DayBreaks for 9/22/17 – Playing to Lose

DayBreaks for 9/22/17: Playing To Lose

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Last week a brother who gets DayBreaks suggested a thought on the topic of “playing to lose” and the idea captured my thoughts.  This brother and I have played together on church softball teams and we have some firsthand knowledge about losing!  But he wasn’t talking about softball.  He was talking about our life before God.  There are at least two ways of thinking about this that I’d like to explore:

First: the phrase “playing with sin” is not uncommon.  What does it mean?  It means tolerating the little sins in our life that we don’t think are so bad.  I mean, after all, have you ever murdered someone?  Been a drug “lord”?  Betrayed your government?  Been a terrorist who blew up innocent people?  Chances are that for those of you who read this, you’ve done none of those things.  They do the things they do because they don’t feel it’s wrong and because they believe those things will help make them richer and more powerful.  But when we start to think that the little sins we tolerate in our lives are OK, we forget the Words of scripture from Romans 8.13: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, … and also: Col 3.5-6: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

These verses should serve to remind us that “playing with sin” in our lives is like playing balloon toss with nitroglycerin.  It is playing to lose, not playing to win.  These verses are real clear: the things of the sinful nature don’t have to be huge things like murder or terrorism, but can be sexual immorality, impurity, lust, etc..  They are just as deadly in God’s eyes (even deadlier!), and because of that, they will bring His wrath.  Doing the things that cause us to fall under the wrath of God is definitely playing to lose!!!!

Second: there is a way that Scripture talks about in which we can lose and still win.  It’s all a matter of perspective – whether you look at things from God’s eyes or from the vantage point of the world and which is the most important to you.  Read Matt 10.39: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

Matt 19.29: And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Here’s a situation where we WANT to be playing to lose, because in losing, we WIN!  If we play our lives in such a way that we lose ourselves to the passions, lusts, greed and sinfulness of the earthly life, even to the point of forsaking the most precious things on earth (our families who would hinder us) for the cause of the kingdom, Jesus tells us that our won-loss record will be 100-1.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to throw in the real trophy: eternal life!  If you do this, your friends will think you’ve lost your mind.  And they’ll be right, because even your earthly mind and it’s sense of what is good, will be lost by being transformed to the mind of Christ.

In this DayBreaks, I’ve talked about “playing”.  But the bottom line: this isn’t a game.  Life, and what we choose to follow, is a deadly serious business.  There is a huge difference between playing to lose and playing to lose so you win.  Are you playing to lose or are you playing to lose so that you can win?  Make sure that you are on the winning team, because when the “game” is over, it’s either eternal life or sudden death!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for winning the victory and for sharing the crown of victory and life with us!  Give us the good sense to play to lose so we may win that which is wroth winning!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 9/21/17 – I Wonder About Lazarus

DayBreaks for 9/21/17: I Wonder About Lazarus

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

ABID JAN, Ivory Coast (08/26, Reuter’s): “A 2-year old girl was recovered alive three days after she was buried in a village cemetery.  Grave diggers in the area heard the young girl and immediately uncovered her grave.  Minata Lafissa was taken back to her parents in the village of Yakasse-Feyasse.  Lafissa was originally pronounced dead from a mystery illness.”

What a terrifying experience this must have been for little Minata!  One of my greatest fears (I’m claustrophobic – afraid of being closed in), is that I would be buried alive.  I can’t hardly stand to crawl underneath a car to change oil!  Can you imagine what it would be like to be sick, fall asleep, and wake up some time later in a closed, sealed coffin – buried alive!?!?!  It is the stuff of the worst horror movies and nightmares.

How do you feel about death? 

John 11.43-44: When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

There was a difference between Lazarus and Minata: unlike Minata, he was really and truly dead, it was done, over, finished.   He, like Minata, had been in the grave for days.  Only he was dead for all that time – not awake and screaming.  Then, all of a sudden, he hears an irresistible Voice – he opens his eyes and sees he is in a tomb.  Somehow (the verse isn’t real clear on how it exactly happened) his body moves forth out of the tomb (he couldn’t probably walk wrapped up as he was – it appears that he perhaps was “levitated” out of the tomb, but who knows?)  His eyes begin to see light through the wrappings around his face.  The first face he sees is probably his friend Jesus, or the faces of his sisters, Mary and Martha, as their trembling hands remove the wrappings.  They’ve all been crying, but for different reasons.  Mary and Martha are crying out of incredible joy for having their brother back.  Jesus has been crying because of the ravages of sin on mankind that brought death to his friend. 

