DayBreaks for 4/28/17 – Why Christ HAD To Rise

DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Easter is over, but Christ is still risen!  It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place.  Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity.  And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection. 

In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day. 

But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”.  It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said.  John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  And that got me thinking.  Why did Jesus have to rise?  Several reasons, I think:

FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence.  If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God.  But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!

SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death.  Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations.  Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind?  Is it not their life, and not their death?  We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts.  And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock?  Why?  Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”

FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal.  I make no apologies for that.  But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ.  After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection.  Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection!  What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen?  Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone.  Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what?  If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise.  We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally.  And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.”  You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.

PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters.  The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe.  May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.  My mind would swim with images and imaginings of what it looked like, of the sounds of the roaring furnace, of the great king Nebuchadnezzar in all his finery as the music blared and the masses bowed down.  That is, they bowed down with the exception of three people: the Hebrew boys otherwise known as Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah. 

I always thought that this was a story about idolatry.  I’d always thought that the temptation they faced was to worship the golden idol of the Babylonian king.  After all, that’s how I remember the story from the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to help us “see” the stories.  It is only recently that I believe God opened my eyes to a more significant truth.  The story is about idolatry, all right, but the idol that the young men were being tempted to worship wasn’t really the 90-foot tall golden sculpture. 

No, the real test was one about worship.  What would be worshipped?  They’d been taught as Jewish children that “the Lord our God is One” and that “No one is like the Lord our God.”  They knew full well that He was the only One who was worthy of worship.  The idol that these boys were confronted with – and which they were tempted to bow down and worship – was themselves, their earthly lives.  If they worshipped the idol, they’d save their lives – if they didn’t, they might lose their lives.

Would these three young men be wise enough to recognize which was the greater danger: to die in a fiery furnace, or to worship and esteem something else (even if it is your physical life) higher than the worship of God is idolatry?

We are our own greatest idol.  We need to cast aside the idol of self that leads us to hoard money, love, compassion, wisdom, possessions, pleasures.  Even if it comes to laying down our lives in order to worship God, doesn’t God have a right to ask that of us?  Of course He does. 

Do you recognize your own self-worship and idolatry?  Every time we choose our way, our dreams, our own joys rather than His, we are bowing down to the idol of self-worship.

PRAYER:  Father, help us to recognize our idolatry and our self worship.  Give us the wisdom to be able to discern the greatest danger – the danger of not giving you the worship and glory that you alone deserve.  Tear down our idols of self-interest that we may be true worshippers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/26/17 – Be Careful Where You Cast Your Net

DayBreaks for 4/26/17: There Is a Right Side

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Statistically speaking, most of you reading this are right handed (about 90%).  We refer to those who write with their left hand as “using the wrong hand”.  Some teachers used to even try to teach lefties to write with their right hand.  It is a right-handed world.  Think about public telephones.  Think about power tools.  We drive on the right side of the road (except of course for the British who drive on the “wrong” side of the road).  Jesus even talked about the “right” side being good (the sheep) and the “left” side bad (the goats)!  Now, I know that spiritually there is nothing wrong with being left-handed.  Lefties are just different.  Baseball teams love left-handed pitchers because they’re scarce.  Recent statistics, however, showed that lefties don’t live as long as righties.  Don’t ask me why – I haven’t got the foggiest idea.

In John 21:4 says that Jesus told his followers: Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  I realize that when Jesus said this, he was talking about right as opposed to left, but there is a point to be made here: Whatever Jesus tells us to do is “right” and if we follow it, our lives will be filled with an overabundance of good things. 

I’m sure that sometime during the night time hours as the disciples fished, they’d thrown the net over the right side of the boat as well as the left.  They’d caught diddly, zero fish, zip, nada.  There was nothing magical about the right side of the boat.  Don’t you think that if there had been something magical about it that in all the years the disciples had been fishing that they would have noticed that every time they threw out on the right side instead of the left that they caught something?  They knew there wasn’t anything special about the “right” side of the boat.

But here’s the key: obedience.  Jesus told them what to do and they did it.  And it worked! 

It is no different in our lives.  Jesus tells us what to do and if we do it, we are blessed.  Whatever Jesus tells us to do is “right” – he’ll never tell us to cast our net on the “wrong” side of the boat.

If it seems like you’ve been fishing all throughout the night time of your life and that you have nothing to show for it, perhaps you’ve not been listening to what Jesus says is “right”.  Your own way is doomed to fail: Prov. 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Choose to do the “right” that Jesus has chosen for you – don’t trust yourself.  You’ll only end up dying as a result.

