DayBreaks for 4/30/18 – Everyone in Hell has a Big But

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DayBreaks for 4/30/18: Every One in Hell has a Big But

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

Let’s take a closer look a favorite saying of those who know little or nothing of Scripture: “If you live a good enough life, you’ll make it to heaven.”

The following is from Greg Stier:

“After preaching in countless churches across the nation, I’m convinced that these fighting words are the biggest lie that is still being bought by millions of professing Christians. There is a mentality that “sure Jesus died for me, BUT…” As a matter of fact, I always say that “everyone in hell has got a big BUT”:

“BUT you also have to live a good life.”
“BUT you also have to obey The 10 Commandments.”
“BUT you also have to live by The Golden Rule.”
“BUT you also have to turn, try, seek, surrender…”

“The way of work and the way of grace are separate ways. If you seek to earn salvation via the way of work, you have to go the whole way. Jesus laid it out pretty clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus begins the “You have heard…but I say unto you” list of impossible standards, I’m sure that everyone listening wilted. Those present (save Jesus himself) had unjustly been angry at their fellow man and had lusted at their fellow women. And having lusted, they were busted and unable to measure up to the ultimate standard of entrance into heaven: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). 

“If our people dare approach Christianity as a religion, then the standard is impossibly high. To get into heaven, we have to be as good as God himself.

“Oops.

“That’s why the offering of salvation is the way of grace through faith and not by good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Those ways, according to Romans 11:6, cannot be mixed: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

“We need to do our best to help all of our people embrace the way of grace for the salvation of their souls. What’s interesting is that, when they do, good works will flow out of grateful hearts that long to please the Father who redeemed them through grace.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Paul got on the same bandwagon with Jesus when Paul wrote Galatians to show the foolishness of trying to please God by living the Law.  Still, I think Stier is on to a real truth: I think we’ll be surprised when we get to the judgment and we start to hear many say, “But Lord, I lived a good life,” “But Lord, I’m even a better person than some of those so-called Christians,”, “But Lord, there must be some mistake,” and “But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?”

There is only “but” that will work: “I am but a sinner, clinging to the cross of Jesus.”

PRAYER:  Father, teach us not to offer You excuses, but penitent, humble hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 4/27/18 – Kidy S Noy Pgg

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DayBreaks for 4/27/18: Kidy S Noy Pgg

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s just a little white lie”, or “It’s not big deal” when they are talking about something they’ve done which was wrong?

To sin: from the Greek hamartia, meaning “to miss the mark.”  You’ve probably heard that before, I imagine.  And I know that I’ve written about it before in DayBreaks.  It’s an archery term, describing what happens when the archer, well, misses the mark, the target. 

Missing the target may not be too bad if you’re shooting at a bulls-eye ring of circles that’s backstopped by a bunch of hay bales or a dirt hillside.  But it takes on an entirely different color if you’re talking about William Tell shooting at the apple on the head of his son.  In that case, missing the target could be horrible or not so bad – depending on which direction you miss!

So, let’s agree that missing the mark can be a bad thing in arrows, bullets, throwing knives or bomb dropping.  But how about in our loving obedience to God?  Does a little missing of the mark here or there really make that much difference?  Is it that noticeable, especially considering the fact that God is engaged in cosmic warfare against evil, not to mention He must be pretty busy keeping the universe going according to schedule? 

Sin is missing the mark.  Did you wonder about the title of today’s DayBreak?  If you haven’t figured it out, it’s the words “Just a bit off” typed on the computer keyboard one letter off to the right.   Let me ask: how much difference did it make?  When you first looked at the title, could you tell what it was?  Did you notice it? 

God notices all we say, do, think, don’t say, don’t do or don’t think.  And when we miss even a little bit, it gets His attention.  But there’s a key difference: God knows what we were doing, whereas you probably had no clue what the title of this DayBreaks meant.   You probably just assumed Galen had gone wacko (not a bad assumption, by the way.) 

Missing the mark matters when it comes to God – always.  Sin matters – always.  Let’s stop pretending that it “won’t affect me and it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”  Those are Satan’s lies and have no place in our thinking.  And our missing the mark can make it very hard for anyone else to understand what being a Christian is all about.

