BONHOEFFER 1-10

Day 10

No rights they might claim protect this community of strangers in the world. Nor do they claim any such rights, for they are the meek, who renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ. When they are berated, they are quiet. When violence is done to them, they endure it. When they are cast out, they yield. They do not sue for their rights; they do not make a scene when injustice is done to them. They do not want rights of their own.… But Jesus says, they will inherit the earth. The earth belongs to those who are without rights and power. Those who now possess the earth with violence and injustice will lose it, and those who renounce it here, who were meek unto the cross, will rule over the new earth.

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

Questions to Ponder

  • What does it mean to say that disciples “renounce all rights of their own for the sake of Jesus Christ”?
  • Why would disciples “not want rights of their own”?
  • Should followers of Jesus be non-violent in their response to evil?
  • In what sense can it be said that: “The earth belongs to those who are without rights and power”?

Psalm Fragment

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
   you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
   to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
   so that those from earth may strike terror no more. Psalm 10:17-18

Journal Reflections

  • Are there any rights that you would rather defend than “renounce…for the sake of Jesus Christ”? Explain.
  • Think of the way you do life and live in relationships. Would you call yourself meek? Why, or why not?
  • Is there a situation in your life now where you need the gift of meekness? If so, write about it. What might be different in that situation if you were truly meek? What do you need to do?

Intercessions

Pray for the powerful, the arrogant, those who clamor most for their own rights, that they might become truly meek and seek the good of others rather than their own good.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, help me to renounce my own rights for your sake. Give me the gift of meekness and make me an “instrument of your peace.”

Day 9

Every additional Beatitude deepens the breach between the disciples and the people. The disciples’ call becomes more and more visible. Those who mourn are those who are prepared to renounce and live without everything the world calls happiness and peace. They are those who cannot be brought into accord with the world, who cannot conform to the world. They mourn over the world, its guilt, its fate, and its happiness…. No one understands people better than Jesus’ community. No one loves people more than Jesus’ disciples․that is why they stand apart, why they mourn; it is meaningful and lovely that Luther translates the Greek word for what is blessed with “to bear suffering.” The important part is the bearing. The community of disciples does not shake off suffering, as if they had nothing to do with it. Instead they bear it. In doing so, they give witness to their connection with the people around them. At the same time this indicates that they do not arbitrarily seek suffering, that they do not withdraw into willful contempt for the world. Instead, they bear what is laid upon them and what happens to them in discipleship for the sake of Jesus Christ. Finally, disciples will not be weakened by suffering, worn down, and embittered until they are broken. Instead, they bear suffering, by the power of him who supports them. The disciples bear the suffering laid on them only by the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross. As bearers of suffering, they stand in communion with the Crucified. They stand as strangers in the power of him who was so alien to the world that it crucified him.

Biblical Wisdom

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Questions to Ponder

  • Practically speaking, what does it mean to “mourn over the world”?
  • How can a “community of disciples” bear suffering in a way that is healthy and redemptive?
  • How can individual Christians and communities of faith not be conformed to the world and yet not hold the world in contempt?
  • As Christians bear suffering for the sake of the world, how do they engage “the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross”?

Psalm Fragment

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
   you have taken off my sackcloth
   and clothed me with joy,
   so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:11-12

Journal Reflections

  • List the times when you have mourned “over the world.”
  • Reflect on your experience of such mourning. What was it like? What did you do? How did you feel? What resources helped you live through your mourning?
  • Have you ever had to bear suffering because of your Christian faith? Write about the experience. What did you learn from the experience?

Intercessions

Pray for world, “its guilt, its fate, and its happiness.” Pray for those who suffer from the world’s injustice, that they may find justice. Pray for the unjust, that they might experience repentance, find forgiveness, be filled with compassion, and begin to do justice.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, give me such compassion and love for our hurting world that I might truly mourn for all who suffer in any way.

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.

Day 7

Do not worry! Earthly goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry. But in truth, they are what cause anxiety. The heart which clings to goods receives with them the choking burden of worry. Worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries. We desire to secure our lives with earthly goods; we want our worrying to make us worry-free, but the truth is the opposite. The chains which bind us to earthly goods, the clutches which hold the goods tight, are themselves worries.

Abuse of earthly goods consists of using them as a security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. But the goods are intended only for today in the strictest sense. It is our securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today. It is enough that each day should have its own troubles. Only those who put tomorrow completely into God’s hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure. Receiving daily liberates me from tomorrow.

