The time was the 19th of May, 1780. The place was Hartford, CT. The day has gone down in New England history as a terrible foretaste of Judgment Day. For at noon the skies turned from blue to gray and by mid-afternoon had blackened over so densely that, in that religious age, men fell on their knees and begged a final blessing before the end came. The Connecticut House of Representatives was in session. And as some men fell down and others clamored for an immediate adjournment, the Speaker of the House, one Colonel Davenport, came to his feet. He silenced them and said these words: “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought.”
There are many things in life that we have to be “ready” for. We have to be ready to go to school, or work. We get ready to go on a date. We get ready to go to the doctor’s or the grocery store. We get ready for our wedding or to go to a funeral. Life is a long series of preparations!
We are warned in Scripture that we are to be ready for several things: we are to be ready for acts of service, but of course, the BIG one is to be ready for His return.
Be dressed for service and well prepared, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. There will be special favor for those who are ready and waiting for his return. I tell you, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, there will be special favor for his servants who are ready! – Luke 12:35-39
I can identify with their reaction. There have been several instances in my life where I thought the Return was upon me. And much like some of those in the Connecticut House that day, I instantly took up an attitude and posture of prayer!!!!
I love the calm, assured reaction of Colonel Davenport…either we are ready when it comes, or we aren’t. If we suspect, as we anticipate that event, that we won’t be ready, we better get that way! And, if we are ready, then “there is no cause for adjournment”…and let us all be found doing our duty!
PRAYER: Let us serve and be ready always, doing our duty for our King! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Joshua 1:9 – I command you — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Let’s face it: life isn’t for the weak of heart. Life is a challenge – far more difficult and hard than we could ever imagine.
We start out as children and life is like a game. Then, we get a bit older and we find out that we can’t win every game, and that along with the game, come certain expectations and responsibilities.
We become young adults and find someone to love and marry – and for a while, we enjoy this thing called a “honeymoon” period of our relationship where all is peachy, but then we start to discover aspects of this person we married that we don’t care for very much. And as the pressures of job, children and money mount, we become more disillusioned with this thing called life.
As young and middle-aged adults, we have probably settled into a relatively calm routine…and then we awaken one day to find that the routine is really a rut – a rut we don’t feel we can get out of and the walls start closing in and we feel desperately trapped. The result: mid-life crises.
As age begins to descend upon us and our health starts to fail, we can get discouraged as we look back at our lives and wonder, “What if?” We may often ask ourselves the very disturbing question: “Did I misunderstand what God wanted me to do?” And we realize we don’t have time left to go back and undo what we may have misunderstood, to undertake what we might have been able to do when we were younger.
Life isn’t for the weak of heart. It takes courage.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You will face choices today that will take courage because life is like that. Let the strength of the Lord be your strength, let his courage fill your spirit and may you make the right choices.In the modern time we live in, the Lord needs courageous men and women. Will you be one of them?
PRAYER: Life frightens us at nearly every corner, Lord. We can’t see past the shadows and often, even though we know what we should do, we lack the courage it takes to win the victory. Give us your courage today! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I Peter 5:6 – So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.
On a plaque marking Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace near Hodgenville, KY, is recorded this scrap of conversation:
“Any new down ‘t the villagle, Ezry?” “Well, Squire McLain’s gone t’ Washington t’ see Madison swore in, and ol’ Spellman tells me this Bonaparte fella has captured most o’ Spain.”
“What’s new out here, neighbor?” “Nuthin’, nuthin’ a’tall, ‘cept fer a new baby born t’ Tom Lincoln’s. Nothin’ ever happens out here.”
Sometimes, it seems as if no one ever notices the good things you try to do – let alone the effort that went into doing those things. You may not ever receive even a “Thank you!” for your troubles. Certainly no one sees it when you bite your tongue and keep from saying hurtful things or harsh words. At such moments, we may be tempted to wonder if anyone will ever notice. You have done “the right thing” but not even God seems to be all that excited about it because one trouble after another comes down on your shoulders. It doesn’t seem fair (and it isn’t fair). It doesn’t seem right, either.
The simple truth is that some events and even the daily decisions we make to do what Christ would have us to do, may not seem to amount to much. It could be a birthday (as in Hodgenville, KY or in the ancient city of Bethlehem), it may be a spiritual rebirth…these things may not make much of an earthly splash at all. They seem insignificant even now, let alone in the light of eternity. But those things have lasting importance…and God Himself will see to it that you will be honored for it!
