Day 8

The disciples are needy in every way. They are simply “poor” (Luke 6:20). They have no security, no property to call their own, no piece of earth they could call their home, no earthly community to which they might fully belong. But they also have neither spiritual power of their own, nor experience or knowledge they can refer to and which could comfort them. For his sake, they have lost all that. When they followed him, they lost themselves and everything else which could have made them rich. Now they are so poor, so inexperienced, so foolish that they cannot hope for anything except him who called them.

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

Questions to Ponder

  • What kinds of poverty are there?
  • In the life of faith, what is the point of disciples being poor?
  • Bonhoeffer asserts that for Jesus’ sake disciples lose everything. Why would Jesus want that?

Psalm Fragment

As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God. Psalm 40:17

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect on why you would (or would not) consider yourself poor as a disciple of Jesus.
  • Could you imagine yourself as ever seeing poverty as a gift? Why, or why not?

Intercessions

Pray for the “rich” that they may have compassion for the “poor.” Pray for the “poor” that they may have compassion for the “rich.”

Prayer for Today

Lord, help me to lose everything for your sake and so discover all that I have and am in you.

Bible Gateway

Marriage, Day 1

Bible Gateway

Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 2:24, Exodus 20:14, Proverbs 5:18-19, Malachi 2:15-16, Matthew 19:6, 1 Corinthians 7:3, 1 Corinthians 7:10, 1 Corinthians 13:2, Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:18-19, and Hebrews 13:4.

There’s nothing wrong with moving up the ladder at work—unless we become married to the job. Those extra hours and nights and weekends often come with a heavy price tag: our marriages suffer. The consequences of that neglect can be devastating for the entire family.

Early on in our marriage, my wife, Lisa, was working at a bank to help support our family. At the time, the FBI was investigating her bank and she was one of many people interviewed in the process. A guy we went to church with was the lead investigator, and Lisa developed a friendship with him that turned into an unhealthy, inappropriate relationship. Although they were never intimate, they developed an emotional attachment that crossed the line of marital faithfulness. I was shocked and hurt when I learned about this, but I didn’t have a clue what to do. I decided to treat the whole situation like a near miss and move on. Looking back, I was wrong not to take the necessary time and effort to find out what was going on in my wife’s heart. In fact, I did the exact opposite. I berated her for her mistakes and threatened her that if she ever pulled a stunt like that again, I would be out of the picture.

The next ten years for us were tough. I graduated from preaching school and was hired by White’s Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, Louisiana. I felt blessed to serve my home congregation and worked hard to make a splash. As the new guy in the pulpit, I felt called to go the extra mile in my weekly sermon preparation, in serving others, and in traveling around the world preaching, teaching, and leading small groups. Yet as my ministry stock rose, my marriage stock was plummeting. Lisa felt left out, like she was living in my shadow. We were supposed to be “one flesh,” but my intense focus on my work was driving a wedge between us.

Gradually, the distance between us grew larger and larger. I could sense something sinister was going on, but I was either too busy or too afraid to dive in and deal with it. Then Lisa’s fourteen-month affair with an old friend came to light. My world crashed down around me. After a time of separation, counseling, and emotional healing, coupled with Lisa’s coming to a true faith in Christ, we were reconciled. Lisa and I totally understand what Christ had in mind when He told the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

After all this, you might say we’re experts in Christ’s forgiveness. I’ve learned to love this woman in a way I could never have dreamed of twenty-nine years ago. I’ve learned the hard way that I’ve got to balance my work with my marriage and family life. Today, when Lisa and I think back on those years of disunity, unfaithfulness, and impending divorce, and when we look into the faces of our daughters and our grandchildren, we’re both overwhelmed at what we could have lost were it not for God’s abounding grace.

By Al Robertson

Bible Gateway

Breaking the Ice – Day 1

Today’s reading is drawn from Matthew 28:19.

A few years back, the creek down the hill from my house froze over solid. I’d never seen a phenomenon like that in all my years. The temperature dropped low enough to make a snowman shiver. I figured anyone with a lick of sense would stay inside like I was doing. That’s when I heard a banging sound outdoors. I bundled up and walked down to the mouth of the creek to see who or what was making all that racket. This was back in the day when I was able to let folks come and go on my property as they pleased, to launch a boat or whatnot.

When I walked to the riverbank, I spied an aluminum boat with two young bucks in there thrashing about. They were maybe fifteen, sixteen years old. One dude was hitting and breaking the ice with his wooden paddle. He’d cut a path about twenty feet out into the creek. “What are you boys fixin’ on doing?” I asked.

They looked up, startled to see me. The older boy, “Curly Don,” said to the other, “That’s him!”

You might say in this part of the country I’m a bit of a legendary figure. I’ve managed to win the respect of the locals, who’ve watched me work hard and grow the Duck Commander business. To some of the rednecks, however, I scare the daylights out of them. You have to remember: when they’re dealing with me, there’s always a Bible within arm’s reach. To a redneck, a Bible in the hand of an ex-drunk is scarier than a guy with an Uzi. They’re thinking, Don’t mess with that ol’ cat because he’s gonna start preachin’ to you and everything else around. They see me and my Bible and they start tearing up the road. But these dudes were clearly fans. After getting over their initial shock, they answered, “We’re gonna go duck huntin’ up the creek about a mile or so.”

“Without a motor?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you realize that even if you could bust the ice for a mile, it’d be refreezing right behind you?” They hadn’t thought of that and, of course, they didn’t have the proper clothes to keep warm. They were just a couple of rednecks with their shotguns.

I said, “Boys, you don’t want to try that. You’ll get tangled up out there and you’re likely to freeze to death. Get out of that boat; I’ll take you.”

After we shot a bunch of ducks, I invited them to swing by the house to talk whenever they had a chance. Curly Don took me up on that offer and got to hanging around to learn about God. He eventually gave his heart to Jesus and he’s been a member of our church for probably twenty or twenty-five years.

Here’s the deal. The Bible says we’re supposed to make disciples of all the nations, right? But that’s not just the work of missionaries in faraway places. Literally. When I ran up on those boys trying to break the ice, I could have run them off my property, or I could have ignored them and let them be. When I offered to take them duck hunting, I was thinking of their eternal souls. The hunting was just a way to make the first connection.

Phil Robertson

Doctrine: Twisted Human Motives and God’s Grace, Day 1

Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 11:1-9 and Ephesians 2:8-9.

The problem with the people of Babel was not that they wanted to be near to God — don’t we all? No, the problem was that they wanted to make a name for themselves. They were hungry for power and glory, and they were willing to go to great lengths to acquire it. A Chinese proverb says, “Those who think they are building a mound may only in reality be digging a pit.” We often secretly hope that our deeds and aspirations for promotions and acts of service will attract recognition or even earn God’s approval. But we soon discover they may only drive us further from God and wreak havoc in our lives and the lives of others. When God saw the tower that the people of Babel were building, he said, “Nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6), so he confused their language and disrupted their work. It’s as if God had said, “If I let their sin go unchecked, there is no telling how much worse it will get.” So there is grace even in this judgment: God graciously restrains us from digging our own graves, so to speak.

Bible Gateway