DayBreaks for 6/18/14 – In the Line of Fire

DayBreaks for 6/18/14 – In the Line of Fire

Matthew 10:32-34 (NLT) – Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

In his book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman tells the story of an American soldier during the Vietnam war. His platoon was hunkered down in the rice paddies locked in a fierce firefight with the Vietcong.

The rice fields in Vietnam are often separated by an earthen beam, and on that day, a line of six Buddhist monks started walking along the elevated beam separating the field where the American soldiers lay hugging the ground and the field where the Vietcong were also crouched in battle.

The monks walked directly toward the line of fire, calmly and steadily. They did not look to the left or to the right, they just kept walking. The soldier reported, “It was really strange because nobody shot at ’em. And after they walked over the beam, suddenly all the fight was out of me. It just didn’t feel like I wanted to do this anymore, at least not that day. It must have been that way for everybody, because everybody quit. We just stopped fighting.”

I don’t know specifically what God is calling you to do right now.  I can only say that anyone who chooses to walk with God may well be completely out of step with the expectations of the office, the neighborhood, the culture or the family. Sometimes, it seems, God’s people are called to walk right through the field of fire, faithfully, sacrificially, loyally, doing what we have been called to do.

The times we live in are threatening.  Dark and ominous clouds are everywhere on the spiritual landscape.  Recently I spoke with some who live in very dangerous parts of the world where they serve God in spite of tremendous personal risk.  They are walking in the line of fire.  The battle lines are clearly arrayed in such places, but here in the U.S. it is much less obvious, but the battle lines have been drawn here, too.  Take for instance the high school valedictorian this year who had his speech censored because he wanted to mention his Christian faith and God.  Three times they told him to cease and desist.  When he didn’t get a response to his final draft (which the school required to be submitted to them for review), he proceeded to speak up at the graduation ceremony.  That young man walked in the line of fire.  But who would have thought in the US that the day would come when schools would censor out and redact any mention of God? 

Make no doubt about it: the battle is already afoot.  The question is whether or not we will walk in the line of fire or disappear into the woods.

PRAYER: Lord, the times we live in are perilous and threatening.  We pray that you will give us the courage You have already given us, Your children, the Spirit.  We pray that He will bend and shape us and that we will be yielded to His influence upon us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 07/20/12 – It Makes a Difference

DayBreaks for 07/20/12 – It Makes a Difference

It makes a difference…

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) – For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

There is a story that is told about a U.S. Army officer regarding his pupils during two different eras of teaching at the artillery training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Home of the Field Artillery). In 1958-60 the attitude was so lax that the instructors had a problem getting the men to stay awake to hear the lectures. During the 1965-67 classes, however, the men, hearing the same basic lectures, were alert and took copious notes. What made the difference in the class of 65? They knew that in less than six weeks they would be facing the enemy in Vietnam.

If we were to apply this to the Christian, it would go something like this: If you really believed that tomorrow you would be wrestling with the Devil himself, how would you spend today?   How would your worship be different?  How would your devotional life be different?  How about your prayer life?

How did you worship this past Sunday?  This week have you kept your quiet time with Him daily because you knew that every day when you woke that you would be facing all the wiles of the evil one?

Maybe our problem is simple: we don’t really believe we are in a battle.  We may think it’s a nice little analogy that is meant to manipulate us into awareness and action, but we don’t really believe there is an enemy that is just waiting to tear us to shreds like an angry grizzly mother defending her cubs.  Satan is that real, and more.

How will we prepare for the battle today?  If we believe Ephesian 6:12, we’ll be deadly serious and pay attention to the Manual and the Teacher!

PRAYER: Create in us the sense of seriousness that is appropriate for the real battle in which we are engaged!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 03/06/12 – Don’t Just Fight, Stand There!

DayBreaks for 03/06/12 – Don’t Just Fight, Stand There!

From the DayBreaks archive, 3/19/02:

One of the most important parts of doing battle is to have good “intelligence”.  By that, I mean knowledge about what the enemy is doing – where they are going, how fast they are traveling, where they are entrenched and when they will be there.  More often than not, good intelligence overcomes a more superior force.  One of the trickier aspects of intelligence gathering is to determine how much credibility to give to the source of the intelligence.  Sometimes, as we’ve seen recently in the news, a source is considered to be “unreliable”.

In 2 Chronicles 20:15-17, God gives some intelligence to His people regarding the advancing enemy (the Ammonites, Moabites and men from Mt. Seir) and their troop movements: “15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’  When God gives you intelligence, you know you can count on it!

Try now to put yourself in the position of King Jehoshaphat: God has told you where the enemy will be, and He has also given you explicit instructions that may see a bit contradictory:

FIRST: Don’t be afraid of them, in spite of the fact that they are a “vast army”.  I can hear myself now: “Well, I’m sorry, God, that’s easy for you to say.  These guys aren’t going to be handing out lollipops, and it’s me, not you, that they’ll be shooting at.  Don’t you understand that I could die?!?”

SECOND: The battle is God’s, not mine.  Again, I would be tempted on the day of battle to look to my left and then look to my right to try to see God standing in the battle line.  I wouldn’t be able to see Him.  But that doesn’t mean that He’s not there.  Sometimes the most ferocious and deadly enemy is one you cannot see…and God is the enemy of evil-doers like those who were attacking Judah.

THIRDLY: March down to do battle.  Take your positions, stand firm, don’t even bother to string your bows or sharpen your axes, because you won’t have to fight this battle.  As I stood in the battle line, I would be saying: “God?  Oh, God?  I know you said I wouldn’t need to fight this battle, but look over there – can’t you see the enemy?  They are almost uncountable!  Is it time yet to string up my bow?  Maybe I should do that – just in case?”  God was testing the faith of the men from Judah while at the same time extending amazing grace to them by fighting for them.  God was essentially telling them, “Go out to do battle.  Then, don’t fight – just stand there.”  Hard to do.

Are you facing some difficult battle today?  Don’t run!  Stand still: and refuse to retreat.  Look at it as God looks at it and draw on his power to hold up under the blast.  Sure, it’s tough.  Nobody ever said the Christian life was easy. He offers something better – His own sustaining presence through any trouble we may encounter: courage to just go where and when He sends us and trust God for the victory.

PRAYER: Thank you for fighting…and winning…for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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