DayBreaks for 6/29/18 – Three Reasons

 

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DayBreaks for 6/29/18: Three Reasons

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

When was the last time that someone did something that made you feel unimportant?  Chances are that it was fairly recently. It may have been the way you were treated by a co-worker or a boss.  It may have been the fact that your spouse didn’t greet you warmly when you got home last night.  It might even be that your dog wouldn’t even give you a warm sendoff as you went out the door this morning!  (You know it’s getting bad when your dog shines you on!)  Some were raised by parents who made them feel worthless – like human trash.

It is easy to get down on ourselves.  We grew up in a school system where our mistakes were pointed out.  Have you ever noticed how it is the errors on the page that are marked and counted instead of the right answers?  We might feel better about ourselves if the positive things we did were highlighted instead of the mistakes we made!

I ran across a quote from Lorne Sanny, the long-time head of the Navigators that I think is worth sharing.  It has a very biblical answer to the question of why we are important and valued by God.  Here it is:

“I can give you three reasons why you are important to God:

First, simply because of who you are;

Second, because of what you cost, and;

Third, because of what you can become.”

Who are we?  We are the pinnacle of God’s creation  –  made in His very image.  It was only after God made man on the sixth day of creation that He was moved to declare that what He’d done was VERY good (Gen. 1:31).  Everything else that He’d made up to then only rated “It is good.”  Mankind, however, was something else!  Psalm 8:5-6 says we were made only slightly lower than the angels, we’re crowned with glory and honor and we are charged as rulers over the works of His hands!

What did we cost?  You know the answer to that one already.  We were purchased not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the blood of the Son of God (1 Peter 1.18-19).  In this age of multi-billion dollar mega-mergers and huge corporate buyouts we are somewhat dulled to the scope of the finances involved.  Yet not one corporate CEO or president has yet bought out their enemies by literally bleeding to death for them.  Why?  The cost is too great.

What can you become?  You can become like a bright star in God’s heavenly galaxy (Phil. 2:5); a partaker in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); a pillar in God’s temple (Rev. 3:12); like a tree besides fresh waters (Ps. 1:3); and certainly not least, His son or daughter (Rev. 21:7).

Never let anyone tell you that you are not important or valuable.  God begs to differ!

PRAYER:  We often feel so small and insignificant in this vast universe that was created by Your hands.  When we feel useless and insignificant, help us to remember that truth that You find us precious and that we are important in Your eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/28/18: I Could Have Been Free

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DayBreaks for 6/28/18: I Could Have Been Free

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Dr. Ramesh Richard was the final speaker at Promise Keepers in Fresno.  He talked about living a Godly legacy, and he told a story about a man in Alabama who was imprisoned for a crime and given a life sentence.  The man had been wrongly convicted but was in jail serving time.  Over the course of the years while he was in prison, he tried three times to escape but was recaptured each time.  Finally, after many years had passed, the original conviction was overturned.  However, in Alabama, there is a law that says that if you are serving a life sentence and have tried 3 times to escape, that you are automatically sentenced to another life sentence.  As the man said after learning about this law: “I could have been free if I hadn’t run.” 

When a prisoner attempts an escape and goes on the run, they don’t usually end up finding the one-armed man that was guilty of the crime (remember The Fugitive?).  They usually end up getting caught and more time is added because of the escape attempt.  As attractive as running may seem, it is costly.  In the case of the Alabama man, it may cost him the rest of the years of his life.

Think about that in a spiritual light for just a moment.  What usually happens to men and women when they have committed some sin?  Do they typically come running to God or do they run from Him?  There is a part of us, like Adam and Eve demonstrated in the garden, that runs from God when we have done something wrong.  And you know what?  That is exactly the WRONG way to run.  Instead of running from God, we should run to him and take the discipline He has to give us.  Instead of running and trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, we need to be in His Presence, heads bowed and seek His forgiveness.  Then we can be free, but not until. 

Perhaps you’ve been running from God.  Moses tried to run from God with his excuses about why he wasn’t the man God wanted.  Jonah tried to run from God and found that he couldn’t find freedom in that direction.  Perhaps you are running from His calling for your life.  You’ll never find freedom as long as you are running.  Perhaps you are running because of sin that you don’t want to face up to because you’re afraid the discipline will be more than you can bear.  It won’t be.  God disciplines, yes, but He loves you and will not break you (Isa. 42:3): A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…  Perhaps you are running from making a commitment to the Lord and giving Him your life.  What a tragedy it will be when someday you stand before His throne and say to yourself, “I could have been free if I hadn’t run.”

