DayBreaks for 8/24/16 – The Power of Outward Appearance

DayBreaks for 8/24/16 – The Power of Outward Appearance

We live in a world that is obsessed with outward appearance. You can see it without even trying at the gym where I work out. People sweating and straining to make their bodies look better (I like to think that I’m just there so I’ll be healthier, but I know in my heart that I, too, am vain about my appearance!) Advertisements for botox injections for just $8 per unit (whatever that means!!!) I noticed a new ad the other day for something that will take away a double-chin…for a fee.

As I was having some time in the Word this past week, I was struck by a passage from John 10:22-24 (ESV) – At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

I love how John puts it so matter-of-factly…Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. He could have said “Peter was walking in the temple” and it would have been just as nonchalant.

Get it: John is say that God walked along the colonnade of Solomon in winter in the temple. It wasn’t just a man who was walking through the temple that day – God was walking there! He had a physical presence that could be seen but his glory was masked by the tent of human skin and bone. Yet make no mistake about it – it was God who walked in their midst…the very God who had parted the sea, kept a boat afloat in the greatest storm the world has ever seen, who slew giants, who dispatched an angel to slay thousands of Assyrians. This was the very God who had healed the sick, given sight to the blind, raised the dead, and yet the question remained in their hearts, Are you the Christ?

The power of outward appearance is immense…for good or bad. The physical presence hid the glory of God as Jesus walked through that colonnade that day. And that raises a terribly vexing question in my mind: How often does my outward appearance hide His glory from others? I’m not really talking about my physical appearance, but my actions and words that people see expressed through my physical appearance. My doubts and fears hid his presence in me. My insecurities mask my true identity in Christ as a child of God. My lack of faith, my explicit sin, my lack of compassion certainly hides the glory of God that is meant to be so visible in all His children.

I think they truly didn’t know if he was the Messiah or not, in spite of all he’d done. I’d like to think that if they did know he was the Messiah that surely they would not have killed him, would they? Maybe they would. They were so focused on what they believed was good for themselves that they didn’t really care. And maybe I am more like than I want to admit.

PRAYER: Jesus, would I recognize you if I saw you walking in the mall today? Would I believe if you looked just like me? Help me to learn from this – that my outward appearance and actions often hide your glory and make it impossible for others to see you in me. Forgive me! Let me look more like your true nature! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/23/16 – How Do You Define Peace?

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DayBreaks for 8/23/16 – How Do You Define Peace?

The Olympics are over. They are to be a peaceful celebration…a chance to act towards one another in a more civilized way. But, what is peace? How much peace do you have in your life? Do we even know what peace is all about?

“Peace” comes from the Latin, pax. To the Romans, it meant a stoppage of hostilities between the conqueror and the vanquished, with the conqueror dictating terms to the defeated. Pax, even in Rome, was temporary because it depended on who was in a position fo strength. One day it might be one group, the next day someone else.

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, mean much, much more. It has a rich meaning: wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity. It carries the idea not or transitoriness, but of permanence.

To Christian, shalom is the state of those who are assured of their present and future salvation in Christ. It gives contentment to those who have it – no matter their earthly lot or circumstance.

Note these differences between pax and shalom:

One person can dictate peace (pax); shalom is a mutual agreement.

Pax is temporary; shalom is a permanent covenant.

Pax is the absence of commotion; shalom the presence of serenity and wholeness.

I think that this is true: sometimes we are more than ready to just settle for détente. And when we aim so low, we miss what is best.

Don’t settle for anything less than shalom – not with relatives, friends, neighbors, employers…but most of all, not with God.

Where do we find shalom? Isaiah 9 tells us Jesus is the Prince of Peace…and of the greatness of his governance and peace there will be no end!

How is his peace different? Isaiah 53 tells us that ..the punishment that brought us SHALOM was on him and by his wounds we are healed.

It seems a bit strange to say this, perhaps, but without war there can be no shalom. Isaiah says to: the punishment that brought peace was laid on him. The full war came raging down on Jesus as the spiritual weapons of mass destruction pummeled Him…because of our sin. The war of God on sin was waged on the cross of Christ. Justice was served. War over!