How do you think Lazarus felt?  I wonder if he was happy to be back, or if he’d rather of stayed where he was.  (Probably a silly thing to wonder – if he was with God!)  How would I have felt?  If I’d already gone through the anxiousness of death itself, of the painful good-byes to loved ones, of drawing the last breath with a shudder – I think I wouldn’t be too keen on repeating the experience all over again.  I wonder what he saw while he was dead.  We simply aren’t told, because it really isn’t important.  I’d have liked to see him, talk with him, to have known him after this happened.

But, at the same time, if I’d been Lazarus, I would be amazed.  I would be standing before Jesus, knowing that some incredible power, His incredible power, had made me alive again after I’d been dead.  Here’s the amazing thing: I have been where Lazarus was!  If you’re a believer in Christ, you’ve been there, too:  Col 2.13: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins… 

How does it feel?  I have been brought back to life by God’s amazing power.  And I am sustained by His great power.  And even though I will die physically, I will not die spiritually – I will live forever with Him.   Let me tell you in case you haven’t experienced this resurrection of the spirit – it feels great!!!!

What Jesus did for Lazarus, what He’s done for me, He can and will do for you – if you believe in Him.  He wants to raise you to a new life.  He wants to raise your friends and family to the same life, too.  When you look at your fellow-believers this weekend at church, remember – you’re looking at a person who has been raised from the dead by the power of Jesus Christ!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for life, for stirring and breathing life into our dead souls.  Help us to celebrate and rejoice in the new life You have given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/20/17 – Who Are You Afraid Of?

DayBreaks for 9/20/17: Who Are You Afraid Of?

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Some time ago I shared a DayBreaks about a prayer walk I participated in through downtown San Francisco.  I shared that when we came to the Tenderloin part of town that I had some fear.  The people were unkempt, it is an area given to violence.  The looks in their eyes were contemptuous and hard. 

In reading further in Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship, chapter 25 talks about the decision that people must make to be disciples.  Here’s what he had to say: “They (disciples) must not fear men.  Men can do them no harm, for the power of men ceases with the death of the body.  But they must overcome the fear of death with the fear of God.  The danger lies not in the judgment of men, but in the judgment of God, not in the death of the body but in the eternal destruction of body and soul.  Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.”

This is, indeed, the crux of the issue.  We are too attached to our bodies – we are so attached to this life that we fear losing it.  No one would say that we would rather lose this life than the one to come.  In hearing “…the power of men ceases with the death of the body” we find ourselves yelling out, “Yes, but that’s what I’m afraid of!  I’m afraid of what may lead up to the death, too!”  No one wants to suffer.  If and since we all have to go, we all want to go quietly and peacefully.  But to some, and to increasing numbers in our day and age throughout the world, He grants the privilege to suffer and die for Him.  What gives Him the right to ask someone to do that?  The fact that He first suffered and died for us.  For you.  For me.  God has never asked us to do anything that He hasn’t first done Himself.   

We live in a day and age filled with growing fear.  We’re afraid of violence on the streets, of robbers breaking and entering, of rape in a dark parking lot, of terrorism striking into our community, of random shootings.  We don’t like to admit that we are afraid.  But it’s true.  Jesus himself said we SHOULD be afraid in Luke 12.5: But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  Did you notice – after He has told us to fear the great Judge of all mankind, He reiterates it in case we missed it: Yes, I tell you, fear him.  

But doesn’t “perfect love cast out fear”?  Yes.  But in our culture, we’ve gone so far to the side of not fearing God, of seeing Him simply as a white-haired old gentleman with a toothless grin and kindly eyes, that we have forgotten His demand of holiness, of the fact that He can, and will, carry out judgment against sin and vengeance.  God hates sin.  All sin.  It doesn’t matter what the sin is – He hates it.  It must be punished.  It must be paid for.  Every single one of us deserves to be banished to outer darkness with Satan and his angels forever.  Not one of us can stand on our own two feet before God’s throne, look Him in the eye and tell Him, “I deserve to be let into heaven!”  On that day, no one will dare do such a thing.  No, I have a feeling that when we stand before Him and are confronted with the absolute Holiness that is His alone, even though we are believers and His children, that we will fall on our faces in shame and yes, fear.  But then – oh, praise God!!! – then, His very own Son will step forward and show God His nail-scarred hands and feet and say, “I’ve paid the price for this one.  Let him/her in.”  Then God will smile, nod His head in perfect and absolute agreement, Jesus will gently lift us up and tell us, “Welcome home!” as tears of joy stream down His face and mingle with our own tears of relief and thankfulness. 

That day will come.  We will stand before Him.  Jesus holds our destiny in His hands.  Thank God they are nail-scarred!

