DayBreaks for 5/22/17: He Is My All?

 

DayBreaks for 5/22/17: He Is My All?

There is a Christian song that we sing at church sometimes, in fact, we sang it just yesterday, titled All To Us. At the end of each verse are these words, “We believe, You’re all to us” (verses 1 & 2) and then verses 3 & 4 end with, “Jesus You, are all to us.”

We are told that when we sing we are to sing with both the Spirit and the understanding. I wonder how often we really do that. We know so many of the songs by heart that we can sing them in our sleep – and I fear that perhaps we are often sleeping through the words we are singing in worship as a result. It is a very powerful claim to be making that “Jesus, You’re all to us.” How I hope it is true – and I hope we aren’t singing those things mindlessly because God is listening and knows whether it is true or not. The person standing next to you probably can’t tell if it’s true or not, but God knows. Every. Single. Time.

As one of our worship leaders wrote: “When someone or something is our “ALL” or our “EVERYTHING”, it’s obvious to those around us. There’s no mistaking it. They are the topic of our conversations. They occupy much of our mental real estate. Our decisions hinge greatly upon this person or this thing. There is NO doubt when one is impassioned…driven…consumed.

“Now, fill in the blanks:

“I often find myself weaving ______ into my conversations.”

“Countless times a day I realize I’m lost in thought, thinking of ________.”

“When making a decision, I take _____ into account before deciding.”

“How do you fill in the blank: your family, a spouse, children, your job, your to do list? Was it money, status or climbing the ladder of success? Now, place “Christ” into the blanks. What does that look like?”

How did you do with that simple little test? When you make the claim that Jesus is everything to you, that he is all that matters, it should be obvious to everyone around us. Does putting the word “Christ” in those blanks really sound like the real you? Does it ring with truth, or does it reveal to your heart that perhaps He isn’t your all, your everything? Is it just something you sing or say mindlessly?

I realize that we must grow into loving someone or something as time passes. I have found in my own life that the love I had for my wife or children or grandchildren has only grown with the passage of time. Is the same true for my love of Christ? I hope and pray that it is so and that it will be even more true was each new day passes. Until then, perhaps I should be a bit cautious when bragging how much Jesus means to me until my life reflects it a bit more.

PRAYER: Jesus, for all the boastful things I have said about my love and devotion for you, please forgive me. Let it be true that someday I can honestly say that you are my everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/18/17 – Courageous Faith

DayBreaks for 5/18/17: Courageous Faith

John 12:42-43 (ESV) – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Who doesn’t love glory? Who doesn’t love to receive praise and recognition and, yes, honor? On our birthdays we pretend to not care that we’re the center of attention, but we are inwardly pleased to be recognized as having achieved yet another milestone (especially as we get older and the milestones become more significant!) But this is entirely different. Though many leaders of the Jews believed in Jesus (how could they not given all he’d done and how he taught?), they didn’t confess him.

When I read today’s passage, my heart and mind instantly jump into judgement mode: “Shame on them! What cowards!” And to make it worse, I then jump almost instantly to boastful mode, “I wouldn’t have done that! I’d have boldly proclaimed my belief in Jesus – no matter the cost!” But would I really?

We don’t know who these “authorities” were who believed, though we might surmise Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among them. But there were others, for John says there were “many” who believed in Jesus. To be a Jewish authority, you HAD to be part of the synagogue, part of the heart and soul of the nation’s faith and religion. To proclaim faith in Jesus would have been religious, social, political and even economic suicide to these men – and those who depended on them. When I think of it in that light and think about my own insecurities about my livelihood and finances, I find myself less than certain that I would have stood up to be counted as a follower of Christ.

It is lessons like this that put my weak faith into perspective. In spite of how I might try to honor my own faith by thinking how great or strong it is, if I insert myself into the shoes of those “many” authorities, I realize how weak my faith may truly be. Are you ready to take a stand for your faith in Jesus if it means the loss of your job, your reputation, your income – perhaps even your ability to ever find and hold work again? That’s what was at stake for these men. That doesn’t mean that they made the right choice – but this lesson in human frailty is sobering to me.

