Monday, September 2
Theme for the week:
Disciples Love Through
Loving Actions

Ephesians 4:22-5:2

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 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.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,  just as in Christ God forgave you.
~Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

The bible verse quoted above is a good recipe for discipleship in action. Be kind; be compassionate; forgive. The opposite – displaying a lack of kindness, indifference, or unwillingness to forgive – will likely end any discipleship opportunity that may have existed.

Words of love can be nice, but words of love without actions of love ring hollow and empty. God our Father, out of the kindness of His heart, sent His Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior (see Titus 3:4-6). This is God’s love in action. In fact, Jesus Himself is God’s love in action. That love and kindness enables God to forgive you – in Christ. Now – in Christ – we are to be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other.

• In Christ, I am forgiven and as a dearly loved child of God, I will walk in the way of love, just as Christ loves me and gave himself up for me as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

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Prayer

Father God, I want to be like you, kind-hearted and full of compassion. I want to learn to forgive even as I have learned that I am forgiven through Jesus Christ my Savior. Let it be so for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Tuesday, September 3
God’s Mission

John 15:9-17

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
~ Jesus

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Pondering Point

John 15:12 is not merely a command to love each other; it is the way in which we are commanded to love each other that captures the essence of Jesus’ words: Love the way that Jesus loved.

In light of this, make a list of how Jesus loved people. Do a search on the Internet to help. Better yet, grab a physical bible and do the search yourself.

How did He love His disciples, the crowds, His friends (like Mary, Martha and Lazarus), His enemies, His family? How did he love the poor, the sick, the outcast, and the foreigners? After making the list, pick a few items to pray over and ask God to help you become more like Jesus – in these specific ways.

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Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to love people as you love people, especially my fellow disciples. Specifically I ask that You help me in these ways… (taken from your list above) When you are done, simply close with “Amen”.

Wednesday, September 4
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

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Pondering Point

The Apostle Paul is encouraging his son-in-the-faith Timothy (and those being led by Timothy) to a habit of prayer. Let it be an encouragement toward your habit of prayer also. Imagine this brief conversation between you and God:
    You: God my Father, how can I please You today?
    God: Pray my child; this pleases Me.

That seems straightforward. But how should we pray and what should we pray about. Drawn from the 1 Timothy 2:1-4 reading above, you will find below brief definitions of Paul’s words to describe the God-pleasing activity of praying we’re urged into:

  • Petition: A request appealing to an authority with respect to a particular cause.
  • Prayer: A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.
  • Intercession: The act of intervening on behalf of another.
  • Thanksgiving: Expressions of gratitude, especially to God.
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Prayer

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (above) a few times. Based on the bible verses (“all people,” “those in authority”), who comes to mind for you? Write down the people (and their situations) that God brings to mind – and pray for them. This pleases our Lord!

Thursday, September 5
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

Exodus 33:12-13

Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 

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Pondering Point

This prayer of Moses comes at a time when God has been voicing his displeasure with a pattern of stubborn disobedience among His people. Moses uses favor he has with God (vs. 12) to appeal for help in leading these stubborn people. We know that all Christians have favor with God thanks to Jesus, and we also can use that favor to appeal to God for such (stubborn) sinners.

This is in keeping with yesterday’s teaching on prayer and is therefore a God-pleasing work. Let’s Re-center our lives around God again in light of the pleading of Moses for others.

Review the week

Do I believe that I have God’s favor thanks to Jesus? Do I believe that God is pleased when I come to Him in prayer and petition? Do I believe God will bless others specifically because I come to Him in prayer about them?

Repent (if necessary)

You may need to repent of discounting your prayer potential, underestimating your favorable influence with God, or of failing to intercede for others in their time of trouble (self-inflicted or otherwise).

Return (as necessary)

Acknowledge that YOU are an intercessor. Through your faith in Jesus, you can approach God knowing that He is pleased with your presence and desires your prayerful input. Thank Him for such favor and ask for a deepening awareness of your powerful praying role. Then present your requests to God our Savior.

Friday, September 6
Discipleship Point and Prayer

If you have any hope of discipling someone to Christ, you must be sure that they find you approachable and that they feel free to share anything with you, even something they see in your life that needs attention. If spiritual leaders do not have men and women around them willing to tell them the truth and if they do not welcome such truth, the very life of the church is endangered.

p. 88,89, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

Father God, help me learn to be attentive to others’ situations and to be approachable as a friend or spiritual mentor. Show me how to be honest and compassionate. Open my eyes even now to what I have previously overlooked…

(pause and listen for a response as He may bring people to mind. Consider if there may be action you could pursue with these people…)

…Amen.

Discipleship Point about Being a Witness

What is the authenticating mark to the unbelieving world that we are followers of Jesus Christ? Sacrificial love as exemplified in Jesus’ voluntary death on the cross is to be reflected in the way Christians relate to each other. This kind of love is so out of step with the world's way that unbelievers will take notice.
(Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 147).
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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, let my love be a sacrificial, others-first type of love: Patient and kind, without envy, boasting, or pride. May my love be indiscriminate, shared willingly with all people. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, September 7
Scripture's Story for the Week

1 Samuel 17

David and Goliath

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

1 Samuel 17 is the bible chapter that describes the battle between the young shepherd boy David and the seasoned giant of a soldier named Goliath. It is an oft-told story of the bible, but not the focus today. Instead we look at what led up to that day, including David’s testimony about training he received while protecting sheep. From David’s perspective, God had been preparing him for this battle through his shepherding days and skills. While David was not a soldier in the eyes of other men yet, he was ready thanks to God.

How might God be shaping you, using your past experiences to prepare you for situations or battles that could deliver not just you but other people from enemies that plague them?

Enjoy, learn from, and be challenged by today's story from God's word. Don't forget to consider to whom you might retell the story as a way to internalize it in your own life and share the word of God with others. This is an act of discipleship and can be an act of love for your neighbor.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, thank You for providing opportunities to hone my skills and shape my faith and character over the years. May I learn from them, producing in me, as Hebrews 10:11 puts it, a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, September 8
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

2 Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.

We are often looking for peace in relation to stormy weather in our lives. May the Lord give you peace in the storm and after the storm – even before the storm. May the Lord give you peace in your heart and mind, in your spirit and body, May He, the Lord of Peace, give you peace in relationship with Him and with others.

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Prayer for the Day

Lord God, grant this blessing to… (name particular people). Amen.

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