PRAYER:  May we live boldly in the holy fear of You and You alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/19/17 – In the Midst of Doubt

DayBreaks for 9/19/17: In the Midst of Doubt

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Doubts.  Uncertainties.  This past Thursday morning I was in a meeting with other pastors and we were discussing a particular aspect of doctrine.  Now you might think, “Wow, that really sounds exciting…a real snoozer!”  Normally, I’d have to agree with you.  As one of the pastors put it, “Doctrine, schmoctrin! I’d rather talk about Jesus!”  Right on!  Part of the reason that we struggled with the conversation so much was that we all recognized and admitted our own imperfect knowledge and understanding.  I think that one of the reasons that God chooses to save us by faith in Christ and not by passing a theological or doctrinal test is that He knows not one of us would ever get any, let alone all, of it perfectly right.  And so, while some discussions of doctrine are at least important, and some are very interesting, our doctrinal certainties are not the basis of our salvation. 

I have no doubts in my mind about who Jesus is.  I have no doubts in my mind about what He can do (although since it’s far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend, I don’t know ALL that He can do, so I just say, “He can do anything!”).  But every once in a while, something comes along that tends to knock the tracks off the tank of our life’s smooth progress and we begin to question, to ask (even if just for a fleeting moment), “Do I really believe this stuff?  Does it make any sense to believe it?”  Sometimes those thought-provoking questions come as the result of a cataclysm of worldly proportions (tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), sometimes as a result of the fall of a man or woman of God who seems to have lost or abandoned all they ever held true for a momentary dalliance with sin.  Sometimes they come tip-toeing into my mind for no apparent reason at all. 

I am not the kind of person who is free from doubts.  I have had people tell me that they have never doubted for a moment the eternal existence of God.  Many times, such people also tell me that they’ve never felt the need to read any of the outstanding books that wrestle with the questions of God’s existence, evidences for it, for the resurrection, for the virgin birth, for the miracles, etc.  More power to them.  I’m glad that God has given them such a simple, yet strong and resolute faith.  Maybe someday I’ll reach a point where I never even have the thought or shadow of a doubt pass across my mind.  But for now – every once in a while, I wonder.  I ponder.  I question.  I think God can handle that just fine.  And, I feel stronger for having to wrestle with those things.  I think Thomas’ faith was stronger after he wrestled with his doubts about the resurrection and then had it confirmed as a result, don’t you?  Jesus said that Thomas was blessed because he believed – but those who have never seen and believed are at least equally blessed.  Jesus didn’t knock Thomas for the doubt.

So, what do you do when you are faced with doubts, when the moving picture of life beats you up one side and down another like an automated car wash? Here are some thoughts from my youngest son, Tim: 

“…I always recommend that in the midst of doubt, one continue to go to the places where one has met God before–it only makes sense.  But what’s most important for you to understand is that you do not need to “come back” to God.  God is not “back there” somewhere, as though you have left Him behind, and He is only in one place.  God has been right there with you all along, right beside your bed, with His hand on your shoulder as you wept.  We do not worship an abstract philosophical God.  We worship a God who cared about us in the midst of our suffering so much that He became human so that he could stand before suffering and death alongside us.  We worship a God who “so loved the world” that He gave Christ in order that whoever trusts in Him “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without realizing it, I can see that this is what I do when I question.  I got back to the place where I met God before – and find He’s still there.  The patriarchs made a habit of every so often revisiting places where they and their predecessors had encounters with God (Bethel, for instance).  There’s a lot to be said for that.  There is something about familiar surroundings that can help resolve the doubts.  And so I read the words and life of Jesus again, and there I’m struck down and reminded of what a great God He Is and why I believe in Him.  The answers that I found to the questions I’ve asked still hold water.  And I can’t avoid those answers – they are solid, like the Rock Himself. 

PRAYER:  Thank you for being patient with our shaky faith and deep-rooted questions, Lord.  Thank you for the story of Thomas and how you blessed him after his faith was confirmed.  Thank you for solid places upon which we can regain our footing when our faith falters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 9/15/17 – Your Garden of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 9/15/17: Your Garden of Gethsemane

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Have you ever stopped to think how many decisions you will make in any given day?  We make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  When we think of decisions, we tend to think of the weightier matters of life – and that’s a good thing.  Weighty matters deserve lots of thought as we try to decide what to do.  Hopefully, if you are a Christian, the very first thing you contemplate is whether or not the thing you are doing is in God’s will.  Regardless of whatever other factors you choose to apply to decisions you are facing and making, that one should be the most prominent. 

