DayBreaks for 4/05/19 – The Shape of Christian Victory

Image result for silhouette of cross

DayBreaks for 4/05/19: The Shape of Christian Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Wars are fought over silly things: oil, power, insults, a beautiful woman (remember Helen of Troy?), perceived slights – for these things and many others like them, blood has been spilled and lives sacrificed.  It is a sad, strange business this thing called war.

Wars in ancient days were fought with crude weapons such as stones, axes, spears, bows and arrows.  In all modern man’s “wisdom”, we’ve managed to create ever more deadly and accurate weapons.  While once upon a time a man had to stand in front of the other man and look him in the eye as he tried to kill him, we now can launch a missile and destroy millions of people on the far side of the world – never being confronted with their faces and the look in their eyes as they realize they are about to die.  War has become impersonal.  Indeed, remote control aircraft are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan to fire missiles at cars, gatherings of suspected terrorists, etc., and they are piloted by “pilots” sitting in front a computer monitor in the United States…how like a video game we have made war!!!

At the end of World War II, the shape of victory was the mushroom clouds that rose over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Thankfully, due to the horrible nature of those weapons, to date the world has never seen a repeat of their use.  There is no guarantee that this will always be the case, however. 

Of all the battles ever fought, the greatest victory of all time was won on a God-forsaken hillside outside of Jerusalem on a spring day as a carpenter from Nazareth was stripped and nailed to a tree.  His blood, like that of so many before him, watered the earth, turning dust into a red, muddy paste.  How strange that to the Romans and religious leaders that the shape of victory that day was a cross.  Even more bizarre is that the very same cross was also the shape of victory for the God who hung on it and for all who would believe on Him.

As Christians, the shape of our victory is not a mushroom cloud or a sword or a spear or a howitzer or the Gatling gun strapped on the side of an attack helicopter.  No, the shape of our victory is cruciform: What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:31-37 (NIV)

Prayer: For the victory of the cross we honor You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 2/6/19 – The Pathway to Rain

Image result for rainstorm

DayBreaks for 2/06/2019: The Pathway to Rain

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Jeremiah 14:1-11 (NLT) – This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain: “Judah wilts; her businesses have ground to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem. The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief. The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are afraid; they, too, cover their heads. The deer abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass to eat, but there is none to be found.”  The people say, “LORD, our wickedness has caught up with us. We have sinned against you. So please, help us for the sake of your own reputation.  O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble! Why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like someone passing through the land, stopping only for the night?  Are you also confused? Are you helpless to save us? You are right here among us, LORD. We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!” So the LORD replies to his people, “You love to wander far from me and do not follow in my paths. Now I will no longer accept you as my people. I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”  Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.”

We are in the middle of a drought right now here in California.  How foolish if we think that the Lord no longer holds back the rain for the same reason He withheld it in the past!  Yes, he sends rain on the just and unjust, but He is also equally able to withhold it at any time He chooses. 

But what I found especially intriguing about this passage was in verses 7-9 where the people plead with the Lord to help them.  It is a wonderful sounding plea, also reflecting some of our own doubts and confusion about why God acts as He does.  I know there have been plenty of times when I was confused by what God was doing or not doing, when it seemed He was a stranger or powerless to do anything (that, by the way, is a horrible assumption – just because He doesn’t act certainly doesn’t mean He’s powerless to do so!)  Pay careful attention to the reason the people approach the Lord: they say that their wickedness has caught up with them and that they’ve sinned, but they beg for His help for the “sake of Your own reputation.”  They never ask for forgiveness – they only get as far as a confession, which is short and not very convincing.  They never get past the confession to asking for forgiveness and they show no inclination towards repentance.  Instead, it is as if they are trying to convince God that it’s in His own best interest to just forgive them and send them rain.   

How many times have I tried to appeal to God’s self-interest thinking I could manipulate Him into a certain desired behavior?  I’m not even sure that God can have “self-interest”!  My repentance had better be real.  True repentance moves the heart of God but fake repentance, even when there are lots of fine sounding words, never does.  And if God’s mercies don’t rain down upon us, we will all die of the drought.

