Poncho Liner Poverty

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Luke 9: 57-58

It was the middle of winter in the mountains and all we had to sleep in was a slightly quilted piece of nylon called a Poncho Liner. It was originally made for use in the tropics of Vietnam. Life was rough and I can assure you there was more shivering than sleeping. These kind of sacrifices are part of being a soldier. Following Jesus is the same. When Jesus answered the one who wanted to follow Him, He said it will take sacrifice. We need to be as hardcore about our faith as a soldier is about his profession. “Come out of your comfort zone.” I think that’s what Jesus was saying to this would-be recruit. Do you find your faith taking you out of your comfort zone? Jesus says that’s normal.

Application: Step out of your spiritual comfort zone today and tell someone what Jesus has done for you.

Day 6: Pressing the Envelope for the Kingdom

Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep
(Luke 9:32)

I know men and women in the ministry that I call Warhorses. They are committed to the hilt and run to the point of being expended, pressing the envelope physically and spiritually. They will show up to Bible study or chapel after a week in the field. Hungry and tired, they still make it a priority to minister to others. I think Jesus and His disciples had reached the point of being totally expended by “pressing the envelope” several times in their ministry (Jesus was asleep during a storm (Mat 8.24), not being able to eat a meal (Mark 3.20), asleep in the garden (Mat 26.40).  Jesus left us an example of a work ethic that we seldom hear preached today. Obviously, rest has its place but are we pressing ourselves for the King and Kingdom?

Application: Next time you’re tired and don’t want to have that time in the Word and prayer, meet with a mentor, or gather in church, take it the extra mile and do it anyways.

Field – When soldiers practice simulated battle conditions in all kinds of trained and weather.

Christmas Day: Underwear Again!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
(James 1:17)

Remember as a kid when you would get underwear for Christmas. Man, there ought to be a law against putting wrapping paper on underwear or socks or any such mundane things. Tomorrow morning will no doubt be very disappointing for both young and old because they weren’t given the gifts they really wanted (its one of the trappings of our materialistic society). But aren’t you glad that the real Christmas gift has already been given? Jesus is the perfect gift for those who will trust and follow Him. So tomorrow morning when you get another pair of underwear, a tie, or a new blender, be thankful to the giver and whisper a prayer of thankfulness to your Father in Heaven for HIS perfect gifts.

Application: Do an inventory of top ten gifts God has given you this year and thank Him for each one

Day 7: Can You Hear That?

Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools…
(Ecclesiastes 5:1)

When approaching the target a good reconnaissance begins by using the ears before the eyes. When approaching the Throne of Grace it is the same, the ears first. God puts a premium on the listener/learner. As you read or listen to the Word of God, is your brain on transmit or receive? Remember, God’s not after your attendance, He’s after your heart.

Application: When you finish reading your devotions or hearing a sermon, ask yourself, “What is God trying to tell me?” Then write it down.

Day 8: Just One Thing

“Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
(Luke 8:39)

This is an amazing turn of events in one man’s life. He is released from the bondage of suffering and pain in a demonic state and given a new life. And Jesus only asks him to do one thing. Think about that for just one second, of all the things Jesus could have told him to do, this was the one thing He commanded. “Go home and tell others the great things I’ve done for you.” Just one thing. Are you doing this “One Thing?”

Application: In the next week tell three people about what Jesus has done for you and why Christmas is so important to you.


Day 9: The Old Man Wants to See You

And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
(Luke 7:40)

When someone in authority wanted to see me, I always assumed the worst. Call me a pessimist but I don’t think I’m alone. Why is it that almost all of us respond to these words with anxiety rather than joy. Could it be that we know ourselves too well? How would we respond if we heard “God wants to talk to you.” Wouldn’t it elicit some of the same fears? In all actuality, I think it’s a good thing, its a healthy sense of fear that keeps us humble, repentant, and real. I am a sinner, saved by grace! (See Isaiah 6.1-6)


Day 10: Two Different Ministries, One Affect

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
(Luke 7:33-35)

I had been easing my buddy into a position of a palatable presentation of the gospel for two months. At the end of training one day, a zealous brother approached us, slammed a little New Testament on the desk and said: “Read this!” Not my style and I was a little put out but asked my buddy what he thought. He replied, “I kind of needed a kick in the pants, I think I’ll start reading it.” Different ministry approaches are not necessarily wrong.