Shalom came on that day by mutual agreement of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is what we have been freely given. If you want shalom, you can find it in the Prince of Peace. It will enable you to fear nothing from God – and to be content with your earthly lot – whatever that lot may be.

PRAYER: Prince of Peace, fill us with your shalom! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

There is no greater example of the gospel than that found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin…and the “prodigal son” story (and that’s a huge misnomer!) So, my dear, dear friend…this is a story for you…

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Our lead teacher (Randy) has been doing a series on this chapter and it has been so rich! Sunday, he spoke about this son – this younger, prideful, rebellious son and about his return home. There were some key points that I wanted to share from his message because they blessed me and I think they’ll bless you, too.

FIRST: this young, headstrong and inconsiderate man thought that in license there would be freedom. He wanted to cast off the restraints of living in the presence of the father, thinking that if he could only go and do what he wanted, to be in charge and control of his own life, that he could find happiness. But, as Randy noted, “License always ends in bondage.” We think that the lack of restraints is what will not only bring us joy, but bring us freedom. It won’t. It ends in bondage. License doesn’t set you free – the Truth is what sets us free!

SECOND: the son totally misunderstood the father. He is hoping against hope to be welcome to serve as a hired hand in the father’s house and business. That’s all he could aspire to, all he could imagine after what he’d done to his father. But this just shows how badly he misunderstood the father. There is no way that the father would take his son back as a hired hand! No! This son was treated to the father’s very own rob, to shoes for his feet, a ring for his hand…but far more than that, what was the greatest gift of the father was his embrace and kiss. Fathers don’t embrace and kiss hired hands…but they do their sons and daughters. This son had no idea how much he was loved by the father until the embrace and kiss took place!

THIRD: perhaps most importantly – and I hope you don’t miss this one – the embrace and kiss are NOT given to the son because he came home.  They are given because he was a son…a child so deeply loved by the father that no other response from the father was even possible! The embrace and kiss had to be given because the father couldn’t not constrain his love.

In order to come home, we have to believe in the love of the father. The young man believed – or rather hoped – that there was some compassion in the heart of his dad.  He just didn’t know the love that was in the father’s heart.

And so it is with you and me. We won’t come home (not to a physical or metaphysical place) but into the relationship of the Father’s person, unless we begin to believe He loves us. And when we make the first step, oh sweet joy! – the Father runs to us, encircles us with His almighty arms, and gives us a “welcome home” kiss!

Are you away from “home”, thinking that maybe if you’re super lucky, that the Father might let you inhabit the darkest corner of heaven as a sweeper of the golden street? Forget it! You will be welcomed as a beloved child – and the greatest celebration of all eternity will begin – and never end!

PRAYER: Oh, Father, Father, Father! Your love is so overwhelming! Help us believe that You love us like this – even more than this – and that we are welcome in the home of Your embrace forever! In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/19/16 – The Figure in the Darkness

DayBreaks for 8/19/16 – The Figure in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

From “Our Daily Bread”, October 1: “The early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves. On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was terrified! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all night long.”

Galen’s Thoughts: When was the last time you were afraid? As we get older, we aren’t as afraid of the dark as when we were younger. (But let’s admit it – OK? Aren’t you more easily frightened in the dark – still?!?! I am!) But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have fears. Your greatest fears may now be about your bills, your health, your children or grandchildren or your future. But you have fears. You know yours – I know mine. Sometimes it seems that every time you turn around, you hear a “branch snap” and it seems that your worst nightmare is about to come true.

We are, like the young boy in the story, away from the security of the family and tribe. Our citizenship is not in this world – it is in heaven and we are only passing through (Phil. 3:20). We won’t be home until we get to Heaven. So, in the meantime, we have to endure what I believe Thomas Merton referred to as “the long night of the soul”. The night is filled with sounds that alarm and frighten us – and yes, if we are honest – there are times we are very afraid. We sometimes wonder if we’ll make it.

