DayBreaks for 4/20/15 – He Somehow Got Up

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DayBreaks for 4/20/15: He Somehow Got Up

I know Easter is over, but today I was struck anew with the hope that is born from the resurrection.  The entire passion story presented a great conundrum to the ancients because they thought is unthinkable that the Messiah, that anyone who was God or was even favored by God, could be crucified. In our modern day, sadly, most of us acknowledge that the world and societies can cruelly dispatch even the finest of God’s people through a variety of cruel, barbaric means. We know such a claim will neither create a scandal nor being thought silly-we’ve seen it on TV too often. At the same time, the resurrection was a total surprise to the disciples.  One they understood it, however, it was a source of great joy to them.  It is the great stumblingblock to many and there are vast multitudes who view it as a fool’s belief. After all, how does any intelligent person living in the world of modern 21st century science believe in a walking dead man?

Frederick Buechner believes exactly that.  He says, “But I can tell you this: that what I believe happened and what in faith and with great joy I proclaim to you here is that he somehow got up, with life in him again, and the glory upon him. And I speak very plainly here, very un-fancifully, even though I do not understand well my own language. I was not there to see it any more than I was awake to see the sun rise this morning, but I affirm it as surely as I do that by God’s grace the sun did rise this morning because that is why the world is flooded with light.”

Think about it: even if Jesus had promised us a resurrection of our bodies, but had not raised himself, who would believe him?  Who would have reason for hope?

Fortunately, Jesus was a man not of just words, but of action.  He backed up his words through what he did, and never was that more important than when he exited the tomb as a living, breathing human being.  I don’t know how precisely, but “somehow he got up”…and that makes all the difference between hope and despair.

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for Your great power that raised Jesus from the dead in great power and glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/17/15 – Cuddle Bunny Gospel?

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DayBreaks for 4/17/15: Cuddle Bunny Gospel?

Psalm 34:11 – Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD.

Twenty-first century America is truly a consumer society.  And what is the goal of life if you believe you are descended from monkeys and that the grave will be your final destiny?  To feel good while you can.  To grab the gusto.  To live life without limits.  To live with no fear.  To try everything at least once, and if it feels good, to do it again.  After all, you wouldn’t want to lie on your death bed wishing that you’d tried just that one more thing, would you?  Just missing out on one single thing could spell the difference between feeling like your life was complete and fulfilled or not.  What a terrible way to live!

The real danger comes when the church starts to take its cues from the world around us, instead of the other way around.  When the church accommodates to a feel-good goal and it centers its existence on programs and activities to the expense of the truth, the church is, as Chuck Colson put it, “…in danger of trivializing the holy.”

Russell Kirk said: “He who admits no fear of God is really a post-Christian man; for at the heart of Judaism and Christianity lies a holy dread.” 

How are you doing in your own family about teaching your children to fear the Lord, as David said he would do?  How is your church doing?  Or do you only present the feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy cuddle-bunny gospel?  God is not to be trifled with.  He never was and never will be that kind of God.  When we only teach and preach a gospel that makes us feel good, that takes away any fear of God’s discipline on us as His children, we are in serious trouble.  Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says: For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.  If God loves you, He WILL discipline you when you step out of His pathway.  He doesn’t do it to be capricious, but because He loves you.  And while it may not be pleasant, we can always know He has our best at heart.

PRAYER: It is good to have a Father like You who loves us enough to discipline us when we need it.  Thank You for Your gentleness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/16/15 – Why, Lord?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/15: Why, Lord?

I hate Satan.  I hate what he entices people to do in this world with is lies and deceit.  I cannot wait until he is crushed forever beneath the heel of the glorified Lord.  It cannot happen soon enough.

Last week I learned that a good friend and co-worker in Africa was deeply affected by the recent massacre that took place at the college in Kenya.  This person had worked with those students on many occasions.  So, when I heard that 22 of those this person had worked with were shot and killed in that terrorist event, I was stunned.   Then, more recently, I heard from another co-worker and friend that their niece was in the attack and was “missing”…and they feared the worst.  This morning I received an email that said their worst fears had been confirmed: her remains had been identified by fingerprint.  You see, the terrorists had shot her (and others) in such a way that their faces were destroyed.   I cannot imagine the grief and pain.  I cannot imagine the anger and the desire for revenge.  And while I know that God hates what happened, I also know that Jesus said:

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers…Mt. 5:11 (NLT)

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! [45] In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  Mt. 5:44 (NLT)

How are we to do that, Lord?  How is that humanly possible?  Perhaps it isn’t.  Perhaps it is only the indwelling Spirit that can enable humans to live up to Jesus’ statements.

I know that I should pray for the conversion of those who have done this.  But, right now, I can’t.  All I want to think of right now is that God also said: Vengeance is Mine, I shall repay…  And I find comfort in that, even as I know that I deserve nothing more from God than do these brutal murderers…apart from His grace.