PRAYER: Our frustrations sometimes boil over, Lord, and we get discouraged and down-spirited by trying to do what is right…but it seemingly passes unnoticed. Help us to rest in the calm assurance that anything done for you will not escape your attention. But at the same time, help us not to do things just to receive honor from you, but rather to bring honor TO you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I found this and thought I’d share it without further comment:
“St. Basil was a great man of God, one of the greatest of the Church Fathers. One of his noble orations is dedicated to the memory of forty martyrs of Sebaste who were ordered by the officers of Licinius, in the year a.d. 320, to offer sacrifices to heathen idols. These were soldiers who had proven to be excellent in every respect. But Licinius the emperor issued a decree that they must renounce Christ or else their lives would be in danger. Those who refused to give up Christ were submitted to indescribable brutalities and tortures.
“The torturers were called forth. The first was ready and the sword was sharpened. . . . Then some of the persecuted Christians fled, others succumbed, others wavered, and some before even being submitted to the tortures, were afraid because of their threatenings. Some, when facing the tortures, became faint. Others entered the battle, but were not able to persevere to the end in suffering the pains, and in the middle of the martyrdom they renounced Christ.
“However, the invincible and gallant soldiers of Christ proceeded visibly to the middle, at the time when the judge was showing the decree of the king and was asking them to submit to it. Without being afraid of anything which they saw, nor losing their heads as a result of the threatenings, they confessed that they were Christians.
“These Christians soldiers were offered money and honors in order to induce them to join the ranks of the heathen. To earthly honors they would not yield. Then came threats of indescribable tortures. What an answer these Christian soldiers gave: ‘Do you have blessings of equal value to those you endeavor to deprive us of, to give us? We hate your gift because it will mean our loss. We do not accept honor which is the mother of dishonesty. You offer us money which remains here, glory which fades away. . . . We have despised the whole world. Those things which we see in the world do not have for us the value of the heavenly things which we hope and long for. . . . We are afraid of only one punishment, the punishment of hell. We are here ready to be tortured . . . for you to twist our bodies and to burn them.’
“The judge was infuriated by the courage of these brave Christians, and so he devised a slow and most painful way of putting them to death. It was very cold. He waited for the night when the wind was violent and the air freezing. He ordered these soldiers to be thrown naked on a frozen lake in the center of the town to die from freezing. There is no more atrocious and painful death than that. These Christian soldiers did not have to be forced to take off their clothes. They took them off themselves and marched on to the frozen lake. As each went, he said, ‘We are not merely putting off our clothes, but we are putting off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” ‘ (Eph. 4:22). All together they shouted, ‘The winter is bitter, but heaven is sweet; the freezing painful, but sweet the rest. Let us persevere a little longer and we shall be warmed in the bosom of the Patriarch [meaning Christ]. Let us exchange all of eternity for the pains of one night. Let the leg be burned so that it may ever dance with the angels. . . . How many soldiers have died in battle remaining faithful to a mortal king, and we, for the sake of remaining faithful to the true king, shall we not sacrifice this life? . . . We are going to die anyway; let us die so that we may live.’ Their prayer was unanimous and ascended with one voice, ‘Forty have we entered this ordeal, may all forty of us receive the crown of martyrdom. Oh, Despot, grant that not one of our number may yield. . . . You honored this number because you fasted forty days.’
“In spite of this earnest prayer, one of their number did not persevere and gave in to the offers of the heathen persecutors. Great sorrow came upon the others because only thirty-nine remained in the arena of death. Their plea became even more vigorous to their Heavenly Father. Forty entered the ordeal and forty wanted to see the face of the Lord. The deserter came to the warm place prepared by the emperor’s executioners. But going from the extreme cold to the warm place, and plunging himself into warm water, he died instantly. The guard, a heathen who was watching all the developments and saw angels ministering to these saints of God, on hearing their prayers, decided to answer them. He took off his clothes and declared with a loud voice, ‘I am a Christian, too,’ and jumped naked on the frozen lake joining the thirty-nine to complete their number to forty. Thus their prayer was answered, forty entered the ordeal of martyrdom and forty saw the face of Jesus Christ. Now, whose memory was cursed and whose was blessed? We call the saints who persevered unto death blessed, indeed.”
PRAYER: May we be found faithful, Lord Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mark 7:32-35 (NIV) – There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
There are certain sequences in life that are unavoidable. Life comes before death. Childhood comes before adolescence and adulthood. Being a child comes before having children. Being a parent comes before one becomes a grandparent.