One other thing makes it easier to seek the praise of men rather than God. The praise of this world is immediately accessible as long as I do what the world wants me to do and think. God’s praise is primarily held in reserve for the day I stand before His throne. But His approval is the only approval that will endure and that will matter on that day. He won’t give me approval for following the ways of the society and world, but He will give me approval for even my weak faith in Jesus – and that will make all the difference.  

PRAYER: How we need greater, fearless faith, Jesus! Give us bold hearts and the vision necessary to see that it is only the praise of the Father than matters – and then to live courageous faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/16/17 – Drinking With No Complaining

DayBreaks for 5/16/17: Drinking With No Complaining

John 18:10-11 –Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s will for him should be a lesson to us.  He was equally Divine with God, not inferior in any way, yet he submitted himself to the Father’s will without question.  Jesus resolved to drink the cup that the Father had given him to drink – and he would drink it to the very dregs, even as he poured out the cup of his life’s blood to the bitter end. 

How do we respond to the cup that the Father has given us to drink?  We can fight against it, telling Him that he’s asking too much of us, that it’s not fair, that there must be a better way, but in the end drink it through the filter of faith. We can not drink it at all and live our life in rebellion, filling our mouths and bellies with the drink of our own choosing or we can drink it as Jesus did – realizing that it is our sworn duty to obey the One who is the Lord over our very life, who could, if He so chose, un-make us at any moment. 

What is the cup that the Father has given you?  A difficult job, a difficult relationship, difficult children, a parent with Alzheimer’s, a failed career, the lack of a job, a physical problem or handicap, emotional troubles?  Why does God put such things in our lives?  He put the cup in Christ’s life not for his own sake, but for ours.  We think it’s all about us, but very, very little of it is about us and what we want.  It’s about God and about others.  Loving God means more than feeling good about Him – Jesus said several times in John that loving him will result in obedience to him.  It can’t be said any more clearly than Jesus has said it.  Sometimes that obedience will lead to a cross, sometimes to an empty tomb, eventually to an eternal home with our Lord.  And loving others as we love ourselves (let’s face it, even though we may at times be frustrated by our weaknesses and failings, we’re pretty fond of ourselves or we wouldn’t still be here) often involves drinking a cup that we’d rather not drink – for we don’t like everyone, we don’t love everyone and we would rather let them alone.  But that isn’t the cup that God passes to us – he puts people and situations in our lives sometimes for our benefit, sometimes for the benefit of others  – but more often than not, those things are to enable us to learn and grow with little or no visible benefit to ourselves.

I need to identify the cup that God has put in front of me – and to realize that it may vary from day to day – but that the overarching cup that He has asked us to take is to pour ourselves out for others, even as Christ was preparing to pour Himself out for us.

PRAYER: This day, Lord, let me drink the cup you’ve given me without complaining – just for once.  Let me realize that if there is struggle that has come into my life, that it is not without Your knowledge, and not without Your decree that should come to me.  Help us to learn this day from the struggles we have and to trust in You even more by the time this night rolls around.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/15/17 – Who Is It You Want?

DayBreaks for 5/15/17: Who Is It You Want?

John 18:3-5 – So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“Who is it you want?”  Jesus was always good at asking questions (still is)!  It isn’t that he didn’t know who they were coming for – he’d made it abundantly clear to his disciples that he knew exactly what was going to happen – and when – and even why.  Jesus asked questions to make those around him probe their real motives and purposes, and to make them think deeply.  His questions often make us uncomfortable – try to imagine how Judas must have felt when he first saw Jesus and Jesus asks this question.  Faced with a phalanx of armed and hostile soldiers and temple officials, calmly asks a question designed to make them contemplate what they’re doing.  It appears that they (especially the officials from the temple) didn’t recognize him – which strikes me as strange since Jesus had been in Jerusalem many times.  He’d been very open in his teaching in the temple in the past.  But they don’t seem to recognize him even though he’d been in their midst often. 

