DayBreaks for 04/18/12 – What We Have Going for Us

DayBreaks for 04/18/12 – What We Having Going For Us

John 20:26 (NLT)
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.

I must say that “church” in the south is very much different than where we used to live in California.  We lived in the second least-churched county in the United States.  It was a county were people were into fine foods, dining, wine, leisure activities, etc.  Generally speaking, they weren’t into “church” or religion at all.

Not so here in the South.  Here we find big churches on nearly every corner.  It is the exception to see a small church building.  There are many churches around us that are large enough that it requires a police presence on Sunday mornings in order to direct traffic so people can get in and out of the parking lots.  The large churches here appear to have it all. I’m not judging them in any way.

Other churches, however, appear to have absolutely nothing. Look for example, at the church we see immediately after the resurrection of Jesus.  It is a small handful of disciples, hunkered down in an locked-door room  It is not a pretty picture.  Jesus, prior to his death, tried to prepare them to be a fellowship of faith, of profound love with the doors open and the welcome mat always out, but that’s not how we see them on Easter morning.  They were to be the people who would head out boldly into the world to bear fruit, people full of the Holy Spirit performing even greater works than Jesus himself (John 14:12).  But that’s not how they were on resurrection morning.  We find the early church cowering in fear, hoping nobody will find out where they are. We are seeing the church at its worst – afraid, discouraged and on the defensive.  If this group of Christians were to place a church ad in the paper, what could it say? “The friendly church where all are welcome”? No, not unless you think locked doors are a sign of hospitality. “The church with a warm heart and a bold mission”? I doubt it.  It’s more like the church with sweaty palms and a timid spirit.

John’s gospel shows us a church with nothing – no 1-, 3—or 5-year plan, no promise, no program, no flashy youth group, no preaching, nothing. In the final analysis, this scared band huddled in the corner of a room with a chair braced against the door had only one thing going for it: the risen Christ. And that seems to be the main point of the story. This is ultimately a story about how the risen Christ pushed open the bolted door of a church with nothing, how the risen Christ enters the fearful chambers of every church and fills the place with his own life – a life that changed everyone inside – and out.

PRAYER: Appear to us, Lord, as to your church in those early days, stir us to boldness and action, and may we never settle for anything less or anything more than Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/17/12 – Loose Him

DayBreaks for 04/17/12 – Loose Him

John 11:43-44 (NLT)
43 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

I think it is accurate to say that my favorite chapter in the New Testament is John 11.  It isn’t a chapter that is full of deep theology but it is a chapter of deep truth and emotion.  It is the chapter where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  Any time that I see a movie of the life of Jesus, that is my favorite scene.  I recently (on Easter) saw a movie about Jesus that has Jeremy Sisto as Jesus, and the scene was great.

That being said, there has always been something about the historical record that has puzzled me, and it is found in the verses shown earlier.  It doesn’t puzzle me that Jesus speaks and even the dead respond.  It isn’t that Lazarus was able to come out of the tomb, even though he was still bound.  What puzzled me was that Jesus asks the bystanders to “Unwrap him and let him go!”

You may recall that in a few short days, Jesus will himself be killed and rise from the dead.  But what happens when he rises?  He seems to pass right through the grave clothes and wrappings, leaving them intact and in place, just “collapsed” when the body left the wrapping behind.  Based on the scene when the disciples arrive there, that seems to be the case.  So why, when Lazarus rose from the dead, was it necessary for someone to unwrap him and “let him go!”?

I wish I knew. I’m not smart enough that I can figure it out.  But I suspect that it may have something to do with Jesus wanting us to learn that he is the one who gives life, but that we have a role to play in unbinding and setting people free.  We cannot provide the life, only Jesus can do that.  But he looks at us and issues to us the command to unwrap those whom He has given new life and to let them go!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for calling us out of our own death in sin.  Thank you for those who have helped unwrap us and let us loose!  Thank you for inviting us to join in the process of letting the dead free!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 Partners, Inc., just launched their first overseas project: Bright Future Children’s Home in Migori, Kenya, is home to 37 orphans in need of food, clean water and protection.  We are bridging the gap for a six month period until the children can be sponsored.  If you want to participate and help those children, you can either click the Donate “heart” below, or send a check payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092.  Thank you!  Donations are deductible.

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DayBreaks for 04/13/12 – As Hell Has Disappeared

DayBreaks for 04/13/12 – As Hell Has Disappeared

 From the DayBreaks archive, dated 04/18/02:

When we were little kids, we all had our fears.  Some strange character called “the boogey-man” haunted our nightmares and inhabited the spaces under our beds and in the closets of our rooms.  But time has passed and we know that there isn’t really a boogey-man.  Sadly, we’ve discovered that there are much worse things in this world than “the boogey-man”.

