this journey must be a journey of practical application.   This week we want to observe Jesus as our perfect demonstration of how a loving God shows up on the streets where we live with our joys and our pains, our highs and our lows.   It is in these real life settings, including settings of sufferings that the Disciplines can serve as tools to help us see a God who cares deeply about us.   As you observe Jesus in action this week please pay attention to how love is manifested and how the Disciplines serve as tools to help us address the real issues of life that we face – loss of a loved one, broken relationships, illness, loss of a job, etc.

There is one discipline we haven’t looked at as yet this year which will feature extensively, the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare.   If you need to read up on this Discipline remember that you can go to the www.40daysofdiscipline.com website and click on the Disciplines tab.

Today we start with a passage describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem after his ride on the colt to the adulation of many in the crowd and frustration of the Pharisees.   Please prayerfully read the passage and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  •  What does this passage teach us about how Jesus shows up for us, and what Disciplines do you see manifested?
  • How could you use these lessons to help someone suffering?

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 34 – Review

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

 

It is time to review what you have learned this week about the Disciplines of Service and Stewardship viewed through the lens of love.

Please prayerfully consider our conversations over the past week.   This blog site makes it quite easy to review thoughts and comments from the past week if you need a refresh.   Please answer the following questions:

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • What are the top three or four “big ideas” that you picked up during the past week?
  • What practical steps can you take to make the Disciplines of Service and the Stewardship more of a habit?

Next week is the final week for this years’ journey.   As we consider the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, we will see how Disciplines we have discussed are manifested.   In addition we will consider one Discipline not yet discussed, Spiritual Warfare.   Finally, as we have done throughout this Journey, we will observe the key role of love.


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 33 – Stewardship

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.   He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.   “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.   All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

 

Our Feature Friday Discipline is the Discipline of Stewardship.   Stewardship is unfortunately often limited to discussions about tithes and offerings but it obviously encompasses a whole lot more.   God is interested in everything He has allowed us to steward (time, talent, treasure, loved ones, etc.), and He deserves to be trusted with everything when we consider His great love for us.

In the passage for our consideration today it is obvious that Jesus was impressed with the poor widow.   When Jesus is impressed with someone I think we should pay attention.   Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer today’s questions.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  •  What does the action of the poor widow say about her view of God?
  • In your view why is stewardship important?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 32 – Service

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

 

Today let’s consider the priority of the Discipline of Service in our lives.   The story of the washing of the feet of the disciples is a signature object lesson.   Jesus clearly uses the occasion to emphasize the priority that having a servant heart should have in the life of His disciples.   The passage above captures Jesus’ teaching on the act he has just performed.   Please prayerfully read the passage and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions for comments:

  • How would you rate the priority that the Discipline of Service has in your life?
  • How can we promote the Discipline of Service more in our churches?

Tomorrow we will consider the discipline of stewardship.