Biblical Wisdom

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:33-34

Questions to Ponder

  • If “worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries,” how might one stop worrying?
  • How can we tell the difference between what we really “need” for our lives and what we think we need but really only want? Can we be content with what we really need?
  • Practically speaking, what would it mean to stop our “abuse of earthly goods” and “put tomorrow completely into God’s hand”?

Psalm Fragment

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
   All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
   and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
   in your light we see light. Psalm 36:7-9

Journal Reflections

  • Write down your worries of today.
  • Reflect on why you have these worries.
  • How many of them have to do with things you have or want to have?
  • Explore ways in which trusting God for today and tomorrow might relieve your worry and fear.

Intercessions

Pray for the people you know who are worried or afraid. Ask God to deliver them from their worries by increasing their trust in God’s providential care.

Prayer for Today

Lord, I place my worries in your gracious hand and live this day trusting that you are with me and that what I have is more than I need.

Day 6

Goods are given to us to be used, but not to be stored away. Just as Israel in the desert received manna daily from God and did not have to worry about food and drink, and just as the manna which was stored from one day for another rotted, so should Jesus’ disciples receive their share daily from God. But if they store it up as lasting treasure, they will spoil both the gift and themselves. The heart clings to collected treasure. Stored–up possessions get between me and God. Where my treasure is, there is my trust, my security, my comfort, my God. Treasure means idolatry.

But where is the boundary between the goods I am supposed to use and the treasure I am not supposed to have? If we turn the statement around and say, What your heart clings to is your treasure, then we have the answer. It can be a very modest treasure; it is not a question of size. Everything depends on the heart, on you. If I continue to ask how can I recognize what my heart clings to, again there is a clear and simple answer: everything which keeps you from loving God above all things, everything which gets between you and your obedience to Jesus is the treasure to which your heart clings.

Biblical Wisdom

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Matthew 6:31-32

Questions to Ponder

  • In our consumerist, acquisitive culture, how can we know when enough is enough?
  • If “treasure means idolatry,” how might a community of faith both sanction and promote idolatry?
  • If we “loved God above all things,” how might our relationship to “all things” change?

Psalm Fragment

The eyes of all look to you,
   and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand,
   satisfying the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
   and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect (as honestly as you can) upon your particular idolatries, on those things (or people) to which your heart clings in such a way that they get between you and your obedience to Jesus.
  • Wonder in your journal about what you might do to turn your heart from such idols to God.

Intercessions

Pray that you, your family, and friends (name them) might have the wisdom to identify your idols and the grace to let them go and love God above all things.

Prayer for Today

Lord, may my true treasure be knowing you and following you. May nothing stand in the way of your love for me and my love for you.

Day 5

Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the Christian life. Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the great things as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think that we should not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be seeking the great gifts. Then we complain that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experiences that God has given to other Christians, and we consider these complaints to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?

Biblical Wisdom

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name.... Isaiah 12:1-4

Questions to Ponder

  • What are the cultural forces in our society that work against the experience and expression of thankfulness?
  • What are the “small gifts” we receive from God each day?
  • How could such “small gifts” be affirmed, honored, and celebrated in a community of faith?

Psalm Fragment

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits․
   who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
   who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
   who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

Journal Reflections

  • At the end of each remaining day in this 40-day journey, write in your journal a list of those things from that day for which you are grateful.
  • Reflect on how the “small gifts” you receive from God shape your life and your relationships.

Intercessions

Pray that you would be a voice of thanksgiving in your family, among your friends and co-workers, and in your community of faith. Pray that your voice of thanksgiving would encourage others to give voice to the many things for which they are thankful.

Prayer for Today

Lord, open my eyes that I may see the giftedness of my life and let my life be a hymn of praise and thanksgiving.

Day 4

After the first morning hour [of prayer], the Christian’s day until evening belongs to work. “People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening” (Ps. 104:23). In most cases a community of Christians living together will separate for the duration of the working hours. Praying and working are two different things. Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer. Just as it was God’s will that human beings should work six days and rest and celebrate before the face of God on the seventh, so it is also God’s will that every day should be marked for the Christian both by prayer and work. Prayer also requires its own time. But the longest part of the day belongs to work. The inseparable unity of both will become clear when work and prayer each receives its own undivided due.

Biblical Wisdom

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23

Questions to Ponder

  • In what ways might prayer be hindered by work?
  • In what ways might work be hindered by prayer?
  • How are prayer and work related to each other?