How do you know His will?  I’m not going to try to provide an exhaustive list here, but certainly His revealed and written Word is our primary tool for discerning his will.  If we cavalierly throw that out the window, we have no solid basis for a decision.  God expects us to follow the Word when we are facing decisions.  That means we have to accept it as truth, not try to explain it away or rationalize why it doesn’t apply to us.

One of my favorite stories about the life of Jesus has to do with his night in the garden of Gethsemane, my favorite place in the Holy Land.  I am moved by that story – even more, I think, that by the story of the crucifixion itself.  Physical pain is one thing, but spiritual pain can be far worse.  It was in the garden that we’re told Jesus was in agony – not on the cross.  (I’m not minimizing what happened upon those old timbers – I am sure there was incredible agony there, too.)  It was in the garden that he wrestled with both flesh and blood and principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Why?  Because in the garden he was faced with the decision that would form the crux of his life.  It all culminated there, in the shadows of the olive trees, as the Son of God knelt down in the dirt and made the most crucial decision in all of history: would he do things his way, or God’s way?

There are times and decisions in our lives that are seemingly insignificant (although I’d like to argue that one with you – notice I said “seemingly insignificant”), but then there are moments that clearly rise into the stratosphere in terms of importance.  At those times we are faced with our own garden of Gethsemane.  We must decide whether our prayer will be, “Nevertheless, my will not Thine be done,” or if we’ll echo Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” 

You may be wrestling with a decision today that has life-altering potential, that once made may not be able to be undone ever.  Have you considered what God’s Word would say about it?  If you know how God feels about it, what will you do about it?  You may be facing your own garden of Gethsemane right now.  What will your prayer be?

PRAYER:  Spirit, help us not to fail the test in moments of crisis.  Strip away Satan’s deceptions from our eyes so that we can see what is at stake in the decisions of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/14/17 – The Voice on the Battlefield

DayBreaks for 9/14/17: The Voice on the Battlefield

NOTE: Sorry for the missing DayBreaks yesterday. We just got our power back Wednesday morning and the internet Wednesday night!

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

It isn’t by accident that the Bible often uses terminology relating war to human life.  It’s a battle all the way, no matter who you are or where you live.  For some, each day is literally a battle for life and death – for food, water, running from roving bands armed with machine guns.  For others (and most  Americans), it’s a different kind of battle, but it’s still a battle.  We struggle with boredom, depression, busyness, with too many choices and perhaps too much opportunity.  Living in luxury has it’s own perils.

But by God’s good grace, one thing remains constant: whether we live and die in an African desert or in an American home or hospital, there is someone who is seeking us out:

“A famous military officer used to tell a story of an aged Quaker named Hartmann, whose son had enlisted in the army.  There came the news of a dreadful battle, and this old father, in fear and trembling, started to the scene of conflict that he might learn something concerning his boy.  The officer of the day told him that he had not answered to his name, and that there was every reason to believe that he was dead.  This did not satisfy the father, so, leaving headquarters, he started across the battlefield, looking for the one who was dearer to him than life.  He would stoop down and turn over the face of this one and then the face of another, but without success.  The night came on, and then with a lantern he continued his search, all to no purpose.  Suddenly the wind, which was blowing a gale, extinguished his lantern, and he stood there in the darkness hardly knowing what to do until his father’s ingenuity, strength and affection prompted him to call out his son’s name, and so he stood and shouted, “John Hartmann, your father calls you.”  All about him he would hear the groans of the dying and someone saying: “Oh, if that were only my father.”  He continued his cry with more pathos and power until at last in the distance he heard his boy’s voice crying tremblingly, “Here, father.”  The old man made his way across the field shouting out, “Thank God! Thank God!” Taking him in his arms, he carried him to headquarters, nursed him back to health and strength, and he went on to live a long life.” – J. Wilbur Chapman

We live on a battlefield, and the fallen are all around us.  Some of them may be your own children, your husband or wife, perhaps you yourself have fallen and lay on the battlefield, marred and disfigured – in desperate need of recovery.  Upon the battlefield that is this world, this life, on this day walks Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crying out to all who are wrecked by this awful, twisted world, “Your Father is calling you!”   He listens for the slightest response to his plea, eager to scoop us up in his arms and carry us into heaven.

Perhaps you have never trusted in Christ, but have been thinking of doing so.  Let me ask: what other alternative do you have that could be better?  Answer his call before he moves on.  Perhaps you are a believer, but have fallen by the wayside, disregarding the Word and the claim of God upon your life – choosing to go your own way instead of his.  Answer his call before you bleed to death.  Time is of the essence.

PRAYER:  We praise you that you come to search out our broken lives in the middle of this world, Lord.  Thank you that you have made the journey from heaven to earth to find us.  Give us ears to hear your voice and hearts willing to respond!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>