DayBreaks for 2/17/16 – Home, Boys, Home!

View from the rock wall behind which the Union troops watched as the Confederate troops began the ill-fated Pickett’s charge across this open field. 

DayBreaks for 2/17/16: Home, boys, home!

One of the most amazing and deadly military attacks that ever took place was at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. It was by all accounts a hot day. The two massive armies of the Confederacy and the Army of the Potomac had already been battering one another for two long, hot days. The Union army held the high ground all along Cemetery Ridge and had beaten back attacks on July 1 and 2. There were those who felt that there would be no battle on the 3rd due to the beating both armies had inflicted on each other – that the troops were simply too tired and there was nothing to be gained by further pressing the issue.

In spite of the advice of some of his most trusted generals, Robert E. Lee believed that if they could win the battle at Gettysburg then the war which had already raged for two long and deadly years would come to an end as there would be nothing between the Confederate army and Washington, DC. He believed that the Union would be forced to surrender.

Certainly, he was tired of the war and destruction, of the cries of the dying and wounded. He longed for it to be over. And perhaps that is why he decided on one more attack. The prior two days they had attacked at the northern and southern ends of the Union lines. On July 3, Lee believed that if his army massed an attack at the center of the Union line that they could break through to the final victory and they would win the war.

General Pickett was chosen to lead the assault. Between the Confederates and the Union armies was nearly an entire mile of open ground with no cover – and it was uphill to the Union position which was on the high ground. Approximately 12,500 Confederate soldiers stretched in a one-mile long line left the shelter of trees to march across that deadly space separating the armies. It wasn’t long before artillery shells of canister (like giant shotgun shells) was bursting over the heads of the Confederates as they plodded up the hill. Massive casualties resulted…and the the musket balls and bullets began to tear into the advancing soldiers when they got within range. Men fell by the hundreds…dead, dying, maimed. Yet they kept marching and actually broke through the Union line at one small point before the charge collapsed.

What enables men to make such a determined march in the face of nearly certain death or dismemberment? On that particular day, they were motivated by one special cry that was to dominate their thinking. It wasn’t the Rebel yell, it was something much simpler and dear to their hearts. They had been told that if they won that day that “Home is just over that hill, boys.” The cry that drive them forward that day across that deadly space was simple: “Home, boys, home!”

In the space of less than an hour, 6,555 Confederate troops fell, over 50% of the men who had started the charge.

The power of home is not to be underestimated as a motivating factor. That is why we are encouraged to not lose heart: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18 (ESV)

The soldiers on July 3 couldn’t see “home”, it was out of sight, but it drove them to incredible heights of courage and bravery. When we are tempted to surrender to life, to give up on the effort of living as a Christ-follower, let the cry of “Home, children, home!” remind us that our home is just over the hill – and He will see to it that we get there!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, I confess that it is very easy to surrender to the difficulties of this life and forget about what it ahead of us, of the all-surpassing home that You have prepared for us! Let us never lose the longing to be with You in that place that is now out of our sight, yet destined to be our eternal residence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 2/16/16 – Death Was Arrested

DayBreaks for 2/16/16: Death Was Arrested

There is a wonderful new Christian song out there titled Death Was Arrested. Brandon Coker was describing it to some of his friends, describing how he was walking through a cemetery when he came across a tombstone with these words engraved into it: Here rests what was mortal of Samuel Burr, Age 42. In search of health far from his endeared home, death arrested his progress on 2nd of April 1831. Quietly he fell asleep in the Christian hope of immortality and glory forever. Oh the vanity of man in his best estate. Traveler pause and drop a tear at a grave of one so highly worthy and so deeply lamented and learn wisdom for eternity.

The phrase, “death arrested his progress” stirred the imagination and led to contemplation of how in this world death does, indeed, arrest progress…sooner or later, we shall all experience the end of our earthly “progress”.

That, however, needs to be balance and contrasted with what Christ did on the cross. Through his death, he arrested death and overcame it…and though we will all still die, we have his promise from John 11:25-26 (NLT) – Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”  

The lyrics to the song, and the link to the song, are the rest of today’s DayBreaks. Be blessed!

V1: Alone in my sorrow dead in my sin
Lost without hope with no place to begin
Your love Made a way to let mercy come in
When death was arrested and my life began
V2: Ash was redeemed only beauty remains
My orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began
CHORUS
Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you
V3: Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom he faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and he called me his friend
When death was arrested and my life began
V4: Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That’s when death was arrested and my life began
That’s when death was arrested and my life began
POST CHORUS:
Oh we’re free free
Forever we’re free
Come join the song
Of all the redeemed
Yes we’re free free
Forever amen
When death was arrested

And my life began.