PRAYER:  Lord, let us be on the right side!  Let us rest confidently and not doubt your wisdom and guidance.  May we be quick to obey and eager to serve!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/25/17 – Don’t Beat Your Donkey

DayBreaks for 4/25/17: Beating Your Donkey

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The story of Balaam and his talking donkey is in Numbers 22.  Balaam was on his way to do something wrong, riding happily along on his donkey, when the way was blocked by an angel that the donkey could see but that Balaam couldn’t.  (That should have been the first clue that Balaam was blind to spiritual things!!!)  Because Balaam couldn’t see the angel and he was impatient, he started to beat the donkey.  Imagine his surprise when the donkey asked why he was beating her (vs. 28)!  Well, if it wasn’t humbling enough for Balaam to be questioned by a donkey, in Numbers 22:32, he is asked by God’s angel (who Balaam can now see): Why have you beaten your donkey…?  I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 

In a World Magazine, May 2, 1998 article titled “Donkey Talk”, Jay Grelen noted how a friend told him that he (Jay) acted as if he had a “sense of entitlement”, i.e., that he deserved to be treated a certain way, to be given certain privileges and treatment.  Jay was shocked, but came to see the words from his friend like the words from the donkey of Balaam.  Note what he says in his article: “Here’s what He (God) tells believers throughout the Bible: ‘I have redeemed you, yes, but I still hate, yes, with a burning passion, the sin in you as much as I hate the sin in those yet unredeemed.’  I needed to hear that.  I had convinced myself that my sins, especially the “small ones”, were less reprehensible in me than in others.”

“God exposed my superior attitude (which I kept neatly hidden even from my view) and showed how my sense of superiority led to my Sense of Entitlement.  ‘Of course I deserve more money, a better house, a book deal, a Pulitzer Prize, a comfortable life.’  ‘Why do you want to with a Pulitzer Prize?’, God asked.  “You know, God, so we can have believers succeeding in secular journalism.  So I can be a witness of You.’  ‘Tell me again?’  ‘Um, so I can make more money and be famous and rich and have a book deal.'”

“…a Sense of Entitlement fuels discontent and ingratitude – but I needed a reminder that when I think I deserve more, I’m saying God hasn’t given me enough.  In complaining about my situation, I’m biting the Hand that blesses me by already giving me more than enough…”

Galen’s Thoughts:  In the Old Testament, Shimei, one of Saul’s descendants was spitting on and mocking David as he fled from Absolom’s rebellion.  One of David’s men wanted to kill Shimei for disrespecting the king, but David wouldn’t let him.  David said, in essence, “No.  He may be right.  God may want me to hear what Shimei is saying.  I may need to hear it – no matter how uncomfortable it is.” 

Is God using some of your two-legged friends in your life as a “talking donkey” to give you a message you might not otherwise hear?  If so, don’t beat them – thank God for them!  You may be headed down a crooked and perverse path and He is warning you – perhaps even through the words of a donkey!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, for the many ways you try to break through to us, to get our attention and turn us back to your ways.  Let us have ears that hear, hands that are willing, and hearts that are eager to obey.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/24/17 – Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

DayBreaks for 4/24/17: Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

One of my very favorite stories from the bible is the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11.  It has all the elements a great story should have: drama, passion, a villain, a hero and a happily-ever-after.  What’s not to like about this story?

Yet, you recall how it goes: Jesus has been out of town, and his good friend falls sick.  Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, send someone to Jesus so he can come and heal Lazarus of his illness.  The messenger reaches Jesus, but he intentionally delays his return.  By the time Jesus gets back to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for 4 days.  The sisters aren’t too happy with Jesus for not coming sooner, but Jesus leads them out to the tomb.  In John 11:39, the sisters, after Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away, complain: Lord, already there is a stink because he has been dead four days. 

Jesus responds: Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God. 

It will stink.  “Over and over again we are stopped by the repulsion of the stink, even when Jesus is offering God’s glory.  To live lives of faithful worship, to cultivate God’s imagination for justice, to trust Jesus Christ to do a work of liberation and transformation means there will be times when our noses will be filled with the stench of human need and evil.  But far more profoundly, we will also have glimpses of the glory of God that can set the captives free.”  – Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship

How would you have felt if you were one of those who was asked to move the stone? Would you have drawn back in repulsion and said your back hurt so you couldn’t help move it? If the stone hadn’t been moved, would Jesus have raised Lazarus?  I don’t know.  I suspect he might have.  But I don’t know that.  But wouldn’t it have been a shame if the stone hadn’t been moved and God’s glory had been blocked by a human fear of smell?

How often have I been afraid to go somewhere with Jesus because I was more concerned about the “stink” than about the glory of God? 