It makes me wonder how often we fail to recognize Jesus.  It was Mother Theresa who once suggested that she did what she did because when she helped the poor and dying in the steaming streets of Calcutta that in their faces she saw Jesus in a distressing disguise.  Some people see Jesus often – in acts of love, compassion, mercy – others rarely, if ever see him or recognize him. 

But as haunting as that may be, the real question is plain, and it echoes through 2000 years and it is a question that we must answer today, because Jesus asks is.  “Who is it you want?”  What a great question!  Who is it that you really want?  Do you want Jesus?  Or do you want yourself?  Or do you want your own idea of what Jesus is? 

Those who Jesus called to himself in life were called in ways that we might find shocking – almost as if Jesus really didn’t want people to come to him.  Consider the rich young ruler – who was told that he had to sell everything he owned, give it to the poor, and then come follow Jesus.  Or the man who said he had to bury his father, but was told by Jesus to “let the dead bury the dead –  you, come follow me!”  But then he’s said it to all of us, hasn’t he: Take up your cross daily and follow me.  In each case, people have to decide who it is that they really want – do we want Jesus, the real Jesus, badly enough that we’re willing to take the challenge he puts before us with this question: “Who is it  you want?”

The question is just as valid today as when Jesus asked it in the garden of Gethsemane.  They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Yes, they wanted him, but not for a good purpose.  The question that Jesus didn’t ask them was why they wanted him.  He already knew.  But we need to ask the question of ourselves again: “Why do I want Jesus?  Do I want him so he’ll make me feel better about myself?  So that he’ll give me a home in heaven when I die?  So I’ll have a friend?”  Those are all things that Jesus can, and will do for us, but they are not the reason we should want him.  We should want Jesus because in the life of Christ is embodied the kingdom of God – the RULE of God – throughout the universe but especially in the human heart.  We should want Jesus because of Who He IS, and not what he can do for us.  That’s what it means when Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind…and then our neighbors as ourselves.  God does care about your eternal destiny, but He’s operating on a much greater scale than just individual hearts and minds.  He’s operating on a cosmic scale to reconcile everything to Himself again through Christ.  And that’s why we should want to find Jesus.

How can I tell who it is that I really want?  Probably the best way is to look at what things in life that I chase after.  How much time do I spend reading the word, praying, memorizing scripture, sharing my faith, in developing a relationship with Jesus instead of reading fantasy novels, watching TV, going to the movies, playing sports, shopping?  Time is perhaps the most precious thing we have – and how we spend it very clearly says something about our priorities and what is truly important to us.  And I need to test my motives for why I want him, too.  In both these areas, I must remember that I cannot fool Jesus – even though I may fool myself very well, thank you.  But when I finally do come face to face with Jesus, I’ll not be able to pretend – like the soldiers, I’ll fall backwards onto the ground with the perfect knowledge that he has seen through me, and always has.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to want you more than anything else in the universe.  Help us to want you for all the right reasons, and for none of the wrong ones.  Thank you for wanting us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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.

DayBreaks for 5/02/17 – Never Going Back

 

DayBreaks for 5/02/17: Never Going Back

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Remember the story in John 21 where Jesus appears on the shore and the disciples are out fishing?  This is the third time Jesus has appeared to his disciples (the first two were apparently in the sealed room).  It was still dark – early morning – for the best time to fish on the Sea of Galilee is night time.  The disciples have worked all night and caught nothing (as Michael Card noted in Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ, it was perhaps a good thing that Jesus called them away from fishing since they didn’t seem to be very good at it).  Jesus gives them directions and a miraculous catch of fish results.  At that point, John 21:7 tells us what happened: Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Why did Peter jump into the water?  By reading the rest of the chapter it is clear that he swam towards the shore.  Why not just stay in the boat and get there with the rest of the disciples?  Perhaps he felt he needed time alone with Christ to sort out his guilt and shame over having denied Jesus thrice.  Peter hadn’t had a chance to be alone with him (as John noted, it was his third appearance and both other times were in crowded groups that weren’t conducive to the intimate conversation that Peter needed to have with the Lord).  Peter wasn’t going to let a little cold water stand between him and getting things straightened out with Christ.  As Michael Card also noted, it is interesting that Peter didn’t swim the other way.  I think I would have been tempted to do so.  I wouldn’t have wanted to stand before the one I’d denied.  But Peter knew Jesus better than I do and he knew that Jesus would accept him.