Link to listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1fEJC0JtBw 

TODAY’S PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for defeating death and giving life to those who were dead! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/15/16 – What Were You Thinking?

The Darwin Awards

DayBreaks for 2/15/16: What Were You Thinking?

Chances are good that if you have been around the internet and have had email for longer than a month, you know what the Darwin Awards are. It has been around since 1994 and they describe themselves (more correctly their winners, this way: Winners of the Darwin Award must die in such an idiotic manner that “their action ensures the long-term survival of the species, by selectively allowing one less idiot to survive.”

I want to be respectful of those who die, and those who loved them, but some of the stories are totally ridiculous. Here’s a case in point: Double Darwin Award: Two men in Kenya were capturing selfies with a wild elephant when they were trampled to death by the irate pachyderm who proceeded to bury the corpses with brush. The two men were actually touching the elephant’s face while taking the photos. Charles Darwin cautions, “When taking sensational selfies, remember the Photoshop option.”

At the end of nearly every one of the Darwin Award stories, I find myself wondering: What were you thinking? How could you possibly have been so stupid?!?!

We sit around thinking we’d never do something so foolish, that we’d never act in such an ignorant or thoughtless way. But that’s where it gets interesting, isn’t it?

I would imagine that God looks at the things we do – at the voices and advice we listen to and act upon – and shakes His head and says to no one in particular: What were you thinking? I gave you so many warnings in the Word about the effect of sin on your life and you choose to do it anyway!

What are you doing these days that is spiritually foolhardy? Does not God give better advice than anyone else you could possibly ask?

While the Darwin Awards may make us wonder – and perhaps laugh at some of the stories – who is the greater fool: someone who does something that knowingly endangers their physical life, or someone who disregards the warnings of the Word and the offer of grace and forgiveness that can bring us from death to life eternal?

Ephesians 2:1-5 (MSG) – It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, you know our hearts. You know how we want to hear that which we want to hear rather than Truth. You know how quickly we run rashly to let the world tell us how to live instead of listening to You. Have mercy on us and give us wisdom that we can know and follow the Truth and live!

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/12/16 – Road Kill or the Bread of Life?

DayBreaks for 2/12/16: Road Kill or the Bread of Life?

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Bizarre News, 2/1/06: CORNWALL, England – A retired British civil servant is writing a cook book about his passion of more than 50 years – road kill. Arthur Boyt, 66, of Cornwall, England, said he has eaten dead animals he found along the roadside since he was 13. “It’s good meat for free and I know nobody has been messing with it and feeding it hormones,” Boyt told Sky News.  “I’ve been doing it all my life and never been ill once,” he told The Guardian. Boyt, whose favorite snack is a badger sandwich, said he is putting his recipes in a road kill cookbook and has been invited to join celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay later this year.  

I’ve been told that in Texas there is a restaurant, perhaps a chain, called the Roadkill Café.  I really don’t know what they serve there, and I don’t know if I really do want to know.  I doubt that they really serve road kill.  I hope not.

It seems to me that we are creatures who prefer road kill to the Manna that comes from heaven.  People I know who have been around church for years, but who have never made a decision for Christ, are somewhat like Arthur Boyt.  A feast has been prepared, but they continue to eat road kill.  Why?  Because “road kill” doesn’t cost anything – Christianity does.  Jesus told his followers over and over and over again that Christianity is costly – it’ll cost you everything you have, including losing your life if you want to find life. 

And so, not wanting to pay the price, people keep eating road kill.  They feel like they’ve been eating it for so long ant it’s never “hurt” them.  That may be…or at least it may appear to be true.  But you know what?  It only takes eating bad food once and you may die.  The day will come when road kill isn’t available any longer, and those who have never taken in the Bread of Life will wish that they’d changed their diets. 

Mr. Boyt says that he knows no one has been messing with road kill.  Jesus died so we don’t have to eat that trash any longer.  From a spiritual standpoint, it is the Word of God which will endure forever – and we can know that no one has messed with the Word!

John 6:51-58 NLT –I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live.”  Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.  So Jesus said again, “I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.   But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day.  For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink.  All who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them.  I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me.  I am the true bread from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever and not die as your ancestors did, even though they ate the manna. 

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, we are so prone to settle for less than you offer to us.  We are content with road kill when You are the bread that gives us life.  May we take your life into us, so that we may live in your power forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/11/16 – What Our Conformance Means

DayBreaks for 2/11/16: What Our Conformance Means

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will

Fashionable.  “With it.”  Contemporary.  Modern.  We’ve got all kinds of names for being like the rest of the world, don’t we?  And you know what?  They all sound good, don’t they?  I mean, would you rather be called unfashionable, “Out of it,” outdated?  We would generally think that those things are not very positive or flattering.

