DayBreaks for 8/31/17 – The Sinner’s Feast

DayBreaks for 8/31/17: The Sinner’s Feast

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

One of my favorite pictures of Scripture is the feast scene that gets brief mention in Revelation, and in a few other books of the NT.  Let’s face it: we love to eat, don’t we?  And we love to have a great time, right?  What can be more exciting and fun than a festive dinner with all the trimmings, all your best friends gathered round, laughter, music…and you don’t have to either pay for it or clean up the mess afterwards?  In about 2 months, our daughter will be getting married – and I look forward to the dinner after the wedding.  What a joy it will be!!!

We might think of the feasts described in heaven as the Christian’s feast…a feast that will be designed, catered (and served, according to Scripture!) by Christ Himself.  I am sure that there never has been, nor will there ever be, any celebration greater than that of the marriage supper of the Lamb of God with His bride, the church.  By God’s grace, I look forward to being there to enjoy it!  No, it wouldn’t be wrong to think of that home-coming/marriage feast as the Christian’s feast.  But there’s another feast that perhaps more properly is the Christian feast – in his sermon “The Sinner’s Feast,” Lee Eclov describes what should be the celebrative side of Communion in the context of worship:

“This table is different. This table of the Lord isn’t where sinners find Christ but where sinners celebrate being found …

“Maybe some morning, instead of solemnly passing these trays, we should dance for joy.  Maybe we should sing every born-again song we know.  Maybe we should tell our “homecoming” stories and laugh like people who no longer fear death.  Maybe we should ask if anyone wants seconds and hold our little cups high to toast lost sisters found and dead brothers alive.”

Have you ever laughed like you didn’t fear death?  I don’t know that I have.  But I should.  Every Sunday at the Lord’s table, I should.  After all, I’m one of those dead brothers who have been found alive.

PRAYER: Hallelujah, Lord God!  What kind of God are You that can take dead men and women and bring us to life again?  May we laugh in Your very Presence as those who no longer fear death because of what Jesus has done!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/30/17: Cotton Candy & Sin

DayBreaks for 8/30/17: Cotton Candy & Sin

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

I love cotton candy.  I can’t say that I remember the very first time that I tasted it, but I have loved it ever since I was a tadpole.  Every year in our town, there is a fair.  We’re not the county seat or anything, but there is a fair each February.  (Yes, I know, February is a crazy time to have a fair – it is almost guaranteed to rain every day of the fair, and yet kids are out there riding the rides, getting drenched, etc.)  Do you know what I do?  I will go to the fair and pay the price of admission just in order to get a bag of cotton candy!  I like the pink kind – for some reason, the blue or green stuff just doesn’t seem right.

I have noticed something strange about cotton candy, and it’s a bit distressing, actually.  You get a whole big bunch of the stuff either on a paper handle, or in a plastic bag.  And while it is rather messy the way it attaches itself to your fingers after a few bites, the distressing thing about it is how quickly it disappears, and how little is really there.  I mean, here’s this big old bag full of delicious looking pink stuff, and when you bite into it, well…there’s just not much there.  When you think about it, you are paying mostly for air.  Even if you rip a big chunk of it off and squish it into your mouth, it’s like it immediately disappears into nothingness. 

Lots of show…not much substance.  Isn’t that just like sin?  It looks so good, it promises so much, we think it will quell the rumbling of our desires – but when you actually bite into it, it leaves you dissatisfied…and wanting more, in a strange way.  It never really fulfills you.  Why?  Because it is not true food, it is not the Bread of Life.  It is the bread of death, and how can that be satisfying?  Our very natures rebel against the end-game of death, so why do we consume so much that only contributes to our spiritual death?  Foolish, isn’t it?  It’s rather like paying for air and then wondering why we are still hungry.

John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Isaiah 55:2 (NIV) – Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

PRAYER:  Feed us with your truth, Father.  Let us eat and be satisfied with the food that is everlasting.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/28/17 – Humans and Infallibility

DayBreaks for 8/28/17: Humans and Infallibility

There is something about us humans that just loves certainty.  We’re not keen on the unknowns. We struggle with it and are uncomfortable if we’re not sure about things.  We even have actuarial tables that deal with probabilities. Insurance companies use them to decide who and what to insure and what to turn down.  Sure, they don’t know for sure when anyone will die or have an accident, but they have calculated the odds and are willing to risk money betting that you won’t die prematurely (i.e., before they get their money’s worth out of you.)  We speak highly of those who are so self-confident and sure of themselves.  They project an image of infallibility that we find comforting – and so they are the kind of people that others willingly and eagerly follow – the certainty they possess makes them seem safe. 