PRAYER:  Lord, have mercy on us.  Help us to focus on the goal we’re shooting for – to become like You, to carry Your likeness engraved on our hearts and minds.  Help us to fly true and straight to the center of the target!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/26/18 – Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

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DayBreaks for 4/26/18: Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

When is the last time that you heard the word “sin” actually spoken outside of a church – other than in a sneering derisive way?  I don’t know if I can honestly recall.  In fact, one wonders if perhaps the word is spoken very often inside churches these days.  Why is that?  No less than 50 years ago, the word could be heard at least every once in a while from politicians, businessmen, teachers, professors and certainly in churches.  Why no more?

It has to do with the shift in our thinking from the realm of spiritual things being relegated to nothing more than personal belief without anything to recommend it to a serious thinker or scholar as being more than just superstition.  When the Bible as God’s special revelation was thrown out, and when the real historical Jesus was made into a farce by the “Historical Jesus movement”, and when universities began teaching that anything the wasn’t scientifically provable should be thrown on the dust heap as so much gibberish, then there was to sin anymore, no mark that we would be missing.  Because, you see, God can’t be scientifically proven, therefore He must not exist. 

So, if you ask most people in our culture what, if anything, they think of sin, Don Everts in The Smell of Sin suggests it would be like asking them what they think of unicorns.  (In fact, I suspect that some might give more credence to the existence of unicorns – perhaps even if only in the past – than they do to the existence of God, although there’s far more evidence for the latter!)  Still, most people know that unicorns are a myth.  As Everts says, “So the debate is: is it a cute myth or a silly myth or a destructive one?  Sin really has joined the ranks of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in our culture: something that you once believed in as a child but have since grown out of…So, what does sin smell like to most of our neighbors?  Nothing.  Air.”

Has sin vanished from your vocabulary?  Have you relegated it to something other than what it is?  Have you developed cute names for it (“goof-up”, “mistake”, “slip of the tongue”, “mis-step”, “an oops”)?  God calls it sin.  And He reminds us very clearly: (Ezekiel 18:4, NIV) – For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son–both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

PRAYER:  Father, keep us from believing fairy tales and give us the wisdom to believe You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/25/18 – The Surprising Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 4/25/18: The Surprising Proclamation

John 4:25-26 (NIV) – The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.

The verses above are taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.  It’s a fascinating story for a variety of reasons.  Jesus, a man, initiating a conversation with a woman.  It wasn’t supposed to happen that way – not in that age.  Jesus, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan.  It wasn’t supposed to happen – Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate one another.  Jesus was a rabbi, a very holy man – and this woman was, well, less than virtuous.  She had gone from one relationship to another, and was now living with a man to whom she wasn’t married.  No self-respecting rabbi would strike up such a conversation.

But Jesus wasn’t into self-respect, he was into love and sharing that love with anyone who needed it – and certainly, it would appear that this woman had perhaps mistaken many things for love in the past. 

The most amazing thing, however, about this story, was Jesus’ announcement that he was the Messiah.  As far as we know, this is the very first time that Jesus identified himself this blatantly.  He hadn’t made this kind of proclamation to even his disciples, so why this woman?

I believe he announced himself to this woman precisely because she was the kind of person who needed to know that the Messiah had come.  This woman probably had lost most of her hope for her life.  Her track record this far had not been stellar.  With the first relationship, she probably had hoped that “my life is set and I’m on track for happiness.”  But her heart had been broken.  Then came a succession of more men – and with each one, more heartbreak had come and a bit of hope had died as each relationship died.  Perhaps she wondered, deep in her heart, if there would be any hope for her at all.

And to this hurting, shame-filled, discouraged woman, the Messiah is revealed for the first time.  It was for women (and men) just like this one that Jesus had come.  And in revealing himself to her, hope and possibility were reborn.

Our sins burden us and crush us and destroy joy and hope.  Stop by the well and drink the Living Water that the Messiah gives and you will never thirst again.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to sinners like us.  Renew our hope and open our eyes to what it means that the Messiah has come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/24/18 – They’ve Never Been There

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DayBreaks for 4/24/18: They’ve Never Been There   

The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them – how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?

So the explorer did what all good explorers do – he said to the people, “go and find out for yourselves what it is like”, and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.

The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it. Some made copies of it. After a period of time many of those who made copies for themselves considered themselves experts on the river – and indeed they knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids where and where the falls. They knew the river and they instructed others in what it was like whenever those people indicated an interest in it.