And then the light dawns and we see we weren’t alone at all. For in the darkness is a figure who was keeping watch over us all during the “long dark night of the soul”, armed and ever vigilant to protect and deliver us in case of any danger. And it is our Father. And our fears vanish with the rays of the Son.

The darkness WILL end someday, and with dawning will come the realization that although at times we thought and felt we were alone, that we NEVER were alone – not even for a second. And then, our Father will take us home.

PRAYER:  Father, thank You for watching over us not only during the dark night but at every moment of the day and night for as long as we live.  What a comfort it is to know that you are always with us, that we are never lost from Your sight and never outside of Your protection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/18/16 – Titanic Story, #1

DayBreaks for 8/18/16 – Titanic Story, #1

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

This is from a letter to the editor of August ’97 Focus on the Family recounting a story about the sinking of Titanic and a man by the name of John Harper:

“…John Harper, who was on the Titanic and traveling to Chicago to become the pastor at Moody Memorial church.  In the icy water, Harper won his last convert just before he drowned – a young Scotsman who survived.  He later told how Harper called out – while clinging to a floating spar – “Are ye saved, mon?” and quoted Acts 16.31 just in time.”

Galen’s thoughts:

I wonder how I would have spent my last few minutes before dying in the icy water of the north Atlantic.  I might have had my mind occupied with my wife and children, parents or other family and friends.  I might have cried and been pleading with God to save me from drowning.  I don’t know if I would have been focused on trying to share my faith with someone else, but when you think of it, what better time could there possibly be to share your faith when those around you are on the verge of dying?

Isn’t that the sad part?  Because it is true that people all around us are dying and they are dying in their sins.  We, through the grace and goodness of God and for no other reason, have the life raft that they all need.  We just don’t see them as drowning, dying people.  We see them as laughing, shopping, working, studying, ordinary every day people who are just going casually about their business.  But without the saving blood of Jesus Christ, they are adrift in the cold waters that will take their life for all eternity. 

Part of the problem is that they, themselves, don’t realize that they are dying.  They think that they are just fine. That they are “unsinkable” and that all is well.  How sad and tragic! 

I’m reminded by a gospel hymn that was written long ago (I don’t remember the name of the composer) as he was aboard a ship that was sinking because the lighthouse wasn’t working.  The words go as follows, and they serve as a challenge to each one of us:  “Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave, some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.” 

We are the lighthouse.  We are to be set upon a hill so that the light can’t be hidden.  Let your light shine and rescue those who are dying.  Is your light shining bold and brightly?  This may be the last day you will have to reach a certain person, to touch them with the love of the Lord.   Throw out the lifeline to someone today!

PRAYER:  Give us Your sense of urgency for those who are lost and dying.  Give us boldness to speak words of truth. Your Words are truth and they are life.  May we never forgive that.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 8/16/16 – Titanic Story #2

DayBreaks for 8/16/16 – Titanic Story #2

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

This is from a letter to the editor of August ’97 Focus on the Family recounting another story about the aftermath of the Titanic sinking:

“The scene outside the White Star office in Liverpool beggared description.  A great crowd of relatives of those who had taken passage on that ill-fated vessel thronged the street.  On either side of the main entrance a large board had been placed.  Above one was printed in large letters, KNOWN TO BE SAVED.  The other: KNOWN TO BE LOST.

“Every now and then, a man would appear from the office bearing a large piece of cardboard on which was written the name of one of the passengers.  As he held up the name, a deathly stillness swept over the crowd; it watched to see to which of the boards he would pin the name.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

           What a tragic scene that must have been.  The heart-wrenching wait to learn of the fate of loved ones and friends!  And as each name came out of the White Star office, the crowd hushed to know whether or not the person whose name was on that card was dead or alive.

           It was just a name – but the name was connected to a real person who lived, breathed, laughed and cried.  A person who loved and was loved.  Perhaps a father, mother, husband, wife, fiance, son or daughter, brother or sister.  People are so much more than just a name on a piece of cardboard and they all have an eternal destiny to be won or lost.

           The names of the lists was so telling.  As tragic as it would be to have your loved one’s name put under the list that said “KNOWN TO BE LOST”, it will be even more tragic if their name isn’t found in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 20.11-15). 

           I’m sure that each of us has someone whom we are related to or whom we love that doesn’t know Christ.  What can you do for them?  Pray.  Pray and pray and pray.  Love them.  Speak the truth of Jesus in love to them.  Let them see the love of Jesus in you.  Avoid loud and angry controversy – demonstrate His love.  Refuse to raise your voice in either anger or frustration.  Too much is at stake to blow your witness. 

           Last week I heard a great idea: a minister in a town not far from where I live has a fishbowl in his church auditorium that contains pictures of loved ones and friends for whom the congregation is praying for salvation!  What a wonderful idea!  Once someone comes into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, they take the picture out of the fishbowl.  Right now they aren’t doing anything with the picture, but they plan to put a fishnet up and put those pictures on the fishnet as people who have been “caught” by the Master Fisherman, who in turn makes us “fishers of men”!  Why don’t you do the same?  It’ll remind you to pray for their salvation and to be a witness to and for them.  Pray diligently that their name may be moved from the KNOWN TO BE LOST to the KNOWN TO BE SAVED!

By the way – what list is your name on?  1 John 5.13 tells us that we may KNOW that we have eternal life.  If you don’t have it, if you don’t know you have it, now’s the time to be sure – someday it’ll be too late!

PRAYER:  Lord, our unsaved friends and family weigh heavily on our hearts.  We pray today for their salvation – that they will have their names added to the book of life through their faith in Your Son, Jesus.  May we join Your invitation to become fishers of men.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/15/16 – The Olympic Refugee Team

DayBreaks for 8/15/16 – The Olympic Refugee Team

Steve Brown, a Christian speaker and writer, has a saying: All life illustrates Bible doctrine.

It is hard to deal in absolutes, but Steve puts it right out there: ALL life illustrates Bible doctrine. The more you think about it, the truer it sounds. And as it does, there’s a wonderful truth: God is in control of all things, and all things will glorify Him at the end of the day.

Some examples of this truth are easier to accept than others: you get a speeding ticket, and it points to sin and consequence. Someone gives you a gift and it points to the grace of God. Sure, it’s sometimes hard to see some of the events of life and how they may point to the gospel and/or our sin, but if you will pause, as events happen, and ask the question: Is there an illustration here of Bible doctrine, Bible truth? Over time, you will see the mystery of the Kingdom as it is revealed in your life’s events – the things you see, hear, do, read and watch.

You may have been watching some of the Olympics over the last week. You realize, don’t you, that they are about much more than fast times and the winning of medals. They can point to the One who wears the crown and to the communion of saints as well as idols, effort and overcoming adversity.

If you did watch the Olympics recently, you may have heard about Team Refugee. They are a group of ten men and women who fled their countries due to war and persecution. They were without a home and with no country to represent. So, the Olympic Committee invited them to come and walk under the Olympic banner.  They may not be the best athletes, but the committee said that they deserve to belong to the Olympic movement.

How, you ask, does that point us toward eternal things?

Well, maybe you know people who are not in the kingdom. If so, in reality, they are like Team Refugee – they are without a real home or a real country.  They are refuges. Our leaders says they can walk under His banner if they are willing to come as they are, put on the uniform of His movement – the righteousness of Christ.

If you think about it that way, you may be moved afresh to reach out to those around you, knowing that once, you too, were invited to walk under His banner.

So, how about a bit of homework? Watch some of the Olympics this week. Practice seeing how life (including the Olympics) illustrated Bible doctrine? I think if you do (and if I do, too), we will see them with more excitement and joy because they will strike a deep, rich chord of hope and perserverance.

We you willing to do it? Great! Now get to it!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for taking such a rag-tag team of refugees and dressing us in Your righteousness and inviting us to be part of Your team! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.