And we so want to think of ourselves as being “with it”, or if I can use some old fashioned language, “Cool!”  We would be hurt and perhaps even feel insulted of someone said we weren’t fashionable.  That’s really too bad. 

Our society is status-driven, and conformance to what society thinks is good is often in order to gain status or prestige.  Sometimes it is to try to curry favor in such a way that we will gain some advantages in business or school or in a dating relationship.  I can’t think of a single thing in our culture that elevates the things of God over the things of man.  Why?  Because the kingdom of God is at war, at very serious odds, with the kingdom of our culture.  You see, our culture is sick.  It’s twisted, perverted and I believe it stinks in the nostrils of Almighty God. 

And yet…we still go on trying to conform to this world.  But what does that mean?  If we are trying to conform to a sick culture, we are inviting sickness into our very souls, we are choosing sickness instead of the health that God wants to give us. 

What will you choose today?  His healing and health, or will you continue to choose sickness and embrace it to your bosom?

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Father, please change our hearts.  Give us the wisdom to see that there is a way that leads to life, and a way that leads to sickness and death.  By the power of Your Spirit, please give us the wisdom to choose life, even as Joshua challenged Israel to choose life so long ago.  Help us to care much more about how You think about us, not how the world things about us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/10/16 – The Tears He Wants

DayBreaks for 2/10/16: The Tears He Wants

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Luke 23:26-27 (NLT) – As they led Jesus away, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country just then, was forced to follow Jesus and carry his cross. Great crowds trailed along behind, including many grief-stricken women.

Some of the other translations say that the women who followed him as Jesus made his way through the streets of Jerusalem “mourned and lamented him.”  That means they were crying – and probably not a soft, barely audible sniffling and groaning.  Lamenting was loud.  It was accompanied by tears and shrieks and cries and the person gave vent to all that was in their hearts and the pain that was contained there. 

In the case of Jesus, the women weren’t weeping for themselves.  They were weeping for Jesus.  We would probably look at that scene and heartily approve of their tears and weeping.  We likely would have said it was only right that they should weep and lament Jesus.  What was happening was a travesty of justice.  What had happened – his beatings, the mockery, the scourging, the betrayals – had turned this lonely figure who stumbled down the streets into a bloody mess – and it had to be tremendously difficult for anyone who had known and loved him to witness what was happening.

But in the next verse, Jesus tells the women not to weep for him.  He says that their weeping is on target – but the cause was wrong.  He encourages them to weep for themselves – for they live in a world that is full of horror, all brought about by sin.  And so it is that Sigmund Brouwer wrote: It is easy to weep when we see Jesus with the cross.  But those are tears he does not want.  He wants us to cry for our sins.  He wants us to ask forgiveness. 

Point made.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, help us to weep first and foremost for our sin, the sin that caused You to walk beneath the weight of the beam and to stumble and fall on your way to Calvary.  Help us to seek your forgiveness, for that is what we need the most!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/09/16 – How About Your Donkey?

DayBreaks for 2/09/16: How About Your Donkey?

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Matt. 21:1-5 –(NLT) – As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said, “and you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them here. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately send them.” This was done to fulfill the prophecy, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you.  He is humble, riding on a donkey — even on a donkey’s colt.’”  

Have you ever thought much about the man who owned the donkey on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem?  We don’t know anything about him – his name, his address, his occupation or even his faith.  A totally nameless personage in Scripture.  We don’t know if Jesus had worked things out in advance with this man, or if it was a miracle that the man with the donkey was where he needed to be and was favorably disposed to Jesus’ need for the donkey.  All we know is that the disciples did what Jesus asked, and the donkey was provided to carry Jesus into the town. 

I guess we don’t need to know anything more about the man that we do.  He certainly wasn’t the central character in the story, nor was the donkey.  But, there is something we should all learn from this story.  When we are confronted with the Lord and a need that he has, what is our response?  Does it depend on what the need is – if we think it is something we can “part” with or do without for a while?  Does it depend on how great his request is of us?  Or, like the man in the story, is our first response to “immediately” provide whatever it is that the Lord needs from us? 

Today the Lord will most likely “need” something from each of us since he’s not here to speak the kind word directly, to put a comforting hand on someone’s shoulder, to provide a burger to the hungry or drink to someone who is thirsty.  So, it just may be that like the disciples that he sent to the man long ago, he will send someone to you today to request your help in meeting some need.  Let’s decide in advance to respond “immediately” and do whatever it is that is necessary to help the cause of Christ to move just a bit further down the road.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, we don’t know what struggles and requests for help that we may receive today.  Help us to be wise and discerning, and to respond without hesitation to anything that would help move forward the kingdom in this world.  Give us the attitude and heart that was present in the unnamed man so long ago.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.