And so, when it comes to God and what we believe about Him, we would like to have certainty – or at least a bit more certainty than we naturally have.  Some people choose to not believe in God because His existence cannot be “proven”,  only speculated (albeit with lots of good reasons, in my opinion!)  No one has seen Him, many claim to have heard from Him, we blame things on him (even in insurance contracts) when we refer to them as acts of God. 

So, what about certainty in what we believe?  I hope you won’t take this wrong, but in some ways, I’m less certain about things I believe than I once was.  By that, I don’t mean the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the reality of the Spirit, the reliability of the Bible, etc.  I believe in all those things, and as I get closer to the end of this planetary journey, I find my faith in those things grows stronger and stronger each day.  What I am talking about, though, is the degree of confidence I have in my own judgment and understanding.  When I was younger, I was very self-confident. I was part of a very legalistic religious tradition that, although they would have denied it, seemed to believe that Godliness was next to rightness – that you had to believe according to a long list of doctrinal positions on everything from card playing to dancing to co-ed swimming to the millennial questions, etc. 

And for a while, in my foolish younger years, I thought I had all the right answers.  I’m so grateful that God is merciful and forgiving of such preposterous foolishness.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about this kind of thing in relation to “hearing” God and our level of certainty with what He is saying and wants us to do: Of course, you could still be wrong.   God does not intend to make us infallible by His conversational walk with us.  You could also be wrong about most of the beliefs on which you very successfully base your life.  But you are usually correct.  You could also be wrong in believing that your gas gauge is working, that your bank is reliable, that your food is not poisoned.  Such is human life.  Infallibility, and especially infallibility in discerning the mind of God, simply does not fit the human condition.

How many times have I had someone tell me that “God said He’s going to do this-or-that,” only to find out that He didn’t do it.  It’s sometimes enough to make you wonder who or what they are hearing.  We need to be cautious when we talk about how we’ve “heard” God tell us something.  Do I believe He can and does from time to time?  Absolutely!  But much is ascribed to God that I don’t think He ever said.  If it’s in the Word – count on it – if you keep it in context.  If it’s just in your head – be wary until God has confirmed it through the Word or through other means.  Telling others that God has told us something, only to not have that thing happen, can cause them to lose confidence in His existence. 

God invites us to listen to Him.  It’s the right thing to do.  Just be careful about what voice you’re really hearing.

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, that you do desire to not only hear from us, but to talk to us.  Help us to recognize you voice and not to read our own wishes and hopes into situations, but to trust you to reveal your holy and perfect will in due time.  Keep us from deception that we may walk in the pathway of truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/25/17 – Where Are My Keys?

DayBreaks for 8/25/17: Where Are My Keys?

Do you struggle to remember where you put your keys? Or glasses? Wallet or purse? Have you drive away from home and you just can’t remember if you locked the door, turned off the stove or shut the garage door? I have.

We struggle to remember things, don’t we? How long has it been since you brought to mind this past Easter and the power of that week for believers? I bet you’ve not given in much thought since it happened, have you? I haven’t. The busyness of life makes it hard to recall such things.

So, how can we remember “the week that was” and other such things? Wouldn’t it be great if we could live the power of that week all year long?

Maybe we can. Recall that on Palm Sunday Jesus came to town as King. He will do that again, you know. On Thursday, we recall the table and encourages us to love others as he has loved us. Friday is the day that we were freed from our debt. Sunday death was conquered and our own resurrection guaranteed. Now aren’t those things worth remembering all year, all life long?

So, how can we do that when we can’t even remember our keys?!!! It may be easier than you think. How about this: you have a phone with a calendar that has appointment and reminder capabilities. It’s great to use it to remember business meetings, calls, kid’s activities, etc., but we can put it to much greater use. The phone calendar wasn’t created just for the mundane. It is a gift from God to help us mark our days!

How about trying this:

THURSDAY: set a weekly recurring reminder for 10 minutes to ask yourself and the Spirit to reveal to you how well you’ve been doing in loving others and washing their feet?

FRIDAY: set a weekly recurring reminder for a 5 minute prayer time to celebrate your freedom from the debt of sin and the price that was paid so you could be free…forever.

SATURDAY: set a weekly recurring reminder for a 5-minute prayer time to pray for his return because you long for his kingdom to rule on earth even as it is in heaven.

SUNDAY: besides going to church (which should be a given), set an appointment for 30 minutes to recall his resurrection and coming return so you can recalibrate your soul for the coming week. It’ll help you remember what’s truly important.

You see, we can remember the “week that was” if we want to. We can make it part of our life’s rhythm. Let’s take the calendar on our phones captive and use them to look back, look ahead, and look within.

