DayBreaks for 9/25/17 – From Coward to Courage

DayBreaks for 9/25/17: From Coward to Courage

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado: “During the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion.  Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter’s death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln.  The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon.  The soldier returned to service, fought the entirety of the war, and was killed in the last battle.  Found within his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president.”

Application:

What a poignant story.  A soldier running from duty, most likely because of fear.  Captured, caught, condemned to die, he pleads for mercy – an appeal of the sentence that would have caused him to be hanged and remembered as a coward.  The plea lands on the desk of the commander in chief.  And mercy flowed down to a man who didn’t deserve it. 

We’ve all needed a pardon from time to time.  Just as with the soldier who had exhausted every appeal, except to the commander in chief, we were out of appeals, too. Like him, if our Commander in Chief hadn’t granted mercy, death was certain.  The case had been heard already and sentence passed.  This was the only hope left. 

What touched the heart of president Lincoln?  I don’t know.  By offering a pardon, others might desert when the times got tough and hope for a similar pardon.  Some of the generals were no doubt angry about the president’s pardon – after all, discipline must be maintained in a military organization.  They probably felt he was soft, or too old, or just to tired to think straight and make a good decision.

Imagine the relief and happiness in the heart of the soldier when he heard the president’s decision!  He was free.  He could have gone home.  Who would want him in their unit when the chips were down?  But instead of running home, he ran back to the front lines and fought for the rest of the war, only to be killed in the last battle of that great conflict.  What happened?  He was touched by the president’s act of grace.  His pardon was so precious to him that it changed his life.  He carried his pardon with him the rest of his days.   

The grace of Christ has caused men and women to do strange and heroic things.  To die singing songs of praise, to willingly submit their necks to the noose, their bodies to the flames, or their heads to the sword.  The grace of Christ turned Peter from a denier and coward to a martyr.  The grace of Christ empowered Thomas the doubter to be skinned alive (according to tradition).  The grace of Christ empowered 160,000 Christians around the world last year to say “Jesus Christ is Lord!” before their lives were offered as martyrs.

Have you found courage in the grace of Christ?  Has it changed your life forever?  Tell someone about it.  Don’t run from the battle – run to it.  The cause of Christ will move forward.  He’s looking for good soldiers who will, if necessary, die knowing their pardon has been established by the Commander in Chief.  This IS the call of the Master to us.  What will your answer be?

PRAYER:  Father, make us bold because of our thankfulness of what You’ve done for us!  Thank You for pardoning us and calling us into Your service!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/04/17 – Caleb and Courageus Conviction, #2

DayBreaks for 7/04/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #2

There are some key statements in Joshua 14:7-8 (NLT) – Joshua 14:7-8 (NLT) – I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the LORD, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.

First, there is a contrast: 1) Caleb claims that he gave an honest report on his return – a claim that could seem to be full of braggadocio if not for the fact that history proved his words to be true; 2) the 10 spies gave a contrary report – with the truly deadly result being the frightening of the people that in turn led to them all, save Caleb and Joshua, dying in the desert sands of the Sinai peninsula.

The second thing I want to point out is the effect the two varying reports had. Caleb’s report was dismissed, seemingly out of hand, because it would mean warfare to proceed. The 10 spies report only capitalized on those fears and scared the people. Caleb again declares his devotion to God and trust in Him to accomplish the delivery of the Promised Land to Israel.

Today is the 4th of July here in America – our country’s 241st birthday. Not many countries have lasted that long. Part of the reason it’s survived is because of the courage of the men and women who stood up for their convictions. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult (and dangerous) to do so.

It is always right to give an honest report. It pays dividends – it certainly did for Joshua and Caleb – they lived to set foot in the Promised Land as a result.

Today, stop and think about what kind of report you are giving these days. Do your words spell doom and gloom? Do they strike fear, anxiety and distrust in the hearts and minds of others? Satan is a coward and those that follow him are cowards. It takes strong men and women to take a stand, but just as God rewarded Joshua and Caleb, He will always reward those who give “an honest report”.

What you say and how you say it can make the difference in how others live – and in some cases, even in whether they live or not. Being bold in the truth is important. We need more people to take a stand for truth in our churches, families, schools and various levels of government. Will you be one of them?

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to be the reason someone become frightened when confronted with what I say. I want to speak truth lovingly – but without wavering. Help all Your children to be as bold as Caleb and may we see Your blessing as a result. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/03/17 – Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #1

The hill country of Israel.