PRAYER: Father, we say things hoping we can get You to “fall” for them as if You were another human from whom we can hide the truth.  Lord, we have sinned against you.  We ask you for forgiveness.  We desire to repent from the evil we do and to experience once again the refreshing mercies that fall from Your throne of grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/05/19 – Three Kinds of Faith

Image result for beliefs

DayBreaks for 2/05/2019: Three Kinds of Belief

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

In his recent book, Faith & Doubt, John Ortberg describes three kinds of “faith” and suggests we all practice three kinds of faith (or hold three kinds of convictions, if you please).

FIRST: Public faith/conviction: these are the things we say we believe when we’re surrounded by others, like what politicians say in order to win favor, curry votes and get elected.  No sooner is someone put into office than they backtrack on the things they said that they believed at one point or another in their campaign speeches.  A Biblical example of this kind of faith is King Herod, who told the wise men that after they’d found the baby Jesus, to come back to him and tell him where Jesus was so that “I can go and worship him, too.”  After all, it never would have endeared Herod to anyone if he’d said, so that “I can go and kill that baby.”  This is very hypocritical faith at best.  It changes based on who we’re around because we’re trying to impress them and make ourselves feel good.  And it can happen a LOT in churches and in Christian fellowships!

SECOND: Private faith/convictions: these are tricky because they are things that we truly believe that we believe, but when circumstances change, we find out that we really don’t believe it very much after all.  These are often things that we desperately WANT to believe, and we may even fool ourselves into thinking we do believe them.  A biblical example is Peter, “Lord, I’ll never deny you.”  I truly believe that Peter believed that of himself…but Jesus knew Peter’s heart better than Peter did.  And so, when the circumstances changed from the warm and friendly confines of the upper room to a courtyard of the high priest after Jesus’ arrest and shouts of “Kill him!” filled the air, Peter found out what he really believed at that point in time.  And it isn’t what he would have wanted to believe about himself, but it was the truth.

THIRD: Core faith/convictions: these are what we believe deep down inside, in spite of circumstances or surroundings.  These are the things for which we are willing to lay down our lives, if necessary. Ortberg says, we always act in accordance with what we truly believe when the chips are down.  That means we must become students of our own behavior – analyzing how we live, how we act, what we do in a wide range of circumstances and settings – and from that we’ll find out what we really believe.  Peter’s private faith became a core conviction later in his life when he was martyred for Jesus. 

So, here’s a brief summary:

Public faith/conviction: what we say we believe;

Private faith/conviction: what we think we believe;

Core faith/conviction: what we really believe as evidence by what we do.

What’s the point?  I fear that many of the things we think we believe are not core convictions.  For example, we say we believe God is everywhere and sees everything, right?  But, do we live as if we’re aware of His eye on us at ALL times?  Or, do we do things in secret that are shameful…and we do them because we really don’t believe He sees us while we’re doing them? We say we believe we should obey the law, yet did you speed today when you were driving?  We Christians say, “I’ve accepted Jesus as the Lord of my life,” but have we really?  If so, why don’t we obey him in caring for the needy (instead of pretending we don’t see them)? Scary, isn’t it, when we stop to contemplate what it is that we TRULY believe – even what we TRULY believe about God and Jesus.

In some things, we don’t know for sure what is a private conviction and what is a core conviction until our conviction is tested – and then it is revealed for what it truly is. 

PRAYER: Oh, Lord, with David we ask you to search our hearts and see if there is any deceitful way in them, reveal to us the truth about our faith that we might cling more tightly to Your Son and the forgiveness He gives us.  Help our private convictions regarding Jesus to become core convictions, and if necessary, to even survive the fires of martyrdom.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/24/19 – Truth from the Burning Towers

Image result for 9-11 photos firemen

DayBreaks for 01/24/2019: You Were Made for More

On that tragic morning of September 11, 2001, The Brooklyn Tabernacle lost four of its members. One victim was a police officer. The officer’s funeral was held at the church building, and Rudy Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, had been asked to share a few thoughts. Here’s what the mayor had to say:

“You know people, I’ve learned something through all this. Let me see if I can express it to you. When everybody was fleeing that building, and the cops and the firefighters and the EMS people were heading up into it, do you think any of them said, ‘I wonder how many blacks are up there for us to save? I wonder what percentage are whites up here? How many Jews are there? Let’s see—are these people making $400,000 a year, or $24,000, or—?’