One of the things that our world and culture has done away with is hell.  When is the last time you heard a sermon on the topic?  It is in the bible – over and over and over – and unless you decide to trash the entire bible, you can’t trash hell.  Sadly, though, our wishes and hopes don’t determine reality.  While we might wish hell was just a literary device (like the boogey-man) and that it would go away, God is the only One who can make such a thing happen.  And while He hasn’t made hell go away, He has managed to snatch us out of hell’s grasp.

Listen to Calvin Miller’s reflection on the result of the “death” of hell and our role in our culture: “…traditional doctrinal values have been shot full of holes with the cannonade of multiculturalism.  Salvation itself has been widened far beyond the definition of Scripture.  Hell for the culturally elite isn’t there anymore.  As hell has disappeared, heaven is generally broadened to include everyone who dies.  All of this…goes to say that the secular realm will require our lives to be a sacrament.  But his burden is light.  There are strawberries in the darkness.  We whistle in the darkness, indeed, we must or the old tune will be lost.

“But what is that tune?

“The tune is the unchanging nature of spiritual reality.  This unchanging truth is grounded in God’s Word.  Nay, it is God’s Word!

“However, God sent out his warnings against time as it operates to change the content of His timeless truth.  Jude 3 asks us to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’

The fact that hell has disappeared for our culture makes it all that much more important for us to sing the Song, to whistle the tune of the truth to a world that longs to believe lies.  Why does the world want to believe lies?  Because they believe it sets them free.  As long as there is no hell, they need not fear spending eternity there and they don’t need to fear judgment for their deeds.  Jesus, however, wanted us to know the truth.  Lies can’t give us freedom, only the truth can do so: “You shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall set you free.”  (John 8:32)  The truth is that there is a heaven where God wants all of us to be – but there is also a hell where we can choose to be if that is what we want.  The choice still exists and people are making decisions about it day in and day out, moment by moment.

The world needs to hear the truth.  Will you whistle the tune so that they can hear?

PRAYER: Let us not fear the truth, Father, let us run to the Truth and there find our true freedom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 04/12/12 – All That’s Coming to Us

DayBreaks for 04/12/12 – All That’s Coming to Us

 

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 04/16/02:

“All I want is my fair share.”

How many times during your life have you heard someone say that?  Or, more significantly, how many times in your life have you said it?  We all what “our fair share”, don’t we?  It starts out when we are little children and we notice for the first time that mom or dad gave brother or sister a larger piece of cake, a bigger candy bar, or a fuller bowl of ice cream than we got.  And immediately, our instincts kick into full gear and we feel slighted, cheated, that the world has suddenly become a very unfair place!

Hello!  Welcome to reality!  The world IS a very unfair place…to Christians and to un-Christians alike.  In a strange way, curiosity starts this entire process.  We begin to wonder if someone is getting more of life’s good things than we are.  And it is pride that drives this curiosity.  It is nothing new to the twenty-first century, and this kind of thinking even existed in the days of the New Testament (in fact, we can even see it in operation with Adam and Eve wondering if they were getting all that they could or should be getting in the garden).

Calvin Miller, in The Unchained Soul, suggests: “This curiosity has us all wondering if we shall get ‘all that’s coming to us’.  We do this in front of the Savior.  Peter, after learning that he will be martyred, asks Christ as he points to John, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’  (John 21:21)  Spiritual one-upmanship reigned in his life!  Competition was his insatiable curiosity.  Peter wanted to be sure he got God’s best deal…Cain’s competition with Abel began in curiosity but ended in incrimination and murder.  It was Cain’s curiosity that kept asking, ‘How come Abel gets all the good deals in life?’  Curiosity not only killed the cat, it was the beginning of humanity’s competitive spirit.  It teaches us first to compete and later to hate…Our duty is to serve God and not be overtaken by undue concerns about others.”

What is amazing to me about all this is that we believe we are in a position to judge whether or not God is giving us the best deal!  We presume, by our judgment that others are getting more than we are, that we understand things better than God.  And we get upset, and like little children, stomp our feet on the floor and start to whine to God about “All I want is what’s coming to me!”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want what is coming to me.  I want what God is willing to give to me.  If He gave me what was coming to me, I’d spend eternity in hell, because as a sinner, that’s what should be coming to me!  But, praise God, because of His amazing mercy, God gives me much more than my fair share – He is building a mansion for me in heaven, he is going to take away all my tears, all my suffering, all my sadness.

I hope I never again feel as if I’m not getting my fair share.  What this world has to offer shouldn’t even be of interest to me.  My values and my treasure are to be in a far better place!

PRAYER: Thank You Almighty God, for Your unbelievably wonderful grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 04/11/12 – There Should Be No Hiding

DayBreaks for 04/11/12 – There Should Be No Hiding

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 4/9/02:

Luke 8:47 – “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.

Much has been said and much has been written about this story of the healing of the bleeding woman.  I’ve taught about it, written about it and preached about it.  And as with all things from God’s great Word, we can always gain a new and fresh insight.  Such is the case now.