PRAYER:  Let us run to You, Lord, and cast ourselves on Your great mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/27/18 – Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

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DayBreaks for 6/27/18: Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

The year was 586 B.C. and Jerusalem was being threatened with obliteration.  Eleven years earlier, the Babylonians had sacked the city and led the cream of the crop of the residents away into captivity across 700 miles of scorching desert.  In the intervening years, those left behind in Jerusalem grew restive, then began to plot how they might be able to throw off the yoke of Babylonian rule.  The people believed that if they could only get Egypt to fight with them, then they’d be freed…at least from Babylon.  So, Egypt agreed to help. 

When the Babylonians heard of the plot, they were very angry, and their army again marched against the city.  Egypt turned tail and ran, realizing they would be defeated and had nothing to gain in the looming fight.  Israel stood alone against the full fury of Babylon. 

Jeremiah, the prophet of God, was in prison.  He had been falsely accused of conspiring with the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were tired of hearing his preaching about their need of repentance.  One day, while imprisoned, Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, showed up and asked Jeremiah if he’d buy Hanamel’s field that just so happened to be located in Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth.  Jeremiah didn’t waste one minute – but counted out 17 shekels, had a deed drawn up and set aside for safe keeping.  Oh, and there’s one more thing you should know about this strange deal: at the time, the army of Babylon was camped on the very property that Hanamel was trying selling to his cousin, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah knew that, but bought the land anyway.

As far as we know, Jeremiah never set foot on the land he’d bought, never built upon it, neither planted nor harvested any crop from that land.  Jeremiah, when he bought it, had no idea if he’d ever be a free man again.  So, what possessed him to buy this piece of property?  God told him to, and that was all Jeremiah needed.  Jeremiah knew and understood something that everyone else seemed to have forgotten: God is as good as His word.  And God had said that the Jews would one day buy fields and build houses and raise crops, that those who were exiled would return.  Jeremiah believed those words, and he acted on the hope that beat in his heart.

Why?  Jeremiah, unlike the rest of the people in Jerusalem, had hope.  He wasn’t filled with wishful thinking.  One key difference is that hope results in action while wishful thinking is just that: sitting and thinking.  Jeremiah wanted to participate in the plan of God for His people and by buying the field, he gave wings to his hope – and gave hope to many others who witnessed this strange man acting in a strange way, as if saying, “I know the Babylonians are on the land, I know I’m imprisoned by my own people and I don’t know if I’ll ever be set free, but I know God and I want to be part of His unfolding plan for His people.”

Hope acts.  Hope is infectious.  Hope won’t let us sit still when we see God at work.  How’s your hope?

PRAYER:  God our Father, in a dark age fill our hearts with hope like Jeremiah’s and let us realize that You are at work here, that though the enemy may be camped against Your church, that Your plan will not be defeated for the world, for the church, or for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/26/18 – The Measure of Success

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DayBreaks for 6/26/18: The Measure of Success

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

How can you tell if someone has been a successful person or not?  There are those who are considered successful if they attain some position or career or relationship that they have pursued.  There are those who don’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of prestige, money or honor, but who have been considered successful: Mother Theresa’s life could hardly be pointed out as a failure, not even in the world’s eyes. 

As we are about eight years into the 21st century, I wonder what success would look like for companies that I’ve worked for, for employees who have been near and dear to my hearts, from family (children, grandchildren), for the country that I live it.  I would think that we could ask a wide range of people to describe what would look like success in this century and get an even wider range of responses. 

But perhaps the most crucial question is this: what would be a measure of success for the church of Jesus in the 21st century?  Would it be necessary to convert a quarter of the world’s unbelievers to be successful?  50%?  95%?  100%?  Would the church still not be considered successful, even if that happened, because there would still be poverty and hunger in the world?  Would success demand not only conversions, but full bellies in all the world?  No more killing?  Peace?