PRAYER: How quickly we forget about what really matters, Lord. Help us remember that all things were created by and for you (Col. 1:16), even calendars on phones. Help us put such seemingly mundane things to uses that are worthy of your name! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/24/17 – On Rough Water, #3

DayBreaks for 8/24/17: On Rough Water #3

They say that the best way to tell if someone has learned anything is whether or not there has been a change in behavior. I’ve written twice recently about Peter and his adventures in water walking. And yesterday, I suggested that perhaps what Jesus meant when he said “O, you of little faith” to Peter wasn’t so much about Jesus power to keep Peter walking on the water (after all, Peter did cry out to a man walking on the water to save him!), but about whether Jesus might be willing to save a man who started sinking.

So, did Peter learn from this episode? I think he did. Consider:

FIRST: remember that Peter was the one who asked the Lord to invite him to walk on the water in the first place. Perhaps the last instance where Peter and Jesus interacted at the lake was after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, after the denial. Peter and the disciples had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee as Jesus had instructed them…and they then went fishing. Early one morning as they were out on their boats, they witnessed someone walking on the shore who tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they take in a huge haul of fish. Jesus, we’re told, was on the shore cooking fish. As soon as Peter recognized it was Jesus, he didn’t shout out to Jesus to invite him to walk on the water to the shore. I think that this is a sign that he had learned some things about himself and his weaknesses.

SECOND: in the instance during the storm, Peter asked Jesus to invite him to come to him on the water. Not this time, however. Peter jumped right in and swam to shore. What that tells me is that Peter had learned something about the love that Jesus had for him…and he couldn’t wait to get to Jesus. Peter got wet the second time, but he was so eager to get to Jesus that he got wet of his own volition the second time.

Why did Peter now trust in the Lord’s love? After all, the denial had been sandwiched in between the walking on the water and jumping in to swim to Jesus. You’d think that if Peter had doubted Jesus’ love the first time, he’d surely doubt it after the denial. But he doesn’t appear to doubted at all. Why? What had changed? The crucifixion…the crucifixion changed everything. No one who stood there that day who had the slightest inkling of what was going on could ever doubt God’s love.

We who are alive today couldn’t stand on Golgotha the day Jesus died so we could see with our eyes the length and breadth of Jesus love. We can only see it through eyes of faith. Even though he stood far off, Peter saw it firsthand. And he never doubted Jesus’ love again. Neither should we.

PRAYER: Jesus, I wonder how much more we’d understand your love if we’d stood on Calvary’s hill as you died. Help us to see it with the eyes of our souls so we will leap into the water and swim to you rather than fear rejection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/22/17 – The Sun, Moon and Stars

DayBreaks for 8/22/17: The Sun, Moon and Stars

Psalm 19:1-6 –  The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night shweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Amos 8:9 – And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Well, it’s over. I hope you lived somewhere that you could get a good look at the eclipse today. Where we lived, the eclipse wasn’t total, but 99.33% total. And let me say, it was amazing!

The temperature must have dropped at least 5 degrees if not more. The light became eerie in shade. I likely shall not see such a spectacle again, but I thank God that I was able to see it today. We had solar glasses and to watch the moon slide in front of the sun over an extended period of time was truly spellbinding.

As I watched the eclipse, my mind was drawn to several thoughts:

FIRST: I was struck at how perfectly the disk of the moon covered the disk of the sun. And yet, there are about 92.71 million miles between them. But God arranged it so perfectly that one would think they were the same size. We need to remember that things aren’t always what they seem…especially when something is God’s doing.

SECOND: I was struck by the fact that the moon was invisible…that is, you couldn’t see it if you looked up toward the sun because the light of the sun so totally overwhelmed the moon. Still, it was amazing to watch a black hole eat up the sun, the sun to virtually disappear, only to have it be born again. And I thought of how the Light of the Son so totally overwhelms anything else that pretends to be light.

THIRD: It is amazing, even at 99.33% totality, how much light remains. You’d think that the sky would be darkened 99.33%, but it isn’t. There is so much light streaming down that it wasn’t pitch black – not even close. I need to remember that when I start to think about the extent of the darkness in the world and how all pervasive it seems. The darkness still hasn’t overcome the Light…it’s no contest, an unfair competition.

FOURTH: I was struck with the thought that God did this for us – for our wonder and amazement. After all, no one else but humans in the entire universe could see it. God didn’t need to see it. We did. I thought about the massive distances at work, the size of the sun and moon, of the fact that they MOVE, that they seem to hang upon nothing. How can that be? Because it is God and his voice that set them in place, that calls them forth to run in their courses, and even more impressive, can cause the sun to stop still in its tracks if he chooses to do so.

Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV) – When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

PRAYER: Oh, God, how humbled I was by the show you put on in the sky today! Thank you for the reminder of how great and awesome your works are, but even how much greater you are than what you have created! Thank you for the delight of what we witnessed and the wonder it caused in so many. I pray it may turn hearts to seek the creator of such wonders! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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