DayBreaks for 7/03/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #1

I heard an interesting sermon on Sunday about conviction, and I thought that some of the points were worth sharing, so there’ll be several DayBreaks about it this week.

First, a bit of background. You recall the story of the spies who were sent into the Promised Land to spy out the land. Twelve were sent – and twelve returned, but there were radically different reports given by two of the spies named Joshua and Caleb. We normally think of Joshua as having been the older because he became the leader, however in Joshua 14, we learn that Caleb was 40 years old at the time he went into the land to spy on the Canaanites. Most believe Joshua was perhaps 17-25 at the time, though we don’t know for sure.

What prompted Joshua and Caleb to come back with a different report? That’s a good question. There is a rabbinic tradition that says that one night while they spies were in the land, Caleb arose in the darkness and traveled to Hebron (where the giant descendants of Anak lived) and went into the cave where Abraham and the patriarchs were buried (Numbers 13 does say they went to Hebron.) While there at the cave, he had an encounter with the God of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph that filled him with the conviction about God’s promise to the patriarchs that the land of Palestine was to be theirs.

I don’t know about the veracity of that rabbinical legend, but something stirred Caleb’s heart with conviction. In Joshua 14 starting with verse six, Caleb, at this time a man of 85 and most likely the oldest man in Israel (since only Joshua and Caleb who were alive when Israel left Egypt survived the wilderness wandering)  approached Joshua. Because he was the oldest man in Israel, people would listen to him. And he reminds Joshua about what the Lord told Moses about Joshua and Caleb 40-45 years earlier. Basically, Caleb reminds Joshua about how Moses had promised him the land on which Caleb had just walked.

Here’s the point for today: Caleb came back from the spying mission ready to go to war and take possession of the land. If you read his report he is full of courageous conviction about the ability of Israel to take the land. But ten of the spies reported that the band of spies were like grasshoppers to the giants in Palestine.

Therein, you see, is the problem. They were convicted that the people of the land saw them as tiny, puny and weak. But, at various points in the story, we are told that the people of Palestine were shut up in their cities because of fear of the Israelites. The ten spies were convicted and convinced by what they believe the inhabitants of the land thought of them. Joshua and Caleb (and Caleb seems to be the spokesman for the two of the spies who brought back a favorable report) was convicted and convinced by what God had said and promised.

Maybe you need to think about what you believe about yourself. You may think that you are weak, insignificant, powerless, puny and tiny because someone in your past has mocked and ridiculed you to no end. You may have yielded to the whispering of Satan in your ear that you’re too small and weak and sinful to ever be strong and courageous.

Who are you going to listen to? What others (including Satan) have said about you, or to what God says about you when He calls you His child, His beloved, that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? Where will your conviction come from?

PRAYER: God, I thank You for courageous people like Caleb who remembered Your promises in the face of 6:1 odds and who stood on the courage of his convictions about Your faithfulness. For all those who are being convicted by the words others may say about them, I pray that they will hear Your words of love and worth when they are under attack and that they will be convicted by what You say, and not what anyone else says. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/28/17 – Held Captive

DayBreaks for 6/28/17: Held Captive

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

Now I would like to stop the world for just one minute and ask you to think back. Think back with me to the first century. Think about those 50 years after Jesus’ death and what it must been like for Jesus’ disciples. Before the last one died their efforts had brought 500,000 men, women, and children into the ranks of the church. But what they had to suffer in order to accomplish this task is seldom discussed. We like the outcome of their discipleship but we don’t want to hear the cost of discipleship. So for the record here is the cost: History tells us…
1. John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the East Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.)
12. Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
What sacrifices! And I ask you why? Why did they choose to die this way? Why desert your father and mother, your wife and child, and your home? Why put up with the constant humiliation, and hunger, and persecution, and defeat town after town after town?
I’ll tell you why, because, in the words of Apostle Paul, they were held captive by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s way of saying they were slaves to Christ. But this wasn’t a begrudging slavery – they were so thankful that this master had set them free from their former captor – that they considered it a privilege and honor to be His slave.
1 Timothy 2:4-6a (MSG) – He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out.

Romans 1:1 (MSG) I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the Christians in Rome, God’s friends.

The question that haunts me is: how do I feel about being a slave of Jesus? Does it stir my soul as it did that of the first disciples? If not, why?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you freed us. Stir in our hearts the same passion that ignited the imaginations and actions of those you chose in the first century that we might be held captive by You and nothing else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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.