DayBreaks for 5/09/17 – The Believer’s Definitive Question

DayBreaks for 5/09/17: The Believer’s Definitive Question

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

So you struggle with being faithful. Join the crowd.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t struggle with obedience, and even with their faith itself, from time to time.  It’s normal – and I think, at least to a certain extent – it is healthy to at least question faith once in a while to be certain that we don’t grow stale and complacent.  We need not fear the testing of faith.  There is greater danger in an untested faith when the time of trial comes.

There seems to be something about us humans that is a lot like a moth: we like to dance close to the flame.  In our case, it is the flame of temptation.  We seem to be drawn to certain things as individuals, and while it may vary from person to person, even as Christians we seem drawn to the flame.  The flame represents that which is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to and we find it to be predictable.  But, like the moth, we forget that the flame can burn us and kill us.  It’s a very dangerous place to be.

Still, many people show a tendency to get close to the flame of old temptations once again.  And not only do we have that tendency, we show an eagerness for it when we ask the question (when we clearly know the answer more often than not): “Would it be wrong for me to do this?” 

In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey suggests that the definitive question for the believer shouldn’t be whether or not we can do something, but instead, Am I abiding in Christ at this moment?  An unsaved person evaluates behavior on the basis of right and wrong, but the lifestyle of a Christian is to flow from the activity of Christ.  McVey’s point is that we have Christ in us and we are in him – so why would we even want to dance close to the flame?  Somehow, I can’t picture Christ walking around asking “Would it be wrong for me to do this?”, can you?  I think rather, he’d be focused on abiding in the Father’s love and not thinking about doing wrong, but about doing good. 

John 9:4 (NLT) – All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

PRAYER: Lord, we know that we are to abide in You, to let you live Your life through us.  It’s hard to give up our own life, even to One as powerful as Your Spirit.  Help us to have the mind of Jesus that is concerned about abiding in Your love and acting out of that love for the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 5/4/17 – Pig Parties

DayBreaks for 5/04/17: Pig Parties

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

From “News of the Weird”, UPI, 5/1/98: When farmers leave for the day, pigs start to party, said agricultural researches in Reading, England, interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph in April.  According to Nick Bird of the Farmex firm, the pigs eat, drink and roughhouse until about midnight before retiring for the evening, at least in buildings that are well lighted.  Farmex now wants to know whether this has any effect on the supply of bacon.

Do you remember that old saying about “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”?  Apparently it is not only true of cats and mice, but of farmers and pigs, too! 

I am also aware of the fact that this happens in the world of business.  I know.  I’ve been there and been guilty of it myself.  When the boss is gone, sometimes we don’t give our best effort – or at least not as intense of an effort as when the boss is there.  For some of you reading this today – your boss is out of the office.  How are you doing with your work today?  Are you slacking off – even just a little bit?  If so, do you think that is what God wants you to do?  It comes down to the question of who you believe you really work for, doesn’t it?  Are you working for Mr. or Ms. Smith, or even your family? Or are you working for God and displaying your thankfulness to Him for the job He has given you?

There are biblical parallels to this story.  The parable of the talents was about using what we’ve been given and being faithful with it.  You’ve been given a job, just like the servants were given talents.  The ones that took what they’d been given and worked hard with it while the master was gone were praised and trusted with more.  The servant who didn’t do that had even what he was given taken away from him. 

Another parallel with a different meaning is the wickedness that the Lord said would precede his return.  Matthew 24:37-39 relays to us the words of our Lord: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;     and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  You see, the Master has been gone for a long time now and the “party” has continued for a long time.  The terrible tragedy of the picture Jesus relates to us is that just as those who were lost in the flood waters had no idea it was coming, so those who “party” while the Master is away will be totally caught off guard by his return. 

How are you spending your time at work?  How are you spending your life?  To be right with God, we need to do both as if He were present all the time for one simple reason: He is.