Will you pray for my friends?  And for Christ’s return?  Thank you.

PRAYER: Father, be with my friends and give them the comfort that only comes from You, and protect them, I pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/15/15 – The Invulnerable City

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DayBreaks for 4/15/15: The Invulnerable City

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Sometimes it is hard to realize that nothing in this world lasts forever.  It extends all the way from nations, to love, to corporations, and even to our pets, whose mortality we don’t like to contemplate.  One of the mightiest nations in the ancient world was ancient Rome.  Their nation survived for nearly 1000 years from the time it was supposedly founded by the brothers Romulus and Remus on the banks of the Tiber, until it fell in 410 A.D.  One young man who had lived and reveled in the streets of Rome throughout his younger years became one of the greatest theologians in church history.  His name was Augustine, and after being told that the city of Rome had been sacked, he said, “All earthly cities are vulnerable.  Men build them and men destroy them.  At the same time there is the City of God which men did not build and cannot destroy and which is everlasting.” 

Catastrophes are, well, catastrophic.  The fall of Rome was not only inconceivable to those who felt secure in the city and nation, but when it happened, it had to be one of the most terrifying experiences they ever lived through.  Their security was gone.  The enemy was not only at the gates, but had burst through.  What would become of the inhabitants?  As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but it turned out to be shocking how quickly it could fall.

The kingdom of God – or the City of God as Augustine referred to it – wasn’t built in a day, either.  It is still being built.  It was established and founded by the Lord Jesus Christ who was God with us, who proclaimed “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  We can forget, if we’re not careful, that we aren’t just Americans, or Canadians, or South Africans.  We are living stones in the kingdom of God that is here, now, living and powerful. 

Every nation that has ever been built up has been torn down.  And that’s the way it will be until the end of time.  At that point, after trampling all enemies and kings and nations under his feet, the Kingdom of God will begin in fullness and glory and timeless perfection.  There will be no generals or politicians who make strategic mistakes that will doom God’s kingdom.  You see, Augustine had it right: men cannot destroy that which God has decreed to be everlasting.  As frightening as this world gets sometimes, as terrified and insecure as we may sometimes feel, we need to be reminded that we aren’t citizens of this world in the ultimate sense, nor of a given nation or race.  We are destined for eternity and for an everlasting, invulnerable city.

Daniel 7:13-14 (NLT) – As my vision continued that night, I saw someone who looked like a man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

PRAYER: Lord, we look forward to the city not made with hands, in which righteousness dwells forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/14/15 – A Taliban Accomplice?

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DayBreaks for 4/14/15: A Taliban Accomplice?

“Yesterday I share some of Nik Ripken’s writing from The Insanity of God, where he suggested that Satan’s strategy is really simple: it’s to keep people from finding out about Jesus.  Today, another rather intriguing concept:

“Once we understand the nature of this spiritual battle and the strategy of the Enemy (Galen: to keep people from telling others about Jesus), we see clearly the role that believers have been called to play.  We also see the importance of our choices regarding witness and faithful ness and obedience.

“…Those who number themselves among the followers of Jesus – but don’t witness for Him – are actually siding with the Taliban, the brutal regime that rules North Korea, the secret police in Communist China, the Somalilands and Saudi Arabias of the world.  Believers who do not share their faith aid and abet Satan’s ultimate goal of denying others access to Jesus.  Our silence makes us accomplices. 

“When Ruth and I speak and teach and share with western churches, we are often asked if we believe that persecution is coming to America.

“My response is often rather pointed.  I say, quite sincerely, ‘Why would Satan want to wake us up when he has already shut us up?”  Why would Satan bother with us when we are already accomplishing his goal?  He will likely conclude that it is better to let us sleep.

“Our problem is not simply a lack of concern.  And our problem is not that we are unaware or disinterested.  We know what is happening around the world.  Certainly, in light of what we have encountered in this book, we know about sacrifices that are made for the faith.  We know more about the health and the whereabouts of other members of the body of Christ today than at any other time in history.

“It’s not enough to feel grateful for the blessed circumstances in which we live.  It’s not even enough to do a better job remembering and praying for the suffering believers around the world.  It’s not even enough to identify with the other parts of Christ’s Body around the world. 

“Ultimately, the problem is one of emphasis and focus.  Instead of recognizing, thinking about, remembering, praying about, identifying with and focusing on the suffering of fellow believers around the world, we would do well to shift our focus. Quite simply, we would do well to ask ourselves whether or not we are being obedient to Jesus.  He is asking us – He is expecting us – He is commanding us to share Him wherever we go.  He is commanding us to do that wherever we are today.

“It is simply a matter of obedience.  If He is our Lord, then we will obey Him.  If we do not obey Him, then He is not our Lord.

“Perhaps the question should not be: “Why are others persecuted?”  Perhaps the better question is: “Why are we not?”