“No, when you’re saving lives, they’re all precious. And that’s how we’re supposed to live all the time. How would you want the cops to treat you if you were on the seventy-fifth floor that day? Would you want them to say, ‘Excuse me, but I’ve got to get the bosses out first’? Not exactly.

“I confess I haven’t always lived this way. But I’m convinced that God wants us to do it. He wants us to value every human life the way he does.”

The words of the mayor moved everyone who had gathered that day for the funeral.  Jim Cymbala was there as Giuliani spoke, and had this to say afterward: “I sat there thinking, My goodness, the mayor is preaching a truth that has eluded so many of our churches throughout New York and the country! He may have stood for other policies that I could not agree with, but on that day, he was right on the mark. The truth of what he said penetrated my heart.

“The world you and I live in is falling apart before our eyes. We are God’s only representatives on the planet and simply cannot take time to pick and choose who needs help. They all need help. They all need the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. They all need to be rescued from the horror of an eternity apart from God.” – Jim Cymbala, You Were Made for More (Zondervan, 2008), pp. 94-96

Will you do your part to be the love of Jesus living in this world?

Prayer: As we see people around us, Lord, may we see every human being as those desperately in need of the love and forgiveness You offer – and may we see and admit that need in our selves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/22/19 – The Lesson of the Maggies

Magdalene laundries

DayBreaks for 01/22/2019: The Lesson of the Maggies

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

“A film made in 2002, The Magdalene Sisters, told the sad story of the “maggies” of Ireland. They got that nickname from Mary Magdalene, a revealing story in itself. The gospels mention only one fact of Mary Magdalene’s past, that Jesus had driven seven demons from her. Nevertheless, a tradition grew that Mary Magdalene must have been the same woman as the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. Hence when a strict order of nuns agreed to take in young women who had become pregnant out of wedlock, they labeled the fallen girls “maggies.”

“The maggies came to public attention in the 1990s when the order sold its convent, bringing to light the existence of the graves of 133 maggies who had spent their lives working as virtual slaves in the convent laundry. The media soon scouted out a dozen such “Magdalen laundries” across Ireland—the last one closed in 1996—and soon relatives and survivors were spilling accounts of the slave-labor conditions inside. Thousands of young women spent time in the laundries, some put away just for being “temptresses,” forced to work unpaid and in silence as a form of atonement for their sins. The nuns took away illegitimate children born to these women to be raised in other religious institutions.

“A public outcry erupted, and eventually campaigners raised money for a memorial, a bench in St. Stephen’s Green, a park in downtown Dublin. I determined to visit the memorial on a trip to Ireland. It was a typical gray day in Dublin, with a sharp September wind and the threat of rain in the air. I asked a policeman and a park guide about the memorial to the maggies, and they both looked at me quizzically. “Dunno that one. Sorry.”

“One by one, my wife and I examined the bronze statues and impressive fountains, mostly honoring fighters for Irish independence. Only by accident did we stumble across a modest bench beside a magnolia tree. A couple was sitting on it, but behind their backs we could see brass-colored lettering. We asked if they would mind moving aside for a moment so we could read the inscription. The plaque reads, “To the women who worked in the Magdalen laundry institutions and to the children born to some members of those communities—reflect here upon their lives.”

“Walking away from the humble memorial, I found myself reflecting not simply on their lives but also on the sharp contrast between how Jesus treated moral failures and how we his followers often do. Jesus appointed the Samaritan woman as his first missionary. He defended the woman who anointed him with expensive perfume: “Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” And Mary Magdalene, she of the seven demons, he honored as the very first witness of the Resurrection—a testimony at first discounted by his more prestigious followers. Where we shame, he elevates.”  – Philip Yancey, Christianity Today, 5/1/2003

Prayer:  May we learn from Your grace and be imitators of Your mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/13/18 – The Great Anonymous

Image result for invisible man

DayBreaks for 12/13/18: The Great Anonymous

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/9/98:

Sometimes it is hard to be anonymous, isn’t it? I mean, you work hard at your job and do something with great excellence – and someone up the line of responsibility from you gets the credit for it. Kind of gets your goat, doesn’t it? I mean, it isn’t like you are even asking to be given all the credit – just to be recognized. Or, if you are a housewife, haven’t you ever done something really well and it went unnoticed and unappreciated? It is no fun! If you’ve ever found yourself feeling left out, unacknowledged or unimportant, 1 Cor. 12 verses 22 and 24 were put in the Bible just for you: On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…while our presentable parts need no special treatment, but God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it….