Why did Peter put on his cloak before jumping in the water?  Let me ask you: how many of you put on your heavy coats before you jump into the pool?  We usually take clothes OFF before we jump into the pool – we don’t want to be weighed down with anything when we get in the water for fear we might become entangled or weary and drown.  Not so with Peter.  I don’t know for sure why he did this, but I have a hunch.  Here it is: I think at that instant in time, Peter (who just shortly before said, “I’m going fishing!” – perhaps indicating that he didn’t feel up to the challenge of being a fisherman of men), had made an irrevocable decision.  He’d decided that he was going to follow Jesus and that he was never, ever again going back to the boat.  That’s why he didn’t leave his cloak behind but took it with him.  By taking it with him, he had no reason to ever return to the boat.  But if he had left it in the boat, it would have been an excuse to “go back” and be tempted once again to forsake the call.

Like Peter, have you decided to not let cold water or past history stand between you and Jesus?  Have you cast yourself overboard into water that is over your head and swam to Jesus?  Have you taken everything with you so that you have no reason to turn back?  The things we leave behind may sing a siren song to lure us back to our old haunts and old ways of life.  Commit your future totally to him as Peter did, making sure that there is nothing to call you back to your old life!

PRAYER:  How cleverly we try to deceive you Lord.  We promise you over and over that we won’t do “that” sin anymore, but we cling to scraps and shards of it so that we have it nearby just in case we decide to go backwards.  Forgive us.  Empower us through your Spirit, let us leave the past behind us forever and move onward into a joyous eternity with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.  My mind would swim with images and imaginings of what it looked like, of the sounds of the roaring furnace, of the great king Nebuchadnezzar in all his finery as the music blared and the masses bowed down.  That is, they bowed down with the exception of three people: the Hebrew boys otherwise known as Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah. 

I always thought that this was a story about idolatry.  I’d always thought that the temptation they faced was to worship the golden idol of the Babylonian king.  After all, that’s how I remember the story from the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to help us “see” the stories.  It is only recently that I believe God opened my eyes to a more significant truth.  The story is about idolatry, all right, but the idol that the young men were being tempted to worship wasn’t really the 90-foot tall golden sculpture. 

No, the real test was one about worship.  What would be worshipped?  They’d been taught as Jewish children that “the Lord our God is One” and that “No one is like the Lord our God.”  They knew full well that He was the only One who was worthy of worship.  The idol that these boys were confronted with – and which they were tempted to bow down and worship – was themselves, their earthly lives.  If they worshipped the idol, they’d save their lives – if they didn’t, they might lose their lives.

Would these three young men be wise enough to recognize which was the greater danger: to die in a fiery furnace, or to worship and esteem something else (even if it is your physical life) higher than the worship of God is idolatry?

We are our own greatest idol.  We need to cast aside the idol of self that leads us to hoard money, love, compassion, wisdom, possessions, pleasures.  Even if it comes to laying down our lives in order to worship God, doesn’t God have a right to ask that of us?  Of course He does. 

Do you recognize your own self-worship and idolatry?  Every time we choose our way, our dreams, our own joys rather than His, we are bowing down to the idol of self-worship.

PRAYER:  Father, help us to recognize our idolatry and our self worship.  Give us the wisdom to be able to discern the greatest danger – the danger of not giving you the worship and glory that you alone deserve.  Tear down our idols of self-interest that we may be true worshippers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.