Have You Heard about Daybreak and Discovery?
Reading the Bible is different from studying the Bible. When we read the Bible, we go through a portion of text at a natural pace. When we study, we slow down and ponder. We ask questions and search out meanings. We consider the author, context, and background. We are on a quest for a deeper-than-surface understanding and we recognize that acquiring this will take effort.
In today’s fast-paced culture, there is a tendency to desire instant results, and that mindset can creep into our Bible study habits. We may need to resist an inclination to “check the box”—to try to read a portion of Scripture and understand it as quickly as possible. The Bible is best studied slowly. For example, we could probably read the third chapter of James in a few minutes, but we can study it much longer—and learning to apply the principles expounded there will take longer yet! We might be able to read the whole epistle of James in half an hour, but we can never get to the end of searching its depths. And the same is true of every other book in the Word of God as well.
The Bible contains all the information we need to make it to Heaven, but if we merely read wherever we happen to open to on any given day, we are almost certain to miss some vital instruction. Having a systematic method of studying will be helpful in putting God’s Word deep into our hearts.
To assist us in this, the Apostolic Faith organization is producing a comprehensive Bible study program that will guide participants through the entire Word of God in a three-year period. The materials provided for each book include a prescribed text reading for each day, devotionals to go with each text passage, background information, a timeline showing where the book fits in the sequence of Biblical events, a coordinating Sunday school or group study lesson, and a variety of supplemental information.
The material for personal study is titled Daybreak, and each Daybreak unit contains three months of daily devotionals.
Each Biblical book or epistle covered in a Daybreak unit begins with an overview that provides information about the book’s author, recipient, date, and setting. The overview also identifies any significant themes and/or unique aspects of the book. An outline of the book’s chapters and a timeline, along with occasional maps and charts are also part of the materials offered.
Each book of the Bible has been divided into daily text blocks that vary in length. These are the foundation for the daily devotional that is based on a key verse or verses in the day’s text. The devotionals typically include an illustration or application from daily life, an inspirational point, and a challenge or uplifting thought to encourage the readers.
Background information—material designed to expand the readers’ understanding of the Scripture text—follows each devotional article. This section offers a brief summary of the Bible passage, provides an explanation of key points, and offers facts about the setting, culture, geographic region, or era. It also defines unfamiliar words in the passage, or explains the implication of words in the original language.
Readers can assess their comprehension of the text of the day by answering three or four thought-provoking questions that reinforce key points. A brief conclusion summarizes each day’s devotional with an inspirational thought or challenge.
As a supplement to the Daybreak daily devotionals, a companion study titled Discovery that is built around the same books of the Bible is available for use in a Sunday school or group-study setting. Although personal study is necessary to really knowing the Word of God, we can gain valuable insight by working through questions and sharing perspectives in a group session. Reviewing together what we have learned in independent Bible study can reinforce key points and broaden our understanding of each passage.
Discovery Teacher’s Guides offer those who lead these group sessions additional insights and discussion questions designed to encourage group interaction.
On our website
The Daybreak daily devotionals, Discovery lessons for group study, and Discovery Teachers Guides are all available free of charge on our website, with Daybreak lessons available in both print and audio versions.
- To access the Daybreak devotionals for the unit currently being studied, click on “Daily Devotional” under “Library” in the main menu.
- To access the Discovery lessons and the Discovery Teacher’s Guide for the unit currently being studied, click on “Sunday School” under “Library” in the main menu.
- To view the full list of available units, click on “Curriculum” under “Library” in the main menu, then select “Daybreak for Students,” “Discovery for Students,” or “Discovery for Teachers.”
- To subscribe to have Daybreak sent to your inbox each day, visit enter your name and email address on the Daily Devotional page mentioned above.
The unit currently being studied can also be accessed on our free app for mobile devices, which you can download at www.apostolicfaith.org/app.
Proverbs 4:20-22 says, “My son, attend to my word; incline thine ear unto my sayings. . . . For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” The Daybreak and Discovery study program offers us a great opportunity to delve into Scripture in a systematic manner and apply what we learn to our lives.
In the fall of 2019, a new unit of Daybreak and Discovery materials will be available, covering the books of Luke, Acts, James, Galatians, and Romans. The Daybreak lessons will appear as daily devotionals beginning August 20, 2019. Here we have provided a sample lesson from the unit. We encourage you to participate in studying these important New Testament books with us!
DAYBREAK FOR JAMES 3:1-18
Focus Verse: “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5)
On October 8, 2017, wind blasted through northern California, spreading a series of wildfires at an alarming rate. Flames raced from tree to tree, and then house to house, faster than a car could drive. What was once a few small, contained blazes became collectively the most devastating wildfire in the history of the United States, burning nearly 245,000 acres and causing at least $9.4 billion in insured damages.1
In our text, James compared the devastation of fire to the devastation that can come from uncontrolled words. How many times have words wounded a heart, damaged trust, or caused a person to stumble in his or her faith? Although James was specifically addressing teachers and spiritual leaders in this portion of his letter, his words should remind us all how important it is to control our tongues.