Psalm Fragment

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
   and prosper for us the work of our hands․
   O prosper the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect on the work you do. Is it satisfying and meaningful? Is it work that reflects your values? Is it work that reflects your faith? Explain.
  • In what ways does prayer support you in your work? In what ways does prayer help to shape your work and the way you do it?

  • Besides the work you do for income, what other kinds of meaningful work do you do at home or in the community? How does prayer relate to that work?

Intercessions

Pray for your co-workers, that they might find real satisfaction and meaning in their work. Pray for your workplace relationships, particularly those where there may be conflict and tension. Pray that you and your co-workers would be mutually supportive and encouraging.

Prayer for Today

Lord, when I go out to work may I go joyfully and with enthusiasm for the tasks at hand. May my work be good for me and good for others.

Day 3

This order and discipline must be sought and found in the morning prayer. It will stand the test at work. Prayer offered in early morning is decisive for the day. The wasted time we are ashamed of, the temptations we succumb to, the weakness and discouragement in our work, the disorder and lack of discipline in our thinking and in our dealings with other people․all these very frequently have their cause in our neglect of morning prayer. The ordering and scheduling of our time will become more secure when it comes from prayer.

Biblical Wisdom

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

Questions to Ponder

  • In what ways might “prayer offered in the morning” be “decisive for the day”?
  • Do you agree that many of the problems we encounter have “their cause in our neglect of morning prayer”? Why, or why not?
  • How can prayer lead to the “ordering and scheduling of our time”?

Psalm Fragment

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
   give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
   my King and my God,
   for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
   in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. Psalm 5:1-3

Journal Reflections

  • Write about how you usually spend your mornings. What do you do before work or school?
  • Are you satisfied with the way you spend your mornings? If not, how would you like to spend your mornings?
  • How is prayer presently a part of your morning? Any changes you would like to make?

Prayer for Today

Lord, show me a time in the morning when I can listen to you for the day ahead and when I can talk to you for the day ahead.

Day 2

There are three things for which the Christian needs a regular time alone during the day: meditation on the Scripture, prayer, and intercession…

In our meditation we read the text given to us on the strength of the promise that it has something quite personal to say to us for this day and for our standing as Christians․it is not only God’s Word for the community of faith, but also God’s Word for me personally.… We are reading the Word of God as God’s Word for us. Therefore, we do not ask what this text has to say to other people. For those of us who are preachers that means we will not ask how we would preach or teach on this text, but what it has to say to us personally.

Biblical Wisdom

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Questions to Ponder

  • Why are meditation on scripture, prayer, and intercession so important to the life of faith?
  • What obstacles might stand in the way of taking time alone daily for meditation on scripture, prayer, and intercession? How might they be overcome?
  • How might “reading the Word of God as God’s Word for us,” rather than as God’s word for someone else, lead to spiritual transformation?

Psalm Fragment

How sweet are your words to my taste,
   sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
   therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path. Psalm 119:103–105

Journal Reflections

  • In your journal reflect on your present experiences of prayer and meditation. Are they satisfying to you? Do you give enough time to these activities?
  • How could you find more time in your daily life for meditation, prayer, and intercession?
  • Write about something you’ve learned from meditating on scripture recently. How has it changed the way you are in your relationships or at work?

Intercessions

Pray for encouragement and wisdom for you, your family, and spiritual friends (name them) in reading God’s Word. Pray for discernment in understanding and praying for the needs of others.

Prayer for Today

Lord, draw me to your living Word and let it be for me food for the journey.

Day 1

Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary.…Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.

Biblical Wisdom

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28–30

Questions to Ponder

  • What is Jesus’ “commandment” that we are to follow? (See John 15:12)
  • If this commandment is Jesus’ “yoke,” how might we be changed if we bear it without resistance?
  • Why might following Jesus’ commandment lead to tough “decisions and painful separations”?

Psalm Fragment

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long. Psalm 25:4–5

Journal Reflections

  • To be a disciple is not just to believe in Jesus, it is to follow Jesus. In your journal, reflect on the ways in which you are presently following Jesus.
  • Do you experience your discipleship as “joy”? Is the “burden” of your discipleship “light”?
  • Do you sense there are places Jesus might want to lead you where you would rather not go? If so, where are they and what is holding you back?

Intercessions

Pray specifically for family, friends, and colleagues that they might clearly hear the call to discipleship (which is the call to love and justice), and that they might experience following Jesus’ commandment as joy in the concrete realities of their lives.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, only you know where my path will lead, but I trust that, even if I do not know either the way or the destination, you are with me and before me, and I follow you with joy.

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