I am not wise enough to really answer those questions.  I know that there are those who see only a dim, bleak future for the church as we are still in the infancy of the millennia.  I can understand that point of view.  Things do look rather bleak and dark.  But that’s when God has always done His best work – when it’s bleak and dark.  At the beginning of the creation of the world, it was darkness that covered the face of the deep, and God did pretty good work in making the Himalaya’s and Pacific, didn’t He?  It was dark in the tomb of Lazarus and later on, in Jesus’ own tomb, and God did more than just “pretty good work” in those instances.  God can work just fine in the dark – and in fact, when it’s dark, the light is all the more visible.

We tend to forget what it was like for the brand new church in the early century or two after the church’s birth at Pentecost.  The first 4 centuries of the church were a time when our first brothers and sisters faced odds of success more incredibly difficult than ours.  And yet, as J. P. Moreland so wonderfully put it in The Kingdom Triangle, “…yet they were so victorious that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!” 

Yes, that’s a certain measure of success.  We see dark times, but we forget that in the past 50 years, there has been an incredible explosion of Christianity all over the world.  It’s happening everywhere in the world except for one place: Western culture.

Don’t give up.  Success is guaranteed by God’s own promise.  I will build my kingdom, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.  Just remember this: the kingdom of God begins in the hearts of men and women just like you.  The enemy has laid siege works against your heart to discourage and depress you.  Don’t let him prevail when God’s success is just ahead.

PRAYER: Holy One, let us see some of Your victories in our own lives and the lives of those around us that we may be filled with the encouragement of what You are doing in this world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/25/18 – The Nature of Reality

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DayBreaks for 6/25/18: The Nature of Reality

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

What is faith?  The fundamental aspect of faith (biblical or otherwise) is the confidence that we hold either in a thing (such as the brakes on our car to be able to stop the car), faith in a person (I believe that my friend is as good as his word), or faith in the truth of a statement (the sun came up today).  We live our lives everyday through placing our faith in things, people or the truth of a statement.   We believe the food we eat is not tainted nor poisoned, that the water we drink is not going to harm us, that a husband or wife will be there for us when we need them, that the laws of physics that control the motion of the heavenly bodies, the braking of our cars and the rules of thermodynamics will be as true today as they’ve been shown to be in the past. 

What does that mean in everyday life?  It is evidence that we believe faith is as good as the object (thing, person or proposition) that faith holds.  We don’t think twice wondering if the engineers who designed our cars made powerful enough braking systems.  Astronauts on the shuttle don’t wonder if there’s enough fuel in the tanks to get them into orbit. 

But, somehow, when it comes to God, we’re told that there is no such Reality.  If you can’t see it, touch it, taste it, smell it or hear it with one of the 5 senses, then you cannot know if it is real – therefore, it must be rejected.  Really?  Have you ever tasted guilt?  Heard anguish (not the manifestation of it, but anguish itself?)  When is the last time you saw love walk past on the sidewalk?  Have you seen gravity itself?  We have no problem believing such things exist, even though we can’t test them or touch them. 

When it comes to spiritual things, people have bought lock, stock and barrel into the ungodly idea that knowledge about anything beyond the physical world is impossible – therefore, it is mythological at best.  Do some myths come true?  Perhaps, from time, to time.  But knowledge about the unseen is mere speculation.  So, to placate those who hold beliefs in the Supernatural, they would tell us that what is important is for people who are inclined to believe in such things, it is the fervency of their belief that is more important that the object of their belief. 

John, the apostle, didn’t seem to agree, nor did Paul, Peter or any of the other men and women of faith who believed in a reality that was Unseen.  As J.P. Moreland put it in The Kingdom Triangle: “Reality is basically indifferent to how sincerely we believe something….As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief of how sincere I am in believing it, but whether or not the belief is true.”  I could sincerely hope a gondola cable will hold me, but how fervently I hold that belief doesn’t make the cable one bit stronger.  What matters it the strength of the cable, not the strength of my belief in it.  I may never get on the gondola if I don’t belief it is strong enough to hold us up, but my belief matters not one whit one way or the other to the cable.

God is Reality.  He is the GREAT Reality…whether I choose to believe it or not.  Jesus doesn’t need by belief so that he’ll become strong enough to save me.  He’s already strong enough.  My faith should be in Him – He is to be the object of my faith.  That’s the bottom line on Reality.