Paul realized that even in his day, sometimes people feel unappreciated in the church. You may be feeling that way right now. You’ve labored behind the scenes for years cleaning the building, running the sound equipment, preparing the communion, changing diapers in the nursery, or printing the bulletin each week. Not everyone is or can be an “up-front” and public figure. But the church can’t function without EVERY piece of the body doing its job.

Sometimes we get things confused. Just because you may not be the person filling the pulpit doesn’t mean that you aren’t important. If there is anything that the passage from 1 Corinthians should teach us it is this: Don’t ever mistake being anonymous with being unnecessary or unimportant. Rather Paul calls the weaker parts of the body indispensable, and God gives greater honor to the parts of the body that lack honor. After all, if you are going to be honored, wouldn’t you rather it was God that honors you instead of your fellow men?

God remembers you and will reward you, Psalm 136:28: …to the One who remembered us in our low estate – His love endures forever. Recognition will come in due time to everyone who, rather than picking and choosing ministry opportunities based on talents, interest or recognition, obeys the command to “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.”

Prayer: Lord, may we seek Your approval…and Your approval ONLY!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/30/18 – Doubting Worshipers

Image result for worshipers

DayBreaks for 11/30/18: Doubting Worshipers

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I look forward to worship every Sunday morning.  I love music and we celebrate communion each Sunday.  I even usually manage to get something out of the message (in spite of the fact that I’m the one doing the preaching!)  I enjoy the fellowship before, during and afterwards, and the entire experience usually will draw me closer to God.

I must always guard and be aware of the fact that not everyone who is present is on the same page.  Goodness knows, there have been days when I’ve been in worship when I would have preferred to be somewhere else.  And I feel certain that the same can be said for people each and every Sunday.  Every Lord’s day when we gather, there are those who have had very trying and difficult experiences during the week.  There have been those who prayed asking for some boon from the Lord, only to get a “No”, or maybe no answer at all.  And that can be hard to take.  Others struggled in their relationships and may have had a fight with their spouse that very morning.  Been there, done that.

There’s an interesting scene in Matthew 28 where Jesus meets with his disciples after his resurrection.  The eleven (remember Judas is dead) show up on the mountain where Jesus will ascend, and as verse 17 says, When they say him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.  What a strange comment!  Have you wondered who it was that doubted?  It was apparently more than just one, for it says, “some doubted.”  Was it the majority or minority?  What was it that they doubted?  Were they still doubting the resurrection, even after several appearances?  Were they doubting His divinity?  Were they doubting that his flesh, as well as his spirit, had been raised?  How long did the doubting continue?  For an entire lifetime?  Did it ever fully end?  If so, when?  We simply do not know.  All we know, is that even though they were worshipping him, they still had doubt in their heart.

There is comfort to be found in that knowledge.  There have been times I’ve sat in worship and had my doubts – times when I’d been wrestling with God and what kind of God He really was.  At other times, I’ve doubted if He was there at all.  Thank goodness, I’ve got company – some of Jesus’ own immediate disciples! 

What does that tell us?  It tells us that Jesus accepts our worship – with our frequent doubts.  Jesus welcomed them, and their worship, even as their hearts and minds were filled with doubts!   When you are struggling with your faith, you might be tempted to think that you should stay away from worship because you’d feel like a hypocrite.  Don’t feel that way.  If Jesus accepted the worship of his followers on the mountaintop (knowing their hearts and minds), he will accept yours that comes from a heart of faith – even if there are doubts living side-by-side with your faith.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you that you understand our weak faith and our doubting hearts and that you still welcome us and our worship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>