PRAYER: Lord, many of us will be tempted this day to goof off when we think no one is watching us.  Help us to be the kind of people who don’t even think about trying to get away with less than a 100% effort in all we do that is right.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/01/17 – Obedience

DayBreaks for 5/01/17: Obedience

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Listen to this story.  I don’t know the source of the story, but here it is:

“How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master!  Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire.  Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened.  Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him.  That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest.  His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did.  Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left.  But he didn’t move.  He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word.  With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Loyalty.  Character.  Perseverance.  Courage.  Faithfulness.  These are all words that come to mind.  Sounds like a super-hero.  And then I have to stop myself and remember that I’m talking about a DOG!  But what lessons that dog can teach us!

I’m heart broken by this story for several reasons:

FIRST: I grieve for the dog’s sake.  I can’t imagine what it was like – how great the temptation must have been to cut and run through the forest away from the heat and torment of the flames – yet the dog stayed put.  I mourn the loss of the dog, but at a deeper level it makes me mourn my own lack of courage in obedience to the one I call my Master.

SECOND: I mourn that I am not more broken hearted by the loss of eternal souls than I am in the loss of the dog.  What is wrong with me, with us, when we have deeper feelings about the loss of a dog, albeit a tremendously loyal one, than the lives of those that surround us every day?

FINALLY: I am haunted by the final words of the dog’s master: “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”  What would my Master say about me?  Oh, how I wish Jesus could say, “I always had to be careful what I told Galen to do, because I knew he would do it!”  Instead, in my fear and weakness, I far too often run from the heat of the struggle into perceived safety.  But it is only perceived safety and it certainly isn’t obedience.

The love of the dog’s owner is clear in his tears – he loved his dog.  The pride of the owner is clear in his words – he was justifiably proud of the obedience of his dog.  I look at Jesus and see his tears for me and I know He loves me with all his heart.  I just wish my obedience was loyal enough that Jesus could be proud of me.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive my lack of obedience and loyalty!  It seems to take no more than even the slightest distraction to pull me away from you sometimes.  Help me to have the kind of character you wish to develop in me.  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 4/21/17 – 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 4/17/17 – Now You’ll See

DayBreaks for 4/18/17: Now You’ll See

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here be some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER:  This day, Lord, let us be filled with hope, for this may be the day of His return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/28/17 – Watch Out for the Snake

DayBreaks for 3/28/17: Watch Out for the Snake

CHINA – “When arriving at the bottom of a tequila bottle after a long night with the guys, someone is always dared to take down the worm. However, very rarely, if ever, does the worm fight back. In China, alcoholic drinks such as rice wine contain preserved snakes or other creatures in place of the ever-popular worm. As a man named Li cracked open a bottle during his lunch break, the pickled snake lunged out of the bottle and bit him in the neck. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was not believed to be in any danger. According to the Xin Bao newspaper, the bottle’s stopper was made from wood or cork and allowed air in the vessel, helping the snake to survive in the bottle for a year.”

You know, I find that there are things in my life that I thought were dead and gone, but then they come back to bite me.  It seems to be at a time when I’ve been thinking, “Whew…I’m glad I’ve got that licked!” that they often raise their ugly head once again.  Such is the my constant need for reminders that I’m not so good or strong as I’d like to think. You’d think that at some point I’d learn how weak I really am.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s that I’m that weak or that evil is that powerful.  And when I reflect on it that way, I think that both are true.  I am far weaker in the flesh than I’d like to be, or than I want to admit to being.  But Satan is not a novice at this game – he’s been around the block more than once since the days of Adam and Eve.  And it’s not just me – everyone has fallen to his schemes.  It’s no excuse, though, for stronger than Satan is Jesus, and God won’t let me get away with excuses.

It only took a small fracture in the cork to allow enough air into the bottle to keep the snake alive.  Sadly, sometimes in our lives we don’t just leave a little crack for Satan to slither through, we leave the door wide open and hang out the “Welcome – come on in!” sign.  Would that we shut the door entire to Satan and opened the door wide for Jesus!

Beware – the snake will be on the prowl until his head is crushed one final time.

PRAYER: Help us to learn from our mistakes, to love You more, and to be alert to our enemy.  May we open the door of our hearts fully to Your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.