PRAYER: Take away our fear of the scent of sin and death so we can see Your glory, for it is in the darkest and most foul places that Your greatest miracles are wrought.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/21/17 – Listen to the Birds

DayBreaks for 4/21/17: Listen to the Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Romans chapter 1 (starting with about verse 20) makes it clear that God has revealed His existence to man through the things that can be seen – His creation.  But mankind has decided that God doesn’t exist: Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  (Rom. 1.28)

Suppose for a second that a student were to write on a physics exam that she didn’t believe in atoms because she couldn’t see them.  No one would blame the professor for failing the student!  The existence of atoms is clearly undeniable on the basis of their recognized effects.  Just ask anyone who lived through Hiroshima or Nagasaki and they’ll tell you that atoms exist – they’ve seen their effect.  Yet man persists in insisting that God doesn’t exist because we can’t see, smell, hear, taste or touch Him.  Silly, isn’t it?!

Job 12:7-9 has this to say: But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 

In the movie, Doctor Doolittle (I think that was the name of it), the good doctor was supposed to be able to talk with the animals.  Scripture tells us that the animals will tell us about the God who formed them – and we don’t have to learn to speak their language! 

Why is it that “they (mankind) did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God”?  I don’t think it is because most of mankind really doesn’t want to believe there is a God, but rather that they don’t want to believe in the kind of God who would tell them not to practice sinful lifestyles – who would cramp our style!  We want to believe in a God who would tell us that we can do whatever we want and that because He loves us that He’ll just look the other way.  But that isn’t the God of the Bible.  He couldn’t look the other way precisely because He does love us too much. 

1 Pet 1:8-9 puts it this way: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 

Like the atom, God is unseen.  Like the atom, He is powerful.  Like the atom, He is real.  How tragic that the greatest thing in all of God’s creation and that which He loves the most (mankind) is the one thing in all the universe that denies His existence and which rejects Him.  Let’s all go outside and listen to the birds sing their melody about the greatness of God – and maybe we, too, can learn how to praise Him from the animals that He made!

PRAYER: For the wisdom behind the creation, we thank You and give You praise.  May we hear and sings songs of greatness to Your glory this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/20/17 – Almost Home

DayBreaks for 4/20/17: Almost Home

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The little town of Franklin, TN, was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  In the space of only 5 hours, 7000 men were killed and thousands of others wounded.  In that short amount of time, northern troops alone used up 100 wagon loads of ammunition.  Accounts written at the time described bodies being stacked six or seven deep for more than a mile along the Columbia Pike.  No one had ever seen anything like it.  The state of Tennessee didn’t have enough money to turn the entire area into a state park to commemorate the battle, but in the battleground stands the Carter house that now serves as a museum and memorial to this bloody battle. 

As terrible as the battle itself, there was one person who died on that day over 140 years ago that is arguably more tragic than the other 6999.  As the battle of Franklin raged, the Carters’ youngest son, Todd, was outside.  He was running for the shelter of home when he was struck down and died, virtually in the shadow of the house.  He was taken into the home dead.  Even today, more is probably written about that young boy who died in the battle than about any of the others who died. 

Several things about this story that struck me: 

First of all is the power of the death of the innocent.  It just doesn’t seem right when a young child is struck down because of the violence of adults.  Yet it happens.  And when the innocent die, people take notice.  An absolutely perfectly innocent person was struck down by our violence and sin.  And similar to Todd Carter, much has been written and said about him.  Jesus Christ, the innocent, was killed by us and for us.  He was almost home when he was “hit”, but he died willingly as a sacrifice – not running in terror. 

Secondly, I thought about how close we can come sometimes to being “home free” only to fail to actually arrive there.  We can’t control the people and events around us.  We know our intent – to get home safely – but sometimes things interfere with our well-laid plans, and in the shadow of the rooftop we fall.   I am very thankful that God is the One who will get us home.  I rejoice that He recognizes that I can’t make it on my own, that I alone would surely be cut down by Satan’s bullets.  He is able to handle our eternal destinies (2 Tim. 1:12).  We need to finish the race well, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, and not die in the home stretch.

The saddest thing, though, is to hear about those who are almost on the porch of the house and ready to enter, but who Satan snatches at the last moment.  The story of Paul’s defense before Agrippa is heart-wrenching, from Acts 26:28-29a: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am….”  There is no evidence Agrippa “made it home”.  How tragic and sad.

There are those today who are almost home but who aren’t quite there yet.  What a tragedy if we let them languish so close to heaven’s door. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the innocent Christ who died for us.  Help us to understand that we don’t control the events that swirl around our lives, but that in You, we are safe forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.