I think that many people today are in the same situation. We know the scriptures but we do not understand them. And we do not understand them because we have not been there. We must not simply look at the scriptures and their meaning, we must go there. We must experience what it means to repent of our sins and allow God to forgive us. Would you this morning take the map down from the wall and go to the river with me. See what is there. Allow Christ to open your mind, to breathe his Holy Spirit upon you, and make you a disciple from the heart.

PRAYER: Let us drink deeply from the sweet well of your word and Spirit that we may know you from experience and not just from printed page! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/23/18 – Something Evil This Way Comes

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DayBreaks for 4/23/18: Something Evil This Way Comes   

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of The Science of Good and Evil, wrote on 3/18/04:

“I once had the opportunity to ask Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s List, what he thought was the difference between Oskar Schindler, rescuer of Jews and hero of his story, and Amon Goeth, the Nazi commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp.  His answer was revealing.  Not much, he said.  Had there been no war, Mr. Schindler and Mr. Goeth might have been drinking buddies and business partners, morally obtuse, perhaps, but relatively harmless.  What a difference a war makes, especially to the moral choices that lead to good and evil.”

Shermer goes on to quote Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

This reminds me of the parable Jesus spoke about the Pharisee and that tax collector.  The Pharisee saw himself in rather glowing terms: “Thank you, God, that I am not like others – like this tax collector!”  The tax collector, meanwhile, was downcast and pleaded, “God, have mercy on me a sinner!”

Who do you most closely identify with – the Pharisee or the tax collector?  I hope it is the latter, for we all have the “line dividing good and evil” that cuts right through our own heart.  The sin we do in private goes unseen except by God, giving us all the temptation to sound and act like the Pharisee, but God knows better.  When we approach one another, we’d be wise to recognize that something evil this way comes.

We can’t cut out a piece of our own heart.  We can desperately plead with God to create within us a new heart to replace our diseased one.

PRAYER:  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!  Cast me not away from Thy Presence, O Lord, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/20/18 – Coloring Outside the Lines

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DayBreaks for 4/20/18: Coloring Outside the Lines 

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

My granddaughter, Kailani, is now 5, and she’s very good with crayons and colored pens.  One of her favorite things to do when I get to her place is to invite me to sit down and color with her.  We’ll use the same coloring book – she’ll take one page and I’ll take the facing page.  She is VERY particular about staying inside the lines.  Maybe that’s why she wants us working on the same pages – that way she can keep an eye on my coloring to see if she approves!!!!

I, too, still love to color.  I always have.  I don’t do it except when I’m with my grandkids.  Strange.  But I recall the outlines of shapes and people, and the joy of deciding what colors to use and turning a blasé page into a genuine work of art (well, maybe just a colored page!)  It bothers Kailani if I color outside the lines, and it bothers teachers, and it bothers me, too.  The creator of the work intended for people to color INSIDE the lines, not outside.  If all you do is color outside, the beauty is not revealed in its fullest. 

Now-a-days, some “experts” are saying that it is harmful to a child’s development to tell them to stay inside the lines.  They say that the child shouldn’t be restricted from someone else’s view of reality, and that if they want to color outside the lines, well, that’s just fine. 

I’m not so sure.  It seems to me that coloring outside the lines is dangerous…and can have serious, even deadly, implications in other areas of life.  Stop and think of “coloring outside the lines” as a metaphor for life, rules and restrictions.  Especially God’s boundaries.

God himself sets lines and boundaries.  He did it in creation by telling the sea that it could only go so far and no further: Should you not fear me?, declares the Lord.  Should you not tremble in my presence?  I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.  The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. – (Jer. 5:22)

The barriers (lines, if you will) that God set forth are not intended to limit our self-expression, but to direct it towards things that result in life and a deeper relationship with God Himself.  To think we know better than our Creator and decide it is okay to operate outside the boundaries that He wisely and kindly gave us, is confusing self-expression with self-indulgence.  It is to place ourselves in judgment on the Judge of all the earth.

Psalm 16:6: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, for setting boundaries for our well-being and protection.  Teach us to live within the wise lines You have drawn for us as our Creator.  May the pattern of our lives lived on this earth be a thing of beauty to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.