40 Days of Discipline


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 40 – Passion Week

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.  (Mark 15:42-47)

 

Good Friday changed the course of human history.  For those who were actual participants in the events, when Saturday came many would have been without hope.  Even those close to Jesus didn’t know what was coming.  Often we also find ourselves in circumstances that seem hopeless.  Unlike the contemporaries of Jesus though, we know that Sunday came, resurrection came, eternal life came and hopelessness is dispelled.  Tomorrow we celebrate the foundation of salvation for disciples of Jesus.  We also celebrate the basis for hope in all our circumstances.

You will recall that when we started our journey we assessed where we were in the practice of the Disciplines using the table below.

    Level of Discipline
Discipline What success looks like High Medium Low
         
Bible Study A habit of regular Bible study.      
Prayer A habit of praying in all circumstances.      
Worship A lifestyle of submission to God.      
Fellowship Commitment not to “go it alone” but rather to grow with other believers.      
Fasting Periodically sacrificing our natural desires for a deeper relationship with Jesus.      
Creation An attitude of enjoying God’s creation.      
Stewardship Daily choosing to submit to God’s agenda since he owns everything.      
Spiritual Warfare Recognizing and resisting temptations.      
Service Daily choosing to go where Jesus would go and do what Jesus would do.      
Sabbath Commitment to setting apart a day for rest.      
Counsel A humble spirit which leads to seeking and receiving wise advice.      

I encourage you to keep assessing yourself throughout the year, and remember that in this regard there is great hope as well.  We can look forward to living the Disciplines 365/366 days of the year with renewed vigor, through the power of the resurrection, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for participating in this Journey.  May God richly bless you as you use the Disciplines as a tool to strengthen your love for God and man!

Please read the passage above and consider the request below.

Today’s Request:

If you feel led please share your thoughts on the Resurrection and your commitment to practice the Disciplines for God’s glory.


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 39 – Passion Week

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.  45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).  47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”  48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”  50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.  54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”  (Matthew 27:38-54)

 

On this penultimate day of our 40 Days of Discipline Journey we observe how Jesus related to the world during Passion Week.

Every year around Easter there is a debate about the historical accuracy of the dates designated for Easter.  Is the exact date really a material issue?  No, but the events celebrated certainly are.  The historical significance of the Good Friday events cannot be overemphasized and they are worthy of deep contemplation and sincere celebration.  We remember that on a hill, on a cross, Jesus became sin for us and paved the way for reconciliation between us and God – all because God loves us.  That makes for a very Good Friday!

Please read the passage above and consider the request below.

Today’s Request:

Please share your thoughts of gratitude for God’s amazing demonstration of love.

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 38 – Passion Week

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:1-5)

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36)

 

We have now observed how Jesus related to his countrymen, the religious establishment, and his His disciples during Passion Week.  Today, we focus on how Jesus related to His Father.  The two passages presented above, capture Jesus talking to His Father shortly before His crucifixion.  We are fortunate to get front row seats to intimate conversations.  There are certainly lessons here about Prayer, Worship, Stewardship, and other Disciplines.  What is really exciting though, is the visible model of a relationship with our heavenly Father that all believers should yearn for.

Please read the passages and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions:

  1. The passages tell us a lot about how Jesus related to His father.  What stands out for you?
  2. What lessons can you incorporate into your life?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 37 – Passion Week

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  (John 13:3-5)

 12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:12-15)

 

Over the last two days we have observed how Jesus related to his countrymen and the religious establishment during Passion Week.  Today, we turn our attention to how Jesus related to His disciples during the same week.  Fellowship, counsel and service are in full display in our passages for today.

Jesus is a master teacher and He invested a lot into His disciples.  The fact that He chose to teach the disciples in the way that He did shortly before his crucifixion should be very instructive to us, and we would do well to pay attention.

Please read the passages above and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions:

  1. To what extent is the example that Jesus set reflected in the interactions you have with other believers?
  2. How can you follow the example of Jesus more closely in you interactions with fellow believers?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 36 – Passion Week

45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”  47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.  (Luke 19:45-48)

 

Passion Week presents a great opportunity to reflect on all that Jesus does for us.  As a secondary objective, we can also reinforce some of the lessons we have learned about the Disciplines during our 40 days journey.

Yesterday we observed how Jesus related to his countrymen with deep compassion.  Today we observe how he related to a subset of his countrymen, the religious establishment.  Throughout His entire time on earth Jesus and the religious establishment did not see eye to eye.  Passion Week was no different.  Interestingly, the religious establishment professed to practice the Disciplines but Jesus saw right through them.

Please read the passage and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions:

  1. How would you characterize spiritual acts that would provoke the kind of response displayed by Jesus in the temple?
  2. Based on the passage, what are some pitfalls we need to guard against as we attempt to practice the Disciplines?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 35 – Passion Week

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 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. 43 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. 44 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)

 

The 40 Days of Discipline journey is partially driven by a realization that we live in a microwave age where many expect quick favorable outcomes without much sacrifice.  While our salvation is absolutely free and requires no work on our part, spiritual growth requires discipline.  Thank you for staying with us on this journey to make the Disciplines a part of our daily lives.  We now consider the special week of Christ’s Passion (or suffering).

Throughout our journey this year we have observed how Jesus serves as the perfect example in living the Disciplines.  During this final week we will continue to focus on Jesus.  In doing so, we will observe how Jesus related to five audiences:  1) His countrymen, 2) the religious establishment, 3) His disciples, 4) His father, and 5) the world.  We will refer to the Disciplines where relevant, but our primary focus will be on Jesus and his amazing sacrifice for us.

Today we examine how Jesus related to his countrymen.  Directly after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, a powerful and touching story is told in the passage above.  Please read the passage and answer the questions below.

Today’s Questions:

  1. Despite having experienced shouts of hosanna, Jesus knew that His own people had rejected him.  What does the passage tell you about the heart of Jesus?
  2. What can you apply in your acts of service from your observation of Jesus?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 34 – Review

 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 

This was the week for the “not so popular” Disciplines.  I hope you concluded though, that practicing the Disciplines of Spiritual Warfare, Counsel, and Sabbath will enhance your spiritual growth.  I also hope you clearly saw how Jesus served again as our perfect example in the practice of the Disciplines.

Please review the thoughts that have been shared this week and respond to the question below.  There are some excellent thoughts shared in the comments so please consider these in your review as well.

Today’s Question:

We are all at different places in our Christian journey.  As you consider where you are, which of the three Disciplines we considered this week is the most relevant to you, and why?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 33 – Sabbath

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them,“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  (Mark 6:30-32)

 

In our review of the Disciplines of Spiritual Warfare and Counsel over the last four days we acknowledged that the two disciplines are not as popular as other Disciplines such as Prayer and Bible Study.  Well, the Discipline of the Sabbath also falls in the not so popular category.  This Discipline reminds us of the need to set aside a day for rest.  It is not a legalistic requirement but we can benefit greatly from the practicing this Discipline.  As we have done for all the other Disciplines we will examine how Jesus practiced the Discipline.

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

Today’s Questions:

  1. Do you struggle with the concept of a day of rest?
  2. How might our spiritual walk suffer from the absence of a day of rest?


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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?