In the text from Mark 7, there is another sequence that we would do well to consider, understand, and incorporate into our lives. The man was deaf, and could barely speak, when he came to Jesus. Notice how Jesus approaches the situation:
FIRST, he puts his fingers into the man’s ears,
SECOND, he touches the man’s tongue.
Children hear before they learn to speak. If we can’t hear, we will not likely be able to learn to speak, because we speak by imitating the sounds we hear: “momma”, “daddy”, “dog”, “cat”, and the like. We imitate those sounds before we can read them. We must first hear. Once we hear, then we can speak.
It is especially important for Christians to hear what Jesus has to say before we attempt to speak for him, or in his place. Yes, we are to be his ambassadors and that means we speak what he has instructed us to say, but if we haven’t heard from him, we should keep our mouths shut! We should not be offering, “The Bible says X, Y, and Z, but here’s what I think…”.
The first step in communicating is to listen…then to speak. Let’s get the sequence right!
PRAYER: We are too prone to quick to speak on your behalf before we have heard from You! Teach us discipline, give us patience, to wait to hear your voice before we open our mouths! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
At the Olympic games in Paris in 1924 the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens.
As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill’s wife would give birth to her first child about the time that Bill would be competing in the Paris Games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from Paris to the United States, only slow-moving ocean-going ships. And so, Bill found himself in a dilemma. Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife’s side when their first child was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain behind. Bill’s wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, he had been working towards this for all these years. It was the culmination of a life-long dream.
Clearly the decision was not easy for Bill to make. Finally, after much soul searching, Bill decided to withdraw from the competition and remain behind with his wife so that he could be with her when their first child arrived. Bill considered being at her side a higher priority than going to Paris to fulfill a life-long dream.
To make a long story short, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal at the Paris Olympics. And Bill’s wife was late in giving birth to her first child. She was so late that Bill could have competed in the event and returned home in time to be with her when she gave birth.
People said, “What a shame.” But Bill said he had no regrets. After all, his commitment to his wife was more important then, and it still was now.
The story of Bill Havens is a story of how one man paid a high price to fulfill a commitment to someone he loved.
Commitment seems to be a rare commodity these days – almost as if it were a dirty word. For believers, that should not be the case. Just as Christ was our example of holiness and love, he also modeled the meaning of commitment via the incarnation and cross. When we make commitments, let’s keep them and be imitators of Christ!We need to keep our commitments to God and to others!
PRAYER: There are many reasons we may bail out of our commitments, Lord, that are invalid and nothing more than excuses! Help us be people of integrity who keep our commitments! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Proverbs 3:5 (NIV) – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Recently, the world lost someone that many of us consider to be a hero when Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, passed away after complications from bypass surgery. To many, Armstrong was the epitome of the calm, cool, assured astronaut…a man who was unafraid. He was amazingly cool as he took control of the Apollo lunar module and flew it manually towards a better landing site, even as Buzz Aldrin counted down the rapidly dwindling fuel supply. Shortly after they were on the ground, he left the first human footprint in the dusty surface of the moon. And now he is gone.
The landing had us all glued to the TV. In retrospect, it should provide us all with lessons about how much we need to depend on something solid, a solid foundation, while we are moving at a distance far from home. In Houston, TX, was the control center. The three spacemen dared not disregard the voices and instructions from the control room as they circled the moon and later as two of them landed on its surface.
Paul tells the Corinthians that anything they attempt to do should be based on one thing: the dependability of Jesus Christ. He arose, doing what he said he would. He tells us that we, too, shall rise. Those facts should serve as our control center. We dare not disregard it as it is, like it was for Apollo 11, a matter of life and death.
As the landing was taking place way back in 1969, one news commentator made a comment that we would do well to remember: “These men cannot remain on the moon. They must follow instructions. They do not have only themselves to think of but also the entire project.”
Think of that whenever you are tempted to act and think independently of the control center, Christ the Lord. You have not only yourself to think of, but also Christ and His Kingdom. In the words of Maximus from the movie Gladiator, “What we do echoes in eternity.” We can get discouraged over a particular failure, but we have to think of the entire project – which includes our being raised from the dead and being found faultless before the Throne and the One Who sits upon it!
PRAYER: Let us clearly hear Your instructions and Your voice, Your encouragement and Your guidance – and may we follow Your guidance! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
There was a tribe of Indians who lived a long time ago in the state of Mississippi. They lived next to a very swift and dangerous river. The current was so strong that if somebody happened to fall in or stumbled into it they could be swept away downstream.