Catherine Marshall, an American inspirational author and wife of twice-appointed Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall, discovered through personal experience the importance of controlling one’s words. She had drifted into a habit of being critical of others, justifying her tendency toward negative speech by telling herself that God gave us intelligence to analyze and evaluate. However, she felt the Lord dealing with her about this, and eventually decided to try a one-day experiment — just for one day, she would refrain from criticism.
Within a few short hours, she realized this was not going to be easy! She was surprised to realize just how much of her daily conversations had been judgmental in nature. It took real effort to hold her tongue, and eventually she found herself simply sitting silently through a good portion of the day. However, through that experiment, God helped her learn a valuable lesson about the importance of being careful how she spoke.
Words can also be written, and a less-than-kind comment on social media can have just as much impact as a thoughtlessly spoken jab. Conversely, a quick email or text message of encouragement to a friend can be just as much of a blessing as a quietly voiced word of comfort or appreciation.
The key is control. If we control fire, we can use it to cook our food, warm our bodies, and light up a dark night. If we control our tongues, we can use that power to honor God and to benefit others. So let us purpose to be careful with our words! They have great power to affect others, and could lead to eternal consequences.
The third chapter of James can be divided into two sections. Verses 1-12 deal with controlling the tongue, and verses 13-18 address the topic of genuine wisdom, or wisdom from above.
The Apostle began by specifically addressing leaders in the ministry. The word masters in verse 1 is the Greek word didaskaloi; it could also be translated as “teachers.” James knew these spiritual leaders had great influence over the followers of Christ, and for that reason, they would be held more accountable, facing greater judgment for careless words. James was not suggesting they refrain from becoming teachers but rather that if they became teachers, to do so knowing they would have a higher degree of accountability.
James continued with a common Jewish literary device of attributing fault to a specific member of the body; in this case, the tongue. In verses 3-4, he used two objects to illustrate his point: a bit and a rudder. A bit is a relatively small device, but when put into a horse’s mouth, it can control the animal. The same is true of a ship’s rudder. While insignificant when compared to the size of the ship, it dictates the direction of the vessel, even in a strong wind.
In verses 5-6, James likened the damage the tongue can do to that of a fire. The tongue’s unrighteous words or “world of iniquity” can spread devastation swiftly. The “course of nature” refers to the whole course of life.
James mentions a variety of living creatures in verse 7, asserting that while these could be tamed, no man could tame the tongue. This was not to imply the tongue cannot ever be tamed; James understood that God can tame it. The word “tamed” occurs in only one other New Testament passage, which was when the demoniac of Gadara was healed (Mark 5:4).
The Apostle pointed out in verse 9 that human beings were made “after the similitude” or in the image of God. This gives the reason for his assertion that the tongue should never be used to curse another human being — because doing so would essentially be cursing the image of God.
In verses 10-11, James spoke of a moral contradiction — that the tongue is capable of both good and bad speech. His point was that in Christians, “these things ought not so to be” because such contradictory words are unlike God, evil or deliberately injurious words being the fruit of an evil or corrupted heart.
In verse 13, James began his description of genuine wisdom that comes from above by making the case that true wisdom can be measured by behavior. In verses 14-16, he described the wisdom that is carnal, and condemned “bitter envying” and “strife” as being “earthly, sensual, devilish.” “Bitter envying” indicates a harsh, resentful attitude toward others. “Devilish” (diamoniodes) refers to something that proceeds from Satan and is characteristic of the spirit of demons. Earthly wisdom reflects the deception of Satan and is foolishness in the sight of God. It is self-seeking, of this world, and demonic, and ends in confusion and strife.
Then James contrasted this earthly or carnal wisdom with the wisdom that is from above (verses 17-18). The eight characteristics of godly wisdom that he listed align closely with Paul’s fruit of the Spirit (given in Galatians 5:22-23). The first characteristic is “pure,” which in this context means “unmixed with evil.” Godly purity is a result of inward cleansing. Combined with the following manifestations, these two verses provide a picture of wisdom that resembles and patterns after the nature of God.
Hannah’s Bible Outlines
Used by permission per WORDsearch
VII. Faith and the tongue (3:1-12)
A. The misuse of the tongue (3:1)
B. The control of the tongue (3:2)
C. The description of the tongue (3:3-12)
1. Its power (3:3-4)
2. Its destructiveness (3:5-6)
3. Its untamableness (3:7-8)
4. Its inconsistency (3:9-12)
VIII. Faith and wisdom (3:13-18)
A. The principle (3:13)
B. The nature of earthly wisdom (3:14-16)
C. The nature of heavenly wisdom (3:17-18)
A Closer Look
1. In verse 8, what did James say filled the uncontrolled tongue?
2. What are some types of negative or ungodly speech that would fit with James’ assertion that the tongue is an “unruly evil” (verse 8)?
3. What are some types of godly speech that we can and should cultivate as Christians?
We want our speech and behavior to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and used in ways that are pleasing to God.