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t like to think of myself as an accomplice to those who actively wage war against your kingdom.  Let us think hard on this message and reveal to us the truth about why we are not persecuted.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/13/15 – Satan’s Strategy

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DayBreaks for 4/13/15: Satan’s Strategy

I shared recently about a book that I’d read, titled The Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken, and promised I’d share some more from that book. One of the things that he shared that struck me was how simple Satan’s strategy really is. I’d never heard it put this way before…and I found it convicting…and convincing. Mr. Ripken’s book shares about his journeys and research into persecuted Christians and how they managed to not just survive, but become examples for all of us in what it means to grow as a Christian.  Part of what it takes to defeat an enemy is to understand his strategy and that is never more true than in this great battle for eternity.

“All over the world we encountered committed followers of Jesus who trust even His toughest teachings.  They understand that anyone who wishes to save his life must first be willing to lose it. 

“They are willing to take that risk because they believe that, ultimately, good will defeat evil.  Love will finally overcome hate.  And life will conquer death forever by the power of our resurrection faith.  They know that the final chapter of the greatest story ever told has already been written.  And they know that, in the end, and, for all eternity, God will have His way.

“In the meantime, in the here and now, a real battle continues.   This is the same spiritual battle that the apostle Paul talked about.  First-century believers understood Paul when he described and epic struggle that wsa “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in t he heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).  Followers of Jesus in persecution today understand this battle well.

“In fact, everyone in the world today who claims to be a follower of Jesus plays a part in this battle.  Faithful believers who are paying a personal rice in pain and persecution for the cause of Christ truly understand the crux and the cost of their faith.  Their witness, their lives and their examples should inspire and instruct us.  Their experience reveals what is at stake, and their experience also reveals much about evil and its power.

“Believers who know what it means to suffer for their faith help us recognize and understand the Enemy’s tactics and his ultimate goal.   Satan at his worst, evil at its core, and persecution in its essence does not overtly seek to starve, beat, imprison, torture, or kill followers of Jesus.  The strategy of Satan is simpler and more diabolical than that.  What is Satan’s paramount intent?  Quite simply, it is this: denying the world access to Jesus!

“Satan’s greatest desire is for the people of this planet to leave Jesus alone.  Satan desires that we turn away from Jesus – or that we never find Him in the first place. If Satan cannot be successful at that, he desires to keep believers quiet, to diminish or silence our witness, and to stop us from bringing others to Christ. 

“It’s that simple.”

PRAYER: Jesus, I do NOT want to fall victim to Satan’s strategy!  Forgive me for the many, many times I have not told others about Jesus, and make me bolder during whatever days I have left on this earth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/10/15 – The Last Garbage Truck

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DayBreaks for 4/10/15: The Last Garbage Truck

 From the DayBreaks Archive, 4/07/2005: 

We live in the country, about 5 miles outside of the town of Cloverdale, California.  It is peaceful and quiet and we have a view of the vineyards of California’s fabled Sonoma county out of our front window.  Living in the country is great, but it does have its challenges.  What happens if the well runs dry?  No city water here.  What happens if you need an ambulance?  You’ve got to wait longer than someone in the city – and those extra minutes can be the difference between life and death.  What about the septic tank?  It has to be pumped out every few years.  And what about garbage?  Many in the country life around us haul their garbage to the dump themselves about once a month.  Not me.  I’m pleased to say that there’s a garbage service that picks up our trash and hauls it off for us!  Of course, I have to get the trash cans down to the road so they’ll pick them up (about a quarter of a mile down a driveway with two hairpin turns in it), but as long as I have them there, they pick up the trash. 

One of the things that it seems pastors are always trying to do is find ways to save money and make their income go a bit further.  And so, I must say that we’ve thought about stopping our garbage collection and starting to haul our own trash to the dump.  But after checking into it, it doesn’t seem that we’d really save that much (especially now with gasoline hitting the $2.499 mark in town and the dump being about 20 miles away!)  Here’s the bad news: we can’t just stop creating “garbage”.  No matter how hard we try, there’s junk mail to be thrown away, food wrapping, paper towels from cleaning up after the puppy who still isn’t housebroken, egg shells, milk cartons and assorted other things.  Trash happens.

Our lives are often piled deep with trash.  We seem to not be able to stop creating trash.  Some of it may be thought trash, some may be language trash, some may be emotional trash – we all have all kinds of trash.  The good news is that none of our trash will follow us to heaven.  Whatever is broken in us will be healed.  Whatever is lacking will be supplied.  Whatever is dross will be removed.  We will have no trash left.  God’s new creation will have no trash!

The day is coming when my life will be trash free, when I will never again need a garbage truck.  When I will never again need to seek forgiveness, for sin will be no more.  That’ll be a great day!

PRAYER: Lord, we so look forward to the day that sin will be no more – either in ourselves, or in others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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