One day the tribe was attacked by a hostile group of settlers. They found themselves with their backs against the river. They were greatly outnumbered and their only chance for escape was to cross the rushing river. They huddled together and those who were strong picked up the weak and put them on their shoulders; the little children, the sick, the old and the infirm, those who were ill or wounded were carried on the backs of those who were strongest. They waded out into the river, and to their surprise they discovered that the weight on their shoulders carrying the least and the lowest helped them to keep their footing and to make it safely across the river.
Jesus is trying to teach the disciples an object lesson about greatness, about servanthood, about leadership. He is saying to them and to us, “Have you lost the childlike joy and love and faith that once were yours?” He is also saying to them and to us, “If you want to walk on secure ground in this world it helps to carry someone with you.”
Galatians 6:2 (NASB77) – Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.
POINT: Sometimes the burden we are called to carry is our brother and sister.
PRAYER: Let us see those who are struggling, Lord, and be ready to lift them up! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heb. 9:27 (KJV) – And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…
We’ve all heard the warnings about “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” In fact, our tendency to act on things that sound too good to be true gets us into a lot of trouble. And the Internet makes it even more easy…you click on the wrong thing because of an outrageous claim (“Click here and Microsoft will give you a new computer!”, etc.) that can bring computer viruses, or it can be a phishing scheme to get your banking information or personal information so the bad guys can drain your bank account.
There is an exception – at least that’s what we Christians believe. That is the offer of salvation. It is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-10) of God. And it is far better than a new PC or anything else that a human being or giant corporation can give us.
Still, it sounds too good to be true, and so many reject it. They reject the idea of a God Who is love. They reject the idea of God, period. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to re-think the situation by asking yourself a simple question: What if it is true?
Death, like its master, Satan, silently watches and waits to take its victims as a thief in the night – often we have no warning of Death’s approach. That’s why Scripture encourages us to be prepared, ready to meet this deadly, vicious enemy at any time. Professor J. H. Huxley was a well-known agnostic. His nurse revealed that in the last moments of his life, as he lay dying, the great skeptic suddenly looked up as at some sight invisible to mortal eyes, and, staring a while, whispered, “So it is true.”
So, I ask, “What if it is true?” We Christians need to sometimes be reminded that it is true, too. We tend to forget that this is not a game. It is serious business. But so is life.
One day we will open our eyes and see that what we have believed and we will know it is real. And doubt will be gone forever as sight replaces faith.
PRAYER: Until the day we see you face to face, give us more faith and confidence not just in Your goodness, but in the truth of the Good News of grace and salvation! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Galen is out of the office until 9/13. DayBreaks from the archive will be featured until he returns.
Revelation 12:10 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, power, kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah have come. The one accusing our brothers and sisters, the one accusing them day and night in the presence of our God, has been thrown out.
We know that our Satan is our enemy. We know that God doesn’t want us to be like Satan, but like His Son, Jesus. We talk a lot about what God/Jesus are like. But how often do we think about what Satan is like and to see how much we resemble him?
There was a recent post by J.E. Dyer at Patheos that made me think about this:
“I’ve found it to be consistently true that I don’t need to consider accusatory tales about others in order to make good decisions. There is no positive purpose for an accusatory mode of thought or communication.
“This shouldn’t surprise us. In the Bible, Satan is called both “the adversary” (Job 1:6-8) of men and our “accuser” (Rev 12:10). Accusing people as a way of life is evil, period. This makes sense if we remember that God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows everything we do; He of all beings could accuse us up one side and down the other. But He doesn’t. The great truth in His universe is not that we sin, but that there is forgiveness and redemption.” – J. E. Dyer, The Optimistic Christian, http://www.patheos.com, 8/12/12
You know Satan is our adversary. But he is also an accuser by nature. Are you? Are you the kind of person who emulates Satan because you run around all day long accusing people of being evil, bad, sinful, stupid, ignorant, dumb, nasty, unforgiving, ill tempered, obnoxious, etc.? It’s easy to fall into a critical, accusing spirit!
Let’s be emulators of Jesus, not of Satan. Let’s not be adversaries and accusers of others!
PRAYER: Sometimes, Father, it seems that we’re more like our enemy than our Savior – at least at times! Teach us to consider our ways and see who we most look and act like…and help us to become like Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.