PRAYER: Almighty God, You Who made a world of reality and who lives in a universe of reality, open our eyes to see that You are the One Reality with which we must all ultimately deal, and by which we will all ultimately be confronted.  Don’t let us be deceived, nor let our friends and family be fooled into thinking that what matters is whether we really believe in something.  Let us believe it You, for You are true.  You are the only reality that can save us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/22/18 – Do You Mortify?

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DayBreaks for 6/22/18: Do You Mortify?

Romans 8:12-13 (ESV) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The Continental Divide runs up from South America all the way up into Canada. On the eastern side, all the water runs toward the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico, on the western side toward the Pacific. You can literally stand in the road and have one foot on the eastern side and one on the western side. It’s easy when there to move from one extreme to the other. But it’s far harder to move from unholiness to holiness.

Through the middle of our lives is a divide – far wider and far more significant that the Continental Divide.
Earlier in Romans 8:5-8, Paul describes that our minds must be changed, transformed. But that’s not enough. Verses 9-11 say our entire being must be transformed – not just our minds, but our bodies/fleshly nature, too.

The real application here comes in verses 12-13 where we are, by the Spirit (not by our own power!), to put to death the deeds of the body. The whole thing is predicated on verse 12 where Paul says we are not debtors to the flesh. The word debtors here would be better translated as “obligated.” We are not obligated any longer to live in the ways of the flesh. We have the Spirit of God in us.

John Owen, writing long ago, said that we must “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” What is called for is a continual rampage against sin in our lives. We are told to kill it, to mortify, to put it to death.

The billion dollar question though, is are you, am I, mortifying the flesh? Consider this analogy: if an intruder broke into your home and began firing bullets at your family trying to kill them, what would you do? We wouldn’t just invite them to sit down for a cup of coffee so we could discuss things. We would FIGHT – even to the point of killing that intruder in order to preserve the life and peace of our family.

How are we fighting sin? Are we fighting it with the same (or more!) passion as we would that intruder? Or, are we unwilling to kill sin because we want to be able to play with sin once every so often? Have we become so afraid of legalism that we’ve forgotten about the demand for holiness? Yes, God is gracious – far more gracious than we can imagine – but God is very clear: we are to kill sin in our lives by the Spirit. That means letting the Spirit do the killing, but that can only happen as we yield to Him and His control.

We can’t afford to be ho-hum about sin. The devil isn’t ho-hum in his attack on us. Our death is his intention! How could we be ho-hum about our sin when we see the price Jesus paid on Calvary to rescue us from it?

Let’s fight like our lives depend on it – and let Jesus’ holiness that has been credited to us take care of the times we fail.

PRAYER: Jesus, we aren’t very good at killing sin. We cannot do it on our own. Let us cry to you every single day and put our will and fleshly desire to death. Let your Spirit have that work in us that we so desperately need! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/21/18 – The Most Important Sins

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DayBreaks for 6/21/18: The Most Important Sins

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

Long ago, the Roman Catholic church came up with a list of sins that they said were “mortal”, or deadly.  Naturally, they were the sins that the church felt were the worst sins of all.  That’s why they were called deadly.

Are there certain sins that really bug you?  By that I don’t mean sins that you struggle with yourself.  We all have sins like that, too.  What I mean is certain sins that really make you mad, that you just can’t understand and which disgust you and make your stomach turn? 

In his little, but thought-provoking book, The Smell of Sin, Don Everts had a very interesting insight.  He wrote: When we sit down to list the sins that bug us, are they ever the sins we struggle so deeply with?  Or are we quick to ignore the logs in our own eyes while focusing so intently and with such passion on the specks in the eyes of those around us?…Jesus never made a hierarchy of sins.  Sins of idolizing money are just as smelly as sexual sins…So the most important sins must always be our own.  Our own.

You get the point: the sins that should really bug us are PRECISELY the sins that we struggle with ourselves.  Not the sins of someone else, but our own.   We need to a change of heart about what sins turn our stomach, even as they turn Jesus’.  Let us live with the attitude and understanding that the most important sins are mine.

PRAYER: Lord, we are so prone to minimizing our own sins and thinking that they don’t stink in Your nostrils like the sins that we hate.  Let us never shrug our shoulders at our own sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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