I’d never really focused on the second phrase of this story: “…seeing that she could not go unnoticed…”.  I’d imagined that this woman, like anyone who has purposely and literally reached out and touched someone famous, she wished she hadn’t, or at the very least, that she’d been much more careful so that her touch hadn’t been noticed.

But now, she could forget about that.  Jesus had noticed.  No matter how hard she wanted to blend into the throngs surrounding Christ, she couldn’t.  She realized that she had been noticed, and that she couldn’t hide.

Here’s the lesson, as noted by Calvin Miller: “When God begins to touch our lives there should be no hiding.  Open confession, and not anonymity, is the business of the church.  Who are we to declare ourselves anonymous in lieu of Jesus’ great benediction, ‘Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil.”  (Luke 6:22)  Miller continues: “We never see any evidence of the church being a place to be comfortable while those who go there remain unchanged.  Nor are we anywhere commanded to major on church growth at the expense of truth and commitment and confession.

As a believer in Jesus, not only have you reached out to touch God, but God touched your life first.  What is your reaction?  Do you, knowing you have been in contact with the Almighty God, shrink back, wishing you could be unnoticed – wishing that your life could go back into anonymity and you could become a wall flower in the middle of a corrupt and sinful world?  It is not an option that is acceptable to God.  It is not a position that we should seek.

It is time to step forward.  There should be no more hiding of Christians and their Christianity.

PRAYER: Let us step boldly into Your Presence and then step boldly into Your world to be Your message and likeness bearers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 04/10/12 – Is It Nothing to You?

DayBreaks for 04/10/12 – Is It Nothing to You?

"Is it nothing to you?" - God

 ‘Is it nothing to you?’ (Lam. 1:12)

From The Unchained Soul, by Calvin Miller comes this analogy:

An African myth tells of a tribe whose people noticed that their cows were not giving as much milk as they once did.  In spying on their cows at midnight, they noticed a beautiful young woman carrying a large pail and floating down to earth on a moon ray.  She milked their cows and went back to the skies.  One the following night, when they trapped this thieving goddess, they discovered that she was the Sky Maiden, a member of a sky tribe who had no other way to get food for themselves.  The man who had trapped the Sky Maid promised to release her if she would return and marry him.  She agreed, but only if he would allow her to return to the sky for three days and prepare herself.  When she returned, she brought with her a large sealed box.  She told the man that she would marry him, but he must promise her he would never look inside the box.  They were married and for many weeks lived happily together, but one day when his wife was away from their hut, the bridegroom’s curiosity got the best of him.  He opened the box and looked inside.  He was amazed.  The box was empty.

“When the Sky Maid discovered that he had looked inside, she refused to be married to him any longer.  Her earthbound husband did not understand why she would leave him for so trivial a matter as an empty box.  She replied to him with these words: ‘I’m not leaving you because you opened the box, I thought you probably would.  I’m leaving you because you said it was empty.  It wasn’t empty; it was full of sky.  It contained the light and the air and the smells of my home in the sky.  When I went home for the last time, I filled that box with everything that was most precious to me to remind me of where I came from.  How can I be your wife if what is most precious to me is emptiness to you?’

“This parable explains the plight of God.  How is it that, when we mean so very much to God, he means so little to us?  Yet his love is unconditional.  It flows eternally toward us, whether or not we stop to love God in return.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Rom. 5:6-8)

“God loves us to the extremity of the cross and says to us, ‘Look in the box.’  Grace fills the treasure chest of God.  Is His glorious love of no value?  Do you experience this love beyond all telling, or are you incriminated by Jeremiah’s cry, ‘Is it nothing to you?’ (Lam. 1:12)

How important are the treasures of God to you?

PRAYER: May what You treasure be our highest desire, and may we treasure those things more than our own lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 04/09/12 – Playing Hide and Seek With God

DayBreaks for 04/09/12 – Playing Hide and Seek With God

From the DayBreaks archive, 04/02/02:

When I was a kid, I remember that I really enjoyed playing hide and seek.  It was a challenge of creativity to come up with the hiding place where no one would think to look, and to race back to the base and call out “Free!”.

Somehow, as I got older, my attitude about playing hide and seek changed.  It seems to have happened when I had my own kids, and we would play hide and seek.  When one of the kids was “it” and I’d be one of the ones who was supposed to be hiding, I really didn’t try very hard to hide.  Why?  Because I delighted in the squeal of laughter from my kids when they would find me…sometimes “hidden” in plain sight.

God plays hide and seek with us.  According to scripture, He does it much like I did with my kids.  Jeremiah 29:14 says – “I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”

God wants to be found!  He wants us to find Him!  And He delights when we do.  At the same time, we would do well to remember that, try as we might, we cannot hide from Him.  It didn’t work for Adam and Eve, Cain, Moses, Jonah or David.  It won’t work for us, either.

Are you seeking God?  He will be found…don’t give up the search!  He’s dying for you to find Him!

PRAYER: We were so lost, Lord, that we didn’t realize we were lost!  Thank You for finding